( Missing scenes from 'Hostage')
By Christine 'Tina' Spassione
c. November 2000
Officer Peter J. Malloy entered Duke's Longhorn Café on the corner of 5th Street and Pine. Malloy and his partner, James A. Reed, had just cleared for Code 7 at Duke's, one of his favorite stops. As he entered, Malloy was greeted by the sounds of yelling and gunfire. Instinctively, Malloy reached for his gun. Before he could take cover and fire back, he was hit in the shoulder and fell to the floor. Malloy was immediately knocked unconscious, unaware of being taken hostage. Duke, his girlfriend, and Stony, a longtime patron of the restaurant, were taken hostage with him.
Bernie Ryan and Vince Warren had escaped from prison 12 hours earlier and were determined never to return. Although both were trigger-happy, Vince shot Malloy. Vince retrieved Malloy's gun and handed it off to Bernie. Duke's girlfriend, worried that the officer had not stirred at all since taking the bullet, was allowed to bandage the wound, but no more. Bernie and Vince had nothing to lose by preventing the officer from getting help...
Officer Reed, buying a newspaper from the machine across the street, glanced over at his partner as he entered the restaurant. As Reed reached into the machine to grab the paper, the sounds of gunfire rang out from the direction of the restaurant. He reflexively ran back to the squad car for cover and tried to take aim at the shooter, but one of the suspects fired off a round at him, preventing him from further action. He radioed dispatch for back up and a supervisor with a teargas kit.
Reed, nervous but of necessity taking charge of the situation until his supervisor arrived, resigned himself to reluctantly sit and wait the outcome of the scene...
Pete Malloy, a tall and strong Irishman with the most inviting green eyes, crashed heavily on the asphalt, his left hand keeping him balanced as he tried to ease himself down. He was extremely weakened from the gunshot wound to his right shoulder. Several hours passed since he was first hit, and the time left untreated was catching up to him now.
Pete's strawberry blonde hair shone brightly in the midday sun, in contrast to the eerie gray pallor masking his face. He was sweating and lethargic - just able to walk on his own to the spot where he now perched after Detective Gus Baron had finally gotten the drop on Bernie, allowing Pete to escape his grasp.
As his partner approached him with the greatest look of worry and concern, Pete noticed SWAT surrounding the area - up on the rooftops, behind the parked cars. He watched as Detective Baron and his fellow officers handcuffed the man who had held him hostage for hours.
What a foolish, desperate man, Pete thought as he watched the scene, which now seemed so surreal to him. He should've thought more about what he was doing. He should've known he couldn't make it...
"How you feeling? You okay?" Jim asked, kneeling over his partner.
Jim touched Pete's good shoulder in support - his touch was light yet strong. But Pete noticed Jim's hands were also trembling. Pete mentioned nothing, trying to concentrate on getting a response out of his mouth to make his partner stop worrying.
Pete was breathing heavily, pained, "Yeah. Hey. It's good to see you."
"It's good to see you, too," Jim said, concern showing in his caring eyes - the same eyes that usually told his partner if he was happy, upset or brooding over something he didn't want to talk about.
Pete looked away from Jim a moment to watch as the officers steered Bernie away in handcuffs, Gus keeping a watchful eye on the scene. "Thanks, Gus," he said sincerely, knowing the man just helped save his life.
"Any time," Gus smiled back. He left Pete's care to Jim and followed the officers to the cruiser.
After a brief moment, Pete turned back to Jim.
Pete's breathing was very labored. Speaking deliberately, "Hey. Those ignition wires." He paused to catch his breath. "Did you guys really pull 'em?"
"What do you think?" Jim returned, with a hint of sarcasm in his voice.
Pete looked up at his partner, knowing full well that the wires on neither car had been pulled.
"Hey! Get that stretcher over here!" Jim motioned to the ambulance attendants.
Pete glanced toward the direction of the ambulance. "Uh-uh...No s-stretcher..." Pete put his hand up to Jim, wanting to get to the ambulance on his own. Pete's stubbornness was now showing its face.
"Okay. No stretcher." Jim winked at Pete and motioned to the approaching attendants to hold off.
Jim tried to lift Pete under his left arm, but Pete was just about dead weight. In addition to the blood loss and the time left untreated, Pete hadn't eaten all day. That meant his blood sugar was very low, which compounded the weakness. Jim sat him back down on the ground and kneeled down next to him.
"It's no good, Pete. You're just too exhausted - I can't lift you on my own. I'll get the guys to bring over the stretcher."
"I said...no s-stretcher, Jim. I can make it..."
Pete tried to get up on his own this time. Before he could move even a few inches, he became lightheaded from the exertion. His right shoulder felt like someone set it on fire with a torch, yet he was so cold that chills constantly descended his spine. The voices around him - all very concerned voices - were beginning to swirl around in his head. He couldn't make them out. The only voice he could discern was his partner's. His world was growing dark and spinning, like he was on one of those amusement park rides he refused to go on...
Jim caught Pete by his good arm again, easing him down slowly on the ground. "Hey, easy," he said to Pete. He called out to the ambulance attendants again, "Bring the stretcher over! He won't make it!"
"Jim..." Pete started, very agitated.
Jim smiled, waving his finger at Pete like he was reprimanding a little child. "Sorry, Pete. No more driving today."
Pete grinned weakly, knowing Jim was right. It was time for him to admit defeat...he hurt too much.
"I-I hate hospitals..."
"No kidding! I wouldn't have guessed!" Jim smiled even bigger this time. Pete not only hated being in a hospital, but also despised the thought of even driving near one.
"Can you move to the side, Officer? We need to get in here to help him," one of the attendants stated, trying to be professional without disturbing the discussion.
"Sure, sure." Jim moved off to the right. "I'm right here, partner," he called, from his new location.
"T-Thanks..." Pete replied quietly as his reality grew darker...
Jim again resigned himself to just watch as the ambulance attendants did their work: first checking Pete's vitals, then placing an oxygen mask on him to help him breath. They inspected the bandages that Duke's girlfriend had wrapped around the wound earlier and left them in place. They carefully lifted Pete onto the stretcher and covered him with blankets to keep him warm. The attendants buckled the belts attached to the gurney to secure him.
"Jim," a voice called out, quickly approaching.
"Ride over with Pete and give the doctors his information," Sergeant William MacDonald said, placing a firm hand on Jim's shoulder. "Then you won't have to worry about how he's doing."
Mac, as his colleagues fondly regarded the Sergeant, had an uncanny way of being thoughtful yet directive. Jim truly appreciated it right now.
"Thanks, Mac. Umm...who'll drive the car back to the station?" he asked, rubbing his hand through his short-cropped hair.
"Let me worry about that, okay? I'll be at the hospital when this is all cleared. Hang tight - he'll be fine."
"Don't mention it. Listen, if you need to talk, find me. Okay?"
Jim followed the stretcher to the ambulance. The attendants took caution not to bump the stretcher into the ambulance doors. Once Pete was loaded, Jim scrambled in behind, followed by one of the attendants. The other attendant got into the driver's seat and started the vehicle.
Mac secured the doors and pounded on the door, signaling the driver that all was secure in the back. The ambulance started out with a screech of its tires, the wail of the siren piercing the souls of all those scattered around the scene.
Pete's voice sounded very disoriented as the ambulance sped down the street on its way to Central Receiving Hospital. He tried to lift his head up to see where he was. His head pounded and felt very heavy. He thought he had passed out for days when only three minutes had passed. Someone gently pushed his head back down onto the stretcher - he couldn't make out who it was.
"Hey, don't talk right now. I'm here with you." Jim placed a reassuring hand on Pete's head to help Pete locate where his partner was in the vehicle.
"Wh-where am I? Where?"
"You're in the ambulance, Pete. We're almost at the hospital. You're going to be fine."
"Oh...I-I'm cold...so c-cold..."
"Take it easy, Officer Malloy. We don't want you to overexert yourself right now," said the attendant sitting in the back with them. Pete focused his eyes hard and was able to make out the name "Reilly" printed on the man's nametag.
Pete laid he head back on the pillow willingly, as he saw blurry hues of blue and green flash past the windows of the shadowed ambulance. He couldn't move his right arm and he was freezing. He wanted to stay awake, to see what was happening around him. But, his world closed in around him again, as he heard the siren wail faded into the darkness...
"...Bring him into Treatment Room 2..."
"...Clear the area. Nurse? His vitals?"
"...BP is 140 over 95...pulse is..."
What's going on? Who's there? What's all this noise? It's too bright...too cold... Where's Jim? Mac?
"Take it easy, Office Malloy. We'll give you something for the pain shortly. Officer Reed, how long was he left untreated?"
Pete could hear the beginnings of a brief conversation - the conversation was about him, but didn't include him.
"Two to three hours, I guess. The waitress tried to stop the bleeding best she could, given the circumstances. They didn't give him a blanket or anything to keep him warm."
"Julie. I need a type and cross match. Get five units up to OR-4. Officer Reed, thank you. Please, if you will step outside? Nurse, please escort Officer Reed to the waiting area."
"Okay, doctor. This way, please."
Jim? Jim! Come back. What's happening? Geez...Is this the hospital? I hate this place. I really hate it...
After two long hours of waiting, the doctor emerged from OR-4 and walked toward the waiting area. He spotted Jim alone and approached quietly, so as not to scare him. Jim was asleep, sitting straight up with a magazine in his hands.
He also noticed another person in uniform standing quietly by the window. This person had stripes on his upper uniform sleeve. He kept glancing over at the younger officer.
"Sergeant?" the doctor called quietly.
"MacDonald. Sergeant MacDonald. I'm Officer Malloy's Watch Commander."
Mac had finally arrived at the hospital an hour after Pete went into surgery. The detectives had taken over on the scene and relieved Mac. He wanted to check on Pete and wait for the Lieutenant to arrive.
"Thanks. I'm Doctor Alex Toth. I treated Officer Malloy when he came into the ER."
"Good," Mac said, glancing over at Jim sleeping in the chair. "Let me wake his partner before you tell me how he is. He'll want to know."
Mac walked over to Jim and poked his arm a few times. When he finally received a groan in return, he knew the younger officer was awake.
"M-Mac. Hey...what's up?" Jim asked groggily.
"Jim, this is Doctor Toth. He just came out here to tell us how Pete's doing."
Jim scrambled to his feet with a start. The magazine he had in his hands dropped to the floor. "Oh, Doctor. We met earlier."
"Yeah. Won't you both sit down?" The doctor motioned for them both to take a seat near where Jim had slept. As they all sat down, more officers in blue uniforms begin to filter into the waiting area.
"How is he?" Mac asked.
"Officer Malloy will be just fine. The bullet lodged itself in the shoulder joint, but lodged in such a way that we were able to get it out without making the damage worse. We had an orthopedic surgeon come in to help with the surgery. Sometimes removing a bullet from a major joint makes the injury worse, so we wanted a specialist present. Everything looks fine at this point. He won't be able to use his arm or shoulder for a while. What concerns me most at the moment is the amount of blood he lost before he received treatment. We gave him a couple of transfusions during surgery, so he should be looking better soon. He's pretty weak, but with enough rest, he'll be able to make a full recovery."
"Will he be able to return to work?" Mac had to ask this question out of formality.
"Absolutely. However, it'll take some time. To regain full movement in his shoulder, he'll have to go through some physical therapy first. So, I'd expect he'll be on desk duty for a while-"
"Great - he gets to lounge while I get a different partner."
"Don't worry about it right now, Jim." Mac smiled briefly at Jim. "Doctor, about how long will he be out?"
"I'm going to estimate about 6-8 weeks for him to get back working the desk. But, of course, that all depends on how hard he works to recover. From what I can tell, he really doesn't like being in hospitals. He'll probably work hard to get back much sooner."
"I'm sure he will. He can be very stubborn when he wants something," Mac replied.
"I gathered that. Anyway, that's my first guess right now. I'll be able to give you a better time frame over the next few days, when he's alert. We're moving him to a private room shortly." Motioning to the crowd that had increased since he came out of emergency to speak with Jim and Mac, he said, "I figured a private room would be best, considering Officer Malloy's apparent popularity."
"Thanks, doc. When can we see him?" Jim asked, obviously impatient to see his friend's condition for himself.
"In about ten to fifteen minutes. I'll send a nurse for you both when he's settled." Dr. Toth began to walk away, but suddenly turned back in their direction. "He really needs his rest, so I'd suggest only you two tonight. Okay?"
"Sure. Thanks, doc, for everything," Mac said very sincerely.
"Don't mention it. We'd do anything for the officers who risk their lives to protect us."
Dr. Toth walked off, calling to a nurse to prepare to move Pete to his room. As he left, Mac called over all of the officers who'd come to the hospital to support their colleague. He wanted to give everyone the good news. He noticed out of the corner of his eye how tired and haggard Jim was beginning to look but set aside his worry for the moment to make his announcement.
"Okay, listen up! The doctor just said Pete's going to be fine. He'll just be out of commission for a while. Unfortunately, no one can visit tonight. Only Reed and I can stay. I'd suggest everyone head home and stop in sometime tomorrow when he's coherent. Sorry folks. All right, get movin'. I'll let him know you were all here."
Mac made a shooing motion to the officers in the waiting area, as he listened to their mumbles about being sent home.
"And, thanks..." he called out to the group as they filtered out of the hospital. He'll appreciate the support.
After the officers reluctantly said their goodnights, Lieutenant Val Moore arrived. Mac filled him in on Pete's condition. Satisfied with Pete's condition, Moore decided to leave as well and return in the early morning when Pete was awake.
Jim and Mac were left alone in the waiting area. Jim looked pale and exhausted, which really didn't surprise Mac. Jim had been through a lot today, too.
"Jim? You okay?"
"Fine, Mac. Just fine."
"You call your wife to let her know where you are?"
"Yeah. When I got here."
After his terse response, Jim stared in the other direction. Mac sensed that something was on Jim's mind. And didn't look like he wanted to talk about it.
Mac studied Jim, growing concerned about his detachment. Pete often reported back that Jim had a tendency to brood over things for quite a long time. His brooding would take days, sometimes weeks, to overcome. He couldn't allow that to happen now.
Mac sat down next to Jim and began to talk to him in a calm and strong way. "Jim. What's eating at you?"
"Jim, I hate to tell you this, but your reputation precedes you," Mac stated matter-of-factly, a glimmer in his eye.
"Pete's told me about your brooding sessions. So, I can tell something's bothering you right now. You might as well tell me what it is before I have you flying the desk for a while too." Mac's voice had hardened into his seldom-used but unmistakable tone that meant business. He wanted to know what was bothering Jim - and he wanted it right now.
Jim rubbed his face with his hands, trying to clear his head. "All right, Mac."
"Hey... why don't I get us some coffee first? It might calm you."
Mac got up from his chair and went over to the coffee machine on the far wall in the waiting area. He poured two cups, putting creamer and sugar in one while leaving the other black. He walked back in Jim's direction.
"Here, Jim," he said, handing Jim the black coffee.
Mac sat back down in the same chair. He leaned toward Jim. "Okay, let's have it."
"Mac. It's just that I - I felt so useless today. Here I was, standing outside the restaurant, knowing full well that Pete was shot. I should've been in there with him - not waiting outside."
Mac could see that Jim was beginning to get angry. He had no time to get angry earlier, so now was just as good a time as any. Jim's fists were clenching so hard his knuckles were turning white.
"Jim, you were getting a newspaper. How could you know this was about to happen? Besides, you did all the right things - you called in to dispatch, cleared the adjoining streets and buildings, and helped set up the command post. He got out alive and no one else was hurt, in part to you. Let it go."
"I can't, Mac. If I'd been inside with him, I could've bargained with them to release Pete. I could've been the hostage instead. Maybe he wouldn't be so bad right now-"
"Jim, Pete's injuries would've been the same, no matter what you could've done differently."
"Maybe I could've pushed him out of the way-"
"And you would've been shot instead. Think of your wife and son."
"You really think you could've reacted faster? You're forgetting that Pete has seven years more experience than you do. He's been through more than one ambush before. If he couldn't figure out there was a problem the second he stepped through that door, there would've been no way you could do any better.
"Besides, they were desperate - they needed an ideal hostage, one that the police would never risk getting killed. You know damn well that they'd get much farther with holding Pete instead of you. An injured cop is more effective than one who is strong and can take them out. Jim, what's done is done. He's going to be back in no time and the suspects are back in jail. He needs our support, not our brooding. Let it go."
Just as Jim was ready to respond back, the doctor stepped into the room.
"He's all settled." Looking around the empty room, he said, "What happened to 'standing room only'?"
"I gave them the good news and sent them home. Don't worry, the contingent will be back to see him in the morning."
"Thanks, Sergeant. Let me bring you up." Dr. Toth stopped short and grew a little serious, "Listen, he's going to look worse than his condition really is right now. Don't be alarmed when you first see him. He's hooked up to a few machines - for monitoring only. His shoulder's heavily bandaged. And, his coloring is still rather gray."
"Thanks for the warning," Jim whispered.
"He's asleep. Between the anesthesia and the painkillers, he'll be out till at least morning. On the outside chance he does wake up, he'll be very disoriented and someone should be there to help him. So, feel free to stay tonight. There's more than enough room."
"Thanks - I just might..." Jim mumbled.
"We'll see how tired you are, Jim," Mac replied, looking squarely in Jim's direction. Jim knew better than to pursue it further right now.
The three men left the room and walked in silence to the elevators going up to Pete's room.
The men approached Pete's door in silence. Jim hesitated and let a sigh escape.
"Jim, it's okay to be nervous - you've never seen your partner wounded before," Mac directed him, placing a reassuring hand on his shoulder.
"I just don't what to expect," Jim replied softly.
"Neither do I, Jim," Mac confided.
The doctor opened the door and men entered the room silently.
The room was dark save for the dim lights mounted on the wall above the beds. The room smelled clean, sterile. The first bed was unoccupied, while a person lay still in the bed closest to the window. As Mac and Jim approached the bed, they were taken aback by what Pete looked like, despite the warning from the doctor.
Pete lay very still - only his chest moved as he breathed. Jim took notice of how easy it was for Pete to breathe now, considering what he sounded like a few hours before. Pete had various tubes and wires running to his body, some administering medications and fluids, others keeping track of his vitals. As the doctor indicated earlier, he still looked very pale. His right shoulder was completely bandaged, making it impossible for him to move his arm for a while. He didn't stir, even with the additional people in his room.
"He's going to be fine. Really. Stay as long as you like. Call the nurse if you need anything. I'll be around as well."
"Thanks, Doc," Mac replied as he watched the doctor leave the room. "You okay, Jim?"
"Yeah. He just looks..."
"Worse than you expected? I know - I was thinking the same thing."
"It's not surprising. He was in Duke's for a long time."
"Yeah, too long."
Approaching Jim, Mac said, "Let me take you home. I'll come back and stay tonight. You can return in the morning when you're rested."
"But I have Day Watch tomorrow-"
"Jim, as of a half hour ago, you don't. I asked the Lieutenant to give you an admin day tomorrow and he agreed. You've been through a lot today, worrying about Pete and trying to get him out alive. You need time to clear your head."
"But, I'm fine," Jim said, starting to get a little annoyed.
"You're not fine. I can hear it in your voice - you're tired and still upset with yourself."
"All right - tomorrow off. But, please - let me stay tonight. I need to be here."
"Is it okay with Jean?"
"It's fine...she's worried about him too and thought someone should be with him."
"Okay. But I want you home tomorrow morning to rest," Mac said, holding a finger up to Jim to emphasize his point.
"Listen, before we sit here any longer-"
"We?" Jim glanced at Mac.
"Yes, we. You didn't think I was leaving, did you? He's my friend, too."
"Anyway, let's go downstairs and get something to eat. You must be starving."
"I'm not hungry."
"Yes, you are - your stomach is announcing it to the both of us. We'll eat and then come right back."
"You win again."
They walked to the door, toward the elevators leading to the cafeteria.
The cafeteria was quiet, except for a light murmur from the back corner of the room where a few nurses were catching up on the hospital's gossip. Time passed very quickly since Pete was brought in, and it was now 10:30 p.m. Official visiting hours had been over for more than two hours, so most of those in the cafeteria were hospital staff. The officers, still in uniform, were pleased to have the place so peaceful - their day had been filled with enough commotion.
Jim and Mac approached the food area and pondered what to eat. The variety was surprisingly vast - they were reloading for the morning. Mac grabbed a turkey sandwich and an apple. Jim's selection was not quite as healthy.
"Geez, Jim! It's no wonder you're so thin - you're wife mustn't feed you!" Mac gawked at what was on Jim's tray: two sandwiches, a chocolate chip cookie, Jell-O with a pile of whipped cream and chocolate milk. "You're going to eat all that?"
"Well...you wanted me to eat, right?"
"Yeah - but I don't want you having a heart attack! One half of Adam-12 in the hospital is all I can handle at one time!"
"Oh, Mac. Trust me - I'll eat it! I promise...no heart attack. Besides, I've found I'm hungry after all."
"Good - and thanks for not wasting food. It's no wonder Pete's been complaining he's gained weight. He's probably gaining the weight from watching you eat!"
"He's just jealous," Jim smiled.
"Well, so am I!"
Jim's mood lightened temporarily after the banter. He appeared to relax. They ate in silence for a while, until Mac spoke again.
"You feelin' better?"
"Yeah, I think so," Jim said. "But, I still can't seem to get out of my head that I should've been there to help him. I understand what you're trying to tell me, but this doesn't feel right. He shouldn't be in that room recovering." Jim looked at what was left on his tray and pushed it away.
"I can honestly tell you that it doesn't happen often, at least to this extent anyway. It's an experience that's very rough to go through and there are hundreds of 'what ifs' or 'should haves' that go through your head after it's over. Like, 'what if I was a few seconds faster' or 'should I have done something differently.' But, you can't keep mulling it over - you'll drive yourself insane."
"Has this happened to you?"
"No. I'm very fortunate...the only injuries my partners, like me, ever received were the occasional cut, bruise or broken limb of some sort. Never anything this bad."
"But I know someone who's dealt with much worse."
"How about Sleeping Beauty in that room upstairs?" Mac motioned to the upper floors of the hospital.
"Yeah, Mac. But, that's an issue that's rarely up for discussion with him. You remember he almost chewed my head off the first night on patrol over it."
"Sure he did...but he was back only 3 weeks after it happened. You have to understand that Pete was close with his partner - Pete trained him and trusted him completely. When he was gunned down, a part of Pete went with him. It takes time and strength to rebuild after that. It's just taken Pete a little longer than some."
"Well, he's certainly not as short with me as he used to be."
"He's beginning to trust you, Jim. You're making good judgements out on the street, so he's noticing you're more than capable on the job."
"Well, I'm sure I threw that trust right out the door today." Jim sighed and began to wrap up what was left of his food.
"I don't think that's the case," Mac reassured Jim. "I have a feeling he'll tell you quite the opposite."
"Okay, let's go over it again. You went to get a paper. It's your normal thing to do. Right?"
"Well, yeah. I almost always get the paper to read during lunch."
"So, why would he be angry with you over something you do practically every day on watch? He'll tell you what's important is how you reacted to the situation. How did you attempt to resolve it and help your partner?" Mac leaned in closer, "Jim, what you did after you realized Pete was shot is the most important thing. You jumped into action, notified us, cleared innocent people out of the way, and made sure the situation didn't get any worse. Pete would be very proud. You handled yourself professionally and helped to get him out, alive."
"But anyone else could've done that-"
"No, they couldn't. You're beginning to understand how your partner thinks and reacts. You knew what he'd want us to do - and you did just that: no more, no less. The situation didn't escalate - no one else was shot or injured. You did some great police work out there." Mac looked Jim squarely in the eye. "Don't shortchange yourself."
"Then why do I still feel this way? Why do I still feel so rotten that he's in that room, in pain and out of work for weeks?"
"Because, Jim. You're human."
Jim looked over at Mac with a blank stare on his face.
Mac shifted the discussion slightly. "Listen, I'm sorry if I sounded cold to you earlier. I overlooked the fact that you've never been through this before - having your partner get shot and almost killed."
"Yeah." Jim looked down at the floor.
"No one can't expect to be Superman out there. Believe me, we've all tried at one point or another and it almost always ends badly."
"Like Ed Wells?"
"I think you'll feel better once Pete's awake and you have a chance to talk. I have a feeling if you ask, he'll tell you more about his partner now."
"You think so?"
"Yeah. Pete's a very private person - he doesn't like people prying into his business unless he wants them to. Since some time has passed and he's beginning to trust you, he's likely to talk more about it - especially now that this has happened. You have some common ground now. Besides, he'll probably worry that you're going to brood over it for a year and he'll want to talk about it."
"Pete Malloy - Lesson #203."
Mac began to laugh hard. "Yep. He's full of 'em. I can picture it now: Pete sitting in the driver's seat, lecturing you on not trying to be a 'supercop'... "
A look of true relief washed over Jim's young face.
"Jim, why don't you finish up what you've got there and we'll head back upstairs."
They continued to sit in the cafeteria for another half-hour in silence. Jim finished his food and they quietly made their way upstairs again to wait for Pete to regain consciousness.
9:10 am. Everyone was so concerned about Pete's condition the night before that no one remembered to shut the blinds in the room. Now the morning sun streamed brightly in and warmed the room.
Mac, who opted to sleep in the reclining chair next to Pete's bed, awoke half-blinded by the light that was shining directly on his chair. Rubbing his eyes, he got up and closed the blinds, hoping that neither the noise nor the light would wake either man in the room - they both needed the rest.
Mac sat back down and stretched. He suddenly became aware of the pair of eyes watching his movement about the room.
"Hey. Welcome back, Pete."
"T-Thanks, I think." Pete's speech was noticeably slurred and labored, apparently still under the effects of the anesthesia. In an attempt to get more comfortable, Pete tried to move, but the bandaging on his right shoulder and arm made it impossible. Pete cringed as a quick shot of pain ran from his shoulder down through his arm.
"Don't try to move, Pete. I'll get the doctor for you."
As Mac went to stand, Pete's left hand shot out and caught Mac's arm. Nodding towards the other bed, occupied by his partner for most of the night, Pete whispered, "How's he holding up, Mac?" Pete seemed to be more concerned about his partner than himself at the moment.
Mac came in closer. He whispered much like Pete did a few seconds before. "He's okay. He took it pretty hard, especially after you were brought up to surgery and he had time to think about what happened. He's better now, but I think you two will need to talk."
"Scared him, didn't I?" Pete asked, concentrating on not slurring his words. An apologetic look washed over his face, which was almost back to his normal coloring.
"Yeah, I'd say that. But, he handled himself like a real pro. You've taught him very well in such a short time. He really took charge when it first went down and made sure the situation didn't grow worse."
"That's good to hear," Pete grinned briefly. He attempted to shift his position again, "Geez...I can't get c-comfortable."
"I'll get the doctor. Sit tight, okay?"
"Do I have a choice?" Pete looked a little aggravated, knowing he'll probably have to stay in the hospital for a longer period of time than he ever wanted to be.
Mac gave Pete a reassuring smile and turned toward the door. Pete glanced over at Jim again. He was still asleep and didn't hear the conversation.
Sorry to put you though this, partner...
"Good morning, Officer Malloy," Dr. Toth greeted Pete.
"P-Please. Call me Pete."
"Sure, Pete. How you feeling this morning?"
Before Pete could answer, the nurse he'd seen and hoped to meet during the past couple of trips to Central Receiving came in to check his vitals. His mood noticeably lightened - he smiled at her, now appreciating being in the hospital.
"Okay, I guess. I just can't stop s-slurring my words."
"That's the anesthesia still wearing off. You'll be talking clearly within the next few hours."
Jim stirred as the amount of voices grew in the room.
"Pete? You awake?" Jim sat up on the other bed, looking over to see Pete's eyes open, looking at him.
"Yeah," Pete replied, still rather weak.
"Well. It's good to see you awake, Pete."
After the brief reunion, Doctor Toth spoke. "Okay, folks. I need to check his shoulder now. Since everyone's awake, would you mind waiting outside for a few minutes?"
"Sure," Mac said, motioning to Jim to do the same. "We'll wait outside."
"Thanks. We only need to change the dressing - it won't take long."
As the were leaving the room, Mac and Jim heard the beginning of the conversation starting in the room...
"...You're a popular guy, Pete. You sure had a large crowd here last night."
"Really? That's always good to hear...Was an Officer W-Wells here?"
Before they could listen any more to the conversation, they noticed all the men from watch standing outside the room, waiting for the latest news on their colleague. As asked, Officer Wells stood among them.
Mac and Jim closed the door to Pete's room and walked over to the crowd, telling them the latest.
Jim came back to Pete's room after Mac said his good-byes for the morning and the crowd of officers cleared for the station. Pete and Jim finally had the opportunity to talk without interruption.
"So...did you get a date with her?"
"The nurse. Julie, right? Isn't she the one you've been trying meet?"
"Oh, Reed. She's b-been the last thing on my mind right now-"
"Oh, sure, sure, Pete. Come on...spill it - did you talk to her?"
"I'll leave that up to your imagination." Pete smiled mischievously. He knew Jim was trying his best to get as much information out of him as he could, hoping he might slip from the effects of the anesthesia. But, Pete wasn't about to tell Jim right away that he got her number...he wanted Jim's curiosity to drag on for a while.
"Gee, thanks." Jim gave Pete his best wounded-puppy look. "Really, Pete. How you feeling?"
"Fine, considering. I just don't like not being able to move around. My arm's wrapped so tight, it d-doesn't even feel like it's there. And this slurring is getting to be a drag..."
"It'll stop soon, I'm sure. You look good - much better than yesterday."
Jim grew quiet. Pete noticed the second Jim mentioned anything about what happened the previous day, his mood grew darker.
"I think I should be asking how you're feeling."
"Oh...I'm fine. Really," Jim replied while shifting in the chair.
"Okay, I guess I'm too easy to read now. I'm really not fine. But, I don't want to talk about this until you're up to it. You need your-"
"L-Let me be the judge of when I'm up to it. Okay?"
"I'm feeling better...so out with it." Jim knew that once Pete put on his TO voice, which he didn't hear that often anymore, Pete wanted him talking.
"I was really scared, Pete. I just wasn't sure what to do. I knew you were shot, but wasn't sure if anyone else was. I wasn't sure if you were-" Jim stopped.
"Jim. From what M-Mac told me, it sounded like you did j-just fine. You handled yourself the way I would've expected you to."
"Yeah...but you were in there by yourself, Pete."
"No, I wasn't. I had Duke, his girlfriend and Stoney with me."
"But, I should've been in there to help you-"
Pete looked seriously at Jim, "And you would've gotten s-shot just the same. Then, what would Jean and my godson have done?"
Jim didn't have anything to say to Pete, so he continued.
"Jim, there w-was no way you could've done anything - I couldn't even do anything. It happened so fast, I actually don't even remember entering Duke's or being shot. All I remember is waking up with Duke's girl by me... And Bernie pointing my gun at me. I guess Vince had a gun pointed toward the door the whole time, w-waiting for someone to enter."
"But, why do I feel like I left you?"
"I don't know. But, I certainly can tell you that you didn't. You did what you had to do - clear the street, notify dispatch and wait for help to arrive. From what Mac told me, you were a real pro. Your actions and l-level head kept me alive."
"Because you didn't set them off, Jim. You gave them, especially Bernie, space to think. Why do you think Vince chickened out and came out? Why do you think Bernie finally gave up?"
"You knew how I'd handle the situation and you proceeded to d-do the same."
Jim still didn't look or sound convinced that what he'd done was enough. What Pete was telling him wasn't making Jim feel any better.
I guess there is only one way to explain this to him. I just need to get this out without slurring...
Pete spoke slow, deliberate. He concentrated on every syllable to prevent himself from slurring his words. "Jim...when I was first partnered with you, do you have any idea how mad I was? Not n-necessarily with you, but with everything in general?"
"You were planning to leave that night...so I'd imagine you were very angry-"
"I wasn't just angry, Jim. I was downright furious - furious with the job, at the guy who killed my partner, with Val and Mac for trying to get me stay on the job, with my partner for dying on me." Pete paused a second as the memory of his partner's death flooded back with force. "...and I was disappointed with myself for not preventing it from happening."
"But, it wasn't your fault, right? You couldn't have helped him."
"That's exactly my point, Jim. These feelings are the repercussions of such an experience. I knew I couldn't have helped him. But, I was still angry because I felt like I didn't do my job - that I wasn't there for him...that I failed him...that I...I..."
Pete stopped talking again, rubbing his forehead with his good hand, and trying to think about how he was going to explain how he felt. This was something he'd kept hidden from everyone, and from himself, for over six months. He wasn't sure how to express it in words.
"...that you felt useless?"
Pete glanced at Jim with a look of recognition and appreciation, "Yeah, that's it. Useless - completely useless. In the seven years I've been a police officer, I'd always found a solution, whether it was temporary or a permanent fix. When he died, I was angry with myself for not having come up with a solution to help him...like my training and experience meant nothing anymore."
"I didn't know you felt like that."
"How could I tell you that? I'm your TO. I'm not supposed to doubt myself. I'm supposed to have all the answers and know how to handle all situations. I'm supposed to teach you everything I know, from filling out reports correctly to handling a DB or a hostage situation. That's why I wanted to leave - I didn't have all the answers anymore. How could I manage to train you without having all the answers?"
"But, you did."
"Uh huh. Because someone reminded me we can't always be perfect."
"You mean the Lieutenant?"
"Yeah. He's a smart man, but don't tell him I said so," Pete winked, trying to lighten the conversation a little. Pete was visibly growing tired.
"Uh huh," Jim replied
"You see, things happen for reasons that we may not find out or understand right away. My lesson in all that happened was that we're not immortal and that we can't always be right or smart or know what to do all the time."
"That's some lesson."
"Yeah. My plan - the plan apparently laid out for me - was to be James A. Reed's TO...to teach him everything I know. I don't think I've done too bad of a job."
"No. You haven't. I think I understand what you're getting at now."
"Good. Now, you need to let it go. I'm alive. I'll be out of here and back to work in no time." Pete's bright green eyes began to noticeably droop after the extended, exhausting conversation.
"Alright...I'll try. You should get some sleep, okay?"
"Sure...and, thanks," Pete responded, trying to find a comfortable spot on the pillow.
"For saving my life. By the fourth hour, it sure didn't look like Bernie was gonna give up."
"Don't mention it."
"...And, don't get used to this version of Pete Malloy. Your TO be back to normal soon."
"Well...I'd say you're almost back to normal now."
"You've finally stopped slurring."
Jim smiled to Pete and turned toward the door, ready to head home to his family. By the time Jim glanced back to say goodbye, Pete was already asleep.
Jim walked into the hospital two days later with a box in his hand.
As he walked to the elevators, the people Jim passed turned to watch the uniformed man as he proceeded to his destination. They smelled what he was carrying...what the 'it' was, no one knew for sure - but it smelled very good!
The door to Pete's room swung open. Jim entered with his package, but was surprised to see Duke already in the room. His partner was sitting up, holding a burger up to his face with his good hand. His color had completely returned; the only evidence of his injury was the bandaging around his right shoulder. He'd be home within the next two days.
"Hey, Pete. You're looking good!"
"Umhuh..." Pete managed to mumble, as the bite he just took of the burger was too much for his mouth.
"He got gypped out of his lunch the other day. I figured he's pretty desperate to get some real food in his mouth."
"No kidding, Duke! Did you ever taste the stuff they feed you here? It's God awful!"
"Umhuh..." Pete mumbled again, nodding in agreement with Jim's remark. Pete looked - actually studied - the burger in front of him, like it was something brand new to experience. He took another large bite, it too being too much for his mouth to handle.
"You're very talented Pete, using one hand and all. Here. Since Duke beat me to it, you now have a back-up burger - save it for dinner!" Jim handed Pete the burger container.
"Was that 'thanks' coming out of my partner's mouth? I don't believe it!"
"Well, Jim. The word was kinda hard to decipher, considering his mouth was full and all."
"I tell ya, absolutely no manners, Duke," Jim replied.
"I do think it was a 'thanks', though," Duke agreed.
"Well then! Write it down, Duke! Peter Joseph Malloy, Badge 744, said 'thanks' to his partner!"
"...Reeeeed!" Pete called, almost dropping his burger trying to defend himself.
"Now...don't bother trying to talk, Pete. You might strain your mouth - Ouch!" Jim rubbed his forehead
after a ketchup packet sailed from Pete's direction and hit its intended target...
Author's disclaimer: No copyright infringements are intended in this story.
Thanks to Mark VII Productions for creating and producing the show we so enjoy. To Martin Milner, Kent McCord and the entire cast of Adam-12: thanks for 'bringing to life' some of the best men to ever wear the uniform. It is a joy to write a story based on these characters.
And a thousand thanks to Cathy. Your editing and suggestions were fantastic!