Cornered (invite only)
Rowan walked into work as if absolutely nothing was wrong. A great deal of what they were about to do depended on their quarry not knowing he was being chased until the last second.
Thanks to the help of Aidan Xephier, a man Rowan had been surprised to learn was not only a werewolf but the head honcho of his particular Clan or Pack or whatever, they had narrowed their list of suspects down to two. Cris had told him about the meeting he and Kem had had with Xephier. Rowan wasn't sure how he felt about his colleague being 'one of them.' Probably the same way Dr. Xephier felt about it. Hell, they had worked together in the ER on occasion. The Aussie was a great doctor, and had an easygoing laid back manner Rowan empathized with. maybe it was because they both had to work a little harder to promote a professional, friendly image - Rowan because of his unique fashion choices, Xephier because of his intimidating height.
Whatever the reason, maybe they'd end up discussing it over beers next week. Or, maybe Rowan would be dead.
No no. Totally not the right thought. But it wasn't far from his mind. Truth be told, instead of feeling nervous about any of this he was relieved. Rowan didn't enjoy the stress of knowing children were dying because of him. Being hunted, he could almost take. Piracy wasn't exactly a peaceful life. But being associated with the deaths of patients he'd worked hard to save, that was different.
Either way, they would have some kind of answer tonight. For better or for worse, Rowan would know why he'd been singled out, he hoped. Cris and Sullivan were with him, as well as a veritable slew of security members and covert bats and birds.
Henri had gone with Xephier, to his displeasure. He'd wanted to stay near Rowan but even he couldn't argue that if it came down to it, he could probably take both Xephier and an unnamed assassin down fairly easily. Rowan's job was simple. Confront Brand, if he could get a moment with him, and ascertain his motives with empathy. Cris was there; between the two of them it would be difficult to misunderstand.
His thoughts were interrupted by a small blond-haired boy of about nine. Rowan bent to him and hugged him. "Hey Jamie."
"Mom said I could come with her tonight. The babysitter is sick."
"Cool," Rowan said, standing and looking down at Jamie, who was Becky's son. He hid the fact that he was disappointed to see Jamie. Of all nights... why did Becky have to bring Jamie to work on this one? "You going to go down to the daycare center?"
"Probably. I wanted to say hi first."
Rowan smiled at the boy. "I'm glad you did. We can get breakfast later if you're hungry, okay?"
Jamie smiled and nodded, then ran back toward his mother who was waiting near the elevator. Employee day care (and night care) was only one of the perks of working here. Being Nachton and being a busy hospital, they had staff all through the night for emergencies just like this.
[Maybe I'm just jumping at shadows now,] Rowan sent to Cris, with whom he'd been chatting steadily since they'd left the Towers, [but I swear I see a fire in every corner.]
He quickly forgot about Jamie, who was safely tucked away with whatever other poor kids had to come hang out at their parents' workplace tonight, and headed toward his office, where they could pow-wow in peace for a little while before heading out to face the music.
The killer fell to the floor in an anticlimactic crumple. No final monologue, no several minute death scene, no scream of tortured agony. This was death in reality. Life often went away far quicker than it came to be.
That moment seemed to stretch like an eternity and then time started again.
He placed a hand over his bleeding side and looked around for signs of the team with the torch to get the storage room door open. Cris saw them coming down the hall with Sullivan in the lead. Xephier was issuing his own orders and he turned and asked for the same thing. The team muscled their way forward and moved everyone back out of the way while they set to work.
Rowan was screaming his name and pounding on the hot metal door. [I am here, Love. I am ok. Brand is dead. Everything will be alright. Move back so they can get the door open. At least as far as you can.] He continued to send to Rowan saying little things, where the team was, what was going on, anything and everything to let his partner know that everything was going to be alright.
Emma came over with a look of concern and almost horror on her face. He hated to let them down, show that he was not immortal, untouchable and unphasable. It was bad for moral.
"Its alright, Emma. Just a flesh wound.â€ She raised her eyebrows at him, apparently surprised that he might...He wasn't sure. Have a social life? Rowan had made that very clear. Perhaps she was surprised that he had a sense of humor and might like Monty Python. Old vampires watch tv! News at 11.
Cris nodded to Xephier to reiterate what he said to Sullivan. He would be fine as soon as Rowan was out of the metal oven. He watched anxiously, willing the team to move faster, knowing at the same time that they were moving as fast as possible.
"Where is Becky?â€
"Back at the van, I think. I can check.â€ Cris and Emma heard the answer on his earpiece even before she asked the question.
"Escort her back in. She is going to want to make sure her son is safe and he is going to want his mother.â€ The danger was mostly past but there was still the fire to be put out and it was unlikely that the emergency response teams outside, if they had arrived, would let her back in without someone overriding that authority.
The door came off with a small thunk as the three hinges were cut through. A couple of the team, wearing gloves in preparation for the task, picked up the door and moved it to the side.
Cris shoved his way past everyone until he could see Rowan and Jamie. He reached for his lover even as Rowan was hurrying out of the burning room with the boy in his arms. Pulling them out of the way, Cris wrapped his arm around Rowan and hugged him tight. "Its over now.â€ He held him close for a few moments more, savoring the very real and reassuring feel of Rowan in his embrace. Cris breathed in his lover scent, despite the smell of smoke that clung to him and listened to Rowan's heart beat its steady undead rhythm. Only now could he truly, eventually, relax. Rowan was safe.
He wanted to give his partner all of his attention but Jamie had been through a terrible experience as well. Smiling up at him, Cris said. "It is okay. Your mother will be here any second. You were very brave. Thank you for taking care of Dr. Rowan for me.â€ Cris hugged Rowan closer again, unwilling to let him go even though there was plenty to still be done.
"Collect those remotes.â€ Cris nodded toward the body. "Work with Xephier's people. We need to find the rest of those explosives. I want a sweep of the entire hospital. MARI, I want you to scan the building as well. Go room to room. If anyone asks about her, then tell them she is an explosive detection device and needs access to the entire hospital.â€ The people going from room to room would be faster and most likely they would find everything that Brand had placed in the building but MARI would be more thorough. Cris wanted to be absolutely sure that nothing was left behind.
"Gary, healed up now?â€
"Yes, Sir.â€ Gary held up his arm and smeared the blood out of the way to prove he was now in perfect health.
Cris turned back to Rowan. "And you? Are you okay?â€ He could see for himself that this time Rowan had taken no serious physical injuries but that did not mean that Rowan was fine.
((OOC: Through this entire post Cris has one hand over the wound in his side. Emma in purple, random security in blue, Gary in aqua? ))
[Cris. Please tell them to hurry. I can't... please.]
Rowan knew they were, indeed, hurrying, but panic made him beg when he would have otherwise had patience. It probably didn't take long to break the door open but to Rowan it seemed like an eternity, in which the flames crept ever closer in an attempt to consume them both.
Suddenly he felt the rush of cold air as the door fell away. Without regard for who might be standing in front of it Rowan dashed out and found himself immediately surrounded. Henri was there, to his vast relief, but at the moment he was only looking for one person and that person was right before him, looking grim and pale but well enough. Cris pulled him away and wrapped an arm around him and Rowan released Jamie with ne arm long enough to hug him fiercely back. He couldn't hear Cris's words but he was giving orders, his arm still around Rowan.
Aidan Xephier appeared suddenly, and Rowan knew he'd been there to help. The taller man said something to Rowan and Rowan just blinked back. Xephier cocked his head at Rowan and then held his arms out. Rowan understood and let the werewolf take Jamie away, not far, just to a gurney in the corner where someone immediately held and oxygen mask to his face after removing the smoke mask.
Rowan smelled the blood all around him but it could easily be his; he was bleeding from several cuts and those upon his scalp had left a wash of blood on his clothing and face, although they were probably mostly dry already. His hands were battered and already bruising, and he had an assortment of cuts and scrapes but overall he probably looked much worse than he felt.
Except for the dizziness and the hearing thing. As Cris turned and spoke to him Rowan sank slowly to his knees, clutching at Cris's coat. He looked at his partner in confusion for a second.
"I can't hear you," he said. He tried to keep his voice down, unsure how well he was regulating it.
Someone reached around from behind and affixed an oxygen mask to his face, as well. He wanted to protest but he realized the air would help clear the fumes from his lungs. He slumped over, let himself fall against Cris, and rested his head on his partner's shoulder. Then he realized that Cris had been holding his hand over his side, and that there was a suspicious stain beneath.
"You're hurt," he said, keeping his voice very low. "How badly?"
Torso wounds could be dangerous. They often bled profusely, internally, and could be much worse than they initially appeared on the surface. Rowan thought Cris would be fine either way but his partner might need medical attention as well and he didn't want that to be overlooked. He trusted Cris to be honest with him. He might be stoic with his own team but as Rowan had trusted Cris to free him, he hoped Cris would trust him with the truth of the injury. If nothing else it helped him focus.
[I asked if you were okay.] He sent to his partner instead of speaking to him.
Rowan slid down to the floor; Cris bent over him still holding him with one arm. He refused to let go, maybe in a few days he could let his partner out of his sight but not right now. Looking around, he saw his people working with Xephier's to move the body, clean the blood off the floor, put out the fire and search the place for more explosives. If they had a personal problem with working with the other race, it wasn't mentioned. Everyone was behaving like professionals responding to a crisis. He was gratified to see it in his own team and happy to see it in the Kadzait.
"They are going to ask about the explosion and the people trapped in the storage room. We need to have that story straight.â€ Cris spoke to Xeph when the man turned back in his direction. He sighed softly and sat down next to Rowan, holding him close once more. Everything was being taken care of. He could answer any questions his people might have from the floor just as well as he could have standing up. "The truth is always the easiest solution. As much of it as possible.â€ Cris glanced at Brand. "I can understand if you don't want a body around. Are we saying he got away?â€ That would lead to an investigation by the police and the federal government. He could stop that, reroute it to his own people but it would be work and would leave innocent people without answers. "We could furnish another body or just his dental records.â€ It would be easy enough to fake another fire and place Brand inside of it so there was closure in the police investigation and for the families of the children and people he murdered. Some closure at any rate. It could have been another fire gone wrong. "Unless there is some reason not to...?â€ He didn't know much about werewolf remains, maybe Brand's teeth would have told something the other werewolves didn't want out. Cris wasn't entirely sure. Maybe they would just be teeth. Xephier could want to do something else with his deceased pack mate and that too was his right.
Rowan asked him about his own injuries and he smiled softly at his concerned redhead, ever the doctor.[You look a mess and you are worried about me?] Cris gave him another hug and leaned his head against Rowan's shoulder. [It is pretty deep, Love. Could have been worse. He missed everything vital, no lungs, no heart, just some wiggly bits I only use on occasion.] Cris looked up at Rowan and smiled. [Of course my doctor might think otherwise. I suspect the bleeding is the worst. I like to keep that stuff on the inside.]
He peeled his hand away slowly, leaning back so Rowan could take a better look at it. [If you are going to knock me unconscious again can we wait twenty minutes or so? ] Cris pointed with his chin to the controlled chaos still going on around them.
Their teams were moving quickly. Xeph watched grimly as Dr. Murphy was set free, stumbling but upright, covered in blood but looking as well as could probably be expected. He relinquished his childish burden to Xephier, who brought the boy to the medical team in the hallway. When he returned Rowan had sank down to the ground, pale and shaking. Christian, holding tightly to him, went along with him after a moment and Xeph gave an 'ah' of comprehension. That explained why he had felt different types of 'need' when speaking to Christian and Kem about Rowan's safety. Christian was clearly involved with Rowan, judging by the way they sat, so familiarly, intimate even filthy and worn out.
The boy's mother soon appeared and Xeph gave them some privacy. By then the body of Brand had been covered up and Xephier thought it best. he heard what Christian said about the body and regarded the scene solemnly. Keeping his voice down low he said, "We'll arrange for him to be discovered at the scene of another crime. Enough of him for an ID, anyway."
He dropped his hand gently on Rowan's shoulder. "I'm sorry," he said softly. "That never should have happened to anyone. least of all you."
He squatted down by the two men briefly. "Can I do anything for you?"
Then he glanced up as Becky, the boy's mother approached. He moved back a little bit to give her some room.
He felt Cris's chest vibrating as he spoke to someone around him. Rowan was just as happy not to hear the conversation. Cris spoke to him again shortly, and Rowan nodded against Cris's chest. He moved his hand away from the knife wound in his side and Rowan winced at it. [Yes, I'm worried about you.]
He peered at it, not poking around for now. Cris felt all right, he was lucid and clearly doing all right in spite of the painful stab wound. Rowan pressed his own hand over it once more, putting pressure on it the same way Cris had been.
[No. I won't knock you out,] he sent, [but when we get home, some painkillers and I'll numb it and close it up for you. It will heal faster. And blood. Plenty of blood.]
Henri was nearby; Rowan saw him at he edges of his vision. His Creator hadn't said anything but he didn't have to. He was watching quietly, easily overlooked, hovering not far from Cris and Rowan and unlikely to move very far away. He felt a hand on his shoulder and saw Dr. Xephier there. The tall man said something, and Rowan waited for Cris to translate it for him. He wasn't worried about his hearing; it would return in due course.
He shook his head at Xephier. "It's done now," he said, feeling the roughness of his voice rather than hearing it. When the werewolf asked if he could do anything Rowan nodded. "Some bandage material for Cris, please. And... if you don't mind, clear me to leave."
Rowan didn't want to be checked into the hospital as a patient. There were so many reasons why. He just wanted o assure himself that Jamie was all right and then go home and detox. It was over. Done with. Thank God.
The next person to show up was Becky. Once again, through Cris, Rowan understood her words.
"Jamie told me you saved him." Her lower lip quivered as she tried to restrain what had to be yet another bout of tears. She tried to say something and then shook her head, leaned down, and kissed Rowan on the cheek. Moving over a little she did the same to Cris.
Rowan lifted a hand to the oxygen mask and pushed it up. "He saved me too," he said. Becky sternly pushed the mask back down.
"Breathe," she ordered gently. Then she turned and went back to Jamie.
Rowan did as instructed, since the oxygen was definitely helping to keep the room from spinning. As the vapors he'd breathed in left his system they left him a wicked headache in their wake but he was all right with that. It, like everything else, would heal.
[Blood sounds good.] He had fed before they came to the hospital but, with the loss of blood, he was hungry again.
Cris nodded to Xephier, finding the proposed solution good enough for him. The man had shown that he was quite competent so he did not feel the need to be in control of the last piece of the nightmare. It seemed like it was Xephier's domain anyway. He would certainly want to be the one handling the potential release of information if it had involved a vampire murderer.
The werewolf's words to Rowan were very kind and that meant a great deal to Cris. If more of his people were like him then the werewolves might be worth going to war with Anantya over, if it came to that.
Rowan had several minor requests for his fellow doctor. Cris shook his head and tried to look stoic in the face of his partner's nurturing attention. He loved it, would always love it even if it was occasionally inconvenient to his work. Being cared for was wonderful and he could pretend to be aggrieved but he hoped Rowan knew the truth. When there was a chance, and Rowan could hear again, he would tell him just to make sure.
Becky filled the space that Xephier vacated and told Rowan how grateful she was for his protection of Jamie. He listened quietly to the exchange and then added his own opinion. "He was very brave. Tell him, thank you for me.â€ Cris wouldn't wish the experience of being locked in the burning store room on anyone, let alone someone so young but he was glad that Rowan had not been alone.
[We can go home soon. ] There they could get some blood and some rest and hopefully go back to happier lives. Cris expected that Rowan might not be his usual cheerful self immediately but he would get there eventually. So long as there was now a certainty that there was going to be an eventually he was willing to wait as long as it took.
Sullivan had reappeared and was helping some of the staff bring back in the patients who had been evacuated for the emergency. She was leaned over talking to the lady in the bed, smiling and reassuring her that everything would be okay. There was some joke told about her son that made the patient laugh. Cris pointed discreetly in Emma's direction. [I think I have lost my security member.] He wouldn't be surprised if he did. This had been Sullivan's first choice of career until she had been attacked. This assignment might have reminded her of just how much she loved being a caregiver instead of a protector. [I suppose I can share my people with you.] He sent in a mutter. [but don't take them all. Besides perhaps the more Evenhet we have to help fill our absent doctor's position the better.]
Soon people would catch on to Rowan's skills and they would start getting visits during their off days. Cris would prefer they find a replacement doctor before that happened. He already shared Rowan with the hospital.
He should look into finding another replacement but he had been holding off, hoping somehow that Rowan might say he was interested in the job. Perhaps it was foolish of him, his partner had his career and a place where he was respected and loved. Cris didn't want to ask, even though it would put Rowan right across the hall from him. He didn't want his partner to feel pressured to take the position of Tower Doctor just to be closer to his needy boyfriend who wanted to spend more time with him.
((OOC: Cris probably isn't totally in charge of finding a new doctor but he is the one who would do background checks and that sort of thing so he could stall the process. Besides the towers are his fortress and he tends to be very involved in who is a part of the team there. Alfarinn has always been perfectly content with Cris taking that responsibility since he is gone quite often but now that would fall under Kem's domain. So if Rowan decided he wanted to be the new tower doctor then Cris would go put forth his request and exuberiant recommendation to Kem. ))
He had no authority over either man. Even in the hierarchy of the hospital Rowan's position put him above Xephier. Add to that his complete lack of knowledge about vampire physiology and all he could go on was Rowan's word, which he suspected was good. And, of course, his own abilities, the most useful of which told him that, at the moment, neither man was in dire need of medical attention. He could believe it. In spite of their rough appearances they could take a licking and keep on ticking. He had seen that firsthand with his jackal visitor.
He moved away when Becky approached. checking on Jamie and the other patients who were coming back in as the smoke cleared. He gathered the supplies Rowan had asked for and brought them over. Then he left the two in peace. The clean up effort was well under way, and he assumed that in short order all would be set right and it would be up to his Pack to pick it up from there.
In the meantime he filled out the necessary paperwork to state he'd examined Rowan and found his wounds to be superficial and non-life-threatening, releasing him to go home with strict orders for bed rest and two prescriptions for a painkiller and an anxiety pill. He didn't think the vampire would fill either prescription but it would have been suspect if Xephier hadn't sent him with something.
Handing the supplies to Rowan, Xephier headed back to take charge of both the case and the patients. Christian and his people had held up their side of the bargain and held it up well. He would be sure to do the same.
((ooc: Xeph out but obviously still around, if we need him again))
Xephier brought the supplies over while Becky visited briefly, but once she too had left they were alone in a sea of people for a little bit. Rowan desperately wanted to be home, back in the quiet of his near-perfect life with Cris. He was still feeling overloaded. With stress, with pain, with numbness at the same time. He glanced at Henri out of the corner of his eye; Henri gave a slight nod and moved closer, as if his smallish figure could act as a privacy screen. Rowan felt better, though, for having both Henri and Cris nearby.
He gently peeled Cris's coat away from the wound on his abdomen, untucking his shirt and lifting it too. [Hold that please, dear one,] he sent to Cris. [Let me put a pressure bandage on this until we get home. I'm sorry. It's going to hurt a bit.]
Rowan was sure the stab wound already hurt plenty, but Cris could hardly spend the rest of the night walking around with his hand in his stomach. He worked as quickly as he could with painful, shaky hands and strands of sooty, bloody hair in his eyes and in just a few minutes he had several layers of nonstick padded bandages over the opening in Cris's skin with a tightly wound pressure tape over it.
In the meantime, Emma served as a pleasant distraction. [I think if that's what she wants she would find a great position here,] he said. [Maybe she can balance both, but she does have a way with the people she works with.] He had had plenty of time to work with Emma in the last couple of weeks and she really did seem to enjoy what she was doing. It hadn't just been a role for her to play. [I don't want to share anymore though,] he sent a little petulantly. [I'm... tired. Or greedy. Or both. I just want you and me. For the foreseeable future.]
He finished with the bandage, but left his hands pressed gently against Cris's sides as he looked into his partner's very blue eyes. He knew his own were red and bloodshot, and that he was bloody and dirty and the oxygen mask wasn't helping any, but he wasn't worried about sex appeal. He meant what he'd sent. Over the last year or so Rowan had slowly been losing the desire to couple with anyone but Cris, even in invitation, and tonight he realized he was perfectly and absolutely ready for complete commitment.
The room spun, reminding him that while he was feeling much improved being out of the burning room and all, he was still nowhere near one hundred percent. He closed his eyes tightly, took a deep breath of fresh, pure air, and then lowered himself the rest of the way to the floor. He lay on his back, knees bent, and rested his head carefully on Cris's leg so he could look up to his partner's face.
[Please let me know when we can go home,] he sent faintly. Then he closed his eyes once more and rested his hands over his own stomach, one of Cris's caught between them, trying to stay calm and collected. For the moment, it seemed to be working.
He kept his hands out of the way, occasionally biting his lip to keep from making a sound that would potentially bring over other concerned individuals.
One of the security members came walking up as though to ask a question but found a small Frenchman in his way. The man gave him a questioning look before stepping back, much to Cris's inner amusement.
[What is it, Matthew?] His team member stopped, almost turned around to look back at him and then decided that was not wise.
[Uh, right, sir. We have finished the sweep of the hospital. The explosives that we have found have been removed.]
[Good] Cris bit back a wince as Rowan pressed down on the wound and began placing on the pressure tape.
[They found Thomas, Sir.] He had heard that over the earpiece but he let Matthew continue. [The wound is deep, no human could... He was desperately holding onto his neck when they found him. The nurse says he will live.] There was a tone of disbelief in Matthew's voice; he had been around vampires for a while but this injury was far worse than most he had seen.
[Go, be with him. He will feel better knowing you are there.] Matthew was a close friend of the vampire's. Thomas had taken a liking to the young man and spent more time with him than he had seen the man spend with anyone in years. He would recover more quickly with his friend watching over him.
[Thank you, Sir.] Matthew hurried back down the hall, presumably to go to the van where they were taking Thomas back to Liefde. One of the emergency medical teams had taken care of the wound. They couldn't even afford to stitch it up, letting off the pressure was causing too much arterial spray. All they could do was wrap it tightly and give him copious amounts of blood until it healed.
No doubt Brand thought he had killed Thomas and if the vampire had not be quick with his reaction or the team had taken longer to find him then he might have succeeded. However, the security member hadn't been his real target and the killer hadn't had time to sit and watch Thomas bleed to death to be sure.
Rowan agreed that Emma would be an excellent addition to the hospital if she chose to go back to school and finish her medical degree. He also suggested that she could juggle both jobs and Cris shook his head. [No, I would prefer her to pick one. She could consult for Security if she chose to return to the medical field but there is just too much to keep up with in both professions for her to give her best to both.] Each was a demanding field on its own. She could alter her role and become a member of the medical staff that was sent out on missions like this one but he could not continue to send her out as one of his enforcement teams without her complete commitment to the role.
His partner declared that he was done sharing and Cris nodded, giving Rowan a gentle squeeze in understanding. He listened to the sound of Rowan's small complaint, feeling sympathetic and protective at the same time. [It will be, Love. We will go home and take some time to recover. I promise.]
Cris watched Rowan slide down further, eyes scanning every inch of his battered lover for signs of injury and checking his aura for the ones that couldn't be seen by others. The pale colours there concerned him but Rowan was holding together emotionally for the moment and that could only get better. The worst was over.
He gently brushed away the strands of hair stuck to Rowan's forehead and then smoothed a hand gently down his partner's cheek. [It won't be long now, Love]
And it wasn't. MARI pronounced the place clean and the rest of team, along with the werewolves, cleared all traces of the unseen fight in the hallway. There was nothing to be done about the storage room. That was a crime scene and there had been witnesses to the blast. He listened to the tally of injured and dead from the other explosion. The number was smaller than it could have been but any death was still more than he had hoped for when they sought to confront Brand today.
When they were ready to move out, he woke up Rowan and they headed to one of SUV's. Cris was content to let someone else drive them home.
((OOC: Everybody out! ))