This story first appeared in the newsletter, Frienz (1996) and in the newsletter Black Bean Soup (1997). Information about the newsletter Black Bean Soup can be found at: http://www.geocities.com/TelevisionCity/Studio/7556/ This is an experiment: a story with no names. Who do you see in which role? Comments on this story can be sent to: email@example.com and will be forwarded to the author.
K Hanna Korossy
He wondered abstractly how long he'd been there, and then if it really mattered. It seemed like an eternity, made worse by wondering and hoping and despairing, but then waiting was always hard to do. Especially when you were waiting to see who would win, you and your partner, or death. They'd run that race before, and death seemed to be getting faster, while all they got was older.
He shifted against the wall, concentrating on not blacking out. He felt so useless, lying there in the dark alley helplessly, waiting to be found and cared for, but he was out of options. His voice was hoarse from calling and every movement brought increased weakness and overwhelming pain, so he simply lay and waited.
He could wait -- his partner was the best cop he knew and if anyone could find him, it would be he. He couldn't even count how many times they had done as much for each other; suspending fear and doubts, living off of hope and memories until they were safe and together again. The only person who had always been there when he needed him. He angrily fought back the hopelessness that flooded him at the thought. Where was his partner now?
That wasn't fair. He himself should have known better than to try and meet the snitch alone, in a back alley of a crumbling neighborhood. He had come expecting a trap, but not prepared for the four who had jumped him, or the one who had shot him, or being left to die alone in the filthy, quiet alley... Idiot, always wanting to do things by himself -- as if he really wanted to be alone. Alone...
He shivered. Either he was burning up inside, or the air was getting downright chilly despite the few faded rays of sunlight that managed to find their way into the alley. The heat didn't feel bad, though; it wrapped him in a haze where he didn't hurt so much. Faces and memories shifted in front of him -- Captain Dobey, Huggy, his much abused car. And, of course, there was his partner. The hair that he would recognize anywhere, and those all-seeing blue eyes. And he could almost hear his voice. How many times he had been hurting, lost, confused, and had hung on to that voice as his link to reality. That voice was always there, teasing, laughing, loving, supporting. He tried to hear it now but couldn't quite, could only imagine it reassuring him. 'Hang on, buddy, I'm coming.' Probably would, too. But maybe not in time.
A wave of sorrow rolled over him at that thought. He couldn't imagine it, his partner seeking, hoping, finding, but all too late. The pain of it was almost unbearable and he sought solace from it in his cocoon of warmth.
The images changed, became scenes from their shared life. The bad times -- Bellamy, Forest, Terry and Gillian, and the good -- vacations spent together, quiet evenings and dinners where comfortable silence was a balm for the soul. Stakeouts, doing paperwork across from each other, the adrenaline rush of the chases -- all the times they had taken for granted being together. No, that wasn't completely true. Something in them knew how special it was, and savored each moment, bringing them back now to comfort and encourage. 'He's gonna be mad if I give up...'
The fear was ebbing, replaced by the sweet memories. Years spent in unison would not, could not end like this, in some back alley, dying alone. He wouldn't do that to his partner. Memories were good, but he wanted to live, to keep making new ones. To see his partner again, to feel the affection of a casually draped arm or a light pat, to hear his voice again... 'God, just let me hear his voice again, please.'
The shroud was getting tighter around him, and he shifted a little so he could breathe easier in it. He rode out the accompanying wave of pain, but it made him dizzy. He couldn't fight this if he was worn out, maybe a little nap would help. Then he could stand the waiting better. He let himself drift in the haze.
The shadows at the entrance to the alley coalesced into a dark form. All he saw was the light glinting off the glossy hair, and the blue eyes, deeper than usual. That was enough; he knew it was his partner again, following him even down into the darkness. Maybe he would follow him wherever he went. That was a nice thought.
The shadow solidified as it moved to face him. He could see more details now, if foggily; the old jacket, that expression that he knew so well. The eyes were bright - why? These were happy memories, no place for tears here. A hand reached out toward him, and he closed his eyes. Maybe if he had drifted far enough, he would even be able to feel his partner this time, that touch that often kept him going, from daily expressions of caring, to the most desperate times. He wanted so badly to feel that contact one more time.
It didn't disappoint. Even lighter than he remembered, the touch was gentle and soothing, first on his cheek and then moving down to his hand, taking some of the pain away. He basked in the security of it like a little child in the arms of a parent. He truly had come home. He smiled and whispered his partner's name sleepily.
The voice answered. It cut into his foggy brain like a knife, and he began to struggle to sit up, to get a better look at this vision that seemed to have control of all his senses. The pain almost overpowered him, but he fought it anxiously, wanting to know. A gentle hand pressed him back down and he let it, only reaching out to touch... warmth. Flesh and blood. The concerned eyes were still there, watching him, steady and solid. It couldn't be, could it? He said his partner's name again, a question. And this time he was sure. It was that familiar voice, answering him, talking to him, reassuring him. The words weren't important; the voice lifted him above the pain and the jostling of his hurting body, and he went with it, feeling safe. No more fear, no more despair. He didn't know how it was possible, but his partner was here and that made everything all right.
He let the voice carry him away.
It was the first thing he heard when he woke up. He didn't listen to it, he just lay there hearing it, letting it relax him. He knew he was in a hospital, that was the usual pattern, but he never had to go it alone. It made him feel better to know that his partner was there, talking to him. A link to life, to sanity, to love.
He heard the voice crack a little, and suddenly it occurred to him that maybe his partner wasn't as sure as he was that everything would be all right. After all, he'd given no sign of life, content to lie there all day and listen, motionless. But he would make the effort for his partner.
Opening his eyes was a whole new proposition and wasn't as easy as he thought. He did finally succeed and locked a fuzzy gaze on the blue eyes. He was rewarded by seeing them light up, a broad grin spreading across the face under the tousled hair that looked like it had been slept on. He felt a hand rest on his, and the voice lowered to a soothing whisper. Content that he had made his presence known, he let his eyes slide shut again. He knew his partner would wait for him and would be there when he woke up, because they always were there for each other; that's what a partner -- no, a best friend did. He let himself quietly drift off, the voice softly keeping him company all the way.
Written in 1995