DISCLAIMER: This story is not intended to infringe on the copyrights of any of the holders of LA HEAT. It is just for fun, not profit; the characters are borrowed and will be returned, unharmed and unchanged at the end

Part One

By Mady Bay

"Mac? Partner?" August called when Chase closed his eyes. "Hang in there, Mac," he added, relieved to still find a pulse.

August pressed a little harder on his shirt-turned-bandage, trying to stop the bleeding from the wound. It elicited a small groan from his wounded partner.

"August?" Chase moaned, his voice barely above a whisper.

"I'm right here, partner," he replied, holding Chase's hand again.

"She was going to move in. She was going to transfer. For me," Chase managed, crying out in pain and sorrow.

"Ssssh. Take it easy. Don't talk now," August soothed.

"For me," Chase repeated before losing consciousness.

August finally saw the backup arriving. He'd heard the sirens wailing in the distance for what seemed like forever. He waved to them.

"Get that ambulance down here, now!" he shouted. "I've got an officer down!"

The officer spoke into his car's microphone before joining August at Chase's side. Once the ambulance arrived, August stepped back to give the paramedics room to tend to Chase. He watched them out of the corner of his eye as the officers showing up questioned him about what had happened. As much as he knew he had to stay and tie up the loose ends of what went down, he knew he needed to go with Chase even more. When he saw them lift Chase onto the ambulance gurney he started toward him, leaving his statement to the officer unfinished. He stopped short when he saw his partner - strapped to a backboard, cervical collar around his neck, his face covered by an oxygen mask, IV tubes snaking down to both arms and more blood soaking through the fresh white bandages. He barely recognized his partner under all the lifesaving equipment. August said yet another prayer as he climbed into the front of the ambulance and took out his cell phone.

"Captain, it's August," he said, his voice trembling.

"What's up, August," the captain responded, knowing something was wrong.

"I'm on my way to the hospital," he began.

"What happened? Is Chase all right?" Jensen asked.

"No. He's hurt. Real bad," he managed.

"I'll meet you there," Jensen said and hung up.

August put his phone away and sighed.

"Come on, partner," he whispered. "Pull through."

August met up with Captain Jensen at the emergency room entrance. Both men held their thoughts as they watched the paramedics rush Chase past them, one pumping an ambu bag furiously. Jensen saw the fear in August's eyes. He knew he'd have to wait for August to tell him what happened. After pacing around the waiting room a few times, August sat down on one of the waiting room's plastic chairs and held his head in his hands. He looked up at Jensen and sighed.

"Cole called him. Set up the meet," he began. "I followed Mac. When I got there he was under fire from Cole and two of his henchmen. Chase had already gotten hit in the arm. We split up. He went after Cole."
August stopped and sighed again. He stood up and paced.

"After I got one guy I found Cole and Mac in a stand off. By the time got down to the pier where they were, Chase was down as were Cole and his other man. Cole was dead," he finished.

Before August could say more or Jensen could question him, one of the ER doctors came into the waiting room and approached them.

"You two from LAPD?" she asked.

"Yes, that's right," Jensen answered.

"How's Chase?" August asked.

"I'm Doctor Lyons. I took care of Detective McDonald in the ER. He's on his way to surgery, now," she began, double-checking the chart in her hand. "He'd lost a lot of blood from the two gunshot wounds. The first bullet went cleanly through his upper arm. We don't expect any permanent damage there and the bleeding had already stopped. The second bullet went through his stomach and is lodged next to his spine," she continued.

"His spine?" Jensen questioned, interrupting the doctor. "Is he paralyzed?"

"I don't know," Dr. Lyons said with a sigh. "Right now our primary concern is to get the internal bleeding under control and to prevent any infection. We'll keep you informed," she added.

"Thanks," August replied, shaking the doctor's hand.

Later on, the group of people waiting for news about Chase had increased. In addition to August and Jensen, Kendra, Annie, Cragmire and even Lawson, had shown up. The entire group rose as a doctor dressed in surgical scrubs approached, concern showing on all their faces.

"How is he?" Annie asked, breaking the silence.

"He's still critical," the doctor began. "We got the bleeding stopped and his stomach repaired. We were able to remove the bullet, but there is still a lot of swelling around his spinal cord."

"Meaning?" August asked.

"Meaning that we won't know if there is any damage yet. Preliminary tests show a lack of reflexes in Detective McDonald's lower extremities. But until the swelling goes down, we won't know if it'll be a permanent condition," he replied.

"Can we see him?" Annie asked.

"Any of you family?" the doctor asked, looking at the group.

"I'm his sister," Annie replied quickly. "Our mother is flying in from Dallas as we speak," she added, ignoring the others' surprised looks.

"And I'm his partner, next closest thing," August said, putting his arm around Annie's shoulders.

"Okay. I'll bring you both up to the ICU. He should be settled in up there by now," the doctor said, pointing the way to the elevators.

When they arrived at the ICU ward, August and Annie were shown to Chase's bedside and left alone. August looked questioningly at Annie as she brushed a lock of hair off Chase's forehead.

"I don't know, August," she began. "I just felt I needed to see him. I know exactly what he was going through. I guess I figured that if he was awake, he would feel better seeing someone who knew and understood what he felt."

"You're a good friend, Annie," August said.

"Did you know that after Gary died, Chase stopped at my house every night? He brought supper with him, made sure I ate something," she said with a small chuckle. "He didn't lecture me or even talk. He didn't make me talk either. He was just there. Making sure I made it to the next day. Hell, he even cleaned my apartment."

"Chase? Cleaned your apartment? Chase?" August questioned, eyebrows raised.

"Yes, Chase," Annie replied, smiling. "I want to be there for him, too," she said, losing her smile, taking Chase's hand.

August nodded and picked up Chase's other hand.

"Hey partner," he said. "You better wake up. You've got some good company here," he added, looking at Annie.

Chase's eyes fluttered. He struggled to open them, despite the fact that it was an obvious losing battle. His mouth opened and closed as he tried to speak.

"Sssh," Annie soothed, again stroking his forehead. "It's all right now, Chase. Just sleep," she said.

"That's it, partner," August added when Chase succumbed to the darkness again.

August and Annie stayed in the room for a little while longer. August decided to se the others, let them know how Chase was doing. Annie put her head down on the bed, still holding Chase's hand.

"You've been so good to me, Chase. I only hope I can help you as much as you helped me," she whispered.

About an hour later Annie was awakened when she felt a hand on her shoulder. She looked up and saw a woman she didn't recognize. Behind the woman stood Dr. Lyons. Annie stood and was immediately embraced by the woman.

"Oh, Annie, it's so good to see you. I'm so glad you could be here with Chase," the woman said aloud. Then, whispering in Annie's ear, she said, "I'm Chase's mother. We'll talk about the adoption papers later."

She stepped back and Annie saw the humorous twinkle in Bridget's eyes. Annie was relieved that she didn't mind.

"I'm glad you're here, too, Mom," Annie said, smiling, stepping back so Bridget could get close to Chase.

Bridget leaned over and kissed Chase's forehead, brushing her hand through his hair as she did so.

"Oh, Chase. What am I going to do with you?" she asked quietly.

"Love him forever?" Annie asked.

"Oh, that's a given," Bridget replied.

The women watched as Dr. Lyons checked Chase's chart and bandages, making notes for the nurses on duty. When she left the room, Annie turned to Bridget, hands out, ready to explain herself. Bridget put her hand up and stopped her.

"No need to explain, Annie. I understand. August told me everything when I got here. And Chase has told me quiet a bit about you, as well," Bridget said.

"All good, I hope?" Annie asked, a little self-conscious.

"Oh, most definitely," she assured her new daughter, hugging her again.

The women sat trading Chase stories for the next hour or two. August returned to spell them. They'd wanted to make sure someone was with Chase at all times. At one point Annie was telling August a story Bridget had told her when a pain-filled, whispered voice broke through.

"Oh, man! Has my mother been here already?" Chase groaned questioningly.

Annie and August both laughed.

"Yeah, Mac, she's been here," August replied.

Chase opened his eyes and smiled weakly at the two.

"How are you feeling, partner?" August asked.

"It hurts like hell and I feel like I'm gonna puke," Chase replied.

"Sounds about right," Bridget spoke from the doorway.

"Hi, Mom," he said looking toward her as she approached the bed.

"Hello, darling," she replied, leaning down to give him a kiss.

"We'll leave you two alone," August said, grabbing Annie as he started to leave the room.

"We'll see you later, Chase," Annie called from the door.

"You've got some very special friends, Chase," Bridget said, sitting on the side of the bed.

He nodded, agreeing with her. Bridget caught the sadness in his eyes.

"I'm sorry about Nicole," she said, caressing his hand.

He closed his eyes and nodded again.

"August told me what happened," Bridget said quietly.

"Did he tell you everything?" he asked.

"Yes," she whispered. "He said she was going to transfer, move in with you," she added.

"It just hurts so much, Mom," he said, squeezing his eyes shut, trying to keep the tears in.

He was unsuccessful, though, and Bridget reached up and wiped them from her son's cheeks.

"I know, darling. I know," she soothed, continuing to caress his cheek until he fell asleep once again.

Continued in part two...

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