DISCLAIMER: The characters, the movie, and the book do not belong to me.
SPOILERS: This story picks up where the movie ended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Cj


The rope burn was starting to hurt, and Helen knew it was turning a nasty purple color. She could feel the swelling without touching her neck. However, right now, her main concern was the woman sitting next to her. She had no way of knowing how badly M.J. had been hurt by Peter Foley's murder attempt, but she did know the shorter woman was going into shock. In an effort to stave off the worst of it, Helen pulled her friend to her. No words were spoken between them as they waited for help but M.J.'s eyes were drooping from the exertion of a few moments before. The thought made Helen glance at the still body of the man who, until minutes earlier, had ruled the lives of both women for the last couple of months.

The backup that M.J. had requested startled Helen from her musings. The uniformed officers almost tripped over the two women as they tried to access the roof. Helen watched in fascination as they checked on the status of their now dead murder suspect.

"Ma'am. Ma'am, please, we need to get you to the hospital." Helen looked up at an impossibly young man. "Dr. Hudson?" he asked. She wasn't sure how long he had been standing above her, but there was something akin to fear in his eyes. It wasn't until another officer reached for M.J. that Helen even acknowledged the new arrivals. She allowed the paramedics to take the other woman from her arms and followed her friend blindly down the stairs.

"That's a pretty deep cut," one of the paramedics said after they were outside. "Why don't you let me take a look at it?" Helen started to protest, her eyes darting to where M.J. was laying. "It's okay. She's not going anywhere. You can sit on the back of the ambulance."

"Dr. Hudson?" An older man suddenly appeared at her side. "I'm Lt. Quinn. Can you tell me what happened? Are you alright? What happened to Inspector Monahan?"

Glancing to the man asking her questions, Helen finally spoke. "I want to ride with her. I…can I please ride with her?" It must have been the pleading quality to her voice that made Quinn nod. He helped her inside the ambulance and watched in silence as she took M.J.'s hand.

"Helen," the prone inspector whispered. In the noise, the lieutenant barely caught the hushed plea but knew from her faint smile that the doctor had heard clearly.

"I'm here."


"Better than you," Helen answered as she pushed the other woman's bangs from her eyes. "But don't worry. You'll be fine."


"It's over, M.J. It's over."

The gentleness between the two women caused the paramedics and Quinn, who was waiting just outside the ambulance door, to feel like they were eavesdropping on a private moment. Finally, the younger paramedic reached for and closed the door so the ambulance could make its way to the hospital. Quinn watched it until the taillights were swallowed by the growing crowd before turning to answer the bundle of questions from reporters and officers that were being thrown at him.

Helen held M.J.'s hand until she was forced to let go when they reached the hospital. As soon as the inspector disappeared behind one set of double doors, a nurse escorted Helen into another area.

A knock on the door startled Helen and she looked up in time to see a gray-haired man enter the room. "Dr. Hudson? I'm Dr. Taylor. I'm going to take a look at your wounds and give you some salve for that burn. How are you feeling?"

"Fine. I'm fine. How's M.J.?"

"She's one lucky lady. Most of the bullets were stopped by her vest. She's going to be fine, but she's going to have some major bruising."

"The blood? When she was shot, I saw the blood."

"That was probably from the bullet that grazed her shoulder. There was also some cutting on her shoulder and she's got a deep gash on her back. Nothing too serious."

"Will she be able to go home tonight?"

"Actually, I think her doctor wants to keep her overnight."

"Can I see her?"

"Sure, as soon as I finish with you here. None of your cuts are deep enough for stitches but they do need to be cleaned and bandaged. Don't worry. Your friend is in x-ray. They wanted to be certain nothing was broken."

Helen just nodded as she let the doctor work. Although she knew she should be in more pain than she was feeling, she also knew why she was so numb. The long night and horrifying series of events had left her emotionally raw. Right now, the only thing she wanted to do was find her friend and reconnect with the only anchor she had remaining. After several long moments, she was finally granted her wish. She was led down the hallway to a back room where half a dozen police officers were waiting outside a door. Although she didn't recognize any of the men, she knew from their expressions that they all knew her.

She slipped into the room quietly and waited until a nurse taking M.J.'s vitals disappeared out the door. Suddenly, Helen wasn't sure if she should be disturbing the inspector or just what her role was in the inspector's life. Her worries, however, were completely dispelled when the younger woman turned her attention on the psychologist.

"Helen," M.J. said, a small smile tugging at her lips. She held out her hand to her friend, who immediately came to stand beside her.

"Hey. How ya feeling?"

"Exhausted, sore, wonderful." M.J. answered truthfully. She tugged Helen down to sit on the bed next to her and intertwined their fingers. "How are you?"

"The same," Helen responded without ever looking at the other woman. Instead, the doctor's focus was on their hands.

"Helen," M.J. teased, her voice drawing out the name in a pronounced southern drawl.

"You have to stay here overnight. The doctor wants to make sure you haven't suffered any permanent damage."

"Helen, I'm fine."

"You're drugged right now. I'm surprised you even know who I am."

"I'll always know who you are. You're Dr. Helen Hudson, genius extraordinaire."

Despite the circumstances, Helen smiled. M.J.'s tone was boarding on loopy. She started to protest but a knock on the door drew both of their attention. Lt. Quinn poked his head into the room before entering it fully. The first thing he noticed was the closeness of the women. When Helen made to stand, M.J.'s firm grasp stopped her.

"I just dropped in to see how you're doing."

"Just peachy," the cop answered amusingly although her eyes were starting to droop.

"Yeah, I can see that. Need anything?"

"Think I've got everything."

"You did good, kid. Someone will be by tomorrow to take your statement but I think we've pieced together what happened. We found the tape at Dr. Hudson's apartment. You should have waited for backup, Inspector, but I understand why you didn't."

"Couldn't," was M.J.'s only response. "Had to protect Helen."

"Yeah," Lt. Quinn said as he spared a glance at the doctor. "Well, I'm going to keep everyone away tonight but be prepared for well-wishers tomorrow. Dr. Hudson, will you be alright or would you like someone to take you home or maybe to a hotel?"

"No, I'll be staying here tonight. Thank you, Lieutenant."

Quinn just nodded before taking a long look at M.J. and then leaving from the room.

"You don't have to," M.J. said in-between yawns. "I'll be okay."

"I'll go if you want, but I'd rather not."

"No, don't. Stay." Helen nodded and glanced again at their intertwined fingers.

"M.J., when you're released, why don't you come stay with me?" she asked suddenly.

"I'll be fine, Helen," the cop said tiredly. "I can take care of myself."

"I don't doubt that, but it would make me feel better if I could keep an eye on you for a little while."

"Yeah, okay, me too."

"Close your eyes, M.J. Get some rest. I think you deserve it. We'll talk tomorrow."

"You'll be here when I wake up?" was the groggily posed question.

"I'll be here," Helen assured her with a smile. The petite cop's eyes drifted shut but it was a long moment before her grasp loosened on her friend's hand. When it did, Helen rang the nurse and asked for a blanket. After moving a large reclining chair from the corner of the room to next to M.J.'s bed, the doctor settled in for the night. It was late and had been an exhausting day for both of them. Helen got comfortable, and it wasn't long before M.J.'s even breathing lured her to sleep.

Although nurses were in and out throughout the night, both women got a decent few hours rest. It was still early when Helen awoke. Sensing eyes on her, she turned in her chair to see M.J. staring at her.

Smiling shyly, Helen greeted the other woman, "Good morning."

"Hi," M.J. responded and grinned. "You look horrible."

The teasing immediately relaxed Helen's uncertainty and she leaned forward enough to grab the cop's hand.

"You don't look so wonderful yourself."

"How's your neck?"

"Sore. How's your back and shoulder?"

"Hurts like hell." M.J. squeezed Helen's hand and then added, "Feels good to be alive."

They shared a smile, but before the doctor could respond, there was a knock on the door and Lt. Quinn and Nico entered.

"Lieutenant, Inspector," Helen welcomed. This time, she didn't move or try to drop M.J.'s hand. She watched as Nico glanced from the women's intertwined fingers to the bedridden cop's face.

"Hey, how ya feeling?" he finally asked as he took position on the other side of M.J.'s bed.

"I'm good, especially under the circumstances."

"You feel up to giving a statement? You and the doctor both need to if you're able," Lt. Quinn said. M.J. looked at Helen.

"Yeah, I think we can," she said after being reassured by the confidence in the other woman's gaze.

"Why don't I take Dr. Hudson down for some coffee while you give your statement? Nico will stay here with you if you need anything."

Helen stood and let M.J.'s fingers slip from her hand before following Quinn out of the room. A second later, a uniformed officer entered and M.J., who was grateful to be doing something, succulently gave a detailed account of what had happened less than eight hours prior.

"You could've gotten yourself killed," Nico said as soon as the other officer left. "You should have waited for backup."

"I couldn't. Besides, it's really none of your business. I was doing my job."

"I worry about you. It's been a rough couple of days."

"I'm fine. It's all over now."

"Why don't you stay with me when you get out of here?"

"Why is everyone worried about me? I can take care of myself."

"Yeah, I know, I know. But it's okay if you need some help or want someone around. What else am I going to do with my time?"

"Nico," she sighed. "I, uh, thanks for the offer, but I'll be fine."

Just then, the door opened to reveal Quinn and Helen, who smiled reassuringly at her friend. M.J.'s relieved smile did not go unnoticed by the other two cops.

"How'd it go?" the psychologist asked as she took the seat she had vacated earlier.

"It went well. You?"

"Good. I had almost forgotten what it was like to give a deposition."

"She did fine, M.J." Quinn replied. "She's a real trooper. You both are."

"Thanks, Lt."

Quinn patted the blankets next to M.J.'s leg and then signaled for Nico to follow him.

"We're going to go, give you a chance to rest. You've got three weeks off with pay. Take the time to heal and don't do anything stupid."

"Who me?" was M.J.'s mocking reply.

"Think about what I said," Nico told her before walking toward the door. He bowed his head in Helen's direction but that was the only acknowledge he gave her. After they were gone, Helen moved from her seat to sit on the bed next to M.J.'s thigh.

"I ran into your doctor outside. He said he'd be in here in a few minutes to check on you and possibly release you."

"That's great. I can't wait to get home, take a shower, and get out of this hospital gown."

"What, uh, what was Nico talking about?" Helen asked, unsure if she should be asking or if she wanted to hear the answer.

"He wants me to stay with him while I'm recovering." M.J. watched closely for Helen's reaction but the other woman turned away from her.

"Would you rather stay with him? I'd completely understand if you do."

"Unless you're just trying to get rid of me, I'd be happier with you. Of course, I am capable of taking care of myself. I'm not an invalid. I'll just be sore for a while."

The absurdity of the moment hit Helen and she laughed at the direction their conversation was taking. She felt M.J. lightly slap her on the leg to get her attention.

"I'm sorry. This all just seems so surreal. Here we are, in a hospital room, after one of the most harrowing experiences of our lives, yet it's all so normal, like we've done this before." Helen shrugged. "It's just strange."

"Stranger things have happened," M.J. responded. "But you're right. This entire situation is a little odd, partly because of how odd it isn't. But, Helen, we've spent the last week and a half trying to predict what was going to happen next and failing miserably. Now, we get to just go with the flow, see what comes up." She poked the other woman in the side, eliciting a smile from them both. "Besides, we've been good for each other so far."

"Yeah, great for each other," Helen responded dryly. She sighed heavily before continuing. "We keep saying it's over but we both know it's not. There's still so much left to do."

"Sure, there always is, but the hard part is over. Are you going to write a book about Peter Foley?"

"That would be ironic, don't you think? It would be giving him what he wanted."

"But you gotta admit it would make for an interesting read."

"M.J., have you read any of my books?"

"The last one, yeah. I read it before I came to talk to you the first time. I plan on reading the others as soon as I have the time, which I now do since I have three weeks off."

"I'm not sure that my books will be the type of relaxing the lieutenant had in mind."

M.J. just shrugged but grimaced at the movement. The door opened to reveal the doctor M.J. had seen the night before and his nurse.

"Hello, Inspector, how are you feeling this morning?"

"I wish I could say better than last night but I think the drugs have worn off," was the cop's reply.

Smiling, the doctor helped her to sit up in the bed while he looked at her wounds. After a minute, he let her relax onto the mattress.

"We wanted to keep you here overnight just as a precautionary measure. It's not something we would normally do with your injuries, but we were worried about the stitches on your back. With everything that happened to you last night, we figured it wouldn't hurt to have you stay one night. But I bet you're ready to go home now, huh?"

"More than ready," she said and he laughed as he wrote something on his clipboard.

"Well, good, because there's where I'm sending you. You'll need help to change those bandages and they do need to be changed at least once a day. Will you be staying with someone?" he asked and glanced at Helen.

"She'll be staying with me. I'll make sure she's well taken care of."

"I don't doubt that. Well, ladies, I'm giving you the go ahead. I'll see you in a couple of weeks."

"Thanks, doc."

"You're welcome. Try to take it easy for the next couple of weeks."

After they had left, another nurse came in with the paperwork that would allow M.J. to leave. Helen busied herself by gathering what little they had with them and was surprised when there was a knock on the hospital room door.

"Ma'am," a uniformed officer greeted her when she stepped into the hallway. "I'm here to take you and Inspector Monahan home. Lt. Quinn said you would be released soon."

"Uh, yeah, actually I was just about to call a cab. You have good timing, officer." The young man blushed at the compliment and the doctor knew right away he was rookie. "Give us a few minutes to finish and we'll meet you downstairs."

"Yes, ma'am."

Helen watched him disappear around a corner before going back inside. She found M.J. sitting on the side of the bed in the outfit she had been wearing last night. There was dried blood on the shirt and Helen could feel her breathing become uneven.

"Hey," M.J. said and reached out her hand to her friend. When Helen took it, M.J. pulled the taller woman close to her. "Are you alright?"

"Yeah, yes, I'm fine. I'm just…I'm really glad you're okay."

"Almost as good as new." M.J. squeezed the hand she was still holding and leaned on Helen as she stood up. "Now, how are we going to get home?"

"Quinn took care of that. He sent a car over complete with our own driver."

"Good. I'm ready to go home."

"We'll stop by your place to pack you a bag and then we'll go to my apartment. Unless you'd be more comfortable at home?"

"No, I've spent enough time at your place in the last week that it feels like home. Besides, I know you'd be more comfortable at your apartment."

"M.J., you're the one who's recovering."

"Helen, I'll be fine. I'll have you at my beck and call," she teased.

"Yeah, well, that will be a change."

"I have a feeling that a lot is about to change." Helen stopped before opening the hospital room door and looked at M.J. for a long moment.

"You know, I think you're right. I can't wait."

The End

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