My Immortal
Chapter 7 - Tourniquet


Horatio presented the contradictory police report, along with their suspicions, to a friendly judge. They were immediately granted a search warrant for Wolfe's locker and all his personal properties. Calleigh stayed at the station to search through Wolfe's locker, and other public places around the station that he might have frequented. Horatio, Eric and Speed drove to Wolfe's home, followed by a uniformed escort.

Horatio knocked on the door and waited for Wolfe to answer. In a few moments, the young dark-haired man came to the door. "Horatio! Delko. What are you guys doing here?"

"We're here to search the premises," Eric said.

Horatio presented Wolfe with the warrant. "Step outside please, Mr. Wolfe."

"O-kaaay," Wolfe said, frowning at the document. "But I don't understand what this is all about."

"You don't have to understand, Wolfe," Eric snapped. "Step outside."

Speed felt his blood boil as the officer escorted Wolfe past him. This was the one. The man who'd stolen years away from his life. Away from Horatio. His parents. His friends. Even his asshole little brother. He had the urge to shove Ryan in front of a passing car.

Speed put a lid on his anger and caught up with Horatio and Eric. "Take the back yard, Eric?"

"Sure thing, H." Eric went around toward the back of the house, and Horatio began his search inside.

Speed followed him for the first few minutes of their search, then broke away from Horatio and searched around on his own. He roamed around the house, immediately struck by the uncanny neatness of every room. He'd been called messy before, but this was just too neat. There was something unnatural about a man on vacation who, in the middle of the day, didn't have at least one single dish in the sink. Not only was every surface in the house spotlessly clean, but all his belongings were in perfect order. His clothes were hung neatly in his closet, evenly spaced and organized by garment type, color and, in some cases, by the type of material. All his books, CD's and videos were in strict alphabetical order. Even the contents of the refrigerator and the cabinets were categorized and labeled. It made Speed nervous.

While Horatio focused his efforts in the back of the house, Speed looked around in the front. He checked the uppermost shelves of Ryan's kitchen cupboards, mildly disturbed that he didn't have to climb on anything to get a higher view. He looked underneath the couches and chairs in Wolfe's livingroom, then sifted through the mail neatly stacked in a small tray in Wolfe's coffee table. Speed looked up sharply when he voices from the front yard. "I don't know, Ryan!" someone snapped. Speed let go of the mail and quickly stepped outside.

Wolfe was smiling at the uniformed officer, who looked a little flustered. "Come on, Dawson," he said. "You can tell me. I'm gonna find out anyway, so what's the big deal?"

"They just asked me to tag along, okay? They didn't tell me anything."

Wolfe chuckled. "Right, like that means anything. Come on, someone has to know what's going on. And don't tell me the best source of station gossip doesn't know what's up."

Dawson sighed. "Look, I can't-"

"Come on, Dave," Ryan said. "It's me! How many years have we known each other?"

Officer Dawson finally cracked a smile. "Okay, Ryan, but you can't let on that you know this." Ryan drew a cross over his heart. The other officer leaned closer to Ryan and said conspiratorially, "It might have something to do with Seargent Stetler."

Wolfe blinked. "What? Why would you think that?"

"Derek White said they were asking him questions about that car-jacking case you guys worked together last August. It was Stetler's car, right?" The confused half-smile on Wolfe's face disappeared immediately, but Dawson didn't seem to notice. "They said-" The officer stopped short when the police radio crackled to life. He turned his back to Wolfe to listen to the call.

"No, what are you doing?" Speed cried. Wolfe moved quickly. He yanked the night stick from Dawson's belt and slammed it full force into the man's head just as he whirled to face Wolfe. Speed heard a crack that might have been the sound of Dawson's jaw breaking. Dawson collapsed and Wolfe dropped the club to the ground. He took the service pistol off of his friend's prone form, checked the magazine, then walked purposefully toward the house.

"Oh my God." Speed rushed into the house and straight to Horatio, heedless of doors, furniture or any other obstacles. Horatio was standing near Ryan's bed, putting a small slip of paper into an evidence envelope. "Horatio!" Fuck, where's a voice when you need one?? Speed threw open the door leading from Wolfe's bedroom to the back yard. Eric was investigating a shed in the back of the yard and hadn't heard the door open.

Horatio stuffed the envelope in his coat pocket and stared at the door. "What the...?" Speed grabbed his arm and tugged him toward the door. Horatio shuddered and looked in Speed's direction. "Speed? What's going on?" Speed just tugged more urgently. Horatio started to move toward the back door, looking puzzled and a little bit nervous. Before Horatio reached the door, however, Speed heard the sound he'd been dreading: the click of a hammer being drawn back.

Horatio must have heard it, too. He tensed and Speed saw him slowly start to reach for his weapon. "Don't." Horatio froze. Speed fought the natural instinct to behave as if guns could still hurt him and turned to face the intruder. Wolfe stood in the other doorway, his gun aimed squarely at Horatio's back. Shit. Shit shit shit!!! "Hands up," Wolfe snapped. "Now, Horatio!"

Horatio slowly raised his hands above his head. Just as slowly, he turned to face Wolfe. He appeared calm, but Speed knew his heart must be racing. He could tell from the look in Horatio's eyes that his mind was racing too. Wolfe was clearly agitated. His body trembled slightly and Speed thought he could see a glint of sweat on his forehead. But his eyes were focused on Horatio with a hard, sharp intensity that frightened Speed even more than the gun.

"Ryan," Horatio said slowly. "I need you to calm down, all right? Calm down, and put the gun-"

BANG!

Horatio was interrupted by the sickening sound of gunfire. Speed screamed and rushed to Horatio's fallen body. He thanked every deity he could think of (along with a general thanks to all the ones he didn't know about) that the bullet had missed Horatio's lung. Speed was terrified nonetheless. Horatio had been hit somewhere near his stomach and he was losing a frightening amount of blood.

"Oh God," Speed whispered. Horatio was conscious, breathing hard and sweating, clutching the wound with both hands. He looked directly at Speed, and Speed could see joy in his eyes, followed immediately by intense fear.

"I didn't want to have to do this, Lieutenant." Speed sprang to his feet. Wolfe was still in the room, coming toward Horatio, gun poised to finish the job.

Speed's eyes widened. His mind went into complete panic mode, with only one thought screaming through - SAVE HORATIO. He felt a slight breeze start to blow around the room, which somehow seemed to be connected with his wild, panicked thoughts. Wolfe paused for a moment, a puzzled frown on his face. In only a second, he shrugged off the concern and continued to move toward Horatio. Speed sprang forward and shoved Ryan hard.

Wolfe gasped and fired two erratic shots as he stumbled back. It was more than Speed could take. He couldn't have random bullets flying around the room endangering Horatio even more. He unleashed his blinding panic as well as all the anger and frustration he'd been holding inside him since he'd first seen Ryan at the door. The light breeze that had started a few seconds earlier turned into a violent, howling wind, mixed with what sounded like the wailing of not quite human voices. Wolfe stopped in his tracks, completely stunned. Speed took advantage of Wolfe's distraction to gently push Horatio a little closer to the bed for protection. Then he started throwing things at Wolfe's head.

Speed grabbed whatever he could find and hurled it in Wolfe's direction. He noticed that items on the opposite side of the room also started to fling themselves at Wolfe, whether guided by the spectral wind, or directly by Speed's mind, he wasn't sure. It wasn't long before one of the heavier objects found Wolfe's head and he dropped to the floor, unconscious. The instant Speed was sure Wolfe was no longer a threat, the wind ceased and all the objects that had still been in flight suddenly dropped to the floor.

"Jesus, Mary and Joseph, what the HELL??" Speed looked over to see Eric rising from a crouching position in the doorway. Eric stepped gingerly into the room, looking more than a little scared. He was startled by a groan from Horatio. "Horatio?!" Eric rushed to Horatio's side and looked him over. "Oh God, no. No, no!" Eric's phone was out in less than a second. "Officer down! I repeat, we have an officer down! Send rescue immediately to..."

Speed forced himself to block out Eric's call for help and focus on Horatio. He knelt on one side of him, grasped his blood-soaked hands and told him forcefully to hold on to life.

Speed and Eric rode in the ambulance with Horatio. A second ambulance followed them, carrying Officer Dawson to the same hospital. When Eric was asked to "give the doctor's room to work", Speed stayed nearby, watching while doctor's worked furiously to save Horatio's life. Speed felt like he was dying all over again. He was shaky, he felt like he couldn't breathe properly (despite the fact that he hadn't actually been breathing for nearly five months), and his mind was in a swirling panic.

He relaxed (slightly) when the team of doctors and nurses were able to stabilize Horatio, but he was still extremely nervous. Once stabilized, Horatio was taken to emergency surgery. Speed followed, pacing anxiously just out of the way of the medical team. When the operation was over, Horatio was moved to a private room in the intensive care ward and hooked up to life support. "All we can do now is wait and see," one of the doctor's said. They checked him over once again, then left the room.

When the room was clear, Speed pulled a chair close to Horatio's bed and sat down beside him to watch and wait. After only a few minutes, a nurse led Eric into the room. "I'll have someone gather his clothes and everything he had with him."

"Thanks." The nurse left, and Eric took a few steps toward Horatio's bed. He took a deep breath and put a hand over his mouth. Speed could understand. Horatio was a sobering sight. His skin was extremely pale. He was hooked up to several monitors, had IVs attached to both arms, and was breathing through tubes, with the aid of a machine. Eric edged closer to the bed, expression growing more and more grim with each step. He stood beside Horatio's bed for several minutes, probably going through all the things he could have done differently.

Speed felt sorry for him. He knew exactly what it was like to watch a partner go down in the field. No matter how random or uncontrollable the situation; no matter how much you knew, intellectually, that nothing you could have done would have changed what happened, you always felt that you were somehow responsible. The guilt was nearly unbearable for anyone, but it must have been even worse for Eric. Speed knew Eric was the type to torture himself with guilt, even for the tiniest of perceived transgressions.

Speed watched Eric put himself through his own quiet hell for a few more minutes, wishing he could say something encouraging, or at least make a sarcastic comment to break his self-torment. Finally, the nurse came back into the room carrying two large paper bags. "Detective Delko?"

Eric glanced over his shoulder and cleared his throat. "Thank you," he said, turning away from Horatio and taking the bags. Eric took one last guilt-ridden glance at Horatio, sighed heavily and left the room.

Alone with Horatio again, Speed settled back in his chair and tried to get control of his emotions. He was afraid for Horatio, but he was also furious and incredibly frustrated. He wanted to kill that damn rookie! How dare he do this to Horatio?! How dare he do this to me?

Speed felt cheated, in more ways than one. First of all, he'd been murdered, and in such a way that people were meant to believe that he'd gotten himself killed through his own incompetence! Who knew how many years of his life had been stolen, just so some over-eager punk could get his foot in the door of the crime lab? Then, just as the team was getting close to solving the case, and irrefutably clearing Speed's reputation, that bastard had tried to murder Horatio as well! He still didn't know if Horatio would survive.

As much as he wanted to be with Horatio, Speed did not want Horatio to die. Not even if it meant the two of them being ghosts together forever. For one thing, there were a lot of people who loved and depended on Horatio, and they would be devastated if he didn't make it. Then of course, there was the chance that if Horatio died, he might go off to some higher plane or something and Speed would lose him forever. The thought depressed him beyond belief. It didn't help Speed's mood that Wolfe had done this not one full week after he and Horatio had figured out a way to communicate with each other, finally putting an end to months of near-solitude for Speed. Speed sighed. "What am I going to do without you?" he asked.

Speed kept watch over Horatio for the rest of the night, talking to him the entire time. He believed, just as Horatio did, that people in comas could benefit from being spoken to, even if they didn't respond. Nurses came in periodically to check on Horatio, but there were no other visitors until early the next morning.

Calleigh and Alexx came in together. Both gasped when they saw the state Horatio was in. "Oh dear Lord," Calleigh whispered. "Eric said it was bad, but..."

Alexx looked like she was fighting tears. She moved to stand beside Horatio's bed and watched the machines breathe for him for a few seconds. "Oh Horatio," she said sadly. "I hoped I'd never have to see you like this." A few tears started to fall, and she brushed them away quickly. With a shaky sigh, she turned away from Horatio and looked at Calleigh, who still hung back near the door. "You okay?"

Calleigh shook her head slightly, eyes shining with unshed tears. Slowly, she moved closer to the bed. She looked at Horatio for a few seconds, then closed her eyes, probably to prevent any tears from falling. "God, Alexx," she said in a shaky voice. "I... I can't go through this again."

"I know, honey," Alexx said gently. "But the doctor said there's a very good chance he'll pull through."

"Sixty percent!" Calleigh cried. She glanced at Horatio guiltily as if he might be disturbed by the noise. When she spoke again, it was in hushed, though fervent, tones. "Sixty percent is not a 'very good chance', Alexx. It's barely..." Calleigh stopped speaking and brushed at her eyes.

"He's strong, Calleigh," Alexx said firmly. "Believe me, he'll make it. He's a fighter."

"Is he?" Calleigh asked softly. "He's been going farther and farther downhill ever since Tim was killed. It's only in the past week or so that he seems to have snapped out of it. But after this... I don't know, Alexx. It might be too much for him."

Alexx looked over at Horatio, a hint of doubt in her eyes. She shook her head. "We just have to keep hoping, honey," she said, almost sounding to Speed like she was trying to convince herself as well as Calleigh. "We just can't give up on him."

Calleigh nodded and took another look at Horatio. She closed her eyes on her tears once more. When she opened her eyes again, her expression had taken on a grim determination. "I'm going to the lab," she said. "I need to help Eric nail that son of a bitch."

Alexx smiled, although Speed thought he saw a spark of pure fury in her eyes. She patted Calleigh's shoulder. "Go get 'em, girl."

Calleigh left the room, and Alexx came to sit beside Horatio's bed. Speed hopped out of the seat just in time and stood nearby, while Alexx visited with Horatio. She talked to him about her kids, friends of the family, a party the Woods' threw three years back. Speed noticed that she didn't bring up anything work-related. It was probably better for Horatio, but Speed was very curious to know what was going on with the case. After about half an hour, Alexx said goodbye to Horatio, telling him to hang in there and keep fighting.

Horatio received several more visits during the course of the day. Yelina came, promising to bring Ray Jr. later on. Frank Tripp stopped by briefly, as did Valera, Cynthia and even John Hagen. Speed was most interested in Eric's next visit. His visit was brief, but he stayed long enough to tell Horatio what was going on in the case.

"I checked out that ticket you found, H. It was the number and combination for a locker down at the docks. It... it was there, H. Speed's gun. We got him."

Speed suddenly felt a warm, tingling sensation flow through him, along with a strong sense of relief and happiness. At first, he was afraid that he was about to be carried away from Horatio before he was ready. He focused on Horatio's face, and it seemed to ground him slightly. The moment of fear passed, and the relief and contentment grew stronger. Speed figured there must definitely be some truth to the idea that the spirits of people who were murdered were able to rest easier when the truth about their death was known. He'd been plagued by a vague sense of worry and restlessness ever since he'd begun haunting the jewelry shop, even during times when he was otherwise content. Now, those uncomfortable feelings which had rumbled in the background all this time were finally gone.

Speed smiled and settled back in his chair to listen to the rest of what Eric had to say. "Stetler's on the case," he said. He shook his head. "He insisted on taking it. I've never seen him like this before, H. He's going at it like... I've never seen him go after anyone so hard, and you know how he is." Eric was silent for a long time. Finally, he lowered his head and spoke again, very softly. "I'm sorry, H. I... I shouldn't have left you alone in there." He sighed shakily, and when he looked up again, his eyes were shining. "Just get better, okay? Get better."


Chapter 6
Chapter 8

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