Hopes & Fears
By tuna.dc

"I'll take care of everything, just as we've planned," said the younger man to the older man. The older man didn't reply at first, he simply breathed heavily and nodded his approval from behind the glass partition that separated them. Then speaking in a hushed tone, the old man spoke as he handed a file of papers through the small opening, "this is all the information on those two, there's much more on the woman, it goes back to her childhood, she's the real target here anyway. But in order to get to her, you'll have to neutralize the man first.

It was early Saturday morning; on a particularly hot day in Palm Beach, Chris and Rita were part of an inter-department PBPD sting operation. Homicide, along with Narco and Vice were attempting to bring down a man by the name of Tino Escuela, a well known drug dealer, pimp and most recently, homicide suspect in the murder of two teenagers. Tino had definitely entered the major leagues with the murders. He was one bad boy, as Chris had so eloquently described him during an inter-department meeting.

It had been weeks since the three departments had begun laying out plans and different approaches to nabbing Tino, but so far, each time the units were in place to net him, obstacles of one sort or another had gotten in their way. It was on this particular Saturday, that PBPD had gotten a tip that Tino was holed up in a not so great part of Palm Beach, preparing to score a major drug deal. If they moved quickly, they might just have a chance to nail him. Treveon Thomas and Daryl Pearson of Vice called Chris at home and asked if he'd like in on the raid. Chris readily agreed and called Rita, who had decided to spend the prior evening with some girlfriends and then ended up staying at her apartment. She asked for the location and told him that she'd call Narco, and probably pick up Kelly Small, who lived just around the block from her, and meet everyone else just outside Tino's temporary lair.

Just before 10am, Chris, Rita, Kelly, Treveon, Daryl along with Jon Matthews and Ricky Gonzalez converged on the scene. It was decided that Rita and Kelly along with Jon would remain in their vehicles and be ready for Tino or his henchman to be on the move. Chris, Ricky Treveon and Daryl would head inside, Chris and Ricky taking the back, and Treveon and Daryl coming in through the front. Tino had been Treveon and Daryl's project for almost a year now. They wanted him bad. They finally had one eyewitness in protective custody, who was willing to testify that Tino had a stable of women and trafficked in prostitution. For them, it was just a matter of finding him and hauling him off to jail. Today, with what was going down, they might be able to also nail him on the drug charges and Chris and Rita were still investigating homicide charges. Getting this scum off the streets maybe would be the key in getting additional witnesses to come forward, concerning the two dead teenagers.

Chris checked his weapon. It was fully loaded and ready. He also thought unconsciously of the bulletproof vest he wore beneath his jacket. He got out of the car, looked back towards Rita who was sitting in the car along with Kelly. He gave them both a slight nod and continued heading towards the back of the apartment building. If Palm Beach had a rotten neighborhood, this one would definitely qualify, Chris thought as he walked aggressively down the alley through piles of garbage. He looked up and saw boarded up windows, missing doors and dilapidated buildings. One thing was for sure, he thought, Tino Escuela was trash, so he fit right into this neighborhood. Coming from the other direction, he saw Ricky heading his way. Their eyes met and they were ready for whatever was about to go down.

Chris ducked under some stairs as he heard a commotion coming from above him. He heard Treveon shout to halt. He poked his head out and saw three men come out onto the small balcony over him. Two of them jumped down and began to run. The third heard the warning shot from Daryl's gun and froze on the balcony. Daryl grabbed him and cuffed him. Treveon followed the suspects and also jumped down from the second story. Chris and Ricky already were already in foot pursuit chasing after Tino and another of his flock.

As the two suspects broke apart, Chris followed Tino, while Ricky closed in on the other suspect. Treveon apparently had suffered some kind of ankle injury in the jump, for he hobbled to his car and radioed the two mobile units the position and the latest of what was going down. Rita and Kelly quickly moved their unmarked car down the alley in hot pursuit. Jon also motored around and joined in too.

Tino knew this neighborhood too well; he had an advantage over Chris. Chris kept up with him as best he could, but Tino kept weaving in and out of the shadows, leaving Chris little opportunity to catch him or to get off a clean shot.

Ricky in the meantime was close to nailing his suspect. The guy must be a smoker, Ricky thought as he hurled his body in a flying tackle and laid the suspect out beneath him. With his gun aimed solidly to the back of his head, Ricky told the suspect to put his hands behind his back and carefully slipped the cuffs on him. Rita and Kelly pulled up at this time. Ricky hauled his suspect to his feet; Kelly walked over and Ricky said out of breath, "Read this guy his rights." Rita came over and asked, "Where's Chris?" Ricky still out of breath said, "He's after Tino, they were headed down the alley behind 3rd, when this guy broke off. I think Jon's out there too. Rita quickly got back into the car and headed off in the direction that Chris had last been seen at.

Tino now was running out of room. Chris caught a glimpse of Jon in his car through the alleyway and knew at the next cross street, he'd be set with backup. He pulled up and aimed, first firing a warning shot, he shouted for Escuela to stop. Tino kept going. Chris took aim. As he released the trigger, the gun seemed to explode in his hand. The next thing Chris realized, he had been rocked to the ground and his eyes were burning. Tino looked back momentarily and saw Chris reeling on the ground, turning back, he saw Jon in the unmarked police car, now bearing down on him. Tino started running back towards Chris. He figured he could out run a crippled up cop, easier than a cop in a car. Chris still in a daze, heard Tino run back by him. He attempted to get up and continue the chase, but Tino kicked him in the stomach as he ran by. Chris doubled over in obvious pain, still blinded by the backfire of his gun. Jon drove past him, and slowed up, "Chris, you ok man?" Chris was at the moment more mad than anything else, "Yeah, yah, just get Escuela," he motioned for Jon to keep going. "I'll radio your position and call an ambulance," Jon shouted as he accelerated after Tino.

Moments later, Rita rolled up and saw Chris sitting up, his head in his hands, rocking back and forth. She ran out of the car and over to him, "Chris, what happened?" she asked, trying to pry his hands away from his face. "Rita?" Chris asked in a puzzled tone. "Yeah, I'm here, let me see, what happened?" she asked him again. Chris kept squinting and grabbing for his eyes, rubbing them vigorously. "Chris, stop that, you're not making it any better, what was it, backfire?" she asked. Chris attempted a nod and said, "yeah, I think so, it felt like an explosion." Rita finally grabbed his hands and held them down. She looked in horror at his face. There were some cuts around his right eye mainly, but dark, greasy stains covered his face. His eyes were closed tightly; she was glad he wasn't looking at her expression. A huge welt was forming over his right eye as well. "Can you open your eyes," Rita asked softly, she didn't want Chris to see her scared expression, so she mustered up a smile. He slowly opened them and stared at her, at least she thought he was staring at her. "Sam," Chris began, his voice trembling, his hands reaching for her, "I can't see, I can't see you."

An hour later at the hospital, Rita paced up and down the emergency room corridor, anxiously awaiting for some news about Chris. Harry strode down the hallway towards her. "Rita, what the hell is going on, I just got a call about Chris being brought in." Rita nodded and began to tell him what had happened. "What the hell are they doing in there?" Cap asked in a huff. "I don't know Cap, it's already been about an hour," Rita answered. Just then Daryl and Treveon came in. Treveon was leaning heavily on Daryl, and he carefully slumped in a chair. "Treveon, are you ok?" Rita asked. "I thought I was, but my ankle's swelling up something fierce, so Daryl dragged me down here. I think I busted it, jumping out of that window after Tino. Rita shook her head. "Did we catch that guy?" Cap asked Treveon. Treveon ducked his head, "No sir, he got away again, when Jon slowed up to check on Chris, he must have ducked in somewhere, they're still down there searching, but I'm sure he has a new location already. Treveon looked at Rita and asked, "How's Lorenzo?" "We're not sure, he's been in there for an hour, the doctor hasn't come out yet." "I heard someone say he was blinded?" Treveon asked. Rita nodded and looked down. Cap put his arm around her shoulder and squeezed her gently. "Let's just hope it's temporary," Cap added. "Yeah," Treveon said in agreement.

In the exam room, Chris was lying on his side, as a nurse was busy flushing out his eyes. Doctor Cameron Terry entered, and began to talk to the nurse. "We've been flushing the eyes for about 35 minutes now, Doctor," she said. "Alright, let's see what we have. Can you sit up Sergeant?" The doctor asked. "Yeah, no problem," Chris said clumsily reaching for something to grab onto as he sat up on the table. The nurse reached over and gave him a hand. "Any vision at all yet?" "Yeah, a little in my left eye, I can see light and dark areas, but I can't make anything out yet though." "And the right eye?" Chris shook his head no. "Well, don't worry, the x-rays, aren't showing any permanent damage, I think it's due to some internal swelling, and I think your vision will return in a day or so," the doctor said as he closely examined Chris' eyes. Chris smiled when he heard the news, but then a question sunk in, "and what if not," Chris asked. "Then we will run some more tests and go from there." Chris put his head down. "Sergeant, I've seen lots of these types of injury, my advice to you is not to worry. Just go home and get some rest, that's the best medicine." Chris remained quiet. "Are you married?" the doctor asked. "Not exactly, I've got a girlfriend though, why?" Chris replied, on the inside he smiled thinking of Rita and the hope that someday soon they would be married. "Well, I'd like to send you home, there's really no need for you to stay in the hospital, do you have someone who can look after you?" "Uh, yeah, my partner, Rita," Chris began. "Why don't you give Nurse Smathers here her number." "Actually, I think she's probably in the waiting room," Chris said. The doctor turned to Nurse Smathers, "would you," he motioned. "Sure doctor, I'll be right back." The doctor turned back to Chris, "You need some rest, Sergeant, and I'd like to see you back here tomorrow." "I'd like to see you too," Chris replied sarcastically. "Let's get these cuts cleaned up," the doctor said.

Rita took a deep breath and calmly walked into the exam room, on the inside, she was scared, she had no idea what to expect. When she entered she saw Chris sitting up, and actually laughing with the Doctor. "Chris," she began, "how ya doing?" The doctor turned around and saw Rita standing in the doorway. She took his breath away. Terry thought if this guy's girlfriend was as good looking as his partner, this guy had it made. Chris raised his head up and looked to where he heard her voice. "Well, I'm gonna need some help," he began. Rita walked over to the exam table and grabbed his hand. He squeezed it back tight. "You know I'll be there for you," she said softly. "Well, the good news is that the doc thinks it's only temporary," Chris added, sensing her fear. Rita took her other hand and rubbed his back. He smiled. "I'm Doctor Cameron Terry," the doctor began, not wanting to take his eyes off of Rita. Rita felt the doctor looking her over, "Rita Lance," she replied coolly. Cameron couldn't believe it, was he hearing that right? This was going to be easier than he thought. If she was Lance, he had to be Lorenzo. He quickly went to look at the chart, sure enough, Christopher Lorenzo, he couldn't believe he didn't notice the name sooner. "So, can we go Doc, there's a basketball game on later that I don't want to miss seeing," Chris said, already rethinking, "well I can catch the sound anyway, Duke- North Carolina, college basketball doesn't get any better, you know." "You a basketball fan Chris," Cameron said looking up from writing notes on his chart. "Fan? He wrote the book, Doctor." Rita replied for him. Chris grinned. "Do you play too?" Cameron asked. "Well, yeah, when I can see, that is," Chris said. "I play twice a week at the Y, pick up games for us over 30, it's a great league, you should come," Cameron began. "I'd like that, I'd like that a lot," Chris said.

Doctor Terry took Rita aside and handed the prescriptions to her, "Remember, the salve around the eyes every two hours and the painkillers, one every four hours or as needed. He's not complaining of headaches now, but he may get some later on." "Don't worry Doctor, I'll take good care of him, he'll be fine and I'll have him back tomorrow at 3pm," Rita answered. Terry continued to stare at her, it was starting to give her the creeps. "Is there anything else Doctor?" she asked breaking the silence, "or can we go?" "Uh, yeah, you're all set," he began, "let me give you my card, in case you have any problems or questions, feel free to call me, day or night" he said, making sure he touched her hand, and with his other he lightly touched her shoulder. His looks and now his touch were really beginning to bug her. "And Rita," he began, "may I call you Rita?" She nodded. She already knew what was coming next. "I know this is not really the time or the place," Terry stumbled over his words, "but would you like to go out sometime?" Rita smiled and looked down, and then back up at Terry. She hemmed and hawed a little before saying, "Um, I'm actually kind of with someone right now." Terry backed off right away, putting up his hands, "Hey, I understand, sorry, you can't blame a guy for trying, right?"

Dr. Cameron Terry was about the same age as Chris and Rita. He was blond, and had blue eyes, he was a little taller than Chris, a great deal thinner, and almost sick looking, depending on the clothes he wore. The baggy look of the doctor's exam coat helped fill out his physique. He was a fairly attractive man, Rita thought, but there was something about him, she couldn't put her finger on it, but it just made her feel uneasy. It was more than the way he looked at her or the way he had gone out of his way to touch her. The cop in her took over, she didn't trust him, he seemed to be hiding something. Well, it didn't matter, she had Chris, she loved Chris, and soon, who knew, maybe marriage, a family. It made her smile just thinking about him.

He watched them leave. The introductions had been made. That was always going to be the hard part. And here it had happened. How lucky could he be, and would the rest of his plan be this easy too. He was in, he thought; so far things were falling into place even before he hoped. He couldn't keep his eyes off Rita. She was a beauty, too bad she'd have to suffer too. But maybe he could have a little pleasure first, he wondered, letting a small smile escape from his face. It was all part of the plan, part of his father's plan. His mind raced. He remembered hearing the man mention some criminal named Tino Escuela. He stored it away for future reference.

Chris hung on to Rita as they walked down the hall. Harry came up to them quickly and shouted, "The doctor's sending you home Lorenzo?" "Yeah Cap, and there's no need to yell, I'm not deaf, just blind," Chris said grabbing his head. Rita laughed, "I've got his medicine, Cap, other than a headache, there's no real problem," and jokingly, "and Chris has been a headache for years now, so that's nothing new." "Very funny, Sam," Chris replied. "Well, what did the doctor say," Cap continued to ask loudly. "He said it's probably temporary, there's no permanent damage, I just have to wait for some internal swelling to go down in a couple of days. My left eye is already starting to come back." Cap smiled, "that's great news, really great. Ok, ok so you two go, go, don't stand around here, Lance you're taking him home right?" "Yeah Cap, I'll sack out on his couch and cook him some food, maybe even clean up his loft, " Rita said, knowing to keep Cap at bay about their recent relationship developments. He knew a little about their newfound relationship, he just didn't know the extent of their involvement yet. "I thought you told the doctor you were going to take care of me? You could kill me with your cooking." Chris answered her wisely. "If only you could see the look I'm giving you right now," Rita said with a wry smile. "Alright, that's enough, go, go, I'll call you later and see how you're doing," Cap said. "Thanks Cap, for everything," Chris said.

Rita put the game on the TV for Chris, who had plopped down on the couch. His head was beginning to ache, but he had really wanted to see this game, now he'd have to settle for just hearing it. He'd been looking forward to it, since their first game earlier in the month. She looked at the screen and did a score check for him, "Duke's down by 17, but it's only the first half," she said. "Very good Sam, thanks," he said impressed by her quick assessment. He had been trying to teach her the finer points of the game he loved so dearly, and she was quick to catch on to the lingo. Before he could ask, she added, "3:12 to go to halftime," and "that little Wojo character is out there too." "He's a gamer, Sam, Duke's not out of this thing yet, just wait," Chris replied. "Well for me, it will have to wait, this place is a mess, I'll be in the kitchen, just holler if you need anything." "I need you!" he answered loudly with a grin, accentuating the you. "That I already knew," she said.

Chris listened to the game for about another half-hour before slowly drifting off to sleep. His head was throbbing, but he didn't want to take any of the pain pills, cuz they always made him feel dopey. Rita went around the loft in silence, straightening up and cleaning from room to room. She saw that he was sleeping and grabbed a blanket and wrapped it around him. His place was actually beginning to feel more and more like home to her. Maybe that's just because he was here too, she thought. She let herself daydream momentarily, of their future. Getting married and having a family, being husband and wife, it was more than she ever hoped for, but all she ever really wanted. She still had some fear too, was it too perfect? Everything and everyone she'd ever loved had died or left, would it be different with Chris? She watched him sleep, God, she loved him, somehow she was beginning to learn that that was all that really mattered.

She finally sat down in a chair and was going to read a book, but instead she glanced at the TV and saw that Duke was indeed making a comeback, as Chris had predicted. They were only down by 4 now. Instead of reading, she actually got caught up in the game. She leaned forward in the chair, elbows on knees and hands under chin as Chris continued to sleep soundly. With seconds to go, Duke tied up the game and sent it into overtime. Rita almost let out a scream; instead she glanced over at Chris who looked so peaceful. She held her emotions in check, but when Duke won in overtime, she let out a little shout, that woke Chris up. He sat straight up and began to rub his eyes, at first, not remembering what had happened. Scared and breathing rapidly, he tried to shake his eyes and head free from the blindness. Then he began to remember what happened earlier in the day. He leaned his head back, trying to calm himself down. "I'm sorry, Sam," Rita began, seeing the whole episode. "I didn't mean to wake you, but you were right, Duke came back and won, in overtime," she continued, trying to take his mind off his blindness. He smiled, but quickly it was lost from his face.

"Are you ok, do you need a pain pill," she offered. He shook his head no. "Do you want to talk about it?" she asked him. "No," he said sadly. She got up from the chair and went over to the couch. He shifted over so she could sit next to him. He immediately put his arms around her and put his head onto her chest. His sudden quietness frightened her. She could tell he was really upset and scared. In all the years she had known him, she never remembered him acting like this, needing her this much. She took her arms and hands and held him closely, stroking his hair and head, telling him over and over again, that everything would be alright. She placed soft kisses in his hair; her touch was so gentle and soothing to him. Slowly he lifted his head and sought out her lips. Rita saw this and she reached down for his mouth, softly their lips came together in a tender embrace. When they broke apart, Chris spoke in an almost childlike voice, "Sam, I need you, more than ever, please say you love me." His hand slowly caressed the side of her face, he could feel her smile, he smiled in return. "You know I love you, Chris," Rita offered. Chris nodded, "I mean, right now, I need you, please love me," he said again, his voice getting stronger. Rita now began to understand what he wanted. "Are you sure Chris," she said stumbling on her words, "I mean, you've been injured, you need some rest." He shook his head in disagreement, "I need you, Rita, please, I love you." Chris began to lay back on the couch, holding Rita closely; she stretched out on top of him. "Chris, this isn't" Rita tried to say, but Chris had already pressed his lips to hers, while he did he murmured, "Don't Rita, don't stop this, I need you, I need this." Strangely enough, when Rita pulled back and looked at Chris, his eyes were wide open, even though she knew he couldn't see. It was as if he could, and even more, he seemed to be looking at her for the first time. His eyes were filled with wonder and love.

"Rita," Chris softly called out to her, reaching for her, needing her close touch. This was so different for him, even though his sight was gone; the rest of his body was so alive. He felt highly aroused and overwhelmed. He wanted to explain it to Rita, but before he could say anything, she began to kiss him, passionately, deeply, it left them both gasping for air. Rita was definitely in control of this situation now, and Chris didn't mind, he'd let her lead him anywhere now. His other senses were taking him places he had never been before. The scent of her hair, the warmth of her breath, the soft tenderness of her skin, the taste of her lips and body, and the beat of her heart echoed clear through to his soul, it intoxicated him. He had noticed and loved all these things before, this time; however, it was so much more intensified. Her touch alone was driving him over the edge. He felt each fingertip on her hands as they spread over him. Her hands tenderly massaged his body, her lips and tongue darted over his mouth, down his throat and neck, onto his chest, and lower. Had he really missed all this all the times they had been together? The silky, smooth wetness of her lips tantalized him. Her smooth, delicate body moved over him, on him, carefully, yet calculated. He was feeling things he had never known existed before, he had awakened into whole new place. He was astonished with every thing she did to him. Passion and emotion flooded through him, he never wanted this to stop and for everything she was doing to him, he wanted to return it to her one hundred fold.

Rita too, was having the time of her life. The more she explored the more he enjoyed it. This almost seemed to be an entirely different Chris. He gave her total control. Wherever she went, he followed. Like her now, he seemed to be more pleased with the journey and not only the destination. She noticed that he was unbelievably sensitive to everything she did, each kiss, each touch, every movement she made, it all satisfied him, like never before. And he craved more. Rita was happy to comply. She loved his body, the strength he had. She meandered over her favorite parts, his chest, the feel of his back, and that handsome face she never tired of. A smile radiated from his face, never dimming, and his eyes remained open, wide, crystal blue and full of awe.

All of it seemed so new to him. Why hadn't he noticed these things before? The beauty of her was soaring to new heights in his mind. Could the dimming of his sense of sight really trigger his other senses so much? The pleasure she was giving him was so intense, so powerful, he only hoped he was doing the same for her. He had completely given in to her and she, because of that freedom was enjoying each new second as it happened. Chris was so in tune with her every touch and movement. They were used to finding their rhythm together, but this time, it was like a master's symphony from the very beginning, building slowly, confidently, every instrument and sound blending in perfect, rich, glorious melody and harmony. Rita began slowly taking off his clothes, then her own. Chris listened intently to every sound, felt every movement, together their heartbeats roared in his head, Rita's breathing and kissing resounded inside him. He could hear her pleasure in each gasp and moan. Chris, in turn, was exploring Rita in a whole new way. He was much slower, remarkably gentle and painstakingly deliberate with every touch. His hands ran along her body, down her hips and thighs, along her back and shoulders, then tenderly massaging her breasts, lingering and desiring her like never before. Where his hands had explored first, his mouth was next to follow, his wonder and amazement continued, these sensations of taste, touch, hearing and smelling were underrated, he thought. Her breasts became movements in this symphony of theirs. Always one of his favorite places, he took extra time and care with each, touching, nibbling and suckling, each distinctive with its own story to tell in this masterpiece of his heart. She was so soft, so warm, he tried desperately to be tender and gentle to her as his mind was filled with these new images and feelings. Chris lingered over every part of her body, sending Rita into a cataclysm of emotion overload. And as much as Chris seemed to be taking control, Rita still led him exactly where she wanted him to be. Ultimately, together they soared toward the pinnacle of their love, time and time again, lasting well into the dark night.

Rita awakened first the next morning; the light of the room began to pour in. She stayed securely wrapped in Chris' arms. As she glanced at his sleeping face, she wondered what this day would bring for him. The sun began to cast onto the couch and in doing so; it danced across Chris' face. The initial warmth hit him, and without waking, he crinkled his nose, and he began to stir. Rita almost let out a giggle, he looked so cute. Then as the sun's rays hit them both fully, Chris slowly opened his eyes; he mistily looked at her, shrouded by the sun. He thought he must be dreaming, cuz she looked like an angel. A strange look came over his face. Rita looked back at him puzzled. "Aren't angels supposed to be smiling?" he asked. Rita still not sure what was happening, cocked her head to one side, and said, "are you dreaming or what?" Chris smiled at her warmly, "Sammy, if I'm dreaming, I hope I nevah, ever wake up." Then the smile disappeared from his face and he continued, "you are the most beautiful woman in the world, and it doesn't take eyesight to see that." "Oh, Christopher, " was all that Rita could get out as Chris interrupted her, "but now that I can see you again, you are not only beautiful, you are gorgeous, sexy, wonderful, and most importantly, the best friend and the only love of my life forever. You're all I ever want, oh Rita, I love you so very much," he said kissing her. She pulled away quickly and said excitedly, "You can see? Clearly? Everything? Both eyes?" Jokingly, he took his hand and covered one eye, then the other and said, "Yeah, you have brown eyes and blonde hair right?" "She punched him in the chest, "Very funny," then she paused and looked into his eyes deeply, "really, you're ok?" He nodded in agreement and softly said, "Yeah, I think I'm ok, they seem fine, but we'll see what Dr. Terry says later. Till then, let's just enjoy this," he said leaning into her for another kiss. Rita groaned, "I would love to, but I've got to go to work for awhile," she said, caressing his face. "It's Sunday, Sam, can't it wait?" Chris begged. Rita hated that look, that look that always made her do things his way. There was no defense for it, and no way to prepare for it, he had it down pat. "I promised I'd meet everyone about 11am, to plan our next move on Tino," she began. "It's still early," he attempted to wear her down some more, nuzzling the softness of her face. "And didn't we get him, Jon was on his tail, yesterday," he said planting kisses along her neck next. "No, he got away, now we're not sure where he is. We're back to square one, and you, my friend, are driving me crazy," she said, turning his head so she could kiss him on the mouth. "Last night was sensational," she murmured as they caught each other in a deep kiss. "You're telling me," he began to explain, "I have never felt anything like that before, you are incredible." "So what are you saying, we should use blindfolds or something from now on?" she asked laughing and kissing him again. He laughed in return and said, "No, no, but believe me, I will be seeing things in a whole new light." "I like the sound of that," Rita replied with another kiss. "Me too," he answered.

Later that afternoon, Rita insisted on picking up Chris and driving him to the hospital, even though he kept insisting that he was fine. He actually gave into her rather easily, just being with her, near her, was pure heaven these days, and he wasn't about to spoil the time they could spend together, no matter what the circumstances. As they sat in the waiting room to see Dr. Terry, Chris began to ask Rita how the morning's session with Narco and Vice had gone. "We still don't have any clue where he's hiding out now. The two buddy's of his we caught yesterday aren't talking yet. They both want deals, and Donovan isn't ready to do that," Rita began. "That figures," Chris said, "leave it to the DA's office to fry some minnows when they could be frying the big tuna (sorry readers, I couldn't resist working in my nickname) instead." Rita looked at him and shook her head in an 'I don't believe your metaphor' way. "We need to sweat them Chris, George knows what he's doing, he's been through this a million times." "Yeah and every time he does, it pisses me off. We've been after Escuela for what, a month now? He needs to be off the streets," Chris said angrily. Rita ignored his latest outburst; "Do you want to hear the good news?" Chris looked at her unbelievingly; "there's good news?" "Yes, there is, Ricky and Kelly picked up a tip from Crime Line of all places, apparently there's a witness to the murders." "And," Chris said leading her. "And, then there's bad news." Chris shook his head in frustration. "What," he asked. "Well, we know that the callers first name is Al, he didn't give his last name, and then he started to give his phone number and all we got on tape was the first 4 digits." "You gotta be kidding me?" Chris asked. "No, I wish I was. There down at the phone company now trying to run down the numbers with first name of Al. But it's going to take awhile." "Awhile? Forever's not as long as that's gonna take. Four numbers and a guy named Al," Chris said in disbelief, "and just why was the answering machine on at Crime Line. That's supposed to have an operator on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week," Chris said. "She was in the bathroom," Rita replied. Chris let out one of his patented Ha's. "So basically we have nothing, again." "Basically," Rita replied.

Just then an nurse approached them and said, "Mr. Lorenzo, Dr. Terry will see you now. Please, follow me." "Do you want to come with," he asked Rita, "I don't think it's gonna take long?" Rita, remembering yesterday's awkwardness with Dr. Terry declined, "No, I'll just wait here, go ahead." Chris gave her a quick kiss and followed the nurse to the exam room. "Well, Sergeant Lorenzo, good news huh, I see that you can see!" Dr. Terry began with a smile. Chris smiled back and shook the Doctor's hand. "Yeah, thanks Doc," Chris said. "Why don't you have a seat and we'll take a closer look and check everything out," Terry continued. Chris walked over and hopped up on the exam table. Dr. Terry started to look in his eyes, "Any headaches," "Just a small one, but not nearly as bad as last night," Chris explained. "That's to be expected, and you still have the pills if you need them." Chris nodded. "Just keep looking straight ahead please," Terry said. Chris sat still while the doctor examined his eyes. Dr. Terry pulled the light away and Chris adjusted his eyes. "Any dizziness, blurry vision, seeing double?" "No, nothing like that at all. It was just scary for awhile." Dr. Terry nodded. "I think I can understand that. Let's just give you a quick eye chart test and check the range," Terry added. Chris went through the chart with no problem. "Well, Chris, I think you'll be ok. No permanent damage, but I'd like you to take it easy, so no work till Wednesday and then desk work only, till next Monday ok, I'll write you up a note," Terry said. "Sure Doc, sounds good, and again, thanks so much." Chris jumped down off the exam table and waited for Terry to hand him the note. "Say, Chris, I was serious yesterday about that basketball league, we lost three guys a few weeks back, would you like to play?" Chris grinned and nodded, "Yeah, only I can't play this week, my doctor says I need to take it easy." "Good answer," Terry began, "It's Tuesday and Thursday nights, 6:30 till whenever, I'll call you next week and remind you, ok?" "Sure, sounds great Doc." "And it's Cameron, or Cam for short, and I'll call you ok?" Terry said handing him the note. "Yeah, great, and thanks again," Chris said as he walked out of the exam room.

It's gonna be great Pop," said the younger man. "We're set and I'm in. Lance and Lorenzo will never know what hit them. It's almost too easy. And I know I gotta be patient, it'll all come in time. It's just perfect," the younger man said with a smile. I'm going to start on Lorenzo first, I've already got it planned out, he'll be so out of it, he won't be able to help her, and then she'll be so tired from worrying over him, that I'll be able to make her suffer. For you, Pop, she'll suffer and wish she was dead. The old man breathed heavily, no emotion showed on his weathered face, he stared ahead, thru the glass, hoping soon he would get final revenge.

Some weeks passed, Tino was still underground. After the attempted raid, word on the street said Escuela may even have left the country. The mysterious man named Al and his four digit phone number were still being investigated. In the Palm Beach proper alone, over 800 names fit the bill, West Palm and the surrounding area put the possibilities in the thousands. Chris and Rita continued checking a few other leads in the meantime. Vice and Narco still searched for Tino and his two friends that were arrested were booked on possession charges. According to the arrested pals of Tino, he was still in Palm Beach, he was just trying to lay low because of the recent events. One of the guys was willing to give up Tino for the homicides, if he got immunity and a fresh life far away from Palm Beach. According to David Chavez, Tino had himself shot the two teenage boys. The boys, according to Tino, were getting greedy, stealing drug money from him, nothing made Tino crazier and so, Tino needed to make an example of them. In front of their own gang, he reportedly shot them both in the face. Hearing Chavez's story made Chris and Rita shudder, just thinking what kind of a man Tino Escuela was. The good news was that with Chavez doing his talking, Chris and Rita were able to learn that the Latino Kings gang was involved and some of their members may have witnessed the murders. Now, they had their work cut out for them.

Chris had formed a fast friendship with Cameron Terry, much to the dismay of Rita. Just in the couple of times she had now met him, she felt uneasy around him. He kept trying to touch her, or simply stare at her. When he did this, Chris was always in another room, so he didn't notice it. The basketball league was great, according to Chris and they found they had a lot in common too, like sports, cars, and the fact their grandmothers had raised them both.

At the loft on this particular Tuesday evening, Chris rushed around finding his gear and putting it into a gym bag. Rita watched him briefly and chuckled at his intentness, then turned her attention to his stereo and trying to get it to play some CD's. "Where's my ball?" he began. Rita didn't reply. "Sam, you seen my ball anywhere?" She continued punching buttons on the stereo, "Chris what is wrong with this?" she asked in a slight huff. He walked over by her, hit one button, glared at her and said, "It's called the play button," then walking away he added, "have you seen my basketball?" The music began instantly. Rita, disgusted, spun around and replied, "I think it's upstairs in your bed, I believe you slept with it again last night." Chris stopped dead in his tracks, looked at her and dropped his head, "what's that supposed to mean?" Rita waved it off, realizing she was being childishly jealous, "Nothing, I'm sorry." Chris wasn't going to let her off the hook right away, he was ready to play. "No, no, no, now what's up, you jealous of a bunch of sweaty guys? Cuz that's what it's sounding like." She smiled, "Not a bunch, maybe just one in particular." "What, Cam? Rita, come on, he's a good friend, and you could of come out last week with us all of us, everyone had there girlfriends or wives with 'em, it was fun." "I know, I know, I'm just kidding you." "You know, Cam is pretty cool, you should get to know him better," Chris said. "Are you trying to fix us up?" she asked. "Uh, no, not at all," he said as he walked over to her and hugged her strongly and gave her a quick kiss. "I love you, you know that," he said. "I love you too, I guess I just miss you a little lately," she answered. Sensing her jealously he said, "I'll be home early tonight, right after the game, I promise, just you and me ok, maybe we'll watch one of those tearjerkers you love so much, ok?" Rita nodded, "Promise?" she asked. He nodded and kissed her forehead. "I promise." "And by the way, your ball is upstairs, on the bed," she said laughing. While he was upstairs, she thought about Cam, and called out to Chris, "hey Chris, does Cam have a girlfriend?" Rita heard something fall upstairs and then Chris said loudly, "What, what did you say?" He came bounding down the stairs. "What just fell?" she asked? "Nothing, nothing, it's all fixed up, so what we're you saying?" "Chris?" Rita said. He looked at her with a smirk, "I have asked you time and time again, not to say Chris like that, you know, it reminds me of you know who, someone I'd rather forget." "Did you break something?" she continued. "No, no way," he paused, "I knocked over the lamp, it's ok I checked," he said raising his eyebrows. "So what did you say about Cam?" She dropped the noise issue and continued on with her original thought. "I was just wondering if he has a girlfriend?" she asked. "Yeah, I guess, he had some chick dangling on his arm last week, I don't think it was serious though, she was kind of a bimbo, I thought, why, you interested?" "Ah, no, I don't think so, one basketball freak in my life is plenty," she answered. "So why'd ya ask then, or do you want to fix him up with hmmmm," he paused putting his index finger to his lip, "let's see, Taylor, or Keisha or Diana or" his voice trailed off. "None of the above," she said slightly irritated, and continued by telling him about Cam's inquiry. "Do you know he tried to ask me out." "What, get out," he said looking at her with a puzzled look, but her question definitely peaked his interest "when?" he asked. She turned away from him so he couldn't see her expression, she loved making him jealous. "That Saturday, when your gun backfired, he gave me your prescriptions and asked me out, too bad you couldn't see the moves he tried to put on me," she said now making some of it up as she went on, completely and thoroughly enjoying herself. "Yeah sure, keep it up Sammy, I really believe that," he replied, not wanting to believe but actually dying a little bit on the inside. "Ask him," she started, "I'm sure he'll deny it now, knowing that you and I are together, but he didn't realize it then," she said. "Well, how can I be mad, in his place I'd have tried to ask you out too." Rita spun around and smiled at him, "right there when you were supposed to be working," she asked. "I don't know," he began, "I mean in case you don't realize it Rita, you're a knockout, hell I don't know what he was thinking, I've asked out girls while I was on the job too, so what's the big deal anyway?" "It was creepy I guess," she said and added, "never mind, I shouldn't have said anything, it's no big deal, he didn't know about us, you're right." He grabbed his gym bag and his ball, gave her a monster hug and said, "See ya, I'll be home early remember." "I'll be here, I love you," she answered.

The basketball game was in full swing. These guys were playing with the intensity of the NBA yet for nothing more than pride. Chris was lighting it up this particular night, much to the chagrin of Cameron. Chris and Cam were on opposite sides this night, assigned to guard each other, and Chris was showing him up bad. Everything was falling in for Chris, early in the third quarter, he had scored 22 points. His team was up by 14. Cam got angrier by the second, and so he figured it was time for him to kick his own personal plan into action. Chris had no idea what lay in store for him. The players moved quickly up and down the court, Chris was playing the point position, when the center from Chris' team scooped a rebound, Chris made a break for his basket. The center spotted Chris getting open just past half court and fired the ball to him. Chris cleanly fielded the pass and headed in to his basket, for an easy lay in and another two points. He never saw Cam on his blindside. As Chris went to lay in the basket, he felt his feet get tangled. Actually Cam had purposely tripped Chris, to the disbelief of the rest of the players. The ball caromed out of Chris' hands as Chris hit the floor, sliding belly down, the right side of his head and his right shoulder slammed into the unprotected gym wall. Chris let out a wail. He was in agony. Immediately, both teams huddled around him, as he lay curled up wincing from the pain. Cam was right next to him, asking him to tell him where he hurt. "My shoulder, my right shoulder, man, oh shit, it hurts," Chris let out. "Somebody call 911 and get an ambulance over here," Cam said as he checked over Chris. "I think it's dislocated Chris," he said glancing over his shoulder, "hang on we'll get you to the hospital and have it looked at." Cam also noticed some blood coming from the side of Chris' head. "I'm just gonna have you lay back, so we can raise up your feet, hey Pete, get a couple of blankets ok. Chris, how's your head feel?" Chris had started shaking and was getting pale, shock was setting in and Cam knew it. This was just so perfect, Cam thought to himself. He thought Chris probably had a concussion too. "Chris, hey talk to me, how's your head?" Cam asked again as Pete came back with the blankets. "Cam, call Rita ok, tell her I'll be late, tell her I'm sorry," Chris got out before he passed out. "He's in shock," Cam said, "Is the ambulance on its way?" "Yeah, it is, how's he doing?" "He'll be ok," Cam said. "Man, Cam, why'd ya trip him, this ain't a pro league? We're just out here for some fun." Cam stood up angrily and tried to defend himself, "I didn't trip him, our feet got tangled." Another player interjected, "No way man, we all saw it, you did it on purpose." And another added, "Yeah, it's just a game, Cam, two points is no big deal. You're just pissed cuz Chris was all over ya tonight." Cam vehemently denied any wrong doing, saying over and over that it was an accident, but no one was buying it. Finally the ambulance arrived and took Chris to the hospital.

At the hospital, after Chris had stabilized, Cam went to call Rita. She answered the phone thinking it was Chris, "Hey you, what's going on, the movie's already started." "Uh, Rita, it's Cam," he interrupted, "there's been an accident, Chris is at the hospital, he wanted me to call you." "What happened, is he ok, Cam what's going on?" she asked in a frightened tone. "It's ok, he's gonna be ok, it's just one of those weird, freaky, basketball accidents. He slammed pretty hard into the gym wall, dislocated his shoulder, and has got a bump on his head too, and a concussion. But he'll be ok." There was silence on the phone. "Rita, you ok? You want me to come and pick you up and bring you over here?" "No, I'm ok, I'll be right there, tell Chris I'm on my way ok?" "Yeah, sure, and Rita, really, he's gonna be alright, so take it easy getting over here ok? I don't want two patients. You're very special to me," Cam said. Rita hung up and thought about what Cam had just said. It was that same feeling again. Creepy.

He smiled as he hung up the phone. Phase one was all set now, a dislocated shoulder was perfect, he could make the pain last forever, at least he'd make sure the pain would be endless for Chris. Phase two.... One Rita Lee Lance.

Rita entered the darkened hospital room and saw Chris, his right arm was tightly mobilized against his chest, and a bandage was wrapped around the top of his head. His eyes were closed, his breathing was shallow but regular. He looked like a mess, she thought. She went over to the side of the bed and grabbed his left hand in hers, and kissed it softly. Slowly his eyes opened, and without moving his head, his blue eyes sought out her face. "Hey Sam," he said with a small smile. "Hey yourself," she answered, "we have to stop meeting like this. How do you feel?" He grinned, "I actually feel pretty good," he began, "whatever they gave me is working like magic. Kills the pain and the brain," he said with a chuckle. How are you?" he asked acting slightly out of it. She laughed at his giddiness, "I'm fine." "What did Cam say," he asked. "He said you have a concussion, along with a nasty gash on the side of your head, and you dislocated your right shoulder." "That's it," he asked. "That's enough, I think, but he says you'll live," she answered kissing his forehead. He tried taking a deep breath, but started coughing and his face suddenly tensed up in pain. "Chris, you ok, you alright," she said, stroking his face. He closed his eyes and waited for the coughing to subside. Then looking at her, "this arm is wrapped so tight, it hurts to breathe," he said motioning to his right arm. "Let me get Cam to give you something," she began. He pulled her back with his left hand and shook his head in disagreement. "No, Sam, I hate that stuff, it makes me too dopey. I've had enough already." "Chris, you've been injured, it's ok to ease the pain, you know, so you can rest." "I'll be ok, please Rita, I'll be alright, I just gotta get some sleep," he said softly, closing his eyes drifting off to sleep. Rita pulled up a chair along side his bed, held his hand and tried to rest herself, through the long night.

Early the next morning, Chris awoke and felt Rita's warm hand wrapped loosely around his own. Glancing down, he saw her sleeping on his hip. He squeezed her hand softly. She awoke slowly, at first, trying to remember where she was. Then she looked at Chris' familiar face and recalled the prior evening's happenings. "Good morning sleepyhead," Chris began, trying to move a little, but wincing as he did. Rita noticed it immediately. "Let me get a nurse," she said rising up from the chair and heading out of the room. "Sam, I'm ok," Chris called after her, but it was already too late, she was in the hall.

Entering the room with Rita, was Cameron. "Well, good morning Chris, Rita says your still in some pain huh?" Chris glared at Rita, "no it's not too bad, when can I go home?" Cam laughed and looked over at Rita. "You were right," he said to Rita, then turning back to Chris, "maybe another day or so Chris, you've got a concussion, we want to run some more tests today and make sure there are no hairline fractures or any other damage. I'm also going to start giving you an injection in that shoulder, it'll help heal it faster." "I just need to go home, I'm ok," Chris said again with a wince as Cam probed around his shoulder. "Sure you are, I'll have the nurse give you something for that right away. Just rest easy for now, I've got those tests scheduled to start at 11am," Cam explained. Rita walked out into the hall to talk with Cam, as Chris sulked in the hospital bed. As much as she hated having to talk with him alone, he was Chris' doctor as well as his friend, "I'm really glad that you were there last night Cam, thanks," Rita said. "Me too, you know the whole play was pretty freaky. We were both breaking down court, full out, and our legs got tangled somehow, we were tripping over each other, and then he's smashing head first into the wall, the next thing I knew Chris was rolling around in agony. I knew right away that he dislocated the shoulder. Man he was screaming." Rita sadly looked down. Cam took his hand and picked up her chin, "he'll be ok though." There he was touching her again. She shook her head, and backed away out of his touch "It's not that, it's just, first the backfire from his gun, and now this, I know he really hates hospitals, it goes back to when his grandma was dying. The doctors had her medicated so heavily, she barely recognized him. That broke his heart more than her dying. He hated that she didn't even realize he was there, that's why he doesn't want the pain medication." "I didn't know," said Cam, "say how about some coffee?" "Ah, I better get back in there, thanks anyway," she said trying to avoid him for any length of time. "Yeah sure I understand, I'll stop by later and we can maybe grab lunch while Chris is having his tests," Cam said. Rita tried to just ignore what he had said, "Thanks again Cam, for everything," Rita replied, just wanting to get away from him.

The nurse was just finishing up when Rita walked back into the room. Chris watched her walk back over towards him and he smiled. "See, don't you feel better already?" she asked. As much as he hated to admit it, he did, "Yeah, my shoulder does, my head is in the clouds though," he said chuckling. "So Cam said you tripped each other during the game, and you went flying head first, into the wall." "Well if that's what he said, that's what must have happened, cuz I don't remember anything. I don't even remember playing." "Aren't you guys on the same team, I mean why would you be tripping each other?" Rita asked. "It's a pick-up league Rita, you play with whoever shows up, there aren't assigned teams. That's what makes it fun," he tried to explain. "Why would you want to play with people you don't even know?" she continued. "I don't know, you just do, that's how it is, I can't explain it." "It seems silly, I mean, here you know Cam and some of the other guys, so why aren't you all a team?" she insisted. "Rita, I can't explain this right now, you're confusing me, and my head is swimming anyway, cuz of these drugs you made them give me, I think I want to sleep ok, ask me later?" he said closing his eyes.

Rita had called Cap later that morning and told him what had happened to Chris. Cap told her that some Latino Kings were willing to come forward, at least to talk off the record, about Tino Escuela and the murders of the two teenage boys. She told Cap she'd try to be in later that day to lead the interrogation.

Rita sat comfortably in the hospital chair with her feet up on Chris' bed, reading a magazine. A nurse and a nurse assistant had just taken Chris down for his tests. She had somehow managed to conveniently forget about her earlier conversation with Cam. He didn't. He quietly entered the room and watched her for a few seconds, before he cleared his throat to announce his arrival. Rita quickly sat up, "Hey Cam," she began, "ugh, Chris just went down for those tests you ordered." "I know, I ordered them, remember?" he said with a laugh. "Actually, remember, I told you that I'd take you to lunch." "You don't have to do that, I'm fine, I'll just wait for Chris, and maybe steal something off his plate, it's usually what I do anyway," she said trying desperately to avoid him and yet make pleasant small talk at the same time. Cam walked over closer to her chair and squatted down beside it, then grabbing the magazine he said, "nope, I won't take no for an answer, you're coming with me, 'sides it's gonna take awhile for those tests, and you know what they say about hospital food?" She knew she couldn't get out of this any longer. "Ok, alright," she said standing, "so where are you taking me?" "Cafeteria," Cam began seriously, "this hospital food is actually pretty good," he finished with a laugh.

"So are you from Palm Beach Rita," Cam continued the assault of questions on Rita. She was really getting tired of him, and wondered to herself how Chris could stand this guy. Not only did he act weird around her and this coming on to her was getting a little old, he was so boring too. He was acting like this was some sort of date, what's your favorite color, do you like being a cop, how do you like the food, it was driving her crazy, what was next, what's your zodiac sign? "Yeah, I'm from Palm Beach, went to PB High, State College and all that," she answered playing with a piece of lettuce. "What about you?" she asked in return, thinking he would talk about himself so she could pretend she was listening. "Well, I was born here, but my mom died and my pop sent me off to live with my grandma, up in Pennsylvania. Kind of like Chris, I guess, huh?" Rita nodded, Cam continued, "yeah my pop he got into some trouble and now he's in prison. My grandma though, she's 94, still lives up in Pennsylvania. She's in a home now." "I'm sure they're both proud of you being a doctor," Rita added. "I think so, well, I know Gram is, Pop, I don't know, he wants more out of me." Rita laughed at this strange comment, "Being a doctor is a lot Cam." Cam looked away from her and didn't answer. Rita went back to eating. After a few minutes of awkward silence, Cam reached for his beeper as it started to go off, then finally looking at Rita said, "Hey look, I gotta go, I'd really like to do this again. I like you a lot Rita, whattaya say?" Rita stopped dead in her tracks, "Cam, you know that Chris and I are together," she stopped in mid sentence, then continued, "I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't do that anymore. It makes me uncomfortable." Cam rose up from the table all the while staring at her. He went and stood beside her and leaned down next to her, "I hear what you're saying, but I think you mean something else, I'll talk to ya soon." Rita's face was filled with disbelief. By the time she recovered from the disgust she felt, he had exited the area. Good thing for him, because one more word out of his mouth and she would have slapped it. She wanted to take a shower and wash the slime off. Couldn't Chris see through this guy? Or was he a Jekyll and Hyde type?

Rita couldn't shake the feeling she had about Cam, should she just drop it or tell Chris about it. She figured she'd wait awhile, at least while he was still in the hospital. There was no need to tell him, nothing really had happened and she could handle Cam for now. As she walked back towards Chris' room she noticed Pete, one of Chris' longtime friends. Chris had gotten Pete into Cam's Y basketball league. "Hey Pete, how are you," Rita said giving him a hug. "Rita, it's good to see you, it's been too long, but I figure, Chris has been hiding you from everyone right?" She smiled, "Yeah, something like that," she began, "you here to see him?" "None other, but they said he's having some tests, so I'll have to check back later, I gotta get back to work, I just thought I'd stop during lunch. So, how's he doing?" "He's gonna be ok, he's got a concussion and he dislocated his shoulder, but Cam says he's doing good." Pete shook his head in agreement, "Yeah, well Cam oughta be taking real good care of him," Pete said. Rita looked puzzled, "Why, whattaya mean?" "Didn't Chris tell you?" he asked. "Tell me what Pete?" she questioned. "Well, Cam tripped him." "Cam said, they tripped each other, that their legs got tangled," Rita explained. "That's what he tried to sell to the rest of us too, we all saw it, Chris had him beat. Cam knew it, Chris was showing him up all night long, heck, Chris was showing us all up all night long, I guess Cam just took it more personally than the rest of us." "So he tripped him on purpose?" Rita wondered. "We all thought so, but if Chris didn't, well whatever, you know." "Chris doesn't remember it at all Pete, he believes Cam." "Look, I don't want start anything, it probably was just an accident. As long as Chris is ok, that's the main thing. Will you tell him I stopped by?" "Sure, thanks Pete, I'll see ya."

Rita was even more confused now. But she'd wait to tell Chris till she had him at home, away from the hospital and away from Cam. Hopefully away from Cam forever.

That afternoon Rita went to headquarters and put in a few hours. First she went and talked to Cap for awhile. She told him about Chris, his latest injuries and how long he'd be out for, then she decided to tell Cap about Cameron Terry. She needed to talk to someone about this guy, but since he and Chris seemed to be pretty good friends, she felt uncomfortable talking to Chris about Cam. She didn't want Chris to think she was jealous, like he couldn't have any friends outside of her. So she told Cap the whole story, all the creepy things and most recently what Pete had said about the basketball incident. "I don't think you have much to worry about Rita," Cap began, "it probably was an accident, you know guys, they get worked up over something as silly as a basketball game, then they take it too serious and someone gets hurt. As long as Chris is ok, that's the main thing." Rita looked dejected. "What, is there something else?" Cap asked. She let out a breath, "No, I guess not, you're probably right," "But what, you feel something else, don't you?" She smiled, "I can't explain it, but yeah I do." "You want me to check him out?" Cap offered. "No, it's not that," she started, "I think it is just me being jealous, I'll get over it." "Well while you're getting over it, maybe you can go question those kids, they've been here since about 1 o'clock. "Ok, ok I'm going," she said. Cap watched her leave and wondered to himself, Rita's 'feelings' were usually right on. He'd make a mental note to check out this Terry fellow.

The interrogation of two members of the Latino Kings went very well. Both had witnessed the murders and could identify Escuela as the sole gunmen. Right now, these two needed protection. There was no telling what Escuela would do to them, if he found out they were talking to the cops. Rita had them placed in protective custody and went directly to Donovan to ask for a warrant for the arrest of Tino Escuela.

The next day Rita brought Chris home to the loft. She insisted he go up to bed right away and that she'd fix him some dinner. "I'm not very hungry Sam, my shoulder's pretty sore, so I think I'll just catch some sleep ok?" Chris explained. "Did Cam give you one of those injections again today?" she asked. "Yeah, but he said I'd be sore for a week or so, the injection is just supposed to help heal it, it's not for the pain," Chris said shrugging and setting the bottle of pain pills on the kitchen table. Rita sighed heavily and watched him slowly make his way up the stairs. She grabbed the bottle of pills off the table that he had just set down and followed after him. He was sitting on the edge of the bed, easing his right arm out of the jacket he was wearing. "Let me help you," she began, going over to him and sliding it off. As he bent down to take off his shoes, she gently pushed him back up and reached down and did it for him. "Agghhhh," he murmured laying back on the bed. Rita grabbed the bottle of pills from where she had set it down. She began to open the bottle. Chris watched her. "Here, Sam," she said handing him one of the oblong pills. He shook his head no, "I'm ok, just tired, I don't need a pill." Rita was not convinced, nor was she ready to give up, "Look Sam, it's not a big deal, you're in pain and these pills will take the pain away, they'll let you rest, and that's what you need to get better." Chris glared at her and thought to himself that he didn't want to have this discussion with her again. He had only told her about his aversion to pain medication when the subject of his grandma had come up one night, it would have been Grandma Rose's 95th birthday and he was feeling a little down. He bit the side of his lip as he continued. "Rita, I've told you about this and explained it to you, I thought you said you understood why I hate taking pills like that." Rita sat down on the bed beside him and took his hand. "I do," she began, "but this is different, you're not dying Chris, these aren't going to make you like your grandma." She stopped what she was saying, knowing immediately from his hurt expression on that came to his face that it wasn't the right thing. Chris let go of her hand. "You weren't there Rita, I can't forget that, thanks to those pills, I'll always remember my Grandmother like that. I hate that. I'd rather take the pain." Rita looked down at him, his eyes were icy blue, filled with sadness. "Ok, ok," she said giving in for now, "just try and get some sleep then, I'll be downstairs." Chris watched her walk away and softly said to her, "thanks Sam."

Chris never heard the phone ring in his loft that evening, Rita picked it up, said hello, and listened in fear at the voice on the other end. The calls she had been getting for the last few days were just silence, this time it was different. She hung up quickly, wanting to forget what she had just heard.

Phase one was in place, and now phase two had begun, weaken the man and completely destroy the woman.

Tino Escuela was not a happy man sitting in the Palm Beach City jail. The warrant had been served and homicide and vice were happy to carry out the order. They found Tino easily this time, driving up his palm tree lined drive to his 17-room mansion. Tino's own version of a dream team worked steadfastly at getting him out. Bail was set at two million dollars, even for Tino that was too steep. An unknown benefactor stepped forward and paid the bail in cash. Neither Tino nor PBPD knew what to make of this transaction. So Tino was out again. As he left the jail, Rita watched from the steps with George. Tino blew her a kiss.

Tino sat in his mansion running his multi-faceted 'business' as best he could, while awaiting his trial for the murder of two teenagers. His bodyguard led a man into Tino's private study. The man nodded at the bodyguard and looked over to Tino who sat behind a desk. "What can I do for you, Mr.," Tino said probing for the man's name. The man walked closer to the desk, leaned over, ignored telling Escuela his name and said, "I'm glad you asked Mr. Escuela, for two million dollars I expect a rather large favor." "Ahh, so you are the mysterious man, I thank you," Tino slightly bowed, then began to rise to offer his new friend a drink. "No thank you, nothing for me, but please indulge yourself if you must," said the man. Tino nodded and poured himself a drink, "So what is it I can do for you my benefactor?" "I know you have a appetite for beautiful women, I have one that I would like you to take care of for me." A menacing smile overcame Tino's face, he lifted his glass in toast to the man before him and listened to his proposition.

Two weeks later Chris arrived back to work. Still in obvious pain to everyone. "Lorenzo, get in here, now," Cap wailed from the doorway of his office. Chris glanced at Rita and then kept walking over to the office, "Good to see you too, Cap," he said as he strode into Harry's office and plunked down in a chair. "Lorenzo, you don't look so good yet, you need some more time off or what?" "I'm ok Cap, and I'm only on desk duty anyway. I need to get my mind off this pain anyway," he said indicating to his shoulder. "You're sure, Chris?" Harry asked in a fatherly tone, "you don't look like you've been eating to good." Chris looked at him puzzled for the sudden change in gruff temper, "well, I haven't Cap, but I got the note from the doctor, so here I am. I'm alright, " he said with a patented Lorenzo grin. Cap nodded in agreement and changed the subject to something else Chris really didn't want to talk about. "So, how's things between you and your partner going?" Chris squirmed a little in his chair. They had told Harry about their newfound relationship, and with his blessing, for now, they had kept things fairly low key. "Things are good," was Chris' simple reply. "She's, uh, been spending a lot of time at your place huh?" Harry continued the inquisition. "Yeah, with this" Chris said motioning towards his shoulder, "Why, is that a problem Cap?" "No, no, nothing like that, she's just been acting pretty bogged down lately, I thought maybe you'd noticed too. She's a little distant." Cap said. "She's been working hard on the Escuela case, bringing home work on it all the time, you know preparing for the trial," Chris said, unsure of where Harry was going. "You haven't noticed anything else?" Harry started. "No, is there something else Cap?" Chris said; getting a little worried. "She's been getting some weird phone calls here, and the other day someone brought her some mail for someone named Donald Fontana. She got really upset over that," Cap explained. "What?" Chris stood up, "she never said anything to me about that," he said ready to head out of Cap's office to confront Rita. "Lorenzo, what is it, who is Donald Fontana anyway," Cap probed. Chris froze at the door, looking out at Rita, working at her desk. He hadn't noticed anything. Why hadn't she said anything to him, was he too wrapped up in himself to be there for her if she needed him. He turned back around and faced Cap. "Donald Fontana was Rita's father, he killed himself when she was seven." Chris replied walking out of the room.

Chris grabbed Rita and led her to Interrogation Room 3. "Chris what's going on, I've got a lot of work to do," she began slightly annoyed. "Work can wait," he started, just looking at her, unsure of what exactly to say or even if he should. "What, Chris, what is so important?" He thought some more, and rather than confronting her with a 'Cap told me this attitude,' he'd take a more personal approach. He calmed himself down and began to speak to her in a softer tone, "Sam, you know you can talk to me right? I mean, I'm here for you, just like you've been there for me." She gave him a strange look, "yeah, so? Where's this going?" He looked at her reaction, nothing seemed different, but then Rita always had that look of complete control about her, even when everything around her was falling apart, sometimes that really drove him crazy. "Is everything ok Sam?" he asked softly. Rita looked at him and shook her head and began to walk out of the room. "Everything," she accentuated, "is just fine, I gotta lot of work Chris, I gotta go," she said leaving. Chris remained in the room wondering what was indeed happening.

The rest of the day, Rita felt like someone was watching her, following her every move, whether she was in the police building, driving in her car, eating lunch or stopping at the store after work for some groceries. She looked around, glancing at all the faces, seeing no one in particular, no one out of the ordinary. The feeling grew worse. As she came out of the supermarket, she noticed a flyer on her car. She put the groceries into the trunk and grabbed it off the windshield. She reached for the side of the car to steady herself as she read the flyer. Someone had put a picture of her father on it, above it, it said WANTED DEAD, below it, it read, OOPS, ALREADY DEAD, DONALD FONTANA, RIP. She crumpled it up, glanced around at the other cars, none but hers had a flyer on it. She searched the lot for any movement, anything out the ordinary. Only the warm wind blew threw her hair. In the darkened distance of shadows, Tino Escuela watched her. His appetite would certainly be quenched with this woman, he thought.

Chris had left work early, his day had gone from bad to worse. Not only was there this thing going on with Rita, but he had begun to physically feel worse all day. When he got back to the loft he headed straight to bed. Rita quickly drove over to Chris' place, intent this time on showing him the flyer and telling him about the phone calls and mail she had gotten in the last week or so. She was sorry she kept it from him for this long, but with everything he was going through, she didn't want to dump anymore on him. It was getting out of hand now and she needed his help, she needed his strength and most importantly she needed his love. This morning's brief and abrupt conversation with him reaching out to her finally helped her realize it.

There were no lights on in his loft when she got there. Rita called out in the darkness, "Chris, you here? Chris?" She flipped on the lights and saw no one downstairs, she walked up the stairs and saw him sleeping. She called his name again as she got nearer, "Chris, hey, what's going on?" She sat down on the bed next to him and put her hand out to touch his face and wake him. As she did, she felt heat pouring out from his cheek. "Chris," she said shaking him. He turned over and groggily looked at her. "You're burning up, why didn't you say something earlier?" she said beginning to mother him. He tried to sit up, but she wouldn't let him. "I'm ok, just a little tired, it just came on this afternoon maybe I shouldn't have gone back to work." "No, Chris, something is wrong, you've got a fever, and you're barely awake. I'm gonna call Cam. Did you take anything?" "No, no, nothing, not even an aspirin," he said rubbing his face. Rita was already dialing the phone, "Cam, this is Rita, yeah Chris is sick, he's got a fever, no, he hasn't taken anything, he just says he's tired, but he's burning up, ok, alright, we'll be here, just hurry." She looked at Chris who seemed to have fallen back asleep, she took his hand and he opened his eyes. "Cam's coming right over, he said he's closer to us than the hospital, you'll be ok," she said kissing his forehead and cheek. He managed to a small smile and looked into her eyes. She looked frightened, but he could tell it wasn't because he was sick, it was something else. "Sam, what is it, what's wrong?" he asked reaching for her face. She closed her eyes as he caressed her cheek and allowed herself to be taken care of, if only for a moment. She smiled back at him and opened her eyes, "It's just you I'm worried about," she tried to explain, hiding her true reason. He wasn't buying it, he knew her too well, "Come on Sammy, what is it? What's going on? You can tell me, let me help," he prodded while trying desperately to fight the sleepiness that sought to overtake him. Rita saw his eyes start to droop, "You just rest now, we'll talk later, I promise, now go to sleep." Slowly he closed his eyes.

Cam arrived about twenty minutes later and checked Chris out. His fever was 103, but he didn't think it was all that serious, since it had just seemed to come on during the day. He gave Chris a shot of penicillin and told Rita to keep giving him lots of fluids, keep him covered up, take his temperature, and make sure he got plenty of rest. On his way out, Rita walked him to the door and thanked him for coming over so quickly. "No need for thanks, I like to take special care of all my friends," Cam began, reaching for her hands. She quickly put them behind her back to prevent it from happening. "So, Rita, is everything ok between us," Cam said sensing her fear. "Well Cam, there's really nothing between us," Rita began, "I mean, you're Chris' friend and doctor, and I respect that, but that's it ok?" she tried to explain. "I think there's more Rita, I know you can feel it too." Rita was getting frustrated again, here he had come over and helped Chris out and for that she was grateful, but here she was getting these mixed signals again. "Cam, I mean what I say, there is nothing between you and me, there never will be. Please stop doing this, or" she paused. "Or what, you're going to tell Chris. I'm scared of that!" "No Cam, or I'll take care of you myself, thank you for coming over for Chris, goodbye," she stated opening the door up for him. He smiled at her snootily, nodded and left. She closed the door and locked it tight.

He stood outside on the street beside his car, looking up at the window. He had placed the listening device in a discreet location, they'd never spot it. He needed to tell himself to cool it, though he was coming on a bit too strong, too soon. Things weren't quite set just yet. He must have patience like his father.

Two days later Chris' condition had improved. According to Cam, he must have contracted some sort of infection, probably while he was in the hospital. He was well enough to stay at home and recuperate. In the meantime, Rita's torment had escalated. She started having nightmares about her father again. It hadn't been since the Jasmine case that she had those. No doubt the phone calls, mail and that flyer had all dredged up those painful memories. Now more incidents were happening to her. She had stopped to pick up some clothes at the dry cleaner and when she opened the package, a man's suit, circa 1970, was part of her order. On her computer at work, someone had scanned in a photo of her with her father and turned it into her screen saver. When she stopped at her apartment to pick up some things, her neighbor told her that a man had been there twice inquiring about a Rita and Donald Fontana.

Cam had stopped in to check on Chris. The two were enjoying a basketball game on TV when Rita walked in slightly shaken. Rita was surprised to see Cam there, and even more surprised to see Chris the happiest he had been in long time. She quickly begged off from sitting down and chatting with them, but just the sound of their friendly chatter and laughter helped lift her mood. Maybe she was just letting all this get to her a little too much. For a little while she forgot about the last few days. She kept herself occupied in the kitchen, still not wanting to get anywhere near Cam. Before long he got up and called out to Rita to say that he was leaving. She walked into the living room area and said a courteous goodbye. Chris walked him over to the door, "Bye, man, see ya soon," Chris said. "Yeah, you got another appointment day after tomorrow, see ya then," Cam answered as he left. Rita walked over to Chris and he swept her into a hug. "What's that for," she said. "I don't know, just that I love you I guess," he said releasing her and kissing her on the lips. "So, you're feeling awfully good tonight?" she said questioning his mood. "Yeah, I am, I guess I shouldn't have fought it for so long." "Fought what," Rita asked. "I've been taking those pain pills for a couple of days now, they do take the pain away. And I feel pretty good. My shoulder even feels a little stronger," Chris explained. "That's good," Rita said weakly, wondering what had possessed him to do this, "who talked you into taking them?" she continued. Chris tilted his head to the side, gave her a look and went over to the sofa, sat down and patted it, motioning for Rita to join him. "I guess Cam did, what he said made sense, you know, why fight it, the key is to get better, and according to him, that's what they'll do, I mean, he is the doctor, right? And the only side effect I'm having is that I'm feeling a whole lot better." Rita sat down next to him and tucked her head under his. "I'm glad you're feeling better, she said turning her head so she could kiss him. "You know, I've missed this, we really haven't spent too much time together lately, just you and me, you know, talking and stuff," he said pulling out of the kiss they were locked in. "And what kind of stuff are you referring too," she asked longing for his kiss again and leaning into him for another. "Well, that, that kind of stuff," he said, while she continued running her lips on his cheek and along the side of his neck, "and that kind of stuff too," he added, then broke off and said, "but really Sam, how is everything? You know, between us? I mean, you had something on your mind the other night, right? When I got sick?" She stopped suddenly and drew away from him, "Whattaya mean?" "I dunno, I guess, are you happy? With us? Or is there something wrong? Is something bothering you?" he asked, remembering the conversation he had had with Cap. "Yeah, I'm happy, are you?" she replied. "Absolutely, cuz I have you, forever, I love you and I know you love me, you've always been there for me Sam, and I want you to know that I'm here for you too." She rested her head back onto his chest, "I know," she said quietly, "just hold me for awhile." She still wasn't ready to say anything, maybe it was no big deal he thought, he wouldn't push her. She'd tell him when she was ready. She always did. He wrapped his arms around her and sighed heavily as they both got comfortable, and for a change, they both a peaceful night.

Early the next morning Chris awoke, his arm feeling a little sore, he carefully slid out from under Rita and headed into the kitchen to take a pill. He popped one into his mouth and slid some water down as a chaser and then began to make some coffee. He stood looking out the window trying to rotate the stiffness out of his shoulder. He stopped suddenly as the pain overtook him. Rita had walked in and witnessed his movement. Trying not to scare him, she spoke in a hushed tone, "You ok?" He stood still for a moment, then turned around to see her, "Good morning to you too, sunshine," he said in a happy tone, attempting to cover up for the pain he felt. She walked over and kissed him, "Good morning, are you ok, and what's for breakfast," she asked raising her eyebrows. "That's better, yes I'm fine, although sleeping on the couch all night probably wasn't a great idea for this shoulder, however I just took a pill, and right now, just coffee." "Would you like me to fix you something? You haven't been eating very much lately, that's not like you." she said going over to the refrigerator. "No, that's ok, I'm just not really hungry this morning, coffee's fine." "Well, I am, so let's see what you've got," she said rummaging through his shelves. Chris went to sit down at the counter and saw Rita's dry cleaning lying across one of the stools. He noticed the man's suit. Jokingly he said, "Hey Rita, this suit is definitely not mine." She spun around quickly and went to grab it. It was too late, Chris had picked it up and was laughing at it, but then he noticed Rita's terrified look as well as a letter in the pocket. He grabbed the piece of paper and began to read it. Rita went to snatch it away from him, but he stood up and kept it out of her reach. Before he began, he said to her, "What is this, what's going on?" "It's nothing Chris, it's, well it's obviously someone else's. The dry cleaner just accidentally put it in with my order. I just haven't been able to take it back yet." He nodded in agreement, but he wasn't buying her story. "And what about this letter, since when do dry cleaners leave letters in clothing?" "I don't know Chris, look, maybe it was in there when it was brought in, I mean it's none of my business, I didn't even know it was in there," she said justifying her belief. "Hmmm, that's funny, it's addressed to a Rita Lee Fontana, I think that's you, isn't it?" "Very funny Chris," she said trying again to get it from him. "I'm not laughing Rita, are you going to tell me what's going on now, or should I read this and figure it out myself," Chris said. "Just give it to me, ok," she answered angrily. With that she plucked it from his hand, looked at the envelope and furiously ripped it open. Chris stood back and watched her take out her frustrations. She quickly read the one sheet that was inside, getting more upset by the moment. She let out a deep breath and irately crumpled it up, left it on the counter, and brushed past Chris into the living room.

Chris stood stunned momentarily, he grabbed the crumpled paper and opened it up, on it, he read, Violets are blue, roses are red, look out Ms. Fontana, or like Donald you'll be dead! Chris reread the line over and over, then he set the paper back down on the counter and went to Rita. She sat on the couch, running her hand through her hair and wiping an occasional tear from her eyes. Chris went and sat down beside her, "Are you going to tell me now?" he asked. She turned and looked at him directly with a blank look on her face. "I don't know where to start." He put his arm around her, "How 'bout at the beginning." She told Chris about the phone calls, first just silence, then a distorted voice asking for Donald Fontana, then the mail for him, the flyer on her car, the computer at work, her neighbor's asking who Donald Fontana is, and now this dry cleaning thing. He hugged her tightly with both arms and brushed away the tears that were now falling steadily. Then she continued, "And I started having those nightmares again, Chris. The ones about my Dad, I thought I made it past that, I thought those fears were gone, I hoped they were, I hoped cuz I have you now, that I could get past that. I'm so scared Chris and I thought I could handle it, but it just keeps getting worse. I need you so much, but," "But what," Chris interrupted. "Well, first with the backfire, then the basketball accident and the infection, " she stopped, "this just seemed so stupid to even bring up. At first, I just thought my mind was playing tricks on me, but this is real Chris, isn't it?. Who is doing this and why," "I don't know," he said, " but we'll find out, we'll take of it, I promise."

The young man was engrossed by the conversation he was hearing. Lance and Lorenzo were beginning their transformation, both driven to the brink of madness thanks to him and his plan. They'd be begging just to die before long. The man's body, systematically being broken down and corrupted, the woman's mind filled with past atrocities and horrors. The perfect couple, the dynamic duo, so full of promise and hope, was now entering a final journey of fear, pain and ultimately death.

Five days after Chris had begun to take the pain pills Cam had given him, he had another appointment with him. Cam gave Chris another injection and asked how the pain pills were working. He already knew what Chris' answer would be. "The first couple of days Cam, I felt great, but these last couple of days," Chris shook his head in despair, "they just don't seem to be doing the trick, the pain is constant, maybe even worse." Cam started probing around the shoulder and immediately Chris winced in pain. "How many have you taken today so far?" "Just one this morning, like the prescription says," Chris said. "I think I'll give you a stronger dosage." Chris tried to disagree, "What about therapy, or heat or whirlpool treatments or something like that, wouldn't that help?" Chris wanted anything other than drugs. Cam laughed a little, "Who's the doctor here, you or me?" he paused, "Listen Chris, you're not ready for that yet, it's still tender, it needs to heal, I don't want you to start therapy yet, it could do more damage, you can understand that, can't you?" "Yeah," Chris hesitated, "it's just, well, what kind of side effects is a stronger dosage gonna have?" "It might make you a little groggy, sleepy, maybe even lightheaded at times." "See, I don't want it then man, that's not for me." "Chris, if you don't allow this to heal properly, you'll end up having pain worse than this for the rest of your life, is that what you want?" "No, it's just," he was going to tell him about Rita's incidents but held back, "how am I supposed to work if I'm groggy?" "You're gonna have to take it easy, maybe just work half days or even just work at home," Cam explained, "I'll write you up a note." "I'm a cop Cam, I can't solve a homicide from my loft." "Chris, these side effects may happen, they might not, we won't know until you give them a try ok, let's just wait and see, you trust me right?" "Yeah Cam, you're the doctor."

Rita had stopped by her apartment during lunch. Since Chris had been sick, she had been spending so much time at his place, that she needed to check in and pick up her mail, feed the fish and check for any phone messages. There was a small package crammed into her mail slot. She rattled it around and looked for the return address. There wasn't one. She slowly began to open it. She looked in horror at what she saw a small model of a bathtub, a 'Ken' doll dressed up in a suit, with a toy gun in his hand, a large red stain was sprayed upon the dolls chest. She dropped it where she was standing and quickly left.

Chris sat at his desk, rubbing his temples, when an upset Rita walked through the Palm Tree Doors after lunch. He didn't even notice her come in. She walked over to him, wanting to talk desperately and said, "Chris, I need to talk to you right away," Chris looked up, his eyes were heavy, his skin pale and clammy. Rita looked on in pain at his appearance. "Oh God, Sam, what's going on now?" "Don't get all worried, I'm ok, Cam just changed my prescription, and I already called him back and told him that I feel like hell." "Well, it you feel as bad as you look it's no wonder, what did he say?" "Just to see how the rest of the day goes, I may just have to adjust to it." "Well, then, you're just going to adjust to it at home, cuz that's where I'm taking you," Rita said pulling his chair out. "And what am I gonna do there?" "You're going to get some rest, cuz you look like you need some," she answered trying to get him to stand up. "I'm working on something here," he said. "It can wait," Rita said, prying him from the chair and leading him out. The file on Chris' desk lay open, it was some information he found on Donald Fontana. Cap watched the interplay between Chris and Rita from his office. He could never remember seeing them both this down for so long. Something had to give. At least, he thought, they had each other now, that was the main thing. But he wanted to help get them back on their feet. Twenty minutes later, Cap walked out to Lorenzo's desk and was about to toss some paper work onto it, when he noticed the Fontana file, he picked it up and headed back into his office and began to read it.

"So what do you need to talk about?" Chris asked Rita as she was driving. "Nothing, it can wait," Rita said, trying to remain calm. Chris glanced at her as she was driving, she still remained cool, she kept things locked so far inside sometimes, he wondered how much he didn't know about her. "Come on Sam, we talked about this, let me in, let me help," he began again. She looked over to him, "you know you're really crazy, I'm supposed to be taking care of you right now, I mean look in the mirror." "Then you better join me in that, cuz anyone can see that something is eating away at you," he answered, "Did something else happen?" She didn't reply and continued to drive in silence, literally ignoring him, but thinking to herself about what she had to do. Chris waited for an answer, but got frustrated by her silence, and this medication was getting to him, he was way too tired to continue trying. He fell asleep in the car.

Rita gently coaxed Chris into waking up as she parked outside of his loft, he was absolutely out of it, but he woke up enough to get upstairs into his loft, and crawl into bed. Rita couldn't make herself go back to work either, whether it was merely out of concern to stay with Chris, or slightly more indulgent, trying to forget the days events. She made herself some tea and laid down on the sofa. Sleep came just as easy to her, as it had to Chris, only it wasn't nearly as restful. Before long she began to have that nightmare. The one where she saw her father in the bathtub, wearing his clothes, at first he seemed to be reaching for her, then instead, in his hand there was a gun, and just as he pointed it at himself, she woke up screaming. Chris heard the scream, sat up in his bed and came barreling down the stairs as fast as he could. He saw Rita, on the sofa, scrunched up in a ball, her arms holding her legs tightly, and slowly rocking back and forth, shaking from the terror. "Rita," he called out, putting out his own arm onto a table for support. He felt like he was going to fall over. Rita turned and saw him nearly tip over. She quickly got up and went over to him, holding him, he, in return, hugged her close. "Chris, what is this, what's happening to us." "I don't know, Sam, I don't know," he answered, his voice trailing off.

Over the next few days, a new pattern began, Rita got virtually no sleep at all and Chris was practically sleeping all the time. He finally went and saw Cam again. "These pills are killing me Cam, I'm sleeping all the time, I can't eat anything, I haven't been able to work, hell I don't even know what day it is" Chris stated. "How does your shoulder feel?" "I think it's better, but I'm not awake long enough to know. This is killing Rita, Cam, not to mention me, there's gotta be something else I can do," Chris said almost pleading. Cam turned his back to Chris and went to a medicine cabinet and pulled out another bottle of pills. "There is, Chris," he started, "I wish you wouldn't have taken so long to let me know that you were having some problems, these are cyptocyclitritorium, take one every time you take the lapitanium pill for pain. It'll allow the pain pill to do its job, but it should neutralize the other effects of lapitanium, like the sleepiness. You know I've never seen anyone have such an adverse reaction to lapitanium." "Are you sure this is going to help me?" Chris asked. "Yes Chris, have I ever lied to you? This injury was pretty severe. I keep telling you it's going to take time, and everyone reacts differently to medications, we'll find the right combination, don't worry." "I've never had an injury like this before, that's kept me out of things for so long," Chris said exhaling hard. "You'll be alright, now why don't you roll up your sleeve for another injection."

Rita couldn't find enough to do to keep herself occupied. Sleeping meant nightmares, and being awake meant wondering what dreaded terror would be waiting to scare her. While Chris was at the Doctor's office, she decided to take a run. It had been about a week since she had gone, maybe the physical exercise would help clear her head. She had a few different routes that she liked to run, and one of her favorites that she had discovered was near Chris' loft. She chose the longest, through Biscayne Park. It had a special trail just for jogging or walking that was lined with palm trees and other foliage. At about the six-mile mark, she pulled up with a slight cramp in her calf, she slowed down and decided to walk out the pain. As she walked she noticed a stone on the edge of the path, she hadn't ever noticed it before, it was almost pure white, and it was out of place on this trail. The closer she got, she noticed something lying on the top of the rock. It was a black rose, withered and barely in tact. She thought it was odd, then she noticed some writing on the back of the rock. In black spray paint was written RIP ... DLF - 1970, RLF - 1998. She stood staring at it for what seemed like an eternity, then she looked around and saw a dark figure up ahead, he looked familiar, but she couldn't move and he was too far off in the distance, he turned and headed into the trees, then he was gone. She was frozen, by what she had seen and who she recognized, then step by step she began to coil away from the spot, almost stumbling, then breaking into a dead run.

Entering his loft, she was completely out of breath, Chris sat on the sofa, with his head back, listening to some quiet jazz. Rita slammed the door behind her and nearly fell onto the floor in total exhaustion. "Rita, what is it, what happened?" Chris said standing up and going towards her. He knelt down beside her to see if she was injured. She was so expended, she couldn't speak, she just kept taking deep breaths, as if each would be her last. "Rita, what's wrong, what's going on," Chris said taking her in his arms. He took his hand and brushed the hair out of her face, she still gasped for air, now tears began to flow. "It happened again," she said breathlessly. "What, what now?" "The path, a marker," she gasped. "A marker, what are you talking about?" She looked at him with hollow, haunted eyes. He sensed this latest episode was even worse than before. "Sshhh, Sammy," he began holding her tightly, "Just relax, calm down, then let's start over ok, tell me everything, from the beginning."

Slowly Rita got her senses back on track. Being in Chris' arms made her feel secure. If she could only stay this way forever. Her breathing began to regulate and the tears had stopped for the moment. Chris waited a long time before he began to talk to her. "Sammy, you ready to tell me yet?" he said softly, never loosening his grip on her. "I went for a run, out at Biscayne Park," she began, "and " she stopped. "And what," he asked. Her eyes widened remembering the whole episode. "I gotta call Cap," she stated trying to get up. He held onto her "No, Rita, tell me, what happened out there." "I think it's Escuela Chris, I saw him out there, and then he just walked away." "Are you sure?" She nodded her agreement, "he's sick Chris, I don't know how he found out about me, or my father, but I know that was him, I can't believe he's doing this. Let me call Cap, so we can get another warrant and pick him up." Chris couldn't believe what she was saying, "For what, Rita, being in a public park?" "No, for stalking, Chris, there was a marker out there on the path, it had DLF - 1970 and RLF - 1998 painted on it, right under RIP." "That doesn't prove it was him," Chris tried to explain, "but let's call Cap and get a team out there to look at it and check out the area," he said. She turned to him in disbelief, breaking free from his grasp, "You don't believe me?" "It's not that Rita," he paused, "but you can't just go having someone arrested because he's at the park the same time you are." She stood up and looked down at him, "No, you really don't believe me do you, none of it," she started, "how much more do I have to go through, before you see that someone is playing with my head. It's driving me crazy." He stood up next to her, "I believe you, I believe all this stuff is happening to you," he said, "but Escuela doesn't fit Sam. You said it yourself, how would he know about your Dad?" Rita rubbed her head and closed her eyes trying to make sense of it, "I don't know," she said as he grabbed her and held her close. While all this was happening Rita hadn't even noticed the appearance of Chris. Slowly over the past month or so, he was changing, both physically and mentally. Perhaps now, she was too busy trying to come to terms with the latest event in her own life to stop and worry about Chris. He hadn't eaten anything substantial for weeks now, he had no appetite and his face was becoming drawn, with deep circles forming under his eyes. He was no longer the handsome, energetic, outgoing, young man that most people knew. He was withdrawn, quiet and somber. He wasn't really tired anymore, just lethargic, though his heart beat raced. And though he wanted to help her, his mind and body seemed to be out of his control. And worst of all, he didn't even realize it.

Cap stopped over to the loft after he was finished at the scene in Biscayne Park.. Rita had wanted to head back down there, but Chris had somehow managed to convince her to stay put. They both stayed out of each others way till Cap showed up. When Cap entered, he couldn't believe the sight of them. Rita was a nervous wreck pacing the loft, while Chris looked like he was ready for the Grim Reaper. Appearances aside, they both were on opposite sides of the room, as far away from each other as possible, rather than the happy-loving, clingy couple that he had come to love as if they were like his own children. Cap hadn't realized that things between them were so strained. He wondered what they had really been going through. "What'd ya find out Cap?" Rita nervously asked. Cap glanced at Chris who seemed to be in a daze then back at Rita, "Not much, there was no stone or marker, and so many people use that path, who knows who may have been on it or not," he explained. "There had to be, I saw it," Rita whined, "maybe I should head down there and show them." Cap grabbed her and motioned for her to sit down. "I sent the team home Rita, there's nothing down there, we combed the whole area, just like you said. There was nothing out the ordinary." "Come on Sam, ease up," Chris finally spoke up. She couldn't. "So what, I'm making all this up, crazy Rita Lance is at it again," she said in her own defense. "No one is thinking that Rita," Cap started, "I'm going over to ask Escuela some questions right now." Rita shook her head and looked down. "I believe you Rita," Cap continued. "I do too," Chris added.

As Cap got into his car, he radioed for another unmarked car to get over to Chris' address and stay put. He wasn't sure what was going on yet, but if someone was after Rita, he wanted to take every precaution to keep her safe, to keep both of them safe, cuz Chris looked like he was in no condition to help. He also radioed to Daryl Pearson to meet him at Tino's residence. He fill him in on the latest developments before they went inside.

Cap was too late calling in on both accounts. Already inside Chris' building were two shadowy figures, holed up in a utility closet, listening intently to the conversation going on inside Chris' loft, thanks to a bugging device set in place a few weeks back. When Cap and Daryl arrived they found that Tino was not at home. None of his staff knew exactly where he was at. Cap radioed the unit stationed out in front of Chris' place and they reported that there had been no movement in or out. Cap told them to stay put and stay alert, who knew what this night had in store.

Cap went back to headquarters. Something about Escuela didn't seem right, why would he be after Lance. It wasn't his MO. He sat back in his chair and began to peruse the file Chris had dug up on Donald Fontana and started to read about a man named Harlan Cameron. This guy apparently got Fontana involved in a phony deal and scammed away his money, which eventually drove Fontana to commit suicide. Seven years ago, Chris and Rita had gone undercover to finally arrest Cameron and send him to jail. Cap ran Harlan Cameron through the computer and learned that he was still serving time in jail. He thought he had struck out. Interestingly enough the computer kept spilling out some information. Harlan Cameron had had a son. According to records, the boy would now be 33. His last known address was in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The mother was deceased, and apparently, Harlan Cameron had given guardianship rights for his son when the boy was four, to his maternal grandmother, a Sylvia Terry. Cap typed in some prompt on command on his laptop and waited for the name of the son to come out. He looked in shock at his computer screen when he saw it; Harlan Cameron Terry, it read. The boy had taken the grandmother's surname and dropped his first name. Cameron Terry was Chris' doctor. It had to be him.

Things had gone from bad to worse at Chris' loft. Both of them were so on edge, for very different reasons. They had used up so much energy caring for each other for so long, that now, with both of them in desperate need of each other, they could only care about themselves individually. Neither one knew what they could possibly do to help the other. Chris went into the kitchen, it was time for him to take a couple of pills. Rita was already in the kitchen attempting to make some dinner for them. She noticed Chris as he went for a glass of water. "Do you really think those are helping you? I mean, maybe you should see another doctor and get another opinion Chris. You should be improving by now, and yet you're only getting worse." He finished swallowing the water and glared at her, "You should talk about seeing a doctor, maybe a therapist would do you some good," he blurted out, immediately regretting what he had said, and not understanding why he would say something so hurtful. Rita didn't comment, she just turned away from him. He continued, "I'm not hungry, so don't make anything for me, I guess I'll just go up to bed. Without turning around she answered, "Chris, you haven't eaten anything lately, can't you see it? This is not right." He plopped down on a stool and put his head in his hands and murmured, "my shoulder is killing me Sam, you're right these pills aren't working either, and I don't even know what I'm saying most of the time." Rita turned and saw him leaning on the counter, rubbing his head. She went over and began to massage his shoulders. For a brief moment, it felt good for both of them. Rita continued, then she hit a sore spot on Chris' body that nearly sent him reeling, as he stood straight up and clenched his fists and face in utter pain. "Enough, Rita," he said pulling away from her, breathing heavily, "nothing is any good any more." He started to walk out of the room, but she started to speak so he stopped momentarily, "Chris, this isn't you, I think it's the pills, please let me take you to another doctor." He kept on walking.

Just as he was about to go up the stairs to the loft, he looked up and saw Cam. Startled by his presence he asked him, "How'd you get in here and why are you here?" "In due time Chris, in due time," Cam replied. "It's you?" he questioned, "who are you?" Chris said trying to fit the puzzle together in his clogged head. Cam finished coming down the steps towards Chris. "This has been pretty easy, it's almost a shame to end it tonight, maybe we can prolong it though," Cam began. Chris didn't notice the syringe Cam held in his hand, and as Cam got closer to Chris, he grabbed Chris' arm and jammed the needle into his flesh. "I believe you said you were still in pain Chris, maybe this will help." Chris tried unsuccessfully to stop Cam, but the injection was already flushed into his system. Chris turned away in hopes of calling out to Rita. It was too late. When he looked towards the kitchen, he saw Tino Escuela clutching Rita around neck dragging her into the living room. "Don't worry Chris, everything is under control, my control that is," Cam said coolly. Chris turned back towards him, beginning to feel woozy, he grabbed on to the stairs. "Don't fight it Chris, let the medication take effect, it's been working so well so far." "You son of a bitch, who are you anyway?" Chris asked again lunging towards Cam. Cam literally pushed him aside, Chris' strength was fading fast. Rita now saw what was going on with Chris and she began to squirm trying to break free, "Chris," she screamed. Tino just tightened his grip on her. "I'm sorry, allow me to introduce myself, Dr. Harlan Cameron Terry, Jr., the Terry comes from my grandmother, God bless her." Rita looked on in shock, that name was etched inside of her forever, she understood right away. Chris still was having a hard time piecing it all together, and now things were literally loosing focus for him besides. Wasn't Cameron the guy who took down Rita's father, he thought. Why couldn't he remember? He dropped to floor, loosing more mobility. "What the hell did you do to me," Chris begged to know? Cam knelt beside him and picked up his face in his hand and looked into Chris' glassy eyes. "Let me tell you what's happening here. The injection I gave you now, along with the combination of pills and the other injections that you've been taking are very lethal. Don't worry though, you'll remain conscious long enough, that numbness and paralysis that you're beginning to experience will allow you to witness what I've got planned for your girlfriend here, without, I'm sorry, you getting in my way, so just lay back and enjoy the show. After awhile it will start to affect your mind too, then you'll just pass out, maybe even die, I'm not exactly sure of the amount I gave you, you know, you really shouldn't mix drugs, you may overdose." Chris was beside himself, "If you so much as touch her, I swear to God, I will find you and kill you with my bare hands someday," Chris said still able to grab Cam at his shirt collar. Cam easily brushed Chris aside. Cam stood over him and laughed, "You can't use your bare hands any longer," Chris slumped down farther, being drained of any last remaining strength. The drugs were working fast. "And don't worry Chris, that's why I've brought along Mr. Escuela, seems he knows you and your partner here too, and you know what Chris, he doesn't mind doing the dirty work at all, remember he's killed two people already," Cam said with a laugh. Tino had begun to try and kiss Rita, she still fought him with all that she could. If only she could to a gun. Chris watched Rita intently, his eyes begged for her forgiveness, now he couldn't help her at all, he tried to clear his mind, so he could think, there had to be a way...

Tino continued to hold her, he ran his free hand up and down her body. "Why are you doing this Cam?" Rita shouted, becoming sickened by the thought of what these two madmen had planned. She knew she needed to get some help for Chris, soon, he was fading fast, and she could see that his eyes yearned for her help. "It's a little gift for my father, see he's been making plans for you for a long time now. He thought getting rid of one Fontana in his lifetime was enough, and for a long time it was, then you came along and put him in jail. He figured he needed to do to you what he did to old Donny Boy and you know what he said about your father? He said it was easy to drive him crazy too, before long he committed suicide in front of the person he loved the most in the world. That's what I want you to do too, Rita. That's my father's plan." Chris listened and took it all in, thankfully, his mind still was working, "Rita, don't, don't listen to him, you're not crazy, he is, we can get out of this, together, come on Sam, listen to me, not to him." Rita gazed down at Chris, she heard his words but how could they get out of this? "Sammy, I love you, that's all that matters here, just you and me, I was afraid, I had too many fears for too long, but now I've got you and I'm full of hope, I know you are too, but you gotta be strong now, it'll be alright, I promise." "How touching," Cam said completely ignoring Chris while inching his way closer to Rita. Between Tino and Cam they began to manhandle her, slowly stripping her clothes off, she shivered and fought every time they touched her in anyway. "Should we keep going here, Ms. Fontana, or do you want to die yet?" Cam asked patiently. Now Rita looked at Chris, and her eyes begged for his forgiveness, "Chris, I can't, I can't let them do this to me in front of you," she cried. Chris shook his head no, "Rita, it's gonna be ok." Stalling for time by talking seemed like the only course of action they could take, maybe the drugs would start to wear off of Chris if he could hold out long enough, he thought. "So, you've been setting this whole thing up for months now huh, Cam," Chris asked. "Years," Cam replied still taunting Rita with his touch, "She is such a beautiful woman, it will be a shame." "Sounds like a wasted life to me," Chris continued, "you know I thought you were a smart guy, being a doctor and all, I bet if your Grandmother could see you right now, she'd think you were puke," Chris said. "Leave her out of this," Cam said slightly agitated, yet holding Rita and watching as Tino put his lips on her back. Chris looked away from Rita, to Cam, "Hey, did I hit a nerve, yeah, I know how it is with Grandma's Cam, remember? I had one too, she took such good care of me, you know how they put you on a pedestal so high, it takes something big, something really stupid to get knocked off of it. If your grandma could see what you've turned into now, I'm sure she never would have put you on one." "She loves me, she said she always would," Cam explained, reaching out to have his lips meet Rita's. She tossed her head from side to side to avoid him. "Trust me Cam, she wouldn't love this, cuz this is wrong," Chris said. "You don't even know her," Cam said. "You're right I don't, but she didn't raise you to be like this, she wanted you to be a doctor to save people, not to hurt them, that's why your father's in prison. He hurts people, like he's hurting you now," Chris said. "No, this is my father's plan, it's a good plan, he's my father," Cam was becoming confused. "Man, can't you shut him up, let's get this thing over with," Tino interrupted stroking Rita's hair. "Ignore him, I want him to see this and be coherent to see this, that's the plan," Cam stated, snapping back into control.

The two of them began to remove the last strips of clothing that Rita had on. "Is this what you do to her," Cam asked Chris, "Do you touch her all over and whisper you love her," Cam leaned into Rita's ear, as she tried to push away. "Now it's my turn to love her," Cam said looking directly at Chris. "You don't even know what that word means," Chris retorted then looking to her, "Rita, talk to me, don't think about them, think about us, you and me, we can do this together, we can get out of this." She couldn't bear to look at Chris, as tears fell from her eyes. Before they could get the rest of her clothes off, she spoke, "Stop, stop this," she stammered, "ok, I'll do it, just stop." Cam smiled, and turned around to look at Chris. He had tears in his eyes too. "There's no need for crying or tears, hold onto her," Cam said to Tino, who again put her in a chokehold. Chris wasn't sure what was coming next, or what Rita had in mind to do. He couldn't tell if she was really distraught or just playing along, damn drugs, he thought. Cam came back into the room holding a gun. "Does this look familiar, Rita," he began, "it's just like the one your dear ol' daddy used. I thought it would be appropriate." He dangled the gun in front of her, brushing the cool metal against her skin. He wanted to hand it to her, but he held back, "Perhaps you're playing a game here, you're really not ready to die yet are you?" Then he took the gun and went over by Chris, he laid the gun on the floor, so near to Chris, he ached to get to it and blast Cam to kingdom come, but Chris could not move to get it. Cam picked up the gun and took Chris' hand and wrapped his fingers around the trigger and pointed it towards Rita. "Maybe we'll change the scenario here," Then to Tino he said, "Bring her closer," Tino complied. Slowly Cam began to ease the trigger using Chris' hands. Chris shouted out in frustration, "Cam, you sick son of a bitch, this is murder, you will fry for this, " he said starting to slur his words. Cam knew the drugs were working too fast, Chris would be unconscious soon, and he wanted him to see this, he wanted her to see him see this. Cam took the gun and went back towards Rita. "So, you're ready to die, or would you like my good friend Tino here to give you something special first?" "I wouldn't give either of you that satisfaction," she said coldly. "What's a matter baby, I can make you feel so good, wouldn't you like your boyfriend here to see how a real man can make you feel," Tino cooed, brushing up against her body and kissing her. Chris' head was starting to fog over now, he was seeing double and triple, he was starting to tap out. Rita saw this and said to him, "Chris, I love you, forever, know that." He tried with any remaining strength to say the same in return, but he couldn't muster up his voice. He mouthed the words so that she could see them. Then he lost consciousness. Rita watched Chris slowly close his eyes, she thought he had died.

"Man let's get this thing over with," Tino said impatiently, "I got other things to do man." Cameron had seen Chris fade, he turned back to Rita. "Looks like your boyfriend doesn't care if you live or die anymore." "Come on man, let's just do her and then kill her, that's what you said you wanted me to do," Tino pleaded trying to keep Rita under control as she twisted and turned.

"What's it gonna be Rita, are you ready to pull the trigger yourself, since all that you had to live for is lying over there, probably already dead by now. Don't you want to join him?" Cam asked.

"If you want me dead, Cameron, you'll have to do it yourself," Rita said with fire. "I won't give you the satisfaction of suicide." Cam got angry when he heard her words. He was tired of playing. Momentarily he took his eyes off of her, she saw this and with every bit of strength she could muster, she shifted her weight and was able to throw an elbow to the side of Tino's face. Tino released her, she ducked down and Cam fired wildly, hitting Escuela in the chest. He dropped to the floor. Rita lunged at Cam who got off another shot, wounding Rita in the shoulder. Her forward momentum had her crashing into Cam, the gun slid across the floor. She dove for it and grabbed it. Turning over and quickly getting to her feet, she aimed the gun at the head of Cameron, who was crawling and cowering away towards the door, with his hands over his face. "Where ya going Cam?" Rita asked in voice dripping with pent up anger and rage. "Don't, please don't," Cam begged her. "Let's see you beg for awhile, or maybe you just want to kill yourself, cuz where you're going to end up is hell anyway, you might as well get there sooner than later." Just then Cap came busting through the door, the surveillance unit had reported gunfire, and Cap who had been on his way over to the loft, heard the call and showed up as the shots were heard. He saw a half-naked, bleeding Rita holding the gun on Cameron, Tino Escuela writhing on the ground and Chris slumped over on the stairs, not moving. "Lance, what the hell is going on here?" he said with his gun drawn on Cameron. "He killed Chris, Cap, and he tried to kill me, now it's his turn to die." Cap motioned for another officer to check out Lorenzo. "Rita, you don't want to do this," Cap pleaded with her. "Oh yes I do Cap, this is the guy, he planned it all out, his father made my father commit suicide, now he's trying to do the same to me, he's already killed Chris, I have to kill him. I have to end this" "Captain," the officer called out, "Sergeant Lorenzo is still alive!" "Rita, did you hear that, Chris is alive," and to the officer he called out, "get an ambulance over her right away." Rita didn't budge. Cameron shouted, "Someone stop her, she's going to kill me." "Rita, come on, give me the gun, let's get you both to the hospital, come on now," Cap tried again. Rita stared at Cameron, then pulled the trigger, the bullet sailed no less than an inch from Cameron's head. Rita dropped the gun. Cameron screamed in sheer terror. "You all saw that, she tried to kill me, that's attempted murder." Cap picked up the gun and went over to Cam, "it slipped, that's all I saw, besides if she wanted you dead, you'd be dead."

Rita went to the stairs of loft and sat down, taking Chris and cradling him in her arms. She began to wait for the ambulance to get there. She sat shivering for a few moments until Cap came over and wrapped a blanket around her and another over Chris. Rita whispered into Chris' ear, kissing him tenderly, crying softly, "I'm here Christopher, it's all over now, everything's ok, I'm ok, you've got to hang on, you were right, we're going to be ok, as long as we have each other, we made it together. You gotta listen to me now Chris, you're gonna be alright, I promise, I'm here for you, I'm never gonna leave you. I love you." She felt his heart beating within her arms, the warmth of his skin brushed up against her cheek and then she heard him take a breath. Cap came back over to her, "Rita, the ambulance is coming, they want to know if Chris has been shot?" Cap had to ask because he really didn't know what had happened yet. Rita looked at him tearfully and in a quivering voice she answered, "He's overdosed on something Cap, Cam did something to him, I didn't see it, but he said he was going to die from mixing too many drugs, the pills are over on the kitchen counter." Cap motioned to an officer, "There's some prescription pills in the kitchen, get them over to the hospital lab right away, tell them we're bringing in Sergeant Lorenzo, and he's overdosed on whatever's in there. And radio to the ambulance that it's an OD and a gunshot wound to Detective Lance." "Cap, I think Cam gave him something else too, I'm not sure but I remember hearing him say that along with the pills that it would kill Chris." Cap nodded, "You ok?" "We'll be ok," she answered, never loosening her embrace around Chris. "I'll go find out from Cameron," Cap said. On his way out to the squad car he motioned to another officer, "Stay close to her, you protect them with your own life, got it?" The poor officer nodded immediately, "Ye-Yes Sir Captain," as he headed close to Rita to stand guard.

Cap wasted no time in getting to Cameron. He yanked him by the shirt out of the squad car and hurled him up against the side of the car. Cameron was in a panic. "I'm only gonna ask this once, so you better have an answer, and it better be the right one," Cap said thrusting a forearm to the chin and chest of Cameron. "What else did you give to Lorenzo besides the pills?" "I'm, not sure what you mean," he stupidly replied. Cap grabbed him upright with his other hand and connected with a left to Cameron's face. "The way I'm seeing this, you piece of garbage, you got one more chance, and don't forget I have a gun," Cap said, "What the hell did you give him?" "The syringe.... It's is in my jacket pocket," Cam said reaching for the spot on his face where the Captain had hit him. Cap flung him around and began to search his body. He found the syringe and called out to the officer who had gotten the pills and was headed to the hospital. "Take this too, whatever is left it, have the hospital lab check it out too, right away, it's an emergency, go, go."

The ambulance arrived and began to administer to Chris, giving him oxygen, and starting an IV, Rita wouldn't leave his side and refused treatment for herself, till they got Chris to the hospital and started to treat him. She was numb to any pain but his right now anyway. By the time they had arrived, the lab was waiting with the results of the drugs that Chris had ingested. They cleared out his system, stabilized him and waited and hoped he would come out the coma. Rita, finally, through Cap's insistence allowed herself to be treated for the gunshot wound she sustained. "Cap, you'll stay with him, till I get back right?" "Yes, Rita, I'll stay, I promise, now you gotta get taken care of yourself too," Cap replied squeezing her hand. "Just keep talking to him and tell him that I'm ok and I'll be back as soon as I can," she said as they began to wheel her into the operating room.

Later that night, Cap had pulled some strings, and the hospital allowed Chris and Rita to be put into the same room. Cap didn't have to do too much explaining though, because their ordeal had made the evening news on every local TV station. The hospital hierarchy easily complied with the request. Rita awoke and realized that she was in the hospital. She looked around and saw Chris in the bed next to hers. Sore as she was, she got up and wheeled her IV stand around her bed and slid a chair next to his bed, and gently eased herself into it. She reached for his hand and held it till morning.

Sometime between midnight and dawn, Rita had fallen asleep in the chair. Still holding his hand, he awoke to her familiar touch. He squeezed tenderly and she began to wake up. "I'm really getting a little tired of this hospital thing," he said quietly. "Me too," she answered with a smile, "How do you feel?" "Like a million bucks," he said with a grin, "how 'bout you?" "I'm ok too," she answered. "What happened anyway?" he asked. "I'll tell you later, when we both really feel better," she said getting up and crawling into bed and snuggling up beside him. There, in each other's arms, they got the first real rest either of them had had in a long time.

A week later, they were both released from the hospital. They spent their first evening down at the beach. The sun was starting to set, a cool trade wind blew, and the sky above them was putting on its show of reds, pinks and oranges. They walked holding each other close. "I am never taking another pill for the rest of my life," Chris stated this new revelation of his. Rita smiled. "It wasn't the pills Sam, it was the doctor who prescribed them, remember?" They proceeded to stroll along in silence, then Rita spoke, and "I wish I could say I'd never remember my father again." Chris stopped and pulled her closer and placed a kiss on the top of her head, "You don't mean that Sam," he murmured. "It's always the bad stuff, Chris, when I think of him, there's nothing good," she tried to explain. "That's not true," he began, "look in the mirror that's a whole lot of good stuff. A special part of him gave you to me. That's what I'll remember about him," Chris said matter-of-factly. Silence came between them again. "Your father was a good man, Rita, don't forget that," Chris said. "Then, why'd he kill himself Chris, I'll never understand that," she said softly. Neither of them spoke as Chris carefully thought of the words that he wanted to say to her. "No one really knows what's going on in someone else's mind, we all have these little hopes and fears we store away. Deep that sometimes we even forget ourselves that they're in there. Look at me and you, I think I know you pretty well, but I've learned so much about you in the past months, you're a whole new person to me, and I love you more because of it and I think you can say the same about me. She nodded in agreement and they kept walking. "Well there is one thing I know for sure, it'll never change, and it's not locked away somewhere and I'm not afraid to say anymore," Rita said stopping and taking his hands in hers. Chris cocked his head to the side, "Oh yeah, what's that?" "I love you, always and forever." He grinned broadly and replied, "I was hoping you'd say that." He slowly leaned in toward her and softly swept her into a passionate kiss.

The End

Ok, ok, the alternate title for this one was Torment and Torture, but goodness does indeed always prevail right? At least in my stories it does! And believe me, Chris and Rita were never really in any kind of danger. Heck, I still hate seeing The Last Kiss Goodnight, why did they have to kill him?????

Special thanks to Linda and Lisa for posting my story on their page.

And also many thanks to those of you, especially Amy F. (I'm dying to hear what you think - even if it's bad, e-mail me) for the wonderful words of encouragement to keep writing.

And yes, Chris, Rita, the Good Captain Harry Lipschitz, Donovan, Taylor, Diana, Keisha and the evil Harlan Cameron don't belong to me, they belong to Stephen J. Cannell, Stu Segall and USA Network. There is certainly no infringement intended. It's just a little ol' fan fic, from someone who probably has too much time on their hands. Copyright 1998

All other characters are mine, thanks to a local basketball player here who has the first name Treveon, I thought it was cool. The drugs that Chris were forced to take are purely fictitious as well, although, some may think that I was taking them myself when I wrote this. I was not.

If you want to comment, good or bad, and yes I prefer good, but bad is a learning experience too, please send them to me at tuna.dc@mailexcite.com Let me know if you want more!


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