Chris was in the shower, and he didn't hear the phone ringing. As he was dressing, his beeper went off, and he looked at it with a scowl, knowing that it would be another body, another case, and another missed evening with Jillian. The thought didn't make him happy at all, because she wouldn't be happy, and then he would have to deal with it. Groveling for forgiveness was not his favorite pastime. He considered ignoring it, he had worked over the past four weekends, and he did deserve some time off. There were other detectives, and they could juggle their lives around for a change. He decided that he would just pretend he had forgotten his beeper, and that he had never heard it go off. He quickly finished getting ready, and picking up his keys, he was out the
door, hurrying to pick up Jillian for their dinner date with some friends of hers. He was already out of the building when the phone rang again, and again, he never heard it.
Captain Lipschitz cursed to himself silently, as he hung up the phone in the hospital's waiting room. Where was he? Harry thought. Why didn't he at least answer his beeper! This was unusual for Chris, to be so out of reach. Cap knew that Chris had plans tonight with Jillian, and he remembered Chris telling him that in no way whatsoever would he work this weekend. Well that was what was going on now, he guessed. Jillian had quite a hold on Chris, and Harry couldn't understand it at all. They were so mismatched... And that relationship was destined to end, hopefully not as badly as Rita's had.
Harry hurried over to Fran, rubbing her shoulder as he sat beside her, giving her what little comfort he could. She held her head in her hands, her arms leaning on her lap "Did you get a hold of him yet, Heschy?" "No..... He doesn't answer his beeper either.... I don't know what to do... If I only knew where he and Jillian were going tonight, I would send a patrol car over to tell him...
He would want to be here... At least I think so."
"Of course he would! Rita and he are very close... Even if they did have that fight, they have a strong bond between them, something like that doesn't just disappear... No matter how much SHE wishes it would! " Fran said these last words with aggravation clearly present in her voice.
"I know exactly how you feel, Frannie... Chris must be blind not to see how Jillian manipulates him... I think that she was the cause of that whole fight with Rita anyway... Maybe if Chris hadn't given in to her wishes, Rita wouldn't be here now... Chris always watched out for Rita before."
Harry looked up to see a doctor approaching them. He gently pulled Frannie up to stand, and they met Rita's doctor. "How is she..." they both asked, worried about the young detective who had also managed to become like the daughter they could never have, taking a special place in their hearts.
The man noticed right off how these two people cared about his patient, he was told she had no family, and he was glad to find out she at least had some close friends... She would need their support in the next coming months. He decided to give them the good news first, so that they could at least be grateful her life had been saved at all... Then his other news would come easier to them.
"I'm Doctor Byron... Miss Lance is stable now, but she has slipped into a coma.... And while I can't promise you anything, I see no clear reason for her to remain in that condition. "
Frannie gasped, trembling slightly, so Harry guided her to sit back down. He himself did not feel too well, thinking of Rita that way. The doctor continued on.
She had some internal injuries. Some broken ribs, and a pretty bad concussion, which could be why she slipped into a coma. I can assure you she will probably come out of that soon, in all likelihood, it is just her body's way of saving energy she'll need to recuperate." he paused before he went on" however I am concerned with some other injuries that she sustained to her back...
Quite a lot of damage was done there, and I'm afraid that most likely, Miss Lance may be paralyzed, from her waist down."
Now Harry sat down too, he was still in shock when he asked his question "Is there anything you can do? Anything?"
Doctor Byron tried to give them what little hope there was. "There is a lot of swelling on her spine, and for that, there isn't much we can do. Sometimes in cases where the swelling goes down, we can operate, and try to repair the damage, but as of now, it is too soon to tell. We'll just have to wait and see, really."
Okay... Thanks doctor.... For taking good care of her... Do you think we could see her now?"
Doctor Byron smiled, glad to do whatever he could to ease the grief he saw on their faces." I think that would be a good idea... Talk to her, I believe that they can hear us when they are in a coma... Just be careful to not say anything negative when you're in there with her, okay"
Harry and Fran stood up, anxious to get to Rita. "You don't have to worry about that, really... We would never do anything that wasn't in her best interest, doctor. Thanks again."
They both followed Doctor Byron to Rita's room, and they sat with her holding her hands, and tenderly speaking to her, stoking her cheek, and placing soft kisses on her forehead... All to bring her back to them. Several times that night Harry had tried to call Chris, never reaching him and becoming angrier with him by the hour. He knew his anger was misplaced though... It really wasn't Chris who deserved it, but for the time being, he would let his anger simmer, because Rita was his first priority at the moment.... He knew that as the anger simmered inside him, he was preparing for the occasion when he would deal with the person who had done this to Rita. He couldn't wait either. Harry finally left a message on Chris's machine, despite that he didn't really want Chris to learn about Rita that way, there was nothing else he could do though... Rita needed
Chris, like never before.
Chris finally entered his apartment at 2:30 in the morning, tired and annoyed. The evening hadn't gone well, and Jillian and he had fought again. He didn't say he was sorry this time though, because he wasn't. Jillian and he hadn't said a word on the drive to her place, to drop her off, and trade cars, so that he could take his car home. Chris saw the light on his answering machine blinking, but he didn't care, he would get it tomorrow. He crawled into bed, and was asleep faster then it took for him to close his eyes. The phone rang, waking him out of a deep sleep. He rolled over and picked it up.
Yeah... Lorenzo" he said sleepily.
"Lorenzo! Don't you check your machine...? I left a message for you! And where in the hell were you, I tried to reach you all night long, through your beeper, the phone... Listen Chris..."
"Not now, Cap, I need a day of rest... I'm burnt out, four weeks of working straight through.... Call someone else"
Harry interrupted Chris "Lorenzo! You get down here to Palm Memorial Hospital, right now! Rita is here, and she needs you... Will you come?" Harry suddenly thought to ask Chris.
"Cap! Rita is in the hospital? I'll be right there... What happened?"
Harry began to tell Chris what happened, but realized that Chris was no longer there, already on his way to the hospital.
Several minutes later, Chris stood frantic in front of Harry, demanding to see Rita, and wanting to know what happened. Harry filled him in as best as he could, of what he knew.
"Rita was hit by a car, it was Eric Russell who was driving it, and he was drunk... A neighbor said she heard Russell drive up, and pounding on the door, demanding she open up, and talk to him, and she could hear Rita say he had been drinking, and she was going to call a cab for him, so he would go home. Next thing she saw was Russell in his car and Rita running out to stop him, when he swerved suddenly, and struck Rita... He was going pretty fast when it happened. The neighbor watched him drive off then, and she got the license plate numbers. We tracked them
down, to make sure it was Russell, and it was, that bastard! He is in a holding cell right now. That's all I know. I tried to call you as soon as I heard she was hear, but well... You know the rest." Harry explained.
"Oh...." Chris let out the breath he had been holding when Cap started speaking "I was with Jillian... Rita needed me.... And I wasn't there... Cap... I..." The look on Chris's face told Cap what Chris was trying to say" I know son, I know... but your here now, ... That's what matters."
" Cap, how is she? Can I see her?"
"Yeah, but first we should talk, okay" Harry led Chris over to a seat, and filled him in on
everything about Rita's' condition. Chris took it hard; the only thought on his mind then was heading for the precinct, to have it out with Eric Russell. It didn't take Harry too much time to calm Chris down, reminding him that they both would have their chance with Russell later, "Not now, " Harry said " Rita is our concern now, right"
Chris immediately calmed himself down. Cap was right..."Take me to her, Cap" They quietly opened the door, seeing Frannie, asleep on a chair beside Rita's' bed. " Now that your here, I'm gonna take her home, to get some rest" Harry said. He gently shook Frannie awake, and pointed to Chris. She got up, and went over to hug Chris" I'm glad your here for her" she said, and then Harry guided her out of the room.
As soon as he had walked into her room, his eyes had focused on her, seeing her as she lied there on the bed, looking so small, so fragile.... It was an image that froze his heart, and took his breath way for a brief moment. He slowly walked over to her, and just stared down at her, afraid to touch her, and yet every fiber of him yearned to take her completely into his arms, and hold her forever. He gathered enough courage to gently lift her hand into his, and he sat down in the chair beside the bed, as tears rolled down his cheeks. "Oh Sammy.... What happened to us, huh? I am so sorry for everything, Sam... I know that I haven't been there for you recently, but I'm here now, you can count on that... I'm not going anywhere, promise. The doctor told Cap that you could hear
me... Well, if you can.... You listen up. Okay... You have to get better... You come back to me, Sam. You know that I can't make it without my best friend... Without you, Rita... I.... I ... Rita you are so much a part of me.... Maybe I forgot that for awhile, but deep down, you were still always with me... I need you Sam... Please wake up... Let me see the most beautiful smile in the world...
Those gorgeous, green eyes of yours... Sam... I'll be here waiting, when you wake up." Chris stoked her cheek, willing her to open her eyes. She is so beautiful, he thought... She didn't deserve this to happen to her. He made two promises then.... One to be there for her... And another to make sure Eric Russell got his due.
Chris sat in the cafeteria, sipping some coffee, he looked as if he was off in another world, and for the most part, he was. He was remembering the fight he and Rita had, just a few days before her accident. At the time he really wasn't sure what it had been about... Until he had run into George just a short while ago.... Now he understood.... But knowing only made him feel worse.
He could remember Rita and him making those plans, a quiet get together, just the two of them... They hadn't spent much time with each other lately... She would order the Chinese food; he would rent the movies... And then they would meet out in the parking lot, and she would give him a ride home, since his car was in the shop again. She met the deliveryman, then took out the bags of food to her car to wait for him... After awhile she saw him coming... And he waved... A car pulled in front of him then and he got in..... Driving off with Jillian to go to a charity event she suddenly was needed at. George had told him Rita had thrown the food into the trashcan, and as she passed him, he saw she was upset, and looking miserable. He said to her that she looked as if she lost her best friend. It was Rita's response to George that hurt Chris the most now. She had told George she thought she WAS loosing her best friend. Chris had forgotten their plans... And he knew now that Rita wanted to talk about a problem, and that Jillian called to tell him about the unexpected evening. Never thinking about the plans they had made, Chris had come in the next day, and he had felt the tension from her, but they went on being as professional as usual, with their jobs. They had wrapped up the Wheeler case that day, and Cap wanted their paperwork that night. Unfortunately, it was also the night Jillian had tickets for a play.... And Chris had wanted to leave early.
"Hey.... Sammy... Could you take my part also? Please" He used his best puppy dogface, which usually worked with her.
No.... Sorry Sam.... I can't." Rita said quickly.
"You got plans tonight, Sam?" he asked her surprised, since he knew she had told Eric it was over between them.
"No.... I don't, but I 'm not going to be working either.... I am tired. You do your own share this time."
"Come on, Sam... Jillian has these tickets for a play... She'll make my life miserable if I don't go... Please?
"I said no Chris! It is your job, make her understand that! We are partners here, remember that?
That means we do our job together! I am not taking up any more of your slack.
"What the hell do you mean by that? All of a sudden we can't help each other out. I've done it for you, you had no problem then, and when you thought Russell was dead, then suddenly he was alive. I covered for you a lot during that time! Rita, we are partners, best friends.... What is with you all of a sudden, huh?"
Rita tried to fight the tears...." Chris.... The whole world doesn't stop, just because Jillian crooks her little finger, and expects to get her way all the time... You have a job. Some of the guys from your team called wanting to know when you'll be able to come down and coach some more" she choked back a sob" we are partners.... But just because I don't have plans, don't take advantage of me... As for best friends... Well.... I'm not so sure about that either anymore." Rita turned and walked out the palm doors. Chris was at a loss for words, and just stared at the doors, feeling angry and betrayed himself. He had apologized enough already this past week with Jillian; he wasn't about to this time. All he had asked for was a favor, what was the big deal?
For the next few days after that, they would work as well as ever, doing their jobs as they should, in a professional manner. During that time however, not one pleasant word, not one endearing look, or even one comforting touch was ever exchanged.
Chris shook his head, he wished he had remembered those plans he had made with Rita, he knew that she was hurt because he had forgotten, and then he had tried to get her to do his paperwork, on top of that, so he could once again be with Jillian. No wonder she had lashed out at him, he thought.
He would make it up to her, when she regained consciousness.... It had been three long weeks, and the hospital had become his home now. He spent practically all of his time there, with Rita, talking, and reading to her. He was desperate to have her back with him, and the doctor could not explain why she still hadn't awaken, only saying that it just might be that she didn't want to wake
up. Chris didn't believe that, Rita was strong. She was a fighter, and he knew that when she was able to, she would come back to them. Fran was there a lot also, doing her share to let Rita know how much she was loved and missed. She brushed Rita's' hair and they would both do exercises with her, so that she would not loose muscle tone... Anything they could think of that would make Rita happy, they did.
Cap came when he could, and once he had come to take Chris to Eric, to be there when his interrogation took place... Chris had come face to face with Russell, and said his piece, although it was anything but quiet. They later learned Russell had come up with the bail money and would be released from jail soon. Chris wondered where the justice in this situation was... Eric would be out on bail, and Rita still was in a coma.
Jillian saw Chris sitting in the cafeteria. He had never been so close to her and yet so far away, as he had since he learned of Rita's accident. He spent all of his time with Rita, and as patient as she tried to be with him, she also knew he had to get on with his life also. There was no telling how long Rita could be lying there.
Jillian approached Chris" how's Rita" she asked... Not really caring, as she kissed him on the cheek. Her kiss felt cold, almost hard, to him now. The fight from the other night had never been resolved, and he couldn't just forget it ever happened, as she had done.
"The same... No change." Chris said quietly.
Jillian knew she had to tell him, and she didn't have any time left, to wait. She had hoped Rita would have awakened first, it would be easier, if Rita wasn't lying in a coma. "Chris... I have been offered a position as chief of surgeons, in Mercy General... I have to move there immediately... I thought we should start looking for a place together, and we'll have to contact a realtor to sell our places..."
"Hold it a minute, Jillian, what do you mean WE.... I'm not going to Boston. Look, I'm glad for you, but you can't just expect me to drop my whole life and move with you.... I have a job here, and I invested my whole life in that.... I'm not going anywhere.
"We are engaged to be married, Chris.... And you can get a job anywhere, including Boston... This is too great for me to pass up... I won't!"
"So don't, I understand."
"That's it? You understand? Why don't you admit it isn't the job you won't leave? It is Rita! She is
just lying there, Chris! Don't waste your whole life, sitting by her side, Chris! Please come to Boston with me! I thought you loved me!"
Chris finally knew his heart then... He was not in love with Jillian.... He saw her for what she was.... A spoiled self-centered and egotistical lady, who thought the world revolved around her, and her needs. Rita was right. He wished he had seen it for himself sooner.
He stood up, and simply said the truth" YES, Jillian, it is Rita, how can you ask me to leave her right now.... I could never just give up on her, what if she did wake up, and I wasn't here.... I was with you? No ... I'm staying here. It's for the best anyway Jillian.... We are from two different worlds and they both clash together... I'm sorry. He was saying it to her again, but this would be the last time.
"Chris.... You can't just leave me like that! All because you have some nasty little thing going on with your partner... I can forgive you of that... Hell, I have my fun too, but you and I can still get married... I have the whole wedding planned, all my friends and family are coming... I would be so humiliated.... Look, Chris.... We just had a small argument.... I know we love each other! I know you love me!"
"No..... I thought I did at one time.... But you have made me see, who it is I really love, ... I just hope that someday, I'll be able to tell her." With that, he walked away, leaving her in his past, and heading for his future, to Rita.
Later that night as Chris sat on Rita's bed, massaging her legs, he heard a commotion out in the hallway, and then the door burst open and Eric Russell stood there, staring at Rita. Chris jumped up immediately, and went over to Russell
"WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING HERE... GET OUT OF THIS ROOM !!!.... NOW!"
Chris was furious, he did not want this bastard anywhere near Rita, and he could smell the sick stench of alcohol reeking off of him, he was drunk, and he had a hell of a lot of nerve to show up here! Chris tried to push Russell out of the room, but the man was large, and very stubborn at the moment. He slurred his words, as he shouted at him.
"I just want to talk to Rita... Chris... I just wanna say... Uh.... Sorry."
"She can't talk... She is in a coma.... You son of a bitch... I want you out of here now... You will never get near her, not as long as I'm around!"
"Oh... I get it now.... I always knew you and her had a little something on the side.... Not into sharing anymore, Chris?" Russell actually looked proud himself for saying that. "I told her I forgive her for that.... Even then she still denied it...." Eric looked over at Rita, seeing her lying on the bed, very still. "You can have her, I'm not loosing that much anyway "she was always like she is now anyway.... Just laid there... How was she with you?" Eric snickered to himself.
Chris threw the punch as hard as he could, landing it right, where he intended, Eric Russell's jaw. The nurses and security were there, in the next instant, hauling Chris off of Russell, and leading them both out of Rita's room. It was Cap who managed to convince security that Chris should be allowed to stay with Rita, and after it was learned that Russell was out on bail, he was hauled back to jail, and Chris returned to where he belonged, by Rita's side. He hoped that she hadn't heard any of that... She had enough to deal with.
Chris woke the next morning, the sun shinning brightly in his face. It would be a beautiful day, as so many others had been, while he had been here. He remembered how Rita had loved to feel the sun's warmth on her skin. He stood up, and carefully pulled her bed over to the window, allowing the sun to shine on her.
Chris smiled, and thought about how he always called her sunshine, because to him, she was. Her smile always brightened up his day, and she was the light of his life. She was his Sam, his sunshine, his Rita. Without her, his world would be cold and dark. Suddenly a song came to his mind; it's simple words saying all he felt at the moment. He reached over, caressing her face, as he began to softly sing to her.
"You are my sunshine.... My only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are gray
You'll never know dear, how much I love you
Please don't take my sunshine away."
He sang it over and over to her, as his tears flowed. And he would caress her face, and kiss her tenderly, whispering "I love you" in between the words to the song.
He never heard the door softly open, or saw Harry and Fran as they quietly watched, until Harry pulled Fran back into the hallway. They would go get breakfast first.
This soon became a necessary ritual that Chris felt he had to do. Every morning he would pull Rita's bed over to the window, and he would sing her that song. Four days later, while he was singing to her, he felt her hand move ever so slightly, trying to squeeze the hand that held hers.
Soon after, Chris saw her open her eyes, and she just stared at him, until tears rolled down her cheeks. Chris gently wiped them away, and he pulled her into his arms. It was a moment where no words were necessary, no apologies, only two souls seeking out reassurance from the other, strengthening the bond between them, that had once been frayed, silently saying with their eyes, what was never said out loud.
" Hey, sleeping beauty.... Good morning, sunshine. How are you feeling, huh?
Her voice was barely a whisper. But she managed to weakly say his name, "Sam"
"Shh.... Don't talk... Just rest.... I called your doctor.... He'll be here soon, until then just let me hold you, okay? Rita nodded her head against his chest. Chris had never felt such intense feelings for anyone, as he did at that moment, holding Rita in his arms.
She had fallen back to sleep before her doctor came by to check on her, and Chris was still holding her, his arms wrapped around her protectively. The doctor was pleased she had finally come out of the coma, but said he would like to speak to Chris out in the hall. Chris gently rested Rita back down, placing a tender kiss on her cheek, and whispered "I'll be back soon, sunshine"
Doctor Byron was concerned about Rita, he thought she should be a lot stronger before she was told about her condition, and he wanted them to try and avoid that topic with her. "What if she doesn't understand why she isn't able to move her legs, she'll ask us, what should we say? Chris asked. He didn't want to lie to Rita, but he understood she was also too weak to handle news like that.
"Tell her it is a result of swelling on her spine... That we are waiting for the swelling to go
down... Just not the entire truth right now, we'll have to give her a few days to regain some strength, okay"
"Yeah... I understand.... Thank you doctor." Chris shook the doctors hand "thanks for taking such good care of her."
Doctor Byron smiled, he liked this patient and her friends, they made his job easier with all the love and support they gave to her. "You have done more then I could have, you and the Lipshitzes, trust me."
Doctor Byron walked away, and Chris returned to Rita's room again. Harry and Fran were visiting with Rita, later that day, and Frannie was in seventh heaven fussing over her like a mother hen. Cap would chastise Fran every now and then, but he wasn't much better, doing his share of fussing as well. Chris had told them what he and the doctor had talked about, and they understood it was best for Rita at the time. So far she hadn't asked about her legs, and Chris wasn't sure if she had noticed yet, or not, but he worried anyway.
He stood by the window watching the scene with Fran, Harry, and Rita, and smiling at what he saw. Rita had quickly rolled her eyes while they weren't looking, so that only Chris could see, and she smiled the beautiful smile he loved so much. Chris returned her smile with one of his own, and a wink, and mouthed silently, "I love you"
After Rita had fallen asleep again, the three of them went to the cafeteria for some dinner, all of them in a celebratory mood, because they had Rita back with them.... But they soon sobered as they discussed what would come next for Rita, and made plans for the future.
When they had finished dinner, Fran made a stop in at the gift shop, to buy Rita a nice bed jacket she had seen, it was the color of her eyes, and she knew Rita would look lovely in it. While they waited for Frannie to make her purchase, Chris decided to buy a several balloons, a huge bouquet of roses, and a giant teddy bear. Harry, feeling left out, grabbed all the women's magazines he could find, and a box of chocolates, the kind with caramels, that he knew were Rita's favorite kind. He gave Chris a warning glance, when Chris saw the box, knowing they were his favorite, as well. Chris grinned sheepishly. The three of them went back to Rita's room; their arms loaded with their purchases. On the way they ran into George and Diana, who also were carrying gifts. They all opened the door to Rita's room ready to begin the get well party that had somehow shaped up.
It was Rita who didn't look up to a party though... She was crying... And Chris immediately saw the reason why. Jillian stood at the side of Rita's bed, looking down at her, with a harsh expression on her face; there was no trace of a bedside manner at all. Chris quickly rushed over to Rita, and took her into his arms, while he directed his voice, full of contempt, at Jillian. "What are you in here for... You don't belong here; you're not her doctor... What in the hell did you say to her?" Cap went up to Jillian, glaring at her, while Frannie rushed over to Rita, hearing her breathless sobs.
George and Diana stood there, slightly in shock, not understanding what was going on. Chris pushed the buzzer for a nurse, Rita was hyperventilating, and he couldn't get her to calm down.
Jillian pretended concern, "I don't know what happened, we were just talking, I came to say goodbye to her, before I left for Boston, and she suddenly started to get upset... I'll just leave now, I'll come back when your feeling better Rita, how's that?"
"Don't bother, you won't be welcome here" Harry said, seeing this woman for what she really was. Jillian turned, giving Rita one last hateful look, then dodged out of the room, as a nurse was coming in.
Chris explained what happened, and the nurse gave Rita a shot that would help her to calm down. Her breathing soon returned to normal, as she lay in Chris's arms, and he gently stroked her hair away from her face. Frannie and Cap sat on either side of her, offering words of comfort, until she had fallen asleep, exhausted from everything, as only twenty-four hours earlier, she had still been in a coma.
George and Diana waited outside for word of how Rita was doing. It wasn't long before Harry and Fran came out, leaving Chris alone with Rita. They filled George and Diana in, about what happened with Jillian and Rita. Harry had put the bits and pieces of what Rita had told them together with what he figured must have took place. Jillian had went in and told Rita she was ruining Chris's whole life, that he had to break up with her, just because he felt some insane obligation to take care of Rita, She said she should let Chris go, he had a chance to come to Boston with her... To live his own life, not spend it taking care of a cripple... She had let it slip, on purpose was his belief... That Rita was paralyzed from the waist down, knowing full well that she hadn't yet been told. It was a horrible thing to do, and Harry was outraged, and went on to let the hospital staff know what she had done.
Chris watched as Rita slept, and he could still see the tear stains on her cheeks. He went to get a warm wash cloth and gently wiped them away. He had never seen Rita as upset as she had been earlier, and his heart broke, as he thought of her, hearing about her paralysis, from Jillian, in such a cruel way. Oh, he intended full well to deal with that witch.... As much love as he felt for Rita, he felt just as much contempt for Jillian... And Eric.
Seeing Rita lying there, her small, petite body looking so fragile, Chris vowed to her, and to himself, that he would never let anyone hurt her ever again. He had always been protective of his Sammy, but now he felt as if he had failed her, too many times. It wouldn't happen again though.... That he was sure of. When Rita woke up the next day, she saw Chris sleeping on the chair. She felt bad for him, remembering how sore she had felt sleeping in a chair after he had been shot by a psychotic DA. She studied his face, thinking about how much he meant to her.... She really loved him so much... And she was afraid now.... What should she do? She remembered last night.
And resisted the urge to cry about it now, it would do no good, anyway. Chris would only wake up, and get upset, and she didn't want him to feel bad, he had been through a lot lately, as much as she knew, yet here he was, still always there for her. She wondered where he got his strength from, because he wouldn't come to her for it anymore, not when she was the reason for his need.
Jillian had wanted Chris to go to Boston with her, and Rita was glad that he had refused her.... Jillian wasn't good for Chris; he deserved someone who really cared about him, and what he dreams were what made him happy, as well.
However, Jillian had been right on one thing... Chris shouldn't waste his life; just because he was her best friend, and he felt obligated. She couldn't deal with that. She only wanted him to be happy, to live the life he deserved to. It would be so hard for her, to live each day without him, but it was what was best for him, and that was all that mattered to Rita.
Chris wasn't sure he heard right, she couldn't have just said that, why would she? " Rita?"
"Just go, Chris, please? I don't want to do this to you, please try and understand, it would be better this way" she wiped the tears that rolled down her face.
" I can't understand, Sammy, what's wrong, will you explain that to me, huh?
" Just go! I need you to go on with your life, not waste it here with me!"
Chris was beginning to understand now.... Jillian's words had gotten to her. "Okay, fine, Rita, you tell me what I should do with my life" he tried to hold back his smile, but it snuck out anyway.
She looked at him, irritation written all over her face. "You aren't making this easy for me!"
"Why should I make it easy for you to break my heart, huh?
"Chris, you have to do what's best for you."
"I am doing what is best for me, being with you is what is best for me, you know that."
"Stop! Why are you being like this...? I hate this!"
"Then stop it Rita! I don't need you to be the martyr for my life!"
She sucked in her breath, shocked. Her next words came out in a whisper."
"And I don't need that from you either, Chris"
Chris laughed a little, shaking his head, as he went over to his Sammy. "Sunshine, don't you see it yet? I love you, Rita, not just as a best friend either, I have always loved you...."
Rita looked at him, her eyes full of questions, but her heart was overflowing with her own hidden feelings, and now they found a way out, surprising even herself as she spoke them "Chris? I love you too... More then just as a friend does.... I thought.""
Chris wrapped his arms around her shoulders, and leaned down to kiss her, a kiss that was made in heaven He was holding her in his arms, her back to his chest, and they were finally having their first totally honest heart to heart talk. "Rita, I love you so much... You are apart of me; you make me whole... I always knew that.... But because of our jobs, because I was afraid of loosing you, loosing our friendship, I tried to convince myself that I was in love all those other women...
With Jillian, I tried even harder, because you were with Eric, and I wanted you so much it hurt...
And when he left you, I suddenly wasn't happy with Jillian anymore... I couldn't fool myself that I was, but I was so wrapped up in denying my feelings for you, I let her take control of my life. It wasn't until I almost lost you that I realized that I couldn't deny my heart anymore. Sam, I need
you in my life, I couldn't be happy without you, I want you to understand that."
She turned herself around as best as she could to face him. "It was the same with me Sam, I always knew I loved you, but I couldn't loose you, your friendship was everything to me, it was all I had.... And then Jillian and Eric came along.... Things got so messed up... When you were shot, I wanted to tell you how I felt, and just as I was about to, Jillian walked in, not only into your room, but your life as well... Eric came along then... And it was like what you did... I just wanted to try to forget that I loved you, try to love someone else... And be happy that we were friends, but then you got engaged to Jillian and I felt like I was loosing our friendship too....
Chris, I am so sorry for what I said to you earlier... I don't really want you to go... I love you so much... But I am scared.... I don't want to be a burden on you; I want you to be happy, that's all.
Chris hugged Rita tighter, placing tender little kisses on her temple.
"Sunshine, you are what makes me happy.... You are my only sunshine.... And I could never think of you as a burden, so you get that silly thought right out of that pretty little head of yours, alright. He reached down to tickle her, being careful not to hurt her as he remembered her broken ribs. Her laughter was like music to his ears.
"You are my only sunshine... Sam... Weren't you singing that when I woke up yesterday
morning...? It seems so familiar...'
Chris smiled, knowing why the song was familiar to her "I sang that to you, when you were in the coma... Did you hear me?"
"I think I did.... I know I heard you talking to me, and I could feel a warmth pulling me, and I got closer to your voice, and.... Now that I think of it Sam, you WERE singing!"
Rita snuggled into his arms, realizing just how lucky she was to have Chris's love.
She began to grow drowsy, feeling secure in his strong, yet gentle arms. She had tried to give him his life, but he had made her see that without each other, both of them would live a miserable life. As she drifted off to sleep, snuggled in Chris's arms, Rita made a decision.... She would not let this thing beat her; she would fight it, and one day she would walk again, for herself, and for Chris.
A week later, Rita was sitting in her bed, picking at what the hospital called food. She thought the roach coach was bad, but that seemed to be a four star restaurant, compared to what they served her for her lunch today, some ham and cheese thing. She had just pushed the tray aside when Chris strolled in, with a wheelchair, and grinning like a Cheshire cat. "Eat that lunch, young lady, or you don't get your surprise!" Chris said, teasingly.
"I don't like it... It's gross... Really, have some" she said when she saw the look of doubt Chris gave her.
"You have to eat some of it, come on Sam, just eat at least half, okay"
"What is my surprise first, huh?"
"No, no, you'll see it when you eat your lunch, now be a good girl"
Rita gave him a fake glare.... If he was going to treat her like a child, well she could play that game as well, she thought, then gave him her sweetest, most innocent face, "How about just three bites, huh" she pouted.
Chris shook his head, knowing what she was doing. He knew his Sammy.
"How about you eat it all, or I go tell the nurse, and then she'll call Frannie, who will come in here with her Chinese herbs. I happened to over hear Frannie talking to the nurses the other day, and she has their complete cooperation in this matter." Chris knew he had won, and he smiled even wider. He loved teasing her almost as much as kissing her.
Rita sulked, "That's not fair... Okay, but only half?" she gave him her look, with her eyes opened bigger, showing off the emerald green that Chris loved so much.
He had won, so it was easy for him to let her think he was giving in now. He nodded, and watched as she grumpily ate her lunch, causing him to laugh as she made sure he knew she was not enjoying it at all.
When she had finished eating, Chris helped her dress into a pair of jeans and a lightweight sweater he had brought for her. Then he placed one arm under her knees, the other under her shoulders, and gently lifted Rita into his arms, kissing her as he did. He saw a dark look pass quickly across her face. It was a look he had seen every time he had helped her, in one way or another, during the past week.
He quickly, yet carefully sat her in the wheelchair, then covered her legs with the beautiful afghan that Fran had brought from home for her, because Rita always wanted something to cover her legs. Chris suspected it was because she didn't want to see them, or that she was ashamed, but he felt that if covering her legs made her happy, then it should be done. He saw her eyes well up with unshed tears, and he knew the thoughts that were running through her mind. He decided to put her mind at ease, once and for all. He took her slender hand into his, and looked into her eyes. He could see all the worries, all the fears, and she knew he could see them, and she turned away from him. Chris tenderly stroked her cheek, and turned her head to face him.
"Rita... I know your having a hard time with this.... With me doing things for you.... I know you don't want to feel like your helpless, that you don't want me to think of you that way. Sunshine... I wish I could make you see that I don't think of you at all like that... You are the strongest woman I have ever known... You have been through so much in your life, and you always come out fighting.... I know you are gearing yourself up for this fight also, I can see it when I look at you, and I am in awe of that, Rita. I could never think of you as anything but the strong, brave woman you are, and if I sometimes get a little over protective of you, I'm sorry, it's just that I love you so much, without you, I am the one who is helpless.
When I do something to help you, please don't let it make you feel bad, I can't bear that, honey, You want me to be happy, that's what you said, right" Chris asked, a small grin starting.
Rita nodded her head yes, and tried to smile back. She knew Chris meant what he had said, and it did make her feel a little better. She would just have to accept it for now, but deep inside her, she felt the determination grow. Chris could see it like a fire in her eyes. That was his Rita, he thought. He took her into his arms, and gave her a quick hug, then rolled the chair down the hallway, popping a wheelie as he did, which brought Rita's' laugh back. Fran and Cap were waiting in the car, and Rita gave Chris a puzzled look. "Where are we going, Chris, have I been released?" she asked. "Oh, I wish that were true, but not yet. I do however have permission to take you out for a little while." Chris lifted Rita out of the chair, resting her in the back seat, and got in beside her.
"Hi Cap, Fran.... Where are we going?" Rita tried to get them to tell her.
"Ah. Ah. Ah, they won't tell you either, sunshine, I made them promise"
"That's right, Rita... It's a surprise, so sit back, and enjoy the ride, okay dear," said Frannie.
"Oh, alright." she smiled with a pout added in. Cap saw her face in the rearview mirror, and chuckled, along with Chris and Frannie. Harry and Fran carried a picnic basket, and a blanket to the spot where Chris had shown them, it was Rita's' favorite spot on the beach. They spread out the blanket, as Chris carried Rita over and gently laid her down on it.
Fran reached out her hands as if to guide him, or to catch Rita, should Chris suddenly drop her.
"Fran... It's okay... He's got her," Cap said through his closed mouth, so that only wife could hear him. Frannie stepped back, realizing what she was doing. Chris had asked her, very nicely, to not treat Rita as if she would break, as she had been doing this past week.
Rita took in the beautiful scenery, it had been awhile since she had seen the ocean, and she had missed it. She looked up. Seeing her three dear friends standing there, watching her.
"So are you all going to eat standing up, or would any of you care to join me?" Her words brought Chris out of the daze he had been in, and he sat down beside her. He had been struck by how beautiful she looked, and how much he loved her, seeing his sunshine in the sunshine. It just made her glow.
Harry and Fran sat down too; they also had been caught off guard by how beautiful and happy Rita seemed just now.
After they had eaten, Rita now enjoying her food, and making up for scarcely eating anything the past week, they just sat and talked. They reminisced about their past cases, and Harry told them some stories of his own youth, and they all laughed about some of the things that had happened.
As they talked, fatigue began to overtake Rita, and soon she was lying asleep with her head in Chris's lap. Chris watched her sleep, as he talked to Fran and Cap about the outcome of all that took place. Jillian was questioned about what happened with Rita... She just explained it as an accident, and now she'll just get her own way again as usual.... She's a cold woman," Chris said."
I let her know what I thought of her little stunt.... I said I could never love anyone like her. She was pretty angry, saying some nasty things, and she told me she hopes I enjoy my life. She honestly thinks I would be happier with her, then with Rita."
Fran smiled, glad that at least the nightmare had brought Chris and Rita together, the way they were meant to be.
"Cap, I never got around to asking you about Russell's trial, how did that go?" Chris asked.
Harry shook his head sadly, "Not as we hoped it would, but I guess there wasn't much that could be done.... He has some community hours, and he lost his license for a few months, he's supposed to go to AA, but that's about it, really. I did manage to get a restraining order for him to stay away from Rita though... I don't want him anywhere near her."
"Yeah, Cap... Thanks" Chris said quietly, as he looked at Rita sleeping peacefully in his arms. He tucked a stray lock, behind her ear, and rubbed his fingers through her soft hair. He was angry that it was Rita who had been the one hurt through all of this, and it seemed as if she was the only one who would pay for it. He didn't think it was fair.
Harry sensed his mood. "Chris, I know it isn't right.... But don't let it get to you.... Whatever comes, just keep holding on to one another, that's all that really matters anyway.... Let the rest go, okay"
As Chris watched Rita sleeping, he knew Cap was right, and it was easy for him to take his advice.
When Rita woke up from her nap, the sun was just beginning to set Chris carried Rita over to a private spot, and held her in his arms as they watched it set. Fran and Harry could hear them whispering softly to each other, and laughing together.
"Isn't that sweet, Heschy? They are so in love, and they remind me of when we were young, don't you think so?"
Harry reached over, and pulled Fran into his arms. "Yes they do, sweetheart... They are just as much in love with each other, as I am with you, even after all these years"
"Oh Heschy... I love you too." Frannie stood on her tiptoes to give her man a quick kiss.
"Come on, dear" said Harry, taking her hand, and leading them over to where Chris and Rita were. "Let's go get our kids."
Rita had to be back at the hospital soon. It had been a wonderful day.
Two months later;
Chris leaned over the hospital bed where Rita was laying. He had her hand in his, and he could feel it shaking. The nurse had given Rita a pill to help her relax, and it was making her sleepy.
"It will all be over soon, Sam" he told her. "You have the easy part... You get to sleep through it all.... Meanwhile I have to be out here pacing and waiting until your all done"
Chris was teasing her, trying to make her less afraid. This was a moment that they had waited for, the swelling had finally gone down, a few weeks after Rita had been discharged, and they were excited to schedule surgery as soon as possible.
It had seemed like they couldn't make it soon enough for Rita, until the time had actually come, and now, she felt scared. The outcome of this surgery would determine if she would ever walk again.
Rita smiled up at Chris. She wanted to tell him just how much he meant to her, but she couldn't find the words that would do her feelings justice, her mind was failing her, as the drugs took over. As she finally gave in to the dark haze coming over her she said the only thing she could think of. "Chris... You are my sunshine, my only sunshine."
After Rita had been taken to the OR, Chris went to join Cap and Fran in the waiting room. Several hours later, Chris saw her doctor come over towards him, and he went to meet him. He returned to Fran and Cap, who were waiting anxiously. The smile on Chris's face told them all they needed to know.
"The surgery was a success, the damage wasn't as bad as they thought, and they think that with a lot of therapy, and her determination, she'll walk again someday."
ONE MONTH LATER;
Chris stood nearby, watching as Rita participated in her first physical therapy session, thinking how it was more like a torture session.
"Come on, Rita, you have to give me another set yet, let's go!"
"No, I can't.... Really... It is hurting so much." she gasped out, the pain she felt written all over her face. "I really need a rest, first.... Then I'll do it, Okay?"
"Sorry, Rita, it doesn't work that way. If you stop now, you'll have to start over, it defeats the purpose otherwise." said Yvonne, Rita's therapist. Chris stepped forward, angry that this therapist had no mercy, couldn't she see the pain Rita was in?
"Okay, Yvonne, that's enough for now" he said.
Yvonne looked up to see Chris standing protectively in front of Rita. She understood, it was hard for her patients families to watch their loved one go through the grueling physical therapy sessions.
"I 'm sorry, but these are her doctors orders, he says she has to complete all her therapy" said Yvonne.
"Well you can take those orders of yours and toss them in that trash can over there! I don't want her to overdo this, and I can see this is hurting her, so she will stop, you got that?"
"Chris, stop! Please. I'm fine, I can do what she wants, I'm sorry, Yvonne, let's continue, okay"
"Are you sure, Sammy.... If it is too much right now, I can talk to your doctor"
Rita looked at her Sam. She knew she could end this torture to herself, just by saying the word to him, but she also knew that she wanted to walk again, and if she let him help her out of this, he would be helping her the rest of his life.
"Chris, yeah, I'm sure. I'm sorry, Sam." " It's okay, sunshine, I'm sorry too, Yvonne"
The therapy continued, and every day Rita went for her sessions.
Several times, Chris would object to something if it caused Rita too much pain, and as much as he tried, he could not help himself. Finally, both Yvonne, and Rita threw him out, not allowing him to come in while Rita was working. Cap found this very humorous, and constantly teased him about it. Life slowly returned to normal for everyone. Chris had taken off a month on leave from work, but he had gone back to work shortly after Rita had woken from her coma, juggling a work schedule around Rita. She had gone back to Fran and Harry's place to live with them until she could live on her own at her own place.
Things started falling into place for her as well. She would go to therapy and then come in to the department and do deskwork, including all of Chris's paperwork, which made him the happiest cop ever.
Chris knew it was time now, he had waited long enough and there was no reason why he should wait any longer, he would not take no for an answer either.
He had let Fran and Harry in on his plan, and when he got to their place to pick up Rita, he could see he had arrived just in time, as Fran looked ready to burst. They were so happy, and their manner showed it, causing Rita to wonder what was going on with them.
Chris carried her out to his car, and he drove them to the beach where he spread a blanket, and pulled out a bottle of champagne and a dozen roses for her.
"Hey, what's going on partner?" Rita asked.
"I just thought we could use a romantic evening together that's all." Chris said as he pulled Rita into his arms. He took her small hand into his and he began to play with her slender fingers, one in particular.
"That sounds very nice, Chris, I miss us having the private times like we used to."
"Rita, sunshine, I miss that too... See it's so hard for me to be with out you, when you're not with me, I feel so incomplete.... I can't stop thinking about you... When we're not together, the hours just drag... And it seems that I just don't get to spend as much time with you as I want... Rita, I love you, sweetheart, heart and soul, I love you, and I want to be with you every moment that I can... Rita Lee Lance.... Will you please marry me?" Chris slid the engagement ring onto the finger he was just playing with, even before she could answer. Rita had been very quiet this whole time; her back leaned against his chest, so he could not read her facial expressions as he was talking to her. Chris was becoming more nervous as each silent second passed without any
word from her. He turned her around to see her tears roll quietly down her cheeks. "Rita?"
She looked at him, the love of her life.... He had just made her dreams come true... She wanted so badly to say yes.... And yet she was scared. She wasn't very lucky in the love department of her life... And to marry someone she so desperately needed in her life was what brought that fear to her. Having a successful marriage was hard enough for most couples, but with her still without the complete use of her legs, it would be even harder, especially on Chris. She couldn't bear the thought of their marriage not working. They talked long into the night, Rita trying to make him understand all she felt, and Chris trying to convince Rita that she had nothing to fear. Maybe it was because he was right, or because it was what Heaven had already destined them to long ago, but when the sun rose the next morning, they were each watching it together.
6 MONTHS LATER:
Chris walked slowly down the aisle, quietly greeting everyone he knew on both sides of him, and accepting their congratulations, and best wishes. It was hard for him to hear their exact words, because his mind couldn't concentrate on anything but keeping his knees from shaking as he walked. When he finally reached the end of the aisle, he stood beside George, his best man, and tried to concentrate on the soft music that was playing in the background.... Humming to the tune.... Thinking it was so true those words 'you went and saved the best for last.'
He tried to hold back the tears he felt as his emotions were overwhelming him and now his knees were shaking and he was almost blind with tears... This was not the way he wanted this moment to be. George looked at the groom standing beside him, laughing as he remembered just what Chris was going through right now.
"You ready for this, buddy?"
"Of course I'm ready.... So this is really it, huh?"
"You're a lucky man, Lorenzo, a very lucky man... Look, here comes your bride now.
George nodded towards the front of the chapel just as the wedding march started.
Chris stood there, staring at his bride... He was almost in shock, as he stood there amazed by what he saw. She was beautiful... The most beautiful woman in the world to him, she looked as if she was just sent from Heaven, in her wedding dress.... But as wonderful a sight as she was, it was something else that had him truly awed by her.
Harry stood beside her, tall and proud as he looked over at Chris, enjoying the reaction he saw from the young man he felt was like a son to him. He hoped the photographer had captured that look on his face when he first saw Rita.... That would be priceless.
The sign was given to start, and Harry moved slowly down the aisle, slower then was usually required. All eyes were on Rita however. She was leaning against Harry, as she very slowly, and carefully walked down the aisle. Chris watched as his best friend, his love, his only sunshine came towards him, seeing all the effort and love that went into each tiny step. Her eyes were shinning brightly with happiness, as they focused only on Chris, until she had finally stood by his side. She then looked up at Harry, whispering "thank you" to him. Harry leaned down to place a kiss on her cheek, then he took her hand, holding her elbow as he did, and placed it into Chris's.
Chris felt the slight weight of her lean, and stepped in to take Harry's place, as he smiled at his beloved bride. Rita had always captivated him, with her looks, her style, her grace, but never more so, then she did now, as she stood beside him, and said her vows to him, and gazing into his very soul.
Chris was lost in another world, where just him and Rita existed, and before he knew it, George was nudging him, reminding him that he also had a surprise planned.
He heard the music begin, and took his cue. Rita leaned on him as he sang his song, and began to
tremble with tears, as her emotions overflowed. Harry came back up to offer more support for her, and Chris held her hands, as he kept his eyes only on her. He knew he wasn't a singer, couldn't sing all that well, but he didn't care what anyone but Rita thought. His voice was filled with all that he felt for Rita, all his love could be heard in every word he sang. Even when his voice broke because of the sobs he tried to hold back, he still continued on.
'"I swear by the moon and the stars in the sky....
And I swear, like a shadow that's by your side
I see the questions in your eyes
I know what's weighing on your mind
You can be sure I know my heart
Cause I stand beside you through the years
You'll only cry those happy tears
Though I make mistakes, I'll never break your heart
And I swear by the moon and the stars in the skies
I'll be there
Like a shadow that's by your side, I'll be there
For better or worse till death do us part
I'll love you with every beat of my heart
And I swear...
I'll give you everything I can
I'll build your dreams with these two hands
We'll hang some memories on the walls
And when just the two of us are there
You won't have to ask if I still care
Cause as the time turns the page
My love won't age at all
And I swear, by the moon and the stars in the sky
I'll be there
I swear, like a shadow that's by your side, I'll be there
For better or worse, till death do us part
I love you with every single beat of my heart
I swear... I swear... I swear..."
"I swear, Rita.... I love you sunshine" Chris added as the song faded.
He opened his arms to Rita, and she fell into them crying and kissing him. She had never felt so much love from anyone, nor had allowed herself to love anyone as much as she loved Chris.
They both held each other, as their tears of joy mixed together.
Despite that there wasn't a dry eye in that church, it was the happiest place on earth that day. Chris and Rita were pronounced husband and wife, and then Chris quickly swept a tiring Rita into his arms and carried her back up the aisle as the preacher introduced them as Mr. and Mrs. Christopher James Lorenzo for the first time ever.
During the reception, Chris and Rita mingled with their guest. Chris stood proudly by his wife as she sat in her wheelchair. All their friends came over to greet them, and tell Rita how beautiful she had looked, and how she had really surprised all of them, by walking down the aisle. Rita beamed, saying that had been her intention, one she had worked very hard for over the last several months, but it was really for Chris, that she had intended that surprise for. He was her inspiration. Chris leaned down to her, whispering some words intended only for her, and they came together in another kiss. After everyone had eaten, and the wedding cake was cut, it was
time for the bride and groom to dance their first dance together. Chris took Rita by both hands, and she stood up, and stepped closer to him. Chris held her tightly as they glided out to the center of the dance floor, holding on to each other as they listened to the music they had both picked out for their first dance as man and wife. It could have been one of the many beautiful songs that were currently out there, but none of them had the meaning for them that the one they had chose did. The simple song, from a child's recording, brought smiles to all their guests, especially those
"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are gray
You'll never know dear, how much I love you
Please don't take my sunshine away."
Soon other couples began to join them, and Chris and Rita went on to dance a few more of the traditional wedding songs, After awhile, Chris could see that Rita was becoming a bit tired, and he knew that he definitely didn't want her too exhausted that night. He again swept her off her feet, and made his way over to the microphone.
"We just want to thank you all for coming to our wedding, and helping us celebrate our
marriage." He looked at Rita, and she nodded, her face glowing. "We are leaving now..."Hey, Lorenzo, what's your hurry?" George yelled, bringing silly snickers from the crowd, Chris's face turned red. Rita quickly saved him "You all are welcome to stay, however... Have fun.... But don't make the restaurant manager call the cops, he might be shocked to find out there all here already!" This stirred up more laughs and jokes. Chris yelled "See ya!" and turned to leave, but again someone stopped him. "Hey, you two. It's your party, stay awhile! "
"Sorry guys, you know I would love to, but already Rita has me whipped... And she seems to have made other plans for me tonight." Chris pretended to pout, as Rita playfully slugged him, and all their guests laughed once again.
"All right, Rita... We're out of here.... Geez! He turned to the crowd one last time.
"Good bye, you all, see ya!" said Mr. and Mrs. Lorenzo, as they headed out of the door, and into their future, together.
THE END .
Disclaimer: Chris, Rita, Harry, Fran, George, Eric Russell, and Jillian all belong to USA and all those who have given us Silk Stalkings. I thank all of them for the wonderful story of Chris and Rita, and for the use of them, and the other characters, even though they have never given me permission to use them. I also would like to thank Kristiina for posting this story, and my other one, Wind Chimes, which I forgot to publicly, give my thanks for then. Thank you! Also, the song, I Swear, is from ALL-4-ONE, and YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE is owned by someone, I guess, I don't know who, but thanks to the owners of those songs as well.
I appreciate all the responses from my other story, and I would love feedback on this one as well, good or bad! I know that I changed a lot from the real story, but since not many of us liked it that way, I didn't think anyone would mind. Besides that is the wonderful thing about Fanfic, we can let our imaginations run wild, which mine sure did! Any way, I hoped you all enjoyed the story, and thanks for taking the time to read it! Lisa