The last thing she remembers is starting the autopsy. She recalls bagging some hair and preparing for the incision, but after that . . .
She's on a stretcher – that much she can tell. Ryan is beside her, along with two paramedics. She wants to take the oxygen mask off and ask what's going on, but her arm feels too heavy to move. Her eyes flutter closed again. Ryan leans in close, whispering reassurances in her ear. "You'll be fine, Alexx. Just fine."
Alexx knows this scenario well. From Tim to Ryan to Eric . . . if one thing was certain, it was that her boys knew how to find trouble. She also knows the look in Ryan's eyes very well.
Worry. It was always there under the surface, ever since she had started working for Horatio Caine. It wasn't like her worry for Peter or Janie or Bryan. That was normal, motherly worry. That portion of her family didn't find themselves staring down the barrel of a gun on a semi-daily basis.
It started mainly with Tim Speedle, her Timmy. He had no family in Miami and spoke little of what family he did have. She found herself pulling him under her wings, caring for him like he was part of the family, part of her family. Losing Tim was like losing her own flesh and blood. The hurt was raw and deep. Alexx felt like she would never recover – some days she thinks she hasn't yet.
The pain was still fresh when Ryan joined the team. She resisted him at first, thinking that by being distant and cold she couldn't get hurt again. But he called out to her, the same way Tim had. He looked like a grown man, but his eyes made her see the lost little boy. Her baby.
When she heard he'd been shot, her heart skipped a beat. She raced to the hospital, overcome of thoughts of 'last time.' He tried to act tough and brush her off, but Alexx would have none of it. She stayed put, barely suppressing a grin when he squeezed her hand just that bit harder when the nail was removed. She brushed his hair back, reassuring him, getting a weak smile in return.
Still, the apprehension remained. She continued to checkup on him; lecture him when he foolishly put his job over his health. He spurned her concerns at first, but she knew he'd come around.
Sometimes she blames herself for not noticing when he began to slip into his downward spiral. But her mind was on Eric – her other baby, who managed to survive a bullet to the head. When she first heard the news from Horatio, her heart jumped into her throat. Please don't let it be Tim all over again. She spent long hours at the hospital praying he'd be alright. When Calleigh brought up the possibility of memory loss, she had to push down the panic the welled inside her chest.
But Eric recovered remarkably and things seemed to be going back to normal. When Ryan called to tell her he was fired, she almost laughed. "You're joking, honey. Right?" But no, the desolation was real.
He stayed at her house the first few nights. They sat up talking long after the rest of her family had gone to bed. (Peter learned years ago with Tim not to question it when his wife brought one of her "boys" home. He just kissed her on the cheek and reminded her not to stay up too late.) They spent hours going over his job options and Alexx lectured him about turning to gambling to take the edge off. Secretly, she was relieved he hadn't turned to a more dangerous vice. After a few minor setbacks, her baby was on his way, slowly but surely, back into the fold.
She so used to worrying, wondering if that next body isn't going to be one of them, if that next call isn't going to start out "I'm sorry . . ."
But as she's wheeled to the ambulance – Ryan hovering over her and looking like he's fighting back tears – she can't help but wonder if maybe they're scared of the same thing.
Summary: They're close. She staring into hazel eyes she knows so well, slightly scared of what she sees. His breath brushes her cheek as he gives her a chaste kiss and her hold loosens on the paper. "I promise, Alexx."
A series of unrelated oneshots centering around Alexx. Written for the 10_themes challenge on Livejournal.