The Client

Chapter 44

Mike couldn't breathe. He was vaguely aware of some sort of noise going on around him, but that didn't matter to him. The whole world just seemed to stop when he caught Abby as she fell. After a few seconds that seemed to him an eternity he felt his girlfriend stir. "Abby?" Mike trembled.

"Damn, that hurts," Abby coughed.

"Easy," he urged fearfully. Mike's mind raced. All the worst case scenarios flashed before him. He couldn't feel any blood between them. It was too dry. The bullet hadn't gone through her. It still had to be in her body.

Lucia yanked her arm in an attempt to free herself from the guard. She glared at him when he wouldn't let go. He just smiled. Lucia called to her friend, "Abby, are you ok?"

Charlie got off of her knees. She got her feet under her and readied to push up. The guard that had the gun to her yanked her back down. Charlie couldn't see anything and it was frustrating as hell. "Where were you hit?" she called.

"My rib cage, Ouh," Abby placed her hand over the area. Abby let out a string of curses that would make a sailor proud.

Mike's hand went over hers, "How's the bleeding?" Damn these bandages and his eyes for not letting him see.

"I'm ok. It hit my-" she bit her bottom lip.

Mike ripped them off his eyes. "Mike, what are you doing?" Abby protested, "I told you, I'm ok." He tossed the pads aside, but kept his eyes closed. Mike finally opened them when he was face to face with Abby. He blinked rapidly. Everything was still pretty blurry. Mike could make out the shape of her face and hair, but not her finer features.

Mike lifted their hands and angled over to look at where Abby had indicated, not allowing her to leave his arms- loathed to lose any contact with her. What he didn't see was the red of blood. Abby guided Mike's hand down to the whole the bullet had made. He stuck his finger through it to find the bullet. Mike felt the Kevlar that stopped it.

"You wore your vest," Mike inhaled his first full breath since the gun went off.

"You asked me to," Abby replied.

Mike kissed her forehead, "Thank you."

"I kind of forgot about it actually," she muttered.

Bello knelt down and took up the bandages in his hands. He pressed the cotton between his fingers. "How about that, Michael?" Bello chuckled, "Am I a sight for sore eyes or what?!"

Mike snapped his head up in Bello's direction. Mike's eyes narrowed until they were slits. The rest of his face scrunched up with them. It was pretty obvious that Mike wasn't focusing properly yet.

Brennan was shaking. On monitors, he had seen Bello shoot Abby. Brennan pounded his fist into the desk. "That son of a b!tch," he cursed. Brennan straightened to his full height. Lauren blocked the door way.

"He just shot my baby!" Brennan thundered, "We need to get in there now."

"We are working on that right," Lauren said, "They have already started the gas."

"That is going to take too long- we don't know how severe her wound is!" Brennan countered.
"Abby doesn't need you going in there half cocked and getting hurt yourself too!" Lauren charged. She fought her own instincts to rush in after Abby too, but she couldn't let him see it. Brennan needed to stay safe. It was her job to make sure he was in one piece. Maybe it was more than that. Looking up into Brennan's face with her ice blue eyes, both piercing and pleading, Lauren had an epiphany. She loved this crazy, smart, passionate man. Though this wasn't the time and place to say it out loud.

"Sir," Piper called. He didn't hear her. She had been listening to the goings on in the room. "Governor Sinclair," Piper tried again. It took a third time for her to catch Brennan's attention.

"What?" Brennan snapped.

"Your daughter is wearing some sort of bulletproof vest," Piper reported, "That's what the bullet hit."

"Thank God," Brennan hung his head.

Lauren rubbed Brennan's upper arms, "Let the team do their job."

Bello waved the guard back from Charlie. She looked at him questioningly before deciding she didn't care about his motives. Charlie scurried over to check out Abby. She craned down and inspected the impact site.

"I'm ok," Abby insisted.

"What you are is certifiable," Charlie charged, "You should be committed- jumping in front of me like that was crazy!"

"I'd do it again," Abby pronounced.

"Uh uh," Charlie began to press lightly into Abby ribs to check for any damage. She really couldn't feel much with the vest in the way. "You're blouse is definitely a goner," Charlie dropped her hands onto the top of her legs.

"You are worth more than a blouse," Abby smiled, "You're my sister, Charlie." She squeezed Charlie's free hand. Abby let out a cough.

"I do not like that cough," Charlie frowned. She could tell Abby was having a little trouble breathing.

Sirens and the sounds of helicopters blared over the sound system. "What the hell is going on?" Bello yelled almost unable to be heard over the noise. Next thing they knew the same trick they had used was turned against them and a gas began to filter in through the air system causing the guards to begin to panic.

"Settle down," Bello tried to calm them.

"My friends are here," Mike smirked. He set Abby next to Charlie before launching himself at Bello. Mike went to control the arm with the gun. Bello struggled against him. Mike was able to ram both Bello and his arm into the wall. He knocked the gun out of Bello's grip. It fell to the floor. The gun went off, but miraculously hit the roof. Mike reached inside Bello's suit jacket into the shoulder holster were he carried his second gun and brought it out. He swung behind the kingpin grabbing him from behind. Mike held Bello fast and shoved the gun right up under the corner of jaw. Bello growled. "Still keeping your second gun over your left shoulder," Mike snickered, "Girls, get behind me!" Charlie helped Abby move and settled her back on the ground. "Now tell your men to back down." He pressed the gun harder into Bello's skin.

"Drop your weapons," Bello ordered. His men slowly complied.

Lucia's guard dropped his riffle down at her feet and backed away. Lucia picked up the riffle and joined him keeping guard over Charlie and Abby.

The door was rammed opened. Johnny led the charge inside. Grant began barking orders at the guards. They lined up against the wall.

"Everyone ok?" Johnny surveyed the group.

"You finally decided to show up," Mike shook his head.

"You think getting this arranged is easy?" Johnny gave it right back.

"It certainly took you long enough!" Mike quipped.

Charlie ran to her brother. Johnny embraced her with one arm, but kept his gun leveled at the guards.

"Thank God, you're all right," Charlie sobbed.

"It's ok," Johnny smoothed down her hair, "I got you." He locked eyes with Lucia from across the room. "I got you," Johnny repeated.

Mike passed Bello over to Grant. "Against the wall," Grant ordered. Bello reluctantly complied. Grant slipped his handcuffs out of their holder on his belt. He offered them to Mike. All he got in return was a raised eyebrow in reply. Grant motioned to Bello, "Don't you want to do the honors?"

Mike shook his head. He went to Abby. "Think you can walk?" Mike asked.

"Yeah," Abby winced.

He held out his hand. She took it. Mike helped Abby to her feet and wrapped an arm around her, "Let's get out of here." She nodded.

The couple was ushered from the room, through the warehouse, to the front door and outside. They were greeted in the parking lot by ambulances and emergency personnel. Under Lauren's watchful eye, Brennan stood in the middle of the sea of people, eagerly searching the people being brought out of the building. The world stopped when the father and daughter laid eyes on each other. Mike let Abby go and she ran into her father's open arms. Brennan embraced his daughter tightly, unashamed of the tears streaming from his eyes. His fear and pain crashed down and the rush of overwhelming relief transformed the normally strong, articulate man into a blubbering mess. Lauren smiled at the two.

An EMT approached them and tapped Mike on his shoulder, "Sir..."

"Abby needs looked at first," Mike didn't even let him finish his sentence.

"You need to be looked at too," Abby pulled away from her father.

"Cracked ribs can wait- just humor me," Mike contended. Abby looked like she wanted to protest. "Please," he entreated.

"Ok," Abby conceded.

They were led to the open back of an ambulance. The EMT had Abby sit. He began by inspecting the area where Abby had been shot at. "You're very lucky," he said.

"Her breathing's not right," Mike frowned. The EMT had noticed the shallow breaths himself. He took the stethoscope off of his neck and readied it.

"Breathe deeply for me," he instructed. The EMT listened as Abby did as instructed. First on the good side then a second on the side the bullet had hit. "She needs oxygen," the EMT called into the ambulance.

"Why?" Abby coughed.

"It's just a precaution at the moment," the EMT answered, "To be on the safe side I would recommend you get an x-ray of your lungs at a hospital."

A second EMT busied herself inside the vehicle. Once she was set up the EMT came out. She placed an oxygen mask over Abby's nose and mouth. "Just relax and breathe as deeply as you can," the female EMT instructed.

"Is that better?" Brennan patted her hand. Abby nodded. Johnny brought the girls out and they were being seen to at a second ambulance. Mike bristled. Bello was being lead out after some of his men were loaded into police cruisers. He had a pretty full view of the vignette framed by the doors of the ambulance. Those two idiots were fussing over their little doll. Bello sneered. They were no doubt telling her it was over. The hell it was. If he could get to Abby he could still make both of those men pay. Bello broke free and made a b-line for the ambulance.

Mike took a station in front of Abby and Brennan. He was backed up by Brennan's security force and Lauren, but before Bello got within a yard of them a shot rang out. Brennan wrapped himself around his daughter like a shield. The bullet hit Bello square between his shoulder blades. Mike watched the other man fall to his knees. Bello continued downward, landing face down onto the pavement. Police and EMTs rushed to the fallen Bello. One of the EMT's checked for a pulse, but found none. He looked up at his colleague and shook his head. From the extent of the wound there was nothing they could do. Mike felt his whole body relax. Bello was dead. Mike looked over in the direction the bullet came from and saw Grant. The FBI agent holstered his 9mm. Mike nodded at him. Grant responded in kind.

"Mike?!" Abby leaned back and tried to look for the man whose man she called.

"Don't," Brennan urged. He held fast not wanting her to see the aftermath of what just happened. Mike made his way over to her. The security guards let him through.

Abby pulled the mask from her face so Mike could hear her. "Is he?" Abby questioned.

Mike nodded sadly. "It's over, Baby," he leaned down and kissed the crown of her head, "Bello can't hurt you anymore."

Abby buried her face in Mike's shirt. "Please, God," she prayed silently, "Let it be over." Mike stroked her hair comfortingly. Abby grasped him close and wept.

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