The Client

Chapter 45

Charlie stared at her reflection and sighed. Her face was swelling now. The large bandage over her broken nose didn't help matters. She touched the tape keeping it down. Luckily she was alone in the communal ladies' room.

Charlie dug in her bag of supplies that she had gotten out of her locker. There wasn't much that the makeup could cover, but she was trying her damnedest. She needed to clean up so she could see Hannah. She added another layer of foundation and blended before tossing everything back into the bag. She stepped outside of the ladies' room to find Johnny waiting for her.

"You don't have to guard me anymore," Charlie said.

"A brother can check on his sister," he asserted.

"Where is Lucia?" she asked.

"She's giving a statement to the police last I saw her- I told her I need to be with you," Johnny shrugged.

"You should go look for her," Charlie urged.

"I doubt she wants to see me at the moment," he answered.

"What makes you say that?" she questioned, "She was pretty worried about you while Bello had us."

"I'm worried about you," Johnny admitted.

"I almost forgot how much I love your stupid face," Charlie patted his cheek. He chortled softly.

"Are you on your way to see Hannah?" he inquired in an attempt to cheer her up.

Charlie's shoulders shagged, "Yeah."

"That's a good thing, right?" Johnny smiled.

"I don't want to scare her," she admitted.

"It's not that bad," he offered.

Charlie raised an eyebrow, "I've looked in a mirror."

"Ok, so she's going to notice your injuries- the important thing is that we are there to explain it," Johnny encouraged.

"We? You want to come with me?" Charlie questioned.

"Why not? I enjoy visiting my soon-to-be niece too," he pronounced. Charlie bit her bottom lip, hoping the pain would stop the threatening tears, but it was too late. Her face contorted. She turned into him. Johnny awkwardly froze in a momentary panic. He blew out a breath before wrapping his arms around his sister. "What's wrong?" Johnny's brow furrowed. Charlie shuttered. She cried into his chest.

"They are never going to give Hannah to me now," Charlie sobbed.

"Why not?" Johnny challenged gently.

She pulled back from him. "Do you see my face? I knew, I knew the moment I woke up in that van that my chances were blown," Charlie sputtered.

"You cut that out- don't say that," he urged.

"It's the truth, Johnny, I was just kidnapped- I am the last person the courts are going to trust with the safety of a five-year-old," she insisted.

"You are the best person for her," Johnny countered.

"That doesn't matter now, not after what happened at my old apartment and everything else," she tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear.

"None of that was your fault," he replied.

"Wrong place, wrong time, wrong everything," she muttered as she turned away.

Johnny reached out and stopped Charlie by her shoulders, "You know what- just forget about all of that right now and let's just go see Hannah- you'll feel better." The little girl did wonders for Charlie.

Charlie licked her lips, "Let's go."

"You see this dark area?" Dr. Paris, Abby's doctor, directed their attention to Abby's x-ray on the screen.

"What is that?" Abby made a face.

"You have a pulmonary contusion," the doctor said.

"Bruised lung," Mike frowned. He wasn't looking at the screen. His eyes were still not quite able to focus.

"Yes," Dr. Paris nodded.

"I was afraid of that," Mike replied.

"A bruised lung?" Abby questioned, "I was wearing a vest…"

"The force of the bullet still did some damage- it hit just the wrong spot," Dr. Paris replied.

"Plus, you are a tiny thing," Mike added. Abby scoffed playfully and patted Mike's chest.

"So what does this mean exactly?" Brennan asked from his chair.

"Best case scenario is you'll only need some pain meds and the oxygen," the doctor addressed his patient, "It should clear up in the next three to five days."

"And worst case?" Abby asked.

"We might need to suction excess blood and mucus off your lung," Dr. Paris answered.

"It's not pleasant," Mike's upper lip curled.

"You've had a bruised lung?" Abby queried.

Mike nodded. "Then you know how this works," Dr. Paris replied.

"On my second job with Briggs- my ribs kind of met a two by four," Mike added.

"That explains all the healed fractures," Dr. Paris replied. He had taken a look at Mike's x-ray as well.

"Oh, it's not just that- I've gotten knocked around a lot- guess it's made my ribs stronger," Mike said.

"Now these things develop slowly and it's still early on," the doctor said, "I'd like to keep you at least twenty-hour hours for observation."

"Ok," Abby agreed. Mike stroked her arm.

"But we'll both be cleared for travel in the next two weeks?" Mike inquired.

"I suppose so," Dr. Paris agreed, "It's a little bit more hairy with you, with the fractures. Do you have any plans?"

"I think my girl deserves a vacation," Mike pronounced. He kissed Abby's temple.

Abby looked to her father, "Mike wants to take me to London to meet his mother." Brennan nodded his approval.

Brennan's assistant tapped on the large window. Brennan looked up to see his assistant motion him out. Lauren was now with the group outside the room.

"Looks like that's my cue- I've got to go to the press conference," Brennan excused himself, "Will you be ok?"

"I am in quite capable hands," Abby laid her head on Mike's shoulder. Mike draped his arm over her shoulder.

"See you later," Brennan headed for the door.

"Later," Abby agreed.

Brennan joined Lauren. They walked intandum with each other to the elevator in comfortable silence. The pair was followed by his security team. It was a quick trip down. They exited simultaneously. Lauren swayed unconsciously towards him. "Abby looks to be doing ok," she noted.

"I think she'll be just fine," Brennan pronounced, "That was quite a scare."

"You can say that again," Lauren agreed. They came to the exit to where the conference had been set up outside the hospital. They turned to face each other.

"You know, if it hadn't been for you I think I would have lost my mind," Brennan swallowed.

Lauren bobbed her head, "That's very sweet of you to say." She looked up and batted her eyes at him. He chuckled nervously.

Brennan cleared his throat. This was beginning to go too far. Lauren was on his staff for Pete's sake. Talk about a scandal waiting to happen. It was best to put a stop to it now. He was not willing to ask her to sacrifice a career she had worked so hard on. "Thank you, Ms. Kincaid," Brennan began to distance himself, "Thanks for everything." He smiled weakly before turning to walk out into the press conference.

From the wings Lauren watched as he was introduced. He stepped up to the mic and began speaking. Even if Brennan felt the same way she did, he had his political career to think about. Lauren knew that. As long as she worked for him, Brennan would never make a move. Even if Lauren made the first move he would put the brakes on. If she wanted the situation to change, if she wanted to be with him then she was going to have to do something to make it happen.

"Dr. Charlie!" Hannah called out.

"Hi, Sweetheart," Charlie greeted as she and Johnny entered the hospital room.

"Hey, Hannah," Johnny waved. Hannah responded with a bashful wave. She still had some residual nervousness because Johnny was a guy.

"How are you doing?" Charlie approached the bed and sat by Hannah's feet. Hannah used her good arm and leg to scoot closer. Hannah frowned. She lifted her little hand up to Charlie's cheek. She cupped it softly. Hannah surveyed Charlie's face with a serious expression on her own, "Someone hurt you."

"Yeah, but I'm ok," Charlie covered. She smiled at the girl hoping to allay her fears. "I got it checked out and I'll heal," Charlie added.

"Charlie is so brave," Johnny told Hannah who nodded in return.

The little girl took up her Daniel Tiger. She held the toy out to Charlie. "Do you want to play?" Hannah offered. Charlie felt her heart melt just a little.

They stayed with the little girl until she fell asleep. Charlie turned off the light. The brother and sister tipped toed out.

"So what are we going to do now?" he asked.

"You are going to go call Lucia," Charlie directed, "I am sure I have some messages that I should answer in my office."

"I can make a call from your office," Johnny protested.

"I just want to be alone right now," she set her shoulders.

"Whatever you need," he reluctantly conceded, "Can I at least walk you to your office?"

Charlie shook her head and walked away. Johnny fought the urge to follow her. She had been clear about what she wanted.

Charlie didn't end up going to her office. She walked around for a while. "Dr. Demarco?" Charlie heard a familiar voice call her name. She slowly turned to face Tara. The social worker's eyes widened. "Damn," Tara gasped, "Are you all right?"

Charlie wiped the tears from her eyes with her fingers, "Not at the moment."

"What happened?" Tara inquired.

"Have you seen the news?" Charlie answered.

"No," Tara replied, "I have been busy with a new case all day. Were you and your friends attacked?"

"Abducted, Abby got shot," Charlie said.

"Oh, my," Tara stammered, "Is your friend ok?"

"Yeah, thankfully she was wearing a Kevlar vest," Charlie said.

"This doesn't bode well," Tara noted.

"I understand that perfectly," Charlie replied.

Tara stepped closer a couple feet, "Is it over? Did they get him?"

Charlie nodded, but wouldn't make eye contact, "The guy that was after my friend is dead."

"If he's dead are you going to need to testify?"

" I doubt it," Charlie said.

"Your friends have some pull with the police. Can you get them to bury your name under Jane Doe?" Tara inquired.


"Good," Tara mused.

Charlie tilted her head, "What are you thinking?"

"You don't have to appear in front of a judge for five months," Tara said simply, "Your face will heal up before that and if you aren't in the records things can be over looked."

"Why are you doing this?" Charlie questioned.

"There's a difference between an ongoing situation and something that is in the past," Tara answered.

"Thank you," Charlie nodded.

"There's no guarantee this won't get back to the Judge," Tara said.

"If it gives me even the slightest chance I'll take it," Charlie replied.

Mike rubbed Abby's back as she suffered through another coughing fit. It slowly subsided. When it was over Abby lifted her head to look at him. She wanted to say something, but she was pretty winded. Her chest felt a little tighter than it had an hour ago. "Lie back and rest," he coaxed. Mike helped her get resettled in the bed. She closed her eyes and tried to take a deep breath. Mike found a chair and quietly dragged it closer to the bed. He brushed some hair off of her forehead. Abby let out a little, grateful moan before drifting off to sleep. Mike watched her face for a while. As he stared, her features became more and more defined. Mike smiled at her. He decided she was even more beautiful than when they had first met. Mike thought he'd try his luck with his phone. He had a trip to London to plan.

Mike was almost done when Abby began to thrash in her hospital bed. He rubbed her arm. "Baby, wake up," he coaxed. She frowned. Her brown eyes flicker open. Abby startled but calmed once she laid eyes on Mike. "Hey."

"You're not close enough," Abby said. Mike smirked. He got on the bed beside her as she sat up.

"Do you have a current passport?" Mike asked.

"Yes. Why?" Abby inquired.

"I just booked two tickets to London," Mike showed her his phone.

"You're eyes are getting better," she noted.

"A bit," Mike admitted, "You haven't said where you wanted to go after London."

"I am thinking somewhere with beaches," Abby mused, "Maybe an island or something."

"If that means a week of you in swimsuits I'm in," he smirked.

She chuckled, "I thought you'd like that aspect of it."

"I still haven't seen you in that new little number you mentioned before we were interrupted," Mike play pouted.

"I'll be sure to pack it," Abby wriggled her eyebrows.

"Are we talking Hawaii? Aruba?" he questioned.

"Puerto Rico?" she offered.

"We can do that," Mike nodded.

Abby locked eyes with him. She couldn't hold it in any longer. "I love you, Mike," Abby blurted out.

Mike gave her a soft half smile, "I know." He leaned in and kissed her fervently. They parted resting their foreheads together. "I love you too, Abby," Mike declared.

Piper knocked on Abby's hospital room door. "How is everyone?" she asked.

"I'm just banged up- I'll be fine," Mike replied.

"And you?" Piper asked Abby.

"Bruised lung," Abby adjusted her oxygen cannulas.

Piper grimaced, "Ouch."

"It could have gone much worse," Mike played with the ends of Abby's hair with his fingers.

"That's true," Abby replied.

"Can I speak to Mike for a minute?" Piper requested, "I promise I'll send him right back."

Abby locked eyes with her boyfriend. "We'll be right outside," Mike pointed to the large window. Abby nodded. He kissed Abby's forehead.

From what Piper had overheard before knocking, she already lost this one last hurrah. Mike stopped in front of the window so Abby could see what was going on. "What do you want talk about?"

"You left before I could give this back," Piper took a necklace chain off of her neck. As she brought it out of her shirt Mike saw a ring dangling from it. He closed his eyes. It wasn't just any ring, but the engagement ring he had given her. She held it out to him, "Here you go."

Mike gentled pushed it back to her. "It's yours," he shook his head.

"I can't keep it," Piper protested. Not like this. She wanted him to fight her on the ring, but for a different reason than he didn't want it.

"Have Grant sell it or something," Mike offered, "It would make a nice payment on a new house." Piper's brow furrowed. "Grant told me he's transferring to Seattle," he clarified.

"He mentioned the promotion," Piper admitted, "But…"

"Think of it as a belated wedding present," Mike smiled.

She deflated, "Mike." He looked over her shoulder. Grant was coming down the hall. He joined them. Mike tipped his head in greeting.

"How are you?" Grant asked.

"As long as I have Abby I'm great," Mike replied. An awkward silence settled on the trio. Mike rubbed the back of his neck. "Look, I don't know what's up between the two of you- it's really not my business, but if it has anything to do with my time at the house, I'm sorry," he said.

"I should have apologized to you," Grant acknowledged. Piper had, but he never had.

"I forgive both of you," Mike said without hesitation. Piper pressed her lips together. She swore she wasn't going to cry. "You two should talk," Mike excused himself.

"Thanks, Mike," Grant said.

"Be happy, Piper," Mike urged. He turned and went back into Abby's room. Abby sat forward and offered him a spot behind her, "Everything all right?" she asked.

Mike sat and took Abby into his arms, "Nothing to worry about." They watched Piper and Grant talking outside the window.

"You think they are going to work things out?" Abby inquired.

"I don't think I could have said this and meant it before meeting you, but I really hope so," Mike said. Abby cuddled down into his chest.

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