Chapter 27: Life flight
He moved his visor up as we gained altitude and his eyes stared into mine. So many emotions on his face; joy, love, anger, pain, hatred, lust. “This week has been hell, Rose. I don’t ever want to be apart from you again.”
“Thank you for saving us, for saving Charlotte.” I was squeezing his hand like my life depended on it. He was looking at my head and trying not to laugh. “What?”
“You haven’t seen a mirror yet, have you?” I shook my head no. “Probably best you don’t see. You’ve been shaved, you look like Sinead O’Connor with gauze around your head.”
“Lean over me,” I said. I looked at his visor, seeing my reflection in the darkened plexiglass. “Damn…”
“Sorry, baby, it will grow back. Here you are, wrapped in bandages, strapped in a gurney, yet all I can thing about is making love to you because you’re the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. I can’t wait until we get you to the Pack clinic, so we can share a bed again.”
“You’ll stay with me?”
“Of course. Mates help each other heal, and my cat doesn’t want you out of my sight. It’s been hell this last week.” He held my hand as the helicopter began to descend, landing on the pad next to the clinic. He didn’t let go as the door opened, as my gurney was pulled out, as I was wheeled into the clinic.
“Hi Rose, you’re in your old room,” Doc Terry said as he walked alongside us.
“At least I know where everything is,” I said. Between Gunny, Doc Terry, Wendy and Doc Julia, I was made comfortable. Gunny didn’t wait, he stripped off his flight gear and got in bed with me, tucking his big body to my side. “So, what is the prognosis, Doc?”
Doc Julia took my free hand. “You were healing at human rates in that hospital; as a human, you would be hospitalized for another two weeks, then have another month to recover. The cranial fracture would heal below the titanium mesh plate that was put in, and that would be it. I didn’t bring you here for that. You have a mate, you intend to be changed. I want you to use that to speed up your recovery.”
I looked at Gunny, he had that “please baby” face he used when he wanted me to do something for him. “Rose, we talked about this, but you needed to wait because of the investigation. That’s not an issue anymore with you being retired from the FBI. It’s just us now, and you know how much I want you to be turned, to fully mate with you.”
He buried his head above my breast, letting the tingles work. “How would this work with my recovery, “Doc?”
“We would want you to do a mate change, he would have to couple with you, biting you as you reach orgasm.” Gunny started to grin, she smacked his head. “The FIRST time, and gently. Her head can’t take a lot of motion and you need to keep her blood pressure down. I swear, MEN.” I snickered a little as Gunny’s hand moved south. I grabbed it and looked back at her. “Now, when the change starts working its way through, your body will start to heal itself rapidly. I’ll keep you sedated during this time, and when your skull has healed enough, I’ll remove the plate. You won’t even have a scar by the time you finish your first shift, you’ll be amazed at what it does. I know I was.”
I looked at her quizzically. “I was severely burned when the helicopter I had just existed was hit by an RPG. My face, hands, body, all horribly burned.” She showed me her hands, they were perfectly smooth. “The change has regenerative properties that are amazing.”
“Will my hair grow back?”
“I don’t think so, but you will be fine,” she said. “You’re recovered enough to start the change tonight, if you agree you’ll have your first shift in three days or so.”
“And you’ll be fully healed, and we can run and hunt together,” Gunny said. “Just tell me yes,” he said with his best puppy dog eyes, which was funny since he was a cat.
“Stay by my side through it, Gunny?”
“Of course, my love.” He moved up to kiss me gently, just as the door burst open.
“MOM!” I heard her crutches clanging across the floor as Gunny moved back so I could see her.
“Charlotte, baby!” I held my arms out as she got to the bedside, not caring that her crutches fell as she engulfed me in a hug. We were both crying, I just held her to my breast as Gunny’s strong arm encircled us both. I kissed her head, rocking her gently before she stood up again, balancing on her good left leg. Wendy had picked up her crutches and leaned them against the wall while I looked at her. She was in a T-shirt and shorts, her injured leg was in an immobilizer and her thigh was wrapped in a heavy bandage. “I’m all right, Mom, it’s just a flesh wound. I’ve had worse.”
“Oh God, Charlotte, I was so worried about you. My heart was broken when I woke up and you weren’t there.”
“Me too, Mom. They wouldn’t let me up at the house, wouldn’t tell me what was happening with you and when I could finally see you I was so scared. Don’t do that to me again! I begged Ella to let me stay with you but she wouldn’t hear of it.”
“Security at the hospital isn’t that good, Rose. We didn’t know who to trust, the safest place for her was here at the Gila Pack house so that’s where we brought her, moaning and arguing the whole way I hear.”
Charlotte smacked his arm. “What did you expect, Dad? Mom’s in a coma, they tell me you and Josh are dead? Mom was the only one left, they had to put me to sleep to get me out of there.” She bent down and hugged us both again. “I just about fainted when I got to the door of the ambulance and Josh was standing there to help me down. You too.”
“Are you all right, baby?” My tears were falling, I hated to see my little girl suffer.
“I’m going to be fine, Mom. They had to take the bolt out and clean everything, and it still hurts a lot.”
“She’s going to be fine in six weeks,” Doc Terry said. “It nicked her femoral artery, that’s why she lost so much blood. She has internal stitches, that is the reason for the immobilizer, but she will make a full recovery. The cuts from the glass were not serious, they were glued or stitched up. Now, I think it’s time we left you guys to rest. You can have visitors, Rose, but no getting worked up. If your heart rate starts getting out of hand I’ll kick them all out.”
“It’s all right,” I said, “Gunny and I are used to keeping the heart rate down in here.” I reached down and squeezed him, it was clear he had missed me. Doc Terry pushed some pain medication into my IV, then both doctors left the room.
Wendy pulled the chair up so Charlotte could sit by the bed. She winced a little as she sat down. “Your leg?”
“No, my butt,” she said. “Thirty stitches on the top of my left butt cheek. The blast turned the picture window into shrapnel. They pulled over a dozen pieces out of my body from my calf to my shoulder.”
“Yeah, well, you didn’t bounce off the brickwork of the outdoor kitchen,” I said. “Hey, where is Josh?”
“He’s in the computer center, Mom. He told me he’d stop by with lunch.”
The door opened, and a cart was wheeled in. “And I keep my word, Char.” The food smelled wonderful, I could almost taste the barbecue. “Doc said you could eat regular food again, Mom, but you need to take it easy. Take your time and let it settle,” he said.
I rolled my eyes, I was SO not used to him calling me Mom. It didn’t matter, they were more than engaged, they were mates and that was stronger than any human bond. Gunny sat up and adjusted pillows as the head of my bed was raised so I could sit and eat while Josh moved the bed table over. We ate quietly, I was enjoying the food and the feeling of having my family back. “Charlotte, why didn’t you get changed to help with your recovery?”
“It wasn’t bad enough and I was at a human hospital,” she said. “Alpha Craig said he would have allowed it to save my life, but not to get me off crutches.” Her shoulders slumped, I knew which option she had argued for.
When we were done, Josh picked up Charlotte and carried her back to her room so she could take her medication and rest. I looked at Gunny as they left. “He’s good for her,” I said.
“He’s a good kid, and he will do anything for her. He doesn’t look it, but he almost died. When I yelled bomb, he grabbed her and the other kids, pushing them out the front door. The two of us were the last ones out and we only made it a few steps before it blew. They pulled a half-dozen pieces of that bomb out of him, one barely missed his heart. With his X-rays and how bad he was at the scene, no one questioned that he died in the helicopter on the way here.”
“But… he looks fine!”
“He is now, but he was only released from here just before Charlotte arrived. Like me, it was a three-day recovery. We got them farther away and took the brunt of the blast, that’s why the kids were relatively unharmed.”
He rolled away from me so I could see his back. New scars, still a little red, were on the back of his left arm, his ribs just left of his spine, his right kidney, both his thighs. “Goddammit Gunny, can you quit getting hurt?”
“I’m fine now, Rose. Better me than one of the young ones. Like I said, no one doubted we had died. Too many witnesses saw how bad we were, but humans still don’t understand how much damage we can take, or how fast we heal.”
I let him roll back and mold himself to me after I lowered the bed, sitting up too long made me a little dizzy. I fell asleep quickly.
When I woke up, it was late afternoon. Gunny wasn’t with me, but Charlotte was back in the chair. “Char?”
“Something big is happening, Mom. Gunny had to leave, he and Josh are with the Alphas and Betas. They asked me to stay with you and let them know when you are awake.” I nodded as she made a quick phone call. “She’s awake, Josh.” She listened for a moment, then told him she loved him and hung up. “They are coming to talk to you in a few minutes.”
“Do you know what’s going on?”
“Not all of it. Josh and Gunny put a team together, they’ve been comparing raw data from the investigation to the data that the FBI team has. He said if they find what is missing, it will point them towards the killer.”
“And the mole,” I said. “You can’t delete data without a trace.”
“Josh will find it, he called in a lot of help. There’s a dozen of his hacker friends from other Packs working here now. I can’t understand much of what they say, but they are working hard. I swear these guys are fueled by snack foods and Mountain Dew.”
The door opened and Alpha Renee came in, followed by Alphas Robert, Ella, Craig then Gunny and Josh. The latter moved around them to take their spots next to us, Gunny sitting on the bed while Josh picked up Charlotte and sat her gently on his lap. I tried to read their faces, they were pissed off. Finally, Craig spoke. “Rose, we figured out who the mole is.”
“Agent Luis Hernandez,” I said before they could.
Their jaws dropped. “You knew,” Craig asked.
“I had my suspicions. He never wanted me here, and he resented me head of the investigation instead of him.”
Gunny looked at me. “Your instincts were spot on. We started doing background on him when we figured out he was one of three people who could have deleted the data from those traffic cameras. He has a sister, she was an Olympic biathlete when she was younger, before she got married to an Air Force pilot.”
Oh God… Biathlon was skiing and shooting.
Renee spoke up. “Her husband, Captain Jay Jennings, was a rescue helicopter pilot. He flew Pedro 155 out of Cheyenne. Near the end of the war, he commanded a rescue flight for a downed pilot by the name of Gary Johnson. My first mate.”
Oh God oh God…
“I was the commander of the patrol that captured the pilot, I was the one who gave the order for one of my injured men to dress in his uniform, I was the one who sent him up there with the satchel charge and told him to blow up the helicopter.” She looked at me, tears in her eyes. “She’s doing this because I killed her husband and found mine.”