A gasp went out in the room after hearing his words. Aaron looked at Mike, whose eyes were closed in a kind of silent prayer of thanksgiving and Sarah grabbed his arm. Joel let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding and Alex flopped back in his chair. It was over. They were thankful that Lorelai wouldn’t have to endure the thought of him still being a threat and they just all hoped that she didn’t feel responsible.
“Wow…” Steve said for all of them.
“Yeah, the usual will happen with the officer being on leave while they finish the case to make sure it was justified…” Aaron’s thoughts drifted off as Tim kept talking. Tim handed his card to Mike and Sarah and shook everyone’s hand, reminding him to contact him with anything. He would be in touch when Lorelai was awake and ready to make her statement.
They all sat back and just looked at each other, stunned by the news that had been relayed to them. It was shocking and nobody really knew what to say.
“Well, I will be the one to say what everything is thinking…” Mike started; he looked at his wife and saw the tears in her eyes and a look of relief on her face, “That son of a bitch got EXACTLY what he deserved!! I’m glad that she gave as good as she could!”
“I agree Mike. Lorelai is to be commended for fighting back! That young woman is a wonder!” Tomas agreed and raised his drink in a salute.
Aaron looked at both men and nodded, showing his agreement to their words. They started talking amongst themselves for several minutes when a nurse came in and had them follow her to the room. The group gathered up things and found their way through the halls and went up in one large staff elevator to the 7th floor and went to a room at the end of the Critical Care unit where she could be monitored until she was conscious again.
“I will warn you, she is pretty bruised…” The motherly lady warned.
“Thank you…” Sarah replied.
“Please don’t stay long. There are more of you than should technically be allowed, but Dr. Jameson asked us to make an exception for tonight so you all could see she was ok…”
“We really appreciate that, Thank you…” Aaron said.
She stopped and ushered them in and they all kind of stood there and stared at the bandaged and battered body of the now normally vibrant young woman.
Sarah started crying again and went to her side and pushed the hair back. Siobhan went behind the woman’s shoulder and placed her hands on them in a reassuring manner. Mimi went over and stood with them and talked quietly. Joel looked sadly at his husband and Aaron.
“I never thought I would see her this way again…”
“But you will NEVER again. I will make sure of that! Because I should have been there!!” Aaron vowed.
Alex put a hand on his husband’s shoulder and looked at Aaron, “I have no doubt in that my friend! I do know that if you had been there, you would have killed the son of a bitch with your bare hands! But, if you had been there Lorelai would feel guilty that you had to defend her and you would be the one on leave while they investigate. And that would eat her up and you know it. So just know this was the best way for this to go…”
Both men knew he was right in their heads; they just tried to reconcile it with their hearts. The nurse checked to make sure Lorelai’s vitals were still good and then she left, reminding everyone they only had a few minutes before they needed to break up into smaller groups. They watched her and talked softly for 20 minutes before the nurse stuck her head back in and tapped her watch. Mimi and Steve hugged everyone and took Aaron’s bag after he had changed and left. Siobhan and Tomas talked Sarah and Mike into getting something to eat in the cafeteria and they got up to leave, Alex forced Joel to follow. Mike turned and looked as Aaron walked over to the bed and sat in the chair that Sarah had just been in.
“Aaron, are you coming?” He asked gently.
He shook his head, “I’m not leaving her again.”
Understanding the need to be close to her, “Alright son. We will bring you something back…”
Aaron nodded and took her hand in his, feeling how cold it was. He kissed it and rubbed it between his hands, still not letting it go. He focused on making it warm and not losing one more second with her. He talked low to her, telling her how much he loved her and recounted some of his favorite memories of their time together and ended with him begging for her to wake up. He kissed her swollen and split lips carefully and went back to holding her hands and waiting.
He had no idea how long he sat there before the rest of their family came back. His mother gave him a sandwich and no nonsense look that he knew he needed to eat it. Aaron ate it, and then glanced at the clock, shocked that it was after eight. A knock on the door made them all a little tense and Tomas went to the door and opened it. His posture visibly relaxed when he moved back and Evelyn and Dave rushed in, hugging everyone.
Mike caught them up to speed on what happened and a look of relief washed over them both when Mike told them Max didn’t survive the shooting.
“So we never have to see him again? Lor never has to endure this again?” Evelyn asked tearfully.
“Never Honey, never again,” Sarah said, hugging her tightly to her chest.
They sat a few minutes together before Siobhan asked Tomas if he was ready to head home and he nodded and offered to take Sarah and Mike home if they were not staying.
“I would be grateful for a ride home. I think my daughter is in good hands with Aaron not leaving her side,” Mike said looking at his wife.
Something passed between them and she nodded and smiled sadly, “I agree. But Aaron you have to promise to get some sleep ok?”
“I promise I will,” He said and released Lorelai’s hand and hugged the caring woman before him, “Thank you for trusting me to be here with her.”
“She wouldn’t want it any other way,” she replied back and released him.
Everyone said goodbye to the woman lying in the bed and promised to be back in the morning. Aaron promised to text if anything changed with her condition. Alex promised to take care of the students and give them updates and Mike was relieved when Joel said he would call Dr. McCormack when he got home.
Everyone thought that would be a good idea, just so Lorelai could work through whatever she was feeling. Joel was really hoping that she didn’t regress on the progress she had made, especially with Aaron. He wasn’t the only one fearing she would slip back into the shell of herself she was before and becoming scared and timid and lost in her own mind.
Aaron settled back into the chair as the door closed and everyone had left. He repositioned himself as close to her side as he could and took her hand in his again, kissing it softly.
“I love you a ghrà, anytime you want to wake up and kiss me back is ok with me!” he said, squeezing her hand.
When he didn’t get a response, he sat back and kept her hand in his and closed his eyes, waiting for any little movement to alert him to her. He must have dozed off for a little while but was startled awake by a feeling. The clock read 12:05 and it was quiet in the hallway outside her room. He kissed her hand and stood up, stretching his legs a little and walking around. He went out to the bathroom and came back, sitting back down.
“Hey Baby, I was just thinking that we should go on vacation this winter, like during Christmas break. What do you think about Hawaii? I’ve always wanted to go there and I know you do too and maybe we can do some cliff jumping. Up for a little cliff jumping and a luau? I bet you would look great in a grass skirt and coconut bra!”
He hung his head down, rolling his neck when he felt something on his hand. His head shot up and looked at her. She was stirring and groaning a little like she was in pain. Aaron started talking to her, telling her how much he loved her and encouraging her to open her eyes. He reached over and pushed the call button to alert the nurse’s station that he needed someone.
He kept talking when a nurse came in and kept urging him on, pulling her to consciousness.
“…Lorelai, come on baby, open your eyes! Wake up honey!”
“Lorelai, you can do it, open your eyes.”
Suddenly Aaron heard music to his ears, “Aaron…”