~ Courageous Hearts ~
by T. Stratton






E-MAIL ME WITH COMMENTS AT Tinstrttn@aol.com

"If you hold on a sec, I'll be right back and then I can show you the way to my parents place," the small round nurse said to the tall doctor.

"No problem, I'm just happy that they might have a place I can rent until I find a place of my own," Sydney Kent replied as she followed the friendly nurse.

"I'm sure the little house they have in the back will suit you just fine." She stopped and opened the locker with the name Sammy Pines RN on it. "I do have to warn you though. My family is a bit on the weird side," Sandy said as she grabbed a gray flannel jacket.

Sydney brushed a stray of black hair out of her eyes. "They can't be that bad. You seem to be okay," she said with a smirk.

Sammy turned and gave the newest emergency room doctor a great big smile. "Thank you, but I do have my moments. Like at my wedding, I decided that it was way too hot to wear my dress so I took it off."

"I can understand doing that," Sydney replied as she continued to follow the nurse out of the hospital and into the hot afternoon sun.

Coming up to a small red truck, the nurse turned and started to laugh. "I was on the dance floor when the inspiration hit me."

"Well, I guess that could have been a problem," Sydney laughed along with Sammy.

"What problem? My entire family thought it was a great idea and they stripped down to their underwear too. The poor priest nearly had a heart attack when he saw my mother running around in her push up bra and silk panties." Sammy giggled as she jumped into the cab of the truck and opened the passenger door for the doctor.

"How come I have a feeling that my life is going to get really strange?" Sydney asked when she sat next to the curly hair woman. "Well, let's go meet the family."

"You have no clue as to what you are getting into, but your life is about to change. For the good I promise," Sammy replied when she started the truck. "Do you want to go and get your stuff from your hotel room?"

"Boy, you're really sure that I'm going to move in aren't you?" Sydney said with a raised eyebrow.

"Of course I'm sure," Sammy replied back. "I heard you talking to one of the other doctors yesterday. I called my Mom to make sure it was okay for you to come look at the place tonight."

"Okay then, let's go get my stuff because it looks like I'm moving," Sydney stated with a big grin on her face. She had a feeling that not only was life going to get much more interesting, but it also was going to be the start of something that would change her life.


"Come on, Dell, we can leave this paper work until tomorrow. I promised Sammy that I wouldn't be late for Mom and Dad's party!" Marcus yelled at his partner.

"Shit, that's tonight? I thought it was tomorrow!" Dell yelled back from inside the women's restroom.

"No, it's tonight and you're not going to get out of it. Mom called me this morning to make sure I bring your ass with me," he said as his partner of three years walked out tucking in her white t-shirt into black jeans.

"You know I love Kitty. Shit, she is like a mother to me, but I'm tired of her always trying to set me up with her friends daughters." She stopped and grabbed her phone messages from the police officer behind the front desk. "Thanks, Twiggy."

"No problem, Dell, anything for you my love muffin." Officer Twiggy winked and blew Dell a kiss.

"You better watch it. I might tell Skip that you've been offering me something that is supposed to be totally his." Dell threatened with a smirk.

Twiggy just got a little gleam in his eyes at the mention of his life partner Skip. "He is very protective of his assets isn't he?"

"So are you guys coming to the party tonight at the Captain's?" Marcus asked from behind Dell.

"You bet your sweat ass we are. Last time they threw a party it lasted for two days and I was so fucked up Skip had to carry me home," Twiggy replied with excitement.

"I remember that. I also remember Kitty invited every known lesbian to introduce me to," Dell stated as she read through her messages.

Marcus walked up and put his hand on Dell's shoulder. "She just hates to see one of her kids lonely. You should know that by know."

"I'm not lonely. I have my job and all of you in my life. What else does a girl need?" Dell asked her partner. She loved this guy like a brother. People thought it was funny because they were total opposites. Where she stood at 5'6" he stood 6' 3". Dell had short messy blonde hair and Marcus's was as black as coal. His eyes were a golden brown with laugh lines around them. Dell's eyes matched the brightest emeralds ever found.

"How about someone to share your life with? Someone to come home to at the end of the day?" Marcus quickly raised his hand. "I'm talking about the human kind not the four legged with fur kind."

"My life is too messed up right now to have a relationship." Dell said as she poured herself some coffee and took a drink. Her eyes nearly bugged out of her head when the putrid liquid hit her tongue. Dell spit out and tossed the cup in the garage can near the table. "Fuck, that was the most disgusting thing I have ever tasted. When was the last time anyone made a new pot?"

Marcus and Twiggy just shrugged their shoulders. "Who knows?" Twiggy replied.

"You could've warn me," Dell complained and continued to spit into the garbage can.

"And miss that look? Nope, no way would I miss that," Twiggy informed Dell with a laugh as he handed her a napkin to wipe her mouth.

"Pay backs are such a bitch, my friend," Dell threatened. "Come on, let's get going. I want to take a shower before we go to the McGregor's."

The two detectives walked out into the sunny afternoon and they both reached into their pockets for their sunglasses. "Damn, it's bright out," Marcus said as he went around to open the driver side door of the light brown undercover cop car. "You just want me to drop you off at your house or do you want me to wait?"

Dell got in the hot car and quickly checked to make sure that the air was on all the way. "Just drop me off. I'll drive up myself. That way I can leave if Kitty has too many friends she wants me to meet."

Marcus just laughed as he pulled onto the street. "I never would've met Sammy if Kitty wasn't so persistent." He adjusted the air floe of the air conditioner. "Now I can't thank her enough. Sammy is my whole life." He smiled thinking of his wife.

"Don't get too mushy, please," Dell said with a giggle. She knew how much Marcus loved his wife and in a way she was jealous. "I'm happy for you, my friend."

Marcus stopped at the red light and looked at his friend. He knew that she was lonely and could tell that she wished thing were different. He also knew that she was scared of giving her heart away "Thanks, I just wish you would find someone. "

"Please, no more talk of how lonely I am. I get the picture, but love hit me once and I never want to go through that again," Dell stated in a whisper. "Let's just leave all the mushy love stuff to you and Sammy. You two have enough for everybody."

Marcus saw the lost look in Dell's eyes. So he agreed to drop the subject for know. He pulled up to a small ranch style house. "I'll see you tonight. Don't be late. You know how Kitty hates that."

"Trust me, I know. I remember the last time I was, what half and hour late, and she made me do all the dishes." Dell laughed when she got out of the car. "I had dish pan hands for a week."

"God that was funny," Marcus laughed and started to pull away.

"Well, I better get my ass in gear. See you later." Dell waved and walked up to her house.

She saw that the paper boy had missed the front porch again. So she headed for the garage.

Dell grabbed the rusty old handle and lifted the gray old door up. She walked over to the corner and grabbed the ladder that rested against the side by the broken window.

"That little shit isn't getting a tip from me this week." Dell grumbled as she headed for the side of her house with the ladder over her shoulder.

She set the ladder so it would lay against the house and not fall when she climbed up it. As she climbed she noticed that the white paint that covered the house was chipping. "Great, like I don't have enough crap to do already."

When she finally got up on the roof and found today's paper, Dell stood and took in the view. It was like most neighborhoods. Kids ran from one yard to the next trying to catch each other. She watched as fathers and mothers pull up after working hard all-day and ready to put in more hours at home.

Dell took a deep breath and blew it out slowly. "I wish my life was that simple."

She stood there for a few minutes and continued to gaze across the horizon. Than she looked at her watch and noticed the time. "Shit, I better get my ass in gear." She quickly got down off the roof and went inside to get ready for the party.


Sydney walked around the little red brick house that she had agreed to rent. It wasn't much, one bedroom, one bathroom and regular sized kitchen. The selling point and absolutely the best part about the whole thing was when she walked out the back door it opened up into a big meadow.

She could imagine the smell after an afternoon rain. The spring flowers that would flourish and give the surrounding area the gorgeous color of life.

Sydney couldn't wait until she could lay on the soft green grass and stare up at the night sky. Just to be able to watch shooting stars and try to figure out if it's a bear or a dipper.

"This is just what I need to start over," Sydney murmured quietly to herself.

Sydney had lived in New York City and was tired of all the noise and the closeness of all the people. This would give her plenty of opportunity to get her life in order and find out what she felt was missing.

Sydney took a deep breath and the smell of nature filled up her senses. The birds chirped and dogs barked. Another sound invaded the tranquil moment and she turned around to see an older man with gray hair fighting with a big drum of some sort.

She walked over. "Do you need any help?"

"Grab the other end and help me put this thing over on the patio," the man ordered.

When the task was finished the man swiped the sweet from his big brown eyes. "Thanks for the help. I thought for sure I would have dropped the damn thing."

"It did look kind of awkward. Glad I could help. My name is Sydney Kent. I'm going to be your neighbor." Sydney replied and shook the man's hand.

"Where in the hell are my manners? I'm John McGregor and you met my wife earlier. She told me that Sammy brought someone new home," John said as he sat on a folding chair and took a deep breath.

"That would be me. It's going to be quite a different change from what I'm used to. But it's what I've been looking for," Sydney informed the older man with kind brown eyes.

"Good, I'm glad it will suit you." John stood up and shook her hand once more before he walked off. Before he got a few yards away he turned. "We're having a party tonight. You're more than welcome to come over," he said.

"I just might do that. Thank you," Sydney answered back with a smile.

"Good. See you later then." John turned and continued up to the house.

"I really think I'm going to like it here," Sydney said and whistled a happy tune all the way back to her new home.


Dell pulled her motorcycle into the already packed driveway. She carefully maneuvered it so it was parked between the garage door and the Captain's car. Dell glanced up when she heard her named being yelled at from the front door.

"Dell, you better hurry up and get in her or Mom is going to make you do dishes again!" Sammy yelled when she opened the front door to make her way down the steps to say hi to her husband's partner.

Dell placed her helmet on the seat and walked to give Sammy a hug. "Hey girl, how the hell have you been?"

"Pretty good considering being 7 months pregnant." Sammy responded by patting her round stomach.

"You look great even if you have a basketball for a belly," Dell teased as she rubbed and felt a kick. "I guess the little tyke didn't like my joke."

"He probably has is father's sense of humor. Oh well, as long as he has my looks I don't care," Sammy said with a straight face before they both started to laugh.

It was well known that Sammy had married the most eligible and best-looking cop on the force. Where Sammy was short with curly brown hair and Marcus stood over six-foot tall with thick black hair. They both had brown eyes. What set them apart from anybody else was the way they treated people. It could be a homeless person that hadn't had a bath in weeks or it could be the richest person in the world. They were all the same in their eyes.

Dell was very happy to call them her family. With a big smile she grabbed Sammy and they walked into the house. "Let's go find that crazy husband of yours."

As soon as they walked in Dell heard her name being called from the kitchen. "Please tell me that there isn't too many of your mother's friends' daughters here?" Dell asked Sammy.

"I think there might be one or two," Sammy grinned. She knew what it was like to be on the receiving end of her mother match making schemes. "You should give some of those girls a chance. They seem nice."

"You know how I feel about all that. I never want to go through having my heart ripped out again," Dell whispered with a growl.

"I know, Dell. You told me what happened and I don't blame you. But can you continue to live your life all alone? Life's not meant to be watched from the sidelines. You have to get back into it and live," Sammy stated as she watched the painful memories dance across Dell's face.

"My heart isn't mine to give. It will always belong to someone else. They might not have wanted it but she still got it." Dell let go of Sammy's hand and started for the back yard. She wanted to grab a beer and forget the past.

Sammy watched her go. She could feel the pain and suffering from every word Dell said.

Sammy remembered when Dell got drunk one night and told her how in a span of one week her life changed forever. The girl Dell loved left to take a better job in New York and a psycho killed her family before a family dinner.

Dell had been the one to find the bodies. She herself was injured when the killer came up behind her and stabbed her in the back. It took weeks of rehabilitation for Dell to be able to stand and then walk. The muscles of her back were torn to shreds and she came close to never walking again. The only signs now were the scars that ran down her back.

Sammy was brought back when she felt her Mom come up to her and asked a question. "Where is Dell at, honey? I thought I saw her standing here with you."

"She was, Mom. Can you do me a favor and cool it on the matchmaking tonight?" Sammy begged.

Kitty could see that something had happened. "Okay, but just for tonight."

"Thanks, Mom, I really appreciate it and I know Dell will too." Sammy smiled up at her mom. She noticed that the brown hair that she used to play with had gray sneaking in and wrinkles formed around laughing brown eyes. "When it's her time to find love she will. Even if it has to smack her in the head a few good times."

"You're right. Let's go and see our new doctor." Kitty grabbed Sammy. "Do you have any information? You know just the usual, tall, short, blonde, or red head, male or female."

"Come on, Mom, can't you give it a rest for one night? Plus I have to work with Sydney," Sammy replied with a pout.

"Since when did that ever stop me?" Kitty answered back as she dragged her daughter through the house.

"You're right, since when has that ever stopped you?" Sammy mumbled under her breath.

Kitty stopped and looked around until she saw the person she was looking for. "Oh, there she is. Lets go and see if she's having a good time."


Dell sat on a broken bench under the big pine tree in the back yard. She watched the party continue without her. She loved the McGregor family with all her heart. They reminded her so much of her family that at times if she closed her eyes it was as if her family wasn't ripped from her life.

It would only last for a few minutes though. Than the images would flood back in and set her straight. Images of her mom lying in a pool of her own blood by the front door, her dad sitting in his favorite chair with a knife sticking out of his chest, and the worse was her sister spread eagle on the dining room table naked and raped.

Then the pain of having her back ripped by the same knife that killed her mom and sister. The sound it made as it shredded skin and muscle. The smell of her own blood as it filled her senses as she collapsed with the sound of Adam Jackson's voice whispering in her ear, "I won, you lost."

Dell jumped ten feet in the air when she felt someone grab her hand, "Shit."

"Sorry, honey, I didn't mean to scare you. I called to you a couple of times," the gray hair lady said.

"It's all right, Grace. I was just sitting here thinking," Dell replied and moved over to let the woman sit. Being careful that she didn't get splinters from the broken boards.

Grace took the seat and handed Dell a new drink. "So did you meet all of the new prospects Kitty invited?" She asked with a knowing smile.

Dell laughed if it wasn't Kitty it was Grace McGregor trying to fix her up. "Do you guys sit around the kitchen table and think of new ways for me to meet people?"

Grace nodded her head up and down. "Of course we do. We have a hidden room in the basement to hide all the evidence."

Dell laughed at the woman that was the matriarch of the McGregor clan. She could just see Kitty and her bent over a table planning their next move to invade her love life.

Dell took a drink of her beer and noticed that the lights were on in the guesthouse. "They find another lost soul?" She asked and pointed the tip of her beer at the guesthouse.

"Yes, a doctor is what Kitty said. Just moved here from New York," Grace informed Dell.

"Maybe I should warn her that once you all get your grasp on her she'd never be able to leave," Dell joked.

Grace grabbed her chest. "I'm hurt. To think that you would give someone heads up on what we do here. I'll have to tell the rest of the family that you have to be reprogrammed."

"Okay, okay I won't say a word. Just keep me away from all those dishes. I don't think my delicate hands could handle the harshness off all that dish soap." Dell raised her hands up in defeat.

She looked into the caring face that reminded her of a typical Grandma. "Can I tell you something? You have to promise not to say anything to anyone else."

"Okay, I promise," Grace replied.

Dell took the last mouthful of her beer and stood up. She turned so she faced Grace. "I'm glad that you grasped on to me. I don't know where I'd be if you guys hadn't dragged me into your family."

Grace stood and hugged Dell with all the might she could get. "Believe me. It was all our pleasure." Grace stepped back and looked in Dell's watery eyes. "If you ever need someone to talk to I'm here."

Dell rubbed her eyes before tears fell. "I know, and thanks."

"Any time honey, any time," Grace replied. "Come on, let's go see what kind of trouble we can find."

"Right behind you,' Dell laughed.

Grace stopped and turned around. "You just want to look at my ass." She stated with a big grin.

"Oh yes, and what a wonderful ass it is," Dell said and gave the mentioned body part a pinch.

"You bet it is. It took me all of eighty-six years to get it to sag like this," she said as she ran her hands down her hips.

"I bet Jinx loves every ounce of that ass," Dell replied as they started back to the house.

"That old husband of mine wouldn't know my ass from my tits," Grace informed Dell.

"What's this about tits?" A voice came from ahead of them.

"Damn, that man can hear a whisper from twenty yards," Grace said as they walked up the steps to the deck.

"Hello, Dell. How's life been treating you?" Jinx asked before he kissed his wife.

"Pretty good. How about yourself?" asked Dell as she waited for her hug she got from him every time they saw each other.

Before Jinx gave Dell her hug he pinched Grace's ass. "See I do know the difference. And I'm fine." He grinned with a twinkle in his eyes.

"My ass has seen more action tonight than it has seen in awhile," Grace said as she rubbed her hind end. "Makes a woman feel all frisky."

"Oh, Jinx, you 're going to get you some," Dell informed Jinx with an elbow to the ribs.

"Hell, I got me some before the party." Jinx winked and gave Dell a devilish smile.

"You old dog you," Dell replied with her own wink. "I think I'm going to go get me something else to drink. You two be good now."

The older couple watched Dell make her way back into the house. "That girl has got a broken heart and there isn't anything we can do about it."

"I know, Jinx," Grace replied as she wiped a tear from her eye.


"Hello, Sydney, are you getting settled in okay?" Kitty asked as she stepped up to the tall doctor.

"Hello, you two and yes, I'm settled in just fine," Sydney answered. "Boy, you guys sure know how to throw a party." She stated as she gestured towards all the happy party goers.

"They've had lots of practice over the years," Sammy replied and took a drink of her orange juice.

"So," Kitty began. "What kind of social life does a doctor have?" She asked so she could get a picture in her mind of what kind of partner Sydney would like.

Sydney had to try real hard not to laugh. People had already told her about Kitty and her hobby.

"Well, to tell you the truth I haven't had one is a few years," Sydney answered truthfully.

"Really, that's kind of hard to believe. With your looks you could have anyone. Especially with those baby blues of yours," Sammy replied with a shake of her head.

"Looks are one thing, but working sixteen hour days, sometimes not even making it home, can kind of ruin a relationship. So I figured, why even get into something that I know will not have a chance to work?" Sydney informed the two women. "Sometimes love is something that you threw away because you're too stupid to see what you had," she finished in a soft voice.

"What do you mean, dear?" Kitty asked and guided Sydney to sit at the picnic table.

Sydney looked from woman to the other. She saw curiosity along with concern.

"Several years ago I left the only person who ever loved me She thought I was the most important person in the world," Sydney confessed as she wiped a tear from her eye.

"Didn't you love her?" Sammy asked and took Sydney's hand when she heard a sob come from the tall doctor.

"That's just it, I did, but in my mind I needed more. I thought that I need money and power not love to survive. So I just threw away the best thing I had in the world," Sydney continued. It was like the floodgates had opened and everything came rushing out. "I tried to call her. She either had her number changed or she moved. She'll never know how much I loved her and how right she was."

"Right about what?" Kitty asked. She could tell what this woman had given up on love. She couldn't imagine what life would be without John and the love they shared.

"She was right about me. She said that my life would be meaningless." Sydney just shook her head back and forth. "Boy, was she right. It might not of hit me at first but when it did, I got out of there."

"Is there anyway that you could find her now? I could ask Dad to see if he can help," Sammy asked and handed Sydney a napkin to wipe her face.

"No, she probably is living her life the way she always has. Loving it and loving someone who deserves it," Sydney assumed. She took a drink of her beer and went to stand. A hand on her shoulder stopped her progress. A glance told her the hands belong to John and he had a very sneaky look on his face.

"You guys have to come and see this. The two are at it again," John said before he turned back for the front of the house.

"I'm going to kill them!" Sammy yelled as she jumped up from her seat. She ran for the front yard as fast as a pregnant woman could.

Kitty looked over at Sydney. "You might want to come along. Last time they did this, both ended up in the hospital."

Sydney followed Kitty and was about to ask what was going on when she heard the sound of a motorcycle. Then she saw someone driving the motorcycle and attached to the back was a rope and attached to the rope was a person. Then she noticed that the person was being pulled on water skies across the pond that was in the front yard. "Oh my God. Are they trying to get themselves killed?"

"No just being dumb asses like usual," Kitty answered with a shrug of her shoulders. "It all started with a bet and every time since then, they try to out do the last time."

"Out do what? The broken bones?" Sydney replied as she and Kitty walked up to Sammy who had the look of murder in her eyes.

"No, not bones. They try to see who can jump the highest," Kitty responded with a gasp. She brought her hand up to cover her face.

Sydney stood still and was totally amazed when the person who was being pulled through the water hit what looked like a ramp of some sort, and flew up and over the people that stood and watched. Everyone clapped and shouted as the person landed without any trouble. "Well, I'll be. Those two are fucking nuts."

"You have no idea. When I get my hands on him this will be the last kid he ever has," Sammy growled and walked off to the man on the motorbike. "Marcus, get your ass of that thing."

Sydney didn't think she ever saw a man move so quickly. The look of terror on his face showed who wore the pants in the family. "You go, Sammy."

"Sydney, if you will excuse me I have to go and do some yelling of my own. Believe me, if you think Marcus is getting it bad just wait until I give it to Dell. She'll never know what hit her." Kitty stormed off. She didn't notice the surprised look Sydney got when she said Dell's name.

Sydney was shocked. She never thought that she would hear that name again. She moved even before her mind knew that her feet were moving. She carefully pushed her way through people as she tried to get a glimpse of the person who she hadn't seen in years.

Sydney saw Kitty pacing and yelling. "How many times do I have to tell you not to do that? Wasn't the broken arm you got the last time enough?" She yelled when she grabbed Dell's shoulders. People swore they saw steam coming out of her ears.

"The only reason I broke my arm last time was because that stupid turtle got in my way and threw off my balance." Dell tried to reason with the upset woman. "I made sure nothing got in my way this time. Plus Marcus bet me that I couldn't jump twenty feet. Now how could I pass an easy bet like that up?"

"Dell Marshall, you ever try to do that again, I'll make you wish you could fly," Kitty responded with a slap on the blonde's shoulder. "I truly wish you would stop doing things that could get you hurt."

Dell lowered her head. She didn't realize her actions caused anyone to worry. "Sorry."

"Oh honey, we love you and just want you to be happy. It's time to let go of the past and work for the future. Not try and get yourself killed doing stupid stunts." Kitty's heart broke from the anguished look on Dell's face.

Kitty saw Sydney walk up behind her. "Okay that's enough for tonight. This is supposed to be a party. Now I have someone I would like you to meet."

"Oh, Kitty, not now. Please," begged Dell. "I really don't want to?" She was interrupted by a voice she thought she'd never hear again.

"Hi, Dell," Sydney mouth said before her mind could stop her. She watched as Dell turned around. The stunned look reflected her own.

Sydney noticed that the long blonde hair she loved to run her hands through was cut to just above the shirt collar. The once vibrant green eyes were dull and lifeless. She wondered what could have happened to make them that way. Dell's body she observed was in prime physical form. With nice tan muscular arm and under the gray T-shirt hid the well-developed abs.

Sydney wasn't sure what she expected Dell to do, but just walking off wasn't one of them. "I'm sorry," she yelled to the retreating back. "Please forgive me," she said only in a whisper.

"What the hell is going on? Do you two know each other?" Kitty asked. She had never seen Dell react this way towards anyone.

"You could say that," Sydney replied as she watched Dell get on her motorcycle and drive off.

"How?" Kitty requested in a determined tone. Dell was part of her family and this woman before her had caused Dell to be in pain and she wanted answers.

"The woman I told you about," Sydney answered and looked right into Kitty's' eyes. "It was Dell."

"Oh shit, no wonder she acted the way she did." Kitty stepped closer to Sydney and wrapped her in a hug.

"Why are you hugging me?" Sydney asked as she tried to hold back the sobs that threatened to erupt. "I caused Dell so much pain."

Kitty shifted so she could see Sydney's face. "You're in pain too. From what you said earlier, you're trying to get your life back on the right track? Give her some time. She'll come around."

"I hope you're right, because now that I know where she lives I plan on making it up to her," Sydney replied with determination. Then she got quiet and looked down at her feet. "Is she seeing anyone?"

Kitty almost jumped for joy. Even though it's going to take some work. She may have found a match for Dell. "No, she isn't seeing anybody at all."

"Thanks, I'll see you later," Sydney replied and walked to her house.

"Goodnight. Everything will work out. Just give it some time," Kitty yelled at the Sydney's back.

"Give what time?" Sammy asked when she walked up to stand next to her Mom. "Hey, where did Dell go?"

Kitty smiled at her daughter. "Sammy girl, we have got our work cut out for us."

"What are you talking about? What did I miss?" Sammy asked getting all excited.

"Let's go get Grace and sit down for a pow wow." She guided Sammy off to the house in search of the older McGregor woman. They had some planning to get to party or no party, true love came first.


The wind made the tears race across Dell's face. Her mind spun out of control. She had to pull over before she got herself or somebody else killed.

"WHY?" Dell yelled to the sky. She began to pace along the side of the road. Cars honked when they drove by, but none of this registered in Dell's mind. The only thing that did was the woman back at the McGregor's house. "Why now? How did she know I was here? Did she come looking for me? Maybe she came to find me to rub it in that her life is better since she left me."

"I don't believe that for a second," John said to Dell and held open his arms. "Come here."

John had seen Dell take off on her motorcycle. Wondering what was going on he found Kitty and asked her. When she told him the details of the events that took place he knew that Dell would need some one. So he jumped into his car and followed her.

Dell didn't think twice. She flew into John's arm and held on as if her life depended on it. "Why, John? Why now?"

"Maybe it's time for you to forgive yourself. Stop blaming yourself for the past and start living for the future," John replied to his adopted daughter.

"I still don't get it," Dell mumbled into John chest. "Why?"

John took a deep breath. "Who knows? Life is a strange thing. Perhaps you two weren't meant to be together until certain things happened in your lives. Maybe now you'll get what you have secretly wished for."

"And what would that be?" Dell asked curiously.

"Love," John stated simply.


The party had been over two weeks ago yet she felt like it just happened. She could still see the shock green eyes glare at her. She found it hard to believe that they once held so much love and now they held hate and disgust.

Sydney threw herself into her work. She worked at every opportunity and would often just stay and sleep in her small office just so she wouldn't have to go home and fight the memory.

Sammy and her were becoming pretty good friends. Sydney would have dinner over at her house when Marcus had to work late and Sammy could talk her into leaving the hospital. They never approached the Dell subject. She didn't know if that was good or bad. She wanted, no she needed, to talk to someone. Sammy interrupted her thoughts as she shoved some gloves in her face.

"Hey, doc, we got a gunshot victim coming in," Sammy informed Sydney. "They'll be here in five."

""Okay, do we know what the injuries are?" Sydney asked as she put on the gloves.

"We know it's a shot to the chest. Lots of blood loss and they lost the heartbeat twice now," Sammy relayed what information she had. "Plus it was gang related. Let's just hope nothing happens like the last time."

Sydney looked up from what she was doing. "What do you mean?" She asked as she tied the protective mask to her face.

"Last time we had a gang shooting they decided to bring it to the hospital. Several of us got hurt." She pointed to the nurse next to her. "Show her your scar, Betty."

Betty rolled up her pant leg to show Sydney her guns shot wound. "It hurt like hell. Let me tell you."

"It looks like it. Can't they have more security down here?" Sydney asked shocked at what she was being told.

"Shit, we had a number of police officers here and they couldn't stop it," Sammy replied in disgust. "Marcus had to have ten stitches put into his eyebrow and Dell got her nose broken. She looked like a fucking raccoon for over a week." Sammy and Betty both laughed as they remembered what Dell looked like.

Before Sydney replied the patient was rolled in. "Okay, tell me what you got?" Sydney asked the paramedic.


Marcus sat in the undercover car drinking a cup of coffee. He watched as Dell talked to a couple of guys. They had been trying for months now to catch a clue on George Hyde. He was wanted for drug trafficking and extortion on the local businesses. But the recent killing of an innocent family at the wrong place at the wrong time speed up the urgency to find this guy.

He watched Dell walk back to the car. She had a slight smile on her face. Their eyes connected and she gave him the thumbs up.

"They said that he's in that small motel down by the river," Dell informed Marcus even before he could ask. "We need to get a hold of the Captain and get some back up."

"Okay, let's head back to the station. It's not too late, the Captain might still be there," Marcus replied back and tossed the rest of his coffee out the window.

"I have a good feeling that we're just a couple of hours from catching this asshole," Dell replied with a devilish grin.


Sydney walked up behind Sammy as she talked on the phone. She heard Sammy reply to the person on the other end with her own endearment. "I love you too. Watch your back and Dell's. Pick me up after your done. Bye."

Sammy hung up the phone and whispered a little prayer, "Please God, watch over them."

"Anything I can do to help?" Sydney asked.

Sammy jumped a little. "You startled me."

"Sorry, I just heard you praying. Thought I could help if there's a problem." Sydney felt a sense of panic grab her heart.

Sammy laid a hand on Sydney's arm. "Not unless you can keep my husband and Dell from harms way," Sammy replied with a slight grin. "They're going on a take down or bust or whatever they call those things." Sammy waved her hands around. "They think they finally found that guy that killed that family a couple of weeks ago." She could see the emotions run across Sydney's face.

"That must be pretty dangerous?" Sydney asked. The thought that Dell was willingly putting herself into danger played havoc with her senses.

"It can be. Especially with a guy like the one they're after. He doesn't care who he hurts. He shot that family just for the joy of it," Sammy stated with disgust.

"Okay, I just took care of my last patient. How about I buy you a cup of coffee or juice in your case?" Sydney asked and patted the round tummy. She really didn't want Sammy to sit around by herself. If she was honest with herself it was more for her than Sammy. She didn't want to go home and worry all by herself.

Sammy watched Sydney hand her files over to the nurse sitting behind the desk. "Sure, that's the best offer I had all day," she replied with a big smile.

"Good, let's go." She grasped Sammy by the elbow and guided her towards the elevator. " Maybe we can talk them out of some dessert they had for dinner."

Sammy wasn't fooled for a minute. She could see the worry lines form around Sydney's blue eyes. "Maybe."


"The night manager said he's in room 17. That's on the top right hand corner of the building," Marcus explained. "I want three officers in the back and one on each side. Stay out of sight unless you see him trying to leave. The rest will follow Dell and I in the front door. Remember he's probably armed and should be considered very dangerous." He saw that everybody was ready and gave the signal to take their places.

Dell watched the team of officers run into the dark alley to get to the back of the building. Each and everyone knew that this was a big take down. Most of the people here were at the scene of the family killing. They had all wanted to get this guy really bad.

"You ready partner?" Dell heard Marcus ask.

She turned with a glare in her eyes. "I was born ready. Let's get this asshole."

Marcus waved the rest of the officers to get into position. They followed Dell as she carefully started up the stairs. Dell took a quick look into the window. She shook her head to let them know that she couldn't see in. Which was both a good and a bad thing. They wouldn't be seen, but they couldn't see the suspect either.

Marcus and Dell each stood on either side of the blue door that held a rusted number 17 on the top. They looked at each other to make sure they were ready. When they both nodded, Dell banged on the door.

"Open up! It's the police!" She yelled and moved out of the way as two police officers came at the door with a battering ram. It shattered the door in one hit.

Everyone rushed the door. They expected some sort of resistant but nothing happened. The room was filled with empty whiskey bottles and cigarette butts. The smell alone told them that he'd been hiding out here for some time.

"He's not here," Dell said as she walked out of the bathroom. "Check around to see if there's a clue to where he might have gone, then let's get out of here and post a car out front. He'll probably be back."

"Okay, guys, start looking," Marcus ordered. He walked over to Dell and put a hand on her shoulder. "What dumb luck that guy has."

"No shit, but it'll run out soon." Dell took a deep breath. "Damn, it stinks in here. How can anybody live like this?"

"I have no clue," Marcus replied. "Come on, let's go talk to the manager and see if Mr. Hyde has had any late night visits from anyone."

"Let's go." Dell led Marcus out of the room. She scanned the parking lot. When she saw a man walking across the street from the liquor store. He stopped and twisted the cap off a bottle hidden in a brown paper bag. "There he is," Dell said before she took off down the stairs.

Marcus grabbed his radio. "Suspect has been spotted. He's walking across Warren."


"So how was it?" Sydney asked Sammy as she watched her take the last bite.

Sammy closed her eyes and moaned in pleasure, "Mmmmmmm, it was great."

"I can tell," Sydney replied with a slight smirk. "Too bad you couldn't share."

Sammy shrugged her shoulders. "It's not my fault I got the last one."

Sydney gave her an evil look. "If someone wouldn't have pushed me into that old lady I would've had it."
"Excuses, excuses," Sammy replied as she licked the plate.

"Paybacks are a bitch," informed Sydney as she got up for more coffee. She bent down to whisper in Sammy's ear. "When you least expect it. I'll be waiting." She walked off laughing.

"Oh, you're scaring me." Sammy shook to add to the effect. "You sound like Dell. All talk and no show."

"Trust me," Sydney replied as she put another cup of juice in front of her. "I'm all show."


"Would you stop running?" Dell yelled at the figure in front of her.

George Hyde had seen Dell run towards him when he took a drink of his whiskey. He dropped the bottle and everything else he had in his hands and took off running. He thought that for sure he could get away from the small blonde because he had longer legs, but she was proving him wrong.

She had chased him down to the street and over to the riverbank. The smell of dead fish filled his senses. When he heard Dell shout from behind him. He screamed back, "Fuck you, bitch!" He kept on moving across the muddy bank.

"Okay, shithead, you want to do this the hard way, that's fine by me," Dell yelled and stopped running. She aimed at the dirt by his feet and took one shot. "The next one goes in your ass."

Hyde didn't really want to stop, but the fact that his foot got stuck in the very wet mud had that effect. He landed stomach first with his face only inches from the smelly concoction. "God damn it. I'm going to get you for this." He pounded is fisted on the ground next to his head.

"Oh come on, rich people pay big bucks to lounge around in stuff like this," Dell teased as she walked up from behind. Carefully she snapped her gun back into its holster under her arm and reached out to get the man under control.

"Let go of me, or I'll make you regret ever coming after me!." Hyde yelled when he felt Dells' hands on his back. He saw out of the corner of his eye a branch from a tree. It was about as long as his arm and as thick as one of his whiskey bottles.

"Ohh, shut it and listen. You have the right to remain silent. Everything you say can and will be used against you in a court of? SHIT!!" Dell screamed when Hyde flipped her and dived for the thick branch. "Damn it, you are so going to pay for my dry cleaning bill!" she yelled from the ground.

"I don't think so." Hyde took a stance and with as much power as he could muster swung.

Dell saw it coming but she couldn't move fast enough because of the mud she was stuck in. The last sound she heard before all went black was a gunshot.


"Sammy!" yelled a nurse who ran into the cafeteria. "You have to come to the emergency room."

"Why? What happened?" Sammy asked as she got up from her chair.

The younger nurse walked up and grasped her arms. "We just got a call."

Before she could say more Sammy started to cry. "Oh my God, Marcus." She turned around and grasped onto Sydney. She felt her world come to an end. "Please God, not my Marcus." Sammy laid her head on Sydney's shoulder and started to cry.

Sydney just stood there and rubbed her hand across Sammy's back. She felt so sorry for her friend and the little baby that grew inside of the distraught woman. She carefully sat Sammy down on the chair next to her.

"Shit, Sammy, I'm sorry," the nurse cursed and rushed over to her side. "Marcus is fine. At least he sounded okay when he called."

"Oh, thank God," Sammy said in relief and crossed herself. Then she stood up and gave the other nurse a curious look. "Why do I need to come up then?"

"All I know is that shots were fired during that bust tonight. How many and who was shot I don't know. Marcus just called and asked for you to be there," the nurse informed Sammy. "I should be getting back. The place is already crawling with reporters wanting the scoop." With that said she turned and jogged back to the E. R.

"Nothing like having your heart ripped out and put back in all in the same moment," Sammy breathed a sigh of relief. Tears started to fall down her cheeks. The emotional few minutes reeked havoc on her emotions.

"Hey, why the tears? She said Marcus was fine," Sammy asked. She knew what was going on mentally with her friend. The hormones and emotional stress were about to break the dam. All she could do was hold on to her friend until things got back to normal.

After about ten minutes the sobs stopped and Sydney's shirt had a big wet mark on it.

"Are you feeling better?" Sydney asked as she reached over to the napkin holder. She handed a couple to Sammy and watched her as she sat up and wiped her face.

Sammy blew her nose. "Thanks, I don't know what came over me."

"I do. Your eight months pregnant and your hormones are running rampant. Plus in less than two seconds, you think your husband is dead and then brought back," Sydney replied and brushed a strand of hair behind Sammy's ear.

Sammy looked up with her blood shot eyes and smiled. "Thanks for letting me use your shoulder as my crying post."

"Any time, my friend, any time," Sydney smiled back. "Now let's get upstairs and see what is going on."


"Is she going to be okay?" Marcus asked as he watched the paramedic work on Dell.

He ran up right when George Hyde swung the tree branch at Dell's head. He fired a shot and hit Hyde right behind the ear, but it didn't stop the impact of the branch. The way the branch snapped in two showed the force of contact.

Marcus sat there and watched the blood from his hand mix with the mud on hers. "Don't you die on me," he remembered trying to stop the flow with his hand as tears ran down his face. The ghostly white complexion of Dell's face compared to the red blood and the black mud would haunt his dreams for years to come.

The beeping of the ambulance had made Marcus look up. "What's going on?"

"We're at the hospital. Go out the side door while we get her out," replied the paramedic as he got Dell read to leave the ambulance.


"Looks like the ambulance is here." Sydney noticed from the chair she sat on.

"Yes, and that looks like Marcus stepping out of the side door. My God, he's a mess," Sammy gasped at the state her husband was in. "Come on, let's find out what's going on."

They walked out the door and came up to Marcus. "Hey, baby, what did you do? Join a mud wrestling troop or something?" Sammy teased. Then her face fell when she noticed along with mud there was blood all over Marcus's hands. "Honey, what's going on?" She started to look around. "Where's Dell?"

"In there." Marcus pointed to the emergency truck. "She's been hurt pretty bad. The asshole sucker punched her with a tree branch."

"Where was she hit?" Sydney asked as she felt her heart jump into her throat.

Marcus looked at his filthy hands. The mud and blood were tormenting him. With tears in his eyes he replied, "She was hit in the head."

Before he could elaborate anymore the door swung open and they started to get Dell out. The image of the stark white bandage with the dark stain in the middle of it was the first thing that Sydney saw. Immediately she went into doctor mode.

"Tell me what you got." Sydney ordered as she separated herself from her feelings. She read the information the medic handed her as she followed them into the hospital.

Marcus and Sammy watched them take Dell in. Sammy felt Marcus start to shiver. She guided him to a bench that was next to the doors. "Honey, talk to me," Sammy begged.

Marcus turned to his wife. His hand went to her round belly. Slowly he rubbed his hand over it and felt the baby kick inside. When a smaller hand held his he looked up. He saw the pleading statement asked again from the emotional brown eyes.

"I killed him," Marcus confessed. The hand gripped his harder. "I was coming up to where they were. I saw him flip her and go for the branch. He swung before I could get a shoot off." He stood up and started to pace. "If only I could have been there a few second before, Dell would be okay. If only I was just a bit faster, if only I had my gun ready," Marcus continued out of guilt.

Sammy grabbed her husband's hand and forced him to sit. She put her hands on both of his cheek so he couldn't turn away. "Now you listen to me. What happened tonight isn't anyone fault, but the guy that you were after. He's the one who decided to break the law. He's the one who killed that innocent family. All you two were doing was bringing him in to face his crimes." Sammy wiped the tears from his cheeks.

She bent closer and gave him a small kiss. "Stop blaming yourself. Dell could be worse off if you hadn't come along when you did. She owes her life to you and I know you well enough to know that you'll play this to the hilt," Sammy laughed as she tried to lighten the moment.

Marcus sat there and thought for a second. Then he started to laugh too. "You're right. If the roles were reversed, she'd hold it over my head." He bent down and gave is wife a kiss in return for the one she gave him and one for a thank you for setting him straight. "You're the best."

"I know, now lets go and find out what's going on," Sammy replied and escorted her husband through the emergency entrance.


Within a couple of hours the waiting room was filled with off duty cops. They all loved Dell and they would do anything for her, because they knew that she would do the same for them.

They all turned when Sammy came out. She gave them all a small smile. "She's going to be okay. They're just worried about swelling. Plus she hasn't woken up yet," she informed the room. "Why don't you all go on home and if there's anything anyone can do we'll call."

Sammy walked through the crowd that moved slowly out of the hospital. She patted some on the back for reassurance and hugged a few that she knew worked with Dell on a few cases.

She walked over to where Marcus and Kitty sat. "Where's Dad?" she asked when she sat down next to her husband.

"He should be here anytime now. He wanted to check stuff out at the scene," Kitty replied to her daughter. "Why don't you go and lie down? I'm sure we won't know anything for awhile," Kitty said to her daughter.

"No, I'm all right. Sydney should be back down in awhile," Sammy replied back as she rested her head on Marcus's shoulder. "How you doing, big guy?" She asked Marcus.

Marcus took a deep breath. "I'll be okay once Dell's awake and giving me hell." He felt Kitty's arm go around him and squeeze his shoulders. He glanced at the concerned older brown eyes and gave her a small smile.

"She does keep us on our toes doesn't she?" Kitty asked. "Ever since she came into our lives things sure have been exciting."

They all agreed with a shake of their heads. An hour pasted before Sydney walked through the doors and stopped in front of them. "She still hasn't woken up. All her test turned out normal except for a small amount of swelling," she said as she sat next to Sammy. "They put fifteen staples in her head,"

"Do you have any idea when she'll wake up?" Kitty asked and grabbed Marcus's hand.

"We hope by morning she'll wake," Sydney informed them. She gazed up at them. She wanted to know what happened to Dell's back. But she knew that it wasn't relevant to Dell's care. So she didn't want to step out of bounds.

Kitty saw the questioning look. "What is it?" She asked.

Sydney took a deep breath and asked, "What happened to her back?"

Everyone knew what she was talking about. They weren't sure if they should divulge this until they talked to Dell.

"She was hurt a couple of years ago by a serial killer she was after," John replied as he walked up behind everybody. "Do you remember the name Adam Jackson?" he asked Sydney.

She sat there and thought for a second. Her head started to nod. "Yes, that's the case she was working on when I left," Sydney replied in a sad tone. "Can you tell me more?"

John sat next to her. "This isn't a very pleasant story. Are you sure you want to here it?" he asked just to make sure she knew what she was getting into.

"Please?" Sydney begged.

"Adam Jackson found out that Dell had dinner at her parents' house every Sunday," John began. "Before Dell arrived he entered the house first by killing her mother as she opened the door for him. Then he walked in and killed her father as he read the paper."

"Oh my God. I can't believe it. Mr. and Mrs. Masters were the nicest people I've ever meet," Sydney replied with a sob.

"He saved the worse for her sister. He brutally beat and raped her on the table in the dining room. She died when he strangled her with her own shirt." John felt Sydney's shoulders start to shake. He brought her head down to rest on his shoulder and continued. "Dell walked in and found her mom and dad dead and when she found her sister he came up from behind her and stabbed her."

"When did all this happen?" Sydney asked between sobs. When John didn't answer right away she looked up and asked again. "When?"

John knew this was not going to be easy for Sydney to take so he glanced over at his wife and sent a silent plea for help. When she was in place he answered, "The Sunday after you left."

It took a split second for the information she just heard to reach her mind. "Oh, my. No, no, no?" Sydney repeated and grabbed her head. She shook it back and forth thinking that it couldn't be true. "What happened to her back?" she asked in a whisper.

"If the knife was a half an inch closer to her spine she would be paralyzed. Instead he cut some muscles and nicked her liver. They had to take out part of her liver and keep her immobilized for several months," Kitty answered from behind as she rubbed Sydney's shoulders. "Plus months worth of physical therapy before she could start work again."

"I can't believe it. She was all alone going through hell and I was living me life like I'd lost nothing," Sydney said angrily. She couldn't help but think that she could have done something to help. If maybe she went with her to dinner like she usually did, maybe she could have prevented Jackson from sneaking up and causing Dell so much pain?

As if she knew what Sydney was thinking Sammy grabbed her hand. "The only thing we all can do is be there for her when she needs us, and right now she does. So why don't you go on up and make sure they're taking care of her? Because as soon as she wakes up all hell is going to break lose." Sammy smiled and squeezed the larger hand she held. "She really, and I mean really, hates hospitals."

"Your right, I'll call you at home if there's a change." Sydney gave them all hugs and promised again that she'd call. She stood there and watched them all leave before she took a deep breath and walked to find what room they put Dell in.


"Shit, it's dark," Dell said to herself.

"Open your eye and it won't be that dark," replied a voice.

Dell didn't comply. "Who said that?" she asked in a whisper.

"You know damn well who this is. So open up," demanded the voice.

Dell knew for sure whom it belonged to. It had been four years since she last heard it. Tears ran down her face when she opened her eyes. There stood in a silvery glowing dress was her mom. "How... I don't understand? Am I dead?" She finally asked as her brain still ran in different directions.

"No, you're not dead. I'm just here to let you know that it's time to get over the past and start looking at a future," Shelly Marshall informed the small blonde as she helped her stand up.

"Oh God, Mom I've missed you," Dell said as she hugged her Mom.

"We've missed you too," Shelly replied and brushed her hands on Dell's back. "Listen now. I don't have a lot of time, so I must make this quick."

Dell stepped back but still held on to her mom's hands. "What are you talking about?" she asked confused as hell.

"I know you feel like what happened was your fault. It wasn't. It was Adam Jackson who killed us," Shelly stated as she wiped Dell's tears away. "It's time to let love in again." She smiled.

Dell stepped back and shook her head. "No... no way. I gave my heart to someone and they trashed it like it didn't matter."

"Maybe it wasn't the right time," Shelly replied in a calm voice. "Maybe it's the right time now." She put her hands on either side of her Dell's face. "Do you remember what I always used to say to you?"

"About what, mom?" Dell asked as she felt the love her mom had for her pulsate through their linked hands. "You said so many things."

"If you let something go and it doesn't come back it wasn't meant to be. If you set it free and it comes back, love it forever," Shelly replied as she drew her daughter in for one last hug. She could feel herself getting weaker by the moment. When she stepped back she looked right into Dell's misty green eyes. "Sometimes it doesn't come right back, it might take it awhile to find its way."

Dell noticed that her mom was fading. "Please don't go," she begged as more tears started to flow.

"I love you and we'll be watching over you," Dell's mom said before she faded away.

"I love you too," Dell replied as she hugged herself and cried.


Sydney walked into the dull white room that Dell was in. The sight of the smaller woman made her heart jump into her throat. She tried to hold back the tears, but it was a battle lost when cloudy green eyes locked with hers.

"Hi, how are you feeling?" Sydney asked when she tried to hide the tears behind the clipboard with Dell stats on it.

"Besides having Xena's war cry shouting in my head? I'm great," Dell replied when she tried to sit up. Which wasn't a good idea because the room started to spin.

Sydney heard the small gasp and quickly got a garbage can for her. She patiently waited until Dell was done and took the garbage can into the bathroom. She walked out with a wet towel so Dell could wipe her face.

"Thanks," Dell said and wiped her face. She glanced from the wall to the bathroom where Sydney walked back into so she could clean the garbage can. Dell noticed that Sydney had kept in top physical shape, by the muscles that bunched together when she leaned over to scrub the can. When Sydney had to bend over to grab the towel she dropped Dell received a great view of a firm butt, "damn, I always loved her ass," Dell whispered to herself.

"Did you say something?" Sydney asked from inside the bathroom.

Dell coughed. She'd forgotten Sydney's exceptionally good hearing. "Nothing important. Just thinking out loud."

"Oh, okay," Sydney replied as she tried not to sound like she was smiling. "Got to love good hearing," she whispered.

When she was done, she walked back into the room and sat in the chair next to Dell's bed.

After about five minutes of the constant beeping of the heart monitor Dell wanted to throw it out the window. "Can you do something about that?"

"What?" asked Sydney.

"That damn machine. It's driving me nuts and it's not helping my headache," Dell replied and rubbed her temple.

"Sure, no problem," Sydney said and got up and hit the off button. Then she reached down to grab Dell's hand.

"I've missed you," Dell said very quietly and rubbed her thumb across the back of Sydney's hand.

"I missed you too and I'm so sorry I left the way I did," Sydney replied as she enjoyed the sensation that ran up her arm and straight to her heart.

"I've been told so many times in the past couple of weeks that you have to leave the past behind. So why don't we do that and start fresh." Dell smiled and continued to caress Sydney's hand.

"That sound like a perfect idea." Sydney smiled back.


The next morning Marcus and Sammy found Dell sound asleep with Sydney right next to her in the chair in a very uncomfortable position. They also noticed the two hands that held on tightly even in sleep.

Marcus walked over to Sydney and gently shook her shoulder. "Good morning," he said when tired blue eyes opened.

"Sure, if you say so," Dell replied from the bed.

Sydney sat up and stretched. Everyone heard her spine pop back into place. "Mmmm... that felt good."

"That sounded like it hurt," Sammy winced as she walked over to give Dell a hug. "How are you doing?"

"Well, if someone hadn't woken me up every hour I would be a lot better," she teased Sydney.

"Hey, you're not the only one suffering from sleep deprivation," Sydney huffed and stretched again and felt a few more vertebras pop back in place. "And no it doesn't hurt. It feels great." She smiled at Sammy.

Dell looked over at her partner. She could see signs that he needed to talk and he wasn't about to say anything in front of Sammy and Sydney. "Would you two mind if I talk to Marcus alone for a second?"

"Sure, we'll go get some breakfast and bring it back," Sammy replied and started for the door. "What does everybody want?" she asked when she turned around to wait for Sydney.

Dell squeezed Sydney's hand before she had to let go. Sydney gave her a small smile and squeezed back.

"Anything will be good," replied Dell as she grabbed the controller for the bed. She pushed the button and sat up. "Can you tell me what all happened yesterday? I remember having Hyde down but after that it's all a big blur."

Marcus came up to the bed and sat down. He looked right into Dell's eyes. "I ran up just in time to see that asshole hit you with a branch. I drew my gun before I could think and shot him," he replied as tears began falling down his cheeks. "I wish I could've been there a few seconds earlier and stopped him from hurting you." The guilt evident in his tone.

"Don't do that to yourself. What happened, happened. Nothing you can do about it now. So let it go," Dell stated as she hugged her partner. "So is he?" She knew the answer by the look he gave her.

"Yes, he's dead," Marcus replied with a nod of his head.

"I'm sorry," Dell said not needed to say any more.

Marcus understood and smiled. "So am I partner, so am I."


"I promise," Dell said with a big smile. She knew she had them right were she wanted them.

The doctor looked from Dell to his clipboard. "I mean it. I just want you to stay in bed and do nothing."

"And I promised that's what I'll do. I'll go home and crawl into bed and watch TV," Dell replied. She wanted out and she would do and say anything to get home. Even if she had to promise to stay in bed and do absolutely nothing. "Please, Dr. Hammer," she begged.

"Okay, but I want someone to stay with you for the first night" he stated and started to write in the clipboard.

"I don't need anyone to stay and baby-sit me," Dell mumbled and crossed her arms across her chest. "I've taken care of myself for many years. I don't need anyone to watch over me."

"If you want out, you'll call someone to spend the night, or you'll stay right where you are," the doctor replied and gave her a look that said he wasn't going to back down.

Dell sat there and tried to stare him down, but she knew that he wouldn't budge. "Fine," she pouted. "I'll find someone to stay with me."

"Stay with you where?" Sydney asked when she walked in the room. "Hi, Dr. Hammer. How's our patient today?"

"Stubborn as always. She wants to leave, but I told her that she needs someone to stay with her," Dr. Hammer told Sydney. Over the past couple of days he had seen the glances they gave each other when the other wasn't looking. Plus he had a long talk with Kitty and Sammy this morning. "You know anyone who can put up with her for a night?"

"Well, I could do it. I have the next three days off," Sydney informed the older doctor. She could have sworn she saw a twinkle in the older gray eyes.

"Now that you two have planned my night can I get out of here?" Dell asked sarcastically. She was both scared and thrilled that Sydney would be with her. She knew that she stilled loved the tall brunette with the piercing blue eyes. She just wasn't sure if she could put her heart on the line again.

"Sure, now that I know that you're in good hands, I'll get the paper work started." Dr. Hammer replied with a smirk and walked out of the room.

"It's okay with you? Right?" Sydney suddenly felt like she might have over stepped her boundaries.

"Sure, as long as you don't mind sleeping on the couch?" Dell replied as she got up from the bed and got her clothes Sammy had brought her the other day when she came to visit. "I'll make sure Buster stays in my room," Dell said and dropped her hospital gown revealing a pair of boxers with Scooby Doo on them.

Sydney's eyes almost jumped into her heart when Dell dropped the flimsy hospital gown. When she saw what was on them she started to laugh. "Nice underwear."

Dell shook her behind at her and she laughed harder.

A few minutes later the two were at the nurse's desk. Dell signed all the paperwork she needed to leave. The doctor gave her specific instructions to make sure she didn't strain herself and to come back in a couple of weeks to get the staples out.

"Come on, let's blow this pop stand," Dell said. Very excited that she was getting out.

"First things first. Sit," Sydney said and pointed to the wheelchair.

"Nope, don't need that," Dell replied and tried to walk away.

"Either get in or stay here. You make the choice," Sydney replied with a smile.

"Fine, let's go," Dell said in a gruff voice as she flopped into the wheelchair.

"I knew you'd see it my way," Sydney replied when she pushed Dell towards the elevators.


"The number is by the phone. Just tell Lisa that it's for me and to put it on my tab!" Dell yelled from her bedroom.

"Okay, no problem!" Sydney yelled back.

They had decided that some pizza and soda would make a good dinner. Sydney made the call while Dell was in the bedroom changing into some jogging pants and shirt. When she came out Sydney had to laugh at what she had on.

"What?" Dell stopped in the hallway and looked down at what she had on. The purple pants that had Xena down the side and the shirt with Gabrielle in her Amazon princess outfit.

"Let me guess. You like to watch Xena?" Sydney asked with a laugh.

Dell walked over to the closet and opened it. She reached in and took out her robe. "I don't know what gave you that idea," she replied with a smile as she put on her purple bathrobe with Xena embroidered on the front.

The sight of this made Sydney laugh even harder. "You look so cute." She stopped laughing when she realized what she said. Sydney looked over at Dell who was standing there with a smirk on her face.

"Don't I know it," Dell replied and walked into the living room and sat down on the couch. She turned on the television and started to flip through the station until she found something she liked. "Gotta love Sponge Bob."

Sydney stood up and breathed a sigh of relief. She headed towards the living room and sat on the chair on the other side of the room. "They said it'd be about half an hour."

"Cool, I'm starved," Dell replied back not even taking her eyes off of the TV.

Sydney sat there and looked around. She wanted to see if she could get a feeling of what Dell was like now. The pictures on the wall were of Dell and her family. The smiling faces of people she had thought of as family. Now they were gone except for these pictures and what she remembered. Tears fell down her cheeks and she tried to wipe them away before Dell saw them.

"They never knew that you left," Dell said from next to her.

Sydney didn't even know Dell had come to stand next to her. "How did you know that I knew?" she asked as more tears ran down her face. "Why didn't they know?"

Dell knelt down by the chair and took Sydney's hand in hers. "Sammy told me and I didn't now how to tell them," Dell replied quietly. "Plus I always hoped you'd come back."

Sydney turned until she faced Dell. "It might have taken me a lot longer than you thought, but I'm back and I don't plan on going anywhere," she replied as she slowly bends forward to brush her lips lightly across Dell's.

"Good because I don't think I could live through that again," Dell replied when the kiss broke apart. "I never stopped loving you," she said in a whisper.

"You always had my heart and this time I promise to take better care of yours," Sydney responded as she ran a finger across Dell's lips. "Forever and always."

Lips meet and hands caressed. A tongue asked for entrance and was gladly excepted. Moans filled the quiet room when a sensitive spot was touched.

The past was forgotten and the future was just beginning. Nothing could ruin this special moment. Except a hard knock on the door.

Dell growled when she heard a knock on at the door. "Must be the pizza."

"Probably," Sydney replied from Dell's neck. "Want me to get it?"

"No... they'll leave it on the steps," Dell said that as she enjoyed the attention her neck was getting.

The knock was heard again but the two didn't pay any attention to it. Both involved in the sensations that ran through their bodies.

Dell was about to guide Sydney down onto the floor when she heard Sammy yell from the other side of the door. "Dell if you don't open this door right now, I'm going to get mom."

"Shit," Dell gasped and laid her forehead on Sydney's chest. "I have to get that."

"Yep, you better," Sydney replied and kissed the head under her chin. "We will continue this later."

"Oh, you bet your sweat ass we will," Dell agreed and quickly got up when Sammy pounded on the door again.

"Hold your horses, I'm coming!" Dell yelled back as she fixed her robe.

"No not yet, but give me a little longer and you could be," Sydney teased from the chair just as Dell opened the door.

Dell quick reply stopped on her lips when she was flattened by a big black dog and was licked all over her face.

"Buster, my man. I've missed you. Did Aunt Sammy treat you right?" Dell asked from under the over excited dog.

Sydney got up from the chair and watched Dell and Buster. She glanced at Sammy and Marcus who laughed at the antics before them. When they noticed Sydney they stepped in and greeted her.

"Hi, why did it take so long for you guys to answer?" Marcus asked as he tripped over a foot that had accidentally kicked him. "Hey watch it would you."

"Sorry," Dell replied when she tried to dodge the kisses from her pet. "I haven't been away from him for this long before."

"Don't I know it. He's been pouting and moping around our house," Sammy laughed. "As soon as he noticed where we were going he near tipped over the car with excitement."

"Well, if you drove something bigger than a bread box? Shit, I even have trouble getting in that car," Dell laughed and got up off the floor. She walked over to where Sydney stood and introduced Buster.

"So this is who I have to fight with in order to sleep on the couch?" Sydney asked and scratched Buster's head.

Dell whispered so only Sydney could hear her. "Nope you get to fight with me on who gets to be on top first."

Not one to be embarrassed or to let a good opportunity to go by Sydney turned to face Dell. She grabbed her face and brought Dell's lips to hers. The kiss left no doubt of who was going to be in control.

Sydney stopped and turned to see Marcus and Sammy with smirks on their faces. "And to answer you question from earlier, that's why the door wasn't answered right away." She finished her show with one last kiss and walked into the kitchen. "Anyone want something to drink?"


"Hello... Hello?" asked a tired blonde. When a click was heard she hung up the phone. She felt a hand rub her back. "Some people need to get a life," Dell replied with a yawn. She lay back down and guides Sydney to lay her head on her shoulder.

"Who was it?" Sydney asked with a yawn and got comfortable.

Dell snuggled closer and stroked her hand over Sydney's arm that lay on her stomach. "Don't have a clue." Dell could feel the goose bumps form on Sydney's arm.

"How's the headache?" Sydney asked. She enjoyed the way Dell's finger ran over her arm.

"I feel a whole lot better," Dell said and bent closer to Sydney's ear to nibble on it. "I never got to have dessert."

"What would you like?" Sydney asked and shifted so that she was facing Dell.

"I don't know. Do you have any ideas?" Dell teased and ran her hands up under Sydney's shirt. She could feel the muscles tremble when her hands caressed the skin.

Sydney smiled down at the blonde. "I can think of a few things I would like to taste," she replied and brought her lips to connect with the ones below her.

Dell moaned when the kiss ended. She lay there with a smile on her face. "I've really missed this. The connection we have when we kiss." She slowly opened her eyes and stared at smoldering blue. "I haven't been with anyone since you."

Sydney laid her head on Dell's chest. She took a deep breath. "I wish I could say the same." She raised her head. "They were mostly one night stands. A couple lasted longer, but they didn't match up with what I had with you. So I broke it off," Sydney confessed. "You were what I have always wanted and I was a fool to leave."

Dell hugged Sydney closer to her. "If you had stayed you, could have been hurt or worse killed when we went over to my parents' house. So in a way I'm glad you left." Dell tried to fight the tears. "I would gladly go through it again if it meant that you would not be hurt."

Sydney looked up and stared straight into Dell's watery green eyes. "I wish I could have taken that pain away from you." Sydney kissed Dell's moist lips. "I love you and I will always be here for you. My soul can't survive with out you any longer." She kissed her again making her intention known.

When the kiss broke apart Dell was a mass of quivering Jell-O. She took a deep breath. "Damn, you sure know how to kiss a girl." Dell smiled and opened her eyes and met Sydney's equally aroused stare. "I love you too." She traced Sydney's eyebrow with her finger. "With you by my side I think I will finally heal from not only the physical wounds but the emotional ones as well."

"I will be by your side no matter what the future brings," Sydney replied as she closed her eyes to enjoy the feeling of Dell's caress.

"Will you do something for me?" Dell asked in a husky voice.

"Anything," Sydney whispered.

"Make love to me," Dell replied and brought Sydney's lips down to meet hers. "It's been way to long."

"It will be my pleasure to make love to you," Sydney replied and kissed Dell with all the love she had stored up over the years.

Sydney slowly kissed her way down to Dell's neck and over to her ear. She whispered what she was going to do to her and all Dell could do was moan with anticipation.

Sydney slowly guided her hands up under Dell's shirt. She felt the tremble of muscles as her hands caressed smooth skin. She raised the shirt up over Dell's head and tossed it across the room. The sight before her made her take a deep breath.

"What?" Dell asked breathlessly.

Sydney stared at the body below her. She couldn't remember it being this beautiful. "You're the most amazing person I've ever seen. I can't wait to devour ever last inch of you."

Slowly Sydney cupped the two perfect breasts and watched them respond by offering her the pink nipples. She lowered her mouth and ran her tongue across them before sucking on each one.

Dell couldn't believe that her body could feel this good. It's been so long since anyone had touched her and made her respond the way she was to Sydney. "You have no idea what you're doing to me," she moaned.

With a little bite she looked up. "You have no idea what you're doing to me. The way you moan and tremble makes me want to explode right here, right now."

"Oh God!" Dell cried out when a knee made contact with her throbbing center.

Sydney kissed her way up to Dell's neck and her hand slowly made it's way down to the boxers she wore. She pressed her finger under the elastic waistband to meet coarse curly hair. With ease she slipped a finger into the wetness. Slowly she rubbed her finger over the swollen nub. The small body below her jumped at the contact.

"You're so wet," Sydney whispered. "It's been too long and I want to taste you."

"Please," Dell begged as she was lost in the sensation of the magical fingers.

Sydney guided the boxers down the blonde's hips. They ended up somewhere next to the shirt. Sydney tortured Dell when she slowly kissed and nipped her way down. When she finally got her first taste of the sweet wetness she thought she'd pass out. "My God, you taste even better than I remember."

Dell whimpered her response. The burning feeling took over her senses. It started in the middle of her stomach and was forced out through every nerve. Flashes of lights went off behind closed eyelids. Muscles tighten and fingers clamped into dark hair. A scream of Sydney's name was yelled out. Then all went black.

Sydney felt the body below her go limp. She looked up from her position and noticed that Dell had passed out. "I've never had that happen before." She smiled and gave herself a mental slap on the back. Slowly she crawled up and kissed the slightly parted lips. "Rest now, because you're going to need your strength for later." Then she curled up next to the warm body and fell into a light sleep.


Dell opened her eyes. She looked around and tried to find out why she had woken up. The smell of sausage and eggs filled her senses. "Damn, I'm hungry and something smells good."

She grabbed her robe. Before she put it all the way on she noticed little bit marks on her right breast. "What the hell?" Then a smile ran across her face. "That wasn't a dream." She touched the marks and frowned. She tried to remember all that had happened and she couldn't. The last thing she did remember was Sydney between her legs.

"I guess I'll have to ask her what happened," Dell said as she walked down the hall to the kitchen. She stopped at the door and watched as Sydney read the paper. "Good morning," Dell said as she went for the coffee pot she saw on the table.

Sydney looked up from the article she was reading. She smiled at the way Dell's hair stuck up all over the place. "Good morning to you. How'd you sleep?" She asked with a smirk.

Dell saw the little smirk and wondered what that was all about. She took a sip and moaned with pleasure. "You could always make the best coffee."

"Thanks. Breakfast should be done in a few more minutes," Sydney replied and got up to turn the sausage.

"Great. Can I ask you a question?" Dell asked as she watched Sydney walk to the refrigerator.

"Sure, you can ask me anything," Sydney replied from inside the refrigerator.

"We made love last night, right?" Dell asked. A little embarrassed to even have to ask.

Sydney slowly turned from her spot and gazed back at Dell. "If you have to ask, it must not have been that memorable," she replied and tried not to laugh at the expression on Dell's face.

"No, I remember some things. Just not all of it," Dell replied sheepishly.

"Really? What do you remember?" Sydney asked as she smiled seductively. She knew that she'd get it for teasing Dell but she just loved the look on her face. "Tell me every single detail."

Dell grinned. She knew Sydney was playing with her. "You want me to tell you that the feeling of your long fingers in my pussy made me so wet? The way your tongue flicked my nipples and when you'd bite them I wanted to scream?" She got up from her chair and stalked over to the tall brunette.

"Really? Anything else?" Sydney asked before she captured soft moist lips.

"MMMmm.., when you kissed your way down my body trembled like an earthquake. Then you licked my clit it sent me over the edge. It was so powerful that I?" Dell leaned back from the warm body and looked up into Sydney's mischievous eyes. She shook her head not believing what conclusion she just came to. "No way."

Sydney nodded her head up and down. "You were out like a light with a big smile on your face," she replied with a smug laugh.

Dell lowered her head to rest on Sydney's chest. "Oh God, how embarrassing," she mumbled.

Sydney hugged the small woman and kissed top of her head. "Not from my point of view. I've never had anyone pass out from my attentions before. So I'm pretty proud of myself."

"Paybacks are a real bitch you know," Dell replied as she ran her hands up the back of Sydney's shirt.

Shivers ran up Sydney's spine when Dell sucked on her pulse point on her neck. "I can't wait," she moaned.

They both jumped when the phone rang next to them. Sydney rested her head on Dell's shoulder and took a deep breath. "That sucks."

"It sure does," Dell replied and reached for the phone. "This had better be good," she answered.

Sydney felt the smaller woman's body tense. She rubbed her hands up and down Dell's arms to get her to relax.

"I'll be right there," Dell replied to the person on the other end of the phone and hung up. "I have to go."

"What's going on?" Sydney asked concerned at how Dell's reacted to the call.

"Adam Jackson escaped from prison three days ago," Dell responded as she trembled. Tears ran down her face as visions of blood and gore filled her mind? the memory of her mother's lifeless body lying in her own blood next to the front door. Her father sitting in his chair with a knife sticking out from his chest and the surprised look on his face. Then her sister lying on the table cut and bruised and spread eagle for everyone to see.

Sydney held on for dear life as Dell cried. "Shh?I've got you," she whispered. Her mind spun out of control. She couldn't imagine what Dell was going through, but she knew that she wouldn't go through it alone. "We'll face this together."

Dell shook her head. "No. I don't want you to be anywhere near me. Especially with that nut out again." She stepped out of the embrace and headed for her bedroom.

Sydney stood there for a second before she followed. She walked into the bedroom as Dell was putting on her pants. "If you think for one minute that I'm going to just walk away from this you're nuts."

"The last time this guy came after the people I love. What's to say that he won't do the same?" Dell replied. "I won't risk your life or anyone else."

Sydney watched as Dell went to the closet and picked out a shirt. She walked over and wrapped her arms around Dell and held on as the upset blonde fought the embrace. She calmly whispered in her ear, "I won't risk your life. I love you and I'll be damned if you're going to shut me out."

Dell stopped and hung her head. "I don't want anyone else to die because of me."

"Nobody died because of you," Sydney tried to reassure. "That son of a bitch is the one to blame."

"You don't see, if I hadn't been trying to catch him he wouldn't have killed my family," Dell explained as she broke free. "It's all because of me." Dell sat on the edge of the bed and cried.

Sydney knelt in front of Dell and grabbed her hands. "Look at me." When green eye didn't look up she gently placed a palm on Dell's wet cheek. "Please, look at me."

Green eye finally lifted and looked right into watery blue. "How can you love someone who has done what I have?"

"Oh sweetheart, you did absolutely nothing. All you did was try to bring peace to those families who had lost loved one because of that guy. Your family was and still would be so proud of you." Sydney raised up and placed a soft kiss on Dell's lips. "I know that they don't hold anything against you. Let the guilt go. Place it where it should be." She met the soft lips one more time before she pulled back. "I love you."

Dell slowly opened her eyes and stared into soft blue. "I love you too."

"Will you let me stay?" Sydney begged.

Dell leaned forward and placed a soft kiss on Sydney's forehead. "I don't think I would survive if you didn't."

Sydney sighed with relief. "Good, now lets go and see what the hell is going on," she said and jumped up to find some clothes.


"Please let me go," begged the woman lying on the front seat next to the driver..

The driver of the car just ignored her. He played with a lock of her blonde hair. He twisted it around his finger until the girl whimpered. Then he let go and started on another strand. He glanced down at the tied up woman and started to laugh.

"Do you have any idea the kind of part you're playing in my little game?" Jackson asked the terrified woman.

"Please, sir, I won't tell anyone what happened. Just let me go," pleaded the woman. "I have a family and kids." She started to cry.

Jackson continued to ignore his passenger. "The last time I played this game I got cocky and lost, but not this time. Nope, no way I can lose this time. I thought she was down for the count the last time I played, but she had more spunk than I thought." He fished around in his pocket and grabbed a cigarette. He lit it as he continued to tell his tale.

"See, after I came up behind her and stabbed her in the back. Which by the way should've killed her or at least paralyzed her. But does it? NOOOOOO!" he yelled and slammed his fist onto the steering wheel. "While the damn bitch is lying in her own blood, she grabs her gun and shoots me. Can you believe it? So close to actually winning and then to be stopped by a bullet in the stomach," he asked totally oblivious to the frightened woman next to him.

He turned at the next light. It brought him into a residential area. He pulled over when he noticed a car still in the driveway. He sat there and waited. He knew that his opponent would soon find out that he was free.

An hour later he watched as Dell and Sydney got into the car and drove off. He smiled. "Let the games begin and this time you will lose."


Dell and Sydney walked into the police station and headed straight for the captain's office. Dell knocked lightly and opened the door. "Any news yet?" She asked as she sat in one of the ugly brown chairs.

Captain McGregor looked up when the knock came and knew it was Dell. What surprised him was Sydney walked in behind her. "Hello, ladies, and no I don't have any news yet."

"Do we have any idea where he'll go?" Dell asked and motioned for Sydney to take the other seat.

"Yes, we have a pretty good idea where he's headed," the Captain answered. "He's on his way here."

"What?" Dell jumped up. "How do we know for sure?" She began to pace in front of the desk.

"Apparently he's had someone keeping tabs on you. He had your pictures all over his cell," McGregor stated. "Some if not most of them had red circles drawn around your face with an X in the middle."

Dell stopped pacing and slumped back into the chair. She sat there running her palms across her thighs. The muscles in her neck stood out as she ground her teeth together.

Sydney scooted her chair closer. "Dell, do you have any idea what might be his first move?"

Dell looked at Sydney and shook her head. "He wants to finish the game." She turned and looked up at her friend and Captain. "He'll come after me."

"You're right, the game is going to continue where he left off," he stated. "But the problem is when will he make his move?"

"I think he'll do it as soon as possible," Dell replied before she stood. "We need to have my house watched. It's the most reasonable place. It was my parents' house that the madness stopped. So it must begin again in a related place."

"I'll get right on it," Captain McGregor replied and picked up the phone. He talked for a few seconds and hung up. "Done, now you two need to get some of Dell's things and come stay at my house."

"I can't, Captain," Dell replied and shook her head.

"Ohh, yes you will. We are having the best security system installed as we speak," replied the Captain. "So you get your ass home and pack," he ordered.

Dell knew from his tone that no amount of arguing was going to change his mind. "Okay, and thanks." She tried to fight the tears but it was a losing battle.

John came out from behind his desk and hugged the small blonde that had become his daughter of the heart. "Trust us to help keep you safe. We all love you," he whispered in her ear.

"I do and I love you too," Dell replied and pulled away. She looked up into caring brown eyes. "Thank you."

"No need to thank me. Kitty would kill me if I let anything happen to you," he teased. "Who would we find to do all the dishes when we have a party?"

"Ha ha, you're so funny. Come on Sydney lets get going," Dell replied as she tried to act like she had her feelings hurt, but the small smile gave her away.

"A police car will follow you home and then to my house," he informed the two as they walked out the door. "Please God watch over them," he whispered his prayer. "They're going to need it."


"I hate dogs!" Jackson screamed from inside his car. "It won't stop me from leaving my calling card though," He said as he caressed the silent woman next to him.

He got out and walked to the passenger side door. Before he picked up the woman he gazed around to make sure that no one was around. "Can't have anymore of my plans ruined today. I'll just leave you out back." He started to laugh. "Nothing like having a nice privacy fence. I'll have to remind myself to thank her for that." He picked up his captive and quickly made his way to the side of the house where a gate to the back yard was.

"Let the games begin," he said to himself before he closed the gate.


Sydney stopped at the red light. She looked in the review mirror to make sure the police car was still behind her. Then she glanced to her right and watched Dell. She detected emotions from anger to sadness flash on Dell's face.

She did the only thing she could do. Sydney reached over and grabbed Dell's left hand and held on.

Dell felt the squeeze and looked over. "Why couldn't he just leave me alone?" she whispered in a pain filled voice. "Why does he keep coming after me?"

"He's a sick person who gets his pleasure out of hurting others. I just know that he won't be able to get close to you and hurt you again," Sydney replied with confidence. "Because I will kill him first."

Dell knew that Sydney was telling her the truth. She also knew that she couldn't let Sydney get into the middle of this. She had to protect Sydney from the mad man because last time he came after her family and she knew deep down inside her that he would do the same.

"Please don't do anything that you'll regret. Taking a life is not that easy," Dell stated with tears running down her face. "I couldn't stand the thought of you living a life with regret about taking another person's life. Even if the asshole deserves it."

They both jumped when the police car behind them honked the horn. Sydney stepped on the accelerator, but quickly pulled over into a grocery store's parking lot. She put the car in park and turned to face the blonde. "The only thing I would regret is if I sat by and did nothing while you were put in danger. If I get the chance to protect you from harm I will do it without a second thought."

Dell felt the emotion of what Sydney said go straight to her heart. The hole that was there for so many years after Sydney left was filled.

She reached up and caressed Sydney's cheek. A smile formed when she watched the blue eye close and a soft moan was heard. "Do you have any idea how much I love you?"

Sydney opened misty blue eyes. Tears ran down onto Dell fingers. "I can't believe what a fool I was for letting this go. I promise that from this day forward you will be my life and my love. My heart always belonged to you and it will always beat for you. I love you more with every breath I take." Sydney closed the distance between them and kissed the stunned woman.

"So to answer your question, yes, I know how much you love me, because I love you that much if not more," Sydney replied to the question before she brought her lips down for another kiss.

A knock on the window brought the kiss to an end. Dell rolled her window down to see what he wanted. "Yes?"

"Just wanted to make sure everything was all right," the officer explained. "I see that all is well so I'll just go back to my car." The two watched in amusement as the officer practically tripped over his own two feet.

"I guess he saw more than he thought he was going to?" Dell laughed. She noticed where they were. "Would you mind pulling up closer to the store? I need to get some things," Dell asked and pointed at the grocery store's front doors.

"Sure, no problem," Sydney said and started the car back up and drove to a closer parking spot. When she found a spot she liked she pulled in and turned off the engine. When she opened her door Dell stopped her from getting out. "What?"

"You stay in the car. I want to get something for a surprise," Dell replied shyly.

Sydney sat back and closed her door. "Okay, just don't take to long."

Dell gave her a quick kiss and got out of the car. "Okay, I'll hurry."

Sydney watched the small blonde walk to the double doors. She stared at the butt in the tight jeans. Sydney knew by the extra swing of the hip that Dell knew she was being watched. Before Dell entered the store she turned around. Knowing green met desired filled blue for a split second. With a wink she turned and started her shopping.

Sydney laid her head back and took a deep breath. "Damn, that woman can get me started with just one look."


With bloodstains all over his clothes, Adam Jackson waited in his car. His thoughts went back to the woman in the back yard. The power he had over the struggling woman. The feel of the knife as it cut through skin and the smell of fresh blood as it seeped to the ground. The final breath the woman took before she died drove him over the edge into oblivion.

"When I finally win, I'll have to do this more often," Jackson laughed to himself.

A few minutes later he watched Dell and Sydney exit the car. He also noticed the police car pull in behind them. He sat and watched as Dell walked to the police car and talked to the officers before heading into the house.

"Here we go, here we go," he repeated over and over again.


"I'll go and get my bags ready and then get you some stuffed packed," Sydney said when she stepped into the house. "Why don't you go and see what has got your dog all in an uproar?" she said and continued to walk down the hallway to the bedroom.

"Okay, don't forget to pack me a couple pairs of boxers and my robe," Dell yelled after Sydney. "Okay, Buster boy, come here and calm down." She walked into the kitchen to see her dog barking and jumping around.

What shocked the most were the deep scratches all along the door surface and the rug that usually lay there was torn to shreds. "What the hell? Buster, you're in so much trouble!" Dell yelled at the dog.

Buster didn't seem to care that his owner yelled at him. He kept on jumping up to look out the window. When he realized that he wasn't getting the effect he wanted he ran over and bit down on Dell's pant leg and dragged her over to the window.

"What the hell are you doing?" Dell asked and tried to pull her leg away from the strange acting animal. "Do you know that I'm going to take the money out of your treat allowance to fix that door?"

When Buster started to whimper and beg Dell knew something was wrong. Her dog only did that when someone was in trouble or she had a treat for him and was teasing him to long. "What's the matter, boy?" She scratched his big head. When he put his paw on the door she finally got the hint that something was wrong in the yard.

Slowly she stood up and moved the light blue curtain from the window. Her stomach flipped when she saw the body. "He was here," Dell whispered. Then she realized that he might still be around. "Sydney!" She yelled and took off toward the bedroom, but not before she grabbed her gun from the front closet.

Sydney jumped ten feet when she heard Dell yell. "Don't worry I won't forget your boxers or that robe of yours," she yelled back.

Dell ran into the room and grabbed her by the arm. "I want you to stay close to me."

"Why? What's going on?" Sydney asked as she walked behind Dell to the front door. Then she noticed the gun. "Dell, why do you have your gun out?"

Dell stopped and looked up into scared blue eyes. "Jackson, he was here. He left me something in the back yard."

"What?" Sydney asked as shiver ran down her spine.

Dell didn't answer right away. She fought down the emotion that someone had died, again, because of that sicko son-of-a-bitch. "He left a body back there. I don't know if he's still around. That's why I want you to go tell one of the police officers to come in here. Then I want you to get into the car and go to Kitty and John's."

"You think that I'm going to run off and leave you here to deal with this by yourself?" Sydney asked angrily.

"Please, Sydney. I need to know that you're someplace safe," Dell begged and drew her into a hug. "I don't want him anywhere near you."

"Listen to me. He won't get near me because you won't let him." Sydney kissed the blonde head and squeezed Dell into a tighter hug. "I'll go get the officer, but I'm not leaving."

She felt Dell's head nod in agreement. "I'll be right back."

Dell watched Sydney walk to the police car. Then the hairs on the back of her neck stood on end. Slowly she walked out of the house and looked around. She knew that Jackson was watching her.

"Okay, you asshole. You want to play? You got it, but this time you will not live to play another day," Dell spoke to no one but she knew that her message would get through to the deranged man watching her.


Later that night Sydney held Dell in her arms as the woman slept. Arms and legs hitting and kicking her had woken her up. The only way she could get Dell to stop was to practically smother the smaller woman with her body.

What broke her heart was the whimper and tears that ran down closed eyelids. Sydney traced her finger across light eyebrows and watched as the forehead scrunched together. Then swollen green eyes opened and look around. "How are you feeling?" Sydney asked quietly.

""Okay, I guess," Dell replied and snuggled closer to the nice warm and naked body next to her. "You always were a nice bed warmer."

Sydney laughed. "Yep, I'm better than an electric blanket."

"You are so much better than any old blanket," Dell said before she captured a nipple in her mouth.

"Are you sure you want to be doing that?" Sydney asked as she ran her hands through Dell's hair.

"Do you want me to stop?" Dell asked when she let go of the nice wet nub.

"No, but?" Sydney replied. "What about Kitty and John? Won't they hear us?" She sucked in a breath as her other nipple was sucked on.

She felt a hand slowly making it's way down to her body. "Dell?" she moaned.

Dell nipped the nipple before she let go. "No, they can't hear anything. We are on the opposite side of the house." Dell kissed across the soft skin and up to the long neck that begged for attention. "It's my turn to see if I can get you to pass out."

Sydney lost in the sensations only groaned in anticipation.

Dell kissed and nibbled the pulse point on Sydney's neck. She remembered that was one of the things that use to drive the tall woman crazy. Her hands and fingers had minds of their own. They pulled and twisted the nipples on each breast.

The fire was building inside Sydney. The sensations were shooting straight to her center. She could feel the wetness grow with every passing second. "Please, I need you," she begged.

"What do you need?" Dell asked before she sucked on an earlobe.

"I'm about ready to explode," Sydney gasped. She grabbed Dell and tried to get her to move with out having to say anything, because it was getting harder and harder to talk.

"Okay, I get the picture," Dell replied in a husky voice. "You want me to slowly kiss my way down and run my tongue into your wet pussy and feast on your clit like it was a sucker?"

Sydney just groaned and shook her head yes.

"It would be my pleasure," Dell replied and started her way down the gorgeous body.

She was distracted by the soft mound with pink nipples sticking out and had to stop. She loved the way that Sydney's body reacted to her touch. The way goose bumps formed when she blew cool air across the pert nipples.

That only caused Sydney to moan louder and beg for release. "Please?" She arched her back when she felt the air hit her sensitive nipples. "Ohh?God."

Dell licked and bit her way down to the dark shaved hair in between the long tan legs. "Mmmm?you smell good." She grabbed Sydney's legs and rested them on her shoulders. She wanted to dive right in and taste, but she remembered to take her time.

Dell kissed the tan thighs and ran her hands underneath the hips and squeezed the round flesh. "You know that you have always had a nice ass and I love to feel it in my hands."

Sydney looked down to the blonde between her legs and smiled. "I love it when you play with it while your sucking on my clit." Sydney hoped Dell would get the hint. When a warm tongue made contact with the overly sensitive clit, Sydney bucked and held onto the head between her legs. "Ohh? yes."

Sydney only lasted a couple of minutes before her body was pushed over the edge. Every muscle clenched with pleasure. She nearly strangled Dell when her thighs clamped shut, trapping the blonde where she was.

Dell had no problem with the position she was in. She kept up her movements and added her fingers to the stimulation. Sydney's body reacted to the new stimulate with a more intense orgasm than the one she just had.

"OHHHHH... FUCK ME DELL!!!!!!" Sydney screamed at the top of her lungs. "YES! YES! YES!"

When the body below her slowly released her head, Dell looked up. She saw two satisfied blue eyes staring down at her. "I guess you're the better lover," Dell said and sat up. She stuck her bottom lip out and pouted.

Sydney still unable to move shook her head. "Trust me, from where I'm at you're the better one," she said and fell asleep.

Dell watched the perfect naked body drift off to dream land. She crawled up and brushed the sweaty hair from the beautiful face. "No, I think we both are the best when it's us." Dell bent over and placed a soft kiss on Sydney's forehead. She watched as a small smile formed. "God, how I love you."

"Love you too," Sydney replied in her sleep.

Dell laughed and grabbed the blankets from the floor. She covered up herself and Sydney before she fell asleep holding onto the woman she loved.


The next morning Dell and Sydney walked into the kitchen to have breakfast. Everybody looked up at the two of them and gave them a knowing smile. "What?" they asked at the same time.

Kitty got up and gestured for them to sit. "Nothing, what would you two like to eat?" she asked and went to pour some coffee for them.

"I'll just have coffee, thanks," Dell answered when she took her seat.

"Same for me. I have to hurry," Sydney replied. "I forgot about a mandatory staff meeting today."

"Are you sure you can't miss it? You two have been through a lot the past couple of days," Kitty asked and gave them both a cup and a bagel. She saw them both look up at her. "You have to eat something."

"Thanks, and yes I have to be there," Sydney replied before she took a bite of her bagel.

Dell looked over at John who was eating a big plate of bacon and eggs. "So, Captain, did we get any clues as to who Jackson killed yesterday?" she asked as she took a drink.

"No, not yet," he replied and set his fork down next to his plate. He looked right into Dell's eyes. He knew that she wasn't going to like what information he was about to tell her. "It seems that he did the same thing to the young woman that he did to your sister."

Sydney had to move fast to catch the cup before it spilled all over Dell. She set the cup down and tried to grab Dell's hands. Before she could Dell stood up and stormed out.

Not sure if she should let Dell have some time for herself or go and comfort her, Sydney just stood there.

Kitty came up and stood next to her. "Go find her. She needs someone now more than ever, and I think you might be the only one she'll let in right now."

Sydney first headed up to their room. Not finding her there she tried to think where Dell might have gone. Not coming up with anything she decided to go ask John and Kitty if they had any ideas.

She saw them walking out of the kitchen and stopped to watch them. They held hands and smiled at each other. She hoped that her and Dell would still be that in love when they were their age.

"Excuse me, but do you have any idea where she might have gone?" Sydney asked as she continued to walk down the stairs.

"Did you check by the pond? She likes to sit under the big maple," John informed her before he kissed Kitty and left for work.

The two women walked out to see him off. He turned around before he climbed in the car. "Let Dell know that we are going to have a meeting with everyone who's on the case at two o'clock."

"Sure, I'll let her know," Sydney replied and headed over to find her missing lover.

It didn't take her long to find Dell. The first clue was the sound of pebbles being thrown in the water. She stopped and just watched. She could tell that Dell had cried by the wet streaks that ran down her face, but she had stopped and had a determined far off look.

She decided that she wanted, no needed to k now what her lover was thinking. So she walked closer and coughed to make it known that she was there. Seeing that Dell didn't hear her she walked to stand in front of the sitting woman. She bent down and grabbed Dell's hands in hers. When unfocused eye came up and meet hers she smiled. "You doing okay?"

Dell put her head down and shook it. "No, I feel like my life is spiraling out of control and that I can't do anything about it."

"Is they're anything I can do to help?" Sydney asked as she sat down next to Dell, never letting go of her hands.

Dell sat there for a few seconds and thought. "There is one thing you can do," she said.

Sydney looked into green eyes that were scared. "What?"

"Just make sure that you be careful," Dell asked and brought up the hands that held hers and kiss the knuckles. "I love you."

"I'll do that as long as you do the same and I love you too," Sydney replied back and bent over to kiss Dell. "I really have to go. I'm already late for the meeting."

Dell stood up and held her hand down to help Sydney. "Okay, lets get going. I'm going to drive you and then head off to the station to see what they have come up with so far."

"John said that there's a meeting at two," Sydney informed Dell as they walked to the car.

Half way there, Buster came running at them. Dell jumped in front of Sydney before the big dog trampled her. "Stop!" She yelled. The lovable dog stopped on a dime and danced around the two. Licking any piece of skin he could with a very wet tongue.

"Yuck, Buster. What's got you so excited?" Dell asked as she wiped the back of her hand on her pants.

"Buster, you better get your ass back here right now!" Kitty yelled from the front door. She stepped down to meet the couple and the rambunctious monster of a dog. She pointed at Dell. "You're in trouble."

Dell stopped and pointed at her own chest. "Who me? What did I do?"

"It wasn't you, it was your dog. Do you know what he did?" Kitty asked as she put her hands on her hips and tapped her foot.

"No," Dell replied with a shake of her head.

"That dog of yours." She pointed at the dog that hid behind Sydney. "Decided that my rose bush would be the best place to dig. Now instead of seven beautiful rose bushes. I have four."

Dell slowly turned to look at her dog. She couldn't believe what he had done. Those rose bushes had won first place in all the community rose garden for the last six years straight. "Buster, you get your ass over here now!" she yelled.

Buster put his head down and crawled to his owner. He knew he was in big trouble by the tone of the voice. Slowly he made his way over and lowered his head and offered his paw to Dell.

"You're not getting any treats for a month. Plus no extra long walks," Dell said to the dog. "Go and apologize to Kitty."

Buster got up and walked over to Kitty and sat. Then he looked up and barked.

Kitty looked over at Dell with a raised eyebrow. "Did he just do what I think he just did?" she asked and glanced back down at the dog.

"Yep, and I'm sorry for what he did. I'll buy you new rose bushes. Just let me know what kind to get," Dell replied. "We have to be going now. Just put him in our room so that he stays out of trouble."

"No, I won't lock him up in a room all day," Kitty said and petted Buster on the head. "You two should get going. Let me know if you're going to make it for dinner."

"Okay," the two women said as they head to the car.

"One of us will call this afternoon!" Sydney yelled back before she got into the car.

Dell turned around and yelled, "You be good, Buster!"


Three weeks had gone by and Jackson had killed two more people. One was an old woman who lived alone. She was stabbed through the heart as she opened the door. Her neighbor found her lying in a pool of blood.

The second was an older man who read his paper while he sat on his porch. A mailman discovered him when he delivered the mail. A knife was found sticking out of his chest.

Dell sat in her car before she entered the police station. "I'm so ready for a vacation," she said to herself. "Maybe I can talk Sydney into taking off for a few days." With that thought her cell phone rang. She looked at the caller ID and smiled to herself. "Hello, sweetheart. I was just thinking of you."

Sydney smiled at the other end. "Really?"

"Yep, and it involved you and me naked up at my cabin," Dell replied in a husky voice.

"You don't say. It sounds like a whole lot of fun to me. Just tell me when and I'll be there with bells on," Sydney whispered back as she looked around. Not wanting anybody to hear her conversation.

Dell pictured in her mind what Sydney would look like lying on a blanket in front of a fire and a strand of bells rapped around her neck. "You're killing me here," Dell replied and dropped her head onto the steering wheel.

Sydney laughed. "You're the one who wants to take me up into the woods and ravish my body."

"Oh boy, do I," Dell replied with all honesty. "But first things first. I should get going."

"Me too," Sydney agreed. "I love you."

"Love you too," Dell said back. "See you after work."

"I'll be waiting, bye," Sydney said and hung up the phone.

Dell got out of the car. She took a deep breath and looked up into the sky. The clouds were gray and she could smell the hint of rain. "This day is as gloomy as I feel."

She walked into the red brick building and spotted Twiggy sitting behind his big desk smiling at her.
"Hi, Dell," Twiggy said when she got close to him.

Dell sat on the chair next to the desk and gave Twiggy a little smile. "Hi, you got any messages for me?"

"Yep, a letter came for you," Twiggy replied as he bent over to reach for the long white envelope. "It came for you a little while ago."

"Thanks," Dell replied when she grabbed the envelope. She turned it over in her hand and noticed that it didn't say anything but her name. "Who delivered it? It doesn't have any postage. All it has on it is my name."

"Some kid just walked in and handed it to me," Twiggy informed Dell.

Dell opened the envelope carefully. She looked inside to see a single piece of paper and a photograph.

Slowly Dell reached in and unfolded the note. Her heart stopped. There in front of her was a picture of Sydney while she was at work. What really got her was the big red circle and line drawn across her face and in bold hand writing Jackson had told her what his next move would be.

I see that a missing piece has been found.
Adam Jackson

Twiggy watched as Dell jumped up and ran out the door. He picked up the note that she dropped and nearly tripped over his chair as he ran down to the Captain's office.


Sydney hung up the phone. "I can't wait until all this is over with," she said to herself.

She sat down at the nurse's desk and watched the people moving around. Knowing she should really go to her office and do paperwork she still sat there. "I don't want to sit in a cramped room with no windows."

"You know talking to yourself is a sign of a person going crazy," Sammy whispered in her ear.

Sydney jumped. "Damn it, you scared the snot out of me."

Sammy laughed. "Sorry." She sat down in the chair next to Sydney. "Haven't talked to you in a couple of days. How have ya been?"

Sydney smiled as she watched Sammy rub her belly without really knowing it. "Okay, considering everything that is going on."

"How's Dell?" Sammy asked.

Sydney took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "She tries to act like it doesn't bother her as much as it does," Sydney replied. "I know she gets up after I fall asleep and walks around the house."

"That's what mom told me. She caught her double checking the alarm the other night," Sammy stated with a sigh. "I hope this ends soon."

"Me too," Sydney replied.

They both stood up when they heard the sirens. Wondering what was going on, because they didn't hear any calls about incoming ambulances. The doors opened and a frantic looking Dell ran in.

"What's going on?" Sydney asked when Dell cam to a stop in front of her.

"Ohh, thank God," Dell replied as she hugged Sydney.

Sydney looked over at Sammy and she just shrugged. They both looked over at the door as more police cars swarmed the parking lot. "Dell, what's going on?"

Dell squeezed Sydney a little tighter before she let her go. She looked up into very curious eyes. "He's coming after you."

"What?" Sydney asked stunned by what Dell said.

Dell looked at her with guilty eyes. She tried to stop the tears that threaten to fall, but was unsuccessful. "Jackson sent me a letter. It had your picture with a red circle and an x marked across your face." Dell glanced around. "We should go to your office."

Sydney just shook her head and allowed Dell to guide her to the elevators. They stepped in when the doors opened.

Dell saw Marcus run up and stop where his wife was standing. She stopped the doors from closing and yelled, "Marcus, meet us up in Sydney's office." She saw him give her a thumbs up and let the doors close.

They rode up to the third floor and stepped out when the doors opened. They didn't notice the person get off behind them. Slowly Dell guided Sydney to the closed door with her name on it.

"Where are your keys?" Dell asked the quiet woman.

Sydney reached into her white lab coat. She handed the keys to Dell and let her unlock the door. Dell opened the door and let Sydney enter first. She was about to make sure that nobody was following when she was hit on the back of the head. "Fuck!!"

Sydney jumped and turned when she heard Dell cuss. "What the hell?" She asked when she saw Dell land on the floor. Then she saw the bearded man standing in the open door with a gun in his hand. "Who are you?" She asked.

"I'm the winner. That's who I am." Jackson laughed and walked into the room. He closed the door and locked it. "Now it's time for the grand finale."

"What are you going to do?" Sydney asked terrified of what this mad man was going to do to her and Dell.

"I just figured it would be a perfect ending to kill both of you." He gestured with the gun to Sydney and Dell. "In a public place and since I would be stopped from doing that, so I decided that your office would be perfect." He laughed.

"You don't have the time to do this. Dell's partner will be up here any second," Sydney replied as she bent over to see if Dell was still alive. When she felt a faint pulse she let out a small sigh.

"With all the commotion down stairs he'll be busy for some time," Jackson replied as he walked around a small table that was in front of an old looking couch. "Go and sit at your desk," he ordered as he took a seat.

Sydney walked around her desk. She tried to see if there was anything she could use as a weapon, but the only dangerous thing she had was a stapler. When she sat down she figured the only thing she could do was stall. "Tell me what you get out of all of this?" she asked.

"Well, let me see? What do I get out of all of this?" Jackson replied. "I get the honor of out playing and out thinking the only person who ever beat me."

"Is that all it is to you? A fucking game? You killed innocent people who did absolutely nothing to you. Don't you feel at all guilty?" Sydney asked as the anger of what this man in front of her had done to so many lives.

Jackson sat back and rubbed the gun under his chin. "You know what. Nobody is as innocent as you make them out to be."

"Okay, what about Dell's sister? What did she ever do to you? She was the sweetest person I have ever known," Sydney asked. She tried to see if Dell was hopefully coming around, but the edge of her desk blocked her view.

"Oh, she got what she deserved." He turned his head. "Do you see this scar? She gave that to me when she came downstairs and saw me kill her old man." He grinned evilly. "It was one of my finer moves to leave her on the table."

"You disgust me," Sydney spat.

"It gets better. You should have seen the look on her face when she walked in and saw her family. Plus the agonizing yell she gave when I stabbed her." Jackson stood up and walked around to where Dell was lying . He kicked her in the stomach hard enough to flip her over. "This time I'm going to make sure that she does die."

Sydney watched as he raised the gun. "Wait, don't you want her to know that it was you that beat her?" she asked as she stood up.

He thought about that for a second. "You're right. Give me that water bottle over there," he commanded.

After Sydney handed him the bottle he proceeded to dump the liquid on Dell and slap her on the face. "Wake up you dumb bitch."

Dell coughed and spit out the water that ended up in her mouth. "Oh fuck, what hit me?" she asked as she came around.

"I did," Jackson answered and jumped back with his gun aimed before Dell could get a swing at him.

Dell slowly focused on the gun that was pointed right at her. When she looked around she noticed Sydney behind her desk. She saw the terror and anger in the blue eyes that she loved so much. "Did he hurt you?" she asked as she tried to stand, but lost her balance.

"I'm okay," Sydney answered as she walked over to stop Dell from falling.

"Leave her be!" Jackson yelled. "She doesn't need anybody's help."

"Fuck you, asshole. You do know that I'm going to kill you this time?" Dell replied as she finally stood up.

"Oh, and how do you plan on doing that?" He asked with a small laugh. "I'm the one who has the gun."

"You think so?" Dell asked as she reached under her jacket and pulled out her gun. "I'd say we're pretty even."

Jackson tried to act like it was no big deal that he forgot to see if she had on any weapons. "I don't think so. I do have one advantage," he replied and brought the gun up to face Sydney. "You move an inch and I pull the trigger."

"You pull the trigger and I kill you within a second," Dell replied as she tried to think of a way to get his attention off of Sydney.

"But I still win. Your girlfriend will be dead and you'll have to live with the knowledge that you got her killed just like you got the rest of your family killed," Jackson replied with a smug grin.

"Asshole!" Sydney yelled before she threw the heavy gray stapler at Jackson's head.

Jackson ducked just in time, but it gave Dell the advantage she needed to tackle him.

Dell tried to keep Jackson from getting a shot off and he was doing the same. When Jackson brought his knees up and pushed Dell backwards to crash on the little coffee table. He watched as she broke it into a bunch of pieces from her weight. He quickly stood up and pointed the gun and fired a shot.

Dell saw him stand and moved just in time to hear the bullet hit above her head. Then she heard another shot but didn't hear it hit anything. She moved to stand up, but was kicked in the stomach by a foot. She tried to get away before he could do it again, but he grabbed her hair and brought her up to stand on her tiptoes.

"Guess I won," Jackson laughed and kicked her in the stomach again. "See ya around," he said before he left the room.

Dell stayed on the floor for a few seconds to catch her breath. She glanced around to see where Sydney was. Her heart fell to her stomach when she saw Sydney's feet sticking out from behind her desk.

"Oh God, no." She quickly got up and ran to check on her injured lover. The sight of all the blood under Sydney's head and the grayish tint to her skin made Dell throw up into the wastebasket.

She sat there for a few minutes to try and get herself together. The memories of her family and the sight before her made her get up. She knew that the only way to end this was to go after and kill Jackson. Then she would go away and never let anyone get close to her again.

She turned and looked at Sydney and nearly got her gun and ended it right here and now, but she knew that Jackson had to pay first. "I'll see you soon," she said to the still body of her lover.

As tears ran down her cheeks Dell walked out of the office and headed for the stairs. When she opened the door she listened for any signs of noise. She heard the sound of someone running down the steps and out one of the doors. She started down to find her prey. "It's my turn now, you asshole."


"I'm going to go and see if Dell and Sydney need anything," Sammy said to Marcus as they both watched the commotion of the ER.

Marcus looked over at his wife and could tell that she was stressed and tired. He bent down and gave her a kiss. "Why don't you stay with them? I don't think they would mind if you laid down on that old couch Sydney has in her office."

Sammy closed her eyes and felt the tension from the last hour drain a little from the kiss her husband gave her. "I just might do that." She smiled when she felt Marcus lean in for one last kiss. "Promise to come get me when things calm down?"

"For you anything." Marcus smiled and rubbed his wife's tummy. "How's the little one doing?"

"Besides running a marathon on my bladder he or she is doing great," Sammy replied and grabbed Marcus's hand. She brought it up and kissed the knuckles. "Don't leave me up there too long. I'm getting hungry."

Marcus laughed. The only things his wife has really been able to do the past week is eat and go to the bathroom. "I'll hurry and maybe we can get Dell and Sydney to come with us."

"I'll ask." Sammy reached up for one last kiss and wobbled down the hall to the elevators.

Marcus watched his wife enter the elevator and waved when she waved at him. "God, I love that woman."


Sammy walked out of the elevator and headed to the small office, but more importantly the old couch. Her feet were killing her and all she wanted to do was sit and put them up.

When Sammy got to the door it was partially opened. She knocked and slowly pushed the door to open enough for her to look in. Not seeing any one she walked in and sat down on the couch. "Must have gone to get some coffee or something."

Then she looked towards Sydney's desk when she heard a soft moan. She got off the couch as fast as a pregnant woman could to see Sydney on the floor in a pool of her own blood. "Oh, shit." She bent over and felt for a pulse. "Thank God," she sighed in relief when she felt a strong pulse under her finger.

Sammy reached for the phone on the desk and called down to the ER. "I need a doctor stat. We have a gunshot wound to the head in Dr. Kent's office." She then hung up the phone and tried to stop the flow of blood.

With in a few minutes the room was crowded with medical personnel, some to help, others to see what was going on.

Marcus ran into the room and noticed that way too many people were in the small room. He clapped his hands to get their attention. "Okay, people. If your not here to help, you need to leave."

Slowly the room emptied. Marcus saw his wife standing in the corner holding the IV bags and trying to not lose her composure. He walked over and took the bags from her. "How bad is it?"

Sammy wiped her eyes and took a deep breath. "It's really only a scratch. She woke up for a second and asked for Dell." She looked up at her husband. "Do you think Jackson has her?"

Marcus closed his eyes. Not even wanting to think what his partner is going through if the psycho had her. "I hope not." He opened his eyes and stared down at Sydney. "But I see no other reason for her to leave Sydney like this."

"I agree, come on let's get out of their way," Sammy said and tugged Marcus out of the room.

When they stepped out of the room John met them. "Any news on what happened in there?" he asked as he looked in the room and watched them put Sydney on a gurney.

"Nothing. I have one of the officers looking to see if the security tapes caught anything," Marcus replied.

"Okay, I want you to call me first thing when you know anything," John said. "How she doing?" he asked as they watched them wheel Sydney out of the room.

"I think she'll be okay. The bullet just scratched her above the ear," Sammy informed her father. "I'm just really worried about Dell."

"We'll find her. Don't worry," Marcus said as he hugged his wife. "She didn't let that ass beat her the last time and she won't let him defeat her this time."

"Well, I'm going to go and sit with Sydney. I don't want her to wake up with out anyone there," Sammy said and kissed Marcus. "See you two later. Let me know if anything develops," she said before walking down the hospital corridor.

"Let's go and see if they found anything," John said.

"Okay, let's go," Marcus replied and they headed to the security office.


Dell saw Jackson getting into a beat up old truck, but before she could get to him, he took off out of the parking lot. She ran after him, but knew that it was useless to try and catch him on foot.

At the corner a motorcycle pulled up to wait for the red light to turn green. She flashed her badge. "I need the use of your motorcycle."

The guy looked at her like she was crazy. "Are you nuts?"

"Right now, I'm not sure. Just get your ass off of this bike," Dell replied as her last thread of patience snapped.

"No way, I just got it back this morning," the guy replied not budging from the bike.

"Get off now!" Dell yelled as she brought her gun up to his face.

"Okay, okay just don't shoot." The guy jumped off and watched as Dell jumped on. "Just be careful," he begged.

Not even looking back, Dell took off in the direction she saw Jackson go. It took her about two minutes to find the old truck going slowly down the road to the old fish hatchery.

"So this is where you've been hiding," Dell said as she parked the bike behind an old shed. "Now let the game begin."

She slowly made her way to the side of the old smelly building and entered through a broken window. "Shit," she whispered as she felt a piece of glass cut the side of her thigh.

When she finally got into the building she sat and listened for where Jackson might be. Her thoughts turned to Sydney and to the fact that she would never get to wake up after a night of making love with the woman she loved in her arms. She stopped the tears before they had a chance to fall. "First, I make him pay. Then I will join Sydney and we will have eternity to love one another."

Slowly she crept across the dirty floor to where an office was. She put her ear to the closed door and smiled when she heard Jackson talking to himself. "Time to play." She stood up and kicked the door in.

Jackson jumped when the door crashed in. Then a smile crossed his face. "Well, look who finally found me."

Dell walked all the way into the room. The smell of rotten food and old cans of beer, plus the body odor made Dell's eyes water. "I should've known to look in the most disgusting place for a worm like you."

"What, don't you like how I decorate?" Jackson asked has he walked to a cabinet in the corner. "Oh, well that's okay. It's not like you'll be here for a long time anyway." He reached for his gun that sat on one of the shelves, but stopped short when he felt the cold barrel of Dell's gun press against the back of his head.

"Looks like you finally got the jump on me," Jackson said as he turned to have the gun shoved in his face. "You won't shoot me."

Dell's eyebrow rose. "Really? Why would you say something like that?"

Jackson looked at the dead green eyes that looked at him. Maybe he had made a mistake when he said she wouldn't shoot him. "You're a cop."

Dell lowered the gun and stepped away from Jackson. "You know you're right." She grabbed the badge from her waist and looked at it for a split second before she threw it at him. "You can have it. I have lost everything that meant everything to me because I was a cop."

"Why would I want this piece of shit?" Jackson asked when he caught the badge.

Dell stepped closer to Jackson not even listening to what he said. "Now it's time I do something for myself." She raised her gun and pulled the trigger and watched Jackson fall to the floor with a hole in his head. "That's for my family, but most importantly for Sydney."

Dell stood there and watched the lifeless body for quite some time. Her hands started to shake and her knees gave out giving her a closer look at the body. She made it to the garbage can just before she puked her guts out.

"Never thought I'd react like that," she said to herself.

Slowly she stood up and dusted her hands off on her jeans. When it hit her that the nightmare was over, but the terror of losing Sydney will always be with her. Now in a total rage she began breaking everything that wasn't broken. She stormed over to where Jackson's body lay and started to kick and scream. "Why did you have to chose me? Why couldn't you have just left me alone and let me have a nice life? Why?" Kick. "Why?" Kick. "Why?"

After a few minutes her rage turned to sorrow. With one last kick she walked out of the room and headed for an exit. It had started to rain while she was inside, but she didn't notice. Dell walked up to the motorcycle and dug into her pocket for her phone. She dialed a number and waited for the person to pick up on the other end.

"Hello," Marcus said when he answered his phone.

"It's me," Dell replied with no emotion.

"Where are you?" Marcus asked his voice full of concern for his friend.

"Listen, you'll find Jackson at the old hatchery in the office on the first floor. No need to hurry, he won't be going anywhere any time soon," Dell said with a small fake laugh.

"Where are you at Dell?" Marcus asked again a little bit louder than he should. He gave Sammy a small smile for an apology.

"Don't worry about me. I'm going to go away for awhile," Dell stated while she sat on the motorcycle.

"When will you be coming back?" Marcus asked as he started to pace. He had heard Dell sound so defeated before. To say it scared him was an understatement.

"I don't think I will be coming back," Dell replied as tears ran down her face. "He stole the last thing I loved more than life itself. I won't put you or anyone else in harms way again. Give Sammy a kiss good bye for me and let the rest of the family know that I appreciate them letting me become part of the family," she finished and almost hung up the phone when Marcus asked about Sydney.

"What should I do about Sydney?" Marcus asked totally confused on the way things were turning out.

"I trust you to give her the best funeral she deserves," Dell whispered just loud enough for Marcus to hear. "Give her a rose for me." She hung up not able to continue the conversation.

"Dell? Dell are you still there?" Marcus yelled with no success. "She hung up on me," he said to Sammy with a look of total shock. "She thinks Sydney is dead."

"That explains why she would leave," Sammy stated with a shake of her head.

Marcus hugged his wife. "I have to go. The reason she called me was because she told me where to find Jackson."

"She killed him, didn't she?" Sammy asked even though she knew the answer.

"Yes," Marcus replied and backed away. "Plus she said that she's not coming back, because she didn't want to put us in harms way."

"What are we going to do about Sydney?" Sammy asked as she rested her head on Marcus's chest.

"When she wakes up, we'll tell her what's going on. Then we will find out where Dell might go and bring her back to where she belongs," Marcus stated with conviction.

"I love it when you get this way." Sammy smiled up at her husband.

"I love you too, now lets go and see if Sydney's in her room yet." Marcus guided Sammy down the hall to the nurse's station.


"I'll be sure and call you if we need anything," Sydney said before she turned and looked at Marcus. "Be careful driving back."

"Don't worry I will," Marcus replied as he looked out and watched the rain through the headlights of the car. "Do you need help bring in your bags?" he asked and pointed to the back seat.

"No, all I have is my backpack with my cloths and two grocery bags," Sydney replied with a smile. "Thanks again for driving me up here."

Marcus reached across the seat and hugged Sydney. He tried to stop from crying. "Just bring her back."

Sydney tightened the hug. "I will."

They broke apart and smiled at each other. Marcus wiped his eyes with the back of his hand and laughed a little. "Now you better get going."

Sydney giggled and reached in the back for her backpack. "Yep, I should." Then she gave Marcus one last hug and exited the car.

The rain felt cold on her face and she wished that she brought her umbrella. She closed the passenger door and opened the backdoor to retrieve her groceries.

They had stopped at a small roadside store to ask for directions. As she walked around the store she decided to get some groceries, because she knew Dell wouldn't have much, if anything to eat.

"I'll call and let you know what's going on," Sydney said as she reached for her groceries.

"Okay, and do me a favor," Marcus replied. "Tell her that she has a family that loves her and really misses her."

"I'll do that. Bye," Sydney said and closed the door to the car. She walked quickly to the front porch and sat the groceries down by the door. She turned around and watched the tail lights fade into the darkness. "Okay, Syd, let's go find Dell," she said out loud to herself.

Not bothering to knock she turned the handle to the door and opened it. The sight made her take a deep breath in and hold it. Cans of beer and bottles of liquor were lying everywhere. The smell of old stale alcohol assaulted her senses and nearly knocked her out.

"What have you been doing to yourself?" Sydney asked as she slowly entered the cabin. She saw some windows off to the right and quickly opened them. Not caring if the rain got through the screen. Sydney tripped her way through the living room and made her way to the kitchen.

"Well, I'm glad I brought groceries," Sydney said as she opened the refrigerator and saw only more alcohol. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I can just imagine what kind of state you are in, love."

She went to get her things from the front porch and to put away the groceries before she went to see where Dell was. It only took her a few minutes to empty out the refrigerator of all its liquid contents and put in what she bought.

"Okay, that's done. Let's go find out where you're hiding, Dell," Sydney said as she walked to the door that she suspected lead to the bedroom. She grabbed the handle and opened it very carefully.

"Dell?" Sydney whispered as she stuck her head in. The bedroom was just like the other, cans everywhere. The bed looked like a bunch of bears had come in and torn it to pieces.

Not seeing Dell, she walked all the way in and looked around. She noticed a door halfway opened and saw it was the bathroom. She knocked and pushed the door open the rest of the way. The stench that hit Sydney made her run out to the front porch.

"My God," Sydney said as she took several deep breaths. "Oh, Dell, when I get a hold of you, you have a lot of explaining to do."

A bolt of lightening flashed across the sky illuminating the area around her. That's when she noticed a still figure standing on a dock staring out across the lake. "Dell, you're in so much trouble. Standing out in a storm like this."

Sydney walked out into the cold wind and rain. She slipped all the way down the path to the lake, but caught herself before she hit the ground. "I really hate the rain."

She stood behind Dell and watched her for a few seconds. She could tell by the way Dell stood that she was deep in thought. When another bolt of lightening went across the sky she noticed a glint of something metal was in Dell's hand. Wondering what it was she started to walk closer and then she heard Dell start to speak.

"I don't know if I can do it. The pain is so hard to deal with. My every waking moment is of you and my soul can't live with out you," Dell said to the wind and the rain. She bent over and grabbed the bottle of Jack Daniel's and took a long drink. When she was done she tossed the bottle into the lake.

"I doubt I will join you where you're at, but I can't be here without you." Dell raised the gun she had in her hand and pointed it at her head. Tears ran down her face. "I love you, Sydney."

When Sydney understood what Dell was saying and saw that it was a gun in Dell's hand she took off down the dock and screamed, "NO!"

Dell heard someone yell. She turned and saw a dark figure running across the dock. She lowered her hand and hid it behind her back so the intruder couldn't see the gun. "Who are you and what do you think you're doing on my land?" Dell asked. Pissed off that she had been interrupted.

"Please, don't," Sydney begged as she came to a stop in front of Dell. The eyes that she loved to stare at were dull and lifeless.

Dell was stunned. Here before her stood the woman she loved. The woman that she saw lying dead in her own blood. "It can't be. I saw you. You? you're... dead," Dell stammered and stepped backwards to get away from the ghost she saw in front of her.

Sydney stepped closer. "No, I'm very much alive." She could see the intense emotion racing behind Dell's eyes.

"No, I saw all the?blood," Dell replied and stepped back one more step. She was right on the edge of the wet dock. The wind blowing the tears that ran down her face to mix with the rain that dripped off her hair. "I saw the way you looked lying on the floor in a pool of your own?blood."

"Give me your hand and I'll prove it," Sydney asked and held out her shaking hand.

"No... you came back to haunt me, because I'm to chicken to kill myself," Dell replied and raised the gun again. "I'll show you that I can keep my promise to join you."

"No!" Sydney yelled and jumped towards Dell.

The sudden movement startled Dell and she lost her balance and fell backwards into the icy, cold lake. The effects of a week's worth of alcohol and little if any food made Dell's body go into shock. She gradually sank to the bottom.

Sydney fell onto the dock. She tried to grab Dell's arms before they went under but she was to slow. "Damn it." She took off her jacket and shoes and jumped in to where she last saw Dell.

The water was freezing and Sydney had to come back up as soon as she entered the water.

"Fu fuck mm mme, it.. t's coo..ld," she stuttered.

Sydney took a deep breath and dunked back under the cold water. The visibility under the water was terrible. She swam to where she thought Dell would be. Not seeing her, she started towards the surface then a glint of blonde hair caught her eye.

She swam down to Dell and grabbed her shirt. With all the energy she had left, she pushed them up to the surface.

"Dell?" Sydney yelled as she broke the surface. She turned the limp body around to where she could see Dell's face. "Come on, love, don't you leave me."

Sydney tried to feel for a pulse, but her fingers were to cold to feel anything. "Damn, come on Dell." She slapped Dell's face again and again trying to get a reaction. "Open your eyes. Damn it. OPEN THEM!" She yelled at the top of her lungs.

Dell's mind heard Sydney as she yelled at her, but her body wouldn't cooperate. The mind numbing cold and the need to just leave it all behind was too great. So she just went deeper into the darkness.

"Oh, Dell, you can't. You just can't leave me. I love you," Sydney sobbed as she tried to keep the limp body on top of the water. "I love you so much."

When Dell heard Sydney crying and saying she loved her, her heart couldn't stand it and decided for the rest of her that it needed to fight. The darkness started to fade and the haze in her brain lifted. She opened her eyes and looked into sadden blue. "I love you too."

"Oh, thank you God," Sydney replied and kissed Dell all over her face.

"Not that I'm not enjoying all this affection. I would really like to get out of this very cold water," Dell said between kisses.


Dell lay under the warm blankets Sydney had put on the bed. She watched Sydney pick up the garbage that she had accumulated during the past week. "Sorry about the mess," she said shyly.

"After you get a good night's sleep we're going to have a nice long talk," Sydney stated as she shoved more beer cans into the big garbage bag she held.

"Okay," Dell whispered back with her head down.

Sydney walked over and sat on the side of the bed. With a finger she lifted Dell's chin so that she could look into her eyes. "It's not a bad talk. I just want to make sure that if anything ever really does happen to me that you won't decide to end your own life."

"I couldn't live without you," Dell replied as tears ran down her face. "I should have been the one who that asshole had killed not you or my family."

"Well, as you can see I'm very much alive," Sydney said as she caressed Dell's cheek. "Seeing the way you reacted when you thought I was dead really scared me, you know." The memory of Dell as she brought up that gun sent shivers down her spine.

"I was lost. I didn't know how to fight my way through the pain and emptiness I felt when I thought you were gone," Dell cried harder.

Sydney swept Dell into a hug. They both cried for what they almost lost and for what they had been given. "I will always be here. If not physically, then in spirit. Our souls are connected and will always guide us back to each other."

Dell stopped crying and listened to the strong heartbeat under her ear. A smile came across her face. "Together forever."

"Yes, together forever," Sydney agreed and hugged Dell tighter.

Dell turned her head and kissed Sydney. "I think we should lay down and get some sleep."

Sydney stood up and grabbed the end of the blankets. She crawled into the nice warm comfort of Dell's arms. "This is always home."

Dell nodded her head in agreement. Her eye already closed.


Sydney woke up to the sound of Dell cussing. "What in the world?" she asked as she sat up.

"Fucking gross. I can't believe what a pig I was," Dell said from behind the bathroom door.

"I can't believe it either. I walked in there and thought the sewer backed up!" Sydney yelled back at the door.

"Ha ha, you're funny," Dell replied and opened the door. She had on long rubber gloves and a rubber apron and rubber boots.

Sydney took one look and started to laugh. "Talk about a walking talking safe sex advertisement."

"Don't quit your day job." Dell laughed back, but stopped when she spied Sydney's long legs sticking out from under the covers.

Sydney knew that look and moved her legs so that Dell got a better view. "See something you like?"

Dell nodded her head yes and walked slowly to the bed. She took off the gloves and threw them on the ground. She kicked the boots across the room and they landed with a thud. The ropes that tied the apron came loose with one tug and it fell to the floor.

"I see something I love," Dell replied with pure desire. She lifted on of Sydney's legs and began to kiss each of the tiny little toes. Then she kissed over the top and made her way down to the soft thigh.

Sydney couldn't hold herself up as the sensations of Dell's lips met her overly sensitive skin on her thigh. "Oh God, that's nice."

"Only nice? I guess I should put more into it," Dell said as she ran her tongue across Sydney's already wet underwear.

"MMmmm HHmmmm," Sydney replied at the sensation.

Dell lay on her stomach between Sydney's legs. With one hand she moved the material away from the dark curls. She could see and smell what Sydney offered her. With the tip of her tongue she licked the moister off the swollen lips. "Damn, you taste good."

Dell used her other hand to open up Sydney so she could get to what she wanted most. Slowly she sucked in the harden clit. She felt Sydney's body convulse at the stimulation.

"Dell, I want you to come with me," Sydney said as she took a deep breath and took off her sleeping shirt.

With one last lick, Dell let go and kissed her way up to Sydney's mouth. She stopped at the perfect breast and ravished them before she continued up to the delicious mouth. "Help me get my cloths off?" Dell asked in between kisses.

"I'll always help you get undressed," Sydney replied as she grabbed Dell's shirt and ripped it opened, buttons when flying across the room. "Hope that wasn't one of your favorites."

"Well, it was," Dell said as she threw the shirt on the floor. "It was one of yours."

"Oh, well I guess I'll have to get you some more from my closet," Sydney replied as she ran her hands over the strong bare shoulders and down to an exposed chest. "No bra. I like."

Dell lowered herself so she was nose to nose to Sydney. "I love you with ever beat of my heart. My soul cries for you when we are apart."

Sydney looked into love filled green eyes. "Then lets never be apart. Marry me?" she asked with a kiss.

"You beat me to it. I was going to ask," Dell stated with a pout.

"So ask," Sydney laughed. She loved that look. It reminded her of a little kid who had candy taken away.

"Okay." Dell sat up on Sydney's stomach. She held one of her hands in her own and turned serious. "Sydney Kent, will you do the honor of becoming my wife, my best friend, my lover for all time?"

Sydney tried to stop the tears. "You are already my best friend and my lover. It would be my greatest gift to you to become your wife. So yes, I'll marry you and spend the rest of my life with you."

Sydney started to unbutton Dell's jeans. She wanted to feel all of Dell's skin on her as they made love. "Let's get these off of you."

"Yes, let's." Dell stood up on the bed and lowered the jeans. She watched Sydney as she followed every move she made with her eyes. "You want to help me?" Dell asked. Knowing what the answer was by the hands that eagerly tugged on the clothing.

Once the jeans were down by the knees, Sydney sat up and ran her tongue between the fold that held Dell's womanhood.

Dell's almost collapsed at the feeling of Sydney between her legs as she stood on the bed. "Ohhh?Sydney," Dell moaned or groaned as she grabbed the headboard to steady herself.

Sydney took one last lick and leaned back down on her elbows. "You look so sexy standing like that. I couldn't help myself," she smirked.

Dell kicked the jeans the rest of the way off. She lowered herself down to Sydney. "You, my love, are the sexy one." She ran her tongue across Sydney's lips. "I want to watch your face as you come all over my hand."

Dell caressed her way down to Sydney's stomach. She kissed her along her pulse point on her neck and up to her ear. "I love you."

Sydney ran her hands across Dell's strong muscular back and down to her ample butt. She squeezed the flesh and brought her knee up she could feel Dell's wet center. "Oh... you are so wet."

Sydney lost her breath when she felt Dell enter her with two fingers. She started to rock back and forth. The muscles inside her grabbed on to Dell's fingers like they were her lifeline. "Yes, yes, yes, that's it Dell!" Sydney screamed.

Dell was lost in her own sensations. The feeling of Sydney's leg as it rubbed against her clit drove her crazy. She knew that it wouldn't take too much more and she would go over the edge.

"Oh, babe, I'm so close," Dell moaned.

Sydney wanted Dell to come all over her hand just like she was about to come all over Dell's. She grabbed a hold of Dell and flipped them over so that she was on top. Then she reached in between and inserted two fingers into Dell. "Know we can come together," she whispered into Dell's ear.

"Ohh?" Dell groaned.

Sydney felt Dell's center start to pulse around her fingers. She knew her lover was very close to the edge and that made her start her own intense orgasm.

"DELL!!!" Sydney screamed.

When Dell felt Sydney go over she fell with her. "SYDNEY!!"

They lay there covered in sweat and breathing hard. Sydney rolled off of Dell, but pulled her close so that Dell's head rested on her shoulder. "God, I love what you do to me."

"It's totally mutual," Dell replied and kissed the soft shoulder under her head.

They spent the rest of the day making love. The phone interrupted them some time during the early afternoon. It was Marcus wondering how things were going and to let them know that Sammy was in labor. They promised that they would both head back the next day to see the new edition to the family.

"You know that tomorrow a couple of people will probably yell at you, for just up and leaving like you did?" Sydney asked as they sat on the porch and watched the sunset.

"Ya, I know, but I don't care as long as you're beside me. They can yell all they want," Dell replied before she kissed Sydney's check.

"No need to worry. That's where I will always be. Right beside you forever and always," Sydney stated with conviction.

"Forever and always," Dell agreed as she held on to Sydney and watched the sun go down.


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