Blood Ties 10
Blood Ties 10: A Dish Served Cold (18/19)
By Dawn

St. Alexius Hospital
12:06 a.m.

"Jake? How? I don't...why would you..." Mark's confused, overwrought babbling broke off into a low cry and blood blossomed where the knife's point lay against his throat.

"Put the gun down, Red. I've never put much stock in that saying about blood being thicker than water."

Scully met Jake's cold, humorless gaze. She slowly lowered her weapon, but left it resting at her side. "You're the one in charge, Jake. Let Mark go; don't make things worse for yourself. Surely you can see you're not going to make it out of here."

"What I see is that I'm the one with the hostage. Shortly to be a dead hostage unless you drop that weapon."

Mark's quiet words took them both by surprise. "Don't do it, Dana."

She hesitated until Mark's breath caught and fresh blood trickled down his neck. Jake's lip curled. "You never did know when to shut up, cousin. I'm getting tired of waiting...*Dana*."

She laid the gun on the hood of the car, raising both hands, palms out.

"Step around to the front of the car, Dana. Grey, isn't it about time you joined us?"

Scully did as instructed, checking her peripheral vision for signs of Henderson or the other team members. The garage appeared empty, silent as a morgue. Pushing the unwelcome image from her mind, she moved to stand beside Grey, who had crawled from the car. She took in his shackled wrists and stiff, awkward movements.

"Are you all right?"

Grey flashed her a grin, but his sunken eyes and bruised cheek belied its sincerity. "Depends on your definition." He looked at Mark. "Sorry, partner. Didn't mean to get you into this mess."

"Considering the source...seems like I'm the one...should do the apologizing." Mark ground the words out between clenched teeth.

"This is all very touching, but I'm on a tight schedule. Grey, get over here."

Grey glanced at Scully, then walked slowly over to stand in front of Jake. "I'm the one you want--you've got me. Let Mark and Dana go."

"You think I'm stupid? I know there's more where they came from. Let them go, and I'll have a whole pack of Feds breathing down my neck. I've started this, and I'm going to finish it."

"You're the one who decides how this turns out. It doesn't have to end badly. Give me the knife--releasing your hostage and turning yourself in will only help your case," Scully said, holding out her hand.

Jake responded with a sharp shove that sent Mark tumbling into Scully, nearly knocking them both to the ground. He grabbed Grey, looping one arm around his neck and pressing the knife to his ribs.

"That's better. Now, Dana, I want you to take Mark's cuffs and put them on him."

Lips pressed to a thin line, Scully removed the handcuffs from Mark's jacket and began shackling his wrists.

"Ah, ah, ah."

She froze; turned steely eyes to Jake's face.

"Not in front, sweetie. Behind his back. And make 'em tight."

She sent Mark an apologetic look, but obeyed while covertly eyeing the gun still lying atop the car's hood. When she'd finished, Jake removed his arm from Grey's throat long enough to fish a keyring from his pocket.

"Here." He tossed the keys, acknowledging her one-handed catch with a grudging nod. "Open the trunk and put Mark inside."

"I can't do that."

The retaliation was swift and brutal. The knife flashed and Grey screamed, the blade slicing his right arm from shoulder to elbow.

"No! You bastard!" Scully fumbled for the correct key, her fingers shaking so badly she could barely hold onto the ring.

"Next time it goes right between his ribs. Hurry up."

"Why are you doing this, Jake?" Mark's voice was dazed, uncomprehending. "We're family; we grew up together. I've always tried to help you out. I thought we were friends."

"Let's just say I got tired of being the charity project who gets all your sloppy seconds. Friends? You don't know me--you never have."

"Then if your beef is with me, let Grey go. He's never done anything to you..."

"You'll never begin to understand what he's done to me, you spoiled son of a bitch. Like I said, you don't know anything about me. Dana, get him in there now. I'm losing my patience."

Grey watched her help his partner fold himself into the compartment. Sticky warmth ran down his arm, pattering crimson drops onto the cement, and his head felt thick and fuzzy. He hung on to consciousness, blinking back the darkness crowding the edge of his vision. He knew what came next, and what he had to do. Last chance. Once Dana was in the trunk with Mark, it would all be over.

"Put on your own cuffs, Dana."


The protest, and the quiet force with which it was delivered, startled them both. Scully's hand stilled on the way to her pocket and Jake's arm clamped down on Grey's throat.

"She's being a good girl, Grey. Shut up and let her do as she's been told."

An edge to Jake's voice, the first real hint of anger. An image flashed before Grey's eyes--a memory so clear it hurt. Fox, barely able to hold his head up, his lip curled in contempt...

"It was dumb all right. Told're just like all the rest."

"Don't do it, Dana. He's finished and he knows it."

As swift as a rattlesnake, Jake's hand clamped onto Grey's wounded arm, spinning him around until they were face to face. He leaned in close, the point of his blade digging into the flesh just above Grey's belt.

"This won't be finished until I've done what I should've done five years ago, hotshot." He bared his teeth in an expression that held too much fury to be a smile. "I'm going to enjoy myself."

Grey's arm felt as if hot spikes had been driven into the bone, but he ignored the pain. He had Jake's complete and undivided attention now. He could only pray Dana would follow his lead. Gritting his teeth, he raised his voice in an effort to drown out the ringing in his ears.

"It's over, Jake. You're just too stupid to realize it. They've got you trapped here, pinned down like a bug on a piece of cardboard."

"Shut up! I've got a few tricks up my sleeve; I know what I'm doing. You're just running off at the mouth 'cause you know you're dead meat." Jake brought the knife up to caress Grey's cheek but his voice shook with rage.

Grey chuffed, forcing his lips into a mocking grin. "Sure, cut me. You're a big man as long as you're the one holding the knife. But in the end, it won't change a thing. Six months from now no one will remember your name. You're still a failure, my friend. Just like you always were."

Jake's face turned blood red, eyes dilating and breath speeding up. "A *failure*? I'll show you who's the failure you arrogant..."

The knife left Grey's cheek and plunged toward his chest.

"Dana, now!" He let his entire body go limp, legs folding, a dead weight that slithered out of Jake's one-handed grasp and crumpled to the concrete.

One shot rang out, then another. The knife skittered across the floor.

Grey cautiously lifted his head. Jake lay on the ground in a growing pool of blood, sightless eyes open wide in an expression of astonishment. Dana stood motionless by the hood of the car, arms extended and feet spread in the classic firing stance, her weapon clutched in her hands.

"Are you...are you all right?" The gun dropped slowly to her side.

Grey stumbled to his feet, swaying. "'M okay. You?"

A tentative step, then two, and suddenly she was pressed against him, her arms flung around his neck. "Thank God. I was so afraid..."

"Me, too, darlin'." He stiffened and pulled back, eyes searching her face. "Fox?"

"He's going to be fine. Kristen's with him."

Relief flooded his already weakened body so that he staggered and would have fallen had not Dana caught him around the waist. She pulled out her keys and removed the handcuffs, then wrapped her jacket around his injured arm to staunch the flow of blood. Grey blinked against a film of tears.

"He was so sick when we left him. If he'd died up there, all alone, I'd never have forgiven myself."

Dana drew his head down and gently brushed her lips across his, her thumb caressing the same cheek Jake's blade had touched. "Grey, you took care of him for me. He wouldn't be alive right now if it weren't for you. I'll never, never be able to thank you enough."

"Um…you know, I really hate to interrupt. But would you two mind helping me out of this trunk? My arms are falling asleep and there's a lug wrench digging into my back." A voice, muffled and longsuffering.

Grey's snicker broke off in a gasp of pain. "We're coming, partner. Just...just don't make me laugh."

Mark's answering string of curses set them both off again, Grey groaning between riffs of laughter. Scully's radio crackled static, and a moment later Henderson's anxious voice dampened their mirth.

"Agent Scully, we heard shots fired. What's your status?"

Scully tugged the receiver from her belt and thumbed it on. "We're okay--it's all over. Detective McKenzie needs medical treatment. The suspect is dead."

"Sit tight. We'll be right there."

"Great. Maybe Henderson will get me out of here." Mark's disembodied grumble was followed by rattling handcuffs.

Grinning, Scully tugged Grey's good arm around her neck and they headed for the trunk.

St. Alexius E.R.
6:32 a.m.

Grey glanced at the wall clock for the third time in as many minutes. Nearly an hour stuck waiting for a doctor to bring the paperwork that would allow him to leave. He flopped back onto the pillow, his frustrated sigh quickly turning to a grimace when the careless move jarred his shoulder.

"I hate to keep beating a dead horse, but a little morphine would make that arm a lot less painful."

Cleo leaned in the doorway, eyebrow raised and lips pursed. When Dana had half carried Grey in six hours earlier, chalk white and bleeding, Cleo had calmly taken charge as if the ER were a restaurant and they'd reserved a table for two. She'd quickly fetched a wheelchair and an orderly and settled him in a trauma room, pumping Dana for information on his condition while subtly reminding her she was the relative, not the doctor. Now that he'd been stitched and transfused, her current mission seemed to be convincing him to accept pain medication.

"Thanks, but no thanks. I wouldn't say no to a cab, though--if the doc ever shows up with the damn paperwork. I'm beginning to think this other emergency you keep telling me about doesn't really exist."

Cleo rolled her expressive brown eyes. "You've found us out, honey. It's all just an elaborate plot to keep you here. We figure if we stall long enough, you won't need those AMA forms."

Grey grinned at the sarcasm, shifting a little more cautiously this time. "Okay, so maybe that statement was a little self-absorbed. I just want out of here, Cleo. You've topped off my tank and stitched up my arm. Don't you need this bed?"

"You're barkin' up the wrong tree, child. If I had my way you'd be in a room upstairs right now, pumped full of enough pain killers to keep you from bein' such a pain in the ass. Where's that cute little redhead, anyway? From what I saw, she could knock some sense into that stubborn, macho head of yours."

"She left--had to catch a helicopter back to Asheville." Grey stuck out his lip, oblivious to the fact that he'd just adopted his brother's trademark pout. "I should be with her right now, not stuck here playing patient."

Cleo's brows drew together and she stalked over to the gurney. "News flash, Mr. Detective. You ARE the patient. You may be feelin' your oats right now after getting a little blood, but once the rest of that lidocaine I numbed you up with wears off, you're gonna be hurtin'. That cut wasn't deep, but it was long. Thirty stitches is nothing to sneeze at."

Grey ran his fingers through tangled hair, sighing. "Look, you don't understand. I'm not trying to be a tough guy. The lunatic who did this to me hurt my brother a lot worse. Last time I saw him, I wasn't sure he'd make it. He's in a hospital in Asheville." He leaned forward, voice dropping. "Cleo, I have to see him."

Her irritation faded. "No wonder Red looked like she was caught between a rock and a hard place." She looked him up and down for a long moment, expression shrewd. "All right, I'll see what I can do. But the way I see it, gettin' sprung from here is the least of your problems. You're not fit to drive a car, and bouncing along on a bus is going to be mighty uncomfortable for that arm."

"I'll work something out."

She chuckled, shaking her head. "I do believe you will. Now stay put and I'll be right back."

Grey relaxed into the mattress but doggedly refused to shut his eyes. Exhaustion pressed down on him, turning his eyes gritty and his limbs leaden. True to Cleo's prediction, the gnawing pain in his arm was quickly becoming impossible to ignore. Yet the need to go to his brother, to see with his own eyes that Fox was really all right, rendered all other considerations inconsequential.

And Kristen...

Lips curving, he pictured her as Dana had described--pushing down her own fears, determined to let no obstacle stand in the way of finding him. "Tough as nails," Dana had said. The genuine respect in her voice, an affirmation not easily earned, warmed him.

There'd been moments over the past forty-eight hours when he'd been certain Jake would have the revenge he so desperately sought. Forced to shake hands with his own mortality, he'd made an amazing discovery: his joy at the thought of reuniting with Kate was overshadowed by deep sorrow at the thought of parting with Kristen. Of never hearing her laughter, seeing her smile, feeling her in his arms.

And somehow, on a level he could never have explained, he felt Kate was all right with that.


Drifting, at first he mistook her voice for an extension of his own thoughts. Fingers smoothed tumbled hair from his forehead, then glided down his cheek. Grey's eyes flew open, locking onto a tear-stained face and wide, green eyes.


"My God, you look like you've been through the wringer." She sank her teeth into a quivering lip and smiled, fresh tears welling up. "And you're the most beautiful thing I've ever seen."

He grinned, holding open his good arm. "Back at ya, darlin'." When she folded onto his chest with a strangled sound somewhere between a laugh and a sob, he lay his cheek on the crown of her head. "Shh. It's all right now, Tippi. Everything's all right now."

For several long minutes their only communication was the whisper of his fingers in her hair and the chuff of her breath against his neck. Eventually Kristen lifted her head, one hand tentatively brushing along the sling.

"Does it hurt?"

"Like a sonuvabitch." He punctuated the reply with a smile, magically transforming her stricken expression to amusement.

"You're impossible."

"So I've been told." He sobered. "How's Fox doing? I thought you were under orders to stay with him."

"They were countermanded by a higher authority." She chuckled at his bafflement. "Fox told me to come. Once we heard you were safe, he practically kicked me out of the room." Her laughter faded. "He said I belonged here, with you."

"He was right." Grey traced a fingertip along her cheekbone, tucking blonde hair behind her ear. Veiled with tears, his eyes met hers, fused. "I love you, Kristen."

She jerked backward as if slapped, mouth working soundlessly until she finally managed a hoarse whisper. "I...what?"

"I love you. I have for a while now, I've just been too afraid to say the words." His hand found hers, fingers parting, meshing. "I wish I could tell you I'm not afraid anymore, but that would be a lie. Truth is, I'm terrified." He huffed softly. "But back in the parking garage, when Jake had the knife at my throat..." His fingers tightened in crushing grip. "I could have died, and you never would have known."

Kristen curled her fingers around the nape of his neck, bringing his face so close he could feel her breath feather across his lips. "I knew. You've told me in just about every way possible except saying the words. And I've tried to tell myself it didn't matter. But, oh God, Grey..." Her voice wavered, catching in a tear-clogged throat. " matters."

He kissed her, tenderness quickly giving way to passion, lips parting and tongues dueling. His hand had found the warm skin of her stomach and her teeth were fastened on his earlobe when someone cleared their throat. Loudly.

It might as well have been a bucket of ice water. They broke apart, Grey cursing lustily when his injured arm inadvertently hit the bedrail. Kristen slid off the mattress and tugged down her sweater, cheeks pink.

Cleo lounged in the doorway, white teeth flashing in a satisfied smirk. "Well, now. I see you got your own painkiller. Looks like you're feelin' much better."

Grey willed himself not to lick his tingling lips, wondering why he suddenly felt like a sixteen year old caught making out in his parents' living room. "Ah, Cleo, this is Kristen. Kristen, meet Cleo. She's been taking care of me."

"Not nearly as well as Kristen has," Cleo replied, voice like honey.

If possible, Kristen's flush deepened. "Nice to meet you, Cleo."

"Likewise. Now how about you sign these papers...," she laid a clipboard and pen in Grey's lap, "...and you can finally get out of here." She cast a sly glance at Kristen. "I can see you're in good hands."

Grey opened his mouth, shut it, and signed. He passed the forms back to Cleo, who handed Kristen a plastic bag and a few slips of paper.

"There's prescriptions for an antibiotic and pain meds. I've given you some sample packets to get you started, but I'd suggest you get 'em filled ASAP. Be sure you take the antibiotic with food, and finish the entire prescription--I don't want to see you back in here with an infection. If there's any sign of fever or inflammation, you need to see a doctor immediately. Otherwise, there's a sheet of instructions about the stitches. Follow them."

Grey nodded. "I will."

"You can keep those scrubs you're wearing; the Feds bagged your clothes as evidence."

Grey winced, eyes distant. "After the last few days, that's no great loss." He forcibly shook off his darkened mood. "Thanks for everything, Cleo. You've been terrific."

"Yeah, yeah. So they all tell me." But the words were delivered with the ghost of a smile. "Take care now, children." A pause and a wicked grin. "Behave yourselves." A sly wink, and she was gone.

Kristen shook her head, still blushing. "Come on. Let's get you out of here."

Grey swung his legs over the side of the gurney, but made no move to stand. "Kristen, I want...I need to see Fox."

She paused in the act of collecting his shoes, hands propped on hips. "Then we'd better fill these prescriptions on the way out." When his jaw dropped in surprise, she smiled. "Did you honestly think I wouldn't see that coming? Now let me find the other one of these and I'll help you put them on--I think your shoe tying days are over for a while. Oh, and Grey?"

She stopped, turned back to look intently into his eyes. "I love you, too."

She left him with a goofy grin on his face and went to find the other shoe.

Concluded in Chapter 19