Chapter Twenty-two: All is Well
“Your chariot awaits,” Reggy announced as he walked into Kriss's room several days later, pushing a wheelchair.
Kriss looked up from where he was perched on the edge of the bed and smiled. “Great. Just give me two minutes.” He packed up the last of his belongings, and zipped up his bag before looking around the room for anything he'd forgotten. “I think that's everything.”
“Let's get you out of here, then,” Reggy grinned, maneuvering the wheelchair so that it was alongside Kriss's position.
With Reggy's help, Kriss managed to move from the bed to the chair fairly smoothly. He was getting more feeling back in his legs all the time, but they wouldn't bear his weight yet and his physiotherapist had warned him that it would take several weeks at the very least.
“I'm not going to miss this room, that's for sure,” Kriss said as he adjusted his position to get comfortable. “I know each and every one of its four walls better than anyone should and its thirty two ceiling tiles, obviously.”
Reggy snorted and grabbed the bags. “What about the delightful cuisine?”
Kriss made a sound at the back of his throat. “Don't remind me. I would have wasted away without your food packages.” He leaned forward to grab a sheet of paper off the bed. “Mustn't forget my release form, or we'd have to make a break for it.”
“I hear they're letting you out for good behavior,” Brad called from the doorway, his normal, cheeky, grin firmly in place, although the strain of the past week had clearly taken its toll.
Kriss smiled and shrugged. “I've been a model patient, I guess.”
'“Or more trouble than you're worth,” Brad replied, eyes twinkling. He got a mock glare in response.
“Haven't I taught you never to insult a patient?”
Brad's grin broadened as he grabbed a couple of bags off Reggy, who was trying not to laugh.
“Speaking of patients, how's Kip doing?” Reggy asked, bending down to take the brake off.
“Pretty well, all things considered. They're gradually taking him off the drugs which have been keeping him in a coma, and he should regain consciousness naturally.”
Kriss shuffled around in his seat to look at him. “That's good news.”
Reggy, however, noted his emphasis on the one word, and frowned. “Should?”
Brad glanced sideways at him, his expression serious. “There are no guarantees with his sort of injury. I'm hopeful, though.”
Reggy squeezed his shoulder supportively, and looked down to meet the gaze of the man he'd so nearly lost. “Sometimes hope is all we have.”
One Month Later...
Reggy opened his eyes and blinked in the semi-darkness, his heart hammering from the dream which had awoken him. The warm body pressed against his, combined with the gentle, even, breaths across his chest, instantly calmed and reassured him, and he tightened his embrace as he looked down at his peacefully sleeping partner. The nightmares had become less frequent in recent weeks, but no less distressing; each one ended the same way, with Kriss's lifeless body slipping away from him to be buried under an endless mountain of rubble. If the last few months had taught him one thing, it was that he should be thankful for each day and never take life for granted, especially the wonderful man in his arms.
He pressed a feather-light kiss to the top of Kriss's head, smiling as Kriss snuggled into him a little more at the touch. It had been a long, and frequently difficult, road, but Kriss recovery was almost complete. He still needed crutches to get around, but at least he was out of the wheelchair and getting stronger every day.
His physiotherapist had been amazed by the sheer force of his determination to get back on his feet quickly, but Kriss had vowed to be better by Christmas which was now only a few weeks away. As for Maggie; Kriss had only called her once, to let her know that he needed a little more time, but it was a step in the right direction.
Reggy's smile slipped as his gaze moved to the window, where the slowly brightening sky could just be seen through the blinds. It could have so easily have ended differently. The countless funerals they'd attended over the past few weeks were a constant, painful, reminder of that. His heart grew heavy at the thought of everyone who'd been lost, especially his good friends and colleagues. Their faces were never far from his mind, along with the memory of their desperately grieving families following the solemn procession through the crowded streets. The whole city had stopped and thousands had turned out to pay tribute to the many fallen heroes, who had been laid to rest with full military honors.
Harris was a city in mourning, but there was also a fierce determination to rise out of the tragedy stronger than ever before. The Central Bureau was going to be rebuilt, and dedicated to all those who lost their lives. Until its completion, their base of operations had been moved to a building a few blocks over and, although it had been difficult returning to work, everyone was hopeful for the future. At least the feds had wrapped the case up, and Kenney had been cleared of any wrongdoing, which was a good start.
“You okay, Reg?”
The soft voice brought him back to the present and, when he turned his head, he met Kriss's sleepy, but concerned, gaze.
“I'm fine,” he replied, smiling reassuringly. “Go back to sleep.”
Kriss stretched and shook his head. “I'm awake now, and I'd rather just be with you.”
“You were with me before,” Reggy pointed out, his smile widening.
“You know what I mean,” Kriss said, swatting him playfully. “There's more enjoyment to be had when I'm actually awake.”
“True.” Reggy bent his head to kiss him, feeling the familiar flutter in his stomach when Kriss deepened it. “I have an idea,” he murmured against Kriss's lips a few moments later.
“I'm hoping that it includes this,” Kriss replied huskily, wrapping a hand around Reggy's arousal and squeezing it slightly.
This earned a groan in response and Reggy grabbed Kriss's hands, rolling over so that he was on top. He pinned Kriss's hands above his head, then met his lips again enthusiastically. When he pulled back, he was pleased to see a thoroughly dazed, but hungry, expression on Kriss face.
“It most certainly does, but you're gonna have to wait here for a few minutes.”
Kriss frowned, clearly wondering what Reggy had up his sleeve. “Okay, but don't be too long or I'll be forced to take matters into my own hands literally.”
He rubbed his erection against Reggy's body to make his point, and Reggy snorted, pecking his lips, before jumping out of bed. “I won't.”
“Okay,” he called, reentering the room a little while later, and threw a jacket to Kriss, who was sitting up in bed, “Let's go.”
“Go?” Kriss repeated, looking more than a little put out. “I thought we were going to enjoy our morning in bed.”
Reggy couldn't help smiling at his pouting expression. “I still have that in mind; trust me.”
Kriss sighed, reluctantly pulling the jacket on, before swinging his legs out and reaching for his crutches. “Can I at least ask where we're going?”
Reggy pulled Kriss's hands away from the crutches firmly. “Well, you won't need those for a start.” He grinned when Kriss looked even more confused, and bent down to carefully lift him into his arms.
“Reg?” Kriss warned, looping his arms around his neck securely. “We don't want you out of action, too.”
Reggy kissed his nose as he headed out of the bedroom, ignoring the grunts from behind them. “I'm fine.” He grinned.
After carrying Kriss up several flights of stairs, with a few rests on the way, Reggy finally pushed the door open to the roof, revealing a blanket laid on the ground with an assortment of things around it. Kriss shook his head with a smile as Reggy gently lowered him down onto it and sat down behind him, one leg on either side, wrapping an extra blanket around the two of them to keep out the cold.
Producing a thermos out of nowhere, Reggy poured two steaming cups of coffee and handed one of them to Kriss. Kriss took it gratefully, snuggling back into Reggy's chest, and took in the impressive view. The dark blue of the night sky was giving way to the pastel hues of the impending dawn, the light creeping across from the East where the sun was only minutes away from peeping over the horizon and painting the city gold.
“After everything that's happened, I have a new appreciation for the dawn,” Reggy murmured in his ear. “Mother Nature at her finest, and yet very few ever actually see the birth of a new day.”
“It's beautiful,” Kriss said softly. “Perfect.”
He looked up at Reggy with a smile, the light reflected in his eyes, and Reggy was powerless to stop himself from closing the distance and meeting his welcoming lips as sunlight suddenly flooded the rooftop. Their coffee cups slipped, forgotten, to the ground as they sank backwards in a tight embrace.
They made love slowly and tenderly, drawing out the pleasure to its fullest and simply enjoying the taste and feel of each other. It was very much like the first time after Kriss's release from hospital which, after having come so close to death, had been an intensely emotional experience for both of them. Lying spooned, they had blinked back tears and held each other tightly as their bodies shook in the wake of unparalleled pleasure.
Now they moved in precised synchronicity, worshiping each others bodies in the golden light of a new day, and, when the time came, they touched heaven together with whispered words of love. Reggy gathered Kriss in his arms, still breathing hard, and pulled the blanket over them, although it didn't seem quite so chilly anymore.
Kriss pressed a kiss to his collarbone and then nuzzled into his neck contentedly. “You know; we should probably move before the neighbors spot us.”
Reggy merely grunted in response, his eyes closed in exhaustion. He wasn't sure if his legs would take his own weight at that moment, let alone Kriss's. Luckily, despite his words, Kriss didn't seem in any rush to get up either. His hand wandered lazily over Reggy's chest as his breathing evened out. After several minutes, Reggy forced his eyes open and looked down at his lover.
“Okay; we don't have to be at Greg's until tonight, so we have the whole day to ourselves. How does breakfast in bed sound?”
Kriss lifted his head and smiled, before kissing him thoroughly. “That sounds like my kind of plan.”
Greg had opened the front door to welcome them before they'd even stepped foot out of the car that evening, his fully healed arm raised in a wave. Piper appeared beside him moments later, her face lighting up with a smile as she saw them.
It was the first time that they would all be together since the bombing, and was a belated thanksgiving and early Christmas celebration rolled into one. Piper had stayed resolute in her determination to get them over for dinner, but now with the addition of the rest of the guys too.
“Wow; you're a real pro with those now, man,” Greg remarked, as Kriss easily navigated his way from the car on his crutches with Reggy hot on his heels.
“Yeah, and they're handy for whacking ankles in crowds too,” Kriss grinned, coming to a stop, and was instantly pulled into a hug by Piper.
“It's so good to see you back on your feet again. You had us worried for a while, there.”
“He needs to be able to breathe, honey,” Greg smirked, as he slapped Reggy on the back in greeting.
“I'm fine,” Kriss smiled, returning the hug. “How're you doing?”
Piper released him, and rubbed her bump with a soft smile. “We're doing okay. This one's a fighter.”
“He takes after his father,” Greg said proudly, covering her hand with his.
“Or she,” Piper countered, pecking his lips.
“The world's not going to know what hit it,” Reggy smirked, as they all headed inside.
“Watch it, man, or you'll be on diaper changing duty.”
Kenney and Holly had already arrived, and there was another flurry of enthusiastic greetings and hugs exchanged.
“So; you and Kenney, huh?” Reggy murmured to Holly, eyes twinkling, as Kenney and Kriss caught up properly.
She smiled, and Reggy was struck by just how different she looked. It wasn't just the obvious fact that her hair was down, framing and softening her face, or that she was without an apron; it was something infinitely deeper. She looked truly happy.
“Well, I always did have a thing for a man in uniform,” she replied, raising a glass of wine to her lips. “Something which I believe we share.”
“Touch,” Reggy grinned, glancing over at their respective partners. “Seriously, though, I'm really happy for you. You deserve a good man, and Kenney's one of the best.”
Holly seemed touched by the unexpected compliment. “Thank you.”
Reggy shrugged, a sigh escaping his lips. “He's had a really tough time lately, what with the suspension and then Kip. I'm just glad he's had you to lean on.”
The doorbell sounded and, as Piper was busy in the kitchen, Greg disappeared to answer it, followed closely by Kenney.
“Brad can never be anywhere on time,” Kriss smirked, as he returned to Reggy's side. “Nice to see you, Holly,” he added warmly.
“Likewise,” she smiled. “The coffee house hasn't been the same without you, although Kenney's been making up for it a little.”
Kriss laughed. “I bet. Well; I'll hopefully be back at work next month, and I'll need my morning caffeine dose.”
“The sooner you're back at work, the better,” Brad called as he entered the room. “I'm losing my sanity with Steve.”
Kriss turned to look at him with a grin. “You never had much of that to start with. Nice to hear you're missing me, though.”
Brad snorted and pulled Kriss into a hug. “You're looking good, buddy.”
“I'm getting there. Where's your other half?”
“He's been waylaid by Greg and Kenney,” Brad replied, looking back over his shoulder. “Here he is now.”
Kip entered the room with Kenney, both of them laughing at some private joke. Looking at him now, it was hard to believe that only a month ago he'd been lying in a coma; he was pretty much back to his old self. The only lasting legacy of his injury was some memory loss, including the entire day of the bombing, and, bizarrely, a newly acquired taste for broccoli, which he'd always hated before.
Brad smiled as they walked over. He still had a tendency to stay close by his lover, but Kip didn't seem to mind the attention; in fact, he seemed rather pleased by it.
“Hey, guys,” Kip grinned, hugging each of them in turn. “Wow; all of us together again, and no bomber in sight! Although we could get blown up if Greg's cooking.”
“We're safe,” Kenney laughed, wrapping an arm around Holly's waist. “Piper's in charge tonight.”
“Thank God for that; I've only just grown my hair back.”
Everyone's laughter was cut short by Greg announcing that dinner was ready, and Reggy took the opportunity to excuse himself to go to the bathroom. When he approached the dining room a few minutes later, he paused on the threshold and watched everyone talking and laughing loudly as they passed various steaming dishes around the table. After everything they'd been through together, it was a beautiful sight, and his eyes moved across all of them in turn.
Greg and Piper, who were busy being hosts but still constantly exchanging small gestures of affection; they were soon to start a new, long awaited, chapter of their lives with the birth of their first child, and Reggy couldn't imagine that child having better, or more loving, parents. Kenney and Holly, who were chatting with the others, while occasionally sharing a secret smile; they had just started out on their journey, but were so perfectly suited to each other. Then there was Brad and Kip, who were almost inseparable. As Reggy watched, Kip whispered something to Brad who pulled him into a brief, but tender, kiss. They'd been through hell, but they'd got through it together and were even stronger for it.
His gaze finally came to rest on Kriss, who was sitting on Brad's other side and joking around with Greg. Kriss's eyes were bright with laughter and happiness, and Reggy felt his heart flutter as it so often did when he looked at his lover. They'd had to cope with more adversity in a few months than most couples did in a lifetime, but he didn't regret a minute of it.
At that moment Kriss excused himself from the table.
“Kriss, wait.” Reggy's voice was low from were he stood in the door way to the hallway.
“Reg, what is it?” Kriss asked moving towards him.
The table fell silent immediately all with watchful worry.
Reggy's head was bent and he was shaking, not in nerves but with happiness.
“Love, whats the matter?” Kriss asked again.
Amber eyes meeting the sparkling icy ones, in the far off reaches of his mind. Reggy was still trapped and Kriss was dying right before his eyes. He took Kriss's hands in his, “We've had our trials. Yet here we stand, together.” Reggy knelt and at the same time reached his right hand into his pants pocket. All the while never leaving the sparkling eyes of the one he loves, “Kriss Eugene Brekheart will you marry me?”
Reggy produced a box and opened it, revealing a black and silver band.
Kriss looked at the box and the ring inside, he felt faint. For the moment it was just them, time held its breath but the answer was self-evident.
The neat icy eyes slid from the ring to meet his questioningly, and Reggy smiled. Whatever force had thrown them together in that coffee house, whether it was fate, coincidence, or just blind luck, Reggy would always be thankful.