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Mac sighed sadly as she stepped into the room. It had been over a week and the man in front of her had barely moved from his spot. She had tried everything to get him to go home for a few hours but it hadn't done any good. Except for a couple quick trips home to eat or shower and change, Judson hadn't moved from Gabe's bedside. Despite the fact that the doctors were optimistic about Gabe's chances of recovery, Judson seemed afraid to leave his lover's side.

"Judson, why don't you let me sit with him for a few hours? You need to go home and sleep in a real bed. I'll stay here and call you if anything happens."

Judson shook his head. "I'm not leaving, Mac."

Mac walked around him and sat on the other side of the bed. "Judson, you're going to make yourself sick then you won't be any good to Gabe. He needs you strong and healthy. Not sick and worn out."

"I'm staying."

"Damnit, why do you have to be so stubborn? You heard the doctors, Judson. They think it's only a matter of time before Gabe wakes up. His body just needs some time to heal from the trauma."

"They think, but they don't know. He nearly drowned, Mac. They have no idea how long he was without air or what kind of brain damage there might be."

Mac reached out for his hand. "He wasn't without that long and you know it. As soon as you realized there was something wrong with his scuba gear, you got to him and got him oxygen."

"I wasn't fast enough. I should've known that something..."

"You can't blame yourself for this. Gabe is an experienced diver but accidents happen. There's no way any of us could have known that something was wrong before the dive. And you got to him as fast as you could, Judson."

Judson shook his head. "If he dies, I don't think..."

Mac squeezed his hand. "He's not going to die. He's strong and he's a fighter."

"I can't lose another one."

The words were barely above a whisper but Mac heard them. And suddenly, Judson's behaviour began making more sense. "He's not Stefan, Judson. It's not the same."

"Stefan died because of me, Mac. Now Gabe might too."

Mac shook her head. "No, Judson. Stefan died because he was greedy."

"The hows and whys don't matter, don't you see that? I loved Stefan and he died in my arms. I love Gabe and now I might lose him."

Mac moved and knelt in front of her friend. "You lost Stefan long before he died, Judson. He made the decision to betray you, to turn his back on you. Then, he tried to kill you."

"He loved me and I..."

"But he loved money and power more. His death was not your fault. You tried to save him, despite the things he'd done to you. It was more then he deserved."

Judson leaned forward, his head leaning where his hand held his young lover's. "Gabe doesn't deserve this. I should never have involved him in this."

"Gabe's here because he loves adventure, Judson. He wanted to be a part of this team long before you two ever got together. He knew the risk when he signed on."

Judson didn't reply. Mac laid a comforting hand on his shoulder. "You may have lost Stefan but you're not going to lose Gabe. He's going to pull through, you'll see."

"And then what? What about next time?"

Mac shrugged. "I can't answer that, Judson. Next time it might be you lying in this bed while Gabe drives everyone nuts by refusing to take care of himself. We're a team and we care about each other. You wouldn't stop caring just because you were friends instead of lovers. If it was me in that bed, you'd be sitting there too."

"What are you saying?"

Mac looked into her friend's tired eyes. "I'm telling you not to ruin what the two of you have because you're afraid of being hurt again."

Mac watched as Judson reached out to caress the pale face. "I'm scared to death of losing him, Mac."

"I know."

They sat in silence for several minutes before Mac spoke again. "Judson, go get some sleep. You need to be at your best when Gabe wakes up. He's going to need you close then."

Judson looked like he was about to argue but then nodded. "And you'll stay with him? I don't want him to be alone."

"I'll be right here. And I'll call if anything happens."

Finally, Judson nodded. He stood then leaned over the bed, kissing his lover gently. "He's going to be fine, right?"

"Give it a few days and he'll be driving you crazy about getting the next assignment going."

Judson smiled faintly. "I can't wait."

Mac watched as Judson grabbed his jacket and left the room. She turned back to the bed and leaned forward. "Don't make a liar out of me, Gabe. You have to come back to him. Soon."

Gripping his hand, she sat back in the chair and closed her eyes to wait. She hated to wait.




Mac once again stood in the doorway of the hospital room, this time with a smile on her face. Gabe was coming home with nothing more then a craving for junk food to show for his harrowing experience. The doctor's could find no evidence of brain damage or lasting problems. But they did advise against any diving for at least two weeks. Gabe had grumbled about that but Judson had put his foot down. And after she'd taken him aside and told him the hell Judson had been through, Gabe quietly agreed.

She stood watching them for a few minutes, wrapped in each other's arms before backing out of the room to give them some privacy. She'd already made plans to disappear for a week or so to give them time alone together. It was definitely what they needed.

As she stepped outside, she said a silent prayer, thanking whoever was listening for sending Gabe back to them. She didn't want to think of what Judson would do if he'd lost the younger man. Judson had lost so much in his life, he didn't deserve anymore pain. For the first time in years, he was truly happy. That was what her friend deserved.

With any luck, that happiness would last for a good, long time.

THE END
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