"When Hearts Collide"


Logline: In his wife’s absence Steve turns to an old friend for comfort causing unrest in his marriage.

Set-up: Everything is concurrent with the show. This is a continuation of the Kayce/Steve storyline.

  It was the day before Christmas and Steve was able to coerce Rudy and Oscar to join his family at his Ojai ranch for a holiday away from work, Washington and the OSI. So there they sat laughing, chatting and enjoying the delicious meal loving prepared by Kayce and Helen. All of them, Steve and Kayce, their three-year-old son Kyle, Helen and Jim, Oscar and Rudy, and Jaime filled the large dining room sharing warm memories. Everyone had arrived by noon and spent half the day together enjoying each other’s company.

Oscar and Rudy were looking forward to seeing Jaime and her husband Tom. The two didn’t get to see her that often since she left the OSI. The two out of town guests were not the only one’s surprised when she arrived without Tom, Steve and Kayce hid their shocked expressions also. Jaime explained the Air Force officer needed to be at the air base that day to personally oversee some personnel changes. Steve was the only one familiar enough with her to see the half-truth in her eyes. He deliberately kept a closer eye on her than usual throughout the afternoon to see if something really was amiss.

Steve noticed his old friend stayed relatively quiet at the dinner table, not her usual teasing self. Before dinner she seemed to enjoy spending time with Kyle as he played on the floor with his toys. At the time he smiled to himself knowing how good she was with children and how someday, hopefully soon, she would have some children of her own. He wanted so much for Jaime to be as happy as he and Kayce were.

Before dinner was finished Steve reminded Kyle of his nightly chores in the barn. He recently got his first pony and as promised he took his responsibilities as ‘owner’ and ‘caretaker’ very seriously. Usually Steve was the one to help his young son but Kyle enjoyed Jaime’s company and politely asked if she would help him. Surprised by his request she eagerly agreed and followed the miniature Steve out to the barn.

Kayce and Steve were clearing the table, putting on the coffee and washing dishes but paused to watch the two as they walked through the corral holding hands.

Seeing the couple glance at each other with smiles on their faces as he entered the kitchen Rudy inquired as to their origins. Kayce chuckled, “I think our son is in the midst of his first crush.”

Rudy grinned seeing the sight through the glass. “I wonder if Jaime noticed.”

“I’ll have to tease her about it later.” Steve smiled devilishly and returned to drying the plate in his hands.

Amongst the smell of fresh hay Kyle explained to his aunt each task as he carried it out with a seriousness not commonly seen in children his age. Jaime fought to keep an equally serious expression her face as she watched him. Her heart melted seeing his father in his physical characteristics as well as his personality. His darkening blonde hair was cropped short and parted on the same side as his dad’s, his blue eyes were expressive and would melt many a woman’s heart in the future, and the grin that was frequently displayed, that adorable lopsided grin she had known for many, many years. He was such a sweet child and very easy to love. She felt a tug at her heart at the thought of what she had missed out on. This could have been her child, hers and Steve’s, but she had resisted too long and now it was too late.

The young woman assisted Kyle with lifting the feed into the bucket and carrying the heavy water pail after he filled it with the hose. As they finished the tow-headed boy looked up and asked, “Aunt Jaime would you please lift me up so I can say goodnight?”

“Sure Kyle.” She replied with a warm smile after being pulled from her memories. She reached down and grabbed him under his arms to lift him above the stall front. She stood with her arms securely around his waist, holding him tight to her stomach. The boy faced his horse and said his goodbye while gently petting the pony’s head.

The ache in her chest suddenly became hard to hide, even from a little boy. “You can put me down now Aunt Jaime. Thanks for helping me tonight.” He said as he gazed up at her with a look of gratitude.

“You’re very welcome Kyle anytime. Say, why don’t you head into the house, it’s getting a little chilly and I know your Mom doesn’t want you to catch a cold.” She walked him to the barn door.

“Aren’t you coming? Grandma made apple pie for dessert.” He offered hoping she would join him.

“Ah…no Kyle I want to visit with the horses awhile. I’ll be in soon.”

“Okay…I’ll save you a piece of pie.” He exclaimed as he trotted off towards the house.

Coffee was being served when Kyle returned and went to his father’s side. Steve pulled him onto his lap at the dinning room table. “All done Buddy?”

Kyle nodded enthusiastically, “Chestnut was hungry.”

Steve smiled and agreed, “I’m sure he was.”

“Did you say goodnight to him?” Kayce asked knowing her son loved that horse as much as he loved everyone else.

Kyle turned toward the others at the table and nodded again, “Aunt Jaime lifted me up so I could reach him. She’s as strong as mommy is.” He stated with admiration that had everyone chuckling.

“I’m sure she is.” Steve responded with a knowing smile before glancing around for Jaime. He didn’t think she would leave without saying goodbye. “Where is Aunt Jaime?”

“She’s outside. She said she wanted to visit the horses.” He explained then leaned to Steve’s ear and whispered, “She looked kinda sad.” Steve placed his insightful son back on his feet requesting he go wash his hands and placed his napkin on the table. “Excuse me a minute.” He said as he stood and left the table feeling confident that things were not as she tried to make them appear.

The table conversation quieted as everyone watched Steve quickly exit the room. Helen was the first to speak of Jaime’s mood “Is it me or does Jaime seem a little quiet today?” Oscar and Rudy just shrugged not noticing anything different about her.

Kayce responded as she placed the returning Kyle on her lap, “Maybe it’s just the holidays, I’m sure she’s just tired or something.”

Helen shared her thoughts in a loving maternal voice, “I just hope she and Tom are okay.” She let out a heavy sigh, “I hate to see her unhappy.” Everyone understood Helen’s concern and protectiveness for her ‘daughter’ and tried to reassure her.

Kayce curiosity was tweaked by Helen’s comment. After taking a small sip of her coffee she casually asked, “Why do you think it has to do with her marriage?”

“Oh I don’t know maybe just a mother’s intuition. I’m sure whatever it is she’ll work it out.” She sat her cup down and realized they had forgotten dessert. “Oh would you look at that I forgot about dessert.” She stated with a chuckle.

Kayce suddenly felt tense and quickly stood, “Don’t worry about it Helen I’ll get it.” She placed Kyle on her seat and gracefully stepped towards the kitchen as Jim’s voice took over the conversation.

Steve stood quietly, unnoticed at the open barn door. He could see her familiar feminine form leaning against one of the far stalls petting the black horse that she loved to ride so many years ago when they had plans of marriage. He wondered what was going through her mind since he was too far away to hear her quiet one-sided conversation with the animal. Whatever was troubling her had her very distracted; her bionic hearing had yet to pick up the sounds of his footsteps on the scattered hay at his feet. He heard the sniffle before he reached her side and suddenly wondered if he should leave her alone. She swiftly turned after sensing she wasn’t alone.

“Steve, I ah…” She stammered as she quickly wiped her face of the errant tears. “I was just reminiscing with Gem here.” She had turned back to the horse as soon as she realized she had been crying.

“I see.” He said softly unsure if he was butting in where he had no business being. “Jaime is there something going on? Something you want to talk about with someone...beside Gem?”

“It’s not important. Besides, you should be in the house entertaining your guests. I’ll be in soon.” She said with her voice barely controlled.

Steve let a small smile play on his face hoping to lighten the mood enough for her to confide in him, “Well, you ARE one of my guests.” Still looking away from him she let out a sharp chuckle and sighed. He was at her side and placed a brotherly hand on her forearm that was resting on the wooden slat. His soft whisper in her ear caused her even more discomfort. “You know you can talk to me about anything. Please let me help.”

Her heart and mind were at odds at the proposition. She needed to talk to a friend and he had been her best friend for most of her life. He was always honest with her and she knew he always had her best interest at heart.

She allowed him to lead her over to a bale of hay and the two sat side-by-side. She took a few minutes to decide how much to share with him. The whole situation was weighing heavy on her mind.

After a deep cleansing breath she stated plainly, “Tom left me.” Her eyes remained on the ground while Steve’s arm found its way around her shoulders.

“Jaime, I’m sorry to hear that.” He wanted, needed, to know how that man could leave such a wonderful woman. He hurt for her and wanted to make it all better. He had many questions but held back not wanting to meddle in a marriage that wasn’t his. He waited patiently hoping she would offer more information.

“We had a fight last week. He packed a bag and said he would be staying at the base.”

“For how long?”

She shook her head, “I don’t know. I tried to talk to him to try and fix it but he’s always too busy.” Steve let his thoughts travel back to the times the two couples enjoyed time together. They always had great time with each other no matter what they were doing. He thought their friendship was strong between him and Tom as well as Tom and Kayce. Then he remembered the last camping trip they went on. Tom was in great spirits the first afternoon and evening. When the morning came there was a noticeable difference. Steve had wondered what had transpired overnight. The last two days of the trip Tom was short with him and avoided Jaime as much as he could. Kayce also noticed and relayed her concerns to Steve. Neither one could come up with the cause of his bitter mood. Steve and Kayce hadn’t seen Jaime and Tom since that trip. Obviously things had gotten worse.

“May I ask what the fight was about? I mean I may be able to give you the male’s perspective on this.” He offered.

Jaime hesitated, “He thinks I have feelings for someone else.” She shot him a glance and weak smile before returning her gaze to the ground. Steve thought for a moment before carefully inquiring about the possibility, “Do you?”

She couldn’t answer him it hurt too much, so she just didn’t answer. “Jaime please… I can’t help you if I don’t have all the pieces of the puzzle.” Jaime folded her arms around her slim waist, sat back against the wall and quietly explained, “He thinks I’m in love with you.”

Steve initially thought he heard her wrong. He had to have heard her wrong. Things had been over between them for years. “Jaime, Tom knows we go a long way back. Sure we love each other but we aren’t in love with each other….at least not anymore. Right?”

She chose to explain the disagreement instead of answering his question, “Remember the three days we camped in the mountains?” Steve nodded. “Well the first afternoon and evening remember how you and I were giddy and constantly teasing each other about old times?”

Steve nodded again remembering their constant giggling and laughing. “That night he told me I should have married you instead. He said it was obvious that we were in love with each other and should have married a long time ago.”

Steve took advantage of the sudden silence, “Tom does remember attending my wedding right? I mean he’s well aware that I am married to Kayce.”

Jaime smiled and nodded. “I tried to explain things to him. I told him a long time ago of our relationship and my memory loss. I brought it up again during our recent fight but he wouldn’t listen to me and left.” The two longtime friends sat in silence, Steve’s arm still around Jaime’s shoulder. “Steve I’m so sorry for ruining this wonderful evening. Maybe it’s the holiday or whatever. I should have just stayed home.” She said as she stood up. Steve was immediately on his feet.

“Oh no. You belong here with your family not home going through this alone.” She smiled without saying a word and began walking back towards the house. She already decided to skip tomorrow’s Christmas dinner knowing it would be too depressing for her.

Steve quickly fell in step with her, “And don’t think you are getting out of dinner tomorrow because I will come over there and drag you here myself.” The tall lanky blonde stopped and turned to look Steve directly in the eye shocked that he had anticipated her plans. “Don’t give me that look. I’ll tell Mom if I have too. She’ll make sure you show up.”

Jaime smiled but her eyes still held a sadness Steve had never seen before. Not having words to sooth her he suddenly found himself wrapping his strong arms around her hoping to diminish her pain. She placed her arms tightly around his neck and savored the feeling of his love and security. God she wished it was something she could have all the time.

While still clinging together she assured him she would be at his home the next morning, not wanting Helen to worry about her. Steve smiled and continued to hold her and comfort her until she reluctantly broke away. She placed a loving hand on his cheek and looked deeply into his eyes for several seconds.

She so wanted to tell him everything but knew she couldn’t, not now, maybe not ever. She wasn’t sure how the information would be received. She knew Steve very well but was too embarrassed to confess that in a moment of heated passion with her husband she mistakenly called out Steve’s name. She still couldn’t believe it had happened. Yes, her husband was right she not only loved Steve but was in love with him as well. She finally admitted it to herself and she was angry with herself for not accepting Steve’s affection after she regained part of her memories thanks to Dr. Wells and Marchetti. And now what she desperately wanted would forever belong to another woman.

She leaned forward and gave him a sisterly kiss on the lips before she lightened the mood by commenting that she had to get home and wrap the last gift she had for Kyle. Steve followed her lead and stated, “As long as it’s not the one thing he’s not getting from Santa Claus.” He gave her a crooked grin and a raised eyebrow waiting for her response.

“And what would that be?” She asked.

“A little brother.” He let his grin grow into a smile as she laughed.

“I think you can be sure I won’t be bringing him that.” She began walking to the house and Steve observed, “You know you spoil him.”

“Spoil him?! How can I NOT spoil him? He’s my nephew and I adore that little boy.”

“I know. I think that’s why he has a crush on you.” Steve watched for her reaction to his teasing and she retorted, “Well it’s good to know some men can still appreciate a good woman.” The two friends laughed as they opened the back door and entered the kitchen, neither one noticed Kayce’s tense posture at the sink. She had witnessed both the long embrace and kiss from the kitchen window.

As promised Kyle had his grandmother put a piece of apple pie aside for Jaime. Steve thought she seemed a little more relaxed after their talk. He smiled at Kyle’s ability to take anyone’s mind off his or her troubles with his charm. The evening quickly wound down and soon Steve was walking his parents and Jaime to their cars. Kayce was finishing getting the guestrooms ready for use. As expected her overly tired son fell quickly to sleep on the couch as Oscar and Rudy waited in the family room for Steve’s return.

After clicking off the bedroom light the young woman hesitated at the darkened window that faced the driveway. She watched as Jim and Helen left the property. Then her eyes found Steve holding Jaime tight for more than a few minutes before opening the car door for her.

The distracted wife returned to her guests in the family room and didn’t hear the question directed at her. “Kayce?”

“Huh? I’m sorry Rudy. Did you say something?” She asked softly as not to wake her son.

“I was just asking if you needed any help.”

She glanced at her watch wondering why Steve was still outside. She looked back at Rudy, “Ah, no, Rudy thanks. I think everything’s ready for tomorrow.” Seeing concern on her friend’s face she added with a smile, “I just hope Kyle doesn’t wake you two up at the crack of dawn to see what Santa brought him.”

Oscar and Rudy assured her they wouldn’t mind if he did wake them with his excitement. “Is Santa getting him everything on his Christmas list?” Oscar inquired.

Kayce smiled, “Almost everything. The only thing Santa won’t be delivering is the baby brother he’s been asking for.”

The two men stifled a laugh as Steve entered the room and inquired, “What’s so funny?” Kayce looked at him and replied, “I was just telling Oscar and Rudy what Kyle wouldn’t be getting tomorrow.”

Steve got a devilish grin on his face, winked at Kayce and stated matter-of-factly, “Oh, I don’t know, we still have 10 hours to work on it.”

She chuckled, “Oh, I don’t think so. One of your carbon copies is quite enough right now.”

Steve’s laughing eyes fell upon the sleeping child his wife was referring to and went to the couch, “Well little man it’s time you went to bed.” He commented in a quiet tone of voice. The adults could hear the mumbled retort as the child kept his eyes closed, “But Daddy I want to see Santa.” Steve rolled his eyes as he gently lifted his son so his head rested on his shoulder. “Not tonight Buddy, not tonight.” Steve winked at the smiling faces of his friends as he headed to Kyle’s bedroom.

After an hour of talking amongst themselves the tired adults decided to call it a night already anticipating a wakeup call at dawn. After saying their good nights they retired to their respective bedrooms.

As the couple got ready for bed Steve casually mentioned Jaime’s present situation but didn’t mention the details of the separation. Kayce in turn didn’t mention what she observed from the windows. She only hoped things would workout soon while she reminded her self over and over that Steve was trustworthy. It wasn’t until Steve was trying to fall asleep, the conversation with Jaime still flowing through his mind, that he realized she never answered his question pertaining to still being in love with him.


A month later with the excitement of the holidays behind them everyone went back to daily routines. Oscar was back in Washington while Rudy was mostly in California working in new experiments. Steve and Kayce decided to place Kyle in daycare a few days a week so he had friends his age to play with. As expected Kyle loved it and his parents hoped it would help him over the disappointment and loneliness of not having a younger sibling.

The Austin’s didn’t see much of Jaime as their work took much of their time. Steve thought of her often and hoped she was okay. He tried to talk with her as much as he could since the young woman had chosen not to burden Helen with her plight. Unfortunately Jaime still would not truthfully answer Steve’s question of whether she was ‘in love’ with him. She skillfully skirted the issue and distracted the conversation.

On the opposite coast Oscar was busy coordinating efforts to locate a semi-retired OSI employee that had suddenly disappeared. While reading one of his operative’s reports he felt a chill run the length of his spine. Not only was the investigation pointing to murder but also there was a possibility that the recent murders of three other former government agents were connected. With each death occurring within a week of each other they didn’t have much time to solve the mystery.

The director called his team together to review the evidence they had collected. Over a long meeting the went on until mid-morning the team finally had a loose connection between the victims but being that many of the agent’s official assignments were top secret and on a ‘need-to-know’ basis there were still pieces missing. It was then the team leader, reading through a file in front of him, explained the possible connection between the dead agents.

He read from the loose papers, “Six years ago it would seem there was an interagency team compiled with operatives from four different agencies; two were OSI, one FBI, one CIA and one NSA. Each member was chosen for his knowledge of nuclear devices and other special skills. Three of those team members are the deceased agents. The other is the missing agent. Oscar immediately inquired as to the identity of the fifth member hoping that they could at least save one of their own if the assignment was in fact the link between them. The agent in charge looked through the file as the room fell quiet. Everyone wanted to know who the fifth victim could possibly be and if he was still alive.

“Steve Austin. He was brought on board as the pilot for the mission.” The moment the name registered on Oscar’s brain he was picking up the phone ordering his jet readied for a quick flight to the west coast. While en-route and without an answer at the Austin household he called Rudy at his California residence to see if he had heard from Steve recently. After getting a negative reply he asked Rudy to meet him at Ventura Air base.


An hour after returning from a morning walk with her husband Kayce stood in the doorway linking the bathroom to the bedroom buttoning her blouse. She looked up as the color drained from Steve’s face at the words only he could hear coming from the telephone receiver.

“You should have stayed out of it Austin. As always you are blinded by the American Flag. Your colleagues have paid their penance and now its time for yours. I have special plans for you or should I say those close to you. I’m going to make you suffer before I finish the job.”

“You want me? Come and get me.” Steve taunted trying to lure the unknown man out into the open.”

“Soon, Austin. We will meet soon enough. But first I want to offer my condolences for the death of your parents.” With those words Steve’s heart skipped a beat and he heard the click of the line disconnecting. What happened next was void of all conscious thought only reaction to the news that terrified Steve to the core.

Kayce watched as her husband dropped the receiver onto the cradle and ran passed her ordering her to call authorities and send them to his parent’s home. He was out the door and speeding down the driveway as she followed his instructions.

Kayce fought to remain calm as she finished the call and placed a second call to the neighbor’s house where Kyle was attending a sleep over birthday party. Kayce quickly explained there was a family emergency and her friend assured her they would look after Kyle until she or Steve could get him. Kayce thanked her and hung up before grabbing her car keys and heading out the door intending to follow Steve. She rounded the corner of the house heading toward her car and collided unexpectedly with Oscar Goldman. She stepped back and glanced swiftly from Oscar to Rudy. She wasn’t sure why they were there just grateful they were. She quickly recovered from the startle and breathed out her urgency, “Something has happened to Jim and Helen. We have to get over there, Steve’s already on his way.” She walked swiftly passed them to the government car blocking her vehicle. The trio jumped in and as Rudy closed the back door Oscar was already spinning the tires on the gravel road.

“What happened Kayce?” Rudy asked.

“I’m not sure. Steve received a strange phone call then ran from the house. He yelled for me to call the authorities before he was gone.” She looked at Oscar and then turned to look at Rudy. “I’ve never seen him look like that before. He… he looked…frantic when he left.” She stated in a concerned voice.

Oscar’s chest tightened at the thoughts flowing through his mind. He was concerned that the phone call was to lure his operative into a trap and using his innocent parents would cloud Steve’s mind causing his actions to be anything but cautious.

“Where’s Kyle?” Rudy asked with concern.

“He’s with a neighbor.” She replied tersely as her anxiety increased the closer they got to her in-laws home.

Steve’s car skidded to a stop behind his father’s truck, which was parked, beside Helen’s blue sedan. He swallowed hard realizing they were both home. He jogged to the front door and slowly slid his key into the lock. It turned with ease and there was only silence to greet him opening the front door. By his second step into the foyer his nose was assaulted by the pungent smell of gas. His calls to his parents went unanswered as he cautiously moved through the familiar house.

The experienced operative knew he had just walked into a trap but knew he had to continue regardless until he found his parents. They had to be all right, they just had to be.

In the dense woods behind the Elgin’s home the binoculars left the dark emotionless eyes and were placed purposely on the dirt. He didn’t expect Austin to arrive so quickly but the final result would be the same. A steady hand picked up the square metal box and with a triumphant smile depressed the small red button knowing his target had just entered the structure below him.

Oscar pointed the car up the narrow dirt road toward the Elgin’s house, all three immediately noticed Steve’s car parked near the open front door. They were still 300-yards away when the well-maintained domicile exploded with a terrifying bang.

The slamming of the brakes caused the car to skid to an abrupt stop with small debris raining down around them. The vehicle’s occupants lost their breath at the scene before them. Most of the windows on the side and back of the residence were blown out, the roof partially gone. Flames licked hungrily at the substantial remains of the home. The fire truck and ambulance screeched to a halt behind them, men scattering to collect their tools.

Oscar, Rudy and Kayce jumped from their car with horror etched on their faces. The heavily equipped men were pulling hoses towards the structure to begin their attack on the flames. Kayce was numb, staring wide-eyed at the scene before her. She began taking small tentative steps across the grass towards the house when Rudy’s arm fell upon her shoulders, holding her still. The two men shared a concerned glance as Oscar stepped to the opposite side of the woman in shock. Neither man knew if their words could keep the young woman from making a bionic run into the burning structure. Both heard the quiet words as they left her mouth, “He can’t be in there. He just can’t.”


Two male paramedics, one blonde and one redhead, approached the trio inquiring if anyone was inside the home when it exploded. Kayce opened her mouth to answer when another smaller explosion occurred effectively destroying the front windows and what remained of the roof.

Steve was able to stagger to his feet after the first explosion threw him against an interior wall and falling debris lit his clothing on fire. His head throbbed with intense pain but he continued his attempt to get to his parent’s bedroom, knowing they would have been asleep this early in the morning. The air surrounding him was hot causing his throat to burn, his chest to tighten and his eyes to tear. He patted his shirt to smolder the flames. Suddenly the second blast lifted him off his feet and propelled him through the front window. Everything went black before he hit the grassy lawn. Kayce’s eyes widened as she screamed, “STEVE!!!!”

All three ran to the prone, burning body quivering on the ground. Rudy dropped to his knees on Steve’s left side as the paramedics took positions on his right and at his head. Two worked together to put out the smoldering shirt, the third opening the supply cases to prepare for treatment. The doctor eyed the burns that covered Steve’s chest and abdomen. After spending years as a flight surgeon he was very familiar with the treatment of burns and shut down his emotions to get done what needed to be done.

After explaining he was a trauma surgeon the paramedics waited for his orders. Rudy and the blonde medic carefully began pulling the smoking fabric from Steve flesh with their fingertips. Most of the material was removed easily, the buttons already melted by the heat of the fire. The few pieces of fabric not readily yielding to their gentle tugs were cut away by a sterile scalpel.

Standing at Steve’s feet Oscar held a shaking Kayce close to him staring in disbelief at the patient, his body trembling from intense pain and shock. Rudy ordered the red-haired paramedic at Steve’s head to start an IV in his neck and to monitor his breathing pattern.

With the shirt removed the blonde medic began dousing the charred, blistered skin and raw flesh on his chest and abdomen with a saline solution before adding a mesh covering. The goal was to get the wounds as clean as possible and keep them clean until they got their critically injured patient to the hospital.

Rudy was busy checking Steve’s vital signs and covering the large gash that was seeping blood from his temple. The laceration was obviously received from his exit through the large bay window.

Both Steve’s hands and forearms were also burned. The paramedic dressing the torso looked in horror at the exposed wires and circuitry in the hand and forearm that was now visible. Rudy caught his expression and said calmly, “Just wrap it with gauze.” The medic nodded and did as requested while Rudy began dressing the left hand.

Suddenly Steve began gasping for air. Rudy had been expecting this and reached into the drug kit to retrieve a syringe and sedative. He heard the young paramedic’s confirmation, “He’s going into respiratory distress.” While he reached into a box to retrieve a tracheal tube the doctor assessed his options, “Get that tube into his throat quickly. His trachea is swelling shut from the intense hot air he inhaled. I don’t want to have to cut into his throat.”

The young man moved immediately to skillfully force the plastic tube down Steve’s burned air passage and Rudy injected him with a mild sedative to keep him calm, he couldn’t give him anything stronger until his head injury was assessed. Slowly the tremors in Steve’s left arm and torso calmed to twitches. After taking a deep breath Rudy ordered the unconscious patient moved to the gurney.

Oscar left Kayce for a few moments to have a short conversation with the fire chief. It was confirmed that two unidentified bodies were found in the burning structure. Oscar accepted the grisly responsibility of identifying the remains and was escorted to the two body bags on the side lawn. He looked down after the zippers were opened and was surprised, even a little relieved, that neither one was badly burned. ‘Must have died from smoke inhalation,’ he thought. After nodding to the chief he provided the phone number where he could be reached and told the fireman he would notify the family members.

Kayce silently watched the men slide the gurney into the waiting ambulance. Rudy strongly suggested she ride with Oscar to the medical center. She nodded with tears streaming down her cheeks and stepped back allowing the rear door to close.


Once arriving at the medical center there was more work to be done. Steve was put on a ventilator to assist his damaged lungs in oxygenating his body without any effort on his part. His wounds were being debrided and redressed. Once his head wound was deemed not serious Steve was heavily sedated and his head wound closed with eight sutures.

Out in the waiting room Kayce paced the small tiled floor alone after Oscar left to make a very important call. He was heavy hearted as he requested Jaime’s presence at the hospital. He left out the horrid details, wanting to tell her of the Elgin’s deaths in person. Goldman merely explained Steve had been injured and he needed her there. She immediately headed to the medical center and Oscar hoped she didn’t see or hear any news on the TV or radio before he spoke with her.

Steve was still being treated when Rudy went to meet with Oscar and Kayce. He approached Kayce when both their attention was drawn down the hallway where Jaime was sobbing in Oscar’s arms. Rudy’s heart went out to the woman who just lost a second set of parents in another sudden tragedy. The doctor stood silent until Oscar had calmed the young woman and escorted her to where Kayce waited patiently to hear news about her injured husband.

With three sets of tired and saddened eyes on him the doctor explained his patient’s condition. Listed in serious but stable condition, the burns Steve received varied from first degree on his face and neck to second and third degree on his chest and abdomen. The physician explained the need for the ventilator and further explained the swelling of Steve’s throat. Kayce asked about the head wound and was assured it was a mild concussion and would not cause any lasting damage.

The question-answer session was swiftly interrupted by an urgent call from the white-capped nurse leaning out of the doorway, “Dr. Wells we need you!” Rudy moved immediately to the trauma room to find Steve struggling against the caring hands of the medical staff while they were attempting to finish debriding his wounds. The pain was almost unbearable and a semi-conscious Steve was instantly panicked that he had fallen into the wrong hands.

Suddenly remembering Steve recent half-joking confession of how terrifying it was anytime he regained consciousness, whether from being injured on a mission, in an accident or being kidnapped. He explained to the doctor that as he comes to he immediately tries to assess if he is in friendly hands or the hands of an enemy.

The physician leaned over Steve with a comforting hand on each side of his face. The trachea tube was still in his throat allowing pure oxygen to enter his lungs. The doctor then turned his head to look over his shoulder and ordered the nurse to stop what she was doing, stop the painful procedure of cutting away the charred and damaged skin and flesh. She halted her movements instantly.

“Steve clam down…its okay…you’re safe. Calm down… calm down. Try to relax…that’s it…that’s it.” Steve’s glassy half open eyes tried their best to focus on the familiar form over him. He instantly recognized the voice and followed its simple instructions.

“Steve you need to relax and stop fighting the sedative I gave you. Okay? Just relax and sleep. We’ll talk about what happened later. Everything is going to be okay.” Relief slowly rolled through his tired body seeing Steve’s eyes slowly close, his heart rate regulated, and his body going limp. Rudy lifted his right eyelid to confirm he was unconscious before nodding for the nurse to continue her task.

Rudy turned to see a pale Kayce at the doorway. He took her outside until Steve’s wounds were finished being treated, not wanting to subject her to such torturous procedures. It would only be another half hour when he led Kayce to Steve. Jaime, sitting in the waiting room, was fighting an intense need to be with her only living family member, a man she desperately loved. She was heartbroken that she had to wait but understood. Oscar comforted her as best he could while they waited.


Kayce stood at Steve’s bedside feeling helpless. He was lying flat on the bed with the tube taped to his mouth. His chest, stomach and hands were covered in white bandages. She stroked his face and ran a hand through his hair feeling the heat coming from him. “He feels hot.” She informed the quiet doctor.

“It okay, it’s just from the burns. His body’s metabolism is increasing. In fact it will double, maybe even triple, as the burns heal.”

“So he’s going to be okay?” She looked at her brown-eyed friend waiting for his answer.

“I think he will recover in time. Kayce I have to be honest with you. It’s going to be a long and painful process. Along with the physical discomfort he is going to be hurting deeply over the death of his parents.”

Kayce’s gaze returned to the tanned face of her husband, which now had a reddish tone from the heat of the fire that extended down his neck to the white bandage “He’s going to blame himself. I have no doubt about that.” Her eyes teared up at the thought of telling him the news.

“I can tell him for you if you want.”

“No. I’ll tell him.” She gave the doctor a weak smile. “I just have to find the right way to do it.” She let out a heavy sigh and asked, “What about his hands?”

“I’ll repair his right hand in day or so. The damage was mostly superficial and cosmetic. The sensitive touch receptors were damaged. I’ll have to replace them along with the hard shell and plastiskin. I want him to have use of at least one hand when he wakes up.”

“I’m sure he will appreciate it even if he doesn’t say so. You know how much he hates to be dependent on other people especially when it comes to his personal needs.”

Rudy nodded in agreement. “Is it alright if I bring Jaime in to see him?” He watched Kayce’s head drop slightly and she hesitated before nodding. “Okay. I’ll be right back.” Rudy led Oscar and Jaime into the room. They just stood and stared at the still figure in the bed. Jaime gave into her need to step closer. She didn’t try to stop the tears that slowly meandered down her cheeks. The room was quiet, each woman deep in their thoughts of the man between them, the man they both deeply loved.

Rudy knew nothing of what was lurking in the churning emotional undertow just below the surface of each young woman’s heart. He just took in the scene before him and felt an odd sensation come over him. He hoped the tension encompassing the trio was just his imagination. He would require the help of both of them to assist Steve in his recovery.