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Reason To Believe Part 2

written by Sammy




"C'mon, don't do this to me!" Billy pleaded desperately. "Don't do this to Rita and Zack!"

His gaze was fixed on the monitor that still flatlined.

"Call it!" the anesthesiologist demanded again.

"Billy!" Kate exclaimed. "He's dead."


Kate grabbed Billy's hands and forced him to stop.

"It's over, Billy!"

Billy stared at her for a while and then silently nodded. That was when a slow beat was heard from the monitor.

"I don't believe it, we have a heartbeat!" a nurse exclaimed.

"YES!" Billy exclaimed. "I knew you wouldn't sneak out like that!"

Chris' heartbeat slowly began to stabalize, so Billy closed the incision while Kate pushed the probe into the artery again. This time, she reached the clog without any complications and could clean the artery.

"I want him to be watched every second of the night." Kate ordered before Chris' body was pushed out of the OR.

"I am gonna stay with him." Billy said.

"No, you will go home. I will stay with him if necessary. I am on call anyway, and Sara is with one of her friends."

Billy smiled weakly as he pulled down his mask, "Thank you."

Then he turned to one of the nurses, "Does anybody know how the Blackhawks played?"

"Man, that was one of the best games I ever saw." a young doctor said as he wheeled in an unconsious patient. "They won 8-0."

Billy shortly looked at the guy lying on the gurney.

"Isn't that Rod Brind'amour?"

"Oh yeah! Dr. McNeill has to set his knee. He sort of fell over Weinrich's stick and flew right into the boards." The young doctor leaned closer to Billy. "If you ask me, Weinrich cross-checked him big time!"

"Boy, this night can't get any better!"

The apartment was dark when Billy returned. He hung his coat up and went to the living room, where he found Diane and Rita sitting in the dark. Rita looked up at Billy, and from the look she gave him, he could tell that Diane had told her.

"Don't worry." Billy appeased her. "He's doing fine now."

"What happened to Chris?" Rita asked impatiently.

"He went into cardiac arrest after a clog clogged his artery. We did surgery and cleaned the artery. He's doing fine now."

"How could that happen?"

"That's the risk of every operation. Kate is staying with him over night. You should get some sleep now. We all could need some sleep."

Rita nodded shortly. Diane hugged her before she followed Billy to their bedroom. Emily was lying in the middle of the bed, snoring softly. Billy sat down on the bed and gently stroked his daughter's hair.

"What's she doing here? I thought you said it was better she didn't sleep with us."

"I put Zachary down in Emily's crib. Rita was so restless, and Zack needed sleep." Diane sat down on the bed as well. She pulled her shirt off. "And now you will tell me what really happened to Chris."

Billy pulled his gloves off and threw them away when the boy he had just checked out was brought upstairs to x-ray. He left the cabin and spotted Dr. Keith Wilkes a couple of yards away. He was on his way over to him when Diane joined him.

"Billy, can I talk to you for a minute?" she asked.

"5 minutes, Diane, I just need to ask Keith something."

He left Diane behind and joined Keith at the counter.

"Keith, you got a minute for me?"

"Make it short."

"Uhm, I don't know how to ask this, but..."

Keith interrupted Billy immediately, "I told you to make it short. If you want a day off, I told you I couldn't give you one at the moment. I don't have enough staff to work in the ER as it is."

"No, it's not that. I wanted to ask you something about your son."

Keith placed the file he was writing in aside and looked up at Billy.

"What is with Raymond?"

"Nothing, really, I was just wondering..." Billy paused for a moment. "Look, there was this guy from Mercy Kate and I did surgery on 3 days ago. His wife and son came with him, and all they had with them were the clothes they were wearing. I was wondering if you kept some old clothes of your son's you could lend us."

Keith sighed, "How old is the boy?"

"2 and a half. Please, I have no one else I can ask."

"What do you want from me now? Call my wife and ask her about the clothes?"

"If you could..."

"All right, I will call her, but I can't promise anything."

Keith left to make the phone call when Diane joined Billy at the counter.

"What did you and Keith talk about?"

"Ah, nothing important." Billy turned and leaned against the counter with his back. "So, you needed to talk to me about something?"

"Yeah, I do. I thought a little bit about Rita and Zachary. All their belongings are in Boston. They don't even have their clothes here. I think Rita and I should fly back to Boston to get their stuff here. She'll need it."

Billy just smiled and brushed a strand of Diane's hair out of her face, "Do you wanna know what I just asked Keith? If he could borrow us some old clothes his son doesn't fit in anymore for Zachary."

Diane just smiled as Keith returned to them.

"I called my wife. She'll bring some clothes over after she's picked up Raymond from school."

"Thank you."

"You owe me something." Keith uttered and walked off as he saw the paramedics coming in with a new patient.

"Uhm, what did you say about flying to Boston?" Billy asked and turned back to his wife.

"I just said that I think I should fly back to Boston with Rita to get their stuff here. Chris will stay here at least another month before he can go to a rehab center. It can't go on like this."

"You are right. I will talk to Rita about it later, or do you wanna do it?"

"I would love to, but I have a meeting with a paediatrician this afternoon."

"What? Why? And who?"

"I want Emily to be checked out by someone else than just you, you are biased, my friend. And don't worry, I only chose the best. Lisa made an appointment for me with one of her friends from med school, Dr. Michael Frederikson. Does that name sound familiar?"

"Very familiar. Okay, I need to get back. See you later, alligator."

Diane chuckled as Billy placed a kiss on her forehead, "For awhile, crocodile."

"You're getting better each day!"

Rita stood in the cafeteria. The tray with lunch for Zachary and her was standing in front of her, and she was about to pay for it with her credit card when the cashier handed her the card back.

"What do you mean by the card is not accepted?" Rita asked and placed Zachary down on the ground next to her.

"Just what it says, the card is not accepted."

"Could you run it again, please?"

"Miss, I already ran it through the machine three times. It always said it's not accepted. You have to pay cash for that."

Rita sighed and searched her pockets for money. She feared she hadn't enough money with her, which was the case. To top it off, Zachary began to pull at her leg and wanted to be picked up. He began to whine.

"Miss, can you pay for it or not?" the cashier asked annoyed, seeing that the line behind Rita was growing longer and longer.

"I, ugh..."

"How much?" a voice behind Rita asked.

She turned and saw Billy standing her. He handed the cashier a couple of bills and grabbed the tray so Rita could pick up her son.

"Thank you, I will pay you back." Rita mumbled as they sat down at an empty table.

"I don't mean to be rude but how are you paying for all this?"

"Good question."

Rita sat Zachary on the empty chair next to her and pushed his orange juice and his lunch over the table.

"Chris and I had saved a little money, that's what I was living from at the beginning, but Chris' medical treatment grew more and more expensive, so I started working as a freelance nurse at Mercy. It wasn't paid well, but that way I had a place for Zack to stay in the nursery and to be near Chris. We are always running short on money. This was not the first time my credit card wasn't accepted."

"If you want I could ask if you can start working as a freelance nurse here if you want. The hospital is always looking for good people."

Rita smiled weakly over the table, "Thank you."

"And till you have arranged your financial problems, you and your son will stay with Diane and me."

"No, no, no, we can't ask for that. I will find a way to pay for a place for us to stay."

"No way." Billy insisted. "Emily can sleep with Diane and me, so Zachary can sleep in Emily's crib. You have the couch."

"Then please let me pay you for your hospitality."

"Two words, no way!"


A beeper went off. Billy pulled it out of his pocket and looked at who was paging him.

"God, I hate those things." he muttered and placed his beeper back.

"I can relate to that." Rita chuckled.

"I need to go. We'll talk later."

Diane and Rita kneeled in front of the bathtub. Zachary sat inside, splashing the water over to Emily, who sat in her plastic chair opposite him.

"A ducky for Emily!" he exclaimed and pushed the yellow rubber duck over the water in Emily's direction.

Emily's tiny hands reached for it and she was about to put it into her mouth when Diane took it out of her hands.

"I think you guys had enough now. Time for you to get out."

Both Diane and Rita reached for the towels next to them, wrapped their children into them and took them out of the bathtub.

"Now there, daddy will have a clean little girl when he gets home." Diane cooed at her daughter as she dryed her fuss of hair.

"Daddy gets home?" Zachary asked and looked up at his mother who was getting his clothes to get him dressed.

"No, honey, I am sorry. Your daddy won't come home. Emily's daddy, Billy, will come home."

"Not my daddy?"

Rita shook her head and sighed.

"Why Emily's daddy play wis Emily and my not?"

"Sweetie, remember that we talked about that so may times before? Your daddy is sick, really sick, and he first needs to get better before he can play with you."

Zachary didn't let go off this. He placed the towel Rita had handed him to hold on the ground and went over to Diane who had sat down her daughter on the edge of the tub to dress her.

"Emily play wis her daddy, why not my daddy play wis me?" he asked Diane. A pair of sad blue eyes was looking up at her.

"Hmm, let's see..." Diane frowned and rubbed her temple. "I think I know how to explain you this. Rita, would you take Emily for me?"

Rita silently took Emily in her arms. Then Diane grabbed Zachary's clothes from the ground and carried him to the bedroom. She sat him down on the bed and started to dress him completely.

"You know that your daddy is really sick, don't you?"

"Daddy's always sick."

"I know that he is always sick, and that you don't like that, but you have to see it that way... what does your mommy tell you when you are sick?"

Zachary rubbed the back of his head. This was a hard question, he never had been sick, at least he couldn't remember.

"Okay, you know that I am doctor. And doctors say that it is the best that you sleep really long to get better. Some people just sleep longer to get better, do you understand that?"

Zachary shook his head no.

"All right," Diane sighed, "another try. When your daddy would wake up now to play with you, he would hurt pretty much. He would be in a lot of pain. When he sleeps he doesn't feel the pain. And when the pain is gone, he will wake up and play with you."

"Daddy would huwt now?"

"Uh hum. That's why he is sleeping. I guess he wants to be completely healed when he wakes up so he can get up from his bed and play with you. Do you understand that?"

"He sleeps to get better."

"Exactly. You are a bright little boy, Zack."

Zachary waggled his finger and indicated for Diane to lean closer to him so he could whisper something in her ear, "I like you."

Diane just smiled and ruffled Zachary's hair.

The smell of Chinese food suddenly went through the apartment when the front door was opened and Billy shuffled in. He closed the door behind him and went to the kitchen where he placed the bag with the food on the table .

"Billy!" a small voice called. Zachary came running towards the table and climbed up on a chair. "Mmmm, dinner good!"

"So, you like Chinese, sport?"

"Mama like Chinese. Me too."

"Ah, your mama likes Chinese?" Billy chuckled and plucked Zachary from the chair. "Where is your mama?"

"She's here." Rita answered from the doorway. She leaned against the frame and crossed her arms in front of her.

"Here, this is for you, or better for Zack."

Billy handed Rita the bag he was carrying over his shoulder. Rita took it and opened the zipper. To her surprise, she found tons of old clothes inside. She looked up at Billy.

"I had a friend bring over some clothes from his son. I hope Zachary will fit into them."

"I don't know what to say..."

"Say wank you, mama!" Zachary exclaimed, rolled his eyes and shook his head.

Both Billy and Rita began to laugh.

A couple of minutes later, the table was laid and they were sitting at the table. Zachary dug into the box with the rice.

"I have some news for you, Rita." Billy said as he pushed the box with the Dim Sum over to his wife. "I talked to our medical director. You have a job at the hospital if you want."

"Really?" Rita uttered surprised. "I, ugh, I don't know what to say."

"Just say that you want it and it's yours."

"Wow, thank you!"

"And I have these for you."

Billy proceeded two airline tickets out of his pocket and laid them on the table.

"Boston roundtrip. You need to get your stuff here if you want to stay here any longer."

"No, Billy..." Rita interrupted him, but then was cut off by him, too, as he raised his hand.

"I have two tickets here, one for you and one for Diane. We talked about it earlier, and we think that you really should go back to Boston, even if it's only for a day. No one can say how long Chris has to stay in hospital right now. Sooner or later you have to go back to Boston."

"I just can't leave him here like that, not after all that had happened the last few days."

"It's only for one day." Billy reasoned. "I will take care of Zachary."

"Rita, Billy is right. You need to get back to Boston. All you had with you when you came to Chicago were the clothes you were wearing."

Rita knew exactly that both Billy and Diane were right, but she also knew she couldn't accept those tickets. They had done so much for her, Zachary and most of all Chris already.

"We're not gonna take a no as an answer, so?" Billy inquired.

"You have to understand me. I can't accept this."

"You need help, and Billy and I are willing to give you all the help you need." Diane reached for the tickets and pushed them over to Rita. "Accept it."

"You need help, Rita, and you know it."

"I don't feel good about it."

"You can pay us back later if you want."

"I'll take you on your word."

Rita and Diane sat in Phillip's office. They were talking about Rita's new job.

"Billy told me you have done this before." Phillip said and leaned back in his chair.

"I've done this in Mercy in Boston after my son was born. I worked in that job for a mere two years. I think I can say I have at least a little experience."

"Okay, I'll take your word on that. Diane, introduce Ms. Lance to Susan. She'll arrange anything further."

"Thanks, Phillip."

Diane and Rita left the office, and met with Susan. Diane shortly introduced them before she had to go back to the ER.

"You worked this before?" Susan asked and indicated Rita to follow her down the corridor.

"Yeah, I've done it before. I know what to do."

"All right. I will show you around then. You can start working Monday then if you want."

Susan let Rita into Matt Anderson's room where she checked the IV. She was just about finishing to attach a new one, when someone called for assistant in the room next door. Susan handed the IV to Rita and told her to attach it. Rita was startled for a moment. Well, that was something she'd never done before.

"Hey, even I know how to do that." Matt said annoyed and grabbed the IV out of Rita's hand. He plugged the tube into the needle and hang it up next to his bed.

"You new here, huh?"

"Yeah, that you may say."

"I tell you, better never get sick and come into Chicago Hope."

"Why's that?" Rita asked curious.

"Well, they tell you they have a heart for you and then they give it to someone else..."

Rita bit her lower lip. She knew who this was, Billy's friend Matt.

"My... my husband is here in intensive care." she started reluctantly. "He's suffering from a heart disease."

"Ah, you came in here because of Dr. Austin? At least I can say she knows what she does. That's something you can't say about some other doctors in here."

"He got a heart transplant 3 days ago."

Matt's eyes grew wide. This woman had the nerve to come in to talk with him, knowing fully well that the heart her husband got what his?

"What do you want from me now?" he snapped.

"Nothing, really, I was just told to..." Rita paused for a moment. "I am sorry for how everything went. My husband waited three years for this heart, three years we spent in a hospital, day in day out. We have a little 2-year old son, and he's never seen him. I know how you treated Billy because of what he did, and all I can say is that he is a good doctor and that I am very lucky to have him as a friend. You are so selfish. You are alive, and you will live till they get a new heart for you. My husband certainly wouldn't have survived even another day!"

Rita turned and hurried out of the room, leaving Matt behind thinking.

"Do you remember what mommy told you?" Rita asked her son again as she closed the zipper of his coat.

Zachary nodded, "Wanna go wis you."

"I am sorry, champ, but you can't go with me. Diane will go with me. And you will stay here with Billy and Emily and be a good boy, all right?"

Zachary tilted his head to his side and flashed his best puppy look. God, how Rita hated that! He was almost irresistable when he did that, just like his father.

"Look, I will be back by tomorrow night, I promise. I won't be gone that long."


"Zack, I can't take you with me. Please, don't make it any harder for mommy."

She plucked him from the ground and left the nursery. Billy and Diane were already waiting for her down in the waiting room of the ER.

"I don't think I should take Zack to the airport." she said.

"Okay. You take a cab and I will take the kids home."

Billy took Zachary out of Rita's arms.

"Billy will take good care of you. And you be a nice boy and don't throw any tantrums, all right?"

Zachary nodded silently.

"Mommy will bring you your bunny back, I promise."

Rita shortly ruffled her son's hair and kissed him on his forehead before she and Diane left the waiting room to catch a cab outside.

"Okay, what do we guys wanna do tonight?" Billy asked and grabbed Emily in her car seat from the ground. "What do you think, Zack, we will tug in Emily really early and have a men's night... you and me watching hockey videos and eating popcorn?"

Zachary frowned, "Hockey?"

"Geez, you don't know what hockey is? Then it's time for me to show you."

Zachary sat on the couch, a half empty bowl of popcorn resting between him and Billy, and threw his arms in the air.

"YAY!" he yelled as the sound of a hockey goal sounded from the TV.

"Sport, that's the wrong team!" Billy chuckled as the telephone began to ring. He bent over and reached for the receiver. It was Diane.

"Hey babydoll, how is Boston?"

"Damn cold, foggy and snowy. How are the kids?"

Billy shortly looked over at Zachary and indicated him to be silent for a moment.

"Emily and Zachary are both sound asleep."

"You watching hockey videos?"

Billy grimaced, "Tell me, when will you be back tomorrow?"

"We made reservations for the 6:45 flight back. We'll be at O'Hare around 8:30pm. So be there in time to pick us up."

"I will, don't worry. Where can I reach you?"

"There's no phone here. Look, I need to go. Promise me to give Emily a kiss goodnight from me when you check on her."

"Sure. Talk to you later."

Billy hung up and turned back to Zachary who had dug into the bowl of popcorn with his two hands.

"Don't you wanna leave at least a little of that popcorn for me, sport?"

"Uh uh, all mine!"

Billy just chuckled as he watched Zachary clutching the bowl to his chest.

"What do you think about the two of us playing hockey tomorrow morning?"

Zachary's eyes grew wide. He placed the bowl aside and crawled over to Billy, nodding his head. Then he placed a big wet kiss on his cheek.

"I like you."

The ice stadium wasn't very crowded when Billy entered. He had a bag with his hockey stuff over his left shoulder and was carrying Emily's seat in his left hand. Zachary was walking by his side. He placed the bag and Emily down on an empty spot.

"Zachary, you will sit her and have an eye on Emily while I go get you a pair of skates, all right? I will have an eye on you!"

With that, Billy walked over to the counter to rent a pair of ice skates for Zachary. He always kept an eye on the kids, and was really surprised to see that Zachary did what he had told him. When he returned, he had a pair of blue skates in his hands.

"Let's see if you fit into them."

He slipped off Zachary's shoes and put the skates on. He fit into them perfectly. Then he got his own skates out of his bag and put them on. Emily had drifted off to sleep, so he left her in her seat. From the ice, he would always have an eye on her.

Billy plucked Zachary from the bench and carried him over to the ice. He skated a couple of yards away from the entrance and then stood Zachary on his feet. The boy immediately realized that the ice was very slippery.

"Just keep on to my hands and nothing will happen to you."

Billy slowly began to skate around the ice. Zachary stood between his feet, and Billy always pushed him forward. At first Zachary didn't like it that much, but after a while he began to enjoy it.

"Fun, Billy!" he shouted and let go off Billy's hand, thinking he could skate alone now... but he immediately sat on his bottom.

"Ow!" he exclaimed and tried to get up, but the ice was too slippery. Billy bent down and picked him up.

"You like this?"

Zachary nodded his head frantically, so Billy placed him down and gently pushed him over the ice again. He began to wonder if Emily ever would share his interests, too, when she'd be older. He felt so great teaching all he knew to this child.

"Shall we go back and see how Emily is doing?"

"No, no, no, wanna stay."

"We'll go back on the ice in a minute."

Billy guided Zachary to the entrance and lifted him on his arm. He had just placed him down next to his still sleeping daughter when his beeper went off.

"Dammit!" he exclaimed.

He reached for his beeper to see who was paging him. It was Kate Austin. So he sat down and slipped his skates off.

"What you doing?" Zachary asked, his eyes growing wider and wider.

"I am called to work. We have to go."

"No!" Zachary whined and tried to stop Billy from slipping his skates off.

"There's no other way, I am sorry, sport. We have to leave. I promise you we'll do this again soon."

Zachary let out a loud wail, causing Emily to wake up. She cast her eyes around, and not knowing where she was, began to cry as well.

"Not going, not going!" Zachary repeated over and over when Billy carried him towards his car.

"Tough, we need to go."

Billy met with Kate in the ER already. Zachary was still sobbing and hiccuping, but Emily finally had calmed down.

"What happened to him?" Kate asked and followed Billy to the elevator.

"We were just ice skating when you paged me. He kind of liked it, and didn't want to go. So, why did you page me?"

"We have a heart for Mr. Anderson. He's on his way into surgery right now. I want you to assist me."

"Wait a moment, Matt said it loud and clear that he didn't want me to do surgery on him."

"He specially asked for you."

"He did what?"

Billy stepped into the elevator and pressed the button for the 3rd floor, while Kate pressed the button for the 2nd floor.

"I will take the kids to the nursery and meet you in the OR in 15 minutes."

"Make it 10."

Billy had already dressed and walked into the small room where Matt was waiting to go into surgery.

"Why did you ask for me?" Billy asked and stopped next to Matt's bed.

"I made a mistake. I am sorry." Matt took a deep breath before he went on. "I talked to this guy's wife yesterday. I was selfish. I know you only did your job, and I overreacted, but you have to understand me, you guys played with my life."

"You'll get your heart now."

Without saying anything, Matt raised his hand and extended it into Billy's direction. Billy took it.

"We need to get you ready for surgery now. When you wake up, you'll have your new heart."

"Thank you."

Billy smiled, though he knew Matt couldn't see it because of the mask he was wearing. He patted his hand and let go off it before he went to get scrubbed.

It was already past 3pm when Billy came out of surgery. There were no complications during Matt's surgery, and he was on his way to intensive care now. His stomach began to growl since he had skipped lunch. So he decided to pick up Zachary and Emily, head to the cafeteria to get something to eat and then head home. He was on call only anyway, so there was no reason to stick around in hospital any longer.

20 minutes later he had showered, had picked up the kids from the nursery and was on the way home, when he decided to shortly check on Matt's condition. He stopped at the counter and reached for his chart, where the lasted stats had to be written down.

"Want one, want one, want one!" Zachary trembled impatiently as he saw an OP mask lying on one of the counters.

"What? This one?" Billy asked. he placed Matt's chart away and grabbed the mask, showing it to the young boy bouncing next to him.

"Gimme, gimme!"

Zachary reached for the mask. But he wasn't the only one who did. Emily, who was sitting on her father's arm, hence nearer to the mask than the toddler, reached her tiny arms out and immediately had the mask in her hands. She was about to put it into her mouth when Billy took it out of her hands.

"No, no, that's nothing to eat." he laughed.

He bent down and sat Emily on his knee. He had her pinned to his body between his arms when he pulled the mask over Zachary's face.

"Doc Sacky!" the boy giggled. "Make daddy better."

"Yeah, that's right."

Billy was about to reach for Zachary's hand to lead him back to the nursery, when Dr. Russ stopped next to Billy, and started asking him about one of his cases. Zachary looked up at his baby sitter, and when he saw that he wasn't paying any attention at all, he took off down the corridor.

He toddled around the corner, humming some unidentifiable tune, and pulling the mask a little down as it always slided up and covered his eyes. Suddenly, he noticed where he was. That was the corridor that led to his father's room. He peered around the doorframe into every room, until he finally spotted Chris.

Zachary climbed on one of the chairs. He sat there for a couple of minutes, still humming the tune and playing with his fingers, when Chris suddenly began to get restless. His head slowly turned from one side to the other, and he began to open his eyes.

Zachary's eyes opened wide when he saw that. He tilted his head to his side and raised his eyebrows. Chris blinked back at him. He obviously didn't know where he was. His eyes darted around, in search for some adult in the room, not to say a doctor. He wanted to cough, but since he was still hooked up to a respirator he couldn't.

"Uh oh!" Zachary mumbled.

He turned to climb down from the chair when he caught Billy rushing down the corridor. Billy had caught a glimpse of dark hair in Chris' room before he rushed inside.

"Hey sport, you can't just take off like that! This is a hospital, and you should be in the nursery." he scolded at him and lifted him on his right arm.

"Daddy, da..." Zachary exclaimed, but was cut off by Emily who smacked him right across his face with her tiny hand before she started pulling at Billy's stethoscope.

Zachary began to whine immediately. He pulled his mask down and was about to hit Emily back, when Billy interferred.

"No one is hitting anybody here. Back to the nursery with you guys."

Billy turned for the door when he finally noticed that his patient was awake. Frantically, he turned back and sat both Zachary and Emily down in one of the chairs. Then he hit the nurse's button before Chris had his attention.

"Mr. Lorenzo, can you hear me?" he asked as he checked his eyes with a light. He didn't get any other reaction than Chris' eyes following his actions.

"If you can hear me, blink with your eyes."

Chris slowly closed his eyes and opened it again.

"Good, very good. You are in Chicago Hope hospital. You received a lung and heart transplant 5 days ago."

A nurse, followed by Kate, rushed into the room.

"He's awake?" Kate asked disbelieving, stopping on the other side of the bed.

"He awoke a couple of minutes ago."

Kate went to check all the machines Chris was hooked up to. Everything was more than just fine, it was excellent.

"We should take him off the respirator." Billy suggested.

Kate just nodded, "Mr. Lorenzo, I will pull out the respirator now. This will feel like fire in your throat for a moment. If you relax your muscles, it will go easy. I will count to three. One... two... three."

At three, Kate pulled out the respirator. Chris had to cough immediately. Billy moistened his dry mouth with water immidiately.

"Sam..." Chris tried to say, but all that came out was a raspy whisper, so he tried again. This time, both Kate and Billy understood.

"Sam? Who is Sam?" Kate asked as she looked up at Billy.

He just shrugged his shoulders, "I don't know."

Kate put a smile on her face as she turned back to Chris, "Mr. Lorenzo, your body is still affected from surgery. You need to sleep."

"Sam, Sam, Sam..." Chris whispered again and again. He turned from one side to the other and got more and more restless.

"Shhh, everything is all right." Kate tried to appease him. "Give him Demerol."

Billy gave Chris the shot through his IV. You could practically see that Chris began to relax. His eyes flattered before he finally closed them and drifted to sleep. Suddenly, Billy felt someone tugging at his leg. He looked down and saw Zachary standing next to him.

"Daddy wake?" he asked as Billy scooped him from his feet.

"Yes. C'mon, I need to get you guys back to the nursery. Kate, you take care of him?"

"Sure. Take them downstairs."

Billy picked his daughter up and took them to the nursery. Then he tried to get a hold of both Diane and Rita, but since he had no idea where to reach them, he didn't have any luck.

Meanwhile in Boston. Rita and Diane were packing up the stuff in Rita's small apartment. Since most of the stuff still was packed in boxes, that wasn't very difficult. They had already packed up Rita's stuff, when they went to pack Zachary's stuff. A photo album lying in the drawer where Zachary's underwear was stored caught Diane's eyes. She pulled it out and opened it. On the first page, she found a photo of a man and a young girl.

"You found my photo album." Rita said as she walked up behind Diane.

"Is this you?"

"Yeah, me and my father. That was on my sixth birthday."

Diane flipped pages and found a couple more photos of Rita and her father, but not of her mother. At first, she wondered if she should ask about that or not. Finally, she did.

"I don't see your mother in any of these pictures."

"I don't know my real mother. She died at my birth. This here," Rita flipped pages and showed Diane a photo of her taken at her high school graduation together with her foster parents, "this is my foster mother. She's been like a real mother to me."

"You were raised in a foster home?"

"Yeah." Rita sighed. "My dad died when I was 7. I was shipped from one foster home to the next until I met the Lances. I felt really at home there, and they were good to me."

Diane couldn't suppress a chuckle, "I don't know my mother either, neither do I know my father. My mother gave me up for adoption when I was real little. I know that foster home stuff. You are handed from one home to the next, one being more horrifying than the other. I was 6 when I finally got adopted."

Realizing that they'd both maneuvered themselves into quite an awkward situation, so Diane quickly flipped pages. It was a picture of Chris and his grandma Rose. Chris obviously looked very proud on that photo, since he finally had grown taller than his grandma.

"Chris and his grandmother. She was everything to him."

Diane shortly looked over at Rita before she flipped pages again. Several photos of Chris and Rita followed, some of them showing them with friends, and with Harry and Frannie.

"Your parents-in-law? They look like real nice people to me."

"No." Rita said as she shook her head. "I mean, they are real nice people, but they are not Chris' parents. It's our Captain and his wife. They were good friends, like parents to Chris and me. I haven't seen them since all this happened to Chris."

Diane flipped over to the last page. The cover of the Palm Beach Daily with Chris and Rita's wedding photo was pinned on it, as well as a photo of newborn Zachary underneath it.

"Palm Beach Daily, is this where you are from? Florida?"

"Uh huh, sunshine state Florida."

"I guess the weather here is real horror then, huh? All the snow and stuff..."

"No, it's not that bad. The snow is not what I don't like, it's the cold!" Rita chuckled.

Diane giggled slightly and placed the album in one of the boxes before she closed it.

"We still have about 2 hours till we have to leave to catch the plane, do you think we'll finish this here?"

"We don't have much stuff. We have to drop off the boxes at the post office to ship them before we head off. I think we can take the three bags with us in the plane though."

"All right. I hope Billy didn't forget about calling for the storage room."

"You don't need to worry about that, Zachary and I will be out of your apartment as of tomorrow morning. The first thing I will do is look for a place for us."

"I told you already that you can stay around as long as you want. That's not gonna be a problem at all."

"I wouldn't feel very good if we stayed at your place any longer. I know we've caused so much trouble, and knowing how Zachary can be, he probably drove your husband to the funny farm already."

Diane just laughed and shook her head as she pulled one of the empty boxes near her and began filling it with Zachary's toys.

"OOOOOH! Biiiiiiig plane!" Zachary exclaimed totally impressed as Billy led him down the corridor of O'Hare airport to pick up Rita and Diane.

Zachary stopped midway in his tracks and pressed his nose against the glass to look outside.

"Zack, we needa hurry, we are really late." Billy said impatiently as he scooped the toddler from his feet and hurried down the corridor.

"STOP!" Zachary yelled when Emily began to pat his cheeks with her tiny hands. "Lemme down! Down me!"

Billy sighed and put the little boy on his feet. He gave him a stern look, letting him know that if he wasn't to hurry, he had to stay right where he was - alone. So Zachary skipped at Billy's side down the corridor.

The plane from Boston was delayed for 45 minutes due to an onboard-computer failure, so when Rita and Diane finally left the plane, Zachary dozed on one of the chairs, his head resting in Billy's lap, and sucking his thumb, while Emily had fallen asleep on her father's arm, drapped across his shoulder.

"Would someone free me from either this load please, I feel like a mule."

Both woman giggled as they placed the bags on the ground and lifted their children on their arms. Emily didn't even noticed she was now sleeping on her mother's arm, whereas Zachary awoke and rubbed his eyes.

"Shhhh, Mommy is here, sweetheart. Go back to sleep." Rita whispered to her son who placed his head on her shoulder and dozed off again.

"So, how was Boston?" Billy asked as she stretched and got up. He placed a tender kiss on Diane's lips before he grabbed the bags from the ground.

"Pretty cold." Diane replied as they started to walk off down the long corridor.

"Any news from Chris?"

Billy shifted the bags on his shoulders and bit his lower lip. Rita stopped and stared at him.

"What is it?" she asked, a touch of frighten in her voice.

"Ah, nothing to worry about, really. He's doing absolutely fine."

"Billy?!" Diane scolded at him, knowing exactly that he was hiding something, good or bad.

"All right, all right, I just thought that after such a long day you needed some rest, and if I told you, you'd probably head of to the hospital immediately." he argued, and paused, before he said, "He's awake."

"He's awake? Why didn't you tell me right away?" Rita exclaimed. She turned on her heels and hurried down the corridor as fast as she could, trying not to wake her son.

"She's right, why didn't you tell her, Billy?" Diane uttered sternly, heading after Rita to catch up with her.

"How should I? I had no idea where to reach you in Boston, as you didn't leave a number. I could have called the cavalery in, but I know you'd react the way you just did no matter what, so I didn't do it." he called after his wife, hurrying after her. "Diane, will you just stop for a moment so I can explain this to you?"

"You don't need to explain it to me, you need to explain it to Rita!" she snapped.

"Hell, he kept asking for someone called Sam!"

"And?" Diane shook her head, and called, "Rita, wait up!"

Rita shook her head shortly before she stopped and shifted Zachary on her other arm. Diane stopped next to her.

"I waited 3 years for this to happen, and now I wasn't there when he woke up, just great!" she muttered, trying to blink a tear back.

"C'mon, we'll get the bags and then take you to the hospital."

When Rita walked into Chris' room, she found him sleeping. The respirator was gone, and he seemed to snor softly. Rita pulled a chair next to her husband's bed and sat down. She reached for his hand and squeezed it softly. She brought it up to her mouth and kissed it softly, when Chris slowly opened his eyes.

"Sam." he whispered raspily.

"Hey Sam." Rita smiled, the tears trickling down her cheeks.


"I am just so happy to see you." she replied as she leaned in to kiss him tenderly. "How are you feeling?"

"Sore, but good. You are here."

Rita couldn't stop the tears trickling down her cheeks. Never in her whole life she'd been so happy. A sound from coming from the door made them both turn their heads.

"Rita?" Billy asked upon entering the room.

"We're returning home, I just wanted to know if you need something."

"No, no, I am all right. We are all right."

Billy nodded as he left the room. Rita had told him that she'd spent the night with Chris, but she wanted Diane and him to take Zachary home with them.

"Sam, how bad am I?"

"Pretty bad, but you'll be better in no time, trust me."

"No simple butt shot this time?"

Rita shook her head and chuckled, "Look, I have to get going, but I'll be back in like no time, all right?"

Chris shook his head, unable to say anything. Only raspy whispers came out of his mouth.

"I'll be back in like no time, don't worry."

She kissed Chris' hand, which was still locked with hers and let go off it before she left the room. She hurried down the corridor and caught up with Billy and Diane in front of the elevator.

"Billy, Diane, wait a moment!" she called when she saw that they were about to enter. "I thought about it. Leave Zachary with me. Chris is awake, and I want to introduce him to his son."

"Okay. But you call when you need something. I am on call anyway." Billy said as he gently pushed Zachary about a yard towards his mother.

"Thanks for everything you did for me, Zack and most of all Chris."

Billy and Diane just smiled as they backed into the elevator and the doors got closed. Rita sighed as she kneeled down next to her son.

"Daddy wake, hum?" he uttered and tucked his head to his side.

"Yeah, he is. Would you like to go see him?"

Zachary hesitated for a moment, but then nodded his head. He grabbed his mother's hand and toddled along her side to his father's room. They stopped in front when Kate walked around the corner, waving for Rita.

"Ms. Lance, I am glad to see you. I want to talk to you about your husband." she said, leading Rita away from Chris' room.

Riat sighed. The last few days she'd learned how persistent Kate could be. There was no way she could escape this conversation. She let go off Zachary's hand, when they stopped in front of the desk.

For a moment, Zachary stared up at the two walking women, and then did what he had done earlier that day already. He took off in direction of Chris' room. Without any hesitation he walked into the room and climbed on the chair Rita had pulled near the bed.

"Hi." he said as he leaned on the bed.

"Hi." Chris replied confused. "You lost?"

"Uh uh, visiting daddy."

"Ah, your daddy's sick, huh?"

"Uh huh, docs making better."

Chris turned his head to the door to see if someone was coming to pick up the toddler, but nobody did. He looked back at the boy, and studied him.

"Me is Sacky, daddy."

Chris raised his eyebrows. Did this boy just call him daddy? He knew that he and Rita had to have a child of their own, but this boy, he was too old!

Meanwhile, Rita had noticed that her son was missing. She was about to run into Chris' room, but stopped the moment she saw Zachary sitting at Chris' bedside. She leaned against the doorframe and watched them.

"Daddy?" Chris gasped.

"Daddy, silly." the boy chuckled.

"Tell me your name."


"No, your full name."

Zachary began to rub the back of his head.

"Sacky Lowenso?" he uttered unsure as he didn't know what Chris wanted to know.


"He's your son, Chris." Rita cut in from the door. She approached the bed and sat down on Chris' bed. "Our son. Zachary Christopher Lorenzo."

Chris blinked and closed his eyes for a moment. Was his mind playing tricks on him? This couldn't be, his child couldn't be that old already.

"Ah, how long was I out?" Chris asked and opened his eyes, shrugging his eyebrows.

"3 years." Rita replied. She lifted her son onto the bed next to her.

"3... ?!?" he gasped, his eyes following every move his son made.

Rita looked down at her son as well and stroked his dark hair. Then she nodded.

"He's a lot like you. He's stubborn, he has a mind of his own, he jumps from one adventure into the next, he's hard to keep track of..."

Chris wrinkled his nose, and was about to interrupt Rita, when the conversation turned into another direction.

"... and he's handsome, he makes me smile day in, day out when he puts that cute smile of his on his face... he's the love of my life. Like you."

Zachary looked back and forth between both his parents. He saw the tears welling in his mother's eyes, as well as in his father's.

"No, no, no, don't!" he said sternly, waggling his finger in the air.

He first turned to wipe his mother's tears away, and then leaned in to brush the tears out of the corner's of his father's eyes.

"Smile!" he finally demanded.

Both adults couldn't help but smile. This caused the boy to smile as well.

When Diane walked into Chris' room early next morning, she found the three of them asleep. Zachary was sleeping at Chris' side, his head resting on his shoulder. Rita had fallen asleep in the chair next to Chris' bed. Her hand was locked with his, and her head was resting on the bed only a couple of inches away from the locked hands.

Diane shook Rita slightly. She stirred and opened her eyes a moment later.

"Good morning." Diane smiled.

"Morning. What time is it?" Rita yawned as her glance wandered over to her husband and her son.

"Shortly before 8am. Care to join me for breakfast?"


Rita carefully picked her sleeping son up. She knew how he could be when he woke up after a night spent in hospital, and she didn't want him to be alone with Chris.

"How is Chris doing?"

"Are you the doctor or me?" Rita teased. "I think he's doing pretty good. He was a bit confused last night when I told him about Zachary, but I was so glad he finally met him."

"Does he remember?"

"You mean what happened? Yeah, I think he does."

They stepped into the elevator when Zachary began to stir on Rita's arm. He didn't wake up, but shifted his head.

"Rita, who is Sam?"

A smile played across Rita's face, "Chris gave me that nickname a long time ago. He used to call me that more often than he used my real name."

"Billy told me that was the first word he said, Sam."

They reached the cafeteria. They got themselves each a cup of coffee and muffins for breakfast.

"Diane, what happens now with Chris?"

"From what Billy told me I think he's in a very good condition. There seem to be no complications at all. He'll have to stay here a couple of more weeks and then it's better he goes to a rehab center. His chances are really good."

"Will he ever be like before he was shot?"

"You mean if he ever will be a cop again?" Diane shook her head, "No, I don't think so. You know better than me that being a cop is a high-risk job."

"Chris liked to box, and he loved playing basketball. Will he be able to do at least that again?"

"I think there's a pretty good chance he will do those things again, if he takes it slow. This heart will work like his own, and when the incision is completely healed, and he takes his medication regurlarly, he probably will be like he was before he was shot. The only thing he has to prevent is stress."

Rita smiled weakly when Diane's beeper went off. Diane reached for it and read the number on the display. She frowned.

"What is it?" Rita asked.

"Ah, nothing. ER is paging me, though I am not on call and my shift starts in 20 minutes. I have to get going. I will stop at Chris' room later."

"I will be there."

Diane left the Rita and Zachary at the table. Meanwhile, the little boy had woken up.

"Hey champ, you already up? It was a long night last night."

"Sleepy, mama."

"I know you are sleepy, sweetheart. Shall we go see if daddy shares his bed with you a little longer?"

Zachary sleepily nodded his head and put his thumb into his mouth. Rita tenderly stroked her son's hair and went back to Chris' room.

"Oh no, ask McNeil to do it!" Billy exclaimed half chuckling and raised his hands in the air.

"Why should I ask Jack to do it? I ask you. You are perfect!" Diane objected.

She pushed the swing door open and balanced the stack of files she had in her hands while Billy annoyingly walked next to her.

"I am not gonna do it, no way! Ask McNeil."

"C'mon Billy, you did it last year, and you were perfect. The kids liked it."

"Yeah, but I just did it cuz I wanted to surprise you, and not cuz of the kids. I don't wanna!" he whined.

"Tough, you will do it. Besides, you looked really sexy with that white beard."

Billy rolled his eyes. What did he do to deserve this? He grabbed half of the files out of Diane's hands as they were near falling down and placed them on the counter.

"Hear me saying, Diane. NO WAY! I am not gonna do it."

"Oh, you will, believe me!"

Diane grabbed a chart from the counter and walked away. Billy just shook his head when he caught Jack McNeil walking up to the counter.

"McNeil! McNeil, you need to do me a favor!" he called and met him half way.

"I don't think I need to do you a favor."

"Tell Diane you will play Santa for the children, please! She wants me to do it!"

Jack chuckled, "Why, as long as you are there, I don't need to do it."

A laughing Jack walked away, leaving Billy back at the counter. It looked like there really was no other choice for him than playing Santa. Last year had been an exception for Diane, but this year - there was no way he was gonna play Santa!

He thumbed through the files Diane had placed on the counter, when the phone behind the counter rang. As anybody else seemed to be more than just busy at the moment, he reached for it and answered.

"What?... Diane?... no, she's with one of her patients at the moment. Tell them to leave a number. She'll call back... From where? What the heck?!?... All right, put it through."

Billy walked around the counter and placed the receiver on the other side.

"This is Dr. Billy Kronk speaking. How may I help you?... Dr. Grad is just with one of her patients, but I will try the best to help you out... Yes, that's right, he's one of our patients... I am sorry, I am not allowed to tell you this... Okay, I will tell her to call you back as soon as possible."

Billy shook his head and walked away as the paramedics wheeled in a new patient. It was a police officer who had been shot in the abdomen. Blood was all over his body, so he called for help. The first to come was Diane.

They worked on the body for about 15 minutes before the officer was brought upstairs for surgery. Both Billy and Diane pulled off their gloves and threw them away.

"Oh, before I forget, you had a call from some guy from Palm Beach."

"Ah, when?"

"About half an hour ago I think. I told them you'd call back. What is this about?"

Diane walked over to the counter to tell Keith that she'd be gone for 5 minutes to make a phone call. Billy followed her.

"Kronk, I need you here!" Keith called after him.

"5 minutes, I'll be right back."

He pushed the door to the staircase open and rushed after Diane.

"Will you now tell me what this is about?" he asked again.

"Remember Rita told you they were from Palm Beach? She has friends there, friends she's never seen since Chris was shot. I thought it would be a nice Christmas present for them to invite them to Chicago."

"Girl, I like the way you think!"

After Diane had retrieved the phone number from her locker, she went to make the phone call in the doctor's lounge. Since Billy was still there, she put the phone on the speaker.

"Palm Beach Police Department, how may I help you?" a female voice on the other end said.

"This is Dr. Diane Grad, Chicago Hope hospital. May I speak to Captain Harry Lipschitz?"

"One moment please."

Music sounded from the phone while Diane was put through to Harry. It took only a couple of seconds until he answered the phone.

"Captain Harry Lipschitz, who am I talking to?"

"Dr. Diane Grad, Chicago Hope hospital. I left you a message to call me back because of one of our patients."

"Christopher Lorenzo?" Harry gasped. "How is he doing?"

"He was brought to Chicago Hope two weeks ago and received a heart transplant. He is doing pretty good now."

"What about his wife, Rita, and their child?"

"They arrived together with Chris. Look, Rita nor Chris has any idea I called you. Rita told me lots of stories about you and your wife, and I thought that maybe you would like to come to Chicago to see them again after such a long time - as kind of a Christmas surprise."

"Dr. Grad, you don't know what this call means to me. My wife and I were worrying about Rita. She had promised to keep in touch, but she never did. There's nothing in this world that could keep us from coming to Chicago."

"All right," Diane smiled, "just tell me when you will be here and someone will pick you up at the airport."

"I can call my wife right away and see if we can get a flight for today. I will leave you a message."


"Dr. Grad, thanks for calling me."

"You're welcome."

Diane hung up and looked up at Billy.

Chris was sitting in a wheelchair in his room. Zachary sat on his lap, and Chris was showing him a picture book.

"Tell me, what is this Zack?"

Zachary rubbed the top of his head as he studied the picture of a bat. It looked like a mouse, but only with wings.

"Mouse with wings?" he asked and looked up at Chris.

Chris chuckled, "Yeah, you can say that. It's a bat, Zack."

"What's this?" Zachary asked and pointed at the picture of a lamb.

"That's a lamb. You've never seen it before?"

Zachary shook his head. Then he turned the page. A page of a dog appeared.

"I know, I know!" Zachary exclaimed. "Gordie!"

"Gordie?" Chris asked.

"Gordie, Billy's doggy."

Chris closed the book and placed it on the table in his room. Then he sat Zachary down on the ground and pushed his wheelchair back to his bed. Zachary hopped over to the bed and climbed up. Just then Diane entered the room.

"Diane!" Zachary exclaimed.

He raised his arms, wanting to be picked up. Diane smiled and picked him up.

"We have a little Christmas party upstairs in the children ward this afternoon. I thought maybe you'd like to take Zachary there."

"Yeah, Santa, daddy!" Zachary laughed.

"You mean we can just come like that?" Chris asked.

"Sure. I will be there with Emily, too. And I talked to Rita earlier. When she's finished with her shift, she'll come down."

"Yeah, why not?"

Diane smiled. This went easier than she'd expected it to be. And she was glad, since she had a big surprise on store for Chris and Rita.

Billy pulled down the white beard for at least the 10th time now.

"I am not gonna do this. The beard is itching, and I don't get enough air to breath."

"Tough. You promised me you will do it. You are already dressed up, and all the children are waiting." Diane said annoyed as she gently pushed her husband towards the door of the doctor's lounge.

"You kinda ordered me to do this, babydoll."

"It's Emily's first Christmas, and she's already so excited about this."

"How can you say an 8 month old child is excited about this? She's also excited just when you lift her out of her crib."

"Stop sulking. You're all dressed up and ready to go."

Diane placed a quick kiss on her husband's lips before she pulled the beard up and finally shoved him out of the door.

Billy waddled down the corridor towards the children's ward where all the little patients where already waiting for Santa to arrive. He stopped outside the waiting room where everybody was waiting when he heard that the kids were still singing Christmas carols along with Jack, Lisa and Kate.

He sighed shortly and watched Diane entering the waiting room. She went over to the other end of the room where Chris and Rita were. She scooped her baby daughter out of Rita's arms anbd looked up to give Billy a wink with her eyes.

A loud "Ho ho ho" echoed through the room when Billy entered. Several children's mouthes dropped open, and lots of tiny eyes stared at Santa.

"Santa, that's the real Santa!" a little boy called excited as Billy sat down on a chair Jack had placed in the middle of the room.

"Everybody stand in line and wait to sit on Santa's lap to tell him what you want for Christmas." Kate kind of ordered and began to show the children where they had to wait.

Since everything was going longer than Billy had expected - he never knew children could wish for so many things for Christmas - he had two kids on his lap as the end of the line came nearer and nearer. The last two to sit on Santa's lap where Zachary and Emily.

Zachary climbed up on Billy's lap all by himself, while Emily didn't like being placed on her father's lap at all. She struggled and reached her arms out towards Diane, starting to whine.

"Hey Emmy pie, it's daddy, shhh." Billy whispered, trying to soothe his daughter.

The familiar voice made the little girl turn towards her father. She stared at him wide-eyed.

"That's fine. Okay guys, tell Santa what you want for Christmas."

"A doggy, Santa!" Zachary uttered and nodded.

Meanwhile, Emily had totally lost her fear of Santa. She extended her tiny hands and grabbed for the first thing she got a hold off - Billy's fake beard!

"BILLY!" Zachary exclaimed joyfully and raised his arms in the air.

The whole crowd in the room began to laugh. Diane had to bite her lower lip when she saw Billy's face when she went to pick up Emily. She turned and burst out laughing.

"Yeah, just laugh about that." Billy snapped and pulled his beard back up. Then he lifted Zachary from his knee and handed him over to his mother.

Rita's laughter disappeared the moment she turned towards the door of the waiting room and saw who was standing there. She sat Zachary down on the ground and slowly walked to the door.

"Cap, Fran?" she asked, sounding as if her eyes were playing tricks on her.

"Merry Christmas, doll." Frannie exclaimed joyfully while she hugged Rita.

"What are you doing here? And how did you find out where we were? And... and..."

"Slow, slow." Cap uttered and raised his hand. "Lorenzo?"

A wide smile broke out on Chris' face, "Yeah, Cap?"

"You didn't get my permission to leave, did you?"

Chris and Rita just laughed, shaking their heads. Suddenly, Rita felt someone tugging at her leg. She looked down and stared into her son's big blue eyes. With a smile on her face, she picked him up.

"Cap, Frannie, I'd like you to meet someone. Zachary, say hi to your g..." Rita paused for a moment before she said, "... grandparents."

Zachary studied the elderly couple standing in front of him. He didn't object at all when Frannie scooped him out of his mother's arms.

"You nice to Sacky, all wight?" Zachary said sternly and waggled his finger at Frannie.

"Yeah, that boy definitely is a Lorenzo." Cap chuckled as he brushed the boy's dark hair.

"Uh hum." Diane cleared her throat behind the now laughing persons. "I am Dr. Diane Grad. We talked on the phone."

Diane shifted Emily on her left side before she shook hands with Harry and Frannie.

"You called them? But how... ?!?"

"Remember you showed me that photo in your photo album? It wasn't hard to find out who was Captain in charge of Palm Beach PD homicide division."

"I was really surprised when you called." Harry began. "Until then, we hadn't heard even one word from Rita ever since she left Palm Beach. We were worried about you, and the baby. And then, finding out that Lorenzo here is still alive... we just couldn't do anything than come to Chicago."

"I am so glad you came. It's good to see you."

Rita went to hug Harry and Frannie again. After a few seconds, she pulled back and turned to Diane.

"Thanks for doing this for us. You and Billy, you've done so much already for us, things we never can repay you."

"Just be friends. That's all we can ask for."

Rita and Diane shared a smile, and shook hands.

"I am sorry I have to interrupt this small talk," Jack cut in the somewhat private conversation, "but this a Christmas party, this is fun for everyone, and not just you. And Diane, I guess your husband over there needs to get out of those clothes very fast!"

Billy stood a couple of feet away from them, scratching at his whole body. Finally, he pulled the beard off, and dropped the red coat to the ground.

"I am finished with this!" he exclaimed - and then realized that everybody, especially the children, was staring at him.

"Anybody wants to wear it?" he grinned sheepishly, picking the coat from the ground.

"I guess we have time for one final Christmas carol before you guys have to get back to your beds." Kate called and clapped her hands. "How about 'We wish you a Merry Christmas'?"

Since nobody objected, Kate and Lisa began to sing. Slowly, everybody joined in, and finally the whole room was singing. Little Zachary sung his own version of the song, while Frannie gently bounced him on his arm. Billy had placed his arm around Diane's shoulders, and absently stroked his daughter's hair, while Rita stood besides Chris' wheelchair and just observed the crowd together with her husband.

"Sam." Chris whispered and indicated Rita to bend down to him.

She did as she was told, and immediately felt her husband's hand behind her neck. He pulled her face close to his, and kissed her tenderly.

"Merry Christmas, Sammy."

"Merry Christmas, Sam."


The end

Standard Disclaimer: The characters of Chris Lorenzo, Rita Lee Lance, Harry and Frannie  Lipschitz belong to Stephen J. Cannell and USA Network. The characters of Drs. Billy Kronk, Diane Grad, Kate Austin, Keith Wilkes, Jack McNeil, Lisa Catera and Phillip Watters belong to David E. Kelley and CBS. All characters that never appeared on Silk Stalkings or Chicago Hope before belong to me. No infringement intended.

Thanks go to Kristiina for editing this for me. NO thanks go to my sis' computer cuz he just quit on her, humph!

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