Here's my answer to Jamie Randall's Head Injury challenge. At first I couldn't decide who to inflict this on, but then a wicked grin spread across my face as I realized that Tracy needed a good whack upside the head to hopefully knock some sense into her.

Tracy's Very Bad Day
By Judith Freudenthal
1995

Nick went to the abandoned church Vachon called home.

"Vachon. I have a job for you."

"What?"

"Tracy was injured by a hit and run driver." Nick saw Vachon's concerned expression and continued, "she'll be a bit sore for a while, but otherwise fine."

"What do you want me to do?" Vachon asked confused.

"I want you to look after her when she's released from the hospital in a day or two. She'd also like it if you'd visit."

Vachon nodded. "Why me?"

"She's your responsibility, remember. I'll be busy figuring out who did it to her."

"Why didn't you prevent this?"

"Because while I was out retrieving a report she took off on her own, without letting anyone know where she was going. I didn't hear about it until the Captain was giving me hell for letting her go."

"She can be a real handful."

At the hospital two days later Tracy was allowed out of bed. She almost lost her balance due to momentary dizziness. When she put weight on her left knee she realized that she must've banged it too and it threatened to give out on her, but decided just to send her a big jolt of pain instead. Her few bruised ribs sent their displeasure at being moved. Her head hurt and her left wrist was throbbing. Getting dressed was more of a challenge than she thought it would be.

Vachon arrived at the hospital to pick her up. He was a little surprised when he saw her. She had a removable splint supporting her sprained wrist and a gauze pad taped above her left eye, covering the six steri-strips closing the gash there. The gash ran from the middle of her eyebrow down onto her temple. She was a bit pale. Tracy packed her bags and could not wait to be home again. She really wanted to be released and did not want to be kept due to her dizziness and her headache so she hid it from the staff.

She was grateful when the nurse brought the wheelchair for her ride to freedom.

Vachon carried Tracy into her apartment. She had wanted to protest but didn't have the energy, besides she hurt too much to walk that far. He noticed her grimace everytime she moved.

"Which way to the bedroom?"

"The couch will be fine."

"The doctor said bedrest. Now which way?"

"Straight back, first room on the right."

Vachon gently set her down on the bed and helped her sit up while he piled the pillows behind her.

"Stay here while I get your prescriptions filled. I mean in bed," He said as he saw her expression. "You don't want to get me mad, do you?"

"No."

Shortly he returned with her medications. He brought her a glass of water so she could take them.

He found a couple more pillows around the place and used them to pad her sore knee and her injured wrist.

He made himself comfortable on the couch after fixing her drapes to protect himself from the rising sun.

Three days later Tracy had a severe case of cabin fever and was arguing with Vachon.

"I have to get up. My butt's killing me. I have to ...."

"The doctor said bedrest for minimum of three days. Besides I don't think you could walk across the room."

"Oh yeah? Keep this up and I might just find myself a stake."

"Very funny," He said sarcastically, hiding the grin he felt.

Tracy was determined to prove him wrong and stood up. The room spun, her stomach lurched and her head pounded.

Vachon was concerned.

"What did you expect. I haven't stood up except to use the bathroom. Back off."

Tracy was glad her knee felt better. She managed to make it to the door. A grin formed as she headed for the couch.

"I need a change of scenery. I'm going nuts cooped up in there."

"I want to see you on that couch in two minutes or I'm depositing you there personally."

Tracy reluctantly complied. She stretched out on the couch. Vachon retrieved her pillows and made her as comfortable as her sore body would allow.

There was a knock on the door. Vachon answered it, and motioned for Nick and Natalie to enter. They noticed that Tracy looked much better. The gauze bandage covering the gash was gone, exposing the steri-strips.

"I'll be back shortly." Vachon said as he took his chance to make a break for it.

"Hi, Tracy. How are you feeling?" Nick asked.

"Better. Still a little sore. Can I get you anything?"

"No. We just dropped by to see how you were doing. No word on the driver yet. The car was found abandonded, stripped and wiped clean. It was stolen the day before."

"Big surprise," Tracy said sarcastically. The room began to spin at near warp speed.

"You okay?" Nat asked, concerned.

"I'm okay."

Both Nick and Natalie could tell that Tracy was on some serious medication.

"I'll be back at work before you know it."

"You don't want to rush back and..." Nick said, unable to find the right word to finish the sentence.

"Reaggravate your injuries. You need to give them time to properly heal. When I originally injured my knee, I couldn't afford the time to let it heal. I was one of two women in my class at the time and couldn't let my professors think I was a wimp. I wish I had let it heal. It acted up at the wrong times, getting worse over the years."

"I have a similar problem."

"No one's going to think you're a wimp if you take the time to heal," Nick said. He didn't want to have to explain her death or his injury because she wasn't ready.

Three days later Tracy was about to head out the door when Vachon woke.

"Leaving so soon?" He asked, teasingly.

"I feel fine. I'm just going to my doctor's appointment. I'll be back." Tracy hid her slight headache and minor dizziness.

That evening Tracy was dressing for work. She saw Vachon waiting for her and blocking the door.

"Get out of my way. I was cleared by a doctor. It means I'm fine and can get back to work. I'm going to be late."

"Fine. Don't call me when you pass out on some street," he said tired of playing nursemaid. She had been nothing but a pain in the butt from day two and he was glad to be able to return home. He knew he still had to keep an eye on her.

That evening Tracy entered the precinct ready to work. The splint had been replaced prematurely by an ace bandage. The gash was nearly healed and with her bangs only the two or three steri strips on her temple showed. She put on her best smile as she sat down and started on her paperwork.

Reese saw her and approached.

"Before you get comfortable I need your clearance form."

Tracy handed it to him.

"What's that for?" Reese asked as he pointed to her wrist.

"Just a reminder so I don't overuse it for the next couple of days." She lied. Her wrist still hurt but she couldn't stand being home another hour.

"I want you to take it real easy tonight. I want you pulling desk duty for the next two days."

"Captain," she complained.

"It's that or a medical leave. Take your choice."

"I'll take the desk duty. At least I'll have something to do this way."

Later that evening Tracy looked up from the screen and her vision blurred.

"I'm going to see if Nat has the autopsy report yet. Want to come along?"

"No. I have paperwork to catch up on," She said, ignoring the lightheaded feeling. "Could you pick me up something to eat on the way back?"

"Sure. What do you want?"

"Anything."

Once Nick was gone she rubbed her eyes hoping that would help. It helped a little.

A short while later she was feeling better and headed out without telling anyone.

Tracy had a lead and went after the perp she had been hunting when she was run down. Unfortunately it turned out to be a dead end. She became lightheaded and nauseous and decided to return to the station.

Nick was working on a report when Tracy entered. He gave her a rather nasty look, knowing she had been out working.

"Your food's on the desk."

Tracy ate, ignoring how bad she felt. She knew that the food would help eleviate some of her symptoms.

Two nights later at the precinct Tracy stood too quickly and a strong wave of dizziness swept over her. She had to grab hold of the desk for support, hoping that no one noticed. Nick did.

"You ready?"

"For what?" Tracy asked.

"We were on our way to question Mr. Matheson. Are you okay?"

"I'm fine. Just a little hungry," Tracy said as she followed Nick out of the precinct, her head still spinning a little.

Nick drove through a fast food restaurant Tracy suggested.

"Nick, aren't you going to get something?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"I can't. I have several food allergies. Fast food isn't on my allowed diet."

"Too bad."

Tracy wolfed down her cheeseburger, fries and chocolate shake. Nick was not pleased to have her eating in his Caddie.

Tracy had no further problems that evening, much to her relief.

A couple of nights later Tracy entered the precinct for her shift all perky. The only outward evidence of her recent injuries was the thin pink scar running from the middle of left eyebrow partway down her temple.

"You ready for requalification?" Nick asked.

"Is that tonight? I had forgotten all about it. When are you due?" She asked, wondering if her wrist was up to it. It would have to be.

"Soon. I thought I'd get it over with," Nick said.

Tracy and Nick entered the shooting range and took their positions. First came the stationary target.

Tracy volunteered to go first. Most of her shots went into the head and chest areas. Two strayed into the lower point areas. She passed.

Nick was just about perfect. He purposely missed the bullseyes three times, but stayed in the high point area. He passed.

Tracy volunteered to go first for the moving target part because she felt a killer headache starting. She shot almost as well, loosing her concentration near the end as her head began to pound.

Nick was almost perfect again.

They both received their requalification paperwork and left.

After the caddie pulled out of the parking lot Nick asked, "you okay?"

"I just have a headache. I'll be fine."

"That place can give you one."

Tracy leaned her head back against the headrest and closed her eyes.

"Where to now?" She asked.

"I have to stop by the M.E.'s. I think Nat has some aspirin you can take."

Nick and Tracy entered Natalie's office. She looked up from her paperwork and saw them

"Hi guys, what brings you here?"

"Do you have some aspirin?" Nick asked, startling Natalie.

Natalie gave him a curious look.

"Requalification gave me a headache," Tracy said.

"How did you do?"

"Good. We both passed. I never realized how good a shot Nick is."

Natalie dug out her aspirins, handed them to Tracy with a cup of water.

"Thanks."

Tracy hoped they were strong enough to squash the killer headache. She felt like someone had stuck a knife into her brain.

"Any other reason for your visit?" Natalie asked, curious.

"Yes, to see if the Wilkinson report is finished."

"It will be in about 10 minutes. Care to wait?"

Nick looked at Tracy who nodded. She didn't want to get back into the car until her headache stopped. Bouncing along in the car did not help at all.

"Have a seat," Nat said with a grin, knowing that her empty autopsy table was the only seat in the house.

Nick sat on it without any problems and got a somewhat disgusted look from Tracy.

"What? There's no one here. It's clean," Nick said with a wicked grin.

Tracy reluctantly joined him because she needed to sit down.

Natalie hid her small grin, ignored them, and finished the report. She handed it to Nick.

"Here you go. How's the headache?"

"Better. Thanks." Tracy felt a little better but it still hurt quite a bit.

Nick took the report. "Tracy, I'll be right out."

Tracy took the hint and headed out for the car.

"How's she doing?" Natalie asked concerned.

"I don't think she's as well as she pretends. I caught her grabbing onto her desk when she stood the other day. If I say anything she'll just deny it, and try harder to pretend she's fine."

"It may take weeks or months before she really feels better. Try to get her to take it easy when she's not feeling well. Look after her."

"I will. Videos tomorrow?"

"Sounds good. Shall I pick them out?"

"Okay. No..."

"Okay. Besides I think we've seen them all," she said with a wicked grin.

Tracy went for the next week without any headaches, dizziness, lightheadedness or nausea. Nick found her a bit too cheery, even more so than she had been before the accident.

Tracy, Nick and Natalie arrived at a crime scene in the middle of their shifts. Tracy and Nick were examining the scene while Natalie examined the victim. Natalie approached them and began her report.

"The victim is a male, late forties, two stab wounds in the chest, no other signs of a struggle. I would guess death occurred about two hours ago. I'll know more once I get him on my table."

Nick and Tracy reentered the brightly lit precinct. Tracy suddenly felt like she'd been hit in the head with a 2 x 4. She tried to hide it, but Nick noticed.

"Don't we have someone to question?" She asked as Nick headed for his desk.

"No. Most people are asleep at this hour. Besides Reese threatened to chain us to our desks if we didn't catch up on our paperwork," Nick lied, he knew Tracy was dangerous out there when she was in as much pain as her eyes suggested.

Tracy wasn't sure if Nick was trying to baby her or if it was true. They were a bit behind. Staring at paperwork was the last thing she needed so she veered off towards the ladies room. She hated the fact that her prescriptions had been enough for that first week and that she was supposed to undergo another examination if she wanted more. She couldn't do that and remain a street cop.

Tracy entered an interrogation room, turned off the lights and found her way to the table. She sat down, leaned her arms on the table, and put her head into her arms, closed her eyes and waited for the pain to stop. She knew she only had a few minutes before Nick would get worried.

A few minutes later she approached her desk, the pain slightly less intense and started on her share of the paperwork, secretly grateful that they were staying put for a while.

About two hours later her vision began to blur, her headache had lessened to a dull throbbing. All she wanted to do was renew her prescription, which she couldn't do.

Reese had noticed her behavior lately and approached.

"Tracy, I want you pulling desk duty for the next week."

"Is this because we're behind in our paperwork?"

"No. Your other choice is a medical leave."

"I'll take the desk job," she said rather reluctantly.

Reese headed for his office. He had administration paperwork to do.

She had a lead she wanted to track down and started for the door.

"Where are you going?" Nick asked.

"I'm hungry. What would you like me to bring back?"

"Nothing. I'm not hungry," Nick said. He did not believe her, but was not going to spend all night baby-sitting her. She was an adult and he had paperwork to catch up on.

This went on for two days before Reese caught on. He approached her rather annoyed.

"Det. Vetter, I thought I made myself clear when I said you were assigned to desk duty. Since you don't seem capable of following orders I have no choice but to put you on medical leave for the next week. If I see you around here or if I hear about you working I will double it and possibly suspend you. Do you understand?"

"Yes, Captain."

"Nick, drive her home."

"I can get home on my own."

"I want to make sure home is where you go," Reese said.

Nick took her home and waited outside her building for a few minutes to make sure she didn't sneak right out. Tracy was too smart for that. She waited awhile before sneaking out the back door.

She hunted down another lead. She was determined to bring in the guy that had given her all these problems.

About a month later Nick and Natalie were talking in her office when Tracy entered. Tracy was suddenly hit by a intense wave of dizziness and had to grab onto Nat's desk for support. They noticed. Natalie helped her over to the exam table after Tracy shooed away Nick's attempts.

"Dizziness?" Natalie asked concerned.

"You never wanted me as a partner. Now you're just trying to get rid of me. I was cleared for duty," Tracy said defensively.

Tracy sat down somewhat reluctantly on the exam table.

"Don't worry. I haven't had a guest here all night."

Tracy did not find Natalie's attempt at humor funny.

"Lay down." Natalie ordered. When Tracy didn't, Natalie firmly pushed Tracy down. "Stay there for at least twenty minutes. If you don't I will report this." She hoped that was enough of a threat.

"I've laid there before. I had a nasty case of the flu once, nearly passed out, and wound up taking a nap there. It wasn't so bad."

Nick and Natalie exchanged a look. How much longer should they cover for her? Tracy seemed to be improving. Everytime they thought she had recovered something like this happened.

"You two are sick," Tracy said with a grin.

Nick and Natalie's grins had a wicked gleam to them.

Twenty minutes later Tracy sat up. "I feel much better. Let's go."

Natalie's trained doctor's eye knew she was lying. "How often does this happen?"

"Mostly when I'm overtired, hungry and stressed out."

"How often do you get headaches?"

"When the above apply and sometimes when I go from dark to bright lights. Can you prescribe anything?"

"No. Not without seeing your records and examining you. You didn't answer the question."

"It depends. Sometimes there will be several in one week and sometimes I can go for weeks without any."

"I won't tell, for the time being, if you promise not to go out on patrol while under the influence of one of your spells," Natalie said, sternly.

"I promise."

"No running off without word or without backup or I *will* tell," Nick said sternly.

"I promise."

Two days later Tracy had gone into another town and was entering a medical building. She entered a doctor's office.

She filled out the paperwork using an alias and was soon escorted into the examination room.

The doctor examined her after looking over her chart and prescribed a painkiller for the headaches. He wanted her to return for another appointment when she needed more.

Tracy got the prescription filled at the pharmacy down the street and headed home. She hated having to resort to this but couldn't risk losing her job.

A month later Natalie was in the precinct delivering some files and noticed that Tracy was absent. She approached Nick.

"Where's Tracy?"

"She didn't come in tonight. I think she was having another attack. Is it me or has she been acting strange the last couple of weeks?"

"I also noticed it. I was just about to ask you about it. Maybe she got a hold of some strong painkillers."

Tracy was home in bed with the shades drawn. She had her worst headache ever. Her eyes had been extremely light sensitive and had been the cause of the headache (along with the sun). She tried to get up but found herself very dizzy and nauseous. She fell back onto the bed, curled up under the covers and waited for the symptoms to fade or for her head to explode and put her out of her misery.

A few days later Tracy and Nick paid Natalie a visit at work. Nick and Natalie had planned this. Nick saw that Tracy was having another of her attacks but couldn't tell which one.

"Tracy, Nick, I just the folks I need to see. I don't have anyone to act as controls for the DNA double blind test I'm running. I've used myself and need two more controls."

"What about the lab personnel?" Tracy asked not wanting Natalie to find the drug in her system.

"I've used them so many times a few run as soon as they see me. It won't hurt. It will be over before you know it."

Tracy saw no way out. "If Nick goes first."

Nick stuck out his thumb and Natalie drew a few drops which she smeared onto a slide. She liked being able to kill two birds with one stone.

Tracy did likewise and Natalie drew the necessary blood and applied a bandaid.

"See. I told you it wouldn't be that bad."

Tracy's knees nearly gave out on her. Nick caught her and helped her to the exam table.

"Tracy, I want you to follow my fingers with your eyes only."

Tracy refused to.

"I can always call the paramedics," Natalie said.

"I'll cooperate," Tracy said reluctantly.

Tracy had a tiny bit of trouble following Natalie's fingers.

"Tracy, you're having one of your attacks now aren't you?"

"Yes. I am a little dizzy."

"You're taking something for the headaches, aren't you?" Natalie said guessing.

Tracy said nothing.

"I'm sending you home. If I hear that you've gone off on your own I *will* give Captain Reese and your father a full report," Natalie said dead serious.

Nick dropped Tracy off at her apartment door and made sure she entered before he left. He headed straight for Vachon's.

"Vachon. I need you to watch Tracy for the evening."

"I'm not baby-sitting her again. She drove me nuts the last time," He said as he appeared behind Nick.

"I don't want you to be spotted. I just need to make sure she stays put. She wasn't feeling well."

Nick left and headed back to the M.E.'s office.

Natalie was examining a slide under the microscope when Nick entered.

"Have you examined the blood sample?"

"I'm waiting for the tox report. Yours is looking better. Your recent backslide did not do as much damage as we feared."

Natalie walked over to check on the progress of the drug screen and Nick peered into the microscope. He had done this many times before and still couldn't exactly understand how she got so much information from one little drop of blood. She brought over the test results and consulted one of her books.

"She's taking a strong painkiller with some pretty strong side effects. She must've gone to another doctor."

The next evening Tracy was once again back at the Coroner's Office by Natalie's request. Tracy was not happy and wished they would leave her alone. She knew they were concerned, but it was her life.

"Tracy, you shouldn't be taking anything while working. If you must in order to work, it can not have such strong side effects. Both Nick and I have suspected you were taking something for a while now."

"You wouldn't give me anything."

"I couldn't. I could've accidentally given you something that would have made you worse or possibly even killed you."

"You both think I'm a stupid rookie detective who only got here because of her daddy. It's not true."

Nick and Natalie ignored her outburst, neither one denying (to themselves) that the thought had crossed their minds. They exchanged a look which showed they thought alike in that respect.

"Will you talk to your doctor about changing your prescription? It won't look good if I have to do it," Natalie said, the threat implied.

"I will. As soon as I can get an appointment." Tracy hoped they would not realize she was stalling. They did.

"Why don't I make it for you. I'm sure I can get you one sooner through professional courtesy."

Tracy was trapped again. She had no choice but to agree. She handed over the number.

"What name did you use?"

"Jean Martin. How'd you know?"

"Just a hunch." Natalie dialed the number.

"This is Dr. Lambert. Dr. Parkinson asked me to call him."

There was silence for a moment then Dr. Parkinson picked up the phone.

"Natalie, good to hear from you again. It has been a while hasn't it."

"Yes, it has. I'm sorry about that, Tyler. A friend of mine needs an appointment as soon as possible. She's been having some trouble with the prescription you gave her. She needs something with less side-effects. It is interfering with her ability to work."

"She never told me. I have something I can prescribe for her that should have minimal side-effects. How is she doing?"

"I'm not sure. Could you check her out while she's there. I would like to see the report."

"I will check her out. Only if she agrees to release it. I just got a cancellation for a slot at 8pm."

"She'll be there. Thanks for fitting her in on such short notice. By the way her name is Jean Martin."

"No problem. Nice to hear from you again."

"Same here."

Natalie hung up and turned to Tracy.

"He'll see you at 8 tonight. Can I have your pills?" Natalie asked, but Tracy knew it was not a request.

Tracy took the bottle out of her purse and handed it to Natalie. Natalie looked at the label.

"Very strong dosage. No wonder we noticed. By the way, Nick or I will escort you to your appointment. I would like to take a look at your records. Maybe I can spot something helpful."

"I don't need an escort. You're a pathologist. I'm not dead, you know."

"I am a licensed M.D." Natalie said annoyed. "Don't get any ideas of switching doctors. If I catch you that drugged up at work again I will tell both the Captain and your father, for your sake. And Nicks."

"She means it," Nick said, having had his butt kicked by her a few times. "If I catch you...."

"I get the picture. I don't need an escort."

"Okay. If you don't show he will call me and ...."

"I will be a good little girl. Yes, you can look at my records."

Dr. Parkinson sent over Tracy's records. Natalie knew they were only part of the story, but they were a starting place. It was as she had suspected.

Nick entered.

"Hi, Nick. I was just looking over some of Tracy's records. It seems that she may or may not get over it. She is suffering from after effects from her head injury. It may take years before the symptoms fade. On the other hand they may never fade."

"Should she be a street cop?"

"I don't know. I think we should keep an eye on her and if she gets worse, we get her off the street."

Over the next few months Tracy had fewer flare ups of her symptoms, provided she took the precautions of getting enough sleep, eating well and wearing her sunglasses when outside in the light. When she had a bad attack it was a really bad attack, often requiring her to call in sick.

Nick, Natalie and Tracy had worked out a deal. Tracy would volunteer to stay behind and do the paperwork whenever she wasn't feeling well and they would not tell on her. This way suspicion would not be aroused. Tracy knew that if she ran off on her own or went out when she was having an attack she was finished as a street cop, and possibly as a cop all together. Another part of the deal involved Tracy not coming into work when not feeling well and being honest with them about her condition. Tracy hated the deal, but accepted it because she had no choice. Secretly she was glad that they were genuinely concerned about her, for herself, and not just because she was the commissioner's daughter.

End

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