by Judith Freudenthal
Vachon strode into the emergency room, his front smeared with blood, fear showing in his eyes. Tracy was cradled in his arms, unconscious. He knew she would die without immediate attention. A passing nurse took one look at Tracy, blanched and escorted them immediately to an empty bed in the trauma unit.
"I need an OR now," the nurse said as she paged a doctor. She had never seen anything that gruesome in her two years in the emergency room.
The doctor approached Tracy's bedside and also went pale. Unfortunately, he had seen this and worse before, it still got to him everytime. The rest of the trauma team was right behind him.
"What happened?" The doctor asked Vachon as he examined Tracy.
"Which OR is open?"
"Three is being prepared. It should be ready in a few minutes." The nurse kept an eye on Tracy's vitals while the rest of the trauma team assisted the doctor.
"I found her like this," Vachon lied, not wanting to go into the whole story.
"What is her name?"
"Are you injured?"
"You'll have to wait outside. We'll let you know her condition shortly."
Vachon reluctantly left Tracy's side, knowing she was in good hands. In the hallway he wiped his hands on the front of his shirt, trying hard to ignore the hunger that Tracy's blood ignited in him. He knew he had to call Nick and headed for the nearest payphone.
"Knight, this is Vachon. Tracy's been seriously hurt and is in the ER. I'll explain it all when you get down here."
"I'll be right there. Your explanation had better be good," Nick said, growing annoyed. He knew there would be hell to pay, especially once the Commissioner got wind of it.
In the emergency room waiting area Vachon was pacing back and forth growing more anxious with the passing minutes. He realized he had more feelings for Tracy than he wanted to admit. He wasn't sure what all the feelings were, but couldn't deny their existence any longer. He was wearing a t-shirt with the Toronto Blue Jays on it under his leather jacket, and somehow the two just did not go together, or was it that the combination did not match the wearer.
Nick, Natalie and Reese entered the waiting area.
"Vachon, what happened?" Nick asked as soon as he spotted the Spaniard. He noticed Vachon's shirt and repressed a grin.
"I was passing by the abandoned building, heard a scream from inside and entered. A man was cutting her. She was a real mess. Blood was everywhere. He and I fought and he's dead," Vachon giving the "mortal" version of the story, knowing that one of Nick's group was unaware of vampires. "I couldn't stand having her blood all over my shirt and this was the only one the gift shop had for sale."
"Can you identify the man?" Reese asked.
"Yes. He was dark haired, tall, and looked like a bodybuilder."
Nick pulled a picture of the serial killer the police were after from his pocket and showed it to Vachon. "Is this the man?"
"I guess that case is solved. I want to know what she was doing there." Nick asked.
"I don't know what she was doing there," Vachon said.
Natalie was quite worried hearing all this and headed for the nurses desk to see what she could learn.
"I'm Dr. Lambert. I'd like to know Detective Vetter's condition," She said in her most professional tone.
"I hope you have a strong stomach. She had five slashes across her face. They should be finished suturing her soon. She'll be drugged for the night and a good part of the day." As the nurse continued she used her finger to aid the description. "Detective Vetter has a slash across her forehead, one down the left side of her face, one from near the corner of her mouth down across her chin, one across her right cheek and one going across her nose crossing over the one on her cheek."
Natalie refused to let the description get to her as the nurse described Tracy's injuries, grateful for her strong stomach.
"Thank you for your help." Natalie headed for the guys.
They knew it was not good by the shock on Natalie's face. Nick offered her the spot on the couch next to him and she took it. Nick was concerned because he knew how gruesome a few of her cases had been and he'd seen this expression on only the worst of those.
"She won't be back at work for quite a while. If ever. Vachon, you weren't kidding." Natalie filled them in on what she had heard. She saw Nick and Reese pale. She didn't know a vampire could go that pale without being injured.
"I need some coffee. Does anyone else want any?"
"Captain, I think we could all use some," Nick said knowing it would get him out of the room for a few minutes.
Reese nodded and left the room.
"What really happened?" Nick asked as soon as he was sure Reese was out of earshot.
"I was sleeping and heard a woman scream. It wasn't until the second scream that I recognized it as Tracy's and awoke. It took a few minutes to find her. I heard her scream again and it helped me to locate her. I heard another one as I drew nearer. I was concerned and was going to make him pay with his life," Vachon said anger tinting his voice. "I entered about the time of the fifth scream and saw him standing over her about to hurt her again. Before he could blink I had him by the throat and asked him why. When there was no answer I drained him and used his own hand to slit his throat. I almost did not recognize the bloody mess on the table. I could bring her across. Wipe the Captain's mind."
"Tracy has a very hard road ahead of her. I came across cases almost as bad during my residency. It was heartbreaking. It might be the kinder thing to do. Will it heal her?" Natalie asked unsure what to do.
"Yes, it will." Vachon said.
"If she does come across it won't be easy for her either. She'll have a lot to master quickly. I'm not sure that she has the necessary control," Nick said.
"I always thought I'd know what to do. We're all so unsure. Do any of us want to make that decision for her?" Vachon asked.
"I can't make it for her," Natalie said, not wanting that responsibility. She didn't know which was the better path.
"It has to be her request. But she cannot make it out of desperation. She has to be clearheaded," Nick said.
"What if she decides she wants it?" Natalie asked.
Before they could further discuss it Reese returned, four coffees tucked neatly into a cardboard tray. They each took a coffee and whatever additives they used. Nick had never tried it before and was reluctant to do so now, but knew he probably had to. Nick watched what Natalie did and copied it. He took a sip and struggled to keep the repulsion off his face as he set it back down on the table. Natalie noticed and worked to suppress a grin. Vachon didn't even touch his coffee.
Several hours later Natalie was asleep on the couch in a different waiting area. She had been up close to 24 hours and was totally wiped out. Nick covered her with her coat. Vachon watched this and knew that there was more to their friendship than they let on and hoped that he and Tracy would have time to develop such a bond. They had moved to a windowless waiting area when Tracy had been moved to the ICU. Reese had gone home, knowing there was nothing more to be done until Tracy could be questioned. Nick was dozing off on another couch. Vachon paced the floor, worried about the future. Something he had never given much conscious thought to until the last year or so, ever since he met Tracy.
Later when Nick, Natalie and Vachon woke they were allowed to enter Tracy's room. She had been moved to a private room. They were stunned by what they saw. Tracy's face was covered in gauze, and looked rather mummylike. There was an IV going into her arm feeding the antibiotics and painkillers into her system. They knew that she was sedated and would be kept rather groggy for the next few days.
Nick and Natalie left, returning to the waiting room, while Vachon stayed behind.
"You need to eat something," Nick said, turning his attention to Natalie. At least he could make sure she was taken care of.
"Not here. There's nothing we can do here now. They're doing what's best for her," Natalie said putting her hand on Nick's arm for comfort.
"Okay. How about going somewhere else to eat. You going into work tonight?"
"I'd better call them and let them know I'm going to be late. I was supposed to be there an hour ago. What about you?"
"I'm going to go in. I need to do something."
Two nights later Vachon was by Tracy's bedside when the drug cloud mostly lifted. The painkillers made her a little groggy. He heard her stir. He had been holding her hand and felt movement.
"Vachon," Tracy said noticing that it hurt to speak. She opened her eyes and had trouble focusing. "Where am I?" she asked, alarmed that she could not see out of one eye.
"You're in the hospital. You were injured but you're going to be fine," he said in his most soothing tones.
He tried to prevent her hands from touching her face, but could not. She began to remember what happened, mostly bits and pieces due to the drugs. Her hands gently roamed across her mummylike appearance causing her terror and panic to fill her eyes and her heart rate to further shoot up. "Your eyes are fine. They had to cover one because of injuries to the area surrounding it." Vachon noticed her heart rate skyrocket and was glad he had fed before visiting her. He was glad she was a little out of it from the medication, it kept her from asking too many questions or protesting that she was not fine.
The nurse came in and asked him to leave because visiting hours were over.
"Please let him stay a few minutes," Tracy pleaded.
"Okay. Just a few more minutes." The nurse knew that Tracy had most likely just come out of the sedatives and that emotional support was very important for her patient.
The next day Natalie stopped by to see Tracy. She pushed the door open a crack and stuck her head in.
"Hi, care for a visitor?"
"Not really," Tracy said not sounding too convincing. "You can come in if you want."
Natalie entered bouquet of flowers in hand.
"I thought these might brighten up the room."
"Thanks. Put them on the nightstand."
Tracy hesitated before asking a question she had to know the answer to.
"How did I get here? What happened to the killer?"
"Vachon found you and brought you here. He fought with the killer and won," Natalie said wishing she could tell her the whole truth. "Why haven't you asked him?"
"I was too groggy last night. The nurse only gave us a few minutes. How's Nick?"
"He's doing okay," Natalie said. "How are you doing?"
"I'm scared. The drugs are making me quite groggy so I can't concentrate on much. How are you doing?"
"That's the point of the drugs. That and helping you heal. I'm doing okay. If you need anyone to talk to we're all here for you." Natalie could tell that she had stayed long enough. She put her hand on Tracy's before turning to leave.
Tracy closed her eyes and soon fell asleep. Disjointed images flashed through her mind. She saw the killer looking her over with his hunting knife, her being strapped to a steel table, her heading for a deserted warehouse, seeing him towering over her, feeling the pain as he made the first slash across her face, being grabbed from behind by the killer, being forced into the warehouse and being told that if she struggled he would stab her in the back and leave her there to die. She remembered feeling the point of the knife jabbing into her back, feeling something making contact with the back of her head and the pain of each slash he had made across her face.
Every memory was as intense as when it had happened causing her to cry out in her sleep, unable to wake due to the drugs in her system.
Later when the sun went down Nick stopped by to see Tracy on his way to work. He knocked on Tracy's door before pushing it open and sticking his head in.
"Can I come in?"
"I don't care," Tracy said, depression seeping through.
Nick entered with a bouquet of flowers.
"Thanks. Put them with Natalie's. How's work?"
"Good. Don't think that I'm going to keep doing your share of the paperwork," he said lightly, trying to make her smile. Which he did.
"Please don't make me laugh."
"I won't. I just wanted to see you smile."
Tracy's smile faded.
"What happened at the crime scene?"
Nick was torn, did he tell her all he knew and reveal himself? Did he reveal that Natalie knew about it all? He hoped she would ask Vachon and that Vachon would tell her. Maybe I need to talk with Vachon about this, Nick thought.
"Vachon found you, fought with the killer and won," Nick said, grateful that she was still a little groggy from the medication. "I'll stop by later. If you need anything..."
Vachon entered as Nick left.
"Hi. How are you doing tonight?" Vachon asked, his feelings for her coming through in his voice.
"About the same."
Vachon took her free hand in his and gently stroked it.
Later that evening Natalie dropped off a report at the precinct and stopped by Nick's desk. Reese saw the two of them together and approached.
"Natalie, Nick, how is Tracy doing?"
"I'm not sure. The physical wounds are healing as expected. She's scared," Natalie said.
"She's also somewhat depressed," Nick said.
"I wouldn't be surprised if her depression gets worse when the bandages are removed," Natalie said, not surprised by Tracy's depression.
The next evening Tracy's dose of painkillers was greatly lowered, allowing her to clear the fog out of her mind. She saw Vachon enter for his nightly visit.
"All you need to know is that he will never hurt anyone again," Vachon said.
"I want the entire story. Don't make me ask again. It hurts to talk," Tracy said annoyed.
Vachon told her the whole story.
Nick knocked on the door and entered. "Hi. I hate to bring this up so soon, but I need to take your statement."
Tracy's memories flooded back, this time in the proper chronological sequence, unlike her dream. "I had received a few promising leads and had checked out most of them. They turned out to be dead ends. I had approached the abandoned building and was grabbed. A tall dark haired man with a bodybuilder's form held a hunting knife to my back and told me that if I struggled or screamed he would stab me and leave me there to die. He dragged me inside. I tried to struggle. He knocked me out and when I came to I was strapped to a giant metal table, like the one in Natalie's office," Tracy hesitated trying to keep from crying. She knew that the tears would sting and that if she got the bandages wet they would have to change them again, allowing the air to sting her injured skin. "I saw him holding the hunting knife and it looked like he was studying me. He said something to me. I can't remember what it was. I remember feeling the knife as it cut into my skin. The next thing I remember was waking up here the other day."
"That was excellent, Tracy. It definitely fits. If I showed you a picture could you identify him?" Nick asked.
Nick pulled a flyer of the serial killer out of his pocket and showed it to Tracy.
"I'm sorry to have to bring back the memories but I had to..."
"I know," Tracy said, as she cut him off.
Tracy still had the same intense nightmares, sometimes they were no more than a jumble of the event and sometimes it was as if was just now happening. Only now she bolted upright frequently screaming and sometimes just shaking. She wished Vachon was there to comfort her. Almost a week later it was time for the stitches to come out. Tracy was unsure who she wanted there for moral support. She didn't want Natalie there because she was too attractive and would make her feel worse, and didn't want Nick there because, well she didn't know quite why. So Vachon was what was left.
Vachon entered and sat down in a chair beside the bed. Tracy reached out her hand to him and he took it.
The doctor entered and approached Tracy.
"You ready?" The doctor asked, sensing her nervousness.
"As ready as I'll ever be."
"I need you to hold real still while I cut loose the bandages. You might want to close your eyes. One will be particularly light sensitive."
Tracy nodded and he began. He used a specially bent pair of scissors to cut through the layers starting at the bottom and working them up to the top of her head. Once he had that finished he repeated the process on the other side. When he had finished he eased the bandage away from her face. Once she had been demummified he examined the slashes for any sign of infection and was pleased to see none.
"I want a mirror," Tracy said firmly.
"You might want to wait a few days. The sutures make it look worse than it is. Once they're removed the sites will be a little red and possibly slightly swollen for a day or two," The doctor said.
"I want one now!"
He reluctantly pulled a hand mirror from his pocket and gave it to her, knowing that if he had refused it would only make the situation worse.
Nick and Natalie stuck their heads in the door and realized they were interrupting so they left before they were spotted by Tracy. They knew that Tracy was getting the stitches out sometime that day and wanted to be there either before or after to offer their support. They were a little surprised to see how bad she looked.
"She will look better once the stitches are removed. The scars will be quite visible though," Natalie said in an attempt to reassure Nick, and herself.
Back in Tracy's room she was horrified as she saw what the monster had done to her. She saw the stitches across her forehead, down the left side of her face, the ones from near the corner of her mouth down across her chin, more going across her right cheek and one going across her nose crossing over the one on her cheek.
Vachon saw the pain in her eyes, knowing it was not a physical pain and it hurt. He did not like seeing her in pain.
The doctor removed the stitches being as gentle as he could. He had increased the amount of painkiller shortly before this procedure was to be done.
Vachon noticed that she did look somewhat better once all the stitches had been removed. The scars were red and still slightly swollen.
Tracy looked at herself in the mirror again and knew that this is the face she would have to live with. She angrily whipped the mirror at the wall. It hit the wall and shattered.
"Get out! Both of you!" She shouted angrily. "I don't want anyone to see me like this."
Vachon and the doctor left. Vachon was concerned, wondering what would happen next.
Back in Tracy's room, tears streamed down her face. How can I go on with the rest of my life looking like this? I will not be stared at, pointed at. Tracy thought. Thank God mom and dad are out of the country and unreachable. I don't need their sympathy and pity now.
Later that afternoon the doctor reentered for his afternoon rounds.
"Good afternoon. How are you feeling?"
"Will they always look like this?" Tracy asked scared.
"No. They're still healing. Within 2 months the redness should completely fade leaving a scar no worse than the one on your arm."
"Can plastic surgery be done?"
"Yes, but not for about a year. It will take that long for them to heal enough for the procedure to be done safely, and without leaving more scars behind. I don't know if it will be possible to remove all the scars but they should be able to remove most of them."
The doctor examined her and left after finding nothing to concern him.
Over the next week Tracy refused all visitors, even Vachon. She did not want anyone staring at her trying to be polite about it. She didn't want to feel uncomfortable around her friends, knowing they would be uneasy looking at her. She would be if it was one of them. She didn't want anyone feeling sorry for her. She did not want Nick, Vachon or any man seeing her looking so ugly. She was jealous of Natalie, who was so beautiful.
Her one small bit of relief was that her bangs covered the scar on her forehead, or they would once they grew out again. They had been rather brutally clipped so that the slash could be tended to.
She hated going to sleep because the nightmares continued. They were still as intense as ever. She wished they would go away.
The next evening Tracy was released and had to let Vachon in so he could give her a lift home. It was let him in or take a taxi home and she wasn't about to let a stranger see her. It had been hard enough being wheeled through the hospital and out the front door. She felt as if everyone was staring at her. Vachon had borrowed Nick's Caddie for the job. Nick was not too happy about it, but did not want Tracy on the back of Vachon's bike, nor did he think the wind would feel good against her skin if Vachon flew her home.
Natalie stopped by the precinct the evening Tracy was released, dropped off a few files before heading towards Nick's desk.
"Any change?" Natalie asked.
"No. Vachon told me that she's sunk into a depression and will not let him keep her company."
"She probably won't want to see anyone until she has had time to get used to her appearance. She needs to feel comfortable with it before she'll feel like having anyone else around."
Over the next three weeks Tracy kept the house rather dark and kept the blinds closed. She refused to leave her apartment, or answer her doorbell. She refused to let her parents in or even talk to them. After a few calls from them she stopped answering the phone altogether, letting the machine pick up the messages. She would only allow Vachon in when he delivered groceries to her.
Vachon was concerned and missed her perkiness. No matter how much it had sometimes annoyed him, it had just as often made him smile.
Slowly her nightmares eased. She was grateful that she no longer had to fear going to sleep.
Natalie was working with some slides under the microscope when she heard someone enter the room.
"Natalie, I need your advice," Vachon said.
Natalie turned to face him. "How can I help you?"
"Tracy's sunk deeper into her depression. She's completely given up. Her apartment is still almost as dark as night. The only way I'm allowed in is if I have groceries. Is there anything I can do? That anyone can do?"
"I don't know. If I didn't think it might make matters worse I would suggest having her talk to a counselor, or even a support group. I think we should give her some more time. Remember she had a rather sheltered life and that makes this that much more traumatic. Keep an eye on her," Natalie said concerned.
"Are you expecting trouble?" Vachon asked worried.
"I don't think she's that desperate. How are you handling it?"
"I don't know. It's so frustrating. If I thought it would help and if Nick wouldn't kill me..."
"I know. I don't think it would help. She'd just be trading one set of problems for another."
Natalie and Nick were watching a movie cuddled up on his couch. After the movie ended Nick turned to Natalie admiring her beauty, at same time feeling great sympathy for Tracy.
"Is something wrong?"
"No," Nick said, slightly embarrassed. "How's Tracy?"
"She's getting worse. I would go talk to her but I'm probably the last person she wants to see. I would probably remind her of what she lost."
Natalie could see his sympathy for Tracy reflected in his eyes. She too felt sympathy for Tracy.
Two more months had passed. Tracy was climbing the walls but was not about to leave the apartment. She did not want strangers staring at her or worse.
Natalie was greatly concerned about Tracy's worsened psychological condition and formulated a plan. It required a trip to a specialty store and one or two other small stops.
Natalie called Vachon and explained part of her plan, only the part that required his help. He agreed to help.
Vachon arrived for his usual grocery drop off. Tracy reluctantly let him in.
"Tracy, Natalie would like to talk to you. She thinks she can help you." He saw the great uncertainty in Tracy's eyes. "What can it hurt to let her in?"
Tracy shrugged and motioned for Natalie to enter. She saw Natalie carrying a canvas tote bag and grew curious.
Vachon put away the refrigerator items (he had learned what needed to be kept cold by messing up once). "Trace, I'll stop by in a few days to see how you're doing."
Tracy nodded and Vachon left.
"Tracy, how are you doing?" Natalie asked, nothing but concern in her voice.
"I don't know. You said you might be able to help me?"
"Yes. I know somewhat how you're feeling. If you'll let me turn on the end table lamp I'll show you something only my doctor and Nick know about."
Tracy hesitantly nodded. Natalie turned up the light and saw Tracy become much more uneasy. Natalie pushed her bangs aside and swept the hair back from her left ear. Tracy saw the nasty scar by Nat's ear and a fainter one on her forehead on the same side. Natalie kept the scars covered by makeup.
"How did you get those?"
"I was in a car accident about 10 years ago. A drunk driver slammed into my car and I hit the window. It shattered. I was very lucky not to be hurt worse. I was covered with minor cuts. I also had torn ligaments in my knee, a sprained wrist and a few badly bruised ribs. Not to mention many bad bruises. My left eye was swollen shut for nearly a week."
Tracy felt a little better. Natalie sensed this and was pleased that she could help Tracy feel better.
"I never noticed them. Do you think makeup can help me?" Tracy asked feeling hopeful for the first time. She knew her scars were much worse that Natalie's, with the possible exception of the one by her ear.
"It can't hurt to try. Can I apply it?" Natalie asked cautiously.
Tracy nodded rather unsure. Natalie opened up the bag and picked the right shade for Tracy and started work.
"How did Nick find out?"
"He felt it when he caressed my cheek. He did ask me what happened and never made a big deal out of it, nor did he avoid it."
Natalie applied a base and then offered Tracy a choice of blush, lipstick, and eye shadow colors.
"Did you tell him about the accident?"
"Yes. His response was that he was glad I had not been more seriously injured. Glad that I recovered."
Natalie finished the final touches on Tracy's makeup about 20 minutes later and was pleased with her effort.
"Take a look."
Tracy hesitantly walked to the bathroom, turned on the light and looked into the mirror. Natalie had managed to cover all but the nastiest scar, the one from her mouth across her chin. Tracy actually smiled. If you looked at just the right angle you could still see them all.
"Thank you, Natalie. I don't know how to properly thank you."
"You're welcome. How about we go see the guys?"
Natalie was pleased to see the depression lift. Some of it was still there around the edges she noticed.
Tracy knew who she was talking about and nodded. She was still a little unsure. "I don't want to go out in public yet."
"How about Nick's loft?"
"Natalie, did you ever consider plastic surgery? Do your scars bother you?"
"I considered it. The one on my forehead doesn't bother me too much. It's the other one that still bothers me some after all these years. It was too deep and in the wrong place to be fixed by plastic surgery. I learned the makeup trick from the doctor. I've learned how to blend in the makeup so I can just cover them without having to use it on the rest of my face."
Natalie called Nick and told her that they would be over shortly and to contact Vachon. He said that he would.
Natalie had quickly applied her makeup before they left. It made Tracy feel better to know that Natalie had insecurities about her appearance.
Both vampires could hear Tracy's elevated pulse rate as the elevator approached. When the door opened the guys were shocked at the difference in Tracy, and not just in her appearance. Most of the depression was gone and had been replaced by an uneasiness. They knew what she needed to hear, the truth.
"You looked fantastic," Vachon said.
"You look really great," Nick said.
Tracy was self-conscious but liked the compliments.
"You're not lying to make me feel good?"
"No. This is too important to you to lie," Nick said, and Vachon nodded in agreement.
Tracy was reassured of their sincerity and felt good about herself for the first time since that horrible night.
Natalie, Nick and Vachon were pleased to see the change in Tracy. They hoped that she could now get on with her life. They knew that locking yourself away and refusing to see friends was not the answer.
"I have Natalie to thank for this. And Vachon for convincing me to let her in. Thank you."
"No problem." Both Natalie and Vachon said.
"I was tired of feeling and looking like Frankenstein's Bride."
"Nah, in order to do that you'd have to have this huge stack of hair with a white streak in it," Nick teased.
Tracy grinned. Nick was glad to see the room lighten in mood as the others couldn't suppress their grins at that picture.
"Talk about your bad hair day," Tracy joked.
The next evening Tracy was in her apartment awaiting Natalie's arrival because she was going to learn how to apply the make-up herself.
Vachon stopped Natalie in the hallway.
"Thank you. I'm glad your plan worked. How did you know it would?"
"I'm glad it did too. I wasn't sure it would, but figured I had a fair shot if I could get inside. Call it a hunch," Natalie said not willing to share her secret with Vachon.
Vachon let her continue and waited for the good doctor to work her miracles.
Natalie knocked on Tracy's door and was let in. They headed straight for the bathroom where the make up had been left.
"First you have to make sure your face is clean, then you select the right shade for the base." Natalie looked at Tracy's skin in the light and picked the same shade as she had last night. "I think this one is probably best for you. You want to be sure to apply it evenly and not too heavily. I find that these things work best for application." Natalie pointed to the sponges. "Go ahead and try it yourself."
Tracy picked up the makeup sponge and opened the base container. She dabbed some on her sponge and began to smear it across her face.
"Blend it in so that it isn't noticeable. You want it to look natural," Natalie said.
Tracy finished applying the base and had smoothed it out the best she could.
"How's this?" Tracy asked.
"Pretty good. May I?"
Tracy nodded and Natalie picked up a sponge and smoothed out a spot on her right cheek and one up by her left eye.
"You can use your regular makeup on top of it."
"Will you come into the precinct with me?" Tracy asked a bit uncertain. "Will anyone notice them? What will I say?"
"Sure. Nick will be there if you have any problems. You don't have to tell them anything you don't want to. Do you notice them?"
"No. Not unless I turn just the right way and know where to look."
"Then, that's your answer. You can call me if..."
"Thanks for all your help," Tracy said, cutting Natalie off.
Tracy finished her makeup and liked the face that looked back at her. She again looked more like she used to. She turned to Natalie for final approval.
"Looks good. Quite natural," Natalie said reassuring Tracy. "You ready to go?"
"About as ready as I'll ever be."
"Do you really think that surgery will help?" Tracy asked tuning to Natalie.
"Yes. I think it will be able to remove or at least lighten all but the deepest scars."
Natalie could see that Tracy was quite nervous about going back to work. She could also tell that there was something else bothering her.
"You'll be fine today," Natalie said in her most reassuring tone.
"That will be the easy part. I have to face my parents sooner or later. They were not happy that I haven't let them in or talked to them. They kept telling me that it didn't matter because we were family. They couldn't understand that being family did not make it easier."
"You'll do just fine there too. Just remember that they love you and worry about you."
"I know. I like it but sometimes it gets on my nerves. Do you know what I mean."
"Yeah," Natalie said with a slight grin. "At least yours are around to worry about you."
Tracy entered the precinct with Natalie behind her. Tracy carefully watched the expressions of those who saw her. She saw no one staring or even trying not to stare and was reassured that the makeup worked causing her to relax slightly.
"Welcome back, Tracy," Nick said.
On her way to her desk Tracy was stopped several times by other officers welcoming her back and telling her that they were glad she was feeling better. No one mentioned her scars.
Natalie made her way over to Nick before Tracy could.
"Keep an eye on her," Natalie whispered to him and saw his subtle nod.
"Natalie, have you finished the Smithson case?" Nick asked.
"Not yet. I should have the preliminary report for you later today"
Reese came out of his office when he heard all the commotion and was pleased to see that Tracy had finally returned to work. The Commissioner had given him hell for letting his daughter run off and get herself seriously injured.
Nick had also taken some heat from Tracy's father over not being there when she was injured. Nick had tried to explain, but he didn't want to hear anything.
"Tracy, welcome back. Can I see you for a few minutes?" He asked as he reentered his office. He noticed that she looked much better than he thought she would.
Tracy entered the office and saw him motion to close the door so she did so.
"How are you doing? I was there the night they brought you in and heard the details. You look great." Reese watched Tracy and noticed that she did seem to be much less depressed than Nick and Natalie had said she was.
"I'm doing much better thanks to a friend's help."
"Do you feel ready to return to work?"
"Even if it's desk duty for the next week?"
Reese noticed that Tracy seemed a little relieved at that assignment. He understood why.
"Welcome back. Now go help your partner out."
Tracy left the Captain's office and approached her desk.
"Well?" Nick asked.
"I'm back. I'm assigned to desk duty for the next week though."
Nick and Natalie also noticed how she seemed relieved to be assigned to desk duty. They knew she would need that time before she was ready to face the streets again. They noticed that her depression was mostly gone and that she actually seemed glad to be back at work again.
Nick kept an eye on her that evening and was pleased when no one commented on the case that had left her so badly injured. She handled herself much like before. She wasn't quite as perky, but that was fine with him. She had been a little too perky most of the time before the devastating injuries.
Late the next afternoon Tracy knocked on her parents door. She was a bundle of nerves. She knew that she could not put it off any longer.
Her father opened the door and motioned for her to enter. He carefully looked over his daughter and noticed that she looked quite good. He hugged her.
Tracy and her father entered the living room. Her mother hugged her before taking a good look at her. Her mother was pleased to see that Tracy looked worthy of being a Vetter.
"How are you dear?"
"Much better. Thanks to a friend."
"You look great," Mom said, pleased that she did not have to face her daughter's scarred face, but the made up one instead.
"You really do," Dad said.
"I need to know how much you know about what happened," Tracy said.
"I read the police file and talked to the doctor and a few of your friends, Knight and Lambert I believe. They were concerned about you and your depression. Why wouldn't you let your mom and I in to see you? It wouldn't have mattered how you looked."
"I didn't want anyone to see me while I looked like that. I didn't like the way I looked. I didn't want to hurt you. I needed to be alone."
"It hurt us more that you wouldn't see us," Her mother said.
"What are you going to do now?" Her father asked.
"I went back to work yesterday. I've been assigned to desk duty this week which is fine with me. I'll go back out into the field when the Captain thinks I'm ready."
"What about..." her mother asked not sure how to phrase it.
"The scars? I have to wait at least another seven months before they will have healed enough for them to consider reconstructive surgery. But I'm sure dad already knows most of this."
"Yes, the doctor did tell me that it would take a year before they could consider any type of plastic surgery."
"Did he also tell you how he thought the surgery would go?" Tracy asked. She was a little annoyed that her father was asking questions he already knew the answers to. Then again it was very much like him.
"Yes. Would you mind showing us what they look like?" Her mother asked knowing that she would have to see them sooner or later. She needed to see them so she could properly defend her reputation and her daughter's as well.
"You want to see what the daughter of Frankenstein looks like?" Tracy asked angrily and sarcastically. "Sure," Tracy said in the same tone. Maybe I'll scare them off. More likely they'll feel sorry for me.
Tracy headed for the bathroom to wash away the makeup. She had the feeling this was going to happen.
A few minutes later Tracy reentered the living room her scars showing. Her mom was stunned, mouth gaping. Her dad was stunned, but at least he managed to keep his mouth from hanging open. Sadness showed in her parents eyes. Her mother looked quite uncomfortable with her now less than perfect daughter.
"Take a good look. This the last time anyone but the doctor will see me without makeup," Tracy said firmly and a little angrily. "Is this what you expected?"
"It doesn't look quite as bad as I expected," her father said. "They looked much worse in the pictures."
She had purposely forgotten about those awful pictures that had been taken while she was in the hospital. She had purposely avoided looking at them. The mirror was enough of a reminder."Dear, would it make you more comfortable to put your make up back on?" Her mother asked, uncomfortable seeing her daughter like that. She hoped none of their friends stopped by.
"You mean fix my face?" Tracy said, knowing that was what her mother meant to say. "I didn't bring my makeup with me. I didn't expect you to want to see the scars," Tracy lied. They had wanted to see them so let them see them. She knew her mother was uncomfortable and kind of enjoyed it.
"Shall we all move to the table? Dinner is ready," Her mother said trying to change the subject. She walked ahead of the group and had lowered the lights by the time the others arrived. She had started lighting candles.
"I had thought we'd eat this way. I thought it would make you feel better. I planned this before you came over," she lied.
Tracy knew it was a lie. She didn't mind making them uncomfortable, they had asked for it. Her parents had always been too caught up in appearances. They wanted everyone to think that they were the perfect family, which had rarely been true.
Tracy spent a while at the table, pleased to have been seated so she was in plainview of her parents. She was uncomfortable without her makeup and tried her best to hide it. Her watch beeped causing her to look down at it.
"Thanks for dinner. I have to run. I don't want to be late for work."
Tracy kissed each of her parents on the cheek before leaving.
She drove out of the neighborhood and pulled into a busy well lit grocery store parking lot. She parked where she was out of the way and put her makeup back on using the visor mirror to guide her, knowing she would check it as soon as she entered the precinct. When she was satisfied with the way her makeup looked she headed in to work.
Tracy parked in the lot and entered the precinct. She headed straight for the ladies room where she gave her makeup a quick once over and was still pleased with her handiwork. She felt less and less like the Bride of Frankenstein, at least as long as she had her makeup on.
She said to herself, hoping that her parents had seen enough.
She headed for her desk and found Natalie talking with Nick about the file she just handed him.
"Hi guys," Tracy said. The perkiness very slowly coming back.
"How'd it go?" Natalie asked.
"Pretty much like I expected. They wanted to see them. They actually asked which made me angry. They were quite shocked. Dad had seen the photos but made me go through that anyway. My mom was real uncomfortable and tried to get me to put my makeup back on. I told them I didn't have it and made them face it. Mom served dinner by candlelight and tried to tell me she had it planned beforehand. I hope I disturbed them enough that they won't be bothering me for a while."
Life was pretty much back to normal, or as normal as it was going to get. Tracy was fine as long as she wore her makeup. It bothered her from time to time. Tracy was back out on the streets within two weeks after her return to work. She was nervous her first two days but then the nervousness faded and she was doing her job, almost like nothing had happened.
The one year anniversary came and Tracy had her doctor's appointment. He examined the scars and determined that they had indeed healed enough for her to undergo the reconstructive surgery. Natalie had given her the name of a top surgeon she knew. Her doctor set up the appointment with the surgeon.
Tracy was due to go under the knife the next afternoon and was a bit nervous about it.
The next morning Tracy met with her surgeon to discuss the procedure. After the examination of her scars he showed Tracy what he expected the outcome of the surgery to be. Tracy was impressed and pleased.
Tracy's friends visited her before the operation wishing her luck and telling her that all would be fine. They sensed Tracy's nervousness and understood.
The operation went smoothly and Tracy's face was once again bandaged. This time she knew she would awaken looking like a mummy and was prepared for it. She was a little disoriented when she first came out of the anesthesia but quickly regained her bearings.
This time she welcomed visits by her friends. She was kept in the hospital until the bandages came off. Tracy was nervous on the day of the big unveiling. She had wanted her friends to be there to see the results.
"You ready for the big unveiling?" The doctor asked as he entered.
"Yes," Tracy said a bit nervously.
Her friends had gathered around the room as the doctor snipped the bandages loose as he had done the last time. Once the bandages were removed she could tell from the smiles on her friends faces that all went well. She couldn't wait to see herself in the mirror.
"Remember it is still a little red and swollen. It should be fine in a few days," the doctor said as he handed Tracy a mirror.
Tracy looked into it and a large smile crossed her face. There was only one scar left, but it wasn't quite as nasty looking as it had been.
"I'm sorry we couldn't do better on the scar by your mouth. It was too deep."
"That's okay. I can get used to that one."
"It'll remind you not to go running off without telling anyone," Vachon said.
"You should be able to lesson the impact with makeup. I wouldn't wear makeup for at least a week. You need to give it a chance to heal further."
"No problem," Tracy said pleased that she didn't have to wear all that makeup anymore.
Tracy had arranged to take the next week off to allow the swelling and redness to subside. She caught up on her reading, laundry and cleaning while she was home. Her friends came by to see her and she welcomed them.
After her week off was over she returned to work wearing only minimal makeup. She didn't miss the basecoat as it was sometimes itchy and sometimes made her skin feel like it couldn't breathe. Everyone welcomed her back.
Forever Knight Index