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Every single step

Chapter Text

"Kay ? Kay, are you home ?"

Marc opened the door and looked around the apartment. He needed to speak with Kay before their shift on Monday. Invited or not: How could he just show up at his family house? How dare he upset his mother by speaking about love of all things while family and friends are gathering?
Things had run way out of control and he needed them to stop.
He needed to be available and reliable for his family. The whole experience with Kay had been a crazy mess and it had to stop now. Kay had to understand. He would not discuss feelings or fantastic futures that Kay might make up in his mind. He would not even fight, he would simply ask him to leave. Everything was clear, no big analysis needed. Marc was a dad. He was supposed to support his little son and his wife now, not partying and playing around with the blond that was uprooting his life.

"Kay I think it is best if you get transferred" or maybe "you should think about getting a transfer" something like this.
Simple. Clear. No room for discussing whatever feelings there may be or could have been.
It was useless thinking about this anyways.

Kay wasn't home so Marc decided to wait. It had to end tonight before any more damage happened. It would be one final lie to Bettina. -An emergency at work, one more fake night shift. Sure she was suspicious already, but once Kay would be gone, everything would go back to normal. Back to the life he spend so much time and energy on to build.
His chest felt tight and uncomfortable.
Maybe Kay leaving would make it hard to breath for a while. Probably it would. But it would pass. He had never been breathing evenly and it hadn't been a fucking problem until the academy.
It would be okay. It would hurt but it would be okay.
He and his family would be okay. His dad would look at him again with pride.

Half an hour passed, then another. Nine became ten and then eleven.
The walking up and down the apartment became just as boring as sitting on the ground mulling things over continously and after the 6th cigarette Marcs nerves were showing.
What the fuck was going on? Where was Kay?
He had checked the duty roster once more before coming here. Kay was off both Saturday and Sunday. Midnight was approaching quickly, so if he was still out….
Would it be possible that he went out partying ?
Did Kay already get the message in the overtly tense living room with his parents ?
Did he turn to drugs and partying for the night? Already forgetting him and up-rooting someone else’s life ?
Marc didn't want to continue these thoughts and light up another cigarette. He would give back the key tonight.
"Please transfer." This is what he would say.
Two words. Simple.
The right thing.

Marc woke up feeling cold and his back hurting. Disoriented he searched around for a lamp or lighter and found his phone.
4:37 AM it showed and in its dim light the glass doors of Kays apartment could be seen. Marc got up from the balcony floor, stumbled around and quickly understood two things: Kay still hadn't come home and the temperatures dropped significantly at night, fall had definitely started. He moved back inside and searched the kitchen for any of that instant coffee that Kay kept around for him. Something to warm up.

4:50... shit.

While he stirred the drink his brain bombarded him with different versions of the same scenario.
Kay had gone out and picked someone to move on.
He wouldn't even have to make any effort, wouldn't need to make any plans. Just go to a club and pick one of the guys that line up to touch him. The clock clearly indicated that drinking and dancing was not where it had ended tonight. Kay still hadn't returned home and the club closed at 4… so he must have went to the home of someone.
Anger and frustration was buring a hole inside his stomach. Marc had feared this before, even accused him off it, but Kay had told him, he wasn't fucking anyone else. But after saying that he was a one-off and should just leave him alone...what did Marc expect ?

It hurt thinking about it and it was utterly useless but somehow his brain wouldn't stop. Provide him pictures of all the guys faces that had been eyeing them, eying Kay, the last time they had visited the club. Would he pick one of those young lanky feminine boys with their easy "take me" smiles and clichéd behavior ?
Would Kay pick a guy that was muscular and strong ?
Would he prefer dark hair or blond ?
His chest hurt at all the questions in his head, and underneath it there was the strangest disappointed that he didn't even know, couldn't even tell, if he had ever been Kay's "type" or not. Maybe there was a long list of lovers looking just like him and Kay was adding to that list right now. Maybe Kay would gladly take an experienced lover tonight enjoying things Marc never thought or heard about. With every thought, the coffee tasted more and more bitter in his mouth.
Did it matter if the guy Kay shared the night with looked like him ?
If he was experienced ?
He shouldn't care.
He wouldn't care.
Kay needed to leave his head
Needed to leave his life.

Another breath, another sip. Suddenly a clear memory of a blue eyed pale guy touching Kays arm assaulted him. Blue-eyes had been clearly interested and not shy to make contact when Marc left Kay alone at the bar for a few minutes. Maybe that guy, that he had scared away only a few weeks ago. Maybe that guy was now buried inside Kay, holding him. A frustrated cry left his throat as he threw the cup against the wall.
Enough. Enough for tonight. He would leave this apartment before he lost his sanity completely.

In the car he felt a weird mix of frustration, anger and loneliness. Night shift would end at seven so he had about two hours before he could arrive home without raising further suspicion.
He should head out for a run and simply burn some energy. Get rid of that ticking bomb inside his chest. After that, he could head home, have breakfast and take care of his family.
He’d catch Kay tomorrow, somehow, somewhere.
When Marc reached the parking lot just outside the park in city center he changed into his running clothes. Staring at the illuminated map of the plan and “fitness routes” he tried to calculate how many rounds he would need to do to cover his normal distance. About 4 and a half. Okay, so that's what he would to. He didn't like the idea of making the same round multiple times, running like a caged animal… but the woods were no alternative this morning. Too little light this early. Too many memories with Kay. It would never be possible to clear his head there.

He had almost finished his first round when his eyes caught something weird on his left next to the bushes on the other side of the lawn. It was hard to tell but a grey dog or maybe sweater was lying on the ground. When he jogged across the lawn to approach, his eyes were able to make out the shape of a person in the twilight. It didn't look like a passed out drunk or homeless person, the clean sweat trouser and white running shoes didn't fit. The closer he came the stronger a sense of foreboding grew in him. The person felt familiar.
The second his eyes were able to make out blood and blond hair on the person he changed to a sprint. His breath stopped once he reached the still person on the ground. The guy was heavily bruised around the nose and some blood had dried on his face but still it was unmistakably clear, this was definitely Kay.

"no! Kay?" Marc fell to his knees and immediately began to check for vitals, the source of the pool of blood and any other kind of damage. He called 110 and was relieved when he was able to make out a pulse on the cold neck and found that the blonde was breathing. But Kay didn't react to his presence, to moving him and the pool of blood below his head looked dangerously large.
"Kay, Kay, you've got to wake up. Look at me" he kept repeating his name and trying to get any reaction out of him. But nothing happened. It felt like forever until the ambulance arrived and paramedics lifted him onto a stretcher.
Marc felt like he couldn't breathe. "Sir? Sir, look at me sir. Can you tell me how long before calling us did you find the victim? Was he still responsive when you found him? "
"Sorry Sir ?"
"the … he is called Kay Engel. Maybe one minute before I made the call."
"Laura, we're ready to go. " the paramedic called after connecting Kay to various instruments. Marc went into the back of the ambulance with the female paramedic.
"Are you family Sir? " she asked while throwing the second paramedic a quick glance.
"We work together at the station. Police station." Marc fumbled with his wallet to show his office ID. "He wasn't responsive when I arrived. I will come with him".
The blonde paramedic nodded once and closed the doors "Okay. Tobi, let's go".

They arrived at the hospital within minutes but Marc couldn't tell time. The only things he could tell were that Kay looked incredibly, scarily pale and that the paramedic didn't like the temperature reading she got of Kay. At the hospital, everything went extremely rushed and loud. "Multiple head trauma, blood loss, hypothermia, pulse and blood pressure low but stable, possibly further trauma in midsection."
"OR1 is prepped, MRI1 remains in standby for us. Let's go."
Marc saw them transport Kay through a set of doors and understood without any words the nurses look. He was not allowed to follow.
"Washrooms are to your left and the waiting area is just behind you".
Marc couldn't manage more than a nod as a response before he fell down on a seat.

After one hour of waiting, he overheard a call for a MRI technician as "patient had been stabilized for head scan" but that was it. No news, nothing. The fear for Kay's life and the guilty conscience about all his thoughts last night were eating at Marc. While he had been smoking cigarette after cigarette and imagining Kays party night the blond had been hurt badly and left bleeding in the park. Kay wasn't out partying, wasn't kissing any nameless guy, he was attacked, hurt, defenseless, waiting for help. Shit.
His phone kept vibrating every now and again but Marc couldn't care to answer. Couldn't move any muscle, first he needed to know Kay was alright.

Somewhere between 1 hour and one day later a guy dropped into the seat next to him, shaking him out of his stoic waiting.
"There you are, Marc. Couldn't you just answer your goddam phone ?
First Bettina called me worried about your night shift not ending and then Karl asks me how to contact you for the statement about finding Engel."
It took Marc a moment to understand that Frank was sitting next to him and speaking to him. "Shit, Frank I am sorry.”
“It’s almost 5 hours since you made the call to the police and then left the scene.” Frank provided in an clear only slightly accusatory voice.
“I hadn't realized how late it is, I was just waiting on news about Kay, I, I must have fallen asleep." He tried to lie. He hadn't closed one eye, hadn't dared to move from his chair, afraid that he may miss any news, any hint of information about Kay. The doctor that took Kay to the OR had not come back out. Noone came out from behind the double doors in the last hours.

"You don't look like you got any sleep now or during your NIGHT SHIFT." Frank was obviously pissed about his lies – shit…what did he tell Bettina ?
"Frank, what did…"
"I tell Bettina? Nothing. For now. But I am not going to lie for you. I said I'd find you. Here I am. So you go clean that blood of off your hands and face and let me drive you back to the station. Maybe you call your family on the way there ?! " Frank didn't make it sound like an option but like a command. So Marc got up and went to the washroom.
"Can you check if there is any news on Kay ? It looked like he lost a lot of blood." Frank barely nodded before he went to the information desk.

Marc couldn't recognize the man in the mirror that looked at him in the washrooms. Removing the blood -Kays blood – didn't make any difference. The guy looked like a ghost. Marc tried to pull himself together and burry any tears he felt coming up. He couldn't break down in front of Frank or his family. Not because of a guy. Not now, not ever. His behaviour was suspicious enough already. He needed to function. One more deep breath and he turned to the door shoulders high.
When he left the washroom Frank was waiting at the door, ready to go.
"They didn't want to give any info. He is still in surgery. Even if it goes well, it will be a couple of hours before he is brought up to intensive care. They asked me to contact his family."
"Shit" Marc tried not to show any of the panic that was rising in his chest.
"Yep. Let's go to the station."

Two hours later Marc was sitting in on his living room couch listening to Bettina.
She was asking for the 10th time why he didn't take her call or call her back.
"I am sorry. Okay ?! My phone was silent. "
"You could have called me back. Should have called me back. How could you forget to let me know where you are? What is going on with you Marc, do you not care about anything anymore ?" Her helplessness in dealing with this disengaged, lying version her boyfriend had turned into in the last couple of months made her angry. Why wouldn't he just talk to her?
"Bettina. I said I am sorry. It will not happen again. My colleague was attacked last night and I just fell asleep waiting for updates on him."
"So now you care about him?" Bettina screamed.
"Yesterday it was wrong of me to invite him and he – let me quote 'is not a part of your circle of friends' and now you wait 6 hours for updates on his status? You didn't even wait that long when Frank had that beer bottle incident two years ago!"
The baby started crying in the background.
" Bettina, again. I am sorry. I will get Sebastian back to sleep and then I will get some rest. " He left the room without waiting for a reply.

Chapter Text

The next morning before work, Marc stopped at the nurses' desk of the intensive care unit. He tried to flirt his way to get any information about Kay's state, but all he got was the very vague information that Kay had survived the procedures and was in fact staying on the intensive care unit. What the hell had happened to him? When would he wake up again ? Would he wake up? Would there be any kind of longer lasting effects or damages? All of these scary questions were running around Marcs head as he made his way to the morning meeting.

“I am sure you have already heard colleague Engel has been involved in a physical altercation or possibly become victim of a violent attack Saturday night. He suffered from multiple traumas, has been operated on and is currently in the intensive care unit of Marienhospital downtown. The doctors have put him into an artificial coma for now to improve his recovery process. Our colleagues Meier and Keller from department F03 have taken over the case for now and plan to interview the members of our team in the course of this week. I expect your full cooperation in the analysis of these unfortunate events. I promise to update you on all types of news immediately." Eiden added a few more sentences about staying optimistic and focusing on work before closing the topic and leaving the room.

The day seemed to drag on infinitely but still Marc didn't feel any hunger when lunchbreak finally came.
"Hey Marc, is it true you found him? " Britt asked with a mixture of concern and curiosity as she sat down across from him.
"Yeah, the ambulance was there real quick though." Marc had expected this. Still, he really didn't feel like sharing these minutes somewhere between panic, fear and the learned routine of accessing status of victims. But Britt was staring at him expectantly. "There's really not much to say. I was having an early morning run, I saw someone on the ground, went over there and it just happened to be Engel. I have no idea what happened to him, when or why. And for everything that happened afterwards you'll have to ask in the hospital. Sorry." Marc got up and went outside for a smoke to avoid any further questions.

At home Bettina was still waiting for him to explain. Explain Saturday, explain the weird behavior of his parents, explain Sunday morning, explain all the weird moods and things of the last months. Thankfully, she wasn't pushing anything for now, so Marc just took his chance to spend some time with the baby. Feeding him, hugging him to his chest and carrying him around the halfway ready nursery. Alone with his son in this room he had a purpose and at least part of his life made sense.

Tuesday and Wednesday came and went in a similar fashion, Eiden gave no updates on Kay's status and Marc was barely functioning. His mind would wander to Kay all the time and people in office were starting to get annoyed with his exhaustion and "moodiness". He claimed the baby didn't allow much sleep at the moment and felt slightly guilty over blaming his son who actually was an angel.
The problem was the lack of news, which left him worrying about never seeing Kay smile again. Or Kay smiling but never being able to work again in the job. Sometimes he was imagining Kay waking up and not remembering anything. This could happen after head injuries, when googleing Marc even found some medical reports on it. It wasn’t common, but what if? Would it be a blessing if Kay just woke up not remembering their story?
Or not remembering the last months? Would he be able to make Kay believe that they had separated amicably? Would he be able to carry on working with Kay, if the blond didn’t remember him... remember them ?
If the affair would be deleted from Kays mind, would their chemistry die? Would they be able to sit through a training without this electricity, this burning need to fight or fuck which had gotten them into all kinds of problems before?
Would he finally stop dreaming of the blond if he stopped throwing him all these looks and glances?
And really, what kind of a person was he to contemplate the simplifications for his own messed up life that might result from brain damage on Kays side? Was he becoming insane?


When he was more calm, collected and realistic, he thought about seeing Kay again. About visiting Kay with some other colleagues in the hospital a few days from now and to hear him speak about normal post- operation aches and bad hospital food. He thought about the awkwardness that would be there, also about the relief he would be able to feel. But whenever he thought about seeing Kay again, too many memories were coming to his mind and too much worry for what was to come.

Most of the day the worry and useless circles of thought kept Marc from getting any work done, he messed up in physical trainings so much that he was dismissed even. In the few situations were coffee and an interesting task kept Marcs focus for more than ten minutes, his work would come to a halt because of another type of thoughts and observations. Marc always thought that he didn’t have much to do with Kay at work, that they managed to be “normal colleagues” in the station. Now he noticed how much little comments, half-filled out forms, short cigarette breaks and small acts of kindness were shared between them daily.
Like the espresso, he blindly reached for after reaching page 7 of the report form TR046 on Tuesday. He hated that form with a vengeance and Kay knew it. He always brought him an espresso when he reached the 50% of that form. “To keep you going”, Kay had explained the first time, Marc had smiled at him and mumbled a “thank you”. Now he reached for a cup that wasn’t there and couldn’t remember if he had said “thanks” any of the many times that followed.
Observations like how much he missed that silly wide smile with the eye roll during motivation speeches before any operation. It always motivated him more than anything Eiden or Frank could say.

Or things like that walnut-olive bread roll, that he was staring at right now. He bought it every Wednesday morning and Kay would steal it, smiling a “thanks mate” biting into it just after hand-to-hand combat training. Today he had been dismissed less than 15 minutes into the training after hurting Britt’s shoulder because he wasn’t concentrating. Frank had shouted on him and send him up to do paperwork. He had brainlessly gone through the papers, completing them, scanning and archiving, trying to keep his thoughts away from bright eyes, soft lips, light stubble and the hospital.
Now it was almost 2 PM, he was back at his desk and staring at that stupid bread roll. Kay’s bread roll. He felt tears running down his face and his chest closed in on him. Marc barely managed to run to the washrooms and lock himself inside before he was crying and fighting to find his breath. He was still sitting on the ground, shaking and crying when he clearly heard Kay’s voice beside him “breath evenly, pussy.”
“Seriously. In and out, in and out, in… out” he could feel Kay breathing just next to his ear and started matching it's rhythm. When he had calmed the ghostly sensation of Kay's breath had disappeared. He went back to his desk, threw the bread roll into the dustbin and hid behind his screen for the rest of the day.
Because of Kay’s situation there was no real concentration, there was worry and no way to find sleep easily. And even if he fell asleep his dreams centered on the fights they had had and on the harsh last sentence spoken between them.

At least 10 times Marc drove by the hospital closely, sometimes even stopped in the parking lot but he never made it back up to the nurse station, afraid of bad news or questions. He thought about coming in uniform and claiming to be involved in the investigation that had started shortly after his first visit, but it was too risky with people from his station actually interviewing everyone that had only so much as seen Kay in the last two weeks. So he didn't leave the car but started it again and went home.

Later in bed he couldn't fall asleep. The strained atmosphere between him and Bettina felt horrible and needed to be fixed urgently, but his brain was not able to think about anything for long, except for how Kay would be in the cold and sterile smelling rooms of the hospital and how he would hate sleeping under the heavy beddings provided. It seemed like bad karma that the guy he wanted to stop messing up his family life, was now consuming almost all of his energy and focus without doing anything.

Thursday morning Marc got up very early, shaken, feeling like he spend the night on a weird rollercoaster ride. He had slept restlessly remembering afternoons spend in bed with Kay, then kept dreaming of Kay dying in the park or dying on the transport to the hospital in an loop. Kay would suddenly stop breathing, the instruments in the ambulance would first beep in alarm and finally in a constant flat signal. The paramedic would start resuscitation procedures immediately but the doctors would declare Kay dead on arrival in the emergency room. Marc felt like he was drowning, couldn't breath.

He woke up and after half an hour of tossing and turning, he fell asleep again and dreamt about the first few academy weekends. The hidden smiles, the challenges, the seemingly accidental touches that would continue to appear and lengthen. One weekend Kay had lit every single cigarette while holding Marcs hand. He didn't care if Marc had a lighter, matches or only a lit cigarette...Kay would grab that hand... and he would combine lighting a cigarette and sending sparks along Marc's hand in playful and sometimes incredibly intimate ways. They didn't speak about it. Wouldn't dare to. But Kays eyes were implying challenges and sinful things. And Marc couldn't look away. He was getting addicted to these new feelings.
Suddenly the dream shifted away from the memories and moved to the living room of his new house which felt tense and overcrowded.

His parents were there and Claudia, Frank, Britt, more unit members and of course Kay. He seemed to be the center of attention as he walked up to Marc. Kay looked truly upset and defeated "you think it's better if I go now, better if I leave you alone? Okay Marc, so this is goodbye. How about one last contact before I disappear. A Kiss ? A Punch ? Some words ? I'll take whatever you give."
The family and friends were staring disbelieving and shocked at them, while Marc stood frozen.
The people started speaking but he couldn't understand a word, he was hypnotized by Kays hurt and challenging eyes right in front of him and the suffocating idea of one final kiss... In front of all these people ?
Seconds passed, maybe a minute. Then Kay made a half step towards him, "Pussy" he whispered. He placed a small kiss on Marcs cheek "see you next life" he whispered.
Marc woke up shaking. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. He needed to get to the hospital. Maybe this was his intuition telling him something. What if Kay was dying? Maybe Marcs mind was just gloomy tonight and everything would be okay. Whatever it was, after three days of no news he needed to see Kay.

Sneaking into Kays hospital room had been easier than Marc expected. What he hadn't expected was that he was barely able to recognize Kay. His face was showing bruises in all colors of the rainbow and the upper part of his head was covered in many layers of gauze. The blonde was attached to lots of monitors, tubes and IV's, but since he was breathing on his own, he appeared to be sleeping. He was breathing, he was alive. Relief flooded through him.
Marc kept standing a couple of steps away from the bed, unsure what to do, unsure what he had expected to find. There was no way for him to get any further information from this room, the displays and graphs, even the papers attached to the end of the bed meant nothing to him. He came here to know Kays status. But for anything beyond “he is breathing”, this was actually useless. Still he couldn't make himself leave the room just yet. He paced up and down at the foot of the bed, made a few steps in each direction and tried to argue the options to get information from the nurses once more. It was useless and might get him into trouble. He couldn't do it.
After a few minutes, he walked up to the side of the bed. When Marc finally took one of Kays hands in his and gave it a light squeeze, he still didn't know anything. But his heart felt calmer, and he immediately took a few deep breaths without realizing that he hadn't felt this serene in weeks. Marc kept holding Kays hand wishing him to wake up, to smile at him. He was so focused on the warm weight of Kays hand in his, that he didn't notice the night nurse checking the room through the window. Neither did he notice the few tears that were running down his cheeks. He was simply in the moment, trying to soak up some more of the feelings he couldn't describe. Trying to soak up some Kay.

An alarm in one of the neighboring rooms set of a commotion in the hallway and jerked Marc into action. Placing a kiss on Kays hand he checked the situation and sneaked out of the hallway and out of the hospital. When he reached his car he did a double take at the clock. 7 AM ? That couldn't be right. When his phone confirmed the time Marc hurried to work and tried to remember when he had entered the hospital. His mind must be playing tricks on him; it could not possibly have been more than one and a half hours. Anyways, he had to hurry to work. So he started the car and turned on the radio:

" You only did what you did for a reason, yeah
You tried to open up, but you were scared to lose what we have
Why, why?
Did I tell you things that I didn't believe in
I lied
Tried to protect you by hiding my feelings
We got tied
Up in this lie I created to keep you on my side
Keepin' it inside of me isn't worth it
Don’t lie to me

Warning to all drivers the ramp to B27 from Kornwestheim in direction of Stuttgart is closed after an accident.

I don't know who we think we're deceivin', yeah
Tell me, why does it feel like we need to hide what we are"

Stopping the car he saw an also slightly delayed Limpinski rushing through the doors of the station. Marc lit a cigarette. Closing the car door he thought "that guy's a good reason to hide what we are….".
The time at work seemed to pass more easily than in the days before but once Marc reached home the tense mood there felt horrible. Bettina had prepared some dinner and appeared to not accept one more night of complete silence.

"So, how was work ?" She asked, passing him the potatoes.
"And? Come on Marc, talk to me."
Marc sighed and took a sip from his beer. "We're planning our operation for next weeks' soccer match. Some known troublemakers from Dynamo Dresdens fans are expected to try confronting Stuttgart fans, so we are trying to find routes and road blocks to have them separate at all times. Working with three other units is giving Eiden a headache."
"Will this mean overtime or night shifts again?" Bettina asked noticing how Marc tensed up immediately.
"I don't know yet, honey. Thank you for cooking dinner, it's great." Marc tried looking anywhere but at her face, scared that she would go back to asking about previous night shifts. He couldn't believe his luck when the doorbell rang and was up and at the door within seconds.

He had hoped for a second that it would be a spontaneous visit from Frank but found his mother at the door.
"Mama? What are you doing here ?"
"I just wanted to see how you're doing. Is everyone healthy? Everything good?" She moved passed her son into the hallway.
"Yes, we are doing okay. Actually, we are just having dinner now and Sebastian is asleep, so… Mama, what are you doing here?"
"I just wanted to check on you. I saw the car at the hospital again in the morning and was worried that someone of you were seriously sick, you didn't pick up the phone so..."
"You went to the hospital, Marc?" Bettina had joined them in the hallway. The question, the distrust in her eyes was physically hurting him. He tried not to let it show.
"Yeah, it was nothing, just a checkup for my nose, if everything has healed properly" Marc lied. He clearly saw his mothers' shift in mood when he mentioned the incident that had made her pick him up three weeks ago. She was silent for a moment, her jaw seemed tense.
"Inge? Is everything all right?" Bettina carefully asked.
"Oh, yes. Well, good that you take doctor's visits seriously, Marc, your dad never does."
Her smile was strained but after a few seconds she continued. "So, I wanted to talk to you, because on Saturday there will be barbecue in the Mueller's garden. You know, they just became grandparents a few week ago, like us. And they have invited you to join us. Hartmut's daughter will also join with her twins. They are six months now and soo cute. You have to come, being with other new parents will be good for you. Schillers may also come by in the afternoon. Bettina, what do you say?"
Bettina looked not exactly ecstatic but confirmed their attendance nonetheless. After a few more minutes of strained pleasantries, Marc’s mother left the house and the couple resumed their dinner in silence.

"Bettina, I will go over to Frank for a beer or two, Promise to be back by eleven." He was already at the door when Bettina appeared in the hallway. "Please don't lie to me, Marc."
"I'm not. I will be at Frank’s. And I will be home by eleven."

Chapter Text

On the five minute walk to Frank’s house Marc contemplated Bettina’s last sentence. She had used the word “lie” for the first time.
Was she finally fed up with pretending that everything would be all right? Was she going to ask more questions now? How much did she know or assume? He tried to loose these thoughts as he rang the doorbell, hoping for a relaxing couple of beers with his best friend.

It quickly turned out that going to Frank had not been a good idea. While he was happy to see Marc, he assumed that he came to talk about the "nightshift" that ended in the emergency room or about the complete mess he had been at training or some of the other changes in behavior that Frank that observed in him.
As they were sitting outside in the garden Frank assured him that Britt had already forgiven him his silly mistake and that he would not speak with Eiden about his disastrous performance at training. “Marc, everyone has a bad day once in a while, but I feel that there is something on your mind, especially this week. I am here … come on talk to me.”
Marc just silently stared at his beer bottle.

When a few minutes had passed and it became obvious that he wouldn’t talk, Frank broke the silence again:
"Marc, things happen, experiences…affairs or whatever adventures you're having… they happen, whatever thoughts or doubts you're having - they happen, it’s a normal part of life. Believe me, I know. These things… they may be not that important and pass, or they may be very important - it's for you to figure out. I just feel like you are stuck in some mess and your restlessness and your moods affect your family, your work, all of us.” He took a large gulp from his beer.
Marc didn't want to upset his friend – neither by analyzing what had developed between Kay and him nor by speaking about the affair Frank was having and that was hinting at heavily, so he tried to close the topic quickly. He tried to imply that everything would turn to normal given enough time.

“Your normal just got a significant update, mate. A new house and a baby all within a few months, that’s a lot of change. And I know, that nights spend trying to calm a crying baby are not the fun part about family life. They certainly aren’t sexy. And if you need to have a night off here and there and experience something different... I get it. But don’t destroy your relationship or your career over it. You’ve got everything you ever wanted. Of course living directly next to your parents, Sebastian having crying nights, weekends spend at the academy and Bettina not liking her body at the moment are making it less perfect, some days even stressful. But man, you got a life millions would kill for. You’re a lucky guy, Borgmann."

Suddenly Marc was transported back into Kay’s bedroom: he was lying flat on his back, completely bare, his hands tied above his head. His whole body was tense, on fire, screaming with need under Kays teasing touches, kisses and bites. The blond was sitting back on his heals between Marcs widely spread legs and soaked up every whimper and moan that left his mouth. “I should really drag this out, but I have a soft spot for you… you’re a lucky guy, Borgmann” with that he had taken him deep into his mouth and Marc had been left fighting to enjoy the sensations without reaching his release immediately.
He shook his head to clear the images away. He was sure his face turned bright red and he didn’t manage to keep the “What if I want something else?” inside, that had been in the back of his mind for a while now.

Frank waited for a short moment if he would offer anything else and then replied that it was foremost key to understand what he wanted, what he expected and to not hurt Bettina. "Marc, whatever you do… whoever you do it with, whatever you want –make sure it’s realistic, not some short timed thrill. You don’t have to tell me but I ask you: try not to lie to me. We have always been honest with each other…” he sighed. ”But even more importantly don't lie to yourself. " Frank got up, went into the kitchen and came back outside with two more beers. He handed one to Marc, who was barely looking at his face. Frank sat down again and stopped talking. His friend seemed to be in thoughts and not willing to share any of them.

When he arrived back at home, Bettina had cornered him in the bathroom while brushing teeth once again. "So, you had a good night with Frank?" She asked, already a tense undertone in her voice. Marc nodded at the mirror and made a m-hm sound.
"That's great. Do you maybe feel like talking to me as well? Or at least explain what weird thing is going on with your mother ?" Marc's heart started racing.
"What happened ?" he asked lowly, almost afraid of the answer.
"Yesterday she asked me if we are having sex again." Bettina looked embaressed and frustrated.
Marc's eyes almost doubled in size. "What ?"
"Well, not in those words" Bettina conceded "But I had to play exceptionally dumb in not understanding what she meant. And it's wonderfully timing, since I myself was wondering... what's going on Marc ? It's been weeks and... you don't touch me at all. We barley kiss anymore and when I try to initiate..." she sighed. "I feel so silly. What am I doing wrong ? Is ..."she stared at the floor trying to gather her thoughts " I know my body is different and I will need a few more months but... am I that unattractive for you now ?" Tears and frustration and the ugliest form of self-doubt were clear on Bettinas face.
And it broke Marcs heart. An bucket of icy guilt had been dumped over his head. This beautiful, loving woman didn't deserve any of the fears and self doubts she was going through. He needed to fix this. So he stepped over, took her in his arms and hugged her. He kissed her hair told her how wonderful and beautiful she was and that it wasn't her fault that she just had an idiot of a boyfriend. He mumbled somehting about stress at work and upcoming exams at the academy and that she was a patient angel that he surely didn't deserve. He tried to pour all his love and kindness for her into the hug and the words and swore to himself to fix this. He kissed her slow and carefully, ignoring his own feelings, just focussing on making her feel loved and beautiful. When she stopped crying and started whimpering needily into the kiss, Marc took a step back and asked with the kindest voice if it was okay for him to undress her.
She nodded and moved with him in the direction of the bedroom. When she started undressing him and kissing his skin it felt warm and caring but unbelievable wrong. There was no desire or lust building in Marc but he was determined to not let that stop him. He decided to focus on her and showered her with kisses and touches hoping that his body would start and react soon. But it didn't. The smells, the softness of the skin, the sounds she made... everything was wrong. Marc's thoughts were running a mile a minute. He wouldn't think about Kay, not here, not now. No he would do this differently. "Bettina, Schatz, I am sorry, I think I had to much beer ... my best friend is not cooperating. I will use my hand..." when she looked up at him he didn't dare to meet her eyes: he just kissed her and pleasured her, focussing on her need alone.

Afterwards Marc felt tired but couldn't fall asleep. He wasn't sure if Bettina was actually asleep or just feigning it. He wasn't sure if he wanted to know. Wasn't sure if the awkwardness he felt was only exisiting in his head or keeping Bettina's thoughts running in circles, too. The pressure to explain himself, to talk was getting bigger and bigger and he felt that he didn't know what to do, what to say. He wanted nothing more than to continue his family life with Bettina and their son and become the good husband and dad he had always hoped to be one day. Right now, everything should be easy and clear. Kay was, for the lack of a better term "out of the picture", not much differently than what he would have requested almost a week ago, the situation at work and his course was okay and he should be able to concentrate on his family life. Enjoy the new role as a parent and this challenging start phase of family life. But he wasn't. He wasn't even able to sleep with his beautiful girlfriend. He was worried about Kay, was missing him constantly and felt like every single breath was focusing on him only.

Yesterday he even caught himself daydreaming Kay into his taking care of the baby. While he was changing Sebastian's diapers, he imagined Kay checking up on them from over Marcs shoulder, asking him about his day and handing him a fresh diaper. The images in his head were peculiarly homey and were difficult to align with the partying guy that Marc knew Kay to be. On the other hand, the daydreams' images were easy to align with the warm and caring Kay that stared at him after their lovemaking and that came to check up on his nose after a long shift. Kay was excitement and fun and danger but at the same time comfort and softness and… well...things he couldn't name. Frank was right. Things happen. It's part of life. And all of these things were keeping Marc awake now. He needed to figure out what they meant.

Friday morning Marc was still ruminating his daydreams, thoughts and actions when the morning meeting turned interesting:
"Our colleagues from Stuttgart have contacted me just an hour ago to ask if anyone of our unit can be available tomorrow to support the supervision of the demonstrations. As per last nights' court decision, all three demonstrations are granted for tomorrow, but none of them has been labeled critical. That means there will be no emergency call for complete units from the area to jump in to support. It will be on volunteers' basis only and they will fill the rest of mandatory spots with those of their own guys that have off weekend or vacation.
So, anyone up to save a Stuttgart colleagues' weekend? Preferably someone with time to also support the operations planning tonight?" A few hands raised up and Marc quickly decided that this was a perfect opportunity to avoid his parents barbecue invitation and show some engagement at work.
"Müller, Köllner, Berchert, Borgmann" Eiden nodded at each of their raised hands." Very well, please come see me in the course of the morning to organize the details." The unit members started grabbing their coffee cups, some discussing their weekend plans in low voices getting up to leave the room.

"One more thing" Eiden interrupted the police officers "I have been informed by the Marienhospital that today the medication for the artificial coma will be discontinued for our colleague Engel. He will be transferred down from the intensive care to the general internal medicine floor. He is expected to regain consciousness anywhere between 24 and 60 hours from now and can be visited. The nurses have however requested me to tell you to NOT visit in big groups. I think they are afraid of a repeat of the chaos that occurred when colleague Richter was hospitalized." Eiden commented with a small laugh.
"That was the still the best pizza party of my life, thank you guys" Frank commented, remembering fondly how Lukas, Britt, Marc and Gregor had coordinated a gathering of almost half their unit around his bed when he became bored.

When Eiden left, Britt turned around to Frank and Marc "So, what do you guys think about making a visit on Monday or Tuesday after the shift ? Just some outside food, maybe a couple flowers?"
Gregor Limpinski turned towards her "Why do you wanna run after that faggot anyways ? Flowers ?
It's not like the cocksucker will fall in love with you."
"Shut up Gregor" Frank interjected. He caught Britts upset look and Marcs tense silence.
"Let's just speak about this later Britt. For now, let's go to work".
Marc felt elated that Kay was supposed to wake up soon; it was as if his tiredness had been pushed away by the news and he was finally able to fully focus and work again. To further improve his mood he felt very good about his decision to support the Stuttgart police after the talk with is superior. Bernd Eiden had complimented him on taking his chance to apply the academy training in a real situation and thanked him for agreeing to travel in the afternoon and show "the departments' reliability" in supporting the operations planning in Stuttgart.

Marc went home early to pack a small bag and notify Bettina. She had not been happy with his decision but avoided a fight and just gave him the cold shoulder instead. Marc cuddled and hugged his little son for a while and left for Stuttgart. The traffic in the inner city annoyed him for a bit, but he managed to arrive on time for the operations planning. He had been dubbed "the Ludwigsburg guy" and learned quickly that tomorrow was going to be a chaotic day for the city of Stuttgart.
Three groups had registered demonstrations and protest marches: the union of primary school teachers planned to demonstrate against a change in the financing policy of music, arts and sports programs, the Lesbian and gay association wanted to protest for a change in adoption rights and a right wing nationalist group prepared to protest against immigrants living within city limits during their asylum process. The head organizer hat labeled the groups "the teachers" "the rainbows " and "the anti- immigrants" and showed different options and routes for all three groups. Main target was to keep the groups clearly separated and to not block all major streets at the same time, as it was the main day for shopping and inner city activities. Additionally an eye should be kept on the central station and prevent any grouping of possible counter- demonstrators that may want to interfere or simply provoke "the rainbows" or "the anti-immigrants".

During the meeting Marc was able to use some of his training and impressed one of the older officers by suggesting a small change in the route that would improve the options of redistribution of police officers immensely, if it should be required. When the operations organization was explained to the main unit leaders of Stuttgart half an hour later Marc was standing with the department heads in front of the group. He didn't get to speak, but the change in perspective was an interesting experience.

"So basically we will use "the teachers" as a buffer between "the rainbows" and "the anti-immigrants" and keep at least two lines of officers and a street between each of the groups." The head organizer summarized.
"You will find the exact starting location for your unit tomorrow morning at 8 in the action plans. Official timing of the demonstrations is between 11 and 3, so if we get lucky we will all be home on time for dinner". Some chuckles could be heard from the unit heads and then the people started to leave to room. Marc was just thinking about options for dinner when two officers approached him "Hey, Ludwigsburg, wait." a red headed female called out.
"Yes? I'm Marc Borgmann." Marc offered in her direction.
"Jenny Schmidt" she extended her hand for a shake and then pointed at the guy next to her "and this is Tom Hauberg"
"Got one short question: Is Engel joining later tonight or tomorrow?"
Marc couldn't believe what he was hearing. "Sorry?"
"There is a blonde officer from your station Kay Engel, the last couple of months he was typically joining for "volunteer"-shift stuff. Do you know if he is coming?" Tom asked with a bit too much enthusiasm for Marcs liking.
"No he won't be. He is currently in hospital and not able to work." Marc answered shortly.
"Oh, sorry to hear this. I hope he will be alright." Jenny said, checking Marc’s features carefully, as if she was afraid to say or ask anything. "Sooo, you got any dinner plans, Marc ? You could join us if you like." she invited him quickly throwing a "why not" gesture at Tom.
"No plans yet." Marc answered.
"We're going for greek and meet in about 20 minutes in front of the station, it’s in walking distance and you're welcome to join us" Tom explained and left in the direction of the lockers as Jenny left in the opposite direction with a "see you in a few".

Marc decided to use the time to have a call with his father. In few words, he explained how this extra shift would be beneficial for making use of his training and showing motivation to his department head. They didn't speak about anything else. His dad had never been a man of many words, but ever since "the living room confrontation" with Kay he was even more tight-lipped with his son. So after a few minutes Marc simply ended the call and waited for Jenny and Tom.
The greek restaurant was an old and cozy one that served too large amount of foods with lots of friendly smiles. Marc felt at least a bit relaxed when his two companions shared some stories of funny moments from demonstration and other none too serious events of the station. But, just like Marc's thoughts also the two colleagues questions came back to Kay within less than half an hour.
"So is Kay in hospital because of something that happened on duty or off duty?" Tom asked.
"He was off duty. It's not clear what happened but looks like he was attacked or got into a fight while he was out running. He's wasn't able to give a statement yet".
"But he will be okay?" Jenny asked with honest concern in her voice.
"Everyone hopes so, he should wake up any day now" Marc tried to close the topic before his emotions would show.
"Maybe we can visit him one off-day" Jenny suggested "make sure the small town vibes are not killing his big city soul". Marc looked at her with what he feared was not the most neutral face.
"I'm not shit-talking you're city Marc, calm down." The redhead laughed at him friendly "I'm just saying that Kay is a guy for clubs, Vietnamese street food and art exhibitions and not so much for the bratwurst, beer and shooting club combo that predominates Ludwigsburg."
Marc wasn't sure about art exhibitions but had to laugh in agreement nonetheless "okay, I get what you're saying. So is that how you got to know each other? Vietnamese food after a "volunteer" shift ?"
"Almost." Tom smiled at him. "We were thrown together by coincidence about 4 months ago during one of these football matches where nothing goes as planned. Kay got me and a colleague out of a messy situation and then shamelessly tried to flirt his way into a free dinner with Jenny. "
"And I directly told him that he can join us for dinner if he drops the macho act and does not embarrass us in our favorite Vietnamese diner by asking for Schnitzel" Jenny continued the story with a smile. "We had a great time, nice talks and since then, whenever there is any cooperation for FC Stuttgart games or any volunteer events we make it a point to grab dinner or breakfast or something." Marc tried to remember if Kay ever mentioned anything like this but came up empty. The three talked about mostly work related stuff for another hour before Jenny’s phone rang. She excused herself for a moment.

Tom used the time alone with Marc to ask a question that had been bothering him all night "So how did you react to Kays coming out?"
Marc held his breath for a moment, trying to think of a good reply. "I don't think it was a smart move. And there probably would have been better ways. But I am not bothering him, if that's what you're asking."
"hey, I'm just worried for a friend, a colleague… he just wrote me that there was some trouble in the unit. Nothing major just silly hassle. I just wanted to know what side you are on."
The tensed mood was interrupted by Jenny coming back." Sorry Gents, that was Lis. Kathi doesn't want to sleep without me reading her a story, so I gotta leave in the next … "she looked at her watch "let's say 5 minutes maybe".
"Your daughter? " Jenny nodded so Marc asked "How old is she?"
"Kathi is turning 5 soon. And she is insanely proud of her saving-the –world-police officer mom." She laughed and finished her glass of wine. "I am pretty sure that in a couple of years she will think differently about it."
"Maybe one day teenagers will think police officers are cool, who knows?" Tom offered.
"My dad was a police officer and I became one… but.., no, I doubt that will ever be the case." Marc answered.
"Sorry Tom, I'm with Ludwigsburg on this one" Jenny got up and grabbed her jacket "I've got to leave now. Was nice meeting you Marc, maybe we see each other tomorrow."

Chapter Text

Marc was staring at the wall of the tiny room the Stuttgart police department offered him. He was sitting on the bed but had no illusion about his chances to fall asleep. Too many thoughts were on his mind and the alcohol was pulling his concentration apart in all possible directions. Maybe he shouldn’t have shared the rest of the wine with Tom. Wine was getting him much more drunk, confused and emotional than beer ever could. He was wondering how he could continue his life with Bettina. He didn’t want to hurt her any more than he already had, but he couldn’t make her happy either. Fuck, he couldn’t even feel anything tingling or erotic for her at all…
He hadn’t for months now, but she didn’t deserve a passionless relationship…

Was there anything he could do? Could he learn to find his pleasure in her again? Would she ever forgive him if he told her the truth?
Oh goddamnit he missed Kay. What may he be dreaming about in this artificial coma? Do you dream in such a state?
Would it be better for Sebastian if he and Bettina tried to make it work? Struggle, fight, pretend everything is okay, and stay together for the kid, like so many of his neighbors and colleagues? Didn’t kids feel shit like that? Wouldn’t he be setting a bad example for his son? Would it be better if they were separated and Sebastian grew up between two households and his mother had a chance to be happy?

Would she fight for sole custody if she found out about the affair? What would he do if she took his son away?
She wouldn’t do that. She wasn’t … there were laws.
They’d figure something out. Kay would probably wake up tomorrow or the day after.
And he would probably be disappointed and angry with him.
Could he speak with Kay about all this shit? Would Frank say anything else than “fuck, figure it out yourself”, if he tried sharing any of his worries? Would Frank ever hug him comfortably again if he told him about Kay?

Marc hit his head a couple of times softly against the wall hoping it may stop his thoughts. He sighed and moved under the covers lying down. He really needed to sleep. But within seconds a new round of thoughts started.
Would Kay accept a part-time dad? Would he replace him after a short while with someone more fun, available for club nights every weekend? Why hadn’t he told him about the problems in the unit, the silly comments and anonymous emails? Why did he come to Ludwigsburg and fuck up his life? Was he running away from something?

An image of a pissed-off Kay came to his mind “Did I make you suck my cock, huh?” he had asked “Go on, hit me!”
What a fucked up evening that had been. He had asked him about the same shit that was going in his mind now. Had accused him of planning blackmail, of sleeping with others. After a tense minute, all Kay had done was declare his love. Kay had declared his love and he had answered with “leave me alone” and some half-hearted pulling away and shoving before succumbing into Kays embrace and kisses. They had sunk to the floor after a few minutes, Kay still holding him tightly. Panic and anger and fear and helplessness had been wreaking havoc inside of him and Kay had just held him. Held him together. At the time the “I love you” had barely registered in Marc’s mind, now tired, drunk and remembering that day, a small smile creeped onto his cheeks. And he finally fell asleep.

The next morning Marc felt something similar to rested. He had dreamt about Kay again and about Frank’s comments about figuring out what he wanted and what was realistic. And sure he woke up a couple of times, but totaling above 4 hours of sleep felt like the best rest he had in over a week. The start of the shift held a nice surprise for him, when he found Jenny and Tom in a side street to Schillerplatz setting some barricades. All of them had been located in about the same area for "the rainbows".

"So you and Lis will be on opposite sides of the barricade today, isn't that a bit strange?"
Tom asked while repositioning some fences with Marc and Jenny.
"Nah, she knows it's part of my job and Kathi is starting to understand it as well, so it's cool. I just hope there will be no chaos or panic or idiots… I am always worried when Kathi participates in demonstrations" Jenny caught the questions in Marcs' eyes. "Lis is my wife… well my registered life partner. She will be demonstrating today for my right to legally become Kathi’s mother."

"Oh" Was all Marc said for a second. He never would have thought…
"I would also be worried if my child was going to a demonstration. It's just the jobs perspective, we see how violent, how shitty it can get. So I think it's natural to worry" he replied.
Jenny smiled at him but got called away before she could reply. More and more officers were showing up, positioning fences, checking the small stage build up by the organizational group of the march, checking large bags and tirelessly explaining to shop owners, pedestrians and whoever asked why and how long the access to the street would be limited.

When the demonstration of the association of lesbian and gays started, everything was ready for the couple of hundred adults and kids and their countless banners and rainbow flags. The atmosphere was calm and friendly, even if some of the demonstrators showed their frustration about the snail’s pace in establishment of equal rights in loud and now and again angry chants. Marc was enjoying the atmosphere and the truly small amount of work that was required. He watched the groups closely and was amazed at the spectrum of people that had joined the march.
There were grandmas and great-grandmas in their sixties, seventies and eighties asking that their kids or grandkids may finally get legal status as a parent, groups of young students with what Marc would call "creative hair styles and individual body art" chanting about adoption laws needing to follow constitutional laws, lesbian couples pushing strollers decorated with colorful cardboards, a few couples that were looking like they tried to fulfill every cliché that ever existed about gay men… all in all a wild mix.
Surprising to Marc was the large number of single parents and couples that, just like Jenny or Kay, didn’t look at all like the few non-hetero people he had seen on TV. No Elton John or Hella von Sinnen… they were just normal people. He felt in same parts relieved at that realization and surprised at his own stereotypes. What had he expected? Pink jean jackets and black leather shorts?

Hadn’t he literally danced away nights in a gay club? Hadn’t he himself given some of his colleagues bullshit for their stereotypes and silly gay jokes? And how was it possible to feel this relieved just by watching people?
He was interrupted in his musings when an old lady fell down close to him. Marc quickly jumped across the fence and helped her up. Asking if she was okay, she just smiled at him: “Thank you, young man. It’s been a while since I’ve been to one of those. I should have worn other shoes for all this walking” she laughed at herself. Marc smiled at her unsure if he should offer anything or say something. “Well, thanks again, I gotta hurry now, my girls are already at the stage!” The lady walked away and Marc back behind the fence.
“Well, if that’s the only action today, I guess we can call ourselves lucky” colleague Müller from Ludwigsburg commented. Marc agreed and managed a few minutes of friendly small talk, before falling silent again.

About half an hour later one small group captivated Marc’s attention: 3 guys, a woman and a boy that was maybe 8 or 9 years of age were walking with linked hands. They were all wearing black shirts with a rainbow flag in front and carried a big banner stating, "Family, like love, comes in many forms. Equal rights now."
The backsides of their shirts read "(Step-) father " "mama" "papa" "(Step-) dad" and "I got 4 awesome parents".
They were talking and joking with one another and smiling the whole time from entering Marc’s field of vision until they left it. Their picture made it easy for Marc to imagine a future he hadn't dared dream about until now.
What if Sebastian, Kay, Bettina and him would be walking like this in a few years? It seemed absurd and impossible right now. But the second he imagined it, he knew he wanted it like nothing in his life before.
He wanted Kay to play a major part in his life. He felt like he needed him to.
It was as if a veil had suddenly been lifted.
How could he not have figured that out before?

Shortly after his revelation the stage program of the demonstration started. As the stage and sound were being prepared, a song from Bosse was played and Marc had that silly feeling that it had been selected specifically for him.

"I have learned that the first impression deceives
And that it can be good to get lost,
I have learned that even if it's bad,
The sun will rise nonetheless

And suddenly there is a brilliant idea
like a fresh breeze, a new day
And suddenly there is a brilliant idea
And it turns light where there was dark
And everything is now,
everything, everything, right now
Life is too short
Too short to put on a long face
And bit by bit the laughter returns
And the joy and the sway of hips and the happiness

I have learned that there are lots of stupid people,
that pass on their hate, this way borders are built
I have learned that the courage you give
Turns into the love you receive "

The day concluded in a calm and orderly way for all three demonstrations. To the surprise of pretty much everyone the unit heads actually met back in central operations at 5 PM. Jenny gave Marc her number in between the chaos of thank you's, goodbye's and "have a nice weekend"s and asked to inform her about updates on Kay. Marc hugged her and packed his bag into his car. He wanted to return to Ludwigsburg as quickly as possible.

Chapter Text

Marc entered the hospital with a sense of urgency he could not describe. Now that he had realized what he wanted, he needed to move, to talk, directly before he lost his courage. He needed to tell Kay he was ready to start a new life. Not running away as he had proposed a long time ago, but starting a different life. With him.
The closer he got to Kay’s room, the more nervous he felt. What if the life he shortly envisioned was just a quick obsession, a crazy vision?
What if it didn’t work out between Kay and him?
What if Bettina never forgave him?
Would he ruin the most important relationship of his adult life by confessing to Bettina tonight?
Would he ruin it based on one afternoon at a demonstration? Based on a feeling?

He found Kay’s new room easily. Kay was still sleeping, but thankfully, the swelling and colorful bruises on his face had healed a bit more.
Marc looked at him from a few meters distance.
There it was again. This tingling, this electricity between them…the overwhelming need to touch.
Even without those magnetic eyes, the tempting smile and the flirting, Kay was pulling him in .. and Marc was letting himself be pulled.

Whom was he trying to fool? The relationship with Bettina had been seriously damaged ever since he had asked Kay to go running in Ludwigsburg.
Since the first time he had given into the need to touch, to taste…
And now he didn’t seem to function without.
Marc sighed loudly. He took a chair next to Kays left side and held his hand for a while before he started to speak.
"Hey Kay… I know you're not much of an early riser, but they cut off the medication something like 30 hours ago. Can you please hurry to wake up? I need to speak with you. I am sorry for what I said, I want to apologize." Marc caressed Kay’s hand and lower arm, hoping to get any reaction - but nothing happened.
"Kay, I think I will speak with Bettina today. I am scared shitless. I could use some of your courage." He kept holding his hand and caressing his lower arm for quite a while. But none of Marc’s wishing changed a thing, the blond didn't magically open his eyes. He remained sleeping.
Marc squeezed his hand and took a long last look at his face before getting up to leave.
It was time.


On the short drive, Marc’s stomach churned and he had to fight the impulse to turn the car around and go anywhere but home. When he finally made it into the house, his hands were shaking.
Where had all this fear, this worry been when he had fucked them all up and decided to meet Kay in the woods?
There was no turning back of time. It didn’t matter now.
Marc took three deep breaths before entering the living room. "Bettina… do you have a moment? " she looked up from her book only for a second, but realized immediately that Marc was looking focused and determined in a way she hadn't seen in months. Also he was obviously scared. So she put her book to the side and gestured for Marc to sit down. She saw him chose a spot with quite a bit of distance to hers.

"Bettina, you asked me if there is something you should know, something I am keeping from you and I have been evading this question like a coward for a while now.“ he took another breath. No backing out now.

“It’s…” Marc felt and saw his hand shake and wondered for a second if she noticed it too.
“It's Kay.
I am having an affair with him.
I don't know how it happened or why it happened. You know I love you."

"Then you'd never have fucked him." Bettina looked shocked, trying to grasp what Marc was saying.

She felt like the ground was opening below her, when he didn't correct her crude statement, didn't say it wasn't true, when he simply carried on speaking.
"Ever since he has been hospitalized I realize that I cannot stop seeing him or pretend that he doesn't matter to me. I am very sorry."

Bettina took a few breaths "What do you want me to say?
The last months you have been sneaking around, acting strange, lying..
all those night shifts? Did you work in any of them?" Her voice raised more and more.
"And then these last couple of days you…" she took a harsh breath. "You have been a ghost Marc,
you have barely been sleeping and during the day you are not seeing, not hearing, not speaking anything, you were on a different planet."

"I know. I am so sorry. I don't want to lose the two of you. I love our son. I care for him so much. I care for you…Bettina, please."

"And Thursday night” a look of realization and anger appeared on her face “Are you gay?"

Marc drew the sholders up slightly "No, I'm ..." the words died on his tongue. “I don’t know.”
Bettina looked away for a moment trying to gather her thoughts - any thought.
"Marc … what do you want?"
Marc looked helplessly around. What did he want ? He wanted Kay to wake up and accept his apoology and take him back. He wanted to magically move to a christmas, two or three years from now, where all of them would be sitting in his parents' living room and watching Sebastian play. Where all of them would be happy and all of this pain and confusion and heartbreak would be long gone. But life did't work that way. And he couldn't say any of this. Not now.

"Do you want that guy?
Why ... why are you telling me this now? What do you want?" she barely whispered.

He didn't reply so she shouted "What do you want?".

The anguish on her face, the breaking voice, all of this was killing Marc but he didn't know how to spare her this pain.

"Bettina I don't want to hurt you and the baby … but I want to check on him, visit him in the hospital without sneaking around… I don’t want to lie to you any longer. I am so sorry that I hurt you."

"I don't want to listen to this. I will go to Frank and Claudia for a while." Bettina got up and quickly grabbed a few items in a bag, while Marc stayed in the living room.He felt drained.

A few minutes later Bettina appeared with Sebastian in the door." I will drop him off at your parents tomorrow. We were supposed to have cake and coffee at 3. I will pick him up again at 5. You can explain this to your parents. "
"Bettina" Marc got up from the couch.
"Don't Marc. Please." She left the house shaking.

Marcs sat down again on the couch and tried to deal with a new rollercoaster of emotions. He had hoped to feel relieved and calm. But instead he felt guilt and distress for the pain he had caused Bettina, a sense of foreboding how the visit to his parents' home may turn out, he was tired from the impossibly long week, worried and at the same time hopeful for Kay’s recovery and between all of those things he sensed a bit of pride which he really didn't understand. He considered having a couple of beers and spending time with his thoughts... maybe make some ideas about the future. Some plan on what to say to Kay once he wakes up. But he didn’t have any energy left. So he decided to make himself busy in the house and garden for a while instead and to go to bed early.

Chapter Text

Marc woke up in the middle of the night, sweaty, with a racing heart and incredibly turned on. He had been dreaming something about work that wasn’t making too much sense and suddenly the story had shifted and Kay had surprised him in the bathroom just opposite of the police station gym. He was wearing this specific kind of challenging smile, he kept for all kinds of dangerous, sinful and possibly illegal things. And Marc responded with butterflies in his stomach, an accelerating heart rate and a small dose of fear, just like he had when they broke into the pool or when Kay pulled him into the gay club without warning.

Kay pushed him into the closest bathroom stall and kissed him with an intensity that bordered on violence. Marc’s whole body responded. He listened shortly if anyone was entering the washroom area and then took control of the kissing. Pushing both of them into the wall of the stall, he pressed his whole body into Kay. He had just started grinding his hips into the other man’s, enjoying the friction and minimal release it offered, when Frank’s voice could be heard in the hallway “Emergency operation, everyone get ready and in gear!” That’s when he woke up. Fully aware that sleep would evade him for a while now, he took a shower.

He got up after a few more hours of sleep around eight in the morning, put on his running clothes and drove to the woods. He ran their normal route, imagining Kay by his side. Remembering good and bad runs and many small funny and loving moments. To the end of his run, he started wondering if Kay would be able to join him next weekend… Marc was missing him, missing their carefree moments, their runs.
"Funny" Marc thought to himself, before meeting Kay he surely would never have imagined saying that he was missing running. Then again, Kay had turned so many things in his life upside down, that his view on running seemed negligible in comparison.

On the short drive back home, plans for the day were completely occupying Marc’s mind. The visiting hours in the hospital were very limited and ending early on Sundays, so visiting Kay after the time with Sebastian was not an option. Marc knew he needed to arrive at his parents at least an hour before Bettina in order to explain the situation. He didn't look forward to it, but felt it important so that the 2 hours with his son would not be wasted uselessly discussing what his weekend should be like according to his mothers' perspective. So Marc hurried through shower and breakfast and arrived at the hospital before 11.

When he walked past the cafe and shop on the ground floor of the hospital, he wondered shortly if he should bring flowers or chocolate or anything up the room but quickly discarded it as a silly and potentially dangerous. What if any of their colleagues found their way to the room? What if he unerringly selected something Kay is allergic to? Or the type of sweets he absolutely hated? Moments like this he realized how much he didn’t know about Kay. The Vietnamese food Jenny mentioned had been a surprise... had he just wrongly assumed they liked the same things? Had they never discussed the topic of favorites or had he forgotten the answer?

Marc ruminated while he walked the long hallways and took the stairs up. He seemed to remember every detail of every interaction with Kay and the truth was... they didn’t speak that much. Kay didn’t give away details too freely and he had been an idiot and not cared enough to ask. He definitely needed to change that. If he wanted to be with him, it would be his job to know what things other than intense kissing, foreplay and dancing made those blue eyes light up. What things made him happy.
When he saw the trays from breakfast in the hallway of Kay’s ward, he suddenly remembered olive-walnut-bread rolls and a discussion on Darjeeling and English breakfast tea.
Maybe it wasn’t much, but it was a start. Their case wasn't completely hopeless.
Marc smiled when he reached Kays door and was surprised that a nurse was at his side.

"Hello, is it ok if I come inside? Am I interrupting? Marc asked.
The nurse looked up and shook her head "Oh no, come on inside, the young man is still not waking up. Maybe having someone here will make him rise."
Marc felt disappointed at the nurses comment on Kay’s status "Excuse me, is it a bad sign that he's still sleep ?"
"I wouldn't worry about it. Everybody metabolizes the medication differently, and as long as all his vitals are fine, he will wake up sooner or later. He's not a critical case, he's breathing very well, has a strong heart and the whole ordeal just lasted a few days.
Speak with him, maybe hold his hand, or if you have books or music he likes… anything that feels comfortable and familiar can be nice." She smiled at him as she left the room and closed the door.

Marc took his seat again on Kay’s left side and started touching his hand and arm. After a few minutes, he started talking about meeting Jenny and Tom, the demonstration in Stuttgart and anything that came to his mind. He hoped that his voice would be comfortable and soothing and that Kay could hear him, or sense him at least. When the church bells could be heard through the windows at noon, Marc had an idea.
"Kay, you hear the bells? Maybe it's time to kiss sleeping beauty awake?" He was smiling at his own silliness as he leaned down above Kay’s head. "Please wake up". He kissed Kay chastely on the lips and could not believe his eyes when Kay’s eyelid twitched.

As he sat back down on the chair and grabbed Kay’s hand again, two fingers also moved in response to the touch. Marc stared disbelievingly. Was Kay finally waking up?
In the next few minutes, he saw another twitching eyelid and he felt the blond’s thumb press into his hand. When nothing else happened after that Marc became a bit restless and decided to go to the nurses' desk. He found the older nurse that had spoken to him before. He tried to describe what had happened and asked if this means he would wake up now.
"You know, the twitching is a normal stage. It may come and go for another couple of hours. It shows that the medication level in his blood is very low now. If we're lucky he wakes up 5 minutes from now. But it may be 3 hours or even 12. These things are hard to predict." Marc sighed. "Nah, now don't look so sad. Your friend will be all right. Tomorrow, latest tomorrow night you'll be able to speak with him. I'm sure."
"Okay. Thank you for explaining this to me."
"You're welcome."

Marc went back into Kay’s room. He held his hand for a little bit longer, hoping for movements and opening eyes but accepted that it was likely that nothing would happen now. "Kay, I will go now to my parents' house. Tell them what’s going on. I think my mother's opinion on all of this is already clear, let’s hope she doesn’t start preaching. I will tell you about it tomorrow after work.” He got up from his chair. “Please be awake by then." He placed another quick kiss, this time on the forehead, before leaving the room.

As it had to be expected, the talk with his parents did not go over well. Marc had explained to them that he spoke with Bettina about the affair and that she moved out for some time to think. He clearly said that neither he nor she had any definite plans for the future yet, but that he wanted to stay supporting and caring for his son no matter what.
"Marc, you are destroying everything you have built for yourself. Everything we have helped you achieve for … for that man. I cannot understand or accept this. Sebastian needs to grow up in orderly, beneficial surroundings. How can you do this to Bettina, to him? You need to ask Bettina for forgiveness. Forget all of this nonsense" His mother was beyond upset and making him feel more and more guilty. “You need to make a good apology. An apology with a plan for the future. And then ask her to move back in. You are parents to a tiny baby and in love since so many years…there is ups and downs in every relationship. Marc you need to fix this! And the first step is stop meeting or speaking or even thinking about this man!”

"Mama, I know you don't understand this. Hell, I don't even understand it myself. But "this man", Kay, he means a lot to me. He is a good man.” He saw his mother’s disapproval clear on her face. She kept shaking her head, negating everything he was telling. “Mama, he cares for me and when I pretend that he is not important to me… when I can't see him for a few days… I feel horrible, lifeless. I can't stay with Bettina and forget about him. Believe me I've tried. But I can't. When I don't see him... I feel like I can't breathe." He hadn’t meant to say this much, and he could tell it was way too much for his parents by the heavy silence that followed his confession.

The silence was interrupted by the doorbell. Marc got up to the door quickly and opened it. Bettina looked like she didn't get any sleep and had cried a lot since last night. It hurt Marc to see her like this. Instinctively he wanted to hug her, but stopped himself abruptly when he felt Bettina recoil from him.
"Everything you need is in this bag. I will come and pick him up here in 2 hours. It would be good if you could give him a bath. Claudia couldn't find the baby bath in their basement." She placed the MaxiCosi with Sebastian at Marc’s feet.
There were hundreds of things running through his head. He wanted to say something to make her feel better but came up empty at her ice-cold face.
"Okay. Thank you Bettina" he tried.
"I will be back at five. Goodbye Marc". She walked away without hesitation or turning around.

Marc took the bag and Sebastian directly home and spend a good while hugging him to his chest and carrying him around. He felt warm and comforting, the rocking was calming to both of them. Finally, he bathed the baby, dressed it carefully and brought him back over to his parents a few minutes before Bettina wanted to pick him up. When he entered his parents' home, the silence was maddening, but in a way he preferred it to having any further fights. He was ready for this day to be over.


Monday morning started with too much paperwork as Eiden asked Marc to document the strategy and operations plan of the demonstrations that he had been part of. "I want you to present this Thursday in the morning meeting just before we make the operations plan for our engagement in the Stuttgart game. Maybe some elements can be copied for our strategy, and even if not, an educational example can never hurt."
Two hours after that talk Marc wasn't sure anymore if it was a chance or an imposition, but it looked like he was getting the small presentation done before lunch. After that, it would only be 4 hours before he could be at Kay’s bedside again. The 60 hours would be over by then as well, so he should be awake. The prospective of speaking to him made him a bit anxious but also happy. Kay had been asleep more than long enough.

He went up to the cafeteria to grab another coffee when Keller and Meier, the colleagues investigating what had happened to Kay, showed up and asked him to follow them into a separate office.
"Colleague Borgmann, I am sure you can already guess why we brought you back here for further questions, can't you?" Keller asked without any emotions.
"Honestly I am a bit surprised, I thought my statement about how I found Engel was complete. And as far as I am informed he should be available for questioning today." Marc didn’t understand.

"I see, you have not been updated then. Colleague Engel is back on the operating table after pressure in his brain rose to critical levels this morning. He is in surgery right now and they are trying to prevent brain damage. We don't want to paint a too solemn picture or conjure up ghosts, but the department head is worried it may turn out to be an assault with fatal consequences and given Engel's special preferences… well, we are speaking about a hate crime specifically.
During our interviews and research of Engel's background we found that the two of you are having a history of fights which we will need to question you about."

Chapter Text

Marc’s heart was racing, he felt like there was no air in the room.
Operating table.
Brain damage.
Kay may die.

It was too much. It couldn't be happening. Marc couldn't breathe. Couldn’t hear. Couldn’t focus on anything. His whole body was going into shock reaction and there was nothing he could do. He started shaking and sweating and managed to get up and over to a dustbin just seconds before he lost his breakfast.

"Borgmann? Everything okay?" Officer Meier asked.
Marc looked up from the dustbin. Pale, sweaty and miserable.
"There's a bathroom just next door. Maybe you take 5 minutes," he suggested.
Marc barely mumbled a "thank you" before he went out and into the washroom. When he closed the door of the stall, the tears started flowing freely, overpowering him. He felt like he was falling, like there was no solid ground remaining below him.
This couldn’t be happening. Kay was getting better. Kay was getting better and Marc finally knew what he wanted. He needed to speak to Kay, needed to apologize. He had done countless things wrong. Especially in the last weeks. He needed Kay to wake up and forgive him. He needed Kay to be okay. Kay couldn’t die before he…

Kay couldn’t die. Kay was in surgery, there were doctors with him… he wouldn’t die. He would be okay.
He would be okay.
Marc tried to focus on this thought.

After a few minutes, the tears had slowed down. He felt drained but knew he needed to face the world again. Washing his face and rinsing his mouth, he tried to make himself feel better and more presentable. One glance into the mirror confirmed that he looked completely fucked up. He tried to put his indifferent mask in place – but worried, pale and with red rimmed eyes, it was only partially working. He had no idea how long he had kept Meier and Keller waiting, but postponing his statement any longer would definitely not be a good thing. He would tell them everything he knew or could think of. Fuck his image, fuck what Meier and Keller may think, fuck rumors at work. If there was anything he could do to help catch the person that put Kay in this situation – he would do it.


In the meantime in office room:

"What the hell was that? Guilt and panic? Maybe your theory about Borgmann wasn't so wrong after all." Officer Meier looked a bit confused in direction of his colleague who seemed just as surprised.
"Let's try to get his statement now and interview Limpinski in the afternoon. We just need to make sure they don't have lunch together to align stories. It's still possible both of them are involved. Or maybe all of this is completely useless and it was someone from outside." Officer Keller got up. "I will go and get some coffee; can you make sure room "Int2" is available and blocked for us? Maybe doing these interviews in our office is not that suitable".


When Marc left the washroom officer Keller was already standing in the hallway. He showed him to a small interrogation room, where Meier and three cups of coffee were waiting.
"Borgmann, first of all I have to ask if you feel capable to give your statement or if you require medical assistance?"
"No, I am fine. And you don't need to repeat my rights and that all, what I say, will be documented, I am aware of the legislation and signed this already when I gave my statement 8 days ago." The officers nodded at him.

"Very well. So, as we already said before we came across some fights, even some violence between officer Engel and yourself throughout the last months and would like to get your statement on those. Also we'd like to clarify what happened between Saturday, where multiple colleagues of the unit met him at your private home and Sunday morning when you found him and called the ambulance." Keller explained.
"So starting from the weekend, could you please explain what happened on Saturday, where you were and specifically give details on when and where you had contact with Kay Engel."
Marc took a deep breath; he knew his reaction to Kay's state made him look guilty, like an offender that panicked. "We were celebrating the birth of my son Sebastian that day. My parents, my girlfriend Bettina, and our friends Frank and Claudia Richter, organized a party in the backyard of our house. In the morning, the guys went shopping and setting up tables and benches… things like that and the women were inside baking, cooking and taking care of the kids. Around 2 PM friends and some colleagues of the unit arrived. Peter, Gregor, Britt, Lukas, Julia, some other friends of the family. I can forward you a complete list, if required. "

"Was Kay Engel amongst the colleagues arriving at 2?" Meier asked for the protocol.
"No, he showed up later, maybe around three. Bettina had invited him."
"Was there anything special about Engels' visit? Did he spend time with the other unit members or did he get into any fights or problems? Did you speak with him?" Meier asked opening the statements from various party guests, that Engel had left very suddenly and in a frustrated to aggressive mood after a talk or possibly an argument inside the house.
"I didn't speak with him in the backyard, but we had a short conversation in the living room. My parents where speaking with him, I am not sure for how long before I came by. My mother was upset and I felt it best if he would leave. So I told Kay exactly that and he left the party directly."

"Do you know what your parents were discussing with Mr. Engel or why your mother was upset?" Marc tried to control his rapidly beating heart.
"They were upset because of me.” Marc took another deep breath knowing that his life, especially his situation at work, would irreversibly change with his next words. “They do not like that Kay Engel and me are having an affair. My mother found out a few weeks before and told my father. They were requesting Kay to leave me alone while Kay was trying to explain to them what he feels for me." Marc looked up at his two colleagues on the other side of the table and was not surprised to find a mix of confusion and astonishment on their faces. He knew for sure that this was not at all what they had expected to hear from him.

"Could you please give us more information regarding the relationship between you and Kay Engel? Until now it was our understanding that you were merely work colleagues that irregularly went running together. We have this information from your statement and also from what the members of your unit said."
"The unit doesn't know what is going on between Engel and me. I didn't speak about it with anyone. I told Bettina Saturday. So one week after the party. She probably told Frank Richter in the last two days, but otherwise no one is aware. And no one of the guests was aware at the party, only my parents.”

“But how … or why” Meier asked with an irritated voice, completely stunned and fully out of protocol. He caught himself and continued more calmly "Ehm.. sorry. When did the relationship start?” Meier looked uncomfortable and like he truly couldn't comprehend what Marc was telling him. He was at a loss for correct and official wording of his questions and simply made a hand gesture for Marc to please continue explaining.

“Kay and me, we got to know each other at the academy at the start of the course. Without my knowledge, he asked to be transferred to Ludwigsburg. He ended up in my unit. The first few days, I was stressed by his presence and aggressive towards him. That's the small fights or provocations that other unit members may have reported from about 5 months ago. Our affair started about one week after he arrived. On the night he was attacked, I had told Bettina that I was having a night shift. Actually, I was waiting in his apartment from about 8:45 until the early morning to speak with him."
"So my strong reaction to the news that Kay is back in surgery, is not because I did anything to him that night but simply because he is very important to me and I am shocked." Marc explained.

"Colleague Borgmann, is there any evidence of your relationship with Engel, any kind of proof? Can anyone confirm that you spend the night in his apartment? You must understand that what you have told us has to be verified." Meier still appeared disbelieving.
"Kay gave me the backup key to his apartment. It is in my locker, blue plastic tag with the apartment number attached. I am sure you will find my DNA in his apartment. I don't think Kay has any pictures of me. I definitely don't have pictures. There is lots of messages and calls but nothing that gives away the type of relationship we are having."
"Borgmann, you know very well that it takes a long while to get warrants to check phone records or private apartments. Is there anything else that we can verify more easily?" Meier seemed appalled by the idea to go through the paperwork to get the phone records.

"What about proof that you were in the apartment? You must know that an affair may be an even stronger motivation for a violent physical fight and you have to admit that waiting for a whole night to have a conversation is… unusual. Even more so since you ended up finding him early morning in an unlighted part of the city park. This is … "Meier struggled to find a suitable word, and both Marc and their colleague Keller felt, that he would have expressed an open accusation if Marc weren’t a respected police officer.
Keller jumped in. "Okay, Let’s agree it's unusual. But that doesn’t have to mean anything. Maybe we focus on another point for now. You spoke about being aggressive against Engel after the transfer. And we all know, that there were a few interactions, especially in the hand to hand training that first week, were provocations and small fights were even witnessed by other colleauges. So you understand that we have to ask you: Was there ever any fights or violence in the relationship between Engel and you? Any pressure or emotional abuse, blackmail…"

Marc's face fell ....blackmail... that's exactly what he had accused-asked Kay after the raid. He had been such an idiot, such an asshole to even think that Kay would steep as low as that. He had heared about the raid, about Kay dancing in that club totally drunk and he had been afraid, afraid and selfish. Afraid that Kay was sleeping with others, that he could recreate the intensity that was between them with anyone else. That he didn’t need him the same way he needed Kay. He had tried to argue his fear, the whirlwind of emotions in him, the hurt... he had analysed it and tried to tell himself that his stomach was churning because Kay might start to blackmail him, may threathen to expose him at work. If he would have been honest with him self back then... or even before that on the side of the road where Kay forced him to speak... how much differently everything might have gone...
He sighed “ We had a few short arguments. I hit him once. It was a few days after my son’s birth. Kay forced me to speak to him and I wasn't ready.

"Where did this fight take place?"
"Beside a road outside Ludwigsburg, in direction of Asperg. He made me pull over and stop there."
"What was the argument about? "
"The first few days after the birth I didn't contact him at all, I ignored his messages and calls. He wanted to let me know how he felt about that. He wanted me to make time for him."
"You said you hit him - what lead to the escalation?"
"He told me to "just admit" that I'm gay. I punched him. Once. I split his lip. After that I told him to leave me alone and drove away."
Meier snorted shortly before Keller silenced him with a look.

"Borgmann, would you say that his request would make you hit him again, if he said it to you today ?" Keller asked.
"No, by god no. Let me be very clear: all my life I considered myself straight. I would even have used the word "normal" until a short while ago. I was straight and had my life completely planned out - until I met Kay. He made me question everything... my whole identity. I don't know how I should define myself now. But I wouldn't hit him. Even back then I regretted it instantly, even more so the next morning."
"That would be the morning of the data safety presentation, I assume?"
"yes, exactly."

Keller made a note next to Mr. Eiden's statement that Engel may have been in a fight before because he attended the trainig with a swollen, split lip. And then he linked it to a statement from Britt who had said that there was a weird tension or aggression between Engel and Borgmann, for example during the data saftey training.

“Are you sure that was the only time?” Meier asked, his voice an annoying mixture of interest and challenge.
“Yes, I am sure.” Marc struggled not to respond the accusation that he heard clearly in Meier's voice.
“Thank you for your honest and detailed replay, Borgmann” Keller interjected. "Coming back to the earlier questions: Can you think of any proof for the relationship or at least proof of your whereabouts on the night of the fight/attack ? 

Marc tried to think about anything that may proof the truth. How do you proof something that you tried to keep untraceable for months? They didn't go out to the movies or go shopping together at the mall or have a couple photoshoot like Lukas and Simone. ..that's when it came to mind -cameras! the party!
"Kay and me, were at the Kings- Club in Stuttgart, 5 weeks before the raid. They take pictures there all night and put them online. I didn't check, but maybe we are in some of the pics. Other than that, the hospital security feed of Marienhospital the 3rd floor registration area should have recorded us. After I tried to intervene in the fight between Limpinski and him I needed to have my nose examined and he came there to check on me after the end of the shift." Marc waited for the colleagues to finish noting down what he was saying before he continued, "For the night of the attack, I didn't tell anyone where I was, but the gas station opposite the entry to Kay’s apartment block may have recorded my arriving and leaving."

“These sound like good options for us to verify quickly. Thank you. Just for our record: Can you confirm that you are not seeing any other inhabitants of the apartment block where Engel lives?” Keller asked in a calm and kind voice.
“I am only seeing Kay.”
Marc answered a few more questions after this before he shared the information he had received from Tom. He tried to give as many details as he could remember before they ended the talk and send him back to his shift.

Back in front of his computer Marc felt paralyzed, Kay was in surgery and he just spend 2 hours explaining their relationship and that awful Saturday to Keller and Meier. It felt surreal. At the end of his shift Frank showed up next to him and grabbed his arm. "We should go and have a beer, right now".
Marc just looked up at his friends face "Not interested".

Frank had expected that Marc would not follow easily "We should definitely have a beer." He tried once more "I have news about my cousin" he looked at Marc trying to convey a topic without saying anything in front of their colleagues. After a few seconds, Marc seemed to catch on. "yeah, of course. Lead the way".
They had just ordered their drinks when Frank started speaking in a soft voice "I heard that Kay had another operation and well, when I saw you this afternoon, shit there was no doubt that what Bettina said was true. You really care for him."

"Yep." Marc took a sip of the beer that was placed down in front of him "So much that I threw up in Keller's office when they told me."
"I heard about that too…. Listen, I don't understand what is going on and I won’t pretend I was expecting anything like this.. “
Marc interrupted Frank with a dry laugh. “Believe me, neither was I.”

"I am not even sure how much I want to know or… yeah…ehm.. But you are my friend, I can be there for you." Frank looked at the side of Marc’s face for a moment. "I think you need to know that he is stable again. They fixed the blood vessel and some ... I don’t understand exactly what to be honest. But it’s fixed, he is stable and they keep him in intensive care for now. Room 503. No visiting hours except for direct family."

Marc looked at him surprised "Yeah, don't thank me. Thank Kay’s cousin Robert. He just arrived home from a vacation. He was contacted by the police and is very worried for Kay. He will call the hospital again tomorrow." Frank tilted his head a bit to the side.
"Thank you Robert."
They sat together for another beer, not speaking much, but Frank’s quiet support felt comforting.

Chapter Text

Marc woke up in the very early morning and went directly to the hospital. He sneaked into Kay’s room and just sat silently holding his hand.
He wasn’t sure if he was giving support, if Kay would be able to sense anything, but he really hoped he did. Marc tried to think of things to say, but there were too many things he felt he should apologize for, too much he had tainted before Kay had been attacked.
He wondered if he really would have told Kay to transfer had he shown up that night… would it have been their end? Maybe he would have moved to the other end of Germany and started a new life before he would have been able to admit that he needed him, that he couldn’t imagine his life without him any more… Marc’s mind was providing dark versions of what could have been and trying to prepare him for what to say if Kay would wake up and not forgive everything directly and he didn’t want to imagine any of them. Life right now was gloomy enough, so he tried to concentrate on staying calm, wishing well for Kay and comfortingly caressing his hand before he had to sneak out for his shift.

He repeated the early wake up and sneak into hospital on Wednesday. He sat again on that simple plastic chair and wished him to wake up. He didn’t want his mind to go in useless versions of what could have been or could be again, he really wanted to talk to Kay but he was afraid that one of the nurses might hear him as it was incredibly silent on the ICU this night. Had he been a religious or spiritual person, it would have been the time and place for prayer or meditation but both concepts were as foreign to him as ballet dancing or haiku poetry.

So, Marc stared at the screen of the ECG and followed Kay’s heartbeat instead: a weird peak and two waves. They kept repeating and only changed in minor details. It was comforting in its own way. He was wondering if a doctor or a nurse would be able to tell from these lines that his heart was strong, that he was an energetic person, a good runner? Could anyone tell how much he had damaged it by never replying to his admission of love? Marc sighed and took a hold of Kays hand once again.
In the light of the hospital room a thin scar on the side of his index finger became visible.

Marc remembered when he had first noticed it. It had been one of their amazing weeks in the summer, before his son had been born. They had spent an unbelievably fun night at Kings Club, stumbled completely hungover through their shift on Sunday, had a short call Monday night that left Marc speechless and turned on in the best possible way and a good run and making out in the woods on Tuesday. When less than 48 hours later a demonstration and with it their operation got cancelled at the very last minute and left them with three hours of free time, they were drunk on their luck and each other.

They had stumbled into Kay’s apartment and enjoyed their freedom until exhaustion. They were lying on the bed enjoying the sun and fresh air coming in from the balcony. Marc remembered thinking that their afternoon, most of their time together really, was making him feel like he was fifteen again. So many new experiences, so many things to try and learn and all of it with an urgency, intensity and an intimacy that left him breathless. His head was resting comfortably on Kay’s chest and he was feeling happy just staring into space. Kay was softly stroking his back and his left hand was resting on his own hip. In the bright sun, Marc could make out several thin silvery lines, faded scars on his fingers. He pulled Kay’s left hand closer to his face and clearly made out a stronger white line on his index finger. It went from the ball joint almost up the full length of the first phalanx. It seemed like a weird place for a scar and Marc wanted to ask how he had received it, but when he started kissing the finger Kay pulled the hand away softly and moved the fingers into Marc’s hair. While he light a cigarette with his right hand, the left fingers massaged Marc’s head, lightly pulling his front hair now and again. Marc pressed his forehead against Kay’s palm and made a few small sound of appreciation.

“I love your hair, it feels nice.” Kay said between puffs of smoke.
Marc wasn’t sure if he should reply. He thought about what to say for a few seconds before rolling completely on top of Kay. With his chin resting now between his pecs he stared directly into the green-blue eyes that captivated him frequently.
“You love that it gives you more control.”
Kay smiled widely: “m-hm, in some situations that’s a bonus”.
Marc stole the cigarette from between his lips and took a long drag.
“Should we maybe create such a situation in the shower?” he felt a heel hook around his knee and a second later he was flat on his back with Kay on top of him.
“Good idea” was all he said before he stole the cig back and got up to the bathroom.

He had never thought about the scar again…
looking at his watch he saw that there was also no more time to think about it now. He needed to arrive at the station in less than 30 minutes.
He went through the motions of the day and wondered about his chances to see his son. He was just thinking about asking Frank how Bettina was doing, when he received a text from her, that she would be home tonight and hoped that they could speak. Marc was happy about it, even if he feared that long and strenuous discussions would fill the whole evening. He tried his best to focus during the rest of his shift, but the lack of sleep was taking a toll on his body. During a meeting with Eiden, Frank and all officers currently in advanced trainings, he was fighting not to fall asleep so much that Frank kicked him under the table a total of three times.

When the meeting finally finished Marc was hurrying to his car. Bettina had called and said that she and Sebastian were home and preparing dinner. He couldn't wait to see his son.
"Borgmann" officer Keller stopped him in the parking lot. "Just a second Marc."
"What's going on?" Marc asked, a bit worried to be asked back for further questions.
"I just wanted to tell you, that we were able to verify what you told us. There is even video proof that you were in the apartment building during the time period in question."
Marc sighed in relief.
"I knew it would take some load of you to hear this. Well, and I have this" he handed Marc a small envelope.
"It's a still from the hospital surveillance. You said you don't have pictures… and… well… I know it's none of my business, but I thought that you may like to have it."
Marc opened the envelope and found a print out of the moment Kay kissed him. The actual kiss in the hospital hallway. The one he had wanted and barely dared to ask for after telling Kay to go. It was simple, beautiful and raw. But also another moment he asked Kay to leave. He was such an idiot. Tears raised in his tired eyes. Marc noticed, blinked them away and directly tried to pull himself together. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. Good night!" Keller said before turning around to his car.


When he reached home Marc spend almost an hour carrying his son and watching him. He had agreed with Bettina within a few short minutes of discussion that she would move back into the house for now to test if living together was still possible for them. She couldn’t stay on Frank an Claudia’s couch and he really liked the idea of seeing Sebastian every day. He immediately offered to sleep on the couch, which irritated Bettina for a moment, but she accepted it and silently finished preparing dinner in the kitchen.
Marc almost fell asleep on the dinner table and when Bettina entered the living room half an hour later with a sleeping pill and a tall glass of water in her hands, he took it gratefully and without a second thought. He woke up the next morning feeling a bit more like a person and less like a walking ache, but he had to rush to make it to Kay before his shift.

When he arrived at Kay's side he was surprised to find a post-it on the blanket below his hand.
It read "hand over of shift @ 6:15 AM. Easier to get out."
So he hadn't been as sneaky as he had hoped. There was no signature or way to contact the author but whoever it was, apparently they were okay with him being there. He sighed. The last thing he needed would be to be caught in the ICU and banned from Kay’s side. Even though he had only arrived a few minutes after 6, he took the recommendation serious and left earlier than the days before.

In the afternoon Marc presented the operation strategy from Stuttgart to the 3 units that would support the soccer game in Stuttgart the next day. For all the excitement of giving the presentation, he still found his mind going back to the last demonstration, to a certain boy with 4 awesome parents and a blonde man in the hospital who he desperately needed to talk to. In the presentation of the strategy for the soccer game operation that followed, Eiden kept referring to Marc’s presentation and nodded a few times at him in an appreciative manner. Marc hoped that this meant he had balanced his underperforming and sleepiness of the last few days.

Chapter Text

When he reached home, Marc took the crying Sebastian from the shoulder of an exhausted looking Bettina, changed his diapers, and carried him around until he was soundly asleep. Bettina had used the time to take a shower and then disappeared into the bedroom, so Marc sat down on the couch and took a moment to take the photo out of his wallet.

It was a simple printout of a camera still, nothing fancy just ink on plain paper. But it felt more significant than that. It was proof, it was the other side of a memory he had spent too much time agonizing about. He had damned his decision to have that kiss every single day for a full week because of all the arguments with his mother that had followed it. He had been so afraid she would force him to tell Bettina, but at the same time he had been strangely obsessed with the thought that it would be easier if she told her. Now he had the tiny beautiful side of the memory in his hand and it made him recall the complete emotional pre-story of that moment.
The whole day Gregor had been making silly comments and jokes in Kay’s direction and finally, he was sure of it, made a gesture or move that made Kay’s last straw break. The blond threw a few punches. And he, after having stood silently by the whole day with a burning shame, he had interfered. He had tried to stop Kay from doing something damaging to his career and he had received a painful blow to his nose for the effort.
Then he had found out that even kind and caring team leads like Frank would not report harassment inside the police and that all the comments and guidelines Frank and Eiden spoke about were nothing but mere lip service, they wouldn’t care. Not for Kay. Not even if Marc asked him to.

Waiting for his examination, he had briefly wondered if Frank’s reaction had been different if it were him that Gregor was commenting on, attacking... Back then, he had decided to stop that train of thought immediately and thought about an apology for missing another dinner with Bettina. He had been waiting for his mother to pick him up and suddenly Kay was walking down the hospital floor.
Marc remembered his initial thought “he will take me home” and the happiness that spread through him at the thought of ending this strenuous day in his arms. It had lasted merely a second. Then reality had set in and he had been annoyed at Kay for complicating his life. He was angry at himself for thinking about Kay being “home” instead of thinking of his family, he was upset about his body for longing for Kay, and when he reached him, all he was capable to get out was a miffed “What are you doing here?”
Kay had ignored it, checked on him and silently asked “let me take care of you, let me make it up to you”. Marc had pretended he couldn’t understand these offers in his smile and soft touches. There was a fight going on within him. He couldn’t be close to Kay, not now... he feared if Kay would touch him one more time, stay one more minute, that he would leave with him and not let go until morning. He was scarily close to ruining the relationship with his whole family. He was frustrated and disappointed. But he needed to go home to his family.

So he had pushed him away once more, asking him to leave and Kay had conceded. Marc had turned away from the sweet goodbye with a confused type of content and pride. He had once more managed to do the right thing. But then his body had recognized the hurt in Kay’s features and it betrayed his mind. He had grabbed Kay’s arm without meaning to. When their eyes met, the hurt, frustration, longing and confusion were clear on both their faces and Kay made the move to kiss him, took the decision to let them have one moment of pure kindness and trust.
When he focused, he could still feel Kay’s left hand on his neck, his thumb gently pressing into the skin close to his ear. Staring at their picture the memory of it burned him, and a question in the back of his head raised a slight panic. What if Kay would not forgive him, not allow him to fight for them now? What if he had pushed him away one time too many?

Marc shook his head, trying to lose the thought. He placed the printout back into the envelope and then in his wallet and sighed. He was tired of waiting, he knew that there was no other option for now and he knew very well, that Kay had waited for a much longer period. He had seldom asked the questions aloud... three times in total maybe? But they had been there the whole time the “ what about us?” “Will you tell her?” “Do you want to continue this ?”
Kay’s questions had been just as clear to him as the life he had always imagined. Always thought he wanted. They just were completely impossible to match together, so he hadn’t tried. He hoped he’d get a chance to try soon. His phone beeped with a message from Frank “No news, they said everything’s stable. But no estimate when he might wake up.”
He had kept his word and called the hospital every day, pretending to be a cousin living far away, hoping for Kay would wake up. So far, the information had never been good or bad but having information daily had been comforting.

To distract himself Marc turned on the TV. After a few minutes Bettina came in and dropped down next to him on the sofa. “thanks for taking Sebastian. I don’t know why, but today was really strenuous, he was crying so much.
I hope your day was less strenuous. Did the sleep medicine help?“
Marc didn’t feel like talking, so he quickly answered “no problem, I like taking care of him. Fine, it was okay.”
When he felt that Bettina was upset by his short replies and his gaze shifting between the TV and her, he turned to face her fully and added “Thank you for the medication, I think I really needed that.” There was a softness in Bettina’s eyes, a comfort and he had to look away.
After a few moments in silence, Bettina got up and left the room. She returned with a plate with re-heated dinner and smiled playfully at him: “There’s a price. If you take this plate, you have to switch channels, so I can watch the detective movie on 13.”
Marc did as he was told and took the plate with a smile. “thank you, darling”.
The last word made her freeze for a second and him as well. She smiled and sat down. But Marc took a few seconds longer before he focused on the TV. It was an automatism, that was all. They were home she was being kind… it meant nothing. But it felt weird.

During the movie they exchanged their theories on the murderer, Marc pointed out whenever the inspector broke the actual laws and at the end of the movie they were both surprised by it’s resolution and whole-heartedly agreed that it was bullshit.
Bettina looked at him expectantly before she left to the bedroom, but she didn’t say anything except “good night Marc”. When he passed by the bedroom a few minutes later he could hear her crying. He thought about going to her for a second, following his impulse to comfort her, but he realized that there was nothing he could say or do right now. Watching the movie had been a trip back in time. It was familiar and comforting in ways he could really need right now. But it wasn’t real, it couldn’t be their future. He sighed, heart heavy and turned away from the bedroom door and walked back to the couch.


When Sebastian woke up crying at 4 AM Marc was already awake. He gave Sebastian the bottle, carried him around and finally changed his diaper and put him back to sleep. "I love you little man". He whispered before he left the room and the house. He drove around the city and thought about the last night. How easily available his old life had appeared, how comforting the normality of watching a move with Bettina after work had been. How breakable this illusion was. How much he was hurting her They needed to find other arrangements - he just didn’t have any energy to think about, let alone discuss them.
When he turned the car around to go to the hospital, he found an accident in the road just before him and realized in frustration that he would be stuck in the traffic jam at least until the start of his shift. What rotten luck.

He reached the station fifteen minutes late and received a comment from his colleague Lukas about sleeping in. It that was so far away from the truth, that Marc almost started laughing in response. After grabbing a coffee, he was busy with a training session, paperwork and the preparation for the soccer match starting 6 PM in Stuttgart. All three units of the Ludwigsburg station were deployed in the early afternoon and Marc send a text to Jenny asking if she and her unit were involved in managing the game.

The separation of the arriving fans was working well. The atmosphere was that of a playful rivalry but not too aggressive for now. Some provocations of the Dresden fans might lead to violent outburst after the game, but for now the situation was under control. And the local police was determined to prevent “meetings” of opposing fans in the central station or city and were present in multiple parts of the city.
When Marc took a short break to smoke behind the team vans, he was having time to analyze with Frank the chances of Stuttgart winning the game. They were supposed to stay positioned in the entry area for the Stuttgart fans and the neighboring parking and would probably not even catch a glimpse of the game. So far this appeared to be the only negative aspect of the operation.

"Ludwigsburg, finish your break, next tram with local fans will arrive in 5 minutes". A familiar redhead shouted when she was approaching the unofficial "break area". Marc had to smile.
"Hey Jenny, today there's three complete units from my city, you should be more specific than "Ludwigsburg"." he winked at her "This is my colleague and friend Frank. Frank this is Jenny"
"Nice to meet you." They shook hands.
"Marc, we are located at the second exit but inside the stadium, so quite a bit away from you. Unfortunately not far away from the Ultras. Wish me luck, I gotta go. Be safe and let's see later if we can manage a dinner or something." Jenny was making a "Come on move" gesture at the guys while walking over to her unit.
"New friend?" Frank asked as they put on their helmets and went back to the entrance.
"Yeah" was all Marc offered.

The next hour they confiscated pyrotechnics, knifes and took bottles of hard alcohol from groups of young fans that had obviously started the partying early. All in all everything was going well. At half time the Stuttgart fans were discussing the 1:1, singing loudly, and mostly on their best behavior. Except for a few minor aggressions and two lonely bengalos nothing required their intervention. It appeared to be easygoing. All of that changed within minutes in the half time break, when the units were informed that a weather warning had just been released and that depending on how strong the rain and storm would become a cancellation of the game may happen. That would lead to an evacuation of the stadium in pouring rain.

After a few minutes, the game resumed as expected and a bit of rain started. A change of wind could be felt, but seemed bearable for now. 10 minutes later, however it was pouring in extreme amounts and a few strong gusts of wind started moving the trees in the parking area dangerously.
The game was interrupted to assure the players safety and to check the weather developments. The first groups of fans left the stadium hurrying to the arriving trams. The remaining fans got more drunk, singing and shouting for resuming the game, even if the rain was not decreasing much. After half an hour the decision to cancel the game and the request for everyone to leave the stadium was shared via loudspeaker.
Marc and the rest of his unit were just happy that they didn't plan to resume the game – no one needed overtime hours while wet and freezing. Most fans were leaving the stadium on their own and without making a fuss, although the mood was not a happy one. Unfortunately, like always, there were a few people too aggressive or too drunk to simply follow the instruction to please leave the stadium. So Frank’s unit had to gear up completely, go inside and "accompany" them outside without letting them meet up with the advisory fans for a brawl.

It took too much energy and nerves from everyone but luckily, no one was hurt. They were starting to gather in the team vans to drive back to Ludwigsburg about an hour after the cancellation.
Marc was just crossing the parking lot to the vehicle when the wind picked up strongly again. He saw the branch of the oak tree being thrown his way, but there was no way to evade it. Marc’s pulse skyrocketed. He closed his eyes just before the branch hit him. He lost consciousness seeing Kays face looking down on him. Loving him.


"Shit.. Marc ?!" Frank was the first at his side. "Marc, can you hear me?" he was shaking Marcs shoulder and trying to get a reaction.
"I'm okay. The gear…." Marc said sitting up slowly after a few moments.
"Should we call an ambulance?" Britt was at his other side helping him up. They made it to the van and Marc convinced them to bring him to the hospital in Ludwigsburg to get a check-up there.


Frank accompanied Marc to the registration at Marienhospital and waited for him to be cleared and send home. He was a bit confused when he got called into the doctor’s office less than half an hour later instead.
"Mr. Richter, please sit down. Your colleague has a concussion, and some pain in the neck area. The MRI is not showing anything to have us worried. He was lucky to have been in full safety gear when the impact happened. The reason he is not here right now is that after the MRI he was complaining of dizziness and visual problems. We have decided to keep him for monitoring for the night. He has requested that I inform you of his condition. It would be good if you could pick him up tomorrow afternoon or help to arrange a pick up. I don't think he can operate a phone right now. Information on the exact times, his room number etc. you can get at the nurses station on the 4th floor. When you exit the elevator, it's directly to your right. If there is any paperwork to be filled out because this happened on duty, please also inform the nurses."
"I will. Thank you". Frank left the room and went directly to the nurses' station. It turned out that visiting and release times for Saturday were not fitting with his shift, but he was able to arrange an early morning visit with the staff. When he entered room 414 he had to laugh at his friend. Marc was wearing a neck brace and his forehead showed the loveliest red-and blue budding stages of bruises. Marc had his eyes closed but opened them at the laughter.

"Thank you for the empathy man."
"Ahh, come on Marc, don't be like that. You know the neck brace and the bruises suit you." Frank approached his bedside. "Are you in pain?"
"The pain is manageable. Just turning my head is a bitch – that's why they put the decoration" Marc gestured to his neck brace. "And I keep seeing little stars or something slurred, which is making me dizzy. They say it should be over after a good nights' sleep… hopefully they are right."
Frank spend a little more time with him, before he called Claudia to pick him up. He promised his friend to inform Bettina about what happened and to bring some clothes for the night. He told him also about the deal with the nurses to come check on him before start of his shift and the official visiting hours. Frank was almost at the door, when Marc managed to ask "any news on him ?" Frank hadn’t called today. He but promised to bring the latest news together with the clothes in less than an hour.

Later he helped Marc with his neck brace to get into a light sweater and he tried to find comforting words. There were no news on Kay's state, even though the nurses kept confirming that the surgery had been a success and all vitals were stable and good. It was frustrating and worrying no matter how optimistic the staff remained.
Without any energy left Marc fell asleep at nine after finally finding a comfortable position with his brace.
Again he dreamed of Kay, of all the funny and loving moments, of all the good they had shared. He woke up in the middle of the night feeling lonely. The silence of the hospital floor at night was maddening after a few minutes. He remembered that Kay had send him links to some songs a few weeks ago, he had never checked them out. Taking his phone he went to search for links. He randomly picked one of them and played it on low volume:

What do you still want to do? What do you still want to see?
What do you want to move?
Where do you want to go?
What are you grateful for? What did you already achieve ?
Was it difficult for you or can you maybe do much more?
Can you say "this was a nice life" at its end?
"I got enough and gave everything"
Until then, I will not wait any longer;
Starting today actions will suit (my words)

I'm not putting anything on my bucket list anymore
I'll get going before everything is over
In the end, I look back on my life happily
wanting everything again, every single step

Who should live your life? Who should decide for you?
Sing your songs? Write your story?
Do you do what you like?
Who and how do you want to be?
What would be the best day? When is the best time?
Can you say "this was a nice life" at its end?
"I got enough and gave everything"
When do you start and fulfill your biggest dreams?
Why not today?
I'm not putting anything on my bucket list anymore
I'll get going before everything is over
In the end, I look back on my life happily
wanting everything again, every single step

It is not important where you are coming from but where you want to go.
And that you get up at least one time more than you fall down;
No shitty compromises any more,
no doing things half-assed,
the things you really want to do, you have to do all of them
I'm not putting anything
I'm not putting anything
I'm not putting anything on my bucket list anymore
I'll get going before everything is over
In the end, I look back on my life happily
wanting everything exactly the same again, every single step"

Marc felt it a weird coincidence that he'd pick a song like that. Maybe this was fate. Maybe this was Kay giving him a push to stay with his decision.. He knew what he wanted. Where he wanted to go. He wanted to be with Kay. It was scary and for sure it wouldn't be easy. But it felt like he needed to do it to be happy. Going back to the white-picket-fence life his parents wanted for him would be impossible. He loved Bettina, but he wasn't in love with her any more. He didn't feel capable of making her happy. Staying with her for the families' sake or for the picture of a normal life would not be fair to her or him or Sebastian. He wanted to be a good father, help him grow up and learn the world. But he wouldn't be able to do it while playing "normal family" and yearning for something else. He had thought about this, more than fucking enough. He needed to do something now.

A few minutes later Marc was at Kay’s side again. He knew that there was a high probability that he wouldn't be there when Kay woke up, but he needed to apologize and to communicate the most important thing. So he took the envelope Keller had given him from his wallet, wrote a few words below the print out and clearly labeled the envelope "Kay" before he placed it within arm's reach onto the table next to the bed. Marc stared again at the ECG, trying to be comforted by its familiar shape and even rhythm, as he just held and caressed Kay’s hand. They had about one hour before the shift change. He would make good use of it.

Chapter Text

Saturday, 7 AM

Mara was not having the greatest morning. She hated shift changes, especially going from night shifts to dayshifts on a weekend. Why was the worker's council trying to "protect her" from continuously working night shifts? She loved the nights!
But it was useless, it was part of the job so she tried to sweeten the rotten shift change with coffee and cookies from the sweets stack, she and her colleagues kept filled at all times.
Scanning the monitors in front of her, she saw that the ECG of patient Engel showed a bit of unusual movements and had had a significant peak, just minutes ago. She decided to check up on him, wondering if the boyfriend was still sneaking in every night. Cute as that may be, he definitely needed sleep, he had looked like a Zombie the last time she caught a glimpse of him.

When she entered the room of patient Engel, it turned out that she didn't need to wonder.
The boyfriend was there.
During day shift, asleep on the patients arm.
Even more surprisingly though, the patient was awake.
The first thing Mara noticed were the intense eyes.
She had dubbed him “the pretty boy” during his first stint in the ICU, she surely hadn’t been wrong.
He looked at her directly, throwing a conspiratorial smile before making the "psst"-gesture with his free hand. She couldn't believe it.
He was awake, oriented, and best of all, not looking scared or confused. He appeared to be caring more for his Romeo than his own state.
She nodded at the patient and returned with a cup of water a few moments later.

She placed it into his hand and whispered, "I get that you want to give him some rest, but we need to check that you are alright."
"I know, I know, but…20 minutes?" he made puppy dog eyes at her.
She contemplated for a few seconds then sighed "You seem stable and the doctor is unbearable if I call him before his breakfast anyways... so okay, deal". She shook his hand before she left the room again.

Saturday, a few minutes before 7 AM

When Kay woke up, he felt tired and completely out of place. His head was hurting and he couldn't move his left arm.
The smells and sounds indicated clearly that he was in a hospital but that was less concerning than the heavy, numb feeling of his lower arm and hand.
When he looked at it, his fear was immediately gone. He saw Marc sleeping on it and couldn't believe his eyes.
He must have fallen asleep waiting for him to wake up.
Kay didn’t understand how this was possible, but he smiled widely.

His mouth and throat felt dry, but looking around he couldn't find any water close to his bed. That and all the cables and tubes attached to him, probably meant that he had been out for more than a couple of hours. Scratching his chin, the stubble indicated more than a week.
A week ? How was that possible?
Looking around once more, he clearly saw that he was in an intermediate or intensive care unit and that there was no personal or helpful items, except for an envelope with his name. He reached for it carefully and couldn't believe his eyes.
Inside was a print out of a security cam still.
Him and Marc.
The hospital kiss.
Below it, Marc had written in his uncopyable scrawl
I’m an idiot. This is not a one-off. This is love.

Kay felt moved, felt like his heart would explode with hope and couldn't help but loose a tear over the gift. He didn't know what to think or to expect, but for the first time in a long while, he felt optimistic about the relationship.
He had just packed the print out back into the envelope, when a nurse opened the door. He made a deal with her for a little bit of private time and went back to looking at Marc.
Something had happened to him in the days he was recovering or... whatever.
He was wearing a neck brace and the part of his face that he could make out was heavily bruised.
Had he been attacked? Or in a car accident maybe?
He would need to ask him later. For now he just enjoyed looking to him. Marc was here at his side. That's what mattered. That and the note.
Had he realized how hurtful his words had been? Had Marc discussed their situation with anyone that pushed him in the right direction?
How did he get the printout? Did he tell Bettina?
Lots of questions came to his mind, asking for his attention. But Kay stayed calm. He could think, worry or discuss all of these thoughts later; they didn't matter right now.

He moved his free hand on top of Marc’s head and began to move the fingers softly through the hair. Then to the ear and across the cheek. Marc’s eyelids started twitching but he wasn't waking up yet. So Kay played with the hair for another moment, before moving his fingers back to the side of the face.
"Hey, sleepyhead, can you wake up for me?" he whispered.
Marc looked up slowly and sleepily at this face. "Hey" was all he managed to get out. He wasn't awake yet.
A few seconds passed before Marc moved his head a bit more suddenly.
"Kay?" he said surprised "You are awake?!" He raised his head and turned to him.

"Yes, seems that way. Good morning." Kay enjoyed looking into Marc’s eyes for a few seconds before the latter one started crying. He got up from his chair and leaned down over Kay’s face.
Pressing a kiss to Kay’s forehead he mumbled "two weeks. Two long fucking weeks …" Moving away a little bit he just stared at Kay’s eyes trying to convey how much he had missed him, how difficult it had been, how happy he was now.
Kay wanted to hug Marc, he looked so tired and lost, so raw.
But when he tried to move more than his arm, cables and tubes were moving and pulling on him.
He grabbed the control and lifted the upper part of the bed and his hand reached out the Marc’s side of the face, his thumb the cheekbone, brushing away a tear.
"Hey, everything will be alright."

Meanwhile on the 4th floor

Frank was staring a little bit lost at an empty bed in the room where Marc should be. He had told him that he'd come by before his shift in the morning. The idea was to see if his state had improved and to discuss options for pick up. Marc wasn't in the bathroom, so it seemed likely that he was out smoking. For fucks sake, how could that guy smoke before breakfast ?
He himself had been smoking until not too long ago, but he never came close to his friend's consumption. Sighing, Frank returned to the nurses' desk, asking if they had seen Marc. No one seemed to remember the brunet leaving his room after shift change. So he asked for the closest smoking area. It turned out that there were three smoking balconies other than the backside garden. Frank checked the first two before a sign to the ICU caught his attention. Maybe he was checking on Kay?
Frank went up to the ICU and when he didn't see a nurse, directly to Kay’s door.

"hey!" a young nurse whisper –shouted at him as she left the neighboring room.
"Sorry, good morning miss. I am Frank Richter, Police Ludwigsburg. I am looking for Marc Borgmann."
"This is the room of patient Kay Engel."
"I am aware, but…"Frank tried to explain, but got cut off by the nurse.
"Oh, so the Romeo is called Marc? Yeah, he's in there. But I promised 10 more minutes of privacy."
"Romeo?" Frank was confused for a moment before it dawned on him.
"I'd really like to get to my shift on time, if it's not okay to go inside, can you maybe get him for me?
I am already searching since 15 minutes." He looked at her friendly and a bit helpless.
"Ohhh-kay, but if Mr. Engel is annoyed, I will tell him it was on your insistence."
"Engel is awake?" The nurse nodded, "since a short while" she added.
"That's good news. Can we now please..?"

"Yes", she opened the door and went inside a bit in front of him. When they were able to make out the bed Frank felt uncomfortable instantly. Marc was vulnerable, open. He appeared joyous but was crying and staring at Kay with more intensity, more emotions, than he had ever seen on his friends face. Kay was holding Marc’s gaze and softly touching him.
It was an extremely intimate scene, one he had never seen between two men.
"hey, everything will be alright." Kay said.

Frank felt like an intruder and would have loved to silently disappear, but the nurse had a different idea:
"m-hm" she cleared her throat noisily and instantly had everyone’s attention.
" I am sorry to interrupt, but this friendly police officer wants to speak to you. And Mr. Engel, I think it would be good, if we could start detaching you from some of these monitors and tubes, check everything is fine.
Also a doctor will come by shortly and we don't want to raise discussions about visiting hours and the meaning of immediate family, do we?" Mara was staring pointedly at the couple.
"Okay, let's get me ready for the doc." Kay was the first to answer. He nodded to Marc. "Go. I will see you later."
"You will" Marc replied with a smile. He was already at the door when Frank finally found his voice and said "ehm… good to see you awake Engel" and followed him out into the hallway.

"Marc, I really gotta go to my shift. Can you tell me if you are feeling better? Anything you need me to organize?"
Frank was looking straight ahead at the floor as they walked to the elevator.
"I'm feeling better and the dizziness is gone. I think they will release me later."
Marc felt the awkwardness and a bit of annoyance of his friend very clearly.
He tried not to mirror the annoyance.
"Will you call your parents to pick you up, or…" he wanted to say Bettina’s name but it got stuck in his throat.
" uhm, is there any other option ?"
Marc shook his head." Not my parents, but I know you will have your shift at the station so… I'll get a taxi or something. Shouldn't be too expensive from here."

He wanted to end the discomfort between them and tried to offer his friend a way out of getting even more involved. When the elevator closed and Frank didn't even know where to look, Marc gave a dry laugh and scratched his nose.
"hhh, that must have been pretty weird for you to see."
Frank joined in with a noise between a laugh and a cough "yeah, weird is a good description."
He looked at Marc and laughed again.
The awkwardness was broken.

He thought about something friendly or explanatory to say, something like "You know … I've just never seen two guys like this" or that the abstract idea of "my best friend has feelings for a guy and they have sex" suddenly became very real when he walked into their private moment, or that he felt sad for Bettina and Marc as a couple. They had been such a loving, fun and great team... It would take some time to get used to Marc being with someone else.
In the end, when they were standing in Marc's room all he said was "I'll pick you up after the shift.
I don't think you mind a few extra hours here".
Before he turned around to leave, he looked at his friend and saw a smile, he knew he had said the right thing.

Back in Kay's room

Mara had detached Kay from all cables and tubes and tried to get him to agree to the washing procedure.
"Kay, I hear you. I understand that you feel like you can get up and over to the shower and do everything yourself. But no doctor cleared you yet, you have not moved on your own for two weeks… your coordination, strength, blood pressure …there are so many things that may be a good reason to not be standing or moving. If you do not want me to wash you in bed, than our only option is the wheelchair. I don't claim that it's glamorous or a spa treatment. But you have to pick one of these options."
"okay, wheelchair then." Kay agreed unhappy.
"If it's such a bad thing to not move for a long time… why did you guys let me sleep that long anyways?"
"A doctor will discuss this in detail with you. I don't know your full case" Mara tried to evade the question.
"Bullshit. I am not asking for perfect medical terms, I just want an idea of what happened. Please Mara, just give me some info."

"hhh… if you sue me or tell my boss that I answered, I will kill you in your sleep.”

“Sounds fair, now spill” Kay looked straight into her face.

“The doctor's didn't let you sleep this long. They were trying to wake you up a few days after the operation.
But first, it took you forever to get close to being awake and then suddenly pressure in your brain raised critically and they had to operate again.
This is also why you are still on Intensive care. Breathing, heartbeat, everything was good enough for normal ward; but they were afraid of your brain pressure situation."
Mara tried to finish all washing activities while speaking about "the medical stuff" to make the experience less uncomfortable for the patient.
When she handed him a towel he appeared to be thinking very hard.

"How close did I get to waking up?"
"I am not sure but my colleague told me that one of your relatives got very hopeful when your fingers started twitching and that she hated telling him it might be another 12 hours."
"I don't have relatives here." Kay looked a bit confused.
"My guess would be that it was Marc. He was sneaking in here and I can't imagine him staying away for long.
Petra is a more traditional older lady, she probably couldn't "make sense" of your connection and assumed family." Mara kept the 'and if she knew she would probably have said shitty and religious things' to herself. It wasn't relevant.

"But you got it right away because you're so smart?" Kay asked challenging.
Mara rolled her eyes.
"How many people you know would try to sneak into an ICU at 4 AM just to hold a hand and look at a face?
And repeat that. Repeat it again on a sleep deficit and crying?
How many of those would do it for a cousin, or friend?
You've got a devoted man, I'd have to be blind not to get it.
And now come on, let's get you dressed in these lovely scrubs, the doctors will be here in a few."

Kay didn't move, to Mara he appeared to be solving a complicated equation in his head.
"Hey, Kay, Everything okay ?"
"Yeah. Clothes sound great."
"Don't worry about the doctors'. They will check you and most likely tell you in medical terms that everything will be all right. But before that they will tell you all the scary stuff that may happen and what should be done to help you recover fully. Pay attention and ask for a plan for the next days. Don’t be shy to ask twice if they are not clear." She advised.

She had managed to get Kay back into the bed just as the doctors arrived in the room.
Mara was giving the doctors and what appeared to be two medical students, some information about his waking up and heartrate, but Kay wasn’t listening. He was still trying to wrap his head around what he had seen and what the nurse had told him.
Marc had sneaked into the ICU, had broken the rules, just to hold his hand in the middle of the night. He had made time just to be there.
Again and again. And this morning he hadn’t pulled away when Mara and Frank appeared out of nowhere.
He didn’t deny them, didn’t run away to hide in the darkest corner of the closet.
Not only had he stopped running away from him - Marc had waited for him.
Kay felt he had woken up to a new world.

Chapter Text

Marc was watching a news show on TV when a doctor came to check his status. Apparently, the concussion was minor and except for "you need to rest", an explicit order to not do any kinds of sports in the near future and a reminder to avoid computer or screen work for a week, he didn't have much to say. However, he requested him to visit physiotherapy for the neck in the next days and to wait in supervision of hospital or relatives at least until the full 24 hours after the accident were over. So Marc decided to follow doctors' orders and to use the time and get some sleep.

It was almost noon when Marc woke up once again from a knock on his door " yes? come on in".
"Hi there" Mara said a bit timidly, standing a few steps from Marcs bed. " I wanted to give you a quick update on Kay and give you this" she handed over an A4 paper with a post-it note. "I'm Mara by the way."
"Marc." He nodded at her "So, how is he doing?"
"They are saying it will be okay to bring him down here on the normal ward in the afternoon, if the labwork comes back okay. He is right now giving his statement to the police and if everything is fine, my colleague or me will bring him down after the second checkup at 2 PM. Any case I would strongly recommend you to fill out this form."
"What's it for?" Marc asked.
"It's a form to release medical personal, especially doctors from medical confidentiality in regards to a non-relative. If both you and Kay sign it, you can get medical information on each other, if need be take a decision, and most importantly visit each other without sneaking." The nurse raised her eyebrows pointedly at the last part.
Marc looked at the post-it "You were watching me, you put that note."
He looked her directly in the eyes "thank you".
Mara just nodded.
"Fill out and sign the paper. Hopefully, you will never need it after today, but it's good to have it just in case. I gotta go, my break is almost over. Bring it up with you around 2:15, you can accompany him changing the room. See you later."
Marc smiled as she left the room, having Kay on a normal station and being able to visit him sounded perfect to his ears.

Kay felt incredibly tired. The doctors had done all sorts of tests before announcing more tests and check-ups. All the while talking medical at him or with each other, confusing him and giving him a headache. Apparently, he had been very unlucky and very lucky at the same time. When Gregor attacked him in the park, neither his nasal bone nor his zygomatic arch had been broken – although the second punch to his nose surely had felt that way. The problem was that after the kick to the stomach he had lost his balance and when he hit the ground the back of his head had cracked on a sharp edge of a low stone barrier. The impact and the following blood loss had left him unconscious and the cold night had let to hypothermia. A few hours he had been in critical condition and afterwards an artificial coma. During the wake up phase one of the fixed vessels had ruptured again, leaving the pressure in his head rising, which had led to another operation, more unconsciousness and finally to him waking up. Luckily there appeared to be no brain damage from the attack or the operations etc. that followed.
Those were the facts. But it seemed unreal, it sounded all so strange to him. Limpinski’s silly, aggressive, hatred almost killed him. He had been left in that park to die from a silly head wound that left nothing but a scar of 7 centimeters on the back of his head. That just couldn't be true. It felt like it happened to somebody else and he just heard about it. He still didn't believe it when he recounted the fight and the medical consequences to officers Keller and Meier.

What surprised him was that they seemed to know about his and Marcs’ connection and were not asking for details where he would have expected them to. Feeling his confusion Officer Keller decided to clarify for him. "Mr Borgmann explained to us that you left the party after a discussion with his parents in regards to the type of relationship you are having with him. He continued on to tell us that he waited in your apartment until early morning. He was going for a run in the park when he found you."
"Marc found me?" Kay was surprised.
The doctors were telling him so many details about his state as he arrived at the hospital, that he hadn't even thought to ask how or by whom he was found. Shit, if Marc was the one who found him less than a day after he abruptly left the party in front of half of the police station, he had probably been primary suspect. Fucking bad luck. Had he been outed in the course of the investigation to the whole team? Did he tell anyone by his choice? Meier and Keller knew, Frank hadn't looked much surprised, who else knew? Did Marc finally speak with Bettina? So many questions were running through his mind that he didn't hear a word of the reply he had received for his last question.
"Engel, do you need a break? I know there is a lot to process and we can continue this on Monday or... when you are cleared to leave the hospital."
"No, I want to finish my statement. "

Marc was excited and a bit nervous when he made his way up to the intensive care. He had spent the last ten minutes on a call with Bettina asking how Sebastian and she were doing anf explaining his accident. He had also send a text to Jenny informing her of Kay’s improvement. Now his mind was back to worrying about how to say, to explain all the things that had happened in the last two weeks. And he needed to know what had happened... even more importantly if Kay was medically okay, and which next steps needed to be taken to assure he would he would get back to being 100%.

When he arrived at the nurses' desk Mara was already waiting for him. She took his paper and brought him to Kay’s room. Kay was already prepared to leave the ward, sitting in a wheelchair and a doctor by his side, shaking his hand.
"So, good luck and hopefully a quick recovery. Please remember what I told you 30 minutes, 45 max. No unaccompanied walking until occupational therapy and physiotherapy start on Monday!" The doctor looked sternly at Kay. Having witnessed enough careless young patients fall flat on their face the first days out of ICU he really hoped his firm handshake and uncountable reminders would sink in to this patient.
"Yes doctor. Have a good weekend." Kay smiled and let Mara push him out of the room.
"So, Kay I will bring you down, inform the nurse’s desk and then my shift is over. But I think you will have this lovely gentleman to make sure your new room has everything you need. Maybe he will even be able to figure out that you look much better in your own clothes than in these oversized scrubs and bring some with him" Marc turned a bit red at the ears and promised to "take care of him" which had both Kay and Mara laugh softly in response.

Shortly after she left, Marc sat down on a chair beside Kay’s new bed. Unsure how to begin he looked at Kay who caught his eyes. For a moment they just stared at each other simply enjoying each other's presence. "How do you feel?"
Kay shook his head slightly "okay I guess. Everything is tiring and I have a headache since giving my statement to Keller and Meier. But I am happy you're here." "Me too" they smiled at each other for a moment before Kay asked " What about you? How'd you get the neck brace?"
"We had to evacuate the stadium yesterday"" Ah, drunken fan?"
"no, storm and oak branch." Kay’s eyes widened at that. "Just a minor concussion. A few more hours surveillance, one week of medical leave and physiotherapy for the neck. I'm good. Can you … would you tell me what happened?" He didn't want to upset Kay or make him relive any kind of trauma, but he felt he needed to know what had happened or he would go insane. 'It won't change anything' a small voice of logic repeated in the back of his head, but the feeling was different.

Kay nodded" can we maybe grab coffee? I am allowed to go outside for half an hour as long as I use the wheelchair and am not alone."
"Of course". Marc helped Kay into the wheelchair a bit awkwardly before moving them downstairs to the cafeteria. There Kay told him the story of how he ended up where Marc had found him. It was a short, almost emotionless account of how he had went to the bushes in the far end of the park to take a piss after a very long and tiring run. When he came out and wanted to head back to his car Gregor had shown up and made a silly comment about "faggot prostitutes hiding in dark corners". Instead of ignoring him or leaving, Kay had goaded him, said that he can take his pick of women and men and never had to pay for sex in his life, but that he was sure Gregor wouldn't know what that's like. Then he had asked how much Limpinski usually payed to get his cock sucked. He had barely finished the sentence before the first punch connected with his face. He had thrown a counter that let the asshole’s lip bleed a bit. The answering second punch almost broke his nose and while his head was still swimming a kick connected with his belly that send him to the ground. The back of his head connected with a stone barrier, which knocked him out and opened a nasty head wound.
End of fight. End of story. Luckily however not the full end as he was now back in the conscious world.

Marc sat silently, he was cursing internally. Limpinski for being an absolut ass and attacking him, but more so for leaving Kay unconscious on the ground. He cursed Kay for playing these silly games with anyone who provoked him. But silently he was also cursing himself for the whole situation that lead up to Kay feeling frustrated and needing a run far away from their usual stretch of woods, where none of this would have happened. He stared at the cup in his hands.
"I was so fucking angry and jealous that night. I assumed you were out partying, maybe hooking up. Then I find you in a pool of blood, nonresponsive and I felt like the most horrible person on earth. I waited for news on your status until Frank dragged me out of the hospital." Marc stared ahead at a silent, almost shocked Kay.
" Sorry, I don't know why I said that. I actually meant to ask something." But he didn't get to clarify any further as the timer on his phone went off.
Without another word Marc pushed Kay’s wheelchair in direction of the elevators and back to his room. Kay was just laying back down on his pillow when Marc’s phone rang. He took the call directly "Hey Jenny, how are you?" he smiled at the phone.
Kay looked a bit confused in his direction. And his confusion only increased when he heard Marc reply a playful "Yes, big city soul is awake and on a normal station now. - I can ask him" Was that Jenny from Stuttgart? How did she know Marc?
"Kay? Kay, Jenny is asking if she can come by tomorrow and check on you? She's off tomorrow and Kathi and Lis are visiting family so she's bored." The blond couldn't process the question properly for a moment, then he simply replied "Yeah sure" and went back to watching Marc exchange a few organizational details and pleasantries over the phone before hanging up.

"You know Jenny" Marc turned to face a decently confused Kay and just knew the perfect line to add to that confusion.
"Yeah, we met at a LSVD- demo in Stuttgart. Adoption rights." he was struggling to deliver the line casually. But seeing Kays go speechless and his eyes go wide was definitely worth the struggle.
"Did I wake up in an alternate universe?" Kay wasn't unsure he heard right until he saw Marc starting to laugh.
"I should have taken a picture of your face." He moved over to the bed and sat down at the foot of it. "I was helping out with operations planning and execution for demos last weekend." He offered as an explanation and saw understanding dawn on Kay’s face even before he started his tale of the weekend meeting Jenny and Tom. A nurse came in to check on Kay and also to inform Marc that the physiotherapist had requested for him to continue wearing the neck brace until their first appointment on Monday morning. She wasn't gone from the room for more than a minute when Kay moved to the side of the bed and clapped on a spot next to him.

"I think you have more stories to tell..
“mostly I have to apologize for about 350 things and moments” Marc interjected solemnly.
“…... And I want to know and to listen but… we have never … talked that much and not touched. Can you come up here?" His voice was uncharacteristically small and uncertain.
"Sure" was all Marc replied before sliding up next to him and turning to his side. He put his hand carefully on Kay’s cheek "But if you need rest we can also continue talking later. After waiting two week, two more hours won't kill me"
Kay didn't dignify this with a verbal reply at first. He closed the distance and simply kissed him for a long moment. "Don't be silly. I want to know what happened in your life. It appears I continue to be a part of it." he smiled hopefully.

The talking only died down over an hour later. Marc had apologized for pushing him away, for punching him, and for a lot of moments where he should have reacted differently. Kay listened and honestly replied that he would like not to analyse all these moments now, that he didn’t feel he had the energy. Instead, he wanted to know, how Frank had found out, about the investigation and everything he needed to know before someone from their unit or Marc’s family visited the hospital. Marc tried to explain succinctly but as complete as possible. There would be time to speak about details later.

After Marc had clarified that Bettina knew, that it had been his decision to tell her, and that his situation at home was "not easy and not really settled". He finally felt like he had said everything that mattered for now. He had also explained about the information Meier and Keller were aware of and the ongoing discussion with his parents.
Kay looked at him unsure how to react. He could wonder about how any of this will continue, he could ask how Marc felt about it. He could bring up the open topic about the situation at work.
But he didn't want to, he felt like Marc had taken so many steps in the last weeks that their whole situation had changed without him saying or doing anything. For all the pushing he had done before and all the fights they had had because of it, he felt elated. He decided to stick with that feeling and the happiness about Marc being there.
They cuddled close on the bed and set an alarm on Marc’s phone for half an hour before his agreed pick-up time. When they woke at the alarm sound of the phone, they looked at each other calmly, happy in a way they hadn't been for quite a while. Marc went back to his room and grabbed the few items, mostly his uniform from the day before and got ready. Frank was driving him home after the release papers had been taken care of and informed his friend that their colleague Limpinski had been temporarily released from duty until the case had been resolved and clarified. Marc didn't want to say anything, knowing his mood would turn rotten if he spoke or thought about what had happened too much. But Frank obviously expected an reaction. Marc took a hard breath "he left him unconscious on the ground. Bleeding. If our system gets anything right, he should never get back to working as a police officer. "

Back at home, Marc directly went to the nursery to check on the baby and when he started crying just a few minutes later, he cleaned him and changed his diapers. He was carrying Sebastian around the room rocking him while slightly humming to himself. It took him a few moments to notice Bettina standing in the door smiling to herself.
"You're good at this Marc. You look horrible and very happy at the same time."
Marc stopped, unsure how to reply. Bettina sensed she had said something wrong but couldn't understand what exactly made him pause, so she just offered "dinner will be ready in 10 minutes" before she went back to the kitchen.

Over dinner Marc felt reluctant to explain what had happened between the beginning of his shift at the stadium and his arrival back home, but Bettina kept silently, expectantly, staring at him and it was making him uncomfortable. Also it was clear that the hospital visits and physiotherapy in the next days would require a form of explanation. So he took a steadying breath and started recounting the events.
"…So in the end the gear absorbed most of the impact and all I need is a week off combined with some physiotherapy to make sure my neck/ shoulder flexibility is okay. But my head is fine." Marc finalized his explication.
"I am not surprised. You have always been very thick-headed." She smiled at him fondly and he couldn't help but smile back at her. He truly hoped that soft smiles and laughter over dinner was how the two of them would keep spending time, discussing their lives and their sons' in the future years. He hoped that she would eventually forgive him. Before he could talk himself out of it Marc shared the news that would turn this dinner back to the cold atmosphere that had dominated in the last weeks. "Kay woke up this morning." He stared down at his plate and pushed a piece of potato around waiting for Bettina to give any kind of comment.
"I assume he is going to be fine and you're going to visit him tomorrow." she said after a few moments. Her voice was cold, emotionless, mechanic in a way Marc couldn't remember hearing before.
"ehm, yes." And because he didn't know anything else to say, he finished his dinner in silence.

Chapter Text

The next morning Marc made a stop at the apartment to grab some clothes and a list of items Kay had wished for. He took a sports bag from the cabinet, filled it quietly and spend a couple of minutes smelling all three shower gels he found in the bathroom to determine the best one. When he arrived at the hospital room Kay and a slightly exasperated nurse were already waiting for him.

"See?! I told you my clothes and shower items would be here within 5 minutes." Kay smiled triumphantly at the nurse.
"That's great. Now let's take the wheelchair to the bathroom. I will assist you in the shower and if we manage to get you dressed and back to bed within 15 minutes without any dizziness or any other troubles, you'll get my permission to use the bathroom and go to the vending machine area alone for the rest of the day. Sounds good?"
"awesome." Kay smiled and moved himself from the bed into the wheelchair, obviously eager to get out of bed.
"Marc can you put the bag on the bed?"
Marc did as asked and saw Kay quickly go through the items grabbing shower gel and a set of clothes and move to the bathroom with the nurse. When the door opened a little while later Kay smiled and managed to move the few meters between the bathroom door and the bed without difficulties. The nurse nodded at him contently. "That was good. Now please don't hesitate to call for help if you need to or ask your friend to help you, but if you feel capable, please use all these very short distances -to the bathroom, to the window, to the shelf, to the vending machine in the hall - as exercise and monitor yourself. If you want to go further outside… leave this floor –please keep using the wheelchair and make sure to not exert yourself. 60 minutes tops. "she waited for him to acknowledge all she said with a nod before she parked the wheelchair close to the door and turned to leave "my colleague will come by in 4 hours!"
"Thanks and have a nice day Christa!" Kay called after her.

Only seconds after the door clicked shut he turned to Marc and tilted his head slightly. "Good morning kiss?" he asked playfully and only had to wait for him to cross the two steps to the bed before he could feel his lips. Marc’s range of movement was very limited due to the brace but they managed a soft and caressing kiss. The moment of tenderness and endearment left both of them breathless and wanting more. They stared into each other’s eyes and felt content for a moment. When a nagging voice in the back of Kay’s head asked “how long you think it will last?” he decided to shut it up immediately with another quick kiss.

"So, let's see if you can follow orders" he said and pulled the bag over, looking for one of the items he listed yesterday.
"Kay, you do know I work at the police station."
"Doesn't necessarily mean you would follow my orders… let me boss you around." The last part was added only after he was sure Marc had caught the intended meaning of his words. He waited for a reply. To his surprise, he saw that the darker haired man just held his breath for a second while his pupils dilated. But he said nothing.
That was interesting, and should definitely be analyzed once they were both back to full health, Kay decided.

He pulled the wooden backgammon box out of the bag and held it up to Marc "You know how to play ?"
They played a few rounds talking about nothing, mostly teasing each other, until the sun fell through the window on Kay’s hand and the white scars were clear to see. Marc looked at them again and then up at his lover’s face. “How did you get that scar?” his finger pointed to the most visible of them on the outside of the index finger.

Kay took a deep breath “Domestic violence call my first year after I finished the training.” He said and looked away.
“And?” Marc asked, certain that there was more to it from Kay’s behavior.
“You really want to know ?”
“Then you have to tell me something personal in return”
“So it’s personal?”
“You’re clever. So, deal?” Kay raised his eyebrows in challenge.
“deal, what do you want to know”
“Tell me about your first kiss!”

It was not what Marc had expected, but he could talk about that. “Okay, I was... 13 I think, she was in the year above me. Julia, 14, slim, long dark blond hair. It was after our school team lost against the Schiller-Gymnasium the final match of the year. We talked while we waited on the bus home and she kissed me. I remember sticky strawberry lipgloss and a racing heart.”
Now that he thought about it, Marc had to smile at the memory.
“You became sweethearts?”
“No, a few days later we left for summer vacation to the north sea and when I came back she was dating some blond guy in the neighborhood. Now come on, tell me!”
“Patience is a virtue, Marc” Kay chided, while packing the game away slowly”

“It was a domestic violence call, made by neighbors living above a family, it was close to the end of a long shift. I was with a pretty old colleague. I had just finished the training, two, maybe three months ago. We enter the apartment and there is clear signs of struggle on the ground, broken glasses, plates, … you know. A slightly drunk, aggressive father, a tiny, shy mother and their kid, barley 17 years old, black-colored, longish hair, lip ring, emo type…
The father was shouting about nosy neighbors and he was truly upset that we were there. But we had to make sure everything was okay, so… my colleague asked me to speak with the boy separately, while he dealt with the parents...

Markus was his name. Turned out his dad didn’t think the whole emo look was very manly, and started about not feeding little queers from his income during family dinner. So Markus and his dad got into a pretty loud fight, but nothing that needed our intervention. I asked him a few standard questions and informed him about how to contact youth services in case it got more violent. And then I just told him that it might be easier with his dad and with any questions or worries he may have if he’d check out the counseling offers and groups for gay kids in the youth center…
I mentioned the name of the local group again when we went back into the living room. Markus got scared his father might hear about it… he felt that was too much that I mentioned it, so he kind of shoved me, to shut me up. I stumbled, fell and cut my hand in the glass on the floor – that’s the fine lines.”

“What happened afterwards?”
“Nothing, my colleague wanted me to press charges against the kid, for that tiny shove… I played it down and for a couple of months nothing happened. Until we got called again. Similar situation and we had to leave again. Then we got called a third time. The dad was more drunk, and more enraged. Markus had a split lip, so at least one punch made contact. The mother was nowhere to be seen and the dad kept going on and on about hairdressers and drag queens like a maniac.

This time we both stayed with them in the living room, just trying to figure out what was going on … it was a mess of shouting and crying… I tried to drone the father out and clarify with Markus if he wanted to press charges against his dad or if he wanted to stay with youth services for the night… he declined again…I felt fucking angry and helpless. Then the fathers slur turned into this whole speech about how he wished he had a real man for a son, someone who would become an engineer, or a lawyer or a military officer not some useless faggot... that they all turned out to be wimpy hairdressers living of minimum wage.
I … it wasn’t my smartest move... but I was just fed up with this guy.
So I kind of talked back at him, that no matter what orientation his son had and what decisions he took, he deserved to be raised without violence and… yeah just because I’d heard it too many times I told him, that he can relax. That gay men are working in all kinds of jobs in the society. I swear I wanted to leave it at that”.

Marc just nodded, fearing where the story might be headed.
“But then he basically said that actors, dancers, drag queens and hair stylists sure as hell didn’t make a society.”
“And you punched him?” Marc asked.
“No, believe me I wanted to, but no. I turned around and calmed myself down, took a few breaths…I remember exactly what I said. I said
Sir, I can assure you that there are gay lawyers, gay engineers, gay doctors, gay mechanics, gay teachers, gay police officers … you’re son’s options for a future career are not limited at all by his orientation.”
He completely froze. Didn’t say anything, and then the son asked us to leave and we did.

But of course… as soon as I sat in the police car… my colleague was ripping me a new one , telling me that it was unprofessional and I should not make social science courses or political speeches during my job hours. And then he said that he’d been working 30 years in the police, and had never seen a gay police officer. “
And I just replied. “you have. Every fucking day of the last 10 months. I’m gay.” He didn’t reply and never spoke of it again. Actually, I don’t think we spoke more than 20 words any shift after that.
But of course he spoke to others.” Kay sighed.
“Yeah and then after a while I started wondering if maybe I should change my job, if it made sense to work in the police if the police didn’t want to work with me… I wondered if the situation would be different in another department or in a bigger city…

One colleague, a hulk of a man, attacked me in the changing rooms one day, said I made him uncomfortable in the showers and should make sure to keep my eyes and my girly hands to myself… He pressed me into a wall, bruised my wrists and cut with his nail into the scar on my left hand and...” Kay sighed and looked out of the window for a moment before he continued.
“I went to my superiors to report it and was told to “better keep quiet” and to not cause "any more" disruption in the unit. I didn’t have much illusions left about my job, but that day... fuck was I disappointed.
To change my mood some friends took me to a club. And for some funny reason that’s where I ran into Markus again. We had two beers and he thanked me for the tips I had given him. He told me that the youth group helped him in a depressed phase with his suicidal tendencies and that I helped him save his own life in a way. And he went on and thanked me for what I had said to his dad and told me how fucking important it is to be visible. Somehow our discussion moved to conflicts and he showed me some of his scars and explained that he was fucking proud of them, because he had received them for defending his friends and standing up for himself and they now served as a reminder of who he is and what he can do.

Yeah, so when I got home I took the blade from my razor, cleaned it and opened the scar, the full length of it. To make sure it wouldn’t fade away after a year or two. To make sure I had a reminder. It may sound silly to you, but it was very important to me back then.” Kay finally looked up to Marc’s face, unsure what kind of reaction he might receive. Marc smiled calmly. “It’s not silly. And it’s still important to you.” He paused.
“When you’re stressed but you need to appear calm, you have this tendency to push your thumb under that scar, to press your nail in the skin there.
I have never seen anyone else do it, but I get it now.” He took Kay’s hand softly in his.
“How do you feel about me pushing your lovely wheelchair around the hospital garden? Just to change the mood…There’s some sun.” Marc suggested. “Sure, why not.” the blond replied, mind still caught in memories and thoughts.

Two hours later Marc was balancing a tray with three coffees and a cappuccino back to the room and only caught the end of what Kay was explaining "…was knocked out by a twig and now has some colorful bruises and a neck brace."
"Doesn't sound like much fun" Jenny said to Kay and was a bit surprised to hear Marc exclaim almost at the same time
"twig? that twig was stronger than your calf !"
The silence and raised eyebrows that followed felt uncomfortable. And it got only more uncomfortable as Tom leaned forward from his seat next to Kays bed to look more closely at Kay’s legs and said "that's an …unusual comparison but it seems plausible with your forehead in the nice pink, violet and blue."
The comment made Marc’s face light up bright red and had Kay laughing lightly.

Within seconds he felt how uncomfortable Marc was and changed the topic with a quick "Thanks for getting us coffee" as he reached for the tablet.
Jenny threw Tom an annoyed look and jumped in "glad we called you just as you were making your order".
She handed Tom the Cappuccino and started speaking about how calm the house is without her wife and daughter and that after enjoying the calm for about 4 hours it got boring way to quickly. She couldn't wait for them to come back. While she was explaining about the part of family "her girls" were visiting Marc remained standing with the tablet and the last coffee in his hand. Looking back and forth between the taken chair (Tom) the taken spot at the end of the bed (Jenny) and Kay he knew where he wanted to sit. But he didn't feel ready to live through the surprise and teasing that surly would ensue. He could just remove the bag from the left end of the bed and sit down next to Jenny. But somehow he didn't want to.

Any day now the information of his affair with Kay could become public knowledge at the station, here he was in a super supportive and safe environment, with the man he wanted to be with. If he couldn't live through the stress of a coming out here, would he ever be able to present Kay proudly and casually anywhere? He needed to grow some fucking balls.
He had just set down the tablet on the small table and looked in Kay's direction as he turned his head and looked straight at him, a question clear in his eyes.
'Breath evenly pussy' Marc thought as he moved to the head of the bed and silently asked Kay with a tilt of his head to move over a bit. Kay was surprised, a little shocked even. After the insinuation just minutes before he had expected Marc to behave as unambiguously hetero alpha male as possible. After all, leopards weren't famous for changing their spots.
But Marc was still standing there, looking at him. He moved, unsure as to what exactly Marc would be comfortable with. Should he keep a distance between them? Should he say something ?

His thoughts were interrupted as Marc moved his left arm around his shoulders and sat down close to him. "thanks hon" he mumbled while concentrating to look at the blanket. the "honey" had died on his tongue but Kay had heard and seen enough to not care about the missing letters, he was beaming at him.
Their moment had not gone unnoticed by Jenny and Tom who had both gone silent looking at them.
"So Engel, you think you might have forgotten to mention that colleague Ludwigsburg is your boyfriend ?!"
Now it was Kay's time to turn a bit red and search for a response.
"Not his fault. Ludwigsburg hadn't worked out his priorities until very recently. And... well… I'm not exactly out and proud." Marc answered right away.
"Marc, I promise I will find you a new nickname, just please do me a favor and stop speaking about yourself in the 3rd person. I am allergic to it." Jenny replied foregoing any reaction to his confession and just winking at him a few seconds later. Marc didn't know what it was exactly about Jenny that made him feel so comfortable, but when he heard himself speak without thinking about it and not regretting it afterwards, he felt sure he'd found a good friend. "Okay." Marc agreed and took a sip of his coffee.

The next hour passed in friendly banter and exchanging of short stories and anecdotes between the friends. Every few minutes Kay would shift a tiny bit, just to feel the arm still resting against his shoulders and back. On the one hand he was feeling tired easily and nothing like his healthy and athletic self, on the other hand he felt happy and whole in a way he hadn't in a very long time.
Jenny was the first to notice when he slipped out of the conversation more and more frequently to yawn and looked more tired generally. So she grabbed Tom, made everybody hug goodbye and left Kay and Marc to have a nap. When Tom was hugging Marc goodbye, he was not using his quiet voice when he advised “Next time Marc, just grow some fucking balls and kiss sleeping beauty awake a few days early, okay?!”
Instead of a reply Marc’s face just turned purple, which in turn made Jenny push Tom out of the room complaining that he was always embarrassing people and that he could fucking drive on his own the next time. Once the door clicked shut, Kay turned on his side and smiled at Marc, who was still standing frozen.

"That was pretty brave of you. The first few times are so fucking scary." He made room for Marc to sit down next to him again.
"yeah. I felt scared alright. I know they are open and friendly, but still I felt scared." Marc was shaking his head slightly.
"But you did it." Kay smiled and kissed him, leaving his hand in Marc’s neck and brushing the cheek with his thumb
"So… what about sleeping beauty makes you blush like that?”

Chapter Text

Dear readers,

the "few weeks" have turned into 14 so far.... I apologize. Life has been crazy. A mess, a chaos and a blessing and then COVID-19 came and mixed it up even more....

First of all let me say this: I hope you and your loved ones are alright, wherever you are. I wish you are healthy or at least getting better, physically and mentally. Make sure to reach out to people via text, voice msg etc etc. and take care of yourself and others.

Secondly, some great news: My beloved cat survived the severe stroke she had end of december and is mostly back to her old self. And that happend even though the most optimistic vets were giving her an estimated lifespan of days, maybe 2 weeks when she was released from the animal clinic. Her story is a reminder to never lose hope which is getting me through my current health issues and quarantine. I am incredibly grateful that she is still with me, even if a lot of my nights are no longer the continous deep sleep they used to be.

Thirdly, I promised to not to abandond this story and I haven't. But going back to the thing I was doing when she had her stroke... it's.... difficult. especially the two chapters which should follow now are impossible for me to write. I am completely stuck.
In order to get back into writing I have started with what was supposed to be the epilouge of this story... it's now becoming a 2-3 parter called " gratitude for guardians". I know it's a bit unusual but I have decided to start posting this epilouge/ tiny story before finishing "every single step". I hope that some of you are willing to read it and maybe give some feedback to help me "get back into it".
If anyone has tips or ideas how I can move on with every single step ... I'll be grateful to hear/read it.
Love, Qisas.

Chapter Text

Monday started with lots of checkups and medical appointments for Kay and Marc had not been able to see him before his own physiotherapy. In the afternoon, he had managed to bring Kay some outside food for dinner and they had planned to meet up after physiotherapy the next day before the visiting hours were over.

Tuesday moring Marc left the house tired from a particularly sleepless night, still hearing Sebastian's cries in his ears. His first appointment of the day did not make him feel any better. Physiotherapy was torture combined with massages that felt wonderful for minutes before suddenly turning violent. It also included tons of information about which positions to avoid, how to relax his muscles regularly during desk work and modifications for his gym workout plan, which he was supposed to start taking up again after a few days. When Marc muttered that he didn't sleep much and would never remember all the muscle names and exercises, the physio therapist just smiled at him.
“Okay, short and simple version: don’t overexert yourself, especially the shoulders and neck. Don’t stay in one position for too long, keep moving but don’t use the full range of movement yet. Your neck will hurt more easily for a little while longer. We will have a few more appointments to check your progress.”
That didn't sound too bad. As long as he was off work he'd be moving around a lot anyways and if he had a medical reason to interupt the boring computer work that was awaiting him the week after that- all the better.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

About an hour later under a hospital shower Marc involuntarily found out what exactly the therapist had meant. Maybe he should have thought this trough. But then again, going to his knees had not been part of any plan, not even a conscious decision. There had been no time to think anything through.
He had stopped by Kay’s room after his therapy session as agreed, grabbed his gym bag and went to freshen himself up. Kay had entered the bathroom after him suggesting that they both could use a shower and undressed directly. Marc’s agreed happily, removing the last pieces of clothing quickly. They had been together in the bathroom less than a minute when Kay made a step forward and started kissing Marc passionately. He had missed this so unbelievably much and felt a chaotic storm of gratefulness and need run through his system that barely let him register the not-warm-enough water, the chipped tiles or anything else of the surroundings. They were kissing, licking into each other’s mouths and letting their hands roam freely. The hot need for each other was only interrupted by slow, cherishing strokes of fingers along necklines and shoulders.
They broke apart for a second and Marcs gaze was captured by a loving stare out of soft blue eyes that conveyed so much emotion that he felt his knees go weak. Instead of falling against Kay he moved to kiss the way down his chest and abs before kneeling. Once he reached the floor he started to express his love and need without a thought. With every lick and tease Kay was cursing softly and within few moments Marc could feel his breathing change and some of his muscles tighten.
A particularly loud and low groan made him look up at Kays face just as he was moving the final centimeters closer. Kay’s body formed a tensely taut bow from his head and shoulders thrown back against the tiles, to his hips shaking lightly under Marcs care. The water was turning colder bit by bit but they were burning up and barely noticing it.

Marc was starting to wonder if Kay had always looked this beautiful covered in water and recalled another moment, from what seemed like eons ago. Cold raindrops running down Kay’s neck on their first encounter in Ludwigsburg had been burned into his memory. He was hoping that what was happening right now would also remain with as just much detail in his head. He placed a firm hand on Kay’s right hip and started speeding his movements when suddenly a muscle in his neck spasmed and caused extreme pain. Fuck, maybe it wasn’t meant to be this easy to fall back into anything physical when they were both recovering. He tried to change his angle slightly but felt his neck protesting even more, and for a second he wanted to hit the wall in frustration.
Instead Marc created a small suction for a final moment and surrendered to his limitations. He was just about to apologize to Kay and move up again when the blond cried out and found his release as he slipped from Marc's lips. He decided that the blonds blissed face was worth his pain before he learned that cold water and a sensitive neck were also not a good mix, not even if urging hands wanted to convince him otherwise.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The rest of that day and the following days were spend much more mindful of Marc's neck and with mix of physiotherapy, joking around about who had the “more impressive “ stories, scars or discolorations, discussions with medical personnel, significantly decreasing headaches and a generally happy mood. Marc had for once decided to accept his physical and psychological limitations and avoided any type of strain including discussions and fights with his family. Thankfully Bettina had agreed to deal with his parents and their " baby hour" that they were trying to establish every other day. This way he could ignore the discussions that were awaiting him at his childhood home. His parents had learned after a few days that their calls would go to voicemail and remain unanswered for now.
Marc still felt nervous about the situation at work but became somewhat used to the idea of being welcomed back at the station with silly jokes about queers. He wasn’t looking forward to it but decided that there was no use in hiding and pointlessly hoping people wouldn’t suspect anything for the forseeable future. He had cleared his name from the investigation of the attack on Kay by explaining their relationship. Most likely Meier and Keller had informed Eiden and he might be planning the separation of Kay and Marc into different units with Frank and the other unit leaders at any morning meeting. Even if Eiden kept his mouth shut, there were too many curious people in his team and the case notes and records of his testimony as well as Kellers verification could easily be found in the records. People would know, or find out very soon. And he wouldn't leave Kay to deal with any questions alone - his behaviour , especially his accusations, after Kay's coming out had caused enough pain. He wouldn't disappoint him again.

“... but that still doesn’t mean you have to do this... I swear I am not disappointed.” Kay said for probably the third time in as many minutes.
“I know, I don’t have to do anything, Kay. I know I could probably wait and see for a little bit longer.”
“I mean, we didn’t hear anything from Frank. So if something from the investigation would have been leaked I am sure the team would have discussed us over lunch by now. After all most of our unit are total gossip girl’s.”
Marc had to laugh at that characterization of their unit.
“Maybe Frank wasn’t there during gossip time, maybe he’s not telling us because he wants to give us calm and peace… maybe noone knows anything yet. The point is: it doesn’t matter. They are coming to visit you tonight and I want to be here. They can be an exhausting group! Some of them are friends of Gregor and they may ask silly questions or insinuate things … I want to be here for you. Not for a coming out, not for any demonstration. They don’t need to know right now. But if they ask why I am here or if they want to confirm anything they might have heared… I will not lie. And I don’t want you to be in a position where you may have to lie for me either.” He met Kay’s eyes in a pointed stare.
Kay thought about discussing what exactly Marc would be comfortable to tell or what he definetly didn't want the team to know, but Marc had been checking his watch repeatedly in the last few minutes and was on his way out. They'd just have to play it by ear, which would probably be pretty easy ... because noone would ask anything silly, Kay hoped. “Okay, so no lieing unless either of us feels it's the better option... I give you a free pass to interrupt anything I say or turn it around to fit with what you want, okay? whatever they say or do.... I will not be alone because, I will see you back here later. And whatever happens we can discuss it after. ”
“okay, babe . Now try to get some rest. I have to take care of some things at home but I will be here by 4:30.”
“I thought they wanted to come by at 5 ?” Kay asked a bit confused.
“Yes. And I said I won’t make any demonstration of us. So I fully intend to collect my dose of Kay Engel kisses before anyone else is near.
See you later babe.” Marc put a quick kiss to laughing lips and left the room with a little spring in his step Kay surely didn’t imagine.

16:38. Kay's phone confirmed what the clock on the wall was showing him. .. Marc was late, and there was no call or text . Trying to tell himself that it meant nothing he started the TV and zapped through channels mindlessly.

 16:46. Kay threw his phone to the end of the bed after checking it for the probably 20th time. Only to get up and grab is phone again on the way to the bathroom. Wondering again if he should simply call Marc. He had promised he'd be there. Maybe Sebastian was crying or the car wouldn't start or any silly normal everyday thing was making him late. No reason to freak out and annoy him with a call. He wouldn't be able to answer a ringing cell anyways while he was on his way here. Kay sighed, opened the phone again and typed a short message.

At 16:57 there was a soft knock on Kay's door and for a short second he felt relief before he saw Britt usher a few of the colleauges inside. Tobias was there, Niklas, Manuel, Sophie and Frank. Less than a third of their team and Marc was nowhere to be seen. Kay's heart sank and he tried his damnest to ignore the bitter voice in his head that said "of course Marc wasn't ready for this, what did you expect ?"
So he took a deep breath and put on his best fake smile and tried to answer all the typical questions and comments but he couldn't help noticing that his text remained unanswered and his thoughts kept wandering.

"You don't like the pizza? Frank was sure it's your favourite !" Niklas asked when Kay reached for a napkin after a his second slice.
"It's perfect Niklas, Frank had good memory." Kay assured quickly.
" But you're not hungry or what ? Don't tell me hospital food has finally improved!" Sophie interfered.
" No, that's still bland and luke warm. I think my stomach is just not agreeing with my medication all that well." Kay thought that sounded plausible. Until he saw Britt raise an eyebrow in confusion.
"Didn't you say you're now off all the medication?"
Thankfully Frank jumped in immediately. " guys, we promised to bring stories from outside and not discuss medication and injuries and shit. Plus, if blondie is eating less, that means there is more pizza for me and that.." he took the carton with a big smile " is awesome. Especially after all the boring meetings I had to sit through today". < br /> " But that's still better than my shift !" Manuel sighed.
"You help out the patrol group in city center one day and already it's a drama. I was with them for five continuous days last month and survived just fine." Tobis interrupted him.< br /> " Did anyone throw up on you in the very first hour of your shift ? " Manuel asked. " No? I didn't think so. Noone has bad luck like me" he added in a dramatic voice when noone spoke. Britt and Kay started laughing and Frank had trouble finishing his slice of pizza before asking or the details.

" So, yould you like to have a short round in the hospital garden before I leave ?" Britt asked about an hour later while putting on her jacket.
The others had left already a while ago but Kay had asked her to stay and took a chance to apologize to her. He hadn't planned this ahead and didn't have a nice short-but-well-worded speech ready. But he was able to explain how he felt bad about never correcting her assumptions about his interest and letting th rumor mill at the station run. They ended up talking almost half an hour about macho culture at the police and trying to fit in “with the boys” and Kay remembered why it had been so easy to spend a couple of evenings and luch breaks with her.
"I don't think they let you out on your own yet.. and normally you run what, 30 kilometers a week ? You must feel so stuck here in this room. Put on your shoes, it will do you good."
Kay smiled, nodded and did as he was told. When Britt turned to grab his sweater he tried to check his phone for messages without her noticing, but no such luck. Nothing from Marc and Britt stared at him with a curious smile " Or am I interferring with any evening plans with a hot cardiologist?"
Kay shook his head and accepted the sweater.
" A surgeon maybe ?" Britt tried again but accepted Kays silence and changed the topic while she moved to the door " Do you need me to take the wheelchair with us, just in case ?"
"No, I'll be fine."

The evening air was cool and humid and normally Kay would have felt it comforting, relaxing. But his thoughts were running in circles, trying to find a new topic for a talk with Britt and not being angry or upset with Marc for not showing up and not even answering his text. He barely noticed Britt had said anything when she speed up her steps.
" Hey, isn't that Marc over there?" She pointed to a man sitting hunched over on a bench in the hospital garden, starring at the gound, phone in one hand. Kay didn't need to make any steps closer, he knew she was right.
He saw Marc raise his head when Britt stood directly in front of him. He looked exhausted. What the hell had happened ?

Chapter Text

„Hey Marc, is everything okay? What are you doing here ?“ Kay could hear Britt’s questions as he made his way over to them.
„Hey Britt... I’m okay.
Everything is okay."

His voice didn’t sound convincing at all. Marc looked like he had seen a ghost. He looked directly at Britt but didn’t seem to register any of his surroundings.
„Sebastian gave us a little scare today but it’s fine.“ He showed her a thight smile.

„What happened, if you don’t mind me asking?“ Britt voiced carefully and Kay could tell that she expected Marc to just shrugg it off and not reply. He took a deep breath.

„Just an allergic reaction. They already took him back home.“

He looked way too tired and raw for it to just be an allergic rash. And he probably wasn’t the type of dad to rush to the E.R. if his son had a few red blotches on his skin. Kay was still trying to make sense of Marc’s out off it-look. What could he mean by allergies.. allergies.... shit.

„Marc,shit.. Did he have an anaphylactic shock?“ Kay asked imagining the the horror of watching his son struggle for air. He wanted to comfort him but didn’t dare to move too close with Britt just standing there.
Marc turned his head to him sharply, as if he just now realised that Kay was standing a few feet away. „Kay?“ Now seeing the haunted look on his partner’s face, the blond wanted nothing more than to press him against his chest and make him feel better, but that wouldn‘t have been the most subtle approach.

Marc seemed to have no concern for Britt or subtlety as he locked eyes with him and got up.
„Kay, baby, I’m so, so sorry. Please forgive me.“ He took one of Kay’s hand into his.

„I promised you I’d be there but she just kept saying these things and I... I should have just left and come to you…it’s not disrespectful to my family … he was alright…even the doctors said..“ Marc was rambeling on and on, not noticing and or caring for Kays glances and small hints trying to remind him that they had an audience.

„Marc, breath evenly“ Kay finally said and placed his free hand on Marcs shoulder, in what he hoped was a comforting and grounding gesture.

After a few breaths Marc moved forward pressing his chest against Kay’s in search of comfort. Kay wasn’t sure how to react and felt almost frozen. The tense silence was interrupted by Bitt clearing her throat awkwardly. „ Ehm.. guys, I gotta go… Still have... things to do..“ she trailled of.
„I guess, I’ll text you Kay?“ As soon as she saw him nod she turned around and walked away… a low „have a good night“ spoken over her shoulder.

„I’m sorry I let you down. Again.“ Marc said only moments later pressing his forhead shortly onto Kays shoulder before taking a half step away. „I’m really sorry“. Fell from his lips and he was sounding more disapointed in himself than anything else.

„Marc… I was surprised when you didn’t show up.. yes but I am not angry. What do you say we have a walk around the building and you tell me what happend?“ He already turned their held hands to clasp and made a step into the walkway.



They walked the small round of the hospital garden multiple times before Marc had finally managed to tell everything that had happened in the few hours prior. Kay now had to deal with his desire to walk all the way to the Borgmanns house and give Mrs. Borgmann a piece of mind. But Marc needed him and both of them needed to get back into his room for some warmth and comfort soon. So fuck her and fuck his desire to tell her off… it would have been a waste of energy anyways.

„So let me summarize this… Sebastian is allergic against Bettina’s new bodylotion, the rash was getting worse after she handed him to you and left. You realized after a few minutes what was happening and how it might get worse and brought him in for a check up, you informed Bettina immediately. Everything is resolved with a tiny shot of cortison and a cream… and then they attack you for being an unreliable irresponsable dad when you get the all clear to go back home? What were they thinking? How... but mostly why?"

„Why did Bettina ask my parents to bring her here?“ Kay nodded.

„honestly I have no idea why. There are other people she could have asked, friends.. or even just get a taxi. She knows how complicated the situation between them and me is at the moment…“ Marc sighed. He didn't want to consider that maybe Bettina had not cared for the confrontation that was sure to result from the Borgmanns accompaniying her to the hospital or, even worse, that she had for some reason wanted the fight to happen.

„You know, just shortly before five I took my phone out … I was so nervous how the team might approach you, if they would ask about us or … I knew Seb was okay by then… So I wanted to send you a short message, let you know where I am, what’s going on. But she had followed me outside and asked me what I was doing and I just said ‚texting Kay‘. Suddenly she started this whole monolouge on how I imagined that you could understand what having responsibility for a child might mean and how I could be so irresonsible to leave his room to play with my phone… and then she started another monolouge about how i should ‚stop this silliness‘, apologize to Bettina and not throw away the life I’ve build and I should fight for my family or I would grow old sad and alone and.. I felt that this was what she had actually wanted to say before in the room…That was probably the sole reason she came along. To paint me a picture of a miserable future." Marc sighed and took a moment to consciously unclench his fist.
"It felt weird to watch them all leave together with Sebastian.. and me, like an outsider starring after them. It should have hurt but honestly, I felt relieved. “

„I can imagine. You just wanted the stressful situation to end.“ Kay replied and tugged on their clasped hands in a silent question if they would make another round or turn to go up to his room. Marc answered with a tiny pull into the garden.
„So they left like 5:30?“ Kay asked and Marc nodded shortly and looked away ashamed.

He knew exactly where Kays next question was headed… -why didn’t you come up after that – and the answer was, that he had been a pussy. A tired pussy. A tired, frightend pussy making wrong assumptions.
The fighting with his parents had left him drained and feeling unsure of himself in a way that had become all to familiar in the last few months… He couldn’t find the energy to go up and exchange pleasentries with colleauges and he had been afraid that it would look even weirder if he showed up late and exhausted than if he had just been there from the start.
And he had seen that Kay send a text. He didn’t even read it, just assumed that Kay was pissed of for breaking his promise of showing up.

In his dark mood he went down to the garden trying the relieve some of the stress and frustration, tension and fears that made him feel he was loosing his mind. He wanted to scream, to hit something or someone… even more so than all those weeks ago after Kay had been found during the raid of King’s Club and he almost smashed his TV... He was seeing red and he needed to calm the fuck down.
So he had paced and pulled his hair and thought about how dangerously close he came to hitting his own mother today. He had smoked one cigerrate, then another and a third before he felt a tiny bit better and sat down. Determind to 'man up‘ and finally read Kay's text and to figure out a way to calm him down and apologize to him.

He had taken his phone out and opened the message, sure to find a „where the fuck are u?“. Instead his heart accelerated and his eyes watered .

„hope ur alright. pretend you come from physio. Or hide in the washroom and see me after. Both is ok. :-x“

And suddenly he had felt silly and sad and so fucking much in love, that it hurt. He cried for a few minutes contemplating how everything could feel so much more difficult and so much more intense than one year ago at the same time.

Before Bettina finally became pregnant, their life together had felt simple and good. Nice, comfortable even with an uncanny similarity to boredom that had been nagging him a bit. But everyone he had talked to, had told him it’s to be expected, that he wasn’t a teenager any more living from thrill to thrill. His family, his friends and especially Frank had stressed that he should enjoy the calm and quiet until the first of „hopefully a small bunch of“ children would change their life.
In the end it wasn’t his firstborn but the baby blue eyes and amused half smile of Kay that turned his life upside down. And now he was left with a life in chaos wondering how one person could feel this confusing and this right at the same time.

„Marc ? Hey, let’s go up. I think we got less than an hour before they kick you out.“
„m-hm.“ Marc let Kay lead him back to his room and into a tight hug once the door was closed. Kays lips pressd against his hairline while his right was softly massageing the back of his neck, the pressure on his head comforting.

„Come“.. Kay was slowly moving them towards the bed, making sure Marc lay down next to him. It was only when Kay moved out oft he sweat jacket and threw it on the chair next to the bed that Marc noticed that the questions he expected never came. He took a deep breath in realization.

„You don’t need to tell me anything. But if you want … I can listen“ Kay offered before he had been able to think of anything to say. „Or we can just lie here. I just don’t think you should go home just now.“

„yeah, that would probably only cause more stress.“ Marc sighed and moved to rest his head on Kays chest. He felt Kays arm settle around him and didn’t move a milimeter until the announcement for end of visiting hours woke him.
„ Sorry, I didn’t mean to fall asleep on you.“ He kissed Kay and slowly removed
„Don’t worry. It felt really nice. Besides Niklas, Manuel and the rest kept me entertained more than enough for one day.“ Kay winked and smiled at him.

Marc wanted to slap himself. „I’m an idiot. I didn’t even ask. How did it go? Any silly questions ?“

„Nothing at all. Just typical „my shift- your shift“- talk. They don’t know. Or… well… didn’t. I think Britt understands it now.“

Marc’s face became empty for a second before he shrugged. Kay raised an eyebrow in question but was interrupted by the door opening.
„Mr. Engel, I know you are familiar with the rules by now. Say goodbye to your friend.“ Iris, one of the older and stricter nurses of station stood in the door looking at him expectantly.
Maybe he shouldn’t have stared at her. He definetly wouldn’t have been surprised by Marcs kiss, if he hadn’t.

„good night baby. Can I call you in an hour?“ Marc stared at him with a bit of misciefh in his eyes. Kay loved that look on him. „sure honey.“

If he streched and stressed the „honey“ because he enjoyed the shocked look on Iris‘ face… noone needed to know.


Friday morning Marc had just finished his physiotherapy session when Kay was brought into the hospital gym. Today an exercise ECG and blood pressure measurements after exercise were scheduled. The tests would determine the next steps in therapy and give indication about how well Kay was healing. They would also decide when and under which conditions he would be released from hospital. Kay was joking with the nurse who accompanied him. He tried to appear relaxed, but Marc was able to see through it and notice the signs of nervousness and worry he was giving off.

“Hey Kay” he said as he approached them. Unsure how to greet him in front of the nurse he decided on an ambiguous hug with lots of space between their bodies.

“Hey Marc, how was your session?”

“Good. I can move my head and neck full range again. Back to work on Monday but stuck to the desk for now.”

“That’s good.” Kay was honestly happy to hear it, but at the same time sad that daytime visits would be much less from now on. Hopefully, he would be leaving the hospital soon.

“hey” Marc started, dropping his voice a bit “I know you have some big tests today, would you like me to… is it okay if I keep you company?” He looked to the side, suddenly not so certain Kay would want him present.
Kay smiled “yeah, I’d like that.” He turned and made a few steps to the physiotherapist “Matthias, Marc will keep me company for the session today, is that okay?”


Little more than one hour later a very pale and very sweaty Kay fell into Marc’s arms crying happy tears, that he would deny only minutes later.
“heeey, you did well, you did really well, hon.” Marc said close to his ear, hugging Kay tightly.” I can’t believe they said Monday! I am so happy for you.” He was so relieved and emotional himself that he didn’t even think about anything, just reacted to the tired emotional mess in his arms.

During the first minutes of the exercise test some values had been “in the red zone”, alarms had raised and the physiotherapist had interrupted the testing and called to have one of the doctors familiar with Kay’s history with them. The doctor analyzed all data and actually stayed with them during the exercise, changing intensity of resistance and requested speed seemingly at random until Kay looked like he ran a marathon and Marc started worrying and asking the doctor about overexertion and dehydration.

Finally, the doctor had released Kay from the strenuous biking and attested him a stable and very strong cardiopulmonary system, even if the effect of the operations and almost three weeks of lying in bed were obvious. The blood vessels were holding perfectly, even under high heart rate and blood pressure and the doctor assured that by Monday afternoon he could be released if he promised to show up for checkups and continued to have sport only as supervised physiotherapy for two more weeks.

Marc helped Kay down onto a bench and quickly got him water and a sweater to make sure he was as comfortable as possible. When Kay finished his drink, Marc was offering his help to get up, placing a careful arm around his lower back until he was standing on his own and confirming he was stable and feeling okay. As they slowly walked to the doors, Marc joked that happy tears and sweat where a formidable combination on Kays face. “I wasn’t crying.” The blonde replied instantly, adding “Pussy” like an afterthought.

“u-huh, sure.” Marc huffed. He noticed that Kay was struggling to move with the exhaustion “I can carry you upstairs if you want. Some change from the wheelchair.”
Kay was just searching for a witty reply to that, when the doctor caught up with them at the door.

“Mr. Engel, I am sorry. I was just thinking: how do you feel about going home tonight?”

Kay was looking at the doctor with a mix of confusion and hope. “I thought you just said Monday evening”

“Yes, I know. I’m sorry. As you may know, nothing will happen here over the weekend. There is no need to keep you but for monitoring, safety and suture care. I was previously assuming you were living alone.“ his head turned in Marcs direction shortly.” But... I mean, if your partner would make sure you are not alone for more than an hour or so and if he feels capable to help you in the shower and assists with the care for your suture it would be alright to release you this afternoon…” When he felt hesitation, he just added: “maybe you think about it. Ask the nurse to show you the suture care and let me know before 2 PM, okay?” he shook Kays hand and then Marcs and left in direction of the staircase before the couple could so much as exchange looks.

Silently they walked to the elevators. Kay knew that two and a half days of continuous nurse-service were not something Marc would be able to offer, not with a baby and in the middle of a breakup at home. He thought of any remark to signal that it would be okay, but his mind came up empty. Damn, he really wanted to leave the hospital and enjoy that weekend together… but life was no fairytale. The elevator finally opened; Kay sighed as they walked inside.

“Don’t even try to tell me it’s okay for you to stay here. I know it’s not. You have been in this hospital more than long enough. I will figure out a way to make it work. I promise. I will take Monday a vacation day and arrange the weekend with her.” Marc’s words surprised Kay into silence but he firmly squeezed the hand Marc offered to silently communicate his thanks.


Sunday morning Kay was the first to wake. Staring at Marc sleeping soundly directly next to him, he felt that he could most definitely get used to this. He tried to remember when he had last enjoyed two days in a row of walking up next to someone. His brain provided an image of the first Sunday of the academy training, Marc stretching and getting out of the bunk bed while he pretended to be asleep and sneaked glances. Kay smiled to himself and started trailing his fingers along Marcs sides. They had at least two more hours before they had to get ready to grab Sebastian, Kay would make sure they used them well.