“Yeah, but it sounds a lot to me like you believe she won’t wake up,” he said.

Randall sighed. “I can’t tell you for definite she’s going to be the same woman. She may never be the same person you knew, Preacher, but I have to believe she’ll come back to us because I don’t want to think of the last time I saw her as being the last. You’re not the only person who wanted her back.” Randall finished his lunch and left.

Preacher shoved the last piece of his sandwich into his mouth, forcing it down. He drank the cold coffee and got himself another and one for Bear. When he returned to the room, Bear was there, holding her arm.

“I can’t even hold her fucking hand,” Bear said. “Look at her. She’s back and I’m too fucking drunk to even make it. I’m a useless father.”

“You’re here, aren’t you?”

“Yeah, and look what good I am. I can’t … I’m a fucking mess.”

“None of us knew what was going to happen, Bear. You can’t beat yourself up.”

“You were here, like always. You were ready.” Bear took the coffee. “I think I’ve got a problem.”

“With what?”

“With drinking. I think I need to go to rehab or, I don’t know, detox.”

“If that’s what you feel you need to do, we can get you admitted to one as soon as Robin’s better, or you can go this afternoon.”

“I don’t know if I have a problem. I don’t drink every single day and I don’t knock myself out all the time. I’m not desperate for a drink. Fuck, I drink because it passes the time and last night was the first time in a couple of days.”

“It’s up to you,” Preacher said. “When Robin wakes up, our focus is going to be on getting her well, not on thinking about us or what we need.”

“I know. I know. I will. Even if I don’t have a problem. I’m going to do it. I need to get my shit together. Robin doesn’t even have a mother to rely on anymore. She’s got us.”

“That’s still a lot of people she can trust,” Preacher said. “She’s not alone and she will never be alone again.” He sipped his hot coffee, relishing the burn as it sank down his throat. He hated to think of Robin on her own. He didn’t know what she’d been through and how she’d survived.

Had she begged for him?

“Are we still going to hunt for Reaper?” he asked.

“Oh, yes. He’s not getting off easy. I’m going to hunt him like the fucking dog he is and he’s going to wish he’d never looked in Robin’s direction.” Preacher wasn’t going to stop hunting for Reaper. The time would come when he’d find him and when he did, he was going to serve justice in his own way.

****

A couple of days later

“How come I didn’t get the memo?” Bishop asked, stepping into the room.

“I don’t go chasing you around,” Preacher said. He was reading a book. It was some kind of crime novel, but he hadn’t really taken in the story. It was just a bunch of words on the page. He was more interested in watching Robin, but after a couple of days, there was still no change. Randall said it was a good thing. Even though there was no change, it meant she wasn’t getting worse. He’d been told many times he had to start seeing the positive, but no matter how often he was told, it didn’t make it any easier, in fact, he found it far worse. He was growing tired of waiting, but at least she was here, with him. All he had to do was reach out and touch her to know she existed, that he wasn’t losing his mind. He hadn’t told Bishop. What was the fucking point in telling his son anything? Robin belonged to him, no one else.

“I’m her best friend and you didn’t think to tell me she was safe?”

Preacher looked up from his book to stare at his son. “How many times have you joined me on the leads I’ve been chasing?” He waited but Bishop didn’t give him a reply.

“Last time we spoke, you told me how pointless it was to pursue her. I should just give up because she was clearly dead. Again, you told me that. Tell me, Bishop, why the fuck would I tell you anything? Especially when you’ve spent every single available minute I’ve needed you avoiding the issue.”

“You think this is easy for me?”

“I think, like always, you’re a selfish little prick because you only think of yourself. Like now. Look at her, Bishop. Look at your best friend. The one you care so much about. Tell me she means anything to you when all you can think about is how you’ve been wronged Look at her!” He put the book down, pissed off at Bishop’s interference. He wanted to hurt his son, which was a feeling that grew every single day and had started to wear a little thin.

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