Bunny's tip on the third shooter had yielded a dead body and more questions then they'd had when they'd started. Jay would instantly wonder if the woman had only shared his name with her daughter to create some false sense of trust between them; to renew Erin's insatiable need to protect the woman who'd failed miserably to protect her from anything in her entire life.
His obligations to the case had kept him from being there for her earlier in the day, but the way she'd touched his chest when he'd found her there waiting in front of the district to give him a piece of information only she'd managed to get out of her; it hadn't been lost on him that she'd gone to him instead of Hank. The way she'd touched his chest had been so familiar and comforting and wonderful that he'd dug his hand into his pocket but the timing wasn't right and he felt the full weight of the implications behind what he was about to do; so rushed and panicked and all she would see this as was a desperate attempt for him to swoop in and fix something that had spiraled so far out of anyone's control that she wasn't sure if they'd ever be righted again.
He was on a mission now to prove to her they would be. It was what had brought him to their apartment and after he'd knocked a few times to no avail he'd used his key to invite himself in to a place where he'd left her weeks ago and as he walked in now and smelled the familiar scents of her and of the life they'd built together over the months they'd turned this place from hers to theirs; he was filled with regretful remorse for ever leaving here in the first place.
He'd try her cell a few times but it appeared to be shut off completely and he was growing restless as he waited on the couch for her to call him or turn up. He was hoping for the latter and he'd be pleasantly surprised to hear her key in the door and he was on his feet in an instant, bounding towards the door before she could say something first that would cause him to lose his nerve. His hand fell to the outside of his pocket that contained that vintage red ring box and he knew now, with absolute certainty what he needed to tell her. "Please just—let me go first." He'd pleaded before she had a chance to ask why he was here or to say or do anything that might weaken his resolve.
"I told you that weird story the other day about the married couple to test the waters because a lot has been on my mind since I left to find—" He'd be ashamed to admit he wasn't exactly sure what it was he'd been setting out to accomplish when he'd told her he couldn't be there but he'd known one thing; she'd deserved better than a man who was married and who she'd been right about when she'd said he was never going to tell her about Abby if he hadn't been forced to. She deserved more than that. "You," He couldn't find the words at first and he swallowed the thickness in his throat and somehow she was moving to place that comforting hand on his chest and he didn't deserve that tenderness after the hurt he'd caused her and the way he'd left here her alone to deal with her demons. The gesture would remain brief and soon her hands hung at her sides again.
The demons he'd left her with here all by her lonesome would mount to that moment where she'd lost control and because he hadn't been there as her back up; she'd crossed a line that left the career she'd more than busted her ass off for hanging in the balance. "I should have been there for you. You have always been there for me, Erin. Every step of the way…. and I pushed you away because you deserved someone who was better than the man I had been," He'd confess the musings he'd been content to keep to himself but if he was here to give her honesty than he shouldn't hold back. "I fucked up when I left and I've spent every second since I passed through that door trying to figure out what I could do to come back to you, but not just come back but be worthy of being back here."
His hand had moved to her hip and his heart ached at the way she recoiled slightly when he'd touched her there; almost as though it was too much to let herself enjoy his touch because she wasn't sure for how long she'd have it and it was just like all the other addictions she'd struggled to break over the years— it was best to quit it cold turkey. "My mom told me and Will that whichever us met the right girl first would get her ring. I've had it in my pocket all day, and I've been running around trying to figure out how to ask you to—" He'd stop himself. "But then when you touched my chest outside the district earlier today, it made me realize that you deserve so much more than a rushed attempt at fixing what I broke. You deserve me; showing up every day to prove to you that I'm worthy of you again, of us, of our love." His voice was thick with emotion and she wanted nothing more than to cave in to her instincts to fall against his chest and let the tears come and kiss him wildly until they'd taken off each other's clothes and rememorized the curves of each others bodies.
"Jay," Was the only breathy response she'd allow herself now though and she was too overcome with emotion; a dominating one being that of confusion, to say much else. There was too much going on right now. She couldn't handle this. But then, he was changing everything when he was taking that small red box out and flicking it open before she could stop him. "I've loved exactly two woman in my life and only one of them is still on this earth," He'd take a swift step towards her. "And even though they never met I think this ring was meant to belong to them both." His lips would find her forehead even though they longed to press against her own pillowy pair. "It already belongs to you so… I guess what I'm asking isn't if you'll marry me; but not yet. What I'm asking is, will you give me a chance to show you that this ring is what our future was meant to be all along and a chance to show you just how sorry I am that I steered us off track for so long." The apology wouldn't stop there. "I'm sorry I didn't leave Molly's when I knew you needed me that night-"
She'd interrupt him to absolve him of his guilt over the last thing he'd mention. "It was your birthday, you were with your-" She hadn't meant to ignore the looming heaviness of the rest of his words but they were things she wasn't sure how to approach yet, if he was being honest. His words had stirred so many emotions in her, she wasn't sure what to do with them yet.
"I only wanted to spend it with you anyway…" He whispered and that confession would have her bringing her hand up to his chest again, her fingers splaying over his heart. "I'm so sorry Erin…" It was an action that would bring her just as much comfort as it did for him.
"I'm sorry." She whispered gently as well and he wasn't sure at first what she thought she had to apologize for. "I… can't…. not right now." She shook her head and before she could stop herself her own confessions of the weight of that day were coming down around her. "I got an offer…Jay. From the FBI." She brought her other hand to his chest as well and when his hands had moved to her hips she didn't withdrawal from his this time; in fact it seemed to center her. "I don't know how because I know I really fucked up this time; but Agent…Spencer. She came to my apartment; tells me that I appear to be a great candidate to go undercover with the FBI, in New York. Hank…." She sighed. "He set this up, I don't even know what's going on to be honest. I know he's panicking because of the board review but, I—" She would give in to her urge to let her forehead crash against his chest and his eyes were moving rapidly as he tried to process her words.
FBI undercover job? NEW YORK? Hank setting this up? It was all hitting him like a ton of bricks and he had to close his eyes and inhale the familiar scent of her hair; a scent he hadn't even realized he'd missed this much until it was calming him down. Why did Hank always seem to think that running from your problems, are burying them, were the only way to handle things? He'd always thought he knew what was best for Erin, but at one point would he trust her enough to make her own choices; without his heavy influence? That question would plague not only him tonight, whether he knew it or not.
He'd be torn from his thoughts when a look of understanding had become alit in her eyes. "When we—when you had that feeling when you did that undercover job at the girl's home, we tore that place apart and…" She knew she wasn't making sense. "Look I'm not police right now, but you are. I understand if this isn't a line you can cross but… We, I, need to go to Bunny's, something about the way she acted when I visited her at the FBI holding site, it seemed off. And, I was—" It pained her to admit the next part, but there was no use lying to the man who'd come here tonight to bare his soul to her. "I was prepared to make a deal for Bunny. She testifies, she cooperates, she walks, I go to NY and this stays off her record." As the words spilled from her lips she felt disappointed in herself because as she told them to him she felt just how ridiculous it must seem that after all Bunny had done she was willing to sacrifice everything for her; again. "I have to know the truth… I have to know that she didn't kill him. And I can't say in my heart that she didn't, not with absolute certainty."
She didn't need to say anything else; he was sliding his hand into hers and leading them out to his car to drive to Bunny's. He'd take an exacto knife from the kit in his car and gave them each a pair of gloves. Then, just as they had done months ago now at the girl's home where he'd felt everything was on the line for him; they'd worked in silence.
Room by room they combed through the shreds and pieces of her mother's life that had already been pawed through by both uniforms and plain clothes alike and had yielded no results. It was Jay who would locate the pair of glasses in the bathroom that would confirm what he'd known in his heart to be true all along. He'd find that blowback residue on her glasses that would make his heart sink for the woman he loved; unsure of what she'd do when she found out the truth he was now the only person other than her mother to be privy to right now.
"Er," His voice was breathy but still loud and it indicated to her he'd found something. She was in that bathroom next to him instantly and he didn't have to say anything to tell her everything, he just held the pair of wire rimmed frames in his black gloved hand and she saw for herself what he'd identified just moments ago.
She'd tried to tell herself she was prepared to find out Bunny was at fault here but she could never have imagined the absolute turmoil that would rise to her surface automatically. He'd set the glasses back down on the sink just in time to catch her in his arms as she dropped to her knees. "Babe," He'd call her the soothing name he had no right to use anymore but she'd still let him gather her in his arms. She'd cry harder than she'd allowed herself to in front of him before. And he knew that she knew this was what was going to come to light all along; but she needed to see for herself.
"Whatever you want to do with these glasses…" He'd trail off after a beat, no need to fill in the rest.
She wouldn't say anything at first, but since she made no attempt to move out of his arms, he'd been content to keep her there until she decided this moment was over. Her decision wouldn't come for a long time and his legs were feeling a little numb by the time she was drawing back. "I've made up my mind." Was all she said and he was on his feet before she could finish struggling to pull herself up and his hands would do the work for her. His eyes searched hers expectantly and she leaned past him to grab an evidence bag from where he'd tucked a hand full of them into his back jean pocket. She dropped the glasses into the bag and then dipped her hand into his other pocket to grab his keys. She wouldn't bother with the formality of asking him a question she knew the answer to; of course she could drive. She could do whatever she needed to right now.
He didn't bother to ask where they were going because he knew he'd find out eventually and he'd meant it when he said he'd support whatever she did with this. This was her family; her mother. He knew that even as terrible as Bunny could be, she was still some of the only limited family she had left. He studied her as she drove in quiet contemplation, perplexing thoughts wrought into her forehead. Were they headed to open the bag and toss these glasses off Navy Pier; effectively wiping Bunny's slate clean? Or would they be turning these glasses in? He hoped that whatever her plan was, it wouldn't involve Hank because he knew as well as her that his first and only answer to the question of 'What should I do with these glasses' would be to get rid of them and take the deal. As far as Jay was concerned, that wasn't an option. He hoped Erin was on the same page.
His question of where they were going would be answered when they were parked next to her car in front of the apartment where they'd left it and then she was turning to him tentatively to fill him in on the plan she'd crafted silently as they'd driven over here. He'd listen intently to her idea, hanging on her every word. He'd nod in silent understanding and for the first time in far too long neither of them would keep themselves from pressing the most chaste of kisses to the other's lips; the smallest bit of comfort and promise she needed to make sure she could keep herself together.
Jay would be remiss to have her leave his side but as she'd so clearly explained to him in the outline of her plan; he couldn't do this with her. They'd violated the red tape on this one and not just in the figurative sense. Bunny's house had been an active crime scene and they'd used that exacto knife to break the seal and go in. He was still and officer of the law when they'd done it and if she had any hopes of getting her star back, she couldn't have it on her head that she'd made her cop boyfriend take her to a crime scene so she could get piece of mind and resolution with her mother. That story wasn't going to fly. The one she'd masterfully crafted on the drive from her mother's place to her own was all but iron clad. But there were a lot of working parts to it that would need to come together. Jay's part was just phase one; after that, she was on her own. He wanted to do more but knew he'd have to settle for at least doing this small fragment, so he'd park his car in front of the district and jam his hands into his pockets as he traced up the steps and into his home away from home. Or; as it had technically been in the past few weeks since he'd left their place; his only real home.
"Platt," He'd greet, happy that she was in fact still working the desk.
"Listen Chuckles, I've got a lot going on so if you-"
"It's for Erin." That was all he'd need to say to capture her full attention and she'd drop her head a little lower so they could have a more private exchange. "I need Lugo's cell number, no questions. And we never had this conversation." He said, his eyes wide with what he hoped would communicate the seriousness of all of that.
Platt gave him a lingering stare before she was disappearing past her desk and then out of sight. She'd emerge moments later with a sticky note and give him a slight nod. "Thanks," He'd breathe out, happy that this plan of hers was off to a smooth start, at the very least.
As she'd requested, he texted her the number and then he'd recalled the part of the plan that had made his heart swell with the knowledge that maybe his message to her about wanting to give her his mother's ring someday soon had resonated with her. His memory of that part of the exchange was vivid:
"After you text me the number, can you…." She'd hesitated slightly before continuing, "Can you go back and wait at our place for me to get back? I don't want to be alone tonight."
"Of course," he'd whispered in return. Her poignant use of the phrasing 'our place' hadn't been lost on either of them.
Our place. Those words couldn't help but put a smile on his face for a few moments as he almost forgot about all the other tumultuous events surrounding this night. It would draw him back to reality and he'd be obsessively checking his phone as he sat on their couch with his feet up, drinking a beer to calm his nerves.
Whilst Jay had headed to the district, she'd reached out to Spencer and asked to meet with her at the FBI black site where they were holding Bunny. Her heart was slamming into her chest as she considered those glasses that were sitting in her center console now; the most important thing in that car as far as she was concerned.
She'd speak privately with Agent Spencer first. "We need to talk, I told you I needed time to think and I didn't give myself enough before, I was being irrational and thinking emotionally. The truth is, I have a lot here in Chicago that I'm just not ready to give up and I can't just do that over night… or at all, to be honest. The review board hasn't made their final decision, maybe when they do I'll change my mind and if it's too late then, I get it. But, I'm going to take my chances with the board and if it all falls to shit then," She drew in a sharp breath. "Well, I haven't thought that far but I will figure it out. I appreciate the consideration and I apologize for wasting your time." She extended her hand to the other woman and hoped she wouldn't feel her pulse in that handshake since she new her blood pressure had skyrocketed with each word she'd spoken.
Agent Spencer eyed her hand suspiciously, "There are things here in Chicago more important than the most promising offer you may receive in your career, especially after all the trouble you've been getting into…?" Spencer wouldn't get a chance to finish because as soon as she'd trailed off, Erin would pounce on the opportunity to speak.
"Yes, he is." Was all she'd say simply and she hadn't meant to phrase it with the word he, she'd meant to go with something more neutral, but she'd swallow her pride on this one and stand there with conviction. There was nothing wrong with choosing the man she loved over a career move that could find her dead rather easily or falling into bad habits with the drugs she'd undoubtedly encounter on the less then savory cases she'd be expected to work.
She'd express her consternation over this to an acceptable agree in Spencer's book and then phase two was complete. The third stage of this plan would be the most difficult.
Erin asked if she could go speak to her mother before she left and she hadn't even had to ask them to turn off the camera because Spencer had done it for her in a concession of privacy that would make Erin's life and execution of this plan much easier.
She'd been on an adrenaline high from things going so well with Spencer that she hadn't expected it to immediately crash to a screeching halt the moment she laid her eyes on her mother. "Hey," She'd greet her mother with a crack in her voice. "I uh," She reached her hand up to scratch the back of her neck. "I just wanted to see you one last time…" That was all she said and then she moved to lean loomingly down over her mother as she stood on her side of the table. She stared at her mother until she finally looked up to meet her eyes and she communicated everything to her with that look. "Is there anything else you need to tell me before I go?" She asked softly and she was throwing her that one final chance to come clean, to be honest like Erin had begged of her for all these years. Her expressive eyes would communicate all of that perfectly.
But Bunny would disappoint her yet again and shift her eyes away from her daughter's to avoid really dealing with this. "No, Erin; I've already told you everything." She'd said, her shoulders shrugging defensively.
Erin refused to let herself cry here, and especially in front of Bunny so she'd just nod and there was some deep finality in the way she spoke this next line; "Goodbye, Bunny." Somehow she knew that this time, goodbye would be for good.
The fourth and final phase was the most important and she tapped the screen of her phone to bring it to life before using her finger print to unlock it and tap on the number Jay had sent her earlier after he'd acquired it from Trudy. "Chief—this is Erin Lindsay, we need to speak; it's urgent."
He'd tell her the address to meet him and she'd recognize it as a park near a nice school where she imagined his kids probably attended, wearing plaid skirts and sweater vests. She shook these thoughts from her mind to focus on the task at hand. "This evening I went to visit my mom, not as a cop, as her daughter. I noticed something strange" She reached into the car's console and a tshirt that she'd wrapped the glasses in after getting rid of the evidence bag that had previous contained them. Jay had agreed that it seemed far to professional for the rushed way in which she was pretending they'd acquired them. She'd purpose put her fingers on them when she'd taken them out to wrap in that t-shirt, needing this to play as realistic as possible. "I saw the blowback residue on the lens and I just knew I had to get them because they were the missing piece in this case. I had a fraction of a window to get them off the table and I didn't have time to worry about fingerprints so…." Her speech was rushed with the practiced urgency she'd rehearsed in the car on the way over; but the flip flop of her stomach and general anxiety had made it closer to real than she'd be willing to admit. "I wasn't sure where to take them, but here I am. And; I wanted to you to know that this is how serious I am about being police, Chief Lugo. I take things to the extreme, that's not something I can't own up to. But I will do it every time to get the guy who needs to get got; no matter what…" She'd been looking confidently at him as she spoke but her voice would break at the end there and it would cause her eyes to tear away. She had just handed him evidence that would put a murder charge on her own mother; if that didn't show her dedication and commitment to the force; what would? She'd nod thoughtfully at him to indicate she was done speaking and she hoped he at least something to say in response. She extended him the final piece of her perfect plan; an official statement she'd scribbled neatly to take care of the procedural aspects she knew would be necessary in order for this evidence to be considered seriously.
"A lesser detective may have gotten rid of these." Was the first thing he'd say, as he studied her thoughtfully. "You acted bravely as a civilian tonight, and you put this needs of this city above your own and that of your family. That's not an easy thing to do; but it is an admirable one. The board meets tomorrow morning to make our final decision about the permanency of your striping. I'll put in a good word." It was the best he could do but she hadn't done this to curry favor with the board or because she was the most loyal cop in Chicago. She'd done it because Bunny was guilty of killing someone in cold blood and the woman had shown such little remorse for this fact that it had shaken her to her core. Of all the amounting things she'd done to cement her status as a shitty mother; this had taken the cake.
She and the chief would exchange cordial goodbyes and she'd find herself robotically putting herself back into her car and driving on autopilot back to her place. She'd forgotten the stage of the plan where she'd asked him to be waiting for her there so she was both shocked and comforted when her key unlocked the door to find him standing right there waiting to pull her into his arms.
The time he spent here waiting for her in their eerily quiet living quarters had him in a tail spin of his own until he'd heard her unlocking that door. The urgency of his words wasn't lost even as he whispered them into her neck. "You can't go to New York…." He whispered. But it wasn't a demand, more a desperate plea. He emphasized this by adding one more word to his request; "Please."
"I'm not." She'd whispered back automatically, as if that was something so far away in her mind that it hadn't even been a serious consideration.
"I'm not ready to leave my home yet…" She'd add just as quietly and when their lips finally met in the first unchaste; passionate kiss in far too long; they both knew that when she said home she didn't mean Chicago, or even this apartment. She just meant him.
The sleep they'd fall into in their oversized bed would be the first peaceful one either of them had in weeks and when she woke up, she felt a finality to many of the situations that had recently been throwing her life into complete turmoil. Lugo had the evidence that would put Bunny behind bars, she and Jay didn't have to communicate with each other to know that now that they'd slept in this bed together at last, neither of them could let her sleep in it alone again. The only question she had left hanging in the balance would be answered with an early morning phone call from Hank.
Her phone would vibrate on the nightstand at just after 6 AM. It was Hank and she'd almost just not answered because she was expecting his gruff voice to be scolding her for not already being in New York by now but instead, he'd surprise her with a statement that she wasn't sure she was ever going to hear again. "The official decision will be handed down by the Ivory Tower but, I wanted to be the firs to tell you. You've been reinstated."
It would take several minutes of his convincing and assurance before she'd been able to believe it but then she was thanking him profusely and he was saying he didn't know what she could've done to get herself out of this one and she knew exactly what it was but for some reason, she decided to keep it to herself.
When she hung up she found she hadn't been quiet enough in her conversation for Jay to stay asleep and he was pulling her in for a lazy kiss he was more than happy to help himself to when she spoke. "I'm reinstated, effective immediately." She said, her eyes alit with excitement and relief. And they'd share one long look before that lazy kiss had been upgraded to a passionate one and they were removing clothes and pushing down the walls they'd built up these past few weeks that they'd been apart and giving in to their ardent desires to consume one another completely.
After they'd tangled themselves together for over an hour, she found his fingers tracing lines up her forearms as he studied her beautiful face. "Bunny being gone, me getting my job back, us…" She didn't know how to complete the part about them so she just left it at that one simple word that seemed to say a lot to both of them.
"It's for good this time…" That's all she'd be able to whisper before his lips were finding her own again and they would spend the rest of the night making up for lost time.