On the Rocks


Disclaimer: Not mine, just having fun. Definitely don't have any money.

Notes: Missing Scenes for Dosed and Iced and a frigging ending, which we were robbed of, I might add. More story, more angst, and more closure. Many thanks to Wolfpup and D, my lovely betareaders. If I missed any of their corrections, 'tis my mistakes that remain.
He tried not to be hurt. He really did, but all his effort was wasted. He was hurt. Okay, so things hadn't gone smoothly for the last couple of weeks, and they were getting on each other's nerves. Van had figured it was just the stress of the job though. He had honestly believed that once the bust went down he and Deaq could chill out, apologize for all the sniping they had done at one another and go on with their lives, their partnership, and their friendship. Deaq had other ideas apparently. "Van- cation," he'd said. Van sighed. He really missed Dre. Dre had never needed a "van-cation."

So, now he was supposed to relax. How could he when he felt so churned up inside? Hurt, loneliness, and the inevitable guilt that always came with the thought of Dre bubbled up from his gut to lodge in his throat. Maybe this was his penance for letting Dre die that day. To never have another friend like him. To be alone when he most needed someone to talk to. To have those he thought he could depend on tell him to go away, we're on "van- cation." It was his own fault. He'd gotten Dre killed, and then expected his brother to take his place. But Deaq was not Dre. He'd been forcibly reminded of that.

To make matters worse, they'd teased him, saying he couldn't relax if he tried. They thought it was funny that he was uncomfortable with the off time. It wasn't the off time, per se; it was the being alone. The moment Deaq made it clear that he wanted nothing to do with Van for the entire weekend, he'd felt strangled and lost. Didn't they understand? They were all he had. He didn't have other friends. He didn't have a real family. All he'd ever had since becoming a cop was being a cop. All his old friends pitched for the other team, and his family, never close to begin with, had drifted away, many for the same reasons his friends had. His father was the prime example of that. His mother, well, she was too interested in herself and her new life after Ray Ray to be there for him. Once the apple of both their eyes, he was now an unfavored child. Dre had understood that. He'd spent many an off day at Dre's or with Dre's family. They had made him feel welcome, like he was a part of something good after all.

But after that last fiasco when he'd led the bad guys right to Deaq's, and Dre's, family, he'd only been back once for dinner. He'd had a good time, but with Deaq's remark about getting anyone else in his family killed still hanging over his head, it hadn't been the same. He'd been invited back, but the feeling of inclusion was gone, and he didn't think he'd ever get it back.

He was brought out of his self-pitying trance by the sound of the big doors to the Candy Store closing. Deaq had already gone, making a hasty exit before Van could even get his feet to move. It was Billie leaving. He sat up straight in the seat of the old GTO and reached for the ignition.

"Aren't you gone yet? Honestly, Van, go, find something to do!"

"I'm going. See you later." He cranked the car and dropped it into gear. He didn't wait to see if she would reply. He pulled out, only glancing back once to see her get into her car. It was going to be a long, lonely 48 hours. "Geez, Van, what's 48 hours in the grand scheme of things? You can do this. Then you'll work all this out with Deaq and get back to normal."

His little pep talk lasted him until he got to his hotel and inside his room. Funny, how stark and cold a luxury hotel room could feel. Should be the lap of luxury, a worry-free, relaxed existence. There was that word again. Relax. Yeah, right. The walls were closing in. What the hell was he doing living in a hotel anyway? Of course, it was the ultimate transient lifestyle for the guy no one wanted around for long. But he'd had an apartment once. He'd had a real place to live. Until Billie and the Candy Store had come along. Now everything that defined him was in a storage locker near Venice Beach, not far from the small, but comfortable, place he used to inhabit. So what if it was above Madame Sylvia's Tarot Readings and next door to a place that proudly proclaimed it had once been a brothel. Of course, for all he cared or knew, it might still be a brothel. Venice was fun, and the apartment was him, a little shabby, yet charming. And here he was now, in this large and comfortable place, where the new would not wear off, with all the charm of a doctor's office. It spoke of no one, least of all him. Jesus, they were right. He had no life. He only had the job.

Their words and laughter taunted him, and he started talking to himself just to drown them out. If anyone had asked him later how he'd ended up in his underwear in front of a mirror attempting to talk down an imaginary perp, he wouldn't have had an answer. In fact, he hoped no one would ever find out. If they ever did, he'd never live it down. But even there in that weird moment, their words slipped into his consciousness, and he found himself talking to Deaq, arguing with him. But it wasn't really Deaq he was arguing with, was it? He looked at his own face in the mirror. It was himself. Had been all along. There was no perp; there was only a cop unable to put his gun down and live a life outside of the safety his job and gun gave him. As a cop, he was part of something good. With a gun, he couldn't be hurt. Or could he? After all, he was hurting now.

He decided to go to the pool. He put the gun down. But had he really won the argument? Truthfully, he didn't know.
Deaq had once lamented the fact that he might never have the chance to play golf with his dad again. However, that was exactly what he'd spent his first day off doing. It had been great. That was, until his dad had started in on him about Van. He had really wanted to go the whole 48 hours of his reprieve from his annoying partner without even having to hear his name, much less get scolded by his own father because of him. How could he make his dad understand how frustrating working with a bouncing, jabbering, throwback to the strange 70's/surf bum could be? Van Ray was never still and never quiet and just plain strange sometimes. Now, Van Strummer he could deal with. Most of the time. When Van was in the game, he could be still and quiet, although he was still strange. And speaking of strange, he was talking about the man as if he were two different people. But that's the way it seemed sometimes.

At any rate, their last bust, and his partner in the process, had just worked Deaq's last nerve. It had been a tense one, hard to predict and long. After too little sleep, and too much stress, some of it caused by Van, Deaq had simply had enough. He needed a break, and he refused to feel bad about that. Damn it, he refused to feel guilty! Okay, so once his dad was through, he did feel guilty, but a few beers and Rosalind would take care of that.

In the meantime, though, his father's words haunted him. The lecture had included the importance of supporting one's partner, the meaning of being a partner, and the brotherhood of the force in general. That was uncomfortable enough, but when he'd started on how close Van was to Dre, and how Dre would want Deaq to take care of his partner, and how Van had seemed a little distant at that last dinner, and how Dre had said that Van didn't have anyone to turn to, well, Deaq had just wanted to crawl under the damn 17th green. Then the topper, the one that sealed Deaq's guilty doom was, "You know, son, it was Van who set things into motion to bring our family back together. He did that for you as much as he did it for Dre. That boy cares for you, just like he cared for Dre."

For several minutes, Deaq felt lower than dirt. He was pond scum, maybe. Was that lower than dirt? Then he shook it off. He'd fix things with Van after the weekend. He'd have his time away, and then he could make his apologies and mean them. Maybe then he would spring for an apology dinner. That would do it.

Right now, though, he had to get home and get ready for Rosalind. He wondered if Van would be going out on a date. Did he even know any normal, non-criminal type girls to go out with? Damn, the boy had no life. And, damn, he had to stop thinking about Van now! He had a life, and this was his time to live it.

Maybe he shouldn't have teased Van about having no life and not being able to relax. That had not been kind. Just because he'd been strung out and tired did not mean he should have been nasty. The "van-cation" thing was really over the top. Had he seen a little flash of hurt in Van's eyes when he'd said that? Van, the hypersensitive almost flower child? Of course he'd been hurt. What had he been thinking when he'd said that?

And what was he thinking now!? "Geez, Deaqon, let it go. Can't fix it right now. I'll beg forgiveness later. And he'll give it to me, damn him, without blinking, which will make me feel worse, because I don't know if I'd forgive me if I were him. And you're still not letting it go!" He stopped talking out loud to himself and turned up the radio as he pulled out of the club. He waved once more to his father who had stopped to talk to friends on the patio of the club's restaurant, The 19th Hole, then sped off to a shower and a pretty girl.
Van glanced over at Hillary in the passenger seat of the car. He'd left the GTO in the hotel garage, opting for the little Porshe that Billie had signed out to him the week before and that he had yet to return. Hillary looked beautiful. Of course, she always did, and it by no means was a reflection of her wanting to impress him. After all, their little date was not really a date. It figured that the first time in ages that a nice girl had wanted anything to do with him was because she thought he wasn't a nice guy and could do some dirty work for her. Not that he minded getting rid of a dirtbag for her. It was something constructive to do, something he could do, and was pretty close to being on the job really. It had felt good to put the guy down and outline for him the facts of life. Well, not the real facts, but Mr. Dirtbag didn't need to know that. He was gone, she was safe from his advances, and that made Van feel better about himself for a little while.

However, dancing with her back at the club and looking at her now was just painful. She looked back at him with something a little too much like pity to be comfortable for him as she'd shot him down. He swallowed the ache and assured her that he understood. He really did, given the picture she had of him in her mind, a picture he could not risk altering. So this was the end, even before a beginning. She left him wondering if he'd ever be able to find something real with anyone when so much of his life was fiction. He hadn't thought his night could get much worse. Until the phone had rung.