A/N: This is set the night of Judith's death. It features Joan/Grace, references to Joan/Adam. It's short, I know, but I had to write it.
Tap tap tap.
Before I even looked up I knew who it was. Who else used the window?
'Grace, I'm not in the mood right now.'
'Girardi, let me in.' She pressed her nose against the pane.
'I'm not going anywhere, okay? Just get it over with.'
All I wanted was to be alone. Pretend it hadn't happened. Why wouldn't anyone let me do that? Oh, I knew why. They all thought I was gonna go crazy again.
Grace waited patiently while I unlocked the window, she didn't even move when I opened it. 'Hey.'
'Hey,' I replied backing off back to the bed.
'Can I come in?'
I shrugged. She took it as an affirmative, climbing deftly through then hovering again. It was making me nervous. 'What do you want?'
'You have to ask?'
'I don't wanna talk, Grace, okay? I've had enough of talking, alright?'
After a minute of silence I looked at her, still standing. 'What?'
'You talked to Rove?'
'I saw him two hours ago, remember?'
'Yeah, and you tried to beat him up,' she answered.
'He left me! Judith was dying and he left me there. How could he do that?' For the fifteenth time I felt my eyes tearing up. 'How?'
'You know Rove.'
I snorted. 'Is that it? Is that all the defence you got?'
'Okay, you wanna hate someone right now, I get that. But not Rove, okay?'
I shook my head, sending fresh tears over my room. 'Is that it?'
She finally sat down, albeit tentatively, on the edge of the bed. 'Hate me.'
Her eyes gazed at her twisting fingers. 'Girardi, I deserve it.'
'Stop it, Grace.'
'No, listen. I hated her. I hated her.'
My voice caught as I shuddered. 'Stop it.'
'No. The way she looked, talked, I hated everything. I'm glad she's...' Her words shrank as she looked up. 'I hated her.'
'Believe it, Girardi.'
'No! Stop saying it!'
I felt myself losing control. 'Grace, no.'
She grabbed my hand, preventing me wiping all those stray tears away. 'Hate me for it. Go on!'
Jerking back my wrist, I did. Fist after fist I landed in her ribs just like I had with Adam earlier. This time I meant it. She buckled, falling onto the floor. I wasn't about to stop there.
Landing on her legs I sent more anger her way, her eyes bulged but she didn't say a word.
Her hair was knotted. I'd grabbed it. Thrown her against the floor. I noticed that when I finally fell against her after twenty minutes of doing what she'd asked. Hating her. 'Grace?'
'Come on.' She showed surprising strength, lifting me up off her, rolling me onto the bed. 'Okay?'
'Don't leave me,' I murmured. 'Please.'
As she sat she winced. 'Some right hook you've got there.'
'Why did you make me do that?'
She shrugged. 'Better me than Rove.'
'Don't say that. I can't lose you as well.'
Instead of turning away, running away like she'd usually do, Grace Polk reached out, brushing some hair out of my eyes. 'You won't.'
'This sucks, you know?' I remembered what she'd said when I'd first got home. 'Everyone thinks I'm gonna go crazy again.'
I smiled waterily. 'You didn't hate her, did you? Really?'
'No. Not really.'
Guilt swirled around me when I looked her over. 'Oh...'
'Hey, hey. Stop it, okay? I don't mind.'
'Joan!' I quietened. She hardly ever used my first name. 'I can handle it, okay?'
For a few minutes we sat on the bed silently. The window was open, crisp air swept through. It felt kind of good. All I wanted to do was get lost in that feeling, the one where everything was fine and this was just some normal night where Grace was twirling my hair around her index finger.
She never did that. 'Grace?'
'What are you doing?'
'No...' I grasped her hand as she made to move it away. Looking up into her eyes I saw something I couldn't recognise. Slowly, with my heart speeding up, I leaned forward, drawing her closer to me just until our lips brushed. 'Grace...'
Maybe she was scared. Her eyes were wide, I thought she'd frozen until she swallowed. 'I'm sorry about Judith.'
That sent me into fresh tear territory. Grace just held me tight against her jacket. Against her ribs.
It was almost one in the morning when Helen finally decided to do the one thing she'd been desperate to do for hours.
Will had fallen into an uneasy slumber beside her but she was wide awake. Every minute that passed she had another emotion sweep through her. Anger. Pain. Disbelief. Regret. Anger. She'd reasoned that, whatever she was going through, it was nothing compared to what her little girl was having to deal with.
So, after another inner debate, she put on her dressing gown and made her way to Joan's room.
It was silent. Suddenly terrified, she opened the door glad to at least find a light on.
Joan was on the bed asleep but she wasn't alone. Grace Polk looked up from slowly rocking her friend back and forth, meeting eyes with Helen. Slowly, she raised a finger to her lips.
Slipping back into her own bed a minute later Helen finally felt able to sleep. Finally.