Since Tess' departure is looming (for those watching the classic eps) I thought I might as well write down my version of "the perfect" ending between TJ. It is a little different and I so warn that it may be a little overwhelming and of course incredibly sad but in itself a lovely bittersweet story so if you're willing by all means read away!
Umm with the italics, I better explain that before I get everyone confused. They are flashbacks, sorta like what I did before although they contribute directly to storyline. So it's Tess telling the story through her reflection on the past. Lost? Don't worry you'll get it as you read along!
Disclaimer: None of the characters you recognise to be connected with Blue Heelers are my creation but there are some that are. If I could be bothered I would list them but you'll know who they are. My thanks to Chihuly, not that he'll ever read this.
Silent Thief, Stealthy Crime
"He sweeps the terrible night, clothed by night's black darkness.
He takes not what is his but is his to steal to cull his frightful thirst."
"Tess Gallagher?" I looked up and saw the thin and wiry woman with her olive green cardigan hanging down past her waist and the dark green buttons adorning the side shined brightly in contrast to her burnt orange wispy hair. She was aged but that was okay, that meant she was experienced.
She beckoned me into the room just behind her and closed the door after me.
Her room smelt of beiged old books and polished leather and it made me scrunch my nose. The old woollen burgundy carpet was well worn from nervous carpet shredding feet but it still managed to give the room a vehement professional glow.
Black leather buttoned couches sat adjacent to each other in the most solemn of ways and if it weren't for them this room would be almost picturesque. Like a 19th century study, thick lacquered antique furniture plastered the walls, thick, dusty, red leather bound books adorned the shelves along with various abstract mini sculptures and joyous family photos.
The gallant oak desk littered with patients files stood aimlessly by the window and light amber light flooded through thick crimson curtains and danced along yesterday's paper making the strangest of shadows.
"Please sit down." The woman asked kindly scooting past me to her desk to grab a file and her thick framed burgundy glasses and I sat down. The leather coach was too big to lean my arms against so I placed them in my lap. As the clock ticked silently, my heart grew heavy, my throat ached and my stomach filled with the heaviness of lead. I stared at the floor, trying to forget the present moment, why I was here and why I shouldn't be but my thoughts were interrupted by the soft sigh of the pleasant woman's voice.
"Well Tess Gallagher, how do you feel today?" Her voice as soft and meek as a little fledgling's, I was obliged to answer.
"Oh not too bad..." I lied, if the dark rings under my eyes didn't give it away then my tired, wasted away body must have. The lady only smiled in acknowledgement and neatly closed her folder in her lap, placing in down on the floor next to her feet.
"You look a little tired." she said empathetically rubbing the tips of her knees with her palms.
"I haven't been able to get much sleep," I muttered to myself softly but the lady overheard and smiled gently again.
"I don't get much sleep either but I suppose you'd need some for your line of work?"
"Sleep's more than imperative." I said looking down at her feet, her starched green velvet shoes sat neatly on the carpet.
"Professor, where would you like me to begin?" I asked hastily, I didn't want to sit here long.
"Oh please, call me Lucy. The only person that calls me professor is my son and he only does it to annoy me." I smiled to myself, a kind name Lucy is, it means light.
"Tess, maybe you could tell me a little about yourself, what you do for a living, your interests?" A vague question, okay, it was better than what I was here to talk about.
"I'm a Sergeant, in the Police force, stationed in Mt. Thomas just south of Widgeree. I look after a great bunch of constables there along with a very dignified Senior Sergeant..."
"Tom Croydon?" Lucy asked and I nodded in response.
"A very pleasant man." said Lucy and let me continue.
"I don't have a family but I like being alone for the most part, I don't seem to mind my own company." I said softly, hinting that that wasn't true at all. I'd longed for someone to come home to but Lucy need not know that.
"Married at all?" Lucy asked watching my right hand cover my left in attempt to hide the ring that was no longer there.
"Once," I mentioned, "You wouldn't really call it a marriage, I had it annulled."
"I see..." Lucy looked carefully down to her hands a soft blaze of embarrassment washed over her before she looked up again.
"I guess that would be all?" I asked her hinting that I'd rather not say anything else. I couldn't spill my guts to anybody like Lucy, not even if it had the slightest of effect.
"If you like Tess but just one more question..." I looked up with the slightest of curiosity.
"You wouldn't mind telling me a little about your colleagues?" I closed my eyes and sighed, there was no way of getting around Lucy; she knew more than I thought she did and her quite and pleasant demeanour almost ate away at me.
"You want to know about Evan..." I whispered, swallowing hard and letting myself breathe out very slowly, just to stop the tears.
"If you'd be so kind…" Lucy smiled and tilted her head gently to one side, indicative of her occupation.
"Well, there isn't much to say really..." I stalled for time, having no idea where to begin nor wanting to begin either. I didn't need to be here, I seemed to manage quite fine at home but PJ made sure that I came. "Talk to Lucy" he said, "She'll help". I was still undecided as to whether she would.
"Your GP says that you seem to dream about him, he must occupy a lot of your thought." she said rather decisively and there was nothing I could do but agree. I nodded and looked down and my hands, I'd unconsciously started wringing them, so much so the nails digging into my hands nearly drew blood.
"Tess..." Lucy said softly moving to sit on the couch next to me and she gently touched my arm. I looked up at her and drew breath in sharply letting out a miserable sigh. My frustrated hands clasped over my face and my eyes squeezed as tightly as I could I let myself calm down, my breathing slowed before I next opened my eyes.
"Tell me what happened on Tuesday Tess." Lucy asked softly placing her hand on my shoulder gently. I didn't want to talk about what happened on Tuesday, as far as I'm concerned Tuesday never happened, I was to forget it, shove it aside and get on with my life, like I always did.
I shook my head firmly and grit my teeth while I swallowed hard again, averting any sort of pain away from my throat.
"I don't want to talk about Tuesday." I said sternly, my temper almost flaring, boiling away inside me like a near explosive volcano.
"Okay," said Lucy, the little sigh she emitted told me that she was disappointed but her voice still rang with sympathy.
"How about Evan, why don't we talk about Evan?" she suggested gently, hand still on shoulder.
"No!" I yelled; the anger in my voice fierce and unwarranted, it made Lucy flinch a little and the sad look in her eyes grew.
"I'm sorry..." I whispered and rub my forehead bitterly with my palm.
"Tess, there's no need to be sorry, I understand that you're frustrated..." Lucy tried to comfort me and I shied away within myself, became distant and withdrawn.
A lone tear fell down my cheek, the only hint of my vexed emotions.
"Evan..." I spluttered under choked back tears.
"What was he like Tess?" Lucy asked, grabbing any opportunity to let me talk about my feelings and somehow I was too frustrated to stop her.
"Oh, he drove me nuts!" I said angrily. Hiding my eyes away beneath my hand, wiping away at any oncoming tear.
"You were his superior?" asked Lucy and I nodded.
"The stupid idiot would never listen! Too bloody persistent for his own good! Oh I hated him for it!" my voice filled with bitter anger.
"Ahh, he's sounds just like my son Jamie. He never listens when I tell him anything important, nearly got his leg sliced off once even when I told him a million times to "stay away from those horrid train tracks"." Lucy reminisced.
"Men, eh?" I whispered; my eyes puffy from unwanted tears.
"Constantly thinking their immortal? I know what you mean!" Lucy laughed a rather dismal laugh and looked at me assiduously.
"Immortal!" I scoffed at that stupid word. "Evan was such a moronic cowboy!"
"He didn't listen to you on Tuesday did he?" asked a rather curious Lucy.
"I told him to go the doctor's but he just shrugged it off, said he was 'fine'..."
"Evan, could you and Jo head off to the McKinley's, there's been a report of shooting, probably just some kids shooting at cans but it wouldn't hurt to check it out." I asked Jonesy who should have been sitting to the left of me completely absorbed in writing up those reports I gave him but from the corner of my eye I could see he wasn't. Too concerned with the ever increasing mound of paperwork in front of me I didn't give him a second look but as he staggered in from the toilets looking rather pale I diverted my attention to him immediately.
"Hey, you okay there?" I asked rather concerned, Evan shut his eyes rather briskly and breathed in sharply, clutching his stomach and wincing in pain. Seeing that he was hardly "okay", I got up from my desk and helped him to his chair.
"Here, sit down for a while, you look rather sick..." I rubbed his shoulder gently and Evan arms lunged around his stomach again quite violently clutching at it. He leant his head against his desk and sighed deeply, his hair glistened from pouring sweat.
"Evan, what's wrong?" I asked quite concerned as I helped him sit up and brushed his severely wet forehead with my towel.
"I don't feel..." his sentence was cut off as he clutched his stomach again and getting up rather forcefully and pushing his way past me he ran for the kitchenette, his hand clasped over his mouth in desperate worry. I rushed after him stopping just before PJ's office door when I saw that Evan stood over the sink and the contents of his brought up lunch lay in the bottom it. A sticky, disgusting, mess and rather a nice bleached yellow.
He let the tap run and the yellow mess dissolved away down the sink and the thick smell of vomit faded away.
"I'm sorry; I just didn't want to get it all over the floor." muttered Evan, wiping his mouth with wet hands and apologising quite profusely for something that seemed inevitable.
"Oh no, don't worry. You just sit down went you feel ready and I'll get you a glass of water then I'll drive you home." I said quite sympathetically, rubbing his back gently with my palm before I went for a mug to poor some water in.
"Oh, there's no need..." Evan was talking about me taking him home.
"...I'll be fine." he muttered half heartedly his breath reeked of garlic and it threw me off a little but the look on his face was sincere and genuine. I looked up into his washy blue eyes; they'd fade to a dismal grey. I couldn't help but feel an overwhelming tinge of concern.
"Bit heavy on the garlic hey?" I remarked almost holding my nose but it didn't make him smile like I thought it would. I loved it when he smiled, it was strangely contagious and it filled me the most glorious warmth.
"No, I can't stand the stuff!" Evan looked puzzled and soon after closed his eyes and with much effort tried to sustain an oncoming headache, one of the many he'd seem to have recently.
"Really, Tess...I'll sit out this shift." he said weakly and I was surprised he convinced himself.
"You still have those headaches?" I asked. I felt a slight tightness in my chest. Evan barely nodded. "You need to see a doctor, come on I'll give you a lift to the hospital, I'm sure the Boss won't mind..."
"In that case just take me home." he said simply and all effort to convince him otherwise was useless.
"Headaches?" asked Lucy with eager curiosity, her hand came up to her chin and she pondered Evan's symptoms. A moment of silence passed and she looked me cautiously in the eyes. She knew what it was! How I could I have been so bloody stupid? She figured it out in two seconds!
I took the moment to look at her properly; her deep sea green eyes in intense wonderment gave contrast to her starkly pale face. The faded rouge on her cheek gave away that she was hardly the vibrant women she seemed, instead a lady that was meek and plain. A professional women of high standard she wore minimal makeup and somehow it made her appear that little bit more graceful but her blanched vermilion lips would have done with some colour, against her strongly dyed orange hair, neatly brushed into a comfortable bun, her lips looked rather pale and scared.
"He'd had them for quite a while." I finally answered, once her astonished expression turned into a grave one.
"I see, and you had no idea?" she asked politely but I knew exactly what went through her head. 'She should have driven him to the hospital; she should have driven him to the hospital'. If those words didn't float discommodiously through her mind then they did through mine. Nasty, vilifying words they were, they wrapped themselves around my throat and made it hard to breathe. But Lucy was right, I should have known. I should have been more careful.
"I didn't think it was that bad, I only thought they were just headaches, he seemed fine..."
"Sarge?" Evan's voiced bellowed from the kitchenette and being distracted by Mrs. Callaway at the front counter I had no time to answer but hearing his quite desperate plea I let Jo handle the sniping old Mrs. Callaway and headed to tend to Evan's plea.
"Yeah?" I asked peering around behind him, he'd managed to rifle through the cupboard above the sink and take everything out of it and carefully laid it out on display on the bench below.
"Do we have anymore Panadol left?" he asked quite bemused but the pain of his throbbing headache made him wince.
"Have you checked the First Aid box?" I asked, well it was the logical place to search.
"Yeah, none there..." he pouted and rubbed his forehead, giving me the biggest soppy look of being in horrific pain. I couldn't help but smile and in a mock concerned voice I stepped towards him.
"Oh let's see that head of yours..." I cooed and Evan let me place a cold hand on his forehead. "Well you're not warm." I said indicating that he didn't have a fever and that he would be able to work through the rest of his shift but his sad puppy dog eyes gazed at me unforgivingly.
"Oh but it really hurts Tess..." he mumbled softly and sighed gently. I smiled and stroked his cheek with my palm before I stood up on my toes and kissed his forehead softly.
"There, better?" I asked gently and smiled shyly; Evan looked down at me, smiled a little but then resumed his awkward pout and sighed.
"A little..." he leaned in a little closer.
"I'll know what'll help..." I whispered, looking into his eyes suggestively, watching his eyes glow like hot steel. My finger circled round the top button of his shirt, before I checked the watch on my wrist.
"You can have the rest of the shift off!" I smiled cheekily and much to Evan's disappointment I leaned over to flick the kettle on.
"Hey?" he asked a little bemused, feeling another headache come on his rubbed his head again.
"Well there's only about 20 minutes left, so you..." I pulled out the shiny biscuit tin that was the station's bickie kitty, heaved off the lid with much effort and handed Evan a twenty dollar note. "...can head off home, to get some much needed rest and buy us some Panadol on the way. Make sure you bring it in tomorrow." I finished with a smile and closed the biscuit tin with its unusual shaped lid and shoved it back in the drawer it should have come from.
"You sure?" Evan asked amiably.
"Yeah, just don't make a habit of getting those headaches..." I was about to tell him that'd he'd caught me on a good day and that I was just being lenient because he did look legitimately sick but he cut me of with a tender kiss to my cheek.
"Thanks" he whispered and feeling a warm hazy feeling grow over me I couldn't help but smile.
"Don't go telling the others; Jo will spit chips if she ever finds out!" I warned but Evan had already swung his coat over his shoulder and gave me a quick wave before he headed off. I was left to clean up his mess, naturally.
"You were rather close to Evan?" Lucy suggested rather than stated, implying that I had a relationship with one of my colleagues where there simply wasn't one could have had her in shreds of embarrassment, this way she could weed everything out of me, bit by bit.
"He was my colleague." was my stern and blunt answer. My head reached up and brushed my hair back over my ear, she knew I was lying. Oh what was I meant to say? That I was passionately in love with him? That I couldn't help but feel weak whenever he was close? That he made me feel like I was the only person that mattered? Even if I didn't, Lucy had her way of knowing.
"You had no amorous feelings for him whatsoever?" Lucy asked leaning in that bit closer, she crossed her legs. One sleek leg over the other, she crushed the thickly creased line down the front of her pant leg. I wouldn't get away with it; if I lied fragrantly I'd look stupid.
"I suppose I did." I said reticently, staring down at my hands again, weaving my fingers into a difficult plait.
"You suppose?" she was good at twisting your arm.
"Okay, I loved him." I finally managed to blurt out before I self destructed completely, I shut my eyes tightly. Every time I told myself that I loved him I couldn't help but hurt, it was a deep relentless, un-mitigating hurt that consumed you entirely until you felt the need to cry.
I felt Lucy sigh with honest relief, she was getting somewhere, I wasn't though. I felt exactly the same as when I stepped into this room; cold, awkward, unforgiving, rabid, hungered, disfigured and aching. I sighed with a heavy heart and Lucy felt my ravenous pain.
"Did he know you loved him?" she asked gently, not that it was any of her business I still felt compelled to answer.
"Oh, he did..."
It was dark when the moon glistened over the deep navy clouds, you couldn't really tell what they looked like but I thought they'd rather resemble Persian fairy floss, delicate and thin, with torn edges that looked like the whimsically delicate fibres on a freshly torn apart cotton ball. I'd always loved clouds, and most of all watching them but tonight I'd have to be content with the moon. He glistened like a fanatically polished boot. The stark clouds across his cheeky face always formed the biggest smile. I'd always smile back, he was my moon, at least I thought of him that way because I spent most of tonight admiring him, in the thick jungle of dark that was the night sky.
The stars like freshly cut diamonds, sparkled gently around the moon's figure, lighting the sky like birthday candles would a dark room, or plain golden Christmas lights the branches of a Christmas tree. If you watched carefully enough you would see them flicker every now and then or watch them dance as the sky shifted right.
I sighed, there I was; my cosy red blanket and I, on the rain frosted lawn of the Mt. Thomas football field. How did I get here? I don't remember but somehow it was the best place you could ever get to watch the stars (when it was conveniently deserted of course) and I loved this place for that sole reason.
My eyelids like sandbags weighed heavy over my eyes and for a moment or two I actually let my thoughts drift to unremembered memories until which I felt quite lifeless, slowly and aimlessly floating about in sleep until I felt the heavy thud of two thick boots, treading on heavenly red blanket. My heart raced and my mind flicked through possible scenarios and dimly lit faces while I lay perfectly still on the red blanket unable to open my eyes.
A familiar smell comforted me, the smell of sheep's skin; I felt it warm against my neck.
"Hey, what are doin' out here by yourself?" I sighed and opened my eyes; I could just see the dim shadows hide most of his friendly features while the moon reflected off the tip of his hair. I guessed by the voice anyway that it was Evan; how he knew I was here I had no idea.
I didn't reply to his question, it was a stupid question to ask, if you knew me. But secretly I did forgive him for his ignorance; I didn't expect him to know the inner workings of my mind, although sometimes I thought he had a well detailed manual.
I felt him lie down beside me and his hand reached out for mine, squeezing it softly. Feeling a little more exhausted then usual I tried to shut my eyes and fall yet again into the peaceful ambience that was sleep but Evan brushed my fringe away from my eyes and the feel of his warm fingertips against my forehead distracted me. His radiant warmth drew me to him and I rest my head on his shoulder. Evan stroked my head with his palm gently. I loved the feel of his jacket against my cheek, so warm and pleasantly sheep smelling.
"It's a nice night for star gazing." he pointed out bluntly and the hint of apprehension in his voice made me think he didn't want to talk about stars but something a little more deep.
"What's wrong?" I asked smiling and I opened my eyes to gaze into his, even though I couldn't see them that well I imagined what they looked like in great detail. Like smoothed over blue crystal reflecting the sun, his eyes; tranquil and perfect. Edged with the most fantastic deep turquoise, his eyes were as intriguing as Chihuly's glass and I could never stop gazing mindlessly at them, they were too entrancing. His beautiful eyes were a part of him that was to be forever etched in my memory.
"I've been thinking..." Evan started and I looked again to the stars.
"Oh no!" I said mockingly a cheeky smile lit up on my face.
"Hey!" Evan was to say before his voice took on a rather serious tone. "Well I have, been thinking that is..." stumbling on his sentences I knew this had to be something he was uncomfortable speaking about, that made me more apprehensive than anything.
"Well, spit it out!" I said with a gentle ring to my voice, that made him chuckle.
"You know how today we met Anna..." he started; puzzled by which Anna he meant I referred to today's case.
"Anna, the kleptomaniac?" I asked thinking what Evan could possibly want to talk about Anna for.
"That's the one. You know what she said before she died, about telling those you love that you love them and that you mean it, before it's too late..." I didn't know what Evan was trying to imply, in fact Anna's situation didn't seem to bother me at all. Jo was in tears over Anna's death but I couldn't help but scoff. Anna was a pitiful woman; her selfishness was crude and violent. She tore apart everyone that cared for her and waited for them to shrivel up and die. Her statement would never make sense.
"I guess, why do ask?" I was a little intrigued.
"Because I love you Tess and I know you love me and the thing that really gets to me is you've never said it to me."
"Said what?" I asked a little confused.
"Said that you love me." that would have had to been the only time I realised that Evan really did care what I thought of him and my lack of acknowledgement tore him to pieces.
"So, why haven't you?" he asked genuinely feeling dejected. I couldn't think of anything remotely plausible, in fact right then, it came over me that Evan pinned for some kind of reassurance that I did love him.
"But I don't have to tell you, you already know..." that didn't explain anything. I could remember how astonishingly wonderful it felt to hear him say 'I love you' and it hurt me knowing that he couldn't feel that same feeling.
"Do I?" he asked honestly and quiet discomfort built a lump in my throat.
"It's complicated." I muttered soothingly, I didn't want to fight; I enjoyed his company too much.
"Okay." he sighed knowing that there might come a day where I'd open up and tell him everything but for now he'd have to wait.
Gently lifting up my head his took away his shoulder and sat up on the red blanket, I could feel him looking at me and I felt horribly guilty.
"You'll be okay, here by yourself?" Half of me wanted him to stay and the other half was too bruised with guilt to need him here.
"Yeah" I said and Evan picked up my hand squeezed it gently again and picked himself up and disappeared.
"You couldn't tell him you loved him." Lucy stated this time. She almost felt appalled for me and it didn't help the compelling feeling of sick remorse. I knew I couldn't tell him, as much as I wanted to it just never came out.
"Do you know why you couldn't, Tess? Was it because at that point in time you really didn't love Evan?" Lucy suggested something disgustingly inappropriate, of course I loved Evan.
"No, I did love him…" I reassured myself with that statement and Lucy sighed gently and looked at her watch, with a look of hesitation she pulled out a piece of yellow paper from within the file that sat at the floor of the other coach.
"I'm sorry Tess but I'm afraid that has to be all for today." There was an awkward longing in Lucy's voice, as if she didn't want me to leave and strangely enough I felt exactly the same.
"Here's a piece of yellow paper, what I'll get you to do at home is write down all the men that you did or have formed relationships with." Lucy smiled while I folded up the piece of yellow paper and slid it into my pocket. It was a strange task that I was unwilling to do but as I stepped out of her office I couldn't help but feel that I had to.
"See you tomorrow Tess." Lucy mentioned and I turned back to try and see her face but it was covered by a frail man's figure that walked slowly to her door.
Right then I told myself I wouldn't come back.