Disclaimer: Anyone you recognise doesn't belong to me. This particular version of Patrick is claimed, however, as is all the holes in history that I've filled in of my own accord. The order the words are in is also mine.
Playlist: How We Operate by Gomez : The Ocean Breathes Salty by Modest Mouse : Worn Me Down by Rachel Yamagata : Thanks for Your Time by Gotye : Hands Open by Snow Patrol : Somersault by Zero 7 : Hail to Whatever you found in the Sunlight that Surrounds You by Rilo Kiley : Salvation by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.
Scotty was sitting on the bench outside. A decent side-effect of him being right outside the police station was that the bench was clear; the homeless people who wandered the streets like grey nomads were seeking shelter elsewhere tonight, knowing that they'd be rumbled from here quickly.
The night was pristine; effortlessly clear with the cold, stars sparkling high above despite the pollution haze over the city. Scotty looked up, inhaling deeply, almost enjoying the sting of the chilled air as it settled in his lungs. He looked to his right as footsteps became audible, scraping up the street. A man, tall and lean with the graceful finesse of a dancer, the physique of a gymnast and the wary eyes of an off-duty cop was making his way towards Scotty. He stopped for a moment, looking towards the station and not seeing what he wanted before coming to sit beside Scotty. He shifted on the seat, pulled out a crumpled packet of Newport Lights.
"Smoke?" He offered to Scotty, who shook his head. Cupping his hands to light his cigarette, Scotty saw he was older than he'd thought. Late thirties, judging by the lines beginning to etch around the eyes and, more so, the look in those eyes. Somewhat weary, somewhat tired. Eyes that had seen more of life than the average citizen. Scotty could relate.
"You a cop?" Scotty briefly wondered how he should answer before he saw the look in the other guy's eyes. He'd been made as soon the stranger had sat down. Scotty nodded, shifted his feet as the cold started sinking through his suit, chilling his muscles. He was waiting for a taxi; the always promised but never appearing midnight taxi. His car had blown a head gasket that morning and though Lil had offered to drive him home, he'd called through for a cab. They lived on opposite ends of town and, from the way she'd taken to this case, he wasn't entirely sure what time she was planning on leaving.
"Yeah. I was, once. Night duty for five years. Feels like a lifetime ago." The stranger took a long drag on his cigarette before looking at it with stern brows. Although it was only half burnt down, he stubbed it out on an icy, metal chair leg. Offering Scotty a quick glance, he shrugged.
"Always planning on quitting. I managed to stop smoking for two years. Best two years of my life." He fell silent again, hands going to his pocket as if to pull out another cigarette, but falling uselessly to his lap before they could bring out the packet.
"Hm." Scotty said noncommittally. It wasn't that he didn't like talking to people; he couldn't have this job if he couldn't communicate, but he didn't understand going beyond idle chitchat with strangers. Of course, maybe because of this point of view or just something about his face or manner, he rarely invited strangers to impart anything other than a few offered words about the weather or the state of the stock market. It was always Lilly who's face seemed to unclamp the jaws and rattle loose the secrets of anyone. That's why she was so damn good at her job; that and her almost psychic ability to be able to pick out a suspect's weakness.
"She's in there." The stranger motioned towards the door of the police station and Scotty looked over at him, having almost abandoned his vigil for the taxi whose service had guaranteed would be there a half hour ago.
"Who?" Scotty asked. He made a quick decision; if he had to be out here, he may as well have a conversation. From what he'd heard so far, it might be an interesting one. It'd take his mind off freezing anyway.
"The one woman I should have held onto. She made me quit smoking. Not with remarks that it was a filthy habit, or that she hated the smell but because I knew… I knew she wanted me to be alive to see our grandkids graduate." As he talked, the stranger's eyes were slightly illuminated by the street light to the left of them, revealing a lightness that hadn't been there before.
"She was beautiful. And I'm not just saying that because I loved her. She was actually beautiful. And when she smiled, when she laughed, everyone couldn't help but laugh with her." There was a self deprecating chuckle from beside him.
"You might not get it. I probably sound like some love sick cracker out of some Shakespeare play or something. But she was something."
"No, I get it." Scotty said, looking back down the road. His thoughts immediately trailed back to Elissa, to when she was having a good day. When it was good with her, it was perfect for him.
"She could curl ice cream perfectly, you know, when it rolls with the scoop. And sometimes, for no reason, she'd wear red lipstick and high heels around the house, just because she could. She loved Christmas, too. Sometimes we'd lie under the tree, holding hands, looking up at the lights. She was perfect but I just didn't get it then. What I wouldn't give…" He trailed off, and for a moment each of them were lost in their own thoughts. Scotty could sympathise with a tortured mind when he heard it. He'd felt the same way; so stupidly in love that he would still throw himself off the bridge if it would bring her back. And he knew that it was the little things that you missed more than anything. For the stranger, curled ice cream, red lipstick, Christmas tree lights viewed from beneath. For him, socks paired with odd socks, post-it notes on the fridge with silly sayings on them, the way she had to fold shirts with the collars up.
"So what happened?" Scotty asked. For some reason he needed to hear how it ended. Obviously it wasn't a happy ending but if she was working in the Philly PD, it wasn't as tragic an end as Scotty was living with.
"I was stupid. A typical male. It wasn't enough she'd agreed to marry me. I needed more. What did she call me? Such a worthless part of the human race that she should have known better than to waste her time on me." Shaking his head, the stranger sighed quietly.
"Of course she was right. I should have known." He seemed to retreat into his own thoughts further then, forgetting that Scotty was even there.
"She was so hurt already, so damaged before I even met her. If she hadn't left, maybe we'd be married now, living somewhere interstate, running around after the three kids she always wanted instead of wondering if she's going to be wounded again. I should have known she wouldn't have been able to take it. God, I was so selfish. After everything she'd been through already…" Dropping his head to his hands, rubbing his hands over his hair, the stranger was quiet once more. Scotty didn't know whether he should ask what she'd been through before, whomever she might be. He wondered vaguely if it was Lilly, but disregarded the idea. He knew Lil had skeletons in her closet; the sadness in her eyes sometimes, the throwaway comments she made about her mother, her childhood. But Scotty didn't think that she'd have a long lost lover somewhere back there. Besides that, he couldn't imagine her taking the time to lie under a Christmas tree, couldn't imagine her living interstate or wanting three children.
"When she was a kid… It makes me sick just thinking about it. She couldn't even tell me herself, I had to look it up on her 49. Breaking the jaw of a kid… What that fucking sonovabitch took from her… What she didn't report…" The unfilled long pauses between the stranger's words were spaces that Scotty could fill in for himself; he'd read between the lines on enough 49s to know what was being inferring. The stranger's hands moved down and he rubbed his eyes, looking suddenly weary.
"I'll see you tomorrow. And Lil- great catch on that '62 connection." Vera's voice could be heard clearly as he came through the door. He'd worked late with Lil; seemed to be working late as much as he could. Scotty figured it was because he didn't have anything at home anymore. He could identify.
"Yeah, you would've picked it up. Eventually." The smile in Lil's voice was evident and, looking over towards the station entrance, Scotty sensed but didn't see his mysterious companion start, turn and stand at the sound of Lilly's voice. He did see Lilly's pace falter as she came towards them, saw something in her eyes flicker and change.
"Lil." Her voice was whispered on a touch of air by the stranger and Scotty almost felt the hairs stand up on the back of his neck at her reaction to it. The pain running through her eyes. The flare of her nostrils as she damped it down, took control. Another moment, and the hairs on the back of his neck did stand up.
Lilly. The 49. He knew, from her interview with George, that she'd been involved in something when she was a kid. He'd taken it upon himself to look it up later, only to find it had been removed. He was guessing Stillman had been involved in misplacing that particular file. He'd never thought it was a broken jaw. Never thought there could have been anything more to it…
"Patrick." Lilly said. Her voice was flat, her eyes so emotionless they could have been dead, the blue shimmering dark in her pale face.
"God, it's been so long-." Patrick's tone towards her was reverent and, in contrast, Lilly's returning words felt darker, emotions stirred beneath the surface.
"It's been a long time for a reason." As he was talking, Patrick had moved closer to Lilly. His height dwarfed her small frame and she crossed her arms, taking a defensive stance but not letting herself move back. There was silence between them until Patrick spoke again.
"I just moved to Philly. I thought…" He trailed off as Lilly looked away from both of them, down the street where a taxi turned, the headlights briefly splashing over all of them, garishly illuminating the scene.
Scotty stood, hands in his pockets. He didn't want to leave Lil here with this guy. He didn't want to come charging in as her protector, either; she'd just regret it and push him away. Her eyes had followed the taxi and her head was tilted towards him now, the depths of her eyes sheltered in shadow. Her arms were still crossed, and the awkward silence had grown to a crescendo. Deciding to risk the wrath of Lilly, Scotty jogged down to the taxi. A few quick words and it was driving off. He was vaguely glad he hadn't decided to take it home; from what he'd smelt when he leant in, the taxi driver had been eating pickles with the windows up. He hoped he'd been eating pickles.
"Lil, can I get a ride? He didn't want to drive over that side of town." Scotty knew it was a white lie Lilly would see through as soon as it was out of his mouth, but he was betting that the stranger, Patrick, wouldn't realise he lived in a neighbourhood that the taxi service would actually venture into.
Lil paused a moment, and Scotty wondered whether she was about to refuse, whether he'd have to wait another hour for a taxi. The only other ex that had visited her at work had waited for her outside, much like this. After wanting him to know she was dead, Lil changed her mind and rode away with him.
Abruptly she took a step back and nodded to him, her eyes never leaving Patrick's, leading Scotty to breathe a muffled sigh of relief. He wasn't sure what the relief was to; that he wasn't going to have to wait for another taxi, or that Lil wasn't going home with this guy.
"Sure, Scotty." She looked at her feet, shuffled them a little. Taking the hint, Scotty started walking towards the car park, giving her a little bit of privacy with the mystery man. Her former lover. Someone who knew more about her past than Scotty ever had. Even though he was a good five metres away from them, he still heard her soft words as they carried on the crisp night air.
"Don't ever come here again. And stop trying to call me." Then her footsteps as she caught up to him. She fell into step beside him and he looked down at her. The top of her head met his gaze; her eyes were cast downwards, her arms still wrapped tightly around her thin frame in a parody of coldness.
They reached her car, having walked to it in silence. Lilly unlocked it and they both slid in. She started the motor and waited a moment while it heated up, adjusting the heater and demister. They drove out past the front of the building and though Lilly kept her eyes steadfastly on the road, Scotty couldn't help but look. Patrick was sitting back on the bench, his breath steaming in the night, eyes following the car as it drove down the street.
"Thanks for the ride, Lil." Scotty said. He wasn't sure she was going to talk to him. She had the propensity to clam up if anything got too close to her, to shut herself in and bar the doors. Instead, her eyes flicked over to him before returning to the road.
"Thanks, Scotty. I know the taxi goes to your house." Scotty shifted in his seat, allowed the window a wry smile.
"Didn't think you'd want to be left with him. The atmosphere was a bit…" Scotty trailed off. He wasn't sure what he was going to say.
"Tense?" Lilly offered. She nodded, more to herself than to him.
"I guess you could say there's a lot of water under that bridge." She sighed, checked her rear view mirror, turned on a yellow light. Scotty held on as the wheels slid a little on the slick road. Lost in thoughts or memories, Lilly didn't seem to notice. Then they were travelling straight again, and he released his grip on the dash.
"Anything you want to…" Again, Scotty faltered. The most Lilly had ever discussed of herself was necessary, explaining why she could identify with a certain victim or suspect. The comments she warily let slip were always followed by a swift change of subject. He'd managed to gather that her mother had preferred alcohol over taking care of her daughters, and that her father was more or less nonexistent. Chris had told him a little more about it, but he could never be sure what she'd said was the truth anymore. Thanks to Patrick, he knew he'd entertain visions of Lilly, sweet and hopeful, wearing red lipstick and being sultry just because she could. He knew when the good dreams rolled into the bad, he'd be haunted by the young Lilly Rush and the sick bastard listed on her 49. Broken Jaw. What she didn't report…
He knew, too, that the rest of the conversation they'd had on the bench would go towards his picture of Lilly. He'd known her for five years now, and she was still an enigma. Beautiful, without trying to be, delicate to the point of breakage, tough as reinforced steel and more intelligent than most of the partners he'd ever had. Laughter was rare with her, smiles less so but usually, like now, her face was impassive, with the familiar shadows of sorrow settling in around her eyes, the way they did most nights.
"He was my fiancée. Once." As enigma's tend to do, she surprised him again by answering his question. Her words shocked him slightly, and he had to wonder why. Lilly was an attractive, albeit absolutely stunning woman. The first time he'd met her he'd looked into those blue eyes and, while she was too pale, too perfectly blonde for his liking, he'd felt carnal stirrings, as he knew most men did. She dressed down for work, never playing up her sensuality, but he knew it was there, somewhere under her protective façade. After Patrick's comment about high heels, he knew he hadn't been wrong; if Lil wasn't as involved in her job and could relax more, he knew there wouldn't be a shortage of men offering to buy her drinks. Even when she was working, all walls up to her emotions and history, she was still something. Sometimes he found his eyes tracing their way to her desk, following her eyes, every thread of emotion that crossed her face. Watched enviously as her fingertips paused, rubbing her bottom lip thoughtfully, or moved higher to brush a strand of hair back.
He felt he needed a follow up to her statement, but he tried to make his tone casual. The truth was, he was desperate to know. History with Lilly was scattered like rare diamonds in a rock wall. Enough chipping away, and another shimmering jewel was uncovered. More often than not, it would be less than shiny; some hidden melancholy.
"What happened?" Scotty asked. Lilly sighed again, accelerated through another yellow light. She shrugged a little in her seat, moved one hand off the steering wheel to flick a strand of hair back.
"It didn't work." She made it sound simple but Scotty knew, with relationships, it was never as easy as that. There was silence again between them, more comfortable than the silence that had uneasily convened between Lilly and her former fiancée.
"Was that him? All those calls you've been getting?" Scotty had noticed Lil coming back after being in the field to a pile of pink notes. She always sorted through, brought out anything case related and swept everything else into the bin. Lil nodded.
"Did he talk to you?" Her tone was carefully neutral, and Scotty stared ahead, trying not to flinch as they passed another car far too closely for his comfort. He wondered how to answer, but knew Lil would know if he was lying.
"A little. He really loves you, you know." A little more daringly, Scotty decided to add the last part. To a point he could sympathise with how Patrick felt. Lil chuckled humourlessly, her lips never quite reaching a smile, the smile never reaching her eyes.
"If he really did, we might be married now." Her tone was a little wistful, and Scotty remembered Patrick's words; that she might be living interstate with three kids. As much as he hadn't been able to imagine that, her words, aligning with Patrick's made him wonder whether it had been something Lilly had wanted, and whether she'd given up yet on this particular dream. Something about that made him feel sad; Lilly shouldn't have to give up her dreams because of a broken engagement, a 49 from her youth.
"He said you could curl ice cream perfectly." Scotty suddenly felt the need to pull her out of the depths she was sinking into with a lighter memory. He wanted clarification on what Patrick had said anyway; if the ice cream myth was true, then perhaps the red lipstick and the high heels were as well.
"I guess it's a gift a homicide detective never really gets to utilise." After a long pause, Lilly answered with her usual undercurrent of sarcasm as she brought the car to a stop in front of Scotty's apartment building.
"You know, Lil, if you want me to talk to him-." Her quiet laugh stopped his sentence and she shook her head.
"I don't think that'll help. I've been ignoring him, hoping he'll go away, but…" She ran her hands through her hair before letting the strands fall back down.
"I've got to deal with it sometime. Just not tonight. But thanks." Scotty nodded to her as he got out of the car.
"See you tomorrow, Lil." Scotty said. He shut the door and stepped back as she executed a perfect u-turn and drove off down the street, the car alternating between black and dark blue with the circles of light thrown by the street lamps. He knew she was a woman with history, but a fiancée? After shaking his head and looking down the street for a moment, Scotty walked inside.
Well, I've crossed genres. I know. Feed the author; let me know if I should stick to the O.C. Otherwise, feel free to tell me I'm fabulous.
Sarcasm, people. Have a good day!