One Crystalline Night

It's completely L/R. What can I say, I adore McMan. Could be some spoilers.

Playlist: Let It Die by Feist : My Number by Tegan & Sarah : Bodies by Faker

Not mine, never will be (unless my plans for world domination end up working out). No lucre being made. Order the words are in is mine. So's Ray's tattoo!

There was a chill in the air outside; it reached deep into Lil's bones and made her wrap her arms around herself. She loved Philadelphia in the winter, but usually when she was in bed, warm with her cats curled around her, looking out into the crystalline night. Instead, she was trying to clear her head before going back inside to more files, more possibly hopeless searching to try and find out what had happened to the dead blonde girl all those years ago.

"Hey." Lilly jumped as a voice came out of the dark, the single word falling heavy into the barely lit night. She peered into shadows, blue eyes narrowing, trying to make out a figure that would accompany the stirringly familiar voice. He started moving forward from the street, accommodating. In a few steps he was up the kerb and near her.

"Ray." Lilly tried not to lean away from him as he leant closer, invading her space.

"So you're still here. How's that partner of yours? Hitting it yet?" Ray couldn't resist the cheap dig. Last time he'd been here, he'd picked up on a vibe between Lilly and the slick city cop. Lilly allowed herself a small smile, a shake of her head.

"You arrive out of the gutter, figures your mind wouldn't have caught up." She wrapped her arms closer around herself. She'd planned on being out here only a few minutes; getting away from the stifling office where she, Vera and Scotty had been sitting for the last two hours, sorting through a box of interviews, crime scene photos and witness lists. Instead, the quiet and cold outside had been a sort of elixir, and she'd lingered longer than she'd wanted. There was a silence between them after Lilly's words, and she broke it first.

"What are you doing back here?" She was surprised to see him; every time he rode off on the motorbike, she'd half-heartedly assume it was the last time she'd see him. Once, she'd thought he'd never ride away. She'd pinned a nineteen year olds hopes on a wedding ring and a few kids, a job on an interstate police force, someone to come home to every night. Instead, she'd been accepted to Philly academy, near her old stomping ground but a lifetime away, and he'd decided to stay where he was.

He shrugged, always the laid back one. His eyes, luminous green, captured hers. "Harleys can't keep you warm at night." Lil wrapped her arms tighter around herself and looked at the ground. She hated that he could do this to her. She knew if she relented, as she'd been half tempted to do every time he'd come back into a life with the proposition that they become a couple again, he'd come between her and her work, and she'd resent him for it. Inevitably, there would be another break up scene, more tears, and he'd reappear at distant intervals in her life, as if they hadn't tried already and written it off as a bad idea.

"We've tried it once, Ray."

"We were kids. We had no money, no thoughts of anything other than getting the hell away from our lives. And now, here we are. You're catching killers, and I started a chain of Harley workshops. Our dream jobs, Lil. We've come full circle." Ray's words overlapped with hers, and she had to admit that he made a good argument. Then again, it was getting late and she was running on a lack of sleep. At this point, he might tell her he wanted to whip her away to Vegas for a shotgun wedding before settling them back in her old neighbourhood and she might agree, just so she didn't have to think about it.

"Ray…" Lilly paused, saying only his name, wondering what she had as a comeback. Last time, he'd made it easier for her. Last time, he'd told her to blow off work, come with him. She'd have thought he'd have known that her work was her life and his sudden, short lived appearance wouldn't make her just drop it.

"I know you're at work. I get that now." As if reading her mind, he looked up towards the mostly dark PPD. Lights shone from the office, the balcony cutting off most of it before it landed at their feet. Lilly followed Ray's eyes, looking up. She should get back up before someone came down looking for her; saw Ray, jumped to the wrong conclusions. Jumped to any conclusions.

"I think I've done enough for now. Let me grab my bag." Making a decision, Lilly walked backwards a few steps until she saw Ray nod. She knew he'd just wait otherwise, either here or at her house. And she knew her mind would be flitting between what she wanted to say to him and what she needed to hear from him so that any case notes she looked through would need to be rechecked tomorrow.

Walking inside, Lilly stabbed the button for the lift and waited, knowing he'd be watching her. She didn't know what it was that kept them connected to each other. There was the connection of their childhoods; the similar stories of drunken parental units, not enough food, walking the fine line between a respectable life and the lure of the illegal. They'd found each other as she was casting around for something to get her out of where she was, what she was becoming. He'd owned a Harley, had offered a kind of quiet thrill and an escape route that she had been gutsy enough to grab. They'd ridden through several states, not staying anywhere very long, fuelled on dreams, cigarettes, booze, caffeine. Finally, she'd decided she wanted more than he was willing to give her and he'd decided he wasn't going to follow her to find out exactly what her dreams of him held. Over the years, she'd decided against living interstate, had figured out that engagement rings were only formalities that promised neither love nor fidelity but only sparkled indefinitely, and had started to think that maybe some kind of mutual affection would be enough for her. Stepping into the lift, Lilly knew part of her problem. Mutual affection was safe; mutual affection could be given and taken freely without fear of a broken heart. But Ray… She'd loved Ray, and every time she saw him she felt the same tiny pull of something more than mutual affection, something that spoke of their history, before they'd decided on different things.

"Thought you'd frozen out there." Scotty greeted her as she came back in. Lilly shook her head absentmindedly, started gathering her things together. She slipped the file she'd been reading back into the box, and swept everything else off her desk into the top drawer. Usually she liked to have everything tidied before she went home but tonight was different.

"Going home?" Vera asked, his tone bordering on surprise. Lilly knew his reasoning; usually she was the last to leave, and his question was one she'd be asking them.

"Yeah. I don't think I can concentrate on anything else tonight." As if on cue, they heard Ray's motorcycle start in the street. Scotty immediately jumped to the right conclusions about what that sound signalled and raised an eyebrow at Lil. She sighed, gritted her teeth internally, avoided his eyes. Oblivious to the silent exchange, Vera had cocked his head, listening.

"Sounds like a Harley," he said. Scotty nodded.

"That's a Harley, all right."

"Goodnight, guys." Lil gave Vera a cursory glance before turning her back on them as she walked out. She could feel Scotty staring after her, knew there would be subtle hints tomorrow, alluding to questions he had no right to ask.

"I guess you still know the way." Lilly said as she took the proffered helmet and climbed onto the back, wrapping her arms around him. He nodded and with a touch of the throttle, they were off into the black night.

So… What did you think? There's a chapter two. I'm getting there. Meanwhile, look at the (few) other CC fics I've done. Or delve in the hideous angst of the O.C. Lol. And review please, even if it's just a one-liner. Let me know; love or hate!