Lilly sat at the table in the interview room. She'd never been on this side of it; never been the one questioned, picked apart. Never had her life splashed all over the room like a glittery headline.
"When was the last time you saw Joseph?" Stillman and the team hadn't been able to take the case because of her involvement with them, but he'd assured her they were working as hard as they could to prove her innocence while trying to remain undetected. If internal affairs got wind of them looking into it, they'd dismantle their efforts for sure.
"It was Tuesday night. He stayed over."
"By stayed over, you mean you had sex." Lilly looked at the table. They made love every time he stayed over. Even though they'd been together for a while, they still felt like they were teenagers discovering the joys of sex.
"Yes." Lilly nodded, addressing the scratched metallic surface.
"Who left first the next morning?"
"I did." He'd cooked breakfast while she dressed and they'd eaten eggs and toast together, feet touching under the table, before she'd had to rush to work.
"He was still at your apartment then?"
"Does he have his own key to your apartment?"
"Yes." She'd handed her spare key over to him after only two weeks. He'd never bothered to give her one; he was always at her place, and she could break into the farm easily anyway.
"That was the last time you saw him."
"Yes." Lil clenched her teeth. She wasn't going to cry in front of this detective. That was what weak people did, people who had reached the end and had no other emotion to give. Lilly had anger left; anger that she was suspected, anger that she was locked in this little room, anger that she had to give up some of the most intimate details of her life to a woman who smelt like Marlboro lights and whose suit crackled like cheap fabric.
"We've got time of death anytime between 7.20 and 8.20am. What time did you get to work, detective?"
"I arrived at the office at eight thirty. The walk takes fifteen, twenty minutes." Lilly was glad she had something else to think about, something other than Joseph, cold in the morgue by now.
"See, there's our problem. That gives someone only five or ten minutes to-."
"I didn't kill him!" Lilly looked up, into the woman's eyes. She searched them, trying to find something that said the woman believed her. There was nothing there, though, and Lil had to admit to herself that if she was on the other side of the table, she might not believe her either.
"You risked your career for this man." The detective flipped through Lilly's file. Lil gritted her teeth, didn't answer. If it wasn't a question, she wasn't going to say anything.
"Did you love Joseph, detective Rush?"
"Yes." She had. She'd loved him more than she thought she'd love anyone. He was the first person who had tried to understand the reasons behind the late hours at work. He'd absorbed her tears when she'd told him about her 49 and he'd held her in his arms when she told him about George. He fed her cats when she was home too late, and he liked going to the Laundromat with her just so they could sit and hold hands while the washing machines whirred in the background.
"Sometimes love turns sour." Lilly looked back down to the table. She didn't know how much more she could take. It had been a solid four hours that she'd been sitting on this hard little chair in this cold little room. Stillman had come in once, briefly, and brought her coffee and a bagel. Other than that, it had just been her and the other female detective; she'd heard she was nicknamed the Rottweiler, and she knew why. The woman got hold of something, and wouldn't let it go.
"So things were fine between you?"
"No problems? No fights?"
"Come on, detective. What relationship is that perfect?" Lilly traced her finger around a swirly scratch mark on the silver table. She wasn't going to answer rhetorical questions, either.
"Did he mind you working such long hours?" Lilly looked up, her hair falling in her eyes.
"Because we've talked to Jason Kite, an ADA in Pittsburgh, and he says that was the reason why the two of you broke up." Lilly let her eyes drop back to the table. She and Kite were ancient history. They'd been over almost before they'd begun; she'd never been as interested in him as he'd been in her, and he hadn't been able to handle that, or her job. Figures they'd bring him into it; jilted lovers were always favourites with detectives to reveal the worse sides of suspects.
"What was your last conversation about?" Lilly rolled her eyes and shook her head. They were really clutching at straws now; four hours, and they were still trying to find some kind of motive. She just wanted to get out of there so she could start piecing together who actually killed him. Because when she found the bastard that had killed Joseph…
"We were making plans for the weekend. I was going to get off work early Friday and we were going to drive out to… to his place in the woods to stay." She couldn't bring herself to say his name. The last time she'd spoken it, she'd been kissing him, wrapped around him in bed that morning before the alarm went off. The Rottweiler closed her file, came around to lean on the table next to her.
"Five or ten minutes to find a knife from your knife collection, to stab your boyfriend sixteen times in the neck and chest and leave, without your neighbours seeing or hearing anything." The smoke on her breath washed over Lilly as she spoke. More than that, her words sank in and Lil couldn't help it; she couldn't choke back the sobs that wracked her body, made her put her head in her hands and bite her wrist, try and stop them.
"Lainey, something you need to see." There was a quick knock on the door before it opened and a young deputy's head looked in. The woman stood up, straightening her cheap suit. Lilly clenched her hands around her elbows, kept her teeth firmly biting on her wrist. She didn't want to give this woman the satisfaction of having cracked her at all.
"I'll be back." Lainey, the Rottweiler, left, closing the door firmly behind her and Lilly gave herself another moment to collect herself before looking up. She could see herself in the mirror and she wiped under her eyes, removing the mascara tracks that the few tears had left. She wondered who was watching her from in there. When she was interviewing, she never worried about who was behind the mirror; it would only be one of her team, urging her to crack the suspect, soaking up the information they bled at the same time she did. Tonight, it could be anyone in there, looking at her with suspicious eyes.
The door opened suddenly, and Lil looked over, expecting the Rottweiler to be back with a new round of banal questions which wouldn't reveal anymore than the brand of cereal she and Joseph preferred (honey snaps), the names of their cats (Laura, Archer, Olivia and Tripod) or the amount of times they had sex every week (she thought they'd been averaging eight or nine times). Instead, Scotty stood there. He looked tired, as she knew she did. He'd got to the office the same time she did which had been at least thirteen hours ago.
"Lil." His familiar voice was enough to make her eyes fill with tears again, and she angrily wiped them back. She wasn't going to cry for herself. If there was going to be any more crying, it would be for Joseph; for the way he lay near the door for long enough for his blood to pool, flow under the door, dribble over her front steps and still remain scented enough for her neighbour's dog Charley to find it when he took her for a work at 4.30 on the dot that afternoon. Lilly still hadn't been to her house. She knew his body would be gone, but the blood would still be there, dried to black, almost impossible to scrub away.
"Hey Scotty." At 4.45pm she'd been hauled into an interview room at the other end of the building and told unceremoniously that the man she loved had been killed in her living room, and that she was the main suspect.
"Stillman's pulled some strings. You can go home. Without a confession, they've got nothing."
"They've got a knife from my kitchen, Scotty, and a window of opportunity that they figure only I can fill." As optimistic as Scotty was trying to sound, Lil knew she wasn't off the hook. She was always going to be the main suspect by default, no matter what her job description was. She'd worked an endless amount of cases where lovers had killed lovers; it was always love that made people do the craziest things.
"Yeah, but you didn't do it, Lil. They're not going to be able to prove it." Lilly sighed, brushed her hands through her hair before she stood up. Other than the eggs on toast that morning, she hadn't eaten anything and she was feeling faint; she felt Scotty's hands catch her under her elbows as she started a slow sway to the floor. The bagel Stillman had brought her had been stared at before she placed it in the bin. As nice as the gesture was, she couldn't stomach food.
"Steady, Lil." His hands stayed in place as she steadied herself before finally, reluctantly dropping back to his sides.
"I'm fine, Scotty." She didn't want hands on her. She didn't want sympathy, or help, or pity. She wanted to see Joseph. She wanted to go home and sit in the spot where he'd died and then she wanted to crawl into her bed so she could smell him on her sheets. Then, after that, she was going to find out who killed him.
"Lil, let me take you home." Stillman was waiting outside the room, and she was glad to see he and Scotty were the only ones there. Obviously Lainey and the deputy had departed.
"I need to see him." She looked up in Stillman's eyes, felt his disinclination to agree to her request.
"I don't think that's a good-."
"I don't care, Scotty. I'm going to see him." Lil cut him off without looking at him, her eyes still aimed at Stillman. He nodded finally, almost imperceptively.
"But Sir-." Lilly was already walking away from them when Scotty's words reached her and she knew Stillman wouldn't stop her because Scotty thought it was a bad idea. Sure enough, a few minutes later she could hear two sets of feet following her down the stairs. The morgue where the bodies were held was a three block walk; there was meant to be room for it at the station, but the architects hadn't bet on the amount of filing space a PD needed, so the morgue had been setup in the basement subsection of a satellite office of the PDD. It had been annoying when she'd been in the homicide squad that dealt with warm bodies; walking three blocks through snow and blizzard weather to stand around while a body was dissected had never been the ideal way to spend a day. But it was necessary for justice.
"I'll drive you, Lil." Scotty caught up with her first, his hand lightly resting on her shoulder.
"I'll walk, Scotty." She shook it off, pushed open the doors to the cool weather outside. Her coat was still hanging in the office, along with her bag. She hadn't had a chance to get anything before Lainey and her partner had hauled her to their offices. She didn't even have her gun, but she figured it had probably been confiscated by now, kept under lock and key. Murder suspects didn't usually get handed weapons.
She could hear him walking behind her still, stiltingly, as if he wasn't sure of his place in this. She'd let him suffer, refuse to assign him a role out of the many he could take; partner, friend, shoulder to cry on. He'd refused her help when Alyssa had died, and now she was beginning to understand why. If you barricaded yourself off from everyone, there was less chance you'd break down. Maybe the Rottweiler had been a godsend; she hadn't given Lilly much time to absorb the shock of the news. It still hadn't fully sunk in, which was why Lilly needed to see him. She needed to convince herself he wasn't going to come walking through her door again, pizza in one hand, the other already held out to wrap around her waist as she kissed him. The anger was slowly giving way to cold, numbing grief, but she needed it back. Needed the pinpoint focus it brought her, the adrenaline, the thirst for revenge.
Pushing open the street level door that led directly down to the basement, Lil didn't hesitate before she clattered down the stairs. She could hear her breathing, harsh in the confined cement. She tried to slow it, rein it in.
"Looking for Joseph Shaw." Lilly let herself into the main autopsy room after her badge had got the bored guard to wave her through the security door. The medical examiner looked up from the spongey body he was examining; Lil didn't look too closely but she could tell from the stench it was a floater.
"And you are?"
"Detective Rush. I just need to see him. It's in relation to a case." Letting the lie roll off her tongue easily, she sensed the man's reluctance. It almost killed her to look professional right now, but she must have managed it convincingly enough as the medical examiner sighed, took his gloves off. He moved his hand along the rows of drawers before stopping at 083. Vaguely, Lil heard Scotty arrive in the room but her focus was on the rolling steel drawer as it opened. The sound was amplified by her senses, and she thought she could almost hear the sheet covering him moving with the breeze the opening drawer created.
"Joseph Shaw. Sixteen knife wounds. Bled out in a few minutes after one of the wounds hit a main artery…" The man's droning voice faded out until Lilly could only hear her own breathing, the ragged edges of it sharp as it caught in her throat on each in and exhalation.
He looked so cold on the trolley, so pale. She tentatively reached a hand out. When the medical examiner didn't reprimand her, she figured they'd taken all evidence off his body that they could find, and she wasn't going to contaminate anything.
His skin was chilly, almost clammy. His eyes had been taped shut and she guessed he'd died with them open; that they'd been held rigidly, unseeing, in the grips of rigor mortis. Her hand trailed down the side of his face, down to his neck. There was one knife wound that was visible above the level of the sheet and it looked deep, hollowed out. The edges were puckered, dark purple. She remembered now, that the dead could still bruise. Something about blood settling.
Drawing her hand back, Lilly bit her lip hard enough to draw blood, sucked at the wound. She needed to hurt. She needed to be in as much pain as he'd been when he died, to atone for the fact that she hadn't been there; that he died alone.
She bent quickly, pressed her warm lips to his cold, unanimated ones. A quick, breathed whisper in his ear and she stood, straightening her shirt. She was done; this wasn't Joseph, any more than she was the same Lilly Rush she'd been this morning. And someone was going to have to pay for that.
"Lil?" She passed Scotty on her way back out, ignored the question in his tone. Her sensed were returning and she could smell the sickly sweet odour of the floater cloying the air, the scent hanging over the room heavier than snow clouds. Footsteps behind her again, and she could sense Scotty following her once again, trailing in her wake like a lost puppy. Lil flipped open her phone as she climbed the stairs, ordered a taxi. She didn't have time to walk to her apartment; while the anger was burning, she was going to channel it before it dropped into a belly wrenching, soul shuddering grief that she'd have to work hard to claw her way out of.
"Lilly?" Scotty came up behind her as she stood on the curb, waiting. The operator had promised her five minutes and she gritted her teeth as the seconds crawled.
"I can drive you somewhere."
"I'm going home, Scotty."
"But…" He didn't want to tell her what she already knew about; had been picturing in her head. All the blood. All his blood.
"You want to help? Go home, Scotty. Just leave me alone."
"Lil, I know what you're going through-." She whirled and cut him off.
"Like hell you do. You and Alyssa? You were so close, I'm sure. Close enough that you didn't even try and catch who did it yourself. Close enough that you didn't mind getting caught up with my sister as soon as your precious girlfriend was out of the picture. Joseph and I-." Lil stopped as she realised she'd spoken his name; realised the bite and the misplaced hate she'd put into her words. She could always produce such maliciously venomous words when she put her mind to it. She could already see the look on Scotty's face; the same look that had come when she'd accused him of lying to her face, of seeing Christina. This time, though, he recovered more quickly, moved towards her. Lil turned around to the street again so her back was to him, waved an arm as the familiar colours of a taxi came around the corner. Just in time. She could feel his name, still hanging in the air. Rebiting her lip, Lil climbed into the taxi when it got there. Leaning forward to the driver, she gave her address before they were away. She didn't look back.
So, I know. It's a little AU, but it was screaming at me to be written. Please give me your thoughts.