"Hey, Scotty." The bleached step was in between them like a beacon, reminding him of what she'd lost. Her eyes were more telling though; twin depths still pooled with hurt. He assumed her cheekbone had been bruised by Mark; it was a dusky yellow colour, looking like a dirty handprint across her skin. It had been almost a week since she'd been outside Mark's, a week exactly since Joseph had been found. The Boss had told them she was on department-enforced leave while the case was still being finalised. Scotty wondered whether it was just a cover, a convenient lie to prevent the rest of the team knowing that she didn't want to come back. Not yet. Maybe not ever. He'd never have imagined anything would end Lil's career as a detective, short of a bullet in the line of duty. But here she was in front of him, body bullet free.
"Just thought I'd see how you were going." She swung the door open wider to let him in. He wasn't the first one to come to her door. The Lieutenant had already seen her about taking leave. Even if the department hadn't asked for her voluntary absence, she might have called in all the holiday time she'd never taken so she wouldn't have to endure the stares and the quieting conversations as she passed. Jeffries had shown up as well, bringing her a small bouquet of flowers in their own vase. She'd taken them carefully, smiled automatically, felt nothing.
"I'm okay. You know. Just waiting until my leave is over. You working on anything interesting at the moment?" Scotty sank onto a couch as Lilly motioned to it, and looked around. There were no books lying open anywhere. The television was blank and he hadn't heard a CD stop as he knocked. From what it looked like, Lil hadn't been doing anything except sitting. He could barely begin to imagine it; after Elisa, he'd needed nothing more than to move around to stop all the thoughts catching up with him. What he should have said, should have done. He'd decided guilt settled more heavily in the motionless.
"We've gotta case. Woman bludgeoned to death outside a supermarket in the '60s. Only just started the job; we're still talking to family members. Tomorrow we get to track down anyone who was standing around outside. We'll have to take out an ad in the paper; remember where you were on the 16th of September, 1962? If you were standing outside the Blurther Mart of Pickering and Mountview, you're wanted for questioning." He was babbling and he knew it. When he looked up, Lil smiled automatically, but he could tell it never reached her eyes.
"Yeah," his tone was awkward. Again, he wasn't sure what to do. He'd lost Elisa, but he'd always found a part of her missing. He sensed Joseph had been there for Lil, all of him, as if it would last forever. Elisa was always poised for another hospital visit.
"DA says the case against Mark is strong." He moved onto the case, not sure if he should be treading this far into murky waters.
"Not strong enough to keep him out of a psych ward." She had a good point. Mark was likely to plead insanity, get sentenced to a hospital stay, convince them he was sane and be back on the street sooner than anyone who has taken a life should be.
"They'll do what they can."
"Always do." Her tone wasn't bitter but he sensed the resignation behind it, the battle half lost. Again, he wondered if she'd come back, what she'd do otherwise.
"Well, I'd better get back. Just thought I'd drop around." He'd run out of things to say; he and Lil had known each other longer than idle chitchat would permit, and that was what he was going to have to resort to.
"Thanks for coming around." She was polite, but made no move to keep him there, to want to pour her heart out. Then again, Lil's heart, if it was poured anywhere, had probably gone into the ground with Joseph.
"Yeah. Stay in touch, Lil," he spoke as if she was leaving, and it alarmed him. Was this a goodbye?
"Yeah. Bye, Scotty," the door was closed before he could wonder about it anymore. He waited on the step a moment, being careful to stay in the dark areas only, not the part where the blood had been. There was no further noise from inside, no radio, no TV. Sighing, Scotty left. He dealt with people whose lives had changed, dealt with death and murder and the callousness of the human soul and he remembered the anger, and the need for revenge, and even the sadness that still lingered, tangible, thirty years later. But rarely did he find the quiet resignation in Lil, the lack of fight coming so soon after a death. He wondered what it meant.
Lilly peered out the window, watched the Taurus drive away. Another day, another case. She would have assumed she'd want more details, want to be part of it even though the Boss had told her she wasn't back in until he said. But she didn't want to hear about it, didn't want to deal with people, to sympathise with them losing their loved ones when, finally, she could say 'I know how you feel' and really mean it.
It had been her dream to be a cop, to right the wrongs, and fix up her little bit of the world. To keep the bastards down. Now it seemed her dream was fulfilled, at least as much as she'd wanted. And it had gotten her lover killed.
She didn't know whether she'd ever go back, whether she could do what she'd done before when she wasn't the same person inside. She didn't want to know, not yet, didn't want to wonder what came after a dream.
At the moment, she just needed to remind herself to keep breathing.