This was written before I'd seen any of the season 4 eps. So let's call it AU.
"Rush." She had thought Joseph might have called her, told her what plans he had for dinner. That morning they'd talked about doing something special about their eight week anniversary, but Stillman had called and told her he needed her in early. He hadn't let up on her yet, despite the time that had passed between her 'sick' day. She wondered whether he'd ever fully get over it; she'd apologised, but sometimes words weren't enough.
"Is that Lillian Rush?" She got that cold feeling in the pit of her stomach, a low uncoiling feeling that furrowed its way up her spine into the darkest thoughts of her mind. There'd been an accident. Joseph, her mother, Chris…
"Yes, it is. What's wrong?" She caught the glance from Scotty as her voice changed, worried, needing answers. She moved away, towards the door that led to the balcony.
"It's All Saints Hospital. We've got a Ray Williams in intensive care. There's no need to panic; he is stabilised, but he's been asking for you and you're listed as his next of kin." It hit her harder than she expected. Ray had always been the type to live fast; the Harley, the nomadic lifestyle he chose, the crowds he associated with, but he always seemed larger than life as well, like he was untouchable.
"I'll be there soon." Lil flipped her phone shut and walked to her desk. On the outside she felt calm, in control. On the inside she was shaking, imagining bloodied limbs, broken bones and bleeding insides. Motorbike accidents were always messy.
"I… Have to go." Lil gathered her coat off the back of the chair and slung it over her arm.
"Everything okay?" Scotty asked. Lil bit her lip, cast an eye over her desk to see she had everything. She debated about telling him, but decided against it. Her personal life had already been made public enough with the gossip that had come from the Joseph angle.
"Yeah. I've just got to be somewhere." Vera looked up from his file, obviously interested.
"You gonna be back?" Scotty asked. They were closing the gap on a suspect in a case, and she usually never went anywhere for this part, sensing the tangible interview in the not-too-distant future.
"Don't know." It depended how bad he was; how much he needed her there. As family went, for a long time they'd only had each other to rely on. It was a tough habit to break, probably why she was listed as his NOK.
"I'll probably have to have my phone off, but I'll try and call later." Then she was out the door, leaving Scotty and Vera to look at each other and shrug. Since the Joseph incident, Lil had been more than exemplary in her conduct; basically the same as she'd been before the misstep, but with interest. It had gotten her closer to Stillman's good books, but she still wasn't quite there yet, and they each entertained the same thought; must've been something big if she needed to leave.
"Lilly Rush. Here to see Ray. Williams. He's in ICU." Lil gave her name to the nurse at the desk, took the time to turn her cell off while he ran his name along a list on a clipboard.
"Room 306. Moved from ICU to observation. Down the hall on your left." Her pace slowed as she drew closer to his room. Last time he'd been back, nothing had been resolved between them. It was an open relationship that never seemed to fully die; every time she saw him she still felt that same teenage flicker of lust. Still loved how familiar his mannerisms, and his eyes, and his lips were to her. Now she had Joseph, something that had burgeoned quickly. He was almost too good to be true, but he was still new; still unchartered territory. As exciting as it was, there was something familiar about her and Ray; they'd tried something serious, but had been pulled in different directions. She wouldn't say they'd ever broken up because there was never a conversation about 'staying friends.' She didn't know what to call them, but it was more than friendship.
"Hey." She finally worked up the courage to step around the door, brace herself for the scene. He was sitting up, monitored by machines that hummed softly in the background. There was a drip in one arm and a cast on his other hand. His hair was still scruffy but one of his eyes held a puffy circle and it was clear to see a cheekbone had been broken. His greeting had come from split lips and he was sitting stiffly, as if his insides hurt.
"Hey." Dropping her bag next to the visitor's chair she moved closer to him, reached out to touch his cheekbone gently. He bit his lip against the slight pressure and she let her hand drop.
"What happened?" She was expecting news of a motorcycle accident; that his favourite bike was now an ornament on a tree or a telegraph pole.
"Few guys decided they needed to rearrange my face."
"You got in a fight?" She moved back to the visitor's chair, sat down. It had been one point they'd had contention over. He was always too ready to walk over to whichever guy in the bar had been staring at Lil while they were in there together. Always too ready to take it outside, even when he didn't have the courage of alcohol to back him up.
"I was helping a friend. No good deed." He sighed, coughed once. The sound was deep and rattled his lungs, thick with blood. Lil pulled the chair closer to his bedside. Despite his track record, she believed him. He was the kind of guy that was too loyal to the people he cared about.
"How are you feeling?"
"Like I've been hit by a goddamn train. And they want me to stay in for at least a week, until they sort out the internal bleeding." Lil reached for his hand, held it loosely. He was a constant in her life; the only person she'd been able to count on to at least listen, if not come to her rescue if she needed him. She never had, but the fact that he would be there in a second if she called always made her feel more secure. She hated hearing about internal bleeding, or extended hospital stays. She just wanted to know that he was going to get better.
"But you're going to be okay?"
"I think so. The doctors seem optimistic." He half shrugged, winced as his shoulders moved back into place.
"How long have you been here?"
"Not long; few hours. Long enough for them to do every test there is; and then some." He looked despondent, and Lil remembered how much he hated hospitals. His mother had died of cancer when he was eleven, and every day for eight months he'd come in to hospital to see her. He told her it was the smell; antiseptic, old gravy, death.
"Went to St. Josephs. Needed surgery. I've been asking them, but no one's telling me anything."
"Ray Williams? I'm here to take a statement." A blue clothes came around the door, clipboard and pen in hand. Ray coughed again, and Lilly squeezed his hand.
"Would you mind-." The man looked at Lilly, motioned towards the door. Ray cut him off, wouldn't let her hand drop from his.
"She stays." He didn't bring her job into it to earn himself brownie points, and she was glad. She didn't want to be a detective; a superior to this officer. She just wanted to be a woman sitting by the bedside of an injured guy. Ray had never tried to get her to use her job for him. Chris had pestered her to call in favours to wipe the fraud charges, and her mother always mentioned the unpaid parking fines she accrued, but Ray never spoke of it. Except to tell her he was proud of her for making it to homicide.
"Full name?" Having to stand since the only chair in the room was taken, the cop propped an arm under his clipboard and proceeded to look uncomfortable.
"Occupation?" He ran through the boring standard questions before moving on to taking a statement.
"So you and Mr. Summerville were outside your Harley shop when four men on motorbikes rode up and proceeded to beat both of you?"
"That's about it." Ray shifted in bed, bit his lip to draw blood from the split.
"And you don't know what the fight was about?"
"It's between Charley and the guys. I've got no idea what it was about. But I wasn't going to watch them bash a friend to death in front of me." A frown from the officer, another few notations on the statement sheet and he slid the bed tray over, set the clipboard down.
"Read over this and sign if you're satisfied." Reluctantly, Ray let go of Lilly's hand and picked up the clipboard, bringing it closer so he could read it. Picking up the pen awkwardly with the cast, he tried to sign but ended up with a messy scrawl.
"You'll have to witness." Lilly leant over to take the pen out of Ray's right hand and read through the statement herself. It was standard, text book. Every new police officer gets to take them so much that the guy across the bed could probably write one out in his sleep. She remembered those days; the grunt work the blues get stuck with from the plain clothes and higher up officers.
"Lilly Rush?" The officer said as he took the statement back. Lil looked at him, nodded.
"You took out that serial killer a year back, right?" Suddenly he was bright eyed, interested in her.
"George Marks. That was me." Lil reclasped Ray's hand, internally screaming. She hated being the detective who took out the serial killer. It reduced what still came through in every nightmare down to a simple sentence, leaving out the details. How he looked, when he asked her about the late night walk to the store. How he looked after she shot him, three crimson blooms opening on his chest. How he'd been betrayed by his mother as well, and that their similar backgrounds still made Lil question how she ended up on the right side of the law.
"That was unbelievable. They're still talking about it in-." Again, Ray cut him off.
"I feel like I'm about to die. Do you think you could save the fan party?" The officer faltered, nodded, suddenly contrite to the man whose hand was being held by the woman who took out the serial killer.
"Well… We're still taking statements from everyone else, but we'll let you know how everything goes." Ray nodded, and the officer gave a last smile to Lil, left. She leant on the bed, rested her chin on their hands.
"Thanks." She meant it. He'd picked up on her feelings about the guy practically idolising her for killing another human. She'd only mentioned Marks once, briefly, in a midnight conversation they had about why her hair was down now. Ray had said he liked it, however the change happened; reminded him of when they were young and she wore her hair down and out so it flowed from under the bike helmet, silky blonde.
"So there were four of them?" Ray nodded, closed his eyes. Lil could see the brief conversation with the officer had tired him out; hollows were slowly forming beneath his eyes and his usually tanned skin was pale around his face.
"Hey Ray, how are you feeling?" The perkiness left the nurse's sentence as she caught sight of Lilly, pulled up close to the bed. It was obvious she'd expected him to still be alone. She busied herself checking Ray's temperature, blood pressure and drip level while he lay still, eyes still closed. The only time he acknowledged her was when she left a pill cup in front of him, the contents of which he swallowed dry.
"Panadol. You're due. Two now, another two in four hours." Writing notes on the chart, she left the room after shooting a competitive look in Lilly's direction. As soon as her footsteps had faded down the hall, Ray cracked an eye open to look at Lilly.
"Guess we're even now. She's been hovering in a more-than-friendly way since I was admitted." He shut the eye after acknowledging Lil's smile. Ray was the kind of guy women actively pursued. He was annoyingly good looking and laid back enough to let them think that if they fell at his feet, he'd react. Lil had let him do the chasing, and she was sure that had worked in her favour. Then again, when she'd met him she'd just turned nineteen and she was working in a café trying to scrape together savings to get herself out of there. He'd come in every day for a week, made sure he sat in her section and left tips that he hadn't been able to afford. She'd finally relented and tucked her skirt around her on their first Harley ride. Four weeks later, they'd left town together.
"They're not giving you morphine?"
"If you've had any kind of addiction, they don't give you the heavy stuff." Lil was silent for a moment. He'd been an alcoholic for a while. It had started when they were together; more than five beers a night was normal. Then he moved onto vodka, scotch, rum. He'd managed to stay vaguely sober for a while, before they parted, but he'd told her later that after she went to the academy he fell back into the cycle, finally booked himself into AA. Not that she'd ever blamed him; everyone had their vices. His was just closer to the surface and easier to fulfil. He'd never neglected her, and alcohol had never brought out any inner cruelness in him. He'd actually been more clingy, telling her he loved her with spirit stained breath.
"What's the time?"
"Almost five." Lil had to spin her watch on her wrist to see the face. She needed to take a link off the chain, but she'd never gotten around to it.
"Hm." Another silence fell into the space between them, cosy and familiar. Lil leant further forward on the bed and watched his breaths slow, deepen as much as his injured lungs would allow. She hoped he was finding some kind of relief from the pain.
"Homicide." Scotty picked up the phone on Lilly's desk as it rang.
"Hey, it's Joseph. Is Lilly around?"
"She had to leave a few hours ago. Something personal. You want to leave a message?"
"Nah. Thanks, though." Scotty exchanged good byes before slowly hanging up. He looked across at Vera.
"That was Joseph. Looking for Lil." Vera's eyebrows uplifted.
"Thought that was why she would've left?" Scotty shrugged.
"Guess not." They'd tried her cell but, like she'd predicted, it had been off. Kat and Jeffries were picking up their suspect and Scotty had wanted to tell her an interview was on, if she wanted it. Stillman had noticed her absence almost as soon as it had arrived and he inquired about her whereabouts. Scotty and Vera had both shrugged, found the files they were looking at extremely interesting, assuming something had happened with Joseph. They couldn't come up with any other reason why she left, even though they'd tried. Vera had suggested her mother, but Scotty had vetoed that idea. Then he'd mentioned Christina, but Vera had shot that down in flames. That left Joseph as the caller, but Joseph himself had just managed to kill that myth.
"The longer I know her, the more mysterious she gets." Vera stood as Kat and Jeffries entered, missed Scotty's nod. He knew what Nick meant; Lil was an enigma, wrapped in a riddle. The more that was revealed about her, the harder it was to fit the pieces together.
"Hey. Another message. I'm worried. Call me… Love you." Joseph flipped his cell shut and turned to the cats.
"Guess your mother is going to be late." He didn't know what kind of personal business she'd have. Although she was still less than forthcoming with information about her life, he sensed her family was as much a horror story as his had been and that, in her personal life, he was it. She was too driven, too passionate about her work to have time for anything else. Not that he minded. Her ambition had drawn him to her in the first place; it had been the reason she'd met him inside his own house with a gun in her hand. And every time he thought of her like that, eyes cautious, hand steady, he found himself loving her more.
"How long was I asleep?" Ray shifted, paused as flames ran along his insides. She was still there, still holding his hand. She'd moved into a more comfortable position, leaning forward on the bed.
"A few hours. How do you feel?" He would have shrugged, but from his previous efforts with moving his shoulders, he wasn't going to attempt it. Instead he lifted his cast hand, motioned a so-so gesture. She nodded, ran a hand back through her hair. It settled back into place perfectly, part falling to the side. He hadn't expected her to come. She was his next of kin, but that was because he didn't know anyone else that he would trust with his life. She was the one good thing in a life filled with mistakes. Times like these, when he was near her, he couldn't believe he'd ever let her walk out of his life. Not that it had ever been forever. They'd remained in each other's lives at various points, the latest of which had shown him that though they'd both changed, it wasn't enough to bring them full circle.
"Dinner." A different nurse came in; obviously the shift had changed or she was exclusively on the food cart.
"Crap." Lilly said. She suddenly remembered Joseph; that there were tentative plans for doing something special tonight.
"I've got to call someone." She left Ray to the mercy of the nurse, who was affixing a serviette to the front of his gown to give a bib effect.
Outside, the sky was dark purple and the air had taken on a chill that could be seen in people's exhalations. Lil waited until her phone was showing full signal then dialled her message service. Scotty, telling her there was a suspect in custody. Joseph, wondering where she was. Joseph again, worrying more than wondering. Joseph, definitely worrying. Finally, Scotty, telling her the interview had paid off. She returned the call to his number.
"Hey, it's me."
"We got him. Full confession, forensics will probably back it up. It's enough for the ADA anyway."
"That's great… Stillman say anything?"
"Not really. Just wondered where you were. Told him it was personal. Joseph called, too." Lilly smiled at the subtle question. Of course they'd assume she'd taken the afternoon off for something Joseph-related. She'd already given up a day for him, and a first Thursday.
"I've still got to call him. I'll be in tomorrow."
"You okay?" Scotty sounded slightly worried and Lil remembered him coming to see her when she'd gone AWOL. It was clear he'd been perturbed about her 'sick day', and she didn't blame him the worry now. She rarely took a day off, and had so much leave saved up that she could take a month off and still pay the bills.
"Yeah, I'm fine, Scotty. Got a… Friend in hospital. They're gonna be okay, but…"
"Yeah." A pause. "Well, I'll tell Stillman you'll be in tomorrow."
"Thanks." Lil hung up, dialled Joseph.
"Hey. Are you okay?" He sounded relieved to hear from her and she allowed herself a smile at the worry underlying his tone. It was nice to have someone at home, someone worried about her.
"Yeah. Got a call; old friend in hospital."
"Do you want me to come down?"
"No. That's okay, it's not as serious as they first thought. I'll tell you about it when I get home." She didn't want to get into a Ray conversation. He was her one variation from ordinary life. She'd seen the team's expression when a guy on a Harley had been looking for her, and Scotty's face when she'd climbed on the back of his bike. Not to mention the talk that had stopped as soon as she'd walked out of the interrogation room when Ray had already departed at her pointed request, looking hurt.
"How late do you think you'll be?"
"I don't think I'll make it for dinner. I'll just get something from here. Sorry."
"There's tomorrow night… I'll see you later. Love you."
"'Bye." Lil flipped the phone shut, held it thoughtfully. She was glad he hadn't insisted that they had to meet for dinner, glad he hadn't made it his business to find out who her friend was or how they were doing. But at the same time, some small part of her resented the little he needed. He was just so damn happy to be in her life, he never questioned anything. She'd been called in to work several times, late, and he'd sat up to watch her go, not resenting her job for intruding on their time. It was practical, and understanding but at the same time she wanted him to hate her being away, ask her why she couldn't just pass this off to someone else and stay with him. Not that practical and understanding was completely negative, but sometimes she thought he trusted her too much, more than she trusted him. It created a power imbalance that she thought she was the only one feeling, and it was frustrating.
"Make your calls okay?" Ray was drinking a juice when she got back. His dinner, as unappealing as hospital food tended to be, was sitting almost untouched beside him and she knew that as soon as the nurse had left the room, the serviette would have come off.
"Yeah. I'm… Well, I'm seeing someone. We were meant to go out to dinner tonight." Ray nodded slowly, sipped some more juice. It felt like she was telling him she'd cheated on him; an awkward silence arrived between them that she hoped he'd break. Tell her he was happy for her.
"Serious?" He asked. Lil shrugged, uncomfortable. She didn't want to tell him that Joseph told her he loved her every day, or that when she woke up in the morning and saw him, she felt safe.
"I think we're living together." Joseph still had some things out at the farm, but most of his small collection of clothes and books were now at Lilly's. The cats had made themselves comfortable as well, causing some concern for Olivia and Tripod who probably entertained visions of their top dog spots being taken over. Ray nodded again, tried to put his juice down but couldn't reach. Lil took the glass, set it on the table.
"He's a good guy." Lil said. "He makes me… Happy." And he did. Despite his ease with letting her get called in to work at odd hours and have things she didn't tell him, he made her happy. He made her smile and laugh, and he let her hold the remote.
"Well, then, I'm happy for you." Ray chewed on his lip for a minute. Although he'd given her the exact words she'd wanted to hear, Lilly still felt like he had more to say on it.
"You probably should go." This wasn't what she'd expected. She'd expected a sentence about what Ray would do to him if he ever hurt her. She'd heard Patrick had ended up getting in a fight after she left him. She'd never asked Ray about it but when he showed up a few weeks after that he'd looked self satisfied enough that she'd unofficially assignment him the credit.
"But I could stay a-."
"I'm pretty tired." He looked tired, but Lilly knew it was an excuse to get her out of his room. She collected her bag, fishing her scarf out to wrap it around her neck. There was no use arguing with him, especially not when he was this banged up and didn't have the strength.
"Do you want me to come see you tomorrow? After work?" Ray shut his eyes, shook his head gently.
"Well…" Lil put her bag on, waited for him to say something. When it was obvious he wasn't going to break the silence, she walked to the door, hesitated before she left.
"'Bye." She said softly. Ray finally looked at her.
"It sounds like you're happy, Lil. And that's good. But I can't be just friends anymore without thinking about what we had. And that it didn't work the way we planned." They'd planned moving upstate, kids, a future together.
"Okay." This word was as soft as the goodbye she'd offered him.
"Thanks for coming, though. Guess visiting me in hospital is more enticing than a ride on my bike." He gave her a sad smile, and she returned it. It wasn't the words, it was the unsaid of it all; that if she was happy, and if she'd made her choice, this might be the final goodbye. Truth was, Lil wasn't sure she'd decided one way or their other, which wasn't fair to Joseph or Ray. But while Joseph lived in oblivion to this choice, Ray knew she was struggling. Even before Joseph was in the picture, it was between him and her job, her life of self imposed solitude.
"I was worried." Lilly opened the door, stepped into the hallway. As she looked back, Ray had closed his eyes again. Quietly, she closed the door and walked out of the hospital. Turned towards home, towards Joseph, probably waiting up for her, probably going to be understanding about the late hour she was going to arrive. Sighing, Lil shifted her bag, tightened her scarf. Not seeing Ray for so long had made her convince herself he was out of the picture completely. But the phone call today, with news that he was in hospital… The immediate worry dampened thoughts of him fading into the background. But while he was still riding his Harley and getting into fights, Joseph was cooking her dinner and massaging her shoulders when she got home. It should have been an easy decision; should have been already made, since Joseph was living at her apartment. But somehow, in the way he always had, Ray effectively managed to put a tailspin on things. And this time, she wasn't sure what the outcome would be.