Author's Note: Welcome back to the "Every Time Two Fools Collide" Universe! A few notes about this one…
Author's Note: Welcome back to the "Every Time Two Fools Collide" Universe! A few notes about this one…
I have a full-fledged sequel to ETTFC in the works, dealing with lots of L/S relationship stuff, a few cases, and some other fun surprises. This story is more of a bridge between ETTFC and the true sequel. It takes place in between the two stories, but it doesn't serve to advance the plotlines. Plot advancement is still to come, and hopefully you'll find it worth the wait.
This is my first attempt at a story that's written exactly like an episode, so the personal lives of the detectives, though present, will take a back seat to the case. Lilly and Scotty are still a couple, and Kat and Vera are…well, they haven't shared with me yet exactly what's going on with them, but we'll see. As such, you'll see a few L/S couple-y moments, but this story really isn't about them, it's about the case.
Now on to the case: This story is also a crossover with Grey's Anatomy, in that the victim and the suspects are creations of Shonda Rhimes and (sometimes) happily exist over in that universe. I'm just borrowing them for a bit. Many of the flashbacks are taken directly from Grey's Anatomy episodes, and if there is interest, I can provide YouTube links to those.
Anyway, I'm doing my usual trick of borrowing characters from other shows, but, as always, I hope to do it in such a way that you need not have seen the show for this to make sense. If you're just a fan of Cold Case, you'll enjoy the mystery. If you're a fan of both, you'll probably get a few more of the humorous elements. If you're just a fan of Grey's, hopefully you'll forgive me for killing off one of your characters. It simply had to be done. Besides, I never really liked her, anyway.
Finally, a bit of a disclaimer: I've taken on some added responsibilities in my Real Life, which might make my updates a little less frequent than you're accustomed to, but I hope you'll find them worth the wait!
Okay, enough rambling. On with the story.
Chapter One: A Hard Day's Night
June 30, 2005
The party was just getting started. Drinks were flowing freely, the music was playing, and bright colors adorned the room. Assorted young people, mostly in their twenties, though some were clearly older, wandered to and fro, talking, laughing, looking around the room at one another. At first glance, it seemed similar to a college party, but closer inspection revealed a key difference. These people, however, instead of tossing pick-up lines, seemed to be checking out the competition.
In the center of the room, a tall, shapely blonde wearing a satiny floral miniskirt extended her hand to a young man of similar age who, she could tell just by looking, was uncomfortable wearing dress clothes. She knew he'd be out of them the second he hit the door of wherever it was he lived.
"Hi! Izzie Stevens, Washington," she cheerfully introduced herself.
The young man's eyes raked up and down Izzie's curvaceous form, simultaneously checking her out and sizing her up. This was his competition? Nah…couldn't be.
"Alex Karev, Iowa," he replied automatically, not quite sure how to react to this one.
"This is nice, right?" Izzie enthused, having decided before she even got there that the best way to meet the competition was to be sweet as honey now, then kick their asses in the operating room later. "They throw a mixer for the new interns."
Alex laughed slightly. "It's just an excuse to get us all happy and drunk before they torture us," he replied cynically. While Izzie giggled nervously in response, Alex's gaze traveled over the room, noticing a tall, silver-haired, African American man schmoozing with some other partygoers, a sissy-looking guy with curly hair who was standing on his tiptoes to get a better look at…something, Alex wasn't sure what. Over in a corner, a curly-haired Asian chick looked like she wanted to strangle the guy she was staring at, and a blonde in a hot black dress laughed politely at something someone else had said.
Turning his attention back to Izzie, Alex responded with another slight laugh, then gestured to her with his beer bottle before taking a sip. "What program you in?" he asked casually. No way in hell was this chick a surgeon like he was.
"Surgery," Izzie answered matter-of-factly, meeting his gaze with a wide smile.
Alex lowered the beer bottle from his lips and glanced at Izzie in disbelief. "Seriously," he replied.
"Seriously," she returned brightly.
Alex stared at her momentarily, raking his eyes up and down her body again.
"What?" Izzie demanded.
Caught off guard, Alex fumbled around for an answer. "I—I just had you pegged for…gynie or peds or something," he explained, still not quite believing what he'd just heard from the blonde.
Izzie met his gaze. "You don't think I can be a surgeon?" she asked in disbelief. "I can be a surgeon," she asserted. She was used to people not taking her seriously. One look at her blonde hair and big boobs, and she was instantly pigeonholed as a vapid, giggling bimbette whose only hope for making it big was through her body, not her brain. She'd been underestimated her entire life, and she thought that finally earning that medical degree might change some minds…but seeing the casual disdain with which this Alex Karev regarded her made her realize, with a sinking heart, that he wasn't going to be any different. Not that he looked like surgeon material, either, she thought bitterly. He'd probably been a jock in high school.
"Surgery's hard-core," Alex warned with a lopsided grin.
"I'm hard-core," Izzie replied, not missing a beat. She congratulated herself on her ability to remain outwardly calm, even though she was seething on the inside.
"You won't last the first year, babe," Alex declared smoothly, taking another swig of beer. If this was his competition, surgical residency at Philadelphia Grace Hospital would be a piece of cake.
Izzie glared at him for a moment as he finished off his beer, scoffing silently at his prediction. People doubt you all the time, she reminded herself. And they're wrong. They're always, always wrong. Taking a deep breath, she shrugged off her encounter with Alex. She'd prove him wrong soon enough.
They ended their conversation, and Izzie headed for the refreshments table, eagerly selecting a couple of brownies from the dessert section. They weren't nearly as good as what she could whip up, given some time and the proper ingredients, but they were brownies, and brownies were always welcome. While there, she bumped into a sensitive-looking young man with dark, curly hair and green eyes, whose name she learned was George O'Malley. They spent the rest of the evening chatting like old friends, and at the end of the party, she shrugged into a bright pink coat as she prepared to leave with George. Out of the corner of her eye, she spied Alex, that jackass from earlier who she'd almost managed to forget about, leaving the party with his arm around some slutty-looking redhead and a lascivious gleam in his eyes. Squaring her shoulders, she repeated her promise to prove Alex wrong, then dismissed him from her mind, finished putting on her coat and turned back toward her new friend, George.
"Isn't this great?" she chirped, bubbling over with enthusiasm. "Tomorrow, we're gonna be surgeons." He agreed with a nod, and the two of them headed out of the room and disappeared into the night.
The blonde doctor's body sprawled awkwardly on the wet pavement, a dark crimson stain slowly spreading over the front of her light blue surgical scrubs, her doelike brown eyes staring up at the midnight sky, wide and unseeing. A gloved hand reached down, lifted her stethoscope from her neck, and running footsteps mingled with the wail of ambulance sirens as they disappeared into the night.
A detective sighed as he closed the lid of the evidence box marked "Stevens, I." This case had gone absolutely nowhere, like so many of them did. It was cases like this that he hated the most: leaving families without closure and doers out on the street. That murdering scumbag was out there somewhere, he knew, and as he shelved the box with great reluctance, he vowed that somehow, someday, Izzie Stevens' killer would get his just desserts. But they had more pressing issues, more recent cases, cases with better leads, and they were short-staffed as it was. So, they had to let this one go. With another sigh, the detective tapped the box gently, then turned to walk back out into the squad room.
Detective Lilly Rush sat at her desk on a bright spring morning, dashing through some forms and sipping coffee from her mug, noting wryly that the office brew was up to its usual quality. It tasted terrible, as always, but she hoped it would provide her with enough rocket fuel to finish filling out the paperwork from their most recent case. They'd gotten the confession last night, but she and Scotty had been too…distracted…to finish filling out the forms afterward. With a sigh, Lilly took another sip and tried in vain to concentrate.
Suddenly, she felt a warm, familiar hand on her shoulder, and love flooded her heart. Scotty. For four years, he'd been her partner. Well, they'd been friends, too, most of the time, anyway, but then last December, they'd taken a road trip to Nashville, gotten drunk their last night in town, and had somehow wound up in bed together. She'd thought at the time it was the dumbest thing she'd ever done and tried to keep it from happening again, but that had proven impossible, and, to Lilly's complete and utter surprise, she and Scotty had fallen in love. Their plan to keep their budding romance a secret from their nosy co-workers had been successful for only a short time, and once it was exposed, their boss, John Stillman, had informed them, in no uncertain terms, that although they could both remain in the squad, they could no longer be partners. Although it had been sad at the time, Lilly viewed the end of her professional partnership with Scotty as a small sacrifice for their personal one, and, well…it had been worth it. Lilly thoroughly enjoyed working with her new partner, Will Jeffries, and their pre-existing friendship had only grown stronger. Scotty and his new partner…well…Lilly smiled as she thought of him working with Kat Miller. They'd become friends, sure, but there was an added dimension to their partnership; one of almost a big sister-little brother dynamic that had made watching the two of them…entertaining, to say the least.
Lily smiled broadly as she turned to face Scotty, and his heart soared when he saw her. That thousand-watt smile…that was what he'd first noticed about Lil through his haze of scotch that night in Nashville. That smile was what had first started the unexpected, but not unwelcome, desire flooding through his veins, and what had ultimately proven to be his undoing. Upon returning to Philadelphia, he'd been shocked to discover that he'd fallen for her. He'd tried desperately to hide his feelings, but they'd rapidly grown far too strong to keep to himself, and even now, he still occasionally felt the need to pinch himself to make sure that this whole thing wasn't just some really long, incredibly realistic dream. He couldn't believe his luck, couldn't quite wrap his mind around the fact that, somehow, Lilly Rush had fallen in love with him, too. Oh, sure they'd hit a couple bumps in the road; what couple wouldn't? But, to his pleasant surprise, they'd worked through them, like adults…like people in love should. As he looked down at Lilly, taking in her blonde hair, stunning blue eyes, porcelain skin, and that heart-melting smile, Scotty realized, once again, how happy she made him.
With a contented sigh and a loving gaze, he handed Lilly a fresh cup of coffee, this one cardboard with a colorful logo splashed across the side and a plastic lid perched snugly on the top.
"Real coffee?" Lilly asked in surprise, taking the cup from him with deep gratitude. "I knew there was a reason I keep you around," she said teasingly. She took a sip, and her smile widened even more.
"Triple Americano, just like you like it," Scotty replied with a lopsided grin. "Figured I prob'ly owed you one after I kept you up so late last night."
Lilly blushed slightly, but couldn't hide her smile, and she knew without even looking that Nick Vera, sitting to her right, wouldn't let that comment slide without adding one of his own.
"Doin' what?" Vera asked knowingly, his trademark smirk painted across his face as he glanced up at Scotty.
"Shut it, Nick," Miller ordered, glaring over at him from where she sat. "Some of us don't wanna know details."
"I sure could stomach all this cheeriness better if I weren't stuck drinkin'…this," Jeffries complained with mock severity, staring into his coffee mug with disgust.
"Don't worry, I brought enough for everyone," Scotty replied, turning away from Lilly and distributing the cups.
"Caramel macchiato," he announced, depositing a large coffee cup on Will's desk.
"Pay you back," Jeffries replied automatically.
"No need," Scotty answered cheerfully. "Coffee's on me."
"Well, all right," Jeffries said with a broad smile, a sense of brotherly affection washing over him as he raised the coffee cup to his lips.
"Grande mocha latte with skim milk, extra whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles," Scotty continued, handing a cup to Miller. His new partner's particular preferences when it came to her coffee had thrown Scotty for a loop several times, but he was pretty sure he'd nailed it this morning.
"Nice job, Man Candy," Miller congratulated him. "You finally got it right."
Scotty couldn't help the cocky grin that crossed his face. "I always knew your coffee order," he gloated, "just liked gettin' it wrong on purpose to see the look on your face."
"Uh-huh," Kat answered him, her eyes twinkling with mischief despite the withering glare she was giving him.
"And last but not least… a cup of regular, boring-ass coffee for our purist over here," he finished, as Vera took the last coffee cup from him.
"Hey, thanks, man," Vera replied with a sense of surprised gratitude. He took a sip, finding the bitter brew the perfect complement to the donut he'd been munching on. He'd managed, yet again, to grab the last donut out of the box that morning, much to Kat's chagrin. He took another bite of the donut, tossing a triumphant glance in her direction, which was met, of course, by a dark glare from her. He chortled slightly, then turned his attention back to Scotty.
"Gotta say, I like this side of you, man," he remarked.
"Yeah? Why's that?" Scotty asked, arching a brow.
"Never bought us all coffee when you were single," Vera smirked.
"Yeah, well…I'm turnin' over a new leaf," Scotty replied with a shrug.
"Valens in love," Vera continued thoughtfully, as Scotty sat down at his desk, popped the lid off his own coffee cup, frowned into it for a moment, then fished a coffee stirrer out of the drawer in his desk where he kept a steady supply, having learned from years of experience that the people at the coffee place never seemed to be able to remember that the swirly was as essential to coffee as the steamed two-percent milk and the freshly ground nutmeg, and stirred his coffee, studying it intently.
"Obnoxious as hell, but he buys us coffee," Vera remarked, shrugging as he started to take another sip of coffee. "Guess it all evens out."
Scotty shot his colleague a brief glance of skeptical amusement before raising the coffee experimentally to his lips. He tasted it thoughtfully, then smiled with satisfaction and glanced up to see Lilly watching him, repressed laughter twinkling in her deep blue eyes. His high-maintenance coffee habit never ceased to amuse Lilly, and he knew it. Meeting her eyes with a wickedly lascivious glance, he took the stirrer out of the cup and stuck the end of it in his mouth, then toyed with it a little while grinning at his girlfriend mischievously.
Lilly supposed she would have gotten used to Scotty's brazen workplace flirting by now. It was never out-and-out inappropriate, but Scotty, ever the adrenaline junkie, insisted on toeing the line, much like he was doing now. But despite her vast experience, his smoldering gaze startled her so much that she dropped her pen, and it clattered to the floor. Vera glanced up, noticed what was happening, and suppressed a chuckle as Lilly bent down to retrieve the fallen pen.
As she started to raise her head, Lilly suddenly realized that she was staring at a worn pair of black Converse sneakers. Glancing up, she noticed that the sneakers were attached to a waifish young woman with a long, dirty blonde ponytail, with which her free hand fidgeted nervously, her pale green eyes glancing around the room uncertainly, and a plastic bag from Philadelphia Grace Hospital in her other hand.
"Are you guys …detectives?" the woman asked nervously.
"Yeah, Philly Homicide, in the flesh," Lilly answered with a smile. "Lilly Rush."
The woman extended her hand automatically.
"I'm Meredith Grey," she replied softly, shaking Lilly's hand and continuing her nervous perusal of the room, looking for all the world like someone who'd give absolutely anything to be anywhere else but where she was.
"You got somethin' on a murder?" Scotty asked, interrupting Meredith's reverie.
Meredith looked briefly startled, like she'd almost forgotten where she was, then smiled ruefully and let out a shaky sigh.
"My friend…Izzie Stevens…she died last year. Killed. Murdered…whatever," Meredith began haltingly, then took a deep breath, glanced around the room again, and continued. "They came around, asked some questions, but never really got anywhere…they said it was a robbery…but then this morning…George…he came back from the cemetery where he goes sometimes to see her. Izzie, I mean. At the…thing…or whatever. I don't go. I hate cemeteries. I see enough death as it is. It's…just part of the job…"
"What exactly do you do?" Vera asked, glancing up at Meredith suspiciously.
"I'm a surgeon. Well…surgical resident. At Philly Grace. And I haven't seen a lot of death…but enough. I almost died. Twice, actually. I got blown up, and then I drowned, and then Izzie…" she trailed off with a sigh.
Lilly tried hard to follow the young doctor's rambling. "So this friend of yours…Izzie…she was a surgeon, too?"
Meredith nodded, then got that faraway look in her green eyes again as she stared at the ceiling. Coming here…this was even harder than she'd thought it'd be, but she really didn't have a choice. Not if she had any hope of…
"You got somethin' for us in that bag?" Scotty asked.
Meredith glanced down at her hand as though she had forgotten she was holding anything. "Oh…yeah. This morning, when George came back…he had…" Tears slowly filled her eyes, and she wordlessly handed the bag to Lilly.
Peeking inside, Lilly discovered a stethoscope.
"Is this Izzie's stethoscope?" she asked, lifting it out of the bag and studying it carefully.
Meredith nodded. "They couldn't find it…you know…after…but it was on her grave this morning…George found it…and he goes every week…and it's never been there before…"
Lilly turned the stethoscope over in her hands, then gave it to Scotty, who noticed an inscription on the back. "IRS?" he asked, peering up at Meredith.
"Isobel Rose Stevens," Meredith supplied. "So…does this help?" she asked, shifting her weight nervously.
Lilly considered Meredith for a moment. "Well, it's more than they had last year. We'll look into it."
Meredith smiled with relief. "Thanks." She turned to go, then stopped and looked back at Lilly. She needed to say what she'd come to say.
"Izzie was…well, we were all…family. The interns, I mean. Cristina and George and Izzie and Alex...they were my family. My dad left, and my mom…well…she did the best she knew how…but….and then she died, right after my fake mommy…" she laughed nervously. "I'm rambling again. Derek says I do that a lot."
Lilly smiled sympathetically, finding herself suddenly able to relate to this waif of a surgeon. "Who's Derek?" she asked kindly.
Meredith smiled, the first spark of happiness Lilly had seen from her.
"My boyfriend," Meredith explained, her cheeks flushing slightly pink. "And he's been great through all this. But…ever since Izzie, things have been…weird…with the residents. We've all been sniping at each other…all the arguing, and the evil misery…"
Meredith trailed off, her voice suddenly thick and clogged with tears. She swallowed hard, then looked up at Lilly once more.
"My family's falling apart," she said plaintively, "and maybe…if we could put Izzie behind us…just maybe…I can get my family back."
Lilly was touched, and she considered the young surgeon carefully. A stethoscope wasn't much to go on, but the original detectives hadn't had it last year, and they'd definitely solved cases on less than that. And Meredith's plea about family, well…Meredith's real family sounded just as fractured as Lilly's, and as she glanced around the room, Lilly realized "family" would be a pretty accurate way to describe them, although she'd never really thought of them like that before. But she took in Vera, polishing off the last of that donut and smiling triumphantly at Miller, who had given up glaring and resorted to rolling her eyes and muttering something under her breath that started with "Fatass" and ended with "ass kicked," and Jeffries quietly sipping his coffee and studying Meredith Grey thoughtfully, Scotty, who was still pondering the stethoscope, and their boss, John Stillman, who sat in his office filling out some paperwork , Lilly realized how deeply unsettling it would be to have something like this happen to them. Startled, she realized she couldn't bear the thought of anything happening to one of the detectives, and the rest of the squad being hopelessly splintered as a result.
Lilly set her jaw with determination as the familiar thirst for justice and desire to give a family closure surged through her veins. She knew better than to make promises, though, so she fixed Meredith with a cool, professional gaze and gave her standard answer. "We'll take another look, see what comes up."
"Thanks," Meredith said again, with a slight, relieved smile, then turned around and left as quietly as she'd come.
Lilly watched Meredith leave, and as she returned her eyes to her desk, she noticed Scotty watching her with a mixture of love and admiration. She knew, without him even having to say anything, that he'd seen the look on her face, the one that said she was taking a case, and was going to solve it, come hell or high water. Meeting his eyes, she smiled slightly.
"Let's put this girl's family back together," she suggested, and he nodded in reply.