A/N: More of my muse toying around with H:LOTS pairings, though admittedly Felton/Russert was canon. I haven't ever written Beau or Megan before, beyond a passing mention in other fics, so here's to hoping I've gotten it right this time. H:LOTS isn't mine, and this is AU, probably about two months before the events of 'Partners and Other Strangers' and 'Strangers and Other Partners', the two-part s5 finale, and running on the theory that Megan came home from France and ran into Beau before he died. Anyway, that's about all.
She can see in his eyes that he's tired.
It doesn't seem to be the normal sort of tired, either, the one that you can get rid of by a good night's sleep. Neither one of them have had that for a long time. Part of it is guilt, on her part, and the other part is all the things that they have seen. Both of them are murder police; former and current, she left, but he remained on the lines. It makes a difference to neither of them.
In the morning, she will go to do whatever it was that she came to do in Baltimore and shift for him will not begin until later in the day.
At the moment, this is all they have.
And they don't even really have this, Megan Russert muses, as she watches Beau Felton sleep.
In the morning, there is another life for him to go back to, and they will act like this never happened. He'll go back to solving murders, and she'll go back to playing the civilian, trying to forget about each other, but it isn't going to work. Megan is vaguely aware of the fact that maybe it is because she doesn't want to let herself forget him. And she wonders briefly if maybe Beau doesn't, either, before deciding that she doesn't want to think about it.
The voice in the back of her mind starts up again, warning her that this can't go on the way it is.
And almost as if on cue, Beau opens an eye to look at her.
"I can hear you thinking," he says. "What'd I do?"
Megan offers up a faint smile and shakes her head. "Nothing," she replies. "I was just thinking about how tired you looked when you got here."
He gives her a sideways look. "I'm not tired."
"I didn't mean physically."
"Oh." Beau trails off for a moment, and then, "Everything all right?"
Megan nods. "Everything's fine," she says. "Nothing to worry about."
And despite the possibility that everything could blow up in their faces, there really isn't. At least, not that she knows about.
It is this thought that makes Beau feel suddenly guilty as well, because Megan has been so far gone from Baltimore for so long that she doesn't know a lot of what's happened.
He doesn't want to tell her, either; that he and Bolander were suspended, that this time, Beth's disappeared with the kids and he's looked for weeks, months, even, and he still hasn't found them. He doesn't want to tell her that he's been pulled by IID, doesn't want to tell her that he's halfway out of the bottle and struggling to get back to where he wants to be.
She doesn't need to worry about that. In the morning, there will be nothing except the memory of this, and other nights spent like this even though they shouldn't have been.
"I don't really want to go back to France," Megan admits suddenly. "I'd rather stay here in Baltimore."
Beau bites back a laugh. "Somehow, I don't think that'll go over well."
"Caroline doesn't want to leave, either."
But they both know that she can't. Even if she wanted to, there is another life for her, as well, and for Caroline, one that they can't leave behind.
"Wish I could," Megan says finally. "I miss this place."
"There's not really much to miss. The winters are too cold, the summers are too hot, and every day, there's one person or another's blood on the streets."
"I know it. I miss being a cop. I hate having to show face at all these political events, and fundraisers and knowing that it's not where I should be."
"You look like you'd fit in."
"I'm always looking for the bad guy in the room. Can't help but think that I'm gonna be needed. I'm surprised I don't still carry a gun."
"Maybe you ought to."
"I don't think that would go over well."
Silence falls between the two of them and lingers. After a moment, Beau reaches out to brush Megan's hair back out of her eyes.
"So, what does Caroline think about France?" he asks. "Is she all right with it?"
Megan laughs, shaking her head. Her hair falls back into her eyes. "She hates it," she said. "Asks me every day when we're coming home, and hates the fact that the closest we'll get to Baltimore if we come stateside again is DC."
"That's not too far away."
"All of her friends are here in Baltimore. She's kind of having a hard time where she is right now." Megan trails off for a moment and sighs. "She's homesick."
"Well, yeah. Why do you think I don't want to leave? I'd much rather stay here, but like I said…"
There is, she thinks, then, as she looks at Beau and he looks back at her, something to be said for regret.
A couple of years ago, it might have worked.
And a couple of years ago, she wouldn't have to worry about the possibility that she's never going to see him again without knowing that she's really never going to see him again.
He wouldn't have to think about the possibility that there's a leak in the auto theft line, and that sooner or later, his cover's going to get blown and it's all going to come to an end.
Neither of them would have to worry about here and now and the fact that they really shouldn't be doing this.
In the morning, there will be regret, but only because neither of them found themselves in time to realize what they have here and run with it.
"I miss you, too," says Megan, drawing Beau back out of his thoughts. "I think you're what I miss the most."
This, she muses, when Beau stares at her, is something that she wouldn't have admitted to anyone but him.
"It might have worked, y'know," he says, and Megan gives him an amused look.
"Beyond the kids and the fact that you weren't actually divorced, you mean?" she asks mildly. "Maybe."
Maybe is a word that both of them have come to learn that it really means no, because they've both been murder police for too long to think that if they wait, it will come to them.
"That's the problem with this job," Beau says finally. "You wait too long and then it's gone, and there's nothing left."
"There's something," said Megan. "Just…not what we were hoping."
He gives a half-hearted smile, and turns onto his side so that he can look at her properly without having to turn his head.
"Sometimes, I think you and Caroline and my kids are the best things that ever happened to me."
Somehow, hearing this makes the thought of leaving tomorrow hurt that much more.
Megan turns away, briefly, if only to wipe at her eyes, because as she looks at the clock, she can see that morning is drawing nearer, and if she could stop time, she would.
Neither of them know that the next time she comes home, it will be for a funeral that happens to be his own. And neither of them know that until then, this will be the last chance they have to say what's really on their mind, but because they don't know, neither of them will say it.
At least not until he's tied down to a chair in the place that has been masquerading as his own and really isn't, and he thinks of her, and thinks of what might have been.
And not until she's standing over a closed casket, also thinking of what might have been, and of him, and wishing she hadn't been so hesitant the first time around.
But neither of them can see into the future, and so for now, both of them are convinced that this is where they are, and this is what they have.
"What is this, anyway?" Megan asks finally. "This thing we've got going right here, I mean. You think it'll ever be more than what it is?"
"Hope so," says Beau, in that way he has of saying things so that she can never really tell if he means it or not. Something inside her mind tells her that he does, but she continues on anyway.
"I have to go back tomorrow," she says, sounding resigned to this. "Maybe you'll be right one day."
And then there is silence between them, again, for so long that when she finally makes herself look at Beau again, he's half-asleep. But she knows that he heard her. And somehow, this makes her feel better.
So, she, too, settles back underneath the covers, on her back beside him, listening to him breathe for a long time before she finally drifts off as well.
When the alarm clock goes off, barely two hours later, Beau reaches out with his eyes still closed to shut it off.
The streetlights haven't yet gone off, because the sun's not completely up, and in all honesty, he really doesn't want to move, even though he knows he has to. There's still work to be done, a case to close, and maybe even a shot at getting back to Homicide, where he wants to be, when all of it is over.
It takes a moment for him to realize that something's missing. So he opens his eyes, slowly, because somehow, he turned on the bedside lamp without knocking it over, and then he turns.
Sunlight hits the empty side of the bed just as his eyes clear enough to focus on it. It is 6:34 on a Baltimore morning.
And Megan is already gone.