Title: Sneaking Suspicions
Fandom: Cold Case
Pairings: Scotty/Lilly, with only Vera knowing it
Warnings: Mature themes: adult situations
Rating: PG-13 or T
Notes: I can't even pretend this isn't Scotty/Lilly anymore. I just enjoy writing Scotty's POV too much. To sum up, I couldn't help myself.
Suspicion always haunts the guilty mind. – Henry VI, Shakespeare.
There was something different. Something he couldn't quite put his finger on.
As a detective with more than his fair share of cases under his belt, Valens didn't have it in him to ignore the nagging feeling that something was not quite right. So he started with the basics.
Why did he think something was going on?
First, she was smiling more than usual. That was what initially made the eyebrow in his mind arch in question. It wasn't a bad thing, per say. Lilly was infinitely prettier when she smiled and smiling meant she was happy. That was good – good for her. Scotty was glad his partner was happy. Made the job and life easier. But still, it nagged at him. Where were the smiles coming from?
Then, she started leaving early.
Lilly Rush? Leaving early? That just didn't happen.
But it did happen. It happened a lot. Gradually though, so the only people who were aware of it were Lilly, Stillman and Scotty. The one and only time anyone else noticed was when they were in the middle of a case, everyone without previous engagements figuring they'd stick it out another two or three hours to lay the ground work for the morning crunch, and it had been Lilly – not Scotty or Kat or even Vera – who grabbed her jacket and said, "see you tomorrow," Stillman nodding at her on her way out. Everyone looked surprised. Everyone was surprised.
Except Valens. He'd been keeping track. It had been the ninth time she'd left before anyone else.
Self-reflection not being part of his normal day – though watching Lilly was taking up a more significant portion with every passing peculiarity – Scotty didn't ask himself why he knew that. He just wondered where she had to be that was more important than a case.
The woman who slept with the pictures of the victims on her bedside table had something more important to do than work a case. It just didn't make sense. It was as though a pod person had replaced his partner and he was the only one who noticed.
What really bothered him was that he didn't know why. It could have been the work of pod people, but Valens doubted it (though, the more she glowed with this new happiness, the less he felt he should completely discount it). It didn't occur to him to ask why it bothered him so much. It did, however, occur to Vera when he foolishly brought it up.
They were cleaning up their desks at the end of a long day, Miller and Jefferies and yes, Rush too already gone for the evening, stacking papers, throwing pens in drawers, hiding files, when Valens asked, purposefully casual, "you notice anything different about Rush?"
Vera answered at the exactly right speed for someone who had no interest in the question or answer. "Not really. Why?"
"She just seems different, that's all," Valens met Vera's eyes, trying to detect an underlying understanding, but Vera was indifferent just the same.
"How so?" he asked, mostly because he thought he should, though in his mind, he was already home, throwing back a cold one. Or a warm one. It didn't really matter at this point in the day.
"I don't know. Smilin' and leaving early. Stuff like that." Vera shrugged.
"Could be seeing someone," Vera replied, throwing out the suggestion Scotty had been contemplating for weeks now (he found a pod people invasion preferable), which he followed up with, "so?"
Valens didn't have an answer for that, not one that made sense, not even to him, so he shrugged and flicked through the files on his desk before tapping the bottoms of the folders in three sharp raps. "Just curious is all." He could feel Vera watching him and knew he'd been caught – at what, he didn't know – when Vera made that laughing grunting noise in his throat.
"Right," Vera replied, drawing it out sarcastically. Valens bristled at the word.
"I'm worried," he countered, arms thrown wide like he had no secrets, check his record dammit if you didn't believe him, and Vera grabbed the coat draped over his chair, rolling his eyes.
"If you say so." Vera weaved his way through the desks and Scotty knew, even if he couldn't see his face, that Vera was having a good laugh at his expense. And he didn't know why.
"You know Lil. She ain't exactly got the best taste in guys."
"Better hope not."
Scotty's head snapped up. "What's that supposed to mean?"
But Vera had already left the room, shaking his head and laughing as he went.
Valens realized that the only thing he hated more than not knowing something was when Vera did.
Scotty's personal crisis point had reached its threshold three weeks later, when Lilly giggled. Giggled. Lilly Rush Did Not Giggle. She laughed, she snickered, she palmed her smirks and her shoulders shook and tears came to her eyes when something was really funny and once, she had actually snorted, but never had she ever giggled.
Valens was certain of this.
The noise caught him so completely by surprise that Scotty had just stared at her, whatever joke that had caused it blotted out, to the point where Lilly became self-conscious.
"What?" she asked, smile fading, her posture becoming drawn in and defensive. Scotty shook himself slightly, eyes flickering off her to his desk and back up, shrugging.
"Nothing. Just never heard you do that before," he replied, not hearing the awe in his voice. Lilly smiled uneasily.
"You've heard me laugh." Scotty shook his head.
"No, I mean-," then he caught Vera's eye and revised what he was going to say, "never mind."
"Okay," she said, uncertainly, her attention drifting to Kat, who, having returned with Vera and a forensics report, was looking at both of them like they were a little too crazy to be allowed to handle loaded guns everyday.
Miller filled them in on what forensics had discovered – animal hair from a horse, common in a certain brand of toupees; blood from a convicted felony who had been in jail at the time; something about a hairless cat and a circus – Scotty wasn't really paying attention. There was a very clear hatred coming to the surface of his thoughts.
It wasn't the giggle he hated – that had been nice. Strange, but nice. It was making an equally nice loop in his head, which made paying attention to the discussion of their next moves harder than it should have. No, what was driving this angry red into his mind was not the giggle or the fact that she giggled – it was not knowing why she suddenly could.
And if that why was a person, he thought he might hate them too.
"Scotty, you coming?" Valens' attention returned to the discussion, at which point he realized he missed all of it. If the snippets he did catch meant anything, it looked like Kat and Vera were going to check in with one of Miller's contacts from her work in narcotics and they – he and Lilly – were making a trip out to a hair piece connoisseur's shop in Germantown.
Of course it was Germantown. Where else would a specialty wig store that made its merchandise out of horsehair set up shop? Just when this case couldn't get any weirder, it did.
It was unfortunate for Scotty then that they all ended up on the same elevator. Unfortunate only in that it meant Vera was there and Vera knew something that Scotty didn't.
And he decided now was apparently the time to gloat over it.
In that same deliberately casual way Scotty had employed unsuccessfully to probe Vera's powers of observation and found them to be unnervingly targeted, Vera waited until the elevator doors closed before he asked, "so, who's the guy?"
Miller and Rush exchanged looks, not sure who he was talking to and thinking it might be the other one, and Valens' jaw clenched, clearing his throat to cover the grinding noise. Kat and Lilly settled their wordless conversation (Lilly's shrug saying, "beats me," Miller's raised eyebrow asking, "you see what I have to put up with?"), at which point Vera leaned forward and looked pointedly at Lilly.
"Me?" she asked, incredulous. He nodded, a quick downward dip of his head, waiting. "What are you talking about?"
"You're acting different; figured it was a guy," Vera sniffed, looking at Lilly but taking a special enjoyment from the way Scotty, standing just behind her in Vera's field of vision, seemed to be grinding his teeth all the way to his shoulders.
"I am?" Lilly looked at Miller, thinking Vera must be imagining things, when she saw Kat's suddenly considering look.
"Now that he mentions it, yeah, you are." Miller crossed her arms and leaned back, facing Lilly more fully. "What gives, girl? You find a good one?"
Lilly took on a look of confusion, opening her mouth to answer-
Scotty's jaw popped, loud and painfully, causing everyone in the elevator to look at him.
And that's when Vera started laughing.
That's also when Valens realized Vera was starting to piss him off. He just wasn't entirely sure why.
The case wound up easily enough once they traced the wigs to the race track, linked it to the illegal gambling ring, found out there had been a smuggler involved who had a twin, who was the one who actually murdered the victim in a fit of passion. More and more, Valens realized it was always a fit of passion. The only calculated decisions people made seemed to be in trying to cover it up. They had to browbeat a confession out of the twin – the smuggler, not the murderer – who had helped dispose of the body, of course, because the story was never fully told without the confession and no cop liked an untold story if he (or in this case, she) could help it.
The team decided to meet for drinks after work, more to discuss how this one ranked in their top ten strangest cases than to celebrate a cold case successfully put to bed. Lilly mentioned she would be late, but there, and Vera asked her if she had to stop at home for her arm candy.
She stared at him, turning it over in her mind before she said, "I guess you could say that."
Scotty started seeing black spots in his vision.
Vera grinned. "Can't wait." Rush gazed at him, instinctively distrusting the glee on his face, adjusting the collar on her coat before putting her scarf on, and left the office. Vera turned his grin on Scotty. "Hear that? She's bringing a date."
Scotty sat suddenly and heavily down on his chair, feeling faintly dizzy. This was a good thing, wasn't it? Lilly dating? If it made her happy - which clearly, it did – that was all that mattered. Then what was the problem here?
Something was just not right.
Before Valens could probe this thought any deeper, he felt a hand clap him on the shoulder.
"Come on, I'll buy you a drink." Valens decided he needed a drink more than he needed to wipe the smirk off Vera's face and accepted his offer.
At wasn't until several hours later that any of them saw Lilly again. As soon as he had arrived, Valens had slammed two beers and was nursing his third when she made her appearance. What caught him – caught all of them, except Stillman – by surprise was that Lilly was not with a man.
Lilly was with a woman. A tall, pretty, brunette woman, maybe a handful of years younger than Lilly, but not so much that it was really noticeable.
She wasn't- was she? No. There was Kite and Joseph and Eddie and that guy, from before, with the bike. Why couldn't he remember his name? But then, maybe? Those things can change, maybe? And would that make it better or worse?
Better, Scotty thought. But indisputably worse.
Being at the end of the bar meant that Lilly and the woman with her had to go through everyone else before they would get to him, especially since Vera abandoned his stool next to Valens immediately so that he could meet her before they got past the door. Stillman, Miller and Jefferies all smiled and shook her hand, asked her how she was, but Vera – as soon as he was introduced, Vera laughed and looked directly at Scotty.
And Valens kept thinking, worse, so much worse. And still couldn't figure out why.
"Scotty." Lilly's breath ghosted over his cheek, her exhale of his name more like a gust of wind in her nervousness. "I'd like you to meet Maggie." Valens tried for a smile, falling short of sincere, which was made up for in natural charm, and shook the hand she offered.
"Oh, yeah? How do you two know each other?"
Maggie answered without hesitation, beaming from pleasure. "We're sisters."
Scotty's mind stuttered. "Sisters?"
"Half-sisters," Lilly hastened to correct. "On my- our father's side."
"Half-sisters. On your father's side," Scotty repeatedly stupidly, before it clicked. "Maggie, your half-sister." As the thought gained traction, a real smile appeared on his face. "So that's why," he said more to himself than either woman, but the self-satisfied way he said it caused them to exchange glances.
"Why what?" Maggie asked, adjusting her purse strap.
"Nothing, never mind," Valens replied, more relieved than he had any reason to be. "Sit down, I'll buy you a drink."
Lilly and Maggie took the barstools next to Scotty, Lilly perched between the other two, and Maggie told him about family dinners and game nights, while Vera told stories at the other end of the bar about things Scotty didn't know but Vera did, which didn't matter much to Scotty at the moment, now that he knew the why of Lilly's change. Lilly giggled and glowed and smiled and left work early because she had a family now. Finally.
And that made Valens feel a lot better.
The reason he thought answered the why of that was only part of it.
- END -