All characters belong to the BBC.
Spoilers for Series 8 ep. 'Endgame'.
Dr. Grace Foley shrugged herself into her coat and stuffed several files into her bag, before slinging it heavily over her shoulder. It had been a long day and the only thing sustaining her was the prospect of a hot bath and an early night. She stacked the books she had been using and took them over to her bookshelf, situated at the back of the room; not for the first time she wished she had her comfy old office back. It didn't help that she had to walk past it every time she went into the lab. Grace gave a small sigh, it didn't really matter - she was used to making the best of a situation.
'See you tomorrow, Boyd,' called Grace, as she moved to ascend the staircase leading to the upper floor. She hesitated when there was no answering reply and glanced in the direction of his office. Pivoting on the spot, Grace stepped over towards his door and pushed it open.
'I said, I'll see you tomorrow, Boyd.'
She was rewarded with a brief flicker of a gaze in her direction and a deep grunt of acknowledgement. He had his feet propped up on his desk and Grace observed the small measure of whiskey beside him with interest. Ordinarily she wouldn't have let this tableau give her pause, but lately Boyd had been so much more himself that whenever it became clear he was worried or preoccupied with something, Grace made it a point to try and draw him out. Although 'try' was very much the operative word, while he had been more forthcoming in recent months, it didn't preclude any instance of him telling her exactly where to go.
Mentally shaking away her fatigue, Grace moved a step or two inside the office.
'What are you brooding about?'
There was no point mincing words where Peter Boyd was concerned.
He twisted his head to look in her direction and scoffed loudly. 'I am quite plainly, not brooding.' He grimaced on the last word as if it had left a nasty taste in his mouth. 'I am merely indulging in a moment of reflection.'
Grace noted the flippant wave of his hand and the smile that didn't quite reach his eyes.
'So, what are you reflecting about, then?'
Grace lowered her bag to the floor and slumped elegantly into the chair opposite his desk. A low groan filled the room and Boyd rubbed a hand wearily over his face.
'I thought you were supposed to be an expert in reading body language? I can't help but feel that I'm exhibiting all the signs of wanting to be left alone, and yet, here you are.'
Grace smiled airily. 'Yes, Boyd, here I am. Well, you said yourself, I'm an expert in reading body language, and right now I think you are worrying about something. You've been uncharacteristically quiet all day.'
Grace picked at the length of her coat, rearranging the way it draped over her knees before aiming an expectant look at the man across the desk. Boyd glared at her for a moment and Grace could tell he was about to launch a fiery rebuttal to her observation. As he opened his mouth, however, he hesitated and instead heaved a resigned sigh. Once again, a hand moved to his face and he spoke in a heavily put upon manner.
'What's the point, you always see right through me…'
Grace sat patiently as he expelled a few frustrated, unintelligible mutterings, although she did catch something about a 'crystal bloody ball' but feeling magnanimous, she let that comment slide. He fell quiet and Grace allowed the silence to elongate, sensing that Boyd needed to order his thoughts before speaking.
After a minute or two he favoured her with a quick glance before turning his eyes to his hand resting on the desktop.
'Do you ever feel, I don't know, just, well old, sometimes, Grace?'
Grace blinked, not at all expecting such a line of thought. She'd imagined it would have been something to do with their latest case.
'I'm fast approaching sixty, I mean, sixty; where has the time gone? There are days when I feel every one of my advancing years.'
'I can't imagine you feel like that often, you have more energy than is strictly fair. God knows there are days when I could gladly throw in the towel and opt for the tranquillity of retirement.' Unbidden, the memory of her latest visit to her GP swam to the forefront of Grace's mind and she swallowed uncomfortably. Christ yes, she knew what it was like to feel tired, both physically and mentally.
Something in her words seemed to resonate within Boyd for he abruptly lowered his feet to the floor and swivelled in his chair to face her fully.
'You're not going to retire on me, are you, Grace? We're the only ones left!'
Grace allowed herself to be faintly amused by his earnestness. 'The only ones left?'
Boyd nodded vigorously. 'Yes, of the original team, we are the only ones left.' A shadow passed over his features as he continued. 'Has it really been nearly ten years since the unit was set up? Seems like only yesterday we were standing on top of that rubbish dump, don't you think?'
Grace hummed quietly in agreement. 'We've certainly had our ups and downs as a team over the years.'
Boyd drained the contents of his glass. 'Just a bit.'
'You know, Boyd, it's probably the right time for Spence to move on.'
Boyd had been reluctantly supportive of Spence's departure from the team, professing to understand the DI's desire to further his career in the Met. Grace knew that Boyd would not want to be the one to stand in the younger man's way, but she could now see that it had affected him more than he'd previously let on. Perhaps she should have anticipated it, although in her defence, her own mind had been pretty preoccupied lately.
'Yeah, I know, it's just weird not…' he trailed off and suddenly fixed her with a calculating expression. 'Hang on, you avoided my earlier question, you aren't planning on retiring, are you?'
'No, no, I'm not planning on it, so don't worry.' Grace smiled encouragingly, but she felt an uncomfortable twinge inside her. No, she wasn't planning on it, but in the recesses of her mind lingered the possibility that she might have no choice. Retirement through ill health, God that was a depressing thought. Boyd's strident tones drew her attention back to their conversation.
'Good, that really would be the icing on the cake, otherwise.'
At the brief quirk of his lips, Grace suddenly found she couldn't hold his gaze. 'Ah, do you mind...?' She gestured to the whiskey bottle, hoping it would distract him from her agitation.
'Of course, I'm sorry I would have offered but I know you're not a fan of the stuff.'
'You're right, but suddenly I'm feeling rather maudlin and could do with a pick-me-up.'
Grace took the proffered glass and sipped at the liquid, enjoying the burn as it travelled down her throat. She felt guilty keeping her news from him; he deserved to know, but God, she wasn't sure she would be able to say it out loud without breaking down. Not now, she decided, there would be time enough when he wasn't in such a melancholic mood and she had more courage.
'I would apologise for my contagious mood, but you rather brought it on yourself, imposing yourself upon me as you have.'
Grace laughed weakly. 'Charming.'
'I dread retirement, Grace,' began Boyd after a time, contemplatively leaning back in his chair, 'what the hell am I going to do with my time? I'm not the most popular officer in the Met, no doubt the powers that be will be all too glad to pension me off when the time comes.'
'That is when you do all the things you couldn't do when you were working - hobbies and stuff.'
'We've known each other for many years now, Grace, since when do I have any hobbies? Can you see me pottering about an allotment? Pissing my time away on the golf course? Sitting on my arse in a bingo hall? It's all right for you, you have your books, consultation work, lecturing, whatever.'
'Well…well, I remember you enjoyed those model planes a few years ago, maybe you could take up building scale models of - ' Grace broke off at the incredulous look Boyd was giving her and chuckled. 'Yeah, I can't see you doing that either.'
'Exactly! Ugh, if you ever see me closeted in my spare room surrounded by a model train set, you have my permission to put me out of my misery.'
Grace bit her lip as an image of Boyd wearing the requisite old-fashioned train driver's cap, surrounded by a mass of rails and model trees, swam in front of her eyes. No, that wasn't him at all.
'I don't know then, Boyd, you'll just have to keep soldiering on here for as long as possible. It's your own fault for marrying yourself to your job.'
'Oh, and you aren't married to yours?' He looked at her appraisingly.
'You said yourself, it's different for me. However, there's not much call for decrepit policemen.'
Boyd chuckled quietly. 'Oh well, I don't have to worry about it right now.'
Grace nodded distantly. God, would she even have a retirement to look forward –
Grace stood up abruptly and gathered her bag to her, unwilling to conclude her line of thought. Boyd looked up at her in surprise.
'Hmm? Yes, yes, it's, ah, getting late and I should be making tracks - long day and that.'
'Of course,' agreed Boyd, with only a trace of a frown.
Grace buttoned her coat, mainly to give her hands something to do. 'You'll think about going home soon, as well?'
'Yeah,' he answered, sighing slightly. 'See you tomorrow, then.'
'Bye,' said Grace quietly as she exited the office and all but scurried up the steps. It wasn't until she reached her car that the she felt the tension drain from her body. She was being ridiculous, she didn't even know for definite yet – the results wouldn't be back for several days - she might not have…she might be fine. Optimistic thoughts couldn't quite mask the sickly feeling of persistent dread that had settled within her though, and Grace wasn't sure anything could.
'Kat, have you seen Boyd?'
The young detective looked up from her computer. 'Um, he said he'd be out all morning, but would be back by lunch time.'
'OK, thanks.' Grace seated herself in her usual spot and stared unseeingly at her papers. Why did he have to be out? Just when she'd worked herself up to speak to him. If he wasn't back soon Grace knew she'd talk herself out of it. Piecing back together her concentration, Grace opened a file and began to read. Half an hour later, the man in question came down the steps. Grace immediately slapped the file shut, having only managed to get through about two pages. Boyd headed into his office and Grace forced herself to wait a few moments before following.
When she could take it no more, Grace walked over and pushed the door open slightly.
'Boyd, I need to speak…' She trailed off when she saw his shocked expression. There was a cardboard box on the table and Grace looked to the contents of said box, laid out before him.
'Oh my God, is that a finger?'
Grace approached the offending object in disbelief. 'Who on earth would send you that?'
Boyd looked at her with wide eyes. 'Linda Cummings.'
Grace couldn't help but blanch. Boyd pushed the note towards her and Grace read it with an increasing sense of foreboding.
'What are you going to do?'
Boyd was silent for a few moments as he contemplated the box. When he did speak, Grace couldn't help but be surprised.
'I…well I think I should send it to Spence and his lot – we don't know that it's a cold case, after all.'
It relieved Grace to no end that Boyd wanted to stay away from Linda Cummings, the woman was obviously perversely fascinated with him.
'I think that is the best course of action, Boyd.'
Their eyes met and Grace could see her own concern reflected in his dark eyes. However much they both might wish it, they both knew that this would probably not be the last they heard from Linda Cummings. Clearly she had some sort of motive in specifically sending the finger to Boyd. They were probably just delaying the inevitable.
Boyd began gingerly wrapping the finger back up and placing it within the confines of the cardboard box.
'What was it you wanted when you came in, Grace?' he asked, distractedly sellotaping the box shut.
'Oh, yes, I just wanted to tell…' Grace stared at the box for uncomfortably. 'Um, ah, actually I just though I'd better remind you that I'll be going to Copenhagen, next week.'
'All right,' he nodded, still preoccupied with the box.
'I'll just, um, leave you to it.'
Grace shut the door behind her and closed her eyes in frustration. Linda Cummings changed everything; she couldn't tell Boyd, not right now, anyway. God, she would have to tell someone though, for her own sanity she had to speak to someone about what was happening to her. Moving quickly up the stairs she knew she had one option.
The lab door slid open and somewhat warily Grace entered, pulling on a white coat as she did so.
'Yep?' came the reply, as the scientist popped her head up from where it was bent over a microscope. 'What can I do for you, Grace?'
'I was wondering if we could talk for a minute?'
Eve straightened, giving Grace her full attention. 'Of course, are you all right? You look a little pale.'
Grace stared at the pristine white tabletop for a moment. 'No,' she began quietly, 'no, I'm not all right.'
'I'm…' Grace stuffed her hands into her pockets to hide the sudden tremor in them. 'I'm going into hospital next week -'
'Hospital?' breathed Eve in surprise.
'Yes, you see, I found a lump…'
Comprehension instantly dawned on the face of her companion and Grace gave a wan smile. Eve sat down heavily on a nearby stool.
'Oh, Grace, what, I mean, can…'
Grace knew what the young woman was getting at.
'It's all right, well it should be. They're optimistic they caught it early, I may not even have to have chemotherapy…well I'll find out after the operation.'
Eve looked rather shell-shocked.
'Do you mind keeping it to yourself for the time being? Boyd thinks I'm off to a conference in Copenhagen.'
'You mean you haven't told him?' queried Eve with raised eyebrows.
Grace shook her head. 'No, I mean, I was going to, but something's come up that's made me think twice. It's a potential case – you'll probably hear about it soon enough – but Boyd'll need his wits about him for it and it won't do for him to be worrying unnecessarily about me. Of course, perhaps I'm flattering myself here, maybe he wouldn't worry at all.'
Aware that she was babbling, Grace bit her lip.
'You know he would, Grace,' said Eve quietly.
'I know.' Grace rubbed at her face tiredly. 'I just don't want any fuss, you know? I just want to deal with it.'
Eve smiled gently.
'It's quite funny how thing's work out, actually. I really was supposed to be going to Copenhagen in the next couple of weeks, and had arranged for someone to stand-in for me. She's coming on Monday now, so there we are, it's all sorted, just like that.'
There was quiet for several moments as both women sat absorbed in their thoughts.
'I'll have to tell him at some point, of course, conferences don't go on for weeks, after all,' commented Grace with a rueful quirk of her lips.
'No,' sighed Eve sombrely. 'You'll let me know if I can help, won't you? Taking you to the hospital, anything really.'
'Thanks, Eve, that's very kind of you.'
'Don't mention it,' murmured Eve, with a gentle smile.
Monday dawned and with it the confirmation of Grace's fears. Spence arrived demanding that Boyd take back the box from Linda Cummings and she knew that things were about to get messy. For Grace, the timing could not have been more maddening, the team would be dealing with a dangerous psychopath while she was to be confined to a hospital bed, with nothing but her worries for company. The only consolation was her luck in getting Jackie to cover for her, she had done a lot of research on Linda Cummings and Grace was sure she'd be able to provide Boyd with the guidance he needed.
'Have a good flight, Grace,' called Boyd as he ushered Jackie in to his office. Grace could only manage an answering nod as she gathered her things together to leave. She could see them through the window, already discussing the case and Grace was suddenly awash with self-pity. It should be her in there; for the first time she regretted not telling Boyd the real reason she was going away. His casual dismissal left her feeling rather despondent; it was as if some completely irrational part of her had been hoping he'd work it out for himself. It was indeed irrational and rather unreasonable of her to think such thoughts. She only had herself to blame.
Grace breathed deeply and exited the building – she had an appointment to keep.
Grace closed the newspaper with an annoyed snap. God she was bored. She looked at her watch for the umpteenth time and sighed. She'd only been at the hospital for a few hours and already she was going insane. How she wished they would just get on with the operation, instead of making her sit around for hours on end while they monitored God knows what. Plus she was starving. She looked at the machine she was hooked up to forlornly – she couldn't even go for a walk.
Reaching into her bedside table, Grace pulled out her phone and stared at it speculatively. Technically she wasn't supposed to switch it on, but well, she only wanted to see if she had any messages. The screen flared to life and Grace frowned deeply when the notification flashed up. There were a number of missed calls from Boyd and two voicemails. She would have to get in contact with him soon; otherwise he'd wonder where the hell she was. There was also a message from her daughter - Grace had assured her there was no need to fly half way around the world to see her, but she would anyway. Grace switched the phone off and shoved it back into the drawer.
Eve had notified her of what was happening with case and by all accounts things were progressing pretty rapidly. The case files she had brought caught Grace's eye, but she already knew them inside and out. What was Linda playing at? What did she want with Boyd? Grace had to admit she was worried and she wondered if she should get in touch with Jackie at some point. Listlessly, she picked up her newspaper again and turned to the crossword, it would distract her mind for five minutes, if nothing else.
A knock at the door caused her head to snap up abruptly. Grace immediately reached up to remove her glasses, as if concerned that she was seeing things. No, it definitely was Boyd hovering in the doorway. Well this certainly was a surprise. Grace felt unaccountably self-conscious as Boyd walked in, perched as she was in the bed with the truth of her predicament all around her. The man himself seemed a bit uncomfortable as he casually surveyed the breadth of the room, avoiding her until he sat and had no choice but to look at her.
'Why didn't you tell me?'
Grace had been expecting this question, but now that she was faced with it, she wasn't sure what the answer was. Or at least, she knew, but wasn't sure how to explain it to Boyd. Instead she opted for the simple option.
'I didn't want any fuss.'
Grace felt that it was one weight lifted off her mind, the fact that he now knew. He was here and she could speak with him face-to-face, warning him against playing Linda's games uppermost in her thoughts. She noticed the faintly awkward look on his face as he searched for something to say and Grace smiled inwardly. She knew exactly what to do to break the ice.
'Boyd, I've been thinking about the case…'
Two hours - all she had left to wait was two hours and then she'd be in theatre. Now the nerves really were getting to her. Grace lay back against the pillow and closed her eyes, willing herself to relax. She wasn't sure how long she lay there, lost in her thoughts, but in reality it hadn't been long at all until the nurse coming into her room with a wheelchair distracted her. Grace was surprised, were they preparing her for the operation already?
No, they were not. Her breath left her lungs in a painful rush when she realised just who her 'nurse' was. Grace could only briefly register her surprise and confusion when Linda Cummings leaned over her and grasped her upper arm in a forceful grip.
'You will co-operate, Grace,' hissed Linda, pulling out a syringe from her pocket and brandishing it with a smirk. 'You get me?'
With mounting dismay, Grace nodded dumbly.
As Linda bundled her off to God only knows where, Grace frantically tried to work out what on earth the woman wanted with her. She had an inkling that it was all going to come back down to Boyd, and that filled Grace with a deep-seated worry.
They arrived shortly at a deserted building, which only served to heighten Grace's confusion.
'You're going to have to walk up the stairs.'
'Linda, why are you -'
'Quiet. You'll soon understand.'
A chill travelled down Grace's spine as she looked at the face of her captor – there was no emotion visible whatsoever, just utter cold detachment. Grace did as she was told. They had traversed several flights of stairs when Linda motioned for her to enter a large empty room. Grace's breathing was already irregular after the long climb, but it was a struggle to get it under control when she saw the equipment set up. Two laptops, a web camera, and, well, Grace knew what the last machine was. She'd seen it at the hospital.
'That's right, Grace, but it'll be up to Boyd if we use it or not. Now sit.'
Grace sat in the wheelchair once more while Linda bound her hands to the arms of the chair.
'Don't want you making a bid for freedom and missing the fun, do we?'
Grace bit her lip; she'd not be able to get out of this.
'By the way,' commented Linda airily as she switched the laptop on. 'The syringe is full of water.' She pressed the plunger and Grace fought to suppress a flinch as the liquid came darting out. 'We're saving the good stuff for her.'
Linda gave a self-satisfied nod towards the screen and Grace reluctantly looked.
'My God, is that Penny Coulter? What do you need with her?'
'Oh, Grace, all in good time, first thing's first, though.'
Grace watched apprehensively as Linda dialled a number on the second laptop. She couldn't say she was surprised to see Boyd's face appear on the screen, but her stomach certainly dropped in resignation. When the camera was trained on her, Grace could only shout a warning to Boyd. At the same time, however, she recognised the futility of it. If anything were certain, Boyd would not leave her to her fate without a fight.
Boyd broke the connection on the phone and Linda turned to her with an arrogant expression.
'He'll ring back. Now as for you, we don't want you making any more noise.' Grace tried to protest, but it was clear Linda would not be talked out of anything. The gag was placed in her mouth. 'Just enjoy the show, Grace; we're going to see if Boyd will trade Penny's life for yours. She is the woman who killed his son, after all.'
Linda turned back to the computer screen with a smirk, while Grace felt physically sick. In her mind, things were beginning to fall into place, although exactly where Penny Coulter fitted into Luke's death, she wasn't sure. All she knew was that she was going to be helpless as Linda provoked Boyd into murder. How Grace wished she'd caused a scene at the hospital, regardless of whether the syringe contained something deadly or not, at least Linda's plan would be foiled and Boyd wouldn't be in the position he would shortly find himself in.
He wouldn't be able to go through with it, would he? No, Grace was quite sure he wouldn't. A small traitorous voice in the back of her mind reminded her that with the right provocation Boyd had the potential for great anger. Linda had the right provocation, Grace realised - the death of his son - his one greatest regret and constant source of pain. Vaguely aware that Boyd was already on his way, Grace frantically sought for a means to derail the situation; there was nothing.
Of the next few minutes that followed, Grace was sure every single moment of them would be etched into her memory forever. She'd be able to recall the intense hate she felt; hate for the woman who's machinations had callously contrived for Boyd to revisit the place of one of his most agonizing memories; to have him discover the truth of his son's death from a carefully placed photograph. She'd be able to summon the acute pain she felt at watching him struggle with himself, watching him hold the syringe to Penny's neck and then to his own. She'd be able to remember precisely how she fought against her bonds, wishing she could shout for Boyd not to do it.
Perhaps most of all, she'd be able to recollect the sudden release of tension she experienced as Boyd forcefully crushed the syringe and angrily ripped the camera from the wall and the screen went black. Well, then it didn't matter what she would remember because it was clear that it was all over – the end. Linda was already tending to the machine that would pump a deadly cocktail of chemicals into her veins, but Grace felt oddly calm.
Was this the moment of clarity people are sometimes said to experience when facing imminent death? She knew her last thoughts were going to be of her daughter, wishing she could have spoken to her one last time, and of Boyd, knowing that ultimately, he would feel responsible.
Grace couldn't hear what Linda was saying to her. She didn't struggle or try to cry out; if this were the end, then she would accept it with dignity. It was enough to know that in the end, Boyd had not succumbed to playing Linda's game.
She closed her eyes as Linda pressed the needle into her arm, once the drip was attached it would be over.
Grace jumped violently as the door crashed open and it took her several moments to assimilate what was happening around her. Linda had fled out of the room and Boyd was removing the needle from her arm and the gag suddenly gone from her mouth.
'Are you all right?' he demanded briskly.
Still dazed, Grace nodded and watched helplessly as he took to his heels and fled after Linda. Then Spence was there, brandishing a gun, and Grace could breathe again.
'Go after him!' she urged, brushing off his concern for her.
Grace let her head sink onto her chest and she heaved several shaky breaths. One minute she was prepared to die, and the next, she was saved. Oh God, oh God, oh God, she was alive. A tear escaped out of the corner of her eye and down her cheek. She had to pull herself together; it wasn't quite all over yet. She could hear distant shouts coming from outside and she wondered what was going on. Frustratingly, her bonds had yet to be untied around her wrists. There was nothing she could do but wait. An art, to Grace's consternation, she realised she was getting increasingly practiced at.
After what seemed an age, Grace was aware of both Boyd and Spence slowly re-entering the room. Grace immediately noted that Linda was not with them. Had she got away? But how, they were on the top floor…oh dear, Grace could now make out Boyd's expression and it was one of complete shock.
'What…?' was all she could squeeze out.
Boyd said nothing as he came up to her and wordlessly untied her wrists, before collapsing heavily into a nearby chair. Grace looked to Spence, who finally spoke after an uncertain glance in Boyd's direction.
'She's gone,' he said quietly, 'jumped off the roof, Boyd managed to grab her but…'
Grace turned to Boyd in concern.
'An ambulance is on its way for you Grace.'
Grace nodded at Spence, before looking to Boyd once more, tentatively saying his name. His eyes flickered for a moment, and when he did speak his voice was rather flat.
'Spence, will you go and arrest Penny Coulter, she's just through those doors and to the left.'
Spence set off and Boyd stood up, looking in disgust at evidence of Linda's madness.
'What a twisted, twisted bitch,' he muttered quietly. 'Are you really all right, Grace? She didn't hurt you?'
'No, no, I'm fine,' assured Grace, 'although I wouldn't mind getting out of this place. Can we go and wait outside?'
'Yeah,' nodded Boyd, 'can you walk all right.'
Grace didn't reply but made to stand. She thought for her moment her legs would be too shaky after her ordeal, but Boyd moved to offer his arm and with his help, they moved towards the stairs. There was so much to say, but Grace didn't know where to start. Her companion also seemed reluctant to speak; the shock of it all was sinking in no doubt. She was content to continue their descent in silence, comforted by the knowledge that they were both alive, but at the same time aware that things were still far from OK.
When they stepped outside they were greeted with the sight of Spence leading Penny Coulter into a police car.
'She murdered my son, Grace.'
Grace could only look at him, unsure of what to say. 'Boyd, I… what happened with Linda?'
'Not now, eh, Grace? There'll be time enough for all that,' he gave her a small smile and a reassuring pat on the forearm. 'Your ambulance is here.'
Grace grimaced and stared into the distance. 'I don't want to go back there.'
She hadn't really meant to say it aloud, and she wished she hadn't when Boyd's gaze snapped to hers in concern.
'Don't worry, I will go back, of course, it's just, well you know…'
Boyd inclined his head slowly. 'Yeah, I know.'
Grace now could see Spence directing forensic officers around the side of the building and it occurred to her that they were going to where Linda lay on the ground. Grace shivered violently.
The ambulance came to a stop and Boyd led her over to it. 'It'll be all right, Grace, after everything that's happened today, how could it not be?'
Grace tried to give him a genuine smile, but she wasn't sure how successful she was. 'Will you be all right?'
'Don't worry about me, concentrate on yourself. Once I'm finished up here, I'll come to the hospital.'
He hadn't answered her question, but that wasn't a surprise. Grace was soon bundled into the ambulance and the doors shut on Boyd. Alone with just the paramedic, the full significance of what had happened hit her, and Grace struggled not to cry.
Grace had only been back at the hospital an hour or two when Eve and Kat came in to see her. She received a tight hug off both of them and Grace felt immeasurably better at seeing them.
'Boyd and Spence are still busy sorting things out with the Commissioner,' explained Kat.'
Grace nodded; she'd expected it would take a while. 'Where's Jackie?'
Eve shrugged. 'I think she doesn't want to risk the chance of running into Boyd. He made no bones about what he thought about her.'
Kat shared a look with Eve that seemed to say understatement.
Grace simply stared at them both. 'I'm sorry, I've no idea what you are on about.'
'Oh,' said Eve, surprised. 'Well, ah, it turns out she was in contact with Linda Cummings, and she told her all about your illness, which hospital you were in, Boyd's son...'
Grace was dumbfounded for a moment. 'Oh God, her book,' she sighed, as comprehension dawned.
'Boyd was livid when he found out.'
Grace could only grasp one thing – Jackie had betrayed her confidence. She'd been a fool to trust her.
'I know people shouldn't speak ill of the dead, but I can't help but feel the world will be better off without Linda Cummings,' commented Kat.
'I don't care if you speak ill of her,' muttered Grace, flippantly. 'I mean you should have seen what she did to Boyd.' Grace shook her head in disbelief, 'it was so…well I can't think of a word that does it justice.'
'Spence told me she nearly took Boyd over the edge with her.'
'What?' gasped Grace, looking wide-eyed at Eve.
Eve bit her lip as if deterred by Grace's obvious agitation. 'Apparently Boyd lunged to grab her when she jumped, and the momentum nearly took him over too. Spence got there in time to hold him back.'
Eve shook her head vehemently. 'I'm sorry, I thought you knew.'
'No,' breathed Grace quietly, and leaned back against her pillows, that scenario really didn't bear thinking about. Her eyes fluttered closed for several moments, and it was an effort to open them again.
'We'll leave you to rest, Grace, you must need it after today.'
'Thanks for coming, girls, I admit I am rather weary.'
They left and Grace buried her head into her pillow. She was wrung out, but whether sleep would come peacefully, Grace wasn't sure.
Some time later, Grace began to slowly wake up realising that against the odds she had managed to get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep. Her room was dark, apart from the thin glow of light from the corridor shining around the closed blinds. Peripherally she was aware of an odd noise in the room. Grace sat up in bed, now fully awake, and listened again. It was the sound of breathing and Grace immediately snapped on her bedside lamp in fright. The light revealed a sleeping Peter Boyd in a nearby chair. Well, he was no longer sleeping; the sudden light and noise had roused him.
'Jesus Christ, Boyd, that would be some irony, wouldn't it? For you to finish me off with a heart attack!'
'Sorry,' replied Boyd, sheepishly rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.
'What are you doing here at this time?'
Boyd shrugged. 'Suppose I didn't really want to go home; I told the nurse you still needed police protection.'
'Fat lot of good you are, sleeping on the job.'
'Oh, that's gratitude for you.'
Grace found the smile came easily to her lips, but it soon dissipated when she observed how deflated he looked. Best to dive straight in, she decided.
'Boyd,' began Grace tentatively, 'I just wanted to thank you, for saving my life, again, I-'
He cut her off with a shake of his head. 'Don't, Grace, don't thank me, I don't need it, I…well I nearly didn't save,' he breathed deeply, 'she did nearly kill you, Grace.'
'But Boyd,' exclaimed Grace in surprise, 'you don't seriously think I expected you to kill Penny Coulter? You don't think I wanted you to, do you?'
'You would have died, Grace.'
'That's as maybe, Boyd, but I know you wouldn't have been able to live with the guilt, and you would have felt guilty. I know for certain that I couldn't have lived with myself, knowing I'd caused your torment. More importantly, your son wouldn't have wanted you to do it, either.'
Boyd held her gaze. 'Thanks, Grace; I thought you'd understand. I just, I don't want you to think that it was easy or that I -'
'Boyd, I saw it all, you don't need to explain yourself.' I saw that you were willing to sacrifice yourself for me, thought Grace. It was the second time he'd been prepared to walk into mortal danger for her, and she felt immensely humbled by it. 'I'm just glad Linda's plan failed.'
Boyd started picking at his sleeve, still looking troubled.
'I, at the end, she was taunting me, saying that if I let go I'd still be a killer. I only had hold of her by one hand, but I keep wondering if she was right or not. Did I let go? Unconsciously, or…?'
'Don't think on it, Boyd, you're not a killer. I know it. For God's sake, not many people would have leapt after her like you did, not after everything she did. By all accounts she nearly took you with her! Don't let her win, even now, Boyd, you could not have saved her.'
He nodded appreciatively, but said nothing. Grace knew there was one other thing she had to bring up.
'I'm sorry about Luke, Boyd.'
He shifted uncomfortably in his chair. 'I know.' In what appeared to be an unconscious gesture, he reached up to touch his jacket and Grace wondered if he still had the photograph in his inside pocket. 'He might still be alive, if not for that woman, but I know that it doesn't change the fact that ultimately, it was still me who failed him. It would be easy to, but I can't shift the blame all onto her and deny my part in his death.'
Grace was silent, but offered an encouraging smile when he caught her eye. She wished he wouldn't be so hard on himself, but he would never change. They lapsed into a companionable quiet and Grace relaxed against her pillows. She was glad he was here; it was a good sign from him that he was willing to talk, and not shove it all into the land of denial.
'Do you think I'm a crap friend, Grace?'
'I beg your pardon?' Grace turned to him in astonishment. Boyd shifted in his chair to face her better, looking suddenly rather more animated than before. There was a subtle determination in the set of his features.
'Do you think I'm a crap friend?' he repeated. 'I've, ah, been thinking a lot lately, about the team, and about us, and tonight I came to a realisation. It's all I have in my life, Grace, the job, the team; I'd say you are my only proper friend. Is that sad?'
Grace blinked. 'What? No, I mean, well, you could say the same about me -'
'You have tons of friends, Grace! Look at all your cards and flowers -'
'Yes, but they aren't the same…more acquaintances.'
Boyd looked sceptical. 'Granted, I have lots of acquaintances too, but the majority can't stand me long enough to get to know me, and well, you had no choice but to put up with me.' He paused and raised his eyebrow as if daring her to contradict.
'Granted,' Grace agreed with a smile. Where was he going with this?
'Oh, thanks; look, what I'm trying to get at, rather inadequately, is that I know things often stay unsaid between us, but there are times when they shouldn't be.' He looked around the room as if for guidance. 'I mean, you couldn't tell me you were ill, Grace. You may very well not have wanted to make a fuss, but I think I've realised the real reason. You were worried about how I would react weren't you? How it would affect me? For God's sake, you have ca –,' he stumbled over the word, 'an illness that -'
'You can say it, Boyd,' Grace broke in gently, 'I have cancer.'
He sighed. 'Grace, you know me and C words don't mix.'
Grace suppressed a smile. 'Hmm, you're logophobic.'
'You have a fear of certain words.'
'You've made that word up, surely?'
Boyd rolled his eyes. 'Fine, brain-box, oh you know what? I'm trying to get in touch with my sensitive side here and you're putting me off!'
Grace bit her lip. 'Sorry, it's just a bit scary, that's all.'
'I'll give you that,' commented Boyd, dryly. 'Seriously though, Grace, I'm right, aren't I? You are faced with a serious illness and yet you are more concerned for my benefit than your own. Doesn't that make me a crap friend? Isn't friendship about give and take? Yet why do I feel it's all take, take, take, on my part?'
Grace had to confess to being startled by his blunt train of thought on something so personal – he was right, this sort of thing often stayed unsaid between them. She supposed it was easier that way, not having to dissect and put labels on their rather unique relationship. To have him be the one to point it out, well, it was rather novel.
'Boyd, I honestly don't see it that way. I mean, I suppose it's what we've always done. I drive you to distraction with my pestering for you to talk, you finally relent, and then the whole process begins again. It's just…it's just what we do.' Grace waved her hand gesturing between the two of them.
'Doesn't make it OK, though, does it?'
'No, it doesn't make you a bad friend,' she impressed firmly.
Grace shrugged and fussed with the covers of her bed for a moment. She wasn't sure how to tell him that while it might not appear so on the surface, she still needed him just as much as he did her. Grace had always been unwilling to analyse the role Boyd played in her life, in her choices, and she supposed, in her emotions too. Ignorance, or perhaps feigned ignorance seemed the better option. Maybe it was hypocritical of her, but there it was.
'You don't give yourself nearly enough credit, Boyd. You know if I had a problem with you, I'd let you know about it.'
Boyd let out a snort of laughter. 'True.'
Grace knew he was thinking of the one time things had spectacularly blown up between them. 'You seem to think you're some burden to be put up with, well I have free will, Boyd, I could have quit years ago. May I ask why it is that you are worried about this now?'
'Today…' he said simply, as if that one word could explain it all, and for Grace, she knew that it did.
Grace merely indicated her understanding with a soft 'I know.' Traumatic events did tend to put things into perspective, after all. She found herself quietly touched at his sincerity. It wasn't often that she got any indication as to his regard for her. Suddenly she felt a bit self-conscious and she lowered her gaze to stare at the bedspread, until a thought quickly occurred to her.
'You know, Boyd, I owe you an apology.'
Grace frowned. 'For Jackie; I told her those things in confidence, I was concerned as I wouldn't be around…I just hope you don't think I treat your confidence in me so cavalierly that I go blabbing everything you tell me to anyone who'll listen.'
'Forget about it Grace, I know you had your reasons.'
'If I hadn't told her -'
Boyd interrupted her.
'Come on, Grace, this the game I usually play, isn't it? If I hadn't done this or if I hadn't done that. You are always telling to accept what is done.'
'We seem to have undergone a role reversal, now that certainly is a scary thought.'
'Terrifying; are you saying I've graduated from the Grace Foley school of…whatever, and am now ready to be unleashed upon the world?'
'It would seem so,' said Grace with a smile.
'Only took me, what? Nearly ten years?'
'Give me time, I'll be back to making a meal of things soon, I'm sure.' He gave a self-deprecating quirk of the lips.
'Well,' began Grace, contemplatively, 'if you don't mind me saying so, you have been more your old self recently. Spence found it quite hard to believe, actually, after everything that's happened.'
Boyd looked down at his hands clasped in his lap. 'I suppose, I suppose I just got tired of being angry all the time, Grace. You were right, of course, it did help to talk, however much I hated doing it.' He paused for a moment and rubbed his chin. 'I don't know, it's hard to explain; I just felt that…what good was my anger to anyone? It didn't help me, it certainly didn't help Luke when he was alive, and it's not going to help him now that's he's…gone.'
Grace wished she could reach out and give him a reassuring pat on the arm, but he was too far away.
'Anyway,' said Boyd briskly, 'enough about me, as usual, when are you going to have your operation?'
'Tomorrow,' replied Grace evenly, 'and then, well if they can't get all the cancer I'll have to have chemo. It, ah, may be a while before I am back to work.'
Boyd averted his gaze for a brief moment.
'Perhaps we can set up the unit from in here?'
Grace chuckled. 'I'm sure the Commissioner would have no problem Okaying that!'
Boyd smiled. 'Don't worry about work, Grace, just get better.'
'Yeah,' answered Grace, quietly. 'If I can get through something like today, I can get through anything, hmm?'
'No doubt at all. Right, I'd better sneak out of here now, you need to rest for tomorrow, or today rather,' he said as he looked at his watch. He stood up and momentarily looked unsure about something, before reaching to squeeze her hand gently. 'I'll be back later to see how you are, and yes, I will be all right, before you ask.'
Boyd left and Grace allowed herself a smile as she settled against her pillows, the realisation beginning to dawn on her that she actually felt different. She wasn't feeling as scared about what was going to happen, as she had before. Was it because of her brush with death today? Had it given her a new found confidence? A newly attained tenacity of will to get over this disease, in the vein of her previous words, that escaping Linda Cummings meant she'd escape anything? Or was it, as Grace suspected, a result of the comfort she felt at knowing she didn't have to face it quite on her own anymore. Boyd, in his own roundabout way, had been trying to tell her that he cared about her, and yes, perhaps it was true that in some curious way, they did only have each other; but that was all right, Grace didn't need anything else.
He was her friend and she would get through this not just for herself, but for him as well.
AN: I hope everyone enjoyed this as much as I did writing it : )