Chapter One – In which a small detail changes history

Disclaimer: I don't own HSB or any of the characters. I'm just a fan who refuses to accept reality (even if it is really pretend reality because I am not so silly to think TV characters are real). I have written a different ending to Larry of Arabia and have borrowed a scene and a line for continuity. I hope I am allowed to do this. I am not profiting in any way from this. This is also my first shot at writing for fanfiction, so I know I have a lot to learn.

Joe searched the shelves while Lucy waited to pay. It took a while as the lady in front was having trouble finding the money she needed.

He came back and stood close to her at the counter. "They don't have any Garcia Vegas. I'm gonna try across the street"

"No wait, you don't need to. I have some at my place from last time. I'll bring them when I come over"

Joe nodded. They paid for the beer and he carried it out to the unit. They were quiet on their drive back to Hill Street. It had been an emotional day and they were both tired and looking forward to an evening of poker. Lucy hadn't hung out with the guys for ages, since Fabian had come into her life. He was away at a friend's house for the night so she could kick back and relax. Joe's mind was on what had happened today. He couldn't believe how Lucy had changed since Fabian had come back from down south to stay with her. He liked Fabian and knew she was right to try to adopt him, but he hated how she'd let a bunch of no-hopers make her doubt herself and feel so bad. He knew he'd bullied her into getting the forms in, but things were going to work out as a result. He hummed and drummed his fingers on the steering wheel. She turned her head to look out the side window and smiled: she too knew things were going to get better. She was going to be Fabian's guardian for good and she didn't have to worry about his junkie mother and her pimp threatening her and hitting her up for more money. She could stop lying to Joe and evading his questions: he was very important to her and she was sick of trying to keep track of her lies.

Back at the station the shift was changing over. It was busy as usual. JD and Neal had returned from their undercover and Henry again reminded everyone he intended to reimburse everyone for the food. Hill and Renko had changed already and were heading out. Belker remained at his desk, trying to finalise his paperwork so he too could get to Joe's place on time.

"What a day," Joyce sighed, as she sank into the bubbles. Frank sipped his Club Soda and nodded. He had spent too much time at home since the shooting and had been getting restless. He missed being at work and Joyce had made it clear that he hadn't been a model patient. They sat for a while, not talking, just soaking in the warm water. His pager sounded "Frank, your pants are beeping, again," Joyce grumbled. Frank, dripping and still sore from his injury, slowly went for the phone to call the station. "We have a situation Captain," answered Sergeant Jenkins, "better get down to Van Buren. There's been a shooting".

Joe had just put the pizza into the oven and was unloading the beers into the fridge when the TV news caught his attention.

"There was a robbery in a smoke shop on Van Buren earlier this afternoon. The owner has been found shot to death and a small sum of money was taken. Witnesses say a Caucasian man, approximately 45 years old, left the scene in a van. Police are investigating. More to come in our later bulletin."

"Hey Luce, look at this. That's where I was gonna go for the cigars." She froze: she'd heard it too. She left the stove where she'd been stirring his stew to watch over his shoulder. "Tch. That poor guy." she shook her head and walked to the sink. She could see through the window that it had started to snow. It was a bleak and cold out there, not the night to be lying dead on the floor of a smoke shop. She was shocked by the luck they'd been dealt and how the evening could have turned out. She couldn't bear the thought of him walking in on that robbery. She felt safe and warm in his apartment, knowing he was right there. "Thank God you didn't go down there. I don't know what I would do if I lost you." She turned back to find him watching her. He pulled a face. "Oh man, don't say that. That's just dumb." He was going to add something when he heard muffled shouting from the hall. He shook his head and went to answer the door.

By one in the morning the apartment was warm and the air was thick with blue cigar smoke and the smell of stew and beer. Everyone was in a good mood but getting tired. Andy dealt the last hand. Lucy looked at hers: she was still the Hill's best poker player and she knew that her cards wouldn't do her any good. She owed Joe and Stan some money and it was important that she could pay them back.

"Oh c'mon big girl, don't quit," Andy had teased, "you can take these guys." She shook her head. She wasn't here for the game, she was here for the company and friendship. "No, I'll watch and take my money while I can." She remembered when she hadn't trusted her gut and walked away with two dollars. She opened another beer and sat next to Neal. His partner JD had also just pulled out and had gone to the bathroom.

Stan won the pot. "Hey! I told you an old man could outplay you guys! Great stew, Joe. See you guys bright and early tomorrow." The others left with him, calling their thanks. Andy and Bobby trailed behind, turning to face Lucy and Joe at the door. "Good night you two. Thanks for a great night Joe." Bobby nodded his goodbye.

"It really was a great night, Joseph," Lucy said approvingly as she started to clear the bottles from the table. He knew she must have had a good time; she only called him Joseph when she was happy with him or when he'd surprised her. He watched her for a while. Her demeanour had changed remarkably over the afternoon, in fact since she'd returned from the mailbox. "How's your back?" he asked, remembering, and hoping she wouldn't get mad. He didn't want to take advantage of how vulnerable she'd been lately but he wanted to be close to her, to make her feel good. She had been so low lately, and so sad that it nearly broke his heart. She turned to him. He couldn't read her face, but he knew she remembered and took the reference. She looked like she was thinking about her response. She chewed he lip before replying.

"It's a little sore."

"How about a massage?" He knew it was a risk, but a lot had happened since then and he hoped that she would take it as a loving friendly gesture, not the sleazy come-on he'd tried years ago. Their friendship had developed a lot but he could hardly control his breathing. He felt like a kid. She was his best friend. He knew her better than anyone: he'd seen her at her worst and she'd killed for him. All of a sudden he felt shy. She stared at him for a while, thinking. She nodded slowly.

"Yeah, that'd be nice." She left the dishes in the sink. She hadn't prepared for this.