(Un)Breakable

Back-from-wherever-post 1/8

Summary: She is beautiful in black and white. OneShot.

Warning: Way-old idea of mine, which was supposed to be the beginning of an ongoing story but never was finished. Now, once again, modified and translated and set to be launched as a OneShot.

Set: story-unrelated, future-fic.

Disclaimer: Standards apply.


Someone was bouncing up and down on him.

"Uncle Scotty! Uncle Scotty!"

Groaning, Scotty forced open his eyes. A blurred image appeared, one of a room he was familiar with and yet wasn't. A low table, a wide window through which sunlight poured in, a small dresser to the right. As always, he knew immediately where he was. He only didn't know what time it was.

"Uncle Scotty, breakfast is ready!"

Breakfast time, apparently, whatever that meant in this house on this particular day.

Susannah, his five-years-old niece, patted his face as she smiled down on him. Black, long, curly hair, huge chocolate eyes and a brilliant smile made her a spitting image of her mother, and yet Scotty could detect traces of his brother in her: the crooked edge to her smile, the curve of her nose, the spark in her eyes that gleamed mischievously.

"What time is it?" He blinked at his watch as another delighted voice joined Susannah's.

"He's awake, Mummy!"

At least, Ben had the maturity of a seven-years-old and didn't assault him. Behind his younger siblings, Chris peaked through the door of the guest room cautiously, his hair as mussed as ever and his face set into his uniquely serious expression that made him look much older than the twelve years he really was.

"Mum asked whether you're awake so you can have breakfast with us," he said quietly. Scotty smiled up at his nephew, now fully awake.

"Of course I'll have breakfast with you."

Pushing aside the thin summer blanket and heaving himself and Susannah from the bed, he managed not to trip over a pair of play-cars that had been parked in front of it. Susannah squealed in delight and surprise and held onto his neck and shoulders. He lifted her into the air once and almost pulled a face when his back protested. But the pain was gone as fast as it had come. Chris, attentive as he was, noticed his grimace and his brow creased. Scotty gave him a reassuring glance, put Susannah down and set to getting himself dressed properly.

He had come for an evening and stayed the night, which meant there was no great variety on clothing he had to choose from. Actually, he had come directly from the Department. He was reminded of the fact again when his eyes fell onto a stack of folders and paperwork, something he had intended to take care of during the weekend, after returning from the dinner invitation his brother and sister-in-law had issued. The grey and brown folders were balancing precariously close to the edge of the little table. The instant he decided to forego his tie in favor of a Saturday morning, Ben gave Susannah a little shove, which made her stumble and fall towards the table. Scotty, reacting with the speed of a trained police officer, caught her by her shoulders while she steadied herself on the table, causing an avalanche of papers to go off. The bunch of folders tumbled to the floor, spilling open and mixing its contents. Shocked, Susannah and Ben froze, their eyes darting to Scotty and back to the mess of papers on the floor. Scotty merely grinned and sighed good-naturedly. Visibly relieved, the two culprits scrambled to clear away their mess enthusiastically.

"Stop."

Chris' voice held a sharp edge and made his siblings freeze.

"It's okay," Scotty said calmly. "It's okay." It really was. He had taken home paper work, no cases, and there were no photographs or such that could have scared the children somehow. Brown eyes scrutinized him, searching for a lie. As they found none, Chris nodded, allowing his siblings to pick up the papers.

"Why aren't we allowed to listen to stories from your work, Uncle Scotty?" Susannah asked and creased a few papers as she attempted to smooth them out. Scotty frowned.

"Because…"

"Because you work with dead people!" Ben called out triumphantly. "Mum said so."

Chris frowned. "Ben…"

Susannah held up something. "Is she dead, too?"

Scotty turned to his youngest niece. She was holding a piece of paper that seemed to have slipped from in between the covers of a file. He picked it from her hand to get a better look at it and froze. The world came to a full stop.

She was beautiful in black and white.

The frozen image of a Lilly Rush stared back at him, past him, because she never looked into a camera directly. Someone must have taken the shot without her knowledge, accidentally even, because there was no way she would have let anyone take a picture of her. Her shining gold hair was silvery white and grey in the picture, her face delicate and pale as porcelain. Perfection, frozen in time and silver bromide.

Fragile and delicate and yet so strong he wondered how it could ever have happened. In the picture, she seemed… whole. Perfect.

"Is she dead, too?" Susannah repeated her question, tugging at his sleeves. "Uncle Scotty?"

Unable to take his eyes off the picture, Scotty contemplated possible answers. Finally, he nodded, his voice hoarse.

"Yes. Yes, she is dead."

Lil vaguely smiled at something behind him from the perfection of a black-and-white, faded picture.

Unbroken.