Disclaimer: These characters do not belong to me. I do not claim ownership of them in any way, shape or form.

A Little Hope

As soon as Roger shut the door behind him, Riggs felt out of place. Of course, it was incredibly kind of Rog to invite him in, and he really appreciated the gesture, but his gratitude did not shield him from the awkward feeling of encroaching on family traditions. The room around him whirred with activity. He was offered drinks and snacks and places to sit. He took a beer, chose a chair in the corner of the room, and tried to stay out of the way as the kids decorated the tree and opened presents in the recently boarded up living room. He felt bad about driving that squad car through the wall a few nights before. Maybe he could have thought of a slightly less destructive diversion.. But hey at least he got the job done and Rianne and Roger were home safe, enjoying their Christmas through newly appreciative eyes.

The family was picture perfect. A man an his children, laughing, smiling, gazing at each other with eyes filled to the brim with caring and love. It was exactly what Vicky had wanted, and exactly what he hadn't given her. A family. He was always careful, because he didn't want their life as a couple to end prematurely. But end it had, and he had never given her the family she wanted and deserved. These thoughts instantly overwhelmed him, and he longed for the bullet he had given Roger earlier in the evening. He knew that Roger had taken his gift as a promise that he wasn't going to do anything stupid. Riggs knew it wasn't going to be easy, but he was stubborn enough to endure the pain and keep that promise.

Riggs was startled out of his thoughts by a hand placed gently on his shoulder. He took a deep breath and resisted the instinctive urge to attack, telling himself it must be Trish coming from the kitchen.

"Didn't mean to startle you, Martin," she apologized as she squeezed his shoulder warmly. "I just wanted to thank you for saving my family."

"Well, I'm sorry about your house," he replied sheepishly, deflecting her gratitude. Riggs never had been one for showing much emotion.

"No matter, honey. I've been wanting to remodel for years," she joked. "Besides, their lives are far more precious to me than any wall could ever be. I can't imagine losing them."

Riggs smiled sadly, and replied, "Believe me, losing the love of your life is enough to drive you crazy."

Trish looked away from her family and into Martin's eyes, filled with a soul piercing sadness, the likes of which she hoped to never experience. She made a mental note to ask Roger about this later and said, "You are my family now, Martin. We are here to take care of you whenever you need it."

Riggs, unused to this sort of kindness, felt his eyes fill with tears and worked hard to fight them back. He stumbled over a few words of gratitude as Trish tactfully looked back over to her family. She met Roger's eyes and nodded, squeezed Martin's shoulder once more, and went back to the kitchen.

Roger got off the couch, walked over to Riggs, and sat down next to him. "You don't have to seclude yourself, man. There is plenty of room on the couch. We want you to feel welcome here."

"You are beyond kind, Rog, but I am doing just fine right here."

"Can I at least get you another beer?"

Riggs smiled. "Well Rog, since you're offering, I could honestly go for something quite a bit stronger."

"Sure thing, Riggs. I have some bourbon, if I can find it."

Roger walked into the kitchen and asked,"Hey honey. Do you know where that bottle of bourbon is? Riggs could use a drink."

"That poor boy. He looks so sad... I have gathered that he is missing someone?" Trish asked, inviting Roger to fill her in.

Roger sighed. He had wanted to wait a while to have this conversation with his wife, but since they were alone it seemed as good a time as any to explain Riggs' shaky mental state.

"Well honey, his wife of eleven years recently died. I actually was partnered with him as a last resort. No one in narcotics wanted to work with him because he had been so reckless. It was in most people's opinion that he was faking insanity to get a psycho pension, or actually suicidal. No one wanted to work with him in either case, so Captain Murphy transferred him from narcotics to homicide, and partnered him with me. I found out on our first day together that he actually is suicidal. But, later that day he saved my life, so I brought him home to have dinner with us that first night you met him."

Trish gasped,"But he seemed so happy! He was smiling and laughing like he had been friends with us for years."

"Earlier that day he had jumped off a building with a guy I told him to bring down safely. I took him into an empty building and demanded that he tell me the truth about his mental state. I handled it all wrong. I gave him my gun and told him to do it if he was serious. It turns out he was. If I hadn't grabbed it back in time, he would have killed himself then and there." Roger shuddered, his voice gentle but his words deadly serious. "But honey, today he gave me this."

Roger pulled the hollow point bullet tied neatly with a ribbon out of his pocket, handed it to Trish and said, "This is what he planned to do it with."

She took it with a shaking hand. "So, this means he doesn't want to anymore."

"Well, I'm not entirely sure that he doesn't want to. I don't think someone as serious as he was, or is, can just turn off the suicidal switch in his brain and be happy. I think his giving me this bullet means that he has hope. I think it is a promise that he will try not to do it as long as we're here for him."

"And we always will be. We owe him everything. Now, get that bourbon out of the cabinet and take it to him before he gets suspicious."

Roger did as she said, poured Riggs a drink, and headed back out to the living room. The kids were still opening their presents, and Martin had nodded off in his chair. He looked so young, beat up and tired that Roger felt terrible as he gently prodded him awake to hand him the drink.

"Jesus Rog, how long were you gone?" Riggs asked, sleepily accepting his drink and taking a swig. "Ah, the good stuff. Thanks."

"Sorry to wake you from your beauty sleep," Roger chuckled.

"Hey dad, when is dinner going to be? We're starving!" Nick asked from the other side of the room.

"Right now!" Trish called from the kitchen. "Come and get it!"

The family and Riggs headed into the dining room. The meal went exactly as holiday dinners are supposed to go. Grace was said, food and drinks were consumed, dishes were broken, and a good time was had by all. They left the table feeling stuffed full of Trisha's substandard cooking.

The kids went up to bed and the adults had a couple of after dinner drinks. Before long, Trish was yawning. With a goodnight kiss for Roger and a peck on the cheek for Martin, she headed up to bed, leaving the mess for tomorrow.

"She's got the right idea," Riggs yawned. "I better be getting home now."

"There's a guest room right upstairs, man. It's late and you're tired. Just stay for the night." Roger offered.

Riggs hesitated. He really wanted to accept the offer, but he felt that he was taking advantage of the Murtaugh's already generous hospitality by doing so. His tiredness won over his guilt. "Well… If you're sure it's okay…"

"Absolutely, Riggs! First door on the right," Rog said.

Riggs got up from the couch and headed upstairs, into the first room on the right, and crashed. For the first time in months, he slept for six wonderful, dreamless hours. He awoke around five o'clock the next morning and crept downstairs silently. As quietly as possible, he cleaned up the kitchen, and by six o'clock he whistled for his dog and walked out the door, leaving only a note that said "Thanks again, Martin".

Roger was the first to awaken a couple hours later. He got up and headed downstairs, peeking in the guest room as he went by, half expecting Riggs to still be there. He had seen how exhausted he looked last night, and hoped he hadn't rushed out because he was worried about overstaying his welcome. Roger headed into the kitchen and noticed right away that it was spotless, except for a note on the counter top. He read it, smiled, and said "No, thank you, Martin."