Dreams of Catastrophe
Rating: T for a few swear words and adult situations (but nothing graphic)
A/N: This story takes place after Season 2, so beware of Spoilers. It will focus on Linden and Holder's relationship, but not necessarily as a romantic item. There will be more than a couple chapters, I don't know how many exactly yet, but I know where the story is going at least! :)
Feel free to leave comments, I'll try to update as often as I can.
Tonight, it's the one with the bomb again. At first, everyone is happy and carefree. People are smiling as though they are celebrating something. Perhaps they are, who knows? Perhaps they're even celebrating him.
They're on a beach somewhere and the sun is shining. But it's not too hot, and for that his dream-self is grateful. He feels the presence of his sister and her kids – his mum, too. Back when she was healthy. But he also sees the blurred figures of other people he can't recognize. People he can trust. People he feels safe with. Too bad he can't recognize them, he would certainly have loved to know who they were and where he could find them. Where have you been all my life?
And then, people start looking at the sky, like they always do when he reaches that part of the dream. Then there is a big noise, and colours. It could very well be fireworks, but it's not. It's the bomb. Exploding near the horizon, the mushroom cloud forming already, for all of their eyes to see. Everything goes quite then: the wind, the waves, the laughter, the joy. Someone is holding his hand. He turns, and sees Linden. Her eyes are sad, but she's smiling serenely to him.
He wakes up.
It's pitch black outside and there's nothing on TV. At least, it stopped raining, he thinks. Perhaps if he falls back to sleep the nightmares won't return. Perhaps.
He cannot shake off how Linden was looking at him in the dream. The rest of the dream he was used to. But usually his sister or even his mother was holding his hand at the end. And usually they would drop it and disappear into thin air, frightening him, before he'd wake up. But Linden didn't drop his hand, she even smiled at him. "Everything will be okay", she seemed to say.
He hasn't seen her for ten days. Carlson told him she took a leave a absence, which pissed his boss up big time, since he had managed to reinstate her before her hearing. He knows the hearing is in 3 days, and he hopes he will see her then. And then sometimes, usually in the morning after his first cigarette and his first overly-sweetened coffee, when his thoughts are clearest, he wishes he won't see her at the hearing, or before, or after. Wishes she is happy somewhere, with Jack, and has managed to leave her own nightmares behind. Wishes he'll never see her in this rainy place again. And then, at the end of the day, when he sits at his desk alone, drinking the last coffee he knows he can endure while filling up neverending paperwork, he wishes she would hurry up and move her ass back home already.
The dream keeps resurfacing all throughout the day. But instead of distressing him, like they often do, the memory of Linden's presence soothes him. When he is standing in someone's living room, having to tell this poor woman that her long lost son has been found dead behind a dumbster, he thinks he can feel her hand gripping his. When he is shouted at by an angry lawyer who tells him he will have him demoted for having tricked his client into confessing, he feels her breath on his neck. And when finally he comes home and falls asleep on his couch, with his shoes still on, he wakes up to see her eyes staring at him. Except, this time, she is talking.
"I used the spare key from the flower pot. I didn't think you'd be home already, sorry."
Having just woken up, he fails to get a good grip on reality, and doesn't know how to make sure she's there. He can't even find the right words to say. So he takes the time to think by seating properly on the couch, and rubbing the tensed muscles of his neck. His ribs are also protesting, but he is not about to show any sign of pain, especially if she is here for real.
He pauses. She hasn't moved yet, but her eyes have been following his every move. Now she is staring at him, but her eyes are not sad like in the dream, they're just tired, and slightly red. Her hair is mussed, as though she has been sleeping herself recently. There is a small bag by her feet, and she is still wearing her coat. She had sat down on the couch next to him, and apparently the movement had woken him, because he can't remember her speaking or reaching for him.
He listens to the world outside, and finally comes up with what to say.
"It's raining again."
"It started just when you woke up."
Perhaps the rain woke him, then.
"How long have you been here?"
"I've just arrived. I thought I would come by, see how you were."
He doesn't ask her where she's been. Maybe she's coming from the airport, but he doesn't spy any tell-tale tag on her bag, which she might have alrerady removed anyway. Perhaps she came from Sonoma. Perhaps not. Perhaps she was in Chicago, with Jack and his dad. And then, perhaps not. He's certainly not about to ask. He settles for a different topic, not necessarily safer, but at least one he is truly curious about.
"How's little man?"
She smiles. That one smile reserved for her son, the only true smile he has ever seen grace her face.
"He's good, he'll be home soon." He doesn't ask her to elaborate, knowing it's not his place. But she keeps on staring at him, apparently considering something.
"He's been asking about you, how you were." she adds.
"Well, tell him I'm good, next time you speak to him. Tell him I owe him breakfast."
She smiles again, this time less openly, and he is reminded of his dream once again.
"How are you? Ribs still giving you a hard time?"
Damn, he thinks. You can't hide anything from her.
"I'm good, Linden. Life's been treating me okay. No crazy Indian after my scalp or anything like that at least."
"That's good to hear."
He wonders if he should ask her about where she's been and what she's been doing all this time. But he feels as if he has just met her, and doesn't know where to stand. They used to have this strange working-relationship: not always truly partners, but at least always connected by one goal – solving the Rosie Larsen case. Now he feels as if he has to start all over again, as if they are no longer the same people. He hopes that their bound, whatever it may be, wasn't an artificial one, created in a time of need. He hopes she'll still see him as someone she can trust. Once again not knowing how to broach he subject, he asks:
"Wanna eat something? It must be late... I can make you eggs or something, if my exotic tastes don't suit you." He stands and walks towards the fridge, checking that he has the necessary ingredients to make an omelet, which is not saying much, but he hasn't gone shopping for a few days.
"I'm fine, I already had something."
He closes the door of his fridge and rubs his twitching hands on his jeans: he's not hungry either, but he's dying for a cigarette.
"But I wouldn't mind a smoke."
It's his turn to smile.
"I'm trying to quit."
She raises her eyebrows. "You? Quitting?"
"Yeah, well, you know. At least stop smoking so much. No point going through rehab if you're just gonna replace one drug for another."
"I thought that was the whole point of rehab," she deadpans.
"That's the whole point of failing rehab, more like. But it's okay, I guess I can have one, I've only had like 5 or 6 today."
"That's what you call quitting?"
"Small steps and all that. If you're not happy, why don't you try and quit."
"It's your own fault I started again." There's no reproach or anger in her voice, so he comes closer and hands her a smoke from his half-full pack.
"Nah, Linden. I just proved you weren't ready to quit yet, is all."
They smoke in silence. Only then does he realize that the room has gotten rather dark, and that he should switch on some lights. He picks up his cellphone on the coffee table, to check that he hasn't missed any call, and sees that it is close to ten already. He's slept for a few hours, but his tired body and aching joints are quite clearly signaling him that going back to sleep right now wouldn't go amiss, preferably in his own bed this time, if he can.
"You can have the bed like last time if you want, I'll change the sheets."
She doesn't seem to react to the fact that he has skipped at least three or four questions, or maybe even a whole conversation, before asking her that. But like most things when it comes to her, Linden goes straight to the point as well.
"It's fine, I'll take the couch, I'm not really tired. I think I'll watch some TV. But you can go on to bed, you need it."
The fact that she can so easily read him would earn her a few quips if he wasn't so sleepy. And besides, he doesn't really mind. On the contrary, he's rather glad to see that their partnership is still intact, even if she isn't sure to have the job to prove it anymore.
He knows they'll talk more about her hearing tomorrow. And then, perhaps not. Perhaps they'll just pretend it's not important. Perhaps they'll just pretend that no hearing can have the power to say they can't be partners anymore. In his mind, the hearing isn't about whether her job as a cop in this city is on the line, it's about whether she'll have to disappear from his life, and he'll have to pretend this past month and a half has not happened. That they haven't lost part of themselves to the Rosie Larsen case. That they haven't suffered and mourned and toiled side by side.
He looks down at her feet again and sees the bag. It gives him hope.
"Wake me if you need anything, or have to leave or whatever." He knows she won't, but he feels better saying it anyway. She nods, and starts scanning the channels, looking for something mindlessly entertaining to watch on TV.
He's about to close the door of his bedroom after having given her a spare pillow and a blanket, but he can't help turing back.
"Hey, Linden? I'm glad you're back."