Scott&Bailey – Cold Nose
I own all of the rights and copyright for Scott&Bailey, and all of the characters are mine, especially Gill. Okay, not really.
This is for GirlonaBridge and Didget.
"And," Rachel sniffed, wrapping her duvet tighter around her shoulder, "And then she suggested I was actually in bed because I was recovering from a hangover. I mean, obviously the fact that I could barely talk wasn't a big enough clue for her. Or maybe it's just because she's a big fat invincible Godzilla bi– are you laughing at me?"
"Of course not."
"You are. You're on her side."
"Aw, Rach," Janet brought a hand up to her mouth, as though hoping to wipe her smile away, "I promise I'm not. I just think it's a bit funny. It's not so far fetched that you'd have a hangover, is it? You're not really struggling to talk now, and I think calling Gill fat is taking the biscuit somewhat."
Rachel let out an exaggerated moan, which only served to remind Janet of Gill's ostrich impressions, and make her laugh harder.
She'd come here hoping to cheer Rachel up. Funnily enough, Gill had spent all day bitching about Rachel ("she's such a slacker"; "what do we even pay her for – to fill the fridge with those disgusting bubbly yoghurts?"), and if she was honest, she was getting a little bit sick of trying to make the peace between them. They were worse than her daughters, and that was saying something.
"I hate flu."
"I know, I know," Janet said. She reached across to take Rachel's hand, but Rachel only moved it away, and glared at the wall, as though it could somehow absorb her anger at Gill, and make her feel better.
Janet did know about flu. She knew the feeling of helplessness as you lay in bed watching Jeremy Kyle or some other trash like that, everything muscle in your body aching. You didn't have the energy to brush your hair, and (this one must have been particularly awful for Rach) food tasted of nothing.
She knew what it was like to nurse someone else with it too; Taisie had succumbed a couple of years ago, and Janet had come home from work and spent hour upon hour reading Winnie the Pooh to her comatose daughter.
"I hate life."
"No, you don't," Janet said, in what she hoped was a consolatory tone.
Janet didn't only know about flu. She knew others things about Rachel too; things that Gill, with all of her intelligence and her commitment and her insensitivity, had perhaps overlooked.
It had been Christmas last year when Kevin had announced he was leaving. He'd been so matter-of-fact about it; obviously, raised at the same insensitivity school as Gill, he hadn't paused to think how much it might affect anyone else, like Rachel.
"You're just going to leave everything you have here?" Rachel had half-whispered, "Your career? Your friends and family?"
"What career? As the boss likes to remind me, she has no idea how I ended up in MIT. My family aren't much of a worry, considering I have none, and my friends can just buy me a pint before I leave, can't they?"
"Congratulations, Kevin," Gill had said, rather gruffly. Then she'd surprised them all by leaning up and giving him a peck on the cheek.
And everyone had cheered, and Pete had run down to the canteen and grabbed a tray of flapjacks by way of a celebratory mid-morning snack, and they'd sat around the office stuffing their faces.
Janet had seen the way Rachel stared at her computer screen sullenly as everyone had fussed around Kevin. Her expression had been the opposite of his grin, and when he'd invited her to the pub in the evening she'd shaken her head and stormed out.
She'd texted Janet a while later: are you free to talk? x
They'd ended up on the phone late into the night, Janet sitting by the window watching the world go by, listening to Rachel struggle to hold back her tears.
"It's just..." she'd said, "Australia is a long way away."
"I know," Janet had said, "I know."
In the morning, Kevin had gone, leaving nothing but a box of Heroes next to the whiteboard (the half-price tag was still stuck to them; cheap-skate to the core), and a note saying he'd seen no point hanging around and got an early flight out there.
"The other side of the world," Rachel had whispered, putting the note in her pocket, and taking an Éclair.
They didn't speak of Kevin again, but Janet knew.
"You alright, Rach?" Janet asked now, "You want a drink or anything?"
Rachel just shook her head and flicked to a repeat of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Janet took that as her cue to leave for the night.
"It was all really sudden," Janet said, her voice breaking, "I mean, she said she felt really ill, but I thought– I just thought she was feeling sorry for herself, you know?"
Gill took her glasses from her nose and occupied herself with folding them and laying them on the desk, parallel to the computer keyboard.
"Her sister is with her. She said she'd ring me if and when she knew anything else. She sounded really scared, I don't know what..."
"Sorry," Gill said, picking up her ringing phone, "Gill Murray, MIT."
Janet leant back in her chair, only half-listening to the conversation. Something about some mould on a body, and some case notes that needed typing up.
"Janet, how are you doing with the CCTV of the street?"
"I've not got through it all yet."
Gill pushed the glasses back up onto the bridge of her nose and looked at her DS sternly, "I was relying on you to be efficient on this one, Janet."
"Well, you know, I've had a few other priorities today. My best friend is in hospital with pneumonia, and it's quite possibly my fault that she's so ill, so some CCTV doesn't seem particularly crucial, and perhaps if you were a bit more humane you might understand that."
"It's not your fault."
"It feels like it is."
"Look, I've been meaning to ask you about Rachel, actually," Gill said, seeming to catch on to the fact that Janet couldn't focus on work for the moment, "She's seemed a bit distant these past few weeks. Before she was ill, I mean. Nothing major, but is there anything I should know?"
Janet shook her head.
"I suppose it's just pre-Christmas weariness. I'm looking forward to getting my feet up for a few days, I have to say. I'm sure she'll be absolutely fine, Janet – it's natural that you're w... sorry. Gill Murray, MIT? Oh, hello."
Janet stood up as if to leave, but Gill gestured to her to sit down again. Whoever it was, Gill looked pleased, which was rare. Probably Chris arranging a date or something; now she was going to have to sit through half an hour of her boss gushing about her wonderful toy boy.
She didn't mind normally – she was glad Gill was happy – but today, she wasn't sure she was in the mood, particularly when things were so miserable with Adrian to top everything that was going wrong at the moment.
"It's Kev," Gill mouthed.
"Let me talk to him?"
She raised an eyebrow, but passed the phone across.
"Hello, you," Janet said, and as she listened to him chatter on about how beautiful the sunsets were and how nice it would be to come back for Christmas to collect his presents (she made a mental note to get him some socks with singing Santas on the side) she realised Rachel wasn't the only one who missed him.
"Yeah, sorry," he said, "How's Manchester? Rainy, no doubt. How you doing, Scotty, and how's Rachel? As stroppy as ever? Got off with any more blokes who are way out of her league recently?"
"I – can I ring you back in a minute, on my phone?" she asked, "There's something I need to talk to you about."
"I'm doing fine, honestly," Rachel said.
"Mm," Kevin said.
"The doctors say she's recovering well," Janet told him, more to fill the silence than anything else, "She's young and fit, so there'll be no lasting damage."
"Why didn't you become a doctor, Scotty?"
"Because I'd never have met you."
"Good point," he said. His eyes didn't leave Rachel's.
"I think I'm going to go home for a couple of hours," Janet said quietly, tying the belt of her coat and tucking her collar up in preparation for the cold.
She reached down and squeezed Rachel's hand, and her friend not only squeezed back, but smiled. There was a gleam in her eye Janet hadn't seen for a while; it didn't take a big thing (although maybe it was a big thing, in Rachel's eyes, to see Kevin Lumb again) to make someone happy when they'd forgotten what it was like to actually want to get up in the morning.
"See you tomorrow, Scotty."
"Yeah," Kevin shifted slightly in his chair, so that he was closer to Rachel, "I was thinking about talking to the ma'am about a job. That is, if she'll have me back – I love Oz and all that, but I never really thought it through. It's not my home."
"You missed us, Kev? Who'd have thought it?"
"Clear off, Scotty."
Janet left with a smile on her face too.
"Are you sure you're okay to be out here?"
"Yeah," Rachel said, "Fine."
Kevin moved a little closer, held her hand a little tighter. He looked back towards the hospital and at their footsteps next to each other in the snow, and then he looked forwards at the frozen pond and the flowers covered in glittering droplets of ice, and he realised how much he'd missed this place.
Missed the people.
"Rach, are you–" Kevin began as she slipped from his grip, but when he crouched down beside her in the snow, she splattered a snowball into his chest. "Oh, you cheeky bitch. Right, that's it."
They covered each other in snow. Kevin did it carefully, though, and then he pulled her into him and wrapped his arms around her waist.
"I missed you," she said.
"I never thought I'd see the day."
"That's not the right response."
"Sorry," he said, "I missed you too. And I'll tell you a secret – when Scotty told me you were in hospital, I went and cried in the toilets. Is that the right response?"
She leant her head against his shoulder, and her hair fell over his cheek. He hadn't been this close to her since he'd whacked that fat bitch over the head with a fire extinguisher. At least he hadn't needed to assault someone to hold her in his arms and feel her heart beat against his this time.
"Here," he dug a hand in his pocket and handed her a key ring with Australia emblazoned across it, "I brought you something."
"I'll treasure it."
"You're a beautiful woman, Rachel Bailey."
"And you have a cold nose."