Everyone was there, everyone, a sea of blue uniforms against the pastel green of the emergency room waiting area. Andy had disappeared with the surgeon over an hour ago and still no word. The yellow and white plastic seat digging mercilessly into Gail's back seemed to be the only thing keeping her awake, or would be if it weren't for Holly's hand, fingers laced with hers, nestled both comforting and terrifying on her lap between her own. Holly, who cared enough to show up for her, Holly who laughed at her verbal daggers where others had fled, and Holly, with whom she had completely dropped her walls and kissed, much to both of their surprise.
Just yesterday, everything seemed fine, normal, as it should be, and now like a lifetime ago. The events of the last forty-eight hours would be bad enough if Oliver's abduction didn't bring back the terror of her own kidnapping with a vengeance. Earlier at the station, Holly had come to see her, but all she could do was run before Holly's caring touch could shatter her composure like the brittle ice she felt like she'd become. And now, here they were sitting hand in hand in front of everyone.
The doctor reemerged looking exhausted and grim. Everyone rose to their feet again as one unit.
"Ok people" he said "I know you are waiting to hear some news. Officer Swarek is out of surgery and in critical condition in ICU. I won't have anything else to tell you for at least several hours. Go home people, go home. We will be sure to notify your sergeant if there is any change."
A rumble, like the growl of a big dog, came from the crowd of gathered officers.
"All right, you heard the doctor." Said Frank "Most of us have been on this for more than forty-eight hours. Go home, get some sleep. I will need you all on the top of your game in the morning. I will inform you just as soon as I hear anything, anything at all."
The crowd grumbled, shifted, and began to disperse in little groups of twos and threes. Gail found herself being numbly steered by her elbow in the direction of Holly's car. She stopped in her tracks.
"Wait, wait, where are we going?" She asked Holly as if awakening from a dream.
"I was going to drive you home" said Holly in a gentle voice.
"No, no wait... Oliver..." said Gail, voice trailing off as a silent tear rolled unwittingly down her cheek.
"Ok" Holly reached out to cup Gail's cheek in her hand and wiped away the tear with her thumb.
"Oh God! Please don't be nice to me. I can't fall apart here!" flashed desperately through Gail's mind as she quickly pulled away from Holly's caress.
Holly looked steadily at her. "Let's go find him." Holly said, once again taking Gail by the hand.
Knocking softly, they entered a darkened room. Celery rose quickly, standing protectively between them and the prone figure on the bed.
"It's ok, I'm here, I'm here..." Said Oliver in a groggy voice, holding a hand out to Gail.
"Hey Oliver." whispered Gail "I just had to see you."
"We got him, didn't we? We got him…" said Oliver, clearly half asleep.
"Yes, yes, we did." Gail managed, pesky silent tears escaping from her eyes again.
"And you!" Oliver said, pointing a haphazard finger at Holly. "You take good care of her."
"That is just what I intend to do." said Holly in a shaky voice
As they turned to go, Celery caught them in both in an embrace before Gail had time to react. Kissing them each on the cheek she said "Thank you!"
Gail slumped silently in the passenger seat of Holly's car, pretending to stare mindlessly out the windshield at the pre-dawn city. She watched Holly nervously glancing at her out of the corner of her eye, excruciatingly aware of Holly's hand resting on her left knee. Even with all that had happened, the memory of that kiss still lingered on her lips, making her heat race. She was so tired. And then there was that ache, that longing to be wanted, to be held, a feeling that she had never experienced before with such intensity. It overwhelmed her, made her feel naked, and angry that she could be this vulnerable. She scowled and looked out the passenger window hoping Holly wouldn't notice.
"So, here we are" said Holly, pulling up in front of Gail's apartment and shutting off the car.
"Here we are." Gail echoed, staring at her knees.
They sat there for a moment in silence. Then Gail shyly reached out to take Holly's hand.
"I don't know how I would have made it without you," she admitted, her heart beating faster.
"I'm not going anywhere" said Holly in a barely audible voice.
Gail felt like something inside of her was cracking and melting.
"Please," She whispered, in a small voice that nearly stopped Holly's heart, "I don't want to be alone." She turned, wide eyed to look into Holly's eyes for the first time since they entered the car.
Holly couldn't help but notice how beautiful she was, her already pale features bleached blue white under the street light in the early morning gloom, her skin almost translucent with fatigue.
"I'm here" replied Holly quietly.
Neither of them moved.
"Actually," said Gail "Can we go back to your place?" quickly adding "It's not you, it's them. I just can't deal with any of them right now."
Holly smiled a warm, goofy smile, that would have annoyed the fuck out of Gail if it had been anyone else.
"Ok" said Holly, letting go of Gail's hand to start the car.
"Good" Gail replied, leaning back in her seat and closing her eyes.
Half an hour, or an eternity later, they pulled into Holly's parking space in the garage under Holly's building. Shutting off the car, Holly turned to look at her. With her eyes closed, Gail looked younger, almost fragile, it made Holly feel fiercely protective. She leaned over to tenderly kiss Gail on the cheek to wake her, but Gail was not sleeping. The brush of Holly's warm, soft lips against her cheek brought a sharp intake of breath, and a stampede of wild horses in Gail's solar plexus. Opening her eyes, Gail turned to catch Holly's lips with her own, while reaching up to tangle her right hand in Holly's hair. She felt rather than simply heard Holly sigh and moan softly as she closed her eyes and opened her mouth, meeting Holly's soft waiting tongue with hers. It was a strange, wonderful and terrifying feeling that melted her insides completely as the kiss became deeper and more intense. Sure, she had done this with guys before, but it had never felt like this. A shock of electricity coursed through her As she began to slide her left hand up Holly's intoxicatingly soft, firm stomach under her shirt.
Holly's head was spinning, but she knew they should stop, for now. Gail needed to sleep more than she needed this. With great effort she pulled away slightly.
"Gail" Holly panted "Let's go upstairs"
Gail looked into her eyes, nodded, and reached up to kiss her again. It was a long, slow kiss that could have gone somewhere if Holly hadn't pulled away again and gotten out of the car saying, "No, really, come on."
Gail groaned and let her head drop back against the headrest of her seat.
"Really?!" Gail said in her bitchiest tone, and glared, unused to having anyone else put on the breaks once she had made her move. But Holly only laughed and came around to open her door.
"Fine." Gail pouted, as she unbuckled her seatbelt and prayed that her legs would support her.
Holly smiled, extended a hand and pulled her to her feet. Gail expected her to let go as soon as she was on her feet, but Holly's hand remained firmly in hers as they walked toward the elevator. Panic began to set in as Holly pushed the button for her floor. Gail liked sex, and she was used to getting her way with men who found her ice queen beauty irresistible. She had often used it as a balm to make her pain, anger, and frustration go away, if only for a little while. This was different and she knew it. She knew she wanted Holly in every way, but now she was suddenly feeling insecure. She hated being insecure. Stuffing her hands into the pockets of her uniform jacket, she followed Holly out of the elevator, and down the hall. Holly took out her keys and opened the door to a spacious apartment. Walking into the living room Gail took it all in in one sweeping glance, from the overflowing bookshelves lining the walls, to the low modern furniture with it's clean lines, to the black marble topped counter that divided the kitchen from the rest of the living space.
"Oh my God! You are such a nerd!" smirked Gail staring pointedly at the coffee table covered in open scientific journals.
Holly smiled, extended a hand saying "Coat please," sharply reminding Gail of the first time Holly had kissed her.
She removed her jacket slowly, and fumbled with the straps on her kevlar vest, exhaustion returning suddenly, making sway unsteadily on her feet, jacket and vest falling in a crumpled heap on the floor from her hands. She sagged. Suddenly Holly was there, catching her in a fierce embrace she hadn't known she needed, until just then. Wrapping her arms around Gail, Holly kissed her on top of her head and murmured protectively " It's ok, I've got you, Love."
The word just slipped out. It broke over Gail like a wave and she began to cry into Holly's shoulder, great silent sobs that threatened to tear her apart. Holly pulled her in tighter, holding her as she could not remember ever being held. They stayed there for a long time, Holly rocking her gently and stroking her hair until her sobs subsided. Somewhat embarrassed, Gail pulled away.
"I'm sorry. I'm such a mess," she stammered still sniffling slightly, unable to look at Holly.
Holly cupped Gail's chin in her hand and turned Gail's face toward hers. "It's ok" she said leaning in to briefly kiss Gail on the lips with such tenderness it took Gail's breath away. Letting go of Gail, Holly said "The bathroom is over there if you would like to freshen up," directing Gail to an open door across the room, "There are towels on the left side of the sink, and a new toothbrush in the medicine cabinet"
In-spite of feeling like the walking dead, Gail stepped into the shower, giving herself time to think. She let the hot water wash away her tears and the emotional rollercoaster of the past few days. Through it all, no one was like Holly, no one. As she thought about it, it scared her because she really didn't want to fuck this up.
Stepping from the shower, there was a soft knock on the door. She briefly thought about answering it naked, but wrapped herself in a towel instead. Holly was there wearing that smile again, holding out an old t-shirt and shorts. "I thought you might be more comfortable in these" she offered.
"Thanks!" Gail smiled back, accepting the soft cotton and closing the door to put them on. Reaching for the fresh toothbrush, Gail was struck by a bolt of hot jealousy as she thought about why Holly might keep one on hand.
Holly waited in a state of nervous impatience in her living room, pretending to read a book at first, but now pacing around the room. She knew she should put Gail on the pull out couch in her office, but she didn't want to. As Gail emerged from the bathroom, Holly stopped pacing and said,
"There is a fairly comfortable pull out couch in my office, or you can..."
"Yes,!" Gail interrupted stepping forward.
Holly took a deep breath, heart racing, and lead Gail into her bedroom. They slid silently into the big low platform bed. Pulling Gail to her, Holly said, "You know we are going to have to talk about this, but not tonight. Go to sleep."
Gail began to protest, but Holly kissed her softly, saying "Ssshhh, sleep."
And finally, Gail let exhaustion win, wrapped in Holly's arms, feeling truly safe for the first time she could remember. Holly listened to Gail's breath against her shoulder become relaxed and even as she lay there stareing at the ceiling, aware of every inch of Gail's body pressed up against hers and the trust she knew that had brought Gail here.