DISCLAIMER: All Cold Case characters belong to CBS, Jerry Bruckheimer and his cohorts. Not me.
WRITTEN FOR: the Femslash Today Guns & Microscopes ficathon.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: Set first couple of episodes Season 3.
All My Best Moves
Open plan offices make me nervous, a weird combination of claustrophobia and paranoia. There's nowhere to hide and there's too much light and not enough shadows, not enough substance. They're all watching me, the newbie, the new girl, and that's not paranoia. Stillman's made me welcome but then he ran with my dad back in the day and even though I hate that 'connections' crap, it does make life easier sometimes. Even if he does feel that I've let the old man down. We still talk about him though, it's part of the ritual with guys like Stillman, the establishment of lines and boundaries. I'm still 'one of the guys' even though I'm a girl. For the sake of my father. The trouble is I always seem to say the wrong thing to these men who hold my dad's memory in such high regard. But then I tell myself that they really didn't know him like I did.
The rumours have followed me here like I knew they would. White told his tale long and loud and of course the boys club that is Philadelphia's Finest laps it all up. I give Stillman the answer that he wants when he asks how I'm doing he does know the whole story, my captain made sure of that - the answer my dad might have expected and he seems satisfied. It won't last. I have this knack for finding trouble I always did. Then the doubts will creep in. If she's capable of this then maybe she was capable of that Nothing lasts. The wheels of my world turn pretty fast sometimes. But I'll do the job, give them my best moves. For however long I have before the wheel turns again.
It's not difficult to see who I really need to impress here Lilly Rush. The blonde is the driving force behind everything that goes on here. Stillman might have the rank but Lilly is the heart and soul, a crusader if I'm not mistaken. Cold cases are far more than just a job to her. There is something about her though
I realise what it is as soon as those intense blue eyes settle on me for the first time. Lilly Rush sees the real you the one hiding behind all the crap, the attitude, the bravado. This is how she is with the cases, watching, listening, weighing everything up. She instinctively recognises a lie when she hears it. And I realise that Lilly will never jump to conclusions about my past based on the gossip which was far more lurid than the desperately prosaic not to mention pathetic truth about my situation with Sergeant White at Northeast warranted. The bastard stalked me. He sat outside my house every night, watching, taking photo's. I was tired of looking over my shoulder every where I went, of people I talked to being harassed.
The trouble is I don't want to bond with her just because we're both women in a man's game. Especially when my 'rival' appears to be treated by our male colleagues with all the deference due a living saint.
I got the 'honour' of closing out the case file on my first case with the Squad and the enormity of it all struck me as I put the box on the shelf. I looked around. It was like the end of the first Indiana Jones movie, in the warehouse where all the 'lost' things go. There are enough unsolved cases in this room and others like it to last a lifetime. All that grief, all that pain, all that anger. All those lies. And if I stayed I would have to walk through it every day. It certainly put my own problems into perspective. It was up to me dig over my own past over and over again or concentrate on that of someone else. Give someone else the gift of closure, of peace of mind.
Scotty sort of invites me to their "First Thursday" ritual after Vera pointedly does not. I'm not going to go right up to the point where I walk through the doors of Jones Tavern. I can't decide whether this is a bad idea or not. A new start, I tell myself, trying to forget that socialising after hours with the 'boys' is exactly what got me into this mess in the first place. Whilst no one looks exactly overjoyed to see me, only Vera continues with the attitude. I'm going to have to take him down sooner or later, I know.
Lilly moves her stool closer to Scotty and for a moment I'm not sure whether she's making room for me to sit or staking her prior claim to the young detective. I decide to give her the benefit of the doubt. And the way my radar has been working, it isn't Scotty that Lilly is interested in.
So, I'm sitting with them but I'm not part of them, not yet maybe not ever. They are under no obligation to like me after all. I've heard things these last few days, gossip that's not about me and what I did or didn't do with Sergeant White for a change, half tales about the bonds between these people, between Lilly Rush and these men. I've never had that kind of closeness with anyone I worked with, or even had a relationship with, not when it didn't involve sex and even then sometimes it was only sex. Outside of the bed there was nothing. Men or women, it doesn't seem to make a difference. Maybe it's me.
"Jo, what are you drinking?" Scotty asks, reclaiming my attention.
"Coors, bourbon chaser," I tell him. It's what my dad used to drink with his buddies on poker night, what I used to drink when I was with them. I need my comfort zone. The drink will give me something to do with my hands, something to fill the silence with and later if I do happen to get drunk that will be the perfect excuse if anything happens. Lilly's hand brushes against my leg and the first time I discount it as an accident. A couple of minutes later it happens again and her touch lingers, her fingertips seeming to burn through the thin material of my jeans. Again, I pretend not to notice but as her fingers slowly glide away I lower my own hand to brush along the back of her hand for a moment and her fingers still, stay.
I never imagined that an hour later we would be kissing.
Vera's comments in my direction if not to my face got nastier as the night progressed and no one was exactly leaping to my defence. One comment in particular hit home and I stumbled to my feet, muttered something to the effect that he was the biggest asshole I'd encountered in quite some time, snagged my jacket and purse and headed for the rest room. Behind me I heard Scotty and Will, the burly black detective tell Vera to cut it out. Rush hadn't said anything to condemn or condone what the jerk had said but the sense memory of her touch lingered and I was puzzled at how comforting I found it.
I did not cry it's really not my style but I stood and gazed at my reflection for several long minutes trying to decide whether or not I liked what I saw, whether this stand I was taking was going to be worth it in the long run. Why should I have to prove myself? If that's the conclusion that they automatically come to that I'm the guilty party and White is the poor victim I set my teeth into then screw 'em. I'm not gonna confirm or deny. Why should I waste my time defending my innocence if they want to jump to conclusions about me and they don't damn well even know me. Fuckers with their double standards. No one gives them the up and down in the office like they had no right to be there. They don't have to give a presentation on their personal life.
I had no idea how long Lilly had been standing behind me before I noticed her reflection beside my own. It was strange that I recognised the darkness in her eyes before I recognised the woman and at first it's a surprise to me that Saint Lilly has such pain in her soul. Then I remembered some of the snippets of gossip I've picked up over the last couple of weeks, something about a sister and more about a skell called George Marks who by all accounts did a real number on her head. I know what it's like to lie to yourself and to the rest of the world because it's easier than letting them see the real you it's easier than acknowledging what a monumental fuckup you are. I wonder if George saw the real Lilly. The old saying is true enough. Everyone has secrets, even saints and skells.
"You okay?" Lilly asks.
Don't be kind, don't be sweet, don't be understanding, I silently beg. Not my style, lady. "Yeah," I drawl. "Usually takes more than a fat prick mouthing off to get to me but I've had a lot of changes to adjust to these past months. Figured punching his lights out might not be the best way of settling into the squad."
"Don't know about that," Lilly observed. "I can see some merit in the idea." She grinned, after a moment I grinned back. She had the prettiest smile.
"I just needed some space for a minute," I said. "I'm fine, really."
"The stench of testosterone can get a bit much after a while. Look, I got the same shit when I joined the squad, no consolation I know," Lilly said. "It doesn't last. Vera can be a pig sometimes but he's okay once he gets the macho crap out of his system. To be honest, I really do think he likes you. He's just doing a good job of hiding it for now."
I smiled again but this time had serious doubts whether it reached my eyes. "Lucky me." Thank god he wasn't my type. But then Sergeant White hadn't exactly fit the bill either. "I'm the new girl. I know how it works," I shrugged. "I can handle Vera, don't worry. I've dealt with worse believe me."
"You shouldn't have to Neither of us should."
"You're okay, they respect you. You've never "
"Double standards, I know. Male officers can get away with sleeping around. Women are fair game. But women officers "
I wanted to tell her the truth but I wasn't ready for that level of intimacy. This isn't Cagney and Lacey. I allowed her to guide me back into the bar. We sat down. As if by magic another bourbon and Coors appeared in front of me. Someone was apologising, I wasn't quite sure who. I savoured the bourbon. I was drinking too fast I knew but at that point I really didn't care. Most of my new 'colleagues' had made up their mind about me in two seconds flat after all. So much for waiting on the evidence before forming a conclusion. But at least Lilly had my back.
Will and Stillman were talking softly, probably about baseball. Scotty had got challenged to a game of pool and Vera had hauled himself over to the tables as well to heckle and probably get a little betting action going. That left us girls.
"So what does make Lilly Rush tick?" I asked.
"There's no great mystery," she smiled, her long fingers tracing circles on the pockmarked table. "I have my job which I love. And my cats. I've a sister Christina, who I hear from every now and then but our lives don't connect that much. And that's about it."
"Sounds lonely." I caught the bartender's eye, pointed to my empty shot glass. Actually it sounded like mine minus the felines, of course. "Do you want another beer?"
"No thanks, I'll make this last," she said. "And it's what you get used to. I'm dealing with people all day so a little lone-time when I get home isn't a problem." She eyed the bowl of pretzels, her fingers straying towards them for a moment before curling back around her glass of beer.
She told me a little about her experiences. Rumours had circulated about her and Scotty a couple of times; they were partners, they saw each other socially sometimes outside of work, they had a rapport that extended past the Job. She didn't want that to change any time soon which was why the few times he had suggested taking their relationship in new direction she had gently but firmly turned him down.
The guys were discussing the case we had just closed, how everyone who should have been there to give those two young people the advice and guidance they needed had let them down or put their own agenda first. Interestingly, their sympathies were firmly with the girl. With mother and daughter now reconciled we hoped for a happier future for them both.
"You did good today, you've got the right instincts for this job. Northeast must have been sorry to lose you." So she wasn't all-knowing after all.
"You're the one with the instincts," I said. "You you seem to give so much of yourself to the case."
"I'm just after a resolution the same as everyone else," Lilly said. "But I try, I really am trying not to let the Job be my life. "I read I run I listen to music I talk to my cats. I try not to bring it home at the end of the day. So far so good."
"So far," I pointed out. "But the fact that we're having this conversation "
"I know. You're easier to talk to somehow than most of the others. I'm not sure why. Scotty and I we used to be able to talk." And I've had too much to drink.
"You two have a history?"
"Yes but not in the way that you think. He dated my sister, Christina. And she treat him very badly. I tried to warn him but " she shrugged. "At first he didn't believe me, he thought it was sour grapes and then when it all went bad well, he blamed me for that as well."
I watched as she ran her fingers through her fringe for a moment. The slightly tousled look suited her. The dim lighting made her pale skin almost luminous, her eyes deeper and darker. As Lilly smiled at me I realised that I had been caught staring.
"Sorry," I muttered.
"Don't be," Lilly said, somewhat cryptically. "So, Detective Sutton, if our Vera doesn't set your pulse racing, who does make your heart beat faster?"
Someone younger fitter blonder female. This wasn't the place and it sure as hell wasn't the time to be having this conversation. I'd only been on the squad five minutes. Then Lilly's lips touched mine and I don't care anymore.
There's a distinct lull in the conversation. Stillman and Will are grinning. Vera's mouth is open, then he breaks into a real shit-eating grin and I know that my difficulties with White are ancient history. And Scotty Scotty looks like his world has ended. He's been sniffing around me the last couple of days but I don't think its me that's broken his heart.
Lilly watches and waits. The memory of her kiss burns into me. Wherever this goes I'll always have that. I want that. I want her. I want her to save me. I don't care what the repercussions will be.
Give me your best moves, Lilly. Save me.
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