DISCLAIMER: Copycat is the property of Jon Amiel and Warner Brothers, no infringement intended.
COMMENTS: It looks like I'm making a series of this. The first section (What If?) has three parts, just like this section. I'm working on completing the entire thing very soon. I have a standalone that I'd like to finish.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story switches between MJ and Helen's povs and each chapter is set further apart than the last section of this series.
SERIES: This is the second story in the 'Questions' series, following What If?.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The knock at the door startles me awake and I glance at the clock before untangling myself from my companion's embrace and making my way downstairs. I'm surprised that MJ doesn't even stir at the noise. She's usually a light sleeper, but the past week has been filled with one emergency call after another so rest has been at a minimal.
Out of habit and a hint of paranoia, I check the peephole before allowing our early morning guest into the apartment. I'm surprised by his identity but quickly unlatch the locks.
"Inspector, what are you doing here? Do you know what time it is?"
He has the courtesy to at least look sheepish at his appearance on my doorstep at 5:30 a.m.
"I'm sorry, Dr. Hudson, I know it's early. I, uh, I'm looking for MJ. She left her radio at the station last night and she's not at her apartment. I figured she might be here."
"She is. She's still asleep. Come on in and I'll go get her." I open the door all the way for him and he shuffles in with a small smile. "Have a seat and I'll wake her up."
He just nods and I disappear upstairs to the bedroom. MJ has shifted to her side and has confiscated my pillow. I creep closer to the bed and sit on its edge. Gently, I place a chaste kiss on her lips and watch as she smiles in her sleep.
"MJ," I whisper. "Come on, sweetie, time to get up."
She groans and tries to snuggle closer to me.
"Don't wanna," she whines but flops onto her back. When I don't say anything, she opens her eyes and reaches for my hand, which I immediately move out of her range. "Where do you think you're going?" she asks and lunges for me before I can stand up. "And what time is it?"
I allow her to rest her head on my thigh since she already has her arms wrapped securely around my waist. I run my fingers through her tangled hair.
"A little past 5:30," I tell her. "Nico is downstairs. He needs to see you."
She groans again but finally sits up. She smiles sleepily at me and sighs deeply.
"I guess I should get ready for the day. If he's here, it must be important."
I acknowledge her comment with a nod. Things with Nico have been tense since the incidents of six months prior. He resents that she spends so much time with me instead of him, especially with his hopes of rekindling their old relationship. Sensing my thoughts, she leans forward to brush her lips against mine before getting out of bed and heading toward the bathroom. I make my way back downstairs to find Nico where I left him.
"She'll be down in a minute. Would you like some coffee?" I ask as I go into the kitchen.
"Yeah, sure. Thanks." He gets up to follow me. "That looks just like the thing that MJ insisted on buying a couple of years back," he says as he eyes the coffee machine warily.
"It should. It belongs to her. She hated my coffee maker and wouldn't shut up until she replaced it with one she did like. She can be very persuasive." I chuckle at the memory of her petulant behavior every time she had to use my old machine, and then have to turn away from Nico to hide the blush of just how MJ persuaded me to make the coffee machine exchange.
He doesn't say anything but I can tell by the set of his jaw that he's not happy by the comment. Although he doesn't know that MJ and I are lovers, he does know that she spends a lot of time here. He just doesn't like to have the fact mentioned in his presence.
"I'm guessing this is an emergency," I reply as I pour him a cup of coffee. I busy myself with filling MJ's traveling cup as he answers.
"We had another drive-by and it's related to her case. I figured she'd want to see the scene before it gets cleaned."
"Yes, I would," she says as she makes her way into the kitchen. She offers him a smile as she takes my coffee out of my hands and takes a sip. She almost hums with appreciation before directing her attention to the man sitting at the bar across from us. "How many?"
"Two. Both males, young. Same markings as the last one."
"I guess we should go then." She turns to me and we exchange coffee cups. "Thank you." The three of us make our way to the front door of the apartment. At MJ's pointed look, Nico lingers at the building entrance just out of earshot. "I'll call you later. Let you know what's going on. And don't forget about tonight."
"I won't, but I'll understand if you have to cancel."
"I won't," she says firmly. I'm surprised when she stands on her tiptoes to kiss my lips gently. Meeting my eyes when she pulls away, she smiles encouragingly. "I'll talk to you soon."
"Be careful," I whisper.
"Aren't I always?" she laughs as she joins the man waiting at the door. I notice Nico's look of astonishment at our display but MJ just waves him outside. I sigh. It's going to be a long day.
I ignore the bewildered expression on Nico's face and make my way to the patrol car he has waiting for us. At first I think his silence will last, but I don't get that lucky as we're walking down the building steps.
"You want to tell me what all that was about?" he asks and the anger in his tone is unmistakable.
"What was what?" I respond just to irritate him.
"That kiss back there?!"
I just shrug, trying to reel in my own anger at his words and tone.
"I was saying goodbye to my girlfriend," I tell him as if I have no idea why he's making a big deal of the display.
He grabs my arm as we reach the last step and pulls me to a stop roughly.
"Mary Jane," he whispers furiously. "What the hell is going on? You're not gay. What has that woman done to you?"
"She's made me happy, and I would suggest you keep your words civil when you're talking about her. And before you start, she didn't turn me into anything. No, I was never attracted to another woman before I met her, but she didn't do anything to me. Whatever happened, just happened and I'm damn happy that it did. Besides, it's none of your business either way." I forcefully pull my arm out of his grasp and finish the short walk to the car. It takes him a moment, but he soon joins me. We're silent all the way to the scene.
We arrive at an abandoned warehouse on the lower edge of our jurisdiction. I'm met by the officers first to respond who direct me to the couple who found the body. I look over the scene before questioning those there. Nico remains quiet and distant during my investigation and it isn't until I'm ready to leave that he reappears by my side.
"I'll take you back, MJ. It'll give us the chance to talk," he says and points to his issued police car. I wonder briefly how it got here but then notice another inspector getting into his waiting partner's car.
"I doubt there's anything left to say," I tell him as I make my way to where the patrol cars are parked.
"Please, MJ, just talk to me."
I've never heard that level of desperation in his voice and pause to consider him a moment. Finally, I just nod my consent and follow him. We say nothing else until we're on the road back to the station house.
"Alright, Nico, what is it that we need to discuss?"
For a second I'm tempted to make a sarcastic remark but decide against it. If he's willing to talk, the least I can do is return the gesture.
"Six that's almost from the beginning! Is that why you brought her in on the Fowley case?"
"Of course not. I didn't even know her until after that case started."
"But you had to be sleeping with her during that case or right after it ended."
"Right after it ended."
"Jeez, MJ, why?"
"She's wonderful. Brilliant, attractive, funny, warm, caring, interesting. Why not?"
"She's a woman!"
I laugh at his incredulous tone. We've both handled this conversation better than I thought we would. I figured he'd be making derogatory comments and I'd have to shoot him.
"Yes, Nico, she is. She's an incredible woman."
"So, this is serious?"
"Yeah, it is."
I let that sink in for us both and Nico seems lost in thought for the rest of our car ride. I admit I was nervous about telling him about mine and Helen's relationship. I'm nervous about telling anyone, really, but I knew that it would get out eventually. Although she and I haven't discussed making our relationship public, I refuse to conceal my feelings for her.
"Hey. What'cha doing?"
I smile automatically when I hear her voice. No matter what else is going on in my life, talking to MJ reminds me that I'm safe and cared for.
"Just doing some rearranging. How's your day?"
"Hectic. No leads yet. Looks like I'll be working through lunch."
"I thought you might. What about tonight?"
"Still on. Unless something huge happens, I'll be free. Did you manage to get any sleep after we left?"
"Not really. I, uh, I can't sleep without you."
Emotional confessions are still hard for me but I know that MJ always appreciates hearing what I'm feeling when I figure it out.
"I'm sorry. About this morning. I didn't mean for Nico to find out about us like that."
"It's okay. I was just surprised. I didn't think you'd want anyone to know about us."
"I want everyone to know, but I should have talked to you about that first. You're sure you're okay?"
"I'm sure. How'd he take it?"
"Surprisingly well. He was angry and hurt, I think, but he'll get over it. There wasn't much yelling."
"Do you think he'll try to cause trouble for you?"
"No. Honestly? He'll try to change my mind for a while but eventually he'll accept my choice. But enough about him will you be going out today?"
"Yes. What do you need?"
"Could you stop by my place and pick up my tan blazer? I don't know if I'll have time."
"Sure," I laugh. "Anything else?"
"No, that's it. Everything else is already at your apartment. Hold on." I hear her talk to someone in the office for a second before she comes back to the phone. "Sorry. I have to go. I'll be there around 6, okay?"
"Alright. Be careful out there."
"You, too. See you soon."
It's been a long road in the past six months. After a harrowing experience with a serial killer, the real work was helping Helen learn to accept her new life. A new life which included me in almost every aspect. Our relationship developed very quickly and our bond was almost instantaneous.
A patrol car drops me off in front of her building a little before 6 and I slowly make my way up the steps. She's home. The car we picked out a few months ago is parked in her space and the wooden blinds in her apartment are open. She never stays out long when she goes out anyway. Using my key, I open the front door and creep quietly through the house. I hear her upstairs and I know that I could sneak up on her if I wanted to. I also know that if I did, she would get upset. To avoid a panic attack, I began making plenty of noise as I walk up the stairs.
"I'm here," she answers from the bathroom. Something seems different about the room but I can't quite figure out what. I'm standing in the middle of the bedroom when she comes out. "What are you doing?" I shrug off my curiosity and offer her a smile.
"Nothing. You look wonderful." I love to make her blush. "One would think you have a hot date or something."
"Or something," she replies boldly. "You're home earlier than I thought you'd be." I easily accept her into my arms when she comes to stand before me.
"I wanted to see you. I've missed this," I tell her as I hum against her shoulder. She tightens her hold on me and I feel her kiss the top of my head.
"MJ, why don't we just stay in tonight? We could cook dinner together and just relax. I know you've had a hard day and it would be nice to just spend some time together."
I pull away just enough so that I can see her face.
"Oh, no, you're the one who insisted that we try this new place. I know you've been looking forward to it."
"I know, I know. Alright, well, you should get changed. We're going to be late."
She pushes me toward the bathroom. I stand in the doorway to watch her as she chooses a pair of earrings. Shaking my head, I still can't get over the feeling that something's different about the room.
We enter the apartment later than usual and it bothers me that we forgot to set the automatic lights to come on in the living room. MJ seems to sense that I'm uncomfortable and turns on as many lights as possible as quickly as she can. I'm in the kitchen when she's finished checking the house.
"Setting the coffee machine for in the morning?"
"Yes. Considering how hard it can be to get you up, I thought it might save some time. It'll be ready for you when you get out of the shower."
"And here I thought it gave you something to do while you waited for me."
"It does," I reply as I move closer to her. "But if the coffee is making by itself, then I can keep you company instead of waiting for you."
"Ah, I see your reasoning now and I approve."
I love the drawl in her voice, especially during times like now when the twang becomes softer and more pronounced.
"I'm glad I have your endorsement." For a long moment, we just stare at each other and smile until I start to blush. "I'm going to head upstairs. These shoes are killing my feet."
"I'll be up in a minute. I want to double check the locks." By the time she joins me upstairs, I've already gotten ready for bed. When she comes out of the bathroom, she's brushing her hair and wearing my robe. "I should have asked you to pick up my jeans when you stopped by my apartment this afternoon."
"You know there's a way to avoid forgetting your things," I tell her, finally broaching the subject I've been thinking about for the past few days.
"You could bring all your things here."
She turns to look at me and I can see the confusion lighting her eyes.
"Are you suggesting something, Helen?"
"I just think it's foolish that you're still paying rent when you're never home. There's plenty of room here and this is where you are most of the time anyway. Why not just make the move permanently?"
"If you don't want to, it's okay. I just thought it made sense and "
Before I can finish my sentence, she's sitting next to me on the bed and kissing me breathless. It's a little while later when she picks up our previous conversation.
"So you think you're prepared to put up with me all day every day?" she asks and I laugh against her stomach where I'm laying.
"I do that now."
"Yeah, but right now you know you can kick me out and there's some place I could go. Some place, I might add, that you can find me."
"I can always find you. You're either here or at the station."
She's running her fingers through my hair and I smile against her skin as she laughs. A peace falls over us and I'm almost asleep before she speaks again.
"Are you sure?"
"I've never been so sure of anything in my life. I'm so sure it scares me," I tell her, repeating the words she said to me over six months ago when our relationship first began. "We'll start moving you this weekend."
"I love you."
I feel the tears sting my eyes at her shyly spoken words. I move so that I can look at her and softly kiss her lips.
"I love you, too," I tell her and can't stop the grin that I can feel spreading across my face. She matches my smile with one of her own before rolling us over so that she's stretched over me. Her kiss is rough and demanding and returned with full force.
I hear the front door open and close from my place at the computer. Knowing it's Helen, I sit quietly and wait for her to find me, which she does a few minutes later.
"How did your appointment go?" I ask when she comes to sit on the arm of my chair. She offers me a drink of her soda.
"It was fine. Getting easier. She asked me to remind you about your monthly appointment."
I'm never thrilled about going to the therapist, but I know that my going helps Helen to go so I don't complain. Instead, I wrap my arms around her waist and squeeze until she almost loses her balance.
"I'm glad you're back."
"What have you done this time?" She sounds exasperated but I can hear the underlining trace of humor in her voice. I just shrug.
"I don't know. It seems every time I sit down to this thing I do something wrong. I think it hates me."
She studies the screen for a moment, and then hits a few buttons. A second later, the black screen I couldn't escape from is replaced with the information I had been searching for. I start to say something sarcastic but the smug look on her face shuts me up.
"Hey, what do you say we go out for lunch?"
"You just want to get me away from your computers," I tell her teasingly and she just laughs.
"Come on. You have the entire day off and we should be enjoying it."
"We could enjoy it without ever leaving the house."
"We'll need to keep our strength up. Go. Put on some shoes. Let's go out."
I do as she requests. Normally, after a therapy session, Helen is ready to stay inside for the rest of the day. That she wants to go out is a good indication of how well her conference actually went. When I'm ready to leave, I find her waiting for me outside. She tosses me her keys and tells me to take her wherever I want to go.
"So, you and Helen have been living together for the past month. How's it going?"
"Very well. It's been easy," I reply and feel myself smiling.
"You sound surprised."
"In a way, I am. I haven't lived with anyone for several years. I thought it would take longer to adjust to being responsible to another person."
"And it's been easy to make that adjustment with Helen?"
"Yeah. I don't want to be anywhere else when I'm with her, you know? Work has always been my refuge, but I'd rather be at home than at the station now."
"It was her idea that you move in together? Did that surprise you?"
"Yeah." I hesitate until I can put my thoughts in order. "I worry sometimes that I pushed her into this relationship while she was vulnerable. Moving in together at her request is a good sign that she wants to be with me as much as I want to be with her."
"You doubted that?"
"She's had so much to deal with the last two years, especially in the last six months."
"She's made a lot of progress."
"I know and I'm proud of her. I was just afraid that I was more of a hindrance than a help. That I was there and causing her problems by forcing her into facing even more of her fears than she already had to face."
"Her trust issues, her drinking, her acrophobia weren't enough. I was pushing her to confront her fear of intimacy by offering her a relationship that she didn't need."
"You think she didn't need you?"
"I I, uh, I don't know what I thought."
"She's been very successful dealing with all of those issues. She hasn't had a drink in over six months, is venturing out on her own now, and has made friends outside of her Internet acquaintances."
"Yeah, she has. She's worked hard." I know the pride I have for Helen is evident in my tone. I can't help it. Whenever I think of how far she's come, I have to smile.
"Do you know why?"
"She wanted it. She was tired of being afraid." The question surprises me, which is one of the reasons I dread these monthly meetings. I never know what my therapist is going to say next.
"Did you ever stop to think that she finally has a reason to have a life again? That you gave that to her? She trusted you then and you came through for her. She believes in you, just as you believe in her. Every step she's taken in the last seven months, she did so because she wanted to, and because she knew she wasn't taking it alone. That's the basis of every good relationship."
I just nod. I hadn't thought of it like that before and needed time to let the idea sink in. Helen and I became close in a short amount of time, a matter of days, yet our connection never seemed odd to me. Although practically every aspect of our relationship was a new experience for both of us, it was a smooth transition from strangers to colleagues to friends to lovers. Once she entered my life, it felt like she had always been a part of it.
"She's stronger now," I finally say, grateful that Dr. Farris had given me time to absorb what we had been discussing.
"And she's still in love with you."
"Which means ?" the doctor prods.
"That she really wants to be with me; that it's always been her choice."
"Yes, I think so, too."
With those words, I smile ridiculously wide and feel absolutely giddy. As much as I wanted to get home before I came in here today, now I want that even more.
"I was approached by my publisher today." The statement catches her off-guard and she quirks an eyebrow, an indication for me to continue. "She called to talk."
"Really? What did she want to talk about?" From her tone, I know that MJ's interest is piqued. She's leaned against the counter while she waits for her coffee to make and has only been home for about half an hour, just long enough to change clothes and raid my Twizzler stash.
"She wants us to write a book about our experiences."
"Are you interested?" she asks as she pours herself a long anticipated cup of coffee. I wait for her to catch up and see the exact moment that my words sink into her brain. "Hold it. Did you say us? As in you and me? Helen, I don't know anything about writing a book. I'm a cop, not an author."
"It's fairly easy." Her skeptical look makes me laugh, which only makes her roll her eyes at me. "Besides, this one would be a little different than the last ones. My agent was thinking more along the lines of an autobiographical novel rather than a scientific study."
"Everything intellectual is easy for you. You're brilliant," she says as she makes her way into the living room. Sitting her cup on the table, she flops onto the sofa. "How much detail does she want?"
"Whatever we're willing to share." I follow and settle next to her on the couch. I stay just far enough out of reach so she can't distract me by playing with my hands.
"Are you ready for that?"
"I am, but don't avoid my question, Hel."
"I miss writing, and I would really like to do something productive. This book could be it." There's a pleading quality in her voice that I haven't heard in a while and suddenly I understand why this book is so important to her. I let her talk, knowing she needs to hear the words as much as she needs to explain to me. "I spent last year doing nothing but causing harm to myself and over half of this year trying to straighten my life out," she continues. "I used to be revered for my speeches, my books, my expert opinion, and then I became a crank, someone who no one wanted to listen to. I have to pull myself back from that, but I'm not ready to go on the lecture circuit again. This book will do more for my professional reputation than anything else I can think of."
"You're sure this is something you want to do? You know that I haven't kept our relationship secret from my coworkers, but telling our friends and telling the whole world are two entirely different things. You talk about your reputation. You're sure you're ready to come out to an international audience?"
"Mary Jane, I foster no false illusions that our relationship will escape judgment, but I can take whatever anyone throws at us. I love you. You're a part of my life, of my future, of me. Nothing is going to change that. If you would rather this book be strictly about our case, then that's what it will be and I won't mention the transformation our relationship has taken."
"It's going to be hard to avoid, don't you think? I mean, how else do you explain that we're now living together?" I ask playfully. I sigh but then offer her a smile as I reach for her hands. "All I ask is that you make me a little taller than I really am. I'll leave everything else up to you. You can call it poetic license."
"Does this mean you'll do it?"
"Go for it."
"Did I really look that scared?" she asks one afternoon. I glance up from my computer where I've been working to see her standing in the doorway of the office with the newest pages of the book dangling in her hands. I have to think for a second to remember exactly what she's talking about, but then I know.
"Yeah, you did. But I knew that you would be okay."
"I knew you would protect me," I tell her and shrug. She laughs but joins me at the desk.
"You make it sound like a book."
"I do. Actually, I've never been so devastated in my life. I thought he had killed you, so I was ready to die. As mellow dramatic as it sounds, when he shot you, I really felt I had nothing to live for. I just knew I wasn't going to make it out of that bathroom."
"But you lived."
"Thanks to you."
"You know, I, uh, I never told you how brave I think you are. You stayed alive despite the odds. I may have come in at the last second to kill the bad guy, but you managed to get away from him, to live until I could get to you."
"And you didn't give up." I reach for her, pulling her down so that I can kiss her lips. "Thank you."
"Aw, shucks, ma'am, I was just doing my job."
"Don't try that little girl routine with me, Inspector. I know better. I've experienced your wild side, remember?"
"I don't recall you complaining." This time she kisses me and I feel my concentration shift from the book to MJ. I want nothing more than to reaffirm that she's alive and safe and here with me now.
She tastes like raspberries and peppermint, which tells me that she's been eating her licorice and she's been craving a drink. But as her hand snakes its way under my t-shirt, I lose all sense of thought. I pull her up and let her direct us toward the bedroom while I try to walk backward as I nibble on her collarbone. It amazes me that after all this time I still desire her as much now as I did when we first met. I can't spend enough time with her and often find myself bringing paperwork home so that I can be with her. When I feel my knees hit the bed, I push her loose over-shirt off her shoulders and follow it with her tank top. Her skin is warm and soft, and I relish the feeling of it beneath my hands. My fingers trace the small scar that Peter Foley's scalpel left in her stomach before she makes me raise my arms so that she can remove my shirt. I pull her close to me and kiss her again. I feel her as she undoes the clasp of my bra and giggle as her hands come to rest on my sides. She smiles against my lips and pushes me onto the bed, which only causes me to laugh harder. Soon all our clothes are strewn about the room and our day's previous activities are completely forgotten. We're completely engrossed in each other.
A brief thought that we're never going to finish our book flashes through my mind, but when I feel her inside me, all conscious thought is gone. I crave this this feeling of security, passion, and love that she brings to me. We're an odd match, according to our friends, but we fit together so perfectly that their claims mean nothing to me. I know that I would not be here now if not for her, both figuratively and literally. She saves me every day we're together. I feel her kissing her way up my body, stopping to tickle my sides before crashing her lips to mine.
"Helen," she whispers when we part. "I love you."
Introduction of book:
Although the purpose of dreaming is not clear, Freud theorized that the manifest content of a dream essentially its action and story line is the surface manifestation, disguised and dramatized, of the latent content, which is the hidden desires and motives that the conscious mind has repressed. If the latent content is not sufficiently disguised, the result is frightening to the dreamer.
Basically speaking, a dream is what your subconscious wants to happens or fears is going to happen in your daily life. If what you've experienced in your day is not well buried, it will overtake your "sleeping mind" and wake you from your slumber. Nightmares happen to all of us at one time or another during the course of our lives.
After all this time, I still occasionally wake up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat, my heart pounding, and my breath coming in gasps. Because I've seen into the minds of men and women who derive pleasure from draining the life of innocent victims, I know what is out there and what it is capable of. However, I also know about the goodness the world holds. I learn a little more each day what faith means and how it feels to be loved. Although I worry over what could happen, have suffered the emotional, physical and mental pain that comes from experiencing a living nightmare, when I wake now with the fear that is so deeply embedded in me that I cannot escape it, I realize that even living nightmares are just dreams.
There are some events in life that you cannot forget, but not all of those are negative. Some, like the way my partner reaches for my hand in the night or the way she smiles at me across the dinner table, change my existence for the better. I'm constantly reminded that science is not always the solution.
We met during the worst time of both of our lives, but there was something in her eyes, in the way she looked at me, that I recognized as a kindred soul. Her intelligence was in her gaze, staring back at me in challenge. Though I didn't know it then, I would come to rely on her quiet strength to get me through the most difficult times in my life. From the beginning, I had faith in her and I knew she had faith in me, and I've learned the hard way that faith is more important than science.
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