Darkness surrounded them as they sat pressed against each other, their eyes locked onto the football game that was on the TV. It was their off day. After his promotion and her becoming a full-fledged police officer, their schedules were all sorts of misaligned. Tim was still at Mid-Wilshire, but still, they hardly had time to see each other. It was the rare moments that they cherished where they would stumble upon each other in the precinct between calls or the days were relatively slow, and they would meet up for a quick lunch before getting called away.
The weeks that Lucy had to go on thirds was even more taxing. Those long weeks they hardly got to see each other. It was a treat just for them to run each other as Tim was leaving for the night and Lucy was just rolling in.
The days that they had off together, they cherished. Sometimes they would go for a hike or have a beach day, but the ones they both enjoyed the most were the lazy days. Days that they could just stay home and relax and not have to worry about what was going to happen next.
The thunderstorms that were rolling through the city was an excellent excuse for them to pile up on the couch for a day full of NFL football on their screen. Tim’s arm was draped around her shoulder as Lucy tried to slot herself as close to him as humanly possible. They had already spent most of the day exactly like this except for the few moments that Tim reluctantly got up to grab them a quick snack or fix them something to eat, but soon he would settle back beside her and pull him close to him again. It was perfect. A fairytale that neither thought they would ever get to see.
They had been together for nearly eight months now. They started dating almost six months after Lucy finished her rookie year, they didn’t want to rush it or to make people think that she didn’t earn everything she had worked so hard for. She survived him being her training officer, she earned that. She earned the right to be recognized for that.
It was today’s like today that he wondered if he deserved this, deserved her. He wondered when the other shoe was going to drop, and Lucy was just going to walk out of his life as so many people had before. He always figured he didn’t deserve love. Growing up, he did not know what love was. His father was more willing to tune him up than give a warm embrace.
Truthfully, he didn’t know how to love. It was not something that he grew up around. His father was just as cruel to his mother as he was to him. What was supposed to be calm loving words were insults tossed around recklessly without thought. What was supposed to be loving touches were sickening slaps and punches. More than once he found himself taking the beating that was supposed to be for her. As he got older and stronger, his dad didn’t stop. The hits were harder and left darker bruises. He left home at seventeen right after he graduated high school. His dad always told him that he would amount to nothing, while his precious mother was the only voice of encouragement that propelled him forward. He showed up to basic training with a fresh black eye which the drill sergeants loved to pick at him for. He could handle the yelling, the jabs, and the insults, he was used to it. If his father had done anything right in Tim’s life, it had been making him tough mentally, and physically. That’s what helped him get by better than anyone else.
Then he got out of the military at twenty-five. He loved the service. He loved everything it stood for and he would never regret the last eight years. He was twenty-six when he applied for the LAPD and met Isabel. They went through the academy together and were eventually stationed at Mid-Wilshire alongside each other. They fell for each other fast. He felt things he never felt before. Was she his chance to find out what love really was? It felt like she was the start of something new. Something that felt so foreign was his. Something that he thought he would never get to experience was in his grasp.
Then it wasn’t. Isabel stopped coming home and when she did was at all hours of the night. He just knew that she was seeing someone else. The precious thing of love that he tried so hard to hold onto for twelve years slipped through his fingers and crashed to the ground. He tried to put on a brave face whenever he did see her, but it too started to crumble after some time. It was too late when he discovered it was drugs. She was already hooked and slipping deeper into the abyss. Then she stopped coming around at all. The LAPD had silently fired her and swept away any remnants of her employment with the department. His worst fear that he would roll up on her dead body in some back alley from an overdose.
It changed him. The year that he was sleeping alone at night while Isabel was probably out sleeping in the streets or with another man, changed him. His exterior hardened. His tempter was shorter than ever before. He bounced his rookie of the cycle out in less than two months. Loved was not meant for him. Almost as if he could never love someone the way that was needed to keep them from leaving.
The day that he met Lucy Chen and that smug little smirk on her face, he knew that he would have his hands full. Ever so slowly did she start cracking his hardened exterior. The day that he was exposed to the virus, she sat on the other side of the door all night keeping him company. On her evaluation day, she flipped the script and gave him an evaluation of his own. Even though it was the rookies’ bar tab, he still laughed about it to this day. When he pulled her out of the barrel and saw her lifeless form lying in the dirt, he knew he had to bring her back. He would not let her leave him. She was his responsibility. He was supposed to be a good cop and see the danger right in front of his eyes, but he didn’t, and she almost died. That’s what happens when he started to care for someone, they always leave.
Except she didn’t. Lucy did not leave. She came back as fierce as ever. She could have blamed him for everything and hated him for it, but she didn’t. Instead, she told him that it was not his fault. That he did not need to blame himself, even though he always will. Lucy was different from everyone else in his life. She did not blame him for everything that went wrong like his dad and Isabel.
It was the days like this that he got to hold her close that he cherished. With their job, they never knew if the other would walk back through the door. If he could spend the next twenty or so years doing just this, he would be a happy man. Did he deserve her? Did he do enough good things in his life to have her in his arm forever? Probably not, but he was not going to let go anytime soon.
Lucy leaned against him, her head resting on his shoulder as they watched the game unfold on the TV. She could feel him pull her in closer and she grinned against him. She never had a serious boyfriend. Things with Emmett were just that, things. There were no special feelings, it was just a good time. When he got a promotion across town, they never saw each other and decided it was best they called things off.
Lucy knew what love was. Her parents showered her with love and affection growing up. She had everything she could ever want or need. There was no yelling except in moments of delight or surprise. There was no hitting. No foul language being spat at her for no reason.
She grew up as a psychological experiment, but she knew what love was. She just never thought she would get to experience it with someone else. She dated Nolan during the academy and first months of their rookie year, but he dumped her without a second thought. A decision that she had been mulling over for weeks and he ripped off the band-aid effortlessly. Then things with Emmett and she was single again.
Everyone gave her their own piece of unwarranted advice. Date a cop, don’t date a cop, someone older, someone young. Being a cop was a risky job. She had to find someone that accepted the risk of her job. Lucy loved her job. It was a way to defy her parents and she loved that, she just needed someone to love it for her.
That’s where she got lucky without even realizing it. The day she first met him, Lucy just figured he was a stereotypical, hardass, former military cop, but she wrong. There were so many layers to Tim Bradford that she discovered under his surface. Some she was still finding to this day.
It took them a while to find each other. To find what was intended for them all along. Some might call it their destiny to be together. If she had never applied for the academy, there is no telling where she’d be in her life at this moment. Definitely not in his arms on his couch.
It was the small things between them that she treasured. There was nowhere else she’d rather be on her day off. Them being snuggled up on the couch watching football as a thunderstorm raged outside was a wonderful way to pass the day. She was content to have him told her until the day he couldn’t anymore.
They lucked into this thing called love. A chance meeting was a spiral that led them to where they were. Two lovers nestled together on the couch, not wanting to let the other go.
Did they deserve each other?
Yeah. They did.