“Ready to go?”
Carina finishes tying her left shoe. “Yeah.” She stands up. Maya holds her hand out and Carina steps to her side, taking Maya’s hand in her own.
Maya lifts their interlocked fingers and kisses the back of Carina’s hand. “If at any point this is too difficult you need to tell me.”
“I need to hear you say it.” Maya half smiles.
Carina licks her lips. “I promise, Maya. If it’s too much I’ll stop or I’ll tell you.”
“Okay. Let’s go.” Maya opens their apartment door.
They drive over. Maya has never been to Andrew’s place. She doesn’t know what to expect. A bachelor pad, maybe. A mess everywhere, perhaps.
She unlocks the door. Carina is wrapped around her from behind. She pushes the door open and steps into the room. She reaches to her right and flicks the light switch. It’s clean, clear. There’s hardly any clutter. The only thing that seems out of place is the tv remote laying at an angle on the middle couch cushion.
“What do we need to do?” Maya asks.
“Find his important information. I’m sure it’s in a safe or something.”
Maya hopes it’s not because then they need to find a key or know a combination. “Okay.” She takes another step but Carina clings to her. “Are you alright?”
“Y-yeah.” Carina stutters.
Maya is able to spin around. “Hey.” She takes Carina’s elbows in her hands. “Look at me.” Carina finally pulls her eyes up from the floor. “You can do this. I need your help.” Maya smiles. She knows Carina will respond to that. Carina always wants to help someone even if it’s at a detriment to herself. Maya is going to use that to her advantage right now. Not that she wants Carina to cause herself any harm or damage. She just wants Carina to know that she needs her.
Carina looks around the room. It’s a little unnerving being in Andrea’s apartment but she’s been her before so it’s somewhat familiar so that tamps down on the anxiety of it all.
Maya takes a deep breath. Slowly breathing in and then releasing it. Carina copies her on instinct, and it makes the blonde smile. “We need to find bank account information. Cell phone info. Passwords. Something. Something that can give us a start. A birth certificate. Social security card. Is he a US citizen?”
“So, yeah. Social security card. That’s important. You have his driver’s license?”
“Si.” Carina nods.
“Okay.” Maya takes a step backwards. And Carina takes a step forward. When Maya sees her moving, she lets go of Carina’s elbows and turns away from her. She starts opening all the drawers in the kitchen looking for anything that might be important.
It’s a small one bedroom apartment, so there’s really not a lot of area to cover. Carina walks into the living room portion of the room. It’s an open floor plan where only a little half wall separates the kitchen and living room. She goes over to the bookshelf. Her finger running over all the bindings on the books. She stops on the last one. A photo album, not a book. Carina pulls it from the bookshelf and tucks it under her arm. She goes over to the little table that sits at the end of the couch. She pulls open the drawer and finds take out menus in there. Carina laughs.
Maya’s head snaps around at the sound. She can’t believe she’s hearing Carina’s laugh right now. “What?”
Carina lifts them from the drawer to show Maya. “Take out menus. In the table, next to the couch.”
Maya smirks and shakes her head. “I’m gonna go in here.” She points at the bedroom. The fire captain really hopes she doesn’t find anything crazy in Andrew’s bedroom.
She goes into people’s homes all the time. Maya’s seen just about everything in her time as a firefighter, so not much surprises her. Whether it’s gross and dirty, beer bottles and cans, cat and dog shit covering the floor, dirty laundry laying everything, piles of trash. She’s seen it all, but there’s something different about seeing the private space of someone you know.
Maya pushes the door open slowly. There is a pile of dirty blue scrubs at the foot of the bed, but that’s about it. She goes to the nightstand and looks over the items on the top. Two books. A half glass of water. A bottle of pills. It’s a reminder that this place was lived in. That someone was here with the intention of coming back.
She sits on the bed, trying to get that thought out of her head. Maya breaths out a shaky breath and pulls the little drawer on the nightstand open. Inside, she finds a three full sized Milky Way candy bars and a handful of condoms. It’s her turn to laugh.
“What?” Carina is standing in the doorframe now.
“Look.” Maya points into the drawer. She’s not going to pick up the items like Carina did with the menus.
Carina comes into the room and looks. “Dio mio.” She shakes her head.
It’s hard being in her brother’s room. It smells like him, for one. And two, the items in and on the nightstand explain Andrew down to a T.
“You want under the bed or the closet?”
Maya’s question and focus distracts her though. “Under the bed. I just hope I don’t find any used condoms under there.” Carina jokes.
Maya stands up and wraps Carina up in the hug. “Can we stop thinking about your brother having sex?”
Carina slips her hand up to the back of Maya’s skull. She turns her head and presses a kiss to Maya’s temple. “I’m not thinking about it, you are.” She whispers.
“Sure.” Maya rolls her eyes. She pulls back and gets a look at Carina. She seems to be holding it together pretty well. Maya wonders if there will be repercussions later from this visit though. “Do you know if he was seeing anyone?”
Carina shakes her head. “No. He wanted to focus on himself for a while and just being stable and getting his footing back at work. My guess is those condoms are months and months old.”
“Should we do something with them?” Maya grimaces as soon as the words come out of her mouth.
Carina gives Maya the most puzzling look. “What would we do with condoms?”
Maya rolls her eyes. “Can you forget I said anything?” She rubs a hand over her face in embarrassment. “I just- if it were me, I don’t think I would want someone coming in and finding my condoms.”
Carina’s puzzled look towards Maya gets even more puzzling, if that’s possible. “Maya, I-“ She doesn’t even know what to say.
“I’m gonna stop talking. Just look under the bed. I’ll look in the closet.” She watches Carina squat down before getting on her knees to look under the bed.
Maya goes over to the closet and pulls the door open. A bunch of dress shirts, and pants stare back at her. Maya looks up at the shelf above the clothes. She spots a box on the shelf. She reaches up to grab it but it’s just out of her reach. Maya jumps and tries to grab it, but she ends up pushing it further back on the shelf. She jumps again. This time with a little grunt as she stretches to reach the box.
Carina comes up behind her and puts a hand on the small of Maya’s back. Maya steps to the side. Carina reaches up, standing on the tip-toes and gets the box in her hand.
“Show off.” Maya mumbles.
“I’m not that much taller than you, bambina. Don’t get all turned out of shape about it.” Carina kisses her cheek.
Maya just grins at Carina little an idiot.
That is until Carina shoves the box into Maya’s stomach with a smirk. She saw Maya looking at her with those lovesick puppy dog eyes.
Maya grunts but doesn’t say anything. She wraps her hands around the box and Carina lifts the lid.
“Bingo.” Maya whispers.
“This is what we need.” Carina says.
“I just said that.” Maya looks up from the box.
Carina shakes her head. “No, you didn’t. You said bingo.”
“Well, that’s what I meant. That’s what bingo means.” Maya takes a step away from Carina, shifting the box to one arm and flipping through its contents with her other hand. “This is everything. We can go now.” She thinks the quicker they get out of here the better.
“Maya.” Carina’s lower lip starts to quiver at the thought of leaving. There has been something soothing about being in the place where Andrea spent his spare time. Carina didn’t think it would be that way at first. She was terrified to come here; but Maya said she should come so she didn’t have any regrets of not coming. But now that she’s here she doesn’t want to leave. If she leaves, if they close the front door, that’s it. He’s gone.
Her eyes fill with tears, her legs are shaky.
Maya sees it all happen. She throws the box on the bed and catches Carina a second before she crumbles to the floor. She wraps her arms around her waist and gently lowers Carina to the floor. “You’re alright. You’re going to be alright. I’ve got you.”
Carina turns in Maya’s arms, fisting her shirt in her hands, sobbing into her shirt. “He’s gone.” She sobs.
Maya closes her eyes and clenches her jaw. “Yeah. He’s gone.” She whispers shakily. She rubs her one hand up and down Carina’s back the other remains holding her around the waist.
She doesn’t know how long they sit on the floor. Maybe thirty minutes. Carina stopped crying a long time ago. She hasn’t said anything since though. Maya doesn’t rush her, but they can’t sit here all day. “Do you think you can stand?”
Carina nods against her chest.
“Okay. I’m going to stand up first. You stay here.” Maya gets to her feet and holds out her hands. She waits until Carina puts her hands in her own before pulling Carina to her feet. “Good?” Maya raises an eyebrow.
Carina nods again.
“Okay.” It makes Maya a little nervous that Carina hasn’t said anything. “Let’s go home.”
Carina shakes her head.
“We have to, baby.” Maya wants to roll her eyes at herself. Baby? She doesn’t say that. But it’s trivial right now. “Here.” She lifts her arms. “Wrap your arms around me. Hold on tight.”
Thankfully, Carina does as she asks. Maya turns and grabs the box and slowly starts to make her way out of the bedroom. As they pass the couch, Maya grabs the photo album that was resting on the arm of the couch and tucks that under her arm along with the box.
They make it to the door before another heartbreaking sob escapes Carina. She grips onto Maya tighter as Maya shuts the door. Maya shuffles them out of the building and into the car.
Back at their apartment, Maya gets her a glass of water as Carina goes into their bedroom and crawls into bed. She ends up sleeping the entire afternoon.
And Maya lets her. She goes through the box and sorts through the information. The photo album sits on the other end of the table. She wants to look at it but knows she should wait for Carina. Maybe they can look at it in few weeks when some of the pain fades and Carina can talk about all the pictures and share stories about Andrew with her. At least, that’s Maya’s hope.
Ben is picking them up at six. The memorial is to start at seven.
Maya woke Carina up at four-thirty after she heated up some soup, thinking that Carina probably wasn’t going to be hungry. But knowing that she had to eat something to keep up her strength; knowing that soup will likely be the easiest to get down right now.
Maya feels it too. She has no appetite. She’s not hungry at all. Today was hard. And tonight, is going to be hard. She knows. Maybe it’s the anxiety of tonight that keeps Maya’s appetite at bay. She’s worried about all the people. Carina’s grief, and some of Maya’s own, has only been dealt with in private. The way it should be, Maya thinks. But tonight, they are going to be surrounded by Andrew’s colleagues and friends. It almost puts an unfair pressure on Carina to act a certain way, to present herself in a certain way. Maya isn’t going to bring it up though. She doesn’t even know if Carina has thought about it. Probably not. She’s got too much else going on to think about her hospital co-workers and what they might think of her grief or her grieving process.
She gets Carina to eat a little and then suggests they take a shower, together.
“Maya, that’s not appropriate.” Carina scolds her lightly.
Maya smiles. “Not like that, silly. Let me wash your hair. Let me take care of you.”
Carina closes her eyes. “Maya.” She sighs.
“I know. Come on.” She tugs on Carina’s hand getting her into the bathroom. She pulls Carina’s sweatshirt over her head as Carina lifts her arms. She lets Carina unbutton her pants and pull them down her legs herself, Maya getting undressed herself in those moments. She starts the water and waits a second before stepping into the shower. “Carina.” She holds her hand out.
Carina takes a deep breath and puts her hand in Maya’s and steps into the shower. The warm water cascading over her head. Maya swipes her wet hair back away from her face before wrapping her arms around Carina’s waist.
Maya sways them back and forth lightly. “I love you.” She whispers before pressing her lips to Carina’s collarbone.
Carina wraps her arms around Maya’s shoulder. “I love you, bambina.” She actually feels it this time.
“Good. Let’s get you clean.” Maya rubs her hands up and down Carina’s sides.
That gets a little giggle out of Carina.
As promised, Maya washes Carina’s hair, and then uses a washcloth to wash the rest of her body.
“What about you?” Carina asks when Maya is finished.
“Don’t worry about me. I got me.” Maya squirts a little bit of conditioner into her palm. “Turn.” She instructs and when Carina turns, she rubs the conditioner into the long dark tendrils of hair. She knows it’s not appropriate timing, but she can’t hold her thoughts in as she looks over Carina. “You’re so beautiful.” Even when Carina is sad and in pain, Maya can still see how absolutely beautiful she is.
Carina turns around, putting her hand on Maya’s throat, staring at her. Part of Carina wants to just dive in and kiss Maya senseless. Something about trying to push the pain away. She’s done that before. With Maya. And she doesn’t want to use Maya like that again. She doesn’t want to use sex with Maya to try to forget about Andrea or her problems. Not this time. Not ever again. Maya means more to her than that.
“Carina?” Maya isn’t sure what the look in Carina’s eyes means. She’s still trying to learn them all, but Andrew’s death has thrown a whole bunch of new looks in Maya’s direction in a short amount of time. “Are you-“
“I’m okay. Stop asking me that.” Carina huffs angrily and gets out of the shower.
Maya stands there with her mouth hanging open. “O-kay.” She tries not to dwell on the anger that Carina just threw at her and focus on showering herself and then getting dressed for the memorial service.
Carina finds Maya’s hand in the darkness as Ben drives them to the hospital. She needs to apologize. They are both sitting in the back seat. Though, Maya is keeping her distance now. She’s all the way on the other side of the car, pressed up against the opposite door.
Maya glances over at Carina. She thinks about pulling her hand out of Carina’s but knows it would be seen as unnecessarily cruel by Carina. She knows Carina didn’t mean to get angry with her. She knows Carina is just frustrated and grieving. And she also knows Carina is trying to make amends right now.
Maya squeezes Carina’s hand. She can see the tiny hint of a smile it brings to Carina’s face.
“I’m sorry.” Carina whispers.
“I know.” Maya gives her a small nod.
Ben pretends like he doesn’t hear them right behind him.
“I’m sorry I snapped at you. I’m just tired, and overwhelmed, and everything feels so raw and like it’s too much most of the time.”
“Come here.” Maya lets go of Carina’s hand so she can hold her arm open.
Carina undoes her seat belt and slides over to the middle seat, buckling in there, sitting next to Maya. Maya wraps her arm around Carina. She presses a kiss to the side of her head. “Don’t worry about it. Thank you for apologizing. You are very much forgiven. I know you didn’t mean it. I know you are grieving.”
“Ti amo, Maya Bishop.”
Maya hums. “I love you too.”
“We’re pulling up now, ladies.” Ben informs them.
Carina straightens up, running a hand over the front of her shirt. Have to look presentable in front of all these people. She takes a deep breath as the car comes to a stop.
Maya finds Carina’s wrist quickly, giving it a gentle squeeze. “You’ve got this.” She whispers.
They get out of the car.
After the memorial service. They go home in silence. Maya turns the lights on after she unlocks the door. Carina follows her into the apartment. They don’t say anything while they undress and get ready for bed.
There’s a weird feeling in the air. Maya doesn’t want to bring it up, but she can feel it. With one look at Carina, she knows Carina feels it too. With the memorial service over, it’s done. That’s the weird vibe, feeling. Maya wonders what’s next. She’s never had to bury a family member before. It’s uncharted territory for her. She knows there’s no playbook for this kind of thing, but it would be helpful right now. She wants to ask Carina all sorts of questions, but she knows she shouldn’t. She knows it would be too much right now, so she keeps the silence.
Carina focuses on the buttons on the front of her silk pajama top. Her mind surprisingly calm right now. She doesn’t know if it’s peaceful calm or some sort of other calm. The calm before another impending storm. Just a brief respite before another wave over grief comes along. The hand on the lower part of her back makes her jump a little. That’s something that she’s been doing. Jumping at any little touch from Maya. She doesn’t mean to, but everything was too much for a little bit. She doesn’t want Maya to think that she doesn’t like or appreciate her touch because she does. It’s one of the only things that makes her feel grounded right now. It’s just the initial contact that she jumps at. She’s jumpy about other things too, she finds. Sudden loud noises, the lightest touch, cars honking their horns outside. Carina hopes it doesn’t linger, doesn’t last long, and she can shake it off as time goes on.
“You good?” Maya careful not to ask if Carina is okay or alright.
“Yeah.” Carina’s voice comes out rough, scratchy. She tries to clear her throat, but she feels the soreness, the sandpaper-like feeling.
“I’ll make some tea.” Maya offers as if she can feel Carina’s sore throat.
Carina nods, looking over at Maya with what she hopes is a thankful smile.
They have tea and go to bed. Carina tosses and turns all night. Maya wakes up multiple times to it. She always wraps herself around Carina and holds her close. Carina usually snuggling up against her and falls into a light sleep again.