Tim finishes taking Del Monte’s statement, shaking his head impressively at the way the two men had managed to dodge the hitman and play a terrifying game of cat and mouse. Some days he really believes they make it to a scene in the nick of time, and it sure felt like that when they found the man shooting into the supply closet the guys had found safety in.
So, okay, he had lied to Lucy. It’s not just about catching criminals; it’s pretty badass saving the day too.
When he searches for Lucy, he sees her in an empty office across the hall. Her hands are on Chris’ chest as if counting his heart rate, and her face is stark with relief and shock now that the adrenaline has faded. They’re talking quietly but even with her in uniform in a professional capacity, it’s obvious that there’s something personal between them, something hinting at an out-of-work familiarity.
Del Monte happens to glance over too. “They together?”
“Uh…” Tim pauses, unsure if Chris and Lucy are broadcasting it publicly. They don’t work together per say, but there is a disclosure clause and he’s not sure if they’re official yet. “Maybe?”
Del Monte shoots him a curious look. “Huh. Interesting. I always thought she and—” But he stops himself before he continues.
“Nothing, never mind. I almost died tonight, man, don’t listen to me. Thanks for the save.” He gives Tim a friendly pat on the arm as he shuffles off to his office, probably searching for that drink.
After giving orders to another officer on scene, Tim makes his way across the hall, knocking on the glass respectfully before he intrudes on their moment. “Hey,” he nods at Chris, “you okay, Sanford?”
“Yeah, thanks,” he nods back. “You miss one call from your girlfriend…”
Tim blinks in concealed surprise at the label; he didn’t know they’d made it official. It hasn’t been that long, that disastrous double date was only last month.
Well… good for them.
When he turns to Lucy, she looks shaken, her big, brown eyes wary as she pulls her hands out of Chris’ for the sake of professionalism.
He’ll let it slide tonight.
“Can you wait here for the forensics team and get a ride back? They're on their way.” Lucy nods at his request. “I’m gonna head to the hospital, Grey’s out of surgery.”
Her eyes brighten at the good news. “Tell him I said hi.”
“Yup. Goodnight,” he nods to both of them before he makes his way to the stairwell. When he looks back out of the corner of his eye, Lucy has a wobbly smile on her face as she listens to whatever Chris is reassuringly telling her. Her hands rest on his chest again though Tim’s pretty sure the guy’s heart rate must have settled by now.
But at least the terrified look is out of her eyes.
Tim recalls a time when Lucy had been worried about him. When he had to take time off after being administered the vaccine, she’d texted him every other day and even managed to send over home cooked food with Angela.
He wonders if Lucy’s already planning a list of meals to make for Chris. It’s how she shows her affection and her worry — soup and lasagna and shrimp stir fry boxed up in uniform Tupperware containers with bright lids. She makes it clear that she cares, that you’re being thought of and you won’t slip through the cracks on her watch. That she’s waiting for your recovery and return, that you matter to her.
There’s a tiny twinge of jealousy, or maybe regret for what he’s never had, what he never will.
Sanford’s a lucky guy.
She’s quiet again the next day.
He doesn’t question her this time because he figures he knows what’s on her mind, what with her new boyfriend having been thirty seconds away from kicking the bucket.
It’s a pretty routine day with a couple expired tags, two domestics, and chasing a stolen car that gave up after only two busy LA blocks.
“At least he was smart and pulled over,” Lucy comments after they’ve changed out of their uniforms and are making the trek to the parking garage.
More often than not, Tim finds himself waiting and walking with her to their cars. It’s become a post-work ritual even though it’s not one he’s had with a rookie or anyone he’s ridden with. As friendly as he has become with some of the other officers after a decade plus at Mid-Wilshire, he’s more than ready to be rid of them after a 12 hour shift.
But with Lucy? He doesn’t seem to mind.
After all, they’re headed in the same direction.
“Smart? Really?” Tim scoffs, giving her a look. “Grand theft auto and inebriated?”
“He was barely drunk,” she argues, but ruins the effect by laughing. “Okay, fine, you win. But it was considerate of him not to lead us on a long car chase before shift change.”
Tim lets her have that one.
“You have plans with Chris? How’s he doing?”
“Shaken up, but okay. He’s new to the job so it’s his first… uh, encounter with life or death,” she relays. Her brown eyes go stormy as if remembering all too well her many incidents wrestling with fate on the job so far.
“He’ll be fine.”
They approach her car, and this is usually where he turns right and heads for his truck. But something stops him today. Maybe it’s the look that passed over her face as if she suddenly flashed back to being buried alive, or maybe it’s the way she’s been quiet all day, knocking him off kilter with her silence.
“Hey, you weren’t serious, were you? About the lawyer thing,” he clarifies when she furrows her brow at him.
“Why?” She arches an eyebrow at him in challenge, leaning against her car so she can look up at him. “Wanna bet how well I’d do on my LSATs?”
Tim huffs out a breath of exasperation at her joke, but before he can speak, her eyes light up and she adds, “Ooh, you can help me study since I helped you!”
“I’m not gonna— come on,” he takes a step closer to her as if it might help get his message across, “you were kidding.”
She drops the teasing tone to exhale deeply, rolling her head back and running a hand through her hair. “I guess? Chris is right that progressive lawyers can create change faster, but… I also love what I do. That’s why I’m doing this.”
“And you’re good at what you do,” Tim emphasizes, standing next to her against her car and nudging her arm with his elbow so she looks up at him speculatively.
“Yeah? I’m good at ‘catching criminals’?” she asks, echoing the words he’d used in the shop the other day.
He winces, then admits, “Okay, that was a little too simplistic.”
“Ya think?” She gives Tim one of her patented I’m not hurt, I’m just disappointed-looks and he hurries to further elaborate.
“Obviously we do more than that. We’re keeping people safe, and we’re managing public order in times of chaos. And… you’re right, we can create change, but it’s slow. Which isn’t what you want to hear since you millennials have no patience.”
“Hey!” Lucy interjects with a scowl, “That’s not—”
“But in another way, it is instant. We’re the first faces people see on what might be the worst day of their lives.” They both sober immediately thinking of the woman they’d pulled out of the car the other day, the one with no pulse, the one whose mother they had to relay a death notification to. “That’s why training is so important and rigorous. When you respond to a call, you could change someone's life with every interaction. That’s a responsibility you need to be aware of every day when you put on the uniform. Because if you mess up, we all mess up.”
Tim stops abruptly, realizing how much he said with a passion he hasn’t felt in so long. She’s staring at him with a fond smile on her face, stars in her eyes, and he flashes back to a memory in the precinct gym last year — it’s probably why you excel at being a cop. He remembers how those words had made him feel. He shifts uncomfortably, narrowing his eyes at her. “What?”
“Nothing,” she shakes her head, beaming at him, “I’ve missed TO Tim.”
“Stop.” He rolls his eyes but a small smile slips through his resolve. His walls seem to crumble easily when it comes to her.
“I mean it! Do you wanna give me a Tim Test for old time’s sake?”
“Okay, okay,” she laughs. “But you’re right, about all of it. What we do matters in a very direct way. We catch criminals and get to shoot stuff,” she drawls sarcastically, mocking how he had described the job as she slaps his arm playfully.
“I am right, and that’s why I know you’re a good cop that we need around.” The words come out in a rush as if she might not linger on the compliment if he says it fast enough.
Her eyes gleam with pride.
He should’ve known better.
“Is that so?” She smirks at him confidently and he flashes back to her in the men's locker room during his first week as a sergeant. She’d pranked him with baby booties, and his blood had hummed with attraction at how she looked in those tight-fitting pants with her hair down in waves. If he was honest, it was the way she went toe-to-toe with him, how she didn’t hesitate to tease him. She was a worthy adversary — always had been.
But it’s a memory he has no right to think about anymore, not with her having a boyfriend, and him having a girlfriend.
Not when they work together.
Not when they’re just friends.
“It’s not all you, you had a good teacher,” he says quickly.
Lucy snorts in amusement. “Sure, once he got his life in order and stopped being a complete ass.” She smirks at the scowl he shoots her way before changing the subject. “Well, thanks. Anyway, I’m still paying back my student loans. I can’t even begin to think about adding more to that mountain of debt.”
“So what you’re saying is we’re stuck with you,” Tim teases.
“For now,” she replies right back. “You know I’m your favorite rookie. You made me your aide.”
“You made yourself my aide,” he corrects. But something about the end of shift serotonin and the shadows of the parking garage make him add, “But we work well together so… I’ll take it.”
She smiles at him brightly, jingling her keys in one hand as if she doesn’t want to unlock her door just yet.
It’s only when his phone rings that he looks down, grabbing it from his pocket and silencing it. Why a phone call from Ashley suddenly feels like an unwanted interruption makes him twitch in guilt, as if he wants to keep talking to Lucy in this quiet corner of the parking garage, trading his quick banter for her bright smiles.
Instead, he says, “I gotta go, it’s Ashley.”.
She straightens immediately, the light in her eyes fading slightly as she moves to open her car door. “Have a good night.”
“Yeah, you too.” He makes his way to his nearby truck and gets inside as he calls Ashley back.
“Hey, did I catch you at a bad time?”
“‘No, no…” Tim answers distractedly, watching in the rearview mirror as Lucy’s car reverses out and drives away “just finishing work. I’m picking you up at seven, right?”