Chapter 1: Holding Hands
John sighed in relief as he came into his apartment and dropped his stuff on the first empty surface he found. It had been a long week. Tough cases, long hours, and things between him and Maldonado had been really tense and awkward for some reason. He had caught her staring at him from her office twice, and that was only on Tuesday. Then he had stared at her so hard during roll call on Wednesday morning that he nearly blanked when Dorian asked him a question. They were bumping into each other as they left meeting rooms, and they’d nearly run over each other twice coming back from the coffee machine.
He had invited her out for a drink tonight to see if they couldn’t get themselves back on track.
John checked his watch; and he was going to be late for that meeting if he didn’t hurry up.
Still he took at least ten minutes to find a good pair of pants, and to make sure his leg was fully charged; and it was around the time he was trying to find a shirt that he thought looked nice that he started to wondered what the heck was wrong with him. He was meeting Sandra of all people she didn’t give a damn what he looked like. Why was he even worrying about this? Still he picked out the green shirt Sandra had complemented him on wearing on Monday and went to fix his hair. When his hair was combed back and flat he realized what he was doing and dropped his comb like it had burned him. Why was he doing all this? He hadn’t worried about looking this good since his dinner with Samantha and that was a date and this was not, was it?
No, absolutely not he had not asked Sandra on a date tonight. It was just a drink with a friend. She was buddy Sandra, boss Sandra. They had known each other for more than fifteen years and he had never considered her romantically before.
Was that why things had been different this week then? With all the little glances they were giving each other was he considering her like that after all this time? No, no he wasn’t John told himself firmly. He was a romantic and when Officer Reynolds wasn’t grilling him about it he was willing to admit that. Falling in love with one of your co-workers, especially a higher ranked co-worker, was not romantic. Besides she fit none of his dating criteria…well except for being a brunette and having brown eyes, and being soulful and smarter than him and…
Oh man he was in big trouble.
Despite spending extra time freshening up and then spending even more time kicking himself for worrying about trying to look nice John arrived before Sandra and took a seat at the bar, keeping the one seat next to him available for her and smiling when she came in.
“Hey, sorry I’m late traffic was heavy.”
“It’s all right I ordered for us though.”
“Great, you look good John.”
“Thanks,” he muttered, still embarrassed that he’d put so much effort into something so ridiculous.
She took off her jacket and draped it over the back of her chair. John watched her sit down, watched the way her dress moved along her body. The way her eyes lit up as she smiled and held up her glass.
John touched his glass against hers and sipped his drink, and then twisted his half empty glass in his hands.
Him and Sandra it seemed weird to even think about it. But there was no denying she was attractive, and they had been friends for a long time so he knew they had things in common. But did his feelings really mean anything or was he just playing it safe, because he already knew he could trust her? That she wasn’t a horrible mistake like getting involved with Anna had been. Then John thought about the fact that Sandra was his boss and there was nothing safe about that for a relationship.
“You’re awfully quiet, John.”
“Just thinking about some things.”
“Anything you want to talk about?” she asked softly, her eyes looking at him with concern.
John opened his mouth to speak and then snapped it shut when no words came out. How could he explain that he wanted to take this great friendship and working relationship they had and ruin it? But he couldn’t just let it go and have them trying not to spill hot coffee on each other forevermore.
Sandra frowned when John remained silent. “John, I know things have been off with us the last couple of days, but you can talk to me about anything you know that.”
He did know that. She knew him, really knew him, like no one else did. She cared about him and he knew he cared about her too, deeply.
It was then John saw her hand outstretched on the bar and took a chance. He reached out and put his hand over top of hers, curling his fingers around her palm and pressing down gently. All the while keeping his eyes locked on hers.
The move was bold, but then John was nothing if not bold.
Sandra’s response was softer, but still intense. She relaxed her hand under his grip and slowly moved her fingers until they intertwined with his.
John let out the breath he hadn’t realized he was holding.
“So…so this is mutual huh?” he asked.
She smiled and moved her fingers further along his so she could squeeze them tightly.
John let his eyes wander to their hands, clasped together on the bar for the whole world to see. He started running his thumb along the edge of one of her brightly painted nails and started thinking about all the ways he was going to screw this up.
“Sandra, I can’t promise anything-”
She cut him off. “And I don’t want you to, John. This,” she held up their hands, “is a potential minefield of problems we both know that. So we go slow, take it day by day and today I just want to enjoy what we have, okay?”
John could do that.
“Okay,” he said, and finished off his drink with his free hand.
Chapter 2: Cuddling
Sandra takes a personal day. John joins her.
John stifled a yawn as he came into the precinct and dropped his body into the chair at his desk. He glared at the bright faces of his fellow officers who were wide awake, and had beaten him to all the fresh coffee. As a police officer John had long since accepted that his job involved shift work. It was still one of his least favourite aspects of the job and when he had been promoted to detective he enjoyed the fact that the position came with a normally steady set of working hours.
Still every once and a while the scheduled changed for any number of reasons. And that was why John had spent the last week getting off work just as the sun came up. Needlessly to say he was tired and grumpy and looking forward to sleeping the rest of the day away in bed. The worst thing about the whole week though was that Sandra kept her regular hours and John had missed working with her. He missed nodding to her as they passed each other by in the hallways. He missed getting her opinion on a case, or being briefed on a suspect, or even just hearing her voice as he called in to update on a case. He only got to see her as she passed by him on her way to the office for her shift and today it looked he wasn’t even going to get that as he looked around the floor, but didn’t see her.
He checked his watch thinking that maybe he was early. Nope it read 8:05 and her office was still dark. Now if there was one thing Sandra Maldonado never was, it was late to work. A twinge of worry went through him and he checked the duty roster sheet thinking maybe he had read her shift wrong. Quickly scrolling through the list he saw that personal day had been put in by her name. John frowned, she hadn’t mentioned anything to him about needing to take time off.
The twinge of worry grew bigger and he called to check on her.
The hoarse croak of her name was all the answer John needed as to why she wasn’t at work. She sounded terrible.
“Hey, it’s me. I was calling to see why you weren’t in, but the answer’s kind of obvious.”
“Good, because I’d hate to feel this awful and have it just be my little secret.”
“Listen I was just about to go off shift, did you need me to get you anything?”
“No, I’ll-” she paused to cough and John winced in sympathy. “I’ll be all right thanks for asking.”
“Okay, feel better.”
John hung up and just stared at his phone for a while wondering if he should have said more, then sighed and put it away. He finished up his reports as quickly as he could and rushed out to go find a breakfast that was made with grease and extra bacon. As he waited to pick up his order John decided that instead of just talking to Sandra he was going to do something and picked up her favourite ice cream from the store next to the fast food restaurant.
He made it to Sandra’s in under fifteen minutes and couldn’t hold back a smile when she answered the door with her hair still tangled from sleep, wearing baggy pants and an oversized sweater, his sweater.
“Look I know you said you didn’t need anything, but since I was in the neighbourhood I got breakfast for myself and I picked you up dessert.”
John held up his hand and Sandra’s eyes lit up at the container of Mint Chocolate ice cream he held.
“Have I told you how much I love you?” she asked.
As she went to go get a spoon John sat down on the makeshift bed Sandra had made on her couch.
“John, I appreciate the thought, but you don’t have to stay with me, really. I can handle being sick on my own.”
“I want to stay. Wasn’t the same without you there to yell at me this week.”
She chuckled. “You’re going to catch this from me you know.”
“Then just remember that my favourite ice cream flavour is Fudge Brownie.”
At that Sandra threw her hands up in defeat and joined him on the couch. As John finished his breakfast she shivered and cuddled in close to him.
He smiled and kissed her forehead.
“Ow, I’m gonna burn my lips on you from that fever.”
Sandra rolled her eyes. “Smartass.”
“You know I thought you got better faster when you didn’t talk.”
That earned him a pillow upside the head.
After that they slowly settled in. John wrapping his arm around Sandra as she rested her head against his shoulder. She pulled a blanket around them with one hand as the other worked to open the ice cream and John flipped through the TV channels.
“Hey, As the Universe Turns is on. Maybe today we’ll get to find out if the father of Marsha’s baby is the alien disguised as her ex-boyfriend.”
Sandra just stared at him.
“What? I haven’t been able to sleep in the mornings and this is the only decent thing to watch.”
“You’re a real dork sometimes, you know that?”
“Yeah, but I’m your dork right?”
John squeezed his arm tighter around Sandra as she reached one arm around his waist and squeezed back. Eventually both of them fell asleep in each other arms; and missed the reveal that the father of Marsha’s baby was in fact her long lost brother in law from a Martian colony.
Chapter 3: Watching a Movie
Sandra is working and John distracts her.
I’m volunteering with a group that is performing Shrek the Musical so that’s why Sandra and John are watching the film and going Mystery Science Theatre on it.
As the precinct began to wind down for the night shift Sandra was still eyes deep in paperwork and barley looked up from it when there was a knock at her office door.
“What are you still doing here?” John asked as he came in and shut the door.
“One of the perks of being the boss, John, you’re almost always the last to leave.”
John’s eyes flickered over to the rolling credits on the screen on her wall.
“What were you watching?”
“Hmm? Oh, I don’t know it was just background noise.”
John watched the screen as the credits finished and another movie started.
“Wow, they’re playing Shrek I haven’t seen it since I was like eight years old. Wonder if it holds up.”
He sat down in a chair to watch it and Sandra went back to work, only to look up abruptly when the soundtrack started.
“Well the music is certainly interesting.”
“Yeah, it’s supposed to be a parody of the classic princess fairy-tale, you haven’t seen it?”
She shook her head no.
John turned the volume up so she could hear it better, and Sandra set her work aside, her eyes fixed on the screen as the movie continued.
“Farquaad is fun and all, but what’s so bad about being short? Why is that a villain motivation?”
“That’s why I like the musical better. There Farquaad is Grumpy’s illegitimate son and compensating for being half of what he hates.”
Sandra nodded. “Makes sense.”
“Everybody loves parfaits and they have layers! Have you ever met a person and you go up to them and say ‘hey let’s get some parfaits’ and they say ‘hell no I don’t like no parfaits.’ Parfaits are delicious!”
“Parfaits are good we should go get some after this.”
“You didn’t slay the dragon?!”
“It’s on my to-do list!”
“Okay, John, if this is a parody on the classic fairy-tale how come Fiona doesn’t just slay the dragon herself and leave?”
“Because then Shrek wouldn’t have anything to do and he’s kind of the main character. Besides I think the third film did something about that.”
When the movie was over John sat back in his chair. “Well I think it held up pretty well.”
“It wasn’t that bad,” Sandra agreed, and then glanced at the clock. “It was long though now I’m way behind. John, get out of here you are nothing, but a giant distraction.”
“I thought you were the one who was saying you shouldn’t obsess about stuff, Sandra. The paperwork will keep until tomorrow.”
“Not obsessing over stuff only applies to grumpy detectives who lack a social life.”
“Dating counts as a social life so I guess were both helping each other out here.”
“Don’t put words in my mouth,” she said, as she pushed him towards the door.
“Can I put something else there?” he asked with a smirk.
“Not until I’m done, now out.”
He left and she went back to her desk. Though she had barely sat down when John poked his head back in.
“Wanna do this again next week?”
Sandra shook her head and fought the urge to smile.
Chapter 4: On a Date
Date night is cancelled so John improvises.
John’s day was not going the way he’d planned. He was supposed to be able to get off early to clean his apartment so Sandra could come over and they could continue the weekly movie date night; unfortunately all that was cancelled thanks to poor weather.
A thunder storm had come up over the city causing flash flooding and blackouts everywhere. By the time it had tapered off to just a rainy drizzle John and Dorian were coming back to headquarters with overtime hours and splattered with rain water and mud. As Dorian went downstairs for a fresh uniform John went to clock out and find something warm to drink.
As he came into the break room he found Sandra rummaging through the first aid kit looking for aspirin to kill the headache she had been nursing all day. Her phone had never stopped ringing with calls from people asking what they were doing, when the police were going to be somewhere, and then the endless complaints about how whatever her squad was doing wasn’t good enough.
As she downed the pill John sat down at the small table and she joined him.
“Long day huh?”
“You have no idea,” she said as she rubbed at her temple and waited for the pill to kick in.
“Sorry we weren’t able to keep our plans.”
“We’re police officers it comes with the territory. This isn’t the first time it’s happened and it won’t be the last.”
“Can I at least walk you to your car? Then we can act like we actually saw each other today.”
Sandra shook her head no.
“My car is in the shop until Friday I’m taking the bus.”
“Walk me to my car then? “ He asked. “I’ll even give you a ride home.”
“I’d like that.”
They got their things together and met Dorian back at the car.
“Her car’s out of commission so looks like I’m playing chauffeur for two tonight,” John said as they got in.
“Then I have to apologize for John’s driving skills and that the car smells like olive oil.”
John glared at his partner.
“Hey, it’s not my fault that truck couldn’t keep up to the speed limit and you’re the one who told me to use olive oil as a lube.”
Sandra just sighed and leaned back in her seat.
“I’m not even going to ask.”
“My leg, Sandra! It’s lubricant for my leg!”
From then on the trip to Rudy’s consisted of constant bickering that left Sandra wondering how the two boys managed to accomplish anything together.
Still she wished Dorian a good night as he went inside and she switched over into the passenger seat of the cruiser.
“All right now that we’ve ditched Benedict android let’s have fun.”
“John, what are you-”
She never finished as John pulled the cruiser back out into traffic.
Sandra couldn’t help but feel a bit foolish as she and John sat in his car on a perch looking out over the city with extra-large milkshakes in their hands.
“I can’t believe I let you take me out for milkshakes and then park on lover’s lane. What are we, fifteen?”
“I can’t believe that burger joint was actually open.”
“It’s because they know idiots like us will still come out and buy things even in this weather.”
John finished his drink and turned on the radio. He relaxed as a soft melody filled the car.
“Hello, is it me you’re looking for?
Cause I wonder where you are
And I wonder what you do
Are you somewhere feeling lonely.”
John pressed his finger to her lips.
“Not a word to Dorian.”
“Your secret is safe with me.”
They sat in silence for a while and looked over the city as the rain steadily pelted down on the car.
“The view is still nice even with the Wall,” John said.
“Yeah, it is,” Sandra agreed as she looked out over the rows and rows of lights that stretched on to the horizon. Thinking about all those people they swore to protect and serve, and who just seemed to be angry that they do so. “Do you think it really helps, John?”
“What we do. Do you think anyone really cares about our work at the end of the day?”
John looked at her closely. He hadn’t heard her doubt herself like that for a long time. Clearing his throat he gently took her hand and held it tightly.
“I remember my old partner once said that police work was an endless, glamour-less, thankless job that had to be done and that she was damn proud to be a cop in spite of that.”
Sandra felt her cheeks grow warm. That speech was a decade old at least. “I can’t believe you remember that.”
“They were good words, Sandra, and I like to add to them. Not everyone is grateful for what we do and there are lots of people who like to complain about how we ruin things for everyone else, but sometimes you do something and one person will look at you like…like you’ve just made their whole world right and you know that they care that you helped them and that’s enough.”
“You’re getting sentimental on me, John.”
“I know I must be getting old.”
She laughed and leaned over in her seat so they sat shoulder to shoulder.
“Thanks, John, I needed to hear that.”
Chapter 5: First Kiss
Getting back to nature gets Sandra thinking about her and John.
The sun was going down and John and Sandra stood watching it together on the small look-out spot beside Grey Harbour. It was an activity he was supposed to do for therapy; they called in getting back to nature. John had no clue what to do so he asked her for suggestions and this was what she picked. It was turning cold as winter was approaching so they had the area to themselves, and John was grateful for that. Sandra stood tucked in against John as his arms were wrapped securely around her.
It was in these kinds of quiet moments that Sandra found herself contemplating just how she and John were managing to make this work, and wondering why it hadn’t happened sooner. There were very much alike, one could tell by looking at their similar honours earned on the job. John had that strong dog with a bone personality that she liked even if it could be annoying sometimes. Also even when he had been a rookie John had been cute. He’d also been naive and stupid then, but still cute. Perhaps that was why this was happening with them now rather than earlier. It was better that they were older, more sure of what they wanted for themselves and in a partner.
“You’d be content if just one person could see you and want you, but they don’t do they. All those men you work with they just walk right past you.”
God she was glad that a thick wall of glass had separated them because she could have punched Avery for being so far off the mark. Those were her men and she was their captain they weren’t supposed to notice her!
John was different though he always had been. There was a lot of history there. Being partners and friends over the years had forged a deep bond. Sharing what they’d accomplished together; who they’d lost through tragedy. He was more than just a fellow officer and she guessed him being a lover was just the next logical step for them even if she was still his boss.
The sun slipped behind the horizon and John turned her in his arms so she faced him.
“Now that that’s done I can look at something more beautiful.”
“Hmm, getting back to nature makes you sappy.”
“Do you prefer me grumpy?”
“Save that for the office.”
Sandra took a moment just to admire him, running her hand along his jaw. John had come a long way from the broken desperate man he’d been when he’d first woken up from his coma. It spoke of his determination, his resilience, and she thought that was what she loved about him the most.
“I love you,” she said, the words coming out as barely more than a whisper as she voiced what she herself had just realized.
It was the first time those words had been spoken between them. John looked stunned for an instant and then he smiled that bright charming smile Sandra never got to see as often as she had before the ambush. He cupped her cheek with one hand, leaned in, and kissed her softly.
She responded eagerly, her hands coming around his neck and her fingers started running through his hair.
John’s hand moved to the back of her neck and his touch became slightly firmer. He pulled them closer together and Sandra let herself go. It might have taken a long time to get here, but right now her world couldn’t be any more perfect.
Chapter 6: Wearing Each Other's Clothes
John wears something of Sandra's by mistake.
John never understood why Sandra wore his shirts. They were all at least three sizes too big and she would constantly have to roll up the sleeves to do anything while in them. When he asked about it she said that she like the way they smelled. John had just shook his head and figured that he just wasn’t meant to get it.
The shrill ringing of his phone yanked John right out of being dead to the world. He swore as he reached out for it to check who was calling before the sun had even thought about coming up.
The screen lit up with the name Rudy Lom.
“Rudy, your lab better be burning to the ground or you are a dead man.”
“Look I know it’s early, but I found something in those data files from Dorian that I think you should see.”
“I’ll be right over.”
John hung up and went over to get his leg of the charger.
“What’s happening?” Sandra asked as she sat up on John’s bed.
“Rudy has something he wants me to see.”
“Is it serious?”
“I’ll call you if it is, go back to sleep.”
Sandra did and John finished with his leg, quickly got his clothes on, then grabbed his coat and scarf and rushed out the door.
The files Rudy explained were a trigger device that would set off an emotional response within Dorian.
“It’s about loyalty and obedience. Like a child that believes its parent unconditionally the memory files will trigger that.”
“Trigger him to be loyal to who and why?”
“That I haven’t figured out yet.”
After being assured again that Dorian couldn’t be affected by the files and no one could have access to him again John went to collect his partner.
“Getting pulled out of my charging cycle early is not appreciated, John.”
“And here I thought you’d be happy that I came to pick you up for shift early.”
“Maybe next time, although I suppose I should compliment you on your change of wardrobe, John.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Wearing bright colours in winter months does have positive mental health benefits.”
John looked down still not understanding what Dorian was on about. He was wearing what he always did black pants, dark green jacket. The only new addition was his scarf and that was…pink with white tassels at the end. John paled as he realized he’d grabbed Sandra’s scarf by mistake.
“It also brings out your eyes. Did you at least say goodbye to your date before you left this morning?”
“That is none of your business,” John growled as they got into the car and started on their way. He knew there was nothing he could do, but wear it now and deal with the jabs.
As the morning went by though John found that wearing Sandra’s scarf wasn’t so bad after all. The scent of her perfume lingered on it and it reminded him of her. It proved comforting as the chilly winter air whipped around him as he and Dorian investigated several crime scenes and talked to what seemed like an endless list of witnesses and bystanders.
It still proved to be the butt of jokes when he got back to the precinct though.
“Nice scarf, Kennex, your grandma knit it for you?”
“And what if she did?”
Richard just chuckled and went to get a coffee. John took off his coat and draped it over the back of his chair. He untied the scarf, but didn’t want to take it off. Instead he left it dangling around his neck as he sat down at his desk, and that’s how it still was when Sandra came up to him.
“Everything okay with Rudy?”
“For now I’ll brief you on it when he has more to tell me.”
“Okay, but it seemed kind of important since you rushed out this morning with stuff that wasn’t yours.”
John grinned sheepishly.
“Sorry about that.”
“It’s all right I managed.”
John nodded as he noticed his black scarf tucked securely into her coat.
“I can see that and I’m starting to see why you like to wear my stuff,” he said, gently folding her scarf with fingers.
“Nice isn’t it?”
“Yeah…are you done already?”
“No, I’m off to court. Avery is attempting to appeal his conviction.”
She left and kept his scarf with her. John wore hers home at the end of the day and even though both articles of clothing ended up together on the floor again several more times as winter went on they never did get around to trading them back.
Chapter 7: Cosplaying
John takes his time getting ready for the convention.
John stood in the bathroom checking his hair. He had let it grow longer for the occasion so it would match his character’s look. Dorian had said it was an improvement, but frankly John didn’t care for it, but if this was worth doing it was worth doing right. He brushed off the dark blue shirt he was wearing. Carefully checking the sleeves, making sure the silver bands signifying his rank were straight.
“John, the convention opens in less than two hours and if we don’t get a move on we’re going to be spending the morning just standing in line to get in rather than in line getting autographs.”
“Don’t rush me my costume is more complicated than yours.”
“Oh please, it’s a pair of black pants, go-go boots, and a pyjama top!”
John glanced over at her.
“Not a fan of the mid-23rd century uniform, are you?”
“At least mine has proper pips instead of two lines to indicate my rank.”
“And they’re crooked.”
John reached over and fixed the row of gold pinned to the collar of Sandra’s costume. He had to admit he was impressed by her resourcefulness in getting such a close match in fabric in such limited time, but he just wasn’t sold on her choice of character.
“I still can’t believe you’re going as Captain Janeway. Since you’re already a captain I’d consider it cheating.”
“Don’t get sassy with me. In or out of costume I outrank you and I can do what I want,” she said, as she checked to make sure her hair was still holding itself in place properly.
“You know technically by the time your character and mine exist at the same time McCoy is an admiral and outranks you.”
Sandra glared at him.
“Just get a move on, Doctor!”
Chapter 8: Shopping
John and Sandra go to the mall.
The mall was packed with Saturday shoppers. John was annoyed that Sandra had dragged him out to face the crowds on his day off. Meanwhile Sandra was annoyed at John’s choice of store.
“John, why are we even in here?” she asked, as she glanced around at the bright neon glowing lights taking up one wall and a display showing an array of fridge magnets with inappropriate phrases on them.
“You’re the one who insisted we get something for Richard’s birthday.”
John reached out and tapped the head of a toy frog, and it started dancing across the shelf, and singing.
Sandra frowned at it.
“Yes, but a toy frog that sings Hello Ma Baby? Richard is going to hate it.”
John smirked as he touched the toy again and it stopped dancing.
“That’s the point.”
“Why do you have to get him a gag gift? Can’t you just pick out something thoughtful?”
“No, this is way more fun.”
Sandra rolled her eyes and started moving through the crowds to the store exit.
“Hey, where are you going?”
“To get my own, proper, card and no I’m not letting you sign it.”
John shrugged, letting her go and moved on to a shelf stocked with peanut brittle jars filled with rubber snakes.
Chapter 9: Hanging Out With Friends
The gang celebrate Richard's birthday and John gets a surprise.
After the less than successful trip to the mall Sandra agreed to pool for a large gift among the officers who wanted to chip in and got Richard box seats to a Knights play-off game. Spending time with Richard on his birthday wasn’t John’s idea of fun but watching a game from premium seats was and so he came along with her.
They had just taken their coats off when Rudy came in, Dorian holding the door for him.
“Hello, fellow law enforcers I’ve brought cake.”
“That was very thoughtful, Rudy.”
Rudy flicked his eyes over to John.
“Yes, I, unlike some people, remember people’s birthdays and act accordingly.”
Sandra made a mental note to buy John a calendar with all the important dates input into to it and set about cutting the cake.
John frowned at the piece he was handed and glance over at Richard’s.
“Hey, how come he gets a corner piece?”
That earned him a hard glare.
“John, just eat the cake.”
Richard smirked at him. “It’s tradition that the birthday boy always gets the best piece. Besides, Kennex, you don’t need the extra frosting.”
“You took off the cape a long time ago Captain Energy it isn’t your problem how often I use the doughnut machine.”
“Yeah it’s the scale’s at your next physical.”
Sandra rolled her eyes.
“I swear you two sometimes I feel like I’m looking after 12 year olds.”
Richard and John pointed at each other.
“He started it!”
“Make that six year olds.”
Thankfully any further bickering was cut off as Valerie came in.
“Sorry I’m late, everyone.”
She came up to Richard and handed him an envelope.
“Richard this is for you,” she said smiling brightly.
He opened the envelope and his jaw dropped.
“You got us tickets on an orbital vacation?”
“Do you like it?”
“I love it.”
She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek.
“You deserve it.” She looked over at Sandra. “I planned it advance so you can cover us.”
“I appreciate the thought; congratulations you two.”
Behind them Rudy and Dorian shot John worrying glances as he recovered from nearly choking on his cake.
“Wait…are-are you two together?”
Richard smiled. “Yeah, we bonded over soup.”
“And you just decided to mention it now?”
“Didn’t think we had to report that to our co-workers,” Valerie answered deadpanned.
Sandra shook her head.
“You can date one of the MXs for all I care just don’t let it affect your work.”
“Don’t be jealous now, Kennex.”
“I’m not just wondering if Valerie’s standards are being set too low.”
“Just for that you don’t get seconds on cake.”
“Oh come on!”
John and Richard dissolved into more bickering then until the game started.
As the game went on John couldn’t help, but steal glances at Valerie and Richard. He watched them sit close together, watched Valerie put her arm around Richard. While he and Sandra sat with Dorian and Rudy in-between them.
Why did that bug him so much?
At half-time John stepped outside for a moment and Sandra joined him.
“You’re acting like an ass, John.”
“Why are you so upset that you just found out they’re together now?”
John looked at her in shock. “Wait did they tell you before?”
“No, but I am still a detective. I notice when my officers start going out to lunch together three times a week.”
“Well that’s great.”
“Why does it matter? We haven’t told them about us either.”
John sighed. “I know maybe I really am jealous, jealous that he seems to be faster along.”
“Relationships aren’t a competition, John.”
“Yeah, I know.” He might not like Richard very much, but he shouldn’t be mad that he had someone too. He thought back to them on the couch and why that seemed to bother him so much. They just seemed…comfortable he guessed. “Maybe it’s just that they’re okay with being open about being together. It’s not that I want that exactly. If we tell them about us that would just give IA an excuse to send over Officer Asshole to do more interrogations.”
“True enough. Do you want to go away together too, John? We could be open in front of complete strangers.”
“Maybe.” He thought about the last time he’d been on a vacation which was a very too long ago. Then he thought about Anna. He thought about how she used to bring him back little things from her trips. About what they really turned out to be and thought that it was probably time to put good memories in her place. That it was time to start building something more with Sandra than just a few stolen nights together every once and a while. “I think I’d like to think about it.”
“All right, you’re still not getting seconds on cake though.”
John tried to scowl at her, but only managed part way before it turned into a grin.
“I’m giving everyone rotten reviews the next time the board is here just so you know.”
Chapter 10: With Animal Ears
Maldonado always gets her man. John is no different.
The knock on the door went unanswered. Sandra tapped her foot impatiently and pounded her fist on the door again.
“John, I know you’re in there and I will not be locked out of my own back room.”
There was a soft click of the lock unlocking and Sandra pushed the door open. She went inside and found John sitting against the wall, having poked the lock open with his crutch so he wouldn’t have to get up.
“How’d you know I was here?”
“Dorian checked out your place and all the noodles dives you frequent when you bolted it out of the hospital. When he didn’t find you I knew to go to the one place he doesn’t know to check.”
She sat down on the floor next to him.
“I suppose I should congratulate you on getting out of the hospital with only one leg. Although I’m sure whoever you stole that crutch from doesn’t appreciate it.”
John shrugged. “You always taught me to think on my feet or foot now I guess.”
“You can only imagine how much I regret that.”
She looked him over. Outside of the hat that was hiding what had been done to him John looked okay. Not that that really made her feel any better though, not after the stunt John pulled. It had been a day of fear as stress from the moment Dorian had called in to say they’d been attacked and John was gone. They had found him hours later in the hands of some bio-engineer who was completely out of their gourd. Sandra had just let herself relax as John was taken in for medical treatment only to have Dorian report from the hospital that he was gone again.
“I’m glad you’re okay. Don’t scare me like that.”
“Sorry I worried you.”
“You need to apologize to Dorian he’s still worried about you shouldn’t have left-”
“Look I just didn’t want them to treat me like some anomaly that everyone could come in and stare at okay?!”
John lowered his eyes and glared at the floor.
“Sorry. It’s just…me and hospitals really don’t get along.”
Sandra thought she could understand. If she’d spent the better part of two years stuck in those walls she wouldn’t be eager to spend any more time there either.
“They’ll be able to remove them, John.”
“I hope so.”
Slowly he pulled off his hat to reveal the two white cat ears sticking up out of his hair.
Sandra tilted her head at them, admiring the level of realism, before reaching up and touching one of them.
John let out a sound that sounded far too close to a purr and she giggled. He tried to pull away, but she got her arm around his waist and held tightly until the fit stopped.
“You look cute,” she said.
“The doctors thought so too.”
“It could always be worse, John.”
“Yeah, at least I’m not allergic to myself.”
“Come on I’ll let you get some real food to eat before I ship you back to the hospital.”
“I think I even have a saucer of cream for you.”
John frowned and shook his head.
“You’re getting way too much enjoyment out of this.”
“Just a little.”
Chapter 11: One is Awake While the Other is Asleep
Sandra keeps an eye on John.
Sandra stretched and sat up on her bed. She glanced at the clock on her bedside table and sighed when she saw the bright glow of 7:30 am staring back at her.
There was a snore from the man beside her and Sandra shook her head in amusement.
She envied John his ability to sleep in on their days off.
Still she took advantage of being awake to admire him while he slept. She traced her fingers over the scars on his shoulders, souvenirs from their days sharing a beat together. She smiled as he rolled over and buried his face in the pillows. She loved to see him like this, because it was so different from those long months she had watched over him while he was in a coma.
That was drug induced and unnatural. His body had never moved, except for the steady rise and fall of his chest. His face was a stiff mask as the tubes and bandages were slowly removed. In many ways it was like watching one of those old mannequins they used to use in store displays like he wasn’t even human anymore.
Now though everything was soft, relaxed, and peaceful. It was something she never got tired of seeing.
Still she often wondered if she had been enough for him then. When John had finally woken up the doctors started arguing that only family was to see him. She fought and sometimes won, but she still wished she’d been there more. If she had maybe he wouldn’t have spent so long looking so lost.
She was broken out of her thoughts when John started murmuring, his eyes shifting behind his eyelids, and his body growing tense. Sandra got her arm around him and pulled herself in tight to him. John stilled and slowly relaxed under her touch, breathing slowly and evenly again.
She only hoped she was enough for him now.
Chapter 12: Making Out
John reassures Sandra
It had been one of those days.
Those days that made one hate their job and their life and never want to face the world again. So Sandra was content to do just that. She kicked off her shoes and left her suit to wrinkle on the bedroom floor. Then she crawled under the covers and tried to forget that she had any responsibilities at all.
Unfortunately a reminder of the real world came in not even an hour later in the form of John sinking onto the bed, joining her under the covers, and starting to massage her shoulders.
She never should have given him a key.
She rolled onto her back and John responded by moving over top of her so his legs were straddling her hips.
“John, you don’t need-”
He cut her off with a kiss, deep and long.
“You know you’re stuff,” he said, whispering it into her ear.
“It’s not enough.”
He kissed her cheek and trailed kisses down her neck.
“To us it is. I know I feel safe out there knowing you’re looking out for us.”
“Yeah, I’m the strong one, the one who gets raked over the coals whenever anything goes wrong.”
“Officer Reynolds is an asshole we both agree on that, Sandra.”
“Doesn’t make what he said any less true.”
“You can’t blame yourself-”
“Yeah Internal Affairs is going to do that for me by keeping a file of all my failures.”
John ran his fingers through her hair and pressed their foreheads together.
“Somebody smart once told me that you need to focus on your successes to move forward.”
Sandra rolled her eyes.
“She was talking to a guy who saved the entire precinct the first week he was back and then broke up a years old organ trafficking ring among other triumphs.”
“And I think his captain should be giving herself more credit since that all only happened because she got that grumpy old detective off his lazy ass and back to work.”
That finally got a laugh out of her. She reached up then, her hands pulling him in close to kiss him back and then reaching under his shirt.
“You’re welcome-“ he gasped and arched up as her hands found a sensitive spot on his back.
“I don’t deserve you,” she said.
John looked at her his eyes focused on hers and he gently cupped her face with both hands.
“I’m the one who doesn’t deserve you.”
Chapter 13: Eating Ice Cream
Sandra and John at the park
It was an unusually hot summer for the city. John and Sandra were taking refuge in Willow Park along with several dozen others, most of whom had mob the ice cream truck that came by.
Being off-duty they too joined the line and when it had finally cleared they made their way down the walkway. John swirling around the dots of chocolate and brownie in his cup and raising an eyebrow at what Sandra had bought.
“And I thought I was old fashioned.”
“Last time I checked there was no age limit on ice cream or how one gets it,” she said, and started in on her double scooped mint chocolate waffle cone dipped in chocolate and sprinkles.
“Yeah, but you’re the authority figure. You’re supposed to be setting a good example for the rest of us.”
“I know when they promoted me to captain I had to declare that I would never again have fun or indulge in childlike behaviour. It was such a tragedy I now sit in my rocking chair and cry about it all day long.”
John chuckled and they sat down on a bench overlooking the duck pond.
Across the small pond there was a playground and Sandra and John sat there watching the kids play.
As she watched them run and shriek with joy Sandra let herself indulge in a fantasy she had put on the back burner for some time now, believing it to be a pipe dream.
She wanted children.
She hadn’t brought it up with John yet. Just getting used to being intimate personally while not bringing it into the workplace had provided enough challenges as it was in the beginning. Now though she could sense a shift. It was getting close to a year for them being together. There was a good chance they could make it for the long haul. Still she knew a full family life was a lot to ask of many of them. John knew all too well what could happen after the loss of Pelham.
“Penny for your thoughts?” John asked.
“You should charge me more when I think about things like this.”
“No, just…you know there are still people that say that as a professional woman with a successful career I shouldn’t ‘ruin’ that with children; and John, I know with our lives it isn’t the best choice, but I can’t help, but think maybe I’d still like to-”
John squeezed her hand and smiled in reassurance.
Sandra raised her eyebrows.
“You mean that?”
“Yeah, I do. You’re right it probably is a stupid idea considering that with our hours we don’t sleep as it is, but having a family is an important goal for me. One that I thought I was going to have to put aside, until now.”
Sandra sighed in contentment and then she smirked.
“Are you sure you could handle it though, John? I’ve seen how you get with Richard and Dorian at times. Why would I want to deal with a baby and a five year old in a grown man’s body?”
“Hey, I’ll have you know I am a bastion of strength and maturity.”
Sandra finished her ice cream and leaned her head on his shoulder, her mind conjuring up images of laughing little ones with mops of brown hair, that would probably learn to curse early.
“John, stop throwing your ice cream at the ducks.”
Chapter 14: First Away Trip Together
It was one thing to say they would like to go away together and another thing entirely to be able to do so. Cases came up, overtime was logged, and sometimes boring bureaucracy meetings had to be attended. John had offered to come to the meetings once or twice when they were out of town, but Sandra always refused, saying she didn’t want to deal with the embarrassment of him falling asleep in front of her boss’ boss. Nor did she want to deal with having to arrest him when he did something stupid in the name of relaxation while she was out at meetings.
Adding to that was the tight security around all city exit points making travel something that had to be thoroughly planned to minimize annoyance and risk of getting turned away for a mistake in paperwork. So, by the time their schedules finally aligned from more than two days there weren’t a lot of choices left on such short notice. Thus they both agreed that instead of going through the hassle of trying to book a trip last minute they opted for the tried and true staycation.
The first days were spent sleeping in and lounging in Sandra’s apartment. Then John got the bright idea of going on a bus tour, and there was surprisingly a lot to see in the city when you weren’t driving through it in a high speed chase.
After that Sandra dragged him out for an early horseback ride. Sandra sat in the saddle holding the reins like the pro that she was. Meanwhile John was riding in the back with his hands around her waist, watching the landscape go by.
As he gazed out at the city, the wall, and the area beyond it in the early morning fog John was suddenly glad they hadn’t chosen Saint Christopher as he had originally wanted to at one point. Traveling he been something Anna enjoyed, whether it was because of genuine enjoyment or alter motives he would probably never know now, but it was tied to her.
This though, this was all theirs.
“Not falling asleep back there?” Sandra asked.
John tightened his grip around her waist.
“No, just enjoying the ride.”