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The Theory of One

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"I think we need to get you home."

Gail's eyes flicked open as she righted herself suddenly. She glanced around quickly. Hospital waiting room. Check. Almost everyone else gone home. Check. Just her, Holly, Chris and some randoms. Check. Clearly using Holly as a softy pillow. Check. Awkward. Check. Just another day in Gail's world lately. Double check that one.

"I wasn't asleep." Gail yawned on cue, rubbing her cheek with two stiff fingertips. "Your shoulder is kinda boney."

"It was designed to be sturdy and athletic not a mattress."

Gail stood, stretching with a grimace, "I'm sure the softball team is really happy." She felt like she'd been battered from head to foot. She ached everywhere.

Chris smiled, rubbing a hand over his face, "She's right. There's no point us all being here. Sam's stable. Oliver will be okay and Chloe...She's tough." Chris stared at his hands as he massaged a palm with his thumb.

"The fairytale can't exist if Cinderella dies," Gail muttered to herself, adjusting her heavy leather duty belt set so it rested on her hips and distributed the weight better.

A few hours sleep did sound good. She'd never make it through a double shift tomorrow otherwise.

The blonde sensed rather than saw that Holly had moved. It wasn't until Holly touched a hand to Gail's elbow that she turned into the smiling face of… her friend? Pal? Buddy? Gail stared. Confidant? Gail grimaced and exhaled with a frustrated puff of her cheeks. She didn't know what the Hell Holly was to her…

"That's a look I'll treasure. Come on," the brunette said, leading her out by the hand.

…only that she was always there when she needed her. Every time. It was getting lonely doing every hard thing alone. Gail let herself be led.

###

Gail watched the beautiful, tragic, dirty, dangerous, wonderful city flitter by as Holly drove smoothly through the empty early morning streets.

"I'm hungry and I want alcohol."

Her breath misted the window. Her fingertip drew a sad face. She was feeling sorry for herself, for Oliver, for Sam, Chris, Dov, even for Chloe. Gail caught her reflection. She looked tired and paler than her usual pale self. She angrily wiped away the sad face and turned to Holly who glanced at her, eyebrows raised before she deftly changed gears.

"Lunchbox. Alcohol," Gail mock instructed.

Holly checked a junction before slipping through it.

"As much as I love drinking with you - and this great nickname I've got - it's 2am, you've not slept, you've got 3 colleagues in the ER, and a shift tomorrow, Peck."

Oh, we both get nicknames, thought Gail.

"That's Officer Peck to you, Lunchbox."

"Then it's Doctor Lunchbox to you, Officer Peck."

Gail frowned.

"That sounds like a really weird porn name. I'm not happy going down that thought road." She nodded and leant her head back on the head rest. "This day has been too strange already." She sighed, lolling her head over toward Holly, exhaling audibly for effect. "I only know how to deal with things one of two ways, Lunchbox. I either get really drunk and then do something incredibly stupid or I get angry with everyone around me, get really drunk and then do something incredibly stupid." She punctuated the end with a nose wrinkle. "What's it to be because the voices in my head are sick of making decisions today."

Holly's mouth curled up into a half smile and her eyes stayed glued to the road.

"I like that you're so weird," Holly reached over, laying her hand on Gail's thigh for a brief moment, giving it a light squeeze before going back to the wheel. "I'll decide."

Gail did a shifty sideways glance at Holly. Objectively, because there was no reason not to be, right? Objectively, Holly was pretty hot in that kind of geeky but funky, super intelligent way she had going on. And if this was just about sex she could easily fumble her way through it. I mean, they had the same junk, right? How hard could it be? Her brain actually started to process that thought - quite a lot. After a few moments she caught sight of her reflection in the windscreen. Mouth slightly agape, eyes wide in shock, she really hadn't thought this whole thing through. I mean, she had. Just then. Her brain had definitely been thinking things through. She massaged her temples with pincered fingers.

"You okay?"

"Lunchbox. Alcohol." It was more like a plea than a demand.

Holly pulled the car over. Gail glanced out of the window, looking around at where they'd stopped, scrunching her face, she threw her hands up.

"We're in Suburbia. We'd have to do a home invasion just to get a bottle of light beer. I seriously can't drink with soccer mums right now. Not when I still have my firearm."

"The first thing to know about soccer moms is that they always have a stash of booze somewhere." Holly smirked then nodded to her right. "This is my house."

"What?"

Holly made an exaggerated circle with her hands over to the house.

"This," then jabbed an index finger to the centre of her chest, "is my." Her hands made the shape of a roof over her head, "house."

Gail's stared intently at the brunette.

"If you tell me you manage that soccer team I'm going to discharge my firearm in my mouth."

"My other car's a minivan."

"Why would you live here? People come to suburbia for only one reason, Holly. To have children and be really unhappy."

"There's so much to look forward to in Gail's world." Holly replied in mock serious tones before clarifying. "Inheritance. I'll sell when the market recovers."

"Very adult."

"Thank you."

"It wasn't a compliment."

"Coming from you it kinda is." Holly smirked and got out of her side. "Now, do you want some improperly chilled Mexican wine or not? That stuff's not going to dissolve a glass on its own, you know."

Gail got out, doing a slow 360 before nodding her head in a dramatic fashion to the brunette.

"I want off of this street before someone mistakes me for private security and tells me to fix their porch light."

There was no way Gail was going to say she was impressed with Holly's house. Or Holly's temporary house. Or Holly's only until the market recovered house. As Holly walked ahead, leading the way through the hallway toward the back, Gail glanced about. God, this place was nice.

"Your lunchbox is full of money."

Gail frowned, playing that sentence back. That did not accurately convey what she'd wanted to get at. Holly turned and stopped, looking wide eyed at her.

"My lunchbox is full of money? You sound like my pimp."

Gail shrugged nonchalantly. She was great at projecting that look. Literally an expert. She could lecture in Yale on how to be nonchalant and fill a lecture hall…or not. She wouldn't care. She'd just shrug. Nonchalantly. Not caring if it were full or not because that's what you did when you were nonchalant.

"Then stop your yapping and go get me some light beer in a McDonalds novelty glass, woman."

Holly laughed, doing that half smile thing that Gail couldn't help but find strangely cute. The brunette narrowed her eyes, shaking her head slowly before taking three steps forward, narrowing the gap between them so quickly that Gail didn't even have time to panic, freeze, or do whatever else her brain decided to spew forth as an ill-judged defence mechanism.

The brunette leaned in, still with that slightly cocky smile and kissed her. Every single smart response that Gail's brain contained, flat lined. D.O.A. Soft lips kissed her not once but twice. Two slow, deliberately lingering, burningly wonderful times.

Holly moved the heat of her body and those immeasurably soft lips that stunned Gail every time they touched her own, away. "I'll get you some of that cheap alcohol you love so much," before spinning off toward the back of the house.

Gail, eyebrows furrowed deeply, blue eyes like lasers staring at the space Holly occupied a few moments previously, raised a hand slowly, fingertips taking residence on the smooth taupe plaster of the wall, steadying herself.

"Stop doing that," she whispered.

She wasn't sure if she was talking to herself or Holly.

###

Holly's living room was expansive. Gail repeated that word in her head a few times as she sipped another beer.

"Expansive," she enunciated out loud.

"We actually play our soccer matches in this room," Holly added as she finished her beer off. "So…"

The word hung in the air.

Gail wasn't keen on anything hanging in the air. It was a bit like a daddy longlegs - you never knew where it'd be going. She swatted it in true Peck style by making it into a wonderfully inviting social statement.

"…what?"

Holly clearly knew how to deal with her sass.

"… do we do with the fact that I like you and you like me?"

The suddenness of the question startled Gail and before she realised the words were out.

"Get married in Vegas?"

Holly smiled tightly, staring at her bottle, "Okay. We clearly don't have to have this conversation now." Holly looked over at her, eyes intently focused before softening, "We have to talk about it sometime. I need to know where I stand before I make an idiot out of myself."

Gail couldn't imagine any scenario where Holly would make an idiot out of herself. Gail let her head fall back on the sofa, staring at the ceiling. But Holly was right, the conversation was unavoidable and if truth be told, she wasn't sure she wanted to avoid it. She kinda wanted to stand in the middle of the road and get hit full force by whatever Holly was driving.

"I know." Gail met Holly's gaze. God, where did this woman come from? It felt like out of nowhere, walking through all of her walls and defences like they weren't there. No one had done it unscathed before - she wasn't sure if Holly would make it all the way without a mark - although she kind of hoped. "Just… I can't right now."

Gail felt red raw from today.

Holly nodded slowly and put her empty bottle down, speaking more to herself than Gail.

"I'm into trying new things at the moment. I'm okay with that."

Gail watched her intently. Yeah, she didn't look okay with it at all. She looked pretty much not okay with it. Gail's non-existent internal filter failed to materialise for the millionth time that month.

"You do not look okay with it."

The wistful expression in Holly's eyes shut down any of Gail's sarcastic comments.

"You're straight. And I'm not. And I like you, Gail." Holly got up, clearly needing to pace this out a bit. "It's ridiculous how much I like you. I don't know what to do with that if you like me back but are too scared or… I don't know, unable or unwilling to be receptive to what's going on between us." Holly stopped, closing the distance between them, cautiously, slowly, sitting next to her on the sofa, taking her hand carefully, searching her eyes for - something.

"When you kissed me…," Holly hesitated.

Something she didn't seem to be finding. Holly's expression pained the smallest amount at that realisation. Holly trailed off.

Gail was standing in the middle of that road, watching Holly drive toward her, and sure, she'd asked for it but in the cold light of those headlights-she-was-scared. She retreated, taking her hand back at the sudden intensity of it, this, Holly, the amazing kisses they shared, the overwhelming feeling of panic, the lack of sleep and food and the giant adrenalin crash, the absence of a smartass retort that could sidestep her out of this moment even though, if truth be told, she didn't want to be anywhere else but here. In the middle of this road. Waiting for the Holly truck.

Except when you don't say any of that out loud then you can hardly blame someone for getting the wrong idea.

Holly clenched that rejected hand and quickly nodded before getting up and physically putting distance between them.

"You're straight. And I'm not," she stated and then smiled tightly. "And that's okay." Holly took a breath, her smile becoming tinged in a sadness that was pulled away so effortlessly that it remained only as a shadow. "It's okay. Come on. Let me introduce you to my wonderful spare room."

And that was where Gail was deposited with, even after everything, a caring smile and, "I've set the alarm. I'll be up, too, so just come down when you need to."

Because that was Holly. And as the door clicked shut it was just her. Despite everything bad today and everything so life alteringly wonderful, she had managed to get into Holly's house and yet was still alone.

"Oh my God, how do I do this?"

Gail balled her fists so hard that her nails dug into her flesh. She fell back onto the bed in a star shape and before she knew it she was out. Completely exhausted. Dead to the world. So much so that she didn't hear the knock or Holly coming back in or gently lifting her legs onto the bed and carefully, because she didn't want to wake Gail, not after the day she'd had, covering her in a warm blanket. She didn't see the way Holly looked at her with a longing that finally made the brunette turn away fiercely, annoyed at herself for forgetting the one cardinal rule she had above all else.

"Not the straight ones," Holly whispered to herself before she left.

Gail didn't hear a thing.