A bored teenaged voice called over the supermarket intercom.
“Carla, please come to the checkout. Carla, to the checkout.”
It was four in the afternoon on his day off, and Tim was more than a little drunk and looking straight at the powdered sugar.
His childhood didn’t have a lot of great memories, but most of them involved his grandmother’s baking. Thanksgiving. His birthday. Anyone’s birthday. The town fair. She always came up with something amazing and people talked about her creations in hushed tones. “Oh, of course Mary made those pies, they’re so good.”
She’d let him help, usually when he was over there by himself because his mom had dropped him off to keep him out of the way when his father came home drunk and yelling. Again. He measured things out, he stirred things, he taste-tested, he tried not to think about what was going on at home.
As he’d grown older she’d trusted him to bake things by himself. He made one of the pies at Thanksgiving one year, and she’d told him it was as good as if she’d made it herself. He remembered grinning from ear to ear.
But by the time he was fifteen his grandmother had died of a heart attack and the only escape from his father had been military school and then the Army.
He’d never baked since. It didn’t quite seem right without her, even once he was out of the Army and suddenly had a lot more time on his hands that wasn’t ‘wait here while we find a target for you to hunt down and shoot.’
“Excuse me, sir?”
He looked around. A woman with short blonde hair gave him a polite smile.
“I just need to get at the …”
Tim realised she meant the powdered sugar he was currently blocking.
He stood aside. “Oh, I’m sorry, ma’am.”
“No problem.” She grabbed the sugar and made her way down the aisle.
He walked out of the supermarket with two types of flour, three types of sugar, some butter and a plan.
He decided to start small. Chocolate-chip cookies.
The first batch of cookies wasn’t great - too crispy around the edges - but the second was an improvement and the third he was mostly happy with. Mostly. Tim would have to admit he was a bit of a perfectionist. He worked hard at something until he got it right.
It was nice to follow a list of things, to measure things precisely with the measuring cups he’d found in the back of drawer, to mix it slowly while adding in the chocolate chips and then to shape the cookies with the spoon.
While he worked away everything else in his head calmed down a little.
He was nervous the first time he brought baking into the Marshal’s office. Big Badass Army Ranger and his fine array of baked goods, but fuck it, he liked baking and he couldn’t eat all of it himself, and barring the VFW (and wouldn’t that be a laugh?) or the VA he had nowhere else to take them. Tim wasn’t exactly overstocked in the friends department.
Simmons and Callahan made jokes, but they both shut up pretty quick when they’d actually tried them. Well that, and the look Tim aimed their way probably helped.
Raylan did an actual double take when he saw them sitting by the coffee machine.
Tim was just walking back from the printer. “They’re brownies.”
“I can see that, Tim. Why are there brownies?”
Tim shrugged. “I like to bake.”
There was a pause and Raylan’s left eyebrow ticked up a little bit. “Wait, you made these?”
“Yep. Rangers lead the way.”
Raylan didn’t say anything in return but he did pick one up and continued back to his desk.
He came back and helped himself to a few more over the course of the day.
The next day Raylan ambled into the office. Late. Like normal.
“No brownies today?” he said, as he took off his hat, shrugged off his jacket and put it over the back of his chair.
Tim looked up from his computer screen, where he was trying to finish a report. “What do I look like? Your personal brownie chef?”
Raylan shrugged. “They were good, is all. Maybe needed a little ice cream.”
Tim rolled his eyes. Raylan thought everything needed ice cream. “Well, I’m glad you liked them. Your acceptance means the world to me, Raylan.”
“No need to be so sarcastic about it.”
He was being sarcastic, but probably not as much as Raylan thought he was.
He worked his way up to bread.
It hadn’t been a good day. Everything kept reminding him of being back there. Back to those cold nights on a rooftop in Iraq. Thoughts of who didn’t come back. (Clinton Rodriguez, his sniper partner, Tim Dale, who he’d been through basic with, Oscar Varone, who always had a grin in the mess … )
He was edgy, and everything in his head was spinning a little bit more and more out of control. He’d been keeping such a tight check on himself during the day in the office, out in the field, but now it was harder to keep a lid on. He had nothing else to concentrate on.
He grabbed a beer from the fridge and opened up the cupboards where he kept his supplies.
He kneaded the bread. Working it one way, turning it, working it again. Concentrating on nothing but the dough between his fingers. Slamming it down on the bench every now and then. Sometimes a little harder than he needed to.
He breathed a little easier. It was all a little bit further away.
Rachel went to get coffee at the same time as he did. A plate of walnut bread he’d brought in sat on the counter.
She stood aside after filling up her mug and waited for him to pour his.
“This helps, doesn’t it?” She gestured to the bread.
Of course she got it.
He nodded. “It does. Some of the time.”
She smiled. “Good.”
“Also, things seem to go a hell of a lot smoother around here when everyone is placated with carbs.”
“Well, maybe except for …” she looked towards Raylan’s desk, which of course he wasn’t at. He was in Harlan. Probably. Tim actually had no idea, but it was always a fairly good guess.
“I don’t think I could ever bake enough to do that.”
Like he said to Rachel though, it was only some of time. He still saw his counselor at the VA and there were some days when the old coping methods - cheap beer and Wild Turkey - were the best.
It was after everything had gone down with Drew. The shootout on the road with Colt and the molotov cocktail; Arlo at the hospital and Raylan’s matter-of-fact announcement of his death. It had been an eventful couple of weeks.
Tim remembered the phone call about his own father’s death. His mother’s flat tone over the training base phone. The crackly line. How he’d been so tempted to say “good, I’m glad he’s dead” but didn’t out of deference to his mother’s feelings.
Raylan's relationship with his father had a few dozen levels more complication on top, but your dad could be a son of a bitch and a very small part of you still missed them even when you desperately didn't want to miss them at all.
Tim got that
He knocked on Raylan’s door.
This was probably a stupid idea. It was definitely a stupid idea. But here he was anyway, without any real plan other than turn up bearing gifts.
Raylan opened the door. He was in jeans and a tank top, and he was looking just on the good side of dishevelled.
He raised an eyebrow when he saw Tim standing there.
“I brought bourbon.”
Raylan looked significantly at the container Tim was carrying in the other arm.
Raylan opened the door wider and let Tim pass. “If you hadn’t said brownies, I wasn’t gonna let you in …”