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The Rest of Their Lives

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  Bishop and Miller walked through the halls of Seattle Pres, passing other firefighters scattered along the walls and waiting rooms. They exchanged confused glances trying to figure out why they were being led away from the other firefighters and why they were requested here in the first place. They had both asked Captain Herrera a couple of times on the way and when they started heading down the hospital’s halls but, he just grunted mumbling something about not really knowing what was happening either. All he said on the way over was that it was Sullivan’s orders and that no matter what happened with the chief they need to be here for support.

  They arrived at their apparent destination the older man knocked on the door lightly. It was opened by Sullivan who didn’t quite look like himself, he didn’t say anything just opened the door wide enough for them to pass through closing it behind them. Their crew greeted them quietly as they entered, everyone except Hughes, who stayed in her spot on the couch holding the hand of a women Miller had never seen. They both had tears in their eyes, staring blankly at the spot in front of them. Before he could ask what was happening the door opened again and a man came rushing through, followed by three teenage kids heading straight for the women and Vic.

“Oh, I’m so glad you’re here,” The women sighed rushing towards him.

He hugged her tightly and the tears spilled out of her eyes once she was in his arms. His eyes were red as well and he sounded out of breath, as soon as they separated, she reached for the kids pulling them close to her.

“You must be Vic?” The man asked turning to Hughes who was still sitting on the couch.

She looked up at him confused for a second and then she stood, he wrapped her in a kind hug, and she excepted.

“Luke and Jen have told me so much about you. I wish we were meeting on better circumstances,” He said as they separated.

Luke? Now Dean was really confused, he and Bishop shot each other another confused glance, they seemed to be the only two people in the room who didn’t know what the hell was going on.

“This is Jace our oldest, then Josh, and Jessie,” The man told Vic as the women let go of the kids allowing them to greet her.

The kids didn’t look like, who Dean assumed were, their parents they both had brown hair and bright eyes, their skin was light, not like the kids’. Their skin was tan, and they had dark eyes and black hair, the girls’ reached down to almost her hips she was short compared to her brothers but, still slightly taller than her mother.

Sullivan came over to the group. “Glad to see you back in Seattle Sully,” The man greeted with a firm handshake and quick hug, Sullivan hugged the kids as well he had obviously known them for a while.

“Yeah well you can blame Ripley for that one,” Sullivan joked.

“How’s he doing?” The man asked his wife.

Dean zoned out, a little bit on purpose trying to give them privacy, it wasn’t hard to figure out they were Chief Ripley’s family he was just wondering how Vic and the rest of their crew fit into it. Bishop was obviously doing the same while the others avoided eye contact, looking at the walls or the old medical articles placed around the room.

An out of breath nurse burst into the room pulling the woman and her husband plus Vic, and Sullivan aside updating them on the chief’s condition. After he left Sullivan informed the others There were a few complications but, they were in the process of closing him up he was going to be okay. It would still be an hour or so before they would be able to see him.

The whole room seemed to release the breath it was holding allowing for some of the tension to fade as well.

 The family exchanged more hugs after the nurse left happy with the news, the mother couldn't keep herself from crying she apologized for it a couple of times but, they were tears of utter joy and they complimented the smile on her face well. She gave Vic a hug as well whispering something in her ear that no one else seemed to be able to make out. They stayed like that for a while, but, when they separated Dean watched from the corner of his eyes as Vic practically fell back on to the couch Travis right behind her with a firm hand on her back for support.

Half an hour later Vic realized she hadn’t said a word since before Bishop and Miller arrived. The room was filled with whispers and light conversation. Jen’s kids sat on the floor against the wall doing homework, they came straight from Portland so, Mike probably had to pull them out of school early. She overheard the team asking each other about her and Ripley or what was going on in general.

“Hughes," Sullivan called in a quiet voice sitting down on the table in front of her, "I know this isn’t the best time but, I think if you’re up for it you should explain."

It threw the rest of the crew none of them other than Herrera had heard his voice so soft before, speaking to Hughes like she was a friend. Vic looked up at him she saw the concern in his eyes the Captain she knew had all but, faded away. In front of her was someone who cared about her, who cared about Lucas.

“It's okay if you can’t,” Travis added next to her, and Sullivan nodded in agreement.

“No, he’s right,” Her voice was hoarse so much, so it didn’t sound like her’s at first.

 She wasn’t able to hold back her tears and her hands shook as she wiped the water from here checks but, she pushed through it, thinking of Lucas and knowing she would be in his arms soon.

“What Hughes says stays in this room,” Sullivan ordered his normal voice returning.

Standing up from the table with his arms crossed he looked around to each and every one of them making sure they all gave him a nod. Vic would have to remember to thank him for that, though it wasn’t technically right for him to ask that she didn’t care.

She couldn’t look at them still choosing to look where the wall across from her met the floor and then to the little toy car in her hand.

“Luc-Rip...” She took a breath “Ripley and I are together-,”

“What the hell?” Maya exclaimed quietly, she hadn’t meant for it to be so loud or come out at all she immediately felt guilty when she saw Vic wince at her words. “I’m so sorry, I was just surprised Vic,” She apologized.

Vic whipped her eyes again taking another deep breath, “It’s okay, I know it's confusing but, I can’t do questions right now.”

Dr. Pierce entered the room before anyone else got a chance to say anything. Vic was relived for a moment until the fear something went wrong returned.

“He is awake and responding exactly how we want him to, we would like to keep him overnight though, just to make sure the counties to do so, he’s asking for you,” Dr. Pierce finished looking at Vic, a small smile on her face.

Vic stood thanked her with a quick hug. Jen did the same smiling at her kids and husband, they put their papers in their bags and stood up ready to follow Vic and their parents to their uncles’ room but, suddenly Vic stopped.

“I can’t,” She said taking a few steps back from the door.

“Vic he’s okay, he made it through,” Jen comforted her hand on the doorknob.

“No, there’s to many of them out there, they’re going to see me and ask questions and I can’t do questions, neither can he,” She explained taking a few more steps back.

“She’s right there is a good chunk of the department out there they’re going to notice especially Frankel,” Andy said Vic, threw her head in her hands.

“Not to sound ignorant but, how bad would it really be if they did find out?” Mike asked.

“He’s the chief, he outranks me by every rank, and he’s fifteen years older. We could both lose our jobs I don’t even know. It’s not much of a secret half the top brass of the department has just been waiting for him to slip up since he got the job this could easily be their excuse to fire him or force him to step down. I can’t let this day be about that, I walk into that room and everyone is going to know somethings going on,” She explained angry at the situation.

It probably sounded so wrong to the others what she was saying, the man she loved was sitting in a hospital bed asking specifically for her and she was to worried about her reputation to go to him. But they had been talking about it since this whole thing started as much as they wanted to be together as much as they loved each other the consequences could be extreme and she didn’t want him to have to worry about losing his job while he was trying to heal.

“I’m so sorry Jen, I know how this sounds… terrible I just can’t let this be the reason he might lose his job after everything,” Vic pleaded.

“What if we all go in together?” Warren suggested, “I know its probably not the privacy you’re hoping for but, it gets you in the room.”

“It’s only family right now, I don’t have the leverage to pull strings here like I can at Grey Sloan,” Pierce stated absently, she was obviously thinking through something in her head.

“Vic, I know you don’t want to be the reason he loses his job and I know how much yours means to you as well but, Lucas cares more about you than he’s ever cared about his career,” Jenifer stated.

“She’s right Hughes, I’ve never seen Luke the way he is with you,” Sullivan added.

Vic could see the pain in her eyes she knew she just wanted to see Lucas and she was holding her back from that.

“Just go without me for right now and tell him I love him,” She instructed, trying to keep from screaming in frustration.

“Vic come on, you need to see him,” Travis said from behind her. “Like she said Ripley’s not going to care about-,”

Vic turned around to face him quickly. “Travis I said no, I’m not going okay?” Her voice was rising the stress the day had produced was starting to boil over.

She took a deep breath and turned to Jenifer. “I am not trying to make this any harder than it already is Jen and I’m sorry it is so complicated. It is killing me I’m not with him right now but-,” She turned back to Travis her expression shifting from apologetic to frustrated. “-I am the only one in this room who sees him as both the chief and as Lucas, I am the one who holds him when he blames himself for the people he couldn’t save when he’s crying over the firefighters he’s lost. I’m the one that sees him dance in the kitchen and wake up to get ready for work, come home covered in sweat and ash. I know him and I know you two-,” She gestured to captains Sullivan and Herrera “- At least saw him bust his ass to get where he is now, it’s his life, its who he is. I didn’t just fall in love with just Lucas Ripley I fell in love with the fucking chief of the Seattle fire department too. I will love him whether he has this job or not but, I refuse to be the reason he loses it,” Her stance was firm, Travis had even backed up a few paces.

Everyone looked around at each other not knowing what to say, Vic kept her eyes on Travis waiting for him to back off. She knew snapping at him wasn’t necessarily fair but, it was her relationship and he needed to stay out of it especially right now.

Jenifer still had her hand on the doorknob, hoping Vic would change her mind, but, it didn’t look like that would be happening anytime soon. She looked to Sullivan for reassurance he just nodded his arms still crossed a little bit taken aback by the urgency in Hughes’ voice.

“Okay, keep your phone on you, Vic,” Jen agreed. Vic turned to her, her face shifting again to the apologetic and frightened look she had worn all day. She nodded and opened the door.

“Wait,” Dr. Pierce practically yelled.

Everyone turned to her.

“You five can go ahead room 370, Vic, give me like two minutes,” With that, the now enthusiast doctor rushed out the door behind Jenifer and her family.

It was silent when the door shut behind them, Vic left standing in the middle of the room with all the other eyes on her.

“I’m sorry,” She apologized to Travis breaking the silence.

“I meant everything I said but, I know you were just trying to help,” She finished.

“I’m sorry too, I shouldn’t have pushed,” He apologized, she smiled at him.

Dr. Pierce came rushing back into the room out of breath, she was holding light green fabric in her hands.

“Here these should fit you,” She said handing Vic the fabric. It was a pair of scrubs, Vic looked at her question in her eyes.

“Most of the firefighters are out to the left, which is the same direction as Ripley’s room but, you said it yourself you’re an unranked firefighter you put these on we go out of this room take a right then go the long way around-,” She pulled a surgical mask out of her pocket “- Maybe add this and a clipboard for good measure and there’s a good chance no one will recognize you,” She finished obviously proud of her work.

“Damn Pierce,” Warren exclaimed with a soft laugh.

“I like solving problems,” She said with a shrug.

“This could work Vic,” Andy said.

“Wait isn’t impersonating a doctor illegal?” Vic asked.

“Just don’t try to prescribe medication or try to operate on anyone and you should be fine,” Peirce joked awkwardly.

“Okay… Yeah this could work,” Vic agreed, a smile growing on her lips for the first time since she arrived at the diner this morning to meet Ripley.

The guys converged in one corner of the room turning around to let her change, she did so quickly Andy and Maya providing her help taking her uniform from her folding it neatly and placing it on one of the chairs with the utmost care.

“Ready?” Dr. Pierce asked. Vic nodded and they headed to the door.

“Oh wait,” Vic stopped suddenly again.

They all looked at her again waiting for her to say something, she didn’t she just reached up to her ponytail pulling it out of the hair tie she fluffed her hair a bit and turned to Travis who was trying so hard not to let his smile grow any wider.

“How do I look?” She asked.

“Beautiful,” He replied, “Go get your answer,” He gave her a quick hug and then she left with Dr.Pierce.

The room was silent for a few minutes after she left.

“Okay, what the hell just happened?” Miller asked sitting down slowly Bishop right beside him.

“You all have some catching up to do,” Gibson laughed sitting down beside Bishop.

The others all sat down too all having decided earlier to stay and wait till they could visit Ripley like the other firefighters who lined the hospital’s halls. They also wanted to be there for Vic if and when she needed them.

“You knew, how long?” Andy asked.

“Since it happened uh six months or so ago."

“This has been going on for six months, how did you find out?” Maya asked Andy.

“We were here when he woke up, he was asking for her, Sullivan filled us in.”

“I knew you knew; how did you find out?” Travis shouted at Sullivan not really caring about formality.

Sullivan even laughed a little bit, “Rip was asking about a hypothetical and it was obviously real, then when he wouldn’t tell me her name I figured It was someone in the department then he sneezed and Hughes was sick that day so I put to and to together and when I asked if it was Hughes he said yes. That was the night we got called to assist her in the field,” He explained.

“Hypothetical huh? He must get that from her, same thing she did to me,” Gibson joked.

“How did you figure out Hughes was seeing the chief based on a hypothetical situation?” Warren asked he had obviously underestimated Gibson.

“Well, technically I didn’t he called her that night and I saw his name on the screen, she didn’t deny it,”

“Okay, now that sounds more like Vic,” Andy stated, and the others agreed.

“So, I’m assuming she told you?” Sullivan asked Travis, he somewhat surprised himself by asking but, he had to admit he was curious, plus it’s not like they didn’t have time to spare the aid car and already been returned to 19 and B- team called in. All they had to do was wait.

“She was in the process of doing so, then Ripley came in looking for Captain Herrera and my first clue was that she told him she had never seen him in her entire life. He also made a comment about not knowing she was into cycling, then her bike spun out of control and he hit the break and smiled at her made sure she was all right it was really sweet actually, nowhere near subtle. Honestly looking back on it I’m surprised we didn’t figure it out sooner, I think I’ve seen that man smile five times the whole time I’ve known him and three of those where when Vic was around.” Travis explained.

“Waving buddies,” Andy exclaimed loudly everyone’s heads spun towards her confused she sunk down in her chair a little. “He waved and smiled at her during PD training, she was all defensive about it.”

“Oh my god thanksgiving, we were teasing her about man blanket 23 right in front of him,” Maya said feeling guilty again.

“Good to know we weren’t the only ones being tortured,” Andy joked to Sullivan he chuckled.

“So, this is really real Vic and the Chief they’re together together?” Miller asked trying to process the last hour.

“She proposed,” Andy answered.

“Vic Hughes proposed to someone?” Bishop asked.

“Technically he was the one who brought up marriage,” Travis began “They’re trying to find a loophole in the policy so neither of them loses their job. Ripley figured out that rank isn’t a problem among spouses so, it was their best option. Then I might or might not have convinced Vic that if she was going to get married she should do it, for real love and not for policy and she ended up agreeing and proposed after he made it out of the coffee plant,” He finished.

“Wow,” was all Captain Herrera could say.

“She really proposed?” Miller asked again still completely thrown by the last hour.

Travis nodded.

“Damn,” Miller sighed sitting back, shaking his head.

“And there is no way he’s saying anything but, yes,” Sullivan added.

Wow was really the only thing any of them could think, all trying to connect the dots between Vic and Ripley in the last six months.

*********

About two hours later Sullivan found himself knocking on Ripley’s door the crew standing behind him waiting.

“Some of 19, wanted to say hello,” He said poking his head in.

Ripley nodded and the team filled into the room. He was wide awake sitting up reading a book, Hughes, on the other hand, was tucked into his side fast asleep with her head on his chest holding onto him tightly. Sullivan chuckled at the kids sitting on the small bench by the window also fast asleep he remembered a few times before he left for Montana when he would found them the same way at Ripley’s apartment.

“Glad to see they still have their ability to sleep anywhere,” He joked pointing at the kids.

Ripley nodded with a smile “Yeah Vic, fights right in,” He looked at his friend as the others made their way into the room quietly.

“looks like you’re going to get another chance to buy me that beer you owe me,” Ripley spoke quietly to Sullivan.

Sullivan cracked a smile, “I don’t think this is that kind of establishment,” He answered.

Ripley just nodded in agreement happy to be able to joke with him again.

Lucas could still see the red in his eyes the stress showing on his usually ageless face.

“You look like hell,” he said.

“Yeah, you’re not looking to hot yourself,” Sullivan shot back, taking a seat in the chair beside the bed stealing an unopen cup of Jell-O from his tray.

Ripley looked around the room at Vic’s crew standing quietly avoiding eye contact at all cost. She hadn’t budged in the last hour sound asleep next to him. He cleared his throat as quiet as possible trying to regain his best chief’s voice before speaking.

“I know this wasn’t the news you all were expecting today and I want to thank you for being there for Vic. I know how much you all mean to her, you are her family and my intention was never to get in the way of that however, there are consequences to our relationship and keeping it a secret from all of you wasn’t just to protect myself but, her as well.”

“What exactly was your intention?” Captain Herrera asked in a stern fatherly tone.

“Dad,” Andy warned.

“Its okay Herrera, it’s a fair question. To be honest, I didn’t really have one at first, I just really liked her, I never planned on doing anything about it but..." A smile formed on the corner of his lips. "she had other ideas and I wasn’t going to let her slip away from me,” He answered then he looked down at Vic that smile immediately grew he turned his head back up to captain Herrera. “Now, if you’re asking about my current intentions that’s pretty simple, I’m going to spend the rest of my life with her,” He finished once again looking back down to her.

Travis’ face went red with excitement, there was no doubt in his mind that he was going to say yes to Vic but, hearing it from Ripley himself sent him over the moon.

“We’re not going to say anything Chief,” Bishop spoke up suddenly and awkwardly.

“Thank you, Bishop, but, I can’t ask any of you to do that. Not only is that a complete abuse of power I don’t want to put any of you in that position, but there could also be real consequences if HR finds out you all knew especially you two,” He said looking at Gibson and Sullivan.

“We made the decision to keep it quite all on our own,” Sullivan responded.

“I agree with the Captain, it was our choice not to report it, if there are consequences then we face them too. You shouldn’t have to take the fall for everyone I mean you didn’t even know I knew, till months later,” Gibson said.

“You can’t make us keep it to ourselves but, you can’t make us report you either, chief,” Montgomery spoke up hoping not to sound to insubordinate.

The others agreed with him. Ripley had to admit he was surprised by their response. Part of it could be equated to the fact they were having this discussion while he was in a hospital bed with Vic asleep next to him just having heard his promise of spending the rest of his life with her. He knew he had the respect of Vic’s crew captain Herrera included Vic, had even mentioned the team liked him as chief and as a person in general but, their feelings for him set aside it was obvious they were doing this Vic.

The door opened suddenly the crew practically jumped fearing it was a member of the department but, it was just Mike and Jen returning. 

 “Oh, sorry are we interrupting?” She asked.

“No, we were just about to leave,” Captain Sullivan answered.

“Uh well this is probably a good time to properly introduce you to Vic’s team,” Ripley said.

“Oh yes, I’m sorry I should have said something earlier,” Jen said setting her stuff down.

“No, you are totally okay, we understand,” Montgomery said stepping towards her, “I’m Travis Montgomery,” He introduced extending his hand towards her. She took it shaking it gently and introduced her husband to him.

“Okay so, you’re Travis, you must be Bishop and Herrera,” She pointed between Warren and Miller “Miller, Warren,” They nodded and shook her hand as well “then that would make you Gibson and you captain Herrera,” She finished with a confident smile.

“Sorry,” She laughed a little embarrassed “Vic speaks very highly of all of you, Lucas too,” She explained now Ripley looked embarrassed.

“You’ve still got a line of visitors out there,” Mike told Lucas weaving his way to the other side of the room to wake up his kids.

“Yeah, I should probably get started on that,” He sighed and looked at Travis. “You think you could get her home?” He asked.

“Yeah of course,” the younger man assured.

Ripley shifted jostling Vic lightly, “Hey, sweetheart, it’s time to get up.”

“Not yet,” She said sleepily.

He laughed “Come on Eggy, you need to go home and get some rest.” He helped her sit up as best he could she still hadn’t opened her eyes.

“You can come to mine,” Travis offered.

Vic jumped a little bit at the sound of Travis’ voice, she opened her eyes to see the rest of her team, captain Herrera included staring back at her. “Shit, hey guys,” She greeted trying to wake herself up a little bit. “What time is it?”

“A little after six,” Lucas answered.

“I want to stay here with you,” She groaned.

“I know baby, but you need to rest too, and I’ve got a bunch of antsy firefighters outside waiting to visit,” He said.

She rolled her eyes just slightly sighing. Why did he have to be so good at his job?

“We’ve got your clothes, Vic, if you want to change you can just walk out with us, we don’t think anyone will notice,” Andy said stepping towards the bed Vic’s uniform in her hands.

Vic just nodded climbing off the bed slowly and headed into the bathroom.

Suddenly, she felt sick to her stomach. God, she really didn’t need anything else to happen today. Before she put on her shirt, she splashed her face with cold water and pulled her hair back into a neat ponytail she examined herself in the mirror not really recognizing herself looking completely burnt out. She noticed her chest for a split second her boobs looked bigger than usual thinking about it they were also a little bit sore. But she had spent the last hour and a half, laying half on top of Lucas in a hospital bed her whole body was sore and aching, just as exhausted as her mind. She had been in the bathroom long enough, she slipped her shirt on quickly and excited the small space.

The others were ready and waiting standing by the door, she came back over to the bed sitting on the edge.

“I’ll call you later tonight,” She told him, her voice was starting to shake and all the people in the room seem to just fade into the background she lowered her voice in effort not to scar his niece and nephews “You know in my mind were on a beach right now,” She said forcing a smile.

He laughed, “Bikini?” “Oh yeah, you’re a very lucky man Lucas Ripley,” She teased.

“I really am,” He repeated.

She cleared her throat checking back into reality and to the fact, her team and his family were standing no more than four feet away.

“I’ll call you tonight and then I’ll see you tomorrow,” She informed him, trying to think of something else to say to have an excuse to stay longer but, she knew if she did, she wouldn’t leave and staying in the chief’s hospital room overnight would produce questions. God, she was so fucking tired of this.

“Sounds good,” He said, this time it was her turn to wipe the tears from his checks.

With both hands on his cheeks she leaned in kissing him softly, breaking it only to lean back in planting a few quick kisses on his lips and then cheeks and forehead.

“Okay, I love you,” She smiled getting off the bed.

He let out an overdramatic sigh “Damn it, I think I love you too,” he replied winking at her.

“Oh, you think you get to be funny now?” She asked with a raised eyebrow.

He just shrugged a cocky smile on his face.

She shook her head not doing a good job of hiding her own smile, she gave Jen a tight hug promising to be back tomorrow, she also whispered another apology to which Jen told her not to worry about, she also told Vic how much she loved her. Causing a small pool of tears to return to her eyes.

“I’ll text Jen when I get home and you and the kids can come over,” She told Mike giving him a quick hug as well.

They had decided before she fell asleep that Jen would stay with Lucas overnight and Mike could sleep in Vic’s spare bedroom while the kids took her living room. As she met her team on the other side of his bed, they all shook Ripley’s hand wishing him well and then migrated towards the door allowing the others behind them to do the same. Vic wondered how long they were in here before she woke up, as she waited for them to say their quick goodbyes. It was her turn again for a split second she considered just telling him bye and leaving as quickly as possible, even thought about finding another closet to scream in. But instead, she placed one of her hands on the back of his head tilting it upward so she could reach his lips while standing over him. She kissed him this time a bit slower and looked him right in the eyes trying to make sure he really was okay, that his blue eyes were still looking right back at her.

“Love you,” He said.

“Love you too,” She replied. With that she kissed his head and stood up to leave, taking a long slow breath hoping the tears in her eyes were no longer visible as she trudged out the door.

Walking down the hall through the crowd of firefighters her gaze landed on the of Battalion chiefs they passed who were obviously heading to Lucas’ room. She felt like the world was moving in slow motion like every eye was on her as she and her crew walked to the nearest exit. She heard a few whispers questions as to why nineteen was the first crew was to see him and not the Bat. Chiefs. It made her skin crawl worried they didn’t do enough to cover it up or that all that extra work and people found out anyways but, she heard someone else shrug and say it was just because, they were the first ones called or that the Chief and Sullivan were close friends.

Once they made it out of the hospital, she felt like she could finally breathe again, no one to put on a brave face for no pretending like she wasn’t dying inside. Until the nauseous feeling in her stomach returned.

“Vic you okay,” Travis asked, and the others turned towards her with concern.

She was about to answer when the sensation climbed up her throat, she ran to the bushes beside them before it forced her mouth open and the contents of her stomach spilled onto the poor plants below.

She paused before standing up straight wiping her mouth with the back of her hand.

“Yeah just peachy,” She answered sarcastically.

********

The next morning Vic found herself, waking up in between Travis and Maya in her bed. She sat up looking at both nightstands hoping one of them would have her phone but, it looked like neither of them did. By the minimal amount of golden sunlight streaming through the gaps in the blinds she knew it was earlier than she originally thought. She ran her fingers through her hair taking a moment to wake up trying to figure out how to get out of the bed without disturbing the others too much. It ended up being easier than expected she left the room quickly tiptoeing through the living room which was currently housing Jessie and Andy on the couch, with Jack, Dean, Josh, and Jace stretched out on the floor Warren had left around eleven last night.

Vic smiled thinking about finding her team at her door last night a couple of hours after Mike and the kids arrived, they brought popcorn and a few movies. Dean even brought his Xbox issuing a clear warning to anyone who dared to challenge him. Jessie ended up whipping the floor with all of them. No one asked about or mentioned Ripley they just simply provided a much-needed distraction for both her and Lucas’ family.

She found her phone on the kitchen counter. A text from Sullivan informed her that her shift was covered, she sent him a thank you and then sent Lucas a text. He replied within a few seconds asking her why she was up so early.

Just woke up couldn’t go back to sleep. She wrote back.

Okay, I’ll see you soon.

Okay, love you.

Love you too Eggy.

She almost dropped her phone on the counter when her stomach lurched, she ran as fast and as quiet as she could back into her room and into the bathroom closing the door behind her somehow, she managed to turn on the shower before puking into the toilet. She hoped if anyone were to wake up the water would mask the sound of her throwing up again.

It only lasted a minute or two, when it was over, and she could stand without fear of having to stick her head back in the bowl she shuffled to the sink grabbing her toothbrush and loading it with toothpaste in effort to get the awful taste out of her mouth. Her mind had blanked running on autopilot the only thoughts currently in her head were of Lucas sitting in a hospital bed, and how good the steam building from the shower felt against her skin, so, she peeled off her clothes and stepped into the hot water.

After a few moments of standing under the constant stream of warmth her mind started to return she thought about the last few months, the last few weeks, the last 24 hours. And as she reached for the body wash a lose thought made its way around her head.

Her eyes shot open.

Shit

Skinning down to sit on the floor of the shower she held on to the sides for support, she couldn’t move again stuck with that single thought in her head not really knowing whether she wanted to be right or wrong. She didn’t move again till a knock came at the door causing her to jump right out of her skin. She heard a voice but, had no clue who it was or what they said.

“I’ll be out in a minute,” She called hoping that would be a sufficient answer for whatever it had been.

I’m a little teapot,

She began to sing in her head gripping the sides of the shower for dear life, mustering up the strength to stand.

Short and stout,

She continued, reaching for the facet, turning off the water.

Here is my handle here is my spout,

She stepped out of the shower finding fresh towels in the cabinet, she wrapped one around her wet body.

When I get all steamed up,

Once again looking at herself in the mirror she barely recognized the reflection in front of her unable to even tell what emotions she was currently feeling. She couldn’t stop herself curiosity controlling every inch of her brain. She dropped the towel and turned to the side ever so slightly. Watching one hand land in the middle of her stomach right below her belly button it moved it up and down slowly. She searched her body for a sign-

Hear me shout,

 for a curve.

Tip me over and pour me out.

Chapter Text

“Eat your food Eggy,” Lucas told Vic, he kept his eyes on his own plate, but, could feel her glance at him every few seconds.  

“I am, I was just looking at the clock,” She lied.

“That clock hasn’t worked the entire time we’ve been coming here,” He responded looking up to her.

She turned back to her food with an attitude, and he chuckled.

“I think she’s just nervous Luke… I think we all are, I mean it’s only been a week,” Jen admitted.

“I won’t be back full time for another three weeks, I’m just going up to do some paperwork and meet with my chiefs I’ll be home by two pm at the latest,” He explained. Again.

“We know Luke, but we also know you, and we don't want you getting sucked in and either end up there all night or asking to go back in one week instead of three,” Vic countered, Jen, nodded her head in agreement with Vic.

“They got you there, Rip,” Mike teased popping a strawberry in his mouth.

“It’s just one day and then I promise I will be back by three-,”

“You just said two p.m.,” Jen interjected.

Lucas rolled his eyes, he was hoping they hadn’t caught that. “I will be back by 2:30 p.m., and I will not step a single foot on Seattle FD property until the remaining three weeks are up,” He promised. “Besides I’ve got stuff do to,” He added with a shrug shoving his last bite of food in his mouth, Vic raised an eyebrow.

“You keeping secrets hubby?” She question though her voice faded off at the end, as her hand settled on her belly for a split second, she really didn’t have room to judge if he was.

Thankfully, their waitress appeared with the check, the crooked name tag under her collar simply read Charlie. She was short and thin, her light brown hair was tied in a ponytail on the top of her head, yet it still reached down to her shoulder blades, she had blue almost grey eyes, and fair skin. She looked younger then she was but, she had a disposition that made her seem older. Vic had asked about her at the begin of the week when she brought Luke to the diner on their way home from the hospital. Cam smiled his kind signature Cam smile and told her, that she had recently turned fifteen and was, in fact, a new hire, adding almost under his breath that he would do his best to make sure the job was a good one for her. They could both tell there was more to the story but, it wasn’t their place to ask nor Cam’s to tell.

“Anything else I can get you?” She asked setting down the check and forcing a tired smile.

“No, I think we are good,” Lucas answered.

He reached for the check knocking over his water in the process, the whole table flinched, including Charlie.

“I’m so sorry,” She apologized frantically.

“Trust me that’s all on him,” Vic laughed handing a now wet pants Lucas another napkin.

“no, no I shouldn’t have put it there that was-,”

“Hey, everything okay over here?” Cam asked running over with a towel.

Lucas watched Charlie flinch again at the sound of Cam’s voice, Vic seemed to notice it as well.

“Uh, it was my fault I’m so sorry, I will get it all-,”

“Woah hey, it’s okay Charlie, it happens it is no big deal, why don’t you just go take a break and I’ll take care of this,” Cam offered.

“Really it was my fault anyways don’t worry about it,” Lucas added giving the young girl a sincere and slightly concerned look.

She stood still for a long time until she realized everyone was looking at her, she started nodding and then backed away quickly retreating to the back into the kitchen.

“Is she okay?” Vic asked, staring at the door Charlie had disappeared into.

“Uh, yeah I think she’s just nervous, she gets a little jumpy with loud noises and stuff,” Cam explained wiping down the table and trying not to overshare. “But I will make sure she is okay and take care of this,” He said grabbing the check and the cash on top, his smile returning.

“Uh, were good she can keep the change, thank you, Cam,” Lucas stated. Cam nodded, taking a few plates and leaving.

Lucas looked at his watch. “You’re going to be late if you don’t get going,” He told Vic, who was still staring at the door the young waitress had walked through.

 “Yeah,” She agreed to turn her head back to the table but, her eyes stayed glued to the door.

After a few more moments her eyes made their way back to the table as well and she collected herself.

“Call me tonight and then tomorrow morning before you leave,” She instructed grabbing his chin and quickly kissing him.

“Yes ma’am,” He said with a smile.

He slid out of their side of the booth to let her out, he stood still as she told Mike and Jen bye, and waited for his goodbye kiss.

“Be safe,” He said before letting her go, and then he watched her walk out of the diner.

He turned back to Mike and Jen who had dopey grins. He rolled his eyes again.

“I never thought I’d see the Lucas Ripley, like a love-sick teenager,” Mike teased, earning him the finger from Lucas, he and Jen just laughed.

“Hon, we got to go too if we’re going to meet the Carson’s on time,” Jen reminded looking at her own watch.

Mike agreed sliding out of the booth, the three of them headed to the door. For some reason Lucas had the urge to look back at their table where a still shaken looking Charlie was now clearing the remaining dishes, he just so happened to still be watching her when Mike opened the door and the bell rang, he didn’t have time to turn away when she looked at the door so, instead he just gave her a soft smile, she did the same, then turned back to her work, There was something about her that he couldn’t explain.

“You coming Luke?” Mike called.

“Uh yeah, yeah,” He answered quietly, sparing another quick glance at the table but, the girl had left.

 Mike and Jen drove him back to his apartment before leaving to meet their friends, Jace, Josh, and Jessie were there packing his things up. Vic had taken the opportunity of him needing to stay with her while he recovered to ask him to move in, he happily agreed. Most of his stuff had been in storage since the divorce with Eva was finalized but, there were a few things he liked to keep around him. Mike and Jen volunteered their unsuspecting kids to help him pack instead of sitting around Vic’s doing nothing. They all tried to claim they had more homework to do but, their plan wasn’t well thought out considering both their parents worked at the school and knew that their district made a new rule a couple of years ago that teachers weren’t allowed to assign additional work so close to final exams.

When he got to the door, he realized it was still unlocked he groaned, they had told the kids to lock it multiple times. Before he had the chance to really be upset about it he heard the sound of breaking glass and rushed in.                                                                        

 “Josh, I told you that would happen,” Jace yelled taking the dish towel from him.

“She started it,” Josh shot back.

“Yeah and I’ll finish it too,” E threated.

“Okay, calm down, we need to clean this up before they get back,” Jace said looking around for a broom.

“Too late,” Lucas interjected, they all jumped.

“We’re so sorry uncle Luke, we were just messing around,” Jace stammered.

“E started it,” Josh added.

“I did not,” She defended, Jace rolled his eyes.

Lucas looked at Jessie accusingly, she was, in turn, flashing him her big brown doe eyes, and ever so slight pout. It’s what they called her Disney Face, it was literally like trying to argue with a baby deer Luke had always been powerless against it.

He just sighed, “Any major injuries?” He asked.

“No we're good,” They all answered.

Lucas nodded left the room and quickly came back with a broom. Luckily it was just a plain coffee mug, it only broke into a few pieces instead of a thousand.

“Did your parents say anything about what time they’d be back they didn’t tell me?” He asked handing the broom to Josh and the dustpan to Jessie.

“Uh, mom said around noon but probably later,” Jace answered dumping the glass from the dustpan into a paper bag then into the trash can.

“Good, that gives you all some time with your favorite uncle,” Lucas declared excitedly.

“You’re our only uncle,” John reminded, a little frightened by the amount of energy his favorite uncle was exuding. 

“Come on Musketeers where’s your sense of adventure?”

“No ones called us that in years,” Jace stated, he was now more suspicious then confused.

“Well I think we should bring it back,” Lucas retorted matter of factly.

 Jessie tried to hide her smile as she gave her confused brothers a shrug, then she turned back to Lucas and gave him a nod.

“That’s what I like to hear,” He searched the counter quickly, finding the keys to Mike’s car.

“You’re driving,” He said tossing the keys to Jace. They filled out the door.

                                                                              *******

“Turn right up here,” Lucas instructed his nephew.

Jace did as he was told and made the turn, bringing them into a neighborhood they watched as they past house after house. It was an older subdivision, the houses more spread out instead of right on top of each other. Many of them had large front porches and Jessie noticed a few cats in some of the windows, a couple of dogs here and there as well, it was inviting, warm, and charming.

“I’m not seeing how an old subdivision is an adventure,” John commented under his breath as Jace followed Lucas’ directions.

“I never said we were going on an adventure, I just asked where your sense of it was,” Lucas reminded, “Plus kids live for secrets and what I am about to show you is definitely a secret… well a surprise,” He corrected.

“Life, on top has changed you,” Jace teased, noticing Lucas’ expert redirection.

“Shut up, and take a left up here,” He replied.

A few moments later they arrived at their destination, one of the smaller houses on the end of the block. The tree’s behind and to the side of it framed it perfectly and the small front yard’s lush green grass and perfectly trimmed bushes were almost more inviting than the house itself.

“It's so cute,” Jessie practically squealed, noticing Lucas wasn’t in the car anymore.

She hopped out quickly, standing on the sidewalk, with her brothers and Uncle.

“You want to go inside?” Luke asked, with a grin, pulling Jessie from her thoughts.

“Of course,” She said excitedly then she paused. “Wait, how are we getting in?” She asked, by the looks on Jace’s and John’s faces they were wondering the same thing.

Lucas gave a shy almost embarrassed chuckle and pulled out a key from his pocket.

“I’m pretty close with the owner,” He answered smoothly.

“Holy shit, you bought it?” Jace asked shocked.

“Yeah, you think Vic will like it?” He asked now a little bit concerned she might not.

“If she doesn’t, I’ll take it,” Jessie said under her breath.

Luke just shot her a nervous look, she rolled her eyes.

“I mean... We are just starting to get to know her and get used to her, but we all really like her Uncle Luke, and we can all tell she loves you and you are like grossly in love with her, plus didn’t you say she proposed to you?”

“Technically yes,” He answered.

“See, she wants to have a life with you, she might be upset you didn’t consult her because it is 2019 and women should always be included in the discussion especially ones that have a great impact on her life but, that aside, I think she’ll love it,” Jessie finished with her hands on her hips.

“You might want to work on your pep talks E,” Jace whisper yelled.

She stuck her tongue out at him.

“Well, fingers crossed,” Luke started “Now the owners already moved out but, the sale isn’t completely final, so hands stay in pockets you three have a talent for breaking things,” He ordered, walking up to the door.

“We do not,” They said in unison.

“Oh, was that my other set of a niece and Nephews standing over a broken mug that I walked in on not even an hour ago?” He asked sarcastically, unlocking the door.

They just grumbled, rolled eyes, and passive-aggressively stuffed their hands in their pockets, Eager to see the inside.

“Now this stays top secret,” He warned opening the door for them.

                                                                                 *******

Vic padded through the station, quite as possible trying to clear her head, she should have been sleeping while she had the chance but, sleep was the last thing on her mind. She walked into the beanery hoping something would spark a craving give her something to do but, nothing looked or sounded good. Even if she did eat it would just end up being thrown up like everything else, she’d eaten in the last week. She looked at the clock, it read three a.m. She groaned and trudge out of the beanery to take a couple of laps around the station.

“Hughes,” she heard a quiet voice.

She had been so lost in her head she hadn’t even noticed Sullivan’s office light was on.

“Captain,” She greeted in a scratchy voice. “Didn’t realize anyone was still up,” she stepped into his office he motioned for her to sit in the chair in front of him.

“I had some paperwork to finish and I couldn’t sleep, figured I would get it done now actually be able to leave when the shift ends,” he answered letting out a small laugh at the end.

Vic nodded her head not really knowing what to say, he was kind and friendly to her at the hospital and when he came to check on Ripley a few days ago. Outside the station, he treated her like you’d treat your friend’s wife, with a little bit of extra respect, friendship, and awkwardness that she herself had earned from him on her own, mixed in there as well. But, as soon as they were back in the station, he was back to the distant no-nonsense captain she knew, neither of them really knew how to navigate their relationship, if you could even call it that.

“Sounds like a good idea,” she said.

He put his pen down placing the papers in a neat pile.

“How are you doing?” He asked looking her in the eye.

“I’m good yeah, Jen and her family are here till Saturday and then they are coming back once the kids get out of school, the weekend before Lucas goes back to work, I believe so in three weeks, how are you?”

“I’m good Hughes,” he answered.

They sat there, silence hanging over them.

She should tell him, she should tell somebody at least and he was her boss he needed to know about, her… condition, she had the paperwork in her bag from Grey Sloan, the one that read; To whom it may concern, Vic Hughes is knocked up. Well, maybe it didn't read those exact words. She also thought about Lucas, about him going into work in a few hours worried he would get sucked back into his job before giving himself a chance to rest and recover, also trying to figure out how to tell him about them… condition as well, shouldn’t he know before Sullivan?

“Are you sure you’re okay Hughes?” Sullivan asked again leaning towards her but, she was staring right past him obviously lost in thought, “Hughes?” He called a little louder.

She flinched a little bit her head turned towards him quickly but, her eyes took a bit longer to follow.

“Sorry sir, what was that?” she said.

“I just asked if you are sure you are okay,” He repeated.

She went to say a quick yes and bid him good night but, something stopped her, a fit of nausea rose from her stomach quickly. She practically flew to the trash can by Sullivan’s door dumping the very limited contents of her stomach into it.

She was more than ready to be over this stage.

Sullivan stood quickly grabbing water for her. She let out a frustrated laugh.

“I’m obviously doing great what makes you think otherwise?” she asked sarcasm dripping from every word.

“Do you need to go home, Hughes?” He handed her the water.

“No, I’m fine,” She assured unscrewing the cap and taking a long sip, she casually pulled a peppermint from her bra of all places.

 It was the only place she could keep one when she slept that wouldn’t bother her, he didn’t notice anyway.

“Hughes, haven’t we been over this before you can’t be here if you have a stomach bug, especially if it’s contagio-,”

“It’s not a bug and it’s definitely not contagious,” she cut him off dancing around the explanation. She sighed leaning up against the wall.

 Sullivan was a smart man he would connect the dots eventually, so she sat there and waited for the puzzle to click. He looked at her question in his eyes, she could see the wheels turning slowly as he looked to her then at the floor or window eyebrows creased in concentration.

“You’ll get there,” She encouraged dryly letting the cool wall support her head.

He looked at her one more time, then to the hand on her stomach and his eyes went wide.

There it is. she cheered sarcastically in her head.

 “You’re pregnant.” he realized the slight hint of a question in his voice.

 there it was.

Another thought crossed her mind as she realized she hadn’t even said it out loud yet.

“Does Luke know?” his voice was barely a whisper.  

She shook her head no and gave him a shrug.

“I just found out for sure a few days ago, I haven’t had much time to process with everything going on.” She explained. “It just so happens kids is the one thing we haven’t talked about, I just kind of assumed he didn’t want any and never brought it up.”

“Do you?” He asked. 

She looked at him a little bit surprised.

“I don’t it's hard to explain, I feel like I keep forgetting it is even there, but, then I remember, and I get scared but, also… I don’t know relieved, It- it sounds weird and crazy-,”

“It sounds like you want this baby Hughes,” Sullivan interjected with a sympathetic smile. 

She looked around the room a surprising expression growing “Yeah I think I do,” She agreed, her smile grew slightly and then faded as soon as she turned her face away from her captain.

He thought about it for a moment looking at the clock, then he did something that surprised them both, he placed his back to the wall Hughes sat against and slid down it slowly to sit next to her. She kept her gaze fixed straight ahead, a tired almost cynical laugh escaped her.

“How did I go from a badass hot twenty-seven-year-old firefighter to the chiefs dirty little secret pretty much overnight?” He looked almost offended she let out that dark laughed again “I know that’s not what I am to him, we are both very secure in our relationship,” She gestured to her stomach “Well, at the moment I may be more so,” she added, he watched her carefully as she spoke. “My life is just so different, then what I thought it was going to be, what I had planned for it.”

 "Oh?... So, sitting on the floor of your captain's office talking about how your secret finance, the chief of the department knocked you up, wasn’t in your ten-year plan? he joked.

His humor surprised Vic, to say the least, but, she was thankful for it when a real joyful laugh escaped her lips.

"Yeah, definitely wasn't the first thought that came to mind when they asked me at the academy what I thought my life as a Seattle firefighter would look like. It’s just funny, you know how different your life turns out from what you think it will be.”

“Yeah, it does seem to have a habit of doing that,” He agreed, watching her light expression fade back to the grimmer one she had worn most of the night.

“But, that’s not the only thing keeping you up is it?” He asked sincerely.

“You are frighteningly observant,” She deflected, he gave her a cocky shrug. 

She took a deep breath, her thoughts drifted to the memory from a few nights ago the other half of her reason for being up at this hour, sitting on the floor of her captain’s office sucking on a shrinking peppermint. She wasn’t planning on talking about this to him but, then again, she hadn’t planned on telling him about the baby either. She needed someone to talk to desperately someone besides Jenifer that new Luke the way she did as Luke first and the Chief second, not the other way around.

“I’m worried about Luke, really worried, it's been a week and he’s already going back into work I know it’s just paperwork and a couple of meetings but, I also know him. And he hasn’t been sleeping as he should but, I don’t know how to bring it up not to mention this whole thing,” She gestured to her stomach. “I just I can tell he’s scared and that makes me scared,” She finished not really knowing how to explain why she was feeling this way.  She decided to just tell him about what happened last night.

                                                                              *************

She had woken up suddenly, the room was still dark, and the fan hummed above her. She closed her eyes and rolled over to Lucas but, he wasn’t there. She opened her left eye looking around the room she didn’t see him anywhere, she got up and checked the bathroom he wasn’t there either. She watched as the clock turned from 12:59 to 1 am, she had to be up in a few hours to start her first shift back but, she wouldn’t be able to get back to sleep without knowing where he was. So, she got out of bed and walked quietly through the hall making sure she didn’t wake up Jen and Mike.

Once she turned the corner, she could see the stove light on in the kitchen but, didn’t see Lucas in there or the living room where the kids were sleeping soundly. A burst of anxiety started to rise through her until she looked over the bar counter and saw his wavy blond hair peeking out from behind it. 

“Baby,” she whispered more of a question than a greeting.

He flinched as soon as the word reached his ear. She came closer to squatting quickly. 

“Hey, hey I didn’t mean to scare you,” she calmed.

He looked around almost like he was trying to remember where he was and then it clicked. He grabbed her hand pulling her down towards him. 

“No, no you’re fine. Did I wake you?” He asked his voice tried and choppy.

When he looked at her, her heart snake she could see the red in his eyes a drying trail of water down his check. 

“No, how long have you been up?” 

“Couldn’t sleep, I came in here to get the water and I just got tired, so I sat down,” he explained, a hint of shame in his voice.

It was rare for anyone, even her, to see Lucas like this. Broken. He held her against him tightly like she would float away if he let go. 

“It’s going to take some time Luke, I know you’re ready to get back to work and everything else but, it’s okay to just rest and give your body the time it needs to heal,” she looked up at him. “And I will be here for you as long as it takes, and after,” she promised.

“I just don’t want to disappoint anyone,” he sounded almost childlike.

“You’re not disappointing anyone, you may be the chief, but, you’re not invincible baby,” she said her thumb making small circles on the back of his head.

He looked like he’d aged more in the last week then he had the whole time she’d known him. She brought his head down to her shoulder and she looked around the room, she noticed a cup on the counter laying on its side water dripping off the counter next to it her heart rate spiked slightly with her concern growing.

“My hands were shaking, I'm not used to the medication quite yet and it made them shake, they haven’t done that in a really long time it startled me,” he explained picking up on the question running through her mind. 

She didn’t really know what to say, so she just took both his hands in hers and kissed each of them softly.

“I love you,” she said before kissing his lips.

She broke away from him her hands now on each check.

She gasped over dramatically.

“Lucas Ripley is that a smile?” She questioned trying to keep her own smile from growing out of hand, she hadn’t seen him smile much since he came home from the hospital.

He looked at her, tucking a curly strand of hair behind her ear wiping away a loose tear from her eye she hadn’t even realized was there. 

“I think it is Victoria Hughes,” 

She cocked her head, thinking about the way her name sounded coming out of his mouth, and then her mind drifted to her baby, their baby, for a split second.

“I want to take your name,” she told him suddenly. 

“I know, we haven’t talked about it much with everything going on and it might be confusing at work so maybe we’ll hyphenate or something I don’t know we’ll figure it out but, I want to take your name when we get married.” She explained, finding it hard to keep her volume at a whisper.

He processed her words quickly. 

“Yeah… Yeah, okay,” his small smile grew tenfold. 

“Victoria... Ripley,” He whispered. “I love it.”

Hours later when she woke up to get ready, she found him already awake beside her typing away on his laptop.

“I think I’m going to go in for a meeting or two, on Thursday,” He told her once she sat up.

“Luke are you su-,” She started to ask.

“I’m fine Vic, last night was just a rough night, and it just a couple of meetings,” he assured kissing her on the head and leaving the room. He didn’t mention the encounter again.

                                                                                                                       **********

 She finished telling her captain about that night leaving out a few of the more private details, she saw the concern on his face.

“Luke will pull through,” he said not really knowing what else to say.

“Thank you, captain, I know you were disappointed probably confused when you found out about us but, thank you. I know how much you mean to Lucas and I know it’s hard for you so thank you.”

“Lucas and I are complicated at least our past is. I will admit there were a few different conclusions but, apart from our past and my-,” He searched for a word “Feelings on the situation, I know he’s a good chief and even better man. He’s gone through a lot but, he’s always made it through,” Sullivan comforted. “And you know he’s got something now he didn’t have before,” he added.

“Wisdom?” Vic wondered.

“No… well yes but, he’s got you now Hughes. Like him you are great at your job and an even better person,” His voice changed its tone slightly, like he was talking to a friend, instead of comforting a subordinate “I meant what I said at the hospital, I’ve never seen Luke the way he is with you I honestly never thought I would, you inspire him-,”

“-I don’t want to,” She reviled cutting him off, tears starting to come out of her eyes “I don’t want to inspire him to run into burning or collapsing buildings, you saw the look on Jen’s face at the hospital I was the reason he left Grey Sloan, He might not have even gone into that stupid coffee plant if I wasn’t there in the first place.”

“We both know he would be running into those whether you were there or not Hughes, so don’t ever feel guilty about that, it's just the kind of man he is but, that’s not what I meant. He runs into those buildings to save lives but, you are what gets him out, Vic.”

As soon as her name left his mouth she began to cry, she hadn’t even realized she was feeling guilty but, he was right she was. It was just another emotion mixed up with all the others she had pushed down in the last seven days. It was all starting to bubble up and boil over, she continued to cry, letting the mass of overlapping emotional tension escape from her.

He had known it was a risk letting her come back so early but, she insisted she was fine. He spoke to Ripley and Montgomery as well and they both agreed though, Ripley was somewhat hesitant he sided with her. Whenever she was finished, he would tell her to go lie down and then instruct her to go home whenever she woke up, she needed a good rest after dealing with the emotions she was feeling and not just pushing them down, especially now being pregnant. She was going to need all the rest she could get. But, for now, he just let her cry.

The tears weren’t all happy, or sad each drop seemed to be fueled by a different emotion whichever one happened to be strongest at the moment. She hadn’t even realized she had done it till it was too late to, back out. So, she just sat there on the floor of Captain Robert Sullivan’s office crying, with her head on his shoulder.

And he let her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Lucas sat in his office waiting for Alice Hall the Executive Director of Administration to stop by. She wanted him to issue a statement, so he spent half the day drafting it after finishing some paperwork earlier in the morning. He still hadn’t met with the chiefs and it was already one, he picked up his phone and called Vic.

“Hey,” She answered quietly.

“I’m sorry did I wake you?”

“No, I took a quick nap when I got home but, I’ve been up for an hour or so. You’re calling to tell me you’re going to be late,” She accused.

He hung his head and took a deep breath.

“I’m sorry Vic, there happened to be a little more paperwork then what I thought, then Ramirez was out on a call this morning, so we had to push the meeting back anyway, and now we're doing a press conference Hall, says it will ease the people’s minds to see me on a screen rather than just a picture of a piece of paper,” He told her.

“So, what time then?” She asked he could hear the disappointment in her voice.

“Five, six at the latest,” He answered.

“Okay, we’ll have dinner waiting, Jen said she’s making your moms special pasta.”

“Really?” Lucas asked surprised.

“Why do you sound so surprised?”

“Nothing, it’s just she’s never made that for anyone I’ve been with before, well she made it once for Lauren but, I had to practically beg for it,” He explained, proud of the impression Vic had made on his family.

He asked her how her last shift went and why Sullivan sent her home early. She answered the latter quickly simply stating she had a stomach bug and that it wasn’t anything to be concerned about and then went on to tell him about the rest of her shift. He turned in his chair to face the window listening to her intently. He didn’t hear his door open.

“Jace is picking you up, he’ll probably in Mike’s car Jen’s got a flat earlier,” She told him.

“Okay,” He said she could practically hear him roll his eyes.

“You know you can’t drive till your system gets used to the medication and again I will remind you it has only been a week, give it time baby.”

 “I know sweetheart, I’m trying it’s just aggravating,” He looked at his watch, “I got to go Eggy,” He said not wanting to hang up.

“Okay try not to work too hard, love you.”

“Love you too, bye.”

He hung up the phone and sighed slouching in his chair he spun back around slowly.

“I love you?... Sweetheart?” A familiar and dumbfounded not to mention loud voice asked jolting him from his thoughts.

Frankel.

He almost shot out of his chair, trying to remember if he used Vic’s name. She looked shocked and confused much like Sullivan did when he realized he was seeing someone.

“Fuck, you’re seeing someone.” She declared.

“Don’t you knock?” He asked.

“I haven’t knocked since I’ve met you, who is she?” She asked directing the conversation back onto his mystery women.

“Well, you should start,” He crossed his arms.

She rolled his eyes.

“When do I get to meet her? Wait, how did you meet her?”

She wasn’t backing down, he had to give her answer quickly and one that wouldn’t let her connect the dots to Vic being, well Vic.

“Uh, I’d known her or of her I guess, for a while actually we just recently got together,” He answered hoping it was enough.

Frankel could tell there was something more but, she didn’t push. “So, when do I get to meet her?” She asked again.

Before he had to answer his intercom buzzed.

“Executive Director Hall is here Sir,” His assistant informed him.

“Thank you, Donna, send her in,” He answered standing smoothing out his uniform and straighten up his desk.

“This conversation isn’t over Ripley,” Frankel warned, Lucas rolled his eyes she turned and left.

Executive Director Anne Hall walked in greeting Frankel on her way out. She was a tall woman in her early sixties though, you wouldn’t know it by looking at her. She had light blonde almost white hair, green eyes, and fair skin. Her hair was tied into a neat bun like it always was and she wore a nice trendy pant suite. She would always laugh when someone complimented her wardrobe then proceed to give the credit and praise her kids, who were both currently studying in San Francisco, at one of the top design schools in the country.  

“It’s good to see you chief,” She greeted a smile lighting up her face, she gave him a quick hug, under the circumstances, Ripley found it comforting.

“Thank you, Hall, how are the kids?” He asked motioning for her to sit down in one of the chairs in front of his desk before he went back to sit behind it.

“They are doing well, both still in school Heather just had her baby and Henry met a nice boy so fingers crossed he’ll bring him home soon he hasn’t brought anyone home since he and Patrick broke up,” She answered. 

“I thought you were still hoping he and Patrick would get back together?” He asked remembering the last conversation he had with her.

“Well, I am but, we shall see, he doesn’t seem to think it will happen,” She answered obviously a little upset.

“Anyways,” She began her bright smile returning. “If you have a statement prepared then I will take it and we will have a quick press conference after the chief’s meeting if not we can work on it together before the meeting starts,” she said glancing at her watch.

Ripley unlocked his computer and turned the screen to where she could see it. She took her glasses out of her shirt pocket and began to read the short paragraph.

“Sounds good though, when you actually read it try to sound a bit more excited about Fosters as interim Chief,” She suggested knowingly.

It wasn’t a secret Fosters wasn’t exactly team Ripley, though, he was nowhere near Smith, and still, Smith wasn’t as bad as Ramirez or Donahue, and none of them compared to Price. Which made it an even 50/50, he had three chiefs and two members of the executive team on his side and the same against him.

“I don’t dislike Fosters,” He said.

“Yeah, and I’m twenty-five,” Hall responded with a sarcastic laugh.

“Really, I don’t he does good work and he’s currently the most qualified, I’m just not fond of the other people he tends to align himself with,” Ripley explained in a hopefully convincing manner.

“Well the press conference is right at three so, please make sure you have on a smile.”

“I will make sure of it, and I’ll even throw in a nice handshake.” He said sarcastically.

She just rolled her eyes and stood, they walked out of the office together and headed to the conference room.  

 

                                                                                                                                      *********

“This feels wrong,” Miller stated sitting on Maya and Andy’s couch, next to Travis with Warren on his other side, Jack stood beside the couch looking at the girls in front of them.

“Yeah kind of feels like we're having an intervention for Vic, without Vic or a reason to have an intervention,” Warren observed.

“This isn’t an intervention or the planning of one we are just worried about Vic and want to get your opinions,” Maya told them.

“You mean you’re still freaked out about her relationship with Ripley and are to chicken to ask her about it yourself so you invited the whole team here instead of just Gibson and me so, it would seem like you were actually worried about her,” Travis corrected.

Andy and Maya looked between each other, he wasn't necessarily wrong, though it sounded worse coming from someone else.

“Well yes, that is part of it but, we're mostly worried about Vic, I mean she came back to work like the day after it happened and she hasn’t even mentioned him, plus Sullivan sent her home early this morning. We don’t want to stress her out more by asking her about him,” Andy stated.

“So, you’d rather hold a secret meeting and talk about her behind her back?” Gibson questioned.

“We know it looks bad we just want to check with everyone and see if anyone’s noticed her being off, I mean we didn’t notice when you were going through,” She stopped for a second looking Jack in the eye and searching for a better word. “Your stuff, and we don’t want to miss something like that again, I mean we missed the fact she was even seriously seeing anyone for six months,” Maya finished.

The men exchanged looks, they knew their intentions were mostly genuine they just weren’t going about it the best of ways.

“I talked to her for a while the on her first shift back, she didn’t really mention him but, she herself seemed fine just a little in her head I guess,” Miller stated obviously won over by Bishop's point.

“I asked her if she was getting enough sleep the other day and she said she was, she also mentioned its crowded at her apartment but, Ripley’s family is leaving Sunday so, she should be better after she gets some of her space back,” Travis reported.

“And there’s nothing to worry about when it comes to her and Ripley he is literally wrapped around her finger,” Gibson added.

Though it didn’t seem to ease their minds Travis sighed.

“You both know Vic isn’t like that and neither is he, she and Ripley have a real relationship he didn’t pressure her, and she isn’t using him to get ahead,” He finished now he was starting to get annoyed.

“You both need to take a step back,” Gibson warned also a little annoyed.

“Okay, look we know this probably the best way to address our concerns but, Vic is still our friend and I think we have a right to some explanation.”

“What right do either of you have to an explanation you two were nearly got engaged and now your sleeping with him,” Miller added obviously agitated as well.

“What!?” Warren and Travis asked shocked.

“Sorry,” Dean apologized, more to Gibson then anyone.

“God, you guys are almost as bad as Grey Sloan,” Warren stated shaking his head.

“I’m really the only one not having hot firefighter sex?” Travis questioned mostly to himself.

“Okay, we really don’t have the time to unpack of all this,” Andy gestured between herself, Bishop, and Gibson. “We are here for Vic, Ripley discussion is tabled.”

“Well if Vic owes you an explanation about Ripley you owe us one too, I mean is this going to cause problems?” Warren asked.

“No, we’ve already discussed it if it does one of us will request a transfer before, we let it affect the team,” Bishop said quietly looking at the floor.

The room was quite none of them really knowing what else to say about the matter.

“Next month we all have the same night off and it will only be a week after Ripley goes back to work so it’s likely he won’t be on call. Seven p.m. dinner at the boathouse we bring ourselves your dad can come,” He told Andy. “Hell, even Captain Sullivan I don’t care, then if Vic and Ripley are down we have dinner and we talk it out,” Gibson suggested, the others were impressed.

“Why do you have to offer up our place?” Miller questioned begrudgingly.

“Because it’s cool and I pay rent now,” He answered firmly.

Bishop just rolled her eyes at him Warren and Travis agreed.

“Oh, turn on the news Ripley’s press conference is on,” Travis reminded looking down to his phone.

Andy agreed and reached towards the remote turning on the T.V.

They watched the cameramen set up lights flash and then Alice Hall appeared on the screen. The bat chiefs and executive teams behind her all in their dress uniforms.

“Good afternoon, we are glad to have Fire chief Ripley here with us this afternoon,” She began. “Last week chief Ripley was at the Coffee plant fire I'm sure you are all well aware of by now, he risked his life to save Captain Collins of station 42, Collins was pinned down and trapped inside the plant for almost five minutes when the chief went in to save him they were both trapped for an additional two minutes, however, through his strength and determination the Chief was able to get both captain Collins and himself out,” The room applauded.

“Collins is still recovering at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital and is expected to make a full recovery. The chief was also hospitalized after the incident and went through major surgery from which he will also make a full recovery. He is, here with us tonight so, it is now my pleasure to bring him up,” She turned to her left, with a proud smile. “Chief Ripley.”

As Ripley made his way to the podium the small crowd of reports applauded him as did the other members of the FD behind him, he ended up with standing ovation before he even made it to the mic.

“He looks a little uncomfortable,” Maya observed.

“Hair still looks great though,” Gibson committed.

“God, I know right,” Travis exclaimed.

“Well if Vic and Ripley don’t work out, I’m sure he can take his pick between Gibson or Montgomery,” Warren teased, Miller laughed.

“We can talk about Travis and Jack’s fight for Ripley’s affection later,” Andy hushed eyes glued on the T.V.

The group went quiet again giving the television their undivided attention. The reporters had settled down all back in their seats.

“Thank you,” Ripley began. “I will not take up too much of your time, this afternoon. I want to start by thanking my family who have been with me through this challenging week and the incredible doctors of Seattle Presbyterian and Grey Sloan Memorial, especially Dr. Maggie Peirce and Dr. Levi Schmitt. To the city of Seattle and the members of this department who have stepped up and are going above and beyond to keep this department running smoothly in my absences thank you as well. This department has always served as a second family to me and this week just proves why, you all have not only been there for Captain Collins and I this past week but, continue to so as we both recover. I will be returning as chief when my doctors feel I am mentally and physically ready to resume my duties at my full potential, until then Battalion Chief Matthew Fosters will be serving as interim chief, I have the utmost confidence in his abilities and I know he will perform well and in the best interest of the department in my absence. Chief Fosters.” He finished turning to Fosters who was behind him.

He turned to the slightly older man with a professional expression, he came forward greeting Ripley with a firm handshake. The cameras flashed and the room erupted with questions.

“We will not be taking any questions today,” Fosters began quieting the room. “Thank you, chief Ripley we are very relieved to have you on the road to recovery, and we continue to ask for prayers and well wishes for Captain Collins as well.”

The conference ended shortly after that Andy turned the TV off, and they worked on their plan for the team dinner at the boathouse.

                                                             *******

“Call me when you get in,” Lucas told Jen as he released her from his grip.

“We will, as long as you call me after all your appointments,” She bargained.

“Deal,” He answered giving her another tight hug.

“You’re not invincible big brother,” She reminded quietly against his chest.

“Yeah, I think I’m starting to figure that out,” He joked hint of sadness in his voice.

She let him go sniffling a little bit, she moved back to Vic and gave her a hug.

“I’ll see you soon, future Mrs. Ripley,” She teased.

Vic rolled her eyes but, couldn’t keep her smile from growing on her face.

“Don’t get into too much trouble,” Lucas warned Jen’s kids pulling them into his arms.

“Shouldn’t we be telling you that?” John asked looking between him and Vic.

Lucas slapped him lightly over the head.

“When did you become such a smart ass?” He asked his nephew.

“I believe that was when we let you babysit them for a week, I think he was six at the time,” Mike answered, Jen agreed.

They finished with their goodbyes and hugs and loaded up the two cars. Jessie went with Mike while the boys went with their mother.  Vic and Lucas waved them goodbye, as they pulled out of the parking lot. Still, arm and arm when they came through her front door.

Vic wasn’t expecting to be pushed up against the wall as soon as the front door closed, or Lucas’ hot lips on her neck his hands searching for the waistband of her pants.

She yelped her hands going to his shoulders. She was already breathless.

“Luke, we can’t yet,” She protested.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t hear you,” He replied starting to pull down her pants.

She stopped him this time with a finger under his chin.

“Three more weeks and I promise we can do this on every surface in this apartment but, right now we need to wait.”

He slouched against her letting out a sigh, “Fine but, this is going to need to be covered up,” He instructed gesturing to her entire body.

She laughed and punched him playfully, then the alarm on her phone rang.

“See it was probably good we didn’t do anything anyways I still need to shower before I leave,” She said grabbing her phone off the counter.

He rolled his eyes, “You can join me if you behave yourself,” She offered.

He thought about it for a second then came towards her quickly, throwing her over his shoulder in one quick motion.

“Lucas,” She chastised as he carried her to her bathroom.

He just laughed, trying to hide his heavy breaths.

Her quick pre-work shower ended up turning into a shower of kisses as well, he promised not to do anything that may raise his heart rate or overexert himself, so he simply placed a kiss on almost every inch of her skin promising there would always be more where those came from.

Once she was done washing up, he wrapped his arms around her chest, letting her lean with her back against him, as much as he wanted to be with her, inside of her, he wanted this more, to simply hold her.

"The team wants to have dinner, in a few weeks not now obviously," She informed him, "Travis asked me last night, Us, them, Captains Herrera, and Sullivan."

"Okay," He said not really knowing how to respond. 

"I get it if you don't want to, they will have questions and you might not be at work right now but, you're still the chief I'm not going to force you into a dinner full of your subordinates, you say the word and we don't have to go."

He thought about it for a moment, on one hand, she was right it was strange to spend a night with his subordinates outside of work, and it made things even more complicated when it came to his relationship with 19. But, on the other, this was her family and he knew how much they meant to her a part of him even believed he owed them some sort of explanation. 

"Let's do it," He answered, she didn't open her eyes but, he watched her smile grow "I might not be able to be entirely unguarded considering I still need to maintain a clear and unbiased head when it comes to your station versus others but, they're still you're family." He finished kissing her on the head.

They had kept the shower colder than usual, there wasn't the usual steam so he was able to see them in the mirror. He looked at their reflection in the mirror, her eyes still closed, a content smile on her face, they swayed slightly under the warm water. She was so beautiful, practically glowing. There was something about her, it wasn't that she was off, something was just different he couldn't quite put his finger on it.

“You think you’ll be okay here by yourself till tomorrow?” She asked, drawing his attention from the mirror.

“Yeah, I’ll be fine, I think I might like the peace and quiet,” He answered.

Her phone went off again and she groaned, he kissed her cheek, turned off the water then stepped out of the shower. He dried off quickly went to make her some coffee. As much as he loved having his family here it was nice to finally have space to themselves.

When he returned to the room Vic was standing with her back to him only in her bra and underwear, it was the black lacey set, second only to the maroon one she had in his eyes.

“It's going to be a long three weeks,” He complained leaning against the door frame taking in the view. His view.

She turned to him and her expression softened, she looked him up and down wearing nothing but, a pair of navy-blue boxer briefs, that left little to the imagination. Leaning against her doorway with wet hair still somehow perfect and his tan tone form on full display.

She slipped on the shirt in her hands. “Tell me about it,” She agreed wiggling into her jeans and meeting him at her doorway for the coffee.

“I know we still can’t go anywhere but, tomorrow night we will have a nice dinner and really talk,” she promised

He was concerned for a moment but, then he didn’t have much room to judge thinking about the house key now hidden in his work bag.

“Oh, and Dr. Peirce called me and said that she could get us in earlier for your appointment, so we’ll be up there bright and early.”

“It’s a date,” He said wiggling his eyebrows.

She kissed him softly hoping not to spark something they couldn’t finish and headed out the door with an extra kiss goodbye.  

Chapter Text

                                                                       

Gibson and Hughes made their way to through Grey Sloan heading back to the aid car. Their call was a pretty simple one an older man fell off a ladder trying to clean out his gutters, his wife spent the whole ride to the hospital cycling between “I love you”, “I told you so”, and “the kids aren’t going to be happy with you.”

 They were almost to the door when Vic noticed a young girl standing at the desk talking to one of the doctors she recognized. Dr. Wilson or maybe it was something with a K, she vaguely recalled Warren mentioning something about two doctors that got married recently and she took his name. But she was more focused on the young girl she was talking to, it was Charlie from the diner. Vic’s concern grew this was the second time she had seen her here in the last couple weeks.

The first time she saw her walking out the front door when she and Lucas were here for his first follow up appointment a couple of weeks ago. She didn’t realize who it was until the next day at the diner when Charlie waited on them. Since then it had been weighing on her but, like everything the last few weeks she had just pushed it down. 

 “So, you and future Mr. Hughes still good for our team bounding?” Gibson asked pulling her from her thoughts.

Usually, that would make her laugh or at least roll her eyes but, she just nodded her head and gave him a quite yes, honestly dinner team with captain Herrera, Sullivan, and Lucas was the last thing she wanted to be at right now. Thankfully it was still a week or so away.

He noticed her look back towards the desk a few times before they made it to the door and back to the aid car.

“You know her?” He asked looking at the girl Vic’s eye kept wondering on.

“Uh kind of I saw her here like three weeks ago she works at the dinner we go to,” She explained getting into the aid car.

They started back to the station.

 almost fifteen minutes later Vic hit the steering wheel in frustration.“Okay, this is ridiculous.”

They had barely moved since getting on the road and there was no sign of a wreck ahead of them or any reason why traffic should be moving this slow.

She had been off for the last few shifts worse almost than the week after Ripley’s surgery she was distant, always in her head or actively avoiding sitting still for any longer than five minutes. Gibson had noticed a few things and strung together a theory or two but, wasn’t for sure if he was right, or if that was the only thing bothering her.

“Well, maybe we can use this time for you to tell me what’s bothering you hypothetically of course,” He added trying to lighten the mood.

“I am fine Gibson.”

“You’ve been on aid car for the last four shifts, you’re constantly chewing gum or peppermint and you’ve had to walk out of the beanery on a few occasions when the smell is to… potent,” She knew exactly where he was going with this.

“Just ask what you want to ask Gibson,” She was clearly annoyed.

He backed tracked a little, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have pushed I just wanted to make sure you’re okay.”

“Yeah I am fine, might need to be more subtle but, other than that I’m good.”

“So, you are?”

“I am,” She affirmed.  

“Okay,” He said turning back to face the road.

The traffic was still bumper to bumper but, at least they were moving now.

“Has anyone else noticed?” She asked quickly, avoiding eye contact.

“No one’s told me if they have, does Ripley know?” He asked against his better judgment.

“No,” She let out a dry laugh. “How awful is that I’ve known for three weeks and still haven’t told him,” She shook her head then explained herself “I was going to the night after his family left but, something came up,” Her voice faded a bit at the end.

“So, this thing that came up that’s what’s really bothering you?” He asked cautiously.

She nodded.

He cocked his eyebrow waiting to see if she would elaborate, he didn’t want to push but, he could obviously tell it bothered her enough to push telling Ripley about the baby to the back of her mind.  

“You don’t have to talk to me but, I think you should talk to someone especially if it is keeping you from telling Ripley about the… other stuff,” He advised.

She looked at him, he was right she did need to talk, and she knew first hand that Gibson had a good head for these things. She took a breath.

******

She walked through her apartment door her eyes hung low, sitting or more like dropping her bag down.

“How was the shift?” She heard a voice ask from the living room she smiled immediately.

“Not too bad, pretty slow day actually,” She yawned. “I’m going to nap,” She informed him.

He nodded, “We still on for tonight?” He asked and she could almost hear the excitement in his voice.

“Yeah, if you come to be my pillow.” She answered, grabbing his hand, pulling him off the couch.

She led them back to her bedroom, kicked off her shoes. It was a slow shift but, she was more tired than she realized, something she should probably start getting used to. She looked at him, watched him with tired eyes, he seemed to notice. He let her pull her hair from its braid while he undid her belt and pants, pulling them down and letting her step out of them, he stood back up with them in his hands and folded them while she stalked over to the bed letting herself fall onto the soft sheets. He climbed in after her letting her position them how she wanted he let out a small laugh when she ended up almost completely on top of him.

“I don’t think you should wear a shirt ever again,” She told him sleepily.

“I will keep that in mind,” He replied playing with her hair.

She was fully prepared to tell him when she woke up after they eat their first meal together in what seemed like forever, but right now she needed sleep.

She slept till almost five p.m. waking up to soft lips on hers.

“I thought you’d be hungry, so I went ahead and fixed dinner early,” He told her before she opened her eyes.

She nodded with a yawn he went back into the other room. It took her a little longer than usual to get up thinking about how to tell him. Anexity starting to bubble in her chest. She looked at her reflection beside the size of her breast she was relatively unchanged not that she really expected to have a bump or anything just, yet she found out earlier than most people and was only halfway through the fifth.

She heard her phone buzz on top of the bedside table, grabbed it without looking who it was calling.

“Hello,” She answered.

“Hi, Tori”

As soon as she heard the voice on the other end of the line her stomach dropped. She got up from the bed and shut her door hoping Lucas wouldn’t come looking for her just yet.

“How did you get my number?” She asked anger building inside her.

“Your brother gave it to me,” He answered.

“Since when is he, talking to you or better yet since when are you talking to either of us?”

“Is it a crime to check on my daughter?” She tried not to crush the phone in her hands.

“I think at this point daughter is a loose term,” She bit back.

“I deserved that but, look, I’m in town for while long business trip I was hoping I could see you,” He told her.

She didn’t answer she heard him sigh.

“I will be at the coastal hotel, bars in the back of the lobby, eight o’clock.” He informed her and hung up.

*******

“I was going to tell him that night but, my dad calling just threw me for a loop, we ate dinner and then I told him I was going to get a drink with Travis,” She explained.

Jack really didn’t know what to say other than a comment she made about living in New York at one point, he really didn’t know much about Vic’s life outside of Seattle FD. “Wow, okay I kind of assumed your parents passed since you never mentioned them.”

“for all I know my mom could be its been radio silence since I was three, she was young when she had me even younger with my brother, she just left one day. I don’t even remember her, my dad raised us, and it was fine for a while but, he’s a borderline drunk and a workaholic, Jordan has barely talked to him since he moved out at sixteen. He thinks its dad’s fault our mom left he was almost eight so he actually remembers her, swears up and down she wouldn’t have left unless he gave her a reason to. We don’t talk all that much either we check in every now and then and that’s about it.” She told him.

“I’m sorry Vic, family is complicated no matter what kind you have, so, you didn’t tell Ripley about your father either?”

“No, I’ve seen him twice in the last few weeks and I still can’t decide what I’m going to do, I mean if we stay in contact I’ll eventually have to tell Ripley. What if he wants to come to the wedding and it's not like I’m going to be able to hide this,” She gestured to her stomach. “From anyone that much longer, I just don’t understand why everything had to be so complicated and all that the same fucking time.” The speed in her voice started to pick up.

“ I mean, I propose to Lucas, he almost dies, has major heart surgery, I realize I’m knocked up but, he doesn’t even know it, neither does the department which I  haven’t even let him talk about anything related to HR because I know how stressed he is and he needs all the time he has to  heal. Or at least that's what I keep telling myself because I know if he brings up HR he'll bring up getting married and of course I want to marry him so, then I think maybe we should just go down to the courthouse have a quick afternoon ceremony and call it a day but, every time I think a wedding I think about my dad and why now he had seven years to check on me but, he chose now, right when I’m finally starting to really get my life on the track I want it to be on,” She let out a small frustrated scream, tears fell from her eyes.

“Plus that’s the second time I’ve seen Charlie at the hospital and I feel it in my gut something is wrong but, it’s not like I can do anything because, she’s just a random kid who works at the dinner we go to,” She added through annoyed sniffles.

“Okay Hughes, you need to take a breath,” Gibson instructed.  

He took slow controlled breaths until she started as well.

“I’m sorry Vic, I wish I had better advice but, I don’t- this isn’t a situation I’ve been through.” A nervous laugh escaped him, he looked at her making sure she was still taking deep breaths. “Ripley is a good chief, we know that and the department knows that and you are a great firefighter, so, don’t worry too much about what they will say about your relationship that’s not something you can control, same with whoever this Charlie person is, and if you need some more time to think about your father and the baby take some more your not evil for waiting to tell Ripley until your ready.”

She didn’t look at him, but he could see the tears in her eyes and the smallest hint of a grateful smile on her lips. The rest of the ride back to the station was spent in silence she backed the aid car into the barn and took one more deep breath making sure the tears that had leaked down her eyes weren’t visible to the others.

“You know you are smarter then you look Gibson,” She said as he moved to get out of the car, his hand settled on the door handle.

He turned back to her with a cocky grin. “Don’t tell anyone I’ve got a reputation to uphold,” He joked, and she shook her head.

“Seriously though, thank you, Jack.”

“You’re welcome Vic,” He told her giving her shoulder a quick squeeze, they got out of the aid car.

The team greeted them as the two entered the beanery asking them how the call went. Vic, gave them the rundown while she filled her bowl and sat down with them, inserting herself into whatever conversation they were having before she got there. Miller was eagerly trying to convince Warren that Musicals live would always be better than musicals on film, Vic agreed.

“Hey Warren, do you mind doing me a favor?” Jack asked suddenly.

Warren looked at him suspiciously “What?”

“One of your friends at the hospital Wilson I think, was talking to a young girl petite brown hair. when we were leaving, you think you could ask about her, I know she can’t give out any information but, just ask Wilson if she’s okay,” Gibson requested.

Warren just nodded noticing the nervous look on Vic’s face, it was obvious the request was on Vic’s behalf.

“Yeah I can do that, and its Karev by the way she changed her name,” Warren mentioned.

“I knew it was a K,” Vic stated with pride, she mouthed a silent ‘thank you’ to Gibson when the others turned back to their food.

Jack Gibson was slowly turning into one of her closest friends, which also made her feel guilty about keeping this from Travis, it wasn't that she didn't want to tell him or anyone on the team for that matter, it was really just the fact she wanted to tell Ripley first the other two just happened to figure it out. 

“Are you sure you don’t want to join us I’m sure there’s plenty of food,” She heard Sullivan offer.

The whole table's heads turned waiting to see who he was speaking to.

“No, I’m just going to grab some coffee and I’ll be on my way, I’ve got some paperwork for Ripley I need to get organized before he comes back next week,” The unmistakable voice of Frankel answered.

Vic tried to stifle her laughter when she saw Andy roll her eyes and refrain from audibly groaning.

“Hello, 19,” The chief greeted once she made it to the kitchen.

Met with a chorus of greetings, she turned back to Sullivan, pouring her coffee.

“Speaking of Rip, did you know he was seeing someone?” She asked Sullivan absentmindedly screwing the cap back on her mug.

Half the team almost choked on their food, while the other eyes went wide and darted to Vic, then away from Vic hoping Frankel didn’t see. Vic just kept her eyes glued to the bowl in front of her.

Vic’s face went hot and probably matched the tomato sauce on her plate.

“Did he tell you that?” Sullivan asked shortly.

“I overheard him on the phone when he was at HQ, he hasn’t let me bring it up since,” She answered, Sullivan went to say something but, Frankel interrupted.

“You knew didn’t you,” She accused.

Sullivan searched for an explanation.

“He told me about a little over almost two months ago now,” He told her unable to lie.

Robert Sullivan wasn’t scared of much but, he knew she would be able to tell if he was lying to her and Frankel’s bad side was not somewhere anyone wanted to be.

“I was at the hospital from the moment we got the call and never saw a woman other than the doctor and Jen go into his room but then he’s on the phone saying shit like I love you and sweetheart, I mean if they’re serious why didn’t he tell me?” She asked trying to mask the hurt in her voice.

Sullivan searched for an explanation quickly, the longer he stayed silent the longer she would wonder and possibly start putting the pieces together.

“She was there, actually I called her when he was at Grey Sloan-,”

“I heard he left Grey Sloan, to go chasing after her,” Her eyes were narrow.

Vic felt Miller’s hand on her knee she hadn’t even realized she was moving it rapidly, she looked at him and he took a deep breath waiting for her to do the same, as Jack had done in the aid car, she took a deep breath and then nodded at him to tell him she was okay, for now. Her mental state relied mostly on what was about to come out of Sullivan’s mouth, she looked back to her dinner.

“Yes, he did actually because, when she got to Grey Sloan, they got into an argument I mean you know Rip and his hero complex it's hard on her,” He didn’t really know where he was going with this panic started to rise in his eyes.

“My wife saw her actually, she let her stay in the chief’s office for a moment to cool down and phones died and she was paged for emergency surgery so we didn’t know that’s where she was then the chief freaked out and thought she left so he left to go to her apartment and that’s when he ended up checking into Seattle Pres.” Warren covered “It was just a lot of miscommunication happens all the time at Grey Sloan,” A nervous laugh escaped him. “Well not with patients, of course, everyone there is a more than capable surgeon. I mean I should know I was on a good one too-,”

“Okay Warren thank you, I think Frankel gets it now,” Sullivan said halting Warren’s spiraling rant.  

Frankel turned to the table of nervous firefighters, her eyes still narrow. Her gaze landed on Herrera.

“Did you see her?” She asked the younger women.

“Yes, brunet fairly tall, really nice,” Herrera answered quickly maintaining strong eye contact.

“What about you all?” The chief asked again, looking to the rest of the team.

They mumbled responses.

“Yeah we met her shortly when we saw the Chief after surgery,” Gibson answered over them flashing her his famed Gibson smile the others nodded they nodded in agreement, she shrugged her shoulders, grabbed her coffee cup. She looked satisfied with the answers, preparing to leave but, then something changed in her expression. 

"You really all saw her?" She asked again. 

There was a course of yep's and yes ma'ams from everyone, everyone except Vic.

 “What about you Eggy?” Frankel asked, over the murmurs.

Out of habit, Vic’s head turned towards the battalion chief, without a second thought. 

Her mouth opened to answer then snapped shut, realizing what she had called her.

 Fuck.

Chapter Text

Debora Frankel was not a terribly social woman, she wasn’t all too fond of small talk, or conversation in general, that wasn’t to say she didn’t care about the lives of her coworkers and subordinates. She enjoyed hearing stories about their lives outside of their station but, was always more concerned about what they did inside. Since she became a Battalion Chief, she knew she had to take a step back from the personal side of things she needed to make sure she could stay unbiased and fair which wasn’t always her strong suit.

She wasn’t fond of hospitals either unlike Ripley she only visited the firefighters in her Battalion if they found themselves in the hospital other than that she tended to stay clear, making sure to at least send flowers and a card to members who weren’t in her Battalion. But even if he hadn’t been in her battalion this was Collins and he had always supported her when she applied for lieutenant all the way up to Battalion chief, even after she came out before Ripley was chief and the department wasn’t so strict about verbal harassment.

She stepped into Grey Sloan heading towards Collins’ room. Even at 7:30 in the morning the hospital was busy, people running around left and right the intercom going on and off. She knocked on Collins’ door, opening it once she heard a soft come in.

“The nurse is taking him for a quick walk around the hospital should be back soon,” Collins’ wife Claudia informed Frankel with a smile. She was a tall woman not much shorter then Collins’ himself, even in her early fifties though she didn’t look much older than late thirties.

“I’m sure he’s glad to get some fresh air, how is he doing?”

“Good, ready to be out of this place I think he’s starting to get stir crazy,” She answered.

“I can’t blame him; how are you how are the kids?”

“They’re good they went back to school for finals next week and then they’ll be back for summer. We’re all just very thankful,” She was starting to tear up but, she had a bright smile on her face.

Before Frankel could say anything else the door opened, and Collins’ was pushed through by a young nurse. She moved out of the way and let the nurse help him back on to the bed.

“They seem to think I can’t do anything for myself,” Collins commented once the nurse left.

“Might as well enjoy it while it last, you’ll be back at forty-two before you know it,” Frankel shot back.

He shrugged, “How’ life at HQ with Fosters?” He asked a mocking tone in his voice.

“It could be worse,” She answered trying to sound even.

“Sounds like you’re ready for the golden boy to be back on top,” He laughed.

“That obvious?” She chuckled sitting down, she wasn’t planning on staying long but, she surprisingly enjoyed talking to him, she didn’t get much of a chance to the last few years with her promotion.

“I am,” Claudia stated. “I have always liked that Ripley and this whole situation further proves my theory the man is an angel,” Claudia praised. “And his girlfriend is cute, younger than I expected,” She commented absentmindedly.

“You met her?”

“You know about her?” Collins asked Frankel before his wife could answer.

“I overheard him on the phone with her the other day when he was at HQ,” Frankel answered, “He never even mentioned he was seeing someone.”

“I was surprised too when Claudia came running in here to tell me.”

“What did she look like did you get her name?”

“No, he stopped by about half an hour ago to check on Ron, and visit, he mentioned he had an appointment with Dr. Pierce, I was going for a walk to stretch my legs and saw them walking together he looked all smitten, we’ve known the chief for a long time, I’ve never seen him look like that,” She explained.

“He has seemed a bit different, lately happier almost,” Frankel stated mostly to herself.

“Dumber too, the only reason he ended up at Seattle Pres was that he ran out to go find her,” Claudia added not looking up from her magazine.

Collins’ and Frankel’s exchanged confused glances.

“The nurses know everything,” She shrugged, knowing they were wondering how she found that out.

“Oh so, this the stupid kind of love then,” Collins commented with a chuckle. 

 It didn’t make sense why Ripley wouldn’t even bother to tell her he was in a serious relationship. She considered him a friend Ripley had always told her he felt the same.

“What did she look like?” Frankel asked again.

“Black, light skin, younger then I thought she’d be, I’d say she’s thirty at the most might be why he didn’t tell anyone, though I feel like I’ve seen her somewhere.”

“He didn’t introduce her when he came to see you?” Frankel asked.

Collins shook his head.

A weird almost nervous feeling started to form in her gut, something was off about this whole situation. Before they had the chance to talk about anything else her phone rang, she was called out to a scene.

********

A little over a week later she decided to drop by Ripley’s place she had only been there a couple of times, but she figured he was probably bored out of his mind and wouldn’t mind a visit. Not to mention she was hoping to meet this secret woman. And he was ignoring her texts when she asked about it. She walked up to his apartment door and knocked a little harder then she meant to.

The door opened shortly after, she took a step back, instead of the possibly disheveled Ripley she was expecting she was met with a young woman, for a moment she thought this could be the mysterious girl until she noticed the baby on her hip. The women’s gaze grew increasingly concerned once she noticed Frankel’s uniform.  

“I’m sorry, I think I have the wrong apartment, I’m looking for Lucas Ripley,” She told the women, relief washed through her face.

“He moved a couple of weeks ago, uh I probably shouldn’t but, this seems important, if you want to come in, I have the forwarding address around here somewhere,” She told Frankel, opening the door far enough for her to come in.

Frankel thought about it for a second and then stepped in, figuring the young mother didn’t want to let in all the outside air.

“Sorry we’ve only been in here for about a week and a half, the place is kind of a mess,” She explained heading to the kitchen.

“Oh no worries, do you happen to know why he moved out?” Frankel asked.

“I actually never met him but, my husband did talk to him and his nephew’s I believe. He actually helped him move the last of his stuff out and then they helped move the first load of our stuff in, which was my fault I got the move in dates mixed up,” She laughed, flipping through papers.

“I swear he left the new address around here somewhere,” She said pulling another small bundle of papers from under a fridge magnet. “he’s a firefighter, right?”

“Chief actually,” Frankel corrected, looking around the apartment, boxes were scattered around, and a pile of toys sat in the corner. There was no trace of Ripley.

The women looked at her surprised “Wow, is it weird I feel special for subletting the fire chief’s apartment,” She asked with a shy smirk.

“No,” She assured with a smile, usually she’d be annoyed waiting but, the young woman was kind and obviously had a lot on her plate.

“Oh, found it! I actually did meet his girlfriend briefly, now that I think about it, loved her jeep,” She commented. She pulled out another piece of paper copying it for Frankel.

“She has a jeep?”

“Yeah, bright red reminds me of the one Kev, used to have god, I miss that jeep.” She sighed handed Frankel the piece of paper with a bright smile.

“Thank you, have a good night,” Frankel said.

“No problem, sorry for making you wait so long, and thank you for all you and your department do really,” She thanked opening the door for the older women.

She was about to head to the new address when she realized what time it was, she was supposed to have dinner with Suzanne if she wasn’t on an active scene. So, she got in her car and headed home.

“Suze I’m home,” She called as she entered, the smell of baked chicken filling her nose.

“Ok, it should be ready can you take it out of the oven.”

She sat down her bag and walked towards the kitchen, pulling the chicken out of the oven. She heard footsteps pass to go into the living room.

“Okay I think I’ve got everything but, I still feel like I’m forgetting something.”

“Laptop?” Frankel asked.

Suzanne snapped excitedly, “Yes, thank you,” She disappeared again into the office coming out with her laptop and its charger in hand, placing them in the bag in the coffee table. Then she came into the kitchen to greet Deb.

It wasn’t a very well-known fact Frankel was in a relationship or that she had been for the last twenty years. Suzanne was a shorter woman the same height as Frankel, with short brown hair a few inches longer then buzzed, and brown eyes, she was a bit bigger then Deb but, only by a few pant sizes. They met right out of college and had been together ever since, well besides the short break they took when Suzanne took a year to travel Europe and find herself after Deb decided to go into the academy against her wishes.

“Your flight leaves when again?” She asked after they had sat down to dinner.

“Nine, do you think you can take me or should I just plan on ordering an uber?” She asked.

“I should be able to unless I get called out,” She answered.

Suzanne had a long business trip in Chicago for the next three and a half weeks, the first half was all work and the second was some kind of conference about something or other. As much as Deb loved her, she still could never pay attention long enough to know what she actually did for a living, she knew it was a bunch of big words strung together and she spent half her time in a lab, and the other half teaching and advising grad students.

They spent the rest of the dinner in silence, something unusual for Deb. It wasn’t until they were in the car on the way to the airport she asked about it.

“What’s wrong,” Suze asked her sincerely.

“Nothing, just thinking about things,” She answered.

“Don’t tell me you're still upset over the fact, Rip didn’t tell you about his secret girlfriend,” Suze teased, Deb looked down at her plate.

“Oh my gosh you are,” She tried to stifle her laughter.

Deb rolled her eyes, “I went to his place today before I came here, he moved Suze two weeks ago, and didn’t tell anyone, this is some kind of love-sick teenager shit.”

Suzanne’s expression changed, “Wow he really just moved out?”

“Yup, I met the wife of the couple subletting said her husband told her he moved in with this random woman.”

“Okay, now don’t get mad but, I want to ask if you're actually worried about him, or if you’re just upset because he didn’t tell you?”

She thought about it for a minute keeping her eyes on the road. “Honestly a little bit of both,” She answered.

“Well just give him time maybe he’s just feeling out the relationship, he hasn’t seriously been with someone since Eva and I mean it's not like you told him about us, right away,” She reminded knowing it took Deb almost a whole five years.

“That was different.”

“To an extent, yes but, still just be patient with him he’ll tell you in his own time,” She comforted right as Deb pulled up to her terminal.

“I don’t Suze I just have a weird feeling about it I can feel it in my gut. There’s a bigger reason he’s keeping it/ her hidden,” They both hopped out of the car quickly and grabbed her suitcase and bag out of the car.

“Look you did say, Claudia said she looked quite a bit younger then Rip that’s probably why he knows you’ll have plenty of snide comments if he introduces you to his younger women,” Frankel tried to deny that but, she was right “Or maybe she’s a firefighter,” Suze offered obviously joking.

Frankel let out a chuckle, “Yeah the day Lucas Ripley dates a firefighter is the day I leave you for a man,” Deb remarked shutting the trunk, Suze leaned in for her good-bye kiss.

“Don’t worry about it too much babe, whoever this Eggy person is he’ll introduce you when he’s ready. I’ll call you when I land, love you.”

“Uhg I forgot about the nicknames see it's just weird I mean since when does Rip give out cheesy nicknames.”

Suzanne rolled her eyes and chuckled a little leaning in for one more kiss reminding Deb what was important at the moment. “Sorry, I love you too be safe.”

With that, Suzanne walked into the airport giving her another wave goodbye. She got back into the car quickly and headed towards HQ, that weird nervous feeling still bubbling, the more she tried to shake Suze joke from her head.

*******

The next weeks went by in a blur between Suze being gone, Ripley still on leave, picking up the slack,  and a couple of bad storms that came through she was exhausted. She sifted through the paperwork on her desk she had just gotten back from Grey Sloan with another visit with Collins. He hadn’t said it exactly but, the way he was talking she wouldn’t be surprised if he decided to retire or took up a desk job instead of active duty. Which meant she needed to be prepared with options to replace him as captain of 42. At the moment Lieutenant Schroder was acting as interim captain but, she wanted him at 23, at the beginning of next year their Captain was set to retire.

She looked at her watch briefly forgetting about the chief’s meeting that started in five minutes. She straightened up her desk and headed to the conference room.

“Gentlemen,” She greeted taking her seat. Kicking herself for being the last one there and ignoring the eye rolls from the right side of the room.

They went over the usual stuff, and then the members of the executive team came in the meeting was running a lot longer then what she had excepted though, she wasn’t surprised, they had quite a few firefighters out on medical leave, still including the chief. They had schedules, transfers, and covers to work out not only between stations but, Battalions as well.

“Next week Chief Ripley returns to light duty, so, we will continue with the on-call roster we have now until he is cleared for full duty,” Fosters stated. “I have spoken with chief Ripley and we decided since he isn’t able to be on an active scene for the next six weeks, he will be using this time to visit the stations, as a part of our efforts to make the department more unified.”

“All or just his favorites?” Ramirez commented offhandedly, across from her.

Frankel rolled her eyes immediately. “As if you don’t practically camp at, fifty-three Ramirez,” She shot back.

“I’m just saying if he’s going to visit the stations, he needs to be at all of them equally,” He replied.

“He will be visiting all the stations,” Fosters assured trying to stop the argument before it started.

“Looks like your boy’s branching out Frankel.” Donahue teased.

“Well maybe when you have three out of the top five stations in your Battalion, you’ll see more of him,” She retorted snidely.

 “Okay that’s enough,” Fosters warned but, it didn’t have much of an effect. With Ripley gone the usually controlled order had shifted. He really wasn’t as bad as Frankel thought he would be but, Fosters didn’t really have the knack for keeping the peace as Ripley did. It wasn’t really a secret either that Price and his disciples were constantly in Fosters’ ear.

“What exactly are you trying to say, Ramirez?” Frankel questioned.

Ramirez backed down slightly.

“I’m just saying he spends most of his time outside of HQ and active scenes at forty-two, eighty-eight, or nineteen-,”

The mention of nineteen somehow brought that nervous feeling back, she ignored it trying to shake it off and return to the conversation.

“Eighty-eight and Forty-two are our top stations along with nineteen not to mention Nineteen gets almost twice the number of calls compared to the rest of the stations not to mention its almost in the dead center of the city,” Wilson defended.

 “It was just a harmless comment, now if we’re finished here, I do have work to return to,” Price cut in, making Frankel even angrier.

“Yeah we’re good here,” Fosters stated, and they all stalked out of the room Frankel annoyed.

She walked back into her office tossing the paperwork on her desk into her shoulder bag she needed to be anywhere but, HQ right now, and ironically enough she was planning on stopping by nineteen anyways.

*******

 She was still aggravated when she pulled into a parking spot, at nineteen scrolling through her phone before getting out, Suze’s plane had been early, and she wanted to make sure she made home okay she also wanted to make sure there were no new emails that needed her immediate attention. She was still looking down at it when she opened her door accidentally hitting the car next to her.

“Shit,” She cursed.

Putting her phone in her pocket, she grabbed her bag and shut her door. She turned to the car next to her there wasn’t a dent or scratch, not even a scuff she sighed in relief, standing up straight. Then she realized what kind of car she was looking at a red Jeep. The comment the young women made about Rip’s girl and her red jeep floated through the back of her mind, as did Suze’s joke. That strange nervous feeling still residing in her gut since the meeting grew stronger but, she pushed it down again shook her self out of it and strode into nineteen.

Walking into the station she headed into Sullivan’s office with a hard knock.

“Chief what can I do for you?” He asked.

“I was in the neighborhood was hoping to get your input on something,” She stated entering his office and shutting the door behind her.

“Of course.”

“I was wondering about your opinion on promoting Gibson to Captain of forty-two.”

Sullivan raised his eyebrows.

“This is an informal opinion captain, and Collin’s hasn’t even discussed retirement, but I’ve picked up on some things he’s said, he might not be coming back. I would just like to be prepared, it also wouldn’t be for another six months at the very least, it could be up to seven even, I was just wondering if you feel he could be ready by then,” She said sitting in front of him.

“What about Schroder?”

“I want him at twenty-three when Henderson retires, he has a bit more experience than Gibson, and twenty-three needs some extra help, we recently moved Marks over then to fill the lieutenant position and between him and Schroder we believe we will be able to give the station a boost. I also believe Gibson will be able to keep forty-two running smoothly, Sanders has been at forty two his whole time in the department and isn’t up for a promotion quite yet but, I know he will be happy to help Gibson adjust, he is one of our most capable lieutenant, perfect for a change in leadership, should we need to make one,” She answered.

Sullivan thought about it for a moment. “I think Gibson would make a great Captain but, I also think he needs some more time, a lot can happen in six months that can either get him ready for a place as captain or set him back, and honestly I’d hate to lose him, but Gibson’s a good leader he’d make a good captain, I’ll keep an eye on him and let you know should the position open up.”

“Thank you, captain,” When she stood from her chair he followed. “You wouldn’t happen to have a fresh pot made?” She asked realizing her mug was empty.

Sullivan nodded his head, “Looks like I’m out but, I’m sure we have a pot made in the beanery,” He finished.

They left his office and headed for the beanery, Frankel cleared her throat.

“You wouldn’t also happen to know who drives a red jeep?” She asked.

“I believe that would be Hughes’,” He answered.

“Well I might have lightly tapped it in the parking lot, there’s no damage, just thought I would be polite and let her know,” She told him not missing the smirk growing on his face.

“I’m glad your amused Captain,” She retorted.

“No, I’m laughing at Hughes, she spent a whole shift a few weeks ago complaining about someone scratching her door up at Grey Sloan,” He told her.

“Why was she at Grey Sloan?” She asked quietly Sullivan hadn’t heard her question.

Suddenly she was no longer able to ignore that nervous gut feeling and everything along with it the comment the young mother made about the red jeep, Suzanne’s joke, She even thought back to Collins’ wife and her vague description of the women she saw him with at Grey Sloan. A few weeks ago.

She tried to shale the thoughts from her head there was just no way, every dot she connected just happened to be a coincidence.

It had to be.

She was pulled out of her thoughts when she heard captain Sullivan, ask if she wanted to join them for dinner.

“No, I’m just going to grab some coffee and I’ll be on my way, I’ve got some paperwork for Ripley I need to get organized before he comes back next week,” She answered greeting nineteen.

She was met with a chorus of greetings, she turned back to Sullivan, pouring her coffee.

“Speaking of Rip, did you know he was seeing someone?” She didn’t realize, she had even asked it out loud until she noticed odd tension grow in the room.

 “Did he tell you that?” Sullivan asked her shortly.

“I overheard him on the phone when he was at HQ, he hasn’t let me bring it up since,” She answered, recalling a few phone conversations they had, “You knew didn’t you,” She accused.

Sullivan was obviously looking for an explanation but, fell short “He told me about a little over almost two months ago now,” He told her unable to lie.

 “I was at the hospital from the moment we got the call he was there and never saw a woman other than the doctor and Jen go into his room but then he’s on the phone saying shit like I love you and sweetheart, I mean if they’re serious why didn’t he tell me?” Trying not to sound to hurt.

 “She was there, actually I called her when he was at Grey Sloan-,”

“I heard he left Grey Sloan, to go chasing after her,” Her eyes were narrow.

“Yes, he did actually because, when she got to Grey Sloan, they got into an argument I mean you know Rip and his hero complex it's hard on her.” He answered like he didn’t really know what he was saying.

“My wife saw her actually, she let her stay in the chief’s office for a moment to cool down and then phones died and she was paged for emergency surgery so we didn’t know that’s where she was then the chief freaked out and thought she left so he left to go to her apartment and that’s when he ended up checking into Seattle Pres.” Warren covered “It was just a lot of miscommunication happens all the time at Grey Sloan,” A nervous laugh escaped him. “Well not with patients, of course, everyone there is a more than capable surgeon. I mean I should know I was on a good one too-,”

“Okay Warren thank you, I think Frankel gets it now,” Sullivan interrupted.  

Frankel turned to the table of obviously nervous firefighters, they were obviously hiding something her gaze landed on Herrera.

“Did you see her?” She asked the younger women.

“Yes, brunet fairly tall, really nice,” Herrera answered quickly maintaining strong eye contact.

“What about you all?” She asked looking to the rest of the team.

They mumbled responses, “Yeah we met her shortly when we saw the Chief after surgery,” Gibson answered over them with a smile. The others nodded in agreement.

Reaching for her coffee cup she was about to leave when she took one last look at the table all looking at maintaining strong, borderline overcompensating, eye contact.

"You really all saw her?" She asked again. 

There was a course of yep's and yes ma'ams from everyone, everyone except the youngest one in the only black, light skin, Grey Sloan going, red jeep driving, female in the room.  

 No doubt about it they were hiding something Hughes was hiding something and that gut feeling she was trying to shake for the last three or so weeks was boiling in her gut, she knew exactly what it was. She knew this wasn’t the time or place to be asking this, but, the time for formalities was completely overshadowed by the emotions building up inside anger taking over the question itself came before she could stop it. 

 “What about you Eggy?” She barely managed to keep her voice even.

Her blood boiled as every piece of the puzzle came together in her head. and when she saw Hughes’ head turn in her direction the young women's mouth open then snap shut Frankel had to physically clench her jaw to keep from screaming.

“Where the fuck is, he?” She asked sharply, as quiet as her temper would allow.

“Chief if I could just explain,” Hughes stammered standing.

“You’re benched Hughes, go to the conference room and wait.”

“I don’t think it’s necessarily fair to bench her-,” Sullivan tried to defend.

She stopped him, pulling out her phone furiously.  

 “Well she won't be alone, I’m benching the whole team,”

She heard a course of what’s and no’s, she ignored them, seeing Hughes leave the room from the corner of her eye. 

“This is Frankel yes, I need nineteen’s B team to cover the rest of A teams twenty-four, I will figure out the rest in the morning, thank you,” She hung up turning back to the team.  “With that shit you all just fed me don’t act like you didn’t know, as soon as B team gets here, I want you in the conference room. No one says a word.” She said sternly.

 “Get your ass to nineteen,” She practically yelled into her phone, then hung up.

She couldn’t even say anything, her face red as an engine, blood hot, she turned on her heels and stomped out of the room back to Sullivan’s office with the slam of the door that echoed through the station.

Chapter Text

“You haven’t told her yet?” Jen questioned loudly, causing Lucas to have to pull the phone away from his ear.

“I wanted it to be a surprise, I was going to take her there the night after you all left but, she was distant and… I don’t know off she didn’t seem like she was in the right place so, I waited and now it’s been almost three weeks and I don’t know what to do,” He admitted.

“Yeah, you’re going to have to give me a minute I’m still shocked you bought a house without telling her,” Jen stated.

He hadn’t planned on telling Jen before he told Vic but, he was starting to get nervous about her mood ever since they left. She was working a lot lately, and he was sneaking away to move his stuff out of his storage unit to the house, he decided he would set some of it up before showing it to her, but that was almost two weeks ago now and he was out of boxes to unpack. He had to bring some stuff here as to not look too suspicious.

 “Wait how do you mean weird?” Jen asked.

“I don’t know not weird really just distant, she picked up a couple of extra shifts, says she wanted to enjoy it while she could, maybe she’s still scared she’ll get fired once we talk to HR, but, when she is home she’s always going out to drinks with Montgomery or the team.”

“Luke, she’s not Eva,” Jen comforted quickly knowing his mind was starting to wonder.

“I’m not accusing her of that,” He snapped quickly but, then he stopped for a second.

There was no way Vic would ever do that, it’s Vic.

“I never said you were I’m just saying Vic isn’t Eva in any capacity I mean the only thing they have in common is you, and living in Seattle,” Jen assured.

“I know she’s not Eva she would never do that but, she’s hiding something Jen, I can feel it in my gut,” He told his sister.

A laugh escaped her, “Aren’t you hiding a little something too?” She asked.

He stopped for a second, “I mean yes but, it's different,” He answered matter of factly.

“How so?”

“Well one it’s a surprise, not a secret, and I’ve only kept it a surprise so long because, I want her to be excited when she sees it not actively avoiding the topic of starting our lives together,” he explained.

“So, should I assume that means she still hasn’t mentioned marriage or a wedding either?”

“Not since you all were here, she clams up every time I mention it, I’ve stooped to hiding bridal magazines in my work bag.”

He sighed. “I don’t know Jen maybe she doesn’t really want to get married just yet.”

“Maybe she’s just intimidated I mean this is your third Luke, her first.”

“I know that’s probably what it is, I mean neither of us are too into the big wedding or ceremony thing I would be content to do it in the courthouse tomorrow but, if she doesn’t want to even get married just yet then that’s fine too. Do I wish we could just do it and not have to worry about HR or the department or jobs, yeah I do, I’m tired of being a secret but, I’m willing to be one as long as she is or needs us to be.”

“Well, sounds like you’ve made up your mind either way, just give her sometime Luke, and you should probably tell her about the house sooner rather than later, I mean even if she doesn’t like it she’ll probably be more upset if you keep letting her pay rent,” She joked trying to ease the tension.

Luke let out a small laugh.

“Okay, well I have to go ground my kids for not telling me my crazy love-sick brother bought a house for his girlfriend of six months.”

“Hey, it’s been almost seven now, and I mean technically I did except her proposal so unless she denies it, its fiancé, and don’t blame the kids I swore them to secrecy,” He shot back.

She laughed a little bit.

“Okay well, I will call you later this week and will see you this weekend.”

 “I’ll talk to you later love you.”

“Love you too.”

He let her hang up giving his dinner undivided attention, totally concentrated on the stove in front of him as every good cook/ firefighter chief should be. Until his phone rang again, he picked it up not bothering to look at who was calling.

“Ripley,” he answered evenly.

“Get your ass to nineteen now,” Was all he heard, from Frankel’s familiar and angry sounding voice before the line went dead.

He turned off the burner and moved his food to the ones he hadn’t used. It wasn’t till he got in his truck he realized what could make Frankel so upset that she needed him at nineteen while he was still on medical leave. He got to the station as fast as he could.

 ********

He walked quickly through nineteen avoiding B-shift at all cost, he made it to the conference room without being spotted. He opened the door to find all of Vic’s team and Sullivan sitting around the table with their tail between their legs. Frankel standing with her arms crossed waiting for him, Alice Hall in the chair behind her looking more disappointed then he’d ever seen her.

“Let me explain,” That wasn’t exactly what he was planning on saying first and he knew the second it came out of his mouth it was the wrong thing to say.

Frankel took a wide step towards him, “Let you explain?” You’re screwing her, and convinced this entire room to keep it a secret for,”

“Chief Ripley never asked or pressured us into keeping their relationship a secret,” Herrera spoke up.

Frankel shot her a look that made the younger firefighter hang her head.

She is the second most junior firefighter in this entire station not to mention the youngest, she hasn’t been even been here three full years,” Frankel reminded harshly.

“I am well aware of her status at this department.”

“I’m sure you are, You were captain here for six weeks.” Her accusation was clear.

“Nothing happened between us while I was captain, we’ve only been together for seven months,”

Frankel made a few calculations in her head, “So, after the aid car incident you pulled Herrera out of retirement because you couldn’t keep it in your pants.”

“I pulled him out because, he was our best option,” Ripley defended.

Frankel shook her head “Everything you have done at this station in the last eight months- hell since you shook her hand at graduation-, will come into question. Everything.”

“Hughes is a valuable member of this department."

“And you’re the fucking chief of this department, you don’t get to go around having your midlife crisis with one of my firefighters,” Her voice was rising.

“This is not some midlife crisis, I have done nothing but, support you and you won’t even listen to me.” His voice matched hers.

“Don’t you dare pull the support card on me, my big secret was I liked women, not that I was sticking my dick in a subordinate.”

Gibson’s eyes went wide as he found the rest of the crews minus Vic’s none of them really knew what to do.

She kept going before he had a chance to respond down “You are the best chief we have seen in years, and I know Hughes is a good firefighter but, this,” she gestured between the two of them “This is it, you’ll just be another white man in power who took advantage of his position or fell for her scheme. Everything she’s done, received, accomplished it’s all going to be acquainted with you and your status she’ll get nothing, no one’s going to ask about her skill level or leadership qualities the only thing they will be concerned about is who’s on top.” She didn’t have to yell to get her point across, everyone on the team watched the two chief’s and Vic from behind, they could’ve heard a pin drop from halfway across the station.

“He is though I usually give the orders,” Hughes spoke dryly.

Miller’s mouth dropped, he had to pat Montgomery on the back in order to keep him from choking.

A very fed up Hughes took a step towards Frankel, standing a few inches above the battalion chief.

 “You said it yourself I’m an unranked firefighter he’s the chief people are going to wonder how little ol’ me managed to bag the chief or how he convinced me to let him ‘stick his dick in me’, they will say what they want, come up with their own so let them they can say whatever the hell they want but, while they’re busy contemplating over a sex life they could never live up to, we will be doing our job just like we have for the last seven months, and building a life together we aren’t going anywhere so you might as well take the stick out of your-,”

“I am still your superior Hughes,” Frankel warned loudly.  

“And I’m still yours,” Ripley counter, Frankel’s face flashed with anger.

“All right that is enough, we have talked too much about this as it is,” Hall interjected, an argument like this between Frankel and Ripley could level the city.

 “Tomorrow I will need all of you to report to HQ 0800, do not speak upon this matter until then,” Hall ordered Frankel turned on her heels before saying anything else and left the room with a huff, Hall close on her tail.

 “Bitch,” Hughes huffed under her breath as soon as the door shut.

“Vic,” Lucas scolded, he was mad at Frankel to, but she still shouldn’t be talking about a superior officer like that in front of others.

“No, she acted like a child, coming to the beanery and asking us questions, she obviously already knew the answer to. What gives her the right to act like that and then call us unprofessional.”

Sullivan watched as Ripley shook his head at Hughes, they were both heated, displaying it in different fashions, she was starting to pace again, and he was stone-faced arms still crossed.

“Go home,” He instructed, “You need to cool down, so go ahead and head home and I’ll get your stuff,” He told her.

She stopped pacing “No it's fine, I can get my stuff-,”

“Just go home, I’ll be right behind you,”

She gave up easier then Sullivan expected her to with a quick shrug she turned back to the rest of them.

“Apologizing isn’t going to change anything Hughes, we made our choice,” He reminded her before she could speak.

Andy noted that he had been somewhat different with Hughes lately, almost soft friendly.

“Yeah, okay,” She scratched her head.

“Come on I’ll walk you out,” Travis offered, noticing the slight shift in her mood she had gone from a pissed off badass to looking like she was about to cry from exhaustion in a matter of seconds.

He wrapped on arm over her shoulders and they walked out the door together, Sullivan didn’t miss the thankful look Ripley gave him. The rest of the crew followed as well leaving him and Ripley alone in the room.

His old friend slumped down into the nearest chair, “I’m sorry Sully,” He apologized.

“I know you heard what I said to Hughes.”

“And I just want to make sure you know I’m sorry about this,” He let out a dry laugh much like the one Hughes had the night she spent on his office floor, they were starting to make more and more sense. “It was never supposed to be this complicated.”

“Oh come on Luke you know who you are and who she is, you knew how complicated this would be you just didn’t care,” Sullivan retorted.

“You’re probably right,” He answered with a slight smile.

Sullivan scoffed “I know I’m right you’ve been a little bit in love with her since before I got here,” He stood up and Ripley followed a confused expression on his face.

“I didn’t think much of it then but, looking back on it I should have known from the moment you said her name, I told you, you still have the same tells,” Ripley was obviously still confused Sullivan couldn’t help the small chuckle that escaped his lips. “The meeting we had, after I agreed to come back, we spoke for an hour and you spent twenty minutes of it talking about Hughes, at one point I asked you specifically about Herrera and Gibson and the first thing out of your mouth was ‘They’re good but, neither are ready contrary to what Hughes might believe.’ Those six weeks you were captain here, must have been torture.” Sullivan finished with a tease.

 Ripley couldn’t think of anything to say, and even if he had they both knew he was right but still, verbally admitting he had feelings for Vic while he was her acting captain, no matter how small or insignificant they were, was a dangerous road.

“I better go get her stuff and make sure she’s actually on her way home and not attempting to jump out of the window,” He joked changing the subject and heading for the door.

“Yeah I’ve heard two-story falls aren’t great for the ba-,” Sullivan stopped himself, he knew Hughes still hadn’t told him about the baby, every time he’d ask, she’d just start tearing up and ask her to give him a bit more time, before filling the paperwork. “Relationship,” He covered quickly.

Ripley didn’t seem to notice the slip, they exited the room together in silence splitting up when he headed to his office and Ripley to the lockers.

This station was making him soft.

Lucas found Vic at her locker, putting her stuff in her bag, “I thought you were going to go home,” He stated quietly. The others pretending like they weren’t eavesdropping.

“I was and thank you for the offer I just wanted to make sure I had everything, I feel better when I do it,” She told him with a forced smile.

“Okay, I’ll see you there then, do you want me to wait?”

“No go ahead I’ll be right behind you,” She answered.

He wanted to kiss her goodbye, at least squeeze her hand but, even if her team wasn’t standing at their own respected lockers there was still the chance of someone, from B-shift walking in, so he just said okay and left before anyone else noticed he was there.

*****

Lucas waited patiently for Vic to get home, practically jumping out of his chair when the door opened.

“Have you eaten?” He asked she nodded her head.

“Yes, thank god my last meal was Pruitt Herrera’s cooking and not my own,” She commented setting her stuff down and walking over to him. She planted herself in his lap and started kissing his neck.

“What are you doing?” He asked not really minding it.

“Distracting myself,” She replied, pulling his shirt off.

She ended up face to face with his scar, she slumped in his lap, realizing he still hadn’t been cleared for strenuous activity, she remembered the suggestive look Dr. Pierce had given both of them when she reiterated that instruction at his last appointment.

“I’m sorry Eggy,” He said she could see the aggravation in his eyes.

“Hey, it’s okay, I am fine,” She assured him.

“It’s been four weeks, and for all, we know it could be four more, and I know how stressed you are-,”

“Are you saying I need to get laid?”

He rolled his eyes “I’m saying you deserve to be taken care of.”

With that, he tapped her leg and she climbed off of him, he got up and grabbed her hand leading her back to the bedroom, then went to pull something out of her drawer he placed her vibrator in her hand.

“Luke, no I’m fine,” she said.

When it came to sex he was more than a generous lover, half the time he’d rather get her off then get off himself but, this was different and not something she had ever done in front of someone else especially when there was nothing she would be able to do for him.

“It’s okay, Vic, take care of yourself,” He told her unbuttoning her pants.

She reached for her waistband to pull them down, he walked around the room lighting the few candles she had, turned on the lamp, and the lights off, she sat down on the bed scooting till she was against the headboard, he kissed her on the head.

“I’ll be outside,” he told her and went to leave the room.

“Wait,” she called, “can you hold me,” her face went a little red “I want you and it’s okay I can’t have you right now so please, don’t feel bad about that but, you make things better and I want you here, plus-,”

She couldn’t finish, “Yeah where do you want me?” He asked quietly.

She sat up slightly moving down the bed giving him enough room to sit in between her and the headboard she was between his legs. She spread hers apart feet planted firmly on the mattress knees in the air almost parallel to her shoulders.

“Is this okay?” He asked.

His hands resting where her hips met her legs.

She nodded.

“Relax baby,” he whispered kissing her head.

One hand stayed where it was while the other started rubbing up and down her bare thigh, it’s seemed to help her so he continued.

She nodded again.

Vic wasn’t shy about most things and she was sure other men she had been with knew she used a vibrated during her single spells when they weren’t up to par, or she just needed a release but, she never said it out loud let alone used it in front of them. She had always wanted that to be her thing something she didn’t share with them but, Lucas was different he had always been and having him there made her feel better made it better. She wanted to make sure he knew it too, especially with him being out of commission at the moment.

“This doesn’t compare to you,” she said leaning back resting her head on his shoulder.

He just kissed the corner of her mouth, with that almost dopey smile of his.

“Hey, everything else is tomorrow’s problem, just let yourself relax,” he instructed again. “It’s just you and me,”

She inserted the piece into herself turning it on, her eyes closed again leaning back against his shoulder.

Feeling his hand go up and down one thigh while the other rested where her leg meets her torsos thumb running soft circles.

She knew he couldn’t do much but, she wanted his touch on her, so she slowly brought the hand closer to hers, he shifted a little bit, she started rocking and he moved along with her as best he could.

At one point she let him take control, her hand simply resting on top of his, to be a guide if he needed it, she should’ve known he wouldn’t the man literally anticipate every one of her needs.

She came with a pleasure filled groan, burying her face in his neck.

He let her ride it out leaving the vibrator on, he knew she would tell him if she wanted it off.

“More,” she said breathlessly, he pulled it out of her slightly then pushed it back in.

A small smile formed at the corner of her mouth her eyes still closed. He couldn’t help himself, he dipped his head down and started sucking on a spot on her neck biting lightly, she sat up a little bit straighter making it easier for him.

She came again quicker this time with a roll of her head against his shoulder and a squeeze of his thigh, she turned it off and let him pull it out, still finishing with his spot on her neck. Her eyes were still closed when he was through, she closed her legs catching her breath.

“Better?” He asked.

She nodded her head, her hands reached for his hair she brought his lips to hers, turning her body till both her legs draped over one of his. 

They sat there for a while she composed herself, lazy kisses finding their ways to necks, checks, and lips.

After she was ready, they decided to clean up he blew out all the candles put a new pair of sheets on the bed while she threw the others in the washer. He looked at the clock it was barely past ten they were in bed by ten thirty curled around each other.

******

He woke up sometime later, looking at the clock, he didn’t even have to look at her to know Vic was awake he could practically hear her mind racing beside him. He rolled over pulling her closer to him.

“Tomorrow’s problem,” He reminded pulling her closer.

“It is tomorrow,” She told him.

“Okay, then it’s the morning’s problem.”

This time she rolled over, they were face to face “Seriously Luke, what are we going to do?”

“I mean it's not just us anymore we got my whole team and Sullivan mixed up in all of this,”

“Honestly I don’t know, tomorrow they’ll interview us and we’ll just have to wait and see. If it comes down to it I’m prepared to step down,”

“Luke,”

“I know you don’t like it Vic but, I will be okay with it there will be other jobs this us is more important than any of that,”

He could tell this wasn’t helping the more she thought about the more worried she would become. He got an idea.

“Come on,” he said tossing the covers off him and going to grab a shirt. She sat up.

“It's one a.m. Hubby,” She reminded rubbing her eyes.

“I know, but, laying here spiraling isn’t going to help you,” He told her.

“Okay, where are we going?” She asked.

“It’s a surprise,” He said with a wiggle of his eyebrow.

It took her a minute to adjust but, she eventually got up tossing on one of his sweaters and her fuzzy boots opting to just brave the cold in her shorts. It was almost a twenty-minute drive to wherever they were going. About halfway through he instructed her to close her eyes tying one of his work ties over her for good measure, in most scenarios, she would be turned on but for now, she was more curious than anything else.

“Are you going to at least give me a clue as to where we’re going?”

“Just relax Eggy will be there soon,” He told her grabbing her hand.

“Oh my gosh, are you Batman?” She asked.

He chuckled glad to see that her mood had improved somewhat.

She tried her best not to think about what would happen in the morning, her dad, Charlie, Lucas’ health, the baby anything and everything that had happened in the last month she just needed a breather from all of it, and she had a sneaky suspicion it was about to get even worse.

Everything was just going to keep pilling up, and up. It looked like her dad was going to stick around for a while which meant at some point she needed to tell him about Lucas, and then she also needed to tell her brother to, they’d talked off and on throughout the last few months but, she just never told him. Her family had a habit of running good things in her life or tainting them at least. She also had to tell Luke about the baby, before all of Seattle figured it out.

 At first she didn’t tell him because he was in the hospital and needed to focus on his health, then it was because, her dad coming back messed her up and she was scared how he’d react, now she was scared he would be mad she waited so long to tell him, not to mention he was stressed and now they had to deal with being caught instead of coming clean to the department themselves.

It was all a very vicious cycle. One that was driving her crazy, she had even decided to pick up extra shifts in an effort to keep her mind off things.

She flinched when she heard a door shut, it took her a second to realize the truck had been turned off and it was Luke’s door. The cold air against her legs woke her up more then anything, when he opened her door and led her out of the truck then led her by the shoulders. She could tell they were outside the city, the traffic muffled. She smelt the faintest hint of salt but, the wind was blowing away from her she couldn’t quite tell if she was right, she did smell fairly fresh cut grass.

“Okay, stand right there,” He told her guiding her by the shoulders.

“Yes sir,” She responded mockingly.

She could practically hear his eyeroll, he caught the corner of her lips with his causing her to smile.

“Okay hubby, the suspense is starting to get to me,” She told him.

“Just one more thing,” His voice was softer.

Then he placed something in her hand, she squeezed it, jagged edges in her hand. It didn’t take her long to realize it was a key her head tilted with a question. Before she could ask or guess what it went to the blindfold was off, and Lucas was standing in front of a house.

It didn't take her long to realize what this was and that the key in her hand went to the big wooden door in front of her. 

She was speechless.

Chapter Text

“They’re really about to be late to their own meeting?” Sullivan questioned annoyed.

The rest of the team exchanged glances, Sullivan hadn’t spoken since they’d arrived at HQ, he, Bishop and Hearrea had arrived first to no one's surprise, then it was Montgomery, Gibson, and Miller, and then Warren last. He had expected Ripley and Hughes to be here first.

He was about to, pull out his phone and call Ripley when the couple in question walked through the door, looking tired and… what he could only describe as blissful.

“Nineteen, Sully,” Ripley greeted as he pulled out Hughes’ chair.

The room was tense, which he expected but, Sully seemed a bit more upset than the rest.

“You really trying to push your luck?” He accused and they looked at him.

“Sorry, the drive over here was longer than expected and we had to stop at mine to change clothes,” Vic said absentmindedly.

“Where did you sleep?” Montgomery asked curiously.

“Well-,”

“Wait I don’t want to hear this if it’s some kinky shit,” Miller interrupted quickly, he then realized who he was talking about and started to sink down in his chair as the chief was starting to turn bright red.

  ******

Vic was still speechless the cool wind made goosebumps form on her legs as Lucas carried her over the threshold of this house.

“We’ve done a lot of things backward so, I want to make sure we do something ‘right,’” He told her setting her down on the kitchen counter.

She looked around at the dark and mostly empty house noticing a few boxes scattered around, now that weird feeling she had he was hiding something was starting to make sense.

“How? When?” She asked trying to string a coherent sentence together.

“I’ve been busy the last few weeks, there’s only so much the chief can do from his couch when everyone’s on strict to orders to ‘let him heal’.”

“But- Luke, I mean how the money-,”

“Hey, don’t worry about the money, I’ve spent the last fifteen years saving up the majority of my salary, plus, we were a little more then comfortable growing up and when my parents died we each had a sum of money my mom separated, from the other stuff, it was to cover houses, kids, colleges she called it our ‘picket fence funds’ I didn’t have accesses to it when I was married to Laura and it just never felt right to spend it on Eva, so I just saved it, and invested some here and there,” He explained.

“Are you telling me you’re rich Lucas Ripley?”

He laughed, “No, I’m just telling you-,”

“You bought me a house,” She almost yelled.

“I bought us a house but, yes you were the reason for doing so,” He looked her in the eyes trying to gauge her reaction.

 The shock was about all he could get from her, as he followed her eyes around the room.

Vic looked around her it was somewhat hard to see with no lights and the moon being mostly covered outside by the thick clouds but, she could see the outline of the room, it was an older house that seemed to have been remodeled into a mostly open concept, though it still had a warm and strangely homey feeling, the room to the left of the front door was the dining room she could see a small hallway behind her that connected it to the kitchen, then the stairs. From her spot on the counter, she could see a dark hallway, on the other side of the kitchen and a small little breakfast nook, the living room stretched out in front of her, a big stone fireplace met her gaze. She could also see the outline of a covered patio from the French doors in the center of the outside wall, leading to the back yard.

“The sales not final yet so if it’s too much we can back out,” Lucas offered, pulling her from her thoughts.

“No, no it’s just its- I just wasn’t expecting it,” The last part of her statement faltered slightly, and her hands found her stomach.

It was hard to see his face in the darkness but, she could tell he was smiling.

“There are two bedrooms down here, ours and then a guest bedroom, three bedrooms upstairs, and the spare down here just so happens to be the perfect size for a work out room-,” the excitement was returning to his face. “-or a library-,”

“Or a super-secret spy lair,” Vic chimed in, “Show it to me,” She told him.

He grabbed her by the hips and helped her hop off the counter leading her to the hallway that held the bedrooms.

“That’s the master,” He told her pointing to the other end of the hall, then he opened the door to the bedroom she requested to see. She stepped inside looking around, he still couldn’t see her face all that well, but, he could see both her hands resting on her stomach.

He took a step in “So, what do you think, guest bedroom, home gym, library, or super-secret spy lair?” He asked her.

She shrugged, turning to face him, “I have one more idea,” She said, now she was the one who sounded nervous, and increasingly serious.

“I was certain you’d pick spy lair,” He teased.

“It was a close second, but, I think a nursery might be more practical,” She told him quickly, unable to stop herself from blurting out the words, and taking a step toward him.

“A nursery?” He asked looking down at the floor, and then back at her quickly, his eyebrows creased.

“I’m pregnant Lucas.”

                                                                        *******

 

“Ignore him they had a rough night,” Andy defended.

Vic raised her eyebrow at her but, the lieutenant just shook her head, a silent warning not to push, she didn’t look so hot either, and neither did Bishop who was beside her. She examined Bishop for a second, it seemed like she was avoiding eye contact with Miller, and Gibson for that matter.

“We weren’t at my apartment because, we were at a house, our house,” Vic announced awkwardly and somewhat proudly.

Everyone grew wider, at her revelation, Ripley's face was red again. 

“So, that’s why you’re both so calm. don’t mind us fearing for our jobs, you get to go back to your cushy new house and all your hearts and rainbows-,”

“Woah okay, you want to try that again?” Vic asked crossing her arms, glaring at an angsty looking Travis.

“He had a rough night too,” Gibson added quietly.

  *****

“This is going to be bad isn’t it?” Bishop asked pacing in the boathouse.

“I thought we’d agreed we weren’t going to talk about it?” Gibson questioned handing her another beer.

“I mean yes, we did but, come on guys the way Frankel just charged in there and what Vic said to her I mean I’m surprised she didn’t reprimand her on the spot for speaking to a superior that way,” Andy added taking a sip.

“Could she though, I mean Vic has the actual chief in her corner and not just that like its their corner, they share the corner, they are the corner,” Maya rambled she was already slightly tipsy.

Travis looked at her with narrowed eyes trying to figure out exactly what she was trying to say, everyone else seemed to get it.

“Speaking of Vic has she seemed weird to you guys?” Miller asked lying on the floor, also tipsy.

In fact, the entire group was toeing the line, Warren went home to be with his family but, the rest felt strange and all agreed to go out for drinks though no one was really feeling the bar scene the weight of their careers’ possible impending doom was a bit of a mood killer. To Miller’s annoyance Gibson offered the boathouse, he was glad to have the company once they arrived, though, he wouldn’t admit it.

 “I mean her secret chief finance almost died a few weeks ago, what exactly do you mean weird?”

“He’s right, she has been a little off, distant almost but, I don’t know she hasn’t said anything to me, but, then again I haven’t really talked to her since Ripley got out of the hospital she’s dealing with a lot,” Travis told the,

Jack took a long swig of his beer to keep himself from making a remark about how much Vic was really going through, he was surprised to learn she hadn’t told Travis about her father or the pregnancy, but, he didn’t want to face her wrath for spilling the beans. So, he stalked back over to the fridge to get another round.

“We’re out of beer,” He called and the group let out a collective groan just as Miller’s and Motogmomery’s phones rang.

Miller stepped into his room to take his call while Travis got up slowly to take his on the deck.

“You going to get it?” Maya asked him.

“Yeah, it’s, it’s just it’s Grant,” He hadn't spoken to him since the breakup, he shook it off and stepped outside to take the call before he missed it.

“Problem solved crew Nikki is on her way over and agreed to pick up extra beer,” They cheered.

“We finally get to meet her?” Bishop asked excitedly.

Miller sighed, “Yes, but, don’t be weird,” He said matter of factly.

Andy and Maya rolled their eyes and got up from the couch picking up their empty bottles. They all talked around the counter avoiding the subject of Vic and the chief. After a few mintues, there was a knock on the door just as Bishop opened her mouth to say something.

“Okay, everyone be cool, or no more houseboat,” he threatened, running quickly to the door.

They all shook their heads in amusement and went back to their own conversation letting him have his moment.

“All right gang… well, most of the gang I would like you to meet-,”

“Nicole?” Maya interrupted.

Everyone perked up.

“Maya, oh my god.”

“Nicole?” Dean questioned shooting Jack a concerned look.

“You two know each other?” He asked. The womens' eyes were still locked onto each other.

“Uh, yeah she is, we-, she’s my ex,” Nikki answered.

Before anyone could say anything Travis stalked back in from the deck his eyes rimmed with red.

“You okay?” Maya asked him.

“Uh, yeah I’m fine,” He answered walking to the counter.

“What did he say?”

He placed his phone on the counter, looking around for some form of alcohol.

“Uh, he’s engaged,” he told the group.

“I thought he wasn’t into the whole marriage thing,” Miller commented softly.

“You know I don’t really want to talk about it,” He deflected,

“I think we should go,” Maya stated quickly finally pulling her eyes from Nicole and turning to Andy who was already ordering an Uber.

   *****

 “I’m sorry I’m just I don’t even know, Grant called me last night to tell me he’s engaged,” Travis explained looking at the ground.

“Wait, I thought Grant wasn’t into the whole marriage thing?”

“Yeah well, neither were you,” He reminded, in a harsher tone then she expected.

  *****

Lucas looked like he was about to pass out trying to process what she was saying.

“You’re wha- pregnant?” Her hand was still resting on his cheek.

“Yeah baby, I am,” Her expression changed quickly “And I’m sorry,” She started to apologize.

 He started shaking his head and to took her hand from his cheek to hold it. “Wait wait, why are you sorry?” He asked.

“Because, I’ve known since you were in the hospital, and I should have told you weeks ago but, I got scared and I was going to tell you that night after Jen and Mike left but, then my dad called me and he’s still in town and I still have no clue what he wants or why he’s back and I don’t know it just messed with my head. Plus you were healing and I didn’t want to put any extra stress on you and now Sullivan and Gibson both know and what kind of person does that-,”

“Woah Woah, slow down Vic,” He instructed once again trying to process all of the information he was being given in this short amount of time. “It’s okay you’re telling me now,” He comforted, though it somewhat stung he wasn’t the first to know.

“It's okay if you’re mad Luke,” She said feeling like he was just trying to make her feel better.

“I’m not mad. Confused, surprised, maybe a little bit terrified yes but, I’m not mad,” He assured her walking closer to her.

He saw the quick rise and fall of her chest, and he knew what was coming if she didn’t take some long deep breath.

“Here come here,” He said, taking her hand, he led her out of the room and to the master bedroom, where the bed from his apartment was already set up.

She climbed silently still breathing quickly. He held her again, as she cried.

“I’m scared Luke, about tomorrow, about this baby, my dad I can’t do this it's too much, I almost lost you, Luke, I can’t do this without you,” She spoke through tears.

He pulled her up slightly, till they were face to face, grabbing one of her hands he placed it on his beating heart.

“I’m here Eggy, I’m here and I’m not going anywhere for a long long time,” He promised her. “I love you, Victoria Hughes, okay I have you,” He said moving a piece of hair out of her face.

They were silent for a while he let her cry against his chest. 

She let out a soft laugh through her tears “I think we should go ahead and lay all our cards on the table, I don’t think either of us can take any more surprises,” She chuckled and he agreed.

“Well, I bought my beautiful, amazing, Eggy the house I picked out for myself almost fifteen years ago… I’ll tell you that story later, anyways I have also been secretly moving in some of my stuff because, I wanted to have most of it set up before you saw it but, I think this was a better idea.”

“Okay, I’ve been meeting up with my absent father for the last few weeks, under the gise of drinks with Trav, the girls, or the team. Also, I am almost eight weeks pregnant with your child,” She smiled at the last part realizing that when she told him she was pregnant it was the first time she had actually said the word out loud.

“Is that why you want to take my name?” He asked.

“No, well yes, I do want to have the same last name as our baby but, that’s not the only reason Luke, you are I want to have your last name,”

“We can hyphenate,” He offered.

“I don’t know if I want to do that, honestly I’m a badass in my own right you know that I know that, my name isn’t going to change that. I want to be all Ripley all the time baby, I worked for my cake,” She teased a few stray tears falling down her cheeks.

She bent down to kiss him, he kissed her back. Until she started laughing.

“Oh I’m sorry am I amusing you?” He asked, out-breath from a simple kiss.

“No, I would just hate to be a member of the Seattle FD HR department right now,” She giggled finding humor in their very serious situation.

“And why’s that?” He asked playing along.

Vic cocked her head “Oh you haven’t heard, our golden boy chief bought a house for the young female firefighter he knocked up,” They both laughed.

“Well the version I heard was much more romantic,” He retorted voice low. He could see a smile form at the corner of her lips inviting him to say more.

“See what really happened was the chief, met this woman, who really liked to yell at him even though he was her-,”

“Boss’s boss’s boss” Vic added for him starting to run her hands through her hair.

“Exactly, but, once he got to know her he realized she wasn’t just any cocky, young firefighter, no she was smart, gorgeous as hell, funny, amazing, and he fell in love with her, unknowingly put a baby in her, accepted her ever so romantic aid car proposal, bought her house, and he really can’t wait to spend the rest of his life with her.”

He barely had time to finish before she was kissing him again, he could taste the salt from her tears on his lips, and when they separated he whipped the rest away, she settled back against his chest where she could hear his heartbeat echo in her ear, she fell asleep shortly after that. Lucas found himself unable to sleep his hand resting firmly on her stomach, the entire night.

He made a mental note to ask her about her father when she seemed in better spirits it was obviously weighing on her, Vic rarely talked about her father and he knew she hadn't spoken to him in years but, most of his thoughts were occupied by the baby, their baby.

 ******

So, where is this house?” Warren asked breaking the silence and trying to break some of the tension.

Ripley told them where it was and they all nodded, it wasn’t until Hughes described it, briefly that he realized he’d been there before fifteen years ago. He peeled his eyes from the door to his old friend.

“I’ll be damned, you actually got it?” He said everyone in the room perked up with question.

Ripley shrugged “It only took me fifteen years but, hey who’s counting,” He answered his friend.

******

“Where are we going exactly?” Bobby asked his friend for the fourth time.

“I told you, I want to show you something,” Luke answered with a cocky smile.

Robert just rolled his eyes, wondering what had gotten into his friend, he’d been stiff lately since Smith approached him about applying for captain.

“Let him live Bobby he’s obviously excited,” Claire chimed in from the back seat, giving her husband a cheeky grin.

“She’s always been my favorite,” Lucas, teased.

They arrived at their apparent destination, a few minutes later.

“We are at a house,” Claire announced confused as the car came to a stop, she noticed the for sale sign in the corner of the lot and her confusion shifted to concern.   

“It appears so,” Robert, sighed also confused and concerned.

Lucas had jumped out of the car, waiting for the couple to follow him, and was already halfway to the door before they caught up.

 “He’s not planning on buying this place, is he?” Claire asked her husband quietly.

“Honestly I don’t know, this is the first I’m hearing about it,” He answered.

Claire looked around, the house sat at the end of the street, mostly by itself. The street wasn’t very crowded, to begin with, but, this house was the most secluded.

“Uh, Luke how exactly are you getting into this place?” Robert asked softly.

“I called the relator said, they’ve already had a couple possible offers nothing in writing and that I was more than welcome to take a look around,” His friend, answered punching in the code to the lockbox and quickly retrieving they key.

The couple followed him inside hand and hand, still trying to hide the looks on their faces.

“And how did you find this place?” Claire asked, knowing that there was no way this was his wife’s suggestion, the warm and homey feel was not her style, Eva was more modern sky scrapper apartment than a suburban family home.

“I was just driving around clearing my head, and noticed that some of these houses looked like the one Jen and I grew up in. So, I drove further into the neighborhood and saw this one, kind of alone and by its self, and I don’t know it just felt weird like I knew the place.”


“It felt like home,” Claire finished for him knowingly.

“Yeah, it felt like home.”

Sullivan took a deep breath, he didn’t want to be the one to break it to his friend buying this house would be a mistake, him and Eva had only had a single good month of marriage and even with the prospect of his promotion it didn’t look like it would be getting any better. But, by the look on his friends face he seemed to already know that.

Claire released her husband’s hand and went to holds Lucas’ reassuringly she hated to see him like this. She gave her husband a look and he nodded heading to look at the back yard.

“So, you got a pretty good-sized house picked out here, does that mean you’re not stopping at captain?” She asked him lightly.

 “I don’t know, I guess I’ll have to see where it goes, I mean if I even make Captain,” he answered.

“We all know you will, so, don’t even start with me, Bobby is great at his job and a part of me wishes he had the desire to move up the chain but, right now that’s just not him but, Lucas come on its like you were made for this.”

He didn’t say anything just gave her a silent nod and placed his arm around her shoulder kissing her head.

 “I don’t know if its in the cards for me Claire,” He said softly, looking around the empty house.

“Well you won’t know until you try, and you still have the exam-,”

“No, I mean all of this,” He interrupted, gesturing to the house. “We’ve been married for almost six months and I’ve spent more time with you two or at work, than I have with her, not to mention my ex-wife seems to be more supportive.”

“It’s hard you know being married to, people like you, running into fires for a living and risk your lives every time you go into work, And this might be your second marriage and you may have this whole career planed but, we’re still young Luke you’ve got time, to figure all this out,” She comforted, He nodded.

She gave him a soft smile and left him to go check on her husband in the back yard.

“Robert Sullivan,” She chastised, seeing her husband carving something into a large tree trunk.

“It's fine I’m sure the new owners whoever they may be, won’t mind,” He joked she shook her head at him.

She figured it was pointless, telling him to stop given that she knew he wouldn’t and it looked like he was almost finished anyway.

He took a step back and let her look at it, two hearts were carved into the tree with letters inside, one read RS+CS and the other LR+.

“You left his blank.”

“She’s not it Claire,” He said, leaning against his wife.

“I know but, he doesn’t know that just yet give him some time. Whoever she is she’ll love him, his job, and this place or one like it just as much as he does.”

“Poor girl,” Claire elbowed him, and he laughed.

“You act like you aren’t his biggest fan,” She teased.

“That’s because I’m not,” He turned around to face his wife wrapping his arms around her waist “I’m yours,” He replied smoothly she rolled her eyes letting him pull her in for a kiss.

“Is it weird I wonder what she’ll be like?” Claire asked it wasn’t like this was a future child they were talking about.

Bobby shook his head, “No I do too sometimes.” He told her looking back to the hearts he carved on the tree.

They walked back into the house before, Luke came out to get them. They all agreed to leave, Lucas said it was just a fun little dream, he wanted to show them trying to hide the longing he felt for a life this house was meant for, and a marriage that wasn’t the one he was in, he loved Eva and he wanted to make it work but, it was starting to feel like she didn’t, he slept on the couch that night, and the night after that.

A month later Claire died, Sullivan stopped talking to him and eventually left, he pushed the house and everything he wanted to come with it to the back of his mind. Another almost six months later when he was holding divorce papers in his hands.

    ******

Before they could explain the interaction to the rest of the crew the door swung open and Hall appeared followed by eight others.

“Good morning,” She began “This is Kate Han, Seth Martin, Mary Crooks, Stewart Brown, Kristen Lyons, Stephen Ross, and Dr.’s Crane and Williams they will be interviewing Hughes and Ripley separately and then after you both have completed an interview with members of my team they will evaluate you together. They are highly trained in the field of Physiologic specifically when it comes to relationships and couples that work in high-stress jobs and have possibly problematic power dynamics. The rest of you will go in one by one with either Han and Martin or Crooks and Brown, your interviews shouldn’t take more than thirty minutes each,” She looked back at Vic and Ripley.

“The interviews will be recorded and listened to only by myself and my team, Battalion chief Frankel,” She paused for a moment and a nervous feeling grew in the pit of Ripley’s chest “And acting Chief Fosters.”

Ripley pinched the bridge of his nose, the possibility of one Price’s ‘men’ knowing about the most intimate details of his life was not something he would wish for if his life depended on it.

“You do have the right to opt-out the recording but, it is much more helpful so we can get this done in a timely manner.”

They all nodded.

“Alright, first if firefighter Hughes can go with Dr. Crane and Chief you will be with, Dr. Williams.” The couple left the room with their assigned Doctor.

“Now then we will start with Firefighter Warren, with Han and Martin. Firefighter Miller with Crooks and Brown. Firefighter Montgomery with Lyons and Ross. The rest of you please remain here and I urge you not to discuss this matter until HR has reached a formal decision,” With that Hall left the room as quick as her feet would take her.

The members of the crew who were called got up and left the room with their specific team.

Chapter Text

 

“Please state your name, rank, and how long you have been with the department,” Martin instructed.

“Dr. Ben Warren, firefighter, I’ve been with the department for almost two years now,” Warren answered.

“Thank you, now will you please tell us your relationship with firefighter Hughes.”

“I shadowed her, she’s an amazing firefighter, we’re a family,” He answered.

“And when did you became aware of the relationship between Chief Ripley and Firefighter Hughes.”

“I was with Captain Sullivan and Lieutenant Herrera, when my wife called me to inform me that, Chief Ripley had been found unconscious, and brought to Grey Sloan, as soon as we got the call we headed over there, he was in the pit-,ER,” He corrected himself  “Doctors were working on him, and we were asking them questions, when he woke up he was asking for Hughes, Captain Sullivan informed us they had been seeing each other. Once the chief was able to talk and responsive, he was instant trying to find Hughes so, he could,” He stopped himself neither Vic or Ripley had mentioned the fact they were technically engaged.

“So, he could, what Dr. Warren?” Han asked.

He thought about it for a second, he shouldn’t lie, couldn’t lie if he got caught lying it could possibly mean medic one not to mention they might think the chief or Hughes did something to persuade his interview.

“He wanted to find Hughes so he could accept her marriage proposal,” he answered looking down at the floor.

Han and Martin exchanged glances, one of them wrote something down.

“So, you are stating on the record Chief Ripley and Firefighter Hughes, are engaged?”

“I’m saying that’s why he wanted to leave the hospital, why he left.”

“You worked with Chief Ripley on multiple scenes he also visited the station several times in the recent months you didn’t find that strange?”

Warren shifted uncomfortably in his seat.

“No, I did not find it strange because, both of them have been nothing but, professional every time they interacted, every scene we worked with the chief he delegated us professionally and Hughes did her job,” He answered.

“So, even when he left the hospital against his doctors' wishes, and managed to gain access to one the battalion chief’s car’s, to go find Hughes, he acted professionally, and his judgment was not impaired? Not to mention, members of your team thought it was appropriate for firefighter Hughes to receive the information Ripley was in the hospital while she was on an active call over fifteen feet in the air trying to talk down a jumper.”

Warren shifted again, starting to get annoyed.

 “Hughes didn’t step foot off that tower till her subject was safe and, on the ground, so you can go ahead and scratch that out on your list of things to use against her.”

 ******

“My name is Dean Miller I have been with the department for four years, my relationship with Hughes is solid, she’s the youngest in our crew I’m pretty sure she’s the youngest in the station so, we’re pretty protective of her she’s a little sister a very extroverted nosey little sister,” He answered hoping they caught his teasing tone at the end.

His efforts to lighten the mood didn’t seem to work with the stone faces of Hall’s people.

“When did you become aware of Hughes' relationship with Chief Ripley,”

He recounted the day at the hospital explaining how Sullivan called them there for support and that Hughes told them she and the chief had been seeing each other.

“And what were your first thoughts when she disclosed their relationship?”

“I was surprised, really surprised,”

“So, the relationship was unexpected?”

“I mean it’s Hughes and the chief, I would expect a hundred other combinations before them.”

The two looked between each other as Miller became increasingly uncomfortable, he was starting to understand Hughes’ and Ripley’s reasoning for keeping their relationship a secret.

“When you were in the presence of both the chief and firefighter Hughes, how did they act?” Crooks asked

“Strictly professional, otherwise I’m sure we would’ve already had this conversation months ago,” He answered flatly.

“Have you ever known firefighter Hughes to be in a relationship with another firefighter other than the chief?”

“Excuse me?” He slipped surprised by the question.

The two looked at him Crooks repeated the question.

Dean sighed wondering what he should say, he knew about her and what’s his face from twenty-three but, that wasn’t a relationship and from what he had found out from Jack, Ripley and Hughes had started seeing each other a month or two before it was brought up at thanksgiving. Technically sex didn’t count as a relationship especially if it would be used against Hughes.

******

“Yes, I was married to another firefighter,” Travis stated as the girl interviewer scribbled on her note pad.

“Because of your past relationship did you encourage Hughes to move forward with her relationship with the chief?” She asked.

“No, yes,” He was slightly confused by the question he had already been in here for over ten minutes and had considered walking out on multiple occasions, now that they were bringing Michael into this made it even harder for him to stay in his seat.

“I had my doubts and presented her with them when I first found out about the relationship, I never technically encouraged it until recently, I simply supported my adult friend’s decision.”

“But, you knew before the Ripley was taken to Grey Sloan?”

“Yes, as I told you three times already, I was told by Vi- Hughes, well she was in the process of telling me when I found out,” He repeated, not realizing he had changed his phrasing.

Both interviewer’s eyes grew wide at his phrasing.

“What exactly do you mean by that firefighter Montgomery, earlier you simply stated she told you about the relationship,” Now it was his turn for his eyes to grow wide.

He knew this was going to come back to bite him Hughes, and Ripley in the ass but, he didn’t have the energy to try and make up a story that didn’t involve Ripley touching being the reason he figured it out. Part of him was still thinking about how they brought up Michael as if his dead husband of almost three years had something to do with the chief, sleeping with a subordinate. Those thoughts quickly drifted to Grant and his call from last night that he still hadn’t had time to process.

“Hughes had been trying to tell me all shift, but, I kept avoiding her, she found me in the gym and we were on the stationary bikes when she began to tell me about this person she was seeing she hadn’t said any names. The chief was there looking for Captain Herrera, and her bike spun out of control, he quickly jumped into action to help her, kept her steady and turned on the emergency break-,”

“So, what you’re saying is that not only did Hughes discuss this matter while on shift, you figured out, they were sleeping together because the chief touched her inappropriately?” The man asked.

He had planned on learning their names but, now he didn’t want to simply out of spite. His eyes rolled as he looked at the clock, standing over the two.

Their fifteen minutes were up.

“Yes, I found out at the station, and yes, the chief touched her, but, I didn’t figure out they were sleeping together because, he touched her I figured out he was head over heels in love with her the second he walked in the room, the man light up like a fu- freaking five-alarm blaze, and my suspicions were confirmed when Hughes looked at him the exact same way,” He walked out of the room before either could protest.

******

Maya sat up straight in her chair, making sure to listen to their questions carefully before answering it, she never really liked interviews, even after the Olympics. Yes, she liked/ loved informing people of her accomplishments but, interviews always felt strange to her forced, and this one was probably the worst of all. If she answered in a way someone didn’t like it could probably cost one of her best friends her job, not to mention the chief's.

“Now, you were recently promoted to lieutenant?’ Han asked her.

“Yes.”

“And that was done almost exclusively by chief Ripley,” Han continued not looking up from what Maya assumed was her file, “And he also granted captain’s Sullivan’s request for you to stay at nineteen, and all of this was after the relationship between he and Hughes began,” Han finally looked up at Bishop and it was clear what question she was asking.

Maya was taken aback she knew this wouldn’t necessarily be a friendly interview but, she hadn’t expected them to chalk up her accomplishments in the department to her teammate sleeping with the chief.

****

“Hughes has not addressed their relationship since the hospital, no one asked her about it either she needed time to process,” Herrera stated answering Crooks question.

“And is that the same reason for you not reporting the relationship?” Brown asked.

“Yes.”

“When you found out about the relationship how did that make you feel, as not only a woman in the department but, also a woman of color?” Crooks asked.

“What exactly do you mean by that?” Andy asked.

“You have been apart of this department for many years before you were actually a firefighter, with your relationship to your father, and since you are the only one other than your father to have been around or in Seattle FD we are simply asking if you ever felt sought out or uncomfortable in the presence of chief Ripley.” Brown clarified.

Andy felt herself getting upset, on Ripley’s behalf strangely. Were they going to make him out to be some predator who had a thing for younger women of color?

“No, I met Ripley maybe three times before I was apart of the Seattle FD and after I wasn’t under his command until he made chief, even then I was only ever nervous around simply because he is the chief and good one at that I wanted to impress him.”

*****

Jack sat back in his chair after stating his name, rank, and number of years served into the recording device between him and the two HRs, he was assigned. He was fairly certain Lyons was the older women and Ross was the younger man, but, that could just be the fact he slightly resembled David Schwimmer and he spent the night re-watching Friends after Maya, abruptly left last night, Montgomery, and Andy in tow. Nikki left moments after as well, he and Dean simply exchanged an awkward glance and silently made their ways to their respective rooms.

It also hadn’t helped that he wasn’t really paying attention when Hall introduced them to the whole team or when they reintroduced themselves when he came into the room, he was more concerned with what they were going to ask. So far it had been easy, but he had the sneaking suspicions it wouldn’t stay like that.

“When did you become aware of the relationship between the Chief and Firefighter Hughes?” (Maybe) Ross asked.

He retold the story for what felt like the hundredth time.

“You are the senior-most Lieutenant in your station, eligible for the captain’s position, why did you let this relationship go on without reporting it?” The women asked.

“I had it under good authority the relationship was completely consensual, and they are both adults if I’m honest I didn’t think it would last long enough to need to be reported,” He stated with an almost laugh thinking back on it.

“And why is that?”

“He’s the chief she’s an unranked firefighter, I assumed, it would disperse by itself it’s a lot of pressure for a true relationship,” He started thinking about his own relationship.

“How many times did Hughes discuss the relationship with you?”

“Once before I knew who it was, she was talking about, and twice after though, it was more of things said in passing versus an actual conversation.”

“Did your opinions of Hughes or the chief change after you found out about the relationship?”

Gibson thought about that question for a minute “Briefly, I thought they were both smarter than that, but you can see it on their faces just how much they mean to each other, and neither of them ever acted in an unprofessional manner when he visited the station.”

He noticed his palms starting to clam up as their questions counited, it reminded him a bit like his therapy sessions in the beginning before he got comfortable with his doctor. He wasn’t fond of that feeling.

*****

“Now captain Sullivan you and chief Ripley used to be very close, I understand he was the best man at your wedding, and you were the same at his second,” Lyons spoke. “Did that previous friendship equate for you not reporting the relationship when the chief told you about it over a month ago?”

Sullivan thought about the question, the night Ripley had told him was the same night Hughes was alone in the field, he really didn’t have much time to think about not reporting it, he also wanted to make sure his allegiance lied with Hughes if he needed to take a side.

“I did not report the relationship when I found out because, immediately after Ripley told me we were called to assist Hughes in the field, so at the time I had more important things to attend to. We never spoke about the relationship again. I didn’t report it because I knew Ripley was planning on doing so soon.”

“Did Hughes know you were told?”

“No, not that I am aware of, not until the chief was in the hospital.”

The two regarded each other and Ross the older woman took over the questioning.

“Were you ever concerned this relationship was forced upon Hughes by Chief Ripley?” She asked.

“I was disappointed in him for perusing the relationship yes, but, as you said yourself we were friends and I know he is not like that, he is not that type of man,” Sullivan looked down at his feet thinking about Ripley and everything they had gone through before he left, “He is a good man,” He finished still looking at his feet.

****

Anne Hall sat around a table with six of her most trusted HR representatives and two of the department’s top phycologist, now Frankel and interim chief Fosters had joined them. As shocked and disappointed as Hall was in Ripley, she was not too excited to inform Fosters about his relationship. Information in this department spread like wildfire and she knew the first to hear about Ripley’s relationship would be Price.

“This morning was spent conducting interviews with C-shift from station nineteen as well as Captain Robert Sullivan of station nineteen, and Chief Ripley,” She began, Fosters looked at Frankel confused but, she just kept her gaze on Hall.

“And the reason for these interviews?” He asked.

“It was disclosed to the department by Battalion chief Frankel that for the last almost seven months Firefighter Victoria Hughes of station nineteen and Chief Lucas Ripley have been involved in a romantic relationship, and are now engaged to be married,” Hall finished.

Fosters looked like he’d seen a ghost, a laugh escaped him, “Ripley really?” He asked turning to Frankel who just nodded trying not to roll her eyes at him.

One of Hall’s people handed Frankel and him a file identical to the ones in front of them, he sat back in his chair and flipped through the folder.

****

 “I know this last week was supposed to be a punishment but, honestly it was pretty nice… well besides the constant feeling of impending doom, should HR decide to take further actions against us,” Vic stated, handing Lucas his coffee.

Lucas sighed and wrapped his arms around her. “You go back to work Monday, Sullivan, and Gibson as well and then hopefully we can all get back to normal, once I start back.”

“Yeah except for the two shifts with Frankel as acting Captain,” Vic sighed.

“You weren’t even there for that,” He responded with a furrowed brow.

“Yes but, I was the one that caused it, I’m going to have to do their laundry for a month,” She stated under her breath, and rolled her eyes overdramatically, he chuckled.

“Just think of it as practice for when the baby comes,” He teased, immediately followed by an elbow to the ribs.

“Ow,” He exclaimed, with a smile, letting her go he went to finish taping up the left-over boxes in her apartment.

Over the course of Vic’s “Off week” which is what she called it when she met up with her father that week, they packed up her apartment and moved as much as they could to the house, until they realized it would only cause more arguments. She wanted Lucas to take a back seat let her do most of the heavy lifting, even though he had gotten the all-clear from Dr. Peirce she had warned him he still needed to take it easy. Vic remembered her looking at her when she said that knowing he wouldn’t follow her orders. He, on the other hand, wanted to be doing everything, Vic was surprised he hadn’t wrapped her torso in bubble wrap yet. So, by the fourth argument they agreed to stop the actual moving and just stick to packing, Jen had volunteered her boys and husband citing she needed a girl’s day with Vic and E, while the guys helped Lucas finish the move.

What Jen didn’t know was that on Saturday night Vic and Lucas would be drafting her to help paint the nursery, Jen was a skilled painter like her and Lucas’ mother, Lucas was very good as well to Vic’s surprise but, it would take him quite a while to do it by himself, and Vic wanted it done as quick as possible, not to mention there was no doubt in her mind that Jen would be ecstatic to help and with the other four she was sure they would have it up and ready by Monday afternoon when they left.

Vic was glad she had something to do all week they were still waiting on HR to give them their final report. After the interviews they placed Vic on immediate suspension for four shifts which were basically a week, Sullivan and Gibson got two shifts of suspension, while the rest of her team was formally reprimanded and Lucas ended up with two weeks of immediate suspension, after his medical leave was up, which meant he still had two weeks left. Vic was still worried because, they knew that wouldn’t be everything HR left them with but, since their initial discipline, it had been radio silence somehow that was almost worse.

 “Okay, you ready?” Lucas asked, tossing on a cleaner shirt.

“Yeah, I’m driving though,” Vic grabbed the keys from the counter before he could.

He sighed, “You haven’t let me touch a steering wheel since I told you and you’re the one on medication,” She stated.

“Medication that is perfectly safe to drive with, and we both know it is safer for pregnant women to be in the passenger seat,” Vic rolled her eyes.

“I’m not even showing yet,” She stated, “I wouldn’t have told you if I knew you were going to be like this,” She teased.

Now it was his turn to roll his eyes, he approached her slowly looking down at her he wrapped his arms around her and bent down to kiss her neck, “I’m just trying to keep my beautiful fiancé and our baby safe,” He stated in between kissed, his hands ran up and down her arms.

“Lucas Ripley are you’re really using neck kisses as a way to get the keys out of my hand?” She accused standing her ground, he slumped against her burying his face in her neck.

“Maybe.”

She clutched the keys tighter shaking his finger off them a pulled away from him. She rolled her eyes again and tried not to smile at his antics.

She wanted to stop by the house before they went to the furniture store, so they could look at the room one more time and get and get measurements, so far the basic Rocking chair, changing table, and crib were the only things she really wanted in the room, she also figured she need some kind of small table for a lamp and, a bookshelf or something. She spent her time in bed this morning scrolling through the store’s website to get an idea of what they had before actually going, she may have also found a few pieces she liked for the living room, and outside sitting area as well but, she could save that for another day.

 “You can drive on the way back,” She promised, and he perked up, allowing her to pull him out of the house.

 It didn’t take them long to find what they wanted. An accomplished feeling Vic walked out of the store followed by two men carrying the crib, changing table, and nightstand they picked out to her Jeep when she heard Lucas’ phone ring from his spot in the driver’s seat.

He answered it and she watched his face shift back to the impartial mask he wore as chief, thanking the two men once they were finished but, her eyes didn’t leave Lucas.

She shut the back and climbed into the front seat.

“That was Hall she wants us at HQ,” He explained, shifting the jeep into gear, without another word and headed for HQ.

The drive was quiet and felt longer than usual.

They had been instructed to go straight to Hall’s office, they made it there quickly it wasn’t far from Ripley’s given that all their offices were on the same floor. They were let in by her assistant informing them she was on her way back from a meeting and would be right with them when they entered the office, Sullivan, Gibson, were there as well waiting for Hall.

Ripley shook hands with both Gibson and Sullivan wordlessly Vic went to do the same before a familiar and unwanted feeling rose in her stomach.

“How mad would she be if I puked in her trash can?” Vic asked a hand on her belly. 

She was still getting burst of morning sickness every now and then though, it was more of an anytime of day sort of thing she really didn’t understand why it was even called morning sickness in the first place.  

“There’s a bathroom down the hall to the left, I’ll go see if I can find you some crackers,” Lucas informed her, but she shook her head.

“Food is the last thing I want right now,” She told him, quickly leaving the room to find the bathroom.

Sullivan let out a small chuckle “I take it she told you?”

Ripley nodded sitting down on the couch closet to him he ran his hands through his hair, Gibson had never seen the chief like this, terrified.

“She did, and since then all I can think about is wrapping her up in bubble wrap and making her stay on the couch for the next seven months.”

“That sounds more like a sure-fire way to get her to leave you,” Sullivan teased.

Ripley shrugged, “Not if I tie her to the couch.”

Sullivan raised his eyebrow he did have a point on that one.

“If it makes you feel any better chief, she’ll have the whole team looking out for her,” Gibson stated.

“Thank you, Gibson, and thank you for being there for her these last few months,” He thanked, and Gibson nodded.

The door opened and the three men went quiet, Vic entered placing a fresh piece of gum in her mouth her eyes narrowed.

“You were talking about me,” She accused.

“Well you are my favorite topic,” Ripley stated sweetly.

“Hmm nice save.”

The room went quiet again as they waited for Hall, Vic apologized again for getting them suspended and both told her again, not to worry about it.

The door opened soon after that conversation ran its course, Hall entered followed by Frankel.

“I figured we would give you the details here first, so you’re not bombarded, later on,” She stated at Ripley.

“And by that, I am assuming you’ve arranged for a meeting with my chief’s and executive team after this,” Ripley sighed.

She nodded, and handed him a small stack of papers, then handing the same to the rest of the room.

“These guidelines will be added to yours and Hughes’ files immediately, and every Battalion chief will be issued a shortened copy, except for Frankel who has it in entirety given Hughes is under her command,” Hall stated.

The others nodded and started reading the documents in their hands.

It was an outline basically of rules based around the relationship between Hughes and Ripley there were only six which left Vic a little surprised, she flipped over to her last page.

“What exactly is this last page?” Hughes asked.

Hall looked at her and nodded “It’s basically, a list of things you can no longer do in public,” Hughes still looked confused so Hall continued, “You are engaged to the chief of this department and though, you have a life and a career there are still things expected of you as his wife, same for the wives and husbands of the police commissioner, mayor and other public figures in the city.”

“This list seems longer than it should be,” Gibson stated under his breath, looking over Vic’s shoulder.  

Which Hall and the rest of the room heard loud and clear Hughes was glad she didn’t have to be the one to say it.

“To put it bluntly, the wives and husbands of other public figures are older, they’ve been in this world quite a bit longer than you or even Ripley have, and their relationships didn’t start  by falling into bed with each other, so yes, the unranked, twenty seven year old firefighter with no experience in this world you’re about to enter into gets a longer list. Now if you have any other questions pertaining to the relationship clauses, feel free to ask.”

“You don’t have to sign it just yet,” Ripley told Vic.

She read over the document once more, “No, I’m ready,” She said, Ripley nodded and took two pens from the cup on the desk, handing one to Vic they both signed the dotted line.

“I’ll make sure these make it into your files before you return to duty.”

“Hughes, and Gibson you are dismissed,” Frankel stated.  

“Okay, I’ll wait for you, downstairs,” She said turning to Ripley and standing quickly on her tiptoes, making a show of quickly meeting his lips with her own. “Chief Frankel, Director Hall, Captain,” She regarded, before leaving the room quickly, Gibson on her heels.

Hall shook her head, “You two are starting to make sense,” She sighed.

“You’re just now getting that after interviews with her Captain, entire team, separate and combined interviews?”

“What can I say you proposed to a twenty-seven-year-old unranked firefighter, who accepted, we had to be thorough.”

“You’re dismissed as well, Captain, thank you for your time,” Frankel regarded Sullivan nodded and left the rooming leaving Ripley with the two women.

“Technically she proposed,” Ripley said under his breath, he noticed Frankel and Hall exchange a look.

“About that, we read the part in the transcript where you said she proposed but, you were the one that mentioned marriage first, you stated that in your joint interview,” Hall spoke, Ripley started nodding.

“Yes, I mentioned marriage first, hell if I had it my way, we would’ve been married before I left the hospital, but she wanted to wait and let me heal,” He stated.

“We, know what you were trying to do Rip, we know you obviously want to marry her for the right reasons as well but, it was obvious when you first brought up marriage, you did it as a way to get around the rules,” Frankel said getting straight to the point.

“And even though, I am now the only one who has access to the interviews given the HR process is finished we still don’t want you mentioning that you brought up marriage first or at least the way you phrased it in the interview.”

“So, you want us to lie and just say Vi- Hughes proposed out of the blue?”

“No, you can say she proposed but, keep the fact you brought it up as a way to circumvent the rules on the down-low meaning, you both had talked about marriage in the past and after she thought she lost you in that coffee house then, she proposed, and you excepted in the hospital.”

“So basically, the same story we just add that marriage wasn’t first brought up by me because, people who know the rules and regulations of our department might read a little too far into it and think I brought up marriage to keep myself out of trouble,” Ripley stated.

“Anything you did or may do to protect her, and her career is going to look like you’re trying to cover your own ass,” Frankel added, Hall nodded.

“It’s politics, and we both know you got off easy, after the meeting with your chiefs and the team, this isn’t protected anymore, she’s not protected and you’re going to have half of this city calling for your head. So, you get two weeks suspension, three months’ probation, a list of rules you must follow with every fiber of your being, and you get to be the one to tell Price you of all people are screwing a subordinate-,” That last part made his stomach churn.

“All of which I have already agreed to.”

“Yes, you have,” Her tone had changed slightly, to the friendly almost motherly one he had become accustomed to, “And because you have we will stand by you, but, I need to ask you as someone who has seen the change you’ve made in this department and knows its better with you on top, and as a friend, someone who doesn’t want to see your reputation tarnished, is she really worth this Lucas?”

Frankel had expected him to be upset, honestly so had Hall before the question left her lips, as good-natured as her intentions were, she had seen Ripley angry before and didn’t want to see it again anytime soon. But instead, she watched as a smile formed at the corner of his lips, he looked to the ground, ran a hand through his hair, then looked back at the two women.

“I would have already resigned if you had asked me to,” He let out a small laugh “I think the better question is if I’m worth all of this, I mean god, I can’t imagine my life without her and I don’t even want to try, I love her Anne I love her more than, I’ve loved anyone-,”

 “Director the chief’s and remaining members of the executive team are ready for you,” Hall’s assistant interrupted over the intercom.

“We will be right there, Andrew,” She answered quickly.

 “-She’s what I’ve waited for my entire life, so yes, she is more than worth it.”

“Okay,” Hall said, standing up, Frankel did the same.

“There’s one more thing,” He spoke up as the two women moved for the door, they both turned back to Ripley who was standing in front of the couch he had been sitting on facing them.

“God, Rip what now?” Frankel sighed rolling her eyes she was going to punch him.

“She- Vic is-,” He took a breath, now he understood a little better why Vic still didn’t want to tell her team this was a lot of pressure “Vic and I are expecting, she’s about eight and half weeks,” He told them.

“Holy shit,” Hall exclaimed

Frankel just stared at him like she’d seen a ghost… or eight.

“Yes, well we can talk about this later, I have a group of subordinates and peers to inform of my scandals affairs,” He reminded hurrying them out of the room and avoiding the topic.

“This conversation is not over Lucas Ripley,” Hall warned, with a pointed finger and loud whisper as they entered the conference room.

“I second that,” Frankel stated under her breath.

“Chief it’s good to see you,” Price regarded sitting at the head of the table on the opposite side of the room, it was where he usually sat but, having Price directly in front of him while having this conversation was not something he had accounted for.

The room was getting hotter, or maybe that was just his nerves.

“It is good to see you as well, Price I trust you have all been in good hands since I’ve been gone.”

“Yes, Fosters has done an excellent job in your… absence,” The last word stung.

“Which chief Ripley is here to discuss with us,” Wilson Chimed in.

“Yes, I am thank you for all making time out of your days to meet with me, director Hall and I thought it better to have this meeting before I come back full time rather than after given that our quote busy season is coming up, and we will have a lot to cover once I return, so, though this is an important meeting it is not one that should take precedence over the others, I also want to get my- our side of the store across to you before it hits the tabloids, so to speak.”

He watched as Price sat back in his chair arms crossed and an almost cocky grin forming on his lips.

“I am engaged as of a month ago now,” Ripley began, clearly it was not the news Price was expecting but, Ripley felt the older man shouldn’t worry given what was about to come out of his mouth next, “I was also placed on three weeks suspension and will be on probation for the next three months, given that my fiancé is a firefighter here in the department, we have been together for seven months and given that we did not disclose our relationship like we should have.”

“My team and I have conducted interviews with her and her crew and captain, and found that the relationship is both consensual and neither party is using it to gang anything from the other, we would also ask that members of this team, do not spread her name or affiliated station around, we almost positive once the media gets their hands on it, it will spread fast enough,” Hall spoke the last sentenced directed mainly at Price and his side of the room.

“What is her station?” Donahue asked.

“C- shift, station nineteen,” Murmurs started to rise in the room, “Before you ask, no she doesn’t have a rank, her name is Victoria Hughes, soon to be Ripley, and she is her own women with her own career apart from me. With, that being said, there is a conflict of interest so Hall will be emailing each of the Battalion chiefs, a set of rules Hughes and I are to follow, she will also have a role in public events as is expected of your partners as well, we have both agreed to these terms,” He finished sternly.

Thankfully, Hall began reading off their list of regulations before anyone else could say anything, Ripley felt the cold stare of Mark Price, weighing on him for the remainder of the short meeting, he couldn’t make to Vic quick enough.

*****

The rest of the late morning was spent at their place eating a late breakfast or picking at it on Vic’s part.

“What’s wrong?” He asked.

 “I’m not that hungry,” She shrugged.

He cocked his head, “You might not be but, that baby sure is,” He tried his best to not smile like an idiot while saying that.

She tried not to smile too, looking at her watch. “We got to go before, we’re late,” She said.

Lucas agreed and waved at Cam for their check. He came over with a smile.

“Any coffees to go?” He asked.

“I’ll take one,” Ripley answered pulling out his wallet, Cam nodded and left to grab him a to-go cup.

Vic took a second to look around. “Charlie not working today?” She asked as Cam returned taking a few last bites.

“Uh, no she called in sick, today, but, I’m sure she will be upset she missed you,” He handed Lucas his coffee.

Vic wanted to ask more but, was stopped by, Lucas getting up from his spot, she was right they were going to be late for her appointment if they didn’t hurry.

“You sure you’re still up for Jen, Mike and the kids, tomorrow?” Lucas asked as they pulled into Grey Sloan.

“Yeah, I want them to come, plus its free moving help,” She answered.

“I just don’t want you to be overwhelmed,” he stated.

“If anything getting everything out of the apartment and into the house will make me calmer,” She answered, though she was looking down at her phone texting vigorously.

He snatched it out of her hands “Hey,” She protested.

 “You can have it back when the appointment is over but, for now, we are off the grid Eggy,” He slipped both phones into his pocket.

“Wow never thought I’d see the fire chief turn off his phone,” She teased.

He chuckled, “I honestly don’t think I have since I made captain,” He shot back.

They checked in for their appointment and got settled, in their room she considered, asking him for her phone back till the door opened and Dr. DeLuca walked in.

“Delukes how have you been?” Vic asked excitedly.

He laughed, “I’m doing pretty good Hughes, and I see you’ve been doing pretty good yourself,” He tilted his head towards Lucas, and Vic smiled a bit wider.

“Yeah I’m doing pretty well for myself,” She told him.

“Well since you’re finally here for an official checkup I’m going to go ahead and ask that I get medical, history from both of you,” he handed them both a clipboard full of paper Lucas quickly began filling his out while Vic stopped after she finished the section on herself.

Lucas noticed her change in moods as she stared down at the papers, “Can we bring these in next time?” She asked quietly.

Dr. DeLuca had noticed her change in attitude as well, “Yeah that’s no problem you’re still pretty early in the pregnancy anyways most women don’t find out till about now,” He stated with a soft smile.

She nodded and took the papers off the clipboard, handing them to Lucas to hold for her. He checked her vitals and went over pre-natal care, he also made sure to ask if she had been placed on the aid car, making sure to stress she should not be running into burning buildings anytime soon. Lucas adamantly agreed.

“Now doctor DeLuca will be in here shortly, it’s a little early for gender or anything else but, you will be able to hear the heartbeat, and get some pictures.

“Wife?” Lucas asked curiously.

“Sister actually.”

Moments later a female doctor with gorgeous hair walked in and introduced herself she had a thick Italian accent, Vic could easily the family resemblance between her and Delukes.

“Now, my brother has told me you are going to fill out these and bring them in next time, which is perfectly acceptable so do not worry about that,” She told Vic with a smile on her face.

Reaching for Vic’s shoulders she helped her lean back and instructed her to lift her shirt. Vic reached for Lucas’ hand and pulled him close to her. She tried her best not to cry when she heard the thumping of the baby’s heartbeat come over the speaker. She hadn’t listened to it last time she was here she hadn’t wanted to without Lucas. It was almost like it wasn’t completely real, not until she finally told him, not until they heard this crazy amazing sound for the first time.

Vic felt Lucas’ soft lips on her head after that she couldn’t contain her tears anymore, for the first time in what seemed like ages they were happy ones.

They were walking out hand and hand with smiles on their faces when Lucas had an idea.

“Hey, there’s someone I want you to introduce you to, I think he’d be glad to formally meet you.”

Vic thought about it for a second wondering who it could be that he knew at Grey Sloan other than a few of the doctors, then she remembered him mentioning that Collins was still here, a week or so ago they were running some routine test and setting up his PT schedule for his leg when they found some abnormalities in his blood.

“I don’t know Luke he might not be too happy to learn about us, plus he’s trying to heal and-,”

“Trust me the man loves visitors,” He assured.

They walked through the large hospital Lucas found his room quickly, he knocked on the door.

They heard a quick come in followed by a couple of other voices.

“I’m sorry I didn’t realize the family was in town,” Lucas said entering.

“Oh no you’re fine it’s always a pleasure to see your chief,” Collins wife spoke up “Kids you remember Chief Ripley,” They both nodded their heads.

Vic had finally entered behind him he could tell she was nervous.

“Hughes,” Collins regarded, “Its good to see you, I’ve been wanting to thank you.”

“I really didn’t do much, if anything I-,” Collins cut her off.

“You followed my orders, you got out, and told him where I was if you had stayed, they probably wouldn’t have been able to find us,” He said.

Claudia cocked her head looking between Ripley and Hughes, “I don’t know something tells me the chief over there would’ve torn apart that whole plant to find her,” She said with a knowing smile.

Ripley started to blush, Collins was looking frantically between them confused as usual, “Nothing gets past you, does it?” Ripley asked her.

“Rarely if ever,” She said with a cocky grin. Her kids rolled their eyes their mother’s skill had obviously got them in trouble over the years.

“I’m missing something aren’t I?” Collins asked.

Ripley took a deep breath, “Well since I don’t think you have formally met Captain Collins, I would like to introduce you to my Fiancé Victoria Hughes,” He said proudly Vic extended her hand towards Collins, who took shaking it slowly.

“I’ll be damned,” He said under his breath.

They spent almost an hour talking to Collins and his family, Vic was relieved that at least seemed to be on their side but, she knew this bubble was going to burst too, Lucas had told her that his suspension would be public knowledge and that he was warned by Hall it wouldn’t be long before the papers and local news shows got ahold of the information, and as much as she claimed to be she didn’t know if she was ready for that.

This time as they were walking out it was Vic who stopped them, she motioned to the bench in front of them, sitting there by herself with an ice pack on her knee was Charlie.

Vic approached her slowly, “Charlie?” She asked softly trying not to spook the young girl.

She looked up at the older women a little confused, “I’m Vic, we’re the weird people always hanging out at the diner you work at,” Vic tried to joke.

Charlie thought about it for a second and then looked like she remembered “Oh hi of course, sorry I’m just out of it today,” She said with a soft laugh.

“Do you need a ride somewhere?” Vic asked.

She started shaking her head quickly, “No, no I’m fine, I’m just waiting for the bus,” She lied.

Lucas found that strange he knew that none of the city busses came to this side of Grey Sloan, and the one-stop they did have was about half a mile away, not to mention it didn’t come till six and it was just now one o’clock.”

“Have you eaten?” Lucas asked.

The young girl shook her head, “Well we were about to head home for lunch, your welcome to join if you want,” Lucas told her.

“I’m all right thank you though, I actually had a big breakfast,” She told them, Vic found that strange she looked like she hadn’t eaten in days.

“We really don’t mind, the bus doesn’t come till six the house isn’t far and we can bring you to the stop at five-thirty so you’re back with plenty of time to spare,” He said.

She narrowed her eyes “You’re the fire chief right?” She asked him.

Lucas laughed slightly he hadn’t been expecting that to be her question, “I am, Lucas Ripley,” He spoke extending a hand to the young girl.

 Charlie stood from the bench slowly examining the couple, Lucas in particular then she took his hand and shook it quickly, “I guess there’s a very slim chance the fire chief is a secret serial killer,” She turned to Vic “And you don’t seem like the murdery type either,” She said matter of factly.

“Thank you… I guess,” Vic said assuming that was a compliment.

Charlie smiled at her and gave her a quick nod, raising her eyebrows as if she was asking why they were still just standing there.

“I guess we should get going then,” Vic announced, and Charlie followed the couple to the jeep, Vic couldn’t help but, notice her pull down her sleeves to cover the bruises on her arms.