Tim can’t take his eyes off of Lucy as she walks ahead of him into the roll call room, taking her usual seat in the front with Jackson and John. When she sits down, he notices the way that she flicks her gaze down to the silicone ring on her hand, tucking her fingers underneath her thigh before her friends could notice.
Just as they’d discussed, he waits a minute or so before walking in and taking his own seat beside Angela. As he walks by, he reaches up and brushes his hand across her shoulder, covering the gesture by scratching the side of his head.
He’s almost out of earshot by the time he sits down, but Tim is just close enough to Lucy that he can see Jackson nudge her arm.
“Wait … is Bradford wearing a ring? Did he use your days off to get married?”
Tim braces himself, straining to hear Lucy’s reply, to make sure they’ve still got the story straight. But she doesn’t get to say anything before Grey is stepping up to the podium, calling the morning meeting to order.
“Alright, let’s kick things off this morning with a ‘welcome back’ for Officers Bradford and Chen. They’re coming back from a week of vacation. Officer Chen, you’re sure you haven’t forgotten everything you learned from Bradford during training?”
“No, sir,” Lucy doesn’t miss a beat, and Tim can’t help his quiet pride. “I’ve only forgotten how the shop works. It’s like a car, right?”
Everyone chuckles, and the meeting goes on, but Tim isn’t paying attention. Angela kicks him under the table, waits for him to glare at her before she leans over to hiss in his ear.
“So? How was Vegas?” She’s whispering, but there’s no mistaking the excited curiosity in her tone. Tim remembers her mock-fury when she’d found out that he was taking a few days off to go up to Nevada and hadn’t invited her to tag along. “You never texted me back.”
“You told me not to get married.” Tim shrugs, speaking from one corner of his mouth and never taking his eyes off of the front of the room. To anyone else, he’d look attentive and focused, even if he’s actually talking to Angela and pretending not to be looking at Lucy.
“Yeah, and? You could have confirmed it for me.”
“I didn’t want to lie to you.”
The next think he knows, Angela’s fingernails are digging into his forearm.
“You what?” But Grey is ending roll call, turning everyone loose for their shifts, and he’s out of his chair before she can say anything else, all but running down the hall toward the armory.
He’s riding the report car today, so Tim doesn’t have to worry about waiting for a partner to catch up with him before he’s pulling out of the garage and hitting the streets of LA.
The morning is utterly unremarkable, punctuated only by a cup of stale gas station coffee and a text from Lucy, the emoji of the little couple with the heart between their heads a recent addition to her contact name that never fails to make him smile.
Truly, his wife is the cutest.
She’s asking if he’s free for lunch, and of course he is, if she’s asking. So he makes his way to the burrito truck, orders his food and tries to make it look casual as he circles the table to sit down on Lucy’s left, instead of taking the available seat across from her.
He doesn't say anything to her when he gets there, but his hand drops down between their bodies to graze her thigh. She shivers, and he smiles to himself, hiding it around a sip of his drink.
He’s hardly peeled the foil from the top of his lunch when he almost drops it after Jackson makes a hideous coughing noise. There’s horchata dribbling down his chin, and his eyes are wide as he stares at Lucy.
“Lucille Chen!” Jackson swallows the last of his sip and shouts, loud enough to draw attention from the next table over, then lowers his voice to continue. “What is that on your finger?”
Tim tries to school his features, look at her Lucy’s hand like he’s noticing the golden-toned metallic band for the first time. He's suddenly aware of his own ring, careful to keep his left hand concealed under the table.
Lucy looks at him and he mouths Lucille, exaggerating the shape of the word in his mouth, and when she rolls her eyes at Jackson, he can’t help feeling like the gesture is targeted a little bit at him too.
“It’s a ring. Surely you’ve seen them before.” Lucy’s response is so off-hand, like it’s the most obvious thing in the world, that Tim finds himself stifling a laugh.
“A WEDDING ring?” Jackson waves his hands ambiguously in the direction of Lucy’s hand, still wrapped around her bottle of tea.
“Well it’s on my left hand, isn’t it?” There’s a hint of derision in her tone, mock disbelief in the way that Jackson is confused about what’s playing out in front of him.
“But you’re not even dating anyone!”
As much as Tim could watch this play out all afternoon, as much as he’s amused at the sight of his wife playing this so incredibly, unbelievably cool as her best friend gets increasingly more agitated, he’s getting tired of pretending that she’s not the highlight of his day.
“I’d hope not,” he interjects. “Her husband might object.”
Then, with a practiced ease, he pulls his left hand from under the table and reaches for a drink of his own iced tea. He lets the bottle linger, taking several sips before he returns it to the table and slides his hand down to the base.
Just like he’d hoped, it leaves his ring finger propped on the surface of the table, just the right angle for the sun to catch the metallic sparkle on his ring.
Where he’s sitting, Jackson can’t see his hand, but Angela can. And he knew she’d turn her head at the reflection, knew she’d put the pieces together right away.
“Wait …" She starts speaking around a mouthful of food, then stops, looking between Tim and Lucy until she’s finished chewing. “You’re both wearing rings. Tim, spill. Who’d you go to Vegas with?”
“Vegas?” Jackson snaps his head around to look at his friend. “Lucy, did you go to Vegas with Bradford?”
At the same moment, Angela turns her stare directly at Tim.
“Did you marry Lucy?”
They glance at each other, and the look on Lucy’s face takes Tim back to the week before. She’s smirking, just like she had been when they were standing amongst the red rocks in the Valley of Fire. Her white, lacy dress stood out in sharp contrast, as if she weren’t already the only part of the day Tim had paid any attention to. The photographer had told her to rest her chin on his shoulder, and she’d stepped forward, pressing their fronts together and looking out behind him. Instinctively, his hands had found her waist, and in between clicks of the shutter, she’d turned her head to whisper in his ear, telling him all the things they could do with their evening, to “celebrate.”
His fingers had tightened around her hips, and he’d felt his face go hot.
Lucy leaned back, laughing unprompted, and he’d heard the camera go off again in the distance.
When they got the proofs back, Tim knew right away which picture was his favorite.
She’s smirking now, just as she had been right before the giggles had started. Tim can't take his eyes off of her, is relishing in the way she looks when Jackson cries out again, putting the pieces together for the first time.
“Oh my God, you drunk-married Bradford!”
There’s no question in his tone, nor should there be with the way he and Lucy are looking at each other.
“Something like that.” She smiles at Tim, and it’s like the whole world lights up with her.
“You and Lucy went to Vegas? Together?” Angela blinks at him, and try as he might, Tim can’t get a good read on what she’s thinking.
“Something like that.” Under the edge of the table, he reaches over to wrap his fingers around Lucy’s wrist, thumb brushing over her pulse to comfort them both.
It’s something he’d started doing not long after they started dating, feeling for the steady throb of her heartbeat to remind himself that she’s here, with him, alive. And he knows it soothes her too, can feel it in the way she leans just the slightest bit into him.
They share a tiny moment of calm together, before Tim feels the sting of Angela’s hand coming down on his forearm.
“I can’t believe you!” She swats at him again. “Not only do you not tell me that you’re getting married in Vegas, but you don’t tell me that you’re getting married to Lucy.”
Tim is still working on his response when he notices Jackson leaning toward Lucy. He turns his attention toward that, wanting to hear what Jackson is going to say, when he opens his mouth and loudly whispers to her.
“Does this make him my best-friend-in-law?”
“Guys,” Lucy looks back and forth, addressing the whole group. “It’s not that big a deal. Jackson, you spend basically every night at Sterling's now; why should we keep paying rent on an apartment neither of us will be sleeping in?”
“You’re moving in with him?” Jackson gapes at Lucy, like this is somehow the most surprising piece of news he’s heard all day.
“Why wouldn’t she? She’s my wife.” It’s the first time Tim has gotten to say it out loud since they crossed back into LA county, and he feels his heart skip a beat. On a whim, he presses his lips to her temple, smiling against her skin. When he pulls away, Lucy slides her wrist out of his grasp, takes his hand and pulls it to rest in hers on top of the table.
“You … married her.” Angela still sounds stunned, which surprises Tim, because he knows he’s said too much about his rookie in the past, let too many of his cards show when he gets caught up thinking about her. He’d managed to avoid mentioning their relationship, but there’s no way Angela doesn’t know how he feels about Lucy.
“Yeah, well,” Tim looks over his shoulder at Lucy. “It's what you do.”
“What you …" Her eyes all but pop out of her skull. “Oh my GOD, is she pregnant?”
“You’re PREGNANT?” Jackson chokes on his spit, coughing and sputtering as he stares at Lucy. Lucy, for her part, squeezes Tim's fingers and shrugs.
“I sure hope not, after all the wine I tasted at that vineyard.”
Tim rolls his eyes at that, shifting his weight on the bench so he can face Lucy a little more completely. He smiles at her, just this side of too-big and sticky sweet.
“’Tasted?’ Luce, I practically carried you to the elevator.” He glances at Angela before continuing. “And no, she’s not. It’s what you do after you ask someone to marry you and she says yes.”
“And you're … OK with this?” Jackson is studying Lucy closely, scrutinizing her face for any signs that she might be lying. “I mean you got drunk-married to the dude you’ve been into for months and it’s … fine?”
“I wouldn’t say that,” Lucy corrects him hastily.
“Need me to kill him?” Jackson shifts closer, drops his voice by a few decibels, but not enough to keep Tim from hearing him easily. “I can kill him.”
“I’m right here.” Tim rolls his eyes, leaning forward far enough that he can make eye contact with Jackson across Lucy.
“I meant,” Lucy interrupts the staring contest. “I’m married to him, Jacks. Surely we can do better than ‘fine.’”
When she turns to look at Tim, she’s smiling like he’s the best thing she’s ever laid eyes on. And he’s sure his own expression isn’t that different, staring back at her and rubbing his thumb across the ridge the silicone band makes on her finger.
“Can we though?” Jackon’s voice goes up an octave, pulling them both back to the present. “You married the guy and weren’t even dating him.”
“When did I say we weren’t dating?”
“You never said you were! Kept telling me how much you loved him, but never once did you mention that it wasn’t unrequited.”
“I never said we weren’t dating!”
“Never said you -” Jackson throws his hands up and shifts on the bench. “Angela!”
“I’m with West,” she nods. “Tim, you have to tell me these things when they happen. I can't just be expected to know!”
“Maybe we just weren’t ready to say anything.” Tim is trying to defend himself, and Lucy, but as soon as he says the words, he realizes how true they are. He loves Lucy more than anything, he’s the happiest he’s been in years, and he wants the whole world to know that.
But he also knows how much more complicated relationships become when they go public, the kinds of things people said about him and Isabel, and they were just in academy together when they started dating. There’s a lot on the line here, for him and Lucy both, and the last thing they’d wanted to do was mess any of it up by being too forward.
She's enough for him, everything he needs and everything he wants. Tim knows he’s staring at Lucy again, can feel his face straining with how he’s smiling at her.
He can also feel Angela’s glare, though, so he makes himself look away from Lucy to make sure that it really is a teasing look, that there aren’t any hard feelings.
Angela has always been hard to read, but Tim thinks he’s gotten better at it over the years; he’s pretty sure there’s not actually any animosity on her face, just the kind of teasing that makes up the foundation of their friendship.
Tim chances a glance back at Jackson, and regrets it immediately. His eyes are watering and a wide, open-mouth smile splits his face in two.
“OK, but that’s actually really cute. You guys, we shouldn’t have popped your little bubble!” He looks genuinely apologetic, and Lucy reaches out to squeeze his shoulder and almost certainly starts to tell him that it’s OK, right as Angela opens her mouth.
“They popped it themselves, Boot.” Tim rolls his eyes, silently grateful for the way he can always count on Angela to tell it like it is. “Matching rings? Getting married? I’m happy for you two, really. Idiots, but I think it works.”
Tim nudges her foot under the table, smiling gratefully when she looks over at him. Angela responds by sticking her tongue out, a gesture Tim reciprocates.
Then he feels Lucy, pressing herself against his side, tucking her face over his shoulder and smiling at Angela.
“Yeah … me too.” She drops a goofy kiss on his cheek and Tim feels his heart swell.
If every day gets to be like this, he’s the luckiest man alive.
He thinks back to their wedding, standing in the hot desert air and holding Lucy’s hands. He remembers the way her hands felt, sure and steady in his as they promised the rest of their lives to each other, how the officiant had offered them their first kiss as a married couple. It was a perfect moment, just the two of them, sharing everything they have to give under the quiet intimacy of an open sky. The whole world spanned out around them, it felt like, but none of it mattered except Lucy, standing in front of him with tears in her eyes.
“We make a pretty OK couple,” he says, and waits for Angela and Jackson to look back to their meals, the novelty of the news having worn off. Once they’re not paying attention anymore, Tim turns his head and buries his nose in Lucy’s hair. He takes a deep breath, steadying himself against her presence, and murmurs “I love you” against the side of her head.
Lucy doesn’t say anything, but Tim knows she heard him. He can feel it in the way she slides her leg over to rest against his, in how her fingers twitch where he’s still holding her hand.
It’s another perfect moment, one knows he’ll remember the rest of his life, even though there’s no photographer here to capture it. He and Lucy have built their relationship on a long string of these moments, most of them shared only with each other, so why can’t they have this one to themselves too?
Only later that night, when his phone vibrates with a text from Angela, will he decide that some moments are better shared with their friends. He’ll swipe his thumb across the screen, tap on the notification and see the picture she’d taken when he’d thought no one was paying attention. His head is resting against Lucy’s, and even from the low angle it’s easy to tell that they’re both smiling.
She’s captioned it with two emojis: the heart eyes and a middle finger, and two words: