Of fucking course it’s his boot that almost gets herself blown up. And of course it happens the day he’s not riding with her, Tim’s never really felt that roll of terror down his spine before. Not over a boot. Not over Lucy.
He just doesn’t trust Harper to have her back. Not really. Not like he does. Not like Lopez would. Hell, not like West or Nolan. So when he hears that call over the radio, and can’t freaking do anything about it? Yeah, Tim’s not too happy.
Twenty minutes after Harper called the initial report in, she follows up with the news that Chen apprehended the bomber. That’s his boot. What did he expect, she jumped out of a three story parking garage in pursuit of a suspect, of course she can handle a bomber.
It’s still a full four hours before they’re both back in the station; not that Tim’s counting. He just has exemplary time management skills. Whatever. Don’t fucking judge him.
After change out, he’s leaning against the wall opposite the women’s change room, go bag at his feet, just waiting. When Chen comes out, her hair is damp, curled up in a bun on top of her head. She slumps against the wall beside him.
Lucy just laughs. One single bright bubble of sound that settles around them. “A bomb.”
“You can buy me dinner and tell me all about it.” Tim cracks half a smile, just the edges of his lips turning up, “I’m thinking we need tacos.”
“I’ve definitely earned a margarita.”
He watches as she pushes off the wall, bouncing up on her toes Lucy smiles at him, and there’s a split second where all Tim can focus on is the vibrancy in her smile. The way it takes over her whole face. It reminds him of the feeling you get when it’s the last day before summer vacation. Or when your team is about to win the big game. It’s been a long time since he felt like that.
Like anything was possible.
“I’m driving. Leave that orange monstrosity in the lot.” It’s decisive, Tim uses his authoritative tone to center himself. She’s his boot. He’s her TO.
“I’ve earned air conditioning and radio control.”
Chen’s walking beside him, her bag bumping into his calf as she explains that she has indeed earned both things. She caught a bomber today. Tim let’s her talk, listens as she tells about what she did today. He does indeed let her crank the AC and chose a radio station. Lucy picks classic rock, because she knows what’s good for her.
They grab dinner at a taco bar halfway between the station and her apartment, it’s busy, but the fish tacos are so good that neither of them mind the wait. Scooping up some salsa on the complimentary chips, Tim just listens to her. Lucy is explaining how she is going to find a Krav Maga class when Tim watches her face change. He’s halfway to reaching for his off duty piece when her hand curls around his wrist.
“Oh no.” She breaths the words just between them, colour staining her cheeks.
Tim starts scanning the crowd, feels the uptick it his adrenaline as he tries to figure out what has Chen reacting like this. “What is it, Boot?”
Her eyes are so expressive, but he can’t read what’s happening, too worried something is about to happen to them. To her. “Who is here?” Tim covers her fingers on his wrist, following the quick dart of her eyes over his left shoulder. There is a couple standing there, looking back at them. Quickly, Tim scans them, no visible weapons, no know gang signs, they look normal.
“Luce!” The woman calls, stepping forward, eyes bouncing between Tim and Lucy, a forced smile on her face. “Thank you for the tea pot. It was so thoughtful.”
Squeezing his wrist around his Garmin band, Lucy manages to dig a fingernail into the soft tendon of his flesh. The woman looks down at their jumble of hands, Lucy’s hand sandwiched between his wrist and covered by his other hand. “Is this your boyfriend?”
All at once Tim knows exactly who these people are. It’s the manic tinge to the smile on the woman’s face, and the way the man is leaning backwards. It’s them. The ex-boyfriend and the ex-best friend.
“I’m her partner,” Tim replies, standing up, flipping his bottom hand around to catch Lucy’s wrist before she can pull away. It’s a half truth, an oversimplification, but she’s his boot, so he’s got her back. “Tim Bradford.”
Tim extends his hand to her, shakes it while he maintains a grip on Lucy with his other hand. Logically it’s not possible, but he thinks he feels her heart beat slow through the connection of their hands.
“Bobby!” The woman calls out, reaching behind her, Tim watches her hand connect with Bobby’s elbow before she pulls him forward. “This is Lucy’s boyfriend. Tim.”
Tim applies just that extra bit of pressure to Bobby’s hand, watching the way Bobby holds his breath. Lucy’s thumbnail pulls over his knuckle. “Tim Bradford, Lucy’s partner.”
Flicking his gaze down to Lucy, Bobby’s face flushed further. All Tim can think is, what a Idiot. This is the guy who cheated on Chen with the best friend? Standing up beside Tim, Lucy squeezes his hand one more time, the large oval ring digging into his skin.
“Did you guys do undergrad with Lucy?” Tim takes pride in the way Bobby and the woman tense.
Lucy shakes her head at him, but he can read the smile on her lips, she’s amused. “I met Bobby at university, but I grew up with Anika.”
The memory of when Tim thought Isobel was cheating on him makes his mouth tacky, in the end she did cheat on him. Stole money from him. Broke his heart. Luckily a waitress comes out with their order, a whole tray of tacos that they routinely order here. It’s Hannah, and she knows them.
“Tim, Lucy, here’s the food.” Bless her, she’s oblivious to the tension. “Just you guys tonight? Does that mean you need extra beer?”
“Yes,” Tim says, tugging Lucy down with him, “we absolutely need more beer. We’re celebrating.”
Hannah nods, “I’ll be back.”
Tim picks up a taco, placing extra pickled onions on top, the he shifts his eyes back to Bobby and Anika who are watching. “Nice to met you, but we’ve got a dinner to get back to.”
Bobby nods, hardly looking at them, Anika pursing her lips before she says ‘bye’, and they just fade away. Lucy tilts her head at him, Tim just shrugs.
“How did you know?”
Tim taps his chest, “police officer.”
When Lucy tilts her head down to look at the tacos Tim sees a bruise blooming along her hairline. Without thinking it through, he reaches out and runs his finger over it. “When did this happen?”
“Before the bomb squad business, Harper and I were attacked a little. It’s fine.”
There is something hot and heavy sitting in his throat. “Attacked? A little?”
“In a storm drain.”
“What?” Tim asks, manhandling her a little as he pulls her face closer, inspecting it.
“Harper says I need to learn how to fight.”
“I knew she was a bad fit! She let this happen to you?”
“Tim!” Lucy exclaims, “it happened to us! It wasn’t her fault, I couldn’t fight him off.”
Logically Tim knew it wasn’t Harper’s fault. “Okay, so I missed that in your training. We’ll make a plan, and figure this out. Wait, is this why you’re looking into Krav Maga?”
The look that Lucy gave him was as fond as it was exasperated, “yes, I need to be able to take you in a fight.”
“Come on, Boot. Be realistic.” This comment made Lucy laugh, which was exactly what Tim intended. “I know a woman from the army, she’s smaller than you, and she can help you.”
Her eyes were bright, “thanks, Tim.”
“Yeah.” He pushed the plate of tacos towards her, “and if that doesn’t work, we’ll replace your ring with some brass knuckles.”
Lucy wiggled her ring between them, Tim watched the light refract off the white stone, “I feel like this ring could do some damage.”
“Eat your taco.”