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Love Was Just a Glance Away

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At the moment, Tim thoughts were consumed by the many ways he planned on torturing his friend Angela. Some people might consider that wrong. After all, he is a cop; and she is his friend. But those people weren’t here at this bar, stuck in a blind date from Hell, with no way out because said date was supposedly Angela’s best friend. If he did anything to upset her, Angela would make him pay with her own methods. So he sat here sipping from his glass of whiskey while listening to his date go on and on about her ex-boyfriend.

His date was a pretty, petite Asian American woman with dark hair and eyes, and she seemed nice enough, if a little pushy. But he had already forgotten the woman’s name. Gracey... Gretchen... Geraldine... something with a G. Anyways, as Gwyneth went into hour two of her diatribe; he was both congratulating himself on insisting that this date only be for drinks and contemplating ordering several more drinks and taking an Uber home. He only agreed to the date because Angela kept telling him that he needed to get out there and meet new people because Isabel wasn’t coming back. His wife had left him in the middle of the night almost a year ago. Everyone in his life was telling him he needed to move on. Angela was just the most insistent. Maybe now after this disaster of a date, she’d leave him alone.

Probably not.

Most definitely not.

Suddenly, Gina had stopped talking, and he realized she must have asked a question by the way she was obviously looking for his response. Deciding to take the easiest route, “I think whatever you think is best.”

“Really? Not a lot of guys would tell a date she should think about getting back together with her ex.” Gabrielle was surprised and a little suspicious.

Though he hadn’t been paying too much attention, Tim still listened with cop ears. And nothing she had said had raised any red flags about the guy. So as long as she’d be fine, and if it could get him out of this date quicker, he doubled down. “Well, it’s clear you still have feelings for this guy and who am I to stand in the way of that?”  

“Thanks,” she smiled and quickly gathered her things. Already calling her ex as she was walking towards the door.

Tim breathed a sigh of relief. Angela would regret setting him up. He considered the schemes he saved only for the most deserving of his rookies he trained. Or maybe Giselle would be so happy to be back with her boyfriend that Angela would leave him alone for a few months. No, there was no guarantee with that. Revenge was better.

He thought about his best options as he walked over to the bar to order another whiskey. As he sat down, he noticed the bartender was coincidentally also a young Asian American woman with dark brown hair with light brown highlights. He also noted she had a neck tattoo with symbols he couldn’t quite make out. Told himself his interest in studying her so carefully played into his skills as a cop. And he almost allowed himself to believe it.

“What can I get you?” Her brown eyes were also brighter and more beautiful, and her smile could warm up any room instantly.

Not that Tim was going to let that effect his grouchy mood. Too much. “Whiskey. Neat.”

She obtained a new glass before serving him. “With the way your date was going, I’m surprised this is only your second glass.”

“You were watching me?” His tone wasn’t of annoyance. Just surprise. He wasn’t one to complain about being observant. Being aware of his surroundings was an important aspect of his job.

“I’m a bartender. I indulge in a little people watching so I can anticipate their needs. Leads to better tips.” She smiled. “Plus with the look you had on your face, I was worried you were planning various methods of torture on her.”

Tim actually gave a small smile at that. “Not on her. Just my now ex-friend for setting me up on that horrible blind date. So far I have eight tried and true methods to use on her.”

She took a moment to think before leaning in conspiratorially. “Should I warn your friend or would you like my help conceiving more devious plans?”

Oh, he definitely liked her. “Tim.” He said holding out his hand.

She gave another brilliant smile before shaking his hand. “Lucy.”

There was something electric about holding her hand, but Tim didn’t want to give it too much thought. She was still practically a stranger. So he let her hand go before they lingered too long.

***

The bar was calm enough at this time that Lucy could afford to speak with the handsome stranger for a while longer. She hadn't told him that the real reason she watched him before was because he had caught her eye when he first walked in. She'd have to been blind not to notice how attractive he was. Both in looks and his general air of magnetism. “So is setting you up on blind dates something your friend does regularly or was this a special occasion?” she asked at she poured a beer for another customer.

He seemed reluctant to answer. Lucy took that as a sign that he was preparing to shut down. She liked helping people. Getting to the bottom of answers and the root of their issues. Even if she didn’t like doing so as a traditional therapist like her parents would have wanted. But she also recognized when people didn’t want to speak and pushing them wouldn’t help. Normally, she would back off to give them their space. But something about Tim made her want to push further.

He took his time. Seeming to weigh his options in whether or not to reveal too much. “She thinks I need to start dating again after my wife left me a year ago.”

Lucy couldn’t help but glance at his left hand. He wasn’t wearing a ring so in some ways he may have already started the process of letting go. But if this was his first date in a year, then maybe not. Still, different people worked on their own timelines.

“And is dating again something you think you’re ready for?” She asked.

Tim narrowed his eyes at her with a bit of an edge in his voice. “Is this the part where the bartender plays at being a therapist?”

Classic misdirection and putting up a wall to avoid the question. Lucy wasn’t going to let him intimidate her. She wouldn’t back down. “Maybe, but I almost finished my Masters in psychology so I think I have better insight than your average bartender.”

Perhaps it was the way Lucy didn’t scare easily. The way her eyes held onto his as they stared each other down. Perhaps he really did need to talk to someone, and a stranger was easier than a friend. But Tim thought it was something more about Lucy herself that made him want to open up. “I don’t know. I guess a huge part of me is hoping she’ll come back.”

“That’s understandable. Was this a break up you two actually talked about beforehand or one where she stole your truck and your dog?” Lucy knew this was a serious matter but sometimes a little levity could help people talk more about their problems.

Luckily, Tim did give a startled laugh at that. “More of the second one. Though I don’t have a truck yet, but I’m thinking about getting one. And a dog. Maybe if I get one, I won’t be the lonely guy whose wife left him in the middle of the night because she didn’t want his help confronting her drug habit.”

Lucy couldn’t hide her surprise at his admission.”Well, that’s definitely good cause for being reluctant to date for a year.” She poured him another glass of whiskey after he downed the last of the previous one. He certainly deserved another.  

“So what would someone who almost has a Masters in psychology tell me I should do?” Tim asked as he slowly sipped his whiskey. He didn’t really want an answer. Almost certainly wouldn’t follow her advice because he didn’t trust psychology. But he did want to continue listening to her talk.

Lucy took her time to consider what would be most helpful for him. “I think that even though I’m sure your friend has your best interests at heart, you should go at your own pace. Forcing yourself into situations you’re not ready for won’t help you. It might even do more harm than good. Because I don’t think you’ve gotten any real closure with your wife yet. But...” She leaned toward him to look him square in his eyes. “You also need to be willing to push yourself a little more. Not too much. Not dating if you don’t think you’re ready. Just try flirting. It doesn’t have to go anywhere if you don’t want to. No high stakes involved. Just remind yourself there are other women out there who aren’t going to leave you.”

Tim thought about what she said. She was perhaps the first person who didn’t insist on pushing him too hard. Granted, she was further removed from the situation. But whereas with most people, even Angela, who insisted he needed to take that next step in getting over Isabel; Lucy’s advice actually made him want to listen. Flirting wasn’t too much of a risk. He could try flirting. “Well, in that case, can I buy you a drink? You know, to pay for my therapy session.”

Lucy smiled as she nodded her head. She had accepted drinks before from guys flirting with her while she bartended. Good way for the bar to make money and for her to make tips. But she never actually drank the shots she poured for herself. Preferring to stay sharp as she tended bar. If she drank every shot a guy bought for her hoping to get something out of the deal, she’d be wasted by the end of the night. But with Tim, she could tell he wasn’t actually hoping for anything. Just trying to take her advice with someone he felt reasonably comfortable with. He deserved complete honesty with her. One shot wouldn’t be a problem. So she poured herself a shot of a tequila, toasted to him, and drank it down while he finished his whiskey. 

***

After that last drink, Tim switched to water so he could sober up for the drive home. Lucy only stuck to her one shot, mentioning something about bad decisions when she drank too much tequila. For the next couple of hours they chatted about harmless topics as Lucy filled other customers’ orders. Nothing so daunting as his broken marriage. Though they did come close when Tim asked when she would be finishing her degree.

Lucy told him about her parents who were therapists, and how they expected their daughter to follow in their footsteps. But with only a semester away from graduating, she realized while she might like psychology and even have a knack for it; it wasn’t her passion. She wanted to do something that instilled a sense of purpose in her. A desire to do good. So she was on a journey of discovery until that purpose made itself known. Much to her parents’ dismay.

Tim thought about telling her he was a cop when she mentioned wanting to do good. But he had learned long ago it was best not to volunteer that information. He wasn’t about to spill all his secrets to Lucy.

Before long, it was last call, and the bar patrons were leaving. Lucy mentioned it was her turn to lock up for the night so Tim stayed behind to make sure she was safe. As Lucy finished wiping down the bar, she finally got up the courage to ask Tim something she had been wondering for at least half the night. She sat down on the stool next to his, and forced herself to look at him. If she couldn’t look at him without shyness, she didn’t deserve to know the answer. “So if you haven’t dated since your wife left, does that also mean you haven’t been with another woman since she left?”

Tim did look away for a moment. It was embarrassing for a guy to admit he’d been celibate for a while. Especially with the macho type of guys he worked with. But he didn’t think Lucy would laugh at him for it. Pity him maybe... which might be worse. But definitely not laugh. “Actually, more than a year. Before I found out about the drugs, I thought she was cheating on me. Kind of killed the mood.”

“You still honor your vows.” She said, knowing it was something as true about Tim as the blue color of his eyes.

Tim nodded, and in that moment Lucy made a decision. Probably a crazy decision. Certainly in contradiction to what they had just been discussing, but she couldn’t help herself. She leaned forward and kissed him. Tim was taken by surprise, but only for a moment before returning her kiss eagerly. The truth is: it had never crossed his mind to even want to kiss another woman who wasn’t Isabel. Not until this night. Not until Lucy.

When Lucy pulled back from the kiss, she worried she might have gone too far. Even though it felt as though Tim was as into the kiss as she was, that didn’t necessarily mean his mind was as interested as his body. But as she looked at him, she noticed the way he smiled at her and the hooded look of lust in his eyes.

With renewed confidence, Lucy stood up and took Tim’s hand; leading him back toward the bar’s storage room. Stopping for a few more kisses along the way. This wasn’t something Lucy usually did. One night stands weren’t really her thing. She couldn’t say her previous relationships ever amounted to much, but she had known the men longer than a couple of hours before anything happened. But something about Tim was different. Something made her want to be different with him on this night. Like if she didn’t take this chance, she might always regret it.

For his part, Tim was definitely nervous. He wasn’t necessarily second guessing what he knew was about to happen. He was honest about wanting to remain faithful to Isabel despite everything. He was loyal and took every vow seriously when he made it. For his country.  For the city of Los Angeles.  For his wife.   But it had been a year. And in all likelihood, Isabel wasn’t coming back. He couldn’t spend his entire life missing out because some part of him expected that to change.

He wanted this moment. He wanted Lucy. Even if only for tonight.

Instead, the real fear was in what his performance might be. Over a year without anyone but himself to satisfy. He hadn’t been with a different woman since before meeting Isabel. To go from knowing someone’s body so well to back to fumbling as he tried to figure out what Lucy would like was intimidating. And Tim did not like to be intimidated. He needed to get out of his head and focus. To stop thinking and go with his gut. He was a man of his gut. It never failed him before.

Getting back into the moment, he found Lucy standing before him with a condom in her hand and a question in her eyes. Decision made, Tim reached for her. As they kissed, Lucy wrapped her arms around his neck while Tim lifted her up so she could wrap her legs around his waist. He carefully walked them back toward a table he’d noticed when they first entered the room. Never had he been so grateful to make sure he was always aware of his surroundings.

Lucy smiled and laughed into his kiss as he set her down. She made quick work of removing her shirt. As soon as it was gone, Tim took the opportunity to kiss along the tattoo on her neck. The very spot that had been tempting him all night. His kisses were distracting Lucy from her own goal of removing Tim’s shirt. She moaned as Tim hit the perfect spot just along her jaw while pairing that with caressing her breasts. After a few more minutes  of gentle torture, Tim took pity on her. Or was it more torturous to stop his kisses and touches?

He leaned back and undid the rest of the buttons on his shirt, smirking as Lucy’s jaw drop while his shirt dropped to the floor. She knew Tim was older than her, though she didn’t ask how old, but it definitely should be illegal for a man of any age to look this good. Whatever he did to keep in shape, she was thankful for it.

She pulled him back to her so she could run her hands up and down his chest and over those incredible arms. She noticed a couple of scars along his body and though she had questions, now was definitely not the time. She peppered kisses along his neck and shoulders to pay him back for his own actions.  Paying special attention to a scar on the top of his right shoulder. Kissing her way back to his lips, she smiled when he met her enthusiastically.

Tim’s hands moved slowly, cautiously down her sides and stopping just above the button of her jeans. Not moving away, but giving them just enough room so he could look at her. If she gave any indication she wanted to stop, he would. As she nodded her head, he moved forward to kiss her again while unbuttoning her jeans and slipping his hand inside.

If nothing else, he was determined she’d walk out of this room happy. Any way he could make that happen. He studied her face for signs of pleasure, and when one stroke of his fingers caused her to moan, he repeated the action. Changing his pacing to speed up or prolong his movements, until she was screaming his name. Her orgasm tapered off as he slowed down his movements. Giving her time to control her breathing. Kissing her once more when she glanced up with a slightly dazed expression.

Lucy reached for the condom she had dropped on the table before Tim started driving her mad with his kisses. Glad she had the foresight to grab it from her purse beforehand, she handed it to him. She took off her underwear and jeans the rest of the way as Tim pulled down his own clothing. It was a little awkward and undignified as she had to kick off her shoes too, but at this moment, she doubted either of them cared.

Upon seeing Tim fully naked, she had the fleeting, almost immature thought that his wife had to be crazy for choosing drugs over him, but she pushed that thought aside. Focusing instead on watching him put the condom on. Pulling him into another kiss as he slowly filled her;  they took a moment to adjust to the feeling of each other before finding a rhythm.

With any new partner, there was always some awkwardness. That was just a given. But before giving into her pleasure, Lucy noted that whatever awkwardness there was with Tim didn’t last long. Instead, she and Tim had an almost natural rhythm. Their chemistry was palpable in more than just the way they connected when they talked. It was insanely physical as well. She found she couldn’t get enough of him, pulling him closer as she ran her hands down his back.

Tim’s fears of inadequacy drifted away with Lucy’s first orgasm. Now he was just hoping for a repeat performance before his own took over. Slowing down in the hopes of prolonging their pleasure, Tim took some time to really study Lucy. Noticing how her eyes closed tightly when he pushed himself back in. The way her legs held him close to pull his hips back to her. The slight gasp when he hit a particularly good spot. He made sure to hear that gasp again and again. He was close to his own orgasm, but luckily so was she. He reached between them to help her finish. Crying out his name again only mere moments before he followed. He’d only just managed to reach a hand out to steady them so she didn’t hit her head on the back of the table. Then one last long, slow kiss before he pulled away to dispose of the condom.   

What was once a rush of excitement was now filled with awkward smiles as they put their clothes back on.  He felt like he should say something, but he’s not sure what. Should there be more to this? Does Lucy want more? Does he want more?

Sensing Tim’ s uncertainty was on par with her own, and worried he’d say something he didn’t mean just to reassure her, Lucy decided to put him out of his misery.  “Look, Tim, I’m not expecting anything more than what tonight was. I know you’re not ready for any of that. So let’s treat this just as it is. A really great time between two practically strangers.”

“Oh, okay. Good... that’s good.” That took the pressure off of him. He should be relieved. And he was a little. Just not as much as he thought he should be. In fact, if he really thought about it, he was disappointed. Still, this was obviously what Lucy wanted. And she was right. He wasn’t ready for anything more.

Ever the gentleman and cop, Tim waited as Lucy finished closing up the bar. Then he walked her to her car, made certain she was good to drive, and together they shared one last goodbye kiss. He watched her drive away before he got in his own car and drove in the opposite direction.

***

A couple of weeks later, Tim still couldn’t stop thinking about Lucy. Maybe it was because she was the first woman he’d been with since Isabel. Maybe because she was also the first woman he felt any real connection to in a while, including Isabel. Or maybe it was just Lucy herself that made him want to see her again. He stopped by her bar after shift. It wasn’t his regular bar. That night had been the first time he’d ever been because Greta (He really should have learned her name. Not that it mattered anymore.) had chosen it.

However, when he asked if Lucy was working tonight, the bartender informed him that she had quit the week before.  He could have played the cop card to get more information. Her last name at least. But that felt wrong. If she wanted him to know, she would have told him. Just as he could have told her more about himself. Maybe she quit because she didn’t want to chance seeing him again. At any rate, she probably wouldn’t appreciate her one night stand tracking her down. He would come across more as a stalker than any kind of romantic.

He should take what she said to heart that night and just remember it for what it was: a really great time between two strangers. That’s all they’d ever be.

Which is really quite a shame, because a month later found Lucy staring at a positive pregnancy test with no way to contact the baby’s father.

Chapter Text

For the first couple of weeks since she learned of her pregnancy, Lucy seriously considered all her options. She was basically alone, with only a little savings and without a steady job. If she had known she was pregnant when she quit, she might have kept the job instead of giving into her desire to move on. Though it probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway. Standing behind a bar for hours on end with the smell of alcohol and fried food would have eventually taken its toll on her, and she would have had to give it up all the same.


No matter how much she wanted to find Tim, she knew nothing about him beyond his first name and the fact that he was in an estranged relationship with his wife. Unfortunately, there was no easy way to search for hot guys named Tim in troubled relationships on social media. If he even had a social media presence. And for all she knew, he had gotten back together with his wife. Even in the unlikely event that he returned to bar where she used to work, there was no guarantee they’d cross paths again. He wasn’t one of the regulars. She definitely would have noticed him before if he was. She couldn’t spend her life waiting for him to miraculously show up. She wasn’t the type of girl who waited for a prince anyway. Even if she does enjoy a good romance novel.


While no one she knew would blame her choosing not to keep her pregnancy, and she wouldn’t blame herself either; something told her that wasn’t the right choice for her. Yes, the idea of pregnancy was scary especially without a safety net. But from the moment the positive result appeared on the test, Lucy truly felt passionate about something. More than she had in years. Perhaps more than ever. She wanted to be a mother. And she was determined to be a good one.


When she told her parents they were going to be grandparents, to say they were displeased with the idea of her being an unwed mother would be an understatement. But they had made her an offer to help with the baby. On the condition that she return to grad school and finished her degree. On the surface it seemed like a good idea. And perhaps she was selfish to turn it down. But she didn’t want the life her parents wanted for her. And more importantly, she didn’t want to raise her child in an environment where he or she would always feel less than if her parents expectations weren’t met. She might be making life more difficult for her in the short run, but she knew she and her child would be happier in the long run.


Lucy managed to find a steady job in retail with an older woman who owned the shop. She had children and grandchildren of her own and sympathized with Lucy as her own daughter was currently pregnant with her third grandchild. It wasn’t everything, but it was something until Lucy could find a more permanent career.


So that’s how Lucy found herself one morning, eight months into her pregnancy, with a gun pointed at her because some idiot decided to rob the store. If the situation wasn’t so serious, she would wonder what was the sense in robbing a store on a Monday morning after it had just opened.

How much money did he think could possibly be made in half an hour? No wonder they say criminals are dumb.


And to add insult to injury, she wasn’t supposed to be working today. She had switched days with one of her co-workers. What was her luck?


She pleaded with the thief that she couldn’t help because there wasn’t much money in the register, and she didn’t know the combination to the safe --- not that it would matter since the money had been taken to the bank on the previous Friday --- when she caught movement from coming outside.


Thank God, someone had noticed and called the police.


A pair of cops rushed in guns drawn. Unfortunately, their presence didn’t calm the situation. Rather than putting the gun down as instructed, the would be thief made what was either his best or dumbest decision of the morning when he decided a pregnant lady would make a great hostage.


Lucy tried to remain calm or as calm as one could be when a gun was pointed at her head. The female cop, a Latina woman, slowly lowered her weapon as she tried to reason with the gunman. Lucy noticed she didn’t holster it completely. Unfortunately, the robber noticed too because he refused to lower his gun. Instead, he made Lucy walk in front of him as he slowly moved them our from behind the counter. The few customers, who had ducked when the man first drew his gun, backed even further into the store. The only people between him and the door to freedom was Lucy and the cops.


Perhaps having finally realized just how dire the situation was now that Lucy’s pregnancy could clearly be seen, the female cop called to her partner. “Coleman, back away from the door.” The young male officer stepped about a foot to the side away from the door but didn’t lower his gun. “Sir, you are free to go, but I need you to let the woman go first.” The female officer said in a steady and commanding voice.


Sadly, the guy wasn’t buying it. “No way. She stays with me until we’re outside and free and clear of you guys.”


“I can’t let you do that, sir. You know that. But you still have a chance to make things right. You came here to score some easy cash. I know you don’t want to hurt anyone. Least of all an expectant mother.” The female officer reasoned with him.


Lucy had seen this kind of behavior before. He was too keyed up to listen. Nothing short of taking the gun from him would get him to release it, and that wasn’t a risk she could take. But she was going to try something to save her baby. Catching the female officer’s eye while hoping she understood Lucy’s plan and followed through; Lucy doubled over in apparent pain. Catching her side, “Oh God, I think my water just broke!”


Predictably, the gunman scrambled away from her quickly. Giving the officers room to subdue him and take the gun away without anyone getting hurt. The male officer led the offender away in handcuffs while the female officer came to speak to Lucy. “Miss, my name is Officer Lopez. Are you in active labor?”


Lucy laughed and shook her head. “No.Faked it.”


At that Officer Lopez cracked her own smile. “Clever. You’ve got good instincts. All the same, I’m going to call for an ambulance just to be on the safe side.”


Lucy didn’t resist. She knew the risks high blood pressure could have on a pregnancy. And she was sure hers had skyrocketed throughout that whole ordeal.


***


Unfortunately, at the hospital Lucy learned tempting fate was a very real thing. All the stress from the attempted robbery had managed to put her into active labor. Now on top of being alone during labor, she’d faced the prospect of doing so a month early. Her doctor assured that healthy babies were born all the time at this stage. The most important thing she could do for her baby right now was to remain calm.


She was trying to accomplish that seemingly impossible task when Officer Lopez knocked on her hospital room door. “I wanted to come by and check on you. The doctor mentioned you had started labor, but they were attempting to stabilize it.”


“Yeah, but she’s not sure it’s possible. Looks like this baby wants to be born today. At least, I’ll have an interesting story to tell her or him.” Lucy attempted to put on a brave face. “I’m glad you stopped by, Officer Lopez, so I could thank you for saving me. Us.” She pointed toward her belly.


“I think a great deal of that thanks goes to yourself. And call me Angela. People who foil a robbery together should be on a first name basis.” Angela smiled.


Lucy was about to reply when she felt another contraction. Angela stood by to help her breathe through the pain, and settled back into the bedside chair when Lucy’s pain subsided. “Is there anyone you’d like me to call? Someone should be here with you.”


Lucy shook her head. “No. I’m currently not speaking with my parents. And the father is... well, it’s complicated.”


“It’s complicated like Facebook status ‘It’s complicated’ or like the father doesn’t want to be involved complicated?” Angela asked. Maybe she was being too pushy, but she didn’t think someone who was currently without family during one of the most important moments of her life would judge her too harshly.


“No. I think he’d be involved if he knew. He seemed like the kind of guy who honored commitments. It’s just... well...” Lucy was a little embarrassed to admit it to a stranger, even one who helped saver her life, but she had no one else to turn to. “This baby is a the product of a one night stand with a guy whose last name I don’t even know.”


But Angela didn’t judge her. “I’d offer to help you track him down. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot I can do without a last name.”


“It’s fine. I’ve come to accept it for what it is. I’m just sorry the baby won’t ever know him.” Lucy wasn’t even sure what details she could one day tell her child. He drank whiskey. He was gorgeous. He was loyal. Perhaps to a fault. For one night, he made her really happy, and she got this baby out of the deal.


“Who knows? You ran into him once. You might meet him again some day.” Angela tried to give her some hope. Not that she believed it herself, but the woman was in labor. She could use a nice distraction.


“In a city of nearly four million? I think today is evident that my luck isn’t that good.” Normally, Lucy was all for looking on the bright side, but even she had to admit the odds were stacked against her.


“Hey, in this job I’ve seen plenty of strange things. You randomly meeting up with the same guy twice wouldn’t even crack my top hundred.” Angela assured her. “But in the meantime, you should still have someone here with you. So I’m going to radio my watch commander to let him know I’ll be staying with you until your baby is born.”


“You don’t have to do that. I’m sure you have more important things to do. A city to protect and serve.” Lucy protested.


“Yes, and right now my job is to protect and serve Los Angeles’ newest citizen. Even if said citizen hasn’t been born yet. I’ll be right back.” Angela left to call into her watch commander as promised.


Lucy was extremely grateful to have someone in her corner this day. Maybe that attempted robbery would turn out to the twist of fate she needed.


***


The doctor concluded they were not able to pause Lucy’s active labor. Plus the stress of the situation required an emergency c-section to be performed. True to Angela’s word, she stayed with Lucy the entire time. Born at 35 weeks, a beautiful baby girl was placed in Lucy’s arms. Weighing five pounds and nine ounces, with long limbs making up most of her nearly eighteen and half inches. Lucy was surprised to see her baby had a full head of dark hair. But what really made her cry in joy and heartache were the deep blue eyes staring back at her. The exact shade of blue eyes she hadn’t seen in eight months.


And so on October 23rd, Angela Thea Chen was born at 1:15 pm on a bright Monday afternoon; and thereby changed Lucy’s entire world.


***


Angela had to return to work but promised to stop by to see Lucy and her namesake again as soon as her shift was over. One of her first stops was at the food trucks near the police station where her fellow officers were having a late lunch. She sat down at the table already occupied by her friends Talia and Tim. Often they liked to trade details about their arrests. Who had the best stories. Whatever made them look good. She doubted anyone would beat her story today.


“I don’t know about you guys, but I managed to stop an attempted robbery that turned into a hostage situation with a pregnant woman, and got a brand new baby named after me. I’ll be visiting with the new mother and baby Angela after work if anyone cares to join.” Angela stated proudly.


“Haven’t you been on the job for far too long to still be picking up strays?” Tim asked. He always made it very clear his opinion on getting too attached to the people they helped. Despite he himself going out of his way at times as well.


Angela was determined not to let him spoil her good mood. “This is different. I need to be there for them. I am going to be the child’s godmother, after all. Who else will teach her how to be a badass?”


“Maybe I will join you. I feel like I should warn this new mother about the trouble she just got herself into.” Tim teased his friend. He didn’t have any real interest in actually doing so.


“Whatever. Don’t be jealous just because you didn’t get the call, and now there is no brand new baby Timothea gracing the world.” Angela replied smugly.


“Yeah, I’m sure I’ll end up regretting that,” Tim laughed having no idea how true those words would one day be.

Chapter Text

Meeting Angela had turned out to be the saving grace Lucy needed. She took her duties as baby Angie’s godmother very seriously. Angela’s sister-in-law Maria was a stay at home mother who offered to watch Angie while Lucy worked. The extended Lopez family had become the support system Lucy had so desperately needed. With her parents refusing to get involved unless she met their demands, college friends being busy with their own careers and families, and the unlikelihood that she would ever run in to Tim again no matter how much she wanted; she’d been grateful to the Lopezes for all the help they provided in the six months since Angie had been born. And they accepted her and her daughter as one of their own.

Lucy had even been invited to Angela’s niece’s quinceañera. She was excited to attend. Even if Angela was dropping some pretty heavy hints about introducing Lucy to a work friend of hers. Truth be told, she wasn’t in a place in her life where she was ready to date. When she wasn’t at work, Lucy wanted all her free time to be with Angie. Despite all the good reasons and necessities to providing a life for her daughter, she knew single mothers often dealt with horrible feelings and psychological fears of abandoning their children. She could literally write dissertations on why this was common place for working mothers, and why mothers shouldn’t feel that way. All the societal pressures placed on mothers despite decades of a changing workforce and a reversal in traditional gender roles. She could explain it, but that didn’t stop her from feeling it.

As it turned out, Lucy didn’t need to bother worrying about Angela trying to set her up. Angie had a fever the night before the party, and Lucy spent the entire day waiting on pins and needles for her baby’s fever to break. Angie was perfectly fine and healthy within a couple of days, but that entire time took years off Lucy’s life. She worried she wasn’t doing enough. She thought about what kind of legacy was she giving her daughter. She wanted her daughter to admire her. To one day proudly stand up in class on Career Day and claim her mother had the best job ever.

When Angela talked about her job, she spoke with the passion that Lucy had once long ago wanted so much for herself. It was exciting and she was doing good in the world. Helping people. When Lucy expressed her interest in becoming a police officer, she thought Angela might dissuade her. But her friend was entirely supportive. And when Lucy brought up her concerns that it might be too dangerous of a job while raising a child, Angela introduced her to some of her fellow policewomen who were also mothers. Some were mothers before they started at the academy. Some became mothers after. But they all made it work. Yes, it was dangerous job. But having Angie also meant Lucy had someone to fight for. Someone who she would do anything to come home to. Someone who would remind her why being the best cop she could be was important.

And so with her friend’s support and her future before her, Lucy set out to become one of the LAPD’s newest recruits.

***

“Your 911 text emergency was to come over to babysit your friend’s kid?” Tim said looking more annoyed than Angela thought even he could muster.

“Yes. My sister-in-law had a family emergency with her mother so she dropped Angie off with me, but I’m due to be in court in an hour. I knew you had the day off, and you have nieces so it’s not like you’ve never been around kids before.” She really didn’t have time to argue about this. It would be so much easier if Tim gave in like she knew he eventually would.

“The difference being that those kids are my family. She might be your goddaughter, but she’s not mine.” Tim argued.

“Oh come off it, Tim. It’s not like you’re busy. What did you even have planned for today?” she asked.

“The Dodgers have a double header scheduled.” Tim said like it was the most important thing in the world.

“Home or away?”

“Away.” He reluctantly admitted.

“So you were going to watch the games on TV. Which you can easily do here.” She pointed to her own television. “Just make sure to keep the volume low. No yelling when the umpire makes bad calls. And you shouldn’t drink beer since you’ll be watching the baby.”

“Yeah, that’s exactly like being at home.” Tim replied sarcastically, but he knew he would lose this battle. Angela was formidable when she wanted something. “What am I supposed to do when the kid’s mother shows up and wonders why a stranger is watching her child?”

“I’ll only be gone for two hours. Two and a half at most. Lucy will still be training at the academy by the time I’m back. I’ll text her your details so she doesn’t have to worry. You’re a cop who is certified in life saving techniques. She couldn’t ask for a better babysitter for her child. But give me your phone so I can put in her number just in case there is an emergency.” Angela took his phone and quickly put in her friend’s information before handing it back to him.

Lucy Chen. The name Lucy shouldn’t still make his heart drop into his stomach. It had been well over a year since he last saw her. One night, even one really great night shouldn’t still affect him this much. Not that it mattered. There were millions of Lucys in the world. Several hundred thousand in the Los Angeles area alone. And if anyone asked if he’d done a search on the name, he’d deny it.

He knew Lucy was the name of Angela’s friend, and he’d seen pictures of the baby before when Angela was proudly showing off her namesake. Though none of the child’s mother. Something about her friend feeling self- conscious since her baby was born and not wanting her own picture shared with strangers. He couldn’t blame her since he didn’t like his picture taken at all. He knew for a fact that Angela had none of him.

“She’s napping in the portable playpen. She’s already been fed and changed so you shouldn’t have to worry about that before I get back, but just in case everything you need is in her diaper bag. I’ll text if I’m delayed.“ And with that Angela walked out the door leaving him alone with the baby.

A quick glance in the playpen showed she was still sleeping so he decided to let her be. If she didn’t want to bother him, he certainly wasn’t going to bother her. He turned on the TV and quickly hit the mute button before the volume woke her up. Finding the game, he settled in to watch. He’d miss the commentary but could get by without it. Still, Angela owed him big time.

***

The game had been on for an hour before the baby began to stir. Tim quickly moved to pick her up, hoping to avoid any crying fits. She didn’t smell, thank God. And she didn’t appear to be hungry. In fact, she settled down very quickly once she was in Tim’s arms. He guessed she just wanted to be held.

He looked her over and had to admit she was even cuter than in the few pictures he’d seen. She had a full of head of dark hair which was lucky. One of his nieces remained bald until she was over a year old. If he remembered correctly, Angela said baby Angie was nine months old. She appeared to be a little smaller than he remembered his nieces being at that age, but that didn’t necessarily mean anything. Some kids grew differently, and she certainly looked healthy. She had long legs. Would probably grow up to be a runner. Good for chasing down bad guys.

When she opened her eyes to stare at him, his heart almost stopped. Something about those eyes tugged at him, but he shook it off. Lots of kids had blue eyes. She kept her eyes on him and didn’t seem as though she wanted to go back to sleep. Just content to let him hold her.

So he settled back on the couch and held her against his chest so she could see the TV. “Okay, kid, since you were born here in LA and will be living here, it’s time you learned everything there is to know about being a Dodgers fan.” He turned the volume up slightly as he began his lessons by explaining the basics of baseball.

***

Angela was gone longer than the two and a half hours she promised, but thankfully back before Angie’s mother arrived. Despite Angela’s reassurances, he didn’t want to risk any awkward conversations.

“She’s been changed. You owe me double for that, by the way. And fed again. And she went back down for another nap. If I leave now, I can beat the traffic home before the next game starts.” Tim began walking towards the door.

“Thanks again, Tim. I know I owe you.” Angela said as she went to the playpen to be sure the baby was still sleeping.

“Yeah, well, you can tell Angie’s mother I said she has a really cute kid. And she’s very well behaved. She also agrees with me when the umpire makes a bad call.” Tim smiled as he walked out the door.

If only Tim had stayed a little while longer. Chose to watch the second game there. Insisted Angela buy him dinner as payment. Asked her how her court case went. If only he’d done anything to delay his leaving.

Because ten minutes after Tim left, Lucy pulled into Angela’s driveway.

Chapter Text

“If you’re so worried about your friend’s ability to be a good cop, why don’t you ask Grey to assign her to you?” Tim and Angela were walking through the halls of Mid-Wilshire on one of Tim’s favorite days of the year. Today, they’d be assigned new rookies fresh from the academy that they were meant to train for the next year. Or less if they managed to wash out. As many did under Tim’s tutelage. He had a gift for culling the weak from the herd. But Angela was threatening his good mood.

“Because Grey doesn’t play favorites. If I ask, he’ll make sure Lucy is assigned to you or Talia. I’m not worried about Talia, or Lucy’s ability to be a good cop. I know she’ll do great. I just don’t want you going all Tim on her, and scaring her off on her first day before she has a chance to prove herself.” She had tried to warn Lucy about Tim in case he did become her training officer, but the only way to really describe Tim’s training methods was to witness them first hand.

“I train my rookies in whatever way I think serves them best. It doesn’t matter if they are your friend or mother to your adorable godchild. No special treatment.” Since the day he’d babysat for little Angie, he’d only seen her in person once more. After learning that Angela would be babysitting the kid on her own day off, he made a visit. Gifting the child with a tiny Dodgers’ baseball cap and shirt. He didn’t know what her mother’s personal preference for baseball was, but someone had to make sure the kid was raised right.

“She made it through the academy, so I think your friend has earned the right to the full Bradford experience, don’t you?” He stopped in front of the men’s locker room. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some new rookies to scare.”

With that he walked inside leaving Angela to shake her head. She set off to find Talia. And pray Sergeant Grey would be kind enough to assign Lucy to anyone but Tim.

***

Lucy had been really grateful when she learned her assignment would be at the Mid-Wilshire precinct. She already had a friend there in Angela. Her fellow cadets and friends, Jackson West and John Nolan, also got the same assignments. They had made sort of an odd trio of friends: the overachiever hell bent on breaking all his dad’s records, the oldest rookie in LAPD history, and the single mom who couldn’t afford to spend any time or effort making friends outside of the academy. Luckily, both Jackson and Nolan had understood her desire to spend all her free time with her daughter instead of joining them as Jackson showed Nolan around town. Nolan had a child of his own and advised her to really cherish the moments she had with her kid now because before Lucy knew it Angie would be grown and heading off to college like Nolan’s son Henry. The thought of Angie entering kindergarten in a few years still scared her. She didn’t even want to think about college yet.

What had started off as a good day was quickly going downhill. Her car had broken down a couple of blocks short of the precinct. She had her “baby” for almost a decade, but when her actual baby had been born, she knew she needed to invest in a better car. Unfortunately, things like food, rent, and diapers had taken priority so she had to wait a little while longer before she could buy a new car. Thankfully, she had managed to drop Angie off at Maria’s before her car decided to quit on her. Now she just had to push her car the rest of the way to the station. She wanted to get there on time and make a good impression. A call for a tow truck could wait, and she could always get a ride home from Angela. Wouldn’t be the first time.

Glad her academy training had really built up the necessary muscles to keep pushing the car forward, Lucy didn’t bother stopping when a voice called out “Hey, mama. That’s a nice ride.”

“Yeah.”

“I think I’m gonna have to take it off your hands.”

At that Lucy finally did stop and take a look at the guy. “You’re... you’re going to steal my car? The one that broke down two blocks ago?!” She asked in disbelief. Was this creep for real?

“Yeah, maybe take you for a spin too.” He said as he lifted up his shirt, revealing a gun tucked into his pants.

Lucy smiled. She’d be making her first arrest before she even reported for work. Perhaps her first day would be a good one after all.

***

Tim listened as Sergeant Grey gave his traditional speech about the importance of being a cop to the new rookies. Having heard it for a dozen years, he knew it by heart. And it still rang true to him since the first day he heard it on his first day as a rookie.

Except this day was different. Because the words faded into the background when Grey instructed the rookies to stand up to face their fellow officers. He couldn’t believe it. Angela’s friend Lucy. The Lucy who was a new recruit. The Lucy who was a mother. Was his Lucy.

She hadn’t changed much in the almost two years since he’d seen her. Still beautiful. She was giving all her attention to the sergeant at the moment so she hadn’t seen him...yet.

He did a quick calculation in his head. Angela told him baby Angie would be celebrating her first birthday in a few days. She was excited with helping Lucy plan the party. One year and nine months meant that Lucy was already pregnant by the time they met. That probably explained why she quit her job. Perhaps she had gone back to the baby’s father, and he wanted her to quit for some reason. Or maybe she wanted to avoid the awkward conversation they’d be having when Tim did return to the bar. Not that it had obviously done her much good in the end. Angela never spoke about the baby’s father. Just that Lucy was a single mother.

He tuned back in just as Grey described Lucy as a hotshot who made her first arrest before work today. If a million different questions weren’t currently running through his mind, he’d be impressed. Not that he tell her that even if she was just any other rookie.

As luck would have it, Grey had just assigned Lucy as his new rookie. He schooled his features to his typical stoic expression just as she began turning around in her seat to look at him. If the surprise in her eyes and the color draining from her face was any indication, she definitely remembered him as much as he remembered her.

So much for avoiding awkward conversations.

***

Lucy couldn’t believe it. Tim... the Tim who is Angela’s friend. The very Tim she had tried to warn Lucy about as a training officer. Was the same Tim who is Angie’s father. And now her training officer. She had to tell him. She had always wanted to find him so she could tell him. She had even tried to practice a speech for if they ever met again. She just hadn’t expect to find him seated a few desks from her at roll call on her first day on the job.

No prepared speech could help her with that.

She didn’t even know if he remembered her. It had been almost two years. And he didn’t have the daily reminder of their first and only time together that she did. Didn’t help that his expression when he looked at her gave nothing away.

He also gave her no indication as he gruffly told her to pick up their gear and meet her where the cars were parked.

When she joined him on the top of the parking building where he was waiting by their car, she decided the first thing to do was to see if he did remember her. “Should we inform Sergeant Grey that we were...” She tried to think of the best way to describe what they were to each other back then. “Involved at one time.”

“Why? Because we hooked up one time almost two years ago and haven’t seen each other since?” Tim pretended like that night meant nothing to him. It obviously didn’t mean anything to her so he wasn’t sure why she would even want to discuss it. “It’s not going to affect the way I train you. Is it going to affect your performance, Boot?” He needed to start with the tough TO voice from the start. Let her know she wouldn’t be receiving any special treatment just because they had a past.

“No, sir.” If Tim wanted to be this way, then Lucy decided now was definitely not the time to tell him of his status as a father. Let them get through her first day of training, and then she could tell him everything.

“Good. Then let’s get started with the basics.”

***

After Tim had covered everything she needed to know about their gear and the shop, they had set out on patrol. The ride had been incredibly silent. Tim was in no mood to talk. Not that he usually ever was. And Lucy was still thinking about the best way to approach the subject of Angie. She might have been wrong about waiting to tell him. Especially if all this nervous energy would have negative consequences on how she performed her job.

Out of nowhere Tim asked, “So why do you want to be a cop?”

She hadn’t been expecting that. “Is this a trick question?”

“You want me to train you; I need to know why you’re in this car.” Tim answered in his no nonsense way.

Well, now was as good an opening as any for Lucy. “Because I wanted to be sure my daughter would be proud of me. I wanted her to have someone she could...” She was cut short from the rest she intended to say when Tim suddenly slammed on the breaks.

“I’ve been shot! Where are you, Boot?!” he yelled at her.

“What?” She had physical and emotional whiplash.

“I’m bleeding to death! You have to call for help. Where are you?” His tone brokered no argument.

She tried to look for a street sign as her seat belt hampered her ability to look around. “Where are you?!” he yelled again. This was not how she expected this moment to go.

“Now, I’m dead. And it’s your fault.” His voice was calmer, but in a way that said he wasn’t surprised by this turn of events. Betraying the image he invoked. “Get out.”

Was he serious? “What?!”

“Get out and walk. You can get back in when you know where you are.” He promised himself he wouldn’t treat her any differently from any other rookie, and he meant it. He could ignore the guilt that told him she wasn’t any other rookie.

Lucy got out of the car. At this moment, she didn’t want to be too close to him anyway. It wouldn’t be good to have her first day end in arrest for assaulting a police officer.

***

“You know where you are yet, Officer Chen?” She been walking along the shop for a couple of blocks now as she continued to look around. “No? Then, finish your story. Why you became a cop.” Tim wasn’t particularly interested in learning what she might have to say about having a kid with another guy, but he pushed forward. Always a glutton for punishment. “Here, I’ll do it for you. After your baby’s father ditched you and the kid, you wanted something to make you feel better so you decided becoming a cop was the best way to go.”

Lucy was torn between telling him off about just how wrong he was to make him feel guilty and selfishly wondering if maybe it would be better if he never knew the truth. She was prevented from making any decision by the honking of a horn from the truck behind their shop.

Tim exited the car. He wasn’t in the mood for this. Normally, he’d use this opportunity as another training method, but he figured he’d already pushed his luck with Lucy. And despite everything he’d done so far, he didn’t want her to get the wrong impression about him. So he calmly asked the man behind the wheel for his license and registration. And when the man replied in Spanish that he didn’t speak English, Tim repeated the question in Spanish. He then gave the man a warning for his vehicle violations and told him to avoiding honking at the police unless he needed help. All in perfect Spanish.

He looked up to see the surprise on Lucy’s face. “Guess we’ve both surprised each other in more than one way today. Get back in the shop.” He told her as he walked away.

If he only knew, Lucy thought as she followed him.

***

The rest of the morning consisted of chasing down a man who was high and destroying cars with a bat. She only had a brief moment of victory for herself in out running Nolan and tackling the man for the arrest before learning that he left his young son locked in a car somewhere in this city on a hot day.

She and Tim took the man back to the precinct to book him while Nolan & Bishop and Angela & Jackson helped search for the kid. The relief she felt when they radioed in that the kid had been found alive must have been evident on her face because Tim commented, “Nothing like that would ever happen to your kid.”

“What?”

Tim looked up from his paperwork. “I’m sure you’re a good mom . You’d never leave your kid locked in a car so you don’t have to worry about that happening to her.”

“Thanks.” She was surprised by the compliment. “I just have to worry about every other danger out there.”

“Yeah, I don’t envy you that,” Tim said as he walked away.

One step forward. Two steps back.

***

After lunch, Tim drove them to a liquor store. “I’ve decided on your punishment.”

“Are you going to tell me what it is?”

“I’m more of a show you kind of guy.”

Lucy’s traitorous brain flashed back to the many ways Tim enjoyed showing her exactly how interested he was in her that night at the bar. She shook herself out of her thoughts. She had to focus on passing Tim’s latest test if she had any hope of proving herself as a cop.

Apparently he wanted her to search a drug dealer. Ghosthead, as Tim called him, was not cooperative. She fought him off, headbutted him, kicked his feet out from under him, and kicked him back down before finally flipping him over to make the arrest.

“That was my punishment?!”

“Yep. Plus, I got to see if you could handle yourself so it’s really a twofer.” He helped her pick up Ghosthead to escort him back to the shop. “When you’re telling this story in lock up, you might want to leave out the part where you got your ass kicked by a girl.”

As they were about to put him in the shop, a blonde woman came running out of the store demanding they let the guy go.

Upon seeing her, Tim appeared stricken with surprise, disbelief and worry. It was the most emotion Lucy had seen on his face all day.

“Isabel? Isabel, it’s me. It’s Tim.” Though Tim had never mentioned his wife’s name when they meant, Lucy knew immediately by the way he talked to her that the blonde was indeed her.

She tried to give him privacy though she was desperate to listen in on everything. Despite what he had already shared with her as a stranger, he probably wasn’t as eager to share it with his new rookie. She had heard Isabel ask for money which Tim handed over before she ran off again.

Before climbing back into the car, Tim told her to let the guy go. Lucy opted not to put up too much of a fuss about since she knew Tim was hurting.

As she climbed in the shop, she gave Tim a minute to finish composing himself before saying anything. “So that was your wife.”

“Yeah. I haven’t seen her since she left. Since before...” He didn’t need to finish his sentence. She knew he meant since before they’d hooked up a year after she had left. So that meant she’d be gone almost three years now. Three years and Isabel’s abandonment still had that kind of affect on Tim.

“I won’t tell anyone.” She wouldn’t. She hadn’t even told Angela all she knew about Tim from when they’d met at the bar. Figuring all his personal issues weren’t her place to tell. Though in hindsight if she had, Angela would have put two and two together; and things would be very different for them right now. Nothing she could do about it now though.

“You’re damn right you won’t.” Tim had closed back up. And though Lucy was hurt, she knew better than to push him right now.

Bishop’s voice came across the radio informing them they had a possible address for the subject of a BOLO Sergeant Grey had informed them about earlier. Tim radioed back that they were responding, and so they were on their way. Right now the job was what was important.

***

Tim had pulled into the alley behind the address when Lucy recognized Selby. Upon Tim’s order, she called in backup and airship.

Lucy attempted to move forward toward the suspect as they got out of the car, but Tim stopped her. “No, no, no. You stay here until we clear them from that car.”

Tim ordered the suspects to step away from their car and show them their hands. Selby attempted to delay his request which Tim knew meant trouble so he removed his gun from his holster. He ordered Selby again.

And then shots were being fired at them as Lucy and Tim returned fire. Only a few rapid fire gunshots had gone off before Lucy heard glass breaking. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Tim fall to the ground. As her own window had been shot out, she quickly moved to the back of the shop for cover. Peering around to the driver side, she saw Tim lying on the ground bleeding. She reached for her radio and informed that an officer was down, shots were fired, and the address.

She returned fire to give herself cover as she reached for Tim. Pulling him back behind the shop with her and out of harm’s way. She attempted to put pressure on his wound to stop the bleeding, but he ordered her to keep shooting back. She could follow that part of his order, and compartmentalize the part about not worrying about him.

As she was shooting, one of Selby’s shots had hit the engine of their car and started a fire. She caught sight of Nolan & Bishop engaging the suspect, and used his distraction to return back to Tim. Reaching under his arms, she pulled him away from the burning car. As he gripped his side where he was bleeding, she covered his hands with her own. Their fingers intertwined, and she feared letting his hand go.

Thankfully, the ambulance had arrived. She had wanted to stay with Tim. She knew Bishop and Nolan were chasing after Selby. But Tim had ordered, “You go get him, Boot!” It wouldn’t do any good to argue with him. The job was to chase down the bad guys. Fear and worry had to be pushed aside to accomplish that goal.

***

After shift had ended for the day, Angela congratulated Lucy on making it through her first day as a rookie. If she wondered why Lucy wanted to know about Tim’s condition, she didn’t say anything. However, Angela narrowed her eyes when Lucy asked her to drop her by the hospital and watch Angie for her while she visited Tim. She knew Lucy to be a very empathetic person so she accepted it as a rookie concerned about her TO.

The nurse on duty in the ICU allowed her to visit with Tim after Lucy explained she was the mother of his child. Guess that fulfilled the family requirement. Now if only it were that easy to tell the father.

When Lucy walked into Tim’s unit and saw him sleeping, she almost walked back out. But she steeled her courage and continued inside the room. She had made a promise to herself that if she ever saw Angie’s father again, she would tell him about his daughter. She owed it to both of them. They both deserved the chance to know one another.

Lucy had just reached the bed, when Tim’s eyes drifted open. At her questioning glance, he smirked. “Light sleeper. Comes with the job. You’ll learn soon.”

She smiled at that. Came with being a parent too. At least he'd be prepared. Taking the seat next to his bed, she eyed the heart monitor. If she sent him into a heart attack with the news, he’d be in the perfect place for it. “You know, almost a year ago to the day, I was at this very same hospital. I was without any family; and scared out of my mind because I was in labor and the baby was coming a month early.”

She saw realization flicker in Tim’s eyes and heard the beeping of his monitor increase a little, but she pushed forward. “The one person I wanted to be with me more than anyone else couldn’t be. Because he had no idea he was about to be a father.”

“Lucy, I...”

She stopped him. “I’m not blaming you. You couldn’t have known. I’m not blaming myself either because there’s nothing I could have done. I just wanted you to know why I came here. I promised myself if I ever found you again, I’d give you the opportunity to know your daughter. I want that for her. I wanted that since the moment I learned I was pregnant.” She took out her phone to show him a photo of Angie that was her home screen.

Tim smiled at the photo. He remembered it as one Angela had shared. “I actually met her before. I babysat her once.” He had held her. Held his own daughter and never known it.

Lucy thought about it for a moment. Remembering all Angela had said about her friend who covered for her while she was at court. “The Dodgers hat was from you.” He smiled. She liked seeing his smile. Much better than the grumpy expression he had worn all day today. “You know, Angela told me that I might randomly meet you again. Never expected it to happen at roll call.” At that Tim let out a genuine laugh. Or as much as he could laugh without hurting his side too much. “I think the universe was always trying to unite the two of you.” If they considered that universe was also trying to reunite the two of them, neither of them commented on it.

“Will you tell me more about her?” Tim asked. He wanted to know everything.

Lucy smiled as she began telling Tim everything about their daughter starting with the day she was born. He drank in her every word with rapt attention.

Chapter Text

The following day when Tim was moved from Intensive Care to his own room, Sergeant Grey visited him after shift. He took a beat when he noticed Tim’s new rookie Officer Chen already occupied the room. He interrupted what appeared to be a discussion about Chen making plans to take her daughter to the beach. He didn’t know what surprised him more: that someone actually took Captain Anderson’s offer to visit with Bradford, that he was willingly spending time outside work with his new rookie, or that he seemed to actually enjoy listening to someone talk about their kid.

Grey had to clear his throat to get their attention. Chen startled but she didn’t leave the seat she occupied next to the bed. Bradford acknowledge him with a nod of his head and a “Sergeant.”

“I thought I’d see how you were recovering. It’s good to know not even a bullet can stop you.” He looked back and forth between his two officers. “However, I can come back later if you’d like.” The two quickly eyed each other, and their body language indicated they had something to say. Watching the silent communication between them as they decided who would be the first to talk; he was certainly interested in hearing whatever it was.

Tim had won or perhaps lost the silent coin toss. “Sir, Lucy... Officer Chen and I met before yesterday. Almost two years before actually. And I won’t go into the details, but the most important takeaway is we have a daughter together.”

That was definitely not what Grey expected to hear. “Let’s table the part about your daughter for now. Why didn’t the two of you inform me about a previous relationship immediately?”

Lucy piped up. “I wanted to, sir.” Tim’s sharp look in her direction could only be described as betrayal.

She stared back at him. “Well, I did.”

Tim rolled his eyes before continuing. “At the time, I didn’t realize how... significant the relationship is. I instructed her not to say anything to you. I take full responsibility. She was only following my orders.”

Opting to prolong their fear of punishment to keep them on edge, “And just how... significant is this relationship?” Grey asked purposefully mirroring Tim's language.

Lucy took the lead this time. “We’re going to co-parent our daughter. What Tim hasn’t told you, sir, is that he didn’t know about her until yesterday.”

Well, that explained the absolute zero communication about her. He knew Tim wasn’t a man who liked to share details about his personal life, but he figured the guy would make an exception for his kid.

The two officers had been through physical hell in the last twenty-four hours. And now apparently, they’d been going through emotional hell as well. He decided to take pity on them. “Seeing as Bradford, you’re recovering from a gunshot wound; and Chen, you saved his life yesterday; I will let the two of you go with only a verbal reprimand. But should your relationship status change again, I want to be informed before you start shift that day.”

The two immediately answered with a joint “Yes, sir.” Visibly relieved to receive no further punishment.

Though he trusted Tim to remain fair, he wouldn’t compromise Chen’s training in the eyes of others. And as a father, he knew the difficulties of raising a child even without the added stress that would surely come if the personal and professional were to mix together. They might both claim this front of being just co-parents, but in watching them, Grey knew it was only a matter of time before that changed. He’d do what he could to limit the backlash should there by any questions of favoritism when the possibility became certainty. “Bradford, as soon as you’re cleared for duty, I’ll be assigning Officer West as your new rookie. Officer Chen, you’ll be assigned to Officer Lopez. I trust there will be no arguments.” His tone indicated there was no room for discussion.

“None, sir.” Again spoken in unison. He loved it when his officers knew he meant business.

“Good. Then I’ll see you both on your next shifts.” As Grey made to leave the room, he turned back to look at them as if he forgot to say something. “Oh, and Tim,” He paused for dramatic effect. The other occupants nervously stared at him. This was too easy. “Welcome to fatherhood.” He smiled before walking out the door.

As Tim and Lucy relaxed in the previously tension filled room, they swore they could hear Grey laughing down the hall.

***

Despite Grey’s intimidating ways, he allowed Lucy a personal day --- under the excuse of a family emergency --- so she could help Tim when he was released from the hospital. Together, she and Tim had decided that Angie should officially meet her father in a more comfortable environment than the cold, sterilized atmosphere of a hospital room. She would help him get settled at his house, and then bring Angie over to visit.

As fate would have it, today was Angie’s first birthday. While Lucy had made plans to celebrate the occasion on a different day so Lucy’s friends and Angela’s family could be there, she could think of no better gift for her daughter than to officially meet her father on her birthday.

Which is how Lucy found herself in Tim’s hospital room, staring at his naked chest while he put on his shirt. He’d been decent enough to put on his pants in the bathroom, but apparently he wasn’t done torturing her after her first day on the job. He smirked as he caught her staring.

Not to let him think he unnerved her, she lifted an eyebrow in challenge. “What? There is a reason we share a daughter, after all.”

He laughed but before Lucy could think too much about how much she enjoyed the sound, the nurse entered his room pushing a wheelchair.

“Check out time, Officer.”

“Yeah. No. I’m walking out of here.”

“Hospital policy.”

“I don’t care.”

Lucy had had enough. “Tim, just get in the damn chair. The sooner you do, the sooner we can get you home.”

“You should listen to your wife, sir. She makes a good point.” The nurse added.

Whether Tim knew he was fighting a losing battle, his desire to see Angie as soon possible, or he just wanted to avoid the awkward situation the nurse had just caused; Tim got in the chair.

The nurse allowed Lucy to take control of the wheelchair. She leaned forward to whisper in Tim’s ear. “Looks like I’m the one driving now.”

***

After Lucy made sure Tim didn’t need any more of her immediate help, she picked up Angie from the sitter’s and drove straight back.

When Tim opened the door, his focus went right to his daughter. His eyes looking her over in both awe and fear that she might disappear. Lucy couldn’t blame him. He looked like he wanted to reach for her, but he restrained himself. Instead he stepped aside to allow them to enter his home. He took the diaper bag Lucy was carrying and placed it within reach just next to the door.

“I don’t want you to open your stitches, so it might be best if you sat down first before you hold her.” That was mostly true, but she also wanted to give Tim the chance to compose himself.

“Right.” He followed her as they sat down on his sofa.

Lucy sat with Angie in her lap facing Tim. “Angie, sweetie, this is your daddy.”

Tim held his breath. Logically, he knew he was a father now, but that was the first time it really hit him. He was someone’s dad. This little girl was really his. He tentatively reach a hand out to her. Not wanting to scare her. He had no idea if she even remembered him from the two times they’d seen each other before.

She reached out her own hand to grab his. They were engaged in a cute, childlike interpretation of a handshake. Then she dropped his hand to open her arms wide. The universal children’s body language indicating she wanted to be held. He glanced at Lucy who encouraged him with a small smile. He leaned forward to carefully pull Angie into his lap. When she settled against him, he took his time just holding her. Smelling her hair. Listening to her breathing. Feeling like he’d just been given the best gift in the world.

He looked up to see Lucy smiling at them with tears in her eyes. Careful to not disturb Angie or lose his protective cradle of her, he took hold of Lucy’s hand. They could all use some comfort in this emotional moment.

***

After a couple of hours bonding with his daughter, Angie grew tired from the excitement so Lucy set up the portable playpen in Tim’s living room.

While Angie napped, Tim and Lucy discussed custody plans. Lucy would bring Angie over to Tim’s whenever they weren’t on shift so that Angie could adapt to spending long hours with him. The hope was that soon Tim would be able to watch Angie on his day off if Lucy had a shift when Angie no longer viewed him as the strange, new man in her life. If things went as well as they were going today, it wouldn’t take long. Tim mentioned the guest bedroom Lucy could use if she wanted to spend weekends here as Angie acclimated to the new environment. She thanked him but made no commitment either way. Which he understood. A bit too early to ask her to sort of move in with him. Whether they already had a child together or not. Still, he’d leave the offer standing. He already started thinking about plans to turn the third bedroom, which was currently a makeshift gym, into a nursery for Angie. He could move all his gym equipment into the garage. Easiest sacrifice he would ever make.

“So Angie’s birthday party is soon?” Tim asked.

“Yeah, I was going to tell you about it today...wait, how do you already know?” Lucy only had to think about it for a moment before the answer came to her. “Angela invited you.”

“Yeah, I think she’s still trying to play matchmaker. She doesn’t know yet how successful she was.” He looked over to where Angie was sleeping.

“And were you planning on going?”

“Already bought her a gift.”

She shook her head in amazement. “If things hadn’t happened like they did, then I guess the party would have at least been very exciting.”

“Too bad. That would have been quite the show for our friends and coworkers.” He joined her in being astonished by life’s twisted methods of reuniting them.

“Speaking of the party. There’s still so much to do. It’s not like I was going all out since she won’t remember any of it anyway, but I still have to get supplies and order the cake.” Lucy thought about all the errands she needed to run and worried if she would have time given her shifts between now and then.

“Let me help. Plan it. Get supplies. Pay for it. Anything.” Tim was quick to add.

“Tim...”

“Please.” He needed to do something. And Lucy could see that in his eyes. She didn’t think he was the type to say please either so this must be really important to him.

“It’s mostly already planned. But you still need to rest, and I don’t want you running around for supplies. So if you still want to help pay...”

“Yes.” He interrupted her before she could finish.

“Okay. But that doesn’t help me find the time I’ll need. I guess I could make time after I get off shift tomorrow.” She mentally calculated the time it would take to get from the station to the store.

“Or you could do everything you need to get done today while I watch Angie,” Tim offered.

“I don’t know...” Lucy hesitated.

“If you’re not comfortable...” He tried not to look hurt by the thought.

Lucy cut him off. “No, Tim, it’s not that, I swear. You’re her father. I trust you with her more than anyone. But you just got out of the hospital. You need to be careful.”

“I’ll be fine. She weighs less than what I lift on a daily basis.” Angie began to wake so Tim went over to the playpen to pick her up. Holding her against his good side, he turned back to Lucy. “See?”

“Show off.” Lucy gave in. “Fine. I shouldn’t be gone more than a couple of hours. I’ll text when I’m on my way back and if I get delayed. You should have everything you need in her diaper bag.”

He walked her to the door, handed her some money for the supplies, and then got his spare key he kept in a table next to the front door. “So you don’t have to ring the doorbell and risk waking her in case she’s napping when you get back.”

The thought of how quickly she already had his child and been given the key to his house when she had only known him collectively for less than a week crossed her mind, but she decided not to dig too deep.

Instead she smiled her thanks, leaned over to kiss Angie on her cheek and give her a half hug. “Okay, baby, be good for Daddy, and I’ll be back real soon.” As she leaned back,she caught Tim’s eye and realized how close she had leaned into his space as well. A charge filled the air. The knowledge of how intimate and domestic the situation was as they held each other’s gaze. Until they both awkwardly looked away, and the moment ended.

“I’ll see you soon.” Lucy said as she walked out the door.

Mentally shaking himself out of what just happened, Tim turned back toward the sofa. Talking to Angie as he sat down. “Baseball season is over, but football season has already begun. And in this house we pull for the Rams.” He picked up the remote to start the last game he recorded. “Would you like to hear about how Daddy played football against Eric Weddle?”

***

Lucy was able to get all her errands done and bought groceries so she could make Tim and her dinner. He needed to eat healthy while he recovered.

As she walked in the door, she caught sight of Tim asleep on the sofa. Angie carefully snuggled against his chest, avoiding his wounded side, with his arms wrapped protectively around her. The image made Lucy’s heart melt. She carefully set down the groceries and got out her phone. Snapping a picture without disturbing either of them. ‘Definite lock screen material,’ she thought as she looked over the photo.

When she was sure both were still sound asleep, she picked up the groceries and moved toward the kitchen. Careful to be as quiet as possible, she began making dinner.

A few hours later, she turned to the sound of Tim walking into the kitchen. “Sorry. Did I wake you? I tried to be quiet.”

“No. Well, not really. The smell of whatever you’re cooking did. Smells really good.”

“Thanks. Family recipe. It’s good for your blood pressure and reduces stress. But don’t worry, I added some pork because I know your lunch order.”

Tim gave a small laugh. “Thank you, but you didn’t really have to do this.”

Lucy shrugged. “I wanted to, and I wasn’t sure how often you get a good, home cooked meal.”

“I’ll have you know, I’ve been cooking for myself for years. It’s not all takeout and bachelor inspired frozen meals.”

“I’ll take your word for it.”

“Or I could cook for you sometime,” Tim offered. “ Just to prove it,” he added quickly not wanting her to feel pressured to accept. Or what it might mean for them if she did.

“I’d like that.” Wanting to move past the idea that they were skirting around the concept of date like behavior, she asked,“ How’s Angie?”

“She didn’t wake up when I moved. All the excitement of the day must have worn her out.” He moved closer as he was was curious to inspect the soup she was making.

“Hopefully that will last through the night. I noticed you didn’t stir when I came in. So much for your cop ears.” She teased him.

“Yeah, well, as much as I already love her, she can still be a handful. Really glad my sister insisted I learn how to change a diaper.” Tim joked.

“Tell me about it.” She loved Angie endlessly but sometimes a nap went a long way to ensuring that love. “This is done if you’re hungry.”

“Yeah,” he grabbed some bowls and spoons. They took their soup to eat in the living room where they could watch over their daughter.

As they ate, Tim complimented her on the meal and inquired more about it, having never had lotus root soup before. That led to a discussion about the recipe being passed down by her family which led to an uneasy discussion about said family’s involvement in Angie’s life.

“Every couple of months I send my parents an email with updates about Angie and photos of her. And then about a week later, I get a passive aggressive email from my mother saying she could get Angie into some of the best preschools in the city if only I’d do as they ask and finish my degree.” Shaking her head at her mother’s lack of subtlety. “I stopped bothering to tell them anything about my life when I told them I was entering the academy, and they sent me books on the negative effects police have on those in the mental health community. Angie hasn’t received so much as one baby gift from them, but I’ve got an entire section of Barnes & Noble dedicated to telling me I’m wasting my life and disappointing them again.” She’s not sure what hurts more the pain of their rejection of her or their complete inability to view their grandchild as anything more than a bargaining tool. “I know the work we do isn’t perfect. But it’s important. And if I want to make the changes the system needs, then I need to be in the system. I keep hoping one day they’ll put aside their beliefs to get to know their granddaughter. Maybe I’m just being naive. I don’t know why I even bother.”

Tim doesn’t understand why Lucy’s parents wouldn’t want to know Angie either. Why they would essentially abandon their daughter and granddaughter. He’d give anything to change the last two years. Go back and ask Lucy for her number that first night. Track her down after she quit her job. But he can’t. Her parents had the chance to know Angie from the start, and they squandered it. Lucy didn’t fail them; they failed her.

But he knows a thing or two about still wanting a parent’s love despite having every reason to walk away from them. “I get it. My father’s temper was always directed at me. Most of the time I was glad for it. Meant he stayed away from my mom and my sisters. I swore if I ever became a father,” he pauses to look over at Angie who had woken up and begun playing with some of her toys. “I’d never do anything to hurt my kid.” He won’t. If there is only one promise in this world that he can keep, it’s that one.

“But there were times, far and few in between, where he could actually seem like he could be a good father. Mostly memories from when I was real little. Playing catch, watching games on TV, a couple of good birthday parties. And I’d think why can’t he be like that all the time? What can I do to make him like me? Make him be nice to me. Make him not get mad. Took me a long time to realize it wasn’t me. Then it was just about doing whatever I could to escape him. Even for a little bit. Football, the army, anything. But I can’t completely. I still invited him to my wedding. Mostly to appease my mom. That was a disaster.” His dad making Isabel cry at their wedding should have been his first clue that maybe he wasn’t cut out for marriage. He couldn’t even protect his wife on day one.

“I know you want your parents to love you the way you deserve. And I hope for your sake that one day they realize how much they are missing out.” He’s only known her for a few days, but he’s never been more certain that Lucy Chen is the most caring person he’s ever met. And the most deserving of love. “I think the only thing we can control is how much Angie knows we love her. That we never treat her like our parents treat us.”

Lucy took in everything Tim said. Their experiences were somewhat different. His being more about physical abuse than emotional. But that didn’t make either any less valid. In the end, they both experienced the emotional trauma that came from bad parenting. They both might never fully escape the repercussions of their parents’ actions, but they would make damn sure their daughter would never experience the same. Would never feel unloved.

“Thank you.” She wasn’t sure what she could say, but she wanted Tim to know she was grateful. Understood how much it took for him to talk about it. And from the sad smile on his face, he knew what she wanted to express. Sensing that they both needed to move on from the intensity of the moment, she pivoted the conversation to something else he mentioned. “So you played football?’

Grateful for the excuse to talk about anything else, he replied, “Yeah. I was pretty good at it.” He didn’t think he ever had a career for it which is why he went into the army, but he had his moments. “And what did you do in high school?” He tried not to think about how that was only a decade ago for her. Back when he had just become a P2.

“I was part of the musical theater crowd. If we had gone to school together, we probably wouldn’t have hung out.” Ignoring the fact that he was well out of high school when she attended, she definitely was not known to hang out with any football players outside of the classroom.

“So you sing, dance, or act?”

“I sing. I still dance a little. Mostly for myself. And I did act in a few high school productions. But mostly I was in it to sing.” Nowadays, she mostly sung to herself in the shower or in the car and, of course, she sung lullabies to Angie.

“Can I hear some?” Tim didn’t sing at all. Well, that wasn’t true. He sang when he was absolutely alone. And that was as much for everyone else’s benefit as it was his. No one wanted to hear him sing. If Lucy had even the smallest bit of talent, he hoped Angie took after her.

“Really kind of putting me on the spot here. I don’t even know what to sing.” She knows she has a good voice, but sometimes it’s hard to put herself out there. Especially in front of someone who has never heard her sing before. It's not like karaoke where the crowd can drown out the idea of one person judging her.

At that moment Angie started to cry, so Lucy picks her up to keep her calm. As Tim watches the two of them, a thought forms in his head. “You could sing her Happy Birthday. She should get to have a little celebration on her actual birthday. Actually, hold on.” He gets up from the sofa, and Lucy watches him walk down the hall toward the bedrooms. She only has a few minutes to wonder what he has planned before he returns with something hidden behind his back.

Tim brings forth a stuffed animal. As he presents it to Angie, Lucy can see its a Los Angeles Rams mascot by the small jersey it wears. Laughing at the visual of her daughter taking the stuffed animal from Tim and promptly biting down on one of the soft horns of its head; she commemorates the moment with a low, sweet version of Happy Birthday. When she looks up from where she has been watching Angie enjoy her present, she sees Tim smiling at her. She hold his gaze until he turns away seemingly embarrassed.

To avoid another awkward moment, Lucy looks out the window. She can tell it will be getting dark soon. “We should probably get going before traffic gets bad.” She doesn’t really want to leave, but she doesn’t want to make Tim feel bad about suggesting it. And she has stayed way longer than she intended.

“Right.” Tim considers how needy he would sound if he asked Lucy to stay longer. Its been far too long since his house felt this comfortable. Since he enjoyed spending time with others here. But he’s already asked for too much. Lucy probably only expected to ease him into fatherhood today. “Before you go, I want you to have this.” He hands her a piece of folded paper.

Lucy can tell just by looking at the paper that it’s a check. She doesn’t want to take it. Doesn’t even want to look at the amount. “Tim, that’s not why I told you.”

“I know. But I want to do this. I want to help you and Angie in every way I can. Emotionally and financially.” He needs her to understand how important this is to him. He doesn’t shirk his responsibilities. “Use it for whatever you need. Get a better car.”

“How do you know I need a new car?”

“Angela told me about how you made that arrest that first day.”

Her annoyance at her friend is outweighed by the fact that Tim was interested enough in Lucy’s arrest to ask. Despite saying he didn’t care at the time.

“If you don’t want to spend it, then put towards a college fund for Angie. But this isn’t going to be the last time I offer to help. If I had known about Angie from the beginning, I would have helped you all along. And you would have accepted, right?” He stares her down, daring her to deny the truth.

Lucy looks at her daughter, and then back at Tim. Those same blue eyes looking at her with such emotional honesty. She knew she was beat, but she didn’t have to like it. “You’re a pain in my ass when you’re being all logical, you know that?”

Tim nods his head, accepting her judgment of him. “I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure the two of you want for nothing. That’s my job.”

Said with such utter conviction, Lucy had no doubt that not only would Tim put everything he had into caring for their daughter; but he might also care for her own well-being as well.

Chapter Text

If Lucy had any hope that she could ease into telling Angela about Tim being Angie’s father, she was sorely mistaken. Once she climbed into the shop, she hadn’t even been able to put her seat belt on before Angela demanded, “What did Tim do?”

“What?” Lucy had gone over in her head the many ways she could start this conversation, but never did any of her plans start this way.

“I didn’t request a rookie switch. I know with absolute certainty that West didn’t want a new T.O. Tim has never backed down from a challenge. That only leaves you making the request to Grey. So I repeat: what did Tim do?” Angela was formidable. If there was one thing Lucy knew for certain now, it was that Angela wouldn’t go easy on her just because they were friends. That was good. She wanted to prove herself. She needed to prove herself.

“Tim didn’t do anything,” Lucy insisted. Okay, that wasn’t exactly true. He did do something. In that he got her pregnant. But she was as much involved in that as he was. She wouldn’t let him take all the credit for their daughter.

Sensing that Angela wasn’t going to back down, and now was as good as time as any; Lucy let it all out in the open. “He is Angie’s father.”

“Who? Tim? Tim Bradford?” Well, that certainly threw Angela for a loop. “You’re telling me that Tim is the mystery guy you had a one night stand with? How?” She paused for only a second. “I mean I know how, and I don’t want all the details, but how did you even meet him?”

“Um... apparently you had set him up on a blind date. It was at a bar that I used to work at. We met. We talked. One thing led to another. And then well, you know the rest.” Lucy finished quickly wanting to get the interrogation over with. Angela would make a fine detective one day.

Angela thought back to that time. She had only ever managed to get Tim to agree to a date once. With her friend Gretchen. After which he threatened retribution if she even brought up the subject of him dating again. Though he had seem happier after that night. For a couple of weeks after anyway. For a short while he seemed like the old Tim. The Tim she knew before his marriage fell apart. But then he reverted back to his grumpy self. Now Angela knew Lucy was the reason for the brief change. “I knew he was too happy for the date to have gone as bad as he made it seem.”

“To be fair, it was a bad date.” Lucy couldn’t stop the smile on her face. “However, afterwards, it certainly got better.”

Angela laughed. “You know what this means, right?” When Lucy shook her head confused, Angela stated, “It means that I truly am the best godmother ever. Your kid wouldn’t exist if not for me.”

Lucy rolled her eyes. “I think Tim and I had a rather large part to play.”

“Sure, believe what you want.” Angela stated as she finally started the car and drove them out of the garage. “But this also means I was right all along. I knew you two would be great together.”

Lucy chose not to say anything. She didn’t know what fate had in store for her and Tim. For now, her only concern was ensuring that they got along well for their daughter’s sake.

***

After Grey’s “So You Got Shot” speech, the welcome back applause from his fellow officers, and some good-natured teasing in the form of an inflatable donut cushion from Angela and Talia (Really? It’s not like he was shot in the ass.); Tim was ready to get back to work. And he could think of no better way than training his new, more permanent rookie. He had no plans to go easy on Jackson West just because his father is Commander West of Internal Affairs. Being a legacy didn’t mean anything if he didn’t have the skills to back it up.

Except the day wasn’t going as Tim expected. While working with West wasn’t nearly as awkward as that first day with Lucy, the rookie had already passed his first test. He didn’t hesitate when Tim pulled the “I’ve been shot” routine. Breaking this boot’s spirit was going to be harder than Tim imagined.

Next, they had a call about a guy trapped behind a wall in the bank. Tim had attempted a few swings with the Halligan to break through before the pain became too much. Jackson had to finish the job, but if he noticed anything was amiss, then he wisely chose not to comment. Tim wasn’t in the mood to be lectured by his rookie.

However, the day really took a turn for the worse when he got a phone call he dreaded. Normally, he didn’t take personal calls while on the job. The only calls allowed through his Do Not Disturb settings would be Sergeant Grey, various hospitals in the city when he prepared for the worst after Isabel left, and now Lucy. He hoped there wasn’t a problem with Angie.

The call was from the hospital. Isabel had overdosed. She was okay, but she nearly died. He was about to inform West they were taking a detour to the hospital when he had a realization. His first concern had been for Angie. From now on, she would always be his priority. As much as he worried and still cared for Isabel, he had to put his daughter first. He couldn’t involve himself in Isabel’s troubles any longer. Not that she’d probably thank him for it anyway. But even if she did want him back, he couldn’t take the risk that something bad might happen to Angie because he let himself get involved with Isabel again.

It might seem strange how quickly he’d taken to being a father; but he already knew that faced with a choice, he’d choose his daughter every time. He had missed out on a year of her life. A year he couldn’t get back. He couldn’t waste time wondering if he could make the adjustment to fatherhood. He just had to jump into it, and hope he did his best. Thankfully, life in the army and over a decade of being a cop had prepared him for handling intense situations with little certainty as to the outcome. His daughter would put him through more worry than anything he faced in life before.

And while he knew Lucy wasn’t the type to keep him from his daughter, he didn’t want to give her any reason to regret letting him into Angie’s life. While in the hospital, he made the decision to prove to Lucy that the person she’d seen on her first day as a rookie wasn’t his true self. That was just a persona he used to train her, and because he needed to put some distance between them. He wanted her to know the real him was someone she could rely on. Someone she could talk to. Someone she could trust to be a good father to Angie.

So instead he decided to put the call behind him and get back to work. But he behaved a little smarter now. When a Drunk and Disorderly call came in that involved a biker gang, he allowed West to deal with a prospect who was eager to earn his top rocker by assaulting a police officer. Turns out West could handle himself in a fight which boded well for him.

Perhaps this day wouldn’t be a total shit show.

***

“Tell me again why you didn’t let Jackson climb the truck trailer to get the drop on the suspect?” Lucy asked as she removed Tim’s bandage which he was currently bleeding through. They had gone back to his place to have a family dinner with Angie. When she noticed that Tim was clutching his side, she demanded he let her see his wound.

“Because he didn’t offer.” Tim stated as though it was hard to imagine anyone else would have done differently.

“You could have ordered him. I would have thought you liked doing that.” Despite her tone, she was very carefully checking his stitches. Luckily, he hadn’t managed to pull any of them so they wouldn’t be taking a trip to the emergency room. She lingered a little as her fingers lightly touched his side, but he wasn’t complaining.

“Maybe I was just surprised that he passed every test I gave him today. Hard to imagine some rookies can do that.” He knew he was pushing his luck. Especially when he was literally vulnerable to an attack by Lucy right now.

That’s why it was good for him that Lucy refused to take the bait. “Too bad he failed the test where he allowed his T.O. to be a stubborn jackass who is now bleeding all over his sofa.” If she used a little too much force when she applied the clean bandage, so be it.

Tim grunted through the pain. “You might have a point.”

Lucy started clearing the trash and putting his first aid kit back in order as she regretfully watched Tim put his shirt back on. “I thought you were going to take it easy.”

“I was. I just...it’s been a long day.” He settled back against the sofa trying to get comfortable.

“You want to talk about it?”

He didn’t, but he didn’t want Lucy to leave either. “Not really. How was your day?”

Even though she could tell Tim was holding back, she knew pushing him would just make him more reluctant to talk. “I told Angela about us. Not that there is an us. Just about you being Angie’s father. I plan on telling Jackson and Nolan the next time I see them.”

“Good. I should probably inform Talia. That is if Angela hasn’t already.” His friend could be a terrible gossip when she wanted to be. And he knew some teasing was inevitably coming his way. The only reason he had avoided it for now was because they hadn’t crossed paths today.

“Other than that, nothing really noteworthy. Oh, except we arrested a former USC basketball player. Do you remember Sue Cliffords?”

“Yeah, it’s a shame what happened to her knee. What’d you arrest her for?”

“Armed robbery. Well, sort of armed robbery. The gun was fake.” Lucy considered something Angela had mentioned earlier. “Is it true one out of three rookies washes out?”

Tim realized he needed to get use to Lucy’s quick changes in subjects. She was prone to start conversations when he had no idea they were going to happen. Angie only knew a couple of short words, but with his luck she’d eventually become a talker like her mother. “Yeah, but I wouldn’t let that worry you. My money is on Nolan.”

“I don’t know if it’s sweet that you have faith in me or mean that you think my friend is going to fail.”

“Take it from a guy whose had eleven rookies wash out; I know what it takes to make a good cop. I may have only worked with you for a day, but I saw your determination. You have no quit in you.”

Lucy smiled shyly at the compliment. “Some days I wonder if I doing the right thing.” She looked over to where Angie was currently playing with an assortment of stuffed animals. “If I should be picking a safer job.”

“Cops have kids all the time. I guess we just have figure it out the best way we can.” Tim thought about his earlier phone call. “We have to make a lot of tough decisions.”

Lucy could tell there was more he needed to say so she patiently remained quiet. Letting him decide when and if he wanted to continue. Her silence paid off.

“I got a call from the hospital. Isabel was brought in because she overdosed.” At Lucy’s worried expression, he quickly added, “She’s fine. They said she was fine.”

That confused her. “You didn’t go see her?”

Tim shook his head. “I thought about it, but then I thought about Angie. Getting involved with Isabel again is too complicated. Even though I just want to help her. I can’t take that risk. I promise you I won’t do anything that would endanger our daughter.”

Lucy didn’t like the idea that Tim felt he needed to cut off one part of his life for another. She knew he could be capable of separating Angie from Isabel’s troubles. It was not as if he’d let Isabel back into his life one day, and she’d be babysitting for them the next. But Lucy would be lying if she said the thought that something could go wrong didn’t terrify her. “Addiction doesn’t just destroy the addict; it destroys the family,” she stated softly.

Tim silently agreed. They both remained quiet for a few minutes before Lucy’s curiosity got the better of her. “Did you ever think about having children before? With Isabel?”

“We discussed it before we got married. She wanted to be further along in her career first. She got into undercover work as soon as she could.”

“She was a cop?”

“We met in the academy.” He took a moment before continuing. “I thought she was having an affair. Staying out late. Making excuses. I didn’t realize it was the drugs until the hook was in deep.” It was for the best that they never had kids. If everything still turned out the way it did for them, then he was glad kids weren’t involved. He was adamant that he’d do anything to protect Angie from that kind of life.

Lucy didn’t know what to say that could comfort him. So she just took his hand and held it for a while. Just to let him know she was there for him. Grateful that he willingly accepted that solace from her.

***

The next morning before shift began, Lucy met Jackson and Nolan in the break room to tell them about Tim being Angie’s father.

“Tim ‘Scary T.O.’ Bradford is Angie’s father?” Jackson couldn’t hold back his surprise.

Lucy rolled her eyes. “He wasn’t scary when I met him. And at the time I didn’t know I’d become a police officer. Let alone know he was one. Besides he’s your T.O. now.”

“Oh, so that explains why... it wasn’t...” Jackson stopped himself.

“It wasn’t what?” Lucy asked.

“Don’t worry about it.” Jackson quickly moved on. “So Tim’s a father now? Maybe that will mellow him out.”

“Or the stress of being a new father will make him even grumpier and more on edge,” Nolan interjected. He did have experience. Even he wasn’t immune to what sleepless nights could do.

That thought worried Jackson. He turned to face Lucy. “Right. Plan B. How soon can you get Tim back in your bed?”

“Jackson!”

“What? I’m just saying he could probably use a stress reliever. And I’m sure there will be benefits for you too.”

Not bothering to dignify that with a response, Lucy turned away and walked out the door with Jackson following. “Think of all the good you’ll be doing,” he yelled down the hall.

***

Tim pulled the shop into a deserted lot under the freeway. As he and Jackson got out of the car he informed the rookie, “Had us attached to a raid. Figured you didn’t get a round off the day I got shot so you’d be itching to throw some bullets around.”

He introduced Jackson to Detective Singh. The plan was to make sure a gun runner was home, and then make the arrest. “You’re rolling with the big boys now, Boot,” Tim said as he slapped West on the back.

After they confirmed the gun runner was indeed home, they moved in for the arrest. At first, West impressed Tim by being prepared with a dog biscuit for a Doberman that was guarding the house. However, that quickly changed with the bullets started firing. Tim looked back to see his boot cowering in fear.

Angela was going to have a lot of explaining to do.

***

Lucy and Angela had just finished letting an escaped fugitive dance with his daughter at her quinceañera before taking him back into custody. They were discussing Angela’s own celebration at the food trucks when a police car abruptly pulled up in front of them. Tim got out, clearly angry by his shouting of “Lopez!”

“Give us a minute.” Angela told her.

Lucy had never seen Tim this angry. Not even on her first day. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah, just do it.” Angela insisted again.

Lucy walked over toward Tim’s car to speak with Jackson. Passing Tim along the way, but he barely paid her any attention. He zeroed in on Angela.

“What the hell were you thinking letting me hit the streets with a broken rookie?”

“He’s not broken.”

“He froze when the bullets started flying! You gonna tell me the same thing didn’t happen with you the day I got shot?”

“I thought I helped him get passed it.”

“Well, you didn’t. Now he’s my problem. Not for long.” He’d be heading straight to the captain after he was done here.

“I lied to Anderson to cover for the kid. If you out him, my career’s over too.”

“Well, that was stupid.” But it certainly changed things. No way was Tim going to let Angela’s career be thrown away because of a broken rookie. “Look, I know just the neighborhood to take him to. He’ll self-destruct by the end of the day. I’ll catch him on my bodycam. He’ll be done. No one will know about you.”

Angela shook her head. “His father’s a Commander at Internal Affairs.”

“I don’t care! Boot’s a menace!” The streets were no place for someone like West. No matter who he father is.

“This is exactly why I didn’t tell you! You think Jackson’s father won’t blame you for the kid’s failure? This is political whether you like it or not.” Angela stood firm. She knew she had a point.

“What do we do? Leave him on the streets? Hope he doesn’t get someone killed?” Tim couldn’t risk that.

“No. I don’t know.” Angela reluctantly admitted. “He could be a good cop. He’s smart. He has instincts you can’t teach. There’s potential.”

“Screw potential.” Tim said as he began to walk away.

Angela called back to him. “Tim, what are you going to do?”

“I don’t know.” He admitted before turning back to walk away.

Before he got to the car, Lucy stopped him . Jackson had explained everything to her while Tim and Angela were speaking. “Tim, you’ve got to help him.”

“I need you to stay out of this, Lucy. It doesn’t concern you.” He tried to move passed her, but she stopped him.

“He’s my friend!”

“And he’s my rookie! I’ll deal with him in whatever way I see fit.” He continued walking toward the car.

Lucy let him go. He might think the discussion was over, and it was for now, but she was determined to get Tim to listen to her. She owed her friend that much.

***

Tim knew there was no chance Lucy would allow for him to have a peaceful night of co-parenting. He figured their argument wasn’t over. But after talking with Angela, and Jackson’s tearful confrontation in the locker room; he was still no closer to figuring out how to salvage the situation in a way that was beneficial to everyone. He could turn down the plans they already made for him to stop by Lucy’s apartment. Beg off for the night. But they made an agreement that no matter what issues they might have with each other, they would not let it affect raising their daughter together. He wasn’t going to bail on his kid.

Dinner was quiet. Both of them paying most of their attention to Angie with only a few polite words exchanged with each other. He helped Lucy clean up and then put Angie down for the night. Smiled as she sang a sweet lullaby while their daughter nodded off.

Sweet dreams ‘til sunbeams find you.
Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you.
But in your dreams, whatever they be...
Dream a little dream of me.

He wished he could hold onto this moment for a little longer. “That’s beautiful.”

Lucy quietly back away from Angie’s crib as she moved to turn off the light. “It’s always been one of my favorite comfort songs.”

“I meant the way you sang it.” He also liked the way she blushed. She swayed slightly so he had the distinct impression if he wasn’t watching her, she might have done a little dance at his compliment.

As they left Angie’s room, Tim was technically in the clear. He didn’t have any reason to stay longer. But he wasn’t a coward. And he knew the problems that could arise from letting arguments fester for too long. He didn’t want that type of relationship with Lucy.

When she realized Tim was waiting for her approach the subject, she asked,“Have you thought of a way to help Jackson?”

“No.”

“Are you even going to try?”

“Lucy...” How was he the villain in all of this?

“I know. I know he’s your rookie. And if we have any hope of making what we’re doing work, then we need boundaries between work life and home life.”

“You’re right.” Tim interrupted.

Not letting him deter her, she continued. “But Jackson has wanted to be a cop his entire life. It’s all he has ever wanted. I can’t even imagine what that’s like. And to have it taken away from him.” She knew it would crush her friend.

“I can’t let someone ill-prepared to be a cop out on the streets just because his feelings will get hurt. I can’t trust him to have my back. You’ve seen how dangerous it is out there even when you can handle yourself. What if I give him a pass, and then he gets himself hurt or killed? Or someone else? What if you’re the one alone with him when he freezes again? What am I supposed to tell Angie then?” He’s been in that situation before. He won’t do it again. Not when others’ lives on are the line. Lucy could hate him, but at least he would know she’d be safer.

“So then figure something out. You have all these rules and elaborate tests. As clever as you think you are, I know they don’t all just come from nowhere. You’ve been training officers for eight years. You don’t know of some way to help Jackson through this?”

“I don’t really go out of my way to help a rookie who is bound to wash out.”

“Then make an exception. If not for Jackson, then for Angela. Or me. Please.”

He didn’t know what she expected him to be able to do. But he didn’t want to disappoint her. “I can try. But I can’t make any promises.” He tried to keep her expectations low, but he knew when he left her apartment that he wouldn’t give up until he found a solution.

***

The solution came in his friendship with Wallace. A man he knew who suffered a hate crime a few years back, and now refused to leave his apartment. He left Jackson alone with Wallace to talk for a while. Let him see what a life of not making any effort got him. Where being scared all the time would leave him.

Tim didn’t know if it would work, and he couldn’t take the chance that it didn’t. So when an operation to bust a huge drug deal at a box store came about, he ordered West to remain in the car.

But when he was pinned down in gunfight, unsure if he had enough rounds to outlast the criminal with an automatic weapon, suddenly the guy was mowed down by his shop. West got out of the driver’s side to report their suspect was in custody.

That was twice in a matter of weeks that a rookie had managed to save his life. Not that Tim was going to admit it to either of them. For now, he was just glad he managed to fix his rookie, protect Angela’s career, and make sure that Lucy wasn’t disappointed in him. Of the three, somehow that last one was the most important to him.

Chapter Text

A month has gone by since Tim officially met his daughter. In that time, he and Lucy have developed a routine. When they are both on shift, they would have dinner together with Angie after work so Tim always has at least a few hours a day with her. Angie has also spent a few nights each week at his home now that she has adjusted. He’s taken care of her alone when he and Lucy have different shifts. Sometimes Lucy also stays in the spare bedroom. Usually if they’ve spent entire days together or if she’s too tired to fight the traffic after a shift. If anyone questions the oddity of them behaving somewhat like a nuclear family even though the parents are not together, no one has said anything. Lucy hasn’t said anything to him, and Tim’s too worried that approaching the topic will cause Lucy to second guess their arrangement. What they have now is working for them so there is no need to mess with it.

Today was supposed to be another day where they planned to all be together because they both had the day off. Except a few days ago Sergeant Grey announced that the three rookies would be joining him at a neighborhood block party to strengthen police relationships within the community. Lucy was still grumbling about the change in plans when she dropped Angie off this morning. They had decided to take Angie to the beach as any true LA native needed as much fun in the sand and water as possible. She lightened her mood a little when Tim promised that the block party would likely only take a few hours, and he would wait for her so they could still go to the beach together as planned. That it would even be better this way because the sun wouldn’t be so high, and they could stay longer. She left his house considerably less angry than she arrived; but he didn’t envy Jackson, Nolan, and Grey having to spend the next few hours with her in this mood.

However, when she did return she was buzzing from excitement. Apparently, Nolan had rescued a kid who drowned in the community pool, and then a couple of firefighters had performed CPR.

“It was incredible watching Antonio bring this kid back to life.”

Tim was only half listening as he was busy paying attention to his driving, but that detail snapped him back into the conversation. “Antonio?”

“Yeah, Antonio the firefighter.”

“You got the firefighter’s name?” Why did she want to know his name?

“Well, I was talking to him before everything happened, and that’s when he told me.”

“So you were just casually talking to this firefighter?” Didn’t Jackson explain to her the difference between firefighters and police officers, and why the police were better? Grey must have said something. He always fought to get the attention away from firefighters and their flashy fire engine. Tim would have to increase West’s training if he couldn’t warn Lucy away from the competition. Maybe pushups after every call would get the message across.

“Yes, he’s nice. I don’t understand all this professional jealousy between cops and firefighters. We’re both important.”

He’d be adding burpees to those pushups. “Sure, if you don’t consider how much limited thought there is into performing their job. See fire. Turn on hose. Put it out.”

“And they perform many life-saving rescue techniques like CPR.”

“I can perform CPR.” He’d be happy to perform a demonstration of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on her. Definitely wouldn't be to the exact necessary procedures, but he doubts she'd complain.

“So what you’re saying is you are as smart as a firefighter,” Lucy teased him.

“What I’m saying is their work is mostly objective. They don’t have to think about whether or not a suspect is lying or a witness is misremembering. And they don’t have to memorize all the laws and ordinances of the California Penal Code in order to properly charge a criminal.” He’d like to see a firefighter try to do any of that.

“That doesn’t make their work any less important,” she argued.

“No. Just less complicated.”

Lucy chose not to fight him anymore on the subject. Instead focusing on spending the rest of the day with their daughter. Playing in the sand and surf with Angie did a lot to distract Tim from his thoughts. He loved watching her smile in delight as the waves splashed around her feet while he held her. He even happily posed for the many photos and videos Lucy was recording. And because they stayed out later than they originally planned, Lucy opted to spend the night in the guest bedroom again after dinner. But after everyone had turned in for bed, he couldn’t stop worrying about Lucy’s interest in the firefighter. Should he ask her if she was interested in dating the guy? Did he even have that right?

***

Lucy could hardly believe she’d already been on the job for a month. And how much her life had changed in that time. Both personally and professionally. And now apparently, Tim took this Roundup competition very seriously. As did Jackson. If their team won, the two of them would be insufferable. That alone was reason enough to win.

“So is there a strategy you have to winning?” Lucy asked Angela after she explained the rules.

Angela took her time in responding. Giving a lot of thought to what she was about to say which started to worry Lucy. “We’re doing our job like always, and we’ll put up a good fight so not to make it look too easy, but Tim is going to win.”

A defeatist attitude was very unlike Angela. She always liked contests. She and Bishop had an ongoing competition to see who would make detective first. Acknowledging Tim’s win without even putting up a real fight made no sense. And that’s when it clicked for Lucy. “You’re going to let him win.”

“This competition is very important to Tim. It’s personal. From when he was a rookie.”

It didn’t take much for Lucy to make the connection. “Is this about Isabel?”

That managed to surprised Angela. “He told you about her?”

“I met her once. Sort of. I know that they were rookies together before they got married.”

Angela looked as though she rather not be having this conversation, but she was steadfast in making her case. “They both really loved the Roundup. Their competitiveness was epic.”

“Do you really think holding on to this is what he needs?” Tim told her he wanted to put Angie first and his past with Isabel behind him. She didn’t know if trying to completely cut Isabel out of his life was going to work or even the right thing for either of them. But if that’s what Tim wanted, then maintaining his winning streak would be contradictory to the process. “Maybe it’s better for him to lose.”

“I know you and Tim have obviously grown closer, and I know I’m the one who encouraged him to move on. But even after all this time, Tim is still struggling with his feelings for Isabel. This contest is the one day a year he feels connected to her. Do you really want to take that away?”

Lucy knew Angela had a point. Whatever Tim was feeling, it wasn’t anything that could be so clearly defined. He couldn’t completely shut out years of his feelings, and the truth is she didn’t want him too. Tim deserved to figure that out for himself. In whatever way it took. In however long it took.

***

Of course, Lucy was quickly rethinking her decision to be patient during lunch when Jackson recounted a DUI hit and run arrest where the driver had impaled himself on some metal fencing he crashed into. Tim had insisted on getting a sample of the guy’s blood first to test before the EMTs took him to the hospital. He also let it slip that Tim’s flirting with the dispatcher had paid off in the call that finally got them on the board.

She confronted Tim then and there. “You’re flirting with Nell to get hot calls? Isn’t that cheating?”

“It’s called strategy. If Angela doesn’t want to do what it takes to win, that’s not my fault.”

“It’s called taking advantage of someone.”

“Excuse me?”

“Does Nell know that you’re married? That this probably won’t go anywhere.” The thought that he might want something more with Nell gnawed at Lucy. “Unless you do want it to go somewhere. In which case she still deserves to know what she’s getting herself into. ”

“Does Antonio know that you have a kid?”

“What is that supposed to mean?” Why was he even bringing Antonio into this?

“You can flirt with firefighters whenever you want, but I can’t flirt with dispatch when I want?”

“Do you hear yourself? It’s not the same thing.”

“You’re right. A kid who you will be responsible for raising for the next seventeen years is not the same thing as as an estranged wife I’ve only seen once in the last three years.”

“Okay, fine. My life is complicated. But if it’s complicated for me, that goes double for you. And if you must know, I wasn’t even thinking of going on a date with Antonio.”

“You weren’t?”

“No. Truth is I haven’t dated since long before Angie was born. I haven’t had the time or interest.”

That knowledge gave Tim adequate pause. Part of him selfishly was glad of the fact. But the other, more rational part, admitted how unfair that was to Lucy. And he could see why she felt bad for how he was treating Nell. He wasn’t making things easy for where he stood with Lucy either. He’s not even sure what he wants them to be.

“Nell still deserves to know everything before it goes too far. I think you owe her that.”

Tim nodded in response, and Lucy gave him a soft smile in return. Things were just beginning to settle between them when Nolan approached.

“Hey, Lucy, before I forget, I saw that firefighter from the other day on a call. He asked for your number. I hope it’s okay that I gave it to him.” Nolan thought he was doing a nice thing, but he seriously reconsidered when he noticed Lucy’s tight smile and the murderous look Tim was giving him. He quickly walked away without bothering to make an excuse or look back.

***

At the end of the night, Angela announced Tim and Jackson as the winners. Whether it was fairly won or not, it did accomplish the ultimate goal of making Tim happy. For that Lucy could be grateful.

However, she was surprised when Tim approached her with a beer in hand which he gave to her. “I thought the point was for me to buy you a drink.”

“Consider this a thank you for making me get my head out of my ass.” She waited for him to continue as she sipped her beer. “I spoke with Nell. Explained the whole situation.”

“And what did she say?”

“She doesn’t do complicated.” He laughed. Apparently he wasn’t too heartbroken about the outcome.

“I guess it’s not for everyone.”

“You were right though about it being more complicated for me, but it doesn’t have to complicated for you.”

She furrowed her brow in confusion. “I don’t understand.”

Tim spoke quickly. He wanted to get this said before he could change his mind. “Maybe before it was complicated. When you relied mostly on yourself to raise Angie, but you have me now. You can go out on a date and not have to worry about how it’ll affect her. I’m here to help. I think it would be good for you to start dating again. If that’s what you want.”

“Oh... Okay.” She hadn’t given it much thought when Antonio had called to ask for a date. She hadn’t really wanted that. But if this was Tim’s way of letting her know that friendship and co-parenting was the best he could offer, then perhaps it was time for her to consider other options.

She didn’t have to make that decision tonight though. “Right now, all I can think about is going home to our daughter.”

“I’m with you on that.” Tim said as he offered her his arm, walking away from his Roundup victory celebration early for the first time in five years.

***

A couple of days later after shift, Tim and Lucy were walking to their respective cars in the garage. Tim would be picking up Angie from the sitter’s for the night while Lucy went straight home to change for her date.

“So when is the firefighter picking you up for your date?” He tried for casual but ‘firefighter’ might have come off sounding like a curse word.

“I will be meeting Antonio at the restaurant at eight o’clock.” She put emphasis on his name.

“Smart. That way you can ditch him when the date goes bad.” He was only half kidding.

“I’m not going to ditch him because I don’t foresee this date ending badly.”

“We answer emergency calls on a daily basis. How many times do you think of any those people foresaw disaster?”

Refusing to engage Tim any further in this ridiculous conversation, Lucy confirmed that she’d be stopping by his house tomorrow at noon to pick up Angie before bidding him goodnight.

***

Tim managed to distract himself from thinking too much about Lucy’s date by taking care of Angie. That’s why he was surprised to get a text from Lucy in what had to be about an hour into her date asking him to call her. Concerned, he quickly called her back.

She answered on the first ring. “Hello?”

“Hey. Is everything okay?”

“What happened?!” Her voice in full panic mode.

Well, now he was confused. “You texted me asking to call. Remember?”

“Was anyone hurt? Do you need me to meet you somewhere?” She asked with what sounded like genuine concern, but he could tell it was false.

Now, he understood. “Did you seriously ask me to call you just so you can fake an emergency?”

“Yes, I’m sure my date won’t mind if I need to go.”

He wouldn’t hang up, but he wasn’t going to fake a conversation for his half of it. “Just don’t say it’s an emergency for anyone we know. I don’t want to jinx someone just to get you out of a bad date.”

“Okay, tell my brother I’ll be there soon.”

“Sure. I’ll let your fictional brother know. See you soon.” He hung up. This date was going better than he expected. For him anyway.

A half hour later, he opened his door to Lucy looking stunning in a short, dark green dress. He didn’t hide the fact that he was looking her over slowly. Though it did put him off a bit knowing she had made all this effort for another guy. Still, at the end of the night she was here with him, and the firefighter was probably off somewhere crying in his helmet.

“Hey.” She blushed under his gaze as he stepped aside for her. “Is Angie asleep?”

“Yeah, I put her down a while ago, but you can go check on her. I’ll get us some beers.” He hoped Lucy came here because she wanted to stay awhile. He certainly wanted her to stay.

She returned about ten minutes later to accept the beer Tim offered and joined him on the sofa. “She’s still out like a light.”

“That’s good.” He should probably say something supportive about the date. See if she wanted to talk about it. But only if she wanted to talk about the bad aspects. “I’m sorry your date didn’t go so well.”

Lucy didn’t buy it for a second. “Please. You’re thrilled it went horribly. Admit it.”

“Hey, I’m the one who told you to go out with him.” He reminded her though he still wasn’t sure why he encouraged her in the first place. “Though I can’t honestly say that I’m upset a firefighter won’t be Angie’s future step-father.”

“I think it’s a little too soon to be thinking about step-fathers. It was only a first date. First and last.” She wouldn’t tell Tim that she was bored within five minutes of the date starting. Wishing she could be hanging out with him and Angie instead. She didn’t need to inflate his ego.

“I did warn you about firefighters. They don’t have a lot going for them.”

Lucy smiled as a thought occurred to her. “You know, I think you’re threaten by their hunkiness.”

“Hunkiness? That’s not even a word. And if it were, I still wouldn’t be threatened by any firefighter.” He worked out enough to compete with any level of their so called hotness.

“Fair enough.” She smiled. “So do you have any firefighter friends you could introduce me to?”

“No.” He’d let her think he didn’t make friends with firefighters rather than he wasn’t willing to introduce her to any of them. And he’d be careful to keep her away from any of his pickup basketball games.

He also wouldn’t be encouraging her to date anyone else ever again.

Chapter Text

“Officer Chen, I need to speak with you about a report you filed the other day about some stolen property. I just collared a suspect, and I think he might be connected to your case.” The request was bordering on polite. So unlike Tim when he was at work and just wanted to get to the point. And she didn’t remember any recent stolen property reports, but she allowed Tim to guide her through the police station. Right into the storage closet.

She turned to ask him what was going on when suddenly he was kissing her. The moment surprised her, but only for a few seconds before she brought her arms around his neck to deepen the kiss. He walked her through the room until she felt her back hit the wall. They continued kissing, but Lucy had the thought that she should at least ask why Tim wanted to make out with her during the middle of shift in the police storage room of all places. He might be willing to bend some rules, but he certainly didn’t break them. And it was only a couple of weeks ago he was encouraging her to date other men, yet now he couldn’t keep his hands off her. Not that she wanted him to keep his hands off her. God, she wanted his hands all over her.

As if knowing her desire, Tim started to unbutton her pants. When did he get her duty belt off? His lips traveled a path from her mouth down to her jaw line and now he was paying special attention to her neck tattoo. That felt so good. But she needed to stop him before he left a mark that would still be visible even with the tattoo. She pushed him off her. Only able to move his body a few inches away from her. In truth she was still holding onto his uniform, keeping him in place, not wanting him to move too far away. A fact that Tim seemed to be all too aware of given the satisfied smirk on his face as he looked down at her.

What was it she wanted to ask again? Her hands were busy caressing Tim through his uniform, and now whatever it was didn’t matter anymore. She ripped open his shirt, surprised to find Tim wasn’t wearing his vest or undershirt. Instead she found his tanned skin and muscles. So many muscles. She pulled him back down for another kiss.

Tim brought his hands back up to cup her face. He slowly started to move them downward. She thought he might stop at her breasts. She wanted so badly to feel his hands there again. But he stopped short. Instead his hands landed on her shoulders. He began shaking her. Why was he shaking her? The movement was jarring.

Jarring enough for Lucy to open her eyes and realize she was no longer looking at Tim in the storage room. It was nighttime on a suburban street, and she had fallen asleep against the window of the shop.

The shaking from her dream was coming from Angela sitting beside her. She finally stopped when she saw that Lucy had fully awakened. “Normally, I wouldn’t begrudge my partner a little shut eye, but seeing as this is your first week on night shift; and I’m supposed to be training you for the realities of police work, I thought I’d go ahead and wake you.” Her teasing grin turned into a look of disgust. “Also you were moaning, and it was awkward. If you were dreaming about Tim, please don’t tell me.”

“I wasn’t!” Lucy answered quickly. Probably too quickly. “I was dreaming about getting a massage. I’ve been dealing with a lot of tension lately.”

Angela didn’t miss a beat. “Yeah, I bet you have.” Not letting Lucy’s obvious annoyance deter her from continuing her teasing. “Well, after shift why don’t you ask Tim to help you relieve some of that tension with... a massage.”

Lucy could feel her cheeks burning. She was never going to live down this humiliation.

***

Tim was in the middle of his morning routine as he fixed his coffee when he heard a knock at his door. He knew Lucy had just come off the night shift about an hour ago. Her last late night shift for this week. He would bring Angie to her apartment in couple of hours before his shift was due to begin. So it was a surprise when he opened his door to find Lucy leaning against the door jam. Her eyes barely open. She looked dead on her feet.

He pulled her into the house and carefully walked her over to the sofa so she could sit down. She all but collapsed. “Please tell me you did not drive here.”

“No, Angela gave me a ride. I told her to take me to my apartment, but she dropped me off here instead. I’m sure I heard her laughing as she drove away.” As if it suddenly occurred to Lucy that she shouldn’t be here now, she tried to sit up fully. “I’m sorry. If you could just take us back to my apartment before work or I could call an Uber.” She began reaching for her phone. Not realizing it was still in her bag which Tim had taken from her when he brought her to the sofa.

Tim stopped her. “Don’t worry about that. You should stay here and get some real sleep. I can take you back after my shift is over.” Too tired to argue, she agreed. “Did you fall asleep on shift?”

Lucy blushed and seemed reluctant to elaborate only saying, “Angela had to wake me up from a dream.”

“You’re lucky you’re not my boot anymore. If you had fallen asleep on my watch, I would have woken you up with headlights, a bullhorn and the rest of the night shift there to see it.” He almost looked sad that he couldn’t do that now.

“Really?!” He couldn’t possibly be serious. Then again, this was Tim. He was most definitely serious.

“Plus there would have been photos and t-shirts. The whole works.”

“Having your baby has really paid off then.” She was kidding. Mostly.

“I thought I advised you to take a nap. Napping is the key to midnight shift. No shorter than twenty minutes. No longer than forty.”

“I didn’t have time. My lease is almost up, and my landlord is raising the rent. I think he has plans to turn the building into condos. I spent the day looking for an affordable place. But everything was either too expensive or too horrible. And the plight of a young mother and her child becoming homeless wasn’t enough to get anyone to knock down their price.”

“You’re not going to be homeless.” No way would he allow that.

“I know Angie always has a place here, but I still need to find something for when she stays with me.”

“No, Lucy, you’re not listening. YOU are not going to be homeless.” He stared at her to get his point across. “You can move into the guest bedroom. You’ve already stayed here plenty of nights anyway.”

Sensing Lucy was about to argue, he pushed forward. “Think of all the time we’ll save from shuttling Angie back and forth between us. We’ll both get to spend more time with her. You’ll save money on rent. It’s a win win.”

He did make some very good points, and she was too exhausted from this week to put up a fuss. The idea of rent could be negotiated when she was more fully awake to make a sound argument. She would be pulling her weight in living expenses no matter what Tim said. But she was actually very relieved to know she wouldn’t have to worry about finding a place anymore. “Sure. Sounds like a great idea.”

“Good. So why don’t you consider today as your first official day here and get some rest. I’ll let you know before I leave for shift. And on our next joint day off we can move all your stuff in.” He seemed to have it all settled, and there was no use in arguing. Almost as if he was waiting for this opportunity to arise.

Lucy nodded as she moved her body to stretch out on the sofa once Tim had vacated. She was too tired to make it to the guest --- now her --- bedroom. Tim pulled a blanket over her. But before he walked away, he asked, “What did you dream about?”

“Huh?”

“You said Angela woke you up from a dream. What did you dream about?”

“Oh, I... um, I don’t remember.” He looked as though he didn’t entirely believe her, but he didn’t press the issue. She didn’t know how she was going to survive living with Tim. God forbid, if he managed to catch her during the middle of a sexy dream. Well, maybe that wouldn’t be too bad...

***

A couple of days later when Lucy and Angela were back on the day shift, they had taken a call which turned out to be the soon to be ex-wife of Jeremy Hawke. Lucy knew him as an instructor from the police academy. She couldn’t say she was a fan though he got along well with Nolan. According to Ms. Mitchell, he had gotten drunk and assaulted her boyfriend. Currently, Angela was with Sergeant Grey informing him of the situation so he and Captain Anderson could decide how to proceed. Meanwhile, Lucy was in the break room listening to Jackson explain his morning with Tim serving a search warrant to a known burglary felon.

Jackson always played by the rules when it came to being a cop, owing to the fact that his dad is in Internal Affairs. On important matters Tim stuck to the rules as well, but he instructed Jackson on how to think like a criminal if he wanted to catch a criminal. Jackson was impressed by Tim’s knowledge of the DEAR method. Perhaps too impressed.

“He had you looking through sex toys?!” Lucy gasped in surprise.

Jackson shrugged it off like it wasn’t a big deal. “The R does stand for repulsive, and the things this guy had were pretty repulsive.”

“Did you find anything?”

“No. Tim had already found the stolen property by the time I was done.”

That made Lucy pause. “And you didn’t think to call him out on that? How long did it take for him to find everything while you were searching through Caligula’s toy chest?”

“I didn’t ask.” Jackson looked as if it just occurred to him that he could. “I should have asked, shouldn’t I?”

“Yeah.” Tim might have fun pulling one over on Jackson, but she didn’t think it was nearly as fun for him if Jackson didn’t complain. Tim needed to be challenged. For his ego’s sake if nothing else.

Jackson left the break room soon after, but if his intention had been to find Tim, then he must have missed him because Tim came in for coffee not long after. Lucy decided she’d be the one to confront him.

“I can’t believe you had Jackson sifting through a criminal’s sex toys.”

“Are you questioning my training tactics again?” He asked as his finished making his coffee and sat down at the table with Lucy.

“Not at all. I just think you could have told him to stop when you found everything.”

“I didn’t know I had found everything. You think a criminal would stick to one hiding place for all his loot? Besides, I didn’t hear Jackson complaining.”

Lucy dismissed that reasoning with a wave of her hand. “That’s because Jackson was literally born into the LAPD. He wouldn’t complain if he thought there was a chance to learn something.”

“And now he has.”

“That his T.O. has a devious and twisted sense of humor?” Her sass wasn’t truly biting. She liked to have fun goading Tim.

He didn’t disagree with that assessment, but he did have legitimate reasons for his teaching methods. If he got to have a little fun with it as well, then that was just icing. “That it can be helpful to know diversionary tactics meaning you have to sometimes think like a criminal.”

“I bet you’re DEAR method incarnate. You’ve got a tactic for any situation, don’t you?”

“Maybe.”

“What if you get robbed at gunpoint?"

“Easy. Deception. I carry an empty wallet. If I ever got robbed, I drop my fake, pull my piece and goodnight nurse.”

“So where do you keep your cards? Money?”

“Money clip behind my belt.”

“Okay, you’re officially weird.”

“You’ll change your tune when Angie is old enough to start hiding things from us, and you want me to help search her room.”

“We are not going to be the type of parents who invade our daughter’s privacy.”

“How much stuff did you hide from your parents when you were a teenager?”

She refused to give him the satisfaction of answering the question. “That’s different. I want Angie to know I’m the kind of parent she can feel comfortable to talk to about anything. She won’t have to hide anything from me.”

“Good luck with that.” He didn’t bother to even try to hide his skepticism.

She had seen how their daughter already had Tim wrapped around her finger. If anyone was going to end up being the ‘bad cop’ parent, it wasn’t going to be him no matter what he was saying now. “Whatever. Just know if you ever try to pull that crap with me that you did on Jackson, you’ll be sleeping on the sofa.”

“You do realize I’ll still have my own room once you move in?”

She stared him down and despite her smaller size and sunshine like appearance, he knew she could be dangerous if she wanted to be. She probably would find a way to kick him out of his own room. But he wasn’t going to let her know she could intimidate him.

Neither was willing to back down until Angela interrupted. “Bishop and Nolan just radioed in. Hawke is on the run.”

Looks like this round ended in a draw for now.

***

While the others were searching for Hawke, Lucy and Angela were sent to interview the victim of a suspected drive by shooting. But the two officers both had a feeling that the victim and his father were not being completely honest. Angela spoke with the father while Lucy went back to speak to the son alone.

She could identify with the son. She knew what it was like to have a parent who expected their child to behave exactly as they wanted. The pressure that could put on someone. What it could do to a family. Still the son refused to change his story.

The situation escalated when the victim’s boyfriend showed up at the hospital and stabbed the father. From there Lucy and Angela had put together the pieces of the puzzle. Time would tell if the detectives would be able to prove that the son had pulled the gun on his father and been shot in a resulting struggle.

The thought that all three of these people’s lives would now be forever changed gave Lucy pause to think about her own situation with her parents. They might be out of her life for now, and she didn’t know when or if that could be rectified, but it could be worse. It made her more determined than ever to have a good relationship with her daughter. To make sure her daughter never felt judged or unloved.

***

After shift, Tim was still limping somewhat from his fight with Hawke so Lucy took pity on him to help him to his truck. “This is what happens when old men try to throw down like they are still in their twenties.”

“I’m not old.” At Lucy’s piercing gaze, he amended, “I’m not as old as Hawke and Nolan.”

“And yet here you are leaning on me.”

“Maybe I don’t really need your help. Maybe I just want an excuse to have you close.”

“That would fall under the tactic of deception, right?” At Tim’s nod, she started to lift his arm from around her shoulder. “Okay then...” Just as she was letting him stand on his own two feet, he began to sway. “Yeah, I thought so.” She put his arm back around her and continued walking him to his truck. But she led him to the passenger side, informing him that she’d be driving them home as she pushed him inside the cab.

As she climbed into the driver’s side, she said, “We can get takeout on the way home after we pick up Angie.”

“Sounds good. This mean you’re buying?”

“Nope. You are.” She held up his money clip. “Never tell a crook where you hide your money.”

Despite the evidence right in front of his face, he instinctively reached for where his money clip should be. She must have lifted it while helping him into the truck.

She smiled at the look of sheer disbelief on his face. “You told me to think like a criminal.”

Tim smiled in spite of himself. He had definitely met his match.

***

Over the next weekend, Tim helped Lucy move into his --- now their --- home. And it really did feel like a home again once Angie and Lucy were there full time. An unconventional home where the parents slept in separate beds, but a home nonetheless.

As expected there was an adjustment period to learning how to live together. Tim was much more neat and orderly, but it wasn’t like Lucy was a total slob. She always made sure her dishes were done and laundry was folded, even if stayed in piles in her bedroom for a while before it made it to a drawer. Lucy had no proof but she was pretty sure Tim made his bed every morning whereas she preferred to throw the comforter back over the rumpled sheets and call it a day. At least, Tim had a separate bathroom in the master bedroom so he never had to see everything that littered the counter tops of the guest bathroom which was now her bathroom. Actually, he saw it once when he went for a bathroom break during a game. He walked right out and decided to use his own bathroom from then on.

There were also a few slip ups where Tim forgot that he couldn’t just walk around in a towel after he got out of the shower to go start the coffee. Not that Lucy was going to complain, but it did make for a couple of awkward kitchen encounters.

However, they had also made some adjustments to benefit themselves and each other. Like Tim convincing her to leave her keys by the door so they wouldn’t have to hunt for them before her shifts. And Lucy added more decorative touches around the home. The colors more bright and cheery than he was used to, but it made Lucy happy; and seeing them reminded Tim that Angie and Lucy weren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Before Lucy and Angie moved in permanently, he would keep a few of Angie’s toys in the living room just to remind himself that his daughter would be coming back. Now he did so because he liked the sight of them cluttering his home, and so Lucy wouldn’t ask questions about why he would have suddenly stopped.

One thing that wasn’t an adjustment is they both had shifts that sometimes included late nights and time spent correcting their sleep schedules. So it wasn’t unusual to pass each other in the kitchen late at night either as one was getting home or just couldn’t sleep due to the things they witnessed on the job. Lucy had just such a night where sleep refused to happen. After over an hour of trying to force herself to fall asleep, she decided some tea might calm her restless nerves. Walking into the kitchen, she wasn’t too surprised to see Tim already sitting at the table; but she knew he didn’t have a late shift, and she wasn’t aware of any troublesome calls he had in the last few days. By his hair sticking out of place and the pair of pajama pants and t-shirt he wore, she knew he must have just left his bed as well. He probably wore the shirt in deference to her. Perhaps the pants as well. She currently wore a pair of light sleep shorts and a thin camisole owing to a sudden heatwave this late November. She was glad she remembered to grab her robe before she left her room as she pulled it close to loosely tie around her once she caught sight of Tim.

Apparently deep in thought, he only looked up when she greeted him. Never one to be caught unaware of his surroundings, Lucy had to wonder if something was bothering him. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine.”

He didn’t seem fine. “You’re not regretting asking me to move in, are you?” She knew he loved having Angie around more, and she thought they were getting along well. But maybe she was wrong.

“No! God no.” He answered fast before reminding her in a more calm voice, “I’m the one who asked you to move in.”

“I know, but there’s asking because I was in a bind, and then there’s regret once reality sets in.”

“I don’t regret you moving in here.” He spoke with such certainty that left her with no doubt he was being honest, but she still believed something was upsetting him.

“Okay, then why are you sitting in the kitchen at one in the morning when I saw you turn in a couple of hours ago?”

“Why are you up?”

“Because I thought I’d make myself some tea to help me get to sleep after today’s call. But we already talked about that. What we didn’t talk about was what’s bothering you.”

He sat still for a moment, refusing to look at her as he finally asked “Are you happy you moved in here?”

That question stunned her. Before she could answer, he continued. “I know you didn’t have a lot of options, but it’s going okay, right?”

The last time she’d seen Tim look this vulnerable had been her first day on shift when they ran into Isabel. She had moved in almost two weeks ago. Was Tim dealing with this worry the entire time? A fear that she would leave at any moment and take Angie with her. “I can’t honestly say I would have moved in here if I still had my own place, and I doubt you would have asked if I did. But that doesn’t mean I regret it either.” She sat down at the table so she could look Tim in the eye. “We both know this arrangement we have going isn’t conventional, but I think it’s working. And I have no desire to change it anytime soon. So until I finally drive you crazy with my burning incense all over the house, you’re stuck with me.”

That got a laugh from him. “Just remember to be careful with that stuff. Don’t want you burning down the house.”

“But then how else will I get the hot firemen to show up,” she teased.

“Maybe I’ll invest in more fire extinguishers. Make sure one is in every room in the house.”

Secure that Tim was feeling at least a little bit better, she stood up from the table. “While you get started on your fire safety plan, I’ll be making my tea.” She went to the cupboard for a coffee mug only to realize all the mugs on the first shelf and those closest to the edge on the second were currently being washed. “We should probably first invest in a step stool for the kitchen,” she said as she tried to reach as far as she could for the mugs in the back by standing on the tips of her toes.

She felt Tim place a hand on her hip to steady her. As she saw his other arm reach above her to easily grab the mug, she slowly dropped her feet back down. Brushing against the front of his body as she did so, she could feel how closely he stood behind her. The hand on her hip inching around to her front, pulling her closer to his chest. Stuck between him and the counter, she couldn’t move. She didn’t want to. Closing her eyes she feared if she opened them again, she would wake up from another dream. But this wasn’t a dream. After a moment, Tim seemed to realize he needed to give her some space. But only a little. As she slowly turned around, she saw the desire in his eyes. Sure it matched her own.

She barely noticed the sound of the mug being placed on the counter behind her before feeling both of Tim’s arms wrapping around her. She leaned up to him just as he was swooping down to meet in the middle for a kiss. This was much better than a dream. Better than her memories from before. Breaking the kiss, Tim spun them around and lifted her up to sit her on top of the table. A move so reminiscent of their first time, they both laughed for a brief moment as the memory came back.

Then they were kissing again in earnest. Slipping a hand inside her robe, he began massaging her breast which caused Lucy to pull away from the kiss as the sensation overwhelmed her. Thus giving Tim more access to place a trail of kisses down her neck. Dipping low into the neckline of her camisole. As his kisses moved lower, she gripped tighter at the back of his shirt. Loving the feeling of his kisses along her skin but desperate for some much needed friction below. Maybe he could read her mind. Maybe he was just as desperate as she was. Either way, he straightened back up before grabbing her thighs to pull her closer to the edge of the table. She matched his grin as she widened her legs, allowing him to step fully in between. He reached for her in another hungry kiss as she began to grind against him in a slow, teasing rhythm. Tim slipped a hand between them to trace a path her along the edge of her shorts. He had just begun easing his way beneath the fabric when a noise pulled them from their erotic interlude.

Angie had awoken and was crying from the nursery.

Tim dropped his head into the crook of Lucy’s neck. Frustrated and needing to catch up with his breathing to calm himself. Lucy knew exactly as he felt. Her own breathing ragged as the mood suddenly changed around them. He reluctantly released his hold on her as he backed away. Observing the disarray of her clothing, the flush of her skin, the slight swelling of her lips that he wanted to kiss again. But her eyes were what got him the most. Waiting to see what he would do. So absolutely trusting.

So deserving of someone better than him. Because he would screw up the life they had going if he gave into his desire for her. Inevitably he’d drive her away, and he couldn’t live through that again. Losing her and Angie would break him. Not able to look at Lucy any longer, he turned his head away.

Lucy dropped her own head in defeat. Clearly, Tim had made up his mind. With as much dignity as she could muster she hopped down from the table, adjusted her clothing, and closed her robe. This time she tied it more tightly around her body.

Only afterwards did Tim finally turn back to look toward her, but he still wouldn’t meet her eyes. “I’ll go check on Angie. You should finish making your tea.” He left without another word.

Lucy glanced at the mug on the counter. Decided to leave it there for her morning coffee. There was no way she’d be able to relax tonight anyway.

Chapter Text

Needless to say the next couple of days were filled with awkwardness for Tim and Lucy. They didn’t speak more than a few words with each other unless it was about Angie. Tim knew his reluctance to explain himself might cause the very thing he feared: ruining his relationship with Lucy. His desire for her was great, but was it enough to put everything on the line? Could he guarantee the pain, anger, and bitterness that built inside him since Isabel left --- that was compounded by his childhood and years in the army--- wouldn’t destroy everything that was pure goodness in Lucy? Her optimism despite her own troubles shown through in all that she did in life. At some point his demons would only serve to drag her down.

For her part, Lucy believed whatever desire Tim surely felt for her on that night must have been triggered by the moment. Proximity, adapting to the change in their living arrangement, a fleeting memory of their one and only night together. Whatever it was, perhaps cooler heads prevailed, and Tim stopped them from making a huge mistake. And she wanted to talk about it, but her pride was hurt. She couldn’t bring herself to make the first move, and Tim appeared uninterested in broaching the subject as well. She feared they might never get passed this.

On the third day of tip toeing around each other, Lucy was in the kitchen feeding Angie breakfast. Since that night both she and Tim had managed to never be here at the same time. As if the room was to blame for their actions; and if they weren’t in it at the same time, they could avoid another hormone bomb disaster waiting to happen.

But maybe Tim had gathered the courage to stop avoiding her here. Maybe he was finally ready to talk about what happened. Or maybe he just didn’t realize she was here until it was too late. The widening of his eyes suggested as much. He even briefly glanced behind him as if to wonder if he should turn around and walk back out. He might have been seconds from doing so, and she might have let him. Had Angie not caught sight of him.

“Da da!”

The two parents immediately froze. While Angie had often said ‘ma ma’ or something of the like for months now, ‘da da’ was a word they were still trying to convince Angie to use. Weeks ago, what felt like a lifetime now, she and Tim had discussed Angie’s resistance to the term. Their daughter was still trying to understand exactly who Tim was in her life. And while he understood, Lucy knew how eager he was to hear that precious word.

Tim managed to break himself out of his trance and walk over to Angie’s high chair. Carefully lifting her out, he held her in his arms. “Yeah, sweetheart, I’m your da da.”

The words seemed so foreign coming from a supposedly tough guy like Tim; but in looking at the smile on his face, Lucy doubted he would have cared what anyone thought. She couldn’t stop the tears that sprung as she caught Tim’s eye.

Together they shared a hopeful smile, and the discomfort of the last couple of days seemed to disappear. In that moment Lucy knew wherever life might lead them romantically or not, what truly mattered is them being able to share a life with their daughter.

***

The discussion stemming from Angie’s new favorite word led to talking about other subjects. They both tacitly agreed to ignore their heated moment and return to the way their relationship had been before. Time would tell if that avoidance could last forever, but for now it was working.

In all of his worries about being a good father to Angie and trying not to ruin his relationship with Lucy, Tim had managed to forget about his problems with Isabel. Which is probably why he was blindsided when Grey informed him of Isabel’s arrest.

As much as he may have thought he could move on and let Isabel’s troubles be her own, he couldn’t ignore a drug arrest. Much less one that came knocking on the door of his own precinct. Maybe he could have done something to prevent it. Maybe this is where the path was always headed. Regardless, they were here now, and he couldn’t do anything without answers first.

***

Jackson cornered Lucy as she left the interrogation room where Angela was questioning a suspect. “Why didn’t you tell me Tim is married?!”

“What?”

His irrational anger immediately gave way to surprise and fear. “Oh god, please tell me you knew.”

“Yes, I know about Isabel. How do you know?”

“Because she was brought in on a drug charge. Possession with intent to sell.”

“Where’s Tim?” Worry gripping her over how he must be handling the news.

“He’s in the holding cell talking to her right now.”

Lucy might have made a scene of herself as she walked as fast as possible to booking, but she didn’t care. When she got there, she saw Tim’s back in cell four. Posture stiff and rigid as possible as Isabel appeared to be pleading with him.

***

Tim honestly couldn’t believe Isabel would let herself get so far gone that she’d allow a ‘sometimes’ boyfriend to stash a kilo of heroin in her apartment. The woman he knew from years ago, the woman he fell in love with, was much smarter than that. Maybe this knowledge more than anything proved that woman was gone.

“Please, baby, go to my place. I need you. If you help me, it’ll be different. Alright? I’ll go to rehab. For real this time.”

He lost count how many times he had heard that promise before. “You’re just saying that.”

“No, no, this is different. I can… I can be different. Please help me, okay? Please.”

Even if he believed her, he knew this time wouldn’t be different. Probably not for her anyway, but more importantly because it was different for him. He wasn’t the same person who maybe even a few months ago would have blindly believed her for the chance of regaining what they once had. He thought the years after Isabel had left him had been slowly chipping away at that dream, but in truth it really began to fade away the moment Lucy informed he was a father. And each day since has been pulling him closer to something he wants much more. More than he thought possible. More than he thought he deserved.

His family, small and unconventional and confusing as it was right now, needed him to do what was right. For Angie. For Lucy. For himself.

And if that meant he couldn’t help Isabel, then the guilt from not doing so was a burden he’d have to bear.

Because he wouldn’t bear the knowledge of how disappointed Lucy would be in him if he crossed the line.

As he left Isabel’s holding cell, he saw Lucy standing outside. He knew she wouldn’t have been able to hear anything, but from her expression whatever she imagined might have been worse. Before he could say anything, she told him they could talk about it later at home if he wanted. She was right. This wasn’t the best place to talk. Later he’d make her understand she didn’t have to worry.

***

After dinner and putting Angie to bed, they settled down on the sofa to discuss the topic they’d been avoiding. Well, the most current topic being avoided at any rate.

Tim knew if he explained everything, Lucy would be duty bound to tell someone what she knew. Though she would probably keep Isabel’s secret for Tim’s sake, he didn’t want to put her in that position. And in all likelihood, the detectives would make the discovery on their own anyway. Still he weighed his options about how to be honest with her before she settled it for him.

“What did Isabel ask you to do?”

“How did you know?”

“She looked desperate when she was pleading with you today. More so than if she was just asking you to make the charges go away. Something she obviously knows you can’t do.” Lucy took a moment before she continued. “And you’re quiet. More than usual. Which means you’re thinking about making a big decision.”

She knew him well. “Not about Isabel. I’ve already made that decision.” He wanted to be careful about how he phrased the next admission.“I was thinking about how much I should tell you.”

“You can tell me anything.” She paused thinking about the last week. “At least, I thought we could tell each other anything before.”

“I wanted to tell you.” Worried she might want to discuss last week if he gives her an opening, he pushed through. “This isn’t because of that. I didn’t want you to risk your career over our… friendship.” God, that sounds even more lame given the circumstances.

She’s tired. Tired of letting him dictate the choices in their relationship. The choices she has every right to make for herself. “I think I should make that decision. So why don’t you just tell me.”

“The guy Isabel is seeing stashed a kilo of heroin in her heating vent. She wanted me to get rid of it for her.” He can practically see the wheels turning in Lucy’s head. Before she can say anything, he tells her. “I wasn’t going to do it.”

“I know. You project the rogue cop thing, but you are always on the right side of the law.”

“Yeah, but that’s not going to help Isabel.”

“Maybe that’s okay. You would have regretted it. Because this wouldn’t have changed her. But it will sure as hell have changed you.” Just the idea that this could have ultimately destroyed the Tim she knows breaks her heart.

He doesn’t know how to respond to her. For Lucy to believe in him so much. Even with everything they are currently going through. He can’t remember the last time someone had total faith in him. Not even with Isabel before their marriage went sideways.

He may not deserve Lucy. But he wants to.

***

The detectives did indeed find the heroin; and as angry as Isabel had been with him, Tim knew he did the right thing. However, a couple of days later Isabel was back at the station. According to Grey she had agreed to be a confidential informant to stay out of prison. Tim wasn’t sure if she only managed to avoid one near certain death for another.

A part of him thought that Isabel let herself be taken advantage, but he knew Lucy had her doubts. And truth be told, he had his own. Not that Isabel was willfully operating in selling drugs. But he had seen first hand what she was willing to do for a score. What she would sacrifice. Letting a boyfriend keep his stash in her apartment was nothing. And at some point, he had to recognize that the lines she crossed were of her own choice. Whether it was to continue her drug habit or not.

Another pressing issue at the moment was Nolan’s officer involved shooting. Not that he was too particularly worried about Nolan, but more for Lucy. She was nervous about her interview with Internal Affairs.

“What if I say something that gets Nolan in trouble?” She asked him as she waited for her turn.

“Do you know anything that could get him in trouble?”

“No, but who knows what they can interpret from what I say.”

He placed a hand on her shoulder. The most intimate contact they had in the last week, and not usually something he would have permitted at work, but he knew she needed comfort. “Relax. I’ve done this a few times before. Both as the officer involved and as a witness. I wish I could say this would be the only one you’ll ever have to do, but it probably won’t be. Just answer the questions honestly. You do that, and I promise there is nothing you could say that will incriminate Nolan.” For all he knows, IA could still find Nolan guilty, but he was certain it wouldn’t be through any fault of Lucy’s testimony.

She started to feel better “Thanks. How are you doing?”

“Isabel is going to be a confidential informant. So after Nolan, I’m probably having the worst week of any officer here.”

There wasn’t much she could say to make him feel better, but she had to try. “I don’t know. Smitty had a winning lottery ticket and lost it.”

He didn’t laugh much, but the smile he did produce was enough for her. And for him to know she tried was everything. “Then I guess there is hope for me yet.”

“Guess so.”

***

The next day didn’t make things easier for anyone. The tension all around the precinct was palpable. And honestly the end of shift could not come soon enough for Lucy. She stopped Jackson as he was leaving the men’s locker room. “Look, I’m worried about Nolan. I think he needs to talk to someone or just have someone around. But I need to be there for Tim. He’s not handling this crisis with Isabel well either.”

“Yeah, I get it. I’ll hang out with Nolan tonight. You go be with your man.” Figuring it wasn’t worth it to explain the specifics of her relationship with Tim when she didn’t understand what they were, Lucy chose to ignore Jackson’s comment.

She went to the garage where Tim was waiting by his truck for her. She could tell right away his mood had only gotten worse from this morning. Something bad must have happened. “Do you want to tell me, or am I just going to have to refuse to get into the truck until you say something.”

“Isabel is going to wear a wire to a drug deal.”

“Oh.”

“And I let Captain Anderson know I didn’t think it was a good idea.”

“Okay.”

“By yelling at her.”

“Damn.” There wasn’t much more that could be said after that.

“Yeah. But I think she understood where I was coming from. She offered to put me on rescue detail.”

“That’s good. You can be there for Isabel if she needs you.”

“I asked her to put Angela on the detail instead.”

“Are you sure that’s a good idea? Is that what you really want?” She didn’t want him to regret this decision.

“It’s what needs to be done. I can’t be there for both Isabel and Angie.” He wanted to include Lucy in that statement, but didn’t think it was fair to drag her into this with everything being more complicated than before.

She wanted to argue with him. Knew he wasn’t thinking clearly. He was trying too hard to compartmentalize. But she also knew how stubborn he could be. And maybe he did need one night away from everything that he was dealing with for the past week. She doubted he could ignore it no matter how much he wished, but she’d let him try.

So they went home. Kept their routine. Pretended like everything was fine.

The question of whether or not it worked ceased to exist when the phone call from Angela came. Tim seemed reluctant to answer so Lucy did so for him. She was only on the phone for a minute, but he could tell from her expression it was not good news.

“Something went wrong, and Isabel was shot in the head. She’s still alive, and they’re taking her to Shaw Memorial. Angela is on her way over right now to drive you to the hospital.” Tim stared at her so blankly that Lucy feared he missed what she said. She took his hand and squeezed so that he’d realize someone was here for him. “Tim? Tim, did you hear me? She’s still alive. Isabel still has a chance.”

She held his hand until Angela knocked on the door. Tim unwillingly let go of her so she could answer it. Angela nodded at Lucy before moving toward where Tim was now standing. “Are you ready?”

He took enough time without saying anything that Lucy and Angela looked at each other worriedly. Finally, he looked at Lucy. “Come with me.”

“What?”

“Please. I need you.”

She agreed. Not that she could deny him anything in this moment. They left Angela with her goddaughter, and Lucy drove them to the hospital. There wasn’t much the doctors could tell Tim. They had rushed Isabel into surgery, and it would take a while before there would be any news. After a couple of hours of waiting, Lucy was able to convince Tim to go back home so he could get some real sleep, shower, change and eat. Then come back later in the morning when the doctors could tell him more.

But after the shower, change of clothes, food that Lucy practically forced on him, and both acknowledging sleep was never going to happen; he informed her that he’d be going to the precinct for his shift instead.

“Tim, you know Sergeant Grey will give you the time off. You should take it.”

“No, what I need to do is work. Fine the guy who did this. There is nothing I can do for Isabel at the hospital.”

Lucy relented because she knew she’d never be able to change Tim’s mind. But as soon as they got to the station, she sought out Angela. “I’m worried Tim might go too far today if someone can’t talk him down. And I’m not sure if Jackson can.”

“You want me to talk to Grey? See if he’ll allow for a rookie switch for the day so you can watch out for Tim?”

Lucy nodded. “Do you think Grey will allow that?”

“With what Tim’s going through right now, I think he might insist on it.” Angela said as she walked away.

By the time Lucy had finished changing into her uniform, Angela had gotten permission from Grey for the switch. They spoke to Jackson who had his own incident last night when the brother of the guy Nolan had shot broke into Nolan’s home to attack him. Luckily, he didn’t realize Jackson was there, and the two of them were able to subdue the guy. With everything that happened, Lucy was glad she was there for Tim instead. Nolan might have needed a physical presence, but Tim needed an emotional one.

They met up with Grey, Tim, Bishop, and the detectives on the case in the briefing room. The three training officers and two rookies would be sent to the apartment building of Cesiah Olivo, the girlfriend of Marcus Vance who was responsible for shooting Isabel.

When the meeting was over, only Lucy and Tim were left in the room. “You asked Grey for permission to ride with me?”

“Technically Angela did, but yeah. I thought you might need me. But if I was wrong, I can go...”

He interrupted her. “No. It was a good idea.” He didn’t elaborate. Instead he told her, “Go kit up our shop. Ask Mike for the Bradford special.”

“What is that?”

“You’ll see.”

When they got to the Bronson Estates, the Bradford special turned out to be a trauma plate for her vest. A little extra protection, he told her.

As luck or fate or whatever you would have it, Tim and Lucy were the ones who found Cesiah’s apartment. Though more surprised to find her nine months pregnant. Tim tried to talk her into giving up Vance, but none of his tough tactics were working.

Instead Lucy appealed to something she knew would have a better chance with the young woman: her maternal instincts. “Cesiah, do you really want a guy like that taking care of your child? There’s no guarantee that he’ll keep you around after this baby is born.”

Tim picked up the phone. “All you have to do is call him. Say you’re not feeling well. You’re worried about the baby.”

“I can’t.”

“It’s one call. We get him out of your life for good. Make sure you and the baby are safe.”

“You promise?” Distrust clear in her voice.

“He hurt someone I care about. He’s going away forever.” That must have been enough to convince Cesiah because she did as he asked and made the call.

However, shortly after the call was done, they heard gunshots in the building. When they couldn’t get any response from the radios, Cesiah informed them about Vance’s frequency jammer. Soon Vance and a couple of his guys were stationed outside the apartment. He demanded Cesiah leave with him. Tim, knowing he and Lucy would never leave this building alive and Cesiah wouldn’t have much of a life if they gave her up, called Vance’s bluff. Buying them a little more time.

Unfortunately, Cesiah’s water broke just as Vance’s men were about to break through the door. With a rigged body cam as their sight, and Tim using both their weapons to shoot through the door, they managed to stop them. But immediately shots were fired back causing them to drop to the floor for cover.

When the shooting stopped, Lucy immediately went to Cesiah to help her get comfortable.

“I need to go to the hospital. The baby’s coming,” Cesiah pleaded.

“I know. I know, but that’s not possible right now.”

“So what? You’re gonna deliver my baby?”

Lucy looked back at Tim who nodded. “Yes. I guess I am.”

Minutes into her labor, Lucy tried to calm Cesiah. “Okay, just breathe. I know that sounds cliche, but I swear to you it does work. I speak from personal experience.”

“You’re a mom?”

“Yeah. I know you’re birth plan didn’t involve a cop and your couch. Mine didn’t involve being a month early and practically alone, but I promise you I will protect you and your baby.” Once Cesiah seemed to be reassured, Lucy went to the kitchen to get another towel. Tim followed her.

“Any reason you aren’t the one delivering this baby?”

“You have more personal experience.”

“On the other side. I wasn’t responsible for catching the baby. Plus I had a c-section so I kind of skipped that final pushing the baby out part.”

“Right. But she’s scared and feels like she’s alone. With only strangers to help. And like you said, you do understand that.” His voice was soft, and when she looked at him she could see the pain in his eyes.

She knew Tim regretted not being there for her and Angie even though there was nothing either of them could have done to change it. He probably always would. But the middle of a standoff was not the time to ruminate on any regrets. They needed to keep their heads clear. So she opted to ease the tension with a joke. “Fine. But don’t think I don’t know the real reason is because the idea of birth freaks you out.”

Tim knew what she was doing and appreciated it. “Whatever gets you and not me helping her.”

Not long later, Lucy helped Cesiah deliver a healthy baby girl. But there was barely any time to celebrate before Tim realized the hallway outside was empty. “Something’s not right.”

At the sound of a bang, he only had seconds to shout “Look out!” before Vance and his guys came bursting into the apartment. Tim saw one of the guys take a shot at Lucy which knocked her off her feet. Only his years of experience helped him override his fear. He got the gun away from the guy before shooting off a couple of rounds at the others who followed.

Lucy came to seconds later to the sounds of Cesiah’s screams. Pulling the chest plate from out of her uniform, she dropped it before standing up and taking her back up weapon out from her ankle holster. She trained the gun on Vance who quickly fled the scene leaving Cesiah and her newborn alone.

Then Lucy joined Tim in his fist fight with Vance’s men. She took out the leg of one guy which gave Tim the advantage he needed to take the other guy on his own. Though Lucy’s opponent was much larger than her, she managed to knock him on the ground and use pepper spray on him to make him back off. When she got back on her feet, she pulled her gun on him. Meanwhile, Tim read the other man his rights. He looked back to ensure Lucy was okay. Never more grateful to see her armed and ready to shoot as she stood over a criminal. They shared a look. Acknowledging that they made a great team. But Tim hoped she could see more in his eyes.

When all was said and done, Vance was in the back of a police car while Cesiah was in an ambulance headed for the hospital.

Tim stood by Lucy as she watched the ambulance drive away. “Cesiah said she was going to name the baby Lucy.”

He gave her a genuine smile. “And the cycle continues.”

They took a moment to appreciate being alive and getting their job done. But Lucy knew the world couldn’t stand still forever.“After shift, I can drop you off at the hospital. Isabel should be out of surgery by now.’

“I checked in. The doctor said the surgery went well, but they’ll know more after she awakes from anesthesia which may take a while. I can go later. Right now, I have the strongest urge to hug our daughter as soon as possible.” When they were in the middle of the standoff, Isabel hadn’t entered his mind. He wanted to do his duty as always, but on a personal level his mind was on Lucy. Making sure they both got home to their daughter. And if all else failed, hope that at least Lucy would.

“Yeah? You’ll have to fight me for that first hug.” Seriously. She might never let their daughter go. Deep in her bones, she felt Cesiah’s primal scream as she fought for her child. Must have been what brought her back to her senses after being knocked off her feet.

“I saw what you did to that guy back there. I think I’m okay with letting you go first.”

“Tim Bradford: Afraid to deliver to a baby. Afraid to get his ass kicked by a woman. What will people say about your reputation?”

“That I’m smart enough to know when you should take charge.”

Despite feeling drained of all her energy after today, she still blushed. “We’ll see.”

***

Tim did go the hospital and was relieved to learn Isabel’s surgery was a success. Of course she would need time to recover, but the doctor didn’t foresee any long term complications. She woke up almost an hour after Tim arrived and spoke a few words, but obviously her energy was low. He understood her need for rest. And he didn’t stay much longer after she went back to sleep. While he worried about her, Tim knew this wasn’t where he wanted to be. His heart was pulling him back home. Back to where Lucy and Angie were waiting for him.

After securing the house, he went straight to Angie’s bedroom. Not at all surprised to find Lucy curled up in the chair next to the crib. He couldn’t fault Lucy’s need to be near their daughter right now. Today was the closest he came to fearing he would lose everyone he held dear. That he might not make it home to see his daughter again. And then the fear that Lucy wouldn’t get up from that shot she took to the chest. He doesn’t know what he would have done if she hadn’t.

He checked to make sure Angie was sleeping peacefully before he went to Lucy. As much he knew she needed the rest after today, he thought she might prefer a good night’s sleep in her own bed instead of risking a crick in her neck come morning. He gently shook her awake.

As Lucy came to, she instinctively looked toward the crib.

“She’s fine. Still sleeping.” Tim assured her.

“How’s Isabel?”

“She’s going to be okay. The doctor says she should make a full recovery.”

Lucy released the breath she’d been holding. “That’s great. I’m relieved for her. And for you, Tim.”

“Yeah.” He looked her over. “What about you? How are you doing after everything that happened today?”

“I’m good. I do have a bruise,” She pointed to her chest. “But thanks to the Bradford special, I’ll be okay.” She smiled at him, and he gladly returned it. He helped pull her out of the chair, and together they left the room.

While Tim was at the hospital, Lucy thought about everything she wanted to say to him. After the events of today, she realized there really was no point in putting off saying what needed to be said. Even if it hurt. So before she walked back to her room, she turned back to speak to Tim. If she didn’t say this now, she feared she’d lose the courage to do so. “Tim?”

He turned to look at her. “Yeah?”

“I made a mistake before.”

“I don’t understand.”

“When you first told me you wanted to stay out of Isabel’s life. I knew that was wrong, but I didn’t say anything because I was scared.” She looked down. Afraid to meet his eyes. “And selfish. I was still hoping we could be something. But I know better now.”

“Lucy...”

That made her look up. She needed him to hear her. To believe her. “Just listen. You have a big heart. You don’t like to admit it, but you do. I know you thought you’d be betraying Angie if you helped Isabel. And maybe even thought it was a betrayal to Isabel to want Angie in your life. But you don’t have to choose. Your heart is big enough to love them both.” She took a deep breath to calm herself before continuing. “Clearly, you don’t want me. Not like what you had with Isabel. But I think you might convince yourself one day that you do want me because you’re afraid if you lose me, then I’ll take Angie with me. And I don’t want to be someone you end up with by default because you’re afraid to lose your daughter.”

“No, wait...” He tried to stop her.

But Lucy was too focused to stop. “I’m not going to keep Angie from you. I don’t even blame you for thinking that. After everything you’ve been through, I understand. But I promise you, whatever we are, I will always make sure Angie stays in your life. When Isabel is better, whatever you want, we’ll make it work. You’re Angie’s father, Tim. Nothing will change that.” She hoped he believed her. She didn’t want him to worry.

Before Tim had the chance to say anything, she left and closed the door to her room. Shutting him out.

A thousand bullets didn’t scare him, but one speech from Lucy had him frozen in fear. Because he realized Lucy was both right and wrong. He didn’t love her like he once loved Isabel. That love was born of a younger man who was excited to find someone who loved him as much as he loved her.

What he felt for Lucy was more. To have a love and lose a love and still want to fall in love again. To risk all that hurt again. Because Lucy was worth it. Worth every possible ounce of pain because he knew she’d still be there with him on the other side of it. And even if he didn’t believe he was worthy of her, she made him feel as though he was.

He cursed himself for not seeing that until today. When he almost lost her physically. When he could still lose her emotionally.

But if he went to her now, she wouldn’t believe him. She’d think his declaration was just the pretty words of a desperate man who didn’t trust her promise. He needed to show her how he felt so she would believe him.

Being Angie’s mother might have been what brought Lucy so deeply into his life in the beginning.

However, the love he felt for Lucy now is why Tim would do everything he could to convince her to stay.

Chapter Text

Tim worried Lucy might withdraw from him now, or everything might be awkward again; but she seemed to be keeping to her promise that they would remain on good terms for Angie’s sake. He didn’t know if that made it more easy or more difficult to convince her of his love. But he was determined to try.

He listened when she wanted to talk about work or anything else that crossed her mind. If she needed to vent on her worst days, he was there. Gave advice when she wanted it. Watched Angie when she needed time for herself. Made her favorite recipes. Or ordered her favorite meals when his attempts failed. When she needed a distraction, he offered trips to the beach or the park. Or sometimes they’d take car rides as a family. No destination in mind. Just being together.

He also quickly learned how much she loved the holiday season. He’d never been one who celebrated Christmas much, especially in the last few years, but this year was different for many reasons. He was dead set on going all out to make Lucy and Angie happy.

They spent a night decorating the Christmas tree Lucy had picked out at the tree lot that morning. He shouldn’t have been surprised when she picked the most awkward looking tree. With missing branches and practically tilting in crookedness. She swore with lights and ornaments it would look perfect. However, lights and ornaments weren’t something he had lying around the house. Lucy usually only decorated a small tree for herself. And even last year with Angie’s first Christmas, she was too exhausted to do more than her traditional tiny tree. But she wanted something bigger for this year, so a trip to the store had them set for lights (both indoor and outdoor), tinsel (which he knew was going to end up more on the floor than on the tree; he was right), ball ornaments of red, green, and silver (distributed evenly on the tree per Lucy’s orders), and some more random ornaments that she thought would look good. Plus a can of fake snow because they had to be realistic about the chances of real snow hitting the Los Angeles area.

As they decorated the tree, they sung Christmas carols. Well, mostly Lucy sang but she managed to get him to join in on the chorus every once in a while. Angie would help by occasionally pointing to places where they should hang an ornament. Usually too close to another hanging ornament, but they indulged her. As the tallest (and because they still hadn’t managed to buy a foot stool), it fell to Tim to hang the star on the top of the tree. When they finished Lucy declared it a success, and Tim had to agree. Mostly because the side with the missing branches faced the wall, but still it was the best time Tim ever had decorating a Christmas tree.

The next day he dutifully hung the Christmas lights on the house exactly to Lucy’s specifications. He’s pretty sure their house can now be seen from space, and the electric bill will double if not triple for the month; but the way Lucy’s eyes lit up at the sight made the actual lights seem dim in comparison. He’d keep the lights up all year round if she wanted.

The house was filled with other Christmas decorations as well. Kitschy dancing Santas. Why she needed more than one, he didn’t know and didn’t ask. She also had an extensive nutcracker doll collection from her travels around the world which he thought was pretty cool. And she was excited to tell him all about where she picked up each one when he asked. Her collection derived from her love of the original story and not the ballet. How the protagonist swore to love the toy soldier nutcracker no matter how he looked or how broken he was, and thus saved him from his curse.

When she suggested posing for photo Christmas cards, he agreed. Until she told him they could each take separate photos with Angie to mail to their friends and family. He convinced her they should at least take one photo together as a family. Pressing the importance of having options. Then he made sure that photo was the best of the group by tickling Angie’s foot so she’d giggle as the photo was being taken. Lucy couldn’t deny it beat all the others. Tim never said he was one to play fair.

She deemed herself the best gift giver ever, and he readily accepted her gift suggestions for his family and friends. As they were wrapping presents, he must have made a pitiful sight with his attempts because she carefully showed him how to get crisp, even lines. He paid attention and tried to follow her directions. Still ended up using either too much or not enough paper. And somehow went through twice as much tape as she did. Eventually, she took pity on him and wrapped the gifts for him. But she told him they’d keep the presents he wrapped for Angie as is since she wouldn’t notice anyway.

Speaking of gifts, he might have gone overboard on the presents for Angie. However, since it was his first Christmas with her, Lucy acquiesced. On the promise that in the future any presents which required someone to put them together were of his purview. He accepted her terms if only because it meant she expected them to spend future Christmases together.

Because he often took the holiday shift so other officers could spend the day with their family, Grey was more than understanding when Tim asked for the shift off this year. And a few Lakers’ tickets ensured Lucy also had the shift off.

On Christmas morning, Angie had made out like a bandit. Tim gave her everything any growing LA sports fan could want. Lucy opted for educational toys because you could take the woman out of psychology, but you couldn’t take the psychology out of the woman. In addition to the gifts Angie received from his mother and sisters, she also got many gifts from her honorary aunts and uncles. Angela and Talia sent toys. The Greys gave her a set of beautiful and comfortable blankets. Jackson gave her a perfect replica of a police uniform in her current size with the promise of more sizes as she got older --- which explained so much about his rookie. Nolan built her a handmade toy chest. Surprising Tim with the knowledge that he had also painted the beach scenes on the box himself. Perhaps there was more to the oldest rookie that Tim had yet to see. At any rate, the gift would certainly be filled to the brim after today.

After all her gifts were open, or more accurately after her gifts were open by Tim and Lucy while Angie proved to be more interested in playing with the wrapping paper, Lucy decided it was time for Angie’s nap. She went to put her down while Tim retrieved the gift he got for Lucy from its hiding place. He learned she liked to snoop, but one good thing about her avoiding his bedroom meant that her present remained a secret. He tried his best to remember what she said about thinking about the person the gift was for, but he was still nervous for her reaction.

He met Lucy back in the living room where she was holding the gift she intended for him.

“Should we open them at the same time?”

She appeared as nervous as he was. “I actually wanted to see your reaction, if that’s okay?”

“Yeah. You want me to go first?” At her nod, he took the gift while handing over hers.

Perfectly wrapped as expected, he attempted to open it carefully before she rolled her eyes. “You can go ahead and rip the paper. I’ve seen how your daughter is.”

He laughed as he did as she permitted. Beneath the paper was a box, and inside the box was a beautifully decorated photo album. On the cover was their new family Christmas photo. Opening it revealed several pictures. Some of which he’d never seen before. They started with photos of Lucy during her pregnancy carefully showing her growing belly. Then there were photos of Angie shortly after her birth. Photos showing the moments he had missed during that first year. Lucy’s handwriting accompanied the photos explaining each one.

“I took them for you as much I did for me. I was always hoping I could show them to you one day,” she admitted.

The pages continued this time including pictures of him. The first photo he ever took with his daughter. Her asleep snuggled on his chest while he slept on the sofa. He knew it was still Lucy’s lock screen. Others were selfies he took with daughter. More photos Lucy took of them. Selfies he took of the three of them because his longer arms could make sure everyone was in the shot. Pictures he took of Lucy and Angie together. Some of which he didn’t realize she knew about.

The photos of their relatively short time together outnumbered the photos from the year he missed. And there were several blank pages waiting to be filled. The message was clear: Tim would have more time with Angie than he missed, and Lucy would be keeping her promise to make sure that happened.

“Thank you.” Those words didn’t seem to be enough when he was grateful for more than the gift. He tried to discreetly wipe the tears from his eyes. Sure he failed, but thankfully Lucy chose not to comment.

He gestured for her to open her gift, and she eagerly tore into the wrapping paper. “Apparently, our daughter doesn’t get her love of ripping paper from just me.”

Lucy stuck out her tongue at him as she opened her the present box, but her laughter melted into surprise as she saw the toy nutcracker painted to look like a policeman. After she told him how much she loved the story, he thought it would be a perfect addition to the gift he had been planning for months. Carefully, nestled inside the nutcracker’s mouth was a jewelry box. Not that kind of jewelry box. He was smart enough to know now was not the right time.

Rather the box contained a set of opal stud earrings. Lucy wore an opal ring which was Angie’s October birthstone. She liked wearing it so she could always feel connected to her daughter, but she could only wear it off duty. With these earrings, she would have a reminder of that connection while she worked. A time when she needed it the most.

Lucy carefully set her presents on the coffee table before she pulled Tim in for a hug. “It’s the best present I’ve ever gotten. Both of them,” she told him as she held him.

“Mine too,” he whispered into her neck. He wanted to hold on to her longer. Reluctant to let her go as she pulled away from him.

“We should probably get started on dinner if we want to eat at a decent time.” It would be just the two of them so they hadn’t planned anything extravagant, but they had agreed to cook the meal together.

Tim hoped he had done enough to convince Lucy how he felt, but maybe at this point she really needed to hear the words. He wasn’t much for talking about his feelings, but for her he’d do anything. Make every effort.

“Lucy, wait.” She stopped walking toward the kitchen, but made no move back toward the sofa so he came to her. “You were right in that I do care about Isabel. I always will because she was a big part of my life, but I’m not in love with her. I haven’t been for a long time. I held on to hope that she’d come back because I thought I should. Because I didn’t want to fail her. But even before that what Isabel and I had was gone when I could no longer trust her.” He watched carefully as Lucy accepted his words as the truth.

“And you know I love our daughter, but she is not the reason I want you in my life.” That got a look of genuine surprise from Lucy. He slowly moved forward into her space, afraid she might back away from him. “If there is a world where I never entered that bar, I hope to God we still would’ve met because I can’t imagine what my life would be like without you in it. I don’t want to.” He moved closer still as Lucy’s eyes began to shine with tears.

“I can’t point to the moment when I began falling in love with you because it’s been happening more every day since you entered my life again, and I don’t want to ever stop.”

She threw her arms around him. Kissing him with all the emotion he put into his words. He quickly wrapped his arms around her, fearful she might change her mind. But as she leaned back, her smile indicated she had no intention of doing so. “I’m falling in love with you too.”

He’d never been more relieved, pulling her back to him for another kiss. As she began pushing him back toward his bedroom, he didn’t want to stop. He wouldn’t make that same mistake again, but he had to know she wouldn’t regret this. “Are you sure?”

“Yes. Don’t you think it’s time we finally made it to a bed?”

He laughed. “Damn straight.”

He dipped to kiss her again, running his fingers through her hair. Her hands traced the muscles through his shirt before she found the edge and started eagerly lifting it over his head. He might have laughed at her impatience, if he wasn’t just as enthusiastic as she was. He returned the favor, and as soon as her shirt was gone, he began lowering himself to place a kiss on her lips before he began slowly placing a trail of kisses down her neck, across one side of her collarbone before lowering one of her bra straps to place more kisses on her shoulder. Then he kissed another path along the top of her breasts, holding her gaze as he dropped tender caresses along her skin before giving the same treatment to the other side of her neck, collarbone and other shoulder. Finally, he reached around to unhook her bra and let it fall to the ground. One hand cupped a breast as his thumb circled her nipple while his mouth brought her other nipple to harden. Lucy held his head to her body, loosening her hold only enough so he’d give her other breast the same attention.

He smiled into her chest as she resisted letting him move away. His whispered promise of more to come the only reason she released him. While on his knees he unbuttoned her pants, placing more kisses along the top edge of her underwear. He didn’t remove them just yet, thinking they’d never make it to the bedroom if he did. She helped him remove her pants before he got back on his feet so he could lift her in his arms as she wrapped her legs around his waist. He carried her into the bedroom, hungrily kissing her along the way.

He gently placed her on the bed, following her with a deep kiss as she moved back closer to the headboard. As he hovered above her, he retraced his efforts from before, taking his time to appreciate her gorgeous naked body. He recognized the differences from their first time together, but they only made her more beautiful in his eyes. The way her body had changed to care for their child. A possessive thought he would never admit to out loud crossed his mind as he acknowledged he had a part in those changes.

But what amazed him more was that she was actually here. In his bed. And she loved him. How did he get so lucky? He vowed to never take her for granted again. Knew he wouldn’t deserve another chance if he did.

Determined to show her just how much he worshiped her, he teased her heated flesh through her underwear. The noises she made driving him wild. She urged more from him, desperate to feel his tongue or fingers at her core. He obliged by removing her panties and filling her first with one then two fingers, pumping as he rubbed her clit. Bringing her to the edge again and again with his movements before he watched her come apart as her orgasm hit. She screamed into a pillow as her pleasure washed over her.

After she came down from her high, she beckoned him to join her so he removed his jeans and briefs before laying down beside her. She lovingly kissed him as she reached for his cock; already half hard from being near her, it didn’t take much of her stroking to have him ready. But as he moved above her, a thought crossed his mind. “Fuck!”

“That’s kind of the idea,” she joked.

“No. I don’t have a condom.” He didn’t want to jinx their relationship by assuming anything, and only now was he realizing that was a stupid way to approach the possibility.

“Oh, what happened to the always prepared Officer Bradford?” she teased as she nipped at his neck.

Against his better judgment considering his current predicament, he leaned forward brushing his pelvis against her center in retaliation. The sensation had her opening her legs wider to accommodate him, grinding herself against his body. They lost themselves in the intimate feeling of skin on skin combined with much needed friction before Tim finally stopped her hips. Not wanting his body to start something they wouldn’t be able to take back.

“Tim, it’s okay. I told you I haven’t been with anyone since you. I’m clean, and I’ve been very careful about my birth control since...you know.” He got it. He loved being a parent, but another kid wasn’t something he was ready to consider right now.

“Oh, good. I mean, I’m clean too.”

“So what are you waiting for?” She asked as she pressed her hips back against his body.

He held onto her exquisitely thick thighs as he slid between her legs. The feel of her hot, tight center causing him to groan. His memory of their previous night didn’t do justice to how incredible it felt to be inside her again. She squeezed him, and it took every ounce of restraint to not come right then and there. He wanted to make this good for her. Good for them both. When he calmed a bit, he rocked back and forth. Giving them both a little friction to ease into. Then he pulled almost all the way out before pushing back into her again. They soon found the their rhythm, punctuating each thrust with kisses and touches.

Lucy clawed at his back when he found a particular spot so he repeated the action, loving the feel of the sting along his skin. She grabbed his ass to push him into her deeper, and he held himself there before pulling back out so he could drive into her again. Her moaning spurring him on.

Sometimes he swore as close as their bodies got, it wasn’t nearly close enough. The sight of her as she moved beneath him, the taste of her skin, the smell of her hair, the sound of her voice as she urged him on, the feel of her hands gripping him. It was everything to him. He would never get enough.

Soon Tim realized he wouldn’t be able to last much longer so he reached between them to get Lucy off again. To muffle the sounds of her screams as she came, she bit his shoulder. The sudden jolt combined with the feel of her around him triggered his own release. They rode out their pleasure together.

As their breathing returned to normal, he rested his forehead against hers. They took a moment to bask in the afterglow of their love making before Tim had to pull out and move off of Lucy. As soon as he laid back down beside her, she moved to rest against him. Laying her head on his chest as he wrapped an arm around her. He kissed the top of her head as his fingers played with the bottom strands of her hair. She drew slow patterns across his chest before gently tracing the same scars she had seen their first night. Plus the new one he had earned on their first day working together. That seemed like both yesterday and a lifetime ago. She had been so angry with him, and he deserved it. But at the end of the day she didn’t deny him the chance to be a father. He’d be incredibly grateful every day that she made that decision.

She must have caught sight of her teeth marks on his shoulder because she leaned over him to get a closer look. Gently touching them. “Oh God, I’m so sorry I did that to you.”

He stopped her worrying with a kiss. “Don’t be. Best wound I’ve ever gotten. And it was insanely hot knowing how good I made you feel.”

“Uh huh, you know I made you feel just as good right back.”

“Won’t deny that.”

He wouldn’t deny the way Lucy made him feel ever again. As they laid in bed sharing kisses and soft touches, Tim felt the happiest he’d ever been in years. Now that he had a reason to celebrate the holidays, he looked forward to experiencing more of them in the future with his treasured family.