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trials and tribulations of a tiny couch

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Will and Diego get assigned the Early shift as punishment for Will saving that kid’s life. Will doesn't really mind. Diego whines for three days.

The bright side is that they can now have breakfast at their favorite 24 hour diner without having to deal with a crowd. No one else is trying to wolf down waffles and bacon at 3 am. They get to have their favorite booth and an entire pot of coffee to themselves. Will enjoys the simple things in life.    


 

  There is a girl sitting in their booth. She has blue headphones on around her neck and is gazing rather despondently at the pancakes in front of her.

  "If they messed up your order they don't mind making it again," Will tells her because she looks about ready to cry.

  "Why are they so thick, and big?" she asks, almost like she can't help it.

 "Um...." Will looks at Diego who raises his eyebrows and and spins on his heel away from this conversation. But not before giving Will a wink and a thumbs up. "That's how Hernando makes pancakes," Will offers but the girl does not seem pleased.

  "They should be thin," she explains. "With creme. And folded."

  "You mean like Crepes," Will figures out.

  "Isn't that the french folded thing?" The girl looks up at him finally and smiles with a scrunched up nose. She is fucking beautiful.

   "Maybe?" Will rubs the back of his head. "Here, let's ask." Will motions for Daniella to come over. "Can she get open crepes instead?"

   "Oh sure thing!" Daniella is off with the old plate and the girl looks at Will with a pleased smile.

   "Thank you," she tells him.

   "You're welcome," Will grins back. He can tell from her face that she wants to be alone now so Will goes back to the booth that Diego has claimed and sits facing away specifically so he won’t be a bother.


 

   The next morning Will looks around the diner hoping to see her.

   "Who you looking for, Gorski?" Diego asks with a shit eating grin. "Hoping Tinker Bell might need saving again?"

   "You watch too many cartoons," Will tells his partner.

   "I got a little girl okay. My netflix is trapped in the Kids profile at this point. I don't remember the last time I got to watch an adult show."

   "You guys went to see Age of Ultron," Will reminds his friend.

   "They really need more Black Widow merch, man." Diego goes into his man tales of the struggles to find toys his daughter actually wants. There is a real lack of fighting robots aimed for little girls who want to blow things up but while wearing a pink tutu.

   She's not there.


 

   

   It takes a while but Will realizes that she only comes in Thursday through Monday. He smiles at her every time and she grins up at him. Diego thinks he needs to get up the nerve to ask her out. Will thinks that he knows it's rude to ask a girl out when she is having a meal and wearing headphones, the international sign for 'leave me alone.'

   


 

   Will has a night off. Normally that means renting a movie and drinking a six pack. Or getting laundry done and eating a deep dish pizza. But half the station is going out to some new club and Will knows that socializing with his coworkers is a good idea. His dad has a reputation around town but he is still the new guy who tends to be overly nice to the criminals.

   He puts on a tight shirt and those skinny jeans his last girlfriend convinced him to buy. The outfit is a big hit because apparently he was the only guy of the group going that didn't just wear normal bar clothes.

   "Gorski you clean up good!"

   "Do he got the booty?"

   "He do!"

   "Some of you spend too much time on the internet," Will points out.

   The club is crowded but apparently the bartender has been warned that the local precinct is having a night out so they get special wrist bands for three dollar shots. Will gets a little drunk. Not a lot,because he is here with coworkers but just loose enough to really dance and get out on the floor and jump around with the crowd. He normally doesn't like club music but this is a ton of fun.

   He looks up and sees HER spinning. She is electric. She is awe inspiring. It feels like watching art.

   Will knows he is standing still and drawing attention to himself but he can't find it in him to tear his eyes away from her.     

   She goes to the diner after work. OH.

   


 

   Riley didn't know what she was expecting. Something different. But it turns out America is just as empty as London. She still finds herself hollow to the core. Eventually this hole in her chest should get smaller or easier but mostly she just feels like she has made a mistake.

   She has gotten good at not crying. Riley will cry when it's time to cry but when she is just going about her day is not the time. Trying to eat breakfast is not the time. Or dinner really. She had been ready to just eat the horribly huge pancakes and not say anything when HE had walked up.

   In all her life Riley had never met anyone who radiated Warm the way this man did. Even with the uniform and the buzz cut he looked like a sweater. His aura felt like that blanket back home, the one she used to wrap herself in when she was feeling down and missed the feel of her mother's hugs.

   He didn’t ask her why she is crying. He didn’t try to tell her to smile (something Riley has grown tired of in men). He just helped her solve the problem in front of her. And then walked away before she could convince herself she should say something else.

   It's rare to find that in a person. Someone who just knows not to press the issue or continue when there is a clear end. It's refreshing.

   Riley goes back to the diner. The night shift waitress learns just the way she likes her pancakes and coffee. The diner feels like a safe place now. She doesn't have many of those. He is there most days too, with his partner, but he keeps his distance. He will smile or wave but he always sits facing away from her.

   It should feel like a snub of some kind. Maybe others would see it that way. Riley just knows he is letting her have her space and respecting her choices to be alone. Like leaving a cup of tea out for when her dad was too busy with his music. Knowing that she could be near but not that she was needed.

   The wind doesn't blow through the hole in her heart quite the same way that day.


 

   Riley is barely awake. She should have gone to bed earlier but she hadn't been able to sleep. Laying in bed for hours hating herself had not sounded like a good idea so she had spent most of the night and morning just sitting in the park people watching.

   Riley was a champion people watcher. She liked to sit somewhere just a bit higher than others and look down at all the people going about their days.

   It’s nearly time to go to work and she stumbles out of her apartment and right into someone. She hears the splat of eggs on the sidewalk and mentally curses herself.

   "I'm sorry. So sorry," Riley starts, hoping that some of the food dropped in the bags could be saved.

   "Don't worry about it," a warm voice envelopes her. Riley looks up into the face of the man from the diner. He isn’t in uniform. He’s wearing what Riley had come to realize was casual wear for men in America, a loose pair of athletic shorts and a shirt with the sleeves cut off.

   She had always found the look kind of off putting. It was not something she considered clothes for public consumption. That being said, she might now understand the appeal.

   His muscles jumped and bunched as he picked up the spilled groceries.

   "Sorry for not looking where I was going," Riley offers.

   "It's really fine. I wasn't paying the best attention either." He doesn't seem mad at all. Why isn't he upset at least a little bit? His eggs are completely ruined and it looks like they smashed all over the bruised fruit he is now throwing in the trash can in front of the building.

   "I'm so sorry, sir."

   "Will."

   "What?" Riley blinks at him.

   "My name is Will," he grins at her. A slow smile, like the sun rising on a misty day. She thinks she might smile back. It's hard not to smile at the sunrise.

   "Riley."

   "It's very nice to meet you Riley, officially." It makes her laugh. Or at least huff out a sound that might be a laugh. When was the last time that Riley laughed? She can't really remember the last time she heard her own voice make such a sound. Her phone bings, letting her know that she has a text. Riley looks to see that the manager wants to know if she can take an extra set, the other DJ had called off sick.

   "Oh shit, I have to go to work early." Riley looks up, horrified to have cursed in front of a police officer. He laughs at her look of shock.

   "Have a good set," he wishes her and walks off. It was only later that Riley realized she had never mentioned to him that she was a DJ. She wondered how he knew.

   


 

   Will had shown up to the diner early this morning because Diego needed to fill up the car with gas on his way in. He’s sitting alone in the booth with two cups of coffee in front of him when Riley walks in looking scared. She scans the diner and her eyes go wide with relief when she sees him.

   Riley power walks right up to him and sits down on the same side of the booth as him, grabbing the coffee and pulling it close.

   "Play along," Riley whispers quickly. Three men walk into the diner and scan the room before their eyes narrow in on Riley. She looks frantically at Will before leaning into him and putting her head on his shoulder. Will doesn’t even tell his arm to go around her shoulders, it just does it of its own free will. He’s overly pleased at how well they slot together.

   The one in front approaches and Riley tenses up under Will's arm and he knows that now was the moment to play up whatever this was. He leans forward a bit and places a kiss on the top of Riley's head.

   "You have a good set, sweetie?" Will asks, a little louder than absolutely necessary. The guy approaching stops and looks like he’s calculating his approach.

   Diego, like the valiant knight on a horse that he was, appears at that exact moment in the door and brushes past the twitchier looking men.

   "Gorski!" Diego greets and then adds, "Hey girl! Haven’t seen you in a while, you haven't been ignoring my texts have you?" Like Will normally sat with a girl wrapped under his arm at breakfast. And that they were all good friends. The guys at the door and the one walking up seemed to decide this was a bad idea and left.

   When the door jingles shut Riley slumps forward in the booth and lays her head down on the table top.

   "Thank you so much," her voice rushs out in relief.

   "Were those men bothering you?" Will asks before Diego can. Riley looks up at Will and then glances at Diego slightly as if unsure.

   "I will be right back. Forgot my wallet in the car," Diego says, clearly reading the signs and overly acting up patting his pockets. Will can see the outline of the trifold in Diego's right front pocket. Will takes a sip of his coffee, looking his best to seem completely relaxed and not about to crawl out of his skin to go arrest those men for looking at Riley funny.

   "They think I have something of theirs," Riley says simply.

   "But you don't." It's a statement, Will can see in her face that if she did have it she would have turned it over right away. She shakes her head frantically.

   "Have they done anything we could use to get a restraining order?" Will asks but the moment he says that Riley looks shocked and scared; she even inches away from him. "Tell you what," Will pulls out his card. "Take my cell number. You call or text me any time of day if they try to bother you again and I will be there." He scribbles his cell number on the back of the card and slides it across the table to her. She pulls out her phone and enters the number right away.

   Will tries very hard not to blush and smile at the fact that she did that so quickly and in front of him. His phone bings. He looks to see that he has a text from an unknown number with a coffee cup emoji. He saves her to his contacts as Riley Blue, not knowing her last name but being slightly anal retentive about keeping his contacts in a first name and last name setting.

   "Thank you so much." Riley looks bashful and ready to beat a retreat when Diego returns.

   "Breakfast on me you two," his partner announces. "This morning calls for breakfast meats until I feel sick."

   Riley stays. She sits with them and talks softly about the meal and the set she just had. Will and Diego make an effort not to pressure her. By the time the meal is over she looks sleepy and bleary eyed.

   "Enjoy your sleep," Will wishes her as she stumbles out of the dinner looking ready to curl up in bed. He is glad she doesn't look so scared. He is also glad she is gone.

   "Did you get plates?" Will asks his partner the moment Riley is out the door and around the corner.

   "Yes I did." Diego looks extremely pleased with himself. "And Hernando agreed to let me look at any security footage they might have."

   "Good." Those men might not have done anything illegal but under some of the more grey laws in America Will and Diego can at least investigate what they are doing.     


 

   Will doesn't expect to hear from Riley any time soon. He desperately wants to send her texts and ask how she is doing but he knows that she seems to be a bit skittish to begin with so he waits. It's a painful kind of waiting. Luckily it only lasts two days.

   "Help." With an address.

   Will is off duty so he rushes over there as fast as humanly possible. It's an apartment building not far from his gym and the grocery store he goes to afterward. That's why he ran into her here that one time. He slows down as he arrives because he realizes that there are men outside the building. One of them looks familiar. He narrows his eyes at them.

   Riley had given the code to buzz himself in and her apartment number in the text message so he lets himself in, having memorized the number on the way over. When he knocks on the door there is a delay that must be Riley checking the peep hole to see who it is. She opens the door with a relieved little smile.

   "Will. Hi." She holds the door open for him. Her apartment is an efficiency, a little smaller than his own. He at least has the benefit of some walls to divide his bed from his living space. Riley simply has one large room with a bookshelf wall to divide the space up just a little bit better. "Sorry to make you come over. I..."

   "It's no problem. I told you I would do it and I am happy to help." Will can tell it’s breaking her up to be in this situation. "You have the right to feel safe." That seems to stun Riley for a moment because she looks as if she has never considered that possibility.

   "I don’t know what to do," Riley admits, sitting on the flimsy couch.

   "You still don't want to file a police report?" Will asks, knowing the answer already. She is too scared right now. He turns to look out the window and sees that the car and the men who were leaning on it are gone.

   He has an idea. It's a stupid idea. But his brain is doing that thing where it just screams something at him until he says it.

   "I have an idea." Riley turns to look at him hopefully. "I think we should date." She looks puzzled. Will wants to bury his face in the cushion. "Appear to be dating. Until they back off." He mentally adds, or until I can find something to lock them up for.     

   "Pretend?" Riley asks, clearly skeptical. Will groans internally eternally for what his brain has made him do.

   "I hang around more but rather than spook them we go with what we kind of started at the diner. I hang around like I'm your boyfriend." She considers this for a while.

   "Okay."

   They iron out what that means. Riley will eat breakfast with them. Will meets her before she goes to work for some time to run errands. They spend the night every now and then at each other's place. Will offers his bed for when she comes and insists he will be find on the sofa at his place and her's. Eventually Will has to leave because he has things to do and Riley needs to work.

   "I know you aren't ready to tell me what this is all about and I won't ask until you are, but I want you to trust me." Will takes her hand and rubs his thumb across the large ring on Riley's middle finger. "When you are ready to make this go away for good I will do everything in my power to fix it."

   


 

   Riley doesn't really understand the point of this. It seems very strange to her, like something out of one of those shows sometimes playing in the diner. Where the people in love have to do crazy things to be together.

   But they aren't in love.

   She can't really complain. Spending time with Will is... plesant? Comforting? Like being back on that rug below the piano. He brings a sense of ease to her life. A small part of her wishes this was real. Another part of her is happy for the facade. She isn't ready to do this again, to let another person in.

   Jaxs hadn't been let in, he had been a distraction. Someone to do drugs with when she wasn't working who didn't ask too many question. He had been perfect - he cared just enough but didn't care enough to be a bother. Then he had to go and make a right mess of things with Nyxs or whatever his name is. Riley doesn't know where the drugs are or the money. She had barely been sober when it had all happened and had stumbled out of the apartment in a daze.     

   Riley was pretty sure that they wouldn't kill her, not until they found the money and the drugs. There had been that secret evil voice that had said 'let them' when she realized who was following her the other night.

   And then she had walked into the diner and looked into the face of Will. He had lit up, looking at her like it was christmas morning. Then he had seen the men behind her and his jaw had tightened.

   That's when the larger part of her said 'I don't go down easy' and decided to fight this. Or flee. That had been her intention today, to get everything the really needed packed up and leave this city. She was already in the country on an expired visa. It's not like they could track her easily once she left town. America might be bigger than countries in europe but it had the same disconnect.

   Will isn't a very good actor. When they are in public and Riley knows at least one man is trying to tail them he is stiff and awkward. His conversation skills at those points leave much to be desired. But he holds her every time like it's completely natural. He shows up at the club right as she gets off work looking sleep rumpled and tucks her into his side without much thought.

   Errands with Will go erratically. Neither of them are any good at planning what they need or writing it down so the first trip to the store is nearly two hours of them wandering every aisle and then having to double back because they forgot something.

   But it's fun.

   He takes her to the park so they can take pictures with some kind of weird bean mirror thing. It's a silly, touristy thing that Riley would never have done on her own.

   It's the sleeping over that proves to be the hardest test. Will's apartment is by the train tracks  and after the first night there Riley is pretty sure she just can't sleep with that. He sleeps through anything except his alarm and the smell of coffee, Riley discovers that night.

   She gets up and turns the lights on and Will just keeps on sleeping. He lays propped up on the sofa with one arm thrown over his eyes and his mouth open, the other arm clutching a pillow to his side.

   It's adorable.

   


 

   Will feels really bad about his apartment. He hadn't even considered the noise, which just goes to show how long he has dealt with it. Riley looks exhausted and harried in the morning and he apologizes forever over breakfast.

   "We can just have sleepovers at your place from now on."


 

   Will is determined not to be a pain, to only be helpful and not intrude. He will not be weird or creepy or at all a problem. He will not. He will not. He can't fit on the sofa.

   

   Riley tries not to say anything as Will lays down on the sofa but his legs are hanging off just past his knees. She ask again if there is anything she can get him and he says he will be fine. She goes and gets ready for bed. Walking out of the bathroom to find Will on his side, pouting, because his legs are now sticking off at the knees, is too funny for words.

   She laughs like she hasn't in a while. He looks so embarrassed and ashamed.

   "I think you will fit in the bed better," Riley offers. Will looks like he is being torn in half.

   "I wouldn't want to impose or make you uncomfortable," he tells her, but he still sits up and begins to move. Riley doesn't mention the men that have already been there. Or that she is now used to sleeping with strangers more than she is used to sleeping alone.

   He lays facing the wall, with his back to her so that he can ‘give her privacy,’ his words. Riley shrugs and lays facing away from him as well. It's awkward and painful in the worst way but he seems to fall asleep quickly and Riley finds herself lulled by his breathing.

   


 

   She is tangled in the blankets and too warm. Magnus is always such a space heater. Riley wiggles her butt into his morning wood and feels a huff against her ear in response.

   That's when it clicks. No beard. Wrong bed. Years. She wants to cry. Her dreams are such horrible cheats that give her her husband and daughter back and then rip them from her in the morning. Her eyes wet the pillow case and yet she doesn't shake off Will's embrace. He sleeps still but he must be waking because his thumb runs circles on her arm and he makes a low hum in the back of his throat.     

   It's unbelievably soothing and comforting. It makes Riley want to cry and smile at the same time. She feels like such an idiot.

   


 

   "You two make it Facebook official yet?" Diego asks Will the next morning.

   "What?" Will feels groggy and unsure about what's happening just this minute. He had overslept. He never oversleeps. His body doesn't know what it's doing and just wants to keep on sleeping.

   "It's just that you smell like different shampoo and body wash and you have," Diego motions to his right cheek, "some pretty big pillow imprints."

   "Wait, you smell me?" Will asks, slightly scandalized.

   "Nah man, but you normally smell like old spice dude stuff and you smell distinctly floral today. I don't have to have a super sniffer to tell that difference," Diego laughs at Will's face.

   "Oh."

   "So you gonna dish the goods or is this one of those special cases where I only get to hear about things after it's over because you are too much of gentleman." Will doesn't say anything, much to Diego's disappointment. He is going to respect Riley's privacy. They aren't really dating. It's not his place to talk.


 

   For a little while Riley kind of forgets why they are doing this. There is a certain amount of routine that occurs. They eat, they text, they go out, they sleep. Riley didn't know how much she really missed another person, another normal person, in her life until she has one and the hole in her fills up. Jacks had been a poor substitute for a real boyfriend; she sees that now.

   Riley isn't really thinking when she goes out to get some toilet paper at the store until she realizes she is being followed. She fumbles for her phone only to realize she doesn't have the phone with her at all. Riley tries not to panic but it's hard. She has resigned herself to running for the next store and begging to use their phone when a pair of hands reach out and grab her, dragging her into the alley. Riley tries to scream.

   "Now love, we promise we won't hurt you if you just tell us where the drugs are now." The voice is Nyx, who is standing in the alley waiting for them. "Tell us quickly and you can go back to that cop you have been fucking no problem. Huh?" Riley shakes her head.

   "I dont have them. Never did." She had checked.

   "That's not what Jacks said." Nyx gives her a look and she just knows things had gone really poorly near the end. She is terrified, good and truly scared. A sob escapes her throat and she thinks that this is going to be the end.

   That's when one of the guys holding her stiffens and then goes down quickly. Another guy drops quickly and then she realizes that Will is behind her in his gym clothes, with a taser in hand.


 

   It turns into a thing. Diego shows up with a few other cops and they arrest Nyx and his goons for assault and also have their confessions to drugs from what Will heard. Riley has to go with them to the station and make a comment, she can't not. She wishes she didn't because her visa is long since expired but Will tells her he can keep that out of the report.

   It takes all night to get everything taken care of but the police assure her that not only does she have a restraining order on Nyx and his goons but that because several local judges are on summer vacation it will actually be several days before they can even set bail so the men will have to wait in lock up.

   Will stays with her the entire time, even after some of the cops tell him to go home because he has a shift in a few hours, but he refuses and brings her coffee instead. It's unbearable, really, that he is still being so nice to her now that it's all over. Riley feels sick to her stomach that he is keeping up this facadeThey have the guys who are stalking her, she doesn't need him anymore and he will probably just leave.

   When Will drops her off at her apartment first thing in the morning Riley braces for this to be the end. For it to be over now. He smiles and pats her hand and walks her to the door.

   "You should get some sleep," Will tells her with a smile. "You don't have to work tomorrow so I am pretty sure that you have the time now to really veg out."

   He leaves with a smile.

   She realizes she never got toilet paper.

   She cries alone in her cold bed.

   


 

   Riley wakes up to several texts from Will.

   "I am thinking we should get Thai for dinner."

   "I could actually drown in Pad Thai right now and be happy."

   "I am substituting food for sleep."

   Riley stares at the texts in confusion.

   But it's over.

   Right?

   The facade. This whole pantomime of them dating doesn't have a purpose. Only, it seems like no one actually told Will that.

   

   He ordered too much Pad Thai. He knows that Riley never responded but he was hungry so he got three orders of Pad Thai and two different veggie-only dishes, hoping they work out. He is mostly sleep walking at this point.

   His shift had been a nightmare. And the traffic had been particularly horrible. Will was just glad that he could walk this part because he would have been a danger to others behind the wheel.

   He uses his key to get into Riley's apartment and sets the food down on the kitchen counter. He doesn't see her but she might have run out to get something.

   That's right, she was out of toilet paper, he should have picked some up.  He opens one of the containers and starts eating, sitting on the terribly small sofa.

   The sofa has to go. It really does. Will is going to buy Riley a nice normal sized sofa that he can fit on. His gift to her and himself.

   It's so uncomfortable.

   Just the wors..........

   


 

   Riley comes back from the store to find Will asleep on the sofa. It's adorable. It's painfully adorable. He still has the take out carton in his hand and there is food gripped on the fork still hovering, but he is limp like the noodles, his head thrown backwards.

   


 

   He wakes up to something being moved out of his hands. His reflex kicks in before he even really knows what is happening and Will comes fully awake with Riley under him on the terrible sofa.

   "Sorry," he says, quickly pulling back. He is the worst. She just had a traumatic experience and he flipped her. He needs to articulate that. "I hope I didn't scare you."

   Riley holds up the fork in her hand that has Pad Thai still twirled in it.

   "I need sleep," Will offers.

   "Yes," Riley agrees. He picks himself up off the sofa and wanders over to where the bed is. He has enough mental capacity to pull off his pants before climbing into the bed and sliding his head under the pillow while he lays on his stomach. After that it's just dreams.  

   


 

   Riley sits there and watches him sleep for several moments. She tries to figure out if he is here because he feels like he needs to be here or if he is here because he wants to be. Will probably couldn't tell her either way.

   She eats dinner listening to him snore softly. Later she climbs into bed and feels.... giddy. Light almost.

  


 

   Will is late. His alarm didn't really go off or maybe he did and he just slept through it. But he is up and trying to shower and Riley hands him some heated up Pad Thai for breakfast and she is a saint and an angel.

   "Thanks!" He leans in and kisses her before jetting out the door.

   He is two blocks away when he realizes.

   OH.

 

   Riley is both shocked and deeply pleased.

   It takes four weeks for Diego to stop being smug. They get coffee in the morning together. Will buys Riley a better sofa. They text and talk. Every now and then Riley gets sad and Will stays with her until she is ready to try and move on. It's not a perfect fairy tale, but it’s a pleasant life.

   Will learns to like club music.

   Riley gets a thing for gym shorts.