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Jimmy knew it was late, knew that he should really shut down the laptop and go to bed.  There wasn’t even really any need for further research at that point. They had solved the case. He just couldn't fathom laying alone in bed with nothing to distract him from his melancholy thoughts. The latest case had been hard; everything with Tosh, issues with Phyllis and how they affected Rhona, the stabbing, and now Tosh asking to transfer. The worst, though, the worst was Cassie leaving. So, instead of going to bed, he clicked around a few websites, opened a few police reports, read up much too thoroughly on unnecessary things, and considered working on the boat.

 

The floor creaked near the kitchen’s door. His heart stopped when he momentarily thought it was Cassie come to tell him to go to bed. Of course it wasn't her, he and Duncan had seen her off that afternoon. She had gone. Off with that boy and unlikely to return --at least never in the same way.

 

"It's late," spoke Duncan with gentled judgement from the door. “Cassie warned me you didnae sleep much.”

 

"Mm," was all Jimmy could muster for a reply.

 

Perhaps it was his knee jerk response of expecting to see Cassie standing there, perhaps it was that she had stood there in the dim light countless nights before, but, in that moment, Duncan held so much resemblance to Cassie. He looked very much her biological father. It was usually only Fran who Jimmy saw in Cassie. Some days, back when her passing had been more recent, Jimmy had trouble even looking at Cassie for how much of Fran he saw. But just then, looking at Duncan leaning in the doorway in rumpled pajama bottoms and sleep shirt, Jimmy could see the similarities between the two. It was in his stance, in his face, in his eyes. Jimmy’s chest suddenly hurt.

 

He pursed his lips and let his eyes move back to the laptop screen, willfully ignoring Duncan’s presence altogether. What was he to say; I don't want to go to bed because I feel I will shatter the moment I let my guard down? ...I spent the last few years of my life being just two things; a detective and her dad, and now that she's left, I've lost half of myself ...I can’t stand the thought of being completely alone in this little house ...What will I do when you go, too?

 

"Jimmy," said Duncan with a sigh. "C’mon mate, time for bed. That's enough wallowing for one night."

 

"I'm not wallowing," argued Jimmy feeling embarrassed at the pout in his voice. Of course he was wallowing.

 

"Of course you're not," agreed Duncan, not even trying to hide the fact he was simply humouring him with that statement.

 

Jimmy clicked open another web browser. He pretended he didn’t notice Duncan begin to approach. He was deaf to him walking across the kitchen and into the living room, blind to his approach in his peripheral.  

 

"Okay, bed,” said Duncan, his voice all command. “Now." It sounded very much like how Cassie would have said it.

 

Duncan reached around him, powered down the laptop and shut off his lamp. Jimmy clicked his tongue but allowed himself to be pulled from his chair and manhandled to the bathroom.

 

"Brush your teeth. Take your piss," ordered Duncan before leaving him to it.

 

Jimmy could feel the corners of his mouth twitch at that. He shook his head to himself before picking up his toothbrush. He brushed his teeth meticulously, prolonging the inevitable, but made sure not to catch sight of himself in the mirror. He didn’t want to see himself just then. Didn’t want to see how dead his eyes probably looked.

 

When he stepped into his room, Duncan was there turning down the blankets on his bed. It was odd having someone else in his room and he felt momentarily irritated by the violation.

 

"You going to tuck me in?" he asked, letting some of his annoyance over the invasion bleed into his tone.  

 

"If that's what you need," said Duncan in reply, his tone earnest, words sincere.

 

It stopped Jimmy in his tracks. He swallowed a few times, his heart picking up speed in his chest. He stared across the dark bedroom wanting to see into Duncan's eyes, needing clues from his face to understand. Duncan stood still, letting him look, but it was much too dark to see anything but shadows. Finally, Jimmy let out a soft sigh and dropped his shoulders.

 

"Okay," he said. He wasn't entirely sure to what exactly he was agreeing to. It was nothing specific, just a blanket surrendering.

 

He sat down on his bed, pulled his shirt off over his shoulders, and laid down on his back. It felt a monumental thing to crawl into his bed under Duncan’s watch; to be seen vulnerable like that.

 

The bed dipped to his left and Jimmy quickly turned his head.

 

"What are you doing?" he whispered.

 

"Shh," replied Duncan, laying down next to him. "Just..."

 

Instead of finishing that sentence, Duncan moved closer to Jimmy in the bed. Jimmy tensed. Duncan’s head was on the same pillow as his. He was on his side, facing him.  He was so close. It made no sense. Jimmy’s heart was hammering in his chest. Then Duncan moved impossibly closer and set an arm across his chest. Jimmy stopped breathing, just stared unblinking up at the ceiling. What? It was all he could think. What.

 

"You think it was just you and her, and now she’s gone,” whispered Duncan in the dark. “but Jimmy, don't for one second think you're alone out here.”

 

Jimmy inhaled a ragged breath.

 

"You're not alone, Jimmy," said Duncan.

 

Jimmy closed his eyes. There was a terrible lump in his throat and moisture in his eyes. He let his muscles loosen, the rigidity seep from his body.


"Okay," he managed to whisper. He placed his hand over Duncan's on his chest. "Okay."