"Gun Hill Road"
Disclaimer: I don't own any Third Watch characters. All original characters in this belong to me
Summary: In the years following 9/11 Bosco and Liz struggle with health issues and emotional trauma. But when Fred dies suddenly, Faith's children have no where to go. Can Bosco and Liz keep their own demons at bay and give Emily and Charlie a good life? (Sequel to "Last Exit to Brooklyn")
The dream always started the same way; with a blue sky so deep and so endless it almost made him dizzy just to look at. He felt the hard pavement at his feet and the cool late summer breeze on his face. His uniform was broken and worn and the gun belt always sat snug but reassuringly familiar on his hips. This was his element; being on the beat…in the radio car. But as a strange awareness began to permeate his subconscious thoughts he began to feel an unsettled anxiety creep down his spine. The wind shifted and instead of warm summer air he smelled acrid, burning jet fuel, sweat, and fear. The chorus of panicked screams built until it almost deafened him and that was always the moment that he inevitably looked up.
The building was burning…flames licking up the sides and thick black smoke billowing against that clear blue sky. He stood there, always just stood there, staring. Paralyzed, unable to move; a cell phone in one hand, the other twitching nervously over the butt of his Glock…as if that could help right now. As if anything he did could make a difference right now. He felt people running all around him, some brushing him as they ran for their lives heading north. Looking at the phone in his hand he saw his partner's name on the screen and heard her screaming but he couldn't form a single word as the phone slipped out of his hands and fell to the pavement.
A CRASH and breaking glass made him jump as he looked up. Time slowed down. Each breath coming deliberately and slowly as the sound of blood rushing in his ears intensified. His eyes moved over the different colors amid the blackness. Grey and blue, black and white and then….always….orange and khaki. Sometimes he fell…sometimes he jumped; always end over end streaking through that clear blue sky. He blinked trying to convinced himself that this wasn't real; it couldn't be real. He could never move and never look away. Orange and khaki falling at terminal velocity and all he could do is watch. His heart was pounding as he tried to make himself run but his legs wouldn't work. This…this was his penance for not helping that man or anyone else that day. Not even in his dreams could he run from the reality that he stood there….he stood there and did nothing.
And then came that primal scream…that guttural sound that man made before he knew how to use words…it was the last utterance of a human being. A life that began with a scream and ended with one too. And then he woke up….
Bosco jerked awake in bed as he sat up gasping for air. The bed was empty and the room was dark. Blinking he came back to reality, no stranger to nightmares. Reaching for the bedside table he saw the clock glowing five thirty AM. Collapsing back into bed he took a deep breath staring at the ceiling.
The backyard was shrouded in as much darkness as one could reasonably expect living in the city. Pushing himself up onto the picnic table he watched the two German Shepherds nose through the grass before parking themselves at his feet. Bosco rested his forearms on his knees as he stared out at the river. The sweat of his nightmare prickled and evaporated in the cool early morning air. Running an absent minded finger back and forth across his lower lip he stared at the water and forced himself to think of nothing.
This was something he found himself doing often. Forcing himself to not think. To stop, for however brief, the God-awful reel of images in his head. It didn't always work and more often then not he felt himself descend into the depths of yet another anxiety attack. He had gotten so good at hiding it, though, that most of the time no one even knew it was happening. The chest clenching, air stealing, dizzying feeling masked under a tight facade and excuses like 'I must be getting old.' Truth was nobody questioned a 9/11 survivor about shortness of breath or any other physical malady that seemed out of place; everyone was too afraid of the answer. The cost of that day, while heavily paid up front, continued to be paid weeks, and moths, and years later; and no one knew that better than him.
Stuffing his hands into his pockets, Bosco slammed the car door. Clicking the remote he locked the car doors pausing for a moment. He had sold his mustang to cover closing costs for the house. He had gotten a good deal on the black Ford Explorer and the car suited him. The mustang had been a salve to soothe something inside of him that seemed irrelevant now. Whatever he thought he needed that car for; he didn't need it anymore.
Turning, he stuffed his hands in his pocket and began walking. The early spring air warmed his face as the sun was just beginning to rise in the sky. The coffee shop was familiar and his feet could take him there without a thought. Swinging the door open, the familiarity of it all soothed his nerves in a way he couldn't explain. Scanning, his eyes landed on a table in the back.
Bosco pulled the chair out and sat down. A coffee ready for him and waiting. "I hope you don't mind…" Shaking his head he took a sip of the mocha and smiled.
"After all this time, you should know how I take my coffee." The older black woman nodded and smiled as she brought her own cup to her lips.
Betty West was a seventy- something secretary that on September 11th walked to the eight floor and could walk no more. She had two stents, a pacemaker, and was in need of a knee replacement but she still worked because working was what she had always done. When the plane hit the tower she began to evacuate with everyone else; seventy eight, seventy seven, seventy six, it was easy at first but before long it got hard and she fell behind her co -workers, pushing them on with a wave and a forced smiled. No one wanted to leave her but the building was creaking and groaning something awful and while nobody knew a thing, a sense of palpable fear began to permeate the stairwell. Pretty soon she was the only one left hobbling down a flight and then stopping to take a break. As far as she knew, she had all day. When she got to eight her knees gave out and her heart was pounding; this was more exercise than she had done in the last ten years of her life combined.
She sat there soaked in sweat and listening to the emergency lights buzzing around her wondering what to do next when she heard foot steps coming quick. A young cop appeared looking just as bad as she felt. He was bloody and sweaty, his hair was matted and stuck to his forehead. They stared at each there for a moment before she was quick to speak up.
'Now you just go on. I just need a little rest and I'll be good as new."
She didn't want him to wait around because of her, she would make it out eventually. But unlike everyone else that she had encountered that day, this guy had a sense of extreme urgency. There was no time to waste. A plane had hit the building he told her and the South Tower had already collapsed. NO! NO. She just couldn't believe that. These buildings were made of steel and concrete; solid as a rock. She stared at him in disbelief; all this time she thought there had been a chemical explosion, an electrical fire that broke out on the upper floors. A plane hit the building…and then another plane hit the south tower…what did that even mean? Before she could ask, the young cop picked her up and began running. She struggled against him, this was ridiculous…what was he thinking? But they kept going and every time she thought he was going to stumble, he stopped hoisted her up in his arms a little higher, grit his teeth, and kept moving.
When they reached the lobby it was nearly empty. The FDNY command post had been abandoned and all the windows were broken. That was the only time he stopped, taking in the scene around him and inhaling sharply. Now that they were on level ground again she informed him that she could walk and he tentatively set her down on the dust covered linoleum. Betty didn't have purse, her phone, or her wallet. Rubbing her sweaty palms on her pants she looked right to left not sure what to do next. And then a strange whistling sound and a crash from somewhere up above. It was so loud and it caused her to jump.
'Must be some debris from up above…'
If only she could have gone the rest of her life thinking that it was just debris. Casting a glance at the young cop she saw the stricken look on his face and the deep fear in his eyes. Grabbing her hand he began pulling her toward the exit that was covered by a foot bridge to Building Seven.
'It isn't debris…it's people.' He looked at her momentarily before moving quicker. 'We need to get out of here.'
The two of them made it about a block away, neither daring to look back or look up for fear of what they might see. The cop found an FDNY ambulance with two medics nearby; pushing Betty toward them he was mentioned that she had a heart condition and walked almost eighty flights. Before the could protest they loaded her up and away she went but not before she made a point to look at the cop's name plate.
When this was all over she would find him and let him know just how much what he did meant to her. She fought him every step of the way but he never gave up on her. Seeing her all the way to safety even at the potential cost of his own.
For three weeks after the eleventh she had no idea what had happened to the cop named Boscorelli that had saved her life that day. She often times worried that he went back into the building to help someone else. It hadn't been long after she was whisked away that the building came down. Everyday she looked in the papers for his name, wondering what had happened to him and at the same time afraid to know for sure. Betty knew ten people that died in the tower that day and she went to every memorial, often times sitting in the back simultaneously praying for the deceased and thanking God that she didn't make number eleven.
Still she wondered how to find the cop named Boscorelli. The Park Slope Library was a few blocks from her house and on one October morning she made the walk, stopping every so often to rest those knees. She wasn't a woman of technology and didn't have a computer at home; knowing how to use one good enough for work but never seeing the need for herself. Sitting down she pushed her glasses up on her face and typed NYPD Boscorelli in the search bar. The first ten entries were articles related to the NYPD and 9/11. Pursing her lips she shook her head slightly; she knew all that she ever wanted to about that day from being there. And as if that wasn't enough the non stop media coverage filled in all the rest. Advancing the browser to the next page she came upon an article about a female cop named YOKAS, killed in an automobile accident that February. Scanning, she found familiar name at the end of the article in what seemed to be an afterthought, 'Her partner, Maurice Boscorelli, was driving but uninjured in the crash'. Eyes going back to he headline she finally found what she wanted to know. 'Crash in 55th Precinct kills Cop.' A little more searching revealed the location of the 55 at King and Arthur and without hesitation Betty knew what she had to do.
Two days later she was sitting on a hard wooden bench holding a freshly baked apple pie watching the Lieutenant work up polite smiles for her benefit. The 55th precinct was a hive of activity as her eyes bounced left to right trying to take it all in. The door opened and a young cop walked in clearly engrossed in conversation with his partner. They laughed, completely in tune with one another, before the Lieutenant cleared his throat pointing toward Betty. With a creak and groan she pushed herself up to her feet hobbling toward the pair.
She took him in for a moment; he looked younger now that he was clean but she was an old woman and everyone looked young to her. It was him though, the same man who saved her life on the eleventh. Holding the pie out she offered him the most grateful, sincere smile she could muster. 'This is for you…' Bosco took the pie confused for a moment, she was sure that he had seen thousands of people since that day. 'I'm sure you don't remember me now….but I would be dead if not for you…still down there probably in that hopeless pile; lost forever. ' Her eyes briefly misted over with tears as she looked away shaking her head. 'And maybe I should be…I lived my life, a lot of others never had that chance .' She shrugged her shoulders. 'I don't know why I'm here and they aren't…but I do know it's because of you…'
"Betty ?" Snapping her eyes away from the windows she turned back to Bosco. Smiling sheepishly she shook the memories away.
"Sorry honey…just thinking…" Bosco nodded, she did that a lot. Taking another sip of his coffee he looked out the window.
"I was asking when you're getting your knee done.." Betty shook her head. She was scheduled for surgery in a few months. Those knees that carried her down eighty flights had finally had enough.
"A couple months….Don't worry about me, though, I'll be just fine." Bosco shook his head as he stared at her. That day she showed up at the 55 with an apple pie was the beginning of the most unlikely friendship. Explaining that a measly pie, no matter how good it was and it was one of the best he had ever tasted, didn't even come close to what he had done for her she invited him and his partner to her house in Brooklyn for Sunday dinner that week. After hemming and hawing a bit Bosco finally agreed although he didn't feel it necessary by any means.
One Sunday dinner turned into two and three and pretty soon twice a month every month. Betty, as he learned, had a big family and her house, no matter how small, always stretched to accommodate every last cousin and neighbor that decided to drop by. She was well known and loved in her own corner of Brooklyn, and Bosco soon felt himself swept up into her orbit of extended family. He had become good friends with her son, Rod, and most Sundays before dinner they played one on one in the park. Sometimes Davis would join them and even he too found himself at Betty's table on occasion. Rod, who was so moved by what Bosco did for his mother on the eleventh, left his job as a mail carrier and signed up for the academy. He was about halfway through now and Bosco was working every connection he had in the department to get Rod assigned to the 55 after graduation.
Thanksgiving at Betty's this past year was something he would never forget. It seemed like everyone she had ever met was invited and like most Sundays, everyone brought a dish of their own not wanting to burden the woman although she insisted that was just silly. Bosco had made the biggest pot of meatballs he could imagine, tripling his grandma's recipe. The house was full and Betty was in her element kissing everyone as they came and went. There was music, singing, laughing, and every food imaginable. Bosco and Rod sat on the back porch each with a plate piled high and a beer talking work, the academy, laughing and carrying on way too much. The screen door opened and Atlas came out looking sheepish; Betty chasing after him with a fly swatter.
'I seen what you done…..' Eyes meeting Bosco's she raised her fist to the German Shepherd that was now sitting between him and Rod looking as guilty as he ever had. 'Stole a piece of ham right off my table..' A laugh came from inside the doorway as Betty turned and smiled. Pointing her finger at Bosco she laughed. 'And I told your pretty wife that I'll kick his ass…Police Dog or not…I will kick his ass…'
Liz stepped out around Betty laughing as she stuffed a forkful of food in her mouth. Bosco stared at her. While 2001 was probably the worst year of his life, 2002 had been the best. And it started with making this woman his forever earlier that year in a small, quiet ceremony. It wasn't much but it was perfect.
"How's that pretty wife of yours ?" Bosco blinked a few times exhaling loudly. Nodding he pushed all the fear and anxiety he had away as he forced himself to nod.
"She's ok. I'm going to pick her up in a couple hours…surgery went good, looks like they got everything." Betty nodded, a sad smile crossing her lips, before she smiled at him reassuringly.
"She'll be ok….you'll see. You and Liz were meant for each other, and you're going to have each other for a long, long time." Leaning across the table she rose her eyebrows for emphasis. "I promise..and I don't lie..you know that."
Bosco forced a smile as he swallowed hard. Betty had all but legally adopted him as another son and in doing so had given Bosco something that he had always longed for. A family. A real family. Betty's own family wasn't perfect, her brother was in jail, her eldest daughter dead from drugs, and her husband long gone from cancer. But despite that she created a family from friends and neighbors, second cousins and long lost aunties, and one cop who's name she never forgot.
While he loved the Sunday suppers and the rowdy holiday get togethers; this time, these one on one meetings in a non-descript coffee shop in Park Slope, these meant the most to him. Sometimes they laughed, sometimes they cried, and sometimes they talked about the eleventh with each other, a sense of unspoken knowing between them.
"I had another nightmare last night…same as always." She exhaled silently. Other than Liz, Betty was the only other person who knew about the man wearing orange and khaki.
"You're all out of sorts…Liz being the hospital…when she gets back home and you two get back into your routine…it'll be better…". The was the other thing about Betty, right or wrong, her folksy, down to earth wisdom never failed to calm his nerves when he felt himself getting a little too wound up.
Bosco looked at his watch knowing that he had to get going. "Rod going to pick you up or you want me to ride you home?"
Betty shook her head, "No baby, Rod is going to pick me up. He was all worked up about his range qualifications…I told him it can't be that hard…I carried a gun in my purse for years."
Bosco shook his head a smirk coming to his face before becoming serious. "Rod has nothing to worry about, he's going to be a great cop…"
"Now you better get going." Bosco stood placing a ten on the table. "And give that pretty wife of yours a kiss from me…". Bosco smiled slightly.
"I will. See you on Sunday."
"See you baby…I'm making chicken pot pie so you better come hungry." Bosco waved as the door slammed behind him.
Pulling under the over hang of NY Presbyterian Hospital Bosco guided the Explorer toward the curb and put on the four way flashers. Liz told him not worry about parking; that she would meet him at the door. He tried to convince her that she should be taking it easy; she had just had surgery for Christ's sake. But he was met with a stern reply that no fussing was necessary. Bosco wound down the window as a Hispanic man dressed in a valet's uniform approached him.
"Can I help you, pal?" Shaking his head he gestured toward the door.
"Picking someone up…she should be right out." The guy nodded hesitantly.
"Right….I can let you stay here for about ten minutes but no more…backs the traffic up back onto York." Bosco smiled at him, as his eyes wandered toward the exit wondering if she got hung up at the elevator. Maybe he should park…God only knows if the doctor was running late or if she needed another…
Before Bosco could finish that thought his eyes roamed over to the doorway. A familiar figure was being pushed toward the exit in a wheelchair. Her once long chestnut hair was now short on one side and shaved on the other; a defiant statement to let cancer know it could fuck off any time now. Attempting to push herself up, the older blonde nurse behind her reacted quickly and put a hand on her shoulder pushing her back down. The door swung open as Liz turned around and scowled; the woman behind her not the least bit fazed.
Bosco stuck his arm out of the driver's side window waving to let them know he was here. Seeing this, Liz once again attempted to get out of the chair only to be put back where she belonged with a firm hand and stern look. Clearly annoyed she shook her head, absent-mindedly fingering the dressing on her neck. Bosco smirked at the display clearly amused by his wife's insistence. The valet leaned against Bosco's hood as he too cracked a smile. The nurse stopped pushing the chair when it was right next to the Explorer. Liz gripped the padded arm rails before turning around, throwing the older nurse a scowl.
"Can I get up now?" Sideling up next to the chair the nurse bent over to set the brakes.
"Not until the brakes are on…" It was clear to everyone there that the blonde woman was enjoying this just a little. Liz let out a huff as she rolled her eyes.
Bosco laughed at he stretched across the console opening the door for her. The nurse looked at him and smirked. "Now you take good care of her, Bosco." She knew his name because he had been there last night after the surgery and had called about ten times this morning; just to make sure he understood everything and knew exactly what to do. Liz jumped into the Explorer slamming the door. "We will miss her so much." Neither of them missed the sarcasm as Bosco laughed while Liz continued to scowl.
"Well the feeling isn't mutual." The nurse smiled warmly and waved as Bosco pulled away.
As he turned onto York heading toward home he reached across the console for her hand. "What's the matter? You didn't like spending the night?" He knew damn well she didn't like anything about it.
"It's just my thyroid, Bosco. Simple. But they treat you like it's a major thing. I mean all night checking the bandage, drawing blood, vitals, 'Are you in pain, Mrs. Boscorelli?" Bosco felt a tingle go down his spine when she said that. He always felt that tingle. This woman, this incredible woman was his wife. No matter how much he tried to figure it out, he still couldn't get his head around it. "And then i just want to go down to the cafeteria…I mean I was hungry. Jesus Christ I haven't eaten in two days. But fuck, you would think that place is Alcatraz. That old blonde Nurse Ratchet was there waiting…" Leaning forward she flipped the visor down and pulled the bandage back. "We better check it when we get home for a tracking device. Took the Thyroid, put a Lo-Jack in."
Bosco laughed as she replaced the bandage carefully. When he thought he knew every reason he loved her, she found a way to give him just one more. The Thyroid Cancer had been a surprise; it began like sore throat that never went away. Three weeks of that and they finally had an answer. The doctor felt it was caused by her exposure to whatever was down there. And Liz wasn't alone, guys in the department were dropping like flies with all sorts of strange ailments. Nonetheless three months of radiation and now surgery; she was supposed to be cured but he just couldn't relax no matter how much reassuring had been done. Squeezing his hand, Liz brought him back to reality.
"Hey…it's over. We're going to put this behind us and get on with things." She was scared, she had to be but she didn't show it. Most of the time she made light of the whole situation and for that he loved her even more. Attitude really was everything in life. Bosco nodded but remained silent. "So did Frick and Frack miss me?"
Bosco rolled his eyes as he groaned. Atlas had retired form the NYPD earlier this year for the second and final time. His service at Ground Zero had left him with a chronic skin condition that made him scratch himself raw. He liked to work but he liked laying around the house more so in the end retirement suited him just fine. Shortly after they got Callie, a German Shepherd pup that was still being trained for service. They had picked the name, Callie as a tribute to Callahan; their brother who never made it home that day. After the eleventh Bosco had decided to take the K-9 handler course becoming certified almost a year later. When Callie finished her training, she would be Bosco's dog.
"Well….this morning Callie threw up on the bedroom carpet and before I could clean it up Atlas came over and ate it."
Liz crinkled her nose as she shook her head. "Those two are quite the pair."
Bosco cast a glance at her before looking back out the window, a smile breaking out across his face. "I know the feeling." Looking at him momentarily, her tired face relaxed for the first time in days as she wound the window down, the warm spring air ruffling her hair as they drove.
Groaning, Liz rolled over in bed as a dissatisfied German Shepherd stood and jumped onto the floor. Moaning Atlas found a spot on the carpet and stretched his big body out again.
"You make too much heat anyway…" Kicking at the covers where the dog had been she adjusted the blankets and scooted toward Bosco resting her chin on his shoulder. Turning his head ever so slightly he sighed as her face rested against his. Snaking her arm down through the covers she found his hand and twisted her fingers through his. "Of all the things I missed last night, this is what I missed the most."
Bosco hummed in agreement as the power groaned and the lights flickered for what felt like the tenth time tonight. Power surges and failures had been going on all throughout the city for the better part of the afternoon and evening. Some areas had been completely out, others only periodically. Davis had called him a few hours ago and let him know the 55 was a real mad house, no power in the precinct for hours. Under any other circumstances both he and Liz would have been called in but everyone at the house knew about her and the cancer and wouldn't dare bother either of them right now; they could make do, they had before.
Reaching his right arm toward her he wrapped it around her shoulders drawing her in close to him as they both felt the magnetic pull of sleep after a very long day. On the floor both dogs jerked awake as Bosco' s cell phone rang loudly. He didn't really care who it was, there was no place he had to be right now except for right here. After a few rings it went silent only to immediately start ringing again. Exhaling loudly Bosco still didn't move as Liz groaned.
"Who keeps calling? Don't they know I'm a sick woman and I need my sleep?" Bosco smirked as he loosened his grip on her shoulder. Rolling over he picked up the cellphone looking at the caller ID. 'Sullivan'. He was probably calling to bitch about working during a black out. Silencing the phone he threw it back on the night stand. "Who is it?"
Pulling her into him once again, Bosco spoke with an edge of irritation in his voice. "Sullivan…he knows where I am and he knows I'm not coming in…so he can suck it."
Liz didn't reply as she once again felt herself drifting off in the momentary silence. Just as sleep was about to claim her the phone once again began to ring. Letting go of her Bosco pushed himself up with every intention to tell Sully to piss off. Flipped the phone open, his voice came out in sharp staccato.
"Someone better be dead…" He was silent for a moment which caused Liz's eyes to flutter open. Pushing herself up to her elbow she stared at his back, a sense of dread settling in her heart. "When? OK…OK I'll be right there."
"What's going on?" Bosco stood as he looked at her, worry etched onto his face.
Shrugging his shoulders he shook his head in disbelief. "That was Sully…..Fred Yokas is dead."
I can't believe I am writing another Third Watch Fanfic, least of all fifteen years after the show went off the air. I don't expect this to get many views and or comments but it was an idea that just wouldn't leave me alone. Updates will be sporadic and this won't be as long or as epic as "Last Exit to Brooklyn". If you do find yourself here please drop me a line. Thanks for reading as always.