More than Lunch or Dinner
Disclaimer: Barbara Machin's and BBC's. Not mine. Never was, never will be.
Summary: Set right after Waterloo. On her way home, Grace reflects on things.
Spoilers: Some references to different episodes here and there and as this is a post-Waterloo, makes a bit more sense if you've seen the last scene. Takes off a few hours after the final credits roll.
Grace sat in a taxi, looking out into the darkness and taking note of familiar landmarks passing her by. It had started to rain and the water was blurring the scenery into Dali-like pictures. She closed her eyes. She'd was tired, exhausted even, but her mind wouldn't let her rest. The team was no more. Their merry band of miscreants would be scattered, each going their own way, who knew where.
They'd spent the evening together, Spencer, Eve, Boyd and Grace. After Boyd's flippant comment about concrete and bad lighting, they'd all stood there silently for a moment. No one wanted to leave, each of them feeling like they needed to stay as a team for a bit longer. Finally it had been Spencer who had suggested they all go and get a bite to eat. It had been late already, but they'd found a smallish, out-of-the-way pub where they'd toasted to Sarah and then shared memories along with some food and more drinks. Eventually, Spencer and Eve had started getting restless. They were discreet about it, but it was still clear they wanted to continue the evening at some other location, most likely going somewhere to forget, if even just for a few hours, the happenings of the last few days. Grace didn't fault them for it, quite the opposite. She almost wished she wasn't too old to drink herself to oblivion without suffering the consequences for the next two days.
Grace had made her excuses, saying it was time for her to head home. Boyd had followed suit while, predictably, the other two former team members had decided to hit a bar not far from where they were. They'd said their goodbyes outside the pub, all of them promising to stay in touch. Boyd had offered to wait until Grace's taxi arrived, something which she was grateful for. As much as she had found satisfaction in the challenges of her job, getting into the minds of criminals, it had also exposed her to the worst humans could do to each other. Just the idea of standing alone outside a no-name pub at late hours of the night did a number on her imagination.
They'd stood there, waiting for the car to arrive, both deep in their own thoughts. She hadn't even dared to imagine what he was thinking about, but she'd worried. She'd asked him if he was heading home himself but he'd told her no.
"Don't really feel like going there just yet. I think I'll just walk for a while," he'd said and then seeing her face he'd added, "Don't worry, Grace. I just need to clear my head."
She had almost offered her guest room to him, but had then decided against it. Not because she hadn't wanted him there, but because she had. The last few days had left her in an increasingly vulnerable state emotionally. She was afraid that he'd realise... that she'd be unable to hide how much he meant to her and how much she was afraid of losing him. So when the taxi had arrived, she'd allowed him to open the door for her without pressing the matter further. She'd been about to get in the car when she'd turned to him, searching his face.
"You will keep in touch won't you?" Grace had asked him, trying to ignore that the words had come out more like a plea than a question.
"I wouldn't dare not to," Boyd had promised, grinning his devilish smile at her and causing her to smile back, albeit somewhat sadly.
"Good. I'll have Spencer hunt you down if you won't."
"I have no doubt, Grace."
Giving him a small smile she'd finally gotten into the car. Stating her address to the driver, she had watched Boyd as he stood on the pavement, holding her gaze until the car drove off.
Grace sighed again. There was no way around it, she was worried about Boyd. The case had hit him hard, harder than most other ones they'd worked on over the years. Of course, one didn't need be a psychologist to know why. But it wasn't just the case that made her worry about him. The man had been through hell during the last few years, and she could only imagine how it must have been like a bullet to the chest for him to find out he'd been kicked out of the CCU after everything he'd sacrificed for it.
She was worried that with these last blows, him losing his team, Sarah's betrayal and death, the case dealing with street kids… that it would all become too much for him, pushing him over the edge. He'd seemed fine tonight, she reflected. He'd reminisced, laughed and shared stories with the rest of them. But Grace couldn't help but wonder how much of it was an act. How much of it was a front he put up to ease everyone's concerns about how he was coping. Would the walls come crashing down as soon as he was alone and the dark thoughts came back to haunt him?
Grace wanted to believe he'd be fine. In fact, she was almost desperate to believe it. When he'd walked up to the team earlier, he'd laughingly said he had no idea what he would do next. She still felt the burn of his hand on her shoulder, his thumb just barely caressing her bare skin. He'd never made such a strong physical contact with her before, not in front of the others. As loud as he was, and as angry as he could get, Boyd was not a demonstrative man when it came to the softer side of him. His action was something she was still trying to decipher. The gentle, yet strong grip on her shoulder had almost felt like a claim of ownership.
Grace tried not to analyse it too much. She was well aware of how her own wishes and dreams would take flight if she didn't keep her feet firmly on the ground. Her feelings for the man had only grown throughout the years. At first, even before she'd joined the team, when their paths had crossed only sporadically while working on cases, she'd felt a draw towards him. But she'd known even then that the man was dedicated to one, and one thing only, and that was his work. Any relationship with a man like him was a nearly impossible.
And then there was the other side of him, the side that lost its temper with colleagues and suspects alike.
When he'd asked her to join his newly formed CCU team almost ten years ago, she'd almost refused. But the challenge of the job had overpowered her common sense and so she had buried whatever attraction she'd felt for him, refusing to even acknowledge those thoughts. It hadn't been easy and that alone should have alerted her of what was to come, but she'd stubbornly stuck with it. To accomplish her goal she had reminded herself that relationships with co-workers practically never ended well. By that time they'd formed a friendship and she was loath to lose that. She'd even reminded herself that she was older than he was. Not that she could've been blamed for robbing the cradle, but a man like Boyd could and would attract plenty of much younger, and prettier, women than Grace Foley. Unfortunately, as time passed, the initial attraction had changed into something much deeper and much more dangerous. No amount of reasoning had helped her then.
Her musings were interrupted by the driver's expletives ringing in her ears. It was only then she noticed they'd slowed down to what could only be described as crawl speed.
"What's wrong?" Grace enquired. She recognised where they were, a good four kilometres from her house.
"Traffic jam. Probably an accident ahead, there's police and ambulance lights," he explained.
"Ah," she sighed, feeling a momentary flash of sympathy for the victims.
"Do you want me to try and find an alternate route?"
"No, it's all right."
"Might not save any time anyway, the small roads being what they are," the man offered.
Silence fell upon them again and Grace let her thoughts wander. She should call Frankie. They hadn't talked in a few weeks, not since Grace had been released from hospital after her last surgery.
The thought of spending so much time in hospitals within the last year made her grimace. But even then, Boyd had been there to see her, during both of her stays. After her head injury, he'd been to see her every day. She knew guilt had played a part there; combined guilt about using her as bait, and the guilt he still carried because of Stella's death. Grace doubted that Boyd had forgiven himself for not having visited the young officer at the hospital until too late. After Stella's funeral Grace had sat him down and they'd had a long discussion. She'd told him about how much Stella had needed Boyd's approval, how much the young woman had worried that she'd let their boss down. After some inner debate, Grace had revealed to him how she'd let Stella believe Boyd had asked after her, covering for him. Grace could still hear the raspy 'thank you' he'd barely been able to verbalize. They'd split two bottles of wine between them after that, in silence.
She thought back to the other evenings they'd spent together, mostly talking, sometimes arguing, and often bantering, but also just being in each other's company. Whenever they were at his place, she sat in his lazy chair which she had long ago claimed as her own. The light next to it was perfect for her to read her books while he was watching football and tennis matches. Neither ever spent the night, nor had ever given the impression that they were looking for anything besides a friend to share time with. Theirs was a lonely job, with not much time for developing, let alone cultivating friendships. The team was what they had.
And now they were no more. If Grace allowed herself to think about it, it frightened her. People always made promises to keep in touch, but more often than not those promises faded into nothingness. How soon before it happened to them? She could see it; first Eve would disappear, always having felt more at home with the dead than the living to begin with. Then it would be Spencer, his new duties, promotions, responsibilities taking him away. Finally it would be Boyd. But what would take him from her she didn't even want to think about.
Closing her eyes, Grace made a conscious effort to rid herself of the dark thoughts. If she was to be of any use to Boyd in the coming days and weeks, she would need to focus on more positive thoughts. But God, how tired she was!
She barely noticed they'd passed the scene of the accident and were taking the familiar exit. Just a few more minutes and she could close the world outside, listen to something soothing from her music collection and, if nothing else, read until her mind cleared enough for her to be able to fall asleep.
As the taxi finally stopped in front of her home, she sighed in relief. She paid the driver and got out, ready to hurry inside to avoid being completely drenched by the rain, only to stop dead in her tracks.
She couldn't believe her eyes. There, on her doorstep, sat the very man who wouldn't leave her be even when she was alone. He was soaked from the rain, his hair glued to his head, but what got to her was the look in his eyes. What she had feared, the defeat, devastation and anguish, was nowhere to be seen. He was smiling at her, if somewhat grimly.
"About time you showed up."
"What?" Grace was taken aback, by now thoroughly confused.
"I've been waiting here for ages. I'm soaked to the bone, Grace. Did you decide to take a scenic route through Surrey?"
"There was an accident… Boyd! How did you get here so fast? Never mind that, what are you doing here?" As glad as she was to see that he was no worse for the wear and very much the same old Boyd, she was getting irate. She was tired and she didn't have the energy to hide the feelings that were still raw from her reflective thoughts. The only way she could deal with him at that moment was getting angry.
"Not me, someone else, we just got stuck in the traffic," she assured him. She opened the door and entered before turning around to face him again. "Boyd. What are you doing here?"
"Ah, yes." He cleared his throat. "That walk to clear my head?"
"It started raining," Boyd stated.
"I'm aware of that," she shot back. "And you're dripping all over my floors!"
"Yes, sorry about that."
"Grace," he sighed. "Just let me… Just hang on, hear me out."
She acquiesced and waited while he closed his eyes and gathered his thoughts. They stood there, just inside her front door, facing each other for a full minute before he let her see his eyes again. She barely managed to suppress a surprised gasp as he took her hands in his.
"I don't know how to make you believe that this isn't coming from the stress of the case, or Luke, or losing the team. Or even losing Sarah. I don't know the right words to convince you. But… God, Grace, I don't want to just 'keep in touch'," Boyd said, willing for her to understand the implication behind the words. "I don't want the occasional phone call and even rarer lunch or dinner. I want more."
Grace held her breath. Her heart was hammering in her chest and her mind was in overdrive, analysing his words for all possible meanings, but not daring to believe the most obvious one. "What do you mean 'more'?"
Boyd let go of one of her hands and brought his up to caress her cheek. He leaned in closer, resting his forehead against hers.
"I mean lunch, coffee, dinner, nightcap…" he listed, letting his smile turn into a grin again.
"And breakfast?" Grace asked with a baited breath.
"Most definitely breakfast," he promised before closing the remaining gap between them as he claimed her lips with his own.