Word Count: 3,109
He was woken up, called out to a crime scene close to midnight. A glance at Claire's room on his way out told him she still wasn't home. Ordinarily, he probably would have been worried, but the scene he'd been called out to involved a child so he had other things on his mind when he'd left his house.
He hated these things. It had initially been reported as a child abduction. Lee remembered hearing some details about the case before the weekend. Him getting the call meant the case had gone from abduction to murder.
The little boy was as cute as they came, Lee remembered. He was six years old, but looked a little younger in his picture. Perhaps it had been an old photo, Lee didn't know. He wondered if the mother had been told. That was one part of his job Lee despised and as a homicide detective, delivering bad news fell to him more often than not in this type of situation.
The crime scene was brutal, they always were in cases like this. This one especially so as he'd been stabbed repeatedly. The boy's body just wasn't big enough to make sense of all the wounds the weapon had made.
It was daybreak when an exhausted and disheartened Detective Scanlon made his way home. Other detectives remained on the scene, collecting clues, interviewing people and so forth. Lee and those who had been called out of bed were on their way home. He wasn't sure he'd get any sleep, but he needed a shower, something to eat and to at least try and get a couple of hours in before he returned to the scene. He always had dreams about the bad cases, especially when a kid was involved.
The worst part about it was that there were no suspects. No one had seen anything the night of the abduction. So they were going to have to do some good detective work to find justice for Mahkah, which Lee remembered hearing or reading somewhere meant earth. He doubted his mother had in mind him being returned to the earth so young in life.
He showered first, taking a little extra time than he normally did just to let the water pulsate along his torso and back. He was tense. The last couple of days had been odd ones for him personally and that didn't sit well with him. He had grown accustomed to his life being what it was. Boring, perhaps, about the job most of the time. It was his life, though. He didn't have to worry about upsetting people because he didn't really have anyone in his life to upset.
He toweled off, sliding into a pair of sweats before heading toward the kitchen. He poured himself a bowl of cereal. He wasn't particularly hungry, just wanted something in his stomach when he tried to sleep. It was hard enough to sleep during the day as it was, but if his body was screaming for breakfast it would be impossible.
For the first time since she'd moved in with him, Lee had actually forgotten she was here. Or that when he'd left she hadn't been. He turned to look at her, not at all unpleased at the fact she was most definitely checking him out. He hadn't gone shirtless while she'd been living here, it just didn't seem appropriate.
"Hey," he said.
"You could say that. It was a bad one. A kid."
"Yeah," he said with a nod. There'd only been one boy missing who had gotten so much attention the past week or so. Little Mahkah's face would be etched in peoples minds for a while after they were informed he was gone.
"He was so cute," she said.
He shrugged. He'd thought so, too, but couldn't think of him like that anymore. "Yeah, he was. Kindergarten age I think. I'm just home for a few hours to get some shut eye, I'll be out of your way probably most of the day and into the night."
"Oh," she said.
"I'm sorry," she said softly. She didn't sound completely sincere. Well, that wasn't the right word. She just said it as if she knew it was expected of her.
"I'll let you get some sleep."
"No class today?"
"No, not today, but I'm going out for a while."
"Okay, I'll see you later then."
She left and he wondered if he had imagined the entire conversation. While they hadn't fallen into an immediately comfortable routine, he liked to think they got along. They'd had a good time at the zoo and at Nick's after. Was she mad at him for some reason? For being with Mandy? For thinking of coming onto her? For not finishing the deal?
He was a lot of things, but that was just something he couldn't have done. While his body certainly had been willing and able, and it got that way every time since he pictured her dressed in her pajamas. He just couldn't get into a woman's bed after just having been in another's.
He rinsed out his bowl, walked to his bedroom and shut the door before sliding out of his pants. It was far too hot to sleep in anything but his boxers.
Claire wasn't mad anymore. Oh, she supposed a part of her was a little, but not really. She'd been more confused and shocked than anything. And a little hurt.
She'd gone out the night before, spending the night at her friend, Gloria's apartment. She'd come home to shower and change before heading to the mall to buy a few things for her new job next week. She was surprised he wasn't home when she got home, wondered if he was with her.
Whoever she was.
She wasn't the most experienced person in the world, but she recognized signs. And he'd had them all over him the other night. And yet, he'd touched her as if he'd wanted her.
The exciting part she had no business feeling, but she couldn't help it. And then seeing him this morning with no shirt on. Holy crap, she'd never been that up close and personal with someone practically naked. Except for Lyle, but that was so entirely different.
She was surprised he was still here when she got home. And a little disappointed as it interfered with her plans of a nap. She had gotten the impression he was only here for a few hours. She'd left the house at nine that morning and it was going on three now. She was tired, having stayed up all night with Gloria watching movies and talking. She'd forgotten what it was like to be a normal girl, talk about girl things. She'd forgotten what it was like to have and be a friend. She hadn't really had any true friends since Texas.
Unfortunately, she couldn't get cool. It was a scorcher out today and despite coming home and changing into her shorts and a top, she was still hot. She wanted the circulating fan that was in his room. She'd used it before, he never minded but she wasn't going to go in there and take it from him.
Then again, she mused as she stood at the threshold to his bedroom. Was he even supposed to be here sleeping?
She couldn't help but take advantage of his sleeping, giving her the ability to look at him without him knowing. Her flirtations with him had failed drastically. Not that she was really trying, but he was nice looking. She'd caught him looking at her a time or two, but she wasn't sure if it was because it was her or just the simple fact that she was a woman nearby.
And then there was HER. Whoever she was. He'd never mentioned having a girlfriend. And until the other night had not - as far as she knew - seen anyone while she'd been living with him. So, what did that mean? Had he gone somewhere and picked someone up? Or was he involved, just with someone he didn't bring home?
She sighed softly, her thoughts disrupting her ability to appreciate the view. He'd tossed aside the lightweight blanket on the bed so nothing but the top sheet covered him. It didn't leave much to the imagination. Sight of the sweatpants he'd been wearing while eating that morning on the floor next to the bed informed her he was almost naked under that sheet.
She remembered what it had felt like to have him touch her. Her skin where his thumb and finger had stroked had for a moment felt electric. She'd almost wondered if he was special with the ability to make her feel something like that.
She'd been speechless when he just left her standing there with no explanation. The fact he didn't smell like alcohol ruled out drunkenness being the problem.
It was the very real desire for a nap that won out over common sense. She stepped into his room and walked the rest of the way to the bed. She left the sheet as his, tempting though it was to move it and really get a look at him. Matt Parkman hadn't mentioned the person he was putting her with was an attractive guy.
She fixed the blanket he'd tossed to the side, enjoying the cooling effects the fan was already having on her. And then she slid into bed, drawing the blanket around her. She just hoped he wouldn't be mad when he woke up and found her there.
His phone ringing woke him, barely. He sleepily glanced at his bedside clock as he fumbled for his phone. It was going on five o'clock. He'd slept way longer than he should have.
"Scanlon," he said, his voice hoarse from lack of use.
"Yeah, on my way, sorry got tied up with some things at home."
He hung up, knowing full well what his captain would think he'd been tied up with. Rumor of his being involved with Claire had spread like wildfire. While his captain didn't make a point of listening to such things, Lee knew it would be on his captain's mind. Lee didn't make a habit of showing up to crime scenes late. It was better than saying he'd overslept, he supposed.
He set the phone down on his nightstand, allowing himself a minute to wake up some more. The fan had done its thing too well evidently. Keeping his room cool and blocking out any noise that might come into his room from the street or the rest of the house.
He glanced next to him, for some reason not at all surprised to see Claire staring back at him. Apparently, he hadn't been dreaming her getting into bed with him after all. That was good to know. Parts of him were certainly happy to have her here.
"You have the fan," she said by way of explanation.
He nodded in understanding. He was on an energy saver plan that allowed his electric company to reduce his electricity use to a bare minimum when necessary during peak times. It saved him money, which for a cop was always good. He was rarely home during the day, which was typically when the reduction took place, for it to make it real bad in here. It was the reason he'd invested in the circulating fan, though.
"Let me guess," she said, shifting onto her side to look at him. "You're late."
"Yeah," he said. "I should have been there like two hours ago."
"I debated about waking you, but you looked like you were actually resting soundly."
"Yeah, I didn't think I would. I never do when it's a kid."
"I can understand that."
"Can you?" he asked.
She nodded a little, a look in her eyes that told him she was being sincere. "I've seen… things."
"Yeah, I get that you have."
He reached for his watch on the nightstand and slid it over his wrist. He regarded her for a minute. She looked kind of nice in his bed. His room, hell his whole house, was pretty obviously inhabited by a man. And a single one at that. His sheets were a dark gray, charcoal gray he thought was the name for it. She was fair, from her blonde hair to her milky skin, so she made for a nice contrast against the dark tone.
He cleared his throat a little, looking away.
"I need to get up and get dressed."
"You maybe should either look away or close your eyes or something."
Logic told him he should have told her to leave the room entirely and bring the fan out to her when he left, but he didn't include that option.
She smiled a little as if knowing exactly what he'd just been thinking but obeyed, turning onto her stomach. She reached under the pillow with her arms and for a moment he contemplated not getting out of bed at all. Parts of him below the waist definitely found that appealing.
Not today. He had to get to work. There was a little boy's murder to solve. That did the trick in deflating his libido somewhat.
He dressed quickly, sitting on the edge of the bed nearest to her. He touched her shoulder.
"Oh, you mean I can look now?"
"Listen, I need to apologize to you."
"The other night. Things have been uncomfortable between us since then."
"Yeah," she said simply, eyes watching him intently.
He should have gotten upset she agreed so quickly, but he knew.
"I shouldn't have let that happen. Matt trusted me to help you out not to put my hands on you."
Her eyes turned from understanding to hard in a matter of seconds. "You think that's why I was mad?"
"Well, not completely, but that has to be part of it."
"No?" he asked, confused.
She sat up then, gathering her knees to her chest.
"You had been with someone else."
"Yes," he said simply, no sense denying it. "Not very well," he admitted.
She frowned, resting her cheek on one of her knees as she looked at him. "Huh?"
He chuckled lightly, grazing her other cheek with a fingertip. Her eyes fluttered closed and there was a part of him that knew it was him rather than her that was way out of their league here.
"You sure you want to hear this."
She nodded as an answer.
"I left that night because," he shrugged. "You'd come in from the pool and I was thinking things I have no business thinking."
"Because you're a lot younger than I am."
"I'm also being trusted to take care of you. Not contemplate seducing you."
Her eyes widened a little, but she said nothing.
"So, yes, I went to see someone, hoping I guess it'd get those thoughts out of my mind."
"Oh," she said, sounding none too happy about that.
He chuckled again, sliding his hand in between her knee and cheek so he could bring her face up to look at him.
"It didn't work."
"Looked that way to me."
"Looks can be deceiving. I'm not saying nothing happened, but she wasn't the answer. I couldn't," he cleared his throat. "Anyway," he said, not ready to make such an admission to her. "Then I came home and saw you and what I couldn't do earlier I wanted to do then."
"I got that."
"But I couldn't do that. Not to you, not to her."
"Who is she?"
"No, really. We met when I left treatment and started going to my NA meetings. She was new, too. It's nothing serious or steady, just someone we call when we need someone who gets what we are."
"And she's okay with that?"
He shrugged. "I guess so." He chuckled lightly. "She wouldn't be, but I would be?"
"Well, you're a guy."
"Guys," she shrugged. "I don't know. I don't know many guys who would be bummed out about being someone's booty call."
"That's not how it is. Not entirely. I won't deny that night it was."
"So, that's why you stopped?"
"Yes, some guys probably wouldn't have a problem with it, but I'm not one of them. I really have to go, Claire. I just wanted to apologize for all of that, for the tension here the past couple of days because of what I'd done. I didn't like waking up last night seeing you weren't here. It won't happen again."
She brushed her cheek against the palm of his hand, reached up and then kissed him. She'd blindsided him, catching him totally not expecting such a move on her part. She didn't stop at a peck either. Her lips slanted over his nicely, probably too nicely. He slid an arm around her waist, drawing her closer. Deeper into the kiss.
His phone rang, breaking into his thoughts of seeing how far she'd be willing to take the kiss. He groaned softly as he took it out of his pocket.
"I'm on my way," he said, not bothering to find out who it was. Doing nothing to try and disguise the fact she'd made him short of breath from a kiss.
He was met by his captain shouting profanities at him. He hung up, there was no use arguing with him when he was like this. Lee knew he should have been there hours ago, so his captain had every reason to chew him a new one.
"Sorry," she said, though she didn't sound entirely sincere.
"It's all right. I'm glad we got that out of the way so it didn't fester into something bad."
"See you when you get home."
"You going back to bed?"
"Yes, I didn't sleep last night more than an hour or two."
"Well, enjoy the fan."
"I will," she said, sliding back into bed. He stood, drawing the blanket around her again. "Be careful," she said as he was leaving the room.
It crossed his mind to ask her who she'd spent the night with. He realized, though, that it wasn't any of his business. She didn’t strike him as the type to sleep with one guy and come home and sleep with another guy. Looks could be deceiving, he of all people knew that. He'd fallen victim to the biggest form of deceit, almost ending up committed in marriage. He didn't think he was wrong about her, though.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com