I ordered it from Canada on Thursday, it arrived yesterday and I nearly fell over a dozen times on the way home from work trying to read it while crossing roads. I’m aware that probably no one else has read it yet and so the fact I’ve written a coda is going to fall on stony ground but, hey look, I wrote a coda:
Title: Be Here With Me
Content: SPOILERS for the short story (See Me).
Amy and Jack were waiting outside Lee’s apartment when they got home. Tony didn’t ask how they’d gotten into the building – with those two, it was going to be either something depressingly legal or something horrible illegal.
“Is everything – ” Amy started to say then cut herself off when she got a good look at Lee. “Shit, Lee, what happened?”
She reached to grip his shoulder but Lee shook her off and unlocked the front door, gently moving Jack aside so he could slip into the apartment.
Amy turned on Tony. “What happened?”
Tony just shook his head and followed Lee inside, leaving the door open behind him so the others could follow if they wanted. They wanted.
Lee crossed the living room without a word, opening the bedroom door and shutting it again firmly behind him. After a couple of seconds, Tony heard the shower in the master bathroom switch on.
“Fuck,” he muttered and rubbed his arms compulsively. He was still shivering from the shock of seeing Lee die. He didn’t think he’d ever completely stop.
“Tony.” That was Jack’s Cop Voice. “What’s going on? Why is Lee covered in blood?”
“And why’s he brooding like a rip-off Angel?” Amy added.
That almost, almost made Tony remember how to smile. “The, um. His hooker...” Tony trailed off. He was a horrible mess of conflicting emotions at the moment.
Wanting something to do, he opened the bedroom door and crossed to the closet, pulling out a change of jeans and a fresh shirt for Lee. The bathroom door was closed, but not locked, and a quick Go From Me/Come To Me sent the clean clothes into the bathroom and Lee’s dirty ones out.
It wasn’t until Amy cleared her throat that Tony realised he’d just been standing still, running his fingers over the gash across the front of Lee’s shirt and the dried blood crusting the edges. It was dark, vital, and Tony suddenly had to sit down.
What if Valerie hadn’t been succubus-like? he thought dizzily. What if she’d just been a girl? Tony would probably still be sitting here right now but Lee would be dead and -
A hand landed on Tony’s knee, squeezing. Jack’s, unsurprisingly, since Amy didn’t do physical affection unless severely provoked.
“Okay, what happened?” he asked. He nodded at the shirt. “That looks bad; did someone die?”
Tony laughed slightly hysterically. “You could say that.” He took a deep breath and told them the story; it didn’t take long since there wasn’t much they didn’t already know. The part where Valerie sacrificed herself to bring Lee back to life though, that pulled them up short.
“Wow,” Amy said softly. “I bet you feel shitty about acting like a jealous bitch about her now.”
“Amy,” Jack muttered but she was right, Tony did.
“Lee really liked her,” Tony told them. “They were going to be friends, apparently.” Lee had told him that, shaky and breathless, in the car on the way home, before he’d sunk into himself and fallen silent.
The room suddenly went quiet as the shower switched off. Amy and Jack glanced at each other then climbed to their feet – they were freaky sometimes, when they did things in sync.
“We’ll leave you guys alone,” Jack said, patting Tony’s shoulder. “Is there anything I need to do down at the station?”
Being friends with a cop was really useful sometimes; he could make sure things like I knocked down Darkest Night’s second lead and I’m sure I killed him but then he got up and walked away never reached the papers.
“Maybe,” Tony said. “Have a look?”
“Sure,” Jack agreed and, with a final, sympathetic quirk of a smile from Amy, they left.
Tony stared at the bathroom door for another couple of minutes but, when Lee didn’t come out, he told himself sternly to stop being an idiot and knocked softly on the door.
“Lee? Did you – ” He couldn’t say die right now.
Lee didn’t answer and Tony was suddenly hit by a flash of memory, Lee’s body crumpled on the road.
“Okay, I’m coming in,” he said, ignoring the shake in his voice and turned the handle.
Lee was sitting on the side of the bath, staring into space. He had a towel around his waist and was holding the clean shirt Tony had gotten out for him, wringing it between his hands.
“Hey,” Tony said, putting the lid down on the toilet and sitting on it. He twisted to face Lee and their knees brushed.
Lee’s eyes flicked up to meet Tony’s. His eyelashes were damp but Tony didn’t know if that was from the shower or something else. “What was she?” he asked. His voice was hoarse liked he’d... Like he’d died and come back to life.
Tony shook his head. “I don’t know exactly. The writers have lots of ideas. Something like a succubus, maybe?”
Lee nodded. “Maybe.” He looked down at his knees again. “It didn’t feel like Leah. She didn’t make me want – ”
Tony really didn’t want to argue about this right now. “I know,” he said. He reached out and rested his hand on Lee’s knee, incidentally putting it in Lee’s eyeline.
Lee dropped the shirt and picked up Tony’s hand instead, wrapping his fingers around Tony’s wrist, then stopped, staring fixedly at the place where his fingertips met. “I don’t know why she did that,” he whispered.
Tony shrugged even though Lee couldn’t see. “Because she liked you? Because she was old and you’re not? Because she was tired?”
Lee’s head snapped up. “She gave her life for me. She’d only known me a couple of days.”
Tony would have given his life for Lee after a couple of hours, but he didn’t say that because there was romantic and then there was scoring points off a dead woman.
“None of the above then?” he tried and felt relieved when Lee’s lips curved upward slightly. “Hey. As much as I’m enjoying the view up your towel, do you maybe want to get dressed?”
Lee still had his fingers around Tony’s wrist and was stroking the scar on Tony’s palm with his thumb. “I’m sorry about the last couple of days,” he said, watching the path of his thumb. “I hate fighting with you.”
They didn’t fight a lot but still, Lee had never said that before.
“No, hey.” After today, Tony was prepared to be the most generous. “We’re not fighting anymore,” he said. “And look, I never didn’t trust you, okay? I just knew something was hinky.”
“Right, you say that now,” Lee started but it was obvious he didn’t mean it.
“Yes, I do,” Tony agreed and got to his feet. “Come on, Mr Actor, you need to be on set in half an hour.”
“Shit,” Lee groaned and stood up too. He reached out with the hand not already holding on to Tony and pulled him in, resting their foreheads together.
He didn’t say anything and neither did Tony, but that was okay; Tony was pretty sure they both already knew.