This is for harborshore who is one of my very most favourite people, online and off. She makes me smile, she’s always there to reply to my emails even though she’s ridiculously busy, she can beta a 37,000 story in one night (twice!) and she’s an incredibly wonderful and easy person to spend time with.
I’m cheating a little because I told her about this story while we were camped out in a Pret in London so I already know she liked the sound of it. Happy birthday, darling, I'm so glad I know you ♥
Title: Normal Life Like Sleepwalking Pairing: always-a-girl!Bob/Brian Rating: PG-13 Word count: 6200 Warnings: mild violence.
“Tada,” Bob said dryly, tugging down her dress to make sure any suspicious bulges were hidden, “One drummer.”
Brian didn’t say anything for a minute. Finally, he managed a very inspired, “Yeah.”
“Eyes up, Brian,” Bob said firmly, “I’m not your Miss Congeniality.”
A/N: thanks to mahoni for a wonderfully thorough beta. (This fic also conveniently fills the Other: Detectives square on my AU bingo card.)
Normal Life Like Sleepwalking
Bob woke with sunlight burning her eyes. It was hot as fuck in her bedroom and at some point in the night she must have kicked off her comforter because it was twisted around her ankles like some kind of killer bedroom seaweed.
She rolled out of bed, scratched the healing scar on her left shoulder and readjusted her t-shirt and PJ pants so they were no longer twisted up around her.
Fucking summer. The minute the temperature rose above eighty degrees, Bob started to get grumpy.
The battery had died in the clock on her wall and her watch had gotten smashed in the ruckus last night, but it was her day off so it didn’t really matter how late she’d slept in. From the height of the sun in the sky, it looked like mid-morning.
Bob dragged herself out of her bedroom, down the stuffy, too-humid hallway and into the bathroom, where she took a leak, splashed water on her face and tried not to look at her reflection in the spotted mirror over the sink. She knew she was banged up; there was no need for her to check.
She briefly contemplated taking a shower but no, not yet. Coffee, she decided firmly and headed for the kitchen. The coffee maker on the counter had seen better (and cleaner) days but it worked, which was all that mattered.
Picking up the carafe, she turned toward the kitchen sink and stopped.
There was a wet mug upturned on the drainer. Bob never left her crockery out; she either dried and put it away or, more often, didn’t bother to wash it at all.
Very slowly, Bob put down the carafe and turned around. She reached sideways, not taking her eyes off the room, pulled open the cutlery drawer and found her largest kitchen knife by feel.
“Who’s here?” she called, keeping her voice firm and steady, her cop voice, the one she’d learned within five days on the job.
There was a double creak from a floorboard in the hallway, like someone was adjusting their weight.
“Come in here and face me, asshole,” Bob shouted.
Footsteps came slowly toward the kitchen door. Bob braced herself, realised she was holding her breath and forced herself to breathe slowly, calmly.
A small, dark shape stepped out of the shadowed doorway, into the kitchen. “Hey, Bryar,” Brian Schechter said, hands spread and a slow smile spreading across his face.
“Asshole,” Bob said and threw her knife at him.
The knife thudded into the wall, embedding harmlessly into the woodwork, exactly where she’d aimed it. Brian flinched and it almost made Bob feel better. But only almost.
She stalked across the room to him and shoved him backward, once then twice until he banged into the wall.
He tipped his head back and looked up at her. His eyes were still laughing and she really wanted to slap him.
“What the fuck?” she yelled at him, getting up in his face the way he’d taught her. “You broke into my house?”
Brian shrugged as best he could with her hands planted on his shoulders. “Not really, I still had my keys. And you changed your cellphone number.”
Bob’s eyes bugged. “It’s been six months, you asshole.” Except that wasn’t the point. That was an argument for another time. “My doorbell still works.”
Brian just looked at her. “I tried that,” he said levelly, “I think you were pretty dead asleep.” His arm twitched like he wanted to reach up. “What happened to your face?”
“None of your business,” she snapped and felt a little twinge of triumph at the hurt look that crossed his face.
Six months ago, it would have been his business. Back when they were partners, he would have been right there beside her, getting his ass bruised along with hers. These days, Bob mostly worked alone.
Brian sagged a little, most of the humour going out of his eyes. “I’m sorry,” he said, “Let me go?”
Bob stood there for a minute longer, breathing hard. Then she dropped her hands from his shoulders and stepped back. She didn’t turn her back on him but that was just to make a point.
“Bob,” Brian said, reaching out to touch her arm. She wished her t-shirt was less baggy so he wouldn’t be able to see the scar creeping up over her collarbone. She knew he’d remember how she’d gotten it.
Bob knocked his hand away. “Why are you here?” she asked.
Brian spread his hands. He was skinnier than the last time she’d seen him; he looked tired. She hated that she worried about shit like that. “I need your help,” he said simply.
Bob just stared at him because wow, seriously. Now he needed her help?
“Die in a fire, Schechter,” Bob said and pushed past him and out into the hallway. Slamming her bedroom door hard helped a little.
She stood there for a count of ten, making sure he wasn’t about to follow her in here then yanked off her t-shirt, kicked off her pyjama pants and changed quickly into some cut-off sweats and a fresh t-shirt.
If she’d gotten her day off to slob around the house like she’d been planning, she probably would have left the pants off but now Brian fucking Schechter was in her apartment and she was going to have to wear actual clothes in this fucking heat.
Reason number 9876 why he was the shittiest ex-partner a girl could possibly have.
Brian was making pancakes when Bob ventured back into the kitchen. That was not acceptable. Also she was damn sure she didn’t own any of the ingredients for pancakes.
“The hell are you doing?” Bob asked, folding her arms over her chest and glowering at him.
Brian held up a finger, turned down the heat then offered her his cockiest grin. Oh, how she hated him. “I’m making you breakfast, Bryar.”
Bob just raised her eyebrows, hoping her no shit expression spoke for itself.
Brian wrinkled his nose. “Yeah, okay, so maybe it was kind of shitty to turn up like this.”
“And?” she prompted.
“And I’m sorry.” He folded his arms to match hers.
Bob tipped her chin up. Brian was the hardest guy in the world to stay pissed at. Which just pissed her off more.
“Yeah, okay,” she said eventually, not really forgiving him but forgiving him for this at least, and sat down at her rickety little kitchen table. “Feed me, then.”
Brian’s smile was probably more relieved than he’d wanted her to see.
“So, what do you want?” Bob asked after she’d eaten six pancakes and drunk three mugs of coffee. Brian might be an asshole, but he made a good breakfast.
Brian made a face. “I told you. I need your help.”
Bob leaned back in her chair and widened her eyes in a listening pose. “Thought you didn’t,” she said easily, like that didn’t still sting. “I definitely remember you saying you didn’t need me.”
“Bob,” Brian sighed.
He rested his elbows on the table and looked at her steadily. It was the same look he’d given her six months ago in a hospital cafeteria when he told her he was going undercover and that she wasn’t invited.
“Brian,” Bob said, mimicking his wheedling tone. She didn’t enjoy being wheedled and he fucking knew it.
“Okay,” Brian said. He’d been fiddling with a coffee mug, not really drinking from it and now he wrapped both hands around it, curling it in toward his chest a little like he was cold. “Okay, so I fucked up. They offered me this gig and you’d just gotten hurt so I jumped at it when I should have stuck with you.”
Bob shook her head, not denying, definitely not denying. She’d been waiting to hear him say that for six months.
“What do you need from me, then?” she asked.
“We think we’ve found the supplier,” Brian told her. “The asshole who’s actually bringing the drugs in to the clubs.”
Brian was undercover in the Chicago music scene, investigating a bunch of deaths of scene kids from tainted drugs. The last Bob had heard anything about it, Brian had been heading off on tour. She hadn’t exactly been jealous when she’d heard that but yeah, okay, she’d maybe felt a little pang.
“Awesome,” Bob said and she wasn’t being sarcastic; she did mean that. She just wasn’t sure what it had to do with her.
“I’m closing in on him. I got an in with an all-girl band and they’re playing House of Blues tomorrow night. Or they were supposed to. One of them’s out sick and I cannot let this shit fall apart.” Brian looked at her hard, like he was offering her something, like he expected her to understand what he was getting at.
All of a sudden, she did. She just wasn’t sure she liked it.
“So basically, you need a woman to stand on stage and look non-threatening?” Bob asked, getting pissed all over again.
“Fuck’s sake, no,” Brian said, throwing up his hands. “I need you. The kid who’s out is their drummer.” He looked at her pointedly.
“Oh,” Bob said slowly. “You want me to--” She hadn’t drummed in years. She hadn’t even known Brian remembered her telling him she could. They’d both been pretty fucking wasted the last time she’d let herself get nostalgic.
“I know you can do it, Bob,” Brian said. “Will you help me?”
Bob reached over and tugged the coffee mug out of Brian’s hands. If she was going to do this, she was going to be caffeinated.
“Fine,” she said, “But you’ll owe me.”
They took the Brown line to Chicago then walked the few blocks down to House of Blues. It felt weird to be walking with Brian again. They’d been partners for six years and it had taken Bob a long time to get used to not having him at her side; she didn’t want to get comfortable with having him back, in case he wasn’t here to stay.
“So,” Brian said awkwardly, hands shoved deep into his jacket pockets. “How have you been?”
Bob just looked at him sideways and he laughed quietly.
“Yeah, awkward, huh?”
Bob shrugged. “Could have been worse,” she said. She didn’t tell him how. At least he hadn’t asked her about her shoulder, which was the go-to subject for guys down at the station who tried to make nice but didn’t know anything about her except that she’d gotten shot once.
“So,” Brian said again. “They found you a new partner yet?” He said it offhand, like it didn’t matter to him. Bob would have told him she saw straight through him, but she wasn’t sure she liked him enough right now to call him on his bullshit.
“Wentz for a while,” she said instead, nodding when Brian winced. “Yeah, exactly. I didn’t kill him, but it came close.”
Brian laughed. “Who now?”
“Salpeter sometimes, but mostly no one,” Bob told him and refused to look at him. She wasn’t fucking waiting for him to come back; maybe she just liked working on her own.
“Cool,” Brian said and Bob didn’t know how she was supposed to take that.
House of Blues looked and smelled exactly like it had the last time she’d been inside. She’d spent so much of her teens and early twenties here that it was almost like coming home. If her home had had five elderly cleaners vacuuming the floors and polishing the walls anyway.
Brian hopped out of the way of an oncoming vacuum cleaner and headed up toward the stage. Bob followed him more slowly, letting her hands brush the walls and the backs of seats as she passed them.
On stage, four young, pretty girls in skinny jeans and long shirts were clustered together, talking quietly and seriously. The one with long brown hair and heavy bangs had her arm in a sling - the drummer, presumably, the one Bob would be replacing.
“Schechter,” Bob hissed, grabbing his arm and bending down to talk in his ear, “You’re out of your fucking mind. I’m ten years older than these kids.” Not to mention thirty pounds heavier and from a totally different music scene.
Brian looked her up and down assessingly. He frowned. “Bullshit. Just put on a dress, you’ll fit right in.” He paused. “You do own a dress, right?”
Bob stared at him in disbelief for a minute then threw up her hands and stalked onto the stage. Maybe these kids had more sense than their fake manager.
“Hey,” she said, interrupting the blonde one with the pixie cut who was leaning against the keyboard, talking to a brunette with Amy Winehouse hair. “I’m your new drummer.”
She was half-hoping they’d recoil in horror or something since, in her Metallica hoodie and baggie pants she had to be the opposite of what they were looking for, but the blonde one just grinned and stood up, offering her hand.
“Hi,” she said, her hand tiny but her handshake firm, “I’m Z. Thanks so much for helping us out.”
“Yeah,” Bob said, thrown, “Um, no problem. I don’t know what Schechter’s told you, but I-”
“He said you’re awesome,” Z interrupted before she could put them off by explaining just how fucking long it had been since she’d drummed seriously. She curled her hand around Bob’s wrist and tugged her over to the girl with the sling.
The girl with the sling was called Tennessee.
“You’re going to need to teach me all the songs,” Bob told her, feeling the long-forgotten buzz of nervous adrenaline light up her veins, “Are you up for that?”
“By tonight,” Brian reminded them, hopping up on stage. “Can you do it?”
Bob just looked at him, entertained to find Tennessee doing the same thing.
Brian shook his head. “Right. Stupid question. Of course you can.”
It had been for-fucking-ever since Bob had drummed seriously, so her arms felt limp and noodle-like by the evening. She mostly had the songs down though, so the exhaustion was worth it.
The Like were a Britpop-inspired kind of band, so the drum lines weren’t overly strenuous physically but they were tricky and Bob needed to keep her mind focused on them or she’d end up missing a little twist she hadn’t realised was there.
Tennessee was incredibly patient with her, which helped.
“That’s pretty good,” Z said from the doorway and Bob nearly dropped her sticks in surprise; she hadn’t realised anyone was there. “You ever think about playing professionally?”
“Isn’t that what I’m doing now?” Bob asked, rather than telling her that yeah, of course she’d thought about it. Being a cop won out though, no matter how much she bitched about it or how many nights she told herself she hated it.
Z tipped her head. “Point.” She walked over to them, squeezing Tennessee’s shoulder and messing with her hair until Tennessee laughed and ducked away. “We’re on in an hour, Bob. Ready to come get changed?”
“Changed?” Bob echoed.
Brian was waiting for Bob outside the women’s bathroom which made Bob’s eyebrows climb all the way up.
He ducked his head and took three steps back. “Here,” he said, shoving a Macy’s bag into her hand.
Cautiously, Bob took it, peering inside. There were definitely clothes in there, clothes and something that looked suspiciously like make-up.
“Where’d these come from?” she asked, wondering just how ridiculous she was going to have to look for this gig.
Brian shrugged awkwardly. “Laena and I went to the store,” he said.
Bob felt a smile start to grow. “You went clothes shopping for me?” she asked, distracted from her own potential humiliation by the mental image of his.
Brian rolled his eyes. He was blushing a little though, which made Bob’s day. Shaking her bag at him, Bob stepped backwards into the bathroom, locking the door behind her.
The floor was weirdly, worryingly damp so she piled everything up on counter behind the sink, carefully avoiding the spider living in one corner. The glamorous life of the beat cop, for serious.
The clothes Laena and Brian had found for her weren’t quite as bad as she’d been anticipating, just some black skinny jeans that she had to wriggle to get into, a black and white check shirt dress and some pretty awesome boots. The pants were tight, but the dress was loose, which was useful: room enough for her gun and a couple other useful things.
She felt a little bit like a kickass cowgirl, which amused her enough that she managed not to feel too self-conscious. She hadn’t worn anything even slightly like a dress since she was nine years old and it was kind of a shock to look down and see the actual shape of her knees looking back at her.
The makeup was actually kind of useful because she had a bruise on her chin and a scrape across her cheek from the bar fight she’d broken up last night, so she hid them then just smeared on some lipgloss and mascara and decided that would have to do.
As a concession to fashion and Brian’s delicate sensibilities, she did brush out her hair. It hurt. There were a lot of tangles.
Someone rapped on the door while she was still trying to make sense of her bangs.
“Bryar, what the fuck are you doing in there?” Brian shouted.
Bob pulled the door open with enough force that it almost bounced out of her hand. She raised her eyebrows at him.
“Have you been waiting out there the whole time?” she asked. “That’s kind of creepy.”
“Fuck you,” Brian said pleasantly. He waved at the door which was blocking most of her body. “Let me see you then.”
Telling herself firmly that she didn’t give a shit about his reaction, Bob stepped around the door. “Tada,” she said dryly, tugging down her dress to make sure any suspicious bulges were hidden, “One drummer.”
Brian didn’t say anything for a minute. Finally, he managed a very inspired, “Yeah.”
“Eyes up, Brian,” Bob said firmly, “I’m not your Miss Congeniality.”
“What? I-.” Brian’s eyes snapped up. They’d been somewhere around Bob’s knees, right where the boots ended, because Brian was a giant weirdo. He cleared his throat. “There’s nothing I can say right now which isn’t going to make you punch me, so I’m just going to say thanks for doing this.”
Bob laughed softly. “Yeah, you’re welcome,” she told him. She leaned back against the wall. “So, tell me the plan?”
The ‘plan’ was not a plan. The plan involved Brian in the crowd looking for their mark and Bob on stage to provide a second set of eyes.
“And how am I going to tell you if I spot him?” she asked. “Morse code?”
Brian smirked and pulled a little box out of his pocket. “Way more sophisticated than that,” he told her and flipped it open to show a wax-coated earpiece and a ridiculously tiny microphone. He pressed the piece into his own ear then tipped the microphone into his palm. “More like magic,” he said, with a dorky flick of his wrist.
Bob laughed and stepped up to him so he could fix the mic wherever it was supposed to go.
Brian reached up to the neckline of her dress then went suddenly, hilariously puce. “Um,” he said, “Maybe you should do it.”
“Seriously?” Bob asked, unable to decide if she was annoyed or not. “This is what me wearing a dress does to you? You’ve always known I had tits, Brian.”
If anything, Brian went redder. “Shut up,” he muttered and pressed the microphone into her hand. “Put it up nice and high, okay,” he said and backed up until his ass hit the other side of the corridor.
Bob was not impressed. “I’m not impressed,” she told him but fastened the mic to her collar anyway.
Brian’s eyes flicked down the corridor then back to Bob. “Be careful, yeah?” he said quickly, quietly, “No heroics.”
All right, now Bob was more than unimpressed. “For fuck’s sake, just because I’m wearing a dress, it doesn’t mean I can’t-”
“Really?” Brian interrupted. “Dresses don’t stop you doing your job? Dude, I never would have guessed.” He rolled his eyes. “That’s not what I meant.” He didn’t look her in the eye. “I’ve already watched you bleed out once. I don’t need to see that again.”
Bob gaped a little bit, not really sure what to say. By the time she’d gotten her voice back, Z was sticking her head into the corridor, calling, “Guys? It’s showtime.”
The crowd went wild when The Like stepped out on stage. Bob knew it wasn’t really for her, but the adrenaline spike still made her face crack a smile and carried her over to her seat behind the drumkit.
It was loud enough that Bob couldn’t hear what Z was saying to the audience, but she was pretty sure she caught her own first name so she waved awkwardly before concentrating on her sticks again.
Shit, it had been a long time since she’d been on stage. Not that she was nervous. She was just... It had been a long time.
Z turned from the microphone and grinned at Bob.
“Count us in,” she said and Bob did.
They were well into the set before Bob noticed anything out of the ordinary happening in the crowd. Truthfully, she wouldn’t have minded if nothing had happened until the set was over; she was having fun. But she also had a job to do so she ducked her head and hissed, “Brian.”
Brian straightened up from his deceptively casual slouch against the bar and lifted his soda can slightly in acknowledgement.
On the dance floor, three rows from the front, Marcus Hutton was swapping a handful of bills for a little baggie of powder which Bob highly doubted was Kool-Aid mix.
“My eleven o’clock,” Bob murmured and crashed her sticks down hard on the skin because she couldn’t punch Hutton right now.
She watched Brian slide through the crowd, moving around people easily enough that in other circumstances she would have mocked him for revealing his past life as a scenester.
“Two rows forward,” she told him then swore when Hutton pushed back through the crowd just as Brian reached where he’d been.
“Careful, don’t chase him,” Bob said automatically even though she knew he knew what he was doing. “He’s heading to the side door.”
Bob felt like a grand chess master, sitting on stage choreographing Brian’s dance around the club. Her heart was pounding in time with her rhythm, which didn’t falter even as she watched Hutton slide up behind a girl in a striped shirt, murmur something in her ear. The girl nodded and Bob watched Hutton’s hand slide into his pocket.
“Deal number two going down,” she said, curling her hands tighter around her sticks because Brian was right there this time, with a clear path and a direct line of sight.
Brian looked up, meeting her eyes for a second to show he’d heard then stepped forward. He put his hand on Hutton’s shoulder, other hand already on the small of his back where he kept his handgun.
Hutton turned, stiffened and threw a punch.
Bob was half out off her stool before she realised that Brian hadn’t gone down and then the crowd was parting, screaming, and Z’s voice faltered as Brian launched himself at Hutton.
Hutton kicked out hard at Brian, catching him in the stomach and Brian doubled over but managed to get his hands around Hutton’s belt so when Brian went down they both did.
Bob was on her feet now, but she couldn’t see what the fuck was happening because the crowd was forming a ring around them like this was fucking Fight Club or something.
“Everybody out of the way,” she heard Z order through her microphone. A couple of people did move, not many, but enough for Bob to see Hutton raise his hand and his fist connect with Brian’s face, thumping his head back hard against the wooden floor.
There was blood on Brian’s face and that was all Bob needed to see before she jumped off the side of the stage and raced around to help him.
Before Bob could get there, Hutton was on his feet again, shoving through the crowd and coming right toward her because he thought she was just a drummer, he had no idea what she could do.
She wanted, desperately, to go to Brian, but instead she shot her fist out and caught Hutton under the jaw.
He staggered, righting himself against the wall.
“What the fuck?” he snarled, trying to push her away.
“Police,” she said, “Asshole,” and went to punch him again.
Hutton ducked, sent her backwards with a vicious shove in the centre of her chest. He was a big guy and it took her a second to make sure she was going to keep her balance.
She caught his hand when he went for a punch, knocking it to the side and landing a hit of her own to his nose instead. Blood gushed down his face and apparently that pissed him off because he forgot about getting away and charged her instead, knocking them both to the ground.
Winded, Bob squirmed, bringing her knee up to try to get his balls, but his hands were around her throat and she couldn’t get the right leverage.
She kicked out anyway because her boots were awesome and they’d be able to do some serious damage if only she could connect them to something. She got Hutton just below the knee and he swore but pressed down harder against her windpipe which, fuck, had not been the plan.
Bob closed her eyes, trying to make herself go limp, not fight back, hoping he’d drop his guard if he thought he’d knocked her out.
There was a sudden sound like splitting wood and Bob opened her eyes to see Hutton roll away, blood and dark shards of wood in his hair.
Laena stood over him, the other half of a broken violin clutched in her hand.
“Dude, your violin,” Bob gasped, struggling to sit up. She tried to keep hold of Hutton but it took too much coordination and he set off at a run around the back of the stage.
Laena shrugged. “It’s an old one,” she said. She held out her hand. “Need help?”
Bob grabbed her hand and scrambled to her feet. “Thanks,” she said and took off running through the door after Hutton.
The door led to a narrow flight of stone steps, leading up to the roof, because Hutton had clearly never seen a horror movie.
“I’m on the first step and I’m coming to get you,” Bob muttered to herself and grabbed the handrail to propel herself up.
It was a straight staircase, no nasty twists or turns for Hutton to be lurking around. It was also steep as fuck and Bob was breathless by the time she reached the top. The fire door was half open and she put her hand against it, pushing it gently so it swung open slowly, giving her plenty of time to brace herself for a bullet.
She jumped back, pressed herself against the wall.
“Hutton,” she yelled, “Give it up or I’ll shoot.” The fact that her gun was gone from its holster was neither here nor there.
“Fuck you,” he shouted because clearly no one had ever taught him the value of witty banter.
“Didn’t your mama ever teach you to show some respect?” Brian’s voice behind Bob made her jump and twitch with the need to turn and check on him.
Almost as if he knew, he pressed against her side, breath warm on her cheek. “Hey, Bryar,” he said, pushing something cold and solid into her hand. “I think you dropped your gun.”
She did risk looking at him then, taking her eyes off the doorway for a split second because she knew Brian would be keeping a look out for her.
“You okay?” she asked. She only turned her head a couple of degrees but their cheeks brushed together, his skin smooth against hers.
He twitched a little, but didn’t move away. “Yeah,” he told her quietly, “Got a lovely bump on the back of my head. It’s totally sexy.”
Bob laughed. “I bet,” she said and even though she was clearly being sarcastic, it was weird because she’d meant to say you wish.
Brian’s hand curled around Bob’s hip, warm through the thin material of her dress and it was her turn to twitch.
“Dude,” she said but he interrupted her before she could get any further.
“I want you to go around,” he said, “I’ll distract him.”
“No way,” Bob said automatically, distracted from any potential weirdness. “Switch that. You’re a better long range shot that me. You know it.” She didn’t mention that she was a way better at close range because he was always too fucking stubborn to get his eyes tested.
“Bob, no,” Brian said, but Bob had already stepped out of the doorway.
“Hutton,” she called, “Dude, let’s talk about this.”
The sound of the shot had her diving for cover behind a raised vent even before the bullet impacted harmlessly against the gravel.
“Or not.” Bob checked her clip, flicked off the safety and rolled onto her side. Out in the open for four seconds, she got off two quick shots, not really aiming to hit anyone, just to stop Hutton noticing Brian coming up at him from behind.
“Drop the gun,” Brian said, voice carrying easily across the roof.
Bob grinned. They made an awesome team.
She rose into a crouch, taking a look at what was happening. Brian was approaching Hutton cautiously, gun raised and Hutton was lifting his hands, almost as if he was surrendering.
“Watch out!” Bob yelled but it was too late.
Hutton grabbed a pistol from the holster tucked between his shoulder blades and fired at Brian, who ducked just in time, then he spun, firing at Bob who had stepped out into the open, nothing to throw herself behind.
It hurt like a motherfucker. A solid thump to the chest which sent her flying backwards, gravel crunching painfully under her, her head landing with a smack.
“Fuck,” she groaned, trying to curl up and reach for her gun all at the same time. She hurt too much to do either though and just flopped back, hand pressed to her sternum.
A second shot broke through the fuzziness in her brain and she struggled to sit up again, managing to get a hand under herself despite the way her body screamed at her.
Brian was running for her, Hutton handcuffed to the door, hand pressed to a sluggishly bleeding wound in his shoulder.
That was all Bob needed to see and she let herself lie down again.
“Bob,” Brian said, reaching for her. His hands were shaking. “Shit. Fuck.”
Bob tried to tell him that she was okay but the bullet had knocked the wind out of her and she couldn’t speak yet.
Brian’s hands were quick and efficient on her body, running over her chest, her sides, sliding under her to touch her back. His fingers skating over her breasts, looking for bullet holes in a totally impersonal way, robbed her of speech in a completely different way.
“You’re not hit,” Brian said, rocking back on his heels and staring down at her. “Are you hit?”
Bob shook her head. “Vest,” she managed to get out.
She was expecting him to be relieved, they were partners - ex-partners, partners - after all, but she wasn’t expecting the way his head sagged forward, the low, pained, “Oh, thank god,” that barely made it past his lips.
If anything, he was shaking worse now.
On the street below, Bob heard the sounds of sirens screeching up to the club.
Brian still hadn’t stopped staring at her.
“You’re really okay?” he asked at last, like he was stuck on that.
“Brian,” Bob said, smacking his knee with the back of her hand then curling her palm around it, “This isn’t last time.”
Last time, she hadn’t been okay. There’d been no vest and she’d drifted in and out to Brian’s wet (bloody) hands on her face and resuscitation panels on her chest.
Brian nodded. “When he shot you, my mind went straight back there,” he admitted, not meeting her eyes. He picked her hand off his knee and laced their fingers together. Bob wondered if he even knew he was doing it.
Bob rolled her eyes. “Well, duh,” she said, because, well, what else could she say. She’d gotten shot once and it had been traumatic for both of them. She’d gotten shot this time and everyone was okay. Brian didn’t need her to tell him that; he already knew. “You got him though.”
Brian smiled distantly. “If he’d killed you, I was going to shoot him in the head,” he told her.
“Right,” Bob said because she knew without a shadow of a doubt that Brian wouldn’t have done anything of the sort. “Because what I’d really need is an avenging fucking angel.”
Brian’s hand squeezed Bob’s fingers hard. “Bob,” he said softly.
Using his grip on her hand, Bob managed to pull herself upright. “Hey,” she said, putting her other hand on his thigh. “Hey, you’re over this now, right? You get that I’m not going to break?”
Brian lifted his head. His eyes tracked around her face like he hadn’t seen her for years, rather than five seconds, and six months before that.
“Yeah,” he said, “Maybe.” Bob squeezed his hand warningly and Brian managed a smile. “All right, all right, definitely.”
More relieved than she was comfortable admitting, Bob leaned her elbows on her thighs, taking some of her weight. She could almost feel the blood vessels in her chest knitting themselves together into one massive bruise.
Brian’s face turned serious again straight away. “Come on, can you stand? We should get you down to the EMTs.”
“You too,” Bob said, focusing on the cut under Brian’s eye, the bruise on his cheek rather than how much it hurt as he helped her to her feet.
She stumbled and Brian’s arm wrapped around her waist.
Bob raised her eyebrows, but didn’t say anything.
Just inside the stairwell, Brian stopped her, fingers soft on her arm. “Bryar,” he said, “Bob.”
She waited, but he didn’t say anything else, just leaned into her, pushing up onto his toes just enough to fit their mouths together.
Bob made a little sound -- mostly of surprise, because seriously, here? -- and opened her mouth to his. It had been months since they’d last done this - the day before Bob had gotten shot, if she wanted to be specific - and Bob had almost made herself forget that this had ever been between them, but Brian’s mouth against hers still felt familiar, as easy as it had ever been.
She only kissed him for a second - maybe two - before shoving him away.
Brian blinked at her, licking his lips.
Bob jerked her chin at Hutton, peering at them curiously over her shoulder. “Not in front of him,” she said even though it was hard; with Brian’s eyes heavy-lidded like that, it reminded Bob of that last morning, Brian sun-warm and clumsy with sleep, comfortable in her bed.
Brian nodded, cheeks going kind of pink like he really hadn’t meant to kiss her in front of their perp. “After we’re done here?” he asked, knocking his heel against the wall the way he did when he was nervous.
Bob couldn’t help dragging it out a little. It wasn't like he didn't deserve it. “After we’re done here, I’m going to sleep for a week.”
“Right.” Brian swallowed.
Bob rolled her eyes and punched him in the arm. “After that, though, you can take me out for breakfast, if you want.” She shrugged like it didn’t matter. “Assuming you’re still going to be around.”
“I’ll still be here,” Brian promised, way more serious than he ever usually was.
Just because he’d said it didn’t mean she suddenly trusted him again but, still, it was a start. “It’s a date then,” she said and waited for him to pull Hutton to his feet before leading the way down the stairs.