If Heaven Was A Tear
By Maquis Leader
Author’s note: This story is based on something I read in an interview with Ed regarding what he’d originally planned for the 6th season finale before the network decided to cancel Third Watch. Set following the finale – forget the farewell at the 55 and Sully’s monologue.
“Thanks for letting us stay, Bosco.”
“No problem.” Bosco unlocked his apartment door and waved them in. “I know you don’t want to go to your parents’.”
“I’ve had enough stress for one day.” Faith followed Emily inside. “Dealing with my parents on top of that – no thank you.”
“And I’m pretty sure Em doesn’t want to go stay with Fred and what’s her butt.” Bosco grinned as he shut the door and locked it. “Unless I misunderstood that whole ‘I’ll slit my wrists first’ thing she said to him.”
“I hate her.” Emily made a face. “She’s too nice. I keep waiting for little bluebirds to start flying around her head and singing. Or for her to get an axe from the closet. Maybe both.”
“Bathroom’s down the hall – first door.” Bosco pointed. “Bedroom is the last door.”
“Bosco, we’re not kicking you out of your bed!” Faith protested.
“Oh yeah, go, Mom!” Emily gave her mom the thumbs up. “Finally putting the moves on Uncle Bos.”
“Emily!” Her face turned red and she glared at her daughter. “I didn’t mean it like that and you know it!”
“Too bad.” She patted Bosco’s shoulder. “I keep thinking Mom’ll wise up.”
Bosco laughed. Emily was always full of surprises. “Just let me get something to sleep in.”
“That’s cool.” Emily flopped down on the couch.
Faith followed Bosco down the hall. “Bos, Em can take the couch and I’ll sleep on the floor.”
“The couch has a bed in it. I’ll sleep there – you and Em take my bed.” He opened a dresser drawer and pulled out three pairs of sweat pants. One he tossed on top the dresser and the others he handed to her. “These oughta work for tonight.”
“I feel funny kicking you out of your own bed – you’re sure it’s all right?”
“It’ll be okay for a couple of days.” Opening another drawer, he pulled out three t-shirts, again tossing one on the dresser top and handing the others to Faith.
“A couple of days?”
“Faith, odds are that nobody’s even been back to your place since all this started – you’re gonna be lucky if you can go home for a week.” Out of a third drawer he pulled out three pairs of boxers. “Best I can do here.”
“Crap.” Faith held the clothes to her chest. “I never even thought about that. They’ve got to collect evidence – it’s got to be cleaned up – I’ve never even thought about all that before.”
“Emily – “ Bosco looked past her and down the hallway. Emily was still sitting on the couch. He lowered his voice. “Emily may not want to go home, either.”
“Are you kidding? Faith, she was so freaked out – we had to wait outside for the bus and backup.”
“I hadn’t thought of that. Oh my God, Bosco.” She slumped against the dresser. “How do people deal with this?”
“I don’t know. But we’ll figure it out.” He reached out and brushed his fingers over her crossed arms. “I’m sorry.”
“Bosco, there’s nothing for you to be sorry for.”
“I’m sorry I did this to her.” Bosco pulled his hand back. “It’s my fault.”
“You saved her life.” Faith reached for his hand and squeezed it hard. “What the hell is there for you to apologize for?”
“Faith, I – I blew the guy’s head off right in front of her.” He avoided looking her in the eye by looking down at their joined hands. “He was damn near on top of her – she’s lucky she didn’t end up with his brains all over her.”
“You saved her and that’s all that matters.”
“She started screaming – she threw up – and I shoulda been smarter about it and spared her seeing that.”
“Bos – “ She squeezed his hand again. “He would have killed her and you saved her – she’ll get over it.”
“If I hadn’t been stupid and let vampire boy get the drop on me – I coulda took him down and cuffed him and not traumatized her for life.”
“She isn’t traumatized for life. Look at me – “ When Bosco looked up at her, Faith met him squarely eye to eye. “He’s dead and he can never hurt her again. He can’t get off on some technicality because he’s crazy, and come back to hurt her. That’s what we’re going to focus on. You hear me?”
“Bosco… do you hear me?” Letting go of his hand, she shook her finger at him.
“Yes!” He smiled at her. “God, you’re bossy.”
“How did he get the drop on you anyway?”
“I was stupid.” The smile turned into an embarrassed grin. “When I realized someone was in there with her – saw the bruises on her face – I lost it. Just fucking lost it. I rushed in and bam – lights out.”
“Typical Bosco.” The memory of Bosco dragging her to the waiting room floor came back to her. “Always rushing in. You keep throwing yourself in front of people and you’re gonna get yourself killed one of these days.”
“Someone I care about was in danger.” The midnight blue eyes softened. “I love Em, you know? She’s – I watched her grow up. Someone was hurting her and I couldn’t let that happen.”
“Well, you’re her Uncle B, what else were you gonna do?” It was no secret that Bosco had a soft spot for her kids, but Faith didn’t remember him ever using the L word before.
“I should’ve been smarter and pretended to leave. Then called for help and snuck back in.” He looked away once again. “I was a little… drunk.”
“Well… not completely. I wasn’t shit faced.” Glancing up, Bosco was happy to see that Faith wasn’t pissed off. Shocked, but not pissed off. “I’d had a few drinks. Enough to work up the balls to come over and confront you about going to Swersky.”
“Bosco, I’m sorry, I really am.”
“Nah, forget it.”
“No, not this time.” She shook her head. “We always just forget it, or we let things slide without ever talking. And we’ve got to stop that. Bosco, I’m sorry, but I was scared for you and that’s why I went to Lieu.”
“I know. It’s okay.”
“No, you don’t know.” Tears burned her eyes and she blinked them away. “The thought of you being shot again – and dying this time – because you couldn’t see to shoot some skell – Bosco, it just made me so crazy. I was scared beyond belief.”
“I do know.” Bosco leaned on the dresser next to her, his shoulder brushing hers. “I was pissed off and scared, thinking what the fuck am I going to do with the rest of my life if I can’t be a cop.”
“We always hurt each other, Bos.” Faith wiped at her eyes. “We’ve got to stop. We have to talk or yell – or I don’t know what. Something.”
“We’ve got to remember we’re partners.” He nudged her shoulder with his. “All we’ve got is each other.”
“There’s a scary thought.” Chucking, she nudged him back.
“I should have never asked you to shoot for me. You’re the only one I knew who’d understand how I felt. Part of the reason I was so pissed off was because I knew I should’ve realized you wouldn’t do it because it was a stupid idea.”
“I should’ve followed you. Should’ve argued with you and made you understand.” Sighing, Faith clutched the clothes to her chest again. “I was just in shock, I guess. You worked so damn hard and it was all for nothing.”
“Faith, I re-qualified on my own.” Bosco put a hand over his heart. “I swear to God.”
“I believe you.” Turning, she caught his eye. “I believe you, Bos.”
The relief was evident as he sagged back against the dresser. “Thank you.”
“Don’t thank me. I screwed up. And I didn’t believe you until you shot vamp boy – I knew you would never risk hitting Emily. If you shot him with him that close to her, then you knew – you knew that you were gonna hit what you were aiming at.” Faith shook her head and sighed again. “I handled it all wrong, Bosco. Nothing unusual, right?”
“Don’t beat yourself up, I put you in a tough spot.”
“Bullshit! I should’ve gone with you to the range and helped you instead of just telling you no and letting you walk out.”
“I shouldn’t have asked. I was – “ He shrugged.
“Bosco, you have to forgive me.” It was Faith’s turn to look away. “When you told me you couldn’t see – I was glad, you know? Then you wouldn’t be back out there and you couldn’t get hurt again.”
He’d wondered if that was a big part of Faith’s reasoning. Her comment of ‘take your three quarters’ had hurt like hell, but he’d felt the same about her when she’d come back to work the year before.
“Ah, forget it.” Bosco leaned against her for a moment. “I was scared as hell when you came back to work. I kept thinking you should just take disability and get out. Be safe, you know?”
“At least I had you to come back to.”
“Don’t even start that.” He pushed off the dresser, picking up the sweat pants, boxers, and t-shirt before heading for the bathroom. “I’m proud of you.”
“But I left you behind!”
“Bosco!” Faith followed him out of the bedroom. “If I’d have known – “
“Not listening.” Bosco stopped at the bathroom doorway. “I’m taking the first shower.”
“I think Emily is asleep anyway.” She looked down the hall into the living room. Emily was curled up on the couch, her eyes closed. “I want you to listen to me.”
“No.” He shut the door in her face.
“Don’t you – “ She jerked the door back open. “ – shut the door on me!”
“I’m takin’ a shower!”
“And you’re going to listen to me!”
Bosco unbuttoned his shirt. “I’m taking my clothes off.”
“Like I’ve never seen you undress before?”
Tossing his shirt on the floor, Bosco sat down on the edge of the tub and pulled his boots and socks off. “The pants are next.”
“I’ve seen you in your shorts, Bosco.” She snorted. “You’re no prize.”
He stood and unbuttoned his jeans, pushing them down. “You ain’t seen me in less than my shorts.”
He had her there. Bosco had showered at work before, but he’d always walked into the showers wearing his shorts and walked back out wearing a clean pair.
“I’ve seen a naked man before, Bos.” Faith turned around as he hooked his thumbs in the waistband of his shorts and started sliding them down. “I’ll be out in the hallway.”
“Thank you.” Stripping off his shorts, Bosco stepped into the tub and jerked the shower curtain closed.
“I feel so bad, Bosco.”
“Can’t hear you!” He turned on the water. “Water in my ears!”
Satisfied that he’d shut her up, Bosco peeled the dirty bandage off his face, wadding it up and lying it on the side of the tub.
He scrubbed himself hard, washing the soot and smoke off his body and out of his hair. Knowing that there was a limited amount of hot water and that Emily and Faith still needed to shower, he washed as quickly as he could. As much as his head and body ached, this wasn’t the time for a long, hot shower.
Satisfied that he was clean, Bosco shut the water off and pulled the shower curtain back. He stepped out of the tub, reaching for the clean towel hanging on the rack, only to hit bare metal. “What the hell?”
“You’re going to listen to me.”
“Faith!” Blinking water from his eyes, Bosco found Faith standing next to the tub, the clean towel in her hands. “Jesus! Get out!”
“Not until you hear what I have to say.” Faith kept her eyes locked on his.
“Give me the towel!” His sweats were behind her on the counter. There was nothing else to cover himself with, and he cupped his hands over his crotch. “I’ve got a headache and I don’t want to deal with this crap!”
“Will you just let me say my peace? I promise I’ll never bring it up again.”
“Yes! Now give me the damn towel!” They’d been through a lot of things in thirteen years, bare assed nakedness wasn’t one of them.
“I promise, damn it!” He grabbed the towel from her and wrapped it around his waist.
“The doctor told me that you were never going to wake up. And if you did, that you’d never work again.” Faith sniffled back tears. She was determined to say what she had to say without crying. “And there I was trying to get my kids back. I gave up on you, Bosco. I didn’t think you’d come back.”
“It’s all right.” Putting his arm around her shoulders, he pulled her into a hug. “Ma told me how bad it was for you, but, Faith, it comes down to doing what you thought was best for Em and Charlie. I’m not mad. I woulda told you to do it if I’d been able. You know that.”
“Yeah, I know.” She leaned her cheek against Bosco’s. His cool, wet skin reminded her that he was wearing nothing more than a towel. “I better let you get dressed.”
“That’d be good.”
Closing the bathroom door as she left, Faith went into the living room to wake Emily. Emily curled up tighter as Faith shook her shoulder. “Come on, baby. You need a shower before you go to bed.”
“Poor kid. You oughta just let her sleep.”
Faith looked up at Bosco. “You want smoke and crap in your bed?”
“Hey! Get up, Em!” Reaching past Faith, he shook Emily’s shoulder. “Your Uncle Bos likes a clean bed.”
“That’s why you never bring girls home?” Faith giggled as he shot her a dirty look. “Sorry. I couldn’t resist.”
Emily squinched her eyes tighter. “Shower morning.”
“This will get her up.” He leaned over and let his wet hair drip on her face.
Wiping at the cold drops on her face, Emily finally opened her eyes. “Knock it off!”
“Get up and take a shower.”
She sat up, yawning and stretching. “Can’t I just sleep here?”
“No, you stink.” Bosco held a hand out to help her up. “And I’m sleeping here. You and your mom get the bed.”
“You and Mom can have the bed.” She giggled. Then her expression sobered and she reached up to touch his scarred cheek.
Bosco flinched, realizing he’d forgotten to put on a clean bandage in his hurry to dress.
“Emily.” Faith pulled Emily’s hand down.
“No, it’s okay.” He leaned down slightly so that Emily could get a better look. “I probably scared the hell out you at the hospital.”
“It wasn’t this bad before.” She traced the ridged lines that stretched toward his eye. “I mean – these weren’t here.”
“They botched one of the surgeries.” Her mother said softly. “Instead of making it better – they made it worse.”
“They say they can fix it.” Bosco shrugged. “Another couple of surgeries with some new lady doctor my other lady doctor hooked me up with. Supposed to be one of the best.”
“Better be.” Faith told her. “The city’s paying for it, they better get someone who knows what they’re doing.”
Emily laid her cheek against his scarred one. “I love you, Uncle Bos.”
“I love you, too, you spoiled brat.” Over her shoulder, he met Faith’s eyes and had to blink back tears. “Now go on, get in the shower.”
“Okay, okay!” She took the clothes from her mother and headed for the bathroom.
“And save your mom some of the hot water.” He called after her.
“Why do you think I went first?” Bosco grinned at her.
Picking up the couch cushions, he tossed them on the floor before grabbing the handle of the hide-a-bed and pulling it up and out of the bottom of the couch.
“There really is a bed under there.” Faith helped him lock the legs in place to hold the bed up.
“Yep. Never used it.” The foam mattress looked thin. “Mikey slept on it a few times.”
“What’d he say about it?”
When Bosco didn’t answer, she busied herself straightening the thin mattress out. Sometimes she forgot that for Bosco it’d been only a few months since his brother’s death. For her, a year had passed, but she hadn’t mentioned it to him.
“Bos, do you have some sheets? Or a pillow?”
“Hmm?” He blinked and turned to look at her. “Uh, yeah, in the closet.”
She followed him to the bedroom, rapping her knuckles on the bathroom door as they went past. “Emily – you’re clean, now get out!”
“I’m washing my hair!”
“Just hurry up!”
“Family life.” Bosco opened up the closet door and took clean sheets and a blanket off the top shelf. “Now, I remember what I hated about it.”
“Tomorrow, we can go out and find a hotel – “ Faith backed up a step as he swung a pillow at her head.
“It is tomorrow, and no, you won’t.” He went to the bed and pulled the covers back. “I’m taking my pillow, it’s broke in like I like.”
“Fine. Put up with us girls then.”
“Ah, you’re nothin’.” Shrugging, he snatched up his pillow. “Ma and Pop – now there were some people you couldn’t live with.”
On his way back past the bathroom, Bosco pounded on the bathroom door with the practiced ease of thirteen years of experience at banging on hostile doors. “Get outta there! Save your mom some hot water!”
“Just a second! God!”
“Is she always this charming?”
“I haven’t had a hot shower in ages, Bos.” Faith took one side of the sheet and helped him make the bed. “Unless she’s not home. Otherwise, lukewarm is the best I can hope for.”
“She’s gonna have to learn to share. I don’t like cold showers.”
“Always got a girl to help you take care of that, right?” She grinned at him.
“Not lately. Not in a long time.”
“Whatever.” When his hand went to his cheek, she frowned. “Bosco – “
“What? It’s not that bad?” He came around the end of the bed. “Have you looked at it, Faith? Have you really looked?”
“I was there when you were shot, Bosco.” Touching her fingertips to the edges of the scar, she traced along the rough skin. “This is nothing. Your face was – destroyed – just meat and bone and blood.”
“Guess I’m an ungrateful SOB, huh?”
“No.” Faith shook her head and smiled sadly. “I remember when I was paralyzed and everybody kept telling me it didn’t matter because I was alive. And you know, I didn’t care. All I cared about was that I couldn’t walk.”
Following the edges of the scar with her fingers, she raised her eyes to meet his. “I can’t imagine looking in the mirror at this scar everyday and remembering that I’m supposed to be grateful I’m alive instead of saying oh my God, look at my face.”
“Some days…” He sighed. “Some days I just wish I’d died.”
“Don’t say that.”
“Other days it’s not so bad. Like today. Yesterday?” Bosco smiled as Emily stomped into the living room and sat down on the bed. “If I wasn’t around, who would’ve saved Miss Congeniality here?”
“I could’ve told you you’d regret that.” Faith ran a hand over Emily’s hair.
“Mom! It’s tangled enough!” Emily glared at her.
“Let me comb it out.”
“I can comb my own hair.”
“Emily – “
“Faith, go take a shower.” Bosco sat down next to Emily and pulled the comb out of her hand. “You, turn around.”
“I can comb – “ Emily saw the determined look on his face and turned around. “Fine.”
“Let’s see if I remember how to do this.” Dividing the tangled hair into sections, he began combing one of them out. “Ma used to have long hair and she got this perm once. She looked like she’d stuck her finger in a light socket. Me and Mikey had to help her comb it out every time she washed her hair.”
Faith watched Bosco carefully comb the rats and snarls out of Emily’s hair. Emily sat quietly, and Faith shook her head. If she was doing the combing, Emily would be whining and moaning.
Bosco caught Faith’s eye. They were fine and she should take her shower. She nodded and headed for the bathroom.
“I used to pretend we were a family.” He told Emily.
“Weren’t you a family?”
“The perfect family, I mean.” Carefully, he combed another section of tangled hair. “Me and Ma and Mikey were the perfect mom and kids. And we had the perfect father who was not there because he was probably at his perfect job.”
“I’ve pretended that, too.” She yawned. “One big happy TV family.”
“That’s the one. Mom and Dad and Tiger the dog.”
“You know, it’s weird wearing your boxers.”
“You think it’s weird?” He laughed softly. “I may need therapy.”
Bosco was on the last section of Emily’s hair when Faith called to him from the bathroom.
“Here, finish up. I’m gonna go see what your mom wants.” Handing the comb to her, he got up from the couch. “You decent in there?”
“Come on in.”
The bathroom door was open and Faith was standing with her back to the mirror, trying to look over her shoulder. She’d put on the sweat pants he’d given her, but was holding a towel over her bare breasts.
“Whoa!” Bosco put a hand over his face. “I thought you were dressed!”
“I’m covered, Bosco, grow up.” She twisted, trying to see her back in the mirror. “My back and shoulder hurt, and I can’t see anything.”
Concerned, he lowered his hand. “Turn around, let me see.”
There were several small bruises on her back, probably from debris thrown by the grenade. Only one looked serious, a softball sized mark below her shoulder blade that was already a dark purplish color. There was a shallow cut running across the bruised area.
“Looks like you took some shots to the back.” Bosco examined the cut carefully. It looked clean and wasn’t large enough to need stitches. “Let’s get a bandage on this cut.”
“There’s a cut?” Faith craned her head around, trying to look at the injury. “How bad?”
“Just a small one.” Pulling open one of the cabinet drawers, he took out a box of bandages. “Lucky for you, I’ve got plenty of bandages.”
“Is it – “ She bit back the rest of what she’d been about to say. Asking if it was ‘that big’ wouldn’t help Bosco’s ego. “Is it bad?”
“Nah.” Carefully, Bosco covered the cut with a clean bandage. “You’ve got almost twice as much as you need to cover it up.”
“I kept feeling something stinging when I was washing, but I couldn’t see anything.”
“Are you sore?” He ran his hand gently over Faith’s bruised back. “You look like someone hit you with a bunch of golf balls or something.”
“I’m a little stiff.” She admitted. “This thing comes flying through the window and then I see what it is. So, I turned to run and then the lockers were going over. It was crazy.”
“The lockers probably took most of the blast.” Remembering the smoke he’d seen billowing from the locker room, Bosco shuddered. “You need to pay better attention.”
Faith smiled, recognizing Bosco’s way of saying he was happy she was all right. “Yeah, I’ll try to do better the next time someone throws a grenade at me.”
Bosco turned and opened the medicine cabinet. “I’ve got everything from aspirin to Vicodin. Whatd'ya want?”
“Jesus, Bosco.” Her eyes widened at the display of drugs in the cabinet. “The doctors gave you all this stuff?”
“No, I bought it on the street corner.” He shot her a look over his shoulder. “Yes, they gave it to me. You know me and pills, I don’t like ‘em. So what'ya want?”
“I guess if you were hurting bad enough, you’d have taken ‘em.” Faith slipped the t-shirt over her head, letting the towel drop out from underneath. Years of changing in a crowded locker room had taught her the fine art of dressing without exposing herself. “I’m just a little stiff and sore, I don’t need anything major.”
“Take one of these.” Opening a bottle, he shook out a handful of white pills.
“What the hell is it?”
“Ibuprofen, eight hundred milligrams.” He arched an eyebrow. “What? You think I’m going to give you a mickey and then take advantage of you?”
‘It’s a perfectly reasonable question.”
“Whatever.” There was a glass next to the sink. Bosco filled it with cold water and handed it to her. “You can use my toothpaste glass, but just this once.”
“I’m honored beyond belief.” She swallowed the pill down and handed the glass back. Faith watched as he popped one of the pills into his mouth and took a drink to wash it down. “Are you okay?”
“My head hurts a little.”
“Let me see.” For Bosco to admit he hurt ‘a little’ probably meant that he had a pounding headache.
“It’s all right.”
“Bosco. Let me see. Now.”
That tone brought him to heel like it always did, and Bosco gave her one last defiant look before dropping his head.
“Where’d he hit you?”
“Back here.” He ran his hand over the back of his head.
“Let me see.” Faith slid her fingers through the still damp hair until she found a large lump. “Did they look at you? They didn’t take you to the hospital, did they?”
“It’s all right, I’m telling you.” Her warm fingers felt good, easing the throbbing a bit. “Carlos said it’d take more than a knock on the head for him to put up with me on the way to the hospital.”
“I guess you’re okay.” She put her fingers under Bosco’s chin and tipped his face up. The midnight blue eyes were clear and focused. He was clearly exhausted, but otherwise seemed fine. “That headache doesn’t get better though, you go to the doctor.”
“I’m all right already!” He insisted. “Can we just go to bed now?”
There was a moment of silence and Faith’s hazel eyes went wide.
“I didn’t mean it like that.”
She laughed. “You had me going there for a minute.”
“No, no!” When she frowned, he backed up a step. “Not that you’re not perfectly attractive! I’m just not your type!”
“Yeah, 'cos I have a brain. What?” Bosco hadn’t said what she thought he’d say. “You’re not my type?”
“Yeah, why? You know my type?” She put her hands on her hips. “So why?”
“Well, because…” He thought about it for a moment. “You need somebody who’s gonna take care of you when you need it and get the hell out of your way when you don’t. Somebody who knows you love being a cop and you’re not quitting. Somebody who’s gonna love Em and Charlie like they were his own. And they gotta love you enough to put up with me.”
“And you don’t think that you can do all that?” A smile quirked her lips. Bosco had described himself pretty well.
“Nah.” He grinned at her. “I can’t put up with me.”
“Always the smart ass.”
“Why change now?”
In the living room, they found Emily had fallen asleep on the sofa bed.
“Poor baby, she’s been up for like two days.” Faith smoothed Emily’s hair back from her face.
“She’s been through a lot.” Bosco eased his arms under Emily and lifted her from the couch.
Following him to the bedroom, Faith pulled the covers back far enough for him to lay Emily on the bed.
As he straightened, he swayed and grabbed at the headboard for support.
“You okay?” Concerned, she moved closer. “Your face just went white as a sheet.”
“I’m just tired.”
“I’ve been up since yesterday morning and you’ve been up since the night before that.” Faith slipped her arm around his waist, letting Bosco lean on her. “Add in a knock to the head and a couple of explosions – you’re probably running on empty.”
“You forgot the booze.” He laid his arm around her shoulders, knowing he wasn’t going to make it back to the living room on his own.
“I was giving you the benefit of the doubt there.”
“Nah, I’m a cheap drunk.”
His strength seemed to have drained out suddenly, as if someone had pulled the plug, and Bosco found himself leaning heavily on Faith as they walked back to the living room.
It reminded her of when Bosco had started learning to walk again. He’d been so weak after the months spent in a coma that she was the only thing that kept him on his feet in the beginning.
Bosco hadn’t trusted the physical therapists and refused to work with them. He’d wait every day until she came to visit to practice walking.
“Did I ever tell you how good it made me feel that you wanted me there to help you walk?”
“Well it did.”
“It made me feel good, too. Having someone I trust – I knew you wouldn’t let me fall, Faith.” Bosco chuckled. “Guess all those times you said I was over protective paid off, huh?”
“Guess so.” She laughed with him.
“I should’ve been around to help you back on your feet.”
“I told you to stay away, Bos.” When she’d been relearning how to walk after being temporarily paralyzed, she had always been afraid that Fred would let her fall. He never had, but there’d always been the nagging fear that he would.
Even with the physical therapists, that same fear had been a constant companion for her. “You don’t know how many times I had to remind myself that I didn’t want you around anymore. ‘Cos I’d start wishing you were there to help me and I’d have to remember you weren’t a part of my life anymore.”
“So how come you came back to me?” He turned to look at her as they reached the couch. “I don’t know if I ever really understood why.”
“I don’t know, Bos.” She shrugged. “Part of it was wanting everything to be like it had been before, you know? And part of it was to show Cruz that you were mine. That you were my partner. That I’d won.”
“That never changed, Faith. I was always your partner. I was just thinking with my dick, I guess.”
“There was something she gave you – not the sex – that I – “ Faith looked away, embarrassed by how she’d acted. “I don’t know – it just scared me.”
“I’ve missed you.” He said softly.
“I’ve missed you, too.”
There was a sheen of tears in the hazel eyes and Bosco felt tears of his own begin to sting. He pulled her to him, wrapping her in his arms and lying his cheek against hers.
They’d never been overly physical with each other – the occasional brush of shoulders or pat on the back seemed to be enough. Ironically, the rare times they’d held each other had been when one of them was injured.
Faith remembered clinging to Bosco as he crouched over her and called for help when she’d been beaten by a pipe wielding perp in the subway station. When Bosco had been shot with his own gun, she’d run her hands under the vest and his shirt searching his body for wounds, and then had held him in her arms as they waited for help to arrive.
The hug Bosco had given her outside the hospital the day he’d been released had been the first real hug they’d shared. And it had been so quick that she had barely been able to return it.
Now Faith let her arms go around him. One hand went to the soft hair at the nape of his neck while the other rubbed up and down his back.
During his long recovery, they’d grown closer, touching more often, even holding hands at times when Bosco was dealing with the pain and frustration of his injuries. Their bond had become stronger and Faith had begun to think there was a shift in their relationship.
Unfortunately, she’d never gotten the chance to find out. Bosco’s vision problem and how badly she’d handled the situation had torn down that new level of feeling and very nearly destroyed their friendship in the process.
She hugged him tightly and smiled as he returned the hug.
Bosco pulled back so that he could look into her eyes. He’d waited until he was out of the hospital and on his feet again for a chance to tell Faith how he felt about her. Then he’d nearly screwed it all up. Now, he wasn’t sure how to say it. “Faith, I – I mean – well – “
He was struggling to get something out, and Faith could see that it was important. A smile curved her lips as she read the message that was so clear in his eyes. “I know.” She nodded. “Me, too.”
“We’re good.” He nodded with her. “I want us to always be good.”
“We will, Bos.” She brushed her lips softly over his, daring to kiss him for the first time. “Tomorrow we can maybe see – where we are, you know?”
Bosco laughed. “It is tomorrow.”
“Later tomorrow.” With one last squeeze, she let go of him. “Get some sleep. I want a fully alert Bosco to talk to.”
“You’re out of luck then. When have I ever been fully alert?”
Pulling back the blanket, he looked at the bed. “He was usually stoned or hungover. Or both.”
“At least he had a safe place to sleep.”
“I tried so hard, Faith.” He shook his head. “And I never could make him see. I even locked him up. My own brother – I threw him in prison. And he still never got it.”
“He was a grown man, Bosco. Mikey made his own decisions and there was nothing you could do about that.”
“I know.” Lying down, Bosco pulled the blanket up. “I tell myself that, you know?”
“He was doing good things before he died.” She held out a hand to him and when he took it, she squeezed gently. “That’s got to matter for something, right?”
“Yeah.” Squeezing her hand in return, he smiled sadly. “Me and Mikey were talking and getting along real well like we used to.”
“The two of you made peace with each other. That’s what you’ve got to think about, Bosco. Hold on to that.”
“I’ll try.” He let go of her hand. “Go on, go to bed.”
Watching her walk away, Bosco sighed contentedly. No matter what, at least the one good thing in his life was still in his life.
Faith woke slowly, looking around the strange room in confusion until she remembered she wasn’t in her own bed.
A mop of brown curls tickled her chin and she smoothed them back to uncover Emily’s face. She smiled at how Emily was clinging to her with her head resting on her shoulder. How many years had passed since she’d held her daughter like this?
There was someone lying against her back and Faith craned her head to see who it was. Couldn’t be Charlie, he was with Fred. Couldn’t be Fred because this wasn’t a nightmare.
All she could see was dark auburn hair and a man’s arm above the blankets. She’d seen those arms before – Bosco. He must have gotten up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and automatically gone back to his bed.
Emily stirred against her. “Do I have to go to school?”
“No.” Glancing out the window, Faith couldn’t tell if it was dawn or sunset. Who knew how long they’d slept? “I’ll write you a note.”
Her back ached and she shifted, trying to ease it. Behind her, Bosco grunted in his sleep and threw his arm over her waist, holding her still.
“Mom.” Emily followed the hand that was resting on her mother’s stomach back up the arm to the man it belonged to. “Mom, Uncle Bosco is in bed with us.”
“I know, baby. It’s okay.” Actually, he’d turned so that he was breathing on her neck and giving her goose bumps. “It’s not like he’s some weirdo.”
“Shows what you know.” Bosco reached out to pat Emily’s shoulder. “Morning, kid.”
“How’s your head?” Faith asked.
“Doesn’t hurt anymore.” He snuggled against Faith’s back. “This is nice.”
“Yeah.” She watched Bosco rub his hand up and down Emily’s shoulder.
“It’s like we’re the perfect family. Got the perfect kid, the perfect wife, and I’m the perfect dad.” Sighing into her hair, he patted Emily’s shoulder again. “All with the perfect life. How about we just lay here forever being perfect?”
“Sounds good to me.” She was still tired and sore, and a little more sleep was just… well, perfect.
“So much for her being the perfect kid.” Faith laughed.
“The perfect mom would get up and make the perfect breakfast.” Emily countered.
“She’s got you there, Faith.”
“So how perfect was the sofa?” She elbowed him playfully. “What this perfect mom is going to do is say get me my purse and I’ll give you some money to go get us something to eat.”
“That’ll work.” Emily sat up. “Where’s your purse?”
“Over on the dresser where it – “ Faith frowned. It wasn’t on the dresser where it should be. Then she remembered they weren’t home. “Oh, uh… look in the living room.”
Emily came back empty handed a few moments later. “It’s not in there.”
“Where the hell did I put it?” She sat up. “Where’s my purse?”
“I don’t remember you having it.” Emily shrugged. “Mine’s at home.”
“Oh my God.” Raking a hand through her hair, Faith tried to think where she could have left her purse. “In the car, maybe?”
“Think, Faith, you’re a cop.” Bosco propped himself up on his elbow. “Where is the last place you remember having it?”
“You know I hate this game, Bosco.” She glared at him. “If I knew where the last place was – I’d know where it is!”
“Exactly. Now when is the last time you remember having it in your hands?”
“Oh, jeez…” Closing her eyes, Faith tried to visualize holding her purse. As annoying as Bosco’s method was, it generally worked. Which annoyed her that much more. “I got out of the car and went inside. Then I put it in my locker.”
Opening her eyes, she looked down at Bosco. “It’s in my locker.”
“Then it’s toast. Case solved.” Laughing, he flopped back down on the bed.
“Bosco! It isn’t funny! My money, my stuff – my new credit card – not my new credit card.” She put her hands over her face. “I just got my first credit card.”
“What the hell are you whining about? You’ve got credit cards, I’ve been hearing you bitch about the bills for years.”
“Yeah, and those turned out to be Fred’s somehow.” Leaning back against the headboard, Faith frowned. “Never mind that I made the money and that I’m the one who filled out the damn applications! His name ended up first and they’re his!”
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but weren’t they maxed out and always behind anyway?” Bosco snickered. “So didn’t he get the bills, too?”
“That’s beside the point.” It still irked her that Fred had ended up with things she’d busted her ass to pay for. “My credit was so screwed up, I had to get a secured card. My first card of my very own and it’s gone!”
“Shut up your whining.” He elbowed her. “Tomorrow you call them and tell them you need a new card. We just got paid yesterday – day before yesterday? Anyway, so it’s not like you don’t have any money.”
“So… I’m not getting breakfast?” Emily interrupted. “I’ll just go fry some eggs or something.”
“Good luck with that.” Bosco told her. “If you find anything other than beer and week old pizza, I’ll lend you my gun to shoot it with.”
“Great.” She pouted. “So I guess that means you don’t have the perfect kitchen?”
“I can get some money from – crap!” Faith covered her face again. “My debit card is gone, too.”
“And you can call the bank. Don’t you have checks?” Bosco propped himself up on his elbow again. “We’ll go to your place later and you can grab them. You and Em need some clothes anyway. Fashions by Maurice are only gonna get you so far.”
“Do I have to go?” Emily asked quietly. “I really don’t want to.”
“No, honey, you don’t have to go.” Faith held her arms out and Emily crawled up onto the bed for a hug. “You can stay here, me and Bosco will go.”
“You can stay here as long as you want, kid.” Bosco rubbed a hand up and down her back. “My place is yours.”
“Just don’t use his toothpaste glass.”
“She can use it.” He smiled at Faith. “I only share with certain people.”
“No offense, Uncle Bos.” Emily made a face. “But I don’t want to use your toothpaste glass. I mean… yuck.”
Faith laughed as Bosco heaved a dramatic sigh. “Story of my life. Nobody wants to share my toothpaste glass.”
“Hey, I shared.” She reminded him. “What am I, chopped liver?”
“Don’t talk about food. I’m still hungry.” Emily complained.
“Get my wallet – I’ll give you some money.” Bosco told her.
“Where is it?” She sat up again.
“In my pants. Over there in front of the dresser somewhere.”
Faith shook her head as Emily went to get Bosco’s wallet. “You see how perfect she is? Mention money and she’s off like a shot.”
“She’s a woman.” He lay back down, grinning at the indignant look she gave him.
Emily held out Bosco’s wallet to her mother. Faith tried to hand it to him, but he waved it away. “Just give her some money.”
“You sure?” She’d known Bosco for a long time, but she’d never gotten into his wallet. Not even when he was in the hospital for months. “You don’t have a condom in here do you?”
“Mom, guys don’t carry condoms in their wallets. The heat breaks down the latex and they can break – “ Emily stopped.
Faith and Bosco stared at her, completely speechless.
“Or… so I’ve heard.” She gave them a weak smile.
“We’ll talk about what you know about condoms later, young lady.” Faith pulled a twenty out of the wallet and handed it to her. “You know where the diner is down the street?”
“The one we went to a zillion times while Uncle Bos was getting better?” She took the money. “No, gee, I forgot where it was.”
“Just tell them you want the usual for Bosco and Yokas.” She ignored the sarcasm with years of practice. “They’ll know what we want.”
“Um… what am I going to wear?” Tugging on the front of her borrowed t-shirt, Emily made a face.
“Help yourself to whatever’s in the closet.” Bosco told her. “But I don’t think any of my jeans are going to fit.”
“Put your jeans back on, Em, and get a clean shirt. Faith wasn’t looking forward to putting her sooty and smelly clothes back on either. Then again, she could probably wear a pair of Bosco’s jeans if she had to.
“All right, I’m outta here.” Emily grabbed a shirt from the closet and headed for the bathroom to change.
“And tip the waitress!” He called after her. “They take good care of me!”
“They have to, you never cook.” There were pictures in his wallet and Faith began flipping through them. “Hey, here’s Em and Charlie.”
“Hey, you can have my money – but quit digging through my wallet.”
He reached for the wallet and she pulled it back. “I’m just looking at the pictures, relax.”
There were several pictures of Emily and Charlie from different school years. She didn’t realize that Bosco had even saved the pictures she’d given him, let alone carried them around with him.
Next to Charlie’s grade school graduation picture was an old black and white picture of a very young Rose with two little boys, and she blinked back tears at how innocent Bosco and Mikey looked.
The last pictures made her smile. Bosco’s official NYPD graduation picture and hers were tucked on one side while their unofficial picture was on the other.
“God, we were such babies.” Faith shook her head at how young they looked. Thirteen years ago? It looked more like fifty. “Can I get a copy? Mine was in my locker.”
“Mom’s got the negatives. She took a crapload of pictures that night.”
“I remember.” She laughed at the memory. “Mom was like ‘who is that woman and why is she taking our picture?’”
“She’s got a couple of albums full of pictures from when we graduated.” Bosco yawned suddenly. “I’m gonna go back to sleep.”
“Me too.” Closing his wallet, she laid it on the bedside table.
“This is okay, right? Or do you want me to go back to the couch?”
The look on his face was pitiful and Faith had to smile. “No, this is okay. We probably need to get a more comfortable mattress or something for the couch though.”
“I can get one of those rollaway beds.” He yawned again. “I think the super’s got a few stashed away.”
Faith scooted down to lay beside him again. “You really don’t mind us staying here?”
She watched as Bosco’s eyes closed. “This is almost like hiding and ducking calls.”
“Mmm… except no noisy radio to wake us up.”
“Yeah. And it’s a hell of a lot more comfortable.”
“Shh…” Reaching out, he found her hand. “Go to sleep.”
The last few days had been long and hard, and Faith found herself drifting off. she squeezed Bosco’s hand. No matter what, at least one of the good things in her life was still in her life.
Emily paused just inside the bedroom doorway. Her mom and Bosco were cuddled up together in the middle of the bed as if they’d been sleeping together for years. Her mom’s head was on his shoulder and Bosco had his leg thrown over hers.
Decisions, decisions. She could go back to the kitchen and wait for them to wake up. Or go ahead and wake them up. They look so cute!
Opting to let them sleep, Emily turned to leave. A floorboard creaked under foot and she winced.
“Hey, Mom.” Turning back, she smiled at her mom. “The food’s in the kitchen whenever you’re hungry.”
“I’m hungry now. I could eat a horse.” Faith rubbed at her eyes. “Bos? Bosco?”
“Mmm?” He snuggled closer. “Let Sully take this one…”
“Em brought back breakfast. You hungry?”
Bosco was lying half on top of her, Faith realized suddenly. When the hell had that happened? She glared at Emily. Why hadn’t she said something? “Go find some plates.”
“Yes, ma’am. Take your time.”
Ignoring her daughter’s giggle, she patted the leg Bosco had thrown across hers. “Hey, you want to get up and eat?”
“Later.” Bosco rubbed his cheek against the top of her head. “This is nice… ‘jus wanna lay here.”
“It is nice.” She ran a hand up his side. “Safe, you know?”
“Um… hmm… Safe with me…”
Faith moved her hand down to slide over his stomach and chest. Beneath the thin t-shirt she could feel the scars. Safe and comfortable. With Bosco she’d always felt protected and secure, and free to be herself.
“When you get that rollaway bed – it’ll probably be comfortable enough for Emily, don’t you think?”
There was no answer from Bosco and Faith closed her eyes again, thinking he’d gone back to sleep. Or didn’t wanting to answer her rather stupid suggestion.
“You don’t think she’ll mind?”
Or maybe he’d just been thinking it over? “I don’t think so. I think she’ll be okay with it.”
“Are you gonna be okay with it?”
Tipping her head back, Faith found herself looking into the midnight blue eyes. “Yeah. I mean, I think. Yeah. It’s not like we haven’t slept together before anyway, right.”
“Really?” His eyebrows went up. “Did you take advantage of me while I was in a coma?”
“Don’t you wish. I meant in the squad – all the times we hid out and caught a nap.”
“Guess Fred was right then.” He grinned. “We were sleeping together the whole time.”
“I’m pretty sure he meant it a whole other way.” She chewed on her lip for a moment. “You know?”
“Let’s start with sleeping.” Bosco brushed his lips over hers the same as she’d done the night before. He knew what she was asking and he wanted to be sure she was comfortable with where they seemed to be headed next.
“Figure it out as we go?”
“For now, you go eat.” He closed his eyes again. “I’m going back to sleep.”
Faith eased out of bed, pulling the covers back up over Bosco. “I’ll get you up in a bit so we can go to my place.”
“I can go get some stuff for you and Em. You can stay here with her if you want.”
“I can’t ask you to do that, Bosco.”
“Faith, it’s a mess. Blood and brains all over the carpet – and there’s a hole in the wall – more blood.” Opening his eyes again, he grimaced at her. “I made a real mess. You don’t want to see.”
“That’s all right, it’ll come clean. Somehow. Besides, you’d never find my checkbook.” She smiled. “Too many years of being a cop’s made me paranoid, you know? Everything’s hidden away.”
“I should know where your stuff is, just in case.” The midnight blue eyes were serious. “There’s a box on the shelf in the closet – my will and everything is in there.”
“Your will?” When Bosco had been in a coma, she’d practically ransacked his apartment to locate his checkbook and his bills. She’d never found a will.
“After I got out of the hospital, I had one made up. I got more insurance – I want to be sure Ma’s taken care of.”
“Your mom would be all right.” That was a lie, Rose had nearly collapsed under the weight of Mikey’s death and Bosco’s near fatal injuries, but Faith didn’t want to tell him that. “You know, I’d help her out, she’d be fine.”
“Yeah, I’m kinda counting on it.” Bosco reached up to take her hand, running his thumb over her knuckles. “I got it all set up so you handle things. There’s a trust fund for Ma, so she can’t spend all the money or give it to my father – I’m sure the son of a bitch would come sniffing around after it.”
“You know he would.” Faith’s mouth twisted up in distaste. Anthony had shown up a few times to bother Rose about any money she might have gotten when Mikey had died. When he found out there wasn’t any, that was the last they’d seen of him.
“I’m sorry to dump it all on you, Faith – but I don’t have anybody else.”
“You don’t need anybody else, Bos.” She squeezed his hand. “I’m your partner, remember? I’ll take care of things for your mother the way I know you’d take care of Emily and Charlie if something happened to me.”
“Everything I got is yours – except my car. Charlie gets my car when he’s old enough.” He smiled and winked. “A boy needs a car.”
“You need your car. We’ll find Charlie his own car.” Squeezing his hand again, she let go and ran a hand over his hair. “Go back to sleep. I’ll get you up in a couple of hours, okay?”
“Sounds good.” Bosco closed his eyes and curled back up in the blankets.
Faith was almost to the door when she thought she heard her name. Turning, she listened carefully.
“I love you.”
The soft, whispered confession made her smile and her heart took a funny skip. “I love you, Bos.”
“’M happy, Faith. ‘M really happy.”
She paused in the doorway for one last look. Bosco was already asleep, a peaceful smile on his face. “Me too.”
Faith sat down at the small kitchen table and opened the Styrofoam container with her name on it. The scrambled eggs were cold, but still edible.
“I’d have put it on a plate and heated it back up, but I figured you and Uncle Bosco would take longer.” Emily took a bite of sausage. “Doesn’t it… take longer… when you get older?”
“I’m not sure how to answer that.” She was being led across ground she didn’t want to think about when it came to her daughter. How the hell would Emily know how long it takes? “Bosco’s going to sleep a couple more hours and then we’ll go get some clothes and stuff.”
“I get to stay here, right?”
“You can stay here, baby.” Faith reached across the table and patted Emily’s hand. “You can go through the kitchen and see what groceries we’re going to need. Let’s face it, Bosco’s idea of supplies is salt for his microwave popcorn.”
“True.” There’d been a definite lack of food in the cabinets and the refrigerator when she’d checked earlier. “Call me before you come back and I can give you a list.”
“Bosco’s going to get a rollaway bed from the super.” Looking at her breakfast, Faith speared a mushroom lurking in her scrambled eggs. “Do you think it’ll be comfortable enough to sleep on?”
Emily watched as her mother stabbed at her food. “You know, he’s got another room, with weights and stuff. I was thinking I could maybe sleep in there and have a little more privacy.”
“Yeah, I think it was another bedroom anyway.” Faith looked up at Emily. “So… you’d be okay with sleeping in there? And uh… me sleeping with Bosco?”
“Mom – “ She put her fork down. “So long as the two of you don’t get really loud – I don’t care.”
“We’re not going to get loud – not for awhile anyway. I don’t think – “ Her face went hot. “I don’t think there’s going to be any sex for awhile.”
“Why not?” A giggle escaped her. “You’re both old enough. Do I need to buy you some condoms?”
“I’m sure Bosco has some – “ Looking away, Faith wondered how she had ended up talking to her daughter about her sex life or the lack of it. “We’re gonna just sleep at first I think. Get comfortable with each other.”
Emily raised her eyebrows. “I’d say that’s weird. But you two are always weird, so I think that makes this almost normal.”
“I’m sure it’s not normal.” A chuckle escaped her. “But it’s what we’re doing. We’ve been through a lot, Em. I don’t want to screw this up, you know?”
“I know.” It was her turn to reach across the table and pat her mother’s hand. “You know, I thought you guys were going to get together when he got out of the hospital. I mean, you guys were really getting close.”
“Me too.” A wistful smile crossed her face. “He kept saying ‘once I’m back on my feet, I’m going to make some changes in my life’ and I kinda figured that meant maybe we were going to be the change, you know? Then I screwed it up so bad.”
“I know you guys were fighting, but I never did find out what about.” She shuddered. “I was too busy hanging out with the vamp boy.”
“It’s not like you knew he was a Sagittarius.” Faith laughed, remembering Sully’s deliberate mispronunciation of Dante’s lifestyle. “I’d tell you, baby, but it’s a long story.”
“So? Just start at the beginning.”
“The beginning?” A memory came to her and she smiled. “I was standing in front of the Police Academy – scared as hell – and this guy comes up and asks me if I’m a mother. I said yes, he walks off, and I told him he looked like a jackass. Little did I know.”
“Sounds like Uncle Bos.” Emily leaned her elbows on the table, breakfast forgotten.
Time had passed quickly, and Faith had told Emily everything about the years she’d spent with Bosco, from his offer to cheat for her on the shooting range up to their talk in the locker room right before the explosions. Almost everything – she’d left out leaving a gang leader to die at the hands of a rival gang and how she’d shot Mann in cold blood.
Virtually everything else had been shared. Her not telling Bosco about her cancer treatment and getting him shot, helping him ditch the evidence when he robbed the men who’d tried to rob him, and how she hadn’t believed him when he’d told her he’d re-qualified on his own.
Emily had told her how stupid she’d been not to help him, and she was right. Faith had agreed. It wasn’t like she hadn’t kicked herself in the ass for that a million times already. Standing in the doorway to the bedroom, she smiled at how peacefully Bosco was sleeping.
When he’d been in the hospital, she’d sat with him and watched him sleep for hours, mesmerized by the slow rise and fall of his chest. Faith frowned. She couldn’t see his chest moving. “Must be the blankets.”
Walking into the room, she called out to him. “Bosco, time to get up.”
He didn’t stir and she stared at his chest. It didn’t seem to be moving. “Bosco?”
Fear strangled her, and Faith found herself moving slower and slower as she neared the bed. “Bosco? Bosco wake up.”
There was no answer, no movement from him and she sat down on the edge of the bed next to him. Bosco’s chest wasn’t moving and there were no soft, steady breath sounds from him. Carefully, she laid her fingers against his throat where his pulse should be.
His skin was cool and tears sprang to her eyes. Under her fingers there was no reassuring, throbbing pulse. “Bosco? Bosco, don’t do this to me!”
Leaning down, Faith laid her head against his chest. Nothing. No heartbeat. “Bosco! Damn it!”
“Mom? What’s wrong?”
“Emily – “ She sat up, unsure of what to do.
“Mom? What’s wrong with him?” Emily rushed to the bed. “Uncle Bos?”
“He’s – he’s not breathing.”
“Oh my God – wake up!” She shook his arm. “Mom – do something!”
“Baby, he’s gone.” Faith shook her head. “There’s nothing to do.”
“Give him CPR – mouth to mouth – do something!” Turning to her mother, Emily grabbed her arms. “Make him breathe!”
“Emily, baby – he’s gone – “ She took one of Emily’s hands and laid it on Bosco’s face. “Feel – he’s gone. He’s been gone for awhile. It’s too late.”
“No! Mom!” His skin was cold and Emily pulled her hand back. “It’s not fair!”
“Then do something!” Sobs tore from her.
“There’s nothing to do, Emily!” Grabbing her daughter, Faith pulled her close. “There’s nothing we can do!”
“There has to be – he can’t die, Momma – “
“Emily, go call 911.” Sitting back, she wiped at the tears on Emily’s cheeks. “Can you do that? Go call 911 for me.”
“What do I say?” She looked back down at Bosco. “I don’t know what to tell them.”
“Tell them where we are. Tell them that your mom is a member of the services and tell them we need a bus and a unit – “ Faith swallowed hard. “Tell them that we have a – a deceased member of the services.”
“I don’t know – I can’t say all that.” The tears wouldn’t stop and Emily pressed a hand to her chest. “It hurts – “
“I know, honey.” Looking at Bosco, at the peaceful smile on his face, Faith felt a measure of peace settle over her. “Bring me the phone and I’ll call.”
If the 911 operator thought it odd for her to be so calm, she didn’t say anything, merely assuring her that a bus and units would be arriving forthwith.
Faith set the phone down and held Emily against her side, rocking her as she cried. Her free hand stroked Bosco’s hair, combing out the small tangles and snarls until it was smooth.
A strong knocking at the front door roused her and she eased away from Emily. “Baby, go open the door.”
“I don’t want to – ” Emily sobbed. “I don’t want it to be real – “
The knocking became a pounding and she gave Emily a gentle nudge. “Go let them in – we have to.”
Emily got up and left the room, crying as she went. Moments later paramedics rushed into the room and Faith was startled to see Carlos and Holly. “Didn’t you guys go home?”
“Been home, slept, and back to work.” Carlos sat down on the other side of the bed. “No replacements.”
Holly opened her bag and handed Carlos a stethoscope. “He looks so peaceful.”
“Yeah.” Faith looked back down at Bosco. “He said he was happy.”
“Were you here when he – “ Carlos bit back the word. “Were you here?”
“No. Emily and I were eating breakfast and talking.” She frowned as Carlos cut Bosco’s t-shirt down the middle. “He was tired – he’d been up longer than we had, so I let him sleep a little longer.”
“No sign of distress?” Bosco was cool – almost cold to the touch, and Carlos knew it was too late for them to do anything. He put the sensors on Bosco’s chest anyway, looking up at the flatlines on the machine and shaking his head. “There’s nothing – I’m sorry, Faith.”
“I know, it’s okay.” A laugh from Holly made her look up. “You think this is funny?”
“No, oh no, it’s just that he looks so at peace – it’s so beautiful.” She smiled at Faith. “When I die, I hope that I look just like this.”
“Yeah, only very, very old.” Carlos checked again for a pulse or breath sounds before pulling the sensors back off of Bosco’s chest and closing the shirt up. “We’re going to have to call the coroner in, I’m sorry.”
“I don’t want him in that wagon.” Faith shook her head. “It always scared him. I want you guys to take him in.”
“That’s against policy.” He looked up at Holly for support and found none. Of course not, she was a chick. “If we can get someone to okay it – I’m all for it – maybe we can sneak him out?”
She looked up to see Sully standing in the doorway. He was dressed in street clothes. “Sully? What are you doing here?”
“I was down at the house, looking at the damage when the call came in.” He moved over to the bed and laid a hand on her shoulder. “You okay?”
“I’m okay. Um… Bosco was asleep… he just didn’t wake up.” Tears burned her eyes for the first time. “But he was happy – he told me.”
“Everything’s going to be okay.” He squeezed her shoulder. “Lieu is on his way, a couple guys went to get him. I’m going to go sit with Emily, all right? Will you be okay?”
“I’m going to be fine.” Reaching up, Faith covered his hand with her own. “Please, stay with Emily, will you? She’s upset and – I don’t – “
“Don’t you worry. I’ll stick with her.” When she turned back to Bosco, Sully headed back into the living room, nodding to the officer guarding the bedroom door.
Lieutenant Swersky was coming in the front door just as Sully sat on the couch next to Emily. “Lieu, in the bedroom, it’s Bosco.”
“Bosco? He was fine – he – “ Looking down at Emily, he shook his head. “Faith is back there?”
“Yeah.” Sully put his arm around Emily and pulled her against his side. “It’s gonna be okay, kid. I don’t know how, but it’s gonna be okay.” Crap!
“Take care of her, Sul.” Swersky looked around and then headed down the hallway. At the end, an officer stood guarding a doorway. “He’s in here?”
In the bedroom, he spotted Faith sitting on the bed next to Bosco. The paramedics were packing their equipment up quietly, Clearly, they’d finished doing whatever it was they’d been able to do.
Sitting on the edge of the bed next to her, Swersky laid a hand on her shoulder. “Faith, are you all right?”
He was struck by how calm she was. Considering her mental state when Bosco had been shot, he’d figured Faith would be a complete basket case. Instead she was sitting quietly, running her fingers through Bosco’s hair.
“What happened?” He looked at Carlos. “What happened to him?”
“No trauma that I can see, sir.” Carlos shrugged. “She said he was okay and she left him sleeping. When she came back a few hours later, he was like this.”
“What about that knock to the head yesterday – day before yesterday?” The last few days had been completely crazy, and he’d lost track of what day it was. “Bosco didn’t go to the hospital, did he?”
“He refused to go.” Holly told him. “But he was fine, if he’d been out of it or we’d thought he was in danger, we would have taken him to Mercy.”
“We figured Faith would make him go later.” Carlos added. “But then things got really – crazy – and I guess they didn’t go.”
“Oh my God, is this our fault?” Holly’s hands went to her mouth.
“No, no – don’t think that.” Faith shook her head. “He was fine, he had a headache but I didn’t think he needed to go the hospital – and it was gone when he woke up this morning.”
“Boss.” A voice called from the doorway. “The coroner is here.”
“I don’t want Bosco in the meat wagon!” Faith clutched at Swersky’s arm. “Please, Lieu – you know he was scared of it!”
“We can take him in the bus.” Carlos offered. “If you okay it, we can take him down there. I’d be – Bosco was kind of a friend – I mean he was a friend – so I’d like to.”
“He was a really, really nice guy.” Holly nodded. When both men turned to look at her, she frowned at them. “Well he was, if you’d seen his aura, you’d know.”
“She’s ah… she’s… “ There was no way to tell him how crazy Holly was, so Carlos shrugged. “Very perceptive.”
“I can see that.” Swersky looked over his shoulder at the officer who’d come in. “Tell them we don’t need them, we’re taking him to Mercy.”
“Yes, sir.” The officer left the bedroom.
“Why was he scared of the meat – the coroner’s van?” Carlos was curious, Bosco didn’t seem like a guy scared of anything. There was that one time in the dark, but the dark was pretty scary anyway. Plus the dead guy and the rats.
“Once, on a dare, Bosco rode with a body in the meat wagon.” Faith stroked her hand over Bosco’s hair once again. “The body kept twitching – some kind of weird thing they do sometimes – and freaked him out. He always said ‘don’t let them take me away in the meat wagon’ and I promised him I wouldn’t.”
“And you’re going to keep that promise.” Swersky glanced down at Bosco. He looked as if he were sleeping. “He’s smiling – Faith, I don’t think he felt anything. He didn’t suffer.”
“He told me he was happy.” She smiled and blinked back tears. “The last thing he said to me was he was happy.”
“Faith, we’re going to have to put him in – in a bag.” Carlos flinched as Faith raised her head and glared at him. “We gotta, you know?”
“I know. I just hate – “ Looking back down at Bosco, she shook her head. “I just hate to think of him in one.”
“You’ll be there with him.” Holly reached across Bosco and laid a hand on her arm. “Besides, his spirit isn’t here anymore, so it’s okay.”
“He’s in heaven – I think he’s in heaven – “ Faith looked to Swersky. “Bosco was good – “
“He was, Faith.” Putting an arm around her shoulders, he hugged her. “Bosco was a pain in the ass, but he was a good man – a good cop.”
“What have we got here?” The coroner asked as he came in. “Like it or not, I have to look at him.”
“Just make it quick, would ya?” Swersky looked up at him, trying to make the man understand. “His family would like to take him in.”
“I understand, Lieutenant.” The man knelt next to Bosco and quickly looked him over, flinching when he turned Bosco’s head and exposed the scarred cheek. “No sign of trauma, let me sign off and you can take him to the hospital.”
“Holly, there’s bandages in the bag – “ Carlos pointed at his bag. “I don’t think he’d want everybody seeing that. He was keeping it covered up, right?”
“Yeah. Bosco didn’t like people staring.” Faith watched as Carlos carefully put a flesh colored bandage over the scar. “He said people would wonder about the bandage, but at least they weren’t scared of him.”
When Carlos and Holly unfolded the body bag, Faith buried her face in Swersky’s shoulder. She couldn’t watch them put Bosco in and close it up around him.
“Has anyone called his mother?” Swersky asked gently.
“Oh my God, Rose – “ She moaned softly. “No, oh my God – how do I tell her?”
“You don’t – that’s my job.” He rubbed a hand up and down her back. “That’s one burden that falls to me.”
“I can’t not be there for her – I promised Bosco I’d look after her if anything happened to him.”
“And you’ll be there.” As Bosco’s body was lifted onto the stretcher, Swersky sat back and wiped the tears from Faith’s cheeks. “Get dressed, and we’ll go talk to her.”
“I have to ride with Bosco.” She looked at the black bag holding his body. “I can’t just leave him – “
“We’ll take him to Mercy, and then we’ll go see his mother.” A few more minutes wouldn’t hurt anything. “Get dressed and we’ll leave, all right?”
“I don’t have any clothes.” A hysterical laugh broke from her and she clapped her hand over her mouth.
“Let’s see what we can find, okay?” Holly walked to the dresser and began opening drawers. “Here’s some jeans, let’s see what we can do with these.”
She turned and made shooing motions. “No men! Out!”
“Ah… do you want me to…” Carlos motioned at the stretcher. “Take him…”
“I think it’s okay if he stays.” Holly rolled her eyes. “I mean where he is now, he can see if he wants to.”
Faith took the jeans from Holly and laid them on the bed while she slipped out of the sweat pants she’d worn to bed. She looked down at the black boxers she was wearing. “We didn’t have any clothes.”
“I think they’re cute.” Holly smiled at her. “I wear Carlos’ sometimes. Freaks him out.”
“On the back of the closet door – there’s belts hanging there.” The jeans were loose around the waist but snug across her butt. “I can hear Bosco joking about me getting into his pants.”
“Really? Is he laughing?” Cocking her head to one side, Holly listened. “Oh… you meant…okay, here’s a belt.”
“He probably is.” She threaded the belts through the loops. Looking at the NYPD sweatshirt she was wearing, Faith decided not to change. “I think my shoes are in the living room.”
“I’ll have Carlos get them.”
Getting a clean pair of socks from the dresser, Faith sat down and put them on while Holly opened the door and talked to Carlos. “You said everything you have is mine, Bosco. I’m taking you at your word here.”
Her shoes on and everything ready to go, Faith followed the stretcher out into the hallway. In Bosco’s living room, she stopped, startled as she saw how many people were there. A good portion of the 55th precinct was crowded inside.
“Thank you.” She held a hand out to Emily and curled her arm around her daughter, holding her to her side. “I – thank you.”
“He’s family, Faith.” Sasha came forward and hugged her before stepping back next to Davis. “I was lucky enough to ride with him – I had to come.”
“Let’s go.” Faith told Carlos.
More of the 55th’s officers were in the hallway and outside, RMP’s were parked up and down the street, lights flashing.
“Wow, hell of a turnout – you’d think the mayor died.” Carlos yelped as Holly swatted him on the back. “What?”
“Just for once – don’t talk.”
Emily and Faith sat on the bench next to Bosco’s body as the bus pulled away. Outside came the mournful wail of sirens as they headed for Mercy.
Leaning over, Faith unzipped the bag to expose his face. “He’s scared of the dark.”
“Mom, what are we going to do?” Emily burrowed against her mother’s side as she sat up again.
“I’ve got to go with Lieu to tell Rose.” She looped her arm around Emily’s shoulders, holding her close. “But I don’t want to leave Bosco alone.”
“I can stay with him.”
“Can you do that?” Maybe she could keep them from taking Bosco down to the morgue. Faith shuddered. She didn’t want to see them put him in one of those drawers, and she damn sure didn’t want Emily to see it. “It’s going to be cold and scary.”
“I know.” She wiped at her eyes. “Momma, we have to tell Charlie, too.”
“Oh my God, can this day get any worse?” Charlie practically worshipped Bosco. “One crisis at a time, Emily. Just let me get through one at a time.”
“We’ll get through, Mom.” Hugging her mother, Emily tried to think of how they’d tell Charlie that Uncle B was gone. “We all will.”
At the hospital, Captain Elchisak was waiting for them. “Faith, I’m so sorry. You know I loved Bosco like he was my own son.”
Faith couldn’t hold back a laugh. “Don’t bullshit me now, Captain. Bosco was a pain in the ass and you know it.”
“He was.” Elchisak admitted. “But I was taught to say good things about people. And he was a damn good cop – and a good man – and you know that’s not bullshit.”
“Thank you, sir.” She looked around at the bosses and officers standing by the ER entrance. “Sir, is it possible to not take him downstairs? My daughter is going to stay with him while we go tell his mother – I don’t want her to be – “
“I think we can take him to one of the treatment rooms.” He nodded. “Shouldn’t be a problem, and we’ll make sure she’s not alone.”
Carlos and Holly had the stretcher out of the bus and they walked it slowly into the hospital, past the officers and hospital staff who’d come down. Mary Proctor led them to Trauma 1, and closed the blinds so no one could see inside. She hugged Faith quickly, before wiping at her tears and rushing away.
“Emily, do you remember Captain Elchisak?” Faith knelt next to the chair Emily sat in. “At the last picnic, Bosco dunked him so many times I kept telling him he’d be working lockup forever, remember?”
“Stick, isn’t that what Uncle Bosco called him?” She looked up at the man.
“That’s my nickname, sweetheart.” He held his hand out to her and squeezed hers when she took it. “You can call me Stick if you’d like or Stephen, that’s my first name.”
“Uncle Bos called you Stick – “ Emily nodded. “So, I will too, if that’s okay.”
“That’s fine with me.” He sat down in the chair next to her. “I’m going to stay here with you while your mother goes to talk to Bosco’s mother. We don’t want you to be alone.”
“I’m not exactly alone.” She looked at the body bag on the stretcher. “Besides, it’s Uncle Bosco that we don’t want to be alone.”
“I’ll be back as soon as I can, Emily.” Faith kissed her on the forehead as she stood up. “If you need anything – “
“Mom, it’s okay. Just go.”
Faith paused next to the stretcher and ran her fingers over Bosco’s face. “I’ll be back.”
“I don’t know what I’m going to say to her.”
“You’re not going to say anything.” Swersky told her. “That’s my job. It’s not a part of my job that I’ve ever wanted to do – but I’ve handled enough of these to know what to say.”
“What are we going to do?” Faith couldn’t remember anything from the times she’d been there when he’d told a family member that the person they loved was never coming home again. “My mind is totally blank, I can’t even think – “
“Just relax.” He reached over the back of the seat and patted her shoulder. “I’ll talk to her and you just comfort her – that’s it. Reassure her that he went peacefully if she asks.”
“Thank God for that.” Too many times, Faith had imagined Bosco dying bleeding and in agony. At least this way he’d never felt it coming. “I won’t have to lie to her.”
“We have to take our comforts where we can, Faith.” He agreed. “I’m going to assume that Bosco would want you in charge of things, but if you need help – don’t you hesitate to ask for it. This is a hell of a burden to shoulder.”
“I’m his partner, Lieu.” Blinking back tears, she looked out the window. “I’m his partner.”
The car stopped in front of Rose’s house and they got out. Faith took a moment to straighten her borrowed clothes before nodding that she was ready.
Swersky rang the doorbell and braced himself for the worst part of his job. When the door opened, he smiled gently at Rose. “Mrs. Boscorelli, may we come in?”
“May we?” She laughed and waved them inside. “Since when do you need an invite? Faith, what the hell are you wearing?”
“I – I didn’t have any clothes.”
“Are those Maurice’s pants?” Rose stopped suddenly, looking at the other officer who’d followed them inside. “What’s going on?”
“Mrs. Boscorelli, why don’t we sit down?” Swersky took her elbow gently.
“Why should I sit down – Faith? Where’s Maurice?” She jerked her elbow away. “Where’s Maurice?”
“Rose, he’s – he’s – “ The words wouldn’t come out.
“Can we sit down for a moment, please?” Again, Swersky tried to guide Rose to the sofa. “I need to tell you what’s happened today.”
“No! no – oh my God – no!” Rose pulled away and ran to the door. “No – get out! Get out! You’re not telling me – get out!”
“Rose, please – “ This was exactly what she’d feared would happen. When Bosco was in a coma, Rose was a borderline basket case for days until the reality of his condition settled in.
“Mrs. Boscorelli, please – “ Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time he’d had to deal with a hysterical family member and Swersky caught her expertly by the arms and pulled her to the sofa, forcing her to sit. “Maurice passed away this afternoon – “
“No! No! No!” Rose burst into tears and tried to pull away, but he held her too tightly. “Not my Maurice – please!”
“He was asleep and he never felt a thing. I promise you that.”
“You promise me? You killed him – you and your damned NYPD!” She shoved at him. “You let him die!”
“Rose, he was asleep.” Faith sat down next to her. “I was there with him. And he told me he was happy. And he went to sleep and then he was gone.”
“My baby – I want my baby – “ Rose turned to Faith and wrapped her arms around the other woman. “Please tell me it’s a lie – please – “
“I’m sorry, Rose.” She put her arms around Rose and rocked her as she would a child. “I’m so sorry.”
Swersky rubbed his hand up and down Rose’s back. He’d gotten to know her well during the long hospital stay, and it broke his heart to see her in such pain. Maybe it would have been better if Bosco had never woken up from the coma he’d been in.
Rose sobbed into her neck and for the first time, Faith let her own tears out. Wherever Bosco was, he was probably crying as well. I’ll take care of her, Bos, I promise.
“I want to be sure Ma’s taken care of.”
“You know I’d help her out.”
“I’m kinda depending on it.”
“I’m sorry to dump it all on you – but I don’t have anybody else.”
“You don’t need anybody else, Bos. I’m your partner.”
Faith squeezed Rose’s hand. Bosco’s mother was barely holding it together even with the help of the medication doctor Fields had given her.
Losing both of her sons within the space of a year – she glanced at Charlie – it had to be a mother’s worst nightmare come true.
Charlie was solemn and quiet, his eyes puffy and his nose red. Losing his Uncle B had been hard on him. Bosco had always been ten feet tall and indestructible as far as Charlie was concerned. When Bosco was in a coma, Charlie had been the only one who truly believed that he’d wake up and be his old self again.
“He’s not Superman.”
“It’s not likely he’ll ever wake up.”
A hand closed over her free hand and Faith blinked the tears away to see Charlie’s concerned face. She smiled reassuringly. He’d handled this better than she’d expected – better than a thirteen year old boy should have to.
“Bosco, why is it always Bosco?”
“There’s more in your world than Maurice Boscorelli. Maybe you should think about who this guy really is to you before you follow him off a cliff "
Fred had pitched a fit when she’d told him she was taking to Charlie to Bosco’s funeral. They’d fought – yelled and screamed and threatened each other – until Charlie had gotten between them.
He’d told Fred that he was ashamed to be his son and that he was going to his Uncle B’s funeral if he had to run away to do it. And if he did, he was never coming back. Fred had stood with his mouth hanging open while Charlie told him that he didn’t want to be his son if he would hold a grudge against someone who was dead.
It had finally dawned on Fred just how badly Charlie was hurting, and he had not only apologized, but he’d taken Charlie to buy a new suit. He and the new missus had even sent flowers. Maybe there was still one decent bone in the jerk’s body.
“I love Em, you know? She’s – I watched her grow up.
“Charlie gets my car when he’s old enough – a boy needs a car.”
Faith squeezed Charlie’s hand. Bosco had been crazy about Charlie, teaching how to take care of himself when the bigger kids had picked on him, and buying the expensive video games that Charlie had wanted and she couldn’t afford.
Emily had gotten equal treatment from Bosco. He’d gifted her with a makeup and color analysis when Emily had started wearing makeup. His excuse was that he didn’t want her looking like some of the girls he’d gone to high school with.
“I know you’d take care of Emily and Charlie if something happened to me.”
“Of course, I would. I love ‘em.”
She risked a glance at Bosco. It was hard to look at him lying in the casket, so still and quiet. This was the last day she’d ever see him and this wasn’t the picture she wanted in her head for the rest of her life.
The funeral home had carefully arranged Bosco so that the perfect, unmarked cheek was to them – though they had covered the scar with something that made it nearly invisible. No doubt they’d had practice covering up worse things.
If they’d thought it was strange that she wanted a rifle laid inside with him, they hadn’t said anything. Her requests were taken with a smile and a nod and each quickly taken care of. Down to the one where they had to turn on the maglight lying at his side just before they closed the coffin for the last time.
Bosco’s Army medals were in a small box lying next to him – medals she hadn’t even known he’d earned. Tucked carefully into his hands was a copy of the old picture of him with his mother and Mikey, Emily and Charlie’s school pictures, and the picture of the two of them the night they’d graduated from the Police Academy.
A replica of his shield had been quickly made and pinned to his medal rack. On the DVD he’d left for her, Bosco had asked that she keep his real shield and put a note in his pocket so that anyone who dug him up in a million years would know why he had a fake one on. Only Bosco would worry about something like that.
A small ripple of laughter made Faith look up. Captain Elchisak was talking about Bosco. She wasn’t sure what he’d said, but it was probably that Bosco had been a pain in the ass.
“I’m just glad she wasn’t my daughter.” Elchisak smiled and shook his head. “Although now, I think Bosco would have made a fine son-in-law. He always treated Faith and the other women at the 55 with the utmost respect.”
Faith nearly choked. Apparently he’d never found out that it had been his daughter that Bosco had been caught on tape with. She wondered if the girl was here, she’d sure seemed to like Bosco. A lot. If she was here, she wouldn’t be the only ex in the room.
The burglary chick was there – Faith couldn’t remember her name – and a couple of other girls that she didn’t remember him talking about. Obviously he’d made an impression on them and she wasn’t going to pop their bubble by telling them that they hadn’t made enough of an impression on him for him to bring their name up to her. They seemed nice enough and they were crying over him – for that alone she could like them.
“You haven’t exactly been a choirboy, Bosco. You’ve had more ass than a public toilet seat.”
“So I blew it with Nicole huh?”
Nicole had shown up, though that shouldn’t have been a surprise. When Bosco had been in a coma, she’d flown in from Paris to visit him and offer whatever support she could. It had been years since Nicole and Bosco had spoken – that night in the street in front of the precinct house had been the last time they’d seen each other – but she still cared for him.
Faith glanced down the row at the blonde, and wondered if she should have told Bosco that Nicole had come to see him. Nicole hadn’t wanted him to know, and Faith had been jealous and insecure enough to keep her visits a secret. Maybe it would have made a difference and maybe not. It didn’t matter now at any rate.
“You know you can be a real jerk, you know that?”
“Why me, Bosco? Why is it always me?”
There’d been a much larger turnout than Faith had expected. Bosco had few friends, preferring to keep people at a distance. His reputation as a cop was well known and respected, however, and the majority of the 55 was in attendance.
His Army recruiter was there, and had helped coordinate the Army’s involvement in Bosco’s funeral. As a Gulf War veteran, he was entitled to certain honors at his funeral, and Sergeant Tucker had worked to smoothly integrate those honors with the ones every fallen NYPD officer was entitled to.
Bosco had taken as much of the load off her shoulders as he could. He’d already talked with Sergeant Tucker and had planned out as much as he could of his own funeral and burial arrangements. For a thoughtless guy, he’d been thoughtful as hell about what she’d be going through.
“So, is every topic gonna lead back to me and Cruz now?”
”No, just trust.”
The only hitch in the an otherwise smooth operation had been when the city had tried to combine Bosco’s funeral with Cruz’. Faith had put her foot down in a big way. There was no way she would allow a combined funeral or any mention of Cruz – otherwise the NYPD could keep their fancy bagpipers and flags, and the Army could do the full honors.
Lieutenant Swersky and Captain Elchisak had sent the city rep packing before she could tear the little man’s head off. There was bad blood between Bosco and Faith, and Cruz – a funeral was no place to try to cover over the rift.
I’m sorry I didn’t fight harder to keep you out of that bitch’s clutches, Bosco. Faith looked again at where Bosco lay as if he were sleeping. Things wouldn’t have turned out any different in the end maybe, but you didn’t deserve the shit she put you through.
Lieutenant Swersky was stepping away from the podium and Sully clasped his shoulder as he passed. Unfolding a piece of paper, Sully cleared his throat.
“A few years ago, my wife was murdered and there were only four people at the funeral. Me and Davis, and Bosco and Faith. I was surprised, but I guess I shouldn’t have been – wherever 55 Charlie was, 55 David was pretty close by. When they weren’t ducking calls, anyway.”
Faith smiled. It was true, there was no denying that their rookie enthusiasm had faded over the years and they’d begun ducking calls. Waiting for the real crimes, as Bosco always said. But if 55 Charlie was in a bind – they were there in a heartbeat. Two teams with one goal.
“I had a problem not long after that.” Sully hesitated. “I started drinking. And I couldn’t stop – I didn’t want to stop – and I was putting my career on the line. One night these guys break in, put a sack over my head, tie me up, and haul me out to the boondocks. They were my friends – “
Sully’s drinking problem had been kept under tight wraps, and Faith wasn’t sure if Lieu or any of the bosses even knew about it. At this point, with Sully retiring, it probably didn’t matter anyway – but she was surprised he’d bring it up.
“I wasn’t surprised to see Davis there – he’d been my – “ Someone cleared their throat and Sully looked up. After a moment, he smiled and continued. “He’s my partner. But the next day, there was Bosco. Now that surprised the hell out of me,. because we weren’t friends. Or at least I didn’t think we were.”
“How do you do it everyday?”
“I insulted Bosco – hell, I even hit him over the head with a piece of firewood when he wasn’t looking – and he wouldn’t let me kill myself.” Glancing over toward Bosco, Sully shook his head. “The thing is, I’m standing here thinking I knew this guy for thirteen years – and I don’t think I ever really knew him at all.”
Awkwardly, Sully stepped away from the podium and went back to his seat.
Faith took a deep breath and stood up. She smiled at Charlie as he scooted over to take Rose’s hand. On her way to the podium, she avoided looking at Bosco. This was hard enough without seeing him lying there.
“I’m Bosco’s partner, and I did know him. Probably better than I wanted to, but not nearly well enough, if that makes any sense.” She sighed. “We laughed and we fought and we made up – we were partners through thick and thin. Some people think Bosco broke up my marriage, but the truth is, he thought that marriage was a sacred thing and I should keep working on it – and he always wanted me to do what was best for my kids.”
Smiling at Emily and Charlie, Faith blinked back tears. “Your Uncle Bosco loved you guys – all these years I figured he was just putting up with me talking about you constantly – turns out he was listening.
“When Bosco was in a coma, people would say ‘why would anyone take a bullet for someone?’ and I knew why. The same reason I took a bullet for him.” She lifted her chin slightly. “Because we loved each other.”
Stepping away from the podium, Faith walked to the casket and leaned down to brush her lips across Bosco’s. “I love you, Bos.”
The three volleys fired off shredded her last nerve, and tears were streaking down her face before the lone bagpiper began playing. Faith blinked the tears away and accepted the flag, turning carefully and walking to where Rose sat between Charlie and Lieu.
Kneeling, she handed it to Rose, waiting until the other woman had it firmly in her grip before rising and taking her place in line. Next to her, Sully stood firm and solid, his last time in uniform, and she took comfort his presence. Once again 55 Charlie was there when 55 David needed them.
Bosco’s coffin was covered in roses by the time the last notes faded and it was time to walk away. Scooping up a handful of the roses, Faith laid them on Mikey’s grave. “You make sure he behaves.”
Nicole was waiting for her next to the car. “Faith, if you need anything, you let me know.”
“Bosco left things pretty well set up, Nic, but I appreciate it.” She smiled slightly. “Getting shot last year scared the hell out of him, I guess. He had more insurance than his mother could possibly spend.”
“That crazy woman, I think she said she’s a paramedic – she told me Maurice had a smile on his face.” Nicole glanced back at the rose covered coffin. “Did he? I mean – he looked like he did – but I don’t know what they can do – “
“He told me he was happy. And he did have a beautiful, peaceful smile.”
“Good. I’m glad he was happy.” She smiled her own sad smile. “He did love your kids, you know? He always said if he had any – he wanted two just like yours.”
“Bosco was crazy like that.” Looking at where Emily and Charlie were waiting with Rose, Faith’s eyes narrowed. “You know, Nic, I do need something. I need a good lawyer.”
The blonde smiled. “Not a problem, I know a half a dozen that would love to take this on.”
“Can I have a few minutes?” Faith asked the driver. When he nodded, she walked back to lean inside the car. “I’m gonna go say goodbye to Bosco, okay?”
Rose nodded, still clutching the flag to her chest. Emily reached out a hand to her. “We’ll be okay, you go on.”
“Yeah, it’s okay.” Charlie echoed, holding his own hand up to her. “We’ll take care of Grandma Rose.”
Taking her children’s hands, Faith squeezed them for a moment. Charlie had decided to adopt Rose and she hoped it would help Rose cope to have children to give her love to. “I love you guys.”
Faith walked back out to the gravesite and stopped by the coffin, rubbing a hand along the smooth wood. “Charlie’s worried about you being scared of the dark, so that’s why the flashlight’s in there with you. I tried to tell him that it doesn’t matter – but it really bothered him, so I figured you wouldn’t mind.”
“I’ll take care of your mom, don’t worry. She’s part of the family now. Grandma Rose – isn’t that a hoot? She’s a tough old broad, she’ll be fine.” She pulled her hat off, setting it on top a pile of roses, and rubbed her eyes. “I will be too, I guess. It’s funny, I don’t hurt as bad as I did when you were shot and I thought you were dying. Guess ‘cos I know you were happy. And that you love me. Though you didn’t have to wait so damn long to tell me, Bos.”
Faith leaned down and pressed her lips the cool wood. “I’m taking you up on the offer of using the plot next to you. Even if I get stupid and get married again – he’ll just have to share me with you I guess. Save me a spot up there, Bosco.”
“I'm your partner. I was there for you. I'll always be there for you.”
She walked away.
This story was inspired partly by the song If Heaven which was on the radio quite a bit at the time, and it fit so well into what I was writing that I borrowed a line for the title and I thought I’d share the lyrics. The song is sad and yet hopeful at the same time.
If Heaven composed by Gretchen Peters and sung by Andy Griggs
If Heaven was an hour, it would be twilight,
If Heaven was a town, it would be my town,
Don't cry a tear for me, now, baby;
If Heaven was a pie, it'd be cherry,
If Heaven was a train, it sure would be a fast one,
Don't cry a tear for me, now, baby;
Yeah, if that's what Heaven's made of,