"Where the hell is she?" Vivian asked the Asian man beside her. She shifted her feet on the floorboard of the old Volkswagen Square Back, hoping beyond hope that nothing would bond permanently to her shoes.
"She'll call." Quang said as he too shifted. He couldn't believe he was waiting in a car with a cop. He risked a side ways glance at the tall blonde detective. His earlier eye full of McKee's lip lock with the woman popped into his mind. He scrunched his eyes up in an effort to rid himself of the erotic vision.
"Are you okay?" Vivian asked watching the man who seemed to be in pain.
"Fine." Quang squeaked. The small phone that was at the ready on the narrow dash rang saving him any further conversation about his current condition. "Yo!" He answered and started to scribble on a small note pad. He glanced at the detective, "Well she kind of insisted, and you always said to cooperate fully with the law."
Vivian smiled. It didn't take much threatening to convince Quang that she should come with him. He almost seemed eager to take her. She only wished they had taken her car instead of the somewhat uncertain Volkswagen they sat in. The forty-mile trip was uncomfortable and cramped. But she did have to admit that they blended in well with the beach crowd where they were parked.
"Okay, but she has a gun, and I don't. Just remember that McKee." Quang finished the call. He then tucked the phone away in his pants pocket and started the car. "It's just a couple of blocks."
Vivian smiled, "Forward then James, and don't spare the horses." She quipped. She received a blank stare from the younger man. "Never mind. Let's just go. I hate the beach and want to get back to the city."
Quang nodded, "cool."
McKee sat at a table along busy Main St. in Huntington Beach. It was early evening and the crowds were just coming out to enjoy the cool night air and take in a movie, shop, or get a meal at any one of a dozen or more restaurants that crowded the little downtown area. She sipped on her raspberry tea and watched a door across the street. The upstairs apartment lights had been turned on just moments before and was the only confirmation she needed that someone was home. She heard before she saw the Square Back pull up in front of her. She rose and crossed the street.
"What do we do now?" Vivian asked as she watched the short brunette enter the building opposite them.
Vivian sighed. "For?" She drew the word out.
"McKee to flush the guy out."
"Oh." Vivian looked up at the building, "and we do what, give chase?"
Quang nodded, "If need be."
The detective huffed and sank back into the vinyl seat wishing she could stretch her legs out. It was turning into a very long day.
Quin walked up the stairs to the second floor apartments that sat over the novelty shops below. It was pricey living. A small apartment here would run fifteen hundred or more a month, so someone had to be financing it for Justin Downs and his girlfriend. Neither whom earned more than half that amount in a month at their respective jobs.
She counted the doors as she went coming to her destination. She leaned to listen at the door just as it swung open. She nearly lost her balance.
Justin Downs looked like the proverbial deer in the headlights for a moment, but regained his composer quickly slamming the door back on Quin and running in the opposite direction.
Quin growled, "Don't you dare run on me Mr. Downs!" But she knew that was exactly what the young man was doing as she rushed through the apartment after him, just catching a glimpse of his faded jeans going out the window onto the fire escape. "Fuck!" She climbed out the small window and grabbed her phone as she started down the metal steps.
The phone chimed again, making the occupants of the small car jump. Quang fumbled with it a bit as he pulled it from his pocket. "Yeah?" He looked up and then behind him as he started the car. "Back alley, got it."
A horn sounded just as the car started rolling backwards. Quang checked the mirror, "God damn it!" He slammed on the breaks causing Vivian to lurch forward and brace herself on the dusty dash with her hands.
The detective opened her car door and stood scanning the street first one way then the next. As she looked to her left a second time she saw Justin Downs sprint across the street weaving through cars. She closed the door and slapped the roof as she leaned down to speak through the window, "He's headed into the parking garage, meet us over there!"
Quang didn't even have time to nod as the blonde disappeared from his view. He placed the car in reverse once again and backed out into the busy stream of traffic. He alternated flipping people off with a colorful stream of curse words as he finally broke free and onto Pacific Coast Hwy.
Quin was about thirty yards behind Justin Downs when she saw a flash of dark green cut in front of her just behind the man. She weaved around the slow moving traffic and into the parking garage. She followed Vivian's blonde head as she picked up speed. It looked like the detective might have him as they crossed back into the open street. Quin was just twenty feet from them when her world went black.
Vivian stood up triumphantly, dusting her hands off. Justin Downs lay at her feet handcuffed and panting from his run. She looked behind her expecting to find McKee. Instead she saw the faded yellow Square Back with Quang huddled over a crumpled form wedged under the front bumper.
"Oh no. Quin." She jerked Downs to his feet and dragged him across the street, pushing through the crowd that had gathered. A local police car's siren whooped. She approached the car and showed her badge.
"Hey guys, you think I can stash my perp in your car for a few?" She asked the burly corporal behind the wheel.
The man considered the request and examined the gold detective badge, "Kind of out of your jurisdiction aren't ya' Sarge?"
"You gotta go where they go." Vivian shrugged wanting to dump Downs and get to Quin.
"Go ahead. He'll be safe here." The man pointed to the scene, "Everything okay over there?"
"I don't know yet, my partner might be hurt." She pushed Downs into the back seat of the cruiser.
"I'll come with you." The corporal offered exiting the car and creating a path for Vivian to walk through.
As Vivian got closer she sighed in relief at hearing McKee's voice, a smile came to her face as she listened to the tirade through which Quang was suffering.
Quin came to out of the blackness with a moan. She opened her eyes to see Quang kneeling over her. "Quang?"
"Christ McKee, man you just came out of nowhere…"
"Quang, please tell me you didn't just hit me with your piece of shit car." Quin moved to sit up but her head was spinning and she couldn't tell which way up was exactly.
"I'm sorry McKee, I was…"
"You fucking hit me with your skanky ass car?" Her hand made purchase on the bumper of the car and she hauled herself to a sitting position, she felt something trickle down her face and reflexively took a swipe at it with her hand regretting the action instantly. "Damn it all to hell." She said as her hand that was still bruised from the week before now was scraped and cut, and covered in blood from a wound on her head. She looked at her legs that began to throb with pain, and tried to stretch her back that she was sure was fucked. "Help me up." She held up her left hand.
Vivian stepped forward and wrapped her arm around Quin's shoulder, her hand grabbed her forearm that stuck up in the air and gently lifted the smaller woman to her feet. "Are you all right?"
Quin blinked a few times then looked at Vivian, "No."
"Ma'am do you know this man?" the officer who had joined Vivian asked as he inched closer to Quang.
"Unfortunately." Quin said as she took mental stock of herself.
"Would you like for me to hold him for attempted…"
"MCKEE!" Quang pleaded.
Quin laughed lightly, "No I can torture him all on my own officer, thanks."
The officer nodded and started to disperse the crowd of gawkers.
"Fuck you Quang." Quin growled, then turned to Vivian, "Did you get him?"
"Yup, all safe and sound." She pointed to the police cruiser where a defeated Justin Downs sat.
"Cool. I think I need an ice pack." Quin said as she took a tentative step.
"What about my car McKee?" Quang asked as the brunette hobbled off with the help of the detective.
The two women stopped and turned to look at the car. A large dent was in the hood where McKee had impacted and the windshield was shattered from the force of her body rolling up into it.
McKee shrugged the best she could, "It was a piece of crap anyway Quang. Time to buy a real car."
Vivian nodded, "Not enough leg room kid. You're better off."
The women turned together and walked away to gather Justin Downs and head back to Los Angeles.
Quang looked at his broken little car then back at the women who now had Justin Downs in tow and leaving him. "HEY!… McKee!"
Quin's shoulders slumped, "What!"
"How am I supposed to get home?" Quang asked.
Quin shook her head and said, "I don't know, bus maybe?" She turned back around and disappeared into the parking garage with Vivian and Downs.
"Bus?" Quang kicked his bumper.
"Hey kid, you want me to call you a tow?" The officer asked.
Quang felt like crying. "Yeah, might as well." He admitted defeated. "How late do the buses run?"
The officer laughed, "All night kid."
Vivian sunk behind the wheel of the big Chevy, "Now this is a car."
"Where are you taking me?" The man whined from the back seat.
Quin cradled her aching head in one hand, "Shut up Downs." She hissed.
Vivian scooted across the large bench seat to get closer to Quin, "How do you feel, really?" Gray bloodshot eyes looked up at her.
"Like I was hit by a car."
The blonde smiled and moved a bit of dark hair from a bruised forehead, "Can you be a bit more specific? Do you need a visit to the ER?"
"Please no, anything but a hospital." Quin groaned and leaned into Vivian's gentle touch on her cheek.
"What about me? I have rights you know." Justin Downs once again voiced from the back seat.
"Shut up Downs." Vivian said as she lowered her hand and slid back across the seat. She had to put a little space between herself and Quin. She wanted nothing more than to gather the smaller woman up and comfort her, but now was not the place or the time. Quin needed some medical attention, and she knew of only one place to go to get it with out resorting to a hospital.
They had just pulled out of the parking garage when Quin gave into her body's request for rest. Vivian made the rest of the drive in silence after threatening to shoot Downs' toes off if he didn't shut up. Forty-five minutes later she pulled up in front of Tom Ross' house.
Quin woke to the faint smell of apples and cinnamon. A smell she associated with only one place. And that one place should be the last place she should be.
"Lie still McKee. You have a concussion and a couple broken ribs. You're lucky to be alive at all." The voice was soft and caring, and belonged to someone who by all rights should be doing anything but offering comfort.
Quin risked one swollen eye to take in her surroundings. She quickly confirmed that she was at the Ross' house and better yet in Tom and Ruth's bed. "The scene of the crime," she muttered through dry lips.
Ruth frowned, "It would seem so." She picked up a cup of water with a straw dangling in it, "Would you like some water?"
The brunette turned her head and tried to focus on the redhead, "Ya know this is a great opportunity to get even; just slip something in the cup Doc and put me out of both our miseries."
"I think not McKee. If you want out of this life, you'll have to do it your self. Now drink. Slowly."
The straw was pressed to her lips and she took a short sip and lay back down. She held the water in her mouth for a few moments before allowing it to slide down her throat.
"You should be in a hospital." Ruth said as she replaced the water on the nightstand. "Want to tell me what happened?"
"Got hit by a car."
Ruth couldn't help but chuckle, Quinlan McKee was straightforward if anything. "So Vivian said. Who's the guy handcuffed to my kitchen table?" She got up from her bedside position and retrieved two ace bandages from the closet shelf.
Ruth came back to the bed, "I need for you to sit up McKee. I need to bind your ribs." She helped the small brunette to a sitting position.
Quin's head spun, and she felt like she was going to vomit. "Hold it here for a minute okay? I don't feel so good."
"You have a big bump on your head. I had to put in a couple stitches up there." Ruth explained and waited for Quin to give her the go ahead to pivot her legs off the edge of the bed.
Quin took a deep breath, a painful breath that caused her to cough. Which in turn caused more pain, and the urge to vomit grew right along with the other unpleasant sensations. When she finally got everything under control she eased her legs over the side of the bed with Ruth's help.
Ruth took the hem of Quin's t-shirt and raised it. The bruises revealed were hot and turning purple. The doctor took the opportunity to probe the ribs and along Quin's back, double checking for injuries. Short intakes of air were the only sign the brunette gave if she hit a sore spot. Satisfied that nothing was broken she started to wrap Quin's ribs. "Who is Justin Downs?" She asked as she secured the first length of bandage.
"I'm not sure yet, but he's someone important to the case I'm… we are working on."
"Yeah, ummm, Vivian and I are collaborating on the Peer kid."
Ruth finished the second wrap. "After you shower have someone help you re-wrap these. It'll make it easier to breath."
"Why are you doing this Ruth?" the question had been rattling in her head since she woke up.
The doctor pulled McKee's shirt down and sat back. The two women regarded each other for a long moment. Ruth finally sighed, "Tom told me about Grace."
Quin blinked a few times, but remained silent.
"He told me about the baby McKee."
Quin's heart skipped a few beats. She had no idea anyone had known besides her and Grace and, "Stephanie must have…"
"I don't know who told him, but it gave me some insight. I'm sorry. We weren't there for you then Quin. I thought you had come that night, here, to kill Tom. He thinks…"
Quin tried to stand suddenly. She didn't feel like having this conversation, but her head had other ideas as the room spun out of control and she collapsed back onto the bed with a moan. Tears spilled from her eyes as she curled up into a ball on the bed.
"I… I tried to do it myself. I couldn't."
Ruth moved to the bed and cautiously reached out to comfort the sobbing woman.
"I want a lawyer." Justin Downs said for the sixth time.
Tom Ross growled through clinched teeth, "You can't have a lawyer, you're not under arrest."
Vivian chuckled, then cleared her throat, "Listen Justin, we know you had something to do with Scott Peer's abduction, but we think you're a small fish. We want the big fish."
Justin Downs was a mere twenty-two years old. He looked like he could pass for sixteen, if you shaved the blonde beard from his face. Wavy blonde locks covered his head, and a deep tan added to his surfer boy looks.
Justin studied the handcuff that secured him to the wooden chair in the overly cheerful family dining room. "They'll kill me if I talk to you." He said softly.
Vivian and Tom looked at each other, "McKee." The word was voiced in unison. Sly smiles congratulated each other.
Ruth walked into the kitchen at that moment, "What about Quin?"
Tom narrowed his eyes at his wife. That was the first time in three years that she had used McKee's first name, and she had even said it with warmth. "How is she?" Tom asked as he nudged his partner under the table and threw his head minutely toward the stairs.
Vivian nodded and rose faking a stretch, "Nature calls fellas."
Ruth looked at her husband and friend and smirked, "She's resting. Try and let her sleep if she is, and don't stay too long if she isn't." She directed at Vivian who at least looked embarrassed. Tom gave his best innocent face to his wife in reply.
Quin felt the bed dip beside her and a hand came to rest on her hip. She suspected Vivian had come to check on her and confirmed it with a quick peek through partially closed eyes. "Hey."
"Hey back at ya'. How do you feel?" Vivian asked as she looked over the brunette herself.
"Like crap. What's up?"
"Is he talking?" Quin shifted to her back letting a twinge of pain cross her face, but nothing more.
Vivian used the newly freed space on the bed to pull her legs up and sit facing the prone woman. "I think he will, but he needs to feel safe. He seems certain that his life will end if he speaks with us."
"Safe? And you and Tom already have this worked out?"
Vivian smiled, "We do, and it's not like you'll notice another body taking up space at your place anyway."
Quin looked blankly at the woman beside her, "You're joking right?"
Vivian shook her head.
"I currently have five children, a nanny, Quang, and my self." Quin counted on her fingers, "and you think that you can slip in one more?"
"Well maybe two more, and of course I'll be hanging out to help." The blonde clarified.
Quin nodded, "Of course, the girlfriend, perfect."
Four hours later, the McKee residence buzzed with activity as sleeping arrangements were finalized. The children grouped together in two rooms with sleeping bags for the time being. Tom vowed to be back in the AM with bunk beds so everyone would be comfortable. Justin Downs and his girlfriend, newly arrived from Orange County, were given the guest bedroom, and Quin found herself purposefully put away in her own bedroom with an overly mothering Vivian Walsh hovering over her.
"You know," Quin started as her shirt was lifted over her head, leaving her in her sports bra and bandages. She was then instructed to lower her arms. She almost sighed in relief as the pain the simple action caused receded. "I've been doing the getting dressed and undressed thing for almost thirty years."
Vivian smiled as she kneeled and untied Quin's boots, "Okay, probably true, but when was the last time you were hit by a car and had to get undressed?"
"About eight months ago." Quin said easily.
Vivian stopped in the middle of slipping a black Doc Marten from Quin's foot and looked up at the woman to see if she was joking. Finding no humor in the brunette's face at all, she shook her head and went back to her task. "Well this time I'm here to help you. So just suck it up, cause I'm not going to leave you alone."
A smile crossed Quin's lips. If she was honest with herself she really wanted the blonde to stay. It had been a long time since anyone had taken care of her, and it felt good. "Will we be talking to Downs in the morning?"
"I don't know Ruth wants you to rest."
"Humph." Quin muttered as a tug came to the waist of her jeans, she raised a fine black eyebrow at the detective. "I usually require a date before letting strange women take my pants off."
Vivian blushed but quickly recovered, "You're safe with me Ms. McKee. I'm an officer of the law and mean no harm or disrespect. I only wish to serve and protect." She let her hands rest at Quin's hips, her thumbs hooked into the waistband of the soft faded denim.
Quin looked into Vivian's deep blue eyes. She wished she could just drown in those azure depths. She was so intent on those eyes that she missed the blonde moving in closer, that was until she felt Vivian's soft lips on her own, and lost focus as she let her own eyes shut, welcoming the tender comfort the kiss seemed to convey.
Vivian pulled back and a soft smile covered her face. Quin's eyes were still closed, and her lips still in a soft pucker from their shared kiss. "I won't hurt you Quinlan."
Quin sighed and shook her head in resignation, "Fine. There's a pair of sweats downstairs in my bag."
Vivian held up the dark blue sweat pants seemingly from nowhere.
Gray eyes narrowed at the blonde, "You think you're so smart."
"I am smart. Now shut up and lift your ass so I can get these jeans off you."
"Romantic too." Quin smirked as she raised her hips off the bed and let Vivian peel the denim from her body.
The detective inhaled as the bruised and scarred legs were revealed, "Jesus Quin, it's a wonder you can even walk." Long fingers ran gently over the damaged flesh.
"I haven't always made the right decisions in some situations. I'm more of a charge in kind of gal, and I've paid for it." Quin explained as she enjoyed the gentle touch.
Vivian removed her hands from the warm skin and picked up the sweat pants. A few skillful maneuvers later and she had them up and settled onto the brunette. She held up a white t-shirt with a questioning eyebrow.
Quin shrugged, "Why not, but no touching." She lifted her bra up and over her head. The bra was taken from her hands and the soft cotton of the t-shirt fell down her arms, and over her torso.
"See, I can be good." Vivian patted Quin's knee as she went to the head of the bed and turned down the covers. "Into bed." She ordered with a point of a long finger.
Quin complied with a small growl in the blonde's direction.
"Wait. Hold out your hand."
Two white pills were placed in Quin's palm and a glass of water was held in front of her face. She placed the pills in her mouth and took several large swallows of water to ease them down her throat.
"Good." Vivian helped the brunette lie down and pulled the covers up over the battered body. "Now sleep."
"What? No good night kiss?" Quin asked with a pout.
The detective leaned over Quin and placed a soft kiss on the PI's forehead. "Please stay in bed. Don't make me post a guard at the damn door."
"As if." Quin retorted as she snuggled into the warming bed.
Vivian moved to the door and took a last look at the woman in the bed. She knew she was falling hard for the brunette. There was no denying it. She wondered though if Quin would give them a chance or simply keep running away. She decided she was going to pursue the small woman. Vivian smiled to her self as she heard a soft ‘Thank you' when she eased the door shut.
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