Kate Warner (justdidntseeit) wrote,
Kate Warner

[[ wheelsy, south carolina ]]

They fall into a familiar routine.

She slips out of bed for a run just before dawn, and she's back in time to wake Bill with coffee and breakfast before she showers. Bill teases her about hoarding the hot water, and she reminds him he's always too distracted by food to join her.

- - - - -

She doesn't stop worrying.

Every morning Bill puts on his uniform, every time he steps out the door, her stomach knots.

She hides her apprehension as best she can, but sometimes, when Bill glances at her a certain way, she's sure his blue eyes see straight through her.

- - - - -

They don't talk about it, and she's selfishly grateful.

When she's lying in bed wrapped in his arms, it's easier to let herself believe in the illusion of safety.

- - - - -

He looks tired.

He's putting in long hours -- stacks of paperwork keep him late at the station; a tedious city council meeting drags until nearly midnight; a local rancher loses his barn and nearly five acres to a fire, and the arson investigation seems to stretch for weeks.

- - - - -

She looks worn.

She distracts herself with insignificant projects: lining kitchen shelves and drawers with fresh paper; reorganizing cabinets and cupboards and closets; buying a new bookshelf for the living room; planting flowers and herbs in the empty pots on the back deck; trying her hand at Moroccan recipes and inviting Sarah and Dave and Rudy over for dinner.

She tells herself she and Bill aren't in a rut. They're not.

- - - - -

The phone calls start the second week Bill's back on duty.

The first one sounds like an accidental dial, the click of the receiver echoing in Kate's ear a few seconds after she answers.

She doesn't give it half a thought.

On Tuesday, Dave throws out his back; Bill, Rudy, and Kelly take on double shifts without complaint.

The calls become an everyday occurrence, usually in the late afternoon and early evening, when Kate's home alone.

She thinks there's a connection, but can't be sure, so she doesn't mention them to Bill -- not yet.

By Sunday, she's dreaming of ringing handsets, silent laughter and whispered threats, and most mornings find her awake in the wee hours.

If Bill stirs beside her, confusion on his sleepy features, she kisses his shoulder and tells him everything's fine, she's just thirsty.

- - - - -

On the worst nights when she can't sleep, she eases out of bed and curls into her favorite corner of the couch in the living room.

Leafing through the scrapbook with the navy cover, she pores over newspaper clippings and photo captions like she's gearing up for a final, committing names and landmarks to memory while tragedies and triumphs burn into her mind's eye.

She's not sure if she'll ever look at these pages without tearing up.

- - - - -

When she's finished running errands for the day and there's nothing she could do around the spotless house that wouldn't be redundant, she's tempted to try to find the bar through Bill's closet. She wants to check in on Boo; she's worried about Beckett; she could just slip inside for five minutes and leave notes with Bar --

Fear stops her, again and again: What if the door disappears? And what if something happens to Bill while she's Bound in Milliways?

- - - - -

The shadowy smudges, dark as bruises beneath Bill's eyes, hurt to see.

She doesn't miss the way his shoulders slump every time the phone rings and interrupts dinner. When he's pulled away to handle another domestic violence call or to settle down another rowdy group of good ol' boys at the lodge, Kate wants to ask him to let Dave take care of it.

But she doesn't.

She wraps her arms around his waist and kisses his cheek, and when the cruiser door slams and its engine turns over, she wills him to come back in one piece.

- - - - -

He knows she isn't sleeping well. He can tell she's tired -- they both are, and neither of them is talking about it.

He sees her flinch when the phone rings sometimes.

Neither of them is talking about that, either.

It's easier not to.

(He's got his own suspicions about the prank calls coming to the house, but he doesn't want to worry Kate with them -- not yet. If it comes down to it, he'll contact the phone company and put a trace on the line.)

Besides, Bill reminds himself as he buckles his gun belt and stifles a yawn, they knew this would take some adjustment. They're fine, a little stress is normal while he gets settled back in at the department.

He forgot how unpredictable his hours can be, but he's all right -- a few extra cups of coffee power him through long days, and a couple beers before bed help him sleep.

Anyway, as soon as this arson investigation ends, things'll quiet down; he and Kate will get through this, just like they've gotten through everything else.
Tags: bill pardy, kate warner, oom, wheelsy
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