Another Monday

Written by Kerry

Many thanks to Beth for her wonderful beta-reading.

Monday 3:05 a.m.

Tim Bayliss woke abruptly to the sound of his own moaning. His body was rigid, his chest was tight and he felt sick to his stomach. He panicked a little as his eyes opened wide but could see nothing but darkness. Jeez, but he wanted to *cry*.

After what seemed like an age, he finally made himself move and fumbled for the lamp switch. He took a deep breath and looked around. He saw their bedroom, not clearly, because he hadn't put his glasses on, but well enough for things to look comfortably familiar. And beside him in the bed lay Chris, still sound asleep, breathing deeply and making soft noises in his throat. For a moment, Tim really did begin to cry, a solitary tear welling up in each eye.

"Fucking nightmare," he told himself, "just another bad dream, Bayliss." Except this one had seemed so disturbingly *real*.

Gulping down some water from the glass on the table beside him, he lowered himself back down as quietly and gently as he could.

"I should switch off the light," he told himself without conviction.

But he didn't. Besides, it hadn't woken Chris. Tim noticed that his side of the bed was damp now. Rolling over cautiously, he reached out and rested his hand on Chris' chest. Chris' face was turned away from him, so Tim just let himself feel his lover's heartbeat, the rise and fall of his chest. He closed his eyes and prayed to no god in particular, to be spared from nightmares: "Please, no more. At least not tonight."

For an instant, Chris Rawls' eyes fluttered open as he battled against sleep. After a few seconds, sleep triumphed and he fell back into its embrace.


5:53 a.m.

Chris awoke at a rate he thought at first was leisurely until he looked at the clock with a start. 5:53 a.m. the digital display glared at him. He groaned a little and swore quietly to himself. He always seemed to wake up before the alarm these days, even on his days off. "Day off. That's today. Monday." For some reason he needed to mentally confirm this information. "Christ, I must be getting old," he muttered.

Tim still had his arm resting loosely around him when Chris twisted round to look at him. Tim always looked so pretty and boyish when he slept: so peaceful. Yet, something about him this morning seemed amiss and it made Chris wonder. Tim's face looked wan and Chris had some vague recollection of waking briefly during the night.

"Please, don't let this have been one of his nightmares," Chris thought, his face creasing with consternation. It was then that he noticed Tim's lamp switched on: "Jesus, it must have been."

Just when Chris was about to gently nudge him, Tim half-opened his eyes and mumbled "Hey," with the side of his face still buried in his pillow.

"Good morning. You know it's not even six yet. It's not like you to wake up this early unaided, Tim." Chris smiled affectionately while he stroked the fine silver threads in Tim's mussed brown hair.

"Did you sleep okay?" Chris tried to sound upbeat although he wasn't sure he wanted to know the answer.

"Uh, yeah, okay," Tim responded at first. He then revised his assessment and admitted, "Well, no, actually. Didn't sleep real well." He sat part way up and slowly exhaled. "I had another bad dream last night," he said, giving Chris an apologetic smile.

Hesitating a fraction, Chris asked with as much tact as he could muster this early in the morning, "Was it about your uncle or Adena...or something else?"

"It was kind of complicated and bizarre. I'm not sure I can make sense of it myself," Tim answered, lifting both hands to his face and rubbing it, then letting them rest together against his nose and mouth as if in prayer. He sat thoughtfully for a moment and then turned around. Impulsively, he threw his arms around Chris and buried his face in his neck. He nuzzled him, murmuring, "I'm going to take a shower. I'll tell you about it over breakfast, okay?"

"Sure, okay," whispered Chris, as he enjoyed the touch of Tim's rough stubble and soft lips against his own.


With the sound of the shower coming from the bathroom on the floor above, Chris got about the business of preparing breakfast. Cereal, followed by home fries and eggwhites. Not Babette's Feast, but it was what Tim liked. As he broke the eggs one by one and watched the whites flow out into the bowl beneath, Chris mused how long it had been since he had eaten an eggyolk for breakfast. Probably not since he and Tim had been living together. Remembering that Tim had a rough night, Chris added cheese to the eggwhite mix.

A few minutes later, Tim came into the kitchen. He was wearing his glasses and was clean shaven, his hair damp. He was half-dressed for work in his socks and suit pants, but his shirt was still tieless and untucked. He sat down to the cereal and grapefruit juice ready on the table and watched appreciatively with warm brown eyes as Chris worked around the kitchen.

Chris hadn't shaved or combed his dark hair and was dressed in an old well-worn sweatshirt and pants. He looked unabashedly shabby in the mornings and Tim relished that. It was a far cry from the way most people saw Chris: Rawls, the restauranteur, the immaculately groomed master of somber designer smart casual. Any lascivious thoughts Tim may have started to have, however, were rudely interrupted by a dull thudding in the pit of his stomach and a cankerous ache in his soul: he remembered the dream.

The two men sat opposite each other across the small kitchen table. Tim fiddled distractedly with his cereal while Chris watched him with clear, steady eyes.

When Tim stopped fiddling and looked straight into those eyes, he found himself stunned, yet again, by the striking beauty of them and still wholly fascinated by their color. Usually they were a beautiful deep-sea blue. But, like any ocean, Chris' eyes would change color in different light and with different moods. Sometimes they were a light blueish gray, Tim thought, sometimes so dark they were almost navy. Often there was a hint of jade green in them, and occasionally they would be a clear, sky blue. He meant to go to a paint store one of these days and see if he could match up the colors with any on the charts....

"So, you were going to tell me about your dream, Tim." Chris' genteel voice puncturing Tim's train of thought.

"Oh, yeah, right. Okay," Tim said, swallowing some juice and clearing his throat a bit. "It started off with Gee running for Mayor, see, something about a drugs policy.."

"Does Giardello have any political ambitions that you know of?" Chris asked.

"Well, no. Outside the BPD? No, not that I know of. But anyway, he's shot and then that's when it gets kind of weird and complicated. Everyone I've ever worked with in Homicide gets a call and comes back to work the case. Even people who haven't been there in years." Tim paused a moment as he tried to recollect the rapidly fragmenting details of his dream and articulate them into something remotely coherent.

"Well, I was fly-fishing when I get a call on my cell-phone.."

"Fly-fishing, huh? We *have* always meant to get around to that," Chris' eyes twinkled mischievously.

Tim flashed a grin at his lover, then pulled on his lip as he spoke. His statement flattened as he continued.

"The weird thing was that Frank wasn't working Homicide anymore. Neither was Munch. I don't know where Frank was supposed to be. Teaching college somewhere -- maybe New York or maybe here at Loloya. Actually, I think both of them were in New York, but I dunno."

Furrowing his expressive dark eyebrows, Chris pondered the Jungian significance of New York.

"And Kay, was, er, well..she wasn't lieutenant anymore. I don't...No! That's right. *Gharty* was! I dreamt *Gharty* was lieutenant!" The volume of Tim's voice kept rising and it exploded with emphasis on each repetition of Gharty's name.

Having met both Kay Howard, whom he considered a friend, and Stuart Gharty, whom he considered a slob, Chris nearly choked on his coffee laughing. "And after Kay went through so much crap to get that promotion," he said good-humoredly.

"And," Tim chortled, "Jason Priestley was there."

That sent Chris into spasms of snorts and laughter.

"At least it wasn't Tori Spelling. Now that, my friend, *would* have been a nightmare," Chris managed to gasp. He was laughing so much that his eyes were shut and his face was all crinkles, dimples, lips and teeth.

Forcing himself to regain some composure, he added in a more serious tone, "Ya know, Priestley was pretty damn good in "Love and Death on Long Island."

"Yeah, he *was* good in that. Anyway, everybody I've ever worked with was there," Tim repeated. "I mean, *Bolander*!" Tim was on a roll now as he swept his arm wide in one of the clumsy gestures that Chris adored.

"I haven't seen that guy in something like six years. And Julianna Cox and Brodie - I've told you about him, right?"

Nodding and smiling, Chris remembered the story Tim had told him about Brodie of no-fixed-abode. Oh, and he remembered Julianna Cox, too. Chris stopped smiling.

Tim paused and took a big bit out of his eggwhites. "Mmm. This is really good, Chris."

"Probably just saying that out of habit," Chris thought. "He knows how important it is to compliment my cooking. I've trained him well." He smiled at Tim and winked.

"Well, so far, Tim, it sounds more silly than nightmarish. Um. Was *I* in this dream?"

A pall of loneliness shadowed Tim's face. "Er, no. No, you weren't."

His voice lowered as he reached out and touched Chris' hand.

"No. I felt as though I was completely alone and I had been for a very long time." He looked lost and serious, too serious for a moment. It made Chris' stomach flip and he tightened his grip on Tim's hand when their fingers entwined.

"You remember that nightmare I had maybe eight or nine months ago?" asked Tim, gently extricating his hand from Chris' and placing his fingers flat on the table before him.

"Which one, Tim? You know, you have quite a repertoire," Chris quirked his mouth up teasingly, trying to bring some levity back into the conversation.

"The one about the guy video streaming his murders over the internet."

"Oh, yeah. Bound and gagged 'em and murdered them on other people's home pages or whatever." Leaning in, Chris looked earnestly into Tim's melancholy brown eyes.

"Didn't we discuss this, Tim? That was just an episode of "Millennium" replaying in your head. You've got to stop letting TV shows affect you so much." He laughed a little and was relieved to see that Tim did too.

But then Tim's statement turned so dark that it was almost unfathomable. There was genuine pain in his eyes as he lowered them and continued.

"But towards the end, after Frank and I got Gee's shooter to give it up.."

Chris again couldn't help but be amused, which Tim acknowledged by looking up at him through his eyelashes and narrowing his eyes, letting them twinkle just a bit.

"Well, last night, I dreamt that I was supposed to have killed that internet guy - Ryland, or Leland, or something. I mean apparently I *executed* him in cold blood." He looked away, creasing his brow.

"In that other dream, I *wanted* to kill the guy but I don't remember dreaming that I actually did it, if you know what I mean." He pursed his mouth in contemplation and glanced back at Chris, who nodded.

Actually, Chris *wasn't* sure he knew what he meant, he was getting a little confused. But having known Tim for more than a couple of years, he had gotten used to sometimes losing a thread or two in the conversation.

Tim didn't say anything for a moment, but Chris could see that this was really bothering him and that it was best to get him to forge on and get it over with.

"So, what happened, Tim? What was it that was so bad?" he asked tenderly.

Tim pressed his lips together and let out a long breath.

"I was on the rooftop with Frank and I *confessed* it to him. I made this big confession about how I was a murderer and I couldn't live with myself and I wanted him to forgive me, or er, absolve me or something like that. But he wouldn't - he said he couldn't - and I just wanted to die -- I wanted to eat my gun --so he has to turn me in and I dunno after that."

"Jeez," thought Chris, "there's some pretty heavy stuff here. Is Tim still feeling guilty about having to shoot that homeless guy last year? Well, of course he is, you *idiot*," mentally kicking himself.

He had been in love with a cop all this time and he still didn't really know what it felt like to do the job that Tim did. Standing over mutilated corpses everyday: men, women, children. Suicides. Then one day having to kill someone yourself? What the hell kind of job was that? His own experience of finding Alan's body had been bad enough. He couldn't imagine doing that for a living. He *had* understood when Tim had considered quitting after shooting Moss. Part of Chris would probably always wish that he had.

As for Pembleton, Chris had learnt the hard way, a long time ago: don't go there.

Tim was just idling with his fork now, head down, looking like a little boy.

"You know, Tim, you probably still have a lot of guilt about shooting Larry Moss and maybe some unresolved issues about being shot yourself. Your dream was probably just an statement of that," said Chris.

"Oh, *that* came out well," Chris silently rebuked himself. "Sound like a fucking first year Psych student. At least I didn't lay it on about his childhood or Ade..."

"Adena was there," Tim said quietly.

"Oh, shit," Chris thought. He could feel himself grimacing even as he struggled to keep his statement neutral.

"I dreamt at the end that Gee died and he was in the old squadroom, the coffee room with the others: Crossetti, Felton and Adena." He said this last name with such sadness and reverence.

"Hmm. The Big Coffee Room in the Sky, huh? I *could* make a joke about that," mused Chris to himself.

But he didn't, because Tim looked too miserable and so beautiful. His appearance so overwhelmed Chris that he didn't know what to say, so he decided to let actions speak louder than words.

He got up and moved over to Tim, indicating to him to push his chair back. Chris sat down on Tim's lap, straddling Tim's legs. He caressed Tim's face and hair, stroked his neck and encircled his arms around his shoulders. When he pressed his lips and stubbled skin against Tim's ear it made Tim quiver and release a tiny gasp.

"It's okay, Tim. I'm here. It was just a dream," he murmured, his low voice vibrating softly through Tim and his hand running down the right side of Tim's back.

"I know," whispered Tim, almost inaudibly. He touched Chris' face with the fingers of both hands, gently bringing it in front of his own. Their lips and the tips of their tongues brushed together sweetly for a few moments before locking in a long, fervent embrace.

Enshrouded with everything that was his lover - his taste, his scent, his body, his touch - Tim felt the nightmare, with all its anguish and guilt, gently evanesce. Soon the only thing that was corporeal, that truly mattered, was the love and desire he felt for the man he held in his arms.


Tim was standing in the hallway by the front door, pulling on his heavy overcoat and scarf to brace the cold outside. Chris hovered, watching him thoughtfully.

"You going to be okay?" he asked.

"Yeah, yeah," replied Tim too quickly. He smiled and bent his head down, pressing his nose into the dimple of Chris' cheek. "Yes. I will be *now*," he teased.

Chuckling, Chris ran his fingers down Tim's tie and then reached up and straightened the knot.

"Take care, you. Okay?"

"Yes. I'll take care. I always do," said Tim with a poker-face. "Except when I'm throwing myself in front of flying bullets and getting shot in the back."

Tim beamed playfully, biting his bottom lip, although Chris feigned a scowl.

"I'll call you when I can," Tim said.

"Yeah, I know the drill," answered Chris.

They kissed on the lips and hugged briefly. Then Tim opened the front door, hunching his shoulders at the sudden onslaught of frosty air and reluctantly walked out.

Through a window, Chris watched until Tim got into his car and drove away. Finally, turning around, he made his way back to the kitchen, pausing briefly to look into the study at The Zodiac's accounts nestled on his desk. Even though it was his day off, he knew he'd end up doing the restaurant's books. In the kitchen, he stared for a moment at the morning's debris before moving towards the sink to clean up.

Just another Monday, he sighed.

The End