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A Tangled Web Chapter Seven: Today Will Die Tomorrow

Title: A Tangled Web Chapter Seven: Today Will Die Tomorrow
Fandoms: Cold Case
Author: tyhyin
Pairings: Jimmy Bruno/Sean 'Coop' Cooper, Jimmy Bruno/Eileen Bruno, Owen Murphy/Joan Echols
Disclaimer: I don't own Cold Case or the episode 'Forever Blue', this is just for fun.
Summary: It's the fifth time Coop dreams about dying that he gets the whole picture..
Spoilers: None unless you haven't seen 'Forever Blue'
Ratings: PG-13
Authors Note: Comments=Love

Chapter Seven- Today Will Die Tomorrow

It's the fifth time Coop dreams about dying that he gets the whole picture and Jimmy is asleep next to him. Jimmy was supposed to be helping him re-paint his apartment. Coop didn't even own paintbrushes. Even though it's been a month since they first kissed they have yet to actually have sex. It is a rarity that they have time alone at all, Coop has a sneaky suspicion that it's Eileen's doing. That night they had just rutted wildly against each other punctuating each grunt or moan with fevered kissing. Afterwards Jimmy, always the stickler for cleanliness, had cleaned them up and once that was done had promptly collapsed on top of him not to be budged. That’s how Coop fell asleep.

He opens his eyes and the scene before him flickers like the picture from a television, he is in the patrol car lot. Usually when he dreams he is under a viaduct and a shadowy figure walks out and shoots him twice, he hears Jimmy’s voice over the radio telling him to hold on then he wakes up. This dream has started from the beginning.

He is stood leant against his patrol car trying not to look like he is watching Jimmy talking to Thompson when McCree walks over to him and says "You two sit close to north Philly tonight, we've been getting armed robbery calls from under the bridge."

The response lefts his lips without them actually moving "Send the bad guys."

McCree laughed low in his throat and that alone scared Coop and when he said "I'll try to scare some up for you." he almost choked.

McCree walked away and as Jimmy walked to join him Owen brushed past him and whispered something to his partner that he couldn't hear. Owen was by Jimmy side one moment and the next he's gone leaving Jimmy frozen with a look of terror on his face. Coop is severely confused.

Jimmy slowly walks up to him and Coop gestures with towards the car with his hand "You getting in or what?"

Jimmy looks nervous as he says "Think I'm gonna take out a rookie." and Coop thinks he's joking but when Jimmy doesn't laugh with him his face too sombers.

His "Serious." is met with a "Yeah." Coop shrugs, he figures they can't spend every second of everyday together even if that's all he wants.

He says "I'll pick you up some beer and meet you after." and turns to get in his car.

Its as his hand is sliding over the metal of the handle that Jimmy says "I can't make it tonight." Coop's heart stops, this is what he's been dreading. Jimmy realising that being with him is too much trouble than it's worth.

He tries not to show it when he asks "Why not?" Jimmy stands with his hands on his belt for too long before he answers.

"Maybe it's time for a change." Jimmy is pleading him with his eyes and breaking Coop's heart at the same time.

He manages to say "What kind of change?" around the lump in his throat.

"I wasn't thinking right when we talked. I haven't been right for a long time." This dream has suddenly become a nightmare thinks Coop.

He says "What's going on Jimmy?" and hopes it's all a joke.

Jimmy’s response did not enforce that theory "I'm not gonna be making over your place no more. You should get a new partner" Coop thinks he knows what set this off in Jimmy, fear.

"You afraid?" he asks and this time he sounds resigned.

Jimmy shakes his head and says "It's got nothing to do with that" but it's too rushed to be the truth. Coop tries to edge closer to Jimmy but the brunette places the car mirror between them.

"I'm afraid too." he says because by all that is holy he is. He loves Jimmy and he knows it's dangerous. He's seen men put in jail for this, seen men killed for this.

But if he tries to stop it'd be like ripping his own heart out. Jimmy looks at him, his eyes sad, a message he can't decipher and says "Look, I gotta get going." He turns and Coop feels his heart being tugged with him.

"Jimmy don't go, please." he pleads and the sound of his own voice cements the feeling of loss.

When Jimmy just looks at him he says "We're the lucky ones, remember." Jimmy turns away so his face is obscured and when he turns back it is schooled into a neutral image.

His words however belittle his facial expression when he says "I think you got it wrong there, I aint a queer."

That is when Coop really dies. He can't stand to watch Jimmy walk away so he yanks open the car door and gets in. He starts the engine and is out of the yard as fast as he can. He doesn't see Jimmy falter or hear him shout his name so he drives to the viaduct. In the back of his lucid mind he knows that he will die under the viaduct but he doesn't care. Jimmy has killed him already. Coop has always prided himself in being a good cop no matter what. So when dispatch sends out a report of a armed robber loose on foot near the East Inn and Diamond he responds to it. He's only a block away. He drives to the alleyway under the viaduct pushing every thought and feeling regarding Jimmy Bruno into a locker in his head. A big locker. He needs to be focused.

When he pulls up under the arc of the bridge he does it calmly with eyes searching for his killer. Putting the hand break on he sits back ready to get out of the car. In his previous dreams he has died leant against a wall, flat on his back and in one particularly gruesome recollection plastered all over his cars windscreen. Maybe it's the fact that he knows it's there is the reason why he doesn't see the shadow spring fourth and shoot him in the chest. The windscreen shatters and a round hole is left to match the one in his chest. He's suddenly very glad that Jimmy already killed him otherwise this would have hurt a lot more. As it is he feels like a red hot poker in the shape of a circle is being forced into his chest and back out with every beat of his heart. The shadow steps under the light of a streetlamp and turns into McCree, who shoots him steps closer and shoots him again. Great he thinks, now there's two red hot pokers in his chest. McCree leaves. Coop tries to gather his breath but every breath he takes in leaks out of the holes in his chest before they get to his lungs.

He grabs the radio and making sure he's holding the button down rasps into it "Officer down, east end of the bridge at Diamond. I've been hit, two shots out of nowhere." McCree doesn't deserve jail.

Blood is trailing down his face as he presses the button and says "Jimmy you out there?" and he hears "I'm here man, hang on." almost immediately. Talking is sapping his life away but he needs to say this.

Jimmy voice over the radio, crackly, says "Coop!" and he replies with a gasped "Jimmy" hating how blood follows the words up his throat.

"Keep talking, we're almost there" echoes around him followed by "You hear me?" and he'd laugh if it didn't hurt so much. They're not gonna make it in time.

Jimmy shouts his name again and Coop responds "We were the lucky ones, don't forget that."

It is as if the words carry his life away with them over the radio waves. He dies hearing Jimmy shout his name with panic around the edges and his final thought is "He didn't mean it."

Coop eyes are open as he sits there with little streams of blood flowing down his face as he waits for someone to come find his body. He is glad when it's not Jimmy and the rookie that arrive first. Instead it is car 110. Coops eyes are fixed on the exact spot where the rookie pulls up and Jimmy is out before the car stops. If not for the rookie and another officer Jimmy would have run at him, covered himself in blood and contaminated evidence Coop knows isn't there. Outed himself into a world where Coop couldn't protect him. As he stares at Jimmy crying with dead eyes and Jimmy stares back the viaduct fills with officers and crime photographers‘. They take several photos of him from different angles as if looking at him from above his left shoulder looking down will make him look less dead. Two men lift him out of the patrol car once swabs have been taken and 'evidence' bagged, Jack Simmonite and Kurt Adams he thinks. They're gentle with him lifting him so as not to jolt his injuries. He knows he is dead. Jack closes his eyes with a brush of his fingers and the world is extinguished. They must have put him in a body bag but he can't remember that or the journey to the morgue. All he knows is that mortuary slabs should be cold but the one under him is toasty compared to his skin. A young woman takes his clothes off and he'd blush if he had any blood left. A little sheet is placed over his groin and a man with white hair removes the bullets from his chest. He hears them ping as they're dropped into a metal bowl.

Someone puts a sheet over him pulled up so as it cover his face. He lies there staring up at white cotton for what feels like an eternity unable to lift his hand and throw the sheet off. Then he hears the door open and a set of footsteps enter. His eyes are closed but he can still see. The owner comes into view and Coop's eyes would widen if they could. It is Jimmy, but a Jimmy who looks as if he is dead too. Tears land on his face as Jimmy stands over him and Coop is glad he leaves them there. He is caught off guard when Jimmy's lips meet his. They feel as if they're on fire, burning against his stone cold ones. Jimmy whispers "I love you Coop, always have." into his mouth and then straightens up to his full height. A hand is ran through his hair before Jimmy leaves his eyes and the sheet is replaced.

The dark created by the cotton over his eyelids comforts him for all of a second before he is itching to move, move anything, a little toe even. Time has dissolved for him so he doesn't know how long it is before two sets of footsteps enter the room. Someone lifts the sheet from off his face and his vision fills with his mothers face. Her face is marred with tear tracks and her eyes are puffy. She gasps and steps closer to him, her mouth moving as if she is talking but Coop can't understand what she's saying. He hears another voice answer her and then she leans down and kisses his forehead. Now she's close to his ears he can hear her when she says "My brave, brave boy." His heart clenches and he feels it begin to pump blood again, feels his veins swell with it. He is still cold but the blood brings control back to his extremities. With a sweep of her thumb over his cheek Charlotte Cooper turns and leaves. The sheet is replaced on his face and he is alone again.

What he thinks is a minute passes by and he slowly starts to move. His face un-freezes and he blinks to alleviate the sudden dryness that grips his eyes. Wiggling his fingers he hopes it means he can move. Lifting his arm he grips the sheet above his hand and pulls it off. He is naked and very pale. Avoiding looking at the two holes in his chest he instead searches for his clothes. They're folded into a neat pile on a table in the corner. His pants are un marked apart from a few flecks of dried blood but his undershirt and uniform shirt have two large holes in the chest. He puts them on anyway. Not sure whether he is a ghost or a zombie he plays safe with clothing. Just as he is about to leave the steel door opens and the same woman walks in that undressed him. When she doesn't scream but instead walks through him he sways more to the ghost idea. In the doorway he sees the woman re dressing him and this time he thinks he does blush.

As he stares his body and the woman fade away along with the room replaced by a church. The church where Charlie was baptised in if he recalls correctly. Sunlight shining through stained glass leave green and blue shapes on his face. He is happy. God touches him through the Sun. He stands in the light, until he hears an organ start playing. His brow furrows, the notes of the Funeral March ring off the stone walls around him. Realisation dawns on him and he turns around to see people occupying the pews. His mother is there, she is sobbing into her handkerchief. His father is sat at the back, they are not sat together. Coop hopes his mother can finally be free. A few guys from the station are there. Owen is there with Joan. McCree is absent. Most importantly Jimmy is there, he is crying silent tears. There is an old black woman sat next to him, his hands are clenched tight around hers. She is trying to soothe him. Eileen sits on the other side, her face akin to a statue. Mary is weeping openly, making little pained sounds that shoot to Coops heart. Jason is staring right at him and for a moment Coop thinks he can see him but then he sees the vacant look in the boys eyes. Jason is staring at Coops body where it lays in an open casket the red of the lining offsetting his pale skin. Someone, probably his mother has dressed him in his best suit. It is strange to look upon yourself, Coop feels like his twin has died and not him. There is not a mark on his body, every one carefully hidden. Father Mac is at the front, his eyes covered with a film of sad tears. He is talking about how much a good man Coop was, a good son, a good friend, a good cop. Coop almost hears Eileen shout 'Ha!' in her head. The eulogy echoes the one the priest used at Eddies funeral that Coop darts a glance to Owen, he is rubbing Joan’s shoulder murmuring silently to her. Coop is still looking at his dead body when he hears Father Mac say Jimmy's name and he swivels around to see why. Jimmy is at the altar now, politely clearing his throat, he looks at the coffin to his left and begins to speak.

"When I first met Coop I thought he was an ass. When I was assigned his partner I thought it'd be like policing with a caveman, in ways it was." A small smile lit his lips. "We didn't become friends until our second week as partners. It wasn't anything heroic, he just asked me if I wanted to go back to his place and get absolutely bladdered. A man drinks with his friends after all. Coop was hot headed, proud, stubborn and an idiot at times but he was my best friend. I should have been with him under that bridge and for that Coop I am so sorry. Coop, you were the person I could turn to when I was in over my head with my kids, when I wanted to get drunk, or when I just needed a laugh. I know I realised this too late but you were right Coop, we were the lucky ones."

Jimmy retakes his seat and the elderly black woman says "Bless you, child." just loud enough for Coop to hear. Father Mac retakes the altar and tells everybody that it is there last chance to say goodbye to him before he is laid to rest. A line forms in front of his open coffin. His mother just kisses his forehead and turns away, she said her goodbyes in the morgue. Serge, his father is wearing a look of shock, as if he still can't believe Coop is dead, he touches the wood of the coffin and whispers "I'm so sorry son." What is his father sorry for and why thinks Coop but then Jimmy is revealed when his fathers turns. Jimmy touches his hand briefly then moves on, Eileen just stares blankly at him but Coop suspects she'd like to spit on him. Mary gets Jimmy to pick her up so she can place a kiss on his cheek and adorn it with a breathy "Goodbye Uncle Coop." Jason nods at the coffin then lets Owen past. Owen stares at Coop's chest, as if he can see the bullet wounds still seeping blood. He says "I tried to stop him Coop, I truly did." and Joan steers him away. Coop moves from his coffin, stands at the back of the church. He's had enough listening to people say things that he doesn't understand. Everyone is re seated when Coop feels something tug behind his naval and just as Father Mac says "In the name of our Father, Amen." he is propelled backwards through the closed doors of the church.

He flickers back into existence outside an unfamiliar house. A porch wrapped around the front is painted a jaunty blue colour but appearing grey in the dark. A garage sat neatly against the side. The porch light guides him towards the door and he swears he sees it wink at him. The house is as normal a suburban house on the inside as it is on the outside. Coop wonders why he is he is there. In the foyer he stands and decides where to go. He is stood in front of the stairs so he decides to start with them. As he is wandering down the hall he passes a pink nursery with a wide cot in the centre. He smiles at the thought of children, they can see him. He keeps walking his feet seemingly on a mission. He reaches what appears to be the master bedroom. There is a coat hanger on the handle of the wardrobe with a cops uniform shirt on it. The shiny badge pinned to its breast taunts him. The badge says Murphy. He wonders where Owen and Joan are. He walks out of the room, his feet taking up there journey once more. They are leading him back down the stairs but instead of pausing in the foyer as they did at first they lead him to a cream painted door. As he draws near he hears grunts and strangled gasps. His feet aren't making the decisions anymore. Sounds like that never mean anything good. He runs to the door and right through it. The room is dim, it appears to be the garage he saw from out front. The grunts come from the darkness within.

He walks blindly into the dark. Near the middle of the room he walks through something hanging from the roof. He jumps when a light is turned on in front of him revealing Owen. He is dressed in a black t-shirt and his work pants. His eyes are ringed with red and he is carrying a step ladder. With horror Coop's eyes land on the object he walked through in the dark. It is a noose. With wide eyes Coop tries to run for Owen. To maybe tackle him to the ground or something. He ends up going through him, the wall behind him and out into the back yard. The moon shines her sympathy at him. He stumbles over his own feet. Once righted he throws himself through the wall. Back inside the garage he goes through Owen's legs. He is already stood on the step ladder, the noose around his neck. "Owen no!!!" Coop shouts but of course Owen doesn't hear. Coop wraps his arms around Owen's legs as close as they can be without passing through. He tries to concentrate, to somehow make himself corporeal. He is there as Owen's foot kicks through him to knock the step ladder away. Coop tries even harder to concentrate. He needs to hold Owen up. Owen gulps a gurgled breathe then all is quite. Struggling he hears an ominous crack and he realises Owens legs are already hanging half in his chest. Owen is dead. Coop lets go and falls backwards hoping he might fall to the centre of the Earth and burn at its core.

He is on the floor when he hears footsteps and someone opens the door. Without moving Coop is on his feet again. Joan is staring through him at Owen, a heavily pregnant Joan. She screams and it leaves her mouth with a sob on it's tail. She runs towards Owen her arms flying around his legs with a screamed "Owen!" and Coop can see her back tense as she tries to hold him up. Her breath heaves and seeing it futile to hold him up she franticly searches for something to cut him done with. Moving her head from side to side she tries to find something, shifting her arms to better accommodate Owen's weight. Her eyes set on a pair of garden shears. Coop can't move, not that he'd be much use if he could. Joan lets go of Owen and goes for the shears as fast as she can. Owen's body visibly lowers. Height betrays Joan’s swiftness, she cannot reach the rope. Tears are falling fast from her face as she pulls up the step ladder. She cuts the rope above the knot and Owen falls. The moment hangs forever as Joan barely catches Owen, she stumbles with him in her arms. Her legs collapse but she doesn't fall, she doesn't want to harm the baby. Slumped against the door frame she cries for an hour with Owens head cradled in her lap.

Coop's feet become unstuck and he walks over to the weeping woman trying to force himself into being, so he can comfort her. Joan looks up and she gulps as she gently slides Owen's head out of her lap and cushions it on the floor with her cardigan. She kisses his lips. Then she pushes herself to her feet and goes to ring for and ambulance even though she knows her husband is dead, hiccupping as she walks. He follows her as she slowly moves from the living room to the kitchen. The ambulance is on its way and all she can do is wait. Coop is with her when the paramedics arrive and Joan points silently to the cream door as it stands ominously at the end of the hall. Two paramedics go down the hall and one stays with Joan. He asks her what happened. She just stares at the clock on the wall as if she is willing the hands to move backwards. One of the men comes out of the garage with a grim face and he asks Joan where the phone is. She nods to the door leading to the living room, the paramedics disappears. The other paramedic in the kitchen abandons all hope of getting her to speak and follows his colleague. Coop can hear them talking in the other room and when Joan grits her teeth as one of them says "Suicide." so can she. After that a patrol car pulls up and Coop is glad to see that it's not Jimmy. However it is Simmonite and Adams who are first on the scene, to once again find a friend dead.

People come and go, Owen being taken out of the house in a body bag. Joan stays where she is, off to the side keeping out of the way. She makes a statement to Simmonite, writing it instead of speaking. Then suddenly it is just him an her in the house. She is all of a sudden, alone. That night she doesn't sleep and the baby inside her doesn't kick once. Coop is bound to the house, by choice and circumstance. He watches Joan as she grieves and wishes he were alive. Sadness gave way to anger, it has yet to pass. He is there five days and counting when Joan finds the letter in a baby book, her name written on the envelope in Owen's messy scrawl. He sits with her in the kitchen as she stares at the letter. He thinks she is too angry at Owen to want to know his reasons. She opens the letter with slender fingers and pulls it out. Unfolding it she lays it flat on the table and smoothes over the creases. Her eyes flit back and forth as she reads. Coop wants to hear what the letter says and Joan reads it aloud not knowing why. The words falling from her lips like lead.

"Joan, my love
If you're reading this than I've got up the courage to end both our suffering. I never thought I was a selfish man but I would not give in 'till I had you and now this. So I guess I am. I haven't been a pleasure to live with have I and I know you have no idea why I changed. I'm sure you remember when it started though. The day Eddie died I broke and the day Coop died I broke anew. I couldn't stop Eddie dying but I could have prevented Coops death. I have never told anyone this and I'm telling you because I know how you feel on the subject. Do you remember Jimmy Bruno? Well he was having an affair with Coop. I saw them and I told Serge. God how I wish I hadn't but I didn't know what else to do. Serge tried to stop it but Coop wouldn't listen. Serge told McCree. You may not know this but McCree hated Coop. Serge wanted us to get some guys to rough him up a little. McCree wanted to rouse a lynch mob. McCree killed Coop. I couldn't stop him.
When Olivia is born I want you to tell her that I love her very much because believe me I do. I couldn't be more happier that you're carrying my child, Joan. But I just can't shake this guilt. When Eddie died it was a combination of you, Jimmy and Coop that pulled me through. I was the reason one of my best friends was murdered. Jimmy has his grief and Eileen to deal with. I'm not saying you're not enough. You are. I just didn't try hard enough.
I've made sure that you will get my pension and that you and Olivia are well looked after. What I wrote earlier is probably presumptuous. I have probably only increased your suffering but like I said I am selfish. You can do whatever you want with this letter. But if you intend to get justice for Coop then let me warn you, Serge is torn up about what he allowed to happen but he still wont allow the Cooper name to be tarnished. He will bury you, love.
I've set you into the same situation you were in when I fell in love with you. I had no intention of doing so. I can apologise 'till I’m blue in the face but it wont bring me back and if it could I wouldn't. I've done this for a reason. I'm sorry I've left you alone to raise Poppy, I'm sorry that I'm not the man you fell in love with and I'm sorry that I'm such a coward but I'm not sorry for killing myself. It was the end I needed.

Love Owen"

Coop was reeling. His father did this. For such a small reason, because he loves Jimmy. Joan wiped tears out from the corners of her eyes with unsteady hands. Standing up she goes into the next room, Coop doesn't follow. He figures he should at least give her some semblance of privacy. A few minute later she walks back in with a metal bin and a box of matches. She places the bin at her feet once she is once again sat at the kitchen table. The letter is in between her thumb and forefinger floating above the bin and she forces them apart. The piece of paper on which Owen confessed his sins floats slowly into the bin. Joan has a match lit before it even hits the bottom. The letter catches alight instantly and Coop watches as words form in the fire. Words of apology and guilt. Joan's hand is on her rounded belly and her eyes are glossy with unshed tears. Coop looks at her than finally he feels the tugging again. He is somewhat relieved, he has just enough time to brace himself before he is dragged down through the floor.

He is pulled back out of the ground, pulled right through Jimmy. He doesn't miss the irony that it's his first time being 'in' Jimmy then he is literally scattered. The feeling of sorrow and self loathing in Jimmy lingers in every bit of him. He gathers again stood out of the way of possible collision with the living. He is guessing Jimmy is out on patrol but he doesn't know where the patrol car is. Jimmy is stood in front of a shop front. Beaumont Groceries is what the sign says. It's the place that got robbed the day before he died. Jimmy must be getting follow up statements. Coop can see him inside now talking to a pretty black girl behind the counter. He walks through the shop window right through a display of pumpkins.
Jimmy says "Hi Poppy." and Coop stops, motionless in the middle of a giant orange squash. He is familiar with this girl, he has been here more times than is necessary.

Jimmy leant against the counter and said "I got some news bout the robbery." causing Poppy's head to turn from straightening the display of cigarettes.

She tried to feign indifference when she said "Oh yeah, what's that then?"

Jimmy just smirks and says "Oh I forget, I think I need something to jog my memory." and he continues to smile as Poppy glares at him. It is a stand off, neither willing to back down.

Then the girl huffs "Fine." and throws a chocolate bar at Jimmy who catches it mid air.

The smirk doesn't leave his face and he says "See that wasn't so hard."

Poppy rolls her eyes and says "Yeah, yeah now spill it pretty boy." Jealousy surges through Coop but then his common sense kicks in, this girl is just that, a girl.

Jimmy stands up and unwraps his chocolate bar and says "The guy who robbed you got into a crash in Germantown, he died." then proceeded to munch on his chocolate.

The girl then said "He deserved it. Threatening my Grandmamma like he did." the feeling behind the words obviously shocking Jimmy as he stopped chewing. Suddenly the hanging beads shrouding the door behind Poppy was split by an elderly woman walking out.

"Hush your mouth child, no-one deserves to die." Coop recognises this woman, she is the one that comforted Jimmy at his funeral. Jimmy swallows what's in his mouth then re-wraps his chocolate and slips it in his pocket.
The old woman doesn't miss it though "I hope you paid for that James Bruno." and Jimmy blushes, actually blushes.

He roots in his pockets and says "Yes Ma'am." as he places some change on the counter. It is now Poppy's turn to smirk as she puts the change in the till. The old woman radiates a feeling of calm, a calm learnt from living. She lifts the partition that separates the back of the shop and stands waiting in between the counter,

Jimmy smiles slightly and says "It's good to see you Astrid." as he walks forward to her. He is promptly enveloped in a bear hug. Shit Coop thinks, that's Astrid Beaumont. She sure doesn't look like a helpless old lady. When Jimmy is released he starts to tell Astrid the news he told Poppy but he is stopped when she raises her hand.

She says "I heard, it happened the day after we we're robbed didn't it?" Jimmy nodded silently.

A great sigh leaves her and she says "That man was a catalyst James, but no man can do great things alone. The blame for everything that has happened lies with more than just him." Coop is confused once again. He wishes that there wasn't great huge gaps in what he understood. He feels like he is reading a newspaper after someone’s made a ransomed note out of it. Words and letters missing. Silence descends on the shop.

With a flurry of colour Astrid says "Enough of the melancholia, let me make you some tea child." and she is back behind the counter.

Jimmy says "Yes please Ma'am." and Poppy begs her if they could please have normal tea this time instead of peppermint tea. The old woman just smiles and walks into the back. Coop follows her, she intrigues him. She moves methodically around the little kitchenette and produces three slightly chipped teacups. He watches her as she goes to the sink and fills up the kettle. She puts three teabags into a teapot.

With her back to him she says "What exactly are you gawking at Sean Cooper?" and turns around to look straight at him. She can see him. His shock hampers his tongue and he can't speak. Astrid smiles and turns to the drawer under the faux marble counter to get three teaspoons.

Finally Coops tongue unsticks from the roof of his mouth and he starts to ask her how she can see him when yet again she talks to him without turning. "Don't bother talking child I don't have the ear. I can see you clear enough though."

The spoons at the ready on the countertop she turns to look at him. "I know all about you Sean, you are a brave young man." the kettle whistles at her and she pours the boiling water into the waiting teapot absently.

Letting the tea steep for a while she turns back to him "What you are seeing doesn't have to happen, you don't have to die. Everything hangs on whether or not the man who held me at gunpoint is in custody by eight pm the day you die. His name is Ronald Turing, remember it child because if you don't you wont find him till it's too late." She pauses to pour tea into each teacup them once they are placed on there accompanying saucers with a teaspoon on the side she turns back to him.

"The James out there is different than the one you remember Sean, he is open about what it is he feels, who he is. He only got that way because I gave him a good talking to but like everything it was too late. You and James have to come take the statement from me, not Officer Mann and Officer Eckstrom. I'll handle the rest." The cups and saucers are on a blue tray and she is at the door before she turns around and looks at Coop

"You sure are handsome child, I can see what James sees in you." and Coop would blush if his blood could still flow against gravity.

"He loves you, and this world doesn't understand it but one day they will and if you keep each other alive you will live to see it." and she is gone back through the beaded doorway.

Coop really wants to believe that all this pain can be avoided. He's seen a lot of it so far and he doesn't think he's anyway near finished yet. Astrid called him brave but he's scared shitless. If he messes this up, forgets Turing’s name then Jimmy will be alone. You can't protect someone if you're dead. He's not afraid of dying, it's the risk he took when he joined the Academy. Jimmy getting hurt or worse killed makes him want to throw the brunette into a fireman's lift and march back to his apartment never to be seen again. But he doesn't think that'd go down too well with Jimmy. It's as he starts comparing himself to Ebenezer Scrooge and these things he is being shown to the three spirits that the tugging starts again. This time he isn't moved, but the Earth is. Places fly past him as if he is on a turbo charged conveyor belt. Starting to get dizzy he closes his eyes and is very glad he technically doesn't have a stomach anymore.

He stops so suddenly that he is jolted forward. He is in the Bruno's dining room and it is tea time. The years have left Coop behind and now Jimmy's hair is flecked with grey. Eileen is the same as he remembers, beautiful but with a few extra wrinkles around her eyes. Jason is in his teens, looks to be going on sixteen and Mary is a pudgy thirteen year old. Charlie is nine and is being as quiet as he is able. Coop can see that both the Bruno children will grow up to be heartbreakers. Just like there father. The whole family is sat around the table in silence. They are silently eating there food not looking at each other. Coop has been invited to enough Bruno family meals to know that this is not normal. Jason and Mary are tense whilst Charlie is oblivious, something is going to happen. Something long awaited and feared. Mary has been moving the same boiled potato back and forth across her plate since Coop got there. She is nervous.

Eileen clears her throat and gains everyone’s rapt attention bar Jimmy who stares at his glass of beer. The tension grows as no-one speaks, a monster pushing down on all of there backs. Mary is the one who buckles.

"Please don't get a divorce!" she shouts a hand flying to cover her mouth as soon as the words have left. Eileen seems puzzled, she thought they hid it well. They didn't.

"Why would you think that honey?" but Mary is adverse to answering, so to is Jason.

It is Charlie who answers with only the blunt honesty a young child possesses "You don't love Daddy anymore.". It is a statement. They all know it's true.

Jason sighs and says "And he doesn't love you either." Eileen and Jimmy are the ones who are speechless now.

Jimmy stutters over the word 'How?' and Mary's face falls into a sympathetic look and she says "Jason saw you and Uncle Coop in the backyard and I just knew." Coop is reeling at the fact that Jason saw he and Jimmy that first night but is insanely happy that he is still their 'Uncle Coop'. Charlie was too young to have known but he doesn't look surprised.

Eileen’s face twists and Jimmy asks "Why didn't you ever tell us?"

Any thought of eating is forgotten as Jason starts off: "At first I was so mad at Uncle Coop and I saw your face the morning after Mom, I knew you'd seen it too. "

He stops and faces his sister who then proceeds with "I kinda always knew Uncle Coop loved you, Dad. Jason told me what he saw when I was ten, Uncle Coop had been dead five years and we both figured you were tying to forget it. That is until Jason found you crying into a glass of whiskey, Dad. You forgot in the morning but you told him how you were a fool to let Coop get in the car by himself. You kept saying you killed him. After that we knew you weren't forgetting about it."

She turns to Eileen and says "Neither were you Mom."

Charlie takes the story up "Jason told me last week. There has been something missing from the both of you. The first thing I remember is how Mom's eyes turned to steel when Uncle Coops name came up." Charlie uses the noun out of respect for a man he should really hate. Uses words beyond his years.

"You both need to be happy and staying together isn't making you happy."

Eileen hates the fact that she has to agree. She and Jimmy will get a divorce, but the damage has already been done. Jimmy will spend the rest of his life alone, grieving and guilty, she will spend it alone because she allowed bitterness to blacken her heart. The Bruno children have saved themselves from lives akin to there parents. The age they will mature in is a liberated one and there is nothing they cannot do. Coop has never loved them more and this time when the tugging returns it feels like it originates from his heart. He is pulled in on himself, into nothingness. Folded even.

Coop unfolds inside a cemetery. Someone else he loves has died and he starts looking for the headstone with a familiar name on it. He stops short when he sees his mother. She is stood in front of a marble tombstone emblazoned with the name 'COOPER', she is crying. It is his grave. There are flowers in his mothers hand, held tight, there are flowers on the grave too. They're Jimmy's flowers, he can tell. He approaches his mother and her weeping slows to slight tremors. She is older and really shouldn't be out in the chill at her age. Coop would hate for her to catch her death visiting his grave. Her hair is white, pure white. He wants to hug her, she is his Mum he needs her. Laying the flowers next to the ones Jimmy left she straightens up with a grunt and a hand on her back.

She starts speaking, breathy words leaving her lips. "He visits more than I do Sean, we both miss you so much. He's told me about what happened between you. How he loves you and if I know my son you loved him. I tell him as such but I think he needs to hear it from you. Now he can't. He and Eileen are getting divorced, took them long enough if you ask me. I think Eileen was hoping that Jimmy would forget you. That woman put herself and Jimmy through so much pain because she couldn't let him go. He blames himself for your death, honey. So does your father."

She pauses and then "But I don't blame Jimmy, he was just scared. Your father was too proud, I blame your father."

Clearing her throat she taps the top of his headstone then walks away. Coop watches her leave and he smiles. At least one good thing came of his death, his mother wasn't wearing her wedding ring. She divorced his father. He is there for a few minutes before he starts to wonder where the tugging is as why he hasn't been ripped asunder yet. He sighs and walks over to a bench, sits down and goes right through to the floor. He sits on the ground with his torso through a bench and waits. The sky overhead darkens and it starts raining, the tiny droplets of water falling through him to hit the bench and the concrete underneath him. He is filled with an intense feeling of cold like he is sat in a industrial freezer. This time he blinks and he is gone.

He opens his eyes and his is in a seedy motel room. He is facing a wall. A guttural moan alerts him to the presence of a bed at his feet. There is a man on his knees, sucking off another man. There faces are shadowed so he can't see who the man is. One has shaggy blonde hair and the man sat on the bed has short brown hair, hair kept in its place. The guy on the bed moans again and his hand grips a handful of the others hair. Coop starting to get uncomfortable when the man on the bed turns his face into the light coming from the streetlamp outside. The face he sees is Tom McCree, albeit and older version. McCree sees him too, his eyes go wide. Coop tries to school his face into a look of disgust but it comes off as disappointment. Coop knows that McCree is queer too. Tom stares at him until the man on his knees elicits a throaty moan and he snaps his head to look down at the head occupying his lap. He closes his eyes and probably pretends he didn't see the man he murdered. Coop toys with the idea of pulling a Jacob Marley and giving McCree the fright of his life. He decides against it. The next thing Coop knows McCree is coming into the poor guys mouth and yelling "Ronnie!" as he does. McCree doesn't look as surprised as Coop is. The blonde guy stands up and wipes his mouth, his face blank. The guy isn't even hard. McCree falls back onto the bed and mutters "The money's on the table." and closes his eyes. The blonde guy grunts and pulls on faded blue jacket. He snags the money and is out the door in the space of one breath. Coop turns to McCree and realises he is asleep. Well that's just great thinks Coop, what's he meant to do now?

Just as he thinks he is going to be tugged out of there he finds himself on a pristinely manicured lawn with two rose bushes flanking him on either side. There is a house in front of him, he is stood at the window that looks into the living room. He looks around him, everything is too bright, the colours too bold. The grass is greener than he has every seen. Through the window he can see a red haired man sat with a little chubby baby on his lap. The baby has a tuft dark hair atop his head and he is chewing on the mans finger. The man says something and McCree walks in with a bottle full of milk. He passes leans down to pass the other man the bottle and gets a chaste kiss in return. When he pulls back his face is split with a grin. This is McCree’s dream Coop realises. A dream within a dream. This is what McCree wants, the same thing Coop wants with Jimmy. Why couldn't he man up and face his fears, then maybe he wouldn't be paying for sex from rent boys. Coop is so angry he kicks the wall in front of him and he doesn't go through it. He must have made a noise because when he looks up McCree is at the window, staring at him with eyes full of fear. Just as quickly as he arrived Coop is once again stood at the foot of the motel bed. McCree is crying, Coop hadn't meant to ruin his dream. Hadn't meant to make him cry. McCree, Tom turns moves so he is lying fully on the bed. Turning onto his side he sobs into the pillow. Coop walks forward, to do what he doesn't know. Comfort Tom hopefully, he doesn't see how he can when he couldn't for Joan but he wants to. It is then as he is a step away from putting his hand on Tom's shoulder when he is tugged again.

He is suddenly at what once was the car lot at the back of Philadelphia Police Department. His old patrol car is next to him and he wonders if cars can be ghosts. It is lacking a big smashed hole in it's windscreen. He looks down at himself, it appears both he and the car have been 'healed' so to speak. He is wearing his uniform as if it were brand new. Suddenly old Jimmy is in front of him, looking at him. He walks forward and as he nears Coop his hair starts to darken and his skin tightens. He is young again. Jimmy is dead. Coop smiles and puts his hand on the bonnet of the 'dead' patrol car. Jimmy returns his smile and puts his hand over Coops. It's the first time Coop has felt warmth in ages. If Coop doesn't fix this than the only way they'll ever be together, he and Jimmy, is when Jimmy dies sixty years after he does. That's far too long a wait for Coop.

He feels the tugging once more and he is pulled backwards, like a paintbrush leaving a trail in the shape of his body. Jimmy's ghost is still smiling at where his head was. The air around him hisses and suddenly he is back in the patrol car under the viaduct. Only everything is backwards. The bullets leap out of him and through the hole in the windscreen, which repairs itself in there absence. McCree steps backwards than walks back into the shadows. Coop's leg twitches and he is awake again his breath coming fast and sweaty staring up at the lampshade he got as a housewarming gift from Owen. Jimmy's arm is tight around him and his head is on his chest. Coop tightens his own arm around Jimmy’s back drawing the man closer. Jimmy grunts and his lips brush Coops right pectoral. That is how sleep reclaims him and for the first time in a month Coop doesn't dream of dying. The next day as soon as he wakes up he writes 'Ronald Turing IMPORTANT!' on the back of his hand. Dream or not he won't let any of it happen.
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