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Chapter 21

Days had gone by but Rossum could still hear her words in his head, I think you’ll thank me for this one day. He wasn’t feeling all that thankful as he sat alone in his office staring blankly into his computer screen. He had been doing that since the last time he saw her. Since the last time he walked out of her apartment. Since the last, anger flared fleeting look at her building.

He had done as she asked and called his wife. Lena had been pleased that he was open to a meeting but Rossum had decided it would be too weird to meet at his house, too intimate a setting for what was sure to be an awkward conversation. He, instead, asked to meet at a coffee shop so they could be on equal ground.

The gentle chatter in the shop seemed to completely stop the moment he saw her on the other side of the glass doors. She looked exactly the same. Her strawberry blonde hair fell in light waves around her freckled face. Her green sundress danced around her knees and grasped her waist in a flirty way. But still something about her had changed something he couldn’t quite put his finger on. He gave her a small smile when her eyes finally landed on his and, after ordering a drink, she sat down in the seat across from him.

“Hi…” her voice was hesitant and Rossum knew he should do something to make her feel more at ease, but he couldn’t bring himself to, he just stared back at her expressionless. “Thank you for agreeing to meet with me. I thought we should probably talk.”

“So you said in your message.” He swirled his coffee around in his cup, but abruptly stopped when he realized it was something he had picked up from Addison. “If you want to talk, talk Lena.”

“It’s just the way we ended, it was so abrupt and it feels… unfinished?”

“I don’t know, Leen, when I came home from work one day and you have moved all your stuff out of our house it felt pretty finished.” He drained what was left in his cup and refused to look at her.

“I realize now that maybe I acted a little hastily, but I didn’t know what else to do. I felt stuck and, I guess, I just freaked out a little and needed to get out right away, that day. I knew that if I tried to talk it over with you, or if you contacted me afterwards I would change my mind and nothing would ever get fixed.”

“Fixed? You think this is fixed? It’s not Lena, everything is more fucked up than it was before.” Not everything was Lena’s fault, and he was taking out most of his feelings about Addison on her, but he couldn’t help it, he needed to take it out on someone.

“I understand now that it wasn’t the best way to handle things, but I can’t turn back time, Phillip. I wish I knew now what I did then, but I was young and stupid.” She reached her hand forward and grasped Rossum’s. He allowed the contact, but didn’t tighten around hers.

“But you didn’t wake up one day and realize it was time to contact me. Would you have ever thought about me again if it weren’t for Addison calling you?”

“Would I have ever thought about you again? Phillip I thought about you every day. I wanted to just pick up the phone and call you, but I knew that you would react like this. I knew you would be angry, rightfully so, and I wasn’t ready for that. I admit that I was scared, not of you exactly, but of seeing you, of confronting all these feelings and all of the things that I’ve done wrong. Addison called and that freaked me out. I buried it for a while because I didn’t want to be called out, but I couldn’t ignore this forever, I couldn’t ignore my feelings forever.”

“What about my feelings, Lena. When you left, when you disappeared with just a note left behind, it was terrible. I mean ‘I can’t do this anymore’ how cliché is that? Then nothing. I loved you, I trusted you and you spit all over our relationship, all over everything we had.”

“Phillip, I am sorry for hurting you, but our relationship, if that’s really what you want to call it, well, there wasn’t really much left to spit on. We barely saw each other and when we did you didn’t even speak to me. I was lonely, Phil!”

“Oh, right I forgot, I was the monster in our marriage. I worked too much, I ignored you, I forced you to leave our house and our relationship. I’m to blame so obviously I should just forgive you… no, wait, I should probably be asking for your forgiveness, right, is that right?”

Lena slowly pulled her hand away, “No, of course not, I’m not blaming you for everything, but I’m trying to tell you that I wasn’t the only one who was wrong. I think we both have to accept responsibility for what happened, regardless of who left who.”

“Lena, I can’t apologize for something I’m not very sorry for. I’m sorry that I made you feel neglected, but I’m not sorry for why it happened. My job is important, Lena, I help people with one of the most important things you can help people with. I keep people safe, I get dangerous criminals off the street and if that cuts into my ‘me’ time I guess I just have to deal with that. Innocent people come first.” He saw the tears welling up in her eyes, and let out a sigh, “Lena, I’m not trying to be mean, I just want to be clear with you about where I stand on this. After all this time it’s still just as important.”

“I know that, Phillip, but it’s hard always coming second.”

“You never came second. I was just confident enough in our relationship that I didn’t think I had to reassure you about that every day.”

The tears escaped her eyes and made paths down her cheeks, “Phillip, that’s unfair. I didn’t want all of your attention. I just wanted some of it. A tiny bit of it. I still want it.” The tears took hold of Rossum’s knight in shining armor side and this time he picked up her hand. Her eyes shot to his and their brown held the tiniest bit of hope in them. She lowered her voice to a whisper, “I still love you.”

He looked at her and desperately wanted to take her in his arms. He wanted to tell her everything she wanted to hear and brush her tears away with his thumbs, but even looking at Lena all he could think about was Addison. The way her body curved around his. How her eyes sparkled with mischief. How she let him try to teach her things that she already knew, and might have been better at than he was. Her laugh. Her hair. And for some reason he couldn’t get the memory of the scared little girl that she became on the day she got stiches. In that moment he knew that before he did anything else. Before he made any decisions, he had to speak to Addison one more time.

“Lena, I deeply appreciate how much it took for you to call me, but you’ve had a little bit more time to process this and come to a decision. I just think I need a little bit of time to reflect, is that okay?” He patted her hand lightly and she nodded.

“Yes, of course, and I hate to ask you this because I don’t want to pressure you, but I kind of came here on a whim and I don’t really have anywhere…” she faltered at this, but Rossum knew what she was getting at. He always knew what she was getting at, they had known each other pretty much forever.

“Its fine, Leen, you can stay at my place. It’s pretty small, but feel free to take the bedroom.” He felt a little awkward about it the moment it left his mouth. That was the same bedroom that Addison had been sleeping in, the one they had slept in together the night before. He made a mental note to change the sheets when he got home. He pulled his keys out of his pocket and detached his home key, “here take this and hang out at my place for a while. I just need a couple of hours. Don’t go to bed until I get home though… I think I might need to say some things.”

She slightly pursed her lips and nodded. Her fingertips brushed his hand when she grabbed they key and it made shivers travel down Rossum’s spine. He watched her gracefully pull her purse over her shoulder and walk out of the shop. A shaky breath escaped his mouth and he rubbed his hand through his hair. He wasn’t sure if it was a coincidence or something in his subconscious, but the coffee shop was fairly close to Addison’s building, so close that he could walk.

His stomach twisted and turned as he walked into the lobby. He glanced towards the reception desk and was surprised when he didn’t see Tom smiling behind it. His hands itched to pick up his phone and call her to make sure she was home. To plead with her to reconsider, but by the time he had talked himself out of it he was standing in front of her door like he had a hundred times before. His hand shook as he raised it to knock on the door. They echoed down the deserted hallway, but nothing happened. No one answered. He knocked again, but to the same end. Finally he relented and took out his cell phone. It rang in his ear then he heard it another ring that didn’t sound in his ear, but from inside the apartment. He heard another ring and then her voicemail pick up.

Rossum felt his face flush with anger. He hung up the phone then pounded on the apartment door. “Addison, are you kidding me, I know you’re in there. You can’t just ignore me!”

He waited but heard nothing from inside. He tried the handle, but the door was locked. He decided to try a different route and softened his voice, “Addy, come on, just let me in. a lot of things were said today and I did as you asked, I talked to Lena, but I really need you to clear some things up. I need to talk to you… please.”

As he pleaded with the door he placed his hand and forehead against it. All he needed in that moment was to see her face, hear her voice, and have her tell him that it was alright and that she was there for him, but as time ticked away he realized that wasn’t really something Addison would do. She was more the type of girl to tell him to man up and stop acting like such a child. She wouldn’t hug him or coddle him, she would push him and he wasn’t sure which one he preferred, “come on Addison, just open the door. I need to see you.”

Not a sound came from inside the door, but he waited for a few moments just in case she miraculously decided to change her mind, of course he wasn’t hopeful that she would, and with that resignation his anger was back full force, “Fine, Addison. I really needed to talk to you in this moment and you are just blocking me out. I thought, even through everything that happened that we were still friends and that you would be there for me, but I guess that’s just asking too much from you, Addison, isn’t it? Well, no problem, point received loud and clear. You’re done with me, you’ve had your fun and now you want out. That’s fine, Addison, I’m sorry that I ever cared about you in the first place because it was clearly a colossal waste of time. Have a nice life.”

Those may have been the last words he spoke to her and he may have gone home and talked everything out with Lena, but there was still a part of him that couldn’t turn off the part of the brain that was constantly worried about her well-being. On the computer screen that he was ignoring was a blown up picture of the words he saw on her bathroom mirror. He had been staring at them in one capacity or another pretty much since he found them. What did they mean? He had gone over multiple scenerios in his head, even briefly considering that she was the Tri-Way killer, but dismissed that almost as soon as it had popped into his head. He had, however, done a background search. One would have been done before she started working at the FBI, but maybe there was something they missed, something that wouldn’t be important to them, but would stand out to him. The report had come and gone without much to report. The message was clearly meant for her and her alone, and, if her behaviour at the crime scene was anything to go by, she had seen it and was effected by it, but in what way he couldn’t be sure. She could have been freaked out because this guy had broken into her house again, or she could have read more into, Addison definitely seemed like a girl who had some secrets.

Before he could explore that thought further he noticed a presence at his office door. When he looked up he saw Agent Mortimer with his arms crossed and a scowl on his face, “what did you do?”

Rossum looked around his office expecting to find the intended target, but found himself alone, “I’m sorry, I’m not sure what you’re talking about.”

“I decide to take a couple days off to spend with my wife and kids and when I get back all hell has broken lose.”

“Sir, I’m not following. We have every man we can spare on the new Tri-Way killer scene. He’s devolving and we are searching for a break. It’s unfortunate that we haven’t found anything yet, but I would hardly say all hell has broken loose.”

“We have every available man on it? Then why did I just listen to a confusing voicemail from Addison saying she needs to take some time off? What did you do to her?”

“Why do you think I did something to her?”

“Because she wouldn’t leave unless something happened and you are the only person that she is close to here. It had to be something that happened here because if it were something that happened outside of work it would have driven her further into her work. So, I’m going to ask you again, what happened?”

“Nothing happened, sir, Addison needed some time, I think. When she figures some things out I’m sure she will be back.”

“What did you two put together a script? I want her back now!”

Rossum looked at him condescendingly, “I’m not sure what to tell you. I obviously can’t control her, no one can. I accept responsibility to bringing her here and vouching for her, but I can’t just go to her apartment and drag her back here. She was freelance, he has the right to walk away whenever she wants to and I guess she wanted to.” Having to think about this was making him irritable.

“Well, now I’m sure something happened, Agent Rossum, if nothing had you would be just as frantic as me to convince her to come back. I understand that Addison is a very… alluring girl –”

“–nope, I don’t want to talk about this. Addison is who she is. I’m not frantic to get her back because I know her; I know this is just one of her things. She’ll be back in a week, walking around like she owns the place.”

Mortimer’s scowl softened, “Maybe we should send someone over, just to make sure everything is alright.”

“You can do whatever you want, you’re the boss right, but I’ll tell you right now that I will not be the person making that trip.”

“Got it.” He nodded, but didn’t leave the room right away, “Rossum, if you need some time, yourself… I mean… I will understand.”

“I can’t take any time off. I am actually committed to this case, I can’t just stop working.”

“Whatever helps you through the day. By the way, I heard that you are living with Lena again. I’m happy that you are happy, Rossum, if anyone deserves it it’s you, but you might want to find a way to get past all that anger before Addison gets back. You guys are my go to team and I would like if you could continue on as that after all of this is sorted out.”

“Sir, yes, sir.” He didn’t say it sarcastically; it was more of a defeated tone. It caused Mortimer to cast him a tight smile and slapped the door twice before leaving the doorway altogether. Rossum waited a moment, then stood up and threw a fist into his wall.

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