|"I'm so sorry Lindsay," the doctor's voice echoed in her head, "so very sorry."
Lindsay had to get out of the station and fast. Crying was a sign of weakness. Working with a group of burly, macho men had taught her that. Lindsay clenched her fists.
How could he do it everyday? Tell people they were going to die, tell them that in a couple months they wouldn't exist anymore. They wouldn't be able to grab a cup of coffee from Joe's place down the street or get married and after a lifetime together sit contently on the porch swing with their soul mate watching their grandchildren play. All of that, the doctor had taken away in seconds.
No, she had worked too hard earning her spot on the police force to see it taken away in a moment of panic. Her life was falling apart, but whose wasn't? This job was the only thing she had left, and she'd fight tooth and nail to keep it. Even if she had to defy medical odds.
"Make it to the break room," she told herself, "you'll be out of site." Walking through the station, she greeted those she met with a curt nod and a stiff smile.
"Hey good-lookin," Lindsay turned around to see Duke sitting behind his desk, a sly grin on his face. It quickly vanished when he saw the despair in her eyes.
"What is it," he stood up, taking a hesitant step towards her. Lindsay held a shaky hand up.
"J-just need a moment." She left him standing there, dumbstruck, as she reached the empty break room.
There was a soft click as the door shut. That was enough of a barrier and she let her emotions come crashing down. It felt like a truck was crushing her lungs. She couldn't get any air no matter how hard she gasped for breath, and collapsed on the floor.
That's how Duke found her, the wayward, stubborn woman he'd fallen for. The woman who declared she needed nobody, especially a man, looked like she needed somebody. Duke had never felt so helpless, seeing her completely broken. But he didn't know how to bridge the gap, and only God knew how many times he had tried. There was an ocean of unsaid feelings between them.
"Lindsay," Duke said quietly. Her head snapped up.
"Go away Duke."
"No, you need someone," he said as he crouched down beside her, "you need me." Lindsay recoiled from his touch.
"Dammit, let me help you." His kindness was her undoing.
"I don't need you," she screamed, lashing out, her fists hitting his chest repeatedly.
If he had to be the punching bag, so be it Duke thought. Wrapping his arms around her, Duke willed her to finally see that he wasn't like the previous men in her life. Who had been by her side when her mother was dying? Who could she always count on?
If she would just open her eyes. He wasn't like her father or the other men who would leave. He wasn't going anywhere.
"Well, I'm here anyway," Duke sighed, "always will be."
A last feeble attempt. "I don't need you." Her fists fell to her sides as she let Duke hold her. In his embrace Lindsay felt safe, felt alive. Her brown eyes met his deep blue ones. They were a light in the darkness, calling her home.
Lindsay had worked hard to earn her place in this world and the cancer diagnosis threatened everything. The future was suddenly full of the unknown.
"I need you," Duke whispered into her hair. In that moment love eclipsed the pain of the unknown, and Lindsay knew that no matter what happened, Duke would always be there.