Prompt: Presumed Dead
Fandom: Billy and Phyllis (Philly)
Title: Last Day
Author’s Note: Special thanks to Erin @gina_tognonifan for the idea that got this one shot off and running! You’re amazing!
Why did it have to be raining? Was her life not bad enough? Phyllis growled as her heel sank into the saturated ground. She glanced up at the sky, “Really?!”
She pulled at the shoe, freeing it again and hobbling slightly closer to the side of the road. She’d scream, but there’d be no one to hear her. She’d cry, but there’d be no one to comfort her. She stepped back a bit as she saw headlights approaching, she waved her arms wildly, hoping they’d stop. They flew by, slinging water on her as they passed. Phyllis sighed. Not even a stranger wanted to help her tonight.
Tonight had truly been the perfect ending for the day she’d had. Jack had presented her with his newly naked finger, Ashley had declared her no longer family, and Billy……
Billy had been right. It killed her that he knew her so well. That he could read her thoughts, her expressions, her every desire. She wanted to want Jack, but the truth was, she didn’t. She hadn’t–not for a long time. Billy made her happy. He had before and he would again–if she’d let him let. Even when he wasn’t trying, he made her life better. She missed that–missed him. Fighting her feelings for him was growing more difficult with each passing day and, as she stood on the side of the road in the mud and pouring rain, she wondered why she was even trying.
“Club soda,” Jack mumbled as he took a seat at the bar. The breath left his body in a long sight when the bartender sat the glass in front of him. A glass of club soda should come with a flashing neon sign that reads ‘I have a drinking problem’ he thought, as he stared down at it. He’d give anything for a real drink–something to numb his mind, dull the pain…something to help him forget the fact that he was going home to an empty house and an empty bed…again.
“Jack.” Billy stepped up to the bar.
“Tonight is not the night, Billy. I don’t want to talk to you. I don’t want to see you. I don’t even want to be in the same room with you.”
“It’s a small town, Jack. We’ve got to figure out a way to deal with this..some way to coexist without.”
Jack spun around, his mouth opening in anger as he felt a hand on his shoulder.
Jack turned to see Paul behind him. He sighed. “This isn’t police business, Paul. This is a family matter. We…”
Paul raised his hands to stop him. “It’s not about that, Jack.” He took a deep breath. These were the nights he questioned himself–the moments he wondered if the good he did outweighed the bad. “Look–there’s no easy way for me to say this.”
Jack stood up, aware of the somber tone and taking note of the other officer’s presence. “What’s this about?”
“We need you to come with us.” He looked at Jack for a moment before his eyes moved to Billy. He stood, anxiously waiting for his response. It was impossible to gauge how either man would react to this. “We got a report of an accident about an hour ago off route 327. We ran the plates. It’s Phyllis’ car.”
“Is she alright?” Jack asked, his hand clutching the bar, his face taut with worry.
“Where is she? The hospital?” Billy moved to rush past the men, but Paul reached out, his arm stopping him, his eyes answering the unasked question. “No,” Billy whispered. “You’re not saying. She’s not…”
Paul lowered his eyes for a moment, then turned to speak to Jack. “I’m gonna need you to come down and see if you can identify the body. The car was on fire when the rescue team go there, so we aren’t able to…” His voice faded as he saw Jack run his hand over his face.
“We thought maybe you would be able to identify some distinguishing marks, scars, something like that. We also found some personal affects–a purse, a phone, and a bracelet. We’d like you to take a look at those.”
Jack nodded. This wasn’t real. It couldn’t be. He’d said horrible, hateful, hurtful things to her and he’d meant them in that moment, but he’d never planned to stay angry forever. He couldn’t erase the years they’d spent together–no matter how hard he tried and now…now he might never get the chance to rewrite their ending, to change what their last moment looked like. That wasn’t possible–it couldn’t be.
“I want to go.” Billy stared at him, his eyes desperate. “I need to do this. Jack, please.”
“You will not go anywhere near it. If Phyllis is dead this is your fault. You need to sit here and deal with that.” Jack stood still for a moment, staring into his brother’s eyes as the words sank in. He walked past him and out the door as Paul followed.
Billy reached down and turned off the radio. He didn’t need the noise. Normally he welcomed the distraction–anything to help drown out his thoughts, but tonight nothing could help him. The songs only made it worse. Each and every one reminded him of her, of their time together, of the memories they made, of the life they could have had. It couldn’t end like this. He’d promised her–he’d promised that wasn’t the way their story ended–their love story. That was what kept him together. She wasn’t gone. She couldn’t be. He’d feel it. That much he was certain of.
He leaned forward, using his hand to wipe the fog from the inside of the glass. The night air coupled with the rain made for unpleasant driving conditions to be sure. At least he had a car to drive he thought, as he slowed for the pools of water laying alongside the road. Better than the poor soul trying to catch a ride in this mess. He moved closer, his heart beating a little faster as his headlights honed in on her.
Phyllis stood still for a moment. Plenty of cars like that existed, but not many had the same vanity license plate on front. Her breathing quickened as the car slowed. She didn’t move as she watched the wheels leave the pavement, drift to the side of the road, and stop. The window came down slowly.
“Phyllis.” For a moment, he couldn’t believe it–couldn’t allow himself to entertain the fact that she was there in front of him.
She couldn’t speak. Her lips chattered. She was soaked to the bone and the setting sun had really dropped the temperature.
Billy got out of the car quickly walking around to her, taking off his jacket and wrapping it around her. Her squeezed her shoulders gently. “You’re here,” he whispered. She could hear the emotion in his voice though it was too dark to see his face.
He reached to open the passenger side. “Here. Get in.”
“I’m soaked,” she protested. “I’ve got mud all over. It’ll ruin your…”
“I don’t care. I don’t care about any of that.” He shook his head, pulling her close against him. “My God…do you have any idea what we thought?”
Phyllis stared at him, her eyes blank. “What you thought about what?”
He could hear it in her voice–the confusion. She didn’t know. “Let’s get you warmed up first.” He closed the door and returned to the driver’s side, cranking the car and turning on the heat.
She smiled as he took her hands in his rubbing them gently.
The console lights provided just enough light for her to see his eyes, the shiny glaze of tears in them a clear indication that much more had gone on tonight.
“Billy-what did you mean earlier, when you asked if I knew what you thought?”
He touched her face. The sight of her was still almost overwhelming. “Paul came to the club and told Jack that there had been an accident in your car.”
Phyllis took a sharp breath.
“It was your plates. The woman driving…she didn’t make it and they wanted Jack to come in and…” Billy shook his head. The thought was still too much. Even now, even with her sitting I front of him, the idea that it had even been a thought made him sick.
“So we thought…I thought…you were…” He leaned in kissing her forehead lightly. “Thank God you’re ok. Thank God.” He didn’t want to stop touching her. Keeping her close, preferably within arm’s reach was his new goal for the night–maybe forever.
There was so much to tell–she wasn’t sure where to start. “I stopped for gas at a station and this man came up to me. His wife was with him and he told me they were traveling and they needed directions. He asked me if I’d write down the directions so I stepped away to where he was and that must have been when she jumped in the car. My phone, my purse–everything was in there.” She shook her head. “I was so damn stupid.”
“No…no you weren’t. You were trying to help somebody…nothing stupid about that and…if you hadn’t done that, you might not be here, so I’m glad this happened.”
Phyllis leaned back, her eyebrows raised, “you’re glad I was carjacked and left stranded in the the middle of the night in the pouring rain? That’s nice…” She turned away, feigning anger.
“Hey,” he whispered, teasing, “I’m glad you needing rescuing. I kind of like saving you.”
She turned back towards him. She knew he was about to kiss her. This was the moment–the choice–push him away or continue the fairy tale. “I kind of like it too. You’re an unconventional white knight, but I think you’re perfect for me.”