The Rocket situation brought to light some of Andrew's less admirable traits, however. He was reckless and impulsive, as opposed to me, who had to think things over first. About the most impulsive thing I'd ever done was have a different breakfast cereal one morning. Okay, so I'd probably done something more impulsive than that, but you get my point. Being a cop, and a well trained and experienced cop at that, Andrew had more money than sense, and I couldn't help but worry that his impulsiveness would run us into the ground. He would buy something on impulse on an almost weekly basis, and it was always something he'd never need or use. He came home once with a card shuffler, despite the fact that he never played card games at mine. I should also point out this card shuffler was to be kept at mine, by his orders. Are you starting to get the picture?

By the time Rocket was allowed to go out for walks, Andrew and I had started making things a little more permanent. He stayed over frequently, and we were in the process of seeing how things would go if he lived there. I'd made it clear from the start that I didn't want him to be a father to the kids. If they wanted to treat him as a father figure, that was their business, but I didn't want him trying to replace Maxxie. He was understanding of it, and agreed with what I'd said wholeheartedly. The only downside, however, was that it meant Danny had absolutely no respect for him. Danny was, for the most part, a well behaved kid, but he had this awful habit of leaving things lying around. I'd asked him to clean up after himself enough times, and while he did try, he did just get sidetracked sometimes. I'd come home from work one day to find him and Andrew at each other's throats, just in time to hear Danny yell at Andrew "You're not my dad." I was ready to intervene when Andrew said calmly "No, I'm not." Danny honestly didn't seem to know how to respond, storming off in silence in the end. The rest of the evening was kind of awkward for everyone; Danny avoided Andrew even more than usual, and if they happened to be in the same room for more than a few seconds, an awkward silence descended on the room. It took a week for things to go back to normal.

Before I knew it, a year had passed. Lily and Danny were only a year away from graduating, and Lily was already thinking about college. Andrew had moved in permanently, and Rocket… Well, Rocket was his usual self. Despite Andrew saying he’d gotten Rocket for me, Rocket was most definitely his dog. I’d come home from work one evening to find Andrew and Rocket in the kitchen, Katy Perry blasting from the stereo. Andrew hadn’t heard me come in, and was busy making dinner, singing along to the music, while Rocket barked along with him. And while his taste in music left something to be desired, it was kind of, sort of, maybe super cute.

Andrew had been spending a lot of time at home, but he always claimed he had the day off, or that he’d been owed holiday whenever I questioned him. I didn’t like to be, but I couldn’t help but be suspicious. After all, how could they forget to give someone nearly two months of holiday? He would frequently complain of migraines and dizzy spells, and more often than not would end up dosed up on painkillers, curled up in bed in the dark, in too much pain to try and sleep it off. I’d never seen him vulnerable until then, and honestly, it scared me a little. Since I’d met him, Andrew had only ever been this tough, macho, protective force, not someone curled up in the foetal position in the middle of the afternoon.

I’d seen him one day when I was at work, and figured he’d come in to see me on my lunch break, but he walked straight out. I didn’t try to follow him, instead deciding to try and find out where he’d been. It took a lot, and I’m fairly certain I was risking my job over it, but I found out Andrew had been for an MRI scan. A quick glance at his medical records, which was technically illegal, revealed something that put me off for the rest of the day.

I got home late that night; both Andrew and the kids were in bed. I went straight up to bed, skipping my usual midnight snack, and slid in next to Andrew, my arms finding their way around his waist like usual. I’d thought he was asleep, but he rolled over in my arms, cracking one eye open slightly.

“Hey” he said tiredly, leaning into me a little. “Good day?”

“An interesting one. I saw you in radiology today”

“Did you?” he said, sounding a little nervous.

I nodded. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Tell you what?”

“Don’t play dumb with me, Andrew,” I said, sitting up. “Why didn’t you tell me you had a brain tumour?”

“I didn’t want to worry you” he said quietly, shutting his eye again.

“Didn’t want to worry me? Andrew, my husband died, how do you think I’d feel if I woke up one morning and you were dead, and I had no idea why?”

I could tell he had a migraine, and I felt bad for having a go at him, but it needed to be said. Maybe I was overreacting, but it felt justified to me at the time. With Maxxie, we’d known there was limited time. Granted he might’ve lasted til he was in his seventies, we still knew he was living on borrowed time. It’d taken me, what, nine years to find Andrew, someone I felt like I could settle down with, someone that could help me get over Maxxie, and I find out he has a brain tumour. A brain tumour was serious business.

“Hadley, can we talk about this tomorrow?” he said, his voice sounding strained.

“No, Andrew, we’re talking about it now”

He winced slightly as he opened his eyes. “It’s benign. I’m having a craniotomy next month, and they’ve said that by the looks of things, they can remove the entire thing”

I lay back down, kissing his forehead. I felt like an ass. “Were you planning on telling me about your operation?”

“I figured I’d pretend I got in a fight” he chuckled.

I smiled. “You’re an idiot. But you’re my idiot”

“I really am sorry I didn’t tell you, but after everything you’ve been through, I wanted you to enjoy being happy for once. I didn’t want Lily and Danny to have to worry about their dad ending up alone again”

“I’d offer you apologetic sex, but given your migraine…”

Andrew chuckled. “Get me some Viagra, and I’ll be ready to go”

“Viagra at your age? You’re slipping, Mr Green” I teased.

“Fuck off” he said, shutting his eyes and smiling as I kissed him.

The End

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