Previously on Disorderly Conduct: Widower: Emerson investigates the lead of Jane and finds himself at Lee’s house. Not wanting Natalia hurt, he handcuffs her to the steering wheel of the squad car – even when he’s under the belief that she’ll find a way out. Emerson finds out that Joan committed the murders. Along with the fact that Jane, along with the other wives of the victims, were her all along. Joan stabs Emerson and shoots him in the shoulder, and Emerson blacks out before he knows what happens.
Is Joan dead or alive?Click To Reveal Results
Natalia’s foot tapped impatiently, bouncing up and down in hopes that her fears didn’t come true. The quiet hospital practically made her tapping echo, the heel of the black boot clacking with each tap. Her stomach churned uneasily, she had an especially bad feeling about the whole thing.
The steady beat of the heart monitor wasn’t reassuring in the slightest, even when it should’ve been. The doctors had told her that Emerson was going to be fine, but Natalia knew better than to believe them until it was proven that he would be.
Fine was something that people tell themselves they are when they aren’t. Fine was what Natalia was trained to tell herself she was in the circumstance that she got injured in the field. Fine was a sense of hope when there’s not supposed to be any. Fine was what they told Natalia her mom was only days before she died in the hospital.
She didn’t want Emerson to be fine, she wanted him to be okay. Alright. Good. Anything but fine was what Natalia wanted to hear. Because she needed him to be exactly the same as he was before when he finally got out of the hospital. She couldn’t afford to base her hope on fine.
Emerson had a nasal cannula in, connecting him to the oxygen tank beside his bed. On his index finger was a pulse oximeter, controlling the thing that Natalia didn’t want to listen to. He was dressed in a hospital gown, his shirt having been torn off in the ambulance to treat his wounds. A sling held his arm in place in hopes of making it less mobile and allow his shoulder wound to heal without as many issues.
Emerson stirred in his sleep.
“Mackabe?” Natalia asked softly, looking up at the bed hopefully.
Emerson’s eyes fluttered open slowly; he made a face as they adjusted to the bright light. He sighed softly as he noticed Natalia out of the corner of his eye.
“Nat… hey,” Emerson replied quietly, his voice slightly hoarse. He grimaced as he tried to sit up so he could face her properly.
“Whoa, easy there,” Natalia cautioned, holding her hands out to stop him from moving as she stood up. “Don’t over-do it, you did just wake up.”
“What in the hell happened to you, dos Santos?” Emerson asked, his eyes widening slightly as he saw the blue cast on Natalia’s hand.
“Well, in short, I had this partner who decided he didn’t need me even though he actually did, so he handcuffed me to the steering wheel of the squad car. I assume he thought I had a pin or something that I’d eventually get out of the cuffs with… But I didn’t. Not this time. From there, I knew that the options to get out were scarce. Basically, I could shoot my hand off which would’ve made a mess, chew my hand off which would’ve taken forever, or break my thumb and slide out of them which would hurt but I mean, not too bad. There was obviously a lesser of the three evils in that circumstance, wouldn’t you say?” Natalia explained with a soft chuckle.
“Your partner sounds like a jerk,” Emerson commented. His laugh turned into a cough and he covered his mouth with a balled fist.
“Nah,” Natalia replied, smiling slightly. “He was just looking out for me.”
Emerson looked at her knowingly, “Sounds like he needed you a lot more than he thought he did.”
“He did,” Natalia confirmed, nodding. “He got his ass kicked by a psycho serial killer while I was out of the picture. But I suppose I should give him some credit, he did live to tell the tale.”
Emerson chuckled, shaking his head slightly. “So what happened after I was out? Did you get Joan?”
“Um, technically yes,” Natalia replied, her eyes shifting slightly to look at the ground.
“Technically yes?” Emerson questioned, raising an eyebrow.
“We never had the chance to arrest her. She was going to kill you so… So I killed her,” Natalia answered, than frowned. It was bothering her more than she wanted to admit, so changing the subject was all she could really do to avoid talking about it further. “But you should feel lucky that I knew how to shoot left handed. Handcuffing me to a steering wheel? What were you thinking?! You could’ve died if I hadn’t done this!” She held her hand up as she scolded Emerson.
“I’m sorry,” he said softly, interrupting her. Despite the fact that she wanted to cover it up, he knew her well enough to know that she didn’t want to kill anyone. But he wasn’t going to talk about it if she didn’t want to.
“And another thing- Wait, what?” Natalia paused, looking back up at him.
“I’m sorry,” Emerson repeated. “I was out of line. I thought I was doing what was best, but it turns out I wasn’t. So for that, I’m sorry. How’s your wrist doing?” Emerson could see the raw, red lines from the handcuffs around her wrist peeking out from the sleeve of her shirt.
“Could’ve been worse,” Natalia replied, shrugging slightly. “Might be when Matt hears what happened once I get home. But hey, I can handle him.”
“Only you could break your own thumb and say that it could’ve been worse,” Emerson commented, laughing softly.
“You got shot and stabbed, Mackabe, remember? We’re not even remotely in the same pain threshold right now. I definitely could’ve had it worse,” Natalia retorted, chuckling.
“Yeah but I’ve got so much medication being pumped into me right now… I can’t even feel anything. You on the other hand-”
“Couldn’t have picked a better term for that, Mackabe?”
“-Kinda have to just deal with that until it goes away,” Emerson completed. “But, I mean… Knowing you, you’ll find some way to convince them to take your cast off before they’re supposed to; and you’re going to be like eight months when that happens, because let’s face it, you’ll last a month trying to prove me wrong about this. Then once they take it off, you’ll still be trying to solve cases and Captain Bridges will still be trying to convince you not to.”
Natalia laughed, “Sounds about right. But you can’t convince me that you won’t be there every step of the way.”
“That’s true, I suppose.” Emerson tilted his head to the side and nodded slightly. “Unless I go on my – if I do say so myself – well deserved vacation, in which case you’re on your own with whatever poor soul gets assigned as your temporary partner.”
“They’ll quit within the week-” Natalia began.
“The day-” Emerson corrected.
“And that’s if they even agree to it in the first place. I’m hardly under the radar at the precinct,” Natalia added.
“How could you be with Bridges screaming your name every other day?” Emerson finished, laughing.
“And if they somehow don’t know me…” Natalia trailed off.
“Well then they’re in for a nasty shock,” Emerson confirmed. “If you get paired up with someone new, they’ll quit within the hour.”
Natalia laughed, nodding.
Their laughter died down soon after, Emerson stifled a cough. Sitting in a comfortable silence wasn’t new to them, per se. But there was an elephant in the room.
“Did we have it right?” Emerson asked. “I mean, I know that she was insane, but was it actually her?”
Natalia nodded, “Bridges called a little while ago. They found the murder weapon, newly dressed with your blood, in case you care. There was also a room that had costumes, fake IDs and prosthetics for her various aliases throughout the years. They found another book in the house as well, this one spelling out ‘Liam Mitchell Paxton’. We figured she was planning on killing Lee and running with his money somewhere she couldn’t get caught.”
“Jesus…” Emerson mused, absorbing everything that he’d just been told. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, we caught her, I’m all bandaged up, I’m good,” Natalia replied while nodding her head slightly.
“That’s not what I meant and you know that.” Emerson looked at her pointedly, raising his eyebrows.
“Um… It’s going to take a while to set in, but I think I’ll be okay in the long run,” Natalia answered truthfully. “I mean, I won’t be okay with it but I think I’ll be okay once I come to terms with the fact that she’s dead because of me. It’s kind of hard to comprehend, so I’m doing my best. But I’ll be okay. Not looking forward to the paperwork though.”
“You never look forward to the paperwork, Nat,” Emerson commented, chuckling.
“True, but seriously, who looks forward to paperwork?” Natalia countered, laughing.
“Suppose that’s true,” Emerson admitted. “But you’re sure you’re okay?”
“I’m sure,” Natalia agreed, nodding to confirm it.
“And Emerson Junior is okay too?” Emerson asked, cracking a smile as he barely withheld his laughter.
“For the last time-”
“I’m kidding, god! Breaking your thumb sure has changed you,” Emerson teased, laughing. “Seriously, though, how is he?”
“Everything is good, Mackabe, I promise,” Natalia assured. Her mental health might not have been up to par due to killing Joan, but she wasn’t going to admit that. She felt vulnerable when she showed weakness, the last thing she wanted to do was exactly that.
“Are you sure?” Emerson could see right through her, but he knew better than to push too hard. If he could get her to talk, that was wonderful. But if he couldn’t… He didn’t want her to suffer in silence, but sometimes that’s just what she did. Whether it was good for her or not.
“I’m sure,” Natalia replied, nodding.
“So how long are you out for with that wrist?” Emerson asked, changing the subject.
“Month, tops,” Natalia answered, looking at her hand and turning it over to look at the cast. “I don’t think I could handle having this stupid thing on here any longer than that anyways.”
“You’re going to cut it off yourself if they don’t, aren’t you?” Emerson asked, although he figured he already knew the answer.
“You know me so well,” Natalia teased, laughing. “I’ll put it in a box and give it to you as a present, how about that?”
“I think I can do without your stinky cast on display in my house, thank you very much,” Emerson replied, laughing. His cough was progressively becoming more and more spread out, but it was still there, and it was worrying Natalia.
“Are you okay?” Natalia asked.
“I probably can’t lift my arm any time soon, but hey, at least I’m here. Stomach kind of hurts, but that’s kind of to be expected, don’t you think?” Emerson answered. He shrugged slightly but winced and looked over his shoulder. “It’s going to take a lot of getting used to, though.”
“Pace yourself, take your meds and don’t put too much cereal on a spoon at one time,” Natalia advised teasingly. “Trust me, you’ll get used to it.”
“Gee thanks, Doctor dos Santos,” Emerson replied sarcastically. “Can you write that on a prescription for me so I don’t forget?”
“’Fraid you wouldn’t be able to read it if I did,” Natalia retorted.
“Well, that’s too bad,” Emerson commented. He smiled, but quirked an eyebrow before asking, “Nat, can I ask you a serious question?”
“Yeah, course,” she replied, looking up at him.
“How long are you planning on putting off maternity?”
“It’s hard to give a straight answer to that… I love my job. You know that. I want to be at work and helping everyone I can for as long as I can. I don’t want to ever go on maternity, but I’m beginning to think that it’s getting to that point that I’ll have to consider it. It’s just… I mean… I’m so scared about it. I am actually terrified of what’s going to happen. I mean, well, I know what’s going to happen, but… I don’t know what it’s like to be a mother, and I don’t like having to learn things, I just like knowing them,” she managed, sighing softly.
“Yeah, but you have Veronica at home, don’t you? You’re already a mom,” Emerson pointed out, hoping he wasn’t actually treading thin ice like he felt he was.
“But it’s different this time. Veronica isn’t my daughter because we’re not related by blood. Don’t get me wrong, I love her to absolute bits. But this kid is actually mine and I’m so worried. What if something happens to them? Wh-what if I can’t be a good mom because I’m too caught up in my job? Matt will be there, but I need to be there too. I can’t have it both ways. It’s work or bonding with my kid, how am I supposed to decide which I want more?” Natalia asked.
“Nat, your job will always be there for you. Maternity leave doesn’t mean you’re quitting. It means you’re taking a break for yourself and to get that bond. You have plenty of time to be a cop. You gotta know that?” Emerson stated, sounding like it was more a question.
“But what if I’m not good at it? Veronica became my stepdaughter at two years old. I don’t know how to deal with a newborn,” she admitted.
“But your husband does. You don’t think he’s just going to leave you out to dry, do you? He’s going to be with you the entire time. You’re here with him this time around, he raised Veronica on his own. Trust me, he’s a good guy. He won’t just let you try to figure it all out on your own,” he countered.
“Did you just say he’s a good guy? I thought you two hated each other,” Natalia asked, her curiosity piqued.
“Can’t stand the guy,” Emerson admitted with a chuckle. “But that doesn’t mean he’s not a good guy. We just don’t see eye to eye, sometimes.”
“Most of the time,” Natalia corrected. “And I guess that makes sense.”
“And on the off chance he does leave you out to dry, Uncle Emerson will always be there for little Emerson,” he teased. “My nephew – actual nephew, not little Emerson – loves me, so don’t worry. I know what I’m doing, too.”
“I forgot you had a nephew,” Natalia mused.
“For shame, dos Santos!” Emerson cried out with a laugh. “You were there when I had to take care of the kid!”
“Whoops!” Natalia managed, laughing.
“I try to help you and that’s what I get?” Emerson teased.
“You did help, thank you,” Natalia replied, smiling slightly.
“Wait, did Natalia dos Santos just say thank you?” Emerson asked, eyes widening. “Can I get that in writing?”
“Oh, shut up or you’re never getting another thank you again,” Natalia teased, continuing to laugh.
“I probably wouldn’t anyways, Nat. You don’t exactly say it constantly, you know,” Emerson retorted, laughing as well. His cough was practically non-existent from that point. Occasionally he would cough, but it was much less than when he had first woken up.
“Well then, you won’t get one again, if that’s how you want it to be. Fine,” Natalia replied.
“I wouldn’t expect anything less,” Emerson commented, tilting his head to the side slightly to shrug when he couldn’t with his arm.
“Maybe I was trying to turn over a new leaf and you just ruined it for yourself.” Natalia shrugged to pretend she was considering it.
“Natalia dos Santos turning over a new leaf? I don’t think anyone could have predicted this one! Well, folks, let’s see where this one goes!” Emerson commented in the best baseball sportscaster voice he could, causing Natalia to laugh.
A doctor poked his head in the door, looking regretful. Natalia’s heart skipped a beat, thinking that maybe something had come up and Emerson really wasn’t “fine” as they had said before. She gulped.
“I’m sorry, miss, but visiting hours are over and I’m going to have to ask you to leave. You can come back tomorrow at nine if you’d like to continue talking with Mr. Mackabe, but for now, you’re going to have to leave. He needs to rest in order to get back on his feet as soon as he can,” he announced.
Natalia breathed a sigh of relief, at least nothing was wrong. “Yes, of course, doctor, I’ll be right out. Thank you,” she replied, grabbing her coat from the back of her chair and standing up as she slid it onto her arms.
The doctor pushed the door open slightly, leaning against it and holding his arm out to direct Natalia out. Natalia nodded at Emerson, who smiled slightly and nodded in her direction.
Natalia walked out of the room, the doctor closing the door behind the two of them. Emerson smiled slightly and stared at the beige wall in front of him, gazing at the framed picture. There were dark waves cascading into a bright sunset of oranges, purples and yellows. The sky in the photo made Emerson feel calm and tranquil.
He was about to close his eyes when he heard the door creak open again.
Emerson frowned slightly and turned his head towards it. Natalia grinned as she poked her head in.
“Nat? What are you doing?” Emerson asked, eyes widening slightly.
“Well I was about to leave when I realized, I couldn’t do that without telling you something that I need to say…” Natalia trailed off, smiling.
“You’re an idiot. Like, a huge idiot,” Natalia announced. Emerson knew that it actually meant ‘I really am glad you’re okay.’
Emerson chuckled. “The greatest idiot in the world,” he confirmed. Natalia knew that what he really meant was ‘I am too.’
And even when neither of them said what they really meant, they knew that things were back to normal and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
Does Natalia go on maternity leave or does Emerson take his vacation?
If there's a book you really want to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.