Author: anolinde PM
When Keira Ford left her home at 18, she never looked back. Now a rookie at the SRU, she's done everything she can to bury her past. But when Team One gets a new recruit, she's forced to confront the reasons why she left... and the one she had to stay.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Mike S. & Jules C. - Chapters: 33 - Words: 88,406 - Reviews: 152 - Favs: 56 - Follows: 101 - Updated: 01-24-13 - Published: 07-26-11 - id: 7221234
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: So, I haven't updated this story in about four months. Which is about how long I've been struggling to write this confrontation scene. The problem with having Keira's mother show up at the SRU is, of course, that all the members of Team One are going to be there - which, when you add Brian and Jason into the mix, means that there are a hell of a lot of people to move around on the proverbial chessboard. I still haven't finished the confrontation, and to be honest I have no idea how I'm going to write one particular part of it, but I thought I'd post what I've written so far (since it's a chapter's worth already).
I apologize for the delay, and I hope this chapter isn't too clunky!
Chapter Thirty-Two: Karma
I've died, Keira thought in disbelief. I've died and gone straight to hell.
That was the only explanation she could think of for how her mother, who hated traveling and had never left the suburbs of Vancouver, had wound up halfway across the country and in the headquarters of the SRU.
"Keira, honey?" her mother whispered, her thin voice trembling under the weight of the words.
No, this couldn't be hell. This was worse than hell.
Keira gaped at the woman in front of her, scarcely able to recognize her. Ten years was a long time, but somehow she hadn't expected Diane to have grey hair, or to seem so small and insignificant. Sadly enough, it was the bruise on her face—an ugly mingling of black and blue that sprawled across her features, a few days old by the looks of it—that had helped Keira make the connection. She remembered the mornings her mother had spent in front of the mirror, applying layers upon layers of concealer before she was ready to go grocery shopping.
"Keira," her mother murmured again, stepping tentatively towards her. Keira vaguely realized that she was supposed to respond, but she didn't know how; she was frozen in place, part of her still waiting to wake up from what was turning into a horrible nightmare. This couldn't be happening. Not here, not in front of half her coworkers.
Seeing no signs of resistance, Diane approached her for the first time in over a decade. Say something! Keira's brain yelled at her, struggling to break through the numbness that had seeped into her very bones. Don't just stand there like an idiot!
It wasn't until her mother tried to hug her, though, that all the hurt and anger came flooding back. The second Diane's arms began to close around her shoulders, the memories awakened, and her body reacted immediately in self-defense.
As if of their own accord, Keira's hands shot out and pushed her mother away from her as hard as she possibly could. Diane stumbled back, shocked, and Keira immediately put more distance between the two of them. "Don't touch me," she snarled, practically choking on her hatred.
"Keira, please," her mother begged, her puffy eyes welling up with tears. The sight was repulsive.
"Don't!" Keira repeated, her voice rising. Somewhere, in the back of her mind, she vaguely recalled that she had spent years rehearsing what she would say to Diane if they ever met again; but all the carefully-wrought words had vanished, leaving her grasping for the first thing that came to mind. "How the hell did you find me?" she demanded, trembling with fury.
In the brief silence that followed, Keira realized that she was making a scene in front of her coworkers. Wordy and Winnie were alternately gaping at her and exchanging looks with each other, and Winnie's fingers were already sneaking towards her keyboard. Lou and Sam had stood up and were closing in, silent and watchful. Keira knew that there would be no talking her way out of this one, and she wanted to strangle her mother for it.
"I-I looked you up on the internet," Diane stammered. Keira was tempted to make a snide comment about her learning how to Google—her mother had never been good with technology—but she was too angry to even be petty. "There was an article… It said you were here. It said you saved a girl's life."
Local newspapers didn't usually identify the officers involved in a call, unless something went horrendously wrong or there was an investigation afterwards, but it was entirely possible that Alice (or, more likely, Alice's mother) had said something to the press. It was ironic, Keira thought bitterly, that helping someone put their life together had set in motion a chain of events that would unravel her own.
She looked at her mother, wondering if it was even possible to loathe someone this much. She didn't know what enraged her more: the fact that Diane had turned a blind eye when Keira needed her the most, or that she thought she could just waltz right back into her life and hug her like it was one happy fucking reunion.
All of a sudden, she was glad she wasn't carrying her gun.
"Why are you here?" she asked coldly, trying to restrain herself from doing anything stupid.
"I… I just wanted to see you…" Diane replied, but her voice trailed away at the look on Keira's face.
"Well, great, now you have. And now you can leave," Keira said, folding her arms across her chest.
Her mother didn't move. "Keira, I—"
"Don't," Keira said again, louder this time. "Don't even bother. I have zero interest in talking to you. In fact, it's probably negative. I'm at work right now. You need to leave."
It was all coming out wrong. This wasn't the dream conversation where she yelled and screamed at her mother and really made her feel sorry for everything she had done; this was crappy, stilted dialogue, her own voice so wooden as to almost be unrecognizable.
At first, the words didn't register. Keira just wanted her mother to stop looking at her like that, to shut the hell up and leave so that she couldn't ruin anything else.
And then, a moment later, it hit her. "What?"
"He's dead," Diane whispered, her grey eyes welling up with tears. "Jim's dead."
Keira stepped backwards, shaking her head. She could hear her shallow breaths echoing in her ears, but her lungs weren't getting enough oxygen—something was tightening inside her chest, squeezing and squeezing until she thought she was going to pass out. So she was supposed to accept that he was six feet under now? When she still dreamed of him, when she could still feel him climbing into her bed at night? And meanwhile her mother was here, in Toronto? For how long?
"Keira? Please say something. I know it's hard…"
"Hard?" Keira repeated, blinking. "Hard? You think it's—" She broke off, mindful of the others. If there weren't enough warning bells going off in their heads already, the last thing she wanted was for them to hear how much she hated her stepfather.
Abruptly making a decision, she told her mother, "Follow me."
"What?" Diane asked, bewildered, as Keira pushed by her on the way to the briefing room. "W-Where are we going?"
"You want to talk? Then we'll talk," Keira called over her shoulder, not bothering to look back. "Wordy, not now," she muttered as Wordy tried to pull her aside.
He didn't give up, following her through the gym in a futile effort to detain her. "What's going on?" he asked quietly. "We can help—"
Keira wrenched away from him. "It's nothing I can't handle on my own. So don't drag the boss into this."
The look on Wordy's face confirmed her suspicions: that Winnie had already sent covert messages to the absent team members, calling them in to deal with the situation. They would be here any minute, ready to pry open every last one of her secrets. All because her fucking mother thought she was entitled enough to simply drop back into her life, after over a decade of no contact.
"Get in here," she snapped, glaring at Diane as she held open the door to the briefing room. Her mother obeyed, meek as ever, and for a moment Keira seriously thought about grabbing her and smashing her head into the wall. She could see it—see the blood and brain matter dripping down the walls, her mother's crumpled body lying at her feet—and it was a mark of how much she despised the woman that only two things held her back: her job, and the thought of what Will and Jason would say if she went through with it.
After an incident in which Ed's former mentor had barricaded himself in the briefing room and attempted to commit suicide, the room's security system had been updated. Fortunately for Keira, Spike had done all the work—and he had cheerfully explained to her exactly what the new precautions were, never guessing that she would have a reason to use this knowledge. Silently thanking Spike for his thoroughness, Keira went about dismantling the entire system. Although her coworkers could still whip out an infrared camera to check in on her, they wouldn't be able to see or hear much of anything.
"What are you doing?" Diane asked her more than once; but Keira ignored her until she had disconnected the last camera, at which point she turned around and said:
"Tell me how he died."
"You heard me." Keira advanced on her mother, thinking of all the different ways in which she could have killed her right then and there. It must have shown in her eyes, because Diane took several steps backwards. "Tell me exactly how he died. Every last detail."
"Preferably before Christmas."
Diane swallowed, tears glistening in her eyes. Keira watched her remorselessly, part of her still unable to reconcile herself to the fact that Jim was dead. He would only be in his late fifties, meaning that it couldn't have been natural causes. God, she hoped it had hurt.
"It was a car accident," Diane finally managed, her voice so quiet that Keira had to reluctantly move closer to hear her. "H-He got cut off on the highway and h-hit an abutment… Th-The car caught on fire, and he couldn't get out in time…"
A grin started tugging at the corners of Keira's mouth. "He burned to death?" she demanded, hardly daring to believe it.
"Th-They think he was alive for twenty minutes," Diane choked out. "He felt everything."
That was when Keira began to laugh.
She laughed so hard that her sides hurt, that she had to double over and clutch at her stomach. She laughed until she was practically screaming, until she didn't recognize her own voice, until she didn't think she would ever stop laughing. The more she thought of Jim being burned alive, the harder she laughed, because nothing in that moment was funnier or more perfect than the way in which karma had finally caught up to her stepfather.
As another wave of laughter overtook her, she thought giddily, I have to tell Jason about this.
"Babycakes is the coolest!" Brian exclaimed, staring up at Spike in awe. "But why is it a girl?"
"Because girls are smart and they don't take any crap from bad guys." Spike grinned. "Just like your aunt."
Brian mulled this over. "Auntie K doesn't like bad guys. She says that she wants to take them to court like where Mommy works and then Daddy says that there isn't a statue and then Auntie K says that she won't do it anyway. And then she uses bad words only Daddy says I can't say them. How old is Babycakes?"
It took a moment for Spike to process what Brian was saying; then, frowning, he asked, "Your aunt wants to take the bad guys to court?"
Brian nodded. "Because she says they get away with everything and it's not fair."
Before Spike could figure out how to respond to that—Is she trying to figure out who her rapist was? Was there more than one?—his cell phone buzzed, and a text message from Winnie appeared on the screen.
Situation at front desk, it read. Keira Ford's mother here. Not a happy reunion. Argument escalating.
Spike's eyebrows shot up. He didn't know anything about Keira's home life—the closest he'd ever gotten was an admission that she wasn't close to her parents, and even that had required some serious coaxing. But there was something else, something she'd said recently…
My mom doesn't give a shit about me.
That was what she'd told Alice, revealing that she had never confided in her mother about her rape. At the time, it had scarcely registered amid all the other horrifying details of her past; it was a throwaway comment, something that had seemed a little odd but was quickly forgotten. Now, it came rushing back. Keira's mother didn't care about her—or, at least, Keira believed that she didn't. Why? And why was the mother here today?
"Does Babycakes have a mommy and daddy?" Brian asked just then, peering with interest at the machine.
"Uh… I'm not sure, buddy. What do you think?" As he spoke, Spike sent Winnie a response: Want to help. Got Brian with me. Any chance we can get someone to watch him? Don't think he should know.
"I think Babycakes has a robot mommy and a robot daddy and they live in a big robot house."
"Yeah?" Spike glanced impatiently at his phone. Come on, Winnie, he thought. "And what kind of TV shows do all these robots watch?"
Brian looked at him as if he were asking what one plus one equaled. "Power Rangers, duh!"
"Does Babycakes want to be a Power Ranger?" What the hell am I even saying?
"I think Babycakes wants to be the red Power Ranger," Brian replied seriously. "But she can't be the red Power Ranger, because I'm the red Power Ranger. I'm always red, because red is the best. But Babycakes can be pink, because Auntie K says pink is the best, even though she's wrong because red is the best, duh." He waved his hands in the air, emphasizing his point.
At last, at long last, Spike's phone buzzed. I can take care of him, Winnie's message read. I'll come to you.
She was there in three minutes, which was the amount of time it took for Spike to inform Brian that he had "important police business" to attend to—and that the best way for Brian to contribute to said police business was for him to do everything that Winnie said. Spike had no idea how long the ruse would last, but hopefully Winnie would be able to handle him for a while.
"Bye, Spike!" Brian exclaimed as Winnie led him away.
"Bye, big guy. And Winnie? Thanks."
Spike entered the lobby a moment later and quickly scanned his surroundings. Keira was nowhere in sight; but Lou, Ed, and Sam were clustered behind the front desk, Lou frowning at the computer while the other two leaned over his shoulders. "How the hell did she turn it off?" Ed was demanding as Spike approached.
"Guys, what's going on?" Spike asked. "Where's Keira?"
Sam glanced up at him. "She's in the briefing room."
"Yeah, and she locked herself in there with her mother before disabling our brand-new security system," Lou added grimly. "We're trying to figure out how to get it back on."
Spike's eyes widened. "She locked herself inside?" This was starting to sound less like an argument and more like the breakdown that, by his reckoning, Keira should have had a long time ago. "And she's not responding to anyone?"
Sam nodded towards the gym. "The boss is trying to talk to her. And we've got Wordy looking for ways to get a camera in, but she knows all the ones that we have."
Spike glanced over and saw Wordy crouched against the wall of the briefing room, setting up a small camera to slip through; Greg was stationed against the door, leaning in close so as to better communicate with the room's occupants.
Ed's voice drew his attention back to the desk. "Spike, do you have any idea how to get this thing running again?" He pointed to the computer. "I don't know how she managed to disable it, but we've got nothing."
"I'll see what I can do," Spike said, wondering about that as well. How had Keira figured out how to turn the cameras off? Not that she wasn't smart—quite the opposite, actually, she always outscored him on their written tests—but security systems definitely weren't her forte. And he'd installed this one himself, just to make sure that there wouldn't be a repeat incident of what had happened with Ed's mentor…
And suddenly it dawned on him, the full measure of his stupidity. "Guys," he said, the blood rushing out of his face, "Keira was there when I installed everything. And I told her exactly what someone would have to do to get past it."
"Seriously?" Sam asked.
"How was he supposed to know she'd pull something like this?" Lou replied, raising his eyebrows.
Spike was barely listening to them. "I'm such an idiot," he breathed. "I didn't even think—"
"Doesn't matter," Ed cut him off. "Can you get us back in?"
"Yeah, but it's going to take a while to override everything. And are you sure this is a good idea? Because if they're just talking, and we listen in on it and Keira finds out…" As much as barricading herself in the briefing room was a warning sign, Keira had always gone to extreme lengths to protect her privacy—what if she just wanted to converse with her mother away from prying eyes?
Sam shook his head. "You weren't there when she saw her mother. The mother tried to hug her, and Keira pushed her away. With a lot more force than she needed to."
"It was ugly," Lou added. "She said she didn't want to talk to her, and then the mother said that someone named Jim was dead. That was when Keira took her into the briefing room."
"Jim?" Spike echoed. "Who's that?"
"That's her stepfather," said a voice behind them.
Will had returned from the shooting range; and he'd apparently left in a hurry, because he was just taking off his protective glasses. "Where's Keira?" he asked, before any of them had time to inquire about Jim. "Is she okay? Is her mother still here?"
When they explained the situation to him, he paled and started towards the briefing room—but Ed pulled him back, saying, "Not so fast. We need some answers."
"I need to talk to her—"
"No, what you need to do is start telling us about the family dynamics here. What's the deal with Keira and her parents?"
Before Will could respond—although, with his mouth opening and closing like a fish, Spike didn't think he was going to be capable of forming an answer any time soon—Greg and Wordy returned from the gym.
"She saw me putting in the camera," Wordy announced, holding up a thin wire. "She's got the other half."
Sam raised his eyebrows. "She broke the camera?"
"She knows that stuff's expensive," Lou muttered.
"Actually, she was nice enough to screw it off here," Wordy said, showing them how the camera was made of two detachable parts. "So we'll be able to re-attach it later."
"Which means she's not tunnel-visioning."
Spike half-listened to the conversation, more interested in observing Will. The younger man kept glancing at the briefing room, clenching and unclenching his fists, jaw rigid with unease. It was obviously costing him every last bit of self-control to remain where he was; and if Spike had the ability to read minds, the inside of Will's would probably be a constant loop of Keira Keira Keira.
The differences between the two of them had never been more apparent. As concerned as Spike was about Keira, and as much as he cared for her, he knew he was going to be able to compartmentalize those worries and concentrate on whatever task Ed or the boss saw fit to assign him. If they asked him to pull up the camera footage, he would do it. If they asked him to assist with an entry into the briefing room, he would do it.
Will, on the other hand… Spike knew, without a doubt, that Will would break the priority of life code for Keira. Had known, in fact, for a while. Will wasn't going to be able to remain objective today; he was going to resist helping them if it meant digging too deeply into Keira's past.
"Greg, any luck?" Ed asked.
The others quieted as Greg took a deep breath. "She said she just wants some privacy. But I don't like it—not after what Wordy and Winnie told me. And I could barely get a word out of the mother."
"Has anyone tried calling the brother?" Lou wanted to know.
Greg shook his head. "I just did, he's not answering his phone."
In the silence that fell, Ed turned to face Will. "Time to start talking," he said.