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: 57 - Follows: 101 - Updated: 01-24-13 - Published: 07-26-11 - id: 7221234
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: Hey, guys. I'm sorry it's been taking me so long to update this story - I've been having major writer's block with this confrontation scene for nearly six months, which is extremely frustrating. The sad thing is, I have a lot of stuff written after this point, but I just can't seem to get through this scene. Hopefully things will start clicking soon. =/ Thank you for your patience.
On another note, I can't believe Flashpoint's over. Watching the finale gutted me.
Chapter Thirty-Three: A Test of Loyalty
There were few things more unpleasant than being interrogated by Ed Lane, but—as Will was fast discovering—being interrogated by Ed Lane about Keira in front of the entire team was definitely among them.
"About what?" Will asked, his heart sinking. He wasn't like Keira; he couldn't lie the way she did, so convincingly that he would find himself believing her even when she was covering up for him. But he didn't want to tell the others about all the times she'd crawled in through his window just to fall to pieces in his arms—that was private, something of Keira's that wasn't his to give away.
"Don't play dumb with us, McKnight," Ed growled, stepping in closer until it was difficult to see anything beyond him. "You know exactly what I'm talking about. What are we looking at here with Keira and her mother? What's going on with the stepfather?"
"I don't know—"
"Bullshit. You know damn well what's going on. You're just lying to us because you think you're doing her a favor. Only what you're actually doing is allowing the situation to escalate and making it harder for us to help her."
At the sound of Greg's voice, Ed reluctantly moved back, keeping his gaze firmly on Will.
"Let's start at the beginning," Greg said calmly. He was addressing Will, but an eye still lingered on Ed.
"The beginning," Will repeated.
And he remembered peeking at Keira from behind his mother's legs, his fascination with the two braids hanging down her back. An endless cycle of play dates. Catching frogs, fireflies, and anything else they could get their hands on. The woods behind their homes, Keira always wanting to venture further in than they were allowed. "What if we just kept going and never came back?" she'd asked once, and Will had stared so blankly at her that she never brought it up again.
With Keira, there was no such thing as the beginning. His pre-Keira memories simply didn't exist. She had always been there, a constant frame of reference in his life.
"Prior to today, how would you describe Keira's relationship with her mother?" Greg inquired, drawing him back to the present.
He answered truthfully. "If Keira had her way, there wouldn't be any relationship."
"And why is that?"
"It had something to do with her stepfather," Will hedged. "The guy was—well, he was a jackass. And Keira's mother sided with him on everything."
"A lot of children have problems adjusting to new parent figures," Greg replied; but his tone was probing, rather than dismissive.
Will shook his head, conscious of his teammates' stares. "This was different."
He didn't know how to explain the hatred that filled Keira's eyes whenever she talked about Jim, so he settled on, "The stepfather used to do things like… like when Jason went off to college, Jim would only let them talk on the phone once a month. But then he'd give her this impossibly long list of chores that she had to do if she wanted to talk to him, so she'd spend all day raking and vacuuming and dusting, only for him to find the one leaf that she'd missed—and then that was it, she didn't get to talk to him for another month. And this was when we were ten."
"And Keira's mother? She supported the husband?" Parker inquired.
Will nodded. "She would just tell Keira to try harder the next time."
"So, Keira feels like she's being betrayed, like she can't count on her mother." Greg raised his eyebrows. "Is that what today is about?"
"No, it's—" Will broke off, frustrated. "I don't know what it's about. But it's not just that she's feeling betrayed. She hates her mother. And I'm not exaggerating—the only person she hates more is her stepfather. As far as I know, she hasn't spoken to either of them in over ten years. So for her mother to drop in on her like this, when she thought she'd completely cut off contact…"
Greg fixed him with a sharp stare. "Something else is at play here, then?"
When Will didn't respond, Ed snapped, "The boss just asked you a question."
"I don't know," Will retorted, his hands curling into fists.
"Your girlfriend hated her parents and you never bothered to ask why?"
"Eddie," Greg said warningly.
"Of course I fucking asked," Will snarled. "But I'm not an asshole, so when she blew me off I dropped it."
In one swift motion, Ed stepped forward and grabbed two fistfuls of his shirt, shoving him back into the counter. "You're out of line."
"And calling her my girlfriend to get a rise out of me isn't?" Will demanded.
"Guys, this isn't helping Keira," Spike remarked from somewhere behind Will. Greg and Wordy were of like mind: they both helped to drag Ed back, Wordy keeping a tight grip on Ed's arm.
"Spike's right," Parker said. "We need to focus on Keira and her mother. Will, is there any other information you can give us?"
He remembered driving Keira back from classmates' parties, listening as she drunkenly begged him not to take her home. Having to reassure her, over and over again, that they were going to his house instead.
He remembered Keira applying for over a hundred scholarships in their senior year of high school, determined to pay her own way through college so that she would never have to rely on her parents again.
He remembered Keira bursting into tears when their families said goodbye and left them on their own at UBC—not because she was upset to see them go, but because she no longer had to see Jim on a daily basis. "I can't believe I finally got away from him," she'd choked out before averting her eyes, embarrassed.
"No, boss," he quickly replied.
He thought he saw something like disappointment flash through Greg's eyes, which was worse than anything Ed could have said to him. "Are you sure?"
Will swallowed. "I'm sure."
"All right, Spike, you're up." It was Ed who had spoken. Wrenching away from Wordy, he added, "I want everything you can get on Keira and her family, including Jason. Every record you have access to."
"Whoa, wait a minute," Wordy interjected, as Will made a similar noise of dissent. "Are we really going to start spying on her? She's our teammate."
"Well, since Will couldn't come up with anything useful," Ed replied, earning himself a cold stare from Will—"yes. Spike?"
"Eddie, hang on a minute," Greg said. Spike paused, his hands hovering over Winnie's keyboard, awaiting the outcome of the debate. "Let's look at our other options."
"Boss, I don't see what those options are. Jason's not answering his phone, Will either can't or won't tell us—"
"Hey, I already told you what I know," Will snapped.
"Yeah, I'm not buying that," Ed retorted, rounding on him. "I think you know a lot more than you're letting on. And right now, you're holding back on us. So either you start talking, or we're going to start digging. Take your pick."
They stared at each other for a heated moment, Will's face red with anger and Ed's mouth slowly thinning. Finally, without looking away from Will, Ed said, "Spike, go."
Will's stomach tightened as he watched Spike hunch over the keyboard, ready to expose every last detail of Keira's life. He was torn between wanting to grab the other man and yank him away from the computer—wasn't his relationship with Keira, whatever it was, worth more than this violation of her privacy?—and a selfish desire for answers to the questions that had plagued him for years. On the verge of discovering the truth, was he going to clap his hands over his ears and make feeble protests that no one would listen to?
Protect Keira, or find out what was wrong with her… The two urges were utterly at war with each other; and meanwhile Spike's fingers were flying over the keys, pulling up her family's records. In less than thirty seconds, the secrecy she had fought so hard to maintain was gone, every traceable detail of her life on the screen for all her coworkers to see.
"Okay, so, we've got Keira and Jason's files," Spike said matter-of-factly; as if he and Keira were no more than acquaintances, as if he had never made love to her. "Only—hang on a sec—Jason's record stops when he's ten, and we've got nothing until he's nineteen. And there's nothing on Keira's childhood."
"Nothing?" Greg echoed, peering over his shoulder.
"Yeah, apart from a birth notice she basically doesn't exist until she gets arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct at the age of twenty." Spike's eyes widened as he read the report, and Will had to resist the inclination to snatch the mouse out of his hands and rip all the cords out of the computer. "The police wound up not pressing charges because it was a first time offense. But I've got nothing on her before that. And Diane Ford's record stops ages ago."
"That's because you're using the wrong name," Will said quietly.
Six pairs of eyes zeroed in on him. "What do you mean?" Greg finally asked.
Will sighed. As unhappy as he was about contributing to the team's efforts, he knew he couldn't withhold such a small thing from them. "When Keira's mother remarried, she changed their last names to the stepfather's—Richardson."
"And then Keira and Jason both changed them back," Greg said.
Will nodded. "Keira filed the paperwork as soon as she turned nineteen." He recalled accompanying Keira and Jason on the trip, Keira's face flushed with excitement as she grinned at him from the passenger seat of her brother's car. She had spent every last penny of her savings that afternoon, and then some—if Jason hadn't chipped in, she wouldn't have been able to afford the legal fees. "Even before that, she would always tell our teachers on the first day of school that she went by Ford, not Richardson. Most of the kids in our grade thought it was funny, but she was completely serious about it. Whenever one of the teachers slipped up, she refused to answer them."
Sam arched his eyebrows. "Isn't that a little extreme?"
"That's Keira for you," Spike murmured.
Ed fixed Will with a challenging stare. "And you have no idea why she would do something like that."
"Guys, I've got something," Spike announced, interrupting what might have devolved into another confrontation. Will's relief at no longer being the center of attention was short-lived, however, as he now had to worry about whatever information Spike had dug up. "Back in 1996, there was a domestic call at Keira's house. Jason got arrested for assault and battery—he beat up the stepfather so badly, the guy was in the hospital for a week."
Will blinked. "I remember that. It happened our junior year."
"Did Keira ever talk to you about it?" Greg asked, looking like he already knew the answer.
"She said that the two of them got into a fight, and then it turned physical. She didn't say what it was about."
"And you didn't ask her?" Ed stared incredulously at him.
"No," Will said shortly. "I've never forced her to talk about something she didn't want to. That's not how our friendship worked."
"So she never told you why Jason beat up their stepfather?" Ed persisted. "And you just let it go?"
"She said it was an argument that got out of hand. I never found out what it was about."
"There's nothing in the police report, either," Spike said, drawing the others' attention away from Will again. "According to the officer on duty, Jason refused to explain why he did it—he just kept telling them to ask Jim."
"And did they?" Greg wanted to know.
"Doesn't look like they got a chance. Once he got out of the hospital, he told the police he wasn't going to press any charges. Jason walked completely free."
"So the guy gets beaten up by his stepson, and he doesn't do anything about it?" Sam asked, furrowing his brow. "That doesn't make any sense."
"Makes sense if he had something to hide," Wordy pointed out.
A tense silence followed his remark, the members of the team glancing at one another. Will noticed that Greg's gaze lingered on Wordy; then, with a sigh, he turned to Will and asked, "Will, is there any possibility that Keira and Jason were being abused by their stepfather?"
For a long moment, Will couldn't speak. He felt sick at the mere thought; every fiber of his being rejected it as impossible, as abhorrent. It couldn't be—Jim was an asshole, but—he would have known, he would have figured it out—not Keira.
Will shook his head, trying to erase the image of Keira cowering beneath Jim's fists. "No. No. No way—she would have told me."
"Somehow, I really doubt that," Spike said, raising his eyebrows.
Will's temper flared, igniting long-buried embers of resentment towards his coworker. "Yeah?" he snapped. "I'm sorry, and what did she ever tell you about her home life?"
"Stop acting like you're the only one who cares about her—"
"Whoa, hey," Greg interjected as the two of them glared at each other. Lou put a staying hand on Spike's shoulder. "We all know that Keira's a private person, even with the people closest to her. Especially with the people closest to her. But right now, this is all just speculation—and what we need is answers. So Spike, Will, are you ready to help find them? Spike?"
"Yeah, boss," Spike replied, his eyes never leaving Will's.
At the rate things were going, Will didn't know if he was ever going to be able to look at Spike without wanting to punch him in the face. (It didn't help that the rational part of him, the part that had been trained to psychologically profile someone, suspected that the main reason for his dislike of the other man was purely selfish.) And he hated the fact that "finding answers" entailed digging through Keira's past, when she would never have voluntarily offered this information to any of them. But the others were watching him expectantly, so he swallowed his pride and nodded.
"Okay," Parker said. "Spike, let's put the records aside for now and concentrate on getting the cameras in the briefing room back up. I'm going to try Jason again, see if we can get through to him. Wordy, why don't you keep an eye on Keira and her mother with the infrared camera. At least we'll be able to tell if things are escalating."
As Wordy jogged back to his equipment, Greg pulled out his phone and hit the redial button. This time, the call went through.
"Jason Ford speaking."
"Jason, it's Greg Parker."
When Jason responded, his voice was significantly louder. "Did something happen to Brian? To Keira? Are they okay?"
"Brian's fine," Greg assured him. "In fact, he's getting a tour around the station as we speak. But look, Jason… your mother's here."
For a moment, only silence crackled through the speakers. "What?" Jason finally asked, stunned. "How?"
"Apparently she found Keira's name online and tracked her down here. She—"
"Her husband," Jason interrupted frantically. "Jim. Is he with her?"
"Your mother says he's dead."
"Oh, thank God." Jason's ragged breathing echoed through the phone.
Greg raised his eyebrows at Will, who was just as taken aback by Jason's response as everyone else. "You sound relieved."
There was a pause, as if Jason had just realized he'd spoken aloud. "Let's just say he wasn't a candidate for any stepfather of the year awards."
"That's not going to do it for me, Jason." Greg's voice was gentle yet firm, his words non-negotiable. "Keira's barricaded herself in the briefing room with your mother, and she's disabled the cameras. We have no idea what's going on in there, and we're going to need your help."
"Keira's alone with our mother?" Jason demanded.
"Oh, God. Please tell me she doesn't have her gun."
Jason's words echoed throughout the lobby, their impact making Will recoil. His first instinct was to protest. Not Keira, he thought, stunned. She would never—not with Brian—and maybe he was right. Maybe Keira, who loved her nephew, wouldn't risk missing out on so much of his life. But then he remembered all the nights she'd sobbed out her hatred in his arms, all the variants of "I want to fucking kill her" that he'd heard over the years; and suddenly, he felt a lot less certain about how far she was willing to go for the revenge she'd always wanted.
The other members of the team glanced at one another, sharing his trepidation—if not the reasons for it. Greg's eyes had narrowed into slits. "Jason, are you saying that Keira might try to kill your mother?" he asked.
An excruciating silence followed, long enough to raise all the hairs on the back of Will's neck.
"I don't know," Jason finally admitted. "I don't know what she'd be capable of."