Author's Note: Things written in italics are being spoken in Russian.
Fin and Munch had been called to another horrific crime scene, a woman had been savagely raped and beaten to death while two men, one about her age, the other frail and elderly, had been forced to watch. The two men had then likewise been beaten and executed.
"John can you read this?" Fin asked, handing a passport with the female victim's picture on it to him.
"Nadia Rusayev, she hasn't been here long, less than a month. Damn!" Munch swore suddenly.
"What's wrong?" Fin asked.
"According to her passport she traveled with a child, a six year old boy, named Pavel. So where is he?" Munch asked.
Fin suddenly went down on his belly to look under the furniture.
"Come on out of there little fellow, we won't hurt you. We're the cops. We're the good guys."
"Great Fin, you probably scared the crap out of him," John noted.
"Nah, he doesn't understand a word I'm saying? You better do your thing."
Munch gave Fin a pained look, but he thought about the poor scared kid.
"Pavel, it's OK you can come out now. No one is going to hurt you. I promise. Please come on out let us help you."
A boy of 6, who could have easily passed for John's son, with his dark hair, brown eyes, gaunt face and slender build, pulled himself out from under a couch and like a frightened wild animal made his way to John's side.
"What's your name?" the boy asked timidly.
John thought about the question, he hadn't been asked that in Russian in a long time, his answer came unbidden.
"Ivan Borshevsky, you can call me Ivan," he said.
Fin didn't understand Russian but he felt as though he'd just heard John introduce himself by a false name, he shrugged it off, thinking that maybe John had asked him about someone named Ivan Borshevsky.
"OK, Ivan,"the boy answered in English.
'Damn," thought Fin, 'I'm not wrong. The kid just called Munch Ivan, what's up with that?'
"Pavel, do you know the men who died here?" John asked trying to be gentle.
"Yes, that's my father and that's my grandfather," the boy said pointing to the two dead bodies and trying hard not to cry.
"You are being so brave Pavel, I'm sure your family would be proud of you," John said.
"Mama and Papa and Grandpapa are all the family I have, had," the boy corrected himself and then buried his face in John's pants leg and let the tears flow.
John picked the boy up and carried him to the back of Fin's car.
"Drive, get us away from this damn place!" John said, as he continued to hold the crying boy.
Fin obeyed, even though he wasn't sure where John wanted him to go, and he had a lot of questions he wanted to ask John or Ivan or whatever the hell Munch was calling himself.
"You want me to drive us to Child Protective Services?" he asked.
"No to the stationhouse, Pavel hasn't told us everything about the case yet." John barked.
By the time they got to the stationhouse Pavel had calmed down some, and John thought he could get some more information out of him.
As luck would have it, Dr. George Huang was visiting Captain Cragen and wanted to help with the interview.
"Do you speak Russian?" Munch asked somewhat impatiently.
"No, doesn't Pavel speak any English?" Huang countered.
Munch suddenly realized he hadn't bothered to ask, his Russian was certainly up to the task of conversing with Pavel up to that point, so he hadn't bothered to ask Pavel if he spoke any English.
"Uh, I don't know. Let me ask." John answered.
Pavel beat him to the punch. "I speak little English, not so very good. Sometimes not understand."
"OK, how about you translate from Russian anytime he's not comfortable talking in English," Huang proposed.
Pavel and Munch agreed to the arrangement.
Munch and Huang conducted a psych evaluation/witness examination that went amazingly well. Munch came to the conclusion that either Pavel's family cared enough about something to die before revealing information about it, or the goons who killed his parents had the wrong family. He was also sure that either Pavel hadn't been able to see the perps from his vantage point, or he was just too frightened to say anything about what they looked like, but he did give a pretty good account of their conversation. They'd gotten a few clues from it for the rest of the squad to start working on as leads. Munch was also hoping CSU might have something for them.
Huang was just beginning to give his opinion on the boy's mental state when a woman from Child Protective Services blew in like the wicked witch of the west, at least as far as Munch was concerned.
"Maryann Dupree, Child Protective Services," the woman said to introduce herself. "I understand you have a young boy here whose parents are deceased, as is his only other known relative, a maternal grandfather, all victims of apparent homicide. Is that correct?"
"Yes, I believe that's correct," Cragen answered, feeling a bit like he was being blitzed.
"I've come to take the boy into custody," she pronounced.
"Excuse me! No ifs, buts or by your leaves, just I'm taking him?" John said getting a little hot under the collar.
"It's standard policy, I assure you, and it's in the boy's best interest, really. Now, where is he?" she asked politely, but firmly.
"We have a special interview room for children, he's in there playing, waiting for me to come tell him a story," John answered miserably.
"I see, well I'll just go collect him from there then," she said.
"No, wait, let me prepare him, explain to him what's going on," John said, in a panic.
She hesitated a moment, and Huang saw an opportunity to intervene on John and Pavel's behalf.
"Ms. Dupree, I really think you should let Detective Munch talk to the boy, they've established a rapport, and frankly the boy's English isn't anywhere near strong enough to handle this situation, so John may as well explain it to him in Russian," Huang said.
A little later in the children's interview room
"You have to go with her, Pavel" Munch told the boy again.
"No, I want to stay with you, Ivan" the boy replied.
"Pavel, I am a detective not a"- John stopped short, his Russian was a bit rusty, with his zayde and bobe dead, he rarely spoke it or Yiddish anymore, except in the line of duty, so he was having trouble picking the term he wanted, but in the end he got it through to Pavel, that the powers that be thought he'd be better off in a foster home or shelter than with John.
"What did he say, Ivan?" Fin asked, stressing the name the boy had been using for Munch.
"He doesn't want to go with Child Protective Services," John answered, trying to avoid the implication in Fin's voice.
"Smart kid," Fin said.
"He wants to stay with me," John finished translating Pavel's request.
"Smart but crazy, he can't stay with you, you're an old curmudgeon, you work lousy hours, and as a cop you're in a dangerous line of business. You take him in, he's likely to lose you just like he lost his parents and granddad," Fin started listing the reasons John should not consider taking the boy into his life.
Before John and Fin could get much further, Pavel came over and clung to John, burying his face in the fabric of the detective's pants at his right pocket.
"Ivan, please don't let them take me. I want to stay with you, please," the boy pleaded, tears staining his face.
John looked at Ms Dupree and sighed.
"I know you have Pavel's best interest at heart, but he's been through a lot. Can you honestly tell me that you're going to find him shelter tonight with a foster family that speaks Russian, and that he feels as safe with as he feels with me?" John said in a soft, but challenging voice.
"No, I can't. But can you honestly tell me that you are ready to take care of a six year old boy by yourself?" the CPS worker challenged him.
"No I can't, but is any parent every completely sure they are up to the task of parenting a child before they start it?" he challenged back.
"I'd feel a lot more sanguine about this, if there was a Mrs. Munch on the scene," she said.
John bit back the comment that instantly came to his mind about all the ex-Mrs. Munches, because he could tell the woman was about to give in.
George Huang had hung around to add his extra 2 cents to the debate, and he decided now was the time, "From a psychological standpoint this child doesn't need any more losses. He's forming a bond with Detective Munch, to disrupt it now, on top of all the other trauma in his life could be devastating."
"Look, I'm not some heartless bureaucrat, I can see the bond Dr. Huang is talking about, and I agree about the affect of losing that newly forming bond so close on the heels of losing his family," she took a big breath and let out a sigh, as if fearful of what she was about to say. "So the boy may stay with you detective Munch, temporarily, until we determine what to do with him on a more permanent basis." she told John.
John's face split with a big grin. "Thank You."
"Your welcome," she said, and then picked up her heavy looking case folder and left quickly as though she wanted to leave before she regretted her decision.
Pavel pulled on John's shirtsleeve, "I can stay with you, yes?" he asked in English.
John picked the boy up, and grinning widely said, "You can stay with me, yes!" He turned the boy around in a circle and then set him down on his chair, with an oof "You're a bigger boy than I realized, Pavel!"
"No Ivan, you are just too skinny. You need a wife to feed you better, make you strong!" Pavel raised his arms like a body builder.
"How old are you again?" John asked sarcastically.
"Six, but I'm Russian," Pavel answered, and John started laughing and couldn't stop.
"What'd he say?" Olivia asked, wanting in on the little boy's joke.
"First he told John he was too skinny, and needs a wife who would feed him better and make him strong," Casey imitated Pavel's muscle man stance. Then John asked Pavel how old he was. Pavel said he's six, but he's Russian," Casey Novak, who had entered the squad room almost unnoticed, translated for Olivia and the rest of the squad, and they too got a kick out of Pavel's quick wit.
"You speak Russian?" John asked.
"Yeah a little bit," Casey said.
"Why didn't you tell me?" he asked.
"You never asked," she replied.
Suddenly John's mind, or was it Ivan's, was churning with ideas.
To Be Continued