A/N: This is what the last week of school does to me. I finally find myself inspired, and it's not for any of the chapter fics I'm supposed to be working on. But maybe that's just because I'm bored...ah, well. For the record, CI is not mine.
He finds it somewhat amusing that even with all the things that have been going on in the city lately, some can still manage to ignore it all completely. School is finally out for the summer. The children won't return to the classrooms until September, and even then, there will be some who balk about it, as can be expected. His own have done it more times than he cares to remember. And as he sits there on the front porch, he can see a number of kids out playing, including his three.

His detectives have just managed to close another case. Under any other circumstances, he might have been all right with it, but this time…He frowns and sips from the glass in his hand as he continues to watch the children playing, The sound of laughter reaches him and he wonders what would happen if they were subjected to the sort of thing he and his squad have seen over the past few weeks. And then he feels guilty for thinking it. No child needs to see that sort of thing. But some children do.

And that's what upset him the most about this case. The Major Case Squad had never seen anything like it…or at least, they hadn't until now. He's disgusted with the city at this point, angry that someone could think up such a crime and annoyed with the arrogant, cocky defense attorneys that showed up to defend their clients before anything could be done. It's the mark of a guilty person, he muses as he sits there, to ask for a lawyer before anything has been said.

He's seen home invasions before; had even investigated a few of them back when he was a detective. But back then, they were simpler. People didn't do things like use their kids as an excuse to move into someone's home. And that's exactly what happened. It's this fact that gives him half a mind to tell his daughters that it's time to come inside, that it's getting late. But the truth is that it's only five o'clock in the afternoon, and the sky is still light. So he sits there, keeping an eye on every child within his range of vision, determined not to let anything happen to them.

He mulls over the case as he does, still disgusted by the way things went. A child is now without her parents because of what they've done. It bothers him that she's more upset about being without them than about what they have done to her. She does not yet know the effects that all she has seen will have on her. But soon she will. He wouldn't be surprised to find out sooner or later that she's started having nightmares, that she's started to see a counselor. She lost her naivety the minute her parents started using her as an accomplice in their crime spree. She has seen more in her six years than most cops have seen in their careers. It bothers him that she doesn't know this, and yet, he knows that it is not his place to tell her.

The sound of laughter reaches him again, and he looks back out towards the streets. An impromptu game of kickball has started in the cul-de-sac across from where he is, and he's not surprised to find that his girls are in the middle of it. It's one of those things their mother gives them a hard time about; always coming home with skinned knees or various bruises, sometimes a split lip because they've been playing a little bit too rough. But it's really nothing, and he and Angie both know it: their girls could be into worse things.

Innocence, he muses, as he catches Skyler's eye and offers up a faint smile, is one of those things that can only be maintained so long as one is not exposed to the world outside the one they know. The only problem with this is the fact that no parent in the world will be able to protect their children forever from the horrors that the world has in store. He sees it in varying degrees every day: there are some who try, and there are some who do not care one way or the other.

The other problem, he thinks, as the ball comes flying in his direction, thanks to his eldest child, is that not everyone can see how precious a child's innocence really is.