For the MiamiFicTalk challenge.
Prompt: #004 - Sympathy. xxx
Afternoon rays filtered through the trees as a light breeze blew. The rustling of the new leaves and the steady ripple of the lake were the only soundtrack to Miami Dade Cemetery. It was an eerie haven from the rapid workings of city center and one that Calleigh had learned to appreciate.
She had spent her lunch hour at Speed's grave on more than one occasion. When a case had gotten too much; when she needed that bit of perspective on what a life was worth; when she just needed to talk without the pitying looks from others. Plot 224 was the perfect place.
"What did he expect me to do?" She asked, mid-way through her rant of the day. She folded her legs further under her and tucked an errant blonde strand behind her ear. "Drop all the charges because he apologised for killing those kids?" She sighed. "It's never going to change, is it? Well, at least I've got job security I suppose."
She picked up a stone from the grass and threw it as hard and as far as she could into the dazzling lake. When the satisfying schlump was heard, she turned back to Speed's stone. "I think it's starting to get to me. I know, I know, it took me long enough, but it's the same deal day in-day out. Innocent person killed, unrepentant jerk tries to deny any involvement, and we hopefully find that miniscule fiber that links them to the scene. But does that really help the family any? They've just lost someone they care about; they're never going to see them again, but because the perp nicked his jeans on a table as he fled, we got him. Is that really justice?"
An unfamiliar crunch had Calleigh turning quickly to the sound. A glistening blade was thrust into her eye-line, followed by a "Give me your bag."
She followed the sight up to the face of the man at her side. It was then that she gave a sigh. "Put the knife down," she said, her voice almost bored. The knife wavered from her refusal.
The man', 15 years old if a day, bounced on his toes. "Give me your bag!"
Calleigh stood up, casually resting her hands on her hips - inches above her police shield and holstered weapon. The boy swore under his breath. "Put the knife down."
The boy began to shake more, his eyes darting in all directions for an escape route, bouncing ready to run.
"My bullets will be faster than your legs," Calleigh warned him. "Put - the knife - down."
In a last ditch show of defiance, the boy threw the pocket knife to the grass.
"Okay, turn around," she told him, her hand on his shoulder to keep him near her. She was more than sure that if he thought he could have escaped, he would have done so already. She secured her handcuffs around the boy, dipped to pick up her bag, and lead him over to a bench. She sat him down and removed a cuff from one wrist and attached it to the painted metal bar that fashioned an arm for the seat.
"Dispatch, this is CSI Duquesne," Calleigh said into her two-way, "I need a uniform to the Miami Dade Cemetery. End of the drive, you'll see my Hummer. I have someone for transport back."
The phone crackled to life as the operator confirmed a squad car was in the vicinity. Calleigh thanked them and stepped up onto the bench, taking a seat on the back.
"So, what's your name?" She asked, casually scanning the surroundings looking for an accomplice. Unless a few hundred souls counted, they were alone.
The boy turned his head to her, the fear of the impending consequences beginning to set in. He regarded her with big brown eyes, "Sean. Sean Hawkes."
"Well, hello Sean Hawkes. Attacking women a hobby of yours?"
"No! No, I mean, I didn't attack you-"
"You were going too, though. Why else would you carry a knife with you?" Conducting an interview/interrogation in her current environment was definitely a change from the norm.
"No! Listen, I just wanted your bag, I wasn't going to hurt you. I carry the knife because…well, because I live in Miami. And not the best part."
Calleigh slowly nodded, understanding – though not particularly liking – his answer. "You do it often? Harmlessly' brandish a weapon at unsuspecting and lonely women for their bags?"
"Can't you tell this is my first time?" His head dropped, berating himself for failing at yet another thing – although not wholly sad at the fact.
"That's something at least. What made you start?"
Sean looked over to an area on the other side of the cemetery. "My brother is over there. He got shot when he was walking his girlfriend home. The police said they were in the wrong place at the wrong time'." He scoffed, shaking his head. "Doesn't bring him back though."
"No. It doesn't," Calleigh said quietly, her conversation' with Speed coming back to haunt her.
"I don't have a Dad, and my Mom never got over it. She hasn't left the house since. Just looks at his pictures and cries. I just… I needed some money. No one will give me a job and we need money." He turned to her, his wrist still attached to the seat. "I'm really sorry. I wasn't going to hurt you, I mean it. What's going to happen to me?"
Calleigh watched him, her heart aching for him. He was just a kid who had been served a bum deal. The sound of approaching high-low's broke the silence they had been enjoying. She turned back to him, "You'll get a caution, someone will need to pick you up and you'll be on your way. If you do it again though…"
"I won't. I mean it, I won't."
She believed him. The fear in his eyes shone like a beacon. Especially since the squad car had come to a stop by them. Calleigh stepped off the seat and unfastened his cuffs, handing him over to the uniforms. One of the men guided Sean to the car while she had a quiet word with the other. She told him that she wasn't pressing charges and asked him to just drive around the corner and give Sean a serious word in his ear. The policeman winked and climbed back into the car.
Calleigh watched as Sean was placed in the back seat of the cruiser, his head drooped in embarrassment, repentance and fear. The incident wasn't going to go on his record – she was going to make sure of that – but it still wasn't going to help him.
Her lips pursed with a plan as she grabbed a business card from her bag and scribbled an address on the back.
"Wait," she called as the car was about to turn around. She pulled open the back door and showed the card to Sean. "How are you with dogs? Come to this address on Saturday, bright and early, and you'll have a job, alright?" She put the card in his shirt pocket, his eyes suddenly beaming with thanks and excitement.
"I won't let you down – I promise."
"You'd better not," she gave him her best non-nonsense look and shut the door, tapping on the roof.
It wouldn't be much of a job for the kid – clearing out the kennels in the Canine Unit – but it would pay and might just work as community service for him. Calleigh could tell he was a good kid, one that he just needed some direction, and she was willing to give it to him.
He was what she had been looking for – someone who had said sorry and meant it. Maybe the job wasn't too bad after all.