His chest rose and fell in regular rhythm, no aid needed.

"Dad, how old do you have to be to be a cop?"

His heart beat steadily, no beeping monitor required to measure the cadence.

"Well, you have to finish high school first. And it wouldn't hurt you to go to college, too."

He would be released tomorrow, the doctors having satisfied themselves that he needed only physical therapy and time to return to his normal self, no permanent damage done.

"When will that be?"

He'd come home with Henry—in the beginning at least—and if he thought any amount of whining was going to change that then he had another think coming.

"If you went to college straight out of high school, you could apply to the police academy when you were twenty-two."

There would be weeks of therapy and it would drive Henry nuts to have to deal with Shawn in one of his most annoying states, that being the inability to do things for himself.

"I'll be old then! Can't I go sooner?"

He would need to go to the store and stock up on food, both things Shawn would eat and just more food in general for all the visitors that were sure to parade through.

"You can't go until you've at least finished high school and are a legal adult, so eighteen is the youngest you can apply."

Henry rubbed at his face, straightened in his chair, and gave his spine a gentle twist, though his eyes never once moved from the sleeping form in the bed.

"That's stupid."

He knew that Lassiter, O'Hara, Gus, even Karen, blamed themselves for what had happened.

"Why does it matter, Shawn?"

They were wrong. All of them, they were wrong.

"Because I don't want to wait that long."

There was only one person at fault for the current situation.

"Wait that long for what?"

And for once it wasn't Shawn.

"To be a cop like you."

Henry's eyes closed and he rested his forehead on his folded fists, his elbows balanced on his knees . . .

. . . And listened to his son breathe.


Yeah, it's really the end. I know some of you were probably expecting another one of my epics. Sadly, this was not it. Frankly, I'm surprised this went as long as it did. It was supposed to be this little 1,000--maybe 3,000 word max--ficlet. And then it just. Wouldn't. STOP.

The good news is I am working on my next epic. It's really not too far off. I hope . . .

Anyway, hope you enjoyed the ride and please let me know if you did! :D