Disclaimer: Characters don't belong to me, I just borrowed them for entertainment purposes. No money is being made.
This story was started many years ago! It has taken me a great deal of time to finish the story, and even now I am still playing with it. I have had much help and advice from various friends over the years, and if those people are still around, they will know who they are and I thank them most sincerely. Because this has been such a long-standing saga, I don't want to risk offending people by naming some and forgetting others. But most recently, Sharon has been a great help and I thank her for her insights and help.
Steve becomes involved with a young street kid who stirs up a lot of trouble.
Steve was exhausted as he drove home, both physically and mentally. The events of the day had drained him completely and he wanted to do nothing but crawl into bed and shut out the world. Most of the time he loved his job, and he wanted to believe he was making a difference in the world, but there were occasions when he really despaired and he'd just lived through one of those days. He remained preoccupied as he entered the beach house, not even realizing at first that Amanda and Jesse were there with his father.
"Hey, Steve." Mark's cheerful voice broke through his gloomy thoughts.
"Hey, Dad, Amanda, Jess…" Steve looked up at his father and friends.
"Steve, what's up?" Mark's voice became worried as he quickly detected the signs of strain in his son.
"Rough day, that's all." Steve spoke softly and they could all see the truth behind the quietly spoken words.
Steve walked to the bar and poured himself a drink. Part of him wanted to retire to his own living quarters, but the other part of him wanted the soothing company of his father and friends, so he went and sat down on the sofa.
"Do you want to talk about it?" Mark persisted, hating to see his son looking so depressed.
Steve shrugged, he didn't think he did, but the words seemed to pour from him before he could stop them. "I was called to a store robbery today after shots were fired. The perp got away and escaped down a back alley and I followed…." Steve took a big gulp of his drink. The others waited patiently, although Mark had moved over to sit next to his son. He was grateful for the fact Steve appeared physically unhurt, but he knew there were other injuries that could be sustained, and he'd certainly suffered something during the day. Suddenly he reached over to Steve's shoulder to give it an encouraging squeeze. Steve grinned in appreciation, knowing he'd made the right decision in not going down and hiding out. Although his father couldn't change what had happened, he always knew how to cheer him up and his eternal optimism was something Steve felt in need of at that moment. A reminder that the world wasn't all bad. Dealing with the seamy side of life day in and day out took a toll at times, even on his normally calm disposition. He relied on his father more than he would admit to help balance things out for him. Jesse and Amanda watched the interchange; Jesse again feeling some envy at the closeness of the Sloans' relationship. But he remained silent for once, waiting for Steve to continue.
"I had my gun drawn, I could've shot him. I should've really, once he pulled his gun..." Steve took another gulp. "Fortunately Cheryl turned up and managed to disarm him. Dad, he was only twelve years old." Steve shut his eyes, wanting to block out the horror of seeing the child's face staring up at him with coldness and bitterness. How could a child so young be so full of hatred?
Mark squeezed Steve's shoulder again, feeling the horror himself, not only of the fact that a child so young was involved in such violence, but because a child so young could have easily killed his son.
"Steve, I'm just glad it ended up as it did. I know this must have been horrible for you, but it could have been worse…"
"Yeah, I could have shot a kid!" There was a note of bitterness in Steve's voice.
"Or the kid could have shot you! I know how you must be feeling but the fact is this "kid" had a gun drawn on you and you could've been killed. As it is, this has turned out in the best possible way." Mark spoke calmly, trying to fight back his reaction to the thought of Steve being shot—again.
"Yeah, Steve, I don't think Community General is ready to have you as patient again. It only just recovered from your last stay!" Jesse tried to joke in an effort to lighten the moment. Steve grinned weakly, but Amanda kicked him in the shins. "Ouch! There's no need for that, Amanda!"
"Steve, I know it's hard, but kids are just as deadly as adults, especially when they carry guns. All of us see this in our work and you know it's the truth." Amanda stood up and walked over to Steve, sitting on the arm of the sofa. She reached down to squeeze his hand. "You're a good cop, Steve, and a good man, and you wouldn't be you if you didn't care. But if you have a gun pointed at you, then you have to protect yourself and there's no one here would dispute that, or hate you for defending yourself and keeping yourself alive. A gun is a deadly weapon, whether an adult or a child is holding it."
Mark looked at Amanda in gratitude. Everything she said, he agreed with completely.
"That's right, Steve. I know it's hard to know you could have killed a child, but…" Mark swallowed. "The child could have killed you, and that's kind of hard for me to accept. I know I'd rather you shot him, than he shot you."
Steve sighed. He knew what they were saying made sense, but he was still grappling with the fact the kid had been so young. Looking down a gun was one thing, but looking into the very young face of the possible shooter was another.
"I know what you're saying, and the fact is if I was faced with the same situation tomorrow, I would be ready to shoot." I think, but Steve didn't voice his last doubtful thought. He'd already hesitated, what if he did again? "It's just this kid is so full of bitterness and anger. I tried to talk to him but he didn't want to know. Kept saying that pigs deserve to be blown away." Steve sighed; he didn't want to talk about this anymore. "Anyway, on to brighter subjects, what's for dinner?"