1. As the second youngest of seven siblings (and thank God, Shannon (Nonnie) had come along and saved him from being the eternal baby of the family), five of whom were boys, Matt Devlin had learned young that you had to be scrappy to survive. Not that he thought Pete, Andy, Johnny or Tommy would actually kill him (Mary, the oldest, or his Mam would let them have it if they actually hurt him), but anyone with a passel of siblings knew the value of a sharp little elbow and big, innocent eyes.
Not that Mam was ever fooled by the innocent look, but it worked on people outside the home. And who would think little Mattie (always small for his age) was the brains behind a significant amount of the innocent mischief the Devlin boys got into. But, unlike a few of his brothers, he was bright enough to know where the line between dumb ass kid and juvenile delinquent lay and never crossed it.
2. When he was 12, tired of the pretty boy taunts at school and on the pitch, Matt convinced Johnny to break his nose, in hopes of messing up his face a bit. The resulting pain and only temporary roughening of his looks (as well as the swatting Mam had administered when she got the truth out of Johnny) had not been worth it and Matt then decided it was better to simply earn a reputation as someone not to be messed with.
Hell, he already knew how to take and throw a punch.
3. Aiya Nagara had been his first love. They'd met at orientation on their fist day at University, both taking core courses in general studies, as they'd been unsure what direction they wanted to hear in life. While most of their friends went through relationships like tissues, they remained together well into their second year. Though both very young, Matt loved her with his whole heart and, just before the Christmas holiday, bought a small engagement ring.
The ring, in its little velvet box, sat in his dresser to this day. A man, strung out on a nasty cocktail of drugs, had stabbed her in the neck as she walked home from the library and the paramedics hadn't reached her in time.
He knew he wouldn't be able to prevent such a thing from happening again, but as a police officer, the idea that he might be able to save even one was enough.
Still, every month, he put a lily on her headstone.
4. At the academy, the 'pretty boy' taunts had reared their ironically ugly heads again, as had the questions about his sexuality, as he didn't date much. Some wounds were still fresh. It was Nonnie who came up with a solution and proceeded to have a seemingly endless stream of her lovely young friends show up to visit him where other cadets could see them. Because of his devious baby sister, he earned a reputation a as player, which earned him the respect of his fellow cadets. Sometimes he had to take a step back, look at his own gender and just shake his head, cause the taunts didn't end, but were now tinged with some respect and a hint of resentment.
5. Hazing the rookie. It seemed to be a tradition that couldn't be ignored but, on his first day on the job, he'd been a bit to excited to remember this fact of life. When his training officer, Stigers, had sent him running into a club (having seen one of the miscreants from the shift briefing enter the building), Matt had barreled into the place…smack into the middle of a hen party. A hen party that had apparently ordered a copper themed stripper.
He'd practically had to fight his way out of the club, and emerged, ruffled, red faced and embarrassed to find Stigers howling with laughter, having been joined by several other officers. One of whom had a camera.
It had been a few years since he'd seen one of those snap shots, but he had the lingering fear that one could pop up at any time.