ROOKIE BLUE (isn't mine)

COPPER

I've always been a fan of alternate history. After giving it some thought, I decided to give a try at rewriting Rookie Blue, and in this prospect gave back to the story its intended title. It's a work in progress, so please bear with me (I know that I left lots of stories pending but I'll get back to them when inspiration struck again!) Thanks for your amazing support. You're awesome!

-o-

PROLOGUE

Sam Swarek's eyes fanned the motley crowd populating the Black Penny that evening, a majority of seasoned cops wearing casual outfits mixing with detectives in worn out suits, the unavoidable bunch of rookies fresh from the Academy and occasional bystanders. It was great to be able to relax. Really relax. It had been so long that he had almost forgotten what it was like to actually enjoy being somewhere without always having to process reality through a filter. He put his elbows on the counter, tugged on the sleeves of his leather jacket and took a swig of scotch. That, that was good too.

When you work undercover, you have to change the way you do things, some important, some not, and some that you miss a lot. You must alter who you are in some ways, not too much, because if you go overboard, there's always the danger of losing that part of you that you still want to hang on to, no matter what. But you have to make necessary changes so that you still can see the difference between what you really are and the culprit you're trying to sell to the underworld. It's a dirty job, but, hey, someone's got to do it. And he was good at it. And he had to latch to that feeling when he was playing a low-life junkie or else he'd lose himself in the game.

He took another swig. Alcohol burned his throat. For the past few months, he had really missed scotch. He had never been much of a beer drinker.

When he hit the Penny unannounced a half hour earlier, he was somehow surprised not to find Jerry Barber, his old academy friend, glued to a stool near the bar. Jerry had been through a rough patch after his divorce with Mandy. Not that he was surprised. He had tried to warn him when he and his future ex-wife began dating. A prosecutor and a detective, that was a match made in heaven if you can live up to your significant other's expectations. Obviously it didn't turn out that way. Jerry didn't get the promotion he was entitled to. It went to Luke Callaghan instead, the shiny new toy of the 15 Division, a detective who had just transferred from another precinct. It had been a hard blow to Jerry's ego who started second guessing every decision Callaghan took, and eventually second guessing his own.

Actually, as he scanned the room for the umpteenth time, there was nobody he could relate to tonight. Noelle Williams wasn't even there yet. She was generally an early patron since she liked to be back home at a decent hour. He had learned through the grapevine that she was five months pregnant and still without a life partner. He was very fond of Noelle. She was easy to work with and a great cop, and probably his only female friend. Not that Sam was a guy's guy, but the opportunity of making friend with a woman never presented itself. It was difficult enough to keep the friends he had. And women generally were more interested in his body than into brain picking. He didn't mind. The last months had left him in a state of total emotional void. In his current state of mind, being in a uniform or working with the drug and gang squad didn't really make a difference. He was still too invested in his last job. There was no place for any new relationship, friendly and romantic alike. He much preferred to stick to the ones he already had. He had the feeling that Monica was still mad at him for playing a Houdini on her without advanced notice. He should probably call her, some day, apologize. Right this minute, his instincts were still a little jumbled to say the least. He had to get back on his feet first. Maybe, he'll have enough time between two missions to mingle and make new friends. His mind began to reel and he lost himself in the reminiscence of those last months, absorbed in the contemplation of his drink.

"Hey, brother, I heard you were back!" said a cheerful voice behind him. "Aren't you the hero!" A firm hand clapped his back and his turned around with a smile on his face. "So you put Anton Hill behind bars?"

"Hey, Oliver, yes I did, one scumbag down, many more to go," Sam hugged Oliver Shaw. And stared. "What happened to your hair man?"

"I'm a family man, Sam, that's what worrying about college and income taxes does to you," Ollie smiled, smoothing his receding hair with his hand. "Look who I found, she was looking for you at the barn."

"Em?" Sam wasn't fast enough to suppress the surprise on his face. Emily Starling smiled self-consciously.

"Sam," she nodded, glancing at Shaw.

"Ollie is an old friend of mine. You can speak before him."

"Sam, I'm leaving Toronto. I wanted to thank you for everything you did for me. I'm going to miss you," she said softly, looking down.

Sam nodded. "Yeah, we were a good team me and you. And it went pretty damn well in the end!"

"I guess it did." She perched herself on a stool, her shoulder brushing his and smiled sadly. "You understand I have to leave, do you?"

"Of course Em, that was always the plan. Where you heading?"

"I'll send you a postcard," she said cryptically.

Sam nodded again. Old habits died hard. Coming from Emily, it was only normal. After a few years of abuse, extra cautious tended to become your middle name. "Let me buy you a drink."

"I just wanted to see you before leaving. Say thanks." She got up and threw her arms around his neck. He hugged her. She stepped away from him, realizing she was on the verge of stumbling dangerously close to earnest territory, her eyes filled with tears. "See you around Sammy." She turned around and left, and her petite silhouette disappeared into the crowd. He didn't try to stop her.

"Wow, that was fast," Oliver commented.

"She's Hill's accountant. Crazy maths brain. She had been laundering money for years for Anton. Without even being certified. Now she'll get her C.P.A. and testify against him in court. He's going down, my friend."

"I guess she hooked for him, huh?"

"Yep, when she was 12…"

Ollie hissed and shook his head. "Payback is a bitch. I guess you gave her your buy money?"

"Mmm, mm," Sam muttered. "Won't be missed."

"Amen brother!" He paused. "You know, I saw you on the street, that day. About three months ago? I saw you running out of a building with your informant."

"Mink Barker's murder," Sam nodded. "I almost got busted that day. That female cop tried to break down the door but Mike had just changed the lock the day before. We took the fire escape. That would have been really bad."

"Especially a couple of weeks away from taking down Hill," stated Shaw. "She arrested the gunman later."

"I hope they gave him a medal, Barker was the king of bad dope."

"Real sleazebag. I hope the kid cut a deal with the DA though." He shook his head. "He was only trying to protect his sister, you know."

Sam winced and averted his eyes. Not the kind of subject he needed to be reminded of, not tonight. He needed to keep his spirits high. "Where's Jerry?"

"Barber is off to Orlando with his girlfriend."

"Orlando?"

"Yep, that's Florida for you. Visiting Disney World with her son."

"Jerry's got a girlfriend?"

"Yep, Noelle's rookie."

"Really? Jerry hooked up with a rookie?"

"He sure did," Ollie raised his beer and took a swig. "We get a pretty bunch this year. Best partnered Mr Texbook Diaz with Andrews. You know Andrews, a bit of a loose cannon, right? And Chatterbox Epstein is with McGuire." Sam giggled. He couldn't remember ever hearing McGuire say a word except when he was asked by Boyko. "Gail Peck was partnered with Best before he made sergeant. Now she's everyone's rookie."

"Yeah, I heard he was promoted. Is it Peck like in Peck?"

"You're right. Miss White shirt. She's dedicated, this one. And she'll be a good cop, eventually."

"And yours? Is he any good?"

"Mine is a she, thank you very much and she's quite a handful. McNally's daughter? You remember old Tommy, don't you?"

"Yeah, I was detailed to the D squad when I was a rookie, worked with the guy a few months. He showed me the ropes."

"Tommy was my TO. Pretty decent cop before his wife took off."

"I had no idea he had kids. I guess policing runs in the family then." Sam looked around. "Is she here?"

"She was leaving the barn with Callaghan when I found your Emily. This guy gets ladies without really trying, kind of like being a pimp," Ollie piped.

Sam chuckled. He had missed Oliver Shaw and his repartees. "A new rookie every year. No strings attached."

"Exactly. But this one, she's trouble."

Sam looked interested. "Trouble how?"

"You'll see."

-o-

What do you think? Is it worthy of more?