Setting note: Andy is 16 and Sam is 27 in this first part.
A/N: Happy New Year! We've now entered the year of Season 3 and I couldn't be more thrilled. Just two things I'd like to say before the story.
First, I got the greatest Christmas gift when, two days after Christmas, I received in the mail TWO SIGNED PICTURES FROM THE CAST. I wrote to them in November and sent along a picture and they graciously mailed back a reply. They didn't sign the original picture I sent but instead, Missy, Enuka, Greg, Charlotte, Travis, Lyriq, Tassie Cameron, and Paul Day (I think) signed one of their Season 3 promo pics and Missy was kind enough to sign a second picture of her (she even went and wrote an adorable short post-it note explaining why Charlotte decided to sign it too). This seriously made my Christmas. If anyone wants the address info, feel free to shoot me a PM and I'll be more than happy to give it to you. They are on hiatus now (or soon will be) but you can still try or save it for August when they (hopefully!) return for Season 4.
Second, I would be remiss if I didn't take a moment to acknowledge Mai x Mai. She wrote this fantastic story for Inception called "Catharsis" using this basic plot and I was completely inspired by it. So I asked and she graciously gave me permission to use her plot for this story. I put my own little twists on it but the basic plot is hers. Check out her story if you like this one. Thanks Mai x Mai! :)
Anyways, I'm rambling now. So, here it is. Enjoy! :)
Disclaimer: I really don't own too much of this. The basic plot belongs to Mai x Mai. Rookie Blue belongs to…whoever it belongs to. All I own is the way I wrote this.
When You Were Young and We Were Different
Sometimes he really struggles to understand why he became a cop in the first place.
It doesn't happen very often because if it did he probably would've turned his badge in a long time ago but when it does come up, it hits him like a freight train he never saw coming, brutal and unrelenting as it collided headlong into his thoughts.
He hates those freight trains, the endless parade of doubt and self-loathing that it brought, the way it made him sick to his stomach when it pounded its way through his head. He fucking hates it and he's definitely wished on more than one occasion for the ability to just ignore it but he knows it isn't that simple.
Because it's those freight trains that get engrained in your head, those pictures and smells and sensations that you can't erase from your memory no matter how hard you try and he only keeps adding to that twisted collection.
It had started a week ago on a cold and blustery Sunday night in a quiet neighborhood six blocks away from the division. In the comfort of their small but homely first floor apartment, a young woman and her new husband sat together watching TV, awaiting the 8:00 arrival of the woman's five year old son who had spent the weekend with her ex-boyfriend, the boy's biological father, as part of their visitation agreement. But when 8:00 came and went with no sign of the boy and his father, the woman grew anxious and began bombarding her ex-boyfriend's phone with calls, none of which were answered or returned.
By 9:00, the police were involved, knocking on the woman's door and questioning her and her husband about the boy's father, a high school dropout who had finished a one-year stint in the correctional facility for possession of marijuana shortly after the boy was born but had been clean ever since. Photos were dug up, addresses taken down, and when a visit to the father's apartment revealed missing occupants and an empty driveway, the investigation was officially underway.
Sam hadn't been working that night but when he came in the following morning, coffees for him and his training officer in tow, the station had been a buzz with activity. The D's had headed parade, passing out flyers and files and briefing the division on everything they knew about the boy and his father. For the next few days, they followed every lead they got but the most promising was a single, blurry traffic camera picture taken just before midnight the night the disappearances were reported when a car matching the father's ran a red light on the outskirts of the city.
The search lead them several miles out of Toronto where the land was flat and filled with trees and traffic was scarce in either direction. Their intel was spotty and more than a little incomplete but they knew enough to know that the car had headed in that direction and hadn't been seen coming back. For three days, dozens of cruisers went up and down that highway, searching for an abandoned car, a piece of clothing, anything to let them know they were on the right track. But it had been raining constantly for the past two weeks, torrential downpours that soaked to the bone within seconds, and all traces of anything were as good as gone.
On Thursday, they finally got a break in the weather and orders were given to press even further into the trees. They searched everywhere, trudging through the thick, soppy underbrush, calling for both father and son while search-and-rescue dogs struggled to follow the heavily diluted scent.
It was Friday when he found the bodies. Poking around near a small creek, a flash of red had caught his eye and when he went over to investigate, he found the small body of a five year old boy wearing a muddied Superman sweatshirt, the same sweatshirt the missing boy could be seen wearing in several family pictures that were provided to the police. Beside him was his father lying spread-eagle on his back. Both had several stab wounds across their torso and despite the rain, the smell had been overwhelming, causing him to double over and empty out his stomach right then and there.
The next several hours had been a blur of activity with a dozen different people asking him about anything he could tell them about how he had found the bodies, questions that made him even more nauseous answering. Of course, as the officer who had made the discovery, that hadn't been the end of it and when he arrived at the station the next morning, a mountain of paperwork awaited him, paperwork that had taken him a whole day to complete.
He was exhausted, not only physically but mentally as well, and there was a part of him that wanted nothing more than to shut himself off from everyone while he got his head on straight again. But he also wanted to do his job, wanted to push through and refuse to let his superior officers see just how much the case had affected him. His training officer had had other plans though, having seen right through his walls of bravado and nonchalance, and when Sam finally finished the last of his paperwork, the veteran officer took him by the shoulders and told him in no uncertain terms that he didn't want to see him anywhere near the division until the next day.
"But sir, I want to help with the—"
"No 'buts', Swarek," his T.O. cut in. "I want you to take the rest of the day off."
Sam ducked his head, suddenly feeling very insignificant in front of his gruff T.O.
The man seemed to soften, then, and raised a hand to grasp Sam's shoulder. "Listen, son. I get it. I do. One year on the job and you're still trying to show everyone that you have what it takes. But cases like these…" He sighs and shakes his head. "They're hard on everybody, every time and it doesn't make you any less of a cop if you take it to heart. So I want you to get out of here. Clear your head. Do whatever you have to do. Then come back tomorrow and do it all over again."
He certainly didn't think it at the time but he would eventually come to thank Tommy McNally for making him leave the station that day.
He drove around the city for a while, not really paying attention to where he was going, until he ended up at the waterfront. Despite the fact that he had lived in Toronto all his life, he hadn't been to the waterfront in years and simply being there again brought him back to better times, times when he worried about troubles of a much different kind and people who randomly killed fathers and their sons simply didn't exist.
He stands there now, leaning against the metal railings, the blue-gray waters of Lake Ontario lapping against the concrete below him as the sun made its descent below the horizon. Heaving a sigh, he bows his head and rubs his stubbled jaw. It really had been one hell of a week, one he was now feeling in every bone and muscle in his body, and the freight train was making its appearance once again.
He loves his job. He really does. But it was cases like this that really made him wonder if it was worth it, if risking life and limb and piece of mind was worth it when none of it seemed to matter in the end anyway. Father and son were dead, killed simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and there was nothing anyone could've done to prevent it. And that, knowing that he did everything right and it still went to hell, was the hardest bullet to swallow.
He scoffs, shaking this head at the irony of it all considering the fact that his T.O. had sent him away precisely so he could avoid these very thoughts. Or at least dampen them. But he knows it would take one hell of a distraction to manage to pull that off.
A skidding grind. A yell. The ugly sound of two very solid objects colliding into each other.
He spins around and sees someone lying face down on the pavement, a well-worn skateboard abandoned at their feet, the whole scene a picture of a classic board wipeout. The cop in him kicks in and he rushes over.
But the boy (he assumes) is already moving, separating his cheek from the ground in order to sit upright. "Fantastic," he mumbles dryly to Sam's feet as he continues to haul himself up.
Noticing that he was favoring a side, Sam extends a hand. "Here."
The boy looks up and Sam finds himself staring straight into the bright, slightly irritated hazel eyes of…
But he barely has time to register this fact as she grudgingly grasps his forearm to pull herself to her feet, grabbing her skateboard as she does so.
"Why don't you sit down?" he asks, seeing her wince upon standing.
"I'm fine. I don't need to—" She takes a step in an attempt to prove her capability and grimaces when her right foot buckles slightly beneath her.
Ignoring her protests, he maneuvers her to sit on the bench behind them and crouches low before her.
"May I?" He gestures to her foot only to double back when he sees the weirded out expression written clearly on her face. "I'm a cop," he explains hastily.
"Figures," she mutters with a non-discreet eye roll but after a moment, reluctantly relinquishes her foot to his scrutiny.
"So, is this your thing?" she asks several seconds later as he gently rotates her foot this way and that. "Rescuing injured teenage girls?"
"Only the ones who insist they're fine as they struggle to stay on their feet," he replies smoothly. Looking up, he finds those piercing hazel eyes locked on him and the scuffed up helmet that had been on her head now rests on her lap, revealing a shock of cropped dirty blonde hair.
She frowns, a look that he finds rather adorable on her despite the inappropriateness of the situation. "Seriously, dude. It's fine. I've had a lot worse."
"For some reason, I actually believe that." And he does, having caught sight of several fresh scrapes and bruises on her arms, badges of honor for a rough-and-tumble athlete and skater. Satisfied with his evaluation, he tugs the frayed cuff of her jeans back down to cover her ankle and gets to his feet. "Looks like you just twisted it."
"Could've told you that," she says as he sits down next to her.
Bending his elbows to rest them on the back of the bench, he takes his first real look at her and is surprised when he realizes that she's actually older than he originally thought. Probably around 16 or 17 decked out in the clothes of a teenage boy. He takes in the black Ramones tee, skull and crossbones emblazoned wristband, green box frame belt holding up a pair of low-slung jeans that seemed to be comprised of more holes and rips than actual material, and skate shoes worn to the sole and concludes that she probably would've been just fine without him fussing over her ankle like an imbecile. Hell, she could probably hold her own against him, all 175 pounds of Swarek brawn, her pixie cut sandy blonde hair completing her rather badass persona.
She turns to him, then, and shoves her permanently side swept hair out of her eyes. "So, you're a cop?"
"How do I know you're not lying?"
"Why would I lie about being a cop?"
"Because people trust cops."
He considers her for a moment, a smile tugging at his lips. "Fair enough," he relents and digs into his pocket to retrieve his badge. "How's this?"
Her eyes narrow as she inspects the silver crest, darting quickly between him and the badge.
He seems to pass her scrutiny a moment later when she gives him a slight nod and eases back into the bench. "Alright then, officer."
Curiously, he finds himself breathing a small sigh of relief as he replaces the badge back in his pocket.
"How long you been on the force?"
He's not quite sure why but the sincere interest in her voice surprises him. Maybe it has to do with the fact that a majority of the conversations he's had recently with members of the opposite gender leaned more towards bold innuendo aimed at getting them to come home with him rather than getting to know their hopes and dreams. "A little over a year."
Her eyebrows shoot up into her forehead, disappearing beneath her unruly bangs. "A rookie," she says, her eyes dancing.
He bristles slightly at being called a rookie by a teenage girl. "Technically, I'm not. Rookie year ends once you get cut loose. I was cut in November."
"And I bet they still look for any excuse to make you earn your stripes."
He flashes her a grin. "Every day."
She smiles back and it suddenly occurs to him just how pretty she actually is, the whole skater punk, I-don't-give-a-damn-what-you-think look notwithstanding. He decides right then that he feels like seeing if he can get a peek of what's behind all that skater bravado.
"And what's your story?"
It may just be his imagination but she seems to tense slightly at his question. "My story?"
"Yeah. I told you I was a cop."
She cocks her head, eyes narrowing with a mixture of suspicion and confusion. "Aren't you supposed to be one of those people who tell me not to tell strangers about myself?"
He shrugs. "I'm not a stranger."
"That's something only strangers say."
Again, he feels the corners of his lips twitching into a smile. "Fine," he admits, raising a hand in surrender. "I'm a stranger. So what do you tell a stranger who asks what your story is?"
There's a brief pause. "I tell him…" She worries her bottom lip. "That I don't have much of a story to tell."
"I find that hard to believe."
"That's too bad," she smirks.
"Oh, come on," he insists, shifting to face her properly. "Everyone has a story."
He sees something, then, a subtle change in her eyes as the hesitation and standoffishness gives way to something else entirely and he watches as her lips part just so, giving her the impression of being on the verge of speaking. But it disappears as quickly as it came and she immediately regains her composure.
"I want to go to the Academy," she says quietly after a moment, leaving him to wonder what she had been about to say instead.
But his interest peaks and he can't help it when he raises an eyebrow in surprise. "The police Academy?"
"No, the Academy Awards."
He ducks his head at that, humored. She certainly had a knack for making him feel like a complete dipshit. You're 5-0, Swarek. What else could she possibly be talking about? "You want to be a copper."
"Never wanted to be anything else."
A beat. "Why?"
She raises a shoulder in a shrug and turns her gaze to the water before them. "It's all I've ever known. To serve and protect and hope to God you make it home every night so that you can go back and do it all over again in the morning. Because even if your family and friends don't always get why you do it, why you disobey direct orders and run right into the line of fire, Blue looks after its own and you can't imagine turning your back on it for anything else."
They sit in silence for a moment, her words lingering heavily between them.
"So, who do you know on the force?" he asks softly after a while.
She blinks as if coming out of a trance and turns to him. "What?"
He gives her a knowing look. "No one talks like that unless they know someone in blue."
She drops her gaze, having suddenly found the faded stickers on her helmet much more interesting. "My dad."
"Like father, like daughter."
A small smile graces her lips. "Yeah."
There's something there, something unsaid and complicated and raw in that one word that catches his attention. After all, he's a cop and it's his job to pick up on things like that. But right now, he's not a cop and it's none of his business, at least not while he's talking to her like this out of uniform as two people just having a chat on a waterfront bench. Of course, he's interested, having just found a chink in her badass, skater armor, but he respects her and her need to keep whatever it is private, the newly formed bonds of trust too fragile to be tampered with, and so he says nothing.
Instead, the soft crinkling of plastic fills the air as she fiddles with a particularly worn out Green Day sticker, the silence between them neither awkward nor strained.
"You ever think you aren't cut out for this job?"
Her soft, almost hesitant voice startles him more than her question.
"All the time," he answers truthfully and he finds it curious that he doesn't feel the need to put on his Swarek bravado.
"And you keep going?"
Once again, he gets a glimpse of the girl hiding behind her walls. She won't meet his eyes, her gaze focused on some distant point on the ground, but he sees the insecurities and doubt written all over her face.
"You'll make a good cop," he says after a moment.
The corners of her mouth twitch slightly. "You don't know that."
"I don't," he agrees. "But I believe it."
She looks at him and their eyes finally meet, her soft hazels locked on his piercing brown, and he's struck by how young she looks at that precise moment. "Why?"
He doesn't answer right away and just looks at her. In all honesty, he doesn't know why he thinks that she'll be a good cop. Hell, he barely knows her. He doesn't know what her whole story is or why she's closed up the way she is. He doesn't know where her fears come from or why they even exist in the first place. But if he's learned anything during his past year on the force it's that you have to trust your gut and his was telling him that she was going to make an outstanding copper one day. "I just do."
Her eyes search his, as if she was looking for any trace of insincerity, but he means every word, a fact that she seems to accept without saying anything more.
"Tell you what," he continues, somewhat emboldened by her silence. "Meet me here when you get cut loose. You can show me for yourself how far you've come."
Just like that, the dark cloud of uncertainty that had settled on her face slowly begins to disappear and he watches as the playful spark once again grows in her eyes. "And how am I supposed to let you know when I get cut loose?"
"All the rookies get cut on the second Wednesday every November."
"So…what, you're just gonna come here every November until I show up?"
"It's one day of the whole year," he replies with a small shrug as if it was no trouble at all (which it really wasn't). "I'll be here for an hour around this time." He's not quite sure where all this is coming from but it's out of his mouth before he has time to think it over so he just rolls with it.
She looks at him, cocking her head like she's trying to figure out if he was being serious or not. "What if you forget?"
"I won't," he assures her.
"What if I forget?"
"Let's hope you won't."
She pauses and he can almost hear the gears turning in her head as she formulates her next hypothetical situation, her tongue running contemplatively across the back of her teeth.
"What if I choose not to show up?"
He holds her steady gaze, her eyes dancing with the challenge. "I'll take my chances."
She laughs, a soft, sweet sound that's music to his ears, and shakes her head. "You're a stubborn sucker, aren't you?"
"Just persistent," he answers, shooting her a lopsided grin.
For a moment, she just worries her bottom lip, suddenly looking more like a shy, young girl than a badass, accident-prone teenager. "Okay then. It's a date."
He cocks an eyebrow. "Only if you want it to be."
"Maybe I do," she throws back, raking a hand through her cropped hair.
This should be setting off all sorts of alarms in his head, the fact that he's flirting with a teenage girl, but then their eyes lock and there's a certain maturity in them that he can't describe and she's flirting right on back too, isn't she? So, they sit there, staring at each other, neither wanting to be the first to break.
But she does. "I should probably get going," she ventures at a length.
"Probably," he assents, his eyes never leaving hers.
Several more seconds pass before she manages to look away, a slight blush creeping into her cheeks. Carefully, she eases herself to her feet, wary of the ankle she twisted earlier, and he fights to keep himself from reaching out and helping her up, knowing that doing so would only insult her independence. Instead, he stands, watching as she tested her weight on her bad ankle.
"Doesn't even hurt," she announces with a grin, stomping on the ground several times to prove her point.
He smiles, her energy and enthusiasm infectious.
Placing her helmet back on her head, she looks up at him and extends a hand. "Thanks."
They shake, his hand engulfing her smaller but equally calloused one. "You're welcome."
He knows he should let go but he doesn't and neither does she.
"I guess…" She lifts a shoulder. "I'll see you when I see you."
He'd be lying if he said he wasn't a little disappointed at that, not knowing when that would be. "Guess so," he says quietly.
A car alarm goes off somewhere in the distance and he promptly lets go of her hand and clears his throat.
She looks at him a moment longer and throws him one last shy smile before turning around and kicking off on her skateboard.
Stuffing his hands in his pockets, he watches her roll away, moving with all the grace and agility of a seasoned skateboarder. A thought niggles at him, then, growing stronger and stronger until he can't help himself from blurting it out.
"I don't know your name," he calls after her, wincing slightly at how ridiculous it sounds.
She grinds to a stop, kicking up her board so she can spin around on the back wheels to face him and when she does, he sees a small smirk playing on her lips.
"What fun would it be if you did?"
She then arches an eyebrow mischievously before spinning back around and skating away, causing him to chuckle softly at the absurdity of the whole situation as he stares after her disappearing form.
It isn't until he finally loses sight of her against the red-orange glow of the setting sun that he realizes that for those 10 minutes, all thought of the case never even entered his mind.
A/N: This really isn't very significant but if you're wondering about Andy's hair in this I was kinda going for Keira Knightley's hairstyle from her movie Domino. Short and badass. And I modeled 17 year old Andy after Missy's character in Stick It, the rebel without a cause haha. Once again, thanks to Mai x Mai for letting me borrow her idea. Anyways, the semester is starting next week and thus ending my creative time but I hope to get Part 2 up as soon as I can. Please be patient. :)