The day had been long and hard for both partners, Wes and Travis, as the obsessive of the two had become even more uptight and quieter than usual. Travis had no clue as to what had affected Wes so much, but he knew that it must have something to do with their newest case, as his attitude had changed drastically once their captain had assigned it to them.
The odd thing was, the coroner claimed at first that he believed the death to be a suicide, as the victim had been found hanging from the top of the stairwell, with a rope tied tightly around his neck. There was no apparent sign of a struggle, but as soon as Wes saw the man, he flatly stated that the coroner was wrong and that their victim was murdered. Then, Wes clamped up, left the house in a hurry, and got behind the wheel of his car, but didn't start the engine, as he waited for his partner to join him.
As Travis walked out behind him and sat down in the passenger's seat, he could see from the cold stare on Wes' face that he wasn't going to speak to him about what was wrong, so he just remained silent until they arrived at the station. Captain Sutton turned to Wes as they walked in their precinct and asked him how he knew that the young man had been murdered. Wes only answered back that his name was James Franklin, a lawyer, who had been a suspect in a number of rapes. However, before he could say anymore, their boss got called into his office with another matter. As he left, Sutton called out for them to get to work, then explain what they learned to him later on.
Wes refused to say anything more to Travis and he gave him some time to gather his thoughts, but after work that night and as they sat in front of Travis' apartment, the detective finally turned to him and asked, "Look, I get that you don't want to talk about what's bothering you, but you're acting more stand offish than usual and I can't take the silent treatment from you. I'd much rather listen to your incessant distain for the way I do my job and your smart-ass wisecracks about my family, than this; whatever this is. I need to know what's going on here if I'm going to help you."
Wes continued to stare ahead as he responded shortly, "I know."
"What, no remarks about me prying into your personal life?" Travis asked as he gently tapped Wes' leg in fun. "This really is something bad, isn't it? You can tell me, Man. I promise I won't say anything that will make you regret telling me."
"You know that I quit being a lawyer and became a cop after I sent an innocent man to prison," Wes answered sternly, still without looking at him. "I was in charge of a case, where my client's wife was killed by a serial rapist. We had a suspect, who kept claiming he was innocent, but the evidence was showing otherwise and I worked overtime to convict him, but at some point, something finally turned in the suspect's favor. However, you know how I can be and eventually, I found what I needed to convict him. When the jury came back with a guilty verdict, the suspect was devastated and he kept shouting out that he was being framed. Two days later, I discovered that the evidence had been planted by a dirty cop, but unfortunately the suspect had hung himself in his cell. By the time I found out that he had been telling the truth the whole time, he was dead. I failed him and when I apologized to his younger brother, who was living with him at the time, he flipped out and gave me the worst look of betrayal I've ever seen. That was why I quit being a lawyer."
Travis had never seen such a look of devastation on Wes' face before, but he quickly replied, "You can't blame yourself for that, Wes. The kid taking his life was not your fault. You were just doing your job. I mean, you're annoyingly obsessive when it comes to doing your job, but you were doing what you thought was right."
Wes shook his head as he said, "I messed up, Travis, and because I did, a devastated man died and his brother lost the only last living family member he had left. You cannot tell me not to blame myself."
"Okay, so what does this have to do with our new case?" Travis asked in confusion. "What makes you believe our suicide is really a murder?"
"Because our victim, James Franklin, is the real man, who murdered my client's wife," Wes responded as he finally looked over at his partner. "I did the work to find out, who really killed her when I first became a cop, but because someone else had already been convicted of his crimes, I couldn't touch him. Why would a scumbag, who spent years raping and killing, and then gets off scot free, commit suicide? Also, his victims were all strung up by their necks and made to look like suicides, and the man I sent to prison committed suicide the same way. I have a feeling that his brother killed him to get the justice I didn't give him."
Travis looked down and after a minute, turned back to look at Wes as he spoke up firmly, "I'm going to help you through this, Man. If our killer is the brother, then I promise we will do whatever we can to help him get a fair deal."
Wes answered, "Thanks, Travis. I'll see you in the morning."
"Try not to obsess over this tonight!" Travis shouted out as he got out of the car and headed up to his apartment.
"You're going to wake your neighbors with your yelling!" Wes called back.
Travis laughed as he replied, "I think you just did, not me!"
Wes was still angry and worried as he drove to his own home after his partner had finally walked inside, but he had to admit that it actually felt good to talk with someone about one his deepest regrets, though he would never tell that to Travis. If he did, he'd never hear the end of it and Travis would brag about it to their therapy group. After all, Wes had an image to maintain.
After he walked inside his house and put away his gun and badge, the first thing he did was go into his study and began to sift through a ton of files from his days as a lawyer, looking for the information he had collected over the course of this particular trial, not that he really expected to learn something more that he didn't already know by heart.
Everything was quiet as Wes expected it to be. However, as he was about to walk out into his living room, as he was concentrating on reading one of the papers in his hand, and reached out to turn on the lights, he heard the sound of the hammer of a gun being cocked back and quickly dove to the floor as the gun was suddenly fired just above him.