A/N: I do not own Longmire. Original plot is mine and nothing else.
Vic Moretti was still trying to figure out why her boss had been so insistent on sending her out to talk to someone that he was literally a minute's walk away from the entire time he was calling back to the station when she pulled into the parking lot next to the high school's sports center. A crowd of kids were spread out over the outdoor fields, between the baseball diamond and the soccer pitch. Vic pushed the long sleeves of her thermal shirt up above her elbows and stuffed her hands in her pockets as she made her way towards the pitch. She couldn't help but mutter some choice words under her breath as she walked. She knew from checking in at the administration office that he had already been there today, talking to the teacher who reported this possible missing student. It had to be something else. Walt may have been a hard ass on a good day, but he was a logical one. But what was it about a seemingly innocuous seventeen-year-old high school student that made Walt Longmire run and hide?
She got her answer sooner than expected when the sound of yelling started to reverberate around the pitch as she made her approach. She looked up in time to see a leggy blonde make a beeline for a redhead who didn't seem incredibly bothered by the idea.
"What the hell was that?" The blonde barely got the epithet out before a middle aged guy in sweats jumped into the middle of it.
"Brenna, watch that mouth." The blonde stalked off in the opposite direction as the coach turned to the redhead. "Lexi, you know my policy. You're on the bench."
"Hey, what the hell happened to three strikes?" Vic realized with more than a little disdain that she may have just figured out who she needed to be talking to, and it didn't sound like she was going to be in an amazing mood.
"Between that pretty move and your attitude, I think we've covered it, Marlowe. Bench, now."
Deciding that she had better proceed on eggshells, Vic made her way towards the coach rather than the fuming player. "Excuse me, can I speak with you for a moment?"
The coach turned around, obviously still steaming from having to break up a fight. But he managed a deep exhale before speaking. "Yeah, sure. You from the sheriff's office?"
"Deputy Victoria Moretti. I'm looking for a player of yours, Alexis Marlowe?"
Vic wasn't all that surprised when the coach burst out laughing at the mention. She probably would have done the same thing in his position. "Of course you are. Well, she's right over there. Approach with caution, though. That one may actually be a biter."
He moved off to start hollering at his defensive lineup while Vic took a second to gather herself. She couldn't help but actually be afraid of that biting possibility. However, she moved over to the set of wooden benches, littered with gym bags and water bottles.
Alexis was pounding back on her own sports drink, her elbows resting on her knees as she frowned at the field. She seemed a bit short for her age, probably just around the five foot three mark. Her outfit was a nauseating combination of three tank tops, all different colors and none of which seemed to coordinate with any of the others, and a pair of gym shorts emblazoned with her school's logo. Upon closer inspection, her hair seemed to be less of a fiery shade and more of an auburn, pulled back in a ponytail with a braid running along the side of her head.
She looked up, obviously ready to be incredibly pissed with whoever was bothering her. Vic wasn't sure what exactly about her appearance chilled the venom, but her shoulders visibly relaxed. "How can I help you?"
"My name is Deputy Moretti. One of your teachers suggested that we come and talk to you about a friend of yours. Brandon Caldwell?"
Suddenly, the fire was back in Alexis' eyes, but Vic wasn't entirely sure if it was because of fear or rage. She stood up and got right in Vic's face, but it wasn't a confrontation. There was a pleading there, a strong sense of worry. Maybe it was fear in her eyes. She was pushing for answers even before she opened her mouth. "What happened? I swear, I have been texting him and trying to call him. I would try the house, but … is he okay? Where is he?"
"Woah, slow down, kid. I'm not superhuman."
This didn't seem to sit well with Alexis. "Well, just, is he okay?"
"How about we sit down and swap information, okay? You look like you could use the break." She didn't look happy about it, but Alexis let Vic guide her back onto the bench. "Why don't you start? Your teacher said that you and Brandon are close."
Alexis held her head in her hands as she spoke. "My family moved here when I was in fourth grade. Bran was the only kid who asked a question about me when the teacher prompted. We've been best friends ever since. I tell him everything, and until this week, I thought it was mutual."
"The office said that Brandon hasn't been in school since Friday. You mentioned that he wasn't answering calls."
"He never misses school unless something is seriously wrong with the boys, but they've both been at school. I know, I went and checked over lunch on Monday as soon as Bran didn't show up for physics. Come hell or high water, Bran is always in school. I can't even bring myself to..."
"Hey, we don't need to be thinking that way. Why wouldn't you have tried calling the house?"
Alexis snorted as though the answer should have been written all over her face. "Even though the odds are fairly slim that that bastard doesn't have something to do with where Bran's gone, I did not want to run the risk of alerting him should he actually not have noticed that he was gone."
Vic raised her eyebrows. "Care to elaborate?"
Alexis had about a moment of hesitation, although she tried to hide it behind her bottle of sports drink. Vic couldn't help but sense that the fire was still burning. "Bran's mom died a year ago last Christmas. She got diagnosed with leukemia, and it was too aggressive for them to help her very much at that point. Ever since, his dad hasn't cared about him or the boys. To top it all off, the alcohol has gone straight to his ego so he is constantly thinking that Bran is trying to steal his 'role in the family', which is hilarious because he probably doesn't even remember the boys' names." Alexis exhaled hard and stood up before quickly sitting back down.
Vic raised an eyebrow. "Has Family Services been contacted?"
"Oh, I've tried. But they aren't going to listen to a minor. The school needs 'evidence', and no matter how hard I push him, Bran isn't willing to say anything. He's worried that they would separate him and the boys. So he just keeps making up excuses for the injuries." Now Alexis did stand up, obviously in too much of a frenzy to be pinned down in one place. "I'm telling you, deputy, if anything has happened to Bran, that bastard is responsible. Mark my words."
"Your words have been so marked." By nature, Vic didn't trust, and honestly, this kid was starting to rub her the wrong way. She wished that she had gotten a chance to talk to Walt before heading out here so she at least knew if he had any sort of inkling that there might actually be trouble versus a kid having just given up on high school. She determined that there weren't any other questions that she needed to, or rather felt like asking, so she stood up to dismiss herself. But she only got a few steps before she turned around again.
"Can I ask you an off the record question?"
Alexis dragged her arm across her mouth after taking another long drink. "Sure. About Bran?"
"No, about you, actually."
Alexis raised her eyebrows. "Um, okay. I guess."
Vic thought for about half a second that maybe this wasn't her place. But the next thought amounted to screwing Walt and getting an answer the old fashioned way. Besides, this girl was probably ten times more likely to give a clear reason, seeing as how Walt tended to be all about the ambiguity these days.
"Is there any reason the sheriff would be less than inclined to have come to do this interview himself?"
Alexis laughed. "Well, it actually depends on who you ask. He might think there's a reason even if I don't." Vic simply raised an eyebrow, which seemed to provide her with enough information to proceed. "My father used to work with Walt. That's why my family's here in the first place." Alexis hesitated before procedeeding. "Dad was killed in the line of duty about a year and a half ago. Walt's been avoiding me ever since. My guess is that he's assumed that I'm pissed at him, a fact which is entirely not the case. However, I can say that I'm pissed at him for assuming that I would hold a grudge."
Vic shoved her hands in her pockets. "Alright, then. Thanks for that. Sorry for your loss."
Alexis shrugged. "My father made sure he ended every conversation the two of us had with telling me goodbye. I was bred for this possibility long before I ever knew Walt Longmire."
The coach whistled and hollered for Alexis to come in for a huddle. "It was a pleasure meeting you, Deputy Moretti. If you find out anything about Bran, I would appreciate an update."
"I'll do my best." Vic called after her, but her mind was already back in the game.