Hi, Just a quick couple of points. To begin with this is my very first fan fic so I hope you enjoy it. I would really appreciate it if you could take the time to review, thanks! Tthis story has not yet been beta read. Also here is my disclaimer: Nothing to do with Diagnosis Murder is owned by me. But I can but dream...:)
The sunlight was fading and an eerie silence had crept over the beach as the last few travellers took their leave. Steve loved this time of day. The quiet and calmness helped him to think and the beauty of the sunset always restored serenity to his mood no matter how bad his humour. The ocean lapping at his feet soothed him with its gentle whisper and the soft breeze on his face comforted his troubled soul.
Just six months ago he had been shot in the line of duty. Shot while enjoying a few moments of hard fought down time with colleagues. He had been so busy in the aftermath with his own recovery and fighting his father's conviction he had locked his memories of the shooting itself away in a dark corner of his mind. Now feeling comforted and protected and in a safe place he allowed himself to remember. He remembered the banter with colleagues, the less than salubrious diner, and all hell breaking loose. He remembered the searing pain tearing through his body. He remembered the titanic struggle against the magnetic pull of the beautiful, bright light and the peaceful and painless place beyond that softly called to him. He remembered the smiling face and calm reassurance of his best friend as he finally won the battle back to consciousness. But the most intense and anguished memory was the cruel, elaborate and meticulous campaign waged against his father.
He had asked for Mark over and over. Jesse and Amanda had skilfully avoided giving Steve the answers they knew he wasn't strong enough to hear. But his panic and fear had rose with every passing second until eventually he HAD to know.
"Jesse either you tell me what the hell has happened to my father or I walk out of this hospital right now and find out for myself."
"Huh I'd like to see ya try!"
Fine! He gotten as far as trying to swing his legs out of bed without getting tangled in the drip wires when Jesse had broke.
"Okay Okay you win. Let me help you back into bed and I'll explain everything…on one condition."
Steve stopped dead. All his anger and irritation melted away with those three words….on one condition. Jesse didn't put conditions on the health of his patients especially Steve and Mark's. This was bad. "Go on."
He remembered the initial shock and utter disbelief as Jesse and Amanda had explained his Fathers absence. This had been quickly followed by intense anger exacerbated by guilt and frustration for every moment he was unable to help him. . Later when he had discharged himself from hospital and on his own cognisance had appointed himself to his father's case his anger had turned into a frightening, steely determination to prove beyond doubt his fathers innocence and bring the guilty party to book. Having achieved this some three months ago he had brought his father home and gone back to work.
He let out a soft sigh as his thoughts came back to the present. He had felt strange for weeks but hadn't been able to figure out why. So he had come down to his special place. Just being there alone hidden from the rest of the world by sand-dunes as familiar to him as the back of his own hand was usually enough to melt away any demon haunting him. But today he felt anger rising slowly and defiantly from the very depth of his soul. "Damn" His hand slammed down on the age-ravaged wood beneath him. The timber that bore his weight shook silently absorbing the sudden attack on the frail formation weakened by many years of gentle caressing by the salt soaked waters. "What's wrong with me? I get shot, by some miracle survive and I'm still not happy. I could have died…." Finally…Finally that emptiness he had been carrying around with him made sense. Slowly he put voice to the words "I…nearly…died". Oh he had been in Community General Hospital so many times he could find his way round it blindfolded. But this time was different. This time could have been the last time.
Shakily he started to wonder what would have happened if things had been different. If he had died would his father know how much he loved him, how much his strength and courage had meant to him, how much his humour and warmth had sustained him? Then he thought about Jesse and Amanda. Would Amanda know how much he depended on her kindness and compassion? How much he loved being around CJ? How he felt he could never repay her for the unending support she had given his father over the years? Would Jesse know how his infectious laughter and cheeky naivety had brought Steve back from the brink after many a hard day? Would he know that Steve looked on him as the little brother he never had and found it impossible to imagine life without him? Would he know that Steve had prized every second afforded him by Jesse's talent as a doctor the many times he had fixed his broken body?
Until now he had taken it as a given that those closest to him knew how he felt about them. He had known since he had first become a cop that every time he went into work his life was on the line. Had known that one day he could walk out of the house in the morning and never come back. But until now he hadn't thought about the impact that would have on those closest to him. He thought about the will he had drawn up dividing his most treasured possessions amongst those he loved and it seemed so cold so clinical. He needed something more personal, something that would leave those he cared for in no doubt just how much, something that reached out from his soul and touched the hearts of those he would leave behind should the worst ever happen. He had never been much of a wordsmith. But instinctively felt that putting what he wanted to say on paper would fulfil his sudden desire to reach out to his father and friends.
Many hours and countless screwed up bits of paper later he sat at the desk in the living room of his apartment putting the finishing touches to the third and final letter and the hardest to write…..the one for his father. Putting his pen down he reread the letters before him and smiled. For now there could be no uncertainty, ambiguity or doubt. Everything he wanted to say was there in Black and White.
He wanted Jesse to keep the letters he knew that much. Having to explain to Mark or Amanda what the letters were for would have been too hard and he knew he could trust Jesse absolutely to distribute the letters should it become necessary. So that night as the two of them sat watching the ball game on Pay per View beer in hand and empty Popcorn dish on the table he put his plan into action.
"Jesse I need to ask a favour."
"Sure, anything." Still trying to keep up with the game on TV Jesse wasn't really paying much attention to the conversion until…
"I want you to hold on to some letters for me. If anything ever happens to me I want you to give them to Dad and Amanda…. and there's one for you too." A little uncomfortable with the sudden change in tone and not wanting to dwell on the possibility of Steve's death Jesse tried to make light of the situation. "Okay. But you know your not going anywhere for years right? With a highly skilled and may I say devastatingly handsome doctor as your best friend you've got it locked down right? " Not hearing the witty comeback he was expecting Jesse turned to look at Steve and his stomach turned at the serious expression that met him.
"Jess I've seen you in action in the ER. I've seen you dead on your feet after a double shift and still come to life when the next emergency comes through the doors. I've seen the compassion and sincerity in your eyes when you have had to tell someone bad news and the sadness and frustration that kills you a little inside when a patient doesn't make it. You care about people so deeply that quite simply you were born to be a doctor and any other job…well there just isn't any other job. Is there? That's why I know you'll understand when I say this. I'm a cop Jess. I see things that turn my stomach over and listen to people tell me about the most horrific things imaginable. But then I'll see the look of pure joy on a parents face when we bring their child home safe and sound or feel the sense of satisfaction when a murderer or rapist is put away knowing the streets are just that little bit safer. I love my job and could never see myself doing anything else. But we both know there are risks and that's what the letters are about." Taking a deep breath and watching his best friend carefully Steve continued. "Every cop goes out every day knowing it could be their last and if tomorrow is mine I need to know these letters will be delivered. But there's no obligation here Jess. If it's a little too weird, if it's something you don't feel comfortable with that's ok. I'll find another way."
Taken aback Jesse just sat silently for a few seconds trying to make sense of his friend's uncharacteristically emotional and eloquent words. Seeing the fire in his friend's eyes and hearing the passion and determination in his words Jesse made his decision. The letters changed hands and the subject was forgotten amidst the shouts and cheers of the ball game.
Two nights later Steve, Mark, Jesse and Amanda settled round the dinner table having been presented with another sumptuous feast cooked by Mark's skilled hand. Conversation was flowing, laughter was echoing around the apartment and everyone was in high spirits intoxicated by good food and pleasant company. The conversation having gradually faded the four sated and contented, silently savoured a rare few moments of total peace. It was the unexpected sound of Jesse's knife and fork hitting his plate with such force that got the attention of Mark, Amanda and Steve and the subsequent outburst that kept it.
"I read the letter."
Jesse paused expecting an extremely animated response from at least one of his friends if not all three. Nothing appeared to be forthcoming so he tried again.
"Steve I…I read the letter."
His earlier abruptness now softening he continued before anyone could stop him. "I didn't want to open that letter someday and spend the rest of my life regretting that we never talked about it when we had the chance."
"I'm sorry Jess. I…I just wanted you to know how I felt. The words were never there...I tried… But could never say… I really needed you all to know… In case….In case something happens to me".
"I gotta tell ya. When I read it I couldn't believe that letter was written by the same Steve Sloan that would rather take on double traffic duty than talk about his feelings. But wow can you write. It was amazing and those words will stay with me for the rest of my life. But Steve I already knew. I know because you show me every day in a hundred ways. The banter we have between us, the warnings you give me about interfering in your investigations, the unlimited pay-per-view…well okay maybe not unlimited as such…."Jesse stole a glance at his best friend sat at the table, head in his hands, his joke about the pay per view unnoticed. Undaunted he pressed on. "On their own they're all little things but put together they tell me everything I need to know."
Again silence descended as Steve too stunned to speak struggled to find the right way to express the heartfelt gratitude welling up inside him.
"I read mine too." The confession spoken quickly and nervously had come from Amanda. "And Jesse is right. The solid support when I've needed a shoulder to cry on, the way the CJ looks up to you and looks forward to the time you spend together, the free lunches at BBQ Bob's"….a smile came to everyone lips but Amanda wasn't finished. "Those are the things I cherish Steve because those little things tell me everything I need to know."
"I…I don't know what to say."
Now it was Mark's turn. "That's exactly what we're trying to tell you. You don't need eloquent speeches or letters to express yourself. You do it in thought and deed every day. When you worry that I'm working too hard, when your there to listen to an old man's problems, when you give me a ride to the hospital when my car's in the shop. All crazy little things it's easy to take for granted and all your way of showing you care. Steve we know that you love us, we always have and we love you too."
Looking round the table into the eyes of his father and friends and seeing the love he had been trying to convey reflected back at him he suddenly felt at peace and knew that the Trainors and everything they had put him through was finally behind him.