Closure And Other Theories
A/N: This one is a Fic A Day effort. I don't know that there will be any more in this vein, so rather than have a series with only two stories, I'm tacking it on here.
Jim Brass wasn’t even sure why he was there, really. After all, it wasn’t like she had known Warrick. She was just a witness. A girl who happened to be in the wrong place a few minutes too late to do anything but watch a guy die. But her kindness had stuck in his mind. Usually it was him expressing sympathy to victims’ loved ones for what felt like the millionth time, and feeling a little hollower every time he had to say it.
She had left a cell phone number on her statement, but he felt like this was more appropriate. She’d said she came to the diner often enough. And usually came in the back. He’d been waiting for ten minutes.
Finally, the girl he’d been waiting on walked in. She looked pretty much the same, except for the look in her eyes. The last time he’d seen them, they had held concern, and regret. This time…there was a mix of pain and anger and resignation. It got to him. He knew that look. He saw it every time he looked in a mirror lately.
She looked surprised to hear her name, but she recovered and oriented on him fairly quickly.
“Detective…Brass, wasn’t it? Didn’t expect to see you here.”
“I was hoping I’d run into you, actually. Mind if I have a cup of coffee with you?”
“I was going to do breakfast ,” she said. “But you’re welcome to have your coffee while I eat.”
“Sure,” he agreed lightly.
He flagged the hostess, who showed them to a booth with a slight look of surprise. He’d found out from the staff that Faith usually ate at the counter. She was always alone.
“So, Faith,” he began, feeling awkward now that he’d actually found her. “You’re probably wondering why I’m contacting you this way.”
“Yeah, a little,” she said. “I left my phone number with you that night. Figured if you needed to ask any more questions, you’d use that.”
“This isn’t actually official,” he told her. “I just thought you’d like to know we caught the guy.”
As he’d expected, there was a gleam in her eye. A hint of satisfaction, and vengeance- for all the good it did. To his surprise, he realized she’d caught him looking.
“It won’t bring your man Warrick back, I know. But it’s something, right?”
“You’re not going to ask who?”
“Nah. Pretty sure I already know. Dirty cop?”
“Yeah,” he said heavily. “Dirty cop.”
“Going to ask why I wasn’t a little more honest in my statement?”
“No, that part I get. Was going to ask who did your fake background, actually.”
That got a genuine startle reaction. He could tell she was only a split second from bolting. He should have seen that coming. For all he knew, she was in the witness protection program. He doubted it, though. The fake background was a little too good for that.
“Relax. If I thought you were a problem, we’d be doing this downtown. I just wondered, is all. Maybe I shouldn’t be asking.”
She laughed mirthlessly.
“No, you can ask. Don’t think you’d really want to hear the answers though.”
For a second, her face was so dead and wooden that he knew he didn’t want to hear the answers. Whatever she had run from, it was bad.
“I got a second chance,” she told him quietly. “I know I’m damn lucky to get that. Most people don’t. But now that I have it, there’s a part of me convinced I don’t really deserve it. And every time I see something like what happened to your friend, I feel like I’ve failed. Let someone else down. Even if I didn’t know them.”
“Don’t blame yourself for things that are out of your control, Faith. It’s a bad idea.”
“You sound like you speak from experience.”
“Something like that.”
The silence lengthened, but it wasn’t an uncomfortable one. Brass sipped his coffee while Faith all but inhaled a large order of pancakes.
“So is he alive or dead?”
“Huh?” It took Brass a minute to catch up with her thought process. “Oh, right. Alive. He tried to get a CSI who had been close to Warrick to shoot him, but Nick didn’t bite.”
“Did the right thing,” Faith mused. “Good guy. I have a friend like that. Always wondered how she did it.”
“Wouldn’t you?” Brass asked.
“Do the right thing?” Faith looked thoughtful. “I don’t know. There was a time when I definitely wouldn’t have. Now maybe I would. But I don’t think anyone really knows until they’re facing that situation what they’d really do. Until it’s real, you’re only talking about what you think you’d do or what you hope you’d do.”
“I guess that’s true.”
The crackle of his radio interrupted, 419 on Hilo Ave.
Faith’s face held a knowing look.
“You gotta go.”
He sighed. It was never over.
Faith looked up as he rose, tossing a twenty onto the table, which covered both his coffee and her breakfast with a generous tip for the waitress.
“Hey, Detective…if you want to talk again sometime, you can use the phone. I mean, not that I’m a therapist or anything…”
Brass gave her a wry smile.
“I’ll see you around. Try to stay out of trouble.”