Using the first person point of view in fanfic can be tricky because the characters are already familiar to the reader. Author PJ got around this problem by making her narrator an original character. Join us for a glimpse at Mike Logan, Max Greevey and Don Cragen through the eyes of a troubled young woman.
Jenny hadn't looked drunk, but I should have taken the keys and driven -- in spite of not wanting to fight with my best friend, who was testing out Greg's new Mustang. For that matter, I should have turned her down a few hours earlier when she came from her house next-door and pleaded with me to go to Greg's party. But, it was too late to think of all this.
Against the glare of headlights, I knelt on the street couple of blocks from Greg's, and felt for a pulse in the elderly lady, who looked like she'd stepped from the slums of Dickens -- another wandering soul of the Big Apple.
"Is she alive?" Jenny choked.
I nodded, covering the lady's ragged clothing with my fur lined denim jacket.
"I'll get help." Greg ran toward the nearest house.
I hugged myself, trying to ward off the frigid night air of February. This was worse than us being drunk at a fraternity party, or waiting to hear the results of my pregnancy test, or helping her get money for an abortion, or any other freaking mess that we had found ourselves in.
"Caitlin?" Jenny bent down and wrapped her arm around me. "You were driving. Okay? I could go to jail and lose my basketball scholarship." She was only five feet, seven inches tall and had worked her butt off to get Notre Dame to notice her.
I bowed my head and began twisting a strand of my shoulder-length hair, which was curly and chestnut like Grandmother's. She had died before I was born and had had no idea the hell I suffered at the hands of her daughter and son-in-law.
"Where the fucking hell have you been little bitch?" The Witch moved across the living room of our two-bedroom apartment. The extension cord was swinging back and forth in her hand. "Been banging that bastard Joey Martin again, haven't you."
Just say, "Yes, Mother," and take the usual nine lashes for every year you've been born, my brain encouraged me. "What the hell do you care?"
The back of her hand busted my mouth and I landed across the room. I covered my head with my arms as the cord slashed across my body.
Joey, like every other guy in my life at the time, had been raping me.
"Hey, Caitlin." Jenny squeezed me. "You okay? You're shaking like hell."
My brain was screaming for me to disassociate myself from her for the remainder of our lives, but we'd been friends since we were eight. And, fuck-up that I am, I'm loyal.
"I'm just cold. What's my story?"
"The street's dark. You couldn't see. She stepped from out of nowhere -- a simple accident."
I went back to the car and climbed behind the wheel. I put my hands where necessary to leave evidence I had been driving. I comforted myself with the thoughts that I was taking responsibility I should have already taken; the lie really wasn't hurting anyone; an artist could make it without a scholarship -- or college for that matter -- and Dad, being a cop, could understand my loyalty. I groaned softly. Who was I freaking kidding? Donald Andrew Cragen wouldn't understand anything -- other than the fact I had disobeyed him, and that I would be completely, freaking totally responsible when the remainder of his hair parted his head.
When the patrol car arrived, God's sense of humor wasn't much appreciated by me. Across the back door of the blue and white was "27 PCT" -- Dad's precinct.
Since I hadn't been drinking, I passed the Breathalyzer, which seemed to relieve Patrolman Bowling, who had asked my name and then about any connection to Captain Cragen I might have.
"Rookie?" I asked, as we leaned against the hood of the patrol car. Jenny and Greg had already given their statements and were in the back of the car.
"Two weeks. Is it that obvious?"
I grinned. "Only when you look freaked out over the Captain's daughter being in a questionable mess."
He chuckled and opened his notebook. After jotting down my name and age and other essentials, he asked, "You were driving?"
"We were messing around in Greg's new car and I was driving pretty fast." I swallowed. "She stepped from between those parked cars. I didn't see her until it was too late."
An unmarked car pulled up and Officer Bowling excused himself to go and talk with the detectives, whom I recognized as Max Greevey and Mike Logan. Things simply could not get any better.
Max was Dad's old partner and he and his wife, Marie, came to the house on a regular basis. Ever since Dad and Mom had adopted me, Max had treated me like one of his own kids. Mike Logan, an enigma, had inserted himself into my life a couple of years ago.
"You son of a bitch!" I exploded. I'd come out of the restroom of the bar and found myself abruptly lifted off the floor and thrown over Mike Logan's shoulder. My arms were pinned and my legs were being held in a death grip.
"Police officer. She's fifteen -- as of next Monday -- and if you don't want to be arrested for the delinquency of a minor, get the fuck out of the way."
Every expletive I'd ever heard came pouring out as he carried me out to the unmarked police car, where he tossed me firmly in the back seat and slammed the door.
I screamed, drew my legs up, and hugged my knees, as tears spilled down my cheeks. "It's dark. It's dark. It's --"
"It's okay, Katie. It's okay." Mike's tender tone cut through my terror, as he lifted me out of the car into his arms. "I'm sorry, honey. I'm sorry." He rocked me, hugging me tightly.
I calmed down in what seemed like an eternity, and he helped me into the front seat. Before I could say anything, he opened the dash and handed me a flashlight, which I immediately turned on.
"Sorry," I spoke softly, looking straight ahead, "but I freak when it comes to the dark. The Monster, his friend, and that friend's son used to blindfold me and carry out their damn sick fantasies. I sleep with a night-light and a half dozen flashlights in case the power goes. I have so many flashlights because I'm afraid the batteries will be run down no matter how many I turn on."
He squeezed my arm and went to his side of the car.
"How did you know I was there?" I asked, as he cranked the car.
"The guy who owns the bar is an old friend from college. He's got a niece your age. She's five feet, nine and can pass as twenty or older." I'm five feet, ten and a half. "He has a knack for knowing when things aren't quite right -- even when they don't ask for a drink -- and calls me."
"You owe me a fucking apology," I informed him when we'd gone a couple of blocks and my anger had had time to heat back up.
"For doing my job; for caring about you -- not ever."
I snorted. "You've been Max's partner six weeks and I've seen you maybe three times. How the fucking hell can you possibly care anything about me?"
"You're Donnie's kid."
I sighed and we were silent until we were in a couple of blocks of my house.
"I know all about pain."
"Dammit, Michael, don't --"
"It's eating you alive and you're doing everything and anything to disguise all the crap."
"Thanks, Doctor Ruth, but I already got a shrink."
"How about a friend?"
"I've got Jenny."
He snorted. "You'd be better off with the fucking Mafia." He reached in his shirt pocket and pulled out a card, which he tossed in my direction, followed by a pen. "My work number. Write my home number on the back. Call anytime."
I didn't move.
"I've been full of crap my whole freaking life and, as a fellow fuck-up, I'm ordering you to take the card and write down the damn number."
"You're a pain in the ass," I mumbled as I did what I was told.
I hugged myself, wishing I hadn't given in to the temptation of defying Dad's authority, which had been happening more often than not in the past several months. There was just so much craziness going on inside me. I was scared, full of rage, and all kinds of stuff I would've been telling Dr. Southern about, but she had died from a massive heart attack six months after the bar episode with Mike, and I had simply not brought myself to trust anyone else.
I had just been grounded for two weeks because of not getting home until five in the morning, and feeling an unreasonable anger, I had gone to Greg's. Jenny and I had met him in a music store two months ago and they'd gone out a few times. She really felt something for the red headed quarterback, who would be playing for the Fighting Irish in the fall. Thing was, he was interested in me. And if I hadn't been determined not to drink at his party, he would've gotten me in bed.
I sighed. Mom, a flight attendant, was going to have one hell of a welcome when she got in tomorrow.
When we reached the station, Dad, his arms folded across his brawny physique, leaned against his door. "You want me to hire a freaking baby-sitter? Is that it?"
His hazel eyes weren't encouraging, but I tried anyway. "Dad --"
He held up his hand. "Not now. Max."
Our burly friend went in and the door closed. A feeling of desolation swept over me -- one like I hadn't felt since the night I had curled up in the altar of Sean the Priest's church.
"Mister God, I asked for help today and they all said I was a bad girl for lying. And The Witch and The Monster hurt me real bad. I didn't lie. I didn't. Please, send somebody to believe me. Please."
I lifted my head up off my arms and looked up. A giant with blonde wavy hair and the bluest I eyes I'd ever seen was holding out his hand -- Father Sean Patrick Cragen.
"He's really upset, isn't he?" Jenny's soft apologetic concern filled my ear. She hugged me.
Mike the Cop stepped around us to get to his desk that held it's usual backlog of paperwork, stacked files, and slips of papers with scribbled messages even a hieroglyphics expert would have trouble deciphering. His gray eyes were the color of dark rolling storm clouds, and the red plaid tie he had been wearing was sticking out of the pocket of his worn leather coat.
He had told me about the coat the day Dad had been shot.
The waiting room of the hospital, crowded with friends and family, began to close in on me. I got up out of my chair and went into the hall. I decided I wanted to be outside.
I ended up in a small park, a block away from the hospital.
During his first year as a detective, Dad had arrested Mr. Hannover for attempted murder. Mr. Hannover had been paroled four weeks ago and had died from a massive heart attack within two weeks -- two weeks before his fiftieth wedding anniversary. And today, the day of the anniversary, his widow had taken out her grief and rage. Dad had stepped out of the precinct, on his way to meet Mom for lunch, and Mrs. Hannover had shot him twice in the chest.
I was asking God why the fucking hell he couldn't take me, a fucked-up fifteen and a half year-old, when Mike ruffled my hair and plopped down on the bench beside me.
"He's not going to die," he said gently. He held up two fingers on his right hand. "Number two, he's too fucking stubborn." He lowered a finger. "Number one, Sean the Priest hasn't given him permission."
I giggled and tears began streaming down my cheeks. Seconds later I was sobbing into my hands.
Mike put his arm around me.
I was hurting all over and felt like I'd never be able to stop, but, finally, something inside me had enough of the idiotic loss of control. I started taking deep breaths.
When I took my hands away from my face, Mike moved his arm and handed me his handkerchief.
"When I was in college, I had an interesting date in the park," he commented.
There were times, in the past several months, I had received empathetic but heated lectures from him -- lectures I'd ignored -- but nothing like this had ever come up. I felt I was being granted some sort of honor. I stopped scrubbing my face. I kept my eyes on two toddlers, chasing bubbles.
"My old man had had his third heart attack in a year and the news wasn't good. I ran out of Mt. Sinai and ended up in this park twelve blocks away. I put my foot through a bus shelter's glass and tore my ankle up really good." He grinned. "It's a wonder I didn't have to have it amputated. Anyway, I sat down on a bench and ended up being held by this bag lady while I bawled my eyes out about my old man dying. We talked, for I don't know how long, and when I started to leave she gave me this leather coat she had stored in her suitcase."
He slammed the treasured gift down on his desk. "What the hell do you expect? His kid has done something fucking stupid."
"And I suppose you're perfect, eh, badge boy?" Greg retorted, making his hands into fists and bracing himself for a fight.
Slinging off Jenny's arm, I stepped between the two guys and pushed my fist into Greg's chest. "His name is Detective Logan or Mister Logan. Do you understand?"
"Okay. Okay. Take it easy. I was just taking care of you."
"I'm not the one she needs protecting from."
Greg shoved me aside, going for Mike. The detective dodged the blow and placed him in a hammerlock.
"Mike --" I caught my breath. I was going to be sick.
When I stepped out of the restroom, Dad gathered me up in a bear hug. "I love you, you know."
Tears sprang to my eyes. No matter how many times I'd heard those words in the last nine years, I was still totally overwhelmed at the reality of having someone care for me.
Releasing me, he passed the soda he was holding and settled his arm across my shoulders. "You okay?"
"I guess so." I took a sip of the drink. "Is Greg still breathing?"
Ruffling my bangs, he gave me a small grin as we walked toward his office. "Max made Mike and him hug and kiss and make up."
I didn't envy Max this task. Mike without a plaid tie meant he was serious or worse. I had a feeling "or worse" was the story tonight.
The door to the precinct room was open and, as I sat on the wooden chair Dad placed directly in front of his desk, I caught a glimpse of Greg with Mike and Max. "Where's Jenny?"
He closed the door and took his seat. "Hadn't you better start worrying about Caitlin?" He tilted back a little and rested his hands together on his stomach. "She's the one who was grounded for two weeks and went out anyway. Maybe two months will have more effect."
In spite of everything, familiar irrational indignation brought me out of my chair. "Why don't you just put me in jail?"
"That might just happen -- in case you've forgotten."
I closed my eyes and took a breath. "Dad --"
"Would you care to try for four months?"
"Four it is."
All the garbage inside me boiled over into rage. I bit my lip until it bled, holding back the tidal wave of words I'd never be able to take back. I kicked over the chair and slammed the door on my way out into the hall.
"Caitlin Margrette-Anne Catherine Cragen."
I was supposed to pick up the chair and close the door correctly. I couldn't. I'd wanted to pick up his paperweight and beat him. Shaking uncontrollably I sat on the floor. My back against the wall, I hugged myself and sobbed. Daddy.
I hadn't realized I'd called him out loud until he was holding me and murmuring the vague-nothings that comforted me after a nightmare.
When Jenny and Greg had gone home with their dads, Dad left me with Mike and Max and went back to his office. His door closed as I sat in the chair Mike was holding for me.
"Just tell us what happened," Max requested, smiling and giving me an encouraging look over the top of his reading glasses.
I wearily went through everything again, carefully changing some words and phrases to avoid sounding rehearsed.
Dropping his glasses on the desk, Max leaned his bulk back in his chair. He scrubbed a chunky hand over his round face and laughed softly. His blue eyes gazed thoughtfully at me. The lines on his face were clearly etched, as they were when he was exhausted. He looked liked Dad when his buttons had just been pushed to the bare limits.
I turned to Mike. His thick dark hair was mussed -- a lock had fallen across his forehead. His irregular, but attractive, features looked like he'd been in a shipwreck. And his eyes seemed darker than before. He tossed down his pen and crossed his arms on his desk. "Cut the fucking crap," he ordered softly. "We got one damn story from Jenny and another from Greg. Guess fucking whose story is just like yours."
I shoved some of his papers into the floor and stood. "Just get on with charging me with freaking reckless endangerment or whatever."
"Try freaking involuntary manslaughter or whatever," he shot back none too gently. "The Jane Doe died on the way to the hospital."
Things blurred and the room started to spin. I fell back in the chair. I felt a cup against my lips.
"Swallow." Mike supported my head with one hand, while the other held the drink, which I almost gagged on. I hate coffee.
Max's hand rested on my shoulder. "Sweetheart, I know you're trying to do the right thing by Jenny, but you've got your signals crossed. This just isn't the sort of thing a friend takes the responsibility for, for another."
"He called her Jane Doe."
"She didn't have any identification." His impatience was barely hidden. "The folks in the neighborhood said she showed up from time to time and talked to anyone who'd listen about when she used to live in that neighborhood. She never gave a name, even when asked."
"Give her one of mine," I said softly, tears clouding my vision. "Call her Catherine. Okay?"
"Sure, sweetheart." He handed me his handkerchief. "Sure. Now about this story."
"Nothing can change what happened. Whatever Greg told you, he's just protecting me."
"More than perfect, precious Jenny's ever done," Mike muttered.
"Go to hell."
"Max, I've told you what happened. Leave me the freaking hell alone."
He stormed over to Dad's door and shoved it open. "You might as well take her home."
"That fucking punk's got you wrapped up, doesn't she?" Mike sounded ready to spit flames hotter than hell.
"She's not a punk." I glared at him.
"Sorry. I forgot. She's a Girl Scout."
He caught my hand before it reached his cheek and stood up out of range. "Katie, you can't keep trying to hang on to this damned happily-ever-after-land. You can't not hurt -- reality just isn't that way." He glanced at Dad stepping from his office. "Think. Okay? Is what you're doing really worth all this crap?"
We got home around ten-thirty. The phone on the table beside the stairs rang. I answered it.
"And just where have you been, my magnificent one and only niece?" Uncle Sean's tone was gentle but firm.
I handed the phone to Dad and retreated to the kitchen.
I was eating homemade chocolate chip cookies and working on the last half of my second glass of chocolate milk, when Dad came and leaned against the door. He looked as though he wanted a drink -- a drink that would screw up ten years of sobriety. He also looked like he'd gone through fifteen hells.
Tears burning my eyes I got up for another glass of milk. I stayed by the refrigerator -- my back to him.
"I'm sorry about earlier," he said softly. "I completely overreacted, and you can forget about the four months. For that matter, forget the two months."
The apology wasn't anything -- I was used to those. The backing down on punishment was what was causing my insides to feel as though they were being ravaged piece by piece.
"None of it would do any good," he went on. "You've been covering for Jenny since you were kids and nothing I do will change how you are or what you feel. You have to make the decision to do that on your own."
The phone rang and he picked up the extension on the wall beside him. I was so caught up in trying to figure a way out of this without losing anything, I barely heard him say it was for me.
When I took the receiver, he kissed my forehead. "You need me, I'm in the study. And don't forget, I love you."
I swallowed the last half of my milk before speaking.
"I saw the lights," Jenny's concern filled my ears. "Is everything okay?"
"She's dead, Jenny."
"Yeah, I know. Your Detective Logan informed me of that, trying to get me to change my story. I'm glad it didn't work on you, either. Just stick to our story. Everything's going to be okay."
"I love you. Sweet dreams."
Feeling like I was going to explode from all the turmoil inside me, I hung up the phone, grabbed a flashlight, and slipped out the back door.
I walked several miles and found myself in a bar around midnight. A guy with nice green eyes and curly brown hair sat next to me. We went to his place, near the university, and got drunk -- the only way I wound up next to him at two-thirty in the morning. Feeling dead, I pulled on my clothes and stumbled into the living room of the small apartment.
There were two over-stuffed chairs that would have given Mike the Cop's plaid ties competition, a recliner that looked like it wanted to retire, and a portable television sitting on top of a bookcase with three shelves. The phone was on a small desk in front of the window.
I automatically punched in Mike's number. I hung up before it went through. I called for a cab. I wanted to go home on my own this time.
When I let myself in the front door, my sense of smell was pleasantly assaulted by the fantastic aroma of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies; Dad's were to die for -- so was his lasagna.
I was headed for the kitchen when he came through the door.
"Caitlin. Thank God."
His bear hug was so tight I thought my ribs were going to crack.
"Daddy." I laughed.
"Sorry." He kissed my forehead. "I made lasagna."
I kissed his cheek and followed him into the kitchen.
Neither of us said much of anything while we ate, content just to let things be for those moments of a semi-relaxed companionship.
Finally, Dad pushed back his chair and rested his hands on his stomach. "I can't tell a single thing you've done outside this house in the last three years -- other than family, church, and school functions," he said, huskily. "I understand that it's easier sometimes to go to others with certain things, but you go to Sean or Mike with everything." He made fists and placed them together. "This is my heart. Your Mom's one half. You're the other half. And nothing is going to remove you -- not ever. You're my daughter. Please, trust me and let me take care of you."
"That's why I came home," I whispered, tears streaming down my cheeks.
We stopped talking a few minutes past six-thirty. I still hadn't told him the truth about the bag lady, but he didn't press me. He just kissed the top of my head and went to get ready for work.
I needed aspirin, a shower, and my bed, but I went over to the phone and dialed Jenny's number. She answered on the first ring.
"Where have you been? I told your dad you were here when he called last night, and would be home first thing this morning."
"I've been here and there. Look, I'm being charged with involuntary manslaughter." I was hoping she would help me out somehow.
"Hell, you hadn't been drinking. They'll go easy on you."
"Dammit, Caitlin, do you want me to lose everything I've worked for over a nobody?"
My grip tightened around the receiver. "A nobody?"
"Hell, yes. She doesn't have a damn name. She's a freaking Jane Doe -- a nobody."
My face burned and I wanted to throw something.
"I'm nobody, too, Miss Thompson."
I slammed down the phone, kicked over the chair I'd been sitting in, and knocked over the small table kept under the phone for paper and pens. Then, I hurled the dirty dishes at the wall. I sat in the floor with my face buried in my arms.
"Sweetheart, what's wrong?" Dad sat beside me and put his arm around my shoulders.
I didn't answer.
"Hey." He kissed my head. "You in there?"
"They kept me boxed in like fucking cattle," I choked out, "pulling the damn strings on their toy. All I could do was fuck when they said fuck and pray the earth would swallow me -- even if I'd landed in hell, I wouldn't have been in more pain. Daddy, Jenny's done me the same fucking way."
He held me in his arms as I wept.