...Or So It Seems
By Maquis Leader

Rated R

Author’s note: This story is set in the Season 6: Reloaded universe. It stands alone and you don't need to read the other chapters before you read this one, but I invite you to do so. Please see the note on the main page.

Author’s note 2: The first section of this story is by Thyboz, her chapter was titled Starting Over… and this one started exactly where it left off.

Previously on Third Watch:



During his years on the force, Bosco has tried to get ahead, to do real police work. Every attempt has ended in disaster until he finally gave up and accepted his role as a beat cop. With Faith at his side, it wasn’t such a bad prospect.

 

A year ago Bosco was secure in his world; he was one of New York's finest, kicking butt and taking names. All thoughts of moving up past beat cop were behind him; after his experiences with Cruz and Hobart, that was a dream best left unfulfilled. Faith was back at his side and their friendship was on the mend.


Then revenge took it all away from him. Four bullets took away his career and nearly his life. While Bosco struggled to regain his footing, Faith was promoted out of his reach and left him behind. And when it finally seemed he was back on track to coming back to the only life he fit into -- his number one strength became his biggest weakness.

Bosco's left eye was damaged beyond repair by the bullet that tore through his face, making it impossible for him to re-qualify. Partnership came to his rescue once again, and a corrective lens brought his vision back to normal. Now he’s ready to reclaim the life that used to be his.

 

Bosco walked back into the 55th ready to start over. He just didn’t realize exactly what that meant.

 

 

 

From Episode 59: Starting Over…

 

 

Warm cheers of welcome immediately greeted him, and his worry left him as he felt at home again.

He opened his arms as if he was some kind of returning hero showing that he was still alive.

“Yeah, I’m back… to show you all how it’s done, ladies.”

A few chuckles answered his statement, and he shook both Sully’s and Ty’s hands as he walked by them to his locker.

“So it’s the big day, huh?” Ty said as he changed next to him.

“Yeah, it is… Are you guys ready for it?” Bosco joked as he opened his locker and set about to change.

He go into his uniform, like he had done only a few hours early, and the same feeling of unease took hold of him. He tried to ignore it, and went on, grabbing his bullet-proof vest. The noise and voices in the room slowly faded out of his mind as he took the vest in both his hands and slowly slide it over his head. This could have stopped two of his bullets. This had to stop any of the other ones that could be shot his way.

As he secured the last strap around him, he thought he heard his name being called and he snapped his head back up.

“What?”

Sully was standing next to their row of lockers. “Do you know if you’ll be getting right back in an RMP?”

“I don’t know, but I’ll be damned if they don’t put me in a car.” He grabbed his uniform shirt and sat down on the bench.

As he slid the shirt on, he thought of what it would be like to get back in 55-David, and excitement filled him. Instinctively, he glanced at Faith’s locker, and for a split second, a stupid, irrational second, a thought crossed his mind and he panicked. Faith wasn’t there, standing at her locker getting changed; something had to be wrong with her; she was always there. Then the second was over, and his mind made sense of the emptiness and told him that he should get used to the view. She wasn’t going to stand there anymore, her place was elsewhere now. Get that in your head, Boscorelli.

He glanced down as he buttoned his shirt, not so much because he needed to see what he was doing than to hide the sadness that had suddenly took hold of him. It had been foolish of him to fight so hard to have things back the way they used to be. They’ll never be the way they used to, certainly not without Faith as a partner and in that car with him. Maybe he hadn’t seen things the way he should have.

This wasn’t about going back to the way things used to be; it was about making a fresh start. He was starting over.

With that idea in mind, Bosco got back up, fully dressed, and tried to get used to being in uniform again. He moved his arms around and pulled on the collar of his shirt, before tucking the shirt in and smoothing it against him vest. If only starting over meant he didn’t need to get used to wearing the vest again.

“Are you alright?” Ty’s voice reminded him that, unlike in his room earlier, he wasn’t alone this time. Maybe he shouldn’t show his discomfort so much.

“Just trying to break everything back in…” He said as he looked back at both Ty and Sully, who were ready and waiting for him. They nodded at him and remained silent as he gathered his things and threw them in his locker.

The room had become quieter, and Bosco realized it was probably time for roll call by now. He heard the door to the room open, and he suddenly hoped that Faith would appear next to Sully. Instead he heard another voice call.

“Roll call!” Bosco couldn’t believe he’d actually missed Swersky’s voice saying that. A few more officers left the room, and Bosco saw Swersky appear besides Sully as he slammed his locker shut. “Bosco, can I talk to you for a minute?”

“Huh… sure, boss…” Bosco glanced uncertainly at Sully and Ty, who glanced back with curiosity before they made their way out of the room. When the room was clear, Bosco looked back at Lieu. “What is it?”

Swersky looked at him for a few seconds, his expression unreadable. When he finally spoke, his voice was hard and bossy.

“I need you to clear out your locker. You don’t work here anymore.”

Bosco’s heart stopped. Or at least he thought it had. Because he couldn’t move or speak. And he certainly couldn’t have heard what he’d just heard. Confusion slowly took hold of him as he held his boss’s gaze. Was this some kind of really bad joke?

“What?” he finally choked out.

“You heard me. Clear out your stuff.”

Bosco felt like he was watching the scene but couldn’t do anything about it. He was so shocked he didn’t even see the small grin that started to appear on Swersky’s face. If he’d noticed, he might have comprehended his boss’s next words.

“Detective’s lockers are upstairs.”

 

 



Episode 60: ... Or So It Seems




“The detective’s lockers are upstairs.”

Bosco looked from Lieu to his locker and back. “I don’t understand – you’re throwin’ me out?”

“I don’t know, Lieu – “ Captain Elchisak stepped into the locker room. “Maybe we’re wrong – maybe Bosco doesn’t have the smarts to be a detective after all.”

“Detective?” What were they talking about? He was here in uniform, ready to go back to work – and early for once – and Lieu was kicking him out? Or upstairs to man a desk? As much as he wanted to work with Faith again, he didn’t want to sit around and do her paperwork.

Faith slipped around the officers standing in the locker room doorway, panting from her run up the stairs. “What’s going on? Bosco into trouble already?”

“Not yet.” Sully laughed as he and Davis followed her back into the locker room. “Even Bosco doesn’t work that fast.”

“He’s been promoted.” Davis told her. “Lieu said he’s a detective now. Only I don’t think Bosco’s getting the message.”

“Oh my God, Bosco!” She threw her arms around Bosco, hugging him tightly. “You’re going to be upstairs with me!”

Bosco tugged at the arm she had wrapped around his neck. “Doing paperwork?”

“Doing paperwork is part of the job. Lord knows you’ve made me do more than my share over the years.” Lieu laughed at the confusion on Bosco’s face. “You’re being promoted Bosco.”

“Promoted?” He was having one of those dreams again. Pretty soon he’d be the President and be lounging on a beach somewhere with Faith and sipping a cold beer.

“Promoted.” Stick confirmed. “For service above and beyond the call.”

“If I’d known getting shot would get me promoted, I’d have stopped wearin’ a vest years ago.” Bosco joked. It was starting to sink in. He was awake and he was being promoted.

“It wasn’t because you let yourself be used for target practice, Bosco.” The captain held back a laugh. “It’s for the work you did bringing down Mann’s organization.”

“I didn’t do anything.” Shrugging, he tried to hide his embarrassment. “I was just doing my job, like I do every day.”

“Detective Wynn’s reports were very clear – you and Faith did a lot of work on the case – not to mention the work you’ve done on other cases. Including putting Lester Martin behind bars.”

“That was Faith.” He hadn’t been around when Faith had brought Lester the Molester in. “She did all that.”

“I got Rebecca to her family, Bos, but we figured out what was going on together. You and me.” A portion of the guilt she’d been carrying lifted off her shoulders. Faith hugged Bosco again. “You deserve it, Bos. More than me.”

“Don’t say that., that’s not true.” He hugged her back quickly before letting her go.

“Enough of the mutual admiration society.” Sully slapped Bosco on the back. “Get out of here and leave the locker for somebody who’ll do some real police work.”

“More room for your donuts you mean.” Bosco caught Sully’s arm and gave it a quick squeeze. Just enough to show his appreciation but not long enough for it to be weird.

“Break up the party, ladies. Roll call’s in one minute.” Lieu stepped aside as Sully and the remaining officers filed out of the locker room. “Bosco, get changed and get upstairs.”

“Yes, sir.”

“I’ll get a couple of boxes.” Faith patted his back as she left. “There’s an empty locker next to mine you can have.”

“Congratulations, Bosco. Now hurry up, your new partner’s waiting.” Stick turned to leave.

“New – Captain? New partner?” Bosco called after him.

Stopping in the doorway, Stick smiled gently at the lost expression on Bosco’s face. “You’ll be paired with a veteran detective. It’s standard procedure.”

“Faith’s a vet, right?” The high of being promoted started to fade. “She can show me the ropes.”

“Faith’s hardly a vet. She’s been on the job less than a year, remember?”

“No.” For once Bosco didn’t try to pretend that he hadn’t lost almost a year of his life. “No, I don’t remember. I don’t remember anything!”

Stick came back into the locker room and closed the door. “Bosco, I know you want to work with Faith. You two have been together a long time – “

“Thirteen years.”

“Thirteen years.” He continued without missing a beat. “And I’ll be the first to agree that the two of you have done some damn good work together. Catching that jagoff killing those little girls, finding that lost heart, and the armored car robbery – downtown screwed you out of the credit – but it was you and Faith who tracked down the perps on that one.”

Their record was full of instances where someone else ended up with the credit, including bringing Noble and Buford down. Somehow Cruz was the shining star once again. “I know everything we’ve done, boss. I know we work best with each other, and you know it, too.”

“Between the two of us, I think you’re going to take to the job easier than Faith has. You’ve spent time in Anti Crime and you’re more confident of abilities.” Personally, Stick wasn’t sure Faith was cut out to be a detective, but he kept that to himself. “You and Faith will be partners again, Bosco. Just give it some time.” Stick held his hand out. “You’re going to do a hell of a job.”

Reluctantly, Bosco shook his hand. He almost felt like he was selling his soul to the devil.

“Just give it some time, son.”

“I will, boss. Thanks.” Stick left and Bosco sat down on the bench and began unbuttoning his shirt. No more riding around with a squawking radio clipped to his shoulder and twenty pounds of equipment hanging from his belt. No more freezing his ass off in winter and sweating rivers in summer. No more chasing skells down or working a crowd while the detectives took all the credit. No more directing traffic for the bucket boys. I gotta be dreaming.

“Bosco?” Faith dropped the boxes on the floor. “What the hell are you doing? Hurry up and change.”

“Huh?” He looked up at her, shaking away the vision of thumbing his nose at the bucket boys.

“Let’s go.” Reaching into his locker, she started putting his things into a box. “You don’t want to miss Jelly’s speech on what coffee cup you get to use.”

“Get outta here and I’ll get changed.” Bosco pulled his shirt off and begin unfastening his vest.

“What, like I’ve never been in here when you’ve changed before?” She ignored him.

“It’s been a long time.”

“Whatever. Your body’s safe – hurry up.”

Yeah, I know I’m safe. More of his good feeling was eaten by the sadness of knowing that Faith would never return his feelings for her.

It was true that they’d both changed in the same locker room for years, and it’d look strange for him to go hide in the shower and change, so Bosco grabbed his street clothes and slid further down the bench so Faith could finish emptying his locker.

“You were gone.”

“What?”

“When I got here.” Shrugging out of the bullet proof vest, he tossed it in one of the boxes Faith had brought. “I figured you’d be here.”

“I did too. Then Jelly drags me out on a call – turns out he was supposed to keep me busy so I didn’t spill the beans. Drove me around in a big freaking circle for half an hour.” She made circular motions with her hand.

“Did you know?”

“About your promotion? No, though I’ve been telling anybody who’ll listen that you deserved it.” Faith turned to look at him, the scars on his torso were still pink and rough looking. Quickly, she turned away before Bosco could catch her staring. “For a minute, I figured Lieu was sending you to another house.”

“I figured he was firing me.” Bosco pulled his jeans up and fastened them. They were still a little loose on him, but he was closer to normal than he ever thought he’d be.

“After the city pins new medals on you? Not likely.”

“We’re not going to be partners.”

“I know.”

“You know?”

Looking up, Faith saw the hurt in the midnight blue eyes. The look was one of betrayal. “I didn’t know, Bosco. I just assumed. They’re not going to turn a rookie out with someone who’s pretty much still a rookie herself.”

“Oh.” He frowned. “We’re not rookies.”

“As detectives we are.”

“Thirteen years on the force, we sure as hell aren’t rookies.” That burned his ass. Jelly better not call him a rookie. “Crap, where am I going to carry my gun?” Without his gun belt, all he had was his ankle holster.

“We’ll get you a belt holster. I did grab you something from supply for you, though.” Faith handed him a leather clip. “Put your shield on this.”

“I guess detectives don’t wear the chain?” Which was good because his badge around his neck made him feel a little gay, not to mention the time Cruz had twisted it and nearly choked him to death. And that was when she was being gentle.

“Nope. We’re supposed to look more professional.” A smile quirked her lips. “Which means you’ll need to wear a suit and tie every day.”

“Great.” The upside to Anti Crime had been the relaxed dress code. “The only ties I have are my uniform ties.”

“We’ll take you shopping. Emily’s happy for any reason to hit the mall.”

“Shopping. My favorite pastime after getting my ass kicked.” Picking up the boxes of his stuff, Bosco kicked his locker – his old locker – shut.

“You could go with your mom.”

“Did I say I didn’t want to go with Emily?” The thought of shopping with his mother brought back memories – and they weren’t good. “I’m not wearing a suit. A jacket and tie is as far as I’m going.”

“Come on, Bos. You’re a detective now, you gotta dress the part.”

“Are you kidding me? With Jelly for a partner, who’s gonna notice what I’m wearing?”

“What’s wrong with the way I dress?” Jelly challenged Bosco as he came up the stairs.

“Nothing.” Bosco set the boxes down on Jelly’s desk. “If you like wrinkled, stained, and twenty years out of style.”

“Get your crap off my desk, Boscorelli! Go bug your partner and get outta my hair!”

“I thought you were my new partner.”

“In your dreams.” The hefty detective pointed across the room. “You’re her problem.”

For a moment, Bosco thought Jelly was pointing at Faith, and that maybe Stick had been pulling his leg. But as he turned, Bosco realized that Jelly was pointing to a desk across the room. The woman sitting there smiled at him.

“Well if it isn’t the Minute Man.”

“Sergeant Reyes.” Bosco smiled in return. “I thought you’d transferred to the 47th.”

“I did, but I heard there was an opening here at the 55, so I came back.” Getting up, she held out her hands to him. “This is home, you know?”

“Yeah, I know.” He took her hands and squeezed warmly. He genuinely liked Reyes and had been sorry to see her go. “You didn’t come back to Anti Crime?”

“And deal with that crap? No thank you.”

Which meant Cruz. Reyes and Cruz had fought like cats and… well, another cat. “I don’t blame you. I’d rather spend twenty years in an RMP with Sully than work Anti Crime for five minutes.”

“Bosco! Get your crap off my desk!”

Bosco rescued his stuff before Jelly could shove it onto the floor. “Where can I put this?”

“Lockers are around the corner.” Faith tilted her head toward the door. “Come on, I’ll show you.”

“Forget it, Yokas.” Jelly vetoed the idea. “We’ve gotta get downtown. Some junkie just splattered his snortin’ buddies all over his living room.”

“See how exciting life is as a detective?” Making a face, Faith followed Jelly out of the office.

“Go find yourself a locker. You can have the desk across from mine.” Reyes sat back down and began sorting through the file folders piled on her desk.

The empty desk was next to the window and a dead plant sat on one scarred corner. Not exactly the glamorous surroundings he’d always figured might have as a detective. Where was his state of the art computer and sexy secretary?

“You waiting for an invitation? Move it, we’ve got work to do!”

Reyes’ voice snapped him out of his daydream and Bosco rushed out of the office. Damn bossy women anyway. He loved ‘em and he hated ‘em.

True to her word, the locker next to Faith’s was empty. Bosco put the boxes inside and latched the door. Later he’d put things where they belonged. Today he had a new job to settle into. He smiled as he imagined his mother’s reaction to the news.

“Hey, Bosco, I heard you were back.”

His head snapped up at the soft voice. Cruz stood in the doorway. “Yeah. This afternoon.”

“Word is you got promoted.” She looked him over. Bosco was thinner but he looked good. Even the large, flesh colored bandage on his cheek didn’t take away his looks. “I wanted to say congratulations and uh… if you need anything just let me know.”

Bosco could see by the way Cruz leaned against the doorway and looked him over like she was hooking on a street corner just what kind of help she had in mind.

“Thanks, but no thanks.” There were no feelings left for her at all, not even the disgust that had followed the lust he’d had for her. “Just stay out of my way and I’ll stay out of yours.”

“Can’t we just let the past stay in the past? I mean things have changed – “

“No, they haven’t.” Closing his locker, Bosco walked to the doorway. “I appreciate what you done with Mann – but let’s face it – we both know you were just covering your own ass. Like always.”

“Bosco – “

“Save it.” Slipping past her, Bosco headed back to work.

Once back in the small office, he found Reyes tossing books onto his desk. “What’s this crap?”

“This crap is stuff you need to read. I figure you’ve got some catching up to do.”

He picked up the booklet on top the pile. “NYPD Detective Rules of Conduct – read it.” He tossed it aside. The next book was slightly thicker. “Updated Misdemeanors and Felonies 2004 – read it.” Throwing it in the top drawer of his new desk, Bosco picked up the next book. “Updated Misdemeanors and Felonies 2005 – read it.” It followed the other book into the drawer.

“NYPD Detective Dress Code – don’t give a crap. ”Picking up the last book, Bosco sailed it straight into the trash.

“You’ve gotten back up to speed on everything already?”

“I had a lot of time to read while I was lying on my butt in the hospital.” Besides PT, there hadn’t been anything else to do but study and he’d made the most of his time.

Reyes looked him over carefully. Gone was the boastful, eager young man trying to prove he could be more than a beat cop. In his place was an older, wiser, and steadier man. “Come on, Minute Man, let’s go talk to some witnesses on this case I’ve been working on. Maybe you can help me get the facts out of them.”

“I need a holster.” He’d been carrying his service piece tucked into the back of his waistband, and that wouldn’t work once they were out of the house and on the job.

“We’ll stop downstairs and get you one. We’ve got to grab a couple of radios anyway.” She patted him on the back. “Good to have you back.”

“Good to be back.” Damn good to be back!

 

 

 

 



So this was the exciting life of a detective? Bosco looked around the apartment. It looked normal enough at first glance. A typical small – lower middle income – apartment in the city. Except for the body on the kitchen floor and the blood splattered everywhere.

“Bosco, gloves.” Reyes tossed a pair of latex gloves at him. “Don’t touch anything without wearing gloves.”

He pulled them on, hating the clammy, powdery feeling on his skin. Normally when he helped secure a crime scene, gloves weren’t necessary. Just some yellow tape and maybe handcuffs, and Anti Crime had been too loose to care about contaminating evidence. Hell, half the time they were planting it.

“I’ll get some pictures, you look for anything that could have been used as the murder weapon.” Reyes began taking pictures with the instant camera she’d brought inside. Earlier, the official photographers had been there and taken all the necessary photographs, but she’d learned early on that every detective snapped a few Polaroids to tuck into the file they were working on for quick reference.

“Sure.” Stepping around the body and the splatters of blood on the linoleum, Bosco looked into the sink. Nothing bloody there. There were no obvious weapons lying on the counter or kitchen table, either. Risking a look at the body, he tried to imagine what could do so much damage. The woman’s face and head were completely smashed in. “Maybe a freaking jackhammer?”

“Did you look in the trash?”

“Not yet.” He didn’t want to look in the trash. Not unless the murderer had left it neatly on top and wrapped up with a name tag.

“Just look on top and under anything you can lift up easily. If it’s not close to the top, we’ll take it out and dump it so we can sort through it.”

“Great. I thought I was done digging through the trash.” Avoiding the trash can, Bosco opened the drawers and cabinets. Nothing. “Damn.”

Reyes grinned as she watched him pick through the trash. She remembered her own realization that detectives didn’t have it quite as easy as everyone thought. “If it’s not on top, forget it. We’ll go through it later at the house.”

“At the house? We have to take the trash with us?” He stepped back from the smell of the rancid chicken he’d uncovered. “That’s disgusting.”

“It’s also evidence.”

“Well, it ain’t in here anyway.”

“You don’t know that.”

“There’s no blood.” Looking around the kitchen for someplace a hammer or something large and blunt could be stashed, Bosco explained his reasoning as to why the trash was trash and he wasn’t lugging it back to the house. “It ain’t on top and if he covered it up, there’d be blood on stuff.”

“What makes you think it’s a man?” She put the batch of pictures in her jacket pocket.

“Have you looked at her? You’ve gotta love somebody to hate them this much.” The force of the blows had been strong enough to send blood flying across the kitchen. There was even blood on the handles of the drawers and cabinets – not counting stray splatters.

“The husband’s at work. They’re picking him up. Could be a rapist –“

“Her clothes aren’t torn.”

“A burgler – “

“Place wasn’t tossed.” Bosco walked over to the refrigerator and inspected the handles. “The back door wasn’t forced – she either let him in or he had a key.”

Was that blood smeared on the handle? He waved at Reyes. “Come here and look at this.”

The white finish was liberally sprayed with blood. The victim was only a foot or so away and the violence of the blows had cast obscene patterns over GE’s affordable midsized model. Reyes looked the appliance over and then shook her head. “What am I looking at?”

“The handles – this one’s all speckled – “ He pointed to the handle for the refrigerator. “But this one’s kind of smeared.” He pointed to the handle for the freezer.

“Hmm… could be that the killer brushed against it accidentally.” Lifting the camera, Reyes took a picture of the handles. “Open it. Carefully. Hook a finger under it and pull it open.”

“I’m not stupid.” Using his little finger, Bosco pulled the handle, opening the freezer. Inside lay a bloody instrument among the peas and carrots and last Easter’s leftover ham.

“Good job, Bosco.” She took a picture of the inside of the freezer from several angles. “What the hell is that thing?”

“It’s a kitchen thingy.” Opening an evidence bag, he carefully eased the weapon inside. “My mom’s got one of these things.”

“What the hell for?” The ‘kitchen thingy’ looked like a mallet except that one side of the head had points while another had what looked like a raised grid. “Does she hunt down her own food?”

“It’s a meat tenderizer.” He laughed as she stepped back and eyed the bagged mallet with suspicion. “Your mom never made you chicken parmagna?”

“Your mom every make you poco picaduras?” She countered.

“Nah, we just had American food. What do I do with this?”

“Label it and put it in the evidence bag.” Reyes smiled. Leave it to Bosco to be a back handed bigot. “Good job on finding it.”

“It’s no big deal, we’d have found it eventually.” Under her watchful eye he labeled the bag with the location, date, his name, and other required information. He’d bagged evidence a million times, but this was his first time as a detective and he didn’t want to screw it up.

“But we found it now instead of later, and the husband will be here in a few minutes. What do you think we should do when he gets here? Think he’s a suspect?”

“The spouse is always suspect number one.” He said absently as he looked around the kitchen, lingering on the mutilated body on the floor despite the warning lurch of his stomach. “We cover her up and then bring him in here. Let’s see if he stares at the fridge or at her.”

“He’s been at work, so he does have an alibi.” Reyes motioned for one of the men with the coroner’s team to cover the body. “We’ll let you have her in a little bit, we want to see what hubby dearest thinks.”

“I get paid by the hour.” The man shrugged.

“He’s been at work, but that don’t mean he has an alibi.” Bosco remembered being ‘at work’ and beating the hell out of one of his mother’s boyfriends.

“You’re going to rule out an intruder?” She was thinking along the same lines, but she wanted to know what Bosco thought and why. There was no doubt in her mind that he was going to be a damn good detective. If he hadn’t fallen under Cruz’ spell, he’d probably have been promoted before now.

“Anybody coming in the back could see her through the window and the front door was locked. If someone was wanting to rob the place, they’d have waited until she went into the other room. And a rapist would have torn her pants down or off.”

“Sounds reasonable… but I’m not convinced.”

“It could be a boyfriend – maybe she wouldn’t leave her husband or something. But whoever it was, it was a man.”

Raising her eyebrows, Reyes cocked her head to one side. She wasn’t completely convinced the attacker had been a man. Women could hate each other with an intensity that would scare the hell out of most men.

“A woman would’ve stuck to the face. She’s got her head bashed in, plus her collar bones, ribs, upper arms – plus, whoever killed her was sitting on her and holding her down. I don’t know if another woman would have been able to do that. They might’ve needed both hands for the mallet. ”

Kneeling next to the body, Bosco pointed out the smeared patterns on either side. “These could be from somebody’s knees. And there’s bruises on her chest, like fingerprints.”

“So he held her down and beat her death?” She pulled the cover back and looked at the bruises that were visible above the scoop neck of the shirt the woman had been wearing. They could have been caused by the meat tenderizer – or by a hand holding her down. “The coroner will have to tell us what those are from.”

“But you think I’m right?”

He hadn’t lost any of his confidence. “Okay, yeah, I think you’re right, or pretty close anyway.”

“Sergeant Reyes.” A uniformed officer stepped into the kitchen. “The husband’s here.”

“What did you tell him?”

“Nothing. Just that his wife was injured and that he needed to come home.”

“How’d he act?” Bosco had done more than a few of these pick ups and you could tell when someone was worried or when they were worried they’d be found out.

“Like he had crabs and had to tell his priest.” The officer grinned. “How’s it going, Bosco?”

“Good. Going good.”

“Congrats on the promotion, you deserve it.”

Not sure how to handle the compliment, Bosco shrugged. “Lucky break.”

“Bring Mr. Alfort in.” Reyes ordered.

“In here?” The officer looked at the blood splattered kitchen.

“In here.” She put her hands on her hips. “We’re all out of rooms at the Plaza.”

Bosco grinned as the man turned tail. He loved working with a bossy woman.

“Remember, he’s not under arrest. Be careful what you ask him.”

“I’m not a moron.”

“No, you’re a rookie.” She met her glare head on. “Don’t give me any crap, Bosco.”

The flipside of working with a bossy woman is that he ended up being bossed around.

Mr. Alfort looked nervous when he was escorted into the kitchen, but in Bosco’s estimation, the man didn’t look surprised. Thirteen years of police work had shown him the difference between honest reactions to a dead body and the effort to put forth what seemed to be an honest reaction.

“What happened here?” Mr. Alfort looked around the kitchen. His gaze went to the refrigerator several times.

“I’ve got bad news, Mr. Alfort, someone killed your wife.” Bosco looked down at the covered body.

“Someone killed my wife? Who?” He looked at the body and quickly looked away.

“That’s what we’re hoping you could tell us.” Reyes pulled the cover back. “Who would do this to your wife?”

“I – I – don’t know – “ He looked away again. “Edwina was a good woman, everybody loved her.”

“Well, not everybody obviously.” Bosco opened a cabinet and took out a glass. “Was your marriage happy? Did she have a boyfriend?”

“A boyfriend?” For the first time a spark of emotion flared in the man’s eyes. “She’s a married woman! Another man – “ He stopped and pulled himself back under control. “No. No boyfriend. We were very happy.”

That was interesting. And already saying were instead of we are. Bosco shot a glance at Reyes. He could see she was thinking the same thing.

“Mr. Alfort, were you at work today?”

“Yes.”

“All day?”

“Yes – ‘till the police came and picked me up.”

“So you were there at one thirty this afternoon?”

“I just said I was at work all day!” Mr. Alfort insisted.

“You have witnesses?”

“Are you accusing me?”

“Hey, Sarg, ease up. You know, someone just beat his wife to death.” Bosco walked toward the refrigerator, certain Mr. Alfort was watching. “Brutally beat her head in. Viciously even.”

“So what’s your point?” Reyes watched as Mr. Alfort grew more and more tense the closer Bosco got to the refrigerator.

“So, let’s take it easy on the guy.” He held the glass up. “How about a glass of ice water?”

“What?” Mr. Alfort’s eyes bulged as Bosco reached for the freezer door. “No!”

“No?” Bosco gave him a curious look. “I think a glass of ice water would be just the thing I’d need if I came home and found my wife’s brains splattered all over the kitchen.”

“No – “

Bosco hooked his finger under the handle and jerked the freezer door open.

“No!” Mr. Alfort turned to run, only to find the two uniformed officers who’d brought him home blocking his way.

“What’s wrong?” Bosco looked into the freezer. “No ice? Whoops, my bad.”

 

 

 

 



“Don’t think they’re all going to be that easy, Bosco.”

“What? You don’t think I wasn’t there when you spent two hours asking people what they saw when their neighbors were running underage Japanese girls in and out of their apartment all the time?”

“Chinese.”

“Whatever. One ese is the same as the other as far as I can tell. The point is, it was boring as hell. And nobody knows how that dead girl ended up in the storage locker. And nobody cares except us.” Bosco read his report over carefully. Paperwork was not his strong suit. That’d always been Faith’s job. He’d processed the skells and she’d done the paperwork. It was the perfect partnership.

“Don’t forget to make an extra copy for yourself.” Reyes told him. “It’s important to keep a file of the cases you work.”

She’d probably explained why, but he’d tuned her out. Like every woman, she liked to yap too much.

“Bosco, hey, how was your first day?”

Speaking of the devil. He looked up as Faith came into the small office. “Boring, bloody, and then boring again.”

“Sounds like a typical day.” She sat down at her desk. “Mine was bloody, followed by boring.”

“Does it get exciting?”

“Do you mean do people shoot at us?”

“I didn’t say dangerous.” He’d had enough of being shot at.

“Well… we did have the body we found right outside the house in the dumpster – then the guy came in and confessed ‘cos he was pissed off we’d picked up the wrong guy.” That whole encounter still gave her the willies. “Oh, and then there was the lion in an apartment – that one’s going to be hard to top.”

“Fun stuff.” Bosco handed his report to Reyes.

She looked it over. “Good job. And it only took you four tries.”

“Bite me.”

“So, you done for the day?” Faith hid a smile as Bosco snatched the paperwork back.

“I don’t know.” He finished sorting the paperwork into piles that only the NYPD would understand.

“It’s after seven, Bosco. Just put those away and go on home. I’ll see you in the morning. Be here at eight.” Reyes told him.

“I guess I’m done. And I guess I’m on days.” Standing, he put the piles of paperwork into the folders Reyes had pointed out.

“Sounds like.” Faith looked at her own desk with its folders of work waiting to be finished. “Though days is a relative thing, I’m putting in more hours than I used to – I just get an earlier start.”

“But you’re doing real work – you’re putting guys away.” Despite the paperwork, Bosco was excited about his new job. “Today we got this guy who killed his wife. Instead of just standing around or keeping nosy people back – I got to go in and look around and figure out what happened. It was real police work for a change.”

“Just remember to be nice when you get the reports from the officers who canvas the witnesses. Remember how much we hated the asshole detectives who treated us like we didn’t know how to do our job.”

“It felt a little weird, you know?” He followed Faith to the locker room. Without needing to change his clothes, all he needed to do was put his service piece up and get out his backup. “When they handed me the reports, I almost said ‘What are you giving these to me for? Give them to the detectives.’ Then I remembered that was me.”

“It takes a little while.” She smiled. “But you’ll get used to it.”

“I guess.” He watched her put her gun away and take out her purse.

“Let’s go over to Haggerty’s and get a drink.”

“I should probably get home.”

“Come on, I’m buying.”

Passing up free drinks wasn’t in his nature. “Just one, then I have to call Ma before she calls me.. I’m surprised she hasn’t called and bugged me already. The way she was acting, you’d think it was my first day of school.”

“Mother’s are allowed to worry.”

“Whatever. I’m not five.” It made him feel good and embarrassed all at the same time to have all of his mother’s attention. Hiding the way he felt, Bosco headed out the door and down the stairs.

“No, you just act like it.”

At the bottom of the stairs, Lieu waved them over to his desk. “Bosco, Friday night at seven thirty you’ll get your gold shield. Dress uniform is required.”

“The monkey suit?” Actually, Bosco loved wearing his dress uniform, but he wouldn’t admit it. “I’ve already got a shield anyway.”

“You’ll have to turn it in, son. You don’t keep the same shield as a detective.” Lieu said gently.

“You don’t?” Detectives carried a gold shield, Bosco knew that, but somehow he’d missed the fact that it wasn’t the same shield they’d always had. “But it’ll have the same number, right?”

Faith pulled her shield off her belt and showed it to him. “They give you a different one, see?”

He’d never looked that closely at Faith’s new shield, he’d hated it for separating them. Now Bosco examined it carefully. Sure enough, the number was different. “But I’ve been 3379 forever.”

“You can get a replica made of your old shield.” It had been years since he’d been promoted, but Lieu remembered the same feeling of loss as his old shield had gone back into the barrel to be given out to some other eager new rookie someday.

“You know, Bos, Charlie’s making me a shadow box frame with the replica of my old shield and my commendations and stuff. He can make one for you, too, if you want.” Faith took her new shield back from Bosco’s limp grasp and slipped it into her pocket. “Who knew he’d actually get some good out of that shop class Fred made him take?”

“Yeah, I guess.” It hurt in a weird way to give up his shield. “I can give it to Ma, give her something to brag about to her friends.”

“One more thing, Bosco.” Lieu waited until he had Bosco’s full attention. “Detectives wear suits. I’ll cut you a little slack for the next day or so, but after that you need to be in dress code, understand?”

“Come on, Lieu, I only had the one suit!”

“Well buy some more.”

“I hate suits.” Not to mention suits reminded him of things he’d rather forget. Like funerals.

“I understand, I’m not fond of them myself. Listen, just get yourself some white shirts and a couple jackets, maybe three or four pairs of pants. You’ve got the ties – “ Lieu indicated his own tie. “Just wear them, you don’t need anything fancy.”

“Yeah, leave that to Jelly.” Faith snickered. It was no secret that the hefty detective spent a fortune on his suits – and not just because of the amount of material required.

“I’ll wear the jackets, and I got no problem with ties – but I don’t want to wear a suit.” Bosco shook his head. “I’ll wear jeans.”

“Jeans aren’t in the dress code.”

“Whatever, I’ve seen plenty of detectives wearing jeans.”

“Bosco, this isn’t open for negotiation.” Lieu warned.

“Come on, don’t worry, I’ll look fine. You’ll be proud.” Bosco gave Faith a nudge to get her moving. “See ya, tomorrow, boss.”

“Bosco!” Lieu shouted after him. Damn it! First day back and he’s already a pain in the ass!”

“That’s a surprise?” Sully asked as he walked past the desk, pushing a handcuffed drunk ahead of him.

“No.” Lieu smiled.

 

 


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