Run Away To Home
By Maquis Leader
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.
Season 6: Reloaded.
Everyone needs someone special in their life as they’re growing up. Someone
who’ll let them play the games their mom thinks are too violent, or who’ll
teach them how to defend themselves from bullies when their dad thinks the
school should handle it. That someone who’s not really family but who’s always
The someone who’ll teach them the words that make their mom’s face turn red,
and who let's them watch the scary movies that always give them nightmares.
Someone who makes a promise and never ever breaks it.
For Charlie that someone is Bosco.
Episode 70: Run Away To Home
“Hang on, you big chicken. I’ll turn one on.”
“I’m not chicken!” Bosco protested. “I’m cautious – you never know what’s
hiding in the dark.”
Grace giggled as she slipped around him find the light switch. “All you need to
worry about in the dark is me. I might rape you.”
“Oh yeah? In that case let me get my cock – “ The lights came on and Bosco
paused in unbuckling his belt when he saw Charlie lying on the sofa. “Whoa!”
“Um…” Grace looked from Bosco to the boy and back again. “Something you want to
tell me, Maurice?”
“This is Faith’s kid – one of Faith’s kids.” Buckling his belt, he walked over
to where Charlie lay sleeping. “Hey, Chuck, wake up.”
“I thought she had a daughter.” She pulled her jacket closed to cover herself.
Her thin shirt did nothing to hide how excited she’d been two seconds ago.
“She’s only got custody of Emily, but she’s got two kids.”
“Oh.” It was probably a sordid tale she wasn’t interested in. How do you split
your kids up? “So why is he here?”
“Good question.” Reaching down, he flicked Charlie’s ear. “Chuck – hey, wake
up, kid! Wake up!”
“Uncle B?” Charlie sat up and rubbed his eyes. “You’re late.”
“I’m late? What are you, my mother? What are you doing here?”
“I thought you’d be home sooner.” He yawned. “Aren’t you and Mom on days now?”
“We are, but Grace works till eleven – that’s not the point.” There was a
frustrated look on Grace’s face that matched how he felt. Nothing like getting
your engine revved up and having to shut the key off. “How’d you get in here?”
“I took Mom’s key this weekend when I was home.”
There was a duffel bag and a large backpack on the floor next to the sofa.
Obviously, the kid was planning on staying. Grace sat down in the recliner next
to the sofa. There went a night of rolling around in the sheets with Maurice.
“Chuck – “ Bosco took in the bags and the double layer of clothes Charlie was
wearing. “Chuck, what are you doing? You’re running away? Come on, you know
“You don’t understand, I just – I don’t want to be there anymore!”
“I do understand.” The poor kid was caught up in the war his parents were
waging. “I’ve been there, I understand.”
“You said I could come to you anytime about anything.” Charlie reached up and
grabbed Bosco’s arm. “You promised!”
She didn’t want to get in the middle of things, but Grace knew what it was like
to be on the other side of a runaway situation. “Your parents don’t know where
you are? We need to call them.”
“No! Don’t call Dad – you can’t!”
“We have to. We have to let him know you’re safe.”
“Chuck’s right, Grace. We can’t call his dad.” Faith would be pissed enough as
it was, he sure as hell didn’t want to deal with Fred.
“Maurice – “
“Who are you?” Charlie gave the woman a dirty look. “It’s none of your
“Oh, crap – Chuck, this is Grace.” He’d forgotten that Charlie hadn’t met Grace
yet. “Grace, this is Chuck, Faith’s son.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Chuck.” She smiled at him. “I just wish it was under better
“Yeah.” So this was the girl Uncle B was dating? Emily had told him about her
but he’d imagined someone slutty. Still… his mom should be Uncle B’s new
“I know that you don’t want to, but you really need to call your parents and
let them know you’re safe.” He was looking at her the same way Emily had when
they’d met, as if she were a piece of crap Emily had accidentally stepped on.
He knew, the kid knew, that Maurice loved his mom. Well too bad, kid, he’s
mine. “Maurice, we need to call his father.”
“Are you kidding? Fred would blow a gasket if he knew Chuck was here.” The
image made Bosco grin. It faded as he remembered Faith wouldn’t be any happier
“Maurice, we have to think about how worried he’s got to be.”
“He’s not going to worry.” Crossing his arms over his chest, Charlie pouted.
“All he cares about is his hunny bunny.”
Bosco snickered. “Hunny bunny? Gimme a break.”
“Uncle B, you said I could come here anytime.”
“And I meant it. But, Chuck, you gotta let your mom and dad know you’re okay.
We’ve got to call them. You’ve got to go home.”
“It’s not home! I hate it there – I just hate it.” Tears welled up in his eyes
and ran down his cheeks. Nobody cared how he felt. “I hate it!”
“Jeez, Chuck.” Bosco put his arm around Charlie. “I know you hate it, I know it
sucks, and I wish I could fix it – but I can’t.”
“I don’t wanna go back. They don’t want me there.” He sucked in a breath
between sobs. “He just doesn’t want my mom to have me.”
The poor kid was stuck in a crappy situation. This wasn’t the first time he’d
seen one parent want custody just to be vindictive, but it was the first time
he’d been personally involved. He met Grace’s eyes. What was he supposed to
“Charlie, I’m sure that your dad loves you, but divorce makes people do stupid
things.” Grace moved to sit on the coffee table and reached out to stroke
Charlie’s hair. “You can’t run away though, it’s just going to make things
“She’s right, it’s not safe to be out on the streets.” If Charlie knew even a
fraction of the things that could happen to a young boy alone on the streets –
he’d never come out of his room.
“That’s why I came here.”
There was no arguing that logic. “And I’m glad you came to me instead of trying
to sleep out in the park or something. But, Chuck, you can’t stay here, I’m
“Please – please – “ He tightened his arms around Bosco’s waist. “Nobody has to
know, I’ll go to school, and I’ll be good! We won’t tell anybody!”
For a moment, Bosco was tempted, and then he looked up and saw the picture of
Faith, Emily, and Charlie that was on the wall. She would kill him. “Bad things
happen when I lie to your mom, Chuck, you know that.”
“Sweetie, we have to call your parents.” Grace rubbed Charlie’s back. “When you
love someone and you don’t know where they are or if they’re safe – it’s a
horrible, horrible feeling.”
“She’s right, Chuck. Think how worried your mom’s gotta be.”
“I know – and she’ll yell at me.” His mother would have a fit, he’d promised
her he wouldn’t run away again and he’d done it anyway. “She won’t listen –
Being a kid was a real bitch. Bosco rested his cheek on top of Charlie’s head.
“I’ll listen, Chuck. Tell me, and I’ll talk to your mom, okay?”
Grace chewed her lip for a moment, thinking. They needed to call Chuck’s
parents and let them know he was safe, but the kid was clearly miserable and
dragging him back home might mean he’d just run away again. Her mother had done
it over and over.
“Maurice, Chuck, here’s the deal.” She waited until Maurice looked at her.
“I’ll get something to eat and you two can talk – but then we’re calling his
“What do you think, Chuck? That work for you? You hungry?”
“Yeah, you don’t have anything to eat.” Charlie sat back and wiped his eyes.
“All right, I’ll get us a pizza.” Getting out her cell phone, Grace dialed the
number. “What do you like on your pizza, Chuck?”
“Everything, right, Chuck?” Bosco grinned. “You want your pizza like you want
your women – with everything, hot and spicy.”
Grace rolled her eyes at him as she placed the order. She’d get him back for
that one later, and have fun doing it.
After Grace had left, Bosco sat back. “Okay, I’m all ears. Tell me what’s so
bad you felt like you had to run away.”
“I hate it there.”
“You gotta give me more than that, Chuck.” He shook his head. “I can’t go to
your mom with that. Give me some facts – something to work with.”
“They don’t pay any attention to me, it’s like I’m not even there. My dad doesn’t
even hardly talk to me anymore.” All his dad cared about was making Rabbit
Teeth happy. “I even got in a fight at school so he’d yell at me or something –
but he just sat there and then we went home and nothing happened.”
“Did you win?”
“The fight? Yeah.” Charlie smiled for the first time. “I did just like you
showed me. I kicked his butt.”
“Way to go!” He slapped Charlie on the back. “You didn’t start it, did you?”
“No way – I know better.” Charlie shook his head, one thing that had been
drummed into his head ever since he could remember was never start a fight. End
it, but don’t start it. “It’s this kid who picks on everybody, you know? He
never bothers me, but he picks on some of the other kids.”
Every schoolyard had its bully. Bosco nodded. “So you kicked his ass and got in
trouble and your dad didn’t yell at you or nothing?”
“I bet your mom did.” Faith had probably blown a gasket. It was a wonder she
hadn’t blamed him for it. He was the one who’d taught Chuck to defend himself.
“Dad didn’t tell her.”
“Seriously?” Oh, there was an explosion waiting to happen.
“He doesn’t care.” Charlie shrugged. “The only time he cares is when I tell him
I want to live with Mom or I ask to go visit her when it’s not her weekend.
Then he freaks out.”
Bosco didn’t know what to say to that. His father hadn’t wanted him on his
weekends, never mind taking him any other time. A memory came back. His parents
arguing because his dad wanted to pick Mikey up but not him.
“Sorry, kid.” Blinking away the painful memories, he focused on Charlie once
more. “I don’t know what I can do, but we’ll talk to your mom and maybe we can
“Yeah, okay, I guess.”
“Don’t give me that, Chuck, you hear me?” Bosco jabbed Charlie’s shoulder.
“We’ll figure this out. Maybe it’s time your mom went back to court or
“I said okay!” He rubbed his shoulder.
The door opened and Grace came in carrying two large boxes. A plastic bag
dangled from one arm. Bosco got up and took the boxes, carrying them into the
“So, how’s it going?” She pulled a bottle of soda out of the sack.
“Fred’s being a real jagoff. The only reason he’s keeping Charlie around is so
Faith can’t have him. He only took the kids to get at her – he was the
one screwing around.”
“Yet another in a long list of reasons to never get married and have kids.”
“Hey.” He took the soda out of her hands and set it on the table. Putting his
hands on her waist, he pulled her against him. “Some of us wouldn’t treat our
kids like they’re a piece of property.”
“The problem is – “ She slid her hands up his chest. “How can a girl tell?”
“Taste test?” He lowered his lips to hers.
“Hey, I’m trying to eat.” Charlie grabbed a slice of pizza.
Bosco’s cell phone rang and he reluctantly pulled away. Taking the phone out of
his pocket, he flipped it open. “Boscorelli.”
“Bosco – it’s Faith – Charlie’s missing, I can’t find him anywhere!”
“Faith, calm down.”
“Bosco, Fred called me and he thought Charlie was here – he’s run away again!”
“Calm down, he’s okay.”
“God, Bosco, you know the perverts that are out there!”
“Faith! Calm down! He’s okay!” He barked at her. “He’s right here!”
“What?” She screeched.
There was dead silence on the other end, and Bosco took advantage of it. “Get
over here. He’s fine and we’ll talk once you’re here.” As she started to
sputter, he cut her off. “Just come on over. No. No. Come on. Drive carefully.
Bye. Bye. Don’t speed. Bu-bye.”
“Oh, she’s going to rip your head off. “Grace watched him slap the phone
closed. Grace had seen a little of Faith’s temper and she’d heard enough from
Carlos and Maurice to know that Faith was a powder keg.
“Probably.” He picked up a slice of pizza and took a healthy bite. “But she
won’t be yelling at Chuck. She’ll yell and bitch at me and then she’ll wind
down and be able to talk to the kid without rippin’ him a new one.”
Grace looked into the midnight blue eyes, and the love and concern she saw
there for Charlie made her ache to have him look at her that way. “You’re a
good man, Maurice.”
“Yeah.” He grinned at her. “I’m a sweetheart of a guy.”
“You’re an irresponsible jackass! What the hell were you thinking?”
“I was thinking – “
“No – you weren’t thinking, Bosco!” Faith snarled. “You never do! You’re like a
Grace started to interrupt but Maurice shook his head and she settled for
glaring at Faith’s back. Charlie sat next to her, munching on his fourth slice
of pizza and acting like his mother and Maurice yelling at each other was a
common occurrence. Maybe it was.
“You’re calling me stupid? Because I told Charlie he could talk to me?” Bosco
stepped into Faith’s path as she headed for the sofa where Charlie sat. “Stupid
is not giving the kid anywhere to go when he’s so miserable he can’t stand
living there anymore!”
“Are you saying I’m a bad mother?” Faith turned on Bosco.
“Of course not – I’m saying you’re being stupid.”
Grace’s eyes widened as Faith walked up to Maurice until they were nose to nose
and pressed chest to chest. Thank God she was a paramedic because it looked as
if there was going to be blood spilled any minute.
“It’s okay.” Charlie said softly. “They do this a lot.”
How in the hell had they worked together for so many years without killing each
other? Grace winced as Faith poked Maurice in the shoulder and Maurice promptly
poked her back.
“Who do you think you are, huh? Who the hell do you think you are to tell my
kid he can run away?”
“Who am I?” Bosco felt his own temper ready to snap loose. “I’m somebody who
loves your kids and I’d rather he comes to me than took his chances out on the
“You can’t tell him it’s okay – “
“Would you rather have him out there right now?” Seeing Faith falter, he
pressed the point. “He could be out there with the junkies and the drunks – do
you want that?”
“No.” The anger washed away as her earlier fears returned.
The images of children they’d seen – the dead little girls in boxes, the boys
found beaten and raped, and the young boys and girls selling their bodies to
pay their pimps and their drug habits – scrolled past in his mind, and he knew
Faith was seeing them as well. Bosco softened his voice. “I don’t want Charlie
to run away, Faith, but I thank God he came to me tonight instead of being out
“Oh, God – “ Fresh tears filled her eyes and ran down her cheeks. “Oh, God,
Charlie – “
Charlie jumped up from the sofa and ran to his mother as she held her arms out
to him. “I’m sorry, Mom!”
“I’m sorry, too, baby!” Faith held him to her.
“Come on.” Bosco held out his hand to Grace. When she took it, he pulled her up
from the sofa and led her into the kitchen. “Let’s give them a minute.”
“Chuck says you two do this all the time?”
“Yeah, it’s kinda how we talk.” Sitting at the small table, Bosco shrugged.
“Well, I don’t like it.”
She was pissed off, he could see it in the set of her mouth and the sparks in
her eyes. God, she was turning him on. His one weakness – of many – was a
Bosco pulled her down into his lap and kissed her hard. Her hands came up and
pushed at his chest. “Maurice!”
“Sorry.” Panting, Bosco rested his face against the curve of her throat. “You
made me so damn hot.”
“I knew you liked strong women, but jeez.” Laughing, she wrapped her arms
around him and held him close. “Sometimes I think you need a mother more than a
“Mmm…” Maybe that’s why he liked tits the way he did.
“Charlie, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize that you were so unhappy.” Faith wiped at
her eyes. “I mean, I knew you weren’t completely happy, but I didn’t realize it
was this bad.”
“I tried to tell you.”
“I know.” She stroked his cheek. “I’ll talk to your dad and see if we can make
“Charlie, I mean it.”
“He’s not going to change anything.” Slumping back on the sofa, Charlie felt
fresh tears well up. “He hates you, Mom, he really does.”
“I know, but he shouldn’t be taking it out on you.” Sitting back next to her
son, Faith put an arm around his shoulders. Maybe she should get a new lawyer
and go back to court. She hadn’t wanted to put Em and Charlie through another
court battle – if she was completely honest, she didn’t want to put herself
through it again either.
“Charlie, if we go back to court, it’ll be nasty. Are you sure you want to do
this?” Hugging him, she rested her cheek against his. “I’ll do it if it’s what
you want, baby, but you’ve gotta know it’s not going to be easy.”
“I just want you to try.” He said softly. “You know?”
Dear God, did he think she didn’t care? “Charlie, look at me.” Faith met his
gaze head on. “I love you. I’ve been a coward, but don’t you ever think I don’t
love you, you hear me?”
He nodded. “I was just scared you didn’t want me.”
“You’ve been hanging around Bosco too much.” She smiled. “Stupidity is
“Mom. Don’t be mean to Uncle Bos.”
“I’m not, Charlie. He knows I don’t mean it.”
Doubt filled her. Did Bosco know that she didn’t mean a lot of the things she
said to him? So much of what she did and said around him was just a habit. One
she should probably break.
“We’re going to have to call your dad.” Giving him one last hug, Faith got up
and walked into the kitchen.
Grace was sitting on Bosco’s lap, cradling his head against her breasts and
stroking her fingers through the dark auburn hair. Not wanting to intrude,
Faith backed up and went back to the living room. She’d ask Bosco about her bad
Flipping open her phone, she dialed Fred’s number. “Fred? I found Charlie.”
“Is he okay? Where is he?”
“He’s fine, he’s safe.” She cocked an eyebrow at Charlie. “He’s in big trouble,
but he’s fine.”
“Where is he?” Fred demanded. “If he ran away to your apartment again, I swear
I’m going to call my lawyer!”
“He didn’t come to my apartment. And what if he did? I’m his mother!”
“Some mother, where were you when he was growing up? Out risking your life with
“I was out earning a living and keeping a roof over our heads!” Despite her
efforts to be civil, Faith found herself pulled back into the old argument. “If
we’d counted on what you made – you wouldn’t have that fat gut!”
“Bring my son home, now!”
“Your son?” Seething, she came back with the strongest ammunition in her
arsenal. “Our son ran away because you’re making his life miserable! And guess
who he ran to – Bosco! Yeah, that’s who he trusts, Fred! Not you or your
“Gimme that!” Bosco took the phone out of her hand. “Fred, we’ll have Chuck
home in just a few minutes.”
“Bosco! You son of a bitch!”
Bosco held the phone away from his ear as Fred bellowed about his parentage,
his intelligence, his sexual habits, and his possible demise. “Always good
talking to you, Freddie. See you in a few minutes. Kiss kiss to hunny bunny.”
He closed the phone and gave it back to Faith. “I’ll go warm the car up.”
“I can drive Charlie home.” She protested.
“I’ve been with you when you’re like this. You’re in no condition to drive. I’m
warming the car up.” Grabbing his jacket, Bosco left the apartment.
“Fine.” Sighing, she turned to Charlie. “Get your stuff. We’ve got five minutes
before he starts honking.”
“Can I take the pizza with me?”
“We had pizza, we figured he’d be hungry.” Grace smiled. “It’s not like Maurice
keeps anything to eat around here.”
“What? There’s no beer?” She returned Grace’s smile. “Bos says it’s food
because it’s made with grains.”
“Chuck, why don’t you wrap the last few pieces in some foil?” Grace suggested.
After Charlie left the room, Grace walked over to where Faith was gathering
Charlie’s things. “I know that you and Maurice have been friends for a long
“Thirteen years now – almost fourteen.”
“Right, and I know you two have been through a lot together. And I know that
arguing like this is normal.”
“Yeah, I guess.” Faith picked up the blanket that was wadded up on the sofa and
folded it up.
“Well, I don’t like it. I don’t want to hear you talk that way to Maurice
“Excuse me?” Straightening up, Faith found the other woman standing with her
hands on her hips and a deadly serious expression on her face.
“Maurice is not stupid, or a child, or irresponsible.” Grace took a step
closer, invading Faith’s personal space. “You’re lucky, damn lucky, that Chuck
had Maurice to come to – because he obviously didn’t feel like he could come to
Was it Bosco’s night to have everyone come to his defense? For a moment, Faith
considered telling Grace to take a flying fucking leap off the bridge, she
moved half a step closer.
Working Bed-Stuy had toughened her and Grace didn’t back down. “Maurice loves
Emily and Chuck – and you for God knows what reason – because you don’t give
him an ounce of respect.”
“I’ve got plenty of respect for Bosco.”
“Then act like it. Don’t you ever talk to him like that in front of me
Faith broke the staring contest at the sound of Charlie’s voice. “It’s okay,
Charlie. Grace and I were just talking about Bosco.”
“No dip?” He stepped between them. “We better get downstairs.”
Gathering up Charlie’s things, they left the apartment without another word.
“Maybe we should stop here and let Faith and Charlie out.” Red and blue lights
flashed up ahead, where Faith had told Maurice that her ex-husband lived.
“Why?” He gave Grace a puzzled look.
“I don’t know.” Something about the situation felt wrong. “I think the whole
thing is going to escalate – he’s got the PD there.”
“So?” Faith snorted. “We’re PD too.”
“Relax, Gracie.” Bosco patted her leg. “There’s nothing to worry about, Fred’s
going to scream and yell, but Charlie’s home safe and sound. And Faith didn’t
leave much of my ass to chew on anyway.”
“Bos, I’m sorry about that.” Now that she’d cooled down, Faith realized she’d
stepped over the line – more than she usually did when they argued.
“Ah, don’t sweat it.” He shrugged. “You were scared. I remember my mom saying
she was gonna kill me and then telling me she loved me the next second when I
did something to scare the hell out of her.”
“Still, I’m sorry, Bos.” Faith laid her hand on his shoulder.
“I said don’t worry about it.” Reaching up, he squeezed her hand. “Besides, I
was just running interference for Chuck. He’s got less ass to chew on than I
“Oh, that’s it, make me feel even more guilty.” After squeezing his hand in
return, Faith sat back in her seat.
Easing the Mustang around the RMPs, Bosco parked in front of Fred’s house.
“Fred’s uptown these days. Hunny Bunny must be loaded.”
“Yeah. How do you think he got an attorney good enough to screw me over – “ Her
eyes narrowed as she saw Fred and his floozy standing on the front porch
talking to a uniformed officer. “Again.”
“These are county.” Grace looked at the RMPs. “They’re not NYPD.”
“County handles child visitation issues.” He told her. “No big deal.”
“This isn’t a child visitation issue. Chuck ran away.” Where was NYPD? Neither
Maurice nor Faith seemed worried, but to Grace the whole situation felt wrong.
“Just be careful.”
A deputy stepped up to the car as Bosco helped Charlie out of the back seat.
“Is this Charlie Yokas?”
“The one and only.” Bosco walked around to the trunk and unlocked it.
“Sir, step back from the vehicle!” The deputy barked.
“Sorry. I know better.” Bos turned around and held his hands up to show he only
had a set of keys. As a cop, he did know better than to just get out of the car
and go right to the trunk.
“See there – I told you she had my kid!”
One of the deputies stopped Fred as he ran towards Faith. “Mr. Yokas, if you’ll
just wait on the porch, we’ll handle this.”
Faith walked around the car and put her hand on Charlie’s shoulders. “Your kid?
Our son, Fred. Charlie is our son. And lucky for you – he is with
“Are you Faith Yokas?” Another deputy confronted Faith.
“Yes. Actually, I went back to my maiden name – Mitchell. Faith Mitchell.”
“Ms. Mitchell, you took the child – “
“Whoa – whoa – she didn’t take Charlie.” Bosco interrupted.
“Sir, you’re not involved in this, so please, step back to the vehicle.” The
deputy told him.
“Not involved?” Who’d this county jagoff think he was? “Like hell I’m not
“Of course he’s involved!” Fred glared at Bosco over the deputy’s shoulder.
“He’s always involved! It’s because of him that we’re divorced!”
“What the hell ever. I suppose you having an affair had nothing to do with it?”
Bosco shot back.
“If she hadn’t been fucking you – we’d still be married!”
“Fred, Bosco and I never slept together! Get over it!”
“Not only was she screwing him – he made her get an abortion!”
“Are you nuts?” Bosco couldn’t believe Fred had just told the entire
neighborhood that Faith had had an abortion – never mind saying that he’d made
her do it. “Are you freaking nuts?”
“That’s enough.” A deputy put a hand on Bosco’s shoulder. “Just get back in the
“Get your hands off me!” He shrugged the man’s hands off.
“All the time you’re pretending to be my friend, you were banging my wife! For
all I know, she aborted dozens of your babies! Who knows who else’s – she was
whoring for the whole department!”
“You son of a bitch!” Bosco lunged for Fred. He’d never let anyone badmouth
Faith and he wasn’t starting now.
“Whoa – whoa – whoa – “ Two of the deputies grabbed Bosco and pushed him back.
“He’s got a gun!” Fred yelled.
The deputies went from casual interest to hostile awareness in a heartbeat.
“Sir, do you have a gun?” One of the deputies confronted Bosco. “Do you have a
“Yeah, I have a gun – “ Bosco reached inside his jacket for his ID. “I’m – “
“Bosco!” Faith warned.
The moment his fingers touched his wallet, Bosco realized he’d made a mistake.
Civil disturbance, exes screaming, the word gun – and someone had just stuck
their hand inside their jacket. Moron! They didn’t know he was a
cop. All this flashed through his mind even as he registered Faith’s warning
Hands hit his back hard and Bosco let himself go limp. Fighting back would earn
him a beating he didn’t feel like taking. Falling to the ground submissively,
he still caught a nightstick to the ribs and a hard knock to the side of his
head. A knee rammed into his back forced the air out of his lungs.
“Get off him!” Faith pushed at the deputy blocking her from Bosco.
“Faith – no – “ He managed to croak out as his hands were jerked behind his
back. The last thing Charlie needed to see was his mother in handcuffs.
“Oh my God! Maurice!” Grace bolted out of the Mustang and ran to where Maurice
was pinned to the ground. One of the deputies caught her and held her back.
“What are you doing?” Faith jerked away from the deputy who was trying to hold
her back. “We’re cops! NYPD!”
“You got an ID, ma’am?” It was possible the woman was bullshitting, but the
deputy decided to play it safe. “You’re PD – you got an ID?”
“In my jacket.”
“Take it out slowly.” He dropped his hand to the butt of his gun in case she
was going for a gun instead of her ID. “Two fingers.”
“I know the drill.” With one hand, Faith held her jacket open, and with the
other she used two fingers to pull her ID out of her inside pocket. With a
practiced gesture, she flipped it open to reveal the gold shield.
The deputy’s attitude changed instantly. “I’m sorry, Detective.”
“You want to let my partner up?” She held the shield up so the other deputies
could see it.
Bosco was helped to his feet and brushed off. “Sorry, Detective.”
“That’s okay.” Bosco reached carefully for his ID and shield to show them. “I
know better than to stick my hand in my jacket like that. I deserve a good
knock on the head.”
“That uh… that was an accident.” The deputy glanced at the ID before handing it
to his partner. “I sorta slipped.”
“No, you didn’t.” Bosco grinned at him. “I’d have done the same thing. Maybe
“Get out of my way.” Grace pushed past the deputies who had been blocking her
path. “Maurice, are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m okay, Gracie.” He rubbed the back of his head. “I forgot my Civil
Disturbances 101 class.”
“You hit him!” She shot the deputy a dirty look.
“Is she a detective too?”
“FDNY.” Grace pulled Bosco down to check the back of his head. “Jesus, there’s
a lump the size of a golf ball already.”
“You don’t want to mess with her.” He winced as she probed the back of his
“You big baby,” She muttered.
“Sorry, Detective Boscorelli.” The second deputy handed Bosco’s ID back.
“Boscorelli?” The first deputy asked. “From the 55?”
“That’s me. Look, can we just clean this mess up?” The next question would be
about the shooting, and he hated those. “It’s late and the kid’s tired.”
“Sure, sure. Go on inside, son.” The deputy patted Charlie on the shoulder.
“You hit Uncle Bos! He didn’t do anything wrong!” Charlie told him.
“That was my fault, Chuck.” Bosco went to the truck of the Mustang and opened
it. “I forgot I wasn’t in uniform anymore.”
“Domestic calls make us a little jumpy.” The man grinned. “Sorry.”
“What the hell are you apologizing for? Arrest him!” Fred pushed past the
deputies to confront Bosco. “You’re going to jail, the both of you are!”
“For what?” Faith moved between Bosco and Fred. Now that the deputies knew
Bosco was one of them, they’d probably look the other way while Bosco beat the
hell out of Fred. Not that she cared, but Charlie would.
“What?” Her jaw dropped.
“You heard me! You took him and it’s not your weekend!” He shook his finger in
her face. “That’s kidnapping!”
“I didn’t take Charlie, he ran away, Fred. There’s a difference.”
“Mr. Yokas, you told us your wife took your son without permission.” One of the
deputies took Fred by the arm and pulled him away. “Did you file a fake
“I – no – I – you can see she’s got him.” The once friendly deputies were
staring at him with less than friendly attitudes. “She took him – that’s
“Charlie ran away, Fred.” Faith put her hands on Charlie’s shoulders. “He’s
unhappy living here.”
“He’ll get over it. Now get inside, Charlie.”
“I don’t want to.” Charlie pressed back against his mother. “I don’t want to
live here – I want to go home.”
“This is your home!” Fred pointed at the front door. “Now get inside!”
The deputies shifted uncomfortably. This was a part of the job they hated.
Forcing some poor kid to stay somewhere they didn’t want to be wasn’t a job any
of them had signed on for.
“Charlie, honey, remember what we talked about.” Bending down, Faith hugged
Charlie. “Just be patient for a little while longer, okay?”
“Okay.” He returned her hug. Turning to Bosco, he hugged him as well.
“It’ll be okay, Chuck.” Bosco knelt and wrapped his arms around Charlie and
hugged him tightly.
“Let go of him!” Fred pulled Charlie out of Bosco’s embrace. “Get in the house,
Charlie. I’m going to beat your ass good this time!”
“Don’t you lay a hand on him!” Bosco lunged to his feet. “Or I’ll kick your ass!”
“Nobody’s hitting nobody!” One of the deputies shoved Fred back. “Get back on
the porch and we’ll bring the boy inside in a minute.”
“He deserves a whipping and he’s going to get it.”
Faith reached for Bosco. She knew Fred was just taunting him, Fred had never
had the stomach to spank Emily or Charlie. He’d always made her be the bad guy.
Unfortunately, Bosco didn’t know that and Fred had just pushed one of his hot
buttons. Her hands slipped off the slick leather of Bosco’s jacket as he lunged
for Fred again. “Bosco, no!”
They went down in a tangle as Bosco landed a punch to Fred’s face and followed
it up with a knee to his gut. The deputies stood back and watched. One led
Charlie away to where he couldn’t see what was happening.
As she had many times before, Faith found herself pulling Bosco off a downed perp
– or her mouthy ex-husband, in this case. “Bosco! Damn it, get off!”
One of the deputies finally stepped in and helped haul Bosco off Fred. “Come
on, not in front of the kid.”
Staggering back, Bosco wiped his bloody lip, one of the few shots Fred had
gotten in. “You lay one hand on Charlie and I swear to God, I’ll kill you.”
“Detective Boscorelli, let’s take a walk.” One of the deputies stepped between
Bosco and Fred and motioned for Bosco to follow him. “Let’s go cool down.”
“You arrest him right now!” Fred jabbed the deputy in the back with his finger.
“He hit me!”
“I’m going to break that finger off and shove it up your ass.” The deputy
Bosco reached out to Charlie, but Charlie stepped back. “Chuck, I’m sorry.”
He followed the deputy over to the Mustang and leaned on the hood. The two
women exchanged a look before Grace followed Bosco and Faith went to Charlie.
“Oh my God, what did I do? What did I do?”
“You lost your temper.” Grace rubbed her hand up and down Bosco’s back.
“Chuck’s scared, but he’ll be okay.”
“He hates me. I just beat the hell out of his father, Grace. Ah, God, what’s
the matter with me?” He crossed his arms on the roof of the car and laid his
head down on them.
The moment of violence had frightened her as well. She’d had Carlos and some of
the guys at the house tell her about Maurice’s explosive tempter, but this was
the first time she’d seen it. He’d never been anything but gentle with her.
Weighing his abuse as a child and how much he seemed to love Chuck, she gave
Maurice the benefit of the doubt.
“There’s nothing wrong with you, Maurice. He was threatening Chuck and you
protected him.” Tugging on his jacket, she made him turn around. “He’ll
understand that. Right now he’s just a little scared.”
“I’m such a freaking mess, Grace. You need to get away from me.” Rubbing his
eyes with the backs of his hands, Bosco willed back his tears. “You need to get
away before I screw your life up too.”
“My life was screwed up way before I met you.” She wiped at his cheeks with her
“It can get worse, you don’t know the kind of damage I can do.”
“I know the kind of good you can do and that’s all that matters to me.” Grace
pulled his hands away from his face. “I’d rather be with someone who’s a little
overprotective than someone who doesn’t care.”
Her eyes met his steadily and Bosco could see that she was being honest. Not
for the first time did he wonder if maybe he’d found the woman to make a go of
things with. As much as he loved Faith, he knew that settling for Grace
wouldn’t be a hardship. “I don’t deserve you.”
“No you don’t.” Leaning in, she gave him a quick kiss. “But I deserve you.”
Bosco smiled slightly. He wasn’t sure anyone deserved him. Over her shoulder,
he saw Charlie and Faith approaching.
“Are you okay, Uncle Bos? Your lip’s all bloody.”
“Am I – “ Reaching up, Bosco felt his bottom lip. It was tender. “Yeah, I’m
okay. How about you? You all right?”
“Yeah. That was way too real, though.” Even his fight with Curtis at school
hadn’t been this intense. “Is this what it’s like to be a cop?”
“Sometimes. When people do stupid things.”
“Yeah, well, Dad was being a jerk.” He flashed a quick grin. “A jagoff.”
“He’s still your father, Chuck.” His heart felt a million pounds lighter. Chuck
wasn’t mad at him or scared of him, and he’d used the one word Bosco was sure
he’d taught him. “I just – it scared me that he might hurt you, you know?”
“I told him how you are when it comes to kids.” Faith looked Bosco over, his
lip was a little swollen and it looked as if a bruise was beginning to form
along his jaw. “And that you didn’t know that Fred’s never spanked him.”
“He hasn’t?” Now that he thought about it, one of Faith’s many bitches was that
Fred made her play cop at home with the kids. “I didn’t know, but that’s no
excuse. I’m sorry you had to see your dad get his ass kicked.”
Faith almost strangled trying not to laugh. She could always count on Bosco to
tell the truth at the worst possible time. And it wasn’t as if Fred didn’t need
his ass kicked. She sobered. “Child Services is on their way.”
“They’re not taking Chuck to foster care!”
“Why would they do that?”
“Why the hell else would they come out here?” No way was he letting them stick
Charlie in some weirdo’s house. “This is my fault, I’ll tell them I lost my
“Bosco, you’re off the hook. Someone called it in – probably one of the
Over the years they’d probably seen thousands of these domestic feuds. It had
gotten to where they could size them up pretty accurately. This was the only
time Charlie had run away – that they knew of. There was no history of abuse,
no history of domestic calls or DTPs, and no arrests except for Fred’s DUI –
which had been dropped to driving with no insurance and probation. “Nah,
they’ll wanna do some reports, follow up with a couple of visits and then
forget about it.”
“Probably.” She was just as confident that there was nothing to worry about.
“The lady was really nice when I talked to her last week.” Charlie told her. “I
told her I was really unhappy and she said she understood.”
Faith’s confident feeling evaporated. “Charlie, you’ve talked to someone with
Child Services – since the custody hearing?”
“Yeah, I um… I got in trouble at school. I sort of accidentally got in a
“You ‘sort of accidentally’ got into a fight?” Her eyes narrowed. “You don’t
accidentally get into a fight. Your fist can’t accidentally hit someone.”
“Well, that’s not exactly true, Faith. Remember that one time we were wrestling
that kid with – “ She turned her killer stare on him and Bosco decided
cowardice was the better of self-preservation. “You’re right – you’re
absolutely right – no such thing as an accident.”
“Shut up, Bosco. This is probably your fault.”
“Excuse me?” Grace put her hands on her hips. “How exactly – “
“Mom, it’s not his fault!” Charlie tugged on his mother’s arm to get her
attention. “Curtis’ a bully and he tried to hit me first!”
“Great, just great!” Raking her hands through her hair, Faith held on to what
little calm she had left. “Anything else your father hasn’t told me about? Have
you knocked over a liquor store or started selling crack to first graders?”
“You’re going a little overboard, Faith, sheesh.” Bosco caught Charlie’s eye
and tried to mentally project the idea that now was the time to come clean.
“My grades are kinda low, um…”
“Faith? Faith Yokas?”
Faith turned at the sound of her name. She recognized the woman walking toward
her. “Theresa? What are you doing way out here?”
“I transferred out here three months ago.” Theresa reached out and took Faith’s
hand. “I haven’t seen you since you made Detective!”
Bosco grinned. They’d worked with a lot of people in Child Services over the
years, and Theresa was a familiar face. “Chuck, is this the nice lady you
“Bosco?” Theresa wrapped him in a quick hug. “You’re looking good! A lot better
than the last time I saw you!”
“Come on, I always look good.” He didn’t remember Theresa visiting him in the
hospital, but then again, he’d been in a coma most of the time.
“Is Charlie your son?” Theresa turned to Faith. “You know, I wondered. But I
know you live close to the 55, so I figured it was just a coincidence.”
“Fred moved out here with his new girlfriend and he ended up with custody of
Charlie. Emily lives with me.”
An arch of Theresa’s eyebrow revealed what she thought of that arrangement.
“Hmm… you know, I had a meeting with Mr. Yokas on Tuesday and when you didn’t
show, he said you weren’t ‘involved’ in raising Charlie.”
“The number he gave for you is disconnected.” Theresa shrugged. “I’d like to
say that isn’t unusual, but parents play games like this all the time.”
“I know. I guess I just didn’t expect Fred to be so – so – “
“Petty?” Bosco offered.
“What the hell does he have to be petty about, Bosco?” Faith slumped against
the side of the car. “I had a good job that paid the bills, gave us insurance, kept
a roof over our head – what the hell was so wrong with that?”
He didn’t feel like he was a man. Bosco kept the thought to himself, and
besides, it was no excuse for the crap Fred was pulling. “You didn’t do
Except love the wrong person. Grace knew she was guilty of the same
thing. She’d fallen hard for Maurice even though she knew he loved Faith. And
Faith was so blind, she couldn’t see it.
“What happened tonight?” Theresa pulled out a notepad. “The call I got said
that Chuck was kidnapped by the non-custodial parent.”
“What the hell ever.” Bosco snorted. “Charlie ran away.”
“Bosco, you’re not helping!” Faith smacked his arm.
“Faith, relax. Just tell me what happened this evening and we’ll work it all
“Charlie ran away – sorta. You see, I told him that any time he needed to talk
to me or anything that I was there for him.” Bosco edged away from Faith in
case she followed the smack up with something stronger. “I didn’t mean he
should run away, but I’m glad he came to me, you know?”
“I am, too.” Theresa didn’t want to think where Charlie could have ended up
without someone to go to. The problem is, this isn’t the first time Charlie’s
“He didn’t really run away that other time.” How the hell did Child Services
find out about that? “Charlie came home – to my apartment. It was just the one
time so it’s no big deal, right?”
“Faith, Charlie has run away several times.” Theresa looked from Faith to
Charlie and back. “You didn’t know?”
“No.” This had to be a bad dream. She put her hands over her face. “Oh my God,
how is all this happening? Charlie, you promised you wouldn’t run away again.”
“I’m sorry, Mom.” He hugged her. “I’m really sorry.”
“Mrs. Zalder, the mother of one of Charlie’s friends called and reported that
Charlie had spent several nights in her son’s playhouse. I interviewed parents
of some of his other friends and discovered he’d been found on back porches, in
garages, and even a car.”
“Charlie – “ Holding her son to her, Faith shuddered at the image of her son
sleeping outside. “Baby, why didn’t you tell me you were so unhappy?”
“I didn’t want to cause more problems.”
“And of course, you didn’t think it was odd that Charlie’s mother wasn’t around
to talk to?” Grace had little respect for the system. They’d been no help when
her father was looking for her mother.
“Not with the father telling me that she knows and doesn’t care.” Theresa shot
back. “I’ve only had Charlie’s case for a few days and I was getting ready to
track down his mother and see for myself if she really didn’t care or if she
was in the dark about what was going on. You know it’s about a fifty-fifty
chance either way with most parents. I’m going to remove Charlie from his
“Oh my God, no, please don’t put Charlie in foster care!” Faith clutched at
Theresa’s arm. “Please!”
“I’m not – I’m not.” Theresa reassured her. “I’m going to send him home with
you It’s clear that Charlie’s unhappy. And what concerns me the most is how
he’s planned this time.” Theresa tugged on Charlie’s shirt collar. “More than
one layer of clothing, a couple of small bags, and I assume some money?”
“A little.” Charlie admitted.
“And he filched his mother’s key to my apartment.” Bosco was pretty sure he
shouldn’t be proud of Charlie, but in a way, he was. At least the kid was smart
enough to plan things out instead of just running off half-cocked.
“So what do we do now?” Faith asked.
“I’ll go tell Mr. Yokas that you’re taking Charlie.” She smiled slightly. “And
if he gives me any crap – I’ll threaten to press charges for the false
“Fred’s capable of a lot of crap.”
“Says the expert.” Theresa winked at Bosco before walking away.
“Do you really think she can let me take Charlie home?”
“Well, yeah, why not?” Bosco shrugged. “She’s the one who makes these kinds of
“What about the custody agreement? The judge set it up.” Hope welled up and she
tried to keep it at arm’s length.
“Child Services can step in and remove a child from a situation they think is
bad for the child. We’ve seen it, Faith, how many times?”
“Yeah, but – “ A burst of shouting interrupted her worries.
Fred was arguing with Theresa and one of the deputies. He was gesturing towards
them and shouting, and his face was red with fury.
“Fred better watch it, he’ll have another heart attack.”
“That’s not even funny, Bosco.” Faith glared at him over Charlie’s head. “He’s
still Charlie’s father.”
He didn’t look sorry, but Faith didn’t push it. Theresa was walking back to
them, a smile on her face.
“Always so patient, Bosco.”
“It’s part of his charm.” Grace told her.
“Mr. Yokas isn’t happy, but there’s nothing he can do about it.” Theresa
grinned. “For now, Charlie goes home with you.”
“Thank you, oh my God, thank you!” Faith threw her arms around Charlie.
“We’ll set up a court date and settle the custody issue. Right now he has no visitation
with either Emily or Charlie.”
“No wonder he’s screamin’.” Bosco waved at Fred. “See ya, Freddie.”
“Going to court didn’t help me any last time.” Faith rubbed her nose in
Charlie’s hair, ignoring his protests.
“Well… things will be a little different this time.” Theresa promised.
Theresa had been on the mark. This time was different. There’d been just
one home visit, conducted by Theresa and much friendlier than the ones she’d
endured before. Best of all, the judge was someone she knew. Judge Spencer had
presided over who knew how many domestic squabbles and child abuse cases she’d
brought in during her partnership with Bosco.
Fred’s pricey lawyer was smirking the same slimy smirk he’d had the last time
she’d seen him. Money talked and he was paid enough of it to talk circles
around the type of lawyer she could afford.
A smirk of her own curled her lips as Faith watched her new lawyer present the
judge with her argument. Goetz was a former prosecuting attorney and a friend.
Last time she’d been stupid and hadn’t called on connections built up over
thirteen years of police work. This time she wasn’t going to pretend that
things could be worked out in a friendly manner.
“Your Honor, Mrs. Yokas clearly violated the terms of the custody agreement.”
Fred’s lawyer smiled condescendingly. “I’m sure you can see that this entire
mess is of Mrs. Yokas’ making.”
“I can see that you’re getting on my last nerve, Counsel.” Spencer looked over
the top of his glasses. “And you need to get back to your seat before it
There was a snicker from behind her that Faith knew came from Bosco. Spencer
was one of his favorite judges. No Bullshit Spencer was his nickname.
“From what I’ve read, Ms. Mitchell – “ The judge stressed her maiden
name. “ – was at home and unaware that her son had run away. According to the
report, this is not the first time Charlie has run away.”
“Mrs. Yokas has encouraged him to run away.” Fred’s lawyer countered.
“I find that hard to believe considering her knowledge of what happens to
runaways here in our lovely city.” Spencer shook his head. “Also, given the
fact that he went to her on only one occasion leads me to believe that Ms.
Mitchell disapproved of her son’s actions.”
“Obviously, she encouraged him, can’t you see that? You must grant Mr. Yokas
full custody – “
“Oh, must I?” Judge Spencer sat back. “Must I? I love it when people tell me
what to do in my own courtroom. What I might do is toss Mr. Yokas in jail for
filing a false kidnapping report and for assaulting a police officer.”
“What? My client was attacked and merely defending himself!”
“That’s not what I see in Deputy Delgado’s report. He says that Mr. Yokas
provoked Officer Boscorelli by threatening to beat the child.” Setting the
report aside, the judge folded his hands solemnly. “It’s been my experience
that Officer Boscorelli – forgive me, it’s Detective Boscorelli,
congratulations on the promotion – it’s been my experience that Detective
Boscorelli is both levelheaded and slow to anger, he’s restrained himself
admirably on many occasions.”
The bailiff didn’t try to hide his smile. He and Bosco exchanged a wink and a
“For Detective Boscorelli to lose his self-control and strike Mr. Yokas, well,
it’s a situation beyond my belief.”
Faith bit her lip to keep from laughing. Judge Spencer knew Bosco’s temper only
too well. Bosco had once punched a guy who’d slapped his wife on the way out of
“Mr. Boscorelli’s interference is what caused the breakup of Mr. Yokas’
marriage.” The lawyer protested.
“Your Honor, I must object to this slandering of Detective Boscorelli – his
reputation as one of New York’s finest is above reproach.” Goetz countered.
Bosco sat up straighter and tried to look like a paragon of virtue as Faith’s
lawyer swept a hand in his direction.
“If Mr. Yokas wants to see the cause of his marriage’s failure, he need look no
further than his own drinking and infidelity.”
“Enough.” Not that Spencer didn’t love a good show from time to time, but he
had an afternoon appointment with a tall blonde and a hot tub. “Charlie, why
don’t we go into my chambers?”
“Um, okay, sure.” Charlie pushed the swinging door open and walked through. He
looked at his mother and when she nodded, he walked to where the judge was
“Take a half hour recess.” The judge ordered as he and Charlie left the
“This is good, right?” Faith turned to her lawyer. “This is good?”
“This is great.” Goetz assured her. “He’s going to listen to Charlie about how
he feels and everything that’s been going on. This is exactly what we want.”
“I hope so.”
“Relax.” Bosco reached over the railing and patted her on the back. “Let’s talk
about something important. Like me and how I’m the levelheaded one.”
“And here I thought it was our little secret.” She turned and smiled at him.
“It’s my ruling that Charlie Yokas be given into his mother’s custody.” Judge
Spencer held up a hand to ward off any objections. “After speaking with Charlie
and reviewing the documentation from Child Services – this is my decision.”
“You can’t just arbitrarily decide this!” Fred’s lawyer snorted.
“Actually, I can. That’s the beauty of this system.” He smiled. “This is a
courtroom, I’m a judge, and both the city and state of New York gives me the
authority to make decisions. Arbitrary or otherwise.”
“You can’t take my son away!” Fred jumped to his feet. “You can’t take him away
“Mr. Yokas, I didn’t take your son away – you drove him away.” The judge looked
down at his calendar. We’ll meet back here in two weeks. Visitation and child
support will be set at that time. For now, Mr. Yokas has no visitation.”
“Child support?” Fred dropped back in his chair. “What the hell for?”
“Until now, you’ve each had custody of one child, so child support wasn’t necessary.
Now Ms. Mitchell will have custody of both children. Therefore, you will need
to pay support. Don’t they show this kind of thing on TV anymore? I guess
custody cases aren’t as popular as those damn forensics shows.”
“Your Honor, I must object!”
“Feel free.” The judge picked up his gavel. “Court is adjourned.”
“We did it!” Faith hugged her lawyer. Getting up, she went through the gateway
to where Charlie sat. “We did it, baby!”
Charlie grunted as his mother hugged him. “I want to say goodbye to Dad. Is
“Sure it’s okay.” Faith stepped back. “He’s still your father and he loves you.
He’s acted like a jerk, but it’s because he’s mad at me.””
Watching him go to his father, Faith felt Bosco step up beside her. “We did it,
“Yep.” This was the way it should have happened the first time.
“Can we go now?” Charlie asked as he came back to where they were waiting.
“Come on.” Bosco pulled his car keys out of his jacket pocket. “Let’s go home,
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