I only found this after she died,
From a moment I acquired such grace,
Everybody seemed to want to take her place.
Beth Orton/Best Bit
Lieutenant Mitch Brogan returned to the Jungle after Officer McElroy's funeral in a dark mood. Of all the dead officers from the 'Destiny Engine' case, the Crash Team felt the greatest loss for, and the strongest connection with, Officer McElroy, due to her posthumous assistance with the Bloody Mary case. And Mitch, of course, felt that he had failed in his mission to find McElroy and the others in time to save them all.
Officer Chrysine had temporarily checked herself out of the hospital to attend the funeral, over the vehement protests of her physicians. They had appealed to Mitch, as her commanding officer, to stop her. He had done no such thing.
Seeing Chrysine's injuries, however, also made him feel rather guilty. He had to wonder what he could have done to prevent her from getting hurt. And Didi wasn't even in any condition to attend the funeral at all, much as she wanted to, and she made her displeasure known to him in no uncertain terms before he left with Chrysine.
And finally, at the funeral, he saw Madam Director. His wife. Mitch thought about what had happened the night before, and wanted to confess everything to her, plead for absolution. But by mutual unspoken agreement, they were keeping their distance.
Jama's security detail saw Mitch, and kept a wary eye on him. The Director of XSWAT was always a target, but having the Crash Team leader in the same place just might be the deciding factor in tempting the Yakuza to try something.
Or, given their estrangement, they might actually consider Mitch a threat to her. Until that day, Mitch would have been outraged by the thought. In that moment, it suddenly made perfect sense, and he could only feel appalled at how much his world had changed. So Mitch kept his distance and his silence, leaving the Director and her guardians undisturbed with his troubles.
Was there anyone Mitch hadn't failed? They all deserve better.
Mitch found himself in the hallway outside APD Vice once again. Detective McCarthy saw him as she returned from lunch. She was on light duty, catching up on paperwork.
He stopped her at the door. "Got a minute?"
She looked a bit tired, maybe hung-over. "Sure. How was the funeral?"
"Jama was there."
The temperature in the hall dropped several degrees. Erin just stared at him.
"I'm sorry I've been blocking your calls—you can talk to me anytime, Erin. But you need to hear this. I'm still in love with her. And...."
Her voice was icy. "And you're confused, Mitch."
"Yeah, I'm real confused. What happened last night... shouldn't have." The pain in his voice was obvious.
"Mitch... you don't owe her anything. She threw you out."
"There's more to it than that, Erin. A lot more."
"But you're not telling me, or anyone else...."
No, I can't go into that. It's between me and her." Mitch was beginning to recover his composure.
"Was there another woman?" Erin raised an eyebrow.
"No, in fact, there wasn't." Mitch smugly assumed Erin was off-track, then realized where she was going.
"Well, now there is. See you later, Mitch." Her grin was pure evil.
Mitch couldn't believe what he was hearing. "Uh... Erin, you realize how dangerous that is... for you? I mean, there's an outside chance she'd forgive me, but you? Forget about it."
A bright, contralto voice cut through the hubbub of the hall traffic.
Mitch turned to see a young XSWAT officer approaching him. It took him a second to recognize her as Elizabeth.
After the Bloody Mary case, Liz had been acting remote, saying little, wearing sunglasses at all times. The young woman coming up was acting bright and cheerful, her hazel eyes shining.
Liz caught up with him and began talking in a bubbly voice very unlike her usual demeanor.
"I tried to catch you after the funeral 'cause I figured that wasn't the place to talk, but I wanted to thank you for taking us to the Armageddon Clock, that was fun and we had a really good time, at least until those silly gangers decided to have a fight right outside and...."
Liz's voice paused, reacting to Erin's presence as if noticing her for the first time.
"Oh, I'm sorry! I didn't realize I was interrupting." She held out a hand and smiled. "Hi, I'm Elizabeth Yasha!"
Erin had rounded on the intruder as if to lash out, then reined herself in when she realized who had joined their conversation. Still, she made only a token effort to hide her annoyance at the interruption.
With an obviously fake smile and a voice dripping with insincerity, she held out her hand. "I'm Detective Erin McCarthy. Mitch speaks very highly of you, Officer Yasha. It's a pleasure to finally meet someone from his squad."
Elizabeth beamed, seemingly oblivious to Erin's attitude. She did a quick pump-and-release on Erin's hand then clasped her hands in glee.
"Thanks! It's great working with Mitch!" She grabbed Mitch's arm and gave a quick hug as she gushed, "He's the greatest!" then giggled, honest to God, giggled.
"Oh, you have no idea." Erin turned to Mitch for a moment, facing away from Liz, and rolled her eyes in a ‘WTF’ expression. He gave her his very best ‘totally innocent’ poker face, knowing she didn't buy it for an instant.
"Mitch, I'll get back to you ASAP on that case we were discussing last night." Erin's smile could rival one of Liz's shark-grins. "Always happy to lend a hand."
"It was nice meeting you, Officer Yasha. I can see you need to talk with your CO, and I should be getting back to work."
Smiling brightly, Liz waved. "It was great to meet you, too, Ma'am, I mean, Detective. 'Kay, thanks, buh-bye!"
Elizabeth waited until Erin was out of earshot, then turned to Mitch, still smiling.
"She's very nice." The smile went from bubble-head to predator in an eye-blink. "I can see why you didn't kick her out of bed, El-Tee."
Mitch's eyes narrowed. "She's the Anti-Christ. And you must be... the monster under my bed. I'm telling you exactly one more time, Liz, as a friend—stay out of my private life."
More calmly, he told her, "And stay outta my head."
Elizabeth grinned. "Sorry, chief. No can do. Gotta promise to keep."
Mitch leaned in closer, a stern look on his face. "And that promise includes spying on me around the clock? Not any more. Liz, we're going for a drive. Right now."
Elizabeth opened her mouth to fire off another retort, then paused, sensing the current of emotions flowing from Mitch. Her expression shifted again, from smirking smugness to cool appraisal.
She nodded. "Lead on."
TO BE CONTINUED...