Author: Pink Rabbit Productions
Fandom: Guiding Light
Date: 29 June, 2009
Rating: Personally, I'd call it an R, but some might consider it NC-17 at some point.
Disclaimer: The characters and situations belong to other folks far wealthier, more important (or at least with better lawyers), and hopefully more charitable and kinder than I. They include, but are not necessarily limited to CBS, Proctor and Gamble, and Telenext. The actual arrangement of words, however, remains my own as do any original characters. Meanwhile, there is likely to be all female romantic and sexual activity ahead, so if this is likely to get you, me, or anybody else arrested should you take a gander, please move along. Also, if you find that sort of thing offensive, you really probably shouldn't hang around anyplace I'm posting. Just sayin'....
Archiving: The Pink Rabbit Consortium
Spoilers: Some early scenes definitely, plus anything through the spa trip is fair game.
Timeline: Unlike some folks, I don't have an exact scene where this one takes off. However, it's definitely set after the spa trip, but before Rafe's release from the halfway house.
Earlier Parts: | Part 1 (Prologue) | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 |
Author's Note: Another likely to be not so beloved chapter. lol. Damn plot bunnies.
by Pink Rabbit Productions
The place Frank had suggested for meeting the visiting detective was a bit of a dive, but the burgers were hot, the beer was cold, and he was unlikely to see anyone he knew. If he was honest, that last factor was its primary appeal. He was tired of the various watering holes where cops and badge bunnies alike congregated. Everybody knew how he'd been dumped and the looks he'd gotten ever since had run from the speculative, wonder-what-he-did-wrong type to faux-sympathetic to outright pitying.
Well, except for Doris Wolfe. She just smirked knowingly, triumphant in her certainty that he hadn't measured up to Olivia Spencer until he just wanted to knock that smug look right off her face. For a brief moment, he'd entertained the notion that perhaps she was happy about the breakup because she wanted to add him to her stable of boy-toys. His subsequent beatdown by her "bodyguards" had made it clear that wasn't the case. She just liked seeing him humiliated and tossed out in the cold.
His teeth gritted and he took a long draught from his beer. "Bitch," he muttered under his breath at the thought of the mayor. But the day was coming when she—and her damn cousin in the chief's chair—would get hers.
He was still buried in fantasies of getting the mayor sent up on corruption charges—they'd see how she liked the idea of girl-on-girl action when she was in the state pen and her roommate was a large woman named Bertha—when a shadow fell across his table.
"You look like a cop." Deep and smooth, the voice was easily recognizable from the phone call.
Frank tipped his head up, peering at the newcomer. Dark hair and eyes, average height, medium build, and the sort of face that would work well for undercover work. Decent looking but unremarkable. Memorable if you knew the guy, forgettable if you didn't. "Jim Barron?" he said by way of question.
A quick nod and a faint twist of a smile confirmed the question as a hand was held out for a shake. "Frank Cooper?" Barron said quickly, his tone making it more a statement than a question.
Frank nodded as he accepted the shake, covering a wince as his hand was caught in a cool, almost painfully strong grip. "So how are you getting along in Springfield?" he questioned as the other man took a seat on the opposite side of the booth, settling the files he had tucked under his left arm on the seat next to his hip.
Barron shrugged. "Doin' okay. My little sister just moved here last year, so I hadn't been down before. Seems like a good place for her to...y'know...start a life...raise kids, that kind of thing." He paused in his commentary when a waitress appeared and they both ordered beers–-the third for Frank—and burgers. "So you lived here long?" Barron questioned after she'd gone again.
"Yeah," Frank said a little sadly, missing other, happier times, "I raised my daughter here ... and ... well ...my kid sister too, really. My parents...they weren't really around." He half expected the usual questions, but the other man just offered a sympathetic look. "It's a good place for kids though." He shook himself, consciously throwing off the expectations he'd had of more children with Natalia. They hadn't talked about it, but he'd known she'd want to fill a whole damned house with them just like he did. But not now.
"Yeah, small towns have some advantages there," Barron agreed amiably. "Not like Chi." He paused thoughtfully. "I love the city, but...it can get a little overwhelming. Too much of everything." Another shrug. "Then again, some days being one more anonymous cog in the big city has its appeal too."
Once upon a time Frank would have disagreed. Usually he liked the recognition that came with being a small town cop. But lately, it felt more like a matter of mockery than respect. He was still lost in his own dark thoughts when the other man broke in, his tone apologetic.
"Sorry...didn't mean to be a downer," Barron muttered. His head was down and he was running a finger round and round the condensation gathered on the lip of his beer mug.
It suddenly occurred to Frank that the other man hadn't even noticed how quiet he'd gone.
Barron too was lost in his own thoughts.
"Weddings aren't always easy to be around," Frank said after a beat, sidestepping the obvious question. He knew how he responded when anyone came out and directly asked.
"Yeah," the other man agreed, his hand still moving in that slow, rhythmic circle. "Especially when you feel like you oughta be at your own." He glanced up for a brief second before looking back down. "Y'know, you think you've found that one person...the one who completes you...and you figure there'll be a home, kids, a life together...and suddenly it's gone and it's real hard to be around somebody who's still in that place."
"Yeah," Frank exhaled as though struck. He'd found it hard to even spend time with his daughter and her new baby. Her happiness just clashed with his mood. "What happened?" he asked at last.
The other detective shrugged."I thought I'd found the perfect woman...beautiful, sweet, homebody who didn't mind that I was a cop...and I loved taking care of her, y'know...and making sure she was happy...and I guess it just wasn't enough." He looked up, mouth twisting into an embarrassed smirk. "Turns out the whole time I was planning our future, she was banging her boss...some upmarket divorce attorney. She apparently does great work ripping off every guy in town whose wife decides she needs something else." He took a long swallow from his mug. "I didn't even get beat out by a better man," he put extra emphasis on the last word. "Not that you could tell from the brass balls on that bitch," he added bitterly.
Frank's hand clenched almost convulsively on the handle of his mug. Oh, how he knew that feeling, knew it so well that he almost envied the other man for giving voice to the thoughts that had run through his head. He was still trying to come up with something to say when Barron spoke again, his tone apologetic.
"Aw, man, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to..." He glared at his beer. "I probably shouldn't touch this stuff right now. Too tempting to say too much when I drink." He looked directly at Frank. "I'm really not usually like this. It just bugs me that some smarmy manipulator gets everything and I'm out in the cold."
"I can understand that," Frank said after a long moment of uncomfortable silence, his voice low and nearly inaudible. "It's not right or fair when good people lose out to the scumbags of this world."
"Then again," Barron reversed himself, the bitterness softening to something dark and mournful. "Maybe I'm wrong blaming the ballbuster. After all, it was Emily who lied to me...looked at me with those big, beautiful eyes and made me think I was the center of her universe... For all I know she's taking the ballbuster for a ride just like she did me." He smirked. "Not that it would depress me overmuch to see that bitch get her heart broken...if she even has one."
"Yeah, I know that feeling," Frank exhaled with heartfelt sincerity.
"You sound like you really do," Barron observed sympathetically after a long moment of silence, his expression suggesting to Frank that he understood that the comment hadn't just been about his situation. Then suddenly he consciously straightened his shoulders and offered the quintessential, "guy" smile—broad, cocky, and oh-so fake. "So what do you think of the Cub's chances this year?"
Frank couldn't hold back a soft, ironic chuckle. "Not so great."
"Yeah, well, we Cubbies fans are used to that."
After that, they talked sports by tacit agreement, arguing the merits of pitching and batting averages and discussing who was "roiding" and who wasn't. After a couple of hours and several more beers, Frank felt almost human.
Finally, the Chicago detective glanced at his watch. "Much fun as this has been, I really gotta get back for a family dinner tonight."
"It was great meeting you," Frank said with absolute sincerity.
"You too, Cooper." As he started to get up, he disturbed the stack of files at his hip. Glancing down, he grabbed for the forgotten folders with a snort. "In fact, I had a good enough time, I completely forgot what I came here for." He thrust the stack of manilla folders at Frank. "These are copies, so you can keep 'em if you want."
Frank reached for the folders. "Ah...sure. You never know what might turn up."
"This is my cell number if you come up with anything," Barron added as he passed over his business card.
Frank returned the favor, pausing to jot the phone number and address to Company on the back. "My family owns the place...it's a bar and restaurant. You should drop by while you're in town."
Barron took the card and tucked it in his wallet. "I might just do that," he said with an easy smile. "See you around." And then he slipped out, leaving Frank alone.
The detective considered heading out as well, but he'd only just gotten a refill on his beer, and it was as good a time as any to take a look at the open cases the other man had handed over. It never occurred to him that he was sitting near a broad picture window that faced the street or that he was well-lit by overhead lights or that dark eyes might be watching from the shadows as daylight dimmed outside the bar.
The trap had been set and baited.
Frank rifled through several folders, then pulled one from near the bottom of the stack, visibly reading more slowly. Then suddenly he paled and his hands started to shake ever so slightly as adrenalin flooded his bloodstream. He rifled faster, reread, reread again, then suddenly slammed the folder shut. He tossed a few bills onto the counter to pay his tab, then hurried out, jaw set in a line of grim determination.
"Snap," Frank's lunch companion whispered almost inaudibly. He could almost hear the sound of steel crashing down on a slender neck. Smiling at the thought, his work done for the moment, he ambled away into the night.