Scourge of the Shadows
The chill started at his toes and rose slowly, numbing his entire body until his heart went deathly cold, freezing him in place beside her. The dread he’d kept at bay for so long shattered as the cuffs cinched tightly around his wrists, cutting him into tiny pieces of regret and real fear. He was afraid to look at her, but the deep need to tell her of his love won out and he managed to breathe out the words, hoping to ease some of the shock that was radiating off of her. He caught her bewildered expression and his stomach clinched into a tighter knot, fearing her response more than the charges against him.
The walk to the car seemed longer than a few feet, even though he felt a rushing in his ears as he tried to manage the chaos in his mind. He flushed with anger as the officer ushered him into the back of the car, the urge to resist flaring only briefly until the door shut softly, banishing him into the sterile shadows of the back seat. The dense silence beat against his ears as he tried to find some comfort from the cuffs that gouged his skin. His mood darkened as he turned his head, hoping to catch a last glimpse of her as she stood confused and unmoving on the sidewalk. Would she believe his innocence as he’d believed hers?
He could feel his heartbeat, now racing even as his mind became sluggish. It was all real now. No more speculation. No more searching his memories for what they had on him.
The impact of the word alone made him nauseous, and he swallowed hard to tamp down the burning bile rising in his throat. He suddenly felt very alone, and devoid of his usual blithe take on life. He missed her. Her absence hurt. He’d become used to having her beside him, her quiet confidence adding to his own assurance that they could deal with whatever came at them. He longed to hear all of their voices in his ear. He’d come to rely on instant communications with a backup team of two of the strongest men he’d ever known, and coupled with brilliant minds able to unlock any questions he might have. Not now. Now he was alone, and vulnerable, facing a dark future that left him empty and searching for hope. Would they all abandon him? Would his enigma of a boss work to protect him as she’d promised, or would the agency wash their hands of him? The uncertainty added to the chill that still gripped him as the car moved through familiar streets that no longer seemed friendly.
He was embarrassed as they walked him up to booking, and he tried to read the faces of his fellow officers. Most took no notice of him, making him feel unworthy and even more disgraced.
“Deeks, Martin A.,” the bored voice called out. “Stand in.”
He felt hollow and deeply saddened as he stood in front of the camera for his mug shot, but his anger flared again when they fingerprinted him like a common thief. This wasn’t supposed to happen. He was a detective, dammit—an officer of the law. He had always prided himself on being the best cop he could be, but now all those years he’d served didn’t seem to matter. His stomach knotted with anxiety as distrust of the system began to cloud his mind. They were out to get him and he was alone and he was shaken.
His anger simmered as they closed the door to the holding cell behind him, leaving him with the scum he usually put here. He sensed himself slipping into the persona of Max Gentry and other aliases he’d adopted in cells like this, but he was just fooling himself. This wasn’t an undercover assignment. This was the harsh reality of his life, and his guard went up. He thought he had escaped this life, but somehow he had made a mistake and it had yanked him back into the darkness he had escaped so long ago.
What would his mother think now? She didn’t deserve this disappointment. She’d suffered enough and now he was the one hurting her. For that he did feel guilty. She would come. He could count on her, but even though he knew Kensi would come too, he wasn’t sure what to expect from her. He was sure of his mother’s support, but Kensi would be tougher on him, deservedly so. When she’d promised she was all in, she couldn’t have expected this. He’d revealed so little of himself. Was he afraid she wouldn’t want him if he revealed more? Would she believe him if he did? His confidence wavered as he fought to control his emotions, and the shadows of doubt clutching at his heart.
Nothing was certain now. All bets were off.