Never 24
Author: Clea Saal
Fandom: The Sentinel
Rating: 13+
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Never 24

I'm staring at my office's closed door without really seeing it, trying to understand the enormity of what has happened... or maybe I'm just trying to deny it all... I'm just not sure. Maybe it's just that I'm too numb to think about anything at all right now.

I know officers sometimes get killed in the line of duty. I am well aware that that's a sad but unavoidable fact of life in this line of work and I know most of those who are killed are our beat cops... the ones who find themselves in the front lines and have the least amount of experience to fall back on. It is true that Ellison and Sandburg have an unusual knack for getting shot at on a regular basis but they are the exception to the rule and they seem to have more lives than any respectable cat should, others are not so lucky.

The thing is that for the most part detectives don't really arrive at the scene until the situation has been secured... it is the beat cops who have to confront the psychos, at least until backup can get there and take over with the necessary gear and expertise but sometimes that backup is not fast enough and as a result beat cops are the ones who end up taking the most casualties. Tragedies don't happen every day, luckily, but they do happen sometimes.

Today was one of those days. A hostage situation in an attempted bank robbery gone wrong escalated due to the stupidity of a rent-a-cop trying to play hero and an officer, one of the first responders, was killed as a result. His captain came by to break the news to me personally a few minutes ago.

The problem is that I can't help but think that it is all my fault. I am all too aware of the fact that if it hadn't been for me it wouldn't have happened, that if it hadn't been for me he would still be alive.

I've had a long and successful career, I'm the captain of Major Crimes and up until today I was proud of that fact. My life may not have been perfect and, just as is the case with too many police marriages, mine could not take the strain but over all I was happy with what I had accomplished. In a way I had everything I had always dreamed of. I had the respect of my men, I had done my best to make my city a better, safer place and I had a son who had decided to follow on my footsteps in spite of his mother's objections. That was the thing I was the most proud of... I wonder if he knew.

I'm trying not to think about it but I can't help it, even if the reality of it hasn't quite hit me just yet... I still can't quite grasp the fact that he is gone.

He was just 23 and starting his career, following in his old man's footsteps and those footsteps led him to his death. I've had to make these calls too many times before and I know I'll have to do it again but it's never been quite like this and it will never be again. I know that delaying the inevitable won't help me, not now... putting it off won't change the reality of what has happened.

There is a mother out there who has to be notified of the fact that her 23 year-old son will never be 24, that she will never see her son get married or hold a grandchild in her arms. The immensity of the tragedy has never been quite so overwhelming before, the ramifications have never been quite so obvious. This is not the first time that I've had to perform this duty. I've done it before, too many times, but never with such a sense of guilt... never with such a certainty that if it hadn't been for me the young man in question wouldn't have died. I've done this before but never with such an awareness of the fact that it was my being a cop that brought us to this point... and never before has the mother of the officer in question been my ex-wife.

Daryl was 23, he'll never be 24.

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Disclaimer: I don't own the characters, I don't own the concepts, I make no money, I make no sense and I get no sleep. This is done for fun and I promise to put the characters back where I found them once I'm done playing with them.


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