Every girl has at some point dreamt of her prince. Of the day he would appear in their lives and sweep them away from whatever tragedy or pain life had thrown at them. Prince Charming was a man of many faces, many talents, and many admirers. Mainly because every girl seemed to have her own version of this prince. Someone that was perfect for them in every way–a soul mate essentially.
Yours just happened to take the face of someone who actually existed, but with whom you’d never really been able to know. You’d met him a couple of times, mostly by accident, and it was likely from this that your idealized perfection of him stemmed. No man could be nearly as perfect as the one in your head. In real life he likely had several flaws. He very well could have been a terrible person when you got to know him. Yet in your dreams he was everything you’d ever wanted.
He was the prince that would come to save you from your nightmare of an existence. When things were at their worst you fantasized about him taking you away and it helped you keep holding on. Though, at times the desire was so strong that it made things more painful. You wanted so badly for your dreams to come true and when they didn’t it made your heart ache with the weight of your despair.
The department was as busy as a beehive, so much so that you were concerned your visit might be intrusive. However, you knew better than to not show up. It would only cause more problems if he came looking for you because of a no-show. The fact that you had these bi-weekly visits was already a source of tension at home.
Sarah was certain that you were doing this just to spite her. It never seemed to occur to her that your deceased father had friends who actually gave a damn about you. Or if it did, she simply ignored it in favor of venting her frustrations on you. Either way, nothing about this situation was anything close to ideal.
You tried to stay out of everyone’s way as you hurried across the room, dodging the busy officers as they went about their tasks. There were so many of them moving around though that you started to feel boxed in and it only added to your anxiety. A hefty dose of claustrophobia on top of your already frayed nerves made it hard to breathe. You backed out of the way as someone came through with an armful of boxes and your back hit something that made your entire body bristle. Especially when that something put a hand on your arm to guide you back further out of the way.
Looking up and seeing that it was him with that hand on you really did a number on your heart too. Every time you saw him it would cause a jolt, but having him touch you made it far worse. Your heart started sprinting like a race horse down the track.
He smiled at you. Though Detective Goren always seemed to have a smile for you, despite the fact that neither of you had actually interacted before. "You’re Captain Deakins’ goddaughter, right?"
The lump in your throat made it hard to speak so you settled for nodding. It was hard enough being this close to the star of your fantasies, let alone trying to talk to him.
"I've seen you around quite a bit." That he noticed you around was enough to put your already racing heart into overdrive. A million little worries sprung to life in the wake of the excitement though.
What exactly had he noticed about you? What had he thought? Were you being too quiet? Did he expect you to to say something?
You started feeling awkward and it became hard to hold his gaze. Even the way you held your arms felt off under his scrutiny. Plus there was the question of just why he was taking the time to talk to you of all people. Your self-esteem wasn't exactly terrible, but it was still a shock to have a guy like him show interest.
“He likes for me to stop by.” Came your soft reply. Your voice came out lower than you’d intended, but at least it didn’t shake. “He worries a lot.”
“Yeah,” the way he said that took you by surprise. There was something knowing in that tone of his and you wondered if your secret was more exposed than you’d thought. You wouldn’t have put it past your godfather to task his officers with a little digging. “He has been pretty worried about you.”
Your stomach began twisting at the direction the conversation was taking. He wasn’t being direct enough for you to be sure, but it really felt like he knew. You had a sudden urge to pull down your sleeves, even though the bruises were long since healed. There hadn’t been another incident, another mark since these visits became more or less obligatory.
“I should–” You paused briefly as the words lodged themselves in your throat. There was a moment were you felt this indescribable urge to just tell him. You’d dreamed of doing such a thing. Dreamt telling him what was happening and having him save you from it.
You didn’t though. You knew better. “I shouldn’t keep him waiting.”
“Of course.” He replied with a smile, though his eyes seemed to pierce you with their intensity. “We’ll talk another time then.”
The way your heart leapt made it very hard to breathe. Once again you nodded silently in reply.
He removed his hand from your arm slowly enough that it felt reluctant, but you tried not to dwell on it too much. Hopefulness only made things hurt more.
You hurried into your godfather’s office resisting the urge to look back and confirm that Detective Goren was stilling watching. You felt his eyes though, even after you’d closed the door.
Meanwhile, out in the bullpen, Detective Goren was leaning against his desk with his arms crossed and his eyes squarely on you. Not even for a second did you glance back, but your shoulders were tensed enough that he was sure you felt him watching.
"With all the attention you were giving her, I thought she was going to spontaneously combust." Eames teased as she joined him in watching you and Deakins.
Goren smiled a little at the jab. "She's easily flustered. It's cute."
“Flustered is putting it mildly.” Eames replied. “She didn’t know what to do with herself. I can certainly see why Deakins wanted you on her case.”
He didn’t reply as she left. He just kept watching you.
All the while you seemed determined never to look back. You kept your focus solely on your godfather as the two of you spoke.
These visits had become a regular thing since your father passed away. Originally the two of you would drop by sparingly and then it had been just you after he got sick. You’d stop in to keep his dearest friend up to date and then you stopped coming altogether once he died. It wasn’t until your godfather started paying visits himself that this routine was established. He insisted on you dropping by, not shutting yourself off from the world in that big old house.
Though he became particularly insistent on it being such a regular thing when he found a suspicious bruise that you hadn’t done the best job of lying about. He’d been furious at the idea of someone hurting you and adamant about wanting to save you from it. You’d listened to his promise about helping you if you were in trouble, but you still hadn’t told him what was happening at home. Not because you didn’t think he’d do everything in the world to protect you, but because Sarah would only make things worse for you. She was the reason you couldn’t go back to school after your father died. She was the reason you couldn’t get a job outside the house. Every time you tried to do something for yourself, something that might save you from your nightmare of a life, things went very wrong… You were suspended from school for drug use without even an investigation and every time you’d gotten an interview somewhere you’d show up only to be turned away without explanation.
Sarah’s influence had a lot of reach. Even if you filed a complaint there wasn’t any actual evidence that she was the one hurting you. What with the ‘drug’ incident she could easily paint a terrible picture of you being a dangerous addict that she’d been trying to save. Everyone always thought she was this wonderful, sweet woman and they always took her word on everything. They never saw the wicked step-mother, only the dedicated church going woman who took care of her late husband’s child and kept very active in her community. People thought she helped others because she had a big heart. In reality she worked very hard to earn a strong reputation and favors from people with a lot of pull. It put her in the perfect position to keep you under her thumb.
She loved having power: she was addicted to it. Power and money were her favorite things in the world and as long as she had you in her clutches she had plenty of both. She’d made sure of that.
Thankfully the subject had stopped coming up directly during your visits. That didn’t mean he wasn’t still trying to get the truth out of you, but he’d become more subtle about it. Sometimes you didn’t even realize what he was getting at until after the fact.
He didn’t become the captain of major crimes for nothing after all.
“What’s all this about?” You queried while glancing down at a fancy looking invitation that had been on his desk. “A policeman’s ball?”
The idea was strangely amusing. Mainly because you couldn’t quite picture your godfather all dressed up in a tux rubbing elbows with the high society types.
He smiled wryly like he knew just where your mind had gone. “Yeah, it’s a charity event to raise money for the families of fallen officers. You should come; it would do you good to get out of the house more.”
Try as he might to hide the edge in his tone, you still picked up on it. It was hard going through the motions for both of you. Him unable to do anything and you unable to say anything. The most he could do was cause a fuss without you actually testifying against your stepmother. You knew what would happen if you did though. She was too well liked by all the right people. It would be your word against hers and she’d already made it clear just how little your word counted for against her own. By the time the trial rolled around you would have been the villain and she would have been the poor, long suffering mother.
Even with a police captain on your side, she could bury you both in lies and slander.
So you put on that smile you used to hide your pain from him. “I’m not sure I’ll be able to make it, but I’ll try.”
You knew from his expression, the way his smile dropped just a little, that he didn’t buy it for a second.
“I should get back home.” Loathe as you were to leave and as he was to let you, it didn’t do you any good hanging around too long. “Got a few chores to knock out before dinner.”
“Right.” He tried to keep his smile, but it looked more like a pained grimace. “I hope to see you at the event. We haven’t spent a lot of time together since…”
You nodded when he trailed off, feeling that familiar clench in your chest and gut whenever the subject of your father came up. “I’ll try.”
It was a hollow, empty shell of a promise; but it was the best you could do.
He opened the door for you as you started to leave. “If you need anything, you know you can call me right?”
For a moment your eyes burned, but thankfully no tears surfaced. “Of course.”
You headed off towards the elevators without looking back, fearing that you might not be so controlled if you did. You spared a glance at Detective Goren, confirming that he was indeed watching you. The idea that he’d been doing that the whole time made you feel very skittish and you dropped his gaze quickly. Your face felt heated as you hurried along and it was only when the elevator doors closed, blocking you from view, that you were able to breathe easily again.
All those times you’d fantasied about catching his attention and when you did you acted like a shy little school girl. So much for making a good first impression.