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Time for a Change

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Time for a Change
by Dusty Tyree

Vincent Hunter rubbed his forehead wearily, as he closed down his computer.

The report on the cop who had tried to take down Chief Manion was finished and he could now go home.

Looking round the office he realised he was the only one left, maybe even the only one left on this floor. He shrugged and stood up, stretching his tall frame to work the kinks out of his neck; he wasn't bothered, he didn't mix well with his fellow officers, even at this time of year.

Christmas Eve held nothing for him now. He'd left that all behind him twelve months ago, when he'd walked from his house after catching his wife in bed with his partner.

He'd never even suspected that Ellen was having an affair with his friend and partner; his tall, blonde wife hadn't even seemed to like Dennis, the way she'd bitched on about the time he spent with the other man.

Hell, what did she expect, the man was his partner, he worked with him, even spent long nights on stakeout - he'd thought they were friends. Just goes to show, loyalty and friendship didn't count for much these days.

A faint anger stirred within his chest. How had he missed the signs? He was a detective for God's sake, and a good one.

He'd thought he and Ellen had a good marriage, they were friends before they were lovers, they liked the same things, the sex was good and they didn't seem to fight as much as their other married friends ... they'd even talked about having children.

Now all he had left was a bitter memory of naked limbs entwined and the two faces he'd trusted most in the world were looking up at him in shocked surprise.

He had been numb - in shock he supposed. He had, however, been in full control when he'd tended his resignation and transferred to Internal Affairs with the rank of Captain. No partners to rely on, or be betrayed by, just himself.

He knew what the detectives called him - the Dark Side of the Force, but he was extremely good at his job and did it efficiently without frills or favour.

He respected what Manion was trying to do, but his cynical side also told him that the new Chief was a fool if he thought he could walk softly around most of the scum in this city.

Picking up his overcoat, he straightened his tie and walked down the stairs. Hearing the sound of loud voices and music as he reached Manion's floor, he turned his steps towards the Bull Pen to see that was happening and pushed open the door slightly.

A party seemed to be in full swing, there was food and bottles of juice and maybe even wine, spread on every desk and flat surface.

Despite himself, Hunter felt a slight hitch in his breathing. Last year he would've been in there, chatting with his fellow detectives, eating the snacks and relaxing after a hard day. Now he didn't want to go in there, not that he'd be welcome anyway.

Internal Affairs was a necessary evil for most cops; they didn't like the department and they didn't like the officers, conveniently forgetting that most of IA personnel were just like themselves, with families and friends, doing a job to the best of their ability.

Lifting his gaze slightly, he saw Manion's door was open and his personal staff crowded round the desk, plastic glasses and snacks in hand as they laughed and chatted.

Looked like another party was getting started.

For a minute Hunter stared, a faint regret stirring under his immaculate grey jacket. He remembered other parties, with his friends and partner, the euphoria of having closed a difficult case ... but that was before...

Giving himself a mental shake, Hunter straightened his shoulders, his head lifting to it's normal arrogant angle, and let go of the door.

As it started to close, Manion looked up and their eyes met, just for a split second, and Hunter felt a surge of anger at the look of compassion which crossed the older man's features.

He didn't need, or want Manion's sympathy, he didn't need anyone's pity.

Shaking his head slightly, the tall man pulled on his overcoat and exited the building, leaving the sounds of music and merriment behind ... as he'd left friendship and warmth behind so many months ago.

Walking to his car, through the cold, frosty, evening air, Hunter felt the loss of warmth and friendship hit him like a sudden blow to the gut.

Suddenly, the prospect of being alone for the rest of his life, didn't appeal any more.

He couldn't forget, or forgive Ellen, or his erstwhile partner, but they weren't the only people who had been in his life. He did have relatives.

Maybe this year was the time to accept his Uncle William's open invitation to join the family Christmas in Cascade.

No one knew him there, his uncles and cousins were virtual strangers ... maybe he didn't have to be alone at Christmas, after all.

Yes ... maybe now was the time...

© Dusty Tyree