Thursday, March 16, 2017

Happy Birthday Chief Greene

She walked into the Alexandra Police station with a small black wheeled suitcase.  Brown pigtails and pink overalls.  No coat, even though it was hardly the height of spring.  It was technically still wintertime.  No more than 6 or 7 years old, she goes up to the front desk, clutching the suitcase handle in one hand and a white envelope tightly in the other.

  Darcy was working the front while Mert was out for a lunch break. She looked down at the sweet looking little girl and smiled a bit "Hey there..." She looked out the door, expecting parents or caregivers to be nearby or chasing after the child any moment "Are you looking for a place to mail your letter?"

She looked up at the lady police officer and swallowed, shaking her head.  Opening her mouth, her soft young voice spoke.  "I'm supposed to give this to Officer Joshua Greene."  she held out the envelope.

Darcy took the envelope and her eyes darted out the door again. She'd worked with kids who's whole lives had been blown to smithereens and the last question she'd ask a scared child was where are your parents. In her past experience, in Afghanistan, the parents were usually dead. She tried to keep her voice casual and said "He's our chief now but it's his day off. Do you think maybe I could help you? My name is Darcy and I used to wear my hair in two braids, just like you. Sometimes the other kids would pull them, especially the rotten boys."

She smiles.  "No.  I am supposed to be with Joshua Greene.  Everything is in there."  she seems nervous but not crying or panicked.  "That's what my Mommy told me before she put me on the Ferry.  Get off at Alexandra, walk all the way down the long street and turn and go to the police station and make sure Officer Greene got that."  she motions to the envelope again.

Darcy frowns a little but not sternly and offers "I can call him.....but I need to check this letter first." Darcy has a sinking feeling she can't explain. She opens the letter and scans the paper and forces herself not to visibly react. the letter says:

Dear Dad,

This is Madeline.  She is my daughter.  I named her after those books you used to read me when I was little.  Remember?  Anyway.  Things aren’t going real well for me again, and if I don’t do something then she’ll get taken away from me, too.  So I am sending her to live with you.

Please forgive me


Also enclosed is a birth certificate card which lists her mother as Rachel Greene and no name on the father's line as well as a notation of Madeline's BC Health card number for any medical needs.

"OK...let me see if he's at home. Hang tight OK?" she picks up the phone and calls. It starts ringing.

She sees the frown, but doesn't look too concerned.  When the lady mentions making a phone call, she nods and stands where she is, waiting.

Josh Greene was finishing his morning coffee when his phone began to ring.  It's his day off ... taken to give himself a long birthday weekend.  But it's the station.  Of course.  But he's the Chief now so there really was no such thing ass a day off, technically.  He reaches for the phone and taps the icon to accept the call "Greene."  he doesn't bark, he simply speaks.

Darcy thinks on how to word it as she hears him answer "Good morning Chief. Sorry to bother you at home on your day off but I need to come by with...something....Are you home for a bit?" There was literally no way she could explain it over the phone. She looks at Madeline and then back to the other officers working and waves one of them over to take her place.

Josh hears Darcy's voice and arches his brows.  Something for him?  Maybe a misplaced present?  Not likely.  Few people, even after all these years, even knew his birthday, never mind dropped presents off at his work for him.  "Sure.  I don't have any plans today, so come on over."   he's ready to end it there, curious as to what could be going on.

Frank sees the wave and comes on over, looking at the kid.  She's overheard Darcy's side of the conversation and looks at the child curiously, as if there is something not quite right.  But she says nothing about that.  Before she can say anything, she answers the phone, taking business as usual.

Darcy gives Frank a grateful look and walks around the counter to the child. Looking down at her she says "Let's deliver this to Chief Greene OK? He lives close by....." She's hoping this kid will trust her and walk with her. She offers the letter back to Madeline as insurance that she's really offering to help.

Another lady cop joins the first, even though it takes the little girl a while to figure out it IS a lady.  But then she nods, her face still not smiling and takes the letter with n "OK."  One thing she DID know was that she should trust the police.

Darcy looks mildly relieved and gives Frank a look back that says she'll explain later before opening the door and holding it for Madeline. It's a short distance to Josh Greene's houseboat and Darcy tries to keep the walk cheerful by pointing things out that might interest her "There's a playground through there.....and we have a great ice cream shop here on the island. What's your favourite flavour of ice cream Madeline?"

Madeline walks and looks at the playground with a small smile.  She thinks about it.  "I ... don't know."  she nearly whispers.  "Ice cream is expensive."  she shrugs.  "I've never had any, so ..."  but then she stops as they pass one of the buildings with no sidewalks in sight but her eyes grow wide as she looks at the helicopter.  "Wow!"

Darcy again has to work not to react to the child's admission that ice cream was something she'd never had but then beams at her reaction to the helicopter "You like those? I like them too. Chief Greene and I both fly them. Maybe you'll get a ride someday. Best way to see the world." She doesn't call Josh her grandpa until there's confirmation from his end but she has a feeling this kid is in fact connected to him. In no time they're at his door and Darcy poises to knock, with a smile at Madeline and then does knock lightly.

Madeline's eyes grow even wider at the suggestion that she might get to go in one of these someday.  She doesn't say anything, but nods as if awed.  Arriving at a boat on the water, she looks around, clutching her little suitcase tight in her hand as Darcy knocks.  This is it.

Josh hears the knock and opens the door almost immediately.  He looks at Darcy and then looks further down.  Outright shock appears in his eyes, but is gone a second later.  His eyes move past them both, as if looking for someone else.  "This is .... what you called about?"  he asks, finishing his scan and now hiding disappointment.  "Please ... come in .. come in ..."  he backs through and gives them room to enter, taking in the girl.  "Would you like some hot chocolate?"  he addresses the child.  "It's cold outside.  Did you lose your coat?"  he looks at Darcy, a hundred unasked questions clearly written on his face.

Darcy exhales and then says gently " you want to give him..the letter?" Darcy would make a point of asking around to the other staff, particularly the ones with kids at home and try to come up with some winter clothes for Madeline, but the letter had to come first.

Madeline nods and steps in, because it IS cold to her.  "Please, sir."  her little voice is hard to hear now.  Darcy's voice makes her start a little, as she was staring up at this big man and again she nods, holding out the envelope like an offering.

Josh closes the door behind them and nods to his couch.  "Please.  Sit."  he watches the girl and reaches out, taking the envelope gently.  Looking inside he takes out the letter and other documents and pales visibly, nearly stumbling into a chair bear the couch and absently putting the documents on an ottoman while he looks at the letter, clearly reading it more than once.

Darcy looks truly compassionate. She can't even imagine how hard this all is for Josh but his reaction is the confirmation she was looking for. She steps out of her shoes and goes to the couch to sit, patting the spot beside her for Madeline in case she's unsure "Let's give him a  minute to read. Madeline, do you like to read?" She could be too young, but part of her wonders if she's read the letter herself, if she can and if she fully knows what's going on here.

Madeline ties off her little shoes, revealing worn socks, one of which has a huge hole in the toe.  Following Darcy to the couch, she hops on top of it.  When she answers Darcy, she is still staring at Josh.  "I'm still learning how."  she admits, her feet dangling.

Josh reads the letter several times and all the documents twice.  He is not known to deal with children; leaving it to other officers and now, subordinates.  Most assume he doesn't like children.  Some know his story and why he often hides behind stoicism.  Finally, he looks over at the couch.  "Well, it is nice to meet you, Madeline."  his voice rumbles, but its a kind rumble.  He pauses.  "Do you have an older brother or sister?  And where are THEY?"  he looks confused and then blinks as if he forgot something.  "Hot chocolate.  Right.  Let me make some real quick.  but while I do that, let me know, eh?"

Madeline almost smiles when the man says it is nice to meet her.  She looks a little confused by the question of a sister or brother and replies as the man also mentions hot chocolate.  "I don't have any sisters or brothers."  she tells him.  "There's only Mommy and Neo.  He moved in after Caesar moved out after ..."  she seems to consider.  "Hack."

Josh listens as he goes into the kitchen and begins to make instant hot chocolate in a soup mug.  His back is turned but he almost slams the door tot he microwave closed before hitting a button.  As the microwave does its magic, he turns back to Madeline.  "Is Hack your Daddy?"  he asks, as there is no name in the Father's Name space of the child's birth certificate.

Madeline shakes her head firmly.  "No, sir!"  she replies.  "They were always saying 'that's not my kid, you deal with her.' to Mommy."

Josh nods, slowly and is silent until the microwave beeps.  he takes out the cup and stirs.  Then he brings it to her.  "Well, THIS is DOUBLE hot chocolate."  he tells her like its a treat.  "I used to make it for your mother on Saturday mornings."  he moves to a television stand and kneels, taking out a thick DVD movie collection.  "I want to show you something else I used to show your mother.  She liked it when she was little, but they made new ones since she grew up.  "It's a show called Madeline.  You watch it and I'm going to go outside with Darcy and talk for a minute."  he puts a DVD in the player and selects Play.  "If you need me you just tap on this window and I'll come RIGHT back in, okay?"  he nod to Darcy to follow him out.

Madeline smiles and wraps her hands around the warm cup, then giggles.  "A show named after me?  Wow!"  and when he says he is going out, she looks at the window and nods.  "Ok ...."  it looks like she is considering more and at last she whispers.  "Grandpa."

Josh freezes just a second before he goes out on the bow with Darcy.  "Jesus."  he breathes.

Darcy gives Madeline a sweet look before walking out. She had really worked to fight a wince at what Madeline had said about her mother' and it probably reflected in her eyes a little. She looks worriedly at Josh as they're out "I couldn't explain over the phone. I'm sorry. How can I help you? I mean I could find her some proper clothes to start....."

Inside Madeline watches the show and drinks warm chocolate in a warm apartment on a boat.  Nothing like this had EVER happened to her before.  If this was life with her grandfather as opposed to her mother, she liked it better.  A happy/sad feeling.

Josh sighs deeply.  "Well, I guess this means my daughter is still alive."  he blows out a breath.  "Alright ..... Proper clothes are a start.  Thank you."  he considers.  "The name on the birth certificate is my daughters but the identification number is a phony .. which is probably why i couldn't ever find her."  he bites his lip.  "It's a long shot, but get Wright on finding These Hack and Neo and Caesar people.  Especially this Neo.  Those sound like Hacker names to me.  My daughter always loved computer guys.  Probably a dead end, but."  he blows out a breath.  "I'll ... get to know her, but also take her to meet Susan.  She looks thin to me.  I hope she isn't malnourished.  And .... a genetics test, if that's even possible from grandparent to grandchild.  Just to make sure."  he bites his lip.  "And I guess I'd better consider bedroom furniture for her.  My guest room isn't really set up for a seven year old."  he scoffs.  "She and I have the same birthday you know....."  he rubs at his forehead.  "And I'd love to now what happened to the baby she left here pregnant with fourteen years ago.  That letter makes it sound like it was taken by Social Services, doesn't it?"  he sounds like he almost wants her to contradict him.

Darcy listens intently "We may need more than just their code names unless Wright's some kind of hactivist nark. Do you want me to take Madeline to Susan TODAY? How about I go check in with  Sam, ask a few people about girl's clothes, and then come back to you two. I'd love to let the kid just feel safe with you while I sort details. And I think as long as you have something for her to sleep on, the rest can wait." Darcy thinks for a minute "That birth certificate Is it YOUR birthday TODAY Sir?"

Josh shrugs.  "He's pretty good with a computer."  he looks at the back of the clinic building.  "No ... Susan can wait.  No kid wants to see the doctor on their birthday."  He smiles.  "I hope she feels safe.  Man ... a grandchild." then he grins.  "Yes.  Today is my birthday.  And hers, which is more important."  he argues and reaches for his jeans pocket and his wallet.  He pulls out about 200 in cash.  "Take this and, if you have to pay for another with your own card, let me know and I will pay you back."  he is still absorbing, but cops has to take things in quickly.

Darcy takes the cash "Understood Sir. I have one frivolous request on Madeline's behalf, especially knowing it IS her birthday, and yours. She told me she's never had iced cream. I'd like to bring a tub back with me as well as the clothing. Do you have any favourites?" She smiles a bit "and Happy Birthday Chief."

Josh grins a little.  "Never had ice cream?"  he sounds amazed.  "Yes, bring back a tub.  I am partial to chocolate chip cookie dough because it was like two treats in one."  he admits.  "And thanks.  Oh, and let it be known you're now part of an investigation into a child abandonment."  he sighs and looks at the door.  "You do your thing.  I'll ... get to know my granddaughter...."  he looks a little frightened.

Darcy leaves her chief to his new family challenge and sets upon her tasks. She checks in with Sam and gives him the three names, what sound like code names really, of the men who may have lived with Rachel Greene and her daughter. She also asks him to run the other checks relating to what may have happened to the older child. She does let both Frank and Sam know what's going on and begins to ask around to the other staff with younger children about extra winter clothes or good places in town to get them. Vincent is a man sized child so anything she's bought for him just comes from places she'd shop for herself.

Denise, one of the constables, has a daughter just a little older than Madeline though and offers to let Darcy come get a box she was about to donate to Goodwill. It's chocked full of great outer wear in decent shape. There's assorted clothes for day to day wear, a winter coat, a rain jacket and a decent pair of rubber boots as well as a pair of extra sneakers. Jackpot! She does go and purchase some new socks and underwear from a place in town Denise recommends. She also grabs a hairbrush, some elastics and barrettes and a toothbrush as well as some tear free kid's shampoo.

Despite being close to Josh's place again she makes another circuit because the last two items are perishable. She picks up a small cake from Earthcakes, not using Josh's cash. This is her gift to the two of them and then get s a tub of the ice cream he requested last, and then heads back over. Darcy knocks again, this time hours later than the first time.

Josh goes inside when Darcy leaves and sits with Madeline as they watch Madeline.  They watch the show and talk.  He’s amazed they are getting along so well in a way.  But he also asks questions, but it is soon clear that the child knows very little.  She is, after all, only six.

What made Josh the saddest after having his granddaughter abandoned into his care by his daughter was that is seemed that Rachel had lost her other child.  If he believed the note, she had abandoned Madeline because she was near to losing her as well.  But at least this time … she had decided to reach out to contact her estranged father.

He’d collected Madeline shows, which he watched for nostalgia’s sake.  Usually when he was in his deepest and darkest depressions.  Now, there was light .. and watching the show with Madeline .. he found himself happy.

The show was ending and Josh was about to suggest he make lunch when the knock comes, announcing Darcy’s return.  He opens the door, a more relaxed smile on his face.  “God, what’s all THIS?”  he is surprised at how laden down she is.  He reaches for a large box that seems to be full of clothes.  “Come on in … ugh ...lets see … um … put stuff … wow what is all this?”  he’s touched.

Darcy exhales, setting more down "Denise had a lot to share. She was about to donate this box but it's all in really good shape." She hands him back probably more change than he's expecting "Here, I didn't need it all because of her. She says she still has summer stuff to go through later too." She sets a box that's very obviously a cake on the counter so it doesn't get bumped and smiles at Madeline "How was your show named after you? All those little French girls..." She jokes, remembering it a bit.

Madeline sees a lot of packages when Darcy comes back and she smiles, although not because of any of the packages.  "I love it!"  she proclaims.  "And Josh says I can call him Grandpa and I can live here.  On a BOAT!  It's better than the FERRY was.  I'd never been on a ferry before and this is so much better and I'm going to have my own room and the bed is HUGE!  Not like a couch at ALL!"  she bounces up and down on the couch, clearly more relaxed than she had been a few hours before.

Josh helps move some of the stuff around after an odd look at how much money she gives him back.  "I was about to suggest lunch.  Want something?  Hot dogs?  Hamburgers?  Peanut butter AND Jelly?  That's about where my talent in the kitchen ends."  he says to both of them.  "Madeline, you can change clothes.  Take the box into your new room and wear whatever you like."  he tells her.

Madeline's eyes grow big.  "Hamburgers?!"  clearly it's a favorite.  But then her eyes grow huge at the box of clothes.  She hops down and looks into it, as if its a bottomless put full of toys.  Picking up the sealed packages of socks and underwear, she sniffs.  "Yea ....  Thanks Darcy ....  "  she launches herself at Darcy and hugs both of her legs hard.  Then she grabs the box and drags it into her room, closing the door behind her.

Josh looks at Darcy when the door closes.  "Yea.  Thanks Darcy .. and Denise.  I think I will stop giving her a hard time."  he puts the ice cream in the freezer.  "Burger?  I only cook like three or four things, but I do them well?  I pout my burgers on Kaiser rolls...."

Darcy looks taken aback at the leg hug and then looks down at Madeline sweetly and pats her on the head before she runs off with her new box of treasures "You're welcome Sweetie."

She turns to Josh "I'd love one thanks. She's so grateful.....that's how you know she really needs this......and you Josh." She drops the formalities and addresses him person to person.

Madeline spends some time her new room looking at the clothes and setting them out on a bed that may not seem like much to an adult but is huge to her.  Tears come out of her eyes, but they are totally silent.  She tries to find something to wear, but there are quite a few options.

Josh watches her go and has a small grin on his own face as he pulls out some preformed hamburger patties and a frying pan.  He gets those started and nods.  "Yes.  Sounds like things were rough for Rachel."  he keeps his voice down.  "This is ... quite the surprise but ... It's a nice surprise.  Hopefully she is healthy .. I can also get her in the school, now that I think about it.  VanBuren is all settled in as the new principal, so ... it shouldn't be too hard on her."  he considers.  "My problem might be in child care.  A babysitter until seven at night ...  I think I can take a lot of work home with me ... give the night shift a break.  Maybe Addison O'Brian or Fiona Reinhardt."

Darcy watches Josh work and listens "Maybe Fiona and Addison could share that. I know Vincent says Fiona has some after school stuff like choir but not every night. I'm sure Addy's the same. I think the school would be a good place for her....especially without Spanner."

Josh considers.  "Does Vincent babysit?"  he wonders.  "The problem with my job ... well you know the schedule is hardly 9-5.  I'll think of something.  There's talk of a summer day camp also.  At least I know she'll make friends."  he nods to himself.

Darcy grins "I don't think Vincent want to babysit. Fiona applied at that day camp and tried to talk him into applying too....and he was a little hesitant. He likes kids, but he's not drawn to that. I'd ask the girls. I'm sure we can work it out for you and Madeline."

Josh chuckles.  "Makes sense.  I'll do that.  I'ready booked this time off ... turns out I'm going to need it getting to know her."  he sighs.  "I'm a bit out of practice entertaining a 6 year old."

Darcy laughs "Well no time like the present. Every kid is different too but she seems very easy to hang out with."

Josh nods.  "Believe it or not, her mother was a pretty easygoing kid ... until she hit puberty .. but even then she was more .. curious than anything."  he flips the burgers.  "I think her experimentation's led to a lot of her troubles.  And her mother ... wasn't the ...  best influence." he shrugs.  "Not happy as a cops wife ... or maybe just not happy with me .. or my hours."  he blows out a breath and goes into the fridge for tomatoes and lettuce.  "Water under the bridge.  God ... I finally stop looking for Rachel and ... now I have Madeline."  but he has a small smile on his face.

Darcy just nods quietly for awhile and then offers kindly "Fresh start for both of you maybe. And maybe it will bring Rachel back this way...someday. But what do we do if we...find her? Do you want to press that, given what's just happened? I mean if you back her into a  corner...."

Josh sighs as he takes out three plates.  "Maybe.  If she were to knock on that door NOW ... she'd be under arrest.  But we'll see.  Maybe is Madeline is older ... I'll let HER decide.."  he takes in a huge breath and raises his voice.  "Madeline.  Burgers are ready!"

Madeline is looking herself over.  She has changed into fresh underwear and socks as well as a pretty blue dress that is just a little too big for her.  It still looks nice .. and to Madeline's eyes ... new.  She opens the door and comes out.  "Where do we sit?"  she wonders.

Josh looks at her and nods.  "Well first, you have to tell me what you want on your burger."  he tells her nodding to a plate as he opens a Kaiser roll.  "Lettuce, tomato, pickle...."  he hums.  "Avocado?  Onions?"  well I don't have avocado, to be honest."

Madeline giggles.  "I don't even know what an avocado IS."  she tells him.  "Um ... lettuce and cheese and ... mustard, please?"

Josh grins.  "It's something some people put on burgers.  I don't get it."  he slices off  cheddar cheese.  "But cheese ... VERY good choice."  he looks at Darcy.  "And you, Darcy?"

Darcy chuckles "I love avocado. I'll get one so you can try them Madeline. You can mush them up and make guacamole. Great for corn chips. Cheese, lettuce and tomato and pickle for me please. Do you have any mayo Chief."

Josh mock rolls his eyes at Darcy as he places the cheese on the burgers and covers them to help it melt.  "I DO have mayo."  he turns and puts everyone's burgers together, opting for everything except mayo on his own.  Then he uncovers the burgers and sets them with their melted cheese on the rolls.  "Lunch is served."  he announces and brings all three plates to the table like a professional waiter.  "I worked my way through college waiting tables."  he explains nodding to a chair for Madeline to sit.

Madeline watches it all and giggles.  "I'd like to try it."  she tells Darcy and moves to the table when her grandfather nods to it.  She stares at the sandwich for a long time before she picks it up at an encouraging nod from Josh.  "Thank you."  she is able to say before taking a big bite and beginning to eat, moaning to show she likes it.

Darcy takes Josh's eye rolling with a grain of salt and looks cheerful to receive her food "Waiting tables can be brutal. I did a few rounds of that too. This looks great, thanks." She watches Madeline's reaction before she takes her first bite and giggles "Ok, kid approved. I'm in." She happily eats.

Josh watches them with a smirk.  The few things he CAN cook, he can cook WELL.  "You doubting your Chief?"  he scoffs and then takes a first bite.  After chewing and swallowing, he looks at Madeline.  "Do you have a nickname?"  he asks, half hoping to slow the child down.

Madeline shakes her head, her eyes big and her mouth full.  But she swallows and speaks.  "No.  I'm just Madeline."

Josh nods and stands, going to the fridge and taking out three sodas.  Bringing them back he sets them down and opening one for the little girl.  "I hope this is alright for you, Darcy."  he offers and looks at Madeline.  "That's so formal."  he considers.  "What about Maddie ... or Mads?"  he asks.  "Like friends, eh?"

Maddie beams and takes the pop.  "What do you think, Darcy?"  she asks, eagerly.

Darcy smiles "I had faith in your cooking but kids are always the best judges." She nods at the soda "Thank you." Listening and the looking at Madeline she says "It's you who has to like it, because nicknames stick. What do you like?" She offers back.

Josh smirks and takes a drink of his pop, then looks at Madeline.

Madeline looks between the adults and bites her lip.  Clearly she is afraid of making a 'wrong' choice.

Josh looks at her.  "She's right.  You have to pick it.  Not me." he tells her.  "Sounds like you've always been called Madeline ... but now ... pick something for me to call you, even if everyone else calls you something else.  Makes it special, between us?"

Madeline chews on her lip and looks down and then up ad her grandfather.  "Maddy?"  she whispers and raises her voice a little.  "Maddy."

Josh nods, then smiles.  "Then finish your burger, Maddy."  and he winks at her.

Maddy beams.  "Ok, Grandpa."  and she picks the burger up to finish it.

Darcy looks between them with an expression that suggests her heart is melting watching them connect. She finishes her burger too and then offers to take the plates when the others are done "I can wash up before I take off. It was lovely."

Josh clears his throat, as his own heart melts a little bit and finishes his burger.  He nods at Darcy.  "Sure, that'd be helpful.  And thank you, Darcy.  I'll see you at work in a few days."

Maddy finishes her burger and watches the adults.  The day is very happy/sad for her, but she knows she is happy.

Darcy makes short work of the dishes and leaves them to dry in the rack before saying a brief goodbye to let Josh and Maddy have their time. She leaves with a full belly and a warm feeling. This was a year for people who needed family to come together.

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