A Bright Light Is Gone

Suisan "Sue" R.

29 December 1999

The news struck like a lightning bolt from a clear blue sky. It was just last week he had talked with her, joking over the latest episode of a really, well, interesting cop show they both enjoyed. Now, she was gone. A bright flame snuffed out at far too young an age. Gone from the world, but never forgotten. Not as long as there were folks out there that read her works, had enjoyed her bright personality, her sparkling wit, her courage in the face of the illness that had, eventually, claimed her.

The doctors still don't know what had happened, nor even why. She'd been responding so well to the Chemotherapy, or so everyone thought. But in less than a week, she was gone, leaving behind a large group of friends and family who were still in shock.

 

How well she had hidden her illness, not wanting to concern anyone and not wanting their pity. But, the young man reflected, that was just how she was.

 

The friend that he'd met on line, as part of a writer's group.

 

Blair Sandburg sat at his desk, staring at the computer screen and all the messages that had piled up in his private email account over the past two days. Glancing over them, a faint smile crossed his face. So many people from the writer's group had sent in heartfelt condolences, and offered up prayers for the young woman who had graced their presence with her carefully crafted stories. Yes, Lucy was gone, but she'd never be forgotten. As long as there was one person out there who remembered her, she'd live forever -- in their hearts.

 

Glancing over at the other member of Major Crimes that was a "lurker" in the same writer's group, Blair noticed the detective surreptitiously wipe a tear away from his face. Looking up at his partner, who had his head buried in the case file he was going over, he decided to take a little break. Detouring by the obviously upset detective, "Hey, looks like you could use a break. Come on."

 

Realizing that the Observer wasn't going to take no for an answer, the detective followed him into the deserted break room. Which was good, he didn't think he could face anyone right now. He was having a hard enough time keeping his mind on the Job. And the weather today wasn't helping. Gloomy, rainy and down right depressing. He only hoped that the weather in California was better.

 

Blair walked over to the huge coffee pot and pour himself and his fellow writer a cupful, then carried it over to the table where the detective had sank into a chair. "Rafe? Here." He placed the Styrofoam cup on the table then sat in the chair next to the man.

 

"Thanks." Rafe's voice sounded a little rusty, even to his own ears, and he took a sip of the hot liquid to ease the pain in his constricting throat.

 

"How are you doing? Any better since last night when we talked?"

 

"A little. It still hasn't really sunk in. That she's gone, you know?"

 

Carefully taking his own sip of the potent brew, Blair nodded. "It's normal, Rafe. Denial is all part of the grieving cycle. I'm still trying to cope with it myself."

 

The silence in the breakroom stretched out for long minutes as both men were lost in their thoughts. A few people wandered in to grab cokes, coffee or a snack from the vending machine, then sensing the atmosphere in the room, left.

 

"Funeral was today." Rafe tried to keep his voice from breaking, to hold back the tears that threatened to spill from his eyes. Then gave up, no longer caring who saw him like this. He dropped his head onto the table, resting the weight on his forearms and let the flood gates open.

 

Compassion moved him, Blair scooted closer to the sobbing figure, arm going around him in a one armed hug. Comforting, trying to ease the pain that was affecting the detective and in doing so, eased his own. As he held the shaking body in his embrace, he felt his own tears slowly fall down his face. Cleansing tears, chasing away the grief that would always linger, but lessening the pain with each drop that fell onto the shoulder below his face.

 

He wasn't sure how long he sat there, huddled over and bawling, Blair's arm around him as the young man also cried in their shared grief. Finally, he raised his head up to look at his fellow writer. "Thanks, Blair."

 

Wiping tears from his face, he managed a wane smile. "Feeling any better?"

 

"A little."

 

"Good. You know, I think there is a way we both can honor our lost ListSib..."

 

"How?"

 

"We need to write a story, a snippet or a poem to let everyone know just how much she meant to us."

 

Rafe sat back in the chair, sipping on his now cold coffee. "You know, that might just work. Sort of a literary wake. Sharing thoughts or stories that come to us in the middle of the night, stuff that she would've like."

 

Blair nodded, "Yeah, that's what I had in mind." Standing up, he returned to the coffee pot and poured another cup for himself then turned back to his friend. "In fact, I've got my first effort done, care to beta-read it for me?"

 

Taking a glance at his watch, the detective nodded. "Sure, but send it to my private email account. I'll look over it when I get home tonight."

 

"Hot date?"

 

Rafe Van Rij shook his head, chuckling a little for the first time in days. "No, not tonight. Henri and I have a suspect interview to attend to then I'm going to hole up in my apartment and work on my offering for our ListSib."

 

Blair was about to respond to that, but Jim Ellison and Henri Brown burst into the room before he could open his mouth.

 

"Sandburg, Rafe, let's go..."

 

"Where? What's up, H?"

 

Henri Brown shook his head, "You ain't gonna like it, Rafe. Our suspect? He's holed up in a warehouse on the piers and refusing to talk to anyone but you or Hairboy for some strange reason."

 

"Oh, that's just great! Man, help you two out once, and now I'm being pulled into your cases!" Blair groused as he followed the three detectives out of the breakroom, his coffee forgotten on the table. After a quick stop to grab jackets from the bullpen, the four men left.

 

Inside the classic blue and white truck, Jim handed over a file that he managed to snag off his desk in the rush to leave Major Crimes. "Chief? You almost forgot this." He pulled the truck out into traffic behind Brown's car.

 

Flipping the file open, Blair was relieved to see the short story he'd printed up earlier. "Thanks, Jim. Did you have a chance to read it?"

 

Keeping both eyes on the road, his hands on the wheel as he pushed the accelerator to the floor in an effort to catch up to Brown's dark blue Chevy Caprice, Jim nodded. "Yeah, I think Lucy would've like it. How's Rafe holding up?"

 

"I think he'll be okay. Just don't let on that you know he's a part of the group, will you?"

 

Smiling as he slid the truck through a fishtail, "Okay, just so long as you do the same for me and Henri."

 

Blair clutched the dashboard as Jim slid to a stop in front of the warehouse where the suspect had holed up, his jaw dropping open in shock. "Brown's part of the list?"

 

"Yeah, but I'm not going to tell you what his SN is. You'll just have to figure that one out for yourself. Like you did Rafe."

 

"Ooh, a mystery! Hmm, Rafe is "redjockey" and you're "bluefire"..."

 

"And you're "moptopp69" -- drop it, we have a job to do..."

 

They climbed out of the truck, joining the other detectives as they talked to the sergeant in charge of the scene. For now, the grief of four men, over the loss of a friend they had never really known, was pushed aside. Life goes on, and in Cascade, that meant that there were criminals to catch and put away. And when that job was done for the day, there would be four short stories appearing at the writer's group. As soon as they found the time to write.

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