Unkindest Cut of All

Chapter 20

Casey headed back to Walsh's diner after she finally left the hospital. She hated to leave him, but she knew that she had to find proof of Cole's past in order to bring him down and she only had a small window to do it. Even with the evidence, it would take a lot of convincing to get IA to believe them, but without it, they wouldn't stand a chance.

When she pulled up and parked where Walsh usually did, she slowly got out and began to walk toward the diner, but stopped as she stood where she, Walsh, and Alvarez had been attacked hours ago. The crime scene tape was still up, even though the techs had already come and gone to gather the evidence, and the blood stains that would no doubt remain there for good as a reminder of this morning's tragedy were still bright red as it slowly continued to seep deep into the pavement. Casey always considered herself to be a tough girl and not afraid to do anything when it came to the job, but anyone, who says that being shot at wasn't something to be scared of, is either a fool or a liar.

After a few minutes, Casey finally pushed the fearful memories down and walked inside her partner's diner in order to begin her search for the files he had stashed away. She knew that Walsh would never have put the files inside his locker at work, as many of the cops and detectives liked to pull pranks on each other from time to time, such as the number of times they have filled up Alvarez's locker with styrofoam peanuts. So, Casey figured that the files must be at the one place he felt the most comfortable, unless he had another secret place in fear of Beaumont going through his things, which if that was the case, Casey was in big trouble.

The rookie of the precinct, truly felt like a rookie as she went through Walsh's things for over an hour, but worst of all, Casey hated doing it as she felt she was invading her partner's privacy. However, she knew he'd understand, just as she would if their roles were reversed. It was what partner's did to protect each other from ridicule should something ever happen to them. This was the first thing Walsh had taught her as he went through his previous' partner's locker in order to take away the embarrassing things that would have no doubt hurt his wife had any of the other officers seen them.

It was then that a thought suddenly came to her thanks to this memory, as well as the memory of another conversation that had come up the next day, as Casey had asked Walsh if there was anything he would want her to take and hide from the others should anything ever happen to him. He didn't answer the question until much later, but she had told him that if anything ever happened to her, she would want him to take her sex diary she had written out from the lock box, which she hid on the top shelf of her closet. Casey quickly looked up on the shelf and found that Walsh had a lock box of his own.

When she pulled it down, she found that it was locked, but on top of it was a sticky note with a message written for her saying, "Casey, In case of a rainy day. Who knew this was a perfect place to hide what you don't want anyone else to see until the time's right. Thanks for the tip. You'll find the key hidden inside what I earned fair and square. Just be sure not to drink the milk too fast, and it'll be yours."

Casey smiled as she set the lock box down on her partner's bed and then moved to the head as she picked up the trophy from one of the shelves that he had won in a milk drinking contest back when he was a rookie himself. The message wouldn't have made sense to anyone else, who read it should they have found the box, but it made perfect sense to her. When she removed the key from the trophy and then used it to open the box, the only thing she found inside was exactly what she was expecting there to be inside; the one thing she had been looking for; proof that Henry Cole was Navan Granger.

An hour and a half later…

Both Sergeant Brown and Detective Alvarez walked into the hospital and made their way up to Walsh's room, where Casey told them she'd be waiting for them when she called their boss after she had finished her search. The two men sadly looked down at the wounded detective and their friend as they entered, then looked over at Casey, who was sitting in a chair beside his bed.

"How is he doing?" the sergeant asked solemnly. "Are the doctors optimistic?"

"They're not, but I am," Casey answered. "He's holding on, considering all he's been through. I think if he was going to die, he would have back when his heart stopped. Besides, I gave him something to make him reconsider."

Brown smiled as he responded, "I knew you were the right partner for him. Now, did you find what we need?"

Casey pulled out a folder from inside her jacket and handed it up to their boss while she continued to sit at her partner's bedside, then replied, "It took a while, but surprisingly, I found it sooner than I expected to. I just needed to know where to look. Navan Granger and Henry Cole are the same man, Sir. You can see it from the picture. All you have to do now is connect him to Kowalski's death and now the attempt on Walsh. I don't think he was directly involved in either, but…"

"I'll be dammed, I can't believe you're right," Sergeant interrupted as he stared down at the picture and quickly scanned over his rap sheet and the rest of the information Walsh had gathered on him. "Do you have idea how we're going to connect all this for IA?"

"Walsh explained to me a little that will give us a start, but he didn't want to involve me in his problem," Casey answered as she stood. "He wanted to believe in Cole, Sir. He didn't want to ruin his career if he really was a changed man."

It was then that Beaumont suddenly spoke up after listening outside the door to most of the conversation saying, "You're all wrong about Cole. He's not a criminal. He wasn't involved in what happened to Kowalski and is certainly not involved in what happened to Walsh. How dare you turn on him."

Beaumont was about to storm out, until Casey grabbed her by the arm in order to turn her around to face her as she quickly said, "Allison, we didn't mean for you to find out about your partner this way, but I'm afraid that he is involved. We don't know how much, but…"

"It's impossible!" Beaumont replied angrily. "He's the sweetest and best man I know."

"You mean aside from Jason?" Casey quickly retorted. "For crying out loud, Allison, you're with Walsh and though you say that you're not sure if you love him or not, you have made it perfectly clear to the rest of us, including Jason, that the one you do love is Cole. But he's not the man you think he is. You just don't want to hear it. You want to know why Walsh has been so distant lately? It's because of all of this. He let Cole go because he was trying to protect you. He cares for…"

Beaumont stopped her before she could go any further and then responded, "When Walsh wakes up, if he wakes up, you can tell him he can go to hell. If he cared about me at all, he should have told me what was going on. Cole isn't a dirty cop and even if he was someone else once, he isn't that man now."

She turned and was about to walk away again until Sergeant Brown suddenly called out to her, "Detective Beaumont, you are not to tell your partner anything about our conversation or that we know of his involvement in the attempt on Walsh's life. If you do, you will lose your badge. Do I make myself clear?"

She only nodded and then finally walked out of the room. Casey, Alvarez, and Sergeant only stared at her as she stormed away. Casey had to fight back the urge she suddenly felt to smack Beaumont upside the head in order to make her see reason. She couldn't believe the woman's sudden hostility against Walsh, nor that after all he has done for her over the years that she could turn her back on him just like that.

"Wow that was harsh," Eddie spoke up saying.

"But she was right… about one thing," Walsh suddenly said softly as everyone quickly turned around and looked down at him in surprise, as they found him looking up at them groggily.

Casey cried out, "You're awake! Thank God you're awake and you heard all that… oh Walsh, I'm so sorry."

Jason closed his eyes as pain flared up again, but then reopened his eyes and looked at his partner as he answered, "Don't be. I should have told her."

"No, you were right not to," their boss replied firmly. "We will figure all this out, but I want you to relax and work on getting yourself well. You have a long recovery ahead of you still."

"How are you feeling; really?" Eddie asked.

Walsh attempted to remove the tube from under his nose as he closed his eyes again and weakly responded, "Everything hur… hurts."

He slowly lost consciousness again as Casey said sadly, "Which is why these tubes are in place to help you. Now, let them do their job and we'll do ours. We'll end this."

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