Am I A Ghost Or Real?

Everyday People

"Hey Andy!" Traci calls out to apparently officer McNally as we make our way into the police lounge.

McNally picks up her cup of coffee from the machine and turns to greet us with a "Hey."

"Hey. We didn't properly meet before, I'm detective Gail Peck." I say extending my hand for her to shake. I was never good with meeting people and socializing. But being undercover most of the time on my job has made me more perceptive to others.

A little less awkward.

If this was me five years ago, I would have simply said hey and waited for someone else to say my name, and I would never have extended a hand to be shaken.

"Andy McNally. Sorry about cuffing you and bringing you in. Traci filled me in on the situation." She says with an apologetic face.

"You didn't know. You were just doing your job, so it's fine." I shrug her apology off. "Mission still worked well." I reassure her.

"She did the same to me you know." A voice from behind me says and then Sam Swarek walks past us towards coffee machine. "She tackled me to the ground and cuffed me even though I told her she didn't want to do this." He says as he fills his cup.

"How was I supposed to know you were an undercover cop on my first day of the job?" She defends.

"I don't know." He says and takes a sip of his coffee as he meets Andy's gaze.

"And I'm guessing you two are a thing as well." I bud in and point at Sam then at Andy.

"Is it that obvious?" Andy asks with a little worry.

"No." I say simply.

"Did you bring him in?" Traci takes our conversation towards a different turn.

"Yeah, guy confessed to it all the second we got there. James just put him in the interrogation room." Just as Sam says that 'Officer James' walks in.

"He's all set." He informs Sam.

"You ready Nash?" Sam asks Traci and she just nods at him and they both walk out.

James walks towards us then greeting Andy.

"On break Andy?" He asks her.

"Just needed a coffee. Desk duty is tiring." She says as she points at her cup.

"Agreed." He then looks at me appraising me. I can tell from his gaze even though graded he was studying my reaction. I made sure to keep it neutral. Make sure he doesn't suspect me. Before he went rogue he was one of the best. Which means I had to be very careful.

"We have a new detective joining us." Andy decided to make introduction. "She came in after Parade so Best didn't get a chance to introduce her to us all. I'm sure he'll do that tomorrow." She rambles. "But anyways, Ian James, Detective Peck. Gail Peck." She says as she points at each of us when a name is mentioned.

"Bartender that got booked last week, right?" He asks squinting his eyes and pointing a little as if he is recalling every action I took while bar tending.

"Under cover mission that got complicated by someone getting killed." I shrug and hope he buys my explanation. "You remember two loud big guys in the back?" I ask and he nods in confirmation. "They were my mission." When I asked if I needed to describe my bad guy while undercover, they told me to say two big guys in the back. They did their check on a few people in the bar, after taking control of the camera footage they have. It took them a couple of days to get it all done, and when they got their answers on some people, they pointed out the most suspicious and the out of towers who came from far away. It would be more believable then. Besides, I'm sure he'll be doing his check up on me soon. I just hope the glitches and the made up story in the data base would be enough to convince him.

"They looked scary." He didn't look scared. His expressions remained the same as he said that.

"Yeah, a little." I shrug. "But I'm sure we've all faced scarier at one point." I add, hoping he'd give me something about his back story.

"Yeah, remember that big muscly guy we had to book two weeks ago? He punched you, and ran off. I had to taser him five times in order to put him down." Andy says remembering and then shuddering.

"Yeah, glad he's away." James says with a small shudder. An act, I'm sure. Jameson would outfight anyone. Even if he had a big built.

"So how long you guys been cops?" I ask in again another attempt to pry for information.

"I've been a cop for like three years and a half." Andy answers. "He's new." She says pointing at James.

"Right." He drags it out as if he was being humoring. "Actually I've been a cop for four years or so. Just transferred here from Ottawa like a couple months ago." He explains.

"Good, you've got experience on the field. I'll make sure to keep an eye out for you two on any coming cases." I say with a smile and walk out of the room.

I can't pry for too much information. It would look obvious. I need to text Marcus what I have so far and figure everything out here very patiently.

Just as I make it out the door I am met with a face I never thought would be here, and I immediately tense.

"Gail?" The police officer in front of me asks in a low voice while his face turns pale as if he's seen a ghost.

"Nick." I spit out bitterly.

"What are you doing here?" He asks with the same surprised low voice.

"I'm here to haunt you." I let sarcasm take over. "Why are you here?"

"I'm a cop." He says pointing at himself as if to say it's obvious.

"Good for you." I say as I saunter past him.

"Wait." I feel his hand catch my wrist and I snap.

I turn around and punch him in the shoulder and he lets me go to reach up and rub where my knuckles made contact. I'm not sure if that was a good move or not, but I couldn't stand being touched by him.

"You do not touch me. Ever." I say sternly through clenched teeth.

"You still punch as hard." He tries to muse and lighten the mood.

"If you try and touch me again, it'll be harder." I threaten.

"Gail." He tries to plead. "Can we talk?"

"Not interested."

"Please." He pleads more. "It's been five years Gail."

"I know exactly how long it's been. But I have nothing to say to you, and I am not interested in what you have to say." I say. "If it's not work related, you don't address me."

"Work related? You're joining the police?" He asks me. He must think I'm just about to join, and become the newest Rookie.

"Something like that." I scoff.

"Collins." Steve says his name just as bitterly as I did.

"Detective Peck." Nick greets surprised at the tone in Steve's voice at first. And then realization hits his face. He realized I must have told Steve what happened between us.

"Are you annoying Detective Peck here?" Steve says with a nod towards me which Nick didn't catch. He looked at Steve confusedly. As if he was speaking a foreign language.

He must think Steve was referring to himself.

"Keep it together Nick." I say as I pat him roughly on the same shoulder I punched. "Keep up with the program. I'm your newest Homicide Detective." I say and pretend to swipe dust off his shoulder before I walk away with Steve right on my trail.

I'm sure after being away this long, he wouldn't want to leave my side. I make it back into the detective's offices and plump down on my seat. I take out my phone and text Marcus what information I've gotten as Steve takes a seat himself.

"Are you okay?" He asks me worried.

"Contrary to belief, I am. I am way over him. Seeing him doesn't hurt me, just irritates me." I confess. "I just can't believe I was about to marry him." I say as I scrunch my face in disbelieve.

"Yeah, I can't believe it either." Steve agrees. "I just want to break his nose for what he did."

"Let it go. I did." I say as I finish texting and put my phone away.

"So where are you staying?" Steve asks all of a sudden. "I have a spare room in my apartment if you want. You can crash there. Or…" He trails off worried about me.

"Don't worry Steve. I've actually already taken care of that. I've got a small two story house all to myself." I smile at him. "You should come check it out soon."

"I will." He nods.

Just then his phone rings. Once he reads the name on the caller I.D he looks at me with worry and I know exactly who's calling. Our mother.

"Hello mom." He answers it.

I could hear her voice, muffled and barely understandable. But it sounded loud and worried.

"Yes, she's really here. I'm sitting with her right now."

She gives him an answer and then He just looks at his phone confused.

"She hung up on me." He explains the sudden silence of his phone. "Bad news is though, she's coming here now." He tells me.

"Shit!" I was meant to say it in my head but it comes out loud.

-------------------------------------------

"Mom." Steve says cutting off my sentence and stands up.

We've been sitting in the detective's offices for the past 30 minutes, just talking. He was filling me in on a few things I've missed.

I was in the middle of asking him about what happened to the last girlfriend he had before I left, when he stands up abruptly.

I was sitting with my back to the door, so I wasn't prepared for my mother's arrival, even though I knew it was coming.

I take a deep breath, preparing myself for the slaughter that was to come. Once I calm my heart rate enough, I turn my chair around and end up being met with my mother's face.

The expressions on her face were a bit unreadable. They kept changing from determined, to anger, to sadness, to hope, to I don't know what.

Her silence and change of expression was adding to my fear.

She stood there appraising me in silence and I had no idea what was going through her head.

I was ready for the yelling, not for the silence and the quiet was making me very wary.

My fear dissipates a little when a lone tear makes it's way down my mother's right cheek and she immediately wipes it away.

Right, Pecks don't cry.

"Mom." I stand up and take a step closer to her.

"Oh, Gail." She says, almost sobs, and suddenly I am being hugged by my mother. What's with all the hugging? My family was never one for hugging. Why is everyone smothering me with their arms today?

I was too shocked by the hug to do anything. I stood there surprised and mind racing. My mother was hugging me. She wasn't yelling, she wasn't scolding, she was hugging me.

"You're back. You're okay." Her voice shakes and her grip tightens.

I can't help at that moment but to lift my arms and hug her back.

I feel like I'm ten again. That was probably the last time my mother hugged me this tight.

She comes home one night from work and she simply hugs me as I greet her at the door. She hugs me so tight that I felt like I would break in her arms. I remember later on, finding out that she had the worst day. That an eleven year old girl's body was found and that my mother was working her case. That was all they would tell me, but as I grew up, I knew there was much worse to the story. So my mom just hugs me as tight as she can when she sees me. As if me being there, her seeing me, reassured her that I was fine. The case must have gotten to her. Who wouldn't feel bad, sad and angry after finding a dead young person's body?

Somehow this situation felt similar.

Somehow she needed to be reassured that I was here. That everything was okay.

"I'm so sorry mom." I apologize for everything. For going away, for not coming back, for joining the intelligence department, for being silent for five years, and for coming back. And I am already apologizing for having to leave sometime again. I try to say it all in those words.

"You're here." She says again as she lets me go and looks me over.

"I'm here." I nod.

"Glad you're back. Detective Peck." She says in a steadier voice.

Of course she was happy I was a detective. If I'd come back same as I left, I'd be getting questioned and yelled at this moment, when her shock of me being here wears off.

"It's good you made detective. I just wish you would've let us help. Or came home once in a while." She squeezes my arm gently as she looks at me with a little hurt.

"I'm so sorry mom. I just didn't know how to face everyone. And I wanted to prove myself. I was just too hurt to come back and wanted it all to go away." I confess.

"Well don't let it happen again. We Pecks don't run." And here it was, the jab I was waiting for.

Just like that she straightens her clothes and her calm, confident face that she's always worn is back.

"Your father will be back to town in two days. I expect you for dinner then." She informs more than she asks. "You too Steven." She points at the silent Steve as she turns around to walk out. "Bring Traci and Leo with you." She adds as she lifts her hand up to wave right before she exits through the door.

I exhale in relief the second she's out of sight. This may have gone well, but that's only because of her shock of seeing me. I'm sure our next meeting will go anything but smoothly.

"Well that was short." Steve breathes with me.

"What just happened?" I say with apparent fear in my voice. My mother letting go and being sweet is scary. After her calm, there is always a storm.

"I have no idea." Steve says, and I'm sure he is now sharing the same thoughts as me.


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