Disclaimer: The Sentinel and its characters are completely the property of Paramount and Pet Fly Productions. I use them out of reverence, solely for fun and not for profit.

Rating: R (for language)

Warnings: This story has a high angst factor.

Author's Notes: An angsty Valentine's Day story for Lucy Rafebabe.


Toast
by
Ismaro

ligela@sympatico.ca

 

I know I promised last year to tell you about this, and I probably should have before, but, Chief, it's... intimate and at the first I didn't know you well enough to talk about him with you, and I know it's long overdue now. So here goes, at last.

Valentine's Day is always hard for Rafe. Strike 'hard'. It's more like unbearable.

They met by accident. Bumped into each other in Gionofrio's. Rafe was buying a couple of silk suits, he's got a trust fund, not parents, lonely for him, you know?

Anyway, he's got a couple of suits out and as the manager of the store -- Rafe always gets good service, right? -- as the guy takes him to the cash to ring the sale up, there's this beautiful Latino girl, all long black shining hair and flashing black eyes, taking no lip from the salesclerk, who's refusing to refund the money for a silk suit the girl's returning.

Rafe watches a while, the manager's getting impatient, and the girl is getting angrier and angrier. There's nothing wrong with the suit and she's got the receipt. She just wants her money back, don't know why, or didn't then. But Rafe's enjoying the scene, and the way the girl stood up for herself.

So the manager loses patience and is blowing the girl off, when Rafe decides she needs a little help. Intervenes, with that blazing smile of his, and makes it clear that the store policy of 'Return for full refund' isn't just ink on paper, at least not where he's standing.

Since he's standing in front of a couple of thousand dollar suits (each) the manager folds, the girl gets her money back and Rafe gets a date.

Jacinta Montiago. A student at Rainier, studying education or something. About twenty-three, then. Rafe was still a uniform, young himself. Geez, they were pretty together, Chief. And so much in love.

Anyway, she's living in student housing, barely surviving, and Rafe knows she needed to return the suit so she could eat for the next few months. Silk's not that appetising. Yeah, okay, I'll stop with the bad jokes. It, it, it's kinda hard to tell, that's all.

Huh? Oh, lost in thought. I do indulge in that sometimes. Ow! Shit! Okay, okay, where was I?

Yeah, well, Rafe didn't think to ask about how she got the suit, he was too much in love to care. So was she. They just shone with it, Chief. Two months later, she's moved into his place over on Champlain, and two months after that, he's gonna be a daddy.

You've never seen anyone so happy in your life, Chief. Rafe, he'd been lonely too long. Jacinta was his heart and the baby was his soul. We saw her daily, pretty much, and watched as her belly grew and touched when the baby kicked and I never saw Simon so mellow as when Jacinta came by. They'd always come by Major Crimes to see Simon. He was kinda like a father figure to Rafe. Simon's got a lot of hidden depths to him, and Rafe, with both his parents dead in an earthquake in Mexico when they were on vacation and he was only ten -- well, Simon thought a lot of Rafe and Jacinta both.

It happened when she was eight months pregnant. No, not a problem birth at all, Chief. She was in a car accident. Hit from behind. It was a set-up, but that part of it can wait.

She was thrown into the windshield, hit her head, and her abdomen impacted the steering wheel. She was rushed to Cascade General, and they did an immediate delivery for both their sakes, mother and child. It was good. Jacinta bore a beautiful little baby girl, so beautiful. Geez, Chief, is there anything more beautiful than a healthy newborn? I can't think of anything, myself. We were crowding around outside, looking through the window at the hospital at the newborns, me and Simon and Brown and Captain Dunbar, Rafe's captain then. She was a beautiful child.

Rafe? Well, that's the sad part. See, as soon as they knew it was Jacinta, the bulletin went out for Rafe and he arrived at the hospital just in time to see the baby go into the neonatal ICU. Healthy, sure, but the baby needed to be monitored and stuff, I guess. They'd picked out the name already. Dolores Hope. Dolores for Jacinta's mom and Hope for Rafe's.

He's telling the nurse at the station what the baby's name is, Dolores Hope Montiago-van Rijn, when there's this voice behind him that steam-rollers right over him.

"My daughter's baby is Carlotta Anuncionnata Teresa Montiago da Costa," this older guy says, and we all turn to face him, outraged.

Damn if it isn't old Carlos da Costa himself. Yeah, that's right. The crime czar. Or whatever the Latino equivalent is, hidalgo, or something. Rafe hooked up with his daughter. Jacinta Anna Maria Montiago da Costa. She was trying to break from her father, once she found out what he was. Took the suit back because he'd paid for it, and she needed the money. Never worn it. No heart, once she realised how many people's sorrow had paid for the thing. Scrap of fabric, and people died to buy it. No wonder she couldn't wear it, huh, Sandburg?

Jacinta? Yeah, well, I wish I could tell you that she woke up and told everyone that Rafe was her man and her father had no right, no right at all, but it's not what happened.

No, no, she didn't cave, Chief. It was worse than that.

Jacinta woke up, but when she did... she didn't remember. Didn't remember Rafe, didn't remember Rainier, didn't remember leaving her father, didn't remember she was pregnant, nothing. Amnesia, and it went back over about two years of her life. Permanent, we were all told. Don't know if it's true, 'cause da Costa could have bought off all the shrinks in the U.S.A., but it was worse than that.

Jacinta took one look at Rafe, another at Dolores, and became hysterical. She couldn't remember him, so in her mind, he was a rapist. She was crying, screaming, the baby in synch with her, I've never seen such an awful sight, and I've seen a lot in my time.

Sorry, lost in thought again. Rafe, he couldn't take it. Jacinta was truly frightened of him. Da Costa made a bunch of threats about him, but really, all he wanted was for Rafe to back off. Rafe would never have done it, but for Jacinta being terrified. She was, Chief. That head injury -- man, it just fucked her up totally.

They had some kind of showdown, Da Costa and Rafe, in the hospital, out of earshot, so this is kinda what I found out later from Rafe. I didn't have my senses back then, so I couldn't hear. Plus Brown, who'd been Rafe's friend for years, was swearing a blue streak, and wanted to take on da Costa's chauffeur, a goon called Valdez. We had to hold him back, Simon and I. Valdez never knew how close he came to being dead in the corridor.

He'd caused the car accident, you see. It was part of da Costa's plan to get his daughter back. All the time he'd been working her over, while Rafe wasn't around. Phone calls, letters, notes, threats, 'accidental meetings', pretty much stalking her. None of us knew it. Jacinta never told us. It was da Costa who told Rafe, in that showdown. Da Costa was gloating. All he'd intended was to shake Jacinta up a little. Show her what could happen to Rafe if she didn't fall back in line.

Instead, he got his baby girl back, the one who didn't know what a monster he was, plus Dolores too. Give the devil his credit, da Costa truly seemed delighted with Dolores, or Carlotta as he called her. In that showdown, da Costa threatened Rafe with all kinds of things, including making Jacinta's and Carlotta's lives hell, if he didn't walk away for good, no crap about paternity suits. Rafe believed him. He also believed da Costa when he said he'd keep both of them, mother and child, shielded from his 'business' dealings.

Rafe had looked into Jacinta's eyes, when she was screaming with fear at him. He broke then, Chief. I've never been more sorry for a guy than I was for Rafe. He had to turn his back on the woman he loved and his little baby girl and walk away, for all their sakes.

God, he's got guts.

He went to counselling. The shrink said it might be that Jacinta was trying to shield him from her father, that the amnesia was psychological, but real. It's probably true, but still...

So that's why I don't date on Valentine's Day, Chief. Me and Rafe, we go out to Tooney's Bar and get good and drunk. Simon picks us up and brings us home and that's that. The next day we both have off, and then we go back to work on February 16. We just kinda wipe February 14 and 15 off the calendar.

Huh? Yeah, Chief. I think he'd like it if you came this year. Yeah, I'm pretty sure he would. God knows I would. But Simon's the designated driver and always will be, as long as Rafe needs him.

I think Rafe's gonna need us all for a long, long time. Want another beer? There's just time before we've got to go to Tooney's.

I'm glad you're gonna be there this year, Chief. To Rafe and bone-deep courage and lost loves.

Clink.

~ End ~


E-Mail Ismaro at ligela@sympatico.ca
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Page last updated 8/15/03.