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Characters: Cpl. Reece Trahern

In the middle of the station’s night, Reece slid onto the piano bench with a long sigh. It wasn’t his – Earhart’s owner let him play any time he wanted, in exchange for taking a few requests during peak times. But he hadn’t done any playing in weeks.

He sighed again, and caressed the keys a moment before letting his fingers decide for him. Here was his training, his soul, and still his comfort, even if he had not taken it for a career, at least not yet. A nocturne, he mused. How appropriate.


Almost two weeks before, a terrified girl had appeared on his doorstep, clutching cousin Megs’ prayerbook, accompanied by a silent older Ranger. The girl, it turned out, was his cousin Elora, Megs’ sister Cary’s girl. He’d thought them both dead, but it still sickened him to think how. All that mattered was she was family, and she needed him. No one else would — or could — take her. Megs couldn’t, as evidenced by Elora’s escort, and old Uncle Iago had his wife to consider. No one else even admitted they still existed.


Without realizing, he slipped into another piece, from memory. It hadn’t been an easy time yet, and wasn’t likely to be anytime soon. The girl had developed an almost irrational fear of being left again, and of other people. More than once he’d gotten a call at work, from her in a panic, making sure nothing had happened to him, and he’d be back when he promised. And she wouldn’t be around anyone else, not even Billy, who’d been a family friend since before she was born, and she knew.

Well, that wasn’t quite true. He’d been able to slip out while she was asleep, with his sergeant sitting up in case she woke. ‘Rana terrified her less than most, for some reason.

He needed the break desperately. After all, he was barely old enough to be responsible for himself, never even had the opportunity to create another life with someone else, and here he was playing both mother and father to a scared, emotionally damaged little girl. Just in the short amount of time she’d been with him, he’d been nearly overwhelmed more than once. How was one supposed to deal with this?

He played until the night shift started to filter in, duties finished. He closed the lid quietly, then stood to slip out. Eyes met his, above a warm smile. Before he saw any more, he turned and hurried out. He didn’t have time.

(c) 1999 Leslie McBride. All rights reserved.

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