“First day on the job, kid?”
The Rookie flinches. He looks up hurriedly and meets the eyes of an older man; probably in his late thirties, the Rookie surmises, if the crow’s feet around his eyes are any indication. He’s dressed in an old but clean suit and tie, the fabric worn and well-cared for. He has a head full of salt and pepper hair, and the expression in his eyes are warm if not a little amused. The Rookie belatedly realises he hasn’t given the man an answer.
“Uh, yes! Yes, sir! I just transferred from the Academy so yes, this is my first day.” He’s babbling again. Dear god why does he keep on babbling. The other man looks entertained.
“If you’re new then I guess you’ll be working with me. Welcome to the force.” He holds out his hand for the Rookie to shake, which he does. His handshake is firm. “Now get your things and let’s go. Murder waits for no one.”
The Detective, the Rookie later learns over cookies shared with the receptionist, has been a near indispensable part of the homicide unit for nearly seventeen years and single for almost as long. There was a girlfriend once, the Receptionist whispers furtively after glancing around as if he’s trading state secrets instead of office gossip, but she broke up with him when he slept at the station for three weeks while working on a serial killing case. That’s not to say he doesn’t have his fair share of admirers, because he does; the Receptionist gleefully regales the Rookie with tales of hundreds rose bouquets at the front desk every Valentine’s and bashful visits from witnesses days after cases have been closed. The Receptionist is exaggerating, the Rookie knows, but he can see why the Detective would be popular. He’s brusque but kind and he doesn’t snap at possible witnesses like he’s seen other detectives do. He didn’t make fun of the Rookie after the Rookie had to ask him to stop the car and stumbled to the side of the road to vomit after his first crime scene, instead offering him a bottle of water and a pat on the shoulder. “It won’t get easier,” he’d said, but there was no hard-boiled machismo in his tone. No unsaid so suck it up tacking its way to the end. Just a sort of resigned acceptance, that this job is unforgiving, and seeing the mangled cruelty of death’s personification will never come easy.
Under the harsh lights of the station, the Receptionist wonders wistfully why the Detective is still single, and the Rookie finds himself wondering the same.