Jonathen Drowe was a detective at the Millesville County Police Station. Or at least he had been. He absent-mindedly rolled his shoulder which was still stiff and sore from where he'd been shot on his last case. Now he was stuck on medical leave and didn't know when he'd be getting back into service. A month, if he was lucky, but more if the psychologists had anything to say about it.
Jon was never a man who liked sitting by. He had joined the force because he wanted to protect people. He wanted to be back out there now, protecting innocents. But at the same time, he wasn't so sure. His nights were plagued with nightmares and he often wondered about the people he'd put away bars, or the few that he'd killed when they left him no other option.
The station had gotten a call from a neighbor. She had heard loud noises and screams from next door. The police hadn't arrived in time, the couple had been dead, shot to death and staining the kitchen floor. Jon had seen lots of things like this before and had quickly scanned the room for the gun, but he didn't find one. As a crew of men worked on cleanup, Jon and some of the others had continued to explore the rest of the house. Jon had went upstairs.
He found a locked door and knocked loudly, hoping to receive an answer. He shouted that it was the police, but nobody replied. He kicked the door in and saw a boy sitting on a bed inside. The room was a dark color and the lights were off.
"Detective Drowe of the Millesville Police," Jon had announced, "I'm sorry, son, but you're going to have to come with me."
The boy had looked up at him with dark, hollow eyes that sent a shiver down Jon's back. Jon had brought his gun back up by instinct as the boy slowly stood. His sharp eyes had picked out the gun glinting in the boy's hand as it was pointed at him.
"Calm down," Jon had been sweating, nervous, he hated cases that involved kids, "Just put the gun down, son."
But the boy didn't make a move to obey and Jon could hear backup on the stairs. He could see tears coursing down the boy's face.
"Do you know, Mr. Detective?" The boy had asked, his voice cracking as he spoke, "Do you know that I killed them?"
"Son, calm down. Put the gun down."
"I killed them and you'll put me in jail."
"Calm down, just calm down..."
"I'm not going to jail," the boy turned the gun on himself and Jon rushed him. He succeeded in knocking him backwards, but the gun fired, deafening in the detective’s ear, and a second later Jon had felt the searing pain in his shoulder. With a gasp he had fallen back from the boy, and the boy was staring at him with wide, tear-filled eyes. Jon hated it when the kids were involved.
Backup had finally arrived in the doorway, their flashlights marking the teenage boy's face. "Put the gun down, son," Jon had advised, but the boy didn't listen. He turned his gun on backup.
The man was a rookie, he hadn't been on half a dozen cases. He went pale and sweat beaded on his forehead every time he saw a dead body. He would never work as a cop again. He fired his gun.
It was in self-defense, there were plenty of witnesses to that. But the rookie hadn't killed before, and to have your first time be a teenage boy... It was no wonder he'd never hold a gun again. Jon blamed himself. He should have handled the situation better. More efficiently. The rookie blamed himself. He'd committed suicide less than 72 hours later. Jon blamed himself for that, too.
He stared down at the road as he walked, caught up in memories. That had been three weeks ago now. He was seeing a doctor regularly. Not a physician. He was supposed to be measuring Jon's psyche. See if he was fit to go back to work in two weeks. Jon really wasn't sure if he was.
Jon walked down towards the river, away from the town. He liked to sit at the river and think. He used to go there with his brother when they were kids. The river had taken his brother and he always felt closer to him when he came here.
He was almost to the river bank before he noticed it. There was a boy sitting beside the river already, leaning over the bank and looking into the cold, rushing water. It was November and the river had bits of ice and snow rushing along with the water. It was cold out and the boy wasn't wearing a jacket. Jon was wearing his coat.
He took it off and walked over to the boy, draping it over his shoulders. The boy looked up at him in surprise and Jon offered him a weak smile. The boy's face was pale, so pale he looked as white as the snow around him. His lips were purple from the cold. It contrasted starkly with his short black hair and dark eyes. The boy looked back at the water.
Jon settled himself down next to the boy. He didn't recognize him and wondered where his parents were. Why was he outside in the middle of November without a jacket? Had he run away from home? Jon had been on the case of a lot of runaways.
"I haven't seen you around here before," Jon said at length.
The boy looked at him again and his dark eyes reminded Jon eerily of the hollow eyes of the teenage killer. Everything reminded him of that boy nowadays.
"I haven't been around here before." The boy said, eyes turning back to the water.
"Where are you from?" Jon asked.
"I came from up the river," the boy replied.
"What about your parents?" Jon asked.
"They're dead," the boy answered.
"I'm sorry to hear that," Jon said.
The boy made no reply.
At length Jon stood and looked down at the boy again, "Look, my name is Jonathen Drowe. Why don't you come home with me and get warmed up. We can talk more there."
The boy looked up at him again with those dark, too dark, eyes. "I don't even know you." He said.
"I won't hurt you," Jon assured the boy. He reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet to show the boy his badge, "See? I'm a policeman. It's my job to help people."
After a long silence the boy nodded and stood as well, the coat fell off his shoulders. Jon glanced down at it before picking it up. He started to lead the boy back towards town and his home.
"Do you have a name, son?" He asked as they started off.
"Banan," the boy replied with a faraway look in his eyes.
"That's nice," Jon said, "Is it foreign?"
The boy looked at him for a long moment before slowly shaking his head, "No, it's just very old."
Jon didn't know what to say and the boy didn't appear to be expecting a reply so he didn't say anything and led the boy to his house in silence.
Jon's house was a small, two story house with a tiny basement that barely fit an extra freezer and a couple of old boxes in it.
"It's small, but it's home," Jon said as he opened the door for the boy. Banan didn't reply.
The first floor consisted mainly of the kitchen and dining room with a small area for entry at the door. Up a small flight of stairs was an open area with a couch and old, black-and-white TV, and a short hallway that led to the master bedroom, bathroom, and Jon's office which still held a bed because it used to be a guestroom. Jon didn't have many guests.
Jon took off his shoes at the door, and hung his coat on a hook on the wall. He pushed the door closed after the boy had followed him in.
"I'll make us some dinner," he said as he walked into the kitchen, "What do you like to eat?" He began shuffling through the freezer, "There's steak, fish, pork..." He trailed off and looked expectantly over at the boy.
Banan made no reply, only stared at Jon with his unnerving eyes.
"Okay," the man said hesitantly. He shook himself out of it, telling himself he was being paranoid, and pulled out the two nearest frozen dinners, "Sirloin it is," he announced, showing the boy the boxes, "I hope you don't mind TV dinners, I don't cook too well."
Again he received no response. He opened one of the boxes and put the meal in the microwave. "Do you want something to drink? Coffee? Or hot chocolate?" He asked as he began digging through his cabinets to find some hot chocolate. He was sure he had some somewhere.
Jon froze and then looked back at the boy. For a second he thought he saw a gun in his hands, but just as quickly the image was gone. And the boy didn't look so much like the teenager in his nightmares any more. His chocolate brown eyes stared at him with veiled curiosity and he was much younger, too. Probably only ten or eleven, Jon guessed. How he had ever thought he looked like the teenager, he wasn't sure.
A small smile pulled at the boy's frozen lips, "Please," he added softly, "Cider is my favorite."
Jon smiled encouragingly, "Apple cider?" He asked and the boy nodded. Jon grinned and stopped shuffling through his cabinets and opened his refrigerator instead, "You're in luck because I've got just enough for one person left," he declared, lifting out the jug and shaking it to show the boy how much of the golden liquid was left.
Just then the microwave beeped and Jon placed the jug on the counter before switching the TV dinners. He then went back to what he was doing. "Do you want it warm?" He asked. The boy nodded.
Soon they were settled at the dining room table. The dining room was really just a lengthening of the kitchen minus the cupboards and counter space rather than a separate room. The table was small and could probably fit four people around it comfortably. Jon had only ever used it alone, or, very occasionally, with two people.
They both had TV dinners and a mug of hot apple cider for Banan while Jon himself had steaming coffee. Jon watched as the boy tried his drink, a small smile playing on his lips. He blushed a little when he noticed the man was watching him and Jon was glad because it added a little color to his cheeks.
"Thank you," the boy said, "Apple cider has always been my favorite. My mother used to give it to me, I think." His voice was very soft and barely above a whisper and Jon couldn't tell if it was normal or just because of the cold.
Jon nodded, "My mother used to make me and my brother hot chocolate when we came in from the cold."
"I never had any brothers," Banan said softly, "I had lots of sisters, though, twenty or thirty. They're all dead now."
Jon didn't know whether to believe that or not so he didn't say anything.
"They were all older than me," Banan continued, his soft brown eyes far away again, "I don't think they liked me much. They would only ever play one game with me -- the one where we all pretended I didn't exist."
The silence that followed felt awkward to Jon, but Banon sipped his drink again, seemingly content. At length Jon felt at ease enough to speak again.
"Who do you live with now, Banan?" Jon asked, intent on returning the boy to his home.
The soft chocolate eyes met his again and he thought they looked sad, now, and haunted again, just a little. "No one," he answered, and Jon could barely hear him, "I lived with some people but then they died, and now I don't live with anyone."
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