Unto Thine Own Self
Fictional piece by Joanne Siderius
A Cagney and Lacey Fan Fiction based on characters created by Barbara Avedon and Barbara Corday. I wrote this story for the enjoyment of those who still miss watching Cagney and Lacey (and characters like them) on television. I would appreciate hearing any comments or reviews that you have - Joanne firstname.lastname@example.org
A light morning breeze skimmed over snow still lying deep on the summit; danced past alpine flowers and lost itself in the spring flood waters ripping and tearing at bare rock. But beneath the heavy perfume of cottonwood buds, and the smell of dank mud lay the scent of danger - the taint of iron.
She reared to her full height. The breeze was stronger now - flattening golden brown fur against her tensed muscles. Her eyes told her nothing but her nose told her everything. She growled a warning to her cubs. Then she charged.
She carried her head low - sheer speed and power -almost a thousand pounds of maternal rage bearing down on her target. Mud flew from her long, curved claws and power rippled - surged - from her great hindquarters.
The shot caught her just behind the shoulder. Her momentum carried her forward into a somersault before the second shot found her. She never heard the shots that killed her cubs.
The first people had named the brightest group of stars in the spring night the Great Bear. Stars that twinkled in the hard, cold night, casting light that reflected in the dead eyes of the Grizzly. The moon had not yet risen - a full moon that would throw pure cold light on the alpine meadow. Light that would find three carcasses lying among the flowers - three great bears killed for their paws and gall bladders.
The brick tore through her shirt as her elbow skid along the wall. She landed in a crouch, bouncing to her feet immediately. The fire escape ladder snapped back into position. She barely paused before swinging around the corner- barely waited to see whether he was still running - or lying in wait for her. Horns blared as he darted across two lanes of early morning traffic. She barely hesitated - pushing past suits and briefcases - flinging herself into the traffic right behind the fugitive. The hollow sound of a body landing on metal as he leapt to the hood of a taxi, rolled and dodged around another checker cab. More horns and hand gestures and squealing brakes. She was a breathe behind him - one hand carrying her over the taxi as she leapt directly into a tackle, bringing him to ground. They both skidded across the slick wet pavement - cars screeched to a stop inches from the struggle. He punched her in the face and pushed up on his feet to run. She grunted as his fist connected - twisted, grabbed his arm and used his momentum to topple him face down - straddling him on her knees as she cuffed his hands behind his back. The drivers have chosen sides now - some cheering on the cop - some urging the runner to throw one more good punch. Horns, hand gestures and profanity - morning in New York City.
Where do you think you're going, eh? (Pushing him down as he struggles).
(Finally pulling him to his feet to raucous cheers and loud boos.)
Guess what scum? You have the right to remain silent
Lacey is pelting down the alley by the building. She runs up to the pair, putting her gun in her holster and taking the fugitive's other arm as Sgt. Cagney finishes reading him his rights. Lacey had chosen to cut the kid off in a more conventional manner than her partner- down the alley along the building. She had, however, witnessed Cagney's leap and her battle among the taxis.
(Very angry, speaking to Chris)
What the hell are you doing?
Are you trying to hurt yourself?
(Intense, angry, inspecting her scraped elbow and torn jeans)
Sergeant. What the hell are you doing Sergeant.
(Taken aback, still angry)
(Persisting) All this for a petty thief - Sergeant?
(Both women, each holding an arm as they haul him to the car, glare at him)
Was I talking to you?
(Giving his arm a shake)
(Still glaring at the thief)
I chased a thief! That's my job. Where the hell were you, Detective?
Me? You know very well where I was - following procedure, Sergeant - cutting him off at the alley. You questioning my decision? - take it up with Samuels
- and don't change the subject here. (No response as Cagney marches on, staring straight ahead)
You leapt from a rickety fire escape ladder and into traffic to save humanity from a diabolical VCR thief - (It is obvious that Chris is not going to participate in this conversation.)
(After a time, calmly)
You could've waited Chris - used the staircase.
We would have gotten him (pauses)
(Including the streets around her in one gesture)
Or Jenkins and the other uniforms - they were on their way.
Chris does not bless Mary Beth with a response. Mary Beth clenches her jaw.
(A minute later - into the silence)
Hey, am I gonna miss breakfast in lockup?
Back in the 14th Precinct detective's squad room. Lacey shoves the young man into the holding cell, locking the door behind him as Cagney finishes typing up the arrest report.
When you two finish with young Dillinger there, I want to see you in my office.
He slides the manila folder on his desk towards the two detectives. Cagney reads the contents and Lacey looks over her shoulder. Samuels watches their faces as they realize what they are reading. Cagney's face lights up. Lacey looks up and asks:
An international task force, sir?
That's right, Lacey. The feds, various Canadian authorities and even the Russians are involved.
Why the 14TH,, Lieutenant?
China Town. Bear gall bladders have been surfacing in our precinct. NYPD is co-operating in finding the suppliers. You two are next up on the roster - I don't need to tell you it's a plum assignment, detectives.
Gall bladders, sir?
(awkward, not looking at them)
Well, you know, it's supposed to help your,well, a man's er, ability to, well, you know - his ability.
(Angry, hitting the folder)
An aphrodisiac! - for rich old men - all so they can get one more shot in.
There is a beat of silence as both Samuels and Lacey stare at Cagney and then carry on without comment.
Start at the Chinese herbal medicine shops. See what you turn up there. There's a meeting with the feds tomorrow - it's all in there. (pointing at the folder.)
And detectives - remember there is big money involved smuggling tiger, rhino and grizzly parts into this country - (Raising his finger.) Be careful out there.
Samuels returns to the papers on his desk as Cagney and Lacey leave the office. Lacey returns to her desk but looks up, startled as Cagney dumps Lacey's coat and purse on her desk.
What about the Dylan report you were on about?
(Already half out the door leaning back into the room to answer)
It can wait. Are you coming?
Chris is gone. Lacey grabs her things and hurries to catch up to the Sergeant. One moment up - the other down - Mary Beth hoped Chris got a grip - and the sooner the better.
(Mary Beth grabs the dashboard as Chris charges through another stop light, siren blaring)
Pull over. Right now. I'm driving.
Chris looks in the rear view mirror, ignoring Lacey.
I mean it - You're scaring me.
(No response from Cagney who stares straight ahead, sitting on the horn as they cross another intersection.)
Chris! I don't know what's gotten into you, but I'd like to stay in one piece.
(Pulling over to the curb.)
We're there already.
(Not even looking at Lacey)
You can drive back.
That wasn't the point. Mary Beth undid her seat belt and climbed out of the car, following Cagney into the building. There had been no need to rush. There had been no need for sirens. Chris was cruising for trouble - being even more reckless than usual. Mary Beth was very angry and worried. It was going to be a long day.
Trapped. Cornered. Chris leaned her forehead against the door to her loft as she turned the last lock. David had left. He had been elated at the news - he hadn't tried to hide the joy in his eyes - it had lit his whole face. She breathed deeply to quiet her rising panic. She doubted he had really heard her when she had told him she still had to make a decision. She had only wanted to let him know - to discuss the options - to know how he felt. As if she hadn't known how he would feel. Sometimes she shared his joy but mostly she felt trapped.
She reached, without thinking, for the scotch. She ended up pouring the drink down the sink.
t is quiet at the Lacey dinner table. Harvey is relishing his meal; Mary Beth is lost in her own thoughts and Harvey Jr. is protesting the entire adult world with his sullen silence. Alice Christine is asleep in her crib. Michael has a question.
(looking up from her dinner)
You really gonna work with bears?
Well, I'm going to try to catch the poachers.
Rad. I'm wanna write my science report on bears.
Want to, Michael, not wanna.
Great idea, Michael. (Gesturing with his fork) Did you know that the major threat to wildlife is loss of habitat? I'm willing to bet that if we spent even a tenth of the military budget on the environment, that we could restore a lot of habitat for animals like bears in only one generation.
Michael continues chewing, watching his father without answering. He had been thinking more of drawing pictures of bear teeth and claws and writing gruesome details about bear attacks.
Michael, that's a wonderful idea. Maybe you can interview Chris and me. Eat up your peas, now.
She smiles at Harvey and passes the mashed potatoes to Harvey Jr. who rolls his eyes in disgust at the whole conversation.
(impatient) Mr. Wong, we aren't suggesting that your father is involved. We just want to ask some questions.
My father is a world-renowned doctor, detectives. He deserves respect.
Mr. Wong, someone is selling bear gall bladders in China town. We came to you because we know your father is an honest man. We have come to make use of his knowledge and wisdom. We would appreciate any assistance you or your father can give us.
True practitioners of Chinese medicine do not buy illegal animal parts. For one thing: it is illegal. (Pointedly) Who needs the cops sniffing around? For another thing: it is far too expensive to buy poached animal parts. It is also very distasteful to both my father and me to buy rhino horn, tiger bone or grizzly bear gall bladder to enflame an old man's passion.
(Itching to get to the point.)
So…You don't have any idea who would be bringing these bear parts into China town? You must have some idea where it comes from or who buys it.
A curtain to the back of the shop is pulled aside and an elderly man comes into the room. He asks a question of his son in Mandarin, who answers at considerable length.
My father welcomes you to his practice. (Turning to Chris) He also asks if you are the daughter of Charlie Cagney.
(Smiling at the old man) Yes. My father Charlie was a beat cop in China town for years.
The elder and the younger Mr. Wong converse. The younger man again turns to the two detectives.
My father remembers Officer Cagney fondly. (Smiles) One mean poker player, in my father's words. He asks that you extend his invitation to your father to join the poker game here Saturday nights. My father also would be greatly honoured to assist your investigation. He suggests you return tomorrow. There will be people here who can assist you in your investigation.
(Speaking directly to the elder Mr. Wong)
Thank you. My father will be very pleased to hear from an old friend. And my colleague and I greatly appreciate your assistance.
Chris and Mary Beth return the bow that the old man gives them as his son translates.
The two detectives are walking through China town back to their car.
(Looking at her watch)
Chris, we're going to be late.
(Deep in her own thoughts turns to look at Mary Beth)
Meeting Harv and David for dinner?
(Less than enthusiastic)
(Grabbing Chris' arm.)
OK Chris. What's eating you?
(Pulling away, walking on.)
Nothing? You're rude, reckless and distant - even more so than usual - Talk to me!
There's nothing, Mary Beth.
Com'on. We're going to be late.
They were late. Harvey and David, deeply involved in an animated discussion about the international politics of oil, barely noticed. Mary Beth settled gratefully into her chair. She looked forward to relaxing in adult company and having someone else serve her dinner. The Italian restaurant served great pasta, played wonderful music and didn't rush guests out the door. They ordered their food and sat back to enjoy the evening.
Chris had been quiet all evening. David, on the other hand, was unusually animated, trying to draw his lover into the conversation. It was unlike David to be so publicly solicitous - almost possessive - of Chris. Mary Beth was a student of human behaviour and she knew her partner almost as well as (if not better than) Chris knew herself. Mary Beth would have laid odds that normally Cagney's sharp tongue and sarcasm would have withered such behaviour on David's - on anyone's - part. But tonight Chris was not herself - she seemed lost. And Chris Cagney was drinking water.
Mary Beth Lacey put one and one together and came up with three.
Next afternoon in the 14th Precinct.
(Very frustrated, throws her pencil down on her desk. She pushes back her chair, crosses her legs and puts her hands behind her head. Mary Beth is waiting out the storm, but she is listening.)
So, it's a consensus. Whoever is shooting these bears in the Yukon and British Columbia is also transporting them to New York.
And why do we know this?
(Chris gets up and starts pacing beside their desks)
Because Mr. Wong's friends said so this morning. Won't tell us why, mind you, just that it's so.
(Watching Chris as she paces up and down)
Chris, forget for a minute that they won't tell us why, just accept, for the moment, that it's true. If whoever is shooting these bears is bringing the parts out - they've got to hike in and out with a small cooler. Miles in and out without being noticed.
(Animated as she paces - now caught up in puzzle solving)
A chopper gets too much attention.
What about someone who uses a chopper up there anyway?
Too risky. Guide outfitters have to keep their noses clean to keep their licenses and chopper pilots keep logs - nope, whoever it is hikes in and out.
Fine. The money makes the hike more than worthwhile. But how do they get the stuff across the line?
No problem in country. Crossing our border? Smuggling? You can walk across the border almost anywhere you chose.
Mary Beth. (Ticking the points off on her fingers) Who knows the country well enough, - knows enough about bears to track the animals and - has the contacts in New York to do this? Local hunters might be tempted once in a while, but the stakes are too high if they're caught.
I don't know. Hunters, guides, researchers, environmentalists (Chris snorts at this last). I'm just going over the list, here, Chris. Who else?
We've already talked to the University researchers - so have the Feds. Far too much at stake for a researcher to get involved. Besides, most of them care about the animals.
(Sitting down and picking up her pencil)
t is a lot of money, Mary Beth. What if it was a summer assistant on a research project - they get paid squat. Someone bitter, poor, maybe in too deep to get out?
(Throwing her pencil down again. It bounces across to Lacey's desk.)
You started this! It's all conjecture, Mary Beth!
(Storming off to the Jane)
Mary Beth puts her head in her hands. Enough. She gives Chris a minute or two, and then follows her.
Cagney is staring at herself in the mirror as Lacey enters.
(Standing beside Cagney, arms folded, within a foot of Cagney's face)
So, when were you going to tell me?
(Taking a step away)
How far along are you?
(Turning, raising her hand to her hair and then turning again to face Mary Beth)
Back off, Mary Beth. Just back off will you?
(Following Chris as Chris backs away, avoiding meeting Mary Beth's eyes)
How far along?
(Raises both hands and drops them. Starts pacing the room while Mary Beth stands in the middle of the room, arms still folded. Chris stops pacing long enough to look Mary Beth in the face when she answers.)
About a month.
(Goes and sits on the bench as Chris continues pacing)
(Throwing up her hands again)
What does that mean?
(Softly) what does it mean Chris?
(Off on her own train of thought)
I had to talk to David first. (Pacing) Oh, Mary Beth, he is so … thrilled. He so wants to be a father. I look into those brown eyes and I want to give him a child.
Chris, that's wonderful.
(Turns to look at Mary Beth and repeats the question)
(Before Mary Beth has a chance to answer)
You know Mary Beth, I never really thought about being a mother. I never thought I didn't want to be a mother either. But this is my last chance. I'm 42 years old.
(Stops and stands before Mary Beth who is sitting on the bench). I see a young blond boy who is my son - David's son and he's waiting for me, putting his hand in mine. (Tears coming to her eyes) I would love to watch a son of David Keeler's growing up - his first words - to watch him climb trees - buy him his first puppy. Just hold him, nurse him, you know?
I know Chris.
Of course you do!
But Mary Beth, I don't want to be a mother. (As if someone was arguing with her.)
I don't. I don't want to get married. I don't want to move to some acceptable neighbourhood and be Mrs. David Keeler.
(She has been listening up to this point, knowing that Cagney needs to talk out all her doubts and fears, but now she interrupts.)
Chris, you can have a baby without all those other things if you want.
And if I just want to be me? Christine Cagney?
And if I want to be Chief of Detectives?
(Finally comes to a rest - sitting beside Mary Beth on the bench)
And, Mary Beth. We both know I'd be a terrible mother.
You don't know that.
Yes I do, trust me. The first woman chief of Detective will probably put her kid in boarding schools, let him visit on holidays, make sure he grows up presentable and respectable and then send him off into the world to do justice to the Cagney name.
(Softly) You are not your mother Chris.
(On her feet and pacing again)
Mary Beth. (Her hands are over her face, saying the words she has been dreading - the words she has yet to speak out loud.) Maybe… Mary Beth. - I'm going to get an abortion.
Lacey doesn't reply. She gets to her feet and holds her friend. Holds her until Chris pulls away.
Mary Beth. You don't understand. You are such a good mother - I've never known anyone who was better suited to be a mother.
(Tearfully, at a loss) And it is a mortal sin, Mary Beth. I can't pull away from that. And Charlie? I could never tell him.
Mary Beth Lacey has little time for religious interference in a woman's right to chose her own reproductive fate. But she respects Chris' feelings - and her beliefs. Her friend may not be a practicing Catholic, but Chris' background is still very Catholic - and so are many of her attitudes.
Mary Beth has never told Chris about her own abortion. Now may be the time. But she hesitates. This is not the time to tell her own story. Still…
I will always think of my first child. (Cagney looks up in confusion)
The child I aborted when I was 19. Before I met Harv. I will always remember, she'll always be part of me.
(Mary Beth can't continue. She is choked up. Even after all this time.)
(Still grappling with what Mary Beth has just told her.)
Your first baby, Mary Beth?
Mary Beth just nods, tears in her eyes. Christine sits closer and holds Mary Beth's hand.
(Mary Beth shakes her head and Chris puts her arm over Mary Beth's shoulders, holding her close.)
(Wiping her eyes)
I had to go to Mexico. It took all my tuition money.
(Looking up at her friend)
But I did the right thing, Chris.
A child always deserves all the love you can give her. If you know in your heart you can't give her what she needs, if you don't want to be a mother, you owe it to yourself and to your child to responsible and honest - whatever that means to you.
It's so hard, Mary Beth.
(Nodding, wiping her eyes)
(She too knows her friend almost as well as Mary Beth knows herself. )
Have you forgiven yourself?
Yes. But I will always remember.
(They move apart and sit in silence for a while.)
I'll be there for you, whatever you decide, Chris.
(Hugs Christine in return)
< p align=center>COLEMAN
Hey Cagney - call from the Feds on line 3.
I'll be right there, Coleman.
Chris is at the door about to leave. Lacey has stayed to quickly comb her hair.
(Leaning her head on the door before opening it. Knowing what her decision must be.)
I have to tell David. About… about the abortion.
Mary Beth watches Chris in the mirror.
(Softly) Will you go with me?
(Nodding, her eyes moist)
Of course Chris. Of course.
(On the phone)
Agent Brice? Cagney here.
Un huh. Say. We have an idea. We're going to run a computer check on any students in the New York area who have worked on Bear research projects in the Yukon or B.C.
Right. I know you checked the departments-
Un huh - but sometimes research assistants are only there for a brief time - these would have the expertise to poach, the opportunity and they are often dirt poor.
Sure. It is a long shot.
Thanks Brice. Thanks for the update - I'll get back to you on the computer check.
She hangs up the phone and rubs her temples.
(Looking up at Lacey)
He wants more legwork on the shops in China town. I'm betting on the computer check to turn up something.
I'll go set up the search with Basil.
Thanks Mary Beth.
(Picking up the phone to make a very personal call)
Christine turned the lights out and pulled the comforter close. She had made the appointment at the clinic today and had told David her decision tonight. Gone were the trapped feelings - the helplessness. But she could still see the pain in David's eyes. It reflected her own sorrow. Sorrow and relief - such a strange combination. It was a long time before she fell asleep.
David Keeler was crying. Chris would never know, although she had seen the pain in his eyes. Of course he supported her decision. He would never suggest she should raise a child she didn't want. But David Keeler put his head in his hands and continued to weep.
The next day.
(Hitting the computer printout with one hand)
I love it when a hunch pays off big time!
(Taking the paper from Chris reading it)
Doug Mathews - art student at NYU - worked two summers ago with Dr. Swanson up in Kooteney Park. Canadian charges - One charge possession of an unregistered firearm and one charge illegal possession of eagle feathers. Bingo Chris. Bingo.
(Picking up the phone)
I'll talk to Brice. Then let's go bring Mathews in for questioning, partner.
College dormitories certainly hadn't changed. The carpet was still wet from the last time someone had pulled the fire alarm. Music (at least it could have been music) assaulted the ears and there was a faint smell of a very illegal essence wafting in the air.
(Stopping a young woman hurrying on her way to classes)
Excuse me - do you know where we can find Doug Mathews? He's not in his room.
Sure, Doug's probably in the sculpting studio - projects are due next week.
That's not the only thing due.
(Pointing to a student coming out the door to the stairwell)
There he is - Hey Doug! - These ladies want to talk to you.
Doug knows cops when he sees them - and he is certainly not interested in talking to the cops. He hurls his books at the detectives and turns to bolt down the stairwell.
Lacey draws her gun, leaps over the scattered books and follows in hot pursuit. Doug takes the steps four, five at a time, leaping down the stairs, using his arms and the railing to soften the landing. Lacey has a bit more trouble holding her weapon and maneuvering the stairs - but she has him in sight and he's not going to get away.
They have reached the first floor and he is out the door, past the student mail boxes, the student lounge and out onto the street - and into the waiting arms of two uniformed police. Lacey runs up and grabs Mathews. She has him cuffed and has placed him in the custody of the two uniforms when Cagney comes racing up.
Where were you?
I knew you had it all under control.
Always handy to call for backup. I hope you remember that, Detective
Chris keeps a straight face as she puts her gun back in her holster and opens the driver's door to the car.
What? You'd rather drive? Is that it?
So clinical. Cold clean metal; stark white sheets; efficient gloved hands and masked faces. They were all very polite, very respectful, and very professional.
Are you comfortable, Ms. Cagney?
Are you ready?
Comfortable? Ready? Everyone had made sure she understood the alternatives; had understood the biology; had understood the emotional after affects - only Mary Beth had held her hand.
She was home now. Sunlight poured into the loft but Chris felt no warmth. Mary Beth was making tea. Chris would have preferred scotch, but there was none.
I'll be OK now. Thanks Mary Beth.
Mary Beth brings the tea and tucks the blanket closer around Chris. She pours two cups of tea, takes one for herself and sits down.
'm not leaving yet, Chris. Just relax. Drink your tea.
Chris leans back against the couch. Fighting. Then the tears come -pouring from her eyes- sobs racking her body. She pulls the blanket closer, curling up, trying to disappear - to hide.
Mary Beth puts the teacup down and pulls Chris close. She holds her and rocks her until well after the tea has cooled, until the sun has set. Until the sobs have stopped and Christine Cagney falls into an exhausted sleep. Holds her until she wakes and is ready to talk.
Mary Beth had said she would be there for Chris. And she was.
Two weeks later.
(Coming around to lean on the front of his desk, facing the two seated detectives. He is very happy and smiling broadly.)
Very good work, detectives. Very good. A.D.A. Feldman just called - Mathews copped a plea and has given us the names of several bigger fish. No more dead bears - for a while anyway.
(Smiling and crossing his arms)
You did rub the fed's nose in it, though, didn't you? Agent Brice hates sharing a collar.
Sometimes a hunch pays off, and Brice didn't want to listen to this one.
(She looks over at Chris who smiles back.)
(Moving back behind his desk.)
Looks good in your jackets. Looks good for the precinct too.
He turns back to his work and the detectives return to their desks. Glory is sweet but brief.
Hey, Michael, Mary Beth, Look! You can see the big dipper tonight!
The dishes are packed away in the wooden case Harvey has built especially for camping. The fire has stopped smoking and flames are burning hot and high. The dark cradles the small park - hiding the cropped lawn, most of the other campers and the parking lot nearby. The small tents are set up with the sleeping bags at the ready and the flashlights have new batteries for any late night trips to the outhouse. Harvey Jr. has chosen to stay with friends rather than go camping. Alice Christine is lying on a blanket, fascinated by the fire.
You know, Dad, native people on the west coast called the Big Dipper the Great Bear. See there's the head, the legs - can you see it?
Sure, I see it. The Great Bear huh?
The night deepens and the small fire burns a little lower. Michael falls asleep by the fire and Mary Beth pushes the hair from his eyes. He is almost eleven years old now. He would have been humiliated to know how angelic he looked at that moment. Mary Beth looked at her small family and felt very proud, very thankful and very, very lucky. There were tears in her eyes.
That same night
Soft, flickering candlelight and shadow filled the loft. Christine sat curled on her couch wearing her satin pyjamas. She raises her glass and watches the flames waver and glow in the crystal and through the bubbles of champagne. She had told David she wanted to be alone tonight. He didn't understand, but he had kissed her and told her he would see her tomorrow. She cherished her time alone in her own home. Tonight she needed to cry and to laugh and she didn't want to have to explain why or to even know why. It was a night for celebration - and perhaps for some mourning. A night for toasting herself and her decisions - because right or wrong, they were her decisions.
The clock struck midnight and Christine Cagney raised the glass high and toasted her 42nd birthday. The champagne tasted fine.
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