Tulip sits, waiting for Sun to say something. Guy has been sitting in the interrogation room for several hours, waiting to be questioned. Tulip and Captain Sterling are the only officers in the small precinct with any experience interrogating domestic abusers, so Tulip is called in from her leave in Bridgeport. She arrives that same evening.
"Neither of us ever noticed anything," Sun finally says, massaging her temple, "We saw those horrible bruises, but we didn't notice anything else... how did we not notice?"
"Not everyone shows the signs. A lot of victims hide evidence that they've been hurt," Tulip says comfortingly.
Sun buries her face in her hands. "Why? She could've told us. We would've listened to her."
Tulip sighs, and puts a hand on Sun's shoulder. They're in for a long night.
While Sun answers questions, Paolo accompanies Tula to the hospital for her examination. They need to see if there's any permanent or lingering physical damage.
Paolo waits anxiously. He was so inattentive at home, and now his daughter is paying the price.
He should have been home. He should've seen the signs, he should've realized that Guy needed help. He could've prevented all of this from happening.
He's failed as a father, as a guardian, and just as a human being.
Please let her be ok, he prays, Please let her be ok...
Roman walks into the waiting room, and his jaw sets when he sees who he'll be talking to today.
Life just won't give this boor bastard a break, will it?
"Is she alright?"
Roman sighs, "She's still going through the examination. You know we have to be thorough."
Paolo sighs with frustration, "So why are you here? Aren't you a forensic analyst or something?"
"Well, yes, but I work with the doctors here frequently. I get notified of these cases when they move into police jurisdiction."
"So, what? You want to interrogate me or something? Ask me if I saw anything?" Paolo laughs bitterly, "I've been asking myself the same question. And the answer is no, not until a few hours ago..."
"What did their relationship seem like to you?" Roman attempts to pull Paolo out of his spiral of self-loathing.
"How do you mean?"
"Well, how did they act around each other?"
Paolo sighs, and thinks. "Close, I guess? Like brother and sister. They were raised together ever since Guy was, uh, adopted. They did a lot of school activities together, especially after Tula's mother died."
Roman nods. "And at home?"
"They did their homework together a lot, if that's what you mean. I...I was at work when they were home, usually. By the time I got back, they'd be in bed most of the time," Paolo flushes guiltily, "I must sound like the worst father ever."
Roman shakes his head, "It's ok, Paolo. Just tell me what you saw."
"Well that's pretty much it. They would do homework together, um recently baby-sit my other daughter, Haliya, together, as far as I know they often had breakfast and dinner together too..."
"And did either of them ever do anything out of the ordinary?"
"No. Not that I can remember. Believe me, I've been wracking my brain for anything else. At the festival, Tula was nervous when I said we left Haliya with Guy. She didn't say why. I...I just thought she was scared he wouldn't be careful with her, because he's so absent-minded. I didn't think..." he chokes on a sob, "I didn't think it was anything more than that."
"Did Haliya or Tula ever have any strange injuries?"
"Haliya, no, she was always healthy. Tula..." Paolo takes a long moment to think, "...well she came home with bruises on her legs sometimes. She'd just blame it on being clumsy. She was always going to school dances and played on the soccer team, so I never thought anything of it. Oh god, do you think they were from him?" Paolo squeezes his eyes shut, "Just how badly did he hurt her?!"
"Paolo, please, calm down..."
"If it was your daughter in there, would you be calm!?"
No, no he wouldn't be. Roman knows this and sighs. This was so out of the ordinary in their tiny, sleepy town, the mere thought of anyone hitting someone outside of a bar brawl was just...unfathomable.
"I need you to be focused right now, so we can try and get to the bottom of this. I want to help you find out what happened to your daughter, Paolo."
Paolo hangs his head and wipes his eyes, "I know... I know, I'm sorry."
"So let's take this from the beginning..."
Tula drums her fingers on the counter table and stares determinedly at the wall across from her. She's just finished changing back into her clothes after the physical examination. As soon as they let her get dressed, she recovered her bruises. They're quite the sight and she doesn't like how they mar her skin.
Tula snaps out of her musings and stands with her hands uncertainly folded and fidgeting in front of her.
"Can I go now, Ephraim?"
Ephraim Blanco-Riffin, formerly painfully single teen rebel, now a married doctor, looks at his old high school friend. Their lives had certainly taken different turns. He never expected that they'd meet here, or under such awful circumstances.
"I just need to ask you some questions first, then you can see your dad. It won't take long."
Tula reluctantly takes a seat, and smooths her skirt with her hands.
"So what do you need to know?"
Ephraim flips through some papers, then glances up at her. "You told me the bruises on your neck were the only ones attributed to the attack."
"What about the ones on your shins?"
Tula stares straight at him, her face frozen, "Soccer practice."
"There are a lot of them."
She looks away evasively, "I'm a pretty clumsy person."
"And the bruises on your back?"
"I might have tripped during the summer dance."
"Again, I'm pretty clumsy." Ephraim has no idea that she's actually telling the truth here. Hard to believe someone could fall so much in the space of a few hours, but she apparently has two left feet.
"Do you want to talk about what happened during the attack? It'll be confidential."
Tula squirms, "I don't want to think about it."
Ephraim looks away, clearly uncomfortable himself. He's never handled a case like this before.
"Ok, I understand."
Several seconds pass, neither of them say anything.
"There...there was another time," she admits slowly, "He didn't actually hit me or anything, just shoved me. In the mausoleum. It was the first time I'd ever seen him like that... I-I was so scared, but nothing else happened! I swear!"
"Tula, I need you to be honest with me..."
"I am! You can ask Armando and Teressa, they were there! He didn't hit me that time!"
He's outwardly unaffected, but inwardly caught off guard when Tula suddenly bursts into tears.
"He didn't mean it. Guy would never hurt me."
Ephraim hands her a box of tissues. She takes several and begins dabbing at her face.
"Why won't anyone believe me?"
Maybe because it's an unlikely story, Sterling thinks to himself when Guy asks him the same question for the third time in a row. It's dubious that this is the first incident, as is the case with many perpetrators he's come across, and Guy's story is...doubtful.
"But it's true! I don't remember hurting her! And I'd never hurt Tula or Haliya!"
"So you admit that you might have hurt Tula and not remembered it?"
Guy shifts in his seat, hiding his face.
"What's your answer, Guy?"
"...I can't breathe!"
Was it more than just a dream?
He finally shifts, facing Sterling.
"So what is it, Guy? Did you or did you not grab her neck?"
"I don't know..."
And it's the truth.
An hour later, the three officers convene.
"So what do we have?" Sterling asks the room.
"Well, Paolo says he didn't notice anything out of the ordinary. They spent a lot of time together, like siblings usually do, especially after their mother's death. Tula sometimes came home from school with bruises, but he says he thought they came from school activities. Now he's not so sure. She does have a lot of bruises, but most of them are old."
"So she could be telling the truth about this being an isolated incident. Or the first of what would've been a series."
"Sun says she didn't notice anything out of the ordinary either. She always thought they were both a 'little odd'," she uses her fingers to mime quotation marks, "But that it was just because they were uncomfortable with her being involved with their father. Like Roman said, now...she's not so sure."
"So basically we have uncertain parents, a skittish victim, and a perpetrator," Roman sums up. He looks up at the ceiling, "Great. What did you get, Captain?"
"He doesn't remember the incident, not all of it anyways. The medical exam conclusively proves that she was hurt by somebody, and she maintains that it was him, so we have a case for assault. But the boy needs to talk to a psychologist. The defense will probably argue for diminished capacity, or that he be sent to a hospital instead of prison."
"Well, personally, if he's sick, I'd much rather he go to a hospital."
"And what about what he did to Tula? Will he just escape punishment for that?" Tulip asks, her eyebrows high.
"Oh come on, have some compassion. If he's unwell, he needs help. The justice system aims to rehabilitate, not punish."
"Try telling that to Tula," Tulip grumbles. She's seen too many criminals get off too easily. Keith Chandra comes to mind, making her stomach churn.
But, unbidden, the memory of Krista flashes through her mind. Krista needed help, although of a different kind, and she ended up dead.
Tulip sighs at the skeptical look on Roman's face. "Ok, I get your point. He might be mentally unbalanced. That still needs to be determined."
"So we'll talk to the DA, and his lawyer, and recommend him having a psychologist interview. We can't and don't decide the sentencing anyways. Alright?"
Tula scrapes the ground with her feet. The past few days have been chaotic, to say the least. She's been through a revolving door of police officers, therapists, and doctors. She's ready for it to be over.
"I appreciate you meeting me here on such short notice," the red-haired man says.
"Yeah, well it's not like we really have a choice here," Paolo snaps. The last couple of days have been hard on him, too.
"Dad, he's just trying to help," Tula reminds him quietly.
Paolo glances at his daughter. How does she have it in her to be patient? he wonders in amazement. He feels like he's at his wits' end with having his life turned upside down, but Tula, the victim of it all, can still be civil.
She turns towards the man, "Sorry, you were saying, Dr. Tavares?"
"Yes, I've spoken to your son-,"
"-he's not my son," Paolo cuts in. Ephraim winces.
"...yes, I've spoken to Guy, and extensively with the police, his lawyer, and the district attorney. We all agree that he needs medical attention and rehabilitation. Seeing as you're his legal guardian, Mr. Winterly, we need your permission to send him to our facility in Monte Vista. I've asked Mr. Blanco-Riffin here to explain the particularities of our facility to Guy, and to you if you want more information..."
"Will it stop him from hurting anyone else? Can you guarantee that?"
"There are no guarantees in psychology, Mr. Winterly," Ephraim answers, "But it's Guy's best shot at getting better. We don't have anything like this facility in Appaloosa Plains. He'd just go to prison if you let him stay here."
Dr. Tavares turns towards Tula, "I recognize that it must be difficult for you to be here and talk about helping someone who hurt you. What he did to you was deplorable, and I understand if you'd rather not be here..."
Tula shakes her head. "He needs help. I wanted to be here to make sure he'd be getting it. To make sure this can't happen again." She turns towards her father.
"Let them help him, dad. Please. For me."
Guy was confused, but compliant, when he was transferred to a new cell, one for just him.
He's cried himself out, stared at the ceiling, and avoided his cellmate for the past few days, thinking about home and wishing he could be alone. Now that he finally has some privacy, he finds that all he wants to do is sleep.
AN: So I just want to say that having a victim to sit in on a hearing like Tula did would NOT normally be done, it's just because Tula insisted on being there and is a part of Guy's legally recognized family that she was there.