DISCLAIMER: Cold Case and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks to 803am and pellmelody for the amazing beta. This deals with the aftermath of violence.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By teh_gandu


Kat used to tell Veronica that there were no real monsters in her closet or under her bed, but despite having shown her daughter that there really were no monsters, she would still end up letting Veronica sleep in her bed, until she was six. But she never warned Veronica about the monsters in the real world. Instead, she told her not to talk to strangers and that, if anyone approached her offering candy or tried to touch her 'private places,' she should run away or scream as loudly as she could. Veronica was too young to understand the real dangers. She was too young to understand that there were real monsters with human faces. When the time came, Kat would tell her daughter about these real threats; she just hadn't decided when that right time was.

But this was the last thing she had expected. Kat tightening her grip on Veronica's hand and kissed her forehead. With tears falling and speaking with a quivering voice, Kat stroked Veronica's bruised face. "Veronica? Honey? Y-y-you've g-gotta w-w-wake up. You're supposed to pick out a puppy. Remember?"

She was supposed to protect Veronica. How could she have failed?

The ventilator's bleeping increased in volume, and Kat eyed it. Closing her eyes briefly and loosing her grip on the little hand, she kissed her daughter's neck and stood up. "He won't get away with this," she promised herself. Walking away from the bed, she barely noticed Lilly until she felt herself pulled into an embrace. Lilly kissed Kat's forehead and, gingerly, wiped away her tears.

Kat sank into Lilly's comforting embrace, letting the warmth wash over her, her tears soaking into Lilly's shirt as she struggled to comprehend how she failed to protect her little princess, how she failed as a mother and how she should have listened to Veronica this morning, when she pretend to be sick just to miss a math test. Had she listened, her little princess would be safe, and not in IUC.

None of it made sense: four innocent children lost their lives, children who Veronica played with during recess or after school, with several children and her daughter's teacher in critical condition, while the monster that did this was receiving emergency surgery. Part of her wanted him to die, (he deserved to), but, the other part of her wanted him to live, to see him suffer for what he did.

After several moments of silence, she spoke, "Veronica, begged me…s-sh-she begged me, this morning to phone the school and tell them she was sick. But I…" her voice cracked, and she paused, struggling to control her tears. "I-I-I w-w-w-wouldn't let her, 'cause she was faking it to get out of her math test. And now….I couldn't even protect her. I was supposed to protect her, but I didn't. What kind of parent does that make me? The one place she was supposed to be safe, she wasn't. It's my fault my princess is here. I should've listened and just called the school…"

"This isn't-"

"What kind of monster goes into an elementary school and...." Kat's voice trailed off as she struggled to make sense of it. Lilly's grip tightened. Kat closed her eyes and exhaled shakily as Lilly stroked her hair.

"He won't get away with this," Lilly replied. "That much I can promise you."

Kat sniffled, "I know, he won't."

He wouldn't get away with this. The monster that did this to her daughter had to pay; one thing was for certain: the law wouldn't help. She knew the law too well, knew that he would find some slick attorney who would have him declared insane, and end up in an institution instead of getting the electric chair or a life sentence.

No. The law wouldn't be on her side, not with all the hotshot attorneys, but, one way or another, he would pay for hurting her little baby girl.

The End

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