A Dish Best Served Cold (cont.)
Part 11 (Trekkieb):
Harry held his breath as he heard Hane close the door behind him. At first the only sound in the dank cell was that of Hanes expensive Italian loafers, but after a moment those too stopped. Beside him, Ioki sensed Hanson shift positions.
"Its his own fault, you know," came the smooth voice.
"His fault?" Toms voice was low, a mixture of barely controlled anger and pain. "His fault?"
"Of course," Hane replied. Harry could hear the amusement in the mans voice, and he wanted badly to pound the smug tone out of him. But he remained still. He couldnt have moved anyway. It was all he could do to pay attention to Hane and Hanson, breathe slowly and shallowly, and deal with the white-hot burning sensation in his chest.
Hane continued, "If Officer Ioki hadnt made the grievous error of warning you, he would most likely still be alive right now."
Hanson shot to his feet. "If you hadnt brought us here to begin with Harry wouldnt have been in that position and none of this would have happened, you bastard!" There were a few other choice words that Ioki wanted to add but didnt.
"Details, details." A pause. "You know, Hanson, you being who you are wasnt part of the original plan, merely an added bonus. Of course, I know that the four of you were merely doing your duty as law enforcement officers when you took it upon yourselves to impede the distribution of my merchandise, as well as hinder my employees. And even though I am taking my business elsewhere, I just couldnt leave without a certain amount of closure. At first, I was simply going to shoot you, but when I realized your connection to Jack Hanson the opportunity was just too irresistible to pass up."
"So what now?" Hanson retorted. "Youve had your fun. Youve had your own twisted revenge on a dead man. Let us go."
"Let you go?" Hane chuckled sarcastically. "Thats a good one. Ive never heard that one before. Let you go." Harry could just imagine him shaking his head.
Harry nearly had a heart attack when Toms bloody t-shirt was flipped away from his face. It took every ounce of will power not to flinch or otherwise give himself away. He held his breath once more and hoped Hane couldnt hear his racing heart, because in Harrys ears it nearly drowned out the words of the Jump Street cops tormentor:
"Did you hear that, Officer Ioki?"
*** *** ***
Part 12 (Claire):
Harry's eyes snapped open, before he could control the impulse, and he stared up at Hane's grinning face. It was like looking into the face of the devil. In that moment of mind-numbing panic, he could think of only one thing to say. "Oops."
The grin twisted into a sneer. "Eloquent to the last."
The contempt in Hane's voice sent a flare of anger through Harry that burned away much of his fear and started his brain working again. It took him only the space of a breath to go from panic, to fury, to rational thought, then he gazed up at his would-be executioner with his thoughts carefully screened behind blank stupidity. Hane was crouched beside him, bending over to get a better look at him in the dim light, his silk necktie dangling an inch below Harry's chin. Harry couldn't help noticing that the tie was blood red. How appropriate. He mustered a smile from somewhere, and lifted his finger to his lips.
"Shh. You'll blow my cover," he whispered, soundlessly. Hane bent a little closer to catch his words. "I'm pretending to be dead."
Hane gave a snort of disgust and started to straighten up. In the same second, Harry grabbed his necktie, flipped it twice around his hand, and pulled as hard as he could. Hane was caught completely off guard, and he pitched forward to fall across Harry, his head pinned to the other man's chest by the fist in his tie. Hane gave a shout of protest, which turned into an undignified gurgle when Harry tightened his grip.
Hanson, who had stood frozen in shock from the moment Hane touched the t-shirt, now came unglued. With a wordless cry of rage, he pounced on Hane, slamming his body to the floor with his own weight and grabbing him around the throat. Hane gave another breathless gurgle and began thrashing violently. His hands scrabbled over the floor, hunting for a weapon of any kind, but his efficiency in preparing the cells for his prisoners now worked against him. He could not find so much as a handful of dust to throw in Hanson's face.
Hanson looped his bound wrists over Hane's head and pulled the plastic zip-strip tightly against the other man's larynx. Then he climbed to his feet, straddling Hane's body, and gasped,
"Let him go, Harry!"
Ioki's hand went slack. Hanson gathered all his strength and heaved upward with his hands, flinging Hane away from his injured friend. Hane half-staggered to his feet, under the pressure of the bindings against his throat, then collapsed to a crouch in an empty patch of floor, with Hanson's weight against his back.
The young officer bent close to murmur in his ear, "Ready to breathe?"
Hane could only clutch at his wrists with rapidly weakening hands. He had no oxygen to answer.
"Remember how this feels, asshole. You make one sound, one wrong move, and I'll finish the job." Then he eased the pressure on his captive's throat, allowing him a shuddering, grateful breath.
Giving Hane one, quick squeeze as a reminder to behave, Hanson turned his attention to his teammate. "You okay, Harry?" he called.
For a long minute, Ioki didn't answer, and Hanson thought he'd passed out again. Then, he shifted glazed, exhausted eyes to Hanson and whispered, "Next time...he'll wear a clip-on."
Hanson laughed. It wasn't really much of a joke, and he knew this was no time to give in to hilarity, but his overcharged nerves needed the release. So he bent his head to muffle the sound in his arm and laughed 'til hysterical tears started in his eyes. He might have kept at it all night, if Harry hadn't recalled him to the urgency of their situation.
Hanson lifted his head to expose a smudged, filthy, grinning face. "Yeah?"
"Now we get out of here. Right, Mr. Hane?"
"You can certainly try," Hane responded, with an attempt at his usual suave assurance, "but Officer Ioki isn't going to make it as far as the door, and you'll be dead before you reach the end of the corridor."
Hanson tightened his hold on the other man's neck, just to make a point, and chided, "Overconfidence is a real killer."
By the time Hane could breathe again, he had lost his polished manner. He gave a snarl of rage and spat, "I'll watch you die before the night's out!"
Tom shot a worried glance over at Harry, who now lay with his eyes closed, barely breathing, and decided that he was sick of playing head games with his psychopathic jailer. Bending his head down next to Hane's, he hissed, "Get Calhoun in here."
Hane took only a split second to weigh his options, then he shouted, "Calhoun!"
A pause, and the door opened a few inches. The thug stuck his head inside. "Yes, sir?" His eyes fell on the two men kneeling in the middle of the floor, and shock suffused his face. He slammed a fist into the door, throwing it wide, and gathered himself to leap on the young cop.
But Hanson was ready for him. Pinning Calhoun with a steady, threatening glare, he forced Hane's head up and back, exposing his throat and the strip of plastic pulled so tightly across it. "Stay right there." Calhoun froze. "Now, toss your gun in here."
The thug shot his boss a questioning look, and Hane croaked, "Do it."
Like the good soldier he was, Calhoun complied, lifting his enormous gun from its holster with two fingers and tossing it onto the floor. It landed only a foot or so from Ioki's left shoulder - too far away for Tom to reach without letting go of Hane.
"Step back," Hanson ordered the goon, "and put your hands on the doorjamb. One on each side...good. Harry? You with me?" Ioki made a soft noise, somewhere between a grunt and a groan. "Pick up the gun."
Harry mustered the energy to open his eyes and turn his head so he could see Tom - and the gun - but he said nothing.
"Come on, man, pick up the gun."
Harry blinked at the object in question, as though he couldn't quite believe his eyes, and whispered too quietly for Tom to hear, "You've gotta be kidding."
"Pick it up, point it at that goon over there, and if you pass out, I'll murder you!"
Well, that about covered it. Tom hadn't left him much room for argument, and he was too used to trusting Tom Hanson to balk now. First, he tried with his left hand. It was easy to reach, and he got hold of it quickly, but it was too heavy for him to lift. Thanks to his struggle with Hane, his left arm was nearly numb, and he could barely lift the weight of his own hand, much less that miniature cannon of Calhoun's. It was just as well, anyway. He couldn't hit the side of a barn, shooting left-handed. Letting the gun slip from his fingers again, he concentrated on the problem of reaching it with his other hand.
Tom watched him from the corners of his eyes, his teeth gritted in frustration. Finally, he couldn't take it anymore and urged, "Now would be a good time, Harry!"
"Oh, shut up," Ioki muttered.
Irritation lent him the added strength he needed, and with a wrenching gasp of pain, he twisted onto his side. There was the gun, six inches in front of his nose. He picked it up, rested the handgrip against the floor, and thumbed back the hammer. Hanson heard the familiar, satisfying sound and broke out in a grin.
Ioki aimed the gun as close to the center of Calhoun's body as he could manage, without lifting its weight from the floor and said, in a ragged, breahtless voice, "Okay, Tom... whatever you're gonna do, better make it...fast..."
*** *** ***
Part 13 (Trekkieb):
It had been quiet for some time, now. Doug didnt know for sure how long it had been since Judy had stopped her cursing and screaming, but it felt like an eternity. It had pained him to hear the sound of her tortured sobbing, muffled through the width of two doors, and it had angered him when he realized there was nothing he could do to comfort her.
Doug sat against one wall of his dark cell. His ribs hurt. His head hurt. His heart hurt.
Harry was dead. It was hard to believe. He almost didnt, in fact. The whole damn night had been like one hellish nightmare. Too horrible to be real, but in a way too horrible not to be. Harry. Dead. Those two words just didnt belong in the same sentence. A lump formed in Penhalls throat, but he choked it back. Giving in to his grief right now wouldnt help anybody.
He thought of Tom, all alone with Harrys body. How was he handling it? Their captor seemed especially intent on torturing Tom, but Doug wasnt quite sure why.
What the hell was going on?
With a groan, Doug pushed himself to his feet, one arm curled protectively around his sore abdomen. He made his way to the door and listened, trying to hear something, anything beyond his own pained breathing.
He sat back down against the door and leaned his head back against the wood. The only thing he could do right now was think. So think, he would. "Okay, Penhall," he whispered to himself. "Time to use that brain of yours." The sound of his voice in the silence comforted him slightly, so he added, "First on the list, how do I get out of here?" A few moments of thought revealed no bright ideas. "Okay, then, second thing: Who is this guy?"
Through his door, Doug had heard one of the goons call their boss Mr. Hane. That was a start, at least. Earlier, Doug had felt he knew the answer, but if he did, it was in a roundabout way. He was positive hed never seen the silver haired psycho before in his life. So, he just had to think about it in an indirect manner, and the answer would come to him, right? Sounded plausible.
"Hane, Hane," he muttered, trying to get his thoughts going. "Hane underwear, Hane foot powder, Hane, Pennsylvania "
* * *
"All right," Hanson ordered, "you come over here." Calhoun slowly walked closer until he stood just a few steps in front of Hanson and Hane. He glanced at his boss briefly, and then fixed his glare on the Jump Street cop.
Tom licked his lips, mind whirring. He hooked one elbow tightly around Hanes neck, freeing up his bound wrists. "Now cut me free."
"Yeah, right," Calhoun snorted.
Hanson squeezed his captives neck harder, and Hane made a choked gurgling sound. "Do it!" The big thug hesitated still. "Set me loose, or Harry will shoot your boss. And if you try anything funny, hell shoot you. Wont you, Harry?"
"Yep," Harry assured him from his place on the floor.
Calhoun glanced at Ioki. He was breathing hard and his hands were shaking, but there was a determined glint in his eyes. Convinced, Calhoun slowly approached Hanson and just as slowly freed his wrists.
"Good boy. Now back up." The order was obeyed, though not without a dangerous glare.
Hanson inched his way to Harrys side, dragging Hane along with him. He kept his arm pressed firmly against the mans windpipe, hindering his ability to breathe enough to keep him subdued, but not enough for him to pass out. He kept a wary eye on Hanes goon as he moved.
"How ya doin, pal?" he asked Harry.
"Oh, just peachy, Tom," came the winded reply. Tom risked a glance and saw that Harry was about to lose his grip on the gun.
"Give me the gun." He cautiously reached one hand down, trying not to lose his balance or loosen his grip on Hane.
The gun was almost in his grasp when Hanes left elbow hit him sharply in the gut. The breath whooshed from his lungs, and Toms arm automatically relaxed its hold on the man before him. Hane seized that moment of distraction to free himself. He spun around and lunged at Hanson, pushing him back until a wall stopped him. A second, well-placed blow to the gut, and Hanson doubled over. Before Hane could get another shot, however, he stepped forward quickly and rammed the top of his head into Hanes chest, sending them sprawling. Hanson was younger and fitter than Hane, but the nights events had taken their toll on him, and his responses were slow. Hane made it to his feet a few seconds before Tom did, and delivered a brutal kick to his side. Tom grunted in pain, but grabbed Hanes leg and took him down with him.
As soon as his boss took action, Calhoun followed suit. While Hane and Hanson fought, Calhoun rushed forward to grab the gun from Iokis hand. But Harry wasnt letting go; he held on with both hands, and tried to get his finger in position over the trigger. The two struggled over the weapon, until finally Harry sank his teeth into the other mans hand. Calhoun yelled in anger and renewed his efforts, pounding an arm on Harrys chest.
The explosion of pain threatened to send Harry over the brink of oblivion, but before he gave in to the darkness, his finger slid into place and he pulled the trigger.
The loud roar of the gun stopped everybody in his tracks. As the sound echoed around the small, empty room, Hanson, Hane, and Calhoun stared at each other in a moment that seemed as slow as molasses.
Hansons breath caught in his throat. He wanted to wipe the blood that was trickling in his eyes, but couldnt seem to do more than stand there, still. He found himself staring at Hane, because Hane had a most peculiar expression on his face: surprise, shock, disbelief. All of the above. In what almost appeared to be slow motion, Hane reached one hand behind him, to his lower back, then just as slowly brought it around front; his fingers were covered in dark red blood.
The sharp-looking criminal swayed for a moment, then dropped to his knees as if they could no longer support his weight. He seemed to have forgotten all about Hanson. Everything, in fact, except the blood on his fingers.
Hanson looked up, and his eyes met Calhouns own surprised ones. They looked at one another for a heartbeat, then the spell was broken and the molasses disappeared.
*** *** ***
Part 14 (Claire):
Fuller peered through the rain-spattered window, trying to read the numbers on the front of the nearest building. When he finally deciphered them, he signaled to Briody to keep driving. This was not the one they were looking for. Briody eased the accelerator down, making as little engine noise as possible, and cruised slowly along the curving street toward the next building.
The two veteran cops drove through a large industrial park full of warehouses and utilitarian office buildings. Rain still fell in endless sheets from the solid black sky, but here, at least, the streetlights worked and an occasional dim glow leaked from an office window. Unfortunately, the widely-spaced lights did little to help Briody navigate the meandering streets and even less to aid Fuller in finding the object of their search - Quincy Hane's rumored base of operations.
According to Briody's contact in Major Crimes, Hane had built this entire industrial park with money from his drug operation. He rented the bulk of the space to legitimate businesses, to create camouflage - both physical and legal - for the company that absorbed, laundered and disposed of his illegal assets. The company was, to all outward appearances, perfectly legitimate. And no law enforcement personnel had ever gained access to this complex on anything but routine matters. All the local, State and Federal agencies had to go on was rumor and supposition - but such strong rumor and supposition, that the DEA had blown hundreds of thousands of dollars on failed undercover operations, trying to get a man inside Hane's central distribution warehouse. The very warehouse that Fuller and Briody were now approaching.
Fuller lifted a pair of night vision binoculars and studied the dense shrubbery surrounding the building. As they cruised past the front, he saw that several of the offices above the warehouse had lights showing, and a narrow band of light leaked from under the roll-up door of the warehouse itself. He signaled Briody to slow down, so he could scan the exterior with his infrared glasses.
After a tense moment, Fuller reached over and touched the other man's arm. Then he pointed to a figure only barely visible in the bushes beside the warehouse door. Briody accepted the glasses from him, peered at the figure for a moment, then handed them back and nodded.
"Sentry," Fuller mouthed silently. He pointed further down the face of the building to where a second shadowy figure prowled the shrubbery. "We need a count."
As Briody eased the car onto a side street that would take them to the rear of the building, Fuller caught himself gritting his teeth and muttering under his breath. Adam found this situation intensely frustrating. He was forced to sneak around the streets in a blacked-out car, counting goons, while friends of his might be dying inside that warehouse. He and Briody had not even brought any back-up, since they had crossed the County line in getting here and had left their jurisdiction. The local police knew about their sortie but had warned that they could not send in any of their own men, without some convincing evidence that the missing police officers were indeed here. Years of dealing with Quincy Hane, on the one hand, and a legion of outside law enforcement agencies, on the other, had made them cautious in the extreme. Fuller could understand their position, and maybe even sympathize with it, under normal circumstances. But as he drove around the warehouse, looking at the armed guards, he swore to himself that he would personally draw and quarter every command-rank cop in that department, if their caution cost him the lives of his officers.
He counted three more sentries along the back of the building. This was getting to be a regular Goon Convention. They were turning the corner onto the main street again, when they heard the muffled report of a single gunshot. Briody slammed on the brakes and turned to meet Fuller's horrified, blazing eyes.
Neither man spoke for a ghastly moment, then Fuller reached for the radio handset and snapped, "That's it! I'm calling it in!"
*** *** ***
Hanson and Calhoun moved in the same instant. Tom dove for the gun, which now lay on the floor next to Harry's nerveless hand. Calhoun also headed for the injured cop, but with no thought of retrieving his weapon in mind. Even as Hanson snatched up the gun and rolled to his feet again, Calhoun grabbed Ioki around the throat with his enormous hands and tightened his grip, with every intention of snapping the smaller man's neck.
"Are you ready to die?"
At the sound of that tight, furious voice, Calhoun paused and looked up into Tom Hanson's face. Their eyes locked, and Calhoun knew that the young cop would gun him down without hesitation. Without regret. The thug swallowed painfully, his eyes shifting to where his boss still knelt in a kind of daze, staring at his bloodied hand. No help there. He turned back to Hanson, swallowed again, and shook his head.
"Put him down."
The huge hands opened, and Ioki's body dropped back to the floor. Tom didn't have to look to know that Harry was unconscious. The recoil of the pistol firing had knocked him into the next dimension, which meant that he was thankfully unaware of Calhoun's rough treatment, but also that he wasn't much help to Tom in this crisis.
"Give me the keys to the cells." A large key ring thudded to the ground at Tom's feet. "Now, pick him up. Gently!" Tom snapped, as the big goon bent to scoop Harry up in his arms. "Out of the cell...go on...stay in front of me."
Calhoun shot Hane a frantic look but followed Hanson's orders without argument. Hane lifted his head to watch them leave the room but said nothing. No emotion beyond vague surprise registered in his face. As Tom crossed the threshold, Hane quietly sank to the floor and closed his eyes. Tom looked back to see that he was still breathing, then he shut the door.
In the corridor, Hanson had Calhoun set Ioki down by the wall, then he quickly searched the goon for weapons and useful items. He found the knife that Calhoun had used to cut his bonds, two sets of police-issue handcuffs, and a remote control - probably for the warehouse door. After confiscating all of these, he pushed Calhoun back into the cell and locked the door.
* * *
Penhall struggled to stay awake, to focus on the nagging question of Hane's identity, and to push back the encroaching fear. He had made no progress with the Hane business, except to convince himself that he'd never heard the name around the Chapel. Maybe in court? If the Jump Street cops really had busted his dealers and pushers, maybe one of them had said something at an arraignment? That didn't ring any bells. So, where else might he have heard the name?
There was only one place left. Intelligence. During his brief stint in Intelligence, Doug had heard a lot of things that never sifted down to the "kids" at Jump Street - things he'd never talked to his colleagues about, because they seemed worlds away from High School. Things like...
"Oh, my God!" He jerked upright as the realization hit him, then he gave a grunt of pain and subsided against the wall, clutching his bound hands to his midriff. "Hane..." he gasped, "Quincy Hane! Oh, God!"
He remembered it all now, with agonizing clarity. Quincy Hane was one of the most feared and most wanted criminals in the state - no, in the country - and the only man who had ever gotten the better of Hane was Officer Jack Hanson.
Tom's father. It sent a cold chill down Penhall's back, just thinking about it. He had even heard one veteran in Major Crimes suggest that Hane had arranged for Jack Hanson's execution, though no one took that too seriously, since Hane had been in prison at the time. Well, now that he'd met Quincy Hane face-to-face, Doug had no trouble believing that he could arrange a killing from behind bars.
And now, he had Tom. It all made a new and terrible kind of sense. The pain inflicted on each of them, while Hanson listened, helpless. The mind games. The tricks. The...the dead body thrown into Tom's cell. It was all meant to punish Tom for being Jack Hanson's son, and it was working. Doug had heard it in Tom's voice, when he cried out, heard the desperation and agony that had nothing to do with physical torture.
With a sob of rage, Penhall doubled over, clutching at his stomach, fighting back his scalding tears. "God, oh God, oh God... You gotta hang on, Tommy! You gotta hang on! We're countin' on you, buddy. We need you to hold it together...come through this with us...Please, Tom!"
The gunshot cut through his litany, bringing his head up with a start and a gasp of horror to his lips. In the next breath, he staggered to his feet and ran to the door, heedless of the pain in his body.
"Tom! No! NO!!"
He flung himself against the door and pressed his ear to the wood. No sounds reached him. "Tom," he sobbed, "Judy! Oh, God! Let me out!!" Still nothing. He began kicking the solid door in a frantic, useless gesture, calling to his teammates with every blow. Pain washed up from his abused body to fog his mind, but it only seemed to drive him harder. If pure rage could give him the strength, he would batter his way out of this cell with nothing but his bare hands and booted feet.
At the sound of a key in the lock, he staggered back from the door. It was coming now...his turn on the rack. Maybe more beatings. Maybe the kind of verbal abuse Hoffs had taken. Or maybe... maybe they had a roommate for him... He felt his stomach roil dangerously, and he had to brace himself against the wall to maintain his balance. Then the door swung open.
Tom Hanson stood just outside, a huge gun in one hand and a shaky smile on his filthy, bloody, tear-streaked face. He managed only one step toward his partner before Doug's arms looped over his head and pulled him into a crushing hug. For a long moment, neither man moved or spoke, while they simply absorbed the fact that they were alive and together. Then Doug's body began to shake with sobs, and tears spilled from his eyes.
Tom gave him one more, very tight hug, then he disentangled himself from Doug's tied hands and stepped back. "It's okay, Doug. We're going home."
"I heard the shot. I thought..." He closed his eyes against a fresh wash of pain. "Judy? Did they...did they get her, too?"
"No. They didn't get any of us, Doug. Trust me."
"There's no time. We have to go, before the guards figure out we're loose. Come on!"
Doug followed him obediently, if a little dazedly. They found Hoffs huddled in the back of her cell, in a state of shock. Penhall wrapped her in his flannel shirt and lifted her to her feet, but she gave no sign that she noticed. With Penhall's arm around her shoulders for guidance, she stumbled out of the cell on Hanson's heels.
Tom led them quickly back to his own cell, and the inert form by the wall. As they drew close, Judy halted and pulled away from Doug. Her eyes blinked back into focus, but they would not touch her partner. She withdrew behind Penhall to shield herself from the reality of Ioki's bloodstained body.
Doug just stood with his hands shoved into his jeans pockets and his head sunk between his shoulders, until Tom whispered, "Can you carry Ioki?"
He shuddered. In a panicked voice, he hissed, "Tom, I can't!"
"You've gotta try! One of us has gotta have his hands free, and I sure can't carry him by myself!"
"Maybe we should just...come back for him, later."
"Get a clue, Doug! He's still alive!"
Both Penhall and Hoffs immediately rushed up to where Hanson knelt at Ioki's head. Judy sank to her knees on the floor beside her partner, her eyes suddenly flooded with tears, while Penhall began throwing questions at Hanson, without giving him time to answer.
Tom gave them about thirty seconds of chaos, then he hissed, as loudly as he dared, "Guys! This is gonna have to wait!" When they fell quiet, he continued, "If we want to get Harry - and ourselves - out of here alive, we have to go now!"
"I'll carry Iok," Doug stated, firmly. "You shoot anybody that gets too close. And don't miss, Tom."
"I won't," Hanson answered, grimly.
* * *
The building seemed endless and threatening to the hunted cops. They had to creep up slowly on every door and bend in the corridor, while Tom quartered the space with his weapon, his finger tensed on the trigger. He led them toward what he hoped was the warehouse, and the van that would take them to a telephone and a hospital, rather than toward a street exit that would leave them exposed to the guns of the goons. Without transportation, they were dead meat. But at this rate, it would take a miracle to get them as far as the van.
Hoffs was holding her own. At the incredible revelation that Ioki was not dead, she had recovered most of her normal alertness, if none of her usual fire. Tom did not have to steer her as she walked, but he did have to keep an eye on her, and he knew he couldn't rely on her to handle the weapon or help Doug. Poor Doug was running on pure stubbornness. Just how he managed to carry another man's weight, when he could barely stay on his feet to begin with, Tom did not know...and he didn't want to know. If he looked too closely at his partner's pale, sweating face, heaving chest and trembling limbs, he'd lose his own precarious emotional balance and wind up in worse shape than Hoffs. And Harry was...well, he didn't know how Harry was. But he wasn't in any pain, and they were getting him out of here as quickly as they could, so there simply wasn't anything more for Tom to do.
Suddenly, Tom rounded a corner, and there it was. A blank metal door labeled "Warehouse." He sprinted up to it and pressed his ear to the surface. Nothing. Not so much as a clank or a rustle from the other side. Clutching his gun a little more tightly, he turned the handle and eased it open.
The vast, echoing space was dimly lit and totally empty. Tom felt a moment of intense relief, followed immediately by fear. Where had all the goons gone? Hane had brought at least six men from town, and only Calhoun was accounted for, so what had happened to the rest?
He was standing uncertainly in the doorway, pondering this problem, when the piercing blast of a siren rocked him back on his heels. As the sound died away, a blessedly familiar voice bellowed through a bullhorn, "This is the Police! The building is surrounded! Release the four officers you are holding and throw out your weapons!"
"It's Fuller!" Tom shouted, a wide smile breaking over his face. He started across the warehouse at a careless run, his free hand fumbling in his pocket for the remote switch. He found it and pressed the button, and the metal door began rolling up. There, before his amazed eyes, was a veritable wall of flashing blue and red lights. The captain must have called in every cop in the state!
As he stepped into view of the massed police, Tom heard something like a thousand rifle bolts being drawn back. He broke stride, lifting his hands above his head. Then Fuller shouted, harshly, "Hold your fire! He's a cop!" and Tom saw a tall figure break free of the blinding lights.
Fuller reached him only a moment before Penhall and Hoffs came up behind. A cadre of SWAT officers converged around them, herding them out of the warehouse while shouting pointless questions and orders. Tom ignored them. He had attention only for his commanding officer.
"It's Hane...Quincy Hane," Tom shouted over the din. "He's locked in a cell in the basement!"
"How many men does he have?" Fuller demanded. "I counted five guards, but..."
"Captain," Penhall cut in, his voice sharp with strain, "forget that! We gotta get Ioki to a hospital!" As they stepped out of the warehouse and into the pouring rain, Doug staggered to a halt. His legs collapsed, and he fell heavily to his knees on the wet pavement. "Call an ambulance! Now!"
Fuller knelt swiftly beside him and shone his flashlight beam on the man in his arms. The light traveled slowly over the garish stains on his clothing and the hole punched in his chest, then up to where Ioki's head hung brokenly over Penhall's arm. The captain pressed his fingers against the pulse point in Ioki's throat.
Penhall watched Fuller's actions, panic building when he didn't react quickly enough. "He's gonna die, if we don't hurry!"
Fuller dropped his hand and said, in a voice like the brush of Arctic wind, "It's too late."
In the stunned silence that met this announcement, the captain slid a hand behind Ioki's head and lifted it so the light fell on his face. His eyes were half open, glazed and blank. A trickle of blood ran from the corner of his mouth, but even that had congealed and turned lifeless. Everything about him had gone utterly still, except for the raindrops sliding over his wax-white skin.
After giving the other officers a moment to absorb what they saw, Fuller switched off the light. In the fresh darkness, Penhall gave a small whimper of pain.
Suddenly, Hanson exploded to his feet, his body vibrating with a rage he could no longer contain. "Hane!" he spat out, in a voice thick with loathing. "Hane, you bastard!"
"Tom?" Fuller was on his feet and reaching for the younger man, but he was too late.
Before anyone could react, Tom spun away, shouting, "Not again, Hane! Not this time!" and started toward the building at a dead run.
"Tom, no!" Fuller shouted, uselessly. "Come back!"
*** *** ***
Part 15 (Trekkieb):
He ran, as fast as his feet could carry him. His lungs burned, but he didnt slow down. The only thing on his mind was Quincy Hane and how he was going to kill him. He headed back the way he and the others had come, through the warehouse bay, down the corridors. His eyes were straight ahead, but he wasnt seeing walls and doors. He saw instead the slack, lifeless face of a friend.
Tom still held the gun in his hand; he clenched it in his fist, pointed upwards, relishing for the first time its solid weight and the power it gave him. He knew he would use it. Hane had killed Harry. He hadnt pulled the trigger, but that didnt matter. Hane had orchestrated the whole damn night. He had planned on killing them all, and Tom vowed to make him wish he had succeeded. He didnt care that he was a cop; the law was the furthest thing from his mind at the moment. The only thing that mattered was making that bastard suffer like Harry had, like they all had.
He didnt notice the tears streaming down his face.
Almost there. He slowed, rounded one last corner, and found himself looking at the closed door to what had been his cell. He stopped, breathing heavily. A second later, however, he moved forward, determined to see this through.
Tom pulled the ring of keys from his back pocket. His fingers shook, and the keys rattled as he searched for the right one. He told himself it was out of anger, nothing else. Having found the right key, he inserted it into the lock, turned it, and then slowly pulled open the heavy door. The gun was in his right hand, and he aimed it straight in front of him.
He saw Hane lying on his back on the floor; his eyes were open. Calhoun knelt near his boss. It was obvious that hed tried to attend to the injured man. Hanson was glad that Hane wasnt dead. He wanted to do the honors himself.
"Move away," he ordered Calhoun, pointing his weapon at him. The thug hesitated only a second before doing as he was told. Tom kept his gun trained on him, and glanced at the object of his hatred. Hane hadnt moved, but his glazed eyes met Toms.
A sudden movement from his peripheral vision and Tom jerked his attention back to Calhoun, who had taken several steps forward. He pulled the trigger.
"Ahh!" Calhoun yelled as he went down. He clutched his right leg, cursing up a storm.
"I swear to God," Hanson ground out, "you move again, and Ill kill you!" His voice was strong, unwavering
*** *** ***
Fuller watched as Hanson ran back into the dark warehouse. He glanced quickly at Doug, Judy, then Harry. He squeezed his eyes briefly against the sight of his officers, then opened them and surged to his feet. Signaling a uniformed officer to follow him, Adam took off after Hanson, hoping to stop him from doing something hed regret.
He didnt know the layout of the warehouse, but he followed the echoing sound of Hansons running footsteps.
"Tom!" he called. There was no answer; the footsteps didnt slow.
The two police officers came upon an intersection in the hallway and stopped.
"Which way?" the uniform asked.
Fuller looked both ways, but both directions yielded no clue as to which way Hanson had gone. But then the report of a gunshot filled the air, making the decision for him. He pointed to the right, already running. "This way!"
'Whatre you doing, Tom?' he silently asked. He could understand what his young officer was feeling. Hell, he himself felt like putting a bullet between the eyes of Quincy Hane, and he didnt even know the whole story. But he couldnt allow Tom to throw away his career, his life over an act of revenge.
At last he found an open door. There was Hanson, yelling at someone that hed kill him if he moved again. Then, the distraught cop turned his attention and his gun to someone else. As Adam quietly approached, he could see a silver-haired man lying on the floor. Hane, he surmised. He motioned for his backup to hang back, and he walked into the doorway.
*** *** ***
Calhoun stayed put, so Tom turned to look at Hane. The bastard was smiling at him! That infuriating, condescending, superior look hed been wearing all damn night.
A rage such as hed never felt before flooded Hanson. Here was the man who had killed his father, who had planned this night of torture, whod whod killed Harry, killed his friend. He aimed the pistol at Hanes forehead. "You wont be smiling in a minute," he hissed.
"Tom." It was Fuller.
He didnt look away from Hanes evil face.
"Tom, put down the gun. You cant do this."
Hanson finally tore his gaze from the man on the floor. Fuller stood just inside the doorway, and he came closer when he saw he had Toms attention.
"But he deserves to die!" Tom looked away from his captain. He looked at the gun in his hands. All he had to do was pull the trigger. "You dont know what he did, what sick games he put us through." Just pull the trigger and Hane would be dead, unable to hurt anybody else.
"And then what?" Fuller asked.
"I dont know!" Tom yelled. His voice cracked, and he ducked his head. "He-he killed him, Captain. He killed Harry."
"I know, Tom. Believe me, I know." Something in the captains voice made Tom look up at him again. "And Id like nothing more than to see him six feet under, but its not up to you."
'Yes, it is!' Hanson thought. He met Fullers gaze, then looked away, turning back to Hane.
The drug lord grinned at him, a ghastly look on his pale face. "Go ahead," he rasped out. "Do it. I bet you dont have the guts." Tom tightened his grip on the gun, his index finger pressing ever-so-slightly on the trigger.
"Tommy!" Hanson looked up in surprise. It was Doug this time. His face was bruised, bloodied, and haggard. His eyes were red-rimmed. He looked ready to collapse, but he held onto the doorjamb with one hand and stared intently at his partner. "Dont do it, man."
"But, Doug "
"Tom, dont do it. Harrys" Doug looked down briefly, then returned his gaze to Hanson. "Hes gone, Tommy, but we need you. Judy me We need you, buddy." He paused. "If you do this, you go to prison. Then where will we be?"
"Hey, he already shot me!" Calhoun informed them.
"Shut up!" Penhall, Fuller, and Hanson shouted.
"Cmon, give him the gun," Doug added. The pleading in his eyes and voice was unmistakable.
Tom slowly looked at Hane, whose eyes were now closed, then at Fuller. The captain placed one hand on Hansons shoulder and held the other outstretched for the gun. Tom heaved a sigh that came out more like a sob, and un-cocked the gun. He closed his eyes as Fuller gently took the weapon from his grasp, but he opened them a second later and sent a vicious kick to Hanes side. Another hand found a position on his other shoulder, and Tom looked up to see Doug standing beside him. He could see the raw pain in Dougs eyes, and suspected the same was evident in his own.
"Lets go home, Tommy," he whispered.
"Yeah," Tom agreed. He wiped his eyes and took another deep breath. He watched silently as the cop that had arrived with Fuller headed for Calhoun, reading him his rights and cuffing him.
"Ill go and get some backup, sir," the young officer said. Fuller nodded, and the cop left.
"I, uh, I shot him," Hanson admitted, waving a hand at Calhoun. He didnt seem very sorry.
"Good," Penhall muttered.
"Im sure it was self-defense," Fuller replied, looking steadily at the shaky young man before him. In fact, both Hanson and Penhall looked like they needed to sit down. 'No, what they need is a hospital,' Adam thought. They just had to wait for the rest of the cavalry to get here so they could leave. Which should be any minute, if theyd heard the gunshot of just a few minutes earlier.
Fuller then looked at Hanes prone form. "Well," he began, "I guess we should see if hes alive or not." He knelt down on one knee and felt for a pulse. Hanson held his breath. After a moment, he looked up at Tom and Doug and said, "Hes dead."
An immense sense of satisfaction flooded throughout Hanson, and he didnt try to hide it. He was disappointed that he hadnt been the one to kill him, but in the end it didnt really matter. The whole thing was over, finally.
"Now, thats a real shame." The three men spun around at the new arrivals voice. Hanson recognized him immediately as the smaller thug from his apartment. He held a large gun trained on the police officers. Another one of the incredibly huge guards stood behind him. "Dont worry, though. Youll see him in Hell soon enough."
*** *** ***
Part 16 (Claire):
Fuller stared in disbelief at the two goons, then at the guns in their hands. "Are you insane? The city's entire police force is parked outside!"
"That's part of the problem," Patsy answered, smugly, "and you are the solution. Our ticket outta here. But first, I gotta do a little clean-up work for Mr. Hane. Finish what he started."
"It's already finished," Tom said, his voice flat and uncaring. "Hane is dead. The man who shot him is dead. And you've managed to put all of us through a hell we'll never forget. What more do you want?"
"Your balls in a sling and your head on a stake."
"Do you really want to add killing a cop to the list of things you're going to pay for?" Fuller asked.
Patsy looked vaguely uncomfortable, but his determination - and his weapon - did not waver. "It's what Mr. Hane wanted. It's what I want."
"Hane got what he wanted!" Penhall shouted, a desperate note in his voice. He was running out of patience, stamina and sanity, faster than he cared to admit, and this senseless bickering with a man who clearly planned to execute them shredded his nerves like cheap paper. "He wanted to make Jack Hanson's son suffer, and he did! If that's not enough for you, then just pull the damned trigger, and get this over with! You can start with me!"
"No, Doug!" Hanson stepped swiftly in front of his partner, then turned to lay a hand on his arm, ignoring Patsy's gun and killing glare. "Don't check out on me now. Please!"
"I can't stand any more of this crap!" Penhall shouted. "I just want it to be over!"
"It'll be my pleasure," Patsy snarled. "All of you, out of the room!"
Penhall shrugged off his friend's hand and pushed past him toward the door. His shoulders were slumped in defeat, his head drooping, his hands slack at his sides. Behind him, Hanson shot a worried glance at the captain. The calculation he saw in Fuller's face made him pause and look again at Penhall. Was Doug really giving up? Had he broken under the load of fear and grief that Hane had piled on his seemingly inexhaustible shoulders? Or did his surrender mean something else, altogether?
Hanson kept his face blank and his thoughts carefully protected, as he followed Penhall to the door. He hung back slightly, allowing Doug to approach Patsy alone. The big goon shifted aside, but only slightly, so great was his evident contempt for the cowed and miserable cop. Doug had to turn sideways to fit through the opening past him.
It wasn't until he had cleared the doorway that Doug came to life. He took one step beyond Patsy, then suddenly straightened up and spun on his heel to land a vicious, two-handed hammer blow at the base of Patsy's skull. The goon staggered forward, into the cell, where Fuller jumped on him and knocked the gun from his hand. The two men grappled, pummeling each other furiously.
In the hallway, the second goon was waiting for Penhall. It was Johnson, the Giant Redwood who made even Doug look fragile, and unlike Patsy, he had not allowed personal hatreds to cloud his judgment, so Penhall's act didn't fool him. Before the young cop had regained his balance, Johnson grabbed him by the arm and flung him against the far wall with shattering force. Doug cried out, as his body struck stone. He began to slide to the floor.
It took Tom only a split second to decide that Doug was far more seriously out-muscled than Fuller, and to choose which battle to join. He ran at Johnson full tilt, oblivious to the man's enormous size and strength, intent only on helping his partner. With a flying leap, he landed on Johnson's back, but the mountain barely registered the blow. Tom clung to him, feeling tiny and ridiculous, while Johnson tried to shrug him off. When Tom refused to let go, Johnson threw himself backward against the wall, crushing the much smaller man with his weight.
Tom gasped, his grip on Johnson going slack. The goon shot both hands back over his head, grabbed Tom's upper arms, and flipped him forward to land on the floor. The cop groaned. Johnson aimed a kick at his stomach, but it never landed. At that moment, Penhall regained his feet and slammed into Johnson, pushing him just far enough off balance to deflect his potentially lethal blow. Tom took advantage of the respite to roll away and stagger to his feet.
Now Johnson stood in the middle of the corridor, facing the two exhausted, battered cops, and spread his arms in an ironically welcoming gesture. "Come and get me, boys!" he taunted, motioning them forward.
Hanson and Penhall exchanged a wary glance that said, silently, "What do we do, now?" Then Penhall shrugged and started toward the mountain.
*** *** ***
The rain was still falling. Heavily. Incessantly. As if it could wash away the entire night and leave Judy Hoffs in some fresh, clean place without violence and rage and fear. She prayed that it could, prayed with all her might that when she opened her eyes, she would be in that place - or in any place other than where she was. Kneeling in the street, surrounded by uniformed strangers and flashing lights, alone. Alone.
Hanson had left her, then Fuller, then Penhall...all rushing to some useless confrontation with a madman, when none of it mattered now. If she'd learned one thing from this ghastly night, it was that vengeance was pointless. It only fed on itself, making you sicker with every sick act you perpetrated, but never taking away the pain. And wasn't that what they all wanted, in the end? Even Quincy Hane? To take away some pain or other? Well, this pain was here to stay, whether Hane lived or died, unless God and the pouring rain were merciful and took her out of this place.
She opened her eyes. The first thing she saw was the wall of blue and red light. The second thing was the body lying beside her in the street, now safely anonymous under a regulation blue blanket. Her hope had betrayed her. Her prayers had gone unanswered. The rain was not washing her aching heart clean, but merely soaking her to the bone and leeching a burgundy stain up through the fabric of the blanket that covered her dead partner.
The blanket had been Doug's idea. He had tried so hard to make Harry comfortable, as though he could make up for running off and leaving him in the street by protecting him from the rain and the curious eyes of strangers. It had seemed to matter to Doug, at the time, so Judy had kept her mouth shut. But now she felt a stab of pain at the thought that this would be her last memory of someone who had meant so much to her - a sodden, blue and purple lump against rain-slicked asphalt. As terrible as the sight of Harry's dead face had been, at least it was still Harry. This wasn't even human anymore.
A figure suddenly materialized beside her, and she looked up to find a nervous, young uniformed cop watching her. He blinked and licked his lips, then he held out a heavy patrolman's jacket. "I thought...thought you might be cold. I'm sorry we don't have any pants or shoes or anything."
She mouthed a voiceless thank you and pulled the jacket on over the flannel shirt she wore. She looked down again, dismissing the stranger, but he obviously had something else on his mind.
"Uhm, my Watch commander wanted you to know that the Coroner's van will be here in another minute or two. Is there anything...? I mean...uhhh..."
Hoffs lurched to her feet in the middle of his broken speech, her stomach turning over in fear and revulsion. The Coroner's van! God in Heaven, she had to get away from here! She couldn't watch that! As dreadful as it was to see her partner lying under a soggy, blue shroud, it would be infinitely worse to see him zipped into one of those hideous vinyl bags and... Her stomach heaved, and she clapped a hand over her mouth, fighting for control.
She couldn't let that be her last sight of him! She couldn't! Turning to the young cop, she choked out, "I need a gun."
"I'm sorry, Officer. I can't just..."
"Give it to me!" she howled, hysteria lending an edge to her voice.
He reluctantly pulled his sidearm from its holster and handed it to her, butt first. She was headed into the warehouse almost before the weapon had left his fingers, throwing up a spray from the puddles beneath her pounding feet. She heard the gunshot before she had crossed the warehouse bay, and it started her pulse pounding in terror. Who else was she about to lose? What other familiar face would disappear behind black vinyl tonight? The fear drove her faster through the corridors, as she followed the same path taken by each of her teammates before her.
She was gasping for breath and shaking by the time she reached the dungeon-like basement. The sound of fighting reached her. She paused for a moment to settle her grip on the gun and pull back the hammer, then she started forward with a purposeful stride.
As she rounded the last bend, she came to an abrupt halt. She recognized this hallway - Tom's cell, hers, Doug's. And Harry's, down at the end, with the splatter of blood on the wall. Captain Fuller stood in the open doorway of Tom's cell, with a half-conscious goon between his feet. The Titan named Johnson was crouched in the middle of the space, in a fighting stance, motioning Tom and Doug forward with a taunting smile. She watched Doug shrug his shoulders and start toward him.
Lifting her gun to point at the ceiling, Judy pulled the trigger. As the report echoed off into silence, she shouted, the hysteria in her voice growing by the second, "That's enough! I'm sick of this whole stupid thing, and I'll shoot the next idiot who moves!"
All the men, including Johnson, Patsy, and the groaning, cursing Calhoun, turned to stare at her in amazement. She ignored the goons, focusing her attention on her teammates, while angry tears slid from her eyes to mingle with the raindrops on her face.
"The Coroner's van is here. They're getting ready to take Harry away, and you guys are all down here, fighting over who gets to kill whom! Well, I don't give a damn who you kill, but it's going to have to wait, because I won't let my partner disappear into some morgue with no one there to notice! We're going back up there to say goodbye. All of us." She leveled her weapon at Johnson, daring him to make a move. "Right now."
*** *** ***
Part 17 (Trekkieb):
"Judy ," Doug began, a stricken look on his face.
Judy was already shaking her head. "No. Now." The gun in her hand was still focused on Johnson.
Tom stooped to pick up the goons discarded guns. He handed one to Fuller, who accepted it wordlessly, and held onto the other.
"Get up," the captain ordered harshly as he roughly pulled Patsy to his feet. The dazed thug swayed on his feet, but stayed standing.
Doug, Tom, and Fuller then herded the two thugs down the hallway, leaving Calhoun behind, cuffed. Judy followed behind the group.
Johnson didnt try a thing with three guns pointed at him.
The mood was heavy; nobody spoke a word. The sound of footsteps approached, and four cops rounded a corner. One of them was Briody.
"Is everyone all right?" Briody asked. He took in the bedraggled Jump Street cops and the two prisoners, then looked at Captain Fuller.
Fuller sighed. That was a hard question to answer. Were they all right? He looked at his officers. For the most part, they were physically stable. Nothing a quick trip to the nearest hospital wouldnt fix. But he knew they werent all right. How could they be, when one of their own had just died? "No," he finally answered. "No, were not." The sadness he felt was loud and clear in his voice.
Before his friend could say anything else, Fuller added, "Get this scum out of here. Theres one more back where we came from. And bring the coroner." With that, he pushed Patsy towards the new arrivals, disgusted.
The two goons were quickly taken away to the custody of the police force outside.
Fuller put his gun away, and watched as Tom did the same. He then slowly approached Judy and gently took the gun from her icy fingers. She was freezing. Adam wrapped one arm around her, and the four remaining Jump Street officers walked down the forbidding corridor, through the warehouse bay, and into the night.
There they were, the coroners assistants, zipping the menacing black bag over a pale, familiar face. As Harry disappeared from view, and all that was left was a dark shape that slightly resembled that of a body, the four stood clustered together, watching as their comrade, friend, brother, son was taken away from them in the back of the county coroners wagon.
A quiet sob broke the thick silence, and each one of them knew that they would never be the same again.
*** *** ***
Part 18 - Epilogue (Claire):
One week later...
The car cruised to a gentle stop at the curb, and the engine died. For a long moment, nothing moved. Then the doors opened, and Judy Hoffs got out of the front passenger seat, while Captain Fuller slid from behind the wheel. Fuller circled around the car to stand beside Hoffs. Doug Penhall climbed slowly from the back seat.
All three stood very still for a moment, taking in the scene before them. The nearly constant rains of the last week had washed everything clean, so the city in the distance seemed to sparkle in the watery sunshine. The bare branches of the trees were fuzzy with green moss, and the grass had trapped countless diamonds in its delicate new blades. All the fresh, fragile, rain-washed beauty of an early spring day spread out in front of them, but it had no effect on the grim expressions of the three officers.
Judy shivered and pulled her wool coat more tightly around her body. As if awakened by her movement, Doug suddenly started forward. He paced slowly up the gentle slope of the hill, headed toward the tree at the top and the solitary figure seated under it. The others let him go alone.
Doug came to a stop at the crest of the hill. From here, he could see the cityscape even more clearly, but he could also see the serrated rows of headstones that wandered down the other side of the hill and into the sparse trees. Somehow, the two didn't fit together very well.
Immediately to his left, Tom Hanson sat on the wet grass, his back against a leafless oak tree, gazing calmly at one of the nearest headstones. It was clean white, obviously new, with a neat rectangle of dark green sod in front of it that stood out glaringly against the mottled grass. Doug glanced at it quickly, then away. He had been here a week ago, when that hunk of green carpet had been a muddy hole in the ground, and he had not planned on coming back any time soon. It still hurt way too much. But Tom was here, and Tom needed him. So, he came.
Tom glanced over at Doug, as he crouched beside him. Doug was mildly surprised to see that his face was relaxed and calm, his eyes dry, and his lips curved in a slight smile of welcome. Then he looked away again.
"Hey, Partner." Doug murmured.
Tom's voice, when he answered, was as composed as his face. "Hey." A long pause, then he nodded toward the grave and said, "With all the rain, the grass is growing faster than usual. It won't be long, now."
"Won't be long 'til what?" Doug asked.
"'Til it all grows together, and you can't see the edges anymore. I watched it happen with my dad, and with Amy. It's kind of a...I don't know...a symbolic thing for me."
Doug felt a trickle of apprehension go down his back. "We came to take you home," he said, trying to project a reassuring, but firm note into his voice.
"Thanks, but I'm not ready to leave."
"You gonna sit here all day and watch the grass grow?" Tom shook his head and smiled. "Do you know how long you've been here?"
He shrugged. "A little while."
"Try four hours." Another shrug. "And this is the fifth day this week."
"It's quiet here. Peaceful."
"It's depressing. I don't get why you want to sit and stare at Ioki's grave."
Finally, Tom's eyes moved back to his partner's face. "I'm trying to make it real."
Cold pain tightened Doug's features, and he muttered, "How much more real can it get?"
"But it isn't, at least, not for me. Oh, I know up here," he tapped his forehead with one finger, "that Harry is dead, but I don't believe it. Not in my gut, where it counts."
"Consider yourself lucky."
"I'm not lucky. I'm...I'm stuck somewhere between reality and fantasy. You and I both know you can't move past a loss that you can't accept, and how can I accept something I don't believe? It's weird," he mused, his eyes going unfocused in thought. "I was so angry that night. I could have killed Hane. I would have, if you and Fuller hadn't come. But now... I don't feel anything."
"Like I said..."
"No, no," Tom cut him off with a shake of his head, "it's not the good kind of not feeling. It's the kind that comes from having everything burnt out of you. I got used up, down in that cell. Every time I turned around, Hane made me believe something new and horrible, made me feel a new kind of pain, and I just got all used up. I think that's why I don't believe Harry's dead. I mean, one minute he was, and the next he wasn't, and then he was again...around and around 'til I didn't know what was real and what was a lie... When I saw his face, out in the street, I knew he was dead. I knew it. And I believed it enough to make me want to kill Hane for it. But that was, what, the third time that night I'd believed the exact same thing? So, why is this time any different? Why can't it turn out to be a mistake, just one more time, like all the others were?"
Doug indicated the fresh grave with a nod of his head. "Because it isn't."
"I know." Tom sounded oddly serene. "I know he's really in there. But I still don't believe it. Y'know, the strangest thing happened to me at the Chapel the other day. I came in and looked around, expecting to find Harry, and when I saw that he wasn't there, I got so mad at him! I thought, how could he go away for so long and not check in with us? How could he let us worry like this?" Tom broke off and gave soft, rueful laugh. "The only time I even come close to believing it is when I'm sitting here, reading his name on that headstone."
Doug sighed, his eyes dropping to the wet grass between his feet. "Tom, is there anything I can do to make this easier for you?"
Tom shook his head. After a long, wordless moment, he murmured, more to himself than to Doug, "It was so quiet. None of us even knew. After all the shooting and the yelling and the fighting to get free, how could it be so quiet? How could he just...leave?"
"That's how it happens. You're there, and then you're not."
"Shouldn't the death of a friend be more...noisy?"
"Don't go there, Tom. Don't start blaming yourself for not noticing that Harry was dead, when we were running for our lives. We all did our best. We just weren't...weren't watching when it happened, that's all."
"Am I blaming myself? I don't know. Maybe. It's hard to tell, when I can't feel anything. I know it's my fault he was shot in the first place."
"Oh, right," Doug drawled, sarcastically, "it's your fault that Quincy Hane was a certified psycho, your fault that your dad put him in prison umpteen years ago, your fault that we're all good enough cops that we messed up Hane's drug business and got on his pay-back list, your fault that you're Jack Hanson's son to begin with... Did I leave anything out?"
Tom laughed, softly. "Probably." A long pause, then, "Thanks, Doug."
"Don't mention it. Come on, Partner, let's go home."
"No. I'm gonna stay here for awhile...watch the grass grow."
"You sure?" Tom nodded. "Are you sure you're gonna be okay?"
"Yeah. Go on."
"Okay." Doug got to his feet. "Call me, if you...if you need anything. Day or night."
With a heavy sigh, Doug started down the hill toward the car and his waiting friends. Tom tucked his hands deep into his coat pockets, crossed his ankles, and settled more comfortably against the tree. His calm, expressionless eyes dwelled unwaveringly on the white grave stone.
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