Waylon County High (Pt.2)


Chapter 15

The day had finished rather uneventfully. Doug had spilled the beans with Dean and told him what Tom had said to Darren.

"Tom, I want you to careful tomorrow. That boy concerns me. Dennis is going to take one more day off of school; he is still having some trouble standing and sitting. I have contacted Adam and he thought it was for the best. So Dennis… you get to sleep in again." Dean stated.

"Man! I love being waited on, Angie, you're the best… but Tom got his butt kicked, again and I'm here." Dennis commented.

"Dennis… I can take care of myself!" Tom retorted defensively.

"Uh Tom, you did get slapped around again…"

"Thanks for that recap Doug!" Tom replied sarcastically. He jumped up from the table and walked out the door. The sky was darkening with the fading sun. There was chill in the air as he moved from the porch to the tire swing in the front yard. The start of the fall season in the country offered a smell that was foreign in the city. He could smell wood smoke from fireplaces. He could hear the crunching of leaves under his feet combined with the sound of locust.

Tom climbed effortlessly onto the old tire. He was angry at Doug for not being there for him today. He was angry at Dennis for getting hurt. He was angry at Fuller for sending him in as the "younger brother". He was mad at Dean and Angie for being so great to them. He was angry at Darren for disrupting his life. He was angry at Lexi for being so damned beautiful and so flirty with him. She was jail bait and she was so beautiful. He was mostly angry with himself for not being able to control the situations around him. He was a police officer… why couldn't he get what he needed from this creep. Why wouldn't the people who were hazed and or beaten by these high school students stand up for themselves and tell what they knew. WHY!

"Tom." Angie's voice was like an angel calling from heaven. The perfect women… why couldn't Tom get his love life together and find himself an Angie to settle down with?

"Yeah." Tom replied flatly.

"Hey." She walked up behind him. She had a jacket wrapped around her shoulders. "You want to talk?" She asked him as she touched his shoulder.

She knew him so well. They had just met and she already knew his cries for help.

"No… yes… Angie, why do I feel like were loosing this battle." Tom gazed up at the woman as she walked to the other side of the tire swing to look at his youthful face.

"Tom, you're not loosing, you've hit a rut. You three young men are good cops and you are amazing to watch. You seem to know each other in and out. You are like brothers, the concern you have for each other is just awe inspiring. You're going to solve this case and you're going to nail down Darren or whoever is responsible for this. This town needs it." She smiled down at Tom brushing his cheek with her hand. "You know, Dean and I have had a lot of struggles in our marriage. He's a cop and married to his job. I love him though and I would not want him any other way. He struggled with calling Adam for help. He didn't want to sound like he couldn't handle his own situations. Adam reminded him that we all have to ask for help every now and then. That's what friends do for each other."

Tom thought about the words she said. She was right. Tom knew that there was no way they were going to let Darren Thompson win. They were going to find a way to arrest, charge and convict him for what he had done to the youth of this town and what he had done to Kirk Davis's family.

"Angie… can I ask you a question?" Tom asked quietly.

"Sure." She answered back.

"Why… why don't you and Dean have kids?" It was a private subject, but a question that had been on Doug, Dennis and Tom's minds for a long time. These were two of the most loving people that the three officers had ever met and he just did not understand why there were no children.

Angie looked up at the sky and let out a deep sigh. "We tried. A long time ago, Dean and I tried to have a baby. In fact I was pregnant." Angie began slowly. "I was six and a half months along and my water broke. It was too early. I remember calling Dean at work. He rushed him, lights a blazin. I got so sick when my water broke. I was hemorrhaging, and going into shock by the time he got me to the hospital. The doctor said there was no way I should try to carry another child. We lost our little boy… it was so hard…" Angie started to choke on her words.

Tom pulled himself out of the swing and walked up to Angie. "Angie… I… I'm sorry… I…"

"No, don't be. It's ok… Dean and I have come a long way since that day. This whole town is like our family." She wiped a tear from her eye. "You boys have been good for us." She smiled back at the officer. Her eyes glistened in the pale moonlight. She was so fair; her hair was pulled back from her face. At nearly forty years old she was so beautiful.

"He would have been twenty this year." She smiled at Tom, a tear spilled over the rim of her eye and slid down her cheek. Tom reached up and wiped it away.

"I'm sorry." Tom reached up and pulled the women into a tight embrace. Angie held the officer in her arms, imagining her son being the honorable police officer that Tom was today.

"You know, I often wonder what he would have grown up to be." She said to Tom. "Dean and I think he might have followed in his daddies footsteps. We will never know and that's ok." She smiled at Tom. "Thank you so much for coming here. You have been so good for Dean and I. Well, me… I'm glad you came." She cupped the officers cheek in her hand and smiled. Her tear stained face glistened as she reached up and pulled the officers face towards her own and kissed him gently on the forehead. "Now… I made a strawberry pie and I am afraid that there will not be any left if we don't go inside."

Hanson's eyes lit up. "Strawberry, I can't remember the last time I had a strawberry pie."

The two walked silently into the house guided by the light of the pale harvest moon.

Chapter 16

Tom pulled into the parking lot of Waylon County High. The blue Mustang always turned heads. It was a classic car that had been left to him upon the death of his father. Tom had loved that car and treated it so well since his mother had given him the keys. It was how he stayed connected with his father. He missed him so much from time to time when he would drive it. There were times he would sit alone and wonder about the man whom he had lost so early in his adult years. It was so tragic. It had seemed so long ago sometimes and like the day before at others. The talk that he had had with Angie last night had stirred the emotions of loss up in him again. He was hurting today, but life still went on.

Tom gathered his books and his instrument up and proceeded to enter the school. He looked up at the sky. It was threatening rain today. The air had been warm, still the dark clouds loomed. What a night for a game. The only relief was that if it did rain, there would be no marching. They would line up in front of the bleachers play a couple of songs for the crowd at halftime and then they would be done. "Please let it rain." Tom muttered to himself. He really didn't want to be here or in a band uniform today. Tom quickly made it into the school. He was alone right now as Dean was bringing Penhall to school. Doug was afraid he would melt if he had ridden his precious motor cycle in the rain.

Tom started in the front door when he heard Penhall behind him.

"Tommy! Wait up!" Hanson turned to look at his partner rushing up the sidewalk.

"Well Doug… you made it." Hanson grinned at Penhall.

"Tom, come here." Penhall motioned for Hanson to walk over to the side.

"What's up." Hanson inquired.

"Dean got a call right after you left. Hanson, Kirk Davis died last night." Hanson's jaw hit the ground. "Tom, this is a murder investigation now."

"Oh GOD, Doug… we…" Hanson looked at the SUV's tail lights as Dean and Angie pulled out of the parking lot.

"Hanson, be careful, this nutcase knows that you know what happened." Doug looked stony faced at his partner. "They'll be back later, just watch your back. I'll meet you at lunch and we'll talk then."

"Yeah." Hanson looked down at the ground and ran his fingers through his hair. Shit! This was not right. Darren had murdered his best friend for his position of quarterback on the football team.

The day was a blur. Hanson met up with Doug at lunch. The two officers were engrossed in conversation. Hanson was feeling like there was something not right about this whole day. He was upset that he couldn't Angie a hug like she had shared with him so many times. He wanted to go back to the house and check on Booker, but knew that he could not leave campus. Booker was probably sleeping anyways.

"Hanson, you need to keep away from Lexi George and keep your eyes open in the back of your head. Go straight home after school, ok." Angie said she would have dinner ready for you when you get there and they are all going to be here for our bug debut." Doug jested.

"Doug, you're starting to sound like my mother." Hanson laughed.

"Just watch it." Doug said abruptly.

"I'll be fine Doug." Hanson answered.

The bell rang signaling the end of lunch and the two men emptied their trays and headed off to finish their day.

"Don't forget, 5:30 on the dot… Don't Be Late!" Miss Harner shouted as the mob of students emptied from the band room.

Tom Hanson walked over to his instrument case and pulled out an old blue bandana. He gently wiped the tarnishing gold colored metal off. There was not much shine left to the instrument, but the sound was unbeatable. Tom had always enjoyed playing his sax. It was so nice to have the ability to practice every day since he had been at Waylon High. He felt like he was getting better. He cleaned the last of the instrument off and carefully disassembled it placing it neatly in its case.

"Nervous?" Lexi had made her way over to Tom. He was starting to get the creeps every time she got near. She was lovely, and in a normal situation he would have enjoyed talking to her and let it be. It just seemed that every time he opened his mouth to say something to her Darren would appear.

"Not really, I'm just wondering if this weather is going to hold." Tom commented. Where's your boyfriend?" Tom asked.

"Game night, they have their pregame rituals and I am going home with Bonnie." She answered.

"Are you ready Lex?" Bonnie walked into the room.

"Yeah, see ya Tom." She winked at the officer.

"See ya." Tom looked back down as he sealed the instrument case. He picked up the case grabbed his books and headed out to the nearly abandoned parking lot. The grey sky had not lightened up any and the wind was picking up. Tom's Mustang was the last of three vehicles left in the parking lot. He slowly walked up to the care his arms burning from carrying his sax again. Why did I bring this with me? I am going to be back in and hour and a half.

There was a noise behind Tom and before he could turn to acknowledge it he was shoved violently against the exterior of his car, a loud gasp escaped from his mouth. He dropped his saxophone case and his books. His key was halfway into the lock of the door when Tom lost his grip on them as he was shoved again. He then he felt a feeling he had never felt before. It was a burning, and biting sensation all at once in his lower back. It was like an electrical current torturing his spine. Tom cried out as he lost the use of his legs. He fell to the ground onto his stomach. He tried to inch forward to get away from whoever was behind him when a kick caught him square in the ribcage. Hanson recoiled onto his side desperate to protect his ribs when a second kick nailed him square in the face causing him to topple into darkness.

Angie paced the floor of the kitchen. Tom should have been here and hour ago. He was to be back at the school at 5:30 and he still was not here.

Dennis walked into the kitchen. His shirt was unbuttoned down to his ribcage. The flesh colored bandage could be seen on his chiseled chest.

"Where's Hanson?" He asked as he saw Angie pacing the floor.

"I don't know. He did say he had to be there at 5:30 right?" She asked nervously.

"Yeah." Dennis nodded starting to feel fear rise inside. "Maybe he went to get something to eat with someone else." He offered.

"No, something's wrong." She stated boldly. "He's to prompt to be late, and he would call if he was, we need to find Dean and Doug."

"Let's go!" Dennis moved forward at a slow pace.

"Dennis, stay here, I'm going to the station to find Dean." Angie ordered.

"You don't need to go anywhere, I'm here." Dean walked into the kitchen. His car was found with the keys in the door and his books were everywhere. His saxophone was on the ground. Someone has scratched the hell out of the side of the driver's door."

"Keyed it?" Dennis asked.

"No, Dennis, it looks like a zipper as someone shoved someone into it and they rubbed against it. It's at the impound lot at the station." Dean stated.

"What! Why!" Dennis demanded grabbing his ribs as he felt a muscle tug at his damaged side."

"Evidence Dennis, I don't know where he is but it can't be good." Dean said as he placed an arm around his shocked wife. "We'll find him, I promise." He said to Angie and Dennis.

Chapter 17

Tom was freezing when he awoke. His shirts and jacket had been stripped off of him and his boots and socks were missing too. He had been hoisted to his feet. His wrists were tied together and attached to a rope which was tied to a beam high above him. There was a musty smell to the place he was in. The floor was bare of wood; it was a mud and dirt surface. He could see the dark storm clouds over him. He looked up and noticed a huge hole in the roof above his head. There was a roll of thunder in the distance. A cool wind blew against his body. Goose bumps ran along the rippled lines of his chest and arms. He let out a groan as some one pulled the ropes again lifting him nearly off the ground. His toes barely brushed the dirt surface of the barn.

Darren Thompson strutted up to the officer.

"I told you to stay away from Lexi. I also know that you're an idiot, sticking your nose where it doesn't belong. For that, I'm going to show you what we did to Kirk the jerk. Darren's voice was cold. He drew his fist back and jabbed Hanson in the stomach again. There was no give to the ropes holding Hanson up.

"Aghhh." He screamed aloud.

"Hey Thompson, we gotta go, coach said suited up by 6:00." Danny Weaver spoke up. "He'll wait." The words were so nonchalant as the officer closed his eyes tightly to the pain coursing through his body.

Darren turned to face the officer shoving a gag into Hanson's mouth and tying it off behind the officer's head. He cuffed the officer across the face. He then pulled out a long wooden stick. He held it up to Hanson's chin. Hanson sucked in a breath through the gag. It had been a cattle prod that he had electrocuted Hanson with. He ran the stick like object down the length of Hanson's chest. Tom held his breath as he waited for the next bite of electric against his bare skin. Instead Darren cracked Tom in the ribs with it. Hanson bit the gag in his mouth as a low groan escaped through. Giving Darren the satisfaction of knowing, pain had been induced.

"Hang in there Miller, we'll be back later." Darren smirked as the five boys behind him followed him out of the door. Tom heard the roar of engines starting. He wondered how many there were total. Had he corrupted the whole football team?

A flash of lightning struck as a roll of thunder boomed, echoing through the empty barn. Tom looked up as the grey sky opened up and the first droplets of rain began to fall. Hitting him in the face the water burned against the fresh cut across his cheek. He let out a muffled groan as his arms and wrists began to burn. The surface of the rope cutting of the circulation as the prickly sections cut into Hanson's skin rubbing the surface raw. Slowly the pain worked from his wrists to his arms. From his arms down to his shoulder and along the lines of his body the pain coursed through him. The blood rushing from each suspended limb and back down into his body.

The cold rain ran in long lines across the defined muscles and chiseled featured of his chest. The lines of rain saturated his jeans, causing the material to cling to his legs. His legs starting to cramp as each minute ticked slowly away.

Dean, Angie and Dennis rolled up to the football game.

"We have to tell Penhall." Dennis stated.

"You two, wait here." Dean ordered as the lightning flashed and the thunder started to boom. "Storms getting close… there probably going to call this game soon, can't put players on a field to get hit by lightning."

"Dean!" Penhall's voice tore through the crowd. "Have you seen Tom?"

"Doug, he's missing." Dean announced to the officer. "Is Darren here?" Dean asked.

"Yeah, he's been here for nearly an hour." Penhall answered.

"Look, we have to find him, now!" Dean announced.

"Give me a minute." Penhall took off to the locker room. Once inside he caught a glimpse of Darren talking to some of the other players quietly. The group was absorbed in themselves. Penhall dashed forward grabbing the player by the collar and smashing him into a locker.

"Alright you sorry son of a bitch, where's Tom!!" Penhall demanded.

"Let go of me now, asshole." Darren spit back.

"Not until you tell me were my brother is!" Penhall smashed the boy into the locker again.

"I don't know what you're talking about. I haven't seen that little prick since I busted him talking to Lexi. Darren returned. "Now get your hands off of me… BOY!"

"Let him go Doug." Dennis walked into the locker room. He grabbed Penhall by the arms pulling to get him to release. "Let him go now, Doug… we have got find Tommy."

Doug released the player and slowly backed away.

"He better be alright you sack of shit, or your dead." Doug threatened.

"GO!" Booker pushed his partner in the direction of the door. "That goes double for me!" Booker shouted over his shoulder. Penhall grabbed his gym bag and walked out the door.

"Miller, where are you going?" Coach Ballard's voice cut through the noise of the crowd in the stands.

"My brother's missing, I'm going to find him, sorry." Doug replied as he pushed past the older man. Coach Ballard stared back at the two men walking away from him and looked back at his assistant.

Hanson's teeth were chattering as the wind whipped around him. He was chilled to the bone. His muscles ached. The pain in his legs was like an unquenchable fire. His back ached from the cramping in his legs. He arm pits burned. He felt with each twitch of a muscle in his legs, arms and back the delicate fabric of his skin would be ripped in half. He was sure that his arms were going to detach from his body before the football executioners would release him to finish the mutilation they had started. His chin was sagging towards his chest. He fought to keep from passing out. The cold was cutting him like a knife as the rain continued to fall dousing him all over with the frigid liquid. He lifted his head and looked up at the sky again as another sharp flash of lightning hit something close to the barn. The crash sent chills of fear up and down Hanson's spin as he waited for the flash that would end his life. Hanson closed his eyes tightly to the flash of lightning and pain surging through his body. Doug… Dennis… please… help me…

Chapter 18

Hanson's awareness of his surroundings was fading when a flash of light and the roar of an engine started to bring him back to reality. The rain had quit a while ago but the chill in the air still sliced at Tom's already suffering body. A door slammed and then another and another. Tom tried to hold his head up but the cold, rain and pain ravaging his body made it difficult.

"Hello Tommy…" Darren's voice cut through the silence of the night. He shined a bright flashlight into Tom's face. The officer flinched in a desperate attempt to pull back as the white light blinded him. Tom's face was a combination of a lacerations and bruising. His kidnapper walked slowly up to him and lifted his chin and pulling the gag out of his mouth. Tom moaned at the movement feeling the pain in his arms ignite as he lifted his head. Darren's piercing stare bored through Tom's own brown pain laced eyes. "Game was called on account of the inclement weather… so we have a new game to play tonight… what do ya say, Tommy boy?" Darren's words hung like a cloud in the air.

"Go… to hell… Darren." Hanson spit back in a near whisper.

A slow smile spread across Darren's lips. He watched the tortured officer for a minute more and then turned to the boys behind him. "What do you say… grease the pigs nephew." There was laughter from the group of four as someone cut the ropes holding Tom up. The officer dropped onto his stomach landing with an echoing thud.

Hanson felt the mud from the floor squash sickeningly over the front of his body. The cold liquid goo was soaking through his jeans and across his front. He could here the foot steps of the four students surrounding him. He tried to pull himself up to his knees but his arms had next to no strength left in them. The ropes still bound hid wrists making it difficult to move himself around. He managed to push himself up somewhat up onto his knees with both hands. There was a movement behind him as someone placed a foot on the back of his thigh and shoved him back down into the foul smelling mud on the floor. Tom groaned as the movement jarred his whole body. He had to stand up or he was going to be annihilated. A second movement yielded a kick to Tom's midsection rolling him over onto his back. The officer pulled his arms into his stomach. He grimaced as the pain from the kick stung the already pained muscles. The assault was slow and deliberate as if watching the officer writhe and suffer was the best part for those delving out the torment.

"Wait…" Darren stopped the boys from their continued abuse of the officer. Something had caught his eye. He bent over and grabbed Hanson by the arm, pulling him over towards him. The officer slid like a rag doll over to the young man. "Why this here's an Indian boy… Tommy Miller thinks he's an Indian. I should have guessed it…" The cold words stood out in Hanson's mind.

Darren had spotted the tattoo that he had gotten when he took off with his old buddy Russell Buckin's. He hadn't even remembered having the ink work done; he had been so drunk that night.

"Well Blue Jacket, we'll have to see if we can accommodate you. Get the others and meet me at the cabin in an hour." Darren said to the three others with him.

They had spent hours looking through maps, searching cars, scratching for details. Tom was missing and they had no clue where to begin looking for him at.

"I have to call Adam." Dean stated. He had been afraid this whole time that he would have to make a call to tell his friend that something bad had happened to one of his young officers. He stood up and walked over to the phone at his desk. The police station had been a bustle of activity since Tom Hanson had disappeared. Any available officers had been asked to come to the station. Dean then made the formal announcement that Hanson was missing.

Doug stood and walked over to the officer. "Let me call him, sir." Doug pleaded.

Dean looked down at the phone and sighed deeply. He ran a hand through his hair and looked up at the younger officer standing next to him. "Boy, that would be easy… but I have to do this." He said patting the younger officer on his back. "Why don't you go and try calling Jim again. Maybe he'll be able to tell us where his son went."

Doug walked over to the desk next to where Booker was on the phone. He had called several parents asking if they knew where their son was. His patients seemed to be wearing thin as with many of the other calls the answer was "Well, I think he is with Darren at his father's house."

"NO ONE IS AT THAT HOUSE!!!!!!" Dennis screamed at the phone once it was hung up. His dark eyes were flickering with disgust. Doug looked at the wild eyed officer who ran both hands through his hair in frustration. "Doug… were going to loose Hanson if something doesn't give soon."

Dean had just picked up the phone to call Fuller when James Thompson walked through the door and into Dean's office.

"Jim!" Dean dropped the receiver back into the cradle.

"I heard your nephew's missing Dean, can I help." Jim asked a look of concern growing on his face.

"My GOD Jim, do you know where Darren is." Dean asked urgently.

Jim Thompson shook his head. "He was supposed to be home an hour ago… I just can't keep track of him anymore."

"Do you have any clue where he could have gone?" Dean insisted. Doug and Dennis had made their way over to the duo at Dean's office.

"I… n…no.. why?" Jim shook his head wondering why they were all looking for his son.

"Mr. Thompson, we think that he has information on where Tommy is." Dennis stated.

Officer James Thompson looked at the three men in front of him. He shook his head and sat down. "Why would Darren know…?"

"Mr. Thomson, my name is Officer Doug Penhall; this is Officer Dennis Booker, were officers with the Jump Street Program out of Metro PD. Dean asked us to step in and help find out who is responsible for the beatings and hazing of students and now the death of a student here in Waylon." Penhall established.

"Sir, we think that your son is the ring leader, he's not the only one involved." Dennis interrupted.

"And the boy missing… he's an officer too?" Jim's face paled.

"Yes sir, his name's Officer Tom Hanson." Booker confirmed the mans fear.

"Darren… what did you do…" Jim shook his head and placed it in his hands. His face was white as he looked up at the Chief of Police. "Dean… I…"

Dean patted his officer on the back. "Jim, it's not your fault… but we have to find Officer Hanson now before something happens to him."

"Dean, I think he might be at our cabin at the lake… but it will take at least an hour and a half to get there." Jim stated.

"SHIT!" The three officers and Jim Thompson scrambled for the door.

Chapter 19

Hanson was thrown into the trunk of a car. His body shook wildly as the cold took it's toll on his body. Fortunately the trunk of the car was out of the constant wind and slowly his body began to warm. The cramps in his legs began to turn to spasms as his body warmed. The aching and throbbing caused Tom even more pain. He sucked a deep breath in through his teeth as the constricted muscles in his neck and shoulders tried to relax only to inject new turmoil through out his entire body. He scrunched his up face, closing his eyes hard to the pain as his battered body began to revolt against him.

The car came to a halt. Hanson heard voices and then the trunk opened. Hanson threw his arms up in front of his face guarding himself against a possible attack. Two sets of hands reached into the car and pulled him out dumping him on the ground in front of a raging fire. There were between fifteen and twenty people surrounding him. Darren stepped in and leaned over cutting the ropes around his wrists. Tom rubbed the red lacerated marks in hopes circulation would return to them.

"On your feet now!" Darren shouted at the police officer.

Tom struggled to gain his footing and finally stood. He was starting to feel chilled as his legs still aching as he moved. Tom looked from side to side surveying his surroundings. There was an access road to the woods, a cabin; he could here water in some direction… maybe to his left. People… students all over watching him. Oh GOD… how did I get here…

Darren stepped forward again wrapping an arm around the officers throat. Hanson instinctively clutched at the muscular forearm holding him captive.

"This is Tommy Miller… he thinks he's Blue Jacket…" Darren laughed. He had been drinking. The staunch smell of drinking alcohol penetrated Hanson's nostrils. The students all around laughed and then a voice from the back piped up.

"Who the hell is Blue Jacket?"

"Shit, learn your history asshole… Mr. Walker wouldn't be too happy with you for that." Darren yelled back. "Anyway, Blue Jacket was the white man who became the leader of the whole Shawnee Nation. At the age of thirteen he had to take on the gauntlet. He was the only one who didn't make it through. He was admired because he was the only one to walk it."

"So what does this have to do with Miller here?" Another voice asked.

"Oh, you see, if Tommy can make it through the gauntlet, I'll leave his sorry ass alone."

"Screw you, Darren!" Tom spat.

"Line up boys!" Darren shouted. He spun the officer around and was looking face to face at Officer Tom Hanson. Darren pulled a knife out of his pocket and flipped open the shinny metal blade. He shoved the sharp object up under the officer's neck. "Now turn around little puke and walk…" He forced through clinched teeth. His ice blue eyes danced wildly in the fire light. Tom tried to pull away as he felt the cool steel blade against the soft skin next to his throat. Darren grabbed the officer by the back of the neck pulling him closer, not allowing him to get away as he pushed the knife tighter against the young officers exposed throat. Hanson closed his eyes as Darren spun him back around and grabbed him by the hair. Tugging the officer up next to him he whispered in his ear. "I told you this was far from over…" having said that the younger man shoved the officer forward into the arms of the waiting ravenous beasts.

"Can't this thing go any faster?" Penhall shouted nervously as the vehicle the officers were in rounded a curve far faster than the recommended speed. Booker cringed as the tires on the passenger side of the car lifted off of the pavement. Ahead the road began to narrow as a sign reading "Private Property" stood out in front of the wooded entry way.

"Which way Jim?" Dean asked.

"Follow the road to where it bends and go left!" Jim shouted.

"Hang on Hanson…" Booker muttered as he clawed at the back of the seat in front of him. Dennis leaned forward as a bright orange glow caught his eye.

"Dean, over there!" Booker shouted pointing in the direction of the bon fire. The lights of the cars behind them shown brightly as caravan of cars and vans drove in the direction of where they hoped they would find Tom Hanson alive and still in one piece.

The cars came to a halt with Dean turning to Penhall and Booker and ordering "Do NOT blow your cover right now! You are still brothers and it needs to stay that way for now!" Penhall and Booker both exchanged glances and jumped from the vehicle as it just came to a stop.

They could not get over to the camp site with the cars so the officers hit the ground running. They could here the deafening shouts of the teens lined up beside the fire. Something had happened as the teens had gotten frighteningly loud. The team rounded the corner to see Darren violently thrust Hanson into the angry mob of students.

"TOM-MY!!" Penhall shouted.

Hanson landed forcefully in someone's arms. He was abruptly dropped onto his face and kicked in his already bruised kidney's. Tom recoiled wrapping his arms around his head. It was then someone else grabbed at one of his arms and another grabbed at his leg. They were going to tear his limbs off. Hanson screamed aloud as a violent kick jarred his aching ribs. Out of the distracted corner of his mind Tom heard what sounded like the backfire of a car and then every thing got quiet.

Tom landed heavily on the ground. He groaned as the strength waned from every pore in his body. Tom lay his head down on the ground only to be pulled painfully back up onto his feet.

"Let him go Darren" Dean demanded. The officer moved forward holding hands up in the air. "Let Tommy go now… we'll end this today… right now… What'd ya say?" Behind him a number of armed officers stood, weapons drawn, waiting for the signal from their superior officer.

Darren had his forearm wrapped around Hanson's throat with a knife up against his neck. Hanson pulled at the arm clamping down on his wind pipe. Darren shook his head as he backed away from the group of students.

"I'll kill him!" Darren stated desperately.

"Darren, let him go… we'll talk… But this has to end son." Jim pleaded.

"Dad?" Darren pulled tighter on Hanson's throat. Tom squeezed his eyes tightly shut while trying to suck in any available air. He opened his eyes and was starting to see the world through a fog. I'm not going to die… I'm not going to die… Hanson stated to himself.

"It's me son… we can talk…" Jim stepped forward with his hands up in the air. He was trying to reason with his son.

"Shit dad… we never could talk. In fact, you and mom and me… we never had a real conversation." Darren's grip started to relax as the others looked on. Hanson could see Penhall and Booker on the side behind a group of police officers weapons drawn and waiting. Booker had a death grip in Penhall's jeans jacket just waiting for Darren to release his hostage.

It was then Tom realized the knife was now down at the middle of his ribcage, and the iron grip on his throat had loosened. Hanson saw this as his only chance. He reached up and grabbed the knife and the arm holding it. He tried to pull the high school student across his shoulder only to throw the student off balance. Darren stumbled around facing Tom looking the officer square in the eye. The icy smile turned up the corner of his lips. Darren continued to retain possession of the knife and with a quick thrust forward buried the knife in Hanson's exposed midsection.

Chapter 20

Doug and Dennis jumped as their younger partner staggered backwards holding his stomach and looking up at Darren. Darren still held tight to the knife, the once shiny silver blade now crimson with blood. As if on cue Penhall, Booker, Dean and Jim shot across the ground to where Darren Thompson stood a look of shock mixed with satisfaction on his face.

"Do-ug…" Hanson choked out. Doug screeched to a halt and dropped to his knees behind the officer his arm across the officer's chest. Holding Hanson up, Penhall brushed the sweat and mud soaked bangs out of his eyes. Hanson was filthy dirty from head to toe. A thin layer of mud and dirt encrusted his hair. His skin was clammy from the feaver which had started to envelope his younger partner. A dark bruise started to rise on his chest where he had been hit multiple times. His wrists were swollen with angry burns from ropes that secured his wrists in place for so long.

"Hang in there Tommy… help's comin!" Doug forced back the sound of desperation in his already cracking voice. A young female officer walked over to where the trio sat on the ground and handed a blanket to Penhall. Doug draped the blanket around the injured officer as best he could. He continued to hold Tom tightly searching for reassuring words to say to his failing friend.

Tom struggled as the pain tore through his gut like a raging inferno. He sucked a deep breath in through his clinched teeth and shook violently. Dennis had ripped off the flannel shirt he was wearing and held it tightly over the knife wound. Within seconds the shirt was already foul with blood. Booker's hands were soaked with the crimson life force slowly seeping from Hanson. He looked up at Penhall, terror ablaze in his dark eyes.

"Tommy… don't quit on me now!" Dennis shouted out to his partner.

"Doug… help… ahhhhh!" Hanson cried aloud as pain and fear were taking over his body and mind. He was terrified as his breath was becoming more difficult to catch. His mind registered his body was faltering as Tom was beginning to loose control of his body. He was shaking like a leaf. He was not sure if he was cold or if the pain was making him shake. The abundance of pain was engulfing him like a cocoon. The world was turning grey as a new feeling of helplessness and numbness started to befall him. "Doug…" Tom choked out. He closed his eyes tightly and winced as the pain and loss of blood threatened to push him into unconsciousness. He spoke up again; his voice nearly a whisper "… hurts… please Doug…" Tom's pleading voice was devastating to Penhall as he held onto Tom's blood soaked hand and looked at Booker, tears threatening to spill at any moment.

"Hanson… don't give up on me!" He whispered forcefully to his best friend. "We need a medic now!" Penhall shouted.

Dean and Jim subdued Darren, handcuffing his hands behind his back. Dean carefully picked up the knife placking it into a plastic evidence bag. He carefully sealed the bag and handed it to another officer. Jim walked slowly behind another police officer leading his son to the back of a patrol car. There was a bustle of activity as students one by one had their wrists bound behind their backs, read their rights and placed into waiting vans and cars. The sound of a siren tore through the bustle of activity.

A medic unit was rushed in and a path cleared, multiple people jumped out of the large box shaped truck. They were pushing a gurney and carrying an oxygen tank, an EKG machine, and a trauma kit. The lights continued to flash red and white as the engine was set to idol. Booker distracted by the lights looked over reading red letters on the side of the ambulance: "WAYLON COUNTY VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMEN".

"Sir, you're going to have to step away." The ladies soothing voice cut through Penhall's thoughts.

"No." Doug said flatly.

"Please sir; we need our space to help your brother. You're going to have to step aside, please." She was being so kind, but Doug wasn't walking away easily. There was no comfort for him. His friend was slipping into unconsciousness and he was going to be there.

"Dean, please…" The EMT looked over at the police chief who walked over and placed a hand on Doug's shoulder.

"Doug, please… they have to get Tommy out of here and you are not helping. Now please, go with Dennis to my car. Were leaving now and Angie is going to meet us at the hospital." Dean took Doug's powerful hand in his own as he got the officer to release Tom's hand.

"Dean please… let me stay." Doug's eyes glistened with a agonizing desperate tears.

"Doug, I know these people… he's in good hands. Now come on."

No sooner had Doug abandoned his watchful position the emergency team quickly moved in. The team hovered around Hanson moving him like lightning onto the cot, securing him to the portable bed. They fitted him with an oxygen mask, and putting an EKG monitor on him. Penhall watched as the light on the screen bounced up and down quickly. His friend was loaded into the back of the vehicle. The doors were closed tightly and it pulled away. Penhall stepped forward in the direction it moved almost following watching the back window intently. He saw a bag being hung from the ceiling just before the van moved to far into the distance to see inside.

"Tommy…" Doug looked down at his feet as he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned to see Dennis Booker standing beside him in just a sleeveless t-shirt. He was holding his blood soaked flannel in his right hand. Dennis shook with a sudden chill. The air was cold and Dennis had given up his own shirt to try and stave the loss of blood from a man he could hardly get along with. The two men, Tom and Dennis, tolerated each other, but defended each other in a menacing situation.

"Let's go Doug." Dennis steered the taller man into the direction of Dean waiting SUV.

Chapter 21

Hanson was struggling to breathe as he was loaded onto the back of the Waylon County Volunteer Fire Department Ambulance. He fought desperately against the people trying to help him.

"Doug… Doug… please…" He was starting to spike a fever and was barely audible while he spoke. Sweat beaded across Hanson's battered face. A hand pressed solidly on the bleeding wound in the soft skin of his stomach while another set of hands lifted his eyelids and checked his pupils for reactivity. Hanson drew another labored breath when an emergency medical technician looked up at the monitor.

"Step on it Gus! Hurry, were loosing him…" The voices became barely audible as he felt the pain that had dominated his body for the longest part of the day slip away. He was floating… He felt different… warm. He thought he was looking at himself, but the young man lying with his eyes closed was black and blue. He looked… dead. His face and chest were covered in lacerations and various bruises. There was a tube in his mouth with someone continuously squeezing a bag while another pushed desperately on his chest. Where were Doug and Dennis? Who were these people with him? It was in another instant that he was floating higher. Through the clouds, past the moon… what was going on?"

"Tommy…" A voice it was so familiar. There was a large warm hand on his shoulder. He looked up. He gasped out loud. There were tears streaming down his face as he felt a feeling of warmth and love he had never felt before.

"D-Dad…" Hanson stuttered. He rubbed his eyes with his fists. It been such a terrible week, he was sure his eyes were lying to him. Dad has been dead since he was seventeen… there is no way…

"Yeah son… it's me…" Tom took a step back in disbelief. The man standing in front of him looked like his father, but… no… it couldn't be.

"No… dad, you-you're… dead…" Tom took a deep breath as the words fell out of his mouth. "That means…"

"Tommy, we need to talk." He wrapped his arm around the shoulders of his son. "Tommy, you look so good to me. I've been waiting for you and your mother, but this isn't your time." Hanson's father smiled down at his son. "There is a whole lot of work left for you. Your friends, Doug, Dennis, Harry, Judy and Adam… They need you. Your mother… how I miss her… she needs you too."

"Dad… I just… I mean…" He could feel tears pricking at the corners of his eyes as the older man leaned over and kissed the officer on the cheek. The elder Hanson stood up straight again and touched his hand to Tom's youthful face. "I miss you dad… I love you…" He stumbled and fell to the ground as the pain consumed him again. "Dad!" He screamed reaching out to his father as he started drift swiftly away.

"I love you too son." Tom heard the words out of a distracted corner of his mind as the pain returned with a vengeance. Hanson drew a ragged breath into his burning lungs.

"He's registering a rhythm!" A female's voice stated excitedly.

"Doctor, I think he's with us!" Came a second male's voice.

"Thomas… can you hear me?" A mature man's voice cut into his racing thoughts. His chest ached as the result of being pounded with numerous hands during CPR. He felt a burning sensation on his side and his chest. He could not speak as he had a tube going down his throat. He wanted to answer yes but all he could do was move his fingers and toes. "Thomas, if you can hear me squeeze my hand." Tom felt a cold gloved hand touching his left palm. Slowly, one finger at a time, Tom wrapped his fingers around the hand and offered a short but deliberate squeeze to the hand. The doctor standing over top of the badly beaten officer let out a deep breath as a slow smile spread across his face.

Hanson felt like he was going to cough but the plastic tube in his throat prevented anything. He lifted his hand and started to claw at his throat. The doctor caught his hand and put it back at his side. "Nurse, let's get this tube out of him, get him cleaned up, into a gown and then into a room for the night. I don't know what just happened or why it happened, but he's going to be fine. He's breathing on his own. Thomas, I'm going to talk to your uncle now. You are going to be just fine."

Hanson coughed and gagged violently as the long plastic tube was pulled from his throat. Once the unpleasant detail was complete, Tom rolled his head to the side and his eyes fluttered open. He looked at the young kind faced nurse attending to him. She was adjusting the drip on an IV. The movement out of the corner of her eye caught her attention and drew her eyes to the handsome young officer in the bed next to her. She smiled at him and finished attending to the IV dripping from a bag and into the long tube which ran to his arm.

Once completed she turned her attention to the man beside her, she smiled at the officer as she checked the bandage on his head and then the much larger bandage along the bottom of his stomach.

"You've been through quite an ordeal." Her voice was gentle and soothing to the officer who tried to sit up. "No, no… let's not do that. You have a couple bruised ribs and twenty stitches inside and on the outside of your stomach."

"Twenty…" Hanson asked, his voice was hoarse and almost a whisper.

"Yeah, you're sort of a miracle patient right now. The knife missed all of your vital organs." She shook her head in disbelief as she spoke. "It's almost like you had an angel with you."

Hanson laid his head back on the thin surface of the pillow. She covered him back up with a blanket and went to the edge of the curtains to excuse herself.

"You still have a bit of a fever, but you'll be fine. Don't move around a lot, you don't want to rip your stitches out. I'm sending Greg in here to take you to your room and get you cleaned up. I'll be along shortly to check on you. So, take it easy." She smiled as she winked at the officer and then turned to walk out.

"Hey…" Tom called quietly to her.

"What's your name?" He asked. "I mean..."

She smiled back at the young officer. "Tiffany… no more talking… you need to rest up. I'll send some water in with Greg."

Hanson laid his head back on the pillow again and closed his eyes. He had so much to think about what had happened, how is it possible a knife to the stomach which is nearly always fatal not kill him, and did he really see his father. He really needed to rest his throat was on fire and his head pounding. The pain in his chest was unquenchable, probably a bruised rib from the continuous thrusts of CPR. What a day it had been…

Chapter 22

"I can't explain it folks, he has a couple bruised ribs, a mild concussion and a large number of bumps and bruises. The lacerations on his wrists need to be treated as burns and he has twenty stitches where he was cut with the knife. Now, the stitches are on the inside of his stomach and the outside. The ones on the inside will dissolve, and he will have to have the outer ones removed. He will need to be kept still for a while so he doesn't rip any of those stitches out. He's going to feel some pain, well, a lot of pain for a while, but he is going to be fine! Were going to hold him for about a week to be sure that he is ok and he doesn't have any complications." The doctor advised the people waiting. Angie had arrived shortly after the ambulance had gotten to the hospital. She had been sitting next to Dean and Doug gripping both of their hands tightly.

"What a relief…" she breathed a deep breath. She wrapped both arms around Doug and then Dean. She then grabbed Booker around his narrow waist for a hug. Booker looked down at the older women. His eyes flickered with a showing of relief. She reached up and brushed her hand along the officer's cheek. "You have both scared the breath out of me… but I'm glad you're okay. She smiled at Booker who leaned over and gave her a kiss on the cheek.

"Aunt Angie… you're the best." Booker stated back to the motherly women in front of him. Angie smiled a prideful smile back at the young officer. She felt such joy know the boys had done what they had been called to do. They had made her so proud.

"Can we see him" Penhall blurted out. He had been beside himself when he had found out the EMT's had been performing CPR on his best friend. He had choked back tears when he had seen the people pounding on the young mans chest. Angie and Booker had fought to hold the officer in the waiting room as the seconds ticked by felling like hours.

"You can see him, they are getting him settled into a room, but five minutes and that's it! He is in room 215. Remember in and out, he needs to get some rest.

"Yes Doctor!" the officers spoke in unison as they had zipped past him and down the hallway to the officer's room.

"Dean…" Angie's voice caught the officers attention, his eyes were blood shot from tear and lack of sleep.

"Let's give them a few minutes and then we will go get them and say hi." He smiled back at his wife.

"Ok baby." She nodded in agreement.

"Dean…" The doctor caught Dean Miller's attention.

"Yes doc." He answered.
"You have a good group of boys here." He smiled back at Dean.

"I know…" Dean answered the doctor smiling in return. He knew they were good boys. Hanson, Penhall, and Booker had stepped up and taken a huge case on. They had surprised him with how well they had done. He had been skeptical of the whole Jump Street program, but he stood corrected. Complete strangers came in and put their lives on the line for kids they had not even known. They had been bullied, beaten and kidnapped; but the end result… they had arrested twenty plus students and put a stop to the fear of a lot of students. How could he ever repay these boys for what they had done to help? He wished that they would be able to keep the boys with them, but he also knew they had lives and a job awaiting them in the city. Perhaps it was time to talk to Angie about adopting a child… perhaps…

"Let's go babe." Angie stated with a wink. She caught Dean's eye and the officer smiled back. They walked hand in hand down the hallway to Hanson's room.

"Hanson…" Penhall's fingers brushed the sleeping officer's hair off of his brow. Tom's eyes fluttered open as he felt a hand take his hand in their own.

"Doug?" Hanson's voice was very hoarse as he spoke.

"Yeah Tommy…" He answered. Penhall felt a tear run down his cheek as the emotions of the day flooded over him again. Fear had taken him over as he remembered how he felt when he had been told Hanson was missing and the terror as they watched a teenager run a knife into his friend. The emotional trauma was so much to carry. He thought that he was going to loose Tom and then with all he and the others had seen when the medic's had wheel the stretcher into the hospital from Dean's SUV. "Dennis is here too." Penhall added his voice hushed and gentle.

"Good…" Hanson added. His voice trailed off as his eyes drooped and closed again.

Penhall laid his partners hand down at his side when he heard the door open behind him, turning he watched Dean and Angela Miller walk into the room together. Her bright eyes dimmed in despair as she saw looked at Hanson lying helpless in the bed. She stood by her husband for a moment clutching his hand and rubbing his shoulder. Dean pulled his hand out of hers and wrapped his protective arm around her shoulder. She looked up at her husband and the two stepped towards the young officers.

"How is he… Doug?" Angie asked as she swallowed hard, the look of concern spreading across her face. She could see his handsome youthful features shrouded with bruises and cuts. She moved over to the bed to where the officer lay sleeping. She brushed her fingers across his face and then took his other hand. He had a three small butterfly bandages at the corner of his lip and a larger Band-Aid on his forehead just above his right brow. Her heart melted as she heard the big man standing next to her take a ragged breath. She looked up at Doug who looked back down at her. There were tears welling up in the officer's eyes. Gently she lay the Hanson's hand back down on the bed and reached up to brush the tears off of Penhall's face.

"He's going to be fine sweetheart." She smiled back at Doug.

"I know… it's just…"

"Today…" She interrupted him.

"Yeah, I mean… first he disappears and then we find him to see him have a blade… shoved…" Doug tried to finish his thought.

"It's ok… we are all feeling this right now. Honey… he needs us to be strong for him right now. It's ok to cry, just be strong when he needs you to be.

Penhall ran his hand through his ungroomed hair and looked down at the floor. He felt a bit of shame since he let his guard down showing his emotions to them. He knew she was right, he needed to let his feelings show, but Tom… they had almost lost Tom. He felt sick to his stomach as he thought about it. Doug had always tried to protect Tom from what he could not protect himself from; and Tom had done the same for him. They were best friends and great partners together. It ate him up on the inside to watch his best friend lay in a hospital bed. He had tried to help Hanson… he had tried.

"Boys, we need to go. We have some reports to fill out and then you all need some rest." Dean stated quietly. He had been observing his wife trying to console Penhall; he had thought to himself that she had missed her calling in life. She needed to be a grief and stress counselor. She was amazing to watch. Dean placed a gentle hand on Booker's shoulder and slowly started to move away.

"Dean…" Booker turned and looked at his superior officer. Booker's eyes reflected exhaustion and pain. It had only been a couple of days since they were all at the same hospital dealing with Booker's injuries. The young officer had sustained bruised ribs at the hands of the same kid. "Sir… what's going to happen with Darren?" Booker looked down at the floor and then up at the officer. His eyes were aflame with anger and confusion.

"Dennis, he's going to do some jail time. He beat and murdered Kirk, he beat countless others and… well… he's going to have to answer for that. Jim, he's the one I worry about out of all this. He just lost his wife and now… his son…" Dean shook his head and looked at the floor. Dennis could feel the grief of the chief of police as he watched his fellow officer suffer the shame of a guilt which was not his to carry. "Come on you…" he forced as smile and patted the young officer on the back. Dean stepped towards Tom. He watched as the other said goodbye and left. "Ang…" Dean spoke up to his wife.

"Yeah." She said softly.

"I'll be out in a second." Dean finished. Angie smiled softly and closed the door behind Booker.

"We'll be waiting." She answered back.

Dean made his way over to the bed where Tom Hanson lay sleeping. He reached for the young mans hand. Gently he picked it up and held it next to his chest. With his free hand he brushed at Tom's dark wavy locks. The boy was not much older than his son would have been. He had watched the bond develop between Hanson and Angie. He had felt that same bond with him as they had sat and laughed over a pizza and cokes. His heart had ached when he watched the other boys, officers, anguish at his disappearance. He felt the shroud of death when they were sure he was going to be lost to a knife wound and the utter joy when the doctor said he would live. He felt a tear of pride and relief prick at his eyes. "Thank you so much Tommy." He stated softly to the sleeping man. "I don't know where we would have been without you and Doug and Dennis." He felt the tear escape his eye and glide softly down his cheek. He closed his eyes and spoke again, "Thank you GOD for bringing me these boys and just help them to all get healthy again and please bless them in their lives that lie ahead…"

Dean lay Tom's hand back down and brushed another tear from his own eye. He gently pulled the sheets up higher on the injured officer's chest and tucked them gently around him. "Sleep well my boy…" he whispered and then walked silently away.

Chapter 23

Hanson's head rolled to the right and then to the left as his eyes began to flutter open. Once awake his eyes then registered the sight of the beautiful angel sitting in the chair next to him. She was sleeping soundly. Her hair falling loosely around her creamy colored face, her jacket was draped over her as a makeshift blanket. The officer slowly reached his hand out and touched her gently on the knee. She jumped and then saw where the hand was coming from.

"Tommy…" She stood up from the reclining chair her jacket falling in a heap in the floor at her side. Gently she reached up and took the officers hand in her own. "How are you feeling sweetie?" Her radiant smile glistened from ear to ear. She was happy to see him awake again. She was better than a mother. She was his Aunt Angie! He wondered silently to himself, would mom and dad's brothers and sisters been like this?

"Tired… hurts a little right now… just really tired." He answered quietly. He hadn't quite gotten his voice back. He was still able to squeeze out a slight smile. The effort to move was still slightly difficult and if he moved to quickly the recently stitched knife wound in his stomach would sing "Dixie". The knife may not have killed him, but there were times he was thinking that the pain just might. It was intense from time to time. He was thankful that Angie had been there when he woke up. He was beginning to feel a little Closter phobic in the white washed walled room. She could make him feel better with little to no effort. She was so amazing. She made him feel safe. Angie and mom would get along so well.

Angie's eyes glimmered as she looked down at the young officer. He was such a brave young man. She had been so proud of how the three boys had been so protective of each other during the whole ordeal in Waylon. She knew that they were used to a different kind of police work. They had come into this town sure that there could be nothing that would be harder than what they dealt with in the Metro area. She knew that being in the country was not the kind of place they had wanted to go and spend anytime. Adam Fuller had called to check in on them and she had talked to about the boys to him. She had laughed about "Officer Milk Carton" and at how Hanson had not wanted to be the younger brother. She felt tears pricking at her eyes as she thought about how the young men would be departing and returning back to their lives in the city soon. She had grown to love the boys so much and Tom… well Tommy Hanson had stolen her heart. He was exactly who her son would have become today. Quickly she blinked back the tears as she responded. "Doug and Dennis will be here later. Dean made them go home and get some sleep. They protested at first, but it was obvious they were exhausted. They weren't in the door ten minutes and they were both asleep." Angie stroked the young officer's hair as he looked up at her with his sleepy brown eyes. "You look much better young man." Her eyes glittered as she leaned over and kissed the young man on the forehead. "Now, close your eyes sweetie and get some rest. I'm going to head out for a second and then I'll be right back in here."

"Angie…" Hanson's raspy voice was just above a whisper. "Could I have some water?" He asked. Angie looked at him and then around the room for a cup and a straw.

"Of course baby… I'll get you some. I'll be right back." Gently she reached up and ruffled his hair and turned to walk out the door, pulling it closed behind her. The bed was soft and warm, as Tom pulled the white blanket tighter around his neck. Booker and Doug were ok; he knew they would be in later. He was sure that Fuller would also be in later that day. He could feel his eyes drooping again as his connection with reality started to go away. He yawned as he looked around the room one last time, his eyes settled on the white marker board in front of his bed. The smeared letters next to the words "NURSE ON DUTY: TIFFANY" caught his eye. He smiled slightly as he closed his eyes and fell asleep again.

The End… For Now

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