four corners pd
By: Cin and Heidi
day one: Thursday (cont)
Two Hours Later….
"FC 11-08, K9-16, 11-01, 11-02, copy altercation." The four unit call implied the seriousness of the incident.
"11-08." Here we go; she hoped the bloodshed would be light for a change.
"K9-16." Ace perked his ears and Ezra groaned.
"11-01." And so it begins, thought the fatalistic sergeant.
"11-02." Adrenaline flowed as he smacked his rookie on the back and simply said, "Fight". JD felt his excitement level rise.
"Altercation at Mount Olympus, thirty to forty people, no weapons seen, multiple calls, ambulances staging away from the scene, Fire Marshall and Liquor Control notified." Casey did not bother with cross streets or the full name; all of them knew Olympus and it cut down on air down.
"11-08's around the corner."
"11-03 and 11-04, start down," Chris ordered, wanting them ready for anything.
"11-02 and 11-07 responding code one."
"K9-16's responding code."
"11-08's on location, expedite, it's rocking." Nina climbed out of her car, hearing Josiah and Nathan's upgrade to a higher coded response as a siren neared from the east. She knew Buck would have been as close to the boundary as possible. Her relief lasted two seconds when the crowd spilled out of the establishment.
A rolling mass of twisted arms and legs tumbled out accompanied by flying fists, bodies spinning, clothes flying, and kicking feet. Yells, screams, howls, and curses ripped through the air as the writhing mass gouged itself on curbs, pavement, bushes, and trees surrounding the property. Bottles and rocks shattered and became
weapons in the melee and the disaster threatened to swallow her whole. There seemed no end to the number of people involved.
Reacting without thinking, Nina reached onto her belt, blew the airhorn, yelled "POLICE" and dove in, pushing and shoving her way towards the center of the cluster. Experience told her the main fight started in the middle and everything else was a byproduct of the initial hostilities. She saw a tall black man waving his hand above his head flinch when he heard Police and took off running. It was then that she clearly saw the object flash in his hand.
Quickly she grabbed her mike as she turned in that direction. "Armed subject, handgun, black male, red shirt, blue pants, on foot towards the rear, also bottles and rocks involved."
"11-07's 10-23, foot pursuit." JD hopped out of the patrol car before it completely stopped and sprinted after the armed subject. Buck hesitated for a quarter second, JD his sole responsibility but needing to make sure Nina was okay. He could not see her, even with his height, in the mass altercation that grew uglier by the second.
With all the time logged as a field trainer, Nina knew his dilemma once she heard JD call out the foot pursuit. "11-02, go!" she yelled into her mike. Buck took off, trusting her instincts. He knew she could handle herself because of being an experienced bar brawler. It reassured him to hear Ezra screech to a stop and use the loudspeaker to yell, "Police Canine! Cease all activity!"
JD saw the suspect as the car was pulling up to the escalating
melee. Eager to prove himself and only thinking of the bad guy getting
away, he exited the car on the run before it stopped and slipped into a full
sprint after the fleeing suspect. He remembered part of his training and
called it in, "11-07's 10-23, foot pursuit." Three steps later he watched
the armed subject duck behind the rear of Olympus and JD plastered his back and
every other part of his body he could flat against the side wall. His
pounding heart thundered in his ears as he heard Cpl. Caswell yelling, "11-02,
go!" from his lapel. One hand rested on his gun and unsnapped the holster.
"Rear of Olympus," he reported his location into his mike and peeked around the
corner. The suspect finished climbing the fence and dropped on the other
side. "Over the fence, still in pursuit."
JD heard his trainer's voice blare out over the PA system of their patrol car up at the other end of the alley where his suspect was trying to make his escape. "Police! Stay where you are!"
The rookie bounded over the fence and hit the ground running. His enthusiasm carried him as he quickly overtook the fleeing suspect and tackled him in a flying leap. Both went down in a tangled heap, JD banging the man's wrist against the ground until the gun fell from his grasp. Buck appeared and kicked the weapon clear as the suspect landed a lucky blow and dislodged the young officer. The rookie immediately retaliated and pushed him face first into the ground, one hand pressing down on his cheek, his feet pinning the man, and his free arm twisting the suspect's arm behind his back. Buck reached down and pulled the other arm up, holding both so JD could handcuff him. The suspect let loose with a string of colorful descriptions regarding his high opinion of the officers as they gained their feet and pulled him up between them.
"Shut up," Buck cuffed the talkative prisoner lightly on the back of his head as he turned to his new partner, "You okay?" Buck wanted to know as his own breathing and heart rate slowly returned to normal. The kid alarmed him by chasing the suspect alone. Alarmed, hell! The kid scared the ever-living crap out of him and that was hard to do.
Still on a huge adrenaline high, JD grinned broadly, "Hell yeah." His chest puffed with pride at his first arrest. Warily, he waited for the arrest to be taken from him because he heard rumors that sometimes the older, more experienced officers took the arrest for themselves.
"Go ahead, Officer. Call in your arrest." The mustached man gave him a wide grin before securing the suspect's gun and removing the man's wallet.
JD's grin lit up the night. "11-07, FC. Suspect in Custody."
"10-4, 11-07. Suspect in Custody." Again the times were noted on the incident.
They shoved the man between them, leading him back to their unit and laying him face first over the back of the car. Using gloves, one held him while the other searched the suspect, ending up with the handgun they already secured, a crack pipe, and forty-three tiny baggies inside a larger one stuffed into the front of the suspect's
"Whoo-wee, JD, we got us a distributor." Buck pushed the suspect in the back seat and reached for his mike, changing to the secondary channel to keep the primary clear. The sounds of the altercation echoed through the alleyway. "11-02, FC."
"Wants/Warrants: Keller, Henry Maxwell, OLN: K838692."
The suspect's eyes widened as he heard his name go over the radio. He kicked the window only to earn JD's ire. "Cut that out," the rookie yelled.
"FC, 11-02, Code White."
Buck grinned, already knowing the response. They usually ran when they were armed, carried drugs, were wanted, or all of the above. He took two steps away from the suspect and keyed up. "Take it to four."
Buck switched channels again. "11-02, FC."
"FC, 11-02," Ladonna's voice came through, "be advised unconfirmed wanted NCIC four times, known to be armed, original charge Distribution of Controlled Dangerous Substances."
"We've got the armed part handled," he cracked. "Go ahead and confirm. We will have local charges. Mark CDS and weapon recovery on the card."
The corporal walked over to the car, grinning broadly as he tapped on the window to get the suspect's attention. "Hey Henry! Guess what! Your past just caught up with you. We've got three hots and a cot waiting." Henry responded by kicking the windows. "Don't make me get in there," Buck threatened. Henry banged his head against the cage divider. "11-02, 11-01."
"11-03, go ahead for 11-01."
"Got room in the wagon?" He saw the wagon drive by to the front of Olympus in his periphery as he tore for the back alley.
"Always." Over time, stuffing the wagon ranked as a side bet on setting a record on the number of legitimate arrests that fit in the interior.
"Might need a little help." Judging Henry's current behavior, he would not transport easy and why should he go in a car kicking and screaming when the wagon could hold him without risking damage to the patrol car; specifically, Buck's patrol car?
"On my way." Josiah pulled his unit up a few seconds later with the paddy wagon following behind. Buck opened the back door of their unit and attempted removing the reluctant prisoner from the back seat. Henry chose to use his feet as weapons and aimed for Corporal's handsome face.
The action pissed Buck off and he wanted to climb in back and forcibly shove Henry out of his car. Remembering the example he was expected to set, he chose words instead of actions for the
moment. "Knock it off, Henry. You're not helping yourself."
"Brother?" Josiah grabbed Buck's arm and waited.
With a big grin, Buck backed off while JD stood at the back of the car. Henry started screaming abuse while trying to wiggle his butt forward out of the car. Josiah replaced Buck and solemnly intoned, "You have two choices, Henry. Come out peaceably or come out forcibly." Henry responded with a wad of spit, missing Josiah but infuriating the usually placid officer.
Josiah reached into the patrol car, grabbed Henry's foot, and viciously yanked until Henry slid across the slick seat and flopped out of the car, landing on his back with his head banging against the hard ground.
"Henry, you want to cooperate now?" Buck's boot rested on the center of Henry's chest as he continued trying to escape. With a shake of his head, Buck knew he and Josiah needed to `encourage' Henry to cooperate a little bit more. "Stupid, stupid fool," Buck muttered. He reached down and grabbed Henry's feet while Josiah carried him by the scruff of the neck to the waiting wagon. JD secured the evidence and watched bug-eyed as the bigger officers toted the large man between them while Henry did his best imitation of a wiggle worm.
"JD," Buck called over his shoulder as he and Josiah hauled the prisoner to the van. "Bring the car up."
JD looked up as a pair of keys sailed his way. Plucking them from the air, he started the patrol car and moved it next to the paddy wagon. Buck and Josiah secured Henry in the special compartment designed especially for extremely combative prisoners. As the wagon moved off to a more convenient spot for the officers, Wilmington slid into the passenger seat and directed the rookie to the front of the bar to assist the rest of their squad. He trusted the Kid to go five hundred feet.
As Josiah returned to his unit to follow suit, he turned a cautious eye to the heavens, "You know, Lord," he sighed, "We wouldn't mind a little of your divine intervention here."
Back at Mount Olympus:
"11-02, go!" Nina yelled in her mike as she continued pushing her way into the middle of the mass, getting jostled from all sides. Two strong arms griped her and the fight was on. She turned her attention back to the angry crowd and those stupidly attacking her as she heard Buck roar after his trainee.
"POLICE CANINE! CEASE ALL ACTIVITY!" Ezra lost sight of Nina in the five separate fights that splintered from the original mass. She seemed to be in the middle of the mess so he attached Ace's harness
and brought him out, giving him the commands for aggressive posturing and crowd control.
Ace knew what to do and started scattering college students who decided it was wiser to leave the area than suffer a dog bite. The barks and growls discouraged disobeying his human's orders. The lab also wanted to go after Nina and made Ezra really work on keeping him on the perimeter.
"11-01, FC, on location."
"11-03 and 11-04 same traffic."
"10-4, 11-03 and 11-04 arrived."
Josiah and Nathan climbed out of their cars and knew immediately this ranked as a cluster. By police jargon definition, a cluster was a call that started out as something simple but combined several elements and actions that related in some way, shape or form to the initial complaint and it took more than one person to understand it,
much less explain it. Josiah gave the obligatory yell, "POLICE! BREAK IT UP!" The sheer volume caught the attention of one set of combatants who ran the other direction. Nathan took off after them.
OFC Josiah Sanchez was a spiritual man. He chose deep thought and contemplation over violence but even he admitted with a wry, self-depreciating grin that he could fight. Every once in a while, he liked a good fight. This would be a good fight. He dove in, pushing people apart with two hands that preferred peace to violence.
Someone hit his chest and went down quickly from a meaty fist. Another fool jumped on his back caught in the throes of the mob-inspired drunken mentality of police hate. This one found himself sailing forward over the tall man's head and into the pavement on top of the first one now starting to move. "PIG!" A brawny college
student swore in his face with a bottle swinging at Josiah's head. He ducked and the student knocked out another person attempting to come behind the officer with a brick taken from the flowerbed lining the parking lot. Blood spurted from the cut scalp of the victim and a swift swing put the attacker down as well. By this time the mob understood that more of them went down instead of landing blows. The mass finally started backing away and leaving the area. Josiah reached for his flex-cuffs and handcuffs and started securing the newest guests of the county. That done, he began administering basic first aid to the fools that hurt themselves.
OFC Nathan Jackson chased down three students who threw rocks and bottles at the closest patrol car. Their aim sucked but the intent was there, making them a new priority for the officer. He yelled, "Police, stay where you are!" The one in front skidded to a stop – possibly because Ace growled viciously in front of him – and
the two following slammed into his back, landing all three landed on the ground in a pile. Before they disentangled themselves, Nathan handcuffed two of them and flex-cuffed the third. He realized from the growing mass of broken humanity piling up around Josiah that they were going to need the wagon. Probably the ambulance too when he saw the one person holding a bandana against his bleeding scalp.
"I'm okay, send us the wagon for multiple arrests. Keep the ambulances staging. We'll need them soon enough."
"10-4, 11-04. Status on other units?"
"11-03's okay, don't see the others."
"K9-16's Ocean King," Ezra supplied.
"11-03, 11-04, and K9-16 Ocean King. FC, 11-01, status?"
There was no answer from the Sergeant because he was busy trying to reach his corporal before the front four of the defensive line for Four Corners University pretended she was a quarterback for the opposing team. When Larabee arrived in his unmarked, Ezra pointed in the direction Nina disappeared while trying to keep the perimeter of the crowd contained and Ace from chasing after her.
Larabee gave the obligatory police yell and dove in the writhing mass, separating it quickly into smaller fights. As people shoved him, he shoved back, knocking them left and right into each other and the wake effect pushed them into Josiah and Ezra. The blond bulldozer grinned as he cleared a path for himself; those who moved,
fine, those who did not, fine too, meet the infamous Larabee fists.
He finally found Nina in the grasps of three mammoth college students while a fourth tried feeling her up. Long accustomed to being outnumbered in a bar fight, Nina used the grips of the others for balance as she launched a flurry of kicks into the front attacker. He fell back into Larabee who put him flat with one punch. The other
three tried carrying the female corporal away like a football and discovered her more slippery than an eel, twisting in their grip to elbow one in the stomach while taking out the knee of another with her kick.
Both injured parties howled and let go then found themselves on the ground under Larabee's glare and the sensation of cold metal clicking on their wrists. At this point, Chris knew Nina would take care of the last one by doing…ouch, he hated watching that. The man moaned in pain before bouncing off the pavement next to his friends. The rest of the crowd wisely backed off after seeing the four behemoths meet their match in the smaller female and the nasty sergeant.
"Four in custody for 11-08 and 11-01. We're Ocean King."
"11-01, 10-4. Wagon's en route from the DC." The PD had a standing agreement with the Sheriff's Office that when they needed it, they would bring their prisoner transport van and personnel when required for the occasional mass arrests the university town endured.
"10-4. Status on 11-02 and 11-07?" He needed to know his people were okay in this maelstrom of anti-police drunken hate.
Buck answered, "Suspect in custody, local charges and confirmed wanted through NCIC times four."
"11-03, 11-04, K9-16?"
"11-04, three in custody."
"11-03, four in custody."
"K9-16 and Ace Ocean King, working the perimeter."
"Make that twelve, huh?" Nina grinned as she finished securing the prisoners. Larabee glared at her as he moved to help her get their group on their feet and moving toward the street. The officers sat their prisoners in a line on the curb so each person could watch the other's back for any sudden moves. They called for the ambulances to come in from their standby location and check the injured.
Larabee nodded to Josiah to take the call while he was patting down one of the prisoners.
"11-03, go ahead for 11-01."
"Got room in the wagon?" Buck inquired over the radio.
Josiah thought they must have a winner to ask for an assist; Buck usually handled his own prisoners. "Always."
"Might need a little help." The tone conveyed the aggravation level.
Catching the Sergeant's nod, Josiah headed toward his unit leaving his prisoners in Nathan's care and under Ezra's watchful gaze. "On my way."
As Caswell finished situating her prisoners next to the others, Chris grabbed her arm and pulled her off to one side. "What the hell were you thinking?" His eyes raked her with a vicious, green-eyed no-nonsense glare. Nathan and Ezra ignored this secure in the knowledge of what would happen. They hated fights like this and when Nina disappeared, each man wanted to charge into the fray and rescue her. It happened too often for comfort but that was the price she paid for choosing to work South. Therefore, after the ugly ones, she dealt
"Doing my job, Chris." Nina expected this. Sometimes the men tended to shift into `protect the woman' mode and `forgot' her ability to defend herself or that she picked working South as not to be bored out of her skull.
"Sergeant," he snapped.
She tilted her head and returned his glare, "Sergeant."
At least he had her complete attention, he thought to himself, watching her come down from an adrenaline high. Some days that was next to impossible to get. "Damn it, don't ever go into the middle of mob again. You know better. Wait for backup." He grabbed her arm and shook it slightly. "You're a training officer. Act like one." His grip tightened once.
If she didn't know him as well as she did, she would be royally pissed off at him for dressing her down like this, in public and a crowded parking lot to boot. However, she did know him, she knew he cared, and that he probably hated seeing her detained the way they had held her. Nina sighed with resignation and the knowledge she made a rookie mistake. "Sorry."
"Don't be sorry; don't do it again." With a final glare, he stalked off for the entrance to Olympus. Massaging the back of her neck, she walked over to meet the paddy wagon pulling up to the curb. JD and Josiah pulled their units up behind and joined her and the deputies in loading prisoners.
Larabee cursed the whole incident as he stormed inside the club. He needed to contact the owners of this hellhole and get their statements on what happened. Not that it would do much good – they turned blind and deaf when things went bad. In his current mood, though, he knew he was going to have trouble keeping himself from strangling the fools. He found the Fire Marshall already inside closing the place down and conducting his own investigation. The presence of Liquor Control Inspectors pleased him, hoping this time Olympus would be shut down permanently for violations.
"Sgt. Larabee," Fire Marshall Brian Conner called out. He guided Chris away from the owners, recognizing the murderous glint in the sergeant's eyes. "Tell me what you found."
"What we expected, a fucking riot," Chris growled, finding satisfaction as the owners flinched and disappeared into the kitchen. "We counted five separate fights on arrival. That's not counting the ones that occurred when the mob attacked my officers."
"How many people would you estimate?"
"Three hundred, at least. Have to check the cameras."
"You have this on tape?"
"Cpl. Caswell and Cpl. Wilmington's vehicles are outfitted with a camera and microphone."
"I'll need those tapes."
"You'll get a copy. You shutting this Pit down?"
"I'm going to try," the Fire Marshall replied with a level of determination.
"Try real hard," Larabee growled, never breaking eye contact.
"I'll be in touch." The Fire Marshall inclined his head just enough to let Larabee know his less than subtle message came through loud and clear.
Chris nodded and exited before the urge to go find the owners overwhelmed him, because he knew in his present mood he would not be able to control his temper and face brutality charges. Stepping outside, the line of spectators from the surrounding two bars drew his interest. Their clientele lined the streets and parking lot
watching the activity and he saw they started adding to the rowdiness. On his left, one particular face caught his attention but instead he moved to the group on the right to encourage them back inside. The roving, restless crowd was still too large for his comfort.
As Nina wound through the mass of humanity leaving Olympus, she scanned the gathered crowd and performed an automatic head count finding Chris missing. Two steps further out and she located him in the thick of things, arguing one-sidedly with several spectators not appreciating the fine art of moving back and keeping away from the action. She walked over to help him and heard a familiar Texan drawl from the left side in the parking lot.
"Lookee boys, it's a cowboy cop!"
Nina winced, picking up her pace. Unfortunately, not fast enough to prevent her sergeant from getting in the stubble-covered face of a longhaired, jean and T-shirt clad loudmouth.
"What did you call me?" Larabee asked, his voice low and menacing. The green glare gave up nothing as he noted the fading bruise around the young man's eye.
Blue eyes widened as he drawled out in mock fear. "Oh . . .Sorry. It's Sergeant Cowboy Cop!" His running buddies howled their amusement and congratulated their pal on his insult. The smug, unrepentant grin signed a death warrant for the poor soul. The stern sergeant slammed the young thug face first into the hood of the
Mustang he lounged against moments ago. This action inspired the buddies into making some protesting noises.
"What's your problem?" Nina snarled, confronting the group directly. All of them showed hands and backed off a step; they had seen this one in action. "Sergeant, I've got this one if you want to check the others."
After one final slam into the car hood, Chris released the young man to the corporal. Nina pulled the man into a standing position, shaking her head in mock exasperation. "Keith, Keith, Keith. When are you going to learn? You don't piss us off. It's a guaranteed way to have us in your business."
"Lookin' at a car hood, not your sweet face." The tone leered at her, raising her hackles.
Nina sighed inwardly with resignation knowing she was in for more abuse. Sometimes this persona made her so mad she wanted to smack him but good. "You got anything in your pockets you want to tell me about before I go looking?"
"Yeah, a one eyed snake ready for action." His friends laughed, earning some `friendly' personalized attention from Sgt. Pissed Off and Having a Bad Day Larabee.
Bouncing the thug off the hood again, she said, "Cute, Taylor." She keyed her microphone while holding one arm trapped on Detective/Officer First Class Vin Tanner, AKA Keith Taylor. His fake driver's license sat on the vehicle beside him. "11-08, FC. Warrant check Taylor, Keith. OLN T712347."
"10-4," Casey answered. "Negative on that subject." Casey knew the answer was always negative on that name, waiting the prescribed beat before responding. At least she knew Vin made the pickup site okay.
She hated this assignment almost as much as her Aunt Nettie, having come to care greatly for Vin in the years that she'd known him.
"Direct, FC." She flicked a glance to check on Larabee who was currently frisking Taylor's friends none to gently. "Spread your legs apart." Caswell ordered, holding the man against the hood of the car.
"Y'all plannin' on taking advantage of me, Officer Barbie Doll?" Vin wiggled his hips back against her suggestively. "I can take orders real well iffen I like them. Maybe I can be Ken and we can play house?"
"You wish." Her knee purposefully knocked into the back of his, sending him off-balance, and her hands tightened on his clothes forcing him further into a submission hold. Her mind thought of a suitable revenge.
"Then I don't wanna play." He tried wriggling out of it.
Nina kicked his legs further apart and pressed him into the hood, her body weight against his back holding him motionless. "Up against the car and do what this nice officer tells you to do."
"Ya like being on top?" Vin could not help it; Keith Taylor acted this way; the real Vin Tanner wanted to blush for saying these things to the woman who had trained him and he considered a good friend.
"Shut your mouth, Taylor." The corporal ordered with more force as her hands briefly disappeared into his pockets checking for weapons. She then slid her hands slowly down his sides, frowning at his indrawn hiss of pain as she passed over his ribs on the right side. Completing her intrusive search down his inner thighs and legs,
she `missed' - ignored - the knife in the boot for the sake of his cover. She checked the back pockets of his jeans by rolling the material between her fingers. Since they were tight, she had to really grab for it and `accidentally' pinched his butt, causing him to jump and angry blue eyes swerved sideways at her. Caswell
forcefully pushed him back down into the car while she worked. Once her hand slid in the worn dungaree pockets for a more thorough search, she secreted the cassette into her sleeve and started talking. "What's this, Taylor? You holding out on me?"
"Just my lighter, baby. Y'all wanna light my fire? `Cuz if ya keep feeling me up like that, I'll have a snake and eggs for ya." Part of him flushed from this drawn-out search; her hands were not meant to linger on his body the way they did now. Nor was she supposed to pinch his butt, damn it. She only did this to make him uncomfortable. He made a mental note to pay her back in spades for this humiliation, getting felt up like livestock at auction. Vin wondered if she would check his teeth next. He snorted; she just might and call it a cavity search. He could do without one of those.
His friends chuckled and threw out a few of their own crass comments about their equipment, size, and technique. Larabee's death glare and a few energetic shakedowns encouraged silence. Having what she
came for, she nodded to Chris who let his bunch go as she released Taylor. "Do us a favor, Taylor, keep your mouth shut in the future."
"Nah, free country and `cuz I enjoy pissing y'all off. Especially the cowboy here." Tanner cocked his head towards the steamed blond. Green eyes held those twinkling blue orbs for a second and received the silent message. `I'm fine.'
`Watch your back.' After one final glare, Chris stormed off. Standish arrived, holding a barking Ace beside him as the young man gave his parting shot. Keith Taylor gave her a mock salute from the driver's seat of his Mustang. "Anytime y'all want a good roll in the hay, give me a call. I'll make y'all scream!" He gunned the engine and took off before she could reply.
"Jerk," she muttered under her breath, her hands balled in fists. She hated giving him the last word and he did it so well and often to her.
"You got it?" whispered Ezra from behind her shoulder close enough she felt the breath on the back of her neck.
"Uh-huh. At the cost of my pride." She indicated the howling college students down the line enjoying the humiliation of the female officer. Several faces made eye contact indicating they had some
information to pass on to her.
"Care to reclaim your pride?" He knew she immediately needed to reestablish her authority and offered to back her up.
"Oh, yeah." Nina grinned wickedly as she moved in sync with Ezra performing `crowd control', scaring them with threats of jail for failure to obey and drunk and disorderly behavior. The paddy wagon, the deputies in riot gear, and the willingness to stuff it full sufficiently cowed the all but stupid. The pals of the stupid promised the officers their drunken friends would leave the area and shoved them toward vehicles. The crowd scattered quickly as one by one they found themselves targets for, as they called them, `the bitch, the gentleman cop, and the big mean dog'.
Buck joined them as they finished moving the stragglers. "Having fun?"
Nina frowned at her long time friend and inquired about their mutual friend, "Yeah, how's Chris?"
"Fuming. What'd he say this time?"
"K9-16, respond to front for a scan."
"10-4." Ezra saluted them with the tip of his cap and moved off, Ace trotting proudly beside him.
Nina continued, "Called him Sergeant Cowboy Cop."
"And to you?" Buck knew Vin split his most insulting remarks between the two of them, knowing which buttons to push.
"Offered me his snake and eggs, as he called them."
Buck choked with laughter. "He's taking a chance."
Nina sighed. "I know. One of these times I will find that knife and haul him in for the principle of it. How's your trainee?"
"Proud as a peacock. Boy's going to bust his uniform open."
"Calming down. Give me a good drink, the end of the shift, and a warm, caring woman to hold and I'll be fine. Know any warm, caring women free after seven this morning?"
"Not right now." She continued staring off in the direction the Mustang left, the worry deepening on her face.
The response sounded more curt than normal; her answer always teased him back. The usually jovial man could not help but notice the frown that refused to leave the young woman's face and asked, " Vin look okay?"
Nina sighed sadly, "He gave me the code that he was okay." She still refused to meet his eyes.
"But. . ." Buck eyed her closely knowing he was not going to like what he was about to hear. He also knew it probably had more to do with Chris' sour mood than just being called `cowboy' by his friend, a term they often bantered back and forth to tease each other.
"He's apparently been in a fight, had some bruises," she paused, not wanting to admit the rest but knowing he, out of everyone, could sense there was more truth to tell. She had gotten good at hiding things but not right now. "I think his ribs are hurt," she finally admitted. "I saw he was in pain when I frisked him." She kicked a
rock by her foot.
Buck pursed his lips, "You tell Chris yet?" The corporal shook her head, her eyes telling him she didn't want to. Silently agreeing with her, Wilmington squeezed her shoulder in support, "I think this whole situation is just going to get worse."
Nina placed her hand on his and squeezed in return, drawing small comfort from the familiar gesture. Another one of Vin's running buddies squealed wheels out of a neighboring parking lot in the same direction as the Mustang. She nodded in sad agreement as she absently fingered the cassette in her pocket. On it, she knew Vin
obtained more evidence on taking down a new ring of drug suppliers moving into their area. Vin's insider position helped, but at what price? When was it going to end?
Nina fingered the cassette in her pocket again as she surveyed the last lingering group finally making their way out of the area. She eyed the litter and destruction left in the wake of the mob. They had been lucky tonight, the damage was light, but the feel of the cassette in her hand reminded her that there was more to come. The news she just gathered tonight chilled her. She only hoped that with the advance knowledge they would be able to avert a major disaster, especially to their friend and colleague. Her thoughts turned to the friend she hoped to protect and the events that led them to this present situation.
Just after Vin Tanner had completed his field training with Nina at Four Corners PD, the County Narcotics Task Force started to form a new squad of officers. After reviewing the qualifications of every officer, deputy, trooper, and highway patrol person working that area, they pulled one officer from each jurisdiction to work special details. Most went undercover as drug sellers, buyers, or both. Tanner fit the Task Force's needs perfectly. He split his time above and undercover, mostly undercover. After they received a tip that a new ring of suppliers already knew the identity of several undercover officers, they were forced to find new faces to work the streets. Vin's qualifications, along with the fact that he had spent his teen-age years in Four Corners with less than a sterling reputation under the Taylor alias, and had a thorough knowledge of the street life made him the ideal candidate for the work. It was another advantage that he was still virtually unknown as a police officer. Therefore, Vin found himself returning to a way of life he had hoped to escape from forever.
Very few knew of Tanner's history; Larabee was one of them. Even the little he knew was dragged out of the young man a few words at time, usually after a few beers as they relaxed at Chris's home. All that most people knew for sure was that he lost his mother at a very young age. He spent the first few years with the nearby Indian community before being shuffled through several foster homes. Eventually he found himself in Four Corners and discovered a friend and savior in Nettie Wells who took him in and made sure he finished high school. After completing a tour in the military, a time and reasons going into he remained very tight-lipped about, he returned to civilian life knowing what he wanted to do and unable to do it because of extenuating circumstances. He discovered being a private investigator and bounty hunter paid the bills and kept him updated on what he wanted to know but kept him in the shadows and out of reach of certain individuals with grudges. The skills learned in the military proved useful but the work left him unsatisfied. Vin did what he had to do in order to survive and insure the safety of those he cared about and shoved his personal dreams away again, just like he learned to do when he was younger.
He entered his current career path on another chance meeting. Chasing a bail jumper, he was in Four Corners visiting Nettie when he went to the aid of an officer woefully outnumbered by an angry mob during a disturbance. Stepping up to help the officer, he was joined by a very solemn blond who proved one did not want to piss him off. Someone he felt he knew forever in those few minutes. The officer they helped was Nathan Jackson and that incident led to a change of life for both men.
Nina shook herself out of her musing and took another look around the area. She smiled to herself as she could not help but remember her surprise at finding her old friend Chris Larabee hired by the same department she had already come to work for. She quit the Sheriff's Office Warrant Section at the request of Chief Travis to help get the new police department off the ground. As she thought of Buck then showing up in her life again, her smile became wistful. Her gaze drifted around the area at their growing family of friends . . .Nathan, Josiah, Ezra, even JD seemed like he was going to fit right in. She once again turned her thoughts to Vin and became depressed again. In talking with him before he went under, she knew he was not happy with the job but determined to take the assignment. She just hated being out of touch with him.
Whenever Vin needed to pass on information, he arranged to be in an area where a police confrontation was assured. He did something guaranteed to gain their attention, forcing them into the position of either arresting, detaining, or minimally `frisking' him. Since Nina worked the area of town he was concentrating on she usually got the honors. With their routine of lewd comments and Vin's crass behavior, they could make the exchanges, both physical and verbal, without anyone noticing or getting suspicious. His so-called friends on both sides of the law always found their banter amusing, especially watching her attempts at maintaining control as he did his
worse to rile her.
The radio crackled to life. "You ladies done with the rubber-necks and want to get to work?" The talk-around blared from their shoulders in the less-than-pleased tone of their Sergeant.
With a heavy sigh, the group returned to the wagon and the collection of prisoners there. Larabee ordered the group to do a round robin rotation of charging to keep the patrol areas covered. He sent Nathan and Josiah along to the county jail with the wagon. Their size would help with the unloading process and both could type fast. All the prisoners were transferred into the bullpen of the DC and the booking process started. Buck and JD's arrest continued being difficult, earning him a seat in the `recliner', a chair designed to hold a person completely immobile and unable to speak.
Once they finished, Nina and Chris took their turn. They typed up their reports and arrest sheets side-by-side. As they were leaving, and Buck and JD arrived to complete theirs, Chris signaled Nina that he wanted to talk to her privately. "The office, five minutes."
She nodded and met him in the office designated for use by the Sergeants. The four patrol Sergeants shared a space that was next to the Lieutenant's office.
Chris motioned her to sit and straddled the back of his chair, turning it to face her, a scant foot and a half away. "All right, Nina, tell me."
"Tell you what?" Quiet fell over the small, square office.
"Neen." He used the nickname that started in happier times when they were working together in Nevada and Chris' family was still alive. Adam gave it to her, having too much trouble saying Ni-na, pronouncing Neen only. The nickname had stuck but it was rarely used rarely now because it reminded Chris too much of his deceased wife Sarah and son Adam. It did the same for her.
"What?" She would not meet his gaze.
Chris stared at her, one of his very few best friends, one who had seen him in his best times and worst; one who knew him almost as well as Buck, and he knew her. At this moment, he knew her well enough to see that she did not want to talk. Something bothered her and it affected him. Reaching forward, he lifted her face with his hands until her eyes came level with his. "Talk to me."
Nina read the compassion and caring in his green eyes, something vital that had been missing for a long time. The caring man she had once known was only now starting to resurface, the changes beginning once Chris moved to this town. Once he became involved in this new job. And especially since he'd met one Vin Tanner. She bit her lip. "I hate this," she finally admitted, using her free hand to toss the cassette on the desk.
Chris understood immediately. She knew something that she dreaded telling him and tried postponing it as long as possible. "How bad?" His hands still held her face, his body stiffer.
"Bad enough. He flinched when I ran down his ribs on the right side. I know you saw the black eye."
A dark look passed over his face. "What else?" His voice remained compassionate, knowing how much she also cared for Vin, almost like a younger sibling. Vin reminded her of her brother Rory. He also knew they had some sort of history before he arrived here in Four Corners, but neither would talk about that time. Since Vin had been assigned to the Narcotics Task Force she had watched out for him, her extensive network of informants constantly keeping her apprised of everything on the street.
Not surprisingly, Vin's alter ego came up a lot and she paid well for information from her own pocket, but now so much more as to raise suspicion, and not too much to make him appear as a target of an investigation. Making him a target would put too much `official' pressure on him and the group might ignore him because of the heat's interest in him. They maintained a precarious balance and if it came down to her compromising him, they already had a contingency plan to get the heat off him while `officially' reprimanding her.
Eyeing Chris sadly she took a deep breath and finally admitted what had been weighing on her mind. "They still don't trust him completely. There's rumors he's going to be asked to do something as a test of loyalty. Something big, but no one knows what." She put her hands around his. "Chris, it's going to be bad. I can feel it. There's too much activity centered on this group out there. One of my informants told me tonight that they're not only dealing in drugs they've been looking for guns too. Fully automatic machine-guns. I couldn't tell you earlier because I needed confirmation. I got it in the middle of that mess from one of the rubber-necks."
Hell, Chris thought to himself. No wonder she was so worried. If they didn't trust him, they might kill him to insure his silence. "When?"
"I don't know. I'm afraid to rattle the bushes more than normal because they might get tipped off. I'll do an intelligence sheet, but I'm concerned about distribution. The more people that know, the less chance we have of shutting it down safely and more of a risk to Vin."
He lowered their joined hands into her lap. "Neen, I appreciate you telling me. We both know there's not much we can do and I don't think either of us like the way this is going. The only thing we can do is be there when he needs us."
Nina sighed. "I know."
"Don't do an intelligence sheet yet; let's keep this in the Squad and I'll tell the Chief and lieutenants privately. Keep me informed, all right?" She nodded. With one final squeeze, he released her hands and stood, moving toward the door.
She followed suit. "Chris?" He stopped with his back to her at the entrance to his office.
"Yeah?" The blond head looked over his shoulder.
A half-smile graced his features with a slight nod. What he didn't say she read in his eyes before he disappeared.
Dropping their paperwork off with the Lieutenant, she decided to say hello in Communications before going back out on patrol. Heading toward the front office, she passed the workout room and heard the heavy bag getting a beating. She shook her head and sighed, continuing on her journey. Silently she hoped Chris would be able to work out his frustrations before returning to patrol. As she moved on she thought she would hate to be the first law-breaker he came across if he did not.
Visiting with the dispatchers for a minute, she left out the front door and drove back to her sector. She met up with Ezra a short time later at a secluded spot and he handed her a steaming coffee.
"Bless you," she said with a grateful smile, taking a large sip. Coffee and caffeine kept most police departments functioning and Nina was no exception; unfortunately, her doctor ordered her to switch to decaffeinated. She hated losing all the energy the caffeine gave her and usually doped it up with sugar to compensate but her doctor was right; she needed to cut out the caffeine.
"I aim to please," he responded. "I assume from your appearance your derriere is relatively intact?"
She managed a chuckle. "Yeah. Rough crowd tonight."
"Forgive me for saying this but you needed to exercise a bit of patience." The disapproval radiated from his gaze.
"Not you too," she complained, closing her eyes briefly. "I'm fine."
"You were right there, Z. I heard your siren and your PA."
"When the crowd engulfed you in its large maw, and we lost sight of you," Ezra paused and captured her gaze to his to impart the seriousness of the situation to her, "Ace wanted to fetch you, making the situation intolerable." Ace obeyed Ezra but detested when he thought one of his human friends was in trouble. Currently, the lab
was catching a nap in the back of the truck which he often did during their down time.
"How descriptive." She sighed, knowing he probably was right. She could have waited the seconds it took him to pull up and harness Ace. They could have taken on the crowd together and she would not have become the target of the defensive line. Moreover, Chris would not have yelled at her, adding to his already foul mood. Oh well; chalk it up to a life experience and lesson learned. "Sorry."
The green eyes showed his understanding. This talk sounded suspiciously like the ones Charlie gave him all the time about waiting for backup back in Atlanta. "You can repay me for my intelligent insight by hosting the poker game Saturday afternoon before shift."
Her eyebrows shot up. "We're having a poker game Saturday? At my house?" As soon as the words left her mouth, she nearly groaned. He just had her issue the invitation without realizing it.
"Of course, my dear, and you're hosting. I am pleased you are so agreeable; it will give us the opportunity to meet our newest compatriot outside the hours of employment. I would be delighted to pass the word. Two thirty?" His smug grin softened the blow.
Knowing a master outmaneuvered her she acceded gracefully. "And I would be pleased if you would do that." Taking a sip of her coffee, she nodded to him. "Time to show the colors. We've had one fight; we don't need another. Besides, even though my ass could afford to lose some weight, I don't want Chris ripping anymore chunks out of it."
Ezra chuckled in understanding, having received some Larabee discipline of his own. He tipped his hat as she drove off then realized she never paid him for the coffee as she usually did. His eyes narrowed at the intentional teasing slight and vowed he would earn it back at the poker game. With a smirk, he and the dozing Ace went the opposite direction and made their presence known.