Midwatch

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Chapter 31: Nightmare

My God, he’s bleeding everywhere! I can’t stop it! He’s hit too many times! I can’t stop the bleeding!

“Harper! Harper, don’t move! Don’t move, all right? You’re bleeding! Oh, God! You’re hit! He shot you!”

“Yeah. I know.”

“Just…just don’t move! Just don’t move! Try to breathe! Help’s coming! They’ll be here any second, now!”

“Are you sure…sure you’re all right? Dani? Are you sure?”

“I’m fine! You pushed me out of the way! You saved my life! You saved my life, Harper!”

Oh, my God! He’s shot in the chest! It missed the vest! It’s bad! It’s really bad! Oh, God! His neck! He’s shot in the neck! It’s through-and-through! Did it hit the artery? Oh, God! Is he bleeding to death? I have to stop it! Stop the bleeding! Please! Please, God! Please don’t let him die! Please!

“Sixteen Central! Officer down! My partner’s been shot! He’s shot in the chest! He’s shot…so many times! Please help us! Please! Somebody please help us! We need help! Somebody please help us!”

“It’s OK, Dani. It’s not too bad. Not too bad. I think…I think the vest got the…got the worst of it.”

Is he trying to stand up? Is he out of his goddamned mind?

“Lie still! I’ve got you, Harper! I’ve got you! Just hold onto me! I’ve got you!”

“Thank God you’re not…you’re not hurt.”

“I’m fine! Just hold on, Harper! Hold onto me! Please! Please hold onto me!”

“Oh, God! It hurts! It hurts! Jesus Christ, it hurts!”

He can’t breathe! His breathing…it’s…it’s not…not right! It’s not right! I have to stop the bleeding! I have to stop the bleeding! He’s bleeding to death! Oh, God! I don’t know what to do! I don’t know what to do! Please, God! Tell me what to do! Please don’t let him die! Please! Please don’t let him die!

“Harper, don’t move! Don’t try to move! You’re bleeding! I don’t…I have to stop it! Stop the bleeding! I don’t know…I don’t know what to do! I’m sorry! I’m so sorry! Please don’t die, Harper! Please don’t die! Somebody help me! My partner’s been shot! Somebody! Anybody! He needs help! Somebody please!

“It’s OK, Dani. It’s OK. Don’t cry. I’m OK. It’s not so bad. Really. I just need to…need to catch my breath. That’s all. Don’t cry. I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying right here.”

“You promise me?”

“I promise. I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to stay right…oh, fuck! Fuck! That hurts! That really hurts!”

“Harper, please don’t try to move! Just stay still! Please stay still! I’ve got you! I’ve got you! I’m not letting go! I won’t let go!”

He’s bleeding too much! There’s too much blood! Oh, God! His neck! He got shot in the neck! I have to do something! I have to stop the bleeding! I can’t! I can’t make it stop! It won’t stop! God, please make it stop! Where is everybody? God damn it! Where are they? Where is everybody?

“I think maybe I’ll just…lay here…for a while. I don’t feel so good. Oh, I don’t feel so good!”

“You stupid…! Harper, what were you thinking?”

“I saw it. I saw…the gun. I saw it. I saw Ricky. I had to get you…get you clear. There’s no cover.”

“So you pushed me away and took the hit?”

“I had to. Got to look out…look out for my…partner. My partner comes first. Yow always come first. Always.”

“You stupid, stupid! Why did you do that, Harper? Why did you do that for me? Why?”

“I think you know…why. Oh, shit! Oh, shit! Shit!”

“Harper! Harper!”

“OK! OK! That hurts! Oh, that fucking hurts!”

Oh, God! Please! Please! Do something! Please don’t let him die! Please! I don’t know what to do! The first aid kit’s in the car! It’s too far away! I can’t leave him! I can’t!

“Just stay with me, Harper! Please! You stay with me!”

“I’m not going....”

“Where is everybody? Where the fuck are they? Somebody help me! Please help me! He’s dying! Oh, God! He’s dying! Somebody please help me!”

“They’re coming, Dani. They’re on their way. Soon. Real soon.”

“You just hang on! They’re coming! They’re going to be here any second, now!”

God, he’s bleeding so much! It’s everywhere! His neck! His chest! I can’t stop it! I can’t stop the bleeding! Oh, God! There’s so much blood! It’s all over him! It’s all over me! I can’t make it stop!

“Harper, I’ve got to stop the bleeding! I’ve got to do something! I don’t know what to do! Tell me what to do! Please!”

“Press your hand…press…”

“Press where? Please, Harper! Tell me what to do!”

“Press…on the chest…chest wound. Press hard.”

“OK. OK, like this?”

“Oh, shit!

“I’m sorry! Harper, I’m sorry!”

“No! Keep…keep pressure…on it! Press! Even if…even if it hurts. You have to!”

“All right. I’ll do it! I’ll do it! I’m sorry! I’m sorry, Harper!”

“Oh, God!

“I know! I know it hurts! I know it hurts! But I have to stop the bleeding! I have to stop the bleeding! I’m sorry, Harper! I’m sorry!”

He’s stopped talking! He’s not talking! He’s not…he can’t! No! No! Oh, God! Please don’t let him die! Please don’t!

“Harper! Harper, don’t do this to me! Don’t do this to me! You hang on! Harper! Harper, say something! Don’t do this to me! Please don’t do this to me!”

“What? It’s OK, Dani. It’s all right. I’m still here. Just kind of…kind of blacked out for a second.”

“Don’t you do that to me again! You hear me! You stay with me!”

“I will. I will. Always. I always…listen to you.”

“That’s right! You always listen to me! Always!

“You’re the boss. Hey, Dani? You have to…cuff him. Cuff him.”

“Cuff him? Ricky? Fuck him! He’s dead!”

“Are you…are you sure?”

“You shot his fucking head off! Or I did! One of us! We got him!”

One of us got him! Fuck him! We shot him in the head! Good! Fucking burn in hell, motherfucker!

“We got him. I’m proud of you, partner. That…that was some…some damned good…Dani! I can’t…can’t…breathe!”

“Harper! Harper! Harper, what’s wrong? What’s wrong?”

He’s coughing blood! God, is it his lungs? Is he…yes…yes, he’s breathing! He’s still breathing!”

“Harper, please hang on! Don’t you die on me! Please don’t you die on me!”

“I won’t. I won’t die. I promise.”

“That’s right! You promise me!”

“Don’t cry, Dani. You wouldn’t want them…to see you like that. Hey! Look! We’ve got company!”

Where? Where are…the air unit! There’s the air unit!

“Air Three is over the officer needs help call, 9th and Palomar. Guys, this is a bad one! We’ve got one two people down, and they’re not moving! One by the wall, one by the officers! We’ve got two officers in the lot; one of them is definitely down! He looks pretty bad! There’s a lot of blood down there! His partner’s hanging onto him! Guys, they’re all alone down there! They’re right out in the open, no cover! These guys need help fast! Air Three to the officers in the parking lot, just hang on! We’ve got a lot of help coming! You’re not alone! We’re going to stay right here! Just hang on!”

“Air Three, this is Sixteen Central! My partner’s been shot! A lot of times! He’s hurt bad! He’s bleeding! I don’t know what to do! I can’t stop the bleeding! We need help!”

“Sixteen, it’s going to be all right! You just hang on! Help is on the way! You just hang in there! We’re right here with you!”

“Air Three, we need EMS here now!”

“Sixteen Central, you’ve got about five ambulances heading your way, along with about fifteen units going like hell down Palomar! Are you two safe? Is that the suspect there in front of you?”

“Air Three, roger! He’s dead! He’s dead! Hurry! My partner needs help! He’s bleeding so much! I can’t make it stop! Please help him! I can’t make it stop!”

“Roger that, Sixteen! You just hang onto him! You stay with him! You hear me? You stay with him! Help is on the way! You just hang onto him tight! He’s going to be all right! You hear me? He’s going to make it! You’re not alone! You just hang on!”

“Roger that, Air Three. We’re hanging on. I’m hanging on. I’m trying. Please hurry!”

“Sixteen, we’ve got a lot of help coming! ETA is about ten seconds! I know it seems like forever; it always does! But you just hang in, there! You’re doing fine! You just hang onto your partner! You’re not alone! They’ll be there any second, now!”

“Air Three, tell them…tell them to come in…I don’t…I need to…tell them to enter westbound…westbound through the lot! We don’t want…we don’t want any crashes! We don’t want…we can’t…”

“Sixteen, don’t worry about that! We’ve got it covered up here! We’ll guide them in! Nobody’s going to crash! You two just hang on! We’ve got everything covered! We’ll take care of it! You just take care of your partner, OK? Leave everything else to us! We’re right here with you! You’re not alone!”

“See, Dani? Everything’s…it’s going to be all right. I promise.”

“You’d better, mister! I’m not going to lose you now! Air Three, roger that. Thanks for the help.”

“Sixteen, everyone’s here for you guys! You’ve got the whole damned city on your side! Don’t worry about anything else! You should see the units approaching from the north any second now!”

“Air Three, we see them!”

“Roger that, Sixteen!”

“Air Three, tell them to send the ambulance in now! The scene is secure! Repeat: the scene is secure!”

“That’s it, Dani. Keep…your head…in the game.”

“Sixteen, roger that! We’ll send the ambulance in right away! You just hang on!”

Where are they? He’s lost so much blood! Where are they? There! There they are!

“They’re here, Harper! They’re here! Help’s here! Just breathe! Just breathe!”

“You better not let them see you…holding my hand like that. People will talk.”

“You think I give a shit? Over here! We’re over here! Somebody help us! Harper’s been shot!”

The first unit! It’s Ruiz! Please, God! Help us! I can’t stop the bleeding! He’s barely breathing!

“Dani! Dani, it’s me! Ruiz! Jesus Christ! Are you OK?”

“Harper’s hit! He needs help!”

“Are you hit? Jesus, girl! You’ve got blood all over you!”

“No! No, it’s Harper! Oh, God! He’s hit! A lot of times! I can’t stop the bleeding! I can’t make it stop!”

“It’s OK! Let me see! Oh, sweet Jesus! Harper? Hey, partner? It’s Ruiz! I’m right here, buddy! Can you hear me? You hang on! You hang in there, you hear? We’re going to get you fixed up! Dani, keep pressure on that wound! Just push down with your hand! I know it hurts him, but you’ve got to do it!”

“OK. I will.”

“Hey…Ruiz?”

“I’m right here, man! Dani’s here, too! We’re going to get you fixed up!”

“Check it…check it out! We got him! We got…we got Ricky!”

“That’s good work, man! Fuck that piece of shit!”

“You’d better…get his gun. Can’t leave it…”

“Hey, man, don’t you even worry about that shit! Everything’s under control! Rosen! Where the fuck is that ambulance!”

“Almost here! He’s…what the fuck? He’s stopped up the street!”

What did he say? Did he say they’re not coming?

“What does he mean, stopped? Ruiz! What does he mean?”

“It’s all right, Dani! I’ll take care of it! Rosen! You tell him to get the fuck in here now! Right fucking now!

“I’m on it! Eight Central to units on the help call, get that fucking ambulance in here! We’ve got an officer down! He’s bleeding out!”

“Eight Central, roger. The Ambulance is waiting for confirmation that the scene is secure.”

“Hey! Read my goddamned lips! This is Officer fucking Rosen! The fucking scene is secure! You get that ambulance in here right fucking now! Do you confirm that, motherfucker?”

“Eight Central, roger. The scene is secure.”

Please get them in here! Yes! Ruiz is waving him over! Rosen! Help us! Please!

“They’re on their way in! I got their attention!”

“Good work, partner! You stay here with Dani and Harper! Hey, get that motherfucker’s gun!”

“You got it! Holy shit! Is that fucking Ricky?”

“Yeah, Dani and Harper blew his fucking ass away!”

“It’s about fucking time! Hey, Harper? Harper, it’s me! Rosen! We’re right here with you! You hang in there, man! You’re going to make it! You’re going to be fine! Tell him, Ruiz!”

“That’s right, Harper! You’re going to be a big hero! You and Dani both!”

“She’s the hero, guys. She got him. She got him.”

“You got him, Dani?”

“Don’t listen to him, Rosen. Harper got him. He blew his fucking head off!”

“That’s good work, Dani! That’s good fucking work! Oh, Jesus! What am I thinking? Are you OK? Are you hit? Is that your fucking blood? Jesus, Dani!”

“No. I’m fine. It’s OK. Harper pushed me out of the way. He stood in front of me. He stood…”

“You did that, Harper? You took the bullet for your partner? God damn! You’re some kind of fucking super boot!”

“Just…looking out…for my partner.”

“That’s what you do! You look out for her! You look out for her, and she looks out for you! Look at her! She’s hanging onto you for dear life! She’s got you! She’s not going to leave you! We’re going to take good care of you, buddy!”

Finally! The ambulance! Hurry, God damn it! Hurry! He’s bleeding to death!

“We’re good to go, Dani! The ambulance is here! He’s going to be just fine! Hey, Ruiz! We’ve got the ambulance!”

“Finally! Get them the fuck in here! And where the hell is everybody else?”

“Right behind them! We’ve got the whole damned division!”

“Roger that! Get them the fuck in here and start locking down this place! I want every motherfucker for five blocks who might have seen this shit! Everybody goes! Every last one of them! Tell everyone: if anybody gives you any shit, you fucking bust them up!”

“Roger that! You hear that, buddy? The whole fucking division’s here! You’re going to be just fine! You too, Dani! You ease down, now! We’ve got it from here! We’re going to take care of everything!”

The paramedics are going to need to know…they’ll need to…oh, fuck! I can’t even think straight! Harper’s bleeding and I can’t even think of what to tell the paramedics!

“Officers! How many hurt?

“Just my partner! He’s been shot!”

“Where’s he hit?”

“It’s about fucking time, motherfucker! Where the fuck were you guys?”

I think Ruiz is about to kill these guys. I’d better do something. But I’m not letting go of Harper!

“Ease down, Ruiz! Let them through!”

“Get your ass in here! This officer’s been shot!”

“It’s OK, Ruiz! Just let them help! Please! Harper needs…”

“That’s all right, officer. We understand. Don’t apologize. What’s your partner’s name?”

“It’s Harper. Ryan Harper. Everybody…everybody calls him Harper.”

“OK, then. Officer Harper, we’re going to take good care of you. But we need some information first: can you tell me where you’re hit?”

“In the leg. Left leg. One in…the chest. By the shoulder. Arm. Left arm. He got me…in the neck, too. I think…”

“Officer? Ma’am? What’s your name?”

“Dani. Dani Lynott. There were more…He told me he thinks the vest took it. I don’t know. I didn’t…I don’t…”

“That’s all right, officer. We’ll take care of it. No one expects you to think straight right now. Don’t even try. That’s OK. You’ve got a lot of help here. OK, Dani. Are you hurt? Are you hit anywhere? You’ve got a lot of blood on you.”

“I’m OK. It’s…it’s his. It’s Harper’s blood.”

“You’re sure you’re not hit? You’re positive? Because if you’re not, we need to check you out, too.”

“I’m not hit. Harper pushed me out of the way.”

“That’s all right. Now, Dani? We’re going to take good care of your partner. But you’ve got a hell of a grip on him right now. We need you to ease up.”

“No! No! I’m not letting go of him!”

“That’s all right. We’re not asking you to do that. Move your arms out of the way. Just ease up a little. You have to give us a little room to work, here. That’s it. That’s better. You keep hanging onto him. That’s a good thing you’re doing. Officer Harper? Your partner’s still right here. She’s still got you. Harper, we’re going to have to get your vitals. Now, can you breathe OK?”

“Not really. It’s…harder now.”

“He was coughing a minute ago. It sounded bad. There was…there was blood. In his mouth. It sounded bad.”

“It always does, Dani. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad.”

“I couldn’t stop it! God, I couldn’t stop the bleeding! I tried, but…”

“Don’t worry about that. You leave that to us. That’s what we get the big bucks for. You did just fine. All right, let’s get an I/V going, and cut this shirt off of him. Get a BP cuff on him, stand by with oxygen, just in case. We’re going to need pressure bandages on these entry wounds.”

“What…uh, what can I do to help?”

“You’re already doing it, Dani. You just keep holding onto him. You just keep doing what you’re doing. You’re doing fine.”

“Umm, his blood type is ‘A’-positive. We both are.”

“That’s good to know, Dani. That’s good information. Does Harper have any allergies to medicines? Any medical conditions we need to know about?”

“No. I mean, I don’t know. I don’t…I never asked him about…”

“That’s all right, Dani. Harper, are you allergic to any medicines? Do you have any medical conditions?”

“Conditions? Yeah: lead poisoning…blood loss…major embarrassment.”

Oh, he is un-fucking-believable!

“Jesus, Harper! You’re making jokes? Are you trying to make me laugh? You son of a bitch!”

“Just trying to make you feel better, partner. Hey? I got you to smile.”

“When they fix you up, I’m going to fucking kill you!”

“There she is! That’s my partner!”

“All right, we’ve got an I/V in. Guys, I see a through-and-through GSW to the left thigh, a GSW to the right chest, below the clavicle, no exit wound. I see a through-and-through GSW to the left forearm. I see a laceration to the right side of his neck; probably a bullet wound. I see three impacts to the officer’s vest, two over the sternum, one about six inches lower. It doesn’t look like any of them went through.”

God almighty! He was hit seven times! Seven times! He was shielding me! He didn’t move out of the line of fire because he was shielding me!

“Harper, you stupid…! Seven times! He shot you seven times!

“Hey…better me than you.”

“No, it isn’t! It should be me! Not you! I’m so sorry, Harper! It’s all my fault! It’s all my fault!”

“Don’t think…think like that, Dani. You’ll…make me…mad.”

“Jesus, Harper! You’re worried about me? You’re shot and you’re worried about me?”

“Always. Partner.”

“I really hate you right now, you know that?”

“Roger that…partner.”

His breathing’s getting shallow! He’s going to stop breathing!

“All right, Officer Harper? We’re going to immobilize that arm and that leg. Then we’re going to put you on the board, and we’re going to transfer you to the gurney. Now, we’ll try to make this as painless as possible, but it’s going to hurt like hell for a second or two. I’m sorry, but there’s nothing we can do about that.”

“It already hurts.”

“I know it does. Dani, I need you to hold his head steady. Can you do that?”

“Yeah. I’ve got him.”

“Good. All right, everybody, on three: one…two…three!”

Oh, God! Look at him! He hurts so much! Please, God! Help him! Please help him!

“All right! We’re good! Strap him down and let’s transport!”

Not without me, you’re not!

“I’m going with you!”

“Dani, I think you have to stay here. I think your sergeant’s going to need to talk to you. One of the other officers can accompany us.”

“No! I said I’m going with him! Don’t try to stop me!”

“Dani, I think it’s best if…”

That’s right, Ruiz! Pull him back or I’ll fucking shoot his ass! I’ve still got a few rounds left!

“Hey, man! Don’t even try to tell her ‘no!’ That’s her partner! She’s going with him!”

You tell him, Ruiz! There is no fucking way in the world I’m not going with him! Fuck the procedures! Fuck the whole goddamned world! I’m not leaving him!

“All right. Dani, you get in the back after we secure him. All right, everyone! Let’s get him underway!”

“I’m right here, Harper. I’m not going anywhere.”

“Thanks, Dani. I owe you.”

“You don’t owe me a goddamned thing! I owe you! I’m not leaving you! You hear me? I’m not leaving you!”

Please, God! Don’t let him die! Do whatever you want to me, but please don’t let him die!


County General Hospital. The waiting room outside of the surgery ward. Four hours. They said Harper would be in surgery for four hours. God, each minute feels like four days! I don’t know how long I’ve been sitting here. A few hours? A few days? That’s all I can do: sit here and wait. I can’t stand it! The paramedics were all so reassuring in the ambulance, but they’re trained to do that. I could see the looks on their faces. They knew it was bad. He was barely breathing. And when we got to the hospital, the doctor’s weren’t nearly so optimistic. They kept saying “I don’t like the looks of this,” and “he’s lost a lot of blood.” Harper passed out right after we arrived. He never regained consciousness. I don’t even know if that’s a good thing, or if it means…I can’t! I can’t even think about it! Please, God! Please make him all right! I’ll do whatever you want! Just make him all right!

“Lynott?”

“What? Sergeant Gellar? I’m sorry. I didn’t see you there.”

“That’s all right. How are you holding up?”

Does he really have to ask? Look at me! I can’t stop shaking!

“As well as can be expected, I guess.”

“You should wash that blood off.”

“Not until he’s out of there. I’m staying right here.”

“Fair enough. Do you mind if I sit here with you?”

“Please.”

I’m surprised he’s letting me sit here covered in Harper’s blood. They worry about shit like that. The department, I mean. Someone might see me. The sight of a cop sitting in a hospital, covered in blood? It kind of freaks people out.

“Sarge, where’s the captain?”

“He wanted to be here, but he’s still at the station. The news got the story, and they’re all over there. He’s got to handle the press. But he’ll be here. He asked me to check in on you.”

“You don’t have to babysit me.”

“I’m not your babysitter, Lynott. I’m your sergeant. I’m Harper’s sergeant. This is where I’m supposed to be.”

“Where is everybody else?”

“Midwatch kind of took over the main waiting room until the nurses kicked them out. They were all pretty worked up. Most of the guys are in the parking lot, now. They’re not the only ones here, you know.”

“Sarge, if you’re going tell me that the shooting team’s waiting to talk to me…”

“They can go fuck themselves. You don’t have to talk to them.”

“Seriously?”

“One of my officers got shot. That’s the only thing that matters. Ricky’s dead. He can wait. Everything can wait. No, I meant the whole division’s here.”

“Really? So who’s minding the store?”

“The bureau’s on Tac Alert. Outside units are covering the division.”

“I’m sorry I caused so much trouble. I guess our shift wasn’t quite shitless. I’m sorry for that, too.”

“You didn’t cause anything, Lynott. You did a good job out there.”

“Bullshit. I was a fucking basket case. I was screaming into the radio. I couldn’t stop crying. No one could understand a word I said. I fucked everything up. I know what to do and I fucked it all up.”

“No, you didn’t. You did just fine. You held it together. You got the call out, and you took care of your partner. And you also took care of the son of a bitch that shot him.”

“Yeah, big fucking deal! Ricky’s dead and Harper’s in there, shot to shit. It’s not exactly an even trade.”

“Not even close.”

God, why him and not me? Why? Why aren’t I the one in that operating room? Why did it have to be Harper?

“He pushed me out of the way, Sarge. When the shooting started? He pushed me out of the way and stood there in front of me. There was no cover. There was nowhere to go.”

“He was drawing Ricky’s fire. He was protecting you. He was protecting his partner. That’s his job.”

“He’s a boot! It was my job to protect him! Look what happened!”

“Lynott, he’s young and strong. He’s tough. His chances are good. They got to him in time. You just have to keep telling yourself that.”

“I was fucking useless out there!”

“Not from where I sit. I saw the scene. They said you got fourteen hits. You guys didn’t miss once. I’d say you were damned useful.”

“He took seven hits. Harper took seven hits and I didn’t take any. I didn’t get a scratch.”

“He wouldn’t let you take any. You can’t kick yourself over that. It was probably over in three or four seconds. There was nothing else you could do. You both made the best of a bad situation. I’m proud of you. I’m proud of both of you.”

“Sure. I hit that motherfucker because he was too busy shooting my partner to shoot me!”

“That’s not how it went down, and we both know it. Don’t do this to yourself, Lynott. Harper wouldn’t like it.”

No, he wouldn’t. But that doesn’t matter to me right now.

“I never should’ve let Ricky get near that booth. We hadn’t searched it. He was so fucked up, I just thought he wasn’t much of a threat. I never even considered that he might have a gun in there.”

“Ricky had it planned. He’s been here a long time. A lot longer than you. I’m guessing it took him a split-second to get his weapon. You couldn’t have stopped him.”

“Sarge? Why did it take so long for everyone to respond?”

“It didn’t. It just seemed that way. It always does when your partner takes a hit.”

“I never lost a partner before. I never…lost…”

“Lynott, you didn’t lose him. And you’re not going to. You can’t think like that. He’s going to pull through. You’ll see.”

“The doctors said…”

“Don’t worry about what they said. They’re doctors. They make everything sound like the end of the world. He’s in good hands.”

“I’m going to have to talk to the shooting team.”

“Not until you’re ready. In fact, I don’t want you anywhere near them in this condition. The procedure says you can postpone for seventy-two hours. I suggest you do that.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

“We’re looking out for you. You’ve got friends here, Lynott. You don’t have to do this alone. You should see who’s out in the parking lot right now.”

“Who’s here?”

“Everyone.”

“The whole watch?”

“Guess again. The whole division’s here. Every cop in Central Division. Plus a lot of guys from other divisions. They’re coming in from all over the city. Everyone’s lining up to donate blood.”

“They wouldn’t let me donate. We’re the same blood type, but they wouldn’t let me.”

“Seriously? How do you know that you and Harper have the same blood type?”

“I asked him. Officer safety. Just in case.”

Well, at least that got a snicker out of him. I’m glad somebody still knows how to laugh.

“If any other cop had told me that, I’d think they were crazy. But not from you.”

“Why wouldn’t they let me give blood?”

“You’re in no condition. You’ve been through enough for one night. The last thing you need is to lose a pint of blood.”

“Who’s back at the crime scene?”

“Who cares?”

That’s an old-time Sergeant of Police for you: they see everything so damned clearly.

“I didn’t even see it, Sarge. One second, he’s falling on his ass. The next? Harper’s yelling that he’s got a gun. Then I’m flat on my ass and I hear the shots.”

“I know. I told you: I saw the crime scene. Ricky had some sort of mounting bracket in that booth to hold his gun. All he had to do was reach out and grab it and he was ready to go. He must’ve put a lot of thought into it. There was nothing you could do.”

“I shouldn’t have let him get anywhere near that booth.”

“It was an ambush, Lynott. He planned it well. He knew what he was doing. But you beat him. You got him.”

“Good for us. Hell of a way to solve the problem, huh?”

“Yeah, but I always figured the only way to stop Ricky was to kill him. God only knows how many bodies he’s got on him. He finally got what was coming to him.”

“And look what it cost Harper.”

“It’s not over yet, Lynott. Don’t go giving up on him now.”

“Even if he lives…four hits! Four hits and three more in the vest! Two of them right over his fucking heart! And it’s all my fault! I did this! I brought it on! It’s my fault!”

“No, it’s Ricky’s fault. You remember that. You didn’t do this. He did. And Harper is going to tell you the same damned thing when he wakes up. He’s a good cop. He loves the job just like you do. He wouldn’t back down any more than you would. That’s why we put you two together.”

“I pushed him. I pushed Ricky. I kept pushing and pushing, but I never thought it would come to this. I never imagined…”

“You know what we say, Lynott: this ain’t a movie…”

“And I ain’t John Wayne.”

“That’s right. We all know the risks. So did Harper. Sometimes we get hurt. We can do everything right and sometimes we still get hurt. There’s nothing that can change that.”

“Sarge? Did you ever have a partner get shot?”

“Yeah, I did.”

“What was it like?”

“It was just like this. It’s always just like this.”

“It fucking sucks.”

“It sure does. Hey, it looks like you’ve got company.”

What? Oh, Detectives Godfrey and Cardozo. Jesus, how did they find out so fast?

“Detectives? What are you doing here? Detective Godfrey? I mean, John?”

They look pretty freaked out. Somebody must’ve called them. God, I wonder what they were told?

“Dani! Jesus! Are you all right?”

“Christ, Dani! Is that your blood?”

“I’m fine, guys. It’s not my blood. It’s…it’s Harper’s.”

“How is he?”

“We don’t know yet. He’s still…they said he…John, they said…”

“Hey! Ease down! He’s going to be fine!”

“Is he?”

“You’re damned right! Tell her, Angelo!”

“That’s right! Hey! Look at me! He’s a tough cop. He’s a Marine. He’s going to be just fine. You’ll see.”

“I don’t know. I…what are you guys doing here?”

“Are you kidding? We’re here because you’re here.”

“How’d you find out?”

“It was on the news. Officer down at the Big Lot. The first thing we thought was…”

“Yeah, you were right.”

John doesn’t look nearly as optimistic as Angelo. Please let him be wrong, God!

“Dani, how bad is it?”

“Uh, it’s…I don’t…it’s bad, John. It’s really bad. He took four hits, plus three in the vest.”

“Jesus! Seven hits?”

“He was…he was trying to make me feel better. He said…he was making jokes! Can you believe it?”

“I think that’s a good thing, Dani. We’ve been through this, too. Angelo, tell her.”

“Hey! He’s right! That’s a good sign, girl! That’s a damned good sign! I told you: he’s a tough cop! He’s going to pull through!”

“God, I hope so!”

“Hey, I know so! You listen to me, you hear? I know so! John?”

“Angelo’s right. He should know. He’s been there.”

He has? Oh, my God! I didn’t even know!

“You got shot, Angelo?”

“Yeah. Twice! And the second time, they were aiming at John! But the stupid motherfucker missed and hit me instead!”

“Yeah, and look at him now! He’s good as new, and Harper will be, too. You’ll see.”

“Thanks, guys. Hey, I’m sorry. I’m a mess. I shouldn’t be…I don’t know what I’m supposed to be…I’m just sitting here! I should be…”

“It’s OK, Dani. You’ve got nothing to be ashamed of. When Angelo got shot, I cried, too. It’s OK.”

“Some tough cop I turned out to be, huh?”

“Don’t say that shit! You’re as tough as hell, Dani. I mean that. You’re solid as a rock. Don’t you dare think any less of yourself.”

“Thanks, John. Uh, hey…you’ll, uh…you’ll be happy to know Ricky’s dead. We got him. That’s something, right?”

“We heard.”

“Harper saved my life. Ricky was aiming for me, but Harper pushed me out of the way. He stood in front of me.”

“He was watching out for you.”

“He’s a good partner, Dani.”

“I know. He’s the best. But what if he doesn’t make it? John, what if he…”

“You stop thinking that right now! You hear me, Dani? Don’t do that to yourself! Harper would kill you if he knew you were out here doing that to yourself!”

“He’s right, Dani. You’ve got to be strong for him, now. He needs you.”

“I’m trying.”

“And you’re doing fine. Sarge, how long is he going to be in there?”

“They said maybe four hours. It’s been five. Five and a half, actually.”

Jesus, we’ve been here for five and a half hours?

“Hey, Dani, have you got someplace to go tonight?”

“Angelo, I’m not leaving him. I’m staying right here.”

“I know. But what about after he’s out of surgery? Because you can stay with me. Hey, my wife would love to meet you. She told me to bring you home. She’s worried about you.”

“She should be worried about Harper.”

“She is. She’s got the rosary out, and she’s praying her ass off. She’s got a direct line to God.”

“Tell her I appreciate it. But I’m fine, thanks. And I’m not going anywhere tonight.”

“Well, if you need anything, you call me. Will do that for me?”

“Sure.”

“You call us both, Dani. Any time, day or night.”

“I will. But I need to be here. As long as it takes.”

Oh, great! Here comes the shooting team! A bunch of detectives in suits? Who else could they be? I do not want to talk to these guys tonight!

“Officer Lynott, I’m Detective Waltz: Officer-Involved Shooting Team. We need to debrief you.”

I see John and Angelo aren’t any happier to see them than I am. John looks like he’s going to punch this guy!

“Hey, give the girl a break, Detective! Her partner’s still in surgery!”

“It’s OK, John.”

“Like hell it is!”

I see Detective Waltz isn’t too crazy about having his authority challenged. These guys never do.

“Officer Lynott, we need to talk now. There’s a room over here we can use. We’ve set up a recorder. Would you follow me, please?”

I should just let john punch him!

“She’s not talking to you tonight, Detective!”

“That’s right! She’s invoking! Take a hike!”

“Who are you?”

“I’m Detective Angelo Cardozo. This is Detective John Godfrey. We’re with Narcotics Division. Officers Lynott and Harper have been working with us. And in case you hadn’t noticed, Officer Lynott’s been through hell tonight! Her partner got shot! She’s invoking! See you in three days!”

“Officer, you do have that right. But I think it would be best to get this over with now. Why don’t we go over here and talk? I’ll also need your weapon.”

“Hey, asshole! What part of ‘get the fuck out of here!’ don’t you understand? She’s not talking to you while her partner’s still in there!”

“Sergeant Gellar, do these detectives speak for your officer?”

“I think we’re all on the same page with this one, Detective. Lynott?”

“Yeah, what he said. I don’t want to talk to you tonight. I’m invoking.”

“Are you sure you want to do that, Officer?”

“Yes! Now get out! Leave me alone!”

At least Angelo’s happy. I feel like I just want to start screaming my head off!

“You heard her, guys! Get lost!”

“And take your fucking recorder with you!”

“Detectives, what is your involvement in this matter? Detective Godfrey?”

“Are you shitting me? A cop gets shot and you’re asking what’s our involvement? Are you for real?”

“She’s a cop, she’s our friend, her partner’s our friend, and maybe you didn’t notice all of the fucking blood on her, detective! That’s her partner’s blood, for God’s sake!”

“Sergeant Gellar?”

“I think you guys are done here for tonight. You can leave, now.”

“If that’s how you want it. Officer Lynott, I’ll need your weapon. I’ll also need Officer Harper’s weapon.”

“I gave them both to Sergeant Hendrickson.”

“And when did you do that?”

“As soon as he got here!”

“And where is Sergeant Hendrickson now?”

“How the hell should I know? Would you please leave me alone?”

“Suit yourself, Officer Lynott. We’ll be in touch.”

“I can hardly wait.”

I know he’s just doing his job, but he didn’t have to be such an asshole about it! It looks like John’s got a phone call. It’s got to be official. Somebody’s probably looking for him. We were working with them on Ricky. He and Angelo are in this thing up to their necks.

“Angelo, we’ve got to get back. Our captain’s looking for us.”

“Roger that. Don’t worry about them, Dani. We’re going to go back to Central Station. We’ll handle everything. Our captain’s waiting for our call. From now on, no one gets to you without going through us.”

Yeah, I think he’s forgetting about something. Or should I say, someone?

“Even Commander Hillel? I’m surprised he’s not here rubbing my nose in it.”

“Fuck that puto! If he gives you any shit…”

“Don’t worry. I can handle it.”

“You don’t have to handle it. You let us handle it. You just stay here with Harper.”

“Thanks, guys.”

“Any time. You stay strong.”

“I will.”

“Sarge, we’re going to head back to Central. Do you need anything?”

“No, we’re good. Thanks, guys.”

Everybody’s bending over backwards to be nice to me and do things for me. The truth is, it just makes it worse. They’re treating me like a wife who just lost her husband. I know they mean well, but it’s killing me. I’ve seen it before. I’ve seen it happen to other cops. Other cops who lost their partners. And now it’s me. It’s my turn. My turn to lose a partner. My turn to lose Harper. I only just found him, and now…

“Sergeant Gellar? Officer Lynott?”

That’s the doctor. Oh, God! This is it! Please, God! Please don’t let him be dead!

“How is he?”

“You’re his partner?”

“That’s right. Is he going to make it?”

“He’s going to be fine. No organs were hit; no arteries, either. The bullet in his chest gave us a scare. It nicked his clavicle, then traveled downward at an angle, but it missed the heart and it just creased the lung.”

“It almost hit his heart?”

“Almost. Missed it by about an inch. He was lucky. The wound wasn’t as serious as we expected. He was bleeding into the chest cavity. That’s what caused the difficulty breathing.”

“What about his leg? And his arm?”

“Through-and through-wounds. No nerve damage. Thank God the shooter wasn’t using those hollow-point bullets. He’s got strong muscles. That makes a difference. I don’t anticipate any permanent damage.”

“What about his neck? They said a bullet…”

“It was a just laceration. Deep, but not serious. Sixteen stitches. It’s going to be fine.”

“And his chest? I know the vest took it, but…”

“No damage. No fractures. The metal plate in the center took the punch out of the most serious hits. He’ll have some severe bruising, but that’s about it. All in all, he was very lucky. He’s going to be in a lot of pain, and he’s going to need help getting around for a while. Is he married?”

“No. He’s married to the job.”

“Well, good news: he won’t need a divorce. But he will need someone to help him get around for at least a few days after he’s released.”

“He’s got a cousin who was out here a few weeks ago. I can try to find out…Sarge?”

“Don’t worry about that, Lynott. Doctor, we have his emergency contact information back at the station. Besides, I’m sure we can find someone who’ll be more than happy to take care of him.”

“Good. We’re taking him into recovery. He’s going to be unconscious for several hours.”

Oh, thank you, God! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

“I want to see him. I want to be there when he wakes up.”

“You can’t see him in recovery, ma’am. It’s not permitted. You two should go home.”

“I’m staying right here.”

“There’s no point in it. You won’t be allowed to see him until he regains consciousness and they move him out of there. That won’t be until sometime in the morning. There’s really nothing more you can do here. And frankly, officer, you look like hell. You really need to go home and get some sleep. Sergeant, I really think that’s the best thing for her right now.”

“So do I. Doctor, we’re going to post a guard on his room.”

“Is that really necessary?”

“It’s procedure. At least until he regains consciousness. We’ll see what happens after that.”

“All right. Check with the nurse. I’m glad your partner’s OK, Officer Lynott. He’s a tough guy. He should bounce back pretty quickly, all things considered.”

“Thank you, doctor.”

Thank you, God! I owe you! I owe you big time!

“Well, I guess that’s it for tonight, Lynott. Come on, I’ll take you back to the station.”

“I want to stay here.”

“You can see him in the morning. For now, the doctor’s right. You’re a mess. And the stress is kicking your ass. You haven’t stopped shaking since I got here. You need to go home. And you’re going home.”

“Is that an order, sir?”

“Only if it has to be. Lynott, are you going to be able to get him up the stairs?”

“What stairs? What are you talking about?”

“You told me you lived on the second floor of your apartment building. Harper’s a big guy. Are you going to be able to manage?”

Is he…holy shit! How the fuck did he know?

“You knew?”

“I’m a Sergeant of Police. I’m a trained observer. I see the way he looks at you. And lately, you’ve been looking at him the same way. Yeah, I knew.”

“I guess we weren’t as discreet as we thought.”

“No, you two were plenty discreet. Thank you for that, by the way. But anyone can see that you two were made for each other.”

“You really think so?”

“Are you kidding me? Five days into the DP and we were taking bets on when you two would get together. It was inevitable.”

“So everyone knows?”

“No, just me. The rest of them are still taking bets. They’re not as sharp as I am. And don’t worry: I’m not going to tell anyone.”

“The rules say you have to. If you don’t, you could get in big trouble.”

“I could get in big trouble for a lot of things. That never stopped me before. Look, I trust your judgment. Both of you. And it’s not like you’re taking advantage of a boot. Harper’s been notching his short-timer’s stick for a while, now. For all practical purposes, his probation’s been over for months. As far as I’m concerned, you two are free to do what you want. Besides, it obviously isn’t affecting your job performance.”

“We’d never let it do that, sir.”

“I know you wouldn’t. Too bad I can’t say the same thing for everyone.”

“So you’ll keep it quiet until he’s off probation?”

“You know I will. I just wonder who’s going to break the news to Bridget?”

Jesus! Is there anything he doesn’t know?

“I’ll let you handle that, sir.”

“Good idea. Less gunfire that way. Lynott, I want you to go home. Don’t try sleeping at the station tonight. When Harper wakes up in the morning, well, then you can see him.”

“Someone…someone should call his parents. I think maybe they should hear it from me. I’m his partner. I was…I was there when it…”

“We don’t do that shit with a phone call, Lynott. The department’s already contacted the police where they live in Colorado. They’ll send a couple of officers over there to break the news in person. That’s how it’s done. That’s how it’s always been done.”

“They must be going out of their minds right now.”

“There’s nothing we can do about that.”

“Look, Sarge, you don’t have to sit here. It’s like you said: they won’t let us see him until tomorrow morning at the earliest. You should get out of here.”

“Not until you do.”

“I’m fine, thanks.”

“No, you’re not. I don’t need to be a sergeant to see it. You’ve been calling in everything you’ve got, trying to hold it together. But pretty soon, all of it is going to hit you like a ton of bricks. And when it does, you won’t be fine. You won’t be anywhere near fine. Look, I know it’s the middle of the night, but maybe you should call your family? They’re back east, right?”

“Salem. It’s just my mom, now.”

“You should call her. Tell her what happened.”

“Call her up in the middle of the night and tell her I walked into an ambush and my partner’s lying in the hospital, shot seven times? No, thanks.”

“Well, I’d spare her the gory details, but you need to tell her what’s happened.”

“I don’t think I want to do that. I sure as hell don’t want to wake her up and put that image in her head.”

“Would you rather she found out about it on the news? A cop gets shot; that’s national news. They’ll have it out there by morning. Lynott, you don’t have kids. I do. And no matter what happens, even if they grow up to be cops, they’re still your kids. She’ll never forgive you if you don’t tell her right away. Call her.”

“Right now?”

“Sure. You can use that room where they were going to interview you. That’ll give you some privacy. Go ahead. Believe me, I know what I’m talking about.”

He’s probably right. Mom’s going to freak out when she hears this, but if I don’t call and she ever finds out I sat on this for a day or two, she’ll kill me. I’d better make the call.

“You win. I’ll be right back.”

“Take your time. And like I said: she doesn’t need to know the gory details.”

“Got it. Thanks.”

How in God’s name am I going to tell her about this? I don’t know if I’ll be able to get the words out. This is going to be pure hell.


I haven’t said this since I was a teenager, but I hope I get her voicemail. I don’t want her to pick up the phone. I’m afraid that if I talk to her about this, I’ll lose it. That’s going to make it a thousand times worse.

“Hello? Dani? Is that you?”

So much for the voicemail. All right, here goes!

“Yeah, mom. It’s me.”

“Why are you calling me at this hour? Dani, you sound terrible! Is something wrong?”

Is something wrong? Jesus! Where do I start?

“Mom, I wanted…I needed to call you. I’m sorry it’s so late.”

“That’s all right. Dani, what’s wrong?”

“Mom, something…something happened tonight.”

“Something bad?”

“Very bad. Terrible.”

“Dani, are you all right?”

“I’m fine. I’m OK. No. No, I’m not OK. Mom…”

“Dani, tell me what’s wrong.”

“Mom, we were…it was…oh, mom!

“Dani, just tell me! Please!”

“Mom…Harper got shot!”

“The young man you work with? The one you told me about?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Oh my God! Dani, that’s awful! Are you all right?”

“I’m fine.”

“Are you sure? Were you hurt?”

“No, I’m fine. I didn’t get hurt. Harper pushed me out of the way.”

“Is that how he got shot?”

“Yes.”

“Dani, is he all right? Where are you?”

“I’m at the hospital. He’s…they had to operate. They shot him…a lot of times. Mom! I didn’t know what to do! I couldn’t…it was…”

“Oh, Dani! I’m so sorry. How is he? Is he going to be all right?”

“The doctor said he’s going to be all right. They say it’s not too bad, but…”

“Dani, that’s wonderful. That’s very good news.”

“But what if he isn’t? What if he isn’t all right? What if something goes wrong? What if he doesn’t…”

“Dani, you can’t think like that. You stop that right now. You said the doctor told you he would be all right?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Then we’ll just take his word for it. He’s the doctor; not you. If he says Harper is going to be all right, then we’ll take that on faith.”

I wish I had that much faith!

“Mom, it was horrible! He lost so much blood! I tried to stop the bleeding, but I couldn’t! I didn’t know what to do! Mom, I couldn’t do anything!”

“Dani, you stop crying, now. This wasn’t your fault. I’m sure you did everything right. And you’re at the hospital. You’re where you need to be. He’s right where he needs to be, too.”

“They finished the surgery, but they won’t let me see him.”

“That’s all right, Dani. That’s how it works. They never let anyone but the family see you after surgery. It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong. It doesn’t mean he’s not all right. That’s just how hospitals are. You can see him when he wakes up. Did you call his family?”

“No. They don’t live here. They sent a unit…the department called the local police where they live. They sent someone to tell his parents.”

“Well, we’ll say a prayer for them. And we’ll say a prayer for Harper. Lots of them.”

“Please. I think he’d like it.”

“Of course. And it’s going to help. It always does.”

“Thanks, mom. We got the guy that did it.”

“You arrested him?”

“No. No, we blew his fucking ass away! Motherfucker!”

“You shot him?”

“We both did.”

“Is he…”

“He’s dead. Fuck him! I wish I could’ve stuck my gun right in his fucking mouth and pulled the trigger!”

“Dani, don’t talk like that. It doesn’t help Harper and it doesn’t help you.”

“I don’t care! I hate him! I’m glad he’s dead! I’m glad we shot his fucking ass to pieces!”

“I understand how you feel. But don’t dwell on that. It doesn’t do any good.”

“I know. I’m sorry.”

“Are you going home now?”

“I don’t know. I want to stay with him. I should stay with him, right?”

“Dani, you shouldn’t stay there all night. There’s nothing you can do for him. Not until he wakes up. Can you call someone? What about your friend Carol?”

“I don’t want to call anyone. I don’t want to see anyone.”

“I understand that. But you shouldn’t be alone tonight. I want you to call her. Promise me you’ll call her.”

“All right. I’ll call her.”

“Dani, I’m coming out there.”

She’s what? Did I hear her right? She’s coming out here?

“No! No, please don’t do that!”

“Dani, you’re my daughter. You need someone to be with you right now. I’ll get a flight first thing in the morning.”

“Mom, you can’t. I mean, I won’t be able to see you. There’s a lot to do. I have to be interviewed, it’s just not…”

“I don’t care about any of that. You’re in trouble and I’m coming out there.”

“Mom, just…just wait a day or two, OK? Maybe it’ll be better, then? Just a day or two?”

“All right. But no more than that, you hear? And you call me every day. At least once a day. You understand? If you don’t, I’m coming right out there.”

“I’ll call you every day.”

“Are you sure you weren’t hurt?”

“No, he just…only Harper got hit. Oh, God! He got hit so many times!”

“I’m sure it was terrible, Dani. But it’s over. Try not to dwell on it. Let’s just concentrate on Harper. He’s going to need you, now.”

“I know. Mom, I thought he was going to die. I thought he was going to die right there! I didn’t know what to do! I tried to…”

“Dani, you stop that! You stop that this instant! I’m sure you did everything right. You must have. Harper’s at the hospital, and you said the operation’s over and he’s going to be all right. You did fine. I want you to remember that.”

“You sound like my sergeant.”

“See? I’m not the only one. You need to listen to him, Dani. You need to listen to me. I know how stubborn you are, but you need to listen to me.”

“Mom?”

“It’s all right, Dani.”

“I’m afraid I’m going to lose him. I’m afraid he’s going to die.”

“You’re not going to lose him. The doctor said he’d be fine. They’re going to take good care of him. And we’re going to pray for him.”

“I know.”

“You said he’s a very good policeman. You said he was a Marine. I’m sure he’s very strong. And he’s probably just as stubborn as you are. He’ll be fine. You’ll see.”

“Why did it have to be him, mom?”

“You said he pushed you out of the way. He was obviously trying to protect you. That’s his job. He’s there to protect you. That’s what he did. He must care about you a lot.”

“I’m supposed to protect him. I didn’t do a very good job.”

“Dani, this wasn’t your fault. I know you. I know you’re a very good policeman. I know you did everything you could. Don’t blame yourself for this. It wasn’t your fault.”

“It is my fault! I’m his training officer! I’m supposed to protect him! And I didn’t!”

“That’s not true! Dani, you’ve told me a thousand times that you can’t control what happens out there. You do the best you can, and that’s all you can do. And I’m sure you did everything you could. I want you to tell yourself that. Will you do that? Will you do that for me?”

“I’ll try, mom.”

“You do that. Now, I want you to go home. You can’t stay at the hospital all night. It won’t do you any good, and it won’t do Harper any good. You go home and you call Carol and you stay with her. I don’t want you staying alone tonight. Promise me you’ll call her?”

“I’ll call her.”

“And you call me as soon as you know something.”

“I will.”

“Dani, I love you. You know that.”

“I know. I love you too, mom.”

“Now, you hang up and go home. You get some sleep. And you make sure to have someone else drive you home. I don’t want you driving when you’re so upset. I’ll talk to you in a few hours.”

“OK. Bye, mom. I love you.”

She’s right. I can’t stay here. I’m going out of my mind knowing Harper’s just a few feet away and I can’t even see him. Oh, God! I feel sick! I feel really sick! I think I’m going to throw up! Oh, God! Where’s the trash can?


Great! Now I’m covered with puke as well as Harper’s blood! Jesus Christ! I feel like I’m going to fall apart! Look at me! I’m a total fucking basket case!

Mom was right: I can’t drive. I’ll wreck for sure. Sergeant Gellar’s still here. He’ll give me a ride.

“You were right, Sarge. It hit me pretty hard.”

“Did you throw up?”

“Yeah. A bunch of times. How did you know?”

“I did the same thing when my partner was shot. It takes a while, but it hits you. I don’t care how tough you are; sooner or later, it hits you. Besides, there’s puke on your shirt. It wasn’t there before.”

“Good obs, sir. Can you give me a lift back to the station?”

“I can give you a lift home.”

“Thanks. I just want to get back and get my stuff. I’ll be all right. I just don’t think I should drive home. Thanks for volunteering.”

“You don’t have to thank me. It’s a wise choice. Frankly, I’m surprised you came to it on your own.”

“I didn’t. It was my mom’s idea. She sounds a lot like you right now. Or maybe you sound like her?”

“I’m a sergeant. At times like this, I sound like everyone’s mom.”

“Sarge? You know there’s going to be blowback from this. Me involved in a fatal shooting? The whole Reid thing?”

“Lynott, this has nothing to do with that.”

“No, but some people won’t care about that. I just want to say I’m sorry for whatever trouble you’ll go through as a result. You don’t deserve that.”

“Don’t apologize. That’s my job. And I want you to remember that you’ve got a lot of people on your side this time. If you don’t believe me, go take a look at the parking lot. You guys did a great job, you did nothing wrong, and that shooting’s going to come back clean. That’s all you need to know.”

“Are you sure about that?”

“Are you kidding? If the devil himself shot Ricky, I’d give him a medal and call him a hero. You won’t have any problems with the shooting investigation. Believe me: this one’s as cut-and-dry as they come. The suspect pulls a hidden weapon and starts shooting? You’ve got nothing to worry about.”

He’s probably right. Unfortunately, I think the shooting investigation might just be the least of my worries. This thing isn’t over yet. I’m sure of it. But right now, I don’t care. All I care about is Harper. And I can’t do a goddamned thing for him. Seven hits and I didn’t get so much as a scratch. Some partner I turned out to be, huh?

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