Midwatch

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Chapter 32: Battle Lines

So here I am, sitting on my couch at home and watching the sun through the window. I think it came up a couple of hours ago. I’m not sure. I’m not sure about anything right now. I haven’t been able to think straight since the Sarge dropped me off. They got someone to drive my car back here about an hour ago. I don’t know who it was. I wasn’t really paying attention. I haven’t been paying attention to anything. Not even Zephyr, and he’s been sitting in my lap since I sat down. I didn’t even turn on the TV. I’m afraid to. There’s going to be something about the shooting. They were all over the station last night. I don’t know how they found out that I was involved, but as soon as Sergeant Gellar pulled into the station’s parking lot, the cameras started flashing and people came running up to the car. I think he wanted to run them all over, but he didn’t. I’m just glad I didn’t have to talk to any of them. I couldn’t talk to them. I couldn’t talk to anyone. I could barely remember my own name. I just kept seeing Harper getting shot over and over again. I couldn’t get the vision out of my head. I’m not doing much better right now, either. A little bit, but not much.

The night they relieved me of duty following the Reid shooting, I thought it was the worst night of my life. Right now, I’d give anything to feel that good. I didn’t sleep a wink last night, and that didn’t surprise me one bit. I just stayed up crying. All I could think about was seeing Harper. Wondering if he was still alive. I know what the doctor said, but I know how things can suddenly go wrong. Even in hospitals. And if something did go wrong, nobody at the hospital would call me. I’m not family. They don’t care that I’m his partner. They wouldn’t care that I’m his girlfriend. So I’ve been sitting here, staring into space and waiting for morning to come so that I can go back there and see if he’s still alive. See if they’ll let me see him. See if he’s going to be all right, or if he’s crippled for life. It’s almost nine o’clock in the morning, now. They should let me see him by now. And if they don’t, well, maybe the gun will help convince them. They took my gun for the shooting investigation, but fortunately, I’ve got a spare here at home. Right about now, I don’t feel like going anywhere without a gun. Believe me, it’s not a good feeling to have.

I’m almost sorry I jumped in the shower when I got home. I saved my bloody uniform from last night – they’ll need it for the investigation – but when I washed the blood off of me, it felt was like I was watching the last of Harper run down the drain. It was like that was the last I would ever see of him. I started crying and I couldn’t stop. Like I said, I know that things can go wrong after surgery. People who aren’t supposed to die suddenly do, and all they tell you is that there were “unforeseen complications.” Harper could’ve died hours ago and I wouldn’t know it. Knowing that tied my stomach in knots all night long. I thought I puked a lot when I got that concussion. That was nothing compared to the last several hours. I didn’t think my stomach was big enough to hold that much vomit. I was wrong.

I’ve got to see him. I won’t believe he’s all right until I look him in the eyes and hear his voice. Then maybe I’ll believe it. I won’t really believe it until he’s out of there and I can lock him in my apartment and never let him out. No one’s ever going to hurt you again, Harper. Not if I have anything to say about it.

So I may as well get going. I think I’m starting to shake again. I’m scared. Scared because I don’t know what’s going to happen when I get there. It’s a long drive to the hospital, and the whole way over, I’m going to feel like shit. Try as I may to prevent it, I’ll run through every horrible scenario in my head. Not because I want to, but because I can’t stop myself from doing it.

“All right, Zephyr. Mom’s got to get going. I know you don’t understand what’s going on, and believe me, I envy you for that. Just…I don’t know if cats say prayers, but if you do, then say one for Harper. He really likes you, by the way.”

Am I going to make it to the hospital? I’m a real mess. I don’t know if I should be driving. I’m a little worried about it, but I don’t have anyone to drive me there, and there’s no way in hell I’m going to just sit here. I can do it. I can hold it together for the ride over. Maybe if I turn the stereo up full-blast, I won’t be able to think about so many horrible things? It’s worth a try. Anything’s worth a try right now.


County General Hospital. At least it doesn’t look as horrible in the daylight. God, would you look at that! There’s nothing here! No news cameras, no dozens of police cars, nothing! Just another day at the hospital. Looking at the front door, you’d never know a police officer got shot. You’d never know Harper took seven hits trying to save my life. Maybe I’m being unreasonable, but that’s just not fair.

All right, here comes the moment of truth: is he alive? Will they let me see him if he is? Just take a deep breath and ask the question. Putting it off any longer won’t help. It’ll probably just make it worse.

“Excuse me, I’m Officer Dani Lynott. I was here…last night. I’m here to see Officer Harper. Do you know how he’s doing?”

“May I see your badge?”

“Right here. Is he awake?”

“He’s awake. And he’s been asking for you. I’ll take you to his room.”

He’s alive! He’s alive! He’s awake! Thank God! Oh, thank you, God! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

“He’s right over here. You can go in. You’re on the visitor’s list.”

Two uniformed cops at the door. Real spit-and-polish types. They’ve got to be assigned to SEU. Yeah, that’s his room, all right. It’s not like Ricky’s going to come back from the grave to try to finish the job, but standard procedure is to post a detail outside of a wounded officer’s hospital room. SEU usually gets the duty, at least for the first day or two.

“Right in here, Officer Lynott. Officers, it’s all right. She’s a police officer, too. She’s on the visitation list.”

“Let me see your badge and ID.”

Thank God they’re not restricting visitors to immediate family only. If they did, I’d kidnap a minister, sneak in through the window, and force him at gunpoint to marry us if that’s what it took to see him. I mean it. I’d do it.

“You’re Officer Lynott?”

“That’s right.”

“He’s been asking for you since he woke up. Now I see why. Go on in.”

If that was a compliment, this guy’s got to work on his delivery. I look like shit and I know it.

There he is! My God! He looks so much better! He’s not…he’s not covered in blood. He’s got a couple of I/Vs in his arms, and they’ve got some wires taped to his chest, but he looks so much better! God, look at that bandage on his chest! I don’t want to think about what it looks like underneath!

“Harper? Are you awake?”

“Hey, look who’s here!”

He’s alive! He’s alive and he’s talking! He sounds a little groggy, but he’s talking! Thank you, God! Thank you so much!

“How are you feeling?”

“A whole hell of a lot better, now that you’re here. Come over here. Let me take a look at you. You look great. As usual.”

“I look like shit and we both know it. Are you…does it hurt? Jesus! Stupid question! You got shot seven times! Of course it hurts!”

“It’s actually not too bad. This tube thing feeds some pretty powerful shit into my arm.”

“Well, just don’t become a junkie, OK?”

“Never happen. God, it’s good to see you. I’ve been going out of my mind worrying about you. How are you holding up, Dani? They said you weren’t hit. I know you said that last night, but I was afraid you might be lying to me. Thank God you’re OK.”

“How could I get hit with your great big ass standing between me and Ricky?”

“There was no cover. I had to give you some.”

“You damn near got yourself killed! I ought to throttle you for that!”

“I couldn’t let you get hit. No way could I let that happen.”

“He would’ve shot me right in the side of the head. I owe you my life. Do you know that? You saved my life!”

“Anytime, ma’am. Just doin’ my…”

Oh, not that again! Is he kidding me?

“Harper, if you don’t stop that horrible John Wayne impression, I’m going to rip those fucking tubes right out of your arm!”

“Roger that, partner.”

“Don’t give me that ‘Just doing the job’ bullshit! Jesus! Do you have any idea how much you scared the shit out of me?”

Way to go, Dani! Yell at a guy who just saved your ass and now has six holes in his body and a tube in his chest to show for it!

“I’m sorry about that, Dani. I tried to stand up after I got hit so you’d think I was OK, but I couldn’t do it.”

“It wouldn’t have helped. I’d have been scared shitless if you got up and danced a jig.”

“Yeah, I’m a pretty scary dancer.”

“Stop trying to make me laugh!”

“I’ll settle for a smile. Could you at least give me one of those?”

God, I can’t believe him! Seven hits, four wounds, a hole in his chest, a hole in his neck, through-and-through wounds to his arm and his leg, and he’s only worried about me! How could I not smile about that?

“There it is! That’s my smile! See, Dani? You made me all better!”

“I wish I could do more than that.”

“Yeah, well, I’m afraid the doctors won’t let me…you know.”

“Then I’ll have to settle for just holding your hand.”

“That’ll work.”

“And it’s OK to kiss you, isn’t it?”

“I think it’s required. Doctor’s orders. As often as possible.”

“Good. Because I’ve been wanting to do this since the moment I saw you get hit.”

I don’t give a shit if those guys walk in on us. God, I want to do a lot more than kiss him right now!

“Now that really made me feel better!”

“Yeah, me, too. Hey, did you get a chance to talk to your family?”

“Yeah, I talked to my mom and dad this morning. They sent a couple of local officers to break the news. They were pretty shaken up. You know, they sort of went through it before when I was in the Marine Corps. But I told them it’s all good. I’m fine.”

“Do your parents know what a liar you are?”

“I wasn’t lying. I’m fine.”

“Harper, you got shot four times. You lost about half of your blood out there. They cut open your chest in the emergency room and put a tube in it, and about ten gallons of blood came pouring out. You’re not fine. You’re alive. You’re not paralyzed or brain dead. That’s great, but it’s a long way from being fine.”

“You know, my mom said almost exactly the same thing.”

“Before or after she chewed your ass out for scaring the living shit out of her?”

“Actually, that was the beginning of the ass-chewing.”

“I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it. If she was half as scared as I was…”

“I’m sorry you had to go through that, Dani. I wish there was something I could’ve done to make it easier for you. It made me feel like shit to see you like that and there wasn’t anything I could do about it.”

“Then you know how I felt. Only for me, it was a million times worse. I didn’t get shot. Ricky hit my radio. That was it.”

“And that’s all that mattered to me.”

“So what did your dad say?”

“Pretty much what I expected. My dad’s a Marine, too. He told me to suck it up and get back to work.”

“Oh, you are such a liar!”

“Swear to God!”

“I don’t believe that for a minute! I call ultimate bullshit on that one!”

“OK, he didn’t exactly say I should suck it up. But he was trying to be all tough and everything. He didn’t want me to know he was worried.”

“Kind of like someone I know who was only worried about me while he was bleeding to death, huh?”

“Yeah, kind of like that. I saw how scared you were. I just didn’t want you to worry.”

“Oh, like I wasn’t going to worry? You were bleeding to death in my arms and I can’t do a thing about it, and I’m not going to worry? Fuck that!”

“You did plenty. You held onto me. That helped a lot. And you put pressure on the worst wound. You kept me from bleeding to death.”

“Yeah, only because you told me to do it. I was so scared, I didn’t know what the hell to do. I was a fucking basket case out there. I was sure you were going to die.”

“What? And leave you? Not a chance in the world, sweetheart.”

“You’re the bravest person I’ve ever met. You were unbelievable out there. But let’s not talk about that. Let’s talk about something else. Hey, you know we got Ricky, right?”

“Yeah, I was there, remember?”

“I wasn’t sure you remembered much about last night. You lost a lot of blood.”

“I know. Actually, some of it is still a little fuzzy. But they gave me some more blood, so I’m good.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t get to give you any. They wouldn’t let me donate.”

“I heard. They said you were so upset, they didn’t think it was a good idea to leave you short any blood.”

“I wanted to give you some anyway.”

“I know. Did they give you a hard time? The shooting team, I mean. Was it rough?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t talk to them. When they showed up to interview me, I invoked.”

“Good. I was worried about them raking you over the coals right after it happened.”

“Don’t worry. I couldn’t handle them last night, but I’m worlds better right now. I can take care of myself in there.”

“I know you can. They’re going to have to interview me, too. My first shooting interview.”

“Not until the doctor clears you. And I don’t want you rushing to talk to them. Ricky’s dead. He isn’t going anywhere. They can wait.”

“Dani, I’m fine. I can talk to them. Besides, they say I’ll be out of here in a week. Maybe less?”

Would you listen to him? He’s lying through his teeth! I know it! No way are they letting him out of here in a week! I don’t have to be a doctor to know that!

“No fucking way! You’re here for a while, mister! Accept it!”

“If they don’t let me out in a couple of days, I’ll get them to throw me out. I’m not staying here. I hate hospitals!”

“Harper!”

“I’m serious! I don’t want to stay here. I want to be with you.”

“And I want to be with you. But you’re going to sit your Marine ass right there and get well! And I’m going to stay right here to make sure you do it!”

“Well, if you’re going to be here, then I’ll stick around.”

“You’re goddamned right you will! You listen to me, mister!”

“Always. Just like I promised.”

“That’s right! You’re mine, Officer Harper! Now and forever!”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way. Hey, guess who came by earlier? Chief Staunton. He came by to say hello and see how I was doing.”

“That’s a hell of a way to get a meeting with the chief. What did he say?”

“Not much. I kind of felt bad for the guy. He was really searching for something to say. Something inspiring, I guess. He gave me the usual ‘We’re all very proud of you, officer; you’re a credit to the department’ kind of thing.”

“Well, he’s right about that part. Everyone’s damned proud of you. Especially me. And you are a credit to the department. What you did was the bravest thing I ever saw. I just wish you could’ve done it without getting shot up and scaring the life out of me.”

“I swear, I didn’t plan it that way.”

“I know. Harper, you shouldn’t have done that. Not for…”

“Yes, I should have!”

“You don’t even know what I was going to say.”

“Yeah, I do. You were going to say I shouldn’t have pushed you out of the way and tried to take Ricky on by myself.”

OK, he does know what I was going to say. And I’m right, damn it!

“Harper, I know how everyone on the job likes to say ‘I’d take a bullet for you,’ but you’re not supposed to do it for real.”

“You mean I’m not supposed to do it for you, right? Dani, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you. Ever. No matter what. And that includes taking a bullet for you.”

“You took seven bullets for me, you stupid motherfucker!”

“OK, seven. Give me seven kisses and we’ll call it even.”

“It’s not funny! Harper, if I lost you…”

“You didn’t. And you won’t. Face it, Dani: you’re stuck with me. It’s going to take a lot more than getting shot to keep me away from you.”

“Roger that, partner. You couldn’t pry me away from you with a crowbar.”

“How about a sledgehammer? I’m just kidding! Hey, Detective Cardozo was here earlier. He gave me some information they dug up last night.”

“How did he get in here?”

“He said he bribed someone.”

“I wouldn’t put it past him. He and Detective Godfrey were here last night. They were pretty worried about you.”

“I know. I told him thanks. Anyway, he told me the gun Ricky used was the same gun used in that homicide at the Big Lot. You were right, Dani: Ricky was good for it all along.”

“Too bad they can’t charge him with it. No, wait: I’m not sorry. He’s fucking dead. I’m thrilled about that.”

“See? Something good came out of it. Oh, and guess what? Detective Cardozo told me the shooting team said we fired fourteen rounds altogether.”

“I wasn’t exactly counting them.”

“Me, neither. But did you know that every one of them was a solid hit?”

“Seriously?”

I think Sergeant Gellar or someone told me something about that last night, but I wasn’t exactly paying attention. Damn! We really got the son of a bitch! Good!

“That’s what they said. Fourteen shots, fourteen hits. Almost every one of them in the chest. I think they said there were two or three in the gut, and one in the head. I’d say that was damned good shooting on our part.”

“See? You really are a good teacher!”

“You’re an even better student. And an even better partner.”

“God, Harper, you were amazing out there! Seven hits and you wouldn’t go down! You just kept shooting. You stayed in the game, you were yelling at me to get down, take cover, and all the while you’re shooting it out with Ricky at ten feet away! I swear to God, Harper, if you don’t get the Medal of Valor for this, I’m taking hostages!”

“It’s not about medals. You know that.”

“You’re still getting the fucking medal. I’ll see to it myself.”

“I’ll settle for a kiss.”

“You got it.”

I’ve wanted to do this about ten thousand times since I saw him get hit! God, I was afraid I’d never get to kiss him again! And right now, I don’t want to stop!

“One down, six to go. Hey, you don’t think those guys outside are going to come barging in here, do you? You said we had to be discreet.”

“Don’t worry about them. Not after this shit. Oh, and speaking of discreet, it seems we weren’t as clever as we thought. Sergeant Gellar figured it out.”

“You mean us?”

“Yeah, he told me last night. But don’t worry. He said he won’t tell anyone.”

“That’s good. Does anyone else know?”

“No, but apparently everyone’s taking bets on when we’ll get together. It seems the general consensus is that we’re made for each other.”

“The general consensus is right.”

“I agree. It’s unanimous: you’re stuck with me, Harper. No more freewheeling single life for you. You’ve got a girlfriend, now. You and me are officially a ‘we.’ Deal with it.”

“Nothing makes me happier. You’re stuck with me, too. You know that, don’t you?”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

God, I wish I could crawl into that bed with him right now! Fucking hospital rules! Is there some way I can lock that door?


Well, it was all I could do to keep from yanking that hospital gown off of Harper and fucking his brains out, but unfortunately, that wasn’t an option. Especially after the nurses came in and had to take him for x-rays and change his bandages. I’m going back to see him again later this evening. The doctor said he needs his rest. Jesus! You get shot seven times and the doctor says what you need is rest? What would he say if you got blown up with an atomic bomb? “Gee, I think you need to put a Band-Aid on that?” Go figure, huh?

I want to go over to the station, but that might not be the best idea. When you’ve just been involved in a shooting, you’re sort of a lightning rod. Everybody wants to know everything that happened, and since I haven’t even spoken to the shooting team yet, I really shouldn’t be talking to anyone about it. Especially not to people who were at the scene last night and who are going to be interviewed themselves. But I figured I could probably sneak into Narcotics Division and talk to the detectives without too much fanfare, so that’s where I am right now. I want to thank the guys for helping me out last night. I should’ve kissed the both of them for what they did, but I wasn’t exactly thinking straight.

“Can I see Detectives Godfrey and Cardozo? I’m Officer Lynott.”

“Sure. Go right back.”

See? Around here, I’m just another face in the crowd. Nobody knows anything. Thank God!

“John? Hey, I wanted to thank you…”

“Dani! Holy shit! Angelo! Angelo, get over here now! Jesus, Dani! What are you doing here? Sit down! Are you OK?”

So much for no fanfare.

“I’m fine. A lot better than last night.”

“Do you want anything? You want some coffee or something?”

“Yeah, I could use a cup. I didn’t get any sleep last night.”

“I’ll bet! What are you doing here? We thought you’d be with Harper.”

“Yeah, I just came from seeing him, and I wanted…”

“Jesus! Dani! What the hell are you doing here, girl?”

“Hey, Angelo. I just wanted to come by and thank you guys for everything you did last night.”

“Oh, for God’s sake! You don’t have to thank us. How the hell are you doing?”

“Better. I just saw Harper. He said you came by earlier. Thanks for that.”

“Yeah, he’s doing good. He’s up and talking. I told you he’s a tough motherfucker.”

“That he is. He’s not exactly up and about, but he’s doing pretty good. I would’ve stayed, but they kicked me out so they could take more x-rays and shit.”

“He’ll be on his feet before you know it.”

“God, I hope so. Listen, guys, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate what you did for me last night. I was kind of a mess. Thanks for standing up for me.”

“You don’t have to say anything. You guys are family around here. We look out for our own. Right, John?”

“That’s right. Everyone here was ready to step up. Half the squad jumped out of bed and went to the hospital last night to give blood.”

“Yeah, the rest of them were too drunk, but they would’ve gone.”

“So you don’t have to thank us. You’ve got a lot of friends here. Hell, you and Harper have friends everywhere. Agent McMillian called. You met him when we took down those two shooters. He’s with the DEA.”

“How did he know about it?”

“He saw the news. Officer down, Central Division, and he asked if it was someone we knew. When we told him it was you and Harper and Harper was shot, he said whatever you need, you’ve got it. See? You’ve got official Washington at your disposal.”

“Tell him I said thanks.”

“He said to tell you he said thanks. You guys really made his year, getting the scoop on those two assholes. And now you took out Ricky! Dani, you’ve definitely got some marriage proposals floating around here! Hell, you might even be able to land a federal agent, if you’re willing to set your sights a little low.”

“Hey, Dani, my wife said to tell you she’s still praying for you both.”

“Thanks. I know it helped.”

“She says it always does. But what about you? How are you holding up?”

“About as well as can be expected for someone who just saw her partner get shot to shit and thought he was going to bleed to death in her arms.”

“Hey, that didn’t happen, and it’s not going to happen. Harper looked good and strong when I saw him this morning.”

“Yeah, he did. Pretty fucking amazing, huh?”

“The guy’s Captain America.”

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s what he thinks. I believe it. Either that, or John Wayne. I told him if he doesn’t get the Medal of Valor for saving my ass, I’m going to throw a fit.”

“Girl, you don’t know the half of it! You should’ve heard the witness statements!”

“I didn’t think there were any witnesses? We didn’t see anyone there except for Ricky and the guy he beat up, and that guy was unconscious.”

“Are you kidding? At the Big Lot? Tell her, John.”

“We know the shooting team’s talked to at least eighteen people.”

“You mean eighteen junkies?”

“Yeah, but their eyes work just fine. And they all said exactly the same thing: Ricky pulled a gun out of nowhere and started shooting. No warning. Harper tossed you out of the way and stepped in front of you to shield you. They said he was blasting away, didn’t flinch, and didn’t go down until it was over. And they knew he was hit. They saw him react when the shots hit him, but he just wouldn’t go down. They said it was the most incredible thing they ever saw.”

“It was, but don’t tell Harper that. He’ll start thinking he really is John Wayne.”

“They also said you were something else, too. They said you blew Ricky’s head off. They were especially happy to describe that part. You guys are now heroes to every junkie on skid row.”

“I think it was Harper who shot him in the head.”

“Uh-uh. They all said it was you. They were especially certain about that. They thought watching the back of Ricky’s head explode was the best part. You gave him the coup de grâce. You’re a hero to those guys, Dani. Both of you are. I don’t think even you realize how much they all hated Ricky.”

Oh, I think I can imagine. Ricky was pure evil, and they were the ones who suffered the most because of him. That rates a special kind of hatred.

“Do you think their stories will carry any weight?”

“Of course! They were there. They saw what happened. Their stories are absolutely consistent, and they were scattered around the scene when it happened. Yeah, it was really dark, but there was enough light for them to see what was happening. You can’t dismiss eighteen people who saw the same thing just because they’re junkies. And we should know. We’re detectives. Right, Angelo?”

“Yeah, even Commander Hillel can’t do that.”

I hope they’re right. I just know Hillel’s out there, waiting for me in the proverbial tall grass. Eighteen witnesses who say we did the right thing is a lot of good ammo on my side.

“That’s good to know, guys. Thanks. Well, one good thing came out of this. Since we killed Ricky, Commander Hillel isn’t going to make chief. His imaginary task force just went up in smoke.”

“Amen for that!”

“Yeah, you did the whole damned department a favor!”

“Hey, Harper said the gun Ricky used was the same one from that homicide I first asked you about. Is that confirmed?”

“That’s right. A nickel-plated Colt .38 Super Auto. Fancy gun. Expensive, too. You don’t come across a lot of those on the street. No wonder he didn’t get rid of it. Ballistics matched it to the murder. You guys were right: Ricky was good for it.”

Yeah. Too bad he’ll never stand trial for it, though.

“He’ll probably be a hero to every dealer on skid row. He went down shooting; two against one.”

“Oh, he wasn’t being heroic, Dani. Angelo got the word from the coroner this morning. Ricky’s blood alcohol was .22 at least. He was drunk as a motherfucker. He’d been snorting a little coke, too.”

“That’s right, Dani. All of his courage came out of a bottle. Or a beer can. Even the junkies and the dealers understand that.”

That explains why he didn’t go down: he was too wired up. We’re both lucky to be alive.

“I hope so, guys. That fucking piece of shit!”

I think we’ve got a visitor. A guy in a suit at Narcotics Division? He’s no detective. He’s got to be a lieutenant or above.

“Excuse me? Detectives?”

“Hey, Captain. Dani, this is Captain Matevosyan. He’s our boss. Captain, this is Dani Lynott. She’s the one we’ve been telling you about.”

“Nice to meet you, sir.”

“Likewise. You guys did a hell of a job out there. How’s your partner?”

“He’s good. I just saw him.”

“I’m glad to hear it. Guys, I heard you talking to her. There’s something you need to hear. This concerns you, Officer Lynott.”

Oh, this isn’t going to be good! I just know it! I speak fluent captain. I can tell when it’s bad news.

“What’s up, boss?”

“Let’s talk in my office.”

Now I know for sure this isn’t going to be good! And I’ll bet I can guess what it’s about!

“Officer Lynott?”

“You can call me Dani, sir.”

“Good enough. Dani, I just got word of a story in one of the newspapers about the shooting.”

Yeah, and I can guess what the byline is!

“What story, sir?”

“See for yourself. It’s on my computer.”

Yep! I was right! They’ve linked the shooting to me and the Reid shooting. Gee, that was fast!

“How nice. ‘Officer cleared in Reid shooting involved in another fatal shooting.’ Catchy. I was wondering how long this would take.”

Jesus, John and Angelo look angrier than I am! I guess I’m just used to it.

“Captain, this is fucking bullshit!”

“I agree with you, Angelo. The reason I brought it to your attention was, it’s worse than you think.”

Gee, just what I wanted to hear! How much worse could it be?

“What do you mean worse, captain?”

“That’s what I wanted to explain to Dani. Dani, I’m a captain. I understand the politics of the department. Reading this story, one thing jumps out right away: they didn’t come up with this on their own. There’s too much detail in it. This story was leaked.”

“Leaked, sir?”

“The way it reads, a lot of this information came from someone inside the department. The article quotes an ‘unnamed source with the police department,’ but I can tell you that this didn’t come from some sergeant. This came from somebody who had access to the entire Reid investigation; including the disciplinary proceedings.”

“Do I have to guess who it was?”

“Off the record? Yeah, I think we both know who it was.”

“I wish I could say I was surprised, sir.”

And Angelo’s about to go fucking ballistic! Pretty much the same as me when that shit first happened.

“Oh, this is such bullshit, boss!”

“Angelo…”

“No! No! That little asshole had no right…”

“Take it easy, Angelo. That’s an order.”

“I’m sorry, sir. But this…”

“I feel the same way you do. I think it’s an outrage. I also think it’s against policy. But Dani, since you’re here, I wanted to give you a heads-up before someone tried to blindside you with it.”

“I appreciate that, sir.”

“I think you should call your PBA rep. And you should probably call your lawyer. I don’t know if this story is going to pick up any traction, but it’s got plenty of buzzwords designed to piss off the usual suspects. I don’t think they’re in there by accident.”

“I’ll call them, sir.”

“Captain, we can’t let this shit stand. She didn’t do anything wrong! That shooting was as clean as it gets!”

“John’s right! This is fucking Ricky we’re talking about! Somebody should’ve blown him away years ago!”

“No argument here, guys. But someone’s out there sowing the shit seeds, and she has to be ready for that. Dani, we’ve got your back on this. If there’s anything we can do, don’t be afraid to ask.”

“Thank you, sir. I’ll let you know.”

“You do that. And you two? You need to calm down. Do not pop off! Do not do or say anything that’ll make it worse than it already is.”

“This is really fucked up, captain!”

“Yes, it is. But it’s purely political. Just remember that, John. There’s no truth to it.”

“You got that right, sir.”

“Dani, I think you should keep a low profile for now. Are you going back to the hospital?”

“Yes, sir.”

“OK, that’ll work. The press can’t fuck with you there. The hospital won’t allow it.”

“Yeah, lucky me.”

“You’d better warn your partner, too. Chances are, they’ll be coming after him pretty soon. Just remember: you guys did the right thing. You’ve got nothing to be ashamed of. You remember that.”

“I’ll remember that, sir.”

“We’ve got your back, Dani.”

“This is bullshit, Dani!”

“Thanks, guys. But I saw this coming. I’ll be in touch, OK?”

So it begins. The fucking idiot circus is about to start all over again. I just pray to God that it’ll be different this time. I honestly don’t know if I could go through it again. It nearly killed me the last time. I don’t know if I’ve got that kind of a fight left in me.


Well, I thought it would take more than one night for the media to put two and two together, but apparently, they had help. I can’t believe Commander Hillel leaked the story to the press, but I know in my head that he did. Captain Matevosyan seemed pretty damned sure of it, too. It’s not fair. If I leaked a story to the press – any kind of story – I’d be out on my ass in a heartbeat. But the brass can get away with it. I wish I could say I was surprised.

So now I need to call my PBA rep. I haven’t spoken to him in a while. I was hoping I wouldn’t have to call him ever again. I’ll let him call the lawyers. Since the PBA is paying for it, there’s no guarantee that they’ll assign me the same lawyer. I don’t really care. I never got to be particularly friendly with my last lawyer, and right now, one PBA lawyer is as good as the next as far as I’m concerned.

“Hello, Jay? Yeah, it’s Dani. Dani Lynott.”

“Hey, Dani. I was waiting for your call.”

“So you know what happened?”

“Yeah. And I know about the story in the paper.”

“You’re way ahead of me, Jay. I only just found out about it myself.”

“Don’t worry. We’re not going to let them turn this into some bullshit about Reid. This has nothing to do with that.”

“I keep hearing that, but I think we both know the truth’s a lot different.”

“No, it isn’t. And I’m not going to let them make it like that. Did you talk to the shooting team yet, or did you invoke?”

“I invoked. I wasn’t in any shape to do it last night.”

“Good move. How’s your partner?”

“He’s good. I saw him this morning.”

“Thank God for that. Listen, you don’t talk to anyone about this. Not unless I’m there. You know the drill.”

“Yeah, I know it by heart.”

“I know you do. Don’t let this get to you, Dani. We’re not going to let them fuck you over for doing your job. Not this time.”

“I appreciate that.”

“I’ll call you tomorrow. I’m going to get started on this right away. You don’t talk to anyone. And I’ll get someone assigned to your partner, too.”

“Do you think he needs a rep?”

“You know me: I think everybody needs a rep! Do I think he’s in a jam? No. But they might try to get to you through him.”

“Harper would never do that.”

“You never know.”

Uh, yes I do, but I’m not going to tell him just how I know that.

“In this case, I do. Harper’s as solid as a rock. I’m sure of it.”

“Well, I’m going to get him a rep anyway. You just batten down the hatches. I’ve got this for now. You call me before you talk to the shooting team.”

“I will. You’ll call the lawyers, right?”

“Absolutely. I’ll call them right away. Don’t worry about that. This isn’t going to be a repeat of the past, Dani. No fucking way. I’ll call you tomorrow. Just hang tight.”

“I will. Thanks for everything.”

Well, that’s covered. For now, I just play wait and see. It’s not one of my favorite games, but it’s not like I’ve been invited to play. I’ve been drafted. I don’t have a choice. I’ve got a few hours before I can go see Harper again, so as long as I’m down here, I might as well get the interview with the shooting team over with. I don’t expect those guys to give me a hard time. They’re only interested in what happened. They don’t deal with interpretations or policy questions. And even if they did; what we did was one hundred percent in policy, no doubt about it. Since I’m already feeling in a confrontational mode, I might as well talk to them. Ten million questions, and about fifty of them will matter. That’s a typical officer-involved shooting interview. Pretty ridiculous, huh?


Back at the hospital. I finished my OIS debriefing. That’s officer-involved shooting, for those of you who don’t speak cop. Well, that was fun. Two hours of questions, and just like I said: only a handful of them made any sense. Ricky shot at us, we shot back, he’s dead, Harper was wounded, and I escaped without a scratch. End of story. I probably should’ve waited until I got some sleep, though. I thought I was going to fall asleep in there a few times. Maybe I did? Who knows? You know, sometimes I wonder if they pick you for the shooting team based on your tone of voice? They’ve got exactly one tone of voice: like a professor who always puts his class to sleep with his droning. It’s always one dull, boring monotone. I guess it comes with the territory. I certainly didn’t get any red flags from them, and I’ve become pretty good at picking up on that sort of thing. It’ll be months before they resolve the whole thing. There’s no such thing as a quick officer-involved shooting investigation. People bitch and moan about that, but they just don’t understand how much work goes into them. At least I got out of there in time to get to the hospital. I really wanted to see Harper again.

Thank God I can sit with Harper for a while and no one will fuck with me. Well, until they kick me out when visiting hours are over. His parents are no doubt coming here as fast as they can. Maybe they’re here already? A hospital recovery room is a hell of a place to meet your son’s new girlfriend. Especially when he’s lying there with a bunch of bullet holes in his body and she’s standing there without a scratch, and she’s his training officer. I’m afraid they’re not going to like me very much. If I was in their place, I probably wouldn’t like me very much, either. I hate being here at the hospital. I can’t get the images out of my head: the ambulance pulling up to the emergency room, blood everywhere, the paramedics wheeling Harper in there strapped to a gurney with an oxygen mask on his face, when they lifted him onto the hospital bed and started wiping away all of the blood. I can still see them cutting off his clothes and dumping them in a bin next to the gurney. And I can still see those God-awful bullet holes: in his chest, in his arm, in his leg, along the side of his neck. And when they cut a hole in his chest and stuck that tube in to drain the blood? I almost lost it right there. He’d lost so much blood, he was starting to look ashen. I was sure he was going to die right there. I just can’t get the images out of my head. Even when I saw him this morning, I looked at the bandages and all I could see were those bullet holes and all the blood pouring out of them from last night. It’s like the bandages weren’t even there. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to get that vision out of my mind? I hope so. A sight like that is enough to make you want to gouge your eyes out. Not that it would help.

I see the guards are gone. Good. That usually means the department’s decided that he’s not going to die. That’s always good to know. OK, here we go! Let’s see how he looks. I’m hoping he looks a lot better. He was really groggy this morning.

“Hey, Harper. Mind if I come in?”

“Hey, I was just thinking about you! Get in here!”

He seems remarkably chipper for a guy who almost died less than twenty-four hours ago. Jesus, maybe he really is Captain America?

“How are you feeling?”

“A lot better now. What did you do today?”

“Not much. I talked to the shooting team. I wanted to get it over with.”

“Dani, you didn’t have to do that so soon.”

“I know. But I was ready to talk to them. They’re not so bad, really. They don’t judge you. They’re straight out of Dragnet: ‘Just the facts, ma’am.’ It went like I expected.”

“Did they ask you what kind of shoe you were wearing?”

“Yeah, as a matter of fact, they did. I told them if they wanted to see it, they could find it shoved up my partner’s ass!”

“You’d do that to me when I’m lying here suffering?”

“Morning, noon, and night!”

Yeah, right! Even I didn’t believe that one!

“Cut the macho cop shit, Dani. How are you hanging in there?”

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

“It’s been less than a day.”

“That doesn’t matter. I still miss you.”

“I know. I miss the hell out of you, too. I wish I could be there for you. I know it’s rough.”

Is he shitting me? I’m sitting here in one piece while he’s lying there with holes in his body and tubes stuck in his veins! And he thinks I’ve got it rough?

“You got the worst of it. And hey, you are there for me. You’re here right now. Thank you for that. Thank you for not dying, I mean.”

“Not a chance, sweetheart. Not a chance in the world.”

“Are your parents coming in?”

“Yeah, they’ll be here tomorrow. They’re looking forward to meeting you.”

“Do they know about us yet?”

“No, they just know you’re my partner. I’ll tell them the rest after they see me.”

“Do you think they’ll be mad at me?”

“Why would they be mad at you?”

Uh, because their son got blasted to shit and I was the one who was supposed to make sure that didn’t happen? Something like that, maybe?

“Because I’m the senior officer and I’m here without a scratch, and you’re lying there with a bunch of bullet holes in you.”

“Dani, it’s not your fault. And they know that. I told you: my dad’s a Marine. He knows shit happens. You don’t blame people for surviving. That’s just stupid.”

“You’re a remarkably understanding man. Did you know that, mister Harper?”

“Yeah, I figured that’s why you fell for me.”

“That’s just one on a very, very long list.”

“Not as long as the list of reasons why I fell for you. You’re amazing, Dani. I don’t know what I’d do without you. I don’t know how I got this far without you. And I’m really glad you’re here.”

My God! Where the hell has he been all of my life? How did I get so damned lucky?

“Move over.”

“What?”

“I said move over, boot! I’m climbing into bed with you!”

“Dani! There’s a shitload of people around here!”

“Don’t worry, I’ll keep my clothes on. I just want to get in there next to you.”

This bed isn’t very big, but it’s big enough. I don’t take up much room. Just ask Zephyr.

“You’re going to give me a heart attack, you know that?”

“No problem. You’re in a hospital. They can fix you. Look, they’ve already got you on one of those monitor machines. So I’ll know when to back off.”

“Are you serious? Here? Dani, you’re fucking crazy!”

“Yeah, like I haven’t heard that before. Scoot over. And don’t worry: if they can’t get your heart started, I know a few ways to get it going. You know, on second thought, I don’t think I’ll keep my clothes on after all.”

I should take a picture of him right now. That look on his face is priceless! Imagine how he’s going to look in a few minutes! If somebody walks in here in the next few minutes, they’re going to have a very different story to tell the newspapers. But right now, I don’t give a shit. I know what I want to do, and he’s in no condition to stop me! Besides, I’m pretty sure he’s going to enjoy the hell out of it. I certainly will!

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