Mission Critical

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Chapter 10 - The Honest Answer Game

Morning. Back at the assessment field. They’ve set up a makeshift building that’s supposed to be a bank. The SRT cadre is playing both the hostages and the bad guys for the scenario. We’re split up into our previous two teams and we’re supposed to handle the situation as best we can. Lieutenant Shears said he didn’t expect us to know exactly what to do or even to function as well as SRT does. They just want to see what our skills are right now and how well we work together. Once again, our team thinks I’m supposed to be the leader because I’m a sergeant and because I did the job well enough last time. Lucky me, huh? I have no idea what we’re supposed to do. Barricaded suspects and hostage situations can last for hours or even days, and I’m pretty sure they’re not going to allow these scenarios to last that long. They expect us to solve them quickly, which means we’re going to have to go in there and people are going to get shot. Our first duty is to protect the hostages. Easier said than done.

We’ve got three suspects in this scenario, just like the robbery crew we’re all looking for. Five hostages. So far, nobody’s been shot. We’re using a radio for the telephone and Robbie’s trying to make contact with the gunmen. So far, they’re not answering the phone. We knew that was a possibility. I don’t want to go in there blind. They’ve got cutouts for the windows, but it’s hard to see in there. We can’t get too close or the gunmen will shoot us. And with only five of us, our options are even more limited than they would be if we were really SRT. All in all, it sucks. I want to figure out a way to do this without shooting anybody. I hate shooting people. Just because I’m a trained sniper doesn’t mean I like shooting people. Shooting people sucks. It also looks bad in the press.

According to the scenario, there’s only one way in or out of the bank: the front door. That narrows down the options a lot. If they want to get out of there, they have to go through the front door. If we want to get in there, we have to go through the front door. We don’t have the MRAP to crash through the wall. It’s just the five of us. If they come out of that bank with the hostages, I can get one of them easy. But what about the other two? I’m thinking about having our guys split into two pairs and hit them from either side once they’re out of the bank and I take out the lead assbag. The thing is, I have no idea how the other two bad guys are going to react once their friend goes down. They could start shooting. I know a coordinated attack could take out two of them, but what about the third guy? He’s going to get off a couple of shots and he’ll probably have the hostages between himself and the strike team. We’ll have some hostages shot if that happens. They’ll be caught in a crossfire. That’s not an option. What am I missing? What’s the right answer?

“Sergeant! I got one of the suspects on the line!”

Finally! Something on the radio! Robbie got through. I figured they’d pick up eventually. What the hell do we do when he says he wants a billion dollars and a plane to East Timor? I have zero experience in hostage negotiation!

“Echo One, did you tell him he’s surrounded and if he comes out, he won’t be harmed?”

“Yeah. He said fuck that shit.”

Of course he did!

“What does he want?”

“A car with a full tank of gas and the keys in the ignition parked right out in front of the front door. He also wants all officers to pull back from their positions.”

It’s not a plane to go halfway across the world, but it’s pretty close.

“All right, have our three guys move to positions behind those makeshift walls and tell them to stay out of sight. I don’t think they can see our guys from there and we can still keep the front of the building covered.”

That’s as much as I can think of. I don’t get it: any assbag would know we’re never going to withdraw. Why would one of the SRT cadre ask for that?

“Sergeant! The guy wants to know if the officers have left the scene yet?”

“Tell him we’re not leaving as long as they’ve got hostages. We can’t do that and those guys know it. If he insists, tell him it’s not going to happen and he just needs to accept it.”

And let’s hope the next sound isn’t a blank round going off in there! And what if it is? If it is, then we fire a tear gas grenade and a flash bang in there and we storm the place. We’re not going to sit out here while they kill the hostages. Screw that!

“He says OK! But he wants the car and he wants it now!”

That figures. So what do we do? Give it to them. It’s the only way we’re going to get them to come out of there. What will they do? Probably have the five hostages surround them so we can’t get a clear shot at them. I can get one, but what about the others?

“Lieutenant! I say we give them the car. They’ll shoot a hostage if we don’t. If we can get them to come outside of the building, we’ve got a shot at them. I think it’s our best option. If we go in there with guns blazing, we’ll hit one of the hostages.”

We don’t have the option of pinhole cameras like they use to see what’s going on inside the building on a real call. They told us that at the beginning. In fact, we don’t have access to a lot of the stuff that SRT usually has. They ought to call this exercise “Embrace the Suck!” Trust me, it totally sucks!

“It’s your call, number five. If you want to give them the car, go ahead.”

Uh, does it look like I’ve got a car on me right now?

“So where do we get the car for this scenario, sir?”

“Hang on. I’ll have someone pull up in front of the building.”

He seems way too willing to let us do that. I’m wondering if I just screwed up royally. We’re about to find out.

“Robbie, have two guys get a bead on the suspect who comes out on the right. You and the other one take the guy on the left. I’ll take the guy in the middle. As soon as I get a clear shot, I’m taking it. Tell the others that as soon as I fire, they fire at their targets. Everybody had better be ready and for God’s sake, don’t miss!”

“Roger that. But what if the other two don’t line up on the left and right?”

Really? That’s what he wants to know? Improvise, God damn it!

“If they all come out single-file, I’ll shoot the guy in the lead right through the head and take out all three with one shot! Just send the message! We’re running out of time!”

“Sounds good to me. I’m sending the word now.”

There’s the car. Oh, my God! It’s an old Pontiac Aztec! Where the hell did SRT get that hunk of junk? If a real bank robber saw that crap-mobile, he’d shoot a hostage just because of it!

“Where’d you get that piece of crap, sir?”

“Don’t ask. Just focus on your mission.”

No kidding. I see the driver left the engine running. Probably because if he shut it off, it might not start again. All right, we have to take them out before anyone gets in the car. One last thing, though…

“Robbie! Tell everyone if those dorks get in the car without the hostages, we let them go! Patrol can chase them down once we get the hostages clear! If they leave the hostages on the sidewalk, have our guys get them to safety right away! Got it?”

“Roger that, Allison. We’re waiting for your shot.”

Hey, why the hell not? If the dickheads are crazy enough to jump in the car and haul ass out of here without the hostages, then that’s fine with me. Let patrol handle the pursuit. They’ll play bumper cars with that piece of shit and no harm, no foul. Our patrol officers are experts at that, you know.

Here they come! I knew it! They’re using the hostages as a human shield! Aim for the head of the guy in the middle! We’ve got lasers that set off the sensors everyone’s wearing, so a head shot will register as a kill right away. There he is! Aim for his brain case! Since this is a laser, I don’t have to compensate for bullet drop. They’re making one of the hostages open the car door. I’ve got him locked up! Wait for him to move forward a little…that’s it…aim…fire! Got him!

“All units! Take them out! Fire!

They’re rushing from both sides! Fire! Yes! I can hear the beeps! They got them! Did we hit any hostages? Did the bad guys hit any hostages? Stay sharp! Wait to see if anyone needs a follow-up shot!

“Guys! Get those hostages out of there!”

“Roger that! Moving them out now!”

None of the SRT bad guys are getting up. I guess they take this kind of training seriously. There goes Lieutenant Shears’ whistle. I guess the scenario is over.

“All right, team two! Wrap it up and let’s go over what you did!”

Uh-huh. This is where we get raked over the coals!

“Nice shot, Sergeant Rane.”

“Not really. It’s a laser along the barrel. It’s not like you can miss with it.”

“It was still a nice shot.”

I won’t argue with him. It might be the last nice thing he says to me for the rest of the day.

“Did we hit any hostages?”

“Negative. Only bad guys.”

That’s good news. Too bad it won’t end there.

“You’re still going to second-guess us to death, aren’t you?”

“Of course. That’s what we do in SRT. You might as well get used to it if you want to join the team.”

That’s what I thought he’d say. We’d better get ready to hear him say “Why didn’t you…” ten thousand times. This isn’t going to be fun.

“Just remember I was calling the shots. If you’ve got a problem with anything we did, then you hang it on me.”

“Trying to take the flak for your teammates?”

“Yes, sir. I was in charge. If it went wrong, it’s on me; not them.”

“Good. That’s exactly what you’re supposed to say when you make the calls.”

OK, but is that a good thing or a bad thing? I guess I’ll find out in a couple of minutes, won’t I? Where’s the Sarge? I think I could use a hit off of that flask he keeps for just such an occasion. I have a feeling this critique is going to be brutal.


Done for the day. I was right: they raked us over the coals in the debriefing part. They weren’t mean or anything, but they nit-picked us to death: why did you do this? Why didn’t you do that? Did you consider doing this? Why did you consider doing that? It just went on and on and by the end of it, we felt like five of the dumbest people on earth. It was little consolation when they did the same thing to team one. They chose to go in there in a dynamic entry assault. They got all three suspects, but they fired a shitload of rounds and turned the bank into a shooting gallery, according to Lieutenant Shears. To be honest, I’m still not sure which team did better in their eyes. We both felt like complete idiots at the end of it. And did they offer us any sort of encouragement? Of course not! “You all did what you thought was best.” That’s what they said. They’re really driving us crazy with this “no feedback” stuff. I’m sure there’s a method to the madness, but I don’t like it one bit and neither does anyone else. Thank God we’re off for two days now. They’ll pick up the assessment training after that. I think they’re as tired as we are. They have to get here at five in the morning to set everything up for the day. They need a break as much as we do. And they’re still subject to callouts while they’re here. They could end up doing a twenty-four hour shift if something happens in the field.

Since it’s almost five o’clock in the evening, we’re actually finished for today. We don’t have to go back to our stations and work. That’s a nice bonus. Everybody’s nerves are kind of frazzled from the scenarios. That’s what happens when you take the training seriously like you’re supposed to. You get all nervous, you second-guess yourself constantly, you worry about making mistakes, and you want to kick yourself when somebody points out something that you missed or didn’t think of afterward. It sucks, but it’s how it should be. I’ve learned to hate it when people don’t take training seriously. Taking training seriously saved my life when I went up against Corey Faisse. I’d be dead if I hadn’t. I promised myself when I became a sergeant that I’d make damned sure that everybody in the station took our training days seriously. If I catch anybody trying to coast through it, I’ll make them miserable in ways only a sergeant can do. They’re going to take it seriously. The life they save might be mine, after all.

I should’ve brought my slippers with me. My feet are killing me. There’s got to be a better way to deal with blisters on your feet. Maybe one of the running websites has some solutions?

Here comes Robbie. He’s not carrying a pair of slippers. Bummer.

“Hey, Allison? Some of us are going out for a beer to take the edge off. You know, we made it this far? That kind of thing. We were wondering if you wanted to come along?”

I guess this means I’m one of the boys again. If that’s the case, I’m not going to turn them down. They might take it the wrong way: “I’m a sergeant and I don’t hang out with the lower ranks” bullshit. Not me. This is part of why I became a sergeant, remember?

“Sure. Where are we going?”

“Mario’s.”

Even better. That bar is within walking distance of my apartment. Not that I plan to do any walking on these feet.

“I’ll meet you there.”

Now I need to see if the Sarge wants to go. I don’t know if they’ve got his Thai beer that he loves so much, but he won’t turn down a chance to go drinking with the boys just because he has to drink Budweiser.

“Sarge? Some of the guys and I are headed over to Mario’s for a beer. We’re celebrating making it this far. Want to come along?”

“Not this time, Rane. This is for you people. You’ve been through a lot. This is a good time to relax with people who’ve been through it with you. Just remember: when you’re off-duty at something like this, there are no ranks. Just brothers and sisters in blue. You’re all in this together, working toward the same goal.”

That’s the way I see it. I’m hoping the rest of the guys see it that way, too.

“Are you sure? It won’t be the same without you.”

“For Christ’s sake, Rane! I’m not dying! It’s one night! Go have fun for one night! You’ve earned it! All of you have! That’s an order!”

OK, if that’s what he wants.

“I’ll call you if I end up too drunk to drive home.”

“Mario’s is five minutes from your apartment. If you get drunk, start walking!”

“But my feet hurt.”

“Then watch your drinking! Jesus Christ! Do I have to do everything for you?”

Snarky about it, much? Sheesh!

“OK, but if I get hammered and end up dancing on a table, you’re going to miss it!”

“I think I’ll live! Get going before I stuff you in the trunk of my car!”

You don’t have a trunk, old man! It’s a pickup truck! And I’d kick your ass if you tried it!

“Just for that, I’m going to do something tonight to disappoint you! Your little girl’s all grown up now, daddy!”

And stick my tongue out at him for good measure! Hey, maybe I will do something to disappoint him? I definitely need to unwind. That usually leads me to do things that would embarrass any girl’s daddy!


Mario’s Bar. Not what you’d call a four-star establishment, but it’s OK. It’s not a cop bar or anything. In fact, I’m not sure why they picked this place except that since it’s not Friday or Saturday, we didn’t have any trouble getting a couple of tables. I come here from time to time; usually alone. I usually leave here alone and kind of depressed, too. This time I’m here with friends. That’s an improvement. Another plus is that because we’re buying beer by the pitcher, it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than if you buy it by the bottle. Everybody’s chipping in for the bar tab so I know I won’t get stuck with it. Then again, if I were here on my own in my smoking hot little red dress, I wouldn’t have to pay at all if I didn’t want to. Exploiting my own sexuality? You’re damned right! Why not? It’s a great way to drink for free and the guys get a free show. As I’m sure you’ll remember, it wasn’t long ago that it was the only way I could drink at all!

The evening’s been one part mutual commiseration and one part loud, raucous fun. The mutual commiseration part is every time we start talking about how we did in the scenarios. Believe me, we’re all looking back fondly when it was just physical fitness tests. Everybody’s had the same reaction to the lack of feedback as I have: we’re as nervous as hell about it. The general consensus is that we’re all doing just fine, but it’s still really nerve-wracking. All of us want this really bad and we all know they can’t take all of us. It’s a weird sort of dynamic. Me? I’m just trying to relax for one night like the Sarge said. I really need it. I spend too much time alone. It’s good to get out with people for a change. I may not be the life of the party, but I’m not sitting over in a corner by myself, either. That’s a definite improvement.

Most of the guys are over at the pool table showing everyone who bothers to look just how much they suck at the game. Man, do they ever suck! I don’t think any of them has made a shot yet! Well, they’re having fun. Two of the guys are over at the bar, snaking on a couple of girls. Speaking as a member of the female of the species, they could do a lot better. As a woman, I’m pretty good at spotting a woman who’s a regular barfly. Those two girls are definitely barflies. They’re here for free drinks and not much else. They also strike me as being a couple of total skanks. Well, nobody ever said all cops have good taste, did they?

Most of the guys seem a little nervous around me. I guess they can’t get past the fact that I’m a sergeant and thus the highest-ranking person in this group. I certainly haven’t been lording it over them. Right now, I’m just Allison. That’s all I want to be. I don’t want to be Detective Rane or Sergeant Rane or even the Sniper Girl. I never much liked labels, after all. I guess it’s going to take a little time to win them over. Or maybe just a few more beers? Some of them are already getting tipsy and we haven’t been here for very long. We’ve got a lot of tension to work out, don’t we? Some of us aren’t waiting.

“Want another beer, Allison?”

“Still working on this one.”

Robbie. I noticed he was sitting at the far end of the table when we sat down. I kind of thought he’d park himself next to me, but he didn’t. I was kind of hoping he would. I know him better than any of the other guys here and like I said, I always liked him. I still do. He’s a good guy. I was a little surprised to see him trying out for SRT. He didn’t strike me as the high-speed type. I guess I was wrong. He’s high-speed, low-drag. Just like the Sarge. He went from Traffic Division to Corporal in patrol just like I did. He didn’t take the detective’s or the sergeant’s tests, though. Apparently, he was focused on making SRT. They wouldn’t be interested in me as a sergeant if I weren’t the Sniper Girl, so he made the right decision. He can always take the promotional tests later. They offer them every other year.

“What do you think, Allison? I think we did pretty well today. I know they picked apart what we did and didn’t do, but I think they were impressed.”

“I don’t think that test was meant to impress them. They just want to see how we think. Do we think SRT is one gunfight after the next?”

“I hope not!”

I think he means that. Robbie got into two really hair-raising shootouts in his career: once on a traffic stop and once at a domestic dispute. The one on the traffic stop had him trading rounds with two assbags who fired over forty rounds at him. Meth smugglers. Both of them were killed. He emerged without a scratch. The other one was a domestic where this dickface reached behind the couch and came out with an AR-15 and started blasting. He and his partner got the guy. Thank God he wasn’t working alone that night or he’d probably be dead right now.

“That makes two of us. I really hate shooting people. You know, I never had a shooting until I made detective and landed in the middle of the sniper case. Now look at me.”

“Allison, you wound up with a skill you never thought you’d have. You ran into some bad luck and you were forced to use it more than anyone expected. It’s not your fault.”

“That doesn’t mean it’s easy to live with. I’m not even sure how many people I’ve had to kill. It’s a lot.”

“Yeah, but the important words there are “had to.” You didn’t have any choice. I know how much it sucks. The people you killed were all stone-cold assholes. Bikers. A psycho sniper. Me? That guy I shot in the house? He was a decorated vet who came back from the war with mental problems. How do you think I felt, having to shoot a guy like that?”

Probably a lot worse than I did having to shoot Corey Faisse. And I still feel like shit about that one. He was an assbag, but the circumstances were…unusual.

“So we’re birds of a feather, huh?”

“I think so.”

I’m starting to like him even more. I always tried not to think about that when we worked Traffic because I was married at the time. But I’m not married anymore and neither is he. I might as well do a little recon before this goes any further.

“So what’s up with you? Are you seeing anybody?”

Direct, but what the hell, right? If he’s taken, then I should find out sooner rather than later, shouldn’t I? He seems a little taken aback by it.

“No, no one. What about you?”

“Does Sergeant Varanasi count?”

That threw him! Well, the Sarge is the closest thing I’ve got to a guy anymore, isn’t he? That kind of makes him my boyfriend, right?

“You’re seeing the Sarge? Allison, he’s old enough to be your dad!”

“I’m kidding. The Sarge is my teacher, my partner, and my friend. That’s about as close to a boyfriend as I get anymore. No, I’m unattached. As usual.”

“That’s kind of hard to believe. Have you looked at yourself in the mirror lately?”

Ah, yes! “Pretty girls can’t possibly be alone!” They oldest myth in the world! Take it from me: there is absolutely zero truth to that one!

“I’ve seen myself in the mirror plenty of times; including when I step out of the shower. I’m still unattached. Sorry to bust your bubble.”

“You didn’t bust it. Kind of the opposite, in fact.”

So he was hoping I was unattached. Good. That means he’s interested. Even though I outrank him, he’s still interested. That’s a good sign.

“It doesn’t bother you saying that to a sergeant?”

“No ranks here.”

Good answer! I think it’s time to skip the small talk and go right for the brass ring, don’t you?

“All right. Let’s play a little game. It’s called ‘Honest Answer,’ OK? You have to answer the question honestly. Fair enough?”

“Sounds easy enough.”

Don’t be too sure of that, pal! This little game can have a big payoff, but it’s not easy! Not for most people, anyway.

“All right, I get to ask the first question: when we were both working Traffic, did you have a little thing for me?”

Hey, I suck at this, remember? I’m a total klutz around guys! The direct approach is all I know! And as you probably already figured out, this game is usually played under very different circumstances!

“Honest answer? No. No, I didn’t have a little thing for you. I had a big thing for you. But you were married.”

He’s good at this. Better than I expected. It took some guts to answer like that. Things might get very interesting when it’s his turn.

“True. Too bad I didn’t realize what a dickface he was back then. It would’ve saved me a lot of heartache. And money.”

“I thought so, but I was understandably biased.”

“And now?”

“I’m not sure what you mean?”

“Are you still…understandably biased?”

Hint, hint! I’m asking if you’re still interested in me! I don’t know if I’ve had too many beers or what, but I’m kind of liking this. I want to see where it goes.

“Honest answer? Yeah. I think you look even better now than you did back then, if that’s possible.”

Another good answer! And he’s right: I’m stronger now. It tightened me up in all the right places. It’s all that training the Sarge puts me through. It’s kind of a fringe benefit.

“You’re not so bad yourself.”

“Thank you. My turn. What did you think of me when we were working together?”

Trying to ease it in. He’s afraid he’ll turn me off if he asks the wrong thing. Predictable.

“Honest answer? I thought if I wasn’t married; something might’ve happened there.”

It’s true. As much as I’m a total nympho in bed, I’m pretty straitlaced in my personal life. I could never cheat on a guy once I committed to him. It’s not in my nature. It’s like how I always keep my promises: I believe if you make a promise or a commitment, you’ve got to see it through no matter what.

“So how come you didn’t look me up after your divorce?”

“Honest answer? Because I was a total basket case and that was the last thing on my mind. I don’t know if you heard about it…”

“I didn’t even know you got divorced.”

Being at another station, that’s probably to be expected.

“Well, it was a nightmare and I totally lost it. Not only did he dump me like a bag of shit; he sued me for alimony and won. I had to pay him for two years until he got his business up and running. And even then, I had to sue to get the divorce settlement overturned. I was broke like you wouldn’t believe. I almost ended up homeless.”

“I had no idea. I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you. I always considered you a friend.”

“Don’t apologize. Believe me, you wouldn’t have wanted to see me back then; much less be around me. I was a walking disaster.”

“You seem to have bounced back nicely.”

I have. I didn’t think I ever would, but I ran into the Sarge and the rest is history. If it weren’t for him, I’d probably still be a basket case. Not as broke, but still a basket case.

“I have the Sarge to thank for that.”

“I think it was as much you as it was him. He may have pointed you in the right direction, but you’re the one who got you there.”

Not bad, Robbie! Part of me thinks the same thing. The Sarge picked me up and set me back on my feet, but I’m the one who had to learn to stand up again. I realize that. Interesting that he realizes it, too. Keep up the good work and I might just take you back to my place and fuck the living shit out of you, pal!

“Thanks for the vote of confidence.”

“One thing you don’t lack for is confidence, Allison. Everyone can see that. You’re the most confident one out there on the assessment field. We didn’t pick you to call the shots just because you’re a sergeant. At first I thought it was because you’ve been training with Sergeant Varanasi, but it’s clearly more than that. You’re ten times the cop you used to be. You can’t do that just by learning how to shoot a rifle.”

Good point. Insightful. I like that in a guy.

“The training really opened my eyes to what the job’s all about. I realized I’d been sleepwalking through it for all these years. Not anymore. I’m good at this and I know it. Sometimes I can’t believe it, but I know it. Now I want to be the best I can be. I don’t want to be just a competent cop anymore. I want to be the best.”

“It looks to me like you’re well on your way. I’m not the only one who sees it, either.”

I think we just turned a corner here. In fact, I think poor Beefy is going to have to settle for the couch because my bed is about to be seriously occupied! And if that’s the case, then I think I need to steer this conversation in the right direction. We wouldn’t want it going off the rails when we’re so close, would we?

“All right, let’s play another little game since it’s just you and me sitting here. We’ve worked a lot of the same assignments; know pretty much the same people. If you could bang any woman on the department, who would it be?”

Hey, I’m not teasing him! I’m just curious! I want to see what his type is. Is that a crime?

“Well…if you could bang any guy on the department, who would it be?”

Nice tactic! Turn it around so he doesn’t make a mistake and he puts the ball in my court at the same time. Very efficient, Officer Yeager! Sound tactical plan! I’m impressed!

“Interesting tactic, Officer Yeager. Now, I’m pretty sure you’re hoping I’ll say it’s you. Let’s make it a little more interesting: I’ll answer you and you answer me, but I can’t say it’s you and you can’t say it’s me, all right? We each have to pick someone else. So who would it be? Honest answer: who would you bang if you had the chance?”

Let’s see if he can navigate through this. It’s a dangerous question. You take the risk that the other one will tell the person you name. That could lead to all sorts of embarrassment. But the best games are the ones that involve a little risk, right? That’s been my experience, after all.

“Honest answer? Elizabeth Larkin.”

Northside Station patrol. I’ve seen her. Very cute. He’s got good taste.

“Betsy Larkin? Petite, hot body, rocking the girl-next-door look? Solid choice. I wouldn’t kick her out of my bed.”

I think that last part kind of threw him but it’s true. I’d do her if she was up for it. It’s not like I’ve had an opportunity to ask her, though. I hardly know her.

“I didn’t…I mean, you were married. I didn’t think…”

“What? That I’d be into that?”

“Are you?”

See? Even in this day and age, a lot of people are surprised at things like that. I don’t know why. Doesn’t he look at porn sites? Everybody else does.

“Put it this way: it wouldn’t be the first time for me. And she’s really cute. You’ve got good taste.”

“Yeah, she’s hot. But not as hot as you. Your turn. Who would you bang?”

“That’s easy: Sergeant Varanasi. But then again, maybe he’s already nailed me?”

Yes, I said that with a very la-dee-da tone of voice. It was intentional. I admit it: I’m teasing him. But it’s the truth, isn’t it?

“So…has he?”

He sounded a little shaky when he asked that. I expected that. More than a few people at the station think the Sarge and I are partners beneath the sheets, so to speak. I think Robbie probably heard the rumors before, but he never considered that they might be true. Now he’s not so sure. I have an opportunity to make him squirm, but I’m not into that. Too bad. I’d make a great tease if I were into that sort of thing, but I just said I’m not a tease. I’m really not. Not unless you count me torturing the Sarge, but that’s not really teasing. I’d go through with it in a flash if he said yes.

“Let me tell you something about myself: I don’t talk about the guys I’ve been with. Not ever. I don’t release details and I don’t brag to the women in the locker room. I hate that. I hate it when girls do it and I hate it when guys do it. I believe what happens behind closed doors should stay there. People are entitled to their private lives. What do you think?”

This is a test, pal. The direction your night takes may hinge on it. Choose your answer carefully!

“Honest answer? The same. It’s nobody’s business but yours. I don’t like rumors or gossip. I think most of the time, it’s hurtful. And keeping it to yourself makes you less…inhibited. There are some things you don’t want people talking about, right?”

Good one, Robbie! He’s not just agreeing with me because he wants to nail me. You see, when we worked Traffic, I heard through the grapevine that Robbie wasn’t one to share stories in the locker room. There were a few officers like that. The rest of them? They were braggarts. They gossiped about every notch in their bedposts. It’s one of the main reasons why I wasn’t interested in them. Oh, and the female officers? Exactly the same. Some of them kept quiet and some of them would recount every single detail of their sexual escapades to anyone who would listen. Let this be a lesson, gentlemen: women are really no different than men in most regards. You’d be amazed. You’re welcome for the insight.

“Definitely. You can have a lot more fun if you know you’re not going to have a bunch of people talking about you and judging you. I always had way more fun with people I could trust to keep their mouths shut. What about you?”

“Honest answer? Probably not as much fun as I wish I’d had.”

You know, it takes a brave guy to admit that to a woman he’s trying to nail. Very impressive, Robbie! Very impressive! All right, I think my mind’s made up now: I’m fucking his brains out. I think that’s the right move, don’t you?

“Maybe that’s about to change?”

“You tell me.”

Trying to get me to commit. Good tactic. Well played. All right, since I already made up my mind. Why not?

“I think it’s definitely about to change.”

“Uh…I mean…what about…you’re a sergeant and I’m not?”

That again? Time to nip that one in the butt once and for all!

“So what? You’re not in my deployment. We’re not even at the same station. I don’t have any direct supervisory responsibility over you. Let me ask you something: if we were married and I made sergeant, would that mean I had to divorce you because now I outrank you?”

“No. That’s ridiculous.”

“Yes, it is. So let’s forget about that. No ranks out of uniform, and I’m not wearing my uniform right now. And once that door closes behind us, I don’t plan to be wearing anything after that. So tell me: what’s something you’ve always wanted to do that you never got the chance to do?”

“I’m not…I don’t…”

“This is not time to be bashful. Tell me something you always wanted to do to me. I won’t judge you for it. Come on, I want to hear it.”

“Well, after seeing you climb out of that pool the other day, I kind of wanted to…I know this is going to sound crazy, but I…”

“Spit it out, Robbie. What do you want to do to me?”

“I want to take you in the shower. I want to do you while you’re soaking wet.”

Not bad! I happen to like that too, as I’m sure you’ll remember.

“So you’re into water sports? Good. So am I. Do you want to watch me touch myself while the water’s running all over me? Then come in and take me from behind? Grab my breasts and make me pop over and over again while we’re both soaking wet?”

“I definitely want that!”

“Then you’ll get it. And a whole lot more. But first I think I want to suck you off. Very slowly. And when you pop, I want you to pop right in my mouth so I can swallow every drop of it. Do you think you can do that for me?”

Trick question. Any guy can do that as long as the girl lets him. I’ll let him. I’m totally into that.

“I’d love to do that for you.”

“Good. But you have to make me work for it. You can’t pop too fast. I like it when I have to work for it. It makes it so much better that way for both of us.”

Which is absolutely true: I never like to let anything go to waste, remember? Especially that. Especially that! And while we’re on the subject of water sports…

“You know, when I’m all soaking wet and covered in soap? Things kind of slide in anywhere real easy. All sorts of places. Did you know that?”

“No, but I’d like to find out for myself.”

“Don’t worry. You will. By the time I’m through with you, I doubt there’ll be much you can say you haven’t done with a girl. That’s the way I like it, you know.”

I think he’s about to have a massive coronary! I’d better get started before he passes out!

“You do?”

“Definitely. Trust me, you keep your mouth shut about it and you’ll find out. That’s the only thing I ask. I won’t tell anyone and neither will you. Got it?”

“It’s a deal.”

“Good. So you tell me: what’s the best tactical plan for ditching our friends and getting out of here without having to answer a bunch of annoying questions?”

Fortunately, I already know the answer to that one. There’s a door at the far end of the hall leading to the bathrooms. We both head out that way, but not at the same time. We can leave our cars here if we want to. My place is only five minutes’ walk from here, remember? Or we can drive and just tell everyone we decided to go home earlier than expected. I mean, look at them: none of them are paying attention to us. They’re half in the bag and trying to figure out how to play pool. It’ll probably be at least another hour before they even notice we’re gone. By that time, I expect to be riding Robbie for all he’s worth. Or maybe I’ll still be blowing him? We’ll see how long he can last when I go down on him and suck him dry. He says he never had as much fun as he’d like to have had with a woman? Well, I can fix that. I don’t have another girl I can call on short notice so he’ll have to hang onto his dreams of a threesome for a little longer, but the rest? I’m pretty sure I can help him check off most of the boxes he’s got on his sexual checklist. What? You don’t have a sexual checklist for when you’re about to start fucking wildly? You should. They’re very handy. You don’t miss anything good that way. Think of it as your sexual tactical plan. You never go in without a plan, right?

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