four corners pd
By: Cin and Heidi
*Warning: These two sections, while not graphic, do mention a rape and dealing with the investigation.
Day two: Friday (cont)
Nina pulled into the darkened Nature Park and eased to a stop beside the canine truck. She left her car running as she visually checked the large, deserted park for any potential threats. The corporal heard rather than saw the object of her quest playing in the open field. Just as she stepped out, a black head nudged her leg, choke collar jingling. Reaching down, Caswell scratched between Ace’s ears as Ezra walked up beside her. “Greetings,” Nina said, looking up from lavishing attention on the lab to meet the curious green gaze of the handler.
“Felicitations,” he replied with a nod of his head and a slight smile of his own. “What brings you to our humble place of exile?” he asked. Ezra leaned down to scratch Ace behind the ears. The Southerner referred to any place where he exercised Ace beyond Nina’s backyard, Chris’ ranch, and his own domicile as a place of exile.
“Just visiting. I’m bored.” Nina gave him a cockeyed grin.
“Perish the thought,” Ezra replied. His eyes twinkled and he was pleased that she sought him out and found her current mood highly entertaining.
“So have you dried off yet?”
“Spare uniform, my dear.”
“Must have been fun changing.”
“Almost as fun as the moment of juvenile behavior.”
“Yes, my hickey. I owe you for that.”
“Speak with actions, my dear, not words.”
“I’ll wait for the perfect time.”
“Should that frighten me?” He quirked an eyebrow at her, and his green eyes danced in amusement.
“Well, that doesn’t take care of my boredom right now. Can you help, Z?” Playful eyes met his in challenge.
Again, she used the nickname that if used by anyone else, earned that person a reckoning, Southern Style. In return for his magnanimous behavior of allowing her to say it, she only used it when they were alone together. “I will give it my best attempt, my dear.”
“Foot patrol sound good? Unless you’re scared of being on the trails alone with me,” Nina teased. “I just might attack you. Paybacks, you know.”
“If I were not a gentleman, you should be scared of being alone with me. However, as that is not the case, you will be perfectly safe. As for paybacks, I’ll enjoy seeing what your fertile imagination will come up with.”
“Ask yourself this: are you safe from me?” Giving him a wicked grin, she reached in to shut off her car, hearing her radio blasting a familiar song. “Oh! I just have to hear this.” She turned it up louder.
“Please tell me you are not going to sing,” Ezra pleaded. Since Nina kept her music volume constantly loud, and listened to music with the same passion he felt for playing poker, Ezra usually found himself listening to a variety of songs. A majority of the time, he complained vociferously about his ‘tortured eardrums’, but both knew he secretly enjoyed the exposure to different tastes. It often gave him a conversation topic with a complainant when waiting for a cab, ride, or tow truck to show. He also used the lessons for two covert reasons: one, to learn more about Nina, and two, to learn more about others through their choice in tunes.
Nina scowled at him. “No, I’m not going to sing.” Inspiration struck; there was no one around, no houses nearby, just the park and the road coming in they could easily see from their positions. She moved into the center of the open field that edged the parking lot, just before the trails started.
Recklessness flowed through her veins and she lived for the moment, not caring about consequences. Everything felt wonderful and she felt like she was riding a wave of craziness with no sign of it letting up. Besides, she owed this man for the little gift at the police garage. Nina turned and faced Ezra in the center of the field, the notes of the song carrying across the air to surround them in the music.
Under the lover’s sky, gonna be with you,
and no one’s gonna be around
Her body started swaying and she ignored the fact she was on duty.
Ace walked over and plopped down near her, his face rapt with attention.
Ezra leaned back against his truck and watched, his own mood slowly caught up in her infectious joyousness. With Nina, one never knew what to expect and a secret exhilaration filled him.
You think that you won’t fall, well just wait until,
til the sun goes down
She looked right at him and moved her lips to the words, her body in synchronicity with the music. For someone who claimed she could not dance and definitely could not sing, her body flowed with the grace of a natural. He was a captive audience, suddenly with a dry throat and churning emotions.
Underneath the starlight, starlight;
there’s a magical feeling so right
Their eyes locked as her hands slid down her body, roaming the outside of her police uniform, what should be a deterrent, yet still making herself desirable. Her blue eyes bored right into his, seeking his soul, making him question the strength of his defenses.
It will steal your heart tonight
He wondered about the truth in that, seeing her in a different light. His own conflicted feelings rose up to the surface yet not one whit showed on his face. His eyes, however, told a different story.
You can try to resist, try to hide from my kiss;
But you know, but you know that you
Can’t fight the moonlight
Deep in the Dark
You’ll surrender your heart
But you know, but you know that you
Can’t fight the moonlight
No, you can’t fight it
It’s gonna get through your heart
Their eyes held and caressed the other. The messages in them fired the senses of both. The lines of their ambiguous relationship blurred farther.
He felt that she was dancing just for him and it was a powerful, heady feeling, being the focus of that much energy and attention.
Slowly she drew closer to him, Ace remaining behind, not blocking her progress. Even the Labrador felt the dangerous currents flowing between his human master and the human female who lavished attention on him.
There’s no escaping, love
Once the gentle breeze
Weaves it spell upon your heart
No matter what you think
It won’t be too long
Till you’re in my arms
The lyrics brought longed for fantasies to the forefront. Neither party dared to breathe. With Nina mere inches away, the music trapped them in the notes, in the moment.
Underneath the starlight, starlight
We’ll be lost in the rhythm, so right
Feel it steal your heart tonight
Of mutual accord, they pulled the other close, pressing their bodies together, reveling in the contact. Both breathing hard, leaning even closer to each other, eyes seeking permission and granting it, heads tilting for the inevitable kiss…
“FC, 11-08.” Ladonna interrupted without knowing it, yet her voice filled with regret at the call she had to give the corporal.
Harshly snapped out of the spell, realizing where they were, they quickly split apart. Nina reached in her car and killed the volume of the song while giving Ezra an appreciable view of her backside in the horribly designed pants.
“11-08,” she finally answered once she felt she wouldn’t sound breathless, which she was, but Ladonna and the rest of the shift did not need to know that.
“10-4.” Nina grabbed her cellular and dialed Casey without turning to face Ezra yet…she was not ready for that. “Hey, what’s up?”
“Uh-oh. Casey, when you start a call with I’m sorry, I know I’m not going to like it.” She glanced over at Ezra, who was leaning down, playing with Ace, an inscrutable look on his face.
Nina sighed. “Where am I going?”
“Four Corners Hospital.”
“A rape. Sheriff’s Office brought her in and the victim’s requesting a female officer. They don’t have any working. Lt. Halter cleared you to respond.”
“Show me responding.”
“Sorry, Nina. I’m having Chris call in for the sector changes.”
“10-4. See ya.” Nina disconnected and waited about one second for the radio to chirp.
Nina looked at Ezra, finally meeting his gaze, studying his expressive eyes; eyes now shuttered closed by choice, not letting her read his emotions. A sense of regret filled her.
“You must leave?” It was more of a statement than a question, a reality check, because they were both on duty, and their time belonged to the taxpayers now, not to them. Personal business should stay at home, only enjoyed in the off hours. He was proud his voice showed none of the turbulence under the surface.
“Rape case at the hospital. Sheriff’s Office handling, but the victim wants a female.” Nina kept her voice neutral, not giving away her own emotional upheaval.
He nodded, opening his truck for Ace to leap inside and settle in the back. Somehow, both felt they were on the verge of something great and yanked back at the last second. It added a new dimension to their friendship and gave them both something to consider.
“If I don’t get done before end of shift, you’re coming over, tomorrow, right?”
“Of course; how could I resist the opportunity to test my skills against my co-workers in your humble abode?”
“Yeah, you did talk me into this, didn’t you?” The annoyed look she gave him showed her appreciation of her penance.
He grinned, giving her a flash of gold tooth in the moonlight. The heavy feeling dissipated between them and they fell back into their more familiar, comfortable roles. “I have no knowledge of what you speak.”
“Yeah, sure, Z.”
“You best be going lest someone complains.”
Nina sighed. “Yeah. See you later; if not, see you tomorrow.” With a final pat on Ace’s head and a slightly awkward moment between the humans, she climbed in the patrol car, turned in the direction of the hospital, and traveled the streets with a relatively blind eye. With the lack of female patrol officers, special requests in this general area were common. After she parked, she entered the emergency room, running into Rain between patients.
“Nina. They brought you in?” Rain gave her a quick smile, and squeezed her arm. She knew Nina hated rape cases, but also handled the investigation and the victim very well.
“Yup. Give it to me.” Nina asked for a quick rundown of the case so she knew what to expect when she dealt with the victim. Often, the person the victim spent the most time with right after reporting it to the police, and in the hospital, could determine how well the victim recovered. Nina preferred to know what she was dealing with as not to upset the already emotionally fragile patient.
“Eighteen year old freshman. Went to a party off-campus somewhere in the county’s jurisdiction. They got her drunk, and then took advantage. Dumped her in the field and urinated on her.”
Rain gave her a half-smile. “You know I cannot say anything.”
“Yeah, that’s why I said it for you. Who’s the deputy?”
“Great,” she muttered. “Mr. Sensitivity.” She really did not have a problem with Randolph, but sometimes his people skills left something to be desired.
Rain led her back to an examination room toward the end of the emergency room. The pretty woman entered the area, exchanging places with the deputy standing watch.
“Caswell.” He greeted her in an even tone. He was one of the few that survived the house cleaning right at the formation of the Four Corners Police Department. The only reason he made it through the sweeping changes was because he did his job, nothing more, nothing less, but at least he did not participate in the politics that ran rampant throughout the department during that time.
“Randolph.” She replied, thinking him a decent officer but lousy with the emotionally charged cases; his compassion abandoned him years before. They neither liked nor disliked each other; mutual toleration best described their working relationship.
“They sent you?”
Sometimes, she reminded herself, Randolph missed the obvious. Since her thoughts were not along a charitable line at this time, Nina answered sarcastically, “No, it’s my ghost. Can’t you see right through me?”
“Funny, Cas-per.” He felt proud of his insult.
Nina gave him a half-smile and acknowledged his wit with the goal of good interagency working relations and all that crap. Her bitterness was not against the Sheriff’s Office; it was aimed at certain people no longer there. “You want to give this to me, or do you want to exchange pleasantries?”
“Fine.” Randolph flipped open his notebook and gave her a factual account of the events as told to him by the reluctant victim.
Nina nodded briefly at the completion of his narrative, and then turned to enter the room. She approached the patient quietly and softly introduced herself. Nina calmly talked with the traumatized co-ed for a few moments, establishing a rapport, before bringing Randolph back in and the Sheriff’s Office detective with his recorder. The next several hours were spent holding the hand of the victim as she underwent a thorough examination and the evidence was collected. Finally, they settled the young girl in her room and sedated her for the remainder of the night. Nina followed the deputies back to their office, her former place of employment, to write up her supplement for them.
By the time she got home, it was eleven a.m. and all she wanted was her bed. Knowing that the alarm would go off soon enough, she crawled onto the welcome mattress, between the heavenly soft sheets, and promptly fell asleep.
The telephone rang once before it was answered with, “Communications, Casey, recorded line.”
“Hey, it’s Chris.”
“What’s wrong?” Chris knew Casey only called him Sergeant when things changed on him or something went bad.
“Sheriff’s Office pulled Cpl. Caswell for a rape case. The lieutenant’s made sector changes, but he wanted your input.”
“Give it to me.”
“Josiah and Nathan remain the same. Buck and JD are now in South and Ezra’s in East, keeping you roving.”
“Fine. Tell the others.”
“Who’s working the case at the hospital?”
“Good.” Chris knew Nina did not need any stress added onto the emotional toll of the call. The stress could come from whoever worked the case for the Sheriff’s Office because of her history there. Not that the Sergeant ever found out much, but there were some deputies there that survived the house cleaning under the new Sheriff who hated Caswell because of past events, whatever happened then. Because of his protective nature, he did not want to expose her to someone that hated her for an extended period. If it was someone that she did not get along with (and he made it his business to know who she liked and who she hated), Chris would stop by and check on her.
Larabee disconnected and sighed, listening to Ladonna reassign Buck, JD, and Ezra. He figured Nina was done for the night between the victim and the supplements required by that type of incident. Since they really did not plan the details for tomorrow’s feast, he’d meet with the squad to make arrangements.
The sergeant reflected on the night so far, finding that keeping a straight or smiling face was not as hard as he thought it would be. Of course, most of the shift was over now and he could go find a quiet spot to stay hidden from the others. Not frowning or glaring during the burglary taxed his reserves, but the incident with JD almost sent him over the edge. In the privacy of his vehicle, he scowled a bit as he thought about that, and he wondered if he’d really managed to keep from frowning. Nathan didn’t say anything, so he guessed he persevered and managed to succeed.
Heading South, he found Buck and JD in another of Nina’s hiding spots. As he rolled up, he noticed the tension was thick in the car. “Evenin’, boys.”
“Sir,” answered JD.
“Chris.” Buck shook his head. “He still hasn’t apologized. So this means we’ll be doing this again tomorrow. Permission to go to the office and do the reports there? Kid says he can type faster than he can write.”
“You don’t mind covering South for a few?”
“Nope. Give me a chance to catch up on my own paperwork. What are you bringing tomorrow?”
“Nina’s hosting, right?” Buck knew that if Nina hosted, she provided all the food and drinks.
“She’s on a rape call for the Sheriff’s Office.”
The face Wilmington made was one that Chris wished he could make for himself. “She’ll be in a pisser of a mood when this is done; rape cases really hit her hard for some reason. Who’s on it at the hospital?”
Buck blew out a breath. “At least it’s somebody that she can stand.”
“I thought most people liked Corporal Caswell,” JD wondered. “I’ve heard a lot of people ask about her.”
Chris and Buck exchanged a long look before Buck answered the question. “They do, but there’s some things that happened a long time ago, years ago, that no one that wasn’t here really knows about. You’ll find no one will talk about it, so watch what you say and who you ask.”
“Including you, right?”
Buck chuckled in response, remembering his unthinking reaction when Mr. Harkins asked about the wedding that he wanted to see between Buck and Nina.
Chris said, “He’s getting to know you pretty well, Buck.”
“Yeah, well, it’s said that an officer is a reflection of their trainer. If so, then parts of me are a reflection of you, and parts of you are a reflection of me.”
“I’ll try to make my own way, sirs,” JD informed them with a straight face. Since he already picked up the habit of rolling his eyes, he figured he’d watch carefully to see what else his subconscious mind was picking up from them.
“You do that, but just remember I’m responsible for everything that you do,” Buck reminded him.
“I know that.”
“So I just might apologize to Casey for you, because I DO NOT want to do this again.”
“No, Buck. You’re not apologizing for me.”
Chris gave him a knowing smirk, realizing Buck already tried, probably when he figured out what was happening. “Crashed and burned, Buck?”
“I’m getting pie,” Buck loftily responded.
“Just enough to gain back the five pounds you lost tonight.”
“All because someone here didn’t apologize.”
JD made another face.
Chris chuckled before saying, “Seriously, Buck, if you could bring drinks?”
“Got it covered.”
“JD, don’t know if anyone invited you or not, but Nina’s having a shift poker game before work tomorrow. We’re all showing up around three, play for a couple hours, eat dinner, then come to work. Something to break up the monotony and give us a little downtime together.” Chris waited for an answer.
“Thanks,” the rookie replied. “Do you want me to bring something?”
“How about some type of dessert?” Buck knew Nettie would not let him down about baking him a pie, but he thought the others might like something sweet too.
Chris nodded. “That works. Ezra will bring something gourmet, so something simple that we can pronounce and won’t be so pretty it’s a crime to eat.”
“Uh, sure. I’ll need directions.”
“No problem, Kid. I’ll write them down.”
“I’ll see you two later; better get started on those reports.”
“Yes, Sir.” Buck and JD drove off, heading for the mountain of paperwork JD would learn to fill out for the rest of the shift.
Chris reached for his cell phone, calling each member of his squad and finding out what everyone was bringing. With that done, he helped back up on the occasional residential alarm and waited impatiently for the end of shift. The worry in his stomach for Vin ate away at him, making him take more antacid, adding to the previous unsuccessful doses he’d taken throughout the night. He kept his hands away from any pens, not wishing to clean up the mess, and he stayed away from the weight room. His knuckles could not take another round.
Josiah continued his patrols, staying closer to Central than normal just in case something big broke out. Fortunately, nothing did. He enjoyed the peace, the quiet, but his bones filled with a sense of foreboding. Something was brewing, and it felt completely wrong. The confidante of many made a promise to himself to stay vigilant and closely observe the behaviors of those around him. He wished he could stop whatever was barreling toward them, but he knew Fate rarely listened to mere mortals.
Nathan found somewhere to sit quietly, filling out his log sheet and looking forward to going home. He wanted to spend a little time with Rain, if she felt up to it, and finish what they started before the shift. The paramedic just wanted a peaceful end of the shift and no late calls. He rubbed the back of his neck, wishing he could easily rub away the feeling of dread that was trying to sneak its way into his thoughts. Whatever was about to break, he hoped they were ready.
Ezra spent the rest of the shift in quiet contemplation, wondering about his feelings and about the incident in the park. He also puzzled through the extremely cheerful mood, trying to imagine Nina that way all the time. Ace jumped into the front bench seat, this time taking a nap with his head in his partner’s lap. Ezra absently rubbed his partner’s head, enjoying the quiet comfort the dog provided. As his mind raced, he only wished he could rub away his troubling thoughts, and the uneasy feeling that was settling on him.
Buck and JD arrived at the office. Wilmington parked the rookie at a computer, getting them drinks in spill-proof cups as they settled themselves into the grind of report writing. After two hours of this, JD needed to walk around. He stood, stretched, and then walked to the break room for another drink. He found Casey in there. Deciding to play it cool, he greeted her. “Casey.”
“Oh, it’s you.”
“Hello to you too.”
She gave him a twisted smile. “Have enough calls tonight?”
“Not really.” He shrugged, deciding not to let her see she got to him.
“I can fix that.”
JD shrugged again.
“It doesn’t bother you that you went to everything tonight?”
“It’s my job.”
Casey shook her head. “As Josiah once told me, pride goeth before a fall.”
Bravado decided to take a back seat. “Look, Casey. . .”
“Unless the next two words out of your mouth are ‘I’m sorry’, save your breath.”
“Will you let me -?”
“Not interested.” She turned on her heel to walk away.
He ran his hand over his bangs, feeling them start to fall. “If you let me finish –!”
Casey went around the corner.
JD cursed to himself while privately he admired her spirit, but refused to tell her that, and then followed. “Casey!”
“La la la la…not listening….” Her hands covered her ears as she continued down the hallway.
He stretched his long legs and got in front of her, making her bump into his chest.
“Get out of the way.”
JD looked down at her and said, “If you’d listen to me, I’m trying to tell you I’m sorry.”
“You kept walking away.”
“Oh, is this my fault? Do you hear me apologizing?”
“No, I don’t.” JD blew out a frustrated breath. “I’m trying to say that I like being busy, but I realize the calls could have been spread around to the other guys.”
“Like Mr. Harkins?” she smirked.
JD smiled slightly and unconsciously rolled his eyes. “No, I think I needed to learn about that one.” He eyed her seriously then, blew out a frustrated breath, and spread his hands out. “Look, maybe I rushed to judgement, and I really don’t want to do that so early in the job. Give me a chance to learn the ropes.” He then gave her what his mother called his best ‘puppy dog look’ and pleaded, “Just realize my foot might get in the way of my mouth sometimes.”
She looked at that mouth, and those eyes, and sighed. “You’ll learn.”
Throwing the remains of his pride to the wind, he agreed, “Only if you’ll help teach me.”
Casey smiled then, her smile lighting up her entire face. “Sure.”
“So, uh, um, are…?” He leaned closer to her, and she reciprocated, getting nearer to him.
“Officer Dunne!” Buck’s booming voice interrupted the moment. “Get back here. You have a lot of paperwork to fill out. Casey, thanks for the exercise, darlin’.”
They broke apart with the speed of a cat receiving a scalding.
“Yes, Sir.” JD cleared his throat before stepping out of her way.
“You’re welcome, Buck. Anytime.” Casey made it around the corner before she blushed, the heat rising in her cheeks.
Dunne lifted his eyes to his trainer, taking in the relaxed slouch against the doorframe, twinkling eyes, and upturned lips beneath the mustache. “You did that on purpose.”
“Turnabout’s fair play.” With a swift salute, Buck walked back to their seats chuckling.
JD flipped Wilmington off, which helped him feel better, then flushed because Buck waved over his shoulder, as if he saw it. Lead-filled feet dragged him back to face his trainer and the paperwork his pride cost him.
The lean body tossing among the rumpled sheets finally gave up the quest for sleep. Disentangling himself from his twisted bonds, he sat up on the side of the bed and ran a hand back through his sweat-dampened hair. Pushing himself up, he rose and strolled over to the lone window of his run down apartment. Pit was more apt to describe this hellhole. He rubbed his bare chest as he leaned against the frame of the open portal, hoping to catch a spring breeze to cool his fevered thoughts, as well as his overheated body. As he tried to pierce the darkness outside, he felt certain there were eyes trying to find their way in.
He couldn’t let his mind rest after the meeting earlier with Haskill. Things were just not right, and he felt he was losing focus on what direction to take. He experienced no problems returning to Four Corners and trading vehicles with Chanu once more. He’d even made it by Yosemite’s and dropped off two packages, one from Tiny, and the other he asked the big man to hold onto until circumstances dictated otherwise. It wasn’t too long after that, as he returned to his daily routine, he noticed the tails. The watchers were getting more intense, not letting up at all throughout the remainder of the day.
It was certainly a different case than the one he’d agreed to take on only a few months before, but it seemed like ages, not months now. It really wasn’t a hard choice to make then; the undercover work appealed to his loner spirit, even though he was still a rookie to organized law enforcement. The job was a sure bet for him, the deciding factor being when Larabee almost lost his life to a hyped up kid behind the wheel of a car.
He was all for being one of the ones working up front to get the drugs pouring into Four Corners off the street, before more lives were in danger or lost. It didn’t take long to learn that this case was not going to be simple because it was not the small time dealers focused on easy college campus pickings. The people running it, the ones he looked for in this maze of organization, were broader in scope with a much more sinister feel than the average drug pusher.
Tanner braced one hand across his chest and dropped his head down to the other raised one, rubbing his gritty eyes. He’d tried several times all day to covertly reach the one person who might advise him in this current mess, to no avail. At least he had thought if he could talk to him, Vin could be assured that his own warnings were heard and some precautions would be made. Maybe then he could feel better about what he felt sure was to come. Now he had to rely on Haskill doing his job, and somehow that did not sit well with him.
Briefly he thought he could have told Weasel, Ezra’s snitch, when he ran into him today to get a warning back to Chris. However, he quickly dismissed that thought. He knew about the others using their contacts to monitor him. He quickly took care of that particular problem, turning the contacts around to his side and only giving his friends what he wanted them to know. This system was how he kept many of his meets hidden, including the one that earned him the bruises he was finally recovering from. Maybe it wasn’t the wisest action to taken, but he knew his friends well. This was his job, his call, and no one else was going to be drawn into this mess if he could help it. Besides, he thought then, how effective would he be if he had those watchdogs on his back all the time?
With a heavy sigh, he drew back from the window and shuffled back over to the bed, sitting down hard on the lumpy mattress, the springs creaking in protest. He flopped back on the damp pillow and stared at the badly water stained ceiling above. The patterns left from previous leaks seemed to match the jumbled thoughts of his mind. No clear pattern, just a jumble of unclear trails. What was false and what was true?
He threw an arm over his eyes and willed himself to calm down. A clear head was one thing he would need to face what was coming and lack of sleep was not going to help that. Taking several deep breaths, he cleared his mind and finally felt the heaviness of sleep take over. As he drifted back into an uneasy rest, the feeling of an unknown evil stayed with him, lurking just out of reach. Whatever it was, it was coming, for good or for bad. It didn’t care about his friends, nor did it care about him. Was he strong enough? Could he handle what was coming? God help him, he hoped he was ready for it!
THE END OF DAY TWO...
When we said this would be a long AU introduction, we hope you realize we weren't kidding. So, as we're sure you still have questions, we'll ask some for you: What awaits the new day? Will there be trouble or will their sense of foreboding continue?
Tune in to the same Mag time, same Mag channel...