Disclaimer: Still don't own 'em. Nope. Characters belong to so-and-so and so-and-so. Not me.
Amazing, isn't it? Fourth chapter up within the same year as the third? Wow, hehe.
By: SoldierToger (Kim Chancey)
Chapter 4 – GODDAMN IF YOU AREN'T A FREE MAN.
…Why'd they always have to pick the rookies for these things; the kids fresh out of the Academy? He'd always wondered about that back then, especially sitting at the bar listening to his 'pals' while they talked about nothing in particular; nothing of value to him, anyways. The lieutenant didn't want him reporting back about their latest hookups. Posing as a member of a drug-dealer's crew meant gathering better intel than that.
He later looked back on his undercover stint with the NYPD and understood the reason. Not that it changed anything. He was still here.
T.J. had barely fastened the jet's door when the report came. Damn, Brian. This is too close. A sudden dose of panic spilled down his throat but failed to take hold.
"You've got company! Limo broke containment!"
T.J. didn't know why he was looking so earnestly out the passenger cabin's porthole of a window. Seeing the limousine wouldn't change anything. They all knew it didn't matter what they drove: it would still be Hondo's team. And it had to be Hondo behind the wheel even if the sergeant didn't like to drive. The whole image was just too absurd for him not to.
Visible between the bridge's steel columns, T.J. thought he saw the glossy black body of the limousine tearing down the road after them. When he made out the headlights, he turned away from the window.
The Leer jet's interior soundproofing muffled the automatic gunfire outside as Gamble's lackeys attempted to deter the oncoming luxury vehicle; 'attempted' being the optimum word. Really? Just some muscle with rifles, Brian? Where're the tanks? The cement blockade? For shit's sake you landed a plane on the Goddamned Sixth Street Bridge, but you can't tuck an antitank gun in the back of that utility truck?
T.J. decided to blame the woman's incessant blubbering for his sudden nerves. His heart pounded in his chest, but he willed away the doubt threatening to overcome him—panic no doubt rising in its wake. They were going to get off the bridge and he would see his millions. He had to keep reminding himself of that fact…for he couldn't afford to imagine any other future…
"Just keep on coming," Gamble muttered.
No shit, T.J. thought wryly, eyeing his partner in crime's phone as Gamble dialed a number. The sudden answering splash of orange and red light drew his eyes back to the window briefly, ironically hoping to catch some hint that the limo survived the explosion, but the angle prevented it. Again, T.J. had to suppress his regrets. Had he known Gamble would so recklessly—strategically?—try to kill someone, he would've never stopped at 7th and Hope. So far, the death toll was still zero… He had to convince himself of that, too….
"…Goddamn if you aren't a free man!" Gamble crowed after ensuring they'd get their millions, pulling T.J. from his thoughts. A faint wave of excitement washed over him... Chagrined, T.J. noticed immediately the prospect of being a millionaire on the beach didn't do so much for him anymore…
The realization, that Hondo and the team still pursued them, stomped on his relief when automatic gunfire suddenly broke out behind them. T.J. inched ever so slightly from the window as bullets splashed against the fuselage. Finally Street and the others get to do some shooting of their own. Good for them.
"Get them off our asses," the pilot demanded.
"Just fly the plane," came Gamble's typical reply as he moved to the hatch. "Open the hatch. Open the hatch!" What the hell kind of shootout was this? Grabbing the back of Gamble's vest, T.J. watched him lean out the open doorway and return fire only to come back in a few moments later with a growl.
Your move now, Hondo. He thought, wondering what the sergeant would do. They didn't exactly cover tactical use of limousines against planes in training. The unknown worried him.
Glancing back out the window, dread welled up inside him as the black limo slid ominously into view behind the right wing. What was Hondo planning? He didn't want to find out. "Get this thing in the air!!" He watched, horrified, helpless while Hondo rammed the undercarriage, slamming the Swiss-cheesed vehicle into the jet's landing gear. The plane jerked with each impact. T.J.'s heart was in his throat.
The plane's nose lifted feebly. Yes
And dropped. No
They weren't going to make it.
As if to applaud his final acknowledgement of the obvious, the bizjet lurched violently, swerving and throwing its passengers into the walls. Legs, guns, Kevlar and defiant cries interspersed with terrified squeals tumbled about the cabin like salad bits. One of those bits caught T.J. upside the temple and he lost focus on the outside world for a bit, dizzy, feeling only the scrape of the plane's belly along the asphalt beneath him. The plane swerved sickeningly and T.J. found more than his heart lodged in his throat until, thankfully, the aircraft slid to a stop.
Oh well that was fun, he thought, his eyes shut to wait out the spinning sensation. He was vaguely aware of a great hustle within the cabin, of something pulling against him and then lifting away…
...They'd assured him repeatedly that it was ok, that it was over; he needed to let go of the gun. T.J. hadn't cared. So what if his shoulder ached and blood ran down his arm. Really, he'd forgotten all about the pistol in his hand as he limped across the asphalt. The paramedics could check on the bullet in his shoulder later. He'd needed to check on Kearney….
Swallowing back bile and lifting a hand to his temple, brow furrowed with the throbbing in his head, T.J. regained his senses. His fingers came back slick with his own blood.
The abrupt roar of an M4 burping somewhere above drew his attention back to the situation. He looked over to find Gamble tying a loop of tactical rope around the ever-crying hostage.
"Dammit," T.J. growled around the ache in his skull.
"Hope you got a plan B, brother," Gamble shook his head, barely looking up from his work to acknowledge the fact that, of course, McCabe had nothing of the sort…He'd never wanted to do this in the first place, not really… You bastard, was all T.J. could think, watching the helpless woman—human-shield now—cry out the window. "Just stay there. You're fine." Funny how he couldn't hate her now; didn't even find her annoying. Instead he felt sorry for her as he should've all along and he sympathized with her vulnerability for the two of them shared that trait now. He couldn't fathom the use of the rope, but knowing Gamble, it definitely had a purpose, she had a purpose. Gamble had a way out and if he didn't, he'd make one. What did T.J. have? Only the distant prayer that the renegade S.W.A.T. officer wouldn't shoot the woman once she'd outlived her usefulness. After all, he couldn't help her.
The two of them stepped out of the wreckage, leaving T.J. alone with his thoughts.
How could he have been so stupid? Why?
Bullets danced against the fuselage, but T.J. didn't flinch. Wincing, he shifted on the expansive faux leather seat, unaware his movement, the contrast of his vest verses the crème jet interior, caught a pair of eyes on the outside. A half-hearted scan of the floor confirmed his M4 was gone; probably the source of the automatic fire he'd heard first open up overhead. Someone must have taken it from him while he was out of it. Figures. Oh well. Reaching down, he pulled his Kimber Custom II from its holster and studied its sleek, cold frame. He switched the tactical light on.
Part of him wanted to peer out the porthole window, curious as to how his former-teammates fared. Why bother, though? He knew how it would end. So he sat back and tried not to listen to the shouts and pops outside. It didn't work. Without trying, he picked up on the decidedly different tempo to the firefight, the purposeful bursts of fire emerging from the initial maelstrom. What had once been two guns firing from the lee of the plane had become one, then none and he got a glimpse of Alex Montel fleeing down the bridge. The heavy thud of boots announced someone's pursuit; probably Deke. T.J. followed the invisible clambering, wishing the man luck even if he didn't need it. The guess was unfounded, but still he knew. Could it be so hard to place the players? Gamble was gone, Street no doubt following. Deke over the top after the frog. That left Sanchez and Hondo.
Oh God. Reality hit him—just how many times could it do that logically? Well, fuck logic, nothing about this bullshit was logical! He closed his eyes and desperately tried to swallow down the wave of despair bearing down on him. His life was ruined. They'd come for him soon. He wouldn't run. Where would he go?
Movement beyond the Plexiglas, quick but decisive. Hondo or Sanchez? Hadn't he heard someone shout out her name earlier? Had she been hit? He hoped not. Sure he'd been an asshole when they first met, skeptical of a woman on S.W.A.T. Hell, who hadn't been? Nevertheless, Sanchez had grown on him. She had eyes for Street, sure, but she wasn't his type anyway and that was before one even counted her baggage. No, he viewed her as an equal, trusted teammate in the end; simple as that. Fuck. What had he done?
T.J. clenched his eyes shut.
Why hadn't he listened to Kearny all those years ago? Why hadn't he gotten help? Because he didn't think it'd end up like this? Didn't think it'd catch up to him here on the opposite side of the country? Hah.
He opened his eyes just in time to spot the light beam highlighting the ground approaching the door. It could only be Hondo. The officer—former officer—fought the compulsion to fidget in his seat, to press himself into the wall and disappear before his sergeant saw him, trapped like the rat he was in all his shame. His pulse quickened.
Oddly enough, when the plane's gaping door revealed Hondo at last—gun-first naturally—T.J. didn't break down as he feared. He shuddered inside as the sergeant leveled his own Kimber Custom II's barrel at him. No theatrics just… sadness and regret cutting through him, oblivious to the bullet-proof vest and Kevlar.
How did it come to this?
…Oh yeah. That's how…