Disclaimer: [Finding no way to reinvent the standard disclaimer, the disheartened author settles for a bracketed response.] You all know Southland isn't mine.

If there was one thing that experience had taught Officer John Cooper, it was that once you get one garbage call, you'll get nothing but garbage calls for the rest of the day. All you could do was ride it out and hope that sooner or later, there'd be some action.

Even if you had to create it yourself.

Cooper pulled the cruiser up to some hole-in-the-wall tattoo parlour and yanked the keys out of the ignition. His back was starting to twinge from sitting too long, so he was glad for the opportunity to stretch it out a bit. Richie Rich stepped out of the car in his typical easy, pain-free manner (the bastard) and followed him like some pathetic lap dog into the store, all big-eyed and pretty looking.

Some fat biker stood in the middle of the tattoo joint, cussing out the tattoo artist and stomping around like some rampaging bull rhino. "Who's *** Dennis? Who is that?" he asked, obviously not expecting an answer. He was in full whine mode, screaming and yelling and generally creating a scene just for the hell of it.

"Damn," thought Cooper. "It's one of those. Stupid three hundred pound prima donna. The garbage calls continue." Sherman hung back, probably intimidated by the so-called 'victim' so it looked like it would be up to him as usual. Striving for calm, he said, "Hey, what's up?"

He didn't really care what the hell was going on—didn't really want to know, to be honest—but hey, a guy's gotta do his job. Even when it sucked.

Tattoo guy, in full self-righteous glory, turned around and finally noticed that the cops showed up. He wasted no time in stating his complaint. "I come in for a *** tattoo and this is what he does." He turns around and displays his back, the name DENNIS proudly emblazoned across his back in large gothic letters.

It would be funny if it wasn't so damn ridiculous.

Sensing the opportunity to dick with someone, Cooper adopted an air of slight puzzlement. "So what?" he asked, smirking.

"I told him to put Denise," said Tattoo Guy, incredulous.

"You mumbled it," replied the weenie behind the counter defensively.

At this, Tattoo Guy reached the end of his rope. "Shut the *** up," he said threateningly, taking a step closer to the counter.

Trying not to laugh, Cooper couldn't help but clarify. "So you wanted Denise and he put Dennis. This is why you called the police?"

Goddamn waste of tax dollars was what it was. Not to mention a waste of his time.

But Tattoo Guy wasn't about to put up with his smart-ass attitude, not when he pride was on the line. "Do I look like a faggot to you?"

And Cooper's mischievous mood disappeared with a snap. Just what he needed today. A goddamn bigot. Wanting nothing more than the pop the guy in the face, he said, "Well I don't know. What's a faggot look like?"

"Go ahead, asshole. Answer it. I dare you," thought Cooper. "You picked the wrong 'faggot' to mess with today."

"*** you," said Tattoo Guy.

Unoriginal. With a smirk, Cooper decided that the day just wasn't exciting enough if there wasn't a brawl involved. So he deliberately poked the bear with a stick. "Can I?"

Tattoo Guy charged and took him down with a solid tackle. The guy was built like a walk-in freezer, and the dull ache in Cooper's back morphed into shooting pain. Before he could do any damage to the three-hundred pound skinhead laying on top of him, the rookie decided to step in and save the day, putting the guy in some sort of chokehold and rendering him unconscious.

Neat trick, but he was doing fine on his own. Damn kid and his hero complex. Gonna get his head blown off someday if he didn't reign it in.

And just like a knight in goddamn shining armour, Richie Rich reached down to help him up. Cooper shakes of the eager beaver and takes his sweet time getting to his feet. He tells himself it's because he got the wind knocked out of him and not because of the way his back is screaming at him for his stupidity. Hey, he's entitled to a few self-delusions so long as they don't hurt anybody, right?

"Where'd you learn that?" he asked Sherman, deflecting attention away from himself for a second.

Because if there was anything rookies liked to talk about it was themselves, right?

"Summer camp," he replied.

The smug bastard.

Cooper hoisted himself off the floor, knowing that Ben now knew his little secret and wondering what the little pissant would do with it. But he wasn't going to bring it up first and sure as hell wasn't gonna beg the newbie to keep his lips zipped.

Who said acting like nothing happened wasn't the way to go?

Sherman just backed off and left it at that. So maybe the kid wasn't so bad after all.

"Told you. Whole day, nothing but garbage calls," he said to Sherman. As if that summed it all up.

Hell, maybe it did. If you asked him, the unconscious bigot was garbage in the truest sense of the word.

A/N: So I just couldn't help myself. I thought they'd do more with the gay bar scene in the pilot, but they just kind of subtly suggested and left it at that. I thought this scene in "Two Gangs" was a great way to get the point across to those who might have missed it before. Not to mention it was pretty damn funny. I didn't really do much analysis in this one, I just wanted to get a feel for Cooper's voice and see where it took me. Who knows, maybe I'll return to him once we get some more information on him and his life. Lord knows we're getting a lot more on Bryant and even Lydia…

Anyway, yet another short and clumsy little fic, I know, but hey, apparently procrastination cannot be ignored. Who am I to go against nature, right?