A/N: Thanks to all of you who have been awaiting new chapters from this story. I'm currently on my way to finishing up another story but I'm torn as to how exactly to end it so I wanted to post a chapter for this story! Please leave me feedback if you have any opinions on this next installment!
CHAPTER 20: Biased Booking
I kept a safe distance away from Ace as I ran around him in the direction of Captain Harris's car. In my hands I held the precious keyring that Harris had been so reluctant to give to Ace. I could hear Harris's voice amongst the voice of the student group that was most likely making a curious circle around him as I made my way to the car.
Parked off by itself, I finally saw Harris's Corvette covered in the dark tarp. I lifted it only high enough to open the driver's side door, and then I unlocked the vehicle and got inside. I left the door slightly ajar so that the interior lights would stay on and I saw Harris's handcuffs between the driver's seat and the door. The radio was in the glove compartment as Harris said it would be. It was then that I realized I had no idea what to say or even how to work a police radio.
Scratching my head with my free hand, I held the radio up to my mouth and spoke into it. There was no echo of static so I figured I'd done it wrong. I pushed a rubbery button on the side of the radio and spoke into it.
"Is Proctor there—" I began haltingly. Dammit, what was his rank again? This time I could hear a static-filled echo as I spoke, which was more encouraging.
"Metropolitan Precinct 19, Mahoney speaking," a man's voice said. "Would you identify yourself?"
"I'm a cadet at the Metropolitan Police Academy," I explained. "April Carnegie. I'm on Captain Harris's radio."
"Ha! Really?" the man suddenly guffawed. "Never thought I'd see the day. Boy, oh boy. Let me guess; he's tied to a chair right now or perhaps he's wrapped in duct tape; am I right?"
"Uh, no," I murmured. "Why do you ask?"
"No reason," Mahoney quickly replied. "Well, if Harris isn't in some kind of trouble, what is it that you need, Miss?"
"Proctor," I asked, feeling too informal. "Captain Harris wanted me to speak with—"
"Hold on, Miss. I'll get him for you."
There followed the sound of the radio being fumbled about and soon I heard Proctor clearing his throat.
"Captain Harris?" His voice sounded oddly timid, like the whine of a puppy prepared for a beating.
"No, it's April Carnegie—from the academy."
"Why are you on his radio? What happened?"
"There's a cadet that needs to be arrested—he held me and Harris at gunpoint and threatened us. We don't have a police car here."
"Oh, so you need backup then?"
"Captain Harris wants you to come down with the squad car. We're at the game lands."
Proctor arrived on the scene in twenty minutes with a squad car. By that point Ace had been handcuffed and was now leaning up against a tree, Harris aiming his weapon steadily at him though he was no longer a threat, what with being unarmed and surrounded by dozens of academy cadets.
All the while I blended in with the student body, finding myself flanked on either side by Mullers and Stiner.
"So Ace was going to kidnap you?" they asked simultaneously, as Proctor and Harris loaded their struggling prisoner into the back of the squad car nearby. "Where was he taking you?"
A difficult question to answer. I was not about to mention the Corvette ever again, so how else could I explain it? I cursed myself for doing what Harris had done time and time again—thinking of a good lie. All the while Harris shot me a covert side-eye in an effort to better hear my reply among the hundred or so students congregating in the area.
"To his car," I blurted. "He was asking for a ransom to try to get money off of my parents."
"Holy shit," Mullers muttered, her words slightly slurred. Apparently she'd already had a lot to drink. "So your family is rich…."
"Not hardly," I replied with exasperation. "He just assumed away once I'd told him I was related to Andrew Carnegie."
"Huh," Stiner murmured, stone cold sober. "When did you get here? I didn't see you come in…."
"That's because Ace stopped me before I got to the bonfire," I hastily replied. I hoped she wouldn't ask how I'd gotten there.
"Wasn't that Proctor guy with you?" she asked. At the sound of his name, Proctor turned around from his position near the squad car. "I thought you got a ride with him," she added.
Proctor's eyebrows went up as he stood beside Harris near the squad car.
"Nope—" he began, but was elbowed in the stomach by Harris, "—erson should have to walk all the way here," he spit out.
Stiner could see that Proctor and Harris were clearly listening in on our conversation, and she gave Proctor a little nod and stopped talking. So I hadn't been linked directly to Harris, but I had been linked to a lieutenant linked to Harris. It was then that I realized just what had just occurred. Captain Harris had prevented Proctor from saying what really happened, that'd I'd gotten a ride from Harris. Without even thinking first, I turned to Harris and gave him a big smile.
His response, of course, was to look confused and a bit paranoid, his eyes narrowing immediately. Before I'd even blinked, he began suspiciously scanning the area around him while I came to my senses and turned again to Mullers.
"What was that all about?" Mullers asked me. Oh shit; now I'd really done it. Harris had rescued me from Proctor's big mouth only to have me ruin the secret a second later. I could feel the blood drain from my face.
"Well—it's really nothing… I just—"
"Now what?" Norris suddenly blurted out, clearly wasted. "You got the bad guy, Captain Harris; can we go back to the party now?"
At the rather bold request, Harris narrowed his eyes, which were presumably locked on Norris. He didn't speak for several unbearably silent seconds. I held my breath, hoping he'd allow for the cadets to have fun.
"I think you've done enough partying for one night," Harris growled at him, hands on his hips. Unlike at the academy, Norris now had his beer muscles and wasn't about to back down, even if it was to a superior.
"Oh, is that right?" he slurred, taking a shaky step sideways. "Guess I'll just drive home then," he said with an obnoxious snort. He tried to shrug but only ended up shrugging one shoulder and cocking his head to one side.
"Don't you dare, boy," Harris growled. He turned to his lieutenant and spoke very close into his ear. No one could hear the murmurings, but Proctor's expressionistic face conveyed that he was to do something dastardly. After he'd backed away from Harris upon hearing his instructions, Harris gave him a grim smile.
"Go, Proctor! Move it, move it, move it!"
With that, Proctor quickly jogged over to the driver's side of his squad car and drove off towards the bonfire. Harris stayed put all the while, glaring at the cadets around him. He was basically stuck now, because he certainly couldn't go walk off to his Corvette now—everyone would see him. I wondered what would happen next.
In only about five minutes, Lieutenant Proctor returned with the squad car, a big smile on his face. Upon stopping by the group of cadets, he got out of the car and saluted Harris.
"I did what you asked, Sir!" he said with a goofy grin.
Harris turned to the students, a satisfied smirk on his face, at his fellow officer's confirmation.
"Now that the scene has been cleared, you can all return to the party. I wouldn't dare spoil your night of fun."
His tone was serious, but I detected a note of irony in there. Was he serious? Was he actually letting everyone go back to the party? Norris was the first to turn around and head back towards the bonfire. Captain Harris let him go without another word.
Cheers erupted from the crowd as they followed suit, stumbling back towards the party. I walked alongside Mullers, elated that I hadn't been ratted out by Proctor—or Harris.
Suddenly I felt someone grab my shoulder. I pushed on, pretending as if I hadn't felt the grip. Eventually, the grip on my shoulder prevented me from going any further. Mullers stopped as well, seeing that I was being held back.
"Just go on without me," I said to her, bitterness in my voice. "I'll be over there in a bit."
Once she'd hesitantly begun walking towards the bonfire once more, I turned to face Proctor, my arms crossed across my chest, staying silent.
"You have to provide a statement," Proctor said insistently. "You know, to convict him."
"Can't I do that later?" I asked, my voice coming out a bit too whiny. "Captain Harris knows what happened."
Captain Harris heard me say his name and glared over at me. I continued speaking.
"Captain Harris can tell you everything," I said, looking at Harris sneakily. I'm sure he'd skewed the details of the story to better pad his resume, and so my telling a completely different story would hurt his credibility; not that he cared anyway. "Can I just go to the party for a while and give a statement later?"
"I'm afraid that's not possible," Proctor said, looking pouty. "You have to come to the station now and then you can—"
"Ehh, give her a couple hours," Harris remarked, making a dismissive gesture. "She won't forget what happened to her—mark my words."
I almost smiled, but then Proctor spoke again.
"But Sir, we have a new policy. We can't delay investigations, because for every minute that goes by—"
"That's with a crime in which the criminal isn't apprehended," Harris replied matter-of-factly. "My criminal is sitting in your squad car right now waiting to be booked, thanks to my excellent police work."
"Sir, I can't let her leave—she has to give a statement."
"Well, can't I do that here right now?" I cut in. Proctor shook his head.
"No, we need another unbiased officer."
"That'd be me," Harris said with an expectant raising of his eyebrows.
"You're biased," Proctor remarked. At Harris's angry look, he smiled sheepishly. "Well, you are, Sir."
"And how is that?"
"Well, for one, you're a witness. Two, you and the suspect have a past. You're biased, Sir."
"Where the hell do you get off on telling me I'm biased?" Harris spat furiously. "Do you realize just who you're talking to?"
"I'm sorry, Sir, but Captain Mahoney wants us to expedite interviews to break cases sooner." His eyes went wide like saucers, realizing the gravity of his error. "Oops…."
Within a moment Harris's face had turned beet-red, his eyes like daggers.