First Blood Contest Entry - Title: Seventh Precinct
Disclaimer: Charlaine Harris owns Eric Northman and the SVM characters.
A/N: This is my entry in the First Blood contest. Voting ended last night, winners will be announced Friday 11/5. (I think. LOL)
Thanks sooo much to SibylVaneVamp, Bloodsucker815 and Huntley for hosting the contest!
A Redhead Thing is the matzo ball in my soup! Thanks so much for taking the time to beta for me, Rach. One day we will meet in person, and the world will tilt on it's axis. JS
NOTE: Please be forewarned that this story contains images of domestic violence.
*x*x*x*x*x*x*x*x Seventh Precinct x*x*x*x*x*x*x*x*
I heard the call on the police radio when I started my car to head home from work.
"Four four four at the location of the domestic..."
I froze. My hand on the gear shift and my foot on the break. My brain flashed through the events that had occurred just over a year before. I felt transported back to the night that my partner had made a similar radio call. I felt sick to my stomach for a second and then it passed. I exhaled and shook my head. Fuck. I thought I was over it, but every once in while the memories came back and nailed me, like a solid kick in the nuts.
The night that it happened, my partner, Steve Newlin, and I were on the three to eleven shift, which I hated. It was better than eleven to seven, but it still sucked. I liked daytime shifts, when the sun was out and the crazies were sleeping. It seemed like people saved up their major crimes for nighttime, when we got busy with drunk and disorderly calls and traffic violations. Sure, the heat tended to make people a little testy, and we broke up fights at all hours of the day and night, but when the moon was out, it seemed like every nut-job in the greater New Orleans area came out of the woodwork.
Worse than that, working this shift meant that I could go days without seeing my wife, and that made me fucking miserable. She worked a regular nine to five job at Tulane and was usually in bed by the time I got home after midnight. We'd each been known to wake the other up for a round of love making when I worked these crazy hours, just to feel close to each other and make sure we didn't go too long without exchanging, 'I love you's.'
I took my foot off the brake and leaned back in my seat, letting the memories run their course.
"Eric! What's up?" My partner called out as I came through the locker room changing into uniform.
"Hey, Steve. Ready for tonight?"
"Ugh. As ready as I can be, Northman. Two more nights of this, right?"
I nodded in complete agreement. We'd been on this shift for almost a month. We had the seniority to work the day shift, but there was some rule that no one had to work the night shift for twelve months continuously, so each month, one day shift unit rotated to night and vice versa. I grabbed the keys out of Steve's hand and headed for the briefing before our shift started.
N.O.P.D. broke the city up into districts, and I worked in the Seventh District, or New Orleans East. It covered the area east of the Industrial Canal and north of the Intracoastal Waterway and included a portion of the Ninth Ward. For the most part, it was a much more suburban area than what people thought of when they imagined New Orleans, and since Hurricane Katrina, the area had struggled.
We met for the nightly briefing, but there was nothing major going on that we needed to discuss at length. We were on the look-out for the same people that had been on our list all month, minus the two that were arrested during the earlier shift. The Watch Commander sent us out, telling us to have a good night and to be safe.
I hightailed it out to our car to beat Steve, using my long legs to my advantage. Having the keys to the car was one thing, but Steve's scrawny ass had slid into the drivers' seat before me in the past, forcing me to let him drive. It was an ongoing game we played, fighting over who had to navigate.
"Asshole," he joked, climbing into the passenger side.
"Loser," I shot back with a laugh.
The shift began like any other; busy during the time everyone commuted home from work, slow during dinner hours, then it began picking up when people got more alcohol into their system or spent more time with each other. Police work was a lot of waiting for a call to come in and keeping an eye out for anything illegal, or out of the ordinary in the mean time.
Around 7 p.m. a call went out for a car accident off I-10 by the abandoned Six Flags, but Steve and I were nowhere near there. We listened as the other units took the call and then arrived on scene, requesting the fire department and an ambulance.
"That might have been fun," Steve mumbled.
I laughed. Being a cop warped your sense of humor. I worried sometimes that I was turning into an asshole like some of the guys I worked with, but Sookie assured me that she'd let me know as soon as she saw that happening.
Every day we fought to take the best calls, sometimes racing across town when we were bored or if it sounded like a particularly good call. On this night however, aside from a couple more car accidents and a mugging, nothing interesting had come across the radio. Around 10 p.m. the radio crackled and asked for a unit to respond to a two three seven call on Mockingbird Lane on the outskirts of town. Steve and I both groaned, we knew we were the only car anywhere near that location.
"I fucking hate domestic calls," I grumbled. They were a pain in the ass, and you never knew what the situation was going to be like when you got there.
Steve responded that we were on our way and I whipped the car around to head towards the address. I flipped on the light bar and we were off. Pulling into the driveway, we passed a mailbox that read, 'Compton.' We drove up the long drive and parked, finding it quite obvious that there was a domestic dispute going on, based on the man dragging a woman down the front porch steps by her hair. Steve and I got out of the car, each of us with a hand on the guns at our hip, and began walking towards the couple that was now fighting on the lawn.
The woman fell to the ground screaming and crying, telling him to let her go. He kicked her repeatedly as we started to run towards them, telling her she was a stupid slut and to shut the fuck up. When we got closer, I tried to distract the man, who I guessed was Compton because of the mailbox, telling him to stop because we needed to talk to him. Steve was sliding towards the house, needing to check to make sure no one was inside waiting to shoot us and that no one was more seriously hurt.
Compton was acting pretty crazy, so I radioed for back-up and requested an ambulance for the woman. Just as Steve came down the stairs, Compton kicked her as she was trying to get up and the force sent her rolling backwards. She landed close enough to Steve that he reached down and gently dragged her towards the porch steps, then put himself between them.
"This is none of your fucking business. What the hell are you doing here anyway? Who called you?" Compton yelled at us.
The house was in the middle of nowhere, there were no neighbors to call it in. Who did he think called us?
"I can't give you that information," Steve said, taking the lead. He took a few steps towards him, as he stood there, huffing like he'd run a marathon and looking like he was on some kind of drugs. "What's going on here, sir?"
"Just an argument with my wife. You all can go. We've got it under control."
"Well, we're already here, and your wife maybe could use a once-over from the medics when they get here. Why don't you and I take a walk, and my partner here can wait with your wife?"
The next seconds passed in slow motion. Steve took another step towards the guy and I saw him start to move his hand behind his back. Simultaneously, Steve and I pulled our guns.
Steve yelled, "Don't shoot!" at the same time that I yelled, "Gun!"
But he didn't stop. In a smooth movement he pulled his gun and fired at Steve, but the shot went wide as Steve jumped out of the way, getting off his own round. Compton's bullet had barely passed Steve, when he swung around and fired at me.
The sound of my gun going off rang in my ears. It was a sound I'd heard thousands of times before, but somehow it sounded vastly different when the bullet struck someone in the chest. The noise from the gun shot echoed in my head so loudly that I couldn't hear anything else.
I saw Steve's mouth moving as he ran towards Compton, but didn't hear the words that were coming out. Compton had fallen to his knees, but was still agitated and appeared to be screaming at someone, but I still couldn't hear. Steve knocked him down, wrestling the gun out of his hands and tossing it out of reach.
The silence in my ears became a ringing, and then they cleared enough that I could hear Steve's words like they were coming down a tunnel.
He had his radio to his mouth, practically shouting, "We need two ambulances on Mockingbird Lane at the location we were called to. Four four four. I repeat, four four four." He gave the code that indicated there had been an officer involved shooting.
I watched as Steve started CPR. Holy fuck. I had shot someone. The dumbass had pulled a gun from the back of his khaki pants, and shot at us. I'd had scary moments before, and people had pulled weapons on me, but something about this guy had been off.
I played over the events in my mind, step by step. Compton pulled the gun and shot at Steve. Steve fired as he dove to the side. Compton's weight shifted towards me, and his arm began to swing. I dropped to my knee squeezed the trigger. His bullet passed over my head. Then I heard the sound of my bullet burying itself in his chest. I heard that sound over and over.
"Eric!" Steve yelled. "Check on the wife." I nodded but didn't move. "Now, Eric."
His words finally registered, and I seemed to snap out of it. I nodded and moved towards the house where the wife was sitting on the stoop crying.
"Is he dead? I hope you killed him," she managed through her tears.
Her eye was already turning a nasty shade of purple, and her lip was both swollen and split. I was certain she had broken ribs from all the kicks she'd taken, but we were all running on adrenaline at that point, so she probably didn't feel anything.
"My partner's working on him. We've called an ambulance. They'll be here in no time to check you over. Are you okay for now?"
She nodded, and I stood at the base of the steps, angled so I could see both her and my partner, who was alternating between doing compressions on Compton's chest and breathing short puffs of air into his mouth. Fuck. I'd shot someone. That was going to put me behind a desk, which I hated. It was everything I avoided when I went to the Academy; paperwork, sitting still, staying inside all day. Shit. The Chief of Detectives and half of the N.O.P.D. would be showing up any minute to start the investigation.
Damn it. I hated domestic calls for this very reason; they were totally unpredictable, and assholes like this dude ended up fighting with us because we tried to break up the original fight. If he died, I was going to be pissed. That was a lot of fucking paperwork, and shit, I would have killed him. I was trying, unsuccessfully, to not think about that.
I thought over the procedure of an officer involved shooting; what a nightmare. The crime lab guys were going to take my gun for investigation. The next squad car that showed up would secure the scene and leave us waiting for the shit to hit the fan. The District Attorney was going to show up and be a complete bitch. They'd have to decide if there were charges to be pressed, but I felt like it was a pretty cut and dry case of self-defense, so I wasn't too worried about that. It was just going to be a clusterfuck until everything got straightened out in the next day or so. If the fucker died it would be worse, because on top of the paperwork, they'd make me see a shrink to make sure I was 'dealing with things.'
An ambulance raced up the driveway and cars began pulling in behind it. The EMT's ran forward, one stopping to check on the wife before joining his partner to work on Compton. Steve stood up and got out of the way. In seconds, the medics were loading Compton on a gurney and kicking up dust as they took off for the hospital.
Officers Charles Twinings and Tara Thornton were the first unit to join us, and they took over the scene. Twinings kept an eye on the husband while he was treated, and Tara went to talk to the wife.
Steve was covered in blood when he came to stand next to me, and according to my watch, it had been just under ten minutes since he started CPR. That wasn't a good sign. I had a bad feeling the fucker was going to die.
Two other police units had shown up, and they began to set up to investigate. There really wasn't a lot to secure per say, since the Compton's lived on a country road, and their only neighbors were buried in the family cemetery.
"Northman! Newlin! What the fuck?" a deep, scratchy voice called. Andy Bellefleur, Chief of Detectives had arrived. He came to stand in front of us, hitched his pants at the waist and looked right at me. "You?"
"Fuck. Gun." Andy wasn't big on words. He reached out a hand, and I gave it to him. He looked at Steve. "Any of that blood yours?"
"Good. You two, don't leave. You know the drill."
He unloaded my gun and put it in an evidence bag and moved around the scene talking to everyone he could. Pam Ravenscroft from the D.A.'s office showed up, and after talking to a few people, made her way over to us.
"Gentlemen, I was on a date. You couldn't take this joker down without shooting him?"
"No, ma'am. He fired at us first. It was self-defense," I said, matter-of-fact.
"That's what it sounds like," she snorted. "They're taking the wife to the hospital for a chest x-ray, but she'll give a statement that favors you, I'm sure." She shook her head. "These two are quite a pair. Have you been called out for them before?"
I glanced at Steve, and we both shook our heads. "Nope, never heard the name Compton before."
"Well, they're equal opportunity. Half the time it's Bill beating on Lorena, and the other half it's her going after him. They just moved out here from the Quarter, so no one recognized the address. He always thinks she's cheating, and she keeps catching him actually cheating." She sighed. "There was an incident a few months ago that he hasn't even been to court for yet."
"Shit," I muttered.
"Yeah." She nodded. "You boys might want to call your hot little wives and tell them you'll be late."
"Yes, ma'am. Thank you, ma'am," Steve said quietly.
"Don't thank me yet. It doesn't look good, and if that bastard dies, it's gonna be a media circus. More proof The East is going to hell, and all of that."
She walked away and left us standing there, waiting for the next person to come talk to us, question us, or yell at us. We weren't going to be cuffed and stuffed in a squad car or anything, but they'd have us walk them through the events, and we'd have to give our official statements back at the precinct.
Steve looked at me. "I'm not calling her. No need telling Sara til morning."
"Yeah. I won't wake Sookie up just to tell her I'll be home even later. I'll send her a text. If she wakes up and I'm not there, that's the first thing she'll check."
We stood there like we were suspended in time. There was activity going on all around us, people were moving around back and forth from the front yard to their vehicles, calling back and forth across the yard to each other, and a second ambulance pulled in to take Mrs. Compton to the hospital. I texted Sookie but all I typed was, 'I'm going to be late.' No need to worry her with all the details; I'd tell her everything in person later.
Andy and Pam were talking when the second ambulance arrived. Andy excused himself and stopped the EMT's on their way to the wife. I couldn't hear anything that they said, but when Andy looked over at us, I knew what he'd learned. His jaw was tight but his eyes were almost sad as they met mine, and he gave a barely noticeable shake of his head.
"Shit," Steve said under his breath. "Eric, I think you killed him."
"I know I did."
I shook my head. "You did CPR for close to ten minutes on a man with a gaping chest wound. I knew he wasn't going to make it; I was just hoping I was wrong."
"Are you okay?"
"My brain is sort of on overload." I ran my hand through my hair. "Part of me thinks it doesn't matter because he was a cheating, wife beating piece of shit, but the rest of me knows I have no right to judge him. I feel like there's something I'm missing, like there has to be something else I could have done, but I keep replaying what happened in my mind, and I don't see anything I could have done differently."
"You didn't do anything wrong. Neither of us did."
Andy came back over to us, hitching up his pants again. "Newlin, drive yourself back to the precinct." He cocked his head in my direction. "And you're with me."
Shit. I was in for deep thoughts with Andy Bellefleur.
He turned around and started walking back to his unmarked sedan, and I followed, feeling a little like I was going to the principals' office. He backed the car around and drove us down the dark country roads to the highway without a word. About ten minutes from the precinct I heard him sigh.
"You know what I'm about to say, right?"
"Well, I'm gonna say it anyway. Everything that happened back there hinged on Compton's actions, not yours. You watch everything a million times in your mind, and you'll never change the outcome. He aimed a gun at you and fired. You didn't take the first shot. The bottom line, Northman, is that you saved your own damn life and the life of your partner. You with me?"
"Yeah, mostly," I sighed.
"Mostly's better than not at all," he laughed for a second and then was serious again. "The problem when a cop shoots a suspect is that we're good people, and we can't get our head around killing another person. We're out there everyday trying to prevent it from happening. You've gotta see the big picture of tonight though. What you did, it prevented him from killing two, if not three people, and that's all that matters."
I nodded, looking out the window and watching the lights of the city pass by. I wondered if that really was all that mattered.
"They'll make you talk to the shrink, Doctor Ludwig. You know her?"
I nodded. She'd come through the precinct a few times to remind people that our Employee Assistance Program covered mental health services. No one had taken her up on the offer as far as I knew.
"Yeah. She's fucking weird, but it'll do you good. And they won't let you back on the street until she says you're okay, so tell her whatever the fuck she needs to hear. Alright?"
I nodded again, all sorts of thoughts still swirling in my head.
"I'm sorry, I didn't hear the marbles rattling in there. Alright?"
He parked the car in the lot beside the building but didn't make a move to get out of the car. "Now, go in there, give your official statement and get out of here. Go home, fuck your wife, and remind yourself you're still alive."
My head whipped around towards him. Fucking Sookie had been the furthest thing from my mind. I didn't even want to think about her in conjunction with the shit going through my head.
Quietly, Andy said, "You aren't the one that died tonight, Northman." He exhaled. "Look, you don't need to hear my long story about how I've been there, done that. Don't run around lost in your own head, it's not going to be pretty in there for a while, but it will get better."
"I'll keep that in mind." I wasn't sure what else to say. I would do my best to stay out of my head, but it was hard, my thoughts just kept interrupting themselves and swirling back to the shooting.
"Alright. I'll fire up the coffee, and you can write up your statement." He opened his door and stepped out of the car. He strode into the building without looking back or waiting for me. Heaven forbid he look like he gave a shit.
I sat in the car for a minute, alone with the thoughts Andy didn't want me to think about. I tried to think about something else, so I tried to remember what Andy said. I had done everything according to the book. Compton was in the wrong, not me. I didn't fire until I was fired upon. I shot him in self-defense, and in defense of Steve and Mrs. Compton.
Andy was right, I needed to go inside, do my paperwork and go home to my wife. The woman I loved, that I lived for. Shit. I needed to go home and make love to my wife. It wouldn't make it better. It wouldn't make me forget. But it would take it away until morning when I could face it head on.
I got out of the car and went into the building with purpose. I wanted to get my statement down on paper and get the fuck out of there. I did everything they asked, answered questions, typed up paperwork, filed documents and found out where I'd need to report for my next shift. Then I followed my routine, changing out of my uniform and driving home.
I knew even then that I wasn't okay, not one hundred percent anyway. And I knew that I'd be thinking about that night for a long time, but I wasn't going to let it take over. I was a survivor.
And here I was, back in my car in the same fucking parking lot, trying not to lose my shit over someone else's call. I squared my shoulders and cracked my neck before taking a deep breath. Backing out of my parking spot, I headed for home.
I heard Sookie in the kitchen when I opened the door. She was cooking something and singing to herself. The house smelled delicious and her voice was music to my ears. I sat my duffle bag down with a thud, and she turned to me, a wide smile on her face that fell just a little bit when she saw me. I was leaning in the doorway from the living room watching her. She adjusted the burner and set the spoon down on the stove before walking across the room to me. Her hands ran down my chest and around my back as she wrapped me in her embrace. My arms came up automatically and pulled her to me and I rested my chin on her head.
"Better?" she asked after a few minutes.
"Mmm. Yeah," I sighed.
I was always amazed at how easily she could read me to know exactly what I needed. I didn't need to talk, and I didn't need her to tell me it was okay. I just needed to feel her close to me and breathe in her scent. I'd seen Doctor Ludwig after the shooting, but the only therapy that ever helped me was right here, in Sookie's arms.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. In the U.S. call the National Domestic Violence Hotline. 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit www(dot)thehotline(dot)org
For a Global inventory of hotlines, shelters, crisis centres and women's organizations, searchable by country, plus index of domestic violence resources in over seventy languages visit http:/www(dot)hotpeachpages(dot)net/
Thanks so much for reading! This was a challenge for me, to write a story about First Blood that was still "me." I feel like I worked it out. Anyway, thanks again for reading. I'd love to hear what you think!
If you get a chance, check out the other entries in the contest if you haven't already.
Really, Six Flags New Orleans has been abandoned. Check this out: