Ch. 10 – A Just Reparation
The nurse dabs antiseptic over the cuts, scrapes and puncture marks on the backs of my hands. They pulled a few pieces of glass out of the larger cuts and glued a gash on the back of my wrist shut.
Comparatively, this drive-by ended as well as I could have hoped for.
Although, it doesn't escape this dear southern belle's attention that the twists my life's taken are at the very least hazardous to my continued existence and for those that I care about.
I grunt and the nurse looks up at me, apologizing, "Sorry, it shouldn't be much longer."
I offer a curt smile.
I'll let her think that the little bit of discomfort she's providing is the source of my blustering.
"How big is that needle?" Nora's squeak draws my attention across the room towards the gurney she's sitting on. They made her change into a purple scrub top and the doctor standing next to her with a tray of needles and sutures looks less than impressed with Nora's staunch refusal of treatment.
"Miss," the doctor starts.
I wince before Nora even opens up her mouth. Poor kid.
"Now look here, doc," Nora snaps, poking the woman in the shoulder, "I'm fine. Hearing's good. The scrape's stopped bleeding. Sign the papers and get us out of here."
Muscles ripple under the smooth skin of her jaw and I know how close she is to getting both of us in a tub of boiling oil. Gently, but quickly, I push the nurse away and hop off my own gurney.
"Nora," I cut in on the staring match between doctor and patient. Her narrowed green eyed gaze cuts to me and she softens, not a lot, but her neck smooths out, the vein that was present disappearing under one of my favorite areas of her body.
I step between the doctor and my partner, but touch neither of them. "Maybe we should get that stitched up. If it cracks open or something, I don't want to have to come back here." I try for reason, hoping that her concern for my needs will sway her in taking care of herself.
She looks me over, then at the tray and then over my shoulder, giving the poor doctor the stink eye before resting her gaze once again on me. The same finger she used to jab the doctor's shoulder gets pointed my way. "Don't think I don't know what you're doing, Nicollette."
I wink at her knowing I've won. I dip my chin and turn back to the doc. "I'd hurry up with those stitches if I were you, ma'am. She's liable to bite."
The doctor, I look at the hospital I.D. badge and note the name, Denise Cooper, she looks a little alarmed. "Go on," I urge, "I'll keep her in line."
The doctor nods and steps around me when Nora grouses, "Let's get this over with."
Two sharp raps on the door draw our attention and Dan steps in. "Ladies, how are we doing in here?"
He shuts the door behind him and sends me a look at Nora's grunt. Nodding, our boss gets down to business, "I.A.B.'s here. I'm not sure…"
"They can come in if they want, I'm sure they couldn't care less that we were involved in a shooting today. I know…" Nora snaps as the first stitch to her brow is given.
"Nora," Dan warns for me. "They actually want to talk about the shooting. It's Chicaroo and Kesley so, they told me your review can be rescheduled to later this week."
Nora hisses, but manages a decent tone, "Hell, I might have to thank them. Did you guys pull anything from Traffic and how's the vic?"
"That's what I wanted to talk you guys about and Dimmick's in surgery. His daughter's on her way," Dan says pulling up a stool by Nora's gurney. "Traffic pulled plates, which are stolen by the way, but the vehicle itself, is registered to a Shaunte Brooks."
The name doesn't mean anything to me. The absent look on Nora's face says the same thing.
Dan smirks, "I thought as much, but I'm sure Darren Brooks does mean something."
"You've got to be kidding me," I snap. "That stupid sonuva…"
"I should have shot his ass at the damn junk yard the last time I saw…" Nora titters off.
"Wow," the doctor finally says something, "aren't you supposed to be the good guys?"
The three of us snicker.
"You'd want to shoot him too," Nora grumps as the doctor cuts the extra thread from Nora's stitches.
"You survive two drive-bys that he's been associated with and tell me how you feel after," I snip and cut a look to Dan. "What next?"
He smooths his pants legs and stands. "Armstrong and Barrett are headed over there to keep an eye on the place, while I try to secure an arrest warrant." He licks his lips and looks between Nora and me. "I think you two should head home."
"Like hell," Nora and I say at the same time.
"Try again, Harney," Nora hops off the gurney as soon as Dr. Cooper finishes securing the bandage to Nora's brow. "If we're going after him, we better be with the unit making the arrest."
"So what, you can go after him yourself, detective?" Dan snaps right back.
"Fuck going after him, I want his ass in a goddamn cell!" Nora steps up to Dan, their noses almost touching, before I put a hand over her bicep and tug her back. She pulls away from my touch and goes back to Dan. "I want in on it."
"We," I correct her, "want in on it."
"Sara," Dr. Cooper directs the nurse that we completely forgot about, "Why don't we leave the officers to discuss this in private." The nurse doesn't need to be told twice as she scurries from the room. "Please take all the time you need," the doctor says before slipping out of the room.
The three of us wait for the latch to catch before we go back to glaring at each other.
"Look, Nora, Nikki, I understand…" Dan tries to smooth things over.
"Fuck you, Harney," Nora snaps and I cringe.
That little outburst causes Dan's face to cloud. His hands shoot to his hips and he finally snaps, "No, Nora, fuck you. Why is it that you think you're the only one involved here? You seem to forget that you and Nikki getting shot at doesn't just effect you," he steps up to her and pokes a finger in her chest, "I've got your co-workers, your friends, Lt. Baird, Dr. Ophoven and your brothers out in the waiting room because of this shit. I want them just as bad you so back off detective," he sneers.
"Nora," I pull her over to me, rage burns in her beautiful green eyes and I need to figure out a way to calm her down. "Nora, please?"
"You two have worked, we have worked so hard to keep this unit together," Dan tries again, a little more calmly, "If it were Benny and Dom, would you send them out there to catch the guy that just shot at them? Would I.A.B. look at that as a sound decision if something happens?"
That causes her to falter for a brief second and then I watch as the fight in her deflates. Her hand finds mine and her thumb ghosts over my palm.
"Explain to me again, ladies, why I thought it was a good idea for you to come along?" Ron grouses from the back seat of Frankie. I catch his eyes in the vanity mirror of my visor and wink. "Beaumont," he growls.
I pucker my lips and make kissy noises at him.
He and Nora both crack up while I flip the visor up feeling a little bit more accomplished.
Sure the team going into get Brooks is fifteen minutes out and instead of being involved, Ron saved our collective asses and asked Dan if we could go with him to question the Seventh Circle Widows leader.
Ron's informant knows a guy that knows a girl that was willing to talk a little.
Thank God for my old partner.
If Nora and I had to go home after this morning…
The adrenalin rush wore off on the way to the hospital, the exhaustion set in shortly after, but it was laced with a severe case of tension that would have been exacerbated by sitting around our apartment.
I stretch my neck left and hear the pops and grinds.
A knot in the middle of my back loses a little tension and I sigh.
"Second house on the left, Nora," Ron steers my partner to a house in a middle class neighborhood of Chantilly Terrace.
She nods and looks around the street for a place to park. I spot an opening on our right two houses down from where we need to be and point it out to her. "There."
The car is placed in front of a canary yellow Ford Focus, causing Nora to snicker, "Nothing against Ford, but canary yellow?"
Ron grumps beside her after unfolding himself from the back seat, "Those types of colors should only be found on school buses and birds."
I shake my head and slam the passenger door to Frankie. "Siskel and Ebert, let's go."
"Why?" is all Nora asks as I step behind them and place a hand on one shoulder each to guide them towards the leader of the Widows, Daniel "Boo" MacPharlain.
"Don't know any car critics," I explain to duel groans.
"I'm so glad we aren't partners anymore," Ron pokes fun at me, "I think maybe I'll take Nora from you though. She's good people, knows her cars and I could use another decent detective."
"Over my dead body, Baird," I say smacking his shoulder as we climb the steps to a white brick home with faded blue shutters and a well-kept lawn. It looks too suburban to be the home of the leader of a gang. In fact, it looks too wholesome to be anything but a family home.
The three of us exchange glances and by unspoken agreement, Nora raises her hand to the solid oak door giving it three hard knocks with the knuckles on her right hand.
When Ron told us he had a name and a location, I wasn't really expecting this, something a little more towards the poor neighborhoods. Not something situated here in the heart of a traditionally middle class neighborhood. But here we are anyhow.
"Nora?" the person opening the door asks before I can even see who it is. I blink a few times to make sure I'm seeing Gabby Moreau looking the three of us over. "Fuck," she hisses a little quieter this time and swings the door open, ushering us in.
She crooks a finger and motions for us to follow her through a well put together home. We pass through a quiet but comfortable living room, formal dining room and a kitchen to the back of the house that opens up into a large den. A U-shaped cream leather sofa is the primary piece of furniture. A large flat screen TV is mounted on the wall next to a fireplace. A small group, three men and one other woman, sit on the couch, papers spread out on the long coffee table sitting in front of the couch.
"Bill," Gabby catches his attention and motions to us.
"I was expecting you guys sooner," Bill stands, comes around the couch and offers his hand in greeting to each of us.
Ron's eyebrow rises and Bill introduces everyone, "Detectives this is Tim, who you know, that's Danny," he points to a shiny, ball-headed black man who looks up from the papers he was studying to dip his chin, "and the other girl over there next to Danny is his sister, Lulu," her russet skin tone matches her brother's as does the smirk playing at the corners of their respective mouths. "Danny, Lu, Tim, this is Dets. Nora Delaney, Nikki Beaumont and…" Bill looks to Ron expectantly.
"Lieutenant Ron Baird of Vice," Ron offers smiling at the group.
None of them seem remotely shaken by our appearance in their home.
"You guys are slower than I thought," Danny speaks up first after the introductions, "Sit a minute." He motions to the couch.
The three of us exchange another set of looks before Nora takes point and leads us around to the other side of the couch.
"You want anything to drink and how's the head?" Tim asks, standing from his seat to head towards the kitchen. He shrugs, "News travels quick and the bandage, it's obvious."
"Sit," Bill says to the other balled headed white guy in the room. "I'll grab some…" He looks us over and says, "Coffee. Just made a fresh pot."
Gabby follows Tim and sits down on the couch. I'm sandwiched between Nora and Ron with Danny and his sister to our left and Gabby and Tim to our right.
"We heard about the shooting over at White's today. I haven't said anything to Cas, she'll freak," Gabby starts the conversation and I really can't help feel like my world got flipped ass over tea kettle.
Maybe the shooting this morning messed with us more than I want to admit. Maybe we should go back and check ourselves in.
"How was Jax this morning?" Lulu asks us and I cock my head to the side.
What's a Jax?
"Ah, who?" Ron asks as about intelligently as he can muster.
"Jackson," Lulu says for clarification.
And as if this day could get just a little bit weirder, Ron's phone starts up and Tim gives him a look and asks, "Is that The Mod Squad theme?"
Ron grumbles a 'yes' and explains, "Work," before snatching the phone from his belt and answering, "Baird." His lips purse as whoever he's talking to speaks and he nods. "Ah, uh-huh, kid's name wouldn't be Jackson, would it?...fuckin' magic…yeah…yeah, we'll be in shortly, keep him in the box."
The phone gets turned off and he looks back over to Lulu when he clips it back to his belt. "Jackson's sitting in an interrogation room waiting on us to get back to the station."
A relieved look passes over Danny's and Lulu's face, but before anyone has any time to ask questions, Bill comes back from the kitchen carrying a tray with cups, creamer, sugar and a carafe. He pours four cups of coffee and hands three off to me, Nora and Ron. The other he keeps for himself and drinks it black.
I'm in the Twilight Zone.
That's all I have.
"So, what questions did you have?" Gabby asks pouring herself a cup, keeping it black, she settles back against the couch and sips her drink.
"Apparently, we don't have any," Ron shrugs, "Jackson DeWitt confessed this morning to killing Chad Stohs and Jennifer Kirkpatrick."
"Ron?" Nora asks for both of us because I can't find my voice to save my life. 'Cause if that's the case, then our cases are closed. Brooks will or should be in custody already. The perps from the robbery are dead and the murderer of the perps is in custody.
I think I need to start today over again.
Gabby huffs, "Man you guys really are slow." She rolls her eyes and sets the empty coffee cup on the tray. She looks around to her group and then says, "Let's make this simple, Jax stepped out of line and he's doing the right thing. We would have handled Chad and Jen ourselves, but…we did what we thought was right. Jax shouldn't have retaliated for Chad and Jen stepping out on us."
"So," I finally find my voice and want perfect clarification, "This Jax killed Stohs and Kirkpatrick because…"
"'Cause C. and Jen shouldn't have done what they did, I'm not even sure why they robbed that bank. When we found out, no one had time to do anything our way," Danny answers, "Jax took matters in to his own hands and now he has to pay the piper, boo."
My mouth falls open to reply to Danny when the back sliding door is shoved open.
Brooks barrels in, a Heckler and Koch forty-five USP in his hands.
"Don't," Darren Brooks, who's obviously not in custody, looks to me and the other two who's already got their hands on their side arms. "Don't move another inch." We raise our hands in compliance.
Accurately, describing the feeling associated with having a gun pointed at you is troublesome most days…
But after this morning and the weird twists this day is taking, I can honestly say that I'm mostly just annoyed.
Really, goddamn fucking annoyed.
"You're a damn idiot," Danny snaps straightening up, but not standing. "You're a fucking idiot who's gonna get killed if you don't put that shitting thing away."
The gun rattles in Brooks hands.
I have to wonder what pushed him so far as to bust in on a rival gang member's home.
"Idiot?" Darren seethes, "You been comin' up on me, messin' with my money, fuckin' with my crew; what you think I was just gonna let that shit go? Nigger you're dumber than that ho sittin' next to you!"
Nora's finger grazes my thigh and I quickly cut my eyes to her and then back to Brooks.
I hope she's got an idea.
I'm out of them.
How do we get ourselves into these types of messes?
It's Gabby's sigh that draws the room's attention. Her eyes roll as her hands go up in the air.
"Gab," Bill tries to stop her movement, but she shrugs him off and stands.
"Sit your dumb ass down bitch!" Brooks yells.
Gabby ignores him. She spins around; hands rose to her shoulders until he sees there's no way in the tank top and skinny jeans she's wearing that she can be hiding a weapon.
She squares her shoulders. As if the gun wasn't even now pointed at her chest, she stands in front of him. Her profile shows the set jaw, straight back and the muzzle of the firearm pressed over her chest.
Brooks licks his lips. His eyes skirt to Danny then back to Gabby.
"What's wrong D.? Too much of a fucking pussy to pull the fucking trigger?" she taunts him.
"Gabby!" Tim tries this time.
"Shut up, Tim, I'm not talking to you. You'd pull the fucking trigger and get this shit over with," she says this with her eyes locked on Brooks. "Fuckin' no good, wannabe gangsta, pussy actin' like he gotta set." She leans forward causing the gun to press into her breast bone. "Do it."
It's almost comical. Brooks has a good foot and seventy pounds on her.
She's still far more intimidating.
She's practically vibrating now and Brooks is backing down. He scooted back giving himself a little space from Gabby.
Her head cocks to the side at his small retreat. "Ya know, I knew a guy like you once. Talked a nice game." Her head tilts to the other side and she sneers. "Operative word is 'knew.' His swagger fell flat when he stepped up lookin' to catch a case." She reaches out and pokes him in the chest. "What about you, dog, you got teeth to back up that bark?"
Nora's nails dig into my thighs. My right hand's got a death grip on the hilt of my gun. The scenarios of how horrible this could all end flash in microseconds across my mind's eye.
All of them end with bodies being carted out in bags.
None of the scenarios prepare me for Gabby making the first move. She lunges forward and then all hell breaks loose.
Darren's arm is pushed up at the same time his gun goes off.
I register the shouting.
There's lots of shouting
I blink and orient myself – out of my seat with my knee planted between Brooks' shoulder blades. Ron is cuffing the piece of shit.
I look around and see her kneeling in front of Gabby on the floor.
The evil, crazy pixie's head's tilted back. Blood dribbles from between her pinched fingers.
Ron snaps his fingers in front of my face and says, "I've got a unit on the way. You okay?"
Crawling over to Nora, I assess the damage.
It's Gabby's nose.
Oh, sweet Jesus, it's just her nose.
Crazier still is that she's laughing and looking at Brooks. "Fuckin' pussy," she spits, her blood and mucus flying towards the man lying on the floor. It lands on his cheek and he starts sputtering.
"Shut the fuck up," Ron snaps, sending a sharp kick to Darren's rib cage.
"Are you fucking insane!"
"What the hell's wrong with you!"
"I'm gonna kill you myself!"
All of that is said at once. The three of us kneeling on the floor cast a look to Bill, Tim, Danny and Lulu.
Smiles grace all four faces and Gabby starts laughing harder. Around the tissue, her nasally response sounds ridiculous, "I keep on forgetting…"
The five of them finish in unison, "No one wins with a head-butt."