A little oneshot. Takes place right after 2245 in Season 4. Includes references to Draw the Line and Come from the Shadows. No slash.

I don't own the Hanson or Penhall characters but sure do love them together.

Reviews (good or bad) are much appreciated.

Slipping Further Down the Spiral

A turning of a doorknob. A slight shuffle. The thump of something being quietly placed on a table.

Doug heard these little noises as he tried to drag himself out of a deep sleep. He might have been dreaming or someone might actually be in his apartment. It was hard to tell. He felt himself flinch as he continued to try to pull himself back into consciousness. After several failed attempts, the veil slowly lifted and he found himself in bed, lying on his stomach and drooling on his pillow. He felt slightly nauseous from being dragged out of such a deep sleep but he forced himself to roll over to look at the alarm clock. It was 3:44am. He told himself the noises he heard were just in his head and rolled back onto his stomach again to go back to sleep. Just as he started to drift off again, his ears focused in on the sound of a drawer being quietly opened and something soft brushing against wood. The drawer was just as quietly closed before he heard another shuffle and the couch move. He opened his eyes and concentrated to see if there was anything else but he heard no more.

Doug knew what the sound was so didn't feel the need to get up. Hanson was having a rough night and, as in so many nights before, had come to his apartment so he wouldn't have to be alone in his own. Doug always kept a stash of a blanket and pillow available for Hanson for these nights just as Hanson had kept similar supplies for Doug. Doug periodically used them. Not as often as Hanson but sometimes when bad memories taunted him. Lately they had been thoughts of Marta that kept him awake and driving him towards Hanson's apartment for solace. But, tonight had been okay. No bad dreams of Marta being hurt while he stood nearby doing nothing.

Doug laid there thinking of Marta for awhile, halfway between being asleep and awake, when it struck him that something was wrong and he opened his eyes again. Ronnie Seebok was supposed to be executed tonight. He knew Hanson had been trying to get Ronnie to make a video about the perils of drugs and violence but hadn't had much luck. The department had chosen Hanson because he seemed to have the best rapport with Ronnie and Doug hypothesized that Hanson empathized with Ronnie a bit too much. They had both been convicted of murders they themselves hadn't actually committed but where Hanson had been set up, Ronnie had been a willing party and was probably responsible for many more murders that he did get away with.

Doug had no idea what had happened to Ronnie that night but he suspected that Hanson did and now curiosity and worry got the best of him. He flopped the covers off of him and rolled his legs off the bed and onto the floor.

Doug shuffled into the living room and, as he had anticipated, Hanson was sitting on the couch. He could tell right away though that this was not the normal "I couldn't sleep" visit. Doug could see from the streetlight shining through the window that Hanson had taken the blanket and pillow out of the drawer but instead of using them as a pillow and blanket, Hanson was clutching both to his chest like he was holding onto a life vest. Hanson's face was covered in shadow so it was difficult to make out his exact expression but the way Hanson was stiffly perched and not acknowledging his entrance alarmed him.

Doug moved forward and sat on the coffee table across from where Hanson was sitting.

"Hey, man, you okay?" Doug asked while chancing to touch Hanson's knee.

Hanson loosened his grip on the blanket and pillow a bit and looked down before answering quietly, "No, I don't think so."

Doug sat silently waiting for Hanson to continue with an explanation that he knew he'd get eventually.

"They executed Ronnie."

Doug didn't know what to say. He's sorry? No, he couldn't do that. He wasn't sorry. Ronnie had earned it. Good riddance? No, he couldn't do that either. As upset as Hanson seemed, Doug knew it wouldn't fly with him. He needed a neutral question or statement.

"How do you know? Did the warden call you?"

The answer was not what Doug had expected.

"No, Ronnie asked me to be there. I watched him die." Hanson's said in a matter of fact manner. He tightened his grasp on the pillow and blanket again digging his fingernails into the fabric and defying his failed attempt to be stoic.

"Holy shit," Doug thought as he watched Hanson. Hanson did not need or deserve this. He could put on a good show but Doug knew that as much as he had witnessed death, Hanson still hadn't built up the mental callouses needed to brush it aside like other cops could. It was probably one of the reasons why Hanson was still so good at his job but it left him emotionally vulnerable and scarred. Tonight was obviously no exception.

"You wanna talk about it?" Doug asked stooping down to try to get Hanson to look into his eyes.

Tom averted his gaze to avoid Doug's attempt. "No, I don't think so," he said but then raised his dark eyes to look directly at Doug. "No-one he knew came. He was eighteen years old, Doug, and he was systematically murdered in front of a bunch of strangers. We all just stood there and watched him be killed."

Hanson's face was still in the shadows and to Doug, his eyes were so dark and intense that they resembled empty sockets except for a small shimmer that started to show as Hanson's tears picked up a bit of light from the street lamp. Hanson sniffed and quickly wiped his eyes not wanting to give into his grief.

"You were not a stranger, Tom. Ronnie asked you to be there for him and you were. There's nothing else you could have done." Doug said quietly in his lame attempt to try to console him. He waited a moment for a response but not getting one, he gently pried the blanket and pillow out of Hanson's arms. He laid the pillow down at the end of the couch and coaxed Hanson to lay his head down on it before throwing the blanket over his body. Doug then sat down on the other side of the couch and pulled Hanson's legs onto his lap. Hanson didn't protest Doug's 'mother hen' treatment so Doug settled into the couch and leaned his head back to stare at the ceiling and ponder about how messed up the whole situation was.

After what seemed only a few minutes, Doug noticed the pale grey light of early dawn creeping into his apartment window. He stole a glance over at Hanson and saw that his eyes were closed so Doug gave into his own exhaustion and drifted off into troubled dreams of Marta and Hanson, the two people he loved most, being tortured and hurt while he stood idly by not knowing what to do except listen to their cries of anguish.

The End