Down in the locker room of Williams High School sat two boys. But they were not boys. They were men who looked like boys; men who were cops, but who posed as boys at high schools in order to keep the real students safe from corrupt society, corrupt teachers, and corrupt peers.
These boyish men were officers Doug Penhall and Tom Hanson, and their investigation was not going well. They had been called onto a case involving two boys who had been murdered. The police suspected the murderer(s) to be somehow affiliated with the school, possibly peers of the deceased boys.
Whatever they had been right or wrong about in this investigation didn't matter much now. Tom and Doug had found the murderers. There were two, and both were surprising, as they were school staff: a janitor, Mr. Gale, and the school's own principal, Mr. Wallace Stern. But the murderers had found Tom and Doug at the precise same moment the officers had found them, and it hadn't been good timing on the officers' part.
The suspects ambushed the two cops. They caught Doug first and threatened to kill him if Tom didn't cooperate. Despite Doug's pleas for him to do otherwise, Tom agreed to go with them, and the suspects dragged them both down to the locker room, deep down below the school where no one could hear them in these late hours of the evening. Even if they screamed, only their captors would hear, and that would only make them angrier than they already were.
Wallace Stern, the school's principal led Tom down to the basement while the janitor led Doug in the same direction. The principal was a rather large man, maybe about fifty years old. He had a buzz cut hair style that looked like it had been bleached blonde. Doug wasn't sure if it was dyed or natural, but he didn't really care either.
"Mr. Stern," Doug heard his partner's pleading voice, "No one knows you're involved in any of this... If you just let us go now, we'll back off and pretend none of this ever happened," the younger of the two officers was visibly and audibly breathing rapidly in terror as the school's principal roughly pushed his arms behind him and hand-cuffed them to a metal pipe.
"Shut up," the man growled, slapping Tom's face somewhat softly and then bringing his hand back to mess up the young man's dark hair.
Tom winced and shrunk back, but his restraints wouldn't let him go far. As far as the suspects knew, Hanson and Penhall were seventeen and eighteen year old students. They didn't know the boys were actually men who were trying to investigate their crimes, "you haven't done anything but beat us up a little... If you just let us go now, we won't press charges... We'll just go our separate ways..."
Doug nodded, "the longer you keep us here, the more trouble you'll get in. Let us go now, the trouble will be gone. If you shoot us or stab us," he paused, looking over at Hanson who flinched slightly with each word. Doug looked back at the principal who still stood menacingly over his partner, "if you kill us... there's no way you won't go to jail."
"What makes you think we'll kill you?" the second man asked. He was the janitor, Mr. Gale, a tall, slender man with a receding hairline. He was the one who had locked Doug up, much quicker than the principal had locked up the other officer.
Penhall shrugged, "I dunno," he frowned, "what exactly are you planning to do with us?"
"Ooooh," the janitor smirked in a way Doug could only describe as evil, "I don't know... Maybe we could do to you what we did with our other little friends..."
"Shut up," the principal hissed under his breath, "we didn't do anything to anyone else... remember?" Doug half-expected the guy to even wink for effect.
"Right," Gale raised his eyebrows as he turned away, laughing slightly.
Doug looked over at Tom whose eyes were wide. He shook his head very slightly, trying to tell Doug not to press that matter. These guys had killed those two boys. Tom and Doug knew that. But they couldn't let the suspects know that they knew. If Tom and Doug wanted to get out of this alive, their best chance was to fake ignorance about these people's previous crimes.
"We'll do what we want with you," the janitor, Mr. Gale smirked.
Penhall frowned but decided it was probably best to stay silent for now. As much as he wanted to be angry and yell at this guy, he knew it was likely he'd get both himself as well as Tom hurt by being aggressive now.
Doug watched as Mr. Stern narrowed his eyes which were focused downward on Tom who was sitting, leaning against the pipes he had been chained to, "you boys normally go home after school?"
Tom frowned. He looked quite confused as he looked up at the principal, "yeah..." he finally said, "well, eventually... Um... not always right away..."
"Is anyone missing you right now? And don't you fucking lie to me," the man squatted down and leaned in very close to the young officer, "if things don't go my way, you're going to find yourself in bloody pieces all over the floor really quick."
Tom's eyes widened, "I don't think so," he gasped.
"Our parents don't keep real good tabs on us," Doug added, trying to take the man's focus off of his partner.
Tom must have sensed what Doug was up to, and he must have not approved, because he quickly took the man's focus right back, "Why? How long you planning on keeping us here?"
Stern shrugged and stood up. He walked away without another word.
Doug watched as Gale followed him, and listened to the sound of both men's footfalls on the stairs leading up to the gym. Now that he was sure he and Hanson were alone, he looked over at his partner and frowned.
"You do realize what's going on here, right?" he asked.
Tom nodded, "I'm not an idiot. I've been working on the same case as you have."
"I don't mean to scare you, Hanson," Doug frowned, "but judging by everything we've collected on this case, it looks like you're going to be their next victim."
"And then you," Tom added.
"I'm not really their type," Doug noted.
"You're basing that on only two prior victims. Who knows? They might be willing to take anyone... And they aren't going to just let you go after you witness them killing me," Tom sounded angry.
Penhall felt his heart sink at the thought of having to watch Tom being killed, "I wasn't trying to make this into a contest," he frowned, "I'm sure they'd kill me too... But I'm more worried about what they'll do before they kill us."
Tom pouted. He must have known what Doug was referring to. The two boys who had been killed before had been sixteen and eighteen year old boys from Williams High. They had been tortured, raped, and stabbed to death. These two boys also happened to be gay. When Tom and Doug had gone undercover, Tom was purposefully not forthcoming when some students asked him about his sexuality. Because the murders seemed to possibly be hate crimes, Hanson had thought he might be able to lure their suspects in with the introduction of a new student who might be gay.
He didn't know that the murderers were in fact, not the students they had fingered as suspects in the beginning. While the two cops were busy focusing on a group of students who were known to vandalize the LBGT club's bulletin board, they had no idea the principal and janitor were focusing on them.
Tom Hanson shared physical similarities with the two victims. They were both dark-haired, both attractive, white males... Doug had no idea how much trouble they were getting themselves into by purposefully making Hanson a target. If he had known, he'd have never let it happen.
"Maybe Fuller will notice we're gone and send someone after us before anything happens," Tom offered, shrugging and forcing a half-smile.
"We weren't scheduled to check in at the chapel until 7:30," Doug frowned.
"What time is it now?" Tom asked.
Penhall shrugged, "I think it was near five when they dragged us down here," he frowned, "and since we've been showing up late to Jump Street for the past couple of days, Fuller might not even think anything of it."
Tom was visibly uneasy. His eyebrows were knitted together and he looked like he felt sick, "what should we do?" he shifted, making the chains of the cuffs around his wrists make clanking sounds against the pipes.
"Just try to stall them, I guess," Doug decided, "I doubt we'll convince them to just let us go, so our best hope is to try to wait it out until someone comes looking for us."
"Should we tell them we're cops?" Tom wondered, "I mean, not right away, but if we get desperate... It might make them scared to do anything to us."
"Or it might make them want to kill us more," Doug winced, "but I guess if they seem like they're ready to kill us, we might as well... We'd have nothing to lose. I wouldn't want them figuring out on their own... You don't have your ID on you, do you?"
Tom frowned. He looked down as though ashamed, "yeah," he looked back up slightly, "it's in my back pocket."
Doug felt his own shoulders slump, "can you get it out and maybe throw it in a corner or something? Why are you carrying it with you?"
"I don't know..." Tom sighed, "you never know when you might need it... The last thing you'd want would be to not have your ID when you're trying to arrest someone."
Penhall smiled, "I think maybe it would be worse to have your ID on you when a murderer is checking your pockets for weapons while holding you hostage..."
Tom frowned, "I guess..." He fumbled awkwardly, trying to reach his bound hands into his back pocket for his ID and badge. But before he could grasp it, he heard footfalls coming back down the stairs. Apparently he decided leaving it in his pocket was a safer approach than trying to grab it and throw it to the side before their captors reached the bottom of the stairs.
"How're you doing, boys?" Mr. Stern's voice echoed down into the locker room.
Doug and Tom locked eyes for a moment. Doug felt quite unsure and saw Tom's eyes mimicking that feeling.
Stern immediately walked right up to Tom, "I see you two are ignoring me," he growled, squatting down next to Hanson, "you mad at me?"
Tom shrugged, "I'd be less angry if you'd unlock us," he forced a half-grin.
Stern did not seem amused by that remark. He reached out and hit Tom, hard, right across his cheek.
Hanson yelped. He tried to pull his hands up to shield himself from the possibility of the principal striking him again, but the chains would not allow it. Stern hovered over him for a moment and then hit him again, hard, right in the ribs, causing Tom to double forward in pain.
Before Doug could even think, he found himself calling out, "Stop it!" He could hear the sickening sound of the handcuffs' chain grinding against the pipe Hanson was chained to as his partner tried hopelessly to free his hands.
"You know," Stern started, standing up and turning away from Tom. Now he was facing Doug, who stared up at him angrily, "You boys say you're brothers, but I'm not really sure I buy that... You look nothing alike."
Penhall shrugged, "We're half-brothers," he lied, "Got the same mom."
"And she must be a real slut," Stern laughed, "she has you," he pointed at Doug, "with one guy. Divorces him... or whatever... And then gets pregnant with another kid within the year, with another guy?"
Doug shrugged, "While I don't appreciate you calling our mother a slut, I do not have any explanation for the timing of her pregnancies... That's not exactly something a guy asks his mom about, you know?"
"Yeah..." Mr. Stern sounded unsure. He looked at Doug as though he was trying to read something off him, trying to see something about him that he wasn't coming right out and saying, "there's something up with you two... I don't think I believe that you're really brothers."
Penhall sighed, "Well... we are. There's not much else I can say about it... You don't have to believe me. I don't see why it matters either."
"I just don't like people lying to me, see?" the principal glared.
Doug felt his heart pounding in his chest. He knew if he kept up this lie, they would be in a world of danger once Stern found out. But he also knew if he told the man they were cops now, he might snap and kill them both, or be so angry with them that he'd do something even worse. He hoped he and Hanson could just keep up this ruse until Fuller or somebody came looking for them.
"If you guys aren't brothers... then what are you up to?" Stern wondered out loud, not really speaking to anyone but himself, "friends? lovers?" he looked up at Doug.
Doug frowned, "no... We really are brothers," he insisted, "and besides... Neither of us is even gay."
"Nah... I'm pretty sure this one is," he gestured toward Tom who had remained silent up until this point.
"I'm not," his voice was small, but loud enough to draw the principal's attention.
"What's that?" Stern turned around and stared down at him. Doug wished Tom would have just kept his mouth shut. The principal seemed to be more focused on Tom, like he was more angry at him than at Doug. He was trying his best at keeping the man's attention off of Hanson, but Hanson kept drawing him back in.
"I'm not gay," Hanson shrugged. His eyes were wide and he looked scared, yet he didn't cower. Doug was certain his partner's heart was probably pounding even harder than his own. He could see that Tom was trying to remain strong and brave, even though he likely didn't feel very secure in this situation.
"Why then were you getting so chummy with Greg Middleton?" Stern asked, "He's the most obvious queer at this damn school... He's lucky no one's beat him to death yet."
Tom continued staring up at the man, "You know, you can be friends with gay people without actually being gay yourself... I just thought he seemed nice. I was new; he was friendly, so we hung out with each other." Hanson didn't mention the fact that he actually made friends with the boy because he and Doug saw him as a potential future victim.
"Um hm," Stern didn't sound convinced.
"Listen," Doug cut in before Tom could say something to offend the man, "our offer still stands... You let us go and you'll never hear from us again. We won't press charges or anything."
Mr. Stern did not turn around. In fact, he didn't acknowledge that Doug had spoken at all. Instead, he bent down over Tom so that their noses were practically touching. Tom pushed himself back against the wall and sunk down slightly.
"You got your ID on you?" Mr. Stern asked.
Tom's eyebrows knitted together, "no," he squeaked.
"No license or anything?" he patted Tom's thighs where his front pockets were on his jeans. Doug hoped he wouldn't think to check his partner's back pockets. If he found Tom's ID, he'd see the cop badge and would likely be furious, "I just don't believe you two are brothers..."
"I don't have a license yet," Tom lied.
"I saw you driving into the school lot," the principal noted.
Tom shrugged, "Doug let me... I'm old enough to drive; I just haven't gotten my license yet. Turn me in to the cops if you don't like it." Doug wanted to tell Hanson to stop being so sarcastic. If he kept it up, he was going to make the man angry again.
Stern turned around and looked at Doug, "you got yours?"
Doug shrugged, "I'm not sure. If I do, it's in my front pants pocket," he knew he didn't have his license. He purposefully left it behind just in case something like this happened. His wallet in his front pocket had only cash in it. But he was perfectly willing to waste a bit of the principal's time by letting him look for it, find it, dig through it, and find nothing of value.
Mr. Stern shuffled over to Doug, squatted down in front of him, and pulled his wallet out of his pocket. He opened it up and sifted through it. Just as Doug already knew, it only contained cash, "why the hell don't you guys carry your ID's on you?" Stern asked as he threw the wallet rather roughly back at Doug.
Doug flinched back, "I just don't keep track of it; that's all. It's got to be in my car or locker or something," he told him, "besides, seeing our ID's isn't going to prove anything. We do have different last names, but it's because we have different fathers."
Stern pocketed the twenty five dollars he found in Doug's wallet and then made his way back over to Tom, "you got any money at least?" he asked, reaching down and feeling Tom's pockets again.
"I don't," Tom lied. Doug watched his partner across the room. He looked nervous, and rightfully so. If Mr. Stern checked his back pockets, both Tom as well as Doug would likely be goners.
The principal's hands were moving back toward Tom's back pockets. Doug could see it in his partner's eyes that he knew they were doomed.
"You won't need money when you're in prison," Doug called out, trying anything to distract the man. When that didn't work, Penhall continued, "You gay or something?" he was desperately trying to ruffle the man's feathers, and saying anything he could think of to draw his attention away from Tom, "that why you kill gay kids? Kind of homophobic because you're scared of yourself?"
Doug's heart sank as he saw Stern turn around to face him. He was holding Tom's wallet, but he hadn't opened it yet, "I'm not a fag," the man walked up to Doug and slapped him very hard. Doug winced. Not knowing what else to do, he kicked out, trying to trip the man or something so that he'd forget about the wallet. His kick was unsuccessful in tripping the principal, but it did succeed in knocking him back a little.
"You little son of a bitch," Stern was visibly angry, but still held onto the wallet. He was right back in front of Doug in an instant, hitting him over and over. Doug didn't know if he had abandoned the wallet or not. He was too busy concentrating on himself now.
"Stop!" he heard Hanson cry out from across the room, "you're hurting him! Stop!" he pleaded.
"Oh, am I?" Mr. Stern finally stopped and turned back toward Tom. He picked up the wallet from the floor where he had dropped it and flipped it open. For a moment, all three of the men were completely silent.
Both Doug and Tom knew what the principal was seeing inside Tom's wallet, and they knew they were too late to do anything about it.
"You guys are fucking cops," Stern growled.