Disclaimer: I own nothing associated with the WWE. Just any OCs!

Summary: AU. "Never take anything for granted. For everything can be taken away in a heartbeat." When a brutal attack causes Phil Brooks to lose his memory, he struggles to not only piece his life back together and regain what was lost, but also to discover who still wants him dead.

Characters: CM Punk, William Regal, Colt Cabana, Dolph Ziggler, Cody Rhodes, Zack Ryder, Layla, and Kelly Kelly

Pairings: Cody Rhodes/Layla, Dolph Ziggler/OC, Daniel Bryan/AJ Lee, past CM Punk/Eve Torres

Rating: T

Genre: Suspense/Drama

Song: "In the Middle of It Now," Disciple

Author's Note (important!): So, it's been a long time, but I'm back with another story, haha! I was watching the show "Southland" when this idea hit me, so I just ran with it. This is my first alternate universe story, so none of the people in it are wrestlers. The people mentioned above are only the main characters, but plenty more make appearances as well. Mostly real names are used, but there are some ring names as well. Also, this is a higher rated T story, mainly for violence. However, it's nothing too graphic, and there will be a warning in the chapters where that is more prevalent. This will also be fun in the sense that there will be plenty of clues throughout the story so you can try to piece together what happened and figure out who is responsible and why before the characters themselves do. Some will be a bit bigger than others, but they are all there for you to find. If some are missed, never fear since all will be revealed at the end. This story is nearly completed on my end, so it will be updated weekly. Feel free to read and review, just no flames please! Enjoy and happy hunting! :)

Chapter 1

Darkness greeted him when he opened his eyes. The night air was mild, but there wasn't a single star in the dark sky above him. The ground was hard beneath him no matter which way he turned, and something sharp was digging into his lower back.

With a quiet groan, the dark-haired man slowly began to sit up, pausing with a hiss when pain shot through his ribs. He collapsed back to the ground, hand tight over his side as he waited for the intense throbbing to subside. From where he was stretched out on the cold sidewalk, gasping quietly for breath, he quickly assessed himself for any other injuries on his protesting body. He felt as though his right knee had been tweaked, a couple fingers on his left hand wouldn't move, he could still distinguish the lingering metallic taste of blood in his mouth, nearly his entire torso was burning, there was a deep, pulsating pain in his right side, and his head was pounding mercilessly.

But no matter how much he strained his memory, he could not recall what had happened to cause him so much pain or how he had ended up lying on an abandoned sidewalk in the middle of the night. In fact, he couldn't remember where he was at all.

Opening his eyes once more, the dark-haired man tried to sit up again, being a bit more cautious this time. He managed to make it up into a sitting position as he tossed away the green piece of a broken beer bottle he had been lying on before leaning back against the hard brick wall behind him, sighing heavily as he quickly looked himself over. The couple fingers he couldn't move on his left hand were sticking out at strange angles and were clearly broken, and his white t-shirt and jeans were both torn in a couple places and stained with blood that must have been his own. He then glanced at the quiet street around him, his eyes scanning over a couple parked cars a few feet away from him and up to the tall buildings that towered over him. He felt a slight surge of anxiety when he didn't recognize anything.

He had no clue where he was.

The man rested his head back against the building behind him and closed his eyes for a moment, trying to will himself to remain calm. Maybe it was just a place that he wasn't familiar with. But that possibility quickly drained away to dread when he realized he couldn't remember where he had been before whatever had caused him to wind up at that spot had happened.

A few moments passed before the man slowly opened his eyes when he felt something light pressing against his leg, and he slowly reached into his pocket with the hand that wasn't broken and pulled out what appeared to be a wallet. The man quickly glanced up when he heard quiet laughter, watching as a couple young blonde women staggered slightly and nearly fell as they stepped out of a brightly-lit bar at the other end of the sidewalk, standing close together under the light of a streetlamp as one pulled a lighter and a pack of Marlboros out of her oversized pink purse. For a moment, he considered calling out to them for help, but something told him that his dry throat wouldn't allow his voice to carry quite that far, and he figured that they wouldn't be much help anyway as one laughed and called her friend a "stupid bitch" when she nearly lost her balance again.

Instead, he turned his attention to the plain black wallet in his hands and slowly opened it. On the left pocket was a shiny golden badge with "Chicago Police" engraved into it in black lettering. A police officer? He wondered if he had accidentally picked up someone else's wallet. This surely couldn't have been his. In the right pocket was a photo ID, and he looked closely at the man with short, slicked-back dark hair and slight scruff lining his serious face staring back at him with intense hazel eyes. The man glanced into the dark window of the closed shop he was leaning against, seeing that despite how his short black hair was hanging loosely around his face, the features from the ID were also spotted in the window's reflection, appearing confused and sporting a couple dark bruises.

So it was his wallet...

The man shook his throbbing head slightly before turning his attention back to the ID card, bringing it closer to try to read it in the minimal lighting. The man it belonged to was thirty-three years old, stood a little over six feet tall, weighed two hundred and eighteen pounds, resided in Chicago, Illinois, and had the name Phillip Brooks.


The dark-haired man slowly raised his gaze, his eyes narrowing as he once again looked up and down the dark street around him, the sound of passing cars heard faintly on another street a distance away. But no matter how hard he tried, no matter how much he racked his brain, he could not remember that name.

One week earlier...

Phillip Brooks opened his eyes with a start when he heard a loud knock at his door. He quickly rubbed them with tattooed fingers, sighing as he blindly reached out for the Pepsi bottle he always kept close to him on his desk. "Come in," he said, opening his eyes before narrowing them slightly with frustration as he finally grabbed the allusive bottle that had just been out of his reach.

The door of the office he shared with another officer opened, and Phillip smirked slightly when he saw the grinning man who entered. "I just wanted to tell ya that I've finally made it, man!" his dark-haired best friend, Scott Colton, exclaimed. "I'm no longer a rookie, Phil! I'm a full-fledged officer!"

"That's great, man," Phil replied, taking a sip of his Pepsi as he leaned back in his chair. "I'm glad to hear that." Besides having known him since they were both children, the slightly younger man had been assigned as his rookie when he had graduated from the Chicago Police Academy, and Phil was glad to see the couple years he had devoted to teach him all he knew had paid off.

Scott's broad smile lingered, and he quickly embraced his former mentor when he stood up. "This is what I've always wanted to do, man, you know that," he continued, shaking his head slightly as a quiet laugh escaped from him. "Especially after you made it. I can't really wrap my mind around it." He paused for a moment as he sighed. "I'm gonna miss you bossing me around, though. Driving down the street blaring heavy rock music, picking up coffee and doughnuts..."

Phil chuckled himself as he set his Pepsi back down on the desk and began to collect all the papers that were spread out over it. He had given up on drinking coffee a couple years before when Scott had been assigned to him, and he only had a doughnut on a rare occasion.

"So when do you start out on your own?" Phil asked, straightening out the pile of paperwork in his hands. "Have you gotten a partner yet?"

Scott shook his head. "No, not yet," he answered. "Though Chief said that I should get one soon. Once he finds a good one for me, that is. Too bad it's not gonna be you, though. You know how awesome that would be, man?"

Phil nodded in silent agreement. He would have loved to have Scott as his partner now that he wasn't a rookie, but like the other man, he knew that wasn't going to happen. Because of his experience in the field and the respect he had among his fellow officers, Phil was one who was often assigned incoming rookies to prepare them for the difficult job that lay ahead of them. And with a wave of new men and women coming in fresh from the Academy in two short days, he had already been alerted that he would be taking a new one under his wing.

"I'm just hoping that my new rookie, whoever he or she may be, isn't nearly as annoying as you were," he muttered, another smirk appearing on his face.

"Hey." Scott playfully shoved Phil's arm. "I wasn't that annoying." He rolled his eyes when his best friend raised a challenging eyebrow at him, chuckling quietly. But then, his gaze darkened slightly with concern when he noticed the exhaustion in Phil's hazel eyes as he finished gathering up all the paperwork. "You all right, man?"

Phil glanced up. "Yeah, of course," he said. "Why wouldn't I be?"

Scott shrugged slightly. "Maybe because you haven't been sleeping again?" he suggested.

"I don't sleep, you know that," Phil muttered, setting the neat pile of papers back on his desk. "Besides, I need to focus on this case." He gestured to the pile. "There's a little girl somewhere out there who's been taken away from her family, Scott. I don't want to even consider what would happen if we don't find her."

That was the thing about his best friend, Scott knew. For the years he had known him, Phil had been an insomniac, never spending his nights sleeping and only catching a quick nap every couple of days to keep him going. He was a determined and very driven person, one who would not stop whatever he was doing until he was finished, especially if he was on a case.

"Yeah, but you don't want to overwork yourself, Phil," Scott replied, knowing the other man had come close to doing so a couple times before. "This case is important, I get that. That's why Chief's got us all on it. It's not like you're doing it by yourself."

Phil looked back at the other man for a moment before sighing and picking up his nearly empty Pepsi bottle, though he didn't take a sip. Scott watched him for a moment before his gaze landed on a framed picture his best friend always kept on his desk.

"It's not your fault, you know."

For a brief second, Phil didn't know what Scott meant. But then, his gaze faltered when it landed on the picture the other man was looking at. It had been taken almost six years before when he had first become a part of the Chicago police force along with his former mentor, Chris Irvine. The smiling blond-haired man was one who he had respected completely, and it was a friendship he had treasured but felt as though had been cut much too short.

"I was reckless," Phil murmured, mainly to himself. "If I hadn't been..."

Scott's eyes saddened as he looked at the other man. "You did what you thought you had to," he countered. "You did what was right. You didn't know it was going to turn into an armed robbery."

"Well I should have," Phil snapped, a bit angrier than he meant to. "I should have thought of that possibility. If I wouldn't have gone in before he told me to, Chris wouldn't have..."

The slightly younger man reached out and grabbed Phil's arm securely. His former mentor had never spoken much about Chris while he was learning under him, but what he did know was he had never stopped blaming himself for the man's death. "It would have been you who was killed if Chris hadn't run in to help you," he said quietly but sternly. "And I never worked with him myself, but he had my respect, man. I met him on a couple occasions, one being when he got my little sister's kite out of a tree when he was off duty. I know you feel guilty about what happened, but he was doing his job. It's a dangerous occupation, man, especially on big city streets. But it's a risk we all know we have to take, and it's one that we willingly take. Chris was no exception. Unfortunately, the worst that could happen on this job happened to him."

Phil lowered his gaze slightly, clearly remembering the gun the hooded men had pulled on him that night after he had shown his badge when he had entered the house where a robbery had been reported. Their dispatcher had said the woman inside had not mentioned anything about a weapon, but he still should have realized that it was always a possibility. He had started to pull his own gun out, but he had known that it wouldn't have done any good. Chris had run inside and was beside him with his own weapon drawn just as the robber's gun went off, but Phil hadn't realized it until it had been too late. He had been frozen, his former mentor lying at his feet, while the two men had fled the scene.

How could he have been so rash? Phil knew his rookie ignorance had cost Chris his life, no matter what anyone else said. He had accompanied the Chief to the late officer's house after he had learned his mentor had passed away in the hospital to present his badge and uniform to his family, and no one other than them had seen the pure pain and grief in Chris' wife as she sobbed, held tightly in the Chief's arms as he offered futile comfort. No one else had seen the terrified look on the faces of his young children, who somehow seemed to understand that the man they called "Daddy" wouldn't be coming home. It was an image that haunted him, and Phil knew that his reckless action had not only cost him his mentor, a devoted officer who had been well on his way to becoming the next Chief of Police when the current one stepped down, but a wife had also lost a husband and three children had lost their father. The only slight consolation he had was being able to tell Chris' wife that he had arrested the men who had killed him when they had attempted to rob a convenience store about a week later, a feat he had accomplished since he hadn't taken the time off that the Chief had offered him after the incident, for which he received a heart-felt embrace from her and a blessing he still didn't feel he deserved.

"I just want to find this girl," Phil finally muttered, giving the other man a small smile before he unscrewed the cap of his Pepsi and quickly finished the contents.

Scott sighed as he released his arm as the other man tossed the now empty bottle into the recycling bin near the door, wishing his best friend would open up about the ordeal just once. It couldn't have been healthy to keep it all to himself.

Before he could say anything more, however, the door to the room opened without a warning knock, and their team's brown-haired dispatcher stood in the doorway with wide eyes.

"The man and the girl have been spotted," Layla El said anxiously in her heavy English accent. "By Millennium Park. He's armed."

Phil exchanged a quick glance with Scott before hurrying past her out of the room with his best friend right behind. "How long?" he called over his shoulder, ensuring that both his badge and his gun were secure in their proper places on his belt as Scott did the same.

"The call came in just now," Layla explained as she sped her pace to keep up with the two officers as they made their way toward the station lobby. "The witness recognized the girl, and the man pulled out a gun. Runnels and Nemeth are already on their way since they were out patrolling, but they'll need back-up to ensure that girl gets out of there safely."

Nicholas Nemeth was a good friend of Phil's from their days at the Academy, and after they graduated together, they were assigned as partners when they were each finished with their rookie training. Though when the latter was allocated Scott as a rookie, Nick was given a new partner in Cody Runnels, a man who had graduated a year after they had. He had since moved out of the office he and Phil used to share to be replaced by another newer officer he didn't know very well who seemed to be almost intimidated by him.

"All right. Thanks, Layla." Phil and Scott both ran across the lobby to get out to the former's squad car, and Layla sighed as she sat down in her chair behind the front desk.

"Be careful out there, guys."

The two men were silent as Phil sped down the street, the only sounds heard being the sirens blaring and Nick and Cody's voices coming in from the radio, keeping them updated on the situation. Scott felt a slight smirk appear on his face at the thought of the joke he always made in situations like this that one of the perks of being a police officer was they could speed without getting in trouble. But seeing the focused and determined look on his best friend's face, he decided to keep it to himself.

Phil pulled up on the street in front of Millennium Park, parking beside a second squad car. He and Scott both took their guns from their belts and made sure they were loaded before climbing out, pushing through the swarm of screaming people who were running in the opposite direction to get away from what they then heard were gunshots. Phil sped up his pace, yelling for people to get out of his way, before he and his best friend finally made it to a fountain where they found two other uniformed officers they recognized to be Nick and Cody. They were both standing across from Brandon Miller, a dark-haired man in a hooded sweatshirt who had a handgun of his own that he shot off from time to time in any given direction. Tightly wrapped in his other arm was the small blonde-haired girl who had gone missing a couple days before.

Scott approached Nick and Cody with Phil, both taking a similar stance as they aimed their weapons at the man they had been tracking for some time. "Let the girl go!" the latter shouted, making sure he had a clear shot if one needed to be taken so she wouldn't be hit.

In response, the man aimed a shot in the four officers' direction, and they quickly ducked behind a couple trees on either side of them to take cover. Phil glanced at the blond-haired Nick, who had hid with him, and then at Scott and the dark-haired Cody across from them. This wasn't the first time this man had taken a child, but last time, he had somehow managed to slip through their fingers. He was determined to do what he had to do to get the girl to safety and bring him into custody this time.

Taking a deep breath, Phil moved out of the cover of the tree, raising his gun again as he aimed it at the other man. "I'm not gonna ask you again, Brandon!" he snapped, ignoring Nick's startled eyes on him. "Put the gun down and let the girl go, and no one will get hurt."

However, Brandon was beyond reason at this point. "The only one who's gonna get hurt is you!"

Phil watched as the other man raised his arm, saw the gun aimed at him, and he felt his stomach tighten painfully. In the light of the moon coming into the dark house, his heart nearly stopped when the hooded man pulled out a concealed gun and aimed it in his direction. Phil noticed Scott running toward him with his own gun raised out of the corner of his eye, just when Brandon fired his weapon. The gunshot seemed to echo around the house as Chris, his gun drawn, fell to the floor...

No, not this time...

The bullet skimmed his right arm, but Phil hardly noticed as he made sure his gun was level with the other man, his instinct causing him to do the only thing he could.

He fired.

He hadn't meant to, hadn't wanted to, but he fired. Once, twice. Self-defense, he would later call it. The man had fired first, after all, and he had shot to kill. He saw Scott stop running before watching as Brandon dropped his weapon and collapsed to the ground.

The scream from the little girl brought Phil out of his thoughts, and he secured his gun on his belt before he ran toward where Brandon had fallen, Scott, Nick, and Cody right behind him. He immediately knelt down with his best friend, glancing at the man they had been after to make sure he didn't make any sudden movements before he carefully pushed his limp arm aside to reveal seven-year-old Katrina Moore, who was trembling as tears ran down her dirt-smudged face.

"Are you all right, sweetheart?" Phil asked quietly, looking at the blonde girl with concern as Scott pushed Brandon's gun away.

Katrina slowly looked up at him, her breath catching a couple times as she continued to cry. "I wanna go home..." she mumbled, glancing at the unmoving Brandon with fear. "I want Mommy..."

Phil's gaze saddened slightly, not surprised by how scared she was, before giving her a small smile. "I'm Officer Phil Brooks," he told her, pulling his badge off his belt to show her. "I'll bring you home, Katrina."

The young girl looked up at him curiously before reaching out with her small hands and taking the badge from him. She looked it over for a moment before raising her gaze to his. "Is this real?" Katrina asked.

Despite himself, Phil chuckled quietly. "Yes, that's real," he answered, his smile lingering.

"Oh." Katrina handed the badge back, watching as he put it back on his belt before she moved forward and wrapped her arms tightly around his neck. Phil was slightly caught off guard by the action, and he sighed quietly as he wound an arm securely around her.

Cody smiled slightly as he watched them before he approached Brandon, crouching down and placing two fingers on the side of his neck. "Dead," he confirmed, glancing at Phil.

"I wouldn't worry about it," Nick quickly added as Phil looked back at them. "We all saw what happened. You fired in self-defense."

Phil nodded once at the two officers. "I'm not worried," he replied. "As you said, self-defense." Whenever he was on a case, he always preferred to take a suspect into custody, never killing unless he had no other option. He wondered for a moment if this could have been resolved in any other way, but thinking about how Brandon had been behaving, he highly doubted it.

"If you wanna get the girl home, Nick and I will stick around for the questioning," Cody suddenly suggested, looking at Katrina with concern of his own. "Chief can talk to you later if he has any further questions."

The slightly older officer gave them both a smile. "Thanks, guys," Phil muttered before turning to the girl who had yet refused to let him go. "Come on, sweetheart. Let's get you home."

Katrina nodded in silent response, tightening her arms around his neck slightly as Phil picked her up as he stood, holding her close as he began to head toward his squad car with Scott. Having caught wind of the dangerous situation, a couple different local news teams were already there to cover the story, and Phil did his best to shield the seven-year-old girl from the frequent camera flashes while his best friend stood close to her as well as they made their way through the crowd as quickly as they could. They ignored the reporters trying to get their comments, and Phil was relieved when he got Katrina in the car away from the media eye. He was silent as he climbed in behind the wheel, waiting for her and Scott to both get settled in before he drove away from the park.

Getting the young girl home was his first priority, and to be able to return her to her parents would definitely give him a crucial reminder about why this job was worth it.

Author's Note: And that's it for chapter one! More of an intro than anything, and no real clues to speak of yet. But never fear, they will be there, lol. Thanks for reading! Your reviews are much appreciated. Thank you!