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.
Author's Note: Hey, sorry about the delay in updating. Things have been hectic. But anyway, keep a sharp eye out for clues as we continue along. Enjoy and happy hunting :)
Darren winced when he hit the hard pavement, Nick next to him, as the panicked voices of the reporter and the cameraman echoed around him. He quickly opened his eyes in time to see what appeared to be a Chevy Malibu speed away from the hospital parking lot, noticing that the woman who had tried to interview him was ducking for cover behind a bush nearby along with the man with her from the news station.
But then, he remembered why he was lying on the ground to begin with, and he quickly turned to look at the officer who had landed behind him. "Wha' the devil did you think you were doing?!" he demanded angrily.
At the sudden loud voice, Nick slowly opened his eyes, wincing slightly as he looked up at Darren. "Sorry about that... Chief..." he muttered. "I couldn't just let..."
However, Darren's stomach plummeted when he noticed how pale the younger man's face was as his eyes started to close again, and his own eyes widened with horror when he saw the blood blossoming on Nick's t-shirt near his right shoulder. He felt a surge of panic when he remembered the gunshot, realizing the firearm must have been aimed at him and not the younger man, and he reached forward and set his hand securely on his arm.
"Nicholas, come on," he said anxiously, shaking him gently. "Open your eyes, lad." However, he got no response from the other officer.
Cursing heatedly under his breath, Darren lifted Nick into his arms as gently as he could before he rose to his feet, not even noticing as the reporter and cameraman were starting to make their way out from their makeshift hiding place as he hurried the younger man back into the hospital.
Layla sighed as she slipped her purse over her shoulder, knowing that Barbara would arrive at the station soon to take her place. She worried her bottom lip between her teeth, picking up her light sweatshirt and draping it over her arm as she leaned against the corner of the desk and sighed quietly. Adam had told Matt to leave for Dead Man's Tavern a little under an hour before to see if anything could be found in the security footage that give them any clue about Phil's attack, and Cody still had not returned from the used car dealership. She pulled her cell phone out of her purse since it was nearly the end of her shift, scrolling through her contacts until she reached her fiancé's number and tried calling again.
"This is Cody. I'm unable to..."
Starting to get really worried now, Layla slid her cell phone into her pocket and closed her eyes, brushing a hand through her dark hair. It was unlike Cody to not answer his phone, unless he was unable to.
The dispatcher heard the doors of the station slide open, slightly relieved knowing that she could at least now go home since her replacement was there. "So, Barbie, Darren called about twenty minutes ago to say he should be here within the hour," she started automatically. "If you have any questions–!"
However, her sentence was abruptly cut off when a pair of hands suddenly landed on her shoulders, and Layla quickly opened her eyes to find a familiar pair of blue-green orbs looking back at her. "Cody?!"
A weary-looking Cody nodded in return as he took a deep breath. "Yeah, I'm here," he muttered. "Took me a little longer than expected since I caught the bus, but..."
Layla looked over the officer quickly, setting a hand on his cheek when she noticed the dried trail of blood that started at his hairline. "Oh, God, Cody. What happened?" she pressed anxiously. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine," Cody told her with a small smile. "Don't worry, Lay." He paused and took a deep breath when his fiancée hugged him tightly, and he pulled her close and rested his head against hers. "It's a long story, but I need to talk to Darren."
A moment passed before Layla met Cody's gaze, keeping her arms around him. "Well, as I said, he should be here within the hour," she replied. "He was going to leave the hospital since Phil was sleeping. But Adam..."
She stopped when Cody shook his head. "I'd rather talk to Darren. He would know the answer that I need."
Layla looked at him curiously, but before she could say anything further, the doors of the station slid open again as Matt stepped into the lobby, looking anxious, with Barbara walking a few steps behind him. "Hey, is the Chief here yet?" the rookie asked.
"Not yet," Layla answered as she released Cody. "But he should be here soon. He said he was leaving the hospital. But Adam's here if you need to talk to him."
Matt nodded slightly as he stopped near the couple to catch his breath, nodding a couple times. "Yeah, I might just do that..."
Layla chuckled quietly before she turned her gaze to the young modeling student, watching as she set her backpack on the floor before sitting in the chair behind the desk with a sigh. "Are you okay?" she wondered, noticing she looked exhausted.
Barbara looked up at Layla and gave her a small smile. "Yeah, I'm okay," she told her quietly, straightening up in her seat slightly as she logged into her account on the computer. "Just kinda tired. My car broke down as I was on my way home from the store this morning, so things have been pretty hectic."
Matt's eyes narrowed slightly. "Do you want a ride home in the morning, Barbie?" he offered. "I think your shift ends pretty close to when mine starts."
"Thanks, Matt, but you don't have to," Barbara told him with another smile. "I'll just take the train. It'll get me pretty close to my apartment."
The rookie nodded slightly. "If you're sure," he muttered. "I wouldn't mind."
Barbara laughed a little. "I know," she said. "But I'll be all right."
"Okay then." Matt then turned to where Layla was still quietly fussing over Cody, raising an eyebrow when he saw the dried blood as well as the faint bruise that was forming near his right eye. "You all right, man? What happened at the car dealership?"
Cody smiled slightly. "Things went a little... awry," he replied. "Sorry it took me so long to get back. Did you end up getting to Dead Man's Tavern without me?"
"Yeah, Adam sent me." Then, the rookie's eyes suddenly widened. "Dude, so we watched the security footage, and there were two guys who attacked Phil!"
"Two?" Layla repeated, her eyes narrowing slightly.
Matt nodded in confirmation. "Yeah, and even Mark was saying that it looked premeditated," he continued, his gaze returning to the officer. "One of them drove away in that Chevy Malibu we've been looking for afterward while the other took Officer Brooks' car. He was also saying that Stu Bennett was acting somewhat suspicious the night that he was attacked. He hasn't shown up at the bar today either."
Cody looked thoughtful for a moment before he nodded. "So, are you thinking that Bennett is one of the people who attacked Phil?" he wondered.
"It's certainly looking like it's possible," Matt confirmed. "It wouldn't surprise me. There's something I really don't like about that guy. We should check it out more. We'll just have to find this other one."
The dark-haired officer nodded, though a small smile returned to his face. "I'm almost certain I know who this other guy is and where to find him," he muttered. "I've found our Michael B."
Matt's eyes widened. The few hours he had spent that afternoon trying to find all the men in Chicago with that name who had something as simple as an unpaid parking ticket or an overdue library book had been for naught. "You found Michael B.?!"
"Almost positive," Cody told him. "I could see where he got the Michael Bolton alias from. And plus he was driving that car that Bennett bought when I... uh, saw him. I'm sure it's the guy who sold it to him."
The rookie continued to look at Cody in disbelief while Layla turned to her fiancé with an arched eyebrow. "Where exactly did you see this... Michael B.?" she asked quietly. Even Barbara looked up from the computer screen with interest.
Cody sighed, but before he could figure out a suitable answer to appease her, the doors of the station slid open again. The group of four all turned to see who had entered the lobby.
Startled by the unexpected loud greeting, Darren stopped and looked back at his workers with raised eyebrows. "Hello to all of you," he replied, though his usual light tone wasn't there.
"Are you all right, Darren?" Layla wondered, noticing that his mind seemed to be elsewhere.
"Fine, luv," the Englishman said, brushing her concern aside. "I apologize tha' i' took me longer to leave the hospital than I had planned. Phil's doing all right, just sore, which isn' surprising. But Nicholas just go' ou' of surgery, and–!"
"Surgery?" Cody repeated, his eyes widening with worry. "What happened? Is he okay?"
"Yes, he will be fine," Darren assured him, turning to the younger man. "He–!" But then, he paused as his eyes narrowed slightly when they landed on the dried blood on Cody's cheek and the bruise by his right eye. "Wha' happened, lad?"
Cody briefly touched the bruise before he smiled. "Don't worry, I'm okay," he muttered. "But what happened to Nick?"
The Chief sighed. "Well, I was leaving the hospital to check on everything here, and Nicholas was leaving to go ge' you, but we were stopped by a news reporter to ge' information on Phil," he explained. "And I didn' notice i', though I should have, bu' a car had pulled up close to where we were. And..." He hesitated for a moment. "And apparently the driver had a gun and was trying to shoo' me, but Nicholas noticed and tackled me ou' of the way. Fortunately, the bulle' didn' hi' any critical areas, and he's expected to make a quick and full recovery."
The dark-haired officer sighed with relief as he tightened his hand around Layla's. "Well, at least he's on paternity leave as well," Cody muttered. "We don't have to deal with his complaining." The lighthearted comment even brought a slight smirk to Darren's face.
Matt looked at the Englishman thoughtfully. "Chief, was the car a Chevy Malibu?" he asked.
Darren turned his attention to the rookie. "I only briefly saw the car, but I believe so, yes," he answered. "Why do you ask, lad?"
"Cody, it makes sense!" Matt turned to the other officer excitedly. "We must be getting close to finding this Michael B. as well as figuring out his plan with Bennett. He feels threatened! Why else would he do something like try to take out our boss?"
"Yeah, it could be," Cody agreed quietly. "I just don't want to jump to any conclusions."
Darren looked from Matt to Cody with a raised eyebrow. "You've found your Michael Bolton?" he wondered, knowing the alias had been frustrating his officers for quite some time.
Cody nodded. "I'm almost positive," he confirmed. "And–!"
"We think he's one of the guys who attacked Phil," Matt quickly added.
The Englishman's eyes narrowed slightly as he looked back at the two officers. "One of them? There was more than one?"
"There were two," Matt explained. "From what I saw of the security footage from the bar, the assault seemed planned. It was almost like they were waiting for Officer Brooks. And along with this Michael B. that Cody said he found, our other person of interest is a man named Stu Bennett, someone who works at Dead Man's Tavern who's on parole."
At the sound of the former officer's name, Darren's gaze darkened. Cody noticed his expression change and nodded slightly. "I know he used to be Irvine's rookie," he muttered. Layla and Matt both looked at him, startled.
Darren nodded slightly. "Tha' he was," he said. "Are you certain tha' he would be a person of interest?"
"It's very possible," Matt replied. "His boss was saying that he's been acting a bit strange these past few days, ever since Officer Brooks was attacked."
"Well, keep looking into i', Matthew," Darren told him. "When we have some more evidence leading to Benne', we'll work ou' an arrest warran'." He then turned his attention to Cody. "Who is this Michael Bolton you think you've found, lad?"
The dark-haired officer met the Chief's gaze. "We need to talk, Darren."
Darren, catching the severity of his tone, nodded slightly. "All right, to my office."
Cody nodded in return, squeezing Layla's hand and leaving a light kiss on her cheek before he followed the Englishman through the door that led to the back offices. They walked down the narrow hallway together, and the older man turned to the younger with concern.
"Wha' happened, Cody?" Darren asked.
Sighing, Cody met his gaze. "I learned some interesting information at the used car dealership," he answered quietly.
Darren arched an eyebrow. "And wha' would tha' be?"
"Well, from the secretary there, I learned that the owner, Alberto Rodríguez, used to be involved with drug trafficking," Cody explained. "He would never use them, so my guess is the dealership was used as the holding place until the intended recipient could retrieve them."
"All right, wha' else?" Darren pressed.
"I know Bennett was dismissed and arrested on drug use and trafficking charges," Cody continued. "He told me that when I talked to him at Dead Man's Tavern about the Malibu since he owns it now. It was sold to him by Michael B., but he never got the registration changed, hence why it's still registered to Michael Bolton.
"But the secretary at the dealership told me that Bennett would only go there to get the drugs on occasion. He barely remembers him. There was another officer who would primarily deal with Rodríguez. Bennett told me he was involved with the drugs because he got mixed up with the wrong crowd and was naive enough to do as he was told. By any chance, would you remember who Bennett spent a lot of time with on the force?"
Darren sighed. "Well, I wasn' Chief when Benne' was on the force," he said. "If I had been, I could probably tell you with more certainty. He spen' most of his time with Irvine when he was on duty since he was his mentor. Bu' I'm sorry, I couldn' tell you who he spen' his time with when he was off duty. Benne' and I never really saw eye to eye. He was always known for being rash."
Cody smiled slightly. "That's okay, Chief," he replied. "It really has nothing to do with our investigation anyway. I was just curious."
"Still, I wish I could answer your questions, lad." Darren smiled slightly himself, his gaze faltering slightly when it landed on the dried blood on the younger man's cheek and the bruise near his eye. "So, where did you get tha'?"
The slight smile disappeared from Cody's face. "The secretary was about to tell me what the officer who would come in to deal with the drugs looked like," he muttered. "And someone came in, I didn't see who, and something hard connected with the side of my head. The next thing I knew, I was lying in the backseat of a car stuck in my own handcuffs."
Darren immediately came to a stop where they weren't far from his office, looking at Cody with worry. "Are you sure you're all right?" he wondered. He had dealt with his fair share of head injuries over the past few days.
Cody nodded. "I'm fine, Chief," he tried to assure him. "Just a bit of a headache, that's all. And I was able to escape, so..."
Sighing with relief, Darren set his hand on the younger man's shoulder as he started to lead him toward his office. "All right, lad. Let's–!"
Darren stopped again at the quiet tone of the officer's voice as he looked back at him. "Wha' is i', Cody?" he asked.
Cody took a deep breath. "The car I was in was a Chevy Malibu, and I'm certain it was the same one we've been looking for," he answered. "I saw the last couple digits of the license plate when I escaped. And there was a piece of mail in plain sight in the backseat. That's how I learned Michael B.'s real name. Not only was he the owner of that car, but as Matt and I have discussed, we're almost sure he's one of the people who attacked Phil since that same car was used as a getaway vehicle after the assault. But... that's what I need to talk to you about."
The Englishman looked back at the dark-haired man for a long moment, noticing how hesitant he was. But before he could say anything, both Darren and Cody looked up when the door to the former's office opened as Adam stepped out into the hallway with his cell phone at his ear.
"Yes, I saw that," the former Chief was saying to whoever was on the other end. "And–!" However, he paused when he saw the two men watching him curiously. "Darren! Oh, my God, are you okay?"
Darren's eyes narrowed slightly in confusion. "Yes, I'm fine," he said. "Why wouldn' I be?"
Adam held up a finger to signal he needed a minute before he turned back to the phone conversation he had been having. "I'll call you back, man," he muttered before he flipped his phone closed and slid it into his pocket. "It was on the news, Darren. I was really worried..." He ran a hand through his blond hair as he opened the door a little further and pointed to the small television the Englishman kept in the corner of his office.
Curious, Darren and Cody both leaned forward to look at the screen, seeing it was footage from the hospital when Nick had tackled the Chief to safety as the sound of a gunshot broke through the speakers. "Um, yes. I'm fine, Adam," the Englishman stated, giving the other man a small smile. "I was unharmed. Officer Nemeth will be fine as well. He's expected to recover quickly."
"That's good to hear." Adam briefly returned the smile before it faltered slightly. "It seems like a rash thing to do though, doesn't it? To open fire on the Chief of Police like he did?"
Darren nodded slightly, a thoughtful look passing over his face. "I' was definitely a drastic action," he agreed quietly.
"Yeah." Then, Adam smiled again as he patted Darren on the shoulder. "Well, I'm glad to see you're all right and that your officer will be too. I was just gonna get a quick snack from the vending machine downstairs. Um, we can talk about how things have been going around here when I get back?"
"Sounds good, Adam," Darren replied with a small smile of his own.
Cody watched as the former Chief of Police gave him a slight nod before he started to walk down the hallway, turning to Darren when the Englishman gestured for him to enter the office first. The dark-haired man slowly walked in and sat down in the chair in front of the desk as the Chief closed the door behind them before walking across the room to the television.
"We don' need to have this on," Darren muttered, turning it off before he sighed and sat down behind his desk across from Cody. He then reached under it to where he kept a mini refrigerator and pulled out a small water bottle and a napkin out of a drawer before handing them both to the officer. "Here, lad."
Realizing what he was doing, Cody took the proffered items and unscrewed the lid of the bottle. "Thank you," he said, carefully pouring some water onto the napkin before starting to rub at the dried blood on his right cheek.
Darren nodded in return as he watched the younger man for a moment. "So, this Michael B. is the one who kidnapped you, and you believe he was also involved in the attack on Phil?" When Cody nodded in confirmation, the Englishman sighed as he passed a hand over his face. "Well, if anything, we can arres' him on charges of kidnapping an officer, and that's a start. But you wanted to talk to me abou' his real identity?"
"Yeah, because it's not Michael Bolton," Cody replied lightly, making the Chief chuckle quietly. But then, the cheerful look vanished slightly as he folded the napkin and poured some more water on it. "Darren... does Phil have a brother?"
An unreadable look crossed the Englishman's face, and Cody hurriedly continued, "I mean, I've been friends with Phil since we were both in the Academy, but his family is something he's never really talked about. He hasn't mentioned any siblings other than Cheline and Natalie, but I'm just wondering..."
Darren sighed as he folded his hands tightly on the desk in front of him. "Phil is close to his sisters," he explained quietly. "But yes, he does have an older brother. He probably never talked abou' him because he turned his back on the family years ago after stealing money from their father as well as from Phil. They haven' even seen him in over ten years. Bu' his name is Michael." He paused for a moment, raising an eyebrow. "Why do you ask?"
Cody took a deep breath. "Remember that piece of mail I said was on the back floor of the Malibu?" he pressed. "It was an eviction notice addressed to a man named Michael Brooks."
The Chief thoughtfully worried his bottom lip between his teeth. "Michael B.?" Cody nodded. "Well, I could see where the alias of Michael Bolton wouldn' be too difficult for him to use. Bu' unless he had the knowledge of how to infiltrate a system, I'm no' sure how he could register a car under tha' name."
"Well, either Bennett, who bought the car from Michael, could have helped him, or Rodríguez let it slide," Cody suggested. "It wouldn't be too much of a stretch since it's not the first shady thing he's been involved with. But either way, Bennett wasn't the one driving the car when I was kidnapped, and he said that the only other person who uses it is the one he bought it from, Michael B."
Darren nodded, but then his gaze faltered. "Well, as I said before, we could ge' him on charges of kidnapping an officer," he said. "Tha' way, we can try to find ou' wha' part he played, if any, in Phil's assault. All right. I'll file an arrest warran' for Michael Brooks."
The dark-haired man slowly made his way down the bustling hospital hallway, his hazel eyes set intently on a door near the end of the hall on his right. Getting past the nurse at the front desk had been easy enough, for the charm he supposedly possessed had always been an asset to him. It had worked well on all the women he had met in his life, at least.
A slight smirk appeared on his face as he stopped in front of the door, glancing up and down the hallway for a moment to make sure that no one was paying him much attention before he slowly reached out and turned the handle. His initial plan of getting the Chief of Police out of the way had backfired, but since he had left to go back to check on everything at the station, his goal was still met. The man he was paying a visit to was now left vulnerable and unguarded.
He quietly pushed the door open, seeing that the television on the wall was on and showing an evening baseball game. Lying in the propped bed across the room from it was Phil Brooks, his eyes closed as he slept.
The dark-haired man stepped into the room, shutting the door just as quietly behind him so he wouldn't wake the officer. He turned his hazel gaze to the bed, hesitating for only a moment before he slowly started to make his way across the room. He stopped beside the bed, looking over the familiar bruised, scruff-lined face of its occupant, which was peaceful in sleep, as Phil remained oblivious to the world around him. The man found himself feeling slightly relieved. At least this way, his task would be easier on both of them.
A moment passed as he simply listened to the quiet, steady beeps coming from the heart monitor Phil was hooked up to before he reached into the pocket of his jeans and pulled out a small pocketknife. The blade glinted in the light when he flipped it open, and the man sighed quietly as he began to move it closer to the unknowing officer.
Author's Note: And... that's it. Sorry for the cliffhanger! I know, I'm evil. But any clues? Feel free to leave them in your reviews! Thanks for reading! Your reviews are much appreciated. Thanks!