A/N: All characters belong to Jim Henson.
One Is Always Enough
Don't you hate it when you have song stuck in your head that you just can't get rid of?
A haunting melodic tune that follows you wherever you go. Doesn't matter what you're doing or how important it is. That damn tune just keeps following you like a lost puppy. But sometimes it can come in handy.
Like taking my mind of the blinding hot pain in my left shoulder as I try and reload my gun.
Another bullet whizzed by the small crate I was taking cover behind but it didn't break my concentration. I learned that from the war. When you got one arm working and bullets that needed to be put into a revolver, you learn to ignore the little things. If you could call that little.
I managed to get the last one into the chamber. Unfortunately I only had three left to put in. Gonna have to make 'em count. Another thing I learned from good old basic training.
"You're dead, Hart!" One of them called out. Like I hadn't heard that one before. But to their credit, they had Ace Hart in a hell of a pinch.
There was a hole in my favorite drinking arm and a crimson river soaked into my fur and week old undershirt. I was gonna throw it out anyway. I lost my best trench coat though and a damn fine pair of suspenders somewhere on the twenty-eighth floor when the lead started to fly. Thank Dog my pants were still on. That would have been really embarrassing.
I'm not one to admire criminals but I give credit where credit's due. These doggies were good.
"Stop playing with him and finish that mutt!"
The familiar high strung voice of 'Sour Mouth' Banner roared over the gunfire. The top dog of this pack. I readjusted myself and threw my own voice out into the open.
"Give me the girl, Banner and I won't have to put a bullet in your head!"
"I ain't giving up shit, you cock sucking, cunt fuck, shamus dick!"
Jesus. They didn't call him 'Sour Mouth' for nothing.
Another few rounds took out some of my crate and sunk lower to the floor. It wouldn't be covering me for much longer. There was a womanly scream of protest that made my ears fold back. It was the mayor's niece and she was running out of time. I needed to act and I needed to do it now.
I rolled out from cover, ignoring the pain in my shoulder and aimed my piece.
You only get a split second to pick out your marks and make your move before they make theirs. There were three of them. A pug with a shot gun, some dopey looking basset with another revolver and 'Sour Mouth' himself holding the girl. Poor kid was scared out of her mind. Can't say I blamed her. If I screwed this one up, she'd be forced into turning tricks somewhere in another city. But I wasn't going to let that happen.
The pug raised his scatter gun and aimed straight for my head. Too bad for him, my slug entered his chest and sent him flying against the wall. I rolled again as a round embedded itself into the concrete floor where I had just been. I ended up on one knee, pulling the trigger. My gun made a loud pop and the basset slumped to the floor in a heap. The sound of a door closing echoed throughout the unfinished hotel floor as I brought my gun around.
Banner and the girl were gone.
Gritting my teeth, I got up on shaky legs. The blood loss was starting to get to me and I realized I was going to need to wrap this up much sooner than later. I had one bullet left. One was enough.
One is always enough.
I hurried towards the door and flung it open, racing up the stairs as fast as I could. I tripped a few times thanks to some shoddy craftsmanship but kept the pace. This hotel was going to look great when it was finished but right now it was a five star bona fide shithole. Not the kind of place I want to be buried in.
I reached the end door and kicked it open, raising my gun at the same time.
"Back off, dick! Or the girl gets her brains splattered all over the wall!"
It was hard to hear him over the sound of the rushing wind but I could see him clear as day. The bright lights of Dog City in the background illuminated him and the girl. The tears in her pleading eyes and the glint of silver on his pistol that he held to her head. I inched closer which only provoked the pistol to be pushed further into her temple.
"I said back the hell off!" Banner screamed, his eyes bulging from their sockets and his mouth frothing like he had come down with a bad case of rabies. Not wanting to press the nut any more than I had to, I stopped just a few feet away.
"Let her go, Banner." I told him again, the wind carrying my voice over to him then out into the night sky. He laughed at me and shook his head frantically. "You think you're in a position to negotiate?"
"You think you are?"
"Hello! Earth to Ace Hart! I'm the one with a fucking gun pointed into the bitch's head! I got a full clip and I know you only have one shot left!" Banner cried. The mayor's niece cried harder. I hated seeing a dame shed tears. My grip tightened on my piece and I narrowed my eyes at the husky.
"And I'm the one with a gun pointed to yours. Six rounds or one, it makes little difference. A bullet's a bullet so I don't see much of an advantage, 'Sour Mouth'."
"With the girl in front of me? You're gonna risk that bullet going into her? You're full of shit, shamus! You want her to live don't ya? Then surrender and let me walk out of here! She won't be living well but she'll be alive!"
I was done talking. I had to save this girl and I had to save her now. Looking up, I could see a steel girder overhanging above the two, the moonlight casting a slight shine off its surface. Another lesson from the war. Be aware of your surroundings. Key advice for us detectives too.
Holding his gaze for a moment, I finally raised my gun up in defeat and I could see a smile form on that son of a bitch's face. He laughed and shook his head, the gun now trained on me.
"I thought you were smarter than that, Hart." He joshed. I could see the look of joy in his face as he pulled the trigger. It's a shame I had to spoil it by pulling mine first.
My gun went off and hit its mark on the girder. There was a loud ping sound followed by a flash of sparks and Banner no longer had that look of joy on his face. The bullet had ricocheted off the girder and right down into the mutt's head. He went slack and his eyes glazed over, his body falling backwards. He still had his dead fingers around the girl and she screamed in terror as they began to fall.
I acted fast and grabbed the girl just in time as Banner's body toppled over the edge of the hotel and fell thirty stories to the ground. I did that asshole a favor by shooting him before he fell.
The mayor's niece cried into my chest as I rubbed her back in comfort. It was over. I couldn't help but look over the edge and see the specks of dogs crowding around Banner's broken remains. The fact that I had hit him was a one in a million shot. But it was like I said;
One is always enough.
I took a large swig of bourbon as I collapsed in my desk chair. Everything ached more than it had in a long time. Especially my shoulder.
The docs at the vet hospital had patched me up pretty good. Turns out the bullet I took passed clean through my shoulder so all I got was a couple of stitches and a hefty bill. Lucky me…that is if you can consider getting shot in any way as being lucky. But the kid was safe and 'Sour Mouth' Banner was out of the picture for good. Girls could walk the streets without having to worry about getting nabbed from some sex trading mongrels.
The mayor was overjoyed of course. That never stopped him from being nervous whenever I was around though. The pooch was always acting like he had something to hide. Mayor Kickbark never seemed like a straight shooter but then again, what politician was? Straight or not, he paid what he owed and I could take a very long vacation. If this city ever let me have one.
I removed my fedora and tossed it onto my desk among the scattered remains of previous case files. I really needed a secretary. I took another shot of the hard stuff and leaned back in the chair. I wanted nothing more than to sleep this off.
Well, almost nothing more.
Her scent hit my nose like a rolled up newspaper and I let my tail wag for a moment before getting it under control. I swiveled around and there she was standing in my doorway like an angel sent down from doggy heaven. Throwing on my best Ace Hart smile, I nodded towards the collie.
"Rosie. What brings you by so late?"
"Had to check up on you." She said stepping into my office, a smile to die for plastered on her muzzle. "I heard you had a pretty rough day."
I chuckled and got up from my chair despite the protest of my body. "Ah. Finding the kid was easy enough. Saving her was a little more challenging." I told her, motioning to my shoulder.
Rosie's eyes focused on my injury and concern flashed across her face for second. I caught the look and waved it off.
"It ain't as bad as it looks, Sweetfleas. Been shot before back in Germany. That was worse." I assured her. That smile returned and she moved closer. Even in the dim lighting of this dump, she looked as beautiful as ever.
"You did a great job, Ace." She said softly. "If you hadn't tracked her down, who knows where she would be right now."
"Probably safe in the hands of Dog City's best Chief of Detectives. And quicker too." I said with a grin as I sat on the edge of my desk, just in front of her. Rosie's smile widened and I could see her ears turn red. She looked at my shoulder again and the smile faded.
"Oh, Ace. You're bleeding."
I looked for myself and saw that the bandage was soaking up a whole lot of red. I gave her another smile and shrugged.
"Vet said it might do that. No big deal."
"You should put some pressure on it."
I nodded and reached over to grab a rag from the other side of my desk when I suddenly felt pressure being applied anyways. I looked up to see Rosie standing right in front of me, hand on my injured shoulder. She looked a little embarrassed.
It was cute.
Rosie cleared her throat and managed to look me in the eyes. "Sorry, Ace. Instinct I guess." She said and went to move her hand away. Before I even knew it, mine was on top of hers, keeping it pressed.
"You got good instincts. Feels better already." I said. Again she smiled, a little coyly this time as her jade eyes locked with my own.
"Are you flirting with me, Ace Hart?"
"Depends. You gonna cuff me and haul me off to the pound for it?"
"I'll cuff you but I think I'll have a personal interrogation myself." Rosie whispered, her other hand now squeezing my knee. A hell of a shudder went up my neck.
I never was a big fan of dames though I was a fan of parts of them. Just about every skirt I ever met had me jumping through hoops at one time or another whether it was for business or pleasure. I respected a lady no doubt about it but my gut always told me never to trust a pair of legs and sparkling eyes. It only brought trouble.
But Rosie was different.
She was a straight laced, no nonsense type of gal. Beauty and brains combined in one dynamite package. She had a hell of a left hook too. Even now, I couldn't resist letting my eyes drink up her curvaceous form which only caused her to squeeze my knee harder.
"You give all the girls you meet that look?" She teased me. I snuck my other hand around the small of her back and pulled her into my chest.
"Only the ones who I got a case against for the biggest crime I've ever seen."
"And that would be?" She asked, her breath hot on my face.
"Stealing my heart."
I wasn't much for the sappy stuff. Chalk it up to my macho attitude I guess. But when I said that stuff to Rosie, I never felt all that embarrassed. Maybe that's because it was true.
The collie's face in front of me looked like she had just been hit with a bomb. I guess she wasn't expecting me to say that. We both knew there had always been something between us but until now, it was nothing but witty repartee and teasing.
With the night I just had, I wasn't in the mood for teasing.
I let go of her hand and ran my fingers through her hair, like strands of silk and I felt her own hand move to the back of my neck. My palm rested on the back of her head and began to pull her towards me. Rosie didn't put up a fight.
I had never kissed Rosie before despite what those hens down at the hair dressers might say. I'll admit that I had pictured it in my head a hundred times over and how the experience in real life would compare. I quickly learned that there was no comparison.
Her soft lips met mine, never once hesitating. Rosie wasn't the type to hesitate. That suited me just fine as I was the same way. She squeezed the back of my neck, tightening her hand into a fist in my fur. It only made me want her more. I pulled her tighter against my chest, those curves I was talking about earlier making their presence known.
Damn, did she taste good. But like most things I often divulge in, I tend to overdo it. I started to unbutton her trench coat, the feral side in me wanting more. For a minute there I thought she was actually going to go along with this. Rosie didn't resist, letting me get the coat all the way past her shoulders but her better judgement kicked in. Can't say I was mad at her.
She was sucking face with a bum detective that used to be a bum soldier and it looked like things were getting a little too crazy. I'd slam the brakes on that too if I was her.
Rosie pushed me away and I couldn't help but let a whine escape my throat when her lips left mine. She stood there, trying not to look out of breath and fixed her hair that I had mussed up. I couldn't help but smirk. Rosie always had to be professional. When she got her coat back on her shoulders and re buttoned to exactly the way it was, she cleared her throat.
"I'm sorry, Ace." She said with true sincerity in her voice. I shook my head, rubbing my shoulder.
"It's fine." I replied. It really was. I knew what was coming. "I…it's not that I don't…being on the Force is-"
"I know, Rosie." I told her with a smile. "You don't have to explain. Things are what they are."
It was a sad fact. Relations between me and the police were always a bit tense. Probably didn't help that I killed the chumps they had been looking to arrest for months. Probably also didn't help that Rosie was always there to make sure I didn't end up getting arrested like tonight. I didn't ask but I didn't have to. I knew she was there for me which was why we couldn't give in.
The job would get more difficult for the both of us and not to mention dangerous. If Rottweiler or Bugsy hurt her to get to me, I wouldn't be able to live with myself. As much as we wanted it, we had to play our cards right. That didn't mean I had to be happy about it though.
"You should go home. Get some rest." I ended up saying though I wanted to say more. Rosie smiled again and my pulse sped up.
"I'll be going back to the station. Someone's got a lot of paper work to do for keeping the boys from throwing your tail in the kennels."
"An appreciated gesture, I assure you." I chuckled. Rosie turned to leave but she stopped and made her way over to me again. Bending down just a little, she kissed me again, softer and shorter.
"One day, Ace." She whispered, trailing her finger along my jaw. I smiled at her and nodded. Rosie turned and sauntered away, her tail just brushing my nose. She really knew how to drive a guy wild.
"See you around, Rosie." I said. She stopped in my door and threw me a sideways glance along with a sly grin. "Keep your nose clean, Hart."
Then she was gone.
There was a heavy silence that followed and I hated it more than anything. I sighed and made my way back to my chair, plopping down with a grunt. Rosie's taste still lingered on my lips and I ran my tongue over them hoping to relive a small part of what had just occurred. Sadly, it wasn't the same.
I looked out my window to see the lonely and quiet streets of Dog City and for a moment, I let myself close my eyes and lean back. There was always some sort of commotion at night, whether it was gang wars or some sort of robbery, the shadows were constantly working. But there was nothing this time. Just the quiet.
I could feel myself drifting off to sleep and Dog knows that I needed it. My body relaxed and my mind went black. Then a figure stepped out of the darkness and even in my sleep, I knew I was smiling. She was back and wearing that smile that I had come to love so much.
Just as much as I loved her.
Our kiss replayed again. It lasted longer this time and she never pushed away. There were no walls, no boundaries, and no professional bullshit. Just her and me. In my fantasies, I had kissed her over a hundred times but just once in real life. But like I said;
One is always enough…for now.