DINNER AND A SHOW
Edited due to ConCrit by reviewers. Thanks, thomaseliot.
Nick goes from "Puppy Dog" Burkhardt to "Bulldog" Burkhardt and back to "Puppy Dog" again, all while fighting three motorcyclist thugs for his fellow officer's dinnertime entertainment. WARNING for foul language and minor violence. No gore. POST-BAD MOON RISING.
Sgt. Franco couldn't believe how incredibly crowded the Bar & Grille was for a Wednesday. The owner had apparently agreed to host a gathering of motorcycle enthusiasts on their way to Anaheim for a charity event, and the bikers were really packed in there. Griffin, Wu and various members of Portland Major Crimes were squeezed around a big circular booth by the front window, alternately scanning the menu and the street outside. The waitress was working her way through the room. She stopped at the table behind them.
"What'll it be, gents?"
"Some of the gang went to get a new chain for Greg's girl's bike. They'll be a few."
"Rosie, you moron. Greg's dating Rosie. It's the 21st century. Show a little respect."
The waitress – name-tagged Dorie – turned instead to take Major Crimes' order.
"Alright, ladies and gentlemen, what'll you have?"
"Hey, wait a minute. Burkhardt isn't here yet."
Dorie looked exasperated. She'd just fought her way through the crowd for nothing.
"I'll order for Nick." Hank said.
"Yeah, man. We're hungry. Wu's hungry," Wu said.
"And I have to get back to the office. Damn paperwork keeps piling up," Sutherland added.
"Besides, there he is now," Hoyo pointed out.
Sure enough, when Franco glanced outside Burkhardt was passing the window of the restaurant. He reached the door just ahead of a trio of toughs, who took exception to this. One of them – Spiky – slammed the door shut after Nick started to open it. Another, Mowhawk, shoved him from the door. Hard.
Nick spread his hands and gestured for them to go first. They didn't move. Spiky was clearly spoiling for a fight. Franco gave them the once over. Big and dangerous motorcycle toughs. The vast majority of motorcyclists – 99 percent – were law abiding citizens. Clearly these belonged to the other one percent. These three were big and bulky, their arms and legs laden with muscle. But at least none of them looked to be carrying guns.
The cops nearest the aisles stood up to go and aid Nick. Unfortunately, the crowd had come to see the commotion and gathered around the window, blocking the way out.
"What's Burkhardt doing?"
"He's not gonna take them on alone?"
"Even if they're unarmed, that's still dangerous."
Dangerous or not, Nick stood his ground. If these guys were spoiling for a fight, better they should pick it with a cop than a civilian. Franco figured Major Crimes would have a front row seat to seeing Nick "Puppy Dog" Burkhardt get his ass whooped. Granted, the kid had talent. But no way could he take on these three guys at once. Nick put his hand on his gun.
"Police!" They heard faintly through the window and the din. "Freeze!"
Motorcycle toughs spoiling for a fight don't take directions too well. Spiky threw a jab. Nick batted it out of the way with his left while removing his right from his gun. Franco understood; Nick didn't want to take a shot on a crowded street. Better the perps should get a few licks in and take a table inside, honor satisfied. Especially because Hank was calling it in and the thugs could be rounded up in just a few minutes. Nick would know his partner had his back.
Then Spiky drew a knife. Not a puny switchblade either, but a big fucking knife. Mohawk followed suit. Buzzcut pulled his hands out of his pockets, revealing brass knuckles.
"Oh, shit!" Dr. Harper muttered. But what could the cops do? They couldn't shoot through the glass window without the bullets and the shrapnel endangering lives. They couldn't push through the crowd in time to make a difference, although Wu, Sutherland and Hoyo were certainly making the effort. Someone in the crowd was yelling at the others to let the cops through, but everyone kept getting tangled up, trying to move out of the way while angling for a prime viewing area. Oddly enough, Griffin just stood there calm and seemingly unconcerned. Was Franco imagining things, or did Hank look like he was looking forward to seeing Nick getting pummeled? That couldn't be right.
At a roar from the crowd, Franco turned his eyes back to the fight.
Nick was not getting pummeled.
Just the opposite.
Spiky charged Nick, swinging his blade. Nick intercepted the arm holding the blade and smoothly twisted to force Spiky down on his knees. At the same time as Spiky, Mohawk moved in. Franco noted he must be a Supernatural fan (a guilty pleasure Franco himself would never admit to) since Mohawk was wielding a replica of the wicked knife Sam Winchester owned that looked like a mini-scythe.
Nick leaned back almost ninety degrees in a literally expletive-inspiring display as the knife passed harmlessly inches above his chest. Franco heard the bikers cursing and some of them were now yelling encouragement for Nick. Franco would never admit he developed a little man-crush of his own at exactly that moment. When I grow up I want to be as cool as you. Franco squelched the thought. Twice. Bets were being made on the outcome of the fight. The crowd kept getting louder. Franco could see money passing hands in his peripheral vision, but his main focus was on the fight.
Mohawk had overextended and pulled his knife arm back, unintentionally giving Spiky a haircut in the process. Nick straightened and sent ex-Spiky tumbling before releasing him. Nick step-kicked Mohawk further back, before Mohawk could regain his center of balance. Mohawk toppled backwards, pin-wheeling his arms and suddenly looking very scared of his own knife. Nick stepped forward and grasped the wrist holding the knife, easing Mohawk gently to the ground. Then Nick's left hand darted backwards and without even looking, Nick intercepted a motorcycle chain as Buzz whipped it towards Nick's unprotected back.
Franco hadn't even seen Buzz pull the damn thing out, and he was looking right at him. How had Nick? Nick got a firm grip on the chain and pulled it smoothly from Buzz's weak grip. Nick quickly used the chain to tie Mohawk's hands together. Nick then stood up to face Buzzcut, pulling his handcuffs out in a grim parody of Buzz's brass knuckles. Buzz swung. Nick dodged to the side. Buzz swung again and Nick dodged the other way, this time catching a cuff around the wrist that was swinging. Buzz tried pulling his arm back, but Nick held on tight. Then Nick swept Buzz's legs out from under him, flipped him on his stomach, and reached over to finish cuffing Buzz's hands behind his back.
Ex-Spiky was just regaining his breath on the ground where Nick had thrown him. He spread his hands wide to show no threat.
Score: 3-0 Nick.
Franco decided to change Nick's nick at the precinct to "Bulldog" Burkhardt.
Nick pulled out his wallet to fetch his Miranda card. It distracted him at the crucial moment. Nick drew breath just in time to be rammed through the window by Rosie the Riveter gone bad.
"Hands off my guy!" she yelled over the crashing of glass. Nick landed right on Major Crimes' table with Rosie on top of him still screaming obscenities. His fellow officers were only too happy to pounce on her and place her under arrest after being unable to help earlier. A few stepped through the window to make sure the Three Stooges didn't escape in the chaos.
"Nick, you all right?" Doc Harper asked.
"Fine." He didn't even need to catch his breath. Franco wondered if maybe he should increase his own workouts. "Was anyone hurt by the glass?"
"The owner must have used safety glass. Thank God for that much at least," Franco said. Franco looked around the table just to check that no one was hurt. His gaze skittered past Hank and reversed. Griffin was just standing there, hands in his pockets, grinning puckishly as he gazed down at Nick.
"Nice job breaking it, Hero," Hank teased.
Nick smiled back as he looked at his partner, but then his smile disappeared. The other patrons had stopped their raucous encouragement and were standing quietly now in a half-circle around the police. Nick levered himself off the table and faced them, as did his fellow officers.
One particularly burly motorcyclist headed straight for Nick. Nick shifted his weight, prepared for a sudden attack. The biker telegraphed movement, lifting his arm in a striking motion –
Only for his arm to stop several feet shy of Nick, hand out, palm open. "Sorry about that. Some guys can be a little hot headed. Especially Greg and his friends. I hope you realize we aren't all like that. Actually, we're on our way to Anaheim for a charity ride."
Nick's face brightened like the sun, cutting through the tension. They clasped hands. "I've always wanted to go to Disney."
Franco groaned. One perfectly bad-ass reputation shot to shit. Nick "Puppy Dog" Burkhardt it still was.
A blaring siren heralded the arrival of backup outside. The officers poured out of their cars and began to clean up the mess of thugs Nick left outside. The bikers returned to their tables. Dorie sidled up to Nick and gave him a kiss on the cheek. Too cute. Then she handed him a dustpan and broom. Nick blinked and then got to work cleaning up the mess he made inside.
Yup. Just like a chastened puppy.
Franco groaned again. Perfectly bad-ass reputation shot to shit.