Stand Your GroundRATING:
Nicholas/Danny, Andrew/Andy, Doris/??PROMPT:
I am not responsible for any of these canonical characters, but their OC counterparts, well... And please, no crying over spilled blood.
Police Constable Doris Thatcher, 31, born and raised in Sandford, Gloucestershire. Graduated Sacred Heart University in 1999 with a double major in nursing and sociology. Earned certification as a grief counselor and trauma nurse while working at Saint Peter’s Hospital in Buford Abby. Returned to Sandford after her uncle died in a farming “incident.” Earned pro bono entry into the Sandford Police Service for being female. In her first year of service achieved high commendation for human resources and management skills. Currently, she is awaiting approval for sick leave, despite having no previous ailments or symptoms worthy of note, save for what the since-incarcerated Dr. Hatcher expected was “gastrointestinal bloating” and seasonal allergies.
In fact, Doris Thatcher is 6 months pregnant.
Doris rested her hand gently against her stomach, the mounting bulge camouflaged by an extra sweater and vigilant crossing of her arms, feeling her senses begin to prick up; if the Chief was shaken, there was reason for alarm.
“What exactly is going on, Nicholas?” Tony murmured, shifting his feet as he moved a breath closer to Nicholas, facing him head-on.
“I think,” Nicholas replied hesitantly, licking his lips as he paused, “The NWA was just a front, covering for something bigger. We had hints of it in London, little cells that came down fast, but nobody expected anything real to come of it. It’s true they’re on the international watch list, but they never counted as a real threat
before, so MI5 didn’t give us funding to track them down. It wasn’t until the incident here-”
” Andy scoffed, eyebrows shooting up toward his hairline.
“No, I mean who the hell is
this man?” Tony cut in, feeling distinctly frightened on top of his mounting curiosity. “And these people he’s on about? Our perp-”
“Oh, I can answer that,” Anselm cut in, smiling congenially as he stood up and came around the desk. He clapped a hand on Nicholas’s shoulder, the Chief trying to shrug him off, but to no avail. “I happen to be Nicholas’s uncle, his father’s eldest brother, more accurately. And the lads, including my Michael, whom you seem to be holding somewhere, are the Chief’s cousins, two of whom are my boys.”
There was absolute silence. All eyes were immediately on Nicholas, expressions of confusion mixing with fear, hurt, anger, sympathy, and a myriad others that came and went too quickly to identify. For his part, Nicholas made a show of meeting each officer’s eyes in turn, unable to speak, but proving he was still willing to communicate.
“What d’they want?” Galen asked Anselm, transfixed with the old man.
“They want to fix things,” Anselm said with a shrug. “Set things right, as they should be.”
“The right thing for them would be jail,” Nicholas growled, rounding on his uncle, Anselm’s hand hanging in thin air for a moment before dropping back to his side. “They’re murderers and thugs, and you’re no better, Seward. You’re no blood of mine and there’s nothing here for you, so take your dogs and leave us in peace!
“Oh, I beg to differ, I beg to differ…” Anselm chuckled, clapping his hands and rubbing them together briskly. “In fact, if you’ve your mother’s photo album about anywhere, I’ll show you precisely what I’m after.”
“Photo album?” Nicholas repeated, a look of confusion spreading so quickly over his features it would seem he’d always held it that way.
“Yes, the one your father gave you,” Anselm continued.
“S’in your bin, i’nnit?” Danny said without thinking, Nicholas shooting him such a look that Danny felt himself completely floored. He hesitated briefly before continuing, “You’ve got a lock on it, after all. We had to go picking through, I mean, thinking it was other stuff, but-”
“Load of sentimentals, s’all it was,” Andy added in support.
“Please,” Anselm said, laying a reassuring hand on Danny’s shoulder, throwing Andy a patronizing grin, “Lead the way.”
In the CCTV room upstairs, Nicholas reluctantly plucked an old army munitions box off a high shelf, a heavy padlock nearly choking the hooked hinge that had been affixed during post-war years and was meant to hold a much smaller lock. Tony leaned against the recording controls, shifting when a knob or dial jabbed him in the arse or thigh, watching the middle-distance, as Andy leaned his hip against the lip of the table beside him. Galen swiveled gently on the chair set before the bank of monitors, totally burned out; he overloaded easily. Anselm stood in the doorway with Doris, and Danny hanging back in the hall, the three of them craning their necks as a group for a better look.
Nobody wanted to crowd Nicholas. He was in a foul mood.
As the box hit the floor, though, Nicholas noticed something strange about the metal plate that held the lock in place. Tipping the container onto its side for a better view, a cold fist squeezed his innards as he realized what he was seeing. An instant later, he frantically fiddled with the lock, smacking his knuckles painfully against the lid as he flung it open.
“Someone’s been in here,” he murmured, surveying the few possessions inside the metallic box. “Someone’s messed with this. Removed the lock. Went through things…”
As the other officers began to speak, to question, and to generally press in for a better look, Anselm’s eye was caught by the plaque on the door; it was the same NWA symbol used when Neighborhood Watch was still manning the controls, a simple blue strip of plastic with white letters, but as Anselm’s fingers pressed the center of the plaque, a smile began to stretch across his face.
“They certainly are sneaky,” Anselm chuckled.
The officers froze, Tony, Andy and Nicholas peering up at the old man from where they knelt beside the box, Galen poised at the edge of his swivel chair, Doris half-leaning for a better look, despite how obvious it made her stomach, and Danny pinned in the small doorway by Anselm’s side.
With a quick, subtle flick of his wrist, Anselm pushed inward on the sign and forced the plastic upward, a sharp click and a high-pitched chirp further stunning the assembled officers, as a wafer-thin inner panel of electrical conduits and a microscopic speaker were revealed.
“You’ve been bugged,” Anselm laughed. “This is Paul and Peter’s work. I’d know it anywhere. Ah yes! Now I remember. We sent these out here almost three years ago, back when the project seemed to be getting out of control…”
“Project?” Danny, Nicholas, Andy and Tony said together.
“What is that thing?” Doris and Galen asked simultaneously.
“Sandford was a risky investment,” Anselm chuckled, “But the project went well. The citizens got their model village, and we got to test the limits of the Stockholm syndrome. The English are such good sheep, after all-”
There was a collective surge among Tony, Nicholas, Danny and Andy, all four of them moving in on Anselm with a crushing mix of rage and fear in their hearts, when a horrible sound shattered their motivation. POP! POP-POP-POP!!
“Andrew…!” Andy shouted before vaulting out of the room, shoving past Danny and sending Anselm crashing to the floor.
Down the stairs, down the long, dimly-lit hall, down past the offices and the Turners’ station, down to the holding suite and interrogation room, Andy felt like he was simply moving down.
His heart beat furiously in his chest, tears threatening his cheeks, breath and knees and hope wanting to give out. He kept moving, down, down, down.
In the holding suite, he slid to a halt, seeing Walker sprawled across the floor. A little distance away, Turner lay in a crumpled heap, left arm splayed at an odd angle and bent in too many places; broken and dislocated, to say the least. Just beside him, Cassie was propped in a chair, unconscious, blood blossoming at the corners of her mouth.
Something in Andy told him to stop, but he couldn’t; there was no blood on the floor, and he was certain he could see each of them still breathing, so at best none of them were dead. He had no idea what had become of Andrew, though.
His momentary hesitation allowed Nicholas and Tony to catch up, both of them skidding to a halt behind him, surveying the scene. Tony’s eyes went wide and his fingers burrowed into the door frame, but Nicholas was on his knees in an instant, checking Turner’s pulse, rolling him on his back, straightening the tortured-looking arm.
“Tony, get Doris!” Nicholas yelled over his shoulder, snapping the Inspector out of his reverie.
Tony gave a curt nod and ran back down the hallway, where Danny was helping the PC along; she hadn’t been feeling well recently, after all.
Andy was in his own world, though, the suite seeming to stretch and grow as he flung himself across to the far door, which he realized was ajar when his fingers met the knob. Throwing the door open, he couldn’t see anything at first, and hit the lights as he stepped inside. The lone table and three green chairs, two facing one, were as they should have been, but there was a heavy smell of fire and violence in the air, and the far wall contained three new, very small holes.
There had been four shots, though.
A muffled groan brought him back to earth, and a moment later, Andy bolted across the room and rounded the table.
His mind collapsed.
Andrew lay on his back in a steadily growing pool of blood, his face contorted in pain, head arching back against the cold tile floor as he gritted his teeth and bit back screams of agony. His right hand clutched desperately at his left forearm, where the bright stain of his life covered his fingers and spilled wantonly onto the floor. His jacket was balled up beside his neck, crushed between his left shoulder and chin, and as Andy dropped to his knees in shock at Andrew’s side, he caught a glimpse of a ragged bullet wound just above the collar bone.
He didn’t know a hell of a lot about medicine, but after seeing one of his many younger cousins nearly bleed to death after stepping on a hatchet half-buried in his dad’s field, he’d been given a thorough lesson on arteries and how to apply proper pressure when one was suspected cut.
It didn’t always help, though.
“Oh dear God…Oh…Andrew…” Andy whimpered, ignoring the blood on his pants and slicking the floor against his knees as he positioned himself behind Andrew, pulling his partner into a half-sitting position against his lap, yanking off his own shirt and tossing Andrew’s jacket aside, using the heavy police-issue cloth as a better barricade to slow the loss of blood.
His white jumper was immediately tie-dyed with streaks and smears of blood, but Andy ignored this too as he hugged Andrew to him, leaning his head against Andrew’s shoulder and letting out a quavering wail as Andrew writhed in pain, his body twitching against Andy’s for possibly the last time.
In the other room, Doris was attending to Walker, who seemed a bit concussed yet otherwise fine. Turner was awake and grumpy as usual, but managed to keep his mouth shut as Tony forced his arm back into the socket, Nicholas holding him in place for good measure. Danny was keeping up a continual stream of conversation with Cassie, who was disoriented but awake. And Galen…
“CHIEF!” Galen screamed, flying into the room like a man on fire.
The officers were immediately at attention, even Cassie, until Galen stepped on Walker’s leg, causing the old man to launch into an unintelligible tirade.
“Officers, PLEASE!” Nicholas shouted, making the room go silent. Rounding on Galen in a fury, he spat, “What’s going on, Constable?”
“Men…guns…in th’ station!” Galen rattled, shaking like a leaf. “Shot Anselm n’flew! Raigh’ ou’the window! E’s fuggin’ dead, splayed an’ layin’ upstairs, like e’d planned eh’ a’long that way! Fuggin’ laughin’ all th‘way, too!”
“Jesus Christ,” Turner murmured, sitting down heavily at Tony’s side, their old fight forgotten.
For a moment, Nicholas didn’t move. He nodded gently to Galen, the young PC collapsing to his knees as if he’d been given permission to shut down this time, before turning to survey his team.
Doris was still with Walker, Tony and Turner seemed to be alright, and while Cassie was a bit foggy still, Danny had a steady hand on her shoulder. Yet they were all looking at him with blank expressions, as if their world had imploded without warning, and none of them knew quite how to make the next move. They didn’t even know what move should be next.
Suddenly, a thought made Nicholas’s blood turn to ice.
“Where’re the Andes?”
“A…Andy,” Andrew coughed, fighting for a moment of composure.
“Shush, shush, shush,” Andy whispered, speaking directly into Andrew’s ear in hushed tones.
“N…no,” Andrew fought, choking a bit as he tried to sit up, but Andy wouldn’t have it. His arms were firmly tangled around Andrew, and nothing was going to change that. Instead, Andrew turned his head, pain coursing through his neck as the wound on his left shoulder pulled and wept, but it was worth it.
When he placed his lips gently against Andy’s damp cheek, it was worth it. When Andy turned to him with tears in his eyes, it was worth it. And when Andy pressed back, his lips quavering but soothing, warm and soft and inviting, everything, everything
was worth it.