I guess 20 days is enough time to wait for the next chapter, eh?
This has been taking up space on my flash drive. Minimal space, yes, but every time I plug it into the console at work, this folder pops up. I think it's a sign
TITLE: Stand Your Ground
SUMMARY: In which we see the ends begin to come together, and familiar strangers appear.19.Orange20.Crawl21.Alternate Reality22.Downstairs23.Pop24.Cliche25.Memory
Andy’s mobile chirped, two quick beeps that told him it was an emergency call, and pulling out of a slow kiss reluctantly, he grabbed it from the clip at his hip and flipped it open.
His face fell, a look of absolute horror and grief washing over him, tears silently spilling down his cheeks as Andrew faintly heard Audrey’s voice on the other end.
“Right,” Andy replied curtly, clearing his throat. “I’ll be there as soon as possible.”
“What is it?” Andrew asked, grabbing Andy’s hand before he could leap off the bed. “What’s happened?”
Andy bit his tongue, looked away, and cleared his throat. He knew if he said anything, Andrew would do something stupid.
“Andy,” Andrew repeated, tugging on Andy’s hand. He sat up, pulling Andy toward him, forcing him to look at him, and asked again, “What’s happened?”
“Evan…they killed Evan,” Andy choked, feeling like he couldn’t breath, his head swimming. “They took Danny, and they killed Evan.”
There was commotion in the hall, and the sound of Owen Turner shouting at nurses, as well as Bob Walker and Cassie’s brother, Stephen. Everyone was up in arms. There was about to be war in Sandford.
“McDougal, you and Thatcher go round Somerfield,” Nicholas commanded, the ambulance crew having just arrived.
“Nicholas, we can’t just leave,” Audrey interjected, but Nicholas ignored her.
“DeLane, you and Kincaid should head out toward the village square with myself and Fisher,” Nicholas barked. Technically, Grace and Audrey outranked him, but they didn’t protest when he met their eyes with such a look of uncontrolled lust for revenge.
“Tadd and Franky, you two round up whatever gunmen you can at the farms, bring them back into town,” Nicholas stated, his brothers nodding in reply.
“Gavy, you get ahold of mum,” Nicholas said to his sister, who glared at him.
“What, think a girl can’t handle it?” she snapped.
“Gavy, half the people here are female,” Nicholas replied sternly. “But only you are my sister. You stay.”
“What about Andy?” Tony asked. “Shouldn’t we-”
“Everyone at the hospital has been notified,” Audrey interrupted. “Andy said he’d meet us shortly.”
There was a beat of silence.
“Ev’ryone?” Galen repeated.
“…Yes?” Audrey replied. “It is standard protocol to inform all active members of the precinct when an officer is down, and they were never removed from the list-”
“Tha’ officer is Evan,” Galen said testily. “Ye should be more respectful.”
“Now is not the time for decorum,” Audrey shot back, proving she wasn’t as easygoing as she’d been playing up to that point. “Now’s the time for action.”
Frank stared at his son for a long time, watching Danny’s shallow breathing, his tears having finally stopped. He’d missed him so intensely when he’d gone to prison, the only thing keeping him going the promise that, one day, Danny would follow in his footsteps, and maybe make a better life for himself than Frank had done. He’d failed him as a father.
This wasn’t what he’d wanted, either. One of his good friends, an officer he’d known for years, was dead, and it was his fault. Danny would never forgive him, would never understand what Frank had gone through for this opportunity, this last chance to see his son. The organization was done with Frank now, and as a last favor before they got rid of him, they’d made it possible for him to see Danny, one last time. The only condition was, he couldn’t tell Danny any of that.
“Danny,” Frank said for the hundredth time, wishing his son would look at him.
“What th’ ‘ell do you want?” Danny replied for the first time.
No matter how angry or hurt Danny sounded, hearing him speak brought tears to Frank’s eyes. He was his son, he was everything…
“Danny, I’m sorry,” Frank murmured. “I’m…sorry.”
“S’not going t’help Evan,” Danny hiccoughed. “S’not going t’bring him back…”
“I know,” Frank sighed. Shifting in his seat, he craned his neck to see if any of Anselm’s lads were around. They were in the church, sitting in the first row of pews, with Luke, Matt, John and Michael guarding the entrances, and Peter and Paul milling about in parts unknown, probably trying to get in touch with their first string outside contact.
He knew that was Simon Skinner, and the thought made his stomach twist. For some reason, Simon had agreed to help Frank see Danny again, to get out, both of them knowing that this would be their last hurrah, no matter what the outcome. They would die as soon as they had what they’d been sent for. They still had to retrieve it, no matter what; the organization had made good on their promise, and Frank had seen Danny. Nothing more was guaranteed, and a plaguing fear racked Frank’s mind that they may even kill Danny now, just to get what they wanted from Nicholas.
“Danny, I need to tell you something,” Frank murmured, shifting closer on the hard plank seat. Danny didn’t move away, but he didn’t look up. Reaching into his pocket, Frank drew out a small booklet, folded it twice smaller, and slipped it into Danny’s pants pocket. Now Danny looked up, the rage in his eyes shrouded by confusion, love, sadness, as his father willed him to understand.
“Dad, what’s going on?” Danny whispered, fresh tears cascading down his face.
Frank’s heart broke, throwing his arms around his son, both of them crying, trying to understand, trying to stay alive.
Andy’s car had more people in it than usual as he drove down Northline Road, checking for the millionth time that the safety on his gun was switched off, feeling Andrew’s hand on his thigh as he drove.
He hadn’t wanted to let them come with him, but with Bob Walker glaring him full in the face, and Owen Turner threatening the continued well being of his kidneys, he really felt he had no choice. Cassie’s brother Stephen was there as well, cutting his vacation two weeks short and ignoring his girlfriend’s reasoning as he shed his civilian clothes and dug his badge out of his duffel bag. He’d started before Cassie, and blamed himself for getting his sister the position.
“Wean toggle fascis,” Walker grumbled, checking the rifle he’d grabbed off Owen’s father. They’d stopped at Elroy farm on the way in, meeting Tadd and Franky at the gate, checking stories, doing swift introductions, and trading information before Owen’s dad relinquished the key to the armory in the shed. What had been there the first time when Nicholas and Danny discovered it was quickly replenished by Mr. Turner, who seemed obsessed with firearms, and the five men were now heavily outfitted, making the small Volkswagon feel even more cramped.
“What-?” Stephen started, his red hair making the dark circles under his eyes stand out.
“He said we need to go faster,” Andrew’s aggravated tone quickly plunging the car back into silence.
They bounced through a pothole, the sight of the church looming in the distance as they came around a sharp bend, and the adrenaline began to flow in earnest.
“Angle’s gonna wring my neck for this,” Andy muttered.
“No, he won’t,” Andrew replied quietly, squeezing Andy’s thigh as the accelerator hit the floor, “I won’t let him.”
Liam Nash poked his phone twice, as if testing to see if it were alive.
“Ring,” he grumbled at it, resting his head in his hands. “Ring, damn you.”
He was bored, agitated, anxious and lonely. He hadn’t heard from Grace or Nicholas, and now he was beginning to worry. There hadn’t been any faxes or emails, and all communication in and out of Sandford had stopped, which wasn’t unusual, but made Liam’s stomach clench anyway.
“What are you doing?” Kels asked as he stepped into the office.
“I could ask you the same thing,” Liam snorted. “Shouldn’t you be home with the baby?”
“Marlene’s got him,” Kels replied. His son, Christian, was only three weeks old. “You trying to make the phone ring with your head again?”
“May as well,” Liam sighed. “There’s been a stand-still the last few days, no information out of the country, and now they expect us to rebuild and forget it? MI5 is asking too much.”
“Maybe you should ask Grace,” Kels suggested. “She does kind of work there.”
“Oh, she’s in Sandford,” Liam muttered. “I can’t bother her right now, she’s on a case. Besides, Nicholas doesn’t know about us still.”
“You’re getting married, and he doesn’t know?” Kels said, totally shocked. “You’re a weird sort of friend, you know that? I figured he’d be your bloody best man!”
“You think I should call him?” Liam asked, his expression unsure.
In response, Kels grabbed the phone and started dialing, thrusting the receiver into Liam’s hand.
“Hullo?” Liam said suddenly, foregoing the verbal assault he intended to deliver on Kels in a moment. “Nicholas, are you alright? How’s-”
Liam sat back in his chair, passing a hand across his face.
“What’re you going to do?” he said darkly. After a moment, he nodded and replied to whatever Nicholas had said, “Right. Couple hours, tops. No worries. Be safe. Love you, too. And Nicholas? I think you should know, Grace and I- She told you? Oh. Well…right.”
Liam jumped up as he slammed the receiver back into the craddle, tossed a couple files into his desk, and grabbed his hat.
“What’s going on?” Kels asked, getting in Liam’s way, sensing the weight of the situation.
“We’re about to go for a little ride,” Liam said, his voice gravely, clapping Kels on the shoulder before the two of them hit the office at a run.
Nicholas’s mind wasn’t on his driving as he swept through the village, sirens blaring. He was thinking about Danny, about the first time they’d been together, remembering the way he looked and smelled and tasted. He remembered the long wait, months of watching and wondering, all culminating in the moment their lips first met, in that tentative touch that sparked their romance in full. His head was full of kisses, glances, touches and whispers, memories of Danny.
He had to save him, no matter what.
“Nicholas, watch the fucking road,” Tony yelped, grabbing the door handle tightly as Nicholas barely avoided a passing goat. “Where the hell are all those bloody beasts coming from, anyway??”
He strained his thoughts, trying to remember the necklace, to make sense of the puzzle. What did it unlock? Where had it come from? And what could possibly be so important that the NWA, or whoever had fronted them, could send in such murderous bastards as Nicholas’s cousins?
“I don’t think we should just go charging around like this,” Grace said over the radio. She’d borrowed one of the cars, the Turners’ actually, and Audrey was white-knuckling it as much as Tony with Nicholas. “Park the cars by the fountain and fan out. Leave the rooves on, though.”
“Got it,” Nicholas replied, reaching for the emergency brake as he burst into the cobblestone square.
“Aw, Christ,” Tony moaned, his head spinning as the car rocked to a halt by the fountain. Nicholas killed the siren but left the lights, listening to the distant wail of Kincaid and DeLane’s squad car as it blazed into view. It headed straight for them before a screech of tires signaled heavy braking, and the boot swung all the way around, so that the other car stopped just a breath in front of Tony and Nicholas’s, facing away from them now, and both women leapt out with guns drawn. “Aw, Christ,” Tony moaned again.
Nicholas was on the pavement in a moment’s notice, gun at the ready, hearing Tony’s door slam behind him as he met Grace and Audrey between the vehicles.
“Check the inn, the shops, everywhere,” Nicholas instructed, the hairs on the back of his neck going up as he realized there were no people in the streets. “Tony, you’re with me. I trust you ladies are good?”
“We’re fantastic, thanks for asking,” Audrey replied, winking as she turned and took off at a jog, Grace right at her side.
“C’mon,” Nicholas said, spinning on his heel, heading for the pub.
“Right,” Tony barked.
Their footfalls echoed eerily across the empty town center, the sun ducking behind some seriously ominous clouds, as the bell in the church tower rang for no particular reason. Nicholas and Tony stopped immediately, looking at the distant spire before looking at one another, and then looking back at the church.
“Why the hell would they go there?” Tony asked, reaching for his radio to signal the others.
“I wouldn’t do that,” a familiar voice said from behind them, a rich, self-assured tone that always made Nicholas want to punch the speaker in the face. “They’re monitoring the radio frequencies.”
They spun around and were met with two very familiar faces, two very familiar older gents: Simon Skinner and Doctor Robin Hatcher. The third man was completely new to Tony, but Nicholas almost dropped his teeth as recognition set in.
“Hello, Nicholas,” his uncle Derek said, smiling innocently. “Nice to see you again.”