I'll keep the table for sentimental reasons. Or maybe I'm just mental. ;)
TITLE: Stand Your Ground (10/? (At this point...))
A/N: Language, shooting, people being angry. And then there's some other stuff I wrote about being bad at all the previous things listed. =3
“Watch where ye’re goin’!” Galen yelled, yanking his seatbelt on as Doris slammed the car into drive.
“We’ve gotta book, love,” Doris said, dodging Mr. Anderson as he shuffled across the road with his two small grandchildren. They had heard the church bell as they stood in the car park, talking to one of the shelf-stackers who claimed he’d seen Simon Skinner earlier in his old office, and when Doris couldn’t raise anyone on the radio, she’d told Galen to get his arse in the car.
“All units, please r’spond,” Galen tried again on the set in the dash. There was a brief crackle, followed by more silence. “All units, this is Constable Mc’Dougal, if any’in kin hear me, please r’spond.”
“What the hell is going on?” Doris murmured to herself, punching the gas as she hit a long stretch of empty road.
Two shots were fired off to the left, and Doris screamed, hitting the brakes. Galen ducked automatically, fumbling for his gun as he twisted sideways in the seat, looking back through the shattered rear window.
“All units, shots fired!” Galen yelled into the radio, growling in frustration and pitching the receiver across the dash. “You a’right, Doris?”
“M’fine,” Doris replied shakily, never taking her foot off the gas.
“Those’re large-caliber shells,” Galen said, the sound of the gunfire replaying in his head. “Sniper rifle, prob’ly. They’ve got some’in takin’ pop shots from th’belfry.”
“We’ve got to find the others,” Doris said, looking over at Galen for a moment. They were both terrified, but functional. Doris began to calm slowly as Galen rubbed her shoulder, reaching half-heartedly for the radio receiver once again. “I don’t think they’re answering today, Galen.”
“All officers, please respond,” Andrew’s voice suddenly cut through the dead air.
Galen nearly pitched the receiver in shock, snatching it off the floor panel and hitting the call button, “S’good te’ hear ye, Andrew! What th’fuck are ye doin’ out a’ th’ospital, tho?”
“Was that you taking fire?” Andrew asked, ignoring Galen’s question.
“Yeah, it were,” Galen replied. He furrowed his brow, looking at Doris, who seemed to be thinking the same thing: “Wait, where th’ell are ye?”
As they charged into the square, slamming on the brakes, Doris and Galen could see Andy’s Volkswagen parked by two squad cars, both running but vacant. Walker and Cartwright were sitting on the hood of the lead car, loading a couple rifles, while Andrew leaned against the open driver’s side door of the rear car, the receiver to his lips, as Owen and Stephen Burrows rummaged through the trunk of the Volkswagen.
“You shouldn’t be here!” Doris chastised, jumping out of the car and throwing her arms around Bob’s neck. “You’re all going to get hurt again!”
“Werena lebbenideryou,” Walker smiled, hugging Doris in return.
“Who shot you?” Andrew asked, tossing the receiver into Angel’s squad car and slamming the door.
“They’re’in th’bell tower,” Galen responded, yanking a semi-automatic out of the back seat. Checking the clip, he smiled at Andrew and said, “I’m raigh’ glad you lot didn’ ge’rid a’ th’guns after last time.”
“Thank Nicholas for that,” Owen put in, appearing at Andy‘s side, taking the rifle from his hands, and slinging it against his shoulder. “I know I will.”
“Whereinne, anywer?” Bob asked, getting off the hood of the car and looking at the other officers, who shared a furtive glance.
“You haven’t seen them?” Doris asked.
“Not a peep,” Stephen replied, letting the boot of Andy’s car fall closed, coming around the side of the car to meet the other officers. “Until we heard you lot yelling on the radio, we thought you’d left us behind as well.”
“And nothing from those lady-cops?” Andy asked.
“Tha’s their car,” Galen said, motioning to the front-most car. But I do’an’ see ‘em anywhere.”
For a moment, they all turned in different directions, their eyes searching every inch of the square and surrounding store fronts, as if some clue had been left behind for them. Not far away, lying on the pavement, Galen spotted something, and ran to retrieve it.
“Look at this!” he yelled, the other six officers jogging over as Galen got to his feet, holding something small and shiny. It was a key on a silver necklace, the clasp undone, purposely let fall on the sidewalk.
“It’s pretty,” Doris admitted, reaching out to touch it. “Whose is it?”
“Must belong to Grace or Audrey,” Andrew inferred, taking the trinket from Galen. He inspected it for a moment, passed it to Andy, and knelt to look at the ground again. From that vantage point, he could see a dark scratch across the pavement, leading away toward the church, like a new, prominent cut in the stone.
“Hey Bob,” Andrew asked slowly, getting to his feet, “You went and saw Skinner after he went to prison, right?”
“Ajwer awillinago, bu’yezem,” Bob said, nodding slowly as he thought back to the date. He’d actually been there to visit Frank, but for some reason had met with Simon first, as if the guard hadn’t understood him. He’d taken it as simple miscommunication, seeing as nearly everyone had a hard time making out his words, but this struck him as funny. Simon expected to see him, that was it…
“Did you see anyone else while you were there?” Andrew continued.
“Wait, you’re not saying-?” Owen began, shifting uncomfortably as he looked down at the sidewalk, trying to pick out whatever had clued Andrew in.
“Hatcher,” Bob said simply, his gaze following where Andrew’s had been, recognizing the cut of a cane, one Hatcher had always favored before his toe was shot off, and one that he now was forced to lean on too heavily that he was permanently injured. It was a hard, sharp tool, and they’d joked in years past it could suffice as a weapon, without knowing it secretly concealed a sword. The cut was a trail straight to the church, a giant, blinking, neon arrow.
“Fucking figured,” Andrew growled, spitting on the sidewalk for good measure.
“Fuck,” Peter growled. “Missed.”
“What the hell did we bother getting a scope for if you won’t use it?” Paul said from across the bell tower. They were parked on watch, trying to keep track of the police and civilians, having chased the latter off the street already, and hopefully taking out the former before they could find their hiding place.
“The cars are in the square,” Peter said, gazing through the scope. He could see the lights bouncing off the edifice of the pub, but he couldn’t see the actual cars. “They’re doing recon, probably. If you hadn’t misfired in here, they probably wouldn’t have a clue where the fuck we are.”
“Don’t blame me,” Paul scoffed. “You were supposed to unload after the McCully thing, remember? Leaving a fucking round in the chamber…Novice move, mate.”
“Sod off,” Peter spat.
The trap door rattled and flipped upward, Luke poking his head through. He was well-tanned and dark-eyed, with bulging muscles and a gorgeous face. He’d been a model for Abercrombie for a couple of years, before the money got bad and the drugs got good, and he went into trafficking with his brothers after that.
“What’s the word, my man?” Luke asked Paul.
“Peter’s new nickname is Dead Eye,” Paul quipped. “His eyes are dead.”
“Sod off,” Peter repeated.
“Missed your man?” Luke asked, coming over to peer across the village, the view spectacularly serene, thanks to Peter’s random gunfire.
“Twice,” Paul offered.
“Scopes are for cunts,” Peter said, letting the gun rest on its tripod as he took a step back. “How’s the old fogey and the Sweeney?”
“Talkin’,” Luke said simply. “S’his kid, y’know. I wish my dad were as good as half that, putting himself on the line and all just to see him.”
“Whatever,” Peter said grumpily, slouching against the stone wall and lighting a cigarette.
After a moment, Luke scuffed his feet and sniffled before asking, “Did you know Nick’s gay?”
“Sorry?” Paul half-laughed. “Nicholas Angel is not-”
“That man downstairs, the fat guy,” Luke cut in, looking at each of his cousins in turn, “He was talking about Nick, and I was on my way up here to see you two, because Michael told me to, because he’s a lazy fuck, but anyway, I heard him talking to Butterman about Nick, and he told his dad they were together.”
“Figures,” Peter harrumphed. “We should kill him, too, just to fuck with Nick’s head. Bastard…”
“Jealous?” Paul inferred. Turning to Luke, he explained, “Pete’s never had much luck with anything, male or female, and he knows them both fairly well. He thinks little of anyone else’s deviations in the family.”
“Sod off,” Peter said for the third time, flicking his cigarette toward Paul. “S’none of our business if Nicholas is searching for a bad time. Men are more trouble than women.”
“So you say,” Paul said teasingly. “So you say…”
“Tony, you’re crushing my brea-” Audrey started, trying to pull free as Tony pinned her to the wall, but he clapped his hand over her mouth at the last moment.
She, along with Tony, Nicholas, Grace, Simon, Derek and Robin, were hiding in an alcove at the back of the church, having slipped in through a secret passage the NWA had used for carrying out their own dirty work.
Tony put a finger to his lips, signaling her to be quiet, as Derek’s son, Mark, walked dangerously close by. In the front of the church, Danny and Frank had been spirited away into the private chambers reserved for the clergy, meaning several well-barricaded, sturdy wooden doors stood between them.
“What’re we waiting for?” Grace muttered, shouldering her way around Derek to address Nicholas. “We’ve got enough fire power-”
“We can’t fire indiscriminately,” Nicholas snapped. “They have Dan - hostages - We would be sacrificing their lives. Official guidelines dictate that-”
“Guidelines my arse,” Robin harrumphed. “Their instructions are to get whatever they’re after and leave not a man standing. We need to move before-”
The whine of a bullet and shattering of nearby rock made Audrey gasp and all of them tumble backward like puppies in a litter. There were shouts all around them, more gunfire, men’s voices bouncing madly off the high coffered ceilings in a tummult of violence.
Much to their surprise, they were not the target of the assualt; someone else had broken into the church, someone else was storming the aisle, and someone else was screaming as he ran headlong down the nave, firing madly.
“Fuck, Franky,” Nicholas hissed, pushing hard off Simon and Tony, whose collective laps he’d managed to fall into. Their hands caught him and pulled him back immediately, holding him down, Simon quickly cupping his fingers to Nicholas’s lips to stifle his protests.
“You’ll get us all killed, Nicholas,” Simon growled in his ear, releasing him tentatively, as Tony followed suit.
They crept forward, crouched and crawling, peering out from their inadequate hiding spot as the gunfire ceased.
“Nicholas,” Derek murmured as the smoke cleared, “I think it’s time you made up your mind which part of your family you’re willing to part with.”
“I already know the answer to that one,” Nicholas replied swiftly, locking eyes with his uncle. There was so much for him to say, yet no time, and Nicholas felt more cheated and angry than ever. He had a score to settle, now.