by CN Winters
See Part One for disclaimers. Write the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sara drove up to a line for the customs booth as Denise woke up.
"Where are we?" Denise asked trying to open her eyes.
"We just left Windsor," Sara replied. "Another 15 minutes and well be at the station house."
"Are we at the bridge or the tunnel?" Denise asked rubbing her eyes, looking around.
"I took the bridge," Sara answered.
"Switch places," Denise instructed as they came to a stop. Sara put the car in park and got out to take the passenger seat.
"What time is it?" Denise asked as both women re-buckled their belts.
"8:30 pm. We made good time," Sara said with a wink.
"Should I issue you a speeding citation Miss Langforth," Denise teased.
"Youre out of your jurisdiction Lt. Van Cook," Sara countered playfully.
"Point taken," Denise grinned.
They went through customs with no problem as Denise flashed her badge and they headed
to the stationhouse. When Denise drove past the front of the precinct,
Sara asked where they were heading.
"Im going to park around back," Denise explained. "There will be a lot less traffic this time of night."
At least thats what she thought. When they rode up they saw a big commotion. Film crews were all over the place and Denise knew whatever happened wasnt good.
"Whats going on?" Sara asked.
"I dont know," Denise answered. Sara could sense Denises nervousness and she reached out to touch Saras arm. "Just stay close to me okay?" she added.
Sara gave a nod and after they exited she took Denises hand as they walked up to the stationhouse. Denise saw the uniformed officers trying to control the news hounds. Police tape was all over the place. Denise led Sara through the tide of humans. She paused to clip her badge on her the lapel of her blouse. As they approached toward the steps thats when she saw the chalk outline. Denise looked at Sara with intense fear.
"Angie!" Denise yelled as she ran up the steps pulling Sara along with her. She moved at breakneck speed, dodging people in her intense search. "Angie!" she yelled again this time coming out more like a cry than a call of attention.
Denise grabbed a nearby uniformed officer. "Have you seen Sgt. Michaels?" she asked as her eyes scanned around.
"Sgt. Michaels!" Denise replied frustrated.
"I just arrived from the 22nd," he answered, giving her his precinct info. Denise didnt give a damn where the man was from. She wanted to know where her partner was.
Knowing the man would be no use to her she pushed him away and kept up her search. Denise tried to find a familiar face to discover what had happen but she couldnt see anyone.
"Do you see her?" Denise asked Sara.
Sara turned her head all around. "No . . . but Im sure shes okay."
"Angie!" Denise yelled again as she stood still in the center of the room. She couldnt shake the growing, sinking feeling that was overtaking her soul. Then she felt a hand on her shoulder. She looked back.
"Oh god!" Denise wept. "What happened?!"
"It was Brenner," Angie sighed. Denise could feel the anguish in her partner. "He killed himself in the parking lot after I exposed him."
"Brenner?!" Denise said. "I saw the outline and I thought it was you. Thank God youre all right."
Denise and Angie shared a tight embrace. Never in their partnership did Denise have the feeling of Angie being ripped from her life. She felt herself begin to shake as her nerves began to release all at once.
"Lets get outta this commotion," Angie said tugging Denise along. They all proceeded to an examination room on the second level. Once away from the upheaval Angie told Denise about the camera and Capt. Genar discovering her. But soon the conversation came back to Brenner.
"I cant believe it was him," Denise began. "Ive known him for years. I cant see how he could do it."
"Yeah I know," Angie agreed. "You two went through the academy together. But it looks like he had a price. . . And he was bought."
"I always thought of him as a friend," Denise said rubbing her eyes.
"We all did. Everyone here is in shock right now. Theres going to be an investigation by internal affairs. In fact they already came in to talk to me and Genar."
"Genar? What did he have to say about all this?"
"He backed me up Denise," Angie grinned. "He saw everything that happened and he says Ill be cleared of any wrong doing."
"How can they hold you responsible for suicide?" Sara asked.
"They could say that she pushed him into the act," Denise explained. "Therefore, bringing her up on charges of willful neglect of duty or some kind of crap like that."
"Right," Angie agreed. "But Genar saw how I tried coaxing him to calm down. And Genar even told me in his statement to the investigators that my behavior was above and beyond what could be expected. . . I never even drew my gun on him Denise." The room grew quite until Angie spoke again. "So tell me your story. Why are you four hours late? More trouble?"
"You could say that?" Denise sighed.
"She almost got pitched over Niagara Falls," Sara explained. "I dont see how she can be so casual about it," she added, pitching a disapproving look.
"All in a days work," Denise said. "Sometimes you eat donuts while you type reports. Sometimes you get thrown into the Niagara River. It happens."
Angie sat slack-jawed. "You mean you were found again? Looks like Brenner got to make one last phone call. Probably while I was seeing the judge Id guess."
"Thats what I assumed too," Denise replied. "But hopefully things will be quiet now."
"Are you tired?" Angie asked.
"Yes," Denise wearily admitted. "Are you finished here?"
"Yeah, theres nothing more I can do here tonight."
"Well lets go to my place. Well sleep in shifts. And since I just woke up You can sleep first," Denise told Angie.
"Wait a second," Sara interrupted. "Ive slept more than both of you. Ill stay awake and if anything happens I can wake you."
Denise and Angie looked at each other. "Okay," they agreed in harmony before cracking small grins.
They all rose from the table to make their way home but Angie stopped Denise, pulling her into another hug.
"Im thankful youre home," she said, as they embraced.
Denise swallowed down her tears. "Im thankful youre safe," she replied.
"Okay," said the young district attorney. "Lets go over it one more time."
Sara and Denise groaned. "If we keep this up, her testimony is going to sound so stale tomorrow no one will believe it," Denise replied.
"I just dont want any surprises on the stand," the prosecutor said, "Now tell me what happened the day of Sept. 24 of this year."
The three of them sat in a small office as Sara explained, one more time, all the incidents that had taken place since the murder. Well, not all the incidents. Mentioning that she and Denise became lovers would be extremely detrimental when trying for a conviction.
After Sara finished for the third time the prosecutor smiled confidently. "Youve gotta wonderful witness," he complimented to Denise. "But I do see one thing."
"What?" Sara asked.
"Make sure you address Denise as Lt. Van Cook or the lieutenant. I know you two must be close after everything. I dont want the defense to use it against us to sway the jury. Okay?"
"Strictly business then?" Sara suggested.
"Exactly," he replied. "The facts in this case are irrefutable and I want to keep your testimony factual and as impersonal as possible. When you call the lieutenant by her first name it just seems too personal. Do you think you could handle that?" he asked Sara.
"Yes," Sara replied. "Same applies to you too Lt. VanCook. Its Miss Langforth, not Sara."
Denise nodded in agreement.
"Now," the prosecutor smiled. "Lets go over it one more time." Denise and Sara looked at him as if he had lost his mind. "Just kidding," he teased. "Youve done a wonderful job. Just go home and relax and Ill see you both bright and early in the courtroom tomorrow."
"Thank God," Denise sighed in relief.
"Thank you lieutenant. Its cases like these that make my life a little easier. Youve done a wonderful job."
"I only hope I can say the same thing about you after tomorrow. DeVittem is slick one," she replied.
"Your case is safe in my capable hands," he said, kissing the back of Denises hand before bowing. "And you Miss Langforth," he continued taking Saras hand, "just relax tomorrow and tell your story. Okay?"
"Yes sir," she answered respectfully.
Denise and the attorney thanked each other once more and she and Sara left. The air was cold, even for December and they hurried to the car. Denise and Sara entered the neighborhood where the shooting took place and Denise sensed Saras discomfort.
"Are you okay?" Denise asked as she drove along.
"Yeah . . . Just remembering," Sara replied.
"Well, youre going to be okay. I can tell."
Denise and Sara shared a smile until the car was jarred from behind.
"What the hell?" Denise said looking in the rear view mirror. The car behind them sped up, smashing the bumper again. Denise tried to control the car even though she was beginning to slide to one side, veering wildly. The car took the opportunity and struck again, sending the police unit crashing against a vacant building. Sara watched as Denises head slammed into the side window.
"Denise!" Sara screamed as the car skidded to a stop.
But Denise didnt respond. She lay limp at the wheel.
"Denise! Please wake up!" Sara exclaimed distraught. She didnt want to move or shake her, being unsure of her injury. "Denise!"
Sara looked out her window to see a man begin to raise a gun toward her. With as much force as she could muster she opened the door and kicked it with all her might. She knew she couldnt fight the man hand to hand. Shed lose for sure. She knew her only option was to run and pray that the man took off after her, leaving Denise unharmed. She heard the man still groaning in pain as her feet took off.
But seconds later, as she ran she felt the man closing in on her. She felt her legs halt suddenly and felt the weight of the man upon her. She rolled away and felt her back come to the wall. The man stood up to tower over Sara.
"You dont really want to do this," Sara told him.
"Yes I do," he sneered as he raised his gun.
Sara took one last look at the car and closed her eyes. She silently pleaded in her mind for Denises life. "Please lord, keep her safe." She heard the hammer of the gun set and she waited for the impact.
But the impact didnt come. Instead she heard a large thud that forced her eyes open.
"Son of a-." the attacker howled as he spun around.
Sara leaned to the side to see what startled the thug. It was Rick, the homeless man, holding a crow bar.
"No ones gonna hurt my angel," he said defiantly.
Sara scrambled to her feet and knocked the thugs arm up as he tried to take a shot at Rick. Rick for his part took another swing, knocking the gun from the thugs hand. Rage didnt begin to describe the look on the mans face. That look however turned to one of fear as car rounded the other side of the ally screeching to a stop. The rear doors of the vehicles opened and a man stepped out from each side. Within three seconds, two shots were fired and the man fell lifeless to the ground between Sara and Rick. Sara and Rick both jumped back unsure if they were next on the hit list. But just as quickly as the car arrived it disappeared. Sara and Rick both looked at each other unsure of what just happened.
But Sara didnt want dwell on it too long. She needed help for Denise and she needed it fast. She ran to the radio with Rick following protectively behind her, crowbar in hand looking all around them. "Is anyone there?" Sara called into the microphone. There was no response. "Is anyone there?" she repeated more frantically.
"Who is this?" a voice said from the box.
"My name is Sara Langforth," she replied. She continued and explained the situation, giving them their location. Denise was still unconscious as the emergency teams showed up three minutes later.
As they loaded Denise, Sara turned to Rick. "We didnt see who was in that car did we Rick? We didnt see who shot this man right? We cant even remember the color of the car correct?" Sara prodded. No one deserved to lead the life shed been forced into least of all Rick.
"Whatever you think is best," he told her.
"Trust me. It is. The less you saw the better," she said putting her hand on his shoulder. "Thank you for being there," she added.
"My pleasure angel," he grinned.
"Id stay Rick but . . ."
"I know," he said pointing to the ambulance. "Go with her."
Sara grinned and gave a firm nod as she climbed into the back. "Can you call Sgt. Michaels at the 14th ? Have her meet us at the hospital?" Sara asked them.
"Shes on her way now maam," the driver answered.
Sara gave a nod and in a few moments they were pulling up to the hospital. Sara walked along side Denises gurney, waiting for some sign that she would be okay. Angie was in the waiting area when she saw them come in and she rushed over.
"Are you okay?" Angie asked Sara as she watch them wheel her partner away.
"Im okay," Sara said giving a small shake of her head.
"Hows Denise doing?"
"Im not sure. She hasnt woken up but shes breathing," Sara said.
"Well lets go over here," Angie said heading back to the waiting room. "You can fill me in."
Angie and Sara sat nervously in the empty waiting room after Sara had finished her details of that afternoon. Angie couldnt help noticing, Saras intense worry over Denise. She had to ask . . .
"Youre really upset about Denise, arent you?"
Sara studied Angies expression. The sergeant was fishing for information. Angie for her part could tell Sara was considering her answer. "Its okay," Angie said comfortingly. "You can tell me . . . you love her dont you?"
Sara didnt break her eye contact. "Denise and I have been through a lot," Sara replied.
"You didnt answer my question," Angie urged gently. "Do you love her?"
Sara was unsure how much of her soul to bare but in the process of hiding her emotions, she was completely exposed. Confession was the best solution. Sara had witnessed Denise and Angies first reactions upon seeing each other the night of the suicide. She knew any initial anger Angie might feel as a result of her love affair with Denise would pass.
"Yes, I do," Sara admitted. "Very much."
Although Angie didnt need an answer, she asked the question anyway.
"Are you lovers?"
Sara looked offended and replied, "Thats a bit personal dont you think?" Angies silent pursuit for the truth showed in her eyes without saying a single word. She was relentless. "Yes," Sara finally answered, before standing up and walking to the observation window toward the ER
Angie shook her head back and forth. "I knew it," she said disgusted.
Sara turned around swiftly, making Angie look directly at the blonde across the small room.
"Denise didnt want to tell you! Besides its over. On the way back she told me she didnt see a relationship in our future. Some garbage about dangerous situations and hormones. Point is, she doesnt think I truly love her . . . And shes truly wrong . . . But then again, maybe shes the one whos not in love. Maybe its her way of letting me down easy."
Angie watched Sara look out the window again, toward the area where Denise was being worked on. Angie stood up and walked over behind Sara. The woman was obviously in pain and Angies heart went out to her.
"I dont know about that," Angie replied. "Ive never seen Denise as happy as when youre around. I saw it the first afternoon we spent together . . . and I still see it today."
"Then whats the problem?" Sara asked, dragging out each word, aching for an answer. "And dont give me any crap about ethics and cop oaths and so on. Ive heard lots of that too."
Shes certainly a spitfire Angie thought with a grin. A perfect match for Denise if I do say so myself.
"I cant read her thoughts," Angie answered. "I only see her emotions."
Sara sniffed and wiped back some tears before they spilled. She felt Angie put an arm around her, giving her a light hug. "Shes been searching years for the right person," Angie explained. "Perhaps shes frightened by the fact she finally found her."
"But why would that scare her?" Sara asked. "She should be happy. Hell I know I am. At least I was," Sara corrected herself.
"Well," Angie began, "in the ten years Ive known Denise Ive watched her drift in and out of relationships. With each one that came along I hoped shed find the happiness everyone hopes for. But she never did and she never discussed why. Shed simply say it was over and it didnt matter why. . . And shes said that many times. Maybe too many times . . . Maybe she cant handle another person she loves walking out of her life. Maybe she wants to be the one to walk away, before she gets hurt."
Sara considered Angies words in silence for a moment. "Please dont tell her I told you," Sara begged.
"I wont say anything," Angie agreed with a grin.
Sara nodded her thanks as a nurse came in. "Denise VanCook?" she called out. Sara and Angie both moved over quickly to her through the vacant waiting room.
"Shes fine," the nurse began. Angie and Sara both sighed in relief and smiled at each other. "Shes got a big knot on her head and a light concussion but shes conscious now."
"Can we see her?" Angie asked.
"Yes," the nurse replied. "but keep it brief please. We gave her a sedative for the pain so shes a bit tired."
"Thats understandable," Sara added. Of course it wasnt just the drugs that had Denise tired she was sure. The last few weeks were more than anyone could take both physically and mentally.
The nurse took them to the area where Denise was laying and motioned around a linen divider. "Please dont stay too long," she whispered in reminder.
Angie and Sara crept silently to Denises bedside. Denises eyes were half closed but she smiled when she saw them.
"How ya feelin?" Angie asked.
"Like someone drove me into the side of a building," Denise joked, cracking a grin. "What happened?"
"Well," Sara began, "one of DeVittems thugs ran us off the road in a last dig effort to knock off your witness. When I ran to draw him away from you a homeless man came to my aid its good to have friends in low places."
"Is he alright? Your friend?" Denise answered.
"Yeah, hes okay," Sara answered. Sara looked to Angie. She wasnt sure if she should fill in the blanks to Denise. Angie gave her nod so she could continue.
"Then what happened?"
"Well, it seems I must have a guardian angel someplace because a car came out of nowhere and killed DeVittems man."
"What did it look like? The car I mean," Denise asked, willing her eyes to open wider to focus more on the story.
"I dont remember," Sara replied swallowing hard.
Denise looked to Sara and grinned. "You dont remember? You? Miss Keen Observer of Detail?"
"It was sleek, sporty . . . Silver I think. Maybe a light copper color. One of those expensive type cars but Im not sure what kind."
"This from the gal that drives a BMW," Denise said to Angie before turning back to Sara. "Why are you lying?" she asked the blonde. Denise felt a rage growing inside her not so much with Sara but with the situation as she began to piece together what had transpired. Sara looked down guiltily, unable to meet Denises scrutinizing eyes. Sensing how uncomfortable she was making Sara, Denise relented. "Youre okay right? Your friends okay? Thats all that matters I guess," Denise answered.
Sara looked up to see Denise. "Yes Im okay . . . And youre gonna be okay too," Sara said beginning to whimper. She felt like Denise had lost respect for her since she didnt want to give her all the answers. But she couldnt. She just couldnt go through it all again.
Denise sensed the emotional overload the woman was suffering from and she wanted to calm her. "Sara look at me," Denise said. Gingerly Sara raised her eyes. "Cmere," she motioned with her head. Sara worked her way to the head of the bed. Denise reached out and stroked Saras cheek. "Thank you," she said sincerely. "Youve done all the right things today. Im alive because you made all the right moves. So dont worry about anything else. Alright?"
That did it. Sara lost her reserve and began to cry openly. Denise wiped her tears away gently as Sara nodded.
"Promise me you wont beat yourself up over what happened today. Okay?" Denise added with a grin, hoping Sara would return the gesture. Denise was grateful when she saw a small smile pull at the corners of Saras face. "Good girl," she chuckled. Denise cleared her throat and raised her bed with the remote control.
"Youre supposed to be resting," Angie chastised. "That nurse is gonna have our butts tossed outta here."
"Shes little," Denise teased. "I could take her," she winked, before giving a chuckle. Denise turned to Sara, "Do you mind if I have a word with Sgt. Michaels in private Sara? Just a few minutes."
"Sure no problem," Sara answered.
"Be back in exactly two minutes," Denise said looking at her watch. "If youre not back Im getting out of this bed to find you. Got it?"
Sara knew although there was merriment in her voice, Denise was also dead serious. "Yes lieutenant," she nodded with a grin as she walked out.
Once out of earshot Denise turned to Angie. "So the bad guys managed to do something I couldnt keep Sara safe huh?"
Angie shook her head fiercely. "Now dont even go there Denise. I didnt see any of them getting pitched off the falls without a barrel. Dont you dare lay there and start to belittle all the work youve done protecting Sara. I wont hear it. We both know thats not true."
"A silver or copper sporty rich car .Its Sarchcos men. They protected Sara because shell put DeVittem away and pave the way for them. With DeVittem out of the picture guess who moves up to the top spot?" Denise began to chuckle at the sad irony of it all. "What do I do now? Go after the men that saved Sara?"
"Yes," Angie answered. "As . . . hypocritical as that sounds . . . yes thats exactly what WE do. Because they break the laws that govern this society. Thats what we do we uphold the law."
Denise didnt answer. Her head just fell back into the pillow. "Well, at least I know Sara will never have to worry again about DeVittem after the trial. I think shell have a guardian angel for sometime thanks to Sarchco."
Two minutes had passed and Angie watched Sara reentering.
"Should I make myself scarce again?" she asked as she crept in slowly.
"No," Denise called out. She couldnt see Sara but she could hear her approach.
"Watch your ass," Denise warned Angie, "They may still be crazy enough to make another attempt before tomorrow."
"We will," Angie replied. "And make sure you follow nurses orders we need you at the trial tomorrow - so do everything they tell you."
Denise nodded silently.
"I mean it Denise," Angie said taking a demanding mother tone with her partner. "I know how you get."
Denise chuckled. "I need a new partner," she quipped. "You know me too damn well and I cant get away with anything anymore."
Angie chuckled. "Sorry babe but youre stuck with me. Took me 10 years to train you and I sure as hell aint gonna start all over again at my age," she winked. "Get some rest," she said sincerely. "Ill be outside Sara," she added to the blonde.
Sara and Denise watched Angie leave before they looked at each other.
"Its almost over," Denise said softly. The multiple meanings of the phrase almost made Sara weep but she wanted to stay strong in front of Denise. After all the risk Denise took it was the least she could do.
"Yes it is," Sara agreed in her clear, intelligible voice Denise had grown to love. It was just one of the things that had Denise smitten over the blonde. Soon they would all be gone. "Like Angie said, get some rest," Sara added before patting Denises hand and walking out to Angie. "Tomorrow will be a busy day."
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