Rating: NC17 for violence, murder, gunplay, adult themes. For safety’s sake, this will apply to ALL chapters. There will be no smut in this fic. There will be references, but references only, to rape, murder, mutilation in places
Copyright © January 2007 xxxevilgrinxxx
I had only slept a few hours, but when I woke at around seven or so I felt better than I had in days. Sober, clear-headed, and calm. Holloway’s house was quiet, still, with only the sound of bird song outside. I watched them for a little while, outside, as they flitted between the bird feeders. Maybe it was a strange thing for a guy to have outside his house. Maybe.
I thought I would feel worse, somehow less of a person, when I woke up, but I didn’t. I just felt calm. Today I would stop that woman from being moved, and it would all be over. The feds would show up tomorrow or maybe the day after and mop up the rest. Whatever was left here and then across the country. The day had a sense of inevitability, it advanced no matter what I did, or what I had done the night before. It would be over.
A deep breath before I moved off the chair, to fold the blanket and drape it back over the cedar chest. The smell of coffee filled my head, making my mouth water. Holloway had moved around silently in his kitchen. He didn’t do breakfast, just coffee. Holloway lived alone here, and it made me think of Danno again, living alone.
I poured a cup of coffee and looked in the fridge for milk, before I joined Holloway out back. I had thought he was reading a newspaper but it was a series of crime files he had in his lap, thumbing through them. Crime scene photos were sifted back into a neat orderly pile and laid on a side table.
Holloway sat quietly, dressed once more in his grey disguise, and eyed me carefully. Another assessment, to see if I had cracked somewhere during the night, if I wouldn’t be able to follow through. I sipped slowly at the coffee and then answered his question. He hadn’t asked one, but that didn’t make much difference. “I’m fine, Holloway.”
A nod, a single contemplative hum of agreement, and he looked out over the canyon at the back of his house again. “This place is going to be crawling with feds in a day or so.”
Another question. “Not my case.” I could elaborate but it wasn’t necessary. Neither of us had our names on this case anywhere, and the feds wouldn’t be knocking on our doors over what happened. Neither one of us would leave it that way, we couldn’t, it wasn’t the way we were made. “It couldn’t hurt to leave a few breadcrumbs around, just being FBI doesn’t mean they’re all that smart.”
Holloway crooked a grin at me, and we shared a look, that disdain for the way civilians did things. I was DEA, and Holloway was a detective and had been something else before that. We didn’t think like civilians.
Everything seemed clear in a way it hadn’t for days. I didn’t know if it was just the lack of alcohol, or something else, some purpose. Holloway finished the last of his coffee and rose to go back into the house. “Afterwards, lay low for a while, Alvarez. The feds will only bother if you’re a squeaky wheel.”
I nodded and finished the rest of my coffee in one pull, the heat of it slamming into my empty stomach and waking me up fully. Stand up, stretch, wipe my hand over my unshaven face. “I’m still on vacation, as far as anyone knows. I’m not looking to get famous.”
Holloway looked at me shrewdly and reached to take the cup from me. “Good. The guys up in the lights can’t see shit. I’ll be around Alvarez.” And like that, he was gone again.
I drove back to Danno’s, it felt strange to think of it as going ‘home’ but that’s how it felt. Another crazy album and a shower later and I stood before Danno’s closet again. Self-conscious, I had avoided the bright shirts, opting for muted colours that I thought I could pull off. Almost did it again, but stopped. Instead I thought of something I used to say to him, about getting dressed in the dark. I closed my eyes, reached into the closet, and pulled out a deep blue shirt with bright tropical fish all over it. Dressed in the dark. It didn’t bother me as much as it might have once.
I packed an extra shirt, one even more spectacular than the one I had on, and a pair of chinos, and got started on the list of things I had to do that day.
I called Adriana, on the payphone at the end of the street, to tell her that she could come home tomorrow, maybe around dinnertime. A bunch of kids passed me, giving me funny looks as I held the phone a short distance from my ear, the flood of hot-blooded rapid-fire Spanglish enough to blister paint. The most wonderful sound in the world.
I could have listened to it all day, but I had plans, things were coming to an end, and I had things that needed doing. That burned to be done. Cross town, to the morgue, to talk to Peters. I’d been here countless times before but not for this. I handed Peters the coffee I had stopped for and made small talk, uneasy, as I looked across the room at the coolers where I knew Danno and Anna Maria lay side by side. I couldn’t put it off any longer, and told Peters he could release Danno’s body. I left the spare shirt and chino’s so that the funeral home would have something to bury him in.
Douglas was a little surprised to see me, when I showed up at the DEA office; he was even more surprised to see how I was dressed. Gave me a hard look, like a psych evaluation might be in my near future, but I didn’t give a damn about that right now. Sure, I could have called Danno’s parents from a payphone, but it would have been wrong.
Douglas ushered me into his office when I explained. Even offered to make the call himself for me but I couldn’t do that either. I had never had to do anything like that before and I fought choking the whole way. Douglas brought me a cup of coffee and left me alone in his office for a couple of minutes to pull myself together.
I felt hollow again, but it wasn’t bad this time, it wasn’t like last night. It just felt like a hard wind had scoured everything out. I finished my coffee and listened to the sound of the secretaries typing for a few minutes, staring out across the Mexican border.
The day flew by mercilessly. It was already past noon and I still hadn’t eaten. I made small talk with Douglas as I left. I would be back at work in a couple of days. He said everything would be back to normal in a couple of days but I didn’t believe him. I smiled anyway, I had heard psych evaluations were a real bitch and I wasn’t looking forward to it.
I could have gone anywhere for something to eat, there were tons of really great places nearby but there was only one place for me to go. “You look more like that crazy little bastard every day, Ramon.” Hernandez handed me a plate with some sort of a grilled sandwich, a few fries, and headed back out towards the alley. It was raining hard, so we sat just inside, the milk crates pulled in by the door. “It looks better than those suits. You looked like some sort of a damned banker in those.”
“A little style, Hernandez.” A crazy grin that no one would ever understand. A little style. The one crazy fucking kid that would have got it was dead now, gone. Not forgotten though. I spoke around a mouthful of sandwich. “I was thinking I might stick with it.” The clothes were comfortable, sure, but that wasn’t the reason. Hernandez knew it too; he just smiled at me, and said nothing.
“What’s your plan tonight, Hernandez?”
That hard look again. Closed off, but not in any way that yelled a lack of trust, this was something else. Hernandez leaned forward and looked me right in the eyes. “That’s for Holloway and me to worry about, Ramon. This doesn’t touch you; some shit you’re better off not knowing. Just get that girl out.” He sat back and we talked about anything else except what was right in the middle. Learned my sandwich was something called a panini; the diner was trying something new.
When I left, Hernandez had said that Marcus would be watching my back, but that I wouldn’t see him, and he’d tip them off when the job was done.
Everything done. Almost everything. I picked up a couple of boxes at the liquor store. A lot of Danno’s stuff was still in boxes anyway. I didn’t worry about the furniture. The super started giving me shit when I gave notice. He quieted down to muttered bitching when I told him his tenant, a DEA agent, was dead, and that I might send a government lawyer or two to hound his ass if he gave me any more grief.
Danno had a few more things than Anna Maria did, but it still looked like nothing when it was all boxed up like that. I wasn’t sure what to do with it, so I left it in the living room, put on an album I had left unpacked and went back to the bedroom to lay down for a little while. To wait.
When I woke it was already dark, almost 9 o’clock, and I made my way down to the South Pacific, which is where this story began.