'Cause there ain't no heroes...
Chapter 21: "'Cause there ain't no heroes... "
"I don't like this."
"Yeah, we gathered that, Colby," Frank Giambione shot the big black detective an exasperated look. "Five repetitions ago."
"Yeah?" Colby Burns crossed his arms and glared at O'Brien's partner and second in command. "Maybe you need five more, baby, so it sinks in." Sitting next to his partner, Detective Carson gave a snort that had not the slightest shred of disagreement in it.
Lieutenant Hogan and O'Brien exchanged looks, shaking their heads slightly. Time to either head this off or defuse it before Burns set off Frank's volatile temper and things ignited to blows. Nikki was already not thrilled with Major Cases taking over the private room at Rimbault's during prime business hours. She'd really be pissed if Frank and the burly black detective trashed it.
Would be an interesting fight though... Hogan hid a small grin. Not the time for that.
O'Brien smirked, knowing exactly what was running through his old partner and best friend's head. He caught Colby's eye and locked it, "What's the problem, Colby?"
"The problem is you and Giambione here placing all of Major Cases' resources at the disposal of a nineteen year old ex-con who's got both of you convinced that she's a cross between Supergirl and Van Helsing," Burns stated, flat. He gestured at the table they were sitting around and the assortment of firearms and vests clumped in the middle, including the confiscated - and not reported - Hk MP5's from the blood factory. "She got you going out farther over the edge than you two ever have before, and you and Jambone here have gone pretty damned far in the past sometimes."
Carson nodded, "And we stand a pretty good chance of having it drag all of Major Crimes division down with us if it blows up in your face, Obie."
O'Brien looked at both of them evenly for a moment, then at the rest of the squad. Christine was being uncharacteristically quiet, even for her. Stevie was frowning, looking between O'Brien and the other two detectives. Giambione was looking daggers at Burns, still. Good thing they'd gathered up a few hours early to hash things out - all they really needed right now was for LeHane and her people to stroll in about now to drop a match in.
No. All they really
needed was Tom Kirkwood making acerbic remarks to set the whole thing off. Thank gods O'Brien had been able to convince the reporter that he was better off hearing about the next few days business privately over a tall bottle of Irish Whiskey than watching it up close and personal...
Kevin O'Brien nodded, and reached onto the table and picked up one of the MP5 clips, thumbing one of the cartridges out and flipping it to the big detective. Colby caught it, frowning and turning it over between his fingers.
"A nineteen year old ex-con who happens to know more about the kind of things we've been encountering here than we've discovered in the past five to ten years, Colby," he said. "Or have you forgotten watching a moving corpse with no pulse bursting into flaming ash a few days ago?" O'Brien gave him a long look. "Consider it bringing in a team of outside experts. Not like that's something we haven't done before on cases."
"Not like this, O'Brien," Detective Carson put in smoothly, before his partner could respond. "This isn't just an 'outside consultant' for you. You and Frank have gotten personally involved here." Burns nodded.
"He's right, Obie," Hogan cut in softly. "It's kinda hard to miss that you're not treating LeHane as just a resource." O'Brien gave him an 'Eh tu?' look that he ignored. "I suspect that's got Burns and Carson here a bit concerned that your judgment's being affected."
"Got that right," Burns made a snorting sound. He held up a hand, palm out in a placating gesture. "Stand easy, Obie. If it was just
that, I wouldn't be sitting here driving Frank's blood pressure up." He gave Giambione an amused look, "Ok, so I would. But not quite as bad. We all get personally involved at times - goes with The Job." He gave O'Brien a hard look, and took the one the older detective sent back without flinching. "You seen the kind of heat that's come down from upstairs on that warehouse, man? And that restaurant fight slash murder scene? In twenty five years in Major Crimes, I've never
seen the brass so determined to pave something over and pretend it doesn't exist."
"And we've handled a lot of things that don't exist," Carson nodded. "I get the feeling we're in way over our heads here, and if we're not careful, we're going to get paved over as well."
"I found an unmarked parked up the street from my building when I went home yesterday," Stevie remarked unexpectedly. "They drove off when I continued on and drove past them to check them out." Hogan looked at her sharply.
"Me too." Giambione said, nodding.
"Yours drive off also, Frank?" Hogan turned the sharp, concerned look on him.
"Not quite," Frank shook his head, grinning. "Mine drove off when I walked up and tapped on the passenger window with my revolver and asked for some ID." He shrugged, "Guess they didn't see me come up."
"Damned cowboy," O'Brien muttered. Giambione gave him an unrepentant look.
"See what I mean? If we take LeHane's evaluation of that warehouse scene at face value, then we know that the.. people... involved with that blood factory scene have their own people in the police department and political circles," Carson stated. "We're seven clean cops that we know we can be sure of. We can't fight the entire Philly PD, the Mayor's Office, City Hall, and for all we know, the media just by ourselves."
"Yeah. We know for a fact that the Eagle and the Gazette both sideline reporters that look to close at certain stories," Burns added. "It be why Tommy has a middle section low profile column after all his years and still lives in a crap South Philly apartment." He considered for a moment, "And if even a breath gets back to Internal Affairs on all the evidence from this and the Winchester assault that didn't go into the Evidence Room and they start looking hard at the past ten years, they'll hang us after they pave us over."
"Naw." Frank shook his head, "Whoever's pulling strings up top doesn't want any of this investigated. They'll just have us shot and disappeared."
"Oh. Yeah. That I can deal with," Burns smirked at him. "At least my pension'll be secure." He gave O'Brien a hard look again, "Like I said, man. When I thought you just using the girl to get the Job done, I didn't like it, but I understood it. Sucks, but we all big boys and girls and that's the way the world works. You like the girl and you see something worthwhile there, hey - that's ok too. We all get personally involved and it ain't the first time a cops picked up surrogate family when they don't have one. Sometimes it even works." He shook his head, "But this... this is different. It's not just personal involvement and it's not just Obie being the icy calculating son of a bitch we all love to hate because he gets the Job done. It something else, baby."
"So what are you saying, Colby?" Frank gave him an honestly curious look.
Colby Burns leaned back, giving Giambione a thoughtful look, "Saying that O'Brien's walking us all out on the thin edge on a dream, babe. We in deep, been in deep, and he don't see no way out except for it getting so deep it chews us up and spits us out. You either." Giambione nodded, not arguing the point. "So along comes LeHane, and he's latched on to her as a way out. Not just a surrogate daughter he never had, or a tool... Something special, and she is that - anyone can see it. But this thing is big, and nasty, and she ain't that special. She almost died going up against our blonde freak; would've died if it weren't for you and Obie. It's going to chew her up, man... and when it does, it's going to chew all of us up with her. 'Cause there ain't no heroes and this isn't some action movie where the lone gun comes in and cleans up the town and everyone walks away."
"LeHane isn't a hero, Colby," O'Brien said, softly.
"Right. What I just said, hey?" Burns nodded. "She just a girl who can throw a hundred and forty pound woman fifteen feet and leave an impact crater in the side of a car. But she isn't bulletproof."
O'Brien nodded. "So what, Colby, Fred? You think we should just send LeHane and the Winchesters on their way and let it go?" O'Brien shook his head. "We do that, and we may as well find jobs out in some Sheriff's department out in Montana and relax as best we can. Flush this city the rest of the way down the toilet, because we're going to be giving it over to the type of things that run that blood milking operation." His voice went soft, "And to the bent cops and politicians that let it go on."
Burns and Carson looked away, neither of them liking the idea with it stated flat out like that.
O'Brien made a helpless gesture, "If you two want out, and Stevie... head back to the squad room and bury yourself in regular cases. No harm, no foul. Frank and I'll follow up on all this and take the heat for it."
"No." Christine's low voice grabbed everyone's attention. She gave O'Brien, and then Hogan direct looks. "We don't ignore this and go on our way. Not knowing that somewhere out there homeless people and runaways are being taken off the streets, having their brains deadened, and wrapped in plastic to be milked like cattle." Stevie Brody nodded. Somewhere along the line in all of the argument, it had gotten lost that the ID on the people taken out of that warehouse all came back as homeless, runaways, missing persons, and derelicts and street kids. People that no one cares about, even without the other angles, because it's inconvenient for the politicians pretending to run the show to acknowledge they exist. Good that Chris had brought it back in.
"I agree with Chris," she said. "Having someone watching my place and knowing they probably have a tattoo like those dead cops at that warehouse pisses me off more than it scares me."
"You know that following through means we going to end up at war with probably half the PD and political establishment?" Colby gave her a long look. "No way that operation went down without someone high up greasing the wheels for it, baby."
"Way I see it, we're already at war. We just didn't have a face to put on the enemy before," Brody grinned at him. "Baby." Burns snorted.
"Or anyone who knew what they were and how to deal with them," Giambione added. "Even if she is a juvenile ex-con biker superhero babe."
"So, what's it going to be, Colby? Carson?" O'Brien crossed his arms and leaned back, watching. "Believe me: none of us are going to think less of you two if you walk. If I wasn't already committed, I'd give it some serious thought."
"Walk hell," Giambione snorted. "I'd run like a motherfucker." He grinned, "Assuming I could figure out a place to run to where there's no possibility of things that go bump."
"Is that," Colby snorted, turning that odd 10mm round over and over between his fingertips. "What the fuck, baby. You only get dead once. I'm in." His mind went back to that warehouse, "Ok, maybe you get dead twice in this one."
committed is the problem, Kevin. You should
be. And you - you're
insane, too," Carson stated, looking at his partner. "What the hell. I always wanted to die horribly and in great pain, just the six of us."
"Seven," Hogan said in a cold voice. Carson nodded, acknowledging the correction.
"Not just the six of you," said a low voice from the entrance to the back room. "I brought friends.".................................................................................
O'Brien wondered for a minute if he hadn't horribly miscalculated somewhere along the line. The small woman standing in the doorway of Nikki's secondary banquet room bore just about as much resemblance to the Faith LeHane he'd carefully gotten to know over the past week as a lioness does to a house cat. The banquet room was pretty good sized, large enough to hold a party of twenty people when needed. Plenty big enough for for all of Major Cases, plus Tom Kirkwood and Hogan to relax in with room to spare. There should have been enough room for LeHane and the five men standing beside and behind her to flow in without crowding.
There suddenly wasn't. LeHane alone filled the place up just standing relaxed inside the doorway, head slightly cocked and thumbs tucked casually behind the big gunbelt.
This wasn't the cool and slightly antagonistic young woman that he and Frank had interviewed in the hallway outside of ICU the night the Winchesters were attacked.
This wasn't the girl who'd burst into tears over a birthday cake and then sat talking uncomfortably with him afterwards.
This wasn't the cocky, laughing eyed, and vulnerable young woman who'd joked with him over dinner and later in her hospital room while she was recovering.
It wasn't even the savage combat machine she'd turned into briefly in the restaurant parking lot for several minutes when the blonde came after them, or the cool, remote professional who'd swallowed hard and then gone over that warehouse like a veteran cop...
This was something different. This was the predator that he and Frank had glimpsed briefly the first time, and that he'd seen again in the hospital's physical therapy wing casually hoisting an entire rack of weights one handed. Something lazy and ancient and deadly wearing LeHane's body the way she was wearing those leathers like a second skin. Powerful, bonelessly relaxed, remote, and amused; with a presence that made the room and damned near everyone else in it feel suddenly smaller.
Then she casually pulled off the shades, hung them from the front of her top, and met his eyes with a pair of laughing dark ones and winked. Letting him know that he was wrong - the predator wasn't wearing her, she was wearing it, and all of the things he'd seen before were still in there. This was just a different aspect come to the surface to play. To hunt.
O'Brien nodded and winked back, carefully, and turned his attention to the others with her.
The big black guy drew the eye the same way LeHane did. A blind man could tell he was cut from the same bolt of cloth - pure predator, the male version of LeHane. Just standing there he radiated 'Dangerous, don't fuck with' in a way that would have any sane cop approaching him very carefully and calling for backup first. Backup with a SWAT team. O'Brien could feel the hackles going up on every cop in the room, including his, and the hell of the thing was it was no more of a conscious effort on the black guy's part than it was on LeHane's. Just a natural extension of the man's self.
The other man on LeHane's right was the same. Only slightly taller than LeHane, but he radiated both 'dangerous' and a sort of a vibrating hyperactive energy that made you want to nail both of his feet to the floor and then slap him just to make him hold still. White, with a short beard, wiry hair and intense eyes, he was wearing a reinforced looking body suit with a name tag over the left that had 'Fuck You' and a smiley face scrawled on it and more hardware than someone his size should have been able to carry. The cocky, arrogant smirk made you want to haul off and shoot him, just on general principles. He set down a huge leather dufflebag by his feet with a clinking sound and crossed his arms over his chest, giving the cops a bemused look that practically screamed that he had thirty smartass remarks inside he was biting back.
The black, shaved headed lawyer, Gunn, should have looked ridiculous wearing an an Italian made light gray three piece suit with a hand-and-a-half broadsword slung casually over one shoulder... only there wasn't anything ridiculous about the aura radiating off of him or the ancient look at the back of his eyes. Killer eyes, the same as the ones on the bearded man, and eyes that had somehow seen far too much in the way of horrors in too short a time. Eyes just like LeHane's...
The fourth, the brown skinned man that had visited LeHane at the hospital, spelled out 'mob boss in an expensive suit' with everything from the amused look he turned on the seven detectives to the H&K submachinegun and the short barreled pump action shotgun slung over his shoulders. A different kind of dangerous there... but not much less than what radiated off of LeHane or the big black man. Only different. Someone used to owning the ground he walked on and breaking people stupid enough to dispute the fact.
Just standing there, the body language of all of them screamed one thing: 'You want to fuck with our girl here, you go through us. And you're not up to that, so just chill, right?' The body language didn't imply lover in any of them. Family - they might as well have had 'adopted big brother' tattooed on their foreheads. None of them treated LeHane as being 'in charge', nor did her body language claim it. Hers stated she was a wolf among equals. Pack. She just happened to be taking point at the moment.
Dean Winchester was the only one O'Brien figured everyone in Major Cases recognized aside from Charles Gunn. Looking at him, O'Brien frowned inwardly. Winchester was standing just about as far away from LeHane as it was possible to get and not be obvious about it. O'Brien wondered what got a bug up his ass. He doubted that Winchester was intimidated by the crowd he was running with, albeit he couldn't blame the kid if he was. He just didn't seem the type. It seemed more to be LeHane he was uncomfortable with... Whatever. O'Brien shook his head. As long as Winchester didn't it it get in the way of business, he was LeHane's problem. He contented himself with taking a position leaning against a wall to one side and watching his squad's reactions to the newcomers.
"Makes it the Deadly Dozen instead of the Fucked Over Seven?" Burns snorted.
"I make it thirteen, yeah. Guess a baker's dozen's appropriate, but your name sounds better," LeHane laughed, agreeing. Her gaze roved over the rest of Major Cases, and settled on Paul Hogan. "You'd be Lieutenant Hogan, then? Heard about you from Five-oh and Frank there."
"Paul Hogan," Hogan was giving her an intensely curious study, sizing her up. He nodded, finally. "Don't think we're going to be going by badges and ranks in this. We just stepped out of the cop zone here."
"Hogan, then," Faith nodded. "Faith LeHane." She smiled, "Not sure I'd toss the shield so fast, Hogan. They're going to know you guys are cops." The smile went a shade colder, "What we're gonna do is make sure they understand you're cops they don't fuck with."
"You the superhero, baby," Colby snorted. "How you plan to make things like that blonde freak take us poor normal types all serious and shit?"
"Burns, right?" LeHane lifted an eyebrow and ambled over to the end of the table and hooked a chair over to turn around so she could stand with one foot up on it and her arm across the knee. She pulled a short heavy crowbar out of the gunbelt with her other hand. "Yeah, babe. I know it's hard when you're having to run with someone who can bend steel," she put one hand at each end of the bar and bent it into a U with no apparent effort, then slid it across the table to rest in front of Colby. "With you bein' all normal like and shit. Guess you'll just have to limp on through it anyway, huh?" O'Brien saw the lawyer, Gunn, give her a sharp look.
Colby glanced down at the bar and snorted. He opened his mouth to say something, and LeHane cut across him smoothly, "After all, I can bend steel and lift the front end of an SUV. I can come out of being unconscious three days after a fractured skull compounded with broken ribs and a punctured lung and walk out of the hospital a few days later, ready to rock. I'm special
, babe, and don't you forget it." She grinned, "You just can't compete, hey? Why even try."
Colby glared at her and started to raise up in his chair, chest muscles flexing under his shirt. LeHane leaned forward a bit and pinned him with that dark brown gaze... "Sad thing is, I know people like me who even believe
that horseshit I just spouted - and they should know
better," she said softly.
"Let me tell you about normal
, Colby Burns," Faith shook her head. "One of the bravest men I've ever known survived most of his life in Sunnydale surrounded by things that could throw you twenty feet like I did blondie. He discovered what the world was like when he was sixteen years old, and then he spent the next seven years fighting against it, every single night, on nothing but heart, guts, and pure nerve. No skills, no super powers, no enhanced healing - nothing. Just nerve and will. And a really big pair of balls. It cost him his best friend, it cost him his girlfriends, it cost him the trust of his friends, and in the end it cost him one of his eyes and damned near his life." The eyes went distant for a moment, "And he gets up every day and does it again. Because someone has to, and he can't turn his back on it now that he knows the score."
"When you can straighten out that crowbar, Detective Burns, you can assume what my attitude on 'normal' is." The corner of Faith's mouth quirked up in a slight grin, "What I said earlier? Few years back that was just
my attitude. I learned different. Super strength, speed, toughness and all, that blonde bitch picked me up and threw me into a lamp post and damned near broke me. Like I was a normal. I ain't special, just different." She met Colby's eyes seriously, "We level now?"
"Heart, guts, and nerve, huh?" Burns gave her a long look back, then grinned back at her. "Yeah, we level." He raised an eyebrow, "So, how we plan to make this heart, guts and nerve thing work for us?"
"Consider me an outside consultant, babe. You already got the hard part down: you guys've been surviving here for ten years in a town that's slowly become infested without knowing what you're dealing with. And you're not turned, dead, and you haven't been made into some thing's
Familiar or Ghoul. Heart, guts, and nerve... with more'n a bit of luck mixed in because that's what it takes. I'm going to show you what makes the underside of this city tick, and then we're going to figure out what you need to keep it locked down," Faith said. "And try to figure out how to keep you guys alive after I move on. That's another thing I learned along the way: sometimes heart, guts, nerve and sheer will ain't enough. You need an edge." Colby nodded, as did the other people in the room.
Faith took a tire iron out from somewhere under her coat and flipped it easily in her hand, grinning. She caught it as it came down and without warning, threw it at Detective Christine Sullivan, hard, straight, and fast.
Christine put up her hand out of reflex and caught it out of the air, cold. She stared at the tire iron incredulously and then glared at LeHane.
Faith grinned and winked at her. "I'm going to give you that edge that you need."