Authors Note: Fear not, I am continuing with Damned If You Do, I just had this idea and had to write this too. This has taken a lot of editing, because I went with the less than easy writing style of Fusco's POV complete with accent. And our favourite sarcastic detective is a little stressed so his accent is quite strong. I've spent a long time editing it to make sure it's right, and it occurred to me that there are a lot of people reading these stories for whom English is not a first language. So if, for whatever reason, you find reading the accented version difficult I have added a second version on chapter 2 in an easier to read format.
As usual I don't own anything except the random way the words appear on the page and if I was making money from this I would give up my day job.
I'm sick n' tired a' it. Wonderboy, Glasses, Little Miss Sunshine n' Cocoa Puffs can all take a running jump fer all I care. The whole lotta 'em are griefy as hell n' I should know better than t' pick up the phone t' 'em. Yeah, I may've been gettin' in over ma head with HR before Tall, Dark n' Deadly put those bullets in ma vest on the road t' Oyster Bay, but I certainly ain't never been shot at quite so much as the last few years. N' bein' kidnapped is a recent addition t' ma list a' pastimes too. Used t' be Saturdays were fer work or takin' ma kid t' a football game, not fer bein' handcuffed t' a metal pipe in some creep's basement.
The only consolation when I wake up is that the Bane of My Existence is right beside me, n' definitely looks worse fer wear. We both got knocked out when we were taken, n' ma head is killin' me, but Reese - or Riley, or whatever the hell his name really is - is still out cold n' has a bump on the noggin the size've a goose egg.
It was supposed t' be an easy request. The Professor, - who apparently really is one now, - had called John n' told him about some new schmuck that they needed t' save. N' so, despite bein' half way through a murder investigation, he insists on takin' us both on this wild goose chase to find this man. It's the last time I'll ever let him drive the cruiser!
We argued, all the way, because I'm more than done with being told t' jump n' not even gettin' the chance t' ask how high. Or rather, I argued but was jus' met with his usual stony silence. Now, we'd spent a great deal a' time speculatin' about jus' where Finch gets his intel from, n' we'd pretty much figured he was some sort a' hacker genius, but it'd be nice t' be trusted with that info n' told outright, you know what I'm sayin'? I told Wonderboy as much n' he jus' gave me this little frown n' kept his trap shut in that way I find particularly infuriatin'. Despite all I've done for 'em, they clearly still don't trust me, n' I was gettin' pretty pissed about it, when suddenly we lurched inta an old parking structure where we jus' happen t' come across a bunch of heavies in black ski masks dragging a handcuffed n' hooded man t' a car.
So next thing I knew we were being shot at an' Wonderboy slammed on the breaks n' then leapt out, firin' his service weapon like he was some kind a' bulletproof terminator. N' more fool me, because rather than jus' takin' the wheel n' gettin' the hell out a' dodge I ended up joinin' him.
But despite what he thinks, John ain't indestructible and he went down with two bullets t' the vest. I ducked down n' crawled over to him, still layin' down cover fire. He was still in the land a' the livin', suckin' in air t' his battered chest n' strugglin' to get up when some asshole snuck up behind us with what musta been a tyre iron or somethin'. One smack to the back a' ma head n' I ended up in Wonderboy's lap. Then it was lights out until I wake up in what I can only describe as a dungeon.
I ain't got a clue where we are. Some basement somewhere, n' the freakiest thing is it looks like it was designed fer this. Our phones n' weapons have gone, n' they've even taken our jackets, tie, belts and shoes. They've used our own handcuffs to loop through the metal bar that is at just the right height to allow us t' sit but with our arms stretched up over our heads. From what I can see, there ain't no reason for that bar t' be there except t' chain folk to. And on the other side of the room there's a matchin' bar with a guy in a grey suit zip-tied t' it. Same guy we were meant to be helpin', I'm guessin'. The one who was bein' manhandled in the parking garage. He looks t' be in his thirties, nice suit, smart haircut. He's Asian, skinny n' has a pair a' thin framed glasses perched all lopsided on his nose, don't look like much t' me, but then half the people we end up savin' don't.
The rest a' the place ain't nothin' remarkable. There's no windows, jus' a single lightbulb hangin' from the middle a' the celin' n' a set a' rottin' stairs that leads up t' a heavy metal door. Like I said, built fer this, right? One thing's fer sure, it don't look like gettin' outta here is gonna be easy.
The guy on the other side a' the room begins t' wake, n' then he comes to fully in a panic, lettin' out a yelp n' then tuggin' violently on the zip ties, which don't achieve anythin' 'cept rub red marks inta his wrists.
"Hey! Hey! You're gonna hurt yerself." I point out, n' miraculously the guy listens t' me n' stops. Those zip-ties don't ever come free n' he ain't gonna do nothin' but cause himself some damage. Lookin' at the panic in him jus' proves t' me this fella ain't the dangerous type, so why the hell is he here? "Hey kid," I start, even though he's what, ten, fifteen years younger than me at most, "who the hell are ya? N' why you got the goon squad after ya?"
"Who the hell am I? I should be asking who the hell are you?" The man says, fear sending his voice an octave higher than it probably is normally.
I'm already havin' a bad day, so his attitude pisses me off almost immediately, but I remember he's scared and quite rightly so, so instead I take a breath n' say, "Ma name's Detective Fusco, ma partner n' I were just drivin' inta' the parking structure when we saw you bein' kidnapped or whatever n' tried t' help."
There's movement by my side n' I realise John has woken up. "Sleepin' on the job are ya?" I grumble at him, it ain't fair, but I'm sore and irritable so sue me. He don't say nuthin' but looks at me with a grim expression on his face, n' Jesus Christ, that bump is gettin' bigger! He gives the slightest of nods n' I take that t' mean he's ignorin' the gripe n' happy with ma version a' events that I've told our roommate. Good, 'cause I wouldn't know how the hell else t' explain it.
The schmuck sighs n' seems t' believe me, "I'm sorry Detective, but I don't know why they're after me either."
"What's your name, kid?"
"Michael. Michael Nguyen, and I'm a nobody, I don't know who these guys are."
"What do you do for a living Michael?" John rasps.
"I'm an IT guy. Glorified tech support really."
"What does your company do?" John asks, but before he gets an answer, the metal door at the top a' the stairs opens n' a man dressed in black enters. Another man follows him n' stands at the top a' the stairs guardin' the door.
"Who are you?" The man snarls. He's in his forties, tall, slim n' imposin' with blonde hair in a military style cut. He reminds me a little a' Wonderboy, but when he talks it's with a slight Russian accent. The question ain't directed at Michael, but directed at us.
"I'm Detective Riley and this is my partner, Detective Fusco." Reese says with an innocent expression on his face. I want t' kick him, why would he tell these thugs we were cops, they'll kill us for sure? But as always, he seems t' know more than he's let on t' me. "We were just in the parking garage when we saw your men taking this guy and then you started shooting at us."
The Russian looks from him t' me n' back t' Reese again. "We ran the details from your badges. He," he gave me a kick t' the leg, causin' me t' pull ma legs up out the way, "really is Detective Lionel Fusco, graduated mid-table in the academy, started off as a beat cop in the Bronx, got his Detective's shield on the second try, had an unremarkable career at the 51st precinct and yet still wound up on a renowned homicide task force at the 8th.
"But you, Detective Riley, let me tell you what we found on you, and if you really are a detective you can tell us where the plot holes are. Short stint in Narcotics before a transfer to Homicide, at least your service record with the NYPD shows you deserved your posting, unlike your friend Fusco here. Transferred from Chicago with a stunning write-up from your Captain, conveniently most of your service has been deep undercover and the details are redacted, but what was not redacted was your death." He pauses fer effect. "So if the real Detective John Riley was gunned down while trying to stop a bank robbery, then who the hell are you?"
Oh shit! We're in trouble now. Whoever this guy is, he's good. I heard all about the cover that John had used at Rikers. Elaborate as hell. Finch must be slippin'. Except I turn t' look at John n' the bastard is smilin'.
"The man who gunned me down did it as retaliation for an undercover job. The State faked my death and moved me to New York." John shrugs. He's so nonchalant that I could slap him.
"According to the reports there was not much left by the time the real Riley was riddled with bullets."
I feel like I'm watching a tennis match, back-forth, back-forth, wonderin' who's gonna drop the ball here. But then John says, "how many times was the Riley in your report shot?" n' I jus' know he's too confident t' lose this.
"So check." John says casually. "Undo my shirt and look for six bullet wounds."
Seriously, six times? I dunno whether I should be horrified or surprised he ain't been shot more. An' Mr Russia, does jus' as suggested, crouching down and tearin' his shirt open, sendin' buttons flyin' before takin' a knife off his belt n' rippin' his undershirt n' cuttin' away his bulletproof vest.
"Jesus Christ Partner!" I can't help but stare, I was always kinda jealous a' the man's physique, but the reality is Reese's body is a mess. I mean, I knew he'd taken some damage over the years, had even sat with him for a while in Finch's makeshift hospital, after... well, you know. Not that I'd ever tell him that. But I ain't never seen all a' it before. N' it's not just the bullet wound scars neither, although they're the thickest n' most obvious, there's knife wounds, burn marks, n' surgery scars t' add t' the list. There's two big bruises on his chest too where the bullets have hit today, n' I wonder how many more bullets have been caught by Kevlar over the years.
Mr Russia is starin' at 'im in a way that creeps me out, but Reese doesn't appear bothered n' jus' says, "The sixth one is on my left thigh." For a second I think that Mr Russia is gonna strip Wonderboy's pants from 'im too, but instead he seems t' take his word fer it. The guy stands up n' starts pacin'. He gets a roll a' strappin' tape from his pocket, the kind boxers use, n' starts wrappin' his fists.
"That still does not explain how you knew to be in that parking lot at that precise moment. We watched the camera feeds back, and you suddenly change direction and drive at speed with that structure as your destination. So, how did you know we'd be there?"
"Lucky guess?" John offers. It don't go down well, n' Mr Russia drives a rapid punch that catches Reese in the jaw n' snaps his head back 'til it hits the concrete wall with a dull thud. Across the room, Nyugen let's out an audible gasp at the violence. The kid looks like he's about t' piss his pants n' I hope they don't turn on him next.
"Do not take me for a fool. Someone tipped you off. Who was it?"
"999 call to someone being kidnapped. Anonymous member of the public."
"We checked that out too, no call was made."
So Wonderboy jus' sets his mouth in a grim line n' stares blankly ahead. It's a cue t' everyone that he's done talkin'. The second punch cracks 'im in the eye, it sends Reese's face towards mine, n' I get a good look at those steely eyes. They're pleadin' with me not t' talk. I just give him a slight nod. I wanna tell him I got his back, I jus' hope it's true.
"Let me tell you my theory." The Russian said, landin' a heavy fist on those bruises t' his chest. It draws all the air from Reese's lungs n' leaves him gaspin' in pain. Judgin' from the bruises he's bound t' have a coupla cracked ribs already. "When I got to New York three years ago, there was talk of a vigilante, The Man In The Suit. Some Special Forces trained nutjob running round town helping people, always in the right place at just the right time. Sound familiar?"
Reese shrugs, t' which Mr Russia waves that nasty lookin' knife at him, n' then runs it clear across Wonderboy's chest. It opens up a thin line a' flesh n' starts oozin' blood but Wonderboy don't even blink.
I know if I say a goddamn thing I'll be turnin' that unwanted attention my way, but I ain't gonna let our superhero wannabe go it alone. "Hey," I bark, against my better judgement, "The Man In The Suit is dead, didn't ya get the memo?" The guy turns t' me, brandishin' that knife that's drippin' with Reese's blood n' points it at ma face, less than an inch from ma eye. I do my best t' channel some Wonderboy steel a' my own, "Some rogue CIA agent a few years ago. Snow his name was. Sorry it don't fit this weird little narrative you're desperate t' cook up but Riley really is jus' a detective."
"Now, come on Detective. I know you never bought that bullshit. That agent Donnelly had embarrassed the FBI and they jumped at the chance to wrap it up in a nice little box. The thing is, I knew Mark Snow, and the last thing he'd do is run around helping people. Besides," n' then he draws his phone out n' shows me a picture. It's a blurry black n' white security camera still a' Wonderboy runnin' down the street with Cocoa Puffs, back on that night from years ago when he thought she was an innocent victim. "Looks familiar don't you think? Certainly not like the follicularly challenged Mark Snow."
I shrug, "What can I say, maybe Snow wore a toupee."
I'm expectin' it, but that don't make the first hit hurt any less. I wasn't expectin' the relentlessness a' his assault. Hittin' me over n' over until I lose count. All I can do is bury my face in my arm t' protect it n' take the beatin'. At some point I feel the knife sink inta' ma right thigh n' I can't bite back the roar of pain. I draw both legs up, knife still in ma thigh, and I kick out at the man with both feet, catchin' him in the stomach with all the force I can manage.
The Russian is caught off balance an' staggers back, landin' on his ass. I can't help but laugh, "What are ya? FSB? They not teach ya 'bout New Yorker fightin' spirit in Russian Spy School?" I spit blood at him n' it hits the floor with a thick splat. There's blood dribblin' down ma chin from ma nose n' a split lip. Ma nose is busted n' it's hard t' breathe, n' one a' my eyes is swellin' already. I glance over at Reese, n' he's givin' me this look I ain't never seen from him before, admiration.
"What is it t' ya anyway?" I carry on. I know I should probably jus' keep ma trap shut, but I'm still angry 'bout being dragged inta' this without knowin' why. When did ma life get mixed up with spies n' conspiracy theories?
"Because your friend is The Man In The Suit." He says, emphasisin' the 'is'. "And because my employers have reason to believe he has help. We want to know where he and his colleague get their intel from."
I feel a little sick, it could be the likely concussion, or the fact I've still got a knife in ma leg, but I think it's got more to do with the fact they know about Glasses. I mean don't get me wrong, he's a bit've a weirdo, but I feel a certain level of protectiveness over the little guy.
The Russian reaches over, grabbin' ma leg n' pinnin' it down while he wrenches the knife from me. "Aw, shit." I curse. Lookin' down, I can see a dark red stain seepin' through ma slacks but not so quick t' suggest he's hit an artery... I don't think.
"He doesn't know anything." Tall, Dark and Deadly growls coldly.
"I know." The Russian shrugged. "And Mr Nguyen isn't of any consequence either. But they're both here because you have delusions of martyrdom. You might be resistant to torture but you won't want others to take it for you."
"What?" That's enough t' send Nguyen inta' a panic, drawing his legs up to protect his chest, tears springin' from his eyes. "I'm just here to be tortured? Why me?"
"Bad luck really. I needed someone in danger to draw The Man In The Suit out."
"No, no, no!" He whimpered, as the Russian turns his attention to the IT guy, wavin' the knife at 'im. Reese sets his jaw n' doesn't say anythin', his eyes are full a' regret but I can tell he's made up his mind, he'll do anything t' protect Finch n' the mission. N' I get that, I do. I respect his loyalty, but Nguyen don't n' he starts bawlin'.
"Hey, you know what?" I really am pushin' ma luck here. "The kid don't need t' be here. Let him go n' use me as leverage." I know, right? Who's got the martyr complex now?
"You are right." The Russian starts, but I'm lookin' at Reese instead n' realise by the flicker a' dismay in his face that I've made a horrible mistake.
"We don't need him, unfortunately he can't be left a witness." An' the guy don't even pull a gun, jus' slashes out with the knife.
He hits an artery an' blood sprays clear across the room, hittin' me in the face an' chest. I blink away the blood an' see the poor schmuck, his head tipped back n' blood frothin' from the deep gash in his neck. He's gurglin' as the blood pours out n' he struggles t' breathe, knowin' it's his last moments on earth. It's a sound that will haunt me forever.
I can't look at him, so I turn t' Reese, n' he is hangin' his head, eyes closed, n' I swear for a second I see a bead a' moisture on those long eyelashes a' his. Who knows, perhaps I'm imaginin' it, because when he lifts his head an' opens his eyes a moment later, his eyes are hard n' steely again. Like it ain't the first time he's had t' watch someone choke on their own blood. Hell, he may have even been the cause a' it. N' that prospect is somethin' I really don't wanna think about.
"You didn't have to do that." Wonderboy says, in that way that lets ya know he'll tear ya limb from limb at the first opportunity.
"Perhaps not." Mr Russia replies as though he ain't got a care in the world. "But it did prove to you that I'm not here to mess about. So if you want to spare your friend the same fate then you'd better tell me what I want to know. Where is your friend? And where do you get your intel?"
"I'm sorry Lionel." Reese says, no emotion whatsoever, but fer once I don't hold that against him, he's gotta shut himself off, fer the good a' the mission, I get that.
"Hey, it's okay Partner." I promise. N' as the punches start again, I think a' ma boy Lee, jus' thankful that he's safe at his mom's this time around.
I musta blacked out, or it was an awful long blink, 'cause I squeeze ma eyes shut n' when I open them again, it's 'cause Reese has let out a scream. An honest t' God, bona fide yell, which he bites back as soon as he's made it. I never thought I'd hear a sound like that come outta his mouth n' I'm scared t' look, but I do anyway n' see John pantin', shirt soaked with sweat n' blood. Mr Russia is holdin' a knife n' something else I can't identify until he slaps it down on the cement floor n' I wanna throw up more than ever. It's a bit a' skin, he's flayed a strip a' fuckin' skin off Wonderboy's ribs n' it's now laying there between us all glistenin' n' raw.
I look up at him n' catch his eye. He's slumped in the restraints, head back n' eyes glazed over, pantin' hard. He rolls his head over towards me, n' his look is a warnin'. I know what he's sayin', Mr Russia ain't noticed me awake yet, n' if he does I'm back t' bein' the prime target. I want more than anythin' t' jus' close ma eyes n' play dead 'til it's all over, but I can't jus' leave Reese to his torment alone.
I open ma big yap t' get myself in further trouble, when there's a knock at the door. We all look t' the menacin'-lookin' heavy who opens it. There's another guy, also dressed in black n' he hands over a plastic picnic cooler. The guard takes it n' locks the door back up 'fore bringin' it down the stairs n' plantin' it beside our Russian sadist. I feel Reese tense up, like he knows what's inside, n' I'm guessin' it's not gonna be a six pack a' brewskies.
Our captor smiles n' he looks pure evil. He takes the lid off n' gets an IV bag a' clear liquid out, already attached t' the plastic tube. He hangs it up beside me, n' then gets out a cannula. Now, I'm really nervous. I mean, I can take a beatin', but I ain't cut out fer this chemical crap.
"Sodium pentathol?" Reese rasps, "Not very effective if the guy you're using it on doesn't know the answers."
"Perhaps." He gets out another bag n' hangs it next t' Wonderboy. The bags hang there, like a threat. I rack ma brains fer every spy movie I've ever seen, but I can't think a' any tips t' fight a truth serum. He grabs ma forearm n' tugs ma shirtsleeve beyond ma elbow, ma heart is racin'.
"Hey," Even in a time like this, Reese manages t' stay calm. "Hey, Lionel. It'll be okay."
I look over at him, I think I'm hyperventilatin', but his gaze is steadyin'. I try t' match his breathin', though it's made harder by ma broken nose. But I ain't never been a scaredy cat, n' I'm determined not t' start now. I flinch as the needle goes in n' he finds the vein. He connects the cannula to the bag n' turns the drip on. I can feel it feedin' inta' ma vein. It's so cold it feels like it's burnin' the inside a' ma arm. Reese tenses up as the needle goes inta' his arm, misses the vein on the first try n' leaves a thin line a' blood from the resultin' puncture wound. I can't imagine the needle hurts Wonderboy that much, not considerin' some a' the other wounds I've seen him take t'night, n' so I figure the flinch is 'cause he knows what's comin'. Truth serum breaks down mental barriers, right? So what Mr Badass is really flinchin' from is facin' up t' his vulnerability. What? You like that assessment? See, bein' a shrink ain't so hard, even with someone as closed off as Reese.
Our captor watches with an evil lookin' grin as the drugs flow inta our veins. He crouches down t' John n' grasps his face in his hand, fingers grippin' that bruisin' jaw tightly n' forcin' his head up t' look him in the eyes. He's watchin' fer the moment the poison starts t' work, n' perhaps because a' his head injury, it don't take long 'fore John's eyes are strugglin' t' focus. The Russian draws his knife up against John's bare chest n' places the point at his shoulder, pressin' it in just enough t' start the blood t' well up n' trickle down his ribs.
"Hurts more now doesn't it?" The Russian says, despite the fact it don't look like John's felt it at all. He presses the knife in deeper. John's only acknowledgement a' the pain is a flicker've a wince.
"Imagine, what this is gonna feel like when I do it to your friend. Lowered inhibitions, increased pain sensitivity, and no training to help him through it. Is that what you're going to allow me to do to your friend?" He presses the knife in again, John barely grunts. "Do you really think this man, a man you claim to be innocent, deserves all the nasty things I can do to him?" John is tremblin' with pain now, yet still he don't make a sound as the knife gets driven deeper, not until the bastard yanks it out again, n' John lets out a ragged gasp.
Ya ever been out drinkin' n' think you're fine until ya move? I think fer a brief, naive moment that it ain't workin', until I turn ma head n' the room spins. It makes me wanna hurl. I look t' Superman beside me fer a cue, he's got his eyes closed n' is concentratin' on his breathin' so I try n' do the same. Guess if he's bein' effected then there's no hope that I can avoid it.
"How do you feel Detective?" Mr Russia asks.
"Like I got a nice beer buzz goin'." I reply. "Nice t' know I can still be sarcastic on this stuff. N' not entirely truthful. Yeah, I feel like I'm drunk, but it's more like intravenous vodka shots. Hey, I should ask Wonderboy over there if that would work, could be useful." N' I realise that I've just said ma thoughts out loud. "Oh shit."
That sadistic bastard is laughin' at me, n' I think I even detect a smile on Reese's face.
"So, Detective, would you mind telling me who your friend works with?"
"Me you jackass!" I say with a cacklin' laugh. It hurts t' laugh, everythin' hurts more now, ma face feels like it's on fire. I imagine I can feel every bruise, every break in ma bones. Ma eye socket for sure is broken, n' I imagine my own skull with a big jagged crack runnin' through it. The wound in ma leg, I can feel every muscle torn through, nerves shredded n' raw.
"Fair point. I should be more specific. Who is The Man In The Suit's silent partner? What do you know about their vigilante operation?"
"I know it gets me shot at n' kidnapped more than I'd like."
N' even Reese lets out a chuckle at that. Suddenly that pisses me off.
"Yeah, you think that's funny Wonderboy? You with yer death wish, n' yer super spy skills n' yer masochism? Ya drag the rest a' us inta' ya crazy Jason Bourne world n' don't tell us shit! And it gets people killed!"
Reese flinches at ma words but I'm on a roll now, n' this stuff has opened the floodgates. "Y'know what? He is the Bane of My Existence n' I would quite happily tell ya all about his little secrets, because no one should haveta be chained in a fuckin' dungeon an' tortured. But the thing is, he don't trust me with nuthin', I don't know Wonderboy's real name, I don't know his friend Glasses' real name neither. As for their intel, it comes outta thin air, near as I can figure. I never asked t' be a part a' it, Carter never asked neither, n' she gave her life for this untrustin' asshole."
I look over at Wonderboy, t' glare at him. I'm so angry n' I expect he is too. It weren't that long ago we were knockin' ten bells out a' each other on a rainy night in Colorado. But what I see instead is even more unnerving than Tall, Dark n' Deadly in trigger-happy mode. There's tears streamin' down his face n' his body is shakin' with silent sobs.
"I'm sorry," He croaks, "I'm so, so sorry. I never told her anything. And I should have. I should have told her I loved her." He's findin' talkin' hard through his cryin' n' his swollen face.
"Yeah, you should've." I say bitterly, "you hurt her bad y'know?"
"I know. I always do. And I tried to keep my distance but couldn't help myself."
"It was your distance that hurt her."
"I know that too." He sobs.
"Enough!" Our torturer is unimpressed n' angry. "Tell me about where you and your friend gets your intel." He directs at Reese.
But Reese is gone now, lost in his own little hell, filled with regrets. "I loved her. I tried not to, but I loved her." He whispers, hangin' his head.
"How did she die?" Our torturer tries a different tactic.
"She gave her life for me. She shouldn't have." He says bitterly.
"Did you know she was going to die? Did your source tell you?"
"I should have known. This is going to kill us all. I should never have gotten her involved. I'm prepared to die, but wasn't prepared to lose her, but I should have known. It should have been me. I wanted it to be me. If I'd died for her, my life might have meant something after all."
Hearin' Wonderboy's death wish spoken aloud is perhaps unsurprising but disturbin' nonetheless, n' I no longer feel angry at him, jus' sorry fer him. With all the people he's saved n' he still don't think it's enough. I woulda said it aloud but watchin' the indestructible Reese break has a soberin' effect n' I feel a bit more control a' ma body. I feel tired all've a sudden, more than I already did, n' I can feel ma head droop n' ma eyes slide closed.
I jerk awake, n' I have no idea how much time has passed. Could be minutes, could be hours, but ma left eye has swollen completely shut, n' Reese is still shakin' with silent sobs. There's more strips of flesh on the floor, but he's sayin' nuthin', jus' still mumblin' t' himself about death n' loss. I can't stay awake, n' I slide right back inta' unconsciousness.
The next time is because there's a shout n' the sound a' rapid gunfire on the other side a' the door. Reese is passed out, the noise don't even alert 'im now. The door slams open n' as soon as it does, a shot is fired n' Mr Russia is thrown back by the bullet that enters his head. I fight the heaviness a' ma eyelids, suddenly I've got Fruit Loops in front a' me, crouchin' down n' slidin' the needle from ma arm.
"Wonderboy..." I mumble.
"The big lug will be fine." Cocoa Puffs says, unlockin' ma handcuffs from the bar. Pain n' pins n' needles flow through ma arms, but it's jus' a minor addition t' the list a' everythin' else that hurts.
Ma eyes slide shut again, n' the next thing I'm aware a' is Cocoa Puffs n' Little Miss Sunshine, haulin' me t' ma feet between 'em.
"Come on Fusco, ugh, it's time you laid off the doughnuts." Shaw grumbles as she slings ma arm over her shoulder. I glance down at where I'm expectin' Reese t' be, but they've already moved 'im and all that's left are bloodstains on the floor n' three strips a' flesh. Suddenly all ma composure is gone n' I throw up, the girls manoeuvring me jus' in time so I miss ma shirt. I expect some sarcastic comment from one a' 'em, or both, but they jus' hold me braced between 'em until ma stomach is empty. I even feel Shaw's hand rubbin' ma back in a way that's meant t' be soothin'.
The journey t' the hospital is all hazy. I remember layin' slumped in the back a' a car, Wonderboy passed out beside me, n' then suddenly we stop n' there are people's hands on me as I'm hauled outta the car n' onto a gurney. As I'm wheeled in, the bright light hurts ma eyes, it's a contrast to the dark outside, n' I know that says somethin' about how long we were held fer but I can't do the math right now. I want t' ask how John is, n' maybe I mumble somethin' but I don't hear the answer as I slip back inta' unconsciousness.
When I awake the pain has dulled, but the first thing I notice is there's another needle in ma arm. I can't do it again, I want it outta me, and I go t' tear it out but a hand grabs mine, stoppin' me.
"Calm down Lionel, it's just saline and antibiotics."
That voice is the last thing I expected t' hear, n' I drift back t' awareness t' see it's our Captain who is stood over ma bed.
"Welcome back to the land of the living." She says, n' smiles at what must be bewilderment on ma face.
"Captain." My voice is raw n' I struggle t' sit up. She helps me raise the bed n' offers me a cup a' water which she helps me drink, n' I feel all kinds a' pathetic.
"You're quite the hero, Detective Fusco." She says with a smile.
I frown at her, "I'm not sure..." I try t' remember doin' somethin' heroic but all I can remember is makin' Wonderboy cry. N' won't that image haunt me t' the rest a' ma days?
"It's okay, memory loss is one of the side effects of sodium pentathol. You may get it back or you may not. But to get yourself and Riley out of there was impressive."
"How?" My brain really isn't functionin'.
"Well it looks from the scene like you tore the metal bar you were chained to right off the wall and stole the perpetrator's gun. You took three of them down and then a young woman found you on the street, dragging Riley with you and brought you both here."
"How is he?"
The Captain's gaze moves over t' the far side a' the room. I'm so tired that even turnin' ma head is hard work. But when I do I see there's another bed beside me. Wonderboy is layin' there, pale-faced n' battered, his chest swathed in bandages. But he's linked up t' a heart monitor which is beepin' away steadily.
"You've both suffered some quite significant injuries, but the doctors assure me you'll be just fine. He was awake for a while earlier, he doesn't remember much more than you. But he did say that he didn't think he could have done it without you."
Typical! That John is at death's door n' yet still wakes up before me.
"I'm going to let you get some rest." Captain says, "but the woman who rescued you is outside. She wanted to hang around and make sure you're both okay. Shall I send her in?"
"Get some sleep Lionel." The Captain leaves n' then Shaw comes in, dressed in her usual black jeans n' vest. Her hair is a bit a' a mess, like she's jus' taken on a bunch a' Russian spies, but with the same nonchalant attitude she approaches all violence.
"Hey Lionel, how you doing?" She asks casually, glancin' over at Reese but settlin' down in a hard plastic chair beside ma bed, crossin' her ankle over her opposite knee.
"Been better." I grumble. "But I could be worse. Thanks fer the rescue."
"Oh Lionel, didn't you hear? You did all that by yourself."
"So I gather." I pause, not sure I want t' know the answer t' ma next question. "Did they get anything from us? Is Glasses okay?"
"He's fine. He wanted to be here but it's not safe, just in case there are others watching. And no, you didn't tell them anything."
"How do you know? I can't remember all a' it." I admit.
"You didn't. Some guys are good at dishing out punishment but not so good at taking it." She says coolly. I don't think I wanna know what that means. "Apparently you just had a shouting match and then lover boy over there got all broody." She smiles at the notion. "We'll make a spy out of you yet Lionel."
I let out a heavy sigh, "we might have the night off t'night, but there are gonna be questions in the morning."
Shaw smiles, "surely you know there's been an ongoing terror threat that involves kidnapping and torturing officers? Or don't you read your memos?"
Of course, every cop knows that, but the threat has been there for years n' I've always chalked it up t' one more nutjob n' god knows we see plenty a' them in this job. I remember John being pretty angry about it though, he didn't like the idea that we'd all had this hangin' over our heads for so long n' no one had been able t' do anything 'bout it.
"I think a hit squad being hired by terrorists to take out a couple of cops makes a lot more sense than you two being tortured by Russian Secret Service for intel on a violence-predicting super-computer, don't you?"
So, that's part of our theory confirmed. I wonder for a second if Shaw has misspoken, but dismiss it immediately. She's always in control. This is her tellin' me as much as she's allowed t'.
"What about Nguyen, the IT guy?"
"There was no one else." She says with such firmness that I know I'm not allowed t' question it. Christ! I wonder how much effort her n' Fruit Loops have put inta' dressin' the scene t' fit their story. I have no doubt that Nguyen is gonna turn up in a few days floatin' in the Hudson. A tragic victim of a robbery gone wrong.
"You just concentrate on getting better so you can enjoy the medals and praise you've got coming your way. Let Finch, Root and me worry about the rest."
"Medals I don't deserve." I point out.
"Oh, I'm sure you can think of something you've earned a medal for. Putting up with that guy for a start." She grins, pointin' at Reese.
She chats for another couple a' minutes n' checks the medical notes that we both have at the bottom of our beds. Satisfied that we're not gonna crap out on her, she leaves n' I settle down inta a long needed sleep.
My dreams are chaotic though, n' I wake up with a start havin' just watched Reese get flayed alive again, his blood bubblin' out a' a slash in his throat. As I start t' get ma heart under control, I see that it's mornin' already n' Wonderboy is awake n' lookin' at me with a concerned frown on his face.
"Hey Lionel, how are you?" He asks. I ain't ever heard him ask after someone's welfare n' I'm a bit taken aback.
"I'll live. You?"
"Good job last night." He says, ignorin' ma question.
"You remember any a' it?"
He looks at me, but don't say anything. There's a lotta regret in those eyes, n' embarrassment too. He don't need t' answer, because I know he does, parts a' it anyway.
"Look, I didn't mean what I said last night..." I begin awkwardly.
"It's called truth serum Lionel." He points out coldly.
"Yeah, well. I wish you'd trust me t' know all about yer operation. N' don't think this is me givin' yer an all time reprieve because I deserve t' know, but I guess this time at least I'm kinda glad yer didn't."
"It was always to protect you Lionel."
"Yeah. Didn't really work out that way did it?"
"No. And I'm sorry." Two firsts, I ain't never heard him say sorry neither.
"I'm sorry too, about what I said about Carter, I know you were just tryin' t' protect her too."
He opens his mouth n' at first I think we're about t' have an honest t' god conversation about feelings n' stuff, but then the door opens n' Lee rushes in, followed at a distance by his mother.
"Hey buddy." I grab my kid in ma arms and pull him close, not carin' that it hurts t' do so.
"Dad! I'm so glad you're okay." Lee says, "the officers outside said you were a hero."
Reese beside me puts on a charmin' yet tired smile, "That's right. He is."
"Really?" Lee's overexcited by the news, n' I even see my ex-wife crack a hint a' a smile, although I know I'll get a talkin' to later about puttin' myself in harms way n' deprivin' Lee a' a father. I look at Reese, who's more than happy t' chat t' my kid n' tell him some exaggerated story about our police work. We have unfinished business t' talk about, but the opportunity has been interrupted now n' I doubt he'll ever gimme the chance t' bring it up again.
Lee spends the rest a' the day with us, n' I'm surprised at how good Wonderboy is with kids. Later on that day, they let me out, but they tell Reese he's gotta stay in another night on account a' his flayed n' broken ribs an' a crack in that thick skull a' his, an' I swear t' God he actually sulks about it, worse than when Lee gets grounded even though he's spent most a' the day fallin' asleep anyway. He almost signs himself out n' leaves with me until I remind him that he's Detective Riley now, n' on this at least, Riley would do as he was told.
I'm lookin' forward t' goin' home t' my own bed, but I couldn't've been asleep fer long 'fore the nightmares start again. I can't seem t' shake that image a' that bastard tearin' strips offa John, 'cept this time in ma dream I join in and suddenly it's me that's flayin' him while he cries n' blames himself. Wonder how long that'll haunt me for.
Anyway, that's why I'm sat here on the muddy grass tellin' ya this story in the middle a' the night. I know right? Ya never would've pegged me for the sentimental type but here I am, again.
Sorry it's been awhile since I came t' see ya. I guess life just got busy ya know, n' havin' Wonderboy as a partner don't exactly make for an easy existence. He'd come t' see ya too, y'know. Except I think it hurts him too much. You'd think someone who was used t' so much loss would learn t' deal with it, wouldn't ya? But I guess the opposite happens, n' it just wears ya down instead. He misses you, y'know? We all do. I know you'd want me t' look after 'im, n' I'm tryin'. He don't always make it easy though.
Right, I know what you're thinkin', I should be tucked up in bed not sat here in the cold n' the dark with you. You'd probably point out that I could've had this chat in the comfort a' my own home, not creepin' around in a graveyard in the middle a' the night, but I needed t' see ya. I had no idea, when I took that desk opposite yours, just how much an impact you'd have on my life, but I swear I ain't never had a better friend. Wherever ya are, take care a' yerself Carter, n' I'll talk t' ya again soon. Thanks fer listenin', n' do me a favour won'tcha? When Wonderboy runs out a' those nine lives a' his, make sure you're waiting there fer 'im.