They say I did something bad
But why's it feel so good?
Most fun I ever had
And I'd do it over and over and over again if I could
I Did Something Bad, Taylor Swift
My heart leapt into my throat as I slammed the gas pedal down and wrenched the wheel around a tight right turn. The back end of the Charger slung out around the turn on the slick, wet street, and I lost some momentum as the wheel spun, but I quickly straightened out and got it back. The tuned up Honda cut down a side alley, slamming through a chainlink fence and narrowly avoiding a dumpster.
The sirens behind me were nothing but a distant whine, but the radio traffic was a nonstop cacophony of voices in my head. I felt myself reaching a hand towards the radio to call out my location so I could back off the chase, but instead, I found my hand going back to the wheel, making the same turn as the Honda, scraping the driver's side door on the dumpster and sending the mirror flying to the pavement.
Cursing to myself, I slammed my foot down harder. I was watching the speedometer needle shoot up, hoping it would be enough. I snatched my radio and held it up to my mouth, but then I hesitated.
I should call off the chase. Hell, I should have called the chase long before I took the turn through the fence, but I didn't want to.
The Honda took yet another left, and I knew they were about to attempt to make a break for the freeway. If I was going to stop them, it had to be now.
"We went through a fence turning north off Freemont." I barked into the radio. "We're driving through the industrial complex. I think he's going to try to lose me and then cut back up the exit onto-um," I blanked on the exit number and the freeway number.
"I've got it." Someone else responded before they rattled off the location. The sound of the sirens started to swell as more cars got on the right track.
"Right, second left, and then one more left." I gave my vague directions and dropped the radio. It was rookie stuff but I was too hyped up to care. The Honda driver was still in sight, and they were getting sloppier with every turn. Based on the sheer amount of heroine I had just caught them with, I would not be surprised if they were high.
"-BECK! That is a damn order!" It took me a minute to realize it my superior officer was screaming my name into the radio.
There was a right and wrong thing to do here. The right thing was to listen, back off, and then beg for forgiveness. The wrong thing was to keep going. We should fall back and regroup. I couldn't bring myself to do it.
"The radio cut out. Do I have a chopper?" I lied, but I didn't care. I'd deal with the fallout later.
My heart was pounding, the blood rushing in my ears, I felt like I couldn't breathe, and it was amazing.
Only a few seconds had passed, but it felt like time was slowing down. Stasiak had given up on me calling the chase, and with the helicopter fixing the fishtailing Honda in a spotlight, I suddenly had back up in my rearview. Everyone had calmed down and I could focus on driving.
I felt like a predator stalking my prey as we worked to block in the Honda in between the bleak factories. It took a while, but I eventually saw my chance. So much adrenaline shot through me that I felt giddy as I pit maneuvered the car into a shipping container.
We descended on them like a wave. Soon, it was all over and I had my biggest bust to date.
One of the veteran guys asked me if I was alright because I was shaking. Truth was, I'd never felt better.
You have two choices in life: accept your fate or fight it.
When you're unfailingly analytical and type A it's normally easy to make the decision; you weigh the pros and cons and you go with the best option. It made me a good cop, pushed me all the way up the ranks until I was in my dream job. A dream job that I was about to lose because I pulled a rookie move and didn't call off the chase when I was supposed to.
It could be argued that it wasn't completely my fault; I had been presenting my case that three international drug smugglers were congregating in an old warehouse for a week. None of the guys in the old boys club took me seriously. They finally sent me and a few other agents to check it out.
The drug smugglers were bent over multiple bricks of heroin when we kicked the door in and they scattered like rats. Two were grabbed almost instantly by agents, but the third made it to the car. With the others distracted by the two thugs in handcuffs, I bolted outside for a car.
Thankfully, it had been steadily raining and it was late; there was no one in our path as we tore through the backstreets of dilapidated warehouses. Unfortunately, I wasn't sure that Penning was going to see that as an upside. I had heard through the grapevine that he was absolutely raging about the newbie with a God complex who couldn't take a damn order.
The stack of files slammed on my desk with a sick, echoing thud that brought the chatter in the room down to a deafening silence. The jerk of my pen sent a streak across the report I was trying to fill out. The tense seconds ticked by as I waited for something to happen.
"Beck." He finally hissed.
"Stasiak,-" He cut me by slamming a hand on the desk with a loud snap. I frowned at the thought of how much that must of physically stung him, but the glance at his red face and pulsating temple veins told me he didn't care.
"The director's office. Now, Beck." He growled as he whipped around and stalked off to Penning's office. With a tired sigh, I grabbed the files and followed behind him.
I tried to figure out how to play this as I trailed a few feet behind him. There were still some guys here at their desks scattered around the room even though it was late, and all of them were looking up from their paperwork at me, not even trying to hide the fact that they were eager to hear the new girl get reamed. Unwilling to let them see me upset or weak, I stuck my chin out at a haughty angle.
"I have had it with you, Beck." He hissed as he reached the door and yanked it open. He jerked his hand forwards in an 'after you' motion and I strolled through as nonchalantly as possible, setting the file stack neatly on Penning's desk with a polite nod to the bossman.
"I want to know why you went in with no backup!" He roared the second I shut the door. Penning was sitting at the desk watching Stasiak scream at me. I knew when Stasiak was done, Penning would start in.
A quick glance at the window in his door showed everyone standing up to listen. I felt myself get hot. Stasiak followed my gaze and thankfully shut the blinds as he continued yelling about how this was not what he taught me. When he was finally done, it became my turn.
"I had back up! They're just the slowest freaking drivers I've ever seen! If you had listened to my intel we would have had more than just the four of us! I asked you for a team and you told me to handle it, so I did. I handled it and I caught the drug dealers and I got us intel on the cartel. Which, surely you'll remember is something you've been begging for for three months!" The venom crept into my voice as I started opening my files and flipping them open to the pages of neatly typed intel that clearly said the drug dealers would be where we found them.
We were squared off, twin bowed up stances with red faces and hard glares. I waited for his rebuttal, but it never came. I forced myself to take a steadying, calming breath before I spoke again.
"I'm not going to let you take this from me." I focused my attention on Penning. "I have good instincts, and my intel was good."
Penning ran a hand through his greying brown hair and looked at me with absolute exhaustion. He actually looked like an agent unlike short Stasiak and his square babyface. Penning had a presence with his height and wide shoulders and pristine suit. Today though, He was slumped down into his desk chair.
"Anna cut the shit." He snapped as he glared me down.
My heart sank as I waited for him to take my badge and gun. That was the only thing that could come next here.
"You could've gotten yourself and everyone else killed! What were you thinking? You need retraining if you think that's how to run-" Stasiak chimed in but I completely ignored his words and instead focused on the fact that he was walking over and invading my space. He was leaning over me in a way that made me cringe, especially as much as he spit when he talked. "You're like O'Conner made over!"
"Stasiak and I seem to have come to the same conclusion." Penning wave his hand in aggravation to shut Stasiak up. To my relief, he finally did.
"What conclusion is that sir?" I forced out slowly.
"You need retraining." I sucked in a quick breath as I imagined being shipped back as far as the police academy for this. Penning's eyes narrowed as he considered his next thought. "You need retraining and you need someone that can handle you because clearly, Stasiak can't."
He blustered up a protest next to me but was ignored.
"Who do you suggest?" I stepped away from him, trying to regain some control.
Penning chuckled and I didn't like it.
"Sit down, Beck."
Penning chuckled and I didn't like it.
"Sit down, Beck."
I settled into the plastic, false leather chair in front of Penning and Stasiak with as much haughty dignity as I could muster. I decided I needed to handle this by keeping my mouth shut, but that didn't mean I couldn't let them see how angry I was at them.
"You are not well-liked. You're standoffish and arrogant and I'm pretty sure you would steamroll over Mother Teresa and her orphans if it would mean you could close a case." Penning started slowly.
I opened my mouth to argue, but Stasiak motioned for me to stop. I did, even though I didn't like it. It was absolutely for the best that I kept my mouth shut right now anyway; running my mouth would only dig my hole deeper.
"You are so controlled about things, always having a plan for fucking everything, but when it comes down to crunch time, you're a loose cannon that just reacts. Like tonight. You stole an LAPD Charger and wrecked it. They were on standby out of courtesy, Beck. How often do you think they'll extend that to us anymore after this?" Penning sighed tiredly. "You should be fired after tonight and we all know it."
My face was burning red with shame and anger. I took a big deep breath as I tried to collect my thoughts for my reply. My arrest record in Portland was amazing. I had the fewest unsolved homicides. I came with high recommendations from my commanding officers. I had a life-saving medal for pulling someone out of a burning car when I was on patrol.
"You've done nothing but argue with me." Stasiak started after he gave Penning's words a chance to land. "I"m trying to help you. Do you even understand that? I want you to succeed and do well here."
I was frustrated by the fact that he sounded kind. Normally he was gruff and all big talk, but today he didn't sound like that at all. I took a deep breath to reply, but Penning waved his hand to silence me. Knowing it was not time for me to talk, I grudgingly kept silent.
"Brian O'Conner is coming out of a deep cover assignment tomorrow. Not only does he have my full trust-" Penning paused way longer than he should have and Stasiak blew air out of his nose in annoyance. "I think he could teach you how to reign yourself in before you get yourself and everyone else killed."
"With all due respect-" I broke in before he could keep going.
"It's an undercover assignment in addition to a retraining assignment." Stasiak thumped his hand on the stack of files he had dropped on the desk.
"Excuse me?" I felt like the needle had been pulled off of the record in my brain. I had been expecting the retraining, demotion, or firing, but not this.
"Dominic Toretto just struck again in Venezuela, hijacking trucks. We aren't sure what's in them, but they've quoted the shipments as being worth millions." Stasiak explained.
"What does that have to do with me? I don't understand." I turned to Penning who was starting to look bored with this whole conversation.
"There's concern that O'Conner ran across intel about Toretto during his recent undercover assignment and didn't share it." His lips twitched. "I think it's bullshit, but the higher ups want to make sure O'Conner is still on the straight and narrow."
"So you want me to spy on him?" I was intrigued. Some of the shame and indignation of being dragged in this office for this conversation was falling away and being replaced with genuine excitement.
"I think we're going to find that there's nothing going on." Penning said quickly. "And don't forget, this is still punishment. You've got to get yourself under control."
"I can do this," I assured him without missing a beat.
"This is such a bad idea." Stasiak cut in as he plucked the thickest file out of the stack and dropped it into my lap. I fingered the edges of the papers inside as I fixed Stasiak in a steady glare.
"Why? Worried I'll-"
"Get killed? Yeah. I am." Stasiak turned on his heel and stomped out the open door.
"He'll get over. Go home, Anna. Dismissed." Penning impatiently waved me.
The sun was just about up by the time I made it to my shoebox studio apartment. The traffic was already choking the life out of me as I tried to speed back as quickly as I could. It kept getting harder and harder to resist the temptation to pull over and pour over the file that was sitting in my passenger seat.
Resist it I did, and now that was sitting in my armchair, I was having to convince myself to open it. It was thick, and I was so exhausted I couldn't stand it. I wasn't sure I could stop reading it if I started.
Brian O'Conner: The man, the myth, the legend, the new field training officer.
I'd never be a serious agent with O'Conner training me. He'd never lived down his mistakes in LA that led to one of the FBI's most wanted skipping free across South America. I didn't want my name anywhere near his and to hear Penning say we were the same person bothered me to no end. He knew that would, of course. I was pretty sure he had chosen O'Conner as a distraction to keep me from getting up under his feet again and as a weight to hold me back until I could grow up a little.
I flipped it open with a sigh because I knew if I didn't, I'd never get any rest.
I don't know what I was expecting on that first page, but it wasn't a surfer boy with the last name Spilner.