Chapter Four: SRU Boot Camp

Giles sighed in relief as Ed signed off on his firearm qualifications; he was nowhere near being an expert, but after a week of intensive training, Lane had pronounced him good enough to keep from 'shooting his foot off'. Ed looked up from the paper, his gaze solemn. "Keep practicing," he ordered, "As many times a week as you and Roy can manage, both dry-firing and with live ammo. You're good enough to squeak by, but I'm only signing you off 'cause of the special circumstances, understand?"

"Understood," Giles agreed. A thought occurred and he frowned, just a touch. "But Roy and I have another week here, don't we?"

Ed smirked. "Glad to see you remembered that, rookie." And why did Giles have a bad feeling about that smirk? "Enjoy the weekend, 'cause next week is SRU boot camp."

"What?" Roy demanded before Giles could process Ed's statement. "We're not SRU, Ed," the detective protested.

"Correction, Roy. You weren't SRU, but then you picked a new partner who is," Ed countered, the smirk on his face growing. "I did warn you, Roy."

Giles looked between the Lane brothers, confused. "But you've never insisted I have any special training before now," he pointed out.

"Before now, you weren't a cop," Ed retorted. "And now you are." At the slightly panicked looks he got from both men, the SRU team leader relented. "Look, it's just going to be the basics, but the Boss insisted. You're both cops and there's a chance you'll end up on SRU hot calls, so you've got to be able to handle them."

"The basics," Roy echoed, looking decidedly unenthused.

A innocent looking shrug came from the team leader. "Yep," Ed confirmed. "Climbing, rappelling, a few live fire practice sessions, maybe some negotiating, and a bit of hand-to-hand."

Giles and Roy traded looks, both of them wondering if it was too late to back out…

"The next time I think up a crazy scheme like partnering with a wizard who works with my brother, I'm just gonna shoot myself," Roy groaned as he hunted for the next handhold on the SRU climbing tower.

"Shoot me first," Giles opined from just below his partner, "That way we'll both be out of our misery. To your left."

Roy looked left and spotted the next handhold. "Good thing I'm not afraid of heights," the detective grumbled as he pushed himself to the left and reached out for the small spike driven into the side of the tower.

"Give me a good broom over this any day," Giles moaned, right before Roy, reaching for the spike, lost his grip on his current handhold. The Auror lurched to the side and grabbed his partner before Roy could tumble. For a second or two, Giles held Roy, then lost his own handhold and started to fall; the yelps were cut off as their belayers caught the fall.

"Ready to come down?" Jules called, tilting her head to the side and tossing a cheeky grin skyward. At the dark looks from the climbers, she chuckled and added, "Okay, remember how to rappel?"

"Yes," Giles called, elbowing Roy before the latter could unleash his temper.

"Great. Get in position and tell us when you're ready."

Roy groaned, but Giles, more interested in getting down than belaboring the point, shifted and maneuvered himself into the rappelling position. Once he was ready, he called, "Rappelling!"

"Rappel on," Lou, his belayer, called back.

Giles pushed off, letting the rope slip through his fingers and watching his climbing progress swiftly diminish as he came down. Above him, Roy grumbled a bit longer before he twisted and started his own rappel; Giles heard Jules giggle when Roy forgot to communicate and she refused to slacken his rope.

"Jules, c'mon!" Roy called, frustrated.

"Oh, are you ready, Roy?" Jules teased. "I didn't hear you tell me you were."

Another groan drifted down, then Roy gritted out, "Rappelling."

"Rappel on," Jules acknowledged.

In the meantime, Giles touched down and breathed a sigh of relief as Lou came over to help him out of the climbing harness. Lou gave the rookie a slight grin. "You'll get used to it," the tan-skinned constable reassured Giles. "Couple more times and it'll get a whole lot easier, I promise."

"Just a couple?" Giles inquired, a hint of sarcasm under his voice.

Open laughter spilled from the less-lethal specialist. "Okay, a lot more times," Lou teased. "Just be grateful Sarge isn't going to demand that you and Roy join our training sessions fulltime."

Nearby, Roy touched down in time to hear Lou's remark. "Oh, that's just what Sergeant Gamboli would love," he groaned, burying his face in his hands. "Fulltime punishment for going rogue."

Both SRU constables laughed. "Could be worse, Roy," Jules pointed out. "Could be Ed teaching you climbing and rappelling; he offered, but Sarge turned him down."

"Thank God for small favors," Roy muttered under his breath. "What's next, the live fire exercise?"

"Yes," Jules and Lou replied together.

Both detectives groaned.

Roy grimaced as the live fire exercise started on the roof of the SRU training area. Wordy tossed both detectives a wide grin and called, "We're rappelling in, guys. I'll handle entry, then you two take down the subjects."

"Take down the subjects?" Giles echoed, nerves showing.

"Yep," Wordy confirmed, hauling a highly reluctant Giles over to the rappelling ropes and strapping him in. "Jules and Lou show you two how to disconnect from the rope once you're down?" At the twin sheepish looks, the brunet chuckled. "No problem; Sarge knew the first day was gonna be the slowest."

With that, Wordy patiently explained how to get their carabiners free from the rappelling rope without wasting time and had both of them practice several times to get the hang of the technique. Once he was satisfied that the detectives could handle their carabiners, he latched the two into the rappelling ropes and added a few last minute instructions. "Most of the time, we don't have belayers in the field for this type of operation, but you two haven't passed the climbing/rappelling certifications, so I'll be your belayer. We're going to rappel from the roof to a landing right above where the subjects are hiding. Touch down as quietly as you can manage and wait for me to join you before making entry. Copy?"

"Copy," Roy acknowledged, shifting to go first. Wordy nodded approval, then called, "Rappel on," as softly as he could. Roy winced, but backed off the edge and rappelled down to the landing right below him. Once he was down, he unhooked his carabiner and moved out of the way, pulling his weapon.

Watching from above, Wordy allowed a brief grin before he pulled the rope up and swiftly moved his belayer gear to Giles' rappelling rope. Once again, he called, "Rappel on," and watched as the Auror turned cop backed off the edge, cringing more than Roy had. Giles grimaced, but forced himself to rappel down as quickly as possible. He fumbled a bit with unhooking himself from the rope, but worked his way free without too much trouble. Mimicking Roy, the Auror pulled his weapon, checking it briskly.

Wordy rappelled down without help, drawing two awed/envious looks from the two rookies, though neither spoke. With the exercise in motion, Wordy stayed on task, checking the next room before nudging the door in front of him open as quietly as possible. The trio headed down the steps and Wordy rammed the next door open with a shout of, "SRU; hands in the air!"

Roy and Giles, unprepared for the immediate entry, ended up flat on their backs before they quite knew what was happening. The Auror, however, countered with a quick roll and a hand that flew down to his wand. He got off two Stunners before the 'subjects' kicked his wand away and aimed their weapons at him. Roy, once on his back, just groaned and stayed where he was.

"Not as bad as I thought," Sam drawled, ignoring the dirty looks and Wordy laughing in the background. "You both at least got down to the landing without making too much noise and in the field, Giles, the Statute of Secrecy's not worth your life. Going for your wand was the smart move to make."

"Even if it didn't work?" Giles questioned as he retrieved said wand.

"Give up and you're dead," Ed opined from the opposite wall. "That was your problem, Roy."

"Ed, I'm beat," Roy complained from the ground. "Save the lecture for when I can actually think, wouldja?"

"Fair enough," Sergeant Parker decided from the doorway. "Neither of you are going to get enough experience to make SRU in a week. But read up tonight; tomorrow is hand-to-hand."

"Oh, goodie," Roy moaned loudly.

On the morning of the fourth day, Roy and Giles decided they were done with SRU 'boot camp', regardless of Team One's opinion on the matter. They were, to put it bluntly, sick of training, regardless of which form it took, and more than willing to show their opinions. So the two arranged what they regarded as a prank…

Wordy was occasionally labeled by his teammates as a prankster, a label he wore with pride, particularly after he'd pulled off a prank or three to break the tension or welcome a new rookie. But one thing he – and all the other pranksters of the SRU – always kept in mind…a prank that puts people at risk is not a prank, even if the prankster doesn't intend that result. So when, in advance of the day's live fire session, Wordy found that all of the SRU guns had mysteriously been replaced with identical – right down to the nitty-gritty details – but nonfunctional replicas, he was not happy.

"Sarge," Wordy called, coming into the briefing room with one of the guns, "We got a problem."

Sarge looked up, one eyebrow hiking at the grim expression on the constable's face. "What's wrong, Wordy?"

"Take a good look," Wordy replied, sliding the gun across the table to his boss. "And tell me what you think."

Wary, Parker picked up the gun and inspected it from barrel to grip, frowning in confusion. "Looks like one of our guns, Wordy."

"Break it down, Sarge."

Confused, but game, the Sergeant obliged…and finally realized why his constable was so angry. "No firing pin," he growled, looking up. "The other guns…?"

"All of 'em, Sarge," Wordy confirmed with a sharp nod. "These aren't our guns, Sarge. Jules has a little mark on her gun, 'cause her sidearm's a Glock 26 and ours are Glock 17s."

Sarge's frown grew; Jules preferred the smaller Glock 26, but one time Spike had accidently grabbed Jules' gun instead of his own in the middle of a hot call scramble. After that, Jules had marked her gun to prevent anymore slip-ups. "No one on our team would pull a prank like this," Parker observed.

"No, but Roy and Giles have been getting fed up with us and I bet they didn't think it through before they pulled this stunt," Wordy pointed out. "If I wasn't in the habit of doing a last minute check before live fire sessions, I'd never have caught it."

Sarge leaned back in his chair, his frown deepening into a scowl. "Tell Eddie to have Roy and Giles report to the briefing room once they get here. Then I'd like you to make a call…"

Wordy grinned; Roy and Giles wanted a prank? They were sure gonna get one.

"Gentlemen, have a seat," Sergeant Parker ordered as soon as two curious and mildly wary detectives entered the briefing room. Once they were seated, Greg gave them a pleasant smile. "I'm sure you'll both be happy to know that today's live fire session has been canceled."

The detectives' expressions flickered, but didn't change. The negotiator's smile widened and gave every impression of turning congenial. "Instead, I've decided the two of you are ready to tackle an actual negotiation…after a briefing, of course."

Now the Sergeant was getting the reactions he wanted; both Giles and Roy were looking suitably nervous at the idea of negotiating. Standing, Greg moved around the briefing table and laid a gun in front of Giles. "But first, Detective Onasi, field strip that gun for me and tell me about it."

Though unnerved, Giles broke the gun down, just as he'd been taught; while he worked, Greg moved back to 'his' side of the table. Once the Auror was done, he remarked, "Looks just like the gun you've been teaching me to use, Sergeant Parker."

"I see," Parker mused thoughtfully. "So you wouldn't mind confronting an armed criminal with that weapon?"

Roy blanched and Giles flinched.

No longer congenial, Greg slammed both hands on the table, his eyes hard. "I understand the two of you are frustrated; you've been asked to master – in two weeks – tactics and techniques which ordinarily take months to learn. But at the same time, this is an active unit. We depend on our weapons and the two of you pranked those weapons. By this time tomorrow, I expect that all of Team One's weapons will be returned and if either one of you ever does anything like this again, you'll be gone. Do I make myself clear?"

Thoroughly cowed, neither man had the courage to meet Greg's eyes. Very meekly, Roy offered up a, "Yes, sir." Giles couldn't even muster that much; he stared at the ground, clearly wishing it would swallow him up.

After a minute of silence, Parker spoke again. "Only Wordy and myself know about your attempted prank, gentlemen, and it will stay that way." Twin head bobs, but neither detective dared to look up. "Now, I suggest the two of you get your coats and Wordy will escort you to your negotiation."

"You aren't coming?" Giles ventured, doing his best not to cringe as he looked up.

"No," Greg confirmed. Looking over their shoulders, he added, "Constable Wordsworth, they're all yours."

An hour later, Wordy leaned back on his family couch, watching rather gleefully as Roy and Giles futilely struggled to talk two little girls out of making them participate in a tea party. The constable snickered as he angled his smartphone to get the best possible shot of Roy Lane, holding a frilly pink tea cup and wearing one of Ally's gaudiest princess crowns.

The image was sent directly to Sarge with a simple caption below: Mischief Managed.

~ Fin

Author note: Today's Side-Story is brought to you by my birthday today! Sadly, it's a birthday without my family and I haven't seen them in a year as of now, but with the way the world is (and the total lack of any social life), I guess I'd better get used to it sooner rather than later.

Anyway! I hope everyone is having a great day and Happy Birthday to me!

Keep the Peace.