Down the Barrel
A story for the To Protect and Serve PR fic-a-thon
Beta by ScarletDeva
Thomas Oliver had faced death before.
Numerous times actually. It had gotten to the point in his life that the thrill of adrenaline with simple things like skydiving, racing cars or rock climbing paled in comparison to facing monsters or impending death at the hands of weapons of mass destruction.
So the fact that he was afraid right now as he stared over the sight of his standard issue glock at the shaky barrel of the six round revolver being pointed at him by the teen gang banger he’d just run down was a surprise.
After nearly three years as a Power Ranger and five on the New York police force he didn’t think that was gonna happen to him again. But then fate seemed to have it in for him…
“I’m gonna fuck you up!” screamed the kid, who Tommy guessed was no older than sixteen.
The kid in front of him and two of his buddies had just held up a liquor store. Tommy and his partner, Stephen McCann, had been in the neighborhood on patrol, glad of the car’s A/C in the late summer heat and had responded to the call. Stephen still at the store with one kid down with a bullet in his chest, the other having surrendered realizing he was in serious trouble.
That had left Tommy to chase down the suspect before him alone.
They’d run for probably six blocks through the Bronx neighborhood’s sticky heat , barely avoiding street vendors behind their carts and people who had moved to flee as they saw the oncoming foot chase. The heavy smell of food, incense and trash from the late day sun baking the garbage along the concrete made Tommy’s nose wrinkle in disgust but he kept running, his legs pumping as he felt the sweat trickle down his back as he kept the kid in his sight.
Suddenly the kid had taken a sharp right turn into a nearly hidden alley. Tommy had to round the corner around a pair of women shoppers who had screamed and huddled against a store front wall to avoid him. Almost as soon as Tommy had made the corner, he had skidded to a halt when he found the barrel of the kid’s gun pointed directly at him.
It took Tommy a few moments for his eyes to adjust fully after he automatically directed his own gun at his runaway suspect. The dark jeans, dark hoodie along with the kid’s dark completion; he nearly blended into the brick walls of the dark alleyway, light restricted from seeping into the space by the high rise buildings on either side.
“Let’s calm down,” started Tommy, his hands never wavering as he watched the kid over his own weapon. “You’re a juvenile, so that means you can go through juvenile court. You won’t have to do hard time… yet…”
“Fuck you! I know how it works… we had guns!”
Tommy fought a sigh. The fact that they’d committed the robbery with firearms was a problem. Still, he needed the kid to put down his gun and let him cuff him quietly.
“Yes, but the district attorney isn’t going to want to send you up the river for running with bad influences…”
The kid’s hands shook a bit as they held the gun, no doubt this was one of his first runs with the two older boys.
Behind them Tommy could hear the elevated tracks of the subway as a train passed through, deafening him for a moment before the normal sound of cars and people once again took precedence and somewhere in the distance sirens blared and indicating backup was on its way…
He looked harder at the kid and had memories of working with younger kids back in Angel Grove at the youth center. Karate had been one way to help kids without anything to hold on to find a safe place. He could tell that this kid had never had anyone on his side, other than the gang.
Thoughts of Angel Grove brought thoughts of how he’d found himself a police officer in New York to mind…
He’d ended up in New York after following Kat to Julliard after the long distance thing had worn thin and he’d decided to look for a different thrill than car racing after two seasons driving for his uncle. He and Kat had lasted another year while he attended college and worked odd jobs, like as a bouncer in some of the seedier clubs in the meatpacking district. When he got tired of breaking up fights without any real benefit of saving the world, he seriously decided to look for a way to recapture his ranger past.
When he informed Kat of his plans to get his AA in criminology and then apply to the police academy, Kat had sternly put her foot down, and when he refused to relent, she’d broken things off, refusing to accept what she considered his dangerous new career path. After finding his way, Tommy wasn’t going to change his mind, so he’d accepted the breakup, dipping into his racing savings to find a new place to live while he finished school, even as he continued to work. Once he had his AA, he was accepted into the academy and had made his way through with flying colors.
He couldn’t really tell his instructors when they asked how he was able to grasp tactics, firearms training as well as a variety of other basic police knowledge that he’d been a power ranger, team leader and saved the world for years… so he’d settled for saying that his karate discipline helped.
“You don’t know nothin’! The man sees a black kid and we’re all just niggas to them!” yelled the kid, startling Tommy back to the showdown that he was facing once more.
Tommy had heard *that* word, before. It was something he’d hear on the street but one no one on the force that wasn’t African American would even consider uttering, unless they wanted to be hauled into Internal Affairs. Still it spoke more to him that the teen was still engaging him in conversation than anything else… which meant that perhaps he could still convince him to surrender.
“Look… what’s your name? I can’t keep calling you kid, right?”
The sound of sirens suddenly got a lot louder and the squeal of tires could be heard at the street behind them. Tommy realized his time to get the kid to put down the gun was quickly running out…
“Fuck you!” yelled the kid as he recognized the sounds as well; knowing what was coming at them.
Once the words were out of the kid’s mouth Tommy saw the change in his eyes. There was a split second when he recognized the minute shift and then the gun became rock solid in his hand. He could swear he could see the millimeter move of the trigger as the kid started to pull on it…
Out of nowhere the boom of a weapon discharging hit Tommy’s ears and he closed his eyes as he thought of Kim and…
Seconds passed and he took a breath. Then another… he was still alive.
Tommy opened his eyes and saw the kid on the ground, a kid whose name he’d never learned. A puddle of dark crimson pooled beneath the kid and from behind him another cop, Gabriel Martinez, he thought, ran past him to check if the kid was alive even as he reached for his radio on his shoulder to call it in.
Having seen the kid pointing a gun at a fellow officer, Martinez had done what he was trained to do – shoot first and ask questions later.
“You okay man?” asked Martinez as he confirmed the kid was dead and turned to his brother in blue.
Tommy nodded, unable to say anything.
Clapping a hand on his shoulder Martinez walked to the street to flag down the other officers and the ambulance. Tommy looked once more at the kid, face lax in death before shuddering slightly.
He’d done remarkable things, seen unforgivable evil, suffered impossible pain and heartache but it never got easier seeing people, especially kids, hurt or killed. It just wasn’t something he could harden his heart against. He thought that maybe if that day ever came he would need to leave this job as he couldn’t imagine the violation of trust that desensitization could fuel in an officer of the law.
But the important thing today was that he was alive and he would be able to go home…
Offering up a silent prayer to God, Zordon and any other entity that had kept him safe yet again, he turned towards the mouth of the alley and reached for his personal cell phone. Pressing the speed dial he waited for the other end of the line to pick up. The long seconds it took before it picked up just as long as the ones had been as he’d stared death down the barrel of a gun today.
He felt himself smile ever so slightly as her voice washed over and through him, reminding him once again just what he did the job for every day. He still couldn’t believe how he’d run into her, singing at a club he was providing security for six months after Kat had left. It had seemed… like fate.
“So… I just wanted to call… no, I’m okay, I’m just gonna be a little late.”
He heard the worry in her voice and focused again on her response and reminded himself of the fact that he was in one piece and headed home to her… after a detour to the station for a statement.
“I love you too. I’ll see you soon.”
With that he hung up and moved to the officers gathering at the site knowing that his statement and report on the incident would be critical for the officer involved shooting review that Martinez had coming his way before he could go home.
But at least he was going home.
This very specific story was inspired by what the whole Protect_a_thon was inspired by: a member of the PR fic community works at a law firm in New York and was going to be asked to depose a NY police office named T. Oliver. And so the idea that ‘this’ T. Oliver was Thomas Oliver was born, and the protect a thon launched. Hopefully you enjoyed.