Short Story Part 2
Daniel Rivera Jr. started introducing himself as Daniel McDonall after his brother Luca showed up at their house, sleeping in the arms of a social security worker with a note written to the senior Daniel Rivera, his father, notifying him of the death of an Abigail Spellmeyer. He was ten years old, Luca Spellmeyer was seven.
“And?” I speak into the pause on the other end of the phone line, originally having thought that perhaps Ms. McDonall needed to gather herself to get into the grittier details of Daniel and Luca’s childhoods, but when that pause has since lapsed into a sizeable silence.
“And?” Ms. McDonall’s echo comes out as a static hiss, “You wanted to know why Daniel went by McDonall instead of Rivera, this is why!”
“Ms. McDonall, Daniel was sixteen-”
“Is sixteen- just because you haven’t found him, Morgan Sharp-” She spits out the words with a serpentine venom, “- Does not mean my son is dead!”
“- Yet you stated that Luca… arrived… when Daniel was ten. What happened for those six years between?”
“Ask my husband.” Ms. McDonall drawls sarcastically.
“Ms. McDonall, it would be easiest if you-” The connection dies abruptly. I let the phone scream loud dial-tones in my ear for a moment before eventually, slowly, setting it down on the receiver. Almost immediately a sharp knock resounds at the door. “Come in.”
Eleanor slowly, purposefully pushes the door open, “I hope you’ll forgive me, but I couldn’t help but listen in.”
“Your desk is right outside my office, Eleanor, I don’t think you would’ve been able to avoid hearing that if you tried.”
She considers my words with a pursed expression, before nodding in agreement. “Well, anyway, I did some digging as to why it was Mrs- er- Ms. McDonall was still showing up as Mrs. Rivera in our system.” Folding my hands on my desk, I watch as Eleanor steps aside, allowing Mikel, who had apparently been waiting behind her, strides confidently into the room, waving a small collection of papers in his hand.
“Would’ja believe it, Cap’n, that it wasn’t just the system screwing up again? But just some more family dirt dug up in this beautiful little case of ours.” He slaps the papers atop my desk, lips peeling back from his teeth triumphantly.
I look to Eleanor for a more direct answer, she steps around Mikel, spreading the papers out in a neat row, “Daniel Rivera Sr. and Cristina McDonall never filed for a divorce.” She taps the fifth and last paper neatly, “Until Ms. McDonall tried to- about one month ago.”
I turn the paper to face me, “November 28...”
“Just a bit curious how that’s only a week before the murder… and the kidnapping- of his own two sons, if I might add.” Mikel fills the room with that cloudy thought hanging over everyone’s head.
“But it’s not enough to prove he’s guilty.” Eleanor cautions him.
Mikel holds out his hands, “I’m not saying that the guy is!” He pulls up one of the two chairs by the desk, flipping it around so that he can sit on it and sling his arms over the back, “What I am saying, though, is that either we need to give Mr. Rivera a li’l visit, or he’s gonna have to visit us.”
“Mikel!” Eleanor snaps, her jaw hangs open, eyes glimmering with slight exasperation, “We’re not on some crime television show…! We can’t just- just barge into his house unannounced. We need a search warrant, or an arrest warrant if we really think he… might play some part in what happened.”
“We don’t have the time.” Both of them turn to face me when I speak up. “If there’s even the slightest possibility that Daniel Rivera Sr. killed those two boys and kidnapped Luca and Daniel Jr. then we can’t waste any time in making sure that they’re safe.” I pick up the phone again, standing as I do so when a sudden wave of antsy energy rushes through me. Eleanor opens her mouth to protest. “There won’t be any more kid’s corpses on these docks.”
She holds my gaze, staring me down, but her jaw slowly shuts. “You still can’t do anything in the system without a warrant.”
“Oh, Ellie, Ellie” Mikel laughs, “There’s always a way around the system.”
“Do you have a suggestion?”
Mikel rocks back in his chair ever so slightly, “Of course I do!” He turns to face me, and despite that impish smile there’s a stern, serious glint to his eyes, “Call him to make a testimony at his house. We three go and then you do what you did with the Laurens and say that the two of you,” He points to Eleanor and then myself, “Are going to take a look at Daniel and Luca’s rooms, respectively. The fact that you just so happened to end up looking elsewhere in the house becomes little more than a small feat of getting lost.”
“So lost that we end up thoroughly searching every room in the house for incriminating evidence of arson, murder, and kidnapping?” Eleanor shakes her head.
“You underestimate just how lost one can get. Come to the city with me sometime, you’ll see.”
“Mikel, how long do you think you’d be able to distract him?” Mikel faces me once more, sobering up a considerable amount as he mulls over the question.
“Depends,” Mikel shrugs, “I haven’t met the guy yet and I’d need to get a good read on him to figure out whether or not he’s the chatty type. Not to mention I’d have to do this all under the guise of an actual interview, and there’s only so many questions I can ask before any sane person gets suspicious. But if he really is guilty of all this then we might not have to worry about that last part.”
“So you want us to search the house of a man who is either completely innocent, or managed to sneak a bomb of some kind into a populated wharf and then blow up two boys? Without a solid sense of how long we’ll have to do so?” Eleanor speaks slowly.
“Well, most of those details are irrelevant to the search itself, Ellie. Just think of it as find and go seek, count to one-hundred if you don’t trust me, then shout olly-olly-oxenfree and come back if you really want. Otherwise, I’ll let you know when he’s getting antsy.”
“However seems natural at the time.”
“We have to try it.” I stare at the papers on the desk, the manilla folder still out from the last time I poured through its sparse contents. “We have to.”
“If it doesn’t work,” Mikel starts to stand, pushing the chair back into place, “We’re at least supposed to interview him, anyway.”
Daniel Rivera Sr. lives nearby the wharf… a fact that certainly made Eleanor’s calm facade break momentarily into an expression of surprise. The house is small with vanilla paint over red brick and a tiled roof, it’s squished, townhouse-style, between two near identical buildings, with the most distinctive aspect of Mr. Rivera’s abode being the bundles of fake flowers pushed into a real flower pot that hangs outside his window, bright pink and red against the otherwise barren urban winter. I step up to the door, with Mikel right behind me and Eleanor lagging back a bit as she surveys the surrounding area. The doorbell chimes with a long, melodic tune that echoes around, muffled by the door. The man who opens the door has a square jaw and tired brown eyes, a sad smile lighting his face when he sees Mikel and Eleanor’s uniforms behind me. He’d expected us… considering we called him to set up the appointment.
“Come on in, no reason to freeze outside.” He stands astride the door, waving the three of us into his house hurriedly. “Would you like to hang your coats? There’s a fire already warming the living room- sit, rest, you three must be freezing.”
“No, thank you.” Eleanor politely refuses, “We won’t take much of your time, sir.”
“Nonsense,” Mr. Rivera has deep lines by his nose and mouth, the kind that make for a bright grin like Mikel’s, but now seem only to be used for a melancholy ghost of such. “You’re here so I can help you find my sons, correct? If that is so… then take as long as you need and I’ll… I’ll do whatever I can.”
“Officer Bosque will be handling that,” I shrug towards Mikel, who extends his hand in greeting, “Officer Pike and I were hoping it’d be alright to take a look at the boys rooms while Officer Bosque interviews you?”
Mr. Rivera nods slowly, “Of course, but first, sit and have some tea. I insist,” He adds when he catches Eleanor’s hesitant glance towards me, “It’s too cold to do anything else, and I have all day free for you to snoop into my private laugh.” The joke is coupled with a weak laugh, Mikel does his best to match it with a soft chuckle of his own, but Eleanor’s face remains cold as steel, I remain silent.
“Alright,” I acquiesce, Eleanor’s eyes slide over and catch my own, but I keep staring towards Mr. Rivera, “Tea it is, then.”
“Fantastic! You can wait in the living room,” Mr. Rivera points through a doorway, towards a crackling fire, “I’ll be right back.”
Once we go through our doorway, and Mr. Rivera disappears around the corner, Eleanor tugs me closer to herself and Mikel, “Sharp, what are you doing?”
“You wanted a time limit,” I whisper, “This is Mikel’s chance to get us one, get a read on him.”
“He seems nice.” Mikel pipes in. “I kinda… feel a little guilty, honestly. It seems like he really misses his sons.”
“You were the one to suggested this!” Eleanor reminds him.
“I know,” Mikel shrugs, his eyes located somewhere distant, “I just… I still think it’s a good idea to look around- don’t get me wrong, but I… well, I won’t be surprised if we don’t find anything, is all I’m saying.”
Eventually he seems to slide back into the present, catching Eleanor’s gaze, “Oh come on, Ellie, you can’t seriously say he doesn’t seem depressed by what’s happened, can you?”
“I’m reserving my judgement. Like I should.”
“Everyone is innocent until proven guilty,” I remind the both of them, “Now stop fighting, and focus.”
A few minutes later, Mr. Rivera comes through the open doorway once more, juggling four cups in his bare hands. Eleanor stands to help him but Mr. Rivera shakes his head, “No, no,” He turns away from her help,
“They’re hot, you’ll burn your hands.”
“But what about yo…” Eleanor trails off as her line of sight falls down to Mr. Rivera’s hands, which glow a soft ember orange color as he sets the cups down on the table.
“You have powers.” I comment, half to myself, as Mr. Rivera stands straight once more. He laughs, bashfully, a sudden wave of sheepishness overtaking his features as he rubs his hands together self-consciously.
“Nothing quite so fantastic, I’m afraid.” He squeezes them together, the glow slowly fading, “I can heat my hands up to boil water or cook, which saves quite a bit of money, and I don’t have to worry about being burned in the kitchen, which saves quite a bit of pain…” Another quiet bout of laughter, “But I’m no hero. Far too old to go running around saving the world and all that.” He shakes his head, “Though I appreciate those who are able to do more than I.”
Mr. Rivera takes a seat, clutching his mug between his hands. Mikel sits straighter, and takes a breath to begin the conversation-
“Mr. Rivera, why did you and Ms. McDonall wait until a month ago to file for a divorce?” It’s almost eerie, the way every single head snaps to look at me with a similar perplexed expression once I speak up. Mikel nudges me in the side with his elbow, and once Eleanor registers what it is I’ve said, her expression shifts from emotion to emotion before finally settling on a combination of confusion and annoyance. Mr. Rivera, on the other hand, is frozen in place, or so it seems. The only mobile thing about him comes from the steam curling out of the ceramic mug in his hands.
“What my boss means to say is-” Mikel starts in spluttering tones, but he’s cut off when Mr. Rivera lifts a hand, still staring in my direction.
“It’s… fine, I suppose.” Finally shaking himself from his stupor, Mr. Rivera glances into the tea mug before setting it back down on the table, he runs his hands over his knees, smoothing out his pants. “Though… I thought you wanted to go upstairs and search the boys’ rooms?”
“So did I…” I hear Eleanor mutter from the other side of the couch.
“I have a few questions.” I shrug, glancing Mikel and Eleanor, “I think it’d be best if we ask them now.”
“If… that’s what you want.” Mr. Rivera hesitantly agrees.
“Well, that’s fine with me,” Mikel shrugs and flops back against the couch, slinging one arm over the back, “Whatever you think is best, Cap’n.”
Eleanor searches my face for a moment longer, her gaze lingers silently as she nods and stiffly leans her arm against the armrest.
“So, why now?” I return to Mr. Rivera.
“Well…” Mr. Rivera scratches the back of his head, running a hand through curled dark brown hair, “I guess I should… clarify. Cristina and I- the plan was never to divorce. We wanted-” He stops, swallows heavily, “Well, I wanted, to give the boys a normal childhood. As normal as it could be, considering… The circumstances with which Luca came into our lives. Cristina wanted, reasonably, to leave. I promised that it would just last until they were off into the world on their own. Then we would go our separate ways and she would never, ever have to see me again.”
“Which didn’t go over very well, did it?” I fill in.
“No.” Mr. Rivera shakes his head, then stops, “Well, no… later. At first she seemed to agree- it was the one thing we’d agreed on since Luca arrived. We both wanted the boys to be happy, and we thought two parents would be better than one but…” Mr. Rivera sighs, “It was worse. Much worse. We fought constantly, and she hated me, had reason to- but- I just…” His hands wrap around his knees, “I can’t shake the feeling that this is all my fault. That if we’d split there then none of this would’ve happened, everything would’ve been cleaner and… Luca and Daniel would still-”
“Why?” I cut him off before his train of thought can continue.
“Cristina came to me with the divorce papers to sign, we fought- of course,” A dry, sarcastic, loathing laugh escapes his lips, “Luca overheard, he was eavesdropping- curious boy.” Another chuckle, this one somehow simultaneously happier and more pained, “I think he told Daniel. I think that they… wanted to escape, just for a while. Go somewhere with friends far from home, far from everyone. As far as they could get from Daniel’s mother’s house. So they went to the docks that day- nevermind how dangerous that area is and now… They both acted so distant afterwards I couldn’t help but believe that was why.”
“They got along?” Eleanor’s tone betrays surprise, she sits straighter, perked up at this small detail. Almost immediately she snaps her mouth closed, realizing her words and looking away embarrassedly. “I’m sorry, sir. I assumed, with the circumstances that they might not’ve-”
“It’s fine.” Mr. Rivera shakes his head, “I suppose it does seem strange, especially since, as you probably know, Daniel stopped using my family’s name after Luca came home. But… Daniel is a good boy, I think he resented Luca at first- would barely talk to him, but I believe that Luca grew on him. So, yes, the two got along. They were brothers, full brothers, no matter what the past is.” There’s a glimmer of pride poking through the cloud surrounding Daniel Rivera Sr.’s eyes.
“They left because they found out of the divorce? And that’s why they ended up on Dock 7, to get away, correct?” I repeat.
“Yes. I’m sure.” Mr. Rivera answers.
“And both of them- both of your sons- were upset at this time?”
“Well, yes.” Mr. Rivera’s head tilts in confusion, “Of course they were, we’d been struggling for so long to keep our family together and it just-”
“Everything in their lives fell apart.”
Mr. Rivera nods. I stand up, “I see. Thank you for your time, Mr. Rivera.”
“What?” Mikel is the first one to bolt up, shocked, “Woah, Morgan! What are you doing?”
“You’re leaving?” Mr. Rivera goes wide-eyed. “So soon?”
“Yes. We need to leave.” Mikel is by my side, one hand grasping the back of my arm, Eleanor stands as well, shaking her head at me in disbelief.
“Hang on- Morgan!” Mikel tugs me back, “We’ve barely asked any questions! Let alone, y’know, looked at their rooms?”
“We need to go,” I pull my arm free, “Now.” Mikel and Eleanor share a quick glance, but by the time they start to follow me I already have the front door open, half jogging towards the car we came in.
“Thank you again for your time, Sir!” I hear Mikel shout behind me as he runs towards the car, Eleanor several paces in front of him. “You’ve... uh, really helped us out!” He slams the door behind himself as I start up the engine, Eleanor already buckled in beside me. “I guess?”
“Mind telling us where we’re going?” Eleanor is the first to speak, her hand clenched in a white-knuckled grip on the car door as we speed along the narrow streets near the wharf, sirens blaring.
“Yes, call it in.” I instruct, “Contact the western HQ, tell them to search the Rusty Side for Luca Rivera and Daniel McDonall, then have our office fax them the images on file. Tell them not to open fire, but to use extreme caution.” Eleanor, suspiciously but surely enough, reaches for the radio lodged into the car console.
“The Rusty Side?” Mikel leans forward from the back seat, “That’s on the other side of town!”
“As far away as possible. They won’t leave the city. They can’t.”
Mikel’s eyes stretch until his irises are surrounded by white, “You mean you think you know where they are?”
“I have an idea.”
Mikel sits back in the seat with a huff, “Lotta pomp for just an ‘idea’.”
“Do you have a better one?” Eleanor turns her head sharply behind her, pausing as the message is relayed to the western N.P.D.’s western headquarters.
Mikel stretches his arms out to the side, “I honestly can say that I have no idea what’s happening. So, no, no I do not.”
Once we’re actually in the Rusty Side of Nickelport I begin to feel a lot of the tension and original adrenaline of my discovery drain away. I loosen my grip on the steering wheel as I pull the car into a side alley, the three of us step out and I pass to the keys to Eleanor. “Drive around, but keep the lights and siren off. If you see anything then contact us immediately.” She nods somberly, before slipping into the driver seat and slowly rolling down the road. Mikel and I watch until the tail lights disappear around the corner.
“We need to find them before dark.” Mikel comments, glancing up at the ever fading sky. I pull back my sleeve and check my watch. Five in the afternoon. “Your favorite time of the day.” Mikel comments with a smile as he takes a peak over my shoulder. “Must be good luck.”
“They’ll be somewhere quiet.” I shove my hands into my pockets, the winter chill crawling through the thin fabric of my coat, “Look in alleyways, abandoned buildings, anywhere uninhabited.”
Mikel’s beam fades away, “Are you sure about this?”
“I have to be.”
“No,” He shakes his head, “I don’t mean where they are, I trust you on that.” That confidence makes a brief return at the comment, “I mean… splitting up- will you be okay? And if you find them…? Maybe you should’ve taken the car…” His eyes start to waver towards the ground.
“Mikel,” I draw them back, placing a hand on his shoulder. “I’ll be fine… I have to be.” One more glance at the sky shows me that it’s grown even darker, “Now, get moving. Remember what I told you- it’s just a hunch but… exercise caution.”
He beams at me once more, “Aww, you worried about me now? Come on, Morgan, when am I ever not careful?” He throws his arms out to the side, already backpedaling slowly down the alleyway.
I don’t respond.
Mikel laughs boisterously, “See you on the other side, Cap’n!” He gives a mock salute before turning around and walking off, bouncing on his heels.
Quiet surrounds me. Lights dimly gleam from barred windows, casting broken shadows on the cracked, uneven street. A bag floats by and catches on a lamppost with a shattered bulb, glass scattered dangerously around the sidewalk. I take peak down each alley I find, only to be met with that same sullen silence. I hear jaunty whistling coming from one open door as a woman with her hair tied in two knotted pigtails pushes a ratty couch onto the street, casting me one suspicious outsiders-glare before kicking the couch the rest of the way outside and slamming the door closed. No more whistling. No more anything.
My feet begin to ache by the time that the sun has crested over the squat buildings and the sky’s been bruised purple and blue, just barely enough light that I don’t yet feel the need to flick on my flashlight and expose my presence to this unwavering ghost town. Static crackles on my radio each time I consider contacting Mikel or Eleanor to check in with their progress, but the risk of revealing myself remains too high to try. I spot one abandoned concrete building, like a half-built factory… no, not half built. I realize by the faded sign and rusted up, unused shipping trucks parked in the nearly empty driveway. It’s been destroyed.
The building is wide, taking up three houses space, with a broken down old metal gate in front, the latch missing and one side hanging open at an angle that I squeeze through. The peeling sign talks about some kinda fabric- maybe shirts or pants- the words are too far gone to tell. The left half of the building is fully intact, plain grey concrete with symmetrical rows of blackened windows and two tall steel pipes rising up out of the ground… but the right half has caved in on itself. Exposed rebar pokes out of slabs of concrete that have fallen down and now lean haphazardly against what remains of the left half of the building, deep gashes gore the parking lot, with one truck still wedged vertically between the layers of destruction, its torso crushed beyond recognition, a stain on the asphalt below indicates where oil had leaked and then dried up over time.
This was the site of a heroes battle.
Who’s, and when this was I have no idea, no matter how long I search my limited knowledge of famous battles no recollection comes up. Considering the fact that it's been left untouched for rebuilding could mean three things. It’s a twisted memorial for whoever important it was that died here- most likely the hero in that case, nobody cared enough because it was in the depths of the Rusty Side of Nickelport, or the ground is still too unstable to touch. My hopes remain in the former two. The fact that it’s a factory does, however, give some insight into when this was, considering most factories were dismantled or moved decades ago when the Rusty Side of Nickelport became more and more populated. If it weren’t for that fact, then the thick swathings of rust and dust would be more than enough clue, only barely broken up by graffiti markings from the more adventurous Rusty Side youth.
Other than that, however, this is a place for ghosts.
And, if I’m right, two very scared teenage boys.
I traverse across the beaten, broken path to the left side of the factory, slipping carefully underneath one precariously balanced horizontal slab of concrete as dust rains down upon my head. Inside the shadows are so dark that I find it finally time to flick on my flashlight to get a good look at what’s around me. The light flicks on and almost immediately I am greeted with a rough, suspicious voice,
“Who’s there?” A young voice.
“My name is Morgan Sharp…” I speak calmly into the darkness, I can’t call for Mikel or Eleanor, not now, not when I’ll be heard if I do. “Are you Luca Rivera?”
“Daniel, then? Daniel McDonall?”
“What do you want with me?”
“Your brother isn’t with you?” There’s no response, “Can you come outside first?” I ask, eyeing the broken up ceiling with my flashlight, “This place is dangerous.”
“Not until you tell me who you are and what you want.”
I stifle a sigh, “My name is Morgan Sharp,” I repeat, “I’m a detective and captain of the Nickelport Police Department, I work in the East Bay-”
“So you’re…” Daniel interrupts me, but promptly stops.
“I’m here to talk about Dominic Kim Laurens and Jay Pestia,” I whisper the words, unsure of the reaction, “Yes, that’s right.”
“They were my friends.” Daniel’s voice is equally quiet. “They were…” He chokes on the words.
“Can you come outside?”
I’m not answered verbally, instead, I hear footsteps crunching slowly on debris. Exhaling calmly, I turn around and slip out the way I came in.
Daniel McDonall stands with his arms wrapped around himself, shaking, head hanging, with blood dried on his shirt. The resemblance to his father is uncanny, the same curled brown hair and light brown skin, the same sharp jawline and broad shoulders, you see that he has his mother’s button nose which only adds to the confirmation that, yes, this is Daniel McDonall. And he’s still alive.
“I’m going to call someone, they’ll get you back to the station. When was the last time you ate?” Daniel just shakes his head, “They’ll have food there, just ask. Wait one moment.”
I step away from him, pulling up the radio, first, I wire in my location to the Rusty Side’s HQ so they can send someone. Then, I call Eleanor.
“Sharp! I was getting worried. I haven’t heard from you or Mikel, are you alright?” Her voice pops against the radio static
“Yes, I’m fine. I found Daniel.”
“You did?” She sounds hopeful, “Great, I’ll swing by and pick him up-”
“No, don’t. I already called someone else.”
“What? Why not?”
“Luca isn’t with him.” Eleanor doesn’t respond, waiting, “I’m going to ask why, but call Mikel and let him know what’s happening… Actually- no, scratch that. Find where he is, meet up, then call me and I’ll give you my location. I think we’ll need to reconvene soon.”
“On it.” Static fills the radio, I pocket it once more and walk back to Daniel, who hasn’t budged since I left him.
He glances up at me as I approach, brown eyes voided into blank reflective pits. No fear. No sadness. No emotion. “Can you tell me where your brother is? Where Luca is?”
Daniel stares at the ground once more. “I don’t know.”
I step closer, unsure, “Daniel- I need to know- I need to find him. Your brother-”
“Half-brother.” Daniel spits on the ground.
I pause, grind my jaw, “Luca is in danger, Daniel.”
“If you have any information at all-”
“I don’t know!” His voice comes out in a high pitched, shrill scream, he turns wildly towards me, eyes bulging like a frightened animal, arms flung out to the sides, “I panicked and I ran! I left them there! Dead! They’re all dead!” His hands dig through his hair, into his skull, his legs start to shake, “They’re all dead! They’re all-!”
I grip his shoulders before he can topple over, Daniel sobs, “They’re all dead- so why aren’t I?” Carefully, Daniel sits down on the ground, I keep hold of his shoulders until he’s no longer in danger of falling over, then, I release him and step back. Daniel hangs his head once more, shoulder heaving in sobs, broken by the occasional hiccup.
“Luca isn’t dead.” I speak in a carefully controlled manner, “He’s still alive, but he’s in danger, Daniel. If you can remember anything, anything at all about where he would go, or even just what direction he ran in… You could help, Daniel. You could save him.”
With this, Daniel finally lifts his head to stare at me, his cheeks are wet with tears and he’s still trembling terribly, but he nods, and through quivering lips, he manages to speak. “Dock 9.”
“We…” He swallows his spit, “We were going to walk there together, the way it’s set up we would…” A shaky smile comes across his face as Daniel sniffs and rubs the bottoms of his eyes harshly, “We used to sneak out there, all four of us, when we were young and play on the beams- like they were monkey bars ‘n shit, the plan was to meet at the construction site and walk there together… we didn’t… we didn’t make it there, did we?” He twists his shirt between his hands.
I opt out of answering, I can already hear the sirens approaching in the distance, “You may have just saved your brother, Daniel. Thank you.”
He nods, and unsteadily stands up, wordlessly walking towards the flickering red and blue lights.
“Where are we going?” Eleanor wastes no time pulling the car out into the street soon as my door is closed. Mikel twists around to face me from the front seat as I pull the belt over my chest.
“Dock 9?” Mikel repeats, “All the way back on the East Bay? What about running as far as they can?”
“Change of plans.”
I stare out the window as the scenery whizzes by, Eleanor already has the lights and siren on, making the outside world look like little more than a red and blue screaming blur. I jump a little when I feel Mikel reach over and pat my leg to draw my attention.
“Hey,” His lips pull back in that pearl white grin, “You handled that well, Morgan. Better than well, actually.”
“Mh,” I make an unassuming noise and turn back to the window, mouth covered by my hand.
“Yeah, well, get ready to do it again.” In my peripheral I see Eleanor’s eyes flicker to me through the rearview mirror. “Because we’re about to save another kid.”
Even with Eleanor’s neck-breaking speed we manage to pull up as the last to a series of N.E.B.P.D. police cars, all with the lights blaring and doors open.
“Captain Sharp, sir,” Officer Moran Dubois comes sprinting up to me, gun drawn and clutched in their hand,
“Luca Rivera’s presence inside has been confirmed, sir.”
“What is everyone doing with their guns drawn…?” Mikel observes as he takes a quick glance around the premise. Officer Dubois nervously tucks their gun back into the holster.
“I specifically ordered no firearms,” I frown, “No matter what.”
“No firearms.” I repeat, “Unless you want everything to go to hell. Now, Mikel, Eleanor, Officer Dubois, get everyone centered once more. This is a kid we’re dealing with, not a villain.” Moran is the first to sprint off, Eleanor and Mikel hang back a moment. I glance between the two of them, “What?”
“You’re planning on going in there.” Eleanor’s voice is steady, her face remains expressionless.
“I can’t scare him.” Eleanor purses her lips, a disapproving silence hangs around her.
“Listen, Morgan,” Mikel steps forward, “Let me do this. Personal interaction is, quite literally, my only use on this team.” He tries a joking smile, but for once it comes across as nervous, “Let me prove that I’m not yet out of date, alright? I’ll go in there and-”
“Neither of you should go in there alone.” Eleanor interjects.
“I am. And you two are to stay out here and keep watch.” I unhook my gun holster, gun still inside, and pass it off to Eleanor, “And watch this.” She stares at it, registering what I’m saying, before her face contorts into bright red fury.
“Now you’re just insane…” Mikel whispers.
“Are you kidding me, Morgan?” She flings it on the ground, “No! No way! I will not entertain the kind of stupidity that’ll get you killed!” She jabs her finger to my chest, “You are not going in there alone, and you’re sure as hell not going in there unarmed!”
I push her finger away, sternly staring her down. “I’m going. And you’re staying, and keeping my gun. This is a kid, and I can’t scare him.” Neither of them seem willing to back down, “This is an order.”
Eleanor’s face has gone blood red, flushed deep with a rare streak of anger, but she is the first to leave, leaving the gun on the ground where it lay. Mikel looks sick at the thought, staring at the firearm before staring at me. Eventually, slowly, he bends down and picks it up, turning the pistol over in his hands before hooking the holster to his belt. Shakily, he raises a hand in mock salute, his voice quivers when he speaks.
“Aye, aye, Captain.”
Mikel slowly sulks away.
I take a deep breath, and turn to Dock 9.