by Emily Mills
Comments welcome at: email@example.com
"Harold, maybe we should wait. Your girl's shot," one of the uniformed men spoke
up, addressing Reese's father who lead the group. The bigger man whirled around
on his partner and shot him the nastiest look he could scrounge up.
"Jim, she's my daughter, stay out of this!"
Auset stood then, allowing all of her intimidating presence to come radiating
out, and leveled a glare at her friends' father.
"Who the hell are you?" he growled out, eyeing the tall, dark-haired girl from
head to foot apprehensively.
"A friend of Reese's. You should keep your voice down, we're in a hospital," Auset
stated flatly. Harold just stared at her for a second and then took another few
steps forward so that he stood at the foot of his daughter's bed. She looked up
at him with weary but determined green eyes. He examined her, noting the dark
circles under her oddly vibrant eyes, and her gold hair completely disheveled.
When he went to place his large hand on her head, Reese jerked away slightly.
"You told them we'd be there, didn't you?" It was more an accusation than a question.
Reese had had only a moment to consider it, but when she remembered that her father
had gotten their plans out of her brother and then just left him be, well, she
was pretty sure the man had gone off and notified all the pro-life locals. It
was something that, unfortunately, she would not put past him.
Harold blinked and then backed off a little.
"I-I don't know what you're talkin' about!" he countered. Auset only took her
icy stare off the man for a brief second, her glance going to Reese as that revelation
sunk in. Reese took a deep breath and went on.
"You told those people that we would be there today. There was no other way they
would have known." Her voice was soft but full of determination. The two other
uniformed men shifted uncomfortably where they stood and mulled the information
over in their heads.
"What are you accusing me of?" Harold growled back, his own determination making
a weary comeback. "Yeah Andrew told me about...about that whore's pregnancy! But
ah have no idea what yer talkin' about young lady."
Doctor Bremner chose that moment to push his way into the room and took a position
between Reese's bed and the slightly trembling figure of the police officer who
had burst into the room without permission.
"What do you think you're doing, rushing in here like this?" he asked with one
hand held up to stop the man from moving towards the patient any more.
"Ah am her father! Ah have every right to be in here!"
"Yes, sir, but you are also an officer of the law and should conduct yourself
appropriately. Your daughter doesn't need to be exposed to any further stress
at the moment," Bremner insisted. Harold's face went red with penned up rage but
before he could lunge at the doctor, his two partners each grabbed an arm and
"Harold! Calm down!" one of them yelled into the furious man's ear. Reese's father
seemed to calm down then as he lowered his head and stopped struggling. But then,
as quickly as he had settled, Harold took advantage of not being gripped by the
other officers and lunged towards the doctor and his daughter.
His journey was stopped very short, however, when a strong body rammed into his
front and the force of the impact sent both Auset and Harold sprawling onto the
floor. Auset had seen exactly what the man intended to do and immediately rushed
to intercept him, her own fury erupting at the thought of Harold laying one more
hand on his own daughter.
Her hands pinned Harold's shoulders to the ground and she used her knees to secure
his legs in place. Staring hard into the man's eyes, her face a show of pure anger
and power, she lowered her voice to a menacing rumble and spoke into his ear.
"You will never touch Reese in anger again so long as I live, asshole. And you
will not harm anyone else in this room either." She removed one hand from a shoulder
and gripped Harold's straining neck. "Now I suggest you calm down and get the
hell out of this room before I do something to you that we all regret."
Harold had never lost a fight in his life. How in the hell this woman was able
to keep him pinned was beyond him, but it was true. He could not move.
"Git off me," he managed to growl out. Auset's vice grip on his neck was starting
to impede his ability to breathe.
"Auset," a quiet voice broke into the dark-haired woman's thoughts. Auset's glance
went over to her friend. Reese was staring at her, green eyes tired and pleading.
"Please, not like this." How could she resist? As much as her instincts were telling
her to just choke the life out of the slimy bastard, she would not go against
Reese's wishes. The man was her father, even if he was a complete asshole.
Reluctantly, Auset released her grip on his neck and stood up. Harold took that
as his cue to also get to his feet. He rubbed his neck a little gingerly and backed
up so that he stood with the other two policemen. Doctor Bremner cleared his throat
then and spoke up.
"Would you men wait outside one moment please? I'll be right with you."
The two other officers nodded and then ushered Harold out of the room. Bremner
turned back to face the two women. Auset was still standing rigid, her eyes turned
"Thank you," Reese said and placed a comforting hand on the small of Auset's back.
She could feel the muscles in the dark-haired woman's back in tense bunches, but
after a moment they relaxed substantially and she heard Auset release a long breath.
"I'm sorry about that, but we didn't realize they would..." Bremner paused and
shook his head wearily. "I'll deal with them outside. Be back in a minute."
There was a moment's silence, but suddenly Reese made a wincing noise and Auset
turned to find out what had hurt her. The blonde glanced sheepishly down at the
slightly bleeding hole in her arm from where the IV had been ripped out when she
had gotten out of bed.
"Oops," she said, which elicited a quiet chuckle from her taller friend.
"Let's get you back in bed, huh?" Auset suggested and at Reese's nod of approval,
she helped her to resituate the writer on the mattress.
"How did you..." Reese started, shook her head slightly, and then went on. "I
thought you'd be working longer than that. And then you drove all the way here
from Chicago?" Auset shrugged depreciatingly. "Thank you."
"Nothing less," the hacker stated simply. Reese smiled, really happy for the first
time since coming to Flora. Odd too, she mused, seeing as she was lying shot in
the hospital, her father pacing around outside in a fury. But Auset had...come
to her rescue? Yeah, it sure felt like it.
"What happened in Dallas?" Reese inquired softly as she pressed a hand to Auset's
thigh to get her to sit back down. The hacker looked introspective for a moment
and then settled her blue gaze back on Reese's face.
"Long story. How about I tell you all about it when you're rested and we're back
Gods, that sounded good. "All right, I can wait for that," Reese agreed, grinning
even more broadly than before.
"Harold, is it true? Did you tell them folks about yer kids bein' at the clinic
today?" the larger of the two other policemen asked his still calming partner.
Reese's father's head snapped up and he scowled at the man.
"Ian, are you suggesting that I told that sicko to shoot my own daughter?" he
hissed. Ian threw his hands up in a defensive gesture.
"No, no Harold. Calm the hell down. But did you? Tell them, I mean."
Harold got up out of the chair he'd been sitting in and squared off with the other
officer. "Yeah I told 'em, what's it matter? I thought maybe the fundies could
scare the piss out of those good-for-nothin'..." He let out a frustrated growl
and went on. "That whore my boy insists on seein' got pregnant, an' there was
no way in hell I was gonna let that ruin my son's life! Ah did not know some idiot
was gonna shoot Reese, if that is what you are implying."
"No, I know that you didn't do that. But Harold," Ian went on, internally disbelieving
that the man had actually sicked those crazies on his own children. "This won't
look good at all."
"Fucked if I care," Harold grumbled as he sat back down.
"You're fucked either way," the other officer finally spoke up. He was the thinnest
and tallest of the three, his dark brown hair cut in a short military style and
a days worth of stubble accumulating on his cheeks. Harold fixed his angry glare
on his other partner and scowled. "Harold, you've screwed up one too many times.
There's no covering for your ass anymore, not by us." Here he looked to Ian for
support, who nodded once. "You deal with the consequences of this on your own
this time. I'm going to go interview your girl soon as the doctor says I can and
then we're going to go fill out the initial report so we can get lookin' for the
fella who shot her. I suggest you go home, sober up, and then come in to the station...and
pray that all they do is fire your butt."
The two officers went in search of Doctor Bremner then and left Harold to his
own thoughts. The sudden retaliation from one of his own partners had caught the
man off guard. Damn.
An hour later, the police's interview with Reese was over and the blonde slumped
back in the bed and let out a long sigh of exhaustion. Her side was killing her,
regardless of the painkillers they were injecting her with, and then there was
the grogginess that came with them. All she wanted was to slip back into the relaxing
oblivion of sleep.
"She looks pretty ready to crash," Bremner offered. Reese mumbled some sort of
agreement and Auset grinned.
"If you don't mind, I'd like to stay with...stay here, 'til she wakes up?" Auset
asked quietly. The young doctor smiled knowingly and nodded.
"Sweet dreams, Reese. Get some rest and hopefully you'll be OK in a day or so."
This time all the writer could manage was a soft grunt, to which both doctor and
hacker chuckled. Bremner winked at Auset and then left the room, making sure to
close the door behind him and shut off all but a very dim light. It was still
just mid-afternoon, so Auset had enough light to see the lines of worry and exhaustion
on her friend's face slowly relaxing into sleep. Must have been a rough couple
Auset used her hand to gently smooth a few locks of gold hair back from Reese's
forehead and just looked at her for a moment, glad to be away from the problems
in Dallas, away from Sera. At least for now.
Harold slumped down into the old, beat up lazyboy that was situated a few feet
from the old TV. He had stumbled home, torn off his uniform shirt, and grabbed
a bottle of bourbon from the cupboard. The bottle was currently dangling from
his left hand, which in turn was hanging over one of the lazyboy's arms. He was
so angry he could spit, but at the same time there was a deep sadness welling
up inside of his weary body.
When Andy had informed him of Ione's condition, why Reese had come crawling back
into town...something had snapped, again. There would be no tolerance for such
things, damnit! His father would have killed him for doing something far less!
If there was one thing his bastard of a dad had taught Harold, it was how to discipline
your children. That and how to drink.
He brought the bottle up to his lips and took a long, healthy swig of the amber
liquid and then chucked the bottle across the room in frustration. It smashed
against the far wall, fragments of glass falling to the dusty wood floor in a
glittering mess. His whole damn family was falling apart. As the man it was his
duty to keep the family together, to provide, and it had all fallen apart. I
am such a fucking failure. His father was surely rolling in his grave. What
kind of son did you raise? Damnit, I never could do right by you, you son-of-a-bitch.
Harold stood on wavering legs and ambled over to the mantle that was nailed above
the house's ill-used fireplace. There was an old picture resting in a dusty frame
there, the image depicting his wife, Reese and Andy when they were much younger,
and himself in his brand new police uniform. God, it was the one thing he thought
he might do that would make his father proud. The old man was still alive when
he'd joined the force, but it did no good. His father simply grunted and said,
"Prolly screw that up too, get stuck behind a desk er sumthin'."
Reese's father could feel the sting of unshed tears in his red eyes and blinked
them away angrily. He clutched the picture in one large hand and peered regretfully
at the image of his wife. Ex-wife. That bitch had left him, just like her daughter.
Women were like that; they left.
Beginning to tremble with unreleased fury, Harold finally exploded and hurled
the photo at the same wall where his bottle of bourbon had met its end. Then he
moved on to other objects in the room, tossing them with furious abandon at the
walls and ceiling. After he ran out of small things to throw, he hefted the TV
into the air and, with a loud guttural scream of rage, launched it through the
window and into the front yard. Shards of glass from the window flittered through
the air around him.
Breathing heavily, he sat down on the floor and cradled his head in weathered
hands. There were little pieces of window stuck in his arms and he was pretty
sure there was one in his forehead as well, but that didn't matter. He hadn't
wanted to lose his wife, and certainly not his children. But your goddamned
temper saw to it that you messed that up too. Inherited that from dad too, huh?
Harold lay down sideways on the cool floor and did something he had not done since
he was a child. His body curled into the fetal position, weary and ready to give
up, and he shut his eyes tight. And he cried. He wept desperation, hopelessness,
shame and exhaustion into the old wooden boards that supported his weight.
Andrew walked up the front steps of his house wearily, hoping that his father
had not yet returned. He had come home for some odds and ends to make his stay
at the hospital more comfortable, assured in the knowledge that Auset had stayed
with his sister. Ione had gone home as well, to catch her parents up on what had
happened. Now that the shooting story would be all over the papers in no time,
they figured it best to just come out with the truth themselves before Ione's
parents read about it.
He entered through the front door and immediately noticed the completely trashed
state of the living room. The TV was no where to be found, though from the looks
of the shattered window, it had been tossed outside. Andrew blinked a few times
and then glanced down at the body that was laying prone on the floor.
"Da--sir?" he spoke quietly. The form did not move. Andy moved forward cautiously
until he stood a few inches away from his father. He bent down and gently touched
a shoulder. "Hey, dad? You all right?" There was no answer, and an empty pit formed
in Andy's stomach. He began to get worried. Shaking his father's shoulder a bit
more forcefully, he looked down at the dark stains that were pooling out around
his dad's arms. There were no lights on in the room, and the late afternoon sun
was setting on the opposite side of the house, so it was hard to see much more
Andrew carefully rolled his father over so that he was on his back and then gasped
in shock at the sight of his fathers wrists, both slashed horizontally from one
side to the other, apparently with one of the shards of glass that, he now noticed,
littered the ground.
"Oh my...God..." he managed to breath out. Snapping abruptly to his senses, Andy
leapt to his feet and ran for the phone. After dialing 911 and relating the emergency,
he grabbed a dishrag from the sink in the kitchen and rushed back in to where
his dad was. He frantically applied the cloth to the wound on the left wrist and
tried applying some pressure. He may be an asshole, but he is my dad. Andrew
felt moisture building in his eyes, his mind panicking and racing all at once.
He did not want this to happen. Not all in this one day. Oh Jesus, oh Jesus,
After what seemed like an eternity to the sobbing boy, red and blue lights flashed
in through the broken window and he could hear the sounds of people running up
the front stairs. A few paramedics rushed in then and hunched over Andrew's father.
"Cut himself with the glass?" one of them inquired after Andy, who was just sitting
"Yes, I mean...I think so. He was like this when I got home."
After bandaging the wounds for temporary help, the men carefully slid Harold onto
a stretcher board and then brought him out to the waiting ambulance. Andrew followed
automatically and was herded into the vehicle, where he sat down numbly next to
his father's prone form. They shut the back doors and then sped off towards the
Auset was somewhere between conscious and asleep, her head finding a surface to
rest on in the side of Reese's bed as she herself sat in a chair next to it. They
had exchanged few words before the blonde had faded back into sleep and then it
was not long before Auset herself was beginning to nod off. Their rest, however,
was cut short by the sudden entrance of Andy. He rushed into the room, his face
giving away the panicked state he was in, and Auset immediately perked up. Reese
took her time returning to the waking world and grumbled sleepily at her brother.
When she noticed the pensive look on his face though, her brow furrowed and she
sat up a little in bed.
"What is it?" Reese asked hesitantly. Andrew chuckled humorlessly and wiped an
errant tear from his eye with agrivated fervor.
"Reese...he tried to...I came home and found him on the floor," He stared at the
ceiling for a second. "I thought he was just passed out drunk again, but his wrists...he
cut them, Reese. They brought him here."
She could not find words. A lump formed in her throat and she shook her head,
disbelieving of the news. This was too much. Reese felt Auset take her hand into
her own and the contact was reassuring.
"What do we do?" the blonde finally asked, her voice a mere whisper.
"I don't know. Wait, I guess. They know that we're all in here and someone will
let us know if anything happens, so I guess we just wait." Waiting was the worst
part. At least if you knew, one way or the other, there was something definite
and you could take the appropriate action. When you had to wait, everything was
totally out of your control. Reese hated that feeling almost as much as Auset
did. Reese's stomach was in knots, turning over on itself, and her mind threatened
to just shut down.
"Reese?" a voice cut into her hearing then. Reese turned dazed eyes on the woman
seated next to her.
"Are you gonna be OK?" Auset asked, concerned at the white flush her friend's
face had taken on. Reese smiled absently and lowered her gaze to their clasped
"I don't know." She shook her head. "I don't know." Andrew came over and stood
on the other side of the bed and the three of them just existed in silence for
a number of moments.
After some time, Dr. Bremner quietly ambled into the room, looking rather worse-for-wear
as well. His eyes were pleased, however, as he approched the three.
"He's going to be fine." There was an audible sigh of relief. "The damage to the
wrists was not done in such a manner that he didn't lose much blood, and since
you..." here he nodded at Andy, who smiled slightly. "...since you found him when
you did, we had enough time. He should be coming around in the next hour or so,
if you'd like to see him then."
Reese and Andrew nodded and murmered their appreciation to the doctor before he
smiled and took his leave of them once again.
"It's so strange. I can't hate him, Auset, I just can't. He's done horrible things
to us all, but he's my father." Reese's eyes were full of moisture. Without thinking,
Auset lifted a finger to wipe away a tear that had escaped down the blonde's cheek.
"I didn't know what to think. I was almost...relieved. But I don't want him to
die, just to get help. Maybe now everyone will believe us and make him get that
"I hope so," the dark-haired woman agreed, smiling reassuringly. Andrew shuffled
his feet nervously, drawing blue and green gazes to himself.
"Go ahead and find out when you can see him," Reese suggested. "I doubt they'll
let me get up, so you go on. Let me know...how he is." Andrew shrugged and then
left the room. Reese looked back over at her silent companion.
"One hell of a day."
Auset chuckled. "That's one way to put it. You are a trooper, kiddo."
"I feel like I've been hit by a truck."
"You look like it too," the hacker added teasingly. Reese scowled at her and poked
her in the shoulder. Auset just chuckled and poked her friend back, allbeit not
with as much force.
"Harold, you're being given an honorable discharge due to disablity. You'll be
given good severence pay and help paying for your treatment."
"My treatment?" he asked skeptically.
"You're to become an out patient with the Mental Health Clinic here in town. You've
got some issues to deal with, we want you to get better," the officer replied.
Harold sank his head back into the pillow and stared up at the tiled ceiling of
his hospital room. Closing his eyes, he nodded. "I'll see you around buddy, get
better soon, OK?"
"Yeah. Thanks," Harold said quietly. His friend left the room and the now ex-police
officer sighed out a long breath and just lay motionless for a while, contemplating
his fate. Perhaps it's for the best.
There was a knock at the door then, and after voicing an invitation for the person
to enter, Harold watched as his son came through the door, eyes trained on the
"Sir," he half-whispered. Harold almost flinched at the sight of his own son,
so terrified of him.
"Please," he began softly. "It's dad. Call me dad." Andrew looked up then and
met his father's gaze. There was a twitch of a smile at his lips.
Continued in Part 7...
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