Hours go by before the cops clear Martina to leave. Paramedics take the injured worker away and pronounce the shooter dead at the scene. They want to take her to the hospital as well, especially when they see the blood and scratches on her face, but she insists she’s fine. Her shoulder hurts like hell but nothing appears to be broken. The edge of the desk cut her but that was easy enough to bandage.
Laney’s questioned at length but they eventually let her go, confident her story matches up with what everyone says happened here. The first cops on the scene keep looking Martina’s way. They all know who she is. Everyone always knows who she is thanks to her dad. His shadow hangs over everything she does even after quitting. One of the first cops to arrive apparently hadn’t heard she quit because they asked why she wasn’t securing the scene. Another officer whispered in his ear and he quickly apologized.
Of course her former partner Brandon Tate showed up, paired with a rookie she’s only met a few times and whose name she can’t remember. Their few interactions haven’t given her much confidence in the woman. She almost feels bad leaving him with such a trash partner until she remembers he sold her out.
Tate keeps glancing her way as she gets checked out and questioned but he doesn’t come up to her. After how many texts he’s sent her in the last week wanting to explain she’s surprised he isn’t using this opportunity. Maybe he doesn’t want the other cops to see though. Instead he glances.
When most of the cops have left and only a few remain, Tate makes his move. Telling his partner to go get the car, he walks up to Martina. “How you doing grandma? Got a minute to talk?”
“You don’t get to call me that anymore. And no, I don’t. Not for you.”
Taking his almost comically large hat off and throwing it on the ground, he gets right in her face. “Come on, you don’t get to play this game forever. We’re supposed to be friends.”
“Friends have each other’s backs. You didn’t. So we’re not friends anymore.” Remembering the sports peppers and onions she had for lunch, she takes his closeness as a chance to breathe in his face. He always hated her breath.
He cringes away and crinkles his nose. “We disagree on one thing and suddenly I don’t have your back? By the way, you need a mint. What’d you eat for lunch, a raw onion?”
“Two of them. You didn’t have to agree with me, you just needed to back me up. The captain still wasn’t going to change his mind but I wouldn’t have been alone in there. Maybe I wouldn’t have quit.”
They stare at each other for a minute before Martina can’t help but laugh. She’s still mad at the man but she’s always loved messing with him. She’s missed it. Tate turns serious. “Are you okay? You sure you aren’t hurt too bad?”
“I can handle myself. You know that better than anyone. How’d you end up over here anyway? This isn’t our route. Did they reassign you to go along with the shit new partner? Captain punishing you for me quitting?”
“I’m not being punished. I’m the senior officer now. I get to mentor a young officer who yes, has a few opportunities. I think she can be good though. I was a rookie when they assigned me to you. Was that a punishment?”
“Yes actually. Captain always loved punishing me. I was too awesome though and I managed to turn you into something useful. He never saw it coming. Seriously though, what are you doing over here?”
“I dunno, guess hearing on the radio that my anti-vigilante partner is suddenly a vigilante made me want to check it out. We’re not that far from our route. It took like ten minutes to get over here. What the hell are you doing?”
They stare back at each other for a moment. Both are smiling at least a little but this isn’t their normal. She can’t imagine they’ll ever get back to what was normal. “I have a kid to feed. I can have some principles but not too many. Nothing wrong with being a vigilante, the problem’s the cops not stopping the bad ones. I’m not a bad one.”
Retrieving his hat, Tate puts a hand on the back of his neck. “I hope not. Why don’t you come back to the force? Captain hasn’t submitted your paperwork yet. I think he’s hoping you’ll change your mind. Afraid your dad’s going to go to war over him making you quit.”
Sitting on the edge of one of the desks, Martina absent mindedly rubs her injured shoulder. “My dad doesn’t care enough about me to do that. He might care enough about Zoe but it won’t make a difference. I won’t come back unless something big changes and we both know that’s not about to happen.”
“Was it my fault you quit then?”
She takes a moment to think this over. “No, it wasn’t your fault. I might not have done it right then if you backed me up but it was going to be an issue eventually.”
Taking a seat on the desk next to her, Tate seems to be thinking. “So you’re looking for a job as a vigilante then?”
“That’s the general idea. I don’t exactly have a long list of qualifications to do anything but be a cop. Even security guards they want to be vigilantes now. That way they can carry a gun instead of some dinky stun gun. How else am I going to feed my kid?”
“I may know a guy.”
Her eyes snap open and she stands and faces him. “What kind of guy?”
“My brother has a friend who owns a warehouse storing electronics and stuff. People are always trying to rob it because they have high end stereos and stuff, easy to sell. He’s looking for a few vigilantes to work security. It’s not the safest job, they get robbed a lot, but you’d have backup instead of wandering the streets like a crazy person with a gun. The pay’s good and if I put a good word in for you he’ll almost definitely hire you.”
Breathing in Tate’s face again feels good. She’s paying him back in some way for not having her back. “Is their business legal? I’m not getting involved in gang stuff.”
“Completely above board, you can look into it yourself.”
“Is this your guilt talking?”
“Maybe. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a good opportunity. Is it your pride that’s making you consider turning it down?”
“Maybe.” Her hands go to her hips and she closes her eyes. “Fine, text me the details. I don’t like it but like I said, I have a kid who needs to eat; I don’t get to have too many principles.”