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Lastman

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When Buddy lets him leave the station hours later, his Buick isn't in the parking lot.

"Damn."

Elaine and Mackenzie are getting into a cab, and Elaine shoots him a furious glare when he takes a few steps toward them. Ouch, but he's dealt with his sister's contempt and moods forever, and while he may be a tool, he's damned if he'll be hers and Brent's any longer.

Stan turns on his heels and starts walking toward the Watch. It's quiet on this side of the island; all the chaos around Buddy's mom's house had happened a few kilometers away, and the bars have long since closed for the night. His footsteps sound small on the roadside gravel and hollow as he crosses the bridge.

When he finally reaches the Watch, his Buick won't start.

"Figures," he sighs, and gets out.

It's foggy and dim, sky edging slowly toward dawn, and the sound of his closing door seems to carry for miles. He's about to duck under the tape that marked the Watch as a crime scene - he'd strung it himself - when he stops and tears it in half instead. He leaves the ends fluttering there instead of rolling it up neatly and tucking it away, because in the end, more than one crime was committed there and more than one line firmly crossed.

He smiles a little as he walks down the path to the rocks and the water to sit and think.

They were in Buddy's office when they heard what had just happened at Buddy's mom's house. Stan opened his mouth a few times before anything came out. "I swear, Buddy, that wasn't supposed to happen!"

"You didn't think anyone would get hurt?" Buddy laughed humorlessly. "Stan, you're not that much of a fucking idiot. What was supposed to happen, then?"

"I--I thought maybe they'd leave." Stan ran his hands over his cheeks. His face hurt from where he'd hit the tree, but that was nothing compared to the headache blossoming between his eyes. "You'd figure it out and if the Sentinel printed their names or not, they'd just go back to the mainland or wherever... and it would all... be okay," he finished lamely.

"Then why didn't you tell me when this all started?"

Stan shrugged hopelessly. He'd done what he could, he thought, with such split loyalties. Convincing Brent to work things so Buddy was in charge of the 'investigation' had been simple. "They're family," he said finally. "I knew you'd figure it out."

Buddy didn't say anything, just kept writing on his pad, like he hadn't done anything stupid that would hurt anyone – his wife – today. Stan didn't call him on it.

"It was wrong, Buddy. I know that. Why do you think I made it so obvious for you? Huh? Nobody was supposed to die over it!"

He likes Dan Jarvis, who lets him maintain the fiction that he rents kids' movies for his niece instead of himself, hopes he'll be okay. Hell, he likes most of the people on the Sentinel's damned list of names, to be truthful. Never would've guessed in most of their cases that they're queer, and really, isn't that the point? That they're no different than anybody else?

Everyone on Wilby has gotten up to no good at the Watch at some point in their lives, he's sure. As a kid he'd played explorer in the woods there, skinned his knees and knocked out a tooth on the rocks. In high school, it was where he'd gotten drunk the first time, where he'd had his first kiss, his first (shared) orgasm. The Watch was an education.

The only illegal thing about what the people at the Watch the night of the raid were doing was that they were doing it in public... just like so many others had done before them more heterosexually. But Brent had needed scapegoats to sacrifice for his golf course, and that was the real crime.

And now nobody would know, because those names wouldn't be printed. Buddy would make sure of that before he'd let Brent leave the station. Stan pats the stone he's sitting on. "Looks like you're safe from golfers a while longer," he mutters.

Stan tosses another rock into the surf. What had Buddy said earlier? About knowing where you came from and you'll remember what you wanted? Well, this is where he came from. What does he want? What does anybody want?

He stands and brushes off the seat of his jeans, and thinks again about getting some sleep. Feeding his cats. Figuring out if he still has a career in law enforcement and a family.

The town's stirring.

He stops as he's passing Jarvis' video store, hears raised voices, looks around. Sandra's in front of Iggy's looking beautiful and tired, arguing with Irene, her daughter standing in the doorway ready to come to her mother's defense.

"--refuse service to anyone, Irene," Sandra's saying firmly as Stan crosses the street.

"But--" Irene protests.

"Your business, your gossip, and your hate, aren't welcome here."

"Ever," Emily adds.

"Is there a problem here, ladies?"

"Nothing we couldn't handle," Emily mutters almost under her breath, going back inside.

Irene's obviously expecting him to say something in her defense, arms crossed smugly. "Sign's right there, Irene," he says blandly instead, pointing to 'Where the sweet meet to eat.'

Stan's pretty sure his own business won't be welcome if they find out his part in the Watch Scandal, but for now Sandra grins at him, obviously fighting back a laugh. "Coffee, Stan? Decaf?"

"Sounds good," he says, smiling back at the first person who's made him feel that they're happy he exists in far too many hours. "It's been a long day."

Irene huffs off, and Sandra shepherds him inside, seating him at the table where Irene's been watching Wilby from the window since Iggy's reopened.

"So," he says, thinking back to high school when he'd always been too shy and in his brothers' shadow.

"So," she says, putting a green mug on the table and pouring.

"Any problems here last night?" He gestures vaguely toward the back and its unlocked window.

She looks lost for a moment, then thoughtful. "Oh! No. No problems last night. I don't think those problems will happen anymore."

He takes a sip, scalds his tongue a little. "Locked your windows, then?"

"Something like that." She smiles again, a wry twist of her lips, sets down the coffee pot on the table, and pulls out the chair across from him and sits down.