The snow was slowly covering Detroit. The snowflakes drifted into every alleyway, and smothered the world in a thick white blanket. Even in the gloom of the evening, the white mass reflected the flashing red and blue of the police car. There was also a street light nearby illuminating the crime scene with a dim glow. The snow melted around the woman's body, and as the process of coagulation began, her bright red blood began to turn into a dark crimson, mimicking the color of her coat.
Lieutenant Hank Anderson sighed a sigh filled with pure exhaustion, his throat was scraping from shouting, and he could hardly wait to freshen it up with something strong and bitter. He did his best to keep his back towards the alley, keeping his eyes on the two criminals. Both of them were caught, thanks to the fact that they were out of their minds from Red-Ice.
Unfortunately for the innocent girl, they had just enough mind between them not to drown in their own vomit in a gutter.
She was in the wrong place at the wrong time. She tried to protect herself, but when the knife came into play, her fate was sealed. She was maybe in her late twenties, but they were unable to find out her exact age, or name yet.
Hank turned his gaze away from the two stalwart murderers and turned his attention towards his partner. Reed sit on few feet away a couple of steps leading into one of the buildings. Even from this far away, he could see as that the young detectives held a lighter in his shaking hands, trying to ineffectually lite it, cursing under his breath. Finally, a small quivering flame blossomed.
Anderson shook his head slowly. He knew, that they couldn't have saved her life. Both of them were aware that they had done everything. They followed up on the report that someone heard a scream in the alley. And by the time the police car arrived to the alley, it was already too late-
He didn't have to glance towards the girl's lifeless body. It was more than enough to close his eyes to see again what had happened in the last 20 minutes.
He stopped the car and Reed was already out on sidewalk with his weapon drawn. But the blade was already inside her stomach. There was nothing they could have done. And yet, Reed tried. That's why his hands were dripping with slowly drying blood-
An officer called his name, yanking Hank's back to the present. He hesitated for a moment and turned towards his colleague, answering the questions he had been asked.
Detective Reed's cigarette burnt to ash remarkably fast. He took turns from grinding the falling ash into the snow with his booth, and staring at the shimmering light of the street lamp. But what he saw in it, was the scene from before, playing inside his head over and over again.
He tried to help the woman, but the wound was too serious for the she needed immediate and professional medical care. Hank called for ambulance and reinforcements while he turned his attention to the attackers. He almost lost control of his emotions due to a sudden flare of rage. Despite having a gun in his hand, the two perpetrators still lounged at him. A lapse of concentration from his rage was enough for him to receive a blow to his head, and Hank fired a warning shot. The attackers stopped, mostly out of instinct, maybe their brains got yanked backed to the ground for a moment.
The reinforcements arrived soon enough, and they were both handcuffed and shut into the patrol car. Then a sudden hunger for nicotine rushed him.
It's not fair.
His inner voice bubbled up like sulfur in black acid.
These two should be dead.
His legs started to tremble as the adrenaline left him. He hadn't even noticed that Hank put his coat on his back before he left to brief the new arrivals.
His folded fingers started to twitch into fists, his feet were still thumping from the aftermath of the adrenaline rush. He had to lean forward and bury his face in his hands to try to compose himself. But her face, he could still see it. At first he didn’t even notice that Hank was talking to him.
"Hey, Gavin, the ambulance is here, let them check-"
Reed's voice came from the back of his throat, crackling.
"Fuck off, old man. I'm fine." He felt as if his whole body was falling apart.
"Don't make me drag you there, cause I can totally do that" Hank waited for a few seconds, then sighed and started walk towards him. "Kid, they have to look at you."
"I already said I am fine." He lied.
"Yeah, sure. That's why you are smoking your second cigarette within five minutes." Hank shook his head and gestured towards the paramedics. "Then at least come with me, I'll take you somewhere where you can pull yourself together. After that…you can write down your report at the station," then almost just to himself, he added quietly "there's nothing we can do here after all."
Reed was about to reject the offer, but when their gaze met he just threw the half smoked cigarette to the ground and grinded it into the pavement.
It wasn't even three minutes before they were on the road. None of them spoke, and although the phone vibrated in Reed's pocket, he didn't bother to pick it up. He could still see the eyes of the victim in his mind, two brown eyes, the life fading behind them. Nobody could have saved her, and yet, his anger still didn't subside. He looked out toward the half-sleeping city of Detroit, the glittering lights, the huge projectors. His eyes began to water, but he dared not close them.
The car stopped and Gavin glanced around puzzled.
"This is your house, Anderson."
"Very perceptive, detective." Hank stopped the engine and got out. Gavin unrolled the window, and leaned out.
"You said you'd take me to the station."
"No, I said I'll take you somewhere where you can pull yourself together. Come on, get out, I'll take you to the station, but we have to wash the blood off first." Hank was already in the process of opening the door.
Sumo's deep warm barking welcomed them from the inside. Hank was grateful that the dog's warm body brushed, and leaned against him.
"Good dog. Well, let me in" He patted the dog's side and walked into the house beside him. He glanced back over his shoulder. "Take off your shoes and hang that soaked jacket on the hanger. The second door to the left is the bathroom. I'll whip up some food."
The big St. Bernard carefully sniffed around the newcomer, then went back to his owner. Reed took off the jacket that Hank gave him, only now he realized that he was wearing it all the way here. He was emotionally exhausted to even acknowledge this fact, but the anger still simmered within him. He felt a moment of gratitude, and a tiny ease of tension, which let him feel his fingers and toes again.
It was only a moment though, until he had to wash of the blood. His stomach churned, and his throat became dry and rough like a desert. He shook his head, trying to stop his eyes from stinging. He dipped a tower into a little bit of water, and washed his face, stepping out from the bathroom, only after he managed to get his heartbeat and breathing under control.
Hank gestured for him from the kitchen and put two plates and two glasses on the table.
"Have a seat" There was a quite ding from the microwave and soon the dinner was on the table. "Pizza, its pre-made, but hey, at least it's got some meat on it."
"Thanks." Reed took a slice and started to eat with a monotone motion.
"Enjoy your meal."
Sumo also got a cool slice, then settled down with the two men.
"Quite a big dog."
"Yes, he has grown a lot." Hank smiled a half-smile.
"Now I understand why all of your clothes have dog hair on them."
"Use your mouth to eat instead." There was no real anger in his voice, so Reed allowed himself a half smile too.
They continued to eat quietly until the phone rang. Hank wiped his hands and picked up the cellphone. He was silent for a moment and slowly walked towards his bedroom. Gavin tried to concentrate on the eating, and the small noises like the slowly breathing dog under the table. It didn't take five minutes for Anderson to return and sit back, but when he did, he didn’t touch his food.
Silence descended into the room, Reed were resting his hands on his lap and glanced at Anderson with a questioning eye.
"The girl's name was Susan Nass."
"What does it matter?" Reed's fingernails dug into his own hands. He regretted the words as soon as they came out. Hank however did not argue with him, nor did he raise his voice as he responded.
"It matters. It always matters. Because as long as one person remembers their name, a small part of that person is still alive."
For the next half hour they barely spoke. They ate the rest of the dinner and chased it down with whiskey and beer. It was around midnight when Reed reached down beside himself and pet the dog's head standing up from the kitchen table.
"Thanks for the dinner."
Hank nodded slightly, "At least somebody ate it before it got spoiled. But I can't drive you home, the whiskey, you know." He raised his glass, still half full.
"I wouldn't have asked for it. I'll find my way home." Reed put on his coat. He could feel the warmth of alcohol buzzing in his head along with the weight of things that happened that day. Still he managed to force the words out.
"Thanks for everything, old man." He walked to the door then stopped turning back. " Try not to get piss drunk, at least not today."
The door closed behind him with a clack.
Hank lowered his glass and sighed slightly at Sumo.
"I hope the kid will be okay." With a sleepy smile, he reached down and scratched the dog's ear. "Come on, Sumo." Leaving the kitchen and the whiskey bottle behind him, he went to his room, to finally have a resting sleep.