Just Another Game of Cops and Robbers
Jason Scott closed his book and sighed. It was late, and he needed his sleep. Tomorrow was a big day. Man, he thought to himself as he turned off his bedside light and cuddled up next to his sleeping wife, I can’t believe I’ve been out of high school for ten years! Am I really 28 years old? Am I really happily married? Is my six year old son really asleep in the next room?
In some ways, it sounded too good to be true. He’d never imagined how much having a family would change his life. But Emily, and then the birth of J.J, had indeed changed him very much from the person he had been in high school. He glanced at Emily’s inflated belly and grinned. And, he thought, the coming child would probably change him even more.
As he drifted off to sleep, his thoughts turned from his present situation to his high school friends, once so close and now scattered to the four corners of the earth... The last he’d seen any of them was when Tommy and Kim got married five years ago. The majority of the gang had been there, and Jason and Billy had even stood up in the wedding. Now, he got a Christmas card from most of them each year, and a return address would tell him where they were. He had just recently spoken to Tommy on the phone for the first time in... well, a long time, anyway. Jason seemed to be the only former Ranger who had stayed in Angel Grove and settled down. That was funny, when he thought about it. He never would have guessed ten years ago that this would be the outcome...
Tommy Oliver’s eyes popped open at the sound of the infant’s cry. It was two a.m. in Florida, and this was the second time tonight he’d been awakened by his newborn daughter’s screams.
Glancing at Kim, who had gotten up the first time but was now virtually dead to the world, he quickly rolled out of bed and strode down the hall to the nursery. He turned on the light and closed the door, and then lifted the child from her crib.
“Aw, Shanny, what’s the matter?” he asked in a slightly whiny voice. “Mommy and Daddy are tired.” Sighing, he began pacing the floor, gently rocking his baby girl. “There there... it’s alright... Daddy’s here.” He whispered softly to the child, and after awhile, her cries subsided. “Yeah... that’s better. C’mon, let’s just sit down in the rocker for awhile... and you can go back to sleep...” He sat, and began slowly rocking back and forth while he studied the baby’s features. “Tomorrow, we’re going on a trip.” The little girl’s eyes widened and Tommy continued his story. “Yeah... you see? So Daddy needs his rest. We’re gonna go back to a far away land called Angel Grove... on a big plane... and we’re gonna meet some of Mommy and Daddy’s oldest friends. They’re anxious to see you, you know. I told them all about you, Shannon Marie Oliver...”
Tommy stopped talking as his daughter’s tiny eyelids finally closed. Then he stood and placed her gently back in her crib. “Goodnight, little angel,” he whispered as he turned off the light and left the room.
by Becky McCulley
“Deck the halls with boughs of holly...”
“Jason, honey. With all due respect... spare my ears.”
Jason turned away from the lights he was stringing around the Scott family’s large picture window. He grinned at his wife, who was standing in the doorway to the family room. “What? I can’t be that bad. J.J, am I really that bad?”
Jason Jr. looked up from his place on the floor of the family room where he sat, entertaining himself with his Matchbox cars. His dark eyes shined as he glanced from his father to his mother, a bright smile lighting up his features. Finally, he simply giggled and returned his attention to his cars.
Emily, too, dropped the subject of her husband’s singing. “So, when does Tommy’s plane get in?”
“He and Kim should be here by dinnertime... I think... provided the weather cooperates.” He focused his attention back on the string of lights for a few moments, finished stringing them around the window, and turned around to face his family. “There. All done.” He walked across the room and embraced his wife, who greeted him with a gentle kiss.
“Nice work, honey.”
Jason sighed. “I love Christmas.”
“And I love you.”
The plane ride from Orlando to Angel Grove was a long and somewhat torturous one for Tommy and Kim. Their daughter spent much of the trip crying and fussing, and Tommy seemed to have been rejuvinated at the prospect of seeing his best friend again and could barely sit still.
“Honestly,” Kim said as she finally quieted the infant, “I don’t know which one of you is worse.”
“Aw, c’mon Kim. You cannot tell me you are not just the teeniest bit excited about going back to Angel Grove... about seeing Jase again, and his family...”
“Yes, I’m excited, but I also have a two month old baby in my arms... Here. You hold her.” She handed Shannon to Tommy, who then had no choice but to settle down in his seat.
Tommy looked down at the baby and sighed. “I’m so glad we’re thinking about moving back there, Kim. It would be so great... to be able to raise Shannon in Angel Grove. And a safe one, at that.”
Kim nodded. “I could hardly believe it when I heard... Rita and Zedd, human? All the evil destroyed? It seemed too good to be true.”
After a brief silence, Tommy looked at his wife and asked quietly, “Do you miss it?”
“You know... all of it. The fights, the excitement... Zordon...”
Kim bit her lip. “He was like a father to us all,” she said, echoing her words from years ago. “I-- I know Andros had to do it, but... I can’t help but feel a little angry towards him.”
Tommy nodded. “I don’t think Jason took it to well either,” he replied, “And I don’t think I’m going to bring it up with him anymore. We talked about it briefly at the wedding reception... man, he was pissed.”
“If Zordon had been one to play favorites, we all know he favored Jason,” she replied. “And Jason loved him like a father too, even if he didn’t show it. And I also know that he’s angry with the Rangers for breaking the code and making their identities known... that was always important to him.”
Tommy didn’t reply for a long moment. Finally he said, “I’m angry with Andros, too. I can’t help but be. But I understand why he did what he did. And if he hadn’t... the world might be destroyed by now. Angel Grove might not exist.”
Kim nodded. “I do miss it, though,” she confessed. “Being a ranger, I mean. But I don’t regret giving it up for what I have now... in its place.” She smiled at her husband and stroked her daughter’s silky hair.
“Me either,” Tommy replied. “Me either.”
Sometime late that afternoon, Jason was sitting at his desk going over paperwork for a case while Emily sat in the family room reading to J.J. It was a week until Christmas, but there was no rest for the AGPD. A recent string of burglaries in Angel Grove had Jason more busy with his work than his family-- which was a bad thing. Jason tried his damndest to never put his work above his family, especially this time of year, but it was becoming extremely difficult.
He looked over the security camera pictures for the millionth time and rubbed his eyes. “C’mon, c’mon,” he insisted of the pictures. “There has to be something... anything!” But the pictures offered no clues, and this was all he had to go on.
“Penny for your thoughts?”
Jason looked up at the sound of Emily’s voice and offered a tiny smile.
“You shouldn’t work so hard,” she told him. “You’re going to stress yourself out.” She came around behind him and began to rub his shoulders. “Tommy and Kim will be here soon.”
“I know, I know. I just... I don’t know why this case bothers me so much.”
“Because you care,” she replied, “And you want people to have a good Christmas, without having to worry about their homes being broken into... that’s what you’ve always been about. You want people to feel safe in their own homes, in their own town.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right.” He thought back to when he had told Emily about his identity as a former Ranger. He knew that was what she was referring to. He took one final glance at the pictures, then put them down and stood up. “Alright. That’s enough of that.” He put an arm around his wife and the two of them headed back to the family room. They had barely reached it when the doorbell rang.
“Right on time,” Emily commented with a grin. She gave Jason a kiss on the cheek. “You can go ahead and get the door. I left JJ on the couch, promised I’d be right back.”
“Alright.” Jason strode to the door, taking a quick peek in the peephole just to make sure it was who he thought it was before he opened the door. Sure enough, standing on the doorstep were the same old Tommy and Kim. Snuggled in Kim’s arms, held close to her chest, was a tiny bundle-- the daughter Tommy had told him about. Smiling, Jason flung the door open. “Happy holidays!”
“Happy holidays!” Tommy exclaimed. He came forward and shook Jason’s hand, but after a moment the two embraced in a quick hug before Jason turned his attention to Kim and the child.
“Kim,” he said, shaking his head. “Little bitty Kimberly... the girl who’s pigtails I used to pull in elementary school... Look at you!”
Kim laughed and stepped into the house. “Look at you, yourself,” she replied. She glanced around. “Where’s Emily?”
“She was reading with J.J... Emily! Come see who’s here!” Jason called in the general direction of the family room. Then he turned his attention back to the Olivers. The baby in Kim’s arms was awake now, and looked up at Jason with wide, wondering brown eyes. “She’s beautiful,” he told Kim and Tommy. “Congratulations.”
“Thanks man,” Tommy replied, just as Emily litterally waddled back into the kitchen, holding JJ’s hand.
Not much later, Jason led the others into the family room. They sat down and talked about the events of the last few years, and how Tommy and Kim were considering returning to Angel Grove.
“It’s safe here now,” Tommy said, “And Kim and I really miss it here. Raising Shannon in Angel Grove, having you guys nearby, would mean so much to us.”
Jason grinned. “So does that mean you’d be transferring to the AGPD?”
“Sure would, buddy. You and I would be a team again.”
Jason tossed that thought over in his mind, nodding slowly. Tommy could be a big help on this tough case-- even if he wasn’t officially transferred yet.
Two things interrupted Jason’s thoughts, only because they happened in almost the exact same instant. Jason’s pager beeped, which triggered a high-pitched wail from baby Shannon.
“Well, I guess that puts an end to our peaceful evening,” Jason said, getting to his feet. From his office, he called the precinct, then returned to the others. Shannon had quieted, and all eyes looked at him questioningly. “Sorry guys... I gotta go downtown. There was another burglary.”
“Another one?” Tommy asked, knowing nothing of the previous events.
Jason nodded. “I’ll explain later...” He strode across the room and kissed his wife and son. “I’ll be back as soon as I can,” he promised. From there, he moved back across the room, picking up his badge-- and his gun.
“Be careful,” Emily pleaded, eyeing the gun. She hated having that gun in the house. She hated every time her husband took it down off the top shelf of the hall closet and carried it out of the house with him. Knowing he had to carry it, even with his excellent martial arts skills, gave her a nervous feeling in the pit of her stomach.
“Aren’t I always?” He hit himself in the chest once, indicating his bullet proof vest. “Don’t worry honey. I’ll be fine.” With that, he was out the door and gone.
“Fourteen robberies in the last 15 days,” Jason said, leaning back in his lay-z-boy. “All of them at night, in respectable, safe neighborhoods... homes, mini-marts... MAN!”
It was much later that same night. Emily had long since put J.J to bed, and he’d been asleep when Jason got home. Kim had gotten Shannon to sleep and laid her to rest in J.J’s old crib, and then Kim had fallen asleep on the bed in the guest room. Emily and Tommy had both been awake to greet Jason, but not much later, Emily had gone to sleep as well, leaving Tommy and Jason to catch up by themselves.
“And you’ve got no leads?”
“Well, we’ve got a picture.” Jason handed Tommy the blurry, black and white photo. “From the security cam at the Texeco station over on Denmark Avenue.”
Tommy studied it, rubbed his eyes, and shook his head. “Man... there’s nothing here.”
“That’s what I’m tellin’ ya. Nothing. People are NOT going to have a good Christmas if they know a crazed psycho maniac is running around out there robbing places at random, and their home could be next.”
Tommy handed the photo back to his friend. “Anybody dead?”
“Two.” After a pause, Jason continued. “A Kwik Trip employee working the graveyard shift and a seventy year old man who was home at the wrong time. That one scares people, you know... it scares me, too.”
“Me three,” Tommy whispered under his breath.
“So, will you help me... Partner?”
Tommy nodded, and the two shook on it. The old team was together again.
A few days passed, and nothing happened. Angel Grove was peaceful again. Tommy and Kim checked out some houses that were for sale, and Jason and the rest of the AGPD worked to find a pattern in the route the burglars had taken. Emily and Kim did some Christmas shopping, and browsed through a Baby Names book. Then one night, a week before Christmas...
“Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there. The children were nestled all snug in their beds...” Jason paused and glanced at his son. The boy’s eyelids were beginning to close, so Jason closed the book and kissed his son softly on the forhead. “Goodnight, Jason Junior,” he whispered in the soft fatherly tone he hadn’t known he had until J.J was born. Then he crossed the room and turned out the light.
Lights on. “Yes, son?”
“You’re gonna catch those bad men who robbed Johnnie’s house, right?”
Jason nodded. “Yes, I will. Don’t worry about that though. Go to sleep.” Lights off.
Lights on. “Yes, son?”
“Johnnie said they killed a man. Are they gonna hurt you?”
Jason was silent for a long time. At long last, he crossed the room again and sat down at the foot of the boy’s bed. “I wish I could tell you that I was always going to come home okay,” he said. “But part of my job is to protect you and everybody else in Angel Grove-- no matter what. And sometimes that means that I might get hurt. But I want you to know that I will always love you, and that I will do my best to always be here for you. Your old man is pretty tough, and I plan on being around for a long time. Okay?”
“Okay Daddy.” The little boy smiled and gave his father a hug. “I love you too.”
Jason grinned and ruffled the boy’s hair. “You get some sleep now, okay?”
“What was that all about?”
Jason slid into bed next to his wife and gave her tummy a rub. “What?”
“You and J.J. It took you quite awhile to get him to sleep.”
“Oh...” For a moment, Jason wondered if he should tell her.
“Jason Lee Scott... what did you two talk about? It sounded pretty serious, and I want to know.”
Jason sighed. “He asked about the robberies... he wanted to know if the ‘bad men’ were gonna hurt me.”
“You told him no, right?”
“Well what did you expect me to say, that I’m invincible? No, I didn’t tell him no, I told him the truth.”
“Which is... that I don’t know. That I love him and I’m going to try to always be there for him, but that sometimes things happen... sometimes I might get hurt.”
Emily didn’t reply. She turned her head away, trying in vain to hide the tears she was trying desperately to blink away. The truth was, she didn’t want to believe what Jason had just said. She didn’t want to accept that he might get hurt-- that someday, he might never come home, even if he hadn’t said that. She didn’t want to think-- had never thought, until that moment-- that he could die.
“An all-night stakeout? Are you crazy?!”
“No, Scott, I am very much sane.” The Cheif of Police showed no amusement in his face. “Now listen. There are five days left until Christmas Eve and I want those criminals behind bars before I put my children to bed that night. I know you want the same. And this is how we’re going to do it. You and every other officer in this building is on call 24 hours a day from this point forward, and I don’t want to hear anymore whining. Tonight, you take that buddy of yours, and the two of you go sit outside that mini-mart on 12th street. That’s your neighborhood, that’s why I’m sending you. You know the area. It’s the ideal neighborhood for these guys. Don’t go in uniform, don’t take your squad car, and don’t make yourselves obvious. Drive around a little, but not much-- just enough to keep an eye on the houses in the neighborhood. Anything suspicious, you call me right away. Do we understand each other, Seargent?”
“Yes sir.” Jason saluted and turned away. This was NOT going to make Emily happy-- or Kim, for that matter. It didn’t make him happy either, that he had to patrol his own neighborhood all night-- but he’d do it, for the sake of his family’s safety. The Chief was right, their neighborhood was an ideal target, and Jason was surprised it hadn’t been hit yet. And Christmas WAS quickly approaching, and he wanted to make sure everybody had a good, safe Christmas. And so, sighing softly to himself, Jason headed for home to drop the bomb.
Things at home went better than Jason had expected. Kim took things very well-- she was used to Tommy doing things like this. Being a cop in a big city like Orlando definitely gave Tommy the opprotunity to see a lot of action. And when Kim didn’t get upset, Emily didn’t either... not really. At least there were no tears.
The little voice got Jason’s attention just as he and Tommy were on their way out the door. “Yes, son?”
Jason got down to J.J’s level so he could look him in the eyes. For a moment, he just studied the boy’s face-- something he hadn’t done since J.J had first come home from the hospital. In that little innocent face, Jason saw, for the first time, his own. J.J had the same dark hair and dark brown eyes, the same smile, and at the moment, the same expression of worry. And he was looking at Jason the exact same way Jason had looked at his own father 20 years ago when the elder Seargent Scott had gone out on police business-- the night he never came home.
Without thinking, Jason pulled J.J into a tight hug. “I love you, son,” he said, trying very hard not to cry.
“Don’t cry, Daddy.”
Jason sniffled and grinned at the boy. “Listen, J.J. There’s something I want you to understand, okay? This is very important. If-- if tonight, or any night, I go out, and never come home... you take care of your mom, okay? You make sure she gets along alright. Make sure you show her you love her, and clean your room even if you don’t want to, and help her with your new little brother or sister. You’re a smart boy, J.J. You mean the world to me. Do you understand?”
The little boy nodded seriously. “But Daddy?”
“Please come home safe.”
Jason offered his son a smile and then headed out to the car to join Tommy. They had a long night ahead of them.
“All quiet on the Western Front,” Tommy joked as he and Jason drove aimlessly around the neighborhood.
Jason didn’t reply. In his mind, he was pleading... please, let me find them... please, don’t let anybody get hurt. And so caught up in his silent prayers was he that he missed a dark figure who appeared to be forcing his way into a nearby house.
Startled, Jason turned his head in the direction Tommy was pointing, and saw it. Nodding, he pulled the car over across the street. “Alright, partner. Let’s go.” He drew his gun and got out of the car just as the person disappeared inside the house.
The annanymous burglar had left the front door slightly ajar, making it very easy for Jason to see inside. Meanwhile, he had sent Tommy around to the back door of the house.
That’s him alright, he thought to himself. But... something didn’t add up. In the security cam pictures, there was always more than one. Something was definitely wrong this time.
Ducking around the corner of the house, Jason lifted his radio to his mouth. “Alright Tommy. Move in.”
“Roger that, partner. See you inside.”
Jason nodded as he stuck his radio back into its place on his belt. Then, slowly, he opened the door, taking care to make sure it didn’t squeak as he pushed it open. In the family room of the house-- the home of one of Jason’s neighbors-- Jason could see a figure moving about, picking things up and sticking them in a bag. He pulled his gun, and unlatched the safety. Just as he was ready to make his move on the man, he felt something press between his shoulder blades and a cold, eerie voice whispered in his ear, “Don’t move.”
Shit, Jason cursed in his mind. Shit shit shit... Now what the hell am I gonna do about this? But, keeping his cool, Jason lifted his hands in the air in defeat. A moment later, the person behind him relieved him of his gun. “Hey Jimmy! We’ve got company!”
The man in the family room turned to face them just as Jason and his captor entered the room. “Well well well,” he smirked. “Seargent Scott. You know, I’ve been wondering when you’d finally catch up to us. We’ve been stringing you along all this while, leaving you a trail to follow, but you were always one step behind. Never quite figured out that eventually, we were gonna end up in your own backyard, did you, Scott?”
Jason didn’t reply.
“Where’s your buddy, Scott, huh? I bet you think he’s gonna come in and rescue you. Not this time.” He turned and called out over his shoulder, “Daniels! You can come on in!” A moment later, a third man appeared, the barrel of a gun pressed squarely against Tommy’s back. Never in his life had Jason felt so hopelessly defeated as he did in that moment. “Your wife and son are sure gonna miss you, Scott.” Jason’s eyes widened. How’d he know about them, he wondered. “That’s right. I’ve been watching you. I know all about you and your family. You didn’t know that, did you Jason? I know you’ve got a son who worships you and a wife who’s going to give birth to a child who’ll never know its father. I even know that your own father met his fate in the same way you’re about to. He was a stupid cop and made a stupid mistake.”
The man was trying to get to Jason, and it had worked. His father had been no stupid cop. “Go to hell,” Jason growled.
“Jimmy” looked mildly amused. “I’m sure I will,” he replied. “But I’m taking you with me, you can be sure of that.”
Jason knew there was no way out. If he didn’t do something, he and Tommy were gonna die right there in that house. Taking a moment to gather his courage, Jason knew what he had to do. Quickly, barely stoping to think, he turned and kicked his captor in the gut, the force sending him to the floor and knocking both his gun and Jason’s out of his hand. Jason picked up his gun and aimed it at the one named “Jimmy”. In the same moment, Tommy copied Jason’s move, but before he could reclaim his gun, Jimmy fired a single shot into the mess of officers and burglars. For a moment, silence reigned. Had someone been hit? Then, Jason felt the sharp pain in his left thigh. Damn, he thought to himself. Emily is going to have kittens when she finds out about this.
Falling to his knees, Jason called out, “Tommy! Call for backup!”
“You’re crazy!” The other replied. “I’m not leaving you! Emily would kill me!”
“Dammit Tommy! Don’t try and pull that hero shit. Get the hell out of here and get some help!”
Tommy refused. “You’re not my commanding officer, Jase, and you’re not the leader anymore. We’re a team. I won’t leave you here to die.”
“Aww...” “Daniels” said as sarcastically as anyone possibly could. “That’s so sweet.”
“I’m touched,” Jimmy agreed. He turned his attention to Jason. “I gotta tell you, Scott, it sure has been a pleasure. I’ve been wondering what it’d be like to have a confrontation like this with you for a long time, but nothing I ever dreamed up could be as sweet as watching you slowly bleed to death.” He eyed Jason’s wound. “I’ll tell you what, Oliver. I’m giving you one chance, right now. I’m giving you ten seconds to get out of here. I have no fight with you. You can leave your injured buddy and go. It’s your choice. But if you choose to stay, I’ll kill you, too. What do you say?”
“Go, Tommy,” Jason choked out. “Leave me. Think of Kim. Think of Shannon.”
Tommy shook his head defiantly. “Think of J.J,” he countered, “And the child you’d never get to see.”
If Tommy won’t leave, Jason thought to himself, then I have to get up off this floor and fight my way out. I’m not gonna die in here. Not this night. And with a roar in pain, Jason pulled himself to his feet. “Then let’s both go,” he said. And with that, he delivered a roundhouse kick to Jimmy’s head and headed for the front door, while Tommy headed out the back. But Jason’s wound was slowing him down and he didn’t quite make it before a second shot was fired, then a third... and that was all he remembered before he fell down and slipped into unconciousness.
When Jason didn’t meet him in the front yard, Tommy knew something was wrong. And that’s when he heard it. A shot, then another. He made a beeline for the car and picked up the radio. “Car 16 to base,” he called breathlessly, “Pick up, dammit!”
“Base to car 16. What’s wrong?”
“Requesting backup at 317 12th Street. Shots have been fired in the house and we have an officer down!”
“Roger that, car 16... officer down. We’ve got help on the way.” And the connection was broken. Now, all Tommy could do was wait, and hope.
Jason was barely concious of the fact that there were three criminals leering over him. The pain in his leg had become worse, and he could feel a second wound in his left shoulderblade. It hurt like all hell-- Jason had never been shot before, and for a brief moment, he truly did believe that he was going to die.
I should’ve told Tommy to tell Emily I love her, he thought to himself in the depths of his foggy brain. And with that, he closed his eyes, and prepared to die.
When he opened his eyes again, he did truly believe that he was dead. Bright lights met his eyes, and he could hear voices, but couldn’t concentrate on what they were saying. He tried to speak, but found it impossible. He tried to sit up, but was held down by a firm hand. And then the voice of an angel spoke to him. “Don’t move, honey. You’re going to be just fine. Don’t try to get up.”
Only it wasn’t an angel at all. That was Emily’s voice he heard. “I’m alive,” he mumbled. “I’m alive.”
Emily’s face appeared-- blurry, but it was unmistakeably her. “Yes,” she replied. “You’re alive. Thank God.” She kissed him gently.
“Tommy...?” He questioned.
“He’s fine. He’s with Kim and the kids in the waiting room. You really gave us all a scare, sweetheart.”
“Mmm...” Jason groaned. Again, he tried to sit up, but was firmly held down.
“You just rest,” his wife told him. “Don’t try to get up.”
Jason conceded with his body, but his mind was still racing. “The men... the men...”
“Are behind bars. When backup arrived, you were already unconcious, but they were outnumbered. Angel Grove is safe now, Jason. You don’t have anything to worry about.”
That said, Jason’s mind was put to rest, and he closed his eyes and fell asleep again.
Two months had passed. Kim and Tommy were settled down in Angel Grove, just down the street from Jason and Emily. Tommy had joined the AGPD, but felt an emptiness at the precinct with the desk next to him empty. Every day, he looked at the pictures of Emily and J.J on that desk and hoped that Jason would be back to work soon. Things just weren’t the same without his partner.
But tomorrow, Jason was coming back to the Force. He had spent the last two months recovering and he had had about enough of it. Although, he had to admit, it had come in handy that he was home when Emily went into labor.
Theresa Jean Scott had been born about three weeks ago, and she was a beautiful baby girl. J.J. had been facinated with his new baby sister for about a week... now when Tommy saw him he seemed more annoyed than facinated.
Shaking his head, Tommy finished up his paperwork and stood up from his desk. As he walked out of the precinct, he whistled a tuneless song to himself. Then he got in the car and headed for home.