Wish I was too dead to care
If indeed I cared at all
Never had a voice to protest
So you fed me shit to digest
I wish I had a reason
My flaws are open season
For this, I gave up trying
One good turn deserves my dying
– Bother, Stone Sour
Saturday, February 21, 2004
Courtland Street: Alley
Dante stared at the back of the ambulance as his partner and best friend was lifted up into the vehicle. The doors closed, and they sped off, the sirens clamoring loudly as the world woke up around them.
Dante turned and blinked at his commanding officer, Taggert, who had lifted his brows and begun to scowl. “I’m sorry. I didn’t—” He took a deep breath. “I’m sorry.”
“Yeah, well—I’m tired, too. We got an officer down, so tell me what the hell is going on. Why were you in this alley?”
Dante dragged a hand through his hair. “We got a report of a drug deal going down. Lucky and I decided to split up — I covered him, and he went down the alley—but I don’t—”
He cleared his throat. “I don’t know what happened. I don’t—I looked away for a second—and then there were footsteps—someone was running—and the shots—” He looked at Taggert. “It happened fast. And the backup—it never showed.”
“There was no—” Taggert hissed, then stalked back to his car. “Dispatch, this is Unit 23, Lieutenant Taggert. What calls came from Courtland and Van Ess?”
There was a crackle, then a pause before the dispatcher came back on the line. “Dispatched a suspicious activity report. Unit 84 radioed in that they were in the area, then a Code 30—”
“Bullshit! Bullshit—” Dante lunged forward. “I called in a Code 8—”
“Check records again,” Taggert told the dispatch, then he put the radio back in. “Falconieri—”
“Bullshit,” Dante repeated, his eyes flashing. “I called for fucking backup, and no one came!”
“There’s no record—I checked before I came—”
“They’re fucking lying—” He stopped abruptly at the sound an engine. He scowled when Capelli emerged from the car and sauntered towards them. “What the hell is he doing here?”
“Taking up oxygen,” Taggert muttered. “Capelli, what the fuck you want? This isn’t your case—”
“Courtland Street, drugs—” Capelli shrugged. “Organized Crime—”
“No, drugs are Major Crime. You have gambling and smuggling. So turn your ass right around—”
“Shove it, Tag. Fuckin’ traitor.” Capelli sneered at him. “Everyone knows you’re a dirty cop, just like this baby piece of shit—”
“What the hell—”
“You gonna protect your new best friend’s bastard?” Capelli growled. “No wonder this asshole had the fast track—he’s related to all the fucking criminals—” He gestured at Dante. “How much is Corinthos paying you to keep him out of trouble?”
“What the fuck did you just say—” Dante launched forward, but Taggert held him back.
“Go to the hospital,” he ordered. Taggert turned his back on Capelli, shoved the officer back. “Falconieri, God damn it, head to the hospital, and get me a report on Spencer—”
“He’s in there because of you,” Capelli called over Taggert’s shoulder. “You’re a fucking dirty cop, and everyone knows it! He was just dumb enough to cover your ass—”
“What the hell—”
“Get out of here,” Taggert ordered, slapping at Dante’s chest. “Now!”
Dante’s chest was heaving, his nostrils flared, but he stalked back towards the paramedics and climbed into the ambulance, which roared off into the night.
“I bet you didn’t even talk to Morgan or Corinthos yet—”
“Why the hell—”
“Drugs on Courtland Street?” Capelli pushed. “It’s the fucking Escobars. How do you know Morgan and Corinthos weren’t here sending a message to them?”
“That is the dumbest shit I’ve heard—You’re pissed because you got your ass kicked over the Lansing case. I got the promotion, you didn’t. Suck it up, and go back to do your job. Drugs are Major Crimes. The Escobars have nothing to do with Morgan and Corinthos. You got the waterfront, asshole. The rest of Port Charles is mine.”
General Hospital: Emergency Room
When Luke and Laura rushed into the emergency room just after six that morning, they found Kelsey huddled in one of the uncomfortable plastic chairs. Her eyes were rimmed with red, her cheeks puffy, and her hair was disheveled. Next to her, Anna Devane was holding her hand and talking to her gently.
Luke ignored Scott Baldwin leaning against the emergency room desk, and led Laura over to their son’s girlfriend.
“We came as soon as could,” Laura said, sitting on the other side of Kelsey and engulfing the younger woman in a hug.
Kelsey hugged Laura back, then took a deep breath. She shoved her hair out of her face. “He’s in—” She paused, trying to gather her thoughts. “He’s in surgery—they had to take him right in because the bullet—”
She shook her head, and the tears started again.
“We don’t know very much yet,” Anna clarified.
Luke scowled and walked over to Scott. “Baldwin, what’re you doing here?”
“Officer injured in the line of duty,” Scott said, but his face was pale as he looked over at Kelsey again. “And I wanted to be here if Bobbie or Kelsey needed anything.” He hesitated. “The bullet perforated his lung, Spencer. They couldn’t wait to operate.”
“Shit.” Luke turned away from his nemesis and returned to the ladies. “Where’s Barbara?” he asked Anna.
“She went up to surgery with Lucky to observe. Monica is operating. She’s the best—” Anna pressed his lips together. “I’m so very sorry. I don’t know what happened.”
“He’s a cop, that’s what happened,” Luke muttered as he put an arm around his wife’s shoulders, not liking the paleness of her skin. She had only just recovered from a traumatic breakdown, so it was up to him to stay strong. “Angel, why don’t we go call Lu and Nikolas? They’ll want to know.”
“Right.” Laura nodded. She closed her eyes, squared her shoulders, then opened them again. She took Kelsey’s hand. “You know how stubborn Lucky is, don’t you? He’s been through so much worse. He’s not going to let a little bullet get in his way.”
“I just—” Kelsey inhaled sharply. “I want him to be okay. I just want—”
“I know, sweetheart. Should we call anyone for you? A friend? Family?”
On a shaky breath, Kelsey shoved her hair out of her eyes again. “I’m okay.”
“All right.” Laura squeezed her hand again, then offered Anna a tight smile before turning back to Luke. “Let’s go make those calls.”
When Luke and Laura had left the area, Scott returned to Kelsey and Anna. “Where’s Falconieri?” he asked roughly. “Do we have any leads?”
“Not as of yet, but Taggert pulled in Cruz, and we’re doing our best.” Anna’s tone was tight as she continued, “I’m having a manpower issue, Scott. We don’t have nearly as many detectives as we ought to. And the ones I do have are practically useless.”
“Tell me something I don’t know,” Scott muttered. He scrubbed a hand over his face. “Okay, okay—”
He glanced up as a doctor he recognized exited the elevator. “Drake, right? Were you in surgery?”
“Yeah, I was asked to bring you guys upstairs to the surgical waiting room. It’s going to be a while,” Patrick Drake offered.
“How’s the surgery going?” Anna asked as she got to her feet. “Has his condition changed?”
“He’s stable,” Patrick told them. “Right now. They were able to repair the damage to the lung, or at least most of it. The bullet hit the liver, too, so they’re making sure they’ve taken care of the internal bleeding.”
“But he’s stable,” Kelsey repeated as Luke and Laura rejoined them. Laura hugged Kelsey to her side. “That’s good.”
“Healthy, strong guy — yeah, for now, stable. But he’ll be in surgery for a while, so come on upstairs.”
As they followed Patrick to the elevators, Laura hung back to catch Anna’s arm. “My other children are on their way, but I want to know if you know anything about what happened.”
“Nothing yet,” Anna said with a sigh. “I should know something when the scene is wrapped up. I promise to keep you in the loop.” When Laura didn’t look convinced, Anna arched an eyebrow. “Do you think I won’t?”
“I don’t have a lot of faith in the PCPD,” Laura admitted.
“After what happened to you,” Anna said slowly, “neither do I. That’s part of the reason I was asked to come to Port Charles and take over.” She touched Laura’s arm. “Let’s go upstairs and wait for more news.”
PCPD: Squad Room
Taggert shoved the cuffed man into the interrogation room, secured him at the table, and jabbed a finger at him. “I’ll be back when your lawyer gets here—”
“Whatever,” the man muttered, but his eyes were jittery and he was practically vibrating. He knew he’d been caught—there was no mistaking the preliminary ballistics report. Or the gun he’d been tossing in the dumpster when Taggert and Cruz had located the bastard.
“Taggert—” Anna caught his arm as Taggert slammed the door closed. “You’ve made an arrest?”
“Yeah—” He dragged a hand over his face. “Not watertight yet, but this moron will roll, and ballistics should back us up with the final report. How’s Spencer?”
“In surgery.” Anna followed him to the desk. “The bullet hit the lung and the liver, so the surgery will take much longer to control the internal blooding.”
“But it was looking good by the time I left. They got the bullet out and I’ve already arranged for it to go to the lab.”
“If it’s not too damaged, it’ll match the rest of the report, and I’ll lock this asshole up.” Taggert made another note before handing over his notes. “I need to clean it up, but ballistics made a preliminary match to a robbery a while back. Santiago Escobar is already waiting trial on those charges.”
“Ah, so we know the gun belongs to him.” Anna crossed over to the interrogation room, folding her arms. “I’m not familiar with the Escobars. Are they a gang? Are they organized?”
“Organized is a strong description for that pack of morons,” Taggert said. “It’s mostly petty crime and drugs in the Courtland Street neighborhood. His lawyer will get here and beg for a deal.” Taggert’s mouth twisted. “I don’t think he meant to shoot a cop.”
“You think he got spooked—” Anna frowned at the preliminary report, which included Dante’s statement from the scene. “What’s this? Dante says he called for back up? Where was it?”
“That’s a damn good question,” Taggert muttered. “And I’m gonna find out.”
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
“I’m sorry to mess up your morning,” Carly said as she passed by Cody at the door and flashed a regretful smile at Elizabeth, sipping tea on the sofa. “I wasn’t sure if you’d heard yet about Lucky.”
“Emily left me a message,” Elizabeth told her. She looked at Jason, who was frowning. “You were getting breakfast, and I didn’t get a chance to tell you. Lucky was shot while he was on patrol last night. He was in surgery when I checked last.”
“Yeah, he is still is. Mama went to the hospital. She’s been there since early this morning,” Carly sat down. “But then she came home and told me that there’s an investigation at the PCPD—and it involves Dante.”
“Dante?” Jason repeated. He sat next to Elizabeth. “What about him?”
“They were on patrol together—and I don’t know if we’re keeping tabs on Dante or not.” Carly twisted her fingers together. “Um, you know, since—”
“Since he’s probably Sonny’s biological son.” Jason exhaled slowly. “I haven’t really thought about him much. I mean, other than what happened because of the papers.”
“Right. We went into crisis mode because Sonny couldn’t handle it, and now we’re—well, I don’t know where we are on that either,” Carly said. “Mama said there might be something about him having issues. Uncle Luke said that he didn’t think Dante would be very popular with the rest of the department.”
“But he didn’t even know Sonny was his father, did he?” Elizabeth asked. “At least—”
“I don’t know. I don’t even know if this is something we need to pay attention to, I just know that we’ve had a weird relationship with the cops this last year,” Carly said to Jason. “With Lansing and the park case—”
“I’ll keep my eyes open,” Jason promised.
“I’ll be right back,” Elizabeth told him. He frowned and started to rise, but she shook her head. “I’m fine. I just need to use the bathroom.”
“Things seem all right,” Carly said cautiously when Elizabeth had disappeared down the hall to the downstairs bathroom.
“Uh, yeah. Her oxygen level is back in the normal range,” Jason assured her.
“Oh, good. I was worried, but I didn’t really know how to ask.” Carly bit her lip. “I feel terrible that you’ve been shouldering so much of the Sonny situation since you came home. I didn’t want it this way, Jason—”
“There’s nothing that’s happened since we got back that you could have dealt with, Carly. It wasn’t the divorce that set him off, but the newspapers and some business issues.” Jason winced. “You haven’t even served him with the divorce or custody papers—”
“I told Alexis we’re not filing until after Elizabeth delivers the baby. I got the balling rolling, and Sonny knows it’s coming, but he’s going to hit the roof when he finds out about AJ.”
“You’ve done so much in the last six months—longer,” she added. “The least I can do is slow this down. It doesn’t feel as urgent as it did before, not with Sonny in all the trouble he’s in right now.” She paused. “I’m also going down to the PCPD to see if he’ll agree to a psychiatric evaluation.”
“You don’t have to—”
“I know, but I feel like I need to do something.” Carly got to her feet as Elizabeth returned. “Hey, Jason said your levels were back to normal. That’s great news.”
Surprised, Elizabeth looked at Jason, who winced. “Oh, yeah. It’s definitely a step in the right direction, but I’m going to be checking into the hospital around March 6 to induce labor.” She rested her hand on her belly. “It’s not as long as I hoped for, but we all agreed that it’s a good compromise.”
“I’m glad to hear it.” Carly touched Jason’s shoulder. “I’ll let you know how things go with Sonny.”
“You really don’t have to do this—” Jason followed Carly to the door. “I don’t think he’s going to listen—”
“But at least we’ll be able to say we tried everything, Jason.” Carly turned back to him, opening the door and standing on the threshold. “We need to do something. I’m afraid the next person he hurts might be himself. Or someone who can’t punch back, you know?”
“We’ll take care of it,” Jason promised her. He nodded to Cody, who had arrived on duty during Carly’s visit. “Call me if you need anything.”
“I will,” Carly promised.
He closed the door behind her and looked back at Elizabeth. “I’m sorry—I told her that your levels—”
“It’s fine,” Elizabeth said. She crossed to him and wrapped her arms around his waist. “She’s your best friend, Jason. You can tell her anything you want about all of this. None of this has been easy, and I’m glad I’ve had Emily to talk to. I know you have her, too, but Carly’s yours. You deserve someone who’s just there for you.”
“Carly likes you,” Jason said, furrowing her brow.
Elizabeth laughed. “Like is a strong word. We respect and accept each other. That’s enough for me.” She kissed him lightly. “I’m gonna go leave Bobbie a message in case she needs anything.”
General Hospital: Vending Machines
Lulu screwed up her face at the row of vending machines. She didn’t want anything, but she also didn’t want to keep sitting in the waiting room, hoping that Lucky would be out of surgery.
How many times was a girl supposed to worry that her brother was going to die? Why did this dink have to go into law enforcement?
She turned, startled, to find Dante just around the corner. His hair was disheveled with shadowed eyes, and his uniform shirt rumpled. “Dante!” She rushed forward and threw her arms around him, burying her face in his chest. “I’ve been so worried!”
He hugged her back, dropping his head into the crook of her neck for a moment before clearing this throat and stepping back. “I came to check on Lucky. Is he—”
“Still in surgery—” Lulu swiped at her eyes. “Um, the doctor said it was looking good, but Mom’s all worried, and Dad’s tense because he’s worried about Mom, and you know, one time Lucky actually died, so they’re a little sensitive—” She took a deep breath. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to ramble. We don’t know anything yet. Not for sure. And we need to be sure. Mom needs it. I’m still babbling on, and you’re upset, too, I know you are—”
“It’s okay.” He smoothed his hands down her arms, from her shoulders to her elbows, then back. “I’m sorry. This is my fault—”
“What? Why?” Lulu frowned. “No. You were his partner, and, oh God, it could be you up there, and that wouldn’t be better—” Her throat tightened at that. “You did your job, and this is part of the package, I know that—”
“No, I mean—” Dante hissed and looked away. “The guy got away because we didn’t have backup. That’s where I’ve been—”
“What are you talking about—”
“I called before we went into that alley—” His fingers tightened around her shoulders, his eyes burning with anguished misery and fury. “But no one ever came, and dispatch said I never called—”
“I don’t understand—”
“The two units nearby—they were a fucking block away—they could have caught the asshole dead to rights with the gun still on him—” Dante paused. “They’re Capelli’s guys. From his unit.”
“Capelli? The guy who screwed up the kidnapping and nearly got Elizabeth killed? What does—”
“He thinks I’m a dirty cop.” Dante released her. “They all do—”
“No, that’s not possible. Dante—”
“They think I snitched on Vinnie and that I’m working for Sonny—”
“But—” Lulu closed her mouth. “You’re saying they ignored the call. That they left you and my brother out to dry.”
“Lucky might die, and it’s my fault.”
PCPD: Interrogation Room
Carly paced the room as she waited for Sonny to be brought in. She’d felt so sure that this was the right decision a few hours ago with Jason. Jason had nearly missed a crisis in his own family because he was busy cleaning up after Sonny.
Carly couldn’t do much to help with the business—and she didn’t really want to—but there had to be something she could do to take some of the weight from Jason. She owed him this much.
“You have ten minutes,” the guard said as he pushed open the door, almost shoving Sonny through.
“What do you want?” Sonny demanded. Carly looked back nervously at the door. They hadn’t cuffed Sonny to the table—and she’d thought they’d stay with her—
She hadn’t anticipated being left alone with him.
“I wanted to check on you,” Carly said finally, taking in the dark circles under his eyes, the sullen cast to his skin, and the greasy, messy curls that spilled over his forehead. She hated seeing him like this—hated knowing how much he was suffering.
“To wallow in victory?” Sonny sneered. He stalked around the room, then seemed to focus on something just past Carly. “That’s right. That’s all she’s good for.”
Carly frowned. “Sonny—”
He snapped back to meet her eyes. “What? What’s the point?”
“I know Justus quit,” Carly said gently, “but Jason convinced him to stay on for a little longer to help. He’s trying to get you bail—”
“He should try harder—”
“You were arrested for assaulting the mayor, Sonny. That’s really bad—”
“He got in my way!” Sonny whirled around, stabbing a finger at her. Carly forced herself not to take a step back. “I wanted to choke that bitch—”
“Sonny, they’re recording,” Carly hissed. “You can’t say things like that—”
“You knew, didn’t you?” Sonny demanded. “That’s why Alexis is your lawyer. You blackmailed her—”
“I didn’t know for sure,” Carly admitted, hoping that some honesty would get her somewhere. “When I told you before Kristina was born that Alexis was pregnant and that you might be the father—I told you what I knew. You went to see Alexis and came back satisfied that it wasn’t your baby.” She shrugged, hoping it looked casual and not tense. “I just never really believed it. I figured I’d done what I was supposed to do and let it go.”
“Until you needed something.”
“Yes.” Carly swallowed hard. “I needed a lawyer who wouldn’t be scared of you, Sonny, and one that would be invested in fighting hard for my boys—”
“You’re stealing my boys from me just like she stole my daughter!” Sonny roared. “Just like that other bitch stole my son—”
“I don’t want it this way, Sonny—”
“Then don’t do it. Go home to the penthouse and make the boys safe—” Sonny lunged at her suddenly, and Carly stumbled back, hitting the door jamb. “I wasn’t—” He stared at her, stunned. “I wasn’t going to hurt you.”
“I—” Her hands were trembling. “I don’t know that, Sonny. After that night—you locked me in that penthouse—”
“That was months ago—”
“It was barely two months ago, Sonny, and you—” Carly closed her eyes. “I can’t keep going over this, Sonny. I can’t—”
“I told you I was sorry!” Sonny said. He dragged his hands through his hair, squeezing his eyes shut. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I say it all the time, but no one believes me. It’s never enough. Won’t ever be enough. The blood. Always on my hands—”
When he turned back, some of the manic anger had faded from his eyes. “I’m sorry for it. I wanted you to be safe, but you wouldn’t do what I needed—”
“And you weren’t doing what I needed,” Carly said gently, “so that’s why I left. But you still matter to me, Sonny, and I can’t stand seeing you in here. It’s making everything worse—”
“Then get me out!”
“I can’t without your help!” Carly stepped towards him. “The judge will let you out if you just get the evaluation—”
“I’m not fucking crazy!” Sonny roared. He slapped a hand against his chest. “I’m Sonny fucking Corinthos! This is my town! My family! No one is taking it from me—”
“What is all this yelling—” Anna stopped in the door, a scowl etched into her expression as she took in the scene before turning back to the squad room. “Where are the guards who brought him from lockup?” She turned back to Carly and Sonny. “Why aren’t you cuffed to the table?” she demanded.
“I was leaving anyway,” Carly said, folding her arms. “Maybe the guard who brought him up just forgot. It’s fine. It’s all fine.” She looked over at Sonny again, but his eyes were just burning with fury. “I’ve got nothing left to say to him.”
PCPD: Dispatch Center
The moment Taggert pushed open the double doors to the Dispatch Center, he knew that something wasn’t right. The volume dimmed, and there were some awkward stares.
He gritted his teeth, then stepped up to the counter. A tall, lanky young man stepped out from behind a cubicle. He pushed a pair of wire rim glasses up the bridge of his nose. “Lieutenant, what can I do for you?”
“I need a record of calls from Unit 84 and any other units within a mile radius for the third watch. I got some of that verbally this morning, but I need something more for my report,” Taggert said, watching the man’s eyes carefully. He dipped his eyes to the uniform shirt. “How fast can you get me that, Officer Murphy?”
Murphy slid his eyes to a man standing a few feet away. Likely the supervisor on this shift, Taggert noted. And the officer was unsure about answering questions.
“Uh, it shouldn’t take too long, I think.” Murphy stepped over to the computer, tapped a few buttons. “I can print you a copy of the electronic records now, and if you want—”
“We’re going to need the physical calls for the record,” Taggert interrupted. “We’ve made an arrest, and we want to make sure the timeline sticks.”
“Right, right. That’ll take a few more days, but here’s the list—” He set down a printout. “Not much action. There’s a call, dispatching Unit 84 to the alley, then a reply from Unit 84 registering the call. They called in again on arrival — a 10-97. And then Officer Spencer called in the shooting—”
“You’re sure that’s a 10-97?” Taggert said, pointing. “My guys say it should have been a Code 8 for back up.”
“If it had been a Code 8, there’d be an all-call.” Murphy slid the copy over. “There’s none. And we had a few units in the area—”
“I’ll take it from here,” the supervisor said, ambling over. Murphy grimaced. “You have a problem with our records?”
“No,” Taggert drawled, “just checking all the boxes. We’ll know for sure when we get the tapes of the calls, won’t we?” He folded the print out. “I’ll take print outs for all the units now. Unless that’s an issue?”
“No,” the supervisor said, smiling thinly. “Let me get right on that. Cops gotta stick together, don’t we?”
“You’d think,” Taggert muttered, but beneath his breath as the supervisor went over to the printer. Dante wasn’t crazy. He’d called for backup, and now Dispatch was pretending he hadn’t.
First, he needed to nail Santiago Escobar to the wall. Then he’d turn his attention to finding out what the hell was going on in his department.
General Hospital: Bathroom
Kelsey splashed some water on her face, then stared at herself in the mirror. Her eyes were still red and swollen from crying, her hair disheveled from running her fingers through it so many times—
Her eyes felt like sandpaper, but every time she tried to close her eyes, she heard the phone ringing again. She heard Scott’s voice—
She cupped her hands under the cold water once again, then splashed herself again. Lucky was in surgery, but things looked okay. She just had to keep remembering that.
He would be okay. He would wake up and everything would be okay—
She reached into her jeans and tugged out her cell phone. The hospital had terrible reception in most areas to discourage the use, but she just—
She wanted to hear her mother’s voice. Someone who belonged just to her.
“Kelsey?” Angela Joyce’s voice crackled over the terrible connection.
“Mom—” Kelsey swallowed a sob. “Mom, can you hear me?”
“Baby, you’re breaking up—are you crying? What’s going on?”
“Mom. I’m okay. I—Lucky was shot.”
“Oh—sweetheart. I’m so sorry. Will he be all right?”
“They think so, but he’s still in surgery.” With one hand clutching at the phone, the other in her hair, Kelsey squeezed her eyes shut. “Mom, I need you.”
There was such a long silence that Kelsey worried the connection had been broken. “Mom?”
“I heard you. Sweetheart, you know how I feel—”
“You said he’d be all right, didn’t you?”
“When he’s feeling better, you can both come to Buffalo and maybe spend a few days.”
Kelsey pulled the phone away, staring at it as if that would change the conversation. “Mom, can’t you come to the hospital?”
“Oh, Port Charles is so far away—”
Two and a half hours. A long drive, but—
“Mom, I need you—” Her voice cracked and she slid down. “I know Port Charles is hard for you because of Daddy, but you’ve been here before. You came when I got hurt—”
“Kelsey. Please. Don’t make this harder for me.”
“Harder for you?” She bit out. “Never mind. Just never mind.” She snapped the phone shut and nearly threw it across the room. She stopped at the last minute, then let her head fall back against the cool bathroom tile.
She just needed a minute. Just a minute. She’d get herself back together and go back to his family.
But was it so much to ask for someone to take care of her for one single minute?
Port Charles Police Department: Commissioner’s Office
By the time night fell, Taggert felt like he had been awake for a decade. He set the plea deal down in front of Anna. “Escobar got spooked and shot wildly before taking off. Didn’t even know they were cops.””
He looked behind him as Ned strode him. “You here about the arrest?”
Ned sat down and took the report Anna offered him. ” Yeah. Pretty quick turn around. Less than twenty-four hours.”
“Wasn’t a difficult case. The Escobars are a small time group of idiots who wouldn’t mind taking on more territory,” Taggert told him. “The guy we think is in charge is Mateo Escobar — he owns a strip club. He used to run drugs under Frank Smith, then Moreno and Sorel.”
“But not Sonny and Jason?”
“No, they’ve mostly stuck to the waterfront. When Corinthos took over, he brought in connections from Puerto Rico.” Taggert wrinkled his nose. “And he doesn’t run drugs himself. Not that we’ve been able to prove anyway.”
“Honor among thieves,” Anna said with a sniff. “Keeps his reputation respectable.”
“What’s the evidence?” Ned asked as he skimmed the report. “Are we going to be able to assure the media that it’s a solid case?”
“Casings matched a liquor store robbery last summer. Escobar was waiting on a trial,” Taggert said. “It’s been in limbo because some of the witnesses at the store haven’t really been much help—” he exhaled. “Esposito handled that case.”
Ned tensed, then forced himself to relax. “As I remember, he wasn’t so good at witness statements,” he said, doing an admirable job of pretending they weren’t discussing the man that had raped Ned’s daughter and driven her to suicide.
“No, but after the report came back, we went to track down Escobar. He didn’t know he’d shot a cop, so once he realized it—” He shook his head. “We caught him tossing the gun in the dumpster. His lawyer couldn’t wait to make a deal. One of the new ADAs is waiting for Scott to sign off.”
“Wait, what’s this notation?” Ned asked. “Dante’s statement—he called for backup but it never showed?”
“Yeah, we need to talk about that,” Taggert said finally. “Dante says he made the call. Dispatch records don’t back that up. At least not the electronic ones.”
“That doesn’t—” Ned closed his mouth. “Why would they say that? Dante wouldn’t make that kind of a mistake.”
“Taggert?” Anna asked. “What do you mean the electronic records don’t back it up? Do you have a serious reason to suspect differently?”
Taggert handed her a copy of the records he’d pulled earlier. “That 10-97 isn’t in Falconieri’s report. He was on the radio, not Spencer. They got to the alley and immediately called for back up.”
“10-97?” Ned questioned. “What’s the difference?”
“Officer on scene. It’s just to keep dispatch in the loop, but they wouldn’t send additional cars,” Anna murmured. “Is Dante quite sure?”
“I wasn’t convinced at first,” Taggert admitted. “I thought I’d look into it, and the 10-97 did make me pause. Maybe Dante remembered it as back up but used the wrong code. It’s possible, I guess. But the supervisor was acting pretty shifty, and isn’t giving a time frame on when I can get the calls.”
“But why?” Ned demanded. “Why refuse to acknowledge backup? Why the hell would they—”
“Because it was Dante,” Anna murmured. She tipped her head. “And I wonder if Lucky’s history played into it as well.”
“That’s my guess,” Taggert said. “Falconieri and Spencer. They both got family ties that make some of the other cops nervous. Turns out there’s a few guys who remember Luke Spencer and his, uh, connections to Corinthos. When you put him together with the gossip about Dante—”
“They deliberately left two rookie officers without backup because of their fathers?” Ned demanded.
“They don’t mind Spencer much,” Taggert continued, “but he’s not all that popular either after he went after a cop—”
“Jesus Christ, they’re holding the Esposito case against them? Lucky for breaking the case open and Dante for testifying—” Ned’s eyes bulged. “How is that—” He took a deep breath. “Can we prove it?”
“I’m working on it. I don’t think it started at dispatch. I think it went the way it was supposed to,” Taggert said. “Dante called for backup and the all-call went out. Capelli was with a unit a few blocks away on a stake out.”
“Capelli,” Ned muttered, tilting his eyes to the ceiling. “Of course.”
“If he ignores the call, that’s a big deal. Maybe he didn’t think it was serious. Maybe he didn’t think there’d be a shooting. I don’t know. I just—” Taggert looked at Anna. “He showed up at the scene, even though he didn’t have a reason. It’s not a Organized Crime case. But he came anyway.”
Anna grimaced. “I know we’ve been having issues with Capelli, but this would be a new low—”
“Major Crimes has gotten nothing but shit from the other departments since everything went down,” Taggert interrupted. “I got a lot of flack for how closely I worked with Morgan on the Lansing and Esposito cases. I didn’t have a choice,” he reminded Anna. “Elizabeth was the star witness in both—and she’s a package deal. If I don’t play nice with Morgan, we’d be out in the cold—Baker might not have opened up and, then we’re not back in time—”
“No one is saying—” Anna sighed. “No one in this office—” They both paused as someone knocked on the door. “Come in.”
Dante stepped over the threshold, blinking at the mayor and Taggert. “Uh, I can come back—”
“No, no. Come in—”
“This won’t take long.”
Taggert frowned as Dante stepped forward, walking towards Anna’s desk. He reached into his holster and set his sidearm on the desk. “What the hell are you—”
“Dante, this isn’t—”
Dante ignored them both and unpinned his badge. He stared at it for a long moment, then set it down next to the gun. Then he raised his eyes to look at Anna. “My partner and best friend is in the hospital because of who my father is—”
“The department doesn’t trust me to have their back, and now I can’t trust them to have mine. I’m sorry—”
“I can’t do this anymore.” He looked at Taggert. “We tried, but there’s no point. It’s just rotten from the inside out, and it’s not worth losing my life over.”
“Listen—” Ned took Dante by the arm. “We’ll prove the dispatch records are falsified—Lucky will wake up—”
“And then the next time I call for backup?” Dante asked. He shook his head. “If it were just mine—maybe. But this time, it was Lucky. Next time it might be Cruz or you,” he said to Taggert. “I can’t do this. I’m sorry.” Dante left then, closing the door quietly behind him.
Ned turned back to Anna and Taggert. “We are going to get him back, and we are going to rip the fucking rotting heart out of this department for good.”