Lucifer: Chapter 20
Under The Gun
"SHE'S ON HER own now," Danser said after the transmission ended, turning off the radio. He rubbed his eyes as if tired, then winced and rubbed his bruised jaw. He looked over at the others, standing up and stretching. "There's nothing we can do now but wait."
"And pray they don't catch on," Father Damien murmured. Damien was grateful that at least one of them had any idea how bad this was.
Or how bad it can get.
"The only ways they could catch on are if they found the wire or if someone knows her and saw you together," Danser said. "The first one's pretty much taken care of. There is no wire anymore. If they ever find it, they won't know for sure where it's from. As for the second, that's up to you to find out."
Damien shook his head. "I can't think of anybody who would have both recognized her and seen us together except for one person, and he shouldn't recognize her now. You saw what she did to her hair. So I guess that takes care of the second condition too."
He didn't know how wrong he was.
While he was away Father Damien had asked Kat to take care of Harvey and Esmeralda. The two had been at Damien's house since early that morning, when he and Father Damien had gone down to the police station to--Kat had no idea what they'd gone there to do. She sighed as she picked up the trail of destruction the two children had left on their way upstairs, where they'd set up headquarters. Maybe it was best she didn't know. Maybe it was best she always be left in the dark. Maybe--
Maybe she'd just better clean up this mess first and think later. She had no idea when Damien and his uncle were going to get back anyway. All the others were out, and she supposed they would probably be upset too if they came back and saw this chaos awaiting them.
The kids were a handful, but she was used to that, having grown up in a big family. They certainly seemed to like it here, and the others living in the house had liked them as well. It was good to have kids around. She could hear them upstairs even now, fighting one minute, playing a game the next, then fighting again. She looked upstairs through an air vent in the ceiling to see one of them run past, then an angry yell, then a laugh. She shook her head.
Kids. They sure were fickle at that age.
She glanced at the clock. It was just after three. Father Damien had said they could have a snack around then if they wanted, and had left one in the fridge. She sighed again as she picked up one of Harvey's comic books--something about a giant ooze monster rampaging through L. A.--and stepped over to the stairway, calling up, "Harvey? Ez? Father Damien left you some Jell-O."
Immediately they were thumping down the stairs, "Get out of the way!" and "Me first!" bouncing off the walls. Kat shook her head a second time and went back toward the kitchen. She couldn't suppress the smile that crept up her face as she heard what sounded like them tripping over each other. She had to admit they were cute, even if they were hyper.
They bounded into the kitchen after her, skidding to a stop in front of the stove. "What flavor is it?" Ez asked.
"It's red," Kat said, going to the refrigerator to get it.
"What flavor's red?"
"Stupid!" Harvey returned. "Red is the flavor."
"Is not, idiot!"
"Is not! It's strawberry, or cherry, or raspberry--"
"Is not, boogerface. It's just plain red."
"You're a stupidhead, Harvey."
"Yeah? Takes one to know one."
Kat rolled her eyes as she pulled out the Jell-O. Reminds me why I told myself I'd never have kids, she thought. Even if they are cute.
"You're just a microscopic fuzzy gerbil turd," Ez was saying to Harvey as Kat put the bowl on the counter. She fetched two smaller bowls to spoon it into.
"Yeah?" Harvey shot back. "Beats being a monkey butt."
Ez's jaw dropped and she looked ready to yell or cry--Kat couldn't be sure which. "Ah-ah!" she said, raising both her voice and her hands to shut them both up before they started screaming. "Enough names, okay? Just have some Jell-O and get along. Father Damien should be back soon."
The two received their snacks and sullenly sat down at the opposite counter to eat, casting dirty looks at each other across their bowls.
Kat leaned against the doorcasing to watch them eat. They were wearing her out already, and they'd only been downstairs about five minutes. Now she was certain she'd never have kids. Not if they were all like these two, which she was starting to be pretty sure of, and--
She started when the doorbell rang, glancing back over her shoulder as someone started knocking on the door.
"FD's here!" Harvey yelled, scrambling down from his stool, nearly knocking it over, and running out to the door. Ez followed closely behind. Kat turned to follow them, actually having to nudge them out of the way as they headed for the porch.
"I'll answer it, okay?" she nearly had to shout. "You two go back and eat your snacks!"
"But we always go to the door when he gets home," Harvey insisted.
Jeez, they make a ritual or a contest out of everything. Kat gave him a look which caused him to back up slightly and opened the door several inches. She frowned when she saw it wasn't Father Damien or his nephew after all; whoever the man standing on the porch was she had no idea, as she'd never seen him before. He jumped a little on hearing the door open and turned around to face her. Her frown grew deeper when she saw how nervous he looked, his brown hair tousled and dark rings under his eyes. The strangest thing, though, was that he was wearing a jacket.
A jacket? In this heat?
"Yes?" she asked. Harvey and Ez peered out from behind her, having quieted down on seeing the stranger.
"Is Damien or Father Damien here?" he asked, looking beyond her into the house.
"No." She shook her head as if to emphasize the word. "They left this morning. I think they went to the state police station. You might be able to find them there, or you could call back here later on...."
Her voice trailed off. The man had his hands in his jacket pockets, and there was a gnawing uneasiness in the back of her head as to why he was keeping them out of sight like that....
As if sensing her thoughts, his eyes darkened and narrowed just slightly. There was a tense pause. "Go inside," he said, in a very soft voice, so quiet Kat was sure the kids, right behind her, couldn't even hear it.
"What...?" The gnawing uneasiness turned into growing alarm.
"Get back inside," he hissed through his teeth. Harvey and Ez whimpered and crept back behind Kat to hide. As for Kat, she found her legs frozen, unable to move; what the hell was going on? Who was this person and why was he here now? Did he want to talk with Damien, or...?
He removed his right hand from his pocket and her worst fears were confirmed. He had a gun, all right, and it was pointed right at her.
"Get. Back. Inside," he repeated himself, slowly and clearly. She started stepping back into the room, away from the door. Harvey and Ez actually clung to her legs, refusing to run. They knew enough about guns to know that a bullet could move faster than a six or seven year old.
As she backed up he came up the steps, into the house; he shut the door carefully behind him and glanced into the house again. His hands were shaking slightly, but the look on his face was deadly serious. She knew he'd fire the gun if he had to.
Don't upset him. He's upset enough. Just do what he says, and keep the kids safe.
"I don't want to shoot you," he said, turning back to face her. The look in his eyes made her shudder. "So listen to me and do what I say."
"Who are you?" It came out before she could even stop it.
He continued looking around, as if examining the furnishings, yet kept the gun aimed at her as he answered, almost absently. "A friend of Damien's."
Derrick. She guessed it from Damien's description, and knew it had to be him. Who else would show up like this? Damien, however, had never told her he was this dangerous--!
"What do you want?" She wasn't sure if she were trying to stall him or not, but felt she had to keep him talking or have him shoot. He looked crazy enough to do it. Her hands went behind her to grip Harvey's and Ez's; the two children were still whimpering slightly, huddled behind her. She hoped Derrick didn't think she was reaching for a weapon.
What weapon? What the hell could there be?--
He looked at her again, and this time came forward, the gun pointed right at her face. She backed up until the kids ran into the wall, and still he kept coming, a strange grin spreading across his face. He stopped several feet away.
"'I know you're up to something,'" he said in a singsong voice, "'I can see it in your eyes. The way you've been acting lately, it ain't no big surprise.'"
Kat recognized the opening lines of Damien's first hit song. The fact that this seeming lunatic was saying them to her in response to a question made the situation all the more frightening. My God, he is nuts. She hugged the children to her tighter, a gesture meant both to comfort them and to warn them to keep quiet.
"Tell Damien I paid a little visit," Derrick said, his finger on the trigger. "Tell him I know he's up to something. Tell him, if he tries anything, there are going to be consequences. Bad consequences. Can you remember all that?"
Kat nodded, her throat stuck.
"Repeat it back to me."
She swallowed. "You--you paid a little visit. You know he's up to something. If he tries anything there's going to be consequences."
"Bad consequences," Derrick corrected her, scowling and cocking the gun.
"Bad consequences!" Kat nearly shouted, shrinking back into the wall.
He stared at her for a moment, as if deciding whether she were worth shooting or not, then smiled graciously, removing his finger from the trigger. He let down the gun and Kat let her breath out, realizing she was squeezing the kids' hands painfully hard, yet they didn't seem to notice. "Good. When he gets back you tell him and his uncle just that. And the next time he tries messing with us, friends of his--a lot like you--won't be let off so easily. Got it?"
She nodded hastily. She wasn't so much afraid for herself as for the kids, who were burrowing their faces into her dress. "The n--the next time he tries messing with you we won't be let off so easily."
He clucked his tongue at her parroting of his words. "I didn't say 'Simon says.' But I'll let you off on that one." Another smile. "You see, Ms. Witchita? I can be reasonable, too." He headed back for the door, careful to keep the gun pointed in their general direction. "Remember all I told you. There are going to be some pretty upset people if you screw this up. Bye, and enjoy your snacks."
He disappeared out the door. It shut behind him. Immediately Kat dashed over and locked it as hastily as she could, missing several times, then grabbed Harvey's and Ez's hands and dragged them back into the den. They both yelped, tears streaming from their eyes, but they didn't start bawling. At least, not yet.
"Shh," she said, trying to sound assured. She knew she failed miserably. "I'm going to call the police. I want you two to go back upstairs and be quiet, okay?"
They didn't argue. They turned back to the stairs and disappeared in a flurry of feet.
Kat picked up the phone and dialed the number of the state police post. She didn't know if Damien was still there or not. She supposed it didn't much matter. He'd find this out somehow.
The phone rang three times before someone answered, "Michigan State Police, District--"
"Hello," Kat blurted out. "I'm here with two kids and some guy just came in with a gun--"
"Easy! Slow down!" Realizing how fast she'd been talking, Kat paused and took a deep breath, letting it out as the person on the other end spoke again. "All right. Now start over. Who are you?"
"Kat Witchita. I'm at 7972 on North M-33."
"North M-33?" the person repeated. Kat could hear noises in the background, like someone talking. "7972 North M-33."
"Yes!" she snapped, before realizing he'd been talking to someone else. "Some guy with a gun just came in and started threatening us--"
"Hold on, ma'am--guy with a gun--hey!" She heard the sound of a door slamming. "Is he still there? Are you okay?"
"Yes, I'm okay; no, he's not here. He left. But he pointed this thing at us--I've got two others here, they're just kids--"
"I'm coming right over, ma'am," the person said; Kat blinked. Why was this guy coming over? Had Damien been talking with him? "Just hang on, okay?"
She nodded. "Yeah, okay. Thanks." She hung up and let out her breath again, running a hand down her face.
She wasn't sure how long she stayed that way, but it couldn't have been too long before she heard the sound of a car's tires squealing on the pavement and kicking up gravel outside. Startled, she turned to the picture window to see Damien's Lamborghini pulling in the driveway. With how much time had elapsed since she'd made the call, he must have been driving the thing as fast as he could all the way home.
Hope he doesn't get a ticket, a part of her mind--similar to the annoying part in Damien's--thought.
She turned back to the utility room and porch as a pounding came from the door, rattling it in its frame; reaching and unlocking it she pulled it open and Damien stumbled in, grabbing her arms.
"Are you okay?" he demanded, his chest heaving as if he'd run the whole way home. "He didn't hurt you?"
"No. No. He didn't." He was hugging her tight before she could get anything else out. She had to pry herself loose, nervously brushing back her hair in a gesture remarkably similar to Elise's. "I'm okay. Harvey and Ez are okay. He didn't fire the gun--"
The sound of sirens, growing louder. Out the porch door Kat could see two vehicles--one a blue state squad car and the other unmarked, with a light on the dash--pull in, squealing to a halt near the Lamborghini. There was a slamming of doors and three police--two uniformed--came jogging toward the house. She wasn't sure which one had been on the phone.
"Everything all right?" the one not in uniform called up.
Damien turned back. Danser stood at the bottom of the steps, panting and looking up at him. Felman and Officer Jones came up behind him. He nodded shakily.
"Yeah," he replied. "He didn't shoot."
"He had a jacket on," Kat said, suddenly thinking of describing the person. "A kind of brown-colored jacket. Brown hair, blue eyes. He looked nervous. Like he hadn't slept well. He said you knew him."
"Derrick," Damien said; Kat nodded. Danser turned to look at Felman and Jones; Felman shrugged and shook his head. When Danser turned back Damien was staring at him.
"You see this?" he said, his voice rising. "You see what they do? They know already. And we've barely even done anything yet."
"He must have seen you and Elise together," Danser tried to explain.
"I don't care what he saw! He knows about her now! If he goes back to them and sees her, she's dead! Do you understand that, Sergeant?"
"Damien--" Kat tried to question him, gripping his arms back. What was going on? He ignored her this time, pulling completely away so that he and Danser were face to face on the porch steps. Felman didn't reach for his gun, though both he and Jones looked ready to.
"You see what happens now?" he snapped. "You see what happens when you mess with them? This is no game, Sergeant, and it's no omelet."
A brief pause. Danser didn't look away--but he certainly looked like he wanted to.
"We're only here to help," he whispered.
Damien's look turned from one of anger to one of disgust. He snorted and pushed past the policeman, getting back in his car and slamming the door. The engine roared to life and he turned the car around, driving out past the other cars and into the driveway. He swerved into the yard to avoid hitting Father Damien's station wagon as it pulled in, bouncing over the ditch and into M-33. By the time the dust cleared the car was completely out of sight.