2010-07-14: Things Got Complicated



Also starring:

Dr. Coren Shelby and Agent Pratt, care of Aaron

Date: July 14, 2010



"Things Got Complicated"


Annie. I know we haven't spoken in a long time. It's been … too long. It's been unforgivable. I just had to let you know why …

"Lap pads. I need more suction people."

Things got complicated.

"I don't give a shit, Pratt. I want to know how this happened!"

July 14, 2010. 4:16 pm

It was sheer and utter madness, the people flowing around him like a river. Panicked bank clients ran into the police barricades, and Coren Shelby moved through them alongside Agent Pratt of the FBI, a number of NYPD uniforms flanking them.

"What the bloody hell is going on?" He reels around and shouts to the uniforms, "Start taking statements. I'll be with each of you in turn."

He moves to the nearest person. "Care to tell me what happened in there?"

There's an explosion, or the sound of one. It's hard to see from their vantage point. He turns to see George Dawson exiting the bank. The client forgotten, Shelby starts to tread closer to the steps. "Mister Congressman?" He eyes Pratt, "Didn't that bugger say he had Dawson as a hostage?"

"Why would he let him go?" Pratt asks.

They fought amongst themselves.

It's all happened so quickly that Aaron's last words to him are still ringing in George's ears. Already leaning forward, hands on knees to brace himself, the explosion nearly knocks him on his ass— only at the last second does he manage to catch a handhold, and winds up wrenching his wrist for good measure.

Looking up with unfocused eyes as he hears a different set of voices, carrying the familiar ring of legitimate authority, he turns to a skill he tries to avoid using - one he's not proud of - but one that occasionally makes all the difference. He lies. "They didn't mean to. They— the guards, one of them turned on the others and— I was lucky to get away in the confusion. Everyone here was, really." Thinking back, he closes his eyes. "A couple of the hostages… weren't."

"Anyone left inside?" Dr. Shelby approaches and looks up at the congressman. He's not the shortest man, no, but he's a head under six feet. What he doesn't have in height he has in attitude and posture. To think he's only a civilian.

"Somebody get a medic over here," Pratt calls to one of the uniforms, and a pair of paramedics come over to assess George. A fair chunk of emergency services have arrived. A handful of ambulances, SWAT, a dozen cop cars, not to mention a number of black SUVs. Traffic has been rerouted around the stretch of street leading up to the bank. A whole hundred yards.

And George waves a hand in the air, motioning the EMTs toward some of the other hostages nearby, some of whom look like they were roughed up at least as badly on their way out. He's not too vehement about it - they might take it for overconfidence and ignore him, and he is shaken up, after all - but he knew going into the building that there could be danger; the others were caught completely off guard.

"I think so," he offers to Shelby, "they were spread out enough that some of them might not have gotten hit by anything." He hopes that's the case for Aaron— though he avoids any mention that he knows either the gang leader or any of his main targets, lest they ask a whole bunch of unwanted followup questions. The price of dabbling in vigilante justice. "I didn't have time to get a good look, sorry…"

Dr. Shelby squints at George until he's interrupted by Pratt.

"That's what we wanted to hear," Pratt says before pulling his radio up, "All right, let's move in." He looks directly at Shelby, "You stay here. You're not on the job anymore, and don't think I haven't forgotten."

"Wait," Shelby says. He looks at the bank. "Didn't he say he had a bunch of Semtex?"


"So don't you think it's stupid to walk inside of a building while the psychopath's still in there?" Shelby turns to George, "Did you happen to see any explosives at all in there, apart from whatever caused that blast just a minute ago?"

While the agents argue, George takes the opportunity to sit down on the curb. His vision quits fuzzing up, so it seems to be doing some amount of good, at least.

"They had grenades," he says. "I didn't see any explosives, but…" And he pauses to think carefully. Did Tom really rig the place to blow? They could have been placed along the outside of the building. Tom probably wouldn't even need a detonator, he could just set them off with his ability— hell, he might be able to fake some explosions using his ability on its own.

And he certainly hasn't seemed the type to bluff when making threats.

"…but yeah, I think you'd better count on them being there." Please let that be the right answer. If the explosives were a bluff, and Aaron's in there on the losing end of a shootout? Hard to imagine how it could get any worse than that.

"Better hold off on the cavalry march then," Coren says to Pratt. The FBI agent relays the news via radio while the civilian detective hovers over the congressman. Shelby pulls a few photographs from his suit jacket pocket. One of Tom Wilkes and the other of Aaron Michaels. He holds them both in front of George's face. "See either of these men?"

George leans over, looking them over (a little longer than he really needs to) before tapping at the corner of one with a finger. "Yeah, this guy was the one giving the gunmen their orders. Well, until the end, at least. And the other one, I think he was one of the other customers…" Another glance toward his fellow escapees, then back toward the building, frowning. Damn, still no sign of him.

Shelby doesn't have the chance to ask his next question or make any other remarks. The formerly masked men from inside the bank appear in the doorway. They come out with their hands raised and no weapons insight. They're halted by SWAT and taken into custody. Neither Tom nor Aaron appear among them. "Well that's just bloody wonderful," Coren mutters under his breath as he approaches the officers holding the would-be robbers.

"You have some explaining to do," he says to them. "First and foremost about the explosives."

"There aren't any," one says.

"It was a bluff," another says. "He knew you'd buy it."

"Are you absolutely sure about that? No way he or someone else could have planted them without you all knowing?"

"We're his whole gang."

"That crazy guy with the gun locked himself in the vault with the boss."

"What crazy guy?"

"That Michaels guy."

"Bugger me." Coren leaves the goons and heads straight to Pratt, "Get EMS and SWAT inside, and get us the bank manager. Aaron Michaels locked himself in the vault with Wilkes. He was armed. We need to get that vault open now."

"What about the bombs?"

"According to his men, there weren't any. It was a ruse. They knew we'd buy it because of his history."

Count your blessings, Shelby— you've got details and skills to throw yourself into. With no such fallback close at hand, George's face falls, weighed down by the guess gone wrong. What the hell was he thinking, that he could predict what a psychopath would do? Predicting normal people, that's different, but even trained experts struggle with cases like this.

Abruptly, he rises to his feet, stalking over toward the nearest of the goons. If he can't actually do any good - and by now he's told them everything he can think of that would actually be useful, except for the one thing he couldn't begin to explain quickly enough - then he can at least take the opportunity to vent some of his anger. "And you. You just stood there while he shot two people in the head. I bet you're real goddamn proud of that bluff, huh?"

Skills though he may have, Shelby doesn't go inside. Nor does the bank manager. Or the EMTs. Only SWAT enter the bank to do a quick sweet to make sure the place is in fact clear. Only then do they get the manager and the paramedics inside. In the meantime, Shelby watches the congressman for a short while before he intervenes. "Come on, son, that's enough of that. You can't change the past," he says. "Let's go get you checked out to make sure you're quite right and let the police here do their jobs."

Oh, fine. George shakes his head and turns, leaving it to the officers and so forth to finish throwing the book at Tom's gang. "Yeah, I guess you're right. Just— let us know what happened to them in there?" He's more concerned about seeing Aaron safely out again… but if it happens to turn out a bad day for Tom, well, he wouldn't complain about that either.

One stretcher leaves the building, a sheet covering it entirely. DOA.

It's several minutes before the other one comes out. The man lying on it has his shirt bunched up near his feet, blood-stained, while the paramedics work on stabilizing him thanks to the bullet wound in the side of his chest.

Shelby leaves George's side and walks towards Pratt and the paramedics.

" … Got one GSW to the head, another to the chest. Looks like it embedded itself in a rib. ETA twelve minutes with police escort."

"What the hell happened in there?"

As I said: Things got complicated. It's been the story of my life.

Coren comes back to where George is seated with a paramedic. "Well, good news is that the gunman's dead. I guess he felt he'd done his job in shooting the other guy. Sod shot himself in the head afterward, and it looks like he failed to kill his target. Aaron Michaels might survive. Again."

Feigned surprise. "This is an again for him? Guess he really is a crazy bastard. The good type, though, if he can keep it up."

I hated that son of a bitch. I tried not to, but there was simply no way around it. He messed up my life more times than I can count. He destroyed it, and two more people had to die because of him. He killed another loved one. I should have killed him when I had the chance last time, when he tried to kill me in my own apartment. But I didn't. I was too concerned for myself and not for his future victims. I didn't think he'd survive, what with my apartment, my home going up in flames. I underestimated him.

It's not till George looks back toward the covered stretcher that he narrows his eyes, picturing what really went on back in the vault. Tom blowing his own head off? Not likely. Another secret he'll have to carry with him.

What were you thinking, Tom, turning a gun on someone who can turn it right back on you without lifting a finger? Should've stuck to playing with matches.

I won't make that mistake again.


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