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Annabelle and Dominick are pegged to identify those responsible for setting the recent fire. Then, it's a jaunt over to pick up a suspect… where mistakes are made.

14 Division Toronto Police, Toronto, ON, Canada

06/05/13

"Are you ever in uniform, Neely?"

A few days and some change after the fire in Chinatown, the second police line-up of young men stand in an orderly row in what looks to be a competition for who can look the most annoyed to be here, doing this, for justice. All Asian, all under twenty-one at most, their unsmiling expressions all express the same sentiments in varying degrees: bored and pissed off at the world. Unmoving except for twitches and shuffles, they face the window through which they're privately eyeballed — though it's no secret; they know what they're here for and who's looking at them, however much they might disagree with it or, at the very least, have volunteered to act that way.

A tourist who shakily claimed to have witnessed the trio of arsonists fleeing is settled behind the two-way mirror. He's not the only witness to the night in question, however, asked to scourge his memory to point the finger at one of these faces.

It's a little different, putting potential suspects through a parade for their own — they can't fill out missing gaps in the roster of criminals with cops or prisoners kicking around that happen to fit the physical descriptions, since they'd obviously be recognized. Someone is bound and determined to make sure that Officer Annabelle Neely also makes a positive identification of the men who set fire to the Holistic Massage and Spa. Without guessing. Like an ordinary eyewitness. Praise for her work in Chinatown was short, sweet, and passed over in favour of the next goals on this week's agenda at 14 Division. Nothing's changed. Someone else hauled in the potential gang members. Someone else will get credit for catching them, if, in fact, they're here — which two out of three are, book-ending the rest of the irate grouping of youths. All of the individuals were chosen for their similarities and dressed in the same street style, however, asking the mind to select memorable, quickly-glimpsed traits from a sea of likenesses.

Officer Maslow was slated to be here to weigh in on IDing the vengeful suspects long before Annabelle's turn for corroboration later, but he quite clearly hasn't showed, having been as scarce as he could get away with in the past several days. Word is that he's in the building, but no one's found nor bothered to extensively look for him yet, leaving Anna with the indecisive tourist, a cheerful but prematurely impatient superior officer, plus one detective from the Asian Organized Crime Task Force, whose only personality trait exhibited thus far has been solely 'impatient' despite her vested interest in the situation. She stands at the back, giving wholly unneeded advice such as "look for awhile before you answer" not only to the regular eyewitness, but to the top-of-her-class constable.

She's made quick scans of facial quirks, tattoos— poise; anything glimpsed when evaluating them as potential gang-members, and threats, on the street that night, but Annabelle flexes her time: it was dark, she was unsettled by her form of dress. But she wasn't undisciplined. She astutely recognizes the book-ending suspects, slipping a foot back from her softly cross-armed stance to glance over at the detective behind the other eye-witness' back. Though she's dressed down in civvies— jeans, t-shirt; nothing her street-persona would be caught in— she hesitates to speak up, possibly pollute the tourist's decision by implanting suggestion.

The eyewitness has changed his mind at least four times, by this stage. He's marked by the shifts of his eyes and the precipice of speaking up his mouth hovers on time and time again, only to be fraught with reconsideration. "The first one," he sputters out, finally falling over that decisive edge. Score one; correct. "And…" He falters, unsure once more. He casts a look to Annabelle as if seeking cheater's notes from a fellow student before hurriedly looking back at the line-up, chastising himself before anyone else can. "Number… four?" This time, he falls short.

The door bursts open with a supremely interruptive creak followed by the thud of feet in the hall. As soon as it's flung open, it retreats until Officer Maslow is poking only his head in, insomniac eyes wide in mild, disoriented surprise. "Uhh." He looks like someone who's just inadvertently walked into the bathroom while it's still in use. He's late, isn't he. He's completely late. "I'll just, yep, wait my turn. Wouldn't want to sway anybody's— "

"Ahh," their collective superior inside dismisses, waving his Celtic-ally freckled hand. "Let's just get it over with, Dom." A bob of his balding head ushers the officer in and a hand on the civilian witness's shoulder ushers him n the other direction. "Thank you for all your assistance, Mr. Sanders…"

Dominick, standing straighter, now, strides in with all the momentum he seemed to lose seconds ago. He's clutching a cell-phone in his fist and has the air of wanting to, indeed, get this over with rather than spend any quality time eyeballing the suspects; a distracted, other-places-to-be air. Still, he has time to aside to Anna as he comes up beside her, "Are you ever in uniform, Neely?"

Barely a pause, then, as he squints through the glass window. "Easy as pie. Ooone," he pegs the first fellow quickly with a gesture of his knuckles. "Because, see, he looks the most filled with utter hate and spite for the fine men and women of the Toronto Police Service. And, he's the only one with a tattoo on his throat." His other hand grabs his own trachea as if idly cringing at the thought. Any further IDing becomes tripped up where the tourist faltered; his phone-holding fist waves slowly along the line-up. It was dark, he was distracted… or is it that he's just distracted now… "Foour. Three. Nope. No. I'm pretty sure that one's actually Korean…"

The detective in the back begins to sigh heavily.

"Six. One and six." Still hot in the cheeks from flushing over her lack of uniform — again — Anna's closed her mouth on an excuse, and the thin pinning of her lips nearly overtakes her while others fumble through identifications. But not quite. Arms crossed an inch tighter than before but resolve purely professional. She blinks, but not with question, at the panel of separating glass, her face a guileless mask. "Third guy's not here." Without guessing. Skilled with faces; details, it says in a buried training file somewhere beneath take-out menus.

"Six," Dominick concurs, though his tone of voice seems to suggest he came upon it himself, countered only by a appraising glimpse to Annabelle that's gone just as quick, in favour of pointing — finger out, thumb up, pistol-style, at the young man on the end, the vaguely familiar (now that he thinks about it) poise and features indeed ringing a distant bell.

Nearly as fast as he rushed in, Officer Maslow rushes out on the first sign from the others that they don't need anything else; a few confirmations, yes, they're sure those are the guys, and then poof. Places to be.

The criminals in the row, those who haven't been pegged as gangsters-slash-arsonists, are begrudgingly turned loose, free to crime again another day. Number four, an actor, goes out a back door. Numbers one and six are held for questioning, a task taken over by the detectives, and lawyering, which extends the process considerably longer.

By the time a muggy evening has started to blur the horizon (not that one can see the horizon from the building-heavy point of view of the city outside the police station), Dominick has reappeared.

Reappeared, in fact, right in front of Annabelle, his pop-up-jack-in-the-box greeting more enthusiastic than the expression he holds: tired, and no less distracted. "Guess what!"

Air rushes out of Annabelle's noise as she exhales hurriedly, staggering to stay in place instead of retreat in the flutter of releasing nerves that has her arms bolt out and then attempt to rein in, failing mostly at being inconspicuous. The left hand reaches center ground first, curling two fingers around the cord leading up to bud in her ear and yanking so that it clanks onto the desk. After a soft chin dip of retreat, she angles up to meet Dominick, questioning, "Sir?" while that hand sneaks up to the keyboard, efficiently depressing the delete key until the line of garbled h and gs in the middle of a detailed incident report disappears.

"Turns out number six in the line-up gave a whooole stack of info to the lucky detectives, more than they asked for, and they're off chasing that bone. Number one… gave up his third gang-buddy who, I quote," Dominick looms slightly over Anna's desk; not purposeful, he just feels the need to lean his weight in and press his palm against the air while telling this story, "… lives with," a pump forward of his palm, "… his mom, on Baldwin Street. He's fifteen. And guess who gets to pick up this juvenile delinquent." Spoiler— and also a cue to get moving; Dominick leans back, the follow of his head pointing toward the exit is heavier, as if it's less willing to be so alert: "It's you 'n' me, Neely."

Mostly unconsciously, Annabelle leans back in even increments to Dominick's loom, in what would press her back — and t-shirt — into the chair on a normal seat, but appears extra-dangerous for the stool she's riding. Wherever she lifted it from is likely not missing this depressing piece of furniture. "So much for honor among brothers," she murmurs, a test at the cynical humor of other cops which has her sounding more sympathetic for the youths than anything else. Fifteen. It echoes in the clasp of her teeth over her lip, sliding it out to the side, before she slips onto long legs off the seat. "I'll just— " there's a jacket strewn over the desk, trying to take up as little room as possible, "It'll be— " a toe turns in as she becomes aware of her unpreparedness. "Meet you at the car in five— two." Starting pistol fired, she skirts him on a mission towards the lockers.

Distracted as he's been, Dominick is on-time this round, waiting for Annabelle at (rather, in) his car, where it sits in the shiny, new inside parking area for the Division that looks more like a sci-fi hangar than storage for the fleet of city police vehicles. He's not prepped with an 80s music video bit this time, but the window is nevertheless down on the passenger side so that he can watch through it, and he leans an elbow near his in a pose of waiting readiness: Somewhere Important To Go. Maybe he's ditched his previous distractions, after all. He certainly hasn't ditched the notches under his eyes. Whatever he's occasionally drinking out of his thermos might be, questionably, helping to keep him on the go.

At first sight of the other officer's approach, he catcalls. Not, however, for the reason she might be more accustomed to. "Lookin' like a real officer of the law!"

A flush of less embarrassment and more irritation, instinctual at best, flashes across her face before she can tame it — luckily, she's still steps away and, by the time she's approached the passenger side, has reminded herself that she's wearing her spare uniform: the accoutrements of the job bulk her waist, making sure that this get-up doesn't also look like a store costume. Washed and pressed; she'd be a guppy straight out of the academy, except the tiny bit of ego present in the luxurious curl of bangs across one side of her forehead. Yanking the car door, she slips in, feet pressing into the floor front. "Suspect's name?"

"Mylo Long." The car's on the move the second Annabelle's inside enough, hurrying outside. Waste not want not. Dominick briefly — barely — splits his attention between driving and Annabelle. "Detained a couple of times for vandalism. Gang-related. Possession of a weapon once, when he was too young for more than community service. He might have been just a kid then, but not anymore. They rope these guys in young and make sure they grow up fast." Spoken like a reminder: don't get soft.

The house on Baldwin is tiny, its robin's egg blue paint peeling, its front steps sagging from lack of proper care under too many rains and winter snows; now, in June, the bare wood is a sickly green-grey hue. The residence is easily looked over on this street in favour of the more colourful houses and quainter businesses that actually mean something to the city's livelihood.

The police car parks at the curb. From a street over, music from an outdoor cafe drifts in, seasonally perky. The little house seems immune. The windows are all dark except for a square outline around the closed blinds on the top floor, to the right.

Dominick thuds his thermos into a cup-holder and meanders on outside. The meander seems to evolve naturally into a march up the small walkway. The figures of two cops in their blues approaching the undersized house look like the deliverers of bad news. Bad news, your son's in a gang. Bad news, he almost killed someone.

His knock on the door has an impatient quality to it, however intended or not. A fast, important rap-rap-rap to which there is no answer. There's no car parked at the house, but that's not necessarily a tell; many city-dwellers don't have one. Rap-rap-rap, again.

While Dominick goes for the second round of rapping, Annabelle steadily backs up from her place behind him, head curved to pick up the details of the whole front of the house — noting both neighbor's possibility of being home, and car situation — on her way to try and get a glimpse at around one corner. All without straying too far from her superior's vicinity, backing him up even as she does; a glance to him.

A glance back acknowledges Annabelle's trek, concurring with her direction. Dominick waits at the door, giving any individuals inside time to come to it. When not a peep sounds from within, he gives a firmer, singular knock and announces their presence. "Police…" But no one answers.

The thin screen door at the side of the house is slightly ajar. In Annabelle's sights, it looks out-of-place, like a tin piece on an old doll-house, hardly real, providing no security at all. Anyone could just walk in. In the heart of Toronto, that's unwise and careless. Near gang territory, at the house of a gang youth, it's just stupid.

The feeling that something is wrong here, however, goes beyond the mere thoughtlessness of a resident.

Even Dominick's suspicions are up from the front door. It's hardly uncommon to find no one home, inconveniently interfering with their police schedules. It'd be easy to just dismiss it and come back another time, but …

He starts around the side as well, his brow heavy and his eyes questioning Annabelle before he catches up.

A door ajar reads thrice: thoughtlessness, speedy exit— or unwanted entrance. Choosing precaution over assumption, Annabelle goes quieter, softening her steps while continuing her approach, and her look back to acknowledge Dominick is just that: a look. She crooks her head in sharp indication to the door, five fingers resting — but ready — on the top of the holster she's just unsnapped.

Noting the door circumspectly, Dominick's hand falls into a similar pose against his own holster. His fingers twitch as, elsewhere on his laden belt, his phone audibly vibrates. His mouth tugs straight as he ignores it, focusing instead on the house. He goes ahead and unholsters his weapon, and in turn goes ahead and opens the door, holding it open for Annabelle; left to its devices, it would undoubtedly be noisy. The inner, theoretically more secure door is wide open already, and he steps past the threshold.

The kitchen is cramped and dark, the air thick with the scent of cooking long past, serving as a reminder — like the dishes for two in the sink — that this is, indeed, a family home. "Flashlight," he whispers hoarsely on the side of caution while he takes the lead.

It's not difficult to see that the whole first floor is empty; it's an open, connected area. Pictures decorate many walls and surfaces, depicting a Mylo Long in various stages of youth, most of them with a narrow-faced woman in various stages of aging, bearing an obvious familial resemblance. Nothing is visibly out of place. Stairs lead up straight ahead. Again, the two officers are faced with a dark room and stairs to navigate into the unknown.

The room at the top of the stairs is easy to see before they even venture up, however. Its door, like the screen-door before it, is ajar, and a dim light pours out from carpet to old hardwood. A bedroom? It's so quiet that the cafe music outside the house makes it through the walls.

Step, step, step…

By the seventh step, Dominick's interest is up; he cranes his neck and hurries his pace, with an added dose of caution; he raises his gun and gives Annabelle a gesture to flank the other side of the bedroom door as he approaches, pausing to peek in from a safe position before urging it open further.

A sneaker is revealed. No; a foot. A foot wearing an overpriced (or knockoff) pair of kicks, attached to a person. It doesn't move. Speckles and blade-thin trails of blood decorate the coffee-coloured, trodden, scuffed carpet.

From her position on the opposite side, Annabelle marks the shoe. Now, with her flashlight held in one hand crossed atop the poised firearm, she swerves briskly in to cover each of the farther corners, intending to clear the room for Dominick the check the body; a body… possibly fifteen years old: a crease pinches the young officer's forehead but she allows no other indulgence.

The corners are messy, but empty of life; only ghosts of life adorn the room, band posters displaying screaming and smiling faces of heavy-rockers, alongside posters of scantily clad women, real and animated on the walls and closet door; it looks like the room of a teenager, not a gangster. Unfortunately, the two aren't mutually exclusive.

The form on the floor is, from the waist up, obscured by an overflowing laundry basket, but the shadow it casts is filled in by blood, opaquely soaking the carpet.

Expecting to enter a murder scene by this point, Dominick treads carefully, though he hurries. Kneeling — almost; he doesn't touch his knees to the floor — at the head of the figure, he confirms: "It's him. Throat's been cut." There's so much blood obscuring the youth's throat, and it's so twisted to the side, chin tucked as if he was avoiding his fate, it's next to impossible to tell how deeply he's been slashed without a deeper investigation — which Dominick doesn't delve into. He ducks down to listen, hears no breath sounds, and reaches to try to determine a pulse, past the fifteen-year-old's multiple layers of baggy clothes to the more easily accessible wrist.

The news isn't good; Dominick stands up, grim. "These guys get ganged up early, they win a short clock." His mouth pulls down and pushes the back of his hand over it with a sandpaper scrape. "Stay here. I'll call it in." He leaves the room briskly, replacing his gun with his phone.

With the confirmation of a homicide, Annabelle's trek instantly shortens, reining her in to affect the new crime scene as little as possible; however, she continues to eyeball the room as if securing it a second time. Anything to not let her focus narrow to the homey sight of laundry spilled over a teenager's throat. Where her poise never wavers, inside it's not the same standards.

She backs up further, flashlight swinging to check if there's other doors in the area that might hide something oncoming detectives wouldn't appreciate, before returning to the closet door. It's inside the crime scene, but clearing the area takes precedence. She'll just submit her boot treads to investigators, decided as she steps around where the carpet's mostly heavily trampled, hoping to avoid picking up anything incriminating to carry away or leave behind from somewhere else.

Does it even take half a minute to call in a homicide? The room is lonely, haunted by its recent violence. Dominick is nowhere in sight in the hall, having retraced his steps back down. His low murmuring from downstairs is just a distant buzz, occasionally rising as if arguing, but topping out at a clandestine volume, keeping his words away from Annabelle.

Old laminate poking out from under a door in the hall might indicate a bathroom. Another open door gapes open, black.

But it's the closet door inside this bedroom that Annabelle has to worry about.

The officer has been so quiet— it must have sounded like she wasn't here at all.

The closet opens from the inside. The way any door would, preceding someone walking into a room, but in this grim context it's something out of a horror movie. Dark eyes flash from inside. The hefty kitchen knife the figure in the closet leads with flashes brighter. Bloodier. The second its wielder realizes the room isn't empty of life — which is to say, right away — she charges straight out. She; a short, older woman; her race matches that of Mylo Long's but not her face; it's rounder than his mother's from the photos … familiar, perhaps, but contorted in fear and rage and fresh blood.

Gleaming knife-points come into focus before all else. Annabelle's boots are far less careful when retreating across the carpet, kicking up an old t-shirt that missed the laundry run as she seeks distance between herself and the target, extended along the sight of the firearm immediately raised. Trigger finger tests. Shoulders quake up then are forced down; she's breathing, hard twice, gaining forcible control. "Police!" She identifies, even where her not oft worn uniform proclaims it as loudly; those eyes are not those of someone with full cognitive function. Gnawing down on self-control, the officer forces her vision off of the bladed point to take in the facial features of the wielder. "Ma'am, put down the weapon, please!"

The weapon ranges up and down, out of control in the woman's uncoordinated hand. At one time, it was steady enough to slice a teenager's throat. She severed that last straw of her composure. It's a violent tangle of emotions that runs at Annabelle, more than a cohesive person. She cries out, a battle cry. It's not English. It's not even Chinese. It's a universal language: anguish.

The contorted face was last seen in fear, too — a fear that hadn't built up to such levels — fear in the face of fire and a business burning to ruin. The older woman who ran out of the Holistic Massage & Spa that night, who denied that there was anybody else trapped inside. She knew; she knew about the girls, it came out later. She'd been seen as a victim — forced into compliance and into keeping her mouth shut while her business was bought out and taken over by modern-day slavers.

She lost her business twice. Once to the prostitution ring, once to fire. To the gangs that haunt every unlucky business in their territory.

A person who has nothing to lose is the kind of person who doesn't think twice before running at a cop with a knife.

The teenager's messy room is a rare saving grace. The woman's knee knocks the laundry basket completely over onto him, slowing her down as she's tangled in one of his unfolded, oversized sweaters.

No shot rings out in the space for a shot.

Inhaling harshly, Annabelle's arms swing decisively around, tucking the gun into the safety net of its holster during those spare seconds her target's contained within the sweater trap. Weight-balanced, she surges in from a side— difficult in the narrow vein between furniture; a notable risk— to grab for the woman's wrist in a bid for hauling it behind her back.

"He was the only one! Only one left!" the woman shouts, trying to scream her defense, hysterically trying to rationalize what she's done even as she tries to fend off Annabelle. "I have nothing!" She's a sturdy woman, strong, but Annabelle is far more precise than she; grabbed, her arm goes easily, but fights once there, the knife dangerously see-sawing for the officer's limbs as the offending wrist flexes strong underneath her grip. She bucks dangerously forward and back, losing and regaining her balance. She's forced to look down at the clothes heap and the body it half-covers. Blood seeping into a teenager's laundry; tears seeping down her twisted features. She starts to careen ahead. "I was going to help them! The girls, you know! I was planning! But the fire. The fire!"

Raw anything has a distinctive strength to it and Annabelle's fighting stays cramped; see-sawing translates into their bodies as she they struggle against differing ideals— down, up; Annabelle grunts as she's shoved back into a dresser. A racket of half-popping drawers, their contents, and a few spare trinkets on top cover a rip of cloth. With the knife, and its associated wrist, snuggled between them, the officer depends on her larger stature. The woman's allowed to careen forward; Annabelle helps her along with a knee-guided shove to move the escape attempt into uncontrolled territory— or Annabelle-controlled. Aiming for the boyishly decorated coverlets on the bed, she smashes the woman down, fighting sympathy to harshly— but practicality; no excessive force— twist that wrist again to try and ignite the nerves that'll release the knife. "We did!" She puffs and wheezes, an ache inside her professionalism, "We helped them. They're safe. The fire's out. It's time to— " a grunt, "stop."

By the woman's hand opens and the knife drops out, it's questionable that she's even noticed. She's pushed into the coverlets as much as she pushes herself, as if she could burrow right into the bed, through the floor, disappear. Her feet kick childishly, contrary to the beginning shocks of silver in her black hair. " — ruined — everything— " she disintegrates into sobbing. Blood smears from her cheek onto a character on the bedding.

It is this scenario which Dominick returns to witness.

Having been running a second prior, he halts immediately in the doorway as fast as if he were thrust back by a glass wall, taking in the scene wide-eyed before he goes any further. The day's earlier expression, amplified: I'm late, aren't I … completely late… "Jesus Christ."

He should have been here.

"Neely!" He strikes out importantly, running; two leaps more than propel him; he knees the bed, reaching out to help by pushing the downed woman's back and reaching for his cuffs. "Are you alright?" His eyes pin his fellow officer distinctly. He's marked the knife on the floor; now he marks evidence of it on Annabelle.

Neely's head whips, her one luxury of done hair ruffled and following, but it's with heart-pounding relief that it's Dominick sliding up next to the bed with her. Pushing off from the knee planted in the suspect's back, her fingers lift from the woman's shirt to let the male officer take over, freeing space for the cuffs as her posture straightens. "All— " she puffs, breathlessness only momentarily contrary to her assured, "clear." A succinct nod down, "She's from the…" as adrenaline plummets, a wash of unchecked emotion swamps Annabelle's face, briefly deforming it with a unresolved anguish that's swept away with the brush of a palm over her nose and mouth. "Spa."

When she flexes up in her straightening, the two torn sections of her uniform torso separate, white of what might be an undershirt peeking out.

All noted by Dominick; all unacknowledged except by the stern lines of his forehead. He focuses on getting the woman cuffed. "Oh," he says drably, "I recognize you." She doesn't seem to recognize anything at all, anymore, except her own troubles. Her reddened eyes have slipped shut. "Where the hell'd she come from?" he asks of Annabelle, just short of snapping, irate at the thought that this woman appeared from nowhere on the attack. Not nowhere. Somewhere they didn't check. Somewhere he didn't check. Because of a phone call.

"Closet." It's a croak until Annabelle's cleared her throat, and then it's crystal clear: precise. Too much. Brisk professionalism attempts to make up for what blame she's automatically assigned herself from the inner flinch on hearing his irritation. "I was on my way to check it." Not excuse nor apology. When she feels the cinch of the handcuffs relieving her, she slips her knee off the woman and regains half her balance in order to spread the broken fabric of her uniform— barely worn, already scuffed. Sticking a finger through the hole, and that's all it is; skin untouched, it feels cheap — fake. Like the knife was calling her out: faker. But with its industrial size, she actually was lucky for just a nick in the uniform.

"Should have checked sooner," Dominick grouches as he keeps the cuffed woman in place — she's ceasing movement now, just slumping into her fate. His blame — and it most certainly is that — isn't necessarily directed at Annabelle, but it doesn't have anywhere else to land. Except on his own head. His complaint doesn't differentiate.

A low sound uneasily joins the mix, close to the floor. Low, uneven, and wet, like a trickle of thick water in a rocky riverbed. There's a gurgle, and a quiet scrape of air …

"Yes, sir." Chastised and used to it, like a kicked dog, Annabelle sucks in her luckily unscratched stomach and, with a slow blink, dutifully resolves to do bet—

Noise from below drops her chin; her brain works to place it but her body's faster. With a hard thud, she drops heavily onto her knees, palms bracing under the laundry basket to scoop obstructions hurriedly aside.

It's not much. Breath. He doesn't have much in him. That noise was probably the result of trying as hard as he could. But the gangster— teenager— boy— is alive. His breath is so weak, the meager rise and fall of his chest can't even be seen through his loose, layered clothing. The same scarcity must also be true of his pulse. The only thing that proves he's alive now and the noise wasn't a ghostly trick of the imagination or a belated death-rattle is the tremor of his head, an ill-advised attempt to move.

"Is he— " Dominick almost sits right down on the bed beside the cuffed woman, but stands straighter instead, squaring his shoulders. A harsh pinch starts between his eyes. His left-hand fingers twitch, trying not to push it out. They apprehended a murderer— attempted murderer?— and the victim may still be alive, but none of this is feeling like good news when it makes two counts of missing important details.

"Shh…" murmurs Annabelle— not to her superior officer; the gentle, sudden soothing drop of her voice sifts for the gangster victim alone: right now, in this moment, he's just a frightened teenager. "Shh, shh, shh," flows out more hurriedly, puffs of anxious breath as she assesses. Laundry— laundry's clean; a sheet from out of the middle of the pack is plucked by her hand, bunched and then laid to his throat as she attempts to gently shuffle her knees under him without jostling the broken skin too much. Whatever gravity she can force the blood to pump against means less of it leaving him. Little may it matter, but… a certain frantic energy means she has no choice but to try. In a bid for whiplash, she looks up to Dominick, "ETA?"

"Soon," Dominick replies right away, vague but confident: someone's coming. Watching Annabelle's attempt to aid the teenager spurs him to get on the radio again— the reinforcements were geared to investigate a dead body, not save a living person and lock up another.

The attacker's head twists, a sob escaping as she realizes she didn't kill the boy. Anger and relief have never sounded so similar.

Dominick's muffled swearing under his breath probably isn't what the teenager wants to hear, if he can hear at all. Hopefully Annabelle's shhhes take over. His fingers manage to dig into a fallen sweater on the floor like it's a lifeline, one that's failing him.

Having done all that she can to assuage the damage to his throat— which is painfully little at this juncture, Annabelle curls over the tormented boy to attend what she can. Murmurs quiet, private nothings between her and him, and subtle reassurances until, from the soft quiet, a rhythm produces a lyrical sense to her voice: humming, and sometimes the quiet thrum of words to a lullaby— or a prayer; they seem nearly interchangeable with the focused and reassuring way she sounds, even incoherently.

Dispatch updated, Dominick watches Annabelle for a moment; listens, more like, a squint coming to his eyes. Is that Chinese? Questioned, but not asked. In fact, the older officer doesn't much feel like sticking around anymore, it would seem, as he hefts the attacker up with a murmur for her to come along. "They'll be here soon," he says again, a reassurance that he says too hard, and half-walks, half-drags the disoriented woman out of the room. Stairs will be an issue. Nothing compared to the life-or-death precipice Annabelle accompanies the boy on.

He survives, after all; survives, managing to hold on to some part of Annabelle with feeble fingers and listens with desperate ears; once, glassy eyes manage to find her, and there's nothing but a child inside. He hangs on to his faint thread of life until emergency medical care takes over.

It's an odd sort of deja vu, standing outside amidst a slew of emergency vehicles, a suspect in a car and paramedics assessing damages, and a car of arriving colleagues from 14 Division blinking in slight confusion at the drama once again discovered by the random partnering of Maslow and Neely. Only, this time, she's wearing more clothes — even if they are a bit sliced.

"If we can get 'im stable— " A fast-talking paramedic postulates once they're ushering him into an ambulance, drawing all sorts of attention from neighbours, gawkers and, undoubtedly, gang-buddies trying to catch a glimpse, " — he might make it — but my guess is he'll never talk again."

"Talking gets you killed," Dominick replies at the curb, distant, his jaw set. "So does setting fire to businesses." Apparently. However crooked. A flash of sympathy in his light eyes is squinted away. His phone vibrates on his belt; he doesn't look at the caller, only squeezes its holder. Irate, he's looking more like he's ready to pitch it across Baldwin street than answer it.

Pushing off from the ambulance with a last murmur, Annabelle stands aside, lips pinned tight to bar noise they were spilling precious minutes ago. Her hand rakes up and across her forehead, into sweet brown hair, pushing its strands asunder. Sympathy's both ready and willing; a temper of assurance that gets rises from her as hard as the rush of adrenaline. Against her forehead, the hand trembles in tiny shakes; most of her fingers managed to stay clean, not like the blood-soaked sweatshirt bandaging a wretched neck together. Inhaling deeply, she's pulled on a string of Dominick's annoyed energy out of her own funk, enough to glance at him with lowering eyelids. But, bashful, her chin drops and when her heel twists, she rounds on a nearest colleague. "Who's informing the mother?"

Dominick hears her. Before their other colleague has gotten a syllable out of his mouth, he's striding in-between them. "I will," he declares, no-contest, do-not-ask-questions gruff about it, looking as sour over the delicate task as if he'd been shouldered with it against his will. His strides don't stop; he keeps moving, swerving around both colleagues, his berth around Annabelle particularly wide, and stalks off down the slowly dimming sidewalk.

The ambulance barrels past him, its high pitch shrieking a distress call. Just like that, the boy is out of their hands.

The ends he's left behind, however… Mylo Long's mother hasn't arrived home to the frightening scene yet; somewhere, she remains blissfully unaware that her son is on the edge of death; probably, she's worried about this day coming. When Dominick drags his phone out, he ignores the last call and goes straight to finding out where she's gone.

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