saga/title/fandom: Adagio chapter 2 (A Man Apart)
rating/genre: (NC-17) - Romance/Crime Drama
warnings: het, language, violence, and graphic sexual content
summary: Officer Sean Vetter, formerly of the DEA, tries to rebuild his life in Chicago after losing his wife in a botched assassination attempt on his own life. Joining the Chicago Special Tactics Unit, Vetterís bitterness toward life and sullen determination not to care for anyone makes him a nightmare of potential partners, until a stubborn Irish woman named Kate Shea decides she isnít going to let Vetter chase her away Ė from his career or his life. (Sean/OFC)
comments/disclaimers: My summary and first chapter pretty well give away the plot of the movie, so if you haven't seen it yet you might want to wait to read this until you have. FEEDBACK: Two conditions: Please talk to me, not at me; Please do not rewrite my stuff and send it to me the way you would do it. Otherwise have at it. Thanks. ARCHIVE: A qualified yes Ė I would not like the story to appear anywhere else without the person discussing it with me first. NOTES: The story does involve a stalker. Also, there is some violence stemming from Vetter and Kateís jobs as undercover officers. NOTE II: There is some Russian used in the story but I try to explain it unless it explains itself.
If Kate Shea could ask God one question while she waited for Vetter it would have been why He made it rain every time she was on a stakeout. If she had to tail someone or go in on a raid the day was guaranteed to be absolutely perfect, but the second she was assigned to sit in a car for eight hours staring at a building every ounce of water in the universe found its way to Chicago. The only other time that happened was on a death investigation in the middle of the night. No one ever killed anybody at four on a dry afternoon, she knew.
Vetter strolled toward the precinct at precisely 11:45 p.m. He wore the same outfit as earlier: blue jeans, white T-shirt (noticeably too small) and his fatigue jacket. His I.D. badge hung around his neck, flashing in the streetlamp just outside the precinct entrance. Kate watched him approach with a mixture of anger and distaste that she made no attempt to hide.
"Nice to see you again, too," he said as he drew up next to her.
"Letís just go," she replied, starting toward her car.
She drove a bright red Hyundai Elantra, a sporty little number with a spoiler on the back. It was scrupulously clean inside and out, far more so than how Vetter maintained his truck. He thought it looked like a giant candy apple.
"This is a lousy surveillance vehicle," he remarked.
She stared at him across the roof as the rain pounded the two of them. "Excuse me?"
"Anybody seeing this is going to check it out. We canít watch Kafelnikovís place in this."
"Get in the car, Vetter."
"We should take my truck. Itís black and old. Nobody will look twice at it."
"Will you just get in the fucking car?" she demanded.
"If Iím putting my ass on the line with some Russian gangster itís not going to be in a goddamned clown car. We take my truck or we donít go," he announced.
"Fine then. Weíll drive separately."
Kate got into the car. Vetter pounded on the window and asked where they were supposed to go. She smiled.
"Thatís the advantage of getting to work early," she announced.
Vetter muttered a profanity and climbed into the car. Kate pulled away from the curb before he had a chance to bitch about anything else.
Traffic was surprisingly heavy for 11 0 p.m. Kate wove through the lanes of autos with effortless ease. Effortless for her. Vetterís emotions bordered somewhere between concern and blatant terror as he sat on the passenger side of the car. She drove like a madwoman in his opinion. The notoriously reckless Chicago cabdrivers had nothing on her as she gunned the car through the rain-slicked streets.
"Where the hell did you learn to drive?" he finally asked.
"Iím from Indianapolis. Everybody drives like this there," she answered.
"What are you, Vetter, some kind of wimp? Jesus, Iím driving better right now than I usually do."
"Thatís a comforting thought."
"I wouldnít have to be going as fast as I am if we werenít going to be late meeting up with Edwards and Monaghan because you couldnít get your ass down to the precinct on time."
"Let me give you some advice, lady. Drink a little less caffeine. Weíll both be better off."
"One thing you need to learn about me if that I take my job very seriously. When Iím supposed to be someplace Iím there and Iím ready. I expect the same thing in a partner," she announced. "If you canít do that you really ought to go find a paint sprayer."
"All the partners available in the Chicago law enforcement system and I end up with the only bitch. Lucky me," he remarked cynically.
She slammed on the brakes, bringing the car to a dead stop on Kedzie. "Look at it from my perspective. Iím on punishment detail with the California misfit who canít get his head out of his ass long enough to realize that without a partner he isnít going to last in this job another three months, if that long. Iíd rather be undergoing a root canal without anesthetic than spend that time with you but Iím stuck with you so shut the fuck up and work with me!"
At the conclusion of the tirade Kate sat breathing heavily as she tired to regain her composure. Car horns blared impatiently behind the Hyundai. Vetter stared at her, then did the one thing guaranteed to annoy her in this situation: broke into laughter, a loud, rude, roar of a laugh that rattled the windows.
"Whatís so damn funny?" she demanded.
"You," he said. "Youíre an angry little woman with a mouth like a truck driver and you think you can give me orders. This is the first time Iíve enjoyed myself since moving to Chicago. Thanks."
At that moment the driver directly behind them yelled for them to get out of his way. Kate threw open the driverís door, held her badge up and responded, "Cops, asshole! Get a cab!"
She slammed the door as she climbed back inside the car. "Listen up, Vetter, because Iím only going to say this once. I have been with the CSTU for ten years. That makes me the senior partner. According to protocol, the senior partner gets to call the shots on the job. Get it now?" she said.
His eyes narrowed. "Just the same donít fuck with me," he warned.
"Believe me, I wouldnít dream of it."
Kate started the car up once more and continued her perilous journey toward Kafelnikovís office. Vetter refused to acknowledge the concern he still felt about her ability to drive. He sat sullenly on his side of the car after putting on his dark glasses.
She saw Monaghanís car half a block away when she pulled up slightly south of the office. She called him on his cell.
"What, are you guys on Russian time or something?" he demanded.
"Sorry weíre late. You can thank our friend Officer Vetter for that," she replied.
"Forget it. Kafelnikov is upstairs with a couple of guys we didnít recognize. Theyíve already been in for three hours. Nothing else has happened," Monaghan explained.
"Okay, weíll take it from here. Thanks."
"Everything all right?"
"Peachy. Iím having a lovely evening."
The sarcasm in her voice brought Monaghanís immediate sign-off. He pulled away from the curb so fast that Edwards swayed violently in the passenger seat. Kate watched the car speed away. She settled back to begin the vigil.
"You want to alternate?" she asked.
Vetter said nothing.
"Look, thereís no point in both of us staying awake all the time. If you want to grab a nap you can. Iíll take the first watch," she continued.
"You seem to be under the illusion that weíre working together," he said.
"Weíre in the same vehicle on the same assignment. I donít know about Los Angeles, but in Chicago that qualifies as working together."
"You do what you like. Iíll handle my end."
"Jesus." She settled farther down in the seat and turned her gaze toward the building where Kafelnikov kept his office.
The next hour passed with the two of them moping on their respective sides of the car. Kate kept her eyes on Kafelnikovís building. Vetter watched the building, the street, the houses on the block, his DEA training instinctively making him alert to every nuance of activity. The rain kept pouring on the car, making it all but impossible to see out of the windshield, and the miserable weather only served to heighten the feeling of oppression inside the Hyundai.
For three hours they sat silently on the dark street. A little after 3:10 two men emerged from the building. They wore tailored suits and coats that looked to be made of expensive suede. They spoke as they walked to their separate cars Ė one Mercedes, one BMW Ė and then drove off in different directions.
"I got the plates," Vetter said as he started to scratch numbers onto a pad he kept in the pocket of his fatigue jacket.
"Iíll do the descriptions and time notation," Kate replied.
A few minutes later they returned to their mute vigil. The light in Kafelnikovís office went out just after 4:00. Both officers tensed, watching the door to the building. Nothing happened. Four-thirty passed, then five and it was clear that the Russian had decided to sleep in his office.
Just after 5:15 the rain cleared. A faint orange glow began to shine in the east. Kate cracked her window to hear the birds. She loved this time of the morning before the world came to life. Vetter didnít particularly care for it. Since Staceyís death five years before he had spent too many mornings staring out the window at the dawn after a sleepless night to appreciate the sunrise.
At six the street began to come alive. Newspaper delivery trucks and buses started prowling the gray lanes still wet with the moisture from the all night storm. Streams of water still rushed into the gutters. Addicts of varying descriptions stumbled along the dirty sidewalks, but whether they were going to or from a debauch was impossible to tell.
Kate looked over across the seat. "You hungry?" she asked.
He said nothing.
"Jesus, Vetter, itís not a trick question. Are-you-hungry? If you are Iíll run into the Dunkiní Donuts and get us something."
"Suit yourself," he said.
She threw open the door and climbed out of the car in utter disgust, saying, "Try not to blow the surveillance at this stage of the game."
She returned a few minutes later with two cups of coffee and a bag containing two bagels. She offered Vetter one of each item. He accepted, muttering a barely audible "Thanks" as he took the coffee and roll.
"I figured a real man like you probably takes it black," she remarked as she poured sugar and cream into her cup.
She thought she detected a faint hint of a grin on his face but if it existed it quickly faded.
"How long do you think Porter will keep us on the night shift?" he asked.
"Itís hard to tell. Heís big on rotating people off assignment so they donít get too complacent," she answered.
He sat a moment before asking, "You think he put us on late because he thought we could do the least damage?"
She managed a smile at the question. "Yup."
"He doesnít know me very well then. If thereís one thing I can cause at any time, itís damage."
"No argument here. So you do talk. Wow. The bet around the office was that you had some sort of curse on you that prevented you from speaking in the presence of humans," she remarked.
"You have a nice way of expressing yourself," Vetter replied. "Ever think of going into poison pen letters?"
She laughed. "At least thereís some talk in this car. I was beginning to feel like I was on morgue duty."
"Are you always this optimistic? Because if you are I think when I come back tonight Iíll bring a black veil and vial of cyanide."
"Conversation is not a requirement of surveillance work. Iíve been doing my job. Youíre supposed to appreciate that, being the senior partner and all." The hint of sarcasm in his voice was as naked as a baby.
"Okay, I gotta ask you, Vetter: What the hell is the bug up your ass about working with a partner?" she demanded. "Youíre supposed to be some kind of super cop who was the terror of the California drug world, but having just spent eight hours locked up with you I have to say I canít see it unless California drug dealers are particularly susceptible to assholes."
"Thereís that nice mouth again," he replied.
"I mean it. Tell me what the problem is when it comes to you pairing up with somebody. You had a partner for how many years out there? I know youíre capable of working with someone. You just flat out refuse to do it."
"Thatís none of your fucking business."
"It is if youíre the partner Iím stuck with for the next few months."
He didnít respond. She stared at him for a long moment, then slowly began to nod, as if she just solved some ancient mystery.
"Itís not a partner in my case," she said. "You donít want to work with a woman."
"Youíre not as dumb as you look," he said.
She banged her fist hard against the dash. "Fuck!"
"Donít get your panties in a bunch. Itís nothing personal against you. I just prefer to work with men."
"You donít prefer to work with anybody. I canít believe youíre such a goddamned Neanderthal that you think women shouldnít be cops."
"I didnít say that."
"The hell you didnít. I expect this kind of sexist shit from somebody lower down on the food chain who still thinks to be a cop he has to be a macho imbecile, but not from a guy whoís supposed to be intelligent and has already worked his way up through the ranks to a special squad. Didnít your previous bosses point out to you that weíre all over the police department now?" she demanded.
"I hate it when somebody uses "we" like they own it. You donít represent women anymore than I represent men so stop the feminist crap. I promise, lady, I am an equal opportunity hater. Youíre nothing special," he said.
"Just so I can get a window into the mind of a sexist jerk, why donít you explain to me precisely what it is about women you donít care for?" she asked.
"Iím serious, Vetter. Iíd really like to know. Is it my ovaries you resent? My X- chromosome? Maybe you have some sort of morbid fear of menstrual cycles. Iím anxious to find out."
"My reasons are my problem," he said.
"Apparently theyíre my problem too."
"I said it isnít you. Why the hell canít women accept that not everything is personal?"
"Because everything is personal."
"Shit. Listen up, Shea: you could be a damned nun and I would still not want a woman as a partner. I donít have to tell you why and I donít have to justify myself. Itís the way I feel and youíre just going to have to live with it," he said.
She banged her fist into the dash again. "This is fucking great," she muttered, pushing back into her seat. "Eighty-nine days left with a complete moron. I love my life."
"Keep your voice down," Vetter commanded as a man walking by the car turned to stare at them.
"You need to get it into that thick head of yours that I donít want to be with you anymore than you want to be with me," she said, whispering harshly. "If you think youíre the one suffering here youíre way off. Three months with you is going to like being stranded on an island with Bobby Riggs."
"Tell Porter to get you another partner," he said.
"You know he wonít do that. Doesnít it concern you that if you blow a partnership with me youíre out of the CSTU altogether? If you donít care why donít you just quit?" she asked.
He shook his head. "Iím not going anywhere."
"You are if you keep pulling this prima donna shit." She leaned toward him though she told herself she should just let him slit his own throat so she would be rid of him. "Vetter, Iím really trying to understand this," she said, forcing patience into her voice. "If I can help you adjust to the way things are here Iíll honestly try and do that, but I canít if you wonít tell me what the hell is bothering you."
"I donít need your help," he shot back.
"Yes you do. You have a serious problem here, and Iím not just talking about in your job. If you have some chip on your shoulder about women you need to deal with it or youíll end up a lonely old man even more bitter than you are now," she said earnestly. "Now for Godís sake, tell me why you resent women."
For a moment she thought he was going to lash out at her but all he did was shift in his seat and say quietly, "Because you die too damn easy."
Kate fell the sky crash down upon her. "Jesus, Vetter, Iím sorry. I didnít put it together," she said quietly.
"This is a hard business sometimes -"
"I said forget it," he cut in sharply, his voice causing her to jump. "Letís just finish the shift."
She settled back silently into her seat. The two spent the rest of their tour without exchanging so much as a single word. The back-up team came to relieve them and Kate drove Vetter back to the precinct. He climbed out of the car as soon as it stopped. Before she could say anything he was in his truck and headed home.
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