Monday morning, Dan slammed his car door shut and headed towards his classroom. Garrett met him at the front doors.
“I’ve been back here dozens of times, every single time yet another one of my siblings graduated, still weird to be here, especially doing this with you.”
“I appreciate the help. Throwing punches is about the only thing I really feel like doing today.”
Garrett chuckled. “Glad to be of service. Hope you’re in the mood to take a few as well.”
“We’re not fighting. We’re teaching them to fight. Remember that.”
“You scared, Danny-boy?”
Dan rolled his eyes. “Of my wife? Yes. Of you? No. But it would piss Fi off if we got into it again. Besides, I owe you too much to beat the shit out of you.”
“Says the guy who can’t.” He stuck the tip of his tongue between his teeth and laughed. “How is Fi and the littlest Vindico?”
“Better. No more bleeding. I know she’s bored out of her mind but she’s trying to rest. I’m taking her back to Kauai for fall break. That should help everything.”
Concern darkened Garrett’s features as he nodded. “You ever get anything out of your dad on the mystery lady from his past?”
“I didn’t ask. Still feel guilty for assuming he’d cheated. Mom and Dad are still trying to talk Lindley out of having her wedding at a hedonist camp, so he’s a little busy anyway.”
Garrett doubled over laughing. “Fuck, can you imagine what the press would do with that?”
“Yeah, that’s my fear.” Dan opened the door and gestured Garrett inside the school. “Fi and I did dig into the Wilshire/Bryant affair,” he spoke under his breath as they entered his office.
“Got pissed off and shut the damn thing up. I swear I’m trying to give a damn but I don’t. Whole entire thing disgusts me.”
“You ever think if you didn’t hate this job so much you wouldn’t hate this investigation so much?”
“That’s what I thought at first, but shouldn’t I love this part. Intel and investigations used to be what drove me. This just pisses me off.” Dan shut the door to his office and hung up his jacket.
“Yeah, you mentioned that. Dad let me know in no uncertain terms that they’re not pleased that you haven’t come back with more info. Why don’t you and I see if we can’t find out something solid while I’m up here. And I still think Portwood could call you right now and beg for your help on most any case that had nothing to do with this school and you’d be on it like women on me.” He waggled his eyebrows.
Dan shook his head. The fact that he was disappointing his own father and Governor Haydenshire ate at him. “You call the girl you got the number from last night?”
“Not yet. The next day call is a no-go. You haven’t been married that long. How have you already forgotten this?”
“Probably because I never wanted to know it. We need to get down to the gym. Go easy on them. It’s their first time fighting actual officers.”
“I’m always gentle on the first time.”
“If you don’t get your mind out of the head in your shorts, I will beat the shit out of you,” Dan warned.
“I’m trying to get you to loosen up a little. None of this is a big fucking deal. You have a case to work but this isn’t the Interfeci. If you don’t figure something out today, no one’s going to die because of it. So, the press is reporting bullshit and your family is being annoying. That isn’t new. You have a beautiful wife, a sweet girl, and another on the way. Get over yourself.”
Guilt edged away the annoyance he’d housed in his shield. “Yeah, okay, you’re right. Let’s teach these kids how to fight. Maybe if we find something out useful I’ll chill the fuck out.”
“I certainly hope so.”
Chuckling at a few of the women in Dan’s class whose eyes goggled when they pulled off their shirts, Garrett popped the crick out of his neck and set in to block punches and throw casts all morning.
Dan’s incessant complaining was getting to him and he hated how he always brought up Kauai as if it were some kind of fairytale land where nothing went wrong. They couldn’t just up and move Aida to Hawaii. He’d promised….
Shaking those memories away, he focused on the task at hand. Get Dan out of his funk and teach a bunch of cocky college seniors what a real police force was capable of. After that he’d swing by the farmhouse, check on his youngest siblings, and then see if Chloe was up for Netflix and chilling that night.
Not a bad day off at all.
“All right, today we are going to be learning how to take on multiple opponents in hand to hand combat. Ioses officers always work in pairs. That does not mean that your partner will always be available to help you out should you need it. I asked my best friend, Captain Garrett Haydenshire, former Assistant Chief of Elite Iodex, Interfeci Task Force operative, and current Captain in the DC Gifted Police Precinct, to help us out today. Tell him thank you.”
A chorus of thanks heralded Garrett’s way. He shook his head. “I never turn down an opportunity to leave Mentor Vindico bruised and battered.” The thanks turned to laughter.
Dan rolled his eyes. “For that, let’s have Jeff, Thane, Jess, and Sarah all take on Officer Haydenshire.”
Garrett sized up his opponents. “How far am I allowed to throw them?”
“Let’s stop right there, actually.” Dan stepped towards them. “Did you see what he did there? He is fully confident in his abilities to take on four of my students. His confidence is the first punch he’s going to throw. Before he even summons his shield, he’s let his opponents know that they don’t frighten him. However, Thane, how confident are you that you could walk away from a fight with Captain Haydenshire fully intact?”
Thane’s eyes flickered from Garrett to Dan before a sheepish grin expanded the width of his dorky face. Garrett tried not to laugh.
“Not terribly confident, Mentor Vindico.”
“Then his first move worked didn’t it?”
Don’t know why Dan hates this job so much. He’s pretty good at it. Garrett wondered what he had up his sleeve next.
“Let’s go on with this. The four of you circle Captain Haydenshire.”
They did as they were told though all of them looked more terrified than threatening.
“You aren’t actually going to hit us are you?” One of the girls asked.
“Depends on what your Mentor tells me to do.”
“So, you’re like Frankenstein’s monster or something?” Thane asked. Seemed the kid had found a little spunk after all.
“For the purposes of this lesson that works.” Garrett shrugged. “But don’t get cocky.” With a quick flip of his wrist, Garrett summoned his shield, casted the kid, and set him on his ass on the mat.
Dan laughed. “And there’s yet another excellent idea when you’re being threatened. Do something small, harmless, but that lets your opponents know you’re not to be messed with. He barely moved and Thane is on the ground.” Dan offered the kid a hand and pulled him up.
“Now, assuming Captain Haydenshire were actually going to engage you all in battle, his shield would naturally summon to protect him of his own accord.” Taking his cue, Garrett let his shield spill from his pores and surround him.
“His shield is going to struggle to protect him from four different opponents, however. So, the first thing he’s going to do is to crouch, protecting his shield and his major life-giving organs. If any of his opponents have a weapon that’s going to be the man or woman he’s going to take out first, but he doesn’t want them to know that.”
Recalling his own hours and hours of training, Garrett crouched low and noted the footing of each of the kids surrounding him.
“Did you see his eyes?” Dan immediately asked the class. “He just made a mental note of who might be easiest to knock off their feet. Go for it, Captain.” With a quick, relatively powerless kick to the side, Garrett knocked one of the girls off their feet. She’d been standing with all of her weight on her right foot making her balance precarious.
“And why did he take out Sarah?” Dan asked.
Jeff answered, “She wasn’t braced for impact.”
“Exactly. Now, what would you do next, Captain?”
Drawing his shoulders up, Garrett forced his shield out of his back to knock Jeff backwards to the mat. With his fists he demonstrated how he’d come under Jess with an uppercut and then take out Thane at the groin.
By the end of class, they’d each picked apart each other’s techniques and hopefully had taught the kids something.
Dan, at least, seemed pleased. “Hit the showers. You have a test on combat techniques Friday. I’ll see you Wednesday back in the classroom.”
After they’d showered, Garrett asked Dan to grab some lunch since his next class wasn’t until that afternoon. He needed to figure out just what Dan had discerned about the affair and the missing tests.
“Yeah, let’s go to Big Buns but I want to check out the test vault first,” Dan agreed.
“Now, you’re thinking like the Vindico I know.”
Discreetly, they watched the comings and goings of the Admin offices. No one ever approached the vault. No one seemed interested in it at all. “So, did you have to like turn in a year’s worth of tests or something before you started. I don’t get how they’re already out on the interwebs,” Garrett huffed.
“Only first semesters and the finals for both semesters. I have no idea why they’re still using paper copies of them in the first place. It’s Wilshire’s decision and according to him he likes to have copies filed in there for parents to see if their kids fail. He’s not all that tech savvy apparently.”
“Guess if it worked twenty years ago he figures it’s still good now.”
“Can you get in the vault whenever you want?”
“I can but only because I’m head of an order. Regular mentors don’t have access.”
“So, it’s order heads and who, Wilshire?”
“Pretty sure office personnel can as well.”
“This is pointless and I’m hungry,” Garrett sighed. So, maybe this wasn’t some cut and dry case. “Let me eat and I’ll be able to think.”
As they made their way to the parking lot, Thane was staring at what had to have been his car.
“Problem?” Dan asked.
“Yes, sir. Two of them.” He pointed to a flat tire and then held up his busted iPhone.
“What the hell happened to your phone?” Garrett asked. The thing was mangled.
“Uh, it was in my back pocket when you knocked me backwards, then I dropped it in the parking lot when I was trying to call my dad to come help me change this tire, then someone backed over it.”
“Here, use mine to call someone,” Dan handed over his phone.
“Nah, don’t worry about it. I’ll change the tire for you. Guess I owe you.” Garrett’s stomach audibly protested his goodwill.
“I don’t have a spare, sir. That was the spare. I’ll just call my dad.”
Five minutes later, Garrett and Dan were on their way to Big Buns. “I don’t have to buy the kid a new phone, right?”
“No.” Dan shook his head. “He shouldn’t have had it on him in the gym and you didn’t hurt it, whoever ran over it did.”
“Thank God. Were we that needy when we were in school?”
“I don’t remember being but I don’t know. Maybe.”
“All I know is I’m glad I’m out.”