Author: evilgrin ( [email protected] )
Title: I CAN’T LET YOU GO
Fandom: A Man Apart
Warning:drugs, gunplay, violence, murder, het sex consensual/anal/oral
Pairing: Sean Vetter/Jeanette Harding (OFC)
Disclaimer: I do not own Sean Vetter, or any of the other characters from A Man Apart. Any characters not recognizable are my own, and any resemblance to people alive or dead is coincidental. El Paso, Texas, is of course a real place, as is the El Paso Intelligence Centre. All other locations are fictitious. I make no money from this, and it is intended for entertainment purposes.
Summary: Takes place 1 1/2 years after the events of AMA. Vetter moves to El Paso, to work for EPIC, where he gets involved in a drug war, corruption, and falls in love with a girl at the cemetery
Archive: FDB, VX
Feedback: In this thread only please. No shreds; I write for fun only
notes: a pic of the skyline of the area that really caught my eye….
and a special thanks to njrd, who asked for a Vetter fic…
copyright © 2006 xxxevilgrinxxx
According to the 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, during the latter half of the 1990s, heroin initiation rates rose to a level not reached since the 1970s. In 1974, there were an estimated 246,000 heroin initiates. Between 1988 and 1994, the annual number of new users ranged from 28,000 to 80,000. Between 1995 and 2001, the number of new heroin users was consistently greater than 100,000. Overall, approximately 3.7 million Americans reported using heroin at least once in their lifetime.
…South America and Mexico supply most of the illicit heroin marketed in the United States.
El Paso and its sister city, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, comprise the largest metropolitan area on the border between the U.S. and Mexico. …West Texas serves as the gateway for narcotics destined to major metropolitan areas in the U.S., which is commonly referred to as the El Paso/Juarez Corridor…
The El Paso Division (El Paso Intelligence Center ,Fort Bliss, Texas) area-of-responsibility covers 54 counties in West Texas and New Mexico, comprising 778 miles, which is approximately 40% of the U.S./Mexico Border.
(The) total value of all of the drugs sold in the US is as much as $64 billion a year….(The DEA faces criticism for) focusing only on the operations that it can seize the most money from, namely the organized crime cross border trafficking of heroin and cocaine.
DEA Administrator Karen P. Tandy. “In major drug trafficking operations, money is the thread that unravels the drugs and devastation otherwise hidden by dealers. DEA knows where money leads, and we will be relentless in going after it.”
“That’s what, the eighth one this month?”
Trying not to breathe through my nose. It just had to be July. Thirty eight degrees, in the shade. I wish that buzzing sound was anything but what it was, the sound of blowflies. Doesn’t mean the body’s been here long, not in this heat. I’d say maybe a day, day and a half. The warehouse is dark, what little light there is filtered through dirty and broken windows. Even in the dark we could have found him. There’s no mistaking the smell. The smear of ointment, camphor, under my nose doesn’t do much to cut it either. Supposedly you get used to it. My partner, Alvarez, Ramon Alvarez, laughed at me for even bothering with it. He asks me how I’m ever going to get used to the smell if I keep using that stuff. It’s not a smell I want to get used to. The ointment does make it easier to talk without gagging.
“You lucked out, Vetter. We could be standing here in late August, half an inch of rainwater in here, with this mess.”
He sounds almost gleeful about it. Alvarez is crouched down by the body of the dead junkie, using a pen to poke at the body. Lifting ratty sleeves to check for the obvious signs of track marks. He’s not really expecting to find any. If junkies were injecting this stuff, we’d have a lot more than just eight dead bodies. It would be an epidemic. The heroin coming across the border is running at around eighty percent pure, and that’s after being cut.
“Throw the damned thing away, Alvarez.”
“What? It’s a perfectly good pen.”
He’s wiping the pen on the hem of a gaudy green Hawaiian shirt. Yesterday, it was a gaudy blue Hawaiian shirt. With parrots.
“I think the DEA can spring for a box of pens. I don’t want to watch you chewing on the end of that thing later on.”
“You know what kind of paperwork you have to fill out for that, Sean? I’d go through more pens just asking for more pens.”
I can’t help but laugh at that, which of course makes me breathe through my nose, making me regret I did it. Doesn’t bother Alvarez in the least. Then again, he hangs around down in the morgue out of curiosity some days. Probably just as well, it’s where we managed to learn of the first two overdoses. I suppose morbid fascination has it’s uses.
The first two victims weren’t what most people would normally expect, when they thought of death by heroin overdose. Two students, found in the University’s parking lot at six in the morning, clean cut, well fed. They both lived at home with their parents, who, not surprisingly, said that of course their little darlings could never have tried heroin. No track marks, not that that means much these days. A lot of people smoke it, rather than inject, with the fear of AIDS. The coroner said that was how those two died. The heroin was almost ninety percent pure. The family seemed pretty eager to hush it all up. So did the University. We wouldn’t have heard of it at all, except that Alvarez was sitting on the counter opposite the coroner at the time of the autopsies. Eating a sandwich.
“Let’s go home, get something to eat. I’m starving.”
He’s always thinking with his belly. How he can think of eating, standing a few feet from a fly-blown dead body rotting in the heat, I’ll never know.
Alvarez has the sheer footed agility of a heavy man that’s been heavy all his life. Gracefully stepping around the broken bottles and scrap metal beside the railroad tracks.
I was paired with Alvarez, two months ago, when I first came to the DEA’s El Paso Intelligence Centre. I was supposed to ride a desk for a while, after getting shot. After being suspended. Haven’t done much of that, although it did start out that way. Alvarez gets restless, looking at the piles of papers spread out over his desk. To anyone else, it would look like a disorganized mess, but Alvarez sees patterns. He’ll move the papers, the pictures, around occasionally. His fist will bang on his desk, and he’s up. Sometimes he’ll say ahead of time where he’s going, but more often, I have to wait until he arrives wherever it is he’s set off for.
To look at Alvarez, you’d think he would be happy just doing paperwork in an air conditioned office, and, to be honest, I had at first dismissed the man. Ramon’s mind more than makes up for his appearance.
Easily heavier than me. His file says he’s two twenty. He must have starved for a month to pass the physical. I’m two twenty. Alvarez has got at least forty pounds on me, and he’s shorter than me, 5′ 10″, to my six feet. Black hair falls in a thick ponytail to the middle of his back. Technically, we both have brown eyes and black hair. I started shaving my head and working out when I was still a teenager, it would feel strange to stop doing it now. Both of us dress casual, being undercover is a big part of what we do. I had thought I would have to change that, and start wearing suits, when I came here. Alvarez takes casual to an extreme, with a fondness for loud Hawaiian shirts.
Our desks face each other, in the office. It’s common for secretaries, and other agents, to walk by the desks , and ask us if we know how different we look from each other. Alvarez always says he’s the prettier one.
The agency car lowers, on his side, when he gets behind the wheel. I’m more than happy to let him drive. I haven’t spent much time getting to know the area too much, although I should. I’m not going back. Nothing to go back to anymore.
I don’t need to ask where we’re going for lunch. Alvarez guides the company car along the train tracks beside the warehouse, headed for home. For him, that’s a small bungalow not far from the office, where he lives with his wife Adriana and their two boys, Sandro and Miguel. For me, home is an even tinier bungalow close to the University. I haven’t unpacked yet, and, as it’s been two months, it looks like I might never get around to it. Adriana keeps sending her husband extra sandwiches, for me. I have a case of beer in my fridge, and that’s it, so I don’t mind.
Alvarez pulls in front of the small white and green trim bungalow, avoiding toys scattered in the driveway. Doesn’t seem to matter where you are in the city, the sight of the rugged mountains on the Mexico side, rising above the city of Ciudad Juarez, will hold your eye. I lived on the coast my whole life. Never lived near mountains. The Rio Grande runs in a dark blue-brown line, in the foreground, between Mexico and the Texas border. I find myself eyeing that muddy river on an almost daily basis, wondering whether the next truck driving across the border is the one carrying killer heroin into the US through Texas.
Alvarez grabs a couple of sandwiches, ready made, from the fridge, after checking the house to see if Adriana and the boys are home. He does it every time. I’ve never seen Alvarez unhappy, but he’s happiest when he’s here. Adriana once told me I was the first partner he had ever brought home with him. He told me later it was because I knew when to keep my mouth shut. He has morbid fascinations, but they never touch his home, his wife, his kids.
As much as I’ve grown to love Adriana and the two boys, I’m grateful that they’re out today, most likely at church.
I left everything behind. Maybe there just wasn’t anything left anymore, except the idea of what could have been. The pain of her being gone never leaves. I couldn’t stay at my house, it wasn’t my home anymore. I couldn’t even go inside. When I did, everything went grey at the edges, that night washing over everything. It was worse when the night of her death wasn’t the first thing I thought of. I’d touch something of hers, something forgotten after Hicks and Candice cleaned everything out, and I could almost hear her laughter, or just her voice. Hicks understood, he just didn’t know what to do anymore. Not after a year had passed and I still couldn’t let go. Candice was just afraid. I was like a bad penny, and just having me around had her terrified for her husband, her child. She pushed me away, and, loving her, Hicks did the same. I requested a transfer. Hicks and I have spoken on the phone a few times, but it’s strained. It feels like another loss.
We sit quietly for a few minutes, in the shade out back. Listening to a little girl laughing two houses over, the high brittle sound of it carrying easily in the still air.
“Why are we the only two interested in this, Alvarez?”
He watches me carefully, taking another bite of his sandwich. I’m thinking a lot of people look at Alvarez, and take him lightly, maybe thinking that the image on the outside means a slow and lazy mind. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. He drops the disarming smile, and he’s all business. He’s watching me, deciding whether I will get the easy to digest answer, right out of the company handbook or whether he should tell me what he really thinks. After another bite, he turns forward again, looking out across the yard.
“Aside from the first two, the two everyone was so eager to not acknowledge in the first place, who else has been killed?” He waves his sandwich. If he doesn’t finish it soon, he’s going to start talking with his hands.
“Six junkies. Maybe the cops don’t care, but we’re supposed to. Aren’t we? To us it’s more than just dead junkies. This stuff coming across is almost eighty to ninety percent pure, after cutting. It’s going to kill more than six.”
“People expect junkies to OD, and as long as it doesn’t touch them, they’ll be more than glad not to see it. The University was more worried about people hearing about two kids dying in their parking lot, than in them dying in the first place.” He lets out a deep sigh, not sad, but angry. He has two kids of his own, after all.
Jennifer Allerton and Jeremy Brubaker. They were eighteen. Even their own parents want it hushed up. The stigma of having their kids die from a heroin overdose worse for them than having their kids dead.
“Why those two kids first, I wonder?” It’s said almost under my breath, as Alvarez and I head back through the house, to the car.
“There may be hope for you after all. You keep asking the right questions.”
I had thought, at first, that I was getting stuck with Alvarez when I first came on at EPIC. It seems he thought he was being stuck with me. The first few times, when he wanted to leave his desk, to go get a better look at things for himself, as he calls it, he gave me a funny look. Like he wasn’t sure whether he could really trust me with his off desk investigations.
“So we should be looking into the University?”
“How many junkies have you heard of that go out of their way to find a nice respectable place to shoot up?”
I’m nodding my head with him, as we drive across town. I don’t need to ask where we’re going. We’re going to the University, whether the faculty want us there or not. Somehow I doubt we’re going in any official capacity.
“Two University students die of an overdose, on school property. They bought the heroin there? Or somewhere close by.”
He’s giving me another one of those hard looks, before looking out the window. We passed the bookshop on the way. A glimpse of long dark hair, a ponytail, and we’ve passed it already. Pulling alongside the University grounds. Parking just across the street, where we can watch students come and go.
“What if…” his voice is quiet, like he’s not sure he wants to say it out loud yet. I hate being tested, but he’s only been my partner for a couple of months. Hicks and I had been friends since we were kids. Trust will take a while. “What if the two kids didn’t OD at all.”
We both know nice kids die of heroin overdoses too. “You mean not an accidental OD. You mean like suicide?”
“I mean like murder.”
The weight of what he’s said sits in the car with us, as we watch students walking around in the sunshine, walking right over the spot where the two students were found dead in their car.
“Murder dressed up like an overdose, to keep everyone involved quiet. To keep the cops out. Why investigate a simple OD. We’re kept out, by the parents and the University, who both want it swept under the rug. So who’s involved then? The school…the parents?”
“The name Brubaker wouldn’t ring a bell with you, you’re new. He used to be DEA here, years ago. He took early retirement, at forty five. Him and his wife live in one of the huge new homes built beside a man made lake. Two million dollars. That’s what a house four doors down from theirs costs, and it’s a smaller house. You ever live in a two million dollar house?”
So Brubaker was dirty. “And now Brubakers’ kid is dead of a heroin OD on University property. Brubaker, as a parent, would want it hushed up anyway. The University wants it hushed up. Everybody’s looking out for their reputation, and two kids are dead.”
“The cops don’t get involved in a heroin overdose. I’m sure Brubaker still has enough pull at the DEA to see to it that the DEA doesn’t get involved.”
“Why would they do that, Alvarez? Why would they stay out of it? Eight dead so far, and it’s not even been a week, it’s going to get a lot worse.”
“Worse defined by who? Look at them over there,” He’s pointing to clean, well dressed students sitting on the edge of the stairs. “Do you think they even see junkies as people? A lot of cops don’t either, for that matter. What’s another dead junkie to them? As long as it doesn’t touch their lives in any appreciable way, they’re more than glad to keep their eyes closed to it.”
I return to the question I started with, back at the house. “So why isn’t the DEA getting involved?”
He pulls away from the curb, driving around the block, after looking at his watch. I’m watching the bookstore again, hoping to catch a glimpse of her, as we drive by. Four in the afternoon. He’s dropping me off at home. I almost missed what he said.
“Money, Vetter. A hell of a lot of money.”
I throw my keys down on the coffee table when I get in. I have one of those key rack things somewhere, in one of these boxes. Maybe if I ever get around to unpacking, I’ll find it. Right now, everything I need is on the coffee table. The house is quiet, and empty. I had a TV, for a while, thinking that the white noise would make being here alone easier. I’d hear a woman’s voice, and the hurt would start again, so I pushed it into a closet, with some other boxes. It’s been a year and half, since she’s been gone, and still, the sound of a woman’s voice will hurt sometimes.
I grab a beer from the fridge, rethink it, and grab the other three left in the case as well. Resting the case on my hip, as I lock the door behind me. Standing on my porch, I almost turn back, my nerves rattled at the thought. It’s a fifteen minute walk down to the cemetery. The small sips of beer doing nothing for the butterflies in my stomach. I wonder if she’ll be there.
Copyright © 2006 xxxevilgrinxxx