i would know him in death (at the end of the world) - iupatar (2023)

Despite all the noise, the silence couldn't be louder.

Between the ambulance and squad car sirens, the shouts of the media personnel being held back behind endless strings of yellow police tape and the dozens of conversations happening all around him, Luca can't hear any of them.

Well, that's not true. He can hear one thing.

It's the voice crackling over the comms and into his earpiece, the one that's on the verge of cracking with emotion and just above a whisper.

"Officer down. I repeat, officer down."

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Strained muscles cry out in protest but Luca pushes past the fatigue and builds up into a jog. Chris is hot on his tail, and for once doesn't complain about his height advantage as he darts ahead and cuts a path for them through the crowds.

That jog turns into a sprint, and soon Luca is shoving and elbowing people out of his way. He knows he shouldn't, he knows that he must try and retain some semblance of calmness, that composure is key.

Fuck that. It's one of his own.

It feels like forever before the sea of people begins to thin out, and finally Luca breaks into a clearing. He hadn't realised the street was that long until he realises that they're at the end of the cul-de-sac, houses on either side of them and one directly in front.

It's in shambles. The bolt on the rusted gate falls right off and onto the overgrown lawn when Luca kicks it open, following the makeshift path of trampled shrubbery around the derelict bungalow to the backyard. It sits on a slight hill to the rest of the property, and Luca grits his teeth as he pushes past the pain and clambers up the incline.

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It's swamped with people. Uniforms, medics, hell, even a couple suits that are all pushed to the side once again as Luca struggles past them and into the centre of the space, an unkempt square facing another set of houses all currently framed by the dark night sky.

It's only then does Luca see it. And by it , I mean them.

Tan, first. Standing, facing Luca, though he's not looking at him. His horrified gaze is fixed to the garden floor, face frozen in a look of abject disbelief as his mouth hangs open. His hands are clasped behind his head tightly, and his gaze is unmoving even as droplets of blood gather on the hem of his sleeve and begin to dribble down his neck.

Hondo enters his eyeline next, on the floor next to Tan. His features are set in a similar look of horror, his mouth agape and tears forging paths down his cheeks that glisten in the dim light provided by the streetlights around them. His hands are grasping at something, arms outstretched and shaking as they hold onto the object like he’s all that’s keeping it grounded.

Deacon is opposite him, hunched over. His whole body is shaking and he’s staring down at something in his lap. His arms are tensing and moving like he’s soothing his hands over something, like one would do to calm a child or a pet, and


His vest is torn down the middle, as are his shirt and underlayers. Pale skin is marred with blood and dirt. Even through blurring eyes, there’s no missing the torn and bloodied skin surrounding a small wound on his torso.

Luca sinks to the ground, and fights the urge to wretch when he feels blood begin to seep through his pant legs. Clumsy hands grapple at the front of Street’s vest, trying to pull him up against him. His limp head lolls out of Deacon’s lap, hair slicked back against his paling forehead with sweat and grime and falls against Luca’s chest. The older man makes no move to stop him and simply sits back on his haunches, watching as Luca feels the dead weight of Street’s body settle in his arms.

Street’s eyes roll back in his head and they stare, unblinking and unseeing, up at Luca. His pupils are fixed and blown wide, dulling the warm brown of his eyes. The eyes that had sought out his over breakfast this morning, in the car on the way to work, while they’d squabbled over seats in Black Betty, and would now never see anything again.

Luca hears Chris wretch behind him and out of the corner of his eye sees her dive towards the rotted fence posts. She sickens painfully and someone goes to her side, but she shoves them away as her cries fill the air.

After that, everything starts to fade. The sirens, the radio feedback, the jagged breathes and cries of his team. His vision blurs at the edges until all he can see is Street, and he cradles his friend’s paling face in his hands as the world closes in.

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Tan’s hands continue to grip numbly at Street’s shirt sleeve until Luca yanks him out of Tan’s reach. Street’s arm sags lifelessly by his side until Luca grabs his wrist and holds it against his own chest as he cradles his head in his lap. Words, noises, cries fall from his lips but they don’t reach his ears - he wants to hear one voice, and one voice only, and it’s the one that just breathed its last.

He shakes his shoulders, his arms, taps at his cooling cheeks right where his dimple lays. He begs, prays to whatever God is watching these unholy events unfold and pleads for help and sanctity, but at the time he needs it most it’s nowhere to be found. He cards his hand through Street’s hair, his beloved hair, and shudders at the blood knotting the fine hairs.

Someone’s hands land on his shoulders and then on his arm, and then on Street and- no, no , they’re trying to take him from Luca. No, they can’t, he’s got him, he’ll keep him safe, he swears he will, he’ll be here when he wakes. Luca’s face will have to be the first he sees, and not some uniformed stranger standing over him. He’s about to say all this when someone pulls on his shoulder, harder this time, and he shoves them roughly away. Leave him, leave him be. Luca’s got him, it’ll all be okay.

When the next hand comes, he’s ready and is already flinching away with Street held tight to his chest when a warm palm comes to rest on the side of his face. It’s gentle and begins to wipe away the thick, salty tears gathering on his cheeks with a soft touch. Hondo , it’s Hondo, Luca realises. Hondo won’t take Street from him, Hondo won’t, Hondo will make all of this better - and as the very man’s face enters Luca’s eyeline, Luca’s heart drops to the soles of his boots.

Let him go. Let him go, Luca. He says. Tears flow in rivulets down the man’s face, choked cries bubbling cruelly in his throat as he fights them back . Luca, buddy, he’s gone. You need to let him go.

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It doesn’t make sense, Luca thinks. Hondo doesn’t lie, Hondo won’t make him give Street away, not to some stranger who doesn’t know him. Who won’t take care of him the way they always do, who won’t know how to treat him. Luca shakes his head to convey as much and suddenly Hondo’s grip tightens, forcing Luca to meet his distraught eyes as he repeats himself.

Still, it doesn’t reach Luca. No, no, this is all wrong, all wrong. It’ll be fine, it’ll be okay, Street is gonna get up and walk out with them any second now and they’ll talk the whole way home about wat movie they’re gonna watch over beers and bad takeout tonight. Luca looks down, expecting to see Street smiling up at him in silent agreement, but he doesn’t and in a matter of milliseconds the dawning realization is falling on him like a tonne of bricks.

Street, his Street. His teammate, his friend, his brother, laying dead in his lap as the sky begins to darken above them.


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