Hawthorn '05: Counting Down

Today, in a few hours, we're gonna take down a scumbag called Marco. He imports fully automatic machine pistols and sells them to anyone who has the cash to buy one, including fifteen-year-old kids trying to impress their gang leader.

All the preparation's done; the full briefing was yesterday. Chris'll do a final run through when we get in. Since it's scheduled for six am we're gonna be up at four. Trouble is, it's only three fifty and I'm awake. Chris isn’t. He accuses me of snoring, but he can do his fair share of snoring, like he is right now. Do I get up now? Normally we'd both shower first thing, together - that wet room was the best investment we’ve ever made - but probably not this morning. We showered last night, and we'll shower after the bust, like we always do.

Three fifty-one. It's a Team Seven thing, soon as we're all free, and it has to be all of us, we head on down to the locker rooms and shower, then put on totally clean clothes. These are not the ones we keep at work for emergencies, these are brought in especially for the bust. Chris and I packed ours last night.

Three fifty-two. Now sometimes, mercifully it isn't that often, one or two of us might end up in the ER after a bust. This just means we have to go with them to the ER and then once they’re released, then we take the shower. If one of us has to stay in the hospital, then we wait until they're okay, back at work and Nate says they can shower.

Three fifty-three. Now don't get the idea that we don't shower in the meantime, because that would be gross. But it's not the same. Once we're all clean we head out for a meal. Not the saloon, someplace where no one knows what we do, some place where we're just seven guys out for a meal, not Team Seven, Los Magnificos or whatever they call us behind our backs.

Three fifty-four. We go someplace nice, not fancy like Ezra would like, but someplace you need to look clean and respectable, some place with napkins, some place where they take your order at the table. Ezra complains of course. But it's a hell of a lot easier to get ol' Ez to eat steak or fried chicken than it is to get Vin to eat anything that isn't - well fried, a pizza or sugar!

Three fifty-five. Damn it, Larabee, shut up! Not sure why or how the whole shower thing got started. We do tend to get the shitty assignments, in some pretty shitty places, and we've all seen things, things we don't talk about. Josiah, who is about as…as….as, well I guess the word I want is 'wise,' as any one I ever met, he says it's a cleansing ritual. Says it happens all over the world.

Three fifty-six. Now what the hell is that, there on the corner of the chest of drawers? That doesn’t belong there. I'm a slob, I admit it, but Chris likes things neat, so I do my best, and I know that doesn't belong there. Just what is it? Looks like a silver pot or box. Oh, I know what that is - duct tape. It's for our shoes in the morning, goes over the laces. Last thing you need chasing down a suspect is to trip over your own laces.

Three fifty-seven. Mind you, running down suspects is getting harder these days. I kid myself the bad guys are getting faster, but in all honesty, I'm getting slower. We both work out, we both run, but sometime or other we 're just not gonna catch the little bastards. There's my undershirt, on the chair. I don't usually wear one, but that damn Kevlar vest gives me a blister on my shoulder otherwise.

Three fifty-eight. Chris tells me to go get a new one or toughen up. Gotta remember to wear my working watch. I don't like to risk my regular one, Ma gave it to me for my eighteenth birthday. It's very slim, fits me perfectly, so for busts and riding I wear just a regular old-fashioned wind up one. Has to be a wind -p, what's the point of a spare watch if the battery's gone flat when you need it?

Three fifty-nine. Nearly there, if this was a normal morning, a normal time, I'd be hard, been waking up hard most every day since I was fourteen. Chris most mornings too. That's part of the appeal of the morning shower, taking the edge off - together. Damn fine way to start the day and no mistake. But at four in the fucking morning even little Buck is half asleep. Okay, here we go - seven - eight - nine.

Four AM. The alarm goes off and Larabee sticks out an arm and tries to turn it off. Yup - there it goes - waving about blindly. He's killed so many clocks that way that we moved it to my side three months back. I'm not switching it off yet, not if he can't remember that it's moved ‘cause he's not properly awake yet. The arm stops groping for a clock that's not there and his head comes up.

"Turn that fucking thing off!" he demands.

So I do. "Morning sunshine," I greet.

"Fuck you, it's four A fucking M. That's the middle of the night."

I kiss him anyway.