A series of bad decisions led them here. Too much wine at the Christmas party, a spelling mistake on a report, a bad-timed callout…
It could have been anything.
But now, they're held at gunpoint by a mad-man, and Kristen doesn't know how they're going to get out of it.
She's tried everything she knows. Police training only goes so far in these kind of situations and she's exhausted everything.
Breen seems to be reaching the end of his rope too. He speaks, voice tinged with desperation, trying to get the man to lower his weapon, to let them live, anything.
The gunman doesn't seem to want anything, though. That's the problem. They usually want something. Free passage, money, whatever.
But all this man wants is to prolong their suffering. He wants to make them bleed.
Over the sound of her heart pounding in her ears, Kristen hardly hears it when a team of armed cops storm the room and end the standoff.
They're safe. For now.
The back of an ambulance is where Mike finds them, wrapped in emergency blankets with cups of tea that Mrs Marlowe had turned up with after the violence had ended. It's rosehip, so it's WAY too floral for Kristen's tastes, but she drinks it all the same.
“You two did good work in there.” He says, in way of welcome.
“You had excellent timing, Senior.” Breen replies, entirely immersed in his tea.
“Even so.” Mike isn't uncomfortable, not really, he's a pretty empathetic man on a whole, but he's not wonderful at compliments. “Go home. Get some sleep. I'm proud of you both.”
But Kristin can't sleep. How can she? After the evening she’s had?
She tosses and turns for an hour or so before she grabs her phone off the side table and squints at the time.
The text message she sends to Breen isn't entirely out of desperation but she regrets it almost immediately. It sounds like a pickup line.
K: You up?
He replies in a matter of seconds.
K: You're texting from your sleep then, I take it?
S: Wish I was.
S: Wanna get pissed and not talk about it?
K: We have work tomorrow.
S: Mike gave us the day off which you would have realised if you hadn't been paying quite so much attention to that DISGUSTING tea.
K: Yours or mine?
S: Yours cause I'm literally in the car right now. Don't get up.
Even so, she can't help but feel a little bit flattered. They know each other so well now.
She gets up, puts on a robe, and pads out to the kitchen in bare feet. It's cold, the raw edge of winter just beginning to descend upon them, so she switches the jug on for tea as well.
Coffee doesn't seem like a good idea, for many, many reasons.
Breen arrives within a few minutes, and lets himself in when he does. This is not the first time this has ever happened.
Being held at gunpoint isn't something you ever really get over.
He's wearing a threadbare Star Wars hoodie and trackpants, thick dark circles hanging heavy under his eyes, and ginger mop all over the place.
“You look terrible.” Kristen says, bluntly, and hands him a mug of fruit tea. He hands her a bottle of wine in return, but she doesn't crack it open. While the lure of drinking to forget is a good one, she doesn't think she should.
“You look worse.” He says, even more bluntly, and takes the tea over to her couch. “I wasn't aware this was a beauty pageant, Kristen.”
“If it was a beauty pageant, we would have less of a chance of getting shot.”
“True that.” Breen sinks into the couch with a sigh. “I feel like shit.”
“Me too.” She sits down next to him, and clinks their mugs together. “Congratulations on not being dead.”
“Same to you, Kris.”
They both drink their tea in silence. It’s not an uncomfortable silence, not as weird as it once was, but it’s not particularly welcoming either.
“Do you ever… regret taking this job?” Breen asks, sipping his tea with a disgruntled look on his face.
That’s certainly a question. It requires a bit of thinking over. Has she ever regretted working for the Brokenwood Police? Yes. But it’s worth it. It’s always worth it. Despite the things that go wrong.
She says as much to him.
“Yeah.” Breen sighs. “I’ve never really hated it. Even after that time I dived into that wastewater tank to save that thief. Even then.”
That had been the worst smell of her life, but Kristen gets it. They plough through the shit (literal, as the case may be) because they get to help people. It may sound cheesy, but it’s worth it in the end.
Breen yawns and then immediately looks surprised. “I seriously thought I’d have to get way more drunk to get to this point.”
“Crawling inside a bottle isn’t the only option.”
The look he gives her is long-suffering. “You’re telling me that? Me? I have two beers and I’m wasted. I could never be an alcoholic.”
Alcohol abuse is worse in small towns. It’s something that they all spend a lot of time dealing with, and she knows that the drinking culture with the rugby boys is especially pervasive. She doesn’t want someone like Breen falling victim to it.
“Do you think gun crime is getting worse?” She asks, suddenly, not even sure why she’s brought it up. It seems like it is. A few years ago, she was never held at gunpoint, but now, it seems like it happens most weeks.
“Oh yeah, definitely.” Breen looks over at her and blinks. “Are you being serious? Of course it is. More arseholes with guns see people with guns on TV and think that they can get away with it.”
“Great, not just me then.”
Breen yawns again and sighs, looking around slightly blearily. “I’m not going to make it home, I don’t think. Can I crash here?”
“Yes.” She puts her mug down and moves to stand. “...If you make pancakes in the morning. Since you’re decent at that.”
“Decent?!” Breen yelps in protest as she walks over to her linen cupboard to get the thick blankets she’s got for such an occasion. “I am the pancake master. Stuart Nash would sell his soul for my pancakes.”
“Fair.” She agrees, grudgingly, and throws a pile of blankets at his head.
After he’s managed to untangle himself from every single blanket he didn’t catch, he pouts a bit and glares at her. “Was that really necessary?”
“Yes.” She replies, refusing to feel sorry for him. “Definitely. I’m going to bed.”
“Sleep well.” He says, as she puts her mug in the sink. “I know this is compromising my serious and emotionless exterior, but if I hear screaming there’s a fairly high chance I will come in to check on you.”
She wouldn’t expect anything less.