Breed Book 4, Part 13


Mayumi watched cautiously as the police turned to leave. She’d been in enough skirmishes to know that when it looked like you’d won, when it felt like your opponent was giving you what you wanted, was when they were at their most dangerous; it was the instant when they were most likely to spin on their heels and put a knife in your guts. Even as they started to get in their cars to drive away, she felt an eerie sense of unease. “I hope it’s okay that I came,” a man said from behind her, making her start. “Oh. Sorry, shouldn’t have snuck up on you like that.” She recognized him even as she turned to see the man who’d shot her barely twenty-four hours earlier.   

“Officer Johnson.”

“Rob, if you’re comfortable with it,” he said, his eyes down, unable to meet her gaze. They flicked up, and then he smiled. “You didn’t expect me to come tonight.”

“Probably not ever,” she said, her voice warming. “You hope, when you make that kind of invitation, but you stop expecting things.”

“I get that. I’m not- this isn’t an excuse. But pulling that trigger- I’d never even pulled my service weapon before. My first reaction was to puff out my chest, double down on the othering rhetoric and make you an enemy worth being shot; inventing an elaborate lie about how you were Antifa, and how they were somehow terrorists, and you were going to do worse than I ever could, and… it scared me. You weren’t threatening me. You were barely even challenging my authority. I was out of line- no, I was so far over it I couldn’t even tell you how far back the line even was anymore.”

“You’re starting to sound less and less like a cop.”

“I’m not, anymore. I quit.”


“Technically, I guess I transferred, out of the police, and into the civilian side of government. I told them I didn’t honestly care where, or doing what. But I had to have a talk with the brass. Half were, rightly so, pissed about the shooting. The other half seemed upset I showed remorse over it. But by the end of talking to them, I think they were all just glad to be rid of me; they agreed to expedite my transfer.”

“That’s… congratulations, I guess.”

“It’s an odd circumstance,” he admitted. “I guess I just got tired of having that damage in my life, what it was doing, to me, and my family. What it was turning me into. And I will never be able to say either of these things enough, but I’m so, so sorry… and thank you. You gave me my second chance.”

“Everything okay?” Demi asked. Mayumi turned to see that Demi had brought their entire carpool with her. “We were watching, but we were getting antsy just watching him.”

“That’s… fair,” he said. “Christ, I’ve profiled people for so much less.”

“That’s unnerving,” Mikaela said.

“That’s how they get you; it all seems reasonable, in the moment. People who fit a certain profile commit terrorism, people who fit a different profile commit most violent crimes. It taints the way you think, the way you process, until you’re not just being more vigilant, but you’re looking for ways to fit facts into a narrative, even where it really doesn’t apply. I’m not defending profiling,” he put up his hands, “but it starts small, and so, so reasonable, and eventually you’re bending over backwards to find a reason to use excessive force on a protestor for making you feel less than. That’s why I’m on this side of the line- because it’s the right place to be.”

“Ahem,” Keane said, “hope I’m not interrupting.”

“It can keep,” Mayumi said.

“She’ll take some convincing, but I think the Mayor recognizes the right side of history; it’s just a matter of helping her build a bridge to it from where she feels trapped right now.”

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