Sharon Hawks walked up the stairs of the precinct police station. She was right on time she noted. Which was just as well, since her supervisor was a colossal pain about punctuality. He was a pain about a lot of things, actually. Still, as long as she did her work, and did it well, there was never a problem to speak of.
As she sat down at her desk, she had to wonder how someone could really mess up in Community Relations. For the most part, she and her associates wrote pieces to be given to the press, or wrote speeches for police officers to give to the news reporters. Occasionally the CR staff interacted with the public to diffuse situations. She couldn't ever recall it being terribly strenuous.
She looked at the closed door of her boss, probably the strangest choice imaginable for any position in Community Relations, much less leading it. Every time he made an assignment, he made it sound like a crime that needed solving. The rumor mill intimated that Captain Arthur Haines was a very unhappy man after a bitter divorce and departure from the Seattle PD. He had come to Cascade hoping to advance his career and instead found himself as the head of Community Relations. The rank and file in his department soon learned what he thought of the division in general and the folks who worked there in particular. It wasn't complimentary – the exact word he had used was 'loser' – and as a result the department didn't have the best of morale.
Sharon picked up a file from the clutter on her desk, opened it, glanced at the contents, and had started to write when the door opened and the tall, stout captain stepped out of the inner office. His brown hair was coiffed just so; his suit was tailored to show him at his best. He looked good, and if he would just get over not getting a position in Homicide, Bunco, Robbery, or even Major Crime, he'd probably be a better cop. He'd definitely be a better boss.
"Hawks! My office!" Haines barked.
Sharon put the pen down carefully and got up to walk into the small office. She took the seat on the other side of the institution desk and waited for Haines to sit down as well.
"Seems there's a protest on the university campus that might turn ugly," Haines began without preamble. "We, of course, don't want it to get ugly."
"I understand." Sharon nodded. The university she'd attended had never been politically active, but she had heard of the problems that had existed on more active campuses from her grandfather and grandmother. "I'll do my best to do whatever needs to be done. Could you tell me the problem?"
"Bunch of redskins headed for the warpath over some bones and relics found at the construction site." Haines looked at the woman intently.
Sharon pursed her lips. "Sir, I will not repeat that statement, and I would suggest that you not repeat it either, especially not in front of a reporter. Not if you don't want a reprimand for making a derogatory remark."
"Noted." Haines tone was sarcastic when he answered her. He eyed her closely, carefully, almost predatorily for a moment, then asked in a silky, deceptive tone, "Sure there's not another reason it's rubbing you the wrong way right now?"
"Sir?" Sharon looked at Haines, confusion on her face.
"Well, you are an Indian, after all," Haines began.
Sharon shrugged. "I suppose you're right. But my family has been living off the reservations since before my great-great-great-grandfather's time."
"Doesn't change the fact that you are an Indian," Haines persisted.
"No, it doesn't," Sharon agreed, wondering why she was explaining her family history to the man. "It doesn't mean I'm going to side with them either." Sharon looked at Haines, meeting his gaze unwaveringly. "Sir, I'm a good cop. I'm good at Community Relations and I've excelled at negotiations and mediation. I'll do my job."
Haines let his eyes shut, then opened them and stared at her. "See that you do, Hawks. I don't want to hear you've made matters worse."
The morning was crisp and clear, a welcome change from the drizzle that had been the norm for anyone who frequented the park. Jim Ellison was one of a number of park goers who relished the break in the weather. He held Libby's leash loosely as they began their run in park. Libby excitedly took the lead, setting a quick, demanding pace.
Jim kept up easily with the brown and white wire-haired fox terrier. He didn't often run with the dog, but every now and then, when Blair found himself buried by paperwork that just couldn't be put off, Jim would get to run with her in the park. It made his own workout more enjoyable too.
The two ran by the Mr. Tube Steak vendor as he was setting up for the day. Jim grinned as he saw Libby slow momentarily then continue with the run. Even she could tell the hot dogs weren't quite ready to eat.
A flurry of color off to his left at the far side of the park caught Jim's attention. He stopped and turned to look directly at what had caught his attention, his eyes immediately refocusing for the distance.
A man in a garish purple shirt and green pants was tackling a well-dressed man at the waist. Another man in a plaid shirt and brown pants was tackling the man's legs. The victim was soon in a heap on the ground.
"Call 9-1-1," Jim shouted to the hot dog vendor as he took off toward the disturbance, Libby right at his heels. "Tell them there's a mugging going on in the park!"
"What the –?!" The vendor started then took another look at the racing figure. "Holy sh –!"
Jim was marginally aware of the vendor talking breathlessly to the dispatcher. He picked up his pace as he heard how long it would take for Patrol to get to the park.
Jim and Libby continued to move as fast as their legs could carry them toward the scene of the apparent mugging. Jim could clearly see the two men now wrestling against the third who was gamely trying to fight them off. The victim had managed to get upright, landing some well-placed punches against both men and was now on his feet again. Then the dark-haired man in the purple shirt landed a well-placed punch on the well-dressed man, then shoved him to the ground and ran off toward a bright green minivan parked at the edge of the green belt with something clamped under his arm. The blond-haired man stumbled a moment, then regained his footing and followed the other, jumping into the rear seat of the van.
Jim found himself unable to follow the two men when he suddenly started to sneeze. Not just a simple little sneeze, but a severe, hurricane force series of sneezes. When he finally stopped, the perpetrators were driving away and the sound of the patrol car was heard in the distance.
Wiping his eyes and clearing his nose, he sniffed the air trying to identify the offending odor. It wasn't sage, though it might be related to it, he speculated as he sneezed again. Whatever the hell it was, he wasn't likely to forget it.
Jim tried to focus on the disappearing license plate but his watering eyes simply would not cooperate. Still he caught the first three digits of the plate as the van finally disappeared into traffic.
Jim turned back to where the man was being aided by some passersby as the EMTs joined the now present uniformed officers. Seeing the man was being treated, Jim nodded to one of the uniformed officers and gave him a brief report, including the partial plate he had managed to read.
"We'll get this out right away, Detective." The officer nodded as he closed his notebook. "Good thing you were here. Don't think we would have gotten this much information otherwise."
"Such as it is." Jim shrugged. "I'll get a report to Burglary later today."
"No problem, sir." The officer grinned at him.
Jim glanced down at Libby as she began to whine. He knew their run had taken longer than usual; she probably was eager to get home and fed.
"All right, Libby." Jim assured the terrier. "You guys need me for anything else?" he turned to the officers.
"No, I think we got everything we need from you." The senior officer shook his head.
Jim waved to them as he started off at a trot to get back into the rhythm of his morning run. Libby looked up at him and Jim chuckled as she started to move faster.
As the two disappeared, the officers turned back to the victim. He was sitting on a bench seat, groaning and holding his head in his hands. The obviously expensive suit was rumpled and dirty; the man himself was battered and already starting to bruise from the beating he'd received at the hands of his attackers. The brown hair, once coiffed to perfection, was now askew and matted.
"Medea," he moaned when he finally looked up at the officers. "They took Medea."
"Medea?" the senior officer asked. He glanced at his partner with a worried look.
"Medea!" the man affirmed. "They took her!"
The older officer inhaled deeply and pulled out his notebook again. "Okay, tell me about Medea. Chuck, you'd better call the captain."
Suzanne stared at the scene around her with a feeling of dread. If the mediator from the PD didn't arrive soon, she was going to have to call for a small riot squad to keep peace on her campus.
It didn't help that the more politically active members of the student body had somehow heard about the bones being found at the construction site and had added their mass, and voices, to the small band of protestors. Still they were remaining peaceful, if rather loud.
The argument on the steps of the Hargrove Hall however, was fast moving to blows. If it had just been Harry Payne and Professor Grant, she would have been less worried about a fight breaking out. Harry and the professor would normally just yell at each other until one or both lost their voices. But Mike Coe was there as well; and he was a hothead who sometimes spoke with his fists as well as his voice, and could incite others to do the same.
She looked across the crowd once again and saw a small, dark-haired woman, smartly but conservatively dressed move through the crowd. Must be the negotiator the PD was sending over, Suzanne thought as she saw the woman dodge around a protestor and duck under another's placard. Hopefully she could defuse the situation.
Sharon Hawks walked up the stairs of Hargrove Hall. She had heard the chanting from across the walkway, even before she could see the throng of protestors. They were peaceful, so far, though the chants were a bit irritating and unnerving. She was hoping she wouldn't need to do much of anything; that the crowd would remain as peaceful as they were right now. Being vocal was not the same as being violent and unruly.
Sharon frowned as she read the placards: Return Our Heritage! Betrayed! Another Promise Broken! When Do We See the Profits From Our Ancestors?! Reparations Past Due! She could see where the situation could get out of hand.
Then she saw the argument at the top of the steps. Four men were yelling at each other; and one of the younger ones was looking as if he could lose his temper and strike out at the older man, a professor, judging by his more conservative dress.
She studied the four men. The oldest one was blond, small and slender. The three younger men were all Native American. One was tall and slender, seemingly the leader; the one with the temper was tall and muscular; the third was small and slender like the older man, and though adding to the verbal melee, he was seemingly the quietest of the three.
"What about the bones that were found this morning?" the angry tall student challenged.
A voice from the crowd picked up the words and soon the chant, instead of "Reparations past due!" became "Return our ancestors' bones!"
Sharon straightened her shoulders, moved closer to the older man and stared at the three younger men. "What about them?" she asked wondering how they had found out about them so quickly.
"Why haven't they been returned to the reservation yet?" the tallest young Indian demanded.
"Because, Harry," the blond man said almost wearily, "we still don't know if they are Native American or not."
"So when will we know?" the first man asked, turning his attention to Sharon.
"We should know in a few hours," Sharon told him. The shouts behind her indicated the displeasure of the crowd. She moved so she was facing the crowd as well as the three men. "I know you want this to be done sooner rather than later, but I also know you want the truth, and that takes time. Unfortunately, they are not the only bodies in the morgue."
The third young man who had been quiet until now snarled, "So like always, the Native American is pushed to the back of the line, right?"
Sharon gave him a second look. He might be the quietest of the three, but he was just as angry and volatile.
Sharon shook her head. "No, of course not. First the medical examiner will determine if the bodies are the victims of a crime; if not…."
"If not," Harry cut her off, "we get to sit on our asses and while Native Americans wait to be returned to their people."
"It shouldn't be that long." Sharon tried to sound sure instead of placating.
"Don't patronize me, Apple," Harry sneered.
"Apple?" Sharon frowned at the man.
"Yes, Apple." The other tall man moved closer to her, looming over her.
"Mike…." The blond shook his head.
"Whether I'm an 'Apple' or not doesn't change the facts. Look, I'm not trying to be patronizing." Sharon looked at the one identified as Mike, her gaze steady. "The truth is, yes, if the deceased are not crime victims, then there will be a bit of a wait. Unfortunately, there are other bodies at the morgue that must take priority."
"So how long you gonna make us wait?" Mike crossed his arms over his chest.
"No longer than necessary," Sharon started. "But –"
"More hogwash from the establishment and the Apples who serve it," Harry shouted her down.
The crowd took up the chanting again, getting louder and louder. Sharon looked at the crowd, then at the three Native American men who were standing there, looking rather pleased with themselves. She pressed her lips together, then tried to speak to the crowd. As soon as her mouth opened, however, the shouting from the crowd increased in volume.
As Sharon looked over the crowd, she noted a small Asian woman wearing a campus police uniform. Their eyes met for a moment, then the officer turned away. Taking out a cell phone, policewoman walked away from the gathering crowd.
Sharon sighed and let the crowd shout their anger and displeasure. When Haines heard about this he was going to be really upset with her.
Michael Rollins, Cascade Police Commissioner, leaned back in his chair and looked at the tableau in front of him, doing his best not to appear bored with the entire proceedings, and to remain civil to the two men who occupied his office. His morning had been busy enough when he first came in. Then Denton Smith, the man who had bankrolled his political career, had called him, demanding he clear his schedule to handle a serious problem.
"Sit down, Andy," Denton said patiently. "You're not doing yourself or anyone else any good."
Rollins managed to keep from rolling his eyes as MacDee turned to Smith and growled a response he couldn't make out.
"Andy, please, at least for a little while," Denton urged. "You're not doing your ankle any good. And if you can't walk, you can't show Midas or Medea."
In answer, MacDee sighed and sat down, his hand now clenching and unclenching.
"Michael, you simply have to do something." Denton stared across the desk at him. "You see the state that Andy is in. He was attacked in the park for heaven's sake!"
There were times when Rollins wished he owed folks less for sitting where he was, especially ones as powerful as Denton Smith. He caught the scowl from Smith as Rollins smothered another sigh when MacDee resumed pacing. Denton Smith was old enough to be his father, and sometimes, such as now, Denton acted as if he were indeed Michael Rollins' father. The displeasure Denton Smith showed because Rollins was bored with Andrew MacDee was very evident.
"Yes, you have to do something." Andy nodded vehemently, turning to face the desk. He pointed a shaking finger at the commissioner. "Now! You have to get Medea back."
Rollins kept his attention trained on Smith. "What exactly is all this about? All I've gotten is fragmented stories and none of it makes any sense."
"There have been – incidents – at the arena," Denton started to explain.
"So I've heard and so you've told me." Rollins nodded. "And the arena security has been handling it so far, with no need for the police to get involved. I know the security company; they'd call us in if we were needed."
"It's bigger than that now," Denton told him.
"Really? How?" Rollins asked.
"They kidnapped Medea!" MacDee shouted.
"Kidnapped?!" Rollins let his eyes move from MacDee to Smith. "Who's Medea?"
"Two men created a disturbance at the arena," Smith continued calmly. "It looked like they were trying to steal some dogs."
"I've read that report," Rollins repeated. "Now who's Medea and when was she kidnapped?"
"Well, two men – hooligans really –loosely matching the description of the men who were trying to steal the dogs, all of them Papillons, tackled Andy and stole his dog, Medea, in the park earlier this morning."
"So let Burglary handle the case," Rollins said patiently.
"You do understand that every dog that was nearly stolen, and the one that was, are championship dogs. Top champions."
"Yes, I understand that. But they are still dogs, Denton," Rollins answered.
"Expensive dogs," Denton explained tolerantly. "And famous in the dog circles." He stood up and walked to stand by MacDee, looking even more overbearing and fatherly. "You know, it's been fifteen years since the national AKC has had a show here."
"Yes, I know." Rollins leaned back to look up at the man.
"We want them to come back here more often. Yearly, if we can convince them to put it in their schedule. They bring in business. A lot of business. Incidents like this are not going to make them want to return any time soon."
"Denton, the security firm at Cascade Sports Arena is a damned good one," Rollins countered patiently. "They kept the dogs from getting stolen at the arena, didn't they?"
"So far," Smith admitted grudgingly.
"And Burglary is good at their job," Rollins continued, watching as MacDee started his pacing and hand wringing again.
"They may be good, but they haven't discovered a thing yet," Smith refuted. "And now Medea's Pride of Sorcery has been stolen."
"Him!" Andrew MacDee suddenly shouted excitedly, staring at the commissioner's wall intently.
Both men turned to look at the agitated man. He was pointing at a picture on the wall. Denton said, "I recognize that picture from several years ago--an old friend's son was named cop-of-the-year."
"That's him!" MacDee continued, nearly jumping up and down in excitement.
"He was one of the men who stole your dog?" Rollins asked incredulously. Granted, the man had been involved in that fraud fiasco a year ago, but still….
"No, no, no, no, no!" MacDee shook his head and rolled his eyes. "He was there in the park when they kidnapped Medea!"
"He was?" Smith frowned and looked at his friend.
"Yes!" MacDee turned back to the picture and touched the glass over the detective's face tenderly. "He ran after the two men. I bet he would have caught them if he hadn't been hit by a sneezing fit. And if he'd had a car, I know he would have caught the men who took my Medea."
Rollins closed his eyes and rubbed his head. The migraine, which had been simmering ever since Smith and MacDee had entered his office, exploded full force. Then he looked at the picture MacDee was worshipping. Smiling, he reached for the phone and hit a speed dial button.
If he was going to have a headache over this stupid little incident, he was going to share the wealth. And he knew who was going to share it with him.
Jim waited until they were in the hall and at the door to Blair's apartment before he took the leash off of Libby. The sound of the excited dog's yips was sure to have alerted his partner that they were back. If not, the fact that Libby was scratching at door would.
"How was the run?" Blair asked as he opened the door and continued to pack papers into his backpack.
"Not bad." Jim reached for the brush kept near the door and gave Libby a brief rub down He was rewarded with a tongue across his face and a wagging body. "Someone got mugged in the park; Lib and I chased the perps, but they got away."
"Just remember, Libby's not a police dog," Blair reminded Jim.
"I know that," Jim answered as he headed up to his apartment. "But you need to tell her. She sort of takes after you."
Blair looked at Libby. "You are not a police dog," he told her in a half-stern voice.
Libby looked up at Blair and wagged her tail answering with a small "woof."
Jim appeared at the top of the stairs and grinned. "I think she's telling you that even though she's not a police dog, she's a guide's dog."
"That's bad Jim, even for you," Blair groaned.
"So, when will you be at the station?" Jim asked.
"Translation: when will I show up to help you finish the paperwork?" Blair supplied. "I have an entire morning in the stacks planned that might run into the early afternoon. Sorry, you're on your own with the paperwork. And I'm late as it is. Can you feed Libby? Correctly?"
Jim sighed and wiggled a finger at Libby. "One correctly-fed dog, coming up."
As the dog trotted up the stairs Jim gave her a wink. He'd make sure to sneak some sort of treat into her regular food. He could have sworn Libby winked back.
Blair watched the dog disappear up the stairs, thought about repeating his command, then shook his head as he walked out the door. The day Jim Ellison stopped feeding Libby treats was the day Jim Ellison stopped eating at Wonderburger forever.
He closed his apartment door and made his way to his car, thinking of the research he was doing in the stacks. Urban myths were really interesting; almost as fascinating as sentinel mythology. And who knew when something he was studying would be useful? He'd already been able to use some of his urban mythology on a case. One he'd rather never think about again, actually.
As the car door closed, his cell phone rang. Sighing, Blair pulled it out of his backpack and answered it. It better not be Simon calling him away from his one research day.
"Blair? This is Suzanne Tomaki at the university. I was wondering if you could come by here today?"
"Well, I'm on my way there now," Blair answered. "I'm going to be at the library in the stacks."
"Could you possibly stop by Hargrove Hall first?"
Blair closed his eyes, seeing his research time being eaten away. He easily heard chanting and yelling in the background. "Yeah, I guess so."
"There's a protest here, as I'm sure you can hear," Suzanne went on. "And it's getting out of hand."
"Suzanne, I'm not a mediator. That isn't my area of expertise," Blair protested weakly.
"I need your help." Suzanne sounded desperate.
"Okay, okay, I'll try," Blair answered her unspoken plea. "I'm just saying it's not my area of expertise and I don't know that I can do anything to help that a trained expert couldn't do."
"I have an expert," Suzanne responded. "It's not working. I need your help."
"Well, okay." Blair rubbed his nose and mentally kissed his research goodbye. "I'll be there, if you think I can be of any help."
"Meet me at Hargrove Hall, Blair," Suzanne said. "And please hurry."
"I'll be there in twenty minutes," Blair told her "Bye."
Cutting the connection, Blair shook his head and stared out the window. He was right. A perfectly good day in the stacks shot to hell and back.
Simon sat back in his chair and put the latest report he was reviewing into the completed stack. Hopefully the rest of the day would remain nice, quiet and uneventful. He could use a quiet day to catch up on paperwork.
The phone ringing did not help his mood. A phone ringing this early in the morning was not a good sign as a rule. And the fact Rhonda had not been able to block the call or otherwise divert it made it even more foreboding.
"Yes, Rhonda?" he sighed.
"Commissioner for you," Rhonda told him. "He sounds a bit…cranky."
"Just what I need," Simon groaned. "A cranky commissioner. Very well, put him on."
"Banks, we have a problem," Commissioner Rollins' voice sounded loudly in his ear.
"We do?" Simon asked.
"Yes, we do."
"Okay," Simon agreed with him.
"It's a … kidnapping."
Simon frowned. Kidnapping. That's what it sounded like he said. Of course it also sounded like the commissioner was coughing.
"Who's been kidnapped?" Simon pressed on.
"Medea," Rollins answered. "Well, specifically, Medea's Pride of Sorcery."
"Excuse me?" Banks asked. Surely he had heard wrong.
"A prized dog from the dog show, one Medea's Pride of Sorcery, was kidnapped, according to the owner."
"You want me to worry about a dog being kidnapped? Or rather, stolen?" Banks asked, incredulous.
"It's not just any dog," Rollins said. "It's a championship dog. And this is just the latest in series of incidents involving the national AKC show which is here this week. When the dog was taken, a very prominent person was injured."
Simon removed his glasses and looked for the bottle of aspirin in his desk. He was going to need a few, he realized. First a stupid grave robbing case, now an even dumber dog theft case. And both of them sent to his teams because of political ramifications, not because they really were major crimes.
Simon felt the invisible band around his head tighten. The problem of who to put on another crackpot case was back on his plate again. Looking at the roster, he noted that Megan and Joel were up next. They should be able to handle the case without it bothering the rest of their caseload and without offending any one.
"Oh, and Simon," Rollins interrupted his train of thought. "I want your cop of the year heading the case."
"Ellison," Rollins commanded. "He's on the case. Got it?
Simon bit back the groan as he answered the commissioner. "Yes, sir."
"Call me when he's found the dog," Rollins said, then hung up.
Simon reached over the aspirin bottle and grabbed the bottle of ibuprofen. So much for a nice, uneventful day.
Jim walked into the bullpen, a smile on his face and a spring to his step. He barely noticed the harried expressions on the other officers' faces as he hung up his jacket.
The snap of a pencil brought his attention to Megan's desk where the Australian was working on a report. She looked up from the paper and glared at the sentinel. "Bugger off Ellison," she snarled. "You've no right to be so damned chipper this early in the work day. Especially when most of us have been hard at work and have nothing to show for our labors."
Jim raised an eyebrow at the woman, then turned to look at Joel in askance. "What…?"
Joel shook his head and chuckled. "Don't ask, Jim. And if you're smart, you'll stay out of her way. Way out of her way."
"You're supposed to be my partner," Megan complained. "So why are you warning him?"
"I warn him about you the same as I warn you about him. Be thankful he's chipper, especially since Blair isn't around. A grouchy Ellison without Sandburg is not a pretty picture." Joel continued to chuckle as he walked out of the bullpen.
"Hey!" Jim sounded hurt.
"Still should be a law about being so bloody chipper so early in the work day," Megan grumbled.
Jim ignored his coworkers and sat down behind his desk, preparing to get started on the pile of paperwork that was threatening to avalanche from his desk to the floor and beyond. It would have been better to do this work with Blair at his side, but then, Blair really needed to get some research done. Not that he understood everything that Blair was researching; there were times when he wondered if even his guide understood everything he was studying.
He checked the files on his desk and his smile grew even larger. Somehow, his partner had managed to get a sizeable portion of the paperwork done the day before and had left it on his desk for him to sign off. This left him with a lot less work to do than he had originally thought he had.
A messenger from another department walked into the bullpen and, after a brief stop at Rhonda's desk, proceeded into Simon's office. Jim ignored the messenger. He was probably delivering a case that had somehow been bumped to Major Crime and that meant someone was going to get another problem handed to him or her. It was hard to remember who was up next, and he sure has hell hoped it wasn't him since Blair wasn't here. Jim hated to start a case without him.
Jim sighed when he remembered the report he needed to fill out for Burglary. He had promised he'd get it to them as soon as possible. It wasn't going to be a long one, or a complicated one, thankfully. There was little he had to say about the incident. Of course he could mention the crazy scent that had sent him into a sneezing fit. He doubted it would help anyone but another sentinel. At least he could report the strange scent now; something he hadn't been able to do several years ago.
"Ellison! My office!" Simon's voice sounded in the bullpen.
Jim shrugged, put down the file he was checking and walked toward Simon's inner sanctum. Stopping at the coffee machine, he filled his empty cup, then sat down in a chair across from Simon's desk.
"Where's Sandburg?" Simon asked.
"At the university, doing some research," Jim reminded him. "And no, I'm not going to interrupt him. He doesn't often get a whole morning in the stacks any more, but he should be here later this afternoon."
Grumbling, Simon got up from behind his desk and checked the bullpen. "All that means is you're going to be working this case with someone else."
"Now wait a minute. I said he'll be here later this afternoon," Jim reminded Simon.
"Then when he comes in, I'll have him join you. But until then, you'll be working with Connor."
"Simon…." Jim began.
"Connor! My office!" Simon commanded, ignoring the detective.
"Simon, I'm a big boy. I can work cases by myself. I used to work all my cases by myself," Jim reminded his captain. "And anyway, she and Joel are working together."
"Yeah, right. I let you work alone and you zone, it's my ass that's gonna get ripped apart by a very angry Sandburg!" Simon glared at his detective. "You'll be working with Connor. Joel can help me with some of this paperwork."
"I don't need a keeper," Jim grumbled as Megan walked in.
"What's up, sir?" Megan settled into the other chair stiffly and looked at Simon as he sat back down.
"New case has been handed to us and you, Detective Ellison, have been asked for personally," Simon told them.
"Must be nice to have fans, Jimbo," Megan smirked. She quickly sobered when both Jim and Simon glared at her. "So why am I here?"
"I don't need fans," Jim all but snarled. "Sir, with all due respect, if you're going saddle me with someone, couldn't it be someone else? We don't work well together."
"Work together? You and me?" Megan looked at him then at the captain. "Unfortunately, sir, he's right. We get along like sparks and petrol. Unless Sandy is around, that is. Where is Sandy by the way?"
"At the university doing research," Simon told her.
"Remember when you had us pretend to be married?" Jim asked. "Remember that little fiasco?"
"I don't remember any fiasco," Simon said blandly. "You got the job done."
"But sir, if Sandy hadn't been there," Megan added, turning a fierce look on Jim, "you'd have been investigating another murder."
"More like a double homicide," Jim countered, giving her his version of an icy glare.
"Sandburg's not here," Simon told them, "and won't be for the rest of the morning. So you two will have to behave yourselves. Get along!" he bellowed. "Do I make myself clear?"
"Perfectly sir," Megan sighed in defeat.
"But sir…" Jim whined.
Simon stared at Jim. "Quit whining. It's unbecoming for a former detective of the year."
Megan smirked at the sentinel but sobered when Simon turned his stare onto her.
Jim watched as the captain opened a folder situated in the center of his desk.
"Seems someone has been attempting some kidnappings and finally succeeded," Simon told them. "At least that's how it is being viewed right now."
"Kidnapping?" Megan frowned. "Wouldn't that make it a federal case?"
"Well, no. Not exactly," Simon shook his head. "And, the victim is one," he paused as he read the report, "Medea's Pride of Sorcery."
"Excuse me?" Jim reached over and took the folder from Simon.
"Doesn't sound like a person's name." Megan tried to read over Jim's arm and was rewarded with the sentinel hunching over the folder as though it was an exam paper in high school. "Sounds more like a pony's name."
"Actually," Simon said apologetically, "the victim is a dog. A Papillon to be exact."
"A dog?" Megan looked at Simon incredulously.
"Bitch," Jim responded absently as he read the report.
"Now see here, Jimbo –" Megan turned angrily toward the detective.
"Correct term is bitch." Jim looked up calmly. "Dog is the male, bitch is the female. Medea's Pride of Sorcery is a female, so therefore a bitch."
"Oh." Megan looked at him in surprise.
"And since when is dog-napping, or even dog theft, a case for Major Crime?" Jim put the folder back on the desk.
Simon leaned back in his chair. "When the police commissioner says it is. And when the dog, uh, bitch, in question is an AKC champion."
Continue on to Act 3
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