Novation Productions Present Season Six Episode Six

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Snips And Snails And Puppy Dog Tails

Part 2

By Kittywulf

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Blair watched as Josh Grant groaned and sat up, rubbing his back. He watched as Grant leaned back over the pieces of mask he'd been given and carefully removed another chip of dirt. Hard, painstaking work, as Blair well knew, but it would be worth it if Grant could prove something -- anything -- significantly once he was done. Blair had offered to help earlier and had been politely refused. So he was relegated to sit and watch with Sharon, and try to keep out of the man's way.

Sharon finally broke the silence. "I want to apologize…. For earlier."

"I probably should be the one apologizing," Blair shrugged. "I didn't realize that Suzanne, Chief Tamaki, hadn't told you I was coming. I really wouldn't have –"

"– Taken over?" Sharon completed for the grad student.

"– Butted in," Blair corrected. "I mean, I'd have tried to clue you in on how to handle Harry differently."

"I see." Sharon suppressed the glare she wanted to shoot at Blair. "And thanks, I suppose. He is a rather – intense – young man."

"Oh yes indeed. He's very passionate about his causes."

"So I see." Sharon looked over at Grant working on the pieces. "And he does know how to play the crowd."

"One of his many talents," Blair agreed ruefully. "Unfortunately."

"You sound jealous." Sharon stared at Blair in surprise.

"Who me?" Blair looked back at her innocently. "He's a smart kid and he could do so much to help his people if he just wouldn't piss off folks so much. Something he hasn't learned yet in his PolySci classes."

"Maybe they haven't covered that subject yet," Sharon suggested.

"Or else he's just not listening because it's something he'd rather not hear," Blair countered. "Are you okay, Sharon?"

"Me?" Sharon frowned at Blair, confusion on her face.

"Well, he did call you an apple. So did Mike," Blair pointed out.

"He called you a kike," Sharon reminded him.

"Hey, if I can call him a crazy redskin, I suppose he can call me a crazy kike," Blair shrugged.

"It never bothered you?"

"Nah." Blair shook his head. He grinned at the piercing glare from Sharon. "Well, not after the first time. And not after I called him a crazy redskin. We had a real shouting match after that and got the air cleared," Blair remembered. "We learned how far we could push each other without showing disrespect to each other. And you never answered my question. You okay?"

"You mean about the apple remark?" Sharon asked. "Yes, I'm fine."

"You sure?" Blair studied her closely.

Sharon nodded. "Yes, I'm sure. I've heard it most my life. But I have to admit, it's the first time that the term really bothered me. And not because he called me an apple; because I pretty much am an apple. He called Dan Wolfe an apple. I mean …." Sharon pressed her lips together and struggled to find the right words.

"I think I understand," Blair nodded. "Dan is a lot of things, but an apple isn't one of them."

"He's a good man," Sharon stated. "And he's very much in tune with his heritage."

Blair studied her. "And you're not?"

"No." Sharon smiled at him. "And please, don't try and change me, Blair. My family was taken from the reservation a long time ago," she explained, "and never went back. I think at first they couldn't go back, and after a while, they just didn't want to. They'd changed too much."

"But –" Blair protested.

"Oh, don't get me wrong," Sharon held up a hand, cutting him off. "I've done a genealogical search and can trace my family all the way back to the reservation. But," she sighed and shook her head, "my family has become more white than Indian. I don't think I'd be comfortable back on the reservation, even for a visit. That doesn't mean I don't want good things for those who are still there and want those good things. I just want it to be done the right way."

Blair studied the woman, noting her ease with herself. "I see. And I understand."

Arlo stared at the dogs still growling at each other. Homer also watched, still looking dejected.

Homer looked over at his brother. "Arlo… he's not getting any friendlier toward Mimi."

"I can see that," Arlo snapped, wishing that Homer would quit stating the obvious. "Now tell me something I don't know."

"I still think it's your aftershave that's bothering him," Homer insisted. "Maybe even Mimi."

"Give it a rest, Homer." Arlo glared at his brother.

"It smells funny," Homer declared, "especially when mixed with your bath soap."

"Homer…." Arlo's tone was threatening.

"Well," Homer continued persistently, "dogs do have a very sharp sense of smell. You never know what those odors can do to them."

"Now I've heard everything!" Arlo threw up his hands.

"Well…" Homer looked over at his brother, shrugging.

"Just keep an eye on the dogs," Arlo ground out, "while I go get the Viagra."

Sharon turned her attention back to Grant. "So what is he doing?"

"First, he's cleaning the pieces," Blair replied. "Then, he's going to try and find out what kind of masks they are. He's going to make sure they're made from the proper cedar tree and have all the right markings to be Quileute masks. Of course, they have to be dated using carbon dating and other processes, to make sure they are old enough to be from an age when the Quileute were more numerous in the area."

Grant looked over at the two who had opted to stay with him while he worked. "So far, the only thing I've been able to determine is that they could be either Quileute or Quinault."

Blair shook his head. "That's not much help."

"I know it's not," Grant shrugged. "But I can't make up information to please them or you."

"Is there any way you can narrow it down?" Blair asked.

"Now you're sounding like Harry," Grant grunted.

"Now you're sounding insulting," Blair returned. "And lunch is nearly over and we're no closer to answering Harry's question than we were when we started."

"You know that there is no way to get any answer in less than an hour," Grant snapped. "It takes time."

Blair held up an appeasing hand. "I know, Josh. I was just hoping there'd be something which marked the masks as being made for the Tribal Store.  You know, the ones they sell to tourists?"

Grant grinned sheepishly at Blair. "To perfectly honest, so was I. But these – there isn't anything that says they are one of those."

"Could they be contemporary ceremonial masks?" Sharon asked.

"Maybe," Grant sighed. "But then the question becomes -- how did they get in this condition? No one, and I mean no one, is going to destroy a ceremonial mask. Not without a damned good reason."

"Accident?" she suggested.

Blair snorted. "Must have been some accident. All tribes have specific ways, set in tradition, of disposing of damaged ceremonial objects."

"Which, since it didn't happen," Grant glanced at Blair, then at Sharon, "could seem to lend credence to Harry's speculation about this being from a transient camp for the ancient Quileute. Sudden death of the person and no one left to dispose of the mask."

"What is with Harry anyway?" Sharon frowned. "And the others."

Blair got up and paced restlessly around the room. "Short version of a very long story is that Harry is trying to get more money for his people. It's not a big tribe and they don't have much going for them."

"Wait," Sharon frowned, remembering, "weren't they the tribe trying to get a casino on their land?"

"Yes," Grant answered.

"They lost to the Quinault," Blair continued. "Something about the distance from the main roads. Of course, one of the reasons was they weren't all that eager to over-modernize the area, not that I blame them. I mean, the area is beautiful –"

"But without the revenue," Grant butted in, "they are a much poorer tribe."

"So that's one reason Harry and his friends are trying to renegotiate the contract," Sharon surmised.

"Mike and Harry, yes," Grant nodded.

"Jack's a bit harder to pin down," Blair continued. "See, his grandfather is on the council who negotiated the original agreement with the university. So anything he says against the contract could be seen as a protest against his grandfather."

"That must put him in an awkward situation," Sharon guessed.

"It does, but it also allows him see both sides of the problem," Blair replied, "and offer suggestions. Not that Harry is one to listen to suggestions not his own."

"He does seem to be a bit more reasonable than his friends," she noted.

"I imagine that his grandfather has been teaching him the fine are of compromise and negotiation," Blair said. "As well as trying to show him the reasoning behind the original contract."

Sharon shook her head. "Can't be all that easy for him."

"From what I've heard," Blair said, "he'll be taking his grandfather's place when he dies."

"And how does Jack feel about that?" she asked.

"You know," Blair looked at her, "I don't think that I've ever heard him talk about it."

Grant rubbed his eyes. "I have to agree with Harry. The money the tribe gets from the relics the university is allowed to show isn't all that great, but the university has been trying to make sure that the amount paid to the tribe is more than adequate. I mean," he continued, "the artifacts are really priceless, both historically and anthropologically."

"And if Harry is right about a section of Rainier being a transient camp," Sharon went on, "then the university would owe the tribe more money?"

"Probably," Grant shrugged. "It would depend on a few other things, but yeah, it could mean more money to the tribe. Of course, the tribe might be interested in a percentage of the tuition money – it's a pretty large amount. Or maybe less percentage for free tuition for the tribal students. Granted, not many get to college; most barely graduate high school. But it might give them a reason to finish school if they thought they'd be able to go to college without having to scrounge for money to do so, like the three of them have been having to do."

"Especially Jack," Blair noted.

"Why especially him?" Sharon wondered.

"Well, Harry and Mike have family who are trying to support them. Jack…" Blair sighed. "Jack has only his grandfather."

"I see," Sharon mused.

Homer rested his chin in his hands and stared at the dogs. The two Papillon had gone from growling at each other to pointedly ignoring each other.

"Arlo," Homer began.

"I know, I know," Arlo groaned. "They don't like each other."

"Well, they don't," Homer sniffled.

Arlo glared at the two dogs. "They don't have to like each other. They just have to react to each other's hormones. Do you two mutts hear me? React!"

"They're not reacting," Homer said needlessly. "I guess we'd better try for that other Papillon that you saw, right?" He nibbled his lower lip. "I know, he's not from back East and he don't have all the points that Midas does, but he still has good blood lines and that's the important thing for Mama, right?"

"Yes, they're good bloodlines," Arlo said patiently. "And they're nearly as good as Midas' are."

"Of course, Mama would really rather have the litter's sire be Midas," Homer continued.

"At this point I don't care if the junkyard dog came in here and bred Mimi just so long as she got bred," Arlo snarled. "I just want the bitch bred so we can get the hell out of here and back home. So, tell me again, why did I agree to this stupid plan of yours? Why didn't we do things the right way instead of this way?"

"Well…" Homer twisted his fingers around each other, "we didn't have the money for stud fees. I mean … I figured he'd just take the pick of the litter. You know like Jessie did when his dog bred Mary Sue's. But he wanted $700 up front. And then there was a waiting period. $700 for that little dog to just … well, you know … with Mimi. And Mimi had to wait!"

Arlo shook his head. "Yeah, well, if you and Mama had looked into things, you'd have found out that champions are very expensive as sires. And why did it have to be a champion to sire this litter of pups?"

"'Cause that's what Mama wanted for her birthday. And that's what we'd promised her we'd get," Homer stated stoutly.

"No, you promised her," Arlo retorted acidly. "I had my own ideas, and the money to do it all too."

"It wasn't what Mama wanted," Homer said stubbornly. "And you should always give someone what they want for their birthday, not something you think they want."

"I offered to loan you the money to get the dog bred by a champion," Arlo said through clenched teeth.

"But we'd have to wait, and we can't wait," Homer pointed out. "Did he take the Viagra all right?"

"Damned dog puked all over my shoes when I tried to get him to take the pill." Arlo squirmed in remembrance.

"Maybe I can get him to take the pill," Homer offered. "I'm better with animals than you are."

Arlo glared at Homer. "I only had the one pill. I got it from the doc as a trial to see if it would do me any good. You know what doctor's visits run?" He shoved his face into his brother's. "Do you know how expensive the pills are? How embarrassing it is to get a prescription for them?"

Homer sighed sadly and shook his head, looking at the two dogs. "Guess we're gonna have to take Midas back and get that other dog for Mimi. Maybe he'll take a shine to her."

"You think?" Arlo snorted.

The sound of the dog's toenails moving on the cement brought both of the men's eyes from glaring at each other to watching the dogs. Mimi was sitting in a corner, her ears drooped. The strange dog, however, was making its way to the small litter box. It relieved itself by squatting discretely instead of lifting its leg against the small pole they’d provided.

Arlo squinted, then stared closely at the dog. He turned the glare to his brother. Suddenly he started slapping his younger brother around the head and shoulders.

"You dopey doofus!" Arlo shouted, not caring if he startled and scared the dogs or not. "You got Medea, not Midas!"

"Medea?" Homer dodged the blows.

"Medea!" Arlo landed one last blow to the smaller man's back. "No wonder they weren't getting along!"

"How was I s'posed to know? I mean –"

"You mean you never bothered to check!?" Arlo shrieked.

"Well, you were the one that picked him – her – up," Homer whined. "I just tackled the man."

Arlo took another swing at his brother and connected with his shoulder. "You were the one that followed that man every day from the hotel. You said he always took Midas for a walk. Midas! Not Medea!"

Homer rubbed his shoulder, sniffling. "I thought it was Midas. They do look a lot alike, after all. And I never heard him –"

"You never heard him?" Arlo loomed over his brother.

"I didn't even know he'd brought another dog here for the showing. Sheesh! Do you know how much the entry fee is?"

"Shut up!" Arlo shouted. "Just shut up and let me think. I gotta try to figure out how to fix this mess that you managed to get us into because you couldn't wait a few months."

"But it was for Mama's birthday," Homer reminded Arlo. "And we could still try and get Midas."

Arlo rubbed the back of his neck and closed his eyes, ignoring the man. "I won't kill my baby brother. I won't." He looked over at Homer. "I'll let Dad do that when he finds out what Homer's done. And had me do."

Jim walked around the Cascade Sports Arena, noting the changes that had been made to accommodate the dog show. It would be changed back when the Jags played, and again when the Orcas played.

The security officer who had met them was leading them around, explaining all the security details that had been put into place since the first attempt to steal a dog.

"And you were here when the two men tried to steal the dog?" Megan asked.

"Yes ma'am," the guard answered. "Saw them trying to open the cage and get the dog out. I noticed they weren't wearing the ribbons around their arms. So I just hollered for help. That seemed to startle them and they stopped what they were doing and ran like hell. I'm just sorry we lost them in the crowd."

"I don't think anyone could have caught them once they reached the crowd." Megan surveyed the area thoughtfully. "And you've increased security?"

The guard nodded. "As much as we can without the owners getting too upset about moving around back here. But to be perfectly honest, there's just so much our security firm can do."

"Did the two seem interested in any other breed?" Jim asked.

"No sir, not that I could tell. None of the other breeds were bothered. And," the guard added, "none of the other Papillons. Just Mr. MacDee's dog."

"I see," Megan nodded. "Thank you."

"You're welcome," the guard replied. "If you need anything…"

"We'll call," Jim promised.

Megan followed Jim around the area as the dogs were brought from cages and gated areas and taken to central areas to be brushed, fluffed and made ready for the ring.

"Good lord, and men complain about the stuff women go through for a date," Megan stared at the coiffing and grooming the dogs were undergoing. "I think these poor beasts go through much more."

"And all they get is a snack and a 'good girl' or 'good boy'," Jim pointed out. "At least you get dinner, dancing and whatever else may be offered."

"And sometimes we have to fend off the whatever else," she reminded him.

"So, are you getting the impression that our two dog snatchers were after one particular dog?"

"Yes," Megan agreed, "just one."

"Question is why," Jim mused.

"Okay, according to the information that Smith gave Burglary, Midas' Cup of Gold is the top champion Papillon. He has more points than the West Coast Champion does right now."

"That's possible," Jim concurred. "It would depend on the number of shows that Midas has won verses what the local champ has won."

"Is there any reason you can think of that someone would go after that dog?"

Jim stopped walking and rubbed his forehead. "I don't remember all that much about the Conformation side of the show, just the Obedience side. But I'd wager there are those that are making book on who would win and who wouldn't."

"Betting on a dog show?"

Jim just looked at her. "Connor, you and I both know that there are folks who would bet on just about anything,"

"All too true. But the outcome of a dog show is a bit lame." Megan frowned at Jim. "The punsters can't be making much off of it."

"Still, it's a place to go looking."

"No," Megan shook her head. "No, we are not going to check out your bookmaking snitches."

"Now that you mention it –"

"I won't stand to be groped by your snitches, Ellison," Megan warned. "And you can give Sneaks your shoes."

"Relax, Connor," Jim grinned. "You aren't Eddie's type and your shoes aren't the kind Sneaks favors."

"Ha, ha," Megan smirked. She looked around at the activity, then at Jim. "Bet this is bringing back memories, isn't it, Jimbo?"

Jimmy and Champ were waiting for their turn at the competition. He had been working closely with Champ for the last twelve weeks, skipping everything but the essentials. Still there was something missing, and he knew it. Champ seemed to know it as well. There was a nervous tension in the dog that had never been there before.

"Just do your best, boy," Jimmy whispered to the dog. "That's all you can do. You leave the rest up to me."

He heard their names called and the two went into the ring, following the routine as ordered. He thought they had made it through without a flaw until near the end. The flaw was such a minor one that he hoped the judge had missed it.

As the judge made his rounds, Jimmy held his breath. All but four were waved off. The fourth place was handed out to a young girl; the third was given to the small boy with the equally small dog.

The judge looked between Jimmy and the girl in the ring. Finally he handed out the last two ribbons.

The one in Jimmy's hand was red.

"Yeah," Jim grunted. The smile was gone from his face. "Let's see if we can see how they might have gotten into this area of the arena."

Megan shook her head and followed the tall detective around the back area of the arena. "Security looks okay."

"Not bad for a public event," Jim agreed. "There might be a few places that someone could slip in. Of course, it might have been beefed up since the attempts to get Midas."

Megan looked at the detective's pinched face. "Are you getting anything?"

Jim started to snap at Megan, then simply shrugged. "No, just a headache from the smells and all the yapping and barking."

"Are you sensing anything out of the ordinary?"

Jim rolled his eyes and shook his head. "I'm not a psychic, Connor."

"Sorry, mate," Megan shrugged. "Just trying to help."

"Well, you're not," Jim complained rubbing his head.

"What is it Sandy keeps telling you?" Megan suggested. "Dial it down?"

Jim shook his head again. "It won't help me find that scent."

Megan and Jim continued to look around. "With all this security, I can't see a way in."

"Frankly," Jim admitted, "neither can I."

"Excuse me." A different guard walked toward them. "May I see your passes to be here?"

Megan and Jim both showed their Cascade P.D. badges and the guard nodded, then continued on his way.

"That just goes to show that the security team is on the ball," Megan noted.

"With all these valuable dogs, they'd better be," Jim added. "The owners have a lot of money invested into these dogs."

"I'm betting there is still a way in here," Megan fretted.

"Yeah," Jim sighed. Megan frowned at him as he looked at her. Jim picked up his pace and continued to walk around the staging area. "And we'll find it, the old-fashioned way. Come on."

"I'm coming," Megan muttered as she trotted after him. "Just keep it under fifty for the sake of those of us who don't have quite as long a stride as you do."

Continue on to Act 2

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