By the time Miro and Philipp had finished interrogating the three friends of Kevin and were escorting them out, Thomas had returned from the lab. He was waiting on results from their leading examiner, Holger. He was seated at his desk, fingers steepled together and watched as the three boys that they had brought in earlier left through the front door. His lips were pursed and he watched as Miro returned into the office.
He was going to have a chat with his boss and get to the bottom of this.
Miro nodded to him and then proceeded into his office. Thomas debated for a moment if he should wait until the office was quieter and everyone had gone home, or perhaps should he wait till they were actually on the way home? No, he didn’t want to risk getting Miroslav mad and having the older man crash into something because he was trying to kill him.
Thomas sighed. Now was a good as time as any. If Miro did decide to kill him, at least there would be witnesses here. Thomas pushed back from the desk and watched as his boss sat down from outside of the office. He took a deep breath and went on into the office, knocking politely as he did so. Just like every other time he’d gone into the office.
“Yes?” Miro asked, not even bothering to glance over at him.
“May I have a word with you? In private?” Thomas asked.
Miro set the folder of their case down and looked over with raised eyebrows. He nodded and Thomas walked into the office, shutting the door behind him. He swallowed hard, rubbing his hands on the thighs of his freshly changed trousers. If Miro noticed his nervousness, he didn’t say anything. Then again, his boss really wasn’t super talkative to begin with. Thomas moved over to sit in the empty chair near Miroslav’s desk.
“Um, did you learn anything interesting?” Thomas asked as a start, delaying the conversation he really wanted to have as much as possible.
Miro nodded and leaned back in his chair, it squeaked as he did so.
“Kevin was last seen by his friends around a quarter to twelve, where he went out to take a phone call. They think, at any rate. They were a bit preoccupied looking for some companionship for the evening.” Miroslav let it fade off, before he shrugged and looked at Thomas. He felt a little uneasy underneath Miro’s intense focus. “But that isn’t why you came in here, so please…?”
The invitation was there, all he had to do was reach out and take it. Thomas took a deep breath and looked at Miroslav, just not in the eyes because then he would’ve gotten all tongue-tied.
“Why didn’t you wait for me to come back before you spoke to the suspects?” Thomas chewed his lip and watched Miro, glancing to his eyes, but not keeping the eye contact.
He felt Miro’s eyes on him and as the silence stretched out, he grew even more uncomfortable and embarrassed about asking such a question. But still, he had to know.
“We shouldn’t have to wait for you to return to question suspects. You weren’t here, so I proceeded without you.” Miro replied as if it was the easiest thing in the world. Really, Thomas surmised, it was. He had had to go home to change clothes, why should Miro have waited for him?
“I wouldn’t have gone home if you hadn’t told me to. I could’ve waited.” Thomas replied. He didn’t mean to sound as if he were whining, really he didn’t. It’s just that he wanted to make a good impression for Miroslav. He wanted to impress the Hauptkommissar.
“That’s part of it.” Miro returned in his usual soft-toned way. “You could have gotten sick if you’d stayed in those clothes. Also, we are professionals. How would it look to you, if you were a suspect, if one of the officers coming to question you looked as if they had just gone swimming in their suit?”
Thomas nodded. As he suspected, it made sense. There was still something bothering him though.
“And that’s all the reason? For appearances sake?” Thomas glanced at Miro’s eyes again, only this time he was caught in their trap.
“What else would it have been?” Miro asked with a raised eyebrow. Thomas let out a heavy breath and his eyes looked away from Miro. He caught sight of the large empty desk that was in the center of the room. The desk that Miro refused to sit at and he wasn’t allowed to touch, never mind sit at.
“It’s just that…I realize I wasn’t your first choice of partner,” understatement, “and I probably upset or disappoint you a lot. But… well. I sit outside when other detective’s partners share the same office. You don’t let me speak to witnesses or suspects much. I’m not allowed to do much other than answer calls for you, do some of the paperwork, fetch and bring coffee. So I was just wondering…is it me that is the problem, or are all new constables treated this way?”
He had said it. He really hoped he hadn’t just axed any chance he had of advancement in this career path. Thomas didn’t want to do anything other than this job and he really hoped he hadn’t just made himself look like a fool. Well, more so than usual.
“I suspect there are some other Komissaranwärter’s that are allowed more hands-on abilities but you have only been my partner for,” Miro paused to look at the calendar. “Two weeks now? I’m afraid I just don’t know how you would react in front of a suspect for me to allow you that privilege on your own yet.”
That was a fair response; not that Thomas expected any differently from the man who literally had awards from the department on his professionalism. If he had learned anything about Miro in those two weeks, and boy had he learned a lot, it was that Miroslav was fair.
“I suppose that the next time we have to do an interview, you can assist me. But only as my second, not by yourself.” Miro said after a moment and Thomas’ eyes sparkled as he looked into the other man’s eyes.
“Unless you prefer me to change my mind?”
Thomas shook his head quickly. “No, no. Thank you, sir!” He couldn’t quite manage to keep the enthusiasm from his voice. Not that he was particularly concerned about that right now. Miro was trusting him with something.
But Miro hadn’t addressed all of his concerns. Perhaps he was stupid enough to push it, or desperate to feel like he belonged maybe, but he asked anyway.
“And sitting outside?” This time his voice was smile, not brazen at all. He may as well have squeaked out the question for as loud as he’d whispered it. Somehow, maybe Miro also had super-intense hearing as well, the other man had heard the question.
They both paused and Thomas glanced over to the empty desk that took up the room. He couldn’t blame Miro for not using it; if the situation was different and it was him, he wasn’t one-hundred percent sure he would be using it either. Not after what happened to Miro’s first partner.
“I suppose,” Miro said after a moment, “that maybe one day. For now, I’d prefer if we kept our seating arrangement the same.”
Thomas nodded quickly, agreeing even though he really didn’t. He just wanted the embarrassment of the moment to be over with as soon as possible. Miro nodded once and that was it then. For now, Thomas was sure they would come back to that particular point of discussion somewhere in the future. But for now, he could wait.
“Thomas, I do want you to know that I trust you.” Miro added, almost as quietly as Thomas had asked his question.
Just not as much as you trusted him, right? Thomas wanted to ask but he didn’t. He wasn’t a callous asshole.
Thomas nodded, again agreeing to avoid the awkwardness of the situation. He really did understand where Miro was coming from, but at the same time, he wished they didn’t have to hide behind the closed doors of painful, embarrassing emotions all the time either.
“Holger called a moment ago,” Miro was saying now, “saying that he had received something from you and he wanted my approval to send the results directly to you when it was completed. What did you take him?”
Oh, yeah, that. Thomas cleared his throat and shifted a little in the seat.
“Well, I took him the handkerchief that Frau Großkreutz used. I don’t know, we might be able to find something interesting on it.” Thomas shrugged awkwardly and waited to be censured for his action.
“What were you hoping to find?” Miro asked, calmly. His tone was even, non-judgemental almost. It was as if he were truly curious to see why Thomas had done something, not telling him that his decision had been stupid and unnecessary. Thomas replied as honestly as he could.
“Well, something struck me as odd about the Großkreutz’. Kevin doesn’t look like his mother too much, but a little, and as I was watching them, I realized Kevin doesn’t look like Martin Großkreutz at all. So I was just wondering if he really was Kevin’s dad or not. And if he wasn’t, then maybe that might be something worth looking into?”
Thomas waited for Miroslav to say something, anything, that wasn’t a reprimand. Maybe he had acted out of the scope of his job. Maybe his curiosity really had gotten the better of him. After all, it could be a simple explanation of the fact that Kevin may have been adopted. Or maybe he resembled someone else on Martin’s side of the family the way genes skipped generations occasionally. Maybe there was a perfectly reasonable conclusion and he had overstepped his mark.
“You had an instinct that this would help our case?” Miro asked with a raised eyebrow. Thomas nodded and chewed his lip. “Very well. I already told him he may send you the result as soon as he has them.”
Thomas smiled and was about to thank Miro for his confidence in him when Philipp came and knocked on the door. Miro looked up and nodded to him to open it. The look on Lahm’s face was grim and Thomas frowned a little.
“There’s been another body discovered near the alley next to the Schadenfreude.”
All three men paused and looked at one another.
“We’ll be right there,” Miro replied and stood up.
The questions began to dance in Thomas’ mind as he too also got ready to go. Another body? Was it related to their homicide? Was it the same killer? Why were people getting murdered outside the club that should be a warning against even going there? Most importantly: who had been murdered now?