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A Fishing Experiment

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Eddie had never been on a stakeout that smelled as bad as this one. He was never going to be able to eat seafood ever again. They'd been holed up in the car, parked across from the docks for nearly five hours, and the head of their fish-stealing ring still hadn't shown up. Pippin was about to fall asleep, the camera in his hands drooping against the dashboard every time his eyes blinked shut.

"Want to call it off for tonight?" Eddie asked, jostling Pippin's arm with his elbow. They'd only been assigned this stupid case because the nearby sushi restaurant couldn't keep the Commissioner's favorite tuna roll in stock and Johnson would do anything to keep the Commissioner happy. That meant that Eddie got stuck with the angry chefs, ornery dockhands and belligerent fishermen. If he had to smell piles of dead fish all day, he'd probably have a short fuse too. But really, who steals fish? Even if black-market bluefin tuna apparently goes for a very high price.

Pippin yawned and stretched inside the small car. "Yeah, let's pack it-- wait, hello, here's our man," he said, leaning forward over the dash to snap a couple pictures. Across the poorly lit street, a man built like a particularly stubborn tree stump walked through the entrance to the docks and quickly disappeared around a corner, heading off down the long pier. That was Jeffrey Blunkett, supposed ringleader and mastermind behind the recent thefts. He was definitely the fence for the purloined produce.

"We have to follow him," Eddie said, tossing his empty coffee cup into the back of the car, "and find out what boat they're using to stash the fish. Bring the camera, we're going to need pictures."

They were able to follow Blunkett through the maze of shipping containers until he finally climbed aboard a small tug boat, the Widdecombe III. Pippin took a few pictures of Blunkett walking across the deck. Eddie should have known this was too easy. "Oy, who's out there?" called Blunkett from the boat as he turned on a searchlight that had been welded to the front of the ship.

The bright light blinded Eddie momentarily, enough that he barely had time to turn around when he heard a voice from almost overhead. "We've got ourselves some nosy nancies, boss." And that was when the giant fish hurtled down from the top of the stack of shipping containers.

The rest of Eddie's day went like this:

"So you not only managed to tip off the thieves to the police investigation, you've also scared them out of the only docks we've been able to tie them to, you let all of them get away when you were discovered, including all of the stolen cargo, and your partner got injured by a giant fish, so much so that he can't remember the past two years of his life. Does that about cover it, Detective Arlette?"

"Well, when you put it like that, it sounds so bad."

Later, there had been a long discussion with several doctors about the state of Monty Pippin's memory. Yes, he had amnesia. No, it wasn't permanent. Yes, it would return, sooner rather than later. Yes, if it had been a halibut, he'd have only gotten off with some light bruising. But despite the memory loss and the concussion, he was fine to go home that evening, provided someone would be able to check on him through the night. It was just easier for Eddie to have Pippin stay over. Besides, his couch would be like a dream after the uncomfortable hospital bed.

It was a little weird, sharing his living room and dinner with someone who was for all intents and purposes a stranger. And yet he was still the same Pippin. He'd even ordered the same thing off the takeout menu that he'd had last week. "So you don't remember anything about me?" Eddie asked, setting his empty plate down on the coffee table.

"Yeah, no. And I'd definitely remember that dog of yours." Pete watched them from the landing on the stairs, probably deciding who to torment, them or the cat.

"What do you remember?"

Pippin sighed and started counting out items on his fingers. "I'm a policeman, my partner's name is Roger. We just finished a big case involving a very nasty bridge club in Chiswick. I live with a woman named Janet, but I actually sleep with a lot of people who aren't her. Maria. Frances. Tina. Oh yes, Tina."

"Yeah, you're a swinger," said Eddie. Pippin raised his eyebrow, puzzled. "Well, not really, but you pretend to be."

"Huh. How clever of me."

"I don't know how you do it, those parties are too much for me." Eddie smiled over his mug of coffee. "You're depraved. Oh, and you don't live with Janet anymore, but you're still sleeping with way too many women."

"Right on." Pippin took a slow drink of his tea. "And obviously you're my partner now. Are we a good team? I'm hating the American accent less than I thought I would."

"I'll take that as a compliment," Eddie said, turning at the sound of the front door opening. In the hallway, he heard Fiona drop her bags with a loud thump.

"I'm home!" she called out, walking into the room. "Oh, Monty, Eddie's told me all about your accident," Fiona said, laying a hand on Pippin's arm, before turning towards Eddie. "Terrible shame that it didn't hit him instead. He would have forgotten all about how he's living in my flat."

"Fiona, have a bit of sympathy, he got hit with a bluefin tuna. Frankly, he's lucky to be alive. Those things are massive."

"Like your ego?" She smiled that warm fake smile, the one she probably used on particularly idiotic customers, and turned away, going into the kitchen.

That was a fight that could go on for another half hour at least, and Eddie found himself sad that it didn't. He turned back towards Pippin, who had watched Fiona walk away. "Isn't she a doll?"

"Indeed. Have we ever--?" Pippin trailed off, with a vaguely lewd hand gesture. Oh god, Eddie knew that look. The one that Pippin got whenever he saw a woman he was going to sleep with. Or try and sleep with. Not that Eddie had ever seen him fail. Eddie was torn between wanting to see Fiona's face, and the absolute shit she would give him for weeks about it.

"That's a big enn ohh."

Pippin pursed his lips like he was thinking something. A terrible, wrong, filthy something. "Not even at the parties?"

Eddie huffed out a laugh. "She's not exactly the swinging type."

"That's a shame, I imagine you two would be rather popular." Pippin seemed far more disappointed than he had any right to be.

Wait, what. "Wait, you think we're married?" Eddie could only muster a horrified whisper.

"You aren't?"

And wasn't that a mental image. The two of them married. The two of them married and swingers. At one of Pippin's parties, no less. Eddie was never going to stop laughing. And then of course Fiona appeared in the doorway, scowling.

"What in god's name is going on out here?"

Eddie couldn't help laughing harder. "Nothing, honeybear."

Fiona fixed him with one of her death glares, "I'm going to put cat pee in your shampoo." She turned away, into the kitchen again.

Eddie looked back at Pippin, who seemed to be getting the idea. "No, there's nothing between Fiona and I, except a lot of animosity and hatred. And the apartment."

They sat in silence for a while, Pippin's brow furrowed in thought. "And the two of us, we've never..." Pippin trailed off, his eyes in his teacup. Eddie choked on his coffee, coughed and tried to cover it up, but failed miserably.

"You- I- You don't even like men that way."

"You know how I said Frances before? Frances is a man."

Eddie moved his mouth like he was going to say, 'oh,' but he failed to make a sound.

"I'm guessing that's a no."

Eddie nodded, probably faster than he should have. "Not that I'm like, homophobic or anything, don't get the wrong idea. Not all us Americans are bigots. I'm totally enlightened, it's the twenty-first century and your lifestyle is totally normal and healthy and I'm not judging you in any way. Except for that part where I said you were depraved, but that was me joking! We joked a lot about that stuff. You called me vague one time. And I've been to one of those ridiculous swinger things, but that was only because you took me but not like that, not that there's anything wrong with that, because there isn't, I'm just saying..." Eddie took a big gulp of his coffee. "I'm babbling."

"Yeah. You sure you don't have any repressed issues going on there?" Pippin had narrowed his eyes at Eddie.

"Positive." Eddie thought he might be on the verge of hyperventilating and tried to calm himself down.

"Really? I'm just saying you might want to talk to someone, explore that defensiveness you have about your sexuality."

"Hey, I'm not the one with amnesia here, I know who has the issues here. You're the one who's addicted to sex. And I'm not defensive." It probably wasn't helping Eddie's case that now he was nearly pouting. He tried to clear his face of all expression. He could do it in an interrogation room, he could do it here.

"Right." But then Pippin was laughing quietly into his tea and Eddie resisted the urge to throw a couch pillow at his head. This was more like normal.

They were in the middle of chasing down Jeffrey Blunkett the next day when Pippin's memory began to come back. He hadn't been fully briefed on the case yet - or again - Eddie had planned on doing that once they got to the ringleader's supposed new base of operations. They'd gotten a tip from one of the rival fish marketers, and it should have been a dead end. Instead they were facing down Blunkett and his goons severely out-manned and out-gunned. They'd walked right into a trap. A smelly, fish-gut decorated trap.

"Of course!" exclaimed Pippin, ducking behind a shipping crate and drawing his gun. "Tobias was using his ex-wife's boat to store the fish until Jeffrey could fence them to the high-end caterers. They probably didn't even realize they were getting black market fish, since he was their normal contact. And Captain Duddridge wouldn't suspect an inside job from someone like Tobias."

Eddie was next to Pippin on the ground behind the shipping container. He'd nearly had his head taken off by the guy holding the shotgun. "Yeah, that's great," he panted, "and I'm glad you're back, but can we catch the bad guys first before they shoot us?"

"Sounds like a plan." Several dashing heroic moments - including one very cool moment where Eddie totally got to say something witty and hit a guy in the face with a trout - and a very timely arrival by their backup later, six fishmongers were in custody.

"I'm never going to smell normal again," sighed Eddie, wiping at the stains on his coat. Pippin sat next to him on the hood of the car. "So you're all back to normal?"

"One hundred percent, mate. It's all up here again," said Pippin, tapping his index finger on his temple.

"Good to have you back, man," said Eddie, patting Pippin firmly on the back.

"Good to be back." Pippin stretched his legs and got up, probably to head over to Johnson, who had just arrived on the scene, press in tow. "So about you and Fiona..."