By Moonbeam and Timovena
Captain Banks had a headache. It felt like a little imp had snuck into his brain and was practicing with mallets, keeping perfect time with his pulse. He just knew that the imp was doing warm ups now, and would get more enthusiastic later. It wasn't being helped by the irate phone call from the mayor which he was currently fielding.
"Yes sir... no sir... I wasn't aware of that, sir... I'm sorry sir... no sir, I'm not amused. Yes sir... it was an accident, sir... yes sir... Goodbye sir."
He sighed, rubbing his temple as he hung up. When he got home, he was going to go straight to bed and stay there for a week. After all, he deserved it. Especially after today. It was amazing how one day could go so wrong... Simon got up and opened the door.
"Brown! My office. Now!"
Henri winced as he got up, ignoring the unsympathetic glances cast his way by the other Major Crimes detectives as he headed towards Simon's office. This was not going to be pleasant.
Simon sat down and pulled out a cigar as Brown entered.
"Guess what," said Simon. "I just received a phone call from the mayor." He paused. "And he's not happy." He saw Brown's grimace and sat back, enjoying the other man's discomfort. It was true. Misery did love company.
"I'd like to hear your version of what happened. The mayor can be a bit... shall we say, excessive?... when he's upset. I think I'd better get the unvarnished truth, without all the exaggeration." Simon lit his cigar and waited.
Henri nodded in resignation and took a deep breath. He had a feeling this was going to be worse than his dentist appointment last week. "Well, I was on my way to the station when..."
A car swerved onto the sidewalk, almost hitting Brown as it careened past. With a move he didn't know he still had in him, Brown leapt for his life, feeling the wake of the car as it rushed past. By the time Henri's heart was out of his throat and back in his chest where it belonged, the car had managed to play ping pong with about every obstacle on the street before plowing into a crowd of people waiting for the mayor's opening speech...
"Did you at least get a license plate number?"
"No, sir. I was too busy trying not to get killed. It was sheer chaos."
"There wasn't much left afterwards."
Simon sighed again. The mayor wasn't going to like this... "And?"
"Well, like I said. It was sheer chaos..."
People were running all over the place. Women were screaming, children were crying; Henri was hard pressed to keep some semblance of order in what had become a free-for-all. He managed, with some help, to calm things down. By that time the mayor had somehow managed to get to the edge of the crowd and into the hands of security.
Brown trotted over and tapped the San Francisco 49er's missing frontlineman on the shoulder. He was just about to ask what in Sam Hill had happened when he found himself face to face with the hard scowl of a "Mr. Clean" wannabe.
"Back off, buddy." Henri picked up on the silent 'or your face will become intimate with the pavement' and took measures. Mr. Clean found himself staring cross-eyed at a Cascade PD badge that Brown had thrust into his face.
"Help me out a little, here. What exactly happened?"
Mr. Clean rubbed his bald head with a sigh. "Craziest thing. This car comes outta nowheres and hits the crowd...running, screaming, the works. Then this guy jumps onto the podium. Starts screaming something about whales..."
"Well, it coulda been whales... anyways, this guy is running around on the podium, screaming, and he bangs into the mayor. Guy falls back, and the mayor falls into the crowd. We were gonna go and fish him out, but the crowd brought him to us."
"They surfed him to us. You know, like in at one of them rock concerts."
Brown raised an eyebrow. "A mosh pit?"
"Oh come ON! Be serious! My son could come up with a better story than that!"
"That's what I said to the security guy, but he swears it's what happened. Story got backed up by a few witnesses too."
"I'll be damned. That explains the mayor's temper."
Henri snorted. Simon glared. He pulled out a new cigar and motioned Brown out. "Send Rafe in."
Rafe glared at his partner's smirk on his way into the lion's den. Seating himself without prompting, he fiddled with the lapels of his suit, sensing the captain's ire. He suppressed an inward shudder and loosened his tie. Maybe it was just him, but the room seemed to have gotten suffocating.
Simon had chewed halfway through his cigar, and his expression could have curdled milk.
Rafe blinked. "Sir?"
"The car! You know! The one that almost made H roadkill?
A look of dawning realization flashed across Brian's face. "Oh, that car."
Simon leaned forward, in no mood for games. Rafe swallowed, suddenly nervous....well, more nervous than he was before, anyways. The part of his brain not quivering in fear noted how big Simon seemed all of a sudden.
"Where. Did. It. Come. From. Rafe?"
Rafe swallowed nervously, then panicked. "It was the riot, and the car veered off and...and..."
"Riot?!" It was amazing how much could be said in one word. The detective resisted the impulse to hide under his chair.
"Yes sir, the riot. T-t-the one right outside."
Simon's headache intensified to an Imp Marching Band. Dozens of little tiny imp feet tramped across his skull, banging little tiny imp drums. Simon groaned. Who would have thought the detectives in his unit would have taken him so literally when he said he hadn't wanted to be disturbed for anything?
"Details, detective. I want details."
"Oh. Um... well, I didn't really see it start. I kind of blinked."
"Yes sir. One minute I was enjoying my hot dog, and the next minute..."
Rafe looked up to see five vehicles meld into one. The last vehicle was a big red truck. The kind that are jacked up to satisfy the owner's ego. From the way the still intact back end of the truck shone, it was obvious that the owner took great pride in maintaining it. A big burly brawn of a man stepped out onto the road and stormed up to the next car in line. Anticipating more trouble than there was already, Rafe dodged traffic to intercept what was becoming a very heated argument between the caveman and the bespectacled driver of the white Buick the truck had hit. By now, Brian was close enough to hear the caveman scream "Oh so you think that's funny, do you?! I'LL SHOW YOU FUNNY!" and stomp back to his truck. Rafe began to run as soon as he saw the baseball bat come out.
Increasing the pressure on his temples, Simon mumbled, "I can see where this is going."
"You and me both, Sir."
"Did you manage to break up the fight?"
"The one between the...," Simon stopped as his last comment sank in. "Oh. Let me guess. The guy took a swing, another one joined in..."
"Actually, sir, the fight broke out when I went to ask what caused the accident. Tempers were short as it was, so I should've seen it coming. Everybody started blaming everybody else..."
People were screaming in others' faces, pointing fingers and gesticulating wildly. Rafe, in an effort to settle things down, made a grab for the caveman's bat, only to have it swung at his head. He ducked, narrowly avoiding a debilitating blow to his delicate brain. The debilitating blow became a destructive one as it smashed the windshield of a green Saturn. This, of course, was not a good thing, as it only served to further enrage the owner of said green Saturn...
"...and the next thing you know, it was a full fledged riot."
"Why do these things always have to happen on my shift?" Simon moaned.
"It could have been worse, sir. At least the uniforms earned their keep."
Simon nodded. He pulled out another cigar, having chewed through the last one.
"You know, Simon, those cigars really aren't good for you."
Simon gave him the Look, and Rafe, realizing his impending doom, skedaddled. Simon let a hint of a smile curve his lips before bellowing out after the hastily retreating Rafe, "and send Connor in after you!"
Connor marched in, head held high. After all, she had faced down crocs in the Outback. What was to fear from one lone man who seems to have raised the office temperature several hundred degrees... Ooooh crud.
Simon glowered as he sacrificed his third cigar to the waste paper basket demon.
Not being a cautious one by nature, Megan made the first comment. "Don't tell me, sir, you wanna know how the Poe's hotdog stand wound up in the intersection."
Simon raised an eyebrow. "Hotdog stand?"
"You mean you don't...," Connor trailed off. "Um... nevermind."
Too late. Simon didn't bat an eyelash; he just growled. "Inspector..."
Megan realized she was on thin ice. Rallying her defenses, she replied warily, "the flood, sir."
Megan realized that there was no way to salvage the situation, and plunged in. "There was a flood, sir."
Simon merely waited. He was seriously considering getting an ulcer. 'Serve them right,' he thought. 'I wonder if the department insurance covers stress related injuries.' He glowered deeper. The Captain wasn't sure, but he could have sworn he heard a whimper. Taking a deep, calming breath, he said, "OK. Let's start at the beginning."
"Um... well, this little old blue haired lady, with this yappy mutt of a poodle..." Megan paused to collect her thoughts, which seemed to have wandered off in search of safer pastures.
"The flood, Connor."
"Oh. Yeah. Right. The flood. Um... well, I was minding my own business..."
The man took off his shirt as to wipe his brow. Megan felt guilty for letting herself get distracted, but she couldn't help it. What was a poor girl to do when presented with such an enticing specimen of flesh? She leaned forward to get a better view. Even her toes were reacting to the.....hey wait a minute! She looked down in stunned surprise to see her feet disappear under the rising levels of muddy water washing down the street...
"That was the flood." Simon stated, obviously.
The captain nodded, wishing he was anywhere but where he was right now. "What's the rest of it? The lady?"
"Well, this lady was hysterical because her poodle had been caught in the flood..."
Hearing a high pitched screech, Megan turned to see a little old lady with the most shocking blue hair screaming incoherently at her.
"Ma'am, is everything alright?" Connor asked in concern when the eccentric elderly woman latched on to her arm in a panicky huff.
"Poopsie! My poor baby is lost! Lost, I tell you! Save him! Save my little darling!"
Megan repressed the urge to giggle, knowing it wouldn't do much for foreign public relations.
"Okay, calm down. Take a deep breath. Now, ma'am..."
"Oh my dear! Pardon my manners, it's Mrs. Raphlioni. Mrs. Celcilia Raphlioni. My husband was the great Raoul Raphlioni, entrepreneur..."
"Of course, Mrs. Ravioli. Now, who and what is Poopsie?"
"My precious little sweetie, my darling baby poodle. I was picking up my Schnookums from Bernard... he has a pet grooming shop. Nice young man... I keep trying to tell Isabella so. He'd make her a great husband... kind to animals, stable job, respectable... upstanding young man! He's such a gentleman. Why last week..."
"Mrs. Rav...Raphlioli, please! Your poodle. Where is she?"
"He." Megan mentally rolled her eyes.
"He. He's a purebred pedigree poodle of the very finest quality. Very good lineage, I'm told. Descended from the great champion show dog..."
"Mrs. Ravlioni. Where is Poopsie?"
"I don't know. He's out there with all those cars. He'll be crushed! He's just a widdle cupcake. Never been out on his own before." Megan found herself in an iron grip that belied the strength of a woman her age. "You've got to find him! He's going to get hurt! He's not big enough to take care of himself. He might..."
Stunned, Megan looked up to see a blue poodle standing on the counter of Poe's hotdog stand, gravy trailing from his chin. The hotdog stand was floating in a foot of water, in the middle of a crowded intersection. Angry drivers were honking their horns and shouting threats and insults at the delay in their daily routine. The inspector glanced around, looking for the owner of the concession stand, but Poe was nowhere to be seen. Poopsie paid them no mind. Connor could swear that the mutt was sporting a self satisfied smirk.
"Um... Poopsie wouldn't happen to be blue, would he?" Megan asked casually.
"Why, yes! That's right!"
Megan waded through the traffic to the slowly drifting hotdog stand, where Poopsie was eyeing a string of soggy sausages.
"Niiiiice Poopsie... nice mutt... good beast..." Megan muttered as she reached for the sausages to lure him to safety. Just as she grabbed one end of the string, the dog lunged for the other. Poopsie's hackles rose, and he growled ferociously; at least, it would have been ferocious if Poopsie hadn't been a pint sized blue ball of fluff. Megan found herself in an unenthusiastic game of Tug-O-War.
Mrs. Raphlioni swooped in with arms outstretched. The poodle gave an excited "Yip" and leapt into her grasp. The elderly matron whisked her beloved pet away, murmuring endearments to the pampered beast...
"Poopsie?" The Captain help commenting.
"Not to mention the fact that it was blue!"
"So the hotdog stand caused the accident, which caused the riot which caused the mayor's impromptu surfing session..."
Megan let out an astonished, "Sir?"
Simon waved his hand. "Nothing, Connor, just thinking to myself. So how did the flood start?"
"No idea, sir. I just got to see the results."
"Well, of course you didn't see how it started...," the disgruntled Captain muttered frustratedly under his breath. He could feel the crowd of Imps gathering behind his eyes to cheer on the Imp Marching Band Parade. He wearily dismissed Megan with a negligent wave of his hand.
Connor breathed a sigh of relief as she left, pleased that she had gotten off so lightly. She hesitated at the door.
"Maybe Jim and Sandy could clarify the flood issue."
Simon nodded resignedly to the inevitability of Murphy's field day.
Megan carefully slunk out of the office, to the snickers of malicious glee from her crime fighting cohorts. She sheepishly turned her eyes away from the bullpen only to spy detective Ellison and his ever-present shadow, Blair Sandburg entering. Suddenly a grin broke out on her face.
The Sentinel noticed, subconsciously cringing at the wicked light reflecting from her eyes and the feral curl that touched her lips. He halted mid-step, causing his distracted Guide to bump into his back.
Blair let out a muffled curse. "Hey man, what's up?"
Jim ignored him, instead focusing his hearing on the whispered comments from the uniforms behind him.
//And everywhere that Jimmy went, Blair was sure to follow.//
Jim's jaw clenched at the muffled laughter from the uniforms, and he mentally plotted a suitable revenge as he made his way to Simon's office. He gave a perfunctory knock before waltzing in.
Simon was muttering to himself as he dug out another box of cigars; his secret emergency stash. This was definitely an emergency, right? If today didn't count, then he didn't want to know what did. "Mayors crowd surfing, riots, floods, how could this possibly get any worse?" As Jim and Blair entered, Simon quietly amended, "forget I asked."
Captain Banks looked up to see the knowing smirk on Detective Ellison's face. Knowing the Sentinel had overheard his monologue, he silently dared the man to comment on it. "Flood. Begin. Now." He was way too tired to bother with pleasantries at this point. Heck, even complete sentences seemed beyond him.
Blair gulped. For some reason, the phrase 'Be afraid. Be very afraid' trudged through his thoughts.
Ellison, recognizing the captain's mood, came straight to the point. "I believe it was caused by a broken watermain."
"Finally! A direct answer! All this...," Simon groped for an appropriate word, "... hoopla..."
In front to him, Jim blinked in stoic surprise, while his partner unsuccessfully tried to stifle a guffaw with a fake cough. Simon ignored them. He didn't give a damn what his detectives thought of his vocabulary anymore. He already knew his mind was on the road to gibbering insanity.
"... was caused by a stupid flaw in a cursed piece of manufactured metal!"
Blair, with his penchant for walking blindly and headlong into danger, interrupted. "Um... actually..." Blair yelped as Jim surreptitiously stepped on his foot. "Ow, Jim! What'd you do that for?" Jim's jaw clenched tighter, until Blair could actually hear the teeth grinding. The Anthropologist shut up.
Simon indulged in a mental sob before motioning the pair to continue.
Unclenching the muscles binding his jaw shut, Jim cleared his throat. "We traced the origin of the incident to a juvenile, sir."
"Well, it seems that some city maintenance workers were repairing the watermain..."
In the middle of the street a gaping hole was testament of the workers' enthusiasm for the job. Not one of them was in sight. Jim grunted in disgust. 'I see the taxpayers' dollars are being put to good use.' "It's a good thing I decided to leave my truck at the station." He stated as he and Blair walked back from lunch.
Muttering softly under his breath, knowing Jim would hear, Blair commented, "Yeah, man, I don't think you could afford the insurance if you wrecked another truck." His Sentinel's sharp hearing didn't miss the sarcasm. Jim cast his exasperating Guide an irritated glare. Blair blinked innocently. "What?"
"Don't you 'what' me, Chief. You know perfectly well..." Jim paused as a tiny sound caught his attention. "Hey Chief, do you hear that?"
His partner fought hard not to roll his eyes. Speaking to his sensory-gifted partner as an adult would to a child, Blair said, "No, Jim, I don't. Sorry, man, but not everyone is gifted with Sentinel hearing."
Jim made a beeline for the gigantic crater and peered over the edge. Nothing. He frowned and zoomed his vision in, scanning the hole. There, a little scrap of yellow was just visible under the pipe to his left. He focused his vision again, straining to identify the aberration...
Blair rocked on his heels, hands in his pockets, waiting for Jim to find what he was looking for. It was a fine day. The sun was shining, he was outside, not cooped up in the bullpen doing Jim's paperwork. He idly watched a Daddy Long Legs strolling along the pavement. A random thought Naomi had once told him as a child twittered through his mind. 'Daddy Long Legses are not spiderses.' The thought made him smile. Of course, it was true. Spiders belonged to a separate Order and had two body segments, unlike the Daddy Long Legs, which...
'Uh oh. I wonder how long Jim's been zoned?' he thought as he slipped into Guide mode. His voice automatically dropped to the smooth even tones genetically designed to kick a recalcitrant Sentinel into gear.
Jim blinked. "Yellow," he mumbled.
The litany of words streaming out of Blair's mouth came to an abrupt halt. "Yellow?"
Frustrated, Blair humphed. "You said yellow when you came out of your zone! What's yellow?"
"Yellow?" Simon interjected.
"Of course." At this point, Simon realized that it sounded perfectly normal.
Jim pointed to the scrap of colour in the pond of mud forming under the leaky pipe, which, of course, Blair could not see. Blair gave Jim the Look. Jim quickly amended his statement.
"I see a bit of yellow under the pipe. I'm going in to look." With that, Jim cautiously lowered himself into the colossal trench.
"Be careful man, I'd rather not have to visit Nurse Freida again any time soon." The grad student added a melodramatic shudder at the thought of the butch Norwegian who'd treated him on his last hospital stay.
"What's the matter, Chief? I thought you liked big, buxom blondes?"
Sandburg glared at the Cheshire grin his friend unsuccessfully tried to keep buried. "Not that big, Ellison. I like to be cuddled, not squished."
"Ah, yes. Blair Jacob Sandburg. Anthropologist, police consultant, Guide, shaman... teddy bear." Jim smirked and ducked the projectile said teddy bear kicked at his head.
In order to head off any more comments from the peanut gallery, Blair asked, "Anything down there?"
Jim shuffled over to the pipe and looked under. "Hello, what have we here?"
"What, man?" Blair asked impatiently.
"It's a bookbag," pause, "with a kid attached."
Jim squatted down in the mud, eye level with a scruffy dirty-blonde haired kid. Big brown puppy dog eyes gazed back at him, wide with awe at the giant of a man sitting before him. "Hey."
"Hey," the boy squeaked.
"Aren't you a little young to be fixing a pipe?"
"My bwother wurkth here. He'th a conthtwucthion wurkaw. He pwomithed momma that he'd watth me today while the goed to Uncle Ernie'th."
Translating the boy's garbled speech, Jim responded. "Where's your brother now, kiddo?"
"He goned on hith 'coffin bweak', and fowgot me heah. But that'th 'kay, cause I fwound thome playdow."
"Playdough, eh?" Jim lifted the boy up to Blair, climbing out after him. An odd smell that had been tickling his nose finally registered in his brain at about the same time that the quiet, but eerily familiar ticking did. The cop had about a millisecond to acknowledge what his senses were telling him before everything went black...
Simon closed his eyes. Nothing surprised him anymore with these two. 'Ellison. Sandburg. Explosion. Yup, that's about normal...'
A wriggling underneath Blair reminded him to pick himself up off the ground and off the 5 year old delinquent squirming under him. He groaned. "Oh man." A crowd was gathering as the workers had come running. Jim was lying on the ground unmoving. One of the workers, a young man, came forward and picked up the young bundle of energy, checking for injuries. Blair turned his attention to the unresponsive Sentinel.
"My God, Jordy, are you OK?" The young man hugged the boy. "What happened?" He looked at the smaller man, covered in mud, tending to the unconscious larger figure. "What the Hell did you do?" he asked Blair, staring in dismay at the hole rapidly filling with water. "What the kerbleep are you doing in a construction site anyways? You stupid idiot! You could have gotten Jordy killed! Just look at that! I should sue your sorry..."
His threats were stifled when the young man found himself yanked down to eye level with a very angry Blair.
"What am I doing? What am I doing?! Where the Hell where you? If you and your incompetent slacker friends had been here and not off gallivanting around, this never would have happened! You should be glad we were here! That hooligan of yours was playing with explosives in there! He could have died! And you have the gall to blame ME?! My partner is unconscious thanks to you, and when he wakes up he's going to be pissed! It'll be a miracle he doesn't slap your sorry ass in jail, you..." Jim groaned, interrupting the seething anthropologist's tirade.
"Yeah, Jim? You okay, man?"
'The angst! The agony! The horror! The violinist in the corner!' Simon suppressed an hysterical giggle and turned his thoughts back to the story.
Jim cringed. "Shhhhhh!" He slapped his hands over his bruised eardrums.
"Oops. Sorry, man." Blair quickly loosened his grasp, causing the young worker, already unbalanced, to topple headfirst into the growing puddle of muddy water.
While helping his partner up, Blair softly instructed the dazed Sentinel to adjust the dial for his hearing to a more respectable, and less painful, level.
"Better?" Blair asked with concern.
"Ungh! Make it stop!"
"Does your head hurt?"
"No, Sherlock, I like the bells ringing in my head." Jim slowly opened his eyes to look at his partner... or atleast he tried to. He had time to say, "I think I'll have another cup of tea, now...," before passing out again with a 'Splunk!'.
"Jim! C'mon, man, get up. I can't lift you myself, you know. You're gonna have to help me out here, Jim. Jim? Jim! Jim!" Sandburg encouraged futilely. "Oh... shoot."
By now, more onlookers had congregated and a few had come to Blair's assistance. Through mutual effort, they managed to haul the anthropologist's unaware 'Blessed Protector' to a rapidly disappearing spot of dry land.
"Why does this sound like a bad 'Gilligan' episode?" Simon shook his head despondently.
Neither Blair nor Jim chose to comment on that.
"So anyway, Jim had a concussion, so we had to take him to the hospital. That's about it. We'll see you Monday! Toodles!" And with that Blair was out the door, his Sentinel hot on his heels.
Captain Banks watched after his favorite two detectives as they fled Major Crimes at high speed. His only coherent thought the oddity of Jim being injured while Blair wasn't. Such circumstances just didn't happen in his world.
This line of thought brought him dangerously close to a topic he definitely didn't want to go into. He took that as a divine sign from the Almighty that it was time to go home and salvage what was left of his sanity. Ignoring the paperwork lining his desk, the big man spared a moment to give Rhonda a curt "Bye" before disappearing out the door.
"Aaahhh..." A contented sigh escaped the worn Captain's lips as he finally settled back into the soft comfort of his living room sofa.
He swore to himself, as he popped open a refreshingly cold beer, that he would never leave this spot again. Crime in Cascade could just solve itself without him, because after a day like today, he was seriously considering early retirement.
Turning on the Jags game to complete his relaxing evening of respite, Simon happily prioritized his needs. 'A comfy couch, a Jags game on TV... sweet music to my soul! Such bliss!' A heavenly smile creased his tired face as he leaned back to enjoy the game, planning on never hearing a word of this day's disaster again, confident that nothing could ruin this wonderful, relaxing...
"We interrupt this program for a special News Bulletin. Here is Lucy Monroe, with an update on today's top story.
"Good evening. We apologized for the interruption of the game, but the mayor has called an emergency press conference to address the issue of preventing today's occurrences from ever happening again. The mayor would like to thank the combined efforts of the Cascade PD and local citizens for..."
Across town, Jim's head jerked up as he thought he heard a faint agonized scream in the distance. He shook his head, hoping the ringing in his ears would clear up by tomorrow.