Timmy was used to the irregular schedule one maintained when married to a private investigator. He knew that meals would be missed, nights out (or in) would be interrupted and that Donald would never have a set schedule. He understood this, embraced it even, because he truly believed that Donald was doing good in the world. And he more than anyone knew just how good Donald was at his job.
Donald was a slob when it came to his car and office -- empty cans, old newspapers and pizza boxes were the norm. He just couldn't be bothered to spend the time to pick up after himself, but that didn't mean he wasn't organized in other areas of his life. He never forgot Timmy's birthday or their anniversary. He always sent Timmy's mother flowers on Mother's Day and he always sent Senator Glassman a bottle of good scotch on the eve of election night. But even beyond that, he always made the effort to make sure that Timmy knew he was safe. Even if he was deep undercover, even if his cell phone was dead, he always found a way to contact Timmy, to let him know he'd be home as soon as he could. That was the one constant that keep Timmy from worrying, kept him from getting angry when dinner got cold and martinis got warm. Donald *always* came home.
So, it was with a feeling of dread that he entered the Albany police station after not hearing from Donald for over 48 hours. Unfortunately Bub Bailey was out on a case, so he had to deal with the first available officer, a large balding man named Dabrowski. Timmy could tell from the slight disapproving smirk the other man gave him when he relayed his story that he was going to be no help at all.
"Yes, Officer Dabrowski, I am aware that normally a person must be missing for 72 hours before a report can be filed, but this is not a normal case."
"Are you sure, your *partner* just maybe didn't get a better offer?"
Timmy didn't miss the sarcastic emphasis this officer put on the word, "partner." Timmy had spend enough time swimming in the shark infested waters that was politics that normally such a crack wouldn't even phase him, but Donald was missing, and each moment he had to waste with this narrow minded SOB was time that could be spent trying to find Donald. So he brought out the big guns, just like his mother taught him. "It's quite sad that your first assumption would be that your wife is screwing around on you when she's been missing for 48 hours, but I can assure you, Donald and my relationship is much more solid than that."
The glare the officer shot him made Timmy know that he hit the nail on the head even more than the loud words out of the other man's mouth. "Where do you get off..."
Timmy didn't let him finish, raising his own voice, hoping to cause enough of a scene to get some actual help. "And the fact that he hasn't contacted Kenny either makes me even more concerned."
"Kenny? Let me guess another 'partner'?"
"No, if you'd been listening to me from the beginning, you would know that Kenny is Donald's office manager."
"Officer manager, huh? Is that was you guys are calling it these days?"
"Well Kenny prefers office manager to secretary." Timmy was done being nice. He'd learned a thing or two from Donald, so he leaned in, hardening his eyes. "Now if you are done insinuating that Donald is simply off *fucking* some other guy and forgot to call, perhaps you could do your actual job and help me find him."
You could hear a pin drop in the station the moment the word "fuck" left Timmy's mouth. It just wasn't the type of language you expected to hear from someone who looked like Timothy Callahan. Luckily, Bub Bailey chose that moment to enter the station.
"Callahan? Don't tell me, Strachey's car got impounded again."
Timmy let out a laugh at that and felt a little more at ease for the first time since Donald went missing. He knew that Detective Bailey respected Donald and that he would help. He stood up and shook Bub's hand. "Not today. As I was trying to explain to Officer Dabrowski here, Donald's been missing for over 48 hours."
Bub frowned, concern clear on his face. "That doesn't sound like him."
"No it doesn't and the officer here seemed more concerned with our sex life than helping me figure out what could have happened."
After shooting a glare at Dabrowski, Bub patted Timmy's shoulder. "Why don't you go wait in my office Tim, and I'll be there shortly and we'll figure out what kind of trouble that partner of yours has gotten himself into this time. I'm sure it's nothing to worry about."
Timmy let out a deep breath. "I hope you're right." He walked into Bailey's office just in time to hear the Detective light into Officer Dabrowski.
"Do you have any idea how many cases Donald Strachey has helped this station solve? No? Let's just say his solve rate is a hell of a lot better than yours Dabrowski. And if I ever find you treating any member of the public like that again, I'll make sure you spend the rest of your career directing traffic."
Bub entered his office and motioned for Timmy to sit down. "When was the last time you heard from him?"
Timmy pulled out his cell phone and dialed his voicemail. "He left me a message Tuesday morning. Congress was in session, so my phone was off. He'd forgotten to pick up the dry cleaning the night before. As that's not exactly an uncommon occurrence, I had a spare suit in my closet." He smiled as he handed Bub the phone to listen to the message.
"Hey sweetheart. Brilliant idea. I've added picking up the dry cleaning to Kenny's duties, so that will hopefully keep you in suits and me off the sofa. Oh and Kenny says, you should consider wearing lighter color ensembles as they would make you look years younger. I think all his cracks about your age just mask his deep seeded crush on you. If he keeps it up, I'll have to remind him that you're mine. I should actually be home at a decent hour tonight -- with your suits -- so have the martinis ready. Love you. Bye. "
Bub handed the phone back to Timmy. "I take it he never made it home with your suits?"
Timmy shook his head. "No, according to Kenny, he'd gone off to meet a client with the intention of coming back to the office to pick up the dry cleaning and heading home."
"Any problems with the client?"
"No. In fact for once, it was good news. The client's wife wasn't cheating on him. She was taking a German cooking class so she could make his favorite meals. His mother had died the year before and she wanted to surprise him."
"Did Donald make the meeting?"
"Yes, I spoke to Mr. Conrad, and Donald left his office around 3:30 that afternoon. He was so relieved at the news that he's offered to put up money for a reward if needed."
"I don't think we're to that point yet." Timmy couldn't tell if Bub actually believed that or was just trying to put Timmy's mind at ease, but either way, it did make him feel a bit better.
"He called Kenny right after that and told him he had one quick stop to make and then he'd be back at the office. That was the last time anyone has heard from him." Timmy took a deep breath and released it. He was at ease enough with Detective Bailey that he could be truthful. "I'm really scared Bub."
Bub picked up his phone and put out an APB on Donald's car. "Was Donald working on anything else?"
Timmy shrugged. "You know the life of a detective, always something on the back burner, but nothing pressing at the moment. And if there was, he would have mentioned it to Kenny if not to me."
Timmy smiled. "He knows I worry, so sometimes he keeps the details of the more dangerous cases to himself until after the fact. But Kenny always knows what he's working on, and he's as concerned as I am. He even hugged me when he dropped off the dry cleaning yesterday morning."
Bub stood up and walked around to the front of his desk. "Well, we've got the APB out, and I know you're worried, Tim, but you've got to remember one very important fact...Donald Strachey knows how to take care of himself. Even if he is in some trouble, my money's still on him."
Timmy stood and shook Bub's hand. "Thank you."
"No thanks necessary." Bub clasped Timmy's shoulder again. "Do you need a ride back to your office?"
"No, the Senator made me use her car and driver."
"I'll let you know as soon as I find out anything."
"Thank you again."
"We'll find him. And then we both can give him hell for worrying everyone."
Timmy's knees almost gave out when he saw the look on Bub's face when he opened the door later that night.
Timmy was glad that Bub was the type of guy who didn't beat around the bush. He just told Timmy the news point blank right there in the doorway. "We found Donald's car, abandoned. The driver's side window was smashed and there was blood all over steering wheel and seat. We're analyzing it now."
Bub shut the door and ushered Timmy to the couch and made him sit down. "Don't panic yet. I know it sounds bad, but you know Donald. He's gotten out of worse scrapes."
Timmy nodded. "I know. I just."
The look of sympathy on Bub's face let Timmy know that he understood. He gave Timmy a slight smile. "I think I did figure out one mystery though. His quick stop must have been to pick you up some flowers. There was a bouquet on the seat. Making up for forgetting the dry cleaning, I'm thinking."
Timmy smiled at that. "He does know how to apologize. I don't think flowers are going to cut it this time though. Making me worry so much."
"So, you haven't given up hope then?"
Timmy smiled and folded his hands across his lap. "On Donald? Never."
"Glad to hear it. We might have a lead as well. I stopped by Donald's office and Kenny gave me a calendar of Donald's appointments. He's due in court next week on the Brasco case."
Timmy pushed his glasses up on his nose, going over Donald's cases in his head. "The extortion case where the perp was drugging his victims and staging them to appear to be engaging in homosexual acts?"
"That's the one. Brasco's still in lock up, but I had a little chat with him and something seemed off, so I've got my men following up on his known associates. I also made sure to point out that if by chance Donald Strachey ends up dead then his testimony from the grand jury will be read into evidence and Brasco will go down for sure."
"So you're thinking maybe he had him kidnapped to stop his testimony?"
Bub nodded. "It seems to be the most likely scenario we've got. And the good news is that Brasco and his merry band were all about the money. I'm pretty sure he's not ready to make the leap from extortion to murder."
Timmy couldn't help himself. "But the blood..."
"You know Donald much better than I do, so do you honestly think he'd go with anyone without putting up one hell of a fight?"
Timmy smiled. "No. Stubborn is his middle name."
"Are you working in the morning?"
"No, the Senator insisted I take the tomorrow off."
Bub stood up. "Smart lady. I'm gonna follow up with my guys and I'll let you know as soon as we have anything. And I know it's hard, but try not to worry too much. We'll find him."
The alive remained unsaid, but Timmy heard it loud and clear.
It was Sunday afternoon before Timmy got the call from Bub. They had a solid lead and he was having a squad car swing by to pick Timmy up. Detective Bailey explained that while it wasn't normal protocol, he figured he owed Donald at least that for all his help over the years. It was only a matter of minutes before they found Donald or rather Donald had found them. He was hobbling his way across the parking lot of a warehouse near the river just as the police showed up. He had smashed his way out of an upper story window leaving his captors knocked out in his wake. His nose was broken from the scuffle in his car, his shoulder dislocated and he had a large shard of glass embedded in his thigh, but he was alive.
Timmy was at his side before the officer driving the car had even come to a complete stop. Donald collapsed in Timmy's arms. "Sorry I didn't make it home with the dry cleaning, honey."
Timmy laughed and kissed Donald's temple. "Oh yes, right now I'm really concerned about my suits."
Donald tried for a smile but he couldn't quite manage it. It was still the most beautiful thing that Timmy had ever seen. "So I take it I won't be sleeping on the sofa?"
"No, I think you have a hospital stay in your future, sweetheart. But after that, I can pretty much guarantee, I'm not letting you out of my sight or out of our bed for a long time to come. I've never been so scared, Donald."
Donald raised his good arm to stroke Timmy's chin. "I'm sorry, baby. I'm so sorry. That was the worst part, knowing how worried you be."
"You have nothing to be sorry about. This wasn't your fault. We'll get you fixed up in no time."
Bub came over and placed a blanket around Donald's shoulders. "Here comes the ambulance now. You just couldn't wait for us to find you huh, Strachey."
"No offense to Albany's finest Bub, but as Timmy can attest, waiting has never been my strong suit."
Bub chuckled as he and Timmy helped Donald to his feet and onto the gurney. "Now that's a shocker all right. It's safe to say Brasco's got some new charges in his future."
"Good. And Bub. Thanks for bringing Timmy to me." Donald looked over at Timmy and this time managed a full blown smile. He took Timmy's hand in his. "This right here is the best medicine."
"If I hadn't been quite sure you were still alive and kicking, I wouldn't have, but I figured I'd better bring him along before he browbeat any more of my officers. That and if I hadn't, I'm pretty sure my wife would have *me* sleeping on the sofa."
Timmy chuckled loudly at the sofa comment hoping Donald missed the browbeating part.
"Browbeat?" Donald asked looking from Bub to Timmy.
No such luck.
Bub clasped Timmy's shoulder. "I'll let Callahan explain. I'm glad you're all right Strachey. You go get some rest and I'll stop by the hospital tomorrow to get your full statement."
"Thank you, Bub." Timmy and Donald said in unison.
"Just doing my job. Take care, the both of you."
As the ambulance door closed, Donald looked over at Timmy. "Browbeating? Since when does Timothy Callahan resort to such tactics?"
"You were missing, the officer in question was being an unhelpful ass, so I might have taken a page from the Strachey intimidation handbook."
"Ooooh, I can't wait to hear the whole story, but I think it's gonna have to wait. The drugs are kicking in." Donald reached for Timmy's hand. "Tired. So tired."
Timmy leaned down and kissed Donald's forehead. "Sleep my darling. I'll be here when you wake up." Timmy wrapped both his hands around Donald's uninjured one and closed his eyes, letting himself relax for the first time in nearly a week.
Everything was okay. Everything was fine. Donald wasn't home yet, but he was on his way.