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Something in Common

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Inspector Simon Ross jogged methodically on his route towards police headquarters. He took his usual circuitous tour through Vancouver running past the docks and their moored ships. He had missed his morning jogs since he had been promoted to Chief of Homicide. The ritual helped him cleanse his mind of the constant pressures and demands of his new job. Otherwise, he'd start to lose himself in the endless stream of paperwork and meetings.

Ross had certainly inherited his share of problems since he had taken over from his predecessor. He had hated bringing in Internal on the Keneely homicide case. It went against his better judgment as a fellow police officer, but his own superiors had effectively tied his hands. They wanted him to clean up the department and find any other "loose ends".

Theoretically that would have worked fine, transitioning from the old and new without a hitch. But it had turned out more complicated than Ross had initially expected, when even his superiors' motives were hazy and unclear. He was going to have to play his cards very close to his chest on this job if he wanted to survive it.

The only bright spot in the whole messy affair had been his brief and intriguing encounters with Sgt. Ali McCormick, head of the "Cold Squad" division. A smart, tenacious and relentless investigator, McCormick was in charge of investigating old unsolved cases using new technologies and overlooked information.

Most cops would have backed down in the face of an Internal investigation into her own partner. They would have listened to his requests to stay away from the case. But that wasn't McCormick's style. If someone pushed her into a tight situation, she found a way around the obstacle. Then Sgt. McCormick turned the tables on Internal, backing them into a proverbial corner until the investigators were forced to drop the charges against Detective Tony Logozzo.

Ross allowed the smallest trace of a smile to cross his features. From her reports, he had guessed she would be a handful for any superior to manage effectively. He just hadn't expected to respond to those challenges so passionately. Every time he tried to keep her in check on a cold case, reminding her of the department's image and standing, she'd brush it off noncommittally, far more concerned with the truth behind those forgotten cases than her reputation.

He jogged the final few yards to police headquarters, pulling up short just outside the front door to catch his breath. He spent a few seconds cooling down from the long run. He wasn't winded, but he was feeling the effects of his lack of workouts lately.

Ross needed to run more often. He might be shoved behind a desk, but he needed to keep his physical condition within acceptable limits. He passed a hand through his sweaty short dark hair. After all, he did have an image to maintain.

"Inspector?"

Ross immediately tightened, the wind being knocked out of him by a familiar bright voice. He turned to see Sgt. McCormick walking up the street from her car, dressed in a dark pantsuit. She had that infuriating half-smile on her face when she had just discovered something amusing in the situation.

"Good morning, Sergeant." Ross felt a bit ridiculous addressing one of his detectives in only his jogging shorts and T-shirt, rather than his usual three-piece suit.

"Getting your exercise?" McCormick asked, still amused.

Ross said, "Nothing like a good run to wake you up in the morning."

"I know," McCormick smiled. "I run most mornings when I have a chance."

That caught him off guard. Ross hadn't expected to share that common ground with McCormick, although he had occasionally wondered how she stayed in such phenomenal shape with her long hours.

Ross said, "I used to run more often. Schedules being what they are, though, it's not always possible."

"I'm familiar with that drill," McCormick said, rolling her eyes. She headed towards the entrance, passing by him. She murmured just under her breath. "Nice legs."

Ross felt a slight blush on his cheeks. Without thinking, he said, watching her from the rear. "Yours too." He stopped and winced inwardly. He really had to curb his wit around this woman. The alternative would land him in serious trouble someday.

Fortunately McCormick didn't seem to catch that response. She simply added over her shoulder. "Maybe I'll see you around on the jogging trails. I can always use a good challenge."

Ross sighed. He was in trouble already. But at least he would enjoy it.