Echoes from the Past

Part 17 of the Vet Series


May 7, 2007


By CherylR


I had the first twenty five pages of this story written three years ago.  Not sure why it took so long to finish this story, except it kept heading towards dime-store thriller territory.  You should thank Judy for reining it in and corralling those pesky commas and verb tenses too.  Enjoy.




Captain Simon Banks’ office


“I hate filling out budget forms,” Banks grumbled to himself.  “I really hate having to fill out budget forms again… because they decided at the last minute that they wanted them done in blue ink this year instead of black ink like we've done for the last ten years.”


Out in the bullpen, Ellison exchanged a look with Jackson. Both Sentinels winced and sent out ‘the Captain’s doing the budget' alert to the rest of the crew. 


Everyone immediately grabbed the nearest file or phone to make sure that they looked busy if the Captain glanced out his windows. Everyone, except for Sandburg.


Sandburg patted Ellison on the shoulder, got up and walked to the break room to get some chamomile tea and a donut for the Captain.  If I offer him a donut bribe, I bet I can get him to drink the tea.  He went to Simon’s office balancing two mugs and the donut.  Blair rapped gently on the door.


“Come in,” Banks bellowed.


Here we go again.  “Simon… I brought you some nice tea,” Blair said softly.


Banks just grunted at him.


“And a donut,” Blair added.


Banks looked up from his paperwork and glared at Sandburg.


“If you drink the tea,” Blair coaxed, “I’ll give you the donut.”


“Humph,” Banks snorted.  “I can get my own damn donut... without having to drink any damn tea.”


“This is the last one in the building,” Blair said with a twinkle in his eye.


Simon looked at the donut and then looked at the tea.  “I’m your Captain,” he glared at Blair.  “I could order you to give me the donut.”


“Sure you could,” Blair reassured, “but you won’t, because you’d see it as an abuse of power.”


Banks snorted again.  “Give me the damn tea.”  I’m never going to tell him that I actually like this stuff.


Now if I could just get him to admit that he really likes tea.... Blair smirked.


Their verbal sparring had the desired results and both men relaxed a bit, enjoying the tea and quiet companionship.


The tea finished Banks mock growled at Sandburg. “Now give me my donut.”


“Sure thing Captain,” Blair said with an exaggerated shiver.  “Simon,” Blair asked softly, “can we help?  I mean, you’re just transferring the numbers onto the new forms, right?  Does it have to be in your handwriting?”


Banks looked thoughtful for a moment.  “No one said it had to be my handwriting just that it had to be in blue ink.”  He shook his head and sighed. “I don’t know Sandburg.  Some of this is pretty personal information.  I can't allow salaries to become public knowledge.


“Well sir,” Blair suggested, “it’s not all personal is it?  How ‘bout you keep the salary information and just give us the paperclips and coffee sections.  Then you can double check our numbers after you finish filling out the pages that you have.”


Simon looked out the window at his team.  Ellison and Jackson were both looking at him and nodding their heads in agreement.  I have a great team of people.  “Okay Sandburg, let me look through the pages and see what I can farm out.” Banks stopped and looked up at Sandburg.  “Thanks, Blair.  I really appreciate the offer to help.”


Blair’s smile could have lit up a stadium and it coaxed a corresponding grin out of Simon.


A few minutes later, Blair bounced out of Simon’s office with a stack of papers and a fist full of blue pens.  He gave everyone a pen and two pages of budget forms.  “Okay gang, here’s the deal… one page is filled with numbers and one page is blank.  Make sure that I gave you the same forms and then all you have to do is copy the numbers from the black ink page to the blank page using a blue ink pen.”


Ellison rolled his eyes at his partner, ruffled Blair’s hair, and teased, “You can take the teacher out of the school…”


The rest of the gang laughed as Blair whined, “Not the hair man.  Hey, Jim,” Blair teased back, “try to make sure it’s legible okay.”


“I’ll show you legible,” Ellison laughed and made a grab for his partner.


Blair ducked and laughed as he went back to his desk to work on his section of the budget.




A while later


“Okay gang, I think that’s the last of them.  I’ll take this stuff in to Simon and maybe he’ll be in a better mood soon,” Blair smiled at the group.


“We can only hope,” seemed to be the prevailing comment.


Blair gathered the forms together and put the pages in numerical order.  He turned to take them to Simon’s office just as Banks answered his phone.  Oh well, I guess this can wait until he’s done with his phone call. 


Sandburg sat back down and watched as his Captain’s expression changed from annoyance to recognition to surprise and pleasure.  Hmm, wonder what that’s about?  At least it put Simon in a better mood.  Uh oh, what’s he doing here?




Banks’ Office, same time


“Banks,” Simon growled into the phone.


“Hello, Simon.  It’s Jack Starnes from Houston.  Have I caught you at a bad time?”


“Jack,” Simon exclaimed. “I’m not sure there is ever a good time, but I sure could use a break right now.”  He leaned back in his chair and glanced out the window at the diligently working Jackson.  Jackson’s fine, by the way.  What can I do for you?”


Starnes chuckled. “I just wanted to say thanks again for finding Mike and letting her become part of your team,” Starnes began.


“Jack, that was a long time ago.  Jackson’s more than proven herself as a competent officer, she’s a real asset to the department.   We’re not giving her back,” Simon said his smile and unsubtle threat coming over the phone lines loud and clear.


“I would love for her to come back here… but, it’s safe… er, better for her to stay there.  I know that you’re busy, let me get to the reason for my call.  Our Chief is buddies with Sam Reed the owner of the Houston Rockets.


They’re having an exhibition game with the Cascade Jags in two weeks as an opener for the new stadium.  Mr. Reed is a big supporter of the PD and is a bit worried about security at the new stadium so he gave the Chief several hundred tickets to the exhibition.  I have extras and wanted to know if you and your unit would like to come.”


“Jack,” Simon sputtered, astonished.


Starnes interrupted. “I mentioned it to Chief Walker who mentioned it to Mr. Reed who then mentioned it to Coach Brianski of the Jags.  So not only do you have tickets to the game… you have a spot on the team plane and I’ve already talked to Mike’s Dad.  He has room for all of you at his place.  So,” Jack concluded, “Can you come?”


Just then Rhonda knocked on his door. “Captain Banks,” she said formally, “the Commissioner is here to see you now.”


“Jack, I’m going to have to call you back.  The police commissioner just got here,” Simon sighed.


“Oh, good timing… just put me on hold.  This shouldn’t take too long,” Starnes said confidently.


Jack…What have you done?  “Please come in, Commissioner,” Banks said as he stood up and pushed the hold button on his phone.  “Can I offer you a cup of coffee, or something?”


“Don’t worry about that,” the Commissioner said. “Have a seat Captain, I won’t keep you long.  I’m sure you’re still busy working on the budget, as am I,” he grimaced then chuckled. “I can’t tell you my surprise when I received a call from an old buddy of mine from Houston.”


Simon sank into his chair.  Uh oh.


“Captain Banks, I was informed that you and your unit have been invited to Houston to see a basketball game.”


“Commissioner,” Simon began.


“No, no Banks…” the Commissioner said, holding out his hands in a calming gesture.  “I know that you didn’t plan this, but I wanted to inform you in person that I expect you and your team to take Houston PD up on their offer.  This trip would be a good chance to show the mayor some of that team building, multi-city communication rah rah crap, she's been spouting for the last nine months.  Your unit is covered from that Friday afternoon until Monday morning.  Enjoy your trip.”  The Commissioner then walked out of Captain Banks’ office and closed the door behind him.


Simon slumped back in his chair.  Well what do you know… he really is human after all.  Banks grabbed his phone and bellowed, “Jack, what did you do?”


“Hmmm?” came the oh so innocent sounding reply.


“Jack.  The commissioner just walked in here and gave us the weekend off.  The whole unit.  What did you do?”


“What makes you think that I had anything to do with it?” Starnes asked innocently.


“You know Jack, I may have been promoted, but I’m still a darn good detective.  Some things are pretty obvious.”  Simon grunted and grinned. “Thanks for your hard work.  I’m sure the gang would love to come to Houston to see the game.”


“Well, Mike would probably rather do something else, but I’m hoping that the rest of you will enjoy it.”


“Thanks, Jack.”


“Nope, Simon, it doesn’t work that way.  This is to say thanks to you.  So you say… you’re welcome.”


“You’re welcome, Jack,” Simon said as he looked back out at the bullpen.  “Thanks.”


“Don’t mention it.  So,” Starnes said with a stretch, relaxing now that he’d gotten Simon to agree with his plan.  “Someone from the Jags should be over in the next day or two with all the details for the trip.  I’m look forward to seeing you again and showing you the hospitality of my city.”


The two men chatted for a few more minutes then hung up.  Simon had just started transferring more of the numbers to the new sheet, when someone knocked on the door.  He looked up and muttered, “I’m never going to get this damn thing finished if I keep getting interrupted.”  Banks looked out the window and saw Sandburg standing there.  “Come in,” he bellowed.


“Simon,” Blair said gently.  “I’m sorry if this is a bad time, but I wanted to let you know we’re finished with your forms.”  He handed Banks two sets of neatly stacked papers. 


Simon looked up at Sandburg and smiled.  “Everyone in my office, now!” he bellowed.


The detectives all jumped then moved quickly into Banks’ office.


Simon looked at each member of his unit and smiled again.  “You’ll never guess where we’re going to be in two weeks….”




Ellison’s side of the Loft later that evening


“I’m just saying…” Mike grumbled as she helped Blair dry the dishes. “Sure tickets to a game are great, but why couldn’t they be for the ‘Stros instead?  Come on… it’s the first time in years that they are in the playoffs but noooo, can’t go to that one… we have to go watch grown men in baggy shorts stroll around a court playing with their balls.”


“Come on Mike, it’ll be fun,” Sandburg said soothingly.  “You get to show us around Houston and then everyone gets to watch the Jags trounce the Rockets.


Mike snorted. “What makes you think the Jags will win? Kenderson can’t hold onto the ball to save his life… Lockwood has a bad case of brick hands and Houston, Sloman and Woodson are starting to show their age. The Rockets will sweep the court with them."


“Ha,” Blair taunted.  “I knew it.  You like basketball.  Everyone likes basketball.”


Mike took a swipe at Blair with the dish cloth.  “I never said that I didn’t like basketball,” she sniffed disdainfully.  “I don’t care to watch professional basketball.  I’d rather play.  If I have to watch a game I’d rather watch baseball.”  She pulled a bottle of water out of the fridge and walked over to Jenny.  “You need to drink more water…"


Ellison bristled as Jackson approached.  “I’m perfectly capable of looking after my wife,” the senior Sentinel growled.


“Both of you chill already,” Jen grumbled.  Geesh, this is really getting old.  Mikey, over there.  Jim, you go over there.”  Jenny pointed the Sentinels toward opposite corners of the room.  “Calm down both of you or I’m going to handcuff you together and go stay with Blair and El for the night.”


“You tell ‘em, Jen,” Blair snorted from the kitchen.  What a night for Connor to be out on a date. “Listen up you two.  I want both of you to sit down and take some deep breaths for me.  That’s it.  Just relax a bit. 


Come on, we’ve figured this out,” Blair said, using his Guide voice to calm the two Sentinel’s down.  “You’re both just letting the stress of the last few days get to you.  Jenny is fine.  Neither one of you want to hurt her or each other.  You just got kicked up into BP overdrive because both of you were too close to Jenny at the same time.  That’s it… nice deep breaths.”  I deserve a raise for this.  I wonder if it’s going to be better or worse after the baby is born?




Cascade PD Major Crime Unit, the next morning                          


The ringing phone barely registered with Jackson.  Cascade’s junior Sentinel was still upset over the dream she’d had the night before.  Kuwabarakuwabara! Please let it be a nightmare and not a vision… Mike thought, recalling the vivid dream, one that seemed vaguely familiar.


The black-footed ferret was being chased by jackals.  The ferret was successfully evading the jackals, but there were too many of them… it was only a matter of time before they cornered him.


“Hey, Mike, you okay?” Blair asked.


Murf,” the Sentinel grunted.


He looked at Mike sharply. “You’re phone is ringing.”  The Guide reached out and gently placed his hand on Mike’s shoulder to ground her as he glanced around the bullpen trying to spot Megan.  What’s going on now?  Where is everyone?


Mike answered the phone with a growl, “Jackson.”


“Cascade’s loss is Houston’s gain,” a male voice gloated.


“What?” Mike asked as she tried to ignore the fear her dream stirred up.


“I have something you want and you have something I want, so I suggest we trade.”


Mike paled and looked up into the concerned blue eyes next to her.  “Trace it,” she mouthed.   Blair quickly grabbed the phone on Megan’s desk and started the trace procedures.


“Who is this?” the Sentinel demanded trying to listen to the sounds in the background.  Only one heartbeat.  What’s that noise?  Shimatta, that sounds like… Mike fumbled around looking for her cell phone just as Rafe walked by her desk.  She saw the cell phone in his hand and grabbed it.


He moved to protest and the Sentinel growled at him.  What the hell?  “Sandburg?”


Blair looked up from his phone call, glanced at Mike then said, “Brian, find Megan.  Now.”


Rafe looked around then hurried out of the bullpen towards the break room.  What now?


Mike quickly dialed a number on ‘her’ cell phone.  “What do you think you have that I’d want?” she growled into her desk phone as she waited for the call to go through on the cell.


Megan ran into the bullpen followed closely by the rest of the Major Crime team minus Ellison and Banks.  They gathered around Mike’s desk and tried to figure out what was going on.


Mike concentrated on her desk phone.  She could hear a phone ringing in the background and then her Dad’s answering machine kicked in.  Don’t panic.  Stay calm.  She hung up the cell phone, placed it on her desk and swallowed hard as she spoke to the unidentified man on the other line.  “I repeat, what do you think you have that I would want?”


Mike pushed the speakerphone and mute button on her phone and then she grabbed the cell phone and franticly started dialing another number.  This time the phone was answered with a bored “state the nature of your call.”


"You need to dispatch units to 225 Sparrow Lark Drive for an intruder inside the premises," Jackson requested urgently.


The bored voice replied, “we don’t show a break-in at that address.”


The Sentinel got out of her chair.  She briefly tuned in to her desk phone to make sure that the intruder wasn’t waiting for a response.  Yeah, like that threat would scare my dad.  Stupid bad guys, they never learn.  She pushed past H, and started prowling around the bullpen.  “What is your name and ID code?” she growled to the man on her cell phone.


“Who wants to know,” he responded.


Mike’s eyes narrowed in concentration.  “Collins, is that you?”


“Yes,” the man replied startled.  He thought about the address again and muttered, “oh shit.”


“Collins, this is Jackson, code 3234 and I have reported an intruder at 225 Sparrow Lark Drive.  Are you going to dispatch units or am I calling the cops in to handle this?”


Rafe and Brown exchanged confused looks.  “Who’d she call if not the cops?” H murmured.


“Don’t know, but I don’t think now’s the time to ask,” Rafe whispered back.


“Units are on the way,” Collins stuttered.  “I hope everything is all right.  Good b…”


“Don’t hang up,” the Sentinel growled, “I’m not through with you yet.”


Jackson, I’m sorry.  Really.  We’ve had a lot of crank calls this week.  And…”Collins trailed off.


“I don’t need excuses right now.  I want to talk to John.”


“He’s not here right now.  I can have him call you back when I find him.”


“Very well,” Mike said softly.  “Oh and Collins… you have ten minutes to find him then I’m calling back and looking for you.”


“Wait, what number does he need to call,” Collins said, scrambling for a pen and paper.


“He knows.” The Sentinel ended the call, put the phone in her pocket, and returned to her desk just as Ellison stormed into the room. 


The elevated heart rates of his team had the Sentinel on high alert.  I’m never going on a coffee run again. He placed the tray on his desk. “What’s going on?” the senior Sentinel asked.


Blair motioned his partner over to him and whispered.  “Not exactly sure but there’s an intruder somewhere and he’s threatening Mike’s dad.


Ellison watched as Jackson sat down in her chair.  He saw Megan try to control a shiver as they all listened to the threats coming across the speaker phone.


The intruder was winding down.  Megan placed a shaky hand on her Sentinel’s back.  Oh God!  Please, don’t let Shellie lose her dad too. “He says that he has your dad.”


Mike punched the mute button viciously. “And your proof that you have my dad,” Mike growled, “is that I get to talk to him… Now.”


“I don’t think so.  You have to earn that right first.  I have a list of demands.”


Mike leaned back in her chair with a sigh.  Yadda, yadda, yadda.  No talk, no demands.”  Come on, come on… get there already.


Megan grabbed Mike’s arm in alarm and shook her as the rest of the team stared in disbelief.


“Jim, can you hear more than one heartbeat?” Blair whispered anxiously.


Ellison shook his head.


“Maybe I should start taking your attitude out on your dad,” the intruder said a bit nervously.


“That would work if he was there.  But he’s not.  So your threats don’t hold much weight with me.”


“Of course he’s here,” the intruder stuttered.


“Look,” Mike interrupted, “do you have a name?  I’m tired of thinking of you as ‘the intruder’.”




“Tell me your name or I’m going to make one up for you.”


“I don’t believe this…” he sputtered, “who do you think you are?”


“I see the problem now.  You’re having an identity crisis.  You don’t know who you are.  You don’t know who I am.  There are people who can help you with that.”  Finally.  It took them long enough.


“This isn’t going like he said it would,” the intruder muttered.


“Who do you work for?” the Sentinel growled.


“I ain't saying nothing else to you.  You can deal with the Boss yourself.”


“That’s fine.  Who’s your boss?”


“Ste… Nope. I’m not telling you anything.”  The sound of doors being forced open and voices shouting ‘freeze’ could be heard over the phone.  The intruder’s stunned voice came over the line, “I don’t believe this.” His voice was partially drown out by the sounds of a struggle.  “…rd can deal with you himself.”


Suddenly the voice on the phone changed. “This is Reece, who am I speaking with?”


“This is Jackson.  Is there anyone else there?”


“Well, if it isn’t little Mikey, long time no see.” Reece said warmly then paused.  “I just got the all clear. No one else is here.  Your dad is going to have quite a mess to clean up when he gets back. What do you want us to do with ‘phone man’ here?”


“Take him in and see if you can find out who he works for.  I’m waiting for a call back from John.  He’ll let you know how to dispose of the guy,” she paused.  “Thanks, Reece.”


“Any time, Mike.  Any time.”


Jackson hung up the phone with a sigh, rubbed her hands over her face.  “Che!” She grabbed the phone again and dialed another number ignoring the confused faces in front of her.


Banks walked into the bullpen, annoyed at having had to attend yet another boring budget meeting.  They don’t want crime to happen, but they refuse to pay a living wage for police officers. But everything is blue so they’re happy.  He looked up and saw his best team gathered around Jackson’s desk.   What now?  “Don’t you people have work to do?”


Everyone but the two Sentinels jumped and with a quick look around, Rafe walked towards Captain Banks.  “Sir, there was a break-in at Jackson’s family home.  The person there threatened her father, but it doesn’t appear that Mike’s dad was home.”


"Damn, it’s always something.  What happened to normal days? Normal, who am I kidding?  Who is she talking to now… the cops?”


“Umm, I’m not sure who she’s talking to right now.”  And I don’t think she called the cops…


Both men turned and joined the rest of the team gathered around Jackson’s desk.


The phone was answered by a gruff voice, “Starnes.”


“Jack.  It’s Mike.  Where are your parents?”




“Jack,” Mike paused.  "Someone just broke into Dad’s place.  When was the last time you talked to your parents?”


“Jesus, Mike!  Is your dad okay?”


“He wasn’t there, Jack.  Your parents?”


“They took a cruise.” Starnes looked at his calendar.  “They should be somewhere in the middle of the Caribbean right now.  Look I can send a team over to your dad’s.  They can be there in about twenty minutes.”


“Don’t bother, Jack.  It’s been handled already.”


Damnit, Mike.  I hate it when you do that.”


“Me, too,” the Sentinel said sadly. “Look, call your dad.  Make sure that they’re okay and give him a heads up.  I’ll call you back as soon as I know more.  You be extra careful too.”


“Hey, Mike.”




“Keep your head down,” Starnes said gruffly.


“I always do, Jack.”  Jackson hung up the phone and started rifling through her neat stacks of papers and opening drawers rummaging through them before slamming them closed again.


“Mike, what are you looking for?” Megan asked sharply, trying to get her partner’s attention.


Nahen mai keita?” the Sentinel growled.


“In English,” the Guide said gently as she stroked her Sentinel’s arm trying to calm her down.


“Where’s my cell phone?”  Jackson growled.


“Mike, you put it in your pocket,” Megan reminded her.


“Huh?”  Mike grabbed the cell phone out of her pocket and glared at it.  “This isn’t mine.  Where did it come from?”  She stared at the cell phone in disbelief and tried to think back to when and where she got the phone.


Che!  I can’t believe I did that.  Jackson blushed and offered the phone back to Rafe. “I’m sorry, Brian.  I…”


“Don’t worry about it, Mike,” Rafe said.  “It startled me for a minute until I realized that something must be going down for you to just grab it like that.  What’s going on?  Who’d you call?  Some kinda security company?”


“Those are only a few of the questions I want answers to,” Simon said forcefully.


Mike nodded at her Captain and started, “I guess you could call them a security company.”  The phone on her desk rang and everyone jumped.  Mike reached out and pushed the speakerphone button. “Jackson.”


“Mike, it’s John.”


“Ojisan, Doshita no.  Shimatta!”


“Mike, honey, either slow down or switch back to English, my Japanese is pretty rusty.”


Jackson took a deep breath and slowly let it out.  I am calm.  The soft controls the hard.  “Uncle John, what’s going on… and where’s Dad?”


“Last time I heard, it was Okinawa.”


“He’s retired,” the Sentinel fumed.


“Of course he is, Mike,” John soothed.


“Reese call in yet?”  Jackson growled.


“Not yet.  Mike, give us a couple of hours and we’ll find out what’s going on.  I’m sure that your dad is fine but, if it would make you feel better, I’ll call the local office in Okinawa and have them check up on him. Okay?”


“Thanks, Uncle John.  I’ll be waiting for your call.”  She hung up the phone and muttered, “just don’t expect me to sit here twiddling my thumbs while I wait.”


Jackson,” Captain Banks growled, “what’s going on?”

 Mike started to answer then she looked up into Ellison’s concerned eyes. What are you doing here? She looked around. “Where’s Jenny?  I thought you had the day off?”


“Jenny’s at work.  I have tomorrow off.  Why?” Jim asked with a frown.


Mike picked up the phone again.


“West Cascade Animal Clinic.”


“Melissa, it’s Mike.  I need to talk to Jen for a minute.  How’s her schedule for the rest of the day?”


"Hey, Mike, we’re really light today.  Dr J. is thinking about giving us the rest of the day off.  Hang on just a sec, here she is.”


"Hey, Mikey, what’s up?”


“Jenny, Yoroshiku tanom!”


“Mike!” the vet sounded startled as Mike uttered the code word that Jenny hadn’t heard in a very long time.


“Jenny, lock the front door now.  Jim’s on his way.  Go get Bushido and tell him ‘usankusai.’ Repeat it Jen,” Mike said urgently.


Uuh san kuh sigh,” Jenny pronounced carefully.


Jim looked at Simon and got his approval, not even questioning Mike's offhanded order.  He gathered up Blair and headed for the door still listening to the conversation between his wife and the junior Sentinel.


“Go, I’ll wait,” Mike said


“Everyone stay calm," Jenny said.  “Justin, lock the front door and switch the sign to closed.  Stay away from the windows.  I’ll be right back.”


“What’s going on?  Does it have something to do with Detective Ellison?  What the hell?”  These were a few of the exclamations that Mike could hear as she waited impatiently for Jenny to get back.


“Okay, Mike,” Jenny’s breathless voice came back on the line. “I’m back and I have Boo.”


“Bushido, taiki.  Bushido, kabau!”


The shepherd barked once, then the sound of his nails on tile could be heard growing fainter as the dog started ‘rounds’.




“I’m here, Mikey.  Is Jim okay?”


“Jim’s fine, kouyuu.  Someone broke into Dad’s place.  I want to make sure they aren’t after you too.  Where are your parents?”


“At home,” came the subdued response.  “Is your dad okay?”


“He wasn’t there.  Look, call your parents and give them a heads up.  I’ll call John and have him send a team over to cover them.” Silence fell on the line and Mike could hear Jen’s rapid heartbeat.  “Jenny, are you okay?”


“Just worried, Mikey.”


“I’m sorry, Jen.  I need to make some more phone calls.  Just hang in there.  Jim’s on his way.  Don’t open the door for anyone else, okay?  Let Boo check outside when Jim gets there.”


“You be careful.”

“I will.  Tell Jim that I’ll call later with more info.”


Simon cleared his throat, “Jackson.”


Mike didn’t hear him as she hung up and then immediately started dialing John’s number.  I need one of those headset phones.  “Where’s my cell phone?”  She was trashing her desk again when Megan stepped back in and started rubbing her shoulders.


“Mike, take a deep breath.  Where did you see it last?” the Guide soothed.


Mike rubbed her free hand over her face.  “I don’t know, last night maybe?”


I wonder if she turned it off?  Megan walked over to her desk and called Mike’s cell phone number.  As the call went through, a chirping sound could be heard coming from the coat hooks.


Mike looked around in surprise and disgust.  “Why didn’t I think of that?” she muttered.


Megan hung up her phone and went over to Mike’s coat.  She found the cell phone in one of the interior pockets, pulled it out and then walked back and handed it to Mike.


Kourei ritoru tori!” the Sentinel said squeezing Megan’s hand.  She turned back as the phone was answered.




“Jones, Jackson.  John?”


“Jackson, John’s busy right now.  Can I help with something?”


Mike bit her lip.  “Yeah, I need you to get a team on the Watkins… they’re at home.  They still live in Austin, the address is in my Dad’s file.”


“Mike, I’m not authorized to send out teams.”


“That’s why I asked for John,” the Sentinel growled.  “Tell him I’m holding.”


Mike started scrolling through the numbers on her cell phone’s address book.  Moments later John picked up the phone.  “Mike, I told you it would take a few hours to find out anything.”


Jackson corrected him, “I don’t want to know if you’ve found anything, I want you to put a team on the Watkins.”


“Mike, I can’t go around putting teams on every one you know.  We’re not even sure…”


“Who’s the target?” Mike interrupted.


“We don’t know yet.”


“Well, John, it looks like you have a choice.  Either put a team on the Watkins or I’ll call in some markers and have it done myself.”




“I’m not asking for a whole squad.  I just want one team on one location.”


“Damn, stubborn… just like your dad.”




“One team.”


“That’s all I asked for.  The rest are covered or can take care of themselves.”


John grunted. “Don’t call me.  I’ll call you.”


“Love you too, Ojisan.” Mike smirked as she hung up the phone.  There it is.  She punched talk on her cell phone.  Please be okay. 


Simon growled, “Jackson.”


Mike held up her hand as the phone was answered.


An elderly female voice answered the phone. “Moshimoshi.”


Obaasan,” Mike said with relief and reverence.  Shokin kubi ni. Kakusu.”


“Ritoru neko?” said the startled voice.


Hai. Kakasu.”




Fumei,” Mike responded sadly.




Yobimodosu.” Mike shifted the phone to her other ear.


Hai, Sayonara.”


“Sayonara, Obaasan.”  Mike disconnected the call and sighed.  She looked up into Megan’s worried eyes and sighed again.


“Shellie,” Megan chided lightly, “my language lessons aren’t that advanced yet. I only got part of the conversation. Who were you talking to?  Isn’t Chichioya ‘father’?”


“That was my Obaasan, you would say grandmother.  She adopted me when we lived in Japan.  I told her to hide until I called her back because people may be looking for her.  Chichioya is father.  See the language lessons are sticking,” Mike tried to smile as she rotated her neck.


The Guide moved in and returned to massaging the Sentinel’s neck and shoulders.  After a few moments some of the tension eased, and Megan cautiously broached the subject.  “Shellie, what’s going on?”


“That’s what I’d like to know Detective Jackson,” Simon growled in agreement.


“Sir, can you give me ten minutes before I brief you?  I would like to make a few more phone calls,” Jackson pleaded.


“Ten minutes.  Then meet me in my office.”  Simon left shaking his head.  Lord, just when things were staring to get back to normal again.  We’re going to have a talk about ignoring the Captain.




Fifteen minutes later Captain Banks’ office


“…and so Jackson, while I don’t like to call any of my officers in for insubordination, you are skating very close to the edge,” Simon said as he finished his mini-lecture on proper procedures and the inadvisability of leave the Captain in the dark.


“Sir, yes, Sir.  I’m really sorry, Sir,” Jackson said sheepishly.  “It won’t happen again.”


“Good," he stated staring at his detective. "Now tell me.  What’s going on and how can we help.”


Mike sighed.  “Captain Banks, I want you to know that I have never regretted my decision to move to Cascade and become a member of your team.


“No groveling, Jackson.  What does your Dad do?” Banks asked.


“He’s retired.  Just ask anyone,” Mike huffed.  “Why he’s in Okinawa, I have no idea.”  She got up and looked out the windows toward her desk.  Ring.  Come on, ring.


“Retired from what?”


“He’s a businessman,” Jackson replied distractedly.


“What kind of business?” Banks asked.  This is like pulling teeth.


“Exotic furniture and household décor.  That’s why he travels so much,” she said absently, repeating the company line without thought.


Sure, he does.  I always call my furniture store to report a break-in.  “I see,” Banks stated.  Jackson.  Mike, what’s wrong?”


“Sir?”  Mike turned back around to face her Captain, a bit startled.


“What’s wrong?”


She sighed.  “He hasn’t called back yet.  I paged him and he hasn’t called back yet.”  Mike rubbed her hands across her face.  “I know.   I know… he has to finish calling his phone tree first.”  She bit at a corner of her lip.  “But, he hasn’t called back yet and I’m worried.”  That damn dream has me spooked.  He's always been able to care of himself before.   She resumed her seat.  “I’m sorry Sir, you asked to be briefed.  Where would you like me to start?”


Jackson, tell ya what, let’s go to the conference room and you can brief everyone at the same time.  I sent a request to Communications to pull the recording from your phone call.  They’re going to send someone here with the tape as soon as they can.”


“Thanks, Sir,” Mike replied with another glance at her stubbornly silent phone.




6th Floor Conference Room


Mike walked into the conference room and started pacing distractedly.  Every thirty seconds she would stop and cock her head to listen back into the bullpen.  Then she would start prowling again.


What’s she doing? Rhonda watched the detective pace, then stop again.  Oh!  “Mike I can transfer your line over to one of the conference room phones.  It will ring in here, okay?” Rhonda said softly.


“Thanks Rhonda,” Mike said sheepishly.  “I don’t know why I didn’t think of doing that.”


Mike rubbed her hands over her face and sighed.  “Okay, I guess ya’ll want to know what’s going on.  My Dad…” she was interrupted by the phone ringing.  She pounced on it, pushed the speakerphone button, and growled, “Jackson.”


“Michelle,” said a distinguished sounding male voice, “you are still the apple blossom of my eye.”


Mike sank into a nearby chair as she answered the catch phrase with a shaky voice, “And you’re my teddy bear.  Secure?”




“Chichioya, shimatta,” Mike took a deep breath and muttered.  Ichi, ni, san, shi, go, roku, shichi, hachi, kyuu, juu.”  She took another deep breath and glared at the phone.  Hana, dul, set, net, tasot, yasot, iigop, yodul, ahop, yul.  Where are you?”


“Honey, calm down.  You’re going to need to pick up some more languages or start counting to twenty instead of ten.  I’m still in Okinawa.”


“Dad, you’re supposed to be retired.”


“I am.”


“Dad,” Mike steamed, “someone broke into the house.”


The group of detectives shifted uncomfortable in their chairs.  They exchanged glances with each other and were reassured that everyone seemed to be equally in the dark about the situation.


“So I gathered from your message,” Matthew Jackson responded.  “Who’s handling it?”


“Who do you think?” she responded disgustedly.  “It still feels like I’m selling out.”


“John’s a good man, and Jack’s a good cop.”


Mike just grunted.


“Did you get in touch with Walter and Dorothy?”


“Jack said they’re on a cruise.  He’s going to call and warn them.  I got a hold of everyone in my call tree, how about you?”


“Everyone was appropriately warned.”


“Dad, do you know what’s going on?  Have you heard anything?  Why are you in Okinawa?”

“Mike, I’m retired.”


“You know Dad, you keep saying that.  Why don’t I believe you?”


“Mike,” Matthew Jackson sighed and changed the subject. “How’s Jenny?”


Mike stood up so suddenly that her chair went crashing to the ground.  She glared menacingly at the phone.  “Who wants to know?”


“Mike,” Matthew said soothingly.


“No Dad, who wants to know?” Mike demanded.  “I meant what I said last time… they had better leave Ellison and Sandburg alone or else certain things will come to light that they would rather stay buried.”


Captain Banks started and chomped down on his unlit cigar.  They?  Who are they?  What kind of information does Jackson have?  Who the hell does her Dad work for?  I know he’s more than just a ‘businessman’.  And what do they want with Sandburg and Ellison?


Mike resumed prowling around the conference room.  Megan got out of her chair and slowly approached her Sentinel.  “Hey there, you okay, Shellie?”


Mike grabbed Megan and gave her a fierce hug.  “I will keep you safe,” she vowed softly to her partner.


“Easy, Shell,” Megan said as she tried to calm her Sentinel down.  “I’m right here and I’m not going any where.”


Mike buried her nose in Megan’s neck, scenting her Guide’s calming presence.  I will keep you safe.


“Michelle, muri shinai de,” Matthew commanded.  I asked the question, because I wanted to know.”


Mike snorted then stressed.  They’re fine.”


“Michelle,” Jackson senior reprimanded.


“She’s fine, Dad," Mike replied with a sigh. "She’s at the office. Boo’s on guard duty and Ellison and Sandburg are en-route to her location.”


“Thank you, Michelle.”


Mike sniffed and then bent over to pick up her chair.  She flounced down in it and asked “Do you have any idea who was in the house?”


“No, not yet.”


“Very well,” Mike said.  “I’ll let you get back to work then.”


“Michelle,” Matthew sighed, “I’m retired.  I’m just out here visiting friends.”


“Glad to hear it, Dad,” Mike replied with patented disbelief.  “Hey, Dad?”




“Please be careful,” she cautioned, leaning forward to rest her arms on the table.  “And watch out for jackals.”


What now?  Another dream?  “Michelle, I’m always careful.  Keep your head down.  I love you.”


“Love you too, Dad,” Mike said.  She gently hung up the phone and then let her head sink down onto her folded arms.


Megan and Rhonda flanked Mike and offered their support.


Mike raised her head and rubbed her face with both hands.  “Sorry about that,” she said with a slightly shaky voice.  “I guess that dream bothered me more than I thought.  I suppose ya’ll would like to know what’s going on, huh?”


“Not with the dreams again,” Banks muttered.


“Captain, if you don’t mind… let me run to the little cop’s room and then I’ll give you a run down on what I know.  Would someone give Ellison a call and see how things are going on their end?”


Banks nodded and Jackson left followed closely by Megan and Rhonda.  The remaining men heard Rhonda mention getting drinks for everyone.

“Rafe, call Ellison.  Let’s make sure that the other dynamic duo is still in one piece.”  Bank said.




Jenny’s truck on the way to Rainier


“Well that’s the last of them,” Blair said as he brushed his hands together.  “All tucked in safe and sound safe at home.  So Jenny,” Blair asked with a sideways glance.  “What’s the story with Mike’s dad?  I thought he was a businessman.”


“Umm...”  Jenny responded noncommittally.


“Jenny, you know that you can trust us,” Jim stated firmly.


“Jim,” Jenny replied forcefully.  “I do trust you.  Both of you,” she said as she turned and included Blair in her earnest gaze.  “But, I really don’t ‘know’ anything and it’s not my story to tell.”  Jen sighed.  “What I can say is that he is the most danger-prone businessman I’ve ever seen.  I would guess that he’s a spy from the code words that Mikey has for me, but it’s a guess.  And I have no clue what part of the alphabet soup he works for.  Really guys, you need to ask Mike your questions.”


Their conversation was interrupted by the ringing of Blair’s cell phone.  Jenny sighed in relief.  Saved by the bell.




6th Floor Conference Room


“…you’re kidding?   No, no.  I didn’t say that I don’t believe you.  I can see that.  I mean you wouldn’t want the poor dog to get too tired… then Jackson would have to kill you.  I understand.  Okay… okay… See you in a bit.  Hey, keep your head down Hairboy.”  Rafe chuckled at the reply and hung up the phone.  “Ellison and Sandburg are on their way back to the station.  They've followed Jen’s employees home.  Now they’re going to swing by and pick up El before they come back to the station.  They also said that they would pick up lunch.”


“Hey, Jackson,” Rafe asked as the Sentinel walked back into the room.  “What does Boo like to eat?  Is Wonderburger okay?” he said with a laugh.




“They couldn’t figure out how to leave Boo behind.  He managed to get out every time they thought they had him contained.  The last time, he followed the truck and Jenny got worried Boo was going to tire himself out, so they stopped and picked him up.”




The Ellisons and Sandburgs walked into the conference room loaded down with bags of food and drinks.  They were closely followed by one real, four footed furry shadow.


Mike jumped up and pulled the bags out of Jenny’s hands. She dropped them on the table and then pushed Jen into a chair, hovering nervously over her.  “You aren’t supposed to carry anything heavy, Jenny.  When was the last time you had your feet up?  Have you had a nap lately?  Are you drinking your milk?  What about…”


Jenny reached up and put her hand over Mike’s mouth to stop the flow of words.  “Mikey, calm down.  I’m… we’re fine,” she amended patting her tummy.  “Carrying a couple of food sacks isn’t going to hurt the baby. Besides all they let me carry was the bread and chips. Geesh, you’re as bad as Jim.  Calm down, sit down, eat, and then tell me what’s going on.”


Mike stared down a bit anxiously at Jenny until Jim moved up beside his wife's chair.


"Back off, Jackson," he growled putting himself between the other Sentinel and Jen.


Jackson bristled and would have replied, but Megan grabbed her arm and hauled Mike back to the other side of the room. "I don't know what's gotten into you two," the Aussie grumbled, "but we don't need this show of Sentinel breast-beating right now."


Jim and Mike looked slightly embarrassed while Blair frowned thoughtfully at his Sentinel's wife.


"Are we ready to get down to business here, people?" Simon interrupted. "We do have other crimes to solve."




Thirty minutes later


 “I still think that she should go down to the ladies lounge on three and lay down for a while.” Mike said mulishly.


“Hey gang, I brought brownies,” Megan said, trying to divert both Sentinels’ attention from Jenny.


“She should stay here and put her feet up before her ankles start to swell,” Jim said, using his 'I can take care of my wife, so back off' glare.


“Cookies, too,” Megan added.  “From that bakery down the street that everyone loves so much.”


“Yummy, I love their cookies,” Blair said as he grabbed the box and wafted the cookies under Jim’s nose.


By this point the two Sentinels' hovering was beginning to get on everyone's nerves. Henri threw his hands up. "If I'm ever this bad when Lisa is pregnant," he said to the room in general, "you have permission to shoot me in the foot to shut me up."


Jenny laughed out loud as she sent a grateful look at H.


“Hey guys,” El said, hoping to diffuse the tension as she dropped the remainder of her lunch in the trash and wandered over to grab a cookie from the box.  “I have a class coming up soon.  Can I go or do I need to get someone to sub for me?  I can take a cab or,” she smiled and gave in gracefully, “I can have one of those nice uniformed officers run me to the U.


The Major Crime Unit looked around the room at each other and then everyone focused in on Mike. 


She met their questioning looks with a frown.  “She should be okay, but I would really feel better if you would let us put someone on you.”


El wiggled her eyebrows suggestively and smirked, “But how ever will you explain that to Blair.”


There was silence for a moment and then the room filled with the sounds of snorts and snickers.


Sandburg reached over and with a moved learned from his partner, whapped his wife on the back of her head.  “Hey, watch it you,” he threatened menacingly.


El pretended to cower in terror.  “Police brutality.  Someone, please, help me.”  She looked around the room and saw that they had managed to lesson the tension in everyone, well, everyone but Mike.  “Hey Mike, didn’t your Momma ever tell you that your face would freeze like that one day?”


Mike looked at El for a moment with her head cocked and then in a somber voice said, “No, she didn’t live long enough to say much of anything that I would remember.”  Mike got up and threw her trash away.


Oh, hell.  The two Sandburgs looked at each other and then moved closer to flank Jackson.  “I’m sorry, Mike, I didn’t know,” El said as she squeezed the Sentinel’s shoulder.


“Don’t worry about it,” Mike said with a shrug.  “It was a long time ago.  So… my face will freeze like that?” she asked trying to help dispel the returning tension.


“Yup,” El said with a smile as she squeezed Mike’s shoulder again.  “Just ask anyone and they’ll agree.”


Mike grunted and said “Where are those cookies?”  She patted El’s hand and turned toward Captain Banks. “Sir, about that protection.”


Banks sighed. “It will have to be unofficial.  We don’t have enough to go on to warrant police protection.”


“Blair,” Mike offered tentatively, “I’m sure that you would like to handle El’s protection yourself, but I know someone who may be able to do it.  He doesn’t scream ‘cop’ either.  Would you like me to call him?”


Sandburg and Ellison exchanged glances and then both nodded.  “Thanks, Mike, I’d appreciate it,” Blair said.


Mike smiled and picked up the phone.  She pushed the speakerphone button with a smirk directed at Ellison.  “Might as well let everyone else hear what’s going on.”


Ellison snorted while everyone else just laughed.


The phone was answered by a young female oriental sounding voice “Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar, may I help you?”


Moshimoshi, it’s Mike Jackson.  Is Riki there?”


“Maki!  I’ve missed you.  Come visit soon, please.  Riki is here.  Hang on and let me get him for you.”


“Thanks, Kiko.  I’ll come soon.  I promise,” the Sentinel vowed.


After a few moments of soothing oriental music the phone was picked up by a male oriental sounding voice “Hello?”


Riki, it’s Mike, how are you doing?”


“I’m fine, Maki, my life is yours.  What can I do for you,” replied the earnest sounding Riki.


Jackson blushed at the devotion coming in waves over the phone line.  Riki, what's your afternoon like today?”


“I’m free all afternoon and the night too,” Riki’s heart rate spiked, showing the lie.  “How can I help you?”


Riki, we’ve talked about this,” the Sentinel sighed.  “Your life is your own.  When are you really free?”


“It wasn’t anything important, Maki… she will understand,” Riki stuttered.


Riki,” Mike repeated gently, “when are you really free?”


“Until about four thirty then I have dinner shift at the restaurant and a date after my shift,” he finished in a mumble.


“That’s great, Riki.  Do I know her?”


“She is the sister of one of Kiko’s friends.  She wouldn’t mind, Maki.  I know that she wouldn’t.”


“Don’t worry about it.  I just need help this afternoon.  Can you get over to Rainier and sit in a couple of classes?  Professor Elise Sandburg is teaching an English Lit class in about an hour.  Just sit in the class and keep your eyes and ears open.  She’s a good friend of mine and I’m a bit worried that someone might be targeting my family and closest friends.  I thought of you because you don’t look like a cop.”


“Maki,” Riki sputtered.


“Get over it, Riki, you’ll never look like a cop.  It’s not a bad thing.  It’s just a fact of life.  Use it to your advantage.”


“Maki,” Riki’s subdued voice came across the line.  “It would be my pleasure to watch over your Professor friend.  I will be at Rainier in twenty minutes.”


Riki, she has two more classes after the English Lit one.  If you will take her back to the restaurant with you, I’ll bring the rest of the gang for dinner and maybe Grandfather Nakamura will get off my case.”


Riki snorted. “That will be the day.”


“Hey, I can hope can’t I?”  Mike asked plaintively.


“Sure Maki… there is always hope.”


Argh, go on you.  I’ll deal with you later… and Riki… thanks.  This means a lot to me.”


“It’s the least that I can do, Maki.  See you tonight.”  Right before the phone was disconnected Riki’s voice could be heard in the background, “Hey everyone, guess who’s coming for dinner tonight…”


Mike grimaced and hung up the phone then buried her face in her hands.  Great.  I hope they leave something for the paying customers to eat tonight.  “So,” Mike said calmly, “how about Japanese for dinner tonight?”


“Sounds good to me,” Blair said as he gave El a hug.


“I could eat,” H agreed, grabbing for another cookie.


“Not now, for dinner,” Rafe teased as he poked his larger partner in his ample stomach.


El looked at her watch and piped in before the teasing got out of hand, “So, can I go now?”


Blair gave El a hug and a kiss, “Be careful, babe.  I love you.”


El returned the favor and then walked out of the conference room.  Wonder what the scoop is on Riki?  I’ll have to see what I can find out.  She smirked and then went down to the front desk to find a nice officer who would be willing to give her a ride to Rainier.


“So, Maki, what’s the scoop with super big crush boy?”  H asked.


“Yes, tell us more,” Jim agreed.  “He doesn’t sound old enough to be going to college.  High School maybe.”


“He’s old enough,” Mike countered.  Riki and his family are first generation immigrants.  They run the restaurant that we’re going to eat at tonight. 


Riki and his best friend, Jon Hank decided that they wanted to become police officers.  They went through the Houston police academy together, got assigned to the same shift and precinct.  It seemed like fate when they were partnered with training officers who used to be partners and worked the same beat.  They were both having the time of their lives running into each other while they were working and sharing an apartment when they weren’t.  Hank had a girlfriend and Riki was looking…when,” the Sentinel stopped and sighed.


She ran her hands down her braid and continued mechanically, “Jack and I got the officer down call just as we were logging out for the day.  It should have taken about five to ten minutes to get to their location except it was rush hour.  The freeway was gridlocked so we took surface streets.  By the time we got there the situation was pretty ugly with our guys trapped with only partial cover.  SWAT was stuck on the freeway behind a ten car pile up and the next closest unit was still ten to fifteen minutes away.”


Mike’s voice made the story sound just like a routine call but the tension in her body gave the others a hint of her true emotions.  “By the time we were able to get into position we could tell by the.…” Mike trailed off as she looked up into Jen’s worried eyes.  I forgot that you were still here.  The Sentinel got up and started prowling around the room rubbing her arms.  “We took down all the perps, but the two older cops didn’t make it.  Hank had taken one through the knee and will never be able to walk normally again much less run after bad guys. 


Riki had one bullet through his left shoulder that nicked his lung and one through his right hand that shattered several bones in that hand.  He regained most of the use of his hand,” Mike’s voice faltered for a moment before regaining its former strength.  “The docs told him if he fired a gun on a consistent basis again he would probably lose the use of his hand.


While Riki was recovering, his family was being threatened by one of the gangs in Houston and I knew of a place for sale here, so they all ended up moving to Cascade,” the Sentinel concluded.


“His family was being threatened and it just so happened that you knew of a place half way across the U.S. that was for sale?” Blair said with disbelief.


“Pretty much,” Mike agreed, shrugging her shoulders.


“I think that there is more to this story than you are telling us, Detective Jackson,” Banks said sternly.


Mike shrugged again and started to dodge when they were interrupted by the ringing of the phone. Saved by the bell. 


Rhonda picked it up. “Major Crime, may I help you.  Uh huh… okay… just a moment please.”  She placed the caller on hold and turned toward Jackson and Connor, “I have Detective Armand from Boston PD on the line for you regarding the Nelson case.”


Connor patted Jackson on the back.  “This may take a while.  You stay here and finish your cookie.  I’ll talk to Boston.  Thanks, Rhonda.”  Megan started to head out of the room.  She then stopped and turned back around and glared at her Sentinel, “Play nice.”


The rest of the group chuckled as Mike glared back and put her hands on her hips, “I always do.”


Megan snorted and left the room heading for her desk and the file on the Nelson case.


Back in the conference room, H smirked at Jackson and said “Would you like some milk with that cookie, Mikey?”


“Yes,” Mike deadpanned.  “Going to go milk a cow for me?”


The rest of the team started laughing as Rafe patted his partner on the back.




Ten Minutes later


There was a knock on the conference room door.  Blair’s chair was the closest to the door so he hopped up and opened the door. 


The communications officer poked his head inside and spying Captain Banks said, “Here you go, sir.  This is a copy of the phone call that you requested.  If you could just sign here.”  He held out a clipboard.


Sandburg signed the appropriate line and took the tape.  “Thanks John,” Blair said as he patted the young officer on the back then closed the door.  He walked over and put the tape into the machine and started to cue it up to the phone call.


“Okay, you both know the drill,” the Guide said, looking at both Sentinels.  “Let’s see if either of you can find something from the tape.”


The two Sentinels listened intently to the tape trying to find out who was behind the latest threat.


Mike’s brow furrowed as she tried to glare the tape into submission.  Che, it sounded like he said Ford.  That name stirred up all kinds of bad memories for Mike. The memories on top of the stress of the day caused the junior Sentinel to lose focus and zone.


“What the hell?  Mike?  Hey, Mike,” Blair quickly looked around the conference room and seeing only Sentinel friendly faces said, “Brian, guard the door please.  Rhonda, see if you can get Megan off her phone call.  Jim, what did you hear man?  That guy Reece said that nobody else was there, right?  What caused the zone?”


Jim leaned back in his chair and rubbed his face.  He glanced around at the worried faces looking his direction.  “I didn’t hear anyone in the room but the perp until the other guys showed up.  I wasn’t paying attention to Jackson, but the last thing the guy on the phone said sounded like the name ‘Ford’.”


“Umm, Blair, can you zone on a memory?” Jenny asked quietly.


“What?” Blair turned around to look at his partner’s wife.


“Ford’s the name of the guy Mike and Manny were investigating when Manny was killed.”


Shit.  Blair hoped that Megan would get back fast.  Meanwhile, he would see what another Guide could do to help.  “Hey, Mike,” Blair said using his Guide voice.  “I know that I’m not Megan, but I need you to try to listen to me.”  He pulled her chair back away from the table a bit making room for him to sit on edge of the table.


Everyone was startled when Jackson tried to stand up and yelled, “Connor.”  Mike whipped her head back and forth around the room looking for her Guide.  Mike swayed badly and Blair pushed her back into her chair.  The Sentinel tried to get up again but she was shaking so badly that Blair was able to keep her in the chair.  “Connor,” Mike yelled again, panic-stricken.  She was feebly pushing against Sandburg’s hands, determined to get up and look for her Guide.


Jackson, calm down and talk to me,” Blair said using his ‘I’m going to kick your ass if you don’t listen to me’ Guide voice.


“Megan,” Jackson pleaded then jumped as Bushido moved out from under the table and nuzzled her knee as he whined in distress.  “Bushido,” Mike cried as she slid bonelessly out of her chair and on to the floor.  “Boo aritsuku Megan!  Kabau!”


The Shepherd barked once and headed for the door.  Rafe looked at Banks then glanced at Sandburg and Ellison.  He shrugged and opened the door for the dog.  Now I can add dog butler to my resume.  What’s going on with Jackson?


“Jim, can you tell if Connor is still at her desk?” Blair asked with a frown as he bent over to check on Mike.  Damn, she’s zoning badly.


Ellison listened to sounds from the bullpen before nodding. “Yeah, Connor’s there.  She just finished up her phone call and Rhonda’s briefing her.  Sounds like Boo just found her.  Umm, Rafe you may want to open the… door.”  Ellison’s warning tapered off as the door to the conference room was opened with enough force to knock Rafe off balance.


“Thanks for the warning,” Rafe muttered and he started to close the door after Rhonda entered the room.  He stopped at the sound of a woof and rolled his eyes.  “Sure, why don’t you come in, too,” he grumbled at the dog.  The detective took a quick look up and down the hall before finally closing the door.


Connor quickly looked around and hurried to her Sentinel’s side.  “What the hell?  Shellie?  Shellie, are you okay?”  Megan said as she knelt down beside her partner and started to rub Mike’s back.


As quiet concern started to give way to a hint of panic in the room, Blair stood up and barked, “Okay, everyone but Megan out.  Mike’s in a bad zone and we need to reduce the amount of distractions in the room to help her out.”


Jenny, Rafe and H were the closest to the door and so they left first.  H gently guided Jenny towards Banks’ office. “Hey Jen, you can lie down on Simon’s couch for a while and put your feet up.  It might get Jim and Mike off your case for a while.”


“Yeah,” Rafe agreed, “and how about a bowl of soup and mug of that nice peppermint tea that you like?  I know Brett keeps plenty in stock down in cafeteria since he heard how much you liked it.


Jenny sighed. “Sure stuff me like a pig and watch me start to waddle.  We just finished lunch, but the tea...” The rest of their conversation faded out as the three walked out of ‘normal’ hearing range.


Simon, Joel and Rhonda had collected their files and were heading out the door when Mike finally fought her way out of the zone and back to her Guide.


“Jenny?" Mike latched on to Megan with a death grip as she quickly looked around the room but didn’t see her sister. She struggled to sit up. "Where’s Jenny?”


“It’s okay, Mike,” Blair soothed.  "We just started clearing the room to limit the input to your senses.  Jen is with Rafe and H. They took her to lie down on Simon’s couch.


 Jackson sat up straighter and started to frisk her Guide looking for injuries, “Megs, are you okay?" she asked frantically. "Are you hurt any where?”  Mike turned to Ellison, her movements jerky and uncertain. “She seems okay to me… does she seem okay to you?  She smells okay to me.  Does she smell okay to you?  I don’t smell any explosives on her.  Do you?”


“Shellie, calm down.  I’m just fine.” Connor patted Jackson's shoulder reassuringly.  “Explosives?”  Megan looked around and saw that the rest of the gang seemed just as confused as she was.


Mike tried to pull herself to her feet.  Connor started to hold her down at first but seeing Jackson’s determination, she changed her mind and helped her partner into a chair.


Jackson swayed a bit in her chair and made a grab for the phone as she turned toward the ex-bomb squad Captain. “Captain, how often do they sweep the precinct for bombs?”


Joel’s eyes widened. I don’t think I’m going to like where this is going.  “They let the new kids practice once a month.  That’s it, unless there has been a specific threat then the whole team does a sweep,” Joel responded with more calm than he felt.  “Do we have a threat?”


“When was the last sweep?” Jackson asked.


Joel glanced at the calendar. “Three weeks ago.”


“There’s a possible threat,” Jackson said grimly. She pushed the speakerphone button and started dialing the phone.  “Captain Banks, do you have a quick way of contacting your off duty personnel and warning them?”


“Yes. What do I need to tell them?” Banks asked with concern.


“To watch out for bombs on their loved ones,” Jackson's response tapered off as the phone was answered. 


Oh God, Daryl.  “Rhonda, grab the list,” Simon said with concern.  “We have plenty of phones in here and I think we may want this contained for a while.”


“Starnes,” Jack growled into the phone.


“Jack, it’s Mike… it was Ford.”


Damnit to hell!  Susan, get in here!” Starnes bellowed.  They heard the sound of a door opening and a women’s voice in the background.


"Yes, Captain?"


“Start a level one search and get a call tree started for the Task Force.  Tell everyone that Ford is a threat.”


“Oh God, not again,” said the woman’s voice.


“Jack, tell her to warn them that Ford’s M.O. has changed.  He went after Dad but I’m not anywhere near Houston.”


“Hell, that’s just what we need.  Are you okay, Mike?”  Jack asked.


“I will be, Jack.  Be careful.  Please. Be really, really careful,” Mike begged.


 “I will. You be careful too,” Jack cautioned as he hung up.


Jackson disconnected the speakerphone button. “Ford likes to blow things up,” she told the group with a sigh.  She rubbed her hands over her face. “He really likes to blow things up with bombs attached to people.  Call your families.  In the past I’d have said they were safe if they were out of town, but now I just don’t know.”


She pushed the speakerphone button again and punched in a series of numbers.  She waited for a dial tone and then punched in another series of numbers.  She disconnected from that call and then immediately started dialing another number. 




“Hey, Riki, it's Mike.  Do you remember Ford?”


A stream of Japanese curse words could be heard over the line.  “Maki,” Riki said with an audible swallow.  “How’s your partner?”


Mike looked up at her Guide. “She’s standing right here beside me and she’s not going anywhere anytime soon,” the Sentinel growled out the promise.


“Thanks for giving me the heads up," Riki replied firmly. "I need to go, the prof’s getting ready to start class again.  We’ll meet up and compare notes tonight at the restaurant.”


Riki, I’m not so sure that’s a good idea any more,” Mike said hesitantly.


“Sure it is Maki.  A very wise person once told me, ‘that sometimes it doesn’t appear that life has true meaning and it can get hard when bad things happen and seem to overwhelm you.  But life happens whether you’re looking or not, so go in with your eyes open wide and find the opportunities available.’”


Riki, this isn’t the same thing.  Damn it, this is your family,” Mike insisted hotly.


“My family came to America to search for our future.  It is the same.  I’ll see you tonight,” he said and then hung up the phone.


Argh,” Mike muttered as she pulled on her braid.  “It’s not the same thing at all.”  She disconnected from that phone call and dialed another.




“Collins, it’s Jackson.  Get me John.”


Jackson,” Collins said with a quiver in his voice.  “John’s busy right now.  Can he get back to you?”


“Collins,” the Sentinel growled, “I’m coming to Houston in a couple of weeks…tell John I’m waiting.”


“Shit, I don’t get paid enough for this crap,” was faintly heard as the handset was dropped onto a hard surface and the speaker moved away from the phone.


Moments later John answered the phone, “Jackson, go away and let me do my job.  I’ll call…”


Mike interrupted him quietly, “Steffen Ford.”


“SON OF A BITCH!” the agent swore.  “Collins, get Reece in here now.  Jackson… Mike, are you sure?”


“Ask ‘phone man’ to verify it if you need to.  I’m sure enough for me.  I’ve already talked to Jack and we’re starting procedures here to deal with any local problems.”


“Damn, Mike, are you and your partner okay?” John asked, his voice dripping with sympathy.


“John,” Mike said with a deep sigh. “My partner is fine.  I’m not sure what I am right now.  Can you find out why he’s so stirred up after all this time?”


“What?  Did you lose all your local contacts when you moved?” John asked, surprised.


“They’re still there, John.  Never fear,” the Sentinel replied. “It just so happens that many of them can only be contacted in person.  So… what do you say?  Will you send someone on an exploratory mission?”


“How did you get Ford’s name?”


“John, you know me better than that.  Have I ever given up an informant?”


“No,” the older man sighed, “not even when it was in your best interest.  Okay, I'll see what I can find out.  We’ll call it the spirit of cooperation.”


“Umm, yeah, well… I guess in that same spirit I should tell you that I’m going to be heading back to Houston in a couple of weeks.” Jackson said, all but digging the toe of her boot in the carpet.


“Good Lord, warn the governor… someone call the marines.  No, better yet, I’ll have two full teams upgraded to high alert status,” John said, only half joking.  “Send me the details and I’ll make sure everything is handled.”


“Uncle John” Mike whined, “I’m not that bad.”


“Sure, honey.  Remember Laos?”


“That wasn’t my fault.”


“What about Saigon?”


“I was ten,” the Sentinel fumed.


“What about...”


“Okay.  Okay, I get your point,” Mike rubbed her brow.  “One team and they handle all the paperwork.”


“Two teams and you do the paperwork,” John bargained back.


“Two teams is a waste of manpower.”


“Remember Jiddah?”


“I can’t believe you brought that up.  That was so not my fault.  And anyway the Sheik wanted to adopt me after that,” Mike stated in her defense.  “John, I’m going to be traveling with most of the Major Crime Unit. How about one team and we split the paperwork?”


“Done, but I’m going to have the second team on standby.”


 “It’s your budget.  And you wonder why I didn’t date in high school,” she muttered.  “I’ll send you the details later today.  Let me know what you find out.”


“Keep your head down,” John said as he hung up.


“Good Lord, Jackson,” Banks said with astonishment, “it sounds like you’re as bad as Ellison and Sandburg are.  I'd like to hear some of those stories.”


“Umm,” Mike responded noncommittally.  “Shouldn’t we get started on those phone calls?”


Rafe and Brown walked into the conference room.


“Where the hell is Jenny?” the junior Sentinel jumped up and stormed toward the two men.


“Whoa, chill Jackson,” H said, holding his hands up to show the steamed Sentinel that he was unarmed.  “She’s taking a nap on Simon’s couch. Percy Brett is keeping an eye on her.  Rhonda told us the news so we came back to help make phone calls.”


“Oh, okay," Mike stuttered.  "Um, I’m sure that would help.” She rubbed at her forehead and tried to ignore the migraine developing there.


Megan got up and headed toward the door.


Mike reached out and grabbed her Guide.  “Where the hell do you think you’re going?” she growled.


“Shellie, calm down," Megan said, shaking off the Sentinel's hands. "I’m just going to the loo.”


“Not alone you’re not,” Jackson dictated.


“I’ve been going to the bathroom all by myself for a long time now.  I don’t need any help,” Megan insisted firmly.


In one quick move, Mike pulled out her handcuffs and cuffed Megan’s right hand to her own left.  “You’re not going anywhere without me for the foreseeable future,” the Sentinel promised.  “So you better get used to it.”


“Unlock this,” Connor fumed.


“You are NOT going anywhere without me.”


“Mike this is insane.  I don’t need a babysitter,” Connor said trying to reason with her partner.


“Fuck that!” the female Sentinel ranted.  “That’s what Manny said shortly before he was captured and…” Jackson trailed off as her hearing suddenly spiked. The heart beats of her team sounded like thunder.  The coffee machine gurgled like an obscene water torture device.  The sounds grew louder… overwhelming… Mike's hands flew up in a weak attempt to protect herself.


“Shit!  Shellie, come on don’t do this,” Megan begged.  She looked around the room, “Blair can you get these stupid cuffs off?"


“Sure Megan, we’ll have you free in no time,” Blair said softly.  “Man, whatever it was must’ve been pretty bad.”


Connor eased her partner down onto the floor and started gently chaffing Mike’s wrists all the while talking softly about anything she could think of.  “Come on, Mike.  Slowly lower the dial. You’re safe here. I'm safe too,” she added since that seemed to be one of the things currently freaking out her partner.


Jim pulled his handcuff keys out of his pocket and started trying them one at a time.  "I'll have you free in no time, Connor."




"So," Rhonda stated with a sigh, "we've gotten in touch with everyone, but Joel's sister and Will Ellison."


Jim growled in frustration. "Steven and I have tried every where we can think of and left messages at each place.  He should call back soon."


Blair gave Jim a reassuring squeeze on the shoulder. 


Joel walked back into the conference room.  "I just got off the phone with my brother-in-law.  He's going to pick up my sister and they are going to their cabin for the week.  He's a former marine.  She'll be okay.  Safe," Joel stated firmly, willing the spoken words to be real. Please, God, keep our families safe.


Megan looked over at her partner.  "Still with us?" she whispered.


Mike turned her head and sadly smiled at Connor.


"It's not your fault, ya know mate," Connor stated.


Mike snorted in disbelief.


"Have you threatened to cause harm to any of our family members?  Did you hire anyone to do so?  No!  So it's not your fault," Megan said forcefully.  "I've watched Ellison do this whole guilt trip thing for years and I'm not putting up with it from you.  Is this some sort of genetic Sentinel thing?  Whatever it is, it's stopping now.  Do you hear me?" she demanded.


"I think everyone on this floor hears you, Megs," Mike said with a slight grin.  She rolled her shoulders and tried to release some of the tension she was carrying.  "I know it's not my fault, but… I just feel like… we should have been able to take him down last time," she trailed off in disgust.


"What happened?" Simon asked.


“Jack and I were supposed to go undercover to flush Ford and the rest of his ilk out.  Jack was up for promotion to captain and one of the other lieutenants who was also up for promotion got pissy about Jack's lack of status compared to his 'royal' self," Mike said, rolling her eyes.  "The now former lieutenant leaked a story about a scandal and cover up.  It was a big mess.  Jack's picture got plastered all over the news, so he couldn't go undercover anymore.  On the plus side, after everything was worked out, Jack got the promotion."


"So, is he former, as in no longer living, or just no longer a cop?" H whispered to Brian.


Mike smirked, ignoring the whispered question.  "So anyway, the brass decided that the best course of action was to team me up with Jack's complete opposite.  And boy, was he.  Manny is… um, was, older than me by a few years, but he was so fresh out of the academy … and had so little life experience that he was still shiny."


"Shiny?" Blair asked.


"Like you were before you met me," Jim stated sorrowfully.


"Jim," Blair exclaimed with dismay.  "We've talked about this before.  That is so not true."


"Shiny isn't the word you're looking for, Jim," H said trying to diffuse the tension.  "Maybe bright.  Man, those vests, Hairboy."


"Not bright," Brian jumped into the fray.  "Bouncy," he stated.


"How about intense?"  Rhonda offered.


"Effervescent," Joel smiled.


"Ahem," Simon cleared his throat.  "Let's get back to Jackson's story.  The love fest can continue later.


"See, Jim.  I told you he loved me."  Blair smirked.


Jim whapped his partner on the back of the head. "Go ahead, Jackson.  We all know what you're trying to say.


Mike sighed.  “The guy had never been in any danger before… like I said, no real life experiences… he’d never even been kidnapped before," she said with shocked disbelief.  "He was older than I was.”


“So, Mike, just how many time have you been kidnapped?” Simon asked.


“Umm, do you mean since I became a cop?” Mike replied distractedly, still worried about Jim's dad, and the three friends that she hadn't been able to get in touch with.


“Since you were a cop…” Simon sputtered.  “Does that mean you were kidnapped before you were a cop?”

Mike looked at her watch and answered offhandedly, “Well, yeah, but it was much easier on Dad after I got my badge.  I don’t think he feels as guilty now because it’s mostly my job that gets me kidnapped and not his.”


“Good Lord, Jackson.  How many times have you been kidnapped?” Banks asked again.


Mike looked at him and her face scrunched thoughtfully.  “I’m not sure,” she said as she bit her lip.  “I stopped counting when I was about eleven or twelve.  By that time I could mostly get away on my own, so it shouldn’t count.  Right?” she asked.


“Wrong,” Ellison growled.


“Jesus,” Rafe muttered in shock, “no wonder she knows all that martial arts stuff.”


“How old were you the first time?” Blair questioned gently.


Mike shrugged her shoulders and got up to prowl around the room glancing at her watch every now and then.  “I was three the first time I remember being kidnapped.”


“Three,” the shocked gasp escaped from several of the cops.


“The first time that you remember,” Blair muttered wide-eyed.


“Umm,” she agreed absently.  “I don’t remember much about it.  It was kinda boring, they didn’t have regular TV, only video tapes and I was hooked on Sesame Street big time back then.”  Mike shrugged again.  “I think the guys were really glad to get rid of me.  They got tired of me complaining about their viewing options.  They told the guys who rescued me that they were tired of explaining to a bratty kid why they wanted to watch a show with lots of naked women.”


Megan walked over to her Sentinel and squeezed her arm in support.


Mike smiled up at her.  “I thought that Dad was going to kill those guys after he had to give me ‘the birds and bees’ talk at age three.  Anyway,” she glanced at her watch again, “I started taking Jujutsu lessons shortly after that.  When we moved to Okinawa I switched over to Karate, which is really just a slightly different form of Jujutsu.  I took Taekwondo when we moved to Korea.  It’s basically Korean Karate.  So even though they are three different types of martial arts, there is enough similarity to have a lot of overlap.  Besides it helped me blend better at the new place.  Well," she rolled her eyes "blend in as well as someone who obviously didn't belong, could.  I kinda stood out a bit."


"Just a bit," Blair commiserated, remembering similar situations.  "Wrong color, shape, hair, and accent."


Jim reached over and squeezed the back of Blair's neck reassuringly. 


"Must've been tough," Joel said.


Mike and Blair both shrugged their shoulders.


"Ancient history," Mike said. "Anyway, we were talking about Manny before we went down the last bunny trail."


Megan reached out and placed a comforting hand on Mike's shoulder.  "Take your time, Shellie."


"It was fucked almost from the beginning," she said, startling the team with her harsh tone.  "We had just gotten our covers set up and started to get a feel for the players, and…" Mike bit her lip, shot a glance at her partner and then dropped her bombshell.  "I think Manny may have been a Guide.”


"What?" Megan trailed off startled.


Mike grabbed her partner's wrist and rubbed her thumb over the pulse point.  "He… he sorta felt a bit like you and Blair."  She shrugged.  "I… I, just thought… full disclosure, you know," she trailed off.


Megan took a deep breath and tried to think of something to say.


"Okay," Blair said with a soothing pat to his partner's arm and a reassuring smile for Mike and Megan, "that was unexpected.  Let's table that part for now and go on with the rest of the story."


"Right, um," Mike floundered.


"Hey, Shellie, we're fine," Megan said.


"Okay," Mike blew out a breath and started again.  "We'd been under for about six months.  It's…"

"Intense," Jim suggested softly.


Mike nodded in agreement.  "Life gets distorted when you're under sometimes.  The nonstop adrenaline, never being able to tell the truth, so you have to keep the lies straight….  Manny was doing great.  We were close.  I know we were," she stated emphatically.  "We had to have been.  Because that's the only thing that makes sense with what happened next…" Mike trailed off.


"What happened next," Joel asked.


Mike jumped up and started pacing around the table.  "We were set up.  I don't know if there was a leak or if someone saw me and recognized me… something happened… because suddenly Ford knew we were cops."  She stopped and leaned against the counter near the coffee pot trying to regain her composure. 


She continued in a monotone. "He got to Manny while I was meeting with our contact.  There was a note… it was written in Manny's blood.  There was a request to meet Ford at an old abandoned warehouse at midnight.  The usual bullshit about coming alone and threats to harm my partner.  I don't pull a 'Lone Ranger' unless I have to…."   Mike cleared her throat.  "We had the place surrounded and were getting ready to move in, but something didn't feel right.  He was chained to a column in the middle of the building with a bomb strapped to his chest.  As soon as we walked into the building, the bomb … it blew up." A single tear ran down her otherwise expressionless face.  "I woke up later in the hospital to find that Manny was dead and I was the front page story in the news.  I got better and shortly after that moved up here."


No one knew what to say or how to comfort Mike.


The phone rang causing everyone to jump.  Rhonda answered and then turned to Jim.  "It's your dad, Jim."


"Dad," Jim said into the phone.  "Where are you?"


"He's safe," Mike said to the group, then turned down her hearing a notch to give Jim some privacy.  One down, three more to go. I'll never get used to waiting.  She got out of her chair and started to wander around the room.  She took a couple of deep breaths trying to relax.  I need to chill or they're going to think I'm a basket case instead of a competent detective.


Megan approached Mike and gave her a reassuring smile and a bottle of water.


Mike rolled her eyes, "stop the melodrama, I want to get off."


"Mike," Blair laughed, "get your own show.  I've got dibs on the melodrama life one already."


Jim smirked at his partner as he finished the call with his dad.  "He's fine.  He has some business in Russia that he was just finishing up.  I suggested he stay for a few more days or until he heard from me.  He said he would," Jim finished in relief.


"Jim," Mike started.


"You have someone there you can call on to keep an eye on him?" Jim asked with a raised eyebrow.  "I thought you spent your youth in Japan?"


"Friends move," she said with a nonchalant shrug.  "Where is he exactly?  Never mind, let me write down the number he called from and make a couple of calls.  I think I can get him covered shortly," she said.  "Do you want him to know?"


"Yeah, he's changed a lot in the last few years.  He'll let us put guards on him.  If only to make sure that he's still around to see his grandson born," Jim added with a slight smile.


"Okay.  Let me make those calls."  Mike grabbed the phone and called a local number.




Mike hung up the phone.


“Hey, Mike,” Blair said “I didn’t know that you knew Russian, too.”


“I don’t,” Mike replied.


Jim’s head shot up.  Her heart rate didn’t change.  Damn, how’d she do that?  I’ll never be able to tell if she’s lying or not.


“Mike,” Blair said shocked, “I heard you on the phone.  I’m a bit familiar with Russian myself, you know.”


“Um hum,” Mike said, distractedly looking at her notes.  “I was speaking Russian.”


Jackson,” Jim growled, moving closer to tower over the seated Sentinel.  How do I know when you’re lying to me if I can’t read you?  How do I trust you around Jenny and Blair?  “You can’t have it both ways.  Either you know Russian or you don’t.”


“Ellison,” Jackson growled back, standing up ready to attack or defend.  “I already said that I didn’t know Russian.  Do you need your ears cleaned out?”


“Whoa, guys,” Blair said using his Guide voice and putting himself between the two Sentinels.  “Calm down both of you."


“I don’t know Russian," Mike insisted.  "Look, it takes years to know a language and its culture.  It usually involves living among the people for many years to understand all the nuances and idioms.  If you look at my records, I’ve never lived in Russia.”  Just other parts of the then Soviet Union.  “Up until a few years ago there was a little thing called the cold war, you may remember it?” Jackson asked snidely, looking the ex-Army ranger straight in the eyes.


“What reason would a guy who buys furniture and knickknacks have for being in any part of the Soviet Union especially with a kid?  None, right?  So, as I was saying.  I’ve never been to Russia and I don’t know the language.  We used to have all kinds of people visit us when we lived in Japan, including several Russian speakers.  So, I can speak a bit of the language, but I’ve been told that my accent is terrible.”


“So,” Captain Banks inquired softly, “if I asked you if you had ever lived in any part of the old Soviet Union your answer would be…”


“Sir,” Jackson went back to her chair and sat down.  “I would point you back to my records,” she said evasively.  “Shouldn’t we get back to the reason I made the call and if I was able to get some protection for Jim's Dad, instead of the language the call was conducted in?”


And that is all we are going to get on that topic.  “Very well Jackson, what were you able to arrange?”  Simon asked, shooting a glare at Ellison.  Drop it, she's doing you a favor.


Jim sighed.  "Sorry Jackson.  This has me…"


"Everyone," Blair added.


"Tense," Jim said.


Blair snorted in disbelief. "Tense?  Major understatement there."


Jim glared at his partner.  "If I may continue without the peanut gallery?"


"Moi?" Blair asked.


"Anyway,” Jim started, "I didn't mean to jump down your throat."


"Nope, Jim is more of a go for the jugular type of guy," Blair added under his breath.


Mike turned as Megan walked into the room.  "Do you think we'll ever get as bad as those two?"


Megan looked a bit confused at first then jumped in to support her partner.  "No worries, Mate.  No one can be as bad as those two."







Rhonda answered the phone and then turned to Jackson.  "Mike, it's Jack."


Mike pounced on the phone like a hungry cat.  "Jack, are you okay?  What's up?"


"I fine.  Ford didn't change his M.O.," Jack said.


"What?!?"  Mike hit the speaker button so everyone else could here the conversation.  "What do you mean he didn't change his M.O.?  I'm not in Houston."


"He thinks you are," Jack said. 


"What?  How?"


"Hold you're questions for a minute. It gets a bit confusing so hang with me and I'll try to explain.  About twenty minutes ago the front desk sent up a young woman who was trying to file a stalking/restraining order," Jack started.


"So Houston makes their captains handle stalker complaints," H asked. "Jack, babe, you need to move to Cascade.  Simon'll tell you.  We know how to treat our captains better."


"It's not something I would normally handle, but the front desk sergeant is an old-timer who'd still be on the streets except for a bullet in the knee he took about five years ago."


"Sergeant Timmons?" Mike asked.


"The one and the same," Jack said.  "He actually reads the memos and keeps up with current events, so when financial planner Michelle Jenkins walked in complaining about some crazy man with a tattoo of a shark riding a lightening bolt … he took one look at her and sent her right up to me.


"A financial planner!  You're kidding, right?  Wait a minute…Surfer Dude."  Mike sat up in her chair and cocked her head in confusion.  "Surfer Dude isn't a stalker."


"I think I missed something," Brian whispered.


"Me too," complained Jim and Megan.


"Imagine my surprise when your freaking stunt double walked in to my office complaining about the overall lack of intelligence of the Houston police force.  She ranted for a while about how weird everyone was acting around her until she saw a picture of you on my bookcase."


"Two Jacksons.  Wow!  That's unreal," H exclaimed.


"The bookkeeper," Mike said suddenly. "Ford thinks we found the bookkeeper."


"That's my best guess too, Mike," Jack said.  "We've got your 'twin' in protective custody for now.  I just wanted to let you know what we've found. I'm going to go try to find Surfer Dude and see if I can get him to verify anything.  He should remember me."


"He likes Mr. Zog's Sex Wax," Mike said.


Jim and Blair shared an amused look.


"The blue strawberry and the orange pineapple label," Mike specified.  "Get him a case of each and he'll be doing cartwheels to give you info.  Sammy's on 23rd should still have some."


"Thanks, Mike.  I'll call back as soon as I know more."  Jack hung up.




Later that evening at the Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar


"No lie," Jenny said emphatically.  "So there I am in the stairwell with papers all around me and I just wanted to stand there and drool.  I mean come on… those buns." 


Rhonda, El, Megan, and Mike joined Jenny in laughter.  The men in the group took one look at the ladies and decided they'd rather not know.


"Can I get you anything else?" Grandfather Nakamura asked.


"I'm stuffed," H said as he patted his tummy.


"You're stuffed," Rafe asked in amazement.  "I didn't think that was possible."


H growled at his partner while the rest of the people at the table started laughing.


Mike smiled at her coworkers and friends.  "Grandfather Nakamura, come sit down and relax with us for a while." Oh.  She straightened up in her chair with a sly smile.  That will work if anything will.  "Grandfather, have I told you how much Blair would love to hear your stories of Uxocchiman and Sendatsu?"


Blair perked up.  "Um, I don't think I have a chance of being able to pronounce that correctly, but I would love to hear more of your stories.  You can sit here," he started to shove Jim out of his chair, "Jim was just moving anyway."


"Hey, watch it, Chief."  Jim got up, stuck out his tongue at his partner and then ruffled Blair's hair for good measure.  "I'm going some place where I'm still wanted."  


Jim moved around the table and swooped down on Jenny.  She was still laughing as he scooped her out of her chair and sat down with her on his lap.


Jenny snuggled more comfortably in Jim’s lap as she purred, "I'll always want you, baby."


That started another round of table-wide laughter.  One Jim joined in, though the tips of his ears were a bit red.


Simon smiled at the antics of his team as they finally started to relax for the first time since Jackson got that phone call.


Ring.  Ring.


Everyone instantly went on alert and started patting pockets and digging through purses.


"It's mine," Mike stated.  She flipped open the phone. "Hello."


"Mike, it's me," Jack said. 


Mike looked at Connor and then did a quick check around the restaurant.


"It's over.  We caught Ford, well, actually the fire department gets credit with the arrest," Jack snorted.


"Huh? Wait, the fire department caught him."  Mike thought for a minute then started to laugh as she sagged back into her chair.  "Tell me he didn't.  He's lived in Houston for how long?  Was anyone hurt?"


"Nope, he's a bit wet, but I’m sure he'll dry out real nice before his day in court," Jack said slyly.  "It's over now, Mikey.  We have enough to put him away for a really, really long time."


Mike closed her eyes in relief.  "I don't know what to say."


"Say good night, Gracie." Jack said.


"Good night, Gracie." Mike responded.


Jack laughed.  "Oh, and Surfer Dude said to look him up next time you're in town.  He also said thanks for the sex wax."


Mike chuckled.  "Take care, Jack.  I'll talk to you in a couple of days."  Mike hung up her phone.  "It's over," she said in disbelief.


"The fire department caught him?" Blair asked.  "How'd that happen?"


"It's been raining," Mike said in explanation.


"Huh?" was the general response.  Except for Jenny.


"Tell me he didn't," Jenny gasped.


"He did," Mike said, shaking her head.  "You'd think people would learn.  I mean the city even went to the trouble to paint the foot markers on all of the underpasses."


"Um, confused here," Blair said with a wave of his hand.


"Every time it rains in Houston," Jenny started, "people get stupid.  Or, well, more stupid than usual."


"Okay…. Huh?"  H asked.


"Let me try to explain," Mike said.  "Houston has a problem with short term flooding.  It rains so hard that the storm drains get full and the rain backs up in low lying areas until the rain stops and the drains get it under control.  The freeway underpasses are a particular problem.  People who drive those roads day in and day out suddenly forget that if the stop light is only a couple of inches above the water line, the water is too deep for their cars to cross.  They actually have several people die every year.”


"He drove into a flooded underpass?" Joel asked in disbelief.


Mike nodded then snorted. "And so the fire department had to rescue him and they get credit for the arrest."


"That should go over well in prison.  Big bad criminal taken down by a bunch of firefighters and a little bit of water," Rafe smirked.


"Couldn't have happened to a better person," Jenny stated then grabbed her stomach.  "OH!"


"Hey!" Jim exclaimed.  "The baby kicked me."


"Already showing you who's boss."  H waggled his eyebrows and laughed.


The laughter was echoed around the table.


The end


Feedback is appreciated. Cheryl


p.s. Yes, Judy is working on part 18. Stay tuned.





Japanese Words in order of appearance


Kuwabarakuwabara – God; My God; Oh God


Shimatta – Damn it


Nahen mai keita – Where’s my cell phone


Che - Shit


Ojisan – Honorary Uncle


Doshita no - What happened; What’s wrong


Yoroshiku tanom – I have a favor to ask from you


Usankusai – Suspicious or something smells funny about this


Taiki – Alert; on alert


Kabau – To protect someone


Kouyuu – Friend; schoolmate


Kourei – Heartfelt thanks


Ritoru – Little


Tori – Bird


Moshimoshi – Hello (on the phone)


Obaasan – Grandmother; female senior citizen


Shokin kubi ni – Bounty; There is a reward on your neck


Kakusu – Hide; to conceal


Neko – Cat


Hai – Yes


Fumei – Unknown; uncertain


Gokurousama – I appreciate your effort; Thanks very much.


Yobimodosu – Call back; call home


Sayonara – Good bye


Ichi, ni, san, shi, go, roku, shichi, hachi, kyuu, juu – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10


Hana, dul, set, net, tasot, yasot, iigop, yodul, ahop, yul – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 in Korean


Muri shinai de – Take it easy


Aritsuku – To get (find)


Uxocchiman – watchman


Sendatsu - guide