Spenser and Caceda were standing outside the CID building when Chase approached.
“That’ll kill ya,” Chase chided, nodding toward the cigarette in Spenser’s hand.
“Fuck you,” Spenser responded, expressionless.
“Attaboy,” Chase grinned.
“Shoo, Caceda. He’s my date now.”
Caceda’s dark eyes twinkled. “I don’t mind being in the middle.”
Spenser’s face went through an Olympian range of disturbed.
“And he was doing so well,” Chase sighed.
The team for the op had assembled in the conference room. The board was covered in relevant reports and pictures. One of the dispatchers had been pulled to monitor the dedicated coms traffic. Wesley—a detective from night shift—and Hernandez had been chosen for standby, should anything go spectacularly wrong. Bill Boswell looked genuinely interested in whatever Tim was talking his ear off about. A mousy female lab technician Chase only knew as Sarah was repetitively stirring her coffee. Caceda, Spenser and Chase took their seats as Cagg flexed his fist around his stress ball.
“Nice outfit, Chase.” Hernandez’s statement opened the room to commentary.
“You shop the same place my daughter’s boyfriend does.”
“Do those pants stand on their own?”
“Spenser is a lucky man.”
Chase snapped his fingers loudly, crossing his ankles up on the table. “Bitches, I’m fabulous.”
Laughter filled the room.
“Alright!” Cagg bellowed impatiently. “Get your heads on straight.” He turned and checked the clock on the wall behind him. “Seven thirteen, everyone sync up.” Watches and phones were checked.
“We roll in thirty. I want everyone who needs to be on scene in place by eight twenty. Meeting is at nine with Jason Mink,” The Sergeant nodded to the picture on the board. “Five nine, two hundred twenty pounds, no priors. Chase and Spenser will secure minimum second degree felony amount of MDMA and take it to the lab for analysis. The club closes at four a.m.. Mink is known to leave consistently at five. We pick him up as he leaves the back exit. We have sixty three hours from then until the club is set to open again on Tuesday. We get our warrant first thing Monday. God willing, we’ll have time to work Mink before his lawyer wakes up.
“Stuart is the shift sergeant tonight. You clear through him first. If I have to hear from Lieutenant Howard that someone jumped the chain, I will be very unhappy. Any questions?” Cagg looked among the sea of faces. “Alright. Chase.”
Chase hopped to his feet and moved to the front of the room. “So, here’s the deal. Spenser and I are a happy couple,” he gave the junior detective a loving gaze. “My name from here on is Chip Cassidy.” Whistles and catcalls filled the room as Chase feigned bashfulness.
“Spenser is . . . ?” Spenser only stared at him in response. “How have you not thought of this? OK, everyone, Davey needs a name.”
“Alejandro Rubio!” Caceda hollered.
“Steffan Johanson!” Wesley offered.
“Pierre Laurence!” Boswell supplied.
“Tristan Paul!” The dispatcher suggested.
“Peter Johnson!” The mousy tech’s voice squeaked through the crowd and everyone fell silent. She looked around sheepishly and slid down in her chair.
Chase raised his eyebrow at her in a camp fashion. “Damn, girl. Remind me to take you drinking. I liked Tristan Paul.”
“When we get in and make contact, chances are we’ll end up in one of these two rooms.” Chase grabbed a marker and circled two back rooms on the building plans. “It may be too dark to see where we’re headed on video, so if it’s this one, I’ll mention the seating. If it’s this one I’ll comment on the floor.
“Story is it’s Tristan’s birthday next month,”
“What day?” Spenser interrupted.
“Lets make it the fifteenth. So, it’s Tristan’s birthday and being the caring, fun partner that I am, I’m throwing him a party and we want to make it interesting. We’re looking at around twenty-five ‘guests’, so we’ll be asking for around three grams. A good sum of cash is going to change hands. It’ll be marked and cataloged so we can get it back after the bust. Don’t forget to get Cagg his play money back or it’s all of our asses.” The Sergeant gripped the stress ball meaningfully.
“Wesley and Hernandez will be going in before us and setting up somewhere in the main club. Boswell will be on the street behind the building with Tim in the surveillance van. If something goes south and we need immediate aid, one of us will mention something about feeling sick. If I say I’m about to throw up, everyone rolls in. Got it?” There was a chorus of murmuring agreement.
“The minute Spenser and I leave this parking lot, we’ll be out of coms. We will have no contact until we’re back here. We’re relying on all of you to make sure we go home tonight.” He looked at each somber face in turn. “Questions? OK, lets do this.”
The room was in immediate motion and emptied in a matter of seconds, all but for Spenser, Chase and Cagg.
“Phones, wallets and keys. Empty your pockets.” The Sergeant watched the two of them unload their pockets on to the table. “Pick up your burn phone, ID, keys and the cash at the desk. And make sure you damn well sign for it. Spenser, go get wired.” Spenser turned to go, but Cagg grabbed his arm, holding his eyes for a moment. “Trust Chase’s instincts.” Spenser gave a hesitant nod and was off.
Chase stared at the Sergeant, now alone. He didn’t ruin the rare compliment with a witty remark, though he was sorely tempted.
“Get out,” Cagg grumbled.
“Aye, aye, Sarge.”
The equipment desk was less of a desk, more of a large slab of complete chaos. The overseer of said chaos was a quiet, older man who had become as much a fixture of the PD as the shelving around him. He had seen two police chiefs come and go and only barely seemed to notice, much less care. His job security was that no one else quite knew how to find anything.
“I hear you have toys for me?”
Frances “Curly” Hendricks looked up from his manifest, rubbing a patch of his namesake tight curls between his fingertips. He appraised Chase for a moment before sighing and collecting papers and items.
“One prepaid cell phone, with charger. One black nylon wallet, one brown faux leather wallet. Four one-hundred-dollar bills, one fifty-dollar bill, three twenty-dollar bills. Sign here. Initial here.”
Chase scribbled on the paperwork. “You still got that huge stack of business cards back there?”
Curly rummaged in the desk briefly before thumping a stack of rubber banded business cards on its surface.
The detective flipped through them for a moment, stuffing some into both wallets. “Thanks, Curly.”
The older man grunted.
Chase was taking time becoming familiar with the phone and wallet while he waited for the car. If these were supposed to be convincingly his, he would need intimate familiarity with them.
He had already changed the phone’s wallpaper and was working through the list of obnoxious ring tones when Kathy stepped into the front area.
“I could have used more notice.” She was shaking two freshly printed driver’s licenses and peered at one. “Mr. Cassidy.”
“I like to keep you on your toes.” The statement had left his mouth before Chase realized how Kathy would interpret it. Her nostrils flared and she flicked the ID’s onto the desk before returning in the direction she came from.
Chase’s relationship with Kathy Herring had never been friendly. Things didn’t improve with her involvement in the incident that led to Chase leaving patrol. She had been given an option; work the booking desk, or resign. It hadn’t been Chase’s call, but you don’t refuse to respond to an officer down in the ghetto and get to stay on patrol.
“Are you Chase?”
The detective pulled himself out of his thoughts and turned to see the impound clerk.
The dark, tall man grinned. “Ready to see your ride?”
“Hell, yes,” Chase skipped after the lanky man. “Is it the Miata? I bet it’s the Miata.”
The man gestured grandly as they stepped out the side door near the impound lot. “Tada!”
Chase’s face fell. “You’re fucking with me.”
The clerk rushed over to run his hands along the fender of the Ford minivan. “Oh-three Windstar! Only slightly musty from the family of raccoons that moved in to it. It comes care of whoever abandoned it in the woods. It even runs!”
Chase met the clerk’s grin with a scowl. “You are a bad man. Why do you hate me?”
Spenser had joined them, frowning at Chase’s side, thick framed glasses adorning his face. “We’re taking this? Isn’t there a mustang back there?”
“I’m tired of your complaining, Tristan.” Chase tossed the nylon wallet to the younger detective. “Your ID and seventy bucks is in there.”
Spenser flipped the wallet open, skimming its contents before frowning. “I’m not five eleven.”
Chase smirked. “An extra couple inches never hurt anyone.”
Chase barely got to enjoy the look on Spenser’s face before the impound clerk cut in. “That’s not what my wife said.”
They both turned to look at the clerk’s beaming smile before Chase leveled his attention back on his junior. “I like him. Can we keep him?”
Spenser sighed. “You’ll just forget to feed him, then he’ll be my responsibility.”
“Sorry, friendly black man.” Chase frowned. “Guess you’ll have to stay here.”
“That’s alright, strange white boy.” He tossed the keys at them. “Don’t ding it.”
“Why do you get to drive?” Spenser complained.
“Because. You remember what happened when we went to visit my mother last Christmas? We can’t rely on your good looks to get us home every time, Tristan.”
A gagging noise left the junior detective as they slid into the van. “What the hell is that smell?”
“Did they die?”
The engine turned over with a smooth purr and the detectives shared a look of begrudging approval.
“You ready to do this thing?” Chase asked.
“Let’s just get it over with so I can get home and cry in the shower until all the glitter and shame run down the drain.” Spenser focused in the distance through the windshield.
“Hey,” Chase waited until he had the younger man’s full attention. “I’m serious. I need to know that you’re one-hundred percent with me in this. If you’re not, I can manage alone.”
Brown eyes searched Chase’s face for a moment of sincere consideration before the young detective gave a minuscule nod. “I’m with you.”
“Alright. Off we go.”
“I’m the top.” Spenser announced with an air of finality.
“So long as we’re playing gay,” he clarified. “I’m the top, you’re the bottom.”
Chase laughed as they left the parking lot. “You know most guys switch, right?”
“Don’t care. I’m the top.”
“I don’t know if you’re enough man for me, Tristan. I have needs.”
Spenser grimaced. “Do I seriously have to call you Chip?”
“You can make up a nickname, if you prefer. I’ve always liked ‘stud’.”
“Chip is fine,” Spenser recanted.
Chase mused as he drove. “So how did we meet, how long have we been together, etcetera.”
“Ten years is easiest to remember.”
Chase shot him a disgusted look. “You would have been sixteen. Stop making me a creep.”
“So? You would have been like eighteen. That’s not creepy.”
The older detective laughed loudly. “Well, I’m flattered that you think I’m twenty-eight. Let’s make it five. That’s pretty much forever in gay years anyway.”
“What about the ‘how’?” Spenser mulled pensively. “What the hell do gay people do other than clubs and parades?”
“Oh, you know, gay rodeos, gay brunch, gay wine tasting, gay flower arrangement. They do normal shit, you ass.” He punched the younger man in the shoulder just hard enough to be annoying. “If you walk in there and put on the gay version of black-face I swear to god, I will shoot you myself.”
“The hell does that mean?” Spenser scowled, rubbing his shoulder.
“No lisp, no sashay in your walk, no wrist flapping. If you mention Barbra Streisand, you are dead to me.”
“Not that I was going to,” Spenser shuddered. “But how am I supposed to act?”
“Normal,” Chase responded flatly.
They had all the details sorted by the time they pulled up to Pink Pansies. It was packed. Rows of empty cars were splashed in strobing neon, a wall of erratic sound seething from the building like a pulse.
Chase checked the time on the phone, cut the engine and took a slow breath. “Remember, no hitting me for minimal human contact. No hitting strangers for grabbing your ass, either.”
Spenser hadn’t even taken off his seat belt, and now looked like he might not intend to. “How likely is the latter?”
“If you walk in there like a timid mouse? You may as well ring a dinner bell. They’re drunk guys. If you stand out, you’re going to get attention. Just consider all the cues that would make you approach a woman and don’t do them.”
“That’s . . .” Spenser tipped his head thoughtfully. “Actually helpful. Have you done the whole ‘under-cover-gay’ thing before?”
“Nope.” Chase left the vehicle, cutting off the conversation. He managed not to mutter “every day”.
The line spanned half the length of the building front. Two bouncers were mechanically patting down patrons and checking IDs before ushering them between velvet ropes that were trying their best to look classy.
“This is going to take forever.” Spenser already had to raise his voice over the music.
“Honey, we wait for no man.”
Chase strode directly up to one of the bouncers, whom was already starting to tell them to get in line before he was interrupted. “We’re here to see Jason Mink.” Chase put on his best ‘I’m a relatable extrovert’ smile.
The bouncer gave him and Spenser a brief once over. “Wait here.”
Spenser was looking down the line of mostly good-looking, young men dressed for attention. Chase tried not to find it amusing. He told himself he should be annoyed by the junior’s distractibility, but it just wouldn’t take. It was always entertaining watching guys like him take a peek out of the closet.
“Arms out.” The bouncer’s voice jerked Chase back to reality. He smiled and raised his arms for the pat down.
If Spenser was nervous about the frisk, he didn’t show it. The way he slid his hand in his pocket afterward to connect the wire was natural.
The bouncer tipped his head at them and unbuckled the rope, allowing them to bypass both the line and the cover register. “He’s at the VIP section near the bar.”
Chase pressed the flat of his hand into Spenser’s lower back, guiding him in front so he could pay attention to his surroundings without losing the shorter man. There was a moment of rigid hesitation before the junior detective went with the movement. He really didn’t like giving up any measure of autonomy, Chase noted.
Eighty different types of cologne fought for dominance in the still, humid air. The music was some sort of unholy matrimony between pop and dubstep, the roaring bass threatening to reset Chase’s heart rhythm.
The center of the building was a writhing mass of raised arms and swaying heads, flashing lights playing over flesh and fabric in a sea of motion. The towering ceilings were a network of lighting, duct work and industrial guts. Cigarette smoke and fog machine haze clung to the rafters in a gravity defying soup. Steel support beams dotted the structure in patternless array, painted mixtures of pink and black.
Spenser had completely stopped his forward momentum. It wasn’t unusual behavior for a cop. Better to be still and take in unfamiliar surroundings than to act without summing up the situation. It was, however, terrible behavior for a detective. The crowd had closed in behind them and Spenser had cut himself a still figure in a swath of movement. Jason Mink would have had eyes on them from the moment they walked in the door.
Chase leaned in to Spenser’s ear, making sure his expression was open and friendly, despite what he was saying. “Move toward the back left, don’t stop in the middle of the goddamn floor.”
“I don’t see him,” Spenser called loudly over his shoulder.
“It doesn’t fucking matter, he sees us.” Chase planted his hands on Spenser’s hips and shoved him into motion.
Chase scanned the raised area in the back of the building for still faces oriented in their direction and finally locked eyes with Jason Mink. There was a fraction of a second before both of them put on their smiles and gestured to each other.
Spenser’s autonomous resistance had become an annoying hindrance. The older detective stepped around him, grabbing his hand and pulling him toward the carpeted dais. The bouncer didn’t even glance at them as they climbed the handful of steps to the small area where Mink sat.
“Welcome to Pink Pansies! Jason.” The older man stood with a smile, offering his hand.
Chase hadn’t expected the New Jersey accent. Or the limp handshake.
“Chip. This is my boyfriend, Tristan.” Spenser gave a curt smile and quick handshake.
“Sit! What are you boys drinking?”
The curved, plush booth forced them into close proximity and Chase was keenly aware of how trapped they were. He sat between Spenser and the larger Mink.
“Beer is fine, thanks.” Chase looked to Spenser expectantly.
“Uh, yea, a beer is good.”
Mink gestured for a server.
He was larger than he seemed in pictures. More than that, it was solid weight. If they had to tussle with this man, it would not go well, and that’s before considering the bouncer two feet away. Chase hadn’t put eyes on Wesley and Hernandez, but he was willing to bet they were still in line.
“I had no idea it was so big in here,” Chase commented over the music. “I’ve been wanting to come and see it, but he’s not really the clubbing kind of guy.” He smiled at Mink and cut his eyes at Spenser.
“It’s not everyone’s scene,” Mink replied, pride evident.
“I think he’s worried I’ll find someone younger.” Chase winked. Spenser’s frown was perfect.
Mink’s smile didn’t reach his eyes. “No one under twenty-one here, I’m afraid.”
Chase filed away the reaction as their beers were set in front of them. Mink waited until they both drank before a serious mask fell over his features. Chase couldn’t help but be pleased with his proper hosting.
“What can I do for you boys?”
Chase glanced around before leaning closer to Mink. “It’s kind of awkward. I’ve been out of the scene for a while because . . .” He ventured a glance at Spenser who just raised a brow at him. “Well, you know. I wanted to make his birthday a little special this year. Open his eyes a bit. Then I found out about Marsten.” He let his voice fall and looked away.
The look on Mink’s face made it clear that he and Marsten had been close. “Let’s take this to the back. Some things shouldn’t be yelled over Skrillex.”
Chase was relieved when the bouncer stood in the doorway between the club proper and the back rooms. They followed Mink alone.
The older detective took stock and built a quick mental map to match the building plans they had reviewed. He glanced back at Spenser and was pleased to see he was making sure to turn his head to look around, giving Tim and Boswell a clear idea of their location.
Chase gave a low whistle as they moved into a side room. “You spared no expense on these booths.”
Mink smiled. “I spend most of my time on my ass. Might as well be comfortable.”
“Got anything for ‘I spend most of my time on my back’?” Mink laughed heartily, dark eyes sparkling at Chase’s flirtatious commentary.
His expression shifted when he looked at Spenser. He had clearly caught a look that Chase had missed with his back to the younger detective. “Don’t worry. I know a tease when I see one. Have a seat.” He turned his palms up in offering. “I promised Marsten I’d take care of things for him. Anything you need from him, you’ll get from me.”
Chase softened his expression apologetically. “Sorry for bringing him up like that. I had no idea how bad it was before . . . you know.”
“Life is short,” Mink gave a bitter smile. “Best not spend it sober. How much you after?”
“Going to be a smallish party. Few dozen people. Few grams should be enough. I want to show him a good time, not peel him off the floor.” Chase grinned.
“I only do tablets.”
“That’s fine. Cheaper anyway. Less chance someone will chew our baseboards. What’s your price?”
“Twelve a hit.”
Spenser had been nonchalantly nursing his beer and nearly choked on it.
Chase winced. “Damn, times have changed.”
“Can’t we just get a cake instead?” Spenser cut in with a frown.
“If cake felt half as good as X, I’d be too fat to fuck,” Chase replied.
Mink laughed at their exchange. “I can do ten. For Marsten.”
Chase leaned slightly to fetch the wallet from his pocket and shot Spenser a look. “You better be grateful after this.” Spenser grimaced. Chase pulled out three hundreds and held them out to Mink between two fingers.
The large man glanced down at the money, then looked the detective square in the eye. “You’re really trusting of strangers.”
Chase smiled. “I trusted Marsten. He trusted you.”
The tense moment lasted for a heartbeat more before Mink plucked the bills from Chase’s fingers. “Wait here.”
Spenser gave him a loaded look the moment Mink was gone. Chase was fairly certain the rookie wasn’t dumb enough to break cover, but he firmly patted his thigh just in case.
“Don’t worry, baby. It’ll be fun.” The younger man looked down at the hand on his thigh, then back up at Chase, expression carefully unreadable. Chase grinned.
Mink returned with a white paper pouch that ironically looked like a pharmacy bag. He slid it to the middle of the table as he sat. “Feel free to count.”
Chase shook a plastic zipper bag out of the pouch. Inside was an assortment of pastel, chalky, thick tablets with various stamping on their faces.
“They look like Smartees,” Spenser commented.
“You’re welcome to sample, we’ve got all night.” Mink’s smile was downright predatory.
Chase paused his counting and gave the older man a look. “I don’t think you want us ruining your booth.”
“Maybe I do.” The smile never wavered.
Chase cleared his throat. “I don’t trust you that much.”
Mink laughed again. “See?” He gestured for Spenser. “Just a tease. I see them every night. They rub on every cock in the house and leave alone.” He kept his eyes on Chase.
“Thankfully, I’m not leaving alone. Or empty handed.” He dropped the plastic bag back into the paper pouch and stuffed the pouch into his inner jacket pocket. “But maybe you can point me toward someone who can help out with the last thing on my party favor list.”
Spenser’s complete lack of expression was just as readable for Chase as anything else.
“Yea?” Mink tipped his head in interest.
“What if,” Chase leaned on the table. “The twenty-one and up crowd is a little,” he pursed his lips and shrugged. “Old . . . for my tastes.” Spenser’s confused and horrified expression managed to win out.
The larger man leaned back, hands folding over his lap, smile fading. “I may be able to put you in contact with an associate of mine, but I don’t want to know about it.”
Chase smiled. “Got a number?”
“You’re better off giving me yours. He’s not as informal.”
Chase was glad he had memorized the burn phone’s number and could quickly scribble it out on the note card Mink provided.
“If that’s all, I’d like to get back to my business.” The large man’s jovial demeanor had chilled to barely hospitable. Chase doubted he intended them to be return customers. Good. The guy had a soul after all. It would make questioning him later a lot easier.
They shook hands again and Mink led them back into the main club.
“Have a nice party, boys.” And with that, it was over.
The walk out of the club and to the van was the worst part of the whole night. There was always that looming feeling that you might not get away with it. That at any moment you might get shot in the back. There was an instinctive scream in the back of your head to make a run for it.
Instead, the detectives calmly walked across the parking lot, making small talk with smiles. They calmly got in the minivan. Calmly put on their seat belts and calmly pulled out of the spot.
It wasn’t until the nightclub was only a haze in the rear view mirror that Chase let his shoulders fall and let himself stop breathing manually.
Spenser suddenly whooped loudly, nearly causing the older detective to jerk the van out of their lane.
“Goddamnit! You almost made me shit myself!”
“We’re alive!” The junior detective gripped Chase’s shoulder and shook him. “Cagg is going to kill you for asking about minors.”
“You’re filming this, dumb ass.”
“Oh, right.” Spenser pulled the glasses off and unplugged them.
“Hawthorne got the hookup to Mink from someone. I’m willing to bet it was through the kiddy supplier.”
Spenser frowned. “He didn’t really seem to approve.”
“I don’t approve of Lieutenant Howard. He still tells me what to do. If it was just an ‘associate’, he’d have told me to pound sand. Instead, he doesn’t want to turn away this guy’s customers. Means he has some measure of power over Mink. We’ll see when we question him tomorrow.”
“Ugh,” Spenser groaned. “I thought I was done working weekends.”
“The night is far from over. You’re going to be debriefed so thoroughly that you’ll wish it was a cavity search.”
“You can break character now, Chip. And never touch my thigh again.”
“Did it give you confusing feewings?” Chase batted his eyes at the younger man.
Spenser turned and decked him straight in the arm.
“Ow! I’m driving here. Do you want to die in a horrible crash?” Chase looked up at movement in the rear view. “There’s our boys.”
Spenser turned to look back at the blue surveillance van just in time for Boswell to flash his brights.
“Gah! That’s the second time he’s done that to me.” He rubbed his eyes. “First time was in a damn patrol car with his alley lights.”
Chase chuckled. “He’s just mad that you left patrol. He intends to die in his blues and thinks everyone else should too.”
Spenser fell silent for a moment, staring out the window. “I think I’m going to puke.”
“Do it in the back seat. It might improve the smell.”
The younger detective swallowed thickly. “I puked when they pulled that body out and now this. You’ve got to think I have terrible nerves.”
“Nah,” Chase reassured him. “It’s just the adrenaline. My hands still shake after this shit sometimes. As far as the body, everyone blows chunks over their first water retrieval. Something about how they get all gooey and bloated.”
Spenser made a retching sound.
“God, I’m hungry.” The older detective lamented.
“I hate you.”
The minivan, surveillance van, and Hernandez’s Honda pulled into the CID parking lot one after the other.
Boswell whistled the moment Chase got out of the minivan. “It’s Chip the tease!”
Chase groaned and rolled his eyes. “Already? Is this going to be the new thing? I thought we were friends.”
“What’d we miss?” Wesley pried as he and Hernandez strode over.
“The guy called Chase a cock-tease.” Boswell grinned.
Hernandez’s lips split in a sinister smile. “And it’s on tape?”
Boswell clapped a large hand on Chase’s shoulder. “Don’t be ashamed of being a tease. When old wise gay men give you a title, you wear it with honor. Like Native American names.”
“Yea?” Chase started. “Tell me more, Rolls With Bears.”
Their laughter had that edge of lunacy that always seized every op team after the danger had passed.
“That explains why he never puts out,” Caceda cut in. Chase turned to respond, but instead she grabbed his face, pulled him down to her level and planted her lips firmly on his.
The ‘kiss’ was only chaste lip contact, but he was struck with stunned silence all the same.
“What the hell?” Spenser snarled.
There was a flash of pleasure in her eyes at the rookie’s protest and she released Chase to face him.
“That was for coming back in one piece.” She slid passed him smoothly. “I can’t give you yours in public.”
All trace of jealousy melted out of Spenser’s features and was replaced with dumb, drunk lust as he watched her go.
Chase cleared his throat awkwardly. “Right. So. I’ve got drugs in my pocket.”
“You sure that’s all you’ve got?” Wesley eyed him.
“Wanna check?” Chase shot back.
“Oh, no, I’ve heard you have no follow through.”
The laughter continued as they made their way across the parking lot.
“Spenser must have blue-balls.” Hernandez offered.
Chase sighed. “It’s all fun and games until Hernandez tries to make a joke.”
“Fuck you, gringo,” the solid detective snarled.
Adrenaline flared and Chase spun on his heel to face the shorter man, suddenly wanting nothing more than to provoke him. “No, we’re talking about me not fucking. Jesus Christ, follow the conversation. Do you need bullet points?”
“I got your bul—”
Boswell put his bulk between them before Hernandez could finish the threat. “OK, OK. That’s enough. Don’t you both have somewhere to be?”
Chase let Spenser’s grip on his shoulder move him toward the door. “Come on, lets get the stuff to the tech.” The blonde detective didn’t turn his back until he had a fair amount of distance between himself and the still bristling Hernandez. He jerked the door open and strode down the hall without a word.
“You two have history or something?” Spenser asked.
“You don’t seem to like each other very much.”
“No, we do not.”
Spenser pressed his lips into a fine line after a moment of silence. “Well, glad we had this talk.”
They rounded the corner to see the mousy tech staring at the vending machine.
“Sarah!” She jumped, hands coming up toward her chest in little fists. “Have some drugs!” Chase pulled the pouch out of his jacket pocket and tossed it at her. They were only about two feet away, but she still fumbled to catch the small package.
The older detective glanced back at her briefly as they passed. “She’s adorable. Kind of like a squirrel.”
Spenser blinked and turned back to look. “Seriously? That’s your type?”
“I said she’s adorable. Not that I want to get all up in that. What part of looking like a squirrel makes you think I’m attracted to her? What the hell do you do with squirrels?”
“Do you find anyone attractive?”
“Julia Roberts,” Chase answered quickly.
“What? Wait, Pretty Woman Julia Roberts or Erin Brockovich Julia Roberts?”
“Charlotte’s Web Julia Roberts.”
Chase knocked at Sergeant Stuart’s open office door, leaving Spenser to wander off confused.
“Come in.” The red-headed Stuart gestured without looking up from a mound of paperwork.
Chase shifted his weight in the doorway, strumming his fingers on the frame. He had always thought the night Sergeant was distractingly handsome and did his best to keep as much distance as possible.
“Just wanted to let you know that we’re back. Sarah is checking the samples now. Tim should be going through the footage. Where’s Cagg?”
Stuart pulled his attention away from his work, sapphire eyes thoughtful behind wire frame glasses. “Last I saw him he was arguing with the Lieutenant on the phone.”
“Thanks,” The detective turned to go.
Chase leaned back into the doorway and tried his best not to find the Sergeant’s smile alluring.
“How’d it go?”
“Oh, uh, yea. Good. Fine, I mean. Went as planned.”
“Heard it was a gay bar. That had to be weird.” Stuart leaned back in his chair with a chuckle.
“Oh, yea. You know.” The detective made the universal gesture for fellatio. The combination of the look on Stuart’s face and the realization of what he just did made him freeze. “Gotta go.” He suddenly wanted nothing more than to be on fire just so he would have an excuse to run out of the building screaming.
Chase hadn’t gotten far before he heard Cagg bellow from behind him.
“Detective Chase! Why the hell did you bring up the minors?!”
“Oh, thank god.” Chase muttered as he turned.
“Nothing, I’m just finding the yelling refreshing right now.”
Cagg’s receding hair line had gone red. It must have been a spectacular argument with the Lieutenant.
“Smith is working the trafficking. I’m starting to think you want to be personally assigned to every case in CID. Is that what this is? I have a few more you haven’t touched yet. Bartlet has a cattle theft you might want to get in on!”
“Seriously? People still steal cattle?”
The Sergeant’s temple vein looked like an angry, throbbing root.
“Look, Hawthorne had to have gone through Mink’s contact. If you heard about me asking, you heard about his answer. He knows the guy. Let me work out a meeting. We can get them all, Cagg. When’s the last time we had that chance?”
Cagg stood still for a moment, color slowly draining form his face as he breathed steadily, but his frown stayed firm. “He knows a guy. We don’t know if it’s the guy. I just got my ass handed to me as it is for letting you and Spenser do this. If I let you in on Smith’s case—”
“You know she can’t set up a meet,” Chase cut in. “Just let me bring it in for her. Let me get the bastard on tape.”
“Over a year since your last op and suddenly you want a whole week of them?” Cagg snorted.
“In for a penny, sir.”
The Sergeant regarded him for a moment. “Is there something making this personal for you that I should know about?”
“No,” Chase responded flatly.
Cagg looked at him for a moment more. “We’ll see what we get from Mink when we bring him in. Go get your paperwork done. You need to be back in here by five. I’d like to get some goddamn sleep before then. We’ll debrief in the conference room at midnight.”
Miraculously, the whole team managed to get their act together by midnight. Paperwork was completed and filed. Equipment returned. Evidence reviewed. Tests run.
It was easy to pick out the day shift crew by who was nursing coffee with a scowl. Tim had fallen asleep in his basement alcove and no one had the heart to wake him. He had fulfilled his part anyway. Spenser was still riding the adrenaline high with no signs of coming down any time soon.
“Lab results?” Cagg was sparing with his syllables.
Sarah cleared her throat, glasses slipping down her nose as she looked at her papers. “Typical concentration of street quality MDMA. Low doses of ketamine, dextromethorphan, and caffeine.”
“We have at least two grams?” Cagg asked.
“Submit it for the JP. We need this warrant ASAP.” The Sergeant pointed to Chase and Spenser. “Have you both submitted your reports?”
They nodded in unison.
“Anyone know if Williams sent the footage?”
“An hour ago,” Boswell answered.
“Alright. Night shift, get back to work. Rest of you can go home. I want you two back in five hours. Everyone keep your phones on.”
Chase grumbled, but Spenser only nodded.
“At least Mink will be more tired than I am.” Chase dragged himself out of the chair.
Spenser’s hand on his elbow slowed Chase as the room emptied.
“Hey, you wanna get a drink or something?”
The older detective regarded the dark haired man for a moment of confusion. “Are you hitting on me?”
“What? No,” Spenser’s nose curled. “I just thought it was tradition to celebrate after this sort of thing. I’m not going to be able to sleep anyway.”
“It’s a little premature to be celebrating. Besides, don’t you have someone to celebrate with?”
Dumbfounded realization struck the younger man’s features. “Shit.” He looked around hastily. “Where’d she go?”
“Better find her before she starts without you.”
Spenser grinned. “See you in the morning.”