Brass and Blue

Chapter 10

"So what did Dr. Reed say about speeding up the toxicology results?"

"Hey, I thought you said no shop talk outside of work. I think dates definitely constitute as 'out of work.'"

Mindy's head lolled with an exaggerated groan. Their dinner at Habana 26 has been a satisfyingly talkative one. Their shared refrain from work discussion (up to this point) has actually been quite impressive. "Danny, look around. We've been here for hours. The servers are stacking chairs on top of the tables at the other half of the restaurant and the cook is giving us the death glare. We've talked about everything. I think you even know my menstrual cycle at this point – which I'm sorry about, by the way."

"It's fine," Danny laughed.

"I totally misunderstood what you said."

Smiling, Danny shrugged. "Really, it's okay. Besides, I've heard Shauna and Betsy talk about way worse."

"Wait, Betsy?!" Mindy leaned forward. "In administration? She gave me an entire back story on one of her Precious Moments figurines – okay, stop distracting me. I really want to know."

Danny conceded. "Well, after taunting me for five minutes about asking him for a favor, he agreed to 'aim' for next Thursday."

"That's great!"

"Eh." He dragged a fingertip through the condensation on his water glass with a pained grimace. "I think he enjoyed the fact that I was asking for his help a little too much. He revels in having something to lord over my head."

With a snort, Mindy observed, "You make him sound like an evil villain."

"Well, with that stupid accent of his, just about everything sounds evil."

"Ooh, he has an accent? What kind of accent?"

Danny narrowed his eyes at the sight of her obvious interest. "He's English." With that tidbit, he quickly spotted the visible melting he'd recognized in some of his other colleagues. The fact that Jeremy was such a heartthrob, even to those who have never seen him before, was very annoying. "Okay, relax."

"Danny, British accents are undeniably sexy," Mindy said informatively.

"Oh, are they?" Danny didn't mean for his tone to sound quite as sharp. This brand of jealously felt petty. He was relieved to see Mindy smile rather than look turned off. She reached out lightly touch the top of his hand with her finger, rubbing it gently.

"But not nearly as sexy as a Staten Island accent."

His smile was unstoppable. "Oh, excellent save, Min."

"I thought it was, yeah," Mindy giggled.

Danny flipped his hand and clasped it with hers. "Well, just try not to drown in his charm."

"Don't be so paranoid, Castellano," Mindy sighed. "You, sir, have my undivided attention."

"Holy crap, you're handsome as shit!"

Jeremy Reed's amused haughtiness was something Danny had come to expect, but still managed to get under his skin. The sight of the dashing man in scrubs soaking in Mindy's brazen praise made him want to turn around take both of them out of the lab, with or without their results.

"Well, that's quite the compliment, coming from a stunning woman such as yourself," Jeremy replied in an overly smooth tone. His smile was almost scandalous in nature.

"I'm serious," Mindy continued in awe. "Why have a face like that if you're just going to be stuck around dead people all day? I mean…" She trailed off in order to look at Danny shamefully. Her eyes conveyed a sort of apology that she couldn't vocalize just then. Pushing her shoulders back, she returned her attention to Jeremy. "You're handsome, but I do not want you."

Danny found her unnecessary rejection of Jeremy equal parts pandering and relieving.

"Ah." Jeremy tilted his head, maintaining a crooked smile. "Pity."

"Okay, Reed," Danny finally spoke up, audibly exasperated. "Can you maybe pause the flirting long enough to give us our results?"

Jeremy raised a placating hand. "Of course." He walked over to an illuminated counter close to the exit and grabbed a packet of paper stapled together. Looking over the first page Jeremy reported, "Your victim definitely fell on the very unforgiving blade of a pocket knife, I'm afraid. A puncture of the lung and excessive blood loss seem to have done the trick."

He couldn't say he was disappointed or that he had expected to hear differently, but he could still feel the shred of hope that he held onto slip through his fingers. Mindy was right, though: it was good to get it out of the way.

"Alright," Danny sighed, "well, it's not like that's a shock or anything."

"No, I imagine it wouldn't be," Jeremy rushed to respond, "but I'm not finished. We did find something rather interesting in his system: an alarmingly high concentration of felodipine, a calcium channel blocker prescribed for hypertension and angina."

"You say the concentration was high. Was it like an overdose?" Mindy probed.

"Not quite, but almost as high…which is interesting because none of his medical records show any sort of treatment for hypertension or even elevated blood pressure. He was actually in relatively great health."

Danny leaned against the nearest surface while he processed this new development. "Do people get high off of this felodipine?"

"Recreationally?" Dr. Reed's eyebrows sloped in sudden concentration. "Possibly amongst the desperate, but I haven't seen anything of the sort come through here."

"God, this is so weird," Mindy said. "Do you think the drug played any role in his death at all, Dr. Reed?"

"Not in this case, no," he answered. "And unless he had a severe allergic reaction to it or an affinity for large quantities of grapefruit, I don't see how this would have killed him otherwise."

The mention of grapefruit triggered Danny's attention instantly. "Grapefruit? Are you saying this drug mixed with grapefruit –"

"-can create a pretty toxic reaction, yes," Jeremy added. "Any doctor who cared to keep his or her license would advise any patient to wait 48 -72 hours to take felodipine if they've had any sort of grapefruit or grapefruit juice, just to make sure it was completely flushed from their system."

Danny looked at Mindy, who was already staring at him with a look of renewed determination. He glanced back at the examiner. "So was that all you found?"

"That's all," he replied. "There were no other chemicals in his body at the time of death. And I've already sent a copy of our findings to Betsy."

"That's great. Thank you so much," Mindy said distractedly as she headed quickly for the door. Danny gave a parting nod to the doctor as he followed Mindy closely. She was already working out the possibilities out loud.

"If Jason was right about him having grapefruit juice every morning," she began to reason, "then there's no way Josh would voluntarily take the felodipine. Someone got it into his system without him knowing. And I doubt the grapefruit thing is a coincidence. It had to be someone who knew that he drank the stuff."

"Which was probably his wife and everyone at his campaign headquarters. Tamra's alibi checked out, so that leaves almost his entire campaign team. But why go after the man you're trying to get elected?" Danny questioned as they reached the car. "And why drug a man if you were planning on stabbing him in the first place? That's the part is especially weird. Why do both?"

Mindy shrugged. "Panic, possibly? The whole job looks like a panicked mess, between dumping him in that garage …"

Danny froze at the mention of the garage, quickly reminded of a hang-up had when the case was so young. He dragged one hand down the side of his face while the other gripped the Trailblazer door handle. "I just figured out what bugged me about the cameras."

"You did?" Mindy asked. "Mind sharing?"

Danny stepped away from the driver's door and dug into his pants pocket. He fished out his keys. "Yeah, I just need a minute to check out something. Feel like driving to the station?" He tossed to the keys to her, which she caught in spite of her astonishment.

"You're actually relinquishing the driver's seat? Is this happening?"

"Don't get excited, Lahiri." The firmness in his voice was completely undermined by the half smile refusing to be suppressed. "We're maybe ten minutes away."

"Sorry, Danny! I can't hear you over the sweet, sweet roar of compromise."

"Ridiculous," he mumbled affectionately under his breath as he slid into the passenger's seat for the first time. The need to chase this unexpected breakthrough felt more important than relishing the new experience. After securing his seatbelt he went to work scanning through the images saved onto the department tablet. Once he found the photo of the crime scene, he tapped the surveillance cameras in the shot.

"Those cameras," he announced. "I knew something felt off."

"What are you talking about?" Mindy pulled out of the space a little quicker than Danny felt was necessary, but chose to continue his point rather than voice that particular opinion.

"Both cameras are pointing in the exact direction where the body was discovered," Danny pointed out. "You can tell by the encasing that these cameras don't move, so they had to be in this exact position when the body was dropped off. And the lighting makes them impossible to miss. It's kind of a bold move to dump Daniels in front of some cameras unless – and I know this could be a stretch – what if the killer knew that these cameras were broken? What if they already knew this spot would be a safe one?"

A few seconds of silence were enough for Danny to know that Mindy was considering his hypothesis, which was reassuring. If it were entirely ridiculous, he was sure she would have told him as much.

"Who would just know information like that?" Mindy asked. "Heather lives there and she wasn't even aware."

"I took in a perp six months ago who would rob people next to the convenience store on 15th because the cameras that were 'being fixed' never go replaced and the area was rarely patrolled," Danny explained. "This could be the same thing. Even in a panic, if you're cognizant enough to attempt to move a body, you're cognizant enough to at least check for cameras. And you'd have to be pretty confident to see two of them and not be concerned."

"'s true," Mindy murmured as she made a sharp left turn. "So our suspect is a possible member of Daniels' campaign, could have access to some serious prescriptions, and is possibly knowledgeable of the shadier parts of town. Does anyone come to mind?"

"You managed to secure an alibi for Richmond a few weeks ago, right?"

Mindy nodded. "The hotel vouched for him. We need to take a closer look at those volunteers, though."

A persistent, niggling feeling told Danny that that wouldn't be necessary. "Before we go down that path, let's just make sure we're not overlooking anything obvious. When we get to the precinct-" Danny was cut off by another sharp turn, this time causing him to brace himself against door. "If we make it to the precinct, I mean! Min, you're a terrible driver!"

Rolling her eyes, she replied, "You and Maggie are so dramatic. We'll make it, you loon."

"Well if we do, we should look over the evidence one more time, including the stuff from Gilbert and Logan."

"Okay. I think we should also take a look at some of those ex-crooked cops that Josh was planning to reinstate. Maybe he inherited some of their enemies."

"Good idea."

When the arrived to the station (three minutes sooner than they should have, Danny noted) Danny ambled out of the SUV and quickly met Mindy on the other side.

"I should have you arrested for reckless endangerment," Danny accused. "You're kind of bad behind the wheel."

"Oh, stop,' she dismissed with a grin as she pushed past him. "We made it just like I said we would. Now we're going to look over what we have until we find something solid. Then we're going to find our killer, arrest him, and you're going to take me to the most expensive restaurant in the city to celebrate."

"Does it have to be the most expensive one?"

"Of course! Always."

Thought it was apparent that she was kidding, Danny quickly assessed that he wouldn't have minded if she hadn't been.

They agreed to split up the duties to maximize efficiency: Mindy would reexamine the evidence they've collected up to this point while Danny agreed to take a look at information passed along by Sergeant Gilbert and his division. The folder was mostly filled with covertly taken photographs of the victim with various shifty-looking characters. One picture featured a man that fit the description Beverly had provided to them weeks ago: short and a slightly round with a dark mole just under his left nostril and sparse, dark hair slicked over his pale scalp. In all of the prints Danny recognized the smile Josh used amongst these thugs as the same one he unleashed on his supporters. He held onto the same disgusting ease amongst both crowds.

Some of the pictures solely featured the Daniels' associates. One that contained the squat gentleman was labeled "Phil Dayflower." Danny tapped the glossy finish.

"I'm pretty sure I've heard this name before," he announced to Mindy, who had created a makeshift working station on the opposite side of his desk. "Phil Dayflower. The name sticks out, but I can't remember why."

Mindy shrugged, then looked up as Shauna walked by. "Hey, I bet Shauna would know. Shauna!" When the woman turned around, Mindy beckoned her over with a quickly waving hand. As she approached the desk, Danny flipped the picture so she could view it.

"Phil Dayflower," he repeated, taking special care to annunciate each syllable clearly. "Why do I know that name?"

Leaning forward, she took print between her thumb and pointer fingers and looked at his face closely. "Phil Dayflower. Dayflower, Day – Oh yeah! This is the guy whose partner shot a drug dealer who he claimed threatened him. The man was on life support forever. The family claimed that officer was crooked and shot him because he threatened to go to the police with evidence."

"Wait, he was a drug dealer who planned on actually outing a crooked cop?" Mindy questioned.

"The word is that he wanted to go straight," Shauna explained, handing the photo back to Danny. "He was a dealer under the Fishman family, which a few cops were banking off of."

"Right, Shulman mentioned that," Danny mumbled.

"Well, this guy supposedly had enough information to bring the whole operation down. Dayflower's partner didn't like it. They got into a scuffle in front of him and the next thing you know this guy's got a bullet in his stomach. Dayflower and his partner say their lives were threatened, the family says there's no way. There was a gun on victim, though, and a lack of evidence that he was planning to go to the authorities, so nobody took the family's claims seriously."

Danny blew out a heavy sigh while Mindy came around to his side of the desk and opened up an internet browser on his desktop. "Do you think the family was telling the truth?"

Shauna raised her eyebrows and nodded slightly. "The guy that fired the shot was real quick to retire after that. Dayflower ended up being one of the cops that Menken sent packing."



Mindy pivoted the monitor so that it faced Danny and Shauna a little more. "So this all happened about six years ago, right?"

"Yeah," Shauna confirmed. "Just about."

Mindy scanned a few articles, including one that included a photo of a thinner Dayflower with much more hair. "Shit," Mindy muttered. "Six years can really make a difference."

The article scrolled quickly under Mindy's command, the text becoming nothing more than a jumbled block of black. They had reached halfway down the page when a small mugshot appeared on the far left side.

"Wait!" Shauna called out. Danny could now feel her hovering over him as she pointed at the shot. "That's the guy! That's the guy he shot."

The man in the picture looked young, like he was in his mid-twenties. With a thick mane of dark brown hair and a strong jaw line, he would have looked much more handsome without the dark circles around his eyes. His expression was that of faux defiance. Despite his narrowed eyes and jutted out chin, he looked just as scared as any of the other rookie criminals that went through processing. Danny could easily picture him trying to go clean. Then he took a look at the caption. His blood ran cold and his mouth went agape.

"Hey, Min," he nudged her gently. "Check out the caption. Look at his name."

He waited for the information to register with Mindy before saying anything further. As soon as her mouth dropped open and her head reared back just a fraction, he knew she had joined his line of thinking.

"No way," she said breathlessly. She pointed at the name. "That's not a coincidence."

Danny agreed, then stood from his chair carefully as not to collide with Shauna. "C'mon, let's go talk to the captain, then we can head out ASAP."

Mindy wordlessly stood and joined his side as they headed in the direction of Captain Shulman.

Two hours later they were knocking on the door of a rundown-looking apartment. The barks of several dogs responded to the pounding instantly.

"Calm down, all of you!" a voice yelled as it neared. Danny braced himself as the lock clicked. When the door opened with a loud creak, Mindy was the first speak.

"Morgan Tookers?"

"Detective Lahiri, Detective Castellano," he greeted with confusion. "Can I help you?"

"You can," Mindy responded firmly. She glanced to her left in time to catch Danny pull a folded sheet of paper from his jacket pocket and reveal it to Morgan with a slight wave. Satisfied, she returned her attention forward. "We need to search your apartment as well as your car."

Morgan remained in his position, blocking the doorway. His expression grew harder. "For what?"

Danny cleared his throat and said authoritatively, "Mr. Tookers, will you step outside of the apartment please? This shouldn't take long."

There was some hesitation and Danny wondered if Morgan planned to run. There wouldn't be many places to go between the small complex, limited exits, and the group of detectives waiting outside for their signal to proceed. Still, he prepared himself for the possibility of engaging in a brief chase, should the opportunity arise. When he didn't move, Mindy stepped forward.

"Mr. Tookers, please step out of the apartment."

He opened his mouth to argue, but appeared to have thought better of it when his mouth clamped shut and he slowly stepped away from the door.

"Morgan, if you'll be so kind as to lead us to your car and open the doors for us," Danny instructed. Both him and Mindy pulled out pairs of gloves from the uniformed jackets and secured them over their hands as Morgan led them dutifully to his black Chrysler.

"It might kind of a mess," Morgan warned, his voice shaky as they neared the car. He stopped when he saw Charlie, Gwen, Peter, Captain Shulman, and Shauna waiting for them. "Whoa, what the hell are all these people doing here?!"

"They're here to aid in making this search as painless as possible," Danny responded calmly. "Now, can you please open the doors and two of our officers will search the apartment. Are any of your pets attackers?"

Morgan opened the driver's door and unlocked the vehicle with one button. "My dogs are the sweetest things to walk this earth. They'll just love them to death." With that, Charlie and Gwen made their way to the apartment entrance while Peter and Shauna remained outside as backup. Danny began searching the front from the passenger's side while Mindy searched the spacious backseat.

"Can you open up the trunk as well, please?" Mindy asked authoritatively.

"This is ridiculous!"

"Look, buddy, the sooner you cooperate, the sooner we can get this over with," Danny snapped. "Now, I believe my partner asked you to open the trunk."

Mumbling curses under his breath, Morgan leaned downward and pulled a lever that opened the trunk with a loud pop. He then stepped away and allowed them to continue their search. There were a few trash items that littered the floor and were pushed under the seat, but nothing that could truly obstruct their mission. He could hear Mindy's gloves loudly swiping the leather interior and the car gently rocked with movements. Danny flipped the floor mats opened the glove compartments, but could not find anything. When he looked under the seat he could see Mindy's hand carefully checking the floor for any openings or suspiciously lifted carpet. Finding nothing, he migrated over to the driver's side. He noted the carefully blank expression on Morgan's face.

"Is there anything that we should know about in this car?" Danny asked.

Morgan simply shook his head and Danny crouched carefully to begin searching under the seat, just as he had on the other side. When he looked underneath, all he could find was a soda can crammed into a paper bag. Like the rest of the trash, he carefully extracted it while Mindy began to sit up.

"Nothing back here," she announced. "I'm gonna look in the trunk."

"I'm finding nothing but trash myself," Danny sighed. "Maybe Lang and Grandy will stumble upon…"

He stopped just as he was about to toss the can and bag back on the floor until he noticed the large label on the other side. Though the paper was crumpled and the text on the label was faded, the pharmacy label in the corner was quite clear. He skimmed the lettering quickly until he found the prescription name of Plendil. Next to the name in parenthesis is read "felodipine."

"Min," he called out coolly, though his heart was beating at a maddeningly quick pace. "Look at this."

He handed her the bag, making sure that his finger was just underneath the description for her to see. She read it carefully, raising her voice just loud enough so that Danny could hear the warning about grapefruit interaction printed in the section below.

"That's my grandmother's," Morgan explained with a cracked voice. "She's got a few heart issues and really bad hypertension."

Mindy held up the bag after separating it from the can and held it out to Captain Shulman, who already had a clear evidence bag open and ready receive. "It's funny," she said in a light voice. "Josh's body had an awful lot of felodipine in his system. Coincidence, you think?"

Morgan didn't answer – not that Danny expected him to – and Mindy didn't push for a response. She simply deposited the paper bag into the plastic one and moved onto the trunk. She opened it wide and found it to be absolutely empty. Unfazed, she pulled out a small flashlight from her pocket and began to inspect closely. Danny turned to Morgan.

"You know, Mr. Daniels medical records showed that he had pretty exemplary health. Why do you think he'd take the Plendil?"

"I don't know," Morgan answered without elaboration, simply shrugging and standing with his arms crossed over his chest. It didn't take long for Mindy to beckon him over to where she was standing. Once there, she shined a light on the hard plastic casing in the far right corner. Though the material was pitch black, they could still see a purplish metallic streak about the width of a piece of Scotch tape. Underneath it was a small dark brown spot along the edge of the gray felt lining.

"Interesting," Danny murmured. Just then, Charlie and Gwen exited the apartment and were walking purposefully towards Mindy and Danny. Charlie was clinging to a rolled up evidence bag.

"Take a look at this," he said, unrolling the bag as Gwen positioned herself directly next to Morgan. Inside the bag was a small, shining pocket knife. He flipped to the side with engraving in the handle and held it out for both of them to see. "This was underneath his mattress. The blade is clean, but if you look in the engraving there's dried blood. Look even closer, you'll see a small strand of hair. It's mostly matted down with the blood, but the tip looks blond."

When all three detectives turned to Morgan, he refused to look any of them in the eye. Danny walked over until he was standing directly in front of him. "Do you have anything to say?"

Everyone waited silently. Morgan said nothing. Finally Danny moved behind him while grabbing one of his wrists. Gwen assisted in grabbing his other wrist as Danny unclipped a pair of handcuffs from his waist.

"Morgan Tookers," he announced as he secured the metal over his wrist with a click, "You're under arrest for the murder of Josh Daniels."

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