Morning on Downing Street was like any morning in any suburb in the
nation. Lights came on as the sun began to rise. People in various states of dress
stumbled out and picked up the daily paper to read while drinking their morning coffee.
Inside the stakeout house, Jim and Blair were in the kitchen, following just a slightly
modified version of their normal morning routine. Jim was sitting the table, dressed in
his robe, reading the paper and drinking coffee. Blair was standing at a counter, also
dressed in his robe, leaning his head on a blender full of green stuff. Megan stood behind
him watching him pour the thick green stuff into a cup. She, too, was dressed in a robe
"Mmmm, I love breakfast. Favorite meal of the day. What is that, Sandy?"
"It's an algae shake. I have one every morning." Blair held up the cup for her inspection.
Megan took a quick sniff, made a face and backed away. "How do you get used to the smell?" She opened the refrigerator, looking at the relatively bare shelves.
"You don't," Jim put in from behind his paper.
"Ahhh, Steak. Much better for breakfast."
"Ah! Bad choice. That would be mine." Jim looked up from his paper and grinned.
"Okay, how about ." Megan put the steak back, and pulled out a pineapple.
Blair sat at the table beside Jim. "Don't even think about it. That's my lunch."
"We're one big happy family here. Can't we just share?" Megan asked innocently, shutting the fridge door and stepping towards the table.
"Well," drawled Blair, obviously dropping into lecture mode and just as obviously teasing, "In the family unit structure -- you being the mom -- why don't you go do some shopping?"
"We'll need Cousin Jim's gold card," replied Megan smoothly, joining in on Blair's game.
Jim, in full character, noisily folded the paper and played along. "You've already exhausted your allowance?"
"Mm-hmm. On floor wax and nine-millimeter shells," Megan deadpanned.
At that moment, a knock on the sliding glass door startled all three occupants of the house. Blair glanced at Jim, wondering why he had not heard anyone approach. Phil and Susan Tanner stood outside. Phil was carrying a big fruit basket and Susan was waving .
Megan opened the door. "Hi."
Jim stood. " Morning. you're Phil and Susan Tanner, right? Bud pointed you out the other day."
"That's right. Can we come in for a sec?" answered Susan.
Phil held up the basket. "Just wanted to drop this off. Our way of saying 'Welcome to the neighborhood.'"
"Very kind. Thank you," answered Jim
"You must be Jim. Bud said that was your name."
"That's me. Uh, this is my...wife, Megan."
"Hi." Megan nodded.
Jim pointed at Blair. "and my cousin, Blair."
Susan walked over to Blair. "He's adorable," she purred, causing Blair to turn an intense shade of red. "I'd like to have one of you at our house."
"Yeah. We rent him out on weekends," Jim teased.
"Oh... Better than a video, huh, Phil?"
"Uh-huh...Yeah," Phil answered then laughed at Blair's nervous chuckle.
"Well, we should go." Susan wrapped her arm around her husband's waist as he turned toward the door. "We just wanted to drop this off and hope to see all of you again soon. Bye."
"Thanks for stopping by." Jim shut the glass door.
"I feel violated." Blair shuddered.
"Thank God for neighbors. I'd starve to death with just the two of you to depend on." Megan dug into the fruit basket.
"Man, do you believe those two?" Blair shuddered again.
"Well, Bud Flint did say they were swingers."
"Jim, my mom was active in the 'swinger' era and never ran into anyone like that."
"Hmm... maybe we can all go out dancing one night," Megan speculated, then stared at the look Jim and Blair gave her. "Or maybe not."
Jim, Blair and Megan spent the day taking turns watching the activity of the Downing cul-de-sac from the window of the upstairs den. It seemed to Blair Megan and Jim spent as little time as possible together, calling him in to 'relieve' one or the other of them. If this continued, they would not work out their differences as Simon had ordered.
Jim joined Blair. Looking out the window, Jim said, "It's 3:00."
"Yeah. He left the same time yesterday. I guess he's on the night shift," Blair replied and picked up a folder from the desk.
"He did that same sort of work in L.A., right?"
"Yeah. According to this, his company offered him a lot of coin to stay but he moved his family up here for the better life, you know. I don't think he's our witness." Blair looked up for the folder, and watched as Katie washed her van in her driveway, "Hmm, You know, I think I should go over there and...give her a hand, you know. See if I can find out some more stuff about her."
Jim shook his head in fond exasperation, "Like the moth to the light. Why don't we flip to see who helps her out?"
"'Cause you're a married man, remember?" Blair grinned.
"You're on a stakeout, remember?"
"So? I mean, uh...come on. Give me this one. She makes me feel good." He frowned at Jim's skeptical expression. "Not like that, but I..I understand some of what she's facing you know?" He headed out the door, Jim admonishment of "Just be careful." sounding behind him.
Much later Megan was taking a turn at the parabolic microphone which was
aimed at the Coleman house Megan could hear the Coleman's talking.
//Tom, where are you going?//
//Over to Bud's. He's got a new gun he wants to show me.//
//I've had it with those stupid friends of yours. Go ahead. I won't be here when you get back.//
You go girl, Megan thought, That Bud is a real jerk.
//Honey, you don't mean that. Honey? Marilyn!//
Megan turned from the eavesdropped conversion to see Jim enter the room with a tray of food and set it on the desk.
"All right. Come and get it."
"I thought I was cooking."
"Well, the idea of you whipping up one of those, uh, vegemite stews wasn't all that appealing to me."
"I have no problem with a guy wearing the apron." Megan looked at Jim, wondering how he would take her next question. "Station gossip says you were married...for real. What was it like?"
Jim thought for a few moments, realizing the question was a serious attempt from someone who had never been married. "Well, it was great, you know, for the most part. We just kind of...we just kind of drifted apart."
Megan shook her head. "I don't think I'll ever get married. I couldn't bear it if things went bad."
Jim couldn't let that attitude go unanswered, not and respect the good times he had enjoyed with his ex-wife. "Well, you're always going to have problems come up, that's just being human, but I wouldn't trade the good times." Jim moved to the window and started listening in on some of the conversations. He was concentrating and did not hear Megan's questions over the other voices.
He heard a voice he recognized as Bud Flint's, a woman's voice obviously telling a child to get ready for bed, and a man yell for someone in the house to answer the ringing phone. Suddenly he zeroed in on a conversation between two men.
<Where are Cole and Westlake?>
<They're on their way.>
Just as suddenly, he heard Megan loudly call his name. "Jim? JIM! Are you OK?"
"Oh, I'm sorry. Were you, were you saying something?"
Megan looked out the window then back at Jim. "You're getting some kind of psychic bead on the witness, right?"
Jim inwardly sighed, but went along with the charade. "You know, Connor, you catch on very quick."
"I told Sandburg that I'd worked with psychics on cases at home, but actually, I've been to readings for myself."
"You don't think my, uh...ability is so strange, then?"
"Not at all."
Megan smiled a bit sadly. "I get it from my dad. He's an absolute fanatic about that stuff. Dragged me off to have my cards read twice a year. More after my mom died."
"I'm sorry to hear about your mom."
"That was years ago, but thanks."
"Maybe we could hook Sandburg's mom up with your dad, you know. They can, uh...get metaphysical over some, uh...ginseng tea or..."
Megan returned to the window to continue the watch. Looking out she could see into the window at Katie Johnson's house and saw Sandburg talking to Katie and her daughter. "Did you know Sandburg was next door?"
"Yeah. I told him he could go there."
"Do you think that was a good idea? What if she's the witness?"
"So we've got somebody up close and personal. What?" he questioned her frown.
"He's not a cop. What about having someone who carries a gun?"
"Connor, we can see and hear everything that is going on in this whole area. What's the big deal?"
"Look, it's bad enough we have this Bud Flint tosser who knows who we really are, but if one of us slips up, even innocently, suddenly the whole neighborhood could be onto us."
"He'll be careful. He's not stupid, you know." Jim bristled.
"I'm not saying he is, Jim, but he's not been trained for this." Megan tried to placate the angry detective.
"All right, I'll talk to him, tonight. Just let's eat, okay? And do me a favor -- don't nag. We're just pretending to be married."
Blair sat on the couch in Katie's living room. He had been over here most
of the day and he could not remember a time he had felt this good about himself and the
vow he had made after the Iris fiasco. Katie and Rachel were in the girl's room, Katie
trying to get her daughter ready for bed. Blair stood up as he heard Katie return from
down the hall.
"She has a terrible crush on you." Katie smiled. "I had to promise you'd come back tomorrow just to get her to go to sleep."
"We don't want you to be a liar. So, I'll guess I'll be seeing you tomorrow."
Katie looked at Blair hesitantly. "I...don't want to impose."
"Are you kidding me? You know, I can't remember the last time I had such a good time," Blair spoke truthfully.
"You don't have to flatter me."
"Actually, yes, I do. You see, uh, my mother raised me by herself. And when I see you with Rachel.... It sort of reminds me of how my mother and I were and, uh, I really admire the way you do it, you know. The way you do it all alone."
"She's worth it," Katie replied softly, sitting on the sofa.
"Yeah." Blair sat as well, "You know...I'd really like to do this again and not just, uh, to keep you from being a liar."
"Somehow, I'm not sure I'm the kind of woman you usually hang out with."
"What do you mean? Because you have a kid? Yeah, that's true." Blair was being honest with Katie and with himself, "But I'm willing to try new things -- you know, have new experiences."
"It's been a long time since I've even thought about dating anyone."
"It's okay. We'll go slow. We don't even have to call it dating."
The next morning on Downing Street, Jim, Blair and Megan continued their
vigil at the den window. Blair watched as Rachel drew on the driveway with sidewalk chalk.
The parabolic microphone picked up Katie's voice calling her daughter to lunch.
"Come on, Chief. You'll see her sometime again...just after we finish the job."
"Maybe...unless she's the witness and then they change her identity and ship her out of town somewhere."
"In that case, maybe it's for the best," Megan said sympathetically.
"I mean, I know I just met her and my history with women is, well...is what it is, but, uh, I feel like I could really like this one, you know? One thing I do know is when you date a woman with a kid, you're not number one anymore. You're second and that's okay with me, you know? That doesn't bother me."
Jim's cell phone interrupted the quiet, "Ellison."
"Jim, it's Simon. The rules of the game have just changed. A marshal by the name of Walter Beckman has been found murdered."
"I just spoke to his boss in DC. Evidently they suspected a leak, too. Got wind of it a few months back. They sent deputies to check it out but came up empty so they figured they were wrong. Beckman was always on their short list though. Beckman turning up dead just set off all their internal alarms."
"So, now what?"
"They want you out of there, of course."
"We'll be leaving the witness wide open."
"According to the Deputy Director in DC, they're moving to a safe house."
"How do we know they're not dirty, as well?"
"Unfortunately, we don't. Look, we've run with this as far as we can, Jim."
"Did they at least tell you who the witness is?"
"Of course not. It's still classified."
Hearing Jim's part of the conversation, Blair missed the ringing of the phone in Katie's house, but he turned his attention back when he heard her say. "Yes, marshal. What? But I thought he had several more weeks yet before he was released. He what? But she doesn't even know him. I understand. How did he find us? What do we do? Yes, marshal, I understand. We'll be ready. Thank you." Katie and her daughter were the witnesses.
Jim still had his attention on his conversation with Simon and ignored Blair.
"I want you three to pull out of there as gracefully as possible," Simon ordered. "Try not to bring too much attention to yourselves, all right?"
"All right." Jim disconnected his call and turned his attention to his partner. "What's up, Chief?"
Blair said bleakly, "It's her. The witness is Katie."
Jim laid a hand on Blair's shoulder. "I got some more bad news, buddy. We've been evicted. The feds want us out as in ASAP."
"I'm sorry, Blair, there's nothing we can do, the feds are taking over." Jim steered his partner toward the door. "We have to pack."