Dusk was falling on the normally peaceful land. The heavy cloud cover had pretty much kept the sunset for the rest of the world, but a little still showed on the horizon and added a nice touch of welcome color to the landscape.
"Okay, Poteno?" Loren asked as she drove along yet another stretch of boring road. Nature was beautiful but even the golden arches or something would be nice to break up the scenery when trees and road kill are the only thing to see every day.
Snow or not snow, that was the question in this remote area that might as well be the Canadian version of the south of nowhere.
Receiving no reply, the blonde tried again, "Porado? Palato? Potado?"
Rolling her eyes, Kass tucked an errant brunette lock behind an ear as she repeated herself for the nth time since the conversation had initially begun, "Potadeia. Got that? Po - ta - deia."
"Right! Potadio!" Loren stated proudly. "And that's where Gabriel's from."
"Gab...rielle is from, say it with me now, Po - ta - deia," the dark haired woman fumed.
When you're police officers who live in a Canadian town that seems to have a bar and pizza place for every fifth citizen and not much else, there wasn't much to talk about beyond the latest lending library's, otherwise known as the dentist's/doctor's office, offerings and TV. And, when you have a choice of three channels on TV, one of them being mostly snow, then there wasn't much else to talk about from there either.
However, visiting Kass' house one night, Loren had watched one of Kass' favorite shows and they'd had a long discussion about it afterwards. During the conversation, Kass had defended the death defying leaps, thrilling back flips and general awesomeness of the main character with Loren nodding in one of those ways that made you know she was thinking, 'What in the hell is wrong with this woman?'
The discussion still continued days after. Loren was completely befuddled as to why Kass found the numerous plot holes and story devices that were used so obviously that captivating and Kass had tried hard to provide long suffering answers to all of the questions.
"Finally!" Kass exclaimed as Loren finally pronounced everything correctly.
Loren reasoned, "Well, it's not like I've ever watched any of these before you know! I mean, they are pretty strange names in a pretty strange story."
"It's called fantasy, Loren. You know? Fantasy?"
"Well, if you wanna talk fanta..." Loren's declaration was stopped by the sudden appearance of a hand over her mouth. "Dnmmn wnmma hnem?"
"No! I do not want to hear about your fantasies. Thank you!" Kass replied quickly to the obvious question and then removed her hand with a grimace as the palm suddenly became wet. "Gross!"
Green eyes twinkled as Loren responded, "Oh, puleeze. A little spit never hurt anyone. Plus, it was your own fault!"
Mentally cataloging the many methods of painful death for her partner, Kass almost missed her next statement.
"Have you heard of the saying, 'He who lives without folly isn't so wise as he thinks?'"
Bright blue eyes blinked. After over a year with her partner, Kass still wasn't sure if she would ever get used to the way the blonde's mind switched gears and the amazing amount of trivia packed into that blonde head. "What?"
Tapping her fingers against the steering wheel in a beat only she could hear, Loren smiled. It was always sooooo much fun to pester her far too serious partner and it happened to be a day that she'd been looking forward to for over a month. "I think a Frenchman said that. Probably because they're the reason we have Fool's Errands too."
"Fool's Errands," Kass repeated, wondering where on earth this was going. She waited a few moments to see if there would be more and then, with a resigned sigh that bespoke her almost certain knowledge that she would regret it, asked, "And?"
Still tapping her finger against the wheel, Loren replied with a mischievous grin, "Just filling your mind with information, partner."
"Oh, you're filling it with something all right," mumbled the tall woman.
"Why Kass, I'm hurt." As she spared a second to flash a look at her partner, one of Loren's hands briefly left the wheel to rest on her chest in a dramatic fist before returning to grip the hard plastic. "Here I am trying to expand your horizons and you wound me with your words. How can this be?"
"Spare me. Everyone knows that you have to do pranks before noon on April Fool's Day, so don't even bother trying to drive me nuts thinking you'll be up to something. Not that you don't drive me nuts anyway."
"Then I'm doing my job very well. Thanks!" Loren replied with a smirk.
The icy glare was immediate and so was the shake of Kass' dark head, even as she turned away to look out the side window and felt her lips twitch with a hidden grin. As she focused on the quickly passing scenery, her long braid scratched against the back of her dark uniform and she couldn't help but wonder how she'd managed to anger someone enough that they'd paired her with this imp in police officer's clothing.
They'd been put together a little over a year before and Kass couldn't really recall not being without her slight blonde partner or, truth be told, wanting to be without her. Over the time, she had easily recognized that their partnership was very good in so many ways. They played off each other perfectly and fit together as a team like nobody she'd ever worked with before.
Even though the trouble that Loren seemed to manage to get them into, both on and off duty, was adding up a bill she didn't think she'd ever be able to pay off, the dark haired woman was happier than she'd ever been before in her job. Not that she'd ever admit it to her partner. Especially not to someone with Loren's odd preference in music for dead singers and complete lack of taste in TV.
"... going today?"
"What?" Kass swung her ahead back around, realizing she'd missed part of Loren's question due to her deep thoughts.
Loren looked over and gave Kass a mock glare. "Not paying attention to me again, partner?"
"As if I have a choice?" Kass replied without thinking and then winced, knowing that Loren would ding her but good for that comment.
"Oooooh. It's like that is it? Well then, I could go and request that nice new guy, what was his name ... Ted? Oh, and you can have Harris back. I know you'd like that. You two get along so well together."
Water and oil seemed a good description of just how well Kass got along with Harris. Harris' dislike of Kass was very well known, in fact his dislike of anyone whose body contained the wrong combination of chromosomes was well known. Even Loren's habitually sunny nature hadn't broken through Harris' absolutely opposite demeanor. In fact, Kass wasn't sure it hadn't made things worse. "Maybe you'd be lucky enough to get Harris, think about that."
Loren grinned. "I can break him!"
'Well, she's right there. If anyone has a chance to get through to the jerk, it's Loren. Still...' "Yeah, but would you tell him about your fantasies?" Kass queried.
"Oooh, we're back on fantasy ground. Is it Harris that's giving you inspiration, partner? Eh?"
Kass groaned and laid her head back against the seat. "Give me some credit, would you?"
Recognizing that she was probably approaching her partner's tease limit, Loren steered them both to safer ground. "Loads and loads of credit, partner. So, Brad mentioned that we need to be back by eight. What's up?"
Kass let out a relieved breath at her reprieve. "Car sting. It's my turn to be the mark," Kass explained, never particularly happy when she had to be the person who has to have a very loud argument with her 'boyfriend' on her cell phone and leaves a very functional car sitting, keys in the ignition, by the side of the road for someone to steal.
The fact that the car was equipped with a remote control switch off device that also locked the person or persons stealing it inside was definitely a big plus, though. Kass did admit that she enjoyed their faces when that happened.
Green eyes lit up immediately at her partner's admission. "Too cool! It's been a while since it's been your turn. About time!"
"Yeah, yeah. I know. It's just that you always catch more. Probably because you're so much shorter than I am," sniffed Kass, knowing that her partner's five and a half feet was quite respectable but also knowing how much it niggled Loren to be reminded of their height difference.
"Hey! Not all of us can be Goliaths, you know," Loren responded to the baiting and then almost slapped herself for falling into that trap. She was well aware that her almost six foot partner didn't ding her often but, when she did, that it was usually because Kass' tease cup was overflowing. In this case, Loren had to admit that she'd been teasing her since they'd started the shift and decided, for her own safety if nothing else, to behave ... for a while.
Further discussion was thankfully averted by their radio crackling to life....
'Jesus, it's quiet enough to hear a bug cough,' Loren mused privately as her breath tracked her progress through the woods with billowing clouds of annoyed air. Stopping next to a huge tree she was sure she'd admire if there weren't several reasons why she didn't want to admire a stupid damned piece of wood at that moment, she tried to take stock of the situation.
She and Kass had split up almost an hour before to try and flush out the person they suspected of jacking, otherwise known as poaching, the full grown moose they had found soon after they'd arrived on the scene. Finding the remains of animals was never her favorite thing, however, when the magnificent creature had been hunted out of season, that simply was not acceptable and she was determined to help mete out justice.
Radio contact with Kass had been sparse, at best, and, as she ran a hand through hair decorated with sticks and leaves, she began to seriously regret her choice of direction. There had been a tiny blood trail leading off in the direction Kass took but the blonde had felt an experienced poacher would probably try and lead them astray. Especially when they'd obviously just missed the person, as evidenced by the pungent mist still rising from the still warm moose.
Rubbing her hand through her hair to try and free some of the captive remains of various bits of fauna she'd picked up in her wandering, she was cursing silently to herself when something caught her eye. Loren's green eyes drilled a hole through the blackness as she searched once more for the light that had caught her attention.
Squinting, not that she would ever admit to it, she moved slightly to the side and spotted the light in the distance again. It appeared to be framed by a square window frame and she realized that there must be a cabin attached to the window. 'Yes!' She pumped her clenched fist in celebration.
Shielding the bright beam of the flashlight with her fingers so that it only provided enough light for her to see the ground and wouldn't warn the cabin's occupants, she moved closer to the cabin carefully. Even with the flashlight, it was impossible to move quietly with the leaves and branches that littered the ground. The occasional rock poked its head from the ground but they were usually too high for her to use to walk on, so she decided to just move as quietly as she could.
As she approached the cabin she noted the beaten up, rusting pick-up truck sitting in the makeshift driveway. 'Crap,' she cursed, immediately recognizing the license plate and truck as one she'd seen before. It belonged to one of the frequent flyers in their station, Brais Zaccardelli. An all around punk trouble maker from a long line of punk troublemakers. Never one to keep out of trouble for long, he had a file as long as her arm and one of the things he'd been caught doing before was jacking moose.
Turning the radio down, she whispered her location to Kass and waited only long enough to get a response that Kass had heard her before she wormed her way through the bushes toward the front of the cabin. One hand trailing against the side of the wooden structure, Loren rounded the corner carefully and then took several steps back in surprise when she found herself face to face with Zaccardelli.
They both stood frozen for a long moment; Loren taking in his bloody clothes and Zaccardelli trying to figure out who the hell this wild woman of the forest was.
It hit him suddenly. "Shit!" he exclaimed as he turned to run.
Loren immediately sprang forward, wrapping her arms around the man's legs. As he struggled to free himself, Loren held on tighter and was rewarded by a mouthful of dirt when the man's heel kicked up dirt in her face. "Dammit!" she spat out, along with bits of the dirt she'd just inhaled.
"Police officer! Knock it off!" Loren yelled as she pushed herself up quickly and jumped to stand in front of the still prone man. "Stay!" she commanded, one finger pointing at him in a well practiced canine order. Blowing a breath of air to clear a bit of dirt from her face, she simply shook her head at the state of her uniform. It was filthy, one button was hanging by a thread and she'd be lucky if there wasn't repair work on the cloth in her future.
Zaccardelli's widened brown eyes watched the blonde in trepidation as the cop muttered quietly and brushed herself off. He couldn't catch what she was saying but only the fact that he knew that the wacky woman was a cop was keeping him there.
"Right!" Loren stated after she'd taken a breath or two and spoken the required legalese. "We're going inside and you're going to change clothes. We need them as evidence."
"No way, bitch!" he yelled petulantly as he sat up.
"That's Officer Bitch or, preferably, Officer James to you." Then, folding her arms across her chest, Loren simply stared at the man with one of the icy glares her partner was so very good at.
Brais' experience with Loren told him she wasn't going to budge but his ego was having a huge problem with this ... woman telling him what to do. Problem was he knew he'd have no chance at escaping and her Amazon partner was almost certainly close by. 'Fine!' he thought as his less than stellar intelligence came up with just the plan.
Loren's brow wrinkled as Zaccardelli started to remove his boots. "We'll do that inside. C'mon."
The man didn't answer, simply slipped one boot and then the other off. He stood them next to each other and then began on his socks.
"Hey, as much as I like to see how much darning needs to be done on your socks, let's do this inside, eh?"
When Loren moved to grab his arm, Zaccardelli shook her off and threw his less than pristine socks at her. "You want my clothes, then you get them now."
Loren stepped back in amazement, wondering if the socks might qualify as a deadly weapon and, after catching another whiff, deciding that they definitely could. She watched as the sweater, flannel shirt and t-shirt underneath came off next. Not quite sure when she'd lost control of the situation, she tried one more time. "Look, you're going to freeze. Let's go inside and get some clean clothes."
His response was to stand up and slide his zipper down.
Not really believing what was happening, Loren's poker face lived up to its stellar reputation and she simply started collecting clothes from the ground. When the blood splattered pants were pooled around his ankles, Loren ordered, "Move over against the cabin wall."
With a squaring of his jaw, Zaccardelli tucked his thumbs under the waist band of his underwear and paused for a few moments as a clue tried to find a way to his brain. Unfortunately for Loren, it didn't.
Loren couldn't decide if it was fear or revulsion that had her standing there in shock as the man began to slide his underwear down. She finally got out, "Don't do that! Just get over by the wall."
His response was to let the underwear drop to the ground and carefully step out of his pooled clothes. Then, following Loren's pointed arm, he winced his bare footed way to the wall.
The blonde shook her head. "My, my, Brais, this gives new meaning to exposure to the elements. Of course, I'll make a note of just how cooperative you were in my report. Now, if you're done, we'll go inside and get you some new clothes."
"No," he spoke through slightly chattering teeth.
"Well, I can't take you in like this. So, we're going inside and you're going to put on some clothes."
"No, and you can't make me."
Taking a dip back into pre-school days wasn't on Loren's agenda for the evening and so a decision was made. "Fine. Like this it is." She reached for her radio, turning up the volume again and advised Kass that she had the man in custody and her plan to head down the dirt track that he called a driveway.
Of course, she wasn't about to voice the fact that, unless there was only one path to follow, she wasn't really sure which way to go after that. Especially not on the radio. She knew approximately where she was, even if it wasn't anywhere near where she should've been. She must have well... sort of lost her sense of direction along the way. Somehow.
The fact that she couldn't find her sense of direction if someone handed it to her in a paper bag had never really been a big concern. Well, until a couple of months ago when she went for a walk around the block and ended up so lost that she finally had to call the office. Thankfully, Kass had been there and, even though the tall woman had seen right through Loren's attempts to cover it up; she had been very good about the whole thing. Mostly.
If you didn't count the cake decorated to look like a compass that had been sitting in the middle of her desk the next day. Or the compass points that seemed to appear occasionally on her desk. Granted, most of the little additions to her desk came from the other people in the office, she was sure. But still. Kass had to have told someone, right?
In recompense for her partner's unusual lack of discretion, she'd specifically and very quietly arranged for Kass to have to be the person on sting duty the next time it came up. Perfect timing, she thought. Today was April Fool's Day. Who cared if it was after noon, that was a silly rule anyway. So, she'd called in several favors from the mechanics and some little tricks would be waiting for Kass when she got into the car. The mechanics had been very cute, trying to figure out different things they could do. Although, it might've helped that Loren neglected to mention who the trick would be played on. Even so, there was nothing big enough to cause problems, delay anyone too much or embarrass Kass much but enough to get her point across.
Kass blew out a breath of relief when she spotted her partner's bright flashlight beam cutting a swath through the inky darkness. Sure that her partner could easily handle herself, she was still much happier when the blonde was in sight. Breaking into a careful jog along the muddy track, the tall woman slid to a stop as she rounded a corner and looked at the pair.
She blinked, unable to come up with words for a few seconds. Her partner looked like she'd been communing with nature, for days. Loren's uniform was streaked with dirt on the front, her hair ... well, unless a bird had decided to nest in it, seemed to be sprouting leaves and even her face was smudged.
However, what caused the eyebrows to rise was the state of the prisoner. A jaybird had nothing on this guy. Not at all sure what was going on, she gave Loren a look that asked, 'What in the hell is going on?' but only said, after a long look at Zaccardelli, "Well, hope it's true that things really do shrivel in the cold."
Loren compressed her lips on a snort, thanking her partner with a smile for not asking the question that was obviously on her mind. "Mister Zaccardelli decided that rather than dirty up some more clothes, he'd give me the ones he had on and just go au natural for the evening. I did try to persuade him otherwise but he was quite insistent."
"I see." Kass nodded, her eyebrows still high. "Well, luckily the car isn't far away. Let's go." Waiting until the man had passed her, the dark haired woman fell in step with her partner. "So, exactly how did you end up over here? I thought you were going south?" she asked quietly.
"I uh ... saw a light and it led me to him."
"You saw a light. Through the woods. A kilometer or two away."
Loren winced internally at the literally dripping disbelief in her partner's tone. "Well, you know, I had been looking in different directions. Just lucked out."
"Lucked out." Oddly enough, even knowing that Loren had almost certainly got turned around in the dark, Kass could accept that answer. She was well aware that Loren seemed to have some type of internal system that caused her to 'luck out' where others failed miserably. Truth was, the blonde frequently managed to be in the right place at the right time. Even though those places sometimes turned out to be pretty dangerous, it had always worked out.
"And nature boy?" Kass asked, nodding at the man plodding ahead of them.
"I tried to get him to put clothes on but ..."
"I see," she replied and began to calmly pick the foreign matter from her partner's hair. "Camouflage?"
Loren's head turned slowly toward her partner as they walked along. When she knew the tall woman was looking, she mouthed, "Bitch!"
The only response was a quirky grin.
Filling out the reports on Zaccardelli had taken Loren quite a while. Answering the very loaded questions of why he'd arrived wrapped in a blanket, thank god they'd had one in the car, took even longer. It had, unfortunately, given her time to rethink her idea about playing the trick on Kass, recognizing the fact that the tricks would probably bother her reticent partner somewhat.
In fact, her partner had been so good about the whole Zaccardelli thing and hadn't really teased her much about it at all. Actually, Kass had neatly deflected several off color comments directed at Loren. It all added up to the fact that Loren had felt guilty. Very guilty.
Guilty enough that she'd tried to contact the mechanics to see if they could turn off the tricks they'd planned. Unfortunately, they'd already left for the day and she had been faced with the knowledge that she'd either have to go through with it or warn Kass. She'd batted that one back and forth all through the meeting they'd had about the sting until she'd simply run out of time.
That led her to the jog in progress. Trying to catch up to Kass to warn her about the car before she got in it.
Loren ignored the first hail. "Kass!"
"Harris, I'm sorry, I have to catch Kass real quick," Loren replied quickly.
"Nielsen can wait, I can't, James. Get over here."
"Bu..." Loren grimaced as she watched Kass open the door. The first trick would ... Loren stopped. The first gag should have happened already. When Kass opened the drivers' door, the passenger's door should have opened by itself. Cocking her head to the side, she watched in confusion as Kass turned on the engine and the windshield wipers didn't turn on, as they should have.
The blonde watched as Kass backed away with nothing at all out of the ordinary happening there either. Well, nothing except Kass looking at her with that all too familiar grin painted across her lips and the wink that followed as the dark haired woman pulled out of the parking lot.
'Son of a ... She got me!' Loren fumed to herself, completely forgetting that not two seconds before she'd been furiously trying to stop her partner from starting the car.
A few fruitless hours later, the entire group stood together in the parking lot of a mall close by to the last attempt at catching any car thieves. It was late; they'd had no luck and they were all more than a little unhappy with how the evening had gone.
Worse, Loren hadn't yet had the chance to talk to Kass and apologize for the tricks she'd planned, nor find out how her partner had found out about the tricks she'd planned. Two of the guys lit up cigarettes and, as the nicotine began to tinge the air, the blonde watched Kass move away from the group to lean against the car she'd been driving that evening. 'Ugh,' she thought to herself, knowing she really had to follow her partner and talk to her.
Gathering up the strings of her courage and using them to move her wooden legs, Loren moved stiffly over to the car parked next to Kass'.
Kass eyed her partner moving toward her and kept the smile she felt inside. She knew she should be mad at her partner but it was rare that she managed to surprise her quite as much as she obviously had earlier. Plus, Loren was giving sheepish a complete meaning at the moment and it was far too cute for words.
Loren leaned up against the royal blue car she'd been in for the past few hours and looked down at her toes.
Silence reigned for a few moments.
"So, did ya know that it was a Pope who sorta brought about April Fool's Day?" the blonde asked a little nervously.
"Really," Kass stated, not quite ready to let her partner off the hook.
"Yeah. The French used to celebrate the new year on April first but then a Pope or maybe King Charles instituted a new calendar in the fifteen hundreds so that the year began on January first. But, some didn't believe it and still celebrated on April first instead of January first. So, they called them April Fool's," the blonde rattled on. Trying to think of things to pass the time whilst she figured out what to do.
"Loren," Kass said in a deep tone, obviously startling her partner who looked over at her in surprise, "How in the hell do you remember all of this stuff when you can't even remember what you said last week usually?"
"I do too! What are you talking about?"
"Oh, okay. What did you tell that new guy last week about his uniform?"
'His uniform?' Loren wondered. "Uh. That it looked nice?" she guessed.
"No, you told him that if his shirts were starched any more that he wouldn't be able to move in them and gave him laundry suggestions. Then you made him blush talking about his neatly pressed pants."
"What about what you told Lanier the other day?"
Kass just shook her head wryly in mute support of what she'd been saying.
"Well, I remember talking to Harris last week. See, I do remember," Loren argued.
Blue eyes narrowed at that memory. Kass remembered it well. Loren had tried to be friendly to Harris and he'd been a complete jerk, as usual. "Mmmhmm."
Another long silence.
"How did you know?" Loren asked quietly.
"Haven't you figured out yet that I know everything?"
"Yeah, one of your many skills, I'm sure."
"Exactly," Kass agreed.
"Seriously, how did you know?"
"I shouldn't tell you, you know."
Loren sighed. "I know. I'm sorry. I got this idea to get you back for that compass stuff last month."
"Get me back?" Kass puzzled.
"Yeah, for telling the guys. I know, I know. It was stupid. Plus, you know I like to have a little fun on April Fool's."
"Mmm... but I didn't think that applied to your partner."
"I did try to get the guys to take the stuff off but they'd already left and I did try to catch ..." A deep sigh. "It was a mistake."
"Well, actually ... yeah. Especially since I didn't tell the guys anything."
Eyes widening, Loren asked, "What? But how ..."
"Loren, hate to tell you but your ability to get lost is legendary. Plus, you must've told the operator something because she was laughing about where you'd ended up when she found me in the copy room that day."
"Ugh," groaned Loren. "I forgot abo... Yeah, yeah, I know. If it makes things any better, they were just silly tricks and I had them fix it so that I could quickly fix them back so we didn't really waste any time or cause you much trouble."
"I'm gonna be paying for this for a long time, aren't I?"
"I'll buy your morning coffee for the next month?" Loren asked and then cringed as incredulous blue eyes looked over at her. "Um, and other things to be determined?" she added.
"That's better," Kass calmly replied.
Loren sighed. "So, how did you know?"
A snort. "You were talking to them about it when I came looking for you to tell you that your mom was on the phone. I just went back and took a message instead, so you wouldn't suspect."
"And then you talked to them," Loren sighed. "Dirk's so in lust with you that he'd do anything you wanted anyway."
"Is that why you didn't tell them who it was for?"
"Yeah, figured they'd never do it otherwise."
"Well, I wouldn't go looking for help from Dirk anytime soon, he's not happy with you."
"I bet," Loren breathed out. "I'm gonna be paying for this for a long time."
Kass simply nodded.
"Hey, you two! You gonna work anytime today?" Harris yelled, even though the two women were less than five meters away. Being the officer in charge of the plan, Harris wasn't happy at all that the sting hadn't netted anyone and was obviously pleased to have two of his least favorite people to take it out on.
"Kass?" Loren asked softly, an idea sparking behind her green eyes.
"Yeeesss?" Kass responded, glancing over at her partner, more than somewhat wary over Loren's tone.
"Whatta you think about giving those kids who were watching you do your thing earlier something to look at? So it's not a complete waste of time?"
"Let me run with something, okay? I'll even volunteer for it myself."
Kass frowned, wanting to hear the rest of the plan before agreeing.
"Hey! Now!" Harris yelled again.
"Just trust me," Loren whispered.
Her eyes narrowing, Kass glared at Harris and then cast a glance at an expectant Loren and pushed off the car. "Am I going to regret this?" she whispered as they both walked towards Harris and the rest of the group.
"Not if I can help it," Loren replied out of the corner of her mouth and then turned her attention to Harris. "Sorry, just working something out with Kass here. I think I have a way that we can save the night. At least a little bit anyway."
Standing back to watch her partner work, Kass almost laughed as the blonde wrapped each of the men around her little finger with an ease that betrayed even the strongest of constitutions. Even Harris seemed interested, probably because it had the chance to make him look better to have come up with a plan to save face. She was sure that the brass would never find out that it wasn't his. It was a good plan, having Loren get arrested just to show the neighborhood something positive; that people were caught and arrested.
A short time later, the tall woman found herself standing next to Harris as they waited for Loren to get changed in the 'Eat 'em up' fast food restaurant on the corner. They'd driven around for a little while to find a store where they picked up a cheap sweatshirt and sandals for the small woman to change into and then had met up with the rest at the fast food joint.
As she stood there and thought more about Loren's plan; the digital clock by the bank across the street changed by a minute and caught her attention. One side of Kass' mouth began to creep upwards as an idea caught fire and burst into flame in her mind. 'Ooh, this is gonna be good.' Fiddling with a non existent spot on her sleeve, she mused aloud, "Boy, Cross is gonna be the talk of the office tomorrow isn't he?"
Somewhat startled, Harris looked over at the dark haired woman by his side. The neon sign from the restaurant cast a garish glare over the woman's skin but managed to do absolutely nothing to diminish her angled beauty. Unfortunately. "What?" he asked gruffly.
"Well, how many people can say they've arrested and cuffed Loren? It's a good thing she's such a good sport about that stuff, not sure I could live that one down with the other guys." Kass could almost see bits of information crawl their way up Harris' neck and into his mind, like little busy ants carrying bits of this and that home.
When he didn't respond, she continued, "How embarrassing, huh?"
"Mmm," he finally responded, not at all comfortable with the tall, imposing woman who eased self confidence.
She prodded just a little more with a slight chuckle. "God, I can just imagine Cross telling Blake about this tomorrow. Blake'll be so annoyed he wasn't here to do it himself."
"Yeah. Probably," Harris muttered.
'Slugs have nothing on this guy,' marveled Kass. "Luckily, Cross is a good guy. He won't use the opportunity to lord it over Loren, although ..."
Harris’ grizzled face turned in Kass' direction. "Although what?" he questioned, finally taking the bait.
"Well, you know how Loren's such a small thing. If she unleashes those dimples of hers on someone, they're likely to help her against Cross. Now there would be a mess." She took a breath, wondering if he'd ever catch a clue. "Well, I'm not going to volunteer. Cross is a nice guy but the rest of them, they're gonna be bad enough with Loren and they'd have waaayyy too much fun with me."
The ants finally delivered their goods to the right place and Harris' lumbering form moved into gear. "Cross!"
'Finally!' Kass groused to herself as Harris informed Cross that there was a change of plans and that he would be taking Cross' place.
When Cross looked over at Kass in confusion she shrugged her shoulders as if she had no clue what was going on. Further questioning by Cross was stopped as Loren's voice drifted over the parking lot.
"Guys, gonna have to do this in my boots. Teach me to buy five dollar sandals." She held up a sandal by a broken strap. "One broke as I was putting them on."
Harris turned with a nasty smirk on his face. He'd been wondering if it might not be more fun to teach Nielsen a lesson but hadn't come up with a good reason to swap out James. Now he had the perfect excuse. "Nielsen!" When the tall woman turned to him, he continued, "You're up. James can't do it with the boots, they'd know in an instant."
Grinning to herself, Kass protested just enough to make it look real and then capitulated with a heave of her shoulders. "All right, fine."
Watching Harris walk away with a definite bounce in his step, Loren moved closer to Kass and whispered, "What's going on?"
"Time for you to trust me," Kass responded with a quick twitch of her lips and a glance at her partner before she walked towards the car she'd be driving.
"No problem," Loren said quietly to herself, meaning every word and knowing her sharp eared partner would hear.
In a matter of minutes, the group had picked the place and Kass was looking in her rear view mirror as Harris pulled her over. Quite sure that he'd have a maniacal look on his face if she could see it, she smiled herself as several people in the area stopped what they were doing to watch the action.
Moving the side mirror to get the best view, Kass watched as Harris exited his car with his bravado firmly in place. 'Jesus, a bad John Wayne imitation in a bad suit.'
"Get out of the car!"
"Christ, has it been so long that he's forgotten procedure?" Loren fumed as she listened to the goings on in stereo through the microphones on Kass and Harris.
Cross said quietly; glad that the backup team couldn't be heard unless they wanted to be, "I think he's just in a hurry to get to the good bits."
Flashing green eyes regarded the other officer intently.
"Hey, hey. She's a big girl and knows what she's doing, it'll be fine," Cross soothed quickly, his hands up in the air.
"Mm," Loren replied and turned her attention back to the action.
Kass ignored Harris' order with a shake of her head at his lack of procedure.
"Out now!" Harris shouted again.
Slowly, Kass opened the door of the car and swung long legs out of the vehicle, so that her feet rested on the sidewalk as she still sat inside the car. When she didn't stand up, as Harris clearly expected her to do, a laugh almost escaped at the man's perplexed look. 'Oh no, jerk. You're gonna work for this.'
"Stand up and turn to stand against the car, hands spread."
Harris blinked, "What?"
"You go, girl!" Loren chuckled and high fived Cross as they sat glued to the scene.
"You want me, you come get me," Kass answered somewhat loudly.
Harris' eyes almost bugged out of his face and he jerked his head to the side to try and convey to Nielsen that he wanted her out of the car ... NOW. When she didn't react to his non verbal actions, he tried the other option, "Get out of the frigging car, now!"
Kass couldn't help the twitch to her lips and noticed immediately that Harris had caught the look on her face. 'Oops.' Realizing that she better move or risk Harris getting even more annoyed than what he was going to be, Kass stood slowly. As if she wasn't facing a police officer who was about to arrest her, she spent a few moments brushing off her pants and straightening her blouse before asking, "Yes?"
"Turn around and spread your hands on the roof."
Quite enjoying Harris' red face, she put her hands on her hips and asked, "What are you arresting me for?"
Harris' jaw dropped but he recovered and looked around, as if to gauge who was close and whispered angrily, "Just turn around and do this!"
Calmly, Kass replied quietly, making sure her voice didn't carry beyond them, "We have to make it look good, don't we?" With a clear voice, she asked, "I haven't done anything, what's going on?"
Almost growling, Harris went along with it, "You're under arrest for stealing this car."
Cross chuckled as Loren shook her head and wondered out loud, "When's the last time he did this?"
Kass folded her arms across her chest and gazed at Harris placidly. "No, I'm not."
Fury inflamed Harris' cheeks. "Yes, you are!"
Kass merely looked at Harris for a long moment and then, in a move that almost defied all the known laws of science, she was past him and running down the road. "No. I'm not!" she yelled over her shoulder.
After a shock induced delay, Harris took off after Kass; his jacket billowing as he ran. "What the hell are you doing?" he bellowed.
"Omigod," Loren laughed.
"I don't believe she did that!" said Cross at the same time.
Kass let her long legs loose on the pavement for a few seconds and then looked back to see Harris so far behind her that she'd be in the next town before he got to the end of the street. Slowing down, she suddenly realized that several people appeared to have formed a cheer leading section for her.
"That's right, girl, you teach him to mess with you!" "Hey legs, come run my way!" "Need some help, honey?" came floating after Kass and she had to laugh.
"Goddammit, Nielsen! Slow down!" Harris puffed into his mic.
Kass obliged, slowing down a bit as if she'd twisted something on an uneven part of the pavement but as Harris approached closer, one arm stretched out to grab her shoulder, she suddenly sped up again to the delight of the onlookers who cheered her again.
"Niel.. sen," Harris was clearly out of breath, "Knock ... this shit ... off!"
Realizing she'd pushed the fun to the limits but not quite willing to give Harris any satisfaction, the dark haired woman grabbed her leg again and stopped dead.
'Shit!' Harris thought to himself and tried to stop, only to find himself starting to fall forward as he overbalanced.
After neatly sidestepping the out of control Harris, Kass saw the danger as the man began to topple forward and reached out a hand to grab his jacket. As soon as Harris had his legs back but before anyone could really notice what she'd done, Kass released the jacket and stood calmly by, hands at her sides.
Noting, with more than a hint of disgust, that the woman before him wasn't even breathing a tiny bit hard, Harris panted, "Wall." And swiped a hand at Kass to indicate where she should move.
Resigned to the fact that she'd had her fun, Kass put both hands against the wall and stood in the classic position as her cheerleaders assisted with several off color comments and boos. Even though she'd been kind enough to give him the keys to her car without any problem, Harris wasn't exactly gentle in his handcuffing procedure but she had enjoyed herself far too much to let it bother her.
As they walked back to the car, several comments flew around. "Shoulda kept running, babe!" "Hey, copper, need some oxygen?" "Awww man, why'd you let him catch you?"
Still breathing heavily, Harris scowled at the crowd and Kass as well. "Why..." He took another labored breath. " ... The hell did you do that?"
Bending her head to get into the back seat of Harris' car, Kass replied, "I thought we needed to make it at least a little bit realistic." She paused for a second and then said, with devastating innocence, "I really didn't think you'd have a problem catching me. Was I wrong?"
His pride somewhat more than deflated, Harris stared at Kass as if to discern her sincerity and then simply muttered as he slammed the door.
Cross and Loren arrived just a few minutes later, with Cross exiting the vehicle to get the keys to Kass' car from Harris and Loren simply sitting in her vehicle marveling at her partner's own version of April Fool's on Harris. One glance at Kass had gotten her a quirky grin and that had almost made her laugh and, since Harris was close by, that was obviously not a good idea. So, she kept her eyes firmly on Cross and then followed the other two cars when they pulled away.
As they parked in the restaurant car park again, Cross and Loren were out of their vehicles before Harris had even opened his door. Using the opportunity to get away from the group, he spoke up, "Go ahead and get her out. I'm going to get a drink." Then he headed into the restaurant.
"I got it," Loren said to Cross.
"You sure?" he asked.
The blonde smiled. "Yep, I can hear your stomach rumbling from here. Go grab something, we'll be fine."
Turning to open the rear door for Kass, Loren shook her head and helped her partner from the car. "Did you enjoy that?" she asked, eyes twinkling merrily as she removed the handcuffs from her partner's wrists.
"Oh yeah," Kass grinned and shook her hands a bit in an unconscious reaction to being restrained.
"I should be mad at you for taking my fun away, you know!"
"I didn't have time to fill you in on the plan and figured Harris would go for it more if it were me," Kass replied, knowing her partner could've probably done an even better job of having fun with Harris.
"You're probably right. Plus, I wouldn't have gotten the laugh of my life. You know, seeing him chase you with his arm out was just like watching some cartoon." Loren laughed lightly at the memory. "God, that was great."
"Glad you liked it."
"Oh yeah, definitely. That was so cool." Loren eyed her partner. "Remind me not to try and play any more tricks on your, okay? You're deadly."
"Deal," Kass replied with a grin.
Loren began to walk away, half turning to look at her partner, "C'mon, let's get the cars back and get out of here."
"Yeah, good idea. I taped ..."
Loren interrupted, "Oh god, not that show again?"
"Yeah, it's supposed to be a really good one!" Kass beamed.
Sighing dramatically, Loren asked, "Let me guess, they're going back to Potadello?"
Blue eyes widened and Kass looked over at her partner in exasperation.
Dimples emerged in all their glory as Loren grinned. "Gotcha!"
"Does it give you great pleasure to drive me nuts?" Kass asked.
The dimples and grin stayed put. "Oh yeah, definitely! But I'm just foolin' around, not even trying hard."
Groaning, Kass said, "Foolin' around?"
Lifting up her arm, Loren's grin grew even wider as she pointed at her watch. "Yep, had one minute before midnight, so figured I'd use it to good advantage."
"Uh huh," her partner replied. "So, where is Gabrielle from?"
Loren beamed. "Potadero!"