Two tired looking detectives made their way onto the elevator that morning. The shorter one turned to his partner. "I don't think I've ever heard you laugh in your sleep before. Even with my door closed, you kept waking me up, man."
"Well it's not everyday that..."
"DON'T even say it, Jim."
Ellison turned, with the most innocent look he could manage. "Who, me?" He allowed a smirk to cross his face before adding; "You ready to 'cream' some more bad guys today, Wolfgang?"
Sandburg groaned at the first of what he knew would be many puns at his expense. "You wait, you'll get your 'just desserts' too." His voice trailed off as Ellison slipped into Sentinel mode, obviously listening to something outside the elevator.
"What do you hear? Can you tell where it's coming from?" The Guide was back to all business as he helped the Sentinel focus on what had caught his attention.
Jim tilted his head as he isolated the sound. Chuckling to himself as he identified it, he turned back to Sandburg. "It's Simon, he's howling."
"Umm, Jim..." Sandburg appeared very thoughtful and rubbed his temple briefly before speaking again. "Simon's a captain. Captains don't howl. We learned that at the academy. Sergeants and lieutenants may howl but captains don't. They were very specific about that."
Ellison leaned against the elevator wall as he listened to his partner's rant. "You through?" When Sandburg just glared at him he pushed him through the opening doors. "Come on, Shecky. Let's go see what could possibly be funnier than your big arrest yesterday."
The bullpen itself was quiet; everyone's attention focused on the door to Simon's office. They too, had never heard such a reaction from their superior. Before either of them could ask what was happening, Banks spotted them and waved them into the office.
"Sir?" Jim poked his head in the door but was unwilling to venture further in until he could better gauge the tall man's mood. When Banks shook a file at them, the two men entered the office and Ellison took the proffered file. After a quick glance, he began to laugh.
"What? WHAT?" Sandburg tried to take the file, but Ellison wouldn't release it, instead he turned back to Simon.
"Is this some kind of joke, sir?"
Banks pulled off his glasses and wiped at his face. "No, apparently not, Jim. Congratulations, Sandburg."
When another bout of laughter made it impossible for the other man to answer, Ellison stepped in. "It appears that your bank robber from yesterday is wanted in Alabama. The FBI is sending two men out here to handle his extradition. He's one of their more notorious felons."
Sandburg stared at him, astounded. "You're kidding, aren't you?" His face twitched, but he kept it under control as he continued. "This may not be a very PC question, but just how dumb do they grow them down there?"
"Well, Sandburg, you and your partner are going to find out." Banks replaced his glasses and waited for Ellison to react. One, two, three...
"Sir, why do I have to be involved in this? It was Sandburg's collar."
"And now he's your official partner. You'd better hurry if you're going to get to the airport on time to pick up the agents." The captain grinned again as he handed the flight information to the taller of the two detectives in his office. "Let's see if you can get there and back with all the doors still attached to the car."
"Sir, we can't pick up two agents in my truck, we'll have to..."
"NO, you are NOT taking my car. Forget it gentlemen. Sandburg, you'd better be driving, and take a car from the motor pool."
Sandburg stepped out of the captain's office and froze, observing the officers working in Major Crime. Every one of them was wearing a shoulder holster containing a brightly colored plastic water pistol. When Ellison saw them and began to open his mouth, the younger man indicated his disapproval to his partner and just walked out of the bullpen.
Ellison was just one step behind him as the door closed. "It was just their idea of a joke, Chief."
A wink and a raised finger silenced the Sentinel. He watched as Sandburg silently counted to five, then opened the door a fraction of an inch. "Yes, Commissioner, Captain Banks is in his office. Go right on in." Sentinel hearing was not needed to hear the sound of fifteen shoulder holsters being yanked off and shoved into desk drawers.
Sandburg leaned against the car as the two men waited outside baggage claim. "Gee, this reminds me of when we were here to pick up Megan."
"Well, Chief, if one of those agents show up in a pink dingo coat we're going to leave them here, you got that?"
"Um, Jim...I don't think they have dingo in Alabama."
Much to his credit, Ellison kept a straight face. "No, but they do have a surplus of whipped cream."
"You're a real riot, Ellison." With a shake of his head, the younger man picked up the copy of the report they had brought. "There has just got to be some kind of mistake here. This guy is not a notorious criminal in anybody's book."
"Everything matched, Chief. Name, date of birth, place of birth, our Paul Newport is their Paul Newport. By the way, that was a nice piece of detective work, tracking down his ID. The sergeant in booking told me that he didn't have any identification on him, and he wasn't talking."
Not even the Sentinel heard everything his Guide had said. "What was that?"
Sandburg snorted his displeasure at having to tell the final details of his arrest of Newport. "I said that his identification was part of the evidence." At the look on his partner's face, he hastened to continue. "The note he had was written on the back of a deposit slip. That gave us his address, his landlord gave us the rest."
The only way that Ellison could keep a straight face was to not look at his partner. "The back of one of his own deposit slips?"
"Apparently he couldn't find any scrap paper." That did it, and the two men leaned against the car, helpless with laughter.
Their laughter died down as two men approached the car, each carrying an overnight case. The older one stepped up in front of Ellison and stuck out his hand.
"You Ellison? I'm Special Agent Frank Abels. This is my partner, Special Agent Norbert Trenton."
Jim quickly pulled himself together and shook the offered hand, taking a moment to appraise the two agents as his partner did the same. Abels was obviously the senior partner, with a shock of gray hair and an ample waistline to prove it. Trenton had the look of a rookie, wide-eyed and eager to prove himself, while keeping his back ramrod straight. Sandburg's whispered comment almost sent the Sentinel into another fit of laughter.
"Still got the hanger in that coat, I see."
Choking slightly, Ellison managed to open the door, while Sandburg opened the trunk for their bags.
As they pulled out of the airport parking garage, Sandburg turned and spoke to the two men in the back seat. "That was a long flight, I bet you guys are starving. What do you say we stop and grab a bite before the arraignment? How about it, Jim?"
Ellison looked at his watch before answering. "We've got four hours before the arraignment. We can go over the files just as easy while we're eating as at the station. It's fine with me."
"We really should proceed directly to your station and check in with..."
"Lunch sounds great." Abels cut in, glaring at his over-eager partner. "I'm not sure what they were serving on the plane, in fact I'm not sure even the forensics lab at Quantico could identify it."
Banks looked up from his computer just in time to see a raven-haired whirlwind, also known as Beverly Sanchez come into his office. "Hello, Beverly."
"Simon, what in the hell is this?" With a resounding ~thwack~ a folder hit his desk. Recognizing the neat handwriting of his newest detective, Banks couldn't hold back a smile.
"Oh, yes, Sandburg's first arrest. Is there a problem with the paperwork? He's usually very good with that sort of thing." This time it was Simon's turn to sit back and watch the show.
"Paperwork? PAPERWORK?" Beverly sputtered. "The paperwork is fine, but this case is ridiculous. Whipped cream and a water pistol; you can't possibly expect me to prosecute this? I'd be laughed right out of the DA's office."
Despite the fact that he really liked and respected the ADA, Simon found perverse pleasure in tormenting her. "You may not be taking this case seriously, but the FBI is. In fact, Ellison and Sandburg are at the airport right now picking up two agents. Sandburg's 'Whipped Cream Bandit' is a wanted fugitive in Alabama."
She stared at Banks, slack jawed. "You've got to be kidding. Well, if they're that short on decent criminals there, we can send them some of ours. I could probably round up a few jaywalkers and maybe a purse-snatcher to show them the seedy side of crime."
"Nope, they just want that one."
"They won't get any argument from me." With a tight smile, Beverly turned and stormed out of the office, slamming the door behind her. Simon waited until she was out of the bullpen before giving in to another bout of laughter.
Taggart stuck his head in Simon's door. "Was Ms Sanchez here about Sandburg's case? She didn't look all too pleased when she left."
It took Banks a minute to determine how best to answer the question. "Let's just say that the city of Cascade won't object to extraditing our bank robber to Alabama."
Mama Rose's Italian Restaurant
"I understand Newport was your first arrest." Abels paused as he was digging into the salad that the waiter had placed in front of him. Spearing a large crouton, he waved his fork at Sandburg.
Remembering his encounter with Ellison's rice the night before, Sandburg leaned back slightly before he answered. "Umm, yeah it was. Guess it was one of those 'right place, right time' things." His discomfort in discussing the case went unobserved by the two FBI agents.
The fork was replaced by a breadstick as Abels mopped up the last of his blue cheese dressing. His attention and the airborne food were then directed towards Ellison. "You must be pretty proud of your partner. After all..." Abels broke off and waited while a plate of eggplant parmesan was placed in front of him, "...the FBI's been after Newport for over two years."
Ellison choked slightly. "Two years? You've been after him for two years?"
Trenton broke in, not hiding his annoyance. "Not just us personally, he's robbed banks all up and down the East Coast before he moved to Alabama, he's..."
"...had a lobotomy before coming to Cascade." Fed up with the attitude of the junior FBI agent, Sandburg allowed his own annoyance to show through. "Come on, the guy is a certified idiot, the only way he could have gotten away with anything is with dumb luck, and nobody has two years of that much luck."
"Just because you were able to capture Newport does not mean that the other agencies that were after him are somehow incapable of performing their jobs. You just caught a lucky break, a 'rookie's break'."
Ellison smiled as he listened to his partner verbally spar with the young agent. Without a word he passed a copy of Sandburg's arrest report to the senior FBI agent. Abels accepted it with a nod and began to read as the junior partners continued to argue.
"A 'rookie's break', are you kidding me?" Sandburg straightened at the affront. "I may be new to the badge, but I spent over three years as an observer and a consultant to the department. I know what I'm doing, and I know that my grandmother could have arrested him. Paul Newport is a bumbling fool that gives criminals a bad name."
"You can't even get his name right. The suspect's name is Raul Newport, not Paul. Of course, that's a common 'rookie' mistake."
"Listen, Norbert, I know my suspect's name, and it's Paul. P. A. U. L. Paul."
Ellison considered breaking into the impromptu spelling bee, but then he noticed a strangling sound coming from the older man with them. Before he could react, Abels drew in a shaky breath, then began to cough.
Trenton started to pound his partner on the back. After a moment, Abels sat back and reached for his water, nodding that he was all right. A few deep breaths later he began to laugh.
"This guy's a dimwit, There's no way he can be Raul Newport."
"Well, no kidding!" Sandburg let his exasperation show as he dug into his pasta primavera.
"But the fax listed your suspect as Raul Newport, I'm sure of it." Trenton was not quite ready to give it up. "See, look for yourself." He handed the crumpled paper to Ellison, pointedly ignoring Sandburg.
Barely flexing his Sentinel sight, Ellison saw the fleck of dirt imbedded in the paper under the letter P and used his fingernail to scrape it off. Trenton's jaw dropped and the temptation was too much for the senior detective.
"Don't take it too hard, Norbert. It was an honest rookie mistake." When neither agent was looking at him, he winked at his partner.
In all honesty, they had to give Trenton credit for his tenacity. "Wait, look at this." He pulled the mug shot out of his own file and laid it next to the one already on the table from the file Abels had been choking over. "They are the same guy."
Sandburg leaned back slightly, putting his partner in the better position to be the one to pick up and study the photos. The Sentinel took advantage of the move and reached for them. The differences between the two pictures shone like a beacon to him, thanks to years of training from his Guide. He counted to twenty before showing what he had found to the others, as not to make them suspicious.
"Your man seems more mature, he carries his body differently. Look at the posture disparity. What do you think, Chief?" He slid the photos to his partner, giving him a chance to use his skills in people watching in front of the FBI agents.
Blair didn't notice the slight smirk on his best friend's face; he was too busy pulling on his glasses to analyze the differences Ellison had noticed.
"Oh, yes, there is a marked difference in body language between these two men. Your suspect is more defiant, look at his shoulders, how straight he's standing. He's making direct eye contact with the camera, most suspects look slightly off to the side."
Abels nodded, listening to every word the younger man had to say. "You hit it on the nose. He called us once, even. Told us that we weren't smart enough to catch him. The bastard was taunting us."
Ellison understood the type. "He was daring you to catch him."
"Exactly, Jim. That's my point. Now look at our suspect, at his body language. What do you see?" Sandburg turned, expectantly, towards the two agents.
As the men studied the mug shot, Ellison studied his partner. You can take the teacher out of the classroom, but you can't take the teacher out of the man. A smile crossed his lips as Sandburg slid effortlessly back into lecture mode.
"Notice how his shoulders are not only slumped, but rolled forward? There is no defiance in him. If anything he is ashamed, embarrassed even, at what has happened to him. Take a good look at his face, at his eyes. He is not challenging anybody; he's looking below the camera. This is not an alpha male." Sandburg paused and pointed to the photo brought by the FBI agents. "This is an alpha male."
"I'm impressed, Sandburg. Nobody mentioned that you had a background in profiling."
His partner cut Abels' compliment short. "So what, the guy's a good actor, or are you claiming he's schizophrenic? Maybe with your vast experience you can give us a psychological profile too, while you're at it."
Before Sandburg could form a suitable retort, Ellison jumped in. "Why alter his MO? If the FBI couldn't catch him after two years, why change a good thing?"
It didn't take Sandburg long to get back into the conversation. "According to his landlord, Newport has lived there for a little over six months, and has never missed a day of work. He's a..." Blair paused and glanced at his notes, "...janitor for Wonderburger."
"So this was all one big coincidence? Is that what you're saying?" Trenton seemed to take offense to the idea.
Instead of answering, Sandburg posed another question. "Do either of you have brothers?"
"What does that have to do with anything?"
Abels, on the other hand, saw where Sandburg was headed. "Yeah, I've got two older brothers. When I was younger, I tried to do everything they did even if..." Abels laughed and nodded, "...yep, even if I wasn't very good at it. Good call, Detective."
The younger man smiled his thanks, then suddenly appeared lost in thought.
Ellison immediately noticed the change in his friend's demeanor. "What is it, Chief?"
"Why now? Our brother hasn't been in a bit of trouble. What made him decide to follow in his brother's footsteps now?"
"Wait a minute. You're saying that your Paul Newport and our Raul Newport are brothers? But they're...you mean they're twins?"
"Glad you're finally catching up with us, Norbert." Abels glared at the younger agent.
Undaunted, Trenton continued. "Sandburg's right, why did he start a life of crime now?"
Ellison started thumbing through the thick file brought by the out of state agents. "When was your suspect last sighted?"
"Three weeks ago, in northern Oklahoma. Why?" In spite of his rudeness, Trenton did seem to know his case. "He was pulled over on a traffic stop. The local sheriff's department had suffered a computer crash the day before and they weren't back on-line with federal warrants. That was the closest he's come to capture in over two years." He picked up his napkin and wiped his mouth before pushing his plate away. "You think he's on his way here, don't you?"
Sandburg waited until the waiter removed the last of their plates before answering. "It makes sense. Why else would Paul suddenly turn to a life of crime. He's trying to impress his brother, the famous bank robber."
Ellison obviously agreed with his partner. He threw a tip down on the table as he stood. "We can use one Newport to catch the other. Let's go talk to Simon and the DA. See how they want to play this out."
With an "Our expense account is bigger", Abels snagged the check and stepped over to Ellison, leaving the two junior partners to gather up the files. While they were waiting for the papers to be sorted, he studied the other man. "I assume you have a plan?"
Already deep in strategy, the Sentinel merely nodded.
Simon Banks' Office
"What?" Several heads in the bullpen turned at the sound of Beverly Sanchez's loud, plaintive voice. "You mean we have to keep him?"
"Now Beverly, it's not that bad." Banks used his best soothing voice as the ADA paced across his office. "After we capture the brother, I'm sure you can offer a plea-bargain and never go to court. But in the meantime we need to make sure he's bailed out so that he can make contact with his brother."
"Are you sure this will draw out Raul? Are you even sure he's in Cascade?" She did not seem all that convinced.
"Our last contact with him put him on a direct path here. Then his brother suddenly turns to a life of crime. Your Mr. Sandburg seems to believe that he is trying to impress Raul."
"And how would it impress him unless he's here, or on his way?" Ellison interrupted the younger FBI agent.
"Let me see if I've got this straight. I file formal charges, fuss a little, then agree to bail." Beverly stared at the men seated around the conference table. "You keep him under surveillance and wait for Raul to show up, then arrest him and send him back to Alabama to stand trial there."
Abels smiled briefly. "Well there are about five states that want him, but I think Alabama gets first dibs."
"Don't suppose I could talk you into taking them both, could I?"