Production No. BPP-611
edited by: Saga and Claire
MEET THE CAST
FoodWay Parking Lot, Midnight
Dim bulbs cast a yellowish hue onto the parking lot of the FoodWay, one of the few remaining all-night grocery stores in Cascade. The smudged glass windows at the front of the store were covered over with faded advertisements for various specials on poultry, dried beans and deodorant. Three cars remained in the lot, its cracked pavement overgrown with grass and dandelions. The street parallel to the FoodWay, still decorated with ancient Christmas lights on the lampposts, rarely saw a car after ten a.m. It was as remote a meeting place as any.
And that was how Donovan preferred it.
Donovan Gray was twenty-three and a fifth-year senior at Rainier University, completing twelve more academic credits so he could claim his Bachelor of Economics degree. It wasn't something he wanted, but it was something his father had insisted he have. And it was probably his father's dogged determination that his son be a carbon copy of himself that had Donovan sitting on the hood of his silver Monte Carlo, waiting for a man known to him only as Cypher to arrive.
He double-checked the time on his Rolex -- five past midnight. Donovan, while not always on time for class, was a stickler when it came to meeting someone at a pre-determined time. If he weren't so desperate for the stuff, he would have just called the whole thing off. But the party was tomorrow, and it was his turn to provide for the fraternity.
The automatic doors in front of the FoodWay squeaked open. A fat, balding old man waddled out with a paper bag hugged to his chest. Even from this distance, Donovan identified several different bottlenecks sticking out of the brown sack.
Why couldn't I have been in charge of the beer? he wondered. While he loved to help himself to any "specialty items" his frat brothers provided at their parties, he abhorred the idea of buying it himself. Too much risk involved. Which was why he'd found a new source, someone who didn't know the fraternity's reputation and would give them a fair deal.
The fat man unlocked the front door of a banged-up Pinto and climbed in, the bottles in his bag clinking together loudly. Donovan shook his head and shivered. It was too damn cold to wait out here much longer. He made a silent agreement that if Cypher didn't materialize in five more minutes, he would ask Peter Bracken to hook him up.
Headlights flashed on him from Denmark Street. A black Corsica was pulling into the lot and heading straight towards him. Donovan slid off his car hood and waited, stamping circulation back into his frozen feet. The Corsica slid in next to the Monte Carlo and stopped. Donovan only saw his reflection in the tinted windows of the new car.
The driver's side door opened and a shaved head emerged. The man stood an impressive six- foot-three, his muscular frame evident beneath a heavy wool lumberjack's coat. Narrow black eyes locked with Donovan's as he turned around, his square jaw set in an expression that clearly said "mess with me and I'll pound you into the pavement."
Donovan made a mental note to stay on this guy's good side. While he didn't consider himself a lightweight, he was still way out of this guy's division.
"Donovan, right?" the stranger asked, his voice deep and oddly soothing.
"That's right," Donovan replied, mortified to hear his own voice waver slightly.
The man smiled widely, pearly-white teeth glittering brightly against his tan skin. "You can call me Cypher. I hear you're looking for a good deal."
"Always," Donovan said.
"You've found the right man. You see, I'm new in town and you get the distinction of being one of my first contacts here in Cascade."
Donovan quirked an eyebrow. He'd no idea he had found a brand-new supplier. This could be better than he originally thought.
"My fraternity does a lot of business around town," Donovan said, hoping he sounded more confident than he felt. "Especially now that Winter Session has begun."
Cypher chuckled deeply in his chest. "Having a little back-to-campus party?"
"Hopefully not so little."
Now Cypher laughed out loud. "Well, then, I've got just the stuff for you." Cypher reached a gloved hand into the pocket of his jacket and produced a small aspirin bottle. He unscrewed the cap and shook several tiny, yellow squares onto his left hand.
"We call it Brain Candy," Cypher went on. "It dissolves under your tongue like acid, but do not take more than one. Do not. That's the only cardinal rule."
Donovan studied the tiny squares. "What do they do?"
"They open your eyes, man," Cypher said. A wicked gleam crept into his eyes and he leaned in closer. "Kiss the rest of the drug world good-bye forever, I guarantee it."
Donovan met Cypher's gaze and held it. The idea of discovering the new party drug of the year was tempting, to say the least. He was only left with a nagging curiosity about what Brain Candy did and what its affects were. But time would tell.
"How much?" Donovan asked.
Cascade, The Next Day
Lowell Street was quietly going about its business, people milling around on its sidewalks, cars idling down the one-way street, mindful of the slush that remained from last week's snow.
The sharp squeal of tires broke the peace and a blue Dodge Viper careened onto Lowell, driving in the exact opposite direction of traffic. Half a dozen cars veered out of the way of the oncoming Viper. One, a green Corolla, smashed into a parked Civic with a resounding crunch. The Viper sped on down the road, fishtailing a bit on the slick pavement. Seconds later, a blue Ford pickup whipped around the block and followed the Viper down the one-way street.
"This is a one-way, Jim!" the passenger of the Ford screamed as the driver swerved to avoid colliding with a Four-Runner.
"Just hold on," Jim Ellison barked, his hands gripping the steering wheel in a death-grip.
The tires of the Ford slipped on the ice, nearly sending them into a parked car, but Jim managed to right the truck in time. They continued down the road, consistently gaining on the Viper, who was playing chicken with every oncoming car in its path.
"That guy's going to kill somebody," Blair Sandburg said, both hands planted firmly on the dashboard.
The Viper made a right turn a block up. Jim slowed only a fraction to make the turn, whipping the truck onto Durham Avenue and back into two-way traffic.
Blair picked up the handset. "All units, suspect vehicle is now proceeding west on Durham," Blair said into the mike. "David 152 still in pursuit. Over."
A block ahead of them, a yellow Fiat Spider was backing up, attempting to parallel park. The Viper sped on, seemingly oblivious of the Spider. At the last second, the Viper swerved to the left to avoid the Spider and into the path of an oncoming garbage truck. Jim slammed the Ford to a stop, watching the Viper swerve once again and crash head-on into a utility pole.
Jim pulled over next to the stationary Viper and tossed Blair his cell phone, a subconscious habit he still couldn't break himself of.
"Call it in, Chief," Jim said.
Major Crime, Several Hours Later
Daniel Lemur, the driver of the runaway Viper, was detoxing unpleasantly under hospital guard at Cascade General, kept company by the sweats and his own vomit. He'd been high when Jim had pulled him from his wrecked car, babbling on about the fireworks and butterflies. Jim had found an aspirin bottle half full of tiny yellow pills he couldn't readily identify and immediately sent them to Forensics for analysis.
Ellison and Sandburg now found themselves settling into the two chairs opposite the captain's desk when Simon spoke.
"Preliminary forensics came back on the drugs you found in the Viper," Simon Banks said, picking up a thin sheaf of papers. He was standing behind his desk, facing his best detective team with an expression of slight annoyance.
"Do we know what the driver was hopped up on?" Sandburg asked.
Banks shot the young detective a silencing glance. "Yes, we do. It's called Brain Candy and, so far, had only shown up in Seattle clubs and university parties. Three kids have already died from overdoses. This is the first report of it in Cascade. Do we see where I'm going with this?"
Jim nodded, knowing all too well. "Find the drug dealers and cut off the pipeline."
"Bingo," Banks replied.
"What's this Brain Candy supposed to do?" Sandburg asked.
"Apparently, it directly affects the senses," Simon said. "Users experience extraordinary visions in which they actually hear and smell things that aren't even there. So watch yourselves around it."
Jim had a feeling that little warning was directed at him. Drugs -- illegal or prescription -- had a habit of reacting badly with his Sentinel senses.
"Yes, sir," Jim said, starting to stand.
"And one more thing," Simon said sternly.
Jim blinked. "What?"
Banks grinned. "There's a poker game at Rafe's place tonight, seven-thirty."
"A poker game?" Jim asked.
"Brown is trying to keep Rafe's mind off David," Simon explained. "Seems they've been having a rough time of it, and Brown thinks his partner needs a distraction."
"I'll be there," Blair said. "I'm good at distracting people."
Simon snorted. "Just don't bring any food. I still haven't gotten that guacamole stain out of my couch."
"I still say that wasn't my fault," Sandburg said, looking to Jim for support.
Jim smiled. "Don't worry, captain," he said, reaching down and pulling his partner to his feet. "I'll make him leave the green stuff at home this time."
"I appreciate that," Simon replied.
Jim opened the office door and shooed Sandburg out. He headed immediately for the break room. This was looking to be a long day and the coffeepot was calling his name. He caught Sandburg out of the corner of his eye, plopping down at his own desk. Jim slowed as he neared Rafe's desk, catching the younger detective's side of what was probably a very stormy discussion.
"No, David, I do understand, but--" Rafe paused, listening to the voice that had cut him off.
Jim didn't have to listen in to know Rafe was talking to David Dawson, his half-brother. The two men had been arguing for the last month about David's intentions to join Phi Kappa Lambda, a fraternity at Rainier University where the young man was a first semester sophomore. In fact, David almost hadn't returned to the University after his grades dropped too low to hold his scholarship. But after an unexpected miracle -- Jim still disliked using that word -- David was told his grades had been calculated incorrectly and he would be readmitted for the winter term. Even though he'd almost been thrown out of school because of it, David was still adamant about joining the fraternity.
No one, not even Blair, could figure the kid out.
"If it's what you want, you know I'll support you," Rafe said into the phone. "Fine. If you need a ride, call me. Bye."
Rafe dropped the receiver into its cradle with a hefty ~Whoomph~ He looked up, noticing Jim for the first time.
"Don't ask," Rafe said. He pushed his chair away from the desk and stood. "Just don't ask."
Jim watched Rafe march out of the bullpen, wishing he could do something. It had been over a year since Rafe and David were reunited, and the pair was still feeling each other out.
He sighed and continued on his quest for the perfect cup of coffee.
Headon Hall, Rainier University
David Dawson dropped the cordless phone onto the floor and flopped down on his bottom bunk. The whole frame of the bunk beds shook.
"Watch out, man," Lewis Saums said from the bunk above. "I'm trying to read here."
"Sorry," David grumbled, staring at the bedsprings above him. Sometimes L.T. could be so infuriating. David wasn't used to having someone check up on him like that.
The bed creaked and Lewis' face appeared over the edge of the bunk. His gel-spiked brown hair pointed straight down to the floor and his round face slowly turned a dark shade of pink as the blood rushed to his head. Curious brown eyes seemed to wink at David.
"Trouble with your brother?" Lewis asked, his voice still tinged with the thick Wisconsin drawl he'd tried desperately to drop since his freshman year.
"Yeah." David squirmed around until his head was facing the same direction as Lewis -- he hated talking to people upside down. "He's concerned about the party tonight."
"What's to be concerned about? The Lambda's are throwing a back-to-campus party. Big deal, man."
"Maybe I shouldn't go."
Lewis' head disappeared. The mattress lump above David's head grew, and then shrunk as Lewis leapt off the bed and landed on the floor with a loud thump. Lewis squatted down in front of David, his brown eyes serious.
"No way are you bailing on me, Davey," Lewis said firmly. "We agreed. We pledge together, we get humiliated together."
"We are not going to be humiliated," David said.
"Okay, optimist." Lewis shrugged, rocking back on his heels. "Look, you go and watch what you drink. Your brother can't fault you for that."
David sighed. Lewis was right, of course. He'd been planning to attend the party long before Rafe got wind of it. There was no way to explain to his brother why the fraternity was so important to him, so why bother? He would just go and have fun.
Where's the harm in that?
Rafe's Apartment, That Evening
By seven-thirty p.m., the detectives of Major Crime were crowded around the kitchen table in Rafe's apartment. Jim, Blair, Rafe, Henri, Joel, and Simon sat in a circle, eating pretzels and tossing out poker chips. Only Connor was conspicuously absent, citing a date that evening. Henri shuffled the deck of cards and began to deal.
"Five card stud, deuces and jokers wild," H said as he flicked cards around the table in six neat piles. "One dollar ante on the first hand."
"We know, we know," Rafe said gruffly.
Henri glanced at his partner, then refocused on the cards he was dealing. Rafe had been in a particularly surly mood since the beginning of the evening. Everyone knew what was bothering him, but no one really knew what to say.
"I'm kinda jealous of David," Henri said offhandedly. "Think of all the sorority girls he's gonna meet now."
Simon laughed, popping a cigar between his lips. "They'll be falling all over him," he added.
"It could be good for him," Blair added. "The social structures of fraternities aren't unlike the -- never mind," he said, after taking a shaarp poke from Jim.
"I appreciate it, fellas," Rafe said as he organized his cards. "I just want him to be careful. A friend of mine got kicked out of college once for a stupid frat prank."
"He's a smart kid," Jim said, thinking of how clever David had been in eluding the police the first time Jim had met him.
"I know," Rafe replied. I just hope David knows that.
Phi Kappa Lambda House, That Same Hour
David stared at the dark stain spreading on his khakis, his face growing hot. He and Lewis hadn't been in the door ten minutes before Donovan Gray and his cohorts had found them. Donovan hadn't missed a beat as he began to loudly berate both of them as the pond scum pledges that they were. When David had tossed back a crisp retort, Donovan had "accidentally" spilled his beer on David.
"Sorry about that, pledge," Donovan said, sounding not the least bit sorry. "Watch where you're going next time."
Lewis put a hand on his shoulder and David bit back an acerbic reply. He watched Donovan prance away, laughing hysterically with his buddies.
"Donovan's a real jerk," a deep-timbred female voice said.
David about-faced and almost crashed into Lucy Morrison. Lucy was a junior and had been in David's accounting class last semester. They'd met while partnered for a project and become fast friends. Lucy was almost six feet tall with the willowy figure of a model and legs up to her armpits. With long, straight brown hair and sparkling green eyes, she was pretty, but not beautiful. David couldn't help but admire the short, green dress she had on.
"Hey, Lucy," David said, flashing her a wide grin.
She smiled back and handed him a plastic cup. "Got you a beer."
Lewis pretended to be hurt. "None for me?"
"The keg's back there," she replied, pointing over her shoulder.
"I get the hint," Lewis said. "Why don't you go air-dry or something, Davey?"
David looked down at his damp pants. "Excellent idea."
"Come with me," Lucy said.
She grabbed his hand and led David through a long hallway. Several people turned to stare, causing David to redden further. They finally found refuge in the empty kitchen. Lucy grabbed a towel from a ring by the sink and tossed it at David.
"Try that," she said. "If it doesn't work, I'm sure we can microwave them."
David began to dab at the wet spot on his pants. "God, I look like I wet myself. I'd like to dump a keg or two on Donovan's head."
Lucy hopped up on the counter, her long legs swinging over the edge. "He gets his rocks off making fun of underclassmen. I guess it's easy to forget he was once one himself."
"Well, guys like him are born with their heads up their asses."
She laughed, her voice brightening up the room. "Amen," she said, hopping off the counter with fragile ease.
Lucy sauntered over to the refrigerator and pulled open the door. David watched her, fascinated. The small light inside the appliance cast a golden glow over her fair skin and he found himself smiling. A sly grin spread across Lucy's face and she looked at him.
"What?" he asked.
Lucy blinked, a mischievous glimmer in her eyes. "Have you ever seen American Pie?"
"Quit hogging the cheese dip, Sandburg," Joel said, brandishing a tortilla chip.
"I'm not," Blair defended himself. "Your arm just isn't long enough to reach the bowl."
"C'mon, Joel," Jim said. "Are you in or out?"
Taggart lowered the tortilla and studied his cards once again. "Out," he finally said, laying them down.
"I'm in," Rafe said, tossing his chips onto the pile.
"Me, too," Henri said.
"Three fives," Jim announced, placing his cards onto the table.
Simon and Blair tossed their cards into the center of the table. Rafe placed his on top of theirs.
"Three nines," Rafe said.
Henri was grinning from ear to ear. "Full house, gentlemen," he announced brightly.
"Again?" Blair squawked.
"Sorry about your luck, Hairboy," H said as he gathered his chips together.
"...We went three times," Donovan said, his face glowing with pride.
"Aw, man!" Bud Walton said, fairly choking on his beer. "You lucky bastard."
Donovan settled back onto the over-stuffed couch, reveling in the admiration he was receiving from the underclassmen whose attention he held so raptly with stories of his conquests. It was so easy. Freshman believed anything a fraternity man told them. He took another gulp of his beer, and then set it down on the table behind the couch.
"That chick had breasts out to here," Donovan continued. He cupped his hands out in front of him to emphasize his point. "And man, was she luscious."
"She still go here?" another freshman asked.
"Nah," he replied. "Graduated last year. I think she's off to Law School or something."
Of course, he was making the whole thing up. His fantasy woman didn't exist, but the three first-year students surrounding him thought she did, and that was all that mattered. Donovan reached back around for his beer.
He took a swig and gulped it down, too late noticing a white, swirling substance in the bottom of the glass. Something creamy slid down his throat and his imagination kicked into overdrive. Donovan's stomach roiled as his current conversation did its part in identifying the goo in his cup.
"Shit," he muttered, before darting off the couch and towards the nearest bathroom.
"I'll definitely check my sources," Henri said. "Someone's bound to know something. A new drug in the area is big news."
"Good enough," Simon said. He placed his cigar in a glass ashtray and took a long swig from his beer glass.
"It sounds like obnoxious stuff," Rafe said, dealing out the next hand.
"That's why we're nipping it in the bud," Simon said. "We're not having another Golden incident, if I can help it."
"Seattle PD is sending everything they have on it, too," Jim added. "Right now, we just have to hope no one abuses it. The stuff is deadly."
Lucy pulled David into the deserted bedroom and slammed the door behind her. Both collapsed against each other, laughing hysterically.
"His face," David choked out between gasps. "I wish I had a picture."
Lucy giggled, trying to suck in a deep breath. "Who says we aren't influenced by the movies we watch," she said.
This caused the pair to laugh harder. David took a step back, collapsing on a neatly made bed. Lucy calmed down and held up a white, plastic container.
"I'll never call tapioca a dull food again," David said, eyeing the container.
"He got what he deserved," Lucy said, still calming her giggle fits.
"Do you think he'll know it was us?"
Lucy shrugged and sat beside him on the mattress. "I doubt the imbecile will ever realize it was only pudding in his beer."
David looked up. Lucy was staring down at him, her hair framing her pretty face in soft waves. He realized for the first time exactly where they had ended up, but he didn't move. With Lucy, he felt... relaxed.
Lucy smiled and leaned down to kiss him. David returned the kiss, a funny shiver dancing up his spine. She traced a purple-painted fingernail across his cheek. David felt an odd sensation... in his bladder.
Not now, he thought. I do not have to piss now.
But he did and his bladder wasn't letting him forget it. If David had inherited anything from his father, it was a small bladder.
David broke his kiss and sat up. He playfully swatted the ends of her hair and smiled.
"You want a drink?" he asked, hoping for a graceful exit.
Lucy grinned. "Sure."
"I'll be back in a jiffy," he said.
David hopped off the bed and darted out the door. In less than a minute, he had found a bathroom and relieved himself. Now, David descended the stairs in search of the keg. Every time a new one was opened, it changed locations. David finally spotted two plastic cups full of beer sitting on the corner of a table in the hallway. He snatched them up. As he passed the table, his mind never consciously registered the open aspirin bottle lying sideways on the shelf above the glasses.
With his beer secured, David headed back upstairs.
"He's gloating and he doesn't even know it," Joel said as he settled into the recliner in Rafe's living room.
Henri looked up from his spot on the couch, sandwiched between Rafe and Sandburg. "I am not," H said indignantly, trying to keep a straight face.
Simon snorted. "With a poker face like that, I'm surprised we didn't take him for all he's worth."
"It's the rabbit's foot, I'm telling you," Henri said. He pulled a blue-dyed rabbit's foot charm out of the breast pocket of his flannel shirt. "She knew daddy needed a new jacket."
Jim popped the tape into the VCR and turned to stare at Henri. "She?"
Simon and Jim settled on the floor in front of the television. Everyone watched the screen expectantly, waiting for the blue to be replaced by the opening credits.
Henri elbowed Rafe. "You gonna start that or what?"
Rafe blinked, looking up to find all eyes on him. "Uh, sorry." He snatched the remote off of the end of the couch and pressed "play."
"Quit worrying, man," H whispered as the latest Steven Seagal film began. "Nothing's going to happen."
Rafe shrugged and tried to concentrate on the movie.
Less than ten minutes after David had returned with the beer, both were empty and he and Lucy had been into a heavy make-out session. She had begun to laugh, leaving David mystified. He'd backed up to the edge of the bed and watched her as she doubled over in convulsive laughter. As he had, his vision had begun to swim in bright swirls of greens and purples.
David blinked, unable to process what he was seeing.
Now Lucy was crying uncontrollably, pointing fearfully at a spot on the bedspread. Her breath came in unsteady gasps, alternating between screams and sobs. She curled in on herself, thin arms wrapping tightly around her long legs and holding tight.
He wanted to hold her, to comfort her somehow, but he couldn't. His entire body felt numb, like he was immersed in icy water. David tried to speak, but nothing came out. The swirls began to coagulate and form a translucent barrier over his vision, a barrier of infinite colors. He coughed and tasted blood in the back of his throat.
David began to panic.
On the television, Seagal was mercifully sparing the villain's life when the phone rang. Being the closest, Simon reached over and answered.
"Hello?" Simon asked. He paused. "Yeah, he's right here."
Simon passed the phone to Rafe, keeping half an eye on the villain as he took advantage of Seagal's morals and counterattacked.
Rafe snatched up the phone, a shiver raising goose bumps on his arms. "Hello?"
"Mr. Rafe?" an unsteady male voice asked.
"It's Lewis," he continued. "David's roommate at Rainier. You gotta come down to Cascade General, man."
Rafe sucked in a sharp breath, earning a concerned glance from Ellison. "What happened? Is he hurt?"
Henri snatched up the remote and snapped off the film in the middle of the villain's dishonorable death scene. The attention of everyone in the room turned to Rafe.
"He had some kinda seizure or something at the party tonight and somebody called an ambulance. The doctors think it was a drug overdose or something. Hello?"
But Rafe was no longer on the phone. In four steps, he had his keys and was out the front door, leaving five stunned detectives behind in his apartment.