Production No. CVT705

written by:
Virginia

edited by:
Shirin and Christina

MEET THE CAST

Cascade Police Department, Major Crimes

"Ellison! My office!" The voice of Simon Banks carried clearly across the noisy bullpen.

The man being paged, Detective Jim Ellison, suppressed a sigh as he carefully saved the report that he had just spent an hour typing. He clicked on the print icon as he stood up and stretched.

Not good morning, or are you busy? Just the trademark bellow, Ellison thought to himself. As he stood, he realized that he was thinking just like his absent partner and struggled to hide a smile. Thinking of his partner, Blair Sandburg, Jim grew serious. Maybe Simon finally had some news about Sandburg and the case that he had been loaned out to work on. Then he realized with dismay that his boss may just be finding out that his partner was on loan to another department, in another state.

Picking the file that he had been working on, he glanced over the pages and decided to take it with him, in case the Captain wanted an update on the finishing up of the Glanders case. With Blair gone, Jim had been forced to type the reports and paperwork associated with closing a case. He retrieved the report from the printer and walked towards his Captain's office.

"Come in!" Came the response to Jim's knock on the door.

"Good morning, Captain. Good to have you back in the office," Jim greeted the tall man.

Simon Banks motioned towards the small conference table and Jim took the indicated seat. As the detective was sitting down, Banks held up a coffee pot from the credenza behind him. "Coffee?"

"Thanks." Jim pushed his cup towards Simon, who filled it and set it back in front of Jim. He then filled his own cup and sat down at the end of the table, near Jim.

"Looks like you've had an interesting week, Jim. What's the status on your current files? Since you seem to have left your partner in California, you're having to do your own paperwork." Simon grinned at his senior detective, who wasn't shy about his dislike for paperwork.

Jim scowled at his captain before answering. "I just finished the last of the paperwork on the Glanders case. No new outbreaks have been reported from any of the stables or tracks involved, including the one in Santa Anita, California where the whole thing seems to have started. Another case that Sandburg and I worked on may be coming up for trial soon, unless the lawyers get another extension. Do you have something in mind?"

Simon shook his head. "Possibly, there's a case that has come up from burglary that may get shifted to Major Crimes. I'm guessing you haven't heard from Sandburg, have you?"

"No," Jim sighed. "He called several days ago, all excited about the progress they were making with the artifacts and that the lead detective, Andrew Wood, had traced some of them to a possible source. Like I said though, that was the first of the week and I haven't heard a thing since then."

"Which means you are the lucky person who gets to explain to me why one half of Cascade's best detective team is in California." Simon looked at Jim, his expression clearly expecting an answer from the man sitting in front of him. "Before you ask, yes, I've read Joel's reports and I realize that he and Captain Rivera from the Bonita PD worked it out. But I still want to hear it from you on how the Bonita Police Department lured Sandburg into staying."

"Sandburg and I had gone to Bonita to look into a reported case of Glanders at the Santa Anita track. As it turned out, the owner Carlos Suarez had imported a horse and skipped the quarantine procedures. Ended up that not only did his horse have it, but also it put his daughter in the hospital. While we were at the police station, Blair ran into the roommate of a friend from his early days at Rainier. The roommate is a detective investigating a case of suspected drug smuggling using South American and North American artifacts. Next thing I knew, we were at their house having dinner and Sandburg was offering to stay and help them track down the origins of the artifacts." Jim fell silent, his gaze dropping to the typed report under his hands.

"Is there a problem, Jim?" Simon asked. "Are you all right without Sandburg here? A problem with your senses?"

"No, so far the senses are doing okay. I haven't had to use them a lot since coming back from California. Just that my partner was awfully happy to stay in warm, sunny Bonita." Jim looked up and sighed. "I know he's happy here and he's coming back, but it still felt wrong to be leaving without him." He shook his head, as though clearing it. "I'll never get used to the quiet." He chuckled at the thought. "Anyway, as for the Glanders case, the Feds knew and no one bothered to let us know..."

Simon's phone buzzed softly, interrupting Jim. "Hold on," Simon said as he got up to answer the phone. He listened for a moment before saying, "Sure, send him on in."

He replaced the handset on the phone and looked at Jim. "Detective," he started in a deceptively calm voice. "Maybe you can tell me why there's a Detective from the Bonita Police Department outside to see me."

Jim shook his head in answer, then stopped. "Actually, I do know why he's here. Part of the agreement was that they would send a detective here while Sandburg is there."

Before Simon could answer there was a knock at the door to Simon's office. "Come in!" the captain called out. The door opened and a dark haired young man walked hesitantly into the office.

"Captain Banks?" His voice had a soft Scottish accent to it and he looked at the two men. Recognizing Jim, he looked at Simon, assuming he was the Major Crime's Captain.

"I'm Simon Banks." Simon, who was still standing, stepped over to the young man, holding his hand out. They shook hands, and then Simon motioned him over to the table.

"This is Detective Jim Ellison." The newcomer shook hands with Jim, nodding. "Yes Sir, we met briefly in Bonita during his visit. My name is Ken Christian, a detective with the Bonita Police Department."

Simon waited until the young Detective had sat down across from Jim before taking his own seat at the head of the table. "Detective, please excuse my bluntness, but I've been out on medical leave and have just returned to my office to start catching up. Why are you here?"

Christian laughed quickly, sobering when he saw that neither of the men in front of him was laughing. "Sorry, Sir. But it's not exactly the question I was expecting." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a wallet and an envelope. He handed both to Simon, opening the wallet for the two Cascade detectives to inspect.

"Just so you know that I am who I claim to be," he said as they looked up from the ID to look at their guest. "The envelope has papers from my Captain making my temporary transfer here official. The Captain felt that since we were borrowing one of your detectives that it was only right to send someone up here to replace him. He talked it over with a Captain Taggart and Commissioner Mathews here." He smiled. "I was just coming off of a case and was free for an assignment, so here I am."

Silence fell over the room as Simon opened the envelope and read the various papers from the Bonita PD. Getting up and walking to his desk, he searched through a file folder of paper, pulling out several sheets. Quickly he skimmed the text, and then laid the papers on his desk with a nod. "Joel Taggart, the Captain in charge while I was out, left me a report of what was going on, but I honestly hadn't gotten that far yet. It seems like my department has been rather busy in the past week."

He glared at Jim, who had the grace to look somewhat embarrassed. Mentally, he promised himself that Sandburg would be made to face their Captain when he finally got back to Cascade.

"We are glad to have you with us, Detective," Simon continued as he rejoined them at the table. "Having Sandburg out leaves us short and, as anyone here can tell you, there's almost always something going on in Cascade."

Ken nodded, "I seem to remember Detective Sandburg saying that Cascade should be known as the most dangerous city in the United States. It certainly looks quiet enough."

"Looks can be deceiving," Jim murmured. "Don't get me wrong, it's a great place to live, but I swear the place must have a trouble magnet somewhere." Ignoring the coughing from his captain, Jim continued, "Speaking of my wayward partner, can you tell us anything about how the case is going?"

The young man shook his head. "Not really. I had been sent down to Columbia as a part of the investigation into the sick horses, the cases of Glanders. After about a week there, I came back to help get things wrapped up and then was assigned to come up here. So I didn't really spend a lot of time around Detective Wood's smuggling investigation. When I left they were still trying to identify who's in charge of the operation. Woods was talking about sending a man undercover. At least he was hoping for the chance to maybe send someone undercover. Before that could happen, they wanted more information and the right opening into the operation."

"Did he have any idea of who he was going to send?" Jim asked, thinking of Blair's ability to land right in the middle of a situation. He hoped that for once his partner would stay on the sidelines and stick to being an advisor.

Ken shook his head. "Sorry, Detective. I don't know if they are definitely sending someone undercover or whom they were going to pick. In addition to himself, there's Detective Sandburg, and two other detectives assigned to the team," Christian said, his voice steady despite the growing look of concern on Jim's face. "I seriously doubt that the Captain would send your man in. After all, he is only on loan," he tried to assure the Cascade detectives.

"I hope so," Jim sighed. "But Sandburg can be quite convincing when he thinks he's right. I've ended up on the wrong side of arguments with him before. If he decides he should go in, more than likely, he will."

"Jim, if it will make you feel better, call down there and talk to him." Simon added, "You don't have to wait for him to call. He'll know you're checking up on him anyway."

"You must like to travel," Jim said, changing the subject. "Getting home from one trip and turning around to leave on another."

"As a matter of fact, I do. It also helps that I'm single with no family in the area to prevent me from picking up and going as needed," Ken told him. "I like going to new places." He shrugged lightly. "Anyway, so here I am. I've been with the Bonita PD for going on five years in June, so it's not like I'm the new kid."

"Don't worry about that," Simon told him. "The letter your captain sent is very complimentary and he says you do good work. More than likely I'll partner you with Detective Ellison and/or Inspector Connor. It depends on what they are each working on."

"Inspector?" Ken asked.

"Inspector Megan Connor of the New South Wales Police Department. She's part of an officer exchange program that joined us a couple of years ago. The program worked out so well that she's stayed on with us for an extended time," Simon explained. "Connor and Ellison have worked on several cases together and, although they don't admit it, they do make a good team."

"Provided we don't kill each other first," Jim muttered under his breath.

Simon stood up. "Now if you gentlemen will excuse me, I have a stack of reports to plow through and figure out what other damage you people managed to do in my absence. I'll get back with you this afternoon on assignments. Ken, welcome to Cascade, where we have four kinds of rain and thirty-two kinds of coffee."

"Thank you, Sir. I'm looking forward to the next week or so."

With a nod at his captain, Jim stood and made his way to the door. "Christian, why don't I show you around and introduce you."

"Sounds good. Lead the way, Detective."

"Jim. Please," Jim told him. "We don't stand on a lot of formality around here."

"Cool. Then lead the way, Jim."


Bonita Police Department Headquarters

"YES!"

The tired but happy cheer from Detective Andrew Wood could be heard across the detectives' bullpen. His exclamation drew the attention of several coworkers who looked up to see the source of the cheer. When they saw the detective was still on the phone, talking excitedly, most went back to their own work.

Two young men looked up to see what had prompted the cheer from the tired man. One of the men was a detective on loan from the Cascade Police Department. The other was a consultant, helping the detectives identify recovered items.

"What's up, Andrew?" the consultant, Dale Holm, asked as he got up from the desk he was sharing with the Cascade detective, Blair Sandburg. Blair stood as well, both men walking over to Andrew's desk where the older man was quickly writing notes. They waited until he had hung the phone up before repeating Dale's question. "Either you've gotten some good news, or you just like seeing who's awake around here," Dale quipped.

Andrew threw a mock glare at his friend, the grin on his face breaking through. "Oh, nothing but possibly the break we've been waiting for." He paused to enjoy the looks of shock, joy and disbelief on the faces of his friends. "That was Alan, calling in from the stakeout team at the warehouse. They were just about ready to pack up for the night when they spotted a truck pulling in."

"And?"

"Our guys waited to move in until the driver had gotten out and had the back of the truck opened to unload boxes. The guy couldn't run with his arms full of boxes. When Alan got the first box open, he immediately recognized an urn from the robbery two weeks ago. At the very least we've got him on possession of stolen goods and, if we're very lucky, he'll have information on who's in charge and where the drugs are coming from."

"It's about time!" Blair exclaimed, bouncing lightly on his toes.

"Getting tired of us already?" Dale laughed at his friend.

"No way, although I do miss Cascade. It's just that you've worked on this case longer than I have and it's got to be frustrating when you have pieces that don't all fit together."

"Believe me, I understand." Andrew stood up and stretched, wincing as joints cracked with his movements. "Ouch." Ignoring the smiles on the faces of Blair and Dale, Andrew continued, "It's going to take a while for Alan to get the crew back here and get the truck driver processed through. We can't talk to him until he's been booked. So let's go find something to eat and come back here when we can sit down with the driver."

"Sounds like a plan to me," Dale said. "Hey Blair, there's this great vegetarian place I want to take you to. They have some great dishes there." The two men walked out together, talking food. Andrew followed, sighing quietly.

"Great. Another vegetarian. Don't anthropologists like steak and fries?"


Cascade Police Department, Major Crimes

Captain Simon Banks put down the file he had been reading and looked through the glass window of his office into the bullpen area.

For once, the Major Crimes bullpen was quiet. Or quiet compared to the controlled chaos that normally reigned. Henri Brown and his partner, LT Rafe, were out on a case. Joel Taggart had taken the day off. Jim Ellison sat at his desk going over files for a case that was likely to go to court soon. That left Megan Connor sitting at her desk with the detective from Bonita who was helping her write up a report of a witness interview they had done earlier in the day. Ken Christian had quickly settled into the department working as Jim's temporary partner but also helping out the other detectives as needed. He was particularly good at doing interviews, able to put a person at ease so they could remember more details. When it was mentioned, Christian had laughed and said that his coworkers in Bonita claimed it was his Scottish accent that put people at ease. Whatever it was, Simon was glad for it.

"Ellison! Sandburg! Oh sorry." Simon looked embarrassed. "I mean Christian."

The two detectives grinned at each other as they got up from their desks and walked towards Simon's office.

"Honestly, it's nothing personal," the Captain apologized as the two men entered and took seats in front of his desk. It's just habit."

"That's quite all right, Captain," Ken told him. "I can see where established habits are hard to break. Don't worry, I'm not offended."

"Good." Simon nodded. He picked up a file and handed it to Jim. Ken leaned so that he could look at the file over Jim's shoulder.

"Those are the police reports and follow-ups for a break-in that occurred in the Cascade Circle area. A house was broken into and several pieces of art and antiques were stolen. Officers and a team from forensics have taken statements and been over and around the house."

Jim read the comments in the file then looked up at Simon. "This all looks routine, why is it in Major Crimes?"

Simon handed them two more files. "Because it's happened twice since then. Different houses but all located in the same neighborhood. According to one of the victims, there's a fourth house that's had stuff stolen, but we've been unable to contact the owner and there's been no reports of a problem from that house."

"And?" Jim stared at Simon.

"And what?"

"And what are you not telling me?"

The police captain sighed. "Okay, one of the home owners who lives near the break-ins is worried and called his friend the mayor. The mayor, in turn, called his friend, the Commissioner."

"Who called us."

"Right. Besides, with three break-ins and a suspected fourth, it would have come to us anyway," Simon told him. "What I want the two of you to do is see if you can talk to the fourth home owner. See if her house has been broken into and find out why she didn't call."

"Is she required to call?" Ken asked, looking through the other two folders.

"No, she isn't. But it's strange that with three reported break-ins and thefts that she wouldn't call it in. There may be evidence there that could help find who is behind the robberies," Simon answered.

"Now if the two of you will excuse me, you have work to do and I have a department to run." Simon dismissed the two detectives. Jim and Ken nodded to the Captain and made their way back to Jim's desk.

"Well, Ken. Up for a tour of Cascade?" Jim asked, reaching for his jacket.

"Sounds good to me," Ken replied. "As long as you can point out some good places to eat along the way."

"Not a problem," Jim grinned as they left. "Ever been to a Wonderburger?"


Bonita Police Department, Headquarters

"No way, Blair. No. I can't let you do that." Andrew shook his head.

"Andrew, I'm the best person you have for this and you know it." Blair shot back, pacing in front of the detective's desk. "No one knows me here, I can handle the driving and I damn sure know the cargo."

Dale picked that moment to walk into the bullpen area. "What's up guys? What is all the arguing about?"

"We're not arguing," Andrew muttered.

"Yes we are," Blair answered.

"Okay," Dale sighed. "What are you not arguing about?"

Blair waved his hand towards Andrew, "You tell him. I need some coffee," he said, leaving the room and the two friends staring after him.

"Andrew? What the hell is going on?" Dale asked. "It's not often that Blair gets this worked up. What happened with the questioning of the truck driver?"

The detective sighed before taking a sip of the luke-warm coffee sitting on his desk. "Ick," he grumbled. "The questioning went great. His name is Hayes and while he can't tell us a lot, he did give us the name of at least one of the guys involved, Lee Carver. Carver is his contact for the shipments. He would meet Carver, they'd load up a truck and take off. All he knew was that the boxes contained pieces of art or artifacts that were for private collections."

"He didn't know he was hauling drugs?" Dale asked.

"No, or at least he says he didn't know. There were no drugs in the truck he was driving when we picked him up." Andrew stood up, stretched and then sat back down. "What he did tell us was that the warehouse is where he and Carver sometimes pick up items. The boxes are then taken to another location, always different and he comes back 24 hours later to pick up the truck."

"So what now? Stake out the warehouse to wait for Carver?"

"I seriously doubt that will do much good. Carver and his people will know by now that we picked up Hayes and will have the warehouse staked out. We ran Carver's name through the system and he's got a record of small time stuff." The detective took another drink of coffee, making a face at the now cold liquid. "What we want to do is try to send someone in to find out names and places. Hayes is willing to give us some places where our guy can hook up with Carver."

"Okaaayyy," Dale said slowly, drawing the word out. "Let me guess, the non-argument is over who is going undercover."

"You got it in one," Andrew told him. "The Captain vetoed the idea of me going in a while back because, as the lead investigator, I know more about the case than pretty much anyone and he wants me here to run the investigation. Of the rest of the guys, they either don't know how to handle a truck or they wouldn't be able to handle the lifting and hauling of possibly heavy merchandise," he sighed heavily.

"Which is why you need me to take the assignment," Blair spoke from the doorway.

"Blair," Andrew started.

"I can handle any truck. I spent a summer driving cross-country for my uncle and I've done undercover work with the Cascade PD. If I get a chance to see any of the items, I'll know where they may be from. I'm not exactly brand new at this detective thing, you know," Blair spoke in a rush, pleading his case with the older detective.

"Blair, I can't let you do this. You're on loan and not a member of this department. Your partner and your captain will have my head on a platter if anything happens to you," Andrew said.

Blair threw his hands up. "Oh man. I thought once I took the badge I wouldn't get anything resembling 'you're not a cop' thrown at me. Now you're doing it."

"What?" Dale and Andrew said together.

"Oh nothing, just venting." Blair shook his head slowly. "Andrew, this may be our one chance to nail this and shut down the flow of drugs as well as stopping the thefts and misuse of valuable works of art and culture. I stayed and the Commissioner agreed to my staying to help you solve this case. I can handle the undercover part. Plus I can take care of myself. Let me do this, please?"

Andrew shook his head in defeat. Dale laughed and asked Blair, "So do you do that to your partner in Cascade?"

Blair smiled at his friend. "Yep, and he hates it."

"I bet he does," Andrew said. "Okay Blair, I'm guessing you were an exceptional college student and a teacher because you can lay out a convincing argument. Let me get things set up with Captain Rivera and see if we can get any more information from Hayes. Is there anything you need before we send you in? It may take a while to lay down the contacts and get a background worked up for you."

"I'm good," Blair told him. "Although I think I'll go by a store and see if I can get some clothes that don't scream college student or, even worse, cop."

"Why don't you two get out of here then and I'll give you a call to come back when we're set up."

Nodding in agreement, Dale pulled at Blair's arm and the two men left the office. "Come on, Sandburg. I know just the store and, if we're lucky, there's an old used bookstore that's still open. Oh, you want to stop and call Jim while we're out?"

Blair shook his head. "I don't think so." At Dale's surprised look he grinned. "You so don't want mother-hen Ellison down here standing over Andrew demanding every scrap of information. Besides, I don't want to stay away too long. I want to get back to have my 2-cents worth of say in the planning."

Laughing, the two men headed for the garage.

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