It's almost Halloween and I have yet to write anything about it. Shame on me. Well, let's see if I can get this done in time, OK?
As usual, I'm grateful for DB and PDM for creating the characters and the premise, and to the actors for fleshing those ideas out and giving them life. I still receive no corporeal profit from this, just a few LoCs from some nice people.
Thanks also go to Wolfpup for providing me a home on the net. And it's such a nice home, too.
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The soft sound of footsteps scuffing up the stairs alerted the Sentinel to the presence of intruders. Letting his enhanced hearing range out to investigate, he smiled, recognizing the whispers of the invaders. Rising from his comfortable seat on the couch, he switched off the television and motioned his roommate to get ready.
When the whispering voices reached the door, they timidly knocked and awaited an answer. With an eerie creaking sound, the door swung open on its own, the darkened room beyond lit eerily with a simple black light. There, gliding toward the visitors was a ghostly figure all decked out in electric blue, glowing under the black light. The face glowed a frightening greenish hue, streaky, like the flesh was rotting off the skull. The children (for the intruders were mere children) squealed in horrified glee when, a moment after the eerily glowing spook approached, a second figure semi-appeared. This one was dressed all in black, barely visible in the glow from the black light, the most visible thing about him was the enormous scythe he carried, and the skeletal hands holding the implement.
"Yesssss?" The first figure hissed, his voice a mere whisper.
"T-trick-or-treat!" the voices chorused, holding out their bags, waiting for them to be given offerings. The larger, darker figure reached out and dropped ornate certificates into the waiting bags and as the children began to retreat, called out a soft warning,
"Be careful on the street, I don't want to have to come to collect any of you, tonight." The children headed for the stairs, giggling and laughing at the 'bestest one yet' on their tour of the neighborhood.
When the children had gone, Blair grinned at his friend, the Grim Reaper. "So, do you think they liked us?"
"Oh, yeah, Chief. They were giggling that we were the best place so far on their rounds. But it's early, yet. In spite of the darkness."
"Yeah. You'd think they'd let Daylight Savings Time linger on for an extra week or so, just so the kids going out on Halloween could do it while it's still a little light, but Noooo. They change the time the week before, or in this case, that same day."
"Yeah, I know. At least the parents are with the littler kids. I could hear them on the stairs. Some of them were a bit nervous about letting the kids come here, since it's so dark."
"Yeah, but we left that sign up downstairs, letting the parents know that we were giving out gift certificates," Blair countered.
"Yeah, and enough people know that we're cops to figure it's safe to come," His head swung back to the door, "Oops. Here come the next batch."
Thus the evening went, frightening the children just enough to excite them, without scaring them to the point of panic. As the evening wore on, the children got bigger and older. At nine o'clock, Blair dashed down the stairs and removed the sign they'd put up in the foyer. It was much too late for small children to be out.
Relaxing, still in their costumes but with the lights turned on, the friends settled down to watch a little TV, kicked back and sipping on hot chocolate. The weather had turned cold and the light drizzle was more sleet than rain, making them both glad to be indoors, as the evening wore on. At ten-thirty, there was another gentle knock at the door. Glancing at the clock, both men frowned but hit the lights and turned off the television, turning the black light back on. Jim, casting out his hearing toward their visitor, suddenly put out his arm to halt his partner's movement toward the door. With a shake of his head in warning, he ran up the stairs to his bedroom, returning just as quickly with his pistol. Motioning Blair to stand well to the side, he prepared to confront whoever was knocking at their door.
Seeing Jim nod to him, Blair activated the remote door opener, tensely straining to see what had set his partner off. As the door opened, a figure dressed all in black leaped in, the metallic gleam of a knife blade in his hand. Waving it before him, he spotted the glowing figure off to one side and the intruder spoke.
"OK, If you don't want to get hurt, give me all your money!" The man obviously hadn't spotted Jim in his all black costume, as he turned his back on him, focusing on the garishly lit Blair.
"You're kidding, right?" Blair asked in surprise. He could see Jim shaking his head behind the invader. As the man stood staring at him, Blair could see the trembling in the man's hand by the way the knife blade shimmered under the black light.
"N-no! Give me your money or I'll cut you, man!" The stranger stiffened in shock as he felt the muzzle of Jim's gun gently prod him in the back.
"Now, if you don't want to die, I suggest you drop the knife, get on your knees and place your hands on top of your head with your fingers laced together," Jim's soft voice was even more frightening for its calmness. The would-be robber tossed the knife over toward Blair and fell to his knees, placing his laced hands on top of his head as instructed. His trembling even more apparent when Blair turned on the overhead lights.
"I'll call it in," Blair said, shaking his head as he turned toward the phone.
Jim nodded. Slipping his gun into the waistband of his trousers, he accepted the handcuffs Blair tossed to him and cuffed his prisoner's hands behind his back. "You have the right to remain silent..."
While they waited for the patrol officers to come and collect their dysfunctional robber, Jim slipped outside and checked out the area for any possible 'friends' of their guest. Satisfied that he was working alone, Jim came back in.
"He seems to be all alone, Chief. He said anything besides 'I wanna lawyer'?" Jim asked.
"No, but his shakes are getting worse," Blair pointed out.
"Withdrawal," Jim identified the symptoms. Turning to the man, more a boy, really, barely out of his teens, he gently asked, "What are you using?"
The kid shook his head in denial, "I-I'm not a user."
"Then why did you want to rob us?" Jim asked reasonably.
"I-it was a d-d-dare."
"You accepted a dare to do a home invasion robbery of a cop? Of two cops?" Blair asked in surprise.
"C-c-c-cops?! There was nothing about cops! It was supposed to be some college professor! They didn't say anything about any cops," the kid's voice turning into a whine as he stared from one man to the other.
"Who are they?" Jim asked gently.
"I-it was just supposed to be a Frat initiation was all," the young man whined. "They said it would be easy. Just go in, threaten the prof with a knife and get his wallet. Nobody said anything about there being a cop involved. They said it was just a joke, man. I swear!"
Jim and Blair exchanged looks over the kid's head. Blair couldn't help but feel sorry for him, he was so afraid that he had begun to cry; shaking and trying to control the sobs that threatened to overwhelm him.
"You're going to have to tell us everything. Let's start with your name," Blair said gently, sitting down beside the panic-stricken young man. Jim quietly faded into the background to allow his partner to work his magic on the kid.
"Marty. Marty Eiser," he whispered, his eyes searching Blair's for any kind of support.
"OK, Marty. Which Frat were you pledging?"
"The Alpha Sigma's," came the hesitant reply.
"You're kidding," Blair declared. "That's the big white supremacist frat. What are you doing pledging to that bunch?"
"What do you mean, 'white supremacists?" Marty asked, "My dad was an Alpha-Sig. That's not what they're about!"
"When and where did your dad go to school?" Blair asked.
"New York. We moved out here when I was three," Marty admitted.
"Yeah, well, they're known as skin-heads here. Couldn't you tell?"
Marty hung his head, ashamed. "I never asked. I just pledged. I guess that's why the hazing was so bad. This was supposed to be my last 'test'. If I could get Professor Sandburg's wallet, then I was in."
"And, of course, they'll deny even knowing you or anything about this," Jim said softly as he sat down across from them. Looking at his partner and seeing the rage in his eyes, he softly asked, "How would you like to help us get them? If you show up with Blair's wallet, they have to admit you, right?"
"I-I guess. They'll probably just say 'one more test'. That's what they've been saying every time I complete one of their stupid 'initiation rites'." The young man sighed. "Man, my dad's gonna kill me."
Jim, looking at his partner with a question in his eyes, nodded and rose to call Dispatch once more, canceling the request for a patrol car. Disconnecting from that call, he pressed the automatic dial for his captain.
Even at home on a Sunday night, the captain answered the phone with a curt "Banks."
"Hey, Simon. You remember the problem they were having with that fraternity at Rainier?" Jim spoke with no preamble.
"Yeah. What about them?"
"Well, we were invaded tonight by one of their pledges. They set him up, telling him that he had to rob a 'professor' and sending him here, with the predictable results. He's not hurt, but he's pretty scared. I'd kind of like to nail these punks, if that's all right with you, Sir," Jim explained.
"What did you have in mind?" Whatever relaxation he'd been feeling as he'd begun his nightly ritual preceding retiring for the night evaporated instantly. They'd been trying to get something on the Alpha Sigmas for months, but to no avail.
"Well, I was thinking that we could put a wire on him, give him Blair's wallet and send him back, with a bunch of us just outside, waiting for them to say enough to hang themselves, Sir." Jim caught Blair's eye and exchanged grins.
"Let me make a few calls and call you back. You're right. This could very well be the break we've been waiting for. Is your suspect willing to cooperate?" Simon asked, reaching for his personal address book to find the numbers he'd need to put this together on such short notice.
"Yeah. I think he is. He's just a kid who wanted to be in the same frat his dad was...only it's not the same fraternity at all."
"The pledge's name is Marty Eiser, Sir."
There was a moment of silence as Simon assimilated the information. "This could be very interesting."
While they waited for Simon to call them back, Jim released their prisoner from the handcuffs and got all the information he had on the people in charge of the Alpha Sigs, writing down names, dates, and hazing incidents.
"How long did they give you to get back?" Blair asked one final question.
"I've got until midnight."
"Then we've still got time," Jim said picking up the phone to answer on the first ring. "Ellison."
"Jim, we're all set. I'm on my way to your place, Joel, Brown, Connor and Rafe will be meeting us at your place with the equipment we'll need."
"We've got until midnight, that was the deadline they gave him. We need to keep close on this one, Sir. I don't want to run the risk of Marty getting hurt."
"Of course not. We'll keep right on top of him. At the first sign of trouble, we'll go in."
"Thank you, Sir."
Marty was terrified. The wire felt like it was a big, glaring neon sign, where it pressed against his back. Even with his baggy clothes, he was absolutely convinced that everyone would be able to see that he'd been wired for sound. Taking a deep breath and with one final glance toward the black van across the street from the frat-house, he turned and headed inside.
"Hell, Marty, what are you doing back here?" was his greeting as he entered the house.
"What do you mean? I did what you wanted me to do. I got that professor's wallet," Marty managed to sound almost as indignant as he felt as he held out the wallet to the waiting group. The leader took it and looked inside.
"Shit. Money, credit cards, the works. You did a good job, Eeser."
"It's Eiser," Marty automatically corrected.
The bigger boy drew himself up to tower intimidatingly over Marty. "You're name is whatever I damn well want it to be, pledge!" he snarled. "Just for that, you're going to have to do another little test," he smirked, winking at his cohorts. "Let's see, what should we have the little kike do? Any ideas, guys?"
"How about we have him bring us Sandburg?" one of the other boys suggested.
"Nah. I don't want that scum soiling our place with his presence," he looked measuringly at Marty. "What do you think your punishment should be?"
"I don't think I should be punished for wanting you to say my name correctly, Noodle." Marty's chin came up, challenging the larger man.
Grabbing Marty by his shirtfront, he pulled the slight body closer to him, "That's Knodle to you, punk!" he snarled.
Marty had the nerve to chuckle, "Yeah, I know. I've got an aunt by that name."
Knodle reacted by pushing him away, "I'm no Jew," he said between clenched teeth.
"Hey, my family doesn't practice, either," Marty claimed. "Doesn't really change anything though, you know?" He knew that these guys needed to say something incriminating, and was getting desperate enough to push.
"Hey, Barry, that true? Knodle's a Jewish name?" one of the others asked, backing away from him, slightly.
"No! It's German. I told you," he turned to his friends, all of whom seemed to be backing off from him. "Hey, you know me," his voice almost whining, "Besides, who's the one with the most hits, anyway? It sure ain't none of you!"
"Maybe you were just trying to infiltrate the Brotherhood, like Marty here," the biggest young man suggested. "At least he's blond and has blue eyes..."
"Yeah, Barry. What's up with this? You an infiltrator? You trying to get something on us? Marty's dad was an Alpha Sig. What was yours, huh?" The other members started to push in closer to their suddenly suspect leader.
"Back off!" Barry's voice rose in fear and anger. "Who was it who recruited all of you, huh? Who brought you into the Brotherhood? Where do you get off calling me a traitor, huh? Who was it who masterminded the burning down of that synagogue last month, huh? Who set up the paint bombs for the 'Gay Pride' parade, huh? I don't remember any of you coming up with the ideas. I seem to recall that some of you thought that it was 'too much'. But I didn't see any of you coming up with any other ideas." His followers looked at each other and started nodding.
"Yeah, that's right, Barry. You're the boss. It'd be pretty stupid for you not to be one of us," one of the other young men agreed.
"You're right, man. Sorry. The kike just got to us, is all," another said, placatingly.
"Yeah. We're all in this together, right, guys?" a third asked, received affirmative replies from the others.
While they were busy, Marty had eased his way away from the others, unnoticed in the confrontation. When the doors burst open and the police swarmed in, the members of the 'Brotherhood' were caught flat-footed. Staring around, wild-eyed, Barry caught sight of Blair.
"Damn it! Marty sold us out!" he screamed in rage. Lunging toward the former professor- turned-cop, he was brought up short by Detective James Ellison and Captains Joel Taggart and Simon Banks, who had formed a flying wedge to push their way through the fraternity members on their way to protect their wired informant. Barry took one swing at Jim, only to be brought up short by the big, beefy intercepting arm of Joel, who simply pushed a bit, while reaching out with his other hand to gently grasp Barry's shoulder. Before Barry had a chance to do much of anything, he found himself in a snug 'come-along' hold and being handed off to a uniformed officer who was waiting with a pair of handcuffs. The other members of the fraternity were too stunned to do much more than submit to arrest.
Once the group was rounded up and their rights read to them, they were escorted out to the waiting paddy wagon. Barry spent the entire time shouting threats and vituperative invective aimed at everyone involved. He was simply ignored.
Watching the vehicles pull away, Simon pulled out his cigar case and removed one of his cigars, snipping the end and lighting it. Glancing at Jim as he moved upwind, he smiled. "Good work, gentlemen. I'd say that the DA will be pleased with this evening's work. How about I buy you both a drink?" he offered.
"I think I could handle that, Sir," Jim smiled.
Turning to Marty, Simon scowled, "And as for you young man. I expect you down at the station first thing in the morning, classes or not, to make your statement. Either that or you can go now..." he trailed off.
Glancing nervously after the departed Frat members, he shook his head. "I'd better go now. They know where I live and I don't think I want to be there when they get out."
"That won't be until some time tomorrow, Marty," Blair softly told him, "I suspect that, due to the seriousness of the crimes they'll be charged with, the judge may just want to hold them until the trial; even if he doesn't, they have to be arraigned before bail is set."
"Blair's right, son. Go on home and get a good night's sleep and come down when you wake up. I'll assign the local patrol to cruise by your place often to check on you, OK?" Simon promised.
"Oh, OK. Thanks," and with that, Marty headed for his car and home.
After Simon called dispatch and made arrangements for a patrol car to keep an eye on their material witness, he turned to his friends and said, "So, let's go get that beer, gentlemen." The other members of Major Crime followed in their own vehicles, meeting at their usual watering hole. This close to closing time, there were only a few die-hard drunks left. As the group walked in, the remaining patrons did a quick double take and abruptly vacated the establishment.
"What do you suppose was wrong with them?" Rafe asked, turning to his friends. He turned pale and backed away. "Wha...?" The others turned to see what was frightening him so much. They all showed obvious signs of shock. They were all staring past Jim, who, curious, turned around. Spotting what had frightened his friends so, he started laughing. Blair, the last one in, looked around in confusion.
"What? What's wrong? What is it?" What'd I do?" his voice becoming more plaintive and agitated as his friends backed away from him.
Jim merely laughed, nearly hysterical. "I-it's OK, guys. That's just left over from the trick- or-treaters, earlier." His laughter turned to howls of hysterical glee as the others cautiously came closer to get a better look. Blair, at first confused, finally caught a look at himself in the mirror behind the bar and began laughing, as well.
The poor bartender looked ready to pass out as they approached the bar and placed their orders. Joel parked himself next to Blair and asked, "Didn't you scare the kids off with that get- up?"
"Nah. We'd posted a sign down in the foyer to let the parents know that we were giving out gift certificates and were in costume. When we figured it was too late for any more trick-or- treaters, we just took down the sign. Then Marty showed up, and the rest is history. I just took off my costume and forgot about the makeup."
"But you can't see it under streetlights or normal light. Why is that?" Brown asked curiously.
"That's because it's fountain tablets. You dissolve them in water for fountains? To make the water glow. I just scrubbed some of it on my face to make it look like it was rotting. Then I wore a white sheet around my shoulders, black socks and jeans and kind of glided across the room towards the kids. Then Jim would appear as the Grim Reaper and put the gift certificates in their bags. Pretty cool, huh?" Their friends chuckled at the vision his description brought to mind.
The bartender, realizing that Blair was wearing some kind of make-up that glowed under the bar's black lights, shook his head as he served them. "You know, this is probably going to be the only time I won't have to physically throw the last customers from the place at closing time, which is in half an hour, by the way."
"Not a problem," he was assured by all and sundry as they took their drinks and toasted on another on the luck of some people, to have several large, high profile crimes come into their home and solve themselves.
Jim and Blair shuffled home shortly after two a.m., tired from the late hour and the unexpected developments. They'd all been granted permission to come in late the following day, not having to be in until noon. Heading upstairs to his waiting bed, Jim smirked at his partner, "You'd better wash that stuff off before you go to sleep, Chief. You wouldn't want to accidentally turn on the black light and scare yourself."
"Funny, man. I want to wash it off just because of the chemicals." When he returned from his ablutions, he turned off the lights and checked the locks, knowing that Jim had, for once, failed to do so. He called a soft "Good night" up to his partner as he made his way to his own room and waiting bed.
By the time they reached the station the following day, the media had gotten a hold of the information on the arrests the previous night. Fortunately, they managed to bypass the waiting reporters by the simple expedient of pulling into the underground parking garage. Arriving up at Major Crime, they found Marty waiting for them. It seemed that the entire 'Brotherhood' of Alpha Sigmas were falling all over themselves trying to cut a deal by naming names and accusing each other. It was already in the hands of the District Attorney and there were noises coming from Federal Court that they were interested in trying the cases under Domestic Terrorism and Hate Crimes statutes. The judge at the hearing had denied bail based on the seriousness of the crimes and the very real possibility that the suspects might either flee or commit further crimes. Despite this, it was decided to provide Marty Eiser with around-the-clock protection until the case came to trial. At first, Marty was reluctant, but when it was pointed out that he could be in very real danger from other, still free members of the 'Brotherhood', he decided to accept the protection.
Three days later, the case was taken over by the Federal Court and US Marshals took over the protection duties for Marty. Later, it would be discovered that the 'Brotherhood' had extended throughout the Alpha Sigma organization, and more arrests were made in other jurisdictions, leading to an even longer trial process. The men and women of the Cascade PD were pleased with their part in breaking up the hateful organization. They laughingly accepted the part that pure, dumb luck had played in alerting them of the whole thing. The final upshot for Major Crime, was a unit citation from the FBI and the justice department, and the more stringent controls by the university on all fraternities and sororities, a move welcomed by many, and opposed by very few.
"So," Simon said, leaning back in his chair, his unlit cigar in hand, "I guess you two will have to go and testify when this finally comes to trial."
Jim shrugged. "Hard to say. By the time they finally bring it to trial, I may be retired, seeing how slowly the Feds move on these things."
"Besides, they've changed the venue to prevent the possibility of a biased jury," Blair added.
"Poor Marty, he's the one who's going to suffer most from this. They're going to have to keep him in protective custody until it's over and then he'll probably have to be put in the Witness Protection Program to keep him from being retaliated against," Jim added.
"Well, I'm just glad that they're gone. The Mayor's happy that they're gone and that we got it all on tape," Simon smiled. "So, if you two are through basking in your glory, I have a few more cases for you to take care of, if you don't mind." So saying, he straightened in his chair and pushed several folders across his desk toward his men. "Now, this one was turned over to us from Vice, it looks like we may have a serial killer on our hands and..."
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