Officer Down


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 He stood in the doorway to the miniscule office and watched for several moments. He was smiling softly as Kermit turned to glare at him.

"I've got to go, now. I'll talk to you later." He hung up the phone and turned and softly growled, "What?"

His smile broadened and he tilted his head down to look 'up' at his friend. "Annie says that if you're not at our house for supper tonight, that she's going to hunt you down."

Kermit groaned. "Paul...."

Paul was still grinning. "Hey, don't look at me. If you want to bow out, YOU call her and tell her."


Paul shook his head, still grinning. "Nope. She told me to tell you that you're expected and that if you don't show, that you'll have to answer to her. I've done my part. The rest is between you and my wife." Paul turned to head back to his own office, one hand rising to try and wipe the smile from his face.

Kermit called softly after him, "Does the term 'pussy-whipped' mean anything to you?"

Paul guffawed and turned back. "By Annie? I'm proud of that fact, my friend."

He couldn't stop laughing at the look on Kermit's face as he turned back around and walked away.

Peter couldn't help but overhear Paul's laughter. Turning in his chair, he looked through the open door and could see the scowl on their new computer expert's face.

Frowning, he stood up and approached the open door while watching his captain enter his office and close his door. Leaning in the doorway, he watched the scowling ex-mercenary as he gritted his teeth and snapped a pencil between his fingers, then threw the pieces across the room.

"Hey, what's wrong?"

Kermit gave the kid his most ferocious glare and was just a bit disappointed when he didn't even flinch. "Oh, nothing. Nothing at all. Damn him!"

Peter waited and when the man finally stopped muttering under his breath, asked, "So, what'd he say?"

Kermit sighed. Looking up at the younger man, he shook his head. He should have realized that any man Paul had raised would be immune to any lesser glare than that of the man, himself. "I've been given orders to be at their house for supper tonight."

Peter brightened up. "Oh? Hey, good goin'. Mom's a great cook. Let's see...it's Wednesday, so that means... either fried chicken or a pot roast. You got lucky, man."

Kermit leaned back in his chair and gaped. "You've got to be kidding."

Peter grinned and shook his head. "I kid you not. Her fried chicken is the best on the planet. I should know. I've certainly eaten enough of it."

"Fine, then you go in my place."

Peter grinned at the idea, but then he frowned. He wasn't a detective for nothing, after all. "Uh, one question. You said that Mom sent the orders?"

"Yeah," Kermit sighed.

Peter straightened up and started backing away. "Uh, no, thanks. I've uh, kind of got plans for tonight. You just, uh, go and have a great time." Far enough away, he spun and headed back to his desk. Kermit watched with a wry expression on his face.

"Yeah. You're smart, kid. Run. Run very far, and very fast."

Peter grabbed his jacket and his partner and scurried out the door. Paul just grinned as he watched through the window of his office.

"What was that about?" Mary Margaret asked, jerking her arm from his grasp.

"Annie sent Paul with orders to invite Kermit over for supper tonight, and Kermit doesn't want to go."

"And we are running away because...?"

"Because he tried to get me to go in his place."

Mary Margaret smiled, understanding. "Good move, partner. There's hope for you, yet."

"Yeah, yeah, just get in the car, will you?"

"Sure. But where are we going?"

Peter stopped, thinking hard. "Gotta catch up with Donny Double-D and see what's shakin' around the lowlifes?"

His partner laughed and got in the car.

Two hours later, Kermit tapped on the captain's door. Looking up, Paul waved him in.

Kermit entered, closed the door, and then the blinds. He wanted this to be private.

Paul watched him, amused. Kermit leaned against the door, staring at the closed blinds for almost three minutes. Paul simply waited patiently, knowing how long it would probably take his friend to figure out what he was going to say.

"Paul, I really do NOT want to come for supper at your house tonight."

"Do you have a date?" Paul asked gently, leaning back in his chair, his gold pen in his hand, rolling and twiddling it.

Kermit thought for just an instant about lying, but then said, "No."

"Do you have a stakeout you can't possibly miss?"

Kermit shook his head and turned towards Paul. Slumping down in a chair, he muttered "No."

Paul nodded. He knew he shouldn't be taking such pleasure in his friend's discomfort, but every once it a while, it could just be so much fun.

"So, you've got orders to catch a plane to Iraq?"

"No. You know I don't."

"Then why would you want to disappoint the lovely and talented Annie by not coming?"

Kermit squirmed. Paul lifted one hand to try and cover his grin, but Kermit knew, and Paul knew Kermit knew, and Kermit knew that Paul knew that he knew. He sighed and finally looked at his friend. "Not tonight. Please?"



"You know why." Paul, serious now, leaned forward. "Because you're our friend, Kermit. You're important to us. Because we want you there. Annie wants you there."

Kermit looked away, fighting the urge to remove his sunglasses. "I'd rather not," he almost whispered.

"I know. But you know Annie. This was her idea. I had no knowledge or collusion on it. She simply announced this morning that I was to bring you home for supper tonight." He sat back in his chair again. "And, as you said, I try to give Annie anything she wants. Tonight, she wants you at our home, for dinner." He grinned. "You have two choices. You can either come FOR dinner, or be skewered by my wife and served AS dinner."

Kermit couldn't help himself. He chuckled. Shaking his head, he met Paul's gaze and nodded. "What time?" he asked, standing.


"I'll be there."

"Don't be late. If you are, I can't promise to protect you...if I'm even still alive if she thinks I didn't tell you."

Kermit paused at the door, considering, then he shook his head. "A fate worse than death, my friend. That would be a fate worse than death."

When Peter finally felt it was safe enough, he and his partner returned to the station to fill out their reports. He'd managed to track down his snitch, but the streets were unnaturally quiet at the moment.

It made the hair on the back of his neck stand up, and he frequently looked over his shoulder, trying to spot...something.

Paul paused by Peter's desk, his overcoat draped over his arm. "You're coming for supper tonight, right?"

Peter looked up, surprised. "Huh?" he asked, brightly.

Paul shook his head and smiled. "You. Supper. Home."

"Uh, but I thought..."

"Stop thinking. Are you coming or not?"

Peter grinned, "Sure." Paul nodded and turned to head out. "Uh, Paul?"

He stopped and turned back, with a interrogatory look on his face

"Uh, what's the occasion? I mean, that Kermit's going under pain of Mom?"

Paul smiled. Glancing around, he leaned close to whisper to his foster son, "Come and find out." Ruffling Peter's hair, he chuckled and turned away. Pounding on Kermit's door, he called out, "Come on, Kermit. It's time to go!"

The door opened and the dour Kermit exited, pulling on his overcoat. Peter, seeing the glare even from behind the dark glasses, turned back to his work, hurrying to finish so he could get home in time to watch the fireworks.

He shouldn't have been surprised that Paul would actually escort his guest out. He'd probably follow him home, too. Peter wanted to see this, so as soon as they were out the door, he shuffled his files together and rose to leave, himself.

Mary Margaret just shook her head and grinned at him as he hurried after the others.

Peter decided to take the stairs because he spotted Paul and Kermit waiting for the elevator. He didn't want them to know he was tailing them.

Trotting down the stairs, he tried to figure out what the occasion was that had Annie inviting the former mercenary home for supper. As he reached the ground floor, he gave up trying to guess and just wanted to get to his car.

He exited the stairwell and burst through the exterior door into madness. People were screaming and running all up and down the sidewalk. He ducked as he heard gunfire. Peering carefully around the doorway, he scanned the street and blanched. There were two figures lying prone on the pavement. There was no mistaking those overcoats or the forms wearing them. Gasping in horror, he pulled out his cell phone and dialed the bullpen. His partner answered on the first ring.

"Skalany! We got a sniper out here. He's got Paul and Kermit!"

Mary Margaret told him to call 911 for paramedics while she got the station mobilized.

He cast another look outside, trying to spot the sniper as he pushed the buttons.

"911 operator, what is your emergency?"

"Officer down, in front of the hundred and first precinct! Officer down! Officer down!"

He spotted a movement from the multi-level parking garage across the street and recognized the glint of sunlight off a riflescope. Dropping his cell phone, he drew his pistol and took careful aim.

Realizing his hands were shaking, he took a deep breath, juggled his gun to wipe his sweating palms on his pants, and then took aim again. Taking another deep breath, he half-exhaled, held his breath, and squeezed, just like Paul had taught him so long ago.

He watched as the reflective glass exploded and saw the shooter seemingly fly back away from the opening. He watched for several seconds to see if he reappeared. When he didn't, he threw the door all the way open and ran for the two downed figures.

With Peter's movement, dozens of police officers rushed out of the building and scattered. Some rushed to check on other victims of the sniper fire, others headed for the parking garage, and still others rushed to the two officers.

None of them were as fast as Peter. They may have been closer, but he had the wings of urgency and terror on his feet. Sliding on his knees to a stop beside the two men, he started shaking, suddenly drawing a blank on what to do.

Seeing the pistol still in his hand, he holstered it. With a trembling hand, he reached out to try to find a pulse. He let his held breath out in a gust when he felt the steady throbbing. Turning to the other man, he shook even harder. He didn't notice the tears streaking down his face. "No. No. Paul?" He tried again. He couldn't find it...wait! There! "Hang on, Paul. Hang on, you hear me?"

He kept berating both men to keep breathing and made dire threats of what he'd do to them if they died. He never even heard the sirens as the paramedics and ambulance showed up.

Both men were unconscious but there was surprisingly very little blood. Peter didn't know if that was good or bad. He watched as they applied backboards to the two men before turning them over to complete their examination.

One of the paramedics pushed him out of the way, but he didn't move far.

"Anybody got names on these two?"

Peter was right there with the answer. "The one with the sunglasses is Kermit Griffin, the other one is Captain Paul Blaisdell."

The medic looked up at him. "Anything else?"

"Uh, yeah. He's my dad," he admitted, wiping his hands on his jeans again.

He watched them work. Getting impatient, he asked, "How are they?"

"Too soon to tell."

Peter managed to keep out of their way, but barely. Skalany came up and tugged him away. "Peter, who's going to tell your mom?"

From nearly hysterical with worry, he turned to pale and terrified. "Oh, God. Mom. She's going to kill us all." He looked hopefully at Mary Margaret, but she just shook her head and backed away. "Oh, no. It's all yours."


"No way, partner. But I suggest you get going so you can pick her up and have her at the hospital as soon as you can."

Peter looked again at the two injured men and groaned. As he steeled himself to do what he had to, he noticed Paul's hand move.

He hurried over, stopping the ambulance crew from taking him just yet. "Paul? Paul, can you hear me?"

"Peter," Paul's voice was hoarse from pain. "Tell Annie that it wasn't Kermit's fault?"

Peter froze. "What?"

"Tell her that it wasn't Kermit's fault," Paul spoke a little more forcefully.

Shaking his head in frustrated confusion, he agreed. "Okay, sure, I'll tell her." The ambulance attendant made an annoyed noise.

"Uh, okay. I'm gonna go get Mom and we'll meet you at the hospital, okay?"

"Good boy." Paul's hand patted Peter's arm. "Peter?"


"Wear your kevlar."

For just a moment, Peter was horrified, but then the reasoning struck him and he couldn't help but laugh, albeit a bit hysterically. "Yes, sir." He took a look at the still unconscious Kermit and frowned. There was an interesting bump forming on his forehead. He shook his head as he realized what must have happened. Somehow, Paul had seen something, who knew what, and had pushed Kermit down; and poor Kermit had hit his head on the pavement, knocking himself cold. Looking more closely, he could now see that there was no blood on Kermit's body. Reassured, he hurried to his car, got in, and less than a minute later peeled rubber taking off to tell Annie and take her to the hospital.

He pulled into the driveway and parked. Taking a deep, steadying breath, he got out and made for the front door, which opened before he got there.

"Peter! You're the first one here. Where are Paul and Kermit?"

He slowed down and began gnawing on his lower lip. "There's been a shooting," he began hesitantly.

Annie became very still. "How bad?"

"Don't know for sure. They were just loading them up to take to the hospital."


"He was unconscious for a bit. I didn't see a lot of blood, but that may or may not mean anything. He woke up and told me to come and get you. He warned me to wear my kevlar," he added.

Annie smiled a bit grimly. It had been a message for her, as well as Peter. "Let me get my coat and we can go, then." She turned back into the house and walked unerringly to the kitchen to turn off the various items cooking on the stove and in the oven.

Peter got her coat from the front closet and when she came back, held it for her. Locking the door behind them, she took his arm and he escorted her to the car.

She asked no questions on the trip to the hospital and Peter wouldn't have known what to say even if she had.

They pulled into the hospital parking lot and he was fortunate enough to find a close space. She held his arm and they went through the emergency room entrance.

Peter headed right for the admissions counter. The young woman there looked up at him, a harried expression on her face. "Can I help you?"

"Two police officers were just brought in. How are they doing?"

She sighed. "Well, one of them is in surgery, and the other one is..." she was interrupted by a loud crash and raised voices. She shook her head. "I think that the intern who tried to take his gun may be in real trouble."

Annie, despite her worry about her husband, couldn't help the titter of amusement that escaped. "Peter, help me find Kermit."

The nurse, horrified, tried to stop them, "You can't go back there! Security's been called, let them handle it. That guy is DANGEROUS!"

Peter, suspecting what Annie might have in mind smiled reassuringly at the nurse.

"Don't worry. If anybody can defuse Kermit, it's my mom." Turning, he led her through the doors and followed the sounds of battle. Coming to a stop outside of ER room 8, Peter took a quick look behind the curtain.

It was worse than he'd thought.

Kermit had regained consciousness, obviously. Some idiot had taken his shades, and someone else had attempted to take his gun. That had probably been what brought him around.

One intern was leaning against the wall, cradling his broken wrist against his chest. A security guard was out cold on the floor. A second security guard was trying to hide behind the nurse, who was trying desperately to get away, not wanting to be anywhere near the berserk patient.

"Kermit? Is there a problem?" Annie asked in a tone of voice that made Peter wince in sympathy. He knew that voice, it even made Paul grovel.

There was sudden silence. "Annie?" Kermit asked very softly, trying, belatedly, to smooth over the situation.

"Who else, Kermit?" She shook her head. Kermit, squinting from the overly bright fluorescent lighting, recognized the expression on her face. "I can explain,"

"I'm sure you can. However, I really only have one question for you."

Relief flashed across Kermit's face. "What's that?"

"Are there no lengths you won't go to, to try and keep from coming for dinner?"

Peter choked on his sudden urge to laugh. Trying to cover by turning it into a cough, he turned away, swiping at the tears of pain from trying so hard.

Kermit backed up. "Annie, I assure you, I was on my way to your house. You can't blame me because some crazy sniper decided to start popping off."

Kermit froze, a frown creasing his face. "Paul. How's Paul?"

"We don't know yet," Peter told him. "He was awake when they loaded him in the ambulance. He's in surgery, now."

Kermit growled. "I blew it. I never saw a thing. Paul must have because he had time to say 'down' as he shoved me." He looked at Peter, "The sniper?"

Peter shook his head. "I think I got him. I know I hit something, but I don't know the results."

Kermit nodded and turned his attention back to Annie. Her expression was implacable and he knew he was still in very deep trouble.

"Annie, we were on our way, I assure you."

She sighed and shook her head. "I'm sure you were, Kermit. But it seems very odd to me that every time we try this, something 'just happens to come up' to prevent it. Don't you think that's odd?"

"Bad karma?" Kermit offered lamely.

Annie shook her head again. "Are you finished terrorizing the hospital staff, now?"

Kermit looked like a chastised little boy, "Yes, Annie."

Annie smiled. "Good. Now, give Peter your gun, someone give Kermit back his glasses, and you're going to let the nice doctor take care of you... right?" she added the last in her famous 'no nonsense' voice.

Kermit winced. "Yes, Annie." Kermit drew his weapon with two fingers and Peter relieved him of it. The nurse picked up his sunglasses from the floor and handed them back to him, who immediately put them back on.

The one security guard helped his partner up and they slithered out. The injured intern carefully made his way out to find help, and a doctor came in, now that it was safe.

They were still examining Kermit when a surgeon came looking for Annie.

"Mrs. Blaisdell?"

"Yes?" She turned towards the voice.

"I'm Doctor Jakobs," he announced. He frowned, wondering what was going on, here, but didn't comment. "Your husband's out of surgery and in recovery."

"How is he?" Annie asked, her hand grasping Peter's arm, her fingers digging in hard.

The doctor smiled reassuringly, not realizing she couldn't see.

"He's doing fine. He got shot twice, once in the chest, piercing the lung, the second one grazed his temple, which is what caused the initial unconsciousness."

"How bad?"

The doctor shook his head, "There was remarkably very little damage. The bullets were .22s."

Peter frowned. "Who would use a .22 for sniping?" he asked a bit plaintively.

Kermit answered. "Either someone who is very, very good, or a rank amateur."

"Gee, that answers that, now doesn't it?" Peter grumbled.

Kermit shrugged, dodging the nurse who was trying to swab the tiny cut in the middle of the goose egg on his forehead. He froze when Annie turned to him.

"Quit fidgeting, Kermit. Don't make me hold you down."

Kermit groaned and held still. The nurse decided that she needed to get to know what this little lady had going for her to so easily discombobulate this very dangerous man... and then she wondered just how dangerous she must be to frighten such a man. He shot a glare at Peter when he was unable to smother his snicker.

Peter just smirked at him and mouthed what he'd overheard Kermit say to Paul earlier that day. He was tickled when Kermit flushed scarlet. Peter didn't try and hide his grin.

"Peter, stop tormenting Kermit," Annie warned. Peter stopped smiling and Kermit smirked at him.

"And whatever you said, Peter, I'd like to hear about it, later."

Peter paled, but so did Kermit.

Turning back to the doctor, she asked, "When can I see my husband?"

"He'll be out of recovery in about an hour. As soon as he's in a room, I'll have someone come and get you."

Annie smiled, "Thank you, Dr. Jakobs." She turned her attention back to Kermit. "Are you going to admit him?"

The ER doctor glanced at her. "Well, he was unconscious for several minutes, I'm tempted to admit him for observation," the nurse shivered and tromped hard on his foot and he yelped.

Kermit grinned, until Annie made a suggestion, her face all innocent and smiling. "He can come home with me. I can keep an eye on him. I've been through concussions often enough, before."

The nurse beamed at her and applied a band-aid to Kermit's cut. The doctor was smart enough to take the offered way out. "That would be splendid!" he agreed.

Once all the paperwork was filled out, Kermit was released into Annie's care. Scowling, he followed her up to Paul's room, growling every time Peter got near him.

Paul didn't really look that bad. He was a bit pale and the bandage on his temple was unpleasant, but when Peter placed Annie's hand on her husband's and stepped back, none of them were surprised when his breathing changed and he opened his eyes.

"Hey, babe," he murmured, squeezing her hand.

Annie smiled. "I think I'm getting a complex, Paul. Every time, something comes up to ruin it."

"Not his fault, this time, I'm afraid."

She sighed, "No, I suppose not." Then she grinned. "Of course, I get him for the next two days,"

"Overnight!" Kermit exclaimed, panic tingeing his voice.

Paul glared at him. "If Annie says two days, it's going to be two days, Kermit."

Kermit's face screwed up like an infant considering throwing a tantrum, "But Paul," he whined.

Annie turned on him. "Well, if you'd simply stop being such a difficult child every year, this wouldn't happen."

Kermit's head dropped in defeat. "Yes, Annie."

Paul chuckled. "Seems to me, Kermit, that I may be 'pussy-whipped' as you put it, but I'm married to her. What's your excuse?"

Annie lifted an eyebrow and 'looked' at Kermit. "He's what?" she asked, very softly.

Kermit mumbled something no one could understand.

"What was that, Kermit?"



He sighed. "Paul, I apologize. I'm sorry. You are not pussy-whipped."

"Damned straight. I just know where my strength lies, and she's glaring holes in you right now." Paul chuckled, wincing in pain.

Peter smirked and Annie slapped him. "Peter?"

"Yes, Mom?"

"You're not too big for me to put over my knee, young man."

She'd never in his life struck him. "Sorry, Mom,"

Paul shook his head. "I've got kind of an odd question. Why don't I hurt like I usually do when I get shot?"

Peter and Kermit exchanged relieved grins. Leave it to Paul to defuse Annie by changing the subject. "Whoever it was, they used a .22."

Paul scowled. "A .22? We got sniped by an amateur?" Seeing their nods of agreement, he said, "Talk about embarrassing," he grumbled

"I'm just glad that you're going to be all right," Annie said, leaning down to kiss him.

Their audience looked away, embarrassed.

"Maybe I won't be here too long, then, babe?" Paul asked hopefully.

"Well, you'll stay here and be good for as long as they decide to keep you."

Paul scowled. "I'd do much better at home," he suggested.

Peter grinned, "You could always pull a Kermit, Paul."

Paul looked at him, then at the blushing Kermit. "Oh?" He didn't smile as Kermit squirmed under his gaze. "No. I have no desire to terrorize innocent hospital staff. I never know when I might need to be in their good graces."

A nurse entered and told them that they would have to leave, as the patient needed his rest. She warily watched Kermit, word having spread like staph. They trooped out to Peter's car. Kermit silently got in the back seat and they headed back to the Blaisdell house.

Once in the house, Annie asked if anyone were hungry. Receiving affirmative answers, she headed for the kitchen. Soon, the wonderful smells of fried chicken and all the trimmings tantalized their olfactory senses.

Sitting in the kitchen to eat, Peter finally asked the question that had been nagging him all day. "So, what's the occasion that we're celebrating?"

Annie smiled. "That Paul and Kermit didn't die today sounds like a good reason to me."

"Well, sure, but what's the reason for the initial invitation, and why didn't Kermit want to come?" Peter looked to Kermit for an answer.

Shaking his head, Kermit sighed. "If you must know, it's my birthday."

Peter stared. Looking at Annie, he started to ask, then shook his head and, mouth open, stared at Kermit. "Your birthday. Your birthday! What's wrong with celebrating your birthday?"

Annie folded her napkin and placed it by her plate. She sighed. "Because, every single time I invite him over for dinner for his birthday, every SINGLE, SOLITARY time, something happens." She giggled. "One year, a war broke out, another time, there were some terrorists who grabbed some tourists, another time, it was a drug lab in South America. This year, it was an amateur sniper."

Kermit's expression softened. "Yeah, but I'm usually the one who gets hurt. This time, it was Paul," he reminded her apologetically.

Peter shook his head. "So, why don't you invite him for dinner the day before, or the day after?"

"Because he needs something for his birthday."

"So, send him flowers!" Peter declared, "Break the chain. Do something different."

"Flowers?" Kermit growled.

Annie smiled. "Hmmmm."

"Annie, no." Kermit demanded.

"Well, it doesn't have to be flowers, I know, but a gift...maybe a new gun cleaning kit? Several boxes of ammunition? Oooh! I know, kevlar underwear!" Her last suggestion threw both men off for just a moment, then Peter started to snicker. Kermit glared at him, but the corners of his mouth were twitching.

Annie was smiling brightly. "Kevlar underwear with Muppets on them?" she suggested innocently.

Kermit choked, and then roared with laughter. "Y-you wouldn't dare!" he choked out, trying desperately to stop laughing.

Annie's eyes gleamed with mischief. "Dare? Did you just 'dare' me, Kermit Griffin?"

Kermit stopped laughing. "You wouldn't. Please, tell me you wouldn't?"

Annie just smiled. "Well, you're going to have to wait until next year to find out, won't you?"

Kermit buried his head in his hands. "Oh, man. I think I should have stayed in the hospital." He looked at Peter, "Pete, buddy. Take me back to the hospital? I'll just stay there and keep Paul company. Pete?"

Peter shook his head. "Not just no, but HELL no. If you think I'm going to disappoint my mom by removing the opportunity of waking you up every two hours to see if your head is still attached, you can just think again.

"Peter," Kermit whined. Peter stood, shaking his head.

"Nope. Sorry. Mom, supper was wonderful, as always, and I hate to eat and run, but I really need to get going. One of us has got to go to work in a few more hours."

Annie smiled and kissed his cheek when he bent down to her. "You take care, dear."

"Yes, ma'am," he promised. "Catch you later, Kermit."

Kermit watched him leave, a wistful expression on his face.

Annie stood up. "You know where the guest room is. You get to bed and I'll clean up."

"I can help you."

"Of course you can, but you've been injured and need your rest, too. Besides, Peter was right. I will be waking you up every couple of hours."

Knowing he was beaten, he paused to kiss her cheek and made his way upstairs to the guestroom.

He headed for the bathroom and took a shower, when he was finished, he returned to his room and slid into bed. Within moments, he was asleep.

Annie paused as she made her way to her room. She was going to have a very bad night's sleep, and she was almost vindictively going to enjoy waking Kermit up every two hours, but she'd rather have had her husband at home. Perhaps in a few days.

Just three days later, Paul was home again. He was healing rapidly, much to her satisfaction. As she tucked him in, she sat beside him. "Peter had a suggestion."

"Oh? About what?"

"Kermit's birthday."

"What was it?"

"He suggested we send him flowers."

Paul chortled, "I'm sure that he'd love them,"

"No, he'd be mortified. But the idea of a gift is good, isn't it?"

Paul thought about it. "What kind of gift?"

She grinned impishly, "Well, I threw out a few suggestions the other night, I think the kevlar underwear might be a pretty good one."

Paul shook his head. "It's hard enough to get him to wear it in the field, if you think he's going to wear it like that, he'd prefer the flowers."

She sighed, knowing he was right. "So, what do you suggest?"

Paul thought, "Well, maybe we should take him out for dinner, instead of you always trying to cook for him?"

"Paul, how often does that man get a home-cooked meal?"

"Every time I can manage to drag him home? He does cook, you know."

"How often?"

He sighed and then brightened. "How about we invite him every month, not just for his birthday or when he's hurt?"

Annie smiled. "What a great idea, but when his next birthday comes along, what are we going to do?"

Paul sighed. "Buy him a concubine?"


"Well, it was just a thought," her husband replied.

"You're incorrigible."

"And you love me anyway."

She smiled. "Yeah, I do." She pulled her legs up onto the bed and rested against his uninjured side.

"Let's worry about his birthday next year, okay?"

"Okay. Have I mentioned lately that I love you?"

"Not since I got home."


<fade to black >

One year later.

Kermit Griffin made his way through the bullpen to his miniscule office. He frowned when he noticed that the door, which he ALWAYS locked, was open. Looking around, he didn't see anything out of the ordinary.

Pushing the door open, he flipped on the light switch. He looked around. Except for one little thing, his office was just as he'd left it. The one out-of-place thing, however, made his face burn. Stepping in, he quickly closed and locked the door behind him.

It was small, considering. There was a coffee cup with a certain Muppet on it, and it was currently holding a lovely little floral arrangement. He gingerly pulled the card from the holder and opened it.

Despite his embarrassment, he couldn't help but smile.

He moved the flowers over by the phone, sat down, and powered up the computer. As he waited, he re-read the card and started to chuckle. Putting the card aside, he logged onto the internet. Bringing up Teleflora, he decided that two could play at this game....

the end.

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