A/N: A bit of belated fluff for our favorite couples' 2nd anniversary!
A tall, athletically-built blonde woman pulled open the heavy glass door and entered the Driscoll County Jail, pausing a moment to stomp her booted feet just inside the door to dislodge the snow, ice and salt from them. As she approached the reception desk, she pushed the hood of her faux fur-trimmed parka back from her head and unzipped the front of the coat.
"Officer," she flatly greeted the man behind the desk. He was somewhere in his late twenties or early thirties, thin and nervous, with an old-school crew cut and an immaculately pressed uniform. Eve smiled in satisfaction as she quickly assessed her "enemy": His uniform didn't look quite "cop" enough. Not regular law enforcement, more likely civilian reserve. In short—a grunt hired to do the tedious, relatively unimportant tasks that the full-fledged officers didn't have time to do themselves. She put on her unimpressed military officer face and pulled out her old NATO identification. She flipped it open just long enough for the reserve officer to see the large "NATO" and her picture.
"Colonel Eva Gabor, NATO Counter-Terrorism Unit. I understand you that have two of my people here. An old man with white hair and a young woman, redhead?"
The young man behind the reception desk blinked in astonishment at the terse introduction, and gawked at the impressive and intimidating piece of identification. He licked his lips nervously as he glanced from the ID to the severe expression on the face of the woman in front of him.
"Uh, yeah, we've got them!" he squawked, getting up from his chair so quickly that it rolled away behind him and bumped into a filing cabinet across the small office space. "We…we picked them up a couple of hours ago..."
"I know," she cut him off. "I'm here to take custody of them." The officer gaped, confused.
"'Scuse me?" he asked. Eve dropped her head and stared hard into his hazel eyes.
"That's ''scuse me, ma'am' to you, mister!" she snapped sharply. "And I'm here to take custody of my people!" She spoke slowly, as if talking to a small child.
"They're important material witnesses in a terrorism case I've been working on for the last two years. Unfortunately, they don't like being witnesses in protective custody, so they somehow managed to escape the agents assigned to watch them. So if you would please bring them out now, I'll sign any paperwork you need and we'll be on our way and I can get them back into protective custody before some extremist can fulfill any of the ten dozen fatwas that have been placed on their heads." The officer swallowed hard and his expression became even more nervous.
"F-fatwas?" the reserved officer repeated, confused. Eve sighed and rolled her eyes dramatically.
"Yes, fatwas," she said acidly, her tone conveying disbelief that she had to explain something so simple. "You know— legal opinions or decrees handed down by a mufti? These two have managed to piss off a lot of muftis around the Muslim world. A lot of muftis. Including one who just so happens to be the spiritual leader of a fundamentalist extremist group and has sworn to see their heads on sticks, no matter how many others they have to kill to get to them!"
"OH! Muftis!" the reservist said, laughing nervously, trying desperately to cover up the fact that he had no idea what a fatwa or a mufti was. "I thought you said, um. 'sushi'! My bad! Fatwas, yeah, I gotcha now—yeah, bad stuff, those fatwas!" Eve leaned back and nodded in understanding.
"Fine. Now, if you would please go get my witnesses…?"
"Um, I…I don't think I can do that...ma'am," he said, his words stumbling slightly from his lips, his eyes bugging wide at risking making this NATO colonel mad again. "I don't have the authority…"
"Then get me someone who does!" Eve barked, carefully modulating her tone to indicate that she wasn't used to having her orders questioned. The reserve cop jumped a little bit and blinked in surprise.
"That…that would be Sheriff McGill!" he said quickly, eager to please the imposing woman. "But...but he's not here right now, he's on a Code 7!"
A what?!" she snapped, edging her tone closer to anger.
"C-Code 7, ma'am!" the reservist yelped. "He's…he's on a meal break! He won't be back in an hour, hour and half; the Blue Plate Inn is serving fried chicken tonight, see, with all the fixings, and Sheriff McGill just loves their fried chicken...!" Eve pulled herself upright and gave him her coldest glare.
"I. Don't. Have. An. Hour!" she answered, biting off each word in a low, clearly threatening tone. She stepped forward, placed both hands on the desk and leaned forward into the reservist's personal space.
"You get me those people, mister, and you get them for me right now!" she growled, her icy blue eyes burning onto his. "This is a matter of national security, and if I have to go Patriot Act on your downy ass, I will!" She leaned forward a bit more, twisted her lips into a confident sneer.
"Or do you want to be the one responsible for allowing a terrorist attack on the United States? Because if you don't release my people to me this minute, that's what's going to happen—" She made a show of peering at his name badge. "Officer Jason Brown. And then you'll not only have NATO to deal with, but you'll also have Homeland Security, the FBI, the CIA and very likely Interpol and Scotland Yard as well—all of them passing you around for interrogation like a pack of cheap smokes in the yard at Sing-Sing!" Officer Brown's eyes widened, perspiration starting to dampen his forehead. Eve stood up and continued to glare at him.
"So, what's it going to be?" she asked, her tone pure contempt. When he continued to hesitate, she slowly pulled out her phone. "All right, then. A call to the Director of Homeland Security it is."
"No, wait!" the panicked man said, nearly shouting as he held out his hands. Eve paused and looked at him inquiringly.
"I-I guess I can transfer custody if…if it's to an agency higher up on the chain of command!" he hurried on. "If it's...it's a matter of national security and all!" Eve smiled and, to his immense relief, slid her phone back into her pocket.
"You'll…you'll have to sign some transfer forms, though…" he continued in a slightly calmer voice.
"Of course, Officer," she said amiably. "Whatever you need." As Officer Brown scrambled to find the correct paperwork, Eve rested on one elbow against the reception desk.
"By the way, what were the charges they were arrested on?" she asked, her tone of voice indicating only mild curiosity now.
"Lewd conduct in a public place," he said, glad to be on the NATO colonel's good side now. Eve literally bit her tongue to keep herself from bursting into laughter.
"I see," she said tersely. "And how did that happen?"
"One of the deputies caught 'em in the act up at Snyder's Bluff," he went on, snorting in nervous amusement. "He goes up there every night to chase the teenagers off. Snyder's Bluff is kinda the local make-out spot, see."
Eve turned her head and pressed her lips together, struggling to stifle her laughter. Cassandra and Jenkins had gone to New York City to celebrate their second wedding anniversary. While they were in the area, they decided to visit an antique dealer friend they somehow knew in Grandview, just to the northwest of New York, a woman named Melinda Gordon. There happened to be a winter festival of some sort going on in Grandview, so Cassandra had called Eve earlier in the day and told her that she and Jenkins were going to stay in Grandview overnight so that they could attend the festival. On their friend's recommendation, Jenkins was going to drive them up to this Snyder's Bluff after dinner to take in the view of the town, decorated and lit up especially for the festival, and spend some "quiet time" together as a couple, as Cassandra had called it. Hours later the Librarian had called Eve again, this time frantic, and told her that they had been arrested. Cassandra hadn't gone into any details, only begged Eve to come to Driscoll County Jail and bail them out.
Now the Guardian could just picture the scene: Jenkins driving Cassandra up to the bluff to take in the picturesque view of the little village of Grandview below, snow-covered and lit up for the winter festival. How the two lovebirds would cuddle with each other in their rental car, inevitably share a romantic kiss, one thing leading to another and then another and then another—until the local deputy rapped on the car window with his flashlight, thinking he'd caught himself a couple of horny teens only to discover a couple of horny adults, instead.
"If you'll just sign these, ma'am?" Officer Brown, said, interrupting her thoughts. He slid a clipboard full of papers with large red X's marked to indicate where her signature went. She scrawled "Col. Eva Gabor" onto the forms quickly, not even bothering to read them. Since she wasn't using her real name anyway, it didn't really matter what they said. When she was finished she handed the clipboard back.
"Thank you, Colonel Gabor!" Brown said. "If you'll just wait here, please, I'll go and bring out your prisoners."
"Witnesses, officer!" Baird corrected him. "They just think they're prisoners." Brown flashed a small, anxious smile before turning and hurrying out of the reception area.
"Yes, ma'am!" Brown turned and scurried through the door.
About thirty minutes later, Officer Brown reappeared with an Assistant Jailer, the two "escapees" with them. The moment Eve saw them, she had to look away to keep from laughing. Slightly disheveled and both unexpectedly wearing a full set of shackles: Handcuffs secured to a thick leather belt around their waists that held their hands completely immobile, their ankles linked together by a short chain that allowed only small, shuffling steps, Jenkins and Cassandra appeared through the door, each of them clumsily clutching a large manila envelope containing their returned personal possessions. As soon as they saw Baird, Cassandra dropped her head, grinning like the proverbial cat that had eaten the canary, while Jenkins, trying to look stoic, only managed to look absolutely mortified.
"Here you go, Colonel," announced Brown, opening the reception office door to allow the "prisoners" out into the foyer. "Um, it just occurred to me: We never got the chance to fully process them into the jail facility itself; they were just in a holding cell when you got here, so we haven't strip-searched them yet. You want us to do that now for you before you take them? You know, make sure they aren't hiding a weapon anywhere?"
"Hmmmm," the Guardian hummed thoughtfully, as if considering his offer. Cassandra's head snapped up, her eyes popping open as big as dinner plates at the idea, while the glare Jenkins gave Baird could've stripped paint off a wall. Eve smiled sweetly at the Caretaker as she answered the reservist.
"No, I don't think that'll be necessary, Officer. I won't need one of your men to escort them out to the van, either. I think they'll behave themselves after all of this?" She gave the two miscreants a knowing look.
"We'll be good!" squeaked Cassandra instantly, furiously nodding her head. Eve turned sideways and extended her arm toward the door.
"Mr. Jenkins, Mrs. Cillian-Jenkins—if you'll follow me, please?" Baird strode quickly for the building's entrance and held the door open while the tall man and his petite wife hobbled hurriedly through it like a pair of mismatched penguins. As soon as they were all outside and out of sight of the security cameras, Eve turned around and pulled out her keyring, then selected the handcuff skeleton key she kept there for just such an occasion. She quickly unlocked the cuffs and shackles and tossed them into some nearby bushes.
"Okay you two, let's see if you can keep it in your pants long enough to get back the Annex!" she said sarcastically and nodded toward a service entrance nearby. "The Back Door's over there!"
"We were doing nothing wrong, Colonel, I can assure you!" Jenkins huffed in irritation as he straightened his clothes. "Cassandra and I were merely... We were just..." His large hands flapped as he tried to formulate a perfectly proper reason for the two of them to be alone in the backseat of a car in an isolated area late at night.
"Stargazing!" he finally blurted. The Guardian gaped him a few seconds before bursting into laughter.
"'Stargazing'!?" she hooted. "Is that what you're going to go with? Oh, I can't wait to see how the guys react to that one, especially Ezekiel and Jake!" She started for the door and Jenkins reached out and grabbed her arm. She turned to face him.
"Colonel Baird," he began urgently, dropping his gaze in obvious embarrassment. "I—and Cassandra—both of us...we...we would be very grateful if you could please keep this little—indiscretion—just between the three of us…?" Eve smiled and reached out to pat the old immortal's hand.
"Don't worry, Skip; your 'stargazing' activities are totally safe with me," she assured him. She almost giggled at the look of sheer relief that came to her friend's face.
"Thank you, Eve!" he said fervently as he laid his hand over his heart and gave her a tiny bow. "I am in your debt!" He stood upright and headed for the magic portal back to the Annex, his mood much improved. Cassandra started to follow him, but Eve grabbed her arm just long enough to whisper into the redhead's ear.
"You're gonna tell me all about this later, right?" Cassandra grinned and nodded.
"You bet!" she whispered back, then, giggling, hurried after her husband. Eve fell in behind her and followed the two through the door.
She could hardly wait to hear this story!