A year in a life

January

New Years day, the early morning light is creeping into the bedroom. It's unusually cold this winter with temperatures barely above the ten degrees Celsius and a lot of rain. Dee Dee McCall is lying in her bed all curled up trying to keep warm.

'I'm already dressed like an Eskimo and still I'm cold,' she's thinking to herself.

A look at the clock tells her it's eight.

'Well if I'm not gonna sleep anymore I might as well get out of here,' she starts to sit up but falls back into the pillow again, 'Oh my head! Last nights party is still going on in there, we did have a lot of fun though.'

Her mind flashes back to the evening before, the New Years party at the precinct.

After a little too much to drink a couple of colleagues, including herself and Hunter, were plating a game of truth or dare. At round six Hunter still hadn't played a truth question until Mike tricked him into one.

"Truth or truth?"

"What happened to dare?"

"I ran out so truth or truth."

"I guess I have no choice, truth it is."

"Are you in love with your partner?"

Everyone went silent, you could hear a pin drop. Hunter and McCall looked at each other and simultaneously said,

"NO!"

"Okay," Mike said and moved on to his next victim.

Later that night they shared a cab home,

"Do you think the cat's out of the bag?" she asked him.

"I don't know but to be safe we should lay low for a while okay?"

"Yeah, it's gonna be hard though."

"I know." he wrapped his arm around her and pulled her close.

Waking up alone the next morning wasn't much fun, she had grown accustomed to having him there next to her. Not to mention the hangover that hit her hard,

"Maybe a hot shower will help."

McCall sat up carefully and then placed her feet on the ground one by one until she was sitting on the edge of the bed. Her head was pounding, almost bursting. She stood up and shuffled to the bathroom.

The hot water on her body did it's work, making her feel better as did the aspirin she took.

After the shower she dressed into something comfortable and went down to make some strong coffee. The light on her answering machine was blinking, indicating she had one message.

"Hey it's me," Hunter's voice said. "I just wanted to say I miss you. You were right it's hard. I love you."

McCall sat down on the couch,

"How is this ever gonna work," she thought.

The phone ringing snapped her out of her thoughts, it was her mom wanting to know if she was coming to the family get together that afternoon.

"Yes mom, I'll be there."

"Is Rick coming too?"

"I don't know he's busy."

"Oh." her mom's reaction was one of disappointment.

"I'll see you later."

"Okay, bye honey."

McCall hung up and went to the kitchen to get her coffee. Back on the couch she flipped on the TV to see if there was anything on to forget about her problems for a while.

It was almost noon when a knock on the door woke her, she stood up and shuffled to the door. A look through the peephole told her it was Hunter standing outside.

Taking a deep breath she opened the door,

"Hi," she said softly.

"Can I come in?"

She stepped aside and motioned for him to come in.

"I thought we were going to lay low for a while," she said with a sarcastic tone in her voice.

"I deserved that," he replied. "Lookit Dee Dee, the fact is I can't. It was a mistake of me to ever suggest that. I miss you. I miss having you next to me when I wake up," he put his hands on her shoulders.

"I miss watching you sleep, I miss everything about you."

She wrapped her arms around his waist and placed her head on his chest, he kissed the top of her head.

"I missed you so much, don't ever suggest that again."

"I won't."

Her eye fell on a container Hunter brought with him,

"What did you bring?"

"Chowder, homemade."

"Not by you I hope."

He shot her a dirty look, "No, mom made it. She was disappointed that I didn't bring you this morning."

"My mom called, she wants you there with me this afternoon."

"I'll be there, I don't want to disappoint any more people today."

"Let's have some of this first," she let go of him and went to the kitchen to heat up the chowder.

Grace, McCall's mom was glad to see them,

"Come in. come in. Everyone is here. Rick it's good to see you."

"Hi Grace, thanks for the invitation."

Grace went to the kitchen to finish dinner leaving her daughter and Hunter to take off their coats.

"Hey sis, brought your partner again. When are you gonna find yourself a real man." her sister Michelle was joking. Hunter and McCall looked at each other,

"We might as well let that cat out," Hunter said to her.

"I think you are right."

Michelle looked at the not having a clue what they were talking about.

"He is a real man Mich and he's mine."

"Are you saying what I think you are?"

"We are an item if that's what you mean."

"Wow sis, I'm so happy for you. When did this happen."

"Oh about six years ago only we didn't tell each other until last Christmas."

"Well you know mom will be pleased, she always thought of you two as the perfect couple."

"I know, she said it so often. Do me a favor and don't say anything, I'd like to tell her myself."

"No problem, I'm keeping this a secret."

They went into the living room and said their hello's to the rest of the family.

McCall joined her mom in the kitchen to help her out.

"You two look so happy together," she said while making some coffee.

"How did you know?"

"I'm your mother, mother's know these things."

McCall smiled, "You are right, we are happy."

"You sure took your time."

Her mom's comment surprised her.

"The first time you brought him here I could tell there was something. He was already in love with you and you weren't far off. I'm glad you two finally gave in to it."

"Thanks mom."

Hunter walked in to see where McCall was hiding,

"Since you are now officially part of the family you can take this to the living room," Grace handed him a plate filled with snacks.

"I assume you told her huh."

"I didn't have to."

"Ah, mother's instinct. The same happened to me this morning."

Later that evening Hunter and McCall were taking a walk around the neighborhood. He had draped his arm loosely around her shoulders. They walked in silence enjoying the fresh cold air. Hunter broke the silence,

"What's on your mind?"

He could tell she was thinking about something.

"Now that we have told the family about us we have to tell Charlie too. He will find out."

"I guess we have to, It's better if he hears it from us." Hunter replied.

"He will break us up as partners though, I don't know if I want that."

"I don't like it either, but we would still see each other."

"Yeah you're right. At least we don't have to sneak around anymore."

She wrapped her arm around his waist and they walked on.

The next morning at eight the two of them were sitting in Charlie's office,

"What is so important and couldn't wait till later," a sleepy and now grumpy Charlie said to them.

McCall looked from Charlie to Hunter, "Bad timing," she mouthed to him.

"I saw that McCall, now spill it."

"Well…" Hunter started but McCall interrupted him. "After six years of denial and going around in circles we gave in. We are in love and have been together since Christmas," she blurted out.

"So tell me something I didn't know," Charlie replied.

A stunned couple was looking at him, "You knew?" Hunter said surprised.

"You two did a good job hiding it but to me it was obvious. I knew there was something between you the day I started this job."

"Why didn't you say anything," McCall wanted to know.

"Because you did and still do a very good job and don't let your personal feelings get in the way. And as long as you keep on doing so I'm not eager to split you up. But if I notice any change in that I will."

"What about 'upstairs'," Hunter asked.

"Screw upstairs, they don't know anything. Now if that was all go out there and catch me some bad guys."

They walked back to their desks and sat down, "Now that wasn't so bad," Hunter said to her.

"No it wasn't. I get the feeling it was too easy."

Their conversation was cut short by McCall's phone ringing.

"McCall, homicide."

The person on the other side of the line rambled away.

"Slow down Max, I can't understand you when you ramble like that."

McCall was listening in silence,

"Where are you now? Okay stay there, I'm coming over right now."

She hung up and opened the bottom drawer of her desk to get her purse. Hunter looked at her questioningly,

"What was that all about? Where are you going?"

"That was Maxine, she's one of my 'colleagues' from the street. I met her on one of my undercover jobs. She just witnessed a murder."

"Want me to come with you?"

"No, it took me a long time for her to trust me. I have to go alone, I'll be fine."

McCall drove to a rough part of town and pulled over in front of the building where Maxine lived. She got out, went in and walked up to the second floor to find the door to the apartment open. With her gun drawn she carefully opened the door further and stepped inside. Maxine was lying on the living room floor, her shirt soaked in blood. McCall made sure the rest of the apartment was clear before kneeling besides her and checking her vital signs. She was alive, barely.

McCall called for an ambulance and some backup.

When she kneeled back down next to her Maxine opened her eyes and tried to say something.

"Shhh, don't speak. Save your strength."

"Dee Dee…you…have to…know. The murder…in the…alley, Oskar…did it."

"Who's Oskar, Max?"

"Oskar…Jackson." those were the last words she spoke, her head fell aside and she died.

"Max?" McCall said but in her heart she knew she was dead.

Later she was telling Hunter what had happened when the coroner brought out Max's body to take her to the morgue. Hunter stopped him,

"Let me take another look Joe."

Joe zipped the bag open and Hunter looked inside. After a few minutes he zipped it up again.

"What were you looking for?" McCall asked him.

"I've seen this girl before somewhere," he answered. "I don't know where but it will come to me. How old was she?"

"A little older than me, why?"

"She reminds me of someone I met in New York once. That was before you and I became partners."

"We should check out this Oskar Jackson she told me about," McCall said as she walked to the car followed by Hunter who was still wondering where he had seen that face before.

Back at the precinct he grabbed the phone and dialed,

"Hello, Sgt. Rick Hunter LAPD, may I speak to Melanie Baxter please? Yes, I'll hold."

McCall sat down at her desk and watched her partner as he made the call.

"Hey Barry, It's Rick. Rick Hunter, I expected Mel on the phone. Oh she's on a coffee break. Still hooked on the stuff huh. No, I really need to speak to her on this one. Yeah, I'll hold."

He looked at McCall, who raised her eyebrows at him,

"I think I know where I saw her before," he explained.

"Hi Mel, It's Rick. I'm fine, how are things over there? Good to hear. Listen the reason I'm calling isn't a nice one. I need to know when was the last time you saw your sister. That long ago and where was she living two years ago? Aha, Phoenix okay. My partner and me are investigating a double homicide and I have reason to believe your sister was one of the victims. I'll email a picture for you to identify. I'm sorry Mel. Yes I'll keep you posted, bye." he hung up.

"Talk to me Hunter."

"Before we met and became partners I worked in New York for a year. Mel was my partner over there and she told me about her sister who was always hanging with the wrong people. She eventually got addicted to drugs and went into prostitution to pay for it. Mel got her off the street and into a rehab program. She kicked the addiction but not the street life and took off. Last time Mel heard from her was two years ago and she was living in Phoenix at the time."

"You think Max is her sister?"

"I met her in New York a couple of times and the resemblance is too great to be a coincidence. I'll send a picture to Mel to see if she can identify her."

"Okay, I'll scan it or you."

As soon as she got the picture Mel send a message back, It was her sister. Hunter's hunch was right.

"Now for this Oskar Jackson…"

"While you were busy I ran his name through the computer." McCall said.

"And?"

"A rap sheet about a mile long. Mostly little things, theft, robbing old ladies handbags and breaking and entering. The interesting part is that he came here to LA a year and a half ago from New York."

"Was he ever arrested for anything to do with prostitution?"

"No, but that doesn't say he wasn't involved."

"You're right. Why don't we go back to Maxine's apartment see if we missed anything."

"Good idea."

They arrived at the apartment and went in. Hunter started in the kitchen and McCall in the bedroom. In one of the nightstands she found a couple of notebooks, they turned out to be Maxine's diary. She went to Hunter who was now searching the living room,

"I found these in the bedroom. It looked like Max kept a diary."

"They might contain some clues."

"I hope so, it would make the case a bit easier. Did you find anything?"

"No, not really. Let's go back and see what forensic found."

Later that day Hunter was sitting at his desk reading the forensic report,

"They found a lot of fingerprints, Maxine's and also Mr. Jackson's. So that places him at the scene of the crime."

He glanced over the file to McCall who was reading in one of the notebooks.

"Did you hear anything I just said?"

"Hmm?" she looked up.

"It's kinda strange looking into someone's life like this. The diary starts around the time she left New York."

"It's getting late, why don't we go home and leave this till tomorrow."

"Yeah, I could do with a good night sleep." McCall sighed.

"Your place or mine?"

At McCall's place later that evening the diary couldn't leave McCall alone, she had brought it home with her and couldn't stop reading it until Hunter put a stop to it.

"There's a hot shower with your name on it waiting upstairs."

"Yeah, later."

"No now, so give that diary." Hunter reached out to get it.

McCall pulled back, "Since when did you become my mother?"

"Since now." he bent over and gave her a quick kiss.

She rolled her eyes, "Okay mom, I'm going."

Meanwhile Hunter turned on the TV and started flipping the channels. He heard a familiar sound coming from the bathroom, it was McCall singing. Silently he walked up the stairs to surprise her, he went into the bedroom, took his clothes off and slipped into the bathroom. McCall was busy washing her hair and didn't notice anything with her eyes closed. He pulled the shower curtain aside just enough to see her. Carefully he slipped into the shower and placed his hands on her hips, she froze.

"Hunter will you take those cold hands of off my body!" she cried.

"Sorry, is this better?" he enveloped her into an embrace.

"Much better," she whispered.

The sweet scent of her shower gel tickled Hunter's nose and he liked the feeling of her soft skin on his. He started to kiss her, first her neck and then down to her shoulders. She let out a soft moan of pleasure,

"That feels good."

His grip on her loosened so she turned around to face him, her arms wrapped around his waist, followed by a passionate kiss.

"Let's continue this in the bedroom," he whispered in her ear, she just smiled and maneuvered him with his back to the shower, reached for the tap and turned off the warm water before making a run for it.

The cold water hit him like a ton of bricks. Quickly he turned the water off and went after McCall. He caught up her in the bedroom, grabbed her and together they fell on the bed.

"Did you cool off?" she asked him catching her breath.

"No," he said and gazed in her eyes.

The night that followed was one of passion and love.

Two weeks passed and the investigation of Max's murder was getting nowhere fast, Oskar Jackson had vanished from the planet. The leads Hunter and McCall got lead to nothing, even Sporty and his contacts couldn't help them. The diary McCall found in the apartment did mention Jackson's name but not what he was doing or who he was. He had arrived in LA a few weeks after Max had, there had to be a connection.