Rating: PG-13

Synopsis: Is Van shallow or do Billie and Deaq just have a misunderstanding of him? Either way, Van knows he must prove them wrong. But when he takes on a case involving a drug smuggler's step-daughter, Van begins to realize there's more to women than just big boobs and a nice ass, and maybe learns a little something about himself as he gets close to her.

Author's Note: Yes, I've strayed away from the Van/Billie relationships to explore a new one between Van and a new character that's shaped after someone that many of us can relate to…

Disclaimer: Oh, hell… If I have to write another one of these, I swear… Fastlane- McG. Music - Respective artists. Everyone/thing else -Me.

Chapter 1: Shallow Talk In The Deep End

I do not want anyone
Anyone who really wants me,
Every one that I desire
Wants to be with someone else
I find it so amusing
Isn't that the way it goes?
I'm a blip on someone's radar
They don't even catch my eye
I want what I haven't got, even if it kills me trying
-"Love And Attraction" Darren Hayes

The side door slammed shut, the sound wave echoing through the converted theater that housed the Candy Store and startling Lt. Billie Chambers from her work. The current case on her desk was beginning to wreak havoc on her nerves. She'd been so engrossed in trying to find a good angle to bring in her crew that she almost jumped from her seat, but instead turned her head sharply towards where the sound came form.

Making their way towards her desk were her two lackeys, sorry, employees, Officer Van Ray and Detective Deaq Hayes. They talked amongst themselves in hushed tones until a sharp laugh escaped from Deaq's lips. That's when Billie became interested in their conversation and set aside her work to find out what they'd been talking about.

"So, why wasn't this girl 'all that?'" Deaq was asking the closer they got to Billie's desk.

"You didn't let me finish telling the story!" Van practically squeaked in his excitement to tell his partner all about the crazy night he'd just had.

"By all means, I'm not stopping you, V. Please continue," Deaq replied, leaning up against the lime green 1970 Dodge Charger on the showroom floor as Van stood across from him.

"So I was at Ivar hanging with Johnny O when I saw this really hot chick walk past the VIP lounge. She had long, blonde hair, blue eyes, full lips, long legs, and a really nice ass. It looked like she was about to leave 'cause she had her coat on, so I followed her out and we started talking. We ended up staying outside the club for at least an hour before she said she was hungry. I was like, 'Okay, let's head to the diner across the street,' you know? I was trying to be nice. Well, the second her coat came off, she wasn't all that hot anymore. She was chunky! Big arms, flabby stomach… All that stuff… I got so turned off that I think I barely said a word to her besides 'yeah' and 'uh-huh' for the rest of the night. I just let her talk about herself until she couldn't talk anymore, which was about the time we got the check. After that, it was 'See ya!' I split faster than you could say Notorious B.I.G.," Van explained, laughing at his little joke.

"Can you be any shallower?" Billie finally spoke up before Deaq could get a word in. She'd found the way to get Van to cooperate, albeit his actions disgusted her. She stood from her seat and walked over to them, a scowl present on her perfectly made up face.

Van froze for a second, not realizing she had listened in on the whole conversation until it was too late. But moments later, he quickly recoiled from her comment and retorted, "I'm not shallow!"

"Yes, you are!" Billie shot back, standing between him and his partner as she stared right into Van's bright grey green eyes.

"I am not shallow! Deaq, tell her I'm not shallow," Van turned to his partner for backup in this little battle of wits.

But Deaq made a quick beeline for Billie's desk, saying, "I am not getting involved in this," before he sat down in one of the black chairs. He turned around just in time to see the deadly glare Van was giving him.

"Thanks for backing me up, PARTNER!" Van shouted towards Deaq, but the man quickly turned around, signaling the end of his involvement in this matter. "Can I request a new partner?" Van asked as he turned back to Billie.

"You're not changing the subject," she barked, telling him she wasn't through with him yet.

"But I'm not shallow!" Van was exasperated by this point, almost ready to give in and admit it just to shut up his boss, but she had other plans.

"Prove it," Billie challenged, her sapphire eyes narrowing.

"Fine, I will!" Van declared, not realizing what he'd just gotten himself into. He hadn't noticed the glint in her eyes or the smirk on her cherry red lips until it was too late. The moment he glanced at her retreating face, he knew something was up. As she turned to walk away, Van quickly caught up with her. "Billie…?" The fear in his voice echoed throughout the Candy Store.

She glanced back at him for a moment, that smirk still present on her pretty face, before sitting down in her comfortable chair behind the large glass desk perched at the center of the large building. Tapping a few keys on the keyboard of her iMac, a file popped up on the large flat panel TV mounted behind her seat with an image of an oval faced, hazel eyed, brown haired teenager in what appeared to be a high school glamour photo. She wasn't beautiful, but she was somewhat pretty, her hair pulled back with cascading curls, two loose strands framing her face.

"Van, are you coming?" Billie called to him. Van snapped out of his daze and like the beaten dog she'd made him, he came and sat down in the chair beside Deaq.

"Our next mark?" Deaq asked, seeing where Billie was going with this. The moment he'd seen the smirk on her face as she walked back towards her "office," he knew she had something in mind for Van. Unable to help himself, he smiled. This girl definitely wasn't Van's type. She didn't have the blonde hair or blue eyes he usually went for. Instead, she had that girl-next-door charm, best friend material thing going on.

"Actually," Billie replied, clicking on her mouse so that another photo popped up, this time of a man in his late 40's, possibly early 50's with dark brown, almost black hair, cold grey eyes, and a smile so sinister it made both Van and Deaq cringe just looking at it. "He's the mark."

"Hunter Sterling," Van breathed. Deaq and Billie both sharply turned to stare at him. "What?" he shrugged, glancing at both of them for a moment, contemplating whether or not he should tell them how he knew the man. It might become a disadvantage, but Van could always work around it if he had to.

"Van," Billie narrowed her gaze on him as she waited for him to elaborate. When he remained mute, her voice became stern, "Van, how do you know Hunter Sterling?"

He stared at her, reluctant to give up the information until her eyes narrowed even more and that angry look crossed her face again. "I watch the news," Van lied. "He's the CEO of Zeus Records, right?"

"That's a load of crap," she was quick to call him out. How she always managed to figure out when he was lying baffled him. It's like he couldn't get anything past her, ever!

"Okay, so he tried to sign me to his label once! I said no!" Van finally spilled. 'Great, now I'm off the case,' he thought, looking down at his folded arms across his chest. When Billie hadn't said anything for a while, he glanced up, expecting to find her angry glare on him, but instead, found that there was a thoughtful expression on her face.

"Uh-huh," Billie murmured as a smile crossed her cherry lips. She didn't say anything else regarding that little tidbit of information, but that didn't stop Deaq from chiming in.

"You almost got a record deal?" he asked, honestly surprised and shocked. "When the hell was this?"

"Back when I was in college," Van explained. "I was playing guitar and doing the lead vocals for this band I knew so I could pay for tuition when he heard us play. He liked my voice and said he wanted to sign me. The only reason I didn't say yes was because I was in my last semester and I wanted to graduate."

"You, nice voice? I never would have thought," Deaq laughed, still unable to believe his partner. "So you gave up fame and fortune to finish college? That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard! But I'll give you props for that. I don't think anyone BUT you would ever give up the fame to finish college."

Van rolled his eyes. He wished he could have kept that a secret, but with Billie being so demanding, it was bound to come out sooner or later. Now, what she was planning to do with him, that was the real question, one he decided not to ask just yet. Instead, he returned his focus to the teenager she'd brought up on the screen earlier.

"Who's the girl?" Van finally asked. She was nothing like any of the other marks they'd had to get close to in the past. She was more of the little sister type who got mixed up in something and needed help getting out it. Van couldn't see himself trying to get in her pants, therefore thought the only reason she'd been brought into this case was as a side note.

"Cheryl Edwards," Billie replied, "his step-daughter."

"And where is this going?" his interrogation continued. Van thought for a moment that his incessant questions were going to get him a bitch slap, but he was surprised when that smirk returned to Billie's cherry lips as she stood up and began to walk away from her desk.

"For that," she answered, making her way towards the stairs that led upstairs to the theater seats and the second floor lounge, "I'm turning you over to a few people who have a little more inside knowledge than I'll ever be able to write down and repeat." She walked up the stairs, the boys following her like puppies wondering what the hell she was talking about.

Sitting on the white couches in the upstairs lounge where three young women huddled together. They all had solemn faces and sad eyes, and as the three cops approached, they all looked up. A flush immediately came over Van's cheeks when he realized that they had probably been sitting there for the entire conversation he'd had between his boss and his partner. He was just thankful that he hadn't made any comments about Cheryl, or he'd be in hell right now. It was bad enough they'd heard the "shallow" conversation.

"Van, Deaq, this is Stella Edwards, Cheryl's sister," Billie introduced the first girl, a tall, lanky, brown eyed, chestnut haired 19 year old. She stood up, politely extending her cold, trembling hand for the officers to shake. Van could definitely see the resemblance between the two siblings, even though Stella was slightly darker than her sister and a little thinner as well.

"Pleased to meet you," she barely whispered as she sat back down.

"This is Eva Drake, her cousin," Billie continued with the introductions as the second girl, a somewhat shorter, dark haired and brown eyed 21 year old with creamy white skin and pale pink lips stood up, also extending her hand.

"Please, call me Evie," she said, shaking hands with Van and Deaq.

"And finally, Leonie Wellington, their best friend," Billie finished up as the last girl stood up. She looked a bit different from the others, standing closer to Stella's height, with burgundy hair and green tinged hazel eyes.

"Leo," she replied, extending her hands for the customary handshake that the other two had already gone through with.

"Billie, sidebar," Van said as he took his boss by the arm and led her away from the lounge towards the theater seats for what he hoped would be a rational conversation. He was a bit suspicious of the three girls; where they came from and for what reasons. It was customary for him to wonder these types of things because he knew from experience they would only lead to problems later on. "How'd they find out about the Candy Store?" he asked, noticing the glare she'd been giving him ever since he pulled her away for this little conversation.

"They googled it," came Billie's sarcastic remark before she added, "The precinct! Where else?"

"You know that's not what I mean!" Van's voice rose nearly an octave. He was getting angry and frustrated. If she pushed one more button, he'd probably slap her.

"I don't care what you mean!" Billie was beyond angry. Van had already said too much, now he was just being the nosey little bastard he always was. "You're not here to question, Van, so I suggest you shut up, sit down, and listen to what these girls have to say because it's important to the case. I don't care how they got here, or how they found out about us. What I care about is putting away a drug smuggling murderer." And with that, she turned and walked back towards the lounge where Deaq and the three girls had already taken seats on the comfortable white couches.

Van stood there for a few moments, wondering how she had just managed to give him a slap in the face without even touching him. He had seen it coming, but he chose to do his usual questioning routine anyway. She'd given him the sarcasm body slam, as customary, but this time it was different. This time, it was in front of three girls. Van learned a valuable lesson that day… Billie wasn't above making an ass out of him no matter who was present. If he knew better, he'd keep his mouth shut. But that obviously wasn't going to happen.

He sauntered back over to the white couch and sat down beside his partner, hanging his head low so he wouldn't have to look at the faces of the three women in front of him. That familiar blush returned to his cheeks as he started to fiddle with a stray piece of string hanging from his dark green V-neck cotton knit sweater. The three girls stared at him for a couple of moments as they whispered amongst themselves in a language he couldn't understand before they stopped and glanced at each of the cops.

"Hunter wants Charlie dead," Stella began, quickly grabbing Van's attention as his head shot up and their eyes met. Her solemn face didn't change as she continued. "Charlie thinks he killed our father. She's hell bent on uncovering the truth, no matter what it takes or how much danger she puts herself in. We're scared for her life even though she thinks Hunter doesn't have the balls to kill her. I know he does. I overheard him talking about it to, of all people, our mother." A disgusted look came over the young woman's face as she visibly shuddered at the thought.

"Hold up, can you start from the beginning, like with you're father's death?" Deaq asked, feeling a bit confused by what he was being told. A glance at Van and Billie confirmed he wasn't the only one who wanted more insight.

Stella, Evie, and Leo all glanced at each other for a moment, their pained expressions giving away what they were thinking. Van's heart went out to them, especially Stella. He knew this wasn't going to be a fun story to tell, and quickly added, "You don't really have to explain the whole thing."

Stella looked up at him with her tear rimmed chocolate brown eyes, replying, "I have to, otherwise you won't really see why Charlie believes Hunter killed him."

"Okay," Van said as he reached over and took her hand, his thumb rubbing over the top in a comforting gesture. Stella smiled at him as she gently pulled her hand back and let it fall in her lap.

"It all started four years ago, when we live in the Chicago suburbs…"