I probably should have expected the arrangement they came up with. At the time, though, I wasn't
thinking much beyond food and grabbing a couple of hours of sleep before getting my next lecture on
why my hobby of acquiring things by illegal means was not one that I should pursue while working for
the Agency.

I wasn't exactly repentant, was I?

As we walked into the Official's office, only a couple of minutes late, Hobbes and I were joking
about other potential excuses we could come up with if we were ever to find ourselves in a position
similar to the one I had been in last night. One look at Detective Jarnell and I swallowed the next
thing I was going to say. It was obvious that she had gotten very little, if any, sleep since I had
last seen her and that she was not very happy at all to be here.

"Mr....excuse me...Agent Fawkes, how kind of you to join us." Oh, no. Based on that tone of voice
she was not happy at all. "It seems that you are off the hook for last night. I can't touch you
even if you did kill that guard." She turned to glare at the Official.

Then what was I doing here? My thoughts must have shown on my face.

"Don't think you're getting off easy, Fawkes. You have just volunteered to help with her
investigation. The sooner the real perpetrators are brought to justice the sooner your name can be
officially be cleared," the Official said as he glared at me.

So he was still angry.

"But I didn't see anything," I protested.

"Just because you didn't see anything doesn't mean you didn't see anything." Hobbes thought for a
moment, then nodded his head. "Yup, that's what I meant to say."

"Exactly," Detective Jarnell agreed. "We've checked the security tapes and have no evidence that
you were ever there. However, any information you may have, however you may have acquired it, may
be of use to the investigation."

Okay, I could deal with this I guess. I sat down at the table. "Didn't the security cameras pick up
the others?"

"They used something to interfere with the camera signal. The moment they entered the room the
cameras would lose the signal. When they left, the signal would come back," Eberts said.

I nodded. It was a pretty simple trick to jam the camera signal, I'd done it myself on a couple of
occasions. "Do you know what was stolen?"

She slid a file across the table to me. "That is the preliminary list. The auction house will need
a few days to verify, but that should be most of it."

I ran over the list. Most of it was various pieces of jewelry, some silver pieces, most of it easy
to fence at any of the places around town. Then something caught my eye, and I tapped a finger on
one section of the list. "Ceramic statuettes?"

"Yeah. We can't figure out that one either." She shrugged. "I'd say they thought they were pretty
and took them spur of the moment, but I've seen photos. They were downright ugly."

"This Thomas Marks, was the stuff his?" I wasn't quite sure where I was going with this but I had a
vague hint of something.

"No. He found the stuff in a house he had inherited from his grandfather," she answered. "Why?"

I looked over at Eberts.

"I'll get to work on it and see what I can find while you're gone," he said, moving over to the
computer tucked away in the corner.

Gone? Where was I going?

"Where are we off to?" Hobbes asked for me.

"The auction house, of course," the Official said. "You are going to offer your expert advice on
the situation." He of course had to stress the word 'expert'. Why did I have the feeling he was
going to make me pay for this for a long time to come?



"All right, Agent Fawkes, walk me through what happened last night if you would." She stood with
her hands on her hips and a wry smile on her face.

"This is off the record, right?" C'mon, like I was going to risk my ass any more than I already had.

She sighed. "Yes, it's off the record. Now get on with it, would you?"

I led the way around to the back of the building and to the door there. "I got in through there.
Picked the lock."

She stared at me for a long moment. "I've reviewed the security tapes and unless you can...." she
trailed off. "Never mind. Just run through it." She opened the door and waved us inside. As I
passed I could hear her muttering, "When the only thing left is the impossible, that must be the
answer." From Sherlock Holmes and I had to resist the urge to laugh. If she only knew.

I led them through what I had done last night. Disabling the alarm. Going to the room where my
prize was. Hearing the shout and then the gunshots. How I discovered the guard's body and then beat
a hasty retreat out of here.

She was nodding to herself and making notes in a notebook that had appeared in her hand at some
point. "That explains the alarm resetting itself. It had gone off five minutes before you even came
in. The security company couldn't figure out how it had been shut off."

Hobbes looked at me. "Do I want to know how you got the override code for the system?"

"I don't know, do you?" I was smiling as I said it.

"Not now. You really have to learn to channel your energy in a safer direction." For all that he
was complaining, he still sounded impressed.

We were standing a bit too near the taped outline of the dead guard. The bloodstains were still
evident in the rug and on the walls. I knew I was fidgeting, but couldn't stop myself. "How did
they get in?"

"They used the delivery entrance off the main auction hall downstairs." She led the way. "We can't
figure out how they set off the alarm. You figure if they knew about the cameras they would know
about needing a reset code."

"Why didn't they just cut the system from the outside?" Hobbes asked.

"They couldn't," I said. They both looked at me. "The system is designed to send an alarm if the
power is cut." I shrugged.

"Are you sure he's on your side?" the detective asked Hobbes.

"After last night, I'm beginning to wonder," Hobbes replied looking at me.

I had wandered over to the double doors that led to the small loading dock. It was on the side of
the building, where the small employee parking lot was also located. There was a storage area
between the doors and the actual auction hall. I examined the area and discovered something that
was obviously a new addition to the system. It wasn't much, just another motion sensor, but it was
in the doorway between the auction hall and the storage area. I pointed this out to Detective
Jarnell.

"You're right. It is new. Or so the owners tell me. Had some drivers with sticky fingers,
apparently." She looked over the system. "If they cased the place before it was installed, they
just might not have noticed it. Not bad. My guys missed it."

She waved for us to follow and led us back upstairs into the rooms that had been trashed. Other
than a quick going-over to see what was missing, nothing had been cleaned up yet. The items that
had been left behind still lay where they had been knocked or tossed carelessly to the side. The
room the jewelry had been stolen from was a total mess, with cases smashed and ransacked. Even the
cases nothing had been taken from were shattered, and it just didn't feel right. The other room,
where the statuettes had been, was almost neat in comparison. Oh, the cases had been smashed here
as well, and the unwanted items tossed about a bit, but it looked almost staged.

Hobbes noticed it as well. "It's too neat in here."

"I noticed that too," Jarnell said. "What I couldn't figure out was why." She was standing to one
side, allowing me a chance to really look at the room.

Walking towards the cases, I crunched on something and looked down. It was a portion of one of the
statuettes. Bending down, I picked it up. The piece wasn't large, but it did tell me that, beyond
being cheap and ugly, the things had been hollow. "What if what they were after wasn't the statues
themselves?"

"What? Like they were hollow or something?" Hobbes said taking the piece from me. "So the rest was
cover? What about the guard?"

"Maybe he was in on it, but chickened when the alarm was set off. Maybe it was just bad timing. His
routine was easy to learn, but if they screwed up he might have discovered them." I shrugged. "Who
knows?"

"I thought of the hollow bit," Jarnell said. "But what would be inside? These things have been
sitting around a basement for the last fifty years."

"Don't know, but I think it's time we find out what Eberts has dug up for us." I dropped my hands
to my sides. "We can pick up dinner on the way. I'll buy."

"Food and information. My two favorite things in the world," she said with a genuine smile. "Call
me Dara."

"Darien," I said. "But you knew that already."

"Yo, you two. This ain't no date. Can we maybe catch the perps before you two hop in bed?" Hobbes
said with a hint of irritation.

He had nothing to worry about. The thought hadn't even come close to crossing my mind. Though
knowing Hobbes and where his mind sinks to on a regular basis, it had crossed his. In several
different and creative ways. Gutter for a mind, that's my Bobby Hobbes.

We took over the Official's office. I know what you're thinking -- that we sat around eating pizza,
or Chinese, or maybe Italian. You'd be wrong. We ate Thai. Her choice. Dear God, the woman must have
been a dragon in a previous life. A fire-breathing one. Damn. But she just smiled and watched as we
gulped down the beer trying to keep our tongues from spontaneously combusting.

"This is nothing. I ordered the mild." She looked about the room. "Do I want to know why you guys
work for Fish and Game?"

"Anonymity," said Eberts. He was still at the computer, but was finally printing something.

"It was their turn," Hobbes added.

"Pity," I said.

She just shook her head. "Makes me glad I'm just a cop." Getting to her feet, she walked to where
the computer was busy spewing out reams of paper. "What do you have for me, Mr. Eberts?"

Hobbes and I looked at each other. "Mr. Eberts?" we said simultaneously.

"Do you actually have a first name, Eberts?" I asked, simply to see what he would say.

"Yes, I do. But it's..." I cut him off.

"Let me guess, 'need to know'?" I couldn't resist, and beside me Hobbes snorted.

"Not bad, Fawkes."

Eberts just rolled his eyes. "Do you want to know what I found or not?"

"Depends. Is it going to be of any use whatsoever?" Once I start shit like this, I find it very
difficult to stop.

"Are they always like this?" Dara asked Eberts.

"I'm afraid so." He began to organize the papers from the printer. "And this is just the
preliminaries. Wait till they get really childish."

"Hey, I think I should be insulted," I commented. "But luckily I'm too childish to care."

"Lighten up, Eberts." It's amazing the contortions Hobbes can put Eberts' name through.

"As impressed as I am by this pre-teen macho bonding, I do have a job to do and would like to get
it done," Dara said, a good deal of irritation finding its way into her voice.

I actually felt a bit repentant. "Sorry. What have you got for us, Eberts?"

Eberts leaned back against the Official's desk and thumbed through the printouts for the page he
was looking for. "Thomas Marks inherited the house from his grandfather, a Daniel Masters, Jr. His
father was a police officer back in the twenties. Was also known as..."

"Dirty Dan. Or Diamond Dan," Dara said with a sigh. "Damn, thought those rumors had been cleared up
years ago."

I raised my hand. "Ummm... Huh?"

She sat down on the end of the table. "Back in the twenties, Danny Masters was rumored to be the
dirtiest cop in town. You had the cash, he'd let anything slide. And I do mean anything."

"But no one could ever prove the corruption," Eberts continued. "Witnesses would recant, or
mysteriously disappear."

"He means they were popped," Hobbes leaned over to inform me.

I looked at him. "I know what he means, Hobbes."

"Eventually he became Police Commissioner and took an early retirement at...shit." She turned to
Eberts.

"Forty-five. And the money he had supposedly taken in bribes was never found," Eberts filled in.

"Why 'Diamond Dan'?" Hobbes asked.

"There were rumors he had converted all the cash to diamonds or that he preferred to be paid that
way. The rumors varied." Dara answered.

My mind was spinning. "How much money?"

Eberts checked the printout. "Estimates range between fifty and a hundred thousand, but no one
really knows. Oh, and that's before converting it to today's value."

Hobbes whistled. "That's quite a chunk of change for back then."

"Well yeah. I think that was the point," I said to Hobbes. "What did he do with it?"

"Probably buried it in coffee cans in the back yard," Hobbes commented. Always fast on his feet,
our Hobbsey.

Dara groaned. "Bet he wasn't called Diamond Dan for nothing." She turned to Eberts.

He nodded to her. "It's possible."

"The statuettes," I said. "Filled with diamonds." This was a perfect time for someone to say 'aw
crap'.

"No shit?" Hobbes said.

Close enough.

"So who would know about this Diamond Dan? The whole department?" Hobbes was finally getting into
this.

Dara thought for a moment. "Some of the older cops would, and might have told their kids. I know
because my family has been cops forever and it's just one of those stories that got passed down."

"The real question is, who would know about Daniel Masters, Sr. and know Thomas Marks was his
great-grandson?" I tossed that little tidbit out into the room and watched it fall to the floor
with a thud.

"I'll get on it," Eberts said and turned back to his computer.

"Don't forget to check out the people at the auction house. They're the experts, after all," Hobbes
added.

"Good thinking," Dara said, then yawned. "How long?"

"I'll definitely have something for you by morning. Say nine. Meet back here?" Eberts had turned
back around to look at her.

"More than adequate. Well, guys, it's been fun, but Morpheus calls. And I have to stop in at the
station first." She picked up the printouts and walked to the door. Hobbes jumped to his feet and
offered to escort her to her car, which she accepted. It was looking like maybe it was Hobbes who
was fishing for a date.

"Eberts. You can really have something by morning?" I got to my feet and moved over behind him.

"Of course. I'm just going to set the parameters for the search engine and then let the computer do
the work." He turned in his chair to look up at me. "I should have quite bit to work with when I
arrive at seven."

"You actually sleep?" I was only joking with him and he seemed a bit surprised. He was a kiss-ass,
but I didn't hate him or anything. "Thanks for your help."

"You're welcome. Now I suggest you go home and get some sleep. I do still have work to do." Yup,
moment of uncomfortable male bonding was over.

I took the hint and, after giving the table a quick cleanup from the remains of dinner, headed out
of the office to find Hobbes.

"G'night, Eberts."

"Good night, Darien."

Damn. I guess the ice was thawing.

I paced restlessly about my apartment for a while, not really ready to settle down and sleep yet
and not really interested in going out. So, as usual, I ended up thinking about my life. What I
could have done to avoid where I was now, even though I knew I couldn't change anything. I kept
thinking that if I could find that one moment in my life where this path became irrevocable, where
my current path became inevitable, where I faced that crossroad and chose the path that brought me
here, that maybe, just maybe, I could find some sense of peace within myself. With my life as it
now was.

I considered and rejected dozens of different possibilities and kept coming back to one incident in
particular. And, unsurprisingly, it involved Liz. Why is it some of my...best isn't quite
right...most interesting experiences, as well as some of my worst, involve Liz?



"Kid, trust me. Just follow the plan like I've said and we'll be in and out with no problem."
Liz was starting to sound irritated, but I really didn't like the idea of robbing this place.

"You're sure? I mean, c'mon they've got to have really good security." I just had to push her one
more time.

"Kid, either you're in or you're out." She pointed back towards the road.

I gave in. Like I always did. "I'm in."

So I followed the plan. Picked the lock on the French doors. Cleaned out the safe in the bar while
she went for the safe in the main office. Simple. According to Liz they hadn't updated the security
at this place in a decade. Yet I was the one who noticed the brand spanking new keypad a few feet
down from the door I had opened. With the blinking red lights. Too bad I noticed after I had
cleaned out the safe.

"Aw, crap." I said this under my breath. Now I had a choice. Book it and hope for the best, or
warn Liz and hope we both made it. I waffled for only a minute before heading for the office. Liz
was whistling through her teeth as she pulled cash out of the safe in there.

"They upgraded the alarm system and we set it off," I hissed at her.

"What?" she snapped at me.

Bringing what she had grabbed, she followed me back out and I showed her.

"Aw, crap," she echoed my words. "Run, kid. We'll meet up later."

Well, later was all of ten minutes. The cops caught us without much trouble. Not too difficult when
they had practically surrounded the place before we even walked out the door.



You know, I never regretted going back and warning her. Shame I didn't know she wouldn't do the
same for me. Honor among thieves is a load of crap. When push comes to shove it's everyone for him
or her self.

Uncle Peter was true to his word. Although he did come to see me and made sure I had adequate
representation, he did nothing else. That time I ended up in Juvenile Detention for six months.
When I got out, I was three months away from turning eighteen. To me that was three months from
freedom. Or so I thought.

Maybe that's why I don't believe the words 'trust me'. Liz used to use them all the time to
convince me to do something, usually something I was dead set against, and it always worked. It
usually got me into trouble. So now when I hear 'trust me,' I balk. You get beaten down enough
times and it eventually sinks in. So not trusting, especially when those words are uttered, is now
a habit and a damned hard one to break I was finding out.

I was trying. Really, I was, but given the circumstances...I'll just have to keep trying, now won't
I?

I finished off another beer and decided I had thought enough for one evening. It was an early day
tomorrow, and looking to be an interesting one at that. Maybe, just maybe, things weren't quite as
bad as I tried to make them out to be.

Hobbes picked me up at eight thirty. He still had baby-sitting duty; apparently they were worried I
was going to make a mad dash for freedom or some other such nonsense. Now, while I can't say I had
learned my lesson, I had no current plans to run off and do anything excessively stupid. Not today
anyway. He escorted me down to the Keep, where Claire went through the daily poke and prod routine
to make I had been a good boy and not used more quicksilver than I should have. Then she began the
same old lecture about responsibility and using the quicksilver. I stopped her before she got very
far into it.

"Claire, do you know what the problem is with repetitive lectures?"

She gave me this annoyed look. "I'm sure you'll tell me."

"After a while, the person you're lecturing to stops listening." I slid off the chair. "We done?"

She tapped her foot on the floor. "Yes, Darien we are most definitely 'done'."

I knew I had made her angry, or something akin to it anyway. Maybe she hadn't realized she was
lecturing, or that she was doing it as often as she was, but she was starting to remind me of my
Uncle Peter. Given that he had not been a very good looking blonde, I really didn't need that
comparison floating in my mind. I was beginning to like Claire, trust her a bit even. I didn't need
past family issues interfering with that.

I managed to drag my mind off of that topic and refocus it on the matter at hand before I walked
into the Official's office. Everyone was already there, waiting for me. Not that I was late, but
everyone was anxious to get this resolved. I took a seat at the table next to Hobbes, noting the
slide projector and screen had been set up. Eberts had been a busy boy again.

"I guess this means you have something."

"You're gonna love this, partner," Hobbes commented.

"Indeed." Eberts closed the blinds over the windows and then settled back by the slide projector.
"With the help of Detective Jarnell, we were able to narrow the list of potential suspects to six,
several of whom already have records." He clicked through the photos he had retrieved, showing
four different kids. The oldest was maybe sixteen.

Damn. Can you say flashback?

One of the kids was the grandson of the auction house manager. Another was the son of a police
officer who, at a guess, was rebelling against the family tradition of being cops. Dara said she
knew the family and that the kid was a total beast. He'd been in and out of trouble for years
already and was more than capable of breaking into the auction house just for the hell of it. The
other two were known accomplices to the cop's son and had been caught with him before.

Between the two of them they rattled off a rough version of the kids' records. None of them had
anything really violent beyond a couple of fights here and there. Nothing major. The cop's
son...shit, the kid could be me. But something about the situation didn't sit right with me.

"C'mon, even if the kid from the auction house knew the other three, the likelihood that they put
all the puzzle pieces together is, like, zero. There has to be an adult involved," I said shaking
my head. "I don't think any of these kids is capable of killing that guard. They're petty thieves,
not gang-bangers."

"We figured that. This job was a bit above what these kids would normally be after. I think they
found themselves a mentor," Dara said. "Eberts found two possibilities."

The picture on the screen changed to show a split shot. One was a small-time thief I recognized.
"Harry Devers," I said aloud.

"Old friend of yours?" Hobbes asked, the sarcasm evident in his voice.

"Know him by rep only. Old as God himself, so I could see him, maybe, remembering about 'Dirty
Dan', but he was never one to give away his secrets. And I know he hates dealing with gadgets.
Highly unlikely he'd use a jamming device for the cameras. Can of spray paint would be more his
style." By the time I was finished everyone was staring at me.

"Sometimes you scare me, my friend." Hobbes had this look of utter dismay on his face.

Like it was a big deal. I had been thief for most of my life. Why was it such a big surprise that I
knew a few others who were also in the business?

"He's right, though. It's not Harry's style. Especially not the killing. He may be a thief, but
he's no killer," Dara added. "But he was a possibility. What about her?" She waved at the screen.

Her I didn't know. Early thirties, light brown hair, pale blue eyes. Not bad looking, but
definitely hard. She'd obviously been in the business for a while, but I had never seen her before.
Different circles, perhaps. "Sorry, don't know her."

Dara didn't seem too surprised. "She's fairly new to the area, but has a rep in L.A. and San
Francisco. She does like her gadgets and has been known to use locals for partners, usually leaving
them to get caught. She has allegedly killed on two other occasions, but it's never been proven."

"But how would she know about the diamonds and everything? Just getting into town and all?" Hobbes
asked.

"If she does indeed have a connection to the kids, that might be enough. A little research and she
could piece it together the same way I did," Eberts put in.

"A lotta ifs there." Hobbes pretty much spoke for the whole room.

"But worth checking out," Dara said, getting to her feet. "I'll make arrangements for the kids to
be picked up after school gets out. I think we should pay a visit to Miss Halder."

Hobbes got to his feet as well. "You can use my office," he offered.

She nodded and followed him out of the room. I was drumming my fingers on the table, thinking, as
Eberts began to dismantle the equipment and open the blinds.

"Is there something I can help you with?" he asked me.

"Yeah, a copy of the cop kid's record." I sounded a bit distracted.

I don't know what he thought I was thinking, and I really didn't care, but he handed it over to me
without a single question. I stood up, skimming over it, and gave him a mumbled thanks as I left
the room. I wasn't quite sure why I wanted it, other than the fact that the kid reminded me of
myself. Maybe I thought I could do something. I don't know why, but I felt a connection to this kid.

Checking out Diane Halder's address was a bust, so Dara left a couple of suits to watch the place
and we switched our focus to the kids. They all went to the same school, so picking them up was
easy. I can safely say it was odd to be walking into the police station without wearing handcuffs,
to be one of the goods guys, to be the one bringing in a prisoner and not being the prisoner
myself. And I think I kind of liked it.

The kids were separated and their parents called. Two of them, including the one related to the
auction house manager, spilled what they knew almost immediately. The third lasted until his
parents arrived and then told everything he knew. It was that last kid -- Roger Jansen, the cop's
son -- who was the tough nut to crack. And he was the one the other three said knew where our Miss
Halder was hiding out until the brouhaha blew over.

When his father, Officer Jansen, showed up, I recognized him. Not a big surprise; I had a passing
acquaintance with quite a few officers in this town. The man looked like he was either going to
kill the kid or himself, and I knew that look. Had seen it on my Uncle's face a time or two.

He saw me and recognized me after a moment. It had been a couple of years after all.

"Darien Fawkes. Why am I not surprised to find you mixed up in this?" Now he just sounded tired.

I was going to answer but Dara came to my rescue. "Officer Jansen, I'm Detective Jarnell, this is
Agent Fawkes. He has been assisting me on this case."

Jansen looked like he was going to begin laughing hysterically, but swallowed it when he realized
she was serious. "So, what put you on the straight and narrow, Fawkes?" he asked when he found his
voice again.

"Lets just say it was my brother's influence." I nodded towards his son in the other room. "I'd
like to talk to him if you'll let me."

"Talk...I've given up talking. This has gone too far. He's involved with a murder, for God's
sake." It was obvious that he loved his son, but was at his wits end for what to do.

"I've been there," I said. "It can't hurt to let me talk to him."

He thought for a moment, looking at me. Untucked shirt, leather jacket, pair of khakis. Looking
like I always did. I wondered what he saw. To him I was still just a punk that somehow lucked out
of his life sentence. Of course he didn't know I had traded one life sentence for another, but it
didn't matter. He must have seen something, because he nodded.

"You're right. At this point it can't hurt."

I didn't give him a chance to change his mind and moved to enter the room. Roger glared up at me
when I shut the door. He just oozed bad attitude.

"You ain't no cop," he snapped. "I ain't got to talk to you." It was like looking in a mirror. I
could easily see myself where this kid was, copping the same 'to hell with the world' attitude and
thinking I knew more than everyone around me.

"You're right, I'm not a cop. I'm a Federal Agent." That got his attention for a second, but only
for a second. "And I don't want you to talk. I want you to listen." I sat down across from him and
watched as he made a point of looking anywhere but at me.

Where do I begin? "If you think she's going to show up and save you, you're wrong." He stiffened
for an instant, then returned to his previously scheduled slouch. "She doesn't give one dead rat's
ass for you. She just wants the prize, and she has that. She'll gladly let you take the fall for
her."

The kid was looking at me now. A little surprised. He had probably been expecting the same lecture
he always got, just with a new voice parroting it at him.

"What the hell would you know about it?" he snarled at me.

"Everything," I shouted. That was the wrong tactic and I calmed myself. "I know because I've been
in the same damn position. I got caught and she didn't. I waited for her to come get me. She bailed
with the cash. I took the rap. Did my first real jail time. I can assure you it was not
enjoyable." The kid was listening to me now and I think there was touch of fear showing in his
eyes.

"She wouldn't do that," he hissed.

"In a heartbeat. Don't kid yourself. This is a murder rap you're facing. Do you really think she's
going to waltz in the door and say she did it to save your sorry little ass?" I gave that a moment
to sink in. "Liz bailed on me over a few thousand in jewelry. Do you really think Diane isn't going
to do the same?"

That did it. The kid looked scared. "She'd let me take the fall? But I didn't do nothin' but smash
some cases and take some of the junk. I ain't taking the fall for popping that guy." The words
just poured out of his mouth. He'd gone from punk-with-attitude to
scared-kid-in-way-over-his-head in record time.

Behind me, the door to the room opened and Dara and Officer Jansen came in. After a moment of
shared glaring the kid caved. His father went to him and gave him a hug. They started talking
quietly and it was a good bet they'd work something out.

Dara set a hand on my shoulder. "Good work."

"Thanks, I guess." I got to my feet and we left the room, giving the father and son a few minutes
to be alone.

"You guess? You do realize you might have just put that kid's life back on the right track?" She
seemed to be surprised that I didn't see it that way.

I ran a hand through my hair and rubbed the back of my neck. "I just did what seemed right. No big
deal."

"Smart, cute, and modest. Makes me wonder why you ever became a thief." She was smiling and a bit
more relaxed. "I'll give them a couple minutes and then see if the kid is willing to tell us what
we need."

I walked over to Hobbes, who was hitting on the poor receptionist. He had been with one of the
other kids during his questioning and they must have finished.

"Hey, Hobbes. Leave the nice lady alone." I had stopped behind him.

"Fawkes. Bet it's nice to know you're off the hook. It was the manager's grandson who screwed up
the info on the security system and he admitted that Halder killed the guard." He straightened his
coat. "We're done."

"Uh, Hobbes," I said. He was going to think I was nuts.

"Yeah, partner?" He was giving me the eye.

"I think I'd like to stick this one out to the end. Make sure she gets brought in." I was
fidgeting again, but couldn't stop myself

"Displaced revenge issues, huh?" He nodded knowingly. "Sure. Why not. Kill the rest of the
afternoon."

Displaced revenge issues? It took me a moment to figure out what he meant by that, but I did
eventually. You know, I can't say he was wrong. Liz had left and I had gotten screwed big time.
Catching Diane Halder would kind of make up for it in a way, and maybe then these kids wouldn't
spend a good portion of their lives wondering where the hell they went wrong and why the one person
they trusted the most ran just when they were most needed.

Maybe I had done some good after all.

It took a bit longer than we all liked to convince the kid to tell us where she was hiding. What is
it with bad guys that they always have to hide out in old warehouses?

"Why is it always warehouses?" Hobbes asked aloud, echoing my thoughts.

Dara turned to him. "Happens to you guys a lot too, huh?"

We both nodded.

"Do we even know she's in there?" I was getting a bit bored with this sitting around and waiting
crap.

"She was seen going in an hour ago. We're just waiting on the damn warrant." Dara was just as
impatient as the rest of us at this point.

"So Fawkes, I'm curious. What were you after in that auction house? Even I could see there wasn't a
whole lot of value in there." Hobbes had this gleam in his eye. Like he was getting ready to laugh
when I answered.

I thought for a moment and then gave him the most accurate answer that wasn't an actual answer.
"The past, Hobbes. My past."

He didn't understand, but then again he wasn't really supposed to.

Dara opened the door to the van and climbed out as a sedan pulled up beside us. After a quick
discussion she turned back to us. "We got it. Back-up is on the way."

"Fawkes can go in and check it out while we wait on them," Hobbes said, moving to the back of the
van and getting the equipment ready.

"I can?" I figured the police could handle it from here.

"Yeah, you can. Just in case she has any surprises. She might know we're coming." Hobbes said as
he handed me the headset.

I casually glanced at my wrist and figured I was good for about fifteen minutes before any trouble
started. I should be able to get in and do a quick recon and still have enough time left. "You
might want to call Claire and have her on standby."

He nodded. "Will do. Gives me an excuse to talk to her." He wiggled his eyebrows up and down and I
rolled my eyes. "I'll tell her to bring it here."

"Is there something I'm missing?" Dara asked from the doorway.

"I just get a special treat when I'm extra good," I said as I slid out of the van past her. "Like
the well trained pup that I am."

She shook her head with a smile. "All Feds are weird. I really got to remember that."

It was just past sunset, not quite full dark yet, so I did my best to keep out of sight as I
approached the building. The door wasn't locked, but was stuck and I had to shove it open with my
shoulder. After a quick check I entered.

"I'm in," I said into the headset.

"Got that." Hobbes voice was tinny through the ear piece.

I was in the main warehouse area and it was pretty bare. Across the open expanse were the offices.
I could just make out some light shining through the dusty glass. I had made it about half way
across when the first gun shot rang out. I dove to the floor and quicksilvered, but didn't stay
there. Better to keep moving.

"Fawkes, what the hell is happening in there?" Hobbes shouted in my ear.

"A hot date." Sometimes he was a bit more thickheaded than I can stand. "She's shooting at me. She
must have had a camera rigged that I missed."

"We're coming in. See what you can do to keep her busy." Hobbes said.

Keep her busy. How, by playing target?

Not that bad of an idea, I realized. There were assorted pieces of junk in here. I picked one up
and tossed it across the floor. As I expected, she fired at the sound. I got up and moved closer to
the place she was hiding.

There was a dispatch office off to one side and I could see her moving around within. I picked up
something else at random and tossed it as well. She braced her hands on the ledge of the window and
fired. I at least got enough of a look this time to see that it was indeed Diane Halder shooting at
me. As quietly as I could I made my way to the office, picking up one more piece of junk on the way.

Hunkering down beneath the ledge I tossed the item out into the darkened room and when the gun
barrel appeared above me I grabbed it and pulled. Maybe not the best move. The gun fired as I
yanked it and the bullet hit the cement several feet in front of me , ricocheting off into the
room. It wasn't until later that I realized that, without the quicksilver, I probably would have
burned my hands on the barrel when it fired.

I desilvered and stood up, pointing the gun at her. "Federal Agent. I have a warrant for your
arrest."

She gave me a look of mixed anger and surprise, but put up her hands like a good girl. The cavalry
arrived moments later and she was patted down and handcuffed.

"Not bad, Fawkes. How are we doing?" Hobbes came up next to me.

I turned my wrist over. Only two segments remained green. "That would explain the headache."

"The Keep's on her way," Hobbes said, looking over at Detective Jarnell. She'd just finished
questioning Halder, unsuccessfully by the look on her face.

"Spread out and search the place. I want those statuettes found even of they are in pieces." She
was sounding a bit irritated.

I elbowed Hobbes. "Come on." He followed me into the offices, which were pretty much bare. Several
uniformed cops were searching the rooms as well. I was looking for one room in particular, and after
a few minutes I found it.

"What, Fawkes? This room looks just like all the rest," Hobbes stated.

"Look again." I was searching the walls, looking for what I knew should be here.

"Hey, it's clean in here. No dust bunnies attacking my ankles." Hobbes was staring at the floor
wondering why he hadn't noticed before.

I finally found what I was looking for. It was set close to the floor, which was atypical. I
depressed the catch and a section of the wall popped open, revealing a hidden safe.

"How'd you know that was there?" Hobbes asked. Then he shook his head. "Never mind."

"Let's see how out of practice I am." The sucker had a combination lock, and I used to be able to
do these by feel, but like any skill it gets a bit rusty if you don't keep in practice. It took me
three tries, but I got it.

"Jackpot." Okay, so it was an overused saying, but appropriate I thought. It looked like our girl
had traded the crappy statuettes for some updated models. These were actually decent looking if you
liked fairies and gnomes.

My head was starting to really hurt now. "How long till the Keep gets here?"

Hobbes checked his watch. "Five. Tops."

I nodded and lifted one of the gnomes up. Dara came in with another officer then. "Shall we see
what's inside?"

"Do it." she said.

I hit the bottom edge of the gnome on the wall, cracking the base, then finished it with my hands.
I found a tightly rolled tube of plastic inside and slid it out. Sitting down on the floor, I
sliced the plastic open with the knife Hobbes handed to me. I looked up at him with a lifted
eyebrow and he just shrugged.

"Like a boy scout. Always prepared." My god, Hobbes made a joke.

Under the plastic was a layer of paper and under the paper a cloth bag. I undid the neck of the bag
and spilled the contents onto the paper. Diamonds, hundreds of them, poured out. All rough cut. All
different sizes. The biggest was the size of my pinky nail, around three carats. And there were at
least a dozen of those statuettes in the safe.

Jackpot indeed.



Things went just fine from there. Claire showed and I got my shot of counteragent in plenty of
time. We stuck around for a bit just to make sure all the loose ends were tied up.

Dara came out at one point and, after staring at me for a long moment, came over. She handed me a
video tape.

"Halder had the system recording. I think there was a malfunction. Or there will be. I'd recommend
destroying that when you get the chance." She walked away, smiling to herself.

"What's on the tape?" Hobbes asked watching her walk away.

"Let's find out shall we?" So we went over to my place, picking up something to eat on the way.

I popped the tape in the machine and watched the empty warehouse for a bit.

"How exciting. Fast forward would you." Hobbes said around a mouthful of calzone.

"Yeah." I set down my salad and picked up the remote. I noticed the time code in the bottom corner
of the screen watched the numbers creep towards the time we had arrived. Halder zipped across the
screen and I suddenly realized what the camera had recorded. "Ah, shit." I returned the tape to
normal speed.

"What?" Hobbes asked.

"Watch." I pointed at the screen where I had just appeared. There was no sound, so it was a bit
comical when I dove to the ground and disappeared.

"Ah, shit," Hobbes said in agreement. "Do we tell the Fat Man?"

"Do we need to? She did give us the tape." I turned the VCR off, and the TV as well.

Hobbes nodded. "Yeah, she's okay."

"And us, are we okay? I screwed up, I admit it, but..."

He interrupted me. "Just don't make a habit of it. The Fat Man has a hard enough time dealing with
my idiosyncrasies without having to add all of yours into the mix." Hobbes took another bite of
his calzone. "It ain't all bad is it? You did a good thing for that kid."

I just ducked my head a bit and poked at a lettuce leaf. "Too bad no one did that for me." I
mumbled it but he heard me anyway.

"But then you wouldn't be where you are now." He got this funny look on his face when he realized
exactly what he had said. "Oh."

Yeah, oh. That pretty much summed it up for me.



I know all of you are asking 'what the hell were you trying to steal in the first place?' It's
just going to sound silly to all of you, but two weeks later, when they finally had the auction for
those items, I was sitting there waiting for lot number twenty-three. It cost a hundred and twenty
bucks, but it was worth it to me.

Value isn't always monetary.

I know, it was just one small volume in a pile of dusty old books. But to me, it was a connection
to my past. A past I had been thinking about a lot lately.

It was first edition of poetry. "The Complete Poems", by Emily Dickinson. Published in 1924.

I can hear every one of you groaning. 'All this for a book of poems?'

Well, yeah. You see, it's one of the few things I really remember. She used to read them to me.
Poetry, by all the best. Kipling, Frost, Longfellow, Dickinson.

Trying to get me started off right.

Oh, you want to know who?

Simple -- my mom.

Happy Mother's Day.



"God gave us memory that we might have roses in December." -James M. Barrie



Finis