A/N: This is my entry for CBPC for July: first times…

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"What… exactly… do you think you are doing?"

Busted! She froze and turned slowly around. The young apprentice took a good look at the kid in front of him. She was all dressed up, but she'll have nowhere to go if it was up to him. Although he considered for a brief second… he rejected the idea as soon as it had formed inside his head. Those were dangerous thoughts. It could cost him his job. It could cost the brat her life.

But he could see the flame burning in her dark eyes, and he knew… he just KNEW… that she was in love. He couldn't fault her. He had felt the same need, his calling coming much later in life that hers, but still… he knew the pull, the lure, the mermaid's song… and how hard it was to resist it.

He looked at the body placed on the table. She had already scrubbed it clean. She had the instrument tray set next to it, every single piece of equipment shiny and bright and exactly in the order Doc Jimmy liked to used them. She had recalibrated the scale and had the tape recorder posed and ready to go. The damn kid had even scrubbed up, for crying out loud!

"You know I can't, don't you?" he asked, trying to figure out how to give her a lil help along the way without loosing his job along the way.

"Please? Just this once?" Her big brown eyes shone full of hope, her tone cajoling, her whole face lit up like a friggin' Christmas tree in the middle of May.

"Sorry, kiddo, no can do. You know better than that… if Doc comes and finds you suited up… no, scratch that… if he walks in here and finds you inside the morgue… you and I both can kiss the hide in our backs goodbye…"

"But Papa won't be down here any time soon… Aunt Lucille just dropped by with a freshly baked rhubarb pie… and a tiny bottle of that fine whiskey they've been aging since before I was born…"

Cajoling. The piggy-tailed brat was trying to cajole into giving in. If what she said was true, Doc would probably come down here… well, if that whiskey was anywhere near good as the whole family claimed it was, he prolly wouldn't be down here until tomorrow morning…

"Just the tow of us, Mackey, whatcha say? Papa won't mind if you started out without him… you're his apprentice and as long as you record everything for him to dictate to mom to type in his report… who's going to know? Please, Mackey, please!"

Macharius "Mackey" Johnson ought to know better. This was no place for a runt who'd barely finished elementary school. But she was his father's daughter all right, and probably knew more about anatomy than half the students in their first year at med school. He himself had only managed to finish high school, but he'd been helping Doctor Saroyan at the tiny morgue in Port Sulphur, Louisiana for so long he could now perform an autopsy with is eyes closed and his right hand tied behind his back… well, maybe without the hand tied, but he could easily name every single bone and spot any weird thing in a heart.

But if he was good, the brat was better. She carried it in her blood, like other kids had artistic blood or soldier's blood…

"Oh, Chamomile, Chamomile…" he used his favorite nickname for her, giving it a dramatic, General Hospital worthy, effect

"Oh, Macacus, Macacus…" she answered back in the same fashion

"On one condition… you don't touch zip. You lay one of those skinny fingers of yours inside the body and I'll show you a whoopin' your Granny'd be proud of…"

The kid squealed in delight, jumping up and down, and ran to grab a stool to stand on the right side of the table. Mackey took one last look at her expecting eyes, wondered if he was completely out of his mind for allowing a 12 year old girl to aid him in an autopsy… and grabbed the scalpel.

"First off, squirt..."

"I know, I know… Y incision with a number 6 blade and taking your time…"

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A/N: I was about 10 or 11 when "Quincy" first aired… and I just knew, right then and there, that I wanted to be doing autopsies for a living. I got my chance to attend one in 11th grade and it only made me more certain that it was what I wanted to do. But life has a way of taking you where it wants, which isn't always where you wanted it to go in the first place. All this to say that, albeit uncommon, there are a few of us out there that have a soft port for a stiff body. So we're weird. Live with it. And review.