Sick, Shot, And Snarling
By: The Twisted Evilettes AKA Amy D & Suisan
Synopsis: The flu is raging through the department, LAPD nearly loses one of it's own and there's a plot afoot for a Big Score.
Disclaimer: The usual, we don't own them, we're only borrowing to entertain, they will be put back (mostly) unharmed, we're poor students, yada, yada, yada. Feedback is welcomed, however, all flames will be cheerfully ignored. Many thanks go to our Beta, Ely; without you, this story wouldn't have tightened up so nicely!
Don felt so bad that if someone were to shoot him and put him out of his misery, it would be considered a justifiable homicide and not murder. He also deemed it necessary to suffer in silence, not telling anyone he was sick and did his best to hide the symptoms, after all – there was way too much to do and he could sleep once he got home. Besides, he decided on upon further quiet contemplation, he didn't feel all that bad.
The agents on his team clearly did not share Don's personal assessment of his health – or lack there of. Especially Agent David Sinclair who was currently sitting in the passenger seat of Don's SUV, sitting as far away from his boss as was physically possible, as they made their way to a crime scene.
To be honest, Don didn't blame his agent for his reaction to being 'trapped' in the same vehicle with someone who, once he climbed behind the driving wheel, had done nothing but cough, sneeze and generally sound miserable. That was twenty-five minutes ago and now, as they wove their way through the crowded city streets, Don hadn't gone more than two minutes without barking like a dog.
One more round of coughing that left Don breathless was, apparently, the final straw for David's calm reserve. "Don, don't take this the wrong way but you sound like crap and if you're coming down with something, shouldn't you be nice to the rest of the team and not infect them like you've probably already have infected me?"
"I'm fine, David." Don replied, his voice coming out as a harsh croak.
"Yeah, right. The last time I heard noises like that, I was on the banks of a frog-filled pond." Don glared at him. "What? It's the truth! And when you're not coughing and croaking, you sound like an asthmatic."
"You keep this up and I'm going to breathe on you." Don shook his head; didn't David understand that there was too much to do? That, as bad as it sounded, Don wasn't that sick and once he got something to drink the coughing would go away.
"Too late." David snorted in disdain. "We're already sharing airspace in this car and have been for close to 30 minutes. If you're infectious, I'm already screwed."
"I'm not contagious, so you can stop complaining." Don snapped, then let out another deep cough that rattled his body.
"Tell you what, either you go home after the report is filed or I call Alan and tattle on you."
Don stifled another cough and glared at his agent. "Just how old are you again, Agent Sinclair?" He turned his attention back to the task at hand, dodging LA traffic, trying to gauge how much longer it would be before they arrived at the crime scene LAPD had requested their presence at. If he was right … he had another five minutes of Sarcastic Sinclair to suffer through.
"Old enough to know when my boss is sick and should probably not have come into work today. Or how to get him to go home if I thought he was being too stubborn for his own good, or that of the team." David snarked back, his voice and tone smooth as silk but still able to convey his underlying concern.
Don opened his mouth to respond, but another fierce coughing fit interrupted his attempt and he lost the ability to speak as just taking a simple breath became a huge priority. He barely managed to keep the GMC on the road as David suddenly undid his seatbelt, turned around in his seat and started digging for something in the back as Don came to a stop at a lighted intersection.
"Don, pull over." Came David's muffled voice from over Don's shoulder as the younger man dug around.
"What?" Don replied, annoyance coloring his raspy voice. "We're no where near the damn scene!"
"Pull over!" This time David put a modicum of undeniable command into his request, then clarified his request. "Look, just pull over, I don't want us in a wreck because you couldn't keep your eyes on the other idiots on the road due to your damn barking."
He felt another round of hacking cough building up in his chest, so Don pulled to the curb in a convenient empty parking slot, just as David let out a triumphant noise and, after settling back into the passenger seat, held up a unopened water bottle. The cough that was threatening Don finally broke forth and David lost no time unscrewing the bottle cap and handing the water to Don who managed to take it without spilling and got a few sips down between barks.
The coughing fit abated but Don was still 'not happy' with his junior agent and scowled at the man. "You've been hanging around Megan too long, Sinclair."
David laughed, good-naturedly. "If Megan were here, you would not have been allowed to drive."
Don had to admit, privately, that David had a point. A few more swigs from the bottle of lukewarm water settled the cough and the tickle in his throat that had caused most of Don's discomfort. He screwed the lid back on and glanced over at his partner for this call out. "Can we go now, 'Nancy Nurse'?"
David just grinned. "As long as you can see the road, I'm good."
Buckley Jewelry and Pawn was a non-descript store, on the fairly large side of 'hole-in-the-wall,' located in an equally unremarkable strip mall in San Clemente. David followed Don into the store where they were informed a LAPD detective by the name of Folger was in charge of the scene and, yes, awaiting their arrival. The officer on door detail wrote their names down then waved them deeper into the shop, hopefully in the general direction of the Detective.
He listened as Don took in a deep breath, then started to cough as the cooler interior air hit his lungs. David shook his head and stepped up to the nearest uniformed officer as they approached the display counter in the back. The officer looked at them and David flashed his credentials. "Agents Sinclair and Eppes, we're looking for Detective Folger?"
"Over there, talking to the owner." The officer pointed them toward an office nearly hidden behind a stack of old military fatigues.
David spotted a tall, sandy-haired man dressed in an off-the-rack suit, talking to an older gentleman holding a cold pack to his head and drew near. "Detective Folger?"
The man looked up from his note taking. "Yes?"
"Agents Sinclair and Eppes … we were told you found something of interest to the FBI here?"
Folger pursed his lips. "I wouldn't say that but—" If David hadn't been raised on the East Coast, he never would've heard the detective's barely detectable, but unmistakable New England accent as he led the way over to the far end of the display counter. "It's not much and I sure as hell didn't think it worth calling you but I'm just a lowly detective." He picked up an clear plastic evidence zippy bag and handed it to David. "That's it."
He looked at the contents, which turned out to be a tourist informational pamphlet, then handed it over to Don who had finally quit sounding like he'd swallowed a broken pipe organ. "Not much of a reason to call us, is it, Detective?"
The man shrugged. "Like I said, it was not my idea to call you."
David watched as Don handled the evidence bag, flipping it over a couple of times before handing it back to Folger. "So you find a info pamphlet about the Federal Reserve at a crime scene and your bosses get spooked." Don handed the bag back to the Detective. "Probably nothing to it, the Reserve is roughly ten-blocks away, they give public tours so it's more likely the darn thing was dropped by some harmless tourist."
"That's my thoughts too, but you know how jumpy bosses can be." Folger took the pamphlet back from Don just as the senior agent let out a couple of coughs.
David had to bite his tongue when Don nodded and then commiserated with the LAPD detective. "Understood, Folger. Sometimes we ground-pounders have to do what the 'shirts' above us tell us to do without questions." David quietly handed Don a pack of tissues as he started to sniffle.
"Allergies or one of the viruses that are flitting around town?" Folger asked Don.
"Probably allergies." Don replied and David restrained himself from calling his boss a liar. "Though it's the first time I've had a flare up since moving back to Los Angeles."
"Well, just in case—" Folger moved away from Don. "Stay clear of me and keep your potential germs to yourself. I don't know you well-enough to share bugs with you."
David couldn't stop the bark of laughter that escaped his lips and earned him a patented Eppes Glare. "It's not my fault the detective here has a good sense of self-preservation, Don."
Don let out a loud sigh of frustration. "It's just that I've been hearing lines like that since I started with a mild case of the sniffles." He handed the tissues pack back to David, who make a production of gingerly plucking the pack from the outstretched hand and tossing it into a nearby trashcan. "Damn it, Sinclair, it's not the plague!" Don snapped at him.
"Don … I'm just not taking any chances, okay?" David responded in a less-than-apologetic tone.
Folger cleared his throat. "Uh-hem. Sorry for dragging you down here for nothing, Agents."
David started to respond, but Don jumped in – resuming his mantle of control that he'd temporarily given over to David. "No problem, Detective. We came, we looked, and we'll file a report that will placate your supervisors and ours. No harm done." Don turned and faced David again. "You ready to get out of here, Sinclair?"
David nodded and turned to follow Don out of the store, only to stop, turn back and walked back up to Folger and handed him his business card. "Detective, if you find something that seems like more than what you have right now, don't hesitate to give us a call yourself." Folger pocketed the card and then, after a exchange of friendly handshakes, David caught up with Don just as the Supervisory Agent was climbing back behind the wheel of his SUV.
"Go home." Megan told Don after listening to him hack, sneeze and carry on since he and David had returned from the consultation with LAPD. "Before you infect the rest of us, and not to your place. You go there, you'll just stew in your own juices, end up half-dead come morning and still not realize you're sick." She scolded him from what she hoped was a 'safe' distance.
"Have you been talking to Elaine?" Don asked between sneezes, referring to the wife of Lieutenant Walker who just happened to be his cardiologist.
"Will it get you to go home faster if I had?" Megan quipped, not expecting or waiting for a response but mildly surprised when she got an affirmative nod; so she lied directly to his face. "Then, yes, I did." She tried to ignore David and Colby's all too obvious interested glances from where they sat.
"I'm fine!" Don responded heatedly. "It's just a little cold." He turned his back on her, sitting down at his desk and opened a file on his desk, effectively dismissing her; however, his traitorous body trying to expel a lung or two spoiled the 'dismissal.' "It's just a cold." Megan heard him mutter before he looked over at Colby and David and growled at them. "Don't you two have reports or follow-ups to do?"
Megan almost laughed as the two agents quickly found very engrossing things to attend to on their desks, just as Don turned his laser glare on her. She shook her head and returned to her own reports, but not giving up on the idea of somehow forcing Don's hand and making him leave before he spread the germs he was harboring.
Her opportunity came later, just after lunch, when the Assistant Director of Agents came through on one of his near-daily walkabout. Megan quickly intercepted the man before he got close enough to where Don would over-hear her discussion with him. "Director Wright?"
"Agent Reeves, what can I do for you?" ADA Wright replied pleasantly enough.
"Sir, I'm hoping you will have more luck that I've had with a stubborn agent. He's too sick to be here, but too obstinate to leave even though he's barking like an emphysemic harbor seal." Megan made it a point to look directly at Don as she outlined his behavior for the ADA.
The Director followed her gaze and, stepped backwards when he spotted a clearly unwell Don Eppes sitting at his desk, huddled over a stack of paperwork and coughing, sniffling and occasionally sneezing. "Just what we don't need – another division down in manpower." He looked back at Megan. "How long has he been ill and how many people has Eppes possibly infected?"
"Sinclair for certain, they went out on a call this morning." She shrugged as she continued to think about whom else her boss might have contaminated. "Myself, Agent Granger and, since Eppes has been like that all morning … probably a good portion of this entire floor."
"Lovely." Wright squared his broad shoulders and approached the cubicle where Don Eppes sat looking utterly miserable. "Eppes! Get out of my office before you're declared a walking biohazard and do NOT come back here until you no longer look like something a vulture wouldn't touch."
"I'm fine, dammit!" Don replied, and though Megan wouldn't have believed it if someone told her, seeing her already pale supervisor turn white when he realized he'd just barked at the Assistant Director was almost funny. "Sir! I'm fine... it's just a cold—" he turned and locked eyes with Megan and she knew he knew she'd just set Wright on him.
"No argument, Eppes. Leave." Wright's body language, along with his tone, brooked no argument, but that didn't stop Eppes from attempting a stare-down with their boss, which Megan found extremely interesting. From a behaviorist's point of view, of course. After about twenty seconds of the silent battle of wills, Megan watched in quiet triumph as Don broke eye contact first and reached over to boot down his computer.
"All right … you win." Don glanced over at Megan even as he forwarded his phone to hers. "I'm going home. Happy?"
"Ecstatic!" She replied.
"'Bout damn time." Came from behind her and Megan turned to see Wright glaring at either David or Colby.
"Sinclair, right?" Wright correctly identified the speaker.
"Since, according to Agent Reeves, you've already been exposed to Eppes' viruses, you can give him a ride home since I'm pretty sure he's in no condition to drive." Wright turned his attention back to Don before continuing, "At least not without endangering the safety of the very citizens he's sworn to protect."
"Yes, sir." David replied and started shutting down his desk and shunting his phone over to Colby's.
Megan knew Wright was observing her as she brushed past him to stand over Don who was taking his sweet time getting to his feet. "Don, give me your keys and your department cell phone. I want you to go to Charlie's house and I do not want you tempted to come back here later tonight to 'take care of a few things'."
"I'm not going to Charlie's—"
"David, straight to the Eppes house. No detours." Megan interrupted Don's protest and waited until the chauffeuring agent nodded his agreement before addressing her boss again. "Don, it's like this; if I hear you talked David into dropping you off at your apartment, I'll sic Alan on you."
Don glared at her defiantly. "That, Megan, is a low blow."
"Yes, it is, but you also know I'll do it."
"Yeah, you would." He finally stood up and slipped his jacket on. "All right, David, haul my sickly butt out to Pasadena." Don moved toward the 'door' of his cubicle, only to have Colby and David block the way.
"First things first, Don." Megan said as she stepped around the younger agents. "Your cell phone and keys, please, or were you hoping I would forget?"
Don at least had the grace to blush when she called him on it, or he was getting flushed with fever, but he dug the keys out and tossed them at her. Colby's hand reached out and caught the flying metal and handed it to David before Megan could react. Then Don pulled his cell phone and it's holder off his belt and held it out toward her. "Uh-huh. Put it on the desk, I am not touching that germ-laden piece of equipment after watching you talk on it earlier."
He did as he was told and Megan, Colby and Assistant Director Wright moved out of Don's way as he joined David and the two of them left the area. She nodded at Colby, who immediately returned to his desk and then she turned to ADA Wright. "Sir, thanks for your assistance, I'm pretty sure he would've stayed until it became necessary to call an ambulance for him if you hadn't ordered him home."
"No problem, Reeves. I do have a question though." She looked at him expectantly. "Just who the hell is "Alan" and why was Agent Eppes worried you would 'sic' him on him?"
Megan let out a small chuckle before explaining. "Alan is Agent Eppes' father, sir."
Wright let loose with a snicker of his own. "Ah, parental pressure. That is both sneaky and underhanded, I like that in an Agent, Reeves."
"Thank you, sir." Megan watched for a few minutes as Wright continued his walkabout, clearly checking to make sure no one else was sick, before she returned to her own work.
"You don't have to come in, David. I think I can make it in to the house on my own." Don snarled. It rankled to have been booted from the office for something as minor as a cold. He wasn't about to have his embarrassment increased ten-fold by having his father find out, in fact, he planned on calling a cab company the minute David was gone so he could go to his apartment. Don would admit his cold to his dad, just not right away.
"I didn't say you couldn't." David opened the driver's side door and got out.
Don scowled. Once again, he was being treated like a ten year-old, and people wondered why he had trust issues? He climbed out of the passenger side seat of his department-issued GMC and trudged up the walkway to the front steps, where David was calmly waiting for him. "After you." The young agent said, pleasantly, as he gestured toward the heavy oak door of the Craftsman style house.
He experienced a very vivid mental hallucination of himself slamming the front door in David's face, but then Don realized he just plain didn't have the energy to do the deed, or explain why he did it afterwards. "Fine… come on in if you must, just don't get to close to Dad, all right?" Don fished the key ring with his house keys on it out of his pocket, then popped open the door before looking back at David. "I don't want you giving him whatever it is that's making the rounds."
"Shoulda thought of that before you breathed on me." David muttered as he stepped past Don into the vestibule of the Eppes house, which earned him the nastiness glare Don could muster as he secured the door behind the young man. However, the glare died quickly as he noticed how David's eyes lit up as he scanned the interior of Don's childhood home. How could he stay mad at someone who loved the Craftsman as much as he, Charlie and even Alan did?
Thinking of Alan… Don spotted his father sitting in his favorite armchair, the newspaper lowering to greet his son even as he and David stepped into the room. "Donnie … this is a surprise."
"Hi, Dad." Don took his sweet time stripping his coat off and hanging it, carefully, across the back of the other recliner.
"Hello, David." Alan put the paper down, took his reading glasses off and stood up. "What brings you two by?" His sharp gaze landed on Don as he loosened his tie and dropped into the recliner he had just draped his sport coat on.
He waved at the young man standing behind him. "Go ahead, David, tell him. I know you want to—" Don was rudely interrupted by a round of volatile sneezing that nearly left him breathless.
"Donnie…" Alan reproached him, but Don was more concerned with catching his breath.
"It's all right, Alan." David assured his father. "Don was sent home by ADA Wright because he looks terrible, sounds worse and probably has the flu bug that's been making the rounds at the office."
His father's astute stare lanced across the room as Alan walked the small distance between the two mission-style recliners and laid a cool hand on Don's brow. "I'm being treated like a nine-year old child." Don groused, then started to sneeze, interspersed with little half-sneezes coupled with sniffles.
"Humph!" Alan pulled up on his chin and Don had to look his father in the eyes. "You act like a child, you get treated like one. Adults know that when they're running a fever, they're sick and need to get home or to a doctor. Especially when they sound like you do, Donnie."
Don jerked his chin out of his father's grip as another sneeze threatened to rip through his sinuses. One sneeze escaped before he could respond. "I'm damn near forty." More sneezes rent the air, followed by a miserable series of sniffles.
"Then act like it." Alan gently reproached him. "Now, go on up to your old room and behave." With much muttering and grumbling, sneezing and sniffling, and good old-fashioned stomping, Don made his way upstairs, leaving David to tell any tales he felt like to his father.
He watched as Don clomped up the stairs and disappeared down the hallway before turning to David Sinclair. The young man spoke up before Alan could question him further about Donnie. "Alan, I do not envy you having to put up with Don while he tries to get over this. He's been a foul mood all morning and it's only gotten worse as the afternoon progressed."
He let out a snort. "Where do you think he gets it from?"
"So he's always been so—"
"Stubborn?" Alan interrupted but David nodded in agreement. "Oh yes. David, tell me one thing if you can? How long has Don sounded like a sick seal?"
David shrugged his shoulders. "I first noticed the wheezing when we were on the way to a consult with LAPD this morning. Wait until he starts coughing, that's when he really sounds like an asthmatic seal."
As if on cue, the sound of harsh coughing drifted down from upstairs. "I understand completely. Donnie will be okay, David. I've nursed him through more than one round of bronchitis and that is what it sounds like he's got."
"You know, he wasn't even given the option of going back to his place. We'd all kinda like him back in one piece. After he's better." David told Alan, a smile on his face.
"I'd like to keep him that way myself. Call me selfish, but I need him and Charlie to take care of me in my later years." Alan replied.
David's smile grew. "Yes, sir. I totally understand. Now, I have to get back to the office before Megan comes looking for me. Call if you need anything. Handcuffs, rope..."
Alan let out a laugh. "I'll do that. Thanks for bringing him home."
"You're welcome Alan. Oh, just so you know, Megan confiscated his cell phone and car keys." David held up the keys to Don's FBI issued SUV. "I'll be parking it in the garage at the office so, hopefully, that will keep him pretty much grounded here."
That got another snort of near laughter from Alan. "Megan knows him too well."
After David left, Alan went upstairs to find the vaporizer and set it up on the bedside table in Don's room while his eldest was in the bathroom taking a nice, hot shower. Then, after making sure his sick son was in bed, Alan went down to the kitchen and started to assemble the ingredients necessary for his patented Chicken Noodle Soup. When Charlie came home several hours later, it was bubbling merrily along. The family genius sniffed the air, then quipped, "Who's sick?"