Summary – Everybody knows that trouble always follows Ed Brown, especially when he's transporting a prisoner!
A/N – Something a little more light-hearted than usual. Set in one of the later series, 7 or 8.
Rating – G
All In A Day's Work
It rained for the whole trip, and it seemed to Ed Brown that he just couldn't get rid of the rain.
Though not a superstitious man, he took it as a signal that something was going to go wrong with this trip, as it never rained in California… or almost never. If he had been a gambling man, he would have thrown in the cards before he started, if he'd had a choice. He'd been to collect prisoners from other states before, and had never enjoyed the job, as something always seemed to go wrong. He had often wondered why the Chief kept on sending him on these jobs with his track record. And, by now, he had a reputation around the SFPD.
This time, it rained during the flight from San Francisco to LA; it rained during the taxi-trip to the Police HQ. It rained while he waited in the cafeteria for the final preparations, and he looked out over the streets of LA with thick streaks of water over the windows.
It was still raining, though not so hard, when he signed the papers, releasing the prisoner into his custody, and it rained as the police car pulled out of the underground car park, taking him and the prisoner back to the airport.
It was only early afternoon, but the sky was an unfamiliar grey, unfamiliar at least for California and there seemed to be no end to the rain-clouds. Ed and his prisoner waited in the main security office, and he watched the lines of rain track down the huge glass windows, a few planes taking off and land in a shower of spray in the far distance.
He would have bet even money that his plane would be cancelled, or delayed at the very least; if that happened that was going to be the start of his problems. They would have to wait to find out. But the few minutes in the office gave him time to brood, as his prisoner sat, handcuffed to him, reading the financial paper.
Ed watched the water splash on the ledges. He wasn't proud of what had happened last time he was in LA, though it had reminded him of what it meant to be a policeman.
But that wasn't the only time things had gone wrong.
There was that disaster at Reno when he'd almost gotten himself and his charge killed by being panicked into making a move when he should have stayed where he was. And he'd been too trusting. He was surprised that Ironside hadn't busted back down to patrolman for that!
And there had been the trip to Las Vegas, and meeting Elaine Morrow.
Ed gave a deep frown. He didn't want to think about that at the moment.
A Security Guard opened the office door, making Ed jump.
'Sergeant Brown? Your plane's on time. Follow me please.'
Ed stood, and his prisoner did the same, folding his paper neatly under his arm as he did so. He walked out to the aeroplane with a sinking feeling, but he tried to convince himself it was going to be different. This time, when trouble came, he would be ready for it.
On the plane, Ed waited for something to happen. Every bump and movement made him more nervous. He couldn't concentrate on the paper the prisoner offered him, he couldn't even concentrate on the trashy book he'd brought along especially for this purpose.
There were still thick clouds all around. Outside, the rain still cascaded down, across the small windows. He guessed that the plane would be diverted away from San Francisco, but no announcement came over the PA. The longer nothing happened the more worried he became.
Nevertheless, the plane continued through and landed without a problem at San Francisco International. Ed and his charge went though the checkout without any delays.
The squad car was waiting by the service entrance, just as he expected. He knew the driver as well, a uniformed officer called Thomason. Both Ed and the prisoner got inside, the car pulled smoothly out into the continuing rain. There was nothing wrong. There was no problem.
He had to keep reminding himself of that as they travelled through the streets to Police HQ. There was no problem. Nothing had gone wrong, yet. And the opportunities for something to go wrong were growing smaller.
They drove in silence downtown. Still nothing happened.
They stopped in the basement car park under Headquarters, and Ed slowly clambered out of the car, looking round suspiciously with one hand hovering over his gun. There was nothing, there was no one there, even though this was almost the last chance for trouble. He waved half-heartedly at Thomason as he drove off.
Ed looked around again. There were only shadows, and the far off drumming of the rain.
'C'mon, man,' said the prisoner. 'You've got me here, now let's get goin'!'
He walked the man over to the elevator, travelled up to the ground floor, and dropped his prisoner off at the desk. The handcuffs were opened and the prisoner was taken to the lockup downstairs.
That was it.
And nothing bad had happened.
For a moment, Ed could hardly believe it. With a grin, he crossed to the elevator and went upstairs to the attic room where Chief Ironside, Mark and Fran were waiting for him, trying to look busy. The moment he stepped through the door, Ed sensed something was odd. Maybe it was the way they were all looking at him.
'Um… Hi Chief,' he said uncertainly. There was a pause, filled only by the sound of the rain on the windows of the office. Everyone seemed surprised to see him.
'You're on time,' Ironside replied with a mild rebuke in his tone. No one else spoke. In fact, both Mark and Fran looked almost embarrassed by his presence. He walked down the steps uncertainly, unable to put his finger on what was wrong.
'Any problems, Sergeant?' asked Ironside, wheeling himself over, so he could look Ed directly in the eye.
'No problems at all, Chief,' replied Ed, shaking his head. 'It was text-book all the way.'
There seemed to be a sigh that went round the room. Ed frowned. This wasn't the reception he had been expecting.
'Look, what's going on?' he asked.
Fran and Mark glanced at each other, then to Ironside.
'Well?' demanded Ed.
Ironside looked away, and Ed followed his gaze to the table. There was a piece of paper and a large glass jar full of dollar bills. Ed picked up the paper. On it were two columns; one was a list of names from all over the building (including the Commissioner's), and the second column was labelled "events": Shot at, captured, kidnapped, jailed, knocked out… the list went on.
Suddenly it dawned on him what this was. It was a sweepstake. Whoever guessed right walked away with the whole pot. And they had bet on what was calamity was going to befall him on the prisoner transport job.
'You ran a sweep?' his said incredulously, looking round at his so-called colleagues. 'You ran a sweep on what was going to go wrong?'
Fran hurried across to the kitchen area, avoiding his gaze, Mark shrugged. Only Ironside looked back at him, with the same level gaze as always.
He looked down to find the Chief's name, and see what he had written: falls in love with a beautiful stranger. As a little dig as his past mistakes, that was a little too close to home.
'You…' he couldn't find the right words. 'You're not even a little bit embarrassed, are you?'
Ironside shook his head.
Ed scanned down the list of potential calamities, and the names, in silence. After a moment, he picked up the jar. There was upwards of 40 in there. He looked down at it, thoughtfully, rolling it from hand to hand. Then he looked back over the list.
Finally, he screwed up the piece of paper and threw it at the dustbin then he tucked the jar under his arm without a word, turned and headed for the door.
'Hey man? Where you goin' with that money?' asked Mark.
'There was no "arrives safety with his prisoner",' Ed replied. 'So this pot is mine! And I'm going to get a steak.'
He got as far as opening the office door before the silence from the others made him stop. He smiled to himself. It would be kinda dull to eat steak on his own, after all. And it was still raining outside.
'Forty dollars buys a lot of steak,' said he to the door. 'I don't suppose that anyone would care to join me.'
There was a flurry of noise, and the sound of rolling wheels and Fran, Mark and Ironside hurried past.
At the door, the Chief turned to look at Ed with a happy smile.
'It's good to see you back in one piece, Sergeant! I never doubted it for a minute!'