Man is born to trouble, and yup, Newton was right

"Wait up, dammit!!" Alphonse bellowed at the departing rear ends of his dogs. Neither animal paid him any attention. He increased his pace a little, as they rounded a corner and disappeared from view.

How did I get myself into this! His job had been bag man, now he was chasing a fleeing criminal through the back streets of down town LA. Alphonse prided himself on being in condition, and kept fit. However, the guy he was chasing was small and skinny, and much better suited to a sustained run through the deserted alley ways. The big man's solid frame simply wasn't built for marathon running.

He turned the corner, in time to see Tilly's long flag disappearing into the double doorway of an old building. At last, he's cornered, ain't but one way in. Alphonse followed. The dogs flew up the old stairs and disappeared again, their master a poor third behind them. The place was dark and dirty, He had to slow up to avoid various hazardous articles which loomed up from time to time in the crummy deserted building. He reached another doorway, more stairs, gotta be leading to the roof.

Confident he had his man, the big undercover agent slowed. He ain't going nowhere. Shoved the ancient creaky door open onto the roof, winced at the sudden burst of bright sunlight. Then stared in disbelief as first Buster, then Tilly made the effortless leap to the building next door. WHHAATTT!

Alphonse backed up slightly. This was a whole new ball game, the two dogs stopped and looked at him expectantly; Buster barked.

"Okay, shuddup!! I'm coming!" Alphonse fidgeted a bit, the last thing in the world he wanted to do was make the jump to the next building. He walked to the edge and peered over. Long way down. He walked away. Hey, it worked in that movie, Jim Belushi did it, an' he's heavy…………………he can do it, I can do it! Simple really! Psyching himself up. He walked a little further back, it worked then, and it's gonna work now, can't let the guys down. He stopped and spun round, dug deep and sprinted for the edge.

Launching himself out into the void, he realised way too late that he was coming up short. Alphonse hit the edge with a crunch which drove the breath from his lungs, desperate hands clamped over the rusting rail on the edge of the roof and he hung there. Dammit, this is a little too like the movie. Struggled to breathe. Then his heart stopped beating! A rending noise sounded from the rail he was clinging to, the rusting pipe started to bend and vibrate in his hands as his weight dragged on it.

Charlie drove, Ice, Chrissy and O'Connor directed; so Charlie tuned them out, going with instinct and the direction he'd seen 'Phonse take. They turned the corner, in time to see their big reckless friend take a flying leap off the building next to them attempting to reach the other side.

"ALPHONSE!!!" Charlie's foot slammed down on the brake. They piled out of the car and hunted for the way into the building.

Alphonse heard Charlie call his name, but as every ounce of strength was going into clinging to the bending rusty pipe, he didn't feel like answering. The pipe buckled more and Alphonse slid further down. Things were rapidly reaching the point of no return. The pipe broke and with a shriek of fright, the big man fell.

The ambulance screamed through the streets. Charlie and Chrissy stayed with him, identical pained expressions on their faces.

The four of them waited anxiously in the waiting area for news. Ice and O'Connor had followed in the Explorer.

Ice snapped. "I'm going to find out what's going on, we've been here for hours!"

Chrissy soothed him down. "I'm sure they'll give us the rundown in a minute. Wait, Ice."

"The waiting is making me crazy. I'm gonna get a coffee." He left.

Two minutes later, Dr Quincy walked in. Followed very slowly, by a bruised and battered Alphonse. The big man was on crutches, left ankle heavily bandaged. Quincy looked even more out of sorts than usual.

"What's the lowdown, Doc!" Charlie took in his beat up friend.

"Much what you would expect from trying to jump a fifteen foot space, slamming into a concrete surface, then falling three floors into a dumpster." Sarcasm dripped from the old doctor's voice. "Mr Royo has several nasty cuts, bruised ribs, which I might add he's very lucky is not a great deal worse, and a badly bruised ankle, which has the added problem of torn ligaments."

Turning to his patient, the old doctor cleared his throat, an expression of revulsion crossed his face as he got a whiff. "Mr Royo, next time you wish to emulate the movies, please go the whole hog AND GET A CRASH MAT UNDERNEATH!!" the older man's voice raised, Alphonse winced. "Hospitals are for sick people, not the terminally stupid! Jumping from one building to another, hmmmpp! Ridiculous!! Now, since you've managed to do yourself considerable damage, pay close attention to what I am telling you. Stay off that ankle, rest, elevation, ice packs. No running around." The doctor paused for breath. "And,…. I recommend you have a bath and a change of clothing."

Ice returned in time to catch the tail end of that piece of advice. As he'd travelled in the Explorer with O'Connor, he didn't quite get what Quincy was talking about.

"You okay, man!" His anxious eyes sought out his injured partner.

"Yeah, I guess." The big man was subdued.

Ice moved in closer and got the full benefit of the smell. "Dammit, what's the hell is that!"

"That, Mr Gregory, is the full-bodied perfume of rotting garbage. Which is what you get when you fall into a dumpster that hasn't been emptied for several weeks." The old doctor gave him a sour smile.

His partner's apologetic blue eyes looked beseechingly up at him.

"Dammit, do we have to take him home like that!" Ice waved his hand frantically in front of his face. "We'll have to fumigate!"

"No kidding, I thought the paramedics were gonna throw up!" Charlie added his voice to the general melee.

Chrissy took pity on her loveable rogue. "Alphonse, don't mind them, come on, let's get you home." She moved closer to help him to his feet and sort the crutches out. Bravely maintaining her smile, when she got a full blast.

They wound all the windows down, and everyone moved as far from Alphonse as possible. Even the dogs didn't look too happy. The big man was miserable, it wasn't his fault. The traffic was heavy and it took thirty minutes to reach the loft. The conditions in the Explorer were atrocious, Charlie was nearly scarlet with trying not to breathe.

Everybody virtually fell out of the Explorer! Ice and Charlie looked at their beat up partner. Alphonse struggled with the crutches and an ankle which he couldn't bear weight on. The two ex cons looked at the stairs, and their big, malodorous friend standing on the sidewalk on one leg, and sighed. This is gonna be a bitch.

Alphonse looked at the stairs in dismay, "Guys, I can't make the stairs on my own!"

"Yeah, we know." Ice warmed up his sense of irony.

Five minutes later, they made it. With a lot of help from Chrissy and O'Connor.

Ice firmly steered Alphonse in the direction of the shower.

"Man, you stink!!"

Alphonse pulled the most hurt, miserable expression he could muster. "I know, but it wasn't my fault!" He limped slowly into the bathroom, playing his painful ankle for all it was worth.

Alphonse settled down on the couch. After a deep down scrub, which had been quite painful over his abused body, and clean clothes, the others were inclined to be much more sympathetic. The dogs moved in. Two noses rested on his lap. He glared at them.

"It was your fault!"

They stared up at him, and wagged their tails.

"Yeah, your fault. Very funny!" He gave in and patted both of them. Then winced when Charlie raised his ankle onto a couple of pillows.

"Hey, watch it. That hurts."

"Does it! Good."

"Thanks for the sympathy!"

"What sympathy. That was the dumbest thing you've ever pulled. Only an idiot would try to jump that gap. And while we're on the subject, what happened to the plan!!"

"What plan? Oh, that was a plan??"

"Just once the screw up on the team should follow the plan, then maybe we'd make the arrest!"

They glared at each other.

Chrissy appeared, "Guys, calm down." She carefully placed the ice pack she was carrying round Alphonse's ankle. "Is that better?"

"No, not really." The big man huffed irritably.

Chrissy pulled Charlie away, "Charlie, back off a little okay. He's hurting." Charlie hissed under his breath.

"He could have killed himself! He scared the shit out of me, and Ice. He's bruised his ribs and bust his ankle up, and you think he should get away with that." The computer expert was upset. He'd nearly died of fright when his friend had fallen. It was only by a miracle that the dumpster was there. For one horrible, scary minute, Charlie had thought that Alphonse had broken his neck, when he realised that his friend was still relatively in one piece the relief had been too much, Charlie lashed out furiously. He'd given the big idiot a pithy twenty minute lecture on his stupidity and hadn't repeated himself once.

Alphonse was dozing. Providing he didn't move a muscle, his ribs and ankle didn't hurt, or not much, he could always pretend they didn't. The other two were still mad at him, so the big man was miserable and determined to hide his hurt.

There was a knock at the door. Charlie opened it, Chrissy stood there with a Chinese take out. The boys brightened up a bit. Maybe this was a way to cheer Alphonse up! Chrissy left them opening packages and moved over to sit next to him.

"Alphonse!" she sat next to him on the edge of the couch. The big blue eyes opened, and she caught her breath at the hurt she could see in his expression. Impulsively, she held out her arms, he dived in, burrowing against her. She wrapped her arms round him and hugged him gently.

Easing back, she smoothed the thick floppy, blond-brown hair off his forehead, "Y'know, they're only mad at you because they're frightened."

A slightly impish glint flickered in the depths of the blue eyes. "Yeah, but it was me that got hurt!" She looked closer. Oh, I get it, payback time!! She eased a little further away, and frowned at her graceless, loveable rogue.

The boys set up the Chinese so that Alphonse wouldn't have to get up from the couch. Chrissy took the opportunity to sidle up to Ice, and make enquiries about Alphonse. The smooth talking leader looked at her sideways, when she lost herself in a morass of confusion.

"He's treating us to the silent, hurt routine. He knows we're worried and he also knows that we know what he's up to. We're ex cons for heaven's sake, lying is one of the things we do best."

Chrissy frowned in disbelief. "What is this macho crap! Alphonse fell off a building, and now the three of you are playing this weird routine which is all about preventing the other guy finding out that you care!" She shook her head. "There are times when I really wonder whether any of you are entirely all there." She tapped the side of her head. "Crazy!"

Charlie stopped dishing up take out onto four plates for a moment. "Yeah, otherwise why else would we be doing this in the first place." He checked the share out. "'Phonse, stop trying for the sympathy vote for five seconds will'ya, which do y'want?"

Alphonse stopped hamming it up. Food…….now that was a serious matter. His stomach rumbled.

For the next twenty minutes there was no sound, but contented munching. Food had a beneficial and calming effect. Ice put his plate down and sighed, relaxing back into the chair.

Charlie pushed himself reluctantly to his feet. "Coffee anyone!" Mumbled assent from the relaxed trio.

Charlie made the coffee and brought it over, handing out to the other three. When he leaned over Alphonse to give him his coffee, the computer expert paused. "Y'know you gave us quite a fright back there." Quietly so the others wouldn't hear. Alphonse looked up at his long time friend and partner. "Okay, I guess it was kinda dumb!" A look of understanding passed between them.

Chrissy sighed. If it took a thousand years, she never get to understand this macho crap.