6) The Wall Brood
"Do you ever go home?"
Adam almost couldn't pull himself out of the fog of sleep. The entire shift had been nothing but running across the five Burroughs. And what was it mostly for? To collect evidence and bring it back – a damned courier job.
"Whah?" Adam muttered.
"I asked do you ever go home? I find you sleeping here more often than not, and it's gotten worse the last few weeks."
Adam blinked. He could make out the person standing next to the sofa, even knew the voice, but his brain was still steeped in sleep fog to make an immediate connection.
"I…" A yawn cut off his response. He pulled the pillow over his head. "Ten more minutes. Just ten more."
The person chuckled, a warm friendly chuckle.
"I did that when I was a kid. Saturdays were the worse."
Adam peeked out from under the pillow at Mac's smile. He liked smiling Mac the most. And it was impossible not to reflect it.
"What were those days like?" Adam asked, pushing the pillow back and under his head.
Mac shrugged. "Lazy. Sometimes we went to the zoo, or the museum. During the summer we saw a lot of baseball games. My dad loved baseball." Mac sat down in a nearby chair. He looked at the waterfall – Adam noticed it drew his attention more than anything else in the room, save the rules. "And when school was over for the summer, we'd go to a lake a few times to camp and fish."
Adam smiled. That sounded like a fairy tale.
Mac looked at him. "What was your boyhood like?"
Adam's smile wilted. He sat up and stretched his back.
"I was just taking a nap before my next shift."
"I'm picking up a double for swing. Covering for Jerry. She decided she wanted to spend some time with her husband after all." Adam stood. "Better get going."
Mac nodded. "That's good. Cancer's never a good thing to go alone. But doesn't her shift start at two in the morning? It's only eleven."
"Is it?" He glanced at his watch. "I must have really been out. It feels like I'd been asleep all night."
"Don't let swing give you too many hours, Adam. I need you alert on my team."
"I know. I only promised tonight."
"What are you doing here at this time of night?"
Mac smiled. Adam sank back down onto the couch. There was something in this smile.
"I had a date. It went well."
"Not too well. You're here, and not there. With her."
Mac shot him a look that spoke volumes of his disapproval about that remark.
"I mean… Talking. You're not with her. Talking."
Mac laughed it off. He knew full well that was not what Adam meant, but the date must have been good for him to just laugh it off.
"Is she pretty?"
"How'd you two meet?"
"At a deli. Do you have a girlfriend, Adam?"
"No. I don't… Date much."
"Or talk about your childhood."
Adam looked down.
"Sorry. I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable."
Adam wanted to say it was all right, but it wasn't. He didn't want to talk to anyone about his past. And his present wasn't very interesting to pretty much anyone, especially Mac.
He looked up. Mac was looking at the wall. When Adam didn't answer, Mac looked sidelong at him.
"Is that you? That last one?"
Adam blushed. He didn't have to look to know which one he was asking about.
Mac laughed again. He shook his head. But there was no disapproval in it. Just humor.
"You are as bad as Don and Danny."
"Oh no. I'm not that bad. I don't get in nearly as much trouble as they do."
Mac wagged his head from side to side. "That's true. They're special that way."
Adam laughed a little. Mac used 'special' to mean they sometimes acted as if they had mental disorders. It wasn't like him to use words like that, so he wondered if the man even realized he had done it.
"Let's see… I haven't been down here since… Rule number eighty-three." Mac got up and walked to the other end of the table. He sat down in his usual chair, staring up at the wall.
Adam walked to the other side, pausing at the refrigerator. "Do you want a drink?"
Mac looked at him. He smiled. "Sure. A soda."
"At this time of night, yeah."
"A beer'd help you sleep."
Mac nodded. "Probably, but I still have to drive home."
Adam didn't press it. He picked out two cans, each their favorite, and walked down the table. He handed Mac his and sat down.
"I get so busy I sometimes forget about The Wall. That's a shame, isn't it? Look at all the things I could scold those two for."
Adam smiled. "Yeah. But they have such good stories behind them."
"Do they, now?" Mac looked at him, his smile turning ornery.
Another surprise. An ornery smile? From Mac? To him? That never happened. He'd seen him give Stella it, and even Lindsey, but it was rarely given to any of the men on his team. And certainly not Adam.
"So do I get to hear these stories?"
"I… Don't know that I should."
"It's on the wall. I'm not worried they'll repeat their mistakes. After all, isn't one of the rules of The Wall that you can't repeat the action that provoked it to be written?"
Adam laughed. That was a strange way to word it but yes that was a rule.
"Okay. But you never heard any of this from me."
"Not even if they torture me. Start at eighty-four."
84. When processing any scene of height, there is no need to climb to the top and yell, "I am king of the world." You aren't, and if you were, we wouldn't care. (Inspired by BobbyandLindsay4Ever)
"You were there. You don't remember?" Adam asked.
"No. What don't I remember?"
"That was Danny at the Regent Center. We had that guy found on the roof. Looked like he'd been dropped out of an airplane."
"I remember it. He wasn't. He was a jumper from a nearby building and the wind shear picked him and threw him on the roof."
"Yeah. Seriously? You didn't hear Danny do that? We all did. Stella gave him hell for it."
"Guess I was focused on something else." Mac smiled. "But I would have loved to have seen Stella give him hell for it."
Adam grinned. "It was good. And worse, it was in front of his wife. So when she got done with him—"
"Lindsey finished what parts hadn't been chewed, I bet."
"Yeah. But you know what he did?"
"I can only imagine."
"He stuck his tongue out at both when their backs were turned. He thought no one saw him, but I saw him."
85. Humans will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he or she will pick themself up, and continue on as though nothing has happened.
"Sheldon wrote that."
"I can see that. Why?" Mac asked.
"He was talking to this girl who kept saying she didn't start the fire, didn't start the fire, didn't start the fire, insisted she didn't start the fire in her apartment. He and the fire investigator determined it started in the bathroom but they couldn't tell what started it. There were plenty of things that could have. Well, Sheldon noticed that this curling iron was set to on, and that there were these melted wig heads. So he asks the woman about her hair. She admits, she wears wigs. He asks if she wore one that day. She said no. He asks if she curled her hair. She said she did put one curl in it, for style. He asks if she remembers turning off the curling iron. She gets this glazed look on her face."
"Like a deer in headlights?" Mac asked.
Adam nodded. "Then she says. 'Oh! Someone knocked on my door after I put that curl in. I went to answer it. Did you turn my curling iron off for me?' He swears that for that brief moment, when her face glazed, that she really did know she started the fire. But then, bam, it was gone. Stupidity kicked back in."
Mac laughed. "And the next is his handwriting to. Something different?"
86. The more fantastic the lie the more likely it's true.
"Yes. Flack called him down to the station. Said this guy was caught walking down the street with a box full of purses, iPods, stuff that he shouldn't be walking down the street with. The guy goes into this story, huge story. Great story. Starts with this stranger asking him to hold the box, but then he got hungry, went for a bite, came back, and this other guy comes along and tries to take it. So he fends him off, runs off, and gets stopped by this guy with a talking dog. Dog tells him to take the stuff to the pawnshop so he can give it to the first guy and that's where he was headed when the cops stopped him. Turns out, he broke into some cars and stole the stuff."
"With that imagination, he should get into movies."
87. 'I had to see how long it actually takes,' or 'I was simulating the crime scene to determine the longevity of the microbes that would remain after seven days in darkness' is no excuse for utilizing city and forensic equipment to make moonshine – in the basement – in a janitor closet. (Inspired by Augusta)
"That's your handwriting, Adam."
"That's your handwriting, Adam."
Adam looked away.
"Adam, why is that your handwriting and why don't I know about this?"
"You know… You should make them pay Stella more. She does your job a lot when your busy or backed up or stuff."
"Adam, why is that your handwriting?"
"Well… You see…" Adam stopped.
"No. I don't see. Spit it out."
Adam sighed. "See, there was this moonshine evidence that Lindsey and Danny collected. And, well, we had questions about moonshine. And none of us had ever—"
"None of whom? Who was all involved here?"
"Well… Stella and Lindsey weren't. At all. Or slightly. That's something, isn't it?"
"You, Danny, and Don. I should have—"
"And Sheldon. And two janitors. We sort of had to have them involved. They wouldn't let us set it up if we didn't. But I swear to you, Mac, we were doing it for the evidence. Well… We were. The janitors, it turns out, were doing it for the money. That's how the whole thing blew up. Patrol caught them selling to three minors, one thin led to another, they gave away the still. Our experiment was ruined."
"In a janitor's closet? Why?"
"Cuz that's where the still was in the house that blew up."
"A still blew a house up?"
"No. The meth lab blew the house up. That's what we were able to determine from the data we did get."
"But until then you didn't know that?"
"Uhm… No. You said we couldn't get in trouble if it was written on the wall."
"You're not in trouble. I'm just enjoying scolding you because you're the only one here to scold."
"Uhm…" Adam blinked. "Is that… I don't know where to go with that, Mac."
"Back to the how you knew it wouldn't blow up before then?"
"One of the janitor's uncle told us they were safe and even sent us his schematics for his still."
"This uncle is running a still and Don didn't arrest him?"
"He's out of our jurisdiction. Way out of our jurisdiction. He lives in Virginia."
Mac let his head fall back, but he laughed. "Oh my God! You are all lucky you aren't fired."
"The janitors are fired."
"That because they sold it, Adam. But you four should be ashamed you even tried it without telling anyone."
"We learned a lot. Just think of it this way – somewhere down the road, a case with another still will come up, and we'll already know everything there is to know and then some."
Mac looked at him with narrowed eyes. "And then some?"
Adam made a face. "You have to have a steel gut and no taste buds to drink moonshine. It's nasty! Tastes like rubbing alcohol. And that was just the teaspoon we all tried just to see. It's total gut rot! I would never, ever want to do it again."
"Good! Now that's out of the way, I can laugh about it."
88. All clergy must be presumed guilty until proven innocent.
"Oh. Yeah. That's Sid. He kept telling Flack not to trust this priest that kept coming to see the body of this dead guy. Turns out, he was right. Guy killed him because he was gay. Stupid, really."
"Yeah." Mac nodded. "That's a very illogical reason to kill anyone.
89. You are not allowed to impose a surcharge on disruptive or brusque suspects.
90. It is bad to retort to an unruly reporter, "I'm not the girl your mother warned you about. Her imagination was never this good."
"Did Danny do those?"
"No," Adam answered. A huge grin creased his lips.
"Sheldon? Or you?"
Mac stared at the writing. He looked at Adam. "Lindsey?"
He nodded again.
Mac wilted a little. He scrubbed his fingers over his forehead.
"I never thought she'd succumb to you boys and your pranks."
"Come on, Mac! You've seen her after hours. She's got more spunk than all of us combined. And the things she'll do! I don't think she knows what fear is."
"She does. She just ignores it. But a surcharge?"
"Stella scolded her for it and we all laughed when she told the reporter that. You were gone for a couple days, so Sinclair had a talk with Stella. She told us she told him she'd talk to Lindsey."
"She told us?"
"Yeah. We were at lunch. She told us."
"With Lindsey there?"
"And then what happened?"
"They started talking about their shopping plans for Saturday."
"Mac chuckled and shook his head.
91. I will not threaten to pour Menthos and diet cola down an uncooperative suspect's throat. (Submitted by DustBunnyQueen)
92. When dealing with a person who has multiple personalities, we do not ask an alter to come back because it was 'more cooperative and in a better mood.'
"Don?" Mac asked.
"I didn't hear about this, either."
"This is one of those you aren't his boss, but his boss did and he didn't appreciate it. At all."
"No. He doesn't have much of a sense of humor."
"Does he have any sense of humor?"
Mac opened his mouth to answer. He closed it. Thought about it. Then changed the subject.
93. I am not a precognitive. I will not claim to have seen the crime scene before I've seen the crime scene.
"I don't want to know."
94. I will not admit there is a whodunit betting pool anywhere in the building. (Submitted by VessaMorana)
"There's a whodunit pool?"
"I know nothing about it."
"So you do know something about it?"
"I presume that I know nothing about a whodunit pool. Especially since there's a rule stating I can't admit it."
"Who would have admitted it if there was one?"
"Well, not saying that there is such a pool, as that would be unethical, but if there was, than any and all parties involved in that pool, would probably have asked Sheldon to withdraw his bet when he may or may not have accidentally told Sid, who told Stella, who mentioned it to Sinclair, that he may or may not have lost the whodunit pool that may or may not have been run two weeks ago tomorrow. Saying, of course, there was such a thing as a whodunit pool, which I'm of course not saying that there is."
Mac stared at him. Adam stared back, not a hint of smile on his face. Mac sighed.
"Adam, did you always want to be a lab tech or CSI?"
"I… Well… I decided to do it six years ago."
"Did you? What intrigued you?"
"So you like hard science or probability?"
"They're equally interesting."
"You seem to do a lot with probability when we have technology involved."
"Yeah. Well, probability allows for seeming artificial intelligence."
"When is the next whodunit pool?"
"Thursday." Adam paused and then blurted, "Oh, daaamn!"
Mac smiled. Adam leaned forward and tapped his forehead on the table.
"They are going to ban me! Ban me! Ban me!" Adam told the table.
Mac laughed. "They aren't going to ban you."
He looked up. "They aren't?"
"I don't care if there's a pool. Just as long as that's the last time I hear about it."
Adam sat up. "Really?"
"Adam." Mac pointed at the rules.
95. The more ridiculous a belief system, the higher the probability of its success.
"Vampire cult?" Mac asked.
"Dead on, Mac."
96. When all else fails, follow instructions.
"Who," Mac began, "and what is that about?"
"Stella plus a new smart phone equals lots of words in Greek I probably don't want to have interpreted."
Mac laughed. "Probably not."
"But you want to know what's worse?"
"Stella plus a TIVO."
"Much worse. She was cussing when she called. She was cussing when I got there. She was cussing when I left. In Greek. So I actually don't know if she was cussing, but the tone sounded like it.
"She was cussing."
97. Mannequins are not humans; therefore, you do not need to give them the front passenger seat on the ride back to the lab.
"Flack returns!" Adam said, lifting his arms in victory.
Mac stared at him. Adam put his arms down. He smiled. Mac returned that.
"He has a thing for mannequins, I think," Adam said.
"He does. He says they remind him of Barbies."
"Barbies?" Adam asked. "That sounds… Odd."
"It's not, really. He told me that when he was younger, and his sister made him play with her, he would pull off the heads or limbs and tell her that they had to be buried now because they were dead. He says the two houses they grew up in have hundreds of Barbies buried around them. But it got him out of playing Barbies. Now, he laughs when he sees mannequins because they remind him of all the Barbies buried at his childhood houses."
Adam laughed. "Greg used to do that to this cousin of ours, except with her horses. He'd break the legs, tell her that when a horse broke his leg, it had to be shot and buried. So we'd paint red dots on the foreheads with nail polish and go bury them."
"Did you get in a lot of trouble?"
Adam almost lost his smile. "Well… Not at his house. Not when he was around at mine."
Mac tilted his head a little. "But you did when it was just you?"
Adam drank some of his soda. He pointed up at the next rule.
98. Not all crazy, homeless women are named Delta Dawn.
99. We do not refer to dancing homeless men in detox as Mr. Bojangles.
"Lindsey's roots came out with those two."
"Yeah. She said back in Bozeman, when they pulled in those types of people, and they didn't know who they were, that's the temporary names they'd give them. That's how they can quickly tell the dead Jane and Johns from the boozed up ones in their computers. So she just brought it here. But Flack's supervisor gets really offended when she calls them that. She says she'll probably still do it because it's habit, but Flack promised to make sure she didn't when his boss was around."
"I've never heard her call a homeless man or woman that."
"It surprised me when I did. I know the song Mr. Bojangles, but not the other. And when I listened to both of them, I still don't get what upset him about it."
"Me neither. I think it's nice that they have names like that for them. It gives them an identity until they can figure out who they are. Jane and John Doe just make me think of dead people."
Adam looked at his soda can. "I never knew that."
"Now that… I remember, Adam. All too well."
100. I will not sing all the naughty bits of "I'm On A Boat!" while processing a boat.
"That wasn't me."
"You took part."
"I didn't sing any naughty parts! I censored my version of it."
"You three were singing it on the prow, Adam. How can telling me you censored it make it any less offensive?"
Adam looked down. "But… The song is funny."
"Funny or not, you three were singing it on the prow at the top of your lungs."
"It was really noisy out there on the river."
Mac closed his eyes. "You know, I always thought I'd wait to have children some day. I did. I was never in a hurry. But you know what, Adam?"
Mac looked at him. "I have you, Danny, and Don. I don't need children. I have you three."
Adam thought a moment, then threw his arms open. "We love ya, Dad!"
Mac waved him off. "I don't think so."
"You said it!" Adam pointed at him. "You. Said. It."
"Don't make me regret it, Adam."
"You said it!"
"I'm regretting it, Adam."
Adam let out a loud laugh of victory. Mac just sipped his soda, watching him with a smile that didn't move his mouth, but crinkled the crow's feet around his eyes. Adam puffed out his chest.
"I will have to tell them about this. That you finally, after all this time, admitted your role in our lives."
"Don't you dare."
"I will. I will."
"Adam, I'm really regretting it now."
Adam slouched back in his chair with a smile. "Fine. Okay. I'll say nothing."
101. I will not taunt another lab rat or CSI by saying 'there ain't no junk in that trunk' after catching them staring a hot suspect's arse. (Inspired by the . blue . power . ranger . x)
"Oh. That's Flack to Sheldon. Sheldon looked about ready to pop him one for that.
"He didn't, did he?"
"No. Just about. But what he did do is grab Flack's ear and drag him outside. I didn't hear what they said, but it was loud enough we knew they were arguing. When they came in, they started speaking through me. Like two little kids. But I kept getting the messages messed up – on purpose! They finally started talking to each other and then everything was over. It was there and gone. And Flack later told me he thought she was pretty hot too."
102. Due to the highly superstitious nature that has resulted in nefarious and misfortunate circumstance, the following phrases are henceforth banned from being uttered at, close to, in the neighborhood of, on the way to, or on the way from, a crime scene: "How bad could it be?" "Nothing else can go wrong now." "We've seen the worst of it." "It's been such a quiet/slow/peaceful/uneventful shift/day." "The suspect is mostly harmless." "Where exactly could she hide a weapon? She's naked." "We'll have enough luminal." "Nothing like a quiet drive in the country." "Oh! Look at the cute puppy." "We should take the Hazmat suits out so we have more room back here." "Hey. What do ya think this does?" or "What could possibly go wrong?" (Inspired by Augusta)
"Stella wrote that for all occasions. She says she hopes it covers everything, but if not, she'll just write an addendum somewhere."
"You guys don't really think saying all that actually jinxes your shifts or crime scenes, do you?
"Can you prove it doesn't?"
Mac started to retort. He couldn't. He had no proof. "Skipping ahead, can you tell me exact times that those phrases allegedly caused problems?"
"Okay. But it's going to take some time."
"I have all night. Shoot."
" Here we go. Now 'How bad could it be?' 'Nothing else can go wrong now.' 'We've seen the worst of it.' 'It's been such a quite/slow/peaceful/uneventful shift/day.' 'What could possibly go wrong?' and 'Hey. What do ya think this does?' are all pretty generic wordages, said most days, and most frequently causing us problems. But the others, now they have some very unique situations that they stemmed from. Starting with 'The suspect is mostly harmless' Flack told that to Danny as this guy accused of murdering this woman is sitting in the back of his car. Just sitting there, looks like he's gone to fairyland. So I ask if he's okay to process for GSR. That's what Flack tells me about the guy. I go over, get ready to test his hands, pick one up. The next thing I know, I'm in the emergency room with a concussion, Danny's got a bite on his arm, Flack's been stabbed in the hip, and the guy had escaped. We blame Flack for that one."
Adam continued. "Again, Flack, tells Danny, 'Where exactly could she hide a weapon? She's naked.' Danny gave him this look. Clearly he's remembering our last bad phrase and where he ended up – he had to get a whole barrage of shots cuz a human bit him. Anyway, he tells Flack if he's so sure she's harmless, he needs to go examine her for trauma. Flack goes over and must of got to close or something. The officers swear he never touched her, even if to this day he can't remember what happened. One minute he's there talking to her, that we all see. The next minutes she's using all these Jujitsu moves and beating the crap out of him. They had to tazer her. And that's the day we learned that weapons, don't necessarily have to be another part of your body. Apparently, in New York, when you reach black belt in martial arts, you have to register you body as a weapon. She was."
Mac shook his head. "And she just went off? No warning?"
"None. I'm sure they're having fun with her wherever they're hiding her away at. So the next one is Lindsey on her second week on the job. Danny told me this story. They're called to a homicide; dispatch tells them a chainsaw was used to kill a family of four. Danny says they should get more luminal, Lindsey tells him 'We'll have enough luminal.' They get to the crime scene. It's a blood bath. Blood in places you probably wouldn't imagine. They photographed, and then start using luminal. There is blood from other murders there. And by the time they got done, and four trips to the lab and back, they'd gone through nearly a gallon of luminal to cover the entire town home. It was brutal. Danny was on the verge of firing her himself for that. The next two are also a Lindsey-and-Danny-at-their-finest-moments. Really. Do you need me to tell you the stories behind 'Nothing like a quiet drive in the country' or 'Oh! Look at the cute puppy'?"
"No. No. My imagination fills in the blanks with those two.
"So the last one is Stella, to me, when we were cleaning out her Denali."
"Oh really? Now this one I haven't heard."
"No. You wouldn't. Because she made me swear secrecy. She wouldn't even tell the others about it. But since it's you, I don't mind. We were cleaning it out two months ago. And she says, 'I've been carrying these damned things around for a year and never needed them. We should take out the Hazmat suits so we have more room back here for more equipment.' I tell her that's probably not a good idea. She never knows where a crime scene will take her. She insists, and you know what she's like when she's made up her mind."
"So we took them out. That afternoon we're called to a laboratory. Where they make flu vaccines. Where the suspect was killed in a lab with a live flu virus. And where we needed HAZMAT suits. I wouldn't go in. Refused. She gave me a hard time and went in. Now you know why she was out with the flu."
Mac laughed. "No wonder she was more grumpy than normal about it."
"Hindsight. Looks great in the rearview."
"I see we're putting a stop, finally, to this one."
103. Addendum: Toes and fingers are also considered severed appendages, are not considered suspects, and do not need to be read Miranda rights.
"Yeah, but it always amused me when Flack and Danny read them their rights."
"Amusing and professional are rarely bedmates, Adam."
"Yeah, but doesn't fun on the job overrule professionalism."
"I credit you for attempting a compromise, but not what you did to the gold bars."
104. It is bad to lick, sniff, snort, caress, fondle, or otherwise molest bars of gold in, around, near, or in close proximity to my co-workers and/or bank personnel.
"Tungsten bars," Adam corrected.
"Not all those bars in that vault were tungsten. Sheldon told me how you man-handled those bars."
"But I'd never been around so much pretty, shiny, beautiful gold in one place. It was… A light at the end of the tunnel. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It was like opening a room full of dayshine and moonglow."
"What the hell is dayshine?"
"Oh. That's sunlight. But, well, it's bright. Er."
Mac stared at him.
"You really need to watch more movies."
"I'm happy with the amount I watch."
"Okay." Adam looked at his watch. "Oh! I gotta get to work." He jumped up, heading for the door.
He stopped and turned.
"This was fun. Thanks for sticking around. And I'm sorry. I forget sometimes that you don't really like to discuss your past."
Adam turned and opened the door. He stepped out into the hall and stopped. He turned and opened the door. Mac was still in his chair.
"If I could go back to my childhood and change one thing, Mac, any one thing. I'd change dad's. I'd wish you'd been him."
He shut the door before Mac replied. He didn't want to hear a reply. He wanted to just pretend that anything Mac said was good and that there wasn't a disapproving look following it. He hurried to the elevator, glancing back, hoping Mac wouldn't decide to leave before he was gone. The elevator arrived and he stepped on, tapping the button repeatedly to get it to close.
The door shut before he could reply. Mac stared at the door, then smiled.
"Well, door, since he didn't wait around, I'll tell you. If I could grant you that wish, Adam, I wouldn't. Then I wouldn't get the honor of being your boss. You're a good man. Better than you're father ever was."
The door was silently neutral about the conversation. Mac just smiled, looking up at the rules. Yesterday had been good day. A very good day. Today was looking promising too.