Detective Joe Mitchell was not in a good mood. Well, truth be told – it went far beyond not being in a good mood. More like extremely, royally, totally pissed off. Yeah, that seemed like a much more accurate description of his current disposition. Pissed…very pissed. He shuffled the papers on his desk, his mood growing darker by the moment. As if things weren't bad enough… First Captain Murphy gives him four weeks of desk duty. FOUR weeks! Okay, maybe he had gotten a little carried away with his last case, but shit…he wasn't nearly as quick to pull his gun as SOME of the detectives around here. Yet here he was – the one whose ass was stuck in the squad room. Then to make matters even worse, he had to do all the paperwork for the latest pet project for the LAPD. All of the different divisions were taking in the recent graduates from the police academy and letting them sit in with a detective team for a week. God, the upper brass really came up with some stupid ideas. The chances that most of these rookie patrol officers even had the sense to one day make detective were probably pretty slim. Why have them hanging around Robbery/Homicide, irritating everyone else trying to work? But the powers-that-be certainly never conferred with the men on the street when it came to these things, and now Mitchell was the one having to coordinate the whole damn thing. He had decided Captain Murphy was a sadistic SOB. Murphy knew perfectly well that Mitchell had zero tolerance for the new recruits when they came aboard and these shit-heads were still completely wet behind the ears. He grumbled under his breath again.
"What did you say?"
Mitchell looked up at his equally pissed off, desk-bound partner, Rick Garcia. He waved the question away. "Nothing, nothing. When is the next damn group coming through anyway?"
Garcia looked at his watch. "Right about now." As if on cue, a group of uniformed patrol officers materialized from around the corner. They filed in silently as the detectives they were going to be teamed up began slowly filtering into the room as well. The detectives huddled together, speaking quietly amongst themselves; most of them looking like they would rather be anyplace but here. Needless to say, the majority of them felt the same way that Mitchell did about this particular project. They all stood around as Mitchell flipped through the roster, giving each one their assignments. "Jenkins, you're with Powers and Scopilli; Palmer—Lopez and Sampson; Miller—Walker and Bradley…" He droned on for ten minutes, not bothering to look up from his papers except to hand them their ID's and scowl. "Anderson…" He ran a finger down the page, stopping suddenly, a grin coming to his face. "Hey, Rick," he snickered, "Anderson here is the lucky one assigned to Riggs and Murtaugh." Garcia and Mitchell both dissolved into laughter, their hoots ringing through the conference room.
The young man's eyes grew nervous as they darted back and forth between the two detectives. He swallowed hard, a hand running through his sandy blond hair. "Wha-what's wrong with Riggs and Murtaugh?" he stammered. Mitchell and Garcia ignored him for the moment, too busy still enjoying whatever it was they found so amusing. Finally, Mitchell gave a big sigh, wiping the tears from his eyes as Garcia continued to giggle to himself.
"Ah, kid, nothing's wrong with Murtaugh, but Riggs…" His voice trailed off as he glanced at his partner. "Let's just say you damn well better remember to pick up your required Kevlar."
Grinning, Garcia circled an index finger by his temple. "Total whack job," he replied.
Mitchell slapped a hand down on the desk, laughing again. "Hey, remember the last time Riggs got reprimanded?"
"How can I forget? Drove Murtaugh's car right through that strip mall…damn near killed the suspect they were chasing. "
Mitchell snorted derisively, rolling his eyes. "Shit, Riggs thinks he's still crawling around in the jungle." The two of them began howling with laughter again while the poor patrolman stood there, his expression growing more panicky by the minute.
Mitchell suddenly realized that his partner's laughter had come to an abrupt end. Looking up, his own chuckles faded at the sight of Roger Murtaugh filling the doorframe, arms crossed over his chest. By the murderous glare in his eyes, Mitchell guessed he'd been standing there awhile. He stiffened in his chair, returning the stare defiantly, his mouth thinning. Grabbing Anderson's temporary ID, he slapped it into his hand, then gave a hard jerk of his head in Murtaugh's direction. "There's one of your partners," he growled. Anderson pivoted around on his heels, his resolve growing weaker at the sight of the physically intimidating figure glowering before him. By the fury etched in the man's face, he figured this to be Sergeant Riggs. Murtaugh stared past Anderson, his eyes still focused on Mitchell. It was all he could do to contain his anger. Much of the department did think Riggs was a whack job but Mitchell had always been one of the most vocal. Murtaugh knew that Riggs and Mitchell had worked together years ago in vice. It was his guess that something had happened between the two of them but Roger had never pressed for details. And of course, Riggs never volunteered any.
But to already start poisoning the minds of the new officers against a detective with his crap was inexcusable. He stepped into the room and leaned over the desk, his nose inches from Mitchell's. "We WILL discuss this later," he said in a whisper. Then straightening up, he touched Anderson's arm. "Come on, kid. Let's go." The two of them strode down the hallway, Roger ramrod straight, his eyes still glaring.
Anderson ran along side of him, his own expression worried. "Excuse me…" No response. "Excuse me," Anderson repeated, a bit louder this time. Roger turned his head, his thoughts still elsewhere. He came to a sudden stop, Anderson crashing into him. "Oh, God, I'm sorry, sir!" The young man turned red, jamming his hands into his back pockets.
Roger relaxed, a small smile coming to his face. "It's okay. What did you need?"
Anderson looked up from the floor. "My vest. I'm required to wear a vest."
"Oh, right. Let's go check one out for you. What's your name?"
"Greg Anderson." He suddenly straightened up, his demeanor turning serious. For a brief moment, Roger was afraid the boy was gonna salute him.
Roger sighed quietly, thrusting his hand out to shake Greg's. "I'm Sergeant Roger Murtaugh."
A confused look came to Greg's face. "Sergeant Murtaugh? I thought…" His voice trailed off.
"You thought what?"
"Oh, nothing." Greg chewed on his bottom lip. This detective was frightening enough. And he was the sane one? What in God's name would Riggs be like? Greg's spine felt like a column of ice as he followed Murtaugh down the hall.
After what seemed to be many twists and turns, they finally entered into another squad room. This place was huge and Greg already felt hopelessly lost. The squad room was filled with twelve desks, all but two of them empty. At one a pudgy man dressed in an ill-fitted suit was busy pecking away on a computer. He didn't look up, frowning in concentration at the screen, one hand constantly tugging on his necktie. At the other desk sat a younger man, engrossed in a conversation over the phone. He was shaggy haired, his uniform a pair of jeans and a faded grey shirt that had obviously never seen an iron in all of its long life. Greg decided one didn't have to be a detective to figure out that this had to be Riggs. Still on the phone, the man turned around as they entered the room, his piercing blue eyes quickly taking in Greg. He glanced over at Roger, a questioning frown clouding his face, then returned his attention to the phone call. Roger went over to the desk beside Riggs, motioning for the other man to take a seat. His conversation finished, the other detective turned around to face them just as Greg sat down. Once again, he felt that intense gaze examine him.
"Hey, Rog. You finally ask for a new partner?"
Roger didn't bother looking up from the stack of papers he was thumbing through. "Riggs, what did we just talk about this morning?"
"I don't know. It was early." Martin frowned, one hand running through his long hair. "There was still too much blood in my coffee stream."
Heaving a sigh, Roger looked up, one hand gesturing to Greg. "This is Greg Anderson, one of LAPD's new officers. He's gonna be with us for a week."
Riggs's expression lightened up as he stood. "Oh, yeah." He extended his hand. "Sergeant Martin Riggs." Greg jumped to his feet. "Hello, Sergeant Riggs, sir."
One of Martin's brows arched up. "Relax there, Greg."
"Uh, yes sir." Greg sat back down but his wary eyes stared at Martin nervously. Riggs made a mental note of this but rather than pursue it any farther, he leaned over, yanking open his top desk drawer. His lips set into a thin line as his hand pushed junk from one side to the other. Roger looked up, watching as his partner searched one drawer after another. A satisfied grin crossed his face.
"Hey, Riggs, if you're looking for that pack of cigarettes you had hidden, you might as well stop." Riggs jerked his head up, eyes narrowing. Roger looked over at Greg. "He's quitting smoking."
"I've changed my mind," Riggs muttered ominously, a frown creasing his face. Greg shifted in his chair. Now of all times would be when he was trying to quit? Could his luck get any worse?
"What'd ya mean you've changed your mind?!" thundered Roger. The two of them began to argue loudly as Greg looked nervously over at the guy on the computer. He didn't even bother turning around. Then without warning, Riggs suddenly dropped to his knees and crawled under his desk. Greg leaned forward in his chair, his eyes widening in both curiosity and fear. What was it Mitchell had said about crawling around in the jungle? Oh, to be in the safe confines of the academy again. Even Roger paused in mid-yell, bending over the top of the desk, staring at Martin's boots poking out from underneath.
"AH-HA!" Riggs yelled triumphantly, leaping to his feet, brandishing a pack of Marlboro Reds in one hand.
"Riggs! You son-of-a-bitch!" Roger threw the papers he was holding down. "I can't believe you. You had a secret pack taped underneath the damn desk?!"
Riggs snickered as he knocked a smoke out. "Believe me, Rog," he said, "I am always prepared. The Boy Scouts got nothing on me." Ignoring the "No Smoking" signs posted everywhere, Riggs lit the cigarette, sucking in the nicotine greedily. "Oh, yes…all is right with the world again." He gave a satisfied grin and blew a large smoke ring in his partner's direction. Roger frowned in disgust, shaking his head as he sat back down. "Hey! Hey!" Riggs continued." Up and at 'em. No time to be sitting on our butts!"
Roger looked up wearily. "What are you talking about?"
"Remember I was on the phone? We've got a case."
"Well, shit. Why didn't you say that in the first place." Roger got up; motioning to Greg who rose to his feet, face still worried.
"A case already?" He tried to keep the tremble out of his voice.
Riggs shook his head, throwing an arm around the man's shoulders. "Greg, Greg, Greg…there are many things the City of Angels lacks. Fine cultural events, women without breast augmentation, clean air… But if there's one thing we do have, it's homicides."
Greg glanced over his shoulder one last time as Riggs hustled him out of the squad room. His eyes finally made contact with the man who had been working so diligently on his computer. The detective gave him a pitying look, mouthed "Good Luck" silently then returned to his screen. Greg decided this must be how it felt for a lamb being led to slaughter.