Mack had been standing outside the West house for twenty minutes, thinking of what a stupid idea this was. He'd sent Potts back to the station, ostensibly to check in with the lab again. In reality Mack just didn't want his junior partner to witness what was bound to be a really uncomfortable conversation. He needed to ask Cheryl if her reward money had gotten her any results. As of right now his investigation was at square one. He had no suspect, no workable evidence and no hope of catching this offender without help. If there was even the smallest chance he'd find answers here, he was duty-bound to give it a shot. Watching Cheryl march up the walkway to her front door Mack predicted that there was a greater probability of her shooting lasers out of her eyes and disintegrating him, than of her helping him.

"Come to arrest me again, Sergeant?"

Well, as they say, no stone left unturned.

"No, no not today. I mean if we had your resources and could offer $1500 rewards-"

It wasn't as if Mack needed Cheryl's help because she was a better investigator, it was just in this case she had an advantage. What with Cheryl's offering hundreds of dollars and her being a West she was more likely to be privy to certain information.

"I'm just trying to clear my name, since you don't have the brains or the inclination to do it for me."

Mack felt that was a bit unfair, but he let the comment slide as he was more or less here to ask for a favor.

"Well if you do hear anything-"

Mack let the sentence hang in the air, unable to finish the request that seemed more absurd with each passing moment.

"Excuse me?"

Obviously Cheryl thought it was equally insane. Still Mack tried to make a go of it. After all, it seemed, for the moment at least, that they were on the same side of the law.

"Hey, I want to catch this offender too."

Come on, Cheryl. Olive branch, common ground, etc.

"I thought I was the offender."

Mack saw she was still a little miffed about this morning's raid. Or maybe yesterday's arrest. She was surprisingly touchy for someone who has been living with them for the past twenty years or so.

"I like to keep an open mind."

Shouldn't that make her happy, the fact that he was obviously considering other suspects?

"Was that an apology? Don't cops make mistakes?"

If an apology was what Cheryl wanted, Mack couldn't give it to her. There's an investigation and it leads where it leads. In this case it didn't ultimately lead to Cheryl, but that doesn't mean Mack was wrong to investigate her. Before she'd been a perfectly legitimate suspect, and now after he examined the new evidence, she wasn't. That's how the process worked. Mack wasn't about to apologize for that.

"I'm going straight detective, I'm not joining the police force. Solve your own problems, okay?"

Mack walked back to his car thinking of what a huge waste of time his visit had been. What had he been thinking, asking Cheryl West for a favor? Twenty years of antagonism wasn't about to evaporate over night, just because Cheryl had decided to try living on the straight and narrow. It was a strange kind of tight rope Cheryl was walking just now, an honest citizen with a criminal code of honor, not fully trusted by either side of the law. It couldn't last forever. Mack and everyone else could only wait and see which way she'd fall.

The next day Mack received a phone call from Lawrence reporting the return of the toilet paper and withdrawing his former allegations of employee theft. An accounting error was the excuse he'd come up with. Accounting error, right. Before the manager hung up Mack made sure to emphasize to Lawrence that he needed to be more careful regarding future discrepancies in his books. Mack advised the man to triple check next time, because the Palms Springs Police hated to falsely arrest innocent civilians.

By the time Mack finished with the nervous manager he was smiling. He couldn't exactly pinpoint why. His first case of the week had turned out to be a complete waste of time. He was sure to be taken off the second, what with there being no leads, and the items being anonymously returned. What did he have to smile about? Then suddenly he knew. He was happy because Cheryl had won. She'd beaten Lawrence, cleared her name, and she had her job back. Mack was glad the woman he'd seen on the surveillance tapes fighting injustice had prevailed. Cheryl was the unlikely hero of this story, and even though she hadn't helped him catch the real culprit, he still tipped his metaphor hat to her.