Title: Reunion Chapter 1

Fandom: Barney Miller

Author: Sue

Author's Notes: The 12th Precinct reopens!

"You're kidding!" Detective Ron Harris looked up from his typewriter in surprise.

"It's all right here. Read it for yourself. The 12th is reopening. I feel bad for the poor saps who get assigned there. Word is that place is a real toilet!" fellow Detective Jack Rogers said, dropping a piece of paper on his desk.

Harris ignored the other detective and grabbed the memo. When he finished reading, he turned toward the letter of resignation he'd been writing, yanked it out of the typewriter, and tore it up.

"C'mon Major. Lunchtime." Stan Wojciehowicz motioned to his partner, a police trained German Shepherd. For the past six months the twosome had been working together on Roosevelt Island.

"Wojo, hold up! You've got a phone call. Line 2." called Captain Hardaway.

"Thanks."

Wojo walked back to his desk and picked up the phone. "Wojciehowicz."

"Wojo! Have you heard the news?"

"Harris? Hey! What news?"

"The 12th is reopening! Seems that developer went bankrupt midway through things. The city bought the building back and we're back in business! I already applied for my transfer."

"Wow. That's something. Does Barn know?"

"He's a deputy inspector now, Wojo. I don't think he cares."

"Of course he cares! He's Barn!"

Harris laughed. "Yeah, you've got a point there. I'm gonna call Dietrich. What time you off?"

"Six."

"Good. Meet me at Roarke's Tavern, over in the Village, okay?"

"Okay."

Wojo hung up, his mind filling with memories of the old 1-2. For a moment he hesitated, remembering how run down the building had been, but suddenly he jumped to action. The 1-2 was where he belonged.

"Hey, Captain Hardaway, got a minute?"

"...and the boys came marching in..."

Deputy Inspector Barney Miller looked up with a sigh and braced himself.

"Hey Barney-oh, excuse me, Deputy Inspector." Inspector Frank Luger said cheerfully as he entered the tiny office. "Hey! Look here, you've finally got a window that looks out at something!"

"If you can call a dumpster and a parking lot something, yes. What can I do for you, Inspector?"

"Well now, what would you say if I told you the old inspector is retiring for good this time?"

Barney took his glasses off and sat back. "Really? Congratulations, Inspector."

"Yeah well, I decided it's time. Kliner and Foster did it right, I'll tell ya, went out with a bang, ya know Barn? And poor Brownie, rest his soul..." he stopped and took out his handkerchief, "I decided now is the time for the old inspector. The wife you know, she wants to travel and all...anyway Barn, I wanted you to know that I've recommended you as my replacement. I can't think of anyone I'd rather have fill my shoes." He reached over and punched his shoulder.

Barney groaned silently. "Well uh, thank you, Inspector. I'm flattered, really."

"I knew you would be, Barn." Luger stood up, "Oh before I go, can you believe they reopened the ole 1-2? Yep. Seems the whole historical landmark thing went down the toilet. Guess everything old really is new again, eh Barn?"

Barney just nodded, trying to absorb what he'd just heard. The 12th is open again? The 12th...the ole 1-2…MY precinct is open again! That means they'll need a captain! His spirits sank. And I'm a deputy inspector on the train to Lugerville. He sighed and said goodbye to Luger, then reached for the phone and dialed.

"Hey Fish, you free for lunch?"

Barney trudged up the stairs of Fish's Brooklyn walk-up and knocked on the door. A moment later Fish opened it.

"Hi Barney."

"Hey Fish. Sure I'm not intruding?" he asked, following him inside.

"Not at all. Bernice went to get her hair done. I ordered from the Deli around the corner. Should be here any minute. Sit down, sit down!"

"How is Bernice?"

Fish sighed. "Bernice is Bernice, Barney, but I've learned to live with it."

Barney laughed, knowing full well that Fish adored his wife.

"So tell me, is it really true Barney? Is the 12th really back?"

"It certainly is. Got a copy of the memo before I left Manhattan South. Can't believe it myself. How did you find out?"

"Well I may be retired but I still have connections you know."

Barney chuckled. "Boy Fish, those were the days, weren't they? Remember Chano? And Nick...god…you know, I still miss him."

"So do I. I even miss his coffee."

"What? Fish, that man made the worst coffee I've ever tasted!" Barney exclaimed as the doorbell ring.

Fish stood up to answer it. "You've obviously never tasted Bernice's."

Barney laughed as he reached for his wallet. "How much do I owe you?"

"It's on me, Deputy Inspector." Fish waved him off and sat down, handing him one of the wrapped sandwiches he was holding.

"Do me a favor, don't call me that."

"Something wrong? I thought Deputy Inspector was what you've always wanted?"

"So did I. But you know what? It wasn't. I sit in a cramped, messy office and push papers around all day. At least as a Captain I sat in a cramped messy office and did something! I know, I know, maybe I didn't make much of a difference, but it felt so…so much better than this!" Barney crumpled the sandwich wrappers in his fist.

Fish studied him. "Why don't you ask for a demotion?"

"What? I'd have to be crazy? I mean with the pay cut and all, and besides, what would the department think, a deputy inspector asking such a thing? I mean I...I couldn't!" he paused, "Could I?"

"You won't know till you try, Barney."

"Fish, you must have had plenty of opportunity for promotions. Why did you stop at Sergeant?"

"Cause that's where I wanted to be. And where I'd still be if it weren't for that fool retirement age thing! Bunch of nonsense!"

Barney grinned. "I know Fish, I know."

At 6:30 Wojo walked into Roarke's, grinning when he spotted Harris and Dietrich sitting in corner booth.

"Hey Wojo. Punctual as always I see." Harris grinned and held out his hand.

He shook it, smiling sheepishly. "Good to see you guys again."

"I know, it's been too long." Dietrich smiled and offered him a beer.

Wojo hung up his coat and sat down. "How's Washington Heights?"

Dietrich looked at his watch. "Well it was still there when I left."

"How's K-9 Patrol?" Harris asked.

Wojo shrugged. "It's not so bad. Major and I get along good. How's Queens?"

Harris made a face. "Don't ask."

"He loves it." Dietrich teased.

"Listen," Harris leaned forward, ignoring him, "I don't know about you guys, but I put in to be transferred back to the 12th. It won't be the same without Barney, but it's where I want to be. And God, anything's better than Queens!"

"I put in too." Wojo replied, "I feel like that's where I belong, you know? We really had something special there."

"Amen." Harris smiled. "What about you, Arthur?"

"Course I did. You know, rumor has it they have a Mr. Coffee now?"

"Hey! My coffee wasn't so bad!" Wojo protested.

"I know. Nick taught you everything he knew." Harris said, laughing.

"After all this time, I still miss him. And Fish. And Chano. I wonder where he is now?" Wojo asked.

Harris shrugged. "I haven't heard from him since he left to take care of his mother in Miami. I miss his rants."

"Yeah, I think I learned all the Spanish swear words from him." Wojo chuckled.

"Sounds like an interesting guy." Dietrich said.

"He sure was." Harris replied.

"Hey, you still writing?" Wojo reached for the menu.

"No man. Haven't been in the mood, you know. No inspiration. It's like my muse left me."

"Would your muse go by the name the ole 1-2 by any chance?" Dietrich asked.

Before he could answer a voice interrupted.

"Mail Call!"

They looked up and grinned. "LEVITT!"

Sargeant Carl Levitt grinned. "Thought that would get your attention."

"Hey man, good to see you!" Harris exclaimed.

"Yeah, how's Brooklyn?" Wojo added.

Levitt shrugged as he sat down. "Wouldn't know. I was transferred two weeks ago."

Dietrich looked up from the menu. "Really? Where to?"

"The 120th."

"Staten Island?" Wojo exclaimed, "Wow, I thought Roosevelt Island was bad."

"Really? Try Queens." Harris said dryly.

"Listen, I heard about the 12th. Think I have a chance of being reassigned there?"

Wojo nodded. "Probably as good a chance as any of us."

Deitrich agreed. "Of course you do realize there's a chance you could wind up back in uniform."

To their surprise, Levitt shrugged. "I don't mind."

Harris's eyes widened. "Excuse me? This from the same Levitt that did everything short of kissing Barney's feet to get in plainclothes?"

"I know, but...I don't get what it is, but it's just not what I imagined it would be."

"Oh? You were expecting glamour, excitement and good pay?" Dietrich asked.

"No, not that. I guess...I guess what I really wanted was the chance to work with you guys, and by the time I got the chance, it was too late."

Silence fell over the table, then Wojo looked up and grinned.

"Maybe not."

"Harris?"

Ron looked up as Mike Lowell, his captain, called out to him.

"Yes, Captain?"

"Can I see you for a moment?"

Harris walked into the office and sat down, waiting as Captain Lowell closed the door and picked up some papers from his desk.

"These just came for you. There you're transfer papers. As of Monday you're to report to the 12th."

Harris tried to hide his glee. "Thank you Captain."

"It says here you requested the transfer? Mind if I ask why? The 12th is not one of the classier joints in the department, you know."

"I'm aware of that, yes. It's not personal, Captain Lowell. It's just something I had to do."

Lowell sighed. "You're a good cop, Harris. I hate to lose you." he handed over the papers.

"Thank you sir."

He'd barely made it back to his desk when the phone began to ring.

"Detective Harris."

"I got it!" Wojo's excited voice filled the line.

"Hey man me too! Just got the word."

"All right! Have you heard from the others?"

"Not a word. Better keep your fingers crossed."

"I will. I wish Barn was coming back."

"Me too. I so hate having to break in a new Captain. Took me 8 years to get Barney just the way I liked him!"

Wojo chuckled. "Yeah. It's not gonna be the same."

"Hey who knows? Maybe he'll make a habit of stopping by all the time, you know, like Luger used to. Someone's gotta carry on the tradition."

"No, we caught that in time, remember?"

Harris laughed. "See ya Monday, Woge."

Early Monday morning Harris walked into the squad room and looked around.

"Oh my God it really hasn't changed."

Wojo walked out of the men's room in time to hear him.

"They never got past the basement before the guy ran out of money."

"Hey Woge. I'm not surprised," he walked over to the coffee machine, "coffee?"

Wojo tried not to laugh. "That hasn't changed either."

Harris made himself a cup of tea and stood by the captain's office, stirring it. Barney's name was still on the door.

"I wish the Captain would get here. It's gonna take awhile to break him in."

"Morning!" Levitt breezed in and clocked in on the peg board.

"Morning Carl," he smiled as Dietrich walked in behind him, "Arthur."

"Hey. Any coffee on?" Dietrich replied.

"Yes…if you want to call it that." Harris grinned.

Dietrich walked over to the machine and stared at it. "Hey, I thought we'd at least rate a Mr. Coffee by now."

"Look at this place! What that guy spend all his money on?" Levitt exclaimed.

"Who knows?" Wojo looked up at the ceiling. "You know, we gotta be crazy to have come back here. It's too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter, the bathroom's disgusting, the windows don't open..."

"Yeah, but's it's home." Dietrich smiled and took a seat at his old desk. Wojo nodded and sat down at his, his baseball already back in its place.

"Anyone know who the new Captain is?" Dietrich asked.

Just then the door flew open. "Good morning gentlemen-" Lt. Scanlon stopped and stared.

Harris snorted. "Well it was."

"Well well well. Isn't this cozy. Now I know why they sent me here." Scanlon sneered.

"Pardon me, Lieutenant?" Dietrich asked.

"It's Captain now, Dietrich." he looked around at their shocked faces. "That's right. Those fools downtown decided I needed a change. Let's just leave it at that, shall we?"

"You got demoted." Harris said matter of factly, looking like he'd just tasted something vile.

"I prefer to think of it as a change in career focus. I'm now Captain Scanlon, 12th Precinct."

The phone rang.

"12th Precinct, otherwise known as hell. Sergeant Harris speaking." His face lit up.

"Barney! Hello! Oh things are just lovely here. You?"

"Is that Miller?" Scanlon asked. "Well you just tell him this is MY precinct now and it's gonna be run right for a change."

Levitt swallowed hard. "I'm think I'm gonna be sick."

Harris nodded. "Yeah Barn? No, unfortunately you aren't hearing things."

"Let me talk to him!" Scanlon reached for the phone. "Miller? Miller now you listen to me-what's that? The office door?" he turned to look at it and frowned. "As a matter of fact it does, but not for long. What do you mean don't be so sure? Miller? Miller!"

Wojo looked away, trying to hide the smirk on his face as Levitt busied himself with brushing imaginary dust off his desk.

Scanlon slammed the phone down. "He hung up on me! I never did like that Miller. He was too soft. A cop has to be tough. Tough as nails. Now Miller…Miller was all wrong…soft as jello."

"If you're so tough, why'd ya get demoted?" Levitt blurted.

"I told you I was NOT demoted! It was a change in career focus!" Scanlon growled, turning on his heel and storming into the office, slamming the door behind him.

The squad room was silent for a moment. "Classic case of denial." Dietrich said finally. "An inability to accept the truth. He's using anger as a way to compensate for his reduction of authority and projecting his frustrations."

"I coulda told ya that!" Wojo retorted.

"In other words he's ticked off about getting demoted and taking it out on us." Levitt added.

"Didn't I just say that?" Dietrich walked over to the coffee pot and poured himself a cup. "Tastes just like Nick's."

Wojo sat down at his desk and reached for his baseball.

"You guys think maybe we made a mistake?" he asked, staring at it.

Harris shook his head. "Like I said, anything's better than Queens!"

Before anyone else could respond the squad room door swung open.

"MAIL CALL!" called a very pleasant voice.

The detectives looked up in surprise as a young female officer began handing out their mail.

"We have mail already?" Harris exclaimed.

"Your old precincts must have started forwarding your mail right away." She smiled as she handed him a few envelopes.

He smiled back, but before he could say anything Levitt stepped in between them.

"Sergeant Carl Levitt. Anything for me?"

"Hmm…Levitt…let me see…nope, afraid not. And I'm Officer Emily O'Malley." She smiled, her blue grey eyes twinkling. "It's nice to meet you Sergeant. You're a real legend downstairs!"

Levitt blushed deep red and began to stammer. "Well I…um...yeah…I mean.."

"Don't mind him, he's harmless." Dietrich smiled and took his mail. "Thank you."

Wojo watched her from his desk. God she's pretty, he thought, taking in her chestnut hair pulled back in a neat braid and trim yet womanly figure. Sure looks better in that uniform than any of us ever did!

"You're quite welcome. Let's see…Wojciehowicz …"

"Right here!" Wojo sprang to his feet and hurried over, smoothing out his tie. "Uh...hi. Nice to meet you."

"Nice to meet you too. Here you go." Emily looked around at the detectives surrounding her and grinned. "My they grow them tall around here, don't they?"

Levitt puffed out his chest and drew himself up to his full 5'4 inches. "Yep, sure do."

Harris bit his lip to keep from laughing.

"So how did you get assigned here?" Dietrich asked.

"I requested it when I found out it was being reopened. My uncle worked out of here for years. I've heard so many stories about this place, I just couldn't pass up the chance to work here."

"Oh yeah? Who's your uncle?" Wojo asked, unable to take his eyes off her.

Emily laughed. "Oh you know him quite well. In fact Uncle Phil calls you the son he never had."

"Uncle Phil?" Harris's eyes widened. "Fish?"

"The one and only. My mom's his baby sister. He never did quite forgive her for marrying an Irishman." She grinned.

"Have we turned into a social hall?" Scanlon interrupted, bursting out of his office. He stopped in front of Emily and stared down at her.

"Well who do we have here? The new secretary? You're sure a lot prettier than Levitt!"

Emily's eyes flashed. "I'm Officer O'Malley, sir."

He waved her away. "Yes yes, well run along Officer O'Malley and go file something."

She thrust his mail at him. "Here's your mail, Captain. Would you like me to tell you where I think you should put it?"

"Ah, a feisty one. I like that."

Emily turned on her heel and left without a word. Scanlon watched, leering at her.

"I think I'm gonna like it here after all. Gentleman, shall we get to work?"

The detectives grumbled under their breath in reply. Scanlon looked around the room and then headed back into his office. "That's better."

Once the door slammed shut Harris let loose. "Can you believe that man? You'd think all those years in I.A. would have taught him something!"

"Yeah well this is Scanlon we're talking about. What a jerk." Wojo glared at his baseball.

"He's obviously acting out in an attempt to make up for some hidden shortcoming." Dietrich offered. "Classic symptom of insecurity."

"Oh believe me Arthur, ain't nothing about that man's shortcomings that's hidden!" Harris exclaimed.

"She ought to report him," Wojo said suddenly. "That'd get em out of here. She's got plenty of witnesses."

Harris got up and walked over to make himself another cup of tea. "That's up to her, Wojo."

Wojo shook his head "I'd gladly do the paperwork for that one!"

"Harassment in the workplace is vastly under reported. Mostly because of fears of reprisal." Dietrich replied. "In many cases the victim is blamed, or labeled a troublemaker."

"Yeah. It's not easy being a woman police officer, not even in these enlightened times," Harris mused. "Fish's niece. I wonder why he never mentioned her?"

"You know Fish. He never talked much about himself, aside from Bernice," Wojo smiled. "She seems real nice though, huh?"

"Yeah. You know, might be nice, having a woman's touch around here," Harris joked, dunking his teabag.

"Hey what did Barn have to say?" Wojo asked, suddenly remembering the phone call.

"Oh yeah. Well I can tell you he was not pleased to hear that Scanlon's taken over."

"Big surprise. Anything else?"

"Captain Congeniality took the phone away before he could say much more." Harris sighed and walked back to his desk."

Wojo snorted. "Look at it this way; he'll probably give you some great material for your next book."

"Hey that reminds me, did I tell you guys I've started a new book? This one's an erotic thriller. 'Killer Precinct'" Harris looked delighted.

"Congrats. Erotic,huh?" Levitt chuckled.

"Yeah, I thought I'd take my writing in a whole new direction."

"Does that mean it has, you know, dirty parts?" Levitt asked hesitantly.

Harris sighed. "Yes Carl, it has dirty parts."

"Oh? How'd you get your inspiration back?" Wojo asked, grinning.

"Wouldn't you like to know?" Harris said with a smug smile. "A true artist never reveals his muse."

"Why'd you stay on at the department if you're writing again?" Dietrich asked. "Seemed like you were all but ready to hand in your resignation when this place closed."

"I decided to give Queens a shot. But I don't mind telling you I had my letter of resignation all typed up when I heard this place was reopened. How could I not come back? I got my best material from this hellhole!" he smiled.

"You never did tell me who was gonna play me in the move version of Blood on the Badge." Wojo said, fiddling with his typewriter.

"That's because I couldn't decide between Sylvester Stallone and Shemp from the Three Stooges." Harris smiled sweetly.

"Ha ha. Nice to see you sense of humor hasn't changed." he gave up trying to fix his typewriter."I don't suppose we have any typewriter ribbons around here."

"Are you kidding?" Harris looked up as the phone rang, "12th Precinct, Harris. Yeah..when? Got it."

He hung up. "We got a disturbance at the-" he looked at his notes again, "Fill Your Belly Deli on 34th. Where do they come up with these names?"

"Well?" Dietrich stared at him.

"What?"

"Aren't you gonna tell the Captain?"

"Hell no. I'm not going in there. You tell him. C'mon Carl." Harris stood up and went to get his coat.

Dietrich watched them go and then stood up himself, walking toward the Captain's office. "Okay,I'm going in. Cover me Wojo."

Wojo just shook his head.

Barney was slogging through paperwork, trying to keep his mind off what was happening at the 1-2. Scanlon. In MY office, running MY precinct! He looked up at the sound of the door opening.

"Fish! What brings you here?" he asked, a smile spreading across his face.

"I'm meeting someone for lunch a little later. Thought I'd stop by and see how the other half lives."

"Have a seat. Can I get you a cup of coffee?"

"Sure."

Barney quickly poured it for him and then settled back behind his desk, watching as Fish took a sip, then made a face.

"What's the matter?"

"Nothing, this coffee tastes great."

"Then why the face?"

Fish thought a moment. "Guess I was expecting the worst."

"Oh come on now. I'm a deputy inspector. Got my own Mr. Coffee to show for it."

Fish laughed. "Have you thought anymore about what we talked about the other day?"

"Oh yes."

"And?"

"Fish, I don't want to be Luger when I grow up." Barney sighed.

"Well then, go talk to whoever you've got to and get yourself back where you belong."

"I wish it were as easy. You'll never guess who the new Captain is."

"Levitt. He always was a go getter."

Barney laughed. "I wish! You know, I called over there this morning. Harris answered. "It seems I'm not the only one who was homesick."

Fish's eyes widened. "You mean, Wojo, Dietrich, they're all back?"

"It would appear so. I didn't get to talk for long. The new Captain cut in. Remember how we used to wish the rug would get pulled from under Scanlon? Guess what, it did. He's Captain Scanlon now."

"You're kidding!"

Barney sighed and shook his head. "I wish I was. Harris said my name's still on the door. Bet he loves that."

"You've got to ask for that demotion now, Barney. Have mercy on your friends."

"I've got to talk to Liz first. And besides, even if I got it, there's no guarantee I'd get reassigned to the 12th."

"C'mon Barney. We both know he'll never last. If the public doesn't complain about him the detectives'll kill him. Either way, your old job will be waiting."

Barney studied his old friend. "Why are you so interested, anyway?"

Fish put his coffee cup down. "My niece is working over there now. I think she's got Levitt's old job."

"Your niece? Not little Emily-"

"Little Emily is 26 now and one of New York's Finest. 2 years out of the Academy. She was working out of the 122 until she heard about the 12th reopening. She put in a request to transfer."

"26?" Barney looked at him in disbelief, then smiled. "Following in your footsteps, huh? Well you must be very proud."

"I am Barney, but I'd rather she'd have stayed at the 122. It's safer there."

"Oh sure. Crime never happens on Staten Island." Barney said, straight faced.

Fish looked at him. "You know what I mean, Barney. And now with Scanlon there-"

"I wouldn't worry Fish. I'm sure she's a very capable and intelligent officer."

"Maybe I should go up to the squad room and talk to the guys, you know, ask them to look out for her-"

"She'd kill you." Barney said matter of factly.

"You're probably right." Fish sighed in resignation.

"Besides," Barney added. "Once they find out who she is they'll probably do it on their own." he smiled.

"She'll still kill me. I promised her I'd let her do things her way. Women are so stubborn Barney."

"Fish, you're just now figuring that out?" Barney teased. "Relax, okay? I'm sure Emily'll be just fine. She is one of New York's Finest after all," he smiled at his old friend.

"She's a hell of a cop Barney, don't get me wrong. I just worry is all. I couldn't believe it when she told me she was transferring to the 1-2."

"Sounds like she thinks very highly of you Fish, and I don't blame her."

"Well thank you Barney."

"Wouldn't it be something if she makes detective someday?" Barney mused. "There aren't enough good woman officers out there. Last one I can think of is Wentworth, remember?"

"Oh yeah. What's she doing now?"

"Last I heard she was still working Vice. Up in the Bronx I think."

"Good for her. Wojo really liked her, didn't he?"

Barney chuckled. "She broke his heart."

The men fell silent, lost in memories of days past.

"Barney, come with me." Fish said suddenly.

"What?" Where?"

"I'm taking Emily to lunch. Come with me. I'm meeting her at the 12th."

"Oh Fish, I don't want to intrude-"

"It's no intrusion Barney. I'm sure she'd love to see you. And don't you want to see everyone?"

"It has been awhile." Barney smiled, then thought a minute. "No Fish. I'm going home for lunch. I want to talk to Liz. I want the next time I walk into the 1-2 to be when I'm Captain again!"

"That's the spirit Barney!"

"Okay Mr. Porter. Have a seat over here." Harris said, leading a middle aged man into the squad room. He was thin and dishelved.

"That your disturbance?" Wojo asked.

"Lawrence Porter. He bought a bunch of lottery scratch off tickets. When none of them were winners he demanded his money back. The clerk refused and he tried to climb over the counter. That's when they called us. When we got there he was screaming about false advertising." Levitt explained as Scanlon joined them.

"Got a gambling problem, do you?" Scanlon asked Porter.

"What I got a problem with is those lyin finks that run the lottery. The ticket says right on it, win up to 100,000 dollars! Well I didn't win nothin! That's false advertising!"

"Yeah yeah. Sit down." Harris said, motioning toward his desk.

"Gentlemen, I'm going to lunch. I trust that you can keep things running smoothly here?" Scanlon reached for his hat.

"Lunch?" Levitt exclaimed. "It's 10:30!"

"Levitt, right? Let me explain something to you. I'm the Captain. Any questions?"

"No sir."

"Good! Later Gentlemen."

They watched as Scanlon breezed out.

"Lunch at 10:30?" Wojo said. "Must be nice."

"Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, Woj. At least we're free of him for awhile." Harris put a form in his typewriter and sat down. "Okay Mr. Porter, let's get started."

"Am I going to get my money back?"

"Mr. Porter, you do understand that buying a lottery ticket doesn't guarantee you'll win? In fact the chances of winning are astronomical at best." Dietrich explained.

"That's not what the ticket says!"

Harris sighed. "Give it up. I already tried."

"I won the lottery once." Levitt offered. "Well it was only a free ticket..but that's still considered winning, right?"

"Sure Levitt." Wojo shook his head and looked at his typewriter. "There's gotta be some ribbons around here somewhere!" he reached for the phone and dialed downstairs.

"Officer O'Malley." Emily's voice answered pleasantly.

Wojo suddenly felt nervous. "Uh yeah, hi. This is Sergeant Wojciehowitz. From upstairs?"

"Hi Sargeant. How can I help you?"

"Well uh, I was wondering...what I mean is, you wouldn't know if there are any typewriter ribbons around here, would you? Mine's shot."

"I'll see what I can do. You might have to fill out a requisition."

"Great. May as well forget it then and go buy one myself."

"Wait now. I'm sure I can find one around here somewhere. I'll check the supply room."

"Better be careful."

To his surprise, Emily giggled. "Oh I've heard all about the place. Don't worry. I'll make sure I'm properly armed."

Wojo grinned. "Okay, well uh...let me know how you make out."

"Don't worry. If your phone rings, it'll be me calling for back up."

"I'll keep that in mind." he giggled in spite of himself. "bye."

"Bye Sergeant."

When he hung up he noticed Harris and Dietrich staring at him. "Yeah, what?"

"Did you just giggle?" Harris asked matter of factly.

"I heard it too, Woj. A distinct giggle came from your direction." he grinned.

"I was laughin, okay?" Wojo looked embarassed.

"That was a giggle." Harris was intent on teasing him.

"No it wasn't. Men don't giggle, everyone knows that." he busied himself with the papers on his desk.

"Okay Wojo. Whatever you say," Harris went back to the report he was typing, then looked back up. "but it was a giggle!"

"It was a laugh!"

Porter looked at Harris. "Sounded like a giggle to me too."

"Quit it already, would ya?" Wojo's voice rose along with the color in his cheeks.

The room fell silent. Suddenly they all realized they were waiting for the same thing: Barney's usual calming interjection. Levitt looked at the "Capt. Miller" on the door and then quickly looked away.

"I guess it's true, huh? You can't go home again."

"Don't be so sure, Carl. Don't be so sure." Harris replied. "I got a hunch Barney's working on something."

"You want to what?" Liz Miller looked up from the sandwich she was making, disbelief on her face.

"I know, I know, it sounds crazy. But Liz, it's what I need to do." Barney tried to explain.

"You spent years dreaming of making Deputy Inspector. Every time the promotions came out and your name wasn't on it you'd be heart broken. You made it and now you want to give it up? It is crazy, Barney!"

"I know, and at the time I did want it-bad. But I realized something, Liz. I realized that I need to be where I can make some kind of difference out there, however small!"

"Can't you make a difference as deputy inspector?" Liz asked, handing him the sandwich.

"Are you kidding? Listen, I spend all day sitting in that office pushing papers around, signing this, approving that...day after the day the same thing. I don't even feel like a cop anymore!"

"Well as I recall you spent most of your time as a Captain behind a desk as well. Only now you're getting paid better." Liz pointed out.

"Maybe so, but as a Captain I was in touch...with my officers, with the community...now I just stare at the walls. Luger's retiring, and he's recommended me as his replacement. When he told me I felt nothing but dread. Damn it Liz, I don't want to end up like him, longing for the good old days and stuck with a useless title!"

"Barney," Liz said gently, "Luger's stuck in the past...he couldn't go back again...thinking you can is what'll make you end up like him, can't you see that?"

"You're right, Luger couldn't get his glory days back. But this is different. Wojo, Harris, Dietrich...they went back...they got the chance...why can't I?"

Silence fell. Finally Barney sighed and walked over to his wife. "Look, I know it means a paycut-"

"We'd manage. You didn't do badly as a Captain and my salary as a social worker will make up the difference. We've already saved for David's college-" she stopped when she realized Barney was gazing at her. She sighed and slipped her arms around his neck. "I get it, okay? Being a cop isn't just your job. It's part of who you are."

"You mean…you're okay-"

Liz nodded. "I'm okay. Really. I want you to be happy and I have to admit you've been pretty miserable since the 12th closed. So...if asking for a demotion is what you need to be happy again, who am I to stand in your way?"

Barney smiled. "It is and...I...thank you Liz. I love you."

"I love you too, Barney. What are you going to do if you can't get reassigned to the 12th?"

He thought a moment. "Well I'll be disappointed but at least I'll have the chance to do some real police work again," he grinned. "But I'm not worried. There isn't a chance in hell Scanlon'll make it as a captain for long." I hope, he added silently as he hugged her.

Meanwhile, back at the 12th, the door to the squad room swung open and a familar voice filled the room.

"My God, it really hasn't changed."

"Fish!"

Harris, Wojo, Dietrich and Levitt stood up and greeted him warmly.

"Good to see you! What brings you around these parts?" Harris asked.

"I have a lunch date," Fish replied, looking around. "Good lord, how could they have run out of money? They didn't change a thing!"

Harris chuckled. "You ain't kidding!"

Fish stopped in front of the bathroom. "Excuse me."

"Sure. Welcome home, Fish." Wojo said, grinning as the older detective disappeared inside and closed the door.

Laughing, Harris jerked his thumb toward the bathroom. "Who says you can't go home again?"

A few minutes later Fish emerged. He went over to the coffee pot and poured himself a cup.

"Nick would be proud." he said after taking a sip.

Wojo beamed. "Thanks Fish."

The older man looked around and sighed, stopping to stare at Barney's name on the door.

"Tell Scanlon not to get too comfortable, will ya?" he said finally.

"Why? You know something we don't?" Harris asked.

"Yeah Fish. C'mon share." Dietrich added.

"Well, Inspector Luger's finally gonna retire for good. Guess who's up as his replacement?"

Wojo's face fell. "Barn."

"That's right. And he's not exactly celebrating."

"You mean he doesn't want it?" Levitt exclaimed.

"Hell no. He wants to be back here, where he should be. Where he belongs!"

"Can't argue that." Wojo replied.

"That's all find and good Fish, but what's he gonna do? Ask to be demoted instead of promoted?" Harris scoffed.

Fish looked up at the ceiling. "Well you didn't hear it from me."

"You're serious!" Levitt said, disbelief on his face, "He wants a demotion!"

"Why that devil...I knew it! Didn't I tell you I had a hunch he was up to something?" Harris laughed.

"Like I said, you didn't hear it from me." Fish repeated, trying not to smile.

"Hear what?" Wojo grinned. "Keep us posted though, will ya?"

Before Fish could answer the door opened behind him.

"Uncle Phil! You're early!" Emily walked over and kissed him on the cheek.

"Stop that! This is a police station!" he scolded gently, a twinkle in his eyes.

"Your lunch date, I presume?" Harris said with a smile.

"That's right," he turned to her, "Ready?"

"Sure am." Emily smiled and took the arm he offered.

"Hey Fish, how come you never told us you had a niece?" Wojo asked.

Fish stopped and looked at him. "You never asked."

"Touche." Dietrich replied.

"Don't talk that way about my niece!"

"Fish, touche means point taken. It's a French-"

"Oh yes, nothing's changed at all." Fish looked heavenwards, then back at the detectives. "And thank God for that!"

********************************************************
Back at Manhattan South, Barney hung up the phone and sighed. He'd
done it. He'd put in for a demotion. Now all he had to do was wait. As he leaned back in his chair all he could do was smile. Scanlon, watch out. Your days are numbered! Glancing at the paperwork on his desk he shook his head. May as well keep myself busy, he thought, reaching for a pen. He didn't realize how much time had passed until his door flew open.

"Barney? Barney, what is this poppycock I hear about you wantin a
demotion?"

"Hello Inspector. Yes, I'm afraid it's true. I've formally requested
to be demoted to Captain."

Frank Luger stared at him as if he was speaking gibberish. "Well what
the hell for? Something wrong with what you're doin now?"

Barney sighed and took his glasses off. "There's nothing wrong with it,
Inspector. It's just not...it's not what I was cut out to do. I realized I
belong back in a precinct, working in a squad room again."

"I guess this means you don't want to replace me, huh?" Luger looked
down, brushing some imaginary lint off his jacket.

"Inspector,it's not personal. I just don't belong here. I don't feel
like a cop anymore!"

"Oh,so you's saying I'm not a real cop now, just because I don't walk
no beat or work in some filthy squad room is that it?" Luger made no attempt to hide his hurt.

"No, that's not what I'm saying!" Barney stood up. "Look Inspector, not everyone is a good fit for every job. I mean, look at Fish! He retired as a Detective Sergeant! He would have made one hell of a Captain, but he never went for it. You want to know why? Because he said he knew nothing was as right for him as where he was already.
He was a smart man."

"Barney, I just don't get it. You wanted to be Deputy Inspector so bad
you could taste it! It used to kill me every time they gave it to some other fool. What happened?"

"I guess I found out that having wasn't nearly as satisfying as simply
wanting."

Luger sat down across from him and gave him a cynical stare. "Or maybe you found out that that jackass Scanlon's runnin the old 1-2 now."

"Oh yes, I heard. Tell me Inspector, why'd he get demoted? He finally
piss off the wrong person?"

"Ayup. You could say that. He tried to nail some Sergeant at Manhattan North for some trumped up hoohah, but it blew up right in his face. He turned out to be the Commissioner's nephew. He didn't take too kindly to having one of his relations messed with."

"I bet he didn't." Barney couldn't hide his amusement.

"Anyway, they figured stickin him at the 12th was good punishment."

"For who? Him or the men?"

"Yeah I know what you mean. Who they got over there anyway?"

Barney looked surprised. "You mean you haven't heard? The old crew is back. Harris, Dietrich, Wojcehowicz, Levitt, even Kogan. They all asked for a transfer when they heard it was reopening."

"You're kidding? Well I'll be damned. I'm gonna have to pay the ol boys a visit!"

"You do that, Inspector, and send them my regards."

"I'll have pastrami on rye, mustard on the side," Fish said, "and a
pickle. Half sour."

"Uncle Phil, you're not supposed to eat pickles, remember? Too much
salt." Emily scolded gently. "What would Aunt Bernice say?"

"Hush child. What she doesn't know, won't hurt her. And one pickle won't hurt me. I drank Nick's coffee for years, and look at me!"

She giggled. "I wish I could have met him. You make him sound so
wonderful."

"Nick Yemana was one of the best. I meant to tell the boys that Pickard got denied parole again." Fish reached for his coffee.

"Pickard?"

"The son of a bitch that killed him in that jewelry store heist." his
voice was a mixture of anger and grief, "ambushed him from behind. He never had a chance."

"Oh Uncle Phil..." Emily reached for his hand.

"Nick had turned his back to help the store owner who'd been shot in the thigh. He was dragging him to safety when he ran into Pickard trying to escape. Wojo was on with him that day. Barney said it took him, Harris and Dietrich to keep him from ripping Pickard apart. They'd never seen him so angry."

"I bet it did." Emily smiled.

Fish looked off into the distance for a moment, then shook his head.

"Enough about the past. How are you getting along at the 1-2?"

"So far I'm really enjoying it, Uncle Phil. The guys are just like you
said."

"They're treating you right?"

"Of course they are. They've all been very friendly. You were right about Wojo. He's very sweet." Emily smiled.

"He's come a long way, believe me. But listen, you be careful aroundScanlon. He's as rotten as they come."

"I know. He was a complete jerk this morning. And do you know he left for lunch at 10:30?"

"I believe it. Sounds just like him. He was the only thing about retiring

I was happy to say goodbye to!"

Emily laughed. "Do you think Deputy Inspector Miller would mind if I
stopped by Manhattan South and said hello? I'd really like to meet him."

"Course he wouldn't mind. But don't call him Deputy Inspector. It makes him nauseous."

"What?"

"Oh that's right, I haven't met Inspector Luger yet." Fish
looked up as their sandwiches arrived.

Emily looked even more puzzled. "What's that got to do with anything?"

"Oh you'll see. Trust me."