A/N: This story is an alternative to the "Thrill Killers" episode in season 5. There are certain commonalities and references to the original story, especially in the early going.

I do not own the characters or original story nor do I profit from them. This is done for fun and skill development.

Mike narrates the parts in italics. Reviews are most welcome!


Act 1, Part 1: The Summer of '76

It's summertime in San Francisco. Jeannie is finally home for good from college, but academia is not completely out of the picture for one of the detectives.

I consider it 'prophetic irony'. Every so often, a person makes an innocent comment which in hindsight is recognized to be the precursor of an event, either good or bad. It can be a statement of blessings or a simple pronouncement, as in : "I can't imagine being any happier." I said those same words to my wife shortly before she told me she was expecting our daughter, Jeannie. (And come to find out, I became much happier after our little girl was born.)

Providence can take the meaning of words another way. A remark can be a declaration reflective of life's good fortunes which, in turn, tempts fate. Think of a man saying "My job is going well" only to be laid off days later.

I made such a statement to Jeannie one early summer morning. I remember it well. We were in the kitchen chatting while she made coffee. My little girl wasn't so little anymore. She was twenty-four and had just moved home after finishing college in Arizona. In the last six years, she earned her Bachelors in Sociology and Masters in Public Policy. My partner, Steve, was on his way over for a quick breakfast before we headed into the police station. Work had been quiet, which meant that the homicide business was slow.

I was in a good mood and eager to get my day going. I said something to the effect of "Between my daughter and my partner, I have all I need." I kissed her on the cheek as I waited for the percolator to finish. It was a true sentiment. While I miss my wife deeply to this day, I had this wonderful young woman (Helen's very image) and this remarkable young man to fill my life. That morning, I never felt more blessed.

Mike sat his coffee down on the dining room table as he walked to answer the front door. His partner of the last five and half years, Steve Keller, waited with a newspaper tucked under one arm and a bouquet of yellow and orange flowers in his hands.

"For me? Steve, I don't know what to say." the older detective chided.

"Very funny. Where is she?" his partner looked around.

A split second later, Jeannie walked through the swinging kitchen door into the main room. She hadn't seen Steve since she returned to Phoenix after New Years. "Hiya, Steve!" she walked over to the young man. They embraced in a friendly hug and kiss on the cheek.

"These are for you, Jeannie. Consider it a 'welcome back' bouquet."

"They're beautiful and they are my favorite colors, too. They're so bright and fresh looking. Where'd you get these?"

"The grocer around the block from me usually has a very nice selection."

"I'll bet you buy flowers all the time…" Jeannie said with a wink.

"Oh, a time or two…dozen," Steve admitted as he ran his fingers through his hair.

"How is Carolyn? That is her name, right? She was quite pretty as I recall." Jeannie asked with a mischievous grin.

"Love looks not with the eyes but with the mind, my dear girl," Steve said with a passable faux British accent.

"Hmmph, that's not what I heard," she grinned. "But I take it that it's going well between you two, then? You've been together a while now."

"Well, it's only been six months," Steve replied with his characteristic neck twitch followed by uncharacteristic nervousness. "We met shortly before Christmas, if you recall. As for it being serious, ask me again in another six months. I hate to cast an opinion before dating any girl at least a year."

"Rules, rules, rules!" Jean scolded lightly. "If you were madly in love, you'd throw the timetable out the window."

"Jeannie…" Mike warned. For as close as the three were, there was a certain distance they kept in matters which were deeply personal.

"Perhaps," Steve grinned. "And what about you? Didn't I hear you've stayed in touch with someone you met here late last summer?"

"Yes, that's right. I saw him some over Christmas break, too. And as a matter of fact, we have a date this weekend." There was a slight bit of defiance in her voice which Mike noted. He chose to chalk the tone up to youth.

"All the Bay area boys who have been anxiously awaiting your return will have to cool their jets. Tsk, tsk." Steve kidded.

"I should hit you with these flowers, but they are too beautiful." Jeannie said as she made an about face to the kitchen.

Steve grinned as he watched her exit.

"Breakfast is ready. Have a seat," the young woman barked seconds later from the other room.

Joey Morgan walked down the hall of his high school with shoulders slumped. The diminutive fifteen year old made his way over to his locker to get his book for the next class.

"Ew, gross, Joey - get away!" Elizabeth Becker commanded. She had the locker next to his and often delighted in insulting the young boy.

Joey looked down and tried in earnest to ignore the bad manners. It was like this for him every day. He was small, quiet and unassuming yet was rewarded only with endless teasing and insults.

"Don't be such a bitch, Elizabeth!" Adam Halsey declared. "He can't help it if he's ugly and he smells a bit." Joey's quick hope that someone would, for once, defend him was quickly dashed. Halsey flipped the three ring binder Joey carried on to the floor for effect. Papers scattered everywhere.

Elizabeth giggled as she wrapped her arm around Halsey. Joey was left to pick up the mess. No one helped, although some purposely walked on the scattered papers leaving footprints on his work.

After a full day at the police headquarters, Steve dropped Mike off and went home. As it was mid-week, Steve had few evening plans which was fine with him.

His thirty-first birthday was only months before and that milestone triggered the realization that it was time for him to settle down. Carolyn was the first girl he dated after that conscious decision. She was a willowy brunette who enjoyed much of the same things Steve did. Any time they both had two or three days off, they would go skiing at Tahoe. Locally, they enjoyed hitting the experimental restaurants and local wineries. Both being graduates of Berkeley, they often returned for concerts, lectures and sporting events.

Steve walked over to his answering machine and hit the play button.

"Darling, it's me. I got tickets to Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart next month. Thought you'd like that, babe. I'll see you Saturday. Kisses."

"Cool," Steve whispered allowed.

"Steve, this is Professor Atwater. We talked last year about you taking on a teaching assignment in our Criminology department. I'd like to revisit that conversation if I could. Please give me a call at 555-965-3434."

Steve scribbled down the number as he heard it and then stared at the piece of paper. Last year, he had met the Professor and they talked about him joining Berkeley's Criminology Department as a full time assistant professor. Being a successful grad with solid practical experience made the young man a desirable candidate.

The meeting had gone well and the school tendered an offer. Steve debated the proposal, but ultimately declined, in part, due to the heavy caseload he and Mike faced at that moment. He also valued the difference he made by doing his part in getting justice for the victims and their families.

Now, while the caseload was lighter, not much else had changed in his mind. Still, the thought of teaching at such a prominent university had its appeal. The idea of conducting university level research made the suggestion even more attractive and was the reason he had taken the conversation as far as he had a year ago.

Steve folded the paper and stuffed it in his jacket.