AN: Once again, I'd like to thank all my readers for their support :-) It means a lot to me. Hope you'll enjoy this slightly shorter update.

Special thanks goes to my beta for her encouragement and proof reading.


ACT II Part 1:

SFPD, Bureau of Inspectors, 850 Bryant Street

Rocking the chair backward and forwards, Decklan avoided the Lieutenant's gaze and insisted on speaking to his lawyer.

"I'm going to ask you one more time and if I don't get an honest answer, I'll have you thrown in a cell! Where were you last night?" Mike grilled.

"I told you, man, I was with my parole officer, Officer Davidson! I'm not answering any more questions."

"Until my partner gets back with Officer Davidson, we're not done here! Have you ever seen this girl. Take a good look at her!" Mike snapped as he shoved a recent college photo of Jeannie in front of the young lout, hoping to see him react and forcing a confession out of him.

Rolling his eyes impatiently, Decklan took the picture from Mike's grasp and a smirk crossed his features. Looking up at the detective and locking eyes with him defiantly, he taunted, "Look, you want the truth, old man? With a cute mouth like that, she looks like the type of girl who would beg me to have my way with her but I…" Before Decklan could finish his lewd remark, he felt himself grabbed by the collar and thrown to the floor.

Breathing hard, Mike didn't even hear the door opening but he felt someone tugging him away from Decklan as he reached for the street-wise young man who was struggling to his feet.

"Mike! Hold it!" Steve pulled his partner away from the suspect and kept a firm hold of his shirt. "His story checks out. Davidson was with him until the early hours of the morning, playing cards!"

"What?" Mike shot back.

"I said, his story checks out. He's not our man," Steve repeated breathlessly.

Mike's shoulders slumped, all the fight leaving him as he realized the implications of Steve's words. They had arrested the wrong man.

"You can go. Go on!" Olsen jerked his thumb toward the door.

Mike felt his world crashing down when Olsen's terse voice filled his ears and he knew what was to come.

Straightening himself up and brushing himself off, Harvey Decklan gave Mike one last reproachful look before strutting out of the office.

"My office, Mike. Now," Olsen ordered before he too left the cubicle.

Steve leaned his back against the desk and crossed his arms. He looked his partner in the eye and could see the guilt, shame and anger behind them. He opened his mouth but before he could say anything, Mike held up his hand and shut him down.

"Don't. Just don't."

The door of Mike's office slammed shut and Steve cursed aloud. Mike had crossed the line and he knew Rudy was going to have it out with him and there was not a damn thing he could do about it.

…..

It felt like the longest ten minutes of his life as Mike sat rigidly in front of the Captain's desk, trying hard to process every word that Olsen drilled into him.

"You're taking me off the case," Mike said matter-of-factly.

"It's for the best and you know it. I'm not beyond reasonable here, Mike. I've decided to allow Steve to continue with the case. He'll be working with Hartman on it," Olsen explained.

"Hartman? You're not just assigning him the case but you're giving him a new partner?" Mike questioned incredulously.

"It's only temporary. I want you to take a couple of days leave to cool off. That's an order," Olsen's tone left no room for argument but he steeled him for an attempt.

"I can't believe you're doing this! I really can't."

"If that kid has half a brain, he's within his rights to press charges against you for assault and sue the department for wrongful arrest and police brutality."

"And how about assaulting a police officer? Did you take a good look at that bruise on Steve's jaw? He got that from that punk when we arrested…"

"It was Steve's choice not to press charges!" Olsen's voice rode over the top of mike's argument cutting the Lieutenant off. "When he found out that Decklan had a solid alibi, he knew it was safer for you and the department to drop the incident completely. The problem is, you're taking this case way too personally and I don't like it. Back off and let Steve handle it."

Shaking his head in disgust, Mike got up from his seat and trudged out of the office. Over twenty years of experience told me that Rudy was right, and that most of the anger he was feeling was directed at himself but there was no way his bull-headedness was going to let him admit to that. He walked past Steve's desk, ignoring the disconcerted stares of his partner and Tanner and headed straight for his office.

"Steve," Olsen called out from the doorway of his office.

The young Inspector exchanged a nervous look with Tanner before leaving his desk and heading for Olsen's office.

…..

Residence of Inspector Jeff Hartman,

Juggling the football from hand to hand, Troy Hartman placed the ball on the counter top of the breakfast bar in the kitchen then reached for the telephone receiver. The phone had been ringing for some time and his first assumption was that his father was spending most of the night at the office again.

He greeted the caller but his eyes took on a darker shade when he recognized the caller's voice.

"It's all over the news! What if the girl can describe us?"

"And how will she do that, genius? She was out cold for starters! It was Halloween and we all wore costumes just like the rest of the kids in the neighbourhood!" Troy retorted angrily.

"What if your dad got suspicious? He's a cop isn't he?"

"My dad!" Troy scoffed bitterly. "I'm surprised he still remembers I live here. He doesn't even know me! Relax, will you, Evans? No one's gonna know. Besides, nothing happened! Look I gotta go. I think dad's at the door." Troy hung up before Zach Evans could say anything else.

Troy met his father as he walked through their front door.

"Hey, how did training go? Sorry I missed it. I had to stay back at work again," Inspector Jeff Hartman said, as he reached out and ruffled his son's hair.

"Yeah, well, what's new, dad?" Troy replied sarcastically. He was used to the empty promises of a cop father.

"I'll make it up to you. Let's grab some burgers tonight and a couple of shakes. My treat. What do you say?"

The broad shouldered youth shrugged. "Whatever." He just doesn't get it. Not in the mood for another fight with his father, Troy kept his mouth shut and let his dad drone on about his work day as they locked up the house and headed out.