Hidden Vices

by Terizia Glenn

24 February 1997

This story is in response to the Unsuited challenge. First time effort.

Enjoy! Or not!

Thanks to Lisa Sutherland-Fraser for beta reading it for me, love ya hon! Comments and suggestions can be sent to me.

DISCLAIMER This story is based on characters and situations created by James Parriott and Barney Cohen and owned by Sony/TriStar. No infringement is intended.

Schanke jerked awake with a sudden snort. His mind and body finally sorted through all the incoming sensations, realising he had nodded off in Nick's car, driving back from the last crime scene. Damn, I'm picking up Nick's bad habits of spacing out. At least I'm not driving.

Nick shot him a glance, and quirked a smile, "You know, Schank, you've gotta stop pulling all these extra shifts. Either that or I will have to start putting a pillow in the car for you."

"Huh! Thanks a lot, that's very funny," Schanke shot back, rubbing sleep out of his eyes.

"You're starting to lose your alertness," sounded a worried Nick. He'd hate to tell the Captain, or Myra, that Schanke had been hurt because he didn't know whether to catch him as he fell or throw a bucket of water over him to wake him up.

It *had* been a hard week, thought Schanke. But what with Myra wanting to go to Tahiti, Jenny's schooling, and my new vice, I need the extra money to pay for it all.

As his senses tuned in better he recognised the voice issuing from the radio. "Why do you listen to him anyway? All that gloom and doom. It's almost as bad as those radio psychologists. Man, oh, man,

oh, man," sighed Schanke. "It's enough to make your head hurt, or slit your wrists when he's really firing." Schanke shook his head as his eyes continued scanning the area they were driving through. Too many years on the beat, he found this constant surveillance the best method of finding out the little details of life of on the streets that could be useful in tying up a case. "What's he on about tonight . . . oh, yeah! Loyalty, love and friendship. Three of his favourites. Man, someone must have hurt him bad that he has to constantly harp on about them."

Nick gave him a another sideways glance as he turned down the volume to a level that was still quite audible to him. A smile quirked on his face as he wondered what Schanke would think about the true reasons behind his need to listen into the Nightcrawler. His relationship with LaCroix was better than it had been for years. It was much more stable, and less antagonistic. LaCroix seemed more willing to accept him on an equal level than previously. He was still very much Nick's father', but in more of a mentor role than a dominating master one.

Schanke would probably be even more bemused if he realised that the Nightcrawler's philosophical comments, pseudo-analytical outpourings and occasional diatribes were aimed at an audience of one, Nick, and everyone else was a voyeur to their relationship. LaCroix always knew exactly what Nick was going through. But their link had much to with that. He had never been able to shut LaCroix out totally. Nick was beginning to wonder whether he had ever really meant to.

"Sometimes I find he sees things as they really are. It's refreshing, in a cynical sort of way," Nick said. But then sometimes it feels as if he has hit me over the head with the side of broadsword, or is trying to pull my guts out, he thought.

"Yeah! Right!" answered Schanke as Nick pulled into the precinct's car park. "Don't forget, you promised to do the paperwork on this one."

"I promised. Don't worry, I'll do it," replied Nick, his voice going up in tone as if to say, trust me'. "Go home to Myra, she's probably forgotten what you look like."

"Not a chance! I'll go home, have a nice hot home cooked meal waiting for me, couple of beers, look in on Jenny, kiss Myra and go to bed. And not necessarily in that order," Schanke smirked as he got in his car. "See ya! Don't forget to sign me out."

Sometime later, Schanke drove up to his house and parked the car. His movements were jerky and nervous, sweat beads were building up on his forehead. He opened the car door and practically tripped over his feet in his haste to get out of the vehicle. He trotted up to the front door, scrabbling for the right key. Finally he got the key in the door and threw it open.

Myra looked up from the television to see her husband in an absolute tizzy. "Don, what's wrong?" she asked.

"Oh, Myra, you wouldn't believe it. I fell asleep while Nick was driving us back to the precinct. Totally zonked out," he said, as his face fell and his eyes kept darting from side to side.

"That's awful, Don! Maybe you need to cut down on the work. We can go on holidays later. Here, sit down and relax and I'll get your dinner for you," she said solicitously.

"No! It's not that. I missed my program. I fell asleep during the Nightcrawler. Only caught the end. You did record it like I asked, didn't you?" he questioned her desperately. "Please tell me you recorded it."

"Oh, Don, I forgot. I was so caught up in helping Jenny with her homework earlier, I forgot to set the alarm, and then I fell asleep. I only woke up half an hour ago, then I started watching the late night movie. It totally slipped my mind."

"What am I going to do? I've got all his broadcasts. I can't miss one," cried Schanke.

"Doesn't Nick know this Nightcrawler guy?" Myra asked. "Maybe he could get a copy of the tape for you?"

"Copy, copy . . . good idea," said Schanke. "But . . . uh, uh, not from Nick. I'd never live it down. I keep telling Nick how morose and depressing he is. Nick'd rub it in from here to kingdom come." Schanke kept pacing wildly, trying to find a way out from his predicament.

"Well, he is," muttered Myra under her breath.

"Huh . . . what was that? Never mind. There's gotta be a way. I can't live without my Nightcrawler," he beseeched. "I feel as if he's talking straight to me."

Myra shot him a glance. Maybe I should get Don to see a counsellor if that's the case, she thought.

Schanke snapped his fingers. "I got it!" he said as he scrambled to his new computer, his new vice. "I'll get on my Nightcrawler list and see if someone can loan me a tape. Or maybe they can record one for me from theirs. Yeah . . . that'll work." And so saying logged onto his loop and sent his request via e-mail. "Man, oh, man, you should've seen the responses I got when I told them I had actually met the guy. Totally flooded my mailbox. Practically a celebrity I am. None of them have even seen what he looks like, he's so reclusive."

You're definitely seeing a counsellor, Don. Between work, and doing extra shifts to pay for you're rotten Internet connection, and then sitting on it for hours on end, talking about that Nightcrawler person, and looking for hidden meanings in his cynical messages, Jenny and I never see you, thought the dismayed Myra. This has to end.

She looked up in time to see Don practically giggling in glee. "Isn't that great, Myra? Someone's going to do copy it for me. Isn't that great. I got it! Yes!"

"Yes, dear, that's very nice," sighed Myra, rolling her eyes upward appealing to someone, anyone, for help. "I'm going to bed."

The last words she heard as trailed off to bed were, "Yeah, OK. I'll be there soon," as he started opening up his mail for the day.

The End