AN: The following story is based on a combination of two writers' challenges. Thanks to "meixel" for providing the bait for my muse in the form of the opening scene which is in Italics and the random "words" in bold text. This was initially meant to be written and posted in time for Valentines Day but I've just returned from vacation so please forgive the delay. I hope you'll still enjoy it :-)

Special thanks goes to my beta for catching my boo-boos.

To my readers and fellow writers: I hope you had a lovely Valentines Day.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the original characters, locations or canon information depicted in the series "The Streets of San Francisco". I'm just borrowing them for my pleasure and hopefully the enjoyment of others. Additionally, the character, Curtis Alvin, belongs to "meixel".

Tanith


Be My Valentine

As Jeannie turned on the living room light and locked the front door behind her, she reflected on how much fun she had that evening. Home for a long weekend away from her studies at Arizona State, it was the Saturday before Mardi Gras. She and her best friend, Valerie sneaked over to a frat house party at the school some of her old high school pals attended. After some drinking and lots of dancing, the girls called it an evening.

With Valerie on her way back to her parents, Jeannie walked over to check for messages on her father's answering machine.

"Sweetheart, we just got a call, so I'm going to be home late. Don't forget to lock up. And don't wait up for me. I love you. I hope we can spend some time together tomorrow."

Jeannie smiled at the voice which gave her great comfort. As she turned out the light, she climbed up the stairs to her bedroom.

Curtis Alvin, parked across the street, watched as Valerie departed and the house lights were turned on, then off. Clearly no one had been at home until Jeannie got there, Alvin thought, so she must be alone. He grabbed the crow bar which was next to him in the passenger's seat and proceeded to cross the road to the Stone residence.


At the sound of breaking glass and a faint thump, Jeannie sat up in bed with a gasp. Though she was physically drained, her mind was still buzzing from her night out and she had found it hard to keep her eyes shut. She reached across the bed and switched on the desk lamp. Fearing an intruder had broken into the house, she listened carefully for any more noise, as she slowly pulled down the covers and swung her legs onto the floor. Dressed in a comfortable pair of track pants and a loose sweater, Jeannie took a deep breath then opened her bedroom door. With her heart hammering against her breast bone, she crept downstairs. Through the curtains cascading over the window ahead of her, the street lights cast a faint glow and she could make out a shadow disappearing into the kitchen. Biting back a gasp, Jeannie continued down the stairs. Her hands gripped the banister for support. When she reached the bottom of the stairs, she quickly dashed for the living room but collided into the coffee table as she tried to make it to the telephone. She fell to her hands and knees, cursing under her breath at the obstacle. Beads of cold sweat broke out all over body as she felt a presence looming over her. Scrambling to her feet, Jeannie spun around at the same time and squinted in the darkness. There was no one there. Maybe I'm imagining things.

Jeannie took several deep breaths to steady her nerves then located the light switch.


Hidden in the shadows, Alvin peered around the living doorway and watched the Stone girl as she picked up the telephone receiver and started dialing a number.


Jeannie twirled the cord in between her fingers, feeling on edge as she waited for her father's voice to fill her ears. Ring. Ring. Ring. No answer. Just as she was about to hang up, two things happened simultaneously. A hand wrapped itself around Jeannie's face, covering her mouth, while another grabbed her about the waist and dragged her away from the phone. The receiver fell from her grasp as she struggled to free herself. The second event to transpire involved someone's voice issuing through the mouth piece of the telephone receiver.


"Homicide, Keller," the young Inspector greeted the caller. When no answer was forthcoming he called out, "Hello? Hello?" A muffled scream followed by the sounds of a struggle taking place on the other line captured his immediate attention.


Jeannie opened her mouth to scream again and out of desperation, she clamped it shut, but this time her teeth found her captor's fingers. With an agonizing howl, her attacker wrenched his hand away and inadvertently loosened his hold on her. Pulling herself free, Jeannie dived for the phone which sat on the floor and snatched up the receiver.


"Hello? Can you hear me? Hello?" Steve tried vainly to make out what was happening on the other line. Just as he was about to snap his fingers in Haseejian's direction to get a trace on the call, a familiar voice spoke in rising decibels.


Recognizing Steve's voice on the other line, Jeannie pressed the telephone receiver to her ear and cried out, "Steve! There's someone….at the house….Steve….help…"

"Jeannie? Jeannie!" Steve intercepted loudly as Jeannie's words faded into the background noise.

A cry of pain followed by a distinct click as the call was ended had Steve slamming the receiver down, then bolting out of Mike's office. "Norm, I need back up to head over to Mike's place right now! Jeannie's in trouble!" Steve called out as he hurried out of the bureau leaving behind confused and alarmed stares as the message behind the announcement sharpened in clarity.


Jeannie's head reeled from being back-handed across the face. She rolled onto her side and attempted to push herself up to her feet but a heavy weight forced her back down onto the floor.

"You know Jean, you could have made things so much easier by answering my calls. All I wanted was for you to be my Valentine. Was it too much to ask? You're just like Dawn and all the others!" Curtis Alvin rasped. His greasy dark bangs fell limply across his face but he ignored them as he clutched Jeannie's wrists in his hands and held them above her head. He leaned over and trailed kisses all down Jeannie's tear streaked face and neck.

Jeannie squirmed and twisted her arms but Alvin's grip only tightened. She could hardly believe that soft talking Curtis Alvin was her attacker. She had known the young man since high school where he first developed what appeared to be a harmless crush on her. After Jeannie turned him down when he asked her to be his date for the prom, Alvin had avoided her, even when they discovered they were going to the same college. Then two weeks ago, she ran into Alvin at a diner. She had just witnessed a girl pouring her milkshake over his head before stomping out of the diner. Feeling sorry for Alvin, Jeannie had approached him and handed him napkins. The young man engaged her in small talk and they exchanged phone numbers. Little did she know what that small gesture and act of kindness would lead to. The young man had rung her numerous times and asked her out, only to be rejected. Eventually, Jeannie stopped answering and returning his calls in the hopes that he would get the message. "Curtis, please don't do this!"

"It's too late, Jeannie Stone," Alvin sneered and shifted his body so that he straddled the young college girl.

Jeannie willed herself to cease her struggles and focused her concentration on talking Alvin out of his frenzied attack. "Curtis, I'm sorry I didn't return your calls. I'll make it up to you. How…how about we catch a movie tomorrow?"

"Nice try, Jean. Do you really think I'm that stupid?"

"No…no I don't think that at all. I think you're really smart….please Curtis, listen to me." For a moment Jeannie saw Alvin's face begin to relax as he contemplated her words. It was all the time she needed to do what she hoped would help her out of her predicament. Bringing her knee up, she slammed it into Alvin's groin.

All the air left the young man's body and he rolled off Jeannie, folding over as pain erupted from the unexpected blow.

Jeannie scrambled to her feet and raced for the front door. Wrenching it open, she found herself engulfed in someone's arms. Panic stricken, Jeannie tried to twist her body away.

"Jeannie! Jeannie, it's me, Steve. Just take it easy. You're safe now," Steve grasped the frantic girl by her upper arms and looked into her face. Anger and hurt welled up inside him as he took in the sight of Jeannie's physical state. She was shaking and there were bruises on her face. My God, Jeannie. Who did this to you?

"Steve? Oh Steve! He's …he's….Curtis Alvin…broke in and…." Jeannie fell into Steve's arms and gripped the folds of his shirt.

"Okay, okay. Just stay here," Steve said as he gently pried himself free and pulled out his pistol. He wished he could just hold Jeannie and take her away someplace safe but he knew he couldn't allow whoever had hurt her to walk away.

"Be careful," Jeannie said softly.

With one last look into Jeannie's eyes, the cop nodded then proceeded into the house, his gun held at the ready. After scanning the living room, he could see there was evidence a struggle had taken place. Next, he walked into the kitchen. Just as he switched on the lights, his world was shrouded in darkness when a hard shove sent him crashing into the refrigerator. His head thudded against the door and he thought he was going to pass out. Vaguely he felt his gun drop from his fingers and heard it slide across to the floor. Shaking his head to clear it, he caught sight of a man swinging a crow bar aimed at his face. Ducking swiftly, Steve avoided the potentially fatal blow and heard it smash into the fridge door. Still dazed, Steve fell to his knees. Using the edge of the counter for support he pushed himself to his feet. From the corner of his eye, he saw his attacker prepare to take another shot. Steve knew he had no time to dodge the blow so he raised an arm to block it. He barely had time to steel himself against the pain as the metal instrument landed against his forearm. He knew he had fractured something but there was no time for him to nurse the injury or even to catch his breath as the pain travelled up and down his arm, rendering it useless. Before Alvin could deliver another blow, Steve gritted his teeth and launched himself at the young man. Together they crashed into the oven door as Steve grappled to prise the crow bar out of Alvin's clutches. Exertion showed on his features as his injured arm gave out.

Alvin could feel his opponent's strength waning and he took the opportunity to strike again. This time, he used both hands to ram one end of the crow bar into the other man's body.

A cry of pain was wrenched from Steve's throat as the point of the crow bar caught him in the center of his torso. Agony erupted in his chest and stars exploded before his eyes. His knees buckled and he collapsed onto the floor.


Holding her breath Jeannie picked up the ornate glass fruit bowl off the counter top and crept up behind Alvin as he stood over the prone body on the floor. Anger, fear and a sense of protectiveness claimed her as she brought the bowl down hard against the back of Alvin's head. The bowl broke in two and she allowed the pieces to fall from her fingers and shatter against the tiled floor. Alvin turned slowly, looked Jeannie in the eye then slumped to the ground. Finally, Jeannie exhaled heavily and rushed over to Steve's side.

"Steve? Oh Steve, are you alright?" Jeannie knelt by Steve's side and tried to help him to a sitting position but he shook his head and lay doubled over.

"Can't breathe," Steve gasped, unable to draw enough air to form a proper reply.

Sirens wailed and Mike's voice could be heard hollering from the front door.

"Jeannie! Are you alright?" Mike questioned breathlessly as he took one look at the prone body of Curtis Alvin then at his daughter who was on the floor beside his still partner.

"I'm…I'm fine but Steve's hurt. He's…he's having trouble breathing!" Jeannie stammered.

Motioning for two officers to take care of the suspect, Mike instructed another to call for an ambulance before he hurried to check how badly his partner was injured. As gently as he could, Mike rolled Steve onto his back and moved his arms away from his chest then unbuttoned his shirt. "Easy, easy."

"Mike, I can't breathe," Steve gasped in distress.

"Mike?" Jeannie looked into her father's face, searching for an answer to quell her fear.

"Looks like he took a bad blow to the chest. Sweetheart, I need you to get me a towel and soak it in some water."

Jeannie nodded, rose to her feet and searched the kitchen for the tea towel.

Returning his attention to his protégé once again, Mike slid his arms under Steve's and carefully manoeuvred him so that the young man was sitting up, with his back leaning against the cabinets.

"Now, just take one small breath at a time, okay, Buddy Boy? Just relax," Mike coaxed a still distressed Steve.

After drawing in a painful, unsteady breath, Steve took another and soon found it easier to inhale oxygen into his starved lungs.

Jeannie knelt down and dabbed Steve's face with the wet cloth.

"You're both incredibly lucky, you that?" Mike started. At Jeannie's inquiring look, he continued, "I just put out an APB on Curtis Alvin when I got the call from Haseejian. The murder victim in Pacific Heights was Dawn Evans. Two witnesses saw Alvin leave her apartment complex a half hour ago."

"Glad I got here…when I did," Steve croaked weakly, looking up at Jeannie and offering her a small smile of reassurance.

"How are you feeling Buddy Boy?"

"A little better. I think I busted my arm."

"Looks like that's not the only thing you busted."

Before Steve could respond, the medics had arrived and both Mike and Jeannie reluctantly moved aside.

"How is he?" Mike asked once the medics had finished their examinations.

"He's got a minor concussion, possible fractures to his ulna and sternum. He should be fine but he'll need to get some X-rays taken to rule out any underlying internal injuries and determine if he'll need surgery to realign any possible fractures."

"Thanks," Mike replied, his arm wrapped around his daughter's shoulders. "Sweetheart, we better get you checked too…"

"No, I'm okay," Jeannie started to protest but her father shut her down.

"You can either ride with Steve or with me. Your choice."

With a sigh, Jeannie relented and asked if she could ride with Steve. Looking over to where Alvin lay motionless, Jeannie voiced the question that had been on her mind since she dealt the blow that brought the man down. "Mike, is Curtis going to make it? I hit him pretty hard. I was so scared he was going to kill Steve."

Mike's gaze fell on Curtis Alvin's still body as another pair of medics worked on saving his life. He hoped for Jeannie's sake that the man would live to stand trial. As a cop, taking another human life in the line of duty was hard to bear. He didn't want his young daughter to carry the devastating responsibility on her shoulders, even though she did what she did to defend herself and protect Steve. "I hope so. Listen, you did what you had to, to defend yourself and you saved Steve's life. Come on. I'll be driving right behind you." Mike leaned over and kissed Jeannie gently on the forehead. Then he brushed away the loose strands from her face and winced as he saw for the first time since he arrived, the bruises on the side of her face. "I love you, Sweet heart."

"I know, Mike. I love you too. I'll see you soon," Jeannie said with a small smile as she held his hand and gave it a gentle squeeze.


As Steve and Jeannie boarded the ambulance, Inspector Bill Tanner pulled into Mike's driveway.

Mike quickly briefed Tanner and left him to take charge of the investigation so that he could be with Jeannie and Steve at the hospital. It had been a long night and Tanner was in no way envious of the strain that Mike had just been put through. He could see the tension in the way he carried himself as he made his way to the tan Ford LTD parked at the curb and hoped that for his sake and Jeannie's that they will be able to put this nightmare behind them.

To Be Continued!