This is not from my CD of Hunter fanfics, but a new one thanks to an idea on LM's Web site and Syntax's fanfic challenge . . . I don't know where I'm going with this yet so any ideas, please feel free to message me. I'm figuring this to be somewhere between end of Season 5 or beginning of Season 6, pre-Alex.

Captain Charles Devane looked through the slats of his office blinds at the couple of detectives seated at their desks only a few feet away. One had his feet resting on his desk, nose in the Sports section and a toothpick hanging out of his mouth. The other had her hands neatly folded in front her with a scowl on her face as her mouth moved with lecturing words that he could only imagine. He chuckled and then turned and looked at the man and woman seated behind him.

Detectives Andrea Malone and Crosby Tate looked anxious. Malone was attractive, about 5'9" with a slim yet athletic build, crystal blue eyes and what Devane assumed was long, dark blonde hair accented with light blonde highlights from the California sun. Her hair was pulled up neatly and her legs were crossed in front of her, two fingertips drumming nervously on the armrest of the chair. At the age of 28, she was the next in a long line of detective wanna-be hopefuls.

Tate was her polar opposite. At 34, he was about 6 feet tall and Devane guessed he went about 240 pounds and likely benched twice that amount, easily. A body-builder type, Tate was known for acting first and asking questions later. It made him a good yet dangerous police officer. His dark hair was trimmed short and his dark eyes glittered with anticipation. Someday, these two would be partnered.

"So, welcome to Metro Homicide," Devane said, sliding behind his desk and grabbing his bottle of Mylanta, taking an encouraging swig. It wasn't this conversation, but the one that would follow that he needed to calm his stomach. "The first thing you need to know is, I am the king of my domain here, and what I say goes. Second, we're all family. We love to hate each other at some points but you'll never find a closer group of people when you need us."

The couple looked at him blankly.

"Starting on Monday, for the next couple of months, I'm going to partner you with two of our current detectives who've been around the block several times and a track record that speaks for itself. They are partnered currently, so don't take their hostility personally when I announce that I'm splitting them up to show you the ropes."

Tate cleared his throat. "They're that tight, eh?"

"Yeah, they're that tight. Another reason why I need to separate them for a while." Devane then stopped, for fear of revealing too much. He had suspicion that the vicious office rumors were more than rumors now. He would hear their banter whenever his door was open, the teasing, the innuendoes, mostly on the part of Sgt. Rick Hunter. But a few months ago, Terwilliger ratted them out – stating he saw them share a kiss in McCall's car one morning before coming into the building to report for duty. He shrugged it off, mostly because Terwilliger was not only a twit, but also because the partnered detectives were a little more touchy-feely than most, not counting Navarro and O'Hearn. They had been through a lot together, much more severe circumstances than most partnered officers. It was nothing for him to see Hunter with his hand on Sgt. Dee Dee McCall's back when he opened doors for her, or for him to see McCall seated on top of Hunter's desk with her hand resting on his shoulder or covering one of his hands with her own, especially after a particularly difficult case.

She had a way of reaching her hard-nosed partner when no one, not even Devane, could. If there was an order that Hunter needed to follow, or if one wanted to avoid a confrontation with him, the road to Hunter drove straight through McCall.

But then he heard rumors circulating about the two of them alone in an interrogation room upstairs, and how one of the maintenance people opened the door without knocking and found them in a questionable embrace.

He chose to keep it to himself for a while. He didn't witness these incidents first hand, but if it continued, he would have to broach the subject, a conversation he did not want to have.

"I've heard about Hunter & McCall," Malone offered quietly. "Their record is phenomenal."

"That is why I'm partnering them with you for a while," he said. "I have never split them up before, but it's their turn in the barrel to train new detectives. They are the best, and I want you to learn from the best before you pick up bad habits. So on Monday, get here at 7 a.m. for proper introductions before the 7:30 a.m. briefing. Make sure you have your track shoes – you'll be running with the best."

He ushered them out of his office and waited until they were gone before calling the dynamic duo to his office. By this time, Hunter had gotten rid of the sports section and was hammering away at a report in his typewriter with two fingers while McCall was fixing lipstick with a compact mirror. Devane rolled his eyes before he barked at them.

In a few short minutes, he closed his office door and turned to see McCall sitting in a chair and Hunter reclined on his couch with his feet up, toothpick still haphazardly in his mouth. Devane scowled. "Make yourself comfortable, why don't ya?" he directed to Hunter. If he wasn't such a goddamn good detective, he'd have actually written his ass up years ago.

"I thought this was a friendly meeting," Hunter countered. "It's Friday, and McCall and I solved our case yesterday, and the paperwork is finished as of five minutes ago. I'm entitled." And then he chuckled as Devane's face got red.

"Don't listen to him, Charlie. The only reason that report is finished is because I did it," McCall offered, turning and glaring at her partner.

"Yeah, well I won the coin toss." And Hunter chuckled again, this time making McCall scowl.

"You cheat."

"Prove it."

Devane whistled and put his hands up like an NFL referee. "Okay, time out," he said. "I'm glad you are all caught up, and I'm even going to reward your outstanding-as-usual detective work with an afternoon off," he said. "I don't want to see your faces until Monday at 7 a.m."

Hunter sat up immediately. This got his full attention. "Off? Until Monday morning?" he asked.

McCall's eyes narrowed with suspicion and speculation. "A full weekend and an early out on a Friday . . . what's the catch?" she asked, her voice dripping with sarcasm.

Davane sat down behind his desk and took another swig of Mylanta.

"This can't be good," Hunter muttered under his breath.

"Rest up ladies and gentlemen," Devane said. "On Monday morning, you're going to meet your new partners."

Dead silence.

"Come again?" Hunter asked.

"It's your turn in the barrel. For the next 8 weeks, you get to train Detectives Andrea Malone and Crosby Tate." He looked at the pair and went on. "Hunter, you get Malone, and McCall, you get Tate. I want them to understand how a male/female team works together, because they will be partnered once you both feel they are ready to go."

McCall said not a word, but Hunter groaned. "Charlie, come on. Let Bill & Bob do it."

Devane felt his ears turn red. "Last I checked, Bill and Bob were both males."

"Kitty and Brad?" McCall offered.

"They did the last round. Sorry folks, it's your turn."

"Eight weeks, huh?" Hunter said, realizing it was a done deal.

"Yep. You'll survive." Devane watched the interaction and didn't quite understand it. McCall looked worried and Hunter looked – pensive? Devane couldn't put his finger on it. There was definitely something going on. And he figured he'd find out what it was in about two months.


Hunter sat on his deck looking out at the ocean. He heard her car pull up, her door slam, and her quick footsteps. In less than a minute, she was standing in front of him, her elbows leaning on the railing behind her as she obstructed his view.


"Well, what?" he asked.

"What do we do now?"

"We're in a jackpot for sure, aren't we?" he muttered.


And he looked at her thoughtfully. "It's not permanent. I trust him. There's not much else we can do."

"But rookies? That is just going to suck in every sense of the word."

"Yeah, you know it." He held his hand out to her and pulled her onto his lap. She leaned her head against his shoulder and sighed, relishing the feel of his arms around her. "But it's gonna be ok."