A/N: This story takes place in April of Trixie's senior year in high school. It is stand alone, but if you want to know what Dan's secret is, you'll want to read Breakup of a Different Kind first, if you haven't already read it.

As always: Not a Jim & Trixie story. Rated T for Mr. Belden's bad language (!) and some slightly suggestive allusions. Only two weeks until Camp NaNoWriMo starts and I can begin writing the actual book this AU is based on. Yay!

Thanks to everyone leaving reviews!

The Cold Lake Murders: Interlude – Trixie vs. The Very Bad Day

Trixie huffed out a breath and shook her head. "So, anyway," she continued. "I should've known things were gonna go all wrong today, yeah? I mean from the moment I overslept and then got to school and realized I'd forgotten my English essay, it should've been obvious today was a day to go home, crawl back into bed, and pretend to be sick."

"Happens to everybody, honey. We all have those kinda days sometimes."

Trixie looked over at the woman sitting across from her and nodded wisely. "Yes. Yes, we do. At lunch? I opened my bag and found out I had my baby brother's lunch and not mine, and this included a bologna sandwich. Bologna! Eeeew. Then there was a pop quiz in physics, and my pen exploded in my purse and got ink all over everything."

"How'd the quiz go?"

"No idea," Trixie answered truthfully. "I'm guessing somewhere between 'Are you sure you've ever attended class this year?' and 'Is this some kind of joke?' It was not pretty. I managed to get through work after school just fine, but then I came back into town to go to the library and my bike got a flat tire."

The woman chuckled. "Sorry, hon, but you really are havin' a helluva day."

"Yep. Because just as I was trying to figure out what to do about my bike, my boyfriend called, and we got into a big fight right there on the phone."

"Eh. So guy troubles, too, huh?" she asked sympathetically.

"It was stupid! See, yesterday he, that's Jim, called me and I told him I couldn't talk because I was waiting for a call from Dan and could he please call me back tomorrow. Well, tomorrow now being today. So he did call me today, but he was all mad about yesterday."

"Hang on now. You told your boyfriend you couldn't talk because you were waitin' to talk to another guy? Is this other guy your brother or somethin'?"

"No. He's just a good friend. He's Jim's friend, too. But he's in the army and he doesn't always have a chance to call, you know? So we'd planned to talk yesterday evening and I didn't want to miss his call. Jim's in college at Dartmouth so it's easier for him to call me anytime."

"Hmmm. Now, honey, don't take this wrong, but I know men. They're only interested in gettin' into your pants and you're a pretty little thing, so... probably your boyfriend was worried and jealous. And maybe with reason?"

Trixie made a face. "I can see where you in particular would think that about guys," she conceded, "but it's not like that with Dan and me. We really are just very good friends."

"Well, you might feel that way... Are you sure you feel that way? Nothing more?"

"I'm sure! I adore Dan, but only like a brother."

The woman laughed lightly again. "What do they look like? Your college boyfriend and your soldier friend?"

Trixie blinked, surprised by the question. "Uh, well, Jim's very handsome. Tall and broad-shouldered. He's got red hair, but not bright, bright red. It's not auburn either, but it is a darker shade of red. He has amazing green eyes. And he has this great smile that always makes you feel like a million dollars when he smiles at you. Dan's a little bit shorter. He has dark brown hair and dark eyes. Gets it from his father's side of the family, I think. Sometimes people think he's Italian, but he's really more Irish." She frowned slightly. "Why do you want to know?"

"You can tell a lot about how a girl feels just in listenin' to how she talks about the men in her life. Sounds like you got it bad for the boyfriend. How's the soldier feel, though? You sure he's not wishin' he was more than a friend?"

"I know he's not," Trixie said emphatically. "He's been in love with the same person for years, but it's a secret, so I'm the only one who knows. I'm not allowed to tell anybody. Not even Jim. All I can say is there is no worry about me ever leaving Jim for Dan or cheating on Jim with Dan or anything like that. So this fight? Was stupid, stupid, stupid! We yelled at each other then got off the phone. And there I was, about to call my mom about my bike's flat when this happened." She waved her hand around in an encompassing manner, taking in their surroundings.

"How did this happen?" the woman asked curiously.

"Funny thing," Trixie began, but then she was cut off by a shouting voice coming from the other room.

"Where is my daughter? I demand to see my daughter!"

Trixie looked toward the open door. "Uh, oh. That's my dad."

A moment later Peter Belden burst into the room, with Honey, Tom, and Regan following immediately behind. "Trixie!" Peter exclaimed.

Trixie levered herself up off the metal bench and approached the steel bars that ran the length of her cell. "Wow," she said, addressing Regan. "When I used my one phone call to call you and tell you I needed you to bust me out of jail, I didn't mean it literally. You didn't have to bring the cavalry to break me out."

"Trixie!" Peter said again, his face red with anger. "What happened? Who arrested you? And why?"

"Well, apparently Officer Caldwell here thinks I broke into a house on 2nd Street and stole some jewelry and cash. There was a witness."

Peter whirled on the young policeman. "Officer who? Who are you? I've never seen you before. Release my daughter at once! She's not a thief!"

Caldwell straightened up. "We have a witness report-"

"I don't give a damn what some fool witness claims!" Peter declared. "Let my daughter go this instant!"

"Officer Caldwell," Honey added, adopting her sweetest tone. "There's obviously been a mistake. Trixie never would've broken into anyone's home and stolen anything."

"We have the witness statement," Caldwell said again. "We've booked her on charges-"

"Booked her? Booked her?" Peter looked ready to explode, or possibly attack the officer.

"Got the inky fingers and crazy mug shots to prove it," Trixie said brightly, holding up her hands as evidence. "Dad, please calm down for a moment, okay? We can get this all settled now. The robbery took place sometime around 4:00. All we need is for Regan to confirm I was at work then and couldn't have possibly been in town at the same time."

Peter glared at Officer Caldwell. "You are going to go call the chief right now and tell him to get down here and get this all sorted out immediately. If this isn't fixed and my daughter's record expunged, you can expect to be hearing from my lawyer! In fact, I think I'll call him right now anyway and apprise him of the situation."

"Oh, boy," Trixie muttered. "More fireworks."

Peter stalked back out to the squad room, pulling his cell phone from his pocket. A moment later, they could hear him heatedly describing Trixie's predicament.

"So..." Trixie said, looking at her friends. "Guys, this is Officer Tony 'The Tiger' Caldwell. He's new here, and tryin' to make a name for himself. And this is Julia. She goes by Stormy or Misty when she's working, depending on the client's preference. She got picked up for solicitation out at the truck stop on the Expressway."

"My nickname is not 'Tiger,'" Officer Caldwell growled.

"Oh, it is now," Trixie told him pointedly. She turned back to the others. "Did you all come in the same car?"

"We came in Mother's sedan," Honey replied. "Tom drove us. Your dad came in his car. Your mom wanted to come, too, but then she and your dad decided it would be better if she stayed home with Bobby."

"Good. Then can I get you to do me a favor?"

"Sure," Honey said instantly. "Name it."

"I have a feeling this may still take awhile, so I'll need Regan to stay here to make a statement, but could you go get my bike? I got a flat while I was riding up Main Street, so I left it chained to a poll outside C & J's. I'm hoping it's still there."

"Of course we'll go get it!" Honey said. "Right now." She looked up at Tom expectantly.

"Did you lock it with a combo lock or key lock?" Tom asked.

"Combo. 2894."

Honey repeated the number several times under her breath.

Peter stormed into the room. "What the hell are you still standing around for?" He pointed one finger at Officer Caldwell. "Either you go call the chief or I will. My daughter is a minor and you've locked her up without appointing an advocate or attorney. You didn't alert her parents, and you have her in the same cell as a hooker!"

Trixie winced and glanced back at her cellmate. "Sorry about that," she murmured. "He's just upset right now."

Julia shrugged one shoulder. "No problem. I am what I am and it is what it is," she said philosophically.

Peter practically dragged Caldwell from the room. Honey and Tom trailed after, with Honey promising to return once they'd retrieved Trixie's bicycle.

Julia was regarding Regan thoughtfully. "You're right, hon. He is very handsome."

For a moment, Trixie was at a loss. Then understanding dawned. She bit down on her lip to suppress a grin.

Julia rose and walked across the cell to stand next to her. "And no matter how bad your fight was, he did drive here from Davis College-"

"Dartmouth," Trixie supplied helpfully.

"Dartmouth. But listen here, Johnny-"

"Jim," Trixie cut in. "Or Jimmy would work."

"Jimmy. You listen. You don't gotta worry about your girl here, okay? She's not cheating with Don-"

"Dan."

"Dan. And even though she's been sworn to secrecy, I haven't, so I have no problem tellin' you that you got nothin' to worry about because Don-"

"Dan," Trixie interjected again.

"Dan is gay. It's good when a girl's got a gay best friend. They're the best when it comes to things like fashion advice and bein' a shoulder to cry on so you don't hafta worry about all that touchy-feely stuff."

By this point, Trixie was visibly shaking with silent laughter.

Regan nodded his head once. "Thank you," he said seriously. "I appreciate you setting my mind at ease like this."

"No problem, Johnny."

"Jimmy," Trixie put in with a small gasp as she continued to fight off the desire to sit down and laugh until she cried.

"Jimmy. You're welcome. I figured if you knew the soldier's gay, you'd stop worryin'."

Regan turned to Trixie. "I don't actually know if I want an explanation here or not," he told her dryly. "I'm going to go make that statement now. They can't have any evidence against you beyond whatever this witness is claiming, and you definitely have an alibi. They're going to have to let you go."

"Yeah. You go get your girl outta here," Julia murmured approvingly. "She don't belong in a place like this, Johnny."

"Jimmy," Regan and Trixie said at the same time.

"Jimmy. And you remember what I said. You got a good girl here. You hold on to her and don't let her get away."

By the time Honey and Tom returned to the station, Trixie was out of the cell and standing with her father, Regan, and Chief Molinson in the squad room. Officer Caldwell sat at his desk, his head down as he typed on his computer.

"Mr. Belden," the chief said gruffly, "on behalf of the entire department, please accept my apologies. Officer Caldwell will be dealt with."

Peter wasn't completely mollified. "I believe my daughter is owed an apology as well," he said coldly.

The chief cleared his throat before speaking again. "Right. Miss Belden, I apologize for this very unfortunate incident."

"Now that's a novel experience," Trixie said, grinning. "An apology from the chief. But really, sir, this wasn't your fault. I don't know who broke into that house this afternoon, but I do know who you should be talking to."

The chief scowled at her. "Oh?" he asked, his tone forbidding.

"Yeah. Your witness." Trixie's gaze tracked to Caldwell. "Hope you got her name and contact info."

Officer Caldwell's head whipped up. "I never said the witness was a woman," he muttered suspiciously.

"Seriously? 'Sandy blond curls and a light, rose-colored blouse'? C'mon, Tiger! With the exception of my gay best friend Don, if the witness was a guy, he woulda said 'a blonde in a pink shirt.'"

Caldwell's eyes narrowed, but he remained quiet.

"Trixie," the chief said in warning. "You stay out of this. We'll handle it from here."

"I know the drill, sir. But just think about it, Chief. Why did your witness describe me so exactly, even down to what I'm wearing? It could be a coincidence, but it's unlikely. That means probably whoever she is, I encountered her at some point today. And then she lied and claimed she saw me this afternoon leaving the house I supposedly broke into. Gotta be a reason she'd do that, yeah?"

"Trixie, we're leaving," Peter said firmly, putting an end to the conversation. "I called your mother and let her know you've been released, but she's still frantic and wants to see you."

As they left the station through the main doors, Honey tugged on Trixie's arm. "Gay best friend Don?" she whispered. "What?"

"I'll tell you about it tomorrow," Trixie promised, though silently she wondered how she would explain Julia's confusion over Dan's secret, without actually divulging that Dan had a secret to begin with. Glancing over her shoulder, she flashed Regan a wide smile. "Thanks for the assist, Jimmy."

"Has anyone ever told you that you might be certifiable? Bonkers? Totally looney?" he asked in reply, his amusement highly evident.

"Oh, a few people. Here and there." Trixie inhaled deeply, taking in the cool evening air. Downtown Sleepyside was deserted for the night, looking almost like a ghost town in the hazy glow from the streetlights above. Aside from the two patrol cars and a dark blue truck Trixie guessed belonged to the chief, the only other vehicles in the SHPD parking lot were her father's Toyota Camry and Mrs. Wheeler's Mercedes Benz. She held her hands up over her head. "Freedom!" she cried dramatically before dropping her arms to her sides again with a short laugh. "I? Just got an apology from one Chief Wendell Molinson. Maybe I fell into an alternate reality?"

"Not that I know of," Tom said, "but maybe we should stop for a lottery ticket on the way home. Couldn't hurt, right?"

Trixie kicked one leg out and swung her hand in a karate chop. "Ha! Take that Very Bad Day!" she declared. "You can't keep me down for long!"

Peter Belden shook his head and sighed. "Trixie, I'm glad you haven't let tonight really upset you, but this was a serious situation. And I can't understand why you called Regan and not me or your mother!"

Trixie stood on her toes and hugged her father. "Don't worry, Daddy. You're still my hero," she teased gently. "I called Regan because while you could have told Officer Tiger that I was at work this afternoon, only Regan could really confirm that. So, you know. Alibi."

"All right. But next time, call me first, okay?" As soon as he said the words, Peter frowned. The good Lord help him, but he realized at that moment that he wouldn't be surprised in the least if there was a "next time." He regarded his only daughter wearily. He'd known from the moment she was born that she would prove to be a handful, but even then, he'd no real idea what he was in for. Trixie was more trouble than her three brothers combined. Still... he couldn't help but smile fondly as he watched her follow the others to get her bicycle from Mrs. Wheeler's car trunk. She was trouble, true, but she was his princess and he loved her dearly.

Now he just needed to find out about this gay best friend. Don who?