Monday: February 22, 2016
Hilo flipped on the overhead lights in the lab, fingers resting on the switch as his eyes scanned the room. It wasn’t often their analyst hung out in the dark, but that didn’t mean it never happened. Unless she got called to a crime scene, she wouldn’t be coming into work for another couple hours, sometime much closer to noon. It would give him and Tahki time to dust for prints without too much trouble.
The real trouble would come from running those same prints through the system without their sergeant or lieutenant finding out. Of course, he was certain they didn’t have to worry much about Andrew running to the police chief and tattling on them if he were to find out about the unauthorized search. Andrew was far too busy thinking about sleeping with Tahki to worry about what they were doing for their cases.
Hilo shook his head and walked into the lab. If he wanted to mentally complain about Andrew’s inappropriate relationship with a subordinate, it could wait until after they knew what, exactly, they were dealing with when it came to the letter. Until then, the letter and the envelope it arrived in absolutely needed to be his primary focus, not Andrew and Tahki’s relationship.
“Close the door,” he said, looking back over his shoulder. Tahki nodded and pushed the door shut without any complaints. Hilo cleared his throat. “We shouldn’t have any issue dusting for prints, but we have another issue to deal with that raises a few… concerns, to say the least.”
“We have to be extra careful when we run it through the system,” Tahki said.
She followed him across the room. “What’s our plan, then?”
He chuckled, but he certainly didn’t find any part of their situation funny. “I don’t have one yet.” He set the letter and envelope on the table, a frown coming to his face. “I know we, uh, leave all of this up to Jade, but now that I’m down here, I don’t think we can dust it for prints. I’ve seen paper after she’s taken prints from it, and it never looks like it’s been touched with our fingerprinting powder. The prints are generally purple, not black like the powder.”
Tahki frowned. “Shit, you might be right. I don’t think we can.”
“But if I can find out where she keeps the fingerprinting powder, maybe I can find what she uses for paper. We can do some research from there,” he said, turning to pull open one of the drawers beneath the counter. He scanned the contents before closing it and trying another one. There, he found the fingerprinting powder and the little magnetic applicator.
“Good news, found the powder,” Hilo said.
Tahki smiled. “Well, hey, look at that. A step in the right direction.”
He nodded. “So… the other obstacles that will arise after we get these prints. One of us has to be willing to handle whatever fallout might potentially come our way after we run the prints. Sarge is gonna be pissed no matter who it is. I can’t say much for Loo, and I don’t know how much Chief cares about that kind of thing.”
“Not much, I don’t think. I’ve never known her to be too much of a hard-ass. As long as we’re not actively wasting money on something, it’s our job to catch the bad guys, and that’s about all there is to it,” Tahki said. Hilo looked back at her briefly, just long enough to let her know he was still listening. “Andrew isn’t really going to care, either. He’ll probably ask about it, but I don’t think he’s planning on throwing a fit about it. That’s not how he is.”
“That’s where my mind went, too,” Hilo agreed. He chose not to add the part about how he was only certain Andrew wouldn’t chew out Tahki. He had no idea how the lieutenant would react to him. He shifted his weight to his right foot, pulling another bottle from the drawer. It wasn’t something he recognized. He set it back down. “Sarge is the one I’m most worried about. She’s… Well, you know how she is.”
Tahki snorted. “God, don’t I.” She let out a sigh. “We’ll run it through under my name.”
“Are you sure?”
“Andrew’s our lieutenant. He’s in charge of Sarge. If she has anything to say about it, he still has the final say on what happens and what has to be done. And we both know why he’d be more willing to go easier on me,” she said.
Hilo nodded. If that wasn’t the damn truth. “Are you sure he’ll even care? I mean… work-life is different than your personal life.”
“I’m sure. I’m not sleeping with Andrew for the favoritism, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have it.”
“Do you not feel uncomfortable about all of that?”
Not for the first time, Hilo chose not to mention the fact that he was her superior. Instead, he bit the same low-hanging fruit he usually did. “LT is twelve years your junior, Tahki.”
Again, she sighed. “I’d be uncomfortable if he were the older one between us. The boss being older than the subordinate is a good way for everyone to say he’s taking advantage of me.” A pause. “Not that… everyone knows, but you know what I mean.”
Hilo nodded, but he certainly didn’t follow the logic behind it. He understood the premise of it on a very basic level, but everything in his mind told him it was wrong. Sleeping with a subordinate, sleeping with the boss, sleeping with anyone at the station that could be considered a superior or a subordinate. It wasn’t right.
“You’re not planning on leaking my relationship to the rest of the world, are you?” Tahki asked.
“Christ, no, of course not. I’m not like that.” Hilo frowned. “You’re like a sister to me, Tahki. I love you like one, too. We’re family. Your kids call me Uncle. Mine call you Aunt. I mean…” He shook his head. “I wouldn’t do something like that. I wouldn’t hurt you like that. I just want to know you’re being careful now, and that you’re going to continue being careful.”
“I appreciate that,” she said after a moment. “And we are careful. There’s a reason only you know about us. We aren’t stupid about it.”
Hilo offered a nod, grabbing another bottle from the drawer. It had a spray bottle topper rather than a cap, and the name sounded familiar. It at least seemed promising, more so than the other bottles in the drawer. That had to be a step toward finding the right one. “Ninhydrin ringing any bells for you?” he asked, turning to show her the bottle.
Tahki grabbed it from him, one corner of her mouth scrunched up as she scanned the tiny words written on the label of it. “Intro to Criminology suddenly seems like something that happened a million years ago, huh?”
He snorted. “Practically was.”
She leaned across the table to smack his arm. “We’re not that old, shithead.” Hilo only smiled. “But, hey… you know who is?”
James Fletcher was the oldest detective on the force, and for quite some time, their chief had been trying to force him into a desk job or early retirement. James was a bit too resilient to force into either position, and everyone at the station loved him.
Everyone, including their forensic analyst.
Hilo lifted his eyes to Tahki’s face. “You think we can get him to talk to Jade, don’t you?” he asked.
“Fletch could talk anyone in this station into doing anything. He’s spent a lifetime being kind and respectful, a lifetime buying them drinks and celebrating their birthdays. He could ask Jade to run these prints for us, keep it off the permission forms to Sarge, and we wouldn’t have to worry about the rest of it,” Tahki said.
“Yeah, it’d keep Sarge off of us, but what about Jade and Fletch? I’m not gonna throw ‘em under the bus because of that damn letter.”
“I’m not talking about throwing them under the bus. There’s no way in hell that Sarge stalks the records for what Jade runs through the system. She only checks the permission and request forms. Checking the records would keep her busy all damn day, and she’d never have time for paperwork. She’d never have time to be a hard-ass, either.”
Hilo let out a breath. “That’s… true.” He cleared his throat. “Fletch isn’t in his office today, so he should be at home. We can go there during our lunch break.”
Tahki nodded. “Good a plan as any.”
Hilo put the spray bottle back into its spot in the drawer. “Let’s go back upstairs in the meantime, focus on our actual homicide case. We have someone coming out here in about half an hour.”
“To try and identify our John Doe?” Tahki asked. Hilo nodded, carefully folding the letter up and pushing it back into the envelope. Trying to find their dear mass murderer—or ‘prankster’ civilian—would be hell in the middle of the actual case they had been assigned to, but until they knew if the letter was authentic or not, they couldn’t risk letting its existence get back to any of their superiors. The hope and possibility that it was fake weren’t worth risking the lives of any number of innocent civilians.
So as it stood, they would shoulder that hell until further notice.
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