The squad room was empty. Two in the afternoon and the place was an echo. "Not possible," thought Captain Simon Banks. Where could everyone have gone?
It was two days before Christmas and the bullpen should have been hopping. Phones ringing off the hook, suspects, officers, victims, detectives, all coming and going in controlled confusion. Voices questioning, answering, yelling, commenting. A constant flux of movement and conversations. But no, instead Simon faced an empty, decorated, but empty, squad room!
"Where is everyone?" he yelled. To no one.
Okay, it *had* been an amazingly quiet week. No argument there.
Cascade, Washington, the city with more crime than Los Angeles, New York and Miami "combined" had been virtually crimeless the last few days.
Oh, there were still a few open cases, some prostitution, drugs, burglaries, beatings etc. to keep the other departments happy, but over all? It had been so "crime free" that there had been plenty of time to decorate. The whole building. Even the stairwells, the elevators, they'd even decorated the bathrooms! Simon's office hadn't escaped either. It seems a bored detective is a decorating detective.
So? Everything was decorated. There wasn't a spot anywhere, in any room, that didn't have some reminder of the holiday. So? Where were his people?
*His* people were downstairs, in the empty but very decorated cafeteria.
They were discussing a very important project.
"It won't work, Megan. No way." Rafe stated.
"Yes it will, if we all do our parts as outlined in my briefing memo." Megan responded.
"But..." Brown tried to interject.
"Henri, it *will*work. The logistics are sound, the plan well-thought out and well organized. I don't think it can fail." Joel said, showing his support of Connor's maneuver.
"Well....." Rhonda was hesitating now.
"Rhonda, you know we have to do this. We have to try. Desperate times call for desperate measures." Connor pleaded.
"Well..." now all of them were hesitating, except for Taggert, who still had complete faith in the strategy.
"Okay, mates. One more time." Connor was nothing if not stubborn. She *would* convince them if it killed her. Come to think of it. It could kill them all. Or at least seriously injure them. This plan was dangerous, very dangerous. The men they would be dealing with were top of the line. They wouldn't hesitate to kill, maim, rend or otherwise destroy.
She was completely aware of their vulnerability. But, dammit, the plan was sound. Connor cleared her throat.
"Didn't we all agree that they aren't?" She looked around at all of them, waiting for affirmation. When she got it, she continued,
"And didn't we all agree that they should?" Again she waited for the nods and again received them.
"Didn't we all agree that *only* we could make sure that they do?"
"And that this Christmas was it? Now or never? Pain is good, extreme pain is extremely good? When the going gets tough, the tough get going? Go for the gusto? Do or Die? Semper Fi? Carpe Diem? Sink or swim? Don't give up the ship? Remember the Alamo?" Megan's voice had gotten louder as she talked, more forceful with each phrase and now the gang had gathered around her nodding, amening and getting really pumped.
"Okay, then, alright, we're pumped, we're ready, we're gonna kick some ass!"
Much nodding and hand slapping was her answer.
"Right then, gather round guys, let's go over the whole thing one more time."
All the detectives and Rhonda huddled around the tall redhead. Anyone trying to listen in would have heard only a few brief, tantalizing tidbits.
"Then Joel, you'll...."
"And I'll hang...."
"My job will be....."
"Force if needed....."
Megan's head rose from the huddle, "Okay, guys, let's go get 'em!"
They all separated and filed out. As they passed their coach, she gave each of them the time honored "swat' on the butt. Oh, yes, Megan could really get to like this coaching thing.
"Why are you so upset, Jim? It's just a few decorations." Blair Sandburg looked up at his partner as they passed through the doors into their department.
"A few? The loft looks like the Department Store Christmas Fairy struck. You have more greenery and lights than the whole city of Cascade!"
Blair had stopped in the middle of Jim's rant and turned to look at his friend.
"My, my, Mr. Grinch, we do know how to exaggerate, don't we? And the Christmas *Fairy*? Do I *look* like a Christmas Fairy to you?"
Ellison looked down appraisingly at his best friend. Black jeans, tight, a black turtleneck sweater and a red vest.....hair down.
"Well, okay. Not a Christmas Fairy, more like an elf....yeah, an elf."
Jim reached over and tucked some errant hair behind Blair's ear.
Before Blair could react to this totally off the wall comment *and* hair touching, a yell sprung up from somewhere over to his left.
"OKAY, EVERYONE! THIS IS IT! MAN...um, PERSON, YOUR STATIONS! NOW!"
The yell came from Megan and suddenly phones were cradled, pens dropped,chairs were scraping back and detectives were standing and hurrying toward the two men in the middle of the bullpen.
Simon came out of his office at the yell and found that all of his people had created a large, albeit, an uneven, circle around his best detective and his best "observer", "consultant" and anthropologist. Then to his amazement, they began to move the circle even closer to the two men.
"Uh, guys? What's going on?" Jim asked, with some trepidation.
Sandburg was looking at each person and when his eyes met Joel's, the bigger mans eyebrows shot up and Blair's eyes followed.
Blair couldn't help it. He began to laugh. Jim looked at him in annoyance and the circle got even smaller. The circle was forcing the two men to stand even closer together.
"Sandburg, do something!" Ellison whispered through clenched teeth.
But Blair just kept laughing and when he started to fall over, Jim reached an arm around Sandburg's waist and that made the younger man laugh even harder and he started to point up.
Jim followed the pointing finger and when he saw it, he smiled.
Mistletoe. They were standing directly under newly hung mistletoe!
Blair's laughter was almost out of control now, as he pointed at the hanging branch, then Jim, then back to the branch.
And the detectives just kept tightening the circle.
Finally Jim wrapped his other arm around the solid waist and pulled.
Sandburg landed against his chest with a gurgled, "Hey!" and Jim bent his head and captured Blair's lips.
For a moment there was complete silence. Every eye was on Sandburg.
Every breath was held. Waiting. Wondering. Silently urging. All praying. Was that their collective imagination? A group hallucination? Did Blair's arm....move?
YES! His arm moved up and rested on Jim's arm! Was that his other arm?
Did he just move in closer?
YES! Both Blair's arms had come up to balance on Jim's arm and shoulder.
And he had moved even closer.
Tongue? Was that tongue? Definitely! There was definitely tongue involved now.
Blair and Jim had forgotten their audience. They were kind of busy. But the distant thunder finally roused them and they parted. Only it wasn't thunder. It was clapping. The gang was busy clapping, patting themselves on the back and congratulating themselves and Connor on her brilliant plan.
Frowning, Blair asked, "What are they congratulating themselves on, Jim?"
"I haven't the foggiest idea, Chief." And he scratched his head.
Connor answered, "We're congratulating ourselves on the fact that we finally got you two together!"
The gang high fived, low-fived, chest bumped and ass swatted themselves.
"Got *us* together?" Blair queried.
"Uh, guys? Guys! Hate to break this to you, but Sandburg and I have been *together* since the second night he moved in with me!"
All activity stopped. All eyes turned to stare. Then a volley of,
"WHAT?", "NO WAY", and finally, 'CONNOR!" ripped through the bullpen.
Blair and Jim fled the upcoming massacre. They bolted and jumped into the elevator. As the door slid shut, Blair asked, "So. Do you think they believed you?"
"You gotta give them credit, Jim."
"Oh, I do, Chief, I do."
"I mean if they hadn't....we wouldn't....".
"We *haven't* yet, Chief. Just a kiss."
"Well, it was a great kiss."
There was a lengthy pause as each man pondered the kiss. Finally Blair reached over and punched the stop button.
"Jim? We are? Right?"
"Just as soon as we get home."
"Oh. Good. But as long as the elevator is stopped...maybe a little practice?"
"A little practice never hurt anyone, Chief."
They practiced some more which resulted in Jim commenting, "Chief, you*so* don't need practice. And I've got to tell you, this is the best Christmas present I've ever received from those guys!"
"Well, get this elevator moving and let's go home and unwrap!"
FROM ALL THE GANG AT MAJOR CRIMES:
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND NO PEEKING!