"You're slipping old man," Andy chuckled as he looked over his partner's shoulder.
Provenza pulled back the crossword puzzle from his view, "I'll have you know this is Sunday's! I didn't get to it because well Patrice was pretty happy that we had wrapped up the case and all," he laughed as he watched Andy cringe at the realization that he was otherwise too busy to do his normal Sunday morning routine.
Without missing a beat Amy threw out, "Why? Did she need you to hold her purse while you looked at new sofas?"
Andy nearly choked on his coffee. Amy was quickly becoming one of his favorite people, she could rile up Provenza like nobody else, except maybe him. He enjoyed tag teaming with her against the old man, until they turned their sights on him. Then he had to pull his ace card out and mention "Lieutenant Cooper and ring shopping" that quickly shut her down every time.
Provenza leaned forward and growled at her, "I told you about the sofa thing in confidence, I just wanted your opinion."
Amy shrugged, all was fair in friendship and war.
"Didn't you just get all new furniture Lieutenant," Julio asked as he swiveled around in his chair to get in on the "pick-on Provenza" hour.
"Yeah, I recall something about how much you loved the new leather she picked out for your stupid chair," Andy muttered.
"I did," he wiggled his eyebrows suggestively causing the entire room to let out a loud moan.
"As long as your old couch doesn't end up in my condo again Lieutenant," Sharon said swiftly shutting everyone down, "I need your report on the evidence pulled from the car," she said with her attention on Mike.
Everyone knew that with Bobby working the case, Hobbs would be flooded with motions which meant more work for her and for them. "Right," Mike said, "rifling through his desk for the latest report.
As she waited for Mike she took a look around the murder room, at her team. It filled her with pride to be able to work alongside these people everyday. It made the sign in her office carry an entirely new meaning now, to have a team that would walk through fire alongside her.
Provenza's phone rang, "What?" he supplied as his usual greeting. He listened for a moment jotting down some notes. He hung up and turned to the team, "We're up."
Julio, Amy, Mike, and Nolan all got up immediately. They grabbed their guns from the drawer, threw on their coats, despite the oppressive heat, and headed for the garage.
Sharon didn't have to ask, a turn and pointed look to her second in command and he shared the details as he knew them, "Fire department was called to an abandon lot in the early hours, initial reports were of a warehouse fire. When they finally got it out they found a body in a car. Doubtful that we will be able to do much between the fire and the foam there won't be any real evidence to collect."
She gave a nod, "Keep me posted," and turned back towards her office.
Buzz finished packing his camera gear and followed Provenza out. Andy was left alone in the murder room once again. Even though he understood his role now and liked what he was doing it was still hard not to go out on scene with the rest of the team. He followed Sharon, "You want me to call Paige in?"
"No, not yet. We don't know if this is even anything yet," she got situated at her desk and began sorting the files on the Gabriel case.
"Yeah, could have just been a drunk sleeping one off. Wrong place wrong time," he said with a shrug hoping that they could get an easy one after wrapping up the last one.
"Could very well be the case," her voice was a bit dismissive. It wasn't that she didn't want to talk to him or enjoy having him around, but she had a lot to do today and if they did just pick up a case she had little time to get all caught up. She knew it was still hard on him to be left back at the office, dealing with the compromise of keeping him on active duty, but the answer wasn't to coddle him.
Andy got the hint. He knew he was lingering and dragging his feet. He had work to do too, he just didn't want to do it. He wanted to be with the guys, but he wasn't and never would be so with a deep breath he tapped his pinkie ring on the door, "I'll let you get to it then."
She nodded, her eyes showing him the compassion he was seeking out. He gave her a smile. It was all okay, it was all an adjustment.
He stepped out of the car. It was only 9am and already the heat was blistering. The building was still smoldering, radiating more heat into the air. Provenza pulled on his white bucket hat and made his way over to the crime scene. Patrol lifted the tape for him as he ducked under and neared the car.
Tao was kneeling next to the burned out car, picking through bits of debris and placing them into evidence bags.
"Found a lighter," Amy said as she dropped a silvery zippo into an evidence bag, "Possibly used to start our fire."
Julio was talking with the fire department, arson investigator when a loud explosion rocked the crime scene. Out of instinct Julio pulled the fireman down to the ground as everyone else hit the deck.
"Clear the area. Push the perimeter back!" yelled the fire Chief as he and several other firefighters grabbed their gear and rushed back towards the flames.
Nolan grabbed Amy and yanked her back towards the patrol cars, practically dragging her as he ran. Tao was still hunkered down by the side of the car, trying to grab his kit and the little bit of evidence they managed to collect before moving back to the new safe zone. It was the first time anyone had ever seen Provenza run. He clutched his white bucket hat in one hand as he awkwardly jogged towards safety. Under any other circumstance the team might have laughed and hoped Buzz caught it on film for future viewing pleasure.
"Where's Buzz?" Provenza asked his voice winded and out of breath.
"I thought he was right behind me," Mike said suddenly concerned as they looked around for their friend and colleague.
The team rushed up to the perimeter line, but were met with several firefighters pushing them back, "It's not safe you're going to have to wait for us to re-release the scene."
"We're missing one of our guys," shouted Provenza clearly annoyed.
"We still can't let you back in the perimeter," one of the men replied.
"Well then you better go look for him, and you'd better hope that he's okay," his voice wavered as much as Buzz drove him crazy he was like a son to him. If anything happened to him, well he couldn't let himself even entertain the thought. "Our Commander will have your ass!"
"Where did you last see him?" he fireman asked.
"He was behind the car with our victim, documenting the scene until the corner arrives. He should be there," Tao offered up concern flashing across his face as he spoke.
"Okay, we will send some guys to go check it out, but in the meantime I have to ask you to stay put," he said before turning around to his crew without waiting for a reply. Moments later two men took off in the direction of the car.
The team fidgeted and waited anxiously. Amy stood on her tip toes hoping to get a better view than her heels could provide. The car was too far away and the smoke from the explosion virtually obscured everything within a few feet.
"Should we call it in?" Nolan asked hesitantly. Even a year later he was still figuring out his re-entry, he wasn't entirely sure what the protocol was in this type of situation. Buzz was a civilian, but a reserve officer too, either way he was a valued member of the team.
"No, not until we have something to report," Provenza said shaking his head hoping to God that he wouldn't have to make that call to Sharon. He was close to the boy, but Sharon adored Buzz.
A few minutes later Provenza was ready to storm the lines again when the ambulance began backing up towards the barricades. He moved in slow motion towards the bus, he wasn't sure what he was going to find when he reached the doors, but he didn't expect it to be good.
Through the thick black smoke they saw the two firemen, one had thrown Buzz over his shoulder in the infamous fireman's carry while the other one was dragging his equipment along. When they reached the ambulance the paramedics jumped out and immediately helped place him onto the gurney.
"What happened?" Provenza started to ask, but was ignored as the men and women were focused on saving his friend's life. From where he could see there was a gash to his head and he appeared unconscious.
"Unconscious male. Possible concussion. Smoke inhalation," the fireman began rattling off details to the paramedics, but the words fell and dissipated in the air as quickly as they were spoken. The team couldn't seem to catch anything, their brains still catching up to their eyes.
The female paramedic placed a masked to his face and began taking his vitals, while the other bandaged his head. They placed him in a C-spine not knowing if there was significant brain or neck trauma considering the size of the explosion. Paramedics didn't waste anytime on scene, they package him up and went to close the doors when Provenza reached out and stopped them, "Where are you taking him?"
"Cedars," she replied and yanked the door from his hand and closed it. Lights and sirens went up as the bus quickly lurched forward.
"Julio go with him," Provenza wouldn't let Buzz be alone. He might not be a real cop, but he was still one of them. Julio didn't reply, but immediately ran to his service vehicle and chased after the ambulance. When he turned around he found Tao talking to the two firefighters that rescued Buzz.
"Here's his stuff, he had a death grip on it even though he was unconscious when we got there. Figured it was important," the one said as he handed over the camera equipment to Nolan.
"Thanks," Tao said, "Where was he?"
"About 20 yards or so from the car, not sure what he was doing on that side of the warehouse, but he would have been directly in line with the tank that exploded. The blast waves probably knocked him out," he other one replied, "Listen I hope he's okay, but we gotta get back." He gestured towards the fire.
Tao nodded and turned back to his team, they shared the same puzzled look trying to figure out why he would have wandered so far away from the crime scene, "Hopefully the video can tell us something, assuming it didn't get damaged from the explosion."
"If anyone else could work some magic it would be you," Amy said trying to be positive and cheerful, but the words fell flat.
"Okay, before I call the Captain, err the Commander," he rolled his eyes he couldn't help it, "tell me we have something, anything on this case?"
Amy shrugged, "We found this lighter near the car. Could have been the same one used to start our blaze."
"Julio was talking to the arson guy before the blast hit, maybe they could tell us what caused it," Nolan said pointing at the charred wreckage behind him.
"Do they have any idea whether it was the car or the building that went up first?" Provenza asked.
Nolan shrugged his shoulders, "That's a Julio question."
Provenza made a mental note of all the things he'd need to circle back to Julio with later, "Anything on our victim or the car?"
Tao pulled out his notes, "I managed to get a rubbing of the VIN, but haven't had a chance to run it yet," Tao tilted his nose down looking over his glasses at Provenza, "But get this the victim was missing her hands and feet?"
Provenza's eyes went wide and his jaw dropped, "No" his voice nearly a whisper.
"Yeah, I know a little bit freaky don't you think?" Tao said still focusing on Provenza despite the odd looks they were getting from the two junior detectives.
"How do you know if was a female?" Provenza asked finding his voice again.
"Hip bones looked to be female, and then there's this," he held up an evidence bag containing a driver's license, "I found it in under the car."
"Well, we've relied on that before and it turned out to be wrong, so we'll need Morales to double and triple check the ID," Provenza said before grabbing the license.
Tao had recognized the name, but couldn't place it until he saw Provenza's eyes light up. That's where he had seen her, that day in the murder room. Provenza looked at Tao once more, stunned, "Are you kidding me?"
Mike pursed his lips and gave a small shake of his head, "Like you said just because it was there doesn't mean that it's actually her."
"Can't we just go one week without some nut job trying to make our lives miserable," he shouted out rhetorically.
"What do you want us to do?" Amy asked, very curious about why the two Lieutenants were seemingly so familiar with the manner of death and even the victim, but having learned in six years to keep her mouth shut employed that knew skill instead. She'd find out eventually.
"I'm going to call the Commander and let her know about Buzz. In the meantime, I want you and Nolan to stay here at the scene. Mike, head back to PAB and see if you can get that stuff off Buzz's camera. We need to be extra careful on this one if all this turns out to be true," he looked up to the sky and drew a hand across his face this was going to be another nightmare, one that he wouldn't wake up from.
Mike gave him a pat on the shoulder and took possession of all the evidence, including Buzz's equipment, and walked towards the other service vehicle. Julio took the one that they arrived in, so he was using Nolan's. He and Amy could catch a ride back with Provenza or patrol later.
Not for the first time in less than a month Provenza pulled out his phone to deliver some less than desirable news, "Ah, yes, Commander. Well we have a situation—"