Morning briefing for the boys in Traffic tended to be little rowdy. Everyone would gab about the broad they met at the bar that weekend, something precocious that little Jimmy brought up at the dinner table, or just some jackass they pulled over for speeding. But there was one man in particular who was missing from this scene. Cole looked at the empty chair next to him and began to drum his fingers against the desk. He’d have to give Stefan a lecture about being punctual later on.
“Alright, boys and girls, settle down.” Captain Leary smirked as he made his way to the front podium. He took a quick glance about the room.
“I see Bekowsky is running a bit behind this--”
“Sorry to hold up show, Captain.” A grinning Stefan slipped through the door, holding a mug a coffee. He gave Cole a small nod before taking his usual seat next to him.
The very first thing that Cole noticed was that his partner’s smile had an almost...mischievous air behind it. It wasn’t all that unusual for him to have small grin on his face during morning briefing. But, today it seemed almost...sly. It also didn’t quite help that Cole could have sworn that the right side of Stefan’s suit jacket looked sort of...lumpy. He did his best to put those thoughts aside and just focus on what Leary was saying up in front.
“--which just leaves Rimsky and O’Halloran. Ray Pinker needs to have a chat with you boys before you head out. Any questions?”
In that brief moment of silence, there was but one, slightly muffled noise:
Leary and the other detectives looked about the room in confusion. Cole cast a suspicious sideways glance at Stefan, who in turn responded with wiggle of his eyebrows before taking a calm sip of his coffee.
“Well...you all have assignments, don’t ya? Hop to it!” Leary said before striding out of the room.
With that, Bekowsky made a beeline for the detective offices. Cole was in hot pursuit behind him, secretly praying to God above that his suspicions wouldn’t be proven true in the next few moments. His eyes quickly darted around the room. Luckily, the few detectives that were already in here were either preoccupied with paperwork, or out of earshot on the other side of the room. Regardless, Cole positioned himself next to Stefan’s right side, forming an additional wall to block any prying eyes that potentially walked by.
“Please do not tell me that you seriously smuggled a cat in here.” Cole said in a low voice.
“Alright. I did not smuggle a cat in here.” Stefan said, gingerly placing his mug down on his desk. Cole squinted his eyes.
“Bekowsky, I don’t--”
“It’s a kitten. There’s a difference.”
Before Phelps really had a chance to respond, Bekowsky had already reached into his jacket and carefully placed a small, gray, fluffy mass down on his desk. The kitten looked up at the two men with wide eyes before it stood up and stretched, relieved to be out of the confines of Stefan’s jacket pocket for so long. Cole blinked a few times in disbelief before pinching the bridge of his nose in agitation. It was a good thing he kept ibuprofen in his desk. Bekowsky scratched behind the kitten’s ear, who began to purr in response.
“He’s an adorable little bastard, ain’t he, Cole?”
Phelps had to admit, at least not out loud, that the little furball did look sort of cute. But he couldn’t let that, or anything else, distract him right now.
“I’m sorry, but you can’t keep him, Stefan.” Cole said sternly.
“Aw, c’mon, Phelps. Reach into that empty cavity you call a heart for once. I just saved little Cole Jr. here from the streets, don’t make me dump him back out there.”
Phelps raised his eyebrows.
“Why on earth did you name this cat after me, Bekowsky?”
Stefan took a quick look around the room before dangling a rubber band in front of Cole Jr. for him to swat at.
“No reason, really.” he answered with a soft smile, “You’re both cute, that’s all.”
Bekowsky smirked at the light blush that crossed his partner’s face.
“So, can we keep him? Please? Just for today? I’ll be sure to feed him and clean up after him.” Stefan said in a faux pleading tone.
Cole almost hated how his partner (in both senses of the word) was blatantly trying to butter him up. He hated even more that it was working.
“Fine. But only for today. And you better have a place to hide him, otherwise we’ll both be reprimanded.”
Stefan opened one of the lower drawers of his desk, closer to the wall, and cleared its contents. He then placed today’s newspaper in the bottom and placed Cole Jr. inside.
“There. How’s that?”
Cole watched as the kitten sniffed at the newsprint.
“He might not stay in there for very long. And besides, he still probably needs to be fed.”
“Well, how about I run down the street and grab him something? You can just sit at my desk and watch ‘em. Get started on all that paperwork junk.”
Before Cole really had a chance to protest, Stefan had already vanished out the door.
With a defeated sigh, Cole grabbed stack of papers and lowered himself into his partner’s chair. The small gray fluff ball then began to mewl at him. Cole’s eyes darted quickly around the room to ensure no one had heard it. There was now only one man in the back of the room, thankfully with his head down on his desk, apparently sleeping. Cole then slowly reached over and offered the side of his hand for Cole Jr. to sniff. The kitten quieted for a moment and cautiously padded over to investigate. Once Junior had sniffed at his hand few times, Phelps decided to try giving the little guy a pet behind the ears like he had seen Stefan do. The kitten responded by playfully nibbling at his fingers and attempting to grapple his hand with tiny claws. It didn’t really hurt that much by any means, but it was enough for Cole to pull his hand away.
Looks like this little guy still has some energy to burn off.
He then looked around at Bekowsky’s rather cluttered desk for something else for Cole Jr. to play with before settling on a stray pen cap. He dropped it into the desk drawer. It didn’t take long for the him to start wrestling and swatting his paws at it, sending it rattling all around the tiny drawer. Cole watched on, a small smile forming. While he still thought of himself as more of a dog person, Phelps had to admit the little fella was kind of growing on him...maybe this whole thing wasn’t so--
A hand suddenly plopped onto his shoulder, making him jump. He whipped around to see a grinning Stefan holding a paper bag from the grocery store down the street.
“Having fun with Junior there, partner?” he smirked as Cole recomposed himself and made his way back to his own chair.
“Getting this paperwork done on time is my priority, Bekowsky. You should strive to do the same.”
“Well, my priority right now is making sure little Cole Jr. here is well fed.” He took out a can of tuna before crumpling up the paper bag and tossing it in the trash.
Cole raised an eyebrow.
“I don’t suppose you have a can opener in that mess you call a desk, do you?”
Stefan gave a knowing smirk.
“I’ll have you know that I do. And it just so happens to be…” He opened one of the right hand drawers and reached in his hand. He shuffled around the contents before furrowing his brow. He then opened a different drawer. And then another. His smirk had now melted into a confused frown.
“Dammit…” he hissed, “I left it the glove compartment….I’ll be right back.”
Before Cole had a chance to really ask why his partner had a can opener in his car, he was gone again.
Being more careful to keep an eye out for his return, Cole waited a moment before slipping back into Stefan’s chair. Cole Jr. was still happily tossing around the pen cap. The crafty detective used this distraction as an opening to give the tiny cat some pets, which the small puffball seemed to appreciate. But as soon as Phelps heard those familiar footsteps from down the hall, he slipped back into his own seat. Stefan, looking slightly annoyed but with a can opener in hand, plunked back into his chair before getting to work on the tuna can.
Cole simply shook his head before going back to his paperwork...only to be snapped out of it a moments later by a hard string of swears coming from Stefan. He glanced over to the drawer with Cole Jr. in it. The small feline was happily chowing down on about half a cans worth of tuna meat on top of the newspaper. The other half of the tuna...was on Bekowsky’s knee.
The younger detective used the lid of the can to help scoop of the pile of fish from his leg.
“...tried to portion out only half of the can with the lid and give it to him but I fucked it up.” Stefan continued to grumble to himself has he cleaned up the rest of it.
As if the day could only get better, a rather tepid looking Captain Gordon Leary poked his head in the doorway.
“Bekowsky! Phelps! In my office. Now.” Leary snapped before disappearing.
Stefan quickly closed up the drawer, leaving just enough of a gap as to not totally shut Cole Jr. inside.
“Sorry, little guy...” the Pole whispered, “..We’ll be right back.”
As Cole and Stefan filed into the Captain’s office, Leary closed the door and motioned the two of them to sit down. He then strode over to his own desk and scooped up an official looking document before locking eyes with the two of them.
“Just got this bill put on my desk. Why. The fuck. Did you two clowns think it was a good idea to run over every single mailbox, bench, and light pole during that last little case of yours?”
“Captain, we were trying to stop an illegal street race from--”
Leary slammed his fist on the table, making Cole flinch a little.
“I don’t want to hear it, detective! You two bozos just cost the department over nineteen grand! Unless you two shape up, I’ll have to whore the two of you out to do one of those pin-up calendars to get that money back in the Retired Officers Fund!” A certain smell in the air caused the Captain to curl his nose in disgust.
“And which one of you two smells like fucking tuna? You know what...I don’t even care. Just scram!”
The two men didn’t need to be told twice. But, right as they returned to their desks, something troubling caught Cole’s eye.
“Stefan..is that drawer more open than it was before?”
Bekowsky quickly strode over to his desk and opened the drawer. It was empty.
“Shit! We weren’t even gone for that long, where the hell did he run off to?”
Cole’s eyes quickly scanned over the floor of the office. Nothing.
“He couldn’t have gone far. We’ll just do a sweep of the building...I’ll take the first floor if you keep searching up here.”
After about a solid half hour of searching, both men came up fruitless.
“Poor thing is probably scared to death with all these people walking around. He could
have easily gotten stepped on by somebody.”
Stefan’s face scrunched up in worry.
“And it’s not like we can just go around on our hands and knees looking under everyone’s desks. Probably get slapped by the secretaries thinking we were some perverts…”
“Wait a second…” Cole glanced over at the doors to the receiving hospital, which were wide open.
“There’s one place we haven’t looked yet.”
And there, sitting on a bench near the stairway leading down to Technical Services sat Herschel Biggs...with a sleeping Cole Jr. on his lap. The rather hardened, older detective appeared to be quietly content with the little kitten purring softly.
Cole cleared his throat awkwardly to get his attention. Herschel looked up and then shyly looked off to the side.
“Afternoon, detectives…what can I do for ya?”
“Oh, nothing...where did you happen to find that cat, Biggs?” Cole asked, trying to hide some of the relief in his voice.
“Was just sitting here and waiting for a lab report from Pinker. I found this little fella trying to hide under this bench. Not sure how long he’d been there. But I picked ‘em up and calmed him down...soon enough he just curled up and went to sleep. He wouldn’t happen to belong to either of you two, would he?”
The way Herschel said that last sentence sounded...a little disappointed.
Phelps shook his head and proceeded to fill Herschel in on everything that had happened to that point.
“...So he’s a stray is what you’re saying. Pretty friendly and healthy little guy...some bastard must have just dumped him on the street. I..don’t suppose either of you two have found a home for him?”
“I’m afraid not.” Cole answered. “You wouldn’t happen to know anyone who’d be willing to take him in?”
“Unless...you’d want him, Biggs?” Stefan added.
The older man looked down at the still sleeping kitten with a soft smile.
“Suppose I could. Kind of missed having a pet around the house. Does this fella have a name already?”
Stefan flashed a slightly embarrassed grin.
“His name is uh, Cole Jr.. But, you’re free to give him a new name if you want.”
“I’ll keep the Junior bit, how about that?”
“Sounds perfectly fine to me.” Cole smiled.
After Herschel got what he needed from Technical Services, he scooped up little Junior
and said his farewell and thanks to the two detectives. While they were both a little saddened to see the little guy go so soon, they couldn’t have asked for a happier ending.