Bored at home and behind on paperwork at the station, Derek walked into the precinct around nine.
“Go home, Hale. It’s your day off,” Detective Graeme sassed him as soon as he sat down at his desk.
“Changed of plans, Tara. I got bored.” He took a sip from his coffee, his third cup of the day. Derek might not talk very much, but over the years his reticence had turned him into someone who noticed the subtle changes in facial expressions and body language; he could read both quite well. So, when Tara tapped her pen on her desk, when her lip twitched, he knew, just knew she was itching to tell him something. “Spit it out.”
“A little bird told me that a certain little sister of yours is expecting again.”
Derek plucked one of his case files out of his file cabinet. He and Argent had been working on a triple homicide for the past few weeks. They had a difference of opinions on it. His partner was convinced it was mob related, and Derek, having little experience with organized crime, was not itching to jump to that conclusion before he was sure. “And by little bird, you mean my mother was in here waving the sonogram picture around again, don’t you?”
Tara smirked. “Yep.”
“When was this?” He studied the crime scene photos carefully as he waited for her answer. There was definitely something ritualistic about the murders, but when you started throwing the words ‘serial killer’ around, people tended to interfere. On that count, both he and Argent agreed.
“Yesterday. You should have seen it. So happy. You know...”
Without looking up, he knew he’d see her wide-eyed expression as she hoped he’d pick up on her line of conversation. “Spit it out.”
“When are you going to give her some grandchildren?”
With a groan, he sat back in his chair and tossed his head back. “Between Maria, Laura, and Cora there are plenty of grandchildren.”
He looked over to see his partner, Chris Argent, flop down in his chair at the desk across from him.
“Oh, but your mother could always use one more, Hale. I must say, I think you’d be a radiant mother-to-be.”
“Shut up, Argent.”
Tara smiled. “I’m just saying, it’s your job to carry on the family name.”
“I’m fairly certain being a good parent requires actually being home to take care of the kid, Tara. Sixty hour work weeks don’t really lend themselves to raising a child.”
“You’re telling me,” Argent said, rolling his chair over to look at the case file with him. Now, Derek did not particularly like people in his personal space, Stiles excepted, but he begrudgingly admitted that a certain level of space invasion was necessary when solving crimes. “My biggest regret from when Allison was younger was that I worked too much. I mean, now she’s an adult, and we hardly see her.”
“What does she do again, Chris?” Tara asked.
“Competitive shooter, training for her second Olympics. We’d love to have grandchildren by now, but Allison is very career focused. Hale here is clearly cut of the same cloth, dedicated to his job. Besides, you have to have someone to have children with first.”
“Who says I don’t?” Derek grumbled into his coffee.
“What was that?”
“I asked if we could talk about something else. I don’t really like to talk about my personal life.”
“Yeah, why is that? Closet full of skeletons? Moonlighting as a masked vigilante?”
Derek glared him. “Not really any of your business either way is it? Look, I didn’t like my last partner. Please don’t make me hate you as well.”
“Fair enough.” Argent rolled back to his desk to pick up a case file, before coming back to let it fall onto Derek’s desk with a clap.
Derek pushed it off the crime scene photos with his pen. “What is this?”
“So, I did some digging yesterday, and these three murders are a bit similar to another three from eighteen months ago. Made some calls to some of my informants around town, and I’m telling you, Hale, this is mob related.”
Derek flipped through the report, eyes hovering over a name that kept popping up. “Who’s the Darach?”
“Best I can tell through my research is...a hitman. Thankfully, I don’t think we’ll need to call in the feds just yet, I mean, not until we can definitively say it’s the result of organized crime, because when I searched on these parameters, I only got hits in the city. So that’s good. I ever tell you how much I hate the Feds? With their cheap suits and entitled attitudes- Anyway, it’s a theory I think we should pursue.”
Derek nodded in agreement. It was a sound theory, and they didn’t have too much else go on. So, the two of them continued pouring over the files, seeing if they could find anything. At one point, because it was clearly a slow day for her, Detective Graeme rolled her chair over and joined in.
Finally, over an hour later, Derek’s eyes fell on a detail from the most recent case. “I think we need to go talk to the neighbor again. She mentioned seeing the same person on the block several times in the days before the murders, and that they looked out of place. Something about having a good memory for faces and not recognizing this one. Maybe she remembered something else.”
Argent picked his coat up from the back of his chair. “We got no other leads.”
On their way out of the building, Derek’s phone rang in his pocket, and he pulled it out, answering it without looking. “Detective Hale here.”
Stiles’ bright voice soon filled his ears. “I love it when you sound so official. Really turns me on.”
Before he could stop himself, the corners of his mouth pulled up. “Hey. How’s it going?”
“Oh my god, Der...why did I agree to come to work today? It’s been a madhouse. I just finished up on a hit and run. We...he didn’t make it.”
Derek could picture Stiles’ face. As with most, probably all doctors, Stiles hated when he lost a patient. There would be a furrow in his brow, a bit of sadness in his eyes. “Aww, I’m sorry.”
“What can I say? He was brought in with massive head trauma. I’m surprised he even made it to the hospital. Anyway, Dr. Martin has given me a long lunch because I came in on my day off. I would kill for a margherita pizza from Bobby’s. Wanna be my lunch date? Since I can already tell you I won’t be home for that beautiful dinner you planned. I have two more patients on my rotation before I can get out, but…” Derek could hear him tapping at something. “They look pretty straightforward. Should only take me another hour. Whattaya say?”
“Sure. We’re heading out to talk to a witness again. So… how about noon? Sound good? I can get there a little early and get the order in before you get there.”
“You are...you’re the best, Derek. I love you.”
“I know.” He heard Stiles chuckle at his deliberate choice in words.
“Go on solve crimes, Mr. Solo.”
“See you in an hour or so.” Derek ended the call and looked over at Argent as he climbed into the passenger side. “What?”
Derek gave him a little smile. “Wouldn’t you like to know?”
“Just make sure you don’t use the wrong name. I hear women hate when you do that.”
The smile dropped off his face faster than a speeding bullet. “Excuse me?”
“Well, someone who looks the way you do has bound to have a little black book the size of the yellow pages.”
Derek scowled at him, anger set deep in his features. “Yeah, well you couldn’t be more wrong. I have no little black book, and have an excellent memory for names. Shut up and drive.”
Stiles had just finished up the cast on a broken arm and was on his way to the vending machine when someone stopped him. He spun around to find Isaac. “What can I do for you, Nurse Lahey?”
“I know you were hoping for a breather, but you have a sixteen year old female, in exam 3. Brought in after falling down on a patch of ice. Suspected concussion. Vitals are steady, and patient is stable.”
Isaac looked at him. “Ah, I see you were a good sport about the button. Fantastic. Dr. Boyd picked that one out. I wanted one that said ‘Birthday Princess’.”
“Gee thanks.” Before walking to Exam 3, he familiarized himself with his patient. Seemed pretty routine. “Good morning, Amanda. I’m Dr. Stilinski. I’ll be taking care of you this morning.” From the pocket on his lab coat, he pulled out his penlight and used it to check her pupils. “I understand you fell at the bus-stop.”
She looked at him and, though a bit out of it, gave him a dopey grin. “I got the hot doctor. Best injury ever.”
He could feel the flush spreading up the back of his neck and tried to laugh it off. Her mother, however, felt the need to apologize for her daughter.
“I am so sorry. She’s not usually-”
He waved her off. “It’s okay. Thank you.”
“Aww, it’s your birthday. I hope someone’s giving you lots of birthday kisse-”
Stiles followed her gaze to his left hand and his engagement ring (his Batman engraved engagement ring, because that was the sort of geek he was, and that was precisely the kind of geekery Derek fell in love with and encouraged).
“Lucky guy.” He corrected and continued with her initial neurological exam. “Or at least he seems to think so. If you ask me though, I’m the lucky one. Can you push up against my hand? Now, look down, then up. Any dizziness?”
She stared at him, swaying on the bed. “Wow, you have the prettiest eye-. Oh crap.”
Stiles didn’t even have time to react before Amanda emptied the contents of her stomach, all over him.
He shrugged it off. “Don’t worry about it. Not the first time it’s happened. Your initial neuro exam looks good, but I’m going to put in the order for a CT scan just in case. Concussions, even minor ones, can cause brain injury, and it is much better to be safe than sorry. Depending on what that tells us, I’m going to recommend they keep you today for observation, but that can get changed as needed. I’ll also get Nurse Lahey in here to get you some pain medication. I don’t see any allergies listed here. Is that correct?” he asked her mother.
“None that we know of.”
“Okay, Amanda. How about you lie down?” He dimmed the light above her bed. “This should help with the nausea and light sensitivity, and we’ll get you feeling better as soon as we can.”
Stiles grimaced once he was out of the exam area. He knew this kind of thing came with the territory, but it didn’t mean he had to like it. Well, at least she missed his shoes when she threw up. So there was that. Small victories.
“Blech! You smell like a bar bathroom, Stilinski. What the hell-”
“Happy Birthday to me,” he said. “You look awfully happy today, Dr. James. How’s my favorite surgical resident?”
Heather gave him a playful punch in the shoulder. “I am happy because I had the best first date yesterday. Also, I get to assist on a repair of an atrial septal defect at one. Super excited. Happy Birthday.”
He held open the door to the locker room for her, and she went over to her locker to grab a granola bar. “Thank you. I was supposed to have the day off. Just couldn’t help myself.” He shucked his soiled scrubs and stuffed them into one of the zipper bags he’d brought from home. “I have about twenty minutes before lunch. You want me to bring you back some pizza from Bobby's?” He pulled on clean clothes.
“That would be awesome. Two slices of the six cheese.”
Even with clean clothes, Stiles could still smell the faint hint of vomit. It was not his favorite cologne.