Title: A Long Road
Feedback address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date in Calendar: 21 June 2011
Fandom: The Division, CSI, & Glee via the LWM universe
Pairing: Dace/Catherine, mention of Dace/Lee
Word Count: 2505
Summary: Dace and Catherine pick up hitchhikers while out for a drive.
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC:DD11
Disclaimer: "CSI: Crime Scene Investigators," the characters, and situations depicted are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer Television, Alliance Atlantis, and CBS Productions. "The Division," the characters, and situations depicted are the property of Lifetime Television, Kedzie Productions, Viacom Productions, and Paramount. "Glee", the characters and situations depicted are the property of Ryan Murphy Productions, Twentieth Century Fox Television, and Fox Network. This piece of fan fiction was created for entertainment not monetary purposes. Previously unrecognized characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author. This site is in no way affiliated with "CSI: Crime Scene Investigators," The Division,", "Glee," their owners, or any representatives of the actors.
Author's Notes: This came out of a dare from Geekgirllurking that has be plaguing the hell out of me for weeks! I could not come up with a good idea for Dace and Catherine picking up a hitchhiker while out for a drive. Unexpectedly, only a couple days ago, I got a brainstorm and here it is. Regretfully, I could not figure out all the ten words given me, but I got half of them! At some later date, I hope to expand on this. After all, Noah would make a terrific sidekick for the boss lady!
The Word List:
++ Dace ++
"You really are such a child sometimes," Catherine laughs uproariously as we wail down highway 15 towards home. She's right of course, because I'm just a big kid with a shiny new toy right now.
"Hey! I don't indulge in my lofty position often," I chortle back and enjoy her leaning over to kiss my cheek. At these sorts of speeds, a friendly peck is all I'll get. All joshing aside, the car is a completely frivolous and expensive indulgence that after all my years of loyal hard work to the Hearts I've earned, dammit!
Okay, so the immaculately rebuilt 1965 Ford Mustang convertible might be some sort of muscle car cliché, but I really don't give a damn. The big block engine is loud and smooth and the big car handles like a hunting shark. The guy I bought her from really did a damn nice job.
"I still can't believe there were 8 track tapes in this thing."
"And a matching player!"
It's been hilarious for both of us to indulge in the scratchy collection, Boston currently wailing away in the hot desert air. Both of us have enjoyed the trip to Montana and back again, but we're anxious to get home. It's Summer Solstice and there will be much good juju goin' on at home. The magical types in the clan always have some fun stuff for us as a family and I'm certain this solstice will be no exception. Even this miserable heat wave baking most of North America won't slow down the festivities. After all, a body can't live in the Mohave and be put off by the dry bake of the desert.
Every mile closer to home soothes my restless cat of a soul. It's always like this, the going away for a new adventure is an irresistible need, but makes the return all the sweeter. Having Catherine along always makes the adventure, no matter how dangerous or benign, even better. As tough sensing my wandering thoughts, a small, loving hand curls around my upper thigh to rest there peacefully. Tonight will a raucous gambol with family followed up with a far more intimate romp with my beloved mate.
Something jars through my consciousness, making the car skip uncertainly before responding instantly to my correction. Slowing, I pull to the shoulder in a cloud of dust and cast out my enhanced senses. Silently, the coyote at my side watches and guards me as she always does.
This sort of hunt is routine now, the processing of a mass of stimuli that would be foreign and overpowering to almost any other human. Smell, taste, the direction of the wind on my skin, distant movement across the terrain; all of these are a language I know intimately now. Even if sorting through the information is an effort sometimes. Exiting the car, I test the wind, reading the scents as clearly as any language. I know the threads of smell, I know I do; but what is it?
"Someone I know has been here," I murmur half to Catherine and half to myself. "But I don't know them."
Like flipping though a book, or more accurate, a library, my memories filter through thousands and thousands of people I have known in my life. As a child, it was a survival trick, as a cop it was a necessity and as a Sentinel, it is instinct. I never forget a scent. I can't forget a scent, even if I want to.
There are two scents, frightened and tired and irritated, a male and a female. Then a whiff of gasoline catches my attention and I glance back the way we've come. Dialing up my eyes like the most powerful of binoculars, I follow the ribbon of asphalt and see it, dim and boxy in the shadows of a distant bridge. The nose of a truck in a dry riverbed.
"They're walking along the freeway."
Waving Cath to take the driver's seat, we switch out and I note the mile marker ahead of us at a distance. Once settled in, we're off in a whirl of dust and horsepower. "Who is?" she finally asks a question and I reroute a few braincells to answer.
"I can't place the reference yet, but it'll click into place I'm sure. Just keep an eye out for a male and female, probably somewhat young if I'm right."
"Aren't you always?"
Only a few minutes pass before I see distant figures along the freeway. Poor things must be dying in this heat! Luckily for me and unlucky for them, no one has pulled over to pick them up yet. Nor have they walked far enough to endanger their health. Both of them jump when Catherine pulls up behind them with an audible shower of gravel and dirt.
In an instant it clicks into place as I half stand in the car to call out over the windshield. "Quinn? Noah? You look like you need a ride."
To say the kids look nonplussed would be an understatement. The part of me that thrives on chaos chortles in mad glee at their astonishment, but my expression stays neutral.
"I'm Shelby's boss, Dace Bogart."
More long moments pass before Noah swallows hard and heads over to the dust marred Mustang, unable to keep his dark eyes off the cherry antique. He's a good-looking bastard, with body language that is only surface macho. Oh, do I know some Tops that would love to get a piece of him! Then Quinn follows hesitantly, unable to resist the offer of succor. She's a pricklier package and wants to be braver than she really is. Ah, I remember being that young and insecure…
"How?" Is all Noah can manage to get out and I grin reassuringly.
"I have a gift with coincidence. Bumping into you two out in the middle of godforsaken nowhere isn't even in the top twenty of the weird flukes that have happened to us. This is Catherine Willows, my partner."
Both nod distractedly, still pretty discombobulated. It's kinda sweet, these two small town kids reduced to such rabbit-like hesitantly.
"You do need a ride, don't you?" I ask in my gentlest mom-tone and that seems to shake them out of their shock.
"Yeah, thanks," Noah says and steps away so that I can open the door and climb out to make room for them. There's also a quietly murmured thanks from Quinn as she clambers into the back seat and sighs heavily in relief. I mournfully eye the clinging dust on my gleaming new toy as Catherine hits the button that sets the roof in motion. "Stuff sticks like your damn fingerprint dust," I grumble at Catherine who laughs at me.
The chill of the air conditioning roars quietly to life as I climb in beneath the closed roof and it's a relief from the pervasive heat. Catherine floors the big engine up to freeway speeds, pressing all of us into the leather seats. Once we settle back into the drive, I twist to eye the quiet teens in my backseat.
"Sweet ride," Noah says lamely, trying to not act as weirded out as he clearly is.
"Thanks. We're just driving back from Montana where I picked up from a collector. A present to myself."
Before any more conversation can happen, my phone buzzes urgently and I recognize the song for the Collective. It's Marty on the other end and he quickly gets to the point after I greet him tersely. "God," I bitch at the speaker. "More of them? If these damn tornados don't back the fuck off, they'll be nothing left of the southern territory." Wisely, my staff member remains silent on the other end, knowing full well that I need a moment to think. "Okay, get into that Convex fund we have set up with the Spades and I'll call the Archangels myself to explain. That 10 million ought to bolster up our corner of the local economy. We'll get it back eventually when people need to decompress. Thanks for the call, Marty. Oh, on a lighter note, can you get a rig out to east of Mesquite on fifteen to bring in a dead pick up? It's on west bound around mile marker two ninety four. Thanks. Yeah, we'll be back in a couple hours."
After a quick goodbye, I can return my attention to my companions. Catherine smiles sympathetically and pats my leg before returning her attention to the road. The teens look intimidated and freaked out again and I smile thinly. "It's a big business."
"How did you know us?" a new voice, sweetly girlish asks after some time in a faintly uncomfortable quiet.
"I recognized your smell," I answer, seized by the spirit of perversity. Catherine's sharp look warns me to behave. "It's hard to explain, but I have a very acute sense of smell. Better than most dogs. Your scents stick to your letters and presents to Beth and I got a few stray molecules over time. Shelby will be glad to see you both."
"Cool," Noah mumbles and we once more lapse into silence. It's pretty rare that I'm not quizzed over my enhanced senses and I'm a little bemused by the lack. Catherine has switched our soundtrack from the novelty of the 8-track player to the satellite radio and the teens perk up as a new song fills the car. It's not that it's one of the most well known Journey songs that catches my ear, but the reactions of my unexpected passengers. With a glance, Quinn and Noah are instantly caught up in the familiar strains, nearly vibrating with the need to participate.
All they needed is the encouragement, swinging into the classic with surprisingly talented gusto. The transformation is marvelous and warms me completely. My delight is echoed on Catherine's face and the ride has improved considerably.
Rather than talk, we pass the rest of the drive in song. Well, the kids mostly sing and I chime in here and there. Frankly, they're better singers than I, though years of lessons have made me pretty good. Turns out Noah has every song their glee club has ever performed on his iPod and it keeps them occupied and relaxed as Las Vegas begins to appear from the desert. It's always seems like a mirage, watching the trappings of civilization slowly rise from the stark Mohave, cumulating at the forest of tall buildings clustered about the Strip. Neither teen speaks, but their small noises between songs are full of wonder. As major cities go, there are more impressive than the City of Sin, but this is still a far cry from Lima, Ohio.
"New York was amazing, but this sprawls out forever," Quinn muses and I once more turn to look over my shoulder. "We were just there for Nationals," she explains at my curious look and I nod admiringly.
"Nationals. Nice. I was never good enough at anything to make it to a national challenge. Where'd you place?"
"Out of fifty," Noah adds in almost belligerently and I swallow a grin. He's such a boy. The mildly disgusted look Quinn flashes him assures me that my fellow tow-head agrees with my silent assessment.
"New York goes up," I muse conversationally, wanting to keep them relaxed and maybe even chatty. "I'm from the west coast and out here we sprawl out because of all the room."
"Have you been to New York?"
Quinn's fishing and it's kinda cute. She's not nearly as discrete as she thinks she is. "Several times a year for business and family. Fascinating place, but intimidating." Both teens nod and their attention is drawn away as we leave the freeway and move through town. It's deep into tourist season and Catherine avoids the crowds with easy expertise. "You'll get a crack at the Strip once we sort out your truck," I smile at Noah and he looks relieved.
"Thanks again for bailing us out."
"My pleasure. After all, we're practically family."
Arriving at home base halts any more chatting as the security Hound waves us through after a careful glance both at the car and the monitors in the booth. I recognize the guy and it's both reassuring and makes me wonder what he did to get stuck with scut work. Ah well, not my problem; not directly anyway. Besides, it's back to business now and the phone should buzz in three, two, one.
Like a familiar shirt, the role of the King of Hearts settles over me and I'm out of the car the moment it pulls into my parking spot. The details of what Darcy is saying to me files itself away as she speaks into my ear about what I've missed in the last few days. By the time I reach the second security checkpoint at the offices, we've sorted the bulk of it out.
Except for one important detail that flies at me like a golden retriever in full 'I love you' mode.
In fact I actually drop the phone in my effort to catch the squealing body tackle that rocks me back on my heels. Really, you'd think after so many years I'd be used to it, but the minx gets me. Every single time.
After a quick, high-pitched, "hi Daddy!" I'm kissed silly while Catherine and Darcy laugh and laugh and laugh. An imperious finger to the forehead frees me up for a deep breath and I grin happily at my favorite drop in and out of my life pet. "Hi, Kitten. This is a nice surprise." Then I grin wryly at the gawking Ohio teens behind me. "Not Shelby, but it's hard to tell, eh?"
Right on cue, the woman in question steps around the corner, arms full of a wiggly Beth. "I see my good twin found you," she snarks and I laugh.
"Oh, I've missed your delicate wit, evil one," I sass her back and Beth squeals happily.
No matter how many times a child is delighted to see me, I never, ever take it for granted. Lee releases her python hold so that I can accept a toddling charge from the child headed my way. "I've missed you, Apple Cheeks!"
Babbling baby talk, the sweet smell of toddler and the scents of a peanut-butter lunch are at least as nice a welcome home as Lee's attack. It makes me ache for my own babies and I vow to get out of work as soon as humanly possible. After sloppy kisses, I promise to spend a bit of time with Beth before handing her back to Shelby and giving the Ohio teens a last look. This reunion is not my place, but I give them a warm grin of encouragement. Shelby, for all her prickles, will take good care of all parties.
In the meantime, I have a playmate and a family to get back too!