"Wouldn't that be person power?" I said, straight faced, looking her dead in the eye.
She snorted. "Oh, please, I'm not that P.C., and I don't think you are either."
"Sorry, couldn't resist."
"Besides you've worked with the police long enough to know that it usually is man power."
"Too true," I said.
"How about the police escort, or some surveillance?"
"Let me think about it," I said.
She pushed away from her desk. She didn't exactly tower over me, but she was tall. "Why won't you let us help protect you, Ms. Blake?"
"Could I have a copy of the report?"
She smiled, but it wasn't a pleasant smile. "Apply through channels, I'm sure you'll have one in a day or two."
"Can't I just use the Xerox machine?"
"No," she said.
"Because you wouldn't take police protection, which means you are hiding something."
"Maybe, but if you give me copies of the photos I might be able to I.D. them."
I shrugged. "I've got a few connections."
"You think your connections give better intelligence than the government?"
"Let's just say that I know the motives and priorities of my connections. I can't say the same for every branch of my government."
We looked at each other for a few heartbeats. "I won't try and debate this with you."
"Good, now can I have a copy of at least the photos?"
"No." And it had that ring to it of finality.
"You're being childish," I said.
She smiled, but it was more a baring of teeth, a friendly snarl. "And you're hiding something. If it comes back and bites this investigation on the ass, I'll have your badge for it."
I thought about saying try and see how far you get,but I didn't. I was new enough to the badge that I wasn't really sure what I could lose it over, and what I couldn't. I probably should look into those kinds of details.
"I don't know enough about why Heinrick was trailing me to hide anything, O'Brien."
"So you say."
I sighed and stood up. "Fine."
"Have a nice day, Blake. Go talk to your connections and see where it gets you. I'll stick with the government and Interpol." She gave an exaggerated shrug. "Call me old-fashioned."
"Suit yourself," I said.
"Just go," she said.
I opened the Jeep and heard my cell phone ringing. I kept leaving it in the car, forgetting I had it. I slid onto the warm leather of the seats, fumbling for the phone from under the seat, even as I closed the door behind me. Yeah, it would have been cooler with the door open, but I didn't want my legs hanging out the open door while I lay across the seat. Not because bad guys were after me, just normal girl paranoia.
I finally dug the phone out on the fourth and last ring before it went over to message mode. "Yeah, it's me, what?" I sounded rude and out of breath, but at least I picked up.
"Ma petite?" Jean-Claude made the word almost a question as if he wasn't a hundred percent sure he'd gotten me.
With the gearshift digging into my side, and the overheated leather against my arm, I still felt better. Better to hear his voice, better to know he'd called me first. He couldn't be all that mad at me if he called first.
"It's me, Jean-Claude, I forgot the phone in the Jeep again, sorry." I wanted to say other things, but I couldn't figure out how to get the right words out of my mouth. Part of the problem was I wasn't sure what the right words were.
"The police have taken Jason," he said.
"What did you say?"
"The police have come and taken Jason away." His voice was matter of fact, empty even. Which usually meant he was hiding a lot of emotions, none of which he wanted to share.
I moved over an inch so the gearshift wasn't stabbing me, and lay on the seats for a moment. The first hint of panic was fluttering around in my gut. "Why did they take him?" My voice sounded almost as normal and matter of fact as Jean-Claude's.
"For questioning about a murder." His empty, cultured voice said it, as if the M-word hadn't been there.
"What murder?" I asked, and my voice was getting emptier.
"Sergeant Zerbrowski said you'd figure it out. That bringing Jason to a crime scene was a bad idea. I was not aware you took anyone on your crime scene visits."
"You make it sound like I'm visiting friends."
"I meant no insult, but why was Jason with you?"
"I wasn't feeling well enough to drive, and the police didn't want to wait for me to feel better."
"Why were you unwell enough not to drive?"
"Well, it seemed to be because Asher took a hell of a lot of blood. And I was having a bad reaction to having my mind rolled. It left me feeling a bit sick."
"How sick?" he asked, and there was a note of something in his empty voice now, something I couldn't quite place.
"I fainted a couple of times, and threw up, okay? Now let's concentrate on the current crisis. Did they actually arrest Jason?"
"I could not get a good sense of that, but I think not. They did take him away in restraints, though."
"That's standard with any known, or suspected, lycanthropes," I said. I pushed myself up, so I could sit on the seat instead of lying across it. The front of a Jeep just wasn't made for lying across. "You do know that if they didn't arrest him then he's free to walk out of questioning at any time?"
"It is a pretty theory, ma petite," now he sounded tired.
"It's the law," I said.
"Perhaps for humans," he said, voice mild.
I couldn't keep the indignation out of my voice. "The law applies to everyone, Jean-Claude, that's the way the system works."
He gave a soft laugh, and for once it was just a laugh with nothing otherworldly about it. "You are not usually so naive, ma petite."
"If the law doesn't apply evenly to everybody, then it doesn't work at all."
"I will not argue this with you, ma petite."
"If Zerbrowski picked him up, I know where they took Jason. I'm not that far from RPIT headquarters."
"What are you going to do?" he asked, voice still holding the soft edge of his laughter.
"Get Jason out," I said, buckling on my seat belt, and trying to pin the phone against my shoulder enough to start the Jeep.
"Do you think that is possible?" he asked.
"Sure," I said, and nearly dropped the phone, but I got the Jeep started. I seemed to be having a little trouble coordinating everything today.
"You sound so confident, ma petite."
"I am confident." I was, the fluttering feeling in my stomach wasn't. "I've got to go."
"Good fortune, ma petite,I hope you rescue our wolf."
"I'll do my best."
"Of that, there is little doubt. Je t'aime, ma petite."
"I love you, too." We hung up, at least we'd ended with I love you. It was better than screaming at each other. I dropped the phone on the seat beside me and put the Jeep in gear.
One emergency at a time. Save Jason, contact some people I knew to see if they knew anything about Heinrick, then prepare for the big banquet with Musette and company. Oh, and figure out how to keep the mess with Asher from driving a permanent wedge between Jean-Claude and me. Just another day in my life. This was one of those days when I thought that maybe a new life, a different life, wouldn't be so bad. But where the hell had I put the receipt, and could you return something that was over twenty years old? Where do you go to get a new life when your old one has you so puzzled you don't know how to fix it? Wish I knew.
No one stopped me at the door. No one stopped me at the stairs. In fact, people kept saying, "Hi, Anita, how you doing?" I wasn't an official member of the Regional Preternatural Investigation Team, but I'd worked with them all for so long that I was like the office furniture, something that was there, accepted, even expected.
It was Detective Jessica Arnet that finally said something to me that wasn't just, hi. "Where's that cutie you always have in tow?"
"Which one?" I asked.
She laughed at that, and blushed a little. It was the blush that got my attention. She always flirted with Nathaniel, but I'd never thought much about it, until I saw her blush.