The Birthday Girl

Written by Luna

September 14, 1994

Kay looked up as her partner placed the cardboard box on her desk. "What's this?"

"Your birthday present." He sat down across from her. "Open it."

She studied it, sniffed, and sighed. "Come on, Beau. Munch already got me doughnuts."

"It's not doughnuts."

"It smells like doughnuts."

"It's not doughnuts, Howie. Open it already, would ya?"

She opened the flap and her eyes widened in surprise. Most of what was inside was a mass of chocolate icing and yellow crumbs, with candles sticking out in wild directions. "Cupcakes?"

Beau grinned proudly. "The kids helped me make them this morning. Count the candles."

She did, quickly, and smiled. "Thirty-four."

"No, you missed one in the corner. There's also one to grow on." He reached out and snagged a blob of frosting with one finger.

"Cut it out," she said, drawing the box close to her.

"Come on, I only had a bite."

"Yeah, well, it's my present."

"You better hide it before everybody else gets here, then. It won't last." Beau tried to grab the box from her.

Kay snatched it away again and placed it carefully in her drawer. "I'd put it in the fridge, but it would probably disappear. Did you get the M.E.'s report on Baxter?"

He held up the papers. "Signed, sealed, delivered. Hey, you could stash the cupcakes down there. They'd stay nice and cold."

"You think they'd be safe around Scheiner?" Kay's eyes twinkled.

"You have a point there. I don't know about that guy. He's-- "

"Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you!"

They looked up. Lewis and Crosetti were hovering over them, decked out in ludicrously small pink party hats. Meldrick was blowing on a plastic kazoo to accompany his partner in song.

"Happy *birthday*, dear Howard.... Happy birthday to you." Kay burst out laughing, and Beau applauded. Crosetti continued to rhapsodize. "And many more... on channel four... and..."

"Guys," Kay said, through chuckles, "Thanks. Really. But that's enough, huh?"

"More than enough," Meldrick said, removing his party hat and rubbing beneath his chin where the elastic strap had been.

"It was quite a duet," Felton praised them teasingly. "I'm gonna get you two on the radio. I'm gonna to be your manager."

Crosetti handed Kay a scrap of paper. "That's an I.O.U. for a drink sometime. Sometime when I'm not behind on the rent."

"All this and a song too," Kay mused. "What'd I do to deserve you guys?"

"You must've been a saint in your last life," Crosetti said.

"Or do you only believe in ghosts?" Meldrick asked.

Kay looked at him sternly. "Go away."

"Happy birthday, Detective Scooby Doo." He nudged his partner. "Let's go pick up DeShawn Peltier."

"Another thing," Crosetti said, as they crossed the squadroom. "Samuel Mudd had the same birthday as--"

Meldrick groaned. "Not again. You really are a salami-brain."

Kay shook her head to herself. "Must be something in the coffee."

"I'm offended," Beau deadpanned. "Here I go to great lengths to make your present--"

"Your kids probably did most of the work."

"I was spending quality time with them."

"And all you did was dump in the cake mix, right?"

He chuckled. "Do you ever stop being a detective?"

"Not in the middle of the day."

"I didn't think so."

Bayliss walked by, engrossed in reading a case file, and almost walked into a desk. "Watch it," Kay called.

"What? Oh. Thanks. Hey, Munch said it was your birthday today."

She nodded. "Well, Munch is always up on his current events."

"I wish I'd known ahead of time. I'd've bought you lunch or something."

"Well. Thanks, Tim."

He looked down shyly. "You're welcome."

"Bayliss!" an unmistakable voice shouted from just outside the squadroom. "Let's go, let's go, let's go!"

"In a minute, Frank!" Tim yelled back.

"I'm aging here!"

"I said I'm coming!" He glanced back at Kay. "Have a good one."

She smiled as he hurried out. "Well. That was sweet."

"That kid," Beau declared, "is soft in the head."

"Oh, leave him alone. At least he works hard, huh? That's more than I can say for--"

He changed the subject quickly. "So what are you doing tonight?"


He raised his eyebrows. "You're lying."

"I'm not--"

"You have a date, don't you?"

"It's none of your business, Beau."

"You do!" He smirked. "Short, pasty, and handsome."

"Give it a rest, would you? For one day, is all I'm asking."

"Not until you confess--"

The phone rang. They stared at each other for a moment.

"You want me to take it?" Beau asked.

She shrugged. "If you want. I don't care."

"Does that mean you don't think it'll go down?" He looked suspicious. "Wouldn't you take it if you thought it was a dunker? Or are you just trying to lull me into a false sense of security?"

"Beau!" She rolled her eyes, exasperated. "Either pick up the phone, or don't, but make up your mind, huh?"

"You're the birthday girl." He gestured at the phone. "This one's for you."

"Thanks," she said wryly, picking up the receiver. "Homicide, Detective Howard."

As Beau wandered away to get their coats, Kay jotted down an address. She started to stand up, then opened her desk drawer, reaching for the box of cupcakes. She took out one candle and licked the chocolate frosting from it.

"One to grow on," she murmured to herself. She closed the drawer and walked away.

"Ready to go?" Beau called.