Written by Luna

Author's note:I'm tellin' ya, baby, they ain't mine. This is just a quickie I was in the mood to write. Props to Dar Williams for the opening and closing lyrics, and to Jess (is there a hyphen in salami brain?).


*We have lost people, haven't we both? Oh, that's all the ocean can know of a body, And that's when I came back to town. This town is a song about you -- You don't know how lucky you are....*


It had been a good two weeks, Kellerman thought, as he killed the motor. He hadn't had to deal with a single stalker or embezzling employee, and the closest thing he'd seen to dueling spouses was a trio of chittering dolphins when he'd circled back around in the Gulf. It had been easy. It had been peaceful.

It was over.

He stepped off the boat for the first time since the Carolina coast, and stretched in the late afternoon sunlight. There was a slight chill in the air, and Mike was glad of his leather jacket. He was also out of food, and he walked up from the harbor with a specific target in mind.

The small deli was, as always, crowded, and he waited on the line for long enough that the smells were driving him crazy. Eventually, he made it up to the counter.

"Two corned beef sandwiches on rye, a side of coleslaw, and a Pepsi."

"Gonna be about fifteen minutes on the coleslaw," the kid behind the counter said.

Mike glared at him. "You've got to be kidding."

The kid blinked apathetically. "You still ordering it?"

"Yeah, I waited this long." As the kid walked away, Mike added, under his breath, "Asshole."

"Is that the hunger talking?" a familiar voice asked from behind him.

He spun around. "Sergeant Howard."

"Kellerman." She smiled at him. "Best Irish deli in the city, huh?"

He returned the smile. "Yeah. You could die of starvation before they serve you, though. You just coming off shift?"

"Too long a shift," Kay said ruefully. "My partner's the only cop in Baltimore who never wants to stop for lunch. Something must be wrong with him."

"I don't know. I seem to remember getting some grief from you one time for stopping to eat."

"With a prisoner in custody, it's a different story, huh? I was ready to kill you and--"

The name hung between them for a few seconds, unspoken but intensely present.

"Seems like a really long time ago," Mike said, at length.

"It was," she replied bluntly.

"Yeah," he admitted. "A long few years."

"Hey, are you gonna order or what?" the counter-boy demanded of Kay.

"Turkey and Swiss on white, and a cup of tomato soup."

"Ten minutes."

Kay shrugged and looked Mike over. "Hey, you look good. Got a bit of a tan there."

"Thanks." He started to explain the spur-of-the-moment vacation, then decided to put it simply. "I was out on the ocean."

"That sounds wonderful," she said wistfully. "I spend too much time in this city. I need to get out to Rocky Point more."

"You should do it," Mike said. "Cops work too hard."

Kay studied his face for a moment, trying to tell whether there had been bitterness in his words. She didn't sense any. "The PI life's treating you well, huh?" she said lightly. "I meant to say something the last time I saw you, but--"

"Brodie walked in."

"Yeah." Kay sighed. "And I didn't see you at the funeral."

"I didn't go. I wanted to, but--"

"I know." She rubbed her neck wearily with one hand. "I would have felt terrible if I didn't go, but it was really awkward being around his family and everything."

"I should have gone. He was great."

"He was," she agreed. "I was so angry at him after -- you know, after Beau, and then rotation. I was too stubborn and bitter to talk with him again."

He nodded in sympathy. "Hard to get around that."

"What about you?"

Mike shrugged. "I kind of had to swim back to the surface. Getting out of the department probably saved my life, though if you'd've tried telling me that back then--"

"Do you miss it?" Kay asked soberly.

"Sometimes. You?"

"I like Fugitive," she mused. "I spend less time driving a desk than I used to. I like the guys I work with, if I could ever get a chance to stop and eat. But, yeah, I miss the old days sometimes. And you know, my Lieutenant's a prick. Gee was one of the good guys."

"Yeah," Mike said sadly. "So..."


"So why didn't we see him before he died?"

Kay bit her lip. "It's like I said, huh? Stubborn and bitter."

"Yeah." He studied his hands. "Well, people change."

"That's the truth." She frowned. "I thought I'd always love being a cop, you know? I still do, but these days I get tired a lot more."

"You can't quit," he told her. "If you leave, the entire department will fall apart like a house of cards."

Kay chuckled softly. "It's halfway there already. You know...."


"You should talk to Lewis sometime."

His face clouded. "I know."

The kid marched up to the counter and deposited a paper bag in front of Mike. "Two corned beef, coleslaw, Pepsi."

"Thanks," Mike said, picking his order up. He looked at Kay. "It was nice seeing you."

"You too."

"No, I mean it was really nice." He broke into a warm grin. "Next time you get tired, give me a call. I'll take you out on a cruise."

"I may take you up on that," Kay said. They both knew she wouldn't, but she smiled back at him anyway. "Enjoy your food."

"You too."

"If I ever get it," she said, with a wry glance at the unmanned cash register.

Mike nodded, raised his free hand in farewell, and headed for the door. Just outside the deli, he paused, looking back through the window. Kay was leaning on the counter, resting her chin thoughtfully in her hand. He turned away from the brilliant red of her hair, and saw the same color in the sunset as he strolled back in the direction of the water.


*And the ones that can know you so well Are the ones that can swallow you whole I have a good, and I have an evil I thought the ocean, the ocean thought nothing You are a welcoming back from the ocean....*