Partners and Friends
Written by Maggie the Cat

"Beau. We got a shooting in Federal Hill Park. Let's go."

"Just one second, Kay--I'm nearly done...."

"Come /on/, Beau. We don't need the body getting any colder, huh?"

Beau Felton crammed the rest of his meatloaf sandwich into his mouth and followed the short, determined figure of Kay Howard down the stairway, tugging his jacket on with no small amount of difficulty.

Trying not to choke on his lunch, he trailed after her to one of the department's Cavaliers, marvelling for the umpteenth time at how fast his partner could march for such a small woman. How much hair she had for such a small woman. And, as she leaned against the driver's side door to glare at him, shuffling along with his mouth stuffed full and his arms tangled hopelessly in his jacket, how much annoyance she could project for such a small woman.

No, wait, Beau corrected himself. Beth could do the same thing. She could make her annoyance felt halfway across the state of Maryland. If you got on a train for New York, you could feel Beth's martyred irritation following you right down the line....


Swallowing painfully, he leaned against the passenger side door, matching glares across the roof. "Kay, I was eating lunch. You could've let me finish my lunch."

"Huh." She opened her door and threw herself in, starting the car almost immediately. "If I let you finish one of those jumbo lunches Beth makes for you, Beau, there'd be just bones left at the crime scene. Get in."

Beau had barely managed to sit down and close his door before Kay tore out of the station garage, squinting in the sudden sun with an expression which suggested that she considered its brightness a personal insult.

That was Kay all over, though. Whenever anything--or anyone, for that matter--presented an obstacle, she did her level best to mow it over. Beau relaxed and watched, amused, as Kay leaned closer to the steering wheel, smacking down the Cavalier's sun visor to cut the sunshine's glare. Always leading with her head, Kay.

"So how's it going with you and Danvers?" he asked casually, trying to keep the reflexive disbelief from his voice. Kay only shot him the most cursory of warning glances before turning mutely back to her driving.

"From what /I/ hear," Beau continued, using the drawl he knew set Kay's teeth on edge, "you and the Dan-man are a pret-ty hot ticket." He frowned. Still no reaction from her.

Time to pull the heavy artillery.

"Still, I gotta say, compadre--you've got the right idea. No lowly attache for you, right? Might as well go for the Assistant State's Attorney--"

"Oh, Jesus Christ, Beau!" Kay growled at him, anger sparking in her eyes. "As if you're really one to point fingers, considering who /you're/ sleeping with...!"

Beau flinched. "Okay, okay--I'll back off. It's just..." He turned in his seat to look at her, his face polished with earnestness. "You're my partner and my friend, Kay. I tell you what's going on in /my/ life...I'd like to think that you trust me, too."

"It's not a matter of trust, Beau...." Kay's reassurances trailed off as she pulled the car to a stop just off of Hamburg Avenue, taking in the gaggle of spectators grouped outside the yellow tape of the crime scene. "Shit. I hate dealing with gawkers."

"Just be glad we don't have to smile for the five o'clock news."

* * * *

Three harried hours later, they were back in the Cavalier, after having spoken to each and every single possible witness and some people who just wanted to feel important.

"Stone-cold whodunit," Beau groaned, trying to massage his temples and roll down the window simultaneously. "I'm glad /you're/ the primary on this one, Howie."

"When /aren't/ you glad about that, huh?" Kay prodded, teasing.

"True," he said affably. "But then, why bother to catch primary when you know your partner's got the golden touch?"

"I don't have a 'golden touch'. I'm not 'lucky'. I'm a damn good detective, that's all."

Beau cocked an eyebrow. "Danvers doesn't think you have a golden touch?"

"Why are you so suddenly interested in Danvers? Just because you think I'm sleeping with him? You're really starting to piss me off, Beau. Just because you spill every single detail about you and Beth to me doesn't mean I'm bound to reciprocate, okay? And it doesn't mean I don't trust you!"

"Yeah. Yeah, I know, Howie." He was genuinely repentent. "I just...I'm having problems. And I kinda wanted to know if it's hard for you, too."

Kay frowned at him, puzzled. "You want to know if me and Ed are like you and Beth...?"

Beau furrowed his brow. "No--if having a relationship with someone you work with can out."

"Ohhhh." Kay relaxed, almost smiling. "You're having problems with your /work/ relationship and you wanna know if I can relate."


"Well, not exactly, because Ed and I work two different angles of the justice system ,'s kinda a Catch-22, huh?" She paused to push her heavy hair back from her face, tucking it neatly behind her ears. "I mean, the whole reason you click when you get together is because you both deal with the same stuff. Same criminals, same witnesses, everything. You understand each other."

Beau nodded, a small ironic smile touching his lips. "And then you start getting on each others' nerves because you both know how the job goes, and you see each other every day at work, doing the same stupid job with the same irritating mistakes...."

"...and it ends up that the only time you're not bugging each other is when you're in bed," Kay finished, practically crowing with shared frustration. "Because it's such damn good sex that you can't give it up just yet."

"Amen to that!"

They rode in silence for some time, both mentally evaluating their relationships in this new light, enjoying the fresh air blowing through the car.

Finally, stealing a sly, sideways glance at Beau, Kay said, "Well, at least Ed isn't in any position to promote or demote me...." She left the rest in a pregnant trail-off, hoping he'd catch on.

Beau screwed up his face in confusion. "Whaddyou mean?" he asked, mopping his forehead with one sleeve.

"You and Russert. If something goes wrong for you two, you could get shafted."

"/Russert/?" Beau blinked at her, still baffled.

"Yeah, your lover, Megan Russert? Blonde, bitchy and Beau's?"

Finally, her words seemed to get through to him. "Oh, you're talking about my affair with Megan!" Beau was happy to have cleared that up...but then, he was frowning again. "Kay, I wasn't talking about Megan. We broke it off a month ago."

"You what?" Now Kay was thoroughly at a loss. "Well, who the hell /were/ you talking about?"

"You really don't know?"

"No, I don't! Are you gonna tell me, or what?"

Taking a deep breath, he turned to face her. "Munch."

The Cavalier screeched to a halt, its tires protesting noisily as they skidded along the warm asphalt. Kay Howard swiveled in her seat to gape, wide-eyed, at her complacent-looking partner and friend.

"/Munch/?" she repeated dumbly. "You...and...John /Munch/?!?"

"Yeah." Beau seemed remarkably calm. "We just sort of...clicked. And, y'know, his apartment is so chilly that it's about the only place in the whole of Bawlmer that I feel comfortable without full-blast air-conditioning!"

He noticed Kay gawping at him and stopped babbling, a mite self-conscious. "Uh...Howie? You okay with all this?"

Kay closed her mouth with a snap and shook her head slightly, more to come back to her senses than to convey disagreement.

"So you..." she stopped and swallowed, "you and Munch...sleep together?"


She passed on hand over her mouth, eyes still wide. Beau leaned forward, worried.

"C'mon, Kay," he wheedled. "Tell me how you feel about this...."

Drawing a deep, shuddery breath, Kay looked Beau straight in his squinty blue eyes, her voice coming out an intense, low whisper.

"Can I watch?"