Getting paid to sit on his ass was not something that appealed to Mike Kellerman. However the tantalizing prospect of closing a case and arresting a suspect who had murdered three children and their mother made the assignment more savory. Douglas Rossler would show. His girlfriend's apartment was his favored hang out when he wasn't in prison doing time for theft or possession. Mike tried to make himself comfortable in the seat, his gaze glued to the building just down the left side of the street to the parked Cavalier. Beside him his companion for the evening, Tim Bayliss, checked the car side mirror, and watched two figures exit a hole-in-the-wall bar and make their way down the street in the opposite direction.
Kellerman lifted an eyebrow and addressed Bayliss. "So, tell me why I'm sitting here with you instead of Meldrick?"
"He had a date and passed on the over time."
"That's a first."
"Well, I guess financially he's doing all right."
"No." Corrected Kellerman. "I mean the date. He's been in a bit of a slump since that whole Barbara thing."
At this statement, Tim looked at Mike's profile. The whirlwind annulment had proceeded the honeymoon, and rumor had it that Kellerman was responsible for urging his Partner to seek the end of the marriage. Normally, Bayliss preferred squad room gossip to remain conjecture and hearsay, yet in this case he was more apt to believe the words, since Meldrick Lewis offered them during a casual conversation in the break room.
"Lewis said that you suggested he get divorced."
"What I said was he better get the annulment before this drags out into a divorce." Kellerman looked at Bayliss. "She didn't love him Tim. She didn't even really like him very much. Their honeymoon was one huge source of frustration for him, when she turned a 360. It's like once she had him in line, the ring on her finger; she didn't want anything to do with him anymore. I've seen her type before. Trust me; he's better off with someone else."
"She was pretty."
"She was a cunt. She didn't want to have anything to do with his past, especially me. Everything that predated her arrival into his life was expendable. I'm sorry, but our friendship and his marriage don't work like that."
Bayliss gazed out of the window and down the street behind them at the bar once more. "You sound more like a jealous lover complaining than a vocational partner."
"Bite me, Tim, okay? You have a partner. Granted he's not much of one, but admit it: you're Frank's work wife, and Mary is his after hour's one. Guaranteed, if anyone came into your life that Pembleton didn't approve of-you'd hear about it."
"I don't know, Mike." Bayliss interrupted well aware that there stood no love loss between Frank Pembleton and Mike Kellerman. From the instant of their introduction the two had portrayed arrogant peacocks and continually strove to up the ante on the other. "Frank keeps himself far removed from my personal life."
"That's because he's an idiot and doesn't give a shit about anyone but himself."
"He loves his family."
"Yeah? And everyone else can go to hell as far as he's concerned."
"Well, Frank is Frank."
"He's not a warm person, Mike. But he's a good man."
"Not to his coworkers. But hey, it's none of my business right? He doesn't have to like me, but he sure as hell doesn't make my life any easier. Or yours."
"I'm okay, Kellerman." assured Bayliss, watching his companion turn away in disgust. Or did he pity Bayliss for being occasionally mistreated? Bayliss noticed Kellerman's gaze narrow a little as he glared out of the windshield at Rossler's apartment building. "Don't let him get to you."
"He doesn't. He gets to you."
Bayliss' only response was to look away at the side mirror once more. Silence pervaded the cramped atmosphere of the Cavalier, and the two Detectives remained within their own thoughts for a time.
"I just wish he was nicer to you is all." Mike's volume dropped away, he glanced back over his shoulder in direction of the bar, then turned all attention to Bayliss once more.
Surprise softened Bayliss' expression as he held Mike's gaze. "He's my cross to bear."
"He doesn't have to be, you know." Kellerman met Bayliss' contemplative hazel eyes, his expression for the most part serious rather than jovial. "Who the hell did you piss off to deserve him?"
They sat in silence for a couple of heartbeats not severing eye contact. "Thanks for caring."
"What can I say?" Kellerman gestured with his left hand, the palm turned upward. "I'm a softy."
Bayliss stifled a laugh and turned to look out the window once more. "With thorns."
"Everybody's got them."
"Especially Frank." They both stated in unison before laughing. The silence that followed this time was far less consuming and tense than its predecessor was. Kellerman sighed and shifted in his seat.
"I hate just sitting here like this. Can't get up and walk, or stretch my legs. Do anything. It always looked so glamorous in movies and on TV but in reality, it sucks."
"That's true of all police work. Didn't read the fine print in the recruitment brochure?"
"Oh that's helpful now, Bayliss." Teased Kellerman in annoyance. "Where were you when I applied for the academy?"
"In a radio car somewhere reminding myself I was going to make detective in just a few short years."
"You didn't like patrol?"
"No...well, not really. I knew where I wanted to be so it was more of an inconvenience."
"I liked it, I mean there were moments when I had my doubts about the profession in general but, I felt like what I did mattered, and I was helping people so I was happy." When Bayliss didn't respond Kellerman continued. "Where'd you go after patrol?"
"You?" Kellerman could not help but laugh and revel in Bayliss' expression, as the older Detective took offense to the reaction.
"What's so funny?" Demanded Tim, indignantly.
"And you let Pembleton give you grief on a daily basis? You should drag him out on the roof and kick his ass."
"That's why I left after a couple of years for the Mayor's security detail. I didn't want to be brute force; I wanted to get to Homicide."
"Well, you did."
"No. I fell into it with the Bonnie Nash case. I really liked working Arson, though. I used to want to be a Cop or Fireman, so I figured the best of both worlds was the way to go. It was good for a while."
"Would you ever go back?"
"Nah. That's done. Homicide's more glamorous by far. Standing over a decomp vic in a piss and rat infested alley, at two-thirty in the morning in the dead of winter; now that's living."
Bayliss laughed softly and then rubbed a hand over his features. "You're funny, Mike."
"I aim to please. You know you should laugh more. You spend the day looking one of three ways, pissed off, deadpan, or constipated."
"I what? I do not look constipated." Defended Tim of his honor.
"Sure you do. Your forehead wrinkles up, and at the bridge of your nose it gets all tight. Then your lips press together, and it looks like you're straining."
"Hey, I don't make the face, I'm just pointing it out to you is all." He was enjoying the taunt, pleased to alleviate the boredom.
"You're insane." Chided Tim, looking out of the window to hide his bemused smirk. He wanted to laugh, to enjoy Mike's company, and completely relax. It had been several months since he had allowed himself the freedom to relinquish control and abandon responsibility.
"And you either need more fiber in your diet or a new partner."
"Why don't you tell me how you really feel about Frank?"
"Rather not." Urged Kellerman with a mischievous glint to his eye. "There's other more entertaining topics."
"Sex for one." Stated Mike continuing his teasing of the older Detective. "Get out much lately? Didn't you see 'The Shining'?"
"I haven't gone insane or killed anyone. Yet."
"So you saw it?"
Bayliss shook his head. "Read it."
Mike rolled his gaze "You don't have cable-I bet."
"Yes, I do. But why should I go see a movie where people die in every other scene? I get enough of that at work."
Mike frowned and looked away from the street to Bayliss' profile. "You read the book, Tim. Every other scene or every other page, same difference."
"They're very different."
"You never saw the movie. How would you know?"
"Did you ever read the book?" Asked Tim seeking the debate.
"No. That's not the point."
"Hypocrite. For your information books and movies made from books typically do not correspond."
"Tim? Shut up for minute and think about what you're saying before you say it. I'm looking for a bit of light conversation and you're trying to turn it into a debate."
Bayliss sighed, and rolled his head to pop the vertebra in his neck. Mike watched Tim's actions, and let the annoyance in his tone slip for the atmosphere between them to return to jovial taunting. "Maybe you haven't exploded, but you're a prime candidate for ulcers."
Tim exhaled quietly then looked at Mike impishly. "I'm on medication."
Mike laughed. "Not enough."
"Ulcers are common ailments of high stress jobs."
Mike leaned his head back and groaned at the ceiling. "You're doing it again, Tim."
"Sorry, I read."
"Well, there's more to life than books."
"You been laid recently?"
"My sex life is none of your business unless you're offering to service me."
The Detectives looked at one another as a split second of silence settled in the car.
"No." Revealed Tim suddenly.
"No, what? You haven't been laid?"
"Forget it." Annoyance sprang into Bayliss' tone and he shifted in the seat. "And is there a point to you bringing this up, aside from the obvious?"
Kellerman blinked mercilessly at his temporary Partner, not certain if he had crossed a taboo line, yet not shy about finding out. "Which is?"
"Embarrass the geek, and see if he runs home to mother."
"You think you're a geek?" Questioned Kellerman with semi seriousness edging his surprise.
"Mike, do you want to talk about sex, or is there some other topic of distraction we can utilize instead?"
"Touchy. What do you and Frank talk about?"
"He talks. I listen."
"Okay, what do you and Meldrick talk about?"
"Sex. Life, sports, shop."
Tim nodded, checked the side mirror, and remained silent until the couple who exited the bar got in their car down the block. The man didn't bother opening the door for the woman, and Tim frowned. "Hey, Mike? When you go out, do you open the car door for your date?"
Mike rubbed an eyelash away from his left eye and moistened his lips quickly before responding. "Yeah. Why?"
"I do. I just always thought they kind of liked that."
"Some of them take it as a direct insult."
"I still think it's the courteous thing to do."
"Well, your mother raised you right."Tim nodded. "I'm undecided on the check thing though."
"What, you don't think the guy should pay?"
"True enough. Trading off is fair. Or whoever asks pays. What the fuck do I know? I'm divorced."
"I'd like to get married someday."
"You seem like the marrying kind. Just got to find the right girl."
Tim tensed and muttered noncommittally.
Kellerman shifted in the seat, exhaling to catch Bayliss' attention. "My ass is numb. I've got to move around, or I'm going to be crippled for life."
"You're getting out of the car?"
"What? I can walk around in the back seat? Jesus, Bayliss, I'm not going to blow the case by going across the street to that bar and take a piss, am I?" He watched the fretting lines of Bayliss' forehead deepen slightly. "You're convinced that while I'm gone Rossler's going to show?"
"No. No, I just... Go ahead. Fine."
"Want me to get some coffee while I'm in there?"
"No thanks. I'm-I'm trying to avoid caffeine."
This pronouncement elicited a look of surprise from Kellerman. He forgot his filling bladder and cramped muscles for a moment. "Why? Caffeine is a Cop's life's blood."
"It's also a drug."
"Oh, and the alcohol you drink at The Waterfront isn't?"
"No-I-I'm just cleansing my blood right now. No booze, no caffeine-"
"Oh, and let me guess: No sugar, no white flower, no dairy products and no meat. Please tell me you'll still have sex?"
Bayliss cleared his throat, scratched the inside of his left ear, and then cocked his head to the corresponding side as he did so. "I would if there was someone that I was attracted to." Tim watched Kellerman laugh in disbelief, reach for the car door handle, but make no further move to open it. "Why is that so amusing?"
"I thought you were a Buddhist, not a puritan."
"Sure, Dimsdale." Chortled Kellerman climbing out of the Cavalier and onto the sidewalk. He leaned in the door and met Bayliss' unimpressed stare. "Don't flog yourself until I get back. I'll help you recite your contrition."
"He was Protestant, Mike."
Kellerman laughed in response and closed the door, walking stiffly away from the car. Bayliss watched him go until Kellerman was half way across the street, and Bayliss turned back around in the seat chuckling softly. Kellerman was quite a comedian at times. Bayliss was never certain if the younger Detective would throw out some impressively obscure reference, degrade the joviality of a conversation to the sexual level, or both.
"Dimsdale." Repeated Bayliss following Kellerman's movements in the car's side mirror. Tim hadn't read 'The Scarlet Letter' since the seventh grade.
Bayliss watched the late model Buick turn onto the street and slowly creep its way down the block. The driver hesitated a few feet away from the curb in front of the apartment building, and exchanged words with the front seat passenger. There was a third man hunkered in the back seat, which gazed up out of the rear window at the brick building. Seconds later the car sped up, passed the Cavalier, and then slowed to a halt at the bar. Tim watched the man in the back seat squeeze past the first passenger and pull the cuffs of his jeans downward, then stand tall. Bayliss' spine straightened as the Buick pulled away from the curb and the man moved towards the bar.
Bayliss hurried out of the Cavalier, ignoring the momentary complaints of his stiff muscles. This was it; Rossler had showed. Kellerman was already in the bar; now it was only a matter of the arrest and all the idle hours stuck in the unmarked car would be justified. Bayliss had always enjoyed manipulating another person's closed mind to reveal its secrets. The art of interrogation was part of the reason he got off on what he did for a living. Truth was a reward, and the ferreting out of secrets remained a talent he revered utilizing to its fullest capacity.
Kellerman looked over his shoulder, hearing the men's room door open. He turned his expression impassively away from the man who entered the room and moved to the urinal on the adjacent wall.
-Fuck me.- Thought Kellerman in disbelieving amusement. -Douglas, fucking loser, Rossler. Bayliss is going to throw a rod when I bring this scumbag freak outside.- Kellerman hurried with his business and washed his hands. There were no paper towels in the dispenser so he settled for drying them on his pant legs. Exiting the men's room, Kellerman hovered by the door, his back to the wall. It did not surprise him when Rossler came waltzing out of the bathroom seconds later without attending to even rudimentary hygiene.
The five foot seven inch tall black male glanced at Kellerman then bolted away from him and into the bar's main chamber. Kellerman swallowed his amused curse and sprinted off after his prey. Seconds later Douglas Rossler collided with the six foot five inch frame of Detective Bayliss, who threw the stunned murderer to the floor. Bayliss placed a foot on Rossler's spine as a warning, and reaching them both, Kellerman bent to cuff the wailing, pleading killer.
"I didn't do nothing! Let me up! You got the wrong guy!"
"You think?" Huffed Kellerman tapping Bayliss' calf quickly to ward his restraint away. "Anyone who says that has got to be guilty of something."
Kellerman hauled a gibbering Douglas Rossler to his feet.
"I ain't done nothing! Who are you anyway?"
"Baltimore Homicide." Growled Kellerman, leaning up towards Rossler's left ear. "And guess what Bunk? You've won an all expense paid trip to Eager Street."
"I want a lawyer."
"So much for innocence." Pronounced Bayliss, slapping a hand down hard onto Rossler's shoulder. The stoned murderer snapped his attention to the taller Detective instantaneously. "What'd you take?" Demanded Bayliss.
"I don't steal."
"Really?" Interjected Kellerman, amused by Rossler's misinterpretation of the question. He raised the cuffs upward until Rossler yapped in pain from the tension in his arms, which were pinned near the shoulder blades. "I could have sworn your sheet said you did time for armed robbery back in '92."
"That-that wasn't me. My brother, Harold. He's the one that be robbing liquor stores."
"And you just watched?" Kellerman held the murderer's hands still. "Brothers. If you can't trust them, who can you trust?"
"What are you on?" Demanded Bayliss, seizing Rossler by the chin and forcing the murderer to look at him. "If I search your pockets I'm not going to get pricked with a needle, am I?"
"N-No Sir. I don't do drugs."
Rossler's pupils were the size of pinpoints with a yellowish tinge around the edges. Kellerman could see the needle marks clearly on the man's hands and forearms. -Yeah. Sure you don't.- Thought Kellerman, catching Bayliss' eye.
"Then you won't mind if Detective Bayliss pats you down just for the sake of procedure?"
"N-nah why he got to do that?"
"Because its my job." Informed Bayliss, snapping Rossler's attention to focus solely upon him once more.
"You going to lock me up?"
"No Douglas." Soothed Kellerman ominously. "We just want to take you down town and talk for a while."
"Can I get a beer first?"
Kellerman and Bayliss exchanged amused gazes over Rossler's head, Bayliss further gracing Kellerman with a slight smile. Kellerman arched an eyebrow in indication of the murderer's ignorance, and Bayliss yanked Rossler forward and uttered, "Let's go." The three males exited the bar and moved towards the parked Cavalier down the street. Kellerman recited Rossler's Miranda rights along with the list of charges against him as they walked.
Kellerman watched Bayliss seated at his desk, typing up field notes into the computerized form displayed on the monitor before him. The over time cap the bosses had placed on the departmental budget didn't seem to phase Bayliss. He had been working for free the last five hours and still he would not cease until all the paperwork was completed and stacked neatly on Lieutenant Giardello's desk for signature. The weariness within Kellerman's frame reminded him how irked he was that there would be no monetary compensation for his own slavery. The interrogation was long over, and Douglas Rossler's lies had crumbled beneath their questions in a matter of minutes. Della Brown and the names of her three children were no longer listed in red ink under Kellerman's name on the case board, but in black. Life continued onward, more murders would be committed, thus securing Kellerman's job for another day.
He felt no satisfaction and the lack of this sensation surprised him. Staring at Bayliss typing purposefully away, Kellerman wondered at the vision. Mike had enjoyed his all too brief pairing with Bayliss. Kellerman's Partnership with Meldrick Lewis was neither stagnant nor unsatisfying, and it thrilled him to be working with Lewis on a daily basis. Yet, his time with Bayliss was.... Mike tore his gaze away from Bayliss, declaring the moment passed and moved towards the men's restroom to apply cold water to his face. He needed to wake up long enough to get home safely and go to bed.
Bayliss sighed wearily as he entered the bathroom and touched his hand to Kellerman's shoulder in greeting. Kellerman issued a soft "hey" and watched Bayliss' reflection in the mirror as the older Detective entered a stall and closed the door. Mike's shoulder felt warm where physical contact had connected them, and the bottom layer of his stomach smoldered momentarily. Kellerman listened to the sound of a zipper followed by urination, and his gaze remained concentrated on the closed stall door.
"You should have been the primary."
Stunned at the pronouncement it took a beat or two for Bayliss to respond. "Because?"
"You put more into this case than I did." Kellerman turned around and addressed the stall door and placed his hands firmly upon his hips. "The clearance should be yours."
There was a pause as Bayliss composed himself then flushed the toilet. Once he had exited the stall his hazel eyes transfixed themselves upon his coworker.
"The only thing that matters to me is that the case is down. I'll admit that I used to want the highest clearance rate as much as the next detective. But I learned over the years, that when it comes down to the bones, all the victims families care about is that they will never see their loved one alive again. They want the person, or persons, responsible punished." Bayliss' voice dropped to a familiar sorrow, and Kellerman almost had to strain to hear him.
"And most of the time even that isn't enough."
Kellerman watched Bayliss move to the sink and wash his hands. He turned to face Bayliss' profile. "You did good work, Tim."
"We got lucky." Bayliss reminded him, turning off the faucet and meeting Kellerman's stare.
"Yeah? But you were the one who brought us to it." Bayliss' lips parted to speak and Mike preempted the comment in sharp edged prediction. "Just shut up and take the compliment all right? My ego isn't so fragile that I can't admit when someone else deserves the credit. So just say thank you and feel good about what you've done."
Bayliss shook his head, severing eye contact and turned to the wall to take some paper towels out of the mounted dispenser. "Thank you, Mike." Bayliss threw the wadded up paper towels into the trashcan. "You should go home and get some sleep."
"Yeah. I'd like that." Mike's drive home would be short, and as soon as he pulled off his clothes to fall into bed, he would be asleep. "What about you?"
"I was going to catch up on some things and wait for Issler to come in."
Mike frowned at the mention of the newest detective on the next shift. Avery Issler was a nice enough man, however his attachment to Bayliss, annoyed Mike. "I thought he was on the four to midnight."
Tim shook his head. "Six to four. He has a seven a.m. in DC to pick up some information from a profiler down there."
"What they can't Fed Ex it?"
"She's blond, deep brown eyes, and of supermodel origins."
"Oh. Well, that justifies it then." Mike paused and scratched the side of his throat with a few quick flicks of an extended finger. "You and Issler becoming best buddies now or what?"
"He's a good kid."
"So he's what, a twelve-year-old?"
"Shit, he's younger then me?"
"Two years younger than you, and six from me."
"You old fart. Thirty-six huh? When's the retirement party?"
"And leave all of this? You must be delirious."
Mike sighed and rubbed his eyes. "You're right about that." Mike lowered his hands and moved towards the door. "If I don't drag my ass home I'll be pulled to work a double." Mike halted with his hand upon the doorknob. "Don't let them talk you into that, Bayliss."
Tim held up his palms in a gesture of surrender. "No. I'm done for the day."
"Sweet dreams then."
Tim thanked Mike, wished him the same, and reached out to hold the door open for them both.
Continued in Stake Our pt 2: Surfacing