Pete awoke when someone shook his shoulder. He opened his eyes and found himself staring at Stephen Garrett. "Janet said to wake you."

"Thanks." Pete stretched and tried to get the cramp out of his neck. The clock on the wall read eight a.m. The nurse had chased him out of Jim's room sometime around midnight. From there, he had taken turns with Janet watching over Jean. After leaving Jean's room the last time, he had fallen asleep in the waiting room chairs.

Pete got up, grabbed a quick cup of coffee, and then headed toward Jean's room. Standing outside the door, looking very tired, was her father, Roy Campbell. It must have been a long drive from where they were vacationing. He just nodded a greeting at the man. A moment later, Janet and Jean's mother, Evelyn, exited the room.

Janet smiled at Pete. "She woke up last night. The doctor said that's a great sign." Gently she took Pete's arm. "Do you want to help me go get Jim? The doctor's releasing him at nine."

Pete nodded and followed her up to room 220. When they entered, Jim was standing by the edge of the bed arguing with the young candy striper that he didn't need a wheel chair. The young girl was getting flustered trying to explain that it was hospital policy.

Janet entering the room quickly ended the discussion. She gave her little brother a look that said he'd better do what the girl said. "Jim, sit down. It's not worth fighting over. Let the girl do her job."

With a resigned sigh, Jim sat down in the chair. "Janet, you don't have to do this you know. Hey, Pete."

"Jim, you're my brother. It's no trouble for you and Jimmy to stay at my house. Now don't argue with me." Janet finished collecting the few things Jim had and followed the young girl as she pushed the wheel chair.

"I want to see Jean before we leave." Jim looked up at his sister for permission.

Janet patted him on the shoulder. "The doctor gave his consent, but just a short visit. She needs her rest and so do you. The doctor ordered bed rest for you."

Jim sighed and looked at Pete for backup. Pete shrugged his shoulders. He didn't want to fight Jim's sister any more than Jim did. "Just relax, partner."

Finally the wheel chair reached Jean's room. Evelyn noticed him first. "Jim!" She reached forward and gave him a hug. "Darling, we came as soon as we found out. How are you feeling?"

"Evelyn, I'm fine. The hospital is being overly cautious. I'm sorry you had to cut your vacation short." Jim sighed as his mother-in-law examined him with a concerned eye.

"Our place is here with you, son," Roy spoke up.

Jim glanced nervously at the door to Jean's room. "How is she doing?"

Janet placed a comforting hand on her brother's shoulder. "She's doing fine. She's regained consciousness and the doctor is already talking about moving her out of ICU. Don't get excited. She looks worse than it really is."

Taking a deep breath, Jim indicated that he wanted to enter, so Pete stepped forward and pushed the wheelchair into the room. Pete held his breath as he watched Jim looking at his wife for the first time since the accident.

Jean's right leg was elevated, there was a bandage covering most of her pretty blond hair, and a huge bruise on the right side of her face. The IV and monitoring equipment made her seem even smaller and more delicate.

Jim stood up from the wheel chair and took a step towards her. His voice caught in his throat. "Jean?"

For a moment Jim was a little unsteady on his feet. Pete was prepared to step forward, but was relieved when Jim regained his balance. He lingered by the door just in case, but far enough back to give the Reed's some privacy.

Jim reached for her hand and gently grasped it. "Jean, I'm sorry. I love you, honey."

Jean's eyes began to flutter when she heard his voice. A moment later, her light blue eyes opened up and stared at Jim. A small smile came to her face. "Hi, sweetheart," she whispered weakly.

Jim's face brightened. "Hey, how are you feeling?"

"A little sore." Jean raised her hand to Jim's face and touched a few of the scratches caused by the flying glass. "Your face?"

"It's nothing." Jim kissed her hand and returned it to the bed.

Then Jean noticed Pete standing in the room. She looked at him and waved him over. "Hi, Pete."


"Mom said you and Janet stayed here all night. Thank you." Jean smiled gratefully.

"We felt we had to be here. It's nothing."

"Thanks, anyway." She sighed, closing her eyes for a brief moment, before opening them again. "Pete, will you take care of Jim for me, since I won't be there?"

"Of course, Jean. I won't let him out of my sight," Pete grinned.

Jim shook his head at his wife. "You just hurry and get better. I love you."

Jean was growing tired and her eyes fluttered shut again. "I love you, Jim. Give Jimmy a kiss for me."

"I will." Jim gently kissed her forehead and waited until she had fallen asleep.

When he turned back around, Pete could see the strained look on Jim's face. Seeing her like that had not been easy. Jim sat back in the wheel chair and waited for Pete to finish pushing him to the car Stephen had pulled up.

Pete and Stephen helped Jim in the car and then waited patiently as Janet and Jean's mother talked about plans to care for the baby. Finally Janet approached the car. "Pete, thanks again for all your help. You're a terrific friend." She gave him a warm hug.

Pete smiled. "Don't be afraid to call me if you need anything. Take care of him."

He waved at Jim, as Stephen pulled the burgundy sedan away from the hospital towards home. At this point he realized just how tired he was himself. It had been a long and stressful night.

Pete knew that Jim and Jean had been very lucky; the accident could have been far worse. Jim would probably be stuck on desk duty for a few days, but he wouldn't miss much work. Jean had a long recovery ahead, but she was alive. Plus, they both had a supportive family to take care of them.

Pete drove back to his apartment. When he walked through the door, he enjoyed the peaceful quiet and hurried to his room. He took off the clothes he had worn to his date and changed into something more comfortable. It looked like he was going to be spending his second day off sleeping. He had just lain down when his phone rang. Not again.

Wearily, he dragged himself out of bed and answered it. "Hello?"

"Peter, are you okay? You sound tired."

"Mom, I am tired. Can this wait until later?"

"Is there something wrong? There is something bothering you, I can hear it in your voice!" His mother always did seem to have a sixth sense when it came to his feelings.

"Mom, I'm fine. Just tired."

"Don't lie to me, Peter Joseph. What happened?"

With a sigh, Pete leaned against the wall. "Okay, my partner and his wife were in a car accident last night and I spent all night at the hospital. I just got back and was trying to get some sleep."

"Your partner, what's his name…Jim! Oh dear, the poor man. How are he and his wife? Didn't she just have a baby?"

"Yes, Jim. His wife had a baby seven months ago. They're going to be fine. Jim was hardly hurt, but his wife will be in the hospital for a while."

"Peter, you sound really upset. Your father and I can come down sooner, if you'd like."

"Mom, that won't be necessary. I'm just tired."

"I'll see if we can get an earlier flight. I'm worried about my baby. I'll give you a call when I get our new flight. Get some rest, sweetheart."

"Mom, no you don't…" His mother hung up without waiting for him to reply. For a moment, Pete leaned on the wall, with the phone dangling in his hand.

He hung up the phone, returned to his room, and toppled onto his bed in defeat.


Four days later

Pete stood staring at his empty refrigerator, contemplating whether he should go to the grocery store or just get fast food. In the back of his mind he heard his mother yelling at him for leaving the fridge door open, so he closed it and started to search his cupboards for a can of soup.

A knock at the door interrupted his quest. Wondering who would call at 9:30 in the evening, he approached the door and looked through the peephole. To his surprise, it was Jim. Opening the door, his partner looked at him sheepishly. "Jim?"

"Hey, Pete. Uh, do you mind if I crash here tonight?"

Pete waved his partner in. "No, of course not."

"Thanks." Jim entered the apartment and went over to the couch to sit down. He placed his head in his hands and sighed. "I'm sorry to bug you, Pete, but my house was just too lonely."

Concerned, Pete looked at his partner. "What about your sister's?"

Jim looked up with disgust. "And listen to Stephen tell me why I shouldn't be a cop again? No way! I stayed at home last night because he and I argued again the other day. He's great for Janet, but he and I don't agree on anything. He thinks sports are for guys who aren't smart enough to play chess and don't even get me started on politics. We have nothing in common."

"Is that what you argued about with him, you're being a cop?" Pete asked.

"No," Jim admitted. "Janet wanted me to stay with her to make sure I was okay. Stephen was just treating me like I was a kid again. I hate it when someone thinks you can't take care of yourself. He was lecturing me on how I should be more careful, because of how stressful it is on Janet to worry about me. I mean, why are they worried about me? Jean's the one in the hospital."

Pete straddled one of his kitchen chairs and leaned on the back. "So where's Jimmy tonight?"

"Jean's parents have him." Jim sighed. "I miss him, but what do I know about taking care of a little baby? Besides, I'd just have to drop him off somewhere before work." Jim leaned back on the couch. "This whole week has been a neverending nightmare."

"How's Jean doing?" Pete asked.

"She's doing great. She wanted me to thank you for the flowers. The doctor said that he'll let her out maybe next week; but she'll be on crutches for a while and in no shape to be taking care of the baby." Jim ran his fingers through his hair. "She's in good spirits, though."

"That's good. Say, have you eaten yet?" Pete's stomach was really growling now.

Jim shook his head no. "I tried to fix something, but I just burned it. Jean's going to kill me when she sees I ruined a set of her pots." A small smile came to Jim's face. "Maybe I'll just go buy her a new set."

Pete laughed. "I'll get a you a fire extinguisher too. How about chicken?"

Jim nodded. "That's fine with me."

"I'll go get it. You just stay here and relax. I won't be gone long." Pete retrieved his keys.

"Okay." Jim walked over to turn on the TV and then settled down on the couch to wait.

Pete gave him one last look as he headed out the door. He hurried to the nearest restaurant and ordered some food. Poor Jim, he's really going through a tough time with this accident.

It took him only twenty minutes; but when Pete entered his apartment, he saw his partner on the phone. Curious, he listened to the last of the conversation.

"Yes, ma'am, I'll tell him. Yes, ma'am. Thank you. Bye." Hanging up the phone, Jim turned around and finally noticed Pete standing there. "Oh, you're back. That was your mom."

"My mom!" Pete rolled his eyes. "You were talking to my mom!"

Jim smiled, grabbed one of the boxes of chicken, and headed for a plate. "She's a real nice lady, Pete. I still don't see why you're so upset about them coming to visit. She even knew about the accident and said she hoped everything was going well."

Pete accepted the plate Jim handed him. "Yeah, well she called right after I got back from the hospital, the morning after the accident, and telling her was the only way I was going to get any sleep. So what did she want?"

Jim headed for the couch to watch the TV that was still on. "She mentioned something about getting earlier reservations. She said that the flight will be coming in on the 9th."

"The 9th?" Pete practically yelled. "That's next week!"

"Yep." Jim bit into his chicken and then laughed at something on the TV.

Pete fumed as he ate his dinner. Why were his parents doing this to him? There was no need for them to get an earlier flight. He wasn't the one in the car accident!

"Are you done? I'll do the dishes," Jim offered.

Pete stood up and followed Jim to the kitchen. "You don't have to. Just leave them there and I'll get to them tomorrow."

"I don't mind. I help do the dishes at home." Jim turned on the water.

Pete reached over and turned it off. "You're a guest in my apartment, not my husband. Relax, Jim. Two dirty dishes can wait. Boy, are you rusty on being a bachelor."

Relenting, Jim backed away from the sink. "I guess you're right. Maybe I just need a few pointers from an expert."

Pete led Jim to the fridge and pulled out two beers. "Rule number one, don't wash the dishes until you have to."

"Right." Jim smiled as they returned to the living room.

Pete made himself comfortable on the couch. "Rule two, cold chicken makes a great breakfast."

Jim laughed and sat down next to his partner. "Great. It's a good thing I'm only going to be a bachelor for a short time. Do you eat out a lot?"

"Nope," Pete smiled. "The trick is easy, simple meals that you can't burn, and when you're tired of macaroni and cheese, you get a cute girl to cook you dinner. Besides, that's my weight loss plan."

"How's that?"

"The more effort cooking requires, the less I want to cook, and thus the less I eat," Pete joked. "In your case, my friend, one of these day's your wife's cooking is going to have you so fat and happy they'll have to roll you to the front desk."

"At least then they'd have a good reason for putting me on the desk," Jim complained. "The doctor cleared me. I don't see why Mac still has me riding the desk."

"Its standard procedure for someone in your situation. Mac just wants to be sure you're 100%. I'm sure it will only be for a few more days and then you'll be back on patrol. I'm the one really suffering. I've been patrolling with Morris the Mouth since the accident. That man just won't shut up."

A smirk came to Jim's face. "I don't feel sorry for you one bit."

"He's worse than you!" Pete declared.

The two partners continued talking and watching the TV, until Pete realized that Jim's eyes were getting droopy. It was after eleven and getting to be bedtime anyway. "I suppose we best hit the sack. You can have my bed if you want."

Jim yawned. "Pete, I'll be fine on the couch. It's your apartment."

"Suit yourself. I'll get you some sheets." Pete gathered the beer bottles and took them to the kitchen. He then searched in his closet for some sheets, a blanket, and a pillow. By the time he returned to the living room, Jim was already asleep on the couch. Poor guy, this week's really been tough for him. Gently, Pete laid the blanket over his partner and went to turn in himself.

Once lying in bed, his thoughts returned to the imminent visit of his parents. I can't believe they're coming next week! I'd better ask Mac for some time off tomorrow. Look on the bright side, the sooner they come, the sooner they leave. With that reassuring thought, Pete closed his eyes and fell asleep.

A strange sound awoke Pete in the middle of the night. He looked at his clock, two thirty. For a moment he laid in bed, trying to figure out what could be making that noise, then he remembered that Jim was staying with him. A little groggy, he stumbled out of bed to the living room.

Pete found Jim wide-awake. His partner was sitting cross-legged on the couch, watching the TV with the sound off, nursing a glass of milk.

A moment later, Jim noticed Pete. "I'm sorry. I tried to be quiet."

"That's okay," Pete mumbled as he scratched his back. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah," Jim sighed. He looked very tired and frustrated. "I guess I'm having trouble sleeping on this couch. Don't worry, I'll get enough sleep to handle the desk."

"The offer for the bed still stands."

"No, I'll be fine. Just go back to sleep."

Pete was about to push the issue, but Jim looked at him insistently. "I said I'll be fine. Pete, don't baby me."

Pete threw his hands in the air. "Fine, I won't. Good night." Reluctantly, Pete returned to his bed. Something told him that it was more than the couch keeping Jim up. He probably just misses Jean and the baby. He'll be fine once they're back home.


Several Days Later

With a satisfied sigh, Jim leaned back in the seat of Adam-12. Pete could tell that his partner was glad to back on patrol. Outwardly the only signs that anything had happened to Jim were a few cuts that were still healing on his face.

"Good to have you back, partner," Pete mentioned as they pulled out of the parking lot.

Jim smiled. "It's good to be back on the streets. I was getting so antsy behind that desk. I felt like a caged tiger, pacing back and forth, waiting for the phone to ring."

"I stopped and saw Jean yesterday. She looks a lot better."

"Yeah, she's getting her color back. The doctor allowed Jimmy in for a visit yesterday. That really helped a lot." Jim's eyes scanned the streets. "That's been the hardest for her, being away from Jimmy for so long."

"1-Adam-12, TA at 3800 44th street."

Eagerly Jim leaned over and keyed the mic. "1-Adam-12, roger."

Pete drove the black and white to the location. The accident appeared to be a minor fender bender. The problem was that the two men were yelling at each other in the street.

"Why don't you watch where you're going, you fool!" The larger man shook his fist at the other driver.

Pushing his glasses further up his face indignantly, the other man huffed back. "You're the one who violated the traffic laws, my friend. This accident was the fault of your careless driving. I had the right of way!"

"I'll show you the right of way!" The larger man pulled back his fist.

Pete hurried up to step between the men. "Hold it right there!"

Jim was a step behind Pete and hooked his arms around the larger man, about to the throw the punch. The man tried to break out of Jim's grasp. "Let me at that little punk!"

The smaller man wasn't intimidated. He raised his fists, and jumped around like a trained boxer. "I can take him, officer."

Pete looked sternly at both men. "There will be no fighting! Now, gentlemen, let's move up onto the curb so that we're out of traffic."

Jim finally released the larger man, who stormed over to the sidewalk. Another police car pulled up and Jim went over to ask them to direct traffic around the accident, while he and Pete took the report. He came back with his report book in hand.

With both men now standing on the side of the road, Pete still stood between them. He looked at the larger man. "Okay, sir, you first."

"This idiot just hit me!" The burly man pointed his fist at his opponent.

Pete tried hard not to roll his eyes. "Why don't each of you give me your driver's licenses."

The men grumbled as they dug in their pockets, but finally handed them over. Pete glanced at the names before handing them to Jim, who was starting the accident report. "Mr. Stewart, please explain to me what happened."

Stewart flexed his muscles. "I was turning out of the gas station. The way was clear as I started to turn, but before I could get completely into the street, this moron changes lanes and clips my car! He saw me there, yet still did it. I'd say it was on purpose!"

"Mr. Stewart, did you see him changing lanes before you exited the station?" Pete asked.

"No, my lane was free and clear. You know how busy this street can be; you have to take any hole you can get. If he had stayed in his lane everything would have been fine."

"Okay, Mr. Eirhesh, what happened?" Pete turned to the other man.

The man straightened his glasses on his face. "Officer, I obeyed all the proper traffic rules. I was driving in my lane. I checked the other lane, before attempting to change lanes, and I put my blinker on. Just as I started changing lanes, this imbecile pulled out of the gas station. It was too late to jerk back into my lane and he hit my back bumper. He didn't wait until the lane was truly open."

"Why were you changing lanes, Mr. Eirhesh?" Jim asked, as he scribbled on the report.

"I was going to turn into the sandwich shop, just a few yards further up the road. If I had waited any longer, I would have missed the turn. I was slowing down as well, which is probably why he thought the lane would be clear."

"Fine, could you both go get your vehicle registration and insurance information," Pete directed.

"Are you going to believe him?" Mr. Stewart's face was still red with rage. "He hit my car!"

Pete sighed. "Mr. Stewart, we will talk to some witnesses; but if his story is correct, then you will be cited for failure to yield to oncoming traffic. He has the right to change lanes and you need to be prepared for that."

"What!" Mr. Stewart yelled.

"Mr. Stewart, please go get your paper work." Pete stared hard at the larger man, showing him that he was not intimidated.

Mr. Stewart stood there glaring at Pete for a moment, but finally he angrily walked towards his car. Leaving Eirhesh digging through a large stack of papers from his glove box, Pete turned to several of the bystanders. "Did any of you witness this accident?"

When he was finished with the report, Jim started walking towards the two drivers, to give them back their licenses. Suddenly, he realized that Mr. Stewart had something in his hands besides paperwork. "Pete!" He yelled. Jim threw his clipboard to the ground and ran towards the irate driver. "He's got a gun!"

Pete whirled around, from where he was talking to the onlookers, and watched as Jim rushed Stewart. The larger man had a small caliber handgun and was pointing it at a terrified Mr. Eirhesh. Pete pulled his pistol and ran to back up his partner.

Jim knew that he did not have time to draw his own weapon, because Stewart was going to fire. Instead, he launched himself at the man and knocked him against his car, as the gun fired. Luckily, the bullet missed its intended target and went through the windshield of Eirhesh's car. Jim grabbed Stewart's gun hand and forced it up, to kept him from hitting anything if he pulled the trigger again.

Furious, Stewart growled and shoved Jim to the ground.

Pete stopped in the street and pointed his weapon at Stewart. "Drop the gun, or I'll shoot! Drop it, Mr. Stewart!"

Jim scrambled back to a safe distance, stood up, and pulled his weapon too. "Mr. Eirhesh, get behind your car!"

The terrified motorist obeyed Jim's command and ran around to the far side of his vehicle.

One of the patrol officers, who had been directing traffic, retrieved his shotgun and took shelter at the corner. "You're surrounded! Drop it!" The cocking of the shotgun echoed his words.

For a tense moment Stewart didn't budge, but finally he raised his hands in the air realizing he was outnumbered. "All right, I give. Don't shoot!"

"Drop the gun!" Pete ordered, not breaking his stance.

Stewart dropped the pistol on the ground in front of him.

"Face first on the ground and spread 'em," Pete ordered.

Reluctantly, Stewart lay down on the ground, reached his arms forward, and spread his legs apart.

Pete was expecting Jim to retrieve the weapon, but he didn't move. "I've got you covered, Reed," he prompted his partner.

As if broken out of a trance, Jim finally started forward. "Yeah, right." He never took his eyes off of Stewart, as he reached down to retrieve the weapon, and tucked it in his belt. Then he moved forward, patted Mr. Stewart from head to toe, and retrieved his handcuffs. "One hand in the small of your back." He snapped the handcuffs on. "Now your other hand." With Mr. Stewart properly secured, Jim helped him to his feet and guided him toward the police car.

Pete relaxed and sheathed his own weapon. He nodded at the other police officer, who went over to check on Mr. Eirhesh. Bending down, Pete picked up Jim's discarded report book.

Jim came over and retrieved it. "Well, that means another report."

"Yep, welcome back, partner," Pete joked.

Back at the station, Pete was taking one last look at the stack of paper they had filled out on the incident. He was about to turn them in, when he noticed something. "Uh, Jim, you forgot to sign them."

"What?" Jim turned back from where he had been walking. He took the papers from Pete.

"Oh, yeah." He pulled his pen out of his pocket, signed them, and gave them back.

Pete teased his friend good-naturedly. "Been riding that desk too long."

"I suppose so." Reed didn't seem too amused and again headed toward the parking lot.

Pete deposited the reports and followed Jim out the door. He sat back in his seat and started up the cruiser. "Jim, can I ask you something?"


"Why did you hesitate?"


"At the call, why did you hesitate to go up and secure Stewart? You were the closest person," Pete inquired.

"I wasn't aware I hesitated," Jim commented.

"We had him covered, but I had to prompt you to go search him. Jim, let me remind you that it is important that we secure suspects as quickly as possible. The longer you hesitate, the more time they have to think about escape." Pete instructed his young partner.

"I see your point." Jim nodded. "Sorry, I guess I lost track of how long he'd been there."

Pete gave Jim a break. "Just don't do it again."


The morning passed uncharacteristically quietly, and Pete had to admit it was bothering him. Not only were there few calls, but Jim had not once tried to start up a conversation.

"I can't take it anymore!" Pete declared.

"Take what?" Jim turned back from where he had been absentmindedly staring at nothing. "No radio calls?"

"That, and the silence. After patrolling with Morris, I feel like you should be talking my ear off." Pete teased his partner.

"Sorry, I'm not the conversationalist Morris is," Jim retorted.

"Normally you're a close second," Pete continued carefully. "Is something bothering you?"


Pete waited for Jim to say more, but the minutes ticked by. "There it is again."


"The silence." Pete gave Jim a pointed look. "Spill it. What's on your mind? I can hear the wheels spinning from here."

Jim gave in. "All that paperwork reminded me that I have to finish filling out the insurance forms on the accident. It's really turning into a headache dealing with their insurance company. I'm beginning to realize that the reports don't end with us."

"I can imagine," Pete sympathized.

"The station wagon was totaled, but the insurance company is trying to claim they don't have to pay in full." Jim sighed. "The last thing I want to do is fight with the insurance company over this. It's hard enough trying to figure out how I'm going to pay the hospital bills. Do you believe that my stay in the hospital overnight was over $100!"

Pete whistled. "That's high for one night."

"This is really going to set us back a while. Jean's going to have to wait on that dishwasher we were going to get. Just when things were starting to work out."

"Insurance should pay for most of it, right?"

"I think the hospital stuff is covered, but it's all so confusing." Jim repositioned his bangs with his fingers. "To top it off, Jean's coming home soon; but I'm going to have to find help for her to take care of Jimmy. She won't be able to do it in her condition."

"Your sister can't help?"

"Janet has to go back to work sometime. Her boss has been real understanding, but she has to get back or she'll lose some of her clients. The neighbors said they'd help, since they are retired, but I feel guilty not paying them."

"I'm sure things will work out. Just give it time."

"I'm sorry, Pete. I didn't mean to bring you down with my trouble. Let's hear about some of yours for a while."

Malloy shook his head as his partner gave him that silly grin. "You really know how to cheer me up, you know that. Are you ready for seven?"

"Ahh, now you're trying to change the subject." Jim leaned over and grabbed the mic. "1-Adam-12 requesting code seven at the corner of 17th and Welsh."

"1-Adam-12, okay seven."

Jim smiled. "The simple blessings of a quiet day."

Soon Pete pulled the car into the parking lot of a hotdog stand. They ordered their food and found a seat outside where they could hear their car radio.

"So what are you going to do when your parents get here?" Jim asked, while trying to eat his chili dog.

Pete sighed and picked up his sandwich. "I've been trying to think of that. We don't really like doing the same things; plus, it's not like they're tourists. They've been here before. I don't know."

Wiping some chili from the corners of his mouth, Jim looked deep in thought. "How about Griffith Park, the beach, or the travel museum?"

"Jim, they're my parents, not my kids. What are my parents going to do at the park? My father hates sand and my mother would get bored looking at huge hunks of metal." Pete took another bite of his sandwich.

Trying to keep a serious look to his face, Jim went on. "There's the aquarium, the petting zoo, a theme park. Why don't you take a road trip somewhere, like San Francisco?"

At that last suggestion, Pete shot his partner a pointed look. "Please, I'm still having nightmares from the last road trip. No, it will probably be Mom hooking up with old friends to go shopping, Dad driving around to check out the crops, and then down to the police station to see what I'm up to."

"I suppose the Friday night parties are out." Jim knew he was walking on thin ice, but was enjoying it.

Pete placed his sandwich down on his plate and pointed his finger at his partner. "Jim, you know what your problem is…"

Before Pete could finish, a scream sounded from across the street. The two police officers turned in their seats and observed an elderly woman screaming for help, while she beat a young man with her purse.

Leaving their lunch, Jim and Pete hurried across the street. Jim grabbed the young man and pulled him away from the old lady, while Pete stepped in front of her swinging arm. "Ma'am, what's the problem here?"

"Oh, police! Thank goodness." The elderly woman finally lowered her weapon of choice. "It's a shame a decent woman can't walk the streets these days without some hoodlum trying to take her purse!"

"Lady, I wasn't trying to take your purse!" Declared the young man, as he straightened the green apron he was wearing.

The woman huffed. "Why else would you sneak up on me like that, you hoodlum?"

The young boy looked at Jim. "Officer, I wasn't trying to attack her, honest. I was trying to give her change back. She walked away without it." The boy held out his balled up fist and revealed a dollar bill and some coins.

"Oh." The woman tried to regain her lost indignation. "You still shouldn't sneak up on a lady like that. Women have to be aware of their surroundings, young man. You could have been a thief."

The store clerk handed the money over to the woman. "Ma'am, I feel for the fool that tries to rob you. Can I go now, officers?"

Pete smiled. "Yes, son, but next time be more careful how you approach people."

"Yes, sir." The young man hurried back to the drug store around the corner.

"Thank you, officers." The elderly woman continued on her way.

A smile cracked Jim's face. "I agree with the boy. She sure was swinging that thing."

"No doubt." Pete couldn't keep back his smile either. "Let's finish our lunch and get back on patrol."


Late in the afternoon, Pete became concerned as he watched his partner battling to stay awake.

"Are you still having trouble sleeping?" Pete asked.

With a frustrated rub of his forehead, Jim shrugged. "A little. I guess lunch is just making me extra sleepy."

"Maybe you should take a day off to catch up on your sleep."

"Pete, please don't you patronize me too. I'm getting tired of it. That's all Janet and Stephen have been doing lately."

Holding up his hands in surrender, Pete relented. "It was just a suggestion."

"Any available unit, officers need assistance, 16782 Torrero Drive, code two." The radio's voice entered the car.

"Let's take that." Jim volunteered and leaned over to reply on the radio. "1-Adam-12 will provide back-up for 1-Adam-36 at 16782 Torrero Drive."

"Roger, 1-Adam-12."

Pete pulled the police car up behind Woods and Wells's cruiser that was parked in an alley near the address.

Woods walked up to Pete's window. "We've got a tip on a drug party going on inside. Lots of guests, so we called for back-up. Rumor is that Teddy is at this party."

Pete nodded; Teddy was a drug dealer they had been trying to catch for some time. "How do you want to play it?"

"A few more units are on their way. We'll wait until they are in position and then we'll surround the house and try to catch as many as we can." Woods then went to talk to the other police cruiser that had pulled up behind Pete.

Jim and Pete waited until Woods gave them their position assignments. They found themselves at the back, watching the door, with two other officers. They waited for the sign from Woods and Wells to move in. It didn't take long. When Woods and Wells knocked on the front door and announced police, people started to burst out of the back door.

The four officers confronted the bolting suspects. "Halt! Police!"

Most of the young adults stopped and put their hands in the air, but one older man didn't. He shoved a young girl out of his way and headed down the alley at a sprint.

"Teddy's getting away!" Jim yelled as he took off after the suspect.

Pete glanced at the other officers and knew that they could keep the group under control, so he headed off after his partner in the chase of the drug dealer. He ran as fast as he could to keep Jim and the dealer in his sights.

He kept running as he watched Jim gain on Teddy and tackle him in the yard of a house, a block away. The two were still struggling as Pete ran into the yard. Jim had Teddy by the legs but his head was down and he didn't seem to see the knife Teddy had in his hand now.

"Jim, watch his hands! He's got a knife!" Pete put on a burst of speed to help his partner.

Jim realized the danger he was in and rolled away from the downward stab of the sharp blade. Teddy was determined and tried again. The drug dealer rolled on top of Jim and forced the blade down towards Jim's chest. Jim had Teddy's wrist in his hands, but he had to hold back Teddy's body weight as the crook leaned into the knife.

Finally Pete reached the struggling pair. He knocked Teddy off of Jim and pinned the dealer's arms to the ground. "Drop the knife!"

Jim recovered and scrambled to his feet. He pulled his weapon and pointed it at the suspect. "End of the line, Teddy!"

Pete banged the drug dealer's hand on the ground until he dropped the knife. Then he rolled the still struggling man onto his face and handcuffed his hands behind his back. He breathed a sigh of relief. Leaning over, he retrieved the switchblade knife out of the grass, recessed the blade in its holder, and tucked it in his pocket.

As he stood, Pete dragged the suspect to his feet. He looked at his partner. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah," Jim fingered the rip in his shirtsleeve where the knife had almost got him. "He missed."

"Not by much." Pete pushed Teddy towards the alley. As they headed towards the police cars, Pete watched his partner. Now Pete knew that Jim was not his usual self. He made a mental note to himself to speak with Jim the first chance he got.

Wells greeted them by the house, with a smirk. "I see, I invite you guys to our bust and you crash it."

Jim smiled. "You never did throw very good parties."

Wells rolled his eyes. "At least you guys can stay and help clean up the mess. We have a few more kids inside that need to be booked."

"Sure," Jim followed Wells towards the house, as Pete continued on to the cruiser and put the drug dealer inside. With Teddy secure, Pete himself headed back to the house to help with the last of the arrests.

He found one young man sitting on the back steps, with his hands already handcuffed behind him. "Okay, son, let's go." Pete helped him up and led him towards the car.

"Officer, am I going to jail?" The young boy looked about sixteen years old, with red hair and freckles.

"Depends on your record," Pete replied.

"I've never done this before. My friend, Larry, dragged me to this party. Man, my parents are going to kill me." The young boy sighed as he took his seat in the back of the cruiser.

Pete felt a little sorry for him. "What's your name?"

"Ralph Curry. Officer, I swear I never touched any of those drugs." The boy's pleading green eyes looked at Pete.

"Don't worry, Ralph. If this is your first offense, you'll probably get off light. I'll talk to our sergeant about it."

"Really?" The kid's face lit up at Pete's suggestion.

"We'll, see." Pete didn't want to get the kid's hopes up too much.

Jim came up with one more teenager from the party. The young girl was obviously high and kept giggling. "You're awful cute for a pig."

Rolling his eyes, Jim placed her in the front seat. "Can you believe these kids?"

"The world's a crazy place." Pete walked over and sat in the driver's seat as Jim took up a position in the rear.

The young girl was still trying to hit on Jim, as Pete pulled the car out of the alley, and headed for the police station. "Say cutie, how's about you and me goin' out sometime." She twisted around and placed her chin on the top of the seat.

Jim shook his head. "No thanks."

Pete smiled. "You're wasting your time. He's happily married."

A pouting look came to her face and the girl swung back forward in the seat, but then she turned her attention to Pete. "Say, you're kind of cute too."

"Sorry, honey, I'm not available either." A small lie was worth it to get to the station with his sanity intact.

"Man, you pigs sure are a drag." Thankfully that shut her up and the rest of the ride to the police station was blissfully quiet.


Pete turned in the last of his reports and left his partner still plugging away at his at the table. He went to Mac's office and knocked on the door. The watch commander looked up and waved him in. "What did you decide on Ralph Curry?"

Mac took a break from his paperwork. "Wells told me that he didn't find anything on the kid and had set him on the back porch to keep him out of the way. We checked his record and he's clean. Since he didn't take any of the drugs, nor have any on him, we might as well cut him loose. His parents are on the way."

A look of relief crossed Pete's face. "Good. I think that kid deserved a break. He was pretty scared."

With a wry smile, Mac returned to his work. "Let's just hope that it scared him enough so he won't go to another drug party."

"Yeah, thanks, Mac." Pete left the office and found Jim finishing his last report.

Jim placed them in the tray. "Are you ready to hit the streets?"

Planting himself on the corner of the report desk, Pete shook his head no. "I think we should talk."

"About what?" Jim looked up from where he was still sitting.

"You took your eyes off of Teddy's hands. Reed, you're not on probation anymore, you know better."

Jim nodded soberly. "Yeah, I guess I blew that one."

Moving to the empty chair, Pete looked his partner in the eyes. "There's more, you seem to be a step behind today. First the accident this morning and now this."

"Pete, give me a break. Mac had me riding the desk for almost a week. So I'm a little rusty," Jim protested.

"Distracted, is what I'd call it." Pete challenged. "Listen partner, I know you've got a lot on your mind right now, but you can't let it interfere with your job."

With a guilty look, Jim examined the toes of his shoes. "I have been thinking about it a lot today. I'm trying to calculate how long it'll take to pay off the hospital bills."

"I'm telling you this for your own good, Reed. You need to leave those problems in your locker when you put that uniform on. You need to be focused on police work. And vice versa, don't take your work problems home with you. You'll maintain your sanity a lot longer."

"But, Pete…" Jim countered.

"Jim, in this job you can't afford too many mistakes like today. You need to forget about the hospital, the insurance company, Jean and Jimmy. Otherwise some crook will take care of those problems for you, permanently. Do you read me?"

"Yeah, I read you." Jim's shoulder's sagged.

"Good." Finished, Pete stood up. "Let's stop and talk to the Curry kid before we leave."

"Okay." Jim followed Pete to a room where the young boy was nervously sitting alone at a table.

"Good news, Ralph." Pete smiled. "I talked to my sergeant and you're free to go as soon as your parents get here."

A look of relief crossed Ralph's face. "Thanks, Officer Malloy. I appreciate it."

Pete sat on the edge of the table. "Of course, now you have to promise me you'll stay away from parties like this."

"Believe me, officer, I have no intention of going to one of those ever again. Those kids were wigged out in ways that scared me. I don't want to ever be like that. Scout's honor, I won't go back." Ralph held up the two finger sign to back up his statement.

"Glad to hear that." Pete patted Ralph on the shoulder and stood up to leave, when Mac escorted an older couple into the room.

The woman immediately ran up to Ralph and ran her fingers through his hair. "Oh, my baby, are you okay?"

Ralph seemed a little uncomfortable with his mother's open concern. "Mom, I'm fine. You don't need to worry."

The woman still clung to her son's arm and searched him with her eyes for any sign of injury. "We were so worried when the police called. I knew that Larry wasn't a good friend for you."

Ralph tried to pull away from his mother's grasp. "Larry's okay, Mom. At least, he used to be."

The older man stood in the door, with his arms crossed, and an equally cross look on his face. "That's it, Ralph. You're grounded for a long time for this stunt!"

Ralph went from trying to escape from his mom, to looking at his dad with dismay. "Ahh, Dad, I didn't know what it was until we got there. How was I supposed to know they were doing drugs?"

"I don't want to hear your excuses, son. How Larry's parents discipline him is up to them, but I don't aim to let you get in this situation again. Do you realize how it feels to have the police calling us up and asking us to come get our only son? You will not repeat this mistake because you're grounded."

Pete recognized the angry look that came to Ralph's face. It was the look of a son that was tired of his father's rules restricting him. He knew that look, because he had worn it so many times himself. Pete could see the wheels turning in the boy's head; he was already determined to find a way around his dad's rules.

"I guess I'll just grow up in my room." Ralph again tried to push his mom away. "Mom, I'm fine."

The father turned to Mac. "Is there anything else, officer?"

Mac shook his head no. "He's free to go."

The father opened the door and Ralph reluctantly walked through, with his mother close behind. Pete stood for a moment watching the kid leave. Then, without a word, he stormed out of the room to the police car. Jim followed, trying to keep up.

Pete sat down in the car and slammed the door. He turned the car on and sharply pulled out of the parking spot. Though he tried to calm himself, the anger kept rising. The Curry's were just like his parents and he knew exactly what Ralph was feeling. He was a young man who felt trapped and angry at a set of parents that were over protective and didn't allow a kid to make a mistake. At least Pete was free from his parents. Free, until four days from now, when their plane would land at the Los Angeles airport.

Jim stared at his upset partner. "What's got you?"

Pete couldn't keep the resentment out of his voice. "You want to know what my parents were like? Just like that! I could see it in that kid's eyes. His parents are going to drive him to getting into more trouble if they're not careful."

"Pete, you need to forget about your parents while you're at work. It's turning you into a real grump." Jim then turned his head to the other side of the car, with a triumphant smile tugging at his lips.

Pete gave his partner his classic 'I can't believe you did that' look. Only Jim could turn his own words on him so quickly.


The next morning, Pete sat during the briefing, glancing at his watch. He looked at the empty chair next to him and sighed. With the brief half over, the door cracked open and Jim slid into the seat. Pete glanced at him and noticed the bags under his partner's eyes.

When the brief was over, Pete stood and waited, while MacDonald lectured Jim on being late. Finally, Jim walked over to him. Pete could tell that his partner was not in the mood for any teasing. "Ready?"

"Yeah." Jim somberly collected his gear and walked out of the door.

Pete waited until they were in the safety of the police cruiser before starting a conversation. "Did you oversleep?"

"Yeah." That was all Jim volunteered, as he stared out the window.

"So any news from the doctor about Jean?" Pete changed the topic.

"Dr. Chang is going to let her out on the 9th."

"That's good news." Pete tried to be cheerful.

Silence was his partner's only response.

"So how's Jimmy?" Pete tried to keep the conversation going.

"Fine." Jim was really in a grumpy mood.

With a sigh, Pete gave up trying to drag Jim out of his funk and concentrated on driving through the busy streets of Los Angeles.

"1-Adam-12, report of street light out at Sepulveda and Main, direct traffic until repaired."

"1-Adam-12, roger." Jim acknowledged. "What a great way to start the day," he continued sarcastically.


"1-Adam-12, clear." Jim grumbled into the radio. "This is just not my day."

"Doesn't seem like it," Pete agreed. "She didn't get you did she?"

"No, but not for lack of trying."

"You're lucky her aim was so bad." Pete joked.

"With all those vases on that shelf she was bound to get lucky eventually. I wonder what made her go berserk like that?"

"Who knows; we just write the reports."

"Yeah." Jim tried to concentrate on the road; but to his dismay, his eyes began to get droopy again. He had been fighting all morning to stay awake. Shuffling in his seat, he gave a frustrated sigh. "Hey, Pete can we…"

"No!" Malloy stated emphatically.

"No, what? How do you know what I was going to ask?"

"We are not going to stop for another cup of coffee. You've had three today already and its not even noon." Pete told his partner.

"Two." Jim countered.

"Three." Malloy rebutted. "Our first stop was at Joey's, and then you had a cup at the station when we took in the drug store 459."

"Oh yeah," Jim sighed.

"And then we stopped again at the Java Shack just before Mrs. Leland blew her stack," Pete continued.

"Okay, okay. You act like I'm a hype asking for a fix."

"I know you're having trouble staying awake, but Jim, downing a bucket load of caffeine is not going to help. If you keep drinking coffee, I'll be peeling you off the ceiling of the patrol care before long."

"What would you suggest then?"

"A good night's sleep," Pete replied.

"You're a lot of help," Jim grumbled.

"1-Adam-12, domestic dispute, 16002 Ma Ling Road, Apartment three, handle code two."

As they approached the apartment door, they could hear the loud arguing of a couple in a language that sounded like Chinese. Pete pulled out his nightstick and knocked on the door. "Police."

There was no answer, but they could still hear arguing inside and then the screaming of a woman in pain. Pete knocked again louder. "Police, open up!"

When the woman screamed again, Jim didn't wait. He raised his foot and kicked the door open. His momentum carried him into the room where he saw an Asian man shaking a woman by the throat. Reed hurried forward and grabbed the man's arms. He turned the man around and threw him forcefully onto the couch, face first.

Pete quickly followed Jim into the room and helped the woman, who struggled to regain her breath. It didn't take her long, because she began yelling at the man again.

"Ma'am, calm down, please." Pete now found himself restraining her as she grabbed a folded fan and began to beat at her husband, still yelling in Chinese. "Ma'am, do you speak English?"

Finally the woman seemed to realize there were two other people in the room and she backed off a little. "Yes, I speak English." Her accent was strong and she was still breathing heavy.

Meanwhile, Jim was trying to control the combative husband, who appeared high. Though the man was small, he was muscular and was trying to break free from where Jim was kneeling on him.

The woman brushed her hair back on her head, revealing the bruises on her neck. "I tired of him coming home like this. I his wife, but no longer!" The last part of her comment was in Chinese and directed at her husband.

By now Jim had managed to handcuff the man and he had calmed down. "She's my wife. Why are you here?" Demanded the man.

"Your neighbors reported a disturbance." Pete replied.

Jim directed the man to stand up.

"She's my wife. Why police come here?"

"Sir, you can't just beat on your wife when you want to." Jim tried to explain.

"That right!" The woman declared. "We not in China. This America! I not want to be your wife no more!"

Pete restrained her as she again tried to swat her husband with the fan. "Ma'am, do you wish to press charges against your husband?"

"Press charges?" She asked confused.

"Do you want him to go to jail?" Pete rephrased the question.

"Yes! Yes! Lock him up." The woman looked at her husband defiantly.

The husband realized the situation he was in and began to change his tune. "I sorry. No more beat wife. Please, let me go."

"Sorry, pa,." Jim replied. "You have to go to jail."

The husband then began pleading with his wife in Chinese. She just crossed her arms and shook her head. She continued to ignore his pleadings as Jim started to lead the husband out the door. Realizing he was not getting through, the man yelled again at his wife, as Jim dragged him down the hall.

Pete and the wife, who was also yelling at her husband again, followed. It took a while for Pete to get the report filled out, as he had to constantly interrupt their arguing. Finally she placed her signature on the paper and Pete entered the car to start it towards the station.

Mr. Wong was now crying as he realized that his wife might really leave him. "I don't understand. Wife never leave in China."

Pete didn't offer any advice, for he figured it wouldn't do any good anyway.

"Hey, Pete, you want to take seven at the station, since we're heading there? I brought my lunch today to try and save some money."


They had just finished their reports when Mac stepped up to them. "Malloy, I need to speak with you in my office."

Jim paused for a moment, but realized Mac only wanted Pete. "I'll go put us code seven."

"I'll catch up with you in the break room." Pete watched his partner walk away, before following his boss into his office. "What's up, Mac?"

The watch commander sat behind his desk. "That's what I want to know. How's Reed doing?"

Taking a deep breath, Pete took a seat in front of his boss. "I was debating coming to you."

"Spill it, Malloy."

"He's been distracted a lot by this accident. He's certainly not as sharp as he usually is." Pete admitted. "Not to mention he's having trouble getting enough sleep."

"Should we pull him off of patrol?"

"Other than staying awake, he's been better today than yesterday. To be honest, I don't want to pull him just yet. He needs to learn how to work through this."

"Is that his training officer speaking or his friend?" Mac eyed Pete critically. "Malloy, he's off probation, so he's not in danger of being fired. If he needs more time to handle his problems we can give it to him."

The phone rang before Pete could reply. Mac picked it up. "MacDonald. Who? Okay, send him on back." Hanging up the phone, he looked at Pete. "This could get interesting."

Confused, Pete looked up the hallway and realized that the man being escorted back to Mac's office was Jim's brother-in-law, Stephen Garrett. Stephen seemed nervous, as he kept looking over his shoulder, before stepping into Mac's office. "Sergeant, Malloy." He nodded in greeting.

Pete stood up. "Jim's in the break room, I'll go get him."

"No." Stephen held out his hand. "I don't want him to know I'm here. He's already mad at me."

"How can we help you, Mr. Garrett?" Mac asked.

"I want to know if Jim's doing okay at work. His sister and I are really concerned that he's not ready to go back on patrol just yet." Stephen adjusted his bangs, while keeping an eye on the hallway outside of the office.

Pete and Mac exchanged glances.

"Mr. Garrett, it's been over a week since the accident, why now are you showing this concern?" Mac asked.

"I'm not here to get Jim in trouble, it's just that he hasn't been himself lately. Police work is so dangerous, and with all that's happened, we don't want to take any chances that something might happen to him." Stephen replied.

"Have you mentioned your concerns to Jim?" Pete spoke up.

Stephen gave Pete a frustrated look. "You know how stubborn he is. When Janet and I tried to talk to him last night, he about took our heads off." Again he checked the hallway.

Now Jim's bad mood made sense to Pete; he was still mad at how his family was treating him. "Mr. Garrett, Jim's a very good police officer. You don't need to worry so much about him. I'm his partner and it's my job to watch his back."

Stephen became defensive. "I didn't come here to attack Jim's chosen career. I just think he shouldn't be patrolling right now."

Pete wanted to stand up for his partner. "Jim thinks you're overreacting. He doesn't really appreciate how you've been treating him lately."

"May I remind you, I've known Jim longer than you; I'll decide when I should be worried."

Mac decided to intervene. "Mr. Garrett, we appreciate your concern. Let me assure you, if we think Jim is in any danger we will pull him. We don't want him patrolling any more than you do if he's not handling himself appropriately."

Stephen nodded and looked at Pete apologetically. "The last thing I want to do is get Jim in any trouble; we're just worried. Please, don't let him know I spoke with you." He turned to leave.

Something was bugging Pete, so he walked to the door to prevent Stephen from leaving just yet. "I don't understand. Jim was hardly hurt and Jean's doing just fine. Why are you so worried about him?"

A look of surprise came to Stephen's face, as if he expected them to know something they apparently didn't. "This isn't just about the accident last week. Never mind, I shouldn't have come. Sorry for taking up your time, I really need to get back to work. Thanks." Stephen opened the door disappeared down the hallway.

"Malloy, what do you think?" Mac looked concerned.

"I don't know, to be honest," Pete admitted.

"Obviously we aren't the only ones noticing Jim's unusual behavior." Mac stated. "You're his training officer, should we let him patrol?"

Pete leaned back on the wall. "Let me see how he handles this afternoon before we take him off patrol. I know Jim doesn't want to go back to the desk. Trust me Mac, I'll have him back in a flash the minute he crosses that line."

"Okay, Malloy, I'll trust your judgement for now; but I want to talk to him before you head back out." Mac glanced at the clock on the wall. "I've taken up most of your lunch break, let me buy you a cup of coffee."

"Thanks, Mac. I sure could use one right about now." Pete led the way to the break room. As they rounded the corner, they were surprised to find a few officers gathered in the hallway, chatting softly, and drinking their coffee outside the break room.

Mac's brow furrowed when he saw this. He pushed past Pete and confronted the officers. "Is there a reason why all of you are out here instead of in the break room?"

Woods was the one who spoke up. "Mac, the kid's been through so much lately, we didn't have the heart to wake him."

Upon hearing this, Mac peaked into the break room, with Pete looking over his shoulder. They both looked at each other when they observed the scene.

Sitting at a table, in the middle of the room, with his head resting on his arms, and clearly asleep, was Jim Reed. He had a sandwich lying in front of him, with only two bites out of it, and a cup of coffee cooling next to his arm. His lack of sleep had finally caught up with him.

Mac sighed and Pete could read the look in his eyes. Mac was about to step forward when Jim moaned in his sleep. Mac froze.

Jim's body twitched and he mumbled something unintelligible. Suddenly he jerked up, "Dad, Look Out!" The movement caused Jim to fall out of his chair, knocking the coffee cup to the floor in the process. He lay on the floor shocked at the rude awakening.

Pete rushed forward to help Jim to his feet. "Are you okay?"

Jim's face turned a deep red when he realized what had happened. He wiped himself off, trying to avoid looking at Pete and Mac. "Yes, I'm fine," he said a bit defensively.

MacDonald crossed his arms on his chest. "Go home, Reed."

"Mac," Jim started to protest.

The sergeant held up his hand silencing the young officer. "Reed, if you're too tired to eat your lunch, you're too tired to patrol. Go home. Malloy, take him there."

Pete gently grabbed Jim's arm, to direct him to the door. "Let's go, partner."

With an indignant flourish, Jim yanked his arm out of Pete's grasp. "I'm not a kid, Malloy." He headed towards the door, trying to ignore the shocked looks on his co-workers' faces.

Mac stared at the coffee spilled on the floor. Now it seemed that Stephen was right, there was more to this than the accident that injured Jean. He noticed Woods and the other officers still standing there, a little uncertain of what to do. "Someone clean up this mess." With that, he headed towards his office with a determined look on his face.


Pete watched Jim change. His partner didn't even look at him once as Pete escorted him to the patrol car. They had driven for a while, in silence, when Pete decided he had to say something. "Jim, do you want to talk about what's bothering you?"

"Nothing's bothering me!"

Pete was growing tired of Jim's charade. "Right. you just survived a car wreck caused by a drunk driver, your wife's still in the hospital, you haven't had a decent night's sleep since it all happened, and I'm supposed to believe that there's nothing wrong."

"Okay, so maybe I have a few things to worry about, but that doesn't give everyone a reason to treat me like I'm a kid. I can take care of myself."

Pete pulled the car into Jim's driveway, turned the car off, and faced his partner. "Jim, we just want to help you. Going through this can't be easy."

Jim turned to face Pete, with a glare in his eyes. "Maybe I don't want your help." He shoved the door open and exited the car, slamming the door behind him.

Pete was determined not to leave his partner mad and hurried to follow. "Jim, I'm not trying to baby you. Listen, you haven't been yourself lately. You're my partner and I have to be able to trust you out there. Right now, I'm not sure I can."

With his key in the door, Jim paused. His shoulders sagged a little in defeat. "I'm sorry, Pete. I didn't think about it that way."

Placing a comforting hand on his friend's shoulder, Pete tried to reassure him. "You don't have to go through this alone, Jim."

"I know, everyone has been helpful. I guess I just don't like all the attention." Jim unlocked his door. "You want a cup of coffee or something?"

"Sure, partner." Pete followed Jim into his house. He watched Jim toss his keys on a side table and leave his jacket on the couch. The house didn't seem right and Pete began to sense why Jim wasn't happy to come home. Usually when Pete came in this house, Jean and Jimmy were present. He could see the baby playpen and toys and some of Jean's things sitting on the couch, but it wasn't the same with them both gone. For Pete, being home alone was a release; but for Jim, coming home to an empty house was only a reminder of the recent tragedy.

He followed Jim into the kitchen and watched as he attempted to make a pot of coffee. For some reason Jim's hands seemed to be having trouble opening the jar. When he finally got the lid off, it slipped out of his hand and spilled coffee all over the floor. "Dang!"

Pete jumped up from the table. "Jim, I'll get that. Why don't you let me make the coffee?"

Jim was about to protest, but Pete gently guided his exhausted friend to a chair. "I guess I'm all thumbs today."

"You're helpless without Jean, aren't you?" He retrieved a broom and started to sweep up the mess.

"Is it that obvious?" Jim flashed a weak smile at his partner.

Leaning on the broom, Pete examined the tired look on Jim's face. "Why don't you get some sleep. I'll finish cleaning this up."

Jim was finally beginning to give in to his body. "Are you sure? Some host I make."

Pete put the broom aside. "Come on, I'll tuck you in if it'll make you feel better."

With a laugh, Jim allowed Pete to guide him back to the bedroom. "Somehow I don't think it'll be the same. You're not as cute as Jean."

Pete pretended to be hurt at the comment. "I know plenty of women who think I'm cute."

He watched as Jim sat on the edge of the bed, kicked his shoes off, and then leaned back on his pillows, not even bothering to take his clothes off. Retrieving a blanket, neatly folded at the end of the bed, Pete gently laid it over Jim. His partner's eyes were already closed. Quietly, Pete headed for the door.

"Thanks, Pete." Jim whispered, before he could leave.

"No problem, see you tomorrow." Pete left the room, closing the door behind him.

He returned to the kitchen, finished cleaning up the spilled coffee grounds, and turned off the stove. When he looked at his watch, he realized the time and called the station to tell Mac where he was.

"Malloy, head in when you make sure Reed is okay. I'll have someone in an L-car finish the shift with you," Mac directed.

"I'm on my way back now." Pete hung up the phone. He tiptoed back to the bedroom and peered through the door to check on Jim. He was glad to see that his partner was still in the same position and snoring softly.

Pete walked into the living room to head back to work, but he felt his foot step on a child's toy. Stopping, Pete leaned over and picked it up. A smile came to his lips as he thought about the blue-eyed baby that played with it. He tossed it into the playpen, but as he started for the door again, he glanced at the fireplace. The array of pictures displayed there caught his eye.

Walking closer, he noticed one of the pictures showed Jim as a teenager, in his motor cross uniform with a trophy, and his father standing proudly next to him. Next to that was a family picture from Jim's childhood with his parents and his sister. Further along was a black and white wedding photograph of Jim's parents, then one from Janet and Stephen's wedding. On the other side of the mantle were pictures of Jean's family. Even though he had seen these pictures before, Pete realized now how important family must be to the Reed's for them to display these pictures so prominently.

Back in his own apartment, Pete had chosen to adorn his walls with photographs of muscle cars and places he had been. He couldn't recall a single picture of his parents, or other relatives that he had bothered to display. A small pang of guilt ate at him as he realized that maybe he was partly to blame for his poor relationship with his own family.

The sound of the front door opening disturbed Pete's thoughts.

"Jim?" Janet's voice called out.

Pete turned in her direction as she approached him. He noticed that she had Jimmy in one arm and a bag full of groceries in the other. "Hey, Janet. He's sleeping. Let me take those groceries."

Happy to lighten her load, Janet allowed Pete to take the paper sack, but she couldn't hide her concern. "Is everything okay? I thought you guys would still be working."

"Jim fell asleep in the lunch room, so Mac made me bring him home."

"Oh dear," Janet placed a cooing Jimmy in his playpen. "I know he hasn't been sleeping well lately. Thanks for bringing him home, Pete."

"No problem. I wanted to make sure he was okay before I left." Pete followed her into the kitchen.

"You're such a good friend to him. Do you want to stay for dinner?" Janet started unloading the groceries.

"No thanks, Janet. I've got to get back to work. You've got your hands full as it is."

"Oh, it wouldn't be any extra trouble, are you sure? I've got plenty of food. You could come back for dinner after work."

Before Pete could answer, Jimmy began to cry in the living room. Janet hurried out the door and picked the baby up to comfort him. "Even little Jimmy misses his Mommy. He's been really grumpy too. Are you sure I can't talk you into staying?"

Pete continued towards the door. "I'd love to, but I've got to get back before I'm in Mac's dog house. I'll see you later." Relief filled Pete when he stepped out of the Reed house and back into his patrol car. Then the guilt set in. He should have stayed and helped Janet, but being in that house was depressing.

Returning to duty didn't improve his day. His temporary partner turned out to be the grumpiest guy in the department and they ended up working late due to a lengthy recovered property report. Finally, he walked into the locker room to get out of his uniform. Woods was the only person left when he entered. Pete speed changed into his civilian clothes and turned to leave, only to realize that Woods was still standing there.

"Is Reed okay?"

"Yeah, he was just tired. There's nothing to worry about."

"Good." A relieved Woods followed Pete to the parking lot. "See you tomorrow, Malloy."

Pete waved goodbye, but as he drove home to his apartment he couldn't help but wonder if what he had told Woods was true. If Jim was worried about Jean and the baby, then why had he shouted "Dad, Look out!" during his dream? Pete was deep in thought, as he unlocked his door, when he realized that his phone was ringing.

Pete pushed open his door and rushed to the phone. "Hello?"

"Peter, it's your mother. I've got great news!"

"What is that, Mom?"

"Not only did we manage to get an earlier flight, but your father and I have decided to stay a few extra days. Do you have a pen and paper handy? I'll give you the flight number."

With a heavy sigh, Pete desperately looked around his apartment for something to write on and a pencil. "Hang on, Mom." Could this day get any worse?


The next morning, Pete was almost dressed when he heard someone burst into the locker room. The individual jerked open his locker door and slammed something down. Curious, Pete glanced around the corner and saw Jim angrily throwing his shoes into the bottom of his locker. "Jim, what's wrong?"

He looked up at Pete. "Thanks a lot, partner."

"What do you mean?" Pete was taken aback by Reed's rare display of emotion.

"Mac stuck me on desk duty today!" Jim pulled out his uniform. "All I did was fall asleep in the lunch room!"

"It wasn't my idea, but I think maybe Mac's right."

"Does he think I'm going crazy or something? That's what everyone's going to think. That I can't handle this." Jim took his civilian shirt off and put on his uniform shirt.

Pete didn't know what to say, but Jim could read his face. "That's it. They think I'm a mental case. That's just great. Jim Reed gets into a fender bender and blows his mind. That will look great on my promotion packet."

"Jim, no one thinks you're going crazy." Pete tried to reassure his partner. "We just think you need some time to get your problems sorted out."

Jim finished tying his shoes and threw the rest of his stuff in his locker. "I don't need to be riding a desk to do that. If you'll excuse me, I have a phone log to start." With that, Jim stormed out of the locker room.

Pete headed towards the roll call room and walked up to Mac. "Can we talk?"

Mac looked up at Pete. "Not now. Stop by my office before you leave. You're with Morris today."

With a frustrated sigh, Pete took up his seat next to a beaming Morris. He waited until the briefing was over and then followed Mac to his office. The sergeant closed the door behind Pete and then walked over to his desk to sit down.

Pete knew that he was senior enough to get away with questioning Mac. "Why did you put him on desk duty?"

Mac pointed at the chair and indicated Pete should have a seat. "Malloy, what happened yesterday made up my mind. I did some digging and found the report for the accident that killed Jim's parents." He picked up an old manila folder and handed it to Pete.

Pete flipped it open and began glancing through the information recorded in it.

Mac continued. "It was a drunk driver, just like the recent accident. The driver crossed the median and hit the front driver side of the vehicle, killing the driver instantly."

"Jim's father," Pete read that part of the report, but then he saw something that he didn't expect.

"It says there were three occupants in the vehicle!"

"Right, Richard Reed was the driver, Helen Reed the front passenger, and James Reed the back seat passenger."

Pete stared at the report. "I didn't know he was in the car."

Mac leaned forward on his desk. "Neither did I, but I began to suspect something when I heard Jim yesterday. Perhaps this is what Stephen was referring to when he said it is more than the recent accident. According to the medical report, Jim was hardly injured. He walked away from the accident that killed both of his parents, just like the accident with Jean."

Tossing the report back on Mac's desk, Pete took a deep breath. "So you think maybe he's been flashing back to the previous accident? That's why you put him on desk duty."

Mac nodded. "I'm going to schedule him to see the department psychologist. I want to know that he is 100% before I put him back on the streets."

"Mac, why don't you let me talk to him first. He's already worried about being labeled crazy. Let me see if this is what's really bothering him before we take that next step." Pete suggested.

Mac leaned back in his chair in thought. He knew that a psychological evaluation was not something any police officer wanted on their record. "Okay, Pete, I'll give you a few days; but if he doesn't get better soon, I'm making the appointment. Now you'd better get to the streets."

Pete steeled himself and walked out of the office. His first impulse was to walk to the front desk and talk to Jim, but seeing Morris, waiting patiently by the door reminded him that duty comes first. Reluctantly, he followed his temporary partner out the door to start the day.

For the rest of the shift, all Pete could think of was getting back to the station and talking to Jim. He kept watching every tick of the clock, praying for the day to end. Unfortunately, their last call took them over watch by fifteen minutes. Pete ran into the station, but Jim was not at the front desk. He poked his head in the locker room and saw Woods getting ready to leave. "Have you seen Jim?"

"Sorry, Malloy. He left about ten minutes ago. I think he was going to the hospital to be with Jean." Woods shrugged.

Pete's shoulders sagged in defeat and he made his way back to the report table to finish the last of the paper work. Thirty minutes later, he finally changed out of uniform and drove back to his apartment. Depressed, he sank on the couch and stared at the ceiling. He knew that Jim had been spending most of his off duty time at the hospital with Jean. Glancing at his watch, he realized that he could probably catch the last of visiting time if he hurried. Determined, Pete pushed himself to his feet and drove to the hospital.

On the second floor, Pete paused outside of the door to Jean's room. He prepared himself for facing Jim, and then opened the door. To his dismay, he found Jean alone and quietly sleeping. He entered the room and sat in the chair that had been pulled up next to her bed. He let her sleep a few more moments before reaching out to gently shake her. "Jean?"

He thought she wasn't going to wake up, when finally her eyes fluttered open. She certainly looked much better now, with only a small bandage over her right eye and the bruises almost gone on her face. Upon realizing she had a guest, Jean opened her eyes wide and smiled.

"Pete, I didn't know you were here." Jean reached down and pushed herself up to a sitting position in her bed. "You just missed Jim, I think. He was here earlier."

"Yeah, I was hoping to catch him. I hate to wake you up, but I wanted to talk to you about something."

Jean saw the worried look on his face. "What is it, Pete?"

"It's about Jim. He hasn't really been himself lately."

Reaching out, Jean gently took Pete's hand. "I know. Janet and I have been talking about it. The accident really has him shook up. I wish I could be there for him, but there is not much I can do from a hospital bed."

"Is it the accident that killed his parents that's bothering him?" Pete asked.

Jean nodded and a strand of blonde hair fell down into her face. "I think his nightmares are back. I can see it in his eyes."

Pete leaned forward in his chair. "Jean, could you please tell me about the accident. I only found out today he was in the car because Mac looked up the accident report."

Closing her eyes, Jean gathered her strength. Tears were threatening in her eyes, as she thought back to that fateful day. "Oh, it was terrible, Pete. It was near the end of the school year, and Jim and I were supposed to get married that June. He went home for the weekend, to be with them, and to do his laundry.

"The next thing I know, Janet is calling me, in tears, about the accident. I went with her to the hospital to stay with him that night. He only had minor injuries, because his father had just installed seatbelts in the back seat; but they kept him overnight anyway. They didn't tell him until the morning that his parents had both died. He had a terrible time getting over that. I think he felt tremendous guilt for surviving.

"Anyway, we postponed the wedding, and he moved in with Janet and Stephen for the summer. That's when he and Stephen really started arguing so much. He had nightmares for months. Janet and I thought he was never going to get over it, but finally he did."

Jean took the moment to wipe away her tears. "His parents were wonderful people. I really miss them a lot and I know he does too. His mother helped me pick out my wedding dress and his father encouraged him when Jim talked about applying at the police academy." Jean tried to control her emotions. "It's so hard watching him go through this all again. He won't admit it, but I know that he's been having the nightmare again. Pete, could you please check up on him? I'm really worried."

Pete retrieved a Kleenex for Jean and grasped her hand tighter. "Don't worry, I'll go right over there and make sure he's okay."

Dabbing at her tears, Jean managed a small smile. "Pete, you are terrific."

A nurse leaned in the door. "Sir, visiting hours are over. I'm afraid you'll have to leave."

Pete rose to his feet and reached down to give Jean a comforting hug. "I'll see you again soon. Don't worry about Jim, I'll talk to him." Pete left the hospital and drove straight to the Reed's residence.

When he rang the doorbell, Jean's father, Roy, answered the door. "Pete, what a surprise. Come on in." He opened the door wider and allowed Pete into the house. "Jim, it's Pete."

Jim appeared in the kitchen door, with Jimmy in his arms, and a smile on his face. "Hey Pete, what brings you here so late?"

Pete smiled and waved at Jimmy. "I missed you at the station and I wanted to come see if you were still mad at me."

"Oh, yeah," Jim placed the squirming baby on the floor. "Sorry about that, Pete. I wasn't really angry with you, just the situation. I'm not mad anymore." The happy father picked up a toy and waved it in front of his son. Intrigued, Jimmy reached for it and tried to place it in his mouth.

Evelyn came from the kitchen, with several cups of coffee on a tray. "Pete Malloy, what a pleasant surprise. Have a drink."

"Thanks." Pete accepted a cup and took a sip. He felt a little awkward because he didn't want to confront his partner in front of his in-laws. "So how is my godson doing?" He joined Jim on the floor.

Jim continued to tease Jimmy with the stuffed elephant. "Just look at him! He's a growing boy. Just wait until Mommy sees you. Oh, that reminds me." Jim paused in playing with his son, to look up at Pete. "We're having a welcome home party for Jean on the 9th. You're invited."

"Great." Pete smiled, but then it disappeared. "Oh wait, I have to pick my parents up at the airport at three."

"No problem." Jim reached down and tickled Jimmy, who laughed joyously. "It's going to start around noon. Just come here and leave for the airport later."

"Okay, you talked me into it." Pete enjoyed the scene as father and son continued to bond on the living room floor. It looked like he wasn't going to have the opportunity to talk to Jim alone tonight, but he seemed to be doing fine.

Suddenly Jimmy stopped laughing and a funny look appeared on his face. A few seconds later, it disappeared and a noticeable odor filled the air. Jim laughed. "Oh, oh, somebody just dropped a load." With a flourish he picked up Jimmy and felt the diaper. "Yep. I guess we'd better take care of that."

Evelyn hurried forward. "I'll take care of it."

Jim turned away from her, keeping Jimmy out of her reach. "I know how to change a diaper."

A pouting look came to her face. "Fine, take away the joy of being a grandmother."

Jim smiled and relented. "Okay, maybe you can help me." He started towards the changing room and glanced back at his partner. "Care to join us?"

Pete knew where to draw the line and decided to make his exit. "No thanks, partner. I think I'll head out. I just wanted to stop by."

"Okay, thanks, Pete. I'll see you tomorrow. Wave goodbye, Jimmy." Jim took his son's arm and waved it at Pete.

With a laugh, Pete waved back and headed for the door. Maybe Jim would get better on his own and they were all over reacting. He sure hoped so, but as he drove home Pete remembered that the bags were still under Jim's eyes.

Pete entered his quiet apartment and sat down at his table. His thoughts went back to what a terrible experience it must have been for Jim when he lost his parents. One moment they were there, and literally the next, they were gone. Knowing that Jim had been in the car only seemed to make it that much worse. Pete couldn't explain the feeling that was eating away at him at that moment.

Finally, he stood up with a purpose and went into his bedroom. Opening up the closet door, he pulled the light string to illuminate its interior. Up in the corner, he spotted a shoe box, hidden under some old sweaters. Retrieving it, he took it back to the kitchen table and opened up the lid. Inside was a pile of pictures he had always intended to put in an album someday. Digging toward the bottom, he found what he was looking for, a picture of his parents. There was his dad standing there, with that goofy grin on his face, with his arm around his mom. Pete was standing in front of them, with a small smile, as he endured the family moment.

As he looked at more of the memories from his younger days, Pete couldn't help but feel a strange longing overcome him. He looked up at the phone and then reached out for it. After dialing the number, he listened to it ring, and prayed someone would answer.

Finally, a man's voice came over the line. "Hello?"

"Dad," Pete choked out the word. "Uhh yeah, I was calling to make sure everything is still on for the 9th." Pete couldn't bring himself to tell his father the real reason for the call; he just had to hear their voices and reassure himself that they were still there.


The end of the next day, Pete hurried into the locker room, trying to get away from the talkative Morris. He went to his locker and changed fast, hoping to catch Jim before he left. This time luck was with him. When he rounded the corner, Jim was opening his locker. "Hey partner, how was the desk?"

Jim gave Pete a wry smile. "Let's see, I managed to avert a small tragedy when Mrs. Hoover called about her traffic tickets and threatened to turn us all over to the city council for being meanies. I helped a little girl discover where to find her lost dog and gave out the parking ticket department's number thirty times. How was your day?"

"Are my ears still bleeding? I think Morris talked them off." Pete leaned on the locker next to Jim.

Before their conversation could go any further, Wells and Woods entered the locker room. "Jerry, I'm telling you, those stay at home nurses are expensive. The retirement homes are a better deal, but you should have seen the look on Pop's face when we mentioned visiting a few. He's not going to like it if we place him in one. He'll never forgive me."

Woods listened patiently to his partner as he opened his locker. "What did your sister say?"

"Oh, she's all for it." Wells walked by Jim and Pete. "Hey, Reed, Malloy. So anyway, we have a few choices, but like I said, the hard part is convincing Pop to go."

"What harm is there in having him look?" Woods commented.

Wells gave Woods a doubtful glance. "We plan on it, even if we have to drag him kicking and screaming. Good thing he's in a wheel chair because his aim was much better with that cane he used to carry around."

Jim had finished changing and turned to leave. Pete could see that his good mood had vanished and hurried to catch up with him. "Hey, Jim, why don't I buy you a cup of coffee or something, so we can talk."

Checking his watch, Jim exited the police station and walked up to his car. "I'd like to Pete, but I've got to hurry to the hospital to see Jean and then get home to get the place ready for her coming home tomorrow."

Before Pete could push the issue any further, Jim entered his car. Frustrated, Pete watched the small sports car drive away. Then he glanced skyward at the gathering clouds. He knew that he really needed to talk to Jim, but the fates weren't with him.

Woods appeared behind him. "Hey Pete, your parents coming tomorrow?"

"Yeah." Pete was still watching the clouds above.

"Are you going to bring them to the party at the Reeds?" Woods asked.

Pete shook his head no. "They're coming in later in the afternoon. I'll just leave the party early."

"Okay, I'll see you at the Reeds tomorrow then." Woods waved goodbye and got in his car.

Pete absentmindedly waved back. My parents! Oh no, my apartment's a disaster! That thought lit a fire under him. Pete jumped in his car and drove to the supermarket for cleaning supplies.


Decked out in an apron and yellow rubber gloves, Pete was kneeling on his kitchen floor, cleaning his fridge, when the doorbell rang. He dropped the sponge in a bucket of water and went to answer it. To his surprise, the person standing outside his door was Stephen Garrett.

"Uhh, hi." Stephen didn't look comfortable. "Is Jim here?"

"No," Pete stared at the man. "I haven't seen him since work. He mentioned going over to the hospital."

"I just came from there; he's not there." Stephen cleared his throat. "May I come in?"

"Sure." Pete backed away from the door and allowed him in. He noticed Stephen's curious gaze at his attire and the assortment of cleaning materials strewn about the apartment. "Sorry, my parents are coming tomorrow. I'm just doing a little house cleaning."

Stephen gave a weak smile. "Yeah, I think Jim mentioned they were coming at one point. Pete, I don't suppose you have any idea where he might be? I've already checked the hospital, his house, and Jean's parents. No one has seen him."

"Jim's not the kind of guy to do something stupid. I know he hasn't been himself lately, but don't you think you are carrying this too far? He can take care of himself."

With one hand, Stephen pushed his long black bangs back on his forehead. "Pete, Jean told me that you asked about the car accident and his parents the other day, so I know you know. We all know he's been thinking about it lately. He's been acting a lot like he did right after they died, moody, nightmares, not eating, and now disappearing. But there is one thing that Jean didn't tell you, because she and Janet never knew."

Pete could see the serious look on Stephen's face and it was starting to concern him. "Never knew what?"

Stephen's piercing brown eyes looked at Pete. "That he thought about killing himself."

Shocked, Pete stared at Stephen in disbelief.

"After the accident, Janet and I kind of had to step in as parents. He lived with us that summer, since he had no place to live at school, and he and Jean didn't have a place of their own yet. I got suspicious and searched his room one day and found a cheap pistol. He came in, just as I found it, and was mad that I was taking it away from him.

"Jim hates me because I wouldn't let him take the easy way out. I made him face his problems and face his grief. I kind of played the bad cop role, you know. I let him take all of his anger out on me and let Janet and Jean be the loving support. But I'm the one who kept him alive, so they could bring him to his senses. I never told the girls, because I was afraid it would scare them."

Again Stephen played with his hair. "I'm just worried that he might consider it again. I don't know. Pete, I just feel that we really need to find him. Will you help me?"

"You bet." Pete reached for his keys and jacket. As they walked outside, he felt the wind blowing stronger and could smell the rain coming. There was no doubt that a storm was going to hit soon. "Where do you want to start?"

"You know him better now than I do. Where do you think he'd go?" Stephen got in his car as Pete sat in the passenger side.

"Okay, I've got a few ideas." Two hours later, they sat frustrated in the parking lot of a bar that was frequented by police officers. "I'm sorry, Stephen, but I just can't think of any place else to try."

For a moment, silence filled the car. "I could call the station and put a search out for him?" Pete suggested.

Stephen shook his head. He knew how embarrassed Jim would be at having half of the Los Angeles police department out looking for him. A light rain was falling from the darkening night. "Wait, I think I have an idea." He started the car and head for north Los Angeles.

Thirty minutes later, with the rain growing heavier, Stephen pulled into a cemetery. "It's been a while since I've been here. Wait, there's his car."

Sure enough, the small red sports car was parked in a circle drive by some tombstones. Stephen and Pete stepped out into the rain and looked down the rows of stone markers. They could see the back of someone sitting on a bench. Stephen looked at Pete. "I'll wait here. Why don't you go talk to him."

"Okay." Pete pulled his jacket closer and slowly walked towards Jim. He paused when he reached his friend and looked at the names on the marker right in front of the bench: In memory of loving parents - Richard and Helen Reed. Taking a deep breath, he sat down next to his partner on the bench.

Surprised, Jim looked up at him, but recovered quickly. "Hey, Pete."

"Hey, Jim." Pete could see the water, from the rain, rolling down Jim's face. "Do you want to talk?"

Jim buried his head in his hands. "I thought that the pain would go away. I hadn't thought about them in so long, but after the accident it was all I could think of."

"That's when the nightmares started?"

"Yeah," Jim's shoulder's seemed to sag even further. "I'm sorry, Pete. I really thought I could handle it. I didn't want to admit it was bothering me." A moment of silence hung in the air, where all they could hear was the pelting of the rain around them.

Suddenly the flood burst, as Jim finally began to cry. "God, I miss them so much, Pete."

A little uncertain, Pete gently reached out and placed his arm around Jim's shoulder, and let his partner release his emotions.

"They shouldn't be here!" Jim pointed dejectedly at the tombstone. "They should have seen me graduate from college! They were at Janet's wedding, but not mine! My father was so excited about me becoming a police officer, but he never got to see me graduate from the academy and put on the uniform. Jean's parents were there when Jimmy was born, but not mine."

Jim bolted to his feet and paced in front of the bench. "The happiest moments of my life and the people who meant the most to me weren't there to experience any of it. I had the best parents in the world; but the two people who gave me life are missing it all because of a drunk driver. An accident that should have killed me too."

Pete could see Jim's emotions overwhelming him. He stood in front of Jim and placed his hands on his shoulders. "Jim, you survived that accident because of a seat belt and fate. You can't blame yourself for that."

"I know!" Jim sat down on the bench as the rain continued to fall. He fell silent, struggling to gain control of himself.

Taking a deep breath, Pete returned to his side. "Did you really contemplate suicide?"

Staring straight head, Jim didn't answer for a moment. "You've been talking to Stephen."


"You don't need to worry, Pete." Jim looked at his partner. "I'm not thinking anything of the sort. I've got too much to live for now to think about killing myself. I really wasn't even serious about it then. Sure Stephen found a gun, but I didn't have any bullets for it yet. I doubt I ever would have done it."

Pete let loose a huge sigh of relief.

"Thanks for your concern though, partner." Jim faced the cold granite tombstone. "They always said that the pain never really goes away, it just becomes easier to bear. I guess they're right. I didn't realize how much it was bothering me. It took Mac putting me back on the desk again to admit that it still hurts. I have a beautiful wife, a healthy son, a job I enjoy, and good friends. My parents are the only thing missing out of my life."

Pete felt the rain subsiding around them and finally it settled into a drizzle. The look on Jim's face was now one of acceptance, instead of anger. "I just wanted to make sure, partner. You know if you ever need someone to talk to, my door is always open. I won't always understand, but I'll still listen. Now, don't you think we'd better get out of these wet clothes? Jean will kill me if I let you catch a cold the day before she gets back from the hospital."

A small smile came to Jim's lips as he looked at his condition. "You've got a point." Then the smile disappeared. "Could you give me one moment alone to say goodbye again?"

"Sure." Pete stood up and gave his friend a reassuring pat on his shoulder, before retreating a few paces to give Jim some privacy.

Slowly, Jim stood up and walked over to the tombstone. He gently placed his hand on the cold, wet granite. After a long moment, he reached up and wiped the last few tears from his eyes. Then he turned towards Pete and walked away.

Falling in step beside him on the path, Pete walked next to his friend back to where the cars were parked.

"Say," Jim broke the silence. "How did you find me?"

Pete pointed ahead to where Stephen was still standing by the cars.

Jim spotted him. "You know, he is a terrific husband for Janet. He really takes good care of her and is absolutely dedicated to her. I can tell she really loves him."

"He doesn't seem to be too bad of a brother-in-law, either." Commented Pete, with a smirk.

Poking Pete with his finger, Jim pretended to be indignant. "You just wait until you have in-laws and then you'll understand my situation."

"Jim, that's one of the reasons why I am still a happy bachelor." Pete smiled, seeing the old Jim coming back.


The next day, the sun was shining in the sky and you couldn't ask for a better day in Los Angeles. Laugher and smiles filled the Reed residence as the gathered party waited for the guest of honor to arrive. Jean's mother, Evelyn, was busy making sure all of the food and drinks were ready. Jean's father and Stephen were still rearranging furniture, so she could navigate the house in crutches. Pete was proud that he had been selected to hold Jimmy for the momentous occasion. Janet was peering out the front curtains. "They're coming. Everyone take your positions!"

Everyone hid in a corner of the home and waited. They could hear Jim helping Jean up to the front door.

"Honey, I tried to clean the house a little, but your mom promised to come over later." Jim's voice sounded from the other side of the door.

"That's okay, Jim. I'm just glad to be home." Jean replied as Jim swung open the door before her.

The party of people leaped out of their corners. "Welcome home!"

Jean stopped in the doorway, leaning on her crutches, and clutched at her heart. Her bright beaming smiled filled the room as she looked at the friends and family gathered around. "Jim, you devil."

With a huge smile, he followed her in the door, with her suitcase in hand. He leaned over and kissed her. "Welcome home, Jean. This place isn't the same without you."

Janet jumped forward and giggled. "Come, we've got a place of honor for you." With a girl like bounce, she led Jean to Jim's armchair that was decorated in balloons and pink lace. "Jim has reluctantly agreed to give up his chair for you."

With a laugh, Jean maneuvered herself so she could plop in the chair and lay her crutches down. "Oh honey, what a sacrifice."

Jim grinned as he put her suitcase down in the hall. "Anything for you, love."

Finally Pete stepped forward. "And here is your welcome home present." He leaned over and placed an eager baby in its mother's arms.

Tears were forming in her eyes as she held Jimmy to her face. "Oh, I missed you so much, baby. I promise, Mommy won't leave like that again." Then she looked up at the congregation. "You all didn't have to throw a party just for me."

Betty Wells stepped forward with a small gift to hand to Jean. "Dear, any excuse for a party."

Jean laughed. "How's your father-in-law?"

Ed Wells smiled. "He will be the happy new resident of the Peaceful Acres Retirement Home in a few days."

"I thought you said he'd never go for it," Jim commented.

"That was before he realized how many eligible widows live in those homes." Wells replied. "He's a regular Casanova in a wheel chair. We couldn't hardly get him to leave after the first visit."

Laughter echoed through the room and Evelyn began serving the food. Pete mingled with the guests until he realized that it was time to head for the airport. Sighing, he steeled himself for the fateful trip. "Take care, Jean." He leaned down and gave her a hug.

Jean reached out for his hand. "Pete, thank you for everything."

Pete glanced at Jim, who truly looked happy to have his life back to normal. "It was nothing." He turned to leave, when Jean called his name again.

"Pete, don't forget to bring your parents over." Jean winked at him. "We'd still love to meet them."

With a nervous smile, Pete nodded. "Sure, I'll let them know."

Finally, Pete found himself in his car on the drive to the airport. He couldn't help the feeling of dread that rose in the pit of his stomach. He walked to the reception area and nervously kept an eye out for their plane. Pete, you're overreacting. If you've learned anything this past week, it's not to take your family for granted. You still have your parents and you need to make the most of it while you can. But how do I change my relationship with them overnight? What if we argue again?

The thoughts kept playing through Pete's mind as he watched a plane taxi up to the gate. He rubbed his sweaty palms on his pants as the first of the passengers disembarked. His heart pounded when he caught his first glance of them in over a year.

"Peter!" His mother hurried forward and enveloped him in a hug.

Pete had to admit that it felt good to have her arms around him. She finally let go and stood there admiring him, like the proud mother she was. His father stepped forward and held out his hand for a firm handshake. "Peter, you're looking good, son."

Fighting hard to not let his emotion show, Pete reached down to grab his parent's carry on bags. "It's good to see you again. Shall we go get your other luggage?" As he walked down the hallway, he admitted to himself he was glad to have them here. Good or bad, I'm going to make the most of this visit, Pete vowed to himself.

"So how's your partner and his wife?" Pete's father asked.

"They're doing great. She just came home from the hospital today. They want to invite you over for dinner while you're here."

"Oh that's wonderful." Pete's mother reached out and grabbed his arm. After a pause, a huge smile came to her face. "I can't wait. Patrick, why don't you tell him!"

"Tell me what?"

Pete's father stopped and placed his hand on his son's shoulder. "Peter, your mother and I have been thinking. I'm going to be retiring soon and, after your grandmother's death last year, there really is very little to keep us in Detroit after that."

Pete's mother couldn't hold back her excitement. "We're thinking of moving back to Los Angeles after your father retires! What do you think, sweetie?"

Pete could only stand there in shock. Finally, he found his voice. "Uh… well, if that's what will make you happy, I'm all for it."

Dear Lord, give me strength!

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