Part 21

Mar. 22nd, 2006 09:19 pm
[identity profile] posting in [community profile] if_i_trace
Cops, twice in one day? Sheesh.


Jake could count on one hand the number of times there'd been a cop in his garage, even including the one who'd been by earlier today. But the ones he dealt with were local boys, always in uniforms a few years past their prime. Often with coffee cups in hand, too -- though that was as much Sarah's doing as anything.

The badge this Officer Garrett presented looked legit, and his car -- when Jake glanced outside to see it -- had the requisite number of antennas and the usual navy blue colour of an unmarked cop car. Plainclothes cops still made him edgy, especially well-dressed ones who looked like they belonged behind a desk, like this guy did. There was nothing about his line of questioning to put Jake at ease either.

Why the teenager was tagging along was anyone's guess. Maybe it was "take your kid to work" week. Not that there was any family resemblance, but... who knew?

"You called in a stolen car?" Garrett said.

"Yes, sir," Jake replied, wiping his hands on a rag. The rest of the oil change he'd been doing would have to wait, and as much as getting behind schedule annoyed him, annoying the cop would probably set him back even further.

"The car -- you described it as a silver-white hybrid?"

"Wyvern model." Jake nodded.

The cop frowned. "I assume you contacted the owner."

He'd been expecting that question, and silently cursed Tamsin again. "I tried," Jake said, honestly enough. He just hadn't tried very hard. He had tried to get a hold of Keiran, too, but neither of them had been answering their phones. "Guy only gave me a cell number," Jake added.

"No fixed address?"

Trust a cop to jump to that conclusion in this neighbourhood. "No, sir, he just didn't give me an address," Jake admitted, trying to keep the tired frustration out of his voice. "He paid upfront, in cash. Didn't see any reason to trouble him about it."

Garrett's expression gave away nothing more than a general annoyance that matched Jake's. "Is that how you normally conduct business, Mr. Thompson?"

Jake grimaced slightly. "It's Jake, and no, that's not how I normally conduct business. You can check the books if you want, Officer Garrett. You'll find everything's above board."

"Except this one car."

Jake shrugged. "Sometimes it's easier to make an exception than to argue with a particularly insistent customer, you know?"

He figured the cop didn't know. He looked the type to always play by the books. Well. If you ignored the kid, anyway. And the kid was giving his shop a very thorough inspection without moving from a spot a couple feet behind and to one side of the cop. It was creepy.

Maybe he was a trainee.

"This car, Mr. Thompson. Did it have any signs of having been in an accident?"

That was a new line of questioning. One the other cop -- the one who'd actually checked out the backyard, where the car had been -- hadn't bothered with.

"It had a stick rammed through the rad and into the engine block. Don't know what kind of accident would have caused that. Sir."

The cop gave him a dark look that bordered on a glare. "So you needed parts. Do you normally deal in parts for hybrids?"

He didn't have to add "because this doesn't look like the kind of place that would" for Jake to be able to hear it. Taking a deep breath, Jake kept his expression even.

"No, officer. The owner gave me some numbers, some folks to call -- which I'd be happy to pass on. I ordered a new rad and block, some belts and hoses, and a diagnostics module."

"Did he touch your computer?" the teen asked suddenly, earning himself a glare, but no rebuke, from Garrett.

"Nah," Jake said, "Not that I ever allowed, anyway."

He didn't think it was a slip until the cop pounced.

"Do you have reason to suspect he might have done so without your permission, Mr. Thompson?"

Jake blinked at him, pushed away thoughts of how easily Tamsin had gotten into his apartment (not that he could even remember if he'd locked the door properly), and tried not to sigh. "No, officer. No reason."

Garrett was still studying him a little too intently. "Are you... friends with the owner, Mr. Thompson?"

He couldn't quite contain a bitter laugh at that. "No, sir. Not in the slightest."

"And yet you haven't been particularly forthcoming with his name."

Jake frowned. "Figured you had that already, from the other officer that was here. It's Tamsin McCullach. Sarah can get you his cell number, too."

Not that Tamsin had ever bothered to actually disclose his last name, but Jake assumed it was the same as Keiran's, given that they were twins and all. He wasn't about to mention that minor detail, though. No point in bringing Keiran into the mess Tamsin had made. He did wish he'd been able to get a hold of him and at least tell him what was going on, though.

There was a moment of silence, interrupted by the cop's cell ringing. The ringtone must have told him who was calling, because he muttered, "excuse me" and moved a few steps toward the door to take the call.

Rolling his shoulders in an exaggerated shrug, Jake sighed. He checked his watch, grimaced, and glanced at the cop's back.

"The staff..."

"Hunh?" Turning his attention to the teen, Jake found he'd moved closer. His expression was a little too intent.

"What did you do with the staff?"

"How do you --" Jake began, but something about the kid's eyes stopped him. "Uh... it was over there," he pointed, "with the brooms."

The kid followed his motion and frowned at the collection of brooms and mops racked against the wall. "Was?"

"It... disappeared. When the car did, I guess."


"Was that car driveable?" the cop snapped.

"Wha-- no. Well. Maybe?" Jake hazarded uneasily.

"What do you mean?" Garrett growled.

"I wouldn't have called it driveable when it got here, but he said he drove it. I didn't put any new parts in, and the rad was still out, but...." He shrugged.

"Let's go," Garrett said sharply, and the kid nodded.

They left the garage without another word, while Jake watched, unsure whether to be relieved or more annoyed.

Tamsin was probably in a world of trouble, he realized.

He couldn't say that didn't please him, a little.


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