The Man Is The Measure

Schanke knocked on the Captain's door and poked his head in. "Cap'n... we're on our way."

She barely glanced up. "Good luck, guys."

"Thanks." He turned and left, with Nick following close behind. They had gotten a translation of the recorded conversation obtained from a legal wiretap (of all things) which had taken place between their best suspect and one of his friends. The transcripts had revealed a knowledge of the most recent two murders, which could only be gained by a witness- or a murderer. Schanke had felt a massive dose of relief when they'd heard the tape. Four murders so far, and only one suspect. Before they'd gotten the tape, they'd had almost nothing but hunches. Hunches don't convict.

"Hey, Nick- you drive." Schanke noticed how his partner just nodded absently, as they headed for the garage. Schanke shook his head. One of these days he was going to walk into a wall- and he probably wouldn't even notice. Schanke figured he'd keep the pool to himself a while longer.

The other cops had started a pool, making dibs on when Knight *would* run into something, during one of his 'out in nowhereland' phases. Schanke wasn't allowed to play, since he was the one most likely to be the witness. But for a 5% cut, he had volunteered to keep an eye out. He just hoped it wouldn't happen while he was in the car, with Nick.

Sometimes he felt like Nick just really didn't have a clue what was going on around him. Which didn't explain how he would come up with the answer to a case, with practically no warning nor explanation. Don sighed. Sometimes he wondered if life was always going to be this weird.

They reached the suspect's apartment, and headed upstairs. Neither said anything, both hoped that this would crack the case. Wrap it up and go home, was forefront in Schanke's mind. Wrap it up, to be sure. He stood back as Nick knocked. So far all they were, was cops looking for witnesses. No, no murder suspects here, only innocent witnesses... Schanke knew the routine, knew the right expression to wear on his face which would lull an unsuspecting murderer into letting them inside. Knew the right things to say, to hide any suspicions, and tricks they might be playing. The man opened the door, and they flashed their badges.

Without a word he shoved the door closed and ran. Schanke pulled his pistol, and saw/felt/knew Nick had done the same. He pushed himself against the door, to let Nick make the entry. Nick took the low road, heading to the right, running in after the vanishing man with too much guilt to face a badge.

Schanke took the high road, going in to the left. He kept his hands loose, knowing that a trapped perp would not hesitate to fire- but a perp with an escape would not stop to turn and fire. He would run just as fast as he could. The question for Schanke and Nick was, which one was he?

Schanke saw Nick enter the hallway, and check the first room. Schanke headed for the other part of the apartment, through the living area into the kitchen. He felt his heart beating, and heard the rush of adrenalin in his ears. He glanced behind him, because once an old friend had died because the perp had hidden behind the door. The room was clear, and he continued on. He listened carefully, for any signs the man was waiting. At the kitchen door he paused, and took a deep breath.

He pushed the door open and dropped to one knee, pistol out and leading the way. Nothing. No movement, no sound. Cautiously Schanke entered the kitchen, checking always checking each step of the path. Any place a man might hide, to let a cop pass by only to raise a weapon... Schanke didn't make any mistakes, didn't leave any spot unchecked. The man might use the precious moments to escape, pulling further away, but it wouldn't leave a dead cop behind to galvanize the police into preparing for another funeral.

The kitchen was clear; Schanke headed for the window. The fire escape. The one most obvious place to run... and one of the worst places to catch someone. No way to gain on a man, no protection against bullets which might fly up. No way to aim, avoiding ricochets which would bounce into nearby apartments and into the beds of sleeping children or rooms with laughing couples or grandmothers waiting to die peacefully in their sleep. Schanke hated fire escapes, but looked out the window anyway. He breathed a sigh when he saw nothing.

A shout pulled him back, turning back towards the other part of the apartment. Nick's voice, raised like a hound who'd caught the scent of a fox. Schanke ran towards his partner, tense and waiting for the unexpected. He found and empty room, and an open window. Schanke gave a silent curse and headed out.

He saw Nick, ascending the stairs. Schanke took a moment to look down, just in case, and then headed after his partner. Why the man would head for the roof, he didn't know. A part of his brain took over that question, as he went to backup Nick. You never knew when a strange question held an answer that let you stop another crime, prevent another tragedy.

Schanke reached the roof in time to see Nick duck behind a wall, ducking out of view. He heard a shot, and he felt his insides freeze. "Nick!" He held his pistol ready, and headed for the same wall.

"It's ok... we've got him." Nick's voice floated up. Schanke whispered a thank you to whomever was listening that night, and walked around the corner. He found Nick standing over their suspect, who was clutching at his knee.

Poor man had managed to bark his shin while trying to shot a cop. Nick handed the commandeered pistol to Schanke, and cuffed him. Schanke tried to summon a bit of sympathy for the pain then man was in... then laughed. Nah. Let him suffer.

As they took him down to the car, he began babbling about his rights, his privacy, about not knowing nothing 'bout killing no five girls. Schanke stared at him, then exchanged a silent look with Nick. Five? Nobody had said anything about a fifth girl...

Schanke had a huge smile on his face, as he and Nick dragged the captured murderer downstairs into the waiting hands of their backup. Schanke relished the words, as he said, "Book'em. Murder one, four definite counts, one more possible." He enjoyed the impressed smile and acknowledging nod of the cop who took the murdering slime off their hands. Schanke turned to his partner. "So... whadda ya wanna do for the rest of the night?"

Nick just glanced at him. "What? Oh... sorry, Schanke, but-"

"There's something I need to do," Schanke finished for him. "Yeah, yeah, I know." He sighed. "Well then go to it, partner. But at least give me a ride back to the precinct?"

"Of course." Nick didn't seem to notice that Schanke had finished his sentence. Schanke stared at him for a moment, then shook his head and let it go. Nick wasn't going to change now, not after three years of inexplicable behaviour.

Schanke glanced at his watch and realised something. "Hey, lemme use your phone." Nick handed it over, and climbed behind the wheel. Schanke had a sudden worry that maybe Nick shouldn't be driving- he didn't know who had tonight in the pool, but he really didn't want them to win. But then he saw Nick give himself a slight shake, and his eyes focused on the world around him. Schanke breathed a sigh of relief and dialed the phone.

Three rings, and it picked up. "Hello?" A sleepy voice answered.

"Hey, hon. Nick and I caught this guy, so it looks like I'll be home on time. Maybe even early." Schanke couldn't keep the happy tone from his words. Myra had spent so much time lately complaining that he was working overtime.

"What time is it?" She didn't sound very awake, yet.

Schanke looked at his watch. "It's about four thirty. I didn't mean to wake you, I just thought... I should be home around five thirty."

"You woke me up to tell me you'll be home early, to wake me up? Thanks a lot, Don."

Don heard the sleep give way to frustration. "Sweetheart, I'm sorry. I just... you've been saying how I haven't been home, so I thought..."

Myra groaned into the phone. ""So you thought you'd call at four thirty. Don... I was up late last night. I didn't get to bed until after midnight. When you get home... don't wake me, all right?"

He just sat silently, for a moment. Then quietly, he said, "Sure, hon. I'm sorry I woke you. I love you." The click of the phone answered him. He touched the 'talk' button of the phone he held, and stared at it. He had been trying to be nice... and apparently failed miserably. He sighed. Things just didn't ever seem to work out, lately. In fact the whole past year had been full of misunderstandings and forgotten promises and fights which seemed to be about nothing, and everything.

Schanke put the phone down, and stared out the window, not hearing whether Nick said anything to him. He thought about Myra, and how the hell he was going to convince her that he had been *trying* to be nice. Why didn't she ever seem to understand that?

He remembered the flowers he'd brought home, which had sparked an argument about the allergies Myra had and how could he have forgotten and was he intentionally being stupid or did he just not care? Schanke rubbed his hand over his eyes. He did care, he did... but he honestly hadn't remembered. He hadn't had the cash for roses, and had let the florist talk him into a cheaper but just as beautiful bunch.

Myra had been mad at him all day, for that one. She'd finally admitted she just felt neglected, and then when he did try to do something for her, it wasn't even something she could accept. Schanke couldn't tell her how much it had hurt, to see her crying because he was either always busy or... or forgetful, or whatever had made him get those stupid flowers. He'd tried to say something, comfort her, offer her something else... And the phone had rung and Nick had told him they had a lead and he'd had to go.

He remembered the look on Myra's face, and had sworn to not let her feel that way again. So he'd made an effort to call her, let her know he'd be home early, that he was thinking of her. And he'd put his foot in it again. He was glad he was so much in love, because sometimes he wondered why he stayed married. It was just so much damn work.


He looked over, startled. Nick was looking at him, expectantly.

"What?" He realised they were at the precinct. "Oh, right... sorry." He got out of the car, to let Nick get on with whatever it was he had to do this time. Whatever it was, that was more important than helping finish up the case, wrap it up in a bow and present it to the Captain. "Thanks for the ride, Nick." He glanced back, as he said the words, and he saw that Nick had already started driving away.

He sighed, and decided to ignore it all. He had great news for Cohen, and he wanted to be ready to enjoy telling her. He went inside, and by the time he'd reached her office, the smile had returned to his face.

She looked up as he came in. "I heard. I need the report as soon as possible, so we can get this guy permanently behind bars. And I want you two to find out who this fifth girl is." Cohen looked behind Schanke. "Where's Knight?" She didn't sound pleased.

"Oh! He's on his way. He... had to pick something up, but he'll be here in a few." Schanke was glad he sounded like he hadn't made it up.

"All right," Cohen nodded. She started to walk past Schanke, who was just standing still wondering what had happened to his delivery of good news. She looked at him. "The report, Detective?"

Schanke nodded. Her voice hadn't had the usual sting to it, that it usually did when she asked for reports. Maybe because this one was barely half an hour closed. Schanke went to his desk, thinking that he was supposed to feel better about this. They'd gotten a murderer off the streets, caught clean and everything, and so far he hadn't even heard a 'good work' from anybody. It wasn't like that was *necessary*, but it did make the job nicer. One of the few perks. One of the only perks. And tonight, it would have been really nice to hear.

He pulled out a blank form and began filling it out.

The report lay on his desk, staring up at him like a blank mirror. Schanke sighed- he felt like he'd done nothing, like in filling out the lines, spaces, and pages he'd essentially done nothing at all. The words that filled the pages seemed to be saying nothing, like the words he'd typed in had always been there... or that in typing them he'd actually removed every word from the page.

He laughed at himself. Was he being deep, or what? A little depression, and he turns into a philosopher, analysing the very reality of which his world was made. He set the report down, and it went back to being a normal police report. Filled out properly and all.

The captain would like it. Hopefully... Schanke stood up, to take her the copy she needed. "Hey, Schank."

Schanke looked over, at his partner. Wonder of wonders, the man had returned to work. He shook his head. "About time you got back. The Captain was wondering where you'd gone to." His voice dropped, like he knew there was no reason to say the next, but he did. "I told her you were on your way back. Another ten minutes, and she'd have known *that* was a lie." He smiled, mostly to himself. It hadn't been his best fabrication to cover for his partner, but he hadn't been feeling his most creative.

Nick smiled. "Thanks, Schanke. Here, I brought you something for your trouble." He held out a small white bag.

Schanke took it, curiously. When he opened it and looked in, he grinned. Donut holes. About twenty, white powder and cinnamon powdered. He looked up at Nick. "Thanks... but why are you bringing me donut holes?" He didn't try to keep the suspicion out of his voice. Was he being bribed for something?

Nick laughed, and shrugged. "Well, the guy I went to talk to, he was having a little... domestic problem. I helped him out, and he gave me a memento of appreciation. He runs a donut shop. I dropped the dozen donuts off at the front desk... But I figured you deserved a whole bag of holes, for yourself."

Schanke stared at his partner for a moment. Was this the same man who was often accused of not noticing when his partner was even in the room, much less thinking ahead about something like bringing him a thanks, for covering for him? Maybe aliens had gotten ahold of him. Maybe he'd hit that tree. Schanke grinned. Maybe he'd just been trying to get rid of a snack he couldn't eat himself. "Well thanks, Nick. Here, sign this."

Nick looked down with some surprise, then recognised the report. He took it and grabbed a pen, and as he began to sign Schanke asked, "Aren't you even going to read it, first? Make sure I spelled your name right?"

"I trust you," He said with a smile, and that typical spark in his eye that said he'd been having a good night. No existential turmoil tonight.

Schanke returned the smile. "Well in that case..."

"But not that much." Nick said hurriedly, noticing Schanke's tone and responding appropriately.

Schanke laughed. It felt nice to tease his partner for a change. For a change his jokes weren't floating right past, unheard. Maybe now would be a good time to tell him the Moose joke.

"Knight, Schanke, do you have the report ready?"

Schanke took it from Nick, and handed it over. "Just finished, Captain. Every I crossed and T dotted."

Cohen took the report, with a frown beginning. Then she smiled and shook her head. Glancing over the report, she fond everything apparently in order. She looked up, and gave them both a firm gaze. "Good work, gentlemen. You've gotten another scumball off the streets. I like that in a homicide detective."

"Thanks, Captain." Nick said for both of them. After she left, holding the report like it was made of silver lace, Nick turned to his partner. "So... what do you want to so, for the rest of the night?"

"I don't know about you... but I'm going home. Nothing like leaving work early, and going straight to bed." He smiled. Maybe Myra had told him not to wake her, but that didn't mean he couldn't enjoy snuggling up beside her, holding her while they both slept for the hour or two before she had to get up. He had a sudden thought, and looked at his partner- he was in a good mood, and he was certainly able to afford it. "Hey, Knight? Could I borrow a little cash?" At Nick's enquiring look, he asked, "Maybe a twenty?"

"Sure... buying a little apology, for Myra?" He took out his wallet, and removed a couple bills.

"Yeah, I thought..." Schanke trailed off. "You heard that? I thought..." Hadn't Knight been in lala land, at the time?

Nick half-smiled. "I didn't mean to eavesdrop, I just couldn't help overhear... I mean, no one likes to be wakened at odd hours."

"Yeah, so I've come to realise." Schanke grimaced, and accepted the money. "Thanks. I'll pay you back next-"

"Don't worry, Schanke. Consider it my contribution to the Happy Family Fund." He grinned.

With a laugh, Schanke said, "You want to make the Family *really* happy, you'd accept Myra's standing invitation for dinner. She's talked with one of her friends, who's also on some sort of macrobiotic diet. She says she can fix anything you can eat. No sugar, no wheat, no rice... you name it." He held up his hand, as Nick began his usual 'wish I could but no'. "I know, you won't. But at least let me tell her you considered it. Heck, we don't have to eat. Come over for next week's game. Myra is one heck of a hockey fan. Beer and popcorn ain't food."

"I'll think about it. Now go home and start apologising to that wife of yours." The sly grin on his face let Schanke know he was thinking along much the same lines. He returned the grin, and left, the borrowed money in his pocket very clearly intended for something he knew wouldn't make Myra sneeze.

Schanke found himself smiling again, by the time he reached his car. They'd done a damn good job. Gotten a murderer off the streets, one who had been nearly guaranteed to kill again, given the chance. Five girls dead, no reason why there couldn't... wouldn't have been a sixth. Except that he and Knight had got the guy, and taken him out of commission. It had been a good week's work.

And now he got to go home. The money in his pocket burned bright in his mind, as he contemplated different ways of spending it. He aimed his car homeward, but ready to veer off down a side street should inspiration suddenly strike. When it did, he turned off and headed for the place he wanted. It might not make things all right, but it sure wouldn't hurt.

The cashier returned his smile, and joked about bringing the wife presents at this hour. If he was just getting home, shouldn't he be bringing her the entire store? Schanke just laughed and headed home, his gift resting carefully in the front seat. Nobody was allergic to roses. At least Myra wasn't.

He drove home, enjoying the five am traffic around him. The night crawlers were starting to slink home, as the sun began it's approach towards the horizon. And the early birds were beginning to peer out, begin their drives to work. A mix of people who normally never mixed, never even saw each other, might not even now existed- for a few minutes each morning, they all came together and milled together, silently. Schanke felt as if there was a truce called, right before dawn, giving each other safe passage when at any other time they might turn on each other, grabbing for throats... He laughed. it was a good time to be awake, moving through the city.

Especially if one was going home. He pulled into his driveway, finally, and shut off the engine. He'd made it home, and left his contract of safe passage behind him. Left his work behind him, sitting out at the curb, waiting until he ventured out again. But he'd reached his haven and he was going to make the most of it. He carried the roses inside.

He made as little noise as possible, finding a vase and filling it, arranging the flowers and setting it carefully on the table. He stepped back, and decided they looked nice. He knew Myra wasn't allergic, he remembered giving her roses before, and she'd always been pleased. He shed his coat in the living room, and headed down the hall.

He stopped at his daughter's room, and peered in. She was sleeping, curled around her stuffed Jack Bear, looking as sweet and innocent as... as a sleeping child. Don stood in the hallway, letting the light from the windows give him enough to see by, and simply stared at her. He felt the fatherly urge to simply Be, whatever she needed, and he decided he's take her up on her request to go to the zoo this weekend. She was always asking, and Schanke usually got bored with going so often. But she loved it... and that was enough.

He stepped back and closed the door gently. He knew that no matter what else he wanted out of his life, he wanted to make his wife and daughter happy. Because that was the most important thing that made *him* happy. Catching bad guys was one thing, but seeing a smile on Jenny's or Myra's face... He went down the hall to his and Myra's bedroom.

Myra was sound asleep, so he left the light off and undressed in the dim light of the dawn. She did look exhausted, he realised, and felt a stab of guilt- if he had been here, would he have been able to do something? Take the pressure off, take care of whatever had kept her up so late? He shook his head. It was a problem they had constantly, and he wasn't going to find a solution this morning. He let it drop, and carefully, without moving the bed too much, lay down beside his wife.

Easily and slowly he scooted over, until he could place his arm over his sleeping wife, and snuggle in beside her. She didn't move, and he let out his breath, and simply enjoyed watching her, holding her. The way her hair fell over her face, the way her body curved against the blankets, everything that made his home feel like home, was lying there beside him. With a sigh, he closed his eyes and fell asleep.

He woke when Myra crawled into bed and cuddled with him. he opened his eyes, somewhat surprised. She smiled. "They're lovely, sweetie. You didn't have to."

Don smiled. "Yeah, I did. I don't like you being mad at me... especially when it's for something stupid, that I did."

She laughed. "Well, now we're even. You woke me, I woke you. Ok?" From her tone he knew she wasn't mad. Far from it.

He pulled her close, and she lay against him. ""What happened last night?"

"Oh, you know. Jenny suddenly remembered the something she needed for school. We were out late trying to shop, and then I had things I needed to get ready for today, at work. The usual."

It sounded like a night's sleep had done her some good. Don smiled, craftily. She couldn't see his face, though she recognised the tone of his voice. "So... you think maybe a backrub would help?"

"Oh..." She sighed, and wriggled against him. As if the very idea of a backrub was making her melt. She rolled over, onto her stomach, and Don sat up. He began rubbing her shoulders, and figured he didn't really mind that she'd woken him.

He could always sleep later.

Don rubbed his wife's shoulders, gently at first, then as she murmured at him he began to rub harder, kneading her muscles with his fingers. She moaned, and wriggled delightedly. As Don was about to start moving down her back, she sat up and removed her shirt. She lay back down, an expression of pure enjoyment on her face.

Don smiled. That was so wonderful to see, it took away the sharp edge her voice had had last night, when he'd called and woken her up. Inspired to totally remove any black marks he'd earned with that call, he began massaging her entire back.

Glancing at the clock, he figured it in his head- not quite 45 minutes before Jenny would wake, and want her breakfast. And if they offered her something quick and easy like cereal- give them another five minutes. And if he yelled through the door for her to fix it herself... He traced his fingers along Myra's spine. She shivered, and he did it again, pressing down along the edge of the vertebrae. He suddenly realised, as he worked her back, how tense she had been. But how quickly she relaxed under his hands.

He began working his way down her legs. First rubbing the large muscles of her buttocks, thinking sweet thoughts of more delicate pleasures as his hands pressed and kneaded. Thinking of the soft feathery touches which would make her moan, thinking of the hot wet touches that would make them both moan. He managed to move his hands down to her legs before spending the entire fifty minutes on just one area.

He rubbed her legs, feeling the strong muscles become loose and limp. Raising each leg to rest on his chest, to relax the muscle, he was in a good position. He turned his head and kissed the bottom of her foot. He heard her sighing giggle in response. Smiling, he finished with her legs and set them down. He placed his hands at the base of her neck, and then brought them down her body, pushing all the remaining stress down away and out of her feet. He watched her for a moment, laying on the bed, totally and utterly content. Gently he lay down on top of her, to keep her body warm after the massage.

She wriggled a bit, and he saw her smile half buried in the pillow. He knew she could feel his own reaction to the massage, to placing his hands all over her body, touching and rubbing. But for now he was content to lie still, on top of her, where he could smell her hair and see her cheek and feel her breathing beneath him.

He closed his eyes. He had a feeling he'd been forgiven for one little inconsiderate phone call. Of course, the roses had done that. This, this was just extra. This, was inspired. This... was wonderful. He sighed.

"I love you."

He felt her moving, and lifted himself up. She rolled over, and he looked into her beautiful eyes and felt himself beginning to drown. Why didn't they spend more time like this, alone, together, simply enjoying their love? She was smiling, almost grinning. She moved up and kissed him, a quick peck on the lips.

"I love you too, hon. Thank you ever so much. That was glorious..." She stretched and sighed again. Don thought he'd be happy to just hang around and watch that for awhile, the stretching, the happy smile, the way her hair spread out on the pillow, the way her nipples stood erect, almost brushing against his skin.

He wanted to lean down and taste one, but first he glanced over at the clock. Jenny would be waking by now, and he didn't want to have to distract himself long enough to tell her the complicated instructions for feeding herself. Bowl, milk, cereal, no TV... sometimes a youngster just didn't understand... especially when her parents were otherwise occupied.

Myra was grinning at him. "What?" He asked, and she reached up to pull him down to her, and kissed him again.

"I sent Jenny next door, already, to go to school with Mark and Andrea."

Don's confusion slowly gave way to a brilliant smile. "And don't you have to grotto work?"

"Oh, sure. At noon." She laughed at his expression. "I took the morning off. Now... I believe you had something in mind?"

Don looked at her for a moment, enjoying how yet again she'd been three steps ahead of him. Then he sat up and removed his pajamas. before he could move forward to taste those still-erect nipples, Myra wrapped her legs around his waist and pulled him close.

"Welcome to Don's massage parlour, where we massage you all over... inside and out."

Myra laughed at him, and suddenly Don realised that life was very, very good.