Rumors

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The following story is a result of my muses getting stuck inside on a cold wintry day with no story going. As I didn't have one going they created one for themselves. As usually the muses took off and wrote the story the way they wanted to and in their own way. I sincerely hope that you enjoy the tale. this story like the other Kung Fu stories, is in TAE's crossover universe in which Control and Paul are brothers, and are the sons of General Frank Savage.

Thanks goes out to TAE for beta reading while in the midst of computer problems, and lots of plotting , and Paige for much encouragement.

The usual disclaimers apply. I don't own the Kung Fu character's. I do however accept all responsibility and blame for those of my own creation. All things Kung Fu are owned by Michael Sloan and suing me would only get you two 12 year old lap cats.

Present

Paul Blaisdell glanced from the reports he was reading to the clock on his desk at home. It was late enough that he was certain James would be home by now if he had decided to step out for the evening. And since he couldn't remember the last time his brother had gone to bed this early (it was only midnight) James would almost certainly be up. And if he did happen to wake his brother up, well, what were little brothers for, if not annoying a person?

A gruff and gravelly voice, not in the least bit tired, answered on the second ring with, "Hey old man, I was wondering when you would call," the man most people simply knew as Control chuckled.

"You've seen a few more birthdays than I have big brother," Paul retorted, chuckling.

"I've only seen 16 birthdays; you, on the other hand, have seen quite a few more," James countered with a rumbling laugh that sounded exactly like his brother`s.

"It's hardly my fault that you didn't have the good sense to be born on a day that could actually be counted every year," Paul groused good-naturedly.

"That was simply a case of good planning, if I didn't see them, then they didn't exist," James explained logically.

"Well, since you are actually having a birthday this year, I hope, it was at least a happy one," Paul said, sincerely wishing his older brother a happy birthday.

"Meetings, meetings, and meetings," the slightly older man responded wearily.

"Sounds like my life, Jimmy, at least things got a little interesting today," Paul grinned, letting the sentence hang, knowing James would not be able to help asking.

"Really? What happened?" The question was finally asked.

"Well, it actually began back in November..." Paul began explaining.


Late November

Paul sighed as the noise from the throng of Christmas shoppers drowned out the Christmas carols being played over the mall sound system. Unlike the crowds, he at least liked the songs, but he had been hearing them non-stop since the day after Halloween. At home, thankfully, Annie didn't start playing them until the first of December, which was usually about the time that he began getting in the mood for the holidays. He would probably be in the mood for them now, if he had not had meetings all day with city politicians. None of them seemed to understand that he needed more than two days to solve a crime, even a high profile one.

Paul looked down at the list of things he was supposed to be picking up. There was the train car for Peter, a new set of sheets for the bed, and Reese needed something picked up from the Gaelic store in the mall. Normally his sister-in-law did her own shopping, but malls during the holidays could be difficult and Paul had volunteered to help her out. He was going in the specialty store anyway, to pick up something Kermit had ordered that was in.

Kermit would have been doing his own shopping, too, but he had only needed the one thing picked up, so Paul had said he would do it while he was out, if he could get through one day without someone calling him about the patrolman`s latest escapade. Kermit had looked chagrined, but Paul had not heard a word about his friend since. Admittedly very few of the things he had been called about were really Kermit's fault. The man simply had a gift for finding trouble. If Kermit Griffin were put down in the garden of Eden and there was only one hornet's nest on the entire planet, that man would find it by putting his foot into it.

The calls about `his recruit' had actually begun when the man joined the academy back in May. The martial arts instructor had evidently decided that Kermit was too old to be a good officer and on seeing him had decided to pick on the shorter and not very muscular man who had refused to remove his shades for the training. Kermit probably would have quietly suffered through the class except that the idiot knocked the shades off intentionally on the first demonstration. Kermit got upset about that, and when the guy tried to use him for a demo the second time, Kermit decided to defend himself rather than get whacked again. The instructor's collarbone had healed in no time, and hopefully he had learned a lesson about judging people by appearances. When the students were taken out for lessons on the firing range, Kermit had once more drawn notice to himself. Again Paul had received a call about his friend, but this time it was that SWAT wanted him. First time out, Kermit had shot a perfect round. Paul and the shooting instructor were the only ones not surprised. The instructor was a war veteran himself, and upon meeting Kermit had evidently recognized a kindred spirit, so was not surprised that Kermit was a natural sharpshooter. The third call had been from the computer instructor. On his second day in that class, Kermit had tweaked his system and it was now three times the speed of the others and had twice the functions. The instructor had promptly asked him to tweak the rest of the computers. The classroom teachers had all thought Kermit was half asleep until one of them called on him. thinking that he would be clueless, only to have Kermit answer fully and correctly. Oh yeah, Kermit had definitely made an impression on the academy. Thankfully, that was now over and Kermit was at the 101st working as a patrolman for his probationary first year. After that he was going to be moved into the bullpen and made a detective.

Shaking his head to clear his mind and get back on track, Paul continued his treasure hunt at the mall. Okay, first stop the Gaelic Store. Odd that Kermit and Reese both had things from this store. On his way to the counter, something caught his eye. It was perfect! Exactly the kind of lap rug that Reese had been wanting for the colder weather. And the Celtic design was perfect for her; it was a part of her heritage she was very interested in. He felt the soft wool, Angora, It would be warm and soft; his sister-in-law would love this! He picked it up and collected the other two packages at the counter as well. Reese had gotten Kermit a statue of a Frog Prince. The ex-mercenary would be in heaven. Kermit had gotten a Joan of Arc pendent for Reese. It was beautiful, he was certain she would be touched. Collecting all of his purchases, Paul left the store. One battle won in the war of Christmas shopping at the mall.

The train was done next, since the hobby store was next to the specialty shop. That only left some things he was picking up for the love of his life. Paul smiled once again, thinking how lucky he was that, after almost twenty years of marriage, he still loved his wife more every day he spent with her. A lifetime with Annie would still leave him wanting more.

Last stop was the lingerie store. Paul had found early in his marriage that Annie didn't like to clothes shop all that much. She particularly didn't like shopping for underthings. She would often wear them until they were dilapidated and then she was forced to go shopping and replace them. At one point when Paul had noticed she needed to replace some things, he had quietly picked them up for her. She had been so appreciative that Paul had been doing it ever since. Annie joked with him that since he began picking them she had much nicer and more decadent unmentionables than she had ever gotten for herself. She had usually gotten plain boring cotton items. He had brought her ones made of satin and lace. She had giggled in delight feeling beautiful and adored, both of which she was.

Paul thought he might go with something different this time. He closed his eyes and felt the different fabrics in his hand. They were certainly nice and soft and he thought, opening his eyes to look at them again, they would definitely look good on Annie. "This is pathetic," he mumbled to himself. He could come up with a plan to take over a small country, set up the demise of an international arms dealer, or tell you exactly how to raid a drug house. He could not, however, make up his mind about whether to get Annie the silk or the satin panties, or maybe the lacy pair he had been looking at. He started going over in his mind once more the pros and cons of each one. Good thing no one was waiting for him back at the precinct, this could take a while at the rate he was going.

"Can I help you, Paul?" A middle-aged clerk asked, smiling. She knew the police captain since he been in here in the past shopping for his wife. Annie, the captain's wife, was blind, and her husband would often make his selection based on if she would like the feel of the item or not. As a result, she usually received either cotton or satin. The silk was something new, and he seemed to be uncertain about it.

"I was trying to decide if Annie might like silk this time. I almost always get her satin, so I though she might like something other than that or cotton," Paul explained.

"Well, silk does tend to be softer than satin. If the satin is not lasting, maybe you should try the silk, they are more durable, and your wife will love how they feel," the sales clerk offered, explaining the differences between the two materials.

Thanking her, Paul picked up the silk ones, and the lace for good measure. Annie had commented that they made her feel pretty and he had not gotten her any for a while. A display caught his eye, he had to pick up a set of sheets anyway, and Annie might like the feel of the satin ones.

"Your lady will love those, Paul," the clerk assured him. Paul found a set that would fit his and Annie's bed and picked them up. Finally getting to the counter, he picked up the nightie that had been what he was after in the first place. The clerk happily helped him get the packages together, and he started heading out.

Paul was carefully balancing his multitude of packages, walking out of the lingerie store, when he felt a whack across one of his arms. Looking over, an elderly, gray haired woman was glaring at him.

"Dirty old man! I saw you in there pawing at the women's panties. You should be ashamed of yourself," the woman harrumphed, whacking him again with her umbrella, and headed for the elevator.

Paul was speechless, he had been called many things over the years, some of them even in languages he understood, but this was a new one. He would freely admit that he had long passed a point at which he might be called young, at this point even middle age was gone, but he was hardly an old man, and he certainly was not a dirty one.

Sighing, he headed for the elevator himself; with both hands full he didn't want to take the escalator. She eyed him haughtily as he got on the crowded machine behind her. Glancing down to check that he still had a hold on all of the boxes, he sighed again. His zipper was down; this was just not his day. Juggling his boxes, he quietly tended to his attire. Paul gathered his packages as the doors opened to allow most of the people off, his was the next stop, but at least the elderly woman was getting off.

He was jerked almost off his feet as the woman took him with her as she headed for the door. With reflexes born of countless missions, Paul dropped the packages and grabbed the spinster pulling her back into the elevator as the doors closed.

"Pervert!" She screeched, whacking him while he struggled to get his zipper down and free the tassels on her scarf, which were caught there. Annie was going to laugh herself sick when she got wind of this, and she heard about everything. Finally, he managed to detach himself from the howling woman.

"I'm sorry, Ma'am, it was entirely unintentional, I assure you," Paul tried his most soothing tone on the irate woman. She was still smacking him, and was now bawling him out so fast that he couldn't understand what she was saying, but it certainly didn't sound like wishes for a long and vigorous life.

"Excuse me, sir, could you come to the office with us?" a young man in a security guard's uniform asked as the elderly woman was led away by a woman in a similar outfit.

"Certainly, I would love to explain the whole episode," Paul groaned, collecting his bags once more and following the man to the security offices.

"I don't believe this, Paul Blaisdell!" A large stocky man stood up as the police captain entered the room.

"Hi, Jonsey," He greeted the older man with a weary smile. At least he would be explaining this whole ridiculous thing to a friend.

Fifteen minutes later, the man had tears streaming down his face from laughing so hard. "Tell you what, Paul, I'll let you off with a warning this time if you promise not to terrorize anymore little old ladies with your uncontrollable passions."

He grumbled his thanks and left, promising to stand the ex-detective a drink the next time they were both in Chandlers.


Present

A laugh rusty from a lack of use came over the line. Paul knew his brother would get a laugh at one of his more embarrassing moments.

"She thought you had a panty fetish?" James contained his hilarity to a mere rumbling chuckle now.

"Yes, she did, and as you well know the only fetish I have is for my wife, and I'm proud of that one," Paul quipped.

"And well you should be, she's a wonderful lady. I would still have liked to have been there to see the whole thing," The slightly older man was once more laughing at the image.

"Poor woman was probably scared half to death, thinking I was a pervert with a thing for ladies undies and then having me yank her back into the elevator like that. And then turning around to see me undoing my zipper, or at least trying to, it's no wonder security came on the run," Paul answered, chuckling himself, over the whole incident.

"This happened right after Thanksgiving and you only now tell me about it?" James asked in mock outrage.

"Would you have said anything if it had been you having your dignity and reputation maligned by the old biddy?" Paul asked, pretending offense.

A low chuckle was all he got in answer.

"Why does something tell me the story doesn't end there?" James asked, recovering himself,

"Oh, it doesn't, that was only the beginning of things," Paul assured him. "Just as I was leaving the mall..."


Late November

"I'm so sorry, sir, are you all right?"

Paul reached down to collect the scattered packages he had been carrying when he had inadvertently bumped into a fellow shopper. As he looked up, he smiled; it was one of the new patrol officers at his precinct. After this trip, he would never be able to show his face here, again.

"I'm fine, Jenkins, and I should be the one apologizing. I was thinking about something else and didn't even see you," Paul apologized as he helped her collect the packages she had dropped. "Here let, me get that for you," Paul offered, juggling his packages so he could get the door for her.

"Thank You, you must have a special lady at home from the looks of those things you've got," She commented as she and Paul headed out to the parking lot.

"Yes she is, a very special lady," Paul agreed. They waved goodbye as she headed past his car to her own.

He swore softly under his breath, of all the days for his car to not start, this was the worst. He had already been completely humiliated once today, now he was going to have to get the car towed and find a way home as well.

"Looks like you're having car trouble sir, can I give you a ride anywhere?" Jenkins asked, pulling up along side her boss.

"Bless you. If it's not a problem, I could use a ride," Paul said, once more collecting the bags and piling them in the back seat of her car, climbing in the front and giving her directions to Reese's office. She would still be there and since she and Kermit were eating with him and Annie tonight anyway, he was certain she could give him a ride home.

They chatted amiably, him asking her about her family and how the job was going, and her telling him about the week, and her impression of some of the characters she was now working with. She pulled up outside of a building, and thanking her, he got out and gathered his boxes and bags. A woman in a wheelchair opened the door for him and after getting a hug, she had taken some of the bags. Obviously they were not strangers. She turned and drove off, having delivered her boss to his waiting wife by all appearances.


Present

"So Officer Jenkins dropped you off at Reese's office and thought she was your wife?" James wasn't laughing but Paul could hear his smile.

"Evidently in this place, it never occurred to anyone to think there might be a reason for Reese and I to know each other. And could they ask either of us about it? No, they had to get the rumor mill going, instead." Paul grumbled.

"Rumor mill going? About you and Reese? I knew there were rumors for a while about her and me here, but they died down rather fast. I hope the two of you aren't going to end up in trouble from the rumors started there?" James asked in concern, he knew what the rumors here could have done to the young woman he had taken a fatherly interest in.

"No, no damage done in the end by the rumors, except to the people who began them," Paul assured his brother.

"And maybe your dignity?" James queried. Paul could almost hear the eyebrow raising.

"The rumors did nothing to my dignity save for maybe insulting it," Paul mock grumbled. "Although there was a household incident that left my dignity in pieces."

Paul smiled thinking back on that incident. There was no way he was ever telling his brother about that.


Night after the day at the mall

Paul smiled as he watched Annie brushing her hair at her vanity. She looked as beautiful as he had thought she would, in her new silk nightie. She had absolutely loved it and had tried it on for him immediately, once they were alone. Watching her reflection in the mirror, he shuddered at the thought of his life without her. It would have been an existence, not living.

"Paul, do you think we could read for bit tonight?" she called out, knowing that he was still in the bathroom behind her.

"Sure, babe, we can do that," Paul called back, knowing how much his blind wife loved being read to. He kept her well supplied with books on tapes of her favorite authors, but what she really loved, was to cuddle up with her husband in bed and have him read to her.

Shortly after they had married, he had gotten into the habit of reading her the leading articles in the daily paper while she made breakfast. Once the chaos of getting her husband and three kids off to work and school had made morning reading impractical, they had changed it to his reading her the paper while she made dinner. This was a time of day when the kids rarely came in unless they needed one of them. They knew that this was quiet time for their parents; while the paper was read, they would catch up on their day and any problems that had arisen. If they were reading in bed, though, it wouldn't be the paper. It might be anything from Shakespeare, to Robert Frost, to Tom Clancy or Robert Ludlum. Whatever the selection, he always enjoyed these evenings.

By the time he was done and out of the bathroom, Annie was just turning down the bed for the night. Hearing his approach, she smiled and crawled into her side of the bed. He joined her after one more check on the security system and locks. His brain was trying to convince him he only thought he had checked it. Satisfied that no one would be entering unannounced in the night; he went and joined his waiting bride.

He got settled in and she curled up next to him, settling herself against his side and tucked under one arm. Maybe not the most comfortable of reading positions for him, but he wouldn't dream of having her anywhere else. Tonight the selection was Scorpio Illusion by Ludlum. They both enjoyed political thrillers, although he did have to suspend his disbelief, having lived in the world of spies, espionage, and treason.

Paul settled back, Annie tucked beside him, the book in his lap, and reached around for his reading glasses. That was when the world spun and gravity went haywire. The bed slid out from under him, he reached out to catch himself and nothing was there to grab.

Annie, bless her, made a grab to try and stop him from hitting the floor, but she was even worse off than he was and instead of saving him, she got pulled along by his greater weight. Paul twisted himself around, so he was under Annie. They both hit the floor with a thud, but at least Annie was on top of him and so had a soft landing, his tailbone, however, was sending out protests to the rest of his body.

"Are you all right, sweetheart?" Annie asked, running a hand over his body to feel it for injuries. With three kids, she had checked for injuries more than once.

"I'm fine, babe, nothing broken except my dignity, and maybe my butt," Paul growled.

The absurdity of the situation that had resulted in them both sitting on the floor of the bedroom dressed for sleep caught up with them. They began laughing uncontrollably. Neither of them had thought about how slippery satin sheets would be.

"My hero!" Annie laughed, putting both arms around her husband's neck. "Or maybe you were just looking to get me in your lap?" she smiled coquettishly.

"Well, I was hoping, but not like this and not on the floor," Paul chuckled, giving his bride a squeeze.

"Oh, come on, where's your sense of adventure?" Annie teased, giggling.

"My sense of adventure is fine, it's my bones and joints that would never forgive me," he groused playfully.

"Well, tell you what, why don't we go back to bed, and I'll give those joints and bones a fully body message to make them feel all better, hummmm?"

"Oh, yeah," his craggy features were softened by his smile of ready agreement.

Annie got to her feet and, bracing herself, helped Paul up. Groaning, he slowly pulled himself up, all of his body parts filing abuse charges with his brain.

"Daddy? Mom? Are you two all right?" Kelly, their college-aged daughter, must have come home from her date just as they hit the floor.

"We're fine, honey, your dad and I were just falling for each other again," Annie laughed.

"Okay, `night Mom, `night Daddy," Kelly called out.

"How did your date go, baby?" Paul asked, checking in with his little girl even if she was almost twenty, now.

"Fine, the movie wasn't great but dinner was good. I'll see you both in the morning," Kelly responded, and, receiving wishes for a good night, headed off to bed in her own room.

"Now that Kelly's settled, why don't you lie down on the bed, and I'll get some oils," Annie offered.

"Thanks babe," Paul kissed her hand as she passed him, and lay out on the bed after getting ready for her to return.

"Let me know when I hit the right spots," Annie whispered in his ear, as he felt her hands on his shoulders. He reached an arm back for his love and smiled as he felt only skin.

"We'll see if the silk lasts longer on me next time." Annie purred, as her husband turned over to face her.


Present

Nope, definitely not something he was sharing with his brother

"Those household incidents can be deadly to one's image," Control chuckled.

"Don't I just know it," Paul agreed heartily.

"So how did this disastrous Christmas expedition to the mall result in something interesting happening today?"

"Well, that's actually kind of a long tale..." Paul began, as the two almost identical men sat back to get comfortable.


Mid December

"Hi Janet, did you get the reports I put on your desk?" Nancy Jenkins, one of the newer patrol officers asked, reaching into her locker to put away her hairbrush.

Detective Janet Morgan looked over at the other woman. "Yes I did, it's a lot clearer now."

"I finally got to see the captain's wife a few weeks back. I knew she was handicapped in some way, but I certainly didn't expect that she was in a wheelchair," Jenkins tried once again to start a conversation with the unfriendly detective.

"Really? Where did you see them?" Morgan turned, giving the other woman her complete and undivided attention. This was interesting, the captain's wife was blind, not paralyzed.

"He was at the mall and his car decided to take the night off, so I gave him a ride to his wife's office. She met him at the door. I hadn't realized she was that much younger than he was," Nancy commented, surprised that the blonde detective from vice was actually talking to her.

"Yes there is quite an age gap there. I never understood it, myself," Morgan snorted.

"I only caught a glimpse of her, but she seemed rather attractive and they seemed honestly fond of one another," Nancy shrugged. If they were in love, what was the big deal about the age difference?

"He's very fond of her," Morgan said, smiling broadly. It would seem Paul was stepping out a bit. Who would have believed it of him, the great man himself was falling from his pedestal. There were some people who would love to hear about this!

"Yes, so it would seem," Nancy mumbled as she headed out. Detective Morgan just didn't strike her as a trustworthy person, maybe she shouldn't have mentioned the meeting. The woman had been entirely too happy to hear about something as trivial as running into her boss and his wife.

"Hey, Kelly, has Peter mentioned anything about Annie having had an accident or anything recently?" Morgan whispered across her desk to her partner, Detective Kelly Blake. Peter Caine was the Blaisdell's foster son and would know if anything was going on, and since he was also Kelly's boyfriend he would have told her everything

"No, If anything had happened to Annie the whole precinct would have heard about it, and I certainly would have, because Peter would be a basket case," Kelly snorted.

"I was talking to someone earlier who said that she had given Paul a lift from the mall and he had her drop him off at an office where he was greeted very intimately by a much younger woman in a wheelchair," Morgan explained.

"You have got to be kidding! Paul Blaisdell, Mr. Moral Absolutes himself, is cheating on his wife?" Kelly whispered in disbelief. She had spent more than one evening in the Blaisdell home as Peter's guest, and knew both Paul and Annie well.

"Evidently Paul has a sweet young thing on the side. I couldn't believe it either, but Annie's not in a wheelchair and doesn't work in an office, so it wasn't her," Morgan confirmed, as the two women returned to their cases.

"Think I should say anything to Peter? He should be told, but he'll be devastated, he thinks the captain walks on water," Kelly inquired as she looked up from her report.

"It wouldn't do any good if you did say something, he would never believe it," Morgan snorted.

"Peter would never believe what?" Chief of Detectives Frank Strenlich asked, looking at the two women.

"We had heard that the captain is cheating on his wife," the blond woman replied.

"Captain Paul Blaisdell would never cheat on his wife and I am not to hear another word of this in this precinct, is that understood?" The huge ex-marine scowled down at the two women.

"Clearly" "Certainly, Chief" both women responded simultaneously.

Strenlich walked away seething in disbelief. Paul was strictly a one-woman man, and that one woman was his wife of almost twenty years, Annie. No matter what anyone heard or saw he was not cheating on her! If the Captain ever got wind of these rumors there would be dead bodies lining the street. If Kermit Griffin or Peter Caine ever got wind of these rumors there wouldn't be enough left of the bodies to bother with burials, much less lining any streets.


Late December

Officer Martin Krumkee couldn't believe his ears. His captain was having an affair. That was rich, particularly since he seemed to have been less than pleased when he had found out last year about Krumkee's lady friend. He never said anything, of course, just gave him one of `those' looks. The same kind his father used to give him whenever he screwed something up. It certainly seemed the mighty had fallen now.

"Hey Sarge, you hear about the old man?" Krumkee asked Sergeant Broderick as the two men were changing at their lockers.

"What about him?"

"Seems he's been stepping out a bit," Krumkee leered.

"Really? That's pretty hard to believe. He's never even looked at another woman as far as I know," the desk sergeant responded skeptically.

"Well, he was seen at the mall with this other woman, and they were being quite friendly," Krumkee smirked.

"I wonder what she's like? She must really be something for him to be cheating on Annie," Broderick sighed.

"I don't know anything more, I've been on stakeout with that nerd, Blake," Krumkee grumbled.

"Paul is not sleeping around!" Peter Caine growled from the door.

"Get real, Caine, like he would tell you if he was getting friendly with another lady," the officer snorted.

"Blaisdell is not cheating on Annie!" a man Martin's own age snarled coming out from behind Peter.

"Come on, Kermit, you know what it's like. She's blind for crying out loud. Makes sense he would want to spend a little time with someone who can really appreciate him, ya know?" Krumkee expounded.

"You, little..." Peter hissed, stalking towards the older patrol officer. Kermit didn't bother with words, he merely lunged.

"Kermit, back off, Peter, leave him alone," a quiet voice halted both men while a tallish, thin, older man in glasses stepped between both seething men and the patrol officer.

Krumkee couldn't believe it. Quiet, nerdy Blake was stopping these two. It was an accepted fact that very few people could stop Detective Peter Caine when he got riled, and word was the captain himself was the only one who had a prayer of handling an enraged Officer Kermit Griffin, and no one doubted it. The very idea that Blake could halt them was unbelievable. The guy was a shaky little mouse who had no nerves, hence his nickname of `Shaky Blake'. There were rumors that he had been something more in the past, but no one really believed those.

"What were you saying, Krumkee?" Blake asked in his quiet non-threatening way.

"Blaisdell has some young honey on the side," he began, but was interrupted from saying anything else.

Blake was laughing so hard he had tears in his eyes. "That is the best joke I've heard all year! The very thought is ridiculous. Come on you two, I'll buy you a round at Chandler`s," the surveillance man offered, leading Kermit and Peter away from the other men.

"Krumkee," an emotionless voice made the officer freeze, "You're right, I do have a honey and she appreciates me just fine, her name is Mrs. Blaisdell. I don't know what all of this is about, but I suggest that in the future, you keep all such observances about my wife to yourself."

"Yes, sir, Captain," he stammered out, and fled as fast as politely possible past the tall man standing in the doorway.

Paul groaned, the rumor mill was flying again. Well, rumors tended to die if left unfed, so unless he heard more about this, he would leave it be for now.


Peter thanked the older man, but opted to head to Kelly's, instead. She had said something about making dinner tonight. Hopefully, tonight wouldn't end in a fight like so many others did. He and Kelly had the original on again off again relationship and while it was currently on it was certainly heading for off, by all appearances.

The scene when he entered her apartment was not reassuring for this evening ending peacefully. His favorite food, a good wine, and her wearing an outfit he had mentioned liking, told him that she either was going to be telling something he wouldn't want to hear, or she was wanting something from him. He really wasn't in the mood for either situation, tonight.

"Hey, Kelly," Peter greeted the vice detective, kissing her.

"I couldn't believe that you almost got into a fight in the locker room," she glared, not bothering with a greeting and barely allowing the kiss.

"The jerk was saying that Paul's been cheating on Annie. Paul would never cheat on her!" Peter asserted.

"Peter, you have no idea what Paul might do if the offer was tempting enough. I know that you think he should be sainted, but the guy is only human," she sighed.

"The man raised me; I know exactly how human he is. He would never even think about another woman, much less get involved with one," the young man countered.

"I agree that it would take a lot for him to have an affair, but it's possible that he would and it would seem that he's found someone else that he loves," Kelly growled, trying not to yell.

"Kelly, the only woman Paul is in love with is Annie! I don't know who this other woman is or why Paul was with her but I'm certain there is a very good explanation," Peter continued trying to stay reasonable with her.

"Peter, people have seen him with her! You won't even hear the facts because you've already decided that Paul's innocent," Kelly screeched.

"And based on factless rumors, you've decided that Paul's guilty!" Peter snapped.

"It's not rumors, he's been seen with this woman! If you're not going to be rational about this, Peter, then just leave now," Kelly huffed.

Silently, Peter turned and left. There was no way Paul had a girlfriend other than his wife, but all the arguing in the world wouldn't get Kelly to admit to that. Paul simply wouldn't do something like that. He and Annie had the best relationship in the world. He could only hope to find someone who would suit him as well, someday.

Roiling from his fight with Kelly, and everyone's willingness to believe the unbelievable, mainly that his foster father was sleeping around, Peter pointed his sleek blue stealth towards Chinatown, and his father's Dojo. Pop would probably make him meditate, but it might help, it sometimes had in the past. At the very least he'd be able to work off some of his anger. Somehow Pop's peace and serenity never seemed to be achievable by him. He tried, but somehow it never seemed to work.

"You are upset, my son," Kwai Chang Caine observed, seeing his son entering the building where he taught Kung Fu. Putting down his flute, he rose and picked up his teapot and held it out in offer to his son.

"Yeah, well, I tend to get upset when people start spreading rumors about someone I care about," Peter answered sharply, waving away his father's offer for one of the foul tasting herb teas he brewed. If he were physically sick he might try some, but no medicine was going to help what he was suffering from.

"Rumors, like poison, infest and destroy," Caine commented without expression.

"Book of Shambala?" the younger man asked pacing around the room restlessly.

"Merely an observation," Caine intoned with a tilt of his head. "Who is it that is being spoken of in these rumors, that they upset you?"

"People think Paul is having an affair," Peter explained, trying to stay calm.

"That is unlikely, he loves Annie very much," Caine responded thoughtfully, pouring and then taking a sip of his tea.

"It's not only unlikely, It's impossible! Paul would never do that," Peter replied sharply.

Caine shrugged. "I agree it is unlikely, it is, however, possible that he has found a ...companion. Come, we will meditate and you can calm yourself as you seek the truth."

"Pop, I don't need to meditate to know my parents and the kind of relationship they have! There is no way my father is cheating on my mom, " Peter answered through gritted teeth, as he stood up from where he had just seated himself on the mat.

Caine's breath caught a moment at Peter's choice of words, then he took a slow, deep breath and let it ease from his lungs. He took another sip of his tea and then shrugged. "You should ask him if what you have heard is true. You cannot be certain unless you do."

"I can't just walk up to the man who took me into his house and made me part of his family and ask him if he's cheating on his wife! I have way too much respect for him to do that," Peter began pacing once more around the room.

"Perhaps, they have seen something that you have not? If you do not ask him, or observe for yourself, you cannot honestly decide," Caine offered, looking thoughtfully at his son who was moving nervously about the room, his pent up energy bursting at the seams.

"All they saw was him at the mall with some woman; there could any one of a hundred reasons for him to have been there with her. She could even have merely been a shopper in need of assistance or something."

Caine shrugged and smiled. "Perhaps these rumors are merely mistaken visions. Still, only Captain Blaisdell can put them to rest. If he does not know of them, he needs to be informed, so that he can correct the misconception. However, if these 'others' are correct, perhaps he needs to be reminded of his promise to his own wife."

"Fine, I'll talk to him, but I know Paul and he wouldn't do that. That's all the truth I need!" Peter shot back. Turning, he left, not for the first time, more agitated than when he had arrived, but a trifle less angry. His father, as usual, had been about as helpful as Microsoft had been when Kermit had helped him set up his home computer.


"Peter? Are you all right, sweetie?" Annie asked as she heard familiar footsteps in the hall. Too heavy to be Kelly and too loud for Paul.

"Hey, Mom, how's it going?" Peter came up behind his blind mother and gave her a hug.

"I'm doing all right, but a little surprised to see you here. Although I did make chocolate chip cookies today and those seem to bring you running whether I tell you I made them or not," Annie grinned as she got out a plate of cookies for her son and put on some water for tea.

"That's a new necklace, isn't it? Peter asked, seeing a diamond heart pendant around his mother's neck.

"Santa came a little early again this year and left this in my stocking," Annie giggled like a schoolgirl.

"Meaning Paul got it for you for Christmas, but just couldn't wait to give it to you," Peter chuckled. Every year Paul got Annie some kind of jewelry and every year she got it early because he simply couldn't wait until Christmas to give it to her.

"It is kind of a tradition by now," Annie laughed outright this time, as she got milk for Peter and a teabag for herself.

"I can't remember the last time I had cookies and milk in the kitchen with you, Mom," Peter smiled, taking her hand.

"Then, it's been too long, and you look as if you could use it tonight," Annie commented, ruffling Peter's hair as she went around behind him to get the water for her tea.

"There, now that we're both settled, why don't you tell me what brings you over at this hour," Annie suggested.

"Wanted to ask Paul about some things, " Peter mumbled, a cookie in his mouth.

"I'm sorry, sweetie, he's working late tonight. He should be at the station, though, if you want to catch him there," Annie answered, wondering why Peter had not simply called Paul's cell phone if he wanted to ask him something.

"It really doesn't bother you does it? The late nights Paul has to work?" Peter asked, suddenly curious that Annie had never, as far as he could remember, given a thought to all of the late nights Paul would work.

"No, not really. I knew Paul was a police officer when I married him, so I expected the long hours. It would have been pretty foolish of me to marry him and then begrudge him that time he spends doing a job he enjoys and that he's good at," Annie explained easily, sipping her tea. Whatever was really on Peter's mind they would get to in good time.

"The hours are bad enough as a detective, I don't know how Paul does it with the hours he works," Peter commented absentmindedly.

"The same way you do, Peter. He has a job and does whatever is needed to get that job done. It helps, I think, that he is often able to bring the extra work home," Annie took Peter's hand again. He was beginning to calm himself down, now.

"You know, Mom, you and Paul really are incredible. Just being in the house together is enough for you two. Almost twenty years together and you're like a pair of honeymooners," Peter uttered in amazement.

"Well I never have understood those people who, after getting married, go away for a week or two and then declare the honeymoon over. As far as I'm concerned, when Paul or I dies, then the honeymoon will be over," Annie chuckled, taking Peter's hand once more.

"I can't even imagine having something like that," Peter sounded wistful as he answered.

"Very few people have what Paul and I have been lucky enough to have. It takes a lot more work and effort than most people seem to want to put into a relationship," Annie replied.

"And more trust than I would believe possible," Peter added.

"It's not really possible, honey, to have a marriage, or any kind of relationship, if you can't trust each other," Annie, gave Peter's hand a squeeze.

"You and Paul would never even think to wonder if you were being lied to," Peter observed, once more in awe.

"No, we wouldn't. Paul and I made a deal when we got married never to lie to one another. No matter how bad the truth is it's always worse if it's lied about. That promise has caused us to get in fights on occasion, but at least we both knew what the fight was about. Neither one of us has ever broken that promise, so we have no reason to not trust one another implicitly," Annie took another sip of her tea, still holding Peter's hand reassuringly.

"Thanks for the cookies, mom," Peter got up and gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

"You're welcome. Paul should be home soon, Peter, if you want to wait," Annie told her son, enjoying his unusually demonstrative mood.

"I got the answers I needed," Peter assured her as he headed out. Obviously Paul and Annie were as good if not better than ever. Whatever they were saying, Peter was reassured that he was right; Paul would never cheat on his wife.


Early January

"Hey, Paul," a voice called from behind. Paul groaned to himself when he saw that it was Tony Murdock, captain of the 86th. The man wasn't bad, per se, he just never remembered to check with his brain before speaking, and tended to believe anything you told him. How he had gotten his own precinct was a mystery Paul would never solve, most likely political connections.

"Hello, Tony," Paul greeted him affably.

"So, when do we get to meet your mystery lady?" Tony smiled.

"The only Lady I have is my wife, and you've met her," Paul answered, confused.

"That's the spirit, deny everything," Tony laughed as he went on to greet other captains, following the monthly meeting of all Precinct Captains. Paul really wished he had a clue what the man was talking about.

"Everything okay, Paul?" Mike Tyler asked, coming up behind him.

"Yeah, just had a very confusing conversation with Tony, though," Paul shook his head to get himself back in focus.

"Any conversation with that guy leaves me confused," Mike chuckled. Paul snorted his agreement.

"How are you and Annie doing?" Mike asked, a hand resting on Paul's shoulder.

"Never better, in fact we're thinking about finally taking that trip to Italy we've been promising ourselves," Paul told the other man. Odd that he was asking about Annie since his wife was one of Annie's friends. One of the few wives that Annie liked, since the woman treated her like a normal person, instead of a blind invalid.

"Just thought I would ask. I know how hard the hours can be on a marriage. Taking that trip sounds like a great idea, you two have been talking about it long enough," Mike smiled.

"As soon as I can get the time off, we are definitely there," Paul smiled.

Both men chuckled, knowing how difficult it was to get away for any length of time. As they were leaving, Paul felt eyes on his back. When he surreptitiously glanced back, Police Commissioner Frank Cooper was glaring at him. He and Cooper had never cared for one another, true, but the man generally pretended to like Paul, since the reasons they had for not liking one another involved things they had done a lifetime ago. Well, whatever was on his mind, Paul would find out soon or later, he always did.

"Blaisdell, wait up," a voice called.

Paul looked over from his car. Wonderful, he was already late leaving this meeting and now Stiles wanted to talk to him. What was it with every single person he knew wanting a moment of his time today? He and Bartlett Stiles couldn't even pretend to like one another.

"What can I do for you, Stiles?" he asked brusquely.

"I just wanted to say how sorry I was to hear about things falling apart between you and Annie," the SWAT team captain responded, trying to at least look like he wasn't gloating.

"Annie and I are doing just fine," Paul growled, not understanding what the other man was getting at, but not liking that he was involving Annie.

"Well, at least you are, from the sounds of things," Stiles chuckled.

"Either say what you have to say or leave," Paul seared the man with his sapphire laser eyes.

Stiles merely smiled enigmatically and went past the other man to his own car.

Paul stared back at him, whatever that was all about, there was one thing he was certain of, it would not be for his betterment. There were very few men Paul would trust behind him, and Stiles was one that Paul wouldn't even trust right in front of him. Bartlett had been trying to one up him for twenty years, now, ever since the CIA had decided that he was the better leader. Paul still wished Kermit had been available for those jobs, but the younger man had not cared to work for the CIA after Vietnam so he had had to use Stiles instead. Well, he would merely have to get his feelers out and find out what knife his fellow captain was going to try and shove in his back now.

Maybe those two conversations had something to do with whatever it was that had brought Peter over to the house recently. Annie had said something about his seeming upset when he came in and reluctant to talk to her about it. Paul had to agree Peter did seem distracted by something, but he hadn't chosen to confide in Paul; and one thing about Peter was that you didn't rush him. When he was ready he would talk to Paul or Annie, or sort it out on his own.

Or perhaps those faint whispers he had been hearing along the rumor chain at the 101st were spreading out to the other precincts? If so, he supposed he should probably do something about them. His own people were quieting down, and he hadn't really thought anything needed to be done.

Well, he would figure it out later when he had more time to spare for thinking about it. Paul got into his car and went on to his next appointment. When was it, he thought as he drove off, that his life had become a series of appointments and meetings? He might not be able to pull off Rome as soon as he would like, but maybe later this month he and Annie could get to the cabin for a long weekend, or better yet one of those bed and breakfasts that she loved so much.


Mid January

"Paul, a moment of your time if I could?" Police Commissioner Cooper looked up as the captain headed out of the meeting.

While the other man didn't answer, he did stop and wait while the others left. Paul was one of the only captains that didn't call him sir, but then he really didn't expect that from him. There was too much history between them for that. Paul Blaisdell was never less than respectful of him in front of others, but in private was another issue, while not disrespectful, nor was he subservient like the others were.

"I don't need to tell you how important it is for a man in your position to have an unimpeachable reputation. The merest hint of inappropriate behavior and the department receives yet another black eye in the minds of the public," he chastised Paul.

"I'm well aware of that and I assure you, I have done nothing to damage my reputation or smear the department in any way," the captain assured his boss, not certain why he was the one being reprimanded here.

"See that you don't, I've been hearing some reports that I don't like about you and some woman in a wheelchair you've evidently been seen with," the man intoned sanctimoniously, as though he were correcting an errant child.

"She's my sister-in-law," Paul explained gritting his teeth to hold his temper in.

"I see, thank you for clarifying that," Cooper responded, his expression telling Paul that he didn't believe a word of it, but was willing to let the story stand.

"Oh, Commissioner, give my regards to Rachel Castilian," Paul smiled as he left.

Cooper went white. How on earth did Blaisdell know about that? He and Rachel had only recently begun seeing one another. Well, if he let Paul off with that excuses about the woman being Annie's sister, then the odds were that Paul wouldn't say anything about him and Rachel. Still, he didn't like it that the other man had found out about his personal life that quickly or that he had something on him.

He briefly thought about evening things up by telling his wife about Paul's lady friend, knowing that it would get to Annie. But Annie, unlike his own wife, would never believe her husband capable of cheating on her. She worshiped the ground Paul walked on, but then the guy gave her everything and anything she could possibly want. No, seeing to it that word got to Annie would only get Paul furious, and that would not be a good thing. The man was dangerous enough on his own, but he had brought in Kermit Griffin, now, and that made him a double threat.

He had kind of hoped Lasher and Griffin would take one another out at the academy. When Stiles had heard Paul had brought his protg in from the cold, he had to bring in his boy as well. Thing was, though, Griffin actually had the makings of a good cop, Paul had chosen well with him. Lasher was going to be a headache; the guy was already creating problems. It seemed that Lasher had been talking up his designated place in SWAT. Until Griffin and he had been out on the shooting range together, and Kermit had skunked him. SWAT tried then to get Kermit but he turned them down for a future placing as detective in Blasdell's precinct. Lasher had not liked Kermit before and now he loathed the man. Well, those two would be Stiles and Blaisdell's problem.


Late January

Sergeant Broderick stared at the retreating back. Who was the woman in the wheelchair visiting with Kermit, and why had she asked if the Captain was in? He could see her from here, sitting beside Kermit, and talking to one of the other officers. Wait a minute, hadn't he heard that the captain's lady friend was in a wheelchair? Was it possible that this Reese Madoc woman was seeing Kermit behind the Captain's back? That would fit with her asking if the captain was in before she went over to see Griffin. If she was two-timing Paul, did Kermit know about that or was she lying to both of them?

"Captain Stiles, I'm sorry, but Captain Blaisdell's out at a crime scene. Is there anything I can do for you?" the desk sergeant held his breath. The captain was due back any moment now, and the SWAT team captain always put him in a foul mood. The two captains had never liked one another, and ever since one memorable day when Peter was trying to save some hostage kids and Stiles had ordered his men to shoot Peter, Paul had really not liked the guy. No one around here much liked him.

"I just had to drop some things off for him. Who's the dark haired woman over there with Griffin?" The older man asked casually.

"Her name's Reese Madoc. I've never seen her before, but I think she may be a friend of the captain's, since she asked if he was here first and then when I told her he wasn't, went to talk to Kermit," the desk sergeant offered what he knew.

"Didn't I hear that Paul had a girlfriend in a wheelchair? Sounds like she might be one and the same," Stiles commented curiously.

"I was just wondering the same thing, sir," Broderick admitted.

"Might be trouble if she's playing both of them. I'll just go and put these on Blaisdell's desk," the visitor smiled, moving past the front desk.

"Well, Griffin, good to see you again, heard you joined our ranks," Stiles greeted the younger man with a forced smile.

"Blaisdell's ranks, not yours," Kermit responded, not even pretending to smile. He had merely dropped by this side of the precinct in order to explain to Paul about a call he was probably going to be getting. Paul always responded better to something if he heard it directly from the person responsible. Getting to visit with Reese while she waited to see Paul was an unexpected treat.

"I'm sorry, I don't believe we had a chance to meet. I'm Bartlett Stiles, the SWAT team captain, and you are...?" the graying man flirted with the woman in the wheelchair next to the desk Kermit was sitting at.

"Dr. Reese Madoc," she answered cautiously.

"Enchanted," he reached to kiss her hand, smirking at the other man's barely controlled fury.

"As you said, we don't know one another, and no one kisses me without my permission," Reese snarled softly, pulling her hand back. Lady looked up from beside her mistress, ears laid back.

Kermit tried, unsuccessfully, to hide his smile.

"My apologies, I didn't mean to offend," the captain smiled at her.

Reese merely raised an eyebrow at him in faultless impersonation of her brother-in-law.

"Well, if you will both excuse me, I'll drop these off and be going. I always knew you and Blaisdell, were close Griffin, but not this close," Stiles retorted, smiling at the innuendo for a flash of a moment, before biting his lip in pain.

"Mister, I used to take the minds of people like you apart for lunch. Don't make me regret that I changed hobbies. Now, I suggest that you apologize to my two friends. Immediately," Reese whispered softly enough so that only the captain whose foot her chair wheel was currently squashing could hear her.

"I apologize, Kermit, Paul. That comment was in very bad taste, as well as not being true," he ground out between gritted teeth, facing the man he had been antagonizing, as well as a man his own age who had entered just in time to hear the comment.

"Apology accepted," Paul replied, trying to hide his smile, he was definitely taking Reese out for a steak lunch or something. This was priceless!

"Oh, yeah." Kermit chuckled.

"Kermit, I already heard about what happened, don't worry about it. We can talk in my office, Stiles," Paul offered, as Reese moved her chair forward enough to release the man's foot. Glaring at the woman, the other captain followed Paul into his office.

"That's a beautiful lap rug," a quiet voice commented, as Reese watched the two captains enter the office and Kermit went to join Peter, who was waving him over for a question.

"Yes it is beautiful. It was a Christmas gift." Reese turned to a face a woman in her mid to late twenties.

The younger woman was certain that was the lap rug the Captain had been carrying. And she had heard the woman referred to as Reese, and the captain's wife was named Annie. So the captain was seeing her on the side. Too bad, he had seemed like such a good and decent man.

Reese looked at the woman. "Jenkins isn't it? I`m Reese Madoc by the way."

"Yes, Nancy Jenkins, she responded, taking Reese's offered hand hesitantly.

"Well, it was nice to meet you," the young police officer smiled as she hurried off to her duties.

Reese watched her leave, well that was odd, the woman had seemed very friendly at first.


Valentine's Day

Paul took his reading glasses off and rubbed his eyes. This was one of those days that history had shown was best spent not bothering to get up in the morning. He had begun the day finding out that the bust planned for the night before had not happened because none of the criminals they were after had shown up like they were supposed to. On top of that, Vice had jumped the gun on the bust planned for later this week and it had gone down last night. One of the officers had gotten shot in the ill-planned move, but luckily would be fine. An officer hurt affected the entire force, though. He was just grateful that it hadn't been one of his people. On top of those, a collar Peter had worked weeks on to make certain that it was airtight was going to be getting off due to a clerical snafu. His foster son was beyond upset about seeing all of his time and effort go to waste due to someone else's bungling. He had also had Sandra Mason wanting to confirm some news items with him. He had not even bothered to find out what juicy locker room tidbits she was blowing out of proportion this time. And just to top off the other challenges, The rumors that had been dying down were starting up again causing his normal close-knit precinct to act like rival factions in a political rally. All in all, a long day.

"Blaisdell," he answered the ringing phone curtly, prepared to hear the next fiasco.

"Hi, sweetheart, with a growl like that I hope you haven't bitten anyone today," his favorite voice came over the line.

"No, I've restrained myself, no one's sporting bite marks from me," Paul chuckled, thinking it was a good thing she hadn't asked him if he had barked at anyone. Knowing Annie though, she guessed the answer to that already.

"Listen, I need you to run a couple of errands for me on the way home," Annie asked.

"You have but to ask," he responded in his most cavalier tone.

"There were some thing's I ordered that are waiting at Victoria's Secret. Could you possibly pick them up for me?"

"Can I peek in the bag, or do I have to wait until I get home?" Paul rumbled, thinking he liked the idea of this errand. Annie always got something special for Valentine's day. It was one of the few times she got her own unmentionables, rather than him getting something for her.

"Oh, I think you can peek," Annie giggled (One of her husband's favorite sounds in the world).

"Anything else you need me to do?" Paul asked, leaning back in his chair, the day was feeling better suddenly, or at least like it had not been such a total loss.

"Can you pick up supplies for two cats, including a bell collar for each of them?" Annie suggested.

"We don't have any cats, Annie. The one the girls had when we got married turned you into a nervous wreck by getting twined up in your legs and finally almost sent you down the stairs backwards by tripping you," the captain reminded his wife, worry in his voice. He still remembered coming home to Annie in bed, massively bruised from falling on the stairs, and the girls in tears about the cat that they knew would not be able to stay. If Annie had not instinctively grabbed where she remembered the railing to be, she would have gone down the stairs and quite possibly been seriously injured, if not killed.

"Well, we have two, now, and the bells on their collars should tell me where they are so I don't trip over them. I found them soaking wet in an alley. One of them has kittens but they're ready to go to homes, so we won't be keeping them," his wife explained further.

"All right, babe, I'll pick up cat supplies. I'll find out if anyone at the station would be interested in a kitten, too," he offered.

"That's a wonderful idea, sweetheart, I'll see you when you get home then,"

"Should I call the vet to see if the cats are healthy?" Paul offered, suddenly thinking that the strays might be sick.

"I was there this afternoon right after I found them. He doesn't think there's anything wrong but won't know for certain until the test results are back. They just need feeding up and love," Annie assured him.

"Well, you're certainly the perfect person to do that, honey. I'll run to the mall and stop off and get the cat stuff on the way home," Paul assured her.

"Thanks, I'll be waiting," she answered in a way that had Paul almost hearing her batting her eyes at him behind her dark glasses.

Hanging up the phone from his conversation with Annie, Paul motioned Peter, who had been standing in the doorway, in.

"What can I do for you, son?" Paul asked; knowing Peter had had a day as frustrating as his own.

"I heard some people talking about you cheating on mom, I guess I just need to know that you aren't," Peter babbled so fast Paul almost didn't catch it.

"Peter, If I ever cheated on your mother, they would find my corpse on the floor with your mother standing it over it holding my gun. And I would have been the one that loaded it for her and got her facing the right direction. I assure you I have not and never would cheat on Annie," Paul avowed. Evidently, as he suspected, the rumors he thought had died down, hadn't. His own people weren't talking but evidently others were.

"Thanks, Paul, I guess I just needed you to tell me what I already knew. Besides, if you ever did cheat on mom, they would never find your body," Peter grinned.

"I know, there are too many people here who would kill me if I hurt her, and the first person in that line Peter, is me. I would never hurt your mother like that," Paul returned the smile as both he and his son returned to their tasks. The rumors would definitely need to be silenced if they were prevalent enough to bring Peter in here for reassurances. _________________________________________________________________________________

Paul stood in the doorway to the den. Annie was curled up on the love seat in her robe, stroking a black cat, which was contentedly purring up a storm. A CD collection of her favorite love songs was on the stereo. The only light was from a soft lamp at her elbow. If he tended to go a little nuts at Christmas spoiling his wife, she reciprocated on Valentine's.

"Are you going to come in, sweetheart, or spend all night in the doorway?" Annie smiled.

"Just admiring the scenery, babe," Paul responded, coming in and setting the bags he was carrying on the table. Coming around the coffee table, he raised an eyebrow at the cat, which was looking up at him imperiously.

"Move it, kitty, she's my valentine," Paul mock growled at the cat. The creature merely flattened its ears.

"Sorry, you've been replaced," Annie giggled to the cat, picking him up and placing him on the floor and moving over for her husband to join her.

"I told you she was mine, Valentine," Paul chuckled as the cat, which was looking at him in disgust, turned and walked off in a huff.

"That's a good name for him. Venus is upstairs in Peter's old room with her kittens," Annie said, getting her customary hug and kiss from her husband.

Paul chuckled, if the cats had names, they were not going to be moving on.

"Sounds like you got all of the cat's requirements," Annie commented, hearing the bags settling on the table.

"I set everything up for them in the laundry room. It seemed to work best when we had Merc here, visiting," Paul answered, pulling her into him for more cuddling.

"Oh, so these packages are for me?" Annie giggled, sitting up so she could reach the table and its treasures.

"No, I thought I would get them for the widow woman next door. Do you think she'll like them?" Paul teased her.

"Oh, these are beautiful!" Annie gushed, smelling the dozen roses. "Oh, Paul, cut crystal. How did you know I needed a new vase?" She exclaimed, pulling the vase out of its box.

"I remembered how many Peter broke accidentally," Paul chuckled, remembering Peter's clumsy stages growing up, when he would find himself breaking things no matter how careful he was. He and Annie had never complained since they knew he was simply going through a gawky phase. But Annie had put away some of her more delicate things.

"Tell, you what, why don't you get these into some water, while I bring this upstairs?" Annie suggested playfully, taking the sack with her negligee.

"That sounds like a wonderful idea," Paul agreed readily.

"Oh, and there's a tray with meat, cheese, and crackers on it, why don't you bring that up with you?" Annie suggested as she sauntered up the stairs.

"I always have liked picnics," Paul rumbled his agreement.

Setting the roses in their vase and collecting the tray that had obviously been made earlier in anticipation of this, he made a quick vegetable platter as well. As eager as he was to join his bride, they would make Annie happy since she loved crunchy vegetables, and making her happy was his goal tonight.

Mounting the stairs, he heard the sounds of water being run. Oh yeah, a romantic picnic while soaking and cuddling in the hot tub. This was going to be good. Following the sounds led him towards the master bedroom. He was thankful once again that he had thought to have the master bathroom equipped with the large roman style tub. From the bedroom he could see into the bathroom, where Annie was wearing the red number she had had him pick up for her tonight, while dangling her legs in the tub full of hot water.

"Uh, babe, where's Kelly, tonight?" he asked, suddenly realizing that his daughter had not been anywhere in evidence.

"She has a date and won't be home until tomorrow," Annie called out, and heard frozen silence. "She's spending the night at Nancy's. Nancy just had the baby and Kelly`s helping her out for a bit."

"Oh, that wasn't what it sounded like what you had said," Paul said, breathing again, hanging up his suit and tie while changing in to a robe.

"Relax, Kelly's still your baby," Annie chuckled. Any man who wanted Kelly just might have a fight on his hands.

"At least for little while longer," Paul sighed, knowing how he tended to be about Kelly. She was his baby girl, and more than her sister tended to be a daddy's girl.

"Maybe longer than you think, prince charming is turning in to a frog at last report," Annie informed him.

"Is she doing all right?" Paul asked, concerned about his little girl nursing a broken heart.

"Paul Blaisdell! Your kids are fine, but your wife is starting to feel neglected here, mister!" Annie snorted in mock outrage.

"Can't have that, babe," Paul hustled over to his wife's side with a rumbling chuckle. If Annie wasn't worried, then Kelly was fine.

"Certainly not," Annie giggled, handing him a glass of Rothschild `28. She had gotten one of the good bottles out for tonight.

Settling the tray on the platform surrounding the hot tub, he and Annie helped one another out of their respective attire and got themselves settled in the deep tub.

"Is everything all right, sweetheart? You're really tense," Annie commented, feeling the knotted muscles in his back.

"Long day at work, nothing that can't be solved by a night spent in your arms," Paul assured her, pulling her back against him and nuzzling behind her ear. She purred contentedly and turned to face him.

Several hours later, Annie was sighing happily, snuggling against him as they basked in their private celebration of love, Paul opened one eye slowly. A smallish white cat was almost nose-to-nose with him. Seeing his eyes open, the small feline dashed off.

"Annie, do we own a white cat?" Paul asked, yawning.

"Um hum, that's Venus," Annie mumbled, half asleep.

"Great, Venus just ate my dinner," Paul muttered. "We'll almost all of it; she did leave us the vegetables."

"Okay, so one of us can head downstairs and make more meat and cheese, or we can turn vegetarian for a night," Annie laughed.

"Hum, staying here with you, or going downstairs for mere food? No contest," Paul mumbled, giving her lips a kiss.

Annie, laughing, pulled her husband farther over her, only to feel him tense up.

"Babe, we're renaming that black one Bacchus," Paul grumbled.

"We are not naming one of our cats after the god of wine!" Annie snorted.

"Considering that he just licked his whiskers clean after polishing off my glass of wine, I think it would fit," he explained.

"Tell you what, let him have the wine, we can occupy ourselves in other ways," she offered, running her hands through his graying hair.

A sudden bellow and flurry of activity just about startled Annie into heart failure. "Honey?" she called out uncertainly.

"Everything's fine babe, the cat just got tipsy from the wine and lost his balance. He fell into the tub on top of me," Paul assured her instantly, hissing as some of the water hit his back.

"Are you all right?" Annie asked, reaching of to feel him for injuries. "Some of these scratches feel kind of deep," the petite blond pondered aloud.

"I'm fine. Why don't we take this to the bedroom, though," he suggested with gritted teeth.

"Yes," Annie agreed, she held her hand out for him to help her out of the tub and headed to the medicine cabinet. Paul was not all right. She had to snicker, hearing him grumbling to the cat about this being what happened to thieving lushes as he toweled the cat dry.

"There, you're dry. Now scoot, you've interrupted enough plans for one night," Paul growled, shutting the animal outside the bedroom door.

"Let me take care of those scratches," Annie called from the bed.

"I feel better already," he smiled looking at his wife, dressed once more in the short, lacy, red negligee and sitting on the bed waiting for him. How he had ended up with this woman was a mystery to him, since he had certainly never done anything good enough to deserve her. He sat patiently while she dabbed some antibiotic stuff on the cuts and cleaned them up. The hands suddenly turned non-medicinal as they snaked around behind him pulling him down on the bed. Oh, Yeah!


The loud and bustling bullpen went silent as Paul walked in. What a lovely beginning to the day. He was hurting from the cat deciding to join him in the hot tub last night, and now there was still trouble with his people, thanks to the rumors. Maybe if he went back home and back to bed this day could get a new start?

"DETECTIVES!" his voice cracked like a whip. Mary Margaret Skalany, her hand still raised and Janet Morgan, a hand print red on her face, both leaped. "In my office right now, detectives!"

Both women sighed and followed him. This was not going to be good.

"Would you ladies care to explain this?" Paul roared, putting his coat and briefcase in their respective places.

Skalany looked at the floor, standing almost at attention in front of his desk as Paul went around and sat down. Morgan huffed, all injured righteous dignity, and threw herself in to the chair opposite her superior. The wooden chair, protesting the abuse of being slammed around, collapsed under her, dumping the woman on the floor. Paul, covering up his smirk with a hand, motioned the other woman to take the remaining chair. Morgan glared, but had no choice but to remain standing, which she did, leaning belligerently against the file cabinet.

"Now," Paul leaned back, "I still have not received an explanation for your behavior out there. This is a police precinct not women's boxing!"

"I'm sorry for my inappropriate behavior, sir. It won't happen again," Skalany responded.

"I want to know why it happened in the first place," Paul continued, pyramiding his arms so that his hands were on his chin.

"I would rather not say, sir," the taller woman once more looked at the floor.

"Detective Morgan, would you care to say anything?" Paul asked, turning to the shorter, blond woman.

"I didn't do anything wrong sir, she was the one assaulting me!" Morgan wailed.

The grizzle haired captain merely raised an eyebrow.

"It was hardly my fault you took up with a slut," Morgan growled under her breath.

"It had better not be my wife you are referring to," Paul hissed in the low voice that had made bloodless mercenaries quake.

Skalany leaped up, took two steps across the room, and punched the smaller detective square in the nose. Blood gushed everywhere. Paul stood wide-eyed in shock at the damage his peace-loving detective had just done. Shaking his head, the captain went to get the medical kit from the break room.

"Look, der's de whore dow," Morgan sneered, a handful of tissues against her nose.

Looking to where Morgan was watching, the man saw Reese and went white with fury. "YOU THINK I WOULD HAVE AN AFFAIR WITH MY SISTER-IN-LAW?"

The bullpen went silent. All sound everywhere had ceased. All eyes were on the captain's office.

"I didn't know you were related to her. I heard you were having the affair from Nancy Jenkins," Morgan tried to sound innocent and aggrieved, even though she still sounded like she had the world's worst head cold.

"Skalany who did you hear this from?" Paul asked, turning to the other woman, who had remained silent.

"Officer Krumkee," she answered quietly. If the captain was taking names, she didn't want to be getting his attention just now.

Nodding, Paul first picked up the phone, dialed a number, and asked Lt. Richards to bring officers Krumkee and Jenkins to his office. That done, he turned to the open door. "Reese, if you would be so kind, there's a patient in here for you with a broken nose. And I'm afraid this involves you,"

Kermit scowled and got up from beside Peter`s chair where they had been talking to the young detective, then pushed his friend's wheelchair into Paul's office. If it involved her then he wanted to know about it. Reese snagged a box of tissues off Morgan's desk, having seen past Paul to the hard looking blond. The Lieutenant entered behind them with the two officers requested in tow.

The small office was not large enough for the eight people inhabiting it. Kermit's hovering like a vulture over Reese wasn't making the place any more comfortable. People were practically standing on top of each other to keep a distance from the pair. Anyone that came to close to her could almost hear the man growl.

"Tay away fum me!" Morgan yelled as Reese went closer to her. Kermit scowled at her and the blond woman quieted down.

"I'm a doctor, now hold still while I pack your nose and tape it. Kermit there's a first aide kit in my bag," Reese informed the glowering man. The kit was in her hand moments later.

Glancing over, Paul saw that Kermit was keeping Morgan in line while Reese tended the broken nose. That took care of one problem, now for the other.

"Officers, I have been informed that you were the ones who began the rumors about my having an affair," Paul snarled.

The younger woman when white. "I'm so sorry. I thought she was your wife. I had heard she was, um, challenged, in some way. Then when you got stuck at the mall, I gave you a ride to her office and you were so friendly in the way you greeted one another."

"This is a picture of my wife, Annie," Paul smiled, showing her one of the photos on his desk. His favorite one of his bride out at their cabin. She had been `seeing' the birds in the area at the time.

"I truly am sorry about all of this, Captain," The woman began apologizing once more.

"Who all did you tell about Paul and me?" Reese asked soothingly as she continued working on the detective's nose. She was not, however, as Kermit and Paul noticed, using her usual caring and supportive bedside manner.

"Only Detective Morgan. I swear I didn't tell anyone else," she was almost in tears.

"You have nothing to apologize for here, your part was an honest mistake and I can see how it happened," Paul assured the woman, while the Lieutenant offered her his handkerchief.

"If there is anything I can do to make up for this, sir, please let me know," she asked, trembling. With a reassuring smile from the captain, she was ushered to the door by Detective Skalany, who had been motioned out by the older man. Jenkins had heard the captain's temper was the stuff of legend, but he certainly had seemed kind and reasonable to her. She had expected an explosion.

Seeing that the two women were out and the door closed, Paul rounded on the other officer and the remaining detective.

"Officer Krumkee, Detective Morgan, this is my sister -in-law, Dr. Reese Madoc. The woman you two thought I was having an affair with!" Paul bellowed.

Kermit scowled at both officers again and growled something under his breath that no one caught and no one wanted to.

"Morgan, you're supposed to be a detective. Krumkee, you are surrounded by detectives. Did either of you bother to check your facts before you started spreading that misinformation around like a farmer fertilizing a field?" Paul continued in a low rumble that was even more menacing than his yelling.

Both people in question wisely stayed quiet. They knew that one false word would be enough to hang them permanently. As it was, the only choice they had now was to accept whatever punishment was given them and hope the captain was feeling merciful. Somehow, though, merciful just didn't seem to describe the glowering man in front of them.

"One question could have cleared the whole misunderstanding up, but instead you had to spread baseless lies and accusations that have spread like a computer virus! In the process, my reputation has been damaged and you've disintegrated the moral and working atmosphere of this precinct. You can both be expecting a formal reprimand," he snarled

"Yes, sir" they responded in one voice.

"Would you mind telling me what the hell you were thinking? And why?" Paul asked in a quiet voice.

"Uh, well, everything seemed to say that you were stepping out. Any man can do that for the right woman," Krumkee drawled.

"It seemed to be the only thing that fit," Morgan said with her head cold voice, yelping at some ungentle act from the woman, literally, in her face.

Paul's glare could have melted the southern ice cap. "You, maybe. Not everyone is a two-timing womanizer." He turned to look at Morgan, "Or a...never mind. I try very hard not to use that word."

Kermit could be heard muttering under his breath, though, "I'm not totally adverse to using that word, it's slut. Puta, whore, prostitute...."

Morgan glared at the man, "I'm not even certain why you're in here,"

Kermit smiled. "I'm Reese's friend."

"Because he's with me and I'm the one you were maligning along with the Captain," Reese hissed from right in front of the detective she was patching up.

"It was a logical assumption, captain, You left the mall to be taken to some woman that isn't your wife, people are gonna talk," the patrolman shrugged.

"Krumkee, take my advice and shut up now!" the Lieutenant hissed.

Krumkee looked at Reese and sneered, "Of course I never would have believed it if I had known you were like that."

Morgan muttered very quietly, "Well she sure can't get much in a chair like that."

Paul and Kermit puffed up like blowfish while the Lieutenant groaned. Krumkee was in a hole and working very hard to turn it into a grave.

The woman in the wheelchair smiled sweetly as she looked the vice detective in her black leathers up and down, "I suspect that you have to get your 'dates' in a nice, dark bar, at, ohhhh, say about 1:30 a.m.?"

Then she turned to Krumkee, "Like what? Intelligent? Independent? You're right he wouldn't have an affair with someone like me, because women like me don't get involved with married men. But then we don't get involved with men like you, either," Reese said, sounding sympathetic, and finishing up on Morgan's nose.

"Okay, Honker, you're ready to head to the hospital now," Reese grinned, backing the chair away from the scowling detective.

"Fine, Kermit if you could chauffeur her to the hospital?" Paul asked, smiling to himself about the poetic justice of that. Kermit would certainly either freeze her with silence or bawl her out the whole way there.

Kermit grumbled, but held the door open for the battle wounded detective. She stormed past him like a thunderstorm waiting to fall. Reese was on their heels.

"Officer Krumkee, return to your duties, but I suggest that you not repeat unfounded rumors in the future," Paul advised the man, who upon release bolted for the door.

"Oh, Matt, I would like a quick word with you about why I was not kept abreast that these rumors were continuing among the patrol people?" Paul smiled like a shark.

Matthew Richards groaned, but took the chair. He might be the one in the hole, now, but he at least had the brains to drop the shovel and quite digging. Unlike his officer, Matt proceeded to take full responsibility for neglecting to inform his captain. Paul chewed him a new orifice, but let him off with that.


Leap year day

Paul walked into his office, greeting a few of his people on the way. The rumors of his affair with Reese were finally dying down and things were retuning to normal again. Morgan and Krumkee both had reprimands on their files and had been suspended without pay for a week. Morgan had asked to be permanently assigned to night shift and the Chief had readily agreed.

Kermit was hating being in uniform, but had proven to have a rare talent for patrolling lovers' lanes and the red light district. The hookers saw him as an angel of mercy and the dealers and pimps were terrified of him. Matt was going to miss him when his probation was over and he was given a detective's badge.

Sitting on his desk was a folder someone had dropped off, but it wasn't labeled. Sighing, he opened it, maybe he could at least figure out who it was from. First class tickets to Fiji, and hotel reservations at the private island he and Annie had honeymooned on. The arrangements were for over their anniversary. The trip, it would seem, had been set up completely. He chuckled reading the last sheet, it claimed the whole thing was arranged by Griffin travel agency.

"Kermit, come here," Paul called out, seeing his protge walking past for coffee. Detectives must have a better batch then the patrol cops this morning.

"Paul?" the younger man stuck his head in.

"Moonlighting as a travel agent?" he rumbled in laughter.

"Well, this uniform is giving me a rash, so I thought I would give it a try," Kermit grinned.

"Annie?" Paul inquired, knowing the ex-mercenary was putty in the hands of his wife.

"She asked me to find out if the place was still available, so I did. Then she asked me about costs and everything else, so I took her hint. Besides, I figured this would merely make it easier for you when you give in," Kermit explained.

"Who says I would have?" Paul asked, pretending to be hurt.

"Whenever Annie starts negotiations like that, you go straight to surrender," the dark haired man laughed.

"Well, she always gives me such good surrender terms that I can't help myself," Paul laughed.

"The only terms my wives ever gave me were for divorce," Kermit retorted, getting up and heading out.

Paul sat back, thinking about the first trip to the island ...


1975

The waves lapped on the shore, as Paul and Annie walked along in the surf. He still couldn't believe he and Annie were married. She was snuggled up against his side as they walked down the beach in their bathing suits, with her big floppy hat bent against his shoulder.

"Do all of the islands have fine sand like this?" Annie asked, reaching down and pouring some of it through her hand, before sitting down to enjoy the sun.

"Not all, but some of them do," Paul answered, sitting beside her. Her arm snaked under the open shirt he was wearing, and pulled him all the way down. She giggled as she poured some of the sand onto him, and he tried to wriggle away from it without letting go of her hand.

"One minute, babe," he said, getting something out of the bag they had carried.

"Okay, come over here," Paul pulled her up gently and led her over a few inches to a blanket.

"What a good idea, no sand in our clothes this way," Annie complimented him as he sat down next to her again.

"Umm, Paul, just how private is this beach?" Annie asked mischievously.

"No one else on the island, " Paul assured her.

"Can anyone see us from the water?"

"No, the reef on this side of the island doesn't allow anyone to get that close," Paul assured her, catching on to where she was going and liking the idea.

She grinned and pulled him down on the blanket, rolling herself on top of him in the process. "There's this thing I always wanted to do on a beach," Annie began, but the rest was smothered in a kiss from her new husband, who was pulling at her suit strings.


Present

"Paul, you really need to see this!" Peter barged in.

Having been reprimanded rather forcefully once for not knocking, at work at least, Peter always knocked before entering Paul's office. For him to have skipped that nicety this time, the captain was needed immediately. Paul sighed, filing his memories for later.

Following his foster son, Paul went into the break room where the TV was on.

"Hello, this is Sandra Mason with channel 3 news. There have been recent reports of marital indiscretions on the part of Police captain Paul Blaisdell. We interviewed Commissioner Cooper earlier to hear his thoughts, on this."

Paul went white as the TV scene changed to show his boss.

"I'm deeply hurt by this breach of trust. And outraged that a man in his position in the community would fail to live up to the standards he has set for so many others. He has failed to uphold the expectations that our police department demands of all of its officers. I assure you, this will be dealt with," Cooper assured the public before entering the building and ending the interview.

Paul took a deep breath. All the man had to do was tell the truth, just like Paul had given to him. Or say no comment. All thoughts of Cooper left his mind as Mason came back on against the backdrop of his house!

"How the hell did she find out where I live?" Paul growled.

Everyone turned to look at Paul for a reaction, but he already had his cell phone out.

"That was Commissioner Cooper, we are now at the home of Captain Blaisdell to find out more about these reports." Sandra Mason was shown knocking on the front door.

"Yes?" Annie answered the door, holding a cordless phone.

"I'm Sandra Mason, Mrs. Blaisdell, I was wondering if you could tell us the inside story of your husband's recent infidelities?" She asked, shoving a microphone in the blind woman's face.

The middle-aged blond, unable to contain herself, began laughing convulsively. "Oh, thank you. I needed that laugh. There is no way on earth my husband would cheat on me. If, however, you would like to confirm that with him, he's on the phone right now, would you like to talk to him? I know he would love to talk to you."

Annie's offer was met with a hiss and silence. "Somehow I didn't think you would want to," she chuckled slamming the door in the reporter's face.

Silence reigned at the police station as they witnessed their least favorite reporter's handling of their captain`s wife. Kermit and Peter were seething, the rest of the gang were holding their breath. Paul was already in his office on the phone. Not only had Annie been put in an embarrassing situation, but Paul's privacy had been invaded, and his family`s safety compromised.. Fur was going to fly over this.

The captain was furious. His privacy had been violated and potentially his wife had been put in danger. There was a very good reason that his address was not known by the general public. He had enemies who might have been watching that broadcast. He had never been as relieved as when she had picked up the phone, telling him she was safe and oblivious to the reporters coming.

"Mr. Larson? Paul Blaisdell. I want to know how Sandra Mason got my address and what the hell you thought you were doing in allowing her to harass my wife like that over unconfirmed and untrue allegations," Paul snarled into the phone. He wasn't yelling, but those who knew him, preferred him yelling to like this. Yelling, he was less formidable.

"I see, you didn't authorize her attempting to interview my wife, or her going out to my home. Were you also aware that she had not confirmed any of the rumors? Yes, I understand, she accepted it as confirmed since she had multiple sources all agreeing with her initial one. Had it never occurred to her that those sources were all biased, and merely repeating rumors they had heard but had no proof of? I could not agree more; this is the height of irresponsible reporting. A full retraction heading the evening news would be perfectly acceptable provided it included an apology from Ms. Mason and the commissioner, since he was well aware of the truth, having talked to me over a month ago! I suggest, however, that you keep her on a short leash in the future, since she evidently doesn't have the intelligence to handle freedom. You're going to be putting her back on human interest stories? That sounds like a very good idea. Thank you for your willingness to correct this. Certainly, I'll wait for a moment while you get her source for my address. Detective Kelly Blake? Thank you again for your cooperation," Paul hung up the phone. His bushy eyebrows furled with an expression that would have had Charles Manson cringing.

"Chief Strenlich, Detective Kelly Blake, could I see you two for a moment? The rest of you, I believe there are still some criminals loose, I want them caught," he called out the door of his office. The two called for came while the others all dove into their appointed tasks with vigor.

"You wanted us?" Frank Strenlich, chief of detectives asked, after he and Kelly had been seated.

"I want to know, Detective, why you gave my address out to Sandra Mason," Paul asked, glaring at the young woman. Like Morgan, she had been a problem child thrust on him as a last resort, but Kelly had seemed to be improving.

"Captain?" Kelly asked look at him in innocence. Strenlich was merely gaping in disbelief.

"You heard me, detective. Sandra Mason named you as her source for my address," Paul snarled.

"Detective Blake?" The Chief hissed at her. "You didn't give the address of your fellow officers out, particularly the captain's, did you?"

"It was months ago," Kelly explained.

"I didn't ask when you did it, I wanted to know why," Paul reminded her softly

Seeing the hopelessness of getting out of this, Kelly sighed, "I was mad at Peter."

"You were mad at Peter, so you put my wife at risk?" Paul roared.

"I didn't know she was going to use it for something like this," Kelly pleaded.

"You're a detective, you should have figured out that she wasn't going to use it to mail me a Christmas card. No matter what you thought she was going to do with it, you had no business giving that address out!" Paul exploded like Mount St. Helens. Even Strenlich stepped back, he had never in all the years they had worked together seen his captain like this. Maybe the tales about his mercenary past weren't as outrageous as he had thought.

"Captain, I suggest a formal reprimand and 2 weeks unpaid suspension might be in order here, as well as Detective Blake being placed on probation," Strenlich suggested behind gritted teeth.

Kelly blanched, a suspension and reprimand she had expected, but not being put on probation.

"I agree, Chief, and Detective Blake, if I ever hear of anything like this again, I will have your badge, is that understood?" Paul turned liquid nitrogen eyes on the young woman who quietly nodded her understanding.


Chandlers, that night

The bar was normally a hangout for the 101st people, but that night everyone came. Word had spread about the upcoming apology to Captain Blaisdell even faster than the initial rumors had. No one wanted to miss this. Even Annie, who normally avoided the bar because of the noise and crowd, was there. Paul had picked her up after work and brought her over. They had found a nice, relatively quiet corner to settle in, where everyone had come to pay their respects and laugh with the petite blond over how foolish she had made the reporter look. The only ones not there were the ones who had been dumb enough to actually believe Paul might have been stepping out on his favorite lady. Officer Jenkins, however, was there, having been invited by Reese and Kermit. Word had gotten about what had happened, and no one blamed her in the least for the honest mistake she had made.

There was a hush as Terry, the bartender, turned up the volume as the news came on.

"This is Sandra Mason with channel three news. The first item tonight is a formal apology to Police Captain Paul Blaisdell and his wife Annie Blaisdell. The previously mentioned allegations of misconduct and marital infidelity were proven to be groundless and untrue. He has never cheated on his wife and has always maintained the highest standards of ethics and morality that we have all come to expect from him," the television reporter gave her best camera smile as she was forced to publicly admit to the erroneous story.

The bar rang with the cheers and laughter, since it was obvious to anyone paying attention that the words were sticking in MS. Mason's throat.

Silence was called for once more, as Commissioner Cooper was shown looking like he had swallowed a live poisonous spider.

"I am happy to report that Captain Paul Blaisdell is innocent of the allegations against him. My only regret in this whole affair is that I made my previous statement. I have been informed that the whole thing was a misunderstanding based on his having been seen in public with another woman who is, in fact, his sister-in-law. Paul Blaisdell is a fine, upstanding man and a credit to the force. Thank You."

Another cheer and more laughter came up from the crowd, particularly those who had had to deal with the commissioner.

Paul smiled from his seat. Cooper was, if nothing else, a born politician. He had managed to apologize without revealing that he had known the truth before he had ever made his false statement earlier. Well, they would settle that one between themselves later. Tonight was a night to relax and celebrate.


Later that night

Control was chuckling, having now heard the whole story. "That pompous fool actually had to make a public apology to you?" I would have liked to have seen that, I bet it killed him."

"He did look like his tongue was about to jump up and run out of his mouth," Paul agreed, echoing his brother's laughter.

"So the whole thing is settled now?" James asked in concern.

"Yes, the rumors are dead and buried with no hope of revival," Paul assured the other man.

"And you and Annie?" the older man asked over the line in light tones, fairly certain he knew the answer.

"Leaving for Fiji and our anniversary trip next week," Paul confirmed, looking up to see a vision in white silk float by.

"From the silence over there I'm guessing Annie just told you it was past your bedtime, little brother," Control laughed.

"Oh, sorry about that, " Paul smiled, his brother knew him almost as well as his bride did.

"I'll let you go. Enjoy your trip and give Annie a hug for me," James instructed.

"I will, I hope you had a happy birthday," Paul told the other man before they both disconnected.

Grinning to himself, Paul Blaisdell turned off the light and went to join the wife he had not and never would cheat on, upstairs.

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