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Durocha PI

Durocha P.I. 003

North slept surprisingly well given his position. Maybe he felt more relaxed around the agent now. Maybe her couch was just so much more comfortable. Or maybe it was he had slid over in his sleep and was now resting his head on her hips, his arm draped over her legs. Even while asleep, he seemed pleased with his current situation.

The two slept peacefully until the annoying buzz of Diana’s alarm filled the apartment. Out of habit, North swung his arm over the couch in hopes of silencing it. Instead, his hand struck with the wall in a painful meeting. “…Mmm, bloody … where…?” He muttered, still mostly asleep. He squirmed a bit, hoping he could just ignore the sound.

At the sound of the alarm, her first reaction was the typical one. Roll over and sleep for an extra hour. Horever, finding it difficult to move, she sleepily figured she must’ve gotton tangled in the blankets again! She reached down to toss the out of the way so she could turn of the noisy clock, but she didn’t find blankets, just something kind of shaggy… like hair, and she didn’t have any pets! She quickly tried reaching for her gun, but it seemed she wasn’t in bed! Suddenly wide awake but still too confused to register what had happened last night, Diana rolled off the sofa with a loud yelp and hopped to her feet preparing to knock the daylights out of the intruder!

Blinking owlishly at North, who was by now startled awake by her screaming, she quickly hid the handy screwdriver she found behind her back and out of site. As the recollections of the previous night’s event decided to finally come to her, she gave the mussed looking man a sheepish look. She really should have slept in bed.

“Morning, McCoy. I trust you enjoyed my sofa?” She was being snippety again, but more so out of embarassment of having a screaming fit so early in the morning. Diana stalked to the shelf and turned off the alarm, making sure to stash her screwdriver weapon out of sight.

“Wha?! Wh-what?” he said, suddenly waking up to a sharp shriek. At least he thought that’s what it was, or was he dreaming? “Oh, uh … yeah. I must have fallen asleep. Sorry…” He said, rubbing his eyes. He starched and stood up from the sofa, still groggy. “What time is it anyway?” He asked.

For some reason, he remembered his sleep being more enjoyable than normal. Sure, he had company, but she was in her bed – wasn’t she? After all, she’s not the kind of person to just lay next to someone she just met the day before. Regardless of how much she looked up on him. North just figured her couch was really nice.

He fixed his shirt and grabbed his tie from the end table, putting it back on. Brushing off his pants, North followed his normal waking routine – doing as little as possible to look anywhere near acceptable. He ran his hand through his hair, trying to straighten it. Yawning once moor, North took a look outside. The sky was a dark orange now, the sun just ducking under the horizon.

Diana had to admit, he looked rather interesting being all scruffy. She on the other handy probably looked terrible and she was still in last night’s clothes. Glancing at the clock, she frowned. “We’re going to late. We have to get that warrant so I don’t have to climb in through Vlacho’s windows again.” She handed him a pair of coffee mugs she pulled from one of her many boxes.”You make tea. The stuff in the red box, not the green. I’ll be ready in a few minutes.” Of course she didn’t quite explain where the red box was before she disapeared through the bedroom door.

When she said a few minutes, she wasn’t lying! It wasn’t more than ten minutes before she returned, dressed to the nines even. She wore a dressy teal satin shirt and swishy amber skirt that fell to about her knees and those same black boots. The woman certaintly didn’t look like she was about to search mobster’s mansion… more like have dinner there! It could give a person the suspicious that she had another bizzare plan in mind.

“Did you find the tea?”

North took the glasses, one in each hand, and just nodded. Well, the old, demanding Diana was back at least. “O – ok, sure.” He said and entered the kitchen area. When Diana left, he realized he had no idea where anything was, let alone a box of tea. Looks like he was going to have to use his detective skills in a whole different manor.

“Tea … tea … oh, who the hell drinks tea anymore?!” A frustrated huff passed his lips. By now, every cabinet and box within reach was open. But still no red box. Or was it green? This is what happens when he doesn’t get his coffee in the evening. He pulled open another box and found a little something for himself. “Hmmm, candy.” He said, plucking it from the box. It looked like that fancy kind, too.

Then a box inside caught his attention. A box sat across from the rest and the word “tea” was printed on it. Good enough for him. He popped the candy into his mouth and took the box back to the kitchen.

“OK.” He said, getting out a pot. “How do you make this … stuff?” He knew he was suppose to boil water – but that’s about it. Looking on the box, he found some directions at least. He did what was needed and had some tea ready before Diana waltzed out of her bedroom. “There. I think…”

When Diana finally emerged from the back room, North was busy chewing away on that candy. He turned to see her and was surprised at just how – sexy she looked. Sure, he guessed she was cute before, but now she looked great. Of course, he wasn’t about to say anything like that, but the look on his face probably said otherwise.

“Yeah, sure. It’s ready now.” He said, snapping out of it. “By the way, you look – nice. I didn’t know we were going to some fancy restaurant though.”

“We’re not.” she replied, oblivious to her own charms. She blinked at the open box candy that seemed to find it’s way on the counter and quickly rescued it with an accusing frown at it’s previous captor. Picking up one of the mugs she sipped the tea giving another curious blinked. “You got the green… Ah, well if you insist.” Shrugging a shoulder while sipping her tea, she took the box of candy and stashed it in a drawer before setting the mug down again to put on her gun holster.

“Since we are a bit off schedule our warrant will have to wait until after the party.” Diana digged through another box until she found a long suede jacket that matched her skirt, and grinned approvingly! “It’s a nice little charity event, and there’s a few rumors that tie-ins with our Russians will be there. If we can get associated with them we can get some inside information…” She pulled on her jacket as she spoke, then reguarded him with an examining eye.

“You will have to change clothes. Maybe something snazzy in grey. Or we could grab a uniform and else you could moonlight as one of the waiters.”

Grab a uniform? He thought. He was a two-bit detective, not James Bond. And just how many six-foot plus waiters are there? But, he did happen to have something for the occasion. “Well, I do have a nice suit. but it’s back at my place. Hope you don’t mind stopping on the way there.” He said, taking a cup of the tea he made. Not the biggest drinker of tea, North didn’t want to be rude and decided to just take the bullet. Besides, it wasn’t all that bad, he’d have to admit.

Walking over towards the door, North grabbed his coat from the rack, slipping it on. As he did so, he couldn’t help but feel like he had forgotten something. He checked his pockets and noticed something was absent, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. Shrugging, he opened the door for Diana.

“So, what’s wrong with the green box anyway?” He asked the now glamorous Diana.

“Fantastic!” If there were wheels in people’s heads to make them work, the woman’s wheels were turning full force. She had plotting up her sleeve, and if North could dress the part they could meet some very important peoples, and possibly have their first contact by the end of the party.

“Oh, the tea? It’s a special herbal mix. Kind of has the affect of a few shots of expresso. You’ll be fine, I think.” Diana had an awfully brilliant smile for someone who just informed their partner they just drank super-caffeinated hyper tea. As they left the apartment, she made a stopped to lock the door, and gave a slight frown at the mess the locks were in. She shrugged and led the way down the hall again.

“Remind me to get some new locks.”

North shrugged at the description, thinking it didn’t sound so bad. After all, he was pretty used to caffeine by then. He followed Diana down the hall to the stairs and began to descend the building. But he still had the feeling he was missing something. Forgotten something important.

As they exited the building, everything seemed in order. The car where he put it, untouched. He knew no one was going to touch that piece of junk. Getting in, he realized what he had forgotten. His Keys. But they weren’t in the apartment or his pockets either. He looked around a bit before he found them. In the ignition. In the on position.

“Ohhhh … son of a-” He said as he planted his head on the steering wheel. He had left the car running all afternoon and it was long dead by now. Getting back out, North glanced about, slightly embarrassed.

“Say, you wouldn’t happen to have a car, would you?”

Diana wrinkled up her nose, her hands placed firmly on her hips. “You’ve got to be kidding me. Who leaves their keys in the car, in the ignition no less, in the middle of downtown Chicago!” The man was absolutly hopeless! It was going to be a miracle to even get to the charity on time, and she was expecting him to pull off an undercover alias? If his suit was filled with moth holes, she was going to scream.

“No, I don’t have a car.” She sighed. “We’ll walk to your place, and then we can take a cab. It probably wasn’t the best idea to show up there in that death trap, anyway.” Diana cast the car a disapproving glance. “I guess we’ll just be fashionably late.”

“Yeah…” North said awkwardly. He certainly wasn’t helping this case at all. Leaving his car like that was pretty clumsy, even for him. He just sighed and took his keys from the ignition and placed them in his pocket. The walk back to his place was in near silence, North not wanting to say much of anything.

As they arrived his complex, North lead Diana back up to his apartment and unlocked the door, letting her it. “I’ll just be a couple minutes. Have to find the thing first.” He said and opened a closet. Rummaging through several boxes, he finally found what he was looking for and left Diana alone in the office.

After a short while, maybe five minutes tops, North returned from his room. “Now, I know it’s – not the traditional suit, but it’s all I have.” Standing there, North was decked out in an all white suit. White shirt, white pants even a white tie to go along with it.

“It also came with this.” North said, holding up a white fedora. “But this is a bit tacky.” He said and threw it on his desk.

Standing there, North awaited Diana’s endless string of comments. “All right, so let’s hear it.”

Blinking for a moment moments, Diana simply stared, dumbfounded. She suddenly began laughing a soft cheerful sound partially covering her mouth with her hand. “That is the most rediculous thing I have ever seen,” she said between laughs, “and yet somehow you look fantastic.” She really wouldn’t have been surprised if that were his father’s suit. Or his grandfathers! But it did look strikingly good, and he was bond to make a fashion statement if nothing else.

“I like the hat, though.” she commented with amusement. “We’re going to stand out terribly. It’s going to stretch my creativity.” Diana plucked the white fedora from his desk and dropped it on her own head sith a snazzy tilt. If he weren’t going to wear it, she’d enjoy the pleasure! Perhaps she had a small infatuation for classic hats.

North smirked at the fedora on Diana’s head and shook his own. “Now who looks ridiculous?” He said and snatched his hat back. He might as well wear it; after all, it did complete the look – even if it was the 30’s gangster look.

“Anyway.” He said, grabbing his things. “By creativity, you wouldn’t mean find out how to snoop where you don’t belong, would you? As well as that went last time, I hope you have a better plan. I don’t think ticking off the Don twice in two nights is going to put us on his good side.” North took a couple bullets from his desk and replaced the two shots he fired the night before.

“And this time, let me bloody know what you’re going to do before you do it?” He said and slapped his revolver shut with a spin. “I don’t want to have to use this at a charity event.”

Diana was almost disapointed! She figured she looked pretty damn good wearing that hat, and wouldn’t have minded to wear it for the night. Putting on a completly innocent look, she leaned against his desk. “Sometimes being conventional gets you no where. All you got was the run around and a good view of Miz Lisa.”

“Besides,” she lamented, “D’rno shouldn’t be there tonight. At the most one or two of his associates. We wouldn’t be able to play incognito if he were there.” Giving a cheeky grin she push off the desk to head towards the door.

Tapping her chin she glanced at him again. “You can be the fancy lawyer looking for new clients to represent. Mobsters are the perfect cliental for an up and coming lawyer. Hmm, I’ll be your secretary that’s really doing all of the work.”

“It will be a perfectly uneventful evening.”

“At least when I hit a snag in my method, I won’t get shot at.” North mumbled. “Well, I hope you know what you’re doing, Agent. If we screw this one up, we’re in a world of shit – so to speak.” North was a little more than nervous about this sort of thing. It always seemed to be more trouble that it’s worth.

Luckily, he knew enough about the law to pull off the image of a lawyer. At least for a time being. Hopefully no one there would question him about anything too complicated. North decided he was going to have to try to avoid most people as much as possible, long enough to allow Diana to do whatever it was she cooked up.

“Well, we’d better get going then. No sense in letting the night go by peacefully.” North said in his normal, antagonist tone.

The infuriating woman was grinning like a chesire cat. “No need to be nervous. I’ll protect you, McCoy.”

Leaving North’s apartment and catching a cab was simplicity itself. Diana knew exactly where they were going and gave impecable directions for one who had just moved to Chicago. She was apparently well-informed. By the time they reached the private residence where the special charity event was being held the part was well on it’s way, and she somehow had managed to retrieve his hat once again. Though how she did it without being spotted under his watchful eye was a mystery.

At the door, Diana flashed two perfect invitations to the door man. He regurded them both carefully, giving North a second wondering look over. “Julius Connor and Mia Foster?”

Diana simply smiled. “It’s what it says on the card doesn’t it?”

Shrugging the doorman nodded and let them slip by. Diana took North’s hand as a precation incase he decided to get lost in a sea of strange people, and weaved them through the crowed until she found a suitably secluded spot.

“See? Simple. You heard the man. You are Julius, and I am Mia. Ms. Foster, if you please. All we really have to do is mingle and see what interesting conversations we can be privvy to.”

As Diana dragged North through the crowd, he began to wonder about her. She was strangely prepared for this, she knew about the event, she had the fake tickets. She even knew enough to have an Irish name for him. North was beginning to believe she knew more than she was letting on, but now wasn’t the time to press the issue.

“Right, Conner.” North said. “Well, Ms. Foster, we’ll meet back here in…” He glanced at his watch. “In two hours? We can’t stick around too long, someone might recognize us. They probably got enough pictures of us back at the mansion. I’ll see if I can get any info as to who might have put that hit out. Oh, any maybe something about those diamonds, too.” Glancing around, North caught sight of men who looked rather wealthy. “Looks like the place to get info on those, too.”

As they turned to go, a thought came through North’s mind as he watched Diana. Could he trust her? Completely? He didn’t think she was going to stab him in the back or anything, and she didn’t seem to have any agendas. In fact, she was actually kind of nice to be around, but she was so – reclusive. She didn’t like to talk about herself at all. And she seemed to know more than her share. Was the FBI just using him to get close to Vlachka maybe? Or was there more to this than he thought?

North shook his head, clearing those thoughts away. Maybe he was just being paranoid, Diana wasn’t like that. Hell, she let him stay in her apartment over night; no one with big, government secrets would do that. Besides, he had a job to do, conspiracy or not. He grabbed a glass of wine from one of the waiters and took a sip. If he was going to be a pricey lawyer, he might as well complete the look.

“All right.” North said to himself. “Time to find a mob boss with a big mouth.”

Diana scanned the room casually before walking with some purpose to her chosen target, even smiling and nodding at a few people as if familiar with them when she passed them by. Across the room was a tall younger gentlemen short stylish cut blonde hair, sporting rakish looking goatee. On his arm was an elderly woman who seemed to be wearing every piece of sparkling jewelry she own. She looked much like a walking jeweler.

Stepping in to their small circle, Diana gave a pleasant smile and mumbled apologies for interrupting. “So sorry I’m late, Beau.”

“Bonsoir, Mademoiselle Foster! I did not expect to see you here this evening!” The man replied genuinely looking surprised. He had a smooth french accent, but his english was spoken beautifully. “Allow me to offer you some champagne? I have only brought the finest for my guests this evening.” Motioning to a passing waiter he offered her a glass.

She cast an small smile and gratefully accepted the champagne. “Truthfully, I was afraid I would not make it. I have found myself a new employer since the last had such a terrible accident.” Smiling at the older woman, she motioned a hand referring to her jewels. “You look wonderful tonight Madame Lace! Those wouldn’t happen to be new would they?”

The older woman beamed with pride at having her precious jewels complimented. Madame Lace seemed to puff up a few inches larger than her actual size. “Oh, it is so unfortunate about dear Fredricks. I do hope he does not spend too long in the hospital; it is such a dreadful place. But my yes! I had the pleasure of doing business with a most fantastique man! You have heard of Jacques Chappelle?”

Diana opened her eyes wide after taking a few sips of champagne. “You are indeed lucky, Madame Lace!” She leaned closer to the woman and whispered in a conspiratorial tone, though quite deliberately loud enough for the others in their circle to hear. “Would you believe, I have heard that Jacques Chappelle has acquired the Pendragon Diamonds? Purely rumor, I suspect, but wouldn’t be the most grand thing if he sold them?”

“Dearest yes!” Lace exclaimed. “The Pendragon Diamonds are the most beautiful stones! They have been missing for ages, do you really suspects it’s true?” she inquired with a sparkle to her eyes. Obviously jewels were the woman’s most favorite topic.

Nodding seriously, Diana sipped from her glace, curiously watching the older woman’s young counterpart. Beau Arnoux was an avid collector of priceless jewels and yet he didn’t even seem the slight bit interested. “What do you think, Beau? If Jacques Chappelle has the Pendragon Diamonds, surely you would know?”

Beau shook his head, and strange enigmatic smile crossing his face. “Mademoiselle Foster, you gossip far too much and ask too many questions. You’ll create too much drama for my dear mother.” He gestured with his glass behind her shoulder towards North. “Is that not your escort? He does not look pleased.”

Diana glanced towards North. With her luck he probably downed too much wine, and she was going to have to drag him out before there was a brawl. “I must be you farewell, Madame Lace. It was a pleasure to see you again.” Leaning to kiss the older woman’s cheek she gave another low whisper. “Please do tell me if you hear more about Jacques! I would love to see those diamonds!” With that she nodded he goodbyes to seek out North.

While Diana was having her conversation, North was having little luck in the way of hearing anything interesting… at least until a certain rumor started floating about. It seemed everyone suddenly had something to say about priceless jewels, particularly diamonds.

North took another sip and stepped into the crowd. Glancing about, he caught a small group of men standing around smoking cigars. It might have been generalization, but he thought they would be his best start. Taking a deep breath, he stepped over to them.

“Evening gentle – men?” North’s voice trailed off as he spoke. A couple of the men standing there just scoffed at him and returned to their conversation. North decided not to pursue them any further after that. “I hate rich people.” He mumbled and walked away, not feeling any better about the situation.

He bumped into a few other people but still wasn’t getting anywhere. Finally, he decided to take a break for a moment, standing alone next to a small group. He wasn’t paying attention to them until he heard the name Foster. It took a moment for him to realize they were talking about Diana, but once that clicked he made sure to listen.

“Mia Foster is on the prowl again, and I hear she has a new boss too.” A stout man said, with some cheer to his voice.

“More like a new sap to clean up her mess. Did you hear poor Fredricks ended up in the hospital? Shot twice in the back by some sort of ‘accident’. I tell you, lawyers just don’t end up shot in the back by accident. Someone has to be there to pull the trigger.”

The first man simply chuckled. You’ve got a bias against women since your old lady took you for half your company in the divorce! Old Fredricks got himself in that mess, dealing with mobsters and whatnot. I say, never represent men that can toss you in the river with cement shoes if you fail to win a case.”

“Well all I see is Ms. Foster doing all the dirty work. Now she’s got everyone in the place talking about those missing Pendragon diamonds. Who cares about a bunch of missing royal jewels from some obscure country? I say secretaries belong at their desks, not stirring up trouble.”

Blinking the stout man stared. “Got your mistress asking for new gift, eh.”

“Exactly.”

The two men drifted off towards the bar leaving North with more questions than he came there with!

“Fredrick?” North thought to himself. “Who’s this guy?” He listened to the rest of the conversation, almost getting upset with what he learned. This certainly wasn’t the first time Diana had used the name, or the first time she’s met these people. Just what was she up to, and why hadn’t she told him?

Deciding that standing around wasn’t going to answer his question, North took off in search for the agent. Case or not, he wasn’t going to work with her until he got the truth on her little operation here. He set his glass on the bar and stormed through the hall with a look of determination, he was going to give her a piece of his mind. At least, he thought he would.

“North?” Came a voice from behind him. “North McCoy?” He paused. Who did he know had the money and connections to come to a place like this? He slowly spun around to face the person who called him.

“Well, I certainly didn’t expect to see you here.” It was Lisa D’nro, daughter of the Don. She was dressed in a beautiful gown, which looked oriental as far as he could tell. North began to sweat a little, he was hoping he’d get past the night unnoticed. Diana said Vlachka wasn’t going to be there, but they didn’t count on his daughter.

“Lisa?! I … we – I was…” North fumbles with some sort of an excuse.

“I didn’t think you were interested in the fine arts, McCoy. I’m impressed.” She smiled.

“Oh, well, of course! I appreciate all the … fine arts. They’re very – fine!” he said with a feeling of relief. Letting out a deep breath, he made sure no one else was around to hear them. “But what are you doing here?”

“I’m hosting tonight’s auction. Father is selling two of his paintings and he thought it was best I be here.” Lisa said. She rested he hands behind her back and glanced around the room. “Are you here with anyone? Maybe that Dana woman?”

“Who, Diana?” North said and caught her out of the corner of his eye. She was probably keeping low better than he was and decided to keep it that way. “No, that – she was only here that night, I guess.” He said as he rubbed the back of his neck.

“Oh, I see. Well then, the auction begins in ten minutes and I must get ready.” As Lisa turned to go, she stopped after a few steps and glanced back at North. “Maybe you could … come meet me after the auction? Father booked me a room just upstairs and would be nice to have some company.” She smiled, a hint of seductiveness in her eyes.

“Well I-” North was about to refuse her offer when he thought that this might be the best way to get some info on the Don. “Well, actually, that sounds nice.” He said, smiling.

“I’m glad! My room is 319, I’ll leave it unlocked.” She smiled again and disappeared behind a side door. North stood there a moment longer before he returned to the task at hand. He needed to find Diana and get some information out of her. Cutting through the crown, he finally caught sight of her again.

“Ms. Foster!” He said just loud enough for her to hear. “If I may have a word with you.” His voice didn’t sound very happy.

Oh dear. He sounded angry. Perhaps he was a bit miffed that she hadn’t had time to warn him about her operations beforehand? Well damn him anyway, they only met yesterday and one day isn’t near enough time to explain the specific details of investigations that had been going on for months! He should be glad even has a job in the first place!

She growled through gritted teeth when she made her way to him. “Are you trying to draw attention to us. You’re loud enough with that suit, you don’t have to yell too.”

Grabbing his arm, she dragged him back to a quiet area, out of site of the party guests. “I saw Lisa D’rno. You didn’t blow our cover did you? I haven’t finished here yet!”

“First thing’s first.” North said abruptly. “I don’t know what you’re trying to pull here, but I’m tired of being in the dark. Just tell me what you’re doing here. You’re not someone who was just thrown on the case; I’ve put that much together. What’s going on here?”

As they spoke, a waiter strolled up to them. Before he could asked them if they wanted anything, North gave him a glance that would tell anyone he wasn’t happy at the moment. The waiter quickly trotted off before North could get a word off and his attention quickly returned to Diana.

“So?”

Poor waiter. The man was being unreasonable! “I didn’t exactly have time to brief you between getting shot at, talking to Vlachka and having my place broken in two. I mean, damn! Did you think I was just jumped in to this mess without a bloody clue what I was getting at?” She rested her hands on her hips, desperatly wanting to smack him over the head with the nearest bottle of wine.

“I’ve spent months working on this case, only to have some partner I never wanted or even needed thrown at me when I’m this close to finding out what I need. I’ll be damned if I let some half-assed detective that hasn’t even had a real case in months screw it up!” Harsh. Diana regretted saying it the second it came out of her mouth, but she absolutely refused to apologise. She had been working hard on that case. If it weren’t for a creep from the past getting parole, her boss would have never insisted she needed a new partner, and she could have been free of any added hassle. Partners got shot and ended up half-dead in a hospital bed. She didn’t need a partner.

“If you don’t like it, you can quit. I am more than capable of handling this case on my own.”

“Quit?” Something Diana said struck a nerve in North. “Look, I don’t know where you get off telling me how to do my job. This case had a lot more to do with me before you even got started on it. You wanna know why I haven’t had a case in eight months? I have been searching high and low for something – anything that would give me a lead concerning this case and this is as close as I’ve gotten.” While he sounded angry, there was a touch of sadness in his voice. His anger seemed distant, like it wasn’t directed at Diana.

“My brother – he … Th-that’s not important” North said and glanced away. his eyes looked glassy. His voice was calmer now, not sounding as upset. “What’s important is, I’m sticking to the case. With, or without your help.”

North took a deep breath, he didn’t like getting angry, especially with someone who’s just doing their job. Diana hadn’t done anything wrong and he knew it, she was just doing what she thought was right.

“But.” He looked back at her. “I – want your help. You’ve done a lot for the case and it would be – a bad move to separate now. Mainly for me. And I just want to say I’m … sorry. I shouldn’t have said what I did. This is all just as important for you as it is for me.”

Diana blinked, dumbfounded in to silence once again. Why did he always have to do that! He would get her all riled up, and then he’d apologise and flash that sad puppy look. It damn hard to stay mad at a man like North McCoy, and she so desperatly wanted to stay mad. He was supposed to stomp off and let her do her job without… complications.

Letting out an exasperated sigh, she rubbed her temple. “You are so much trouble, North McCoy…” She let it go, but refused to apologise. Even if this time it was just itching to come out.

“Listen, I had a partner before when we first started this case, and he ended up shot down. I was doing fine on my own, then there was that busisess with Burch and all of a sudden the bossman said I had to have a partner.” Biting her bottom lip she crossed her arms. “You’re… you’re too nice of guy, and I’d rather not see you shot full of holes. We’ve already been shot at once and next time it probably won’t be an accident.”

North was surprised by Diana’s sudden change of character. He wasn’t expecting her to be so caring, but rather for her tear him to pieces. Relieved, he fixed his shirt a little and placed his hands in his pocket.

“Well, we’ll just have to make sure there isn’t a next time. And I’m sorry about your partner, uh, Mrs. Foster.” He said, remembering they were still incognito and didn’t feel like alarming anymore people. “But, uh, yeah. Lisa’s here hosting the auction tonight. Apparently her father is selling a couple paintings.”

With Diana’s sudden turn of attitude, North was a little hesitant to tell her the rest of the conversation he had with Lisa. “She’s, uh .. also invited me up to her room tonight. I’m hoping I can get a little information off of her. Alone, at least.”

Just then, the lights in the room dimmed slightly and the stage at one end lit up. The auction was beginning and several people gathered around, pulling little flags from their coats.

Diana wrinkled up her nose with distaste. A woman like that only invited men to their private rooms for two things, none of which involved talking. North was either walking in to getting himself seduced or murdered, and neither sounded very pleasing to her. Not that she would be jealous if he had a romp with the raven-haired beauty. He was after all completly rediculous and that irish lit really wasn’t that attractive. But, he was likely to get stabbed afterward and no man should have to die without his pants.

“I see…” she lamented, keeping her thoughts on that particular idea to herself. “If you’re going to be getting friendly with Ms. D’rno, I can take a look at the auction room before things get shipped off to their new owners. There might be something stashed in the items.”

“Just a few questions, that’s all.” North said, suddenly confused by why he felt the need to say that. “But yeah, you do that. Hopefully one of us will come up with something tonight.”

The auction was underway and a lot of zeros were being thrown around. North watched for a bit, a tad confused as to why people would pay so much for this stuff. “Who the bloody hell would pay for that thing?” He said quietly. A man standing in front of him turned around and gave him a snotty look.

“Uhh.” North tried to cover himself. “Pay so little for that. A beautiful piece if I say so myself.” The man smiled, satisfied with his answer.

The auction continued until every piece was bought and everyone got, or didn’t get what they wanted. With the lights returning to their normal brightness, North and Diana decided to make their moves.

“Well, I’ll go meet Lisa at her room, you go snoop around in the backrooms a little.” North turned to go out the door he saw Lisa leave through earlier. “I won’t take long. In and out.” He shouted to Diana.

She rolled her eyes. In and out her foot! ha woman was going to have him rolling around in teh floor one way or another. When she was finished searching the storage rooms she was going to have to rescue him from Lisa D’rno. Maybe she’d get to shoot the woman.

Diana casually walked down the halls, giving a shy grin to anyone she happened to pass by until she reached the rooms that kept the auctioned items. Giving a wary glance down each end of the hallway, she slipped in the room unoticed. She fummbled for the light switch on the wall and in finding it she had the pleasant surprise if the lights not working.

“That’s just great.” she muttered to herself as she left the room door open just a crack so there could be enough light to see as she rummaged around. Most of the peices in the room were paintings, none looking counterfeit, at least to her reckoning, and none baring any seceret messages. The few boxes in the room contained statues and other such things. She picked a random crate and began her search!

North quickly made his way down the hall towards the elevators. Pressing the button for the third floor, he stood and waited for a moment. I wasn’t until he was standing there for over a minute that he realized something was wrong. He took another look at the button pad and caught the note below it.

“Out of order – great.” he said and backtracked towards the stairs. “You’re terribly observant, North.” He said to himself. As he reached the stairs and opened the door, we almost ran into a trio of men. “Oh, excuse me.” He said and stepped aside. He had a feeling he’d seen one of them before, but couldn’t put his finger on it. He also noticed he was carrying a leaking can of gasoline, but passed him off as a janitor.

As he made his way up the stairs, the smell of gas was almost overwhelming. But he managed to make it to the third floor anyway. Finding room 319 was easy enough; it was just around the corner. North knocked a couple times, but got no answer. He tried the door but it was locked. “Well great.” North said and leaned up against the wall.

As he stood there, he noticed the smell of gasoline hadn’t faded yet. He looked down to find a dotted trail of it down the hallway. “What were they doing up here?” North mumbled. He followed the trail until he reached the room it originated from. Surprisingly, he found the door unlocked and entered.

Inside, the room seemed to be normal, except for the rag on the floor. The smell of gas from it was overpowering and north covered his mouth with his shirt. He poked around; making sure everything was in order, after all, gasoline usually doesn’t find it’s way into hotel rooms.

Unable to find anything wrong, North turned to go, and happily at that. That’s when found a small piece of paper lying just behind the door. Bending over to pick it up, North unfolded it and read what was written. “Burn the art. All of it. P.S. Don’t remove the rag. Leaky can. Sorry.”

“Oh shit, DIANA!” And North darted out the room.

Downstairs, the thugs were already at work. Two of them stood watch while the third slowly crept into the dark room and closed the door behind him. Finding out the lights didn’t work didn’t bother him, after all, it was only going to be a quick job. He began to pour gasoline over several pieces of art, keeping as quiet as he could.

As the door opened, she spotted the shadow in the doorway and quickly darted behind a large oriental style screen. She pulled her gun as the door opened, though alot of good it was going to do her in the dark. Someone was still there, as she could hear them shuffling around, and even grunting as they cracked a shin on one of the open gates. It seemed they couldn’t see either, and apparently didn’t know she was there. Curiously she waited to see what they were up to.

When the smell of gasoline hit her nose she muttered a startled oath and darted out from behind the screen aiming her pistol in the darkness. Hearing her, the man cursed himself, tossing a lighted match down on to some gasoline soaked artwork and running out the door as it errupted in fire. Diana skidded to a stop to avoid the flames and ran around them but was only met with the sound of a lock as she reached the door. She was trapped!

“God damn, son of a..!” Aiming her gun at the lock she fire fired a few rounds, but it was immovable! “What the hell are these things made of?!” Coughing from the smoke, she looked back at the fire… She was going to have a hot date with death!

Down those stairs, North ran faster than he had ever run in his life. He hoped he would get there in time to warn Diana. If she wasn’t ok – He didn’t want to think about that. Hopping the last railing, North swung open the door, only to meet face to face with the gas can-carrying thug from before.

“Hey!” he shouted and pulled out his pistol, aiming it at his face. The man threw his hands up into the air without hesitation. “What are you doing here?!” North demanded. The thug kept quiet, not saying a word. “Damnit, tell me what you-” Just then, the fire alarm went off in the building, and the crowds began to panic as they rushed out the door. North wasn’t letting this guy go, not yet.

“I’m not going to ask again, what were you doing?” North shoved his gun a little closer to the man’s face. Deciding it was better to tell him, the man nudged his head towards a door behind him. When North looked past him, he caught flames licking up from under the door. “Diana…” He said out loud.

He didn’t know if she was in there or not, but he couldn’t risk it. And the goon knew that. He smirked at North as he glanced back at him. Without hesitation, North shoved his way past the man and towards the door. “Diana!” He shouted and went to open it. “AH! Damn!” He cried as he pulled his hand away. The knob was almost glowing with heat. “Diana! Hold on!”

North looked around for a second and spotted a crowbar nearby used for the boxes. He quickly grabbed this and began slamming it between the metal door and wall. When he put a big enough ding into the door, he shoved the bar as hard as he could into it and began to pull it, slowly bending the door near the knob.

Finally, the handle popped out of the door and swung open. Without a second thought, North rushed into the fire in search for his partner. “Diana? Diana!” He called out. Then he heard the sound of coughing and made his way in that direction.

That’s when he found her, lying on the floor. He quickly wrapped her arm around his neck and pulled the agent from the room. “Oh god – please be alright.” North said as he exited the room.

The fire was growng increasingly nasty and Diana lost all hope of getting the door open. Having to back away from the the door to avoid the fire, she leaned against the side wall glancing arond quickly for some sort of escape. The were too air up, alone too small for her to crawl through and there was only one blasted door! Sliding down the wall to avoid the masses of dark black smoke, she never heard North calling her name, and didn’t believe it was him until he had dragged her out of the room!

Diana was coughing so hard her chest was beginning to hurt, and she still hadn’t stopped by the time they reach saftey outside. The cool night air was a blessing but the sudden change in temperature made her so dizzy she was afraid she would faint. Last thing she wanted to do was pass out and loose that perfect untouchable image she had created for herself.

“I’m (cough!) perfectly fine..!” muttering her unbelievable complaint, she tried pushing him away and putting her weight on her own feet only to reward herself with buckling knees and being forced to lean on the detective. “Damn…” was the only word she could mutter!

Diana’s heartless, thankless and utterly hard-hearted comment brought some relieve to the detective. At least he knew her pride was ok. “Yeah, tough as nails, I know.” He said as he helped her to a bench. The gas-carrying thug was no where to be seen, but that didn’t matter to North at the moment.

Glancing over at Diana, he really felt like throwing his arm over her and at least comforting her in some way. She seemed to need it, as much as she said otherwise. But then he feared she’d get upset with that, she was probably hurting enough without someone babying her. But – he needed to do something other than sit there. “Say, uh, here.” he said, slipping off his jacket, which was covered in ash now. “Why don’t you take this.” And threw it over her shoulders.

The sounds of sirens echoed closer and closer now, fire and police speeding down the city streets. North didn’t know why any of this had happened, but at the moment, he didn’t care. He was just relieved Diana was all right.

Diana had close calls before, be it gun fights, random explosions or crazy stalkers, but she had always manage to fight her way out of it with her own hands, her own gun, and her own two feet. A little fire and a lock door and she was trapped. Helpless. She absolutely one hundred percent detested the feeling to the point of having a hard time breathing as she leaned forward on the bench trying to catch her breath. It was what an anxiety attack felt like, she supposed, and damned if it wasn’t made by worse by the fact she wanted comfort.

As North draped his jacket around her shoulders her steely resolve broke and she felt moist tears slide down her face. She quickly brushed them away, hoping not to get caught in such an odd moment, resulting in smearing ash from the smoke across her cheek. “Thanks,” she mumbled softly, barely audible with the sirens of approaching firetrucks.

North barely made out Diana’s thanks, but it was enough to put a bit of a smile on his face. he looked down the street to see the CFD turning around the corner now, the fire inside still roaring. But it all seemed somewhat muted to him at the moment. Distant in a way.

Then he glanced down at Diana, who was looking away from him. And maybe it was the way she sat there, or maybe the way she didn’t look at him that he really began feel that maybe she needed just a little more. After all, it wasn’t just for her. The moment he went though those doors and pulled her out, North was afraid, damned afraid he might had lost her then. And it was a feeling that still ran through him now.

North, who took a deep breath, slowly raised his arm and sat it over Diana’s back and gently squeezed her shoulder.

Diana squeezed her eyes shut. He was being so nice and she hated him for it! Why couldn’t he be a huge jerk so she could yell at him and pitch a fit so she could be angry instead of so… terrible!? He was forcing her to take advantage of him, and at the moment she had little qualms about doing so. Finally giving in to the temptation, she leaned over resting her face in the crook of his neck and wrapped her arms around his waist. He smelled delightfully nice and she took guilty pleasure in every moment.

“Mademoiselle Foster?” The voice of the blonde frenchman interupted, with a clearing of his throat. Diana jumped, quickly disentangling herself from North, mentally cursing herself for forgetting exactly where they were. Beau smiled an all too knowing smile and flourish a small envelope. “Mademoiselle Foster, Mother wished to give you this before the fire caused so a scene. I do hope you are all right.” He cast North a suspicious look.

The agent nodded and took the letter. “Yes, I am fine. There was just a bit of chaos. Goodnight, then.” She dismissed him quickly, giving him a pointed look to leave. He hesitated before bidding his goodbyes and returning back to his mother.

Sighing, she blinked down regretfully at the letter before casting North the first glance since they sat down. “It’s probably about the diamonds…”

North was enjoying the moment on the bench before Diana jumped up, nearly sending him to the ground. Standing up as well, he turned to face the blond man he saw with Diana earlier. When he noticed the look on his face, North rubbed the back of his neck with an awkward feeling. “We were – I … we … I’ll just – be over here for a second.” North said and walked away for a moment.

“Well, that’s proper for a lawyer and his-” North paused. He didn’t even remember what Diana was supposed to be. “You’re a real top-notch detective, North.” He said with a sigh. Watching Diana and the French men talk for a moment, he saw the letter being passed over to the agent. When they parted, North returned to Diana’s side, taking a quick look at the envelope.

She didn’t seem very pleased at the moment and when she looked up at him, he knew something was up. “What’s it about?” He said, referring to the letter in her hands.

Regretfully having to return to all business mode, she open up the letter to have a look. “I told Madame to let me know if she’s heard any news on Jacques Chappelle. He’s a very prominent jeweler, and I have suspicions he has the diamonds in his posession.”

Most of the letter was simply the older woman’s rammblings of inconsequensial invites to future affairs, but it did seem sometime during the night after Diana had left her company she managed to have a nice conversation with a young lady who seemed to have it on good authority that she would be the owner of the Pendragon Diamonds in the very near future. One Lisa D’rno.

Diana handed the letter to North for him to read, and gave a confused blink back at the burning building where the CFD were working hard to put out. She slid her arms through the sleeves of North’s jacket and mused over a few thoughts. “I’m going to take a wild guess and say someone either wanted to collect insurance money on the auctioned items, or they were trying to knock off a bunch of important people. Maybe both. What do you think?”

North looked over the letter a couple times, making sure to get every detail. He knew Lisa wasn’t as innocent as she made her self out to be, but to endanger dozens of people to cash in on a few pieces of art was insane. Handing back the letter to Diana, and crossed his arms, thinking.

“Well.” He said. “Don’t start accusing her just yet. I mean, all signs point to her, but I still have a date with our friend Lisa.” North glanced around. “Where ever she is. But the more we leave her to believe we think she’s the innocent Mafia princess, the better.” North said, hoping Diana would cater to his more patient method.

Somewhere, in the back of a limousine, Lisa sat under the overhead light and fixed her makeup. Only half the cab was lit, her light being the only one on while the rest sat in darkness. One she was done with her face, Lisa sat there quietly. “So. Was he there?” a voice came from the dark end.

“Yes.” Lisa said. “Just like you said he would.” She was looking out the side window.

“And still well, I take it.” The voice came again; a small puff of smoke hovered from the shadows.

Lisa coughed lightly and cracked window open. “Yes, those idiots stared too soon, I needed to get out of there before anyone saw me.” Just then, the limo passed under a streetlight, the pale, withered face of the smoking man flashed in the light.

“Well, doesn’t matter. Hey, why do today what you can pull off in the morning?” Another puff of smoke. Lisa didn’t seemed too pleased with the situation, she hadn’t all night. Staring out the window watching the countryside go by, the young D’rno looked rather distraught. “Don’t worry, my dear Lisa. This whole thing will blow over in no time. And you and your father can go back to your normal lives. But until I get what I want, you two are mine.”

“What do you want?!” Lisa said, frustrated with her companion. “Those Pendragon Diamonds?! You’ll get those soon enough! Just – shut up!”

“Oh Lisa, Lisa, Lisa…” The man leaned just into the light. “Those jewels, to me, mean absolutely dick. When I get what I want. You will know it. And you’ll never see me again. Oh, I promise you.” He put his cigarette out in the ashtray and lit up another, taking in a deep breath. When he returned to his seat in the darkness, it was almost as he disappeared, not making a single sound. The only trace of him was the occasional plume of smoke. Lisa hated him.

Diana took his arm and looked at his watch. The event had ended early, but it was just past midnight. They had plenty of work hours left to continue the exciting barage of random life threatening events. “It’s still early. Maybe now’s a good time to get that warrant and pay another visit to Vlachka.”

The brunette gave him an all too examining look, then glanced over his clothes. “Or if you want to take Lisa out on that date instead. You’d have to change, that’s not good for a date with a mafia princess.” She tried straightening his tie. Nope, he’d definetly need to change. “Unless you get shot down, figurativly speaking, of course.” Her grin was cheeky, and any previous signs of distress had vanished save for the dark smudges still on her face.

North cocked an eyebrow at Diana. Was she serious? After all, she was almost killed back there and she wanted to jump back on the case all ready? Even he was still a little shaken up after that event. He suspected she was trying to bury what happened as quickly as possible. Besides, neither of them looked decent enough to go anywhere, nevermind the don’s mansion.

“Well, are you sure?” He said. “I mean, there’s not much we can down in the time we have left tonight, and I have no idea where Lisa went.” he looked down and examined Diana himself, smiling a bit as he noticed all the dark blotches on her face and arms. “Besides, you don’t look all that great yourself. Tell you what. this time, we’ll actually leave at noon today. No excuses.”

Brushing himself off a bit, North tried to think up something to do. Something to at least help them unwind for the night. He was all about the case, but for some reason, he didn’t feel like putting Diana in any more danger that night. Maybe he felt guilty about what happened or maybe he just thought they could use the time off. Or maybe it was something else, he didn’t know. All he knew was he was done seeing fires and guns and mafia goons for the night.

“I suspect she went home.” Diana gave him a suspicious look. Was he weaseling out of his date with D’rno’s daughter? Or maybe he thought she had been through a terrible traumatic expirience, and like any prissy girl she needed time to rest. Rest was for the weak!

Well, perhaps she was tired and the thought of having to watch Lisa D’rno wrap North around her fingers wasn’t all that pleasing. Neither was storming in to the don’s home, or all that paperwork they were going to have to do afterwards. Maybe a few hours off wouldn’t be so bad.

“Wait.. did you just say I looked terrible?!” She blinked wide eyed, finally catching that little statement. Okay, so that’s not exactly what he said and she knew he didn’t mean it that way. But those were fighting words!

Diana gave him a wickedly devious grin. “Well, I guess you’re right. There aren’t enough hours for anything too involved. We could go out for a drink.”

North smiled approvingly. It had been a while since he had been out for a drink, at least, out with someone. Most of the time, what little money he made he would drown his own problems alone, it would be nice to have company for a change.

“That sounds – nice.” He said jauntily. “I know a place if you didn’t have anything in mind.” He glanced about. “It’s not too far from here. And – I have a tab there.” He shrugged. North was starting to look forward to a nice drink now, as strange at it seemed. His last couple of weeks were under less than pleasant circumstances.

She fell in to step next to North as they walked down the street this mysterious place he planned to take them. At least she knew it wouldn’t be anywhere too classy. That didn’t seem like the detective’s sort of thing, and if she caught a glimpse of herself in a mirror she’d probably not be all that pleased to be seen out in public.

Diana ran her fingers through her hair trying to get at least some gegree of acceptability back. Finally giving up on it, she pulled a clip from her pocket and simply clipped it all up out of her face. “I guess since you’re willing to date Lisa D’rno, that means you’re unattached?” It was a simple question, really. It’s not that she was interested, but she figured any girlfriend would have a tantrum to know their guy was having meetings with a mafia princess.

North shook his head slightly. “You know, I was kidding about that whole dating th- Uh, yes. Or no. I’m not seeing anyone.” He was a little confused by the question. “After all, it’s not the kind of business you’d just want to bring anyone into. Much rather see a girl like-” He stopped himself before he could finish his sentence. “I mean, I – That I’d … Uh, how about you?” He quickly changed the focus of the conversation.

As they continued talking, the two came upon a small corner bar that went by the name Webster’s Irish Pub. Not a surprising choice for the detective. The place seemed quaint, the picture perfect old bar. A dozen or so pictures from several time periods covered the walls. A couple other gentlemen littered the place, minding their own business as the pair entered.

The place was nice, and she rather liked it, but that was an opinion she didn’t plan to voice. Diana chose the bar to site at, simply for the fascination she had with the stools. North’s reversal of her question didn’t seem to bother her, infact she suddenly found herself very interested in what kind of girl he did date!

“No one ever catches my fancy enough to want to date them.” It was the pure and simple truth. It wasn’t that she had high standard, but most men either tended to be complete jerks or lovesick puppys she could kill with a simple glare. She was admitedly impossible to deal with. “What about Lisa D’rno? She’s already involved in the ‘business’, though dating a cop might tick off her father.” Grining as she teased, she continued. “What kind of girl do you date?”

North joined Diana at the bar and sat down next to her. He didn’t come in there much so he wasn’t a regular like he was over at Lou’s, so they were pretty much left alone, much to North’s appreciation. As he listened to Diana’s questions and taunts, he smiled awkwardly. She certainly was getting personal all of a sudden.

“Well, I’ve decided dating wasn’t the best thing to do at the moment.” He said. “But, if I were going to see someone. I’d prefer it to be someone who understood what I was doing and why. Someone who was prepared for anything that might happen. Someone like…” He hesitated. “Well, someone like – you. But that’s just a – comparison that’s all.”

As he sat there, feeling somewhat ungainly, the Bartender finally came over to ask them what they wanted. North was quick to answer. “Just a beer for me.” He said, a far from exciting choice.

She smiled at the bartender. “Same, please.” As well perfectly put together as she seemed to be and how easily she could breeze her way through social circles, she was a delightfully uncomplicated girl.

Tilting her head with that terribly devious look, she grinned again. “A girl like me, huh? I think you’d be the first to say so. A girl like me has often been called a general pain in the ass on more than one occasion.”

“What do you do when you’re not being a super hero?” she question, with some curiosity. With him doing business right out of his own apartment, Diana suspected work was about all he did. Not that she any any room to talk. Work seemed to be the only thing she was concerned with these days.

“I don’t know.” North said, easing up a little. “You’re not so bad sometimes.” A grin crept over his face. “But, uh, this is the first time I’ve taken a break in a while.” Stopping to think for a moment. “I can’t remember the last time I took a night off. Though, I don’t really do much outside the job anyway.”

North was normally uncomfortable being around people he didn’t know all that well, but this seemed different. Even after just a couple days, he felt at ease with the agent. It might have been the fact that they hadn’t parted since they met, but North didn’t care. He enjoyed her company, even if it hasn’t been under the greatest circumstances.

As he talked with her, the bartender returned with a couple bottles and set them down for North and Diana. Taking his, North popped the cap off and took a quick drink and set it back down. “So, what about you, Agent Jones? Done anything outside the case since you’ve come to Chicago?”

She shrugged, pushing the cap off the bottle with both thumbs, then amusing herself by twisting it on the bar counter. “There hasn’t been much time outside the case, between making appearances and gidding up info. Unless you count reading a book or two.” It sounded pathetic, but she was never exactly the social butterfly type in the first place.

Taking a drink from the bottle she laughed suddenly. “Oh, but I can sing some fantastic karaoke but no one has been arsed enough to convince me to do beyond the saftey of my bathroom walls.”

North chuckled softly. “Now that would be something I’d like to see.” Unfortunately for him, the bar was a small place, not the lively type either. There wasn’t any sort of entertainment outside the small TV that was playing some sports channel. North was slightly disappointed he wouldn’t have the chance to hear Diana’s voice in song.

Finishing his bottle, North flagged the bartender who brought another couple for him and Diana. “Well, I never got out much. Heck, I used to have a TV and computer in my apartment. But, uh, bills got the best of them. So, I usually ended up helping the local guys with a few obscure cases every now and then to help get by. And I still need to replace that sign outside to…” He cleared his throat. “Durocha P.I.”

Diana childishly stuck her tongue out at him. “Dream on, mister. Only way you’re gonna get me to sing is with a gun pointed at me.” She glanced at the new bottle of beer. “Hmm, and maybe with a few more of these.”

“You know,” she said teasingly once again, “If you’re going to pick the worst paying feild you could at least put yourself out there a little more and find the better paying clients.” Pausing for a moment she looked confused. “You know, I don’t know if you’re even getting paid for this job! I wasn’t told anything about the details…”

“What on earth does durocha mean anyway?”

“Durocha?” North said, looking up from his drink. “Well, it’s a – strange thing to use, I guess. The actual Dorocha is one of those mythical things, actually. A giant who lives on some island, I don’t really know much about that, though.” He took another swig.

“The real reason I used the name is because of my grandfather. He was the original Durocha P.I., I guess you could say. At least that was the name he used. He was the whole reason I became a detective in the first place, the stories he told me as a kid were, well, amazing. Stuff that sounded like it was from a movie.” North stared off into nothing as he remembered.

“He dealt with everything from mobsters to what almost sounded supernatural. Like the eight-foot man who carried a ten-barreled Tommy gun. He called him “Swiss Cheese Sammy” North paused when he realized just how corny that sounded. “This was the thirties, by the way. But I know now he just touched those stories up to make them seem more fantastic than they really were, he was kinda – weird like that. But I still wanted to become a private eye, and here I am. I used Durocha P.I. after I went solo, it seemed like a good idea at the time, what can I say? Though, I can’t say I’ve run into any odd characters yet.” Another chuckle escaped from his mouth.

By the time North finished, he was through another bottle. Again he flagged the bartender and again, he and Diana were given another set of drinks.

“Oh, there are plenty of weird characters around,” she replied, I wouldn’t doubt if half of those stories of his were true. I mean, there’s a few divisions of the FBI that investigate that sort of thing.” Diana always had mix feelings about the truely bizzare cases. On the one hand she would have adored tackling such a grand mystery, on the other that sort of stuff simply gave her the creeps. She rather liked her uncomplicated world.

A couple hours and a few too many beers later, Diana was blissfully detached. She took great pride in the fact that she wasn’t an angry drunk – pitching tantrums or causing fights. Nor was she a depressed drunk that rolled around sopping in self pity. In fact the worst affect she had was being slightly rediculous and not giving a damn about it. At the moment she was laughing loudly at an absolutely horrible dirty limerick by the bartender who for once was enjoying a laugh out of a customer instead of an angry bellow for more beer.

In the back of the pub there were a few racuous fellows, none of which were regulars to the bar, but that night had decided stop in for a few drinks, and maybe a bit of trouble. Sadly, for most of the night it was rather empty in the place and the fights they tried to start ended quickly and without incident as the majority of the patrons were docile old men. As the lady at the bar began to laugh, they decided trying to pick her up would be the perfect thing to incite an angry reaction for the gentlemen sitting next to her.

“Heeey, sugah. How’s about a dance and leaving this chump behind?” One said as he slid up to the stool behind Diana.

She simply shrugged and gave a perfectly innocent and unconcerned smile. “Sorry, I don’t dance, and if you touch me, I’m going to break your nose.”

That brought a loud round of laughter from the scruffy men. She was a small woman in a skirt no less and very obviously had been drinking a wee bit too much. “Yeah whatever, sweethart! We’re gonna dance!” Sure enough the second he reached an arm out she shot out the palm of her hand and popped him in the nose. He doubled over with a cry of pain! “Argh…!! She did it! She bloomin’ broke my nose!”

Diana blinked with a look of dumbfoundedness. “I told you I would.”

North didn’t usually drink so much, but with Diana with him, he couldn’t help it. She drank like a fish. With the bar space covered in bottles, the detective was enjoying a good laugh with his companion. Bad jokes and boring stories made all the better after downing all that booze. He was having a genuine good time, or at least, he was.

When the group of men entered, North didn’t even give it a thought. Why should he? After all, it was just a small bar; somewhere anyone would just want to sit down. It wasn’t until they came over to them in the hopes of causing trouble that he became concerned. But before North could do anything, Diana had already sent one of the men to the ground with a bloody nose.

Not wanting anymore violence, North stood up and tried to reason with the remaining men. “Hey – hey look guys.” He said, a slur in his voice. “We don’t want any trouble. We’re jus-” Suddenly he felt his head rock back and a sting on his face. It took North a moment to register that he had just been punched, too much drinking did that to him.

“You son of a…” North said and with a couple quick strikes to the man’s stomach and face, he sent him to the floor. With his fists raised in the old English boxing style, he turned to the remaining troublemakers. It seemed North wasn’t a stranger to fighting and wasn’t afraid to take down a few more late night thugs. Or at least in his current state, he didn’t. After all, he was Irish.

“Oh, that was nice, North. But, I don’t suppose you had to hit him that many times.” Diana leaned over in her stool to peer at the man in the floor. She had not even bothered to move from her seat, she hadn’t felt the need! The other thugs stood there looking a bit surprised for a few moments… but there weren’t about to let some girl and her drunk boyfriend knock out their two of their boys!

The two left tried to rush North, but Diana was surprisingly accurate in swinging beer bottles for someone who didn’t look like they could hardly see straight. She clocked him over the head with the bottle, leaving the guy sprawling on the floor unconcious!

The last man seemed to lose momentum as his friend went down, apparently not looking to take on someone alone. North was able to grab him by the collar before he could make his move and raise his fist into the air. “‘Ey man!” The would be attacker said “Don’t hurt me!” And cowered before North.

Sighing, North dropped the man and pushed him back. He was relieved, actually, as he really didn’t care much for hurting people, no matter how much they deserved it. “F-fine.” North stuttered. “But if you cause any more trouble around here, we’ll know!” He said, trying to spook the man. It seemed to work for the most part, as the small man nodded weakly. “Now, get out of here.”

Turning around, North brushed himself off with a feeling of gratification. “Eh, sorry about that.” He said to the bartender. He just shrugged it off, this probably wasn’t the first fight he had in there, and the only thing broken was a nose. “Nice throw, by the way.” North said, looking at Diana with a smile.

“I have impecable aim.” she replied, looking down at the people on the floor. Pursing her lips with thought, she slid from the stool to stand swayingly on her feet. “I do suppose we should leave though! I don’t gather it would be all that nice if they woke up with us still here…”

Diana stepped carefully over the first two forms before missing a step and tummbling un ceremoniously in to North. It was a miracle either of them managed to stay on foot as she righted herself again and straighted her shirt with a rather infallible look.

“Y-yeah I guess so.” North said and followed Diana. After two nights of being shot at, kicked out of a mansion and then running into a fire, it felt good to finnally let something out. Of course, all of North’s drinking might have contributed to the outburst as well.

Making their way to the door, North almost toppeled backwards as Diana fell into him, but managed to keep his balance reguadless. He brought Diana back to her feet and did his best to keep on his as they left the bar and stepped onto the street. North glanced down both directions and stood there for a moment as he tried to think straight.

“So where do – where do you want to go now?” He asked as he turned to the agent. The bruise on his face was beginning to swell up a little by now, but North hadn’t really noticed it.

“Your place.” she replied, without seeming to really think about the answer. Diana took his hand and led him down the street, considering the cool night air and a walk would do them both some good. At least, she was feeling entirly too warm and a taxi cab would be unbearable. “We have to fix your face, or Lisa is never going to take you out in public!”

She led him through the streets back to his apartment, maybe only taking one small wrong turn here or there. At his building, she dug his keys out of his pockets for him, and did all of the unlocking, at least letting North have his gentlemenly pride of opening the doors for her.

North tried to keep in step with Diana, as being dragged down the streets was somewhat humiliating. Unfortunetly for him, she was pretty quick on her feet and continued to pull the detective behind her. She certaintly was forceful when drunk and North decided it was best not to fight it.

Once they got to his apartment, Diana was in his pockets before he had a chance to even think about it. With a few clicks the door was unlocked. Opening it, North let Diana in and followed behind her. “I don’t have much here.” He said, looking around the bare room. “B-but make yourself at home!”

The walk seemed to help a little, but he was still far from sober, but getting coherent at least. He stumbled across the room and sat down at his desk chair and leaned back slightly.

Diana blinked at him for a few moments as he plopped in to his chair. “Well, if you really don’t mind me snooping around your place, stay put then.” Men were rather lazy, but she’d forgive him just this once considering he took a punch to the face! It was amazing how easy it was to find some ointment and the ice with him being so scattered, but she supposed he actually kept the important stuff where he could find it. A detective often finds their way in to a good fight.

Sitting on his desk across from him so she wouldn’t have to hover, she poked his cheek lightly, giving him a chiding look. “You should have ducked. It’s never a good idea to just stand there and get punched.”

“I was, ow, just trying to, ow, resolve things peace-ow-fully.” North said, flinching as Diana dabbed his cheek. The guy hit harder than it felt and the stuff she used stung like crazy. “Besides, you – you try fighting after a night on the bottle. They jus’ wanted to dance with you-OWWW!” North shouted when Diana pushed the rag onto his bruise. “Ok, sorry. You did your share.” He rubbed his face after she quit dabbing it.

North felt a bit silly having someone mother him like that, but Diana didn’t seem to mind. In fact he was going to just treat it like any other wound he recieved; ignore it and hope it went away on its own. But if she was going to treat it who was he to argue? Besides, it wasn’t so bad. It was almost – pleasent.

Leaning back, she admired her handy work. Not bad for a few minutes of poking. If he were lucky it would simply be a dull ache by morning! “I can’t figure how you can get socked in the jaw and not feel a thing, then cry at a little ointment!”

She tugged his arm until she got him to stand and handed him the things to put away. Then, she swiftly stole his seat, scooting the chair up to the desk. The desk was rather nice, at least after she had cleaned it up. Diana folded her arms on the desk and rested her chin on them, giving a contemplative look around the office. “Hmm, maybe you need a secretary to keep things in order here…” she muttered, more to herself than to him. A yawn was trying to sneak it’s way past, but she bravely fought it. Sleepyness was terribly in conveniant!

North got up, thinking she wanted to check one last thing. When she took his seat, he realized what she was after and sighed a loud, frustrated sigh. Just when he was geeting comfortable, too. He thought it would be rude to sit down on the desk in front of her head – so it was hard to resist. Instead, he decided to take a spot up against the wall next to Diana and rest the best he could there.

“Hmm?” North looked down at the agent as she mumbled. He could only make out secretary and a few other words, but enough to see what she was getting at. “Hey, I just make enough to pay off bills, I don’t need some secretary to pay off every week. Besides, I’d probably end up with someone like you.” He said with soft chortle.

Diana scoffed! “Then you would have the best! I keep everything in perfect order.” She was a filing machine. All of her reports, papers, and important documents were neatly put away. At least until her apartment was declared a disaster area. It was going to take forever to return everything to it’s previous order. She blew a pesky strand of hair from her face.

“I’ll clean things up later and leave sticky notes for you. It’s a bloody miracle to find anything in here.” she me muttered, casting an amused grin. “And your socks too, I bet you don’t even know where your socks are…” Socks were always escaping in her own room, surly his socks were unfindable. It was such an entertaining thought that she dwelled on it for several quiet moments before she drifting to sleep at the desk and missing any reply North may have said.

Well, she had him there. He really didn’t know where they would be at the moment. Though, he didn’t care much for her proposal of leaving those annoying sticky notes all over the place. Besides, what was wrong with the office? He could find whatever he needed – after a short search maybe bit it was all there. Besides, it was his home, who was she to tell him it was a mess, even though it was a mess…

“Well, I’ll tell you something, Agent Jo-” He stopped and looked down at her. “Agent Jones? …Diana?” She was asleep. “Oh, uh … sorry.” He said out of reaction and crept away, not wanting to disturb her. Reaching the light switch, North was about to turn it off when he glanced into his room and at his bed. Diana couldn’t have been all that comfortable in that position, hunched over in a wooden chair.

“Oh fine, you win.” He muttered to himself, trying to make it seem as if he had a decision in the matter. He came back over to Diana and slowly wheeled the chair out, catching her before she toppled over. Throwing her arm over his shoulder, North reached down and lifted the sleeping agent up. He felt asinine, and would probably got a good beating if she woke up, but he wasn’t one to let a guest in his house fall asleep at a desk. You wake up with a rather nasty backache when you do, he would know.

He entered his room with the sleeping Diana and kicked a few items off his bed for room. Now, his bed wasn’t the greatest thing, an old spring mattress and little else. But at least it was better than a chair. He laid Diana down and pulled the covers over her, placing the pillow under her head as well. North nodded approvingly, managing not to wake her up and doing his kind deed for the day. “Goodnight then…” He said and left the room.

Back in his chair, North returned to his normal position of leaning back and resting on the window sill. He was just sitting for a bit, thinking about various things that had happened the last couple night, but nothing unparticular. A few moments later, before he knew it, the detective was asleep, snoring softly as always.

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