A few minutes of walking brought them back to the hotel. No freaky clown cars were in sight and the door to Cathy Young’s room was unlock, and the room empty but ransacked. It seemed the earlier guests had shaken the place up trying to find whatever it was they were looking for. Diana wanted to immediately fall in to bed at the sight of it, but duty came first. Even if the place was a mess, a trained professional find something useful. Just… blessed sleep! But the case… but sleep!
“Why did I think that was a good idea…” she muttered under her breath.
The Thourn siblings certainly didn’t care if anyone knew they were there; the place was a mess! There was practically nothing right side-up in the room. Papers were strewn all over the floor, lamps knocked over, bed sheet balled in a corner, and even the wicker chair was on its side. The large mess gave good indication that they never found what they were looking for before North and Diana showed up. At least that’s what the detective was hoping for before they began snooping around for anything.
Before anything, though, North wanted to take a load off his feet. The first thing he did was sit down on the bed with a heavy plop – which wasn’t as comfortable as he hoped; more along the lines of a soft cinder block. But for now it would have to do. “So…” North’s voice raised softly as he glanced around at the mess. He had no idea where to start and more he looked, the less he really wanted to jump into it. “Where should we begin?”
When he looked back as his partner, he noticed something that had completely slipped his mind – the slit on the dress! And not the one the designer meant to have there. “On second though.” North stood up. “Why don’t you do look at that cut of yours. I’ll start out here.”
“Cut?” Diana looked down at her side and immediately wished she hadn’t. The bleeding had stopped, though it still looked a mess. Still blood was never something she wanted to see, especially her own. “It’s not that bad,” she muttered, while sweeping up a phone book from the floor. The sudden motion made her head spin and she laid a hand on the desk to balance herself.
“Guess it wouldn’t hur-… The hell am I suppose to wear?!” she gave North a arduous look. The dress was on it’s last legs, not that it was the most.. appropriate thing to be wearing at the time. The thought of borrowing another woman’s clothes also didn’t seem appealing, not that she could see anything reasonable thrown about the room. “Never mind.” snatching up a rumpled sheet from the bed, Diana marched towards the bathroom.
“Try to get that box open…”
“Just go…” North said as he was already shuffling through some of the papers strewn across the floor. There wasn’t anything of much interest, just some odd files and the like. Nothing relating to clowns or circuses or anything! When Diana mentioned the box again, the detective took it from his pocket and gave it another quick look over. Still nothing very interesting and he still didn’t get why she felt the need to swipe it. So it was out of place? He was going to have to make sure every thing in his apartment matched if she was going to stick around then.
Setting that aside, North continued to look through some of the papers on the lamp table, a little more closely now. He was beginning to catch a reoccurring name in a lot of them; David Stine. Who, according to these papers he was some sort of director, but North had never heard of him personally. Then again, he hadn’t seen a movie in years, so what did he know? Putting those aside where he could find them later, the detective noticed a strangely neat section of the room, perhaps where they interrupted the sibling’s search. It was worth a look at least, as if they didn’t find anything anywhere else, maybe it was there.
“Might even find a way to get into that box.” North mused to himself. Sure, it was unlikely, but there had to be something of interest in this room if the clowns were searching so violently through it. Thus, the detective began opening drawers one by one, much neater than the previous inspectors, however.
Closing the door behind her, Diana hung the sheet up with the towels so it wouldn’t be a mess on the floor before she turned her sights to her reflection in the mirror. Grimacing at her less than attractive appearance she immediately removed the dress with elation!
It took longer than she would have liked to get herself free from the dirt and blood, but she had finally cleaned and patched herself up before wrapping the sheet around her. She could have put the dress back on, but the sheet seemed more pleasant for the time being. North would have to understand!
Stepping out of the bathroom, North was no where to be seen, however. “Better not have abandoned me…”
When Diana walked back out of the bathroom, North was well on his way to the front office of the motel. He thought he might as well had figured out who to room was registered to. If it was Cathy Young, maybe she left a message at the desk as to where she went. After all, all her stuff was still there.
After a short discussion with the manager, and a long argument over whether North was really a detective, he got his answers. David Stine was the name. So apparently these clowns were after him and Cathy just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Luck North and Diana often shared. With that little tidbit, North gave a quick ‘thank you’ and headed back to the room.
“Stine, huh?” North said to himself, unable to really think quietly. “So who would want to kill a movie director?” He was deep in thought. So deep he didn’t even think to knock before bursting back into the room where Diana was messing about in a bed sheet!
When North looked up and caught a glimpse at Diana, he remained quiet for a second, raised an eyebrow – and wasn’t as surprised as he thought he would be. Shrugging it off for the time being, North picked up the papers with Stine’s name on them and handed one to Diana.
“You wouldn’t happen to recognize that name, would you?” He asked, still rather quiet about Diana’s attire. “Apparently he’s the one the room’s rented to. Whatever the clowns were looking for was his, not Cathy’s.”
Diana was startled as North burst in to the room! Damn, he was lucky she didn’t have her gun on her or he’d have a bullet through his brain! He also made no mention of her current attire, which for a brief minuscule second wounded her feminine pride. She didn’t look nice dressed up in a bed sheet? Bah!
David Stine, though did ring a bell. “Sounds familiar, I guess. At least I’ve heard it somewhere before.” She caught the TV out of the corner of her eye before it finally came to her! “Oh jeeze… that guy is a cheesy romance flick director! I er… have seen a movie or two.” Actually she rather enjoyed renting those b-movie flicks, but North McCoy didn’t need to know about that!
“While you were gallivanting around I did manage to find something useful myself!” she held up a very tiny key hooked on to a bracelet chain. “Dropped behind the dresser. Probably Miss Cathy’s and probably opens that box.”
“Movie director, huh?” North said, not bothering to mention the more embarrassed tone near the end of the sentence. He seemed more focused on the case than anything else at the moment, even a sheet clad agent! Plopping down on the hard bed again, North got a little more settled this time; the doors were locked as were the windows. If anyone did come, they’d have to try a bit harder than before.
“Anyway, let me see that key.” He questioned and took it from Diana. It did look like a perfect match for the little case and finding it here made more sense than a lot of other things they’ve been through. While not too eager to get it open as Diana, but he still wondered what was inside it. A little big for a ring, too small for money, what could it have that was so important?
“Well…” North said and picked up the box. “Shall we?” Sliding the key into place, the detective gave of good turn until the little mechanics inside clicked and the lid popped opened a little. With one more glance at each other, North opened the lid to reveal – another key.
Of course, this key was much larger and nicer key. Shaped like one of those old time ones with the rather nicely designed ivory tip. “This isn’t helpful at all.” North sounded almost disappointed. “But it does seem to go alone with the rest of tonight’s events. Just one more question after another. Any clue, Agent?” He handed her the larger key, this time actually taking notice of her now that he was settled down a bit more. Maybe it was just taking longer instead…
Diana blinked at the key before she rolled her eyes and dropped on to the bed next to North. “No, I don’t. You’d think there’d be something a little more interesting in there.” The severe lack of doing anything constructive was a bother, not to mention the huge mess things turned out to be. She suddenly took notice that North was covered head to toe in every kind of dirt imaginable and promptly gave him a poke in the side.
“You’re covered in mud,” she blatantly pointed out the obvious. “Did you roll your way to the carnival?”
“I just had a … couple falls.” North replied, noticing he was leaving a large mud spot on the bed. He didn’t realize just how dirty he was until he wiped his face and smeared brown across his cheek. “Well, you try thinking straight when your partner-temporary partner gets kidnapped.”
Standing up, North took off his mudded jacked and set it aside. His shirt was relatively clean except for the front where he fell face first into carnival grounds. Knowing Diana, he didn’t really wait for her to tell him before he made his way to the bathroom as well. “I’ll … just be right back.” He muttered and picked up a towel off the ground before stepping into the bathroom. Unlike Diana, though, North just ran some warm water onto the towel and gave whatever skin was exposed a good scrub. “There…”
Satisfied, the detective strolled from the bathroom and returned over to Diana. Only, he didn’t look all that much better from before. He didn’t even get his whole face. “By the way,” He said, getting ready to sit back down. “I take it you don’t expect to go back to my apartment tonight.”
“Don’t sit!” She ordered and motioned a pointed finger at his pants. Diana had already made a fuss of dusting off the sheets from when he had a seat before. “We’ll stay here and wait to see if Cathy or her beau show up again, but I don’t they’ll be back tonight.. Er,” she paused remembering why she had halting his sitting in the first place, “What I mean is, if we’re staying here tonight, you’re not getting the sheets all muddy.“ The idea of staying the night probably wasn’t the best one – if the pair came back to their room finding a couple of strangers it likely wouldn’t go over well. At the same time, the pack of crazy clowns weren’t likely to return to the motel and Diana had the feeling neither were the couple. For the moment though, going somewhere just wasn’t a pleasant sounding option.
“Just take off the pants, it won’t kill you.” She suspected he might complain that it could, and the thought of such an argument brought a brief whimsical smile to her face. It was a ridiculous and silly thought, certainly there were more important things to consider than pointless arguing with her current partner.
North, who was still uncomfortable with having any piece of clothing removed with company, just had an obvious look of annoyance when Diana kept him from sitting down. He knew it had to be something, every night it was something she disapproved of! “Well, it’s not going to do me any good, either.” North said, disobeying the agent’s orders. “There’s other places to sleep anyway.” A lie, of course. There wasn’t a single place besides the bed that wasn’t a mess, and North knew it.
Then he remembered the wicker chair that was still thrown about. “There, see?” He said and turned it upright and sat down. The first thing he noticed, however, was how unbelievably uncomfortable it was. It felt like it was jabbing and poking him every time he moved, but North liked it better than having no pants on around a nude Diana Jones. That just wasn’t exactly professional! Then again, almost everything they’ve done together hadn’t been. Her little smile didn’t put North at any sort of rest, either.
“Anyway, you’re right.” North said, settling down where he thought he was going to spend the night. If Cathy or David shows up anywhere we now of, it’ll be here.” He too suspected neither of them would appreciate finding strangers in their room, and there would be a lot of explaining. But North was sure they could work things out before it got out of hand. Though, the thought of the clowns doing the same wasn’t a comforting, but all the same, it was a risk they were going to have to take. Not like they had the money on them for different room on them anyway.
Plucking a thin sheet off the floor, North threw it over himself and continued. “We can pick up in the morning where we left off. Maybe we can stop by David’s movie set or something, see if anyone knows anything about this there.”
Diana raised an eyebrow. No one could sleep in a wicker chair. Hell, a person could hardly sit in one comfortably! Instead of calling it out right, she hopped in to bed, giving the mattress a bounce test. It wasn’t a cloud of comfort, but it would do – better than a chair! “Whatever you say, Detective.” she finally replied with a bit of sarcasm. “If you can manage any sleep, that is. I suppose you have a super hero persona that rules out the need for sleep?”
North almost wanted to groan at Diana. Mainly for ignoring anything about the case in favoring of sending him sarcastic comments and keeping the frustration high. It was almost as if she enjoyed and wanted the much unnecessary tension! “Well,” North began. “It doesn’t take a super-hero intellect to… keep his pants on around you…” his voice sort of trailing off at the end. He didn’t exactly mean for the comment to come out as mean as it did, he just wanted a retort.
“Look, I didn’t mean it like that – I meant that … Well I mean…” He didn’t know how to follow that one up now. North just wasn’t any good at this whole bickering thing, and wondered just how the agent brought out in him.
Diana wrinkled up her nose, unsure if she was insulted or just amused. North McCoy certainly had a way with words, it just wasn’t a very good way! “I was just pointing out, you’re not going to get any sleep in that chair, but if you want to be all stubborn, that’s fine with me!” Grabbing the blanket that remained at the foot of the bed, she pulled it up to make herself as comfortable as she could get on the lumpy mattress.
“Heaven forbid we get in to another scuffle tomorrow and you’re to exhausted to put up a good fight…” she muttered under her breath just loud enough for North to hear across the room.
She just had to make a point about being tired if anything happened the next day. He really wasn’t going to get any sleep on that chair, and he wasn’t even going to consider the floor. It was more shades of filth than he cared to count. Other than that, the only other spot was the bed, but that wasn’t an option he cared to take! Or – one he didn’t think he wanted to.
It was just his pants, and it wasn’t like she hadn’t seen that before. Of course that time got him into a strange position at the time. It wouldn’t be so bad if Diana didn’t take so much pleasure in putting him in uncomfortable situations. It was just something about her.
“Ok, fine.” North said, surrendering finally. “You made your point. But – you’re staying on your side this time.”
“I’ll keep my cooties to myself, detective.” Diana replied with amusement. Though, where she was supposed to keep to her own side, she wasn’t sure. Deeming it best to keep her eyes to herself as well, less he suddenly changed his mind, Diana moved over to the far side to give him room. She sighed thinking about putting that dress back on when they left in the morning – if they lived until morning! The whole week was one rotten thing after another – the ceiling could fall in just to top it off.
“I should be more prepared…” she mumbled under her breath. If it weren’t just for the weird week, she had been in enough random cases to think ahead for these sorts of things! Diana Jones was a seasoned FBI agent, there was a method to her madness! Of course, that was on her own or with an assigned and pre-briefed partner. Perhaps she took their preparation against her habits for granted. North was throwing everything off track.
With a soft sigh, North stood up and relocated him to the side of the bed. He took one quick look over at Diana to see her amused in the situation, but instead caught her staring off at nothing with a thoughtful look on her face, almost upset looking. ‘What now?’ the detective thought to himself, becoming even more confused with his partner. One moment she was all too happy to make him squirm, now she was off in her own world somewhere.
North just brushed it off for the time being and focused more at the task at hand. Quickly and still unhappily undoing his lower attire, the detective slid out of the mudded slacks and under the covers before Diana could poke fun at anything like last time. “Well…” he said, breaking the sudden silence. “You got your way now so let’s just – get some sleep.” That was followed by the him pulling the sheet up to his shoulders and settling in – Facing away from Diana.
“Goodnight, North…” she mumbled, now paying him little attention while she thought. Granted, she always managed to get involved in the most unusual things, but this time she couldn’t deny that she didn’t exactly plan before jumping in to action. Detective business was a little different from the FBI; after all, one is assigned their cases with a neat little folder including all the information names and dates. There was no reason why she couldn’t have tapped in to that system to verify the location or info of Cathy Young before dragging North out to a strange clown infested hotel that had strangely hypnotic orange wallpaper! They both nearly ended up killed and there was nothing to show for it but a bunch of mud and a fancy show dress!
Diana pulled the pillow over her head and groaned. It was no better than North running off to challenge Mandell. She messed up – possibly even botched the case before they even got started. And what for? Because she needed something to do? North was messing up her trail of thought? Because she couldn’t think reasonably when being revisited by a psycho from the past? Maybe her boss was right, she was going to get someone killed at this rate.
Now North knew there was something wrong. If the sudden silence and disinterest from his partner didn’t alert him to a problem, it was the muffled groan from the other side of the bed. When he rolled over to see what was causing it, he found Diana; head buried deep under the pillow. And she was holding it down like a hit man would to his victim.
“You, uh, ok Diana?” North asked quietly, but not getting a response. Either she ignored him or she couldn’t hear through the pillow. Wondering if he should try again or just let her be, the detective sort of laid there and looked at her for a moment. Sure, she acted high and mighty most of the time and dragged him into situations where North wasn’t sure they’d make it out alive – but damned if he didn’t care about her! She was his partner, and more than that she was a friend.
So with that, North lifted the edge of the pillow to catch a glimpse of a single, distressed eye. And with the most caring and sensitive tone he could muster, the detective looked sympathetically into that eye and said with all his heart, “Hey…”
“I’m not a wounded puppy so stop looking at me like that.” she replied sharply. Diana pulled the pillow away as she sighed and stared up at the ceiling. He was being nice again and she was never quite sure what to do about that. “I’m tired, I hurt,… and I really don’t have the energy to give you a good fight.” Eyeing him for a moment she amended the statement just a tad, “Well.. I could say you look like a train wreck, but that’s not important.”
“Just… sleep or something. Stop staring at me.”
“I’m not looking for a battle.” North said, perhaps a little unhappy his care was repaid with stingy comments. “I’m just wondering what’s wrong. I mean, you got me to take my pants off – again. Normally you would be overjoyed about that!” He tried to make light of the situation, but how she would take that, he didn’t know. Not only did he not know why she was suddenly upset, but he didn’t know what brought it on either. It was a mood swing for the books! “Look, what I meant to say is … what’s wrong? And yes, I do care. One moment you’re more than happy to give me hell, now you’re … upset.”
Now that he was awake for the most part again, North slid the blanket down to is waist and sat up, propping himself against the wall behind him. He wasn’t going to just let the agent sulk all night for whatever reason she had and the least she could to is tell him why. “So come on, Diana.” His tone gave the impression he was determined. “What’s wrong?”
Clasping her hands together and resting them on her waist, she didn’t bother to look over at him. He probably had that no nonsense stubborn look he got when he was being a pain in the rear. Diana debated whether or not to share her thoughts. Really, he was probably thinking the same things about her! Did she want to fluff his ego and admit she was wrong? Not likely!
“There’s nothing wrong with me, and if there were it really wouldn’t be any of your business, detective!”
Unsurprisingly, North wasn’t convinced. And he wouldn’t be until she was insulting and treating him as dirt, like things should be! Besides, he wasn’t going to get any sleep with her muttering about everything, especially when he couldn’t fiugure out what it was. Then again, thier past scuffels showed the detective was no good at deciphering Miss Diana Jones. Either he wasn’t good with women, or she was one of the most confusing people on Earth. Or maybe it was just a little of both. But either way, North had a strange compulsion to find out what was bothing the agent. And he was going to have to be delicate in doing so.
“What do you mean none of my business?” North turned his head towards the agent beside him. “We’re partners, remember? Or at least until they call you back to Washington…” His voice drifted off at the end there as he reminded himself she wouldn’t be there forever.
“But if you don’t tell me, I’m-” He paused. North didn’t know what he was really going to do. But he remembered what bothered her the most! “I’m going to start guessing.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me.” she questioned. Was that supposed to be a threat? If he thought that was going to be intimidating, he would be sorely dispointed!
“Goodnight, McCoy.” Blatantly ignoring his questioning, she rolled to her side to give him the cold and in this case, bare shoulder.
North raised an eyebrown when Diana rolled away from, she might not be able to see him, but she could still hear him. With a deep and overexagerated infail, North began his relentless onslaught of nosey question. “Is it because you got captured?” He asked. “It’s nothing to be embarassed about. Or maybe it’s the cut. Ok, so it might leave a scar and I’m sorry I didn’t get there in time. Or maybe…”
And he continued like this for nearly five minutes, digging deeper and deeping into the agent with every question. And while he ran the risk of being smothered by Diana at any moment, there didn’t seem to be any end to his continous attack of questions.
She tried desperatly to surpress the twitch at the corner of her eye that was slowly beginning to drive her insane. Actually, it was North that was driving her insane! Finally she had enough and slowly, with deliberate motion Diana took her pillow and gave him a good whap!
“Can it! The only reason you’re being so damned nosey is so you can throw out all the I-told-you-sos, because I screwed up! Really, how the hell does a person get captured by psychotic clowns? In a drag club! An agent of the F.B.I.! I shouldn’t be playing dressup, getting tied to… to.. weirdass contraptions and nearly getting us both killed! It’s… unprofessional!” Finishing her tyraid, Diana snatched his blanket and angrily tossed it over her own head as she layed back down. “…and we definetly shouldn’t be in a sleezy motel room owned by a client we haven’t even met. There’s absolutly no sense and it’s all my fault.”
Well, North seemed to have struck a chord somewhere in his string of questions, but he wasn’t quite prepaired for her to feel guilty over the ordeal! The detective was for the most part caught off guard by that and took a moment before responding. Though his suddenly delay probably wasn’t making her feel any better about the whole situation.
“Hey, look I…” North did his normal trailing out when he couldn’t think of something to say. Now he was pretty much lost with her once more. “I – I didn’t mean it like that. I don’t care about I-told-yous or anything. I just care about … well, about you.”
It was such a touching comment. A caring one. An awkward one. “And, uh, besides. Not even the FBI could predict clowns, right?”
Diana blinked at the fabric of the blanket with a confused expression. He cared about her? How… awkward! Muttering under her breath, she still refused to come out from under the blanket. Despite what he said, there were things she was trained for and even though one wouldn’t expect psychotic clowns, she was savvy enough to avoid situations like that!
“Maybe,” she finally replied. “I still screwed up and I should have minded my own business.”
“Go to sleep.”