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"So are you allowed to fraternize with us when we're former suspects?" Dr. Taylor asks from across the dinner table.

"That case is well out of my hands now," Landry replies. "I'd say it's pretty air tight. Molly Johnson was fed up with Haverty. She went to his apartment with a .357 and forced him to write the suicide note. She was going to kill him and leave the gun in his hand. But he had his own .22, and when he went for it, she shot him in the back of the head and fled the scene and then dropped the gun in the creek behind the apartment complex."

After six hours of sweeping that creek, they'd found it. No fingerprints, but the ballistics were an even more probable match than Dr. Taylor's gun. Landry and Detective Wells then canvassed gun stores with Molly's photo. She couldn't have bought it herself, being under 21, but they hoped maybe she'd been window shopping. They got one better. One store owner said she was with a young man who bought a .357. They interviewed the young man, a senior at Antioch, and Detective Wells's costuming finally paid off. He confessed he was sweet on Molly, that they'd been friends but he was hoping for more, that he'd bought the gun for himself three weeks before the murder, but that when she came to him the night of and asked if he would give it to her because she was so scared walking home from Antioch at night, he'd gladly handed it over.

"How's Gracie doing?" Landry asks. She's not at the table. She's upstairs in her room. She's still depressed about learning that Molly was not the girl she thought she was. Julie has brought her dinner, and is eating with her, and they're watching some night time soap together, and having sister talk.

"She'll be a'ight," Coach Taylor says. "She just needs to stick to girls her own age."

Landry smiles at the implied acceptance in his acknowledgement.

"And," Coach says, "I've got to step up and be as involved as I was when Julie was dating boys."

From beside Coach Taylor, Matt looks at Landry and smirks.

"Both of us do," Dr. Taylor admits as she refills her wine glass.

"Well, I'm more to blame," Coach Taylor admits. "You've been a little busy, babe. What with your battle with cancer." He swallows. The cancer is still in remission and the prognosis looks good, but it's got to scare him, Landry thinks. "I'm gonna step up, babe. I am."

"I know you are. And maybe we just need to start running background checks on her girlfriends."

"Well, fortunately," Matt says. "I have a friend who can do that for you."

A friend, Landry thinks with a smile. A friend.

Matt and Julie are talking about moving to Seattle. "Gracie needs a big sister around," Julie told Landry. "No offense to Mom, but I think she needs her big sister around. And there's a magazine here I think I can get hired on as assistant editor. And once Matt does this sculpture, he might get more work here. Besides, we want to be near family when we adopt. Our son or daughter should have grandparents and an aunt nearby."

Life is looking up for Detective Landry Clarke. He's closed another case. He has his best friend back – maybe even in the same city. Now all he's got to do is find a woman of his own.

[****]

"Hey, Jess."

She leaps. "Dammnit, Landry, you have to stop sneaking up the stairs."

She unlocks the door, opens it, and turns. "I heard from Coach Taylor you did a pretty amazing job of cracking that case and getting him and his daughter off. He's pretty grateful for that."

Landry nods.

"And I'm grateful not to be a suspect anymore."

"You were never a suspect."

"And that you," she zips her lips. "About the pot."

"I work homicide anyway."

"Want to come in for a bit?"

He smiles and follows her inside. It's a nice, two-bedroom apartment. Open living plan. Kitchen spills onto the dining room and across to the living room. She has a fireplace – gas. And a balcony. It's there that they sit, in two chairs, and split a bottle of wine. It's not raining for a change. It's not even drizzling. Seattle is gorgeous when it isn't gray. And really, there's a good 100 days a year it's this stunningly gorgeous. Not too hot, not too cold. Mountains in the distance. Pines rising high. Pedestrian-friendly city streets. Landry likes it here.

"But don't tell the East Coasters," Jess says. "Or the Californians. Just let them think it rains all the time. We don't want anymore of them here."

"But we could do with a few more Texans, right?"

She smiles. "Yeah. We can tell the Texans it doesn't always rain."

He leans forward. Turns his head. Looks at her. "You never got married," he says.

"You either. Why's that?"

"Never found the right one." He takes a sip of his wine. "You ever miss me, after you dumped me for Vince?"

She rolls her eyes. "Landry. Don't you think it's time to let go of that resentment?"

"Oh I let go of it before we graduated. I let go of the resentment. But I don't know if I ever one hundred percent let go of my feelings for you."

She lowers the Hawkins High Seahawks cap she's still wearing. She peers at him. "Are you asking me out?"

"Are you saying yes?"

"I'm not saying no."

He settles back into the chair, let's his legs fall comfortably apart, and smiles.

THE END

Landry can't slam his locker without thinking of the Panthers or the Lions. Even if he's putting on a gun and a suit coat instead of pads. The force is like football. There's banter in the lockeroom. Insults tossed, caught, and returned. Comradery that's not the same things as friendship. Family that flows from a common bond, but that can be gone in an instant when you drift from the core. But it's different, too. There's more girls for one. Jess was the only woman to ever set near the Lions' locker room. He wonders how she's doing now, how close to death her father is, how she deals with that. Landry wonders what her evenings are like, alone in that Seattle apartment. Or not alone, perhaps.

"Coach Taylor's in the interrogation room, like you asked," Officer Morales tells him. Landry nods, shifts his holster to a more comfortable spot.

When he gets into the room, Coach looks classically ticked. "I'm not talking."

Landry takes the seat across the table from him. "You're not a suspect anymore."

"How's that? I signed a confession."

"Yeah, I fed that to the shredder." Landry pushes a cup of coffee across the table to him. Tully's. Landry won't buy Starbucks. Seattle is bought and sold and owned by Starbucks, even though every real man knows Tully's is better. So Coach, who is the realest man Landry has ever met, should appreciate the gesture.

Coach Taylor looks at the coffee cup which has the logo emblazoned on it. "Is that from an actual Tully's shop?" he asks. "Didn't they all close down?"

"I used my powers of detection to uncover a secret location."

Coach slides the cup close and takes a sip. He lets out a satisfied sound. "I'm still not talking."

"Gracie is no longer a suspect either."

Coach looks up. The relief washes over his face. Like at the end of a close game. He relaxes into himself. "Why not?" he asks.

"What can you tell me about Gracie's girlfriend?"

He blinks. "Why do you ask?"

"She's our suspect now. She was identified in the line-up by a witness as having entered Haverty's apartment after you said you left and a few minutes before the gun shots were heard."

Coach's eyes are wide. Clearly he's never suspected this girl.

"We need more evidence," Landry says. "We have enough to hold her, but because you have motive and Gracie has motive and you confessed and Dr. Taylor's gun is a probable match for the bullet, well…Molly Johnson's lawyer is going to have no trouble raising a shadow of a doubt. So what can you tell me about her?"

He shakes his head. "Nothing. I really don't know anything. Her name's Molly. She goes to Antioch college. She's a freshman. Or maybe a sophomore."

"That's all you know?"

"I don't investigate my daughter's romantic interests."

"Really? Because you sure kept a close tab on Julie's if I recall."

He bites his lip and swallows. "I…" He sighs a shaky sigh. Landry knows what guilt and shame look like in a man's eyes. He has to. And he sees it in Coach Taylor's now. "You're right," Coach says. "I shouldn't have pretended it wasn't happening because I was uncomfortable with it. I should have paid more attention. Maybe I could have prevented" - - he looks around the interrogation room - - "all this. Gracie's going to be heartbroken when she finds out this girl is a murderer. I'm sorry I can't tell you more."

Landry brings in Dr. Taylor next. He expects her to know more about the girl, and she does, though mainly because Molly is a student at Antioch.

"I can't believe she'd do this. I was beginning to suspect she was using Gracie to get to me, but I certainly didn't think her capable of murder."

"Using Gracie to get to you? What do you mean?"

"Molly was accused of cheating. We have an honor code. If you're found guilty, it's automatic expulsion. It's a really long process, the trial. When she first met Gracie, she was coming to see me to intercede for her. Since I'm Dean of the Faculty, my word would go a long way. Well, she befriended Gracie. And then they developed more than a friendship. But sometimes I got the sense…" She sighs. "I should have talked to Gracie more about it. I always tried to talk to Julie about Matt. But I just…" She shakes her head. Landry's a little surprised. The great Mrs. Taylor, falling down on the job? He'd expected Coach's discomfort, but not hers.

If Molly is not really a lesbian, and she was just using Gracie to get to Dr. Taylor, then she probably didn't kill Martin Haverty because he threatened Gracie. It wasn't a desire to protect and avenge her lover that drove Molly Johnson. But Landry can sort out motive later. "The night of the murder, did you ever leave your purse unattended?"

Dr. Taylor jerks her head up to meet her eyes. She understands his question perfectly. She has a chance to put the murder weapon squarely in Molly's hands, and clear her daughter once and for all. But she doesn't. She's truthful, and Landry can see how much it pains her to be truthful. "No. I never leave my gun unattended."

Landry sighs. "She must have used a different gun then. Yours is a probable match, but…ballistics isn't an exact science. You could find more than one gun that's a probable match. You could find THE gun and fail to get a match. It's extra evidence, but it's not…it's not like finding someone with a gun actually in her hand."

/FNL/

"Can I pick up my perp now?" Julie asks as Coach Taylor signs out from the station where he was held overnight. He smiles wryly at his daughter and then hugs and kisses her.

Gracie is released next. Her eyes are red from crying. Detective Wells told her about Molly Johnson, what she'd probably done, while she was trying to get more information that might convict the real murderer. Gracie didn't have much to tell her. Molly Johnson befriended her, and Gracie was enamored of the beautiful, bold, older girl. She misinterpreted Molly's friendship, apparently, and when Molly realized it, she played along. It was Gracie's first romantic encounter of that kind, and to find it had all been a lie had no doubt left her feeling overturned.

Her father takes her in his arms now, rests his chin on her head, and holds her for a long while. "It'll be a'right," he murmurs. "Forget her. They'll be someone…better. Forget her."

The Taylors all leave the station together, and Landry gets back to work. He orders a sweep of Haverty's apartment complex and all neighboring bodies of water in search of another gun. He tries to break Molly in the interrogation room, but fails. He and Detective Wells canvas the complex again, interview everyone on Haverty's football team, and interview Molly's classmates at Antioch.

"Guess what I discovered?" Detective Wells asks him as she plops down in her chair and wheels it to face his desk.

"The gun I hope."

"No, but it's good." She slides her chair forward and leans on his desk. "Molly Johnson was seeing Martin Haverty. He was her boyfriend. "

"Really now?"

Detective Wells nods.

"Then that sheds light on motive. Maybe she was jealous that he tried to have sex with Gracie."

"Maybe, but Haverty was clearly a player. Wouldn't she have killed him long before?"

"Maybe she didn't know. Or maybe this was the straw that broke the camel's back. Or maybe she was just pissed off that Haverty's little scheme might ruin her own scheme to get Dr. Taylor to intercede for her and prevent her expulsion from Antioch. Or maybe it was a lover's quarrel. There's enough potential motive."

"The motive is clearer for Gracie and Coach Taylor. The defense lawyer is going to have no trouble muddying the waters.

"Then we have to find the gun."

Gracie's girlfriend Molly Johnson is brought into the station. She's nineteen, two years older than Gracie, and no longer a minor, so no parents need be present. She's promised to cooperate - so far – and hasn't yet asked for a lawyer. As an officer leads her into the interview room, Detective Clarke and Detective Wells watch.

"You see that?" Landry says. ""About five foot four. Blonde hair. Looks to be around eighteen. That's what the guy said."

"We assumed Gracie. But it matches her description as well."

"She's a student at Antioch University," Landry says, "so maybe at some point she gained access to Dr. Taylor's gun."

"And snuck it out of her purse and snuck it back the same night? Without Dr. Taylor noticing? Highly unlikely," Detective Wells says. "Anyway, we should put her in a line up, along with Gracie, and bring in that guy from the apartment complex."

"You go and take care of the necessary paperwork." From the back - which is the only part of the girl the witness saw – Molly looks a bit like Gracie, but they have different hair styles and slightly different shades of hair. "Gracie could have given her the Hawkins High sweatshirt. I'll find out when I interview her." He watches Molly walk. The way she walks. It's not evidence. It's just instinct. But he knows she's criminal.

"You're doing the interview?" Detective Wells asks. "Because, if she's a lesbian, it might be better – "

"I'm doing the interview," Landry insists.

"Fine. But don't make her cry like you did that woman you had in there last week for the Monty case. She wasn't even a suspect."

"Well, usually it's the girls making me cry. So it's nice to be on the other end for a change."

[****]

He starts by establishing a rapport with Molly Johnson. He never puts the screw on right away, because that's actually the least effective method. First you have to make them think you feel their pain, that you can relate. He convinces her, that despite Coach Taylor's confession, Gracie is the prime suspect, and she will be tried as an adult, and likely imprisoned for life. He works on her guilt and tries to get her to confess. But Molly doesn't.

"You love her don't you?" Landry asks. "Too many people don't understand that kind of love. It can't be easy for you."

This doesn't have quite the effect he expects. She looks ashamed, but not "I'm letting my lover take the rap ashamed." What kind of shame is it? "The I don't want people to know I'm gay shame?" The "everyone thinks I love her but I don't" shame? The "I seduced a girl into her first lesbian relationship" shame? Whatever it is, it's not "I killed Martin Haverty" shame, which could mean one of two things – she didn't kill him, or she coolly premeditated the staged suicide that was foiled by Martin going for his .22.

"I know Gracie loves you. When I interviewed her," - they never interviewed Gracie, she's well lawyered up, but he can lie, and he does. " – She talked about how much she loved you, how she would do anything to protect you."

The girl smiles slightly. It's a very fake smile.

There's a rap on the door. One of the new recruits, a young, good-looking officer, sticks his head in and says, "Line up in five." Landry hasn't told Molly she's a suspect yet, or that she'll be in it. Landry nods, but he's not looking at the young, good-looking officer. He's looking at the way Molly's looking at him. And he's pretty damn sure she's not a lesbian.

Landry's at his desk, reviewing the report on the latest sweep of the Haverty apartment, and the latest re-print of the gun, both of which reveal nothing new, when he sees her. Julie. Long black skirt to her knees. One-inch heels. White blouse. Those hot, smart girl glasses. Every inch the magazine reporter. Assistant editor, now, Coach said.

She strides forward, sets her purse down on the floor by the chair opposite his desk, but she doesn't sit. Wordless, he gestures to the chair.

Julie shakes her head. She puts a hand down on the top of the desk. Her posture is like that of her mother. Not the occasionally reticent teen he once knew. Commanding. Unfaltering.

"Long time," Landry manages finally. "No – "

"- You are going to drop these charges against my father."

"I want to, Julie, I really want to, but he confessed, and until he's willing to admit who really did – "

"- My sister didn't do this either."

"Please," he says, and gestures to the chair, but she refuses to sit again, and so he stands up. "Julie, I'm so sorry."

She sighs. "I know you're just doing your job. And I know we haven't talked in years. But I need your help here."

"Not about that. I'm sorry about the baby. I'm so sorry."

She slides into the chair finally. He sits. "That was a long time ago Landry. I'm sorry it…I tried to call you, you know, a couple years ago."

"Yeah. Your Mom told me. What about Matt? Did he know you were trying to call?"

"He knew. He wanted to call you himself. But he was so ashamed that he blamed you for so long, and he thought you would never forgive him for not forgiving you sooner. He was afraid if he called at that point, you'd just tell him to go screw himself. So I was calling for him."

"For him? Does that mean you haven't forgiven me?"

"I've forgiven you Landry. Long ago. I just couldn't get in touch with you. And I'm sorry I held it against you. It was just an accident."

"I was driving too fast. I was showing off my new car."

She swallowed. "Yeah. Not that fast though. And you didn't mean any of it to happen."

He closes his eyes. Swallows. And then admits it - - "I blamed myself too."

"I hope you don't anymore."

He opens his eyes. "Guilt fades over time." He's not just talking about the unborn baby now. The justifiable homicide too. "The nightmares slow down at some point. You move on. So. Assistant Editor?"

She smiles, a little proudly. "Yeah. In five years, I'll be editor." Her smile fades. "Landry, you have to help us. You have to fix this."

"I'm trying. I swear to you, I'm trying."

She turns and looks behind herself. Hovering in the station entry doorway is Matt. She jerks her head toward Landry, and he makes his way slowly to the desk. He looks at his feet, not Landry. "Hey," he says.

"Hey," Landry says. He tries not to sound mad, because he is, a little. More mad at Matt than Julie. Matt wasn't in the car. Matt wasn't carrying the baby. And Matt's deserted him before, the first time, for Chicago, and then just shown up, like it was nothing. Matt's harder to forgive. But he wants these friendships again, because life…life's been kind of empty, if he's honest. "How's the art thing going?"

"Good. Got commissioned to do a sculpture here in Seattle, so, we'll be here a few weeks." Matt raises his eyes hesitantly. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry…it wasn't your fault. And I'm so sorry I let it…let myself…sorry."

Landry shrugs. "It's – "

" - Don't say it's okay," Matt says. "Because I know it's not."

"It's over," Landry said. "It's in the past."

Matt nods. He puts a hand on Julie's shoulder where she sits. "What can I do to help Coach Taylor?"

"Help me find Gracie's girlfriend. So I can question her and see if Gracie told her anything about this Haverty guy and who else he might have been threatening. Because no one in your family is talking."

Julie nods.

"You go out with one arrest warrant," Captain Erickson says, "and you come back with two perps. You want to tell me why that is?"

At the moment, Coach Taylor is sitting alone in one interview room, while Gracie and Tami Taylor sit another, and Landry is in the station room, being chewed out by his boss.

"We got a warrant for Gracie Taylor," Landry explains, "but when we went to pick her up, Coach Eric Taylor confessed. So we brought them both in."

"And which one did it?"

Landry puts a hand on one hip, above his holster. "The father is throwing himself under the bus for his daughter." He doesn't just say Gracie did it, because part of him is still holding out hope for a non-Taylor candidate, even though he felt compelled to serve the arrest warrant.

"Well break him then. We want the right one behind bars."

Landry nods and starts heading toward the interrogation room, but Detective Wells cuts him off. She must have gone to her locker and changed, because she looks like she just stepped off a photo shoot for Maxim.

"Uh…that's not gonna work on Coach Taylor."

"Why not?" she asks. "It's working on you."

Landry takes a steadying breath. "Yeah, it's got me speechless. Not the effect we're going for. We need him to talk. To admit he didn't do this. You and I both know he didn't."

"And that Gracie Taylor did," she says.

"Part of me still doesn't know that," Landry says.

"You know it, Landry. There's a mountain of evidence. Means. Motive. Opportunity. We have the gun."

"We might have the gun," he says.

"We probably have the gun," she counters. "Look, you could explain away any one thing. But you can't explain it all away. You know that. That's why you went to arrest her. Now we just have to get Coach Taylor to admit it was his daughter and not him."

"Gracie's fingerprints weren't in Haverty's apartment anywhere," Landry says.

"Well you don't always find fingerprints. And maybe she didn't touch anything but the gun. Now I'm going to interview this man and get him to admit Gracie Taylor did it."

Landry looks at her outfit one more time and shakes his head.

"Trust me," she says, "I know men." She strides past him and throws open the door to the interview room.

Five minutes late she comes out. "Fine. You were right. Your turn."

[***]

Landry slides into the metal chair across from the metal chair where Coach Taylor sits. Coach has his hand around a paper cup of coffee, but he hasn't taken a sip of it. It must be cold by now. His jaw is that I'm-trying-not-to-belt-the-ref tight. "I've got nothing to say," he mutters through his clenched teeth. He points to the legal pad on the table. "I wrote up my confession and signed it. Now are we done?"

Landry turns the legal pad toward himself and reads the confession. "The problem is, Coach, that your fingerprints are nowhere on the gun."

"Like I told your partner, I wore gloves. What was with that detective's outfit, anyway? Did the Seattle police get bought out by Hugh Hefner?"

Landry chuckles. "She thought it would make you talk."

"Make my mind go blank more like."

This is good, Landry thinks. He's talking. He just needs to banter and maybe Coach will open up. "She's is gorgeous though. Too bad she's married. Guess I don't stand a chance. Even if I am a ladies' man."

Coach Taylor snickers. "Yeah. Sure. You always were." Then his mouth grows into a grim line again. "Are we done here? I'm not saying anything else."

"Coach, my partner thinks Gracie did this. And you think Gracie did this."

Coach Taylor looks into a corner of the room. "No," he says. "No, she wouldn't do this."

"How do you know?"

"Because I'm her father."

Landry nods. "Because you're her father. Not because you did it."

"That's not what I meant. I meant I know she couldn't have because I did." Coach points to the pad again. "It's all there. The mother heard me at the apartment, threatening to kill him. I had motive. There's no reason to believe I didn't do it."

"Oh there's plenty of reason to believe you didn't. And you know it. You know all of the evidence points to Gracie."

"My daughter did not do this."

"But you're aware that all the evidence points that way, and because it does, there's a strong chance she'll get convicted. So you're taking the fall for her."

Coach closes his eyes. "No. I'm not taking the fall for anyone." He opens his eyes and stares straight at Landry. "I said I did it because I did it. Now I want my lawyer."

Landry sighs. Coach has said the magic words. And he's pretty sure Dr. Taylor has said them on Gracie's behalf. The interviews are over.

"Cruci, get off of that!" Landry yells. The guitar is lying down on his living room floor, and the cat has made a bed of it. It leaps up and meows and winks its one blue eye. The brown eye stays open.

Landry picks up the guitar, settles on the couch, and begins strumming. He hasn't played an electric guitar in years. This is an old acoustic, but it helps him think. Sherlock had his violin after all. He racks his brain for other suspects - - someone other than Dr. Taylor or Gracie Taylor. Someone he doesn't know personally. Someone with whom he has no history. Anyone.

Ian Thomas, drug deal extraordinaire, perhaps? After all, Haverty knew about his business. Maybe he was trying to extort a share of the profits. But how could Thomas have gained access to Dr. Taylor's gun, and how would he have managed to put it back?

Landry sighs, puts down his guitar, and heads to his kitchenette. He microwaves a frozen burrito. Seattle's supposed to be a great city for singles, but he hasn't had a date in a month. The last woman he hooked up with was gone in the morning, and he tried calling her, only to find the number she'd given him was out of order. He supposed he could have put on his Sherlock cap and tracked her down anyway, but what would be the point? He honestly wasn't all that into her. It just got lonely sometimes.

He fished in the pocket of his pants and pulled out the cards Dr. Taylor had given him. Julie Saracen, Assistant Editor of City Limits Magazine. And Matt Saracen, "Independent Artist." As opposed to what? A dependent artist? What did that mean? No patron? He'd have ribbed Matt about it, years ago, and not felt an ounce of guilt.

He looks at the cell phone he's left on the kitchen counter, and then at his wallet. He opens his wallet and shoves the business cards inside.

They need to canvas Haverty's apartment complex again. They must have missed something. Something that will clear both Dr. and Gracie Taylor. Maybe they missed a witness. Not everyone is always home when you start asking questions.

[****]

"Ballistic fingerprinting is far from an exact science," Landry tells his partner as they drive back to Haverty's apartment complex. "When you say a probable match, how probable is probable?"

"Probable. Not perfect. But probable."

"Possible, you mean?"

"No," she says deliberately, "I mean probable."

"Probable alone won't hold up in court."

"No, it won't, but we don't have probable alone, Detective Clarke. We have means, opportunity – and most importantly - motive. You know most murder convictions are made on circumstantial evidence alone. And we have a preponderance of evidence here. It's just a matter of figuring out which one did it – Dr. Taylor or Gracie Taylor."

He pulls along a city curb, next to a no parking sign. "I've sent Officer Park to check out Dr. Taylor's alibi." She claims to have been working that night at her office in Antioch University until eleven. She also claims she had her gun with her in her purse the entire time. Dr. Taylor explained away Gracie's fingerprints on the gun. "I've let Gracie use it, of course. If we're going to have a gun in the house, she needs to know gun safety. I've taken her to the range. You can ask there. They've seen her there." That was the only information she would offer up before invoking her right to remain silent.

According to witnesses who heard the shot, the murder occurred around 10:15 PM. So if someone can verify that Dr. Taylor was in her office at that time, she'll be cleared. Of course, there's no way of verifying that she had her gun in her possession. Gracie claimed to be home that night, and Coach Taylor claimed that his daughter was already home and in her room studying when he got back from Haverty's around 10:20 PM, but of course he would say that.

Once in Haverty's apartment building, they start knocking on doors. When they're five doors down, Landry gets a call from the station. "Witnesses have seen Gracie at the range practicing with Dr. Taylor," Landry tells Detective Wells, "so that's the reason for her fingerprints on the gun. And Dr. Taylor's Antioch alibi also checks out. As I told you it would. The assistant dean of the faculty came in around ten and saw her there. Working."

The door opens, and Detective Wells flashes her badge to the man standing there. He wasn't home the first time she canvassed the complex. She starts asking questions, and he tells her that the night of the shooting, he left his apartment at ten o'clock to head to the airport and catch a red-eye to the East Coast.

"Fifteen minutes after Coach Taylor claims to have left," Detective Wells says in a low voice to Landry. Then, to the man, "Did you see anyone entering or exiting that apartment?" She points to the door another six apartments down, which is still covered with police tape.

"Yeah. I saw a girl. Just from the back. I didn't see her face. She was about five foot four, I guess. Short blonde hair. Looked to be seventeen or eighteen maybe."

"Gracie Taylor," Detective Wells says.

"No," Landry insists.

"Detective. Gracie is seventeen. She's five foot five. And she has blonde hair."

"What was the girl wearing?"

"A red and white sweatshirt," the man says.

Detective Wells looks right at Landry. "Hawkins High colors."

Landry closes his eyes and wills it not to be true.

[****]

It takes half the day to get the arrest warrant. Detective Clarke drives slowly up the steep hill, jerks on the parking break at the curb outside the Taylor house, turns off the engine, inhales, and exhales.

"Do you want me to serve it alone?" Detective Wells asks.

"No," he says. "This is my job. I have to be objective." He throws open the door.

The doorbell sounds like a gong when he rings it. It's so quiet in this neighborhood. He can hear the birds chirping. He can hear himself breathing.

Coach Taylor answers the door. "Unless you have a warrant – "

Detective Wells holds up the warrant. Coach Taylor takes it and begins reading. Dr. Taylor comes into the doorway behind him, puts an arm around his waist, and bends her head to read it too. "What's this? What does this mean?" she asks.

"Is Gracie here, Coach Taylor?" Landry asks.

Coach looks up. There's rage in his eyes. Landry's seen that look before. Seen it when a ref made a foul call. Seen it when he threw another coach against the lockers. But it's never been this fierce. Never so much fire. "No," he says. "She's – "

"Dad," comes a soft voice from behind the Taylor's. Coach Taylor slowly closes his eyes.

Dr. Taylor steps back. "Oh, Gracie," she says, "Oh, sweetie."

"What's going on, Mom?"

She's a stunning young lady, Gracie Taylor. Dictionary definition of a lipstick lesbian, Landry thinks. Of course, he wouldn't have thought to think it if Coach hadn't told him. She's seventeen, Gracie. Young. A child, still, in a way.

"Gracie Taylor," Detective Wells says. "You're under arrest for – "

"- I did it." Coach Taylor steps in front of his daughter. "I did it. I went to Haverty's at 9:30, like I told you. I took Dr. Taylor's gun with me. I told him to stay away from my daughter. He told me he wouldn't, that he was going to have her one way or the other. So I waited until I thought no one was in the hall. And then I shot him. And then I left. I did it."

"Dad, what are you – "

"Shush!" he commands his daughter. "Just….don't say anything, Gracie."

"Eric –" Tami reaches for him. "Eric – "

"Tami, don't say anything." He kisses her. He whispers something in her ear. She clings to him. He pulls away and steps down onto the stoop. "I did it," he repeats. "I'm going willingly. I'm not resisting. You don't need handcuffs."

Detective Wells looks at Landry. "No," Landry says, "No handcuffs." He steps down the stairs and gestures to the car.

Coach Taylor walks to it and opens the back door for himself. He glances back and Dr. Taylor, whose face is set in a firm mask, and Gracie, who's crying and asking her mother, "What's going on? Mom, what's going on?"

"I love you," Coach Taylor says. "I love you both so much." And then he slides in to the back seat, shuts the door, and stares straight ahead.

Coach Merriweather jumps when Landry says her name. She's just unlocking the door of her fifth-story Seattle apartment. "What, are you trailing me now?" she asks. "Where did you come from?"

"I took the stairs. Can I talk to you for a minute?"

"Not without my lawyer," she says, turning the key.

"I'm not going to arrest your for buying a little pot."

She looks startled.

"I do homicide. I don't care about that. Does Dr. Taylor have cancer?"

Jess opens the door but doesn't go inside yet. "Yeah. Breast cancer. She was diagnosed early last year. She's been doing chemo, though, and it went into remission last month. It looks like she's going to pull through. Why do you ask?"

"Is that what Martin Haverty knew? That Coach Taylor was buying pot from Ian Thomas to help her through the chemo?"

Jess swallows.

"Jess, I'm trying to clear the man. I won't be pressing any charges for anything short of murder."

"I have to go inside." She steps in, turns, and starts to close the door.

"How's your Dad? He's sick, isn't he?"

"I guess you've been checking up on me."

"What is it? Cancer?"

"AIDS."

Landry blinks. "How did he…." He shakes his head. "Never mind. It's not my business."

"Damn right. He's in a hospice now, outside Seattle, in Kirkland. He doesn't have long."

"I'm so sorry, Jess." He reaches out. It's instinct. He wants to hug her, even though Jess has never been the kind to crumble. Why does he always fall for girls like this? The hard ones? Why can he find himself a nice, fragile flower that just wants to cling to him?

She steps back. "I have to go."

"So Martin Haverty did know about you buying pot from Ian Thomas, to help your father, and he was using that to get you to get Coach Taylor to keep him on the team. But Coach knew you were buying it, because you told him about it so he could get some for Dr. Taylor. And then Haverty saw Coach Taylor buying, and said he'd tell if Coach didn't keep him on the team. Am I right? Jess, please, I'm trying to clear the Taylors. "

"You're not wrong. Neither Coach or I is buying pot anymore. And don't come down hard on Ian Thomas either. He hasn't been offered a football scholarship, even though he deserves one. He's just trying to save for college. He's not luring elementary school children or anything like that."

"Like I said, I'm not interested in the pot. I'm only interested in motives."

She nods and starts to close the door. He steps back and turns and heads for the elevator.

[******]

Landry is just lifting the phone from his desk and calling the number Dr. Taylor gave him for Julie when Detective Wells tosses a file on his folder. He puts down the receiver.

"Neither Dr. Taylor nor Coach Taylor wrote the suicide note," Detective Wells says. She's drawn her own swivel chair up to his desk, which is behind hers in the open station room.

"I told you they didn't do it. Now we just have to figure out who did," Landry says.

"Well, here's the thing. Martin Haverty wrote it. It's a perfect match."

"But he didn't commit suicide. Maybe he could have somehow managed to shoot himself from that weird position…" Landry reaches behind his head like he's holding a gun, "but the gun on the ground didn't match the bullet in his head."

She shrugs. The suicide note had said only – I'm ashamed of who I've become. The world would be better off without me. "Someone probably made him write it at gun point. As part of the cover up. And he probably did it to buy time."

"But if the murderer had the presence of mind to stage the suicide by forcing him write the note, why shoot at an unlikely angle in the back of the head? And more importantly, why leave the wrong gun?" Landry drums his fingers on the desk. "Maybe it wasn't some idiot. Maybe the perp had a plan, but a monkey wrench got thrown in when Haverty went for his .22, and the perp ended up having to shoot Martin in the back of the head."

"Quite possibly," Detective Wells says. "And then the perp heard – or thought he heard - someone coming down the apartment hall and didn't have a chance to switch guns and pose the scene and just took off running. Two people did hear the shot. And one went outside to investigate, and saw the door to the stairwell slamming shut, but she didn't see anyone."

"There were no fingerprints at the scene," Landry says, "other than Martin Haverty's and his mom's and Coach Taylor's on the door. So whoever did it probably wore gloves."

"We also got the ballistics back on Dr. Taylor's gun. You're not going to want to hear this."

Landry leans back in his chair and swallows.

"The ballistic fingerprint on the bullet in Martin Haverty's head is a probable match for Dr. Taylor's gun."

Landry grits his teeth.

"We also ran fingerprints on the gun." The entire Taylor household – Coach Taylor, Dr. Taylor, and Gracie Taylor - had been brought down to the station that morning, and all had been fingerprinted, but none of them spoke during the questioning, at the behest of the family lawyer, and they were released after only a few minutes. "Coach Taylor's fingerprints weren't on the gun. He told the truth when he said he's never used it. Dr. Taylor's were on the gun of course. But so were Gracie Taylor's."

Landry lowers his head and buries his hands in it. Guess there's no point in calling up Julie now. First he accidentally kills her baby. And now he's going to have to arrest either her mother or her sister.

Thomas is a last name. Landry gets Ian Thomas's information from the principal and goes to interview the kid at home. He's a minor, and a parent has to be present during the interview, and Mom tells son not to say anything. She's not protecting Coach Taylor, Landry doesn't think, but her son, who's obviously involved in something. Landry calls it a loss and heads back to the office.

Detective Wells is waiting for him the conference room. They exchange notes. She tells him that Dr. Taylor lawyered up the second she set foot on the Antioch campus. "But I did get this," she says, holding up a crinkled piece of paper. "I pulled it from her trash can when she wasn't looking. We can run handwriting analysis on it and compare it to the suicide note."

Landry reaches into the pocket of his rain coat and pulls out a similarly crinkled paper, covered with notes and play diagrams.

"Great minds think alike," she says.

"And apparently, so do we."

Detective Wells doesn't laugh.

There's some question as to whether or not this sort of garbage rummaging will hold up in court. Some courts have ruled you need a warrant, and others let it slide, but Landry is not too concerned in this case, since he only means to clear the Taylors. Besides, they can probably get a warrant for handwriting samples later and re-run the test if they need it.

"Did you get the warrant for Dr. Taylor's gun?" he asks his new partner.

"Should be here in an hour," she answers, "and we can serve it together."

After they've sent the handwriting down to the lab, and the squints are hard at work comparing all the samples, including Martin Haverty's, and the search warrant arrives, Detective Clarke and Detective Wells show up at the Taylors' front door.

The house is at the top of a steep hill in the city of Seattle, in an area with a suburban feel. Dr. Taylor answers the door. She's wearing reading glasses, and her hair is not the color Landry remembered it being, but she still looks surprisingly beautiful for a woman twice his age. "Hello, Landry," she says. "I've been expecting you. Do you have a warrant?"

He hands her the warrant, and she reads it over. Coach Taylor is now standing right behind her, his arms crossed over his chest, palms flat on his shoulders.

"Don't suppose you'll let me talk to Gracie?" Landry asks. She's only seventeen, still a minor, so he can't do it without a parent present.

"No," Coach Taylor answers. "Not without both of us and the family lawyer there, and he's going to advise her to say nothing."

"You have a family lawyer? Like, on staff? "

"Between the coaching politics and the academic politics," Dr. Taylor says, "we've had our share of liability and contract concerns over the years. So, yes, we finally have a family lawyer. We should have had one years ago. This search warrant is only for the gun. I'll get it for you. Don't go rummaging around."

Detective Wells steps in and shuts the door behind herself. "Just show me where it is," she says. She isn't dressed like a street walker this afternoon. Landry's partner is actually wearing a pants suit, of all things. "I don't want you touching it."

Dr. Taylor leads them to the living room. The place is nice. Much nicer than the house they had in Dillon or even Philadelphia. Landry saw pictures of that one, back when he was still friends with Matt and Julie. Dr. Taylor points to her purse, which is on the end table. "It's in there," she says. "I didn't shoot anyone with it, so go ahead and clear me."

Detective Wells snaps on her gloves, takes out the gun, and puts it in an evidence bag.

When they're leaving, Dr. Taylor says, "You know, Landry, Julie tried to call you a couple years back, but your number was out of order, and she couldn't find a new one for you."

"Really?" he says with some surprise. He'd given up, after those first two years. "And did she have Matt's blessing to call?"

Dr. Taylor takes off her glasses and hangs them on the neckline of her blouse. "They had a hard time getting past it, Landry. It was her third miscarriage. And she was six months pregnant. It's a baby by then, Landry. It was hard on her and Matt. Really hard. They felt like it was their last chance, and maybe it was."

"And Matt blamed me, because I was at the wheel, because if I had hadn't been driving so fast - "

"- It wasn't your fault. You couldn't have foreseen that deer jumping out of nowhere. It was an accident. Matt knows that. But we all have our own way of grieving. You should call him. When this is…" She waves at the bagged gun. "All past us. As I hope it will be. Very soon."

He nods. She goes into her purse and pulls out two business cards. Julie's and Matt's. She hands them to Landry. "Call them."

Now Coach Taylor is behind Dr. Taylor, his hand on her shoulder. "Go lie down, babe," he says. "I'll take care of dinner. You need to rest."

Being a murder suspect can be draining, Landry supposes. When they're in the car, Landry says, "She used to be strawberry blonde. Now she's a brunette. I wonder why."

"Maybe Coach Taylor likes brunettes," Detective Wells replies. "Maybe they're mixing it up. I mean, that's what I do. I make my husband shave and grow a beard every two years. It's like getting to have sex with two different men. Which is as close as I'll ever come."

Was that why Coach Taylor had a beard now? "Wait. You're married?"

"Sure."

"Since when?" Landry asks, glancing at her. She's only been a detective for a few weeks, and he didn't know her before, but he just assumed she wasn't married. She's never mentioned husband, and she doesn't have a wedding ring.

"Since I got married ten years ago."

"Ten years? But you don't have a wedding ring. And ten years ago you would have been like 16."

"I'm 35. And I don't wear a wedding ring because it makes it harder to get the information I need from my male interviewees. That's also why I dress the way I do, sometimes, when we're in the field. You'd be amazed what they tell me. But I thought the pants suit would be more appropriate for Dr. Taylor, since you'd already interviewed her husband. Not that I got anything out of her."

"I had no idea. I just assumed you were - "

" - Unprofessional?"

He smiles. That's kind of clever of her, actually. Clever and naughty. "I still don't see why she'd dye her hair a different color."

"I don't think she dyed it. I think it's a wig."

"A wig? Why would she wear a wig?" Landry pounds the steering wheel. "POT!"

"What?"

"The Washington state legislature made marijuana illegal again two years ago. They instituted legal penalties even for mere possession."

"Yeah? So? Sometimes the puritans win in the legislature. What's that got to do with anything?"

"Coach Taylor was buying pot from Ian Thomas. For his wife. For the nausea. She must have cancer. I bet she's getting chemo. That's why she's losing her hair and has to wear the wig. That's why O'Connor thought she shouldn't work, because she's sick, but she needs to work, because she's…she's wonder woman."

"What are you talking about? Wonder woman?"

"And it makes her feel better. To keep working. Poor woman." He shakes his head. He wonders how Julie took it, when they told her. Or Matt, for that matter, who must love Julie's mom like his own mother by now.

"Well, it would certainly explain your conversation with Coach O'Connor. He and Martin Haverty walked in on Coach Taylor buying pot from Ian Thomas, and Haverty threatened to tell if Coach Taylor cut him from the team."

Landry nods. "We still don't know what Jess Meriwether was being blackmailed for. And who else he might have been trying to blackmail."

"Does Jess Meriwether have any elderly relatives?"

"She has a Dad. I don't even know if he's still alive."

"Well, you oughtta check. Maybe he has cancer too, or some other disease that might benefit from a little toke," Detective Wells says. "Maybe Haverty saw her buying pot first, then tried to blackmail her by threatening to tell Coach Taylor. Except Coach Taylor already knew, because he was using the same supplier. Maybe Jess told him about Ian Thomas's business to begin with."

"Makes perfect sense," Landry says. "And they wouldn't want to tell me, because it's illegal. Not that a homicide detective would bother with that, but…" He nods. "Now we've just got to run the ballistics, prove this wasn't the gun that killed Haverty, and find out who did."

Detective Wells takes off her sunglasses and looks directly at him. "Look, I realize you know these people from some alternate universe you used to live in, but don't rule any of them out just yet. They all have motive. And then there's the gun."

"The ballistics won't match," Landry says confidently. "There's no way."

Detective Landry Clarke calls Coach Taylor back in to his own office and tries to ask him about Martin Haverty's blackmail of Jess, but at this point Coach probably thinks Landry suspects Dr. Taylor, and he refuses to answer any more questions.

Landry could drag both Coach Taylor and Jess down to the station, but he knows they'll just lawyer up and not say a word, so there's doesn't seem any point at the moment. He doesn't want to arrest anyone. There's enough suspicion to go around, and yet he doesn't believe Coach Taylor, Jess, or Dr. Taylor could have done this.

He asks Coach Taylor to send in his other assistant, and while he's waiting for Coach Taylor to get the guy, he puts in a private call to his partner Detective Wells and tells her to apply for a warrant for Dr. Taylor's gun. "But don't talk to her yet. I know her. Let me talk to her. I'll go over to Antioch University as soon as I'm finished here. Just get the warrant for the gun. We can issue it after I've talked to her. Not before."

"Shouldn't I go talk to her right now, while you're there, before her husband sees you leave and calls her and tells her not to talk to you?"

"Uh…yeah. Good thinking."

"Good, because I'm on my way. And while I'm driving to Antioch, I'll call Judge Donald. He owes me one."

"I'm not going to ask what for," Landry says.

"Is that a sexual innuendo?"

"No, ma'am."

Coach O'Connor comes in and whisks off his red hat. "I've got nothing to say," he says. Clearly Coach Taylor has warned him to shut up. Landry tries to get him to talk anyway. After all, O'Connor hasn't yet said the words I want a lawyer. He warns O'Connor that he's going to make himself look even more suspicious.

O'Connor keeps looking back at the closed door of the office.

"Coach Taylor is under suspicion here, Coach, not you."

Coach O'Connor swallows.

"So if he's trying to spare anyone by telling you not to talk, it's himself, not you. You'll come out smelling like roses if you're honest with me." He motions to the chair, and O'Connor takes it.

"Coach Taylor couldn't have done this, Detective Clarke," he says. So Coach Taylor's clearly told him about the murder, and that he's a suspect, and that O'Connor should shut the hell up.

"I don't think he did," Landry assures him. "So tell me anything you think that might clear him. Did Martin Haverty have any enemies? He apparently has a reputation for blackmail. Do you know anyone else he was blackmailing?"

"Besides Coach Taylor?"

He doesn't say Gracie. He doesn't say Jess. He says Coach Taylor. He couldn't be talking about the blackmail of Gracie, because Coach Taylor just found out yesterday, and there's no way he would have told O'Connor when he doesn't want it known that his daughter is a lesbian.

Maybe Coach had another reason not to cut Martin from the team. A less benevolent reason than either turning him around or protecting Jess. Maybe, when Martin's plan with Jess failed, he dug up some dirt on Coach Taylor instead. Something personal.

"Yeah," Landry says, " I already know he was blackmailing Coach Taylor for – " He stops, hoping Coach O'Connor will complete his sentence, but he doesn't. That would have been too easy. "For the…incident. But how did you know about it?"

"I was with Martin. I'd been working with him. We stopped early and went back to the office to ask Coach Taylor about a play, and we both walked in on them together."

Walked in on them together? Was Coach Taylor having an affair? With some teacher at the school? That seemed even more unbelievable to Landry than murder. But he couldn't give away that he didn't know the full story until he knew the full story.

"You just…walked in. So you saw it too. That must have been embarrassing, huh?"

"I guess."

"I mean, seeing them like that," Landry says.

"I guess."

"But you weren't going to tell anyone about it," Landry says. "Martin might, but you weren't."

"Nah. I wasn't going to tell anyone. Coach could lose his job." Not to mention his wife, Landry thought. "I'd hate that. He's the best coach this team's ever had. He's taught me a lot."

"He could lose his job because…" Landry ventures, "of the rules against it?" There are rules against teachers fraternizing, right?

"Well, yeah, of course. And Thomas would have been kicked off the team, and definitely suspended, and he'd of had a juvie record."

This is sounding less and less like adultery, and more and more like a criminal exchange. And is Thomas a first name or a last name? He can't ask, because he's supposed to know. But he can check the team roster later, assuming O'Connor is talking about a player. And then maybe he can interview this kid, if Coach doesn't call the whole team together and give them a little lawyer-up-lads pep talk first. "Yeah, and you didn't want that to happen?"

"Nah, Thomas is the best quarterback this team's ever had."

Well that ought to narrow the roster down. "Sure," Landry says. "So I guess that's why Coach kept Martin Haverty on the team. So he wouldn't reveal the criminal activity you two saw him and Thomas involved in."

"I guess. You aren't going to prosecute Coach Taylor for that, are you? I mean, he loves that woman. He'd do anything for her."

"Uh…yes…I know he loves his…wife." From O'Connor's face, Landry concludes wife was the right choice of word there. There's no other woman for that man. But what criminal thing was Coach Eric Taylor doing for Dr. Tami Taylor? Was she in some kind of trouble? "Especially given her…problem."

"Yeah," O'Connor says. And shakes his head. "Horrible thing to happen to such a beautiful, intelligent woman. But she's still working. She needs to."

Needs to? For the money? Is she in debt? Loan sharks? And with Coach Taylor only working "part-time" now, maybe they're desperate for cash. Was Coach Taylor doing something to get more money? Illegal betting on the games, maybe? "Yeah. You wonder how a smart lady like her manages to get into so much debt, right?"

"What?"

Shit. Wrong guess.

Landry tries, but after his misstep, he doesn't get any more useful information out of Coach O'Connor, who says he won't say another word without a lawyer.

The lockeroom is empty by the time Detective Clarke comes out of the office, and he goes out the back entrance. Coach Taylor and Coach Meriwether are standing there, against the brick wall, Coach Taylor's head bent to Jess's. They stop talking as soon as they see him. Coach Taylor's face goes hard and blank, like Matt's did, five years ago when he came running into that Houston ER - - that week they were visiting Landry because of Matt's art show - - and Landry stood up from his seat in the waiting room, and said, "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. It just came out of nowhere. I didn't see it. I'm so sorry."

Landry guesses he isn't going to find Thomas here on the field or in the locker room, and he doesn't want to let on to Coach Taylor that he knows anything, so he just nods to the coaches and heads for the principal's office.

"You look…" Landry shakes his head. "Exactly the same."

Only, more like a woman. She's wearing red and white running pants and a matching shirt. The Seahawks' colors. She's got a cap on, but her hair's not in a ponytail. It's long, curly, like she's gotten it permed, and its spilling out over her shoulders. It's beautiful. And she's still Coach Meriwether. Not Coach Howard. Or Coach Somebody Else.

"Not you," she says. "When did you start dying your hair?"

"I didn't. I don't. It just…got that way." It's browning a little. Not at the roots. "How'd you end up an assistant coach for the Hawkins Seahawks?"

"I knew the head coach," she says, smirking.

Landry tilts his head. Back and forth. "Well, yeah, obviously. So you just called him up? Said, hire me?"

"Actually, I worked with him at Pemberton for a year first. He convinced me to move out here with him, and, since I had a boyfriend in Oregon – "

"- Oregon? How do you go about getting a boyfriend in Oregon?"

"Through the usual channels. Mail order catalog, you know."

He snort-laughs. "So internet dating service, then?"

Like he's one to talk. He tried it two years ago. LoveFit. They matched him up with this chick – seven points of commonality, they said. She sounded kind of sexy and funny when they chatted online. He told her he "worked for the government." She didn't send her picture, and her first name was common enough that he didn't think anything of it. But when he showed up to meet her at the restaurant, it was a woman he'd just interrogated a week ago. He had her in the room with the glass and everything. Broke her down into tears. She wasn't the suspect, but she knew the suspect. She took one look at him as he approached the table, stood, and ran. He didn't chase her.

"I met him at a football game. But I didn't really move for him, and we aren't together anymore. I moved for Coach."

"He makes sure you get paid enough as an assistant coach to live here?"

"I have another job. So. You're a detective in Seattle, and you want to talk to me? Am I allowed to ask why?"

"Let's sit." Landry takes Coach's chair. She takes what he guesses is her chair when she's conferring with Coach. He pulls out his pad and puts the pen point to it. "Martin Haverty is dead. He was murdered."

"Pity."

He looks up. "Strange response. Not a fan?"

"That kid is bad news."

He notices she says kid is bad news, not was bad news. If she'd known of his death early, she might have had more time to process it and default into talking about him in the past tense. She probably also would have had time to come up with a better response than "pity." This is likely the first time she's learning of it.

"I thought he used to be bad news," Landry said, "but Coach Taylor pulled a Vince Howard on him. Turned him around. Inspired him not to join a gang."

"Oh, he never joined the gang, but that doesn't mean he didn't have his own way of scamming."

"He ever try to scam you?" She looks away. "Jess, I'm a detective. This is my job. And if you want to make sure you don't end up on the suspect list, especially after that little pity comment, then the best thing for you to do is to be honest with me. Because if you clam up…" He shakes his head. "That sends you right to the top of my radar."

She puts her arms on the chair and levels her gaze at him. The Jess-is-ticked gaze. "At the end of last season, Coach Taylor decided to cut him from the team for reasons of character."

"What reasons?"

"He kept coming on to other player's girlfriends. It was causing a problem on the team. So Coach called him into his office and told him he was off the team. Martin came to me and said I had to talk Coach Taylor into keeping him. Coach listens to me. He trusts me. So Martin thought if I pulled some strings, he could stay on. I refused. He said if I didn't pull strings with Coach, he'd tell."

"Tell what?"

"That's personal. But he had some information on me."

"That you're gay?"

"What?" She laughs. "You think I'm gay? You think maybe you turned me?"

Landry shakes his head. "No…I just…. What was it then?"

"None of your damn business is what it was. It was something he thought I didn't want Coach to know. But Coach already knew, and he wasn't about to fire me over it."

"What's your other job?" Maybe she's working for an escort service. Or at a strip club. He smiles at the idea. Not Jess. No way. But it would be something to blackmail her for.

"Hawkins High Athletic Director."

"Then what's Coach Taylor's title?" Landry knows they have to give Coach some half fake job if he's going to get paid enough. A stipend alone won't cut it. But he also needs a job that doesn't require him to put in a lot of hours. At Dillon he was a "full-time teacher." Yet he only had two classes – - health classes in which he showed videos all semester long while he read the Sports section and occasionally barked at his students to quiet down. At East Dillon, he had to actually do a little something on occasion as Athletic Director, and they also made him teach at least one real class. History. Landry wasn't in it, but he knew about it, because whenever Coach Taylor thought a player was wasting his time, he told the kid, "I can't be here all day. I have papers to grade and a wife to love." Yeah, we know, Tinker would mutter so as Coach couldn't hear him. We all know you have a hot wife. You don't have to brag about it every damn chance you get.

"Coach," she says. "His title is Coach. He's part-time now. Just the coaching. And Athletic Director isn't a fake title, if that's what you think. I'm in charge of all the athletic programs here, girls and boys. There's a lot of administrative work involved."

Enough of the small talk. Landry has to get back to business. "Did Coach Taylor know Martin Haverty was trying to blackmail you?"

"He knew. I told him. "

"So why didn't Coach cut Haverty after all? To protect you? To keep the information from getting out?"

Jess doesn't answer.

"It must have been to protect you. Why else would he have refused to cut him?"

"Maybe he just wanted another chance to turn him around."

"And did he turn him around?" Landry asks, even though he already knows the answer.

"I think that kid only turns one way."

"Like a bad penny."

Jess shakes her head. "So are you into horrible hard boiled metaphors now that you're a detective?"

He chuckles. "Uh…you always did have a deep, abiding respect for me."

"I respected you, Landry."

"Yeah. Not so much as you respected Vince though. I guess I was on the wrong side of the law."

Jess rolls her eyes.

Of course, Landry's one to talk. There was that small matter of that man he'd killed. Justifiable homicide. The incident came up again when he first interviewed for police work. Just because you've been cleared and your record sealed doesn't mean you get to lie on the pre-employment lie detector test.

Landry has often wondered why that rapist wasn't caught sooner. Why he'd of gone on raping and trying to rape if Landry hadn't killed him. Because if he had been caught earlier, that would have spared not only Tyra, but Landry. Of course, if it weren't for the bonding over the body, he's not sure Tyra ever would have been his girlfriend. But the attempted rape of a someone you already love and a black mark on your conscience that keeps you up at night and still haunts your dreams is probably not equal in value to the chance to screw a girl who is just going to break your heart when it's all over. I mean, Jess got to break his heart without any of that wholly unnecessary build-up.

On the other hand, if it weren't for that whole experience with the rapist, he probably never would have thought to enter law enforcement like his old man. Imagine what his life would be like, if he hadn't had a cop to read the situation right, to step up for him, to make sure he wasn't ruined. The way he's trying to read the situation now, to make sure no one goes to jail, or even loses a job, if they don't deserve to.

"So what did you do?" Landry asks, studying her face. "What was Martin blackmailing you with?"

"I told you. None of your damn business."

"Jess, I'm a detective, and – "

"- You can ask me through my lawyer then." She stands up. "I plead the fifth." She lets the door slam behind herself.

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