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In which the team makes the acquaintance of some colorful characters.



April 16, 1987

The funeral was yesterday. I couldn't write about it then. There isn't much to say. It was a relatively small ceremony, considering who he was, and quickly over. It was a pleasant day, a little chilly. Lucky wore a black suit—pants, of course. I dug out my good black dress and had it cleaned; it felt weird to be wearing normal clothes. Promethean's costume stood out, but didn't really seem out of place, and Scott was just there, and quiet. I'm not sure what his view of death might be.
    Today we met Lieutenant Detective Jessica Winters. I wasn't sure what to expect of her, but she seems to know what she's doing, to say the very least, and she's been tactful with Lucky, which is more than I hoped for, so maybe things will work out all right. She called this morning from the dock and asked for a ride out. I took the boat over.
    "Detective Winters?"
    "Yes. You're Needle?"
    "That's me."
    "Do you prefer to be called Sasha, Ms. Banks, or Needle?"
    I hesitated. "Call me Needle."
    "A pleasure to meet you." She stepped into the boat confidently, a tall, broad-shouldered woman with a good handshake. Her outfit was almost business-formal, although the car parked on the dock was well-used and a little rusty.
    "Same here."
    She smiled a little. "I'm sure you've all been wondering about me, I hope everything will work out well."
    "So do I."
    "You and Reilly were friends? Are, rather," she amended quickly; I wasn't sure how to take that, suddenly wondered how well he and Jessica knew each other.
    "Sort of." Nor was I entirely sure how to characterize our relationship at the moment.
    "How's the mood at the base?"
    "A little subdued, what with Ellis. It's been pretty quiet these past few days."
    As we entered, I heard the echoing craaack of Lucky's break shot. Everyone was in the rec room, engaged in their usual morning activities—that is to say, Hans and Scott were watching TV and Lucky was playing pool with singleminded intensity. Their expressions upon being introduced to Winters were neutrally welcoming, aside from Lucky, who maintained a cool stare throughout the meeting which followed.
    Winters introduced herself and briskly outlined her suggestions for the immediate future. She pointed out, correctly I think, that we've spent too much time in a reactive role, that she would like to see earlier, preventative action, though she was quick to add that she didn't fault Reilly (or us). Very tactful. The big problems like Fimbulwinter being (we hope) rare, she'll keep an eye out for smaller ones which seem to form patterns we can take action against before they turn into larger ones. The fact that she used the word "war" made me distinctly uncomfortable, but I guess she's closer to these things than we are. With Vincent out of action and Aliese, Lucky's suspicions aside, apparently dead, the city has been tensely peaceful for the past couple of weeks. Whatever's going on under the surface hasn't shown a fin yet. The Chinatown killers are an obvious priority; they haven't been seen since the attack on Lucky, but I recall Albert's conjectures on their M.O. We agreed we'd keep our eyes open.
    Winters has also been assigned to the Ellis case; no news there, but she's promised to keep us posted. At the end of the meeting she asked to see Lucky privately. The two of them walked around the island while I waited to give her a ride back to the mainland. After their talk, Lucky no longer had her gloves. She's sort of on probation; Winters will keep track of them and give them back when she needs them. Neither one of them seems really happy about the situation.
    It seems a little ridiculous to me, it's not as if she's any less dangerous without the damn things, though I don't mind having them out of my sight. I could feel them from some distance away, in Winters' pocket; they seemed different than they had when they were with Lucky, more potent somehow; I suppressed a shiver.
    After their conversation, Lucky stalked back into base and Winters headed toward where I waited by our dock.
    "Well, that went better than I expected."
    "Glad to hear it. Ready to go?"
    "Sure." She smiled a little hesitantly. "Although, if you wouldn't mind... I've never flown before."
    I checked the sky automatically; it was a clear day. "Sure." I took it a little slow, set her down by her car and watched her drive away.

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© 1999 Rebecca J. Stevenson