Thinking Inside the Box
"I'm not Montel -- Holy shit!!"
Though most of his colleagues would disagree, John Munch had always liked to think of himself as unflappable. Well, now he was well and truly flapped. Ten seconds ago he was starting what would have been a legendary interrogation, one to impress even Pembleton; now, he and his handcuffed suspect were gaping at the two half-dressed figures floundering on the floor of The Box.
Falsone and Ballard sprang apart, Falsone fumbling with his zipper and Ballard shrieking. Munch had done his best staring and yelling to throw the suspect off his guard, but all that was lost now. "Shee-it," the suspect drawled, leering at Ballard’s chest. "What kinda po-leece station you runnin’ here?"
Cursing his hard work ruined, Munch began to drag the suspect back to a holding cell, but Ballard's screams had attracted attention. "Laura!" Stu Gharty dashed across the squadroom, his brows knit. Judging from his expression, he was expecting to have to pull an unruly perp off his partner; as the look of concern turned to one of horror, it appeared he would have preferred that to the truth.
As Gharty grimaced, behind him Mike Kellerman broke into his familiar smirk for the first time in months. "Lost a contact, Falsone? Looking for spare change?" He snapped his gum with unconcealed glee.
"Ya think it’s funny, do you? They ruined my interrogation!"
"Polishing the floor? Checking for hidden microphones?"
The angriest voice of all silenced even Kellerman. "What in the hell is that?!" shouted Sgt. Kay Howard, pointing with disgust to a greasy spot on the floor.
Hoots and hollers commenced. Falsone glared at his tormentors defiantly. "Its my hair gel." As he spoke, he ran his fingers through his greasy mane. Even in utter humiliation, Falsone couldn't stop preening his hair. Ballard buried her face in her hands.
"Hey Meldrick, look. Your partner's screwing around on company time. Really." Kellerman bit out the word "partner" like it tasted bad.
Meldrick paused for a second, trying to think of a snappy comeback, then realized it was a lost cause. "Aw, hell."
"Well, Tim. Look what we have here. Humanity at its most... ridiculous." Frank Pembleton had obviously sized up the situation in his usual record time. He did not look pleased. Bayliss, unwillingly in tow, appeared vaguely uncomfortable.
:Well at least it ain’t a coffin," Lewis cracked, whether out of a desire to at least faintly defend his partner or just to rub salt in the wound that was Emma Zuhl, Bayliss didn’t know. He blushed.
"A coffin?" Falsone inquired. Maybe he was off the hook. A coffin was just damn creepy.
"Shut up, Falsone!!" several voices thundered in unison. For once, Falsone did as he was told.
"How could anyone sully the hallowed ground that is the Box? The place where lies are unmasked, where justice is served--"
"—the place where you had your stroke, you fucking windbag?" Falsone muttered under his breath.
It wasn’t quiet enough. Frank’s veins bulged like he was about to have a second stroke. "What did you say?!" he bellowed directly into Falsone’s face. Behind him, only Munch's reflexes had stopped Bayliss from giving Falsone a broken nose. Meldrick hadn't noticed, and no one else would have cared -- in fact, most of them would have lined up for a shot, or two in Kellerman's case. Munch would have liked to punch Falsone himself, or better yet hold him back so Timmy could get a good shot, but figured it was more important to keep his business partner out of any potential incident reports.
"He called you a windbag. No, a fucking windbag," Mike replied helpfully.
"It was a rhetorical question!!" Frank shifted his glare to Mike for a second, then returned to his primary target. "If you had to satisfy your bodily lusts, you could have used the bathroom or a closet like decent people. But instead, you defile the most sacred spot in this building with your vile, sweaty bodies grinding like a couple of wild animals in heat, your grunting and gasping and moaning..."
"Um. I have to go now." Bayliss, who had been the quietest of the spectators, fled.
"What’s gotten into him?" Kellerman wondered.
"Ah, who knows, he’s a flaky fruit, or a fruity flake or whatever..."
Pembleton wheeled on Gharty, his voice dropping to a near-whisper that was far more intimidating than any of his earlier shouts. "I'll thank you not to talk about my partner that way."
The Box fell silent for a moment. Gharty looked flustered, obviously deciding whether to challenge the usual order of the unit. Then he wisely turned on Falsone. "How could you do that to Laura, you little punk? Didn't you care about her reputation? Are you even capable of thinking about anyone but yourself?"
"Are you even capable of thinking." The second the baritone filled the Box, everyone knew Falsone and Ballard had just gone from Humiliated to Seriously Screwed. No question about it, Al Giardello was pissed.
"The city of Baltimore does not pay you to ...procreate on company time. I do hope you both realize what a serious infraction this is." Giardello paused to let loose one of his legendary glares. "Of course there will be consequences, which Sgt. Howard and I will determine."
"Well, I can think of the first one. If you agree, of course, Lieutenant."
"The Box needs to be cleaned. Right away..."
Three hours later:
"Well, I think that’s about it." Ballard stood up, wondering how she would ever live this down. Getting caught was bad enough, the disciplinary action was sure to hurt, but having to clean The Box with a toothbrush... well, that was just infamy. And since Paul didn’t know shit about cleaning, she'd had to do most of it. She looked at Falsone, who was sitting on the floor with a goofy grin. "What’s wrong with you? Do you not realize how bad this is?"
Falsone didn’t even seem to hear her. "I got it on in The Box... I’m a stud. I’ll be a legend."
Ballard couldn’t stop herself from slapping him. Hard.
"All right, that’s good enough. Go home, you two." At this point, Kay was just glad she was done supervising the office horndogs for the day. As they slunk out, she stepped in to inspect.
"How is it?" Munch poked his head in.
"Ehhh, it’s probably the cleanest The Box has ever been,” Kay admitted. “You still having a fit over your interrogation?"
"Not at all." Munch beamed. "My suspect was so... impressed with Detective Ballard's... assets that he couldn’t keep his mouth shut. It was child’s play after that. Now I have a name in black, a happy lieutenant, and a partner who's smiling for the first time in recent memory. What more could one ask?"
"And I guess you got an eyeful, too."
"Which I have already blocked from my memory," John said, shutting the door. "Trust me, there is nothing appealing about a secretary with a gun, my fair sergeant. I prefer my women strong, smart. Real women."
"Is that so."
"I have to give the Wonder Twins credit for one thing, though. The Box... what a place for a tryst. I wouldn't have thought such limited minds could cook that one up. A pity... it's a spot for legendary lovers."
"The Box? Are you kidding? How many suspects have pissed themselves in here?"
"Well, I heard you say yourself it’s been cleaned with a fine-toothed brush. They even got rid of the smell." John laced his fingers into a fistful of Kay’s red hair. "Now, isn’t it your job to inspect? Watch your head." He tenderly began to lower her to the floor with a kiss.
"Munch!! The hell are you thinking... mmm, John... oh, John..."