Night Crawlers and Day Dreamers
By Lisa

After talking with George, Chris and Rita went to the maids address to ask her some more questions. Mrs. Tompkins told them everything she knew, who the people were that were listed in the notebook, what kind of schedules the Richardson's kept, even their future plans with the new baby. By the time Chris and Rita left, they knew almost everything they could about Michael and Karen Richardson. Mrs. Tompkins had loved the couple dearly, and it showed in her words about them. Normally, Chris and Rita didn't allow themselves to know so much about the victims, because it made them too human, too real. Now, they knew it was necessary, in order to catch the monster who had ended their lives.

As they drove back to the shop, preparing themselves for yet another long night of investigating files and dissecting details, they were quiet. Each of them thought about the young couple who had been killed, and they silently mourned for them, for the dreams they had never seen come true. Both wondered if the dreams they kept tightly sealed and protected would ever come true for themselves. Life was so fragile.

They sat at their desks, once again viewing the same files they had seen time and time again. Fran had brought in some homemade food for them, insisting that they needed some good nourishment, instead of the fast food they always ate. Harry stood by now, as they both ate, and stared enviously at them, wondering why his wife never made that dish for him. She had brought him in some noodles and blanched carrots, and as a treat he was allowed to have a piece of the carob cake she had made. He never had the heart to tell her he hated that carob cake.

He wanted what Chris and Rita were eating, flaunting it in front of him.... Ho... Yeah,... And just when he had been considering rewarding them with a few days off when this case was closed... Just let them see if that would happen now, he thought...

Chris watched Cap from the corner of his eye, as he made the most of the stuffed shells Frannie had made for him and Rita. He was having fun with each bite he took, and he knew his captain was annoyed. He nearly choked with laughter as he saw Caps eyes hungrily wander over to the chocolate cake Fran had brought in for their dessert.

Rita wasn't oblivious to what was going on. She just tried to ignore it, knowing that soon, Chris would be called into Caps office for some silly reason so he could chew Chris out. It didn't matter if he even had a good reason.... Cap would find something, and Rita didn't want any part of it. She cowardly ate her dinner in quick bites, whenever Cap got briefly distracted by something.

Chris would keep giving her the eye, letting her know she was disappointing him by not joining in on the fun he was having.

One of the other detectives came up to Cap to ask him a question, and almost got his head bit off . Chris started laughing, despite the warning looks Rita kept shooting his way.

"Awe.... Come on, Sam.... Where's your sense of humor ?"

"My sense of humor is feeling sorry for Cap... Your being mean to him, Chris,... Can't you see he's about ready to sign you to redo all the paperwork you've done for the last three months!" she tried to reason with him.

"So what if he does... I have Fran on my side, you know that... I'll tell her he was mad that I wouldn't share my dinner with him, because I was following her orders not to!" Chris said this confidently, almost arrogantly it seemed, and he leaned back in his chair, with a cocky smile on his face.

"So, you see, Sam... You have nothing to worry about... Cap is our boss, but Fran is his, and she's on our side... So we can have some fun... Come on!"

"No, thanks, Sam.... I'm gonna get started on the Deitrich file now... You go ahead and enjoy yourself" she said this shaking her head, but amused at her partner anyway.

Cap was finishing with his hollering now, and making his way back over to where they sat. Chris leaned over to Rita, and quickly whispered to her.

"Chicken!" he was trying to dare her.

She looked up at Chris, and bit her lip as she looked at him .., just thinking. Then she smiled, and Chris wondered what that was about. Cap reached their desks, still mumbling about how some of these people made it as far as they did.

Rita stood up, and very sweetly and innocently said to her boss.

"I'm just stuffed Cap.... It would be such a shame for this piece of cake to go to waste" she held it out to him. "Would you like to have this Cap.... I promise I won't tell Fran if you don't" she smiled her most adoring smile at him, as she handed it to him. He smiled widely back at her, taking it.

"Thank you, Rita'" he gave Chris his over the glasses look.

"You were ALWAYS my favorite detective. By the way, Rita.... I think when this case is over you should take off for a few days of rest and relaxation... You earned it.... Go up to that place in Sanibel you like so much..... I think with Chris and I here, we'll be able to manage while your gone... Paid leave of course... Don't worry about that!" Cap smiled triumphantly at Chris as he walked away, going to his office with the chocolate cake in his hand.

Now Chris sat with his fork in mid air, and squinted his eyes Caps way, mimicking him. Then he turned to Rita. His voice went up a few octaves higher.

"Oh, cap.... I'm so stuffed..... Would you like my cake.... I won't tell if you don't......" then his voice went back to normal.

"Really, Rita... That was a first class suck up if I ever saw one... Bravo, Sam..... But you forgot one thing." now he brought back his cocky grin.

"What's that, sam," she asked, still trying to look innocent.

"I saw you give Cap that cake... And I'm gonna tell Fran!... Ha.... Now your in for it.... She's gonna give Cap a months worth of Chinese herbs to clean out his system... And who do you think he's gonna blame?... Huh?"

Rita hadn't thought of that, and it showed on her face, as she realized Chris was right.

"Kiss that vacation goodbye, sam." said Chris, laughing at her predicament.

"Shut up, Chris!" Rita said through her clenched teeth.... Ohhh, that man!.... She thought... But God, do I love him!

Dinner was over, and it was time to get back to work, and she did just that, trying to ignore Chris's snickers.

Only Chris and Rita were left now in the office, still searching for what continued to evade them, but what they knew was there, somewhere. The ticking of the clock could be heard over the silence, as there was no stirring of coffee or mumbling tonight. Only a dead silence, interrupted every once in awhile by one asking the other a question. That was why when Rita suddenly cried out, as she stood up, Chris jumped too, already preparing himself to go for his gun if need be.

"Damn, rita." he said, seeing there was no danger "You really scared me... Calm down, will ya!"

"Sam!!!... Look! I found it... The handyman!..... And a baby-sitter!" Rita ran to his side, her energy level at an all time high now. She pointed to something on the file she had been reading, then reached for another, and then even another. Chris read the statements he had already read over hundreds of times before, not seeing what apparently she did.

"What??? You got something?"

"Look at it Chris... The Richardson’s had a handyman, the maid said that they had recently hired a young man to add a closet in the baby’s room.... And then he had done a few various other jobs for them around the house. He had been given a key to the shed, right?"

"I was there, Rita... I heard that, but I don't get the connection"

"Chris.... The Van Dorn's also had work recently done at their house... And the Shyler's... I bet if we check into it, we'll find the other families had recently had work done as well.

Now he was beginning to catch on.

"And a handy man would probably have access to keys, as well as the layout of the house, would know the contents of the place... And most likely certain security measures he might have to be made aware of for some work... And even if he wasn't told, he would sure be able to find out for himself! Very good Sam.... You little Sherlock, you... We'll check in to it.... Was there any other mention of a handyman in the other families?"

"Well, no... But who would think of that, especially if the work had already been completed, and he had moved on.... Which is what I'm thinking. said Rita.

"Okay, Sam... I get about the handy man , but what was that about a baby sitter?

Chris was once again confused by the way her mind sometimes worked.

"I was reading Karen’s journal... And she mentions about looking for a baby sitter, just for the occasional evening out that her husbands job required. A friend had told her about a teenager who is eighteen , and supposed to be great with kids... And she had been quite taken in by the young girl, after interviewing her. Her name is Gina Lawrence. Her name and address are also in the notebook. But get this, Sam... Guess who was the friend who gave the reference to Karen?"

"One of our victims?" he spoke at the same time he read her mind."

"Victoria Shyler... She used the same baby-sitter, and the same handyman.... It could be our link! ".... Rita practically beamed with self-satisfaction. Chris loved seeing her that way, but also knew he needed to keep her level headed.

"It's really good, Sam... And of course we will check it out tomorrow, but you should also realize that it wouldn't be uncommon for friends to exchange things like that.... We can't go barreling in, and pointing fingers just yet, you know."

Rita just gave Chris a frustrated look,, wondering why he thought she didn't realize that herself. Of course she knew it was only a start. She was just happy that they had a start.

"Chris, I was just happy we had something to go on... It just feels right. I just want to put this case behind me.... You know?" her voice shook as she spoke.

Chris did know. He saw how much she had of herself invested in this case, and that was why he had reminded her of the possibility of being on the wrong path. Long ago, he had learned to go with her and her hunches, and this time was no different.

He only hoped her hunches were right, as they always had been before.

The next morning, when Chris saw Rita walk into the shop, he could tell she hadn't slept at all last night. She had been too excited after finding the connections between two or three of the families, and couldn't wait to begin checking them out.

She came in, with a smile on her face, a coffee in her hand, and the stack of files she had practically memorized. They went together into Caps office, ready to give him their newest update. After 0filling him in, and his encouraging remarks, they began their day.

They called in the families of the victims, other then the children, requesting that they come in again for some questions, hinting that they had a possible lead. It took them the entire day to talk with them, and they hated being the ones to reopen up wounds that hadn't really had time to heal yet. Chris was touched once again as he watched Rita reach out to those who grieved, offering what comfort she could to them, whether it was a shoulder to cry on, or just a glass of water. It wasn't often that they had the crimes "other victims" in with them, but when they did, Chris was always amazed at this side of his partner. He himself felt for the families, but their sorrow eventually got to be more then he could handle for his own sanity. She seemed to suddenly find a never ending supply of strength for them. She was strong yet tender at the same time, exactly what they needed. Not one of them would have ever expected that she carried her own pain within her. She was always there for anyone who needed her, and that was why he had vowed to himself that he would always be there for her.

And he was , when that day ended, and he knew that all the sadness would now weigh upon her, as well. She wasn't one to lean on others too often, preferring instead to stand tall and face the world. He just stood by her, side and let her be . She knew he was there if she needed him, and he knew that she would come to him if the weight in her heart got to be too heavy for her to carry alone. That was their way.

That night they went to his place, ordered a pizza, and watched the movies they had rented, laughing and teasing each other as usual. And when in the movie, the man told the woman he would never leave her, Rita quietly scooted over into Chris's arms, and he held her, while she gently rubbed his arm. They didn't need to speak words and she didn't cry now, but he had comforted her once again. She knew she could always face the tomorrow’s, as long as it was him she faced them with.

That night, as the movie played, and the man finally told the woman he loved her, Rita slept peacefully in Chris's arms,while they both dreamed it was them in that movie.

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