~ Salisbury University Student #1370578 ~
by Red Hope

copyright: i own and control these characters and the world they're stuck in.
content: this is free love here, that means gay, straight, and all of the above.
violence: yea since ashley is a cop… trooper.

well i am back to the old grind stone with katia & ashley and hopefully it'll come out well. my thanks to all MST1153 fans for hanging in there and waiting for the overdue sequel. so let's get this story on a roll!

feedback: redhope@redhope.net
web page: http://www.redhope.net
SUS mailing list: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SUS1370578/

started: May 3, 2006. Wednesday.

Series 3: Putting the Puzzle Together Series Number: 22     Story Number: 57

Part III

"Haden, in my office, now!" called the captain, who was in her office doorway but stalked back inside.

Sergeant Carver had turned her head to the captain's office just before the captain disappeared inside. She already knew by the way the captain's tone that she was angry about something. She then caught sight of Corporal Haden proudly making her way to the office. Ashley huffed and went back to her paperwork.

"Close the door," hotly ordered the captain.

Trooper Haden silently closed the door, stepped up between the chairs in front of the captain's desk, and stood tall with her hands behind her back.

"What do you think you were doing?" angrily inquired Captain Jonson.

"My duty, captain."

"Goddamn it, Haden. You were just put on duty in this barracks and you're already prepared to get court-marshalled." The captain's eyes were wild and her body tensed while she stood but bent over her desk, hands rest on top of her paperwork. "Just tell me what you were thinking when you shot that man in the leg?"

The trooper didn't flinch but remained calm and cool. She tilted her head to one side. "I wanted to render his leg useless, captain."

"That much was obvious," carefully drew out the angry captain. "Now tell me why I shouldn't put you on a week's leave."

The trooper wasn't silent but had already had her reasoning a long time ago. "If I didn't stop the suspect then he would have guaranteed to hurt somebody once he escaped in his van." She tilted her head to the other side as she regarded her captain. She knew the captain was fuming; Captain Jonson's voice could peel the paint off the barracks sometimes.

"Next time blow out the tires in the van, corporal."

"That would have proved inefficient, captain as he would have still tried an escape. My only option was to make him immobile."

"Well lucky for you, you have good aim."

Corporal Haden's expression never altered. "I have the best in the barracks, captain."

The captain eyed her subordinate. "You could have shot an innocent bystander, Haden."

The corporal was quiet for a second then finally said, "I wouldn't have, captain." She could tell the captain was now calming down as she straightened up to her fully but short stature.

"You will have IAB crawling all over you this week, Haden."

"I understand, captain."

Captain Jonson now rested her hands on her hips and studied her trooper. "See that you stick to the rulebook a little closer next time, Haden."

Haden said nothing but she merely dipped her head in regard.

"That'll be all. Dismissed." The captain watched the silent trooper leave her office. She felt some of the tension relieve her but she was still somewhat annoyed by the circumstances. Now she knew for certain that Trooper Haden would most likely be a handful but she was prepared to deal with it, deal with her.

When Trooper Haden stepped out of the office, she immediately noted Trooper Carver starting at her so she arched her right eyebrow at her. In reaction, Sergeant Carver mirrored back the lifted eyebrow and Haden was anything but amused. She quickly turned on the heels of her boots and marched for the backdoor to leave the barracks.

Ashley quietly huffed to herself and went back to her endless pile of paperwork. She then sensed a presence over her desk and she paused in her work.


The sergeant lowered her pen while leaning back in her chair to gaze up at the young trooper. "Yes, Tarn?"

"I wanted to let you know that by next Monday I will be transferring."

Carver was slightly shocked but she didn't say anything at first. Carefully she asked, "Which barracks?"

"Barracks S, ma'am."

Ashley ran through her mental reference and realized that was Centreville, Maryland. "Why the transfer?"

The trooper cleared her throat then replied, "I'd like to be closer to family."

Ashley faintly smiled at her reasoning because she could relate. "Where is the family?"


Carver's faint smile now grew. "A friend of mine lives there."

Trooper Tarn carefully considered the sergeant's information then stated, "Katia Danforth."

"There's hope for you to be a detective," teased Trooper Carver.

Tarn relaxed at seeing the sergeant's playful demeanour. "I hope so, ma'am."

"When is your last day, Tarn?"

"Not until Saturday."

"So you start on Monday with Barracks S?"

"Yes, ma'am."

Carver's head bobbed a few times however before she could hear more; there came a yell from the captain.

"Carver, I want you in here now," ordered the captain.

Tarn smirked down at Sergeant Carver and teased, "Good luck." She then caught the dark warning look from the sergeant so she decided it was best to hurry back to her work.

After Trooper Tarn escaped, Ashley got up and weaved through the desks to the captain's office. When she entered, she made sure to close the door behind.

"Sit down, sergeant." Jonson signalled the chair to the right.

Ashley hesitated because she was being offered a seat - that was never a good sign. She retained her sigh as she took her spot in the hard wood chair.

"We have a problem here, Carver."

"Ma'am?" inquired the confused trooper.

The captain was resting in her chair, leaned back, and her elbows on the arm with her hands laced together just below her chin. "I have been looking over you records and I've noticed a glaring mistake in protocol."

Ashley held back from questioning but she was in luck as the captain continued her explanation.

"It seems you jumped from corporal to first sergeant."

Carver began to open her mouth but she was quickly cut off.

"Not only did you skip over being a sergeant and detective sergeant, you were never even tested to be a first sergeant." The captain was staring down at an open file before her but now she rested her chin on her linked hands and her gaze was fixed on the worried first sergeant. "Please inform me how this happened, Carver."

"Captain, I did not mean to break protocol."

"Regardless of what you did or didn't mean to do it has been done and we have a mess."

Ashley Carver's head tilted forward as she carefully considered the position she was in now.

"It looks as if Lieutenant Grissom truly favoured you," drew out the captain.

The trooper lifted her gaze again. "I was his best, ma'am."

Captain Jonson faintly bit her lower lip, lowered her hands, and sat back in her chair again. "The other problem we have too, Carver is the fact you want to become a detective sergeant, which is impossible."

Ashley considered it and it hit her just how much of a mess things were now. "A first sergeant rates higher than a detective sergeant," she muttered.

The captain was silent like the trooper but after a minute she stood up. She walked over to the open window and watched the car traffic out on Route 13. "I believe it is only fair you return to corporal status."

"Captain?" Suddenly First Sergeant Ashley Carver stood up and her face was pure shock.

The captain spun around quickly, the fiery mask of command was in place. "You did not earn your position as first sergeant, Carver."

"For the past several months I have been the acting first sergeant of this barracks. I have held my position without error." Carver caught her breath after her hot rebukes but she carefully added, "You cannot demote me for Lieutenant Grissom's error."

Captain Jonson carefully weighed her trooper's words and the protocol. She walked back over to her desk but stood behind her chair, her hands now resting on the back of the chair. "You did excellent work on the Fluehr case, Carver."

"Thank you, ma'am."

"Are you still aspiring to be a detective?"

"Very much so." The trooper could tell that her captain was trying to work this out so that everybody would be happy.

The captain's headed bobbed a few times, her eyes glazed over by her racing thoughts. "How about we work it this way…." She straightened up from leaning some against the chair. "I will demote you from first sergeant to sergeant but I will not remove your pay. Second, you will continue your usual paperwork but at a less load. Third, you will begin training to become a detective sergeant."

Ashley Carver couldn't argue too much, especially considering what'd happen however she could tell there was something else on the captain's mind. "Fourth?" she urged.

Captain Jonson's lips curled into a grin at her trooper's perception. "Fourth, you begin college… paid by the state of course."

"I'd already considered that, captain."

The captain nodded her approval. "What did you have in mind?"

"I was thinking SU… psychology to compliment the detective sergeant rank."

"I concur." The captain finally came around her desk chair and took her seat. "I suggest then you work on admission."

"I have been," countered the trooper.

Captain Jonson was mildly surprised but she hid it well. "Then you were accepted?"

"Yes, ma'am… back in March. I only need to sign up for classes next month. I'd considered Chesapeake College originally but-"

"Too far," concluded the captain.


The captain now grinned as she leaned forward, over her desk. "Then I suggest you sign up, sergeant."

Carver felt a chill ripple down her back from the captain's deep almost alluring voice. "Of course, captain."


The trooper took that as a hint so she stood up to her full, tall height. She stepped around the chair and faced the captain again. "When shall my work load be lessened?"

"Consider yourself a sergeant today, Carver."

Ashley understood and she nodded.

"Dismissed," finally ordered Captain Caitlin Jonson.

Now Sergeant Carver marched out of the captain's office and she went back to her desk to finish up her paperwork. When she sat down in her chair, she let out a large sigh of relief that she hadn't realized she'd been holding that entire time in the captain's office. She was starting to admire and respect the captain, a lot.

Part IV

Ashley finally made it back to her home, which was rather quiet. She'd decided it was a very long Wednesday today after dealing with the captain and her… demotion. Ashley frowned at realizing she'd been demoted down by two positions. She tried to remind herself that she'd be working towards what she's always wanted to be, a detective.

Right now though Ashley had to tackle the problem of dinner but when she stepped into her lonely home, she decided maybe later she would do that. First she dragged herself into her bedroom and slowly peeled off her uniform then slipped into her lazy, heather sweatpants and a black tshirt.

Finally she made her way into the office and flopped in the desk chair. For a second, she just stared at the blank computer screen then bent to her right to power up the desktop. As she waited for the desktop, she peered down at her hands and smiled at the ring on her finger. She already missed Katia but she knew they wouldn't talk until later this evening when Katia was off work. Her thoughts wondered a little further while she gave the ring a full three hundred sixty degree turn on her finger.

When Ashley peered up, her computer was waiting for her to enter her password so she did. After the computer booted up all its necessary programs, she entered into her internet email account and began the boring process of weeding through the junk mail.

A slow, long drawn out sigh escaped Ashley and she dropped her head back against the soft chair. Just for a second, she decided, she would close her eyes… just rest them.

"I don't know if I can do this, Ashley."

The state trooper unconsciously clenched her fist but she released it just as quick. "You can," she assured her best friend.

Katia had her arms folded over her chest and tight enough to start wrinkling her white blouse. Her eyes were filled with fear and locked by the two wood doors just off to her right. "He'll be in there," she murmured.

Ashley reached up and rested her hands on Katia's shoulders. "Yes he will," she softly agreed, "but so will I." That seemed to grab Katia's attention so Ashley gave a reassuring smile. "Trust me, you'll do wonderful, K."

"I hope I can." She cleared her throat some then softly added, "I know you're depending on me… so is the ADA."

"Listen," broke in Ashley, her hands squeezing the smaller woman's shoulders. "I don't want you to think about the case. Just focus on what the ADA will be asking you… nothing else. I know she's prepped you already."

"But what about… the defence's questions?"

"Don't worry about that, K. The best thing you can do is answer it all honestly. You have nothing to hide nor did you do anything wrong." Ashley fixed her eyes on Katia's. "Remember, you're not on trial here… Bobby is. Okay?"

Katia nodded her head a few times. She now pushed on a smile into her expression, which made Ashley settle down some. She then noticed one of the wood doors open and the bailiff peered out.

"Katia Danforth, it's time now."

The young college student nodded her head and headed for the bailiff. She sensed Ashley behind her as she went inside the courtroom. She sucked in a deep breath and she could only hope it would control the nervous flutters flying around in her stomach. Her arms and legs felt slightly weak yet she pushed forward down the aisle. She caught sight of Bobby Fluehr off to her left and she stared at him for some time. Then her focus was stolen by the tall, blond ADA that stood behind the people's side.

The ADA offered the warmest smile to Katia and that reassured her.

The bailiff assisted Katia up to the stand then held out the book. Once he swore her in, he stepped aside to allow for the ADA to begin.

Katia's gaze wondered back into the courtroom and she found Ashley's face. She took in Ashley's loving and supportive expression, especially within her soft blue eyes. Suddenly Katia felt warmed by strength and her gaze lifted to the beautiful ADA that was offering a compassionate expression.

The ADA could tell her witness was now fully prepared and so was she. She quickly altered her attitude into the effective attorney that she was known. She took a deep breath then started. "Katia Danforth, on the night of…."

Ashley softly moaned then lifted her head as her hand came up to rub her face. She tried to rub the sleepiness away but it wasn't effective. Her blur vision slowly focused on the computer and she noted she'd dozed off for forty-five minutes or so. After an agitated sigh, she merely switched off the flat screen and got up then left the office.

As the state trooper worked her way through the kitchen, making a dinner, she tried to figure out why she'd dreamt about Fluehr's trial. She hadn't thought about the trial since some time really. After the guilty verdict came in on Fluehr's trial, she'd put it all behind herself. So why now was such a memory surfacing in her dreams? She put it aside for later thought and went to sit and eat her meal.

And it was as if Katia was psychic when Ashley's cell phone rang just as Ashley finished her dinner. The trooper discarded her plate into the sink then hurried to her room. She caught the call just in time and a smile struck her when she answered the phone.

"Hey, baby," warmly greeted Katia.

Ashley was next to her bed so she fell back into it and replied, "Hey cutie. How are you?"

"I'm pretty beat," admitted the younger woman.

The state trooper gave a drawn out sigh. "Tell me about it."

"Busy day?"

"It was but it was more than that."

Katia found this interesting. She leaned back in her stiff wood chair and propped her bare feet up on the computer desk. "What happened?"

"The captain happened," complained the trooper.

Katia wasn't going to ask because she knew her girlfriend would explain in a second.

Ashley was silent for a breath then simply stated, "I've been demoted."

Katia suddenly had the most confused expression and she couldn't get over how Ashley said it so monotone. "Okay… I missed something."

Ashley rubbed her face before talking again. "Before I left my previous barracks my lieutenant promoted me to first sergeant."

"Right," readily agreed the young woman.

"Now Captain Jonson figured out I went from a corporal to a first sergeant and managed to skip over sergeant and detective sergeant." Ashley hurried her girlfriend groan. "Also I was never properly tested for the position of first sergeant."

"Oh good god," muttered Katia. "That's pretty bad when a lieutenant of a police barracks breaks all the rules huh?"

"Slightly," sarcastically agreed the trooper.

"Well did you get demoted to corporal again?"

"No." Ashley felt uncomfortable so she reached up and pulled her pillow down until it was under her head. "She demoted me to a sergeant but she's letting me keep my pay."

"Hmmmm," muttered Katia over the phone. She dropped her head back, her eyes closed, but the cell phone still in place. "What happens now?"

"Now you'll be seeing me on campus."

Katia's head jerked up and her eyes were wide open now. "What?" She actually laughed now. "You're kidding."

"No. The captain wants me to begin college." Ashley noted Katia's silence and most likely because she was trying to absorb everything. "I actually have to sign up for classes soon."

"You should take a trip down to the campus," quietly suggested Katia.

"I was planning on it."

Katia was still astonished yet she cleared her throat and asked, "What'll be your major?"


The college student considered the major and thought about the police force. She realized how it'd help Ashley out a lot. "Can you still be a detective?"

"Yes… that's why the captain demoted me."

"Since a first sergeant is higher rank than a detective," concluded Katia. "I hope this works out."

"Me too," whispered the trooper.

"Do you think this captain knows what she's doing?"

"I think so," responded the trooper. "She certainly follows protocol."

Katia now stood up and began pacing in her room. "Still just because she follows protocol doesn't make her good."

"No but I just have a feeling about her." Ashley glanced at the clock on her nightstand, which read out seven pm. "There seems to be a lot of tension between her and Haden."

Katia chuckled because she knew how her partner felt about Corporal Haden. "Did something happen?"

"Yes actually. Haden was on duty and a report came in about a bank robbery. She was closest to the scene so she immediately called in on it. When she arrived, the robbery was almost over and the suspect was heading for his van."

Katia now paused at her window, looking out at the yard. "What happened?"

"Well Haden ordered him to stop. By this time about four other troopers showed up too. The suspect refused and broke into a run for his van." Ashley paused as a faint grin curled her lips. "The suspect wasn't a threat but Haden took aim and shot him."

"Oh god," murmured Katia.

"Got him right in the leg," clarified Ashley.

"God," rasped Katia. Her slightly tensed body now relaxed. "Isn't that…."

"Against protocol? Yeah. If an officer isn't in any immediate danger then they're not allowed to shoot."

Katia was shaking her head. "Has anything happened to Haden as a result?"

"I believe she was highly lectured by the captain." As Ashley considered it, she quickly added, "She'll most likely be investigated by IAB."

"IAB?" muttered the college student.

"Internal Affairs Bureau."

"Oooo," whispered Katia. She walked away from her window and sat back down. "That should prove interesting."

"Definitely." Ashley took a deep breath then asked, "You're off on Friday huh?"

"Yeah," agreed Katia, "And Saturday amazingly."

"What you doing Friday?"

"I was thinking of going to see Mike. He's just in Easton with his mother. Then I was planning to see this hot chic for a movie date."

The trooper laughed and with her freehand she brushed her midnight hair back. "What movie?"

"I was thinking Batman Begins."

"We've been meaning to see that," agreed the trooper.

"Yes." Katia now smiled. "Are you going to treat me to popcorn?"

Ashley now laughed. "I'll consider it all day tomorrow and Friday."

Katia gave a huge sigh over the phone. "You're so cheap sometimes."

"You're so expensive all the time."

Katia's mouth dropped open and Ashley was just imagining that too. "Excuse me! Who owned a Benz?"

"And who traded it in because the maintenance was ridiculous?" Ashley huffed at the memory of that red car. "I got rid of it just in time."

Katia's confused toned voice asked, "Why you say that?"

"The sunroof and chair were having electrical problems. Electrical problems that would never get fixed."

"I don't have any trouble with mine."

The state trooper thought about the date of Katia's car then explained, "Mine was a 1998, the year after Damien-Chrysler bought Mercedes."

"So Chrysler screwed it up?"

"That's the American way," joked Ashley.

Katia was shaking her head. She now looked at the time and realized she would have to eat soon with her family. "I should get going, baby."

"I know," muttered the state trooper. "Have a goodnight. I'll see you on Friday."

"Yes, and I want my popcorn."

"Just bring some."

"That's not the same, you know it, Ash."

The trooper groaned. "Goodbye."

"I love you too," teased Katia.

Ashley now grinned. "I love you, K. Talk to you tomorrow."

"Bye, Ash."

"Bye, K."

Katia closed her phone and watched it darken after the call ended. She stood up and ran her fingers through her long blond hair for a moment. She stretched a little then slipped out of her room and went to her sister's. After she knocked, her sister called her in. She noticed her sister was at her desk and speed typing. "You must be fighting with somebody online."

Lisa turned her dark eyes on her sister. "How'd you guess?"

Katia smirked and folded her arms over her chest. "By the speed of your typing."

Lisa sighed and turned her focus back to the screen. She continued her speedy response to her friend online. "Its dumb shit," she muttered. "A couple of the girls at the high school are stirring up trouble."

Katia rolled her eyes and took a seat on the bed. "I remember those days."

"I'll be so glad to graduate next year," decided Lisa aloud.

"Then off to college."

Lisa pulled away from the computer and looked over her shoulder at her sister. "Maybe."

Katia instantly frowned. "Lisa… seriously."

"I am being serious."

Katia dropped her face into her hands. She lightly growled in frustration and lifted her head back up. "I thought you applied to some colleges?"

"I did, got accepted, and I think I may defer for a semester."

Katia sighed. "Why?"

"I just think I need a break from schooling." Lisa didn't say much else but kept typing some response to somebody online. She came to an end of that online conversation so she turned to face her sister. "Listen Kat, I think it'll be good for me."

"No," argued Katia, "you'll end up not going back in the spring then totally screw yourself."

"I won't." For once, in a rare time Lisa was very serious. "I thought about what you said with Oldfields back on Thanksgiving."

"It's a little late," chided the older sister.

"I know." Lisa sighed at her sister's anger. "Just listen. I thought about what you said… about the fact that I could do better. You're right… I know I can, you know I can, and so does mom and dad." She tilted her head some and saw her sister finally relaxing. "It's just… well you know how mom and dad are. So hard pressed to get us through college and make us great."

"I know." Katia frowned at her sister's words.

"I just want some time to chill and get my life in order… my priorities." Lisa finally smiled and added, "I thought I'd do some travelling."

Katia perked up at this revelation. "Where?"

"Maybe in Europe, I've never been overseas like you."

Katia now was smiling some at her sister's ideas. "What college have you been accepted to?"

"Washington College, Salisbury, Goucher College, and College Park."

"You should go to UMD," suggested Katia.

Lisa's head swayed from side to side while she thought about it. "I'm not sure yet. I have some time."

Katia felt a little more relieved that her younger sister was taking the college idea more seriously. Despite she was unsure about the deferring but she figured if Lisa travelled that it would still be a learning experience.

"Girls, dinner time!"

Lisa quickly turned around and turned off her computer monitor. "Race yah, Kat." She suddenly darted for the door.

"Oh no!" Katia sprung forward and the door was open but she was just too late. The door slammed in her face and she growled. She threw open the door and ran down the hall after her sister. "You cheat!"

Lisa was laughing all the way down the stairs. "That cop has made you too slow!"

Katia felt a bubble of anger but she knew her sister was giving her a hard time. She came to a dead stop though when she entered the kitchen. Her sister was by the fridge already so she went over there to get something to drink too.

"So when you going to see Aaaashley again?" teased Lisa as she pulled out the ice tea container.

Katia wanted to the same so she went to the cupboard with the glasses. "Friday night." She pulled out two glasses and her sister poured the tea for them. "What you doing Friday?"

"I'll be working on the docks while you're...." Lisa's words dropped when she saw her mom come in to get some of the food off the stove. "What's for dinner, mom?"

"Chicken on the grill, asparagus, and some corn."

Lisa picked up her glass and went into the dinning room but called, "Sounds good."

"Need some help, ma?" Katia shifted over to her mother's side.

"Yeah, could you take in your father and sister's plates in?"

"Sure." Katia left her drink and took the plates in instead then came back to retrieve her tea. She finally settled down in her spot, opposite of her sister. It was moments like these that reminded her how much she enjoyed being with her family. Despite some times were harder than others, they never out rated moments like these. She decided as time went on and she matured that her regard for her family was becoming more important. It was interesting how people could change while only some could progress.

Part V

Trooper Haden removed her hat just as she pulled open the back door of the barracks. She tucked the hat under her arm then shifted through the hallway until she was in the offices. She made a beeline for her desk and she placed her hat in one corner of the desk. She settled into her chair and gazed about the paperwork she needed to do, it wasn't much not that it ever really was for her.

Corporal Haden paused in the middle of her work and peered up. She realized another pair of blue eyes were staring directly at her. She arched a blond eyebrow at Trooper Carver, whose desk wasn't too far away. There was something about Sergeant Carver that aggravated Haden and she'd made a decision to avoid her. Yet it was moments like this that she couldn't escape and as much as she wanted to state the things in her mind to Carver, she knew she wouldn't be allowed.

Suddenly her focus on Carver was interrupted by the distinct sound of the captain's door opening. She turned her head around and saw the small but commanding captain march out of her office. She slightly tensed and immediately stood up when the captain stopped just between her and Carver.

Sergeant Carver also stood up in respect.

"Captain," greeted Corporal Haden. She stood tall, at attention, and her hands behind her back.

Sergeant Carver was a little more relaxed but her full attention on the captain. "Captain," she also greeted.

"Carver, you're on patrol today." The captain had her hands on her hips. Her auburn hair seemed a deeper red due to the lights overhead and it brought out her steely grey eyes. "We have a first sergeant transferring in today. First Sergeant Caleb Morse will taking over the assumed duties."

Carver said nothing but nodded her head.

Haden though found this very interesting as she knew Carver was originally first sergeant. She couldn't imagine what had happened recently to cause the demotion.

"I want you on patrol today as well, Haden." The captain pointed at the paper pile on Haden's desk. "Get that done then get on the road." Her hand fell to her side.

Haden slightly tilted her head but nodded then formal responded, "Of course, captain."

Carver glanced over at her counterpart then back at the captain. "Anything else, captain?"

"No. That is all." Captain Jonson began to walk off and her troopers were starting to sit. She stopped though and faced the two female troopers again. "Oh."

Both troopers were about to stand up again but they were too caught off guard by the captain's next words.

"You two will be riding together." The captain saw Corporal Haden's hot response coming on so she cut her off ahead. "And you will work together." Her fiery eyes shifted between the pair to emphasis her point. "That's all." She turned on her heels and marched off again.

Sergeant Carver was only halfway down in her chair and seemed almost stuck that way. She was in utter shock about the change of events these past two days. She finally, slowly lowered herself into the chair. She then gazed across to the corporal, who was steadily working on her paperwork as if nothing had happened. Ashley took a calming breath then decided it was best to finish up the small amount of paperwork then continue on.

After about thirty minutes, Corporal Haden rose up from her chair, picked up her hat, and walked over to the sergeant. "I will be waiting in the patrol car."

Trooper Carver merely nodded at her then lowered her eyes to the form she was checking over.

Corporal Haden stoically strode through the barracks towards the back.

Ashley Carver finished up checking over the accident reports then filed them into her outbox. She picked up her hat, took a deep breath, and stood up. After she pushed her chair in, she dipped her head and put on her hat. She made her way through the desks, the back of the barracks, and outside to the patrol units. She noted the blond bombshell corporal in a marked patrol unit so she made a beeline. She got in the car and once she shut the door, the corporal looked at her.

"Are you ready?"

Ashley Carver lifted a dark eyebrow at her counterpart. "Let's go," she harshly stated.

Corporal Haden didn't waste anytime and raced out of the barracks.

Ashley didn't hesitate to buckle her seatbelt at that point. Despite she was on patrol duty with the one trooper that infuriated her often she was still happy to be on patrol duty again. Too many of her days were spent in the barracks recently and she'd come too accustom with her desk. In some ways, this was a relief to her yet she was still tense.

Haden braked the car in front of the red light. She gave a quick once over of Ashley Carver but returned her gaze forward. She could tell Trooper Carver was extremely tense and she sensed her own body was too. She slightly cleared her throat and tried to pick out a topic. "So what is your rank now?" Well that wasn't the best topic she realized when Trooper Carver drummed her fingers on the arm rest on the passenger's side.

"Sergeant," was all she supplied.

Corporal Haden only nodded. She took her foot off the brake finally and went onto Route 50 south. She got into the fast lane then spurred the patrol car into a whopping eighty-five miles per hour.

Sergeant Carver was gripping the handle on the passenger door. She cleared her throat and stated, "I realize we enforce the law but we can't very well do that when we're overly breaking it."

Haden understood the subtle hint so she pulled back on the gas pedal and just in time as she came up on a slower car. She would normally put up a small argument but it seemed inefficient right now to do such. So she focused on her driving and let the CB radio gargle between them.

Ashley Carver stole a look at her counterpart and now noticed something for the first time. She discreetly stared at Haden's profile and was surprised by the small tattoo over Haden's back jaw bone. The tattoo was a light blue, almost silver looking star design. It was rather unusual determined Ashley.

Corporal Haden saw the curious stare from the sergeant so she quickly glanced at Carver.

Carver quickly turned her gaze away.

Haden ignored it and went back to her driving. She knew it was because of her tattoo, it always caught people's attention once they spotted it.

The troopers listened to the radio while they travelled down Route 50. Finally though Haden came to a slow speed and made a left into an official turnaround in the middle of the divided highway. She reversed the car into the grass and then pulled back up onto the pad so that the car was now pointing in the direction of the north bound traffic.

The sergeant didn't wait and she swung open her car door. It hadn't been long enough for her to forget what the procedures were now.

Haden popped the trunk and the hood of the car. She then exited the patrol car and met the sergeant at the trunk. She was handed first the bright orange vest so she took her hat off and set it in the trunk. After she slipped on the vest, she put her hat on and next she was handed the radar gun.

Carver only needed a hot second to slip on her vest then grab up her ticket pad. She nodded at her counterpart.

Haden couldn't help the slight grin that tugged at her full lips. She walked over to the edge of the north bound lanes and began her targeting.

The sergeant waited for Haden.

"The red Ford minivan," hollered the corporal. "Seventy-seven," she quickly added.

Sergeant Carver easily flagged down the red minivan that was already slowing down but it was too late. She got them onto the shoulder and began her ticket writing.

The troopers kept at their ticketing until it was almost noon. By then it'd been a solid hour and half and most of the people on the highway were slowing down to the appropriate speeds.

Ashley Carver closed up her ticket book and came back to the car. She sensed the corporal right beside her.

"How about lunch?" offered the sergeant.

Corporal Haden was remotely surprised that Carver had started a conversation. "I am rather hungry."


The troopers put all the gear away and got back into the patrol car. Again Haden drove and she rolled onto Route 50 north back to Salisbury however this time she kept it to a decent speed of seventy-five.

"How do you feel about subs?"

Haden really considered it. She glanced at Carver while saying, "They are pleasing." She was now surprised yet again when a small smile cracked over the sergeant's face.

Ashley looked away from her counterpart. She still had that distant smile. She thought about how Haden spoke, her style, and it was rather unique, which made her curious about Haden's background. She then realized she needed to get on the radio. She picked up the mic and pressed on the black button. "This is Sean Six."

"Six, go ahead."

"Taking a Code 7."

The dispatcher beeped back, "10-4."

Ashley hooked the mic back up and saw they were now in the slow lane. She felt her stomach growl at her.

Haden took the exit for mall strip on Route 13. She blinked into the traffic but remain in the slow lane. She slowed down and took a right turn into the small plaza strip.

Together the troopers stepped out of the silent patrol car and went into the Subway. The pair was not remotely startled by the young man that hastily helped the two beautiful yet rigid female state troopers. Finally the pair was able to sit down in the quiet Subway and eat together.

There was another interesting aspect to Corporal Haden, concluded Carver, as Haden kept her side very neat. And it wasn't just neat but perfect. It reminded Carver very much of her days in the army.

Now that Haden had her hat off and she was much closer to Carver than ever before, it gave her a chance for another inspection. Ashley took a drink of her ice tea and scanned over Haden's bent over face. She stopped drinking her tea when she spotted what seemed to be a reddish birthmark over Haden's left eyebrow. The birthmark went over her entire eyebrow's length then curved around her eye on the side then stopped halfway underneath her eye. It was sort of a crescent moon shape but on its side.

Haden now lifted her head and her icy blue eyes met Carver's. "It's a birthmark," she stated.

Ashley cleared her throat. "I'm sorry." She picked up her sub but didn't bite into it.

Haden said nothing.

Trooper Carver though bit into her Chicken Teriyaki sub. Her mouth filled with the taste of the sweet onion sauce in it.

The corporal took a moment to eat some of her baked chips then she tried a conversation topic. Hopefully it would be more successful than her first one this morning. "Haven't you found it suspicious that we have a captain at our barracks?"

Ashley finished her mouthful of her sub. She was taken aback by the question but her mouthful of her sub gave her enough time to come up with a decent response. "A little but I don't like getting into the politics in the barracks."

"I concur." Haden picked up a chip but she didn't lift it up yet. "But it is still suspicious as to why we have a captain in the barracks instead of a lieutenant. It is against protocol."

"And funny how the captain is such a stickler for protocol," muttered Ashley between her sub.

Haden's left eyebrow now arched up along with the faint birthmark. "Indeed." As she ate some of her chips, she put together yesterday's possible events to the demotion of Sergeant Carver.

"You came from Barracks R?"

Haden nodded but finished eating her first half of the sub. "Golden Ring was too inefficient for me."

Ashley slightly grinned. "You mean corrupt."

"No." The corporal stared directly at her counterpart. "The local police are corrupt in Baltimore. That made Golden Ring very inefficient to clean up the messes." She stared at her other half of her sub but peered up at the sergeant. "Captain Jonson is efficient however."

"She would be," agreed Carver, "she's a captain in the army as well."

"I did not realize that," murmured the corporal. "Perhaps it will serve this barracks well."

"I think it will." And for the first instant, the two troopers managed to agree on something between each other. "Do you know anything about this First Sergeant Morse?"

"Yes," readily answered the corporal. "He is from Barracks V, recently divorced, lives in Salisbury, originally from Ocean City and has a bachelors of science in the field of business management from Washington College."

Ashley Carver blinked and stared at the trooper. "Where did you find this?" It sounded too factual to be anything from rumours.

"Background check."

Sergeant Carver slowly raised an eyebrow. "You know, I personally steer clear of those background checks unless they're for official use. I suggest you do the same, corporal. Understood?"

The corporal held her arguments that tried to rush out of her. She nodded then stated, "Understood."

The conversation between the troopers fell silent. They merely ate their meals then left the Subway. Together they got into the car and Haden drove them back onto Route 13 north but did a turn around onto the south bound lane. She then took the exit for Route 50 north.

As soon as they merged onto Route 50 a black Ford Explorer flew past at an excessive speed.

Corporal Haden didn't hesitate to speed up and flip the lights on. It didn't take her long to catch up to the SUV and force them onto the shoulder.

Ashley picked up the mic and radioed, "This is Sean Six, going Code 9 with a black Ford Explorer."

"10-4, Six."

Simultaneously the troopers exited the patrol car and Haden came up along side the driver's side. Carver however came along the passenger's side.

Corporal Haden saw the window was down already and she was greeted by a young black male.

"Hello, officer."

Sergeant Carver found a passenger in the front seat and she tapped on the window. She regarded the young woman as she put the window down. "Afternoon, ma'am."

For a brief second, the male glanced over Carver first realizing she was there too.

"You realize you were going far over the speed limit?" inquired Corporal Haden.

The driver returned his focus to Haden. "Yes, officer."

"I'll need your driver's license and insurance."

The young man cleared his throat and reached behind for his right pocket. He materialized his wallet and while he thumbed through things for his license, he asked, "Sweetie, can you get my insurance?" Finally he produced his license and the passenger had retrieved the insurance.

Corporal Haden took the items to the car to check over.

The sergeant remained beside the vehicle. "Where are you headed to?"

"Just up to Easton," answered the young man.

The girl was busy with liberally chewing her gum and staring at Carver.

"What's in Easton?" further interrogated the trooper.

The passenger smiled and replied, "Some friends."

Corporal Haden finished punching in the information as the report pulled up on the computer screen. Her eyebrow slightly arched at the screen's data that it brought up. She reached to her mic that was hooked to her right shoulder. "Sean Six."

Sergeant Carver heard the call go out on her radio, which she had low but enough to hear clearly.

"Go ahead, Six."

"I'm showing a Code 5."

"Copy. Code 4?"

Haden paused then replied, "Code 4A. Confirm him."

"Copy, Six."

Carver shifted her right hand up a little higher but asked another question to keep their attention. "Where are you from?"

"We're both from Salisbury," replied the driver.

Corporal Haden had tucked the driver's license and insurance into her shirt pocket. She now stepped out of the car and carefully approached the car. She kept a foot or so away from the door then stated, "I need you to step out, sir."

The driver seemed to hesitate as if considering his options.

"I'll need you to step out too, ma'am," informed Trooper Carver.

The driver finally grabbed the door handle and swung the door open. He also heard his friend get out of the car too.

"Please face the car," coolly ordered Haden and after he did so, she again ordered, "Please place your hands against the car."

The driver followed the orders. "What is going on?"

The corporal stepped forward and now carefully frisked him for anything. "You failed to appear in court on a domestic violence charge." She came to a stop at his pant pockets and reached inside of them when she felt something. She pulled out a tiny white bag that held white powered. "And possibly narcotics now," she dangled the bag in front of his turned face.

"Aw come on," complained the driver. "I never attacked her."

"Put your hands behind your back." Haden kept her left hand on his mid back while she tucked the baggy in her chest pocket in her shirt. She then reached for her handcuffs when the man put his hands behind his back. "Tyrone Wilks, you are under arrest for not appearing in court for domestic violence and possession of narcotics." Haden paused then lifted him off the car and in her flat line tone she added, "You have the right to remain silent. If you give up that right, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law." She now began directing him towards the patrol car. "You have the right to an attorney and to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided to you at no cost." She now paused and opened the rear door behind the driver's side. "During any questioning, you may decide at any time to exercise these rights, not answer any questions, or make any statements. Do you understand these rights?"

Tyrone glared and hotly replied, "Yeah, I've heard 'em before."

"Get in," commanded the trooper. She now shoved him down into the car.

Tyrone got in and stared straight ahead as the door slammed shut.

When she straightened up again, she saw Trooper Carver bringing the female towards the car and she was also cuffed.

Haden went over and assisted Carver with getting the female into the car. She held the door open and before she closed it after the woman was in it, she asked, "Any ID, ma'am?"

The girl glared up at the troopers and angrily replied, "In my purse in the front seat."

Sergeant Carver slammed the door shut and looked at her counterpart. "Found some rocks on her."

Haden nodded her head. "I need to test this powder."

"Alright. I'll run her information through." Ashley briefly watched Haden go to the trunk of the car to run the test on the white powder that Tyrone Wilks was carrying on him. Ashley however went back to the car, opened the passenger's door, and pulled out the small wallet from the woman's purse. She discovered a driver's license then grabbed her mic on her right shoulder. "This is Sean Six."

"Go ahead, Six."

"I need a 10-27."

"10-27. Go ahead."

"Name is Amanda Lockley. License number H-524-221-076-088."

"10-12, Six."

Ashley waited for them to run the information through. She flipped the card over for a second then looked back at the front. She then sensed Haden coming up along side of her. "What were the results?"

"Positive," answered Haden. "Bagged them. You have the rocks?"

The sergeant pulled them from her chest pocket on her shirt. She handed them to Haden.

Corporal Haden studied the three rocks of cocaine in her hands. She then hurried the dispatcher come over the radio.

"Sean Six, Code 5."

Ashley touched her mic's button and replied, "Six, Code 5, go ahead."

"I'm showing a warrant on your party, Lockley, Amanda K. date of birth four five of seventy-five, showing physical as white female, five foot, two, brown and brown, break-"

Carver tapped her mic button and replied, "Go ahead."

"Out of Easton. Failure to appear on narcotics charge. Two thousand dollar bond."

Haden now took the license from Carver and scanned the information. She also listened to Carver and the dispatcher.

"Copy," replied Ashley, "Lockley is confirmed. I also need a 10-51, break-"

"Go ahead," answered the dispatcher.

Ashley leaned to her right some and read the mile marker ahead. "Route 50 north bound. Mile marker 102.3, break-"

"Copy. Go ahead."

Carver quickly walked to the rear of the vehicle. "Ford explorer, black, plate number LAT 221."

"Copy. 10-51 en route."

"10-4," answered Trooper Carver and she gazed over at Haden as she pressed the mic button once more. "10-19 barracks. 10-95."

"Copy, Six. 10-77?"

The sergeant mentally calculated the time in her head. "Five minutes."


When the sergeant finally finished with her radio call, she saw that Haden had collected the purse. She then questionably looked at her superior for an answer.

"Let's go," stated Trooper Carver.

Haden nodded her head but handed the purse to the other trooper.

The sergeant grabbed it and went to the passenger's side of the patrol car. Just as she and the corporal got settled into the car, they spotted the tow truck arriving. She was remotely surprised by the speedy response of the tow truck but she was grateful too.

Corporal Haden backed the car up some down the shoulder then found a break in traffic. She pulled onto Route 50 but took an official turnaround to head back to the barracks.

For a moment, Ashley stole a look at the other trooper and she realized they'd work everything out perfectly. She now realized that maybe it wouldn't be too hard to work with Corporal Haden. She wasn't going to hold her breath though on that concept considering it probably was only a matter of time before they'd disagree on something. Yet so far today wasn't turning out too bad. She could only imagine how tomorrow would be with the corporal.


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