Winding down

“That is that.”

Robin’s energy finally had an outlet. “Are you finally done with the papers?”

Jay nodded. “That I am. The case is over- that and all the consequences.” His desk was cleared, for the first time in a long time. Seeing that much of the surface wood felt strange.

“Celebrations then?”

Jay steeled himself. “Very well. What did you-”

He stopped himself as Robin placed a bottle of sparkling wine on the empty desk between them. “I presumed this would go over well with you.”

Relaxing in his chair at the same time as staring bewildered at his friend, Jay chuckled.

“You constantly surprise me.”

“You’ve been tired,” Robin went on, pulling a couple of glasses out and beginning to pour, “so I thought we could celebrate while staying in this time.”

Jay took the proffered glass and rose it in front of him. “Cheers, Robin. Until our next mystery.”

“For all our mysteries!” Robin added.

Glasses clinked together and the both took a drink.

Another magazine

“Look at this one, Jay. Doesn’t that make you hungry?”

Jay entertained the thought of not looking at all, but in the end glanced over the magazine Robin had been pouring through. “For goodness’ sake. Stop looking at food magazines. You’re insufferable.” Partly because Jay could have cared less. Normally. Partly because he was afraid one day all of Robin’s metabolism might leave him a completely round human being if he continued.

Partly because this was actually making him hungry.

Once a year

The mail was stuffed full with envelopes. Jay struggled to get them out without crumpling any of them, wondering how they had gotten in there in the first place and how this possibly could have happened. Every single envelope had Robin’s name as the intended.

“Why do you have your personal mail being sent here?” he demanded, dropping the avalanche on Robin’s desk.

Robin jumped, then began to look through them. “I didn’t! I’m sorry Jay, this happens all the time. I suppose the mail person decided to put the rest of it here, instead of having me come to the post. They never can fit all of this in my mailbox at home.”

It was an answer that bewildered him. “How often does this happen?”

“Once a year. My family, my extended family, all of my friends and their friends… It’s my birthday, you know.”

“No, I didn’t.” Jay gave him a look. “You didn’t mention.” Which was odd. Jay would’ve been certain Robin might use his birthday as an excuse to go out for some meal.

Robin was unaffected by his forgetfulness. “Well it is!”

Jay sighed, sitting down in his chair. “You know this many people?”

The shorter man nodded. “Not all very well, but it’s just the way birthdays are celebrated back home. I send out letters all the time too, just for that.”

Now that he mentioned it, Jay did remember seeing Robin writing letters often, though he hadn’t thought it was that often. “Well… happy birthday, Robin.”

Robin beamed at him. “Thank you Jay.”

Jay considered the current contents of his wallet. “Did you have dinner plans this evening? Or would you like to make some?”

The expression on his partner’s face was the only answer Jay needed.


“I can’t believe you’ve never had fondue before.”

Jay sighed. “If I had a case for every time you’ve said that.”

Robin frowned. “I’ve never said that before.”

“Not fondue specifically, no, but you say that about many other foods.”

Jay didn’t have the heart (or the energy) to tell Robin he simply wasn’t as interested in food as he was. It should have been obvious, but Robin didn’t seem to notice that others lacked the same intense interest. Jay lacked a general interest these days in food. As long as it was edible, it was fine.

“Well, once again, we’re going to fix this.” Robin watched as the pot was placed before them with a look Jay could only compare with his feelings for his paycheck. He held enough restraint to offer Jay the first dip.

Jay speared a bread with his proffered fork. “I submit to your wisdom on this.”

He was only partially sardonic. That in mind, he submerged the bread in cheese.

Maybe it just likes him

“Have you read the news?” Robin asked.

Jay gave him a look that could have been described only as disparaging. “What sort of investigator do you take me for? Of course I have.”

“Oh, good. Do you know if there was anything about the Monsoon Pendant again?”

“If there was, of course I would know, because I read-” Jay stopped himself. “What do you mean, anything about the Monsoon Pendant again?”

Robin cleared his throat and placed the item on Jay’s desk. “I think I have a case for us.”

Jay really hated this pendant.

Time to eat pie

“Jay? Do you know where-”

“Bottom left cupboard by the sink,” Jay interrupted, not looking up from his papers.

Robin stared at him for a moment. “You didn’t even wait to hear what I was going to-”

“Bottom left cupboard by the sink.”

It appeared that Jay was in one of those moods. Nevertheless, Robin went to check in the place Jay had told him to, finding that, lo and behold, what he had been looking for was indeed there.

“How did you do that? What if I was going to ask about-”

“Right side of the pantry, bottom shelf.”

“How!” Robin squeaked, running off to the pantry to determine Jay was correct again.

“Have you developed mind reading powers while I wasn’t paying attention?”

Jay snorted. “No. I simply know that I cleaned the entire office last weekend and moved everything, so you don’t know where anything is. You told me you wanted pie, of course you’d want the location of the dishes and the pie.”

“I’m not that easy to predict!”

“If I had a case for every time you claimed that, I would have too many to work on.”

In a huff, Robin went to eat pie.

Evading the waterfront

Robin couldn’t wait for the fireworks, which was why he was surprised when Jay said he wasn’t coming.

“But, fireworks!” Robin protested. “It happens once a year. Right over the waterfront! Come with me!”

Jay shivered, shaking his head. “I’ll pass. I have work to do.”

“Oh no you don’t! You aren’t using work as an excuse to miss the festivities!”

Jay scowled. “I don’t like fireworks, Robin. Go. Do whatever you want with your time off, that’s your prerogative. As is mine.”

Robin sighed. “You can’t work during your time off all the time. We don’t have a case!”

“I have paperwork to file.”

That was always Jay’s excuse. Robin wasn’t even sure what all of the paperwork was. Still, Robin held back for a moment. “Of course. Well, I’ll bring you something back from the festival.”

Jay nodded, waving him off with an absent look in his eyes. Robin began to plan how he would get Jay down to the waterfront.

When he returned that evening though, the office was dark. Confused, Robin let himself in. “Jay?” He searched around and found Jay in a backroom, hands over his head. “Jay?”

Jay jumped, looking at Robin with bewilderment. “Music doesn’t drown it out, it just makes it more startling.” Jay’s voice wavered and it sounded as though he were about to ramble. “It pierces through everything, Robin, everything. I hate this. I can’t-”

The sound of another display from the bay sounded off and Jay bent over, placing his head between his knees.

Robin forgot what his plan had been. He walked over, sitting down in the chair next to Jay. “Next year, let’s take a trip,” he said. “Where have you wanted to go? I’ve heard that Kwall has this restaurant that’s renowned throughout-”

Jay laughed, a weak sound, but a relieved one nonetheless. “Thank you, Robin.”

It wasn’t as fun as if he had gone to the festival, but in Robin’s mind there was no decision to be made about where he should have been that night.

Missing Persons

“How can I help you?” Jay asked, opening the door for his latest client. The girl who entered looked familiar, with her rodential features. Jay searched his mind for the correct moment. Ah, the reason it took him so long was because of how dark it had been when he had met her, how dark it was when he went to see her the second time. “Vlora, wasn’t it?”

She appeared taken aback, flushing slightly under the thin coat of hair that covered her cheeks. “Y-yes.”

“Come in and sit down. I’m afraid my assistant isn’t here right now, so I will have to leave for a moment to prepare the tea myself. Would you like tea? Or coffee?”

Vlora took a few steps in, looking from his face to her feet on the floor. “Actually… just water right now, if that’s all right.”

“Water? Of course. I’ll be just a moment.” He returned with her water, seeing that she had set herself in the correct place, though she seemed uncomfortable with it. “Here you are. Now, how can I help you, Vlora?”

She held the glass with both of her hands, trying not to chew at her lower lip. “I-I don’t got much to pay with, but…”

Jay waved that off. “Tell me what the case is, Vlora. We can talk about that after.”

Vlora nodded, a few too many times than she should have. “My sis’s gone missing. People say she’s left the city like she’d always say she wanted to do, but I don’t think so. I think she’s kidnapped.”

Jay sat down across from her. “One moment. I do need to call my assistant in for this.”

She swallowed. “Is… is there something wrong?”

Jay shook his head. “Well, your sister is missing. But I’m taking the case, so I’d like him to be here.”

If there was one thing Jay wouldn’t turn down, it was a missing persons case.

After the first case

“Hello there! Jay, was it?”

Jay paused, a moment before entering his office. There was that strange man, who had somehow managed to crack open the case of the Monsoon Pendant with what had appeared like sheer luck. It had been been obnoxious and a great relief. Sometimes, in the path of being a private eye, taking luck where it came was the best thing to do. However, putting certain common sense on the wayside was a bit grating.

“Robin. I’m surprised to see you here.”

“Are you? I know I am! I was surprised that when I looked around, I found your office not all that far away from where my apartment is! What were the chances?”

Jay looked over at the nearest residency complex. “People live there, so it only makes sense that I would meet one of them on a case at some point.”

“That’s true!” Robin had an everlasting energy that Jay wasn’t sure made him tired or made him want to get moving. “Doing anything interesting now? Or is that classified? Everyone works a different way-”

“I simply have some paperwork I need to get to. It was nice to see you again, Robin, but I must finish up some organization.”

Robin probably had more to say, but Jay made his way inside before the other man could speak. He had the feeling he would be seeing him again.

Whether he wanted to or not.

Taking another chance

Robin wasn’t a very strong fellow, but he liked to think he was smart. That was what tipped his hand into trying to figure out how to stop the compactor from crushing his friend.

In times like these, having a manual around would have been great. As there wasn’t one obvious in the immediate vicinity, Robin turned his attention to the controls themselves, hoping that something about them would seem natural. They didn’t. Robin tried to read over what words were available to him now. He knew the definitions of most of them and could guess at some of the acronyms. There wasn’t a “switch off” button or lever or anything though, and the rest of it didn’t make sense to someone as out of context as he was.

He’d already taken a chance in deciding to work on turning this off. There was little he could do but continue on that path and take a few more chances. Really, he couldn’t make it worse. Unless he did something, Jay would die.

One minute. If it started, would he still have some time to shut it off? Robin doubted it would move quickly. The machine was huge. Reminded him of some movie, with main characters trapped inside with a lot of junk. He couldn’t think of it now though. He couldn’t really think. His intelligence wasn’t going to help much if he couldn’t use it!

Robin tried a few things, changing what the screen would tell him. Turning something off should have been easy, there should always be a big button. His heart pounded so fast in his chest that it actually hurt.

“Activation canceled.”

The rumbling sounds began to slow down, a reversal of the noise that he had long since started blocking out. Robin blinked at the screen, then ran for the panel. While he now had a lot more time to figure out how to open it, the feeling didn’t translate to his body and he rushed through the process anyway. The stench of the dump assaulted him further when he finally got the hatch open enough for a person to pass through. “Jay!” he called again.

Maybe it was the sounds before that kept him from hearing a response, because now he could hear Jay clearly. “Robin? Thank god. Are you all right?” Had Jay been conscious the entire time? It was so dark.

Robin laughed, hoping it only sounded weak to himself. “Of course I’m fine, Jay! Hang on, I haven’t found a rope or anything yet. I’ll have you out of there in a jiffy!”

While his hands still shook, Robin had Jay out of there within ten minutes and so felt much better.

Not a situation he wanted to repeat though.