Stefan was out of the office most of the rest of afternoon, following up on new leads in one of his cases, trying to get it wrapped up today if he could, so that tomorrow he could focus on the other one. He wasn’t really good at dividing his attention, but he always did what he had to do, and he’d only gripe out it if someone brought it up. Things were looking good, however, and he was able to bring in a suspect and get enough out of her in the interrogation to charge her. Even better, it was still early enough that he could have dinner at a decent time tonight, something that hadn’t happened in close to a week. He was on his way out of the station when someone called out to him.
“Hey! Hey, you! Uh, Stefan!”
Stefan stopped and turned his head, spotting the redheaded boy from yesterday, from this afternoon. Jack B. Nimble.
“You again,” said with a sigh. “What is it this time?”
“Well, hello to you,” Jack said. “In a hurry? Fine, just go. It’s not like I was waiting for you or anything.”
“Jesus, were you out where the whole day?” Stefan asked.
“Of course not,” Jack said, rolling his eyes. “I have better things to do, you know. I came back when I was finished.”
“Finished with what?” Stefan asked, cocking an eyebrow.
“Things,” Jack said. “It doesn’t matter. You’re here now. Let’s do more things.”
“You bored again?” Stefan asked.
“I usually am.”
“Well, I was gonna get something to eat,” he said. “I guess it wouldn’t hurt if you came along.”
“Great!” Jack said grinning. “Let’s take the trolley!”
Stefan was already digging for his keys.
“The trolley? My car’s right here.” He nodded to where it was parked.
“But I’ve never taken the trolley,” Jack said.
“Some other time,” Stefan said, a bit too hungry to argue, unlocking the passenger side for Jack.
“So we’ll do this again?” Jack asked as Stefan went around to his side.
“Yeah, yeah, sure,” Stefan waved off. “Let’s just go.”
“Christ, you sure can eat,” Stefan said as Jack shoveled in Stefan’s untouched fries after having already cleaned his own plate.
“In times of plenty,” Jack said. “Not that there are a lot of those. Cops don’t usually take me out to dinner. I should hang around police stations more often.”
“Listen, kid,” Stefan said seriously. “I’m all right if you want to, you know, be friends, but that doesn’t mean you can just hang around my workplace. You wouldn’t want me to get in trouble , would you?”
“I guess not,” Jack said. “What’s so great about having a job?”
“Well, it means I can eat like this,” Stefan pointed out, taping his fork against the rim of his plate. “You could stand to get one yourself, you know.”
“Please,” Jack said, rolling his eyes. “Do you have any idea how impossible it is to get a job without a permanent address? Besides, would you feel safe being out on the street all night with a week’s worth of pay in your pocket?”
“That’s true,” Stefan said. “There’s no way you’d have enough to open a bank account.” He leaned back in his seat and crossed his arms, eyes drifting up in thought. “Well, I’m sure it can be done. You’d just need someone to…. No, no one’s going to lend you the money to open an account. Even if they had you sign a contract, you could easily just disappear. And you’ve got no reason to trust anyone to hold onto your money for you until you’ve got enough….”
“Hey, look, don’t worry about it,” Jack said. “I’m fine with the way things are.”
“No, yeah, I’m sure you are,” Stefan, shaking his head to bring him back to the moment. He signaled for the waitress. “Check, please!”
It was a few days until Stefan saw Jack again, but the timing was good. If everything went well, he’d wrap up his current case this morning and be able to dedicate the afternoon to the corresponding paperwork. No one would mind if he got it in a bit late; he usually did.
Jack was seated on a bench eating a hotdog, which made Stefan feel a little better about the delay; at least he knew the kid could eat on his own. He pulled over the car, and leaned across the seat to roll down the passenger window.
“Hey, kid!” he called, and Jack met his eyes. “Are you busy today?”
“I don’t think so,” Jack said.
“Good. Meet me at the station at one-thirty. We’ve got things to do.”
“What kind of things?” Jack asked.
“Things,” Stefan said. “Don’t be late.” He pulled back onto the road to make his way to his location.
Stefan wrapped up his case within a few hours, and started his paperwork, trying his best to look busy until the appointed time. He didn’t want to get stuck with a new case just yet, not until he’d taken care of things with the kid. At one-thirty he made a general declaration to the office that he was going for lunch, and he stepped out of the building, finding Jack sitting on the hood of his car.
“Jack,” Stefan greeted, getting his keys. Jack jumped down.
“Stefan. Where are we going?”
It was a quick drive to the quite neighborhood where Stefan had grown up. His parents’ yard was well-kept, the overall appearance of the house properly maintained. Stefan parked in the street, then motioned for Jack to get out of the car as he did the same.
“Who lives here?” Jack asked as they made their way up the walk.
“My parents,” Stefan said. He rang the bell and a moment later his mother answered.
“Steffypie!” she greeted, smiling broadly and going straight for a hug. “I didn’t expect to see you here. Aren’t you working?”
“I’m on my lunch,” Stefan said as his mother moved back from the hug. “This is my friend Jack.” Jack waved at Mrs. Bekowsky shyly. “He’s got a job interview, but he doesn’t have the right clothes for it. Do you think we can help him out?”
“Job interview?” Jack repeated, but Stefan ignored him.
“Oh, I’m sure we can put something together,” Mrs. Bekowsky said, smiling warmly at Jack. “Come on in, you two.”
They went to Stefan’s old room, which still looked like someone might live there. She opened the closet and began searching through it.
“Let’s see, now. I’m sure some of your old Sunday clothes…. Ah! How about these?” She grabbed a dress shirt and a pair of dress pants, holding them out to Jack. “Would these fit?”
“So who is this boy?” Mrs. Bekowsky asked as she served Stefan a sandwich, cut in half. After some arguing, Jack had been convinced to use the shower. “I don’t remember you being friends with any teenage boys.”
“He’s just a kid,” Stefan said with a shrug. “He needs a little help getting started, that’s all.” His mother sat down across from him, smiling fondly.
“That’s wonderful, ukochany. I’m sure it’ll work out.”
Jack shifted uncomfortable in his seat and tugged at the collar of Stefan’s old shirt.
“So what’s this job interview?” he asked again.
“Well, it’s not really an interview,” Stefan admitted. “Not officially. But I’ll take care of it. I’ll do the talking, and you just do what they tell you, all right?”
They arrived back at the police station, and Jack followed Stefan downstairs to a door marked “Records and Identification.” Stefan stopped and looked at Jack.
“Are you ready, kid?” he asked.
“Great,” Stefan said. He pushed the door open. “Hello, ladies,” he greeted the women with headsets on, walls of files all around them. “I’m not interrupting anything, am I?”
A few of the women went back to what they were doing, but one who was currently unoccupied stood up and walked over.
“Detective,” she greeted. “How can I help you?”
“Hello, Elaine. I was wondering if you had any openings.”
“Looking for a career change?” Elaine asked, arching an eyebrow.
“Not for me,” Stefan said, pushing Jack forward. “For the kid.”
Elaine looked at Jack, then back up at Stefan with a questioning expression. Stefan nodded at her unspoken question—“are you serious?” –then looked at Jack again.
“How old are you, sweetheart?” she asked him.
“Eighteen,” Jack said.
“And what’s your name?”
“Nimble. Jack B. Nimble.”
Elaine looked at Stefan again.
“Now I know this is a joke,” she said.
“Elaine, come with me, please. Jack, wait here.” He motioned for Elaine to step out into the hall and when she did so, he followed, closing the door behind her.
“Honestly, Stefan, are you trying to embarrass me in front of my girls?”
“He’s an orphan, Elaine. They have names like that. Does Oliver Twist sound familiar?”
“An ophan? That’s terrible!”
“And homeless, at that. We can fix this. Will you help me?”
“He needs an address, Stefan,” Elaine said regretfully.
“So give him mine. He can’t get a place without a job. You can’t keep a job from him because he doesn’t have a place.”
“Well…” she said thoughtfully. “I suppose I could do it. But I want to meet with you in a few days to talk about how he’s doing. Alone? Over dinner?”
“Uh, yeah, sure,” Stefan said nodding. “That sounds great. Thanks, Elaine. Thanks so much.”
“Let’s go on back inside,” she said. “We can tell him.” She reached for the door knob.
“Oh, wait,” Stefan said, and she paused. “Could you pay him monthly? I mean, you could change it down the line, but it’s really important that his first check is for a month of work.”
“Um, all right,” Elaine said, uncertainly. “Are you sure that’s okay? Wouldn’t he need the money sooner?”
“It’ll he fine,” Stefan said. “I can take care of things in the meantime. Is that all right?”
“Yes. Yes, I can do that.” She opened the door then. Jack was leaning on a filing cabinet and stood up when Elaine addressed him. “Jack, you’re hired. We’ll fill out your paperwork and I’ll give you a basic rundown of what we do here, and you can start tomorrow. How does that sound?”
“Uh, sure. Sounds good.”
“Great.” Elaine turned to Stefan. “Will that be all, Detective?”
“That’s all,” Stefan said. He leaned in the doorway and waved at Jack. “Come see me upstairs when you’re done here.”
“Yeah, all right.”
“Oh, Elaine, one more thing. Keep him away from Captain Donnelly.”
“What?” Elaine asked, looking surprised.
“I’ll see you later, kid!” he called into the room. “Good luck!” Then he was on his way upstairs.
That had taken a bit longer than Stefan had hoped, but no one seemed to have missed him in the office, so he just focused on catching up on his work. A bit over an hour later Jack, appeared at the door of the office. Stefan noticed him waving for attention, and put down his paperwork.
“Step outside with me,” he said, lighting a cigarette and passing Jack on his way out. “All right,” he said, once they were out the door. “How was it?”
“It was fine,” Jack said. “I think I can handle it. But why’s she paying me once a month?”
“Because your first check has to be big enough for you to open a bank account,” Stefan explained. “When you get it, you let me know and I’ll take you to get it set up.” He gestured with the cigarette in his hand. “Now, there are still a few things to take care of. You have to look presentable for work, which means you have to have clean clothes. I can get you some more from the house, but you need a place to stay so that you have somewhere to keep them and to get them washed. If you don’t have anywhere else, then—”
“It’s okay,” Jack interrupted, looking down with some embarrassment. “I have some places. I can figure it out.”
“Well, if you’re sure. Either way, you know how to get a hold of me if you need me. Just do me a favor and make sure you show up.”
“I will,” Jack said quietly. He looked up then. “Why are you doing this?”
“Because I’m a very big fan of sleeping, and this will help me do that.”
“Right,” Jack said, looking down again, but smiling lightly this time.
“Well, I have to get back to work kid,” Stefan said, clapping Jack on the shoulder. “I’ll see you around the station, huh?”
“Yeah,” Jack said with a nod. “I’ll see you.”