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"Ms. Penney!" called the stern, broad-shouldered woman clad in a grey suit as she strode down the crowded hall. JC's head spun.

"The warden. Christ, what d'ya do?" asked Cheyenne, letting her dirty-blonde hair swing like a cape she could hide behind. She leaned across JC's locker door and kicked snow off her running shoes with the thunk of metal. JC blew a pfft of air through loose lips and shook her head.

"Ms. Penney. There's an officer here for you." The warden jabbed a thumb over her collar at Mac.

"Did ya totally have to trash my rep?" JC hissed at Mac.

"Can't be avoided," she muttered in response. She touched JC's elbow. JC tossed her books and slammed the locker. She kicked the door. It sprang back and she slammed it again. With raw hands, she threaded her lock through the prongs and jerked it closed.

"Hey Missy! That's school property," the Warden scolded. She turned and marched towards her office. JC found herself flanked, parting the sea of students before them.

"And good luck with that!" shouted Cheyenne at JC's receding back. JC stuck a hand in the air. Friends! Who needs 'em?

JC wrapped her floppy coat over the baggy sweats and oversized hoodie as she hopped into the unmarked car.

"That was very uncool. Hope it's life or death," said JC. "What's up?"

Mac skidded the video recorder across the seat to her. "Buckle up. We'll be an hour."

"And that's where?"

"The city. East end." They fell silent for the tedious drive. JC sank into her clothes and let her eyelids drop.

When JC opened her eyes, Mac was weaving the car through traffic. Alternating lanes stopped to let pedestrians cross. Spontaneous left-turners angled across several lanes at a time. Man, she's got a quick grip, thought JC, watching Mac spin the steering wheel. "We in a hurry?"

"Yes, they're waiting on us. I think this guy Beans still lives with his mother."

"I see. And we don't want to give the old lady a heart attack?"

"Not good for police service reviews. We'll be joining detectives from the Eastern Avenue Division. There they are," said Mac, jutting her chin at a dingy sedan parked by the curb. She pulled up behind the other unmarked car and stepped out. "Safety first. You need to stay in here so just crack the window and shoot."

JC eased the passenger window down several inches and poked the lens out. She hit the red button and the video camera hummed. She watched the tubby cop swipe at his forehead with a palm as he chugged his way up the brownstone steps to the green door. Mac's bony shoulders moved in unison with Tubby's. His gut almost touched the door knob. He fingered his badge as the wooden door opened. Through the lens, JC watched a kerchiefed woman with yellow skin and thin lips begin to flap her hands. Her eyes widened and her shrill words reached JC.

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