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When Donut Met Button
Last modified May 25, 2009
by Amy R.
G. Please see the endnote for disclaimers, credits, and all that good stuff. This fanfiction is a tribute to the television series Forever Knight.
The streetlamps switched off as Tracy walked across the parking lot into the Tim Hortons on Spadina. The sun had taken over lighting the city, and she needed caffeine to get her through a few errands before she could blink out like the lamps. Her body was not taking naturally to the night shift.
Not that she could blame her fatigue entirely on circadian rhythms, she admitted to herself. The mess with Bruce had wrung her out. Why did the first homicide case after the "Vudu" bombings have to dig around in her family issues? The former had been deeply traumatic for everyone at her new precinct, and the latter had been pretty darn fraught for her, personally.
Breathing in the cozy aromas of fresh coffee and donuts, Tracy was surprised to find a line at the counter. The man in front of her seemed vaguely familiar, doubtless someone she had stood behind before, so she asked, "It isn't time for 'roll up the rim to win' again, yet, is it?"
"Nah." He turned and smiled. The man wore a grey overcoat and a brown suit with wide lapels that screamed in a fashion agony even she could hear. She squinted, trying to focus on his face, but her eyes kept dropping back to his suit. "The next marketing event is months away. Everyone just seems to want a little taste of heaven this morning."
"Like you every morning, eh, Donut?" joked the woman behind the counter, without losing a beat in serving her current customer.
"Hey, after a couple of years on the night shift, eternity is hardly enough time to get reacquainted with the glory that is pastries fresh from the oven." Donut shrugged in Tracy's direction. "The nickname's from years ago, when I was a patrol officer at the 27th. The wife got me onto all sorts of healthy stuff after that, but there's a point where it stops making an impact, you know?"
"Oh, are you a cop?" Tracy asked, relieved. One part of her brain recognized this man, but another part kept refusing to share the evidence. Her inability to complete the circuit set her teeth on edge.
"Used to be." Donut stepped closer to the counter as the line moved. "I didn't figure I was ready to retire, but nobody asked me. Can't complain about the new gig, though. How about you?" He looked Tracy up and down, and she had the uncomfortable feeling he saw more than the tall, thin blonde in her mirror. "You're on the force, aren't you?"
"At the 96th. I'm--" she hesitated. Just for this moment, after her shift and before her coffee, she would rather not be Commissioner Vetter's daughter, Detective Knight's partner, Bruce Spencer's arresting officer. She put out her hand. "Button. Call me Button, Donut."
"As in 'cute as a'?" He raised his eyebrows as he shook her hand. "Or as in 'finger on the'?"
"Oh, I like that one!" She laughed. "So how long were you on night shift?"
"Three years, give or take. I started as the day guy on a shift-break hand-off, but you know something always ends up giving in that scenario."
"Not enough seniority to keep days?" Tracy asked sympathetically.
"I suppose I could have used some more brownie points with my captain," Donut answered. "But no, really, my partner was a night person, and I just learned to take him the way he came." He was next at the counter. "You're a double-double, right? Want to split some Timbits?"
"Yes, two sugars, two creams. How did you know? And no, thank you." Tracy shook her head. "Really, I just came in to grab a coffee and get back on the road. Laundry, groceries, and bills have to fit in somewhere."
"You're off shift." Donut waved away her objections and paid for two extra large double-doubles and a pack of twenty donut holes. "Spare an old cop a chance to relive his glory days, huh?"
Tracy tried once again to focus on his face, but positive identification refused to register; that wasn't like her at all. Maybe the coffee would help. "You're hardly 'old.'"
"I don't have anywhere near eight centuries under my belt yet, sure." He picked up the box of donut holes and led the way to a table by the front window. Tracy followed with the coffees, and Donut handed her a napkin. "So the 96th, huh? You guys caught that bomber."
"After losing two of our own, yeah." Tracy sipped her double-double. "Heck of a time to be starting at a new precinct."
"Oh, man, yeah. I can see that." Donut popped a chocolate Timbit into his mouth and chewed thoughtfully. "You're just getting to know people for the first time, and they're all knocked off-kilter with anger and grief and guilt. I know how that goes. It takes a long time to settle. They're probably not cutting you much slack."
"I'm not asking for any slack!" Tracy straightened her back.
"Didn't mean to say you were." Donut raised his hands. "Just that they probably don't have any to give right now, and that's tough, Button. When I got assigned to my last partner, he did not want me. No, nada, nyet. I think he would have taken anyone else on the force, given the choice. What he really wanted was to work alone."
Tracy wondered whether Nick might prefer to work alone. It had never occurred to her before. "Was that allowed?"
"Not officially. But he and Captain Stonetree had a -- let's call it a unique arrangement." Donut rolled his eyes. "Eventually even he had to come in from the cold, though, when he snagged a case under the unblinking gaze of the fourth estate. It took a while, but we worked things out."
"How? I mean, how did you get him to accept being saddled with you against his wishes?"
"Time, mainly. I know that's not much use to you right now, but mutual respect is mainly a matter of shared experience." Donut bit into a cake Timbit. "After a few months, this one case got down-and-dirty personal. Someone from my past came after me. Committed two murders on the way. I was frantic to go after him."
Glancing out the window at the morning people, Tracy felt surreal, as if she were mixing their world and hers. "What happened?"
"My partner saved my life at least twice that week. Now, he would have done that for anyone. It's the job, and it's his personality. Don't get me started on his personality!" Donut washed down another Timbit with some coffee. "No, the thing was, after it was all over, I doubted myself. Who I was, what I did, whether any of it mattered. My partner sat me down and told me I was a good cop. It wasn't some platitude. By then, he knew me. He'd read my files. I knew he was right, but hearing it . . . we didn't just work together, after that; we had our ups and downs, but we were real partners."
"Funny thing, but my partner told me that earlier this week -- that I'm a good cop. He doesn't really know me yet, though. He's a bit too fast off the mark."
"I doubt it." Donut wiped off his hands with a napkin. Then, he picked up a glazed Timbit, broke it, and offered her half, as if he thought portion size were the reason she wasn't eating. "I think your partner means what he says, and knows what he's talking about. You could do worse than to trust him."
As Tracy accepted the half donut hole, the man handing it to her came into focus at last, as if the two parts of her brain had clicked back together. He looked better than any of his photos, in some way she could not easily boil down, but without a doubt this was Nick's previous partner, Detective Don Schanke. "Impossible!"
He laughed. "With all you've seen lately, you pick this to doubt?"
"Are you a vam--" She stumbled over the word.
"No! Good gravy." He hitched his thumb toward the bright daylight flooding in the huge window. "You're a better detective than that. Knight wouldn't have said it if it weren't true. Trust me: he's not so generous with his pats on the back that you can afford to brush them off."
"Doctor Lambert didn't make a mistake identifying your body."
"Nope, she didn't. She doesn't miss much; you'll want to think about that." Donut -- Schanke -- stood. "But here's the thing. I was a good cop. You are a good cop. Is Knight? If so, he deserves to be told, too. A soul doesn't live on donut holes alone. He's hanging by a thread, Vetter. You could be the one to give him a hand up to solid ground."
"Why don't you?"
"I did, in my day. It's your day now." Schanke sealed the top of the Timbits pack. "I can see you aren't going to eat any of these, so you won't mind if I take them to some people who will, right?"
Tracy shook her head. "What are you?"
"A friend of a friend." He saluted her with the box of donut holes.
Finishing her coffee, Tracy watched the latest wrinkle in her reality walk down the sidewalk and out of sight.
Mr. Parriot and Mr. Cohen created Forever Knight. The Sony Corporation owns it. I intend no infringement. Please support all authorized Forever Knight endeavors! (If you don't yet own all three seasons on DVD, get those pennies together!)
Characters and situations in this fantasy fan story are entirely fictional. Any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental. (Vampires don't exist. Timbits do, though.)
Episodes. First-season's "Hunters" is the Schanke episode referenced here, the one that names him "Donut" and has Nick praise him as a "good cop." Third-season's "Outside the Lines" is the Tracy/Button/"good cop" equivalent. Schanke dies in "Black Buddha, Part 1," of course.
Donuts. According to Wikipedia, Canadians eat more donuts per capita than any other nation. Do I believe Wikipedia? Occasionally. ;-)
Inspiration. I wanted to post something new on the thirteenth anniversary of the first airing of "Last Knight," but hadn't left myself much time. Shelley requested something with Schanke and Tracy together. All honor to her for that impossible, excellent prompt.
Beta-Readers. My thanks to Elisabeth and Amilyn for undertaking to check over the story at the eleventh hour, the evening before the morning on which I wanted to post. The story benefitted from their improvements, and I am grateful for their time and help! The remaining errors are of course exclusively mine.
Timestamps & No Archiving. I wrote "When Donut Met Button" on May 17, 2009, posted it to fkfic-l on May 18, 2009, and archived it to my own site on May 24, 2009. You're welcome to link to it here. Please do not archive or re-post it.
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