"You're late, James," grinned Jennifer, brandishing her watch in his face: ten past nine. Her office was its usual organised self, all papers deliberately filed in alphabetical order, whether they needed to be or otherwise. On the desk was a picture frame, complete with photograph of the superintendent and her brother on holiday in the Azores, the week before her brother's jetski accident rendered him disabled.
Wales grimaced at Jennifer's words. What would the punishment be this time? Five hundred press ups? He could barely do fifty usually and he'd just run the whole way from the jail. His face flashed with fear at the thought of it: the hours of hard excercise. He could just picture Jennifer whipping him as he strained through press up after press up. Not that she'd do that, she wasn't quite that hard a taskmaster. She noticed his expression and giggled.
"No press ups today James," she changed her giggle into a frown, "You've had a hard time from what I've heard. I was sorry to hear about your wife..." she reached out to pat him on the shoulder, but he moved away a little, subconsciously. She sat back down with a sigh, "Anyway James, you're probably wondering why we wanted you in particular for this mission,"
"The officer who came to recruit me for this scheme said it was because you all know I was the best officer on the force and you couldn't manage without me, Jenny," Wales grinned, hoping she'd remember, or if not, at least hoping she'd ignore his comment.
"Oh really?" Jenny laughed, "Well, Mr 'great detective', that's only part of the reason."
She slid a small piece of paper across the desk. Wales glanced was it, initially not seeing what it was of, but then something caught his eye and he looked back, staring into the eyes of a familiar face. A face he knew oh so well. A sharp exhalation surprised the Superintendent and she noticeably jumped back in her chair.
"Why have you given me a picture of Vallence?" Wales demanded angrily, standing up and leaning across the desk towards Jenny, fists clenched on the desk.
Jenny stared at him nervously, "He disappeared a week ago... I know it's hard James, but you knew him better than anyone else did..."
Wales gritted his teeth. As much as he hated it, he knew she was right. He'd never expected Mark's face to show up in his life again, not after that...
His train of thought was broken as Jenny's hand rested on his. He jumped back instinctively and slumped back into his chair. Jenny frowned sympathetically. Wales didn't want her sympathy though, he had too much on his mind.
"So... What do you want me to do?" Wales asked, resigning himself to his fate, "Where do I need to go?"
"Just go to his house for now, check around and see if there's any signs of where he might have gone or anything important he might have left behind," Jenny smiled sweetly, "And James... Don't let your emotions get the better of you on this case: you might end up back in the slammer if you do..." she sighed.
"No worries of that as long as that crook's not there," muttered Wales as he got up and left. Jenny watched him go out with a sad smile on her face: she hadn't wanted to call him in for this, it was too hard on him... too cruel...