Tyger staggered down the street in the sort of daze that only pain and adrenaline could provide. He had only one goal in mind for his destination, Saint Francis Hospital. By now, he had become numb to the pain in his left leg. The pain in his arm had long ago faded to become a dull throbbing feeling that mixed with the pain in the back of his head and the rest of his body. It had been some time since he had been this active, and, in a way, he could not say that he missed it very much.

With a low, pained groan, Tyger pulled himself up the flight of stairs that led to the main entrance of the hospital. He leaned heavily against a support near the door after stumbling past the automatic doors. He took several moments to catch his breath and proceeded to front desk with his unsteady swagger. He managed to reach the desk without much trouble and he leaned wearily upon it.

"Hey, there buddy." The young man at the front desk asked with obvious concern. "Are you alright?"

Tyger only grinned from ear to pointed ear; looking one all the world as if he were, indeed, the cat that ate the canary. "Yeah. I'm just fine...." There was a single beat of silence and then Tyger's eyes rolled up uncontrollably and he fell over onto his side in a heap.

The desk attendant was on his feet in a flash looking over the desk to see what had happened. "Holy SHIT! Get this guy to the ER stat!"

Tyger spent the next several hours in and out of consciousness. He had heard some of the things that the doctors said about his situation, mostly that he was 'another one', and that he had been lucky. Tyger found himself coming to full consciousness in a hospital bed with several IVs stuck into him. He groaned painfully as his mind began to take full stock of last night's events. His body was quite stiff, but the pain that he was expecting was not present, in fact it had been dulled to the point that it was barely registered above his stiffness. "What the fuck happened?" he groaned to himself. A rhetorical question, one that he mostly voiced to himself and that he did not expect an answer to.

"I don't know, but they brought you in here last night. You can be a rather loud sleeper, did'ja know that?"

The voice was feminine and quite familiar. Tyger blinked once and looked over to whom was speaking to him. His features softened into a slight smile. "I told you I would see you again." Tyger said grinning.

"Yeah, but you didn't have to become a patient to do it though! They do have visiting hours you know" Marcy returned with a laugh.

"I know" Tyger grinned. "But this way I don't have to worry about getting kicked out when visiting hours are over."

Marcy blinked and then started laughing. "You're a real piece of work. Y'know that?"

Tyger shrugged as much as his wounds and his stiff body would let him. "I've been called worse." He lay back onto his bed and looked up to the ceiling. "Some first date, huh?" Tyger muttered. Marcy just looked at Tyger, blushing. She looked like she was about to say something, but the words just would not come out. "I intended to ask you out... and what better time than now? Sure, you can refuse, but we would still be stuck here together like this until one of us gets out of here." Tyger continued, looking over to the stunned Marcy. "So we may as well make the most of it." he finished with a grin and a wink.

Marcy finally recovered herself and just laughed. "Alright. You have a point there. Fine. A first date it is then." Both of them were silent for several long minutes, when it was Marcy that finally broke the silence. "So... how did it go?"

Tyger shrugged, wincing slightly as he did so. "Ehh... it could have gone a lot better I guess. Though I think I should have gone with my first instinct and brought two guns with me...."

Marcy blinked and reached over and slapped Tyger's arm playfully. "No, silly, the prelim. How'd that go?"

"Oh... well... like I said, I should have brought two guns with me...." Tyger teased. Upon seeing the frown on Marcy's face, he smiled. "Seriously now, I really wish I had a gun in there with me. But, it really could have gone a lot better than it did... it could have gone a lot worse too." He sighed softly and closed his eyes for several long moments. "It was pretty brutal in there. I don't think I had felt so threatened and yet so helpless in my entire life. But, the Judge decided that there was no criminal intent."

"So what did they do to you?" Marcy asked with some concern in her voice.

"Busted me down a rank, gave me two weeks suspension. I also have to attend 'Anger Management' classes and do sixty hours of community service." Replied Tyger with a noticeably defeated tone in his voice. It was as if, something had come to mind that bothered him to a great degree.

"So, you're still with XSWAT then?" Marcy asked.

"Hmm?" Tyger looked over to Marcy, the next question apparently stirring him from whatever thoughts had brought about the sudden depression. "Oh, yeah, of course I am." He grinned. "I have a promise to keep to you and Cyndi. You really don't think that something like this would keep me from fulfilling that do you?"

"No... I guess not." Marcy said.

"I meant what I said back there Marcy." Tyger said, looking right at her, his expression serious. "I want you and Cyndi to try and join XSWAT, and I will do what I must to make that a reality."

"I know." Marcy returned. "And as soon as the docs release me, I'm going to give Alice a call."

"Good." Tyger said with a nod.

"Alright. Now, tell me about what in the hell you're doing here."

"I already told you." Tyger grinned. "I'm here because I wanted to see you."

"Yeah, I got that part. But I don't think you went and hurt your arm just to get in here to see me...."

"You're right!" Tyger interrupted with a grin. "I got shot in the leg too!"

Marcy gave Tyger a stunned, incredulous look. "You did what?"

"I told you. I got shot in the leg." Tyger answered pointing to his leg. Although it was hidden under a blanket, but with the bandaging and restraints that were placed upon it, it was obvious he had done something to the limb. "Got shot in the arm too." He continued, showing off the bandaged upper arm. "But that one only grazed me."

"Alright. But what in the hell were you doing?"

"Tracking some information down. Had to go to through the Steam Tunnels for it too...." Tyger frowned. "Those guys aren't the most cooperative bunch. And I thought I had a mean streak in me."

"You're not going to make this easy on me at all are you?"

Tyger grinned then. "Alright, alright. Fine, I'll give you all the gory details in a minute. I have to make a couple of phone calls first though...." Tyger reached over and fumbled with bedside telephone for a moment before managing to make the first of two phone calls...

The line picked up on the second ring in the Carpenter household. "Carpenter."

"Ahhh... yeah. Sorry about missing my community plant flower botany service thingy last night. I ran into a spot of trouble, and I found it very difficult to get away. Don't worry, I'm doing just fine."

"Fine?" The worry in Carpenter's voice was easy to pick up. "Where are you?"

"Where am I? Oh, at Saint Francis Hospital. You know, the same one where Marcy the Mechanic is at."

"And you're there, because... ?" Carpenter let the last syllable stretch into a question.

"Yeah, you could say I came by to visit her. Anyway, I'll be over to pick up where I left off as soon as the doctors release me. For some reason they want to keep me for observation or something like that."

There was a moment of silence on the line. "Don't go anywhere, Tyger. I'll be there stat."

"It's not like I have... ." The line went dead with a click. "... a choice." Tyger finished saying to the dial tone.

Hemelshot will actually get a call on his data-band later on in the morning on the same day.

"Hey Sarge. I ran into a spot of trouble last night trying to help out a friend of mine. I don't want to discuss what happened over this channel, so if you wouldn't mind coming to meet me so I can fill you in on what I found out. You may find it pretty interesting... "

After Tyger gave his room number, Hemelshot hung up without thinking about it. He was concentrating on the getting the barrel of his new pistol precisely right—a 12.5 mm shell wasn't something he wanted misfiring in his hand. You had to keep an eye on the temperature while rifling high-grade steel, because if you went too fast the metal heated up and...

... and Hemelshot's brain finally engaged. Tyger in trouble and calling from a hospital = Tyger was in action and got hurt = time to move. He blinked.

Hemelshot hit the emergency off switch to the shop's power, grabbed his gun from the cabinet by the door and was halfway to the garage before the rest of the message sank in. Tyger had called, indicating he may not be hurt—whoever he'd had trouble with may be the one hurt instead. That thought made Hemelshot wince—the last thing he needed was another incident involving Tyger. He'd thought the catharsis at the trial had changed things, but wasn't sure. Time to find out what the hell was going on.

"Saint Francis Hospital? This is Sergeant Hemelshot, XSWAT, I'm calling to inquire about one of my men—Corporal Tyger. I'd like to know if he's been admitted and what his condition is... ."

The hospital security gave him a momentary difficulty about carrying his sidearm into the hospital, but his XSWAT badge proved useful. Hemelshot takes a moment to listen at the door before entering, collecting his thoughts and preparing to deal with whatever Tyger had done this time. He took a deep breath, and entered.

Tyger's feline ears twitched shortly just before the door opened. As Hemelshot made his appearance, his countenance shifted to slight smirk, one that was both bemused, and almost proud. "Mornin' Sarge." Tyger grinned. "Dammed bastards did their damnedest to take me out, but I'm still breathing."

Hemelshot would notice several things almost immediately; first off, Tyger was lying in a hospital bed with an IV hooked up to his right arm. His left sported a wide, thick bandage. The standard-issue hospital blanket hid anything that may have happened below the waist. Next, he would notice that Nathan Carpenter was also present, and Tyger, had in fact been speaking with the Paladin just as he had come inside. The last thing that Hemelshot would notice would be the other occupant, an athletically built, yet very attractive young woman. He may or may not recognize her as Marcy the Mechanic. Strangely enough, she seemed to be on very good terms with both Tyger and Carpenter.

"Have a seat... both of you." Tyger said to both Carpenter and Hemelshot, his features losing any mirth as if someone suddenly flipped a switch. "You'll most likely want to be sitting down for this, so you may as well. Besides, it's sort of a long story... but at least hear me out before you have my ass Sarge."

Hemelshot looks at Tyger in and, upon his recognizing Hemelshot and having all four limbs, relaxes noticeably. He nods to Carpenter and the woman, and without a word, sits. His expression is mild amusement mixed with frustration, with his notepad out. A perceptive person would notice he turned his A/V unit on as he sat down, positioning himself in such a way to observe both Tyger and the doorway.

Tyger struggled a little to sit up, but the task was completed soon enough. He was about to begin when a doctor carrying two clipboards opened the door and stepped inside the room. The doctor looked over one of the clipboards, flipping through a couple of pages and then his attention fixed itself upon Marcy. "Everything seems to be in order here. I'm giving you a clean bill of health. You will be released at noon."

Tyger's grim expression lightened when the doctor gave Marcy the news of her impending discharge. "Remember what we talked about." he said with a wink.

The doctor paused for a moment, looked over Marcy's clipboard again, and scratched his head. Something did not add up right, but the medical scanners, physicians and trauma experts knew what they were talking about. He then turned to Tyger. "You're in remarkable condition considering what we had to pull out of your arm and leg as well as that blood loss from your injuries. However, we are going to want to keep you here for a few days to monitor your recovery. I must also add that I have never seen field dressings that well placed outside of a classroom. Tell me, what did you use on your wounds?"

Tyger gave the doctor an arrogant, though friendly grin. "Catgut." he waited for several beats, enjoying the confused expression on the doctor's face [and perhaps Hemelshot and Carpenters... but I will leave that up to them] for those precious moments before continuing. "Look, it takes a LOT of guts to put up with that kinda punishment and stitch yourself up without crying like a little bitch."

The doctor rolled his eyes and looked over the clipboard once more. "Right... ." the doctor was not terribly amused, but he at least admired the Clade's spirit. He turned from the group then and left the room, closing the door behind him.

Tyger then released a sigh and looked at Hemelshot, his face deadpan and serious just as suddenly as he was mirthful. "Sarge, I know how much you love to record everything. Why, I don't know. I'm starting to think its some fetish of yours or something. Anyway, what I have to tell you I would prefer remain off of the record... at least for the time being."

Hemelshot looked down at his recorder for a moment, and then turned off. He looks back up at Tyger with a mostly neutral, partly sheepish look. "Sorry, CYA Syndrome. Go ahead."

Tyger nodded slightly and took a long deep breath before beginning. "Alright... right after the trial, Leo told me that he wanted to speak with me about something. Now, I wasn't exactly sure what he wanted to speak with me about, but I had a few ideas. Anyway, I met with him on Wednesday. Some of what he had to tell me, I had a feeling he wanted to talk to me about anyway... .." Tyger did not look at any one in particular as he related his story, but considering his body language, he was having mixed feelings about the whole thing. "... it turned out that Leo is working on advancing Clade rights, and according to him, whether I like it or not, I am the highest profile Clade in this entire city. Of course, he wants my help in furthering his cause, and I am more than happy to do so for various reasons. Not the least of which involve him pulling my ass out of the fire at the trial. I wont bore you with all of the details that he gave me, but he has given his word that anyone that is in his group is clean and of moral character and he has assured me of this fact. I have no reason to disbelieve him either.

"Anyway, he's got a lot of folks in his group who also live in the Steam Tunnels. I think it is safe to assume that we all know people aren't supposed to be living down there, but there is not a whole lot anyone can do to stop them short of dragging them out by their ears. I don't know why they would want to live down there, but it's their choice. Normally, I don't think that this would be a problem... but Leo brought it to my attention that six of his people came up missing suddenly.

"He was not willing to give up their names to me when we spoke, which was fine. What he did tell me was that all six were Clades, all six worked for him or were in his Civil Rights group, all six lived in the Steam Tunnels, and all six vanished... or at least came up unaccounted for at the same time. Leo asked me to see if it was possible for me to dig up some information, go snooping around in the Steam Tunnels... totally off the record in any way, shape form or fashion. For some reason, he didn't want the regular Police or XSWAT running around down there.

Tyger paused for a moment and looked to Hemelshot. "Now, this is most likely where you're going to want to bust my ass... but at least try to see things from my perspective before writing me up again. Leo made the request, and I knew that I was going to be on suspension for two weeks. so I figured, 'what better way to collect the information that Leo wanted and keep it off the books at the same time than have a suspended officer go down there and look?' So yesterday, I started making some calls, asking some questions with some people that I know. The only real information that I got was that I needed to talk to a guy named Satori Hanzo who has connections with the Takanagi-Gumi, one of the groups or families of Yakuza that run around here.

"Last night, after getting all the info on how to find this guy I could, I went out to hunt him down. Now, you're prolly thinking I went out to just kick some heads in. well... you're partially right. I did end up having to kick more than a few heads in, but that's not because I wanted to. If they would have just answered my questions I wouldn't have had to hurt anyone" Tyger nonchalantly shrugged. "Anyway, I found out that Hanzo was hiding up in a place near the docks in Epsilon, so I went to talk to him about it."

Tyger sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose for a moment as if what he was about to tell everyone gave him a headache. "Turns out that Hanzo is running one hell of a smuggling ring out of that part of the city. I would like to bring it down, but doing so would bring the XSWAT down like nuke on that part of the city, and I'm not trying to piss off Leo in case anyone starts exploring the Steam Tunnels in that area. Besides... ." Tyger gave a rather self-satisfied grin. "... that place is shut down pretty good for the time being anyway whether or not they'll abandon it, I couldn't tell you, but it will take some time for them to get any operation up and running again."

"War stories aside" Tyger continued, trying to keep his expression serious. "I found out that there is this middle-eastern guy who runs a free clinic in Iota Sector. I don't have a name for him, but I don't think he will be that hard to find if we ask the right questions. The fact that he runs a free clinic bothers me, because although I suspected Entities going down there, it could tie in with that organ legging thingy that we looked into on Monday.

"Shit... I don't know for sure, hell, it could be entities for all I know... ." Tyger sighed. "... or it could be related. All that I know is that there are folks missing and I only have one lead to go off of to find out what happened to them. I don't want to let this go... Leo helped me out in a major way, and there's no way I'm going to let him down. Someone needs to look into this quietly... I'd prefer to continue this, but I'm laid up in here for how knows how long.

"Anyway, I'm done... I just wanted you two to know what the hell's going on and why I'm in the hospital with two gunshot wounds." Tyger paused for a brief moment and added, "And why I missed Community Service last night."

Carpenter glanced at Hemelshot, deferring any comments to his superior officer, who the time Tyger finished, had the bridge of his nose pinched in his left hand. He sighed and stood up, expressionless and facing Tyger. "Officer Tyger, you are not charged with violating the terms of your suspension, intimidation and abuse of police powers, trespassing, destruction of city property and multiple counts of aggravated assault. You are not charged only because I'm not here and you're not telling me this sort of crap. Subtlety is not one of your strong points so I'll be blunt. You do shit like this and you want me to find out, you tell someone else and they tell me rumors. That way I don't have to ignore the moose-turd-pie when it's shoved in my face like this. I don't like that. I've stuck my neck out quite far enough for you, and if you put me in a situation like this again I'll have you reassigned to a desk job in purchasing." His eyes lock onto Tyger's. "Is that clear?"

Marcy stirred at her seat on the nearby hospital bed, frowning. "But... ." She blurted out. "He wasn't acting as a police officer! He was just helping a friend!" She glanced between Hemelshot and Carpenter. "There's nothing wrong with that... is there?"

Hemelshot's eyes narrowed but they remain locked on Tyger. "He just admitted to every one of those charges in front of his superior officer and multiples witnesses. That sort of behavior will get him shit-canned faster than he can say Meow-Mix. He needs to learn how to play the game, because I'm not going to hold his hand any longer. I repeat, Is That Clear?"

Tyger frowned at Hemelshot's reaction, his eyes narrowing. "y'know... you would not have found out about this shit one way or the other if I didn't tell you. In fact, the most you would have found out would be that yeah, I was in the hospital, and for all you know it could have been because I got into a street fight or some shit like that."

"I didn't tell you what happened so you could ream my ass over what I knew was the right thing to do... but apparently you don't give two shits about that fact. I called you about it because I know that you're looking for info about that living computer thingy... and I know what kind of information whore you are. figured knowing that some Clades are missing and where to find the guy who has the knowledge about that would help you... I figured I was doing you a favor... but I guess you don't give two shits about that either.

"I figured I could trust you Sarge... but I guess I was wrong. I won't make that mistake again."

Hemelshot stiffens. "You didn't even listen to what I said. You don't even care, going all high and righteous on me without thinking things through. Fuck you." He turned and walked out.

"I heard exactly what you said... but apparently you didn't." Tyger retorted

Marcy blinked, then scowled and bounced up off the bed. "You two are
both so stupid." She muttered, giving Tyger and Hemelshot's back the evil eye.

"Putting your own damn pride ahead of 6 innocent people—who may be dead for all we know." She too, stormed towards the door "I thought you guys were supposed to HELP people!"

Tyger looked down and then to the departing Marcy. "That's what I've been trying to do Marcy... I want to help. But I can't do it by myself. Whether I'm laid up in here or not, I can't do it alone. I was hoping that Hemelshot would at least acknowledge what I tried to do... what I'm trying to do." He hoped Marcy heard him, but he was not sure. He just made a tight fist, the look upon his face stern and resolved, almost as if he had made some sort of decision within himself.

"Tyger?" Carpenter, who up to that moment had sat unnoticed and silent, spoke up.

"Try to understand the Sergeant. He is a man bound to law and order. However much he agrees with the rightness of your intentions, the fact is that you did things that are against the duties and responsibilities he has to uphold as a police officer. He had to say the things he did; to do otherwise would be to betray the code he lives by."

"Constructive criticism time. You're right in wanting to help Leo in his struggles and find his missing people. That's not what Richard reacted to."

Carpenter sighed and bowed his head for a second as he chose his words. "The thing is, how you do something is as important as what you do and why."

He paused again as he tried to explain. "Your heart is in the right place, Tyger. But you have to understand, not every problem in the world can be solved by just shooting at it. I'd hoped what happened recently would've at least taught you that."

Tyger exhaled softly. "Well... then I guess I shouldn't tell him anything should I? After all, in doing so would only violate his 'duties and responsibilities'. After all, what he doesn't know won't hurt him." he sighed, muttering something under his breath. "I know not everything can be solved by shooting it. if I didn't have to, I wouldn't... but it seems to me, that when I try to do something right... what I know to be right... I'm the one getting shot at... or kicked, hit punched and stabbed. Yet I keep doing what I'm doing... and usually I don't ask for anything in return... but the occasional 'thanks' would be greatly appreciated."

He scowled a little before continuing. "I don't need him to hold my hand... shit... I never asked him to do it anyway. but if he keeps thinking I'm going to need my hand held... then it will be a cold day in hell before I think about offering my hand to him... and for him to call me 'high and righteous'" Tyger almost spat angrily. "Fucking pisses me off that he would say that, when I know dammed well that he would have done the same thing had he been in my shoes... ."

Tyger grumbled and rolled over in the bed, pulling the blanket up over his shoulder, almost as if it were a shield. "I'm done Nathan... he obviously doubts my ability and intent and he obviously doesn't trust me as far as he can throw a spinner. So fuck him... I'm done trying for him"

In the hallway, Marcy jogged to catch up with the long-legged Hemelshot. She spotted him near the side exit, about to leave the hospital. "Hey! Hemelshot!" The figure stopped partially out the door, turned, gave a small smiled and replied, "Hemelshot. What can I do for you, ma'am?"

Marcy replied, a bit breathlessly, "I'm Marcie—Tyger's friend. Are you always that sympathetic to your men? Especially when they've just been shot while taking down criminals and trying to find kidnapped people?"

Hemelshot's face lost the smile. "Perhaps we can talk another time, ma'am. I've duties to attend to." He moved to turn away and leave, but Marcy wasn't about to let him just walk away. She stepped outside with him slipped an arm through his and said, a little more firmly, "No, really. I'd like to talk now." He made an abortive move to shrug her off, but found that years in LnS tournaments granted more than normal feminine strength. Marcy wasn't one to move if she really wanted to stay, and right now she really wanted to find out what the hell was going on.

Noticing Hemelshot had planted his feet and was tensing, she realized her mistake. The XSWAT officer seemed about ready to react to an attack, and she didn't want to put him on the defensive... at least not before finding out why he'd ripped into Tyger. She removed her arm. "Please—Tyger's a good man, and I just want to know what happened that the two of you seem to hate each other."

Hemelshot relaxed, slightly, and replied with a sad smile, "I don't hate him—quite the reverse." He took in a deep breath and turned to look out across the parking lot. "He and I, we have a difference of opinion."

Marcy snorted, "It looked like a lot more than that."

He tilted his head and game a small shrug. "There are complications, but that's the basic issue. We both want to do the right thing—fight crime, rescue people and so on, but we go about it differently. I play by the rules and know when not to break them. Tyger plays by no one's rules but his own unless he's forced to, and if you're his friend you know how much he hates being forced to do anything."

She nodded, "He'll fight it any way he can."

"So you understand what sort of pressure he's under. It's the way he releases pressure with which I disagree."

She waited, but Hemelshot did not elaborate, and seemed to be waiting politely, for her to say something or leave. That did it.

"What the hell is wrong with you people?!" she exclaimed, "He just wants to help people! What's wrong with that?"

Hemelshot glanced around and saw they were mostly alone, though the occasional person walked through the parking lot a few dozen feet away. He turned back to Marcy and replied, "I'm in command of 9th squad and as his immediate superior officer I'm responsible for everything he says and does. He gets in trouble—it's my fault, he gets caught playing vigilante—I get reprimanded for not being an effective commander."

Marcy understood that, and snidely commented, "So you're scared of him making you look bad?"

Hemelshot looked at her with an off gleam in his eye. "No. I'm angry because he expected me to lie for him." That took Marcy aback quite a bit. Self-preservation she could understand, but honesty?

He continued, "I'm a lawman and I take pride in trying to be a good one. I've never taken a bribe, never looked the other way and I've never, ever lied to anyone about what I've seen, heard or done, as a lawman." He paused and straightened a little. "I'm not perfect and I might forget something in a report, or not notice something else, but I'll be damned if I let someone under my command tell me to my face that he's committed criminal acts and then get offended when I tell him I'm not going to cover his ass so he'd damn well better not tell me."

"He was helping people! The bad guys are smugglers, drug runners and kidnappers—you're saying he shouldn't do anything about it?" Marcy was outraged, but curious. He didn't seem angry about what Tyger had done, and that made her curious.

He paused for breath, and looked a bit questioningly at her. "That's exactly right—he shouldn't take the law into his own hands and run around playing vigilante because he feels like it. Someone comes to me with a problem and I'll do everything I can do within the law to help them. Someone comes to me with a problem the law can't handle, and I can't officially help them—and neither will I turn a blind eye if I notice one of my men in violation of the law! Tyger not only expects that, but he's up there hating me because I won't break my oath to the city." He turned away from her, back to the parking lot. "I'm sorry, I have things I need to do."

He took a few steps, then turned back to her. "Look, as his friend, talk to him. He's lived without rules most of his life—try and make him understand he can't do that anymore. If he's going to be in law enforcement, he's got to at play the game. I can't work with him if he doesn't."

Marcy let him go this time. At least she understood why he'd been so angry with Tyger. She wondered if Tyger realized that. She grimaced—probably not. She'd have to do something about that.

Marcy took a deep breath as Hemelshot walked away. "Thanks." She called out to him, but wasn't sure if he heard her or not—the former Lace & Steel fighter's attention was back towards the door of the hospital room as she reentered. "Tyger... ." The girl, or young woman, said as she walked over to him. "I've got to tell you something."

Tyger looked over at Marcy when she walked into the room, his expression neutral and staring, more or less, at the ceiling. "yeah? what is it" he murmured, not even looking at her yet.

Marcy's fingers grasped the Clade's chin firmly and turned his head to face her. "First, you're kind of a jerk when you're feeling sorry for yourself." She informed him, then let go of his chin. "Second, no matter what you might think, your boss isn't the enemy. He's trying to protect you."

He raised a brow at her words and actions, but did not fight her. "What in the bloody hell are you talking about? Of course he's not... he's just an asshole who is more concerned with the book than results"

Marcy smiled and tilted her head slightly to the left as she looked down at the reclining Clade. "Do you really believe that?" She asked, then sat down on the edge of the hospital bed.

"Well... yeah. You heard what he said and how he acted" Tyger frowned.

"I thought you said earlier that he put himself on the line for you at the hearing."

Tyger blinked a couple of times. "Yeah... he tried to take the responsibility on his own shoulders." He shook his head slightly. "The idiot... he didn't have to go and do that. It's not his fault I am what I am... nor is it his fault that I did what I did." he sighed softly. "But that's why I figured I could trust him... he stuck his neck out for me... didn't even ask for the help... but yet... there he was."

Marcy continued. "Anyway, what he's trying to say is you can't tell him about illegal stuff officially or he has to take action. The only way he can keep you out of trouble is to pretend he didn't hear you in the first place, get it?"

Tyger looked at her incredulously "well... I didn't tell him anything officially. I told him that it was supposed to stay off the record. That's why I told him to turn off the A/V unit. How much more unofficial can you get?" he blinked as he actually caught what she said. "Now hold on a second... that doesn't make any sense. What's the point of brining him here and not tell him shit?"

Marcy shook her head. "Think about what Mr. Carpenter said—your boss has a code he lives by. He takes it very seriously." She brushed a wisp of hair from her cheek as she continued. "It's not that he thought what you did was wrong, in and of itself." She explained. "But if you lay it out the way you did, you're basically forcing him to lie for you." Marcy leaned closer. "Can't you see that he holds this code, this JOB—sacred? Like a priest holds the bible sacred? There's another way to let him know what he needs to know without trampling on what he holds dear." She shrugged and gently ran her fingers through the Clade's short fur along his arm. "I'm sure you're not used to people believing in something that strongly." She laughed. "I'm certainly not... it took a few gunshots and a prayer to make me see the like."

Tyger blinked, and felt his hear skip a beat as Marcy inched closer. "Well... then he just needs to lighten up a bit" he murmured, seeming to lose whatever malice he had for Hemelshot. "But I wasn't asking him to lie for me... ." he trailed off as Marcy ran her fingers along his arm. He had to smile a bit. It felt good. His hand shifted a little underneath her fingers to take her hand in his and squeeze it softly "... alright. Fine... ." he said with a lopsided smile "you win... ill apologize to him. but not now... he's prolly pretty pissed off still, and the last person he wants to hear from right now is me... ill hit him up tomorrow or something." Tyger grinned now and gave Marcy a playful wink "damn you woman... you're going to be a good influence on me"

"Now, I wouldn't go and say all that...." Marcy smirked as she inched closer. "... after all, I'm not that much of a good girl myself...."

Any reply from Tyger was lost in a very sudden and very enjoyable kiss...

Hemelshot's thoughts were bleak as he returned to his office in XSWAT headquarters. He was not in the mood to talk to anyone, so he figured he would take care of paperwork. 'Best time to do unpleasant work—when you can't get into a worse mood.'

The forms to extend Tyger's community service were extensive and would require Carpenter to sign off, asserting he had not shown up at his appointed time. He would deal with that on Monday.

The paperwork to press charges against the three at the Las-X tournament—Lucian St. Croix, Marcie O'Keefe and Cindy Marks was straightforward, at least. Aiding & abetting was about all he figured he could make stick, but he threw in resisting arrest and assaulting an officer to give the legals something to work with.

Arranging for Tyger to attend the police academy classes was tricky, as it involved Tyger attending the classes during half the day and rejoining the team for active duty afterwards. It would require a special request to the commandant of the academy, and he figured Cadbury should be the one to ask about that. He'd also deal with Cadbury on Monday and present the request.

Hemelshot leaned back in his chair, wishing he drank because he could really use a drink. Tyger was a problem, and he needed to learn how law enforcement worked. XSWAT also couldn't deal with yet another PR nightmare, and Hemelshot wasn't about to go back into the field with an untrained agent. He'd be restricting Tyger to combat duty for the time being—investigation obviously wasn't his field—so until he learned some restraint he'd be doing what he was good at and nothing more.

"And that's part of the problem. I couldn't trust Tyger to not pull out a gun at the wrong moment, so I can't put him in the field. But unless I put him in the field he'll never get the experience he needs to know when not to draw the gun. Catch-22. Hence the academy, which will give him the experience in a nonvolatile setting, but that's 13 weeks long and even if he gets into the class starting the week after next, that's almost four months in a combat-only role, which simply exacerbates the situation and doesn't do a thing to get him to view me as anything more than a dictator."

"'You need to trust him.'" Carpenter said. "Easy for you to say. You're not the one responsible for what happens when he shoots another prisoner, or violates the terms of his suspension in order to play vigilante. Dammit Tyger! Why couldn't you have just told me you investigated the rumors and left it at that? You just don't know how to play politics, do you? Never needed to, either. Lucky bastard. Carpenter was there when I left—maybe he'll be able to talk some sense into the lug."

"Man, I wish I drank."

The very next day had Tyger checking himself early out of the hospital. Of course, the doctors would try to keep him confined. Of course, he made up some reasons why he would prefer to not remain stuck in the hospital any longer than he had to, something about having a duty to fulfill, and that he wasn't getting anything done while laid up in the hospital. However, he wouldn't tell them the real reason: he needed a cigarette... bad. Ok, that wasn't his real reason, but that was one of them. As soon as he past the threshold of the main doors to St. Francis Hospital, Tyger dug out his cigarettes and lighter. He lit up and took a long, very satisfying drag from his choice of vice and exhaled slowly. "Alright... now that that's taken care of...." he murmured to himself as he found his way to the parking garage and to his hovercycle.

Tyger revved up the high-speed skimmer and darted from the hospital at speeds and maneuvers that would be considered barely legal if not downright reckless. He was a Clade with a mission, and his mission right now was to find Hemelshot. Eventually, Tyger managed to recall just where Hemelshot lived. He gave a mental thanks to the fact that despite the events with the Animus Mortis, he did not decide to pack up and move. That made it a lot easier to find.

At some time past noon, Tyger found himself standing in front of Richard Hemelshot's house, wearing his battered coat, torn shirt and pants. Not his first choice of attire for making house calls, but what else did he have except for the clothing he had on since Thursday. He muttered a curse under his breath and crushed the remnants of his cigarette under his boot. Damn, this felt an awful lot like the other day when he started his community service. Dammed deja-vu. He knocked on the door and patiently waited for someone to answer the door.

Hemelshot's wife answered the door, blinked upon recognizing Tyger, and smiled. "Hello, Tyger. Are you looking for Richard?"

Tyger nodded slightly. "Yeah, I need to talk to him about some stuff. Is he around?"

"He's at the office—it helps him unwind. If he's not in his office, try the range or the gym." She smiles warmly. "Good luck."

Tyger muttered something under his breath and nodded to the woman, returning the smile to her. "Thanks miss." He turned from her without a further word and got onto his hovercycle. A string of curses was on his lips the entire way to the Precinct House. Even if he wasn't in the office, the firing range or the gym would not be hard to find or get to. He figured that with Hemelshot's obsession with paperwork and doing all of that crazy bookwork crap that he liked to do, he would be in the office, so that was where Tyger headed first.

Tyger pulled his hovercycle into the parking garage, mentally cursing Hemelshot's inability to keep things simple. From doing that whole 'You aren't telling me anything, and yet I'm right here' crap to hanging out at the office when he should be at home. Why did he have to make things difficult? Sure, the world isn't black-and-white, but that was all the more reason to keep things simple wasn't it? Keep things straight and easy to understand. That way, things in this crazy world don't get confused, people don't get upset and feelings don't get hurt. Was simplicity too much to ask?

As Tyger passed through the motorpool, he looked over at the ruined chassis of the Blue Steel Special and shook his head sadly. His baby had been all but destroyed in their last outing, and the techs had to almost rebuild it completely from the ground up. He hoped that they would actually take his advice, input and suggestions this time around. Tyger had to forcibly discard those thoughts for the time being. Anything dealing with the Blue Steel Special was another battle for another time. He had more important things to do. He only hoped that Hemelshot wasn't going to be an ass about this, but knowing him, this would be anything but simple.

After making his way through the halls, Tyger soon found himself standing outside of Hemelshot's door. He stood there for a few moments, and then knocked softly on the doorframe. "Hey Sarge. You gotta minute?"

Hemelshot puts down his pen and give Tyger his full attention. "Why do feel you need to apologize for saying what you felt? You spoke in anger, but there must be some truth in what you were feeling." He leans back a bit, not relaxing but taking care to not be leaning forward in an aggressive stare. "Let's start with what are you apologizing for, and why."

Tyger shrugged his shoulders slightly. "Sarge, I don't trust people easily. It's that simple. Any time I've extended my hand in trust to someone, I have always ended up regretting it almost immediately. I called you yesterday to tell you what I told you because I thought that you would like to know. I felt I could trust you enough with that information. I... didn't like your reply, I felt that I had misplaced my trust... and acted accordingly."