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[*screaming into the void intensifies*]
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This was a rare case for Trevor Cane. He'd never had the pleasure of being his own client before.

But the cold hard truth was that no one would touch him right now, thanks to his reputation, and the way the goddamn cops and the media kept warning off or otherwise stealing his customer base. Sure, he'd toed the line a bit too close once or twice. Maybe gone a little bit south, strictly off the record. But calling him the "slimiest weasel in the warren of private investigators", as one journalist could notably be quoted, was just too much. He got results, didn't he? And he wasn't a cheat.

Well, not to the people paying him, anyway.

At any rate, if he wanted to get his name back on the market, it was going to take more than savvy advertising practices at this point. No, the only way to get anyone to even look twice at his business card was to prove that he was one up on the local police force. And to do that, he needed to solve a high-profile case before they did, and with nowhere near the resources. Hey, a guy has to eat, right? This was his livelihood. It was this, or looking into career opportunities at Walmart or the local burger joint.

This all brought him to why he was breaking into the office of Dominic Caruso, a local auction house curator, at 3:00 AM on a Sunday morning. Illegal? Well, off the record, yeah. Unethical? Maybe. But the guy was potentially the missing jigsaw piece to uncovering a big-time smuggling ring, and what the police couldn't get with a warrant, well, he could get his way much more easily. And cover his ass later.

Where did he learn to break and enter? Funny story, really… Reminiscing, he checked the windows one by one. True fact: Someone always forgets to secure a window. Eventually.

Tonight wasn't his lucky night, however, and he ended up having to pull a wire trick with the door. Clearly, Caruso hadn't gotten the memo on lever-style door handles. And he'd come by on a pretense the other day, so he'd seen the office's security system; or rather, lack thereof. This was just too easy.
This is nuts. Stupid. Shouldn't be doing this. ...Argh. No. Not talking myself out of it. It's GOTTA be done.

The little voice in her head was ranting off more than a dozen very good reasons why she shouldn't be sneaking in to the Auction House's main Curator's offices. The best reason was the obvious going to prison reason, but Jade Sparrow refused to talk herself out of this one. For her entire life she has been living under the shadow of her sisters. The lawyer, the cop, the detective and the actress. Four sisters with extraordinary careers, amazing stories, exciting lives... and here was Jade. Still struggling her way through college to study journalism, and her biggest 'story' was about the correlation between eating too much ramen and bad grades.

Enough was enough. Jade wasn't going to be in the background anymore. It was her turn to do something extraordinary.

That was why she was currently climbing up the side of a stupid building and trying to pry open a window. The only reason she knew something weird was going on in the place was because of a classmate. They worked weekends at the building. Some of the things they talked about seeing... well, it struck Jade as odd. After putting a few assumptions together, Jade was convinced there was something illegal going on in the building. If she figured it out and broke the story... she'd finally have her moment!

CLICK! Jade let out a triumphant 'Ha!' when she finally managed the slide the window latch up. With a severe lack of grace, Jade crawled through the window and dropped to the office floor. She pulled a small keychain flashlight out of her pocket as inched her way across the ground towards the desk.
As Trevor ducked the lone security camera and jimmied the lock on Caruso's private office door, he noticed a flash of light sweep past, spilling out from the crack at the bottom of the door frame. Odd enough to notice, in an idle sort of way, but it could probably be chalked up to a passing car. There was a window on the opposite side of the room, as he recalled, and it looked out onto the road. It was only after he'd stepped inside, pocket flashlight in one hand, that he realized there were two light sources in the room, and they were both moving. Aw, hell. Just so long as it wasn't some other down-on-his-luck private dick; a burglar he could handle, but he had more competition than he needed already.

Besides, if it was anyone other than a burglar, he was Busted with a capital B.

It was too late now, though. Whoever it was would have to be deaf and blind not to notice the door opening and an extra flashlight moving around. They must have not been too worried about covering their tracks, either, because the door had been locked, and that meant window. And the windows had all been secure. He would know. Sighing and hoping the guy didn't have a gun, he leveled his torch at his best guess for their face, which strangely enough was a lot lower to the ground than he'd have expected.

When he found himself staring at a cute brunette, he did a double take. "Lady, what the hell are you doing?"
Shit, she was blinded! Had it been any other situation, Jade might have comically hissed like a vampire and retreated to the shadows. But her first thought was that she had just been caught red handed breaking and entering. It was off to jail for her and lots of community service.

Once she blinked a few times and got used to the light, she found herself staring at... well. He didn't work there, that was for sure. The man had his own flash light and a handful of lock picking stuff. Probably way more professional than the bent up piece of clothes hanger she just used on the window.

"What are you do, is the better question." she accused right back. Jade rose to her feet, dusting off her clothes and trying to think quick. She needed a cover story or something. "I am... filing paperwork for Dominic Caruso. No one is supposed to be sneaking around in here."

Jade eased herself over to the desk, where she had a better choice of weapons than a printer. Chances were, this guy was a thief, and a thief usually came packing a gun or some knives. The only weapon she had on her was a pen and a recorder. That probably wasn't going to do much damage.
Huh. She sucked at lying. Filing paperwork in the early AM on a Sunday, on hands and knees, with a flashlight, in a locked room? Did she think he was born yesterday?

He shut the door behind him, before some other schmuck decided to mosey on in to this little stand-off. Slipping his free hand (and his kit) into his pocket, he tilted his head to one side and gave his best unimpressed look. His secretary, David (What? Equal opportunity employment) had told him it was pretty damn effective. And he called her bluff, no fiddling around. "I don't think so. I know everyone who works in this building on sight, and you sure don't."

He didn't really, of course, but how would she know that? Moving on, he needed a cover story of his own, and he needed it pronto. "Anyway, I'm a professional. Mr. Caruso hired me to test the building's security. It's pretty common, didn't you know?

He'd seen it on TV, anyway.
Busted. Why did she even think it was going to be that easy to bullshit her way through stuff. Everyone in the world didn't have 'idiot guard syndrome'. He closed the door and Jade stepped behind the desk. Her hand hovered over a stapler while she estimated how much it would hurt to jump out in open window.

"...wait. What? I call baloney. You don't hire a security tester when a building doesn't even have security!" Which, in itself was weird. Wouldn't an auction house filled with countless valuable items want to have really good security? Clearly, it was all too easy for any schmuck to break in without sounding off alarms or having security guys come running in.

Jade leaned forward on the desk. Her hand on the stapler, fully prepared to throw it or staple his eyes out and run if it went that far. "Okay... I'll confess. I don't work here, and I know you don't work here... So what are you doing sneaking around in here? And you gotta answer first, cause I got the phone here and I'll call the cops if I have to. I'll be gone before they even show up."
Well, rats. She had him there. That excuse may have let him fly by the seat of his pants before, but no one wanted to spend the extra cash to test the mettle of a security system this shoddy. Which, now that he thought about it, didn't make a lot of sense. Auction houses dealt in antiques and rarities, stuff that raked in serious dough. Why had it been so easy for not just him, but an obvious amateur, to get inside?

Not that he was, you know, an expert at this or anything. Honestly.

When she threatened him with the police, he really found himself out of cards. Why had he let her get so close to the damn phone? "Okay, okay! Watch the office supplies! And no cops. Just you and me."

To demonstrate his good faith, he held up the hand that wasn't flashlight-laden, high enough to make his jacket ride up and prove he didn't have a gun or a wire hooked up underneath. He almost wished he did have a wire, but he hadn't exactly planned to bump into anyone on this little outing. His own wire, obviously, not one for the boys downtown.

"The truth is, I'm a PI. I'm looking for dirt on Caruso. The police have been sniffing around, but haven't been able to get anywhere." There. The way he said it, he sounded almost honorable. Like one of the good guys. Which he was, obviously. "Your turn. What is it you're looking for?"
"Seriously?" The statement was blurted out faster than she could reconsider. Chances were, the incredulous look on her face wasn't very well hidden either. Jade was no master of impartial facial expressions. Still dubious about his intentions, she didn't move away from the desk, but she did let go out the stapler.

For several awkward moments, she stood there staring at him. Her arms crossing over her chest made her look more defensive than accusatory. Her fingers tapped at her elbows. Finally she tilted her head, whatever wheels turning in there coming to a conclusion.

"All right... if I gave you the benefit of the doubt, which is in no way saying that I believe you... I was looking for info about Caruso too. I'm a reporter," it was a half truth. She was studying to be a journalist, but that didn't mean she couldn't sell a good story. "and I got a really good tip about this place. Just needed a little bit more than suspicious conjuncture."

"...Are you -really- a detective?" Jade clearly still wasn't sure about that one. Maybe it was the way he didn't want the cops called.
Oh, give me a break. She was a newshound? This was the icing on the cake. He almost wished he'd let her phone the cops. Journalists and Trevor had never been a good combination. They were like oil and water... Reporters being the oil, an unpleasant film that he couldn't seem to wash off.

He pointed at his jacket pocket. Maybe he could appeal to that relentless, sometimes plain stupid sense of curiosity all media personalities possessed. Too nosy for their own good, but maybe nosy enough for his. "Name's Cane, and that's Private Investigator, not your precinct Detective. I'm doing this case... pro bono, you could say. No client, other than the public good. Want to see my card?"

He gave her the friendliest grin he could muster. A reporter. It was like a dirty word in his book.
"Oh... one of those." A private detective. That made a world of difference. He was basically some guy typically hunting down cheating spouses or finding long lost family members. If he were a real cop, she might've had something to worry about. But a P.I. wasn't any more special than... well. Her. It all came down to the snooping.

Jade visibly relaxed, having decided he wasn't a threat, nor anyone she needed to be concerned about. Without any more explanations, she went right to rifling through stuff on the desk. "Okay Detective Cane. You do what you're doing, I'll do what I'm doing. And we'll just pretend like we didn't see each other. Capiche?"

The desk was pretty neat, so Jade was taking care not to mess up the order of things too badly. When her hands came across a date book, she snatched it up and flipped through the pages. "Hmph, my name is Jade, by the way."
The way she continued to call him "Detective" despite his correction was annoying on its own. The casual dismissal at learning he wasn't with the police was worse. At least she didn't seem to recognize his name, but that left him wondering... How good of a reporter was she? Most of her profession jumped like a dog with a bone at the chance to give yet another scoop on the scandalous doings of Trevor Cane. Was he being taken to the cleaners by a total scrub?

Nah. Couldn't be.

He was all for doing their separate searches and calling it square, but the second she picked up the date book, all deals were off. He reached over to pluck it away from her. "I'll take this. I've been working this case for months-" Maybe a month, tops. "-and I know what to look for. You're just grasping at straws, am I right?"

No way was he letting some (possibly scrub) reporter screw up his chance at resuscitating his career. No way, no how, no ma'am. The datebook was his.
Jade stood there dumbfounded for a moment. Her hands empty and void from what she had picked up first, fair and square. She finally shook herself out of her befuddlement and leaned across the desk. The datebook was snatched right back out of the detective's hands.

"Uh, no. I found it, I am going to look through it first. You and your months of work can wait fifteen minutes!" The scowl Jade cast him probably couldn't be considered vicious. She made sure to turn her back to him and step several paces away as she flipped through the date book again.

If anyone was going to get a look at which numbers and appointments were in there, it would be her. She had a good instinct about these sorts of things. With the datebook in one hand, she was already digging in her pocket to pull out a notepad to copy down some of the appointments.
Trevor's jaw went slack. Had she really just blown him off?

Oh. She had.

"Now see here- Jane?" he prompted, purposefully committing a misnomer. He rounded the desk, grabbing onto the little piece of Kashmir that was the datebook. He didn't manage to get it away from her this time, but he wasn't about to let go, either. "This is your first time on this kind of gig, isn't it? Do you know what you're doing? You broke the latch on the window, smart-alec. That's going to get noticed. How are you going to explain that? You've probably already left your fingerprints everywhere. Do you know how to wipe prints? And what about where you scrounged up your sudden font of information, huh? Not smart, lady, not smart at-"

His matter-of-fact stream of rebuking commentary was truncated by his thankfully well-trained ears (although apparently not well-trained enough to hear an amateur B&E-er knocking around inside a dark office) picking up on the sound of footsteps. Holy cow. Had a security guard actually shown up on time for a shift? In this dump? Despite his disbelief, he wasted no time. Holding up his hand in a warning motion, he almost immediately relocated it to cover Jade's mouth before she could question him and give them away. His other arm looped around her waist, pulling her back with him out of line of sight of the doorway, and he switched off his flashlight pronto.
Essentially being kidnapped, Jade murrphed and struggled all the way to the corner until the detective's flashlight was switched off and she finally heard the slam of a door and footsteps elsewhere in the building. Freezing immediately, she clicked off her keychain light and held her breath.

Standing there in silence, waiting to be discovered left ample time for his words to sink in. Jade never stopped to consider leaving fingers prints everywhere. Of course she did ample research in knowing what time the night guard showed up, whether or not there was alarms, and how accessible all the locks were. ...but that was the extent of it. She could argue that she was a journalist and not a criminal, how was she supposed to know these sorts of things? But now in retrospect it was a pretty dumb mistake.

The footsteps were closer. Jade was sure they stopped right outside of the office door. After a moment, they finally continued on down the hall and faded to a dull echo.

Jade slapped the detective's hand away from her face. "Get off me!" she hissed quietly. Not letting her voice get above a whisper. "I could have been in and out of here already!"
It was a tense few moments as Trevor waited with bated breath for the flatfoot out in the hall to decide he didn't see nothin'. He couldn't dare remove his hand from Jade's mouth, not even when she seemed to cotton on, because he was somehow dead sure she'd let the cat out of the bag. He was surprised the guard didn't smell her from clear out of the room, because what he reckoned must be her shampoo was strong enough to him to make him feel lightheaded.

Wait, wh

It must have been the fumes or something. God only knew what kind of chemicals people were putting in their hair these days, you know. (Off the record, Trevor used Pantene.) At any rate, it was a good job that Jade took the initiative to slap him. ...Hey. Ow. He knew she couldn't see it in the dark, but he looked at her with pure and bonafied indignation. Keeping his voice low to match hers, he objected, "Well excuse me for having the decency to prevent you from getting caught. What would you do, jump out the window again? Were you planning on leaving it to me to clean up after you and make sure your name doesn't get tied to this little shindig? Or were you expecting me to take the fall? Again, prints put you here too, and I've got your description and probably your real first name. I could have coughed you up, easy."
Shit and hellfire. Giving a fake name never occurred to her either! Jade never gave him her last name, but he was a detective. He had to at the very least know how to look people up. Otherwise, he'd have to be one shitty detective.

Now that the coast was clear, Jade swatted at him to disentangle herself from his arms. In the process she managed to get the datebook back in to her possession. Without mentioning a word about it, she made it disappear in to her back pocket. Since she already screwed up with leaving prints everywhere and breaking the window lock, she might as well steal stuff too.

"Yeah, I WAS going to go back out the window, seeing as someone is patrolling inside the building now." They were arguing in whispers, which might have been hilarious if she were thinking about it. "You weren't even supposed to be here in the first place, so I think I have this all managed just fine, thankyouverymuch."
He almost forgot to keep his voice down, that ticked him off so bad. "I wasn't supposed to be here? I'm doing my job. You're the one who decided to get her hands dirty and went in over her head. What exactly says 'managed' to you about this?"

He also wasn't thinking about the fact that he'd let go of the datebook. At least, not until he was done being self-righteous. Justifiably. "Oh, for- Give it back. Give it back, go home, and give up on your life of crime, got it? You're going to get yourself into more trouble than you can get yourself out of."

Why was he being so nice, anyway? What did he care if there was one less muckraker wandering the beat? He should just let her get arrested; it would probably make his life easier. ...But he couldn't help himself. Scowling, he rubbed the back of his neck. Should he let her just take off now? It'd serve her right if she did and he didn't come through for her, but he knew chances were that the second she vamoosed, he'd be giving the room a once-over to erase whatever evidence she left.
Damn his unfaltering (more or less, meaning until now, not really at all) moral compass.

"Look. I need to crack this case, and I'm not going to bow out on this. Maybe we can work something out here."
"Oh NOW you want to work together, Detective?" Jade was delighted to jab him. It wasn't like her at all to be so sarcastic. But neither was breaking in to offices in the middle of the night and stealing appointment books. In the years to come, maybe she'd mark this down as the day she finally stepped out of her closet.

Unless she was in jail. Then she'd lament on how much time she wasted arguing with some preachy detective instead of at home on her couch reading old newspaper and looking for inspiration.

Jade finally turned back to him. Her hands placed firmly on her hips as she rocked back and forth on her heels. ~If~ they worked together, there was no reason why it couldn't work out flawlessly for them both. They weren't exactly rivals. They were playing on two different fields! In fact having someone that knew the law well enough could be a really useful asset...

"All right... I'll bite. You need to solve a case, and I need a really good story... But you have to promise that I am the only journalist you talk to when this is good and done. Capiche?"
"Deal," he said, not batting an eyelash at her terms.

I mean, come on. He hated journalists; never touched them with a ten foot pole unless strictly necessary. He certainly didn't harbor any cuddly feelings for or obligations to any of the other reporters in town (especially not that two-face harpy who'd called him a weasel), so denying them access to his stories was no skin off his back; as a matter of fact, it was downright satisfying. He hadn't known this woman very long, but she didn't seem so bad- for a journalist- other than talking more game than she played, and since he had dirt on her in addition to being a renewable resource of info, this could actually turn out pretty good for him. He was probably getting more out of this than he would out of that planner.

"Lesson number one," he began, grinning lopsidedly at her in the dark. His eyes had adjusted enough that he could mostly make out her features, so he was pretty sure she could just about see his. "We've been here longer than we needed to. It's about time to get the hell out of dodge. What d'you say?"

He pointed toward the window. "You were right about one thing; that's our exit, now. But first we've got to clean up this mess."
The grin Jade flashed back was a sarcastic show of teeth. They had an agreement, though. Surely two people working for the same objective would come out with better results. How great would it be to have her own 'source' without having to ask one of her sisters for a favor?

"Right. Cleaning up a mess." Jade turned, glancing around the dim office. The desk itself looked fine. She did, after all, made sure not to jostling anything on it or move it out of place. Fingerprints though... Spotting a box of tissues, she snatched a few out before tossing it at the detective.

Anything she could remember getting her hands on, Jade tidied up. When she came across dusty places where it was painfully obvious someone had been poking around, she inwardly groaned. She really didn't consider this stuff. Off the dust went from there too. Whenever the owner came back to his office, he was going to think his janitor did an exceptionally awesome cleaning job.

"Right-o, so out the window, huh. I hope you know how to climb." There was that smirk again. This time Jade was careful about touching stuff around the window. Hopping up on to the sill and opening the glass. She took a quick peek outside to make sure no one was prowling around outside the building.

"Looks clear. Watch the bricks, though. They're a little loose."