The Players and the Game

by Nix
(crimsonquills AT gmail DOT com)

Author's Notes: Written in trade for an icon made for me by rokeon. Thanks! Thanks also to webbgirl for initial comments and hand holding.

Logan shoved his gloved hands deep into his pockets and hunched his shoulders against the cold. The snow had been coming down steadily for hours now and he'd been hoping all day that he and Wheeler wouldn't get called out in it, but apparently karma wasn't finished pissing on him in payment for his past sins, because a body they couldn't ignore had turned up less than two hours before their shift would have ended.

Not that there were any bodies they could ignore, Logan thought, given the whole point of Major Case Squad. Some detective somewhere was thanking his lucky stars that the deceased had turned out to be a Congressman's son, allowing him to bounce it to Major Case and go home to a hot shower and a warm apartment.

The kid didn't even have the consideration to drop dead on a sidewalk or in an apartment. No, he had to kick it in a park, forcing Logan to forge his way through snow drifts. Winter coat and boots or no winter coat and boots, he was cold and wet to the knees.

All of which meant that Logan wasn't in the most cheerful frame of mind when he finally got close enough to get a good look at the body. "Oh, for fuck's sake," he said loudly, scowling down at the corpse.

"What?" Wheeler asked, jogging the last few steps through the trail Logan had broken in the snow.

Logan nodded at the body. Every inch of exposed skin--which was pretty much all of it, given that the corpse was naked--was blue. Not that pale, hypothermic blue, either. Bright, intense blue.

Wheeler just blinked at the body for a moment. "Well, that's new."

Logan dropped into a crouch and leaned in for a better look. "Does he look hypothermic to you?"

Before Wheeler could answer, another voice cut in, sharp and impatient. "Hypothermia doesn't turn your entire body blue, even if that wasn't entirely the wrong shade."

Logan looked up deliberately and found an unfamiliar woman standing over him, a can of spray paint in one hand and a bag of plaster in the other. A wealth of dark blonde curly hair stuck out from under the knit cap she was wearing, framing strong, dramatic features and eyes bright with...well, with impatience, at the moment. As if she didn't think he was smart enough to unzip before taking a piss.

Logan straightened up. "The fact that he's not blue because he's hypothermic doesn't mean that he isn't hypothermic in addition to being blue," he said, layering on the condescension. "Which is what I was asking, Miss...?"

"Detective. Bonasera," the woman said, coolly.

Logan raised his eyebrows in exaggerated surprise. "I was under the impression the lead detective had already handed off this case."

"I'm with the Crime Scene Unit," Bonasera said. She held up the plaster and spray paint. "Which should have been reasonably obvious."

"I'm sorry," Logan said insincerely. "It's just that the CSU techs aren't usually so...assertive."

"Technicians stay in the lab," Bonasera said. "I work on scene."

"And only on scene," Logan shot back.

Bonasera smiled suddenly. "Obviously you haven't worked with our team before."

Logan wasn't sure he liked the sound of that. "Listen, lady, I don't need to be tripping over you every time I turn around on this. You stick to your job and let me do mine."

"Sounds good to me," Bonasera said, shrugging one shoulder. "My job is figuring out what happened to this kid. I'll do what I need to to put his story together. Your job is your problem."

"Your job is processing the evidence," Logan snapped. "Finding his killer is mine, and if you screw that up, I'll report you to your boss."

"Go ahead," Bonasera said sweetly. She turned and pointed to a man who was, Logan realized with a scowl, speaking to one of the witnesses the uniforms had taken aside. "That's him. Detective Taylor."

"Jesus," Logan muttered, tossing Wheeler a put-upon glance. She grimaced sympathetically and shrugged.

"If you ever want to know what turned this guy blue," Bonasera said, "I suggest you learn to play nice, Detective...?"

"Logan," he filled in, glaring.

Bonasera tilted her head to one side. "I've heard of you," she said, the suggestion of a smile unexpectedly tugging at the corners of her mouth.

"Everyone has," Logan said dryly. "The cop I killed or the councilman I decked?"

"The brawl you started with the Fire Department." She quirked an eyebrow. "Apparently playing nice isn't your strong suit."

Logan smiled slowly. "Kind of depends on who I'm playing with."

"Who you're playing with, but not which game they're playing?" Bonasera asked archly.

"Once you know who the players are, you know what the game is." Logan tilted his head and ran a blatantly speculative eye over her. "So tell me...Detective. What's up with our colorful friend here?"

Bonasera's shoulders came back a little at the note of challenge in Logan's voice. "'Our colorful friend,'" she said, "was definitely not painted. It's some sort of dye. It continues at least into his nostrils and mouth and throat; we'll have to wait for the autopsy to see how far down it goes. We aren't quite done casting the footprints in the snow yet," she gestured with the spray paint and plaster, "but I can tell you now that none of them are of bare feet, which means he was dumped here."

"Or he came out here dressed, stripped down, and someone else took his clothes with them," Logan countered.

"Except that, underneath the dye, he isn't hypothermic," Stella returned. "So he wasn't alive when he ended up out here starkers."

Logan snorted. "There was a reason I was asking," he said. "I don't see any marks on the body. Any chance he drowned?"

"That was my first thought," Bonasera said, "but there's no petechial hemorrhaging and no foam around his mouth, so I don't think so. We'll have to wait to see if the dye got into his lungs to be sure." She arched her eyebrows. "That tell you what you needed to know, Detective? Because I have to finish casting footprints before this snow obscures them." She turned and started walking away without waiting for a response.

Logan grinned to himself. "Hey, Bonasera!" he called after her. She turned and kept walking backwards. "You want to get a coffee after I solve this thing?"

She grinned back at him. "You can buy me one to thank me for breaking the case," she called back, and turned around again.

Logan chuckled to himself and glanced over to find Wheeler watching him with amusement. "What?"

"You just turned a pissing contest into a date," Wheeler said. "I'm not sure if I should be impressed or worried."

"Why be worried?" Logan asked, eyebrows raised.

Wheeler smirked. "What does this say about the way you snark at suspects?"