<The Beta Monster lumbers up to the podium. Snuffling around, she finds a peculiar mix of papers in various handwritings. Shuffling them together, she begins to nibble...

Well itís finally done. I, for one, had a lot of fun with this story, but itís nice to have it finished.

This is the sequel to The Muppets Take Cascade, so you might want to go read that one first. You can find it at the Cascade Library or Guide
Posts. Once again Iím going to blame this all on Teej. She had absolutely nothing to do with this, but since I blamed the first one on her (which also wasnít her fault) I figured Iíd be consistent.

The Mcubed writers include: (In no particular order)

Lila Kulp, TAE, Bonnie (Bonni317), Carolyn Claire, Anna Rennie-Clark,

Marianne Edison, Sue Wells, Felicia, and Cyndi

Illustrations by: Graywulf (L.J. Smith) (when she gets them done)

Special thanks got to TAE and Bonnie for their wonderful beta reading. Also Kudos to Graywulf for the pics.

I have also been instructed to include a big THANK YOU from the Many Maniacal Muppetteers to the Master Maniacal Muppetteer for all her hard work. (Hey wait, thatís me. Awww Thanks gals :-)

Standard Disclaimer: We do not own The Sentinel or any related characters. They belong to Pet Fly or whoever they sold them to. We also do not own The Muppets. Those belong to The Henson family. No money was made from this piece of fiction.

This was intended purely for the fun of it and hopefully to bring a smile or two to our readers.

Warning: Eating or Drinking while reading the following is not recommend


The Cascade Muppet Caper
By Many Maniacal Muppetteers


Jim brought the old blue and white truck to a stop at the red light and sat back in his seat to wait for it to turn green. Sitting next to him was his partner, Blair Sandburg, who was humming that song again. "Sandburg, what is that song? You've been humming it all day and you're about to drive me nuts."

"I can't help it, Jim. It's just that that song has been stuck in my head all day. I can't seem to get it out."

"Yeah, I can tell that, but what song is it?" Jim asked, a bit of impatience slipping into his voice.

"Don't you remember last week? It's the opening to the Muppet Show," Blair replied, a smile creeping onto his face.

Jim thought back to the previous week and the memories came rushing back. "You mean the one with the frog and pig?" He'd ended up having fun that night, but he still wasn't sure what he thought about a giant frog running a variety show.

"Yeah, The Muppet Show. The only problem is I can't remember the words." As Blair finished speaking and started humming again, Jim's police radio came to life. "All units in the vicinity of Marvin and Third. Be on the look out for a blue '98 Impala seen fleeing the scene of a bank robbery. Suspect may be armed and dangerous."

Just then the light turned green and at the same time a blue '98 Chevy Impala sped by. Jim immediately flipped down the visor and turned on his siren and lights and sped after the speeder.

Blair's eyes lit up as he exclaimed, "Now I remember," and he began to sing. "It's time to play the music. It's time to light the lights. It's time to meet the Muppets on the Muppet Show tonight."

Jim glanced at his partner, not sure if he should comment. Instead he handed Sandburg the cell phone. "Call it in, Chief. We're going to go meet this Muppet."

Blair quickly dialed the phone and informed dispatch that he and Jim were in pursuit of the robbery suspect. The entire time, he was trying not to laugh while Jim picked up where Blair left off.

"It's time to put on makeup. It's time to dress up right." Jim didn't even pause as they flew over a hill. "It's time to raise the curtain" they narrowly missed another car at an intersection, "on the Muppet show tonight."

The Impalaís driver was recklessly weaving in and out of traffic and taking corners at top speeds. None of this did anything to  lose his pursuers. Jim was gaining fast. As Blair kept dispatch updated on their location, and other officers joined the chase, Jim kept singing. "Why do we always come here?"

Blair couldn't help laughing and joining in as he grabbed the dash to keep from sliding around during a turn. "I guess we'll never know."

"It's like a kind of torture, to have to watch the show," they both sang in unison.

In a burst of speed, the Chevy began to pull away. "And now let's get things started." Jim floored the accelerator. "Why don't you get things started?"

The Chevy maneuvered around a delivery truck "It's time to get things startedÖ"

Jim deftly swerved around the delivery truck and controlled the resulting fishtail, "Öon the most sensational, inspirational, celebrational, MuppetationalÖ"

The Chevy made a sharp turn and disappeared around a corner, "Öthis is what we call the Muppet Show!"

The blue and white Ford truck sped around the corner just in time to hear the blaring of horns and the twisting of metal as the '98 Chevy Impala collided with a wildly painted bus. Jim brought the truck to a halt next to the wreckage and jumped out expecting to have to help the suspect out of the car, but he stopped short when he realized what was happening.

The occupants of the bus had tried to exit the vehicle only to be stopped by a madman with a gun. The gun-wielding suspect grabbed one of the passengers and dragged her off the bus to use as a hostage against the police.

The rest of the police cruisers formed a semi-circle behind Jim's truck and the situation was now at a standoff. The suspect with his hostage and gun on one side, and Jim and other members of the Cascade PD hiding behind their vehicles with their guns on the other.

Behind the safety of his truck, Jim turned to his partner. "Sandburg, tell me what you see."

Blair looked closely at the scene in front of him before replying. He gasped when he realized what he was seeing. "That's Miss Piggy. That guy is holding Miss Piggy hostage," he exclaimed.

Jim just nodded.

Blair took another look to double-check his original observation. "And, oh my gosh, she's wearing a pink dingo coat like Megan's." Blair wasn't sure whether to laugh at that image or not.

Jim nodded again. He looked like he wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry.

Jim took a deep breath, then stepped out from behind the truck with his hands over his head and his gun in plain view. "All right, let's just stay calm. I'm going to come out so we can talk." Jim edged his way around the truck, always keeping his eyes on the suspect and his hostage. "I'm going to put my gun down so we can talk." As he spoke, Jim placed his gun the hood of his truck.

Jim could easily hear the scared sound of Piggy and the concern of the Muppets still on the bus. "Just let the, umÖ pig go and we can work this out. No one has to get hurt here."

"No way! I want all these cops out of here. I'm taking this bus and we're going to be allowed out of town." The suspect tightened his hold on his hostage and waved his gun around.

Just then there was some activity on the bus and the suspect turned to see what was happening.

"HiYah!!" Piggy took that moment to stomp on his foot and give him a karate chop to the stomach.

As the suspect doubled over he was tackled by a fuzzy red blur that was shouting, "Bad guy! Bad guy! Bad guy!"

As the suspect went down and his gun went flying, the cops surged forward, only to stop short. They weren't sure what to do about the thing that was still attacking their suspect.

"Animal, down! Heel!" Jim had pushed his way through the crowd and was now trying to detach the vicious Muppet.

At hearing his name, Animal looked up. When he recognized Jim his eyes opened wide. "Betty!"

"Yes, Betty. Hey, why don't you go say hi to Al?" Jim motioned to his partner and quickly got out of the way as Animal rushed over to Sandburg.

With Animal out of the way, the police quickly got the suspect into custody and into a patrol car.

Now that the simple part was over, Jim turned to the daunting task of dealing with the Muppets. As he approached the bus, Piggy rushed up to him and wrapped her arms around him.

"Oh RB, I'm so glad you came to save me." Piggy was playing the helpless damsel to the hilt.

Jim hesitantly patted Piggy on the back. "Um, Piggy, I'm not RB. I'm Detective Jim Ellison."

Piggy let go of Jim as if she'd been shocked and the sweet loving voice disappeared. "Oh. Well then." She tossed her hair over her shoulder and headed back to the gathered group of Muppets.

Kermit stepped up to the big detective. "Um, Detective Ellison, I'd like to apologize for last week. We didn'tÖ"

Jim motioned him silent. "Don't worry about it, Kermit. Both Blair and I actually enjoyed the show. I'm sorry we didn't tell you."

Now it was Jim's turn to be silenced. "No, no, I must admit that things get kind of crazy at times."

"Yeah, I noticed," Jim replied through a chuckle. "I thought you guys left town. Moved on to the next theater or something."

"Actually, we did, but we had to come back. I'm really glad we, ha ha, ran into each other. We could use your help. Gonzo is missing."

"Well, we need all of you to come down to the station anyway, so why don't you tell me about it there?"

*

The bullpen was abuzz with activity. Muppets were everywhere -- in the break room, out in the hall, clustered around desks and, to Rhonda's very vocal dismay, under them. Leaping out of her chair as though she were on springs, she took one look at the red fuzzy head leering out at her from beneath her workstation and bolted for the door, shrieking like a banshee. Animal scampered merrily after her.

"Animal! No!" Blair ran hastily after the noisily boisterous Muppet as he chased the extremely disconcerted woman into the hallway. "Stop! Stay!"

"Legs!" roared Animal with an enthusiasm that Blair would have considered lascivious in anyone but a Muppet. Blair managed to grab the tiny masher as he made a leap for the fleeing limbs in question.

"Doughnuts?" Blair suggested hopefully, tugging the little ball of energy toward the break room. Animal hesitated, seeming to debate the relative merits of a snack versus Rhonda's rapidly vanishing form, before finally trotting happily behind Blair into the break room. He continued to cast hopeful glances toward the doorway through which Rhonda had disappeared, though.

At his desk, Jim was doing his best to block out the chaos around him as he attempted to take a statement from three or four different agitated characters at once. He wasn't making much headway. Detectives stood watching nearby or from a careful distance, none of them saying very much. A few were keeping nervous guard over their workstations, after discovering pairs of eyes peeking out at them from inside desk drawers. One agitated woman had to be forcibly prevented from stomping Rizzo into the ground after evacuating him from her snack stash. Jim tried hard to concentrate on the babbling group around him in the midst of the mayhem.

"I'm *sure* he got into the bus in Seacouver," offered Scooter.

"Of course he did -- the chickens say he was with us at least until Denny's," said Kermit. "He must have disappeared then."

"Could you have left him there?" Jim asked, adding to the form on his computer screen.

"We called - they haven't seen him anywhere."

"What did he have to eat?" Fozzie asked.

"What does that matter?" Miss Piggy tossed her hair irritably.

"I dunno, I just wondered. My tuna melt was great. What did you have?" Piggy just glared at him.

Jim sighed in frustration, the muscle in his jaw twitching slightly. "What was he wearing?" he asked Kermit, raising his voice slightly to be heard above the tumult.

"Who ever notices?" snarked Piggy, with another contemptuous head toss that left her looking straight at Megan. The two gazed at each other from across the room, glanced down at their ensembles and then back up at each other with stares of open malice before pointedly turning their backs. Fozzie snickered until Piggy's glare and low growl sent him cowering behind Kermit.

Jim rubbed a hand across his face. "Would he have any reason for taking off on his own?"

Kermit looked concerned. "Not according to the chickens. They were developing a new act using a trampoline and sliced bratwurst." Jim eyed him askance. "Don't ask," Kermit sighed.

At that moment a barely perceptible lull in the tumult caused them all to look up and turn towards the doorway where all the detectives' eyes were focused. Simon stood there with a stunned expression on his face, unmoving except for his eyes, which seemed to grow wider with every sight they took in. His jaw slowly dropped and his cigar fell to the floor with a faint 'thunk'. Like a lightning bolt, Animal streaked out of the break room, scooped up the fallen stogie and disappeared around a corner. Blair followed closely behind him, his shouts of "Heel!" echoing down the hallway. Simon didn't move.

"Sir." Jim stood and approached his captain. "These are some...friends," he paused to watch a man chase Rizzo from the room with a broom, "er, acquaintances from our recent television appearance. You remember, sir, the program I told you about?" Simon nodded slowly. "One of their group has gone missing, sir, and they're here to fill out a report." Simon still didn't respond.

"If I may?" Kermit had approached and now addressed the towering men from many feet below them. "Kermit the Frog, here. Pleased to meet you." He stretched a flipper up toward Simon, who, after a moment's pause, leaned down and shook it. "If I could just have a minute of your time, maybe I can explain." A crash from the break room followed by frenzied clucking made them all jump. Kermit winced. "Someplace quieter, maybe?"

Simon nodded and slowly, with the unfocused look of a sleepwalker, led Kermit, who waved reassuringly to Jim as he followed, toward his office. Jim watched the two with some concern as they disappeared inside and closed the door, and then, with a deep sigh, turned back to his desk. Piggy, having pinned Rafe into a corner, was batting her eyes with enough force to blow the papers off a nearby desk while fingering the material of his expensive suit with an appreciative smile.

Rafe's nervous mumbles and Piggy's answering coos were too soft to be distinguishable in the general hubbub of the bullpen, but their meaning was clear - Rafe was the hunk du jour. With a sympathetic grin that was nonetheless grateful that Piggy's attentions had shifted, he returned to the helpfully waiting Scooter and the somewhat less helpful Fozzie to continue his report.

*

"So you see, sir, we're very worried, and we thought the best thing to do would be to come here and officially report Gonzo missing."

Simon nodded, the unfocused glaze still present in his eyes. "And Gonzo is?"

"One of our performers. Not one of the best, maybe, but he's a part of our family." Kermit's misunderstanding of the captain's question seemed unintentional. Simon let it slide. "We enjoyed meeting Detective Ellison and Mr. Sandburg on the show, they were very good sports. And we have every confidence they'll be able to help us." Kermit gazed earnestly up at Simon, who once again nodded slowly.

"And you missed him after?"

"Lunch at Denny's." Kermit made a face. "Not the best lunch I've ever had. The food wasn't good, and the service was very slow. It was like they didn't see us half the time."

"I can understand that," the captain murmured. "I'm not sure I see you myself." He looked thoughtfully down at the angels on his desk, adjusting them slightly. "I had dinner at Denny's last night." He stilled, and then smiled and looked brightly up at Kermit, a look of desperate relief on his face. "I had the tuna melt. I like it, but it never agrees with me."

"So did Fozzie," offered Kermit.

Simon nodded and his smile grew to a maniacal grin. "Yes, I'm sure he did."

Simon leaned back in his chair and laughed, rather dementedly, Kermit thought. Simonís eyes, though now more focused, didn't look quite right, somehow.

"Yes, I'm sure. A dream! I've got indigestion, and I'm dreaming. That has to be it." He snickered. "Not that bad, as nightmares go. I've certainly had worse." He cast a pointed glance in the general direction of Jim's desk and shook his head. When he turned back to Kermit he seemed to notice the puzzled frown on the frog's face.

"Don't worry, Mr. the Frog--"

"Kermit, please."

"Kermit." Simon's grin ran from ear to ear. "I'm sure Detective Ellison will have your friend back with you in no time." Simon reached into a box on his desk and pulled out a cigar, gesturing with it toward Kermit. "Smoke?"

"Um, no, thank you," Kermit declined, a bit nervously, as he stood and sidled toward the door. "Thank you for your time, sir."

"No problem, none at all. Any time." Simon waggled his fingers with what only very brave or very foolish men would have called a giggle as Kermit slipped through the door and closed it.

"Sheesh." Kermit shook his head. "And people call *us* strange."

Testily punching the 'enter' key, Jim looked up and saw Kermit standing bemusedly outside Simon's door. At Jim's beckoning gesture, Kermit crossed the room to join him. Scooter bounced happily in place as he helped Jim finish filling in such details as Gonzo's age, height and distinguishing characteristics - which were definitely distinguishing, Jim mused, while not in the least distinguished.

"Everything go okay?" Jim asked, his brow creased anxiously.

Kermit paused before speaking. "Has Captain Banks been feeling okay?" Jim frowned and nodded. Kermit shook his head. "I'm a little worried about him - maybe he's been under some stress."

Jim opened his mouth to answer but stopped and blinked as the sound of singing met his ears - and the voice sounded suspiciously like...

Seeking out the source of the sound, Jim encountered a sight that made his eyes bug in their sockets and his jaw drop. Through the open office door he watched in amazement as Simon, enthusiastically accompanied by Fozzie Bear, performed an impromptu soft-shoe shuffle while singing "Tea for Two."

*

"Uh, I think you may be right, Kermit. Perhaps the captain has been under a bit of a strain, lately." Jim looked frantically around for someone to help. Spotting Joel outside the glass doors to the bullpen, he gestured for him to come in. Joel, meeting his eyes, pointed at himself and then towards Jim.

At Jim's nod, he shook his head and backed away. Jim gave the older man a pleading look and managed not to smile as he saw the big detective slump in dejected acquiescence.

"What can I do to help, Jim?" Joel was looking nervously around, wondering if it wouldn't be better to call in the SWAT Team to help.

"Can you take care of Simon, please? He's, um, a little distracted." Both men turned to look at the dancing and singing captain and bear.

"Sure. How about I take him home?" Joel asked, hopefully.

"That'd be great." With a big grin of relief, Joel went over and pried his friend from Fozzie's clutches and, speaking calmly and softly to him, got him out of the door and to the elevator. Jim gave Kermit a sickly grin. "Now, back to Gonzo. Are you sure he was with you at Denny's?"

*

Detective Brown, stepping off the elevator, watched curiously as Joel Taggart guided a very strangely giggling Captain Banks into the vacated car. Joel grinned at him and wished him "Good Luck," as the doors closed.

Shaking his head, Brown turned towards the bullpen. His eyes widened in shock. "Rowlf? Rowlf! Is that you, man? I mean, dog?"

The Muppet in question turned and grinned. "Hairless! Hey, man. What's hapnin'? I haven't seen you since that gig in Vancouver, my man! How you been?"

"Rowlf, my favorite piano pounder! Man, it's been what, ten years, at least! What brings you here?"

"We lost Gonzo," the doggish Muppet announced, sadly.

"Oh, man, that's tight. What's he play? Maybe I'd know where to look?"

"Uh, Hairless, he's not a musician, exactly, although he can blast a trumpet pretty good, sometimes," Rowlf said, looking up at him with sad, puppy-dog eyes.

At that moment, Blair, who had finally managed to catch and hang on to Animal, came by, just in time to hear what Rowlf called his friend.

"Hairless?" Blair started giggling. "Your nickname is 'Hairless'?" He started laughing harder. "Oh, man. That's too much, man."

Brown winced in sudden embarrassment, then he recognized the red-headed Muppet in Blair's arms. "Animal? Is that you? Hey, Animal, you still playin' the drums?"

The Muppet looked at Brown for several long moments, trying to remember who he might be, then his face lit up. "HAIRLESS! Hairlesshairlesshairless! Animal drums! Yeah, me want play. JAM SESSION!" He wiggled hard and escaped from Blair's hold. "JAM SESSION! JAM SESSION!"

He pulled a pair of drumsticks from somewhere and started beating out a rhythm on the wall. "Where Hairless guitar?" Animal frowned for a moment. "JANICE!" Animal screamed. "JAM SESSION!"

The other members of the band appeared seemingly magically, with an extra guitar for Brown. In moments, they had some heavy tunes going. Brown grinned and gave each member of the band a big hug. "Janice, pretty lady, how you been, darlin'?"

"I've been fine, fer sure, fer sure, Hairless. Well, until we lost Gonzo, that is. But I know that nice detective will find him for us." She handed Brown an extra guitar and lay down a riff in time to Animal's drumming.

"Floyd, my man! How's it hangin?"

"Dead center, Hairless ol' buddy!" Floyd laughed and started laying down bass.

"How's about you, Zoot? Still the coolest axe-man on earth?"

"Huh? Oh, yeah, man, and in outer space, too, dude!" Zoot grabbed his sax and started wailing on it. Brown listened for a moment, as Rowlf pushed a piano in from somewhere, sat at the stool and started tickling the ivories. His body moving in time to the music, Brown joined in. Blair stood and marveled. Then, with a shrug, figuring that at least Animal was better occupied, he headed back into the bullpen to see if he could help Jim.

*

Joel eased Simon into the passenger-side front seat of his sedan. Simon was still giggling a bit maniacally, which had Joel worried. Simon was one of the most stable men he knew, and if he was losing it, they were all in trouble. He was so distracted with his concern for his friend, he didn't notice the large shadow that detached itself from the shadows and climbed in the back seat as he circled around to get behind the wheel. Making sure Simon had his seatbelt on, Joel fastened his own seatbelt and started the car, eased out of his parking stall and headed for the exit and Simon's house. He didn't notice the large motor home illegally parked in front of the station.

*

"What are we going to tell them?" the old man asked his equally elderly companion.

"I don't know. What can we say? It was an accident?"

"Well, it was!" the first man replied, then burst into loud guffaws.

"I suppose that's true. Let's go and face the music, then." The two elderly men got out of their motor home and stood on the sidewalk, trying to get up the courage to enter the police station.

"This was so nice of you, Bill, to pick me up and bring me down to see Blair." Naomi Sandburg wasn't even aware of how she was flirting with William Ellison. Like her son, it was automatic, any time she found herself in the company of a good-looking man.

"It's my pleasure, Naomi," William purred back at her. It had been a long time since a woman even half as pretty and nice as Naomi had flirted with him. He was smitten, and couldn't help himself.

*

Joel parked in Simon's garage, since the Captain's car was still at the station. Simon had fallen asleep during the drive and Joel had to awaken him.

"Hey, Simon? We're here. Time to wake up. You feeling any better?"

"Oh, man, my head aches like I just came off a three day binge."

"Yeah? Well, I can understand that. Let's get you inside."

"What happened, Joel? I had this crazy dream that the station was taken over by weird-looking little people and animals. I could have sworn I held a conversation with a talking frog..."

"Uh, yeah. That would have been Kermit. Nice frog. Very polite."

"Joel..." Simon growled. "Do not go feeding my delusions. I'm already in enough trouble."

Joel smiled. He agreed that it was a bit difficult to believe, but the truth was still the truth. "Fine, let's get inside and you can tell me more of your delusions and I'll tell you if they were real or not."

"You are not reassuring me, Joel."

Joel just laughed.

*

"Bill? Bill Ellison? Is that you?" One of the elderly men on the sidewalk looked up at the couple.

"Of course it's him, Waldorf!" the other one exclaimed.

William and Naomi stopped and William frowned down at the two old codgers for just a moment before his face lit up in pleased surprise.

"Statler and Waldorf! I haven't seen you two in years! How are you both doing?"

"Well, we have a little problem," Waldorf began.

"We accidentally picked up something that doesn't belong to us," Statler finished.

"Now, we're trying to decide how to fix it," the two old men said in unison.

"What did you take?" Naomi asked, curiously.

"Oh, forgive me!" William said, remembering his manners, "Naomi Sandburg, these gentlemen are Statler and Waldorf. I used to occasionally do business with them. Guys, this is Naomi Sandburg, a friend."

Statler and Waldorf chuckled rather lewdly, Naomi thought, but she smiled sweetly at them, nevertheless. "It's a pleasure to meet you," she murmured.

"Hey, maybe my son can help you with your problem," William said, snapping his fingers. "He's a detective and..."

Statler and Waldorf looked at one another in horror, screamed in unison and bolted for their motor home, fired up the engine and peeled away from the curb in a cloud of smoke.

"I wonder what's wrong with them?" Naomi murmured, taking William's arm, and walking with him into the police station.

*

Sweetums got out of Joel's car after the two men went into the house. Curious, the huge creature looked around the garage, then opened the door and entered. Simon and Joel were sitting on the couch and Simon was bewailing the loss of his sanity when he looked up to see the gigantic Muppet.

"Joel?"

"Yes, Simon?"

"Joel, there's one of them here. In my house. Tell it to go away, Joel. It's bigger than I am." Joel looked up at the grinning monster and fainted.

Simon looked at his unconscious friend and decided that fainting was a pretty good idea, and tried it himself.

Sweetums gently gathered the two men up and cradled their heads on his lap. Deciding that it must be their naptime, he softly began to croon a lullaby.

*

Jim and Blair were trying to ignore the Muppet infestation for a few minutes while focusing on the missing Muppet, Gonzo, when a shrieking voice caught their attention.

"JIM!!!! JIM ELLISON!"

Cassie raced into Major Crime, yelling his name with Animal on her heels gleefully shouting, "Woman! Woman! Woman! ANIMAL WANT WOOOMANNN!!!"

"No accounting for his taste in women," Megan muttered as the forensics chief ran by with the Muppet right behind her. Skidding to a stop before Jim's desk, Cassie held Animal away with a hand to his forehead as she glared at Jim. "What the hell is going on here?"

"Problems, Cassie?" the Sentinel inquired with an amused smile.

"That, Jim, is a massive understatement! There is some... thing running around in my lab... it doesnít even speak English! It just... jabbers at me! Then I come up here to get somebody to come get it, pest control maybe, and this *thing* starts chasing me!"

"His name's Animal," Blair provided with a helpful smile.

"I don't care!!!!" Cassie wailed dramatically. "He's chased me up four floors... and I'm in heels! I've fallen so many times it's a miracle there's anything left of my pantyhose!" She held up a leg as evidence. Sure enough, her panty hose were all but shredded.

"So what do you want me to do?" Jim asked, no longer bothering to hide his grin.

"Get this thing off me! And the other one out of my lab!" the redhead shrieked at him.

"Sorry Cassie," Blair shrugged. "Animal does what he wants, but we might be able to help with the other guy."

"But the other guy isn't chasing me around the building! He's just destroying my lab!!!" Cassie gave Animal a thump on the nose and the Muppet howled in pain.

"OW!! BAD WOMAN!" The Muppet turned and spotted Megan.

"WOMAN SMELL NICE!" he announced and raced across the room to the Australian's side.

Blair and Jim shared a look and both started to snicker.

"Cassie," Jim began, trying to compose his face into a professional expression. "Is it my imagination... or did you just get dumped by a Muppet?"

"UGH!" Cassie glared at him and stalked out of Major Crimes, the sound of Jim and Blair's uproarious laughter following her out.

*

When things had settled down a bit -- well, as settled as they were going to get with the bullpen under full scale Muppet invasion -- Blair excused himself to go to the break room and get something to eat. Opening the door, the observer paused and gaped in shock. Standing at the table, a big bowl before him with chickens clucking around his feet, was the Swedish Chef who was gleefully singing to himself as he threw all manner of snacks into the steel bowl.

"Heya, Sandburg!" Rizzo announced, trotting over with a Snickers bar in one hand and a Pepsi bottle in the other. "Feelin' a bit hungry?"

"I was..." Blair said numbly, "until..."

Rizzo nodded sagely. "Yeah, man, the Chef's cookin's a bit off today." He bit into the bar, completely ignoring the unsavory odor of the aforementioned cooking. "The whole Gonzo missing deal's got him all out of sorts."

"Out of sorts?" Blair leaned over to look in the bowl and suddenly wished he hadn't. Crime scenes weren't that disgusting. Looking faint, he scrambled backward and the Chef looked up in surprise then held out the bowl, jabbering in his version of the Swedish language.

"Uh, no thanks, man." The curly-haired man held up his hands and backed toward the door. "Just came in to get Rizzo."

Appeased, the Chef nodded and Blair, thankful to be free, grabbed Rizzo by the scruff of the neck and yanked him out the
door.

"Hey, watch the fur! Watch the fur!!" Rizzo protested, seeming to be more interested in protecting his lunch than his hairdo.

"Don't you mean watch the food?" Blair asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Yeah, that too." Rizzo took another bite of his bar. "Man, you guys have it good! All that food in one spot?! Heaven!"

"Don't you guys have vending machines?"

"Sure! But between you and me, never get between Miss Piggy and one of those. That pig's one tough lady when she's hungry." Rizzo shuddered slightly. "Worse than lunch time at my place."

"How bad was that?"

"Let's put it this way." Rizzo dodged one of the chickens who was eyeing H's box of Kentucky Fried with an expression of pure horror. "My siblings? Numbered in the triple digits. Imagine the chaos when Mom yelled LUNCH!"

Blair pictured the scene and shuddered. "How'd you ever eat?"

Rizzo grinned. "Trick was to sneak in and grab yours before she yelled out... and avoid getting ganged up on by the younger ones."

Shaking his head, Blair deftly managed to avoid Miss Piggy's fingers, which were reaching for his behind. "Rizzo, wanna help me get a Muppet out of Forensics? Before Cassie has a fit?"

"Cassie?"

"Red hair? Very annoying? Came in here a few minutes ago, shrieking for Jim?"

"Ooohh! That one?!" Rizzo shook his head. "Uh uh. She does not look friendly toward us rats... I like living." With the quickness typical of his species, Rizzo vanished into the crowd of Major Crimes.

Frowning, Blair shrugged and backpedaled to Rafe's desk where Piggy had returned to sweet talk him. "Hey, Rafe?"

The detective gave him a pleading look. "Yeah, Blair?"

"Um, I need your help with something."

"Oh, GM!" Piggy said sweetly, moving to attach herself to him.

"Uh, its Blair, ma'am," he corrected, trying to back away.

"Blair..." Piggy frowned. "You mean, you're not... Hmpf!" With that she stalked away.

"THANK YOU!" Rafe sighed in relief. "Now, what's up?"

"Uh, remember Cassie's little act?" Blair started toward the door. "I think we'd better rescue that poor Muppet before she goes off the deep end."

"Works for me," his friend announced. "At this point, I'd invade Cuba if it meant *she* wasn't there."

Blair grinned. "Aw, c'mon Rafe, you should be honored that Piggy thinks you're a hunk."

The look that he received for that comment could have broken every mirror in the building.

*

Sitting back in his chair, Jim chuckled at the conversation Blair'd been having with Rizzo, then the one he was having with Rafe.

To say the Muppets were having a chaotic affect on the department was to make a massive understatement.

He paused then, a confused look appearing on his face.

He had to be wrong...

No way had he just heard what he'd thought he'd heard.

Naomi Sandburg? Flirting with his father?

No way. Not a chance. He must have heard people who sounded like Naomi and William.

Yeah, that was it.

Had to be.

Please let it be.

He shuddered and made a faint Ďewí sound.

If they ever...

No way. They wouldn't.

Would they?

*

Blair and Rafe exited the elevator, and Rafe led the way to the forensics lab. As they walked down the hall, something in a branching hallway caught Blair's attention.

"Psssst. Hey, buddy. Wanna buy a ĎCí?"

Blair blinked at the suspicious-looking Muppet. He wore a trench coat, and had a fedora pulled low over his eyes, if he had eyes, which Blair doubted, knowing Muppets, but that was just too weird to contemplate. The young man watched as the Muppet opened a flap of his coat to reveal an upper-case "C" hanging on the inside.

"Uh . . . " Blair hesitated, not quite sure what to do with such an offer. Was it legal to surreptitiously sell letters in the police station of a major metropolitan area? This wasn't "Wheel of Fortune," after all.

Seeing Blair's reluctance, the Muppet continued in a low tone. "'C' is a very useful letter, pal. If it weren't for 'C,' you wouldn't be living in Cascade." He emphasized the first letter of the word. "And you won't find any 'clues' without it."

Blair pulled back in surprise. "Wait. You're saying I need to buy a clue?"

"Hey, look, buddy, it's no skin off my back. But without it, you've got no *c*ase."

This was a truly bizarre conversation, but even odder was the fact that Blair found himself going along with it. "So how much?"

"A c-note. What else?"

"A c-note???" Blair exclaimed. When the Muppet said nothing, Blair pulled out his wallet with a sigh. He pulled out the crisp
$100 bill that he kept there for emergencies and reluctantly handed it to the Muppet in exchange for the "C." The transaction
complete, the Muppet slinked down the hallway and disappeared.

Blair re-entered the main corridor to find Rafe waiting for him. "What happened to you?"

Blair showed the detective the letter. "I hope I just bought us a clue." At Rafe's puzzled expression, Blair explained, "'Clue' begins with the letter 'c.'"

The two men continued down the hallway. "Well, yeah," Rafe said, "but if it weren't for the letter 'c,' we wouldn't have to deal with the situation in *C*assie's lab."

"True," Blair replied, "but Megan wouldn't have a last name, either. 'Connor' begins with the letter 'c.'"

"And Jim wouldn't have met Carolyn."

"And we'd never be able to get a collar or a conviction."

"But there wouldn't be any crime," Rafe pointed out.

"Yeah, but there wouldn't be any coffee, either."

At that thought, both men furrowed their brows and shuddered at the thought of life without coffee.

Finally, they reached the forensics lab. Cassie was nowhere to be seen, but there were two Muppets tinkering with the equipment.

"Hello, and welcome to Muppet Labs, where the future is being made today."

A short, round-headed Muppet with glasses but no eyes (again, Blair decided that it was just too weird to contemplate) greeted them. Beside him stood a tall skinny Muppet with a shock of red hair. "I'm Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, and this is my assistant, Beeker."

The tall skinny Muppet held out a hand to the two humans. "Memememememe."

He shook both their hands in turn.

"Dr. Honeydew, I'm Detective Rafe, and I'm afraid I must ask you toÖ"

"Oh! A detective! Good," said the Muppet, completely ignoring what the man was about to tell him. "I think we have a clue to our missing weirdo."

"Weirdo?" Rafe asked.

"Yeah," Blair explained. "Gonzo's a weirdo."

"Memememe," Beeker said insistently as he pulled Blair over to the microscope.

As Blair peered into the microscope, Dr. Honeydew continued. "We found these in Gonzo's booth at Denny's. The strange thing is, he didn't order any cookies."

Rafe took his turn at the microscope. "Cookie crumbs?"

"Rafe, you know what this means, don't you?" Blair asked.

Rafe looked up and shook his head slightly.

Blair looked at the letter he was still holding. "C'mon, man. 'Cookie crumbs' starts with the letter 'c.'"

At that moment, a furry blue monster with a very large mouth appeared from under the lab table. "Cookie!!!" he hollered. "'C' is for 'cookie.í" And he grabbed the 'c' from Blair and gobbled it down in a rain of crumbs. He also snatched the crumbs from the microscope slide and gobbled them down as well, then disappeared through the door and down the hallway.

"Aw, man!" Blair exclaimed in frustration. "We lost our only clue."

"Maybe not, Sandburg. At least we have something to be on the lookout for when we investigate the scene."

"Good point. Let's get back upstairs. Gotta tell Jim about this."

"Beeker and I will continue on this end," Dr. Honeydew called behind the investigators. As Blair and Rafe arrived at the elevator, they heard a slight explosion coming from the lab. Looking back and seeing that the room was not on fire, they decided to continue back to the bullpen.

*

"Detective Ellison." The low, authoritative voice shook the man from his ponderings. He looked up to see a blue eagle approaching his desk.

"Yes?" he replied, rubbing his eyes and sighing.

"Detective Ellison. Allow me to introduce myself. Sam the Eagle. And may I just say, sir, how honored I am that *you* are handling this case. I'm not sure Gonzo deserves such fine treatment, but he is one of us, and with you on the case, I'm certain we'll find the little weirdo in no time."

Jim replied with a tight smile.

"And," the eagle continued, "if I may be of any assistance whatsoever, please, do not hesitate to ask. I would be honored, *honored* to work with such a fine, upstanding member of this fine department."

"Well, thank you," Jim said, turning back to his file, hoping the Muppet would get the hint and leave.

"I assure you, *Captain* Ellison, the pleasure is all mine. *You*, sir, are a hero and a patriot. My services are entirely at your--"

The detective raised a hand to stop the eagle's rambling and gave the Muppet a tight smile. "Look, I appreciate the sentiment, Mr. Eagle, but--"

"Please, call me 'Sam.'"

"--Sam, but I've got a lot of work to do here if I'm going to find your friend." (And on top of that I need to figure out just what my dad and Sandburg's mom are up to.) Then a thought occurred to him, an idea that would keep this Muppet, at least, out of his hair and hopefully garner him the necessary information regarding his and his partner's parental units. "Sam, how are you at keeping a low profile?" Jim asked.

"Well, I--"

"Because I have a very important job for you." The eagle stood up straighter, awaiting his orders. "In a few minutes, there's going to be an older man and a woman with red hair getting off that elevator. I need to know what's going on with them."

"Do you believe they are involved in Gonzo's disappearance?" the eagle asked seriously.

"No, but their comings and goings are very important to my partner and myself. Is that understood?"

"Understood, Sir," the Muppet said with a crisp salute. He then turned on his heel (although Jim wasn't 100% sure Muppets had heels), and marched out of the bullpen to find a strategic point from which to await his surveillance subjects.

Just as Sam found a spot, the elevator opened, but it was not a man and woman who emerged. Instead, two men exited the car and headed quickly into the bullpen. Blair made a beeline for Jim's desk while Rafe headed for his own.

"Look, you and Jim head out to the crime scene. Brown and I will keep an eye on what's going on down in the lab."

"Yeah, ok. Good plan," Blair nodded. "Just try to keep those guys out of Serena's way, and make sure they share any information they get with her. You know as well as I do that if we're going to make any sort of progress, Serena's going to have to be in on it."

"Will do," Rafe replied as he set out to find his partner.

"Hey, Jim!" Blair bounced with enthusiasm. "I think we've got a clue. Well, actually I bought a clue. A letter, really. The letter 'c'. For 'clue,' ya know?" The words were spilling from the young man's mouth so quickly, Jim frowned with concentration trying to catch them all. He listened as Blair related the story of the Muppet in the hallway, the evidence of crumbs found at the scene of the disappearance, and the furry blue monster that ate said evidence.

When Blair finally stopped for a breath, Jim asked with concern, "Sandburg, do you realize how dangerous it is to purchase letters from strange Muppets lurking in hallways?"

"Yeah, but, Jim, it's the best I could think of to give us something to go on."

The detective nodded as he took his coat from the coat rack behind his desk. "Good work. Let's get out to that crime scene. Grab your coat, Chief. Let's roll."

As Blair grabbed his coat and what he thought was his backpack, he asked his friend excitedly, "Jim! Do you know what you just said? 'Crime, 'coat,' and 'Chief!' They all begin with the letter 'c!'"

*

Joel groaned. He hated it when he fell asleep on the sofa. He shifted and stretched, his eyes opening...and focusing on the enormous Muppet who was cradling him in his lap. Joel sat up abruptly, momentarily afraid, but immediately realized that as frightening as the size of the 'thing' was, it had kind eyes and obviously meant him no harm.

"Uh, hi, there. What's your name?" he asked, cautiously.

"Sweetums," the monster replied. Joel couldn't help but grin.

"Sweetums?" he asked, his voice nearly squeaking as he tried not to laugh. He smiled broadly and realized that the name probably was a good description. He noticed that Sweetums still had Simon cradled in his lap. His friend had a worried look on his face, even while unconscious.

"Hey, Simon?" Joel nudged his friend. "Simon, wake up." Simon groaned and shifted.

Simon heard Joel calling him to wake up. He groaned and shifted, trying to move the heavy blankets from his shoulder. His hand came across fur... fur? His eyes snapped open and he looked at the fur-covered hand resting on his shoulder, cuddling him against.... He turned his head and stared, his eyes bulging.

"What!?"

"It's all right, Simon. This is Sweetums. He's friendly," Joel reassured him.

"Friendly?" Simon gasped, gaping at the sheer size of the monster. Finally, his gaze was caught by the 'monster's' eyes and he realized that Joel was right. It was friendly. "Uh, how do you do, Sweetums?"
 

The huge, snaggle-toothed monster smiled, showing very scary teeth. "Sweetums fine, thank you. You feel better, now? Have a nice nap?"

"Uh, yes, actually, I do feel better." Simon turned his gaze on his friend. "Joel, what exactly is going on?"

"Remember when Jim and Blair were on the Muppet Show?"

"Yes," Simon replied cautiously.

"Well, they're back. Seems they've lost a member of their troupe, and are worried about him. Jim and Blair are trying to find him. He's some weirdo named Gonzo."

"Gonzo lost," Sweetums interjected sadly.

"Miss Gonzo," he added, looking ready to cry.

"We'll find him," Simon promised. He stood up and straightened out his clothes. "We'd better get back to the station and coordinate it. Ellison and Sandburg are going to need backup."

Joel rose and brushed off the long hair Sweetums had shed onto his suit. "Come on. I'll drive us back. Don't worry, Sweetums, Jim and Blair are the best we have. If anyone can find Gonzo, they can."

The two men and one monster hurried out to Joel's car and prepared to return to the station. Joel glanced at Simon, who was chomping on an unlit cigar. "Don't you think Jim and Blair can handle it on their own?" he asked, teasingly. Simon glanced at the monster in the back seat and turned his best 'I'm the captain' glare on his friend, who laughed and started the car.

*

Upon reaching the crime scene, Jim and Blair alighted from the truck. "Ok, Jim, since we're talking about baked goods here, letís start with your sense of smell."

Jim nodded. "Do you know what kind of cookies I'm looking for, Chief?"

"No, man, I'm sorry. We didn't get a chance to get the crumbs to Serena before that cookie monster ate them. Or 'consumed' them," Blair amended. "'Consumed' starts with the letter 'c.'"

"Look, Sandburg, this letter 'c' thing is getting a little annoying."

"Yeah, ok. I'll try to contain myself." The young man smirked. "Ya know, 'contained' starts--"

Jim raised a hand before his friend had a chance to finish the sentence.

"Ok, ok, ok," Blair laughed. "Now let's get started."

Jim closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. A pensive frown formed on his face as he latched onto a scent.

"You got something?"

"Yeah. Very faint, but . . . did you notice any chocolate on the crumbs you saw?"

Blair shook his head. "I don't think so. Why?"

"Because I'm picking up chocolate mint. Like Girl Scout thin mints."

"Chocolate mint?" Then the young man's eyes grew wide in realization. "Jim, 'chocolate' starts with the letter-"

Again the detective cut his friend short as he strode with determination to the source of the smell. He bent down to find chocolate mint cookie crumbs and a pink feather. Pulling on a latex glove, he picked up the feather to examine it.

"A pink feather?" Blair puzzled. "What's that mean?"

"I don't know, Chief," Jim replied as he put it in an evidence bag.

"Jim, man, this case gets weirder by the minute. I'll tell ya what. I'm one confused anthropologist."

No sooner had the words escaped his lips than the sky flashed with lightning, and a Muppet dressed in a white shirt and black cape and sporting a wicked-looking pair of canines appeared.

"That's one! One confused anthropologist! Hahahaha!" exclaimed the Count, and then he disappeared.

*

Jim quickly clamped his hands over his ears at the sudden and unexpected noise, evidence bag still clutched in his hand.

Blair stood mutely, mouth agape. "Wha...WhaÖ" he stuttered, "what was that?"

Jim slowly lowered his hands, "I'm not going there," he stated resolutely.

"But, Jim, man."

"Sandburg! I repeat, I'm not going there!"

Blair shrugged his shoulders. Jim thrust the evidence bag with the pink feather at him. "So what happens now?" Blair questioned as he and Jim got into the truck.

"Let's head back and see if anybody, uh, anything saw anything or heard anything suspicious before Gonzo disappeared, if he had any enemies."

"Do you think that a weirdo has enemies?"

"Chief, there's no reason to call him names."

"Jim, that's what he is--a weirdo. That's his, umm, species? For lack of a better word." Jim just glared at him as he started the truck.

"Look," Blair said to placate his Sentinel, "let's go get something to eat at Wonderburger."

Jim shot him a suspicious look. "What did you do?"

"Nothing," Blair said in exasperation, "I'm hungry and I want no part of what the Swedish Chef was concocting back in the break room, no rodents running around on two legs, and no chickens looking at me accusingly if I decide I want to have a chicken salad sandwich. It gives new meaning to the saying Ďwatch what you eatí."

Jim grinned. "Okay, but I don't want to hear anything about injecting lard into my veins when I order."

Blair held up his hands placatingly. "You got it."

"Here, take this and put it in your backpack." Jim handed him the evidence bag.

Blair took it off-handedly, not really looking at his backpack as he reached for it. If he had, he would have noticed something not quite right. "You know, Jim," he said as he grabbed the backpack. "This case is very complex." Blair didn't notice that the top was already open and was getting wider. He slid the plastic bag in and suddenly found his arm suddenly trapped.

He looked down and saw two eyes surrounded by long eyelashes staring back up at him with a hopeful expression. A small tuft of hair was at the top, and the backpack straps now looked like four legs, and it had suddenly sprouted a little tail that wagged back and forth madly.

Blair swallowed convulsively. "Uh, Jim?" he squeaked. He cleared his throat and tried again, "Uh, Jim? We might have a slight problem with the evidence, not to mention my arm."

"What now, Sandburg?" Jim asked, quickly glancing toward his partner.

"Ummmm, look?" Sandburg asked weakly with a sickly grin.

Jim did. "That's not funny, Chief."

"You're telling me? It's my arm!"

"Let go of the evidence bag and see if it'll let you go."

Gingerly Blair released the bag and slid his arm out. His former backpack batted its eyes and burped delicately. Its little pink tongue came out and licked its lips. It looked at Blair pleadingly.

"Uh, I don't have any more." For a moment the little creature looked like it was about to cry, "Yet," Blair added hastily, turning the pout into a hopeful look.

"Must be female," Jim muttered under his breath as he pulled into Wonderburger.

"What?" Blair asked

"Nothing. Just remember, not a word about what I choose to eat."

"Whatever man, it's your body."

"It is, Sandburg, and you better remember that."

"Do you think it'll be all right in the truck by itself, Jim?" Blair asked as he looked back before entering the eatery.

"Sandburg, it's just a backpack."

"If you say so," Blair said unconvinced. "So Jim, do you think we should get a takeout for my backpack? You know as a bribe to get the evidence back?"

Later, as they walked back out to the Ford, fed and full, Blair's, uh, backpack saw them and began to race excitedly back and forth across the seat, its little pink tongue hanging out in a smile, its tail wagging like mad.

"You know, Blair," Jim said almost conversationally, "if I find any little gifts on the front seat, I'm gonna take it out of your hide."

"Come on, Jim, like I have any control over THAT!" Jim just looked at his partner as he opened the door.

As soon as Blair was seated, he was attacked by a pink tongue attached to his former backpack.

"Definitely a female."

"I HEARD that."

"Let's just get back to the station and get the evidence back and analyzed. Did you bring the, uh, doggy bag?"

"I have it, but I don't know if it will like it."

As they walked into Major Crimes, they garnered some strange looks from the rest of the detectives and officers there.

However, to the Muppets, it just seemed normal.

"Hey, Jim! That's..."

ďI don't want to hear it."

"Ellison! What is--?"

"Leave it alone!"

"Geez, Jim, can't you--"

"Shut up! I know what it looks like, okay..."

All the while, Blair just snickered.

"Okay," Jim said, turning his stare on the former luggage piece, as they sat at Jim's desk. "You have something I want." He proceeded to pull out the Wonderburger doggy bag. "I have something you want. I'll trade you for it." The backpack just cocked its head assessingly.

Jim ran his hand through his hair. "I can't believe I'm bargaining with a backpack. Look," he tried again, "I need that evidence." The backpack just blinked its incredibly long eyelashes at him. Jim turned away, frustrated, and suddenly whirled back around. "Okay! I'm done bargaining with you. Either you give me that evidence or I hand you over to the Swedish chef... And I'm sure he'd like to make Backpack Fricassee."

The backpack yipped and tried to burrow into Blair.

"Look, Jim! Now you scared it! Here, let me try."

"Fine, Sandburg, do your best."

"Now look," Blair said soothingly, "we need that evidence to help us find Gonzo. You want us to find Gonzo, right?" The backpack looked as if it agreed. "So why don't you just open up, I'll grab the evidence bag and you can have the Wonderburger."

Slowly, the backpack opened up, keeping a wary eye on the volatile detective. Cautiously Blair put his hand in, being careful to dodge the sharp pointy teeth his backpack seemed to have acquired, and quickly extricated said evidence bag. "See," he smiled, "that wasn't so bad now, was it?" He gave the doggy bag to the creature and it quickly scurried away with its treat, causing exclamations of surprise as it did.

"I guess that means I'll have to get a new backpack for Rainier," Blair said with fond sentiment as he watched it rush away.

*

"C'mon, Jim, it's our only clue," Sandburg pointed out reasonably, urging Jim to give the feather a once-over with his own, unique organic equipment. He handed the evidence bag over to Jim, who promptly dropped it on his desktop.

"It's a pink feather, Sandburg!" Jim balked. "I don't even know if it's natural or dyed, a real clue or a lousy fashion statement! For all I know, it could've come from Connor's feather boa!"

"Ah, Jim, you're not really accusing Megan of--?"

"No, of course not, Chief. All I'm saying is this evidence needs to be examined by a professional, someone skilled in forensic evaluation."

Blair reached his own conclusion and blanched. "You mean Sam." Samantha and Blair were in an off-again phase of their relationship (the grapevine had it that Sam had found out about Blair's Chinese carry-in luncheon with Cassie and had NOT been pleased). "Well, good luck, catch you later, man. I'm gonna track down my backpack--the real one, it's gotta be around here somewhere." And the anthropologist split, singing "Val-der-rie" under his breath.

"Chicken," Jim taunted, and heard a "bowk, bo-wk?" in answer. Jim shook his head, not wanting to have another conversation with one of Gonzo's distraught hens. The weirdo has a bigger harem than Sandburg, Jim thought, amazed, as he scooted out of the bullpen.

Forty-five minutes later, Jim returned to the Major Crimeís bullpen. He had been downstairs in the crime lab, lighting a fire under Samantha's (admittedly shapely) derriere, so that she'd process their one piece of pink evidence ASAP. He strode back to his desk, then came to an abrupt halt.

A large, black panther completely covered the desk top. Seeing Jim, the panther rose smoothly and jumped down to the floor. "Sorry, Detective Ellison, I was waiting for you and I got tired of people stepping on my tail, here." The panther flicked his long black tail in gentle emphasis.

Jim circled around his desk in the opposite direction from the panther, whom he was reasonably sure was NOT his Spirit Guide, now that he'd had a closer look at it. Jim sat down in his chair and the panther settled on its hindquarters, sitting Egyptian cat-style. This arrangement left them very nearly at eye-level. "Sorry to keep you waiting," - Jim hesitated - "sir."

"My name's George," the big cat said, "George Panthera--I'm chief of props and equipment. I wanted to be a performer, but Kermit said I don't look exotic enough - no stripes or spots.

"I was kind of peeved, actually, since I am COVERED in black spots, but Kermit pointed out that black-on-black spots aren't very photogenic. I do get the occasional cameo appearance, like the big 'Jungle Love' musical number we did last year. That was fun."

"Ah, yes, I'm sure it was. You had something to tell me, George? About the case?" Jim prodded the panther. Ellison became aware of a shift in the bullpen's atmosphere and glanced up to see Simon Banks and Joel Taggart walking towards him. Simon stopped at Jim's desk, trying not to gawk at Jim's visitor while Taggart proceeded to his own desk.

"Yes. I think you should talk to the rats, Rizzo and the rest of his cronies. In addition to being frequently overlooked, they are keenly observant. Also, they're a bunch of shady characters -- and not just 'cause their fur's gray, if you get my drift.

"One of my duties as Prop Chief is to keep the roadies -- Rizzo and his horde -- under control. They respect me, mostly because I can chew 'em up and spit 'em out for breakfast, and they know it."

Jim noticed uneasily that Simon had nodded his head, grinning at the panther's description of his relationship with his underlings.

"Anyway," George continued. "The hens and chickens hate the rats, and have accused them of trying to steal their eggs in the past. Since Gonzo is the chickens' protector, he and Rizzo have had their share of clashes. I don't have anything concrete, but it's worth checking into." George rose to all four of his feet, er, paws. "Thanks for your time, Detective."

"Thanks for the tip, George." Ellison responded, then watched as the panther slinked away.

"You heard the--" Simon cut himself off, not sure what to say in place of 'man' -- "animal, Jim. Go corner that rat."

Jim looked about to say something, reconsidered, stood up and said crisply, "Yes, sir."

"Good," Simon said, nodding. "And in the meantime, I'll be in my office clearing up some paperwork." The captain turned on his heels and was quickly across the room and through his door, closing it firmly behind him.

Jim sighed dejectedly, running a hand over his short hair. It was entirely typical of the Fates that ran Cascade to dump something like this in *his* lap. Why him? Why *always* him? Was this some kind of Sentinel thing, a built-in genetic trouble magnet? Either way, this case was still his, and he might as well get it over with.

Sighing resignedly, Jim turned away from his desk and walked out of the bullpen. "I have to see a rat about a weirdoÖ and then a shrink about this case." As he rounded the corner to the break room, the most likely spot to find the food-obsessed Rizzo, Jim couldn't help but think that the department shrink was going to get a hell of a lot of overtime if this Muppet Madhouse Mania didn't end soon. *Very* soon.

*

Streets of Cascade,

Several Blocks From The Station

After the initial shock of Bill Ellison's announcement, and the realization that they'd still have to solve this problem before moving on, Statler and Waldorf pulled over to the side of the road and shut off the motor home. Waldorf turned to his friend with a grim expression on his face.

"Statler, my friend, we *have* to do something! We can't just run away from this forever!" Waldorf's statement was grim, as was his expression. As much as he hated the thought of talking to the police about the incident, he hated even more the thought of having to live with this forever.

Statler shook is head. "I don't know... I really don't like the idea of talking to the police. We might become implicated."

"In what?" Waldorf said with a snort. "We did nothing. This was an accident. We might as well tell the police now, before we get caught. *Then* we would be implicated. It would then become a conspiracy. Of sorts, anyhow."

During his friendís speech, Statler had begun to shake his head in disagreement, but at the last statement, stopped short and stared at the other man. "Well... I hate to admit it. You have a point." He extended his hand toward his good friend, grateful that he took it. Upon a firm shake, the two long-time friends decided to turn the whole situation around. Waldorf started up the engine and pulled away from the curb, heading back to the police station.

*

Jim halted before the break room door, staring through the window at the chaos that awaited him. It looked like a three-ring circus: the Swedish Chef was singing loudly, and indecipherably, while he stirredÖ*something* in a large bowl. The green goo sloshed over the sides and puddled on the floor and table. Some of it was even splattered on the vending machines. Miss Piggy was holding court, tossing her hair and simpering at a young detective she had trapped at a corner table. Gonzoís harem fluttered their wings and clucked in annoyance as Rizzoís rat pack played Ďkeep-awayí with Blairís erstwhile backpack. They tossed some sort of goodie across the room to one another, laughing as the backpack scrambled wildly in pursuit of it. As he watched, the small brown missile bonked Piggy squarely on the back of the head. The backpack, eyes on its prize, eagerly leapt after it, knocking the hapless hog into the lap of the surprised detective. The rats guffawed, the hens squawked, Piggy screamed, the detective yelped, the Swedish chef sang louderóJim banged his forehead gently against the door and wondered where his partner had escaped to.

"Psst!"

Jim stopped.

"Detective!" hissed a deep voice, obviously trying to be surreptitious.

Turning, he spied Sam the Eagle peering around the corner and crooking a finger at him. The bird looked around him in exaggerated wariness. If he thought he was being secretive, he was sadly mistaken. His appearance alone was unusual, but his behavior, in a police station of all places, was guaranteed to draw looks. Sighing, Jim turned his back on the antics in the break room. Heíd forgotten about the Ďmissioní that heíd given Sam.

"You have something for me, Sam?" he asked as he approached.

The bald eagle drew himself up self-importantly. "Indeed, Detective Ellison. I have located the suspects."

Jim smiled at that description of his father and Blairís mother. "Good work, Sam. Where are they?"

"If you would follow meó" Sam gestured to the corridor behind.

Pausing only a moment, he decided that Rizzo could wait a bit, and followed Sam. He soon became aware of the sounds of guitar, saxophone, and piano, underscored by some lively drumming. Brows drawn in censure, Sam said, "I can understand, Detective, why you had these people under surveillance. Theyíre not at all what they seem, are they?"

They turned down another hall towards the interrogation rooms just as the music picked up its pace, all the musicians madly strumming, blowing or banging on their instruments. Jim grimaced at the decibel level. Raising his voice, he asked, "What do you mean?"

"Well, sir, the company they keep! I see this lovely woman and distinguished gentleman get off the elevator, and I have to say, sir, I wondered whatever you could want them for." He continued darkly, "Then thisóthis--*band* begins its noise, and the woman immediately heads in this direction. There *must* be something nefarious going on."

There were so many things wrong with the eagleís conclusion, not to mention his deductive skills that Jim didnít know where to start. He braced himself as the music reached a crescendo, and opened the door of interview room three.

A brown dog with floppy ears was bouncing in his seat at the pianoóhowíd that get in here?ówhile Animalís sticks furiously pounded his drums. A third Muppet wailed on his sax, while anotherís fingers flew across his guitar strings. While their music was uncomfortably loud to his sensitive ears, Jim was pleasantly surprised at their competency.

A small gathering of Muppets sat around the room, tapping their toes or nodding their heads in time to the music. Naomi and William were also perched in the hard, straight chairs that were the only seating provided. Naomi was smiling, as was, shockingly, Jimís father. He realized his mouth was hanging open when his father looked up and laughed.

The music came to a crashing, reverberating halt. The audience cheered while most of the band members bowed. Animal, however, rocketed off his stool and flung himself onto Naomiís lap, waggling his bushy brows and panting. The reaction reminded Jim of Blairís attitude towards pretty women and he couldnít help grinning.

William stood up to greet his son with a clap on the shoulder and a chuckle. "Hi, Jimmy! Bet you never expected to see me here like this, did you?"

"No, Dad, canít say I did. But this has been a day of unexpected meetings." He gestured at the chattering Muppets.

"You can say that again! First I ran into Naomi, then I saw Waldorf and Statler, two old business acquaintances of mine. Met them right outside the station, of all things."

Jim frowned. Now that his dad mentioned them, he didnít recall yet seeing the two irascible Muppet codgers. A little voice in his head said, "Codgersí starts with a Ďcí." He shook it off; Blair was rubbing off on him in dangerous ways. He turned to Sam.

The eagle stood with arms akimbo, shaking his head. Apparently he was disappointed to find his hero on good terms with such riff-raff.

"I didnít see Waldorf and Statler on the bus today with the rest of you guys, Sam."

Sam shook his head and folded his arms. With a mixture of envy and disgust, he said, "They insist on their own mode of transport. They have a motor home."

From her seat, Naomi offered, "They said they had a problem, but when Bill suggested they come see his son, whoís a detective, they ran off." Animal growled softly at her inattention. Naomi smiled and patted his head.

Jim wasnít sure if he was more disturbed by this revelation or by Naomiís familiar use of ĎBill.í "Curiouser and curiouser," he muttered. Which also began with ĎcíÖ Darn it! He hoped Blair bought himself another clue soon.

"Did they say what the problem was?"

William shrugged. "Only that theyíd accidentally picked up something that didnít belong to them."

Turning to the eagle again, Jim asked. "When did you last see them?"

After tapping his fingertip in thought, Sam finally said, "I saw their motor home in the parking lot at Dennyís. I didnít pay attention to whether they followed us immediately."

Jim chewed his lip in thought.

"Does this mean something to you, Jimmy?"

"It might have something to do with a missing, er, person case Iím working, Dad. Listen, I need to go find Blair and talk to a rat."

Williamís eyebrows shot up. "A rat?"

"One of them," Jim said, pointing to the Muppets. His dad mouthed a silent ĎOhí. "Hey, did you need to see me right away?"

"No, no! We can talk later." He waved his son away. "Naomi and I will be fine."

"Dad," Jim began uncomfortably. At his fatherís inquiring look, he actually *squirmed*. Keeping his voice down, he said, "Remember, sheís Sandburgís mom."

William smiled indulgently. "All right, Jimmy." He patted Jimís shoulder and sat down next to Naomi. Feeling like a child dismissed by his elders, Jim stalked from the room.

Before reaching the break room, he was again intercepted, this time by his partner.

"There you are." Blair walked towards him, waving a folder. "Weíve got some results from Forensics."

Jim smiled. Now maybe theyíd get some answers! "Have you looked at it?"

"Not yet. It was just delivered to your desk." He cleared his throat. "Miss Piggy was trawling in the bullpen, so I, uhó"

"Figured discretion was the better part of valor?" Jim surmised.

Blair chuckled, then turned to business. "This is one strange case, man. With pink feathers and cookie crumbs our best clues, I gotta say Iím stumped."

Jim began to open the folder. "That makes two of us," he murmured.

The hall was immediately illuminated with a flash of lightning, and thunder boomed ominously in the enclosed space. Jim dropped the report and both men clapped hands to their ears.

The tuxedoed and be-fanged count once more appeared, intoning gleefully, "Thatís two! Two stumped investigators! Hahahaha!"

Jim groaned. "I hate my life."

*

Jim and Blair quickly picked up the folder containing the forensics report and headed to the bullpen to go over Forensicsí findings. As they passed interview room three, Blair stopped and stared into the room, mouth and eyes open wide.

Jim came to stand next to his partner and followed his gaze. What he saw caused his jaw to drop.

Naomi Sandburg and William Ellison were slow dancing.

"Jim," Blair said in a distant voice, "thatís my Mom."

"Sandburg," Jimís tone matched Blairís, "thatís my Dad."

ďJim?"

"Yeah?"

"Are they slow dancing?"

"Iím afraid so."

Their eyes never left the dancing pair.

After a few moments Blair turned and started towards the bullpen like a zombie. Jim watched long enough to see his Dad dip his best friendís Mom, then quickly caught up with Blair.

Neither one of them spoke again till they were seated at Jimís desk.

"Jim." This time Blairís voice held a bit more energy. "Thatís my Mom."

"I know." Jim was slumped in his chair and he almost sounded like he was pouting.

Blair was up and pacing back and forth in front of Jimís desk now. "And that was your Dad!"

"I know."

"Jim, they were slow dancing. My Mom *never* slow dances. I mean she dances, but she hates traditional dances where you actually partner up with one particular person. She sees it as another way that society traps you andÖ"

"Sandburg!" Jim had stepped into his partnerís path and grabbed him by the shoulders, halting his pacing. "Breathe!"

Blair took a deep breath, but before he could launch back into his tirade, Jim held up his hand, signaling him to stay quiet.

"I know what it looks like." Jim paused for a moment, not really sure heíd just said that. "We donít really have anything to worry about, right? Your Mom flirts with guys all the time and she hasnít gotten into a permanent relationship, yet."

Blair nodded in agreement. "And your Dad isnít really the type to just pick up and go halfway around the world because a bunch of tea leaves say to, either."

Each man was doing his best to convince the other, and himself, that their parents were in no danger of getting seriously involved with each other.

It wasnít working.

Before either of them could continue reassuring the other, they heard a familiar voice behind them. "Hey, arenít they the two guests stars from the show last week?"

Jim and Blair turned around to see Statler and Waldorf.

"Yeah, something Burgi and Garrett whatís-his-name," Statler said, as he and his friend walked towards the two men in question.

Blair nudged Jim in the side. "Arenít they those the two hecklers from the Muppet show?"

Jim just nodded and addressed the two old codgers as they came up to his desk. "Actually, Iím Detective Jim Ellison and this is my partner, Blair Sandburg. Iíve been wanting to speak with the two of you about Gonzo."

Statlerís face went white at the mention of the missing weirdo. He opened his mouth to say something, but Waldorf beat him to it. "Ellison? You wouldnít happen to be related to William Ellison, would you?"

This took Jim by surprise. Heíd had suspects make comments about his parentage, but never witnesses. "Um, yeah. Heís my father."

Waldorf almost jumped with glee and smacked his friend, who was just as confused as Jim and Blair, on the back. "Remember? Bill said his son was a detective. He must have been talking about Jimmy."

Realization suddenly dawned on Statlerís face. "Jimmy? Little Jimmy?" Statler held his hand out indicating a height just above his knees. Considering the short of stature Statler, that wasnít saying much.

The look on Jimís face went from confused to dawning horror. Blairís expression, however, was one of growing mirth.

Waldorf was beaming now. "Yeah, Little Jimmy. Hey, remember how he used to call you Unka Stawer?" he smirked at his friend.

Jim sat heavily in his chair and hid his face in his hands, mumbling something that only a Sentinel would have been able to make out. And since he was the Sentinel, he wasnít telling.

Statlerís look of glee now matched his friendís. "Yeah, well, if I remember correctly he used to call you Unka Walrus."

Statler, Waldorf, and Blair burst into laughter, which conveniently covered up the sound of Jim banging his head on his desk.

Waldorf continued with his trip down memory lane. "I remember how he loved to come watch us practice our gags." He turned to Blair, who was all ears as he listened to the stories of Jimís childhood. "We were the best stunt team around and since Bill was one of our business partners, Little Jimmy would come and watch us practice."

Blair couldnít contain a chuckle. "Man, that explains why heís always pulling crazy stunts while chasing crooks."

Statler had now warmed up to the topic and joined in. "There was this one time when Little Jimmy wanted to join the fun. He climbed upÖ"

"Gentlemen!"

Three startled faces turned to look at Jim.

"As much as I enjoy trips down memory lane, this isnít helping us find Gonzo." Jim was trying not to look panicked at thought of stories from the two old men. "Now, my Dad says that you were here earlier and said something about having taken something that didnít belong to you. Would that have anything to do with our missing wierdo?"

Statler and Waldorf suddenly found the rest of the bullpen very interesting and began looking everywhere except at the grumpy detective.

"Iíll take that as a yes," Jim sighed and rubbed his hand over his eyes. "What was it that you took?"

Once again the two older men looked around the bullpen.

Blair reached out and gently put a hand on Waldorfís shoulder. "Weíre here to help and we canít do that if you donít tell us what we need to know," he said, trying to coax the Muppet into talking.

Waldorf looked into Blairís expressive eyes for a few moments, then words suddenly started spilling out of his mouth. "It was an accident. We didnít mean to. We were just talking about the good old days and Gonzo overheard us. He heard us talking about the last gag we were developing. You remember, Jimmy, the one with the trampoline and the bratwurst. Well he wanted to try it and wanted to borrow our trampoline. We said sure and that it was in our motorhome. We didnít realize that he was still inside when we drove off, honest. Weíre really sorry for causing all this trouble." By the end of his speech, Waldorf looked like he had just kicked a puppy.

Jim actually felt sorry for the two old men. "Itíll be okay guys. Do you know where Gonzo is now?"

"No. By the time we realized what had happened, Gonzo was gone and everyone else was here," Statler explained as he comforted his friend.

Jim had just resigned himself to starting back at square one when Simon came charging out of his office, drawing everyoneís attention, including Sandburg and Jimís two ĎUnkasí. "Listen up, people. Dispatch just called and weíve got a report of a jumper at the Wilkinson Towers. The caller said, and I quote, ĎThereís some weirdo with a trampoline and bratwurst hanging out a window at Wilkinson Towers and heís threatening to jump.í End quote. The dispatcher said that the situation sounded a little strange and thought to call us." This last part was said with a glare directed at Jimís desk.

Jim quickly grabbed his and Blairís coats from the coat rack and practically dragged his partner out the door. Statler and Waldorf were right behind them, followed by Blairís ever-present Backpack, the coat rack and several other Muppets.

*

Jim brought his Ford to a screeching stop, expertly ignoring the Muppets that went tumbling out of the truck bed. He would swear the number of Muppets was increasing each time he turned around.

As he climbed out of the truck he looked up at the towers and saw the cause of the recent madness. Sure enough, sitting in a tenth floor window was a blue weirdo that could only be Gonzo.

At the same time, Jim extended his hearing to locate the others at the scene. He easily picked up on the conversation of the uniformed officers who had been the first to arrive.

"See? What did I tell ya? Now, pay up."

"Darn it! How did you know?"

"I told you. Every time something strange happens, Ellison and Sandburg are involved."

Jim just shook his head as he and his partner approached the officers. "You still rolling the rookies, Ericson?"

Upon hearing his name, Officer Ericson turned. "Hey, Ellison, I figured youíd show up." He quickly brought the detective up to speed on the situation. "And so far heís just sitting there. What do you want us to do?"

"Just keep everyone back and out of the way. Sandburg and I are going to go talk to theÖ um, weirdo." Jim said then turned and headed towards the gathered Muppets.

The Muppets were happy to see Gonzo once again and to know that he was safe and unharmed. Thankfully, Kermit was keeping them all back and out of the way. "Oh, Detective Ellison, this is great. We found Gonzo!"

"Yeah, thatís great." Jim was just as happy to have found Gonzo, because now life had a chance of returning to normal. "Sandburg and I are going to go up and talk to him, see if we can get him to come down from the window."

Kermit followed Jim and Blair as they headed towards the building. "Um, Detective, Iíd like to come too. Gonzo is my friend and I want to help"

Jim simply sighed and waved the frog forward. It wasnít till they were climbing the stairs that Jim noticed that more than just Kermit had followed. He just rolled his eyes and thought, oh well, the more the merrier.

Jim, Blair and Kermit were the first ones into the office belonging to the window that Gonzo was sitting in. Before Jim could take control of the situation, Kermit rushed up to his blue friend. "Gonzo, what are you doing up here? People think youíre going to jump or something."

Gonzo looked up from his contemplation of the trampoline, ten floors below. "Kermit?" There was no missing the confusion and pain in his voice.

Blair and Jim held back and let the frog approach his troubled friend. "Yeah, itís me, Kermit. Whatís wrong, buddy? Where have you been? Talk to me."

Gonzo turned around so he was facing inwards and Kermit moved up and placed a flipper on his friendís shoulder. The weirdo looked up at the frog. The strength of the emotions in his eyes was rare for anyone, let alone a Muppet.

"Kermit, have you ever wondered what it is you are supposed to do with your life? I mean, we travel from town to town performing and for what? It canít be for the money or for the fame. Sure, we meet some interesting people," Gonzo gestured to Jim and Blair, "but why? Why do we do what we do?"

Kermit had to swallow back a lump in his throat. It was hard to believe that someone who was as carefree as Gonzo even thought about such deep things. It was disconcerting to see his normally happy and laughing friend sitting here with a pleading look in his eyes and asking him to explain something that he often wanted to ask himself.

After a momentís thought, the frog decided that there was nothing to do but tell the truth. "I donít know. I donít know why we do what we do, but I do know that we canít do it without you."

When Kermit saw that Gonzo was about to argue, he quickly continued. "We canít do this without you, Gonzo." He turned, indicating the other Muppets in the room. "Fozzie hasnít told one joke since we noticed you were missing. Animalís been even more off tempo then normal. The Chefís cooking is even worse, if you can believe that. Rizzo hasnít even gorged himself on all the doughnuts at the police station. Nobody has been the same since you left. I donít know why we do what we do, but I do know that you are a part of who we are. We need you, Gonzo."

Gonzo looked at the faces of his friends, trying to find the truth of Kermitís words. Each face he looked upon silently asked him to come back. Various heads nodded and there were murmured requests for his return. His eyes finally settled on the two humans in the back. He saw the way they stood side by side, not speaking, not even looking at each other. But they still managed to convey a sense of friendship and belonging that all who saw it wanted to share and feel it for themselves.

Gonzo once again scanned the faces of his fellow Muppets, and found that he felt that sense of friendship and belonging. These were his friends. This is where he belonged.

A smile exploded onto his face and he jumped up to stand on the windowsill. "You guys are the greatest!! I donít know why I left in the first place!"

When the horde of Muppets realized that their friend was back, they surged forward, each one wanting to welcome him back into the fold. In their haste they all forgot that it took a degree in quantum physics to get that many Muppets to fit into that small of a space. The result of the forward rush was Gonzo being knocked out the window.

Jim and Blair pushed their way through the crowd of Muppets just in time to see Gonzo bounce on the trampoline below and start his way back up.

"Whoopee!! This is great!! Somebody toss me the bratwurst!!"

Out of the corner of his eye, Jim saw the uniformed officers exchange money again.

*

Blair sank into Jimís chair and prepared to write the report for one of the strangest cases heíd ever worked on. He had just filled in the basic information at the top of the report form when Simon came up to the desk.

"Oh no you donít, Sandburg. I donít want you writing *this* report. I want Jim to write the report for this one. I donít want every excruciating detail of todayís madness listed in the public record. I *want* this report to say, ĎGonzo reported missing. Looked for Gonzo. Found Gonzo. Filed report.í" Simon stuck his cigar in his mouth with a sense of finality and headed towards his office, thus preventing any argument.

The partners simply exchanged places and Jim began to enter in the requested report. "Donít worry, Chief. Iím sure Simon wouldnít mind if you wrote up your version anyway. Iím sure one day, in the distant future, weíll be able to look back on today and laugh."

This seemed to cheer the anthropologist up a bit. Heíd been chomping at the bit all day to write down his observations of the various members of Major Crimes and how they interacted with the Muppets.

"Hey, yeah, thatís a great idea." Notebook in hand, he began to immortalize the dayís events. After a few lines he looked up at his friend. "Admit it. You enjoyed seeing the Muppets again, didnít you?"

Jim typed in the ending to his report and contemplated Blairís comment. "Yeah. Iím glad we got to see them again. When everythingís all said and done, they arenít that bad. Theyíre just a little weird."

Jim saved and printed his file and continued. "Iím just glad they didnít start singing."

As if on cue, a hush came over the bullpen and everyone could hear Joel ask, "Gonzo, thatís just amazing. How do you manage?"

Gonzo didnít skip a beat. "Oh I get by with a little help from my friends."

As the music started to float in from nowhere, Jim looked heavenward as if seeking divine intervention. Blair just bounced in anticipation.

"What would you think if I sang out of tune, would you stand up and walk out on me?" As Gonzo sang, the lights dimmed.

Gonzo moved into the center of the room, "Lend me your ears and Iíll sing you a song, and Iíll try not to sing out of key."

Henry picked up his guitar as he commented, "The emphasis being on the Ďtryí."

Gonzo used the resulting laughter to pick up the tempo. "I get by with a little help from my friends." He began pulling Muppets and Detectives alike into the center of the room to join him. "I get high with a little help from my friends," he sang as he pulled Rafe out of his chair.

"Watch it, Gonzo. This is a police station, remember," Rafe commented as he began to groove with the assembled group.

People were joining the dancing on their own now. Kermit moon-walked by, saying, "Weíre high on life, Detective."

A mirrored ball appeared as the weirdo continued, ignoring the interruption. "Going to try with a little help from my friends."

By now everyone but Jim was dancing. He was doing his best to avoid getting sucked into the heaving mass of Muppets and people as he made his way to the printer to pick up his report.

"What do I do when my love is away?" Gonzo grabbed Piggy and swung her into a dip.

"Does it worry you to be alone?" Rowlf sang as Gonzo tried to extract himself from the trashcan Piggy had stuffed him into.

"How do I feel by the end of the day?" echoed Gonzoís reply, as Jim pulled the blue weirdo out of his trashcan.

Camilla came rushing over and began fussing over Gonzo, in full Mother Hen mode.

Blair began dragging Jim into the dancing horde as he sang, "Are you sad because youíre on your own?"

"I get by with a little help from my friends," everyone started singing. Somewhere in the mass of dancers, someone started a conga line.

"I get high with a little help from my friends." The conga line quickly spread and it soon twisted around the desks and started out into the hall.

"Do you need anybody?" half the group sang.

"What theÖ?" Simon stepped out of his office to see what the commotion was about, only to be swept up into the meandering line.

"I need somebody to love," the other half answered back.

The conga line wound down the hall, past the break room and interview rooms. "Could it be anybody?" the fugue continued.

More and more officers joined in the fun, lending their voices to the group. "I want somebody to love."

"Would you believe in love at first sight?" A suspect picked this time to try and make an escape to freedom, but was quickly subdued by a red hairy mass shouting, "LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE!!"

ďYes, Iím certain that it happens all the time." The singing officers got the suspect back into custody and soon everyone had rejoined the conga line, including the suspect who was now handcuffed to Animal.

The conga line continued to worm its way around the sixth floor. "What do you see when you turn out the light? I canít tell, but I know itís mine."

As the crowd passed by an empty office, Naomi and William poked their heads out the of door and immediately joined in with the singing and dancing. "I get by with a little help from my friends. Bap bada dadaaaa. I get high with a little help with my friends. Bap bada dadaaaa. Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends."

The conga line of Muppets and humans trailed down the stairs, gaining even more participants with each floor it passed. "Do you need anybody? I just need somebody to love."

Soon the line was all the way down to the lobby. "Could it be anybody?"

It wove through the lobby and straight to the Muppet bus that was parked outside. "I want somebody to love."

The Muppets leading the singing conga line went straight onto the Muppet bus. "I get by with a little help from my friends. Bap bada dadaaaa."

While the other officers and personnel broke off and continued singing and dancing their way back into the building, the Major Crimes people formed a crowd around the Muppet bus. "Yes, I get by with a little help from my friends. Bap bada dadaaaa."

"Blair, sweetie!!" Naomi yelled, leaving her place in the conga line to engulf her son in a bone-crushing hug. "Iím so glad I got to see you. Iím not going to be in town very long." The words tumbled over each other as they rushed out of her mouth. "Iím leaving for Nepal, tomorrow morning."

She still swayed with the music as everyone else continued the conga line and singing in the background. "I get by with a little help from my friends. Bap bada dadaaaa."

"But donít worry about me. I donít want to disrupt any plans you might have." Blair couldnít even get a sound out, let alone a whole word. Naomi just rambled on, not noticing that her son wanted to say something. "Iíve already got plans for dinner and Bill says he has plenty of room at his house. He said I could sleep in Jimís old room if I like."

Blairís eyes grew impossibly wide, but his mother didnít notice her sonís agitation and continued, "Iíll give you a call as soon as we get to Nepal." She gave her son another hug and a kiss then bounced off towards the parking lot.

"Jimmy!" William Ellison came up and stunned his son by giving him a quick hug. He then leaned in and whispered conspiratorially, "You didnít tell me that Blairís mother was such an intriguing and delightful woman." Leaving his still confused son, William headed after the red head.

Before climbing into the car, the elder Ellison turned and whispered to the younger, knowing his son would hear, "You know Iíve always wanted to go to Nepal."

Before Jim could comprehend the significance of his fatherís last statement, Naomi and William were both in the car and headed for parts unknown.

Jim and Blair turned to look at each other with horrified faces. Neither one knew how to react to what just happened. They just stared at each other for a few moments, then shuddered in unison.

Their attention was once again drawn to the Muppet bus. It was rocking back and forth as the Muppets kept dancing and singing in their seats. "Yeah, I get by with at little a help from my friends. Bap bada dadaaaa."

Jim could hear Kermit taking roll call as everyone piled onto the bus. "Okay, is everyone here? Great. Whereís Sweetums? Ah, there you are, good. Okay, Fozzie, letís head on out."

The Muppet bus sputtered a few times then started down the street with all manner of creatures hanging out the windows, waving to the Major Crimes detectives.

The detectives waved back and watched the bus drive away. As the motor home driven by Statler and Waldorf pulled into traffic behind the rest of the troupe, Simon leaned in and stage whispered in Jimís ear, "Wave bye-bye to your Unkas, Little Jimmy."

Detective Ellison turned bright red as he and his fellow detectives headed back to work. He just hoped that tomorrow would be more normal.

THE END




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