“So what’s it like, working with these guys full time?”
Amy pauses right in the middle of taping down a wire to look up at Kris, grinning like she’s asking Kris what it’s like to hang out with rock stars instead of Jay and Grant and Steve. Kris shakes her head and lets out some more wire, and Amy takes the hint and goes back to taping.
“Well, Steve’s a slave driver, for one thing. Don’t let him catch you stopping to chat during setup, unless you want to hear, like, a twenty minute lecture on professionalism.”
“Really? He doesn’t come off as all that serious on the show,” Amy says, but she keeps moving down the hall ahead of Kris. She’s investigated at Clovis Sanitarium before, which means she knows her way around better than the rest of them. If Kris asked she’d probably use her comfort with the place as the excuse to explain why she keeps asking questions about working with Jay and Grant instead of focusing on the location, but Kris knows better.
In the paranormal investigation field, Jay and Grant are kind of rock stars. They’re the first ones to land their own show, anyway, and they’re the ones the public takes the most seriously when it comes to investigations and examining the evidence. Even though Amy’s been heading up the west coast TAPS team for awhile now, she hasn’t really been on TV, so it’s not surprising that she’s a little curious.
“Steve always has time for his own dumb practical jokes,” Kris answers as she lets out more line. “But if he catches anybody else wasting time, suddenly he’s Mr. Professional.”
Amy laughs when Kris rolls her eyes, then she tapes down the last bit of wire and makes sure the plug is accessible for when the boys come around with the mini-DVs.
“Seems like he usually has time for Tango, too. At least on the show.”
“Well, sure, who else is going to kill spiders for him?”
They’re still laughing a few minutes later when they hear footsteps coming up the hallway, and they both pause and listen, just in case. But a second later Steve appears, and Kris rolls her eyes at Amy and smiles when Amy giggles.
“Ladies, nice work so far,” Steve says, like it’s hard to tape video cable to the floor or something. “But Dave’s already covered twice the real estate as you two by himself. Less talking, more working.”
“Sorry we can’t all be as awesome as Tango, Steve,” Kris says, flashing him her sweetest smile.
“That’s okay, it gives you something to shoot for.”
He makes a break for it when she chucks a wire clamp at him, but she’s pretty sure she catches him in the back of the leg anyway.
The team knows that the reason Amy’s invited to investigate with them at Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse is because they’re thinking about bringing her on board full time. Ultimately it’s Jason and Grant’s decision, but it’s important that she work well with the existing team. The California trip goes great, but they want to see her out of her comfort zone, so they bring her along when they head to New Hampshire.
Jason and Grant are standing at the van watching on the monitors as Kris and Amy wrap their EVP session at the top of the lighthouse. Grant’s not saying much, but he’s got that look, eyebrows raised and eyes wide, and they’ve known each other long enough for Jason to know that means Grant’s impressed.
“How’d it go?” Jason asks when the girls get back to Command.
“Great,” Kris answers, and it’s hard not to grin when she’s practically buzzing with the rush of a really strong personal experience. “We heard so many footsteps on the stairs, it was really freaky.”
“Yeah, there was a ton of activity in there. More than I’ve heard in awhile,” Amy adds, still grinning like a kid at Christmas. “That was so awesome.”
“Really.” Jason and Grant exchange a look, and Jason can tell Grant’s trying not to smile. His poker face has always sucked, though, so it’s not like Jason’s surprised.
“What?” Kris says, nerves creeping into her voice and Jason feels a little bad, sure, but mostly he’s just trying not to laugh.
“Nothing,” Grant says, glancing at Jason, and when Jason nods he keeps going. “It’s just that the two of you have gotten a lot of activity on the last few investigations.”
“Yeah, I guess we have been pretty lucky,” Kris says, but she still sounds suspicious. She’s known them too long for them to get much past her at this point, but it’s not her they’re trying to keep in the dark for awhile longer.
“Maybe we just make a good team,” Amy says, smiling again and bumping Kris’ shoulder with her own.
“Girl power,” Kris answers, grinning when Grant and Jason laugh.
“Yeah, well, why don’t you go try out your girl power in the keeper’s quarters and see what you come up with,” Jason says. “Steve and Tango are headed over to the lighthouse now.”
The girls nod and wave goodbye, and Jason waits until they’re out of earshot to turn back to Grant. “So what do you think?”
“Call it girl power or luck or whatever,” Grant says, still watching the girls walk away, “but there’s definitely something there.”
“You know there’s no such thing as some kind of freaky human divining rod, right?”
Grant shrugs, which Jason knows means he doesn’t agree, but he’s choosing not to argue the point. Grant’s always quicker to believe that kind of stuff than he is; it’s what makes them such a good team, and in the end they usually reach the same conclusions, even if they get there on different paths.
In this case they’ve pretty much already decided to offer Amy the job, and if Grant wants her on board because he thinks she and Kris have some kind of combined mojo that stirs up paranormal activity, Jason’s not going to argue with him. All he cares about is the fact that Amy’s a professional, she’s good at what she does, and she gets along with the team.
“Whatever, man. Kris likes her, and she’s a good investigator. That’s good enough for me.”
“Hey, it can’t hurt if they’re some kind of human divining rod, right? Not every ghost is going to respond to Steve and Tango bickering like an old married couple; some of them probably like having a couple pretty girls around once in awhile.”
Grant grins at him, and Jason laughs and claps him on the shoulder. “Fair enough. Come on, let’s go find the old married couple before they break something that doesn’t belong to us.”
“Dude, would you stop touching stuff? Why are you always touching stuff?”
“Why do you always ask me the same dumb questions?” Steve asks, but he puts the statue down anyway and follows Tango into the next room.
Tango’s taking EMF readings every few minutes, holding the meter at different heights around the room to see if he can get a spike anywhere. Steve’s holding a recorder, but he’s not asking questions or even recording, as far as Tango can tell. Mostly he’s just following Tango around, picking stuff up at random and sniffing it or whatever it is he does. Like a dog, Tango thinks, then he laughs and shakes his head.
“Seriously, man. Stop touching stuff that doesn’t belong to you.”
Tango doesn’t know how he does it, because a few seconds ago he was halfway across the room, and now he’s standing right behind Tango and breathing on his neck. For a second he thinks maybe it’s a ghost, but then he feels Steve’s hand land on his ass and he rolls his eyes.
“What about this? This belongs to me, can I touch it?”
“Yeah, yeah, you can touch that, but not while we’re working,” Tango says, stepping out of Steve’s grip and turning to point his flashlight at him. “Seriously, after you bitched at me about professionalism the other day, you want to pull this? The cameras are gonna be back any second.”
“When did I bitch at you about professionalism?”
“In California, when we were filming the evidence review bit for the Clovis episode. Kris was talking about having girl time with Amy and I was teasing her, and you got in a snit about me joking around when we were supposed to be working.”
“‘In a snit’? Who says that?” Steve asks, turning his back to Tango and he’s touching stuff again, but mostly he’s just picking things up and putting them down without even looking at them.
For a minute Tango just watches him, taking in the tense line of his shoulders and the too-casual way he's pretending to be fascinated by a bunch of dusty old museum junk.
“Oh my God, you were totally jealous.”
“Jealous? Of what?” Steve asks, but Tango’s pretty sure if the lights came back on right now he’d see Steve blushing.
“You thought I was flirting with Kris and you were jealous. You totally were,” Tango says, grinning when Steve scowls and turns away again. It’s...cute. Lame and pretty stupid, but kind of adorable all the same, in a ‘Steve’s kind of a dumbass’ way.
“Now who’s being unprofessional?” Steve says, but he doesn’t deny the jealousy thing, which means Tango’s right.
“You’re going to pout all night now, aren’t you?”
Tango shakes his head and takes another EMF reading, but he’s not really paying attention anymore, so maybe Steve’s got a point about the whole professionalism thing after all. Still, Tango’s not the one putting his mouth on stuff that doesn’t belong to him, so the way he sees it, he’s still ahead of Steve.
Anyway, they’ve been killing time while they wait for the production guys to work out some equipment issue, so technically they’re not even collecting evidence right now. They’re still recording, just in case something happens that they don’t see with their own eyes, but Tango knows the producers will kill any footage that shows them being too friendly, so it’s not like he’s worried about this conversation making it on the air.
“This is really stupid.” Tango pockets the EMF meter and steps in front of Steve, but Steve still won’t look at him even when Tango’s right in his face. “You’re seriously not going to talk to me now? Just because I called you on being jealous?”
“I’m not jealous,” Steve says, but his voice is so low Tango has to lean in to hear him. Then Steve looks up and Tango catches his smirk, even in the dark room. “I’m just trying to keep things professional here.”
Tango snorts a laugh and lets Steve lean in a little further, reaching up to rest his hand on Steve’s arm and there’s nothing professional about making out during an investigation, but he figures this one time won’t hurt anybody. Except instead of kissing him Steve just leans around him and picks something up off the shelf behind Tango, then he holds it up and points his flashlight at it.
“I’ll bet you twenty bucks you can’t fit this in your mouth.”
“And I’m the unprofessional one?” Tango says, but he lifts his own flashlight to get a better look at what looks like one of those glass paperweights with a picture of boats or something on the bottom. Twenty bucks is twenty bucks, after all.
“So is it worth leaving California?” Kris asks during their third investigation of the new season. They’re setting up equipment on Star Island; there’s a lot of ground to cover, and set-up’s taking even longer than usual thanks to the size of the location.
“Definitely,” Amy answers. She grins and Kris laughs, shaking her head and angling the camera they’re setting up a little before she picks up her walkie.
“Kris to Steve.”
“Go for Steve,” Steve’s voice crackles over the walkie, and Kris rolls her eyes and presses the talk button again.
“How’s that angle?”
“Better, thanks. I think that’s the last of the infrareds to set up, so you guys can head back when you’re done taping down. Steve out.”
Kris shakes her head and hooks her walkie back into her belt. “Still worth it when Steve’s barking orders?”
“Still worth it,” Amy answers, and when she smiles Kris smiles back.
She hasn’t really stopped smiling since they called to offer her a permanent spot on the show, and she’s not sure she’s going to stop any time soon. It all still seems like a crazy dream, like any second now she’s going to wake up and find herself back in California, investigating when she can and only talking to Kris or Grant on the phone when she has a case she thinks they might be interested in.
It’s not even the TV show part of the job that she’s excited about, really. Mostly it’s the fact that Jay and Grant think she’s good enough to keep up with the rest of the team. The great locations she’s getting to investigate don’t hurt either, of course. Everything on the east coast is old, and they’ve already caught some impressive activity in the few investigations she’s been on so far.
“So are you guys ready for this?”
Amy looks up at the sound of Kristyn’s voice -- smiling, of course -- and reaches for her flashlight and her walkie.
“Ready when you are,” she says.
And okay, maybe she’s not quite ready for the weather here, Amy thinks when she opens the door and rears back from a blast of freezing air. Her skin stings and her eyes have been watering since they got to the island, but when they make it to the cottage and step into the gloom she decides it’s still worth it.
Kris shivers behind her and wraps her arms around herself, trying to rub warmth into her limbs through her coat. “It’s creepy in here. No wonder people think they hear someone walking around.”
As soon as she says it Amy hears a noise from somewhere deep in the cottage, and she sucks in a sharp breath and swings her flashlight in the direction she thinks it came from. There’s no one there, of course, but all three of them freeze for another minute, straining to hear the noise again.
“What was that?”
Kristyn’s the first to break the silence, and at the sound of her voice Amy lets out the breath she’s been holding. “Sounded like the floorboards creaking. Like if someone was walking across them, you know?”
Kris’ flashlight beam swings wide to join Amy’s, and they all squint into the darkness some more. When they don’t hear anything else Amy takes a tentative step forward, but the floorboards don’t even creak under her weight. She frowns and rocks a little harder on her feet, but there’s still nothing but silence.
“Guys, how come I can’t hear my own footsteps if we can hear a ghost walking around?”
“Maybe there’s a creaky spot somewhere,” Kris says, swinging her flashlight beam wide. Amy has a feeling she knows what Kris is thinking before she even says it, so she's not surprised when Kris turns to look at the two of them. “We could walk the whole room, try to find the spot.”
Which is how they end up walking in straight lines back and forth across a floor that turns out to be a lot less level than it looks, and by the time Amy almost falls for the fourth time, they’re all laughing. They never do find the creak, though, and finally they give up and regroup near the back of the room.
“So much for our big experiment,” Kris says.
“Yeah, even if there are any ghosts hanging around, we probably scared them off with our laughing.”
Amy opens her mouth to say something, but when she hears the creaking noise again, closer this time, she freezes. Kris tenses next to her and swings around to look at the window, and when Amy follows her gaze she feels the rush of cold air.
“Do you feel that?” she whispers, and next to her Kris nods and takes a step forward. Amy holds up the EMF meter and watches the screen, but there aren’t any major fluctuations. The temperature on this side of the room is lower by a full five degrees, though, and she’s about to point it out when Kris reaches out and puts her hand on the window frame.
“You guys, there’s a huge draft coming through this window,” she says, and she sounds as disappointed as Amy feels. Kris presses on the window frame and that’s when they hear it again: the creaking noise that still sounds a lot like old floorboards being walked on. “It’s the wind pushing through the crack in the window frame.”
“Good catch," Kristyn says, and Amy knows she’s right, but still. It would have been way cooler if they hadn’t been able to disprove ghostly footsteps, at least.
“I think that’s about all we can do in here." Kris turns away from the window to face them and swings her flashlight toward the door. “Let’s head back to Command and let the guys know about this window frame so they don’t mistake the creaking for footsteps and spend half an hour walking back and forth across the room like we did."
Amy follows Kris and Kristyn to the door, but as they step out into the freezing night air, she glances over at them and smiles. “I don’t know, it might be kind of funny to let Steve and Tango try the same experiment we did.”
Kris grins at her in the darkness. “See, I knew we were going to get along just fine.”