Forget Me Not by TalgoM
"There's another part?" He asked carefully, yet hopefully.
"That part still doesn't want to tell you." She answered regretfully but with honesty. She forced herself to go on and explain her emotions to him, not willing to just let him feel that she was pushing him away without good cause. "I couldn't hide what happened. Everyone in my life knows about it. Except you and that helps. It's nice to have you around, not knowing. Even if you're wondering that's better then what the knowing would do to you. No matter what suspicions you have you don't look at me like some wounded animal, always wondering what I'll do next."
"I've always wondered what you'd do next." Gilby added lightly, hoping to disperse a bit of the mood but seeing immediately it didn't work. He understood what she was telling him and as long as she wasn't asking him to walk out of her life for good he felt willing to accept whatever role she felt would help her the most to have him cast in.
"But it's different. That types okay. I built that in you because of who I was, the way I was. The other concern isn't like that. It doesn't come from the same place." Her voice dropped off and he dawned on what she was telling him. He shook his head at her denying her words.
"You wouldn't. I know you and you could never do that to yourself." He said adamantly.
She finally turned to him with sad eyes and admitted the hard truth, that maybe all those worried about such a desire in her weren't that far off from the truth. "Animals eat through their own legs to get out of a trap, knowing that they'll die either way. People are just animals with more means."
"Not you. I could never explain it to anybody but you I held you to a different standard, because you gave me every reason to create one for you." He struggled with his words, wanting to make it clear to her how impossible what she suggested was in his opinion. He knew there was a long-standing sadness in her but he had never feared for a moment that she would not be able to beat it. To hear her admit to even the possibility that she might, or that others thoughts she could, terrified him.
"And that's exactly what I need. I need that standard back and right now you are the only one in the world who knows that it once existed and still believes I can live up to it. That's why I can't tell you. I need what you are to me right now. And I can't let that go. I was hurt, there is no point in denying that but can't we just leave it at that?" Gilby glanced down to the hand that had raised to reach out to his. He didn't really need to consider the question, if he could help her in anyway then he was willing to do it for her. He smiled and took her small hand in his own, gripping onto it tightly, hoping he didn't have to let it go.
"If it will make it easier on you, what choice do I have?" He asked gently, consenting to her request.
"If it helps you, I got through it. And no matter what anyone else thinks, I learned from it that I can and will survive. No one is taking that from me." She said the words with enough conviction that he had no reason to doubt her.
"As if they ever could." He whispered smiling at her with pride, glad to have her back in his life again, and even happier to learn that she did want to be there.
He watched her leave the building in the middle of the afternoon, grasping onto her patterns. She was the one who slipped in at night while everyone else rested, working the all too literal graveyard shift. He smiled to think of that fact, how easy her own habits were going to make it to get his message across to her. He could send her one in the dead of night and she would be alone to discover the message. She would not have to be embarrassed in front of colleagues and superiors. He had no whim to do that to her, he just wanted to make her understand. Remind her of what she had thrown away with such indifference.
He studied her as she pushed her blonde locks away from her eyes and stopped to take enjoyment of the bright sunlight above. Her head tilted back only a bit but the light showered down on her face. She had changed so little since their last night together. She smiled to herself in private pleasure as he had often caught her doing around their home. He recalled asking her once what brought the expression forth and she had looked over at him with coy eyes and she answered 'perfection.' Once everything in her life had been what she deemed perfect.
He wondered what now caused her to smile in such a way. Had she once again obtained such perfection without him? Could being alone really make her feel such joy?
No, he cast that thought away. She must see that not everything in her life was as it should be. She might wish to publicly deny his place in her world but he did not believe that she would ever convince her heart that she was better without him. But if she had begun to think such a thing he was prepared to remind her of the truth. He wanted to hear her admit it and to beg for forgiveness of him for her sins. He needed to get her to ask that of him so that they could both find peace again. She would plead for him to forgive her and he knew that if she were sincere he would do so without hesitation. Looking upon her again had begun to shed some of the deeply engrained hate he let build within him over the years. With it slipped away his plans to hurt her. Now he had to help her take back her life even if she wasn't asking for assistance.
Tangye turned her eyes downwards to the papers in her hands. Kristin had already briefed her on what they had been able to learn during the day yet reading the notes over again at least helped her to avoid conversation. She just couldn't think of anything to say to the woman that would not somehow result in another disgusted look or irritated sigh. As she had told Nick, Kristin was content to continue not liking her and nothing she tried was able to deter that emotion. So rather then push more of those feelings to the surface she opted for silence.
Kristin looked across the seat to the uncharacteristically silent Tangye who continued to stare down at the notepad in her hands. She knew exactly what she was doing by refusing to speak and Kristin couldn't deny that it was probably a smart choice on her part. They just couldn't find common ground on which idle chatter could be based. Tangye was too touchy to Kristin's jabs, and Kristin had to admit that as soon as she had recognized that it made doing it much more enjoyable. She had always enjoyed getting a reaction out of people to see how they might react. To her it was an interesting study in human nature, but to those she did it to she was sure it was not quite so intriguing.
She did admit that with Tangye it was even more enjoyable because of her evident ability to roll with punches. She was prone to some slight moodiness but overall she dealt with what the world sent her way with a rigid defiance that she would not be defeated. Kristin found it interesting that she was able to so easily get through that conceit. She also had to confess that it was difficult for her to be around someone that could so easily invade her mind and steal away with secrets. Everyone had been trying to tell her that she didn't have to worry about such a thing but she couldn't get past it. Tangye's telepathy unnerved her much more then the Sight Alex, Derek and Kat all had. Their talent wasn't so invasive. She didn't have to constantly fear around them what they might suddenly learn about her even accidentally. But Tangye kept her on guard whenever she was present, protecting herself from intrusion probably more then necessary. Tangye's accusation from the night before did not help either she admitted. Tangye had looked at her with such harsh eyes and the words had been so full of insinuation that it made Kristin worry.
"Maybe we should just go inside and wait, rather then surprise him again." Tangye finally broke the uncomfortable silence. Kristin looked over at her surprised at the suggestion. "Well it didn't work well last night, did it?"
"No, I guess it didn't." Kristin admitted reluctantly.
"From everything you've learned it doesn't seem he's really dangerous. Probably just confused. He might not even realize what he is." Tangye pointed out looking back down at the papers. Kristin fought with herself, not wanting to agree with the thought, but having no choice but to do so. Tangye was probably right. If the man had been killed in the shop during a robbery and yet stayed rearranging the store night after night he probably didn't understand what he was. They had discovered a news article detailing the late night robbery and murders and had every reason to assume that that the storeowner was who they were dealing with. He had been killed in the middle of the night when someone had broke in through the back of the store and discovered him setting up the store for the next day of business. He had managed to get to his own gun in time to bring down the intruder and in the morning both had been discovered dead in the shop. Now he was repeating the act he was last engaged in over and over again.
"You're right, let's go." Kristin nodded and pushed the door to her car open. They walked up to the front of the store, Tangye waiting while Kristin unlocked the door. They scanned the room but found that they were alone in the place and both went to sit by the cash register to the side of the store. Tangye sat down in the chair behind the counter, with her feet propped up on it, while Kristin took the antique armchair beside the counter. "We have to be missing something. Spirits usually stay on for a reason. Unfinished business of some kind."
"Setting up the store can't be that important to him. But his murderer was killed, that doesn't give him any reason to stay." Tangye pointed out.
"True. I would also like to know why he approached me last night but disappeared when you showed up." Kristin mused out loud, remembering the fear she had felt as the spirit descended on her, a reaction that mostly had no cause. He had not really looked threatening to her, but instead he almost appeared pleased to see her there, which made even less sense.
"I just have that effect on ghosts." Tangye mumbled but corrected her flippant attitude when Kristin shot her a bored glare. "Maybe me being here was wrong. Like a mistake in the pattern so he couldn't go on."
"Yet me being here was right?" Kristin asked amazed, unsure what Tangye meant.
"I don't know, just thinking out loud. You might have reminded him of someone that he would approach whereas I didn't." Tangye shrugged. "You know what I don't get? The newspaper said that the guy died in the middle of the room, right? Well logically his gun would be back behind the counter, why would he get it and then move to the center of the room where there would be no cover?"
"What are you saying?" Kristin looked over at her a bit impressed that she would bring such a detail up. Despite their lack of common ground Kristin did have to occasionally admit that Tangye had a mind for this sort of case.
"I'm not sure, it just struck me strange." Tangye shrugged not sure where she was going with the thought.
"Typically aren't robbers and murderers of a different breed? One enjoys the pain he inflicts the other prefers to sneak in unnoticed and take things. Robbers don't want the confrontation in most cases. Yet the shop owner was out here, making at least enough noise that someone in the back would hear him not to mention that any good thief would case the place and see the guy. Despite that he came in."
"You're saying he wasn't here to rob the store, but he came to kill the man?" Kristin nodded, latching on to her line of thinking.
"Maybe, but even if that's the case the guys dead, no unfinished business." Tangye sank back in her chair.
"Then we still have to be missing something." Kristin rubbed at her eyes, wishing that she could figure out what that detail might be.
"He's here." Tangye whispered. Kristin looked up but the room was still empty. She started to say something but just then she saw the man emerge from the back of the store. He crossed the room not even noticing the intruders and began the process of moving some of the objects around. This activity went on for several minutes both waiting for him to indicate something that might give his spirit reason to linger. Suddenly they both heard the ring of a small bell and the man looked up with a pleased smile at the door. He started to go to whoever had entered the store that neither of the onlookers could see just as the sound of breaking glass came from the back room.
"Someone else was here with him." Kristin kept her voice low so not to disturb the man from his activity. "That wasn't in the paper or police report." The man looked to be pushing the visitor behind him in a protective gesture as turned to look towards the disruption in the back of the building. All eyes in the room turned to look at the doorway to the storeroom just as another man entered the room with a raised gun. Kristin immediately recognized the man as the robber and murderer from the police reports. Without a moment of hesitation he pulled the trigger of his weapon and the spirit of the shop owner vanished. The intruder's face began to form a smile then switched to hold horrific realization before the sound of another gun shot caused both the Legacy members to jump and his spirit to vanish.
"What in the hell?" Tangye asked to the emptiness of the room.
"The police were wrong. He didn't kill the intruder. Whoever was here with him did." Kristin stated amazed at how it all fit together.
"But when they arrived he had a gun in his hand. You think someone set the scene?" Tangye dropped her feet from the counter to look at Kristin as she stood and moved to the center of the room.
"Obviously whoever paid him a visit did. They had a gun on them, they knew what was going to happen. Like you said he wouldn't have got his gun and then moved back to the center of the room. Whoever it was that came in through the front door arranged this scene, made it look like a botched robbery for some reason." Kristin shook her head amazed by what they had seen.
"And whoever it was he was happy to see them and from the way he tried to protect them, it was probably a woman." Tangye pointed out.
"A woman that had a key. The store would have been locked but she walked right in Just like I did last night." Kristin's voice dropped off realizing she had walked into the spirit's play the night before assuming a part they hadn't realized needed to be played.
"That leaves only the question of who." Tangye stated evoking only stunned nod from Kristin.
She had received the call for the second night in the row. Her alert to report back to work in the middle of the night. She did so without a moment of complaint. Now she stood over another victim of someone else's careless driving. She looked back down at the police report that had been left for her to attach her findings to. It detailed out the accident that had occurred on the waterfront road, told of how there had been a man on the scene who tried to do all he could for the victim to no avail and of his disappearance. The police did not have much of a description of the Good Samaritan and didn't indicate that they would be looking for him. They had the other driver in custody and many other witnesses. They had little need to locate the kind soul who stepped up when everyone else was busy staring in stunned shock.
She set aside the report and glanced down at the sheet-covered form in front of her. She pulled on surgical gloves again and removed the sheet from his face and chest. There was no need for an in-depth autopsy but she had been asked to name the specific cause of death for the police case. She reached over and turned the tape recorder beside her on. 'Male victim, between the ages of 25 and 30, approximate weight of 155, height 5'11". Limited contusions to the head and face, abrasions from glass. Cause of death was not head injury." She carefully began to open the flannel shirt to gain a clearer look at his chest. She tugged at the shirt to pull it free of his waistband.
She almost overlooked it when a small sheet of paper was also pulled from the waistband and floated down to the floor. She glanced at her feet where what she now saw was a photograph had landed. Her breath froze in her throat along with every muscle in her body as she stared down at the image. A blonde woman laughing in pleasure at something occurring just beyond the view of the camera. "Oh my God." Her voice cracked out the horror filled words, forgetting that the recorder was still taping every word she said.
Forcing her body into a motion it did not want to take she leaned over and carefully took the edge of the photograph in her fingertips. She had to be certain of what she thought she was looking at before her control completely slipped away. As she took a closer look at the woman's joyful face she had the certainty she needed and along with it her horror continued to build.
It was a photo of her taken over five years ago, a photo this man should never have had in his possession. She let it drop from her fingers and stepped away from it in disgust at every idea rushing through her mind. Her eyes scanned the empty room around her urgently but it remained empty. "Oh God, what's going on?" She whispered again.
"So are you proceeding forward diligently?" Alex entered the control room where her two colleagues were hard at work at the computers.
"Yes Derek, thanks." Kristin joked at the tone Alex had mastered, one so like the calm, business tone that Derek so often used. She was surprised in fact at how well things were going when they had both decided to put aside their differences and work together to a common goal. For the first time she was beginning to acknowledge that Tangye was in fact very talented at this sort of research. Much like Alex she had a knack for taking a tiny clue to the next step and making it mean something more. If not for some of her observations Kristin doubted that they would be doing as well as they were right now. "The gun found in Marcus Browning's hand by the police was registered in his name. That makes it even more certain that the woman in the store knew him. We've pulled files on all of his employees but none of them seemed likely." Kristin explained.
"Likely how?" Alex asked wandering around to the front of the table.
"Well based on Marcus' reaction last night when Kristin walked in we're assuming she reminds him of whoever had met him there. She fit the part. Which leaves only one real suspect." Tangye tapped at the keyboard accessing the driver's license of the woman in question.
"Libby Silver-Browning." Kristin stated sadly. Neither of them had wanted to come to the conclusion that the man's wife was who they were looking for even if it did make perfect sense. "She sold the store only weeks after her husband's death."
"She did it for the money?" Alex pressed for details despite her disgust. From everything they had been able to learn about Marcus Browning he was a good man who took an active interest in issues of the community. He volunteered a great deal of time and money to local youth associations, was a religious man who also worked for charities through his church.
"Unlikely. She sold the store at fire sale prices, not even pulling in as much as a one-year's gross. We thought maybe it was because she couldn't deal with the memory but if we're right that thoughts pretty much shot to hell." Tangye shrugged. "So what do we do?"
"Is she in the area?" Both women nodded. "Then maybe they just want to see her, get an explanation for her actions. Why don't you two try to arrange a meeting with her at the store, go see her tomorrow."
"Actually, I kinda had something I need to do tomorrow." Tangye said hesitantly.
"What?" Alex asked surprised by the revelation that Tangye was actually trying to step away from some type of activity when she normally loved her involvement.
"A favor for a friend." Tangye answered cryptically. "Plus I have classes first thing in the morning." Alex nodded accepting the responses as the best she was going to get.
"Okay then. I'll go with Kristin, I would like you at the store." Tangye nodded quickly not wanting to create any more suspicion about her behavior. "Try to learn as much as you can about their past so we have enough to go in there with." Alex instructed, smiling to herself that she was giving them assignments and they were taking them without question. She liked that feeling of respect a great deal.
She had considered calling someone but decided against it. They wouldn't be able to do anything, and this might not mean anything at all. She sighed at herself disgusted that she was even trying to dismiss the incident. Of course it meant something. She had never met the victim of the accident in her life and yet there was a picture of her on him. She tried to convince herself that it was a prank of one of the medics on the scene but none of them would have had this picture either. Not to mention this went beyond a playful prank into the realm of terrifying. If someone were playing a joke on her they would have stepped out to admit it by now. This was clearly a message of some sort, she just had no idea what.
She pulled her afghan up closer to her chin as her eyes stared at the picture in her hands. She knew the age just by the clothes that she was wearing, a shirt she had not owned for years. She had no recollection of when the picture had been taken. Who had been the cameraman might be some indication as to who was behind the cruel message. She struggled through her memories for the answer but it was not forthcoming. She had been only twenty-four at the time, still in med school. During those years she had always been surrounded by friends and many candid snapshots had been taken to commemorate their years together. When they had finished school they all went their separate ways and she had not even taken down the albums in years.
She thought about doing so to see if she had a copy of this picture and others taken at the time but she couldn't bring herself to do it. She didn't want to suspect any of her friends of doing something so cruel to her. This might be something that someone had just found and used against her. Someone more recently in her life. She threw the photo aside, rolling onto her side on the couch. It didn't necessarily mean anything. She might go into work the next day and receive a message about the prank, an apology that it had gone too far. She held on to that hope, refusing to acknowledge for the time any other possibility.
"Hey there, handsome." Gilby raised his head that he had been keeping hung as he walked. He couldn't help but smile to see her leaning against the railing of the stairs. She was dressed in simple long black skirt and knit v-neck shirt under her leather jacket. She looked professional compared to her normal dress code of jeans. He had not expected to have anyone around today to support him beside his father doing the best he could, but seeing her immediately helped to relax him a bit.
"What are you doing here?" He asked with a lop-sided grin.
"I thought you might want someone at your back." She shrugged indifferently. He walked up to her and drew her into a tight hug in thanks. "You don't have to do this alone, Gilb. I'm not letting you." She whispered into his ear.
"Gilby?" They both looked up to see a dignified older man at the foot of the stairs with a questioning look on his aged face. As soon as he had a clear look at the woman's face in front of him he dawned on recognition, recalling the young girl he had met every year when he picked his son up from camp. "Tangye? Is that you?" His face gave way to a smile.
"Yes, sir. I'm surprised you remember me." She greeted him with a warm handshake.
"Well, Gilby told me all about your adventures year after year, that's hard to forget." She shot Gilby a look of concern, wondering just how much the man might now. Gilby just grinned back at her, letting her know that it was okay. "Gilby mentioned that he had run in to you recently, but I must say I didn't expect to see you here today." He glanced up to the law offices.
"I'm full of surprises." She laughed. "I know your son is a good man, I want to do everything possible to make sure his judge knows that."
"Well, we both appreciate that but this is just a meeting with the lawyers." Mr. Mayhew informed her. Tangye knew that already but she was concerned about what might come of the early meeting between Gilby's lawyers and those obtained by the boy's parents. She wanted to be there in case things went badly and they asked for more punishment then anyone was expecting.
"I'll wait in the hall. Perhaps I could take you both to lunch afterwards." Mr. Mayhew looked over at his son and then nodded.
"That would be very nice." He accepted the offer hesitantly. He wanted to be supportive of his son but it was difficult in such a situation. Gilby had let this happen to him and now was paying the price. He expected to hear over lunch about how blameless Gilby was in the events that transpired but he did not view the case as so simple. Still Gilby was his son and that made it his job to do all he could to help him, perhaps listening to some glowing words from Tangye would help him to remember how to do so without passing judgement of his own.
It was a struggle to force herself to push through her day. No one stepped up to admit any sort of responsibility for the prank which made her all the more fearful for what it might mean. Still she went through the motions of her work as she always had, operating more on habit then real focus. She now sat on her desk filling out the report for the body that she had just finished examining. The last employee had just excused himself for the day and she was once again alone in the facility.
She looked over at the covered form across the room. The most recent body brought in that fell to her to do an autopsy on. She sighed sliding away from her desk and crossing the room to the form. She readied herself as she read the accompanying report. Forty-year-old man found in his luxury apartment alone who died from choking. Evidently there had been an anonymous report to the police to investigate.
She pulled the sheet back and went to work. She leaned the head back to gain better access to the clogged throat and opened his mouth. She worked the lodged piece of meat from his throat and tossed it to the tray beside her. She was requested to check the body over for any signs of possible foul play since the man was a very wealthy local businessman. With a moment of hesitation she pulled the sheet back further from his torso, carefully she removed his shirt frightened by what she might find but no picture was reveled on his body. She signed annoyed with herself for the paranoia and started to the autopsy.
As she worked her eyes wandered up to his neck where she saw a silver thin necklace handing close around his throat. She reached out and lifted the chain which was longer then it appeared, the pendent on it having fallen to the back of his neck and weighting down the chain against his neck. She took the clasp in her hands and unlatched it to put it to the side. She lifted the necklace away from him and her eyes filled with horror upon seeing it. She knew the delicate piece of jewelry and the locket hanging from it. She nearly dropped it in her shock but forced her heart rate to slow.
It could easily be coincidence. There were probably hundreds of these lockets made but still she couldn't fight the urge to open it. As soon as she did every corner of her mind wished that she had been able to control the impulse.
Staring back at her was a tiny image of her own face.
"I just can't believe you left a note." Tangye said from where she sat on the counter of the store. "It's just sort of I know what you did last summerish."
Alex looked over at her ready to agree but remembering instead why they did it. It would probably shock the woman to find their note on her apartment door requesting that she meet them at her deceased husband's store, but perhaps such shock would work to their advantage. They had found no records of domestic disturbances or anything else that might indicate a motive for her crimes but Alex knew there had to be one. Unfortunately they had to count on getting it out of the woman and if they met her here there was at least a chance that the two spirits would appear to get it if the Legacy members could not. "She wasn't there when we went by and we had to get her here." Alex shrugged. "So did you finish what you needed to today?" She asked redirecting the conversation from her questionable act.
"Sort of." Tangye debated telling them where she had been, deciding that it wouldn't hurt anything. "Gilb had the first meeting of the lawyers today, I thought it would help to have a friendly face there waiting for him." She explained. Alex turned to look at her shocked by the revelation. "He didn't know I was coming Alex, it's not that he asked me and not you." Tangye consoled her knowing how much such a thought would hurt Alex. Tangye was sure that Alex had offered to support him through the case but he had refused trying to be casual about the whole thing. Tangye just hadn't given him the opportunity to deny her by refraining from asking about it. She also knew more about the history between Gilby and his father and wanted to be there to head off any clashes they might have. Luckily the day had gone smoothly the other side's lawyers coming close to agreement on a settlement but falling short on an amount for damages.
"You've known him longer, it makes sense that he'd be more comfortable with you there." Alex said trying to sound unconcerned about the issue.
"It wasn't that, Alex " Tangye started to explain in more detail just as she felt someone enter the building. Her eyes turned to look to the back of the store just as the man exited the storeroom in the same pattern they had seen the night before. Alex stepped over to the side of the room with Kristin and Tangye to watch as the man began to straighten up the store as he did every night. "What if she's late?"
Alex shook her head not having an answer to that question luckily she didn't need one as the door to the store opened. She was sure that the woman would show at the store at the appointed hour if she felt someone might be on to her secret. As she suspected Libby carefully walked in the door her eyes first going to the three living women waiting on her. She had aged just a bit over the four years since her husband's death, but the resemblance to Kristin was still obvious. They were both thin women with straight blonde hair pulled away from their faces and large blue eyes. "Who are you people? Why did you want me to come here?" Her voice demanded angrily. The Legacy members looked between her and the spirit she had not yet noticed. She held the note up and was about to speak again when a male voice broke in to her accusations.
"Libby darling, what are you doing here this late?" Her blue eyes filled with horror at the recognition of the voice. She turned slowly to see the hazy form of her husband looking just as he had that last night. She stepped away from him in terror, looking over to the bystanders helplessly. "You should be at home resting, Lib." The man approached her reaching out, his smile never leaving his face.
"What are you doing? How are you doing this?" She screamed at the women knowing that this had to be a trick. There was no way she could be looking in those eyes again, reliving this night. She wanted to scream again but the sound of breaking glass caused her to jump. "Oh God, what are you doing to me?"
"They need to know Libby, they can't move on without knowing why you had to kill them." Alex informed the distressed woman. She felt bad about putting her in such a situation but couldn't forget that the woman had arranged the death of two men and managed to get away with the crime with no evident remorse.
Libby's eyes turned to look at the entrance to the storeroom just as the other man stepped in the room. He raised the gun without a moment of hesitation just as he had done every night since his death. "Wait." Libby screamed and the man did pause in his play. "How did you know?"
"We watched them. They've been trying to get you back here." Alex answered the woman's question. "So why did you do it? It wasn't for money. You wanted an easy out to your marriage? Planned the perfect crime to get back your freedom?"
"No." She shook her head weakly remembering all too clearly her original motives and the moment when she had changed her mind. "I thought I was doing it for him." She looked over to Marcus. "I thought you would never forgive me and that you would hate me. You swore that wasn't the case but I wouldn't listen to you." She approached him carefully still not sure what to expect of him. "When I came home that night and found what you did Everything changed." She smiled sadly as the tears began to roll. The Legacy members exchanged a look of confusion. "What you did, that let me know that you didn't hate me. I came here to stop this. I loved you." She whispered, Marcus reached out to wipe away the tears.
With those words said the first gun went off and Marcus vanished from the scene. "No, you " Libby yelled turning to the gunman. "Why wouldn't you listen to me? I told you not to do it but you wouldn't stop. Did you think this was going to get me for yourself?" She approached the second man. "He loved me despite what I did and he loved our child knowing where it came from. I came here to stop you but then he stepped in front of me and you just went ahead refusing to hear anything that I said."
"You turned on me." The man's voice came back flatly.
"You killed Marcus, of course I did." She came back hysterically.
"It was your idea." He reminded.
"And I changed my mind when I realized that he loved me despite my actions. I told you not to do it but you wouldn't listen damn you." She wished that she could strike the man but it was impossible. "I never loved you, I was young and stupid and I threw away the only good thing to ever happen to me. You should have listened." Her voice broke leaving her only able to whisper. Just then the second gunshot rang through the small store and the second spirit vanished with the first. Libby stared at the ground allowing her tears to fall. "I made a horrible mistake but I thought it was over when they died. I thought if it looked like they killed each other that it would all be over "
"What did Marcus do?" Kristin kept her voice low when she asked the question.
Libby smiled at the memory only for a moment. "I came home that night knowing what would happen here and then I saw it He must have spent a fortune on it to get it done in a few hours but it proved what I should have known all along. Marcus loved me and anything that was mine. He made this remarkable nursery for a baby that wasn't even his." Libby turned to them all. "I came to stop it but neither of them would listen. I tried to tell Marcus but he wouldn't listen to me that he was in danger. I begged Carl not to do it but he wanted me for his own. When I saw Marcus die I didn't even think about what I was doing. I had brought the gun to give to Marcus so he could defend himself but he said I was being paranoid. I don't even remember pulling the trigger, it was just I thought it could all be over " She broke down and Alex went to her regretting what they had put her through. They had all suspected the worst of this woman and though her acts were horrid, she was clearly not the monster they all thought her to be. She clearly did regret what she had done and allowed to spin out of control. She was still a murderer but she was not the heartless one they thought her to be.
"You have to go to the police, it's the only way you'll ever move on." Alex said in a comforting tone. "Do you have someone to take care of the child?"
"I gave her up. I couldn't look at her knowing I took her daddy away from her." Libby responded with a rueful laugh at the situation. She had done all of this to protect her child, certain that Marcus would never be able to love the child knowing she was a result of his wife's betrayal. Now that child wasn't even a part of her life any longer. "I should have suspected better of him, he was never a monster. He would never have hurt either of us, but I let myself believe he would." She leaned into Alex's comforting arms letting her tears go.
She stared down at the phone in her hands knowing now that she didn't have a choice but to place the call. One photo had been enough to scare her but the second relic from her past sent her running for help. She hated to admit the weakness but couldn't face all of this alone. If anyone in the world would be able to figure out this mystery she knew just who it would be. She had been witness to enough of the weirdness that surrounded their lives to be certain that they would know how to take this nightmare in stride.
Her eyes wandered back down to the table in her apartment where the necklace and photo were laid out for her study. The photos had both been taken around the same time, in fact in both of them she was wearing the locket. It went beyond coincidence and if it were only a joke certainly the perpetrator would know that it had gone too far. She was still expecting the phone she gripped so tightly to ring and for someone on the other end to announce 'got you.' But that call was not placed and she was left only to the silence of her apartment. She held on to that hope only because in some small way it helped to continue to believe that this was an out of control prank rather then something mocking her fear.
She made her fingers move to dial the number that was becoming far too familiar and waited anxiously for the rings to be answered. She hoped that she would be able to explain the fear that she was feeling without sounding entirely irrational. These people respected her, trusted what she had done for them in the past. Appearing to be a woman on the edge would do very little to maintain such an opinion. She took a few deep breaths to calm her voice before she used it.
"Luna Foundation." The line was answered and hearing the formal tone of the house's major domo helped to relax her in the tiniest way. It was an air of calm that any who entered the house on Angel Island held and at the moment she found it helped to make her feel more confident. They were bound to take her seriously and listen to the urgency of the situation. They would not dismiss her revelations as an overactive imagination because they knew that the imagination did not need to be responsible in order to create a horror movie script. Not when the material was so alive in their world.
"Yes, can I speak with someone in the house, it doesn't matter who." She let her relief out.
"That was depressing." Tangye commented as they all piled out of the car on Angel Island. "What do you think will happen to her Alex?"
"I'm not sure. She did commit a murder and arranged for one. Probably won't be good." Alex was sure of that much. They had dropped Libby off at the police station where the woman had quickly confessed to the four-year-old double murder. The police had asked them several questions about how they had become involved with the case and they had answered the questions as best they could. Thankfully the police didn't press the issue too much, probably accustomed to seeing various Legacy members show up with unexplainable information. They reluctantly accepted the aid but not without many side ways glances about who they really were to know so much.
"I'm just glad the child doesn't have to be hurt by any of this." Kristin added as they all went to the front door of the house. As soon as they had it opened they noticed that Dominick was still there waiting on their arrival. "Dominick is everything alright?"
"Fine here Miss Adams, but you received a call from Frances Carlton. She would appreciate it if someone stopped by her apartment as soon as possible. Here is the address. She sounded rather distressed." Dominick passed the small slip of paper over to Alex.
"Thank you Dominick." Alex smiled in appreciation. She looked over at her two partners that had both been working nights for several days. "I'll give Rachel a call and see if she can meet me over there. You two should get some sleep."
"You sure you don't want us to go?" Kristin asked worried that she was being dismissed because Alex didn't think she could do the job any more.
"No, I'll be fine. I'll go call Rachel, you two go up to bed." Alex shook her head seeing on both their faces just how much they clearly did need the rest. They each nodded hesitantly, loathe to let Alex go into any situation alone but not wanting to argue her judgement. She had been in the Legacy longer then either of them and they trusted her instincts. Alex nodded as they all parted ways and she pulled out her phone, hitting the speed dial for Rachel's house. "Hi Rachel, sorry about the wake up call. I was wondering if you could come with me to visit Frances tonight . Evidently she called upset about something She wouldn't tell Dominick what, but he said she was distressed and I thought you could help . Sure, I'll get her. I'll be there as soon as I can." Alex flipped the phone shut and looked up to find both Kristin and Tangye lingering at the foot of the stairs listening in on her conversation. "She'll go, calm down." Alex laughed at their obvious concern that she not go alone.
"Good, I feel better." Tangye grinned.
"Actually she asked if you would mind staying at the house with Kat, so don't get too ready for sleep." Alex smiled back at her noticing that she did look a touch crestfallen to have her opportunity for rest snatched away when it had been so close. "I'll call if this is anything that we need you for Kristin." Alex insisted to the other woman who looked disappointed to just be abandoned at the house. She didn't want her to have any hurt feelings that they would leave her behind but Alex knew it might be important to have at least one well rested member of the team if the situation did prove urgent.
"I really don't want to seem hysterical here, but I have to admit that this is scaring me." Frances paced in front of her two visitors. Alex thought to herself how impressive Frances was if this was her hysterical. She appeared to be a bit distressed just a Dominick had described but it fell incredibly short of what Alex had seen in many others caught in a Legacy case, including some of its members. "I keep telling myself that it is a joke just carried too far but "
"Frances, why don't you tell us everything that has happened from the beginning." Rachel urged in her calmest most soothing tone.
"Really it isn't much, but I thought it better to call you and just hear your opinion." Frances stopped her pacing for a moment and looked over at the women both waiting on her explanation of why they had been called to her apartment in the middle of the night. They looked to be very sincere in their concern and interest in whatever it was that she might have to tell them she just feared that once she did they would realize they had been kept awake for one person's mindless paranoia. "Last night I was called in to work after a car crash. The police were intending to press charges for a drunk driving and wanted to know the exact cause of death for the victim to use in their case. I went in and started the autopsy and as I was removing the victims shirt, this fell out." Frances reached into the lab coat she still wore and pulled the photo out from where she had shoved it when they arrived at her home.
She handed the picture over to Alex who took only a second to glance at it and then back up at the mortician. "Did you know the victim?" She asked carefully.
"I'd never seen him before. I thought that it must have been one of the medics playing games. Sometimes the sense of humor around there can be pretty morbid but No one said anything to me about it today and I didn't want to go around asking. I got another call tonight to go in. A forty year old businessman who choked in his home. The police requested an autopsy because they suspected foul play, evidently he was a very rich man without many supporters of his business practices. On him I found this." She pulled the necklace out of the same pocket feeling a chill go through her just to have it in her hands. She quickly passed the jewelry over to Rachel wanting to get it out of her possession. "It's mine and there is a picture of me in it." Her voice trembled just a bit with that admission.
"You're certain?" Rachel asked amazed.
"Even if it isn't the one I used to have the picture is definitely me." Frances insisted.
"It's okay we believe you." Rachel corrected herself for sounding as if she didn't. She opened the locket in her hands and looked down at the picture of Frances. She also noticed that on the opposite side of the locket there was evidence of a torn edge of another photograph. "How long has it been since you last saw this?" She turned her eyes back up to Frances. The doctor ran her hands through her loose hair and turned away struggling for the memory.
"Four years at least. I lost it." She stated quickly.
"Do you think someone might have taken it from you? Have saved it as a souvenir?" Alex suggested carefully not wanting to upset the woman more then she clearly already was bothered by these events.
"I don't know who but I suppose it's possible." Frances dropped down into her chair.
"Frances we'll do everything we can to help you, trust us." Rachel comforted hoping to help in some small way recalling all too well the feeling of someone was stalking you. She had already been down this road in her own life and knew how terrifying it was.
"That's why I called you. I knew you could help where anyone else might think I was just letting my job get the best of me." Frances stated confidently. She looked back up to her visitors admitting how much she feared just such an idea. She enjoyed her job even if sometimes it was depressing to always be staring down at the handiwork of death. Still she liked the science and the exploration it meant. She did not want to be run out of her job because anyone felt that she was having a break down of some sort. She wasn't exactly sure how anyone would think such a thing, she had evidence but that evidence could easily be dismissed by anyone not wanting to believe her tale. They could say that she had put the mementos on the bodies to create the story to draw attention to herself. She wanted to believe that no one would believe her capable of such a thing but it was not beyond possibility that they might.
"You did the right thing." Alex reassured her. "During the autopsies did you find any evidence that there was foul play?" Frances shook her head.
"No, they both died of natural causes. There were witnesses to the accident and the man tonight all indications are he had been dead for hours before anyone called in to report it. There was no struggle." Frances hunched over in her chair struggling to get her mind around all of this.
"Do you know of anyone who might want to do something like this to you? Anyone that might have a motive to scare you?" Rachel asked.
"No. I can't think of anyone." She answered regretting that she was able to provide so little. "You don't think I'm crazy do you?" She asked desperately. Both the women quickly shook their heads to deny such a statement. They were sure something was going on and whether or not it would be a Legacy matter typically they were prepared to make it one. Frances was a friend and had proved an invaluable asset to their work on many occasions. They wanted to repay that favor in some small way but mostly they acted because over the years she had become a good friend.
"Absolutely not. You clearly didn't fabricate any of this, someone is doing this. We'll do everything that we can to find out who." Rachel stated honestly.
"We will need to do some research into your past. Anyone you knew that might have a motive. We'll also need to look into anyone who was in contact with both of the bodies that could have planted these on them. Are you okay with that?" Frances looked up appearing to hesitate for a moment but finally she nodded her agreement to the idea.
"Frances do you want to stay here tonight or would you feel more comfortable going somewhere else. My house is only about fifteen minutes away and I have an extra room. Or you could go to Angel Island." Rachel presented the ideas gently. She was sure from the obvious tension in the woman's manner that she would not want to be left alone, but also doubted that she would want someone watching over her every moment. Frances had always been a strong and independent woman who dealt with life and death head on, she was not the type who accepted protection easily. Still Rachel knew it better she not be left on her own when she was under so much stress.
"I would really appreciate that." Frances nodded weakly to the idea. "It would be better if I stayed in the city in case I need to go to work. Thank you Rachel."
"No problem. I'll keep Kat quiet in the morning so you can get some rest." Rachel reached out and patted her leg fondly with a smile, trying her best to lighten the mood in some way.
"Thank you both. I hope it turns out to be nothing but I was terrified by the idea of going back to work tomorrow and discovering another surprise." She wiped at her brow thinking how that fear was still very much alive within her.
"You still might, Frances. This person, whoever it is, is probably trying to communicate something to you besides just fear. If you can tell us as much as you can about when these photos were taken that might be a big help." Alex warned, knowing that just because the Legacy was involved the danger was not necessarily past. Depending on who this was they might not be frightened off by anything until their goals were met, whatever those might be.
"I know, but at least now I have someone to turn to. I'll go get some of my things together, I shouldn't be long." She stood up from the chair, her motions looking very mechanical and forced as she moved past them to the back of the apartment. Both women watched her with worried eyes and waited to speak to one another until she was out of earshot.
"What do you think?" Rachel leaned over to look at the photo that Alex still held. Frances was just as pretty in the photo as she was today. Her blonde hair was a bit longer but other then that very little looked to have changed. She was laughing happily at some antic beyond the camera's view and appeared to be very relaxed in the dingy setting behind her. Rachel felt sorry for the doctor that such a happy time in her life was now being used by some unseen force to torment her.
"I'm not really sure. It could be anyone that knows her. Probably some older acquaintance otherwise they wouldn't have access to such a personal photo or piece of jewelry." Alex theorized with what little information they had. "If you don't mind getting a list from her of people that she knew well back then we can start from there with the search. We'll get broader if that doesn't get us anywhere."
"I'll talk to her tomorrow. Right now it looks like she needs a good night's rest." Rachel nodded in agreement to Alex's idea.
"Unfortunately the night is almost over." Alex responded with a sigh thinking of the late hour. She didn't necessarily feel tired, rarely ever allowing herself that luxury when there was work to be done. "It might be a good idea if you go with her if she gets another call to go to work. I think it's best that she not be left alone right now."
"Of course not." Rachel said. "Just leave me my babysitter and I'll do whatever you need me to." Rachel smiled and gave Alex's hand a squeeze. She wondered if the researcher was comfortable taking the lead in such a case without consulting Derek. So frequently the woman looked to Derek for advice on all issues yet this time he would not be available for such conference. If Alex had any concerns she was not showing them in an outward expression, keeping her face very calm just the way Derek did when dropped into a new mystery. Rachel thought how proud that would make the precept to see his student handling herself so well and made a point to tell Derek about it when he returned. Derek was prone to leave Alex in the control room too frequently in the psychiatrists opinion and no matter what his motive for such an act she was certain it was bound to take its toll on Alex's self confidence. Rachel was sure it was not meant as a slight to Alex's abilities but more the precept's desire to protect her in whatever way he could. Still Rachel felt that he needed to be reminded that Alex did not need such constant protection. She was a competent and skilled woman who could handle herself as well as any of the members in the house, and better on many occasions. It wouldn't hurt if Derek were reminded of that fact occasionally.
He knew his messages were getting to her. She was far too diligent to overlook such obvious reminders. What he didn't know was if she was listening to him yet. Perhaps she required something more then just reminders of those days years past. Perhaps she required a clearer message in order to remember what he needed so badly to communicate to her.
She had vanished in a hurry early in the evening and he doubted that she would be willing to return on this night. Whatever he decided to do would have to wait. Which gave him more time to plan, to come up with the perfect way in which to communicate with her. Something that she could not dismiss and that would lead her back to him. There were countless things which he wished to say to her but he wasn't sure just how much she would be willing to listen to.
He took a seat on the docks overlooking the bay, listening as the waves broke against the shore. He recalled the times that they had come to this place. So young, so in love. There had been no world around them that they did not choose to let in. They would sit and just stare out at the water watching the sky turning a myriad of colors. There had been no need to exchange words, the silence they would obtain at those times was comfortable and neither had any interest in disrupting it. Those had been the rare moments of absolute peace he had obtained and he knew that they came from her. Without her being there the place meant nothing.
He stared out to the bay hoping that no one noticed him or commented on his appearance. His mind raced to come up with the perfect words to get her to hear him as he stared at the bay overlooking the beauty.
"Good morning, Rach not Rachel." Tangye corrected her greeting when the woman in front of the coffeepot turned to her and Tangye recognized the difference in the blonde hair. "Oh I'm sorry, did I wake up in the wrong house again." Tangye looked over the familiar kitchen recognizing the decorations and the stack of dishes from Kat's and her late night snack.
"No I should apologize. I'm a friend, Rachel invited me to stay for the night." Tangye nodded skeptically.
"Me too, I didn't realize she was looking to fill the house." Tangye commented as she took the offered coffee mug.
"That wasn't my plan but it does seem to be working out that way." Rachel joked as she entered the kitchen in her robe. "You were asleep when we got in last night or I would have let you know. This is Frances Carlton, our contact at the morgue. Frances, Tangye Gaarlihn, she just began to work at the Luna Foundation a few months back." The two women shook hands just as Kat came bounding into the kitchen dressed and ready for school.
"Mom, can Tangye drop me off at school this morning?" Kat asked excitedly as she climbed up into one of the barstools at the counter. Rachel gave the younger woman a careful look to which Tangye answered with a wicked grin.
"It won't be a problem Rachel, I have to get back to the island anyway."
"Just make sure she makes it there on time if you could." Rachel warned her knowing she did have a penchant for getting distracted from her own classes, she didn't want her spreading the habit to her impressionable young daughter.
"You say it with that much doubt and Frances will think you don't trust me." Tangye joked. "Kat why don't you go grab your books and we'll head out. We'll stop for breakfast on the way." Kat grinned happily at the suggestion and vanished before her mother could say anything about where they should eat.
"I should go get cleaned up. Rachel you still wanted to talk?" Rachel nodded as Frances excused herself from the room. Tangye waited until she was sure the woman was on the stairs before turning to the doctor still in the room with her pulling down boxes of cereal.
"Is she okay?" She asked carefully not wanting to overstep her bounds.
"For the time she looks to be. She's under a lot of stress right now, I'm sure Alex will tell you all about it when you get back." Rachel answered. "By the way, thank you for coming over here last night. Though it doesn't look like Kat made it to bed on time." Rachel glanced down at the dirty dishes in the sink.
"Sure she did, you put her there the first time." Tangye admitted guiltily with a chuckle. "She woke up when she realized I was here and I couldn't convince her to go to sleep for awhile. She wanted to talk since we haven't seen each other in a few weeks. Sorry." Tangye apologized with enough sincerity that Rachel was sure she actually meant it.
"Don't worry. I know how difficult it can be to get her to sleep sometimes." Rachel patted her back before going to pull down a bowl for her breakfast. "I'll see you later at the island to help out with this case. Let Alex know that I'll bring her by the information she requested as soon as I can. And that I'll probably bring Frances with me, it's better that she not be alone right now." Tangye nodded though she didn't really know any of the details about what was going on.
"Are you guys done yet?" Kat asked impatiently from the doorway.
"Why yes Kat we are, thank you for asking so politely." Tangye turned and winked at Rachel before chasing the girl from the house with her laughing the whole way. Rachel smiled to herself at the interaction. Despite the age difference Kat had taken an immediate liking to Tangye and the relationship was good in the mother's opinion. Tangye could help Kat to learn to understand the gifts that she had and to feel comfortable with them. She knew that Alex and Derek had always tried to do the exact same thing but the more people Kat had around to reinforce such thoughts the better.
"So all we have are the pictures and the locket. Not much to go on." Kristin asked looking down at the two pieces of evidence that Alex had shown her.
"Not yet anyway. Rachel's going to see if she can learn anything else and get a list of people who might have had access to these." Alex explained from her seat at the table. Kristin thought over everything she had been told, seeing where it would have served to scare the mortician but wondering if she had not been correct in her assessment that it was nothing more then a prank. "Frances didn't know either of the victims, and even if she had it is still too much of a coincidence that they would both have evidence of that on them. Someone is evidently trying to reach out to her."
"She didn't have any ideas about who?" Kristin asked, feeling that had very little information with which to do anything. She hoped that Rachel would be able to learn something but if she could only provide a list of people Frances once knew that would do sadly little to narrow their search or give a motive.
"No, none she could think of. But maybe with a bit more time to think she'll come up with something." Alex sighed hating not be able to move forward more quickly. She had never bothered to go to bed when she returned the night before. Instead she had stayed up running fingerprint checks on the photo and locket but it had come up with nothing other then the three people she had seen touch them. Whoever had placed them on the bodies had been careful not to leave such obvious evidence. She still wasn't entirely convinced that there was no foul play in the two cases. It was simple enough to make murders appear to be accidents and though she was confident in Frances' abilities she did not want to overlook anything. If they had not only a deranged prankster but also a murderer on their hands that would make the case much more urgent to find an answer to.
"So we're starting from nowhere?" Kristin asked, already sounding exhausted.