Forget Me Not by TalgoM
"Don't we always?" Alex returned lightly.
"I thought we might actually get a little down time after last night. I still can't believe what she did." Kristin stated sadly. It had not been easy for her to get to sleep the night before as her mind raced with thoughts of the decision that Libby had made. She just couldn't justify the jump from frightened wife to a woman willing to commit the murder of a good man that clearly adored her. She wanted to believe that Libby was sincere when she said she attempted to stop it but her mind just kept replaying the scene she had seen the night alone in the store with Tangye. It had all progressed so quickly, there just didn't seem to be time for the arguments to take place. There was not a moment for the hesitation that should have been there before she had killed the father of her child. She had acted efficiently as if she knew exactly what she was there to do. Kristin reminded herself again how glad she was that the innocent child caught in the tragedy her mother wrote was able to grow up outside of it.
"It is hard to accept but I guess what she saw as a desperate situation made her think that she needed "
"A desperate solution. You're probably right." Kristin agreed with the theory verbally but the logic just didn't sink in to her very deeply.
"But you don't want to believe that?" Kristin smiled at the sensitive woman who always appeared to have such a deep understanding of those around her. "You just have to let it go. If we let all the tragedy around us sink in too deeply then you'll leave the Legacy after a matter of days."
"It is just so hard sometimes." Alex smiled to herself, glad that Kristin was letting out her human side that she so often attempted to keep buried beneath the surface. Alex did genuinely like the bright researcher but often it became very difficult to remember why. Kristin tried to keep up a cold indifferent front up at times and maintain a distance between herself and those that she worked with. Alex could never quite decide what motivated her into that but she had always suspected that it had to do with her family and the loss of both of her parents. Alex knew all too well what that felt like and tried to be sympathetic but it was hard when the woman was not willing to accept the gesture. She patted Kristin's hand gently in silent support of her struggles but refrained from saying anymore about it.
"I know that this isn't easy on you, but it is really the best way we have for figuring out who might be doing this to you." Rachel said soothingly from behind Frances' spot at the kitchen table. She saw the woman's head bob in acceptance of that but Frances didn't speak. She looked over Frances' shoulder at the list of names that she was working on compiling so diligently. Rachel felt sympathy for her that she would have to go through such a difficult task. Turning over the names of everyone she considered her friends that were now suspects in the eyes of the Legacy members. Of all of them at best only one would be guilty, but it still had to be hard to look at the names and even allow a moment of hesitation about their motives enter her mind. "Frances tell me something, is there anyone you can think of that might have a particular motivation for scaring you in this way?" Rachel took a seat across from Frances, asking the question carefully.
"No one that I can think of." Frances answered with a tired shake of her head pausing to look over the list of names. "Medical school was hard, you know that. There was always a lot of competition and that inevitably results in some squabbles. Still, I can't think of anyone that I had enough problems with that they would want to do something like this to me."
"What about someone who maybe wanted the job you got when you graduated?" Rachel asked.
"There might have been someone, I don't know who though. We never discussed it and I don't know of any of the other candidates." Frances fought to sort through the memories she had not reflected on in years. It was so long ago and it didn't really have any effect on her life today. In her opinion those days were better left in the past. The present was hard enough to deal with, without bothering to try and categorize the past.
"It's okay, Alex will be able to find that out." Rachel consoled.
"Is there anything you can't find out about someone?" Frances asked a bit concerned. Rachel noted the reaction but dismissed it quickly. It was natural for someone to be worried that a mysterious group like the Legacy could so easily access their life.
"I won't lie to you, no there isn't much, but we don't use that as a toy either. We know you have a right to your privacy." Rachel admitted, not mentioning that Derek had probably already done a diligent background check on the mortician before allowing her to know so much about the work of the Legacy.
"But now I have to let you look into everything." Frances nodded, again displaying concern that seemed out of place. Rachel had little reason to think that Frances had ever done anything that she would desire to hide, but she admitted that Frances might have bits of her past that she just assume be left alone. Everyone had one story that they would rather have left undiscovered. Not necessarily because it was some horrible crime, just out of embarrassment of the choices of youth or even the stupidity of the same. Rachel knew that she too had many actions that she just assume leave in the past, she doubted that Derek had not already learned of them but as long as he kept them quiet she was content.
"If you want us to figure any of this out, yes we do need to look into everything." Rachel admitted, refusing to lie.
"I guess I'll accept that." Frances nodded and continued working on her list.
"Is there something you thought of, something that might be important?" Rachel asked carefully.
"Not that I can think of." Frances answered absently without looking up. Rachel nodded her acceptance of that answer though she wasn't convinced that it was entirely truthful. For some reason she doubted suddenly if the list that Frances was working on would prove valuable at all, or if the mortician was intentionally going to leave something off that perhaps she wanted to keep unknown. Rachel could understand such an act, but at the same time couldn't ignore how dangerous it might prove to be. If Frances felt there was something in her past worth hiding that could easily be exactly what they were looking for. But without her help the Legacy would have no idea what they were looking for and thus the search would not be any easier. She just hoped that if Frances was making such a choice that she understood the possible consequences. If someone was out there looking to scare her in such a way their motives could quickly turn much more sinister if they felt they were being ignored. The Legacy would do everything in their power to help her but if she chose to resist their efforts they could do very little for her.
"I'll leave you alone, let me know when you're done." Rachel stood up from the table and left the room, pausing to look back at the younger woman from the doorway. Frances paused in her work and turned her eyes to look out the window to the backyard. Her face took on a far away expression, still creased with fear and worry about what was going on. Rachel felt for her due to the situation but still could not shed some of her concern that the Legacy was not really getting what they needed from her. She just hoped that with time Frances would trust them enough to open up and help them help her.
"This just arrived from Rachel." Tangye announced exiting the control room with a few sheets of paper in her hand. She handed the list over to Alex at the main table in the library and slid up to sit beside her on the table. "It's going to take forever to do this you know?"
"We don't really have forever." Alex responded looking over the list of names that took up the entire front sheet in Frances' neat handwriting.
"But we can't rule anyone out, not even people who no longer live here because they could easily visit. There's no way we can interview all of them." Tangye insisted, really not sure where to begin with such an imposing task. "And we can't exactly go and wait for them to show up to plant the next memento. We have no idea how they're finding or choosing the people. We have no way of finding this guy ourselves."
"Are you done with the hopeless attitude?" Alex asked turning to look at the younger woman. Tangye shrugged and grinned a bit feeling very caught with those words. "You're right on both points but we can't just sit around and wait for whoever this is to go to the next step. Kristin is checking into anyone who could have been in contact with the bodies and might have reason to do this, or a past of some sort with Frances. You start looking into these people." Alex tore the list in half between the two columns handing one side over to Tangye.
"What am I looking for?" Tangye asked looking down at the list of probably more then thirty names.
"Let's just rule out who was out of town first. Find alibis for their location over the past two days." Alex instructed with a nod.
"They could just have someone doing it for them." Tangye reminded.
"Don't try and be difficult. If we don't get anywhere with the shorter list we can always expand it again." Tangye nodded her agreement hating that she was again being called on her attitude, even if it was deserved. She just couldn't figure out where they were expected to begin when essentially anyone that knew Frances could be perpetrating the cruel game.
"One question Alex, assuming it isn't a prank gone too far by one of the ambulance drivers " Tangye began to speak on the thought that was running through her mind ever since she was briefed on the case, but was cut off when Kristin entered the room.
"Which all indications are it wasn't." She announced.
"How do you figure?" Alex turned to look at the woman joining them.
"If they're working as a pair it's possible, but not if it's only one person. The two groups that reported to the scenes were different on both nights. That includes the police on the scene. Different parts of the city, different precincts." Kristin passed the printout of her findings over to Alex. Alex quickly scanned the list of names, recognizing a few of them from previous incidents involving the Legacy but only because they so often became involved at the tail end of cases not due to some sinister activity. She handed the sheet over to Tangye and sank back in her seat with a sigh.
"You were asking?" Alex turned her eyes in Tangye's direction remembering that she had been cut off.
"How's this guy finding dead people? There's no evidence that he's killing them but he always gets to them before anyone else. What kind of radar of death does he have?" Tangye asked genuinely confused by this detail.
"Why do you keep saying he? It's not a good idea to get that in your head when we know so little." Alex warned, afraid Tangye would latch too much on to the male idea when she was just using it to keep it straight in her head. It was better they not dismiss any possibility, and that included that this might be done by a woman.
"Because he was there." Tangye answered, shocked by Alex's clear warning. "Kristin and I were talking, and we both agree it's a man, we thought you knew that." Alex turned to look at each of them in turn now confused by their acceptance of the fact.
"How would I know that, why do you think that?" Alex sat up wanting details.
"There was a man on the scene of the accident. It was in the police reports. People saw him get in the car and try to help the driver to no avail. He was the only one in contact with the man besides the medics. The next night an anonymous man made the 911 call. He said that the man in the apartment was dead which means he must have seen him and been on the scene. That places a man with both of the bodies before anyone else." Kristin explained the easy logic they had used to get to such a conclusion.
"And the man the first night vanished before anyone could get his name." Alex recalled the reports that she too had read over but in doing so had managed to overlook something so obvious. She was glad that the others hadn't and was reminded again by such a simple thing if how important the team was. They all had their own skills and those together usually worked well to get them to a solution. "But they must have a description of him."
"Something to go off of." Tangye added relieved. "Still that doesn't answer my question. How is this guy finding dead people, or at least making it to a scene in time for their deaths? What does he know, and how?" Tangye pressed the point.
"I don't know but there's bound to be something we're still missing. Kristin, contact the police and see if you can get a description of the man at the car accident. I'll start pulling pictures of the men on Frances' list so that we can compare. Tangye, you try to find out something about this foresight of death. This can't be the first time someone could do that." Alex instructed standing from the table, getting a nod from each of the other women in the room in agreement with her plan.
Why was she refusing to listen to him? How could she possibly be over looking something that was so obvious to him? He knew that she had sought out help to deal with what she believed a cruel hoax. He also was certain that she had not mentioned a word about him. It was still a memory that she was very protective of, not something that she would share easily even if she were frightened by what was going on in her world. He was her secret just as he had always been. Something whispered in private and held close to her heart. She had never been willing to share him with the world.
There had been a period when he had taken offense to that secretive nature but with time he had grown to appreciate it. She wanted him to be something that belonged to her and her alone. Everything between them had been only theirs and not something that the world in general could infringe upon. He had learned to love that private nature up right until the end when she had turned away and thrown him out into the cold alone. No longer did she desire to keep him for herself, she wanted no part of him and did everything she could to purge him from her heart.
He doubted that such an effort had ever worked. He knew he still lingered in her heart, held close and personal even if she didn't want him there any longer.
Yet she would not listen to him, her mind forcing away the memory of the photos and locket and their origin. He had to do something bolder, there had to be a more pronounced way to get her attention. She needed to remember his name, to issue it from her lips and recall the emotions once so attached to it. What exactly he needed to do was still not decided but he knew he could not allow a night to pass without communicating with her. He had fought so hard to get back to her and was not going to let his time pass without getting done what he came to do.
He did not yet have the perfect means to get through to her but if he kept up these tactics she would eventually hear his cries for her. She had to, she had to remember. Some emotions were too intense to merely allow to fade with time.
He watched as she exited the quaint suburban house nestled within the trees. She was with another woman now, one of the two that she had called on the night before. They would not leave her alone but that mattered little. Eventually it would not matter if they stood by or not, she would cry out to him and nothing could hold him back. He would hold her in his arms again and give her the forgiveness that she needed to move on with her life. He would remind her of what had once been and show her that it could still be again for her. She was never meant to walk alone and though she had chosen to discard her chance at true happiness, he would not allow her to deny herself any at all. Even if it would fall second best to what they had once shared.
The day had rushed by quickly, too quickly in Rachel's opinion. She had left Frances at the morgue around noon, both agreeing that she should be safe since she would be surrounded by other employees and because the perpetrator behind the souvenirs worked nocturnally. Rachel had barely enough time to go by her office before she had to pick Kat up at school and then drive her out to the island, having decided that it would be easier to leave Kat at the Legacy house for the weekend then arrange for a sitter. Everyone there was hard at work to hopefully locate whoever might be behind this. She had been allowed a short while to have an early dinner with her daughter and then it was back into the city to meet Frances at the end of her shift. The day was gone, the sun already having slipped over the horizon, and Rachel didn't really feel that she had accomplished anything.
"Still no indication that this is being done by anyone at work?" Rachel asked as she Frances carefully locked the front doors to the building.
"No one said anything or even looked at me as though they knew something. I can't imagine it is any of them." Frances shook her head turning out to look at the street. "Have you been able to learn anything?" She asked the question carefully, as if fearful of the answer she might get.
"We're fairly certain that it is a man. Probably the one at the car crash and who called in the 911 call on the choking victim." Rachel answered, noting Frances' leeriness to what she might hear but again pushing the concern it caused back. It was natural for her to be fearful in such a situation.
"What makes you think that?" Frances questioned in surprise.
"I guess you could call it a hunch, but we usually try to trust those. The mysterious Good Samaritan seems to be the only common denominator between the two bodies. Kristin is getting descriptions from the witnesses and Alex will try to cross match them with anyone on your list. Hopefully that will get us the answer to this." Rachel explained. "Did you tell them that you still wanted to be on duty for tonight?"
"Yes." Frances nodded solemnly. She knew it was best that she be called so that she could receive any incoming message that might be sent to her, but the idea of finding another one still unnerved her. She knew she wouldn't have to do it alone, someone would be with her at all times, but she just assume not find another reminder of her past on the body of someone she didn't know. She found her eyes carefully scanning the street around her as she walked with Rachel to the car. Searching for who she wasn't sure, just someone out of the ordinary that would be paying her undue attention. There were plenty of people out in the early evening so even if she was being watched there was little chance she could actually locate the person doing so. Still keeping an active eye out was better then just assuming that she was safe in the presence of the psychiatrist. She knew that Rachel was skilled in dealing with these kinds of mysteries but she also knew that she was only one person. If someone wanted to get to her badly enough she doubted that one person would be able to stop them.
"I know this isn't easy on you, but you aren't alone any more. We're doing everything we can to help. If you get the call to go to work Alex and I will be with you, or two of us at least." Rachel reached out just before they got to her car. She placed a gentle hand on the women's shoulder hoping to offer a bit of comfort from the fear that was so evident in her roaming eyes. The gesture did not appear to do much but evoke a half hearted smile and nod. Nothing that was at all convincing but the best that Frances was able to offer at the time.
"I appreciate all of this, I really do. I just don't know how much I can expect you to do." Frances stepped up to the car door as Rachel hit the release for the locks on her key chain. "I keep thinking that I'm being ridiculous, totally overreacting to some coincidences or a game, but "
"It's not easy to convince yourself of that." Rachel finished for her, knowing exactly what she was driving at. "I know what you're going through Frances, and how difficult it can be, but the most important thing is to never let them have the upper hand. Being afraid is all right, it's what you're supposed to do. Fear is a defense mechanism, it keeps you on guard for any possible threat. If you weren't scared you would be in a lot more danger right now. What you can't do is allow them the upper hand, you can't let the fear consume you no matter how easy it might be." Rachel recalled too many of her own experiences where she wished she would have thought of that advice and used it.
"I know you're right and I will try. Maybe if whoever this is gives me a night off I'll have some time to regroup and force myself to calm down again. I doubt I'm going to get that though." Frances slid into the car, sure that it was only a matter of time until her beeper went off and she was faced with another bit of her past come back to remind her of years gone by.
"At least you're expecting it now. You know there's a good chance you'll find something." Rachel added, certain that knowledge did very little to help. No matter how prepared you made yourself, or tried to convince yourself you were it was all too easy to give in to fear when the message finally arrived. You knew it was coming, were almost waiting on it but still you jumped. Just like in every horror movie she had ever seen, the music always let you know that the murderer was coming but your body still reacted with the required fear when he finally did pop out from behind the bushes.
"So who gets the first shift of morgue duty?" Tangye asked joining the two researchers in the control room where they had stayed holed up most of the day, except for meal breaks. She was submitting to her eyes demand for respite now no longer able to focus on the countless pages of books she had poured over since the morning. She wasn't sure how Alex was keeping at her task, knowing the computer screen to be just as exhausting to look at. Kristin meanwhile was still on the phone in the corner talking to another one of the witnesses to the accident.
"Whoever can stay awake I suppose." Alex said without committing. Tangye nodded at the unspoken statement within those words, knowing that she and Kristin had managed the most sleep the night before and would be the logical choices. Tangye was amazed to find herself not dreading such a proposal as much as she might have only days before. The day had gone surprisingly smoothly between them when they had managed to discuss the case civilly and without their normal snaps at one another. Tangye took it as a good sign of things to hopefully come. She found that she did like Kristin and saw a good deal of traits in the bright researcher worth emulating, but their differences had always overshadowed any admiration they might find for one another. If they could get past that she felt they might actually manage a friendship based on mutual respect.
"Do we have an I.D. yet?" Tangye asked sitting in one of the chairs and sliding over in Alex's direction.
"Trust me, if we did I'd be yelling it from the mountain tops. So far we don't even have a description." She answered, her voice unable to hide her exhaustion. She had managed to locate files on most of the men on Frances' list and also compile brief backgrounds on them as Kristin called people. None of them fit the sort of profile they were looking for, at least not obviously, and Kristin had not been able to get a single helpful detail out of the witnesses.
"How many people has she talked to?" Tangye questioned in surprise.
"I think she's only got one more. So far we have a man of average height and build wearing a brown trench coat and a brown hat. Or it might be a black coat and hat, or some combination. No one saw his face or hair or skin color or anything." Alex informed her wearily. After every call Kristin would tell her what she had managed to learn and every time it was the exact same thing, nothing.
"So basically we're looking for any guy in the city and thus every guy on the list." Tangye nodded looking back down at the list. Alex had already crossed out about half the names, but those were only the women, so far not a single male name was discarded and from what Kristin was finding out they had no way to remove any more with the description.
"This is ridiculous. Twenty people saw the accident, described everything there to a tee, yet they can't tell me anything about the man?" Kristin dropped the phone down on to the receiver annoyed. She looked over her shoulder sadly, that expression alone telling Alex that this latest call had got them nowhere yet again. She wanted to believe with every number she dialed that this call would be the one, this person would come forth with an accurate picture of the man on the scene. Every time she was instead met with the same vagueness. He was entirely covered and entirely average. Nothing stood out about him except his efforts to help a dying man. Except that had not been what he was doing, he was only in the car to deposit a message for Frances to find.
Alex chose not to say anything about the aggravated outburst from her colleague, turning her eyes back to Tangye. "Have you found anything yet?"
"No. Whatever this guy is he isn't some typical demon or monster, if you'll excuse the term. Nothing has cropped up throughout history that has this ability to smell death like he evidently does. I still have plenty more to go through, but my brain can't translate right now." She rubbed at her eyes trying to fight back the blur that was taking over the edges of her vision. "I did have a question though. Does everyone get an autopsy? I mean aren't there just some people who die and they know what from so there is no need for the autopsy?" The thought had been running through her mind for awhile but she didn't have the answer.
"I guess." Alex shrugged finding the question to be a bit out of place.
"You mean, not only is this guy finding the dying but he's finding those that he knows for some reason Frances will be called in to autopsy." Kristin caught on to what Tangye was saying, standing to cross to the other two women.
"I don't know if it means anything or not, but he seems to be really on the ball about who he's finding." Tangye nodded. "I was just thinking that animals can smell each other, you know? They can smell fear and other pheromones. What if that's all this guy is doing?"
"You think he has an ability to smell death even though both of these have been unnatural?" Kristin took a seat looking at her seriously. It wasn't something that they had discussed before yet it did make a certain amount of sense.
"If he's a like animal." Tangye added.
"You mean if he's dead?" She shrugged unwilling to commit to Alex's question but in her head that somehow did fit with what they had learned so far. "Or he may just have the Sight, be foreseeing these deaths that way. So far everyone on the list is alive, so I think for now we have to assume this guy is too." Alex stated the facts but something about what Tangye suggested did carry logic with it. If the man they were looking for was already dead he would have a stronger connection to those dying on some level. Yet if Frances had not given them the name of anyone who had already passed on she wasn't sure how to locate who it might be. She had to trust that Frances gave them what they needed, even if it was a blind faith. For now that was all they had to go on.
Frances waited down the street from the morgue in an all night coffee shop for them to be joined by Rachel's colleagues rather then risk going into the building alone or even with Rachel. The doctor had explained that they should wait for the others to join them in order to go in with greater force, and hopefully hear anything that they might have been able to learn in the course of the day. Rachel was in the bathroom at the time and Frances felt fearful even being alone when surrounded by the other patrons of the diner. She watched the area around herself carefully, looking for anything even the slightest bit out of the ordinary refusing to allow her mind to wander. She didn't want to think anymore about whom might be doing this to her or what they hoped to accomplish with the acts. She just wanted the whole thing to end.
She had seen countless strange things in her work and each time these people from the Luna Foundation would show up to look into it. When they didn't show up she found herself calling them now, certain that they could offer her an explanation for what was impossible in her mind. Often times their answers were no better then what she managed to formulate herself, but at least when it came from their lips rather then hers she was not alone. They managed to make her feel comfortable in the crazy theories she had at times by simply backing them up. They were clearly a group with endless means at their disposal who were accustomed to fighting even those things most people would deem purely impossible. She wished that the strangeness of their world had never managed to hit so close to her own life, but since it had she was glad she knew they were out there to help.
She admitted that what was happening could be done still by a simple prankster without the judgement to realize that they had gone too far, but that idea felt more an empty hope as she considered the facts. Whatever this was knew her well, knew what her reactions would be and what thoughts it would conjure with the photo and locket. She wondered if she was making a drastic mistake by not being entirely truthful with them yet quickly she forced herself to discard that worry. Some things were still purely impossible and the thought she was having was one of them. There was no way that he could have returned, he was out of her life, she had made that clear. Refusing to think of him for years had never managed to wipe the area of her soul that he touched clean but it had removed him from her memory for a time. It allowed her to move on with her life without regret and she was not about to give that peace up.
"Are you ready?" Kristin Adams' voice broke into her worried thoughts. Kristin didn't know what else to say when they walked up to the mortician at the corner table in the back of the restaurant. Frances' face was so strained and tired as she stared out into the dark night beyond the window that Kristin found herself unable to think of words that might help to comfort her. Frances looked up at the two who were to serve as her protectors in the morgue with a slow nod.
"Rachel will be right back." She answered absently. Kristin imagined that she had to be a bit disappointed to see who came to help her. Rather then Nick with his rigid backed strength or Derek with his air of confidence against any foe, she was offered two slight women that probably looked as fragile as she felt. Kristin knew that wasn't really the case. She and Tangye were equally up to the task at hand, or at least Kristin told herself they were. She couldn't quite forget the teasing Tangye had issued when her first reaction had been to throw things at Marcus Browning's spirit. That was an impulse that she would have to control if she were to garner the confidence that Nick and Derek did from those the Legacy worked with. Tangye on the other hand managed to carry the same type of 'I can't be beaten' attitude that Nick did, and had even gone so far as to grab one of Nick's handguns. Her only explanation for the choice being, 'If he isn't dead and we need to slow him down, I want to have a means.' Kristin doubted that Tangye was prepared to kill but the telepath didn't let that show, mimicking Nick's steel expression.
"How are you doing?" Tangye asked gently sliding into the booth across from Frances.
"I suppose I'm tired." Frances said without committing to the answer, which she knew, was really being looked for. She just didn't know how to explain how afraid she was at the time. She knew that these people had gone through much harder situations and witnessed things more frightening then what she was caught in. Admitting that she was terrified was like an admission to weakness and she doubted that would gain much respect from them.
"You could call in to work, take a day off to rest." Kristin suggested but Frances quickly shook her head in response to that idea.
"I don't want them to think there is something wrong with me." The women both nodded as Rachel walked back up to the table.
"Glad you got here so quickly, how's Kat?" Rachel sat down keeping her voice neutral. She wanted to be casual about what was happening hoping it would make Frances feel a little better. If it appeared that they were comfortable dealing with this thing then Frances would have less reason to worry about her own safety.
"She's fine, sleeping when we left." Tangye answered the question having made a point to check on the girl before leaving the island.
"Have you found anything out?" Rachel pushed forward.
"Not much beyond speculation." Kristin stated but noted the bit of worry that statement compounded on Frances' face and corrected her statement. "That shouldn't last much longer. We have some more research to do, but we're getting close. We're certain that this is a man, which does reduce the number of people we have to look into. We have a vague description but we just don't know how he's doing it. Finding the bodies that is. Alex could use your help on the island."
"That's where I'm heading now. You'll be okay?" Rachel turned to look at Frances who managed only a nod in answer. The group all stood up from the table. Tangye and Frances went to the door of the diner while Rachel and Kristin hung back to drop some money on the table. "She's strong but this is getting to her. She doesn't know how to react." Rachel whispered with concern. Frances was keeping up the best face she could but it did little to cover the raw fear that was eating at her.
"Would anyone?" Kristin asked rhetorically. "Has she mentioned anyone today that she thinks might make a good suspect?"
"She doesn't seem to want to talk about it, why?" Rachel looked at her colleague.
"We have a theory that whoever is behind this has an ability to sense the dead. Tangye believes that they might be dead, Alex is leaning more towards the Sight."
"Which do you think?" Rachel asked hoping that Kristin could be objective. Both Tangye and Alex were reaching out to an idea closer to themselves, Kristin didn't really have any such thing shadowing her judgement.
"Surprising as this might be, Tangye. I talked to all the witnesses at the car accident and none of them remember the face of the man who helped, just his form. Then there is the fact that he hasn't left fingerprints on anything. We have to assume he's had this stuff for awhile and what's the chance he was always so careful not to leave a mark on it? A spirit of some sort makes sense and it gives him the ability to travel and vanish." Rachel nodded in agreement of that assessment. "What we haven't found is anyone from her past that is dead."
"Well maybe you can get something from her tonight." Rachel added hopefully. She had not had much luck over the course of the day learning anything new, perhaps the others would.
He watched her closely from his spot in the shadows. She was surrounded now, never being left alone for an instant. She had not smiled at all as he watched her tonight and he found himself missing even the half hearted expression from her. It would never match what had once been his but even seeing her try for them made him recall how truly beautiful she always was. He wished that he could approach her and remind her of all that she had thrown away but she had to remember on her own. She had to call out for him to return to her side where he was meant to be.
He wasn't sure when his anger over her betrayal had slipped away and been replaced by the longing to comfort her. He no longer thought of the betrayal with the anger that had threatened to consume him, now he only pitied the pain she must be living under. He was glad for the change in himself. Seeing her face again had broken down the walls of hate that he worked so hard, in the years that had passed, to construct. There was just no way for him to hold on to such an emotion when he looked at her.
Seeing her had also helped to return some of the memories that had been pushed back in his anger. No longer were his recollections revolving around those last moments together. When she had looked at him with such disgust and cast him away. Now he could picture their hours together when the world was at peace and only they existed within it. When he would find her in the chair by the window with a textbook in the middle of the night. She would smile and laugh for him when he snatched away the book and held it above her reach until she conceded to retire for the night. He would pull her back to their bed and divert her attention from her studies that were becoming too much the focus of her world. She had so much more to offer then just her expertise and he had always wanted to remind her of that fact.
She was precious and rare, he had told her that countless times. She wanted to comfort people, to give them the answers they so desperately sought. He respected that trait in her but had never wanted her to allow that to be all that mattered to her. She needed to be one of the vulnerable to understand what they needed and he had made her such. Love was her means to knowing what those who came to her were looking for. If she had nothing precious in her life then she would never comprehend the torment that they were going through. So he had offered himself as the precious thing in her life but she had tossed him out with one mistake she couldn't understand. Now she was alone and had no real connection to those that wanted her help, he needed to remind her how important that human side to her was. He needed for her to give into it and since she seemed so resistant to allowing it to happen naturally he would make it occur with unnatural means. And she would thank him for his efforts. She would understand the importance.
"Can I ask you a question?" Tangye spoke from her spot near the door to the morgue. The three were waiting for the hospital to deliver the body that Frances had been called in to autopsy and had been doing so in silence since Frances explained that it sometimes took awhile for the hospital to do so. Tangye didn't like the atmosphere of the morgue and found the silence difficult to deal with knowing that all around her were the dead. She kept expecting to see something rise from one of them, never having witnessed death before or the formation of the spirits she was so accustomed to dealing with. She wasn't sure exactly when it happened and being around the dead made her nervous that it might at any moment. Talking at least distracted her a bit from that irrational discomfort.
"I guess." Frances shrugged from her seat at the desk as she reviewed the reports from the day making sure that nothing found on any of the bodies looked familiar. She was a bit leery of what the girl might ask her but refused to allow that to show on her face.
"Why did you become a mortician? I don't mean any offense but isn't it a bit depressing?" Tangye asked the question carefully. Kristin appeared interested as well turning to look at Frances for a response.
"I guess it depends on how you look at it. It is a natural part of life." Frances put her papers down and looked up to the curious woman.
"Yeah but it's the crappy part. You get birth, marriage, kids and then to close it out death. That's pretty crappy. You work so hard and then you get it taken from you. And how often is it really painless? Accidents, painful illnesses, murders." Tangye argued and Kristin was sure she was doing so only to fight off the silence. She could see the nervous look in her colleagues' eyes and for the first time began to wonder if it had been a bad choice to bring her here.
"You forget all those people who die peacefully in their sleep." Frances pointed out.
"And you forget that most of those people they say that about suffered before hand. Great that they died in their sleep but dealing with cancer for the two years before that wasn't exactly painless, and that was part of their death. Maybe their heart stopped when they were sleeping but they were dying before that." Tangye insisted.
"Are you afraid of it?" Frances asked interested in the woman's line of thinking.
"That's a two part question. Am I afraid of the people I love dying? Terrified. Am I afraid of dying myself? Not a bit." Frances and Kristin were both a bit shocked by the certainty she answered the question with, not even blinking as she admitted the truth.
"Most people are much more afraid of the latter." Frances came back "Do you believe in an afterlife?" Tangye laughed without thinking at that question throwing Kristin a quick glance.
"Yeah, I definitely believe in an afterlife but I've never been convinced it's the paradise we're told it is." Tangye's voice broke from the seriousness it had been holding.
"If you lose someone you care about you might start to think differently. I've seen people with no faith come in here and walk out believing in heaven." Frances stated, thinking how common it was for people to grasp on to the idea of such a paradise when they lost someone they cared for, needing to find a purpose and justification for the suffering.
"And I bet you've seen people who come in here and already believe and then they leave their faith when they walk back out because it just isn't fair." Tangye's mood took a noticeable turn, her words harsher then she probably intended for them to come out as. Frances had no way of knowing that she had lost so many people in her young life but she didn't like that the mortician assumed what her reaction would be to loss.
"True." Kristin was about to step in when she saw Tangye visibly step back from the discussion and gain control over her emotions.
"Are you afraid of death?" Tangye put the question to the mortician.
"A little, but being here and doing this has helped me to understand it better." Frances answered with a glance around the room.
"So you think that by studying death you might find a way to beat it?" Tangye concluded and it did make sense to them all.
"Or at least a way to accept it." Frances nodded just as the front doorbell rang. "That would be our delivery." She stood up and started to go to the door. Tangye stopped her feeling the need to get away for a moment and seeing this as her best opportunity to do so.
"I'll get it." She turned and went out of the room. Frances looked back over at Kristin where she sat beside her desk. Frances had not been able to overlook the reactions that Tangye was showing and was worried about what they might mean. Before she could even ask about what had been going on that she wasn't privy to Kristin supplied the answer.
"She's lost just about everyone in her life. Normally it doesn't seem to affect her that much but I suppose being here is harder then any of us considered. She'll be fine, she just needs some time." Kristin stated without hesitation. Kristin couldn't deny that she had completely understood where Tangye was coming from with some of her words and reactions. After losing both of her parents Kristin had found it much more difficult to accept the justness of death, or that it was ever really kind. It just seemed to act without concern for what it was doing or whom it might be hurting. She tried not to think about all those that she loved who had come to a place like this but Tangye's words had brought those thoughts to the surface and she found the place to be very depressing. No one walked in here happy, possibly relieved that suffering had ended, but it was not a place that represented any sort of joy. Thinking of those that came her to identify the people they lost was just sad and it changed the atmosphere around them.