Anne went to see him as soon as she heard. It was spring in Geneva, and a pleasant warm day too boot, so it didn't really surprise her to find Bester outdoors, but the location was unexpected. There had not been anything left of Kelsey to bury, so it did not really make sense for him to visit the Teeptown cemetery. Then again, many years of aquaintance and several shared missions did still leave her regarding Alfred Bester as an occasional puzzle.
The particular gravestone she found him looking at seemed to have decades on it, judging by the vegetation growing around. The name didn't register with her, and she knew Bester well enough not to ask.
"Al," she said, "they just told me."
Kelsey had been the second protégé he lost in a rather short time, after the Byron incident, so he could have taken her words as a simple condolence. His shields were up, and he didn't attempt to 'cast at her, and yet his next words, as he turned towards her, showed that he knew.
"I'm sorry, Anne."
She hadn't permitted herself to feel the grief yet, telling herself she had to find out the truth first. Besides, she and Kelsey had only just started to see each other. A couple of drinks, a shared determination to visit New Zealand.
Somehow, all the lost possibilities made it worse.
"But is she really dead?" she asked, satisfied that her voice did not let her down. After all, there was no body. Anne was a good cop, Bester had said so himself when they had worked together on Beta. A good cop knew that without a body, there were always… possibilities.
"Look," she said, "if it's a covert operation I understand that you can't talk to me about it. I just want to know whether she's alive somewhere."
"I didn't see her die," he replied, and then he opened his shields enough to show her the image, some ignorant mundane Earth Officer who had gotten between him and the rogue, punching him out as if this mess was anything that could be resolved with fisticuffs, the last glimpse before her fell of Kelsey as she stood alone against the obviously insane Ironheart. "But I sensed it as soon as I regained consciousness. He killed her, just as he killed the researcher. She is dead. I'm sorry, Anne," he repeated.
Later, the hollowness in her would be filled with rage, rage at that mundane who had helped ensuring Kelsey's death through his interference, rage at Department Sigma for needing a small-scale clean-up job for another of their messes, even some rage at Kelsey herself for believing she could take on a mad telekinetic alone instead of doing the sensible thing and flee once her fellow psi cop had been disabled. Right now, Anne felt only numb.
She blinked and stared at the grave at their feet while she tried to restore her blocks. Anne was a professional. She would not let her emotions leak all over the place.
The name, Sandoval Bey, was still a mystery to her.
"He was my mentor," Bester said unexpectedly, and now she believed understood why he had come here. "He told me to love them, you know."
He didn't have to say whom. The blips, the rogues, the ones turning against their own who had to be hunted down and brought back so they could be saved.
"I tried that, too, in the beginning," Anne said. "Couldn't keep it up."
Again, she held to that glimpse of Kelsey he had given her, so young and idealistic, determined to do her duty for the Corps.
"It's hard when you see them kill their own," Bester agreed. "But they're still family. And in this case, it was really the mundane's fault. If he hadn't interfered, Kelsey and I could have contained Ironheart."
He turned away from the grave, and she joined him.
"Are you going to do something about this?" Anne asked, recalling the mundane serial killer who had specialized in murdering telepaths they had hunted on Beta, and the efficient way Bester had dealt with him. She felt the first flicker of a most welcome anger. "I don't know about you, Al, but I'm sick of mundanes ruining and destroying our lives."
He smiled at her, lowered his shields a bit, and she sensed the complete sincerity in his words as he said:
"I promise I will, Anne. I promise I will."