“Did you put any tapes in this car?”
“What?” Jamie looked up, confused. She’d been dozing a little in the last couple of hours, and Joan had taken a fluttering of her eyes towards the road as a cue that she was at least a little awake.”
“Is there any music in this car? I get a little bored driving in silence.”
“Uh, no, I didn’t think of it. I’ll pick something up in the next town. What kind of thing do you listen to?” Jamie was slowly sitting up straight and re-arranging herself to show she was awake.
“Pretty much anything that breaks the monotony of a country road, honestly. You have to admit that this isn’t the most fascinating of scenery.”
“That’s true, I suppose.” A quick smile passed over Jamie’s face, and then she looked suddenly solemn. “Thanks, by the way, for not judging tonight.”
“Some people may actually deserve to die.” Joan could feel her face turning to stone. In her training she had heard story after story about victims who had not been able to defend themselves so successfully as Jamie had. Joan had developed a hate for anyone who would think that any kind of sexual assault was a reasonable act. Jamie’s seemed a little surprised at the venom in her voice, but it seemed like a pleasant surprise.
“All the same, I broke my promise in under 24 hours.”
“Extenuating circumstances, consider your slate clean.” Joan looked at Jamie in seriousness. “Though if you’d shot him earlier than that I don’t think I would have been able to understand.”
“And there is where I get confused.” Jamie commented as the other woman turned her face back towards the road. “He was the same man when we met him as he was when I shot him in my room.”
“The difference is that before that we didn’t know everything about him.”
“Perhaps you did not, but your skills at deduction are yet underdeveloped. You’ll find that I was aware of his rather” She pursed her lips, “distasteful hobby earlier. I merely didn’t know that it would become a threat to either of us.”
“How could you possibly have known that?”
“The same way that I knew the moment I met you that you were a med student, interested in women, and disliked your job.”
“That’s not really an answer.”
“Fine. Shall I explain the things that give you away?” She sounded eager to show off.
“You know what? I don’t even want to know. Let’s just, I don’t know, talk about something that doesn’t creep me out until we get to the next town.”
“What would you suggest?” Came Jamie’s taunting reply, and Joan racked her brains, trying to come up with something, anything that wouldn’t add to her nightmares.
Unbidden, a memory flashed to the front of her mind of a smear of blue paint on Jamie’s wrist as she’d handed over her credit card at the bed and breakfast, the rolls of paper peeking out of her backpack. She’d looked like an art student on a backpacking trip, not like some genius assassin. Joan wanted to see that side of her again, but she couldn’t think why.“Okay. What kind of thing do you paint?” She was pleasantly surprised to see Jamie’s face break into a grin. The blonde woman smiled down at her hands, fingers twitching, anxious to be holding a paintbrush, perhaps? “Nothing worth mentioning, but it’s something I love to do. It –“ She paused, a light coming into her pale eyes. “It calms me. My job is taxing, on my mind, my body, on everything. So I copy the works of painters I love. Landscapes mostly. I have great love for Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh. The lighting and the detail that go into such wide shots is truly inspiring.” She looked at Joan, whose face had split into a wide grin listening to Jamie talk. Jamie halted, and focused on Joan. “Are you laughing at me?”“No. I’m fascinated. I know almost nothing about art, but you seem to have such passion for it that somehow it makes you seem like a completely different person than who I saw earlier today. Someone with so much passion for beauty is hard to equal with someone who can kill in cold blood.” Jamie’s pure smile changed into a smirk, dry, and twisting her face back into that of a killer.“Believe me Joan, I am very much the same woman, just as I am the same woman who shared your bed the night before last. If it is easier for you to think of my job as separate to me then by all means do so, but know that I do not separate the two. My job stems from who I am, and it is who I am. Now, if you don’t mind, I will attempt to get some more sleep.”“No, uh, okay.” Joan looked at Jamie quickly as the other woman turned away. She wasn’t sleeping, her face and open eyes were reflected in the window. Had Joan hurt her? How? She cursed herself for her clumsiness. Surely she could go one summer without estranging the people around her. Just one summer, otherwise it was going to be a lonely one, just like the ones before.
At some point along the wooded, winding, road, Joan’s weary body gave in to the urge to sleep, and she pulled over into a rest stop. There was little more than a picnic table in the gravel parking area, but nevertheless she climbed into the back of the car and curled up on the bench seat to fall asleep.
She woke up in a hotel bed, sunlight streaming across her face, the only remnant of the past 24 hours being the clothes she slept in, though her shoes had been placed thoughtfully at the end of the bed. She sat up, running a hand through knotted hair, and decided to hunt for a shower.
Once she’d showered she pulled on a shirt and a pair of jeans, wandering out into the next room in bare feet, wet hair dampening her clothes. Jamie was sitting on the overly ornate sofa, a towel over her legs, expertly cleaning her pistol with latex gloved hands. Joan stood there for a moment, watching the small curl that was trying to work its way out of Jamie’s carefully controlled bun, and then she cleared her throat.
“You drove us here?”
“Yes. I bought tapes too, as conversation seems to be difficult between us.”
“Thank you, I think.” Joan sat down on the couch opposite, and put her face in her hands, disbelieving the words that were about to exit her mouth, as much as she’d planned them in her long shower. She took a deep breath and then looked up at Moriarty.
“Will you teach me to do what you do? Study people?” Jamie put the pieces of her handgun down on the towel, and moved it to the coffee table.
“Are you sure?” She asked, as if she’d been expecting the question, and that steeled Joan’s resolve.
“Yes. If I’m being dragged down into this with you, I may as well learn where to expect trouble from.” Jamie smiled broadly.
“It would be my pleasure to teach you, Joan.”