The same shitty dance music was still playing when they arrived. This time, more people were gathered around the alley and it appeared as if several journalists were there as well. Miro, Philipp, and Thomas ignored them as they crossed under the line where Podolski—Lukas, as Thomas had greeted him—was keeping the others from crossing.
The three advanced to where Torsten was kneeling over their newest body and Miro frowned immediately. Long blonde hair, slender figure and smaller than a male would’ve been. This time it was a female. When he heard Thomas inhale sharply, he looked over with a raised eyebrow.
“What is it?”
“That’s Sarah Brandner; the waitress who saw the hoodie leaving the scene from the first time.” Thomas replied, voice lacking any sort of tone at all.
Miro recognized the girl once Thomas said that. After all, he hadn’t questioned her properly. Thomas had done that. Why was the waitress dead now? Did she recognize the killer?Miro and Philipp were looking over the crime scene as Torsten was relaying important information. Thomas watched the three of them work, too numb to be of much assistance.
Miro nodded to Phillip to continue looking for clues and he straightened from where he’d been looking at the wounds that Torsten had showed him. He moved to stand next to Thomas and rested a hand on the man’s shoulder.
“You couldn’t have done anything.” Miro spoke softly. “This isn’t your fault.”
“Is it the same guy?” Thomas asked, eyes blazing with vengeance as he stared at Miroslav.
“It’s too early to tell, but it’s possible.” Miro replied honestly, keeping eye contact. “We’ll have to wait for those results. Now, go help Philipp look for something that could be useful, okay?”
Thomas nodded slowly and slowly took a deep breath before going to help the other detective. Miro watched the both of them for a moment and would’ve gone back to asking Torsten more questions, but at that moment someone was busy causing a disruption by where Lukas was standing keeping the crowd back. Miro frowned as he looked over and saw that Lukas and another constable were holding back a gentleman, trying to get through.
He started over, holding up his hand when Thomas tried to follow him. He moved over to the police line and nodded once at Lukas and looked at the man.
“How may I help you, sir?” Miroslav asked, watching the man for his reactions.
“I’m looking for my girlfriend. She wasn’t at work. Is she—Can I—oh, please, tell me she’s okay?” He looked so imploringly at Miroslav that Miro felt a surge of sympathy for the man. Why does he assume it’s his girlfriend down here? What does he know?
“What’s your girlfriend’s name, son?” He asked, already fearing the answer.
“Sarah. Sarah Brandner.” He replied and rushed quickly through his next sentence. “My name is Bastian. Is she okay?”
Miroslav nodded to Lukas to let the man go, which he did after a moment and Miroslav let out a long breath. He considered just a moment of how much to tell the man. It took him only a moment before he decided against revealing too much so soon. There were other people that needed to be notified first. Such as the girl’s parents, for a start.
“Bastian, we’re going to want to ask you some questions. May I please get you to go with Mr. Podolski here?” Miro asked as nicely as he could. He noticed that Bastian was getting ready to protest. “I know that you have questions and we will be happy to answer them as soon as we can. At the office. If you please?”
Miro watched as the man paused before nodding. “All right. I’ll go, I just expect answers for answers.”
“And you’ll have them. I promise you,” Miro replied and gave him a reassuring look. “Thank you for your cooperation, sir.”
Bastian nodded and slowly went with Lukas to the police car. Miro watched them both get inside before he turned to go back to the alley.
After finding very little in the alley, Miro and Thomas decided to return to the office. Philipp had decided to stay behind and question a few of the witnesses. They had offered to stay also, but he had waved them off, citing an excuse to stay away from Ballack as much as possible.
In the car, Thomas looked at Miroslav and asked a question in an effort to distract himself from what happened and his undue guilt.
“Why does Philipp and Michael dislike one another?”
Miro smiled a little when he thought back to the reason. Thomas raised an eyebrow.
“It was a Christmas party that started it. They were both still in the academy, and I was a junior officer.” Miro started slightly, driving effortlessly through the streets of Munich back towards their building. “Michael thought he was going to be partnered with the best detective in our division at the time, Jogi. Instead, that pleasure went to Philipp. It was announced at the Christmas party.”
Thomas listened quietly and waited to see if there was more.
“They exchanged unpleasant words; well, Michael more or less did and Philipp was just trying to ignore him, I believe. Either way, they’ve disliked one another ever since. And when Joachim left our division for Berlin, they were partnered with one another because Michael’s partner retired around the same time also.”
Miroslav finished, words trailing away into the ether as if he hadn’t spoken at all. It was funny how he could do that, Thomas thought. He was such a quiet, humble man that it was amazing at how he could be so wonderful at this job. This ugly, horrible job that saw the true evil of people and see all the deeds that another person could do to another human being. All the foul, deceitful, awful things and yet Miro was still seemingly unchanged by it all. It was remarkable. Thomas admired him for that, and about a hundred other things as well.
“I don’t suppose they hate each other.” Miro spoke again, so quietly that Thomas wondered if Miro thought he was talking just to himself. “I think Michael just hates Philipp and Fips is waiting until the day he can get a new partner, or Michael gets that transfer he’s wanted for years.”
“Do you wish I was transferred?” Thomas asked himself. Only he hadn’t, he had spoken aloud. That was a little detail he noticed when Miroslav looked over at him once they’d stopped at a light.
“No, of course not.” Miro watched him, concern on his face.Why would you ask that? remained unsaid. I thought we talked about this, also remained silent.
Thomas shrugged. “Just thinking out loud, I suppose.”
“Well there’s no need to think that, Thomas.” Miro replied, unconsciously softening his tone on the use of Thomas’ name. Where he hadn’t noticed, Thomas certainly had. The thought made him smile inwardly. “As I said earlier, you’re young, but you are still capable of doing your duties in this job. That is all I ask for. Well, that and the willingness to learn, which you have shown that you want to do.”
“Of course I do! You’re the best!” Thomas replied, a little too eagerly. Since you’re at it, why don’t you just admit he was your hero in the academy as well? He cleared his throat a little and added in a more subdued tone, “I mean your statistics aren’t bad.”
Miro smiled a little at his enthusiasm and turned onto the final street on which their building was located. It was a stern reminder where they were going and what they were going for. Miro also remembered his promise earlier and he was debating it.
“Thomas?” Miro asked, pulling into the parking garage.
“I remember what I promised you earlier, about interviewing the next suspect…” Miro hesitated and was trying to find a way to phrase it gently, to avoid hurting his partner’s feelings.
“You want me to watch in the observation room, or go see if Torsten knows anything new?” Thomas asked. Miro was impressed. If there was annoyance or frustration at being overlooked for this particular conversation with a suspect, it didn’t reflect in Thomas’ tone at all.
“I will leave that decision to you.” Miro replied, parking the car.
Thomas opened the door and started to get out after Miroslav killed the engine. Miro extended his arm and rested his hand on Thomas’ arm. Despite the layers of fabric, Miro could still feel the very capable muscles there. It was nice.
“And Thomas?” Miro started, causing Thomas to look over in his direction. Thomas glanced first at where Miro’s hand was resting on his arm, then he dragged his blue-eyed gaze to meet Miro’s own. Miro waited until he had his full attention before continuing. “Thank you. I promise you the next time you will be in the room also.”
Thomas nodded slowly. “Of course, Sir.”
Miro retracted his hand, nodding, and climbed out of the vehicle also. He readjusted his tie while walking towards the elevator, mind already focused on speaking to Bastian. Thomas hit the call button and they waited, looking at one another.
“Once we confirm an address, we’ll be off to investigate the victim’s apartment.” Miro said. He spoke only to fill the silence that was between them. His voice carried over the empty concrete space and beyond, echoing in the almost-empty car park.
“So much for sleeping at home tonight, hmm?” Thomas replied with a slight smile. Miro nodded, though his expression revealed more of his exhaustion than he would’ve liked.
So much for breakfast with Luan and Noah.
The disappointment on his face was something Thomas didn’t understand, but nor did he speak to question it as they entered the elevator and Thomas hit the button for their floor.