As the ambulance pulled away, carrying a barely conscious Blair Sandburg to Cascade General, Simon stared almost blindly around him, too dazed at what had just happened to speak.
This was a crime scene, and a serious one at that. Attempted murder was almost as bad as it gets. Or should it, in fact, be murder? After all, Sandburg had been dead when they found him.
‘Do you hear a heartbeat? Jim?’
No pulse, no heartbeat, hell, even the EMT’s had given up. Simon didn’t know much about Jim’s sentinel abilities, and there were days – a lot of them – when he wished he knew even less, but Jim had brought the kid back. That much he knew for sure.
But then a Sentinel had killed him, so maybe that was as it should be. Then he shook himself in disgust – none of this was ‘as it should be’.
Three years of watching Jim and Blair’s friendship blossom into something concrete, rock-solid so he thought, but it had all fallen apart in a matter of days, and he’d just stood idly by and watched it happen. They all had.
Barnes shouldn’t have been able to kill Sandburg, shouldn’t have been able to get within fifty feet of the kid, not once they’d realized who she was.
What she was.
The police were supposed to protect their own, but they’d really dropped the ball on this one.
He drew a breath, wiping his eyes with shaking fingers. Fingers that still ached from the chest compressions.
‘All right, here we go.’
He could still feel the soaked fabric beneath his hands; the way the body had moved with each compression – no resistance, no sign that there was anything in there left to save.
He’d never performed CPR on a friend before, hadn’t known how hard to press, afraid of breaking Blair’s ribs – or worse – of puncturing a lung and causing Sandburg to drown in his own blood. But by then the kid had already drowned, and even CPR hadn’t been able to save him.
Damn it, he didn’t have time for this. He was the senior officer here, he’d be the primary at the scene and there were things that needed to be done. Forensics had to be called, the area needed to be sealed off, and someone had to tell them to shut the damn water off before any evidence in the fountain got washed away.
It was a beautiful day.
The thought crept under his defenses, unbidden, but landing with a force that should by rights have knocked him off his feet.
It was a beautiful day. Clear, sunny, warm even, and the Rainer campus had always been impressive. The trickling melody of the water cascading around them was meant to calm, to soothe and refresh the students but now the very sound of it just made him feel sick.
It shouldn’t have been sunny. There should have been thunder, and lightning, earthquakes even, because this whole mess was unnatural, and it wasn’t right that Blair had died and the world not even acknowledge it.
And yet, as he looked around once more at the sun and the lush grass, he realized that there was nothing. Crime scenes were meant to have blood, or bodies, destruction of some kind, but there was nothing here to suggest that anything bad had ever happened at all.
The water was clear, the grass barely trampled, and the only sign that they weren’t just out for a stroll on the grounds was the water soaked into his clothes from the knees down, like a child splashing in puddles after the spring rain.
“Captain?” Megan’s voice, distant though it was, startled him, and he spun round as she touched his shoulder, the warmth of her hand grounding him somehow, a reassurance that it was over, that Blair wasn’t dead anymore, that Jim was by his side again and something good could still be salvaged from this mess.
He managed a sickly smile that she matched with one of her own, but it didn’t reach eyes that were as red and misty as his own still felt.
The others were still stood where they’d been when the ambulance left, varying expressions of shock and relief on their faces. Brown was still staring numbly at the spot on the ground where Blair had lain, and Simon wondered if the man could still see Blair’s lifeless body in his mind when he closed his eyes.
He shivered, suddenly cold, consciously taking refuge in his responsibilities before walking over to Brown and gently touching his shoulder. He could fall apart later, when he was alone. When they knew Sandburg was really going to be okay.
“H?” Brown slowly met his gaze, shock evident on the man’s features. “We have to secure the area. Will you call Forensics?”
Brown nodded, heading away to the car without a word, and Simon watched as Megan walked over to the few bystanders that were still there, asking if anyone had seen anything, even though he knew they wouldn’t. There’d been no-one around when they’d arrived, no-one to see Blair lying in the water until Jim had turned around on the steps, though quite why Jim had suddenly stopped in his frantic dash towards Sandburg’s office Simon didn’t know.
There was nothing here, and Simon wondered what Jim would be able to see if he were still here. Had Blair left something of himself in the fountain? Something mixed with the water, or in the grass? Was there something here that could tell them exactly what had happened? What she’d done to him?
“Captain?” H walked back over, cell still in his hand. “Are we sure that this was Barnes’ doing? No-one saw what happened – what if this was just an accident?”
Simon shook his head. H was right, they had no evidence that this was anything more than an accident. Sandburg could have simply fallen and hit his head, or this could have been a random mugging. Any of those explanations, in fact, were more plausible than the idea that a woman on the run had come after him simply because he knew who she was. After all, they all knew she had been involved in the theft, and none of them had seen the inside of a fountain. Surely Blair hadn’t been that much of a threat to her?
And yet he was sure, because Jim was sure. Had been so sure, in fact, that he’d mobilized half the department in their mad dash to Rainer, in spite of the fact that the only thing he’d had to go on was Sentinel intuition. There was no actual evidence that she’d even given Sandburg a second thought since stealing the nerve gas, and yet Simon knew.
After all, there was no physical evidence that a crime had been committed here, either.
But that didn’t stop it from being a crime scene.