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The Impossibility of Innocence

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Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.  You've got a rhythm now.  Back and forth, back and forth, swaying like a maniac.  You might as well be in a straight jacket, you think.  Perhaps if you were somebody would care enough to help you.  Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth...you have too much time.  Too many hours of thinking, surrounded by a thick fog of your own poisonous thoughts.  

You're choking on your own pain, your own memories...memories.  Not of your family - you don't permit your thoughts to wander like that.  You're a detective. You're in the middle of a case.  You should be thankful for the distraction from the chaos that seems to run in your bloodline.  

 

It hurts to think that way.  Don't think about him.  Instead, you think of the crime scene.  It's easier to stomach.  You think of the body...and you immediately change your mind.  Perhaps thinking of your mother, your father, your...no, think of the body instead.  Maybe you're equally uncomfortable thinking about both.  

The body...it was disgusting.  Repulsive enough to make you stagger out of the room and vomit in the stairwell.  Disgusting.  It's something you can't say aloud; it's disrespectful to the victim.  But honestly, how else could you possibly describe it?  You've never seen so much of a human's internal workings spread out all over the floor before.

 

Stop thinking.  It's done.  You're off the hook.  You've been given a break from the case, given the least possible to do because of...personal reasons.  Awful things.  You don't let your mind dwell on it for longer than a second.

 

There's very little you can say as a detective that grants you sympathy.  A tragedy in your close family usually doesn't cut it, but for a well-liked and respected professional like yourself...somehow, they'd found enough humanity in their hearts to give you a break.  Your skills are still required, but only for the difficult bits.  Examining the crime scene, for example, is too critical to the investigation, and you've always had a knack for finding a clue in places many would overlook entirely.  

This time, you'd been distracted by your own problems.  It hadn't distracted you enough to stop you from finding a tattered wallet down the back of the victim's sofa cushions, at least - that was the vital piece of evidence that had led to the arrest of the killer.  The wallet was scanned for fingerprints, all the cards inside were found to be genuine.  

The only thing that unsettled you about that wallet was the tiny, crumpled photo hidden in between two coins.  A photo that, despite its size, had been folded and unfolded so many times there was a line down the middle where the colour had faded entirely, a bump that could never be smoothed down again.  Because of that line, the person in the photo remained anonymous.  A lover, perhaps.  A friend.

 

It upset you to think that the killer had someone so important to them.  That the killer had feelings.  This man was known infamously to be an elusive, sly, dangerous criminal, a sick and twisted bastard that relied entirely on drug-induced rampages to unleash his anger.  The police department had been desperate to nail him for something - he always wriggled his way out of the courts, always pulling the strings that led to his release, and when you mentioned his name in relation to the case, people had cheered.  

Ren would finally be put behind bars, assuming the judge and the jury were as desperate to have him locked away as the officers were.  They had cheered for the murder of an innocent man, just so they could cross that name off the top of their list of wanted criminals.  When you saw the smiles on the faces of the very same detectives who were with you when you first saw the body, you stormed away, hid in the bathroom, and cried yourself out.

Nobody followed you, nobody had asked, because nobody cared.

You bring out the case files.  In massive letters at the top, someone had written a brief summary of your report.  KYLO REN KILLED JAY SMITHE WITH A KITCHEN KNIFE - 2ND JANUARY, 23:55.  MOTIVE UNCLEAR.  That wasn't quite how you'd put it; there were many possibilities of motive, but none of them really stuck.  

Drug deal gone wrong?  There were no traces of drugs anywhere near the crime scene.  

Debt to be repaid?  No possessions were taken from the apartment, as far as you could see.  

Some kind of hitman assignment?  It didn't seem right, considering Ren had no previous violent convictions. 

In order for Kylo Ren's wallet to have ended up down the side of the sofa, he had to have sat down, implying that he was there for a period of time and most likely relaxed.  Either that, or it was planted there.  You had outlined the importance of this hypothesis in your report, but it had been skimmed over.  Everyone wanted him to be guilty so that he would finally be off the streets.  You had very little to work with, and so it seemed like this time Kylo Ren would feel the full force of the law regardless of how well you conducted the investigation.

You stand from the sofa - the rocking was making your back ache now.  

Your apartment is dark, dismal, minimalist.  White walls, grey floors, white sofas, one wall made entirely of glass.  You can see over the whole city from your living room if you stand there, but you try not to.  If you squint hard enough, you can see the building where Jay Smithe was cut open.  If you look a little to the left, you'll see the casino you vowed never to set foot in again.  

If there was a source of evil in the city, it was that damned casino.  Run by rich, corrupt businessmen, the leaders of the crime industry; the First Order.  How they planned to create order with violence, you weren't sure.  But you weren't a part of their plan, and so you stayed out of their way.

 

In the kitchen, you find a mug - grey, of course - and fill it with water.  You drink, but you're not thirsty.  Your eyes drift slowly to the crate above the fridge, then to the clock.  12pm.  It's too early to start drinking.  You don't have a problem.  No matter what the others say, you don't have a problem.

When your phone rings, a shrill whistling tune that sounded at first like a child's song, you gasp and feel the mug slip from your fingertips.  It hits the ground, shatters - what is wrong with me today? - and you hop away before the water can soak into your socks.  You'll clean it later...well, no, you won't.  You'll dance around the broken shards for as long as you can until one day you'll forget and need to make a hasty trip to A&E.  You know yourself well enough at this point.  Living alone for three years has taught you that.

Picking up your phone, you sigh, silencing that irritating ringtone before you look at the number on the screen.  It's not one you know.  You don't care - if it's a tip, you'll take it.  If it's a threat, who cares?  You put the call on speaker and hold your phone in front of you lazily, staring at the TV, which has long since been muted.  

"Detective (L/N), how may I be of assistance?"

"Good afternoon, detective.  I hope I'm not interrupting your time off.  My name is Rana Li, I'm-"

"Kylo Ren's lawyer," you finish for her, rudely, and she's taken aback.  You have respect for this woman, you have to admit - not many lawyers could convince the legal system to grant someone like Kylo Ren bail.  Of course, she doesn't know you respect her.  She clears her throat, put off by your lack of manners.  You're not here to make friends, you suppose, you're here to solve crimes.  Miss Li will need to accept that pretty fast if she wants a conversation with you.  "I'm not sure you're aware, Miss Li, but I'm not the lead detective of this case.  Detective Jonas is.  I can give you his number."

"No, that won't be necessary, thank you.  I'd like to speak with you."

 

Now it's your turn to be taken aback.  You bite your lip, running your hand through your hair, and sighing.  "Very well.  How can I help?"

"I read your report this morning.  It's clear you've been in the game longer than the other detectives," she sayss, admiration almost creeping into her voice. Honestly, it does nothing to lift your spirits, and so you wait for her to continue.  "You're the only one I've seen so far who's willing to believe my client may be innocent."

"I'm not surprised.  Ren's been evading us for so long, it's refreshing to have solid evidence.  Most want him in prison, or on death row."

"But not you.  What do you want?" she asks.  You don't know how to answer.  

"I...need to remain unbiased, Miss Li."

"Hm.  Do you think he's guilty?" she asks with that same chipper, upbeat voice, and you sigh.  

"You said you'd read my report.  It should be clear from that," you mumble, avoiding the question slightly, and Li laughs quietly.

"Well...I'd like to believe you'll give my client the benefit of the doubt.  That's why I'm not going to Detective Jonas.  He wants Kylo Ren dead by Monday.  I want the real killer to suffer the punishment, not Kylo Ren."

"You believe he's innocent," you deduct.  You can, bizarrely, hear Li nodding over the phone.

"I do," she says, unwavering.  "And I think you are the only person who can change the minds of those other detectives.  I want you to meet with my client and conduct an interview."

 

You freeze, then relax back into your sofa and laugh.  "I'm not a part of this investigation, Miss Li.  Not to that extent.  Detective-"

"I don't give a damn about the other detectives.  They don't care about him.  Please," she begs, "just listen to him.  He deserves a fair trial, and the odds are stacked against him.  These officers are mad at him for showing them up so many times.  They could have intervened to have him put away, wanting some kind of revenge. Kylo Ren has one drug offence on his record, detective; one.  That's it.  Nothing violent," she sighs heavily.  "And I don't think he's capable of doing something like this."

"Kylo Ren has been playing this game for a long time, Miss Li.  He's learned the rules.  He knows how to lie.  Unless he has some groundbreaking evidence, I can't intervene," you say dismissively, propping your legs up on the coffee table.  

"I understand that, detective."  Her voice is suddenly small, sad...you bite your lip.  "I had a lengthy consultation with my client today, and he gave me an alibi that fits.  You're the professional, and I can't do anything with that alibi.  You can."

"He has ties with the First Order.  He's not to be trusted."

"Those ties are almost non-existent now.  Please, listen to me.  I've heard his story.  I want you to meet with Kylo Ren and see for yourself whether or not you believe him.  This Thursday, nine o'clock, at the station."

"Fine," you hiss, "but this is a one-off.  I'm not-"

"...meant to be working on this case, I know," she interrupts you.  "I'm sorry to bring you into all this.  They told me about...what happened.  It's...tragic, that's for sure.  Losing a family member is difficult, especially in such an awful way," she says bravely, and your jaw drops at her audacity.  "How are you holding up?"

 

You grind your teeth together, furious.  "I'm holding up fine.  Goodnight, Miss Li."

"...good-"

 

You hang up and toss your phone aside.  You're not paying much attention when you hurry through to the kitchen, narrowly avoiding the shards of ceramic on the floor, and fix yourself a drink.  It's only when you've downed the first one and you're in the process of drinking the second that you realise it's still 12pm.  Fuck it, you think, finishing the second drink and standing in your kitchen.  If this entire investigation is down to me, I'm not doing it sober.