Stiles’ hands are trembling slightly as he walks through the rows of headstones, clutching at the bouquets of flowers he’s holding. He had called ahead to find out where the graves are, so he doesn’t have to explore. It still seems to take a long time to walk through the cemetery until he finds them, two matching headstones standing next to each other.
He sets down the bouquets, one on each grave, and sits down between them. For a long minute, his throat is too tight to speak. Finally, he manages to say, “So . . . here I am. I’m sorry . . . it’s taken me so long to come visit. I guess it probably wouldn’t surprise you to hear that I was pretty fucked up by what happened.
“I’m still not sure what I think about an afterlife. Sometimes I would feel like you were still with me, watching me. I’m not sure if I want that to be true or not. I don’t know that you would approve of everything I’ve done. I still don’t really think I was wrong to do it, though. Sorry if that, uh, if that bothers you.”
He clears his throat and draws a sleeve over his eyes, wiping away the tears before they can fall. “Maybe you’re up in Heaven having a grand old time with each other, and you don’t know anything about it. Or maybe I’m just talking to myself. I don’t know . . .”
He sits in silence for a long time.
“I miss you guys so much,” he finally says. “And I look back at everything that happened and I hate a lot of it. I hate that I’m so fucked up and that I cry a lot and that I worry about how disappointed in me you would be. But I also . . . I love Peter, too, and I know that I’ve saved lives and I have good things, really good things, in my life now that I might not have had otherwise. Like Derek, because he’s so amazing and I really like him, and I know that I never would have understood him the way I do if I hadn’t . . .”
His voice trails off and he clears his throat again.
“Life is weird, I guess. Like Peter said way back then. The universe is random and arbitary, but that means that even though it’s cruel, sometimes it’s kind. I always thought that the universe was super unfair and unjust, and maybe it is, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make it be more just. Does that make sense? I think it does. Hope it does. I’m going to keep trying, either way. Trying to help people and save lives and spread justice around. I’ll have to do it differently, that’s all. But I’ll come tell you about it. I won’t stay away for so long again, I promise.”
After a long moment, he stands up. He fishes a tissue out of his pocket and wipes away more tears, then blows his nose. “I’ll see you guys later,” he says, and heads for the cemetery’s exit.
As he’s getting in the car, his phone rings. He glances at the screen and then picks up. “Hello?”
“Hey, Stiles, it’s Scott,” the familiar voice says. “Have you got plans today? I thought we might go grab lunch. Ruby’s Diner is still open and I know you loved their milkshakes.”
Stiles manages a smile. “Yeah, sure. You want to talk about setting up the system to police the hunters?”
There’s a moment of hesitation. “I mean, we can if you want,” Scott says, “but I really meant more to just, you know, hang out. You can tell me about you and Derek, and I’ll tell you about how I met Allison, and if you aren’t up to date on the Marvel Cinematic Universe you absolutely should be, plus I need to hear your opinion of my zombie apocalypse plan.”
The smile on Stiles’ face grows more genuine. “Yeah, that, okay, that sounds cool,” he says. “I’ll meet you in a half hour?”
“Sure. I’ll see you then.”
Stiles hangs up and then texts Peter to say he’s going out to lunch with Scott. Peter texts back, ‘have fun’, and then, because it’s ingrained in both of them, ‘be careful’.
‘I always am,’ Stiles replies, as he always does, always is, and always will be.
~ ~ ~ ~
It’s a gorgeous day out on the Preserve, so although Peter has to take it slowly, he doesn’t mind. It’s warm and breezy, and he’s enjoying it. It’s been a long time since he’s been able to just go on a hike, without worrying overmuch about looking over his shoulder.
Laura and Derek have planted a willow tree on the site of the Hale house, and it’s reached an impressive size in only a few years. Peter traces his hand over the bark and looks down at the little plaque that’s underneath it. All the names of the people lost in the fire. Someone has even added ‘B. Hale’, which makes tears prick at his eyes.
He sits down underneath the tree and enjoys the warm breeze for a few moments. “What would you think of Stiles, I wonder,” he murmurs to himself, but then smiles. “God, you would have loved him. So clever and snarky, but so compassionate and righteous, in a way that I never was and never will be.
“Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if you had lived. If we had gotten an apartment, and you hadn’t been there that night. I still would have been devastated by the fire, but . . . maybe you and I would have adopted Stiles together. Raised him alongside our own child. Would you have been okay with our killing spree? I honestly don’t know. Maybe that’s the sort of thing you can never know about someone until it comes up.”
He sighs quietly.
“It’s so strange to be back here. I didn’t figure I’d ever come back, at least not for more than a few days at a time. To be settling in, like I belong here . . . it feels odd, but right. I always loved this land. And protecting it, protecting the pack . . . that’s what I’m meant to do. What I should have been doing, perhaps . . . but maybe not. Would we have ever found out Kate was still alive that way? I don’t know.
“Life is funny like that, isn’t it. So full of twists and turns, butterfly effects. I’ll probably never be fully at peace with having lost you, but I can admit that it led me to a good place. I think I’m going to be okay, my love . . . maybe not today or tomorrow, but someday.”
His phone chimes, and he glances down at it to see a text from Stiles, saying, ‘Going out to lunch with Scott. Will be home in a few hours.’
‘Have fun,’ Peter texts back, then because it’s a compulsion, adds, ‘Be careful.’
‘I always am,’ Stiles replies, which is true, and Peter knows it. Stiles had always taken his warnings about being on guard to heart. He’s glad that Stiles is reconnecting with his old friends as well as making new ones. Personally, he had never had many friends. Pack had always been enough for him; he had never needed more.
Which reminds him that he wants to talk to Laura about a good perimeter security system. The fact that she doesn’t already have one set up makes him squirm. He hauls himself to his feet, running his hand along the plaque. “I’ll see you later, darling,” he says, before he turns and heads back to the den.
~ ~ ~ ~
Gerard Argent Convicted
Gerard Argent has been convicted of first degree murder in the case of Denise LaMonde. In a twisted case that fascinated the media, Argent murdered the young mother in an attempt to fake the death of his own daughter after she killed eleven people and was shot by police. Denise LaMonde was abducted from her hometown and killed to be used as a body double for Kate Argent.
Argent was also convicted on a variety of lesser charges stemming from the incident, including fraud, bribery, and evidence tampering.
He was sentenced to twenty years to life in a state penitentiary. His lawyers pleaded for clemency due to the fact that he is undergoing treatment for esophageal cancer. However, this was denied.
“I’m sure that Ms. LaMonde would have pleaded for her life, if you had allowed her the chance,” Judge Felicia Iverson said during the sentencing. “You showed her no mercy, so I see no reason the court should show you any.”
Defense attorneys are expected to appeal the sentence.
~ ~ ~ ~
You’ll Never Believe This …
Posted 1 day ago by blackdahlia
I need you guys to tell me whether or not you think this is a huge coincidence, because I’m wondering if I’m losing my marbles.
Seven years ago, my sister was killed. She disappeared from the parking lot of the mall she worked at and was missing several days before her body was found. There were never any firm suspects; the police questioned some people she knew but never got any leads.
Three years ago, I posted a story about it with my sister’s name and some news articles to the request forum here. I never really thought OK would respond, but if he did . . . I was less interested in the guy who killed my sister being killed and more interested in finally knowing who it was. But nothing came of it, obviously. As far as I know, OK never responded to any of the requests that we posted here.
I moved on with my life as well as I could. Then a month ago, I got an e-mail from a guy who said he was a private investigator and was working on cold cases in my area, and wanted to know if I could answer a few questions he had about my sister. He gave me his name and his website. I Googled him, too, and he had a Yelp page with pretty good reviews. So I said sure.
The questions he asked were weird. I mean, he asked some normal ones, too, like to confirm some of the stuff that was in the news articles. But he also asked a) was my sister right-handed or left-handed, b) did she have a dog, and if so, what kind of dog was it, c) would it have been out of character for her to loan someone her phone, and d) did the apartment building she lived at have an elevator. Just seriously, the most random questions. But I answered all of them (right, no, no, and yes, in case you’re curious). He said he was working on it and he’d be in touch.
Then a week ago, the police called me and said they’d made an arrest. There was a guy who lived in my sister’s apartment building that they’d questioned once before but never been able to get any solid evidence on. They wouldn’t tell me why they’d suddenly arrested him at first, but later I found out the guy’s friend had a dog, a husky, whose hair had been found on my sister’s clothes. They’d identified it as dog hair years ago, but none of the suspects had dogs. This guy had been dog-sitting for a friend the week he killed my sister.
Naturally, I asked how they’d figured that out, and they said they’d gotten an anonymous tip. I e-mailed the PI to ask if that had been him . . . and the e-mail bounced back. Website was gone. Yelp page was gone.
So . . . what the fuck?
I have no doubt that the guy I e-mailed with is the one who tipped off the cops. But was it the Obituary Killer? If so, why did he suddenly switch from murder to getting people arrested? And if not, if it was just someone who was going through cases on the forum, why erase his e-mail and stuff afterwards?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m massively grateful for what’s happened. My sister’s killer is going to face justice, and I can stop wondering who it is. But the whole situation is just so bizarre. I don’t know what to think.
the-isdal-woman: I can’t imagine that OK would switch tactics like that. Whoever it is probably had some personal interest in your sister’s case . . . maybe he or she also lost a sister? And then they erased their website and everything afterwards because they must have broken a ton of laws to figure out the guy did it. They probably hacked his e-mail or something to find out that he’d been dog-sitting. Once the police got the tip, they could get a warrant and find all that shit the legal way.
Tamam_shud: OMG. I think the same guy e-mailed me a couple months ago. It struck me as a huge coincidence at the time but I didn’t think to post it here. Same story – he said he was a PI. I didn’t bother to look him on up Yelp or anything because to be honest I’d have answered questions from a talking hot dog if it said it might be able to solve my son’s disappearance.
He wanted to know a) if my son owned more than one pair of shoes, b) had he been in a fender bender recently, c) what his alcohol tolerance was like if I happened to know it, d) did he have a passport, and e) did he always carry his Epi-Pen with him for his peanut allergy? (Yes, at least three, yes, he swerved to avoid a squirrel and clipped a tree, terrible, two drinks and he’d be wasted, no, and yes.)
Not two days later, the police called and said they had three people in custody. It’s still really hard to talk about, but let me just say that the question about the peanut allergy turned out to be on point, and they found his body in the freezer at one of his classmates’ houses.
I e-mailed the “PI” to thank him a hundred times because I just assumed that he was the one who had tipped off the police. I asked if we could meet in person, but he never replied. I thought that was a little weird, but figured maybe he was shy or, like the-isdal-woman said above, that he had broken the law in his investigation and wanted to remain anonymous.
Le-prince-was-first: So someone is going through the old forum requests and just vigilante-solving them? That’s awesome.
MVJoyita: I wouldn’t call it awesome per se. Do you want this guy hacking your cell phone and breaking into your garage to see if there’s a body in your freezer?
Le-prince-was-first: I’ve got no bodies in my freezer, so I really don’t give a damn.
the-isdal-woman: MVJoyita, where on the internet do you think you are? We dedicated an entire forum asking this guy to come kill the people who murdered our loved ones. Do you really think we’re going to break a sweat at the fact that he might be hacking a few phones and computers along the way?
blackdahlia: Truer words! He can hack any phones he wants, in my opinion. But do we really think the PI is really the Obituary Killer?
Le-prince-was-first: Stranger things have happened. I mean, it’s worth pointing out that there hasn’t been an OK victim in over a year, and he was dropping bodies every three-four months before. Something happened to him. I mean, he might have just taken a breather, if he thought the police were getting too close or whatever. Time will tell. But don’t forget, whoever OK was, he was solving these crimes before. How else would he have known who to kill? It’s definitely not out of the bounds of reason to think he might be the mysterious PI.
Ladypearl: Is it weird to say I kind of hope it’s him? I mean, all the murder and stuff put him at pretty high risk. Now he can continue his work taking criminals off the street, and probably do it for a lot longer.
the-isdal-woman: I still think it’s just a rando who likes to solve cold cases and is good with computers. It’s a neat theory, though, especially given OK’s recent quiescence.
~ ~ ~ ~
The piercing squeal of a baby fills the house, and everyone sitting in the rec room looks up and then bursts into cheers. It’s not that they expected any difficulty with the birth of Laura’s child, but the news that everything is going okay is still certainly welcome. Werewolves always give birth at home – hospital staff have trouble dealing with a screaming werewolf for whom the normal pain meds do nothing – but Laura had hired a midwife experienced with werewolf births.
Several minutes later, Jordan bursts into the rec room, grinning widely. “It’s a girl!” he announces, to more cheers. They had elected not to know the sex ahead of time.
“When can we see her?” Derek asks, trying not to betray how excited he is.
“Just a few minutes. They’re getting everything cleaned up right now.” Jordan is still grinning, like he just can’t stop.
The few minutes feel like an eternity to Derek, but finally, he and Peter are ushered in to meet their niece and grand-niece respectively. “Oh my God look at that wrinkly little peanut,” Jordan whispers, in a voice that is already halfway to besotted.
Derek looks over his sister, clearly exhausted but still smiling, and his beaming brother-in-law who’s holding her hand. The baby is cradled against her chest, perfect eyes closed. Peter reaches out, running his fingers along the soft down of her hair, and then has to pull away so he can wipe tears away from his eyes.
“What’s her name?” Derek asks.
Laura looks up at him and her smile turns a little sad. “You know, we thought about naming her Talia or Olivia to honor the people who are gone, but . . . I don’t want to be sad every time I look at my baby. She’s a new beginning. So we’re naming her Aurora.”
“That’s a beautiful name,” Peter says, his voice still a little choked up.
“Thank you, Uncle Peter,” Laura says.
Derek curls a hand around Peter’s forearm and gives it a reassuring squeeze. “We’ll leave you guys alone to get some rest,” he says. He leans down to kiss Laura on the forehead, then the baby. Then he leaves, gently pulling Peter along with him.
“Hey, how is she? What’s her name? Is she adorable? I bet she’s adorable,” Stiles greets them, with the rest of the pack clamoring for news as well.
“She is adorable, she’s healthy and so is Laura, and her name is Aurora,” Derek says, and everyone in the pack coos. Stiles gives Peter a quick hug, seeing that he’s a little out of sorts, and Peter manages a smile. Derek sits down on the sofa and pulls Stiles into his lap, cuddling him close as he listens to the noise of the pack. For the first time in a long time, he feels like everything’s going to be okay.
~ ~ ~ ~
Whatever Happened to the Obituary Killer?
The strangest thing about the Obituary Killer isn’t that he’s dropped off the radar. It’s actually quite common for serial killers to have periods of dormancy that last years or even decades. Of course, most serial killers are driven by a compulsion to kill, whereas OK seemed to have entirely different motives. Still, it’s entirely possible that he’s simply gone quiet for now, and is biding his time, waiting.
But I don’t think he is. I think he’s dead.
The strangest thing about the Obituary Killer isn’t the fact that his victims are connected. It’s in little, coincidental ways. Paul Banner once loaned Mitch Kelly ten grand to pay off his truck. Howard Bell and Sam Stearns both attended a weapons convention in Chicago. Miranda Groves once lived with Greg McManus for about six months. Sam Stearns and Chuck Gonzales did a short stint in Folsom together back in the nineties, Stearns on an assault charge and Gonzales on a weapons charge.
Just little, coincidental connections. We could write off one or two, but looking between the Obituary Killer’s fourteen known victims – and I actually think there are more, but I’ll get to that in a bit – you can find dozens of them.
But that isn’t the strangest thing.
The strangest thing is that the OK’s victims’ victims are connected.
Darla Waltz and Carolyn Simpson were college roommates. Ryan Cohen and Jamie Garcia were business partners for a few years in the early aughts. Toby Miller dated Susan Mendehlsson a few years prior to their deaths. Hannah Sorrento and Elias Chambers both took their families to the same seaside resort the same week every summer.
Again, little, coincidental connections that would be easy to write off if there were only a few, but there are dozens. Every single one of the victims can be linked to at least two of the others.
An entire network of killers was targeting a specific group of victims. But how? Why?
The OK’s victims’ victims were a diverse group. Men, women, children. Ethnicities that ranged the full spectrum. The youngest was a toddler; the oldest eighty-three. They lived everywhere from California to Maine. Other than these odd connections, the group as a whole seemed to have no common factor.
Their killers, however, were a much more homogenous group. OK has fourteen confirmed kills, and in a moment I’m going to tell you about the eleven others I believe he killed. Of these, all but two were men, all but one was white, and they were predominately aged thirty to fifty.
These people belonged to a very specific, exclusive club who liked to hang out, go to weapons conventions, and kill people belonging to another very specific, but far more inclusive, club.
And I think they finally saw OK coming.
Here’s the thing – there are two other gaps in OK’s schedule, odd periods where he went five or six months without a confirmed kill. I think I know what happened during those two gaps, and for that, we need to go to Lowell, Massachusetts and Marcell, Minnesota.
During the first gap, five men were killed in Lowell. One was killed in his house, Daniel Helms. His throat was slit. But the scene had none of the other hallmarks of the Obituary Killer. The first, most obviously, is that there was no obituary or news article connecting him to another murder. He also wasn’t tied up as OK’s victims typically are. Then there were four more bodies in the alley, friends of Helms’, who apparently discovered his murderer in the act and gave chase.
Daniel Helms went to college with Mitch Kelly. His “friends” who were killed – one of whom lived as far away as Burlington, Vermont – also had connections within the network.
During the second gap, six bodies were found in the forest near a cabin in Marcell, Minnesota. The cabin belonged to Levi Murray, and he was one of those bodies. The scene has no resemblance to any of the OK’s other kills. They were killed in the forest, many of them by a grenade that went off. The police thought their deaths were an accident – that somehow they accidentally set off said grenade by themselves. But I’m not so sure.
Levi Murray went to the same weapons convention as Sam Stearns and Howard Bell. He once bailed Miranda Groves out of jail.
So what happened?
This network of murderers cannot have been unaware that OK was targeting them. As time went on, they became more and more prepared for him to show up. It was inevitable that they would catch him eventually.
The more hopeful among us might say that OK knew that. That he’s decided to lay low for a while, after a few close calls. And maybe those people are right. But if he didn’t stop after what happened in Marcell – and he has at least one confirmed kill after that – I can’t see why he would stop at all, until someone stopped him.
Time might eventually prove me wrong. But as the days go by and the Obituary Killer’s quiescence continues, I believe more and more that he’s been killed.
As for this mysterious network of killers, I doubt they’ve learned their lesson. But with so many connections exposed, they’re in a precarious place. Sooner rather than later, their network is going to come tumbling down, and although he might be dead, the Obituary Killer’s work will be complete.
~ ~ ~ ~
Derek leans over and presses a kiss into Stiles’ neck. “What are you reading?”
“An article about me, like the narcissist I am,” Stiles says, half-turning so he can smile up at Derek. “People are debating the fact that the Obituary Killer hasn’t killed anyone for over a year now. A lot of people think he’s dead.”
“That’s good for you, isn’t it?”
“Yeah. Although we’ll see how this case I’m working on with Scott shapes up. That dude up in Wisconsin just won’t fucking take the hint. We finally got him arrested on solid evidence and he extorted his way out of it. He may be the first official execution under the new system. Scott doesn’t want to do it, but . . . if he tries anything, his ass is grass.”
Derek nods, nuzzling into the crook of Stiles’ shoulder. “I hope you don’t have to.”
“Me too, though mostly for Scott’s sake. And a little bit for Chris’. God, he was so insulted by the hit man they sent after him. Like, not because they tried to kill him, but because that dude sucked. Chris could have caught him while blindfolded.”
With a snort of laughter, Derek says, “Yeah, let’s make sure to focus on the important things.”
“Which reminds me . . .” Stiles picks up his notebook, glances through the pages, and says, “That brings my arrest tally up to nineteen. Not bad.”
“Nineteen in a year is damned good, considering it took you five years to kill fourteen.”
“True, but hunting hunters was a lot harder than some of these random asswipes that I’m finding through the OK Request forum.” Stiles shrugs. “I’m enjoying it, so it’s all good, I guess. It keeps me from going nuts while trying to rein in these asshole hunters who are so pissed that they can’t just do whatever the fuck they want anymore.” He yawns and stretches. “Ugh, I need a break. Wanna go out for a bit? Go for a hike, have a picnic, have sex in the woods?”
Derek laughs and presses another kiss into Stiles’ neck. “Sounds good to me.”
~ ~ ~ ~
Peter watches Stiles and Derek leave the house from his little attic window. Stiles knows he’s watching; he turns and gives a little wave as they get into the Camaro. He’s smiling, and that makes Peter smile, too.
He heads downstairs and finds Laura in the kitchen, Aurora swaddled against her chest while she makes herself a cup of tea. He picks up an apple and drops a kiss onto the baby’s head as he goes by, then sits down on the front stairs and pulls on his boots.
“Going out?” Laura asks.
“Just a quick patrol. Nothing to worry about.”
“Okay. Do you want some tea?”
“Yes, please, some Earl Grey would be nice. Leave it on the hot plate; I’ll be back in less than an hour.” He ties his boots and leaves the house, heading into the forest. He walks the perimeter at least three times a day, just checking for danger. There’s always work to be done.