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The Puppeteer

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The room was deathly silent, emotions running high as a young woman handed the bailiff a folded slip of paper. The writing inside was simple enough, but easily held the power to end somebody's existence as soon as it was uttered. The paper traveled into the hands of the judge, her pale blue eyes gazing upon the word through her thick rimmed glasses.

"On the charge of murder in the first degree, how do you find the defendant?" She asked, her eyes trailing up to look at the man responsible for such atrocities.

"We, the jury, find the defendant Andrew Seipteach, guilty of murder in the first degree." A young woman robotically announced to the court, an eruption of relieved murmurs and happy tears following afterward.

"Is this your true verdict, say you one and all?"

Fifteen distinct voices agreed with a single word, the defense attorney sighing in defeat as he glanced at the faces of the family members that were here to represent their lost loved ones. But Andrew didn't seem phased in the slightest. In fact, his expression was disturbingly calm for someone that had just recieved a guilty verdict. The judge nodded, banging her gavel against the wooden block to signify that the verdict had been understood. The sentencing part of the trial wouldn't be until the next morning, but everyone already knew that this son of a bitch was at least looking at one count of life without parole. The court was adjourned shortly after the verdict was read, with the defendant already on his way back to Madison county penitentiary in an armored vehicle.

Two years of hunting down this psychopath had come to a close, and the public could rest easy knowing that the worst serial killer known to Union City was finally where he belonged. The dedicated men and women of the Union City Police Department had a lot to celebrate about, especially for the detective that nailed the bastard in the first place. He was there when the verdict was read, breathing a sigh of relief when the jury didn't buy his bullshit defence of mental defect. Nobody kills thirty people the way he did just because he had a shitty home life. These killings were brutal and gruesome, left for the public to find in the most open of areas. But those poor people could rest in peace now that their killer was locked away in a dirty cell for the rest of his miserable existence. And so too could Mark.

His return to UCPD was met with praise and kind pats on the back for a job well done. It's not everyday that a criminal of this caliber is collared by one of their own. His pillowy lips were pulled back in an award winning smile, the corners of his almond shaped eyes wrinkled with a mixture of happiness and stress. It had been a rough two years, and Mark had almost lost his partner, Seàn, when the rescue of Andrew's last victim was botched.

The woman ultimately died before they could get to her, and Seàn took a knife to the chest when things resorted to physical combat. But he lived, and that Irish ball of spice was there at the precinct to congratulate his partner for saving his life along with many others.

"How's it feel to have your arse kissed for a change, Fischbach?" Seàn joked, his left arm in a sling while the other was firmly attached to a cup of coffee. Mark rolled his eyes, elbowing this smartass Irishman just hard enough to make his blue eyes narrow.

"It feels good, but it'd be better if your lips were giving my ass a nice smooch."

"Fuck sake, Mark!"

Seàn made a face but laughed anyhow. He had gotten pretty used to Mark's crude humor over the years. He didn't mind the overly sexual tone that most of those jokes carried. A little flirting every now and then never hurt anyone.

"So, you and me tonight, yeah? I owe you a drink for saving my ass. And who knows, maybe I might kiss yours if I'm drunk enough." Seàn chuckled, lifting his coffee cup up to his thin pink lips to take a swing. Mark rolled his eyes, knowing that Seàn wasn't necessarily joking about how friendly he gets once he's properly sauced. The offer was tempting, but Mark had to do something first before he would allow himself to celebrate this victory. Seàn would understand, even though he would piss and moan about it until Mark fully understood how disappointed he was.

"Raincheck? I have something important I need to do first."

"Oh, come on! Leave it alone, Mark. That cunt isn't going anywhere for a long time. Plus you've already flaked out on me more times than I can count. It's just a drink." Seàn protested, his thick eyebrows knit together.

"If it's just a drink then it can wait. I'll make it up to you. I promise."

Mark was already heading towards the door before Seàn could say anything else, his long black dress coat flowing behind him as he passed through the door to the precinct. He could hear Seàn cursing at him, shouting something in Irish that Mark assumed was an empty threat. He'd surprise Seàn with a night out soon enough, but right now he needed to gain that final piece of closure that would end this case for him mentally.

Andrew had inadvertently fucked with his mind pretty severely. So much so that he couldn't sleep without a belly full of whiskey and two lungs full of nicotine. There are some things that the human mind cannot process efficiently, and seeing the strung up bodies of thirty mutilated men and women was enough to break Mark's sanity just a little more than his previous cases had. He wanted to talk to Andrew, settle the score between them once and for all. He just wanted this to be over.

Mark sighed as he climbed into his car, catching his reflection in the rearview mirror. He looked exhausted, but somehow he was able to hide just how much this job really affected him behind those warm brown eyes.