Flesh and Bone
Buried banging at your door
Don’t hear a sound
Don’t know me anymore
A bell that tolled to comfort me
An empty street
A rising steam
Break the truth inside of me
Climbed down to hell on the devil’s tree
I clutched a branch of soot and flame
The thought that rose, to scorch my feet
I walk alone
Nowhere to go
Ahh, this bleeding heart
That’s in my hands I fell apart
I walk alone
Nowhere to go
Flesh and bone
This part of me
The seeds I’ve sewn
Coffee droplets escaped from her travel mug as she parked her car behind the police's patrol car, which still had its blue light on. It created an eery scene in front of one of the most famous law firms in the city. Despite the early hours, there were few people standing around the cordons watching the happenings with glinting eyes.
She glanced at her watch.
"Come on, people! It's four o'clock!" she muttered as she stepped out of her car. A man in a uniform approached her.
"Detective Cherry! Please follow me!"
He immediately turned around and led her up the stairs. She stepped into the elevator after him and leaned against the wall. She sighed into her travel mug, then when she felt ready enough, she asked the question.
"The victim's name is Maia Rabino, she worked here. The cleaning lady found her at half past three on the third floor. She didn't see anyone else."
"Security cameras?" Cherry asked after a long sip of coffee. The elevator came to a stop with a sudden jerk. She nearly ruined her outfit with the precious liquid.
"My people are on it already." the man whose name she had forgotten to ask answered.
"Thanks," she sighed. After that, she didn't need a guide. The mass of people in uniforms was swarming the place. For once the ME got there before her and was already leaning over the tiny woman lying in her own blood. Once, she had been a pretty thing, Cherry thought bitterly. Now, horror distorted her features and lower...
"What happened to her?" Cherry asked horror now evident in her voice too.
The ME glanced up at her from behind his glasses. Morbid humor was showing in the curl of his lips and the glinting of the dark eyes.
"It looks like Exorcist III right now."
Cherry stared blankly back at him.
"She has been cut up in the middle, her organs ripped out." he waved with his hands towards the gruesome scene to their right that would give her nightmares for the rest of her miserable life. "She was sewn back over." he gently pressed down on the corpse's stomach with his gloved hands. "She is stuffed with something. I'll need to X-ray her."
"I'm gonna throw up," Cherry muttered. She turned away from the man and the miserable scene. On one of the desks that had been masterfully placed around the big room was covered by bagged objects. One of the bags was protecting a bloody mobile phone.
"Is it hers?" she asked.
"We guess so." someone answered.
"Let's find out who she called last."
Kate sipped her tea in the dim kitchen. The sun was probably climbing upwards, but the sky was still covered by heavy clouds, so, it was still very dark outside.
She glanced to the side at the hesitant greeting. Tony was standing at the door of the kitchen, dressed in faded jeans and an old shirt that she managed to salvage from the ruins of his apartment. He was finally looking like a thirty-something years old, not the too young version of himself. Otherwise, he was a mess.
"Hey yourself." She spoke equally quietly. "There is a fresh pot of coffee too," she added.
He nodded his thanks and approached the counter. Tristan's last advice before his departure had been to be patient and tolerant with Tony. Kate didn't like that. She preferred to be honest. Normality would be better in her point of view, but it was not her who was giving out the orders. Still... this was awfully awkward.
"Do everyone live here now?" Tony asked a few minutes later. He turned around, rested his hip against the counter. Intense eyes were regarding her with guarded curiosity. Kate stirred her tea lazily.
"It's safer that way."
"Safety in numbers, ha?"
She looked into his eyes and saw her own thoughts mirrored in them. Last night, that wave that washed over them. Something alien had happened or was happening. An abomination.
He hummed quietly, then seemingly turned all his attention back to his coffee. She mirrored him, but it was not her tea that captured her dreamy attention, but the darkness outside.
"Someone should really look into all that snow." she mused.
"Our case," Tony spoke, ignoring her previous comment. She blinked at him.
"Yes. What is it about?" She blinked again. She searched for his tells. There were some when he was playing jokes. Like everyone else, he too had them, his eyes, the way he blinked, tiny curves of the corner of his mouth. However, this time he looked completely serious.
"You seriously don't remember?" she asked.
She expected him to look annoyed or even angry, but he just shrugged.
"I couldn't even remember you till you spoke."
"So, my voice annoyed your memories back to place." she scowled.
A ghost of a smile appeared on his face. Her real goal.
"That's one way of saying it."
"So," she took a breath, "the case."
Detective Andrea Cherry rubbed her eyes as she leaned over the case photos. Three hours of sleep. That's all she had had last time. Her eyes were so dry that they felt like sandpaper. Or sand bubbles. Man... she was going crazy.
She glanced down at the photo in front of her. Maia Rabino's body lay in the middle of the firm's common area. Her vital organs were scattered around her. Wait, Andrea cocked her head to the side. Not just scattered around. There was a pattern. She just didn't know this one. She quickly noted it down onto her to look up list.
The ME had done an x-ray of the body, just like how he had promised he would. The place where the organs should have been had been filled up with flowers. After the dissection, it turned out that they were red dahlias.
"That's sick." Andrea breathed.
She glanced up. Her partner, a junior detective was hurrying towards her between the cheap desks of the other detectives.
"What is it, Benjamin?" she asked tiredly.
"We got the number," Benjamin told her excitedly.
"Number?" Andrea mouthed the word, while she just stared blankly. She really needed another coffee.
"From Ms. Rabino's phone! She has even left a message! Hurry!"
Oh, Andrea pushed her chair back. Maybe that would lead them somewhere.
Tom Morrow closed his office's door behind himself with a sigh. Tristan had left and he was sure that he wouldn't see him for a very long time. Maybe it was for the best. Tristan was with Ellis, the human turned shiftling. Ellis was good and kind. It was better this way.
Morrow stepped behind his desk, then sank into his comfortable chair. He stared at the huge pile of paperwork in front of him. NCIS and Elder tasks...
"I need a vacation." the ancient vampire huffed.
He grabbed his phone and dialed the first number on his to-do list.
"Gibbs." came the gruff voice.
"Morrow. Tonight we'll have a council meeting. State of emergency. Be there!" He didn't have to clarify. Gibbs knew that it was vampire business instinctively. There was another gruff noise, then the line went dead.
Morrow dialed the second number, but it went almost immediately to voicemail.
"Good morning, Victoria! Tonight we have a council meeting. Please call me back, when you get this message."
He ended the call with a tingling vampire sense.
Tim shuffled into the kitchen. He was still rubbing his bleary eyes when he noticed the other occupant. Tony was sitting on top of the counter, with one leg folded, one hanging. He had a manila folder in his lap and he held two papers in each hand. His eyes were moving rapidly as he read the lines.
"Ducky will have your head if he sees you like that." Tim blurted out.
Tony snorted, but otherwise, he didn't acknowledge his presence. Tim had two problems. One, he needed coffee to escape that morning haze he was still in thanks to the long and gut-churning night. Two, he was still wary of his SFA's unpredictable reactions. Why were this two things called problem? Because Tony was sitting right in front of the coffeemaker.
"Erm..." Tim concluded smartly.
However, the next moment didn't solve his problems but worsened them. The manila folder went flying, white, black and gray papers scattered around the kitchen. Tony glared at the mess he had created with more venom than what the junior agent had ever seen on the SFA's face.
"Wha..." Tim started after weighing his chances, but he didn't get far in his question, because Tony cut him off.
"I can't remember!" he actually growled.
"At all?" Tim asked with alarm. He had thought that they were over the amnesia part.
Tony flashed his green eyes at him. Tim's alarm skyrocketed, when he noticed the flashing gold and red (mostly the red) in his eyes.
"The case! The smell! The lead!" Tony jumped off the counter and started pacing. At least Tim could get to the coffeemaker now. He inched towards it, but he kept his eyes on the distressed shifter.
"We had a lead?"
"No! I had a lead! I smelled the killer!"
Tim's hands stilled at the last sentence. "You mean you know who the killer is? You could detect him by ... smelling him?"
Tony stopped and stared at him.
"Stop looking at me like that!" the shifter huffed.
"Like what?" Tim blinked.
"Like I'm some kind of weirdo." Tony waved with his hand towards Tim "A shifter's sharpest sense is the sense of smell!"
Tim laughed at the grimace on the sulking shifter's face. "Believe me, I'm already over the weirding out part."
Tony snorted at that, said something that sounded like you don't even have the slightest idea and started pacing again.
"Not that it matters. I can't remember the smell. It's in one of the black holes." Tony said after a while
Tim had already turned his back on the man and busied himself with his coffee.
"Black holes? What black holes?" he asked absentmindedly. However, Tony didn't answer. When Tim had to repeat his question for the third time and there was still no answer, the human turned around.
The shifter stood next to the dining table and he was staring at the TV. Someone had turned it on and it had been on mute even before Tim had arrived into the kitchen. The news was on and a woman's picture was displayed. The headline went as a young lawyer has been brutally murdered at her workplace during the night. Tim glanced at Tony. The news was awful, but not something they didn't see before. However, the pale features of the shifter told another story. The red in the green orbs told an even more distressing one.
"Where is my phone, McGee?" Tony asked with a gravelly voice.
"Yes! My cell phone! Where is it?" Tony was almost shouting.
"In the living room. I don't think it has been charged..." Tim trailed off. Tony was already gone, shifter speed working to his favor. Tim was left behind with confusion and dread growing in his stomach.
Manuel Tillman hummed to himself as he cleaned the metal table in front of him. He had been an ME for the last twenty years, but he never had such an interesting case before. Don't get him wrong, he did feel sorry for the young woman, but he is an ME. This is his job. Everybody likes it when their job is interesting. You don't get more interesting than a murder taken from an Exorcist movie! It would be a great case report for the next conference!
He threw the bloody paper towel into the bin with the yellow garbage bag, then he wheeled cleaning trolley into the conjoined room.
He never saw the small metal door with the number 5 opening behind him.
To Be Continued.