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A groan escapes Anthea’s lips as she steps under the yellow tape covering the alleyway’s entrance. Viktor approaches her, the flashing lights of the police cars illuminating his grimacing face. “Fuck dude, can’t this have waited another, like, ten minutes? I was kind of in the middle of something?” She grumbles.

“Language, and no it can’t. This is the third murder this week, and we’ve got a message this time.”

“A message? Like, from homeboy himself?” Anthea’s eyes light up and Viktor gives her a disdainful look.

“Anthea, I told you to stop calling him homeboy. It implies that you’re on friendly nickname terms with the killer.” He says, eyebrows scrunching into a frown.

“Oh, so fucking what. I already know his taste in women and also in murder, I’d say we’d be on nickname terms if we actually met in person by now.”

“Regardless, calling him homeboy is inappropriate. Not to mention it’s a terrible nickname. I’m just going to ignore the rest of that comment.”

Anthea tilts her head and smiles at him. “This is why I love spending time with you, man.”

“Please stop. This is a crime scene, not a coffee date.” Viktor sighs and turns away from her, walking instead towards the police cars. Anthea hangs back, instead taking a moment to appreciate her growing flashing-light-induced headache.

“Huh. That’s, what, twenty seconds? Probably a new record.” She grumbles and looks back at Viktor, who is talking to another officer. He makes a ‘come-here’ gesture with his hand and walks away towards a thin alleyway which is cordoned off by yet more yellow tape. Anthea follows.

She jogs a little to catch up and links arms with Viktor.

“Anthea, what are you doing.” He says, not really expecting an answer.

“What’s your problem with me, Vicky?” She asks after a little pause. Viktor furrows his brow and looks at her.

Viktor stops and turns to her, raising an eyebrow. “Do you actually want an answer, or..?”

“Yeah. What’s up? How can I ease your suffering, etc?”

“You’re too competent.” He says bluntly, offering no further explanation.

“… explanation, please?” Anthea says, waving her hand.

“You shouldn’t be this good at your job based on who you are as a person,” He pauses, looking for the right words, “For example, you handed in a report on our last case written in pink sparkly gel pen and covered in illustrations, and it was somehow the most intelligent and helpful thing I’ve read all year and the chief agrees. You’re totally unprofessional at all times and swear far too much and- I mean, look at the state of you now, you’ve exchanged your uniform for sweatpants, flipflops and a red cape to really bring the look together! And yet despite all this, you’re so good at your job that I’d bet money on your ability to solve this case within the month but I’d feel too bad for whoever bets against you. Somehow, this…” He gestures wildly at Anthea’s current, bewildered state, “is the top detective in Andesty’s police force, if not the best in Haldonia.”

Anthea places a hand over her heart and a small ‘aaw’ comes out her mouth. “You believe I’m our top detective? That’s fucking adorable,” She asks quietly, “I mean it, dude. I actually don’t know what to say, that’s so sweet.”

“Yes. It’s terrible.” He replies, and begins walking again.

“That’s fucking adorable. I love you, dude.” Anthea’s face breaks into a grin and she ruffles Viktor’s hair. “So, where’s this corpse?”

“This is exactly what I mean!” Viktor sounds offended, but as he turns away Anthea sees a hint of a smile on his face.

A couple of minutes later, the pair arrives at the scene of the crime. Anthea walks forward to inspect. Viktor writes down what Anthea is saying aloud, so she can later translate it into the following report:

The body of a woman, aged around twenty-seven, is sprawled on the floor. Her blonde hair is stained red and her eyes are wide open in shock. In the centre of her forehead is a bullet wound. There are two additional wounds; one in her throat and one in the centre of her chest. Any one of them would have killed her; the killer, however, preferred to shoot three times. The reasoning for this is unknown. This indicates that this is the same killer as in cases #167 and #169-173.

Mentioned also was a message. The message is written on a piece of newspaper in blue marker pen. It will be sent through to the forensics department as a piece of evidence. The message reads: “see you soon, love from homeboy”. This is worrying, to say the least.

“You think? If he knows your nickname for him, used only when discussing the case, what else does he know?” Viktor runs a hand through his hair and looks over the notes.

“Are we just ignoring the ‘see you soon’ element of the note?” Anthea says, and Viktor swears he hears an element of excitement in her voice “This means either we’re close to finding him out-”

“Or alternatively he’s coming for one of us slash someone close to us. Anthea, that’s worrying. Let’s discuss it later at the station; wording doesn’t decay but bodies do. Can we wrap this up so cleanup can take the victim’s body to forensics?” Viktor sighs.

“Ugh, fine. I was just getting into it, as well.” Anthea says, more to herself than to Viktor, and begins to think again.

“So, there’ve been a bunch of cases pretty much identical to this one, same wounds and so on. It’s been, like, six?”

“But this is the only one we’ve had so far with a message, correct?” Viktor taps his pen on the edge of the clipboard on which he’s written down the notes.

“Yeah,” she continues, “so that means either we’re getting too close for comfort or we’re not moving anywhere so he wants to give us a clue, which’d mean he’s treating this whole thing as a game,” Anthea begins to walk away from the body. Viktor asks her where she’s going, to which she replies, “I’m heading back; I’ve seen all I’ve needed to see. Now, there usually aren’t any witnesses. Are there any today?”

“Yes, actually,” Viktor says, striding alongside her, “one Lucy Holt. She’s sitting in the back of the ambulance right now; Varkas is looking after her.”

“Holy shit it’s like fucking Christmas up in here.” Anthea claps her hands excitedly and sprints in the direction of the ambulance. Viktor watches her cape flow behind her and hears the slap of her flipflops on the pavement, shakes his head and raises his eyebrows as if to say ‘how in the living fuck is she so good at her job with that attitude to professionalism?’.