Sergeant Donovan was always watching me. That was alright; she won’t find anything. If Mycroft taught me one rule, it was to never get caught.
Sometimes John watched me too, but there was something I couldn’t quite define resting behind his eyes. He looked at me as if I was something precious, like I had personal merit. If only he had known where I’d been, what I’d seen, what I’d done. The novelty of my deductions tended to lose its luster for most. John was someone I’d grown...fond of. How he could feel any such fondness in return was slightly baffling, especially to a sociopath.
I was sure Donovan and Anderson had tried warning him away. More than anything, I was surprised by their instinctual suspicion of me: they were shite at their jobs in every regard, yet they were the only ones that got the “creep vibe” from me. The only ones. It was almost insulting.
I was even more surprised that John didn’t heed their warnings. He even, rather, seemed spurred on by them, like the advice to abandon me was ill-advised and unsubstantiated. Which it wasn’t, at least to my knowledge.
“How are you today, Freak?” said Anderson, interrupting my unfocused web of thoughts. He gave off a putrid mixture of body odor and a potent cologne trying and failing to mask it. “Another body, huh? Where’d you find him? Seduced him at a bar, then butchered him?”
The victim was lying supine on the alley pavement, large, jagged gnashes littered across his body. His clothes were soaked through with his own blood, wetly clinging to his skin. The stab wounds were swift but lacked confidence, unsteady, created by a brutal instrument: most likely done with a dagger—an effective tool in the right hands.
I would never be so sloppy.
“Why of course not,” I smiled, burying my hands comfortably in my coat pockets. “I bought some of that cologne you’re wearing in an attempt to lure him in, but he just seemed to be absolutely repelled—couldn’t get within a meter of him. Someone else must have snatched him up in the meantime.”
Oh, that was worth it just to see the look on Anderson’s smug, punchable face.
He walked away grumbling, most likely about filing a complaint for my behavior. That wouldn’t get him far considering I wasn’t even on the force: I just reaped the benefits.
“What an absolute twat,” John said, approaching me from behind. “I’m surprised he hasn’t turned up dead at a crime scene yet.”
It’s more likely than you think.
“Aren’t we all,” I smirked, crouching beside the corpse.
I examined the wounds; there were twenty eight in total. They all ranged anywhere from seven to fifteen centimeters in length. Some were located on the scapula and deltoid muscles, others on the abdomen, yet more on the arms and hands, and even across the face. Whoever did this was involved: this was personal.
Caring is not an advantage.
Not getting involved is easy when you can’t feel at all.
“Whoever did this must have known him,” said Lestrade, arms crossed and eyes clinging to the victim’s form. His gaze was frozen with disgust, and something else which was difficult to parse. I couldn’t feel the sympathy Lestrade did, which was painted across his features. It set his teeth on edge, pulled on the muscles around his lips. No, I couldn’t feel it, but I could understand it: I could appreciate it for what it was, like I could appreciate a painting without being an artist myself.
“So far so obvious,” I said, pulling off my latex gloves and crumpling them into a ball.
This was an M.O. I’d seen before. One long, continuous cut severed the jugular whist another sliced across the abdomen. I’d been on the hunt, several weeks ago, when I’d encountered a corpse in a similar fashion. I was tailing a cabbie—a serial rapist—and was about to sneak into his car to hide and wait for him until I came across the lacerated body in the alleyway. Despite the man wasn’t any victim of mine, I decided to take a sample of his blood, seeing as it was mostly fresh, and put it on one of my microscope slides. I had later identified the man’s DNA at St. Bart’s—one James Doakes.
“What else do you know then?” said Lestrade, face sobering and becoming less devastated. The irritation and impatience began to bleed into his expression: I preferred that. Frustration was easier for me to understand than guilt, regret, sympathy.
I told Lestrade most of my conclusions, leaving out the bit where I’d actually encountered this method before, as well as the bit about me making so many of my conclusions based on my own killing experiences. He seemed abated, nodding and directing his team from the scene once he was seemingly satisfied. John, all the while, stood firmly rooted to my side. That was still odd. It was something I hadn’t yet become used to—and I wondered if I ever would.
“You should get going,” I said amicably to John, who had a sort of lost expression. After all, he had Rosie and Hamish waiting for him at home with Molly: and after that abuse case and debacle with John’s ex wife Mary, I honestly didn’t trust leaving the kids without John in reach. “Hamish and Rosie will be excited to see you.”
John’s eyes became less narrowed. Something shifted, but I couldn’t pinpoint what exactly caused it, or what the change meant. “Why don’t you stay at mine tonight? I’m sure the kids would love to see you.” He smiled in that charming way all his own which I found increasingly harder to refuse as the days passed. For a sociopath, I still managed to be swayed by John’s countenance: it should have been disconcerting, but I found it invigorating—and intriguing.
My resolve gave slightly: the kids did it, always the kids. I wanted to be there for them like Mycroft had been there for me after Father died. Mycroft made me what I am, not that I would pervert Hamish and Rosie in the way I’d been perverted. I wanted nothing more than for John’s kids to lead a normal life. I didn’t want them to end up like me.
“As you wish,” I said, to which John smiled fully. His teeth gleamed in the street lamps, eyes scrunched and filled to the brim with warmth. I wish I could reciprocate. I’ve grown too fond of him—more so than I have with anyone else—but that amount of feeling is feeble. It will never be enough still.
“Come, I’ll call a cab,” he said.
I had been planning on a hunting tonight, but for the kids...it could wait.