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Intimacy in death

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"Why didn't I see it? The placement of the bodies, the level of aggression. One thrust." He demonstrated, an imaginary knife held in his grasp. Carol captured his hand and pushed it down, trapping his fingers under hers. He raised his eyebrows, his forehead wrinkling, conviction strong in his lowered voice. "I should have seen it."

"Tony, just bloody well stop moving," Carol ordered, trying to keep the fear from her voice, trying not to look at the blood pooling on the floor. He hadn't stopped bleeding and her jacket tied around the wound wasn't doing much to stem the flow. Tony's head was resting in her lap and his skin was getting cold. Colder.

She knew what this was going to look like, in the end. A mocking tableau of the way they were seated now. Two rotting corpses, the slightly fresher one supporting the other.

"They all seemed like lovers to their colleagues." There was a slight wobble to the words, pain repressed.


"It's how she picks them. It's what she wants, and she can't get it, so she forces it on them." He tilted his head, the movement slight, a compromise to her order. "Or tries to force it on them. And when she comes back and they're not in a position that she considers intimate, well, then she does force it on them. Intimacy in death, death in intimacy. Death is the most intimate time you can share - depending on who you ask."

"Does your brain ever turn off," Carol stated rather than asked, her tone aggressive. She rested her other hand on his forehead. She wasn't sure whether she was imagining that he was even colder. "Hang on, what are you saying, that people think we are lovers?"

"Some might." The shrug was in his voice. "The ability for human minds to draw connections, to want those connections, is infinite. What better place to try and draw them than with your colleagues. Joe looked at Susie like this, Susie looked away; they must be dating. And for some, the hours are so long that it's perfectly natural to look for that somebody there. Or imagine that they are there." Tony looked up at her. "But then, I'm not telling you anything you don't already know." He paused, his jaw tightening and the lines around his eyes deepening. His hand clenched into a fist under hers and Carol held it, wishing she could do more. After a long moment he relaxed, his breath leaving in a woosh. A few erratic in-and-outs and he settled back into an even rhythm. "And let's face it, Carol, you've always fancied me."

The rare spark of outright humour, said in a deadpan style, brought a small smile to Carol's lips.

"Have I?"

"Oh, yes, it's been incredibly obvious from the very moment we met. You want to jump my bones."

She couldn't help but continue smiling at his matter-of-fact tone.

His head tilted again. "Give it a couple of days and you'll be able to literally."

And there was the Doctor Hill that she'd come to know and not love.

"Tony! That's not funny." Every last vestige of humour left her body. They were going to die here if she couldn't get them out, or if her team didn't figure it out in time. She didn't know how they would - they were nowhere near the mark. None of them had been. "We're getting out of here." She shook her head, her lips pressed into a straight line. "We're not dying here. You're not dying here. So don't bloody well talk like you are, or you'll be in a world of pain, and it won't be from that stab wound. Are we clear?"

"Right, hiding from reality we are." She could almost see the clap of the hands that would have gone with it, if they'd been in another time or place. He raised his eyebrows, mocking her. "Feel better now?"

"Not really." She looked around the room again. The floor was covered in a layer of scum, thick enough in some places to noticeably raise the floor level, with a pile of debris in one corner. She really hoped that it wasn't a rat's nest. The door was solid wood, rotten in places, but not enough that she'd been able to kick a hole in it. If she'd had a baton it might have made a difference. There were no windows, so their only hope of escape, without outside help, was through that door.

Satisfied, but still disappointed - even though she knew it was irrational - that no additional ways to escape were going to appear out of thin air, Carol focused back on Tony. His eyes were closed and the fact that he'd shut up meant that he'd either fallen asleep or lost consciousness again. She knew when he was awake because, even in pain and muddled by blood loss, he kept on thinking and theorising. Anybody who didn't know him would just think that he liked the sound of his own voice... but Carol knew better. Resting her hand briefly on his chest, she felt the reassuring up and down movement. She wasn't going to let him die.

At least Kevin should have missed them. Half an hour doesn't translate to four without someone trying their phones and wondering why they weren't answering. Tony was still down for the count which meant she could return to her desperation. She gently moved his head onto the floor and stood up. You never knew just how much force it would take to shatter a door, and it wasn't like she had anything else to do while Tony was quiet.

Half an hour later she heard shouting outside that blissfully sounded like her name.

She put her face to the crack between the door and the frame. "In here! In here!" The voices got closer, Kevin and Paula's audible. "We need an ambulance!"

The door opened out and the cool evening air flowed in. A torch shone in her face before the beam was lowered, reducing its blinding effect. She knew she looked horrible: a huge bruise covering half her face, blood and splinters of wood over her clothes, hands scratched to hell.

"Gov," Paula sighed in relief. "Thank God." Paula then spotted Tony, her concern showing on her face. "Is he..?"

"He's alive." A paramedic stepped past Carol as another stopped to check her over. "No, no, I'm fine," Carol said, pushing away his questing hands. She turned and pointed back at Tony who had woken up and was looking around somewhat puzzled. "Help him, please."

Deciding that he wasn't going to win, the paramedic moved on and knelt beside Tony, who had finally clued into what was going on and relaxed.

"We got her," Kevin said from her side, a hand briefly placed on her arm, as they watched the paramedics work.

Tony's head turned and his eyes caught hers. She nodded, unsure what she was trying to convey.

Odds on, Olivia Markham wouldn't have to find a psychologist. She already had one who understood her.