Me: A sad short story that I thought I might as well post. Enjoy or cry, your choice : )

Disclaimer: I own nothing!

The Murder Call

The unthinkable happened…

''Nighty nighty. See you Monday, Steve.''

''See you. And no 2 AM calls! My machine's broken, so I won't get them. If you've got something to say it'll have to wait.''

She smiled.

Steve watched her go. Still smiling to himself from their nightly banter, he watched her retreating back as she swept out of the office. He wondered if she would go all weekend without one of her 2 AM calls about some case breakthrough. He hoped so. He was looking froward to the rest.

''Body found in the apartment by the landlord at 7 AM this morning. Water was leaking and he couldn't get in. Got the master key and found the poor girl.''

''Who's apartment is it?''

''A Mr. Keenan's. Can't find him, yet. Where's Vance?''

Steve had been about to ask that same question. ''I've been calling her, sir,'' Dee said. ''But she hasn't been answering her home phone.''

''Well, then try her mobile.''

''I did, back at the office.''

''Try again.''

''Yes sir.''

They entered the apartment as Dee started dialing. They made it through the hallway and were about to enter the bedroom when they heard it.


Everyone from Imogen to Fisk paused, as if knowing the ringing was out of place but not sure why.

Steve was cold. He went first into the bedroom. He took in the scene as he usually did, noticing the surroundings, his attention slowly coming to the body of the victim. The ringing was coming from her bag…her purse…

Tessa's purse.

Dee screamed. Malcom stumbled. Imogen turned away and whether she clung to Fisk or Fisk clung to her Steve could't say. He couldn't say anything. For he was frozen, frozen in uncomprehending terror at the woman laying on the damp carpet. The woman who looked like Tessa.

But she couldn't be Tessa. Sure, she was wearing Tessa's clothes and Tessa's hair and had Tessa's bag, but she could't be Tessa. It had to be someone else. Someone who looked similar to her, or some costume, or some attempt at impersonation. But it could not be Tessa.

It was unthinkable.

Yet here she was.

There was no point in trying to find some impartial third party to take the case. Everyone knew Tessa. Charles Vance's daughter, the detective who had Thorne losing what was left of his hair every single week. No one without a personal stake in this case existed. A detective had died, been murdered. It was personal. Deeply personal.

And yet, Malcom asked, ''Do you want to work on this case?''

Steve nodded. ''I have to, don't I?''

Imogen stared at the covered corpse on her autopsy table. ''I can't do it,'' she whispered.

Her assistant trembled behind her. ''Then…then you shouldn't…''

Imogen shook her head. ''You don't understand…I can't not.''

Dee had said she was going home, but she'd only made it as far as the bathrooms. She was hiding in there, clutching the sink, alternating between crying and throwing up.

She can't be gone. She can't be gone.

But she was. And there was nothing she could do to fix it.

Of all of them, Fisk was holding up the best. Or so Steve thought.

''That doesn't explain why the water was left on,'' Steve argued with a lab assistant. ''You have't any evidence as to why the killer would do that?''

''No,'' he replied.

Fisk slammed his fist down. ''I explained to you why that happened,'' he spoke harshly to the assistant. ''It makes perfect sense. The detective turned it on as she was falling. It led to her being discovered faster.''

''There's no physical evidence to support that,'' the student argued.

''Call it gut instinct.'' Fisk got up from his desk without looking at the man. ''And pack your things. You're fired.''

''You can't go around firing people,'' Malcom warned Fisk.

''He's an idiot,'' Fisk defended.

''He was brining up a valid point.''

''If his point was that Detective Vance did not in her last moment's of capability do something to help point to her killer, it's wrong and therefore, makes him an idiot.''

Malcom sighed. He turned from Fisk and glanced out his window. It was night. It had been a whole day on this earth without Tessa Vance. ''I knew her since she was a kid, you know,'' he told Fisk. ''Her father, Charles Vance…sometimes he'd bring her around when he wasn't supposed to. She'd sit in the hall, waiting for him to be done.''

''I saw her a few times,'' Fisk put in. ''She was about eleven then. Better around the lab than some of my assistants if I recall correctly.''

Malcom scoffed. ''I always said she was her father's daughter. Everyone did.'' Fisk nodded agreement. ''But I was wrong. She was a damn good detective in her own right. She'd outdone him. And he'd be as proud as pudding about it.''

''Indeed,'' Fisk agreed. ''Indeed.

Steve was obsessed.

Every scrap of evidence he turned over in his head again and again. He had to figure this out, he had to know who killed her.

Sometimes he fancied he had her ghost watching him. Looking at him with that piercing stare, asking him why he hadn't solved it already. God knows she'd have solved it by now. Her mind racing, her lighting fast conclusions…

And then he got it.

He thought there would be closure, first when he heard the killer confess and then again when he saw him sentenced. But instead there was just hollowness.

He thought maybe there'd be closure at the funeral. And then at the burial. And then seeing the headstone put into place. But the world kept turning and the days kept passing and if anything the ache and hole in his heart got bigger.

Dee still didn't look at her desk and ignored the new Detective who took her place. Imogen couldn't bring herself to get a table at the bar they all frequented. There was another cold edge to Fisk that hadn't been there before. And Malcom got more frustrated at every slow case, probably thinking what Steve himself thought; Tessa would've solved this by now.

There was no closure. Just numbness all day at the office and at night when he watched the fish in the fish tank in his living room. He could still see Mary Vance's stone cold face, hardened by the grief of outliving both her husband and her daughter, when she brought it to him.

''She told me she promised them to you once,'' she had explained.

He'd thanked her, keeping his thoughts to himself; I'll probably kill them, too.

After feeding and viewing his new pets for a while, his evening routine consisted of replaying the machine recording of a message that had been delivered when it was broken, and thus he hadn't received until too late. Much, much, too late.

It didn't make him cry anymore, or even hang his head or throw something breakable across the room. Now he just listened to it, reveling in the voice and wishing to god it didn't exist, and at the same time not knowing how he would've coped if he'd never heard it in the first place.

''Hey, Steve, it's me.

Look, I know you're tired of my 2 AM calls,

But this is important.

Could you meet me?

I'm sorry, but it's complicated and I'll explain when you get here.

Or, if you don't…

Well, I'll fill you in on Monday.

Right, bye.''


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Happy Writing!