A/N: Thank you for all your kind reviews! Sorry for the disgustingly long wait. Thanks especially to Lialane Graest, XxMIDNIGHTDREAMSxX, and Kaita the creeper.
Warning: This gets a little gory. I'm not so sure if this is still considered T. Just be warned.
Her voice sounded unnatural. The tone of a person who despite their fervent hope and effort, had just lost everything. And she felt she had. What was the point anymore?
She knelt in the pool of dark glistening blood next to the body. Blood soaked her hands and knees. It stuck in the grooves of her skin, to her fingernails, to the edges of her sleeves. She grasped at her own chest with shaking hands, her heart felt like it was torn open. She cried out into the sky above her. So disturbing was the sight, she felt pain as though it was her own blood that was spilled on the stony ground.
Death was never pretty, but this? This was just...
Her body was grotesquely distorted, limbs projecting from her small center in a strange jumble that was almost artistic, despite how revolting it was. A knife was plunged deep in her abdomen: the grievous wound the obvious cause for her death, and for the stark lack of color to the little girl's skin. Little, shallow cuts pattered her skin, weeping lines of blood. Her dark hair and lifeless eyes stared pointlessly to the heavens. Marie reached down and closed them gently. To her revulsion, her fingers left blood smears on the child's face. She sobbed anew, choking on her tears at the sight; the dark streaks marring her face were like bloody tear trails, mirroring the ones on her own cheeks. This is someone's daughter...
She had always wanted a family of her own. People to hold and love. A little daughter. And so she felt the loss of the little one before her she felt as keenly as if it were her own. She easily visualize how disturbing and terrible it would be to lose a child that was her own. So needlessly. Her poor mother, wherever she was. She imagined the woman sitting in a chair in her child's room, staring out the window, wondering where her child could be, praying silently she was alright. And who to tell her of the tragedy? A worst nightmare brought to life!
Whoever did this...! Angry tears slipped silently down to mix with the blood. She looked up behind her from where she knelt to see Maka. She stared transfixed at the body, her face shocked, eyes wide.
Marie stood up.
"We should tell someone," Marie said. They needed to get someone to help. She touched her shoulder in an attempt to pull her from her fixation. "Maka, we need to tell Lord Death immediately," she stressed. She waved a hand in front of Maka's face, and tried convincing her to leave the morbid scene. Maka did not respond.
Sighing, Marie left the poor girls alone, walking the direction they had come, until she found a shop lined street. The yellow light of a lamppost flooded the area with light, and her eyes winced and watered from the difference from the alley. A mirror, she needed a mirror. Where could she get one? She glanced around anxiously. Maybe she would have to break into a shop? She stood in the middle of the street, trying to discern what to do. There had to be a way to contact Lord Death!
Surveying the shops, she gave a start to see her own reflection staring back at her. But of course! Curse her tired mind for its slowness! Windows were reflective. Not so much as mirrors, but they would do the job. She walked up to the shop. It had a window, and that's all that mattered. She leaned close to the glass, exhaling heavily to create a patch of white fog. With a finger, she wrote out the sequence of numbers she knew by heart.
"Forty-two, forty-two, five sixty-four, whenever you want to knock on Death's door," she said. The little sing-song rhyme felt childish and out of place on her lips.
As the numbers faded, she waited anxiously for a moment, before Death's cheerful face appeared. His smiling face brought mixed feelings. Her brows quirked downward. Now was no time for shows of giddiness or laughter, as was Death's nature. Although, a kind of perpetual flow of strength sprung from this same smile. Like a wise, kindly grandfather of sorts, she drew comfort from him.
"Hello! What is it? Oh, Ms. Marie, how are you?"
She gave a weak smile at his inquire. She was tired.
He glanced behind her, and seeing where she was, assumed she must have been lost, and asked her if she needed his help. Another time, she would have felt annoyed or relieved at his kind concern, the offer to personally come and help her home. However, now she felt only the weight of sorrow.
"I did get lost, but I'm afraid there's much worse news. A little girl has been murdered." She paused and waited for Death's response. His eyes widened but he remained surprisingly calm.
"Maka found me, miraculously, and she was leading me home when-" She broke off uncertainly.
"I see. Where are you? I'll send the nearest team to assist you. And also get a medical team, of course." Marie looked down. She didn't know where they were! How could she? Death seemed to realize this, and said to her, "You said Maka was with you, correct? Ask Maka where you are, she must know."
"O-okay," Marie stuttered. She wasn't sure if Maka could tell her. The way she acted that time... "Be right back." She walked back into the alley, taking it easy on her injured ankle. She arrived to find Maka right where she left her, though she sat now, knees on the ground, inches from the body. "Oi, Maka, where are we?" She reached down, concerned, her hand positioned above her friend's shoulder, when Maka turned around and looked at her in the eyes.
"It's just like my dream," she said. " Just like it." Maka pointed at the body. She lowered her voice, and Marie found herself leaning down toward her to hear. "The only thing is, that should be me."
Marie had almost no idea what Maka was talking about. She sounded crazy. "Maka you're fine, I just need to know where we are so we can get some help."
Maka was not paying attention. She was staring at the blood again and muttering, "Just like my dream, just like it."
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear-! She tried to push down the rising fear. It was so dark, and she was so alone!
No! Just think Marie. Where are you right now? We were heading toward Stein's house. That's a good start. Does anything look familiar? Nope, not really. Okay, so your on the way home, but not quite there.
Now she was talking to herself! It was like 4am, and the lack of sleep was not helping the situation. Marie sighed, and began pulling at her hair, hoping the pain might trigger some idea.
None were forthcoming. She was stuck once again, with no help. Her companions were a dead girl, and a crazy girl. Urgh! What was she supposed to do? Cry? Already she felt like tears, everything so hopeless and sad. She wouldn't cry again tonight. She refused. She could get through this. She was just going to go back to Death and maybe they could work out what to do.
She took a deep breath. In, out. She walked determinedly back to the window, wondering if Death was still waiting.
A hand touched her shoulder.
A thought rushed to her brain suddenly: The Killer was still out there! They would not get away!
She whirled to face her them, arms swinging. He caught her hand, and she was shocked to see that the Killer was someone she knew.
And then she realized something else.
He would never do something like that!, her brain screamed at her. She abruptly tried to stop her attack.
Too late. Her second strike hit him square in the chest, and he stumbled back a step.
She put her hands over her mouth. What had she done?
"Kid! Oh my gosh, Kid! I'm so sorry! I thought you were the Killer for a minute. I can't believe I hit you! I'm so sorr-"
"The Killer? Hold on. Who's dead?" He asked her straight, cut off her panicked apologies, and held both her hands.
"Wait you don't know?" she cried. "Your father didn't send you?"
"No, no he didn't. I was on patrol with Liz and Patty," he gestured to the two exhausted girls who Marie now noticed stood a few feet behind their meister, barely on still on their feet, "and we just saw you and assumed you were lost."
Then what happened to whoever Death sent? She wondered idly. That Team. Maybe they were farther away then she thought. Or, most likely, they were probably still out there looking for us.
She huffed and threw him a look. Kid being Kid, he didn't catch it. She found herself explaining the whole story once again. "Well, I am lost, but I was fine because Maka found me, and she was taking me home. Then, we found a body in that alley," she threw an arm in the general direction of the alley, "and now Maka is freaking out, and I don't know what to do!" The three before her, she noticed, looked as exhausted as she felt. They all had dark circles under their eyes. The normally energetic Patty was quiet, arms drooping low. Her sister was similar. That's probably why I didn't notice them at first.
"First, show me the body, then we will contact my father," Kid spoke after a moment, slowly, as if he was contemplating what to do.
"Okay." Marie agreed. As much as she didn't want to witness the gore all over again, the faster she did this, the faster this nightmare would be over. The group walked into the alley, except for Liz, who cringed visibly, and shuddering, hesitated at the mouth of the darkness. After a minute, she ventured in, not wanting to be left alone in any place even semi-dark. It was better to be with friends.
While Kid quickly looked over the scene, Patty splashed half-heartedly in the pool of blood until Liz joined them. Liz pulled Patty to one side of the alley, out of Kid's way.
"Died of multiple wounds and blood loss," came Kid's quiet voice, as he made notes of the details. He alone seemed able to handle the situation with the calm it required.
Marie went to Maka, who was shivering and rocking back and forth. She wanted to apologize for leaving her alone with the body. She had been panicking herself, trying to figure out what to do, and while she did not blame Maka for her panicked state, she wished that the younger girl would be more useful. In the near darkness, she crouched next to her friend, and helped her up. Kid finished his quiet analysis of the situation, and they started to leave. Maka stumbled, even though Marie was supporting her. Kid picked her up, and they left the alley.
Marie led them to the window she had used. She was not surprised to see that Lord Death had ended the connection. She had been gone for many minutes. Kid set Maka on the ground, and they all waited as he called Death. Patty sat down as well, asleep and snoring before Kid had finished dialing. Marie looked at her, impressed. Liz picked at some miniscule problem with her nails.
The ghost-like masked face of Lord Death appeared on the window.
"Kid! Marie!" he exclaimed. "You never returned...What's going on?"
Kid explained everything. "Oh, and we need someone from the hospital to come pick up the body," he finished. "The street is Merryweather, closest intersection Angel Avenue."
Marie suddenly felt very relieved that someone like Kid had found them. Despite his obvious fatigue, he kept calm and alert. Now they just had to wait for the ambulance to arrive. They all sat against the brick wall of the building, and turned their attention to Maka, who seemed traumatized. Sitting beside her friend just as Maka had done for her earlier, Marie prepared herself to listen. "Maka, Maka tell us what happened." I'll listen to you now, she thought.
Away from the body and the darkness of the alley, Maka's sense seemed to be returning. They sat still as Maka began.
"I had a dream," she started. "No, a nightmare!" she quickly amended. "It was just like now. It was the one that brought me outside to begin with." Marie nodded encouragingly. "In the nightmare I was being chased by someone tall, cloaked in shadow. I ran and ran, but they quickly overtook me. I was so weak!" She shuddered, voice going, but she pushed on determinedly. "He caught me, and tortured me with his cruel knives, and I screamed. Then he laughed. Laughed at our pain, and how he hurt us. I didn't know him, but whoever he is; I know he's the same person who killed the little girl. We were the same, when he tortured us. I know it!" she added, seeing her friends' doubtful looks.
Marie only half believed her. The whole situation was creepy.
"Just the same as the dream, like we were connected." Maka said.
This is just like telling ghost stories, but with no campfire, Marie thought to herself.
"This doesn't sound like a coincidence," Kid conceded.
They kept up quiet chatter, to fight off sleep and dark, until they heard a car. The car turned out to be the ambulance, sent to their location on Lord Death's instruction. At such a quiet time of night, no sirens were needed. The emergency people drove up to them, and a few of them came out, dressed in their uniforms, with a stretcher and other equipment. They all stood (except for Patty, who was sleeping), and Kidd showed them the alley.
They waited for the experts to do what they did best.
However, the three people who went in, came right back out not half a minute later.
"Wrong alley?" one of them asked. "There's no one in there."
"What?" Liz asked.
"No," Kid said slowly, confused, "I'm fairly certain that this is the one." He re entered the alley with the three medics. A minute later he and the others reappeared. "She's gone! The blood's still there, but the body is gone!"
"No!" Marie exclaimed, horrified. They all ran into the alley, and saw the truth for themselves. Then, they spent the next half hour searching within a mile of the crime scene for any hint of blood or any evidence that could tell them what had happened.
Kid was stubborn, and wanted to continue the search long after everyone was dead tired, and had given up hope.
"It's no use," Liz said tiredly. Kid nodded in assent. Finally, he was forced to give up. They had found not the tips of hair, of a drop of blood outside the alley.
The emergency people offered to drive everyone home. So after Kidd contacted Death once more, they were each dropped off at their respective houses.
Marie got out of the ambulance, and stumbled for the front door, to find it was still open all those hours before. She closed the front door, set the book down on a table, and staggered into her bed.
Not bothering to even remove her boots, she fell asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow.
The sun rose.