Alex's Night Out

Chapter 1

The cool breeze coming in through the windows of her office smelled of spring and rain, serving as a soothing background for her whirling thoughts. Genevieve had been running this place for three years now, and her habit of rarely sleeping kept her behind the desk a lot of late. Warm weather made for active people, and in her business that meant more people up to more things they shouldn’t be doing.

Reclined in the most comfortable office chair she could find, she tapped a pen to her chin as she went over yet another case file, just enough to familiarize herself with it… at least with her memory, she could easily recall such details. Still, her purpose here was to double check that all evidence led to relevant leads that were followed to whatever conclusion. Genevieve had always been a reluctant supervisor at best, but took to it rather well. If nothing else, it served to kill time in the quiet hours after everyone went home and only the most dedicated were around.

Spettro Consulting and Investigations was flourishing, and her recent caseload had taken a backseat to signing off on the cases of her employees. With Morty and Chase retired and living well, she’d taken up the brunt of the work the three had shared for the first two years in the private sector. It was a nice arrangement, and their contacts still served Gen well to this day, opening several doors that might have held a nameless, untrusted person back. She missed them dearly, but they still checked in once a week to see how their girl was doing, and she was determined to continue proving herself.

“Oh wow, the husband did it for insurance money. Shocking.” Gen said to no one, having picked up one the clues her investigator had, but putting them together a bit quicker. Still, he’d come up with solid results, and that was what mattered. She moved the folder from where it was spread on her lap, and set it on the edge of her desk, using the pen she held to sign her name broadly on the bottom line. “Supervising Investigator” wasn’t all she was, but more and more of who she’d been as of late. After a certain debacle last year, she’d felt personally responsible, and punished herself by sticking behind the desk and avoiding the field work, delegating anything interesting she got a hold of to others she knew. The problem was, it was working… surprisingly so, and more and more her people were proving exceptionally competent, which meant she couldn’t find any reason to leave the desk.

If anything, things seemed to be running smoother with her there.

It was a hard reality, and not one Genevieve was happy to accept… but it couldn’t be helped right now, and she tried to put it out of mind, reaching for another file. The sleeves of her dark blue silk shirt brushed the desktop, and she cast a glance to the monitors before her. Three stood side-by-side, and each was running active searches, looking for various information. The two on either side weren’t the ones that made her glance though: it was the facial recognition program running in the center. The blurred photograph was all she had to go on, and so far she hadn’t gotten a single hit that panned out. She wasn’t planning on getting a hit anytime soon, either, but it didn’t hurt to be prepared.

Reclining once more, she put her bare feet up on her desk, her black slacks hanging loosely. The thick carpet of her office felt fantastic, and when business hours were over Gen relaxed just like everyone else… everyone else that lived in their office, at any rate. She had just settled back when the slam of the door down the hall caught her attention. “What the hell?” she muttered, suddenly alert. She sat up in her chair, tossing the file on the desk and flexing her fingers. All the late-nighters were out on cases or out for the evening, and even Calico had taken Cristos out earlier to stretch his legs. Gen held herself ready, thinking about how to handle the situation… after hours emergencies did happen on occasion, but people usually went to the police first, not private investigators.

The sudden knock on her office door startled her out of her thoughts. Holding herself easily, she strode to the door and opened it slightly, holding her body behind it - only to throw it wide when her mind caught up to her eyes.

The girl before her was trembling. Her brown hair was messy, her honey-brown eyes were bloodshot, and there was dirt on her cheeks. All of these details Genevieve noticed while her main attention caught on the girls hands, held before her. Blood covered the slender fingers, and echoing stains were spattered about her clothes. Tears once again fell from her eyes, streaking the dirt on her face as she made a soft crying sound. Gen stood there, eyes wide and astonished, as the girl moved forward into the office with a small step.

“Gen…” Alex said, her voice raspy and tinged with fear… “I think I killed someone.”

Chapter 2

The sound of the shower resounded on the building’s third floor, where Genevieve had a small suite prepared for staying at the office, which she generally did. Outside the bathroom door, Gen took turns every minute between leaning on the wall and pacing the room. “Alex, that blood is evidence! You really should not be washing it off!” She shook her head, hating to lose any lead in a story she still had no concept of.

“Like hell! You can have the clothes, I’ll borrow some of yours!” It was the same thing she’d already said, but the banter was at least keeping her from crying at the moment. Gen took small comfort in that, but this situation was already strange, and not being able to hit the ground running was infuriating.

“Already bagged!” Gen yelled back, her voice abruptly loud as the shower finally cut off. With a frustrated sigh and roll of her head, Gen continued her rant in a softer tone. “You have been in there for almost an hour!” she snapped again. The door opened, and Alex came out wrapped in a towel with another around her hair, and steam billowed out the door behind her. Catching Genevieve’s glare upon her, she cast her head down, and headed into the bedroom to borrow some clothes.

“You are certain none of it is yours.” Genevieve said, asking the question one more time, trying to make sure Alex wasn’t hiding anything. She moved across the room to a small table with two chairs, taking one that faced the bedroom door.

“Yes, I’ve checked.” the reply came quickly. “Holy crap!” she suddenly exclaimed.

“What!” Gen said, jumping up from the table.

“I have those EXACT same Jimmy Choos! I got them to go to this ball with a friend of a friend, and well of course I ended up having to pick him up, because his car was in the shop, but when I finally got there, he actually bought me this flower, and it totally clashed with what…”

“Alex.” Gen said firmly, returning to her seat.

“… huh? Oh, right.” Her tone dropped back into the sullen drone of a pouting child. “I told you. I went to this club with some girls from… school…” she said, emphasizing the word so Genevieve would realize she was referring to associates from the Trimagus Council, the governing body of magic practitioners Alex secretly belonged to. Favoring her privacy more then the public identity her family already held, Alex was very careful with how she chose her words, a trait she’d developed even more since leaving the Academy. “…and then I’m here at your office, wishing for nothing more then a shower.”

“You left out the part where you said you killed someone.” Gen snapped in reply as Alex stepped out of her bedroom, wearing a white long sleeve turtleneck and some old ripped blue jeans. She’d even stolen a pair of Gen’s pink socks, which had been given to her as a gift one Christmas. She didn’t wear pink. “And you can keep the socks.” Gen added flippantly.

“What did you say?” Alex asked, her voice careful.

“The socks. I never wear them, keep them.” Gen made a waving gesture.

“No, before that…” Alex tilted her head. “I don’t remember saying that.”
Her eyes started to fill with tears, and Gen knew Alex was scared.
Gen quirked an eyebrow. “Exactly how much did you have to drink again?”

“I told you, I was only starting my second. I told myself I’d go have two drinks, and then hang out before heading home. I had an… exam early this morning.” Then she shook her head. “Gonna miss that anyway.”


With a small huff, Alex walked over and pulled out the second chair, throwing herself into it. She leaned forward, throwing both elbows on the table as she propped her head up, pushing her hair from her face. “I just don’t…” she trailed off, trying to think, and Gen didn’t press her, allowing her a moment if it would help. A soft ringing sounded, and Gen shifted to fish her cell out of her pocket. The display read “Calico” and Gen hesitated, but one look across the table at Alex had her send it to voicemail. “Whatever it is, you can handle it for a bit.” she thought.

“You remember that first time you went and got wasted? You ended up spray painting symbols all over Maerik’s car.” Gen smiled a little, hoping the memory would jog others, or at least make Alex smile.

The latter turned out to be truer as Alex giggled weakly. “I would have done that sober, he ticked me off… again. Besides,” she added, “it was just paint, he has enough money for a new paint job.”

Gen shot her a wry glance. “You are leaving out the part where those symbols were arcane, and when he touched his car that morning it sprouted wings and flew south.”

Alex began laughing more at that. “Oh, I wish I would have seen that though. Not quite what I had intended, but funny nonetheless.”

Trying another tactic, Gen quickly followed the memories up to another question. “So, who did you kill last night?” Subtlety was not her preferred method of interrogation.

“Gen!” Alex huffed. She fell back against the chair and crossed her arms over her chest. “I went to the club, was on my second drink, and…” her voice trailed off and her eyes looked past Gen, clearly seeing something else entirely.

“We went out for food…” She squinted her eyes, trying to make something of the memory. “I remember pizza, and an old spellbook I had with me…” She shook her head again. “We went out, but I had to study, so I wasn’t drinking and…”

“Good, good… keep working on it.” Gen said, reaching across the table to lay a gentle hand on Alex’s arm. “It will come to you.” Standing, she got up and walked to the kitchen.

“And you are certain no one slipped anything into your drinks?”

“Pssh.” came Alex’s flippant reply. “Every girl knows you don’t take drinks from anyone you don’t know.”

Gen returned from the kitchen, setting down an empty coca-cola glass in front of her.

“Um, if you bring someone a drink, there should be stuff in the glass.” Alex snipped.

“I am uncertain you have not been drugged.” Genevieve said flatly. “And the best time to find that out is now, with a urine sample.”

“You want me to pee in a coke glass? Come on Gen.” Alex pleaded with her eyes, but Gen only narrowed her hazel orbs. “Fine, fine.” Alex snatched the glass off the table. “But you are so not telling anyone about this.” Gen smiled and nodded.

“While you are doing that, I am calling the police.” Gen said, turning to the phone. Alex practically leapt out of the chair next to her. “What?! No, no!” she said, grabbing Gen’s arm and spinning her around.

“Alex! This is a crime and you need to report it! We need to find out more.” Gen said, her tone authoritative, but Alex wasn’t buying it. With a slow breath, she looked at Gen.

“I didn’t go to the police, I came to a friend.” she said, her eyes beginning to fill with tears. “Please, only you can help me. There’s too much to risk, and people can’t know…”

Gen rolled her eyes and reached her arms out, while Alex smiled and stepped forward to give her best friend a hug.

“It is going to be one of those days.” Gen said lightly.

Chapter 3

“Oh boy, this is bad.”

The older looking man turned to regard the younger black man by his side curiously, his thick black eyebrows furrowed and his mustache twitching. “What, what is bad?” he said, his English slightly accented.

“The boss lady. Can’t get a hold of her.” Calico shook his head, the tan suit he sported framing his solid build, the top button of his blue shirt undone. He reached a hand to his head and scratched at the stubble at the bottommost of his close-cropped ebony hair. His brown eyes flickered over to his companion’s icy blue.

“This is a bad thing?” Cristos, the companion, questioned. His suit was blue, though he kept a complimentary shade of similar color in both his shirt and tie, emphasizing his piercing eyes and sharp features. His long black hair curled over his shoulders, and he rubbed a tracing hand over his mustache and down his beard. “She could be, um, out on the city.” he suggested.

“That’s ‘out on the town’ Fangs, and considering the boss hardly ever leaves the office these days, I highly doubt that.” With a dramatic glance to either side, he suddenly spun on the astonished Cristos, stepping close to the other man’s face and speaking in a soft whisper. “There could be foul play at hand.”

Calico held the other man’s gaze as he continued, playing up his game to tease Cristos. “She never leaves the office unless she’s on a case, and she hasn’t taken any on personally in weeks.” He began to pace in a circle around the other man, continuing his rambling. “I’ve called her office, no answer. Called her cell, no answer. Sent her an email, no answer.” He came back to face Cristos once more. “I’m telling ya, the boss never sleeps and is never unreachable unless she’s on a case, so…”

Cristos looked on astonished, as his mind tried to keep up. “So you try all these things and she has not returned your messages. This means she is on a case?” he ventured, uncertain. “But certainly she has been unreachable before?”

“Nope, never.” Calico said quickly, anticipating the question. “Girl’s like clockwork, and was never one to be burning daylight, such as it is.” He tilted his head, trying to decide if he should change the analogy since it was well after midnight, but decided it would suffice anyhow. “She’s out, or something is wrong.”

“I do not understand.” Cristos said. “She has been unreachable for all of what, a few hours since we last saw her? I was gone for many years and no one came looking for me.” He seemed genuinely puzzled.

“You’re dead dude, no one’s gonna go looking in coffins trying to find out which stiff is less stiff then the others. Besides,” he smirked a bit, “you didn’t go missing, you were being punished.” Calico finished, trying once more to trap the Spanish vampire behind his own words, but Cristos didn’t bite.

“I was being punished. In this, you are correct.” He nodded slowly. “But this talk is burning daylight, as you say.” He stepped forward and Calico moved with him, taking several steps before ducking under a line of police tape. Calico quickly pulled out a badge, and motioned behind him. “He’s with me.” he said, indicating Cristos. The officer nearest glanced at the badge and waved him by, but stepped closer and asked, “You’re a SCI guy? Is it true you’re all “PIs with Powers?”

Calico made a slight cringe, but it seemed the officer didn’t notice. “Not all of us, we just don’t discriminate.” He raised his eyebrows and nodded his head, looking to get out of the conversation, and the officer took the hint. As he moved back to the perimeter, Cristos looked askance at Calico.

“Not all of us? Is this the truth?”

“If you have any questions about me or SCI, talk to the boss lady.” Calico responded flatly. They continued moving, past an asphalt plain to a grassy knoll. As Calico glanced at the man’s body at his feet, he reached into a pocket and removed a pair of latex gloves. Snapping them on, he shot a gaze at the area around him, trying to ensure he had all the pieces of this puzzle before him. Cristos simply stood by, only here because of the agreement that held his new existence together.

“Vic’s name is Trevor Lewis,” a man announced, striding up to Calico easily in his no-frills black suit. A simple white button down went with the plain back tie, completing the look that marked him for what he was before getting to his face.

“Special Agent Hutchinson, how nice to see you.” Calico growled, not sparing the man a glance. He reached down and started moving the victim’s head around, examining the body. His hands trailed down to the man’s torn shirt, where the medical examiner had found cause. The wound was deep, but very wide. He could venture a few guesses, but…

“Marshal Weiland.” The nondescript man came to a halt several feet away, reaching a hand to adjust his tie. “This a civvie on my crime scene?” he asked, making a small gesture to Cristos, who simply tilted his head, studying the man.

“He’s one of SCI’s preternatural experts. Dr. Covas,” Cristos began, turning from his examination and standing. “This is Hutch.” he muttered, moving to dust off his knees.

“Special Agent Hutchinson, FBI.” the man corrected, his brown eyes darting to Calico in slitted scorn before extending a hand. “Cristos Juan Covas,” the vampire said, his accent more heavily pronounced, shaking hands. “What else can you tell us, Special Agent.” he continued, his accent slipping to a lesser timbre with the casual shift in conversation. Hutchinson raised an eyebrow, pulling a notepad from his front pocket and flipping it open. His eyes darted to the page, and Calico finally stood straight, looking interested.

“Well, twenty-five, second year arts major out of Loyola. Ran his prints through Aphis, got squat. Nice off his assailant to leave his ID on him.”

“His watch is still on too.” Calico interjected. “Wasn’t a mugging. Assume he had cash on him?”

“Fourty-two dollars and change.” Hutch nodded.

“Got a weapon yet?”

“Workin’ on it.” Hutchinson flipped back a page, then forward once more. “M.E. says its probably a knife, up under the ribcage.” He flipped the pad closed with a smooth gesture, and glared at Calico. “Dead body on the ground, you just happen to be in the area, and you don’t know anything? I’ve seen this before.” Tilting his head arrogantly, he smirked.

“Yeah.” Calico shot back. “Me and the good doctor here,” he nodded towards Cristos, “were just out for a night stroll, discussing his current contract with SCI. Seeing police tape and big pretty flashing lights at the campus a few blocks over, well,” he shrugged his shoulders, pulling one finger of his gloves in an exaggerated gesture, “just kinda piqued our curiosity.” The glove finally snapped out of his hand, slapping the other as he began to take it off a bit more casually.

“Boss would have our hides if there was some crazy unexplainable crap goin’ down and we weren’t on the scene.” Turning the second glove inside out with the first glove tucked within, he stuck them in his pocket. “How’s my alibi check out, Special Agent Hutchinson?” Calico let the name drawl out, as if the many syllables were the hardest thing to say.

“I’ll let you know.” he scowled back. “Tell your boss to expect a call from me.” Then he turned on his heels and strode away.

Calico smirked at the man’s back, before joking “I know she does so love your little chats, but I think you’re coming on just a little too strong.” Hutchinson’s spine straightened a bit as his steps wavered, but he kept walking.

Cristos turned to Calico, and muttered “Doctor?” The other man smirked a bit as he put his arm around the Spaniard, and they started walking back to SCI.

“Well, you are a professional on at least one supernatural subject.” As Cristos grinned, now realizing that it wasn’t quite a lie, he asked another question. “Okay, this is half-truth. But why did that man call you Marshal Weiland?”

Calico grinned all the wider, brilliant white teeth set off by dusky skin. “Because on bad days, he has to call me ‘Sir’.”

Chapter 4

Genevieve looked at the screen on her PDA, trying to reconstruct Alex’s night. “You left around 10pm, grabbed some pizza around 10:30 near the campus down the street, and you showed up downstairs at my office about 3 am…” She tapped a stencil to her chin, thinking aloud. “This leaves about four hours accounted for, Alex.”

The girl in question got up and stepped around Gen, glancing at her PDA over her shoulder. She flipped her brunette wave away with one hand, ridding herself of the strands separating the two. “So this is how you investigate crimes and make it big in the world, huh? Impressive.” Gen looked up at her, slightly puzzled but pleased.

“Restating the obvious and playing with your date book.” Alex wiggled her eyebrows, and backed away with a giggle.

“Noooo…” Gen began, her tone one of sarcastic humor. “We gather evidence, put together theories,” then Gen winked at Alex. “And we get to play with some neat toys.” Her tone took on one of mocking excitement, and Alex’s smile grew wide to match.

“So just where were you?” Gen said, keeping the tone going.

“I told you, I don’t know-ho.” Alex replied. She walked back around the table, looking at her clothes that Gen had placed into plastic bags. “You know, I bought these shoes like a month ago, and just got around to wearing them? It’s a shame there’s mud on them now.” She furrowed her brow, and Gen quirked an eyebrow before speaking.

“But other then the mud, they look brand new.” She flicked her gaze to the simple white tennis shoes, emblazoned with a pink logo. “So you got them muddy, but you have not moved enough to scuff them anywhere. You did not walk here.” She stated, tilting her head and glancing back at Alex. “How did you get around today, anyhow?”

Alex blushed slightly, and Gen read that as embarrassment. “Well, I met some people on a networking site, and decided I had some free time to take a ‘short trip’…” she air-quoted, looking at Gen. Her friend simply nodded, knowing Alex had other means of travel that made long distances only ‘short trips’.

“..and I did mean to call, but I was pressed for time, and thought I might come back after the exam.” She looked at Gen then, and Gen dismissed the look with a wave. Alex had nothing to apologize for, and Gen just wanted to get to the bottom of this mess.

“I took a taxi to the campus to meet up. We hit a club a few blocks down, I remember that…” She lost herself in thought for a moment. “You know, when I left the club, we went out for pizza… I had $22 dollars on me.” She grabbed one of the bags on the desk, pulling her wallet out to search. “Now I have $8.”

“So you took a cab here then.” Gen immediately started punching information into her PDA, never doubting Alex's memory for money as Alex moved to the couch behind her, happy that she’d provided something useful. Gen started punching up the log books for the three major cab companies in the area, and then screened those for the time period she needed.

“I’ve got one that fits the time frame.” she said, tapping a few more times on her PDA. “Fee matches at least, so that’s a start.” Genevieve turned in her chair, and then smiled softly.

Behind her, Alex had fallen fast asleep on the couch, curled up on her side. “Yeah, I bet you have had a long day.” Gen said out loud, knowing if her earlier talk hadn’t woken her friend, nothing further would. Instead, she decided to follow up on her lead. Standing from the table, she grabbed her keys off the hook near the door, and then grabbed her coat. Striding to her bedroom to slip into shoes once more, she grabbed up a small blanket from the foot of her bed.

Returning, she snapped it in the air and let it drape over Alex. “Siete un buon amico. I shall do what I can.” With that small gesture, Gen turned and headed out, to her car and the campus in question that just produced her latest lead.

Chapter 5

As she turned at hit her office door, Gen thought about the little she had to go on. Placing Alex at the campus once more could have left her alone enough for whatever to have occurred… and if she’d come straight to SCI, she’d been thinking at least slightly clearly… Gen shook her head as she shook out the key to her top drawer, grabbing her U.S. Marshal badge with her SCI identification. Her status with the Marshal’s was still relatively new, but it gave her more discretion in following leads wherever they took her, and the requirements ensured she kept herself sharp. She’d even encouraged a few of her other employees to apply, as the new laws pertaining to metahumans required a bit more legwork some days.

As she placed the badge in the pocket of her trench coat, she noticed her desk phone flashing red. “What now?” she thought, leaning over to answer it when a sharp rap on her door stopped her.

“No need.” Calico said, striding in with the grace she guessed was his namesake. Behind him came Cristos, a bit more woodenly, though Gen had seen him move both speedily and gracefully when the situation called for it.

Gen relaxed her reach and turned towards the new arrivals, crossing her arms across her chest. “Oh?” she raised a sculpted black eyebrow over a light green iris. “So to which of your admiring fans do I owe this message then?” Calico was more trouble then he was worth, somedays… the problem was, other days he was worth all that and more.

“Your old buddy Hutch at the FBI. Think he saves all those tape recordings of you and listens to them at night.” he teased, collapsing onto a black leather couch along one wall. Cristos moved to the opposite side, remaining standing while obstinately studying the certifications and artwork on her wall.

“Well you two are in before sunrise.” Genevieve began, turning and taking a seat behind her desk. “So what happened.” Her tone was flat, even though she was impatient.

“Went and took the old man out for a moonlight stroll.” Calico flipped, and out of the corner of her eye Gen caught Cristos’ nod. “Couple blocks down at the campus, we saw lights and tape. Figured we’d chat up the local LEOs and see if any ghosts needed busting.” He leaned forward, snagging an apple from a bowl at the low table before him. His other hand suddenly held a short knife, and Gen’s eyes narrowed. “Either his lower back, or along his right forearm, concealing the movement with the reach for the apple…” The movement was perfectly executed, and she knew Calico did it purely for her entertainment, but she didn’t feel like taking the bait today.

“So any jurisdiction?” she asked, knowing Calico’s assessment would be good. Still, she’d made the connection between the campus, the body, and Alex, but wasn’t about to say anything until she could find more evidence to exonerate her friend.

“Nah, doesn’t look like our kinda scene.” Calico replied, slicing off a piece and stuffing it into his mouth, where he decided to chew loudly.

“What are you, five?” Gen asked, only getting a big cheesy grin in return.

“You leave out the part where Special Agent Hutchinson called you Marshal Weiland.” Cristos called offhandedly, bending a bit to stare at a picture in a frame.

Gen glanced back at Calico, whose grin slipped slightly. “Twaitor,” he mumbled with a mouthful of apple.

“If you wanted his loyalty, you should not have hidden behind me while I pulled the stake out.” she commented flippantly. “Another alias?” she asked, giving him an almost bored stare.

Calico hurried to chew, finally taking a big swallow. “Uh yeah boss, and in answer to your next question,” he smiled a bit in anticipation, but Gen only narrowed her eyes further. “You won’t find anything past five years or so.”

“You knew of his deception?” Cristos asked, suddenly turning, intent on the conversation.

Genevieve ignored him. “Arizona?” she asked, and Calico nodded solemnly.

She shook her head. “I do not have time for this today. A friend is visiting, and I need to go get food for dinner.” She stood from her desk and started out.

“Oh? A friend? Like a guy friend?” Calico asked, teasing.

“A friend like ‘you value your life more then this information’ friend.” Gen said in reply, not breaking stride.

“Oh, so it’s a girl. I’m down with that.” Calico said with a wide smile.

Gen stopped at the doorway. “Take Cristos back downstairs. You stay here and take the morning shift.” Then she turned and walked out, leaving Cristos sputtering.

“But, it’s not yet sunrise, I still have a little time!” he whined.

“You heard the lady. Back in your hole, traitor.” Calico said, standing. Cristos rolled his eyes, but stepped forward smoothly and, glancing to the lobby, instead headed to the stairs. Calico chuckled, thinking the vampire’s fear of elevators amusing, but chose not to comment on it at the moment. Instead, he leaned forward at the door and swiped the keycard he carried, then replaced it with his badge. As Cristos grabbed the door and headed down, Calico pulled the door closed, then stepped down the stairs behind him.

“She’s working on something.” he commented.

“It would seem so.” Cristos agreed, stopping to stroke his mustache thoughtfully before continuing his descent.

Chapter 6

She waited until she was a block away, choosing to walk in the warm spring sunshine, then dialed a phone number she’d had memorized for almost a decade. “Hey.” she said softly to the voice on the other end. “I need everything you can dig up on the Loyola Campus case. Yeah, as quick as possible.” She hit the button on her phone to end the call, and slipped it back into her pocket. She stood there for a while, letting the new day soak into her skin. Calico and Cristos would be below ground by now, so she turned and headed back into the building, stepping into the elevator and swiping her card before hitting the button for the third floor.

Impatient, she tapped her foot as the elevator rose. There were still too many unanswered questions, and she hated trying to make assessments from such broad speculation. She reached a hand into her coat pocket, the other reason she’d swung by the office. Her fingertips brushed the slender vial, one of a similar, larger kit she usually carried on crime scenes. She’d had to sit behind her desk briefly to snag it without notice, but she truly believed neither Cristos nor the ever-observant Calico caught it.

The elevator slid to a halt, and the small chime sounded as the doors parted. She stepped out and strode down the hall with a purpose, tapping her fingernails against the vial still. As she reached the door to the suite she kept there, she bent at the waist and opened her left eye wide, letting the retina scanner next to the door do it’s work. Of course, she knew such things were fallible, but better safe then sorry.

The door locks clicked, and she turned the handle and entered the small apartment. The lights were dimmed, and the daylight was shining through the windows. Alex still lay fast asleep on the couch, now with the blanket tight around her, oblivious to the new day. Shaking her head, Gen put her keys on the hook next to the door and moved over to the table to examine Alex’s clothes once more.

Taking the vial from her pocket, she cracked the tip, then flipped it over and extracted a small q-tip, now coated with a neat chemical that let her test stains… which she immediately applied, reaching into the bag with Alex’s shift and rubbing it gently on the blood. She pulled it out after a moment, flipping it over and furrowing her brow as it turned blue.

“Porca vacca.” she swore lightly in Italian.

Genevieve was looking over the preliminary reports that were faxed over a few hours later, when Alex sleepily mumbled something from behind her. Gen shot a look in her direction without turning, just mumbling “What?” in response.

“I said whattimeisit?” Alex slurred, obviously still in need of more sleep.

“A bit after nine, why.” Gen replied, hearing Alex shift around on the couch.

“Man, I’m missing that exam!” Alex shouted, jumping up from the couch and dashing into Gen’s bedroom.

“Um.” Gen redirected her attention to the ceiling, fighting a smile. “Do you not think there are more important events to attend to today?”

Alex reappeared in the doorway, looking almost defeated. “Oh. Yeah, I guess so.” she said, slinking over to the couch.

“Besides, you need all the sleep you can get before-” Gen stopped, cutting herself off.

“Before what Gen?” Alex asked carefully.

Gen sighed, and dropped her head to look at her friend. “You should know. I tracked the taxi, but others had already done some of the work for me.” She closed and tapped the file in front of her. “The driver’s log puts you at Loyola at the time we pegged it, and… a few of my guys were passing by the scene. The FBI was there investigating a homicide. A man is dead.” Her face was grim, and Alex’s healthy color dropped from her face, the pallor now a mirror to Gen’s own.

“He’s… dead…” Alex stuttered. “But I mean, there’s still a chance, it could be animal blood -”

Genevieve shook her head, reaching nearby to hold up the q-tip, now colored blue. “Sorry Alex, but I know the blood is human.” She tapped the file again, before reclining in her seat a little. “The M.E.’s report is in there as well. The victim, Trevor -”

“Trevor Lewis.” Alex said, her eyes wide. Genevieve stopped, watching Alex for a moment, but when nothing else proved forthcoming, she continued.

“Mr. Lewis was stabbed sometime around 2am, which lines up with when you arrived here.”

“I…” Alex began, tears forming in her eyes. She turned and darted across the living room to the bedroom, and Gen heard the door shut with a slam. She shook her head, and took a moment before she got up and crossed the space herself, knocking lightly on the bedroom door. The only answer was tearful sobbing.

“Alex.” Gen called gently but firmly. “I can not help you if you will not talk to me.” She turned and reclined against the door, fighting the urge to bust in. She wanted to give Alex time, but time was also crucial to any investigation. She started tapping a finger against her side idly, every second that passed threatening to break her calm. Luckily, Alex’s breathing seemed to come more regularly after a minute, and Gen realized she was trying to calm herself. Buying her time, Gen pushed off from the door and stepped into the kitchen, snatching something from the fridge before coming back to tap on the door again.

“Alex, I am going to come in.” she said, before reaching for the handle and opening the door. Alex sat hunched over on the bed, her shuddering misery afloat against a sea of dark blue silk. Gen only hesitated a moment, a look of true pity on her face, before taking the small steps to the bed, wear she sat lightly next to her friend.

“Here.” she muttered, pushing a small plastic bowl of mixed fruits towards Alex. It briefly elicited a smile, as Alex gratefully took the offering. They sat in silence a while, Alex occasionally picking at fruit and sniffling, while Gen hunched over on her elbows, steepling her fingers and generally keeping still.

“We went out a few times.” Alex ventured a short time later. She sniffled, tears threatening to stop her before she began, but she fought and closed her eyes to maintain control. Gen didn’t move, giving her friend the privacy of her grief.

When the silence stretched, Gen prompted her softly. “And…?” Alex sniffed, and opened her eyes, the honey-brown steeling as she fought her emotions. “And that’s when I found out he was also seeing this other girl we hung out with…” She shook her head, a warm wave of auburn falling to hide her face. She looked up then, and Gen turned her head to regard Alex coolly.

“And I kinda mighta threatened to kill him once or twice…” she looked sheepish as Gen’s eyes widened. “Maybe three times?” she continued, slightly shrinking away from Gen as the other girl’s look grew frustrated. But it wasn’t frustration, it was recall, and Gen was putting together other pieces.

“Is this the same man you were dating last year?” she asked, curious and remembering some snippets of conversation from about that time, and how frustrated and upset Alex was over the whole thing. Of course, Gen had little clue about the details, and was only offering support at the time, but she was still surprised she hadn’t thought of it earlier. “I thought you did not really like him?” she asked.

Alex let out a small sigh, hunching her shoulders again. “Well, what did you expect me to say? I really liked this guy and he dumped me for a skanky cheerleader?” Her tone hardened, and Gen watched her eyes flick off to the side, recalling a memory of another time. “Look, I didn’t mean to say I was going to kill him! It’s just one of those things you say, you know?” Her eyes were innocent and pleading, and even if Gen hadn’t known the kind heart sitting next to her, she’d have believed her.

“I know.” Gen replied. “As long as no one heard you say it, it will not matter anyhow.” Alex flinched and hung her head, causing Gen to roll her eyes and mutter, “You did only say such things…?”

“Well…” Alex began, “I might have emailed them.”

Gen smirked a little, even though the situation was getting worse. “Once or twice or…”

“Three times, yeah.” Alex mumbled. “But it’s just one of those things you say! I didn’t mean it I swear.”

“I believe you Alex.” Gen replied, eyes wide. “But you know we are going to have to turn you over eventually.” She reached out and placed her hand on Alex’s back, a gesture of sympathy. “This has already gone on too long, and we-”

“But Gen, I haven’t done anything wrong!” Alex snapped, once again hurt and on the defensive.

“You do not remember what you did.” Genevieve said, a touch harshly, her slight annoyance at the situation leaking through. “I do not like the implications any more then you do, but I have to consider other things, and the more we delay…” Gen shrugged, taking no comfort in the next fact, “the worse your chances become.”

Alex wasn’t happy, and her face showed it clearly. “You think I could have done this.” She stated it as a fact, and watched Gen’s reaction carefully. Genevieve let little slip, but her eyes narrowed for a fraction of a second, and Alex screamed in frustration.

“Look Alex, you were drinking, and you have no memory of what happened! It could have been self-defense, whatever, but I cannot rule anything out yet!” Gen snapped back, her growing impatience finally venting itself.

“I can say you did not do this if you can honestly swear you did not do it.” Gen said then, and Alex stopped in mid-movement, shocked and lost in the thought. Genevieve took a step over and grabbed her arm.

“What, are you going to arrest me now?” Alex snapped, pulling her arm away, instantly angry once more.

“Alex, no, I just… look…” Gen stumbled, struggling for words. It was a rare moment, and Alex watched in shock as her friend actually tried to form a coherent thought. With a rapid blink, Gen stopped talking and looked away, turning fully then and walking out to the kitchen. “Just let me grab…” Lost in thought, she missed what her ears caught, low words spoken in hurried calm, the spidery language now making her skin crawl with goosebumps.

Spinning in place, Genevieve dashed back towards the bedroom. “Wait, Alex!” she shouted,
She’d been around Alex’s magic before, but it always had the same effect. Other mages had had different feelings to their power, but none were entirely comfortable to experience. There was a cascading shower of blue-white sparks falling from a point just over Alex’s head, and as her voice neared a crescendo, the sparks completely obscured her from sight.

Then they stopped, and she was gone.

“Be careful.” Gen whispered in the sudden emptiness.

Chapter 7

Genevieve grabbed the file and headed downstairs to her office, partially to look into some other angles and partially to relieve Calico, who was never much a fan of being behind a desk. As she crossed the main lobby with it’s distant rows of cubicles serving as small sections for teams, she noted one head in particular she’d been anticipating for a short time. With a dramatic sigh and a roll of her eyes, she continued her march across the office, knowing he’d look over.

And when he did, she crooked a finger in his direction without looking behind, and he darted up and fell into step behind her.

“On yer six boss.” Calico snapped with military precision, his pace a comforting rhythm behind hers.

“Anything pressing at the moment?” Genevieve pushed open the door to her office and strode through, the file in her hand hitting her desk with a soft thwack shortly after.

“Not much static on the radio today.” He threw himself into one of the two chairs in front of her desk while she settled in behind it, tapping her spacebar to wake up her computer.

“Metro PD had another homicide, nothing of our nature has turned up yet. Had another Resurrection Mary report, though the Historical Society still has her case tied up in court, so everyone’s hands are tied.” He shook his head, a small smile on his face. “Never thought I’d see ghosts being considered historically significant. I mean, sure she’s been around since the 1930’s, and she’s supposed to be pretty hot for a dead chick,” Gen flicked her gaze from the monitor to Calico, and he sat up a bit straighter. “Uh, right. A devil baby report from Cook County, Wallace and Dwyer are following up on that… and whatever it is you happen to be working on and trying to hide from us, of course.” he said smoothly.

If she had any reaction to his tone, she didn’t show it under his dark brown stare. “You are assuming I tell you much of anything.” Genevieve’s voice was a level monotone, two parts bored and one part distracted. Her fingers danced along the keys, her hazel eyes jumping side to side as she read off the screen.

“Well I don’t think I’m the reason Special Agent Bradford is up in SIMTAC with the Director.” Calico said under his breath, his head dropping slightly as he scrutinized her further. Gen’s eyes darted involuntarily up and left, in the direction of the second floor tactics room. Calico noted the movement, but saved it for later. “And you know FBI means Hutch is here hanging out at my desk and stealing my MnMs, so.” He looked genuinely irritated by the thought, and a slight smile crossed her lips.

Genevieve tapped at the keys for a few moments more, then stopped and leaned back in her chair. “So that means I should be expecting a call from the Director right about,” her voice trailed off as she glanced over at her office phone, which rang obligingly.

She held a finger to her lips quickly, and then picked up the phone. “Spettro.” The voice on the other end was male, and the tone was one used to being in charge. “Yes sir.” she said after a short moment, moving to hang up the phone.

“Gee, could that have been…” Calico cut himself off as Genevieve turned to glare at him. “Shutting up now, boss.” He said, moving his eyes to the ceiling and dropping all expression from his face, still as a statue.

Genevieve continued to glare at him, though there was a trace of amusement behind her hazel eyes. She stood from the desk, stepping around it and heading out. “Calico!” she called as she passed him, and he once again fell in behind her. “Take Hutchinson down to the forensics lab. I have a meeting in SIMTAC.” Calico wore a puzzled look on his face as they moved out of the office and into the building proper, before breaking off and heading for the large, cubical section that held four desks, one of which had a certain FBI agent sitting behind it.

As Gen rounded the stairs that led to the secured second level, she caught a snatch of conversation between Calico and Hutch, which left her smirking and Hutch apparently considering just how uncomfortable it would be to have an MnM stuck there before he leapt out of the seat and Calico took it back. With the speed of a striking snake, Calico pulled another MnM out of the candy dish at his desk before launching it at the back of Hutchinson’s head…

Genevieve turned the corner and continued up the stairs to the sounds of sputtered protest, but the levity was quickly evaporating. She made the landing and walked past the large black letters on the wall that spelled out ‘SIMTAC’ with the acronym broken down underneath, Special Investigation of Metahuman Threat Alert Center. It was unwieldy, but that particular name wasn’t supposed to be attached to the finished project… At the huge metal doors, bending slightly to activate the retinal scanner and let herself in, she reflected upon the events that had led here, as she’d known they would, and exactly what she was to say next.

“Director.” she said simply, stepping down the ramp a moment later. The room was large, with a massive display screen taking up the far wall. Along either edge were several smaller monitors, displaying events and people under surveillance all around the world, and alongside either wall were other banks of monitors, tech and notably, people. Three now hustled at various stations, operating under whatever orders the Director relayed that day. She came to a halt near the middle of the room, completely comfortable here. Behind her were the rows of movie-theatre seating chairs used when briefing larger teams, but all were empty now. Two other men were in the room, one right before the monitors, his silver hair the only indicator she needed to mark the Director as he faced the screen. Behind his profile, illuminated by the glow from the screens, stood Special Agent Daniel Bradford of the FBI, his balding palate also grey but shot with darker streaks almost as a reminder that there was once color. His pale green eyes warmed when they saw her, but his face remained serious, and his tone was stoic as he greeted her.

“Marshal Spettro, nice of you to attend.” he said, his voice cooly professional.

“Special Agent Bradford.” Gen replied with the same detached calm. “So what can we at SCI do for the FBI?” As she finished speaking, she turned towards the Director, expecting him to speak next.

“The FBI would like to know why Marshal Weiland and… Doctor Covas,” he began, leaving the subtle implications unsaid, “were on their crime scene at Loyola yesterday.” The Director kept his eyes focused on the screen before him, watching whatever surveillance he’d deemed a priority at that time. Genevieve only vaguely recognized the face he was obsessing over, but she knew the man had a private score he might be wanting to settle, and soon, so she ignored it and focused on the case at hand instead.

“The Marshal and doctor were actually off the clock.” she replied. “They entered the crime scene to see if anyone needed our particular brand of assistance.” She turned and eyed Bradford then. “Why is the FBI even interested in two SCI agents who were on the scene less then five minutes?” she asked suspiciously.

“We have a witness that states they saw a young woman leaving the scene shortly before the body was discovered.” Bradford said. “A couple of cameras in the campus parking lot gave us a few pictures, though the images were blurred, but our system has turned up nothing.” He arched an eyebrow. “So that means she’s not a criminal, and…”

“You think she’s a metahuman, off the grid so she doesn’t compromise her identity?” Gen said flatly, knowing what the man had left unspoken. It was more and more commonly known now that many metahumans led dual lives, trying not to let their powers complicate their normal lives. Genevieve respected the idea, in theory, and that was partially why she had been one of the three people interested in starting SCI; Genevieve herself considered it almost a neutral territory, an Embassy to Metahumans. This of course led to many other complications, which was why she was still an agent and not the Director.

“Yes, we do.” Bradford finished. “We’ve sent over our findings on the case, and were hoping you could help us track her down and take her into custody.”

“Just because she might be a metahuman.” Gen quipped.

“Because she was at the scene of the crime, Spettro.” Agent Bradford spat right back.

“So in the interests of everyone,” the Director’s smooth voice interjected, “I’ve volunteered SCI’s help in a joint investigation. You’re to cooperate with the FBI fully in this matter.”

The silence stretched a moment as Genevieve and Agent Bradford stared at each other. “Well, this should be great fun.” Genevieve said finally with a sigh. She turned and started walking out of the room then, when the Director called out.

“Spettro, a word.”

His tone once again was one of authority, and she stopped mid-stride and turned around. Bradford turned to the Director and bowed slightly. “Thank you sir.” He turned to Gen then, nodded, and left.

When the sound of the entry doors came to their ears, the Director continued. “Something on your mind Genevieve?” he asked, his tone a touch lighter then previously, but still steel masked in velvet. “I know when the Feds show up, something is happening. Old but not senile yet, and all.” He never once took his eyes from the monitor, and this left Gen replying to his back.

“No sir,” she began. “But the Feds have never had metahumans as a priority. Hell,” she swore, “they treat us like terrorists.” A little bit of heat leaked into that statement, but the Director well knew her frustrations. Gen shook her head. “They just never seem to have our best interests in mind, or at least not like they would if their suspects were human.”

“Is that all?”


He dropped his head, not turning from the screen but apparently thinking of the right words. “If you needed something, you’d come to me wouldn’t you?” His tone worried her a bit, but she couldn’t quite place why.

“Of course sir?” she said, puzzled. “If I needed you.” The answer seemed satisfactory, as the Director moved his gaze back to the monitor before him.

“Alright.” he said simply. Gen nodded and turned to leave, but hesitated, and instead stopped and moved her eyes to the screen. “Sir?” she asked.


She studied the screen further, thinking she had an idea of what he was working on, and not liking it. “Could the same be said for you?”

The Director chuckled then, a deep, throaty sound that almost breathed warmth and life.

Chapter 8

On her way back through the office, she caught Special Agent Bradford at the elevators. A few heads poked up from desks, anticipating the exchange that was to come, and Genevieve didn’t disappoint.

“You Feds must be sorely understaffed,” she said a touch too loudly, drawing even more glances from those working the desks nearby. The heat in her voice was evident, and as she strode over next to him she slapped the button going down, even though it had already been pressed. “Coming to us to do your dirty work now, Bradford?” His brow furrowed, and his eyes became slits as he watched her rant.

“Well if the little poster child for metahuman affairs has a problem with the government,” he began, matching her fiery intensity with the icy calm of his own raised tone, “I suggest you take it up with your congressman. I have cases to solve.” The elevator chimed, and as the doors parted both entered, Gen shouldering past Bradford and hitting the button before the man even had more then a leg through.

“Cases you are using us to finish, while taxpayers are thinking their government is actually doing something!” she shot back as the elevator doors closed. Many of those eavesdropping exchanged quick smirks all around, before settling back into their desks. They loved it when ‘their girl’ stood up to the Feds and made her thoughts known to them, just as they all wished they could do sometimes.

Inside the elevator, the two stared daggers at each other, when Genevieve hit the elevator’s stop button, setting a small alarm ringing and stopping the car. The lights dimmed in response, but she could still see more then clearly with her abilities, and she doubted Bradford had any trouble.

Genevieve’s irritation seemed to melt away, and her face relaxed as she stared at the man before her. “Why are you here, Daniel?” she asked, her tone soft but rushed.

“Well when you ask for a file on a case I just happened to have set in front of me seconds before, it piques my interest.” he replied, his own tone completely devoid of its own previous venom. He shrugged, the small gesture never creasing his suit for a second.

“Not a big fan of coincidence?” Gen quipped lightly.

“Considering you don’t yourself, I find it hard to believe you’d think I would.” he retorted. She grinned slightly, and he warmed as well, smirking.

“I need twenty-four hours, Daniel.” Gen said suddenly, her face more serious. She crossed her arms and leaned backward against the elevator wall.

“Twenty-four hours?” Agent Bradford repeated. “To find the girl?” he asked.

“Nope.” Gen said, adding smoothly, “Already got her.”

Agent Bradford looked astonished for the briefest moment, before narrowing his eyes in thought. “But you’re not formally holding her, so… you think she’s innocent.” He made the statement matter-of-fact, assuming that since he couldn’t think of any other reason she wasn’t already in custody that Genevieve hadn’t bothered to arrest her.

“I think…” Gen began, her eyes flicking to the floor then back to him with a resigned shrug, “No. I know she did not do this. Could not have.” She shook her head. “But I need time to prove it.”

“I’m honestly not sure I can delay that long.” Bradford replied, raising a hand to scratch his chin where new stubble itched. “You already have our file on the case,” he said, and Genevieve nodded. “You think your team can come up with some answers mine haven’t?” he asked with genuine interest.

“I know they can.” Gen smirked, her tone serious but light.

Bradford made a non-committal grunt, and took a deep breath, slowly exhaling. “This must be someone special. I hope your trust isn’t misplaced.”

“Not a chance.” Gen said. “She is a hero, but under the radar. Anything made public could have serious repercussions for her family.” she finished simply.

“Alright, I’ll see what I can do. But what’s my share?”

“Oh, credit for the case for starters.” Gen smiled. “Should be another bump up towards your next promotion.” With the bait set, she just had to wait…

“And after twenty-four hours?” Bradford asked, still suspicious.

“I will get her to surrender herself to your custody, provided,” she pushed off the wall and took a step forward, emphasizing her next point, “that you keep her name out of any written records and unattached to the case.” She’d already planned on as much, but it was still fun to see him consider it.

Another moment passed, and he nodded. “Done.” he said simply, and Gen flipped the switch to send the elevator back on its path down.

“Did you get that bottle of merlot I sent over?” she asked, changing the subject.

“Oh yeah!” he laughed. “Courier showed up just as we were leaving for dinner. Jill was giddy that it was from the year we were married. It made a great anniversary gift, thanks.” He smiled at her warmly, and she patted his shoulder.

“She is a good woman, and such things need to be celebrated.” Gen said, smiling as the elevator slowed.

“She keeps me honest, and that’s saying a lot for a man in my position.” He grinned as the elevator chime sounded, then the doors began to open, and both put their game faces back on.

“Showtime, you sniveling worm.” Gen said caustically.

“Lead the way, corporate poster child.” Daniel quipped right back, and they exited the elevator, taking the short hallway down to a large door that read prominently, ‘Forensics’.

Chapter 9

The door opened to a loud metal track, and Calico quickly shifted from his leaning position on one large metal table to his feet as Gen and Daniel entered. A few feet away, a disturbed looking Hutch took hateful glances at Calico while his eyes danced back to SCI’s resident forensic scientist, Dr. Karen Fodyr.

Gen strode over to the slender woman, Agent Bradford just a step behind. “Got anything for me, Kari?” Gen asked as she approached. At her side, Bradford corrected, “Us.” Genevieve turned narrowed hazel eyes in his direction, but her met her irritation with stone cold calm, and she let it go.

The woman continued tapping a foot and moving slightly to the discordant music streaming from a small stereo across the room. Her delicate face was masked behind huge, dark rimmed glasses that added to her impish, mischievous appearance. Her dark red hair was pulled back in a tight ponytail, and once again Genevieve thought she looked far younger then her thirty-something years.

Kari spun away from the many smaller monitors before her, the white lab coat she seemingly never took off billowing out as she twirled. Her hands came up immediately as she started talking in a rapid, but happily-light tone. “Hey Genners! That file was full of stuff you probably already know: Trevor Lewis was stabbed once, C.J.,” she continued, using her pet name for Cristos, “has the body down in the morgue. But!” she exclaimed suddenly, bouncing on her heels as she held her hands up dramatically, “There was more then one body found on the scene!”

Genevieve and Agent Bradford exchanged glances, while Calico suddenly looked slightly more interested behind them, and Agent Hutchinson just shifted nervously. Gen turned her questioning gaze back to Kari, who stood silently smiling like a child with a secret. Genevieve simply raised an eyebrow, and Kari looked suddenly disappointed.

“What, no drumroll?” she exclaimed sadly. Obligingly, Calico started tapping his hands in rhythm upon the table next to him, and Kari immediately brightened again. Genevieve just rolled her eyes.

As Calico’s drumbeats came to a crescendo, Kari bowed her head slightly in his direction, and then held up her hands again, pointing both fingers at Gen. “The FBI mentioned offhandedly finding some dead goldfish nearby, and one of them actually had the sense to bag em and tag em, so I requested they be brought over too! So then I did a Goldfish Autopsy! My first autopsy! Can you believe it!” Kari had an audience, and was rambling in story teller mode. “I only wish I had like a really tiny autopsy kit, cuz it would have been sooo cute-,”

“Kari.” Gen said.

“Right, so.” Kari recovered quickly. “Guess what killed the poor fishies?”

Gen squinted, thinking past the obvious while Calico, now able to contribute with everyone on the same page, said, “Asphyxiation? Suffocation?” Hutch added, “Overfeeding?” Kari just shook her head, and caught the eyes of Gen and Agent Bradford as she turned and tapped some keys on her keyboard, bringing up photos of a dissected goldfish and some diagrams.

“These fish,” Kari began dramatically, “were poisoned!” she said with mock horror in her voice. Genevieve’s eyes narrowed even more as she questioned that. “Poisoned?” she echoed.

“Yup.” Kari continued. “Nicotine poisoning.” she added, wiggling her eyebrows.

“But how did the nicotine get into the fish?” Agent Bradford questioned, the first to state what was on every one's mind.

“Dunno, I just give you all the results.” Kari said, spinning her attention back to the computers before her.

“Nice work Kari.” Genevieve replied, spinning and turning away, Bradford looking curious but following immediately. Kari smiled brightly, turning to share it with Calico and the puzzled looking Hutch. As Gen and Bradford hit the door, Calico’s cell phone rang. He snagged it out of his pocket with ease, checking the display and hitting a button. “Nice work Kari.” he echoed, bowing his head to her and earning an even bigger smile, before spinning and snatching Hutch by his elbow. “Come on Hutch, let’s leave the lady to her work.” Hutch wiggled out of the grasp, shooting an embarrassed look to Kari over his shoulder as they walked out.

Then she turned, grabbed a nearby remote, and turned the stereo up. Crime never stopped, and she had plenty of work to do yet… and plenty of music to listen to while she did.

Chapter 10

“I’m afraid I don’t have much to add to the initial report Ms. Spettro.” Cristos said, stroking his black mustache that was shot with gray. It was still strange to Gen, seeing him here in the morgue. When she and Calico had awoken him, it had taken a month before they would even let Cristos out of the secured room they’d put him in. As Cristos continued to show seemingly absolute control and pose no threat to those who didn’t threaten him, Gen had let the leash grow longer, deciding that if Cristos was going to stay, he should at least pull his weight.

The problem was, the skills of someone asleep for a century weren't exactly resume material, and it took some brainstorming before Cristos himself suggested an idea, based off something Genevieve had told him about SCI operations. They did have bodies to examine often enough, and the old M.E. they had retained was looking more and more like he’d truly retire, so Cristos was brought in and left to prove himself. Within six months, he was familiar with the paperwork and much of the terminology, and coupled with his own familiarity with death, quickly certified his knowledge with the help of some paperwork well placed and pushed through by Gen and Calico.

His official position here was still relatively new, but Genevieve found that she rather enjoyed the arraignment. It had helped fill a niche position on her team, and Cristos got to work mostly by himself, with only the dead (who he couldn’t hurt either way). She had to admit, he’d caught on quickly, and as Cristos had said himself, “Death never changes. Only how people kill.”

Cristos had continued detailing the basics while Genevieve had drifted out, but something he’d just said caught her attention and dragged her back into the moment. “All of his earlier history shows a fine, upstanding young man. There was no other trauma other than the entry wound, no DNA under the fingernails.” He turned to regard her, leaving her with his conclusion. “He may have been surprised, or…”

“He knew his attacker.” she guessed, receiving a slow nod in confirmation. She frowned, her brow furrowed in thought. This was looking worse and worse for her friend, and Genevieve was running out of options. “Thanks Cristos.” she said simply, turning and heading out the door. Agent Bradford stayed behind, asking Cristos a few more questions, but only confirmed what they already knew.

Outside in the hall and heading for the elevator, Genevieve pulled out her cell phone. With two keystrokes, she put the call through and held the phone to her ear as she entered the elevator. The phone rang once, then halfway through the second was answered. “Alex? You alright?” Gen said immediately. The voice on the other end was hesitant, surprised. “Um, Genners, that you?” Kari said on the other end.

“…Kari.” Genevieve whispered. Porca vacca.

“Why are you calling the dead guy?” Kari asked, genuinely curious.

“I did not mean to.” Gen replied, adding, “And now I have to go see the Director.” With a sigh, she hung up the phone, leaving Kari hanging on the other end as the elevator ascended.

The doors opened to the second floor, and Genevieve found herself staring into the aged grey eyes of the Director. His short gray hair was styled conservatively, and his face was clean-shaven with military precision, the strong lines of many hard years etched into it. With just a glance at her, he entered the elevator and she lingered while he pressed the button, sending the elevator back down. The doors closed and they stood in silence for a moment, before he hit the emergency stop button. Genevieve laughed in her head at the security guards on the first floor, who had gotten used to these impromptu occurrences, and mostly left them alone unless more then one car was stuck.

He turned calmly, his eyes hard and his tone firm. “What the hell are you thinking Gene?” he spoke her name with the proper accent, making it sound more like the French ‘Jean’.

“Sir.” Gen dropped her gaze to the floor, her eyes flickering back and forth as she considered her words. “I know I was withholding evidence, and I am not going to apologize because that is simply pointless at this juncture…” She found herself stumbling over her words, simply not wanting to have been pressed just yet. Gen had quite simply run out of time to cover for Alex, and the Director knew it.

“Dammit girl, that’s not what I’m talking about.” the Director interjected, turning towards her and stepping forward, making her step back into the corner. She wasn’t scared, but more leery… he had to have been seriously upset… “Why didn’t you come to me with this?” he asked pointedly.

“Sir, I…” Gen faltered again, then steeled herself. She looked at him, locking her eyes on his. “I could not take that chance. I do not know what my friend did or did not do, but I know what this all looks like.” As the words came out, Genevieve eased into her explanation, finally finding what she wanted to say. “We say better ten guilty men go free then one innocent get punished.” Her tone leveled, the heat behind it an exploration of an old pain. “I could not take that chance with Alex. Not with the police, not with SCI, not even with you. She is my best friend.” Gen continued staring into the Director’s unwavering glare, her defiant stance indicating her position. “I do not have many friends to begin with.” she admitted.

The Director continued to look at Genevieve, then made a small noise and turned around, flipping the emergency stop off and setting the elevator back upon it’s course.

“Apology accepted.” he said, resuming a normal stance and facing the doors, not looking back at her. Gen stepped back up beside him, a small smile playing upon her lips.

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