Shannon couldn't help it, she tried not to come, tried to go into the station and sit and work. But even as she'd left the apartment and headed out, she'd taken the wrong street and was now where she didn't want to be.
She watched as Jenny and Jane got back into the car, through the binoculars. Watched as the car pulled away, not needing to follow because she knew where they were headed. She'd stood at the side of the far warehouse watching them enter, needing to keep a distance just in case Jenny had sensed her even though she didn't seem to do that anymore. She still wasn't going to take the chance of being discovered and then have to explain why the hell she was there.
She just wanted to make sure she was okay and safe, that's what she told herself as she jogged back to the car she'd parked right away from the warehouse area. Just wanted to know everything was okay, she told herself as she started the car and headed in the direction of the second warehouse. It had nothing absolutely to do with seeing Jenny again and watching and being close, she told herself as she increased speed over the small bridge.
She looked up at the rear view mirror, seeing her eyes, knowing they were lying eyes, every single thing she was telling herself was bullshit. She couldn't have stayed away if she'd tried once she knew Jenny was off the island and vulnerable in so many ways. So why was she being a chicken shit and not just walking up to them and saying…. “Hi.”
She changed gear so fast the cogs squealed. She looked at herself again, she knew why, because she was scared beyond belief at finding out the real reason for Jenny leaving and worse still finding out the real reason she came back.
Her eyes held for a brief moment more, before she had to look back at the road and straighten the car into the right lane as an approaching car driver stood on his horn.
The second scene was much like the first in appearance, as before Jenny didn't go directly to the main area she opted to go away into the surrounding flat land towards the rise. She stood, opening her senses immediately getting the hit of ecstasy and sexual arousal. She shut it down fast, feeling dirty, the whole image and feeling made her old fear raise its head, it took to close it away and make her way back to Jane, seeing the worried look on her face.
“I don't have to tell you he watched from over there?”
Jane shook her head, unsure of why she suddenly felt something was wrong, the fact the psychic had paled so suddenly she thought she was going to faint was enough to make her worry. “Yea....um... you okay?”
Jenny gave a brave smile. “Bad vibes.”
“Ah.” Jane quickly turned her attention to the warehouse. “Wanna go in? Or leave it for another day.”
Jenny so wanted to yell yes, but she knew it would only put off the inevitable, she had a lot of inevitables she didn't need to stack them up. “I'm fine.” she headed off, smiling reassuringly to Bud as she passed the car, seeing his worried gaze too.
Shannon lowered the binoculars, her jaw tense, she'd actually seen Jenny's panic, recognizing the signs, it took all she had not to run the distance across the warehouse compound and find out if she was okay. Seeing them head to the warehouse made her feelings of protectiveness ease, rising the glasses she watched them enter.
Jenny paused, one hand on the framework of the door, stopping so quickly she felt Jane slip on the wet floor to halt in time. She looked back over the area behind them, seeking, something was there, something watching, but the strange thing was it didn't seem a threat.
“Jenny?” Jane resisted the urge to look over her own shoulder as she suddenly got the heebie jeebies at the look the psychic was giving to the area behind them.
Jenny blinked, her focus changing to Jane. “Sorry. I.....” she left the rest unsaid, turning, and training her focus inside.
Again Jane stayed back and out the way, but not before finally giving into the impulse to look behind her, shivering and cursing herself at being so weak when she saw nothing.
Jenny followed the same routine she did before, going over the circular area, the explosion was set exactly the same as before, the flash point was evident by the amount of damage in the circle. As she scanned the area she could see where large crates had been cleared, he'd wanted nothing to interfere with his child. She jolted, her brow dipping. “Child?” she whispered the word and still it seemed to echo in the air around her. That thought had come clean and fast into her head, he was thinking it, the whole time he was setting his explosives, making his fire, he was creating a child.
She stepped over a fallen sheet of roofing, almost losing her balance hopping the rest of the way until she was clear. She was now on the far side of the warehouse the furthest from the center point. She turned to face it fully, leaning back against the wall, feeling the coldness of sheeting on her back. What was his motive? She closed her eyes, opening up as deeply as she could, inhaling sharply as she saw him in her mind's eye. She watched him moving around her, setting the explosive, moving the boxes and furniture, his face shaded in shadow, always in shadow.
Jane looked down at her watch after Jenny hadn't moved, the time told her it was well over fifteen minutes now, it was like she was in a trance. It made her uneasy, she wasn't sure if she should interfere or not.
“We can go now.”
Jane jumped, her eyes coming up fast, how in the hell had Jenny gotten across the warehouse? “Right sure….” She used the walk back to the car to compose herself. As she opened the door to let Jenny climb in, she mumbled. “I hate this spooky shit.”
Shannon lowered the glasses as soon as she saw they were on the move again, she turned heading back to the car to follow.
She kept a safe distance each time the two stopped and visited the sights, watching mostly Jenny as she left the car and entered the warehouses, she couldn't get close enough without being detected either by Jenny or Jane when they went inside, so she'd waited, not so patiently until they both reappeared.
They were now all at the last site. Shannon could tell Jenny was more nervous here, there were people, people close. Just by the stiffness of her body, the way she walked and this time Bud was by her side. Shannon moved to the opposite side of the road from the warehouse dipping into a doorway, watching.
Jenny had the same feeling of being watched as she entered the building, she returned her focus to the task at hand as they climbed the stairs, it had been harder then she thought driving into the area of this warehouse, suddenly she was bombarded with feelings, emotions, lowering her walls all day had made her more susceptible, she'd needed Bud's nearness to calm her. Even as she climbed the stairs to the floor of the fire, she knew this was totally different, it wasn't just the fact of the location, nor the fact the fire could have killed someone, it was different because he thought it was different, it was his big statement of ‘here I am. can you see me.' The fire area was different too; the crater was deeper causing an oval dent in the concrete flooring. She looked up, the damaged area above was very much the same, she looked back at the indentation, she'd have to remember to check the explosion report to see what was the difference, because this wasn't accidental, he somehow was directing and tempering his charges to cause this? Her eyes followed the damage around, she could tell now the escalation in both location and damage were all done purposely.
She walked over to Jane. “Can you hold him while I look around?”
Jane nodded, taking the lead, kneeling so she could rub his fur. Then both their eyes followed Jenny. Bud licked his chops, he didn't like this place, it smelt very very bad.
Jenny walked the whole area, slowly, methodically. This building held lots of different past essences, she knew it would, just by seeing the age of it on the report, so she'd done a quick history of the building, needing to know what had been there before so she could sort out what she'd knew she'd feel when she opened.
She hadn't been wrong, exhaling as she felt all the essences seep into her as she opened fully.
She could smell the hemp that was used for the hug nets, hear the repetitive sound as the cotton Jenny turned, hearing now the muffled sounds of long lost conversations, feel the tiredness, the pains of all who worked there. Her inner vision stuttered to a new time of the past, now she could hear heavy machinery, smell the gunpowder, oil, metal, feel the essence of mostly woman on lines completing tasks, feel a certain camaraderie, and feeling of contributing, also fear, fear for loved ones. She smiled as she heard the ghostly sounds of Tommy Dorsey and Glen Miller as the music seemed to fill the whole warehouse. She stilled, her smile freezing, there was something else, dark, old, a deep distant beat made her heart meet the tempo, she took a long breath, trying to focus on it trying to push past the veil of time. Then it faded, just as suddenly as it had appeared in her senses. She tried to find it again, but now it was long gone. Her focus came back to Tommy Dorsey, ghostly tunes.
She pushed past the echoing music and ghosts, bringing her world into a sharp focus, her throat tightened as she saw the shadow of him again. Sometimes she wished she could see a face it would make things so much easier. She followed him across the room, stopping when he did, watching him set the charge and........ she paused, her face creasing, what was he doing? She inhaled, focusing her sense, pushing, trying to see. Was he praying? She pushed harder.
Jane's eyes widened, she rose slowly, hearing Bud whimper, she wasn't even sure if Jenny was aware her nose was bleeding. She made to move forward only to have Bud yank back on his collar causing the lead to pull taunt. She looked down at him, he simple lay down, his eyes going to Jenny. Jane got it, no touching. She slowly knelt back down, surprised when Bud nuzzled into her.
Jenny pushed, she pushed till she felt the blood vessels in her brain scream in protest, she didn't want to but she had to let go of the thread, she inwardly backed off, bringing the present back into focus, her eyes opening, surprised to see Jane standing in front of her offering a tissue.
“You.... you've um.” she motioned to the psychic's face.
Immediately Jenny's hand went to her nose, her palm coming away red, she took the tissue dabbing at it. “Yea it happens sometimes.” she hated the taste of blood on her lips.
Blowing her nose she went to the windows, some of which were broken by the heat, while others had been broken over the course of time. She stood on tiptoe looking down into the fractured view of the street through a broken pane. She resettled, her eyes going to the buildings around, knowing from the report he'd watched from the car park to the far right, she wondered how they'd come up with that. An answer came into her head. 'Shannon.' her eyes flickered to the street below, feeling the watcher again and suddenly it was so familiar, she drew in a sharp breath, knowing now who it was, recognizing the warmth, it almost made her want to cry, she'd shut it away for so long, it now coated her. She felt Jane approach, getting herself under control as she turned.
“You okay?” Jane was beginning to feel like a parrot asking it constantly, but once again she'd seen a change in the psychic, she noticed now, just like Shannon had done. There were a lot of things she noticed about Jenny, and seeing the physical strain and human side, she was starting to lose some of her anger. What must it be like to have such a gift or was it a curse?
Jenny managed a small smile. “I am now.”
Jane frowned, she hated it when the psychic went mystic. “Okay then. Where now? The car park?”
Jenny shivered. “No. I know what I'm going to feel there and quite frankly I already need a bath.”
Jane wasn't surprised at that one. She couldn't even imagine what it felt like to tap into someone who was scum. “I'll take you to ….... well, to Miss Randell's then?” she held out the lead.
Jenny took it, suddenly feeling sad as Jane walked away, feeling the openness they'd began to have through the day being shut tight against her, maybe she should explain about Claire. Sighing she followed Jane from the room and down the stone steps of the warehouse, knowing that explaining it would lead to having to explain other things she really wasn't ready to go near, especially not with Jane.
As they exited the building, heading back towards their car, Jenny couldn't help it, she smiled as she felt the watcher again.
Shannon knew where they were headed, but like a bad dream she couldn't pull herself away. She couldn't go until she knew Jenny was safe even it were in a place that made her want to be sick. She reached over needing something to settle her, pressing the on of the radio.
“That was Madonna. Wow can that woman still belt out a tune, you're listening to KWJL…. The station with sunshine in its smile.”
Shannon scoffed. “Yea right.” she was just about to reach across when the next song started, her hand froze, then slowly withdrew. She knew it, she'd heard it not long after getting out of the hospital, it seemed too been played on every damn station, everywhere, in her apartment, at her mothers, in the physio waiting rooms. She gritted her teeth, unable to turn it off, she couldn't because she liked it, she couldn't because she hated it, she couldn't because it was the truth of her. It amazed her how songs seemed to hit the nail on the head in life. She swallowed, as the lyrics to Kelly Clarkson Addicted, started.
It's like you're a drug.....it's like you're a demon I can't face down.
Her eyes fixed on the car ahead, knowing the memories it was going to evoke, fleeting glances into the past of them, bittersweet torture you welcome and wish you could get away from at the same time.
It's like I'm stuck.... it's like I'm running from you all the time.
Her knuckles went white as she grabbed the wheel harder.
And I know I let you have all the power.... it's like the only company I seek is misery all around.
She swallowed hard, her eyes closing briefly, as the flashbacks started.
The first touch of power between them. “What was that?” Jenny staring at her in shock. “I … I don't know.”
It's like you're a leech sucking the life from me.....it's like I can't breathe, without you inside of me...
Watching her go over the crime scenes, seeing her fear, feeling the power, looking down at the raised hairs on her arm, looking back at Jenny and knowing it was her.
And I know I let you have all the power.... and I realize I'm never gonna quit you over time.
Jenny bathed in the moonlight... Feeling her lungs lose their air, feeling her world narrow to just that moment. The beauty of it..... The beauty of Jenny.
It's like I can't breathe.
It's like I can't feel anything.... nothing but you.
Grabbing her when fear struck Jenny she was lost, holding on so hard to her till she felt part of Jenny slipping away, the terror, screaming, “Jenny!”
I'm addicted to you.
It's like I can't think.... without you interrupting me, in my thoughts, in my dreams....you've taken over me.
Watching her leave the room after, feeling the tingling of touch of warmth spreading, feeling Jenny's essence running through her veins.
It's like I'm not me.
Wondering who she was anymore.
It's like I'm not me.
Shannon couldn't help the tear falling down her cheek, any more than she could help breathing.
Jane was fed up with the silence, she'd never been one for small talk, having enough she reached over clicking on the radio. “You don't mind do you?” she asked as Jenny looked at her.
It's like I'm lost.... it's like I'm giving up slowly.
“No it's fine.” she was well aware of the tension growing as they neared Claire's house. Just as she was about to turn her head to watch the passing scenery, she stilled, she knew this song, for a moment she nearly told Jane to change channel.
It's like you're a ghost that's haunting me.... leave me alone.
But it was too late, the wall was open the song the unlikely key she had no defense against, the images exploded from her so fast she gasped.
Their accidental first touch, the electrically impulse that broke through her exile.
And I know these voices in my head are mine alone and I know I'll never change my ways, if I don't give you them now.
Watching Shannon running on the beach, feeling her essence, the warmth, the safety, the fact it scared her so much she wanted to hide as fast as she could.
It's like I can't breathe. It's like I can't feel anything.... nothing but you.
I'm addicted to you.
Trying to concentrate on the case and feeling Shannon watching her, her blue eyes violet, caressing her body till the point she glowed.
It's like I can't think.... without you interrupting me, in my thoughts, in my dreams, you've taken over me.
So lost, that darkness seeped into her soul, finding the glowing thread, the warmth, following it. Only to wake up in Shannon 's arms knowing what had happened.
It's like I'm not me.
Standing under the shower feeling Shannon 's essence flowing inside of her and knowing she'd never be the same again.
It's like I'm not me.
Shannon wanted to reach across and turn it off, but she couldn't, the images wouldn't take no for an answer now, the song fueled them.
Jenny smiling for the first time, feeling her guts tightened at the beauty of it.
I'm hooked on you. I need a fix I can't take it.
Just one more hit I promise I can deal with it.
Jenny scared, wanting so badly to wrap her in her arms.
I'll handle the quitting, just one more time then that's it.
Jenny mad, throwing a book at her.
Just hold it open once you'll get me through this.
Shannon slammed her hand into the car frame, hoping pain would break the spell.
Jenny closed her eyes, her nails nearly digging into her hand.
Shannon sitting in the rocking chair, just her blue eyes visible in the darkness.
I'm hooked on you... I need a fix I can't take it.
Being so scared all she wanted was Shannon to gather her in her arms and tell her it was alright.
Just one more hit I promise I can deal with it.
Shannon angry, arguing with her about Marcus.
I'll handle the quitting, just one more time then that's it.
Just hold it open once you'll get me through this.
Jenny pulled in a huge lung full of air.
It's like I can't breathe.
It's like I can't feel anything.... nothing but you.
Shannon jaw tightened as she watched the car slow, aware that Claire would be waiting.
I'm addicted to you.
Jenny didn't wait, she threw open the door, quickly getting Bud from the back. Ignoring Jane's surprise, her lungs hurt, her body hurt, her soul hurt.
Jane started in surprise, getting out moving to get Jenny's bag out.
It's like I can't think, without you interrupting me, in my thoughts, in my dreams.
Shannon stopped the car, watching Jenny get out, her eyes drinking her in, feeling the warmth, feeling the essence.
You've taken over me.
Jenny turned, locking eyes with the surprised blue ones further down the street. She'd felt it too.
It's like I'm not me.
Both translucent green and blue eyes held.
It's like I'm not me. It's like I'm not me.
Still eyes held, until Shannon broke the stare first, needing to breathe, quickly starting the car and pulling away, fighting the urge to go back .
Jenny sadly took her bag from Jane, pulling Bud to her as she walked up the driveway to the house and Claire who was waiting for her on the porch.
Jane stood wondering what the hell had just happened. She looked back over her shoulder following Jenny's gaze further up the street, inhaling sharply as she recognized the back of the departing car..... Shannon. Damn it she hadn't even realized they were being followed. Seeing Jenny was safe, she quickly got back into the car, and pulled away heading back to the station and a conversation she really didn't want to have.
He sat, legs tapping to the beat of the song, his eyes fixed on the components laid out in front of him, picking up the small C battery, gently placing it in the center of the steel canister, completing the circuit board, when it was secure he lifted the tiny glass vile, inserting it into the foam mold where it fit perfectly. His last task was to shape the Benxium around the whole inner casing, he liked this part it reminded him of playing with play-doh when he was young, he hummed to the tune as he finished. Next was the placing of the lid, he sprayed the interior first to wet it down, he didn't need it going off at the wrong time and Nitro was unstable at the best of times. When he had soaked the foam inside enough he placed the lid back on, gently screwing in each tiny screw.
He sat back admiring his work, a smile came to his face, one of contentment, one of peace. He rose, moving to the map on the wall, a map which highlighted all his targets. The next one pleased him, because this one he knew they'd know and see. He pulled on his jacket, smoothing down his hair, going back to the work bench, lifting the rucksack, placing carefully the canister inside, along with the plastic bottle which contained the petroleum mix, zipping it closed, he switched off the CD and left.
Shannon looked up guilty as Jane pushed her way through the two main doors of the precinct, she could tell she was pissed.
Jane kept silent, simply staring at her, removing her gun, placing it in the draw, slamming it shut so hard, Shannon flinched. Then calmly Jane sat. “So. How was your day?” she didn't bother hiding her sarcasm.
Shannon dropped the pencil, sitting straight. “I'm sorry I should have told you.”
“You're damn right you should have. What was the point? Didn't you trust me enough to protect her?”
Shannon shook her head vehemently. “No. it was nothing like that. I... I …” she sighed. “I had to do it, I tried not to, but I still found myself following you. It wasn't because I didn't trust you. I … needed to see her.”
Jane exhaled, sitting back some of the anger leaving. “How long were you following?”
Shannon looked up sheepishly.
Jane threw her hands in the air. “Oh great the whole fucking time…. Just great. Some detective I am, hell some psychic she is......” she paused. “Wait.... she did feel you....”
Shannon looked up, a small glint of hope showing before she could cover it.
“In the second warehouse she knew you were there, then at the last she was sure of it. Well shit.... it's nice to know I'm the last to find out anything like always.”
Shannon couldn't help it a small part of her sat up and went yeaaaaaaaa. She wasn't sure if Jenny had felt her or gotten lucky outside of Claire's house. A small smile formed.
“What's so funny?” Jane crossed her arms, not pleased with the reaction.
“Not you...... just, well she felt me.”
Jane rolled her eyes. “Oh brother give me a break.... I need coffee.” she rose, reaching back into her jacket tossing Shannon her note pad. “Read that it pretty much tells you everything she found out. She gave it to me in the car after the last warehouse. She's been scribbling in it all day, told me to give it to you.”
Shannon grabbed it and started reading, it was pretty much what she expected, Jenny's thoughts and feeling were written almost clinically, giving away no emotions except what she'd felt off of the essences. The one thing she didn't like as she read was the fact this guy thought of the fires as his children. She swallowed, she so didn't need another fruit loop. Jenny's last notes were on the fact this guy is comfortable around explosives, this wasn't an amateur, he'd worked with or around them before, possibly ex-army, demolition or fire department.
Shannon sat back, pushing the chair away from the desk, stretching out her legs from the cramping. That wasn't exactly new information, their own investigating had come up with pretty much the same, but just the fact Jenny thought it, meant it was true, Jenny didn't make mistakes. She looked across as Jane placed down a mug of coffee. “Am I forgiven?” she lifted the mug, resisting the urge to check it for salt or something worse, she took a sip.
Jane smirked. “I didn't doctor it, although I was sorely tempted and yes you're forgiven just let me know next time you're there. “ She sat, drinking from the mug.... “I feel like such an ass that I didn't know.”
“Sorry.” Shannon looked down.
Jane smiled, shifting her chair into place. “So..... What do you think of the report?”
“He's escalating towards something bigger. This isn't politically or revenge for something done to him.” she took a long gulp of coffee, thinking. “….Jenny thinks next time he won't care about loss of life. The early warehouse fires were tests, perfecting his art…. I agree.” she felt that niggle again, trying to search her brain for what was it, but again it allude her. She mentally shook her mind clear. “….he wants something and we just don't know what yet.”
Jane nodded, she'd read the notes too. “Yea. What I don't get is why Jenny can't see what he's going to do next. She sees future things. Right?”
Shannon looked down at her hands, her fingernail picking at the cuticle around her thumb. “she only does when.... when she connected and it's only been twice.” she swallowed hard, remembering what she saw when Jenny touched her, knowing it was her getting hurt, ignoring Jenny's warning. She swallowed again. Yea and look how that turned out.
Jane knew immediately what Shannon was talking about. “Oh.....yea...sorry.”
Shannon shrugged, taking the mug in her hands to give them something to do, she focused her thinking. “So where too now? How do we find this guy?”
Jane shook her head, leaning back in the chair. “We're already doing pretty much what we can. We're checking all ex army in the area, ex fireman, fireman, anyone to do with demolition. You'd be surprised at how few there are on the Keys. We've got the FBI helping on checking Nitro suppliers and any that might have been stolen. Since 9\11 the paper work to stock or sale it is kept in the central files along with any other explosive material or compound used to make explosives….. Also anyone who has worked or working with explosives since 1997 has to have their fingerprints taken and is on file. That one is going to take longer, it covers the whole of the United States and most of Europe. Interpol are helping.......I know one thing, forensic are impressed he knows how to make his own Benxium ....... Other than that....” She sat forward with a thump... “It's about waiting.”
Shannon looked away, she'd known pretty much everything Jane was going to say, she'd hoped something new had come to light over the afternoon she was away. Her voice was low, filled with frustration. “Yea. Isn't it always.”
Jane watched her closely as she drank the last of her coffee, she wished she knew what was going on inside her head. She saw some of the spark return when Shannon was doing police work, yet, it went so quickly when Jenny was mentioned, part of her wanted to bang their two heads together while the other part wanted to take Shannon so far away Jenny would never get to her again. She didn't think Shannon could survive a second time.
Claire laughed. “Are you serious, she followed you the whole day?”
Jenny didn't like the laugh. “I don't see anything funny.”
Claire shook her head, still chuckling. “You wouldn't. Jesus I know you told me she was an honest cop, which I found hard to believe, but god, she so damn gallant it's sickening.”
Jenny deliberately bit her lip looking out across the lawn. What she was thinking was bitchy and she didn't want to get into a bitch fest with Claire.
Claire sighed, seeing Jenny wasn't finding anything the least bit amusing. “So, why didn't she just come up and say hi, or join you both at the beginning of it.”
Jenny's head snapped around so fast, Claire actually flinched.
“Do you really think it's going to be easy for her to be anywhere around me Claire? Do you? After what I did?” The anger came fast, and just as fast it went. She shook her head slowly. “I don't blame her one bit she didn't join us, or let us know she was there. I made it quite clear I didn't want her to know I was back, so why should she make the first move.... You're right the part of her that wants to protect is why she did it. It's who she is.”
Claire reached over, her hand hovering for a moment before she took Jenny's hand. “Maybe she needs to do it this way, get used to being around you again.”
This time Jenny laughed, it was bitter. “You don't even believe that. But thanks for trying.” She rose, deliberately breaking skin contact. “I need a bath.”
Claire simply nodded as she watched her leave, her eyes went to the street, checking to see if there were any cars she didn't know. She didn't like it Shannon had taken to following Jenny around, to her it reeked of stalker.
Shannon looked up from the computer when she heard her name called, twisting towards the source.
“Warehouse on thirteen and third, just had a silent alarm go off. I've got two cars on the way there.” Before the Captain had finished, Jane and Shannon were already up and heading out the door.
“WAIT FOR THE BOMB SQUAD.” He knew even as he yelled it they hadn't heard.
Shannon didn't think she'd ever get used to Jane's driving as long as she lived, she thanked god as they pulled to a halt at the end of the sealed off street. Her eyes taking in the police tape and blockades which cut off the lower part of the street into two. Getting out of the car she looked around, she inhaled sharply seeing the school opposite the warehouse which now had a line of blue, directing people quickly out and into buses and away from the area.
Jane came up next to her, following her gaze. “The school is cleared. The Sergeant says the last of them are leaving the offices next door to the warehouse. Bomb squad are ten minutes away, in another five we'll have the whole area cleared. It's a lot easier when people know there's a fire scare, they don't answer back at us pushing them around.”
Shannon gave a small sigh of relief, looking out and around the buildings. “How long ago was the alarm tripped?”
Jane nodded to a man dressed in a blue suit looking harassed by the police car. “Mr. Duncan is head of Inland Key security, this warehouse was only set up with the new alarm a week ago. Because of the alerts we've sent out he didn't want to take the chance it wasn't just rats chewing the wires. It went off about half hour ago.”
Shannon stepped more into the empty street, turning her head up, directing her gaze to the rooftops, trying to figure out where he could be watching from if she were him.
Jane shifted. “Boss what you want to do?”
Shannon took in long breath, her eyes flitting to the warehouse. “I want to go see what set off the alarm.”
Jane's face paled at the same time her eyebrows rose. “No we don't. What we want to do is sit here till the nice bomb squad people arrive and tell us it's rats.”
Shannon smiled. “You asked me what I wanted to do Jane... Relax, I'm not stupid enough to act on it. Besides, he isn't going to be where the device is.” she pointed up and across the street.
Jane followed the digit, settling her gaze on the building in question. An old ten storey with cob stone brick work and lined high windows, with a wrought iron fire escape which snaked itself along the edge of the building, part of the city that was built in the 20's, very art deco.
“If I were him…. That's where I'd go. It's got a clear view of the warehouse and us. By the look of it it's under some sort of renovation so it's empty.”
Jane grinned. “I'll take the back.... I'm thinking ninth floor? If he goes to the roof one of the Police or News choppers would pick him up.”
Shannon answered the grin. “Ninth sounds good. See you there.”
They both headed out in a light jog, not drawing their weapon until they were well under the building. Shannon placed the ear piece in. “How you doing?”
Jane looked up into the spiral of the rising staircase. “Well I'm going to get a workout at least…. Starting up now.”
Shannon smiled, hearing Jane's deep breathing as she started to climb the stairs. She looked up at much the same sight, then steadily she started up hers too, already feeling the adrenaline pumping, god she'd missed this. Reaching the ninth, she paused to catch her breath and calm the adrenaline, gently she push on the fire door, easing it open with her foot, both hands on her gun, slipping her body through the gap, back against the wall as she let the door close. “I'm on nine. Southwest entrance.” Her voice was kept low as she talked into the collar mike.
She let her eyes take in the vast room in front of her, she hadn't been wrong the whole building was going through a huge refit. Even as she walked across the new wood floors and newly plastered ceilings and walls, she felt the eeriness of an old building made new seep into her. Plastic sheeting hung like shrouds, empty frameworks of wood waiting for the partition walls to be erected. The light source, the big windows which lined either side, but some of those had been boarded up, which meant there were moments her eyes had to adjust to the change in light, leaving blank spots.
“On nine northwest corner. Heading in boss.”
Shannon kept her gun up, sweeping the area each time as she turned and walked further into the center of the room. A scaffolding stood in front of her now, towering up till it reached the ceiling, shrouds of plastic hanging down from it as if it were caught in the process of doing the dance of the seven veils. Shannon winced as her foot falls echoed, she stilled, listening, had she heard something? “Jane? Where are you?”
“About three foot in the room, this place is huge.”
“Yea.” Shannon swung round quickly when she was sure she heard a sound again, only to be met with more metal and paint and wooden floor boards. Her eyes traveled upwards, seeing an open skylight and a wire hanging down, its clink sound echoing again as the wind blew, suddenly the sound of flapping clapping wings made her swivel to her left, still looking up as she saw the dove fly out of the skylight. She calmed her beating heart, exhaling. “Jane can you see scaffolding near the center of the room?”
There was a pause. “Yea.”
“I'm on the far side of it. I'll meet you on the other....”
Shannon started to make her way through the loose plastic sheeting, stepping over a pile of new floorboards, as she was just about to bring her other leg over she froze.... her face paled, her skin broke out in sweat. There on the floor sat a long steel cylinder.
Jenny shot straight up in the bath, her eyes springing open, water cascading everywhere. “Shannon!”
Shannon swallowed again, gently she brought her leg over the rest of the way easing it down as if just that movement would set off whatever it was. Oh yes she was sure this didn't belong anywhere near this place. She looked up sharply as a shadow fell, relieved beyond belief it was Jane.
Jane's eyes widen. “Oh shit.”
Shannon didn't wait any longer her body was a coiled spring, she ran, surprising Jane as she powered towards her, grabbing her arm and twisting her around, pulling her along with her by brute strength. “RUN!”
Jane didn't need telling twice, even though she was smaller framed she gave it her best shot to keep up with Shannon as she threw open the fire door and started down the stair way.
Both of them were one level below when the whole world exploded and debris began to rain down, then darkness.
Jenny gripped the edge of the bath harder, her whole point of focus was the feeling running through her, danger, Shannon, explosion, she was oblivious to Claire hammering on the door or Bud's barking.
Then the feeling snapped, she jerked. “No..... oh no.” she rose so fast she slipped, regaining her balance enough to jump out, she threw open the door and nakedly ran to the bedroom.
Claire just stood open mouthed, while Bud was hot in pursuit.
Jenny dressed quickly, fighting with the clothing as it came into contact with her wet skin, when she had enough clothes on to not be arrested she ran from the bedroom calling Bud to her side, past Claire who was trying to get some sense out of her, she grabbed Claire's car keys and cell phone, then ran as fast as she could to the car, the whole time all she could feel was darkness and flame.
Jane coughed, the action loosening the dust on her hair, which only made her cough more. “Sh...A...n.” she tried again spitting the muck from her mouth, trying to look around but only seeing darkness. “Hey... Shannon.”
“Yea......” Shannon used all her strength to push the huge piece of plaster from her side, wincing as her shoulder pulled. “I'm here.” she blinked trying to see through the darkness, suddenly her eyes hurt as a flame sparked. “Jesus.” now she had a flickering view of her partner, in any other circumstance she would have laughed at the amount of white dust that coated both of them, but right now she was more worried by the smell of burning and heat she could feel coming from above, her eyes shifted to the flame. “Jane.”
“Yea.” Jane's attention was on the blocked stairway below, wondering how the hell they were going to get out of this one.
“Do you think it's really a good idea to have a naked flame lit right about now? I can't smell gas but I don't want to take the risk.”
Jane stilled, her eyes going wide, slamming the top down on the lighter. “Sorry.” she muttered cursing herself.
Shannon couldn't help it she chuckled, it was actually funny the look she'd seen on Jane's face before the world went dark again.
Jane banged her head. “Well shit.” she sat down. “Don't suppose you got a torch?”
Shannon sat back, trying to breathe without coughing. “Right now I don't even have my gun and my cells toast. How about yours?”
Jane snorted. “I left mine in the damn car, we were on mikes anyway and they can't get through this shit.....” she coughed. “…..Don't worry about the gun I have mine, I'll shoot us before the air runs out.”
Even in the dark Shannon knew Jane was grinning. “Thanks.” She coughed, a dry cough that hurt her lungs. She looked up again seeing the glow of the fire, at least one thing was on their side, he doesn't go out for all out burning down the building, he focused his fire.
Something cracked so loudly from above both of them jumped, a thick veil of dust descended.
Then again there is always a first time he changes . Shannon thought wryly.
Jane shifted around, using her hands till she found Shannon, feeling her body tense at the touch. “You hurt?”
Shannon relaxed again. “I whacked my shoulder into the wall when the damn thing went off…. I'll survive.”
“So....we can't go up.... we can't go down?”
“Nope.” Shannon lifted her butt pulling out something round and hard and threw it away.
“There is a problem of us being here you know?”
Shannon exhaled, wishing she hadn't as it started off another coughing fit. “Yea...... no one knows we're here....”
Jane shifted until her back hit wall, then she relaxed as much as she could. “Shannon?”
“We really must start telling people what we're doing you know. It would so less complicate things.”
Shannon's answer was a snort, which led to a hacking cough.
Jenny wasn't sure where she was heading, all she had was an image of Shannon hurt and fire. It had been years since she'd driven a car, mainly because of her eyesight being too bad. She stopped at the intersection, looking left then right, unaware that Bud in the back seat was making the same movements.
She slapped the wheel. “Come on come on which way.” she threw out her sense in each direction hoping from something, anything, nothing came back, just the foreboding that Shannon was in deep trouble. Bud's bark made her jump and turn her attention to him, following his line of sight, she saw it, three lanes away traveling down a street on the left, a fire truck, siren and lights going. She grinned, giving Bud a quick hug before gunning the engine and following.
Jane shifted, she was sure she could feel heat coming off the wall behind, completely blind and relying on the other senses she tentatively felt along the wall, wincing as her hand came onto a very hot spot, she backed away. “Um Shannon.”
Shannon looked up in the general direction of Jane. “Yea?”
Jane backed up even more when she felt the heat rising. “I think we have a problem.” she moved back until she was right next to Shannon.
“Another one?” Shannon swallowed, not liking the fear that was creeping into her partner's voice.
“I think there's another fire on the far side of that wall I was just leaning against, it's getting hotter.”
Shannon squinted, focusing, for a while she didn't see anything, then she saw it a small orb, red hot and getting hotter, the concrete was starting to glow.
Jane saw it too, looking around, standing, using her hand to make sure she didn't whack her head, edging until she felt the blocked downward stairway, grabbing hold of masonry and wood and started shifting it out the way.
Shannon thought it was a waste of time, even as she shuffled on her knees to Jane and started to lift out the loose pieces, the larger ones neither of them were every going to move. But at least they were doing something, rather than waiting to burn to death. Neither of them spoke as they worked and all that could be heard was the grunt of exertion and coughing.
Jenny got out of the car, stepping up onto the SUV ledge to look out over the traffic. The tailback went right the way across to the next street, it was barely moving. She made out the fire truck as it headed off down a side street under police escort, there was no way she could follow in the car. Grabbing Buds lead, pulling him from the back, she slammed the door shut and began to run, hating the feeling that time was running out. She turned down the side street, only to come out into heavy foot traffic, all of it going the same way, the wrong way to her. She could now make out the police line and fire trucks, she swallowed when she realized the acid she could taste and smell was smoke. She took off again, this time it was slow going against the tide of people who were heading to safety.
Bud barked and nipped at the people who tried to tread on him, growling when a boot was aimed, yelping as his lead was tangled, he stepped right, causing Jenny to jerk back. When she saw what was happening she stopped, bending to him.
“You're coming off the lead…. But I need you to stay with me okay, Shannon needs us.”
He straightened, his brown eyes serious, waiting. As soon as the lead was off, Jenny turned running, with Bud tight on her heels.
“That's the sound of the men working in the chain........ gannnnnnnnnnng. That's the sound of the men, working in the chain..... gang.”
Shannon looked sideways at Jane even though she couldn't see her. Her eyebrows rose as “chain gang' was met with a clank on a pipe.
Jane started up again. “All day long they..........”
Jenny managed to push her way to the front of the long line of spectators standing in front of the police blockade, she felt Bud bark and snarl at someone behind her and felt the pressure give a little as he cleared a path. She called him to her, he was there immediately, she didn't look down, because her eyes were fixed on the building ablaze in the middle of the police area with fire fighters already starting to try and tackle the fire. She moved to duck under the blockade, only to have a police woman grab her back.
“Where the hell you think you're going?”
Jenny turned quickly, pulling her elbow free. “I need to get down there. There are people trapped.”
The police woman shook her head. “There's no one in there... the buildings were cleared and you're not getting anywhere near the place.” she shifted as Bud stepped in front of Jenny as she made to grab her arm again.
Jenny stepped back, ducking again only to have another cop appear in front of her as she came up the other side of the blockade.
“Sorry lady you got to stay back.”
Jenny exhaled in frustration her eyes going to the blaze then the cop. “You have to believe me…. There is someone in that building. She's one of yours…. Detective Rhimes.”
The cop stilled, looking at her again. “Detective Rhimes left ma'am.”
She wanted to scream so she did. “LISTEN TO ME YOU IDIOT. SHE IS IN THAT BUILDING!”
“Okay lady I'm going have to take you somewhere for your own safety and I'd advise you to keep your mutt under control, biting a police officer is a criminal offense.”
Jenny thought about biting him herself, this time when she was trying to tell him the frustration came out in sobs. “Please.... oh please. She in there, they both are....... they're running out of time.”
Bud jumped up, not sure what to do, Police were good, police weren't bad people yet they were hurting Jenny. He jumped up again.
The cop shrugged him off. “Lady get your dog under control before I shoot it.”
Those words tapped into her despair and frustration she quickly turned to Bud. “Down. Stay. “
He did so, but he didn't like it.
“Hey Wayne what's the commotion?”
Jenny stilled she knew that voice, with one big yank she broke free again running back to the police blockade, with a sense of relief she was right. “Peter! Peter!”
Detective Peter Johnston froze, turning slowly, his muscles clamping tight. He walked toward the line, his voice curt when he got there. “Miss Newton.”
Peter did a double take, she actually looked like she was pleased to see him. “Excuse me?” it surprised him so much he nearly missed the fact Newton was being pulled away by a patrolman. “Hey. Wait up. What's up?”
“This lady is nuts. She keeps trying to get to the fire, keeps saying detective Rhimes is in there.”
Peter head shot around to the warehouse, then back looking Jenny right in the face, he hated it really hated it but he believed her. Surprising both himself, the cop and Jenny, he pushed up the blockade, pulling her through, quickly letting her go, resisting the urge to rub his palm on his pants. “Where?”
At any other time Jenny would have found it comical that Peter believed her for one and didn't question for another. “I need to be closer.”
He nodded, waving the patrolman away, stepping back as Bud ran through to be beside Jenny. Bud gave him an evil glare which said; Police were good, police weren't bad people but for you I'll make an exception. Peter got the message, falling into step further away as he led them closer.
Jenny stopped at the edge of the apartment building, the closest they could get without a fire crew getting involved, she could feel the heat from here, well aware of the fear coming off Bud. She took one step nearer, distancing herself from the two behind, focusing her energy. The world tilted, her vision blurred then became crystal clear, it was like running high speed over every surface, every wall, fast across the burning floors, like an Exocet missile homing in on the Essence. She physically jolted when she hit the heat, going around it, across and down through the floors, there............ there!
She turned so quickly, it made Peter take a sharp step back.
“Northwest stairway, they're trapped between eight and seven, both ends are blocked. You've got to hurry.”
He winced as her fingers dug into her arms. She exhaled, quickly letting him go, not ready for the assault of dislike from him. Her voice was a whisper. “Please believe me, if you don't they're dead.”
He chewed his lip, then nodded, running quickly over to the fire chief.
Jenny stepped back now, kneeling to Bud as they watched the fire, hugging him, knowing he wasn't the only one who was shaking. She stiffened, looking up and around, searching. He was there, he was watching it. She looked up as Peter crossed the street towards her.
“They're going where you said.....” he grimaced. “You'd better be fucking right.”
She ran her hand over Bud's coat. “I am.... and something else I'm right about is he's watching from the opposite warehouse.”
Peter stilled, then looked down at her. “You're kidding me?”
Jenny shrugged. “Believe me or not Peter I don't care. But he's there.” she rose. “All I care about is Shannon and I'm not leaving till I know she's okay.”
He met her stare, only seeing his own reflection in the mirror glasses. He really did dislike this woman, but one thing he did know she wasn't ever wrong. He turned at a run heading to the line of police.
Jenny watched him go, her eyes went to where she knew the arsonist was watching from, and for once she found herself hating someone just for a feeling, it was overwhelming euphoria.
Shannon coughed again, this time it didn't work to clear anything, she could feel the heat and smoke in her lungs. She wiped a long line of grit and sweat from her forehead, then down across her chest. They both were down to bra's now, the heat so intense, they were using their shirts and jackets as wrappings for their hands against the sharp heavier pieces of rock. She grunted as she caught another piece handed to her. “An...y....th...in...g?” she coughed clearing her hoarse voice. “Any....thing?”
Jane slumped back, peering into the darker abyss of the area she cleared. “Can't see jack shit.” she too coughed to clear the hoarseness from her throat. “Jesus I could use a be...e....r.” she stopped, tilting her head. “You hear that?”
Shannon lent forward till she felt Jane's heat next to her. “Hear what?”
Shannon listened, straining her hearing. “No.....wait......... yea there. Where the hells that pipe you were whacking earlier?”
Jane searched palms down on the floor, ignoring the stings of bits of concrete, she felt the pipe, bringing it up and whacking the hell out of the wall. Both winching as the sound resounded.
As if in silent agreement they starting singing as best they could and as loud as they could. “THAT'S THE SOUND OF THE MEN WORKING ON THE CHAIN GANG. ALL DAY LONG THEIR SINGING.... UM...... AH....... UM..... AH.”
Fireman Jack Watson stilled, lifting the protective cloth on his head gear listening, he pulled his oxygen mask away to clear the sound of air coming through. He frowned, it sounded like Sam Cooke. Then he heard the repeating bang, he grinned lifting his walkie talkie. “I've found um guys.”
Immediately he was joined by two others and they began to bring the heavier equipment up to get through the wall.
Jane heard it the tap tap tap of a jack hammer, laughing she sat back. “Well shit here comes the cavalry.”
Shannon could hear it too, but she was preoccupied with the feeling running up and down the hairs on her arms, she didn't want to believe what it meant, more to the point she couldn't let herself believe. As the light broke through from the outside she lent her head back against the wall, drawing in a lungful of clean fresh air, wondering how many times she could keep escaping death.
Shannon shut the door cursing, she really hated hospitals. Pulling what was left of her t shirt off she threw it, taking her gun off and placing it in the drawer of the kitchen, already undoing the zipper on her trousers and trainers and socks as she walked towards the bathroom, her underwear ended up somewhere over her bed. She wanted a shower that's all she'd wanted for the past two hours, but all she'd got instead was a bollocking from the Captain and incessant questions from the fire forensic team. She'd tried calling her mother on the way back knowing she first would have seen it on television and second heard it via the fire fighter grapevine from her brother and father, but she'd only got the voice mail at the house. Her mother never carried a cell phone around so right now Shannon had a rough idea her mother was on her way over. Something she didn't need right now, she was mentally and psychically exhausted, all she wanted was a shower and sleep.
At least she could have the first one. Stepping into the shower she grimaced as the hot water hit, turning it to warm, it was hot enough outside already and the heat from the fire still made her skin tingle in places, the chemicals in the liquid making every single tiny scrape or cut sting like hell. She relaxed under the flow as her body adjusted. She watched the water at her feet turn light gray to black, she scrubbed at her skin, her hair, adding more gel until the water started to run clear, then she just stood under the flow. Her head came up as she heard the doorbell, pulling a towel from the rail as she stepped free of the shower she made her way back into the living room, to the door speaker, leaving wet footprints in her wake. She pressed the button. “Hi mom. Just come up okay.” she clicked it off before her mother could answer not really wanting to hear the chastising she was going to be given twice.
She quickly toweled herself semi dry, glad to be clean, a bath was going to be needed later to get the grim and soot completely out. Even now as she ran to the bedroom she could feel the thin veil of mucus in her throat as her lungs rid itself of the dirty air and smoke. She quickly picked a light cotton linen trousers and a black vest top, pulling both on quickly, not bothering with underwear. Grabbing the towel again she began drying her hair, knowing it was going to be frizzy as hell. She picked a pair of socks and quickly pulled them on and slipped her feet into clean trainers. When the door to the apartment sounded she was already on the way. She threw the towel into the kitchen, smoothing down her top, taking a deep breath she steeled herself for the tornado that was her mother. She pulled open the door. “I'm sor..............” the breath left her lungs.
Jenny swallowed, trying to clear her voice, her brain was caught between the fear of facing Shannon and the fact she found the woman in front of her disheveled and more beautiful than ever. The shocked look aimed at her dampened down any such thoughts, she wasn't so sure this had been a good idea when she watched Shannon pale. But she couldn't help it, she couldn't make herself go to the hospital and see her, so she'd waited until she knew she had left. She hadn't even intended to come here, but no matter what she did she needed to see, needed to really see she was okay. She swallowed hard, well aware of the silence. “Hi.”
Shannon stood there, her hand gripping the door knob till her knuckles were white. She really did try to talk but right now her throat was refusing to cooperate, the lead ball in her stomach was pushing into her lungs.
Bud pulled on his lease, jumping, whining, trying to get at the person he wanted, not understanding why no one was talking or moving. He barked.
Shannon jumped, it broke the spell, she gritted her teeth and forcibly pushed down everything inside. “Hi.”
Jenny felt it with a shudder, watched as the surprised blue eyes suddenly went dull. Now she knew for definite this really wasn't a good idea, she'd only thought of herself in this, got caught in the moment. But all she'd wanted to do was clear things up, needing to sort out what had happened, needed too because if something had happened to Shannon today she never ever would have gotten the chance to tell her why.
But no, as she stood there she knew she shouldn't have gone anywhere near Shannon, she'd made yet another mistake, she should have waited for Shannon to come to her. She could feel the waves of pain, to the point it made her own insides ache, she suddenly felt very sick. She pulled on Bud's lead, barely holding back her tears. “I'm sorry. I shouldn't have come.”
Shannon felt Bud hit her leg again. She couldn't believe this, that Jenny would just turn up here. Through the trauma a thought occurred, she took in a breath to talk. “How did you know where I lived?” She couldn't believe how steady her voice was, inside she was a mess.
Jenny pulled on Bud again trying to keep him down. She exhaled. “Jane when........ When you were in hospital last... time. She gave me the address.” She snapped her gaze away as she realized her eyes had automatically gone to where Shannon was shot.
Shannon was surprised, she hadn't known. “Oh.... So why are you here now? Have you found something to do with the case?”
“No. not yet.”
“Then why did you come?” Shannon gritted her teeth trying to rein back the anger, even as she did so she still couldn't help it as her eyes took in the small form in wonder. Jenny did look good, but there was something different something she'd missed before, there was a freeness that wasn't there before. But unlike the first shocked meeting days ago, this time Shannon could see other things too, Jenny had lost weight, there was a gaunt look around her eyes, her gaze traveled up, stopping on her own duel reflection in mirrored sunglasses.
For a moment they just stared at one and other.
One thing Shannon couldn't miss was Jenny also looked terrified, before she could stop it she found herself wanting to help and comfort her. She bit into her cheek deliberately, the shot of pain cleared her thoughts. She suddenly felt so tired, she exhaled the fatigue, rubbing at the bridge of her nose. “Jenny why are you here?”
“I …. I needed to see you and I didn't think calling you would work.” She pulled off her sunglasses, needing Shannon to see her eyes to see how sorry she was, to see the truth, if only she could be given the chance to explain. “After the fire today.... I …” Jenny couldn't finish, it was like she was getting nowhere.
Shannon finally released the door knob, feeling cramp set in she flexed her hand, staring down at it, staring anywhere but at Jenny. “You were there?” she exhaled the words.
Jenny's lip trembled. “Yes.”
Shannon looked right at her. “You told them where to look?” This time Shannon didn't ignore Buds whine and jump at her, she knelt quickly giving him a hug, wondering how she was keeping herself together right now.
Jenny eyes fell to her. “I knew you were in trouble...... I had to help. Shannon I want to explain........ About before........ Why I left.” She took in a lungful of air as her insides twisted.
Shannon didn't answer at first, she just squeezed her eyes shut, holding on to Bud. “I think it's better if we just stick to the investigation.”
Jenny felt the wall slam right into her gift, it was cold, it hurt more than anything she'd ever felt, she was locked out. Exhaling to keep herself together she tugged on Bud's lead, bringing him away from Shannon. “We'll go. I'm glad you're not hurt.” Bud whined, she knew exactly how he felt.
He looked to both of them, he whined again, something was wrong, he tried to get to Shannon again, but his mistress held firm to his lead.
Shannon stood, stepping back. “Thank you for helping us toda....y.” Her head snapped left as she heard her name being called. Her eyes slipped closed. Oh god.
“Shannon Rebecca you'd better have a damn good excuse for being in a building with a bomb!? Oh.” Mrs. Rhimes drew up short, her temper deflating as she rounded the stairs to be met by the blonde woman and her dog. “I'm sorry I didn't know you had a visitor.” she offered out her hand. “Hello I'm Anne Rhimes, Shannon's mother.”
Shannon tensed, knowing what was about to happen.
Jenny managed a smile, taking the hand, closing down her gift to make sure nothing slipped through. She could see parts of Shannon in her mother, their eyes were the same, the bone structure of the face, she wondered if this would be how Shannon looked in her late fifties, realizing she was staring, she smiled again. “Please to meet you. I'm Jenny Newton.” Even without her gift open Jenny felt the chill as her hand was dropped.
Anne's eyes shifted to her daughter, noticing how upset she looked, she looked back at Jenny. “I see.”
Jenny swallowed, the blue eyes of the mother now perfectly matched Shannon's as they filled with ice. She took a breath, knowing now Anne knew about her. Her eyes slid to Shannon's seeing the desperate look.
Jenny squared her shoulders. “I came to see if she was all right.” She spoke to Shannon's mother, as she replaced her sunglasses.
Anne crossed her arms. “And?”
Shannon gritted her teeth. “Mom.”
“Don't you mom me. I'd like to know why she ran off…. and don't tell me any bullshit that you're not interested.”
Bud looked up at the new woman, it was strange he could smell the same scent as Shannon, he sniffed again, sneezing as flowers invaded his sinuses. He licked his lip, looking up to each of them in turn, something felt very wrong, but there wasn't any sense of danger. He was finding things very confusing lately.
Jenny thought about just turning and running as fast as she could, instead she pushed the impulse down. “I think this is between Shannon and I.”
Anne's eyebrows rose, she was impressed, not many could stand up to her when she was in full flow, she caught Shannon's surprised look. “Hmmmmmmm. I suppose it is.”
Shannon looked down. She couldn't handle this. “Mom please leave it. Jenny's right it's between the two of us. Besides she helped us today she's the one who told them where to look.” for some reason she wanted her mother to know that and not just think badly of the psychic, it was important. There was so much her mother was never going to understand.
Anne looked to her daughter, suddenly she wanted to do nothing more then hold her, instead she settled for pushing Shannon's wet hair back behind her ear. This time when she looked at Jenny some of the ice melted. “Then I owe you a thank you for today....However....”
Jenny just shook her head, this was becoming all too much, she could feel the tendrils of panic beginning. The 'however' made her pull every wall up, she knew this was going to hurt.
Anne turned back to Jenny. “…..You hurt my daughter very badly. I won't even attempt to understand what happened between the both of you. You did more damage than that damn bullet ever did.... But because of today I'm willing to bet you feel just as badly about the past as she does....” She turned quickly to Shannon hearing the sharp inhale. “Don't be long.” She patted her cheek, then moved past her into Shannon's apartment.
Shannon hugged herself, suddenly feeling sorry for Jenny. “She didn't mean it.”
Jenny's lip tightened, she felt like she'd just been beaten up, looking to Shannon, seeing everything her mother had just said was true. “Yes she did.” Her voice was hoarse.
Shannon stood in total misery.
Jenny couldn't hold it anymore, the sob escaped. “I'm …..... I'm …...... I have to go. I'm sorry.” She yanked on Bud's lead till the point he yelped in surprise at the harshness. He kept looking back trying to see Shannon, he was still trying as the elevator doors closed on them.
Jenny slammed her hand onto the ground floor button, tried everything to close down the pain she felt, she knew most of it was Shannon's leaking past her walls, her hand covered her mouth as if that action would keep in the guilt and pain she felt.
Bud whined and jumped at her.
Shannon just stood shock still, she wanted to cry she really did, but there was a large shelf of ice sliding into place. Closing her eyes she pushed the last of it away, anger replacing whatever else was tearing her insides apart. She turned, coming up short when she walked right into her mother. “Mom?” her answer was a shove back and being turned around.
“Well…. Go after her.”
Shannon was confused. “What? But you just said?”
Anne pushed her daughter again, this time lifting her wallet and keys placing in into her daughter's hand. “I know what I said and it needed saying. But that girl came all the way here and looks positively terrified. Are you really going to sleep knowing she's out there alone and not safe?”
Shannon straighten, thinking for only a moment before she quickly kissed her mother on the cheek, turning she left in a run.
Anne shook her head, chuckling, turning around closing the door, her chuckle tailed off as she saw the state of the apartment. Sighing and shaking her head, she placed her bag down, rolled up her sleeves and got to work.
Shannon burst out of the apartment main door, her head turning left and right, coming to a stop at the curb, not seeing any sign of a car leaving or Jenny. She was just about to head off in a jog to the right, when she heard a whimper, she slowly walked back towards the side of the apartment's front door, to the stairway that led down to the garbage chute and boiler rooms. She stopped at the top, trying to see into the darkness. “Jenny?”
A bark was her answer and another whimper. She started down the steps, stopping suddenly at the sight that awaited her, Jenny curled into a ball with Bud virtually wrapped around her. Two sad translucent eyes came up to her, the look there was enough to smack all of Shannon's anger of the past right in the head. She slowly finished the steps, crouching, giving Bud a smile as he licked at her hand.
“I needed to stop.... it.... just got too much..... I'll be fine in a minute.” Each word was almost hiccupped.
Shannon relaxed a little, sitting back onto the step. “Okay.”
Jenny eyes finally came up. “Why?........ Why did you follow me?”
Shannon insides twisted again, Jenny sounded just like a lost child. “Because I needed to make sure you were okay.” She wanted to reach out she really did and just touch her, but right now she knew Jenny was struggling with her control.
Jenny didn't answer just continued to stare.
“You do know you're sitting in the dirt.” The light remark did nothing. “Jen. You know how I hate freaking out..... Well......” she motioned to her.
This time Jenny blinked, and slowly a smile came to her mouth. “I remember.”
Mentally Shannon exhaled, she rose, wiping her palms at her jeans. “Why don't we take this somewhere else? Somewhere safe.....” she just couldn't make herself say Claire's name.
Jenny eyes jumped to the apartment, a shadow passing over her face. “I don't think I could handle your mother again.”
“We can go anywhere you like?”
Jenny exhaled, forcing everything back behind that wall, rising. “I need to go home.” She knew she sounded pitiful, well, that's how she felt.
Surprised at Claire not being mentioned, Shannon took a step up towards the street level, making sure Jenny was hot on her heels. “Okay. But I'm not sure I can get a boat to take you back this late. Couldn't you, well, go to your friend's house?”
Jenny could tell it took a lot for Shannon to say that. “I should call her and let her know I'm okay and where to pick up her car.”
Shannon paused in her step looking back down over her shoulder to the upturned face of the psychic. “Left her car? Do I really want to know about this?”
Jenny managed a smile. “Long story, but it was impounded. I parked in the middle of the street, was in kind of hurry.”
Shannon frowned, she had a feeling that was an understatement extraordinaire. “Okay then. So? Should I take you back there, until you can get a ferry tomorrow?”
Jenny shook her head. “No. I want to go home.” Her voice held a note of despair.
Shannon gave a nod, almost feeling the panic herself. “Okay then. Let's get you home.” She walked two cars down, pressing her unlock on the keys, a wrangler jeep's headlights flashed ahead. She opened the passenger door, waiting for Jenny, she noticed Jenny gave her as wind berth as possible as she put Bud into the back, then got into to the car. Shannon slammed the door shut, moving around to the driver's side, catching out of the corner of her eye Jenny lift her cell to make a call. She couldn't help the jealousy, she really was going to have to get a handle on that. She got in and caught the tail end of the conversation.
“Yes I'm fine. …........... Please Claire I said I'm sorry..” Jenny's hand was shaking as she passed it through her hair. Her temper rising. “…... I'll pay any fine the damn car gets.......... yes I'm shouting I told you why I had to leave like that............ no..................... I'm going back to the island.” Jenny's eyes shifted to Shannon . “ Shannon is taking me.........” She moved the cell away from her ear.
Shannon could hear the yell.
Jenny exhaled. “…. Fine Claire you do that.......” She clicked the phone closed, then turned her gaze out the window, what Claire had said had hurt, but part of it was the truth, she was handling everything wrong and things were getting out of control again.
Shannon the whole time was keeping herself busy by starting the car and wondering as she pulled away from the sidewalk, how the hell she was going to get Jenny back on the island at this time of night.
It wasn't often Shannon called in favors, but the idea had come to her as they neared the Dasi Two airstrip. She looked over her left shoulder, grinning at Bud, his head so pressed to the helicopters side glass his breath left condensation, which he then licked off. She shifted looking back over her other shoulder to get a look at Jenny, she'd been quiet the whole time since Shannon had come up with the idea. Shannon knew the psychic was using the quietness to compose herself and distance herself from the surroundings. Shannon was just grateful no one suffered from air sickness, she'd promised Mackenzie she'd be the one to clean it up. She gave a soft smile to Jenny, not surprised when Jenny didn't acknowledge it in anyway.
“Coming up now. Where you want me to put her down?”
Shannon attention went to the pilot, a deep red headed woman, whose face showed the freedom of flying. “As near to her house as possible. It's the only white one on this side of the island, in between two sand dudes.”
Mackenzie dipped the helicopter, changing course.
Shannon pointed. “That's it.”
Mackenzie nodded. “Right. How about the beach? Tides out enough if you don't mind getting your feet wet. Wet sand is a lot easier on the rotors.”
Shannon grinned, she'd always like Mackenzie. She pulled her mind back as she felt the helicopter tilt, she swallowed hard.
Mackenzie laughed. “Sorry about that, updraft.”
Shannon threw her a look, bracing her hand against the curve of the canopy, as the helicopter dipped again.
Mackenzie just laughed harder as she banked the helicopter down to land on the wet sand.
Before Shannon could get her belt off, Jenny had hers off and was stepping down from the helicopter, letting Bud jump down, which he did then proceeded to shake himself and pee on the skip of the helicopter, with a snort he took off towards the house.
Mackenzie scoffed. “Charming.” Her eyes followed Jenny up the beach, heading towards the white house, she looked across to Shannon . “Not the thank you type is she?”
Shannon lifted off the headphones placing them on the side. “She's under a lot of strain. Getting her home meant a lot Mac. I'll say thank you for her.”
Mackenzie nodded, her eyes going back to the departing blonde. “Ahuh. Silent type, I dig it... and I'll forgive her cos she so cute.” Her eyes shifted to Shannon waiting, when she saw the slight blush, she paid herself mentally five dollars. Bingo!
Shannon coughed, half caught in undoing her belt. “Yea.”
Mackenzie watched Shannon carefully, many times she'd tried to get this little beauty into bed and many times she'd been given a false landing. She noted the way Shannon's gaze followed the blonde woman, a knowing smile came to her lips, one that wasn't bitter, just one of acceptance that Shannon was never ever going to look at her this way. Mind you she didn't blame her, the blonde was very yummy. She slapped Shannon on the arm. “So.... we're quits. Next time I'm going to want dinner and a movie and maybe some groping.” She wiggled her eyebrows, then burst into laughter when she saw Shannon blush again.
Shannon exhaled. “Maybe.” she let a smile twitch. Then her attention went back up the beach to Jenny's walking form. She didn't know what she was supposed to do. Stay? Go?
As if in silence answer Jenny stopped at the gateway to her yard, staring back, waiting.
Mackenzie caught the look between them and lord she wanted to whistle, it also meant dinner was just another pipe dream along with any chance of a grope. Shaking her head she looked up clicking on the rotor again. “Say good night Gracie, you're staying.”
Shannon blinked, breaking her gaze from Jenny, aware the helicopter was starting up again. “I am?”
Mackenzie reached across opening Shannon 's door. “Oh yea with a look like that. You're definitely staying my friend, and if you don't you're a bigger idiot then I thought.”
Shannon looked back up the beach. Did she want to stay here like this? Could she face what was to come? Know the truth? As she felt the rotor pick up speed she knew she was going to stay, it was as if it was out of her hands and hell be damned on the consequences. She leant across slapping Mackenzie on the shoulder. “Thanks…. and not just for the lift.”
Mackenzie somewhat startled, grinned. Hot damn that woman was sexy, for a brief moment she wondered what it would be like to be kissed by her and sucked and ….......... OOo whoa girl. She shook her head, humming. 'Pipe dreams nothing but pipe dream.' She waited for the door to close then with a wave, pulled back on the stick.
Shannon shut her eyes tight, wincing as sand spat and stung onto her face and body, until finally it settled enough for her to look up and wave. Taking a deep breath to steel herself, she turned, finding Jenny still waiting and slowly she started towards whatever lay ahead.
Jenny exhaled her held breath, watching Shannon walk up the beach towards her, she felt her heart rate pick up double time at the look that was being directed at her. She had waited with baited breath wondering whether Shannon would chose to stay, she knew this time she couldn't make the mistake of forcing the issue, so as much as she hated it she'd simple got out of the chopper and walked away, the whole time trying not to look back. But when she reached the house she couldn't help it she had to know, had to see. Now as Shannon walked towards her she didn't know which was greater inside her, relief, joy or fear.
Shannon stopped nervously in front of her. “Hi.”
Jenny smiled shyly. “Hi...”
Shannon suddenly realized no one knew where she was, she didn't have either her gun or her badge, hell she didn't even have underwear on.
Jenny wondered why Shannon suddenly blushed, but for whatever reason she let the warmth seep gently past her walls.
“I um...... well...... I thought I'd stay, just till tomorrow.” Shannon dug her hand into her back pocket.
“Okay.” Jenny wished she'd meet her eyes, she needed to know why she was staying, because she wanted too? Or some sense of obligation just like Claire had yelled at her down the phone?
“I can get a place to stay in the port?” Shannon looked up the beach not really believing she'd find anywhere to stay. She sighed, sleeping on the beach wasn't going to be too bad.
“You don't have to do that........” At that moment Jenny really realized how much she had missed Shannon , she'd forgotten how shy she was, how the self confidence she showed daily really was just a front. Look at me Shannon , please. “….The guest room is in the same place.......if you want to use it? I mean only if you want too?” She stumbled on her words. Shannon looked up briefly and for a moment Jenny not only saw the fear she felt it. Mouth dry she forced herself to keep her voice level. “ Shannon ..... I'm not going to push anything. I want to tell you things, explain, but right now I'm so damn tired I can't even see straight. Please just stay the night, if not for any other sake then the beach is sandy.” The joke was poor very poor, but she immediately felt the fear radiating slightly subside, she waited, hoping.
Shannon was relieved this wasn't suddenly going to be a question and answer session. She hesitated, thinking, then with a sigh she met Jenny's gaze again. “I need a bath and sleep Jenny, beyond that I don't think I can handle anything else right now either.”
Jenny simply nodded, although she felt the relief from both of them crackle in the air around. But still they stood there, as if neither one of them wanted to break this neutral ground.
Shannon looked away, smiling at the peacefulness around, the sound of the sea, the boat lights on the horizon. She inhaled the sea air, feeling it like menthol on her tender lungs. “I've missed this place.” her eyes slowly came back to Jenny. I've missed you. But her words were silent thoughts.
Jenny's face turned from where Shannon's had looked, meeting the intense blue gaze, she found it amazing that even in semi darkness Shannon's eyes shone. Her mouth was dry. “I've missed it too.” she looked down. I've missed you ... but just like Shannon 's they were silent thoughts. She turned heading up to the steps and door, well aware of how close Shannon was behind her. She let Bud in first who went straight to his bowl. She spoke as she walked across the room, well aware parts of her were shaking. “Do you mind if I take a bath first? I really need to go to bed.”
Shannon shook her head, her eyes taking in the house again, nothing had changed, it was as if a year hadn't past. “That's okay, but I need to borrow your cell. I have to arrange a couple of things and let them know where I am. Especially my …... um mother.” she blushed.
Jenny nodded, pulling the cell out handing it over, making sure not to touch any part of Shannon . Right now she was being held together by a wing and prayer. She headed to the bathroom, the strain of the last few days suddenly weighing on her so hard that she felt like she was walking in cement.
Shannon nearly followed, but knowing what Jenny really needed wasn't her, but space. She didn't follow, instead she looked over at Bud who was stood by his food bowl wagging his tail. She smiled as she went over. “I see something's don't change.”
“Arft.” he sat, waiting, his tail wagging faster.
Smiling more, Shannon took the kibble from under the sink, filling his bowl full, rubbing his back as he dug in with gusto. “You deserve it boy. You took good care of her.” Shannon throat closed at the thought, she had to get herself under control, she rose, lifting the phone, dialing the first number.
“Hi mom..... No I'm on the island with Jenny….” and thus she began what she knew was going to be a long question and answer session. She sat. “Yes mom I'm okay..........”
Jenny just stood just behind the closed bathroom door, taking her sunglasses off as she neared the sink, placing them on the cabinet shelf. She just stared at her reflection, she was tired, she was scared, and it all showed in her eyes. She could hear the soft muffled sounds of Shannon on the phone and for a moment she thought she was back in the past. But no not this time, things weren't going to be the same as they were before. So what would they be?
She wiped at her eyes, reaching across to turn on the tap and let the bath water run. She put the lid down on the toilet and sat, her hands scrubbed at her face. She couldn't stay in the bathroom forever, but could she handle what lay beyond the door if they did decide to talk. Could she explain everything enough for Shannon to truly understand. She rose, adding salts to the bathwater stirring it in with a hand, lost for a moment in the swirling purple. Her head came up as she heard Shannon raise her voice, she couldn't help the shiver when she realized she was still on the phone to her mother. Flicking the water free from her hand, she turned on the cold tap letting it get the right temperature, slowly stripping down to nothing, she stepped in, wincing slightly at the heat, quickly moving to turn the cold on more, when the temperature was set she turned off the taps and sat back, almost groaning as the warmth seeped into every muscle. Gently she closed herself down, concentrating on nothing but the warmth around her.
Shannon finally shut the cell, muttering under her breath the last frustrating thoughts aimed at her mother. She dialed the next one, choosing the sofa to sit. “Hi Jane.”
Jane sat up in bed, wincing as a burn came into contract with the sheet. “ Shannon ?” she looked across at the clock it was only just after one am.
“Yes. You okay?”
“Shit. I fell asleep.” Jane yawned, getting up, stretching, scratching her hair as moved down the stairs to the kitchen. “What's up?”
Shannon almost smiled at the image she was getting of Jane fresh from sleep. It was one of the running jokes with those who'd been on stakeout with her, how wild that women's hair got during a nap. “Nothing much. I'm just letting you know.........” she stopped, what exactly should she say here..... She scratched her neck.
Jane paused on putting coffee in the maker. “Letting me know what?” hairs rose. “You didn't do something stupid like go back to the scene did you?” she slammed the coffee can down enough to send a shower of coffee over her hand. “God damn it Shannon . You were supposed to go home and rest.”
Shannon actually moved the cell away from her ear wincing. “I did go home like a good little girl and then I had a visitor.”
Jane exhaled, this woman drove her nuts. “Yeah like who? Santa Claus?”
Shannon smiled. “No.... Jenny.” She winced as she heard a can being dropped. “Jane?”
Jane stared at the coffee around her feet, she wiggled her toes sighing as she felt the grains of Mountain Blue between them. “Sorry I thought you said Jenny for a moment. Think I preferred Santa Claus.”
“I did say Jenny and that's why I need a favor.”
Jane shook her head, taking out the mini Vax and began vacuuming up the mess. “Like what?”
“I'm on the island with her.” Shannon winced again as 'SON OF A BITCH' was shouted. Waiting until the swearing died down enough to continue. “I left home in a hurry. I've left my gun and badge.” she kept quiet about the underwear, besides she was becoming worried about the increase in breathing on the other end of the line. “Jane are you having an asthma attack? Did your lungs check out okay?”
“No I'm breathless because I'm just pleased to hear from you.” Jane sat, this was turning into being a very long day.
Shannon laughed, which tailed off. “Sorry if I've thrown you for a loop again. I didn't have time to contact you. She showed up at my door, then my mother showed up, then Jenny left and was upset and all she really wanted was to get home so I got her here.”
Jane sat on the kitchen floor, her hand going through her wild hair. It amazed her how one minute life was boring and fine and the next bedlam came to visit. “I only left you three hours ago Shannon . Wasn't this a little sudden? I mean going back with her... I mean last time I heard you didn't want to be in the same room.”
Shannon exhaled, confused herself. “I know. Believe me I know..... But she needed help.”
“Ahuh.......” Jane got up, seeing the coffee can was empty, she sighed again heavily, knowing there wasn't another one in the house. Right now she needed just one cup of coffee more than anything in the damn world. She looked at the mini Vax, shrugging she opened the Vax and dumped the coffee into the machine, picking out a few bits that didn't belong. She suddenly realized something. “How the hell you get her back there? Boats don't run this late.”
Shannon shifted. “Mackenzie.” she waited, she didn't have to wait long as Jane erupted in laughter. Shannon waited, and waited until finally annoyed. “Are you finished?”
“No.” Jane continued to laugh .
Shannon sighed, knowing why her partner was laughing so much; Mackenzie was known for embarrassing the hell out of her by any means necessary, sexual innuendo or otherwise. It wasn't that she was a prude but Mac was usual so full in the face about things it always caught Shannon unawares. “She actually behaved herself, so quit laughing.”
Jane wiped her eyes, slightly disappointed, she loved seeing Shannon embarrassed, it was so good to see someone so in control reduced to an embarrassed wreck. The first time they'd gone to interview Mac over a homicide found at the air strip, Mac had made Shannon blush within ten seconds flat. It surprised her the pilot had behaved, the southern belle took great enjoyment out of it. She narrowed her eyes. “She did? Or are you just saving that to get me to stop laughing?”
“No she really did.” Shannon frowned, now she was wondering why she did.
“Wow.” Jane poured the coffee adding a huge dash of cream and sugar before taking a long sip, spitting out a small bit of grit. “Well okay...... what you need me to get?”
Shannon 's mind came back. “My gun… Badge, change of clothes... I'm here in nothing but jeans and top. So bring a set of underwear will ya.”
Jane's eyebrows went up, grinning, her voice dipped to a husky one. “No undies. Oh la la. Bet Mac didn't know that!”
Shannon blushed. “Shut up! And no she didn't know I wasn't wearing any.”
Jenny stopped dead at the door, the towel in her hand pausing on rubbing dry her hair, wondering what sort of conversation she'd really walked in on and with whom? She really didn't want to hear anymore, she cleared her throat. “Um”
Shannon stood up so fast she nearly dropped the cell, knowing damn well she was blushing the deepest color she'd ever felt in her life. Her voice was a squeak as she spoke into the phone. “Just get the stuff and bring it here tomorrow with any new forensic and reports. Bye.” she clipped it closed. “Hi.”
Jane blinked staring at the phone. “Well your welcome.” Then burst out laughing again.
Shannon hated it when she fidgeted and right now she stood doing just that. She wasn't sure what expression was on Jenny's face but for some reason she felt the need to explain. “Um.... I was just telling Jane what I needed........no no not what I needed.... yes what I needed.” Shut up! Close your mouth. Her mouth snapped shut on command, she took in along breath. “…. that was Jane.” she held up the cell phone, wiggling it slightly, then mentally slapped herself. Get a grip ! “... I left in a hurry. I didn't have time to pack anything or get......... well everything.”
Jenny really really had to bite her lip, and then all on their own accord her eyes ran up and down Shannon 's form, then without permission her brain started to join in and add things, even a few images of no undies. She realized what she was doing, going redder then the both of them put together. She turned, pulling her dressing gown tighter, moving without looking back. “Bathrooms free.” her voice squeaked.
Shannon flinched as the door slammed. She exhaled low and even, looking across to Bud, seeing the laughter. “Something else still hasn't changed as well......” she walked past him, flicking his ear. “You're still a smart ass.”
He tried to nip at her hand but she was too fast, he gave chase right up until the point the bathroom door closed on his face, he snorted at the laughter, then he made his way to the bedroom door, scratching, adding a bark, sat waiting. The door opened enough for him to enter, tail wagging.
“She's still right. You are.”
The door closed.
He was angry, angry at all of them. He paced the room, showing every signs of a caged animal, his hand slammed into the wall, small pieces of plaster fell. He paced again, it was wrong, they'd made it wrong, turned it all upside down, he hadn't had time to watch all of it like he'd planned, they'd starting searching the warehouse much sooner than expected, he thought he could have at least watched till nightfall. But no, something had gone wrong!
“nononononononononononononon.” He slammed the table top this time, making the dishes on it jump. He stilled, raking in his emotions, pushing the anger away, he couldn't think when he was angry. This time when he paced it was methodical using the repetitive movement to straighten his thoughts. Something had gone wrong yes, somehow they had known where to look. How?
He moved to the worn armchair and sat, picking at the fabric under each hand with his nails, the sound vibrating in the room like chalk on a blackboard. Slowly he went over everything again, looking for his mistake, looking for the answer, looking for the why…. He wouldn't let this happen again.
He rose fast enough to send the chair back at the action, moving to the cellar door he unlocked it, clicking on the light, going to his work bench, the only true place to calm him. Then he began to make number seven. ‘Lucky seven.' His smile was a sneer as he molded the C4 into place, his lips moved as he began his silent mantra.
Shannon lay in bed, her eyes taking in the beams of the room, so familiar. But the scent around her wasn't. It was deep, perfumed, not something Jenny would go near in a million years to wear. It didn't take her being a detective to know the scent belonged to Claire Randell, she'd smelt it the first time she'd met the woman. She rolled on to her side.
What confused her was the fact the scent was in the guest room. She frowned, maybe Claire used it as a dressing room, she seemed the type. But even that didn't ring true, because she could smell the scent on the pillow. With a grunt of annoyance she pulled the pillow from under her and threw it across the room. So what did it actually mean…. Claire and Jenny weren't lovers? And if they were what the hell should she care. She smacked her forehead as if the action would rattle her brains enough to shut the hell up, it didn't, it just gave her another throb to add to the others. The scent on the bed linen was driving her nuts, she rose fast and in one swift movement stripped the bed down to the mattress, then got back on, she was still fully dressed anyway she had no intention of sleeping naked, she'd suffered enough embarrassment for one night. She groaned remembering the whole cell phone scene again. Her eyes slipped open, she sat up, slightly leaning on her elbows to keep from falling back. She'd been sure in that one brief glimpse into Jenny's shocked face, the green eyes had shone with jealousy. Shannon scoffed, flopping back, her arm going over her eyes. “Yea…. dream on.” With one last grunt she rolled over facing the wall, wrapping her arms around herself and finally gave into the over bearing need to sleep.
Jenny looked up as the guest room door opened, she inwardly smiled at the disheveled state of the detective. “Morning.”
Shannon yawned. “Morning. What time is it?”
Jenny rose, pouring out another coffee, adding sugar but no cream, placing it on the table in front of Shannon as she sat. “A little after ten, I didn't know whether to wake you or not..... I looked in earlier. Did you have a fight with the blankets?”
Shannon 's lips paused on the mug. “I was too hot. I'll tidy it up.” She took a sip, almost groaning as the taste washed away the dryness. Placing the cup down for a moment, she rotated her arm, rubbing at the joint.
Jenny froze, her eyes following the movement, she swallowed hard, the simple action hit her low in the gut, bringing everything back. Shannon continued oblivious working out the kinks in her shoulder until finally she was satisfied enough. Her hand paused on the cup as she reached for it, her blue eyes trapped in the anguished ones opposite her, feeling the sadness to the point she felt her own insides tighten. She gave a weak smile. “It doesn't hurt much anymore Jenny. It's okay.”
Jenny blinked, the words filtering in to her flashbacks, it took all she had not to sob. Instead she rose, using her palms flat on the table to give her the added support to rise, but the effort of it all sounded in her voice. “I can do you some breakfast?”
Shannon took another drink, seeing and feeling just how strained this was getting. “I'd like that.” she gave a smile.
Jenny answered the small smile. “Bacon? Eggs?”
Shannon frowned. “You stopped being a veggie?”
Jenny pulled open the icebox. “No. Claire.....” she didn't need to turn around to feel the chill. “…. she brought it over yesterday. Hash browns?” She kept her back to Shannon not wanting to see what look was being given, concentrating on making breakfast, concentrating on holding everything inside, all she seemed to do lately was battle falling apart. Part of her wanted to run again, get away to find that darkness again.
Shannon made herself take another drink of coffee. She was finding herself fighting the urge to just go and take Jenny into her arms, she could see her shaking from here, but she knew it wouldn't be welcomed anymore. She rose moving to the door, looking out towards the beach and sea. “Doesn't change much here does it?”
Jenny relaxed, knowing that Shannon wasn't watching her anymore. She put the bacon in the pan, stepping back as it spat. “Only after a storm, especially the big ones. There was a few when I was away.” She cringed, that made it sound like she took a holiday, her eyes darted to the dark form at the doorway, she saw the tense lines…. God, how she wished it was like before. She made herself turn and return to the cooking.
Shannon nodded, her eyes tracking to the movement over the left ridge, a smile tugged at her mouth as she recognized it as Bud. “He missed this place.”
Jenny stilled, then broke two eggs into the pan. “We both did.”
Shannon looked back at her, wanting to scream. ‘Then why the hell did you leave it?' Instead she just watched as Jenny made breakfast, well aware that Jenny knew she was being watched again. Finally she finished the coffee in her cup. “I'll just go wash up. I can't change till Jane gets here which should be in about an hour.”
Jenny concentrated on the pan, flipping the bacon and eggs, adding the hash browns. She couldn't turn around because she didn't really want to know what she'd see there, not yet. “No worries. Should be ready in about ten.”
Placing the cup down on the table Shannon made her way to the bathroom. Only then did Jenny turn her head in the direction as the door closed.
Jane slowed as she neared the two sand dunes, just seeing the corner of the white house. She took in a deep breath, she wasn't sure what her reaction to Jenny was going to be. She'd spoken to Marcus on the phone briefly that morning and hated not telling him Jenny had been on the mainland once again and still hadn't contacted him. Now as she walked the last part of the yard to the door, she found her anger wasn't just going to go away on this. Stopping at the door, she took one last breath in an attempt to quell it, then knocked.
Jenny poked her head out of the bedroom, smiling. “Jane. You're early.... Come on in. Shannon is just getting washed. I've just done her breakfast do you want some?” she pulled her hair into a pony tail as she moved towards the kitchen.
Jane shook her head as she entered. “No I ate earlier. Thank you.” She looked around slightly surprised Bud wasn't around. As if on cue a bark resounded behind her. She turned quickly, just fast enough to stop him knocking her for six. “Hey fur ball.” she ruffled his fur, catching his paws to push him back, having to place the bag she was carrying down to do so. She laughed as he got a lick in, but he got the message enough to back off. He trotted past her.
Jane turned, lifting the bag again and stood unsure at the door, her eyes going to where she knew the bathroom was. “Will she be long?”
Jenny smiled again, sensing the nervousness and something else.......... anger? “I shouldn't think so. Coffee?” She held up the coffee pot.
Jane gave a curt nod, moving now into the house, placing the bag on the floor, before she chose a chair to sit on.
“Let me remember, cream? Two sugars?” Jenny managed to keep the smile on her face.
Jenny got the coffee ready bringing it over, passing it across. Jane took it with a nod of thanks, her eyes were everywhere in the room but on Jenny.
Jenny silently sighed, wishing Shannon would hurry up.
Jane sipped her coffee, finally her eyes came to Jenny, surprised to find Jenny already watching her. She swallowed. She'd forgotten how strange Jenny's eyes really were. She blinked looking down into her cup. “If I ask you a question will you answer it?”
Jenny stiffened, then made herself relax. “I'll try.” she could tell this was something to do with the anger. “….But I'm not ready to talk about why I left. That's between me and Shannon .”
Jane's cheek muscle twitched. “Fair enough. Wasn't what I was going to ask anyway....”
“Why haven't you contacted Marcus?”
Jenny blinked, biting back her immediate response of 'it's none of your business'. Something in the way Jane looked at her made her let out a sigh instead. “To be honest. I don't know.”
Jane scoffed. “Thanks for the answer.” She took an angry slug from the mug.
“I'm not lying. I don't know. I think it's more I don't know how too.” Jenny looked down at her hands. “….It's gotten to the point it's been so long that I don't know how to apologize or explain.” she looked up meeting Jane's eyes. “Very much like with Shannon .”
Jane studied her, realizing she was telling the truth. She sighed, sitting back. “I think all you gonna have to do with him is call him...” she met Jenny's gaze. “… I think you owe him that much. Don't you?”
Jenny caught it then in Jane's expression, protectiveness, she was about to answer when she heard the bathroom door open, she rose instead, focusing on getting the breakfast from the warmer.
Shannon twitched a smile when she spotted Jane. “Hey.”
Jane rose, reaching for the bag, offering it over. “Hey yourself. Everything you asked for as requested boss.” She couldn't help the merriment.
Shannon took the bag, looking inside briefly, she pulled out two folders, looking to Jane in question. “The new forensics?”
Jane nodded, already moving to sit and go back to her coffee. “Nothing really new though. Except there is a more full report of what he's using now.”
Shannon placed the file on the table. “Fill me in a minute, I really need to get out of these clothes.”
Jane smirked. “It looks like you slept in them.” She noted the quick look Jenny gave Shannon with interest.
Shannon grabbed a piece of bacon off the plate, crunching. “Leave that there. I'll be back in bit.”
Jenny just shook her head placing the plate down, her eyes fell on the report. “Can I look at these?”
Jenny lifted them, opening the first as she sat, reaching across to snag her glasses off a book she'd been reading that morning, before sitting back and slowly going over each file.
Jane always found watching Jenny fascinating, the psychic became so engrossed in anything she did, sometimes Jane was sure she could feel the concentration and intenseness in the air.
After ten minutes the bathroom door opened again, Shannon emerged dressed in a light cotton pants and t shirt, her hair tied back. “Now I feel human.”
“You look better.... I'd give it more coffee till you looked human.” Jane grinned, catching the thrown bag, actually liking the fact that some of the old Shannon was coming back. Her eyes flickered briefly to the psychic, knowing she'd had something to do with it made her worry.
Jenny couldn't help it she watched the exchange between the two and felt a sudden pang of jealousy. She made herself look back at the report.
Shannon sat, lifting the knife and fork, tucking into her breakfast. “So... Jenny?”
Jenny looked over.
“What have you found out about this guy, except he likes fires.” Shannon chewed while she talked, sipping her coffee at intervals. She was hungrier than she thought.
“You read my notes on him?”
“Then you know he isn't like any other arsonist.” Jenny took off her glasses throwing them down onto the coffee table. “Most arsonists light their fires at night or near dusk.”
“But he did that in the first two?” Jane asked.
“Yes he did. But it wasn't because he needed to do them at night. All two and the fifth warehouse fires were tests. He was testing the emergency service response time. He was also testing his method.” Jenny walked out of the room to the study; snagged the file she'd been working on and came back, offering it over to Shannon .
Shannon licked the egg off her thumb before taking it, opening it. Surprised eyes lifted to Jenny. “You tracked the whole of the emergency services for those two weeks.”
Jenny gave a smug smile. “Yes.”
“How in the hell did you do that? That's restricted information.”
Jenny shrugged. “Not if you ask nicely.”
Jane laughed, figuring out right away how Jenny had done it. “You contacted Jack, told him you were on the case?”
Jenny eyes sparkled.
Shannon shook her head, her eyes going back to the Jenny's report. “Okay so you found out what exactly by having all these fire station logs?”
“Each fire station has a jurisdiction which covers an area. Each substation has an overlap in that area to cover. When I requested the logs I needed to know if any other fire was on going at the time of the arsonists. To rule out a two person team, or to rule out him actually knowing and having communication within the fire department.”
Shannon nodded. “It's easy enough in today's tech world to pick up a scanner.”
Jenny nodded. “Yes. But he isn't listening to a scanner; if he is, he isn't using the information to work into his plans for the fires.” She pointed at one of the sheets. “….Two fires were reported and attended too on the night of the third warehouse fire. Their response time to his fire was slower then usually, a substation had to cover the area that night. If he'd known that, I very much doubt he would have set his fire.”
Jane frowned. “Why not?”
“The substation is ten miles closer to him. He would have been caught off guard.”
Shannon finished the last of her breakfast pushing the plate away so she could open up the file fully on the table. “Or he did know that and wanted to test his escape time?”
Jenny smiled. “Maybe. But I'm going with the theory he knows times and distance and responses. It's the only way he'd feel safe enough to just casually go to a high point and watch his work. He takes all the time he needs in everything he does and he does a lot. Think about it. If he's just an arsonist why stage so much, moving the furniture away, laying out exactly how he wants the fire to react….” She paused, her brow creasing. “…. There's something about it I can't point my finger on.” She shook her head clear, meeting their eyes again. “Anyway everything he's doing is to his time line, everything is preplanned.”
Jane snorted. “Except yesterday, we very nearly had the little shit.” She subconsciously rubbed at the burn on her arm.
Jenny felt chilled, she moved to the kitchen pouring a coffee. “Yes except yesterday.” Her voice was low.
Shannon watched her, slightly worried. As if knowing it Jenny moved back to sit, giving a small smile. Shannon didn't believe the smile for a minute but she wasn't going to start something now. Her attention went back to Jane. “What did forensic come up with at this fire?”
Jane pulled the fire report over. “He's changed his M.O slightly. He's using more explosives.”
Shannon scoffed. “Well that explains why the damn building came down on us.”
Jenny made herself sip her coffee, ignoring the terror those words brought.
Jane turned the file on the table to another page. “He used a lot more accelerant this time along with the explosive. They pulled a print off the fragmented casing….. But there were no matches in any database, the FBI the guys we all know and love........”
Both Jenny and Shannon snorted.
“…. are beginning to wonder if this guy is working for some sort of cell?”
Shannon stiffened. “Don't tell me they're already yelling terrorism on this?”
Jane shrugged. “All I know is when I left the precinct this morning Grieves was madder than hell that the Feds were on his ass again.”
Shannon let her eyes take in the whole report. It was pretty much the same as all the others. The one big change as Jane had mentioned was the usage of more explosives. That worried her, it worried her because an arsonist has a M.O. which they follow, they set fire to things and things burn, explosions happen because of the fire itself…. It was either done for revenge, a sense of righting a wrong or just plain fire bugging. She rubbed at her temple, well aware she was already getting a headache. She looked up, seeing the expecting eyes watching her. “What did you get off of him yesterday?” Her gaze fell on the psychic.
Jenny relaxed back. “He was very pleased with himself. Sexually excited.” she made a face. “….He so gets off on all this. He likes to watch, that's very important. From the other fires it's pretty much the same feeling, there's no anger, no other emotion except he has a task to do and he loves doing it. There is something else... something much deeper….older….” she frowned as she tried to get a connection to it now. “….But I can't get it yet. I need to do more work.”
Shannon nodded. “Pretty much where we all are right now.”
There was something in the way Shannon said it that made Jenny tilted her head. “You felt something?” she flinched as blazing blue eyes shot up to her, she actually sat back. “I …. I didn't read you. I can't remember.”
Shannon clenched her jaw, willing her anger away. She rose. “So now you sense me again. Great…” her anger stuttered when she saw genuine fear in the translucent eyes. She stepped back, tearing her eyes away. “Look thanks for breakfast, I need to get back….Do you want Jane to stay here?”
Jenny was still in a slight state of shock at the invasion of anger and the venom of the words. “No.”
Shannon gritted her teeth. “You sure?”
Without another word Shannon grabbed up her bag and left the house.
Jane was still sitting on the sofa blinking, wondering what the hell had happened this time, she looked across to the psychic and felt nothing but sadness in what she saw, the psychic looked devastated.
“Jen....” she waited until the psychic looked at her. “….Talk to her. Tell her whatever it is. Whatever the reason you left. If you can't do that...... then leave her alone.” Jane rose moving to the door. “Don't start all this again… .For both your sakes.” Looking back for a moment before she broke out into a light run to go and catch up her partner.
Jenny inhaled a ragged breath, well aware the warmth she felt was Bud close. She made herself get up and push everything away, heading to the study, heading to the one place she could lose herself right now, work.
“Stupid, stupid, stupid.” Shannon smacked her palm against her leg. Slowing her pace when she heard her name called for the third time, turning to find Jane hot on her heels.
Gulping breath Jane drew to a stop. “Jesus you got long legs.” She could still tell Shannon was angry. “You don't have to tell me what that was all about I got it.”
Shannon jaw muscle twitched. “I was stupid.”
Jane shook her head. “I doubt Jenny sees it that way. But I think you either got to talk it out with that woman or get the hell away.”
Shannon 's eyes narrowed. “And what business is it of yours. I'll handle things in my own damn time.”
Jane scoffed. “Yea right. If and when either of you quit running.”
Shannon had had enough, she turned only to find her arm taken and pulled back around, she glared.
“Oh please like that works on me….” But Jane still took her hand away. “I'm sorry I know this is hard. But we have a case here. One which I think is going to blow wide open soon. We need her…. We need you…. Both of you are so caught up in what happened before neither of you are thinking straight.” Jane took a breath, calming her voice. “ Shannon . Can't you two form a truce for now? Anything so we can get your focus back on the case and out of each other's heads!”
Shannon looked away, her gaze nowhere. She knew Jane was right, she knew she was losing control of not only the case but herself. She needed to refocus. She exhaled. “You're right.” Her gaze settled on Jane. “But I can't be around her right now…. Will you keep an eye on her?”
“You don't have to ask…. What are you going to do?” Jane tried reading her eyes but got nothing.
“I'm going to go back and work over some of the reports, see what Grieves wants to do about the FBI.”
“Okay. Anything you want me to do?”
Shannon nodded back down the beach to the house. “Make sure she gets everything she needs. Go back and answer any question I know she's going to have about the forensic.”
Shannon glanced down at her watch, she had ten minutes till the next ferry out. “Meet me back at the precinct at 3. I want go over the insurance claims and manifest.”
That was enough to make Shannon lose the last of her tension, she smiled. “See you at three.” She jogged backwards for a moment, then turned heading towards the port.
Jane followed her with her eyes until a sand dune obscured her view. Taking a deep breath, she headed back to the house.
Jenny knew she wasn't alone, but she didn't raise her head from what she was reading, knowing who it was. “Is she alright?”
Jane moved away from the doorframe. “About as alright as you are?”
Jenny gave a weak smile. “That bad then.”
“I should have knocked. I um…. actually didn't think about it. I sort of barged right in…. Sorry.”
“Don't worry about it. Bud knew it was you as well as I did. He's there if you try anything anyway.” This time she looked up, shifting her gaze to Bud who was standing behind Jane. Jane twisted, looking down, jumping slightly, which made Jenny smile.
“Jesus I didn't even see him or hear him. Um…. Hi fur ball.”
Bud snorted and headed back into the living room.
Jenny returned her attention to the files.
Jane's eyes took in the den. It looked very much how it once had before, crime scene photographs lined the walls, with Jenny's writing underneath
Very methodical, very Jenny, it made her smile.
“Why are you back?”
Jane turned her focus to Jenny. “She's worried about you…. That plus she knew you'd have questions about the new forensic. I'm meeting her later.”
Jenny took off her glasses, throwing them down, before meeting Jane's eyes. “She doesn't have to worry. I can take care of myself now.”
Jenny sighed. “I didn't mean that the way it sounded.”
Jane shrugged, moving more into the room. “Yea you did. You've always resented having someone watch you. Why should it change now.”
An awkward silence fell.
Jane was the first to break it. “So? Any questions yet about the files?”
“Did you read they've identified a substance in the explosive?”
Jane nodded. “Sure, seashell dust.”
“Why use it? Isn't there a better bonder out there?”
Jane thought for a moment. “I suppose…. but it's not unheard of to buy a bonder compound to mix the explosive with.”
“But according to the report it wasn't powdered, it was added, tiny pieces of oyster shell.”
Jane shook her head slightly. “Sorry, I think you need to talk to someone who knows more about explosives than I do.”
Jenny nodded, putting her glasses back on she turned one of the files to Jane. “This fire…. Number five…. Why did he use so much accelerant this time?”
Jane looked over the report. “Bigger fire?”
“I suppose, but the amount of explosive he used started its own fire this time. He wasn't so careful of other things around. Do you see the circle?”
Jane looked at the crime scene photograph on the wall Jenny was pointing too. “Isn't that just the blast area?”
Jenny rose, going to the photographs. “No not the crater, I mean the area around, can't you see the overall outline of a circle of the whole fire?”
Jane stepped around the desk, drawing nearer, her gaze shifting from each photograph. “Yea…. Yea I see it.” She looked to Jenny in question.
“I don't know what it means….yet. But it's in all the sites, it changes size, but it's always a perfect circle and within it different levels of ash and outlines. I think it's why he moves things out of way. He doesn't want the circle to be…….”
“Broken?” Jane felt the itch of sweat on the back of her neck. “Satan?”
Jenny shook her head. “He isn't satanic, there would be other ritual items present and there isn't.”
“He could use them there and take them away?”
Jenny smiled. “He could, but I'm…. well…… I'm not…..”
Jane relaxed. “You're not getting the Satan vibe?”
“No.” She didn't know why but she felt embarrassed and looked down.
“You know that spooky stuff still gives me the heebie jeebies don't you?” Jane shifted uncomfortably.
This time Jenny's smile was soft. “Yes.”
“Good, glad we got that cleared up.” Jane moved passed Jenny to get closer to the picture wall. “So, he makes a circle, and he sets the accelerant to ignite within the circle in some sort of ….. shape?”
Jenny nodded, waiting.
“Why else would you make a fire circle.” Jane stroked her chin. “Fires are Pyres? Signals?”
Jenny head shot up. “Say that again.”
Jane's eyebrows rose. “Um…. Why else wou…”
“No. not that bit, the end part.”
Jane just stared. “Did I just do something again?”
Jenny grin widened. “Yes.” She turned, going through the papers on the desk quickly.
“Mind telling me what I did?”
Still shifting through, Jenny answered. “A signal, he's making a signal. I knew there was something I was feeling. I couldn't put my finger on it…. Drums.”
Jane frowned. “Drums.”
“Yes. I heard them…. Well felt them.”
“He's drumming? Who does he think he is Ringo Starr?”
Jenny chuckled and shook her head, finding what she was looking for. “No he isn't the one drumming.” She turned holding up the photograph she was looking for, it was cut from a newspaper.
Jane's eyes dipped, looking it over, it was an aerial shot of the 5 th fire, she could make out the charred roof of the fire area. “I'm sorry I don't….”
“Squint at the picture.”
Sighing and unconvinced Jane squinted. “It's a blur.”
Jenny waited patiently.
“I… hey is that an image in the ash?” she looked up surprised. “….kinda looks like those fake Mars shots.”
Jenny bit her lip, nodding. “I think so. I thought it was shadows playing tricks but I really think it is… I can't make out what.” She looked up from the photo. “Jane I need aerial shots of all of the fires…. Detailed, close, clear shots. But I don't want the press knowing. I don't want him knowing I'm looking. It's got to be done quietly. I can't…. I can't chance a leak from within the police.”
Jane scratched the back of her neck, thinking, then a very evil smile came to her lips. “Oh I know just the person.”
Jenny looked at her quizigly. “You do?”
“Ahuh so do you. She flew you in here…. Be right back gonna make a call.” She was already chuckling as she left.
Jenny wondered why she suddenly got the idea that Shannon wasn't going to be too pleased with Jane's choice.
Shannon stared at the phone in her hand, then replaced it back to her ear. “Say that again you did what?”
Jane repeated. “I'm at Delta two with Jenny. I've hired Mac to help us take some aerial photos of the fires.” She had to bite her lip to stop herself laughing.
Shannon grimaced, imaging Jane and Mac together, with Jenny listening in. “Who's idea was this? And why the hell does Jenny need sky shots?”
Jane winched at the tone. “Look, why don't you just come on down here. Mac needs to do preflight checks and other stuff. Then she's meeting us here.”
“No. You set it up you handle it. Let me know what is going on next.” Before Jane could answer Shannon slammed down the phone.
Jane just managed to pull the phone away from her ear before her eardrum burst. “Well….. That went well.”
Jane watched as Jenny approached across the interior of the aircraft hangar. “ Shannon isn't coming.”
“Oh.” Jenny looked away, as she came to a stop, knowing she didn't hide her disappointment.
“She's busy with something else.” Jane inwardly cringed, that sounded so lame. “I mean….”
“I know what you meant. Can we get this over with.”
“I can arrange that.”
They both looked round to the voice.
Jane grinned, noting that this woman hadn't change, she still was taller than hell, dressed in the same worn holey tight blue jeans and black flight boots. As she took in her friends approaching swagger, she realized Mac had been working out more, the muscles drew the fabric of her black shirt tight. She could see why others batted for the other team. “You're looking good Mac.” She moved forward, taking the extended hand.
“Well Cher . I can say the same about you.” Mac let her eyes travel over the detective, till the point she got the blush she wanted, she laughed deeply, then her eyes shifted. “Well hello again Miss Newton.” She offered out her hand, wondering if she'd take it.
Jen did, surprised at the warmth she felt radiate, she pulled her hand back. She hadn't really taken any notice of the pilot before, but now in the light of day she could really see how attractive she was. Not for the first time she wondered how Shannon knew her. “Hello. Thank you for doing this.”
Mac grinned. “How could I refuse.” Her eyes twinkled. She clapped her hands together, the slap echoing around the hanger. “Right. I've got clearance to all five sites we can leave as soon as I've done the precheck. So are we waiting for the stud?”
Jane didn't think it was possible but she choked on air. “Um.” Her eyes shifted to Jenny seeing the confused look. “No…. it's just us.”
“Ahuh.” Mac felt Jenny's intent gaze on her, it gave her goose bumps. “No pooch?”
Realizing she was staring, Jenny dropped her gaze. “No. He didn't travel well last night. He's in the car.”
“Alright then….” Mac stepped back sweeping her arm across gallantly. “Shall we ladies.” She flashed a blinding set of teeth.
Jane snorted, looking at Jenny sideways, wondering how Jenny was going to handle Mac. Her eyes slid to Mac as they all fell into step and walked out of the hangar into daylight and towards the helicopter. As they neared she wondered how Shannon was going to handle knowing Mac was alone with Jenny and that thought as she stepped up into the front seat of the helicopter made her wince.
Jenny found a strange sense of peace as the helicopter banked over the bay heading towards the first warehouse, she looked down into the blue sea below, making out the coral and sand bed. Even the noise of the rotors didn't intrude into the moment. Flying, it was how she felt when she first dipped into the past, weightless and floating, right before she slammed into the wall of events and whatever she was looking for, where she physically felt the blow that shattered the peace and the beauty of her gift. Her eyes shifted to the back of Mac. She really didn't know what to make of the pilot, every other sentence she'd spoken held sexual innuendo of some sort, she took great pleasure in making other people uncomfortable, it was more than likely a defense mechanism, put others into that environment, therefore protecting herself. But still, she sensed something better underneath and she knew she'd more than likely end up liking her. Her gaze went back to the view, sitting forward as she recognized the building below.
“Coming up on your warehouse now. I'll start taking pictures with the onboard camera at one hundred feet then move closer on each pass taking a shot…..” Mac glanced over her shoulder. “… That sound good to you?”
“Yes. Try and get as much as you can of the inside. I need mostly the centre of the fire and surrounding circle.”
“Gotta ya.” Mac banked the helicopter steeply, chuckling as she heard Jane moan. “Starting my run sweethearts, hold on to your panties.”
Jenny gripped the seat, grinning as she felt the world shift into weightlessness.
Jane grabbed her stomach. “Oh god.”
Laughing Mac continued her fly-by as planned, her thumb pressing the button on the yoke, making the under belly camera take each shot.
Jane didn't think she'd ever what to eat again, her stomach felt like it was somewhere plastered to the ceiling of the helicopter. As she stepped from the cockpit she actually contemplated throwing up all over the smug looking Mackenzie.
As if sensing it Mac stepped back, grinning. “How about a nice chilly dog.”
Jenny stepped down, surprised when Mac offered her hand to aid the rest of the way, she took the hand, nodding in thanks.
Mac took the time to make sure she got every angle of the blonde, surprised when she found sun glassed eyes staring at her and a smirk plainly letting her know she was caught in the act. She dropped Jenny's hand. “Well. I'll just go and get those images set up.”
“You do that.” Jenny smiled letting her know she was amused and not offended.
“Right.” Mac dipped under the helicopter.
Jenny watched as she disappeared. “How long have you known her?”
Jane straightened up. “Couple years. The boss knows her alo….” She stopped herself, she was saved from explaining anymore when Mac came up between them.
“Got it.” She waggled the digital camera. “If you ladies would like a cup of coffee my office ain't much, but its cooler then out here.”
Jane waited for Jenny to answer, unsure.
“I'll just get Bud, he's going to need a drink.”
Mac moved very close, pointing past her to the row of buildings past the hangar, taking in a breath of Jenny's scent. “My office is the last one on the complex.”
Jenny moved away, stiffening at the close proximity. “Thanks.” Her voice was cold.
Jane watched as Mac watched Jenny, knowing that look. “Don't go there.”
Mac turned to look at her, about to grin when she realized Jane was serious. “You're her protector cher?”
“I'm her…” What exactly was she?
“I'm Shannon 's friend and I take care of her friends.” She stepped closer. “Don't play with this one Mac. She's been…. They've been through too much.”
Mac was about to fob it off, until she caught the look directed at her. “Shannon and her?”
Jane exhaled. “Shannon and her are something. If my life depended on it I couldn't tell you what the hell that is. But they don't need more complications.”
Mac pointed to herself. “And I'm a complication. Tsk…. I should be hurt. What harm is it to play.”
Jane shook her head. “You're playing with fire.”
Mac laughed, throwing her arm around Jane's shoulder, pulling her into step with her as she walked. “I'll take your warning….” She dipped her head, breathing words into Jane's ear, her voice low, seductive. “….Maybe I'll play with you instead. Eh?” Mac roared with laughter as Jane pulled away from her blushing and cursing.
Jenny sipped her coffee watching the Cajun woman, aware that Jane was watching her. She knew she shouldn't feel safe but right now but she did. She wondered if it was because Bud was sticking to her like glue. She smiled ruffling his fur, smiling more as he looked up at her before returning his gaze back to the strange woman. Jenny knew exactly how he felt, she didn't know what to make of her either.
“Got um. You want hard copy.”
“No problem.” Mac sent the command to the digital printer, she was up from her seat to get it, passing them over, pride on her face. “Even if I do say so myself nice shots.”
Jenny took it immediately looking at each, she'd hoped for more, she could make out the damaged area a little clearer, the stark destruction on the building, but the inside shots were still too distorted, she knew they couldn't have gotten any closer, the last shots of each warehouse were taken with the helicopter hovering low enough to send ash into the air. She realized as she looked, it was the shadows of the building itself which made it impossible to see.
Mac saw the disappointment. “Something wrong?”
Jenny exhaled, passing the pictures to Jane hoping she might see something, but she could tell Jane couldn't see any better then she could.
Mac repeated. “What's wrong?”
Jane sat back. “We were hoping for a better look at the insides of the building, especially the ash.”
“Yea.” Jane threw the pictures onto the desk.
“Why the hell didn't you say something.” Mac returned to the desk calling up the images. She looked over to each of them. “Well…. How clear you want um?”
Jenny rose, moving behind Mac, looking over her shoulder to the screen, seeing what she was doing. “You can enhance the image?”
“I can do a lot more than that. Cher , didn't Jane tell you some of my customers hirer me to check out things that they don't want certain law enforcement to find out.”
“I'm so not hearing this.” Jane shook her head.
Mac grinned at her. “This software can show up the freckles on a southern virgin…. Course you gotta find the virgin first and that'll take more than just software honey.” Mac wiggled her eyebrows.
Jane rolled her eyes. “Oh please.”
Jenny felt herself blush.
Mac's whole attention was fixed on the fact Jenny was leading over her, she wondered what her eyes looked like under those shades. She shook her head clear. “So how close you want?”
Jenny couldn't help it she grinned. “Close. Especially inside the buildings.” She reached across snagging one of the photos's, showing it to Mac, she ran her finger into a circle. “This area as clear as you can get it.”
Jenny watched as the image on the screen became nothing but pixels, each pixel zoomed in distorting the image into blur. Mac clicked over each one, clicking over and over again until the image itself became enlarged and clear as a bell. Grinning Mac sat back. “How's that?” she pressed print.
Jane rose, taking each one as it printed, grinning as each image came out larger, she could now make out that the ash was a defiant pattern. She felt Jenny draw up beside her, she passed each of the pictures too her. “It's something but I still don't know what the hell it is?”
Jenny studied it, studied it till her eyes hurt. Then slowly a smile grew, she looked over to Mac. “I could kiss you.”
Both Mac's eyebrows shot skyward and for the first time in a long time she was speechless, then as if a sixth sense kicked her in the head, she looked over her shoulder to the doorway, there stood six foot of not very happy stud! Swallowing and sitting straight, at the look directed at her, somehow Mac found her voice. “Oh…. Hi.”
Jenny head shot around. “ Shannon !”
Jane looked to the heavens.
Shannon calmed down her initial reaction of turning around and just walking out. The fact that Jane was in the room when Jenny was offering to kiss the pilot was the only reason she was letting her brain make sense of it all. She ignored the dull ache at the fact Jenny hadn't sensed her approach this time either. “Wanna tell me what I've missed?”
None of them moved. Finally Bud had enough of humans staring at each other so he rose, wagging his tail as he greeted his friend.
Shannon smiled at him, ruffling his fur before moving fully into the office. “So?” she looked to each of them.
Jane finally found her voice and began filling Shannon in on exactly what they were doing.
Shannon listened, well aware that Jenny's eyes had never left her. When she was up to date she moved to the photos, hiding her smile as Mac flinched as she bent forward taking one off the desk. “Mind if I take a look.”
Mac shook her head quickly.
Jenny wasn't sure if she should be explaining herself. She was more concerned by the fact Shannon wouldn't even look at her.
Shannon looked up from the picture. “I know it.” Everyone looked at her. “It's native American Indian.” She looked at Jane. “It's a jaguar, in this one anyway.” She shifted through the others. “I don't recognize any of the other symbols. I think this one might be fire.”
Jenny took the photos back, looking through each. “Native American. You're sure?”
Shannon nodded. “That one is.” She moved towards Mac. “Can I use your computer?”
Mac pushed herself away, letting the wheels on the chair take her to safety. “Knock yourself out.”
Shannon called up the internet, going to where she knew she'd seen the symbol. “I saw it once when I visited a museum down on Marco Island couple years ago. That symbol is next to some sort of idol they found of a carving….. Here.” She turned the monitor to Jenny. “A jaguar.”
Jane exhale in surprise. Her eyes darting from the screen to the printed close up. “Jesus. It matches the whole damn area. The crater is the eye. He moved the furniture and stuff to form the whole damn thing.”
Jenny looked at Shannon in wonder. She thought about offering her a kiss, but thought better of it. She cleared her thoughts. “It doesn't match the other two only fire five. Are there other symbols in this tribe?”
Shannon went back to the comp, calling up the main page.
“That's the bat, does it match any of them?”
All of them now were focused on the pictures.
Mac pointed. “Fire two kinda looks like it.”
Jenny focused on it, making out the distorted metal and charred remains around the right side. “Yes. See, he's using the accelerant to make the main edges. That's why he's using so much of it. He's using it as a template.”
Shannon clicked the next image page.
Jane saw it immediately. “Hey that's fire one. What is it?”
“An eagle.” She clicked next.
All of them looked to the screen then to the printouts. Jenny finally shook her head. “That doesn't match. What is it?”
Shannon answered as she pulled up the next one. “That's earth and I agree it ain't there. This is night.”
Again all eyes went back to the image and the printouts.
Jane tilted her head then tapped at the picture in Jenny's hand. “Turn it.”
Jenny did so. Now seeing what Jane had seen. “Fire two.” She looked to Shannon . “Anymore?”
“Just one. This……..”
“…… it's the symbol for the sun.”
They all looked at the last picture.
Jenny exhaled. “It's the third one.”
All of them looked at each other.
Jane was the first to speak what everyone was thinking. “So what in the hell does it mean?”
Jenny acted first, moving to the computer, well aware she brushed into Shannon by the jolt to her senses. She swallowed. “What tribe is this?”
Shannon felt it too, she stepped well out the way. “Calusa. They were among the first settlers of the Keys, from what I can remember about ten thousand years ago.”
Jenny scanned over the site, quickly pulling out her memory pen from her bag, inserting it, she started to download the information she wanted. When she was finished she turned. “I need to get back. I have to find out what all this means?”
Mac stepped forward before Shannon could say anything. “I'll drop you off, front door delivery guaranteed.”
Jenny stared to Shannon waiting for her to say something. When nothing came she gave a weak smile to Mac. “Thank you.”
Mac stepped back letting her pass, grinning. “Oh believe me my pleasure.” The smile froze on her face when she met Shannon 's glare. Instead of backing down she leant into her. “Should have said something stud.”
Shannon just folded her arms, knowing already she'd been an idiot not to object.
Jenny stopped at the door briefly, addressing Jane. “I'll let you know what I find.” Without another look to anyone, she called Bud to her and followed Mac out the door.
Jane just shook her head. “You want me to go with her?”
Shannon teeth hurt from the pressure she was putting on her jaw. “No.” Her eyes drifted to the screen. “There's one symbol he hasn't done. There's going to be at least another fire.”
Jane nodded. “Yea…. I figured that too.” She rubbed her brow. “But what the hell does it all mean? He likes making pretty pictures.”
Shannon 's mouth twitched. “Jenny will figure it out.” Her eyes went out the window, watching Mac help Jenny into the chopper.
Jenny was tired, beyond tired, her back hurt, her eyes hurt and she was pretty sure if her ass wasn't so numb that would be hurting too. She stretched as she rose, grabbing the coffee cup off the desk as she made her way out of the den. She tried to stop the yawn but it won out, she yawned till her jaw cracked. She clicked on the kettle, glancing down at her watch, surprised to find it was well after 3 am. She'd been working for over twelve hours, she started as soon as she'd managed to get Mac to leave. She couldn't help it she smiled. Her aunt would have called Mac a lovable rogue, except this rogue was highly sexed and very attractive, she could see how woman would fall at Mac's feet. She shivered, yesterday had been hard, Mac's advances had been almost too much to handle in the confides of her home. Eventually Mac had gotten the message and left.
She filled the cup with instant, not having the energy to set up the coffee machine. She yawned again. Had she eaten? Her stomach immediately told her the answer. NO! She broke open a box of salt crackers, chewing as she made the coffee. She looked over her shoulder when she heard the ‘woof'
She had a moment of complete déjà vu.
Bud tilted his head, ‘woofing' again.
“Sorry, I forgot you too didn't I.” She immediately filled the dogs bowl with kibble, giving him a quick hug before grabbing her coffee and moving to the rocker by the window.
His tail wagged as he tucked in.
She let the motion of the rocker, calm her thoughts. She'd found out so much in her research, yet at the same time had found out nothing. What did it all mean? The arsonist was defiantly using ancient Mayan symbols in the fires, but each symbol had a different meaning. She sipped the coffee. Why would he use them? Did he think he was an ancestor fulfilling a destiny? Leaving a message? She needed more information. She'd already put out feelers for information on the land sites themselves, maybe they had something to do with the Calusa?
She sat forward, rubbing her temple, sipping again. She was too tired to think and she knew it. But she also knew she couldn't sleep not when her mind was like this, a viper of questions striking into every second thought. Then there was the other matter. She groaned. Shannon . She so wanted Shannon to bring her back, wanted to tell her everything. She felt she was losing her or she'd already lost, time was slipping away from so much she wanted to do and say.
She rose, finishing the last of the coffee, placing the cup in the sink. Putting the crackers away, it felt such normal thing to do, a normal night. She blew out the last of the lamps. Opening the front door, letting Bud run out, she inhaled the sea's scent, welcoming the breeze on her face, her gaze going to the moon. She remembered another time like this; she'd wanted to kiss Shannon so much that night, but the fear had won out. She brushed away the moisture from her eyes. No, there weren't any normal nights for her anymore, there was always going to be a killer or worse. Her eyes closed briefly as she erected her walls, shutting out the world. She waited till Bud had finished his nightly business, then she closed and locked the door, before heading into the bedroom and sleepless torment.
Return to the Academy