Marcus was tired, he'd been following the ‘poppy' trail now for over three hours. Sometimes losing it and then finding it when he was about to give up and go to his hotel room and sleep. He was now near the park area of the third victim. He was beginning to get an uneasy feeling about the whole trail, it was as if he was being led somewhere. He'd talked himself into believing it was just his over active imagination. One thing he did know as he moved into the park itself. The trail he was following now, wasn't something from three months ago, this one was alive, too present time. In a way it didn't surprise him he'd picked up a more resent trail, it wasn't a far reach for a sadistic killer to revisit the scene, for some it wasn't a logical act it was a need a deep rooted urge, to relive the feelings, to relive the power.
The more Marcus followed the more he began to believe the thread he was following, the killer had been back. He stopped, looking around the parkland, seeing the families play, seeing the students sitting to study. The park didn't hold any of the eeriness he felt inside. The one question rattling around in his brain as he stepped in the direction of where the body had lay, was exactly how long ago did the killer come back? And how close was he following in his footsteps. He paused, stilling his body, feeling the poppy's again. What was that? Why was it so prominent in the killer's mind?
Why couldn't the killer distance himself from it? Like he did the rest of his emotions. What hold did it have and why?
He passed through the woodland until he reached the area by the river and bridge, stopping near where the body laid. Sometimes he wished he was like Jenny, that he could just reach out his senses and catch the essence. He looked around, moving away from the area, towards the river, reaching up he grabbed hold of a branch to steady himself as he stepped over a fallen rotting tree. His body shivered, his eyes going upward to where his hand still held the limb. It was there, the poppies again, so strong, it tingled his skin. His eyes shot around the area, trying to peer into the trees around. He dropped his hand stepping back slowly, his hand shaking as he reached for his cell phone, backing away from the trees and the river's edge as if they held the devil himself. He didn't he'd been this afraid in his life.
Shannon looked up as her cell sounded, reaching across, she saw who was calling, she flicked it open. ‘'Marcus?''
He swallowed to keep his voice steady. ‘'Listen. He's revisiting the sites, all of them.''
Shannon sat straight, she could hear his fear. ‘'You're sure? Where are you?''
He ran his hand through his hair, as his head shifted from left to right, searching the area around him. ‘'Yes I'm fucking sure. I've been tracking him all day from crime scene to crime scene. I'm at the park, I think the basterd is watching me.''
‘'I believe you. Now get out of there. I'll send a unit down to pick you up.''
He started walking backwards, unable to face front away from where he knew the killer had last stood. Then it went, as suddenly as it came, the feeling of ‘poppies' vanished. ‘‘No…. No it's okay. I'm fine. Just scared the shit out of me for a minute. He's gone.'' He calmed his breathing.
He glanced around, now calmer, his right hand opening, feeling the air. ‘'Yea. He's gone…. I…. Can't sense him…. He'll be long gone by the time you get anyone here.''
Shannon didn't want to believe in his talent, but she found she did. Jenny had changed any doubting Thomas in her. ‘'Get the fuck out of there now! ‘'
‘'I'm going Jesus. Stop shouting. It's not worth sending anyone down here. They won't find anything. Shit…. I should have been more careful. Shannon I'm sorry.''
Shannon cursed under her breath. ‘'Marcus. Listen to me. I want you back at the damn hotel room. I don't want Jenny kicking my ass, if she finds out I put you in danger.''
That made him smile. ‘‘Little spitfire isn't she.''
Shannon relaxed hearing his voice lose some of the fear. ‘‘No shit….'' She could hear his labored breathing. ‘'Marcus?''
He finally turned to face the direction he was walking, almost stumbling as he increased his strides. ‘‘Yea I'm here. I'm nearly back to the path.''
Shannon exhaled the tension she felt. ‘'Just stay on the phone till you're out of the park.''
He smiled, feeling the inner relief as his feet hit the path and he started walking towards the park entrance. ‘'Two women in one day.''
‘'Jane was worried about me too.''
‘‘As I said I don't need Jenny kicking my ass. As for Jane, she more worried about me kicking hers.''
Shannon could pick up the sounds of people in the background. ‘'Where are you now?''
‘‘At the entrance, I'm okay.'' He stopped, taking in deep breaths. ‘' I'm gonna take a cab back to the hotel.''
‘'Call Jane when you get there. I'll advise the F.B.I. that he's visiting the sites, we might get lucky. And Marcus make sure you call her as soon as you get safe, otherwise I'll have her kick your ass.''
‘‘Some people pay money for that you know.''
She laughed, glad his humor was back. ‘'Marcus?''
He held his hand up to hail a cab. ‘‘Yea.''
‘‘If you go out again tomorrow, you're taking a police escort whether you like it or not.''
‘'I'm not going to argue.'' He pulled open the cab door, bending to get in. ‘'Thanks Shannon.'' He closed the door, finally relaxing.
‘‘No worries. Get some sleep you sound wrecked.''
‘‘Yea. Say hi to Jen for me.''
He closed the phone, giving his directions to the cab driver, leaning his head back on the seat as the cab pulled away. Somehow he knew, he'd just been as lucky as hell and the only thing that had saved him, was his talent, and the thread of poppies.
Jenny looked up smiling, as Shannon entered, her smile froze. ‘'What's wrong?''
‘‘Before you panic. Marcus is fine. He called me about half an hour ago, he thinks the killer is revisiting the sites and….''
Jenny kept telling herself Marcus was fine. ‘‘And?''
‘‘He was pretty sure the killer was watching him. I just heard from Jane. Marcus is safe back at the hotel, I've sent a car down there to watch out for him.''
Jenny relaxed. ‘'Thank you.''
‘‘Don't thank me. He was in danger because I sent him remember?''
Jenny caught the bitter tone and also the self-loathing one. ‘'Shannon.''
It amazed Shannon how many different ways Jenny could say her name, right now it was spoken so softly it could have been a prayer. She closed her eyes to it.
Jenny waited, seeing that Shannon wasn't going to talk anymore she turned her attention back to the screen, pressing print.
Shannon opened her eyes as the sound of the printer started. ‘'What's that?''
‘‘Something I want to show Jane, and ask her what she sees?''
‘‘Why don't you ask me?''
Jenny hid her amusement at the almost pout she heard. ‘‘You'll see it too….'' She turned her eyes to Shannon. ‘‘You figured out why I've asked Jane yet?''
‘‘Not really. It's been bugging me for hours.''
Jenny laughed. ‘'I bet.'' She rose collecting the printed sheets. Over Shannon's shoulder she saw bud raise his head, knowing it meant Jane was close to the house. Her eyes went to Shannon's waiting to see if she would know yet.
Shannon turned. ‘'She's here.''
Jenny grinned. Someday she really was going to have to have a talk to the detective about that skill she didn't know she had.
Jane was nervous, she was nervous because once again she didn't know why she was at Jenny's house. This time was different the boss was there, but still it made her nervous. She sat, waiting, the beer in her hand, swinging, showing her growing annoyance at not knowing what was going on. She looked up as they both came in from the den.
Jenny smiled as she sat, ‘'Bet you're wondering why I asked for you?''
‘‘You could say that.'' Jane looked to Shannon for an answer.
Shannon shrugged, sitting, sipping her beer. ‘'Don't ask me it's her show.''
Jane's eyes went back to Jenny, waiting.
Jenny took a breath, opening the files she'd printed off. Laying out the sheets in a row on the coffee table. ‘'Right, we all know the killer is a classic psychopath.''
Jane and Shannon nodded.
Jenny continued. ‘‘He takes the victims in various ways, taking any opening as an opportunity. Ketimin is used and so is GBH. He kills them by injecting an air bubble into the veins.'' She looked to both of them, they nodded again. ‘'Why?''
Jane and Shannon looked at each other in surprise. Jane frowned. ‘'Why?''
Jenny sat back, laying her hands on her legs. ‘‘Yes why? Why kill them that way?'' she looked to each of them in turn as she spoke. ‘'It can't give him any pleasure, there's no agonizing death. It takes only two to three minutes for them to die, that's a very short period of time. He can't get much of a hit of power.''
Shannon shook her head not understanding the point. ‘'So, he tortures them. Maybe he gets his kicks from that?''
Jenny shook her head. ‘‘What torture? Where exactly is the torture.''
Shannon didn't know why but she was getting angry. ‘'The knife wounds for starters.''
Jenny shrugged. ‘‘Superficial at best.''
Jane scoffed. ‘'The tooth must hurt like a son of bitch.''
Jenny looked blankly at her. ‘'All taken after death. Except one and she didn't count to him.''
Jane shifted embarrassed, she'd known that.
Shannon clenched her teeth. ‘‘The rape. You can't tell me he isn't getting a high from that.''
Jenny swallowed, holding her own emotions at bay. ‘‘He only raped two of the victims and it had little to do with torture or to cause them fear. It was about his lust, he wanted them, and they were psychically attractive. He isn't a sexual sadist, he isn't getting aroused by doing this. In fact, I believe the rapes were a loss of control.''
Shannon frowned, thinking, then shook her head. ‘'I don't see what you're getting at.''
Jenny nodded, leaning forward she opened the folder, passing each of them a copy of the medical reports from within it. She waited a few moments before speaking. ‘'Each of the victims bodies held the drug that subdued them, normally after twelve hours these types of drugs can't be traced. We know from their disappearance reports, he had all seven of them for more than twenty-four hours. Which means he's using it to keep them quiet.'' She met Shannon's gaze. ‘'Where's the hit of power? They wouldn't be afraid, they'd be unconscious half the time or totally out of it. Here's another thing that doesn't make sense to me. We've proved at least four of the victims died by the air injection, it's too late to detect in the others, but as the cause of death is similar we can assume he used it. The damage to the body by him is very minimal. The way he restrained them is as well. The after death marks are the same, as is the tooth extractions.'' Jenny's fists clenched in her lap. ‘'None of it makes sense. Where is his hit of power? No fear, no pain! The only hit I can see is his game, his clues, the part of him that has to tell us how clever he is. That! Fits with a psychopath profile. The rest doesn't.''
Shannon inhaled. ‘'So, now you're saying he isn't a psychopath?''
Jenny picked up on the medical reports, waving it. ‘'Not according to this. No.'' she threw the report down. ‘'I started to look at it a different way. I came up with only one plausible answer. He's holding himself back. Which led me to the question? Why?''
Jane looked over the list. Knife wounds. No beatings. Bruising caused by restrains only. No torture. Victims weren't malnourished. No dehydration. Clean.
Jenny watched her.
‘‘He wasn't trying to hurt them, he was feeding them. Taking care of them in his own sick way.''
Jenny grinned, she knew she'd been right to ask Jane. Jane said what she saw. She wasn't like Shannon, she didn't look for a reason in an answer. Jane's instinct was to act first, say first. ‘‘Yes exactly the conclusion I came up with too.''
Shannon looked at the list. ‘‘How the hell can you say that? He kidnapped them, held them for up to two days, killed them for Christ sake.''
Jenny sighed. ‘‘He doesn't want to harm their body is what I meant.''
Jenny's eyes hardened. ‘'So. Why? Because the why is important.''
Shannon threw down the paper. Slamming down her beer. ‘'Important. How? Why do we have to know, what's the difference? Kill them, torture them, and rape them. Does it really mean a damn to him.''
Jane's took a swig of beer, her brown eyes shifting to Shannon, knowing the signs of anger well.
Jenny kept her voice level, well aware this was the Shannon's frustration. ‘'Yes it does mean a damn to him, otherwise he'd let his other side out. The part of him that wants to rape, to torture, to cause the up most pain. To hit the high he needs every time. He has to feel the power of life in his hands. He's only full filling one side of his psyche. Don't you see, in holding back, he denies the power. It doesn't make sense Shannon, he's fighting it. The only time it showed was is in the two women he raped…. So why the hell does he hold it back? What reason?''
Shannon tensed. ‘'Does there have to be one, this is more of psycho one on one bullshit. He's a killer isn't it enough!''
Jenny was disappointed. ‘‘If we want to see into his head no…. Isn't that why I'm here? To see him, I have to know him, and right now I don't.''
‘‘His head is full of crap. We're going to catch him. We don't need to know how he ticks anymore.''
Jenny tried to contain her anger. ‘'Damn it Shannon. You wanted to catch him before he dumps another body remember. To have a chance at stopping him, to have a chance I need to know why? Or is that no longer a concern? We simply wait till he dumps the next one.''
Jane eyes snapped to Jenny, not liking the way her voice had turned to ice.
Shannon flinched. ‘'You know I don't want that.''
Jenny felt it. She realized what she was doing. Withdrawing her anger, distancing herself. She shifted forward. ‘'Then stop arguing with me. I need your help…. We need to know why he stops himself? He's fighting his own wants; he's fighting who he is. The fact he can amazes me. Don't you see? There are more knife cuts on the last two victims then the first four, more abuse, they held fewer drugs in their system, which means it's getting harder to control by him. The victim he threw away shows us this more than anything Shannon. She was unclean so it didn't matter if he abused, beat, cut, and dumped. But he still controlled himself to some degree, he should have tortured her. Not even then could he let go. So whatever is restraining him is pretty damn important to him. Which means it's important to us.'' Jenny's voice rose. ‘'We have to know…. Why the hell is he fighting it and not letting it out! It's important we find out, if we want to get him first.''
Jane had been listening, but decided to stay right out of it. She was learning quickly her boss and the psychic were just as stubborn as each other and somehow she knew yelling at each other would eventually get them to an answer. She winced as Shannon's voice.
‘'Then tell me the fuck how? How are we supposed to do that!?''
Jenny's locked eyes with her. ‘'I don't know. That's why I'm doing this. Showing you what I've found. Please try to look at it with an open mind. I need to know what you think, what you both think.''
Shannon scoffed, ‘'I can't see into this sick fuck's head. I'm a cop not a damn head shrink.''
‘'Damn it Shannon .'' Jenny was beginning to find this side of Shannon annoying as hell.
Jane caught herself smiling in time before either of them saw it. Instead she turned her attention to rereading the forensic and medical reports. Absentmindedly she voiced her thoughts, into the momentary silence. ‘‘Maybe he's been taught not to hurt.''
Jenny anger froze, turning her head sharply to Jane. ‘‘What did you say?''
Jane found when she looked up Jenny's eyes were boring into her. She shifted uncomfortably. ‘‘Um….'' She swallowed. ‘'I said maybe, he's been taught not to hurt. Sorry if I said something wrong.''
Jenny's eyes widened. ‘‘Oh my god.'' She shot up running back into the study.
Bud looked up surprised as she shot past him.
Jane looked at Shannon , slightly alarmed. ‘‘Um boss?''
Shannon shook her head, still feeling the anger. ‘‘Like I'd know what the hell is going on around here.''
They both turned their head as Jenny came running back in. Jenny stopped, throwing down a picture onto the coffee table. She motioned to both of them. ‘‘Look at it please. I need to know what you see?''
Shannon lent forward. Now she was more confused than ever. ‘'I don't recognize it.''
Jane frowned, somehow it was familiar. She lifted it to study closer. ‘'I think I know it. But, well, I'm not sure why I do. What is it?''
Jenny was trying to rearrange her thoughts, how in the hell had she missed this. ‘‘It's the symbol used for Ophiuchus, the 13th sign of the Lunar Zodiac – also known as Serpentarius, the Serpent Holder. Why is it familiar?''
Jane shrugged. ‘'I don't know…. I've seen it before I'm sure I have.''
Jenny nodded. ‘' Shannon , please look at it again…. Please.''
Jane passed it over.
Shannon took it, looking at it intently, then shaking her head she threw it back down to the coffee table. ‘‘Sor…'' she stopped. The picture had fallen sideways, seeing it at an angle it suddenly struck her as familiar. ‘‘Wait. I have seen it.''
Jenny took a long breath. ‘' Ophiuchus isn't the only name this has. Each culture names their own stars, much like they did their gods. Like the Greek god of war was Ares. Roman culture it was Mars. Norse had Oden. Ophiuchus has other names too. One of them comes from Egyptian, he was known as Imhotep. The ancient Greeks called….'' She swallowed.
Jane and Shannon were caught in the sudden buzz of energy in the room. Shannon knew it was coming from Jenny.
Jane didn't, she thought it was the excitement she was feeling. ‘'Called him what?''
Jenny looked right at her. ‘' Aesclepius'' she slowly turned her head to Shannon , knowing her choice of reading material, wondering if she recognized the name.
Shannon 's brow creased, then her eyes jumped to the picture, now seeing why it was familiar, her surprised eyes crawled to Jenny's. ‘‘Aesclepius is said to be the founder of modern medicine….''
Jenny slowly nodded. Wondering if Shannon would get the full connection now, like she had when Jane had given her the final clue.
Jane laughed, clapping her hands. ‘‘Son of bitch. That's why I know it. All the medics have it on the insignia, shit it's even on the damn hospitals.'' Her joy faltered. Confusion filled her eyes. She looked to Jenny. ‘‘Hey wait, what's this got to do with anything?''
Jenny didn't answer she was too busy watching Shannon 's brain at work.
Shannon exhaled, seeing what Jenny was getting at. Her voice was a whisper. ‘‘Do no harm to others.''
Jenny closed her eyes, she knew Shannon had worked it out. ‘‘Yes.''
Jane looked sharply across. ‘‘That's the oath isn't it? I mean the doctor's thing?''
Jenny nodded, she folded her arms, feeling the chill, knowing it was Shannon .
Shannon stilled. Her mind now catching up to where Jenny's was already.
Hearing Jane's words from earlier. ‘‘Maybe he was taught not to hurt.'' Shannon began to understand, she directed her question to Jenny. ‘'Could this be enough to hold him back? This?'' She tapped the picture.
Jenny nodded. ‘‘Yes.''
Jane knew she was missing something and wondered if the two of them were communicating by telepathy. ‘‘Someone mind filling me?''
Shannon closed her eyes looking away. When she opened them she was looking right at Jane. ‘‘He's taken the Hippocratic Oath.''
Jane blinked, looking to the picture suddenly getting the connection. ‘‘Holy shit. He's a doctor? Wait, he thinks he is? Or is one.''
Jenny sat back down. ‘‘I'm not sure. But he has trained in the medical profession, fully trained. You gave me the answer Jane.''
Jane face shot up from the picture, in surprise. ‘‘Me?''
Jenny smiled. ‘‘Ahuh. I asked why he doesn't let his dark side out. You told me, because he's been taught not to harm. An oath Jane, he gave his oath and that would be a strong enough thing not to break. He has an important sense of honor, he'd have to keep something sacred like an oath. Even if it does go against what he is. To break his word would be a dishonor to himself, be flawed, make him less then he thinks he is. Would bring him down to our level. How could he believe himself to be beyond god if he did that? He believes he's above any worldly laws and power, but this is different this oath goes back to the Greek gods. To break this would be near impossible for him. So, he has to fight the side of him that wants to cause harm, wants to cause pain, and wants to rape. He fights his psychopath side.'' Her gaze went to Shannon. ‘‘He is very strong to be able to do that. I think his psychic side helps him in some way. A normal psychopath would have no qualms about breaking an oath. They have no conscience, no emotion. I don't think I've ever heard of this happening before, except where split personalities were involved and now I can't rule that possibility out. He could have a dual personality Shannon. One he doesn't even know about. It would explain why I couldn't sense him or Marcus couldn't get a hit off of him.''
Shannon felt the ice go through, her, she looked up meeting worried translucent green eyes.
Jane didn't like the idea of the killer having spooky powers one bit. She shivered, trying to bring the conversation back to something she could handle. ‘‘Wait, He kills them, isn't that breaking the oath?''
Jenny's attention went back to Jane. ‘‘To him no. Because killing them, is helping them. Freeing them from the pain of the world, keeping them from harm.''
Jane's own anger sparked. ‘‘How the hell can he believe that?''
‘‘Because he believes it. He believes in what he's doing Jane. In everything he's doing. If he does have split personalities, that is the more dominant side, the part that executes the victims.''
Jane swallowed, she hated dealing with psitzoids. You never knew which one of them was shooting at you. She shivered, taking a long gulp of beer.
Shannon broke in. ‘' Imhotep . You said that was the Egyptian name?''
‘‘Yes.'' Jenny's attention went to the question.
‘‘He was healer like Asclepius?''
‘'They're based on the same man. It's just different cultures. Different names.'' Jenny wondered where Shannon was going with this.
‘‘So is he basing himself on them? Or is it his worldly oath that is stopping him?''
Jenny thought it through before answering. ‘‘No. he wouldn't think of himself as either of these men. His oath is real, not a fantasy of the past, or of him pretending to be someone else. Everything around him is real, especially something that holds him back from being who he is. ‘' Jenny's voice tailed off as she got what Shannon meant.
Shannon nodded. ‘‘That's what I thought.''
‘‘What are you thinking? Boss?''
Shannon met Jane's gaze. ‘‘He's still practicing medicine. He's either a doctor, or a surgeon, or a nurse anything that requires taking the Hippocratic Oath. If he'd been struck off or left it behind, he wouldn't still have an oath that would stop him, it would be broken. He'd be going at his victim's full force.'' She stood. ‘‘The son of bitch is still on a record as a medical employee somewhere in the area. One which has access to surplus of ketamin, GBH and medical equipment and cleaning fluid he'd need.''
Jane exhaled bitterly. ‘‘Yea and who is the one person you'd trust if they came up to you and needed help….''
Jenny paled. ‘'Any medical personal, especially if he showed his credentials. He would have too, he knew they were going to die, they'd be no need to hide his identity from them. He never took them in a place he'd be seen.''
Shannon turned to Jane. ‘‘Get back to the safe house I want you to contact the F.B.I. and update them on this, all of it. I'll take care of the captain. We already have a lot of medical areas checked out when we investigated the drugs. I also want you to call Marcus and warn him.'' Her eyes shifted to Jenny, seeing the flash of relief.
Jane stood, nodding, already turning for the door.
She looked to Jenny.
Jane grinned. ‘‘No problem, I'm still not sure what the hell I did.'' With that she left at a run.
Jenny turned her attention to Shannon, seeing the anger, knowing why. ‘‘You can leave. Call in the launch you could be back at the precinct by midnight.''
Shannon jerked out of the thoughts. ‘‘What?''
‘'I said you can go. I know you want too, to be there to help look for him, to catch him. To do the job you've trained for and are good at. I know you can't do that from here.''
‘‘They can do all that.''
‘'But, you want to be in on the finish. Don't you?''
‘‘We could be wrong.''
Jenny forced a smile. ‘‘We're not. We haven't been so far have we?''
Shannon felt torn. ‘‘No.''
‘'Then go. Go tell them, go help them. ‘' Jenny took a step closer. ‘'Be where you want to be.''
Shannon's eyes fell. ‘'I promised I'd protect you. I meant it, I'm not leaving till he's caught.''
Jenny exhaled. ‘'Then I release you from it. Shannon I'm safe. He doesn't know about me. Even if he did he wouldn't have time to get to me. I have your team, I have the F.B.I. now as my damn shadow on the island. Jane will protect me. Do you doubt she will?''
Shannon turned to her. ‘‘No. it's, it's not that……''
‘'Then what?'' Jenny tried to read her eyes.
‘'I don't want to leave here then find out something happened to you, I'd never forgive myself.''
Jenny was caught between feeling sadness and annoyance. ‘'damn it Shannon you can't always take the weight of the world on your shoulders. I can take care of myself, and Jane will be here. She can even stay in the house. Shannon I don't want you to look back after this if the F.B.I. screw this up and he gets away, you'll end up hating me because you wanted to stay because of a promise. Go.''
Shannon found herself being pushed towards the guestroom. ‘'I could never hate you. What are you doing?''
Jenny pushed her again. ‘‘Giving you a push in the right direction. Stop being so honorable and you could quite easily hate me if something goes wrong. So, I'm not taking the risk. Just go.''
‘'I belong here and stop shoving me.'' She stepped away from the next push.
Jenny sighed, not really wanting Shannon to leave. ‘‘You don't belong here. You belong where you can do the most good and babysitting me isn't it. You can find him Shannon. You can. You know how he thinks. Now will you please go? ‘' she caught Shannon's shoulder turning her again to the doorway, pushing.
Blues eyes sparked at being pushed again. She turned facing her. ‘'I know jack shit. Are you forgetting I came here less than two weeks ago with nothing? We only know what we know because of you. I wouldn't even know him if he walked past me.''
Jenny very much doubted that, she knew Shannon would know, she would sense the wrongness in this man, like she sensed other things, she would get ‘one of her feelings' she kept those thoughts to herself. ‘'Shannon please.''
‘‘No. I'm staying. Besides you really think the F.B.I. are going to even let me get within a mile of him. No. they are not. Closed arrest. Their jurisdiction. So enough, I'm staying. Excuse me, I need to tell the captain about this because I know damn well the F.B.I. won't be.'' She moved past her.
‘‘Arrrrrrrrghhhhhh. You so god damn stubborn!'' she threw the first thing to hand.
Shannon jumped as the book impacted the wall, turning to the outburst in surprise, then found herself grinning.
‘‘What the hell are you grinning at.''
‘‘My mom would say you have one hell of an Irish temper on ya lassy.''
Jenny burst out laughing. It broke the buildup of pressure inside her, around her. She let out a noisy breath. ‘'Damn, it's hard to stay mad at you.''
Shannon frowned. ‘'You want me to go?''
‘‘Yes. No. I want you where you want to be.''
Shannon smiled. ‘'I wanted to be here.''
Their eyes met. Jenny grinned. ‘'So, You're going to introduce me to mom?''
Shannon blushed. ‘‘Not if you're going to throw books at her I'm not.''
‘'You'd protect me?''
‘'I would, would I?''
Jenny gave a smug look. ‘‘You promised.''
They both grinned, knowing another wall had fallen. It seemed strange to both of them that right there in the middle of everything, discovering what he was. The victims the death, the fear. They were doing this, teasing and laughing. Strange, that it didn't feel wrong or absurd, the feeling it created around them, was safety and warmth. But most of all it felt right.
Shannon's grin tapered off, turning to a nervous chuckle. She pointed to the den. ‘'I'm going to….'' She held up the cell. ‘'….Captain.''
Jenny nodded. Wondering if Shannon was ever going to stop running away, when her true feelings were being shown. Feelings now Jenny understood attraction and something more. She finally made herself move, stooping to pick up the papers from the coffee table, suddenly seeing bud watching her over the edge of it, his head tilted and tongue hanging out, his brown eyes dancing in amusement.
‘‘Oh shut up.'' She threw the papers at him.
He snorted, as the papers fell around his head like falling leaves. He barked, jumping up to catch them.
Jenny sat down on the sofa with a hmpft. Crossing her arms, chuckling at his antics, she felt the weight lift off her shoulders. She'd found him, knew what he did, and knew why the tooth fairy did it. So much made sense about the victims. They were ahead of him for once. She knew it would take time to track down every single medical person in the area. But For once they had something to get near him. Something he didn't know. She felt a part of herself mend, one that had been broken in D.C. the faith in herself restored. For the first time in two years, she felt whole again, well nearly whole.
Her head turned to the den, hearing Shannon's voice go up as she yelled into the phone. What was she going to do about Shannon? Her eyes closed. Now the case was nearly over, she knew as soon as he was caught, Shannon would leave. She was surprised to feel how much pain it caused.
She sat forward, burying her face in her hands, rubbing the tiredness away, pushing her hands back through her hair, before she dropped her arms. She didn't want Shannon to just disappear from her life, not now, not now she'd found her. What exactly had she found? Except the lost parts of need, want and sexual attraction. She didn't even fully know if Shannon even thought of her in that way, just confusing signals before Shannon buried them.
What the hell was she supposed to do? It would serve her right, if Shannon were straight. She should have listened to Marcus. She groaned, imagining Marcus doing the told you so dance. She let out a long sigh, god, she could do with Marcus right now. He would just walk up to Shannon and ask her outright.
Jenny sat forward, her face turning serious, hearing Shannon's voice say goodbye in the other room. Suddenly she needed to know. She rose, moving towards the study.
Shannon looked over as she entered, seeing the serious face. ‘'What's wrong?''
‘‘Are you gay?''
Shannon's mouth fell open.
Jenny realized she spoken out loud. ‘‘Shit. I …. Shit. Look, forget I asked.'' She turned quickly hurrying back into the living room.
It took a moment for Shannon's brain to notice Jenny wasn't standing there anymore. ‘'hey.''
‘'stupid stupid stupid stupid.''
Jenny turned. ‘'I'm sorry, just forget I asked that.''
‘'I mean it's none of my busin……'' She stopped. ‘‘What did you say?''
‘'I said yes. I'm gay.''
‘‘Oh.'' Jenny's mouth snapped shut.
‘‘That's it? Oh.''
Jenny simply nodded.
Shannon was getting her pounding heart under control ‘‘Okay. Why did you ask?''
‘‘Um….'' Jenny shifted nervously.
Shannon waited, folding her arms, kinda liking the deep shade of red Jenny was going.
Jenny suddenly felt trapped, cold. No. Not now. Please not now. She shuddered. She managed to keep her voice steady. ‘‘If I just say I needed to really know. Will you leave it? If I promise to talk soon…. Please.''
Shannon was about say ‘'hell no'' when she saw it, the growing fear and panic. She didn't understand why the psychic was afraid. But she didn't like it. ‘'I'll leave it.''
Jenny exhaled. ‘‘Thank you.'' She turned, needing the isolation of the bedroom, she made herself stop and turn. ‘'I'm glad you're gay though.'' She gave a weak smile.
Shannon worry slightly faded. She returned the smile. ‘‘Me too.''
Knowing she was confusing Shannon, she called bud to her side and entered the room, only letting the trembling out, when the door was truly shut. Then mad at her reaction she slumped onto the bed, allowing the tears to fall. She'd thought she was over the fear, over what that basterd had done to her in D.C. she closed her eyes, welcoming bud as he jumped on the bed and lay across her. ‘'Damn you, Matthew Clark.'' She rolled over pulling bud with her. Trying to shut out the images that choose now, to ruin her feelings for Shannon. One's she had no control over.
Shannon once again found herself wondering what the hell had just happened. She hadn't expected Jenny to just blurt out the question, and neither had she expected the fear when she given her answer. Fear of her, now she knew she was gay? Shannon exhaled, moving to the den. It had been the main reason she hadn't mentioned it in the first place, or shown signs of her growing attraction for Jenny. She didn't want her to think she was a sexual threat. After reading what happened in D.C. she'd decided it was easier to just keep it out of conversation. She picked up one of the folders, then threw it down, her eyes shifting to the door. How the hell could she be blamed for the fear if Jenny was the one who wanted to know? Did Jenny feel threatened? Is that why she asked? Had she picked up on the attraction she'd tried so hard to hide? Damn it. Why the hell had Jenny brought this up now of all times.
Her swearing was interrupted as the phone rang in her hand, she opened it seeing the captains name come up. ‘‘Yea.''
‘‘Okay we have the search started for medical personal. Got a state wide alert on it too. We're checking into every god damn department which requires the Hippocratic Oath…. The F.B.I. are shitting bricks she's come up with this. Expect another visit, soon.''
‘'I thought as much.''
‘‘There's a way around it.''
‘‘How?'' she shifted suddenly uneasy.
‘‘Get her out of there. Bring her here with us, help find the basterd.''
Shannon inhaled sharply. ‘‘No.''
‘'Shannon. You know she needs to do this. We need her. She can sense him. You know as well as I do, the names on this list are going to be long. It's gonna take time to get warrant's, phone tapes, surveillance. She'd cut the time in half. I've seen her work. I know what she can do.''
‘‘No god damn way. I'm not putting her in danger. You can't ask her to expose herself like this.''
‘‘Where the hell is the danger? You'll be next to her twenty four seven. She'll have the whole department watching her ass. We can't find him before the next victim and you know it.''
Shannon stayed silent.
His voice steeled. ‘‘Put her on the phone.''
Shannon felt helpless. ‘‘Damn it Captain. She can't do this, she can't leave this island, she barely made it last time. You can't ask this of her.''
‘'I'm not asking. Put her on the goddamn phone. Or I'll come out there myself! That's an order!''
Jenny sat up. Bud lifted his head, his face turning to the door. Jenny could hear it too, Shannon shouting. But that wasn't what had pulled her from the beginning nightmare, it wasn't what had stopped the nightmare in its tracks. What had stopped it was fear, but not hers, Shannon's. She rose quickly throwing open the door, hearing Shannon's voice growing louder as she headed for the den.
‘'I don't care. You can have my badge! I'm not fucking putting her on the phone. I'll get her out of here before she does this.''
‘'Shannon?'' Jenny stood at the doorway, not sure of what to do. Shannon was afraid and the room buzzed with it.
Shannon cursed, swinging round.
‘‘Is that her? Damn it this is an order put her on the phone.''
Shannon clicked the cell shut. ‘'Thought you went to bed?''
Jenny looked at the closed phone, beginning to understand. Her eyes shifted to Shannon, seeing the anger boiling, but also seeing the fear in the blue eyes. ‘'What's wrong? Why are you yelling? Was that Grieves? Why did you hang up on him? Did something happen?''
‘‘It's nothing, go to bed.''
Jenny inhaled. ‘'I thought you wouldn't lie to me.''
Shannon stilled. ‘‘Please go back to bed.''
The cell rang again.
Jenny held out her hand.
They both stared at each other.
Jenny took a step closer, her palm still out. Giving the command with her eyes, that she wanted the cell.
With a heavy sigh, Shannon handed it over. ‘‘Don't listen to him, just tell him no.''
Jenny got an uneasy feeling, but she needed to know why Shannon was so afraid. She took the cell clicking it open, holding it away from her ear at the abuse screamed. She put it back. ‘'Captain. It's Jenny.''
Grieves stopped, recovering. ‘‘Shit. I'm sorry.''
Jenny eyes followed Shannon as she paced the room. ‘'What's going on?''
‘'I need you here.''
Jenny blood froze, her eyes jumping to Shannon's now knowing the source of her fear. Fear for her. ‘'Wh…at?''
‘'I'm sorry. I said I wouldn't ask, but I have too. We've done a preliminary record search for the area Jenny, we have over five thousand names in the medical field. You know what it means, we won't catch him in time. I think, no, I know we will if you come here. You can help us. You know you can?''
‘'I've helped you already. I kept my side of the bargain. The rest is up to you and the F.B.I. you can't ask this.''
His voice was sorry. ‘'I can. I have too. I don't have a choice. Jenny, we'll give you full protection. You can keep Shannon and her team with you if that's who you want close. If I have to beg I will. I don't have pride when it comes to stopping this basterd from taking another innocent victim.‘'
Jenny mouth was dry. Her eyes found Shannon's sad ones watching her.
‘'I forgot how manipulative you could be Grieves.''
‘‘If you think that's what I'm doing, fine. But can you live with yourself if we don't catch him in time? Because I don't think you could. Not the Jenny I know.''
Her voice turned to ice. ‘‘You don't know me.''
He stopped, knowing he was losing her. ‘‘Maybe. I think I do though. Jenny I need your help. You could rule him out just by being around somewhere he works, or stays or lives. You know how much faster that would be. With your insight, your talent we can catch him.''
Jenny scoffed. ‘‘So you expect to just drive me around to addresses on your list.''
Shannon stiffened, trying hard not to rip the phone out of Jenny's hand and tell the captain to go to hell.
He chuckled nervously. ‘‘Something like that. If you tell me that wouldn't work, and I've misunderstood how your gift works, then fine I'll hang up now and won't bother you again.''
Jenny closed her eyes, knowing damn well it would work, if they were lucky enough to go somewhere he worked or stayed, or lived, there would be the essence.
He listened, only hearing breathing. ‘'Are you telling me it wouldn't work that way?''
She swallowed, wishing she could lie. ‘‘No. It would work.''
His exhaled in relief. ‘‘That's what I thought.''
‘‘But you weren't sure, were you?''
He laughed nervously. ‘‘No''
‘'I could have lied to you.''
She could hear his smile.
‘'I'm afraid I do know you enough not to lie.''
Jenny exhaled. ‘‘You know what you're asking. Don't you? What happen last time I left here?''
‘‘Yes. I do. I'm sorry.'' He meant it.
Now was the time, the test. To run or stay. She straightened, she was tired of running. Her eyes shifted to Shannon. ‘'I want Shannon with me at all times, Jane as well and Marcus.''
‘'Marcus? The guy who wanted to see the shrouds. You sure?''
‘‘Yes I'm sure. He has touch talents. I need them. His talent works differently to mine.''
‘‘Okay. Do you want me to contact him?''
‘‘No. We'll deal with it.''
‘‘Anything else you need?''
‘‘No. When will you have the full list ready.'' She couldn't believe she was doing this, again.
His voice grew serious. ‘‘By tomorrow morning. The F.B.I. are working on it their way. I've still got my own task force set up, and they are already going over your profile and fitting it with the list we have already of medical people. I have two teams set up, one to cover the ones near the profile, and one for covering the lesser ones. The ones that hit the profile I'll have ready for you.''
Jenny nodded then realized he couldn't see her. ‘'That sounds like a good plan to go with.'' She took a breath, steeling herself. ‘' We'll be there by ten am tomorrow.'' Her eyes saw Shannon's drop. ‘'…. And one more thing captain. If Shannon at any times thinks I'm in danger were leaving and she has the final say. I do what she says Captain. Not you.‘' She watched surprised eyes jump to her, but she also saw the anxiety lessen in blue eyes.
‘‘Agreed. Thank you… I know…. Jen''
Jenny hung up not letting him finish. She took in a lung full of air. ‘'Jesus I'm insane. What the hell did I just agree too.''
Shannon offered a sad smile. ‘‘You did exactly what I knew you'd do when he asked for your help…. You hate seeing people hurt, even if it means you do things you don't like, or ending up getting hurt.''
Jenny ran her hand through her hair, giving a nervous laugh. ‘‘Well I'm hoping you stop that from happening.''
Shannon moved closer, hesitant for a moment, before she reached out taking the psychics hand, feeling the slight jolt.
‘‘Relax. I would never hurt you and I'm not going to let anything happen to you. Thank you for giving me this trust Jenny. ''
Jenny studied Shannon eyes seeing the truth. She relaxed, liking the feeling of warmth of the touch. She also saw felt the raging emotions under the surface between them, knowing where this could quickly lead again, she felt the coldness begin, she forced it back. She smiled. ‘'Does that line work a lot with girls you meet in bars detective.''
Shannon smiled, understanding, why Jenny changed the subject. She played along. ‘‘Wouldn't know.''
Jenny frowned. ‘‘Huh.''
‘'I've never used it before. I'm more a beer and u haul van kinda gal. I don't do bars and corny lines.''
Jenny smile filled her face. ‘‘How many exactly?''
‘‘Beers? Or women?''
Jenny realized Shannon's tone was serious, she took a breath for courage. ‘‘Women.''
Shannon's eyebrows rose. ‘'You really want to discuss this now?''
Jenny fought back the urge to say yes. Knowing damn well now wasn't the time. She shook her head, laughing nervously. Still well aware Shannon held her hand. ‘‘No. We have to get ready to leave.''
Shannon hid her disappointment, then giving Jenny's hand a squeeze she smiled. ‘'I'll take a rain check then?''
Jenny smiled. ‘‘Okay.''
Shannon hated to ask, but she had too. ‘'You sure about tomorrow?''
Jenny pulled her hand away, needing distance, it amazed her how quickly she could lose herself in Shannon. ‘‘Yes. I'll just need you and Jane to stay damn close. Will you arrange it with Marcus to meet us?''
Shannon could see Jenny was fighting to control her emotions. She was having the same problem, she wanted to lock the doors and not let her off the island. She was scared, scared of what would happen on the mainland. She forced it down, turning to what she knew, what she could do. ‘'I'll arrange everything fully. But, I don't want you going to the precinct.''
Jenny looked at her in question.
‘'I don't want anyone seeing your officially on the case, the place is crawling with press. The last thing we need is your face plastered over the evening news. If we're right we are for the first time ahead of him. I want to keep it that way. I'll send Jane in to get the information we need from the Captain. We won't be leaving on the ferry either.''
Jenny just stared at her. ‘‘Are we swimming?''
Shannon could actually feel Jenny relaxing, it took some of her anxiety away. She smiled. ‘‘No. I have a few options. I always have had, if I needed to get you off the island quickly.''
Jenny's eyebrow rose. ‘‘Even if I didn't want to go.''
Shannon folded her arms. ‘‘Yes.''
Jenny stared at her, seeing she was serious, she didn't know whether to be pissed off or not. ‘'Were you going to throw me over your shoulder?''
Shannon looked down.
‘‘Oh my god. You would have.'' Jenny couldn't help it she laughed. ‘'I'd have kicked the shit out of you and bud would have bitten your damn ass.''
Shannon finally looked up, grinning. ‘‘More than likely yes.''
Suddenly Jenny didn't feel so afraid. Shannon was going to take care of her no matter what. This wasn't D.C. Shannon was making sure no one knew where she was. Was making sure she was safe. Jenny shook her head, ‘‘All this because of the F.B.I. guy on the island watching. You don't want them to know. Do you?''
Shannon took a step closer, her voice totally serious now. ‘‘No. The only people that are going to know are Jane, Marcus and myself. People you trust.''
Jenny couldn't help it, even though she was scared beyond belief about leaving the island, the image of the F.B.I. scratching their heads at her sudden disappearance amused her, especially Ryter. ‘‘This is going to piss them off.''
Shannon 's grinned. ‘‘Oh I hope so.''
Jenny laughed, wagging a finger. ‘‘Bad girl.'' She walked away. She had to get herself ready, and not just the packing.
Shannon muttered under her breath. ‘‘You have no idea.''
Jenny paused in her step, not because of the words she barely heard, but the purred way, in which they were said, she forced herself to continue, looking over her shoulder. ‘‘Very bad girl.''
Shannon bit her lip, caught out.
Jenny couldn't really say she was surprised as she stepped out of the rubber dinghy and onto the yacht. She'd half expected a submarine to surface at dawn, when they'd left her house and followed the dunes to the far western beach and dingy waiting just before sunrise. She smiled up at Jane as she took her offered hand, helping her up the last of the three steps.
‘'Did you steal this?''
Jane laughed. ‘‘No! It's a friend's.''
Jenny smiled, looking back down into the dinghy, seeing Shannon arguing with Bud. She bit her lip, noticing Jane do the same as she looked down over the railing.
Shannon shifted to catch her balance as she grabbed bud again. ‘'Listen fleabag, either you let me carry you or you can go home via a long swim?''
Bud looked up at Jenny, whining. Then at Shannon, whining again.
Shannon shook her head. ‘'I have to carry you, only way up there. You're choice boy.''
He looked at Jenny again, then sighing, sat back down, waiting.
‘'Good choice.'' Shannon stooped, groaning slightly as she lifted him up, putting his front legs, one onto each shoulder. Locking her arm around him as she reached for the ladder run. ‘'Jesus. You need to cut down on the sugars.''
He growled, looking around nervously.
Shannon's voice gentled as she felt him tremble. ‘‘Hey, easy there. We'll be fine.''
His answer was to start licking her face, telling himself, peeing now was not a good idea.
‘‘Oh gross. Cut it out will ya.'' Shannon started to climb, while bud continued to give her a face wash. When she reached the deck she deposited Bud to the floor, rubbing her face with both hands with a grimace. She stood straight, bending her back to relieve the ache, she found two sets of amused eyes watching her. She put her hands on her hips. ‘'Got a problem?''
Jane coughed, turning to pick up the bags and carry them below.
Jenny however let her amusement out full force. ‘'Very cute.''
Shannon rolled her eyes. ‘‘You need to get below.''
Chuckling Jenny turned, calling Bud away from sniffing the whole deck. Both of them headed below.
Shannon looked around, checking the beach area. Making sure no one was watching or following she headed towards the wheelhouse to get them on their way.
Jenny wasn't sure what exactly was holding her together, but this time she felt different, not so panicked. Maybe it was the yacht? It was isolated no people. Shannon had told her to stay below for the whole two hour trip and she'd agreed, but now she wanted to be on deck, to be in the sunshine, she'd had enough of shadows. She'd always loved the sea, fishing trips or cruises around the bay had become a thing of the past after D.C. another thing she had to curse about it. She rose, moving to the bathroom, running cold water, splashing it over her face. She looked at her reflection again, she was beginning to recognize the woman in front of her again. This is who she used to be, free. Reaching down she pulled the small container from her pocket, opening it she took the first contact lenses out, tilting her head back, putting it in. blinking it into place. Then repeated the movement with the second. She stared at her reflection again. Blinking the slight watering away. It had been a long time since she'd worn these out in the world. Normally she preferred her sunglasses, it gave her a sense of privacy. The contacts protected her eyes from the sun, but they didn't hide the color of her eyes. For some reason she didn't want that today. Today she wanted to see the world in its whole. She grabbed the hand towel, drying her face as she felt Shannon near. She smiled at how easily she felt that now.
‘'Hey?'' Shannon looked around the door, searching the cabin.
‘‘In the bathroom. Just a minute.'' She smiled as she entered the room. ‘‘Hi.''
Shannon smiled back, closing the door behind her. ‘‘Hi. How you holding up?''
‘'I'm doing better than a thought.''
‘'Good. We'll be there in just over an hour.''
‘‘Did we get away okay?''
Shannon grinned. ‘‘Ahuh. The F.B.I. doesn't even know you left. They did their usual walk passed the house today. Richard and Nat make good decoys.''
Jenny shook her head. ‘'So what now?''
Shannon sat on the edge of the bunk. ‘'Marcus is meeting us with a car. Then we're going to his place if that's okay? If not we can go to a safe house.''
Jenny picked up her bag, pulling out a sweat top. ‘'I'm surprised you want to go to his place after what you said last time?''
Shannon looked away shrugging. ‘'I didn't know him then. I didn't trust him''
Jenny looked up. ‘‘And you do now?''
Shannon met her eyes. ‘‘Yes.''
Jenny slipped the sweat top over her head, pulling her hair free. ‘‘Good…. Then what?''
Shannon rose pulling the map from her back jean pocket, laying it out over the bed.
Jenny recognized it from the one in the den, seeing the red dots and zone area.
Shannon waited for Jenny to draw closer. ‘'I've had an idea. We're pretty sure he sees himself as the ecliptic right?''
Jenny nodded. Her eyes going to Shannon. ‘‘Yes.''
Shannon circled an area on the map with her finger. ‘‘That would be this area. I think we should concentrate there, with any names that come up in the medical search.''
Jenny's eyes fell to the map again.
‘'What do you think?''
Jenny nodded, sitting down. ‘'I think it's a good plan.''
Shannon noticed the change. ‘‘Scared.''
A half laugh came out. ‘‘Shitless.''
Shannon folded the map back up, sitting next to her. ‘'We can go back.''
Jenny closed her eyes. ‘‘No we can't.'' she sighed heavily, her hand going through her hair. ‘'I'm tired of running Shannon. Tired of hiding. But I'm so damn scared right now, I can't even think straight.''
Shannon laid her hand gently on Jenny's leg, noticing the flinch, but she didn't move it. ‘'Ask me again.''
Jenny's focus came off the warm hand, confused eyes going to Shannon. ‘'Ask you what?''
Translucent eyes widened. ‘‘Now?''
Shannon shrugged. ‘‘What better time, we've got an hour on our hands.''
Jenny laughed nervously. ‘'Jesus. Your timing sucks.''
‘‘Not really. I'll take your mind off things and answer some questions for you.''
Jenny felt her insides settle. ‘'Just for me?''
Shannon smiled shyly. ‘‘Well….''
Jenny shifted back across the bunk until her back rested against the wall. She missed Shannon's touch but right now it was too much. She crossed her legs at the ankles. ‘‘Okay. Women?'' she folded her arms as well, waiting.
Shannon now felt nervous.
‘'You started this.'' Shannon's discomfort made another part of Jenny relax. She let herself carry the feeling.
‘‘Yea I did didn't I.'' Shannon scratched the back of the neck. ‘‘Okay then, where to start?''
Jenny faked shock. ‘'Jesus is there that many. You have to think about it.''
Shannon's eyes shot up. ‘‘No!''
Jenny swallowed the urge to laugh.
Shannon sighed seeing the amusement dancing. ‘'I've lived with two. First lasted three years the other ten months. I've slept with three others in the course of five years; those didn't get to the moving in stage because they got fed up with me ahead of time in about two months. The last one apparently decided I wasn't enough and found someone else but didn't think telling me about it was necessary. That lasted exactly five weeks.'' She swallowed. ‘'There's been no one for quite a while. I told you I was hard to get on with.'' She smiled self consciously at giving so much away.
Jenny amusement disappeared, as she saw the pain and felt it. ‘‘They're idiots.''
Shannon grinned. ‘‘Think so huh?''
‘‘Yes. Obviously they didn't really know you.''
‘‘Is that right.''
Jenny rolled her eyes. ‘'I'm a psychic Shannon. I know.''
Shannon grinned, which faltered, she turned away.
Jenny watched confused, then her eyes widened. ‘'Shannon I didn't read you.''
Shannon laughed. ‘'I know that. But, I'm beginning to think your right, this isn't the best time. I have got lousy timing.''
Jenny sighed sadly, almost shaking her head. Shannon was running again. ‘'no problem.'' She pushed away from the wall, shuffling along the bed to rise.
Shannon caught her arm. ‘'Sorry.''
Jenny looked down at it, then met Shannon's eyes. ‘'Why do you run so much? I thought I was the one with the Nikes on standby.''
Shannon almost let go of her arm, instead she gave a weak smile. ‘'I'm not…. I'm not used to.'' She stopped, inhaling.
‘'I'm not used to sharing so much with someone who actually wants to know.''
Jenny relaxed back, shifting to face Shannon. Putting her hand over Shannon's. ‘'Well I want to know.'' She gave the hand a squeeze before moving back to her previous position.
Shannon exhaled. ‘‘Okay. Ask?''
Jenny chuckled. ‘'You look like I'm going to interrogate you. Relax will you. I want to know, but you don't have to tell me everything unless you're ready too. The same works for me. I want you to know things, but…. Some of it I'm not ready to talk about. Okay?''
Shannon relaxed, smiling. ‘‘Okay.'' Her smile changed.
Jenny slightly tensed seeing the changed. She eyed her warily. ‘‘Why do I suddenly want to say ut oh?''
Shannon grinned. ‘‘Turn abouts fair play.''
Jenny laughed, knowing what Shannon wanted. She took a breath answering the unspoken question. ‘'I'm afraid I have slept with a lot, mostly before I was twenty. They weren't relationships, I did do one night stands, both sexes. I'm not proud of those years. But I won't make excuses for them either. I worked out I was seeking affection from anyone who would offer it. They happened around the time my gift came out full force, I was finding it hard to erect walls to people's emotions, I got caught up in them, their want became my want, it was easy to confuse it with what I was feeling. I didn't know at the time that's what was happening and when I did I stopped. I stayed away from touch, sex.''
She waited to see Shannon's reaction. Seeing only curiosity, no disgust or judgment. She continued. She inhaled, pushing away the old feeling. Smiling, as she felt Shannon take her hand. She closed her eyes for a moment, just letting the touch go through her. ‘'For a long time I didn't go with anyone, there were a few in my late twenties, even fewer in my thirties. I got used to not needing, not wanting.'' She resisted the urge to say , ‘until now.' She felt the squeeze to her hand, she returned it.
Jenny's eyes opened, hearing the hint of jealousy. She met Shannon's not so sure gaze. ‘‘He was the first person to show me love…. But I'm afraid he's a man.''
Shannon's eyebrows rose. ‘‘And you didn't notice this before?''
Jenny barked a laugh. ‘‘Oh I defiantly noticed it before. But,'' she sighed. ‘‘It's hard to explain. My body knows the difference between being touched by a man and woman. I always knew which I preferred, what I really wanted. But I was already so much of an outcast because of my gift. I wasn't ready to be ostracized for my choice of lover too. I knew I was gay, I think I've always known. It was never the same with a man, my body responded, but part of me never did…. I'd known Marcus for a long time and it just seemed right to be in a relationship with him, he gave me everything I'd ever craved, love, protection, security, understanding, he accepted my gift without question and helped me with it a lot. It was easy being with him. Sex wasn't a big part of the relationship. I craved, the attention, his need, his love, the feeling of being truly wanted. He gave it, so freely.'' She sighed heavily, looking away. ‘'I hurt him very badly. It wasn't like I said, I kid myself every time I explain it. We didn't just realize we'd be better as friends. I realized it.''
She faced Shannon again, giving a sad smile. ‘'No matter how much I gave to him, it wouldn't be enough or right, because I didn't feel as much as I should have with him. The sexual side, I began putting off more and more and when I realized the real reason why I was doing it, I knew things had to change. He was so loving, giving, accepted the limitation of sex and for a while I talked myself into believing it was enough.... ‘' She paused. ‘' I could bluff myself only so much, but it really wasn't enough for either of us and it was totally unfair to him.''
Shannon took a breath. ‘'What was reason?''
Jenny gave a wry smile. ‘'I think you can guess. I knew the first women who came along and touched me in love I'd break his heart, he wouldn't have stood a chance. So, I ended it, and as much as he agreed with it, I knew he didn't. I'm a lucky as hell he's still in my life and a friend, that is really all he is a friend and that's all he is ever going to be Shannon.''
Shannon understood and nodded, feeling the jealousy disappear. ‘'Has a woman touched you in love.''
Jenny smiled shyly. ‘‘Oh yea. But we didn't work. In the end….'' Her smile dropped. ‘‘She couldn't handle my gift…. She tried too, but it became a problem between us. She left after two years…. That was about four years ago, and well there's been no one since.'' She swallowed hard. Holding Shannon's hand tightly and her gaze. ‘'…. Not by choice anyway.''
Shannon inhaled sharply, feeling like someone had just gut punched her. It was one thing to suspect something, it was another to have it said so roughly in front of you. Shannon could see it all in the eyes that watched her, feel it in the shudder that passed between them. Her voice broke as she spoke. ‘‘Jen.''
‘‘Yes.'' Jenny felt the tremble, unsure if it was her or Shannon.
‘‘I really need to hug you right now. If that's okay.''
Just the fact she'd asked broke Jenny's hold on her emotions, hearing the anguish broke the need to run. ‘‘Please.'' Was all Jenny could manage as the sob tore from her throat.
Shannon pulled her quickly to her, engulfing the small woman against her. ‘'I won't let anything like that, happen ever again. I swear it.''
Jenny just held on, and for once she stayed, fighting the urge to run away, she held on tighter, letting the tears flow, believing the words repeated into her ear and inside another part of her healed.
‘'I promise.'' Shannon held her tighter, never before meaning something so much in her life.
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