Xander was startled out of a sound sleep by the sound of his lover ranting and raving in the next room. Grabbing his boxers, he rushed into the kitchen and found the steam whistle screaming from the kettle and his lover fuming and stomping.
Xander turned off the burner, silencing the boiling water and placed his hand on Spike's arm. "What is it? What happened?"
Spike slammed the remote down on the kitchen counter so hard the battery cover flew off the back and cracked.
"We've been betrayed. Some asshole at the station talked to Little Miss Muffit on the evening news. Had to have been some fucker that was aware of our investigation. Jesus, Xan, do you think it was the killer? We're pretty sure it's a cop, but why the fuck would he inform on himself? She reported that those murders were connected. She used the words serial killer. Do you think he's taunting us or maybe just wants to get caught? Damn! I know one thing for sure, the sand in this hour glass is getting mighty low."
Xander pulled him into a hug and kissed the strain out of Spike's pursed lips. He then put his hands on Spike's shoulders and gave him a good shaking.
"Listen up, Buddy, you said yourself that it was only a matter of time before the press and the public put two and two together. With or without a snitch in the woodwork this kind of thing can't stay hidden forever. Don't let it shake you. Don't let it change what you and Faith are doing."
Spike sat down, all the heat and fury gone, he looked up at Xander sadly. "She says it's my fault those women died. Said if I had done my job or at least given the public all the information, they would still be alive. Shit, Xander, I really thought I was doing what was right."
Xander kissed Spike's forehead and put his arm around his shoulders. "You're a good cop, Spike. You did what you thought you needed to. Don't let insecurity and second guesses affect how you proceed. You have to catch this guy, and I'm gonna help."
Suddenly Spike jumped back to his feet, remembering why they had come here in the first place. He bolted for the bedroom and the suit coat he had tossed there. "The Rose!"
Xander sat down at the small, round breakfast table and waited while Spike retrieved the evidence. He knew what was expected of him and how important it was. He closed his eyes. Breathing deeply, Xander cleared his mind and prepared himself.
He set aside all thoughts of his job and his outside life. He disregarded his sexual satisfaction and, for the time being, even stored his newly found love and passion on a far back mental shelf.
Slipping into a state of light meditation, he was ready. Within minutes Spike had returned and sat at the small wrought iron chair across from him. He had also brought a yellow legal pad and two pens.
Spike gently opened the baggie and Xander immediately stopped him. "Don't touch it. Your energy on it may confuse me. Open the bag and drop it into my hand. And Spike, no matter what happens, don't stop me. Don't interfere with the process. Let me talk then when I nod you can ask me questions. All right?"
Spike agreed and with no further hesitation, watched as the now wilted red rose bud tumbled out into the strong calloused hand that opened for it.
The reaction was immediate. Xander's body stiffened and his eyes squeezed shut tightly, a small involuntary whimper sounded despite his closed mouth.
Spike sat silently, pen in hand. Patience was never a virtue Spike had mastered and it was all he could do not to shake Xander, screaming "What? What do you see?"
Visibly composing himself despite the tears that rolled down his cheeks, Xander filled his lungs to capacity and slowly exhaled.
"I see him moving. He's restless, almost frantic. Something has happened recently to accelerate his need to kill. I see the girls he killed. I see them through him. He feels furious and the only thing that relieves the burning inside him is the sight of them as they die. It helps for a while, but his situation is worsening and he is compelled to kill again."
Xander rocked himself in the chair as the visions of horror and pain split through his brain. His foot tapped on the floor and every muscle in his legs went tense. He nodded and Spike paused in his writing.
"Can you see him, Xander? Can you describe him to me?"
Xander lowered his head and tried to filter through the collage of death that was bombarding him. The conflicting emotions of the victims flowed and blended with the sparks flying off the killer.
"I see him first from the back. He's taller than average. Maybe 6'2" or 6'3", not heavy but full built. He has short dark hair and always wears a long black coat. It's his protection and concealment. He sleeps during the day and prowls the city at night. I see him as he stands at the doors of his victims. He smiles. He holds up an identification case and they welcome him in. His victims are not random. They were preselected and stalked for weeks before he made his move. In an odd sort of way he falls in love with them. I think it's because of who they represent. He then punishes them for the sins of the other. He is conflicted. His has a strong religious upbringing and in some way that drives him. They have done something to offend God and he justifies what he does as righteous vengeance. It also feeds his need
to be caught. I hear him. As he strangles them he prays. "Hail Mary full of grace. The Lord is with you. Blessed is thou among women. Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for these sinners now, as this is the hour of their death. Amen"
Spike worried. Xander seemed to be slipping away into a swamp of emotions. "His face. Xander, can you see his face?"
Xander tipped his head to the side. A look of concentration marred his usually relaxed features. "He's clean shaven. No beard, no moustache. His hair is greying at the temples. He is older than I thought from behind. His face is wrinkled Not old age but that excessive tobacco and alcohol abuse look. He smiles at them and his teeth are yellowed. I see bushy eyebrows, beady dark eyes and thin lips."
"Has he already picked another victim?"
Xander nodded. "He's watching her right now. He's been following her and has already made first contact. There is no rape. He doesn't want them sexually yet he inserts the rose to let you know he could have. He waits. He masturbates to the memory of them dying when he gets home."
"Why a rose, Xander? What does it mean?"
Xander shook his head. "I don't know. It's a strong representation. A name maybe? All I know is that time is short, Spike, and he's feeling desperate."
Xander carefully laid the flower down on the table and pulled his hand away from it. "I'm sorry, Spike. I know that doesn't help you much."
Spike placed both his hand over Xander's shaky ones bringing him a sense of calming stability. "No. Xander you did great. It was a big help. Is there anything else?"
Sadly Xander looked into Spike's eyes as one more tear ran down his cheek and dripped onto the table.
"Yes. At least one more person is going to die before all this is over, Spike. He will claim one more innocent person. I just don't know who."
Fred Cooper flexed his cramped fingers and sat up straight in his chair listening to the vertebrae in his spine snap loudly back into place. To him it had been a tedious eight hour shift.
It was one of the drawbacks to giving up the uniform and cruiser. It didn't take long to realize all government jobs contained a direct correlation between the pay increase and the paperwork load. By his calculation each additional dollar equaled ten new forms.
He scratched his fingernails through his short stubbly hair and belched. The acid in his stomach burned with indigestion from too much vending machine coffee and too little food.
He had given up the search for antacid tablets three hours ago, although he did find a lint covered cough drop in the back of his desk drawer. It looked better than it tasted.
The arthritis in his hands and the strain from his bifocals had given him a pounding headache. 'It's a bitch getting old.' He told himself.
His day had been tied and tangled up by weeding and wading through a weeks worth of paperwork that had filled his in box to overflowing.
He much preferred field work to the boredom of completing forms, complaints, and background checks, but knew it was a necessary evil. It wasn't arrests that got convictions it was the attention to detail in the paperwork done after that sealed the case.
He was well aware that no Prosecutor would take a case that had been sloppily done and no pervert would walk free due to laziness, not if Cooper could help it. Cross the "t's" and dot the "i's" was his motto.
Sighing with satisfaction, Cooper viewed the empty in box and the stuffed out box. By the time he came in tomorrow one of the interns will have filed and transferred all the folders to their appropriate destination and he could hit the streets again. Maybe it wasn't a wasted day after all.
Checking the clock on the wall he was delighted to see he was just ten minutes from punching out and rushing home to the waiting arms of a frozen pizza and a bottle of beer. Just one.
He was lonely, but knew it was an isolation of his own doing. After the incident with Faith, Cooper had become moody, depressed, and angry. Sue had tried, she really had, but after six months she had given him an ultimatum. Get help or she would take the kids and go home to Ohio, to her parents. One month later she left.
Cooper promised himself he would call tomorrow. He hadn't talked to his daughters in weeks and missed the hell out of them. He didn't tell Sue, for fear of failure, but he had gotten help. He had stopped drinking, realizing the answer was not at the bottom of a bottle, met with a therapist once a week for a month now and was considering asking her to come back. If she would. If it wasn't too late.
Standing up he lifted his jacket off the back of his chair. Rooting through his pockets he found the ever present cigarettes he always kept with him and decided he could wait till tomorrow to buy more.
One more thing held him back. That nagging, itchy feeling still slithered up and down his spine. Jerking open his desk drawer, Cooper pulled out a scrap of paper. It was the torn off corner of a sheet of yellow legal paper that he had written a name and address on. Glancing at the street number, he stuffed it in his pocket with his smokes and headed out, closing the door and snapping off the light behind him.
The older, dark colored Kia switched off it's headlights and cruised to a stop in the quiet residential neighborhood. The back seat was folded down and stacked to the roof with empty packing boxes and paper bags. The car's driver strained to see down the block at the small cottage that sat on the corner.
"Are you sure he isn't home? How can you tell?"
The passenger reached for the driver's hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze. "I know him. He always parks the Jeep right in front of the house and it's not there. Besides that, when he is home he turns on every light in the house. I used to kid him that he was afraid of the Boogy man."
Faith listened to Kennedy's assurances and continued to stare at the innocuous looking wood shingled house.
"I still don't see why we're doing this. What the hell does he have that you can't live without? The divorce hearing is next week can't you just come up with a list of things that you want the judge to award you?"
Kennedy unbuckled her seat belt and turned around to reach into the back and start stacking up the empty containers.
"No. Some of that stuff is just too important. My Grandma's china, and my Aunt Ida's lamp and candy jar. Elvin knows how much that stuff means to me, if the judge adds it to the decree El will smash every bit of it, if he hasn't
already. Come on, please Faith? You promised to help me. We just slip in load up the rest of my clothes, my personal papers, and glassware and we can be out in less than thirty minutes."
Through the darkness of a corner with a broken street lamp, Faith looked over at her lover, her soul mate. She could see the desperation in her eyes as they sparked with tears. There was nothing she wouldn't do for Kennedy, but she had a bad feeling about this.
Still, a promise was a promise.
"Thirty minutes. No more. We go in, snatch what you need and we're gone, you understand? And the first sign of trouble we sneak out the back door. No confrontations. No face offs. Agreed?"
Kennedy threw herself in Faith's lap and kissed her soft lips. "Agreed. I love you Faith. No matter what happens, I love you."
Faith reached her hand around to her side, comforted by the feel of the shoulder holster and the 38 special that was tucked in there. She looked at the digital clock on the dashboard. 10:13.
Starting the car she crawled down the street keeping to the curb and not turning on the head lights, all the time watching the house for any sign of occupation.
As soon as they stopped, Kennedy jumped out and ran around to the back lifting the hatch and retrieving as many boxes as she could carry. Faith did the same and followed her girlfriend to the side door that led to the kitchen.
Praying that he hadn't changed the locks, she slipped her key in and breathed a sigh when it turned easily. With her hand on Kennedy's arm, Faith drew her service revolver and led the way into the darkened house.
They paused and listened. No sound reached their ears so they crept on toward the center of the room. Grabbing Kennedy's hand as she reached for the light switch, Faith shook her head vigorously and pulled a small keychain flashlight out of her pocket.
Setting one of the boxes on the kitchen table, Kennedy pointed out which china was her grandmothers and indicated silently that Faith was to start boxing it up while she went to retrieve her personal items from the bedroom upstairs.
Faith was torn between insisting that they stay together and hurrying up so they could get the fuck out. Hesitating, she watched her lover disappear into the dim recesses of the house before she quickly began snatching and stacking, hoping she would be forgiven for any chips or cracks.
Silently, Kennedy crept up the stairs toward the bedroom. She knew the small metal box that contained all her personal papers was hidden in the back of the closet and, unless he had trashed it, this would be her only chance.
She had an empty plastic trash bag in her hand and planned on shoving as many pairs of shoes and jeans in it as she could in the allotted time. Such frivolity would, no doubt, piss Faith off, but damn it, she worked hard for her things and she had no intention of watching Elvin warm himself beside a bonfire of her clothes.
Creeping quietly across the landing at the top of the steps, Kennedy stuck her head in the dark, empty bedroom. She momentarily wondered where he went when he disappeared at night, but considering she no longer cared, she shrugged and darted in.
Spike resealed the small plastic evidence bag and assured himself that the seal was secured and appeared unbroken. He had, only moments before, snatched it from Xander's hand, breaking the painful psychic bond and releasing him from the full color images that tore through his brain.
"We don't proceed at all. I really appreciate your help, but there is no way I'm going to put you in harms way."
Spike checked the clock on the wall and noted the time. 9:07 p.m.
"I'm going to wait till around ten o'clock when most of the detectives are gone and slip back into the station house. I need to put this back in the safe before anyone sees me with it. If this case ever makes it to trial, I don't want the snitch, whoever he is, saying I was seen with crucial evidence. You wait here and when I get back we can talk about
what our next move will be."
Xander sat patiently, listening and seeming to agree with everything his boyfriend was saying, at least till the end. Then he calmly corrected him, his voice leaving no doubt.
"Sounds good. Maybe while you're out you can check in with Faith and see if she heard the evening news. The only thing wrong with your plan is that I have absolutely no intention of sitting home while you're running around in the middle of the night with a killer on the loose. Besides, I can wait in the car for you and then we can go get something
to eat after."
Spike huffed and stood with his fists on his hips. He was not used to being questioned. He did not like being challenged. Fuck! He suddenly realized love had caused some sort of chasm between his brain and his mouth when, much to his own shock, the words "Yeah, sure, sounds good." rolled off his tongue.
"Great!" That had been a whole lot easier than Xander thought it would. Leaping to his feet, his body felt the strange combination of exhaustion and exhilaration he always felt after an extensive reading. He also felt sweaty, funky from their bedroom antics and badly in need of a shower if they were going out.
"I need to clean up a bit. Wouldn't want the counter clerks in Burger King to smell us and know we just had it our way."
Spike frowned, missing the slogan reference and still a bit tiffed over the challenge to his authority. Charging after the naked man in his kitchen, Spike caught him just as he made it to the doorway into the living room and grabbed him by the arm. Catching him and spinning him around, Spike shoved the larger man roughly up against the wall. Xander gasped, his eyes big as saucers and his mouth gaping open in a mixture of shock and arousal.
It was such a submissive reaction Spike felt his cock twitch and he pressed his lover even further against the door frame with his hand firmly on Xander's chest.
Sliding his much cooler hands slowly up the overheated skin of his lover, Spike reached the nipples and was not surprised to find them already reacting to the contrast in body temperature. They pebbled and begged to be pinched and rolled. Spike was happy to comply.
Xander made no move to return the sexual advancement. Instead he closed his eyes, tipped his head back and shut his brain off.
"Oh, fuck, Spike, that feels so good. Just touch me. Touch me all over."
Spike looked down at their growing erections and took a step closer. Close enough that they barely touched. Head bumping head. Xander's hips jerked forward seeking more contact only to be stopped by Spike's firm grip on his hips.
"Not yet. We get off when I say. You stand there and don't move. You understand? I'm driving this car so you just settle in as shotgun and let me pull your trigger."
Xander groaned at the combination of bad pun and terrific sex. He knew better than to think that because Spike liked to be fucked that made him a bottom. Spike was one of those rare types. A strong dominate that happened to like to have a cock shoved up his ass.
By coincidence Xander happened to be the other piece of that equation. A submissive, gentle personality who ached to fuck his man long and hard with the fattest cock mother nature's generosity could conceive.
By both men's estimation. They were a perfect match.
Spike gripped two handfuls of thick, soft hair and pulled Xander's face in for a passionate, wanton kiss. Sealing their lips, Xander immediately opened and accepted the cool tongue that fucked his mouth, licking his tongue, cheeks and flicked across the roof of his mouth behind his teeth.
Spike could feel the short huffs of air from Xander's nose against his face. Sliding his hands down Xander's neck to his forearms he chuckled at the strength he felt there. "Look at you, all hard and muscles firm. Must be working all that wood what's got you so built up."
Xander whimpered. He wanted to follow orders but he ached to touch the man who was happily torturing him. "Come on, Spike quit playing. Touch me. Please."
Spike began kissing Xander's adams apple down to his chest, all the time slowly bumping and lightly rubbing their wet cocks together.
Finally, knowing time was short, Spike latched on to a nipple, teasing it with his teeth and tongue all the while beginning a regular rhythm of humps and grinds with increased pressure to their cocks.
Quickly, Xander spread his feet and stared at the erotic sight between them. His breath came out in short bursts of "Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's it. Just like that. Harder. Please, harder. Fuck, that's good."
Spike sped up the movement of his hips, humping and grinding, slick with the oozing precum dribbling from both and freely running together. The tingle in his crotch and thighs hummed deliciously.
"Fuck, Xan, look at that cock. So fat, so hungry. Jesus it's so good all shoved up and burnin' in my arse. When we get home tonight I'm gonna shove you down on your back and I'm gonna ride that fuckin' Clydesdale till it splits me open."
Xander gave in to his urges. He forgot all instructions and grabbed Spike by the ass slamming their bodies together and offering that last bit of pressure between them. Feeling his own cock harden even more, Xander knew he couldn't hold out much longer, He just needed one thing.
He needed to be inside Spike. And from the dark eyes staring back at him, Xander knew Spike wanted that too.
Roughly reaching between the pale round cheeks, Xander probed till he located the clenched tight hole.
"There it is. That's what you want isn't it? You want me inside your body when you cum?"
Spike whimpered and squatted slightly to give Xander better access all the time keeping up a steady frantic frot. "Yeah, do it. Please Xan, do it."
Xander flicked his fingertip over the wrinkled opening, driving Spike crazy, his humping becoming erratic and messy.
Finally Xander roughly breached the ring of muscle, shoving his way in and wasting no time in finding and rubbing the swollen nub hidden there.
Spike was through. He grunted and jerked forward gripping his cock as it twitched and pumped gooey fluid between them. Xander slid his own cock through the slimy mess on his lover's body and quickly tensed, his whole body rigid as his DNA joined that of his lover.
Both men wavered on their feet as wave after heated wave washed through their bodies. When the shocks seemed to have stopped, Spike looked up lazily. "I think your finger is still up my ass."
Xander smiled and wiggled it around. "Yep, there it is."
Both men snickered as he popped it out and they headed to the bathroom to wash up
Fred Cooper signed the book on the dispatch desk and noted the time of his departure. He took a few minutes to chat with Tim Taylor, who was also going off duty, and then headed to the parking garage.
His discontent with his life had grown by leaps and bounds lately and he thought again of the family he had so far away. Suddenly he felt like the most foolish person he had ever known.
His face burst into a huge grin and his heart swelled. He knew without a doubt what he wanted to do. As much as he enjoyed it, when it came right down to it this job was nothing more than a paycheck. A paycheck that, due to his hermit like lifestyle, had allowed him to save quite a bit of money.
Money that would cover him for at least six months while he looked for work. Work in Ohio. He had wasted all the time on stupidity and stubbornness he could afford. He still had a wife and two daughters that he missed like hell and he was finally ready to fight to get them back.
With a light heart and step, Cooper whistled as he zipped down the steps and out the front door into the cool night air towards the car park.
He hopped in and snapping the shifter into drive, pulled out of the garage. His thoughts still centered on his daughters and how much he missed and loved them. He felt waves of guilt for not being there to help raise them and to protect them as a father is supposed to do. He hoped there was someone there looking out for them.
Thinking of all the dangers the world held for innocent children brought his mind back to the young girl who had come to see him this afternoon. He wondered where her father was and if there was anyone who was looking out for her and keeping her safe.
Reaching the stop sign at the corner of Fifth and Market, Cooper paused. He flipped on his turn signal to take a left and go home, make his travel plans and wait till dawn when he could call Sue and beg her for another chance.
At the last second though, he changed his mind. Flipping off the signal, he drove straight, deciding the best thing he could do for his own daughters right now was to check on someone else's.
It wasn't far, just a few blocks out of the way. After all, he had promised Dawn he would look out for her and he had broken enough promises, let enough people down in his life. She wouldn't be another. A quick drive by to insure all was secure would take less than ten minutes.
Out of habit, Cooper checked his shoulder holster for his off duty weapon and flipped the toggle switch on the police mobile radio in his car. His mind drifted as the static and intermittent calls and responses filled his car and sailed over his head.
"Signal 86 at 10th and Main."
Signal 13 in progress Baker Jewelry."
After so many years on the force, Coopers brain sifted through the constant unending chatter, filtering out the important and disregarding the rest. With his eyes focused on the posted house numbers, he slowed as he came to a large brick building on the corner of the block.
It was one of the buildings that had, years ago, been luxury condos. Now, with the slipping economy, it, along with several others, had been bought up by big conglomerates and chopped into small single apartments rented to students and young singles struggling to survive.
Glancing at the clock on his radio, Fred noted that it was nearly 10:15 and wondered if it was too late to knock on her door. Just a word or two to let her know he was looking out for her and to ensure she was all right.
He watched the front of the building for a minute or so and then decided. He shut off the car and reached for the handle on the door when something caught his eye. A movement. A shadow that seemed to dart around the side of the building. It happened so quickly he couldn't be sure.
Maybe he didn't see anything at all. Fred waited, giving his eyes a chance to adjust to the darkness, he stared at the shrubs and watched as a fresh breeze ruffled and swayed in the branches. 'That must have been it.' he thought. 'Just the wind.' Taking a minute to follow procedure, Fred pressed the mic button and called in.
"Cooper to Starcom"
"Starcom, go ahead Cooper."
"Doing a quick walk around at 223 Market. Wait ten minutes and give a well call. No back up needed."
"Well call in ten. You're clear."
With no further hesitation and anxious to get home to his pizza and his road map, Fred Cooper jumped from his car and started up the walk.
Spike had pulled into the parking garage just in time to see Fred Cooper pull out. He was incredibly grateful for the timing and decided that if they hadn't taken the time to fuck just once more in the shower he would have come face to face with his old friend and had to give an explanation of why he was there this late in the evening.
It was not unusual for a detective working an active investigation to be in and out of the station at all hours, but until this evidence was safely secured he knew the guilt and stress showed clearly on his face.
"I can't believe I let you talk me into coming along." Spike scowled at his passenger and waited for an apology.
Xander reached his hand over and let it slowly run up the inseam of Spike's trousers till it nudged the bulge of heavy balls. He snickered as Spike gasped and immediately moved his legs around as far as the cramped front seat of the small sports car would allow.
Xander took advantage of the offered access and after letting his fingers bounce the sac a few times he then pressed his way up the growing length of a cock that Spike swore wouldn't get hard again till tomorrow.
"You know you want me with you. Keeping you company. Groping your ass in public." Xander laughed as Spike's head fell back against the head rest and he groaned placing his hand over top Xander's and guided it up and down, pressing into the heavy cock that was tenting the front of his dress pants.
"Jesus, Xan, that is so undignified. I got a position you know. I command respect around here." It was a statement that would have carried considerably more weight if Spike wasn't breathing hard and frantically humping against Xander's grip.
Leaning over, Xander kissed his lips and quickly unzipped Spike's pants. "In that case we can't have you going in there with a damp spot and a hard on can we? Maybe I can solve that for you. Maybe I can show you why you let me come along."
Spike's head jerked from side to side, desperate to make sure they were alone in the garage. He could just see it blasted on the evening news. He could imagine that twit, Buffy, informing the public at large that William Pratt, lead investigator, was caught with his pants down receiving 'Ugh!' the best fuckin' blow job in the world!
"Holy Dustbuster! Jesus what a mouth you got. Yeah, Xan, suck me. Oh, fuck, Baby your mouth feels so hot, so wet. Damn I wish I could get you on your knees between my legs. Fuck, eat that meat. Damn! Damn! Da............AAHHH!"
Spike held the back of Xander's head in place while he pumped his hips fucking out the last few squirts of cum down his boy's throat. Xander willingly swallowed it all and licked the detective clean with an agile, talented tongue finishing the job with a small kiss to the head of Spike's rapidly deflating cock.
Spike chuckled and stared down at the limp, wrinkled flesh that flopped onto his thigh. "Jesus, Xan, you killed it."
Xander laughed and helped gently stuff it back in without injuring it. "Don't worry, I see a miraculous resurrection in your future."
Faith had quickly boxed up all the dishes that had the same small flowered pattern and looked like they might even remotely belong to the set that Kennedy had pointed out.
They were all stacked up by the back door and ready to be carried out. Checking her watch, Faith was startled to realize they had already been there for eighteen minutes. Tapping her foot impatiently she wondered where the fuck her girlfriend was and what was taking so long. She toyed with the idea of taking the boxes out and packing them into the rear of the Kia but for some reason the thought of leaving Kennedy alone in the house scared the hell out of her.
Having given Kennedy the small flashlight, Faith was left to feel her way around in the dark as she worked her way through the kitchen and into the living room following the path she had seen Kennedy take. The whole house had a depressed feeling and she couldn't wait to get out and return to the safety of their apartment on the other side of town. Reaching the bottom of the stairs, Faith craned her neck and whispered harshly. "Kennedy! Kennedy are you up there? Kennedy!"
When she got no response, Faith became alarmed and, as quietly as possible, dashed up the darkened stairway to find the bedroom above. Tip toeing across the landing she let her eyes become accustomed enough to the dark that she could make out the shape of the floor plan and several doorways both opened and closed.
Feeling her way she stuck her head in to the first room she found and saw, off to the far wall, the dim shadow of a beam of light she recognized as her flashlight. Still, there was no sign of her errant girlfriend. Annoyance started to morph into fear and Faith froze.
Faith stood motionless, crouched against the wall just inside the room. There was no sound or indication that Kennedy was dead or alive. Faith shivered as the terror she had been trying to control finally took over her body.
Her hands shook and her breath came in quick rapid gulps but she vowed she would not leave this house without her lover. Working her way down the wall she drew her revolver and held it tightly in her sweating palm, the smell of the gun oil giving her reassurance. Her heart pounded so hard she was afraid it may explode.
Following the speck of light like a homing pigeon, Faith dropped to the floor and crept silently forward. When she got closer she realized the reason the beam appeared so muffled was that it was projecting from within a closet.
Crawling quicker she was horrified to see that the light was not the only thing protruding from inside the dark closet floor. Immediately Faith recognized the legs and feet that were reflected in the dim light of the keychain as those that belonged to the woman she loved. They were the only thing visible as the rest of her was stuffed back into the corner, silent and unmoving.
Slapping her hand over her mouth to prevent the scream of horror that wanted to rip through the air, Faith's eyes searched the darkness for any movement, any sign of where the threat was coming from. Nothing came. No indication of what had happened. No movement to betray another person's concealment. Finally Faith couldn't hold back any longer. Crawling forward as rapidly as she could she reached the feet of her love.
Tucking her revolver back in it's holster, she grabbed both the ankles of the seemingly unconscious woman and jerked, pulling her roughly out into the room.
Kennedy screamed, the shoes she had been trying to reach in the far corner came flying out of her hands and she wildy began slapping and punching at her attacker.
In response, Faith screamed and tumbled back, landing on her ass and immediately scrambling, crab like, away from the flailing woman.
"Faith? WHAT THE FUCK, FAITH? Jesus H. Christ! You damn near gave me a fuckin' heart attack. What the hell is wrong with you? Sneaking up and grabbing me like that?"
"ME? Shit, Kennedy! Didn't you hear me calling you? I thought you were fuckin' dead laying there. I nearly shot you! What the fuck were you doing in there?"
Kennedy glanced down at the half full sack and smiled sheepishly. "I was trying to find those cute little flowered sandals I have. They go so well with my white capris I didn't want to lose them."
"Oh for God's sake!" Faith pulled herself to her feet, trying to will her heart to slow to normal and the adrenalin rush to burn itself out. "Well one thing's for sure, if no one heard all that and came rushing in to kill us then it's a pretty safe bet to say there's no one here." Faith flipped the wall switch and flooded the room with light. "There. Now, find what you want and bag it up. You have five minutes and then we go with or without those adorable little open toed numbers."
Kennedy scrambled to her feet. She had no intention on wasting valuable minutes arguing time restraints. Her hands and the clothes hangers flew in a frantic blur.
Faith chuckled and took the time to look around. She had often been curious about how Kennedy and Elvin were together, but it didn't seem right to ask. Walking over to the dresser, Faith picked up a wedding picture. She frowned at the beaming smile on the bride. A very youthful Kennedy who gazed lovingly at the young man beside her.
Flanked on both sides by family and friends Kennedy stood, a vision in her snug white flowing wedding gown, her arms full of a lush bouquet of red roses. Faith shook her head and attempted to stomp down the jealousy that twisted in her heart.
Replacing the photo she peeked over to see that the bride was now shoveling bras and panties on top the shoes. Faith smiled and continued her inspection. The head board of the bed was covered in rose decals that somewhat matched
the bedspread and the curtains. Faith snorted at the trailer park attempt at interior design. "Am I seeing a theme here?"
Kennedy rooted through the bag in her hands. By her estimation she had one minute left and didn't want to waste it on chit chat. "What?"
Faith waved her arms and flipped her fingers in all directions around the room. "A theme. I take it you liked your bedroom done in flowers?"
Kennedy took one last look around. She couldn't think of anything she had forgotten. Distractedly, she mumbled. "Oh, no, that was all El. He insisted on calling me his Rosebud. Said I belonged to him always and our love would bloom fresh every spring, or some such nonsense. I think it had something to do with his strict Catholic upbringing. Made him think bizarre thoughts. Anyway, I think I'm ready. Let's get the fuck out here. Faith? What is it? Why are you looking at me like that?"
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