Payback in Death – a Fan Fiction Story
By Ms Joy
Chapter OneSaturday, November 3, 2060
(oops -- accidentally deleted this after publishing it -- sorry! it's back now, don't know if comments will come back. I'll figure it out shortly!)
Eve's feet were screaming inside her four-inch stiletto heeled shoes, but she kept right on smiling as she sipped champagne and worked on appearing interested in the inane chatter of Roarke's guests. She knew some of the guests were important business partners, while others were executives high up on the food chain of Roarke Industries. God knew, she missed far too many of his myriad social events, chasing down bad guys while leaving her husband alone to entertain in their home. But the young man who was trying to flirt with her had no idea how far out of his depth he was. His dad, Stephen Courtney, was one of Roarke's many vice presidents. Jason Courtney, a college freshman was just along for the ride, and if he "accidentally" brushed up against her one more time, she was going to deck him. Oblivious to his peril, he nattered on, convinced that he was impressing Eve with his urbane sophistication and wit. Over Jason's shoulder, Eve could see Roarke listening politely to a stout, older woman with three chins who was poured into a tight, mud-colored gown, while he eyed Eve's would-be suitor with bemused annoyance.
"You must get awfully lonely, always being left behind when Roarke goes flying out of town to all those meetings and conferences," Jason said earnestly. "A woman as beautiful as you shouldn't be left alone, it's just wrong. That's why I'm thinking you might enjoy seeing the new art exhibit at the Met. I could pick you up, perhaps this Thursday afternoon?"
"Sorry, Jason, but I work fulltime." Eve shook her head slightly at Roarke, indicating that she had the situation in hand. But he strolled over, hand in his pocket, and stood directly behind the young idiot.
"And that's just one more thing that's wrong," Jason said. "You shouldn't be working anymore. It's not like he needs your money. He should have made you quit your job when you got married."
"So I could spend my days shopping and having my nails done?" Eve asked dryly. "Nobody 'makes me' do anything, Jason, least of all Roarke. Has it occurred to you that I like my job and don't want to quit?"
"You do? Really?" Jason flushed, but continued on gamely. "Well okay. If you can't leave work early, perhaps we could do something else – maybe you could come to my house after work, and have dinner. My parents will be out of town Thursday night, so we'd have the whole house to ourselves. You could tell Roarke that you have to work late."
"What a delightful invitation," Roarke said silkily from behind the boy, and Eve watched the color drain from the kid's face. He swallowed hard and turned, found himself staring at Roarke's chest, two inches away. He looked up and Roarke stared coolly down into the boy's terrified eyes. "What kind of after dinner entertainment do you have in mind?"
"Uhhh, n-n-nothing," the boy stuttered. "I –I was just trying to be helpful. Sir."
"What you're trying to do is make a move on my wife, and doing that when I'm standing only ten feet away is incredibly stupid – not to mention rude and just plain tacky." Beads of sweat appeared on Jason's forehead as Roarke continued, lowering his voice. "Now if I slice your balls off, I'll be kind enough to hand them back to you. But the lieutenant here has a wicked mean streak, and if she slices them off, she's more likely to feed them to the cat. " He smiled, showing a lot of teeth and the kid felt his bowels loosen. "You might have better luck with that young woman over there." He nodded towards a young, pretty girl who was gazing dreamily up at the huge, priceless Renaissance painting hanging on the wall. "I believe she's an art major at NYU. And she's single."
The little fool scuttled away and Eve managed – barely - to suppress her laughter. "I wouldn't have fed his balls to Galahad," she told Roarke. "I'd have tossed them into the garbage grinder."
Roarke just shook his head. "I suppose I should give him points for recognizing that you're the most desirable woman in the room…"
"Oh, please! That's pouring it on a bit thick, don't you think?"
He smiled wryly. "I suppose, even though I happen to think it's true. Never mind, I just wanted to put the little ass in his place -- and to ask if you have everything you need. Would you like more champagne?"
"No, I'm good." She shifted, wincing, and Roarke knew her feet were hurting.
"Two more hours, darling Eve, and then our guests will be leaving. I owe you a foot-rub, at the very least. I know this has been tedious for you."
"No, not at all," she lied. When he gave her a look, she shrugged. "Well okay, yeah, I'll be glad when all the chatter about the Icove movie has died down, and if one more person mentions next week's presidential election, I'm going to pull out my weapon and stun them ."
"You're not wearing your weapon."
"I'll go get it. Or I'll skip the stunner and just pull off my shoes and stab them with those ridiculous pointy –" she broke off when she saw Summerset approaching. "Now what? Did we run out of booze? I can dash to the corner liquor store for a couple of six-packs of beer."
"That won't be necessary, Lieutenant," he said dryly, "but there's a call for you. From Dispatch. You can take it in the library."
Eve's eyes went flat, her face instantly shifting to cop-mode. "Excuse me," she said to Roarke, and followed Summerset out of the room.
A few minutes later Summerset signaled Roarke from the doorway – alone – and Roarke knew his wife had caught a case. Somebody was dead and she had been summoned to investigate. He excused himself briefly from his guests and headed for the master bedroom.
Eve had already changed to jeans, the lovely party dress lying in a heap on the floor as she tugged on her boots. "Sorry", she said when she saw Roarke. "Gotta go."
"Yes, I know." He took a sweater from her dresser, handed it to her. "Stay warm."
She felt how incredibly soft and light it was as she slid it over her head, covering the large diamond that hung between her breasts. "Is this cashmere?"
Eve shook her head as she stood, reaching for her weapon harness. "Why do you keep buying stuff like this for me? You know it will get wrecked on the job."
He only smiled. "Just one of my small pleasures."
"Fine. Whatever. Thanks." She paused to touch his face. "Thanks," she said again.
"You're welcome." He pulled her to him, held her, kissed her. "Take care of my cop."
"Always. And you take care of my Irish stud."
He laughed. "Always, darling Eve."
And then she was gone, taking his heart with her. He fingered the little gray button he had in his pocket, wondering if this would be the night she didn't come home – if this would be the night he'd open the front door and find two police officers on his doorstep, coming to tell him – he turned away abruptly, unwilling to finish the thought. That road led to madness. He ran a hand through his hair, took a deep breath, and returned, smiling easily, to his guests.
It felt strange to Eve, examining a crime scene without her partner. But Delia Peabody was in Scotland at the moment, with her lover, E-detective Ian McNab. Ian's sister was getting married, and the entire clan had gathered to celebrate the happy event. Eve prayed the wedding wouldn't put ideas into Peabody's head. Juggling marriage and police work was not for the faint-hearted – not that Peabody was weak, but she WAS soft when it came to McNab. And, Eve realized with sudden horror, Peabody was exactly the kind of woman who would immediately want to make babies once she was married. Shoving that awful thought into a deep dark pocket of her mind, Eve turned the corner and spotted the crime scene a half block down the next street.
CSU was already on scene when she pulled up. She had no trouble finding a parking space in this part of town, filled with abandoned warehouses. The East River was a few blocks away, and the air was damp and fetid, the stench of polluted river water filling her nostrils. The scene was brilliantly lit with portable lights, filling the alley with a cold harsh light, illuminating the broken body that lay amidst a tangle of broken glass, used syringes, stinking garbage and litter. Eve had a sudden flashback of a similar alley in Dallas – one she had crawled into when she was eight, dazed with pain and terror, nursing a broken arm. She closed her eyes, bore down hard on the memory. Christ, not here! Focus! She needed to stay focused on the job. She looked away from the alley, saw two derelicts sitting on the ground in front of a vacant, ramshackle building across the street, watching with dull, bloodshot eyes as they passed a bottle back and forth. Eve focused on them for a moment, drew in a breath, and turned to the uniform standing guard at the entrance to the alley.
"Officer Karpeski," she said, glancing at the nameplate pinned to his uniform. "Are you the officer who called this in?"
"Yes, sir," he replied, snapping to attention. Lieutenant Eve Dallas had a reputation for being nasty mean if you screwed up – but fair when you did the job right. "Well, my partner, Officer O'Donnell called it in." He indicated, with a jut of his chin, another uniformed officer who was busy putting up yellow crime-scene tape. "But we both spotted him – the dead guy – at the same time. And I was the one who got out of the car and took a closer look."
"Okay, yeah. Well it was like this. We cruise through here twice each night. First time we came through, around 6:30 p.m., this alley was clear. But when we made our second pass, around 11:30, we spotted him lying there in the alley. O'Donnell stayed in the vehicle while I approached, checked his pulse and – Sir, the way he was all busted up, with his eyes wide open, just staring up – it was pretty clear that he was dead. O'Donnell called it in, and then we just waited in our vehicle for somebody to show up."
"Have you ever seen him before? Do you know who he is?"
"No, Sir. Never saw him before."
"Okay, thanks." Eve turned away, walked into the alley, stepping over power cords snaking out from the crime scene van to the portable lights illuminating the scene.
The victim was a Caucasian male, sprawled on the ground in a pool of blood and gore, his face broken and smashed, his left leg twisted beneath him at an odd angle. He lay on his side, clad in a black leather jacket, snug black tee-shirt, old worn jeans and beat-up combat boots. Eve sprayed her hands and boots with Seal-It, squatted down beside him, and just observed for a moment. Mid-twenties, she guessed. Husky. Muscular, like he worked out on a regular basis. Tattoo of a hissing cobra coiled around his right arm. Brown hair, cut short. What appeared to be an old knife scar ran down his left cheek. His hands were big, bruised, calloused. He wore a cheap knock-off watch, the face of it shattered, the time stopped at 10:42 p.m. Most likely stopped when he hit the pavement. Vacant pale blue eyes stared unseeingly across the alley. A horrendous wound on the right side of his head was matted with dried blood, grit, and brain matter. She looked closer at the wound and frowned. It looked like he had been bashed on the side of the head with a blunt instrument. Along with his other wounds, it appeared that somebody had worked him over well and good. Maybe used a pipe or a baseball bat, she mused. She stood up, walked around to the other side of the body, squatted again. His wallet was still stuck in his back pocket, so robbery probably wasn't the motive. She motioned to the technician recording the scene to zoom in as she carefully slid the wallet out of the victim's pocket, and flipped it open. A New York driver's license identified him as one Joseph Miller, age twenty-four, residing in the lower east side. Eve counted fifty-seven dollars tucked in with five credit cards – each card bearing a different name, none of them his.
"Guess you liked to use other people's credit cards to pay for your stuff, huh Joe?" Eve murmured. She pulled out her gauges, checked his body for time of death. It matched the time on his broken watch – 10:42 p.m. When she pressed his fingers to the pad, the screen confirmed his identity, and displayed his data. "Joseph Miller, born August 3rd, 2036. Father unknown. Mother dead. No siblings. Occupation - bouncer. Cohabs with Gloria Johnson, three children. Has a sheet, no surprise there Petty theft, stolen cars, identity theft, forged checks, robbery, assault, assault with a deadly weapon. Quite the upstanding citizen, huh, Joe?" She stood up, turned to the technician. "It's homicide," she announced. "Bag him. Have the tekkies figured out where he fell from?"
"Yes, Lieutenant. There's a broken window with fresh bloodstains on the windowsill, fifth floor."
Eve looked up, saw bright, artificial light spilling from the broken window on the fifth floor. "Okay. I'm going up there to take a look." She glanced back at Joseph Miller, shook her head. "He really pissed somebody off."
The sweepers were busy in the fifth floor room where the victim had apparently been beaten. The room was nearly empty, save for a single battered old lamp with a bare bulb, standing on the floor near a row of windows, and an ancient metal desk in the middle of the room that tilted forlornly on a missing leg, all drawers gone. The floor was bare wood, dirty and scuffed. Eve could see small spatters of dried blood here and there on the floor. An old metal baseball bat lay in the far corner of the room, apparently flung aside when the killer was done using it. Eve eyed the bat. Its presence indicated premeditation. Somebody had armed themselves with the bat before coming to meet with Joe. Or – maybe Joe had brought it himself, intending to use it on whoever he was meeting, but the killer wrestled it away from him. The lab would be able to tell her whose fingerprints were on it. She walked over to the row of windows, paused by the one that was broken and – mindful of the jagged pieces of glass still clinging to the frame, poked her head out, looked down. The body was directly beneath, now being lifted into a black body bag by a pair of burly MT's.
Having seen enough, Eve returned to her car and sat for a moment, drumming her fingers on the steering wheel, thinking. She wasn't looking forward to the next task, that of informing next of kin. She thought of a woman whose lover was now dead; three small children who had just lost their dad. Had he been a good dad, she wondered. Had he loved his kids, cared for them? She'd known hardened criminals who could slit an old woman's throat without remorse, and return home to tenderly tuck their child into bed. Not many, she reflected, but still, one never knew. Sighing, she started the car and drove to the address listed on his driver's license.