Chapter 2

Though he was reluctant to do so, Morse had to admit that Doctor Maximilian Theodore Siegfried DeBryn was something of a riddle.

And he had always enjoyed riddles.

There was just something… peculiar about him, the constable thought, all soft smiles and wool sweaters on the outside, with razor wit and a sharp brain inside. A contrast, surely, and most certainly a puzzle for him to figure out.

The trouble was, he'd already been back at Oxford for a few months now, and he was still no where closer to finding out how the man came to be.

He had found that he actually enjoyed the doctor's company, something which could only be said for a rare handful of people. It wasn't every day that he met someone who could quote A. E. Housman, after all. And while much of what he said flew over the heads of his surrounding colleagues, it always got an amused snort from DeBryn and an even more comical remark.


The few months in Whitney seemed rather dull without the pathologist to entertain him.


After he returned, Morse couldn't help but feel lost.

Lost because of his turbulent emotions, lost because of being out of the loop for so long, lost because he didn't know how to act around DeBryn right now.

When he saw the pathologist on the rooftop, he was half tempted to turn back around and ask Strange to check it out instead.

But then that irritating little voice in the back of his head, that voice that usually, he could squash and put to rest, jumped to the forefront of his mind with the doctor's name on its tongue and-

-and Morse had missed him.

Walking up to stand next to the man, he paused, unsure what to say, unsure if he should say something, it had been months since they'd last seen each other after all so maybe he shouldn't talk maybe-

Thankfully, however, DeBryn made that decision for him.

"Off heights, are we?"

"Lately. Funnily enough".

And just like that, they were back to normal.

"Not how I'd 'my own quietus make', but he wouldn't have known much about it. Instantaneous", he continued, glancing over at him, "Dead before his mind had a chance to catch up with the rest of him".

Morse avoided his curious gaze, instead, staring down at the glasses in front of him, "What do you make to these?"

"Commonly removed in suicides. Automatic gesture… And, of course, the added benefit in this instance, is that he wouldn't have seen what was coming towards him".

"Cause?"

"Something of a salmagundi".

And there it was again, the verbose words and theatrical flair, something that only Morse could appreciate. But why did the man do it? Surely, he knew that the rest of the force gave him blank looks and odd stares when he used such terms, and even more so when he quoted poetry. So, was he doing it just for him, then? To get his attention? To amuse him? Or was it merely to amuse himself? Knowing he was more intelligent than anyone else in the surrounding crime scene?

The constable frowned.

DeBryn didn't seem arrogant, self-confident, yes, as everyone should be, but not arrogant.

But then why-?

"Nothing suspicious?"

"Only you" He glanced up at him with a teasing smile, "Morse".

Well.

Whatever the reason.

He was glad he knew this particular pathologist.


The case of the murdered children shook them all to the core.

Morse had seen plenty of death in his time, both in Carshall-Newton and Oxford, and the majority of the time, the victim hadn't even deserved to die… but there was always something just that little bit more real about it when came to dead children.

Standing in front of the old Victorian house, staring across the foggy fields and echoing rivers, knowing that he was alive, breathing, there to see the brand-new day when that poor poor wretched little child was not-

He gave DeBryn a second look when he saw the devastation on his face.

"There was nothing you could've done" the doctor finally said, "The wound was grievous, mortal".

It was of little comfort.

"At least the fall…" He trailed off, "Adults, one takes the rough with the smooth. But this… You find this piece of work, Morse".

He felt the man's stern gaze land on him.

"You find whoever did that" He said, "For me, all right? You find them".

It was a testament as to how much respect he now held for the pathologist that he threw his heart and soul into the rest of the case.

He did it for the murdered children, he did it for Bunty, and he did it for DeBryn.


Taking a long swig from his glass of whiskey, Morse rested his head on the back of the chair, a soprano thrilling in the background.

Despite all their cases together, there was still very little he knew about the quiet yet confident doctor, a realisation that irked him to no end.

He was clever, that much was for certain, and he had good humour too. He was kind, caring when needed, always stitching him up after the latest tousle. But he could also be harsh, unforgiving, with scathing comments sharper than the scalpels he worked with.

He spoke to the man on a regular basis, it was all part of the job, after all, but he seemed to be just as private as Morse himself, and he hadn't gained much insight into his personal life. He didn't even know if there was a Mrs. DeBryn, or a mister for that matter, as many doctor's took off their wedding rings at work so as to not get them tarnished.

And why was he even interested in finding out about his possible relationships, anyway?

The constable frowned, glass half-raised to his lips.

Was he interested in… ?

No.

That was prosperous.

Yes, the man was intelligent, and amusing to boot, and, well, yes, he was good looking, not that it even mattered, but-

Morse shook his head, dispelling all traitorous thoughts. DeBryn was just a complicated puzzle, that's all, a great riddle that he wanted to solve.

Perhaps, even, the greatest riddle of them all.

So maybe a new approach was in order…