5. 'Putting the pin back in the grenade'
Ken stood frozen with his hand poised and ready to ring Cat's doorbell. All he could hear was the last song that she had sung and it gave him chills. She needed to be comforted and he wanted so dearly to comfort her, but something was wrong. This was wrong, it was all wrong.
He shouldn't be here.
He retracted his hand from the bell and dropped his arm by his side. He dropped his head and sighed deeply before turning slowly on his heel and walking down the corridor to the elevator. When he reached it, he pressed the 'down' button and waited, the chilly breeze tugging at his hair and coat. He felt numb and drained, like he couldn't stand on his feet anymore because he couldn't feel them. When the elevator arrived, he stepped in and hit the ground floor button, leaning against the cool steel of the elevator wall.
Just as the doors closed, Cat opened her front door and looked up and down the corridor, just catching a glimpse of Ken before they closed completely. She wanted to call out his name but it got stuck in her throat. Disappointed, she went back into her apartment and closed the door behind her, taking deep shuddering breaths.
She moved to her bedroom, pulled out her sleeping pills, stared at them for a while as if considering downing the whole bottle. She shook the bottle until two fell into her palm and threw them back with some water. She curled up on her bed, the sheets hugged tightly to her chest.
Ken pushed back his hair and adjusted his glasses as he stared at the computer screen in his office. At this very moment, the screen was showing him some mug shots of Cat along with her fingerprints and her crimes.
"Breaking and entering. Resisting arrest. Possession."
Ken looked hard at the photo of Cat in the police report. She was fourteen years old. She had a nose ring and dark make-up on. Half of her short blond hair was cerulean blue. The expression on her face at first glance looked as if she didn't care, but Ken stared into those deep brown eyes and could see exactly what she was thinking. She was hurting, she was alone, she just wanted to rebel against everything and everyone, especially herself. She hated who she was, she hated the way she felt in her own skin and wanted nothing more than to escape from it.
Ken knew this, but he had the Digital World to escape to, Cat was not so lucky, she had jail.
Six months in a juvenile correction facility. And when she got out, no real friends, just people who would suck the life out of her because that's what she wanted.
Ken counted himself lucky. When he had being facing some of the darkest times of his life, his real friends had pulled him to safety. She was alone, never wanting to get close to anyone. He felt privileged to have been the one to get close to her. But now he paid a price.
He clicked on another window and an article came up about 'Charlie Jane' and her music career. He visited sites on her but he couldn't quite find what he was looking for. He wasn't exactly sure what he was looking for, but he would know when he saw it.
Aneko walked past his office and backtracked when she saw he was there. She knocked and asked if she could enter. He nodded and glanced at his watch.
"What are you doing here so late?" he asked.
"Only had half the night off. What about you? I thought you had the whole night off. What's your excuse?"
He sighed deeply and removed his glasses as Aneko sat opposite his desk. "I guess I can't stay way."
Feeling that something else entirely was distracting her supervisor, she tried to bring his attention back to something she knew would ground him, the case.
"I saw that you hadn't run a comparison against the DNA we found in the stolen van with the evidence we found on the latest victim's blouse. That's not like you."
He looked up at her with a frown, "That's not like me."
"Yeah I know. No offense, Ken, but you haven't been yourself lately."
He nodded and pinched his eyes.
"What did you find?" he asked.
"The DNA comparison, what did you find?"
"Oh. Well a lot of the DNA didn't match but Makoto is doing a search with all the victims in Japan to narrow them down. We didn't find any DNA matching the hair we found on the blouse. Which I guess just means that he was just really good at covering his tracks."
Ken nodded and sighed deeply.
"And as far as the ABP goes, no one at the airport has identified him as an employee."
Ken narrowed his eyes. This case, or more correctly Jason Riley was beginning to work his last nerve. He absently pulled out his Crest and began to fiddle with it.
"So what were you working on?" Aneko asked, bringing Ken back to earth.
"I saw you at the concert tonight."
"You were there?"
"I'm a fan Ken, of course I was there."
Ken nodded, having a fleeting image of the twenty-seven year old screaming and dancing in the crowd.
"So I take it there is history between you two?" she went on.
"What makes you say that?" Ken asked sharply.
She shrugged evasively, "I saw your face when you saw her in your office that day. That and the way she asked for you."
Knowing he couldn't deny it, Ken nodded in confirmation. "That's what I was working on."
He turned his computer screen to face her.
"Oh, I see. You were doing research?"
"I was trying to find out more about her whereabouts over the past few years. That and her past."
Aneko nodded, "I have a tape of her, 'E! True Hollywood Story' if that helps at all."
Ken paused and mused, "True Hollywood, that's an oxymoron if I ever heard one."
Aneko gave a snort of laughter and then added, "But it's all factual and there are interview with her in it, about her past and present."
Ken's eyes seemed to light up; maybe this was exactly what he was looking for. "Thanks Aneko."
"You're welcome. I can go home now and get it for you if you want? I live around the corner."
"No, that's okay…"
"No, really, it's not a problem."
Ken smiled at her, she was very astute at reading people, him self included.
She stood up and walked out his office, "Anytime."
Mean while on the other side of the world, the CSI team in Los Angeles had gotten a call about a suspicious barrel down at the Peer.
Detective Johnson, a somewhat short, balding man with dull brown eyes accompanied his team of CSI down to the busy Peer, just a few miles away from Venice beach.
The team consisted of a man and a woman, both in their mid-to late thirties.
"Where did they say the barrel was?" the tall blond male asked.
His partner, a slim brunette with wire-framed glasses pointed ahead of them. "Near the Ferris wheel."
"Apparently," Detective Johnson added, "there were a few empty barrels near that Wheel and when one of the workers went to move them, he discovered one was not-so-empty."
"Do we know what's inside?" the female asked.
As they approached the barrel the male CSI took a deep breath and examined the barrel carefully before opening it.
They found no prints or anything else that would be useful in a crime scene so they eventually opened the container and were met with a foul sight and an even worse stench.
"Oh, body in a barrel." The woman gagged, "Didn't see that coming."
Her partner raised his eye-brow, "I hope you're being sarcastic, Natalie."
"Of course I am, Brian."
They both looked into the barrel and then up at each other.
"I'm thinking we should empty this back at the lab." Natalie commented and her partner nodded.
Almost an hour later, the barrel with the body inside had been transported to the LA crime lab and was now resting in the morgue.
The mortician, a twenty-something year old with a bob of short black hair and big brown eyes looked up at the CSI team as they entered the morgue.
"Was wondering when you were going to get here." She said, as they pulled on some gloves. Her voice was naturally gravely, as though she had smoked too many cigarettes.
"Got here as fast as we could, believe me." Brain replied and stepped closer the body, now lying on the steel table in front of them.
"So what can you tell us?" Natalie asked.
"Well, the body was pretty badly decomposed, so time of death is hard to tell."
Natalie folded her arms, "Hmm, decomp in a small confined space…"
"Always difficult to process." She finished for her. "Anyway, I put the victim's clothes on that table for you." She pointed to a near by table and then continued, "And I found something there that I don't think you'll like."
Brain's curiosity was peeked and he walked over to the table and picked up a name badge, which had a waxy coating on it, but he could still make out the name. His eyes widened and he looked up at Natalie and the mortician in disbelief.
"What?" Natalie asked as she walked over and looked at it too, nearly gasping.
"Cathy," Natalie said, looking at the mortician, "Does this mean…is that?"
"Can't be a hundred percent sure just yet. The name badge was loose in the barrel, not attached to the vic's clothes, so it might have fallen in there by accident."
"When do you think you'll know?" Brain asked.
"Well, the body's too far gone for DNA, so I'm going to boil up the skull and give it to you guys to reconstruct it. I'll let you know as soon as it's done."
"Thanks, Cathy." Natalie breathed, "I just hope to hell that that body is not Jason Riley's."
Ken found himself clicking one browser, then the other and then going back again. He had five windows open, all telling him pretty much the same things. What was the definition of insanity again? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
He removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes, hoping that the last of his sanity had stuck with him for the remainder of this ordeal.
He looked up when Aneko waltzed in, a video tape in her hand. She placed the black box on his desk and sat down in the chair opposite.
"Thank you Aneko."
She nodded, "I turned on the television in the AV room for you."
He nodded and stood up, "Excuse me."
She gestured for him to leave, so he picked up the tape and walked down the hall, turning left into a room filled with electrical equipment.
He pushed the tape into the VCR and sat down in front of the TV.
The typical setting for an, 'E! True Hollywood Story' filled the screen, and then the name, "Charlie Jane" in white on a black screen.
The opening was set to 'Youth of America' by the band, "Birdbrain". Ken wasn't a genius when it came to music, so the only way he knew this information was because Cat had mentioned it was one of her favorite songs.
And then, the voice over came:
"Fast cars, fast lane, fast sex, fast drugs, fast life, were the words Catrina Harris, or Charlie Jane as her fans know her, used to describe her life. That was of course before she cleaned up her act. Charlie Jane could describe her life as having three sections: Before high school, after high school and her life now.
Catrina was born in the Valley in Los Angeles, where she lived for two years before her parents; Charlie and Robert Harrison were transferred to New York for business. Catrina's parents were in Building Management Services and her father was Branch Manager, meaning that this was the first move of many for Catrina. Not only that but her father was heir to several large companies making them socialize in rich company.
Another two years later, the Harris family was again, uprooted and flown off to Japan where Catrina seemed to fit in well and even pick up the language easily. She started school at the age of five where she became more sociable, but her home life wasn't as sociable. Due to the fact that her parents worked long hours and socialized even longer hours and were hardly ever home, Catrina's nanny took care of her more often than not. After four years of living in Tokyo the family were transferred once more, this time to Switzerland, where they stayed just under a year before moving to Australia. There they spent three years when they were transferred back home to LA.
By the time Catrina was eleven years old, she had being to three schools, not including kindergarten and she was now being enrolled in junior high.
Catrina was a painfully shy girl, who began to feel as if there was no point at making friends because inevitably she would just have to leave them anyway. She was a smart child, excelling in her studies but not in her social habits."
At that moment Catrina filled the screen, she was sitting in an interview chair, her long blond hair over her shoulder. "I didn't know anyone at school and I was new and uncomfortable, but I adjusted to change rather quickly, so that didn't bother me all that much. The girls at the school didn't like me though. They thought I was a snob who was too smart for my own good." She shrugged, "I guess the fact that I was an A student and that I could speak three languages intimidated them."
"But when Catrina was thirteen, one of her teachers, Jason Riley took a huge interest in his student…and not for her academics. Jason Riley was a biology teacher who was in his early twenties, recently married to his girlfriend who had fallen pregnant. The baby was a year old when problems in their marriage became too much for Jason and he found himself engaging Catrina in conversation. He found her maturity fascinating and then told the thirteen-year-old Catrina that he was in love with her.
Catrina shook her head at herself and commented, "He was twenty-three, I was thirteen, did I honestly believe that he was in love with me? Stupidly, yes…"
The two had an affair for six months, no one suspecting anything but when Catrina found out she was pregnant with Riley's baby; everything took a turn for the worst.
Catrina informed Jason that was she pregnant and he was adamant that she get an abortion. She angrily told him that she wouldn't do it and threatened to tell his wife and the school board about the affair and the baby. Jason lost control of his temper and using a pair of scissors stabbed Catrina six times in the abdomen.
This time Catrina's mother filled the scene, "I remember the doctor coming out of the emergency room looking downcast and my stomach just sank. He told me there was some good news and some bad news. The good news was, Catrina would be okay, the bad news was that she lost the baby. I just shook my head and frowned at him 'What baby?' I said."
"The doctor informed Catrina's mother that she had being eight weeks pregnant but due to all the damage done to her uterus and ovaries, including the blood loss, the baby had being destroyed. Not only that, but it looked as if Catrina would never be able to have children again."
"When the doctors told Catrina that she had lost her baby, I remember her sobbing and sobbing and then turning to me and saying, 'I'm so sorry mom.' She looked so depressed, as if she had lost her best friend in the world. We asked her who the father had being and that's when the whole thing came out."
"Jason Riley was charged with attempted murder, statutory rape and resisting arrest. The court case went on for almost six months until finally Jason Riley pleaded temporary insanity and was sent to a state penitentiary and therapy.
But Catrina would never be the same. After the trial, she had done a complete turn around from her personality. She got a tattoo on her back, piercings; her hair dyed all sorts of strange and bizarre colours. She became more confident and began to mix with a rough crowd. A crowd that got her involved with drugs such as marijuana and cocaine and by the time Catrina was fourteen years old she had a serious cocaine problem.
"At that point," Catrina said running her hands through her long blond hair, "I'm not sure if my parents knew or not, maybe they just didn't want to know, you know? But one way or the other I just didn't care anymore."
Just before Catrina's fifteenth birthday, she was caught breaking and entering a liquor store with a few of her friends. Catrina was charged with breaking and entering, resisting arrest and possession of narcotics. She was sentenced to a state juvenile correction facility where she spent six months getting sober. But as soon as she was out, she was back to her old ways.
For the next two years Catrina was in and out of rehab until finally she had her parents convinced that she was sober.
"I was still taking cocaine, and only cocaine. When I wasn't on it, I was suicidal, I was just so depressed, so I tried to make sure I was never off it. My grades were good and steady and I was outwardly happy and my parents thought I had my life together. But I knew that I didn't, and I didn't really care. I just wanted to be left alone."
Before Cat turned eighteen, her parents were transferred once more to Japan and there, Cat's life changed forever. She was involved with a young genius who she fell in love with and says all of her songs were inspired by him and their relationship.
After an attack a couple days before her graduation, Catrina ran away from home and got on a plane to LA where she spent her days high as a kite.
But after a large wake up call Catrina decided to get her life back in order, so she booked herself into rehab for three months, vowing never to do another drug ever again. After she got out, she spent her time looking for work and ended up a waitress at a little café on Melrose. She had completely separated herself from her friends and had her own place. Eventually she became a barmaid and the night when an act hadn't shown up at the café, her manager asked her to sing.
Catrina was so popular that she had her own slot ever second Saturday until eventually Erica Messing offered her a recording contract.
"I didn't know what to think." Cat said folding her arms, "I mean I dreamt of something like this happening, but I never thought it would actually happen. At that point in my life singing actually made me sad, because it reminded me of my feelings for Ken. The only reason I was doing it was because it paid well and I needed to eat. But when I got that offer, I said yes, because I thought maybe singing would make me happy like it used to,"
If singing didn't make her happy, it sure made her fans happy. People instantly fell in love with her voice, they related to her lyrics and felt that she had a soothing effect on them. Her first album, "Winter tears" went to number one in two weeks with the single, "The Moth". Fame was instant and demand for Charlie Jane was everywhere.
"I was amazed at the response my music got. I had no idea it would be so popular."
Over the years, Catrina has not disappointed, all her albums went platinum, all her concerts were sold out but still Catrina was missing something. She never got over the break up between her and Ken.
Ken turned off the TV, not able to take anymore. He put his head in his hands and sighed heavily.
"You find what you were looking for?" Aneko asked as she entered the room.
"I think so. The whole time, she…"
"She loved you."
"I should have been there for her."
"How?" Aneko placed her hands on her hips. "You were married Ken, studying to be the best CSI in Japan, children…when would you have been there for her? Plus the fact that she didn't want you to be there."
Ken nodded and stood up, heading to the door.
"Ken." Aneko called out.
He turned to her.
"What you have with Yolei, it's good, don't...do anything stupid."
Ken hesitated before he nodded at her and walked out the door. Doing something stupid was exactly what he was about to do, but his whole life he had done the smart thing. It was time for a change.
"We have a face?" Brain asked as he entered the lab just as Natalie was setting down a pallet knife next to the rest of her sculpting tools.
She looked up grimly, "Sadly, we do, but it's the face we didn't want to see."
Brain drew his eyes to the sculpted clay face and sighed heavily, "I hate square one."
"It's not square one exactly." Natalie commented, "We know now for a fact that Jason Riley is not the one who's murdering these women."
"Meaning that our only suspect is ruled out on account that he was dead for a quarter of the killings." He looked hard at his partner, "But you're thinking he still relates to the crimes?"
She nodded, "Why would the person who is framing Jason kill him and leave his body where it could easily be discovered? Why not bury it?"
"He wants to be caught. All serial killers do, it's a compulsion."
"Or, he's making fun of us."
"Either way, we need to get this news to Japan, I'll go inform Johnson, so he can pass on the word."
Ken knocked twice on the white door of the apartment and safe house, wondering what he was doing, and wondering if it was the right thing. He waited patiently for a response, but when none came, he glanced down at his watch and saw that it was nearly three in the morning. That was one of the drawbacks of being on graveyard shift, when the sun was down, all sense of time vanished, it also meant a lot of over-time, since cases needed to be followed up during the day when the world was functional.
Thinking that she must be asleep, Ken turned, about to walk away when the door flew open to reveal Cat standing there, clutching her silky crimson dressing gown. Their eyes locked and they stood frozen for what felt like ten minutes, but in reality was little over ten seconds.
"You left earlier." She stated, as if picking up from a conversation that had being interrupted.
He nodded, "I didn't think it was right to see you."
"Is it right now?"
"I don't know."
She stepped aside to let him in and he hesitated as he put his foot over the threshold. However, once he was inside, he felt completely at home. She closed the door and leaned against it while he removed his shoes.
"Why did you come here?"
He didn't face her as he spoke, but rather looked out over the city, how the lights were still on in offices of buildings where he knew the only people to be working in them were security guards.
"I…I've dreamt of this moment since the day you ran away. I'm not going to lie to you. There wasn't a single day that I didn't think about you, that I didn't dream of seeing you again. But in those dreams, I wasn't married and I didn't have any children. There was only you and I."
"Now that it's happened, it's a disappointment." She finished for him. "It will never be like your dream."
Finally, he turned to her and she could see tears glistening in his big blue eyes, "All I want right now though is to hold you. To kiss you. To make you whole, Cat."
Tears crawled down her soft cheeks and over her lips, "And I want you to. That's all I have wanted for fourteen years! But we can't. I can't. I cannot do this again. Everything I touch…I make it black, I taint it, I destroy it." She burst into sobs and knelt down on the floor. "When I walked into your office and saw the picture of you and Yolei, a piece of me died inside."
Without a word, Ken crossed the room and scooped her up into his arms, walking toward the bedroom. She clutched onto him, burring her face in the crook of his neck.
"When you touched me…you shed light on who I was. You made me whole. If anything, you fixed me."
He laid her down gently on the sheets and brushed away her tears. He removed his coat and gun holster and lay down next to her. Gently he ran his fingers through her hair and stared at her.
"This feels right." He said softly and she nodded, feeling content.
"I saw your 'E! True Hollywood story'."
"You went through a lot. I mean, before Jason did what he did to you. It couldn't have been easy."
"My whole life I guess I was a loner. It made me strong and weak at the same time. I thought I could get by without anyone, but I was wrong."
He shifted and stroked her cheek. "I felt like that at one point too."
Her large brown eyes penetrated his blue ones and finally she spoke, "What's the hardest case you've ever had to work on?"
Ken took a deep breath and without hesitation replied, "The Ino case."
"Ino was a young CSI on my team. We had been working with her for three years. One night we got a call about a crime scene and when we got the address we all knew what we would find. But, seeing her body…nothing could have prepare us for that. Blunt force trauma. A lead pipe to the head was what killed her."
"Wasn't there a conflict of interest though?"
"Our detective thought there might be, but he also knew that we would stop at nothing to put the person responsible for doing this to our partner away. We would make sure we got the right person, no mistakes. And we did. It took about a week. I don't think I slept for more than five hours during that time. I couldn't let it go. She was young and pretty and just starting out in life. She was engaged and really talented as a CSI. And some jealous ex-boyfriend snuffed out her future in less than three seconds."
"Sounds like you took it personally."
"I guess you could say I did. That's why from then on, I tried not get too emotionally involved."
"But, this case…you can't help it…I'm sorry…"
He slipped his hand from her cheek, down to her shoulder and finally grasped her hand, "Cat, don't be…it's…"
"I want you to be in charge of my investigation." She stated.
"If Jason gets to me and he kills me -"
"Cat, he's not going to! We're making sure of that…"
"But if he does…I want it to be you. I trust you…I love you."
He stared at her, intensely, deeply, almost harshly but then his eyes softened and he gave in and nodded. "Okay."
"Thank you, Ken…for everything."
He smiled at her and watched as her eyes closed slowly. There was something celestial about her when she slept. It was as if she was the most honest and open when she was asleep. She was vulnerable, which made Ken hold her tightly in his arms, wanting to protect her forever, against everything. He wanted to bulletproof her soul, but he knew it was already too late for that. All the damage had being done. Now all he could do was heal the scar tissue.
Aneko looked up from her desk in the lab as Makoto walked in and sat next to her as she put her face close to the microscope again.
"Bad news." He stated.
She looked up once more and faced him. "What?"
"I just spoke to Miyazaki. He just found out from Detective Johnson that they found a body back in LA…guess whom it belonged to."
She tilted her head to the side, "Please tell me it's not who I think it is."
"Sorry. It's Jason's."
"Are they sure?"
"Pretty much." He looked closely at her, "Are you okay?"
"Just tired. It's being a long night."
He nodded, "I should call Ichijouji and tell him about this."
"Hasn't Miyazaki?" she questioned with a frown.
Makoto shook his head, "He said it was Ken's night off…first one in who knows how long and well, he said it could wait for tomorrow."
Aneko raised her eyebrow, "Regardless, Ken would want to know this now. I'll call him."
Makoto nodded and as he got up to leave the lab he turned back to her and smiled, "Latté for you?"
She sighed and nodded, "Please."
He opened his eyes and looked up into her face, "What's wrong?"
She hesitated, "Do you think things would have being different if I had stayed?"
He took a deep breath, held it for a while and then exhaled slowly, weighing his words before he spoke, "Cat, before I met you, the idea of taking drugs wasn't alien to me. I'd often wondered if I could take cocaine or something to get me back to the level I used be at. I would think of drinking to get drunk to take my mind off the way I was feeing sometimes."
"So I just helped you with that." She said bitterly.
"No, wait. The thing was, if I had done it, I would have kept it a secret from everyone and who knows where I would have ended up after that. By the time everyone found out, it would have being too late. So when I took it and you knew…it was like a controlled experiment, if you know what I mean. I know you told Davis and the others and by doing that you helped me get over the addiction so I could move past that phase in my life and get better. I can't say that if you had stayed things would have being different, but I do know that I probably wouldn't have married Yolei. I would have tried to help you get better, even if you wanted me around or not."
Cat looked away from him and closed her eyes, "I screwed up so badly. I threw everything away because I thought it would be better for you."
"Shh." He cooed and leaned forward to kiss her forehead. "It's okay…"
Instinctually he moved to kiss her lips. She held back a little and he hesitated. But at almost the same time they leaned in and began to kiss passionately, intensely. He placed his hands on her cheeks, on her body, on her back. She ran her fingers through his hair, down his chest, around his neck. There was no mistaking where this was going and at exactly the right moment Ken's cell phone rang.
He ignored it.
Still, it rang and finally Cat pulled back, "You should get that."
He looked into her eyes and then finally nodded, "Yeah…I should."
He slowly moved away from her and off the bed, picking up his coat and taking out his cell.
"Ken," Aneko's voice came through, "We have some new light on this case. You should get here as soon as possible."
"Okay," he glanced over at Cat and then added, "I'll be there in a few minutes."
He hung up and picked up his coat.
"You have to go." She stated.
He nodded as he began to button it up.
"Maybe it's better this way."
She watched as he slipped on his coat, made himself presentable and then stood up and walked to him, "I'm sorry…for putting you in this position."
He took her hand, "Don't be. I'm not sorry you came back into my life."
He leaned his head on her forehead and then turned to leave.
"I love you..." She whispered as he walked out the door.
"Jason Riley is dead?" Ken asked raising his eyebrows.
"We just found out." Makoto stated handing Ken the report from LA.
He read through it and huffed as he collapsed into his chair. "I can't believe this."
"Who would go to the trouble of framing Jason and then kill him?" Aneko inquired folding her arms.
Ken paused and then looked up at her. "Someone who hates him. Okay so what do we know so far?"
"Well," Makoto started, "We know that the narcotic used to sedate the women was from Riley's prescription, we have a paper trail from that. We know that he was going after blond women with brown eyes ranging from thirteen to thirty-two. We know that he was married with a child before he had the affair and went to prison. We know that he was released almost two years ago and that's when these murders started."
"We also know," Aneko added, "that the DNA we found on that blouse belonged to him but there is some DNA that we haven't identified that was found in the van. That DNA was probably from one of the victims though. I also did some digging and his wife killed herself about three years ago just after that 'True Hollywood story' was released. I guess she couldn't take the shame twice."
A sudden idea hit Ken and he looked sharply at Aneko, "Aneko did you run a comparison on that DNA we found with Riley's?"
"Well, yes, but it didn't match. It was similar though…" she blanched slightly.
"Similar, like a relative's DNA?"
She nodded, "But Riley had a son and he was just a baby."
"Back then he was a baby. Now he must be about twenty-years old."
"Oh my God." Aneko gasped, "How could I have been so stupid?"
Each of them stood up and went off in different directions, Ken off to search for any information on Jason Riley's son, Aneko to do more DNA work and Makoto to inform their detective so he could pass on the word to Detective Johnson in LA.
Ken made it his priority to call Cat first though and inform her of this development. There was no answer at her apartment, which made him worry until he figured that she must be asleep since it was so late. After hanging up the phone, he rushed off to get to work, not even noticing that his gun was missing. He had left it at her apartment when he took his coat off.
Cat moved to her closet and pulled out a pair of tight blue jeans, a silky pink top and a black jacket. She began to dress and then, lastly slipped on her black boots. She opened the door and looked up and down the hall, checking to see if there were any cops who would stop her from leaving her safe house. She couldn't explain it she just needed to get out of that apartment. The smell of Ken still lingered on the air and she couldn't take it anymore.
She hailed a taxi and when one pulled up, she climbed in the back, tears in her eyes and said, "Take me to a bar."
"Which one?" the driver asked.
"I don't care. Any bar."
He nodded and pulled away.
She ran her hands through her hair and stared out the window as the lampposts flashed passed.
Had she made the wrong choice in leaving Ken? Had she stayed, would they have gotten back together and would she have gotten sober? She felt sick at the answer and knew that it was 'yes'. He had saved her anyway; he just hadn't done it in person. Maybe she was wrong but who could really say. It all seemed so pointless now. She had all her dreams of being a singer come true, but all she ever wanted was to be loved the way that Ken had loved her, to be touched the way he had touched her, to be whole, the way he made her feel whole. She knew now that it could never be like she wanted it to be, that things would never change.
The taxi driver pulled over and she got out the car and walked straight into the bar, sitting at the counter.
A good-looking man with dark hair and vivid green eyes smiled at her and asked what he could get her.
She hesitated and ran her hands through her hair again, looking at all the poison in front of her.
"Give me…give me a vodka, straight."
He nodded, poured her drink and placed it in front of her.
She paid and then stared at the clear liquid for almost five minutes before finally, picking it up slowly and bringing it to her lips.
"Just another form of drug." She muttered and then tossed it back.
It burned all the way down her throat as if in punishment and she looked to the barmen and indicated for him to bring another one. He nodded and complied but just then a handsome young man around twenty sat down next to her.
He had black hair and deep brown eyes. He was roughly the same height as she was.
"This one's on me." He stated to the barman.
She turned to him, "No, thanks." She said softly, "Besides, you're too young for me."
He laughed, "I was just trying to be kind. Looks like you've had a rough day."
She looked away from him and sighed, "Yeah…"
"Want to talk about it?" he asked genuinely sounding sympathetic, but while her head was turned, he sprinkled some fine white powder into her drink and swiveled it around.
"Not really." She stated and picked up her drink, finally facing him again and then downing it.
He looked at the barmen and indicated 'two more'.
"I shouldn't." she muttered but with no real conviction.
"You look like you've lost someone you love." He stated looking into her face.
"I threw away any happiness I could have had." She sipped on her drink but felt her head swim and her body become heavy. She tried to stand up but stumbled.
"Are you okay?" he asked
"I don't feel so good…" she said frowning and trying to walk.
"Here, I'll guide you to the bathroom." He grabbed her arm and led her toward the bathrooms and the staff entrance at the back of the bar.
When he took her through the kitchen area toward the door through the back she looked around and frowned, "This isn't the bathroom…"
"I thought you might want some fresh air." He looked to some curious staff members and said softly, "She's not feeling well, a little too much to drink, she stumbled in here. Sorry."
Once they were outside in the alley he threw Cat away from him, causing her to stumbled and fall to her knees. She looked up at him in alarm and confusion, but he wasn't done yet. He moved back to her, roughly grabbed her arm and yanked her to her feet, pulling her staggering body to a van parked at the end of the ally. He opened the doors as she tried to wriggle free of his grip but the drug was making her slow and stupid. He tossed her into the back of the van and climbed in after her, slamming the doors shut behind him.
"I despise you." He stated.
"I've being planning this for almost five years now, since I saw that 'True Hollywood story' of you! It made me sick and it drove my mother into an even worse depression."
"She killed herself because of you!" he yelled. "You know what got me though? Was the fact that everyone thought of you as the victim in all this!"
"What are you talking about…?" she mumbled.
He bent down so he was right in front of her, "I am Alexander Riley…Jason Riley's son. You ruined my entire life you slut and you are finally going to pay for it."
A horrible look of comprehension came over her face and she tried to move backward, but her whole body felt paralyzed.
"I've hated you my entire life, but I never knew what you looked like or what your name was and then one day, this story comes on the TV and I see the look of horror on my mother's face and all I had to do was listen and I found out everything about you. Here you are this rich little brat, while my mom and I are struggling to get by. And then she killed herself because of all the things people were saying about her and to her and the way they were looking at her. She thought it was her fault that my father had an affair, but it was yours! You broke up my family and then moved on. And you're doing it again with that detective and it makes me sick."
He leaned forward and hit her across the face and something snapped inside her. She looked up at him with a bitter expression.
"Your mother fell pregnant with you before your parents were married. Jason felt he had to marry her but they didn't really love each other. That's why he went looking somewhere else." She spat at him, "He used me and I let him because I thought I loved him. I had no intention of ruining anyone's life."
"Liar!" he burst out and hit her again.
"You think killing me is going to change that fact? We live by the speed of the choices that we make Alexander. They may not be good choices sometimes but that's the way life is. You killing all those girls and me…that's your choice, no one forced you to do this…"
"You did! You need to be punished!"
"Oh for God's sake you stupid little prick! Then kill me and only me! Do you have any idea how many lives you ruined when you killed all those girls? Lovers, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends, anyone connected to that person was affected by you killing them. You selfish little brat. They had nothing to do with any of this. Why not come after me and only me huh?"
He stood back, "All women are the same."
"I watched them. I studied them. They all had their dirty little secrets. All of them, they are all just as bad as each other."
"So, what? You played God and ended their lives?" she narrowed her eyes at him, "You're disgusting. At least I could admit when I was doing something wrong, but you…? You think you're doing the right thing."
"Shut up you stupid little bitch!"
"I'm not a complete idiot, you know." She slowly moved her hand behind her back, feeling a lot stronger now. Her head was feeling a lot clearer too. "I guess you didn't use as much sedative on me since you wanted to keep me awake for your explanation."
Before he could react, she pulled out a gun from her bag and aimed it at him, shooting but only catching his shoulder.
He yelled out in pain and ran forward at her, pulling out the pair of scissors as he did. She fired again, but missed all together. The bullet went through the door of the van.
He landed on top of her and began to stab her over and over again in the torso. She cried out and fired off another shot, this time at close range, right into his gut. He gasped and fell backward, clutching the oozing wound.
She tried to crawl toward the door of the van but her world was going fuzzy once more and she only just saw the door burst open, staff looking into the crime scene with shock and horror and someone yelling, "Call an ambulance!"
She felt her body relax, become numb and finally she fell to the side and closed her eyes.
"Ken," Detective Miyazaki said gently and placed a hand up in front of him. "I don't think you should cover this crime scene."
Ken frowned deeply and saw the paramedics wheel a young man away in a stretcher. His eyes widened when he saw who it was and he turned back to the detective.
"I have to."
He sighed and stepped aside to let Ken, Aneko and Makoto through.
Ken almost rushed forward to the scene and froze when the sight hit his eyes.
The back of the van was dark but he could still see Cat lying on her side, one arm draped over her body, lying in a pool of her own blood. She was covered in it.
Quickly he turned away and put a hand over his mouth, trying to stay composed.
"Ken," Aneko said gently and put a hand on his shoulder, "We can send another team."
He shook his head, not making eye contact with her, "Cat wanted me to do it…she asked me and I promised."
"I'm sure she would understand if you didn't do it…"
"I have to do it." He sighed and she knew that he meant that he needed to do it.
The team all gathered around Cat's body, collecting evidence, taking pictures and analyzing the scene. Ken knelt down close to her and stared at her face, unmoving. Her once passionate, intense brown eyes were closed forever.
The scene moved in slow motion, the evidence collected, the body placed in a bag, the trip back to the station.
Ken walked down the empty hall and into his office, closing the door behind him. He tried to make it to his desk but couldn't and fell to his knees. He broke down in sobs, anger and rage.
For hours, he lay on his floor, staring at the ceiling, unable to move, not sure what to do with himself, or where to go.
The door opened, waking him from his stupor and Aneko walked in somberly. "Miyako phoned, looking for you. I told her what had happened…I thought it would be best."
Ken nodded and slowly stood up, "Thank you Aneko."
She nodded and closed the door.
Ken's hand rested on the handle of his front door, as he contemplated entering the apartment. He had almost forgotten the argument he and his wife had had the night before. It was early morning now, the sun had just come up and he knew that Miyako would be awake.
As if she had sensed him there, Miyako opened the door and for a moment husband and wife stared at each other, as if they were strangers who had met once before and were trying to place when.
Miyako stepped aside and said quietly, "Aneko told me what happened."
As Ken entered and removed his shoes, he nodded in response.
She hesitated before speaking again. "I, I'm sorry…"
Ken shook his head and said nothing.
"Ken," she spoke gently, almost as if she were afraid of setting him off or saying the wrong thing, "after you left last night I sat up the whole night thinking of what I had said and I'm so sorry. I know that your relationship with Cat was…special. I know that I could never come close to her, or that we could never have what you two had. It's different what we have. And, I know that you went to her last night…"
Ken turned to her about to explain but she cut him off.
"And it's okay. If you slept with her…I forgive you. I know that you still love her and you will always love her."
Ken stared at his wife, his eyes filling with emotion. He slowly walked toward her and wrapped his arms around her. He buried his head in the crook of her neck and whispered, "Miyako…we never slept together…but I'm not going to lie to you…we may as well have. You're right, I never stopped loving her, but you filled a huge hole in me and I will always love you for that." He pulled away and placed his hands on her cheeks, looking into her eyes, "You're the most wonderful, beautiful, dedicated woman in the world and I'm so sorry that I…that I never gave myself to you fully."
Miyako's brown eyes filled with tears and she pulled him close to kiss his lips. He desperately kissed her back and then pulled her into an embrace once more, finally bursting into tears. She held him tightly and rubbed his back, letting him mourn his loss.
"We got a full confession from Alexander Riley." Aneko announced as she entered the conference room at the station.
Ken looked up, "He gave it to you while he was in the hospital?"
She nodded, "I guess he figures if he confesses the court will be lenient with him."
Ken snorted angrily, "If he doesn't get life, I'll kill him myself."
Makoto turned to Ken sharply, "You don't mean that."
Ken stared at him hard, "…Yeah, you're right."
"Anyway," Aneko interjected, "He said that he kidnapped his father a week or so after he was released. Kept him alive so he could take DNA from him and plant it on the victims. When he went off to Japan, he had to kill Jason."
"Why didn't he bury him?" Makoto asked, "Why stuff him in a barrel?"
"I asked that. He just said that it was all part of the game."
"So he was messing with us." Ken stated bitterly.
She nodded, "He was a forensics major. He was studying crime scene investigation as well as psychology."
Ken huffed, closed his eyes and shook his head.
"After his mother killed herself," Aneko went on, "he planned this whole thing. Apparently he saw Catrina and his father as responsible for every bad thing that happened in his life. Sick kid."
Ken nodded and stood up, "Good work guys."
"Where are you going?" Makoto asked.
"I have a plane to catch."
The sun's rays pierced any clouds that hung above the graveyard, like arrows heading for the ground. It was a warm day, with the threat of rain. Ken, along with her parents, were the first to arrive at the funeral.
Flowers surrounded the open casket, but Ken was heartbroken to see that not a single one was her favorite.
"My favorite flower? The Arum Lilly. Everyone calls it the death flower but I think it's beautiful, simple but stunning."
People began to arrive and take their seats. After a while, Ken noticed that there had to be over a hundred people there. Most of the people were people she worked with, friends, family and fans.
He looked down at her. If one didn't know better, they would think she was asleep but Ken knew that she looked more peaceful when she slept. Now, she just looked lifeless to him, which she was.
People got up and spoke but Ken hardly heard what they were saying. The whole day was a blur, moving too fast and then far too slow all at once.
Charlie, Cat's mother, moved closer to Ken, jarring him from his musings and asked him if he would like to say something.
He hesitated and then nodded.
He stood up and looked around at the crowd. "Most of you knew, Charlie Jane. Some of you knew Catrina Harris. I think I knew both of them. I met Cat when she was seventeen. She had moved into the same apartment as mine and somehow burst into my life. It was strange, as if we had known each other all our lives and we were just going through another day. I was comfortable around her and I just knew there was something very special about her. But after a while I came to find that there were many things that she didn't like about herself just like there were things about me that I didn't like. We taught each other to embrace life, to live with whom we are and if we didn't like something, to change it. But we loved each other not in spite of our flaws, but because of them. There wasn't a day that I didn't think of her or wondered what she was doing or how she was doing. She was a beautiful, kind, fiery spirit who obviously touched many lives. I'm glad to know that she will live on inside all of us, in our memories and in her music."
He looked around again and saw quite a number of people crying quietly, then sat down.
"No body knows me like you, Ken. It's like I can't hide anything from you anymore. It's like I don't want to hide anything from you."
After the ceremony was over with and they had thrown the last of the dirt on the grave, Ken saw that he was the last one there. He stood staring at her tombstone, reading it over and over again.
Finally, he began to walk to his rented car and saw her parents standing by it.
"Your words were beautiful. Thank you." Charlie said softly, "She spoke of you often. Said how much of an inspiration you were to her. You reached her in a way we never could have."
Ken tried to smile and nodded.
"She left this for you. In her Will." Her father handed Ken a wooden box about the size of a shoebox.
They gave him a smile and turned to leave.
In his hotel room, Ken sat down with the box on his lap and slowly opened it. Inside was a small creased and folded photograph of him. The one she had carried with her and the same one that had saved her life. Under that was a picture in a silver frame with the two of them in it. She was sitting on his lap, her head resting on his chest. They both looked the happiest they had ever being. He set it aside and looked in the box again. He pulled out a notebook and flipped through it. It was filled with her thoughts, feelings and songs; her journal.
Then finally he picked up a videotape and a CD and noticed a letter from her at the bottom.
If you are reading this, well, I didn't make it.
I want you to know that I didn't leave you because I wanted to, but I felt that I had to, so you could live the life you deserved. You kept me alive every single day and you saved my life.
I lied when I said I didn't love you. I did. With all my heart and soul and I never stopped. I'm sorry that I hurt you.
I've written this letter in hopes that I will see you again. When I found out my life was in danger the first thing that came to mind was not a fear of dying, but the fear of never seeing you again.
The video and CD are of a song that I wrote and recorded for you. All of my songs were about you or us, but this song I wrote when I was feeling the happiest in my life. When I was with you. I never sold it because I wanted it to belong to you before it belonged to the world.
Thank you, for being you and for making me whole.
Ken pushed the tape into the VCR he had hired from the hotel and turned the TV on, trying to prepare himself for seeing her one last time.
His heart filled up his throat as tears prickled the corners of his eyes. She looked happy and beautiful, her blond hair shinning in sunlight, her brown eyes sparkling with emotion.
Somehow though, through his tears, she had managed to make Ken smile and he knew, from now on, things would be okay. He would see her again some day but for now, he had a family who loved him and who he loved, he could finally move on.
Well that was a labor of love. Sorry for making you wait so long for it. This last chapter I had to be happy with and now I am. At first I hated it, so I left it alone for a long, long time. Then I came back to it and looked at it with fresh eyes, fixed and tweaked the things that needed to be and now I'm happy with it. I'm sorry to end it the way I ended it, it's very sad, but it's how I planned it all along (yes, even from the first chapter).
I am thinking of writing a sequel to this, an AU if you like. A 'What if' type of thing, but I doubt I will write it in story form. I am adapting this story to a screenplay and I have to say it's really looking good. So if I do, it will be in the form of a screenplay.
I hope you all enjoyed the last chapter of this story and thank you for going on this journey with me. You have been dedicated fans and I really appreciate that.
There are a couple of small things that were left out and unexplained in this last chapter simply because their explanation did not fit with it. They seemed to mess up the rhythm of the chapter. So I left them out. If you want to know things like, where Cat got the design for her tattoo (the upside down Crest of Kindness), you can find out in a an entry in my journal. And with this, I retire.)