Author's Note: This was my Ficathon entry for livejournal, on the LXG fan fiction community. Took me quite a while to write, and I've decided to put it on here, but staggered. It measured in at seventeen A4 pages when finished, so it won't be that long, but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless… I'm even contemplating continuing this as a series. Anyway; let me know what you think. This story also has its own page on my website, in case you're curious as to 'casting', etc.
Stepping down from the horse drawn carriage, the boots landed firmly and confidently on the solid streets of New York City, pausing for a moment as the man gazed around him, before he strode to confirm with the driver that their fee had been paid. The second passenger was not long in following, practically bounding energetically from the transport, gazing here and there with an optimistic smile and a light in his eyes.
The driver tipped his hat in farewell, and he and his four horses were soon on their way, leaving the two men amidst a somewhat bustling Tuesday afternoon crowd, who eyed them only briefly before remembering their daily affairs and appointments. They had travelled by carriage for days, sent from Washington on government business. Not long in the field, the two young Americans were bright, intelligent and fresh, admiring New York for a few more moments.
"Driver said our hotel's just across the street there," said the first, pointing casually with his left hand. He was undoubtedly the taller of the two, with a fairer appearance. Also younger than his companion by a couple of years, he had blonde locks of shaggy hair that tumbled freely around his boyish face, ending at the brow, ears and middle of his neck respectively. Set under a light brow were keen eyes, green in colour with subtle flecks of hazel. The young man was smart, with a planning mind, and his gaze bore the evidence of that. Special Agent Thomas 'Tom' Sawyer looked to his companion in query.
Being the shorter of the two, the second man had to turn his gaze upward, brown, soothing eyes intent and intelligent. He had dark, almost mahogany hair to match, which fell lazily about his brow. It ticked his ears and neck, but lacked the casual curl of his blonde companion's hair. The older of the two, the only evidence was in the subtle lines of his face, and the sometimes sharp edge to either his voice or his eyes. He was handsome, like his fellow traveller, but his attraction was somewhat more mature. His face was youthful yet not so boyish. Special Agent Huckleberry 'Huck' Finn nodded laconically. "We'd best get checked in."
The two agents of the American Secret Service were dressed in similar attire; Sawyer and Finn both in dark pants – the former in grey, and the latter in black – with white shirts tucked in somewhat hastily at the waist, in the manner of reluctant schoolboys almost. Black, tough boots covered their feet. Sawyer wore a black, unbuttoned waistcoat over his shirt, and suspenders hung down the sides of his pants, unused. Finn's were over his shoulders and he lacked the over-jacket. Topping off their 'uniforms' were dark ankle-length cloth jackets, and broad-peaked black hats.
Over their shoulders were large travelling satchels filled with the essentials – including things like files and notebooks. Hidden in the long bags were their larger weapons, whereas the small, regulation six-shooters were holstered on the bodies. Finn's were at his hips, and Sawyer's were at his waist, hung in a kind of gunslinger harness.
They strode in unison towards their hotel, similarly-strategic minds going over what their superiors had told them of their assignment here in the city. There was promise of adventure and action; the threat of danger. There was already a mystery.
Sawyer and Finn had come to solve a murder case.
Tom Sawyer leaned back against the wall near the window overlooking the now-quieting street, and chewed pensively on an apple. They had had some simple food sent up to them, too eager to get underway to bother with any heavy meals. Huck Finn lay on his back on the bed, feet – minus boots obviously; they were rebellious but not rude after all – up against the top of the head board as he hummed, a newspaper over his face, eyes scanning the words printed there.
Tom shifted in his position, one foot up flat against the wall behind him as he thought, turning his apple over and around in his hand before he subconsciously bit into it again. He stared down at the 'witness' accounts again, sighed quietly, and swallowed, before saying, "I don't know about you, but it seems to me that nobody's seen much of anything." Shrugging, he glanced to Huck, whose eyes never left the articles. "I mean… I can understand that's why they ain't caught him yet but… five murders and nobody's seen a thing!" Shaking his head, he furrowed his brow and added darkly, "Just don't seem right to me."
"Well of course it don't," laughed Huck gently from his place of contemplation. "Why, if it weren't a mystery, we wouldn't be here, now, would we, Tom?" A cheeky smile flashed for a moment in which Tom rolled his eyes with his own smirk. Huck was always one to put a spin on things like that; making something out of nothing.
Huck rolled over on the mattress, hearing it creak slightly under his rather light weight, and sighed, sitting up as he asked curiously, "So… run it by me. What exactly do we know?" He held the newspaper loosely in one hand, ensuring the pages didn't tumble all over the floor in a mess.
"Okay," Tom began carefully, moving away from the wall with a light shove of his boot and starting to pace, as was a habit when pensive. "We've got five murders. Three women; two men. All under the age of forty, and with no particular pattern. The victims weren't rich enough for them to be killed for profit. There've been no eye witnesses, only the people who discovered the bodies, all of which have had their throats practically torn away, with severe blood loss." He paused for a moment, hand running over his jaw and up and down his face for a moment, before he continued, "Murderer could be either male or female, relating to the mixture of victims, and we're not even certain what kind of weapon was used in the killings."
"Exactly," Huck concurred.
"And in fact," Tom added abruptly, turning around and pointing with the file in his hand, now closed, "on three occasions, the medical examiner has stated that the wounds may have even been inflicted by some kind of wild animal, they were so feral."
Huck pointed back with the hand absent of the daily newspaper and chuckled lightly. "Now you're talkin'!"
"So the question now is…"
"What's the plan of action?" Huck nodded thoughtfully, and furrowed his brow as he mumbled to himself, taking to pacing the room as well, weaving in and out of the two beds as if in a maze, before he turned back to Tom. "Not much for it but to get out there and investigate first hand." He waved his finished newspaper lightly in the air. "There's only so much we're gonna learn from clippings and reports, right?"
Tom nodded, and listened as the older spy continued, "We'll speak with the local police, and see what we can get outta them, and if that's no good, then we'll head to the medical examiner and see what we can find out there. Tryin' to track down some of the witnesses wouldn't be a bad idea, either."
Again, there was a sharp movement of Tom's head that showed he approved of Huck's logic, something that was ever-advancing in their work. Tom had always been the thinker and planner as a child, whereas Huck had followed his lead; now that they were older, they shared the responsibility. Huck tended to take the lead more often than not, and Tom had no qualms with that. He was all for giving him the respect and position he deserved as the oldest.
"Right," Tom began, "so… shall we?"
Huck flashed him an eager grin, and grabbed his boots, tossing the newspaper onto the bed to prepare. Tom chuckled, and followed his example.
The streets of New York weren't altogether unwelcoming, but there was a certain awkward air about the city that made the two southern spies a little… uncomfortable. It showed in their movements, and they hoped they didn't look too out of place. They had just come from the police station around the corner, where they had discovered little more than they already knew. They had been told the locations of the murders, pinpointed; in the reports they had been given, place names and positions had been vague, so they were thankful for that at least.
Heading to the medical examiner's – and hoping he was still available; it was nearing nine – the two were quiet. Their hats were angled on their heads slightly to cast somewhat mysterious shadows across their faces, and both looked equally pensive. Huck strode beside his best friend, and cocked his head slightly, brows furrowing as he mused.
They don't seem to have any clue as to who's doin' this either… which isn't comforting at all. Thought they might have had some suspicions by now; if only one or two. Unless they're not telling us… which could very well be the case. With a frown, he sighed quietly. Damn.
He and Tom were both as silent as one another, and looked to their respective sides to their companion frequently, as if trying to fathom what was being considered in the mind. Huck knew very well that Tom Sawyer had a very strategic mind, and he was probably already trying to sort through plans of action. On top of that, Tom had a mind for mystery.
Solvin' a crime at seventeen will do that for a man, I s'pose, he thought to himself. Huck sighed lightly. He had never been much of a thinker, but he liked to think he had a good head on his shoulders regardless of that. He knew what he was doing, and just when and how to do a great many things… but thinking things through really was the younger spy's area. Huck supposed he was fine with that. There wasn't anything particularly wrong with backing down to Tom's instinctual awareness, as it were, but Huck did wish that sometimes he could make the plans. It had always somehow made him feel younger than Tom.
It didn't take them long to reach the office and workplace of the medical examiner, and they knocked lightly on the door. The hour was pushing on, and they didn't mean to be a bother, but with a murderer on the loose, there really wasn't any time to be wasted, they knew. If it meant being forward and even a little rude, then that was the price they would have to pay.
They waited at that doorstep, hands in their pockets, and Huck supposed the two of them must have looked quite shady… rather mysterious; dressed mostly in black, and knocking on this door at such a late time. Shrugging lightly and almost unnoticeably under his jacket, he turned his head as the door unlocked and opened somewhat for a voice to call through, "Who's there?"
"Agents Finn and Sawyer, sir. We're here in New York investigating the recent murders," Huck responded in the most official voice he could muster. Tom was silent and pensive by his side.
The man waited, light eyes peering at them through the gap in the door. Huck rolled his eyes discreetly, and shoved his hand into his inner pocket carefully, nodding to Tom for him to do the same. Together, the young men withdrew official badges of their positions and showed them to the medical examiner, who seemed to quirk a brow curiously, before he opened the door all the way.
"You'll have to excuse me if I seem paranoid," he laughed nervously, and waved for them to enter. "Had a lot of suspicion goin' around this area recently; I'm sure you understand."
The two agents entered one after the other, drawing their hats from their heads and giving them to the man as he offered to take them, and hang them by the door. They kept their jackets though, somehow comforted by the mild warmth they supplied. As one, they followed the man as he continued to speak, "So, police finally realised they haven't got the facilities to solve this one themselves, have they?"
Huck smiled wryly, and mumbled, "Somethin' like that." Clearing his throat, he persisted, "So, Mr. Lancaster… you worked on all five… victims?"
The medical examiner, one Sebastian Lancaster, nodded vehemently, his greying hair barely moving an inch atop his head. He turned his head to them as he walked, obviously leading them to his workspace as he replied, "Yes, yes, I did. Nasty business." Shaking his head, he sighed sorrowfully and grimaced slightly. "New method, this one, from the looks of it. Never quite seen anythin' like it."
Tom and Huck looked to one another with furrowed brows, even as Lancaster pushed open the doors to his morgue. The smell of chemicals hit the two spies at once, but they forced back the expressions that attested to such a fact, and swallowed their disgust, striding as confidently as they could behind the doctor. There were medical tables, much like metallic beds, lined up near the walls. Some of these were covered in neat white sheets, no doubt covering the bodies of the recently deceased. Huck took in as deep a breath as he dared wit h the smell, and braced himself for what they would undoubtedly see.
Lancaster looked to them. "Don't think you two will have seen anythin' quite like this before… might wanna brace yourselves." Seeing their gazes, he quickly added, "Just saying. Don't say I didn't warn you."
With that, he pulled back the sheet on one of the bodies, revealing a form so pale they were almost blending with the very cloth that covered them. It was a man, the first of the five victims, they knew, recognisable from the reports they had been given. With dark hair and eyes – though these were closed now – he had been a man of some thirty years, working at a local merchant's, doing nothing more than menial labour. He had earned little in the way of money, and therefore had been an odd candidate for attack. More often than not, it was the wealthy who were set upon for monetary value. Perhaps that was why these poor people had been killed. He was bare of clothing, for medical purposes, but Lancaster kept the sheet up from the waist down, so that it covered everything below the torso. They could clearly see the fatal wounds in the neck… they were impossible to miss. Ghastly tearing showed how the man had died, and Huck swallowed dryly, glancing once to a rather quiet and disgusted-looking Tom, before meeting Lancaster's gaze. "How much blood did he lose?" he asked quietly, as though he would offend with too much volume.
"All five victims were nigh on exsanguinated, Agent Finn," Lancaster responded sincerely and gravely. "What little blood was left in the body… was nearly undetectable." Lancaster shook his head grimly. "The worst one was the young girl, the most recent of the victims. But we found that her wounds weren't as unsightly as the others'."
Huck had been grimacing at the blood loss, before this last fact intrigued both his partner and himself. They turned their gazes to the medical examiner, and he led them to another table after covering the man's body. He peeled back the sheet slightly to reveal the head, neck and shoulders of a woman no older than the two agents themselves. Her black hair fell back against the table like a funeral shroud, and her complexion was ghostly. But Lancaster was right… the wounds to her neck were far smaller and neater. If anything, they were closer to animal bites than a knife or something of the sort. Huck furrowed his brow.
"Have attacks from wild animals been ruled out yet?" he asked curiously, to which Lancaster nodded.
"Yes, Agent Finn, sir," he confirmed. "That was our first suspicion. We spoke with everyone necessary to rule that out, and nothing capable of such savage injuries has been reported. This is the work of a very particular kind of creature."
"A man," Tom murmured then, and it was rather darkly that he did so, looking to Huck and Lancaster from his place further towards the end of the 'bed'.
Lancaster nodded, but there was a kind of ominous air to it that made Huck uncomfortable. "Yes," the doctor mumbled in response. "A man… or some kind of devil…"
Back at their hotel, Huck and Tom were still awake, though they knew they should get some sleep soon, if only a little. It was nearing two now. Huck kept playing with his pocket watch as he thought. Tom sat at the small desk near the window, head in his hands as he stared down at the reports again. All the words were starting to blend together annoyingly, and he gave a grumble and a yawn.
"You should get some sleep," Huck observed from the bed where he was seated, cross-legged, on his blankets, looking through the paperwork Lancaster had been kind enough to loan to them. He had claimed to have it all copied audibly to phonograph, so the papers were available to them for study for a while.
"I'm fine," Tom mumbled in response. His muscles were getting a little stiff though, he noticed, and he moved his shoulders awkwardly, hearing one crack. He winced, and stood from the chair. "This is so frustrating," he murmured, rubbing his eyes as he stared out of the window, over the rooftops of their corner of New York.
Seeing his partner's reflection in the mirror, he noticed Huck's nod as he snapped the somewhat scuffed silver pocket watch shut and slipped it into his pants' pocket. "Tom, get some rest. C'mon… we're not gettin' anywhere like this. We were travelling for a long time, and we're both tired. Go to bed." Huck wore a friendly and slanted smile as he spoke, which Tom turned to see, putting one hand in his own pocket as he observed his partner.
"Fine," he mumbled, and yawned again, gazing out of the window again. Narrowing his eyes for a moment, he switched off the lamp on the desk, before turning away, saying impassively, "Didn't know there were bats in New York…"
To Be Continued…