Category: gen, h/c, casefile
Beta: Wish I had one, but I don't. All the grammar mishaps and misspellings are my own. Feel free to point out if I butchered the English language too badly.
Feedback: All comments are appreciated. Flame if you must, I have heard it all.
Warnings: violence, darkfic, drug use, language
Disclaimer: It's their universe, not mine.
Summary: A serial killer, zocchihedra, a missing girl, Zorro references, Terry's ex-husband, fairy tales, riddles, elderberry wine and a golden ball. GEN, WIP.
Author's Notes: As with fic written for any show which is still shooting episodes, everything is bound to be blown out of the water by the next episode. Anyways, this story is set in season 1. I have not managed to see all the episodes, but I tried to read up on the missing ones as much as possible. Anything scientific, mathematical, historical, medical, legal and procedural is researched to the best of my abilities. But since an armchair degree doesn't replace actual knowledge and experience, let me know if I have made any glaring errors.
December 24, 2005
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles
Alan Eppes blindly selected a bouquet of flowers from the small selection at the hospital's gift shop. In the last minute, it had occurred to him that he should bring something, anything. The flowers were thoughtless and cheap, they had definitely seen better days, but after all, it was the thought that counted. Alan paid and headed past the gigantic Christmas tree towards the elevator. He shouldn't be here today, he thought. He should be home with his sons. But there weren't there, not anymore. He couldn't stand the big empty house, so he had come here. He had thought about volunteering at the shelter on short notice, he was sure they could use someone over the holidays, but it felt wrong spending Christmas with strangers. He chided himself for the thought, the people who came to the shelter were alone as well, they had no one to spend the holidays with either, but he didn't feel he could help others when he was struggling with his own grief. For a moment, he wondered whether it had even been a good idea to come here, maybe it would make everything worse; maybe she didn't even want to see him. After all, his son...But now he was here. Before his doubts could take hold, he stepped into the elevator and pressed the button for the sixth floor.
The nurses' station on the sixth floor was decorated with a miniature Christmas tree, complete with tinsel. Margaret had loved tinsel. Christmas had never been the same since his wife had died, but he had never imagined spending it without his sons.
He walked the corridors until he approached room 608. A uniformed police man sat in a chair next to the door. When Alan approached, he looked up, and then he nodded.
Alan knocked, but didn't wait for a reply.
He entered and closed the door softly behind himself.
There were two beds in the room, but only one was occupied. Terry was lying on her side, face to the window. Alan carefully stepped closer, not sure whether she was sleeping or not.
"Agent Lake?" He asked in a low voice.
He got no reply, but the rustling of fabric told him that Terry was awake. He stepped around the bed, ready to leave if Terry made it clear that she didn't want to see him.
Terry didn't move when he approached her. She stayed frozen, legs pulled up to her body, staring motionless out of the window into the grey December sky. She seemed unnaturally pale, her complexion bringing out the colourful bruises on her face and neck even more. One eye was still almost swollen shut and bandage ran from the side of her forehead, down her left temple, disappearing into her hair. Her eyes were reddened, looking like she had cried. She had her arms wrapped around herself, her right arm encased in a pink Fiberglas cast.
Not sure what to do, Alan cast around for a vase to put in his flower, only to discover that his bouquet by far was not the only one, but was overshadowed by far fresher looking flowers. The table in the room sported several vases full of flowers, along with cards, most likely from her fellow agents at the field office. Alan moved to the sink, where he had spotted a vase and took care of his flowers. Torn between leaving and staying, he decided to quietly leave since Terry didn't seem to be in the mood for company, at least not for his company. But when he opened the door to leave, Terry's voice sounded from the bed.
"Agent Lake? How are you?" Alan walked back to Terry's bedside, but didn't sit down.
"Thank you for the flowers." She ignored his question and tried to sit up in bed, the effort obviously costing her. "Mr Eppes, I'm sorry about your sons. Both of them. You shouldn't have to go through that. No one should. We'll find out what happened to Charlie."
Alan nodded and turned to the window himself.
"I never saw it in Don. As a father I should have known. He is my son."
"Don't blame yourself Mr Eppes. I never saw it coming either. I knew he had been under a lot of pressure lately, but I'm a forensic psychologist and didn't see any signs. Family and friends rarely do. Some of the most notorious serial murderers were well respected members of the community."
"I just don't understand it." Alan shook his head. "I thought I knew Don."
"We all thought we did." Terry nodded. "But we don't know exactly what happened, Mr Eppes. There are still some questions. That's why we need to find your son. He might be able to tell us what really happened that night." Terry's voice was a little unsteady. The memory of what had happened must be terrifying for her, Alan thought.
"I wish I could help you, Agent Lake, but I have already told the FBI all I know." Alan said.
Terry stared into nothing.
"I'm sorry I can't help you." Alan said ready to leave.
"Would you mind staying for a bit?" Terry asked softly.
Alan complied silently. They had both lost someone dear to them. The holidays were no occasion for joy, just a bitter reminder of what they had lost.