"Double Exposure"

The man in the shadows felt the sweat trickle down his neck and then slide under his shirt down his back. It didn't matter how many years he had been dedicated to his vocation, certain aspects of it never became easier. It wasn't the killing that bothered him; he didn't care about that. It wasn't even the bodies that he sometimes had to dispose of afterward. Instead, what bothered him was the smells associated with his line of work. Blood, gunsmoke, decay, and guts -- the insides were always the worst. There was just nothing glamorous about innards.

He waited diligently for the mark to exit the restaurant. He glanced at his watch; they'd been in there for more than three and a half hours already, and while he understood the delicacies of wanting to get laid and working the territory, he had a plane to catch. He wished he was already on the redeye heading back to New York: Los Angeles simply annoyed him. The door to the front of the restaurant opened again, and finally the mark and the woman he was with walked out. From the giggling and larger than life gestures, the hitman guessed that they had consumed at least two bottles of wine with dinner. He smiled; at least the guy had a good time at his last meal. He checked the fit of the silencer on the end of the gun, and wiped the sweat from his brow. Lining up the sights on his rifle, he waited.

The mark opened the passenger door for the woman, and helped her get in. "Thanks, baby," she cooed before she kissed him softly on the lips.

The man with the gun kept his eye focused in the nightscope and waited. The mark walked around the front of the car, opened the driver door and climbed in. He waited as the man leaned over to the woman, lightly kissing her mouth. After a little breather, the man leaned in and opened his mouth to her, kissing her deeply. The hitman waited: the least he could do was let the guy die happy. New York didn't specify how it should be done, just that it needed doing and it was on him to take care of it in LA and not Vegas. The man finally lifted his mouth from the woman's and reached for the ignition. It was the last thing he did before the man with the gun squeezed the trigger, hitting the mark in the back of the head, the propulsion of the bullet catapulting through skull, brain matter, tissue, and then skull again, flying out the front side, and through the windshield of the car.

The woman screamed, but as the shooter had pre-determined, her type wasn't about to stay and answer any questions from the cops. She grabbed her purse and fled the vehicle, running for the street, quickly disappearing into the night. He looked at his watch: plenty of time to make it to the airport. If he wanted, he could stop at Tail o' the Pup on La Cienega and grab a chili dog before catching his flight. The Pup was the closest thing to a New York dog he had ever found on the west coast. He scrunched up his nose; he hoped he wouldn't have to return for a long time to come.

Sam yawned as he poured himself a cup of coffee; it had been a late night closing out the Hanrahan case, and he wasn't looking forward to the workload the day was promising. He took a sip from his mug, and set it down on the desk in the main lab, next to the bag of personal effects that belonged to the victim who was waiting for preliminary screening in the autopsy room. Sam walked through the double doors and into the lab, washing his hands at the large sink in the corner before touching anything in the room. He moved over to the body bag on the exam table and unzipped it: but nothing could have prepared Sam Fujiyama for the sight that greeted him.

"Oh God..." Sam cried, stumbling backward against another table. He covered his mouth with his hand and felt his eyes flood with tears, his breathing excelerating faster than he could possibly regulate.

Mark walked into the room from the side doors and Sam's ashen face scared him. He quickly moved to Fujiyama, grasping him gently by the forearms. "Sam? What is it? What's the matter?"

"The body," was all Sam could say before emotion choked off his voice.

Mark couldn't imagine what would cause a seasoned technician like Sam to lose it: until he turned toward the body and felt his stomach fly into his throat. "Oh Jesus...it's--" Sam's hand on his shoulder stopped him from saying it out loud. He looked into Fujiyama's eyes and swallowed hard, his voice a whisper, "What are we gonna do?"

Forcing himself to clamp down on his emotions, Sam gritted his teeth. "I want you to close off this room, and keep everyone out. Mark, I mean no one gets in."

"I understand."

Fujiyama started toward the door. "I'm going to wait for Asten; he's got to be told before anyone else finds out."

"Sam...Asten's not gonna handle this well."

"I know."

Sam walked out the door and Mark stared down into the face of the man he greatly respected, unable to fathom how he had ended up on an exam table in the morgue.

"How could this have happened?" Mark whispered to the corpse.

But lying cold on his own table, Quincy couldn't tell him.