12th Hour: Willow's Residence

"I really didn't expect you to come," Marisa sounded a lot different than she had before. Her voice spoke of a certain measure of clarity that could only come from her complete insanity. "I thought Sara might go to her own apartment and that you might go to your sister's, Catherine. I thought I'd have to kill you all separately."

Catherine pushed Lindsey behind her. "You don't have to kill anyone at all."

"I have a question for you, Catherine." Marisa moved her arm so that the gun was pointing at Sara's leg. "If you lie to me, I'll shoot the Ex."

"What do you want to know?" Catherine's voice was a lot stronger than she actually felt.

"When you asked for my help did you want drugs from me?"

Catherine tried to remember everything about psychology she had ever learned. Erika said that Marisa was a textbook case, so if she could just remember what she could say that would leave everyone unharmed then everything would be fine. Eventually the FBI would do something right for a change and get Marisa, somehow.

Catherine didn't even know what Marisa was talking about, but she had to take a chance. "No. I was really asking for your help."

Marisa smiled. "That's what I thought. That's what I always thought, but Erika told me that you wanted drugs. She told me you were coming off of a high."

"She was wrong," Catherine offered. "She doesn't know the truth."

Marisa looked to the ground but then quickly back to Catherine. "I told her that. I told her she was wrong and she told me she was smarter than me."

"Erika didn't know you would do this," Sara reasoned. "How smart can she be?"

"I wasn't talking to you," Marisa turned her attention to Sara. "You mean nothing to me."

"Erika isn't smarter than you," Catherine took Marisa's attention.

"You know I didn't think she was," Marisa's body sagged, "but then I thought about it. Y'know, she is smarter than me." Marisa straightened her arm out and steadied the gun in her hand. "So I think you lied to me." She squeezed the trigger and shot Sara in the thigh.

A Vehicle

"I knew you were lying about having a key," Erika said from the passenger's seat. "I knew James would want me to be able to get out, just in case something really bad was going to happen."

"This wouldn't be happening if you had said something earlier," Sanchez was speeding towards Catherine's house praying that they wouldn't arrive too late. She had already spoken to Agent James and told him they were now dealing with a hostage situation. They had screwed up again.

"This also wouldn't be happening, if you people weren't complete failures." Erika snapped back. "How many times have you let Marisa slip through your fingers?"

"And how many times were you personally able to stop her and didn't?" Sanchez swerved nearly missing another vehicle.

"Why would I stop her?" Erika asked so softly Sanchez hardly heard her. "She deserves as much as a chance as anyone else."

"You're crazy."

Erika laughed. "I know."

Willow's Residence

Lindsey was screaming from behind Catherine and Sara fell to the floor, crying out in pain. Catherine moved to go to Sara but Marisa yelled at her to stop.

"I don't want you helping her." Marisa said. "Make Lindsey do it. A little blood doesn't hurt that much. It's the multiple killings that will really get to a girl."

"You've got to be joking," Catherine's voice was strained.

"I'm not." Marisa replied simply. "I still have questions for you."

Catherine bit her bottom lip then shook her head. She turned to her daughter and did her best to calm the frantic girl. "Lindsey, listen to me," Catherine placed her hands on her daughter's shoulders and held her steady. "Sara needs your help. I want you to take off your jacket and wrap it around Sara's thigh and tie it really tight, okay?"

Lindsey showed no signs of understanding a word Catherine had said. "Lindsey," Catherine shook Lindsey by the shoulders, "do you understand me?"

Lindsey's eyes went to Sara and then quickly away. "I can't."

"Lindsey you have to," Catherine replied forcefully.

"I'm getting impatient," Marisa said through a sigh.

"Lindsey, please just do as I ask." Catherine pleaded. "Please."

Lindsey took off her jacket and walked over to Sara. Sara tried greeting the girl with a smile, but wasn't at all successful. The pain was too much and she felt like she was going to pass out, and she knew that was a bad thing.

"Are you ready for the next question?" Marisa re-aimed the gun, except this time she pointed at Lindsey's head.

Of course Catherine wasn't ready for the next question. The last question had gotten Sara shot. "What do you want to know?"

"Would you murder for someone you love?" Marisa directed her gaze at Sara and Lindsey. "Would you murder for them?"

Catherine followed Marisa's gaze. "I don't know."

"I think we should find out," Marisa suggested darkly. "I think you should murder the first person who steps into this house to help you. I think you should murder them to keep Sara alive. I think you should murder for someone who doesn't love you!" Marisa stepped closer to Catherine. "Don't you think that's a good idea?"

Catherine met Marisa's gaze head on. "No. I think it's an awful idea."

Marisa laughed weakly. "Honesty. You learn from your mistakes. Good. But even though you think it's a bad idea, I'm still going to see if you can do it. Then we can see how it makes you feel."

Willow's Residence: Outside

Sanchez and Erika pulled up to the front of Catherine's house after being met with a squadron of police officers and FBI agents blocking off the streets and surrounding the perimeter of the house. Erika jumped out of the car and walked right over to the agent in charge. Agent James actually looked slightly relieved to see her.

"What's going on inside?" Erika immediately asked.

"We don't know," Agent James ran his hand through his thinning hair. "We can't see inside. We haven't heard anything yet from anyone either."

"Marisa's not going to make any demands," Erika laughed. "She wants to kill them. She doesn't care if she dies in the process."

"Do you think we should go in the house?" James asked uncertainly.

"I'm going to go inside," Erika replied. "I'll tell you what's going on from there."

"There's no way in hell you're going in there alone," Sanchez had finally made her way over to the two of them. "Forgive me for not trusting you."

Erika raised her brow. "You're completely forgiven."

"What makes you so sure Marisa will let you in?" James asked as he ran his hand through his hair once more.

"We have a deal."

James snorted. "A deal?"

"She won't shoot me. Believe that."

James looked at Erika for a long moment, but knew he couldn't decide to trust her words just by looking at her. She was an excellent liar, but the worst thing that could happen was that she got shot and he couldn't find himself caring about that. "Fine. Go in, but take Sanchez with you."

"Of course," Erika turned away and started walking to the house. "Sanchez be a dear and fetch a ladder. It's impossible to make a grand entrance using the front door. We're going to take a window."

Willow's Residence: Inside

Marisa pulled out another gun and offered it to Catherine. "This gun only has one bullet in it. You could try and aim it at me, but I swear I'll kill them both before you even fire."

Catherine took a deep breath then reached out for the gun. The metal was cold to the touch and it felt impossibly heavy. Catherine wasn't feeling entirely confident in her ability to do anything worthwhile at the moment. Trying to shoot Marisa even seemed too much of a risk.

Marisa walked over to Sara, who was just barely conscious, kicked Lindsey out of the way and pointed her gun at the brunette's head. "Someone will come," she told Catherine. "There will be someone to save you and you'll murder them. You'll see how it feels."

As if on cue there was the sound of glass breaking above them followed by the sound of footsteps.

"Shoot the gun when you see them," Marisa ordered coldly. "If you don't I'm putting a bullet through Sara's head, then for fun I'll kill Lindsey too."

Willow's Residence: Upstairs

"Follow me," Erika ordered Sanchez. "Try not to sound like stampeding elephants, okay?"

"You don't have a gun," Sanchez pointed out. "Shouldn't you be following me?"

Erika shrugged. "Have it your way." She moved behind Agent Sanchez and let the other woman lead her down the stairs.

Willow's Residence: First Floor

"I hear them coming," Marisa said softly, gleefully.

Catherine took a deep breath and raised the gun, pointing it directly at the staircase. She tightened her grip on the metal causing the gun to shake in her grip. She released the safety and looked deeply into the darkness, waiting for a form to appear in front of her silently hoping that they'll see her first and dive out of the way.

Willow's Residence: Staircase

"Are we there yet?" Erika whispered happily.

"Be quiet," Sanchez ordered. She focused her attention on the darkness in front of her. She bent down, hoping to get a better view of the floor beneath them, but she couldn't see anything. She took another step down and paused again, looking once more for a sign of life below. Again, she saw nothing. She took another step and saw a shadow of a figure. She bent down and saw the gun. Her vision was followed by the soft sound of a gun with a silencer firing. She dove out to the side and flew down the rest of the staircase clear of the path of the bullet.

When Sanchez looked back she saw Erika grabbing her side and falling down the stairs. She raised her head and sought out the shadow, quickly realizing it was Catherine who had taken the shot.

"You did it," she heard a jovial voice proclaim maniacally. "You actually did it."

Sanchez turned her attention to the voice and for the first time noticed Marisa. The woman was bouncing happily on the balls of her feet. She looked like she had just won an unimaginable prize.

"See!" Marisa yelled to no one in particular. "I am better than Erika. I knew she would come. I get everything I want." Her voice turned dark and she looked finally to Catherine. "I even get to kill you."

Sanchez looked frantically around for her gun, but soon realized she had dropped it when she dove off the stairs. She was powerless to do anything.

"Please," Sara pleaded from the floor, barely really knowing what was happening. "Let her live. You've won."

"Won?" Marisa turned her attention to Sara. "I've won?" She asked incredulously. "I murdered for her. I did everything for her, and I find out it was all a mistake – a fucking misunderstanding!"

Before anyone in the room could respond there was a shot fired, hitting Marisa directly in the heart. "I don't fail," Erika's voice could be heard saying weakly.

The gun she had used was Sanchez's. She had fallen on it when she rolled down the stairs. Luck wasn't a strong enough word for the chance of that happening.

Marisa looked down at her chest then her eyes sought out Erika. She gave a resigned smile then fell to the floor. Catherine ran over to Sara. Lindsey did the same. And Sanchez took her chances at approaching Erika.

The gunfire had inspired Agent James to make a decision of his own, and with a good number of agents he burst into the front door of the house, finally taking an action that should have happened a long time before.

Ambulances were called and Marisa's body eventually covered up, along with Erika's.

Catherine ended up, somehow, at the nearest hospital waiting with her daughter for word on Sara's condition. She had to have surgery, but the doctor had actually been quite positive about the odds.

So Catherine was actually sitting in the hospital trying to decide what future direction she wanted to take her life in. The last twelve hours had exhausted her and she could only say she had learned what she was truly capable of, but she still didn't quite know if she was capable of risking being in love with Sara again. She wasn't sure if she could handle their lives falling apart because of each other again.

"Mom," Lindsey reached out and took her mother's hand. "I really think you should do it."

Catherine turned to her daughter confused. "Do what, sweetie?"

"I think you should risk being happy."

Well… from the mouths of babes.

"Ms. Willows," Sara's surgeon stepped into the waiting room.

Catherine stood up, Lindsey's hand still in her own. "Yes?"

"Ms. Sidle is going to be fine. She's in recovery now." The doctor said with a smile. He always liked delivering good news.

"Can we go see her?" Lindsey eagerly asked.

"Why don't you wait until she's in her own room," the doctor replied. "That way you can both be there when she wakes up."

The doctor looked them both over once more then walked out of the room leaving the Willows women alone. They hugged each other in relief. Sara was fine.


Lindsey was in the backyard running around with Romeo. Ever since Catherine had allowed him to stay, he had become permanently attached to the pre-teen. Catherine was actually happy to see Lindsey so happy with the dog. He was a good protector, and she knew Lindsey was safe with the German Sheperd.

Lindsey picked up the ball Romeo had just fetched for her. She threw it again and watched the dog run off to find the plastic neon orange toy. She saw Romeo disappear behind the corner of the house, and waited patiently for him to return. When he took longer than normal, Lindsey decided to seek him out.

When she found him he was being happily petted by a tall, dark skinned, high cheek boned, mysterious brown eyed, professional appearance, beautiful woman.

"Erika?" Lindsey called out confused. "I thought you were dead."

"Hi, Lindsey," Erika greeted the girl with a smile. "I bet you didn't expect to see me."

"I thought you were dead." Lindsey was glued to her spot in the grass.

"I thought it would be better for your parents if they thought I was dead," Erika easily explained.

"Why?" Lindsey had been told everything about Erika. Catherine and Sara had been brutally honest. They didn't want Lindsey making a friend like that ever again.

"Because I think it would make them happier." Erika stopped petting the dog and slowly stood to her full height.

"You want them to be happy?" Lindsey was confused. She was under the impression that evil people didn't like happiness.

Erika chuckled softly. "I've got nothing against it."

"So why are you here now?"

Erika smiled kindly. "I wanted to let you know that I'm not dead. I didn't want you to think you lost someone else in your life."

"They told me you were dangerous. They said you were evil." Lindsey accused.

"Well," Erika sighed. "They were kind of right about that."

Lindsey didn't know what to do. Erika didn't look particularly evil at the moment.

"So how are your parents doing?" Erika asked genuinely curious about their life post hoc.

Lindsey shrugged. "Sara moved back into the house, but they're not in the same room. They say they're taking things slowly this time."

"Oh." Erika nodded approvingly. "I think they've got the right idea."

"Lindsey?" Sara's voice called out. "It's time for you to get inside and eat. You've been outside with Romeo all day."

"I'm on my way!" Lindsey yelled back not taking her attention from Erika. "What are you going to do?" she asked.

"The FBI, believe it or not, still wants my help."

"Lindsey!" Sara called out again. "Come on!"

Lindsey nodded and turned to walk away but stopped. "You're not going to hurt us, are you?"

Erika smiled. "I don't plan on it."

Lindsey nodded again then ran off with Romeo close on her heels to the back door of the house where Sara was waiting patiently.

"What were you doing out there?" Sara asked as Lindsey approached.

"Nothing really," Lindsey answered. "Romeo thought he found something interesting."

"Did he?" Sara held the door open for her daughter and the dog.

Lindsey shrugged. "He likes dirt."

Sara laughed and followed them into the house, closing the door firmly behind them.

The End