A New Life – Chapter 2

Three weeks after finding Shaun, she was reading her own article on the front page of the American Tribune.

Sam had, of course, been thrilled when she'd submitted her final copy for proofing and printing a few days earlier. When she subsequently met with him in his office on the day the article was published and informed him that she had no plans to write any follow-up articles afterwards, his response was just as true to character. "Mad, this is the kind of writing that makes careers!" he'd exclaimed gruffly, waving his hands and knitting his eyebrows together in consternation. "After all the shit you've been through to get this story, you're just going to walk away?" He leaned forward in his desk chair, staring at Madison intently. "Kid, you deserve some time in the limelight for this. That boy would be dead right now if it weren't for you."

Madison looked up from the paper in her hands that she'd been reading over and met his eyes with a tired sigh, rubbing the back of her neck in frustration. Her leg had come out of its cast a week ago, but the brace she now wore around her ankle was awkward and making her tense. It wasn't helping her mood at all and she wanted this stupid meeting over with already. "Haven't we already had this conversation? I don't want any of the limelight. You know it's not about that for me. The Origami Killer is dead and there's no more story to tell. I just want to…put all of this behind me." She glanced between the blinds of his office window into the newsroom beyond, trying to keep her other reasons from being too obvious in her eyes. 'I don't want him to find me…'

"Madison, you barely wrote about your role in this at all and you know it! This is a great piece, but you wrote about the victims and their families and how much they all love each other…you barely even mentioned the dead FBI agent, or even Shelby, for chrissakes!" Sam drummed his fingers on the desk in increasing agitation as he spoke, continuing to gesticulate wildly with his other hand to emphasize his points. "There's a gold mine of stories here! You've got a real shot at making it big and you're pissing it away, kid!"

Madison had heard enough at this point. She closed her newspaper and grabbed her cane, standing up and leaning on it lightly for support. "Sam, you're a great editor and a great friend. You know I respect your judgment, but I've made myself clear on this. If you want to pull someone else off of their beat and get more articles out of this thing, be my guest…I've turned all of my notes over to you already. I want *nothing* more to do with this story, though." She put her paper down on his desk and then reached down to the back of her chair to pick up her coat, putting it on and zipping it up. "I've been through enough. These families have been through enough. I…didn't know the FBI agent and Shelby" she hissed the name contemptuously "…doesn't deserve to be mentioned by anyone ever again".

Sam leaned back in his chair with a defeated grunt as Madison reached to turn the handle and open the door. "Mad…" he said in a more subdued tone, a hint of apology in his voice "I'm…sorry, kid. I won't harass you about it any more. Just…go home and get some rest and don't worry about a thing. Call me when you're ready to go back to work and…if you need anything". Madison opened the door and stepped through, then looked back over her shoulder at him with a half-smile and a nod. "I will, Sam…and thanks." she said in reply, before shutting the door behind her and leaving the office to hail a cab and head home.

'Well, that could have been worse…repetitive and annoying, sure, but I think he might have actually listened that time and maybe he'll lay off now.' she thought to herself in the cab, flipping through a binder full of research materials she'd had one of the interns gather together for her to take home and read. In the binder were several articles and reports on the phenomenon knows as disassociative fugue, what she now thought might be the cause of the blackouts Ethan had described to her in one of his rare moments of openness. Satisfied with the contents of the binder, she flipped it shut and then let her thoughts wander to kill the time for her trip home. She couldn't fully explain, even to herself, why she'd requested that the intern compile the information for her…it might have just been false hope that she'd be able to help him someday. She had not had any contact with Ethan since the day that she had called him with the address of the warehouse and they found Shaun together. She wasn't upset by that, not really…they were pretty much even for the whole Shaun thing after he shot Shelby before he could put a metal spike through her chest, after all. He didn't owe her anything…but she had to admit to herself that she missed him. She wondered how his injuries were healing up and if he'd read her article today. She wondered if he'd been thinking about her as much she'd thought about him…

The squeal of the cab's brakes caused Madison to blink and grimace as it stopped in front of her building. She grabbed her cane and the binder and paid the driver, ambling over to her parked bike as the cab drove off and patting the bike's seat with a rueful frown. The docs had told her it would be three more weeks at least before her ankle sprain had healed up enough to let her ride again and she was starting to get itchy for the road. "Hang in there, girl…" she murmured affectionately to the machine "…we'll get out there again soon." She went inside to her apartment after that, falling onto the couch and rubbing her eyes tiredly. Since her ankle and bullet wound were healing up nicely and her pain levels were manageable by regular aspirin now, her pain and sleep prescriptions had ended at the same time her cast was removed and she had not wanted to raise any red flags at the time by asking for refills. Her sleep hours were already growing erratic again and she knew it was only a matter of time before the nightmares returned, which simultaneously filled her with dread and pissed her off. She rolled her head to the side and noticed that her answering machine light on the nearby desk next to her computer was blinking off and on, indicating a new message. "Argh! If that's Sam again, I swear I'll quit! No job is worth this!" she muttered to herself as she got up and thunked over to the desk with her cane, swatting the play button in annoyance. After a beat of awkward silence, the caller in the message started speaking…and Madison sank down into her desk chair, her knees threatening to give way beneath her.

"Madison? It's Ethan…"