Towards the Door We Never Opened
AN: This is my first Wire in the Blood story. I just recently discovered this wonderful show and am completely hooked. I was devastated when I started fourth season and Carol was just gone. This story is set after sixth season. It's set up like a one shot where are they now type episode. Anyone who is a stickler for continuity, just assume that Carol has transferred from working anti-corruption to working homicide again still in South Africa, I accidentally went a little AU with that. I hope you enjoy. Please read and review. Oh, the title is from TS Eliot's "Burnt Norton" and I don't own anything, I just like to play with them.
Tony was sitting on the couch in his living room trying to unwind after a long trying day at the university when suddenly a lot of things seemed to happen at once. The smoke alarm in his kitchen started to beep. He had forgotten that he had put some water on the stove and it boiled dry, starting to smoke as the bottom of the pot scorched. He reached for it without grabbing a pot holder and burned his hand as his phone started to ring. Cursing to himself he chucked the burned pot into the sink and cracked open the window to let out the smoke. The phone continued to ring insistently as he hurried into the living room and fumbled through a mess of papers and books before finally finding his cell phone.
"Dr. Hill." He said as the smoke alarm mercifully stopped beeping. "Oh thank God." He mumbled to himself. He headed back into the kitchen to get some ice for his hand.
"Hello, Tony." At the sound of the once familiar voice on the other end of the line he stopped almost dropping the phone.
"Carol?" He asked even though he knew.
"Yeah it's me. I'm sorry to call out of the blue like this." Words seemed to fail her for a second, and then she continued her voice confident fully in work mode. "I've got a case that I could really use your help on."
"Yes." She answered, knowing she was asking a lot.
"Carol, I don't know…" He said thinking that he was already in enough trouble with the university and not keen on flying half way around the world for someone who had left without even saying good bye.
"Please, Tony, I really need you on this one." There was a long silence and she thought that he might have hung up.
"I'll be on the next flight." He said any resolve crumbling with her "please."
He hung up the phone and pulled his suitcase out of the hall closet and heaving it onto the bed. Grabbing a random assortment of clothes out of his closet and starting to pile them in, trying to ignore the fact that his hand was shaking. Tony had almost forgotten what her voice sounded like. He shook out his hand and firmly reminded himself that he had given her a chance and she had left. This was help on a case and nothing more. He picked up his phone again and dialed the number of the head of his department at the college. This was not going to be a pleasant conversation.
Carol leaned against the wall near the arrivals gate at the Johannesburg Airport. She cursed herself for looking up eagerly every time she heard someone walking down the long corridor leading to the gate.
She could not make up her mind about how she felt about seeing Tony again. She hadn't fully admitted to herself how much she had missed him until she had heard his voice on the phone. She hadn't really expected him to come and when he had agreed she felt a surge of relief that she knew was only partially to do with having his help on the case. There was another part of her that dreaded seeing him, afraid that he might hate her, more afraid that he might not.
Her life had been so much simpler without him intermittently dropping in and out. Things were less confusing without his teasing proximity preventing her from fully engaging with anyone else while he stubbornly continued to stay always just out of reach. She was snapped out of this thought by him standing right in front of her.
"Hi." He said a little shyly. He looked rumpled from the long flight with a lap top bag slung across his chest, a blue plastic bag full of papers in his hand, and a wobbly suitcase dragging behind.
"Hi." Carol answered with a small smile. "I can't believe that they let you bring that as a carry on." She motioned towards the blue plastic bag. Tony just shrugged in reply.
"You have any other bags?"
"No this is it."
"Okay, well if you're up for it I thought we would head straight to the most recent crime scene. It's already been a couple of days. I'll fill you in on the way." Carol said fully switching into cop mode any vestiges of her earlier conflict gone.
He nodded and they headed out to the car both a little relieved and disappointed that they were setting straight to work. As they walked he was able to really look at her for the first time in more than a year. Her hair was even lighter than it had been the last time that he had seen her. She was tan and leaner than she had been. All of this combined gave her the appearance of being composed entirely of angles, as though someone had carved her out of wood and forgotten to sand the edges. He imagined that her new colleagues must find her an intimidating figure.
Once they had loaded his suitcase in the trunk and they were underway. Tony leafed through the case file that had been lying on his seat as Carol navigated out of the airport parking lot and onto the highway.
"So what have we got?" He asked trying to focus and not think about how good it felt to say "we."
"Over the past 2 months there have been 3 young women killed. Each exsanguinated from wounds apparently inflicted by pieces of glass broken at the scene. The first victim, Hermione Sands, was a student at the local university. She was stabbed in the stomach with a piece of her bathroom mirror after being hit repeatedly in the face." Tony flipped to the corresponding crime scene photos as she spoke.
"The second victim, Megan McConally, was stabbed repeatedly with broken shards of a glass topped table in her living room and the final victim, Sarah Wren, had her throat slashed with a piece of a broken mirror in the dance studio where she worked."
"Any evidence of sexual assault?" Tony asked looking up from the photos.
"Was there any evidence of forced entry to any of the locations?"
"Not at the first scene, but the locks were broken on the doors at both of the subsequent scenes."
"So we can assume that he knew the first victim or overpowered her at the door."
"Tony, there's one more thing." Carol said her stomach still twisting a bit when she thought about it. "He forced the final victim to swallow several pieces of the mirror before he killed her."
Tony sat for a long moment staring at the smiling pre-death pictures of the victims, seeing himself for a brief moment surrounded by blood and broken glass. "What about the mirrors are so bloody important to you?" He asked quietly, speaking as always as though the killer were sitting there with them. Then turning to Carol he asked "Other than being roughly the same physical type, did the victims have anything else in common?"
"They were all in their late 20's to early 40's and all of the victims were British citizens who had recently moved to Johannesburg."
"The killer most likely spent most of his childhood somewhere in England."
"We all stay in our comfort zones." Carol said to herself, quoting something that he had said to her a long time ago.
"Exactly," Tony continued, "While in this case the killer can't do so geographically. He is almost certainly choosing women who are familiar to him. These violent fantasies developed early in his life and now that he is finally able to act on them he would want to share it with some one he feels safe with. This isn't easy for me. I feel naked, exposed. I am showing you something that no one else has seen. It's terribly intimate."
For a second Carol felt the old familiar confusion. She had forgotten how jarring it could be when he unexpectedly shifted into the first person. It was always so difficult not to read further meaning into what he was saying. She mentally shook herself very glad that they were in the car; he used to stand about two inches away from her when he did this.
They settled into silence as Tony continued to pour over the file, studying the pictures and reading over the coroner's reports. Carol chanced a side long glance at him and was struck by how little he had changed since the last time she had seen him. The only noticeable difference was that all his hair had finally grown back hiding the scar that ran along the side of his head.
Just thinking about the scar made her wince inwardly. Those few weeks had been some of the most difficult of her life- feeling simultaneously so connected to someone and so lonely as she watched him lose his grasp on reality. She was terrified of him slipping away while having no idea what she would really lose if he did. If she was honest with herself it was a large part of why she had left.
She forced her attention back to the road as she realized she had almost driven right past the dance studio that was the scene of the 3rd murder.
"We're here." She announced as she turned off the engine.
Tony looked confused for a second; he had clearly been deep in thought as well. "Oh right," he said stuffing the papers back in the folder and setting it back on his seat as he got out of the car.
He followed Carol around to the small alley that ran along the back of the studio. It was a tiny shabby building with bars covering windowless frames that tried to provide some relief from the heat.
"This appears to be how he got in." Carol pointed to the splintering on the door around lock on the back door. She pushed the door open breaking the police seal. "It looks as though he kicked the door to break the lock."
Tony followed as they stepped in to what appeared to be a small office at the back of the studio. Carol closed the door behind them and pointed to a brownish red stain right at eye level.
"The blood here on the door is the victim's."
"So he knocks on the door and then when she gets up to answer it he kicks the door hitting her in the face and effectively stunning her." Tony said beginning to piece together what had happened.
As Carol continued to point out things of interest Tony let his attention wander sliding frighteningly seamlessly into what he imagined the mind of the man who had done this must be like. He began to clearly see the attack from the perspective of the killer. He felt the satisfying sensation of knuckles against flesh, heard tape tearing, felt the victim's weight as he lifted her and dragged her into the studio, and then suddenly a sense of overwhelming rage and frustration. He snapped back to the present, back to himself.
"Was there any blood found at the scene that wasn't the victim's?" Tony asked.
"There was at the first scene, but none at the subsequent two." Carol answered she had been patiently waiting as he surveyed the scene with that slightly unfocused gaze that meant that he was somewhere else. "I had expected to find quite a bit of the killer's blood considering the choice of weapon."
"Yes, his hands should have been cut to ribbons. He's learning. He came prepared, most likely bringing the tape and heavy gloves with him. But, you don't bring a weapon do you? Why don't you bring a weapon?" Tony crouched down surveying his reflection in the few shards of mirror still clinging pathetically to the wall. "Our shy boy is getting more confident. He's finally found something that he's good at and he is not going to stop anytime soon."
"So where does that leave us?" Carol asked. Tony looked up at her.
"There is something that he sees that he hates, we just have to figure out what that is." Tony said trying and failing to stifle a yawn. "Sorry, I'm knackered. I should probably find a hotel. I'm not going to be much good to you until I get some sleep." He got to his feet and started to follow her back through the door they had come on through.
"Yeah that's a good idea." Carol said as they walked. "Actually it would probably be easier if you just stayed with me." She paused as they stepped back out in to the alley. "We'll most likely end up working the case at all hours anyways and I have an extra room." She cursed how rushed her voice sounded. He looked at her for a long moment giving her the searching stare she imagined he used on his patients.
"Sounds good" He finally said sliding in to the passenger seat.
Carol got into the driver's seat starting the car. "I need to go into the station for a while. So, I'll just drop you off and we'll get back to work tonight after you've rested."
He nodded yawning again.