A/N: For the Doctor, this takes place soon after Planet of the Dead. For the CBI, this occurs shortly before The Red Box. As for Bluewater, CA—it exists, but the facts end there.
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters, and I make no money from this work of fiction!
Clarence Williams never thought himself to be anything but an ordinary man. He was an honest man and believed in the value of good, hard work. He wasn't a wealthy man but he was happy and he had a loving wife and two children, and for him, that was all that really mattered. He didn't mind that they didn't have the newest or the best. They were happy with what they had. Their house, their car—these material things weren't old, not to the Williams family. They had character and each blemish had a thousand memories connected to it, forming a million stories, each thread leading to another.
They hadn't had much, that family, when they'd first come to the little town of Bluewater, California. There wasn't much there, but it suited them. They made friends and became known as a respectable family. Emma and Billy, the children, attended the local school. They weren't in the top of their classes, but they tried their best. Emma always watched out for little Billy, even though she was only two years his senior. They still had their scraps, like all children, but even at seven and nine, the two would silently admit that they felt sorry for what they had done. They knew how much it distressed their mother.
"You're bleeding," she'd said, disapprovingly, as she'd taken in their latest battle scars after they'd finally come home from school that blustery March day. They'd given her their excuses, the tales of teasing and the he-started-it accusations, but Marianne Williams had been watching her children walk the block home from school together, and she had known better. They had been quibbling over nothing more than the rock they'd picked up off the street, nothing more than a shiny bit of white quartz hardly bigger than a marble, and had been arguing over who had seen it first (Billy) and who had picked it up first (Emma) and therefore whose property it was. She hadn't had the strength to do more than take it away from Billy (who had wrestled it from Emma's grasp) and put it away, out of reach, and leave the matter for their father to deal with when he returned home, if it was not already forgotten by then.
Now, Emma and Billy didn't know, exactly, why their mother wasn't as chipper as she had once been. They knew it had only been a year or so after they'd moved to Bluewater that the headaches had started, and they knew, quite well, that when their father told them to be quiet, or to go outside and play, that their mother had another one of those headaches. She'd been to the doctor, once, but Emma couldn't quite remember where. And she may not have been very old then, but she remembered how sad her parents had looked in the weeks following it, and how often her father had sat behind his desk, working on things she didn't understand. She almost envied Billy, whose memories of the days before the illness were vague recollections at best. But that's not to say that he didn't know what he was missing.
Marianne's illness hadn't limited her, not at first. She'd never let it interfere with her mothering, having always been ready to play with her children, and she had done as much as she could in the community. She'd always contributed delicious pies to the various bake sales that were held as fundraisers, for instance. When her illness progressed, she was missed. She'd pushed herself, but there were mornings when she hadn't been able to bring herself to get out of bed. They were still a family, those four, tightly-knit, an important part of the community fabric, but sometimes…sometimes their façade cracked, and people would get a brief glimpse of precisely how hard the family tried, and how hard it was for them to make ends meet, now that the illness was taking a greater part in their lives.
A few do-gooders had decided, earlier that week, that final week in March, to do something for the Williams family. Knowing they were too proud to accept charity, the well-meaning group had devised a way to help the family in little ways, repaying them, and more, for what they'd given to the community, from their ingenious little ideas to the bright smiles that still graced their faces whenever they were out in public. It was a campaign that brought the community together, reminding many of them of how easy it was to help, if they only tried. It made them realize how much it meant to Clarence and Marianne to have their children raised not only by themselves but by the community as a whole, and many of the townspeople felt fortunate that the family had settled there.
And then, for unfathomable reasons known only to the one who committed the deed, the family was torn apart.
And the little town of Bluewater, California, was suddenly put on the map, thrust into the spotlight for a brutal quadruple murder that ought never to have happened.
Agent Teresa Lisbon, with the California Bureau of Investigation, had been disgusted when she'd first heard the details of the Williams' case. How anyone could even consider doing that to another human being was beyond her, but it wasn't her job to understand those people. It was her job to catch them. And now, at the request of the local authorities, she and her team were heading the investigation.
They couldn't all go, of course. Someone needed to stay behind, especially now that…. But that was in the past, and she couldn't dwell on it now. She had more important things to do.
Right now, that included keeping the unruly Patrick Jane in line. She couldn't just leave it up to Agent Kimball Cho to keep their consultant in order. Well, not always, anyway. Not that Cho never went along with Jane, but she wasn't exactly infallible in that area, either, and Cho was a lot more likely to stop Jane's nonsense than Agents Wayne Rigsby or Grace Van Pelt. Lisbon knew she shouldn't have, technically, left those two back in Sacramento together, but even after all their secret-keeping, she still trusted them with her life, and she trusted them not to do anything stupid.
And they wouldn't, not those two. They knew better. Doing something stupid seemed to be Jane's job and Jane's alone.
Mainly because, predictably, they had no sooner made it to the crime scene and the introductions had been made than he had wandered off. He was probably inside already, doing who knew what. Lisbon sighed. "Officer Waterer, we'll be taking it from here, thank you. Your people have done a good job of securing the area, and I'd appreciate it if—"
"Hello!" called out a cheery voice, interrupting her. "Don't mind me. Just popping in for a quick look-see."
So much for crowd control. She turned around, starting, "Sir, I'm afraid I'll have to ask you to step back and—"
"Oh, sorry," the man continued, one hand fishing in the breast pocket of his brown pinstriped suit. "I forgot to show you my identification. Silly me. You'd think I would have learned after all these years."
Right, as if the British man was about to produce anything that would— Lisbon blinked, staring at the wallet he held up. Oh. He did have authority to be here. But that didn't make sense. This wasn't anything big, anything important. Horrible, yes, but not especially out of the ordinary. There was no reason….
It didn't bear thinking about. He was here, and now she had to deal with him. "Dr. Smith," she acknowledged politely, "please forgive me. I wasn't informed. I'm Agent Teresa Lisbon, with the CBI—California Bureau of Investigation—and this is my colleague, Agent Kimball Cho, and I'm sure you've corresponded with Officer Lloyd Waterer?"
"Not exactly, no," Dr. Smith admitted—and from the look on Officer Waterer's face, the man hadn't even been expecting anything of the sort, let alone been previously informed. "Bit of a surprise, I'm afraid. Now, why don't you tell me what you know while we have a quick look inside?"
Officer Waterer started to explain the situation again, and Dr. Smith's face grew grim. He walked straight to the entrance of the living room where the crime had been committed and stopped dead. "Something's not right here," he murmured, looking into the bloodied room.
"Four people were murdered," the police officer pointed out. "Bluewater's a small town, not a big city. No one expects something like this to happen out here."
"Right. Yes. I know. Terrible tragedy." Dr. Smith shot another quick glance at the room and then turned back to Officer Waterer. "And the bodies have been removed prior to a full examination because—?"
"They were gone by the time the police arrived on scene," Officer Waterer answered stiffly, sounding as if he had fully intended to get to that point before Dr. Smith had blatantly reminded him of it. "They were there when we got the call, and seven minutes later, they were gone. No one saw anything. Whoever did it moved fast. We didn't even find prints."
"Right." Dr. Smith closed his eyes, deep in thought. "Could've managed it if the killer was skilled, but if he was, he would've only made such a mess to draw attention to himself. Or away from something else." Dr. Smith's brow creased for a moment, and then his eyes snapped open and he said, "I need you to seal this entire area off, right now. And I don't just mean corded off with tape and all that. I mean, literally, sealed off, this entire room, best you can. No one can come in here, do you hear me? No one. Not one curiosity seeker so much as peeking through the windows, got that? And track down everyone who has been in here. I want to have a look at them. Have a little chat, I mean. Just to see. Can you do that for me?"
"I— Of course. I'll get on that right away."
Lisbon smiled as Officer Waterer took his leave. "You're good," she praised, looking at Dr. Smith with the beginnings of true respect.
"Yes, I am," Dr. Smith agreed. "But I wasn't kidding, either. Something's not right here, and no one can go in until I've got it sorted out. Not even you. I'm not even sure it's safe for me, but that's a risk I'm going to take. But not with you, so keep back." He looked back at the room again. "Because I've got a bad feeling," he added, still not looking at them, "and that's not a good thing, because my bad feelings are usually spot on. So if you think this looks bad, well, I can only guarantee that it's a whole lot worse than you think it is."
A/N: This has been gnawing away at me for a while now, and since I finally figured out a plot, I decided to drop a little teaser of the story to come (eventually). Any thoughts, anyone?