AN: This is a sequel to XV-Dragons piece, Cornelia's jealous and the punishment of Candracar. It is NOT related to Hay Lin's Swansong and Cornelia's penance.
AN2: For this story, the events of XV's piece took place on a Saturday.
AN3: This fic is piggybacking. This means that it will be updated when another one gets updated, so this may take some time to be updated.
Will sat down and let out a small shudder. To say today had been…harrowing would not do it justice in the least. She still couldn't believe what had happened, even though she had lived through it. Never in a million years would Will have believed that Cornelia Hale, Earth Guardian and friend (Former friend, a voice whispered in her mind) would attempt to deliberately and cold-bloodedly kill her.
Will opened her diary once more. It seemed such a harmless thing to get worked up about. Part of her wished, most feverently, that she'd never written those words down. Confessing that she liked Caleb had almost killed her and destroyed her friendship with Cornelia.
Cornelia. The name itself was painful to even think about. Will was so sure that Cornelia had been her friend, even after the fiasco that had been parents night. And Cornelia had tried to kill her, just because they both loved the same boy. It was petty and it hurt. Badly.
There was one good thing that had come out of this whole mess though. Caleb and her were finally a couple. He'd seen her home and on her doorstep, he kissed her for the very first time and Will was sure she felt her feet lift off the ground. Which, given the fact that she's a Guardian and all, they easily could've done.
"Will, phone for you." Susan called and Will picked up the extension in her room.
"Hello?" she asked into the speaker.
"Hello Will, it's Elizabeth Hale, Cornelia's mum." Will suppressed an urge to slam the phone down.
"Mrs Hale, it's half past ten in the evening." Will said firmly.
"That's why I'm calling you." Mrs Hale said, a hint of worry in her voice. "I wanted to know if you've seen Cornelia, she hasn't come home yet."
"I haven't seen her since this afternoon Mrs Hale. Cornelia and I…got into a serious fight." Fight was an understatement, Will thought to herself. Cornelia Hale had tried to KILL her for heavens sake!
"Oh…" Elizabeth Hale's voice slowly trailed off. "Do you know where she might be at all? I wouldn't ask, but I'm starting to get worried."
"I really don't Mrs Hale. Goodbye." And with that last word, Will ended the call.
Two days later.
"Pat, fetch!" Simon Watch called out as he threw the red rubber ball once more. The short black and white mongrel called Pat excitedly chased the ball once more. Bringing it back to his owner, Simon took the ball and threw it once more, this time in a different direction. But this time, Pat discovered something else and started barking incessantly. With an exasperated sigh, Simon walked over to where Pat was.
"What is it boy? Find someth…" Simon's words drained away as he saw what had caught Pat's attention. Pulling out his mobile, he dialled 911.
"911 emergency." A calm voice stated from the other end. Simon took a deep breath.
"I've just found a body."
Sergeant Lair was one of the first officers on the scene and what he saw made him feel sick to his very core. This wasn't the first murder case he'd ever had to deal with in his career, nor was it the first to have a potential sexual element to it. No, what really got under his skin was the fact they he knew the girl in question very well.
Even with her long blond hair matted with blood, Tom Lair would've recognised Cornelia Hale anywhere. Stripped naked and with a gaping hole ripped in her chest, Tom Lair felt his heart stop. Murders, sex offences and thieves were all a part and parcel of the routine, but he never expected it to get this personal.
Elizabeth Hale sat in the police station sobbing her eyes out. Clutching her in numb support, her husband Harold sat beside her with a vacant look in his eyes. Tom sympathised with them. Sympathised with them both. He silently prayed that he was never in the same position they were in.
"Mr and Mrs Hale, we'd like to ask you a few questions please." Lieutenant Buddy Pearse asked gently. Mr Hale nodded and Buddy gestured towards the interrogation room. "In here please."
Mr Hale simply followed without a word, clearly still in shock. As he walked away, Tom silently swore to ensure that whoever did this was going to go down.
"Do you guys have any idea why Principal Knickerbocker wants to see us?" Will asked as she saw Irma, Taranee and Hay Lin sitting outside the Principal's office.
"I hope it's not about our extra-curricular activities." Irma replied.
"Could Cornelia have told her about us? Over the phone or something?" Taranee added, her eyes filled with fear and nerves. "My parents would freak if they knew."
Will opened her mouth to reply when she was interrupted by another girls voice.
"Hey do you guys, like, have any idea what's going on?" Alchemie asked. Will mentally sighed with relief. Whatever it was, it clearly wasn't about their Guardian lives.
"Yeah, we were talking about it Al." Irma drawled.
"Miss Vandom, could you come in please?" Principal Knickerbocker asked from inside her office. Swallowing hard, Will walked in.
"Hello Miss Vandom." Principal Knickerbocker began. "This is Agent Medina" Principal Knickerbocker gestured towards a tall, dark-skinned woman with large round glasses. "And this is Agent McTiennan." Principal Knickerbocker continued, gesturing towards a tall blond haired man, with hard blue eyes. "They need to talk to you about your friend Cornelia."
A look of disgust crossed Will's face before she could stop it, before she could stop it. "She's not my friend." Will stated harshly. Seeing the look of surprise on Principal Knickerbocker's face, Will decided to elaborate. "We had a big fight a few days ago. I haven't seen her since she went missing."
"Please sit down Miss Vandom, we have something to tell you." Agent Medina said gently. Will sat down. "I'm afraid Cornelia has been found. Murdered." Will turned pale.
"Who…." Her voice trailed off.
"You may well have been the last person to see he alive." Agent McTiennan said firmly. "Can you tell us about the last time you spoke to her?"
"It was last Saturday, about two in the afternoon. She called me and we met up at the scrap yard." Will paused to suppress a small shudder as she remembered what had happened that fateful day. "We got into a fight. She was looking for a fight and I was forced to defend myself."
"Can you tell us what the fight was about, Miss Vandom?" Agent McTiennan asked a little more aggressively.
"IT WAS ABOUT A BOY!" Will snapped angrily. "She was angry that I liked the same boy that she did."
"Was the fight an entirely verbal confrontation, or was there a physical component?" Agent McTiennan pressed.
"We exchanged blows if that's what you mean!" Will snapped, before a look of panic crossed her face. "Hey, I didn't kill her, if that's what you're thinking!"
"We know that you didn't kill her Miss Vandom. Whoever did kill your friend had far greater strength than most adults." Agent Medina said calmly. "We want to catch the scumbag who did this. That's why we're asking these questions."
"Can you think of anyone who she knew that might have been able to exert that kind of strength?" Agent McTiennan asked in a softer voice. "Someone who works out perhaps?"
Will paused to think for a while. Finally, she shook her head.
"No I don't think so." She said finally. Agent McTiennan sighed.
"Very well, you can leave now." He said in a disappointed voice.
"Return to your class Will. I ask that you keep this to yourself and your friends for as long as possible." Principal Knickerbocker continued sadly and Will was struck by just how OLD Principal Knickerbocker looked right then.
"Miss Lair, come in please."
As soon as Irma stepped into Principal Knickerbockers office, she noticed Agents Medina and McTiennan standing there.
"Whatever it is, I didn't do it!" Irma joked. Principal Knickerbocker glared at her.
"No one is accusing you of anything Miss Lair." Agent Medina told her in a reassuringly calm voice.
"We need to talk about your friend Cornelia." Agent Medina put her hand up as Irma opened her mouth to speak. "I understand your friend Will had an argument with her on the day she went missing. Were you there?"
"Yes I was. Listen, I don't know where she went after that."
"Can you tell us the time this argument happened?" Agent McTiennan asked. Irma glared at them.
"Around two-ish, maybe three." Irma replied somewhat sulkily. "We didn't part on good terms exactly."
"And can you think of anyone she knew who has a lot of upper body strength, more so than an average adult male?" Agent McTiennan continued firmly.
Irma paused and thought hard for a while. "I suppose the bookstore owner Cedric might, I suppose." She said finally. "But I think he's been out of town for some time. Why do you want to know?"
"Because Cornelia's body was found earlier today. She was murdered by someone with a lot of upper body strength." Agent McTiennan told her plainly. Irma didn't say anything, but she suddenly grabbed the chair she was sitting on very hard.
"Thank you Miss Lair." Agent Medina said in a kind voice. "Can you send Taranee Cook in when you leave."
Taranee favoured the two agents with her patented killer glare.
"May I ask what this is about?" She asked in a distinctly icy voice.
"It's about your friend Cornelia Hale. There's no easy way to tell you this. She's been found. Murdered. By a person with considerable strength." Agent Medina told her. Taranee turned pale with shock and Agent Medina decided to press her advantage. "Do you know of anyone Cornelia might have met after her argument with Will Vandom?"
Taranee shook her head. "Maybe Alchemie, but I can't think of anyone else really. Elyon's not in town and Cornelia wasn't talking to us either."
"What about anyone with above average strength? Is there anyone who she knew that she might have met?" Agent McTiennan pressed.
"No I don't-" Taranee suddenly paused. Will was physically capable of using considerable physical strength in her guardian form. And Caleb, well he probably was pretty strong. Taranee shook herself mentally. This was ridiculous. Caleb and Will were her FRIENDS, people she would trust with her life, people who she knew intimately.
And therein lay a problem. Because Taranee had felt the same way about Cornelia Hale. In fact, Taranee probably would've said that she knew Cornelia BETTER than she did Will. And after the events of the previous Saturday, Taranee no longer confident that she knew the people around her. Cornelia had tried to kill Will and that changed EVERYTHING. If she really knew Cornelia, then why hadn't she ever suspected that she would be capable of actually trying to kill someone? And if she didn't really know Cornelia after all this time, how could she say she knew anyone?
"Are you sure?" Agent Medina pressed, noting her hesitation. Taranee paused and shook her head.
"No I'm pretty sure." Taranee said, this time more firmly. Agent Medina sighed.
"If you remember anything, or think you know something that you think might be relevant, give us a call." Agent McTiennan said as he handed her a business card with his number on it. "You may leave now. Please ask Hay Lin to come in when you go."
"Um…Hi!" Hay Lin said as she stepped into the room, bouncing from one foot to the other, radiating enough nervous energy to power a city. Or at least a small town. Perhaps we should've interviewed Hay Lin first, Principal Knickerbocker thought to herself.
"Don't worry Miss Lin, you're not in any trouble. We just want to talk to you about your friend Cornelia." Agent Medina said calmly.
"What about Cornelia?" Hay Lin practically shrieked, before cringing slightly. "Sorry, nerves."
"When did you last see Cornelia Hale?" Agent McTiennan asked firmly, his face forming a frown.
"Around two or three on Saturday." Hay Lin answered in an uncharacteristically subdued voice. Monsters she could handle. Federal agents were harder.
"We understand there was an altercation between your friend Will and Cornelia. Did you witness it?" Agent McTiennan continued.
"Yeah, I was there." Hay Lin replied. "I haven't seen her since and I don't know where she might have gone, if that's what you want to know."
"I'm afraid Cornelia's body has been found." Agent Medina said sadly. "She was killed by someone with a lot of strength. Do you know of anyone who might have an exceptional amount of upper body strength that she might have met?"
Hay Lin felt the strength leave her body and her face turned pale. "Cornelia…dead?"
"I'm afraid so." Agent Medina told her sympathetically. "We're investigating who killed her and we can't do it without help."
"I…I don't think I know anyone who could fit the description you're looking for. Of course, the person who knew her best was Elyon Brown." Hay Lin said, struggling to regain her composure.
"No-one seems to be able to contact them. Do you know where the Browns have gone?" Agent Medina asked gently.
"N-n-no, I-" Hay Lin suddenly stopped talking as tears began to flow freely down her cheeks and she began to sob. Dammit, she wasn't SUPPOSED to care about Cornelia, she had forfeited that right when she tried to kill Will. But as she continued to sob, she was forced to face the facts. Three years of friendship was not easily thrown aside and emotions were seldom REASONABLE.
"We'll talk about this later." Agent Medina told Hay Lin in a kind voice. Leading Hay Lin out of the office, Agent Medina passed Hay Lin to Principal Knickerbocker who sat down beside her and comforted her.
"When did you last see Cornelia Hale Miss Jones?" Agent McTiennan asked Alchemie firmly.
"On Friday, just after school." Alchemie replied. "She seemed to be angry with Will and the others."
"Yeah, she looked pretty narked with them." Alchemie said, shrugging her shoulders. "Something to do with Elyon."
"Do you know the details of the argument?" Agent McTiennan continued, a look of interest crossing his face.
"No I don't. Just that Cornelia seemed to think that they had something to do with Elyon's disappearance." Alchemie replied with a shrug.
"What made her think that?" Agent Medina asked, interest aroused as well.
"I don't know. I hope Cornelia's ok." As the words left her mouth, Alchemie shuddered slightly. She wasn't as close to Cornelia as she had once been. Cornelia had W.I.T.C.H and Alchemie had her band, but they had stayed close despite that.
"We have some bad news to tell you about Cornelia." Agent Medina started gently.
"Is she hurt? What hospital is she in? What happened to her?" Alchemie exclaimed.
"She's been found. Murdered. Someone with exceptional strength killed her. Do you know of anyone she may have met that could have done that?"
Alchemie turned very pale and had to suppress the urge to vomit there and then. Pulling herself together, she spoke after a silence that seemed to last forever.
"Maybe Caleb, that strange boy staying at the Silver Dragon." She suggested. "I know she liked him."
"Thank you Miss Jones. I'm sorry about your friend." Agent Medina told her. Alchemie waved her away.
"Can you just…leave me alone please?" Alchemie asked weakly, before standing up and running for the nearest girls toilets and vomiting into a sink. She continued vomiting until she could vomit no more and continued to retch as her shocked mind tried to comprehend what Agent Medina had said. Raising her eyes, Alchemie looked in the mirror.
"Who would want to kill you Cornelia? What could possibly justify someone doing that?" Alchemie asked the mirror. Straightening up, Alchemie gave her reflection a glare. "I'll do whatever I can to make whoever did this pay."
"What do you think of what we got?" Agent Medina asked her colleague as they stepped into their car.
"Honestly? I think that Alchemie girl was definitely being straight with us." Agent McTiennan paused. "But the other girls, Will, Irma, Taranee and Hay Lin are definitely hiding something, no doubt. I think they may well be shielding the murderer."
Agent Medina nodded. "Agreed. But why would they say they met Cornelia around two? She was killed sometime between ten and eleven, some three hours before they claim she fought with them. It doesn't make sense."
"No it doesn't." Agent McTiennan said with a frown. "I think that we should question the Lin girl some more, I think she might be our best hope of getting to the truth."
As the car drove off, Agent Medina and Agent McTiennan had no idea of the events that they had set into motion and the consequences of what their investigation would have.