Chapter 1: Slither
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
A/N: Here's the next story in the series! If you missed it, I wrote several BTSS's—scenes that took place after Contraband. They're all at my LJ (Homepage on my profile). I usually warn new readers to go read the story that came first (Contraband) so you don't spoil this for yourself. However, I think Libertad can work as a stand alone, you'll figure out what's going on pretty fast. Just check out the genres, so there won't be any surprises.
Murder is unique in that it abolishes the party it injures, so that society has to take the place of the victim and on his behalf demand atonement or grant forgiveness; it is the one crime in which society has a direct interest. –W. H. Auden
Tristan DuGrey jolted awake to the sound of his cell phone. He groaned a little as he reached over to the nightstand and squinted to see the readout glowing brightly in the dark bedroom. He sighed and put his head back down on the soft pillow. A few minutes later, the phone buzzed in his hand. He grudgingly accepted the call.
"What?" he mumbled drowsily.
"Are you on your way?" his partner, Mark Stevenson asked.
"I don't want to."
"Come on, it seems urgent."
"It always seems urgent."
"I'll be out the door in five minutes. I suggest you get a move on."
"Why do you hate me?"
"I'll see you there," Mark said before disconnecting the call.
Tristan sighed again and pushed the blankets away. He sat up and pulled on a pair of socks. When he stood to retrieve the rest of his clothes, there was movement from the other side of the bed.
"Are you sneaking out in the middle of the night?" a sleepy woman asked.
"Yes. But it isn't the middle of the night. It's morning."
"You aren't going to stay to make me breakfast?"
"When have I ever made you breakfast?" he asked.
Rory Gilmore thought a beat before answering. "Never. But you keep clean bowls in the cabinet and a choice of cereals."
"Okay, but we're at your apartment, so where does that leave us?"
"Yes to the cereal, no to the clean bowls."
"Mm-hmm. I could leave some money on the dresser if you want to get something before you go to work."
"I have to ask that you not do that."
"For one thing, it would put the women's movement back about four hundred years and then you'd have to arrest me."
"Oh, yeah. I love that I always have that option."
"What time is it?" Rory asked, sitting up.
"Early. Hence the darkness."
"Where do you have to go?"
"City College," Tristan answered, putting his dark pants on.
"But that's all the way up by Harlem."
"So, you're in the twenty-first precinct, City College is in Upper Manhattan, why would you have to go there?"
He shrugged. "Won't know until I get there."
"Was that Stevenson who called you?"
"How did he sound?"
"But did he sound like the victim was strangled?"
"I couldn't tell, his voice didn't convey that information."
"You should really get to know your partner more."
"You should really not talk so much in the morning . . . more," Tristan grumbled. "I'm thinking of writing to my congressman. No one should talk before seven—maybe eight—in the morning. I'd enforce that law."
Rory got up and went to her closet. Tristan already had it open to take a black shirt out. He furrowed his brows as he watched Rory in the dim light that came from the window. She took a skirt out of the closet and started taking off her nightgown.
"What are you doing?" he asked.
"Do you really need me to tell you that one, Detective?"
"I see you're getting dressed, but why? You don't have to be at work for a few more hours."
"I'm going along," she answered, buttoning a white blouse she'd just put on.
"Because, it's odd that you would have to go all the way to Upper Manhattan. I think it means it's related to one of your other cases. Maybe even the one from Wednesday."
"Why would you think that?"
"The part about it being so far north, how are you not getting this?"
"It's Manhattan, so it isn't that far. And you always want the homicides to be related. You just want a front page story for the Daily News," Tristan protested.
"No I don't. I'm just following up on a story. If it doesn't have anything to do with the Anderson strangulation case, I'll tell Jimmy to assign this one to someone else."
"Does you editor appreciate his reporters telling him what to do?"
"Not too much, but I do it anyway."
"Mmm," he mumbled before putting on his pants and tucking in his shirt.
Rory glanced over at him. "What are you doing?" she asked as she buttoned a grey vest that matched her pencil skirt.
"Do you really need me to tell you that one, Doll Face?"
"What are you wearing?"
"What color are your pants?"
"Grey. I think—it's too dark to tell," he answered absentmindedly as he tied his neck tie.
"You can't wear your grey suit."
"It looks like I can."
"But I'm wearing grey."
"So, it'll look like we coordinated it."
"But we didn't."
"Well, still. We can't show up to the same place matching. It would look . . . cute."
"You don't have to show up at all, you know. And we don't work at the same place. No one will notice."
"One of us has to change."
"I'm not changing, the only other suit I have here is the one I wore yesterday—I'm not doing the walk of shame. I think as long as we don't show up in our birthday suits, no one will care."
"No, really. I'm leaving in five minutes, with or without you. Use your time wisely."
"You're not that nice in the morning, anyone ever tell you that before?"
"You may have a time or two."
"Can we make it ten minutes?"
"No," he answered, walking out the door and to the bathroom across the hall.
"How about eight?" she called.
"You're wasting time negotiating. And it won't do any good."
Rory sighed in frustration. She twisted her hair into a fast—not fancy—bun before following him into the bathroom. He was already brushing his teeth when she put toothpaste on her own toothbrush. He finished before her and left the room. Rory grabbed some essential make up items and went back across the hall to get her shoes.
"You could have been making coffee, why are you bothering with the bed?" she asked.
"A person can only do so many push ups before he figures out he should just make the damn bed before he leaves in the morning."
Rory slipped a pair of heels on and they both left the room. She grabbed her purse when they passed the kitchen and stuffed the make up in it. They left the apartment and headed down to the street, where Tristan's black Camaro was parked in front of Olivia's art studio. He clicked the key remote to unlock the doors and tossed his suit jacket in the back seat.
"Try to drive smooth," she instructed. She looked in the mirror on the sun visor as she applied mascara to her lashes.
"I'll see what I can do," he answered, pulling away from the curb and turning on the light in his window. The siren turned on, as well. He drove quickly through the streets, occasionally using lanes that weren't necessarily his as he dodged the early birds on their way to work.
"Look, I bet that place serves coffee," Rory said longingly, pointing out the window.
"Can we get some?"
About fifteen later, Tristan parked as close as he could to the college campus and looked in the direction where some uniformed officers were headed. He grabbed his gun from under his seat and put it in the holster on his belt. They were both about to get out of the car when he turned back and grabbed her by the collar of her vest, pulling her over to him.
"Have a good day at work," he said, giving her a quick kiss.
"You too," she answered before frowning down at his tie. "Wait," she said as she started to untie it.
"Usually I'd love to, but I have to get going," he said furtively.
She shot him a grim look. "You can't wear a brown tie with black and grey. You'll clash," she said, showing him the tie.
"Oh. That's what I get for dressing in the dark. Maybe I should have worn my birthday suit after all."
"There, you're good."
He took the tie from her and tossed it in the back seat, then he grabbed his sunglasses and hung them from his shirt collar before getting out of the car. Rory got out too, but counted to ten before following Tristan. She may have only gotten to seven. When she caught up, Tristan was talking with Mark next to an NYPD squad car.
When the dark haired man saw Rory, he smiled. "Those police scanners are working so fast these days," he commented pleasantly.
"Yeah, I have a good one," she replied.
"And what's your excuse?" he asked Tristan, looking to his partner.
"Excuse for what?" It didn't sound like he wanted an answer.
Mark shook his head. "I see you're a delight in the pre-dawn hours."
"So I've heard," Tristan said wryly. He and Stevenson headed to the brick building where the homicide took place, Rory followed. She took her notepad and pen out of her purse.
"A janitor called it in. He got here about five o'clock this morning," Stevenson explained as they made their way down the sidewalk. He glanced back at Rory. "You know, I really hate it when she writes while I'm talking."
Tristan turned to her and grabbed the pen from her hand. She glared at him, annoyed, but didn't say anything. She just took another pen from her purse. The detectives ducked under the crime scene tape and Rory watched them enter the academic building.
A few other reporters started to show up, including a Channel 13 news van. The station shared a building with the New York Daily News, along with the Associated Press. One of the morning reporters got out of the van with her camera man and walked over to the yellow tape. It was Wendy Lu, a pretty Asian woman with long silky black hair. She was somewhere around Rory's age.
"More," she said with a nod in greeting to Rory.
"Lu," Rory said in return. They might share a building, but it didn't mean Wendy knew Rory didn't use her real name out in the field.
"It's pretty early, are you going to be able to handle it? I know how you guys at the Daily News usually stroll in when I'm half way through my day."
"I'll be just fine once I get some caffeine. And for your information, someone is almost always in the newsroom. But are you going to be able to handle a homicide? Aren't you missing a cat fashion show, or something?"
"This won't be difficult. The police will have to tell us what happened."
"They don't have to tell us anything. Actually, they'd prefer not to. I know how it works. You have to do a lot a legwork if you want a good story," Rory explained. "And if you don't have someone on the inside that's willing the talk, you'll just be repeating whatever vague statement the department spokesperson gives you."
"You mean journalists have contacts? What a novel idea," Wendy said sardonically. "I saw who you walked over with. I'd go to great lengths to make either one of them willing to talk."
"Sure," she went on with a nod. "Maybe that's how you always seem to have more details than anyone else."
"You've noticed that? I'm flattered," Rory said, ignoring the implication. "But it isn't all the time."
"Which further proves my point," Wendy continued. "When I saw you on the heels of the gorgeous detectives, I thought, maybe you have some sort of arrangement."
"Yeah, you know, the kind of reciprocal agreement where backs get scratched and whatnot. How else can you get stories first?"
"You think I have an arrangement with one of those detectives?" Rory asked in disbelief.
"The thought crossed my mind."
"One of those guys doesn't like reporters and the other one refuses to learn my name," Rory said impatiently. "And I'll have you know, that I'm a professional. If I write a better story than other reporters, it's because I work hard to investigate. And the police see enough of me that they trust me. Here's the four-one-one, I own the crime beat. Did you ever think of that?"
"Sure, I just don't believe it."
"Well, I suggest you start," Rory said shortly before walking away. Maybe Tristan was on to something with that no talking law.
She found a place to sit on the curb and read the title on the building. She pulled out her smartphone, knowing the detectives would be a while, and got down to work. She went to the school's website first and clicked on the science department. She wrote down the names and e-mail addresses of the dean and department chair, she'd need a statement from both. Then she made a list of the faculty. She went to Google and started searching. If it was an instructor who was killed, she'd have a head start. When she got about a third of the way down the list, she hit the jackpot. Her eyes widened as she read about one of the teachers.
"Oh my God," she said incredulously. She looked around to make sure no one could see what she was looking at. Wendy was occupied with an update for the morning news, she was talking into her microphone and the camera was rolling. She couldn't have very much information, Rory thought. But Wendy was interviewing a kid who must be a City College student. The brown haired guy had on gym shorts, a t-shirt, and tennis shoes—must be out on a jog, to be out this early, Rory thought.
Rory continued to read the results of her Google search until Detective Stevenson approached the yellow tape to speak with the media. She stood back up and walked over to the small crowd. She was in the back, but it wouldn't matter. It wasn't like Mark was going to give them a whole lot to work with, anyway.
"Who was killed, Detective?" Wendy jumped in first, before he could say anything.
"It was a City College student, but we aren't going to release the name until the family is notified."
"Do you know when the murder took place?" someone from the New York Post asked.
"Time of death is estimated to be some time between five and eight o'clock, yesterday evening. We'll know more later on."
Rory glanced over to Tristan, who was farther off to the left. He'd just finished speaking with the campus police. The sleeves of his black shirt were rolled to his elbows. He shoved his hands in his pockets and he squinted in the sunlight as he watched his partner address the media. She shot him a text, reminding him of the sunglasses he had with him. She watched him read the message and smile before he put his aviators on.
"Was it a break in?" another reporter asked.
"We don't believe so."
"How was the student killed?"
"We are not disclosing the cause of death at this time."
The inquiries continued, but Mark started to repeat himself as the reporters asked questions that he wasn't going to answer. Rory sent the blonde detective another text, letting him know how useless she found his partner. This time, she got a response: a picture of a dead body and a name to go with it. Stevenson was trying to make his getaway, so Rory made hers, too. She had a question, all right, but not one she was willing to ask in front of all the competition. She followed the yellow tape down the sidewalk and Tristan walked over to meet her.
"Did he draw the short straw?" she asked Tristan, jerking her head back at Mark.
"No. But paper beats rock," Tristan said with a grin.
"How did the kid die?"
Rory raised a brow at that. "Really?"
"Does the medical examiner know with what?"
"Probably a belt."
"Just like the homicide from Wednesday. I told you, you never believe me."
"Fine, you might be right this time. Maybe."
"Do you guys think it's a serial kill—"
"Shush," he said sternly. "Don't go blabbing that around here. We don't know enough to conclusively say it was the same person who killed Anderson a couple days ago."
"Fine. What can you tell me about Dr. Norman Greene?" she asked him.
His eyebrows furrowed angrily down at her. "How the fuck do you know about that?" he demanded. "I know Stevenson didn't say anything about him."
"Language, Detective," she reprimanded in surprise.
He glanced around and grabbed her upper arm tightly, pulling her farther down the sidewalk. "I'm serious, how the hell do you know about him?"
She held her phone up for him to see and his eyes got wide when he read results of her search.
He took his sunglasses off to be sure he was seeing right. "Holy shit."
"I know. I couldn't believe it when I read it. So, what's the deal?" she asked.
He didn't answer as he continued to read. Mark joined them after a couple minutes.
"Look at this," Tristan said, handing the phone to his partner.
His eyebrows shot up. "Are you serious?" he asked in disbelief. He turned to Tristan. "Can you keep a secret, like—at all?"
"Yes I can keep a secret. I didn't tell her, she found that herself."
"Uh, hello? Is someone going to tell me what the deal is with this guy? Other than the fact that he was charged with murder five years ago?"
"Shhh!" Tristan hissed at her. "Keep it down."
"The body was found in his office," he finally told her in a low voice.
Rory's jaw dropped. "Oh my God."
"And the building was locked when he was killed. Any chance you won't write about any of this?" he asked hopefully, handing back her phone.
"I can't not write about this. They will, when they find out," Rory said, nodding her head back to where the other reporters were still milling about. "And they will find out, as soon as they research the science department, like I did. It's not like I was using LexisNexis or any other sophisticated software. It was the school website and Google. Anyone could have found that."
"Can't you hold off, for a couple days?"
"I have a job to do, just like you. If I overlook something like this, it'll look like I'm doing a poor job. And if Dr. Greene shows up and you guys approach him, or drive him off in a squad car, those other vultures are going to be all over it."
"She's right about that," Mark said grudgingly.
"Fine. Do what you want," Tristan retorted unhappily.
"That's what I was planning. And it's not like I'm going to mention he's a suspect. But you're going to have your work cut out for you, if you want to keep it quiet." Tristan sighed heavily, knowing it was true. "Are you guys waiting for him to come into work?"
"Yeah. We know his office hours and spoke with the department chair. He should be in soon, if we go to his house now, we'll just miss him."
"That's if he shows up at all."
"He will. The dean called him." Tristan noticed a coffee cart opening for the day and went over to buy three cups. He walked back to the other two and they each took one.
"That's better," Rory said, sipping her coffee. She glanced back over to her contemporaries and inadvertently made eye contact with Wendy Lu. The woman raised a suspicious brow at Rory, so Rory turned back to the detectives. "I should go to the newsroom and get to work on this."
"See you later, Mary," Tristan said, watching her walk away.
Rory started walking to the street to hail a cab, but changed her mind and headed back to the campus instead. It'd been a while since she was last on a college campus, it wouldn't hurt to take a look around. She walked down the sidewalk and looked up at the gothic style buildings. She saw a box with a window in front of it next to one of the buildings. It had free copies of The Campus, the school newspaper. She took one out and skimmed the front page. Then she got an idea and looked at the bottom of the page, where the address of the school's newsroom was.
She continued walking. After some time, tired looking students started showing up for classes. She asked one of them where a building was and she was pointed in the right direction. She entered the building and found the newsroom on the ground floor. There were only a couple people there, sitting at their desks, typing on computers.
"May I help you?" one kid asked as he got up and approached Rory. He was tall, had dark hair, and Rory had a feeling he was the editor. Maybe it was because she'd been editor in college, but she could just tell. Or maybe it was the location of his desk.
"Hi, I'm Veronica More, from the Daily News," she said, holding her hand out for him to shake.
"Oh, hi. I'm Alex and I'm the editor here at The Campus. What can I do for you?"
"I'm covering a story about one of the students."
"The one who was killed in the science building?" he asked keenly.
"Yes. I was wondering if anyone here at the paper maybe knew him."
"Well, we don't know who the victim is yet. I sent one of our reporters over there, she isn't back yet."
"She might be waiting to see if anything else develops. The police are still there, talking with school officials. They didn't disclose the name, anyway."
"Oh," Alex said, looking confused. "Then how would we know the victim?"
"Well, I have a name."
"You do?" he asked eagerly. "Who was it?"
"You have to keep this to yourself until the police release the information."
"I'm serious. This is like, off-off the record."
"It was Aaron Wilson, did you know him?"
"No, but we could look him up on the student directory," he said, moving back to his desk. Rory followed and grabbed a chair to sit in. "All right, this says he's a graduate student, but it doesn't give us too much else. We could look on Facebook."
"It might not tell us a whole lot, either. Most people have the privacy set so only their friends can see everything."
"True, but it won't hurt," he said, clicking the mouse and going to the social networking site. "Okay, maybe you're right."
"But hold on, who's that girl in the profile picture with him?"
"I don't know, could be a girlfriend. I could ask around, see what I can find out."
"That would be great. Here's my card, call me any time," she said, taking a business card out of her purse and handing it over.
"So, you cover crime?"
"Yeah. I wrote about politics when I got out of college, but after a few years of it, I realized that politicians kind of suck. Plus, I wanted to give New York a try. I occasionally write an observational piece about politics, when the mood strikes. But then I get frustrated and don't write another one for a while," Rory explained.
"Well, New York City is the place to be if you're in the news business."
"True story. Oh, I just thought of something. Do you know what time the academic buildings get locked for the night?"
"How would someone be able to get into a building after that?"
"Teacher's assistants have fobs on their student ID's, I have one—"
"Because you're editor. I had one when I was editor of the Yale Daily News, in case I needed to get in at night or the over weekend."
"Oh, thanks. Is there any other way someone could get in?"
"A janitor could let someone in, or they could just be in the building when it gets locked."
"Did the murder take place after hours, then?"
"Did the police confirm that?"
"So, you know stuff that only the police know?"
"Did you sneak into that building when they weren't looking, or something?"
"No, someone told me."
"The police must like you, to tell you so much."
"Well, it only takes one."
"I have sources on campus, you know."
"So, if you need anything while covering this story, I'd be happy to help."
"I would love your assistance."
"Here's my number, just let me know what you need. I know student workers all over campus. And if I don't know someone, chances are some else here does."
"Then I will definitely be in contact with you."
Tristan and Mark were waiting in the lobby of the science building with the department chair, Dr. Bradford. The school official stood and nodded toward the door, indicating Dr. Greene's arrival. The detectives stood as well and approached the grey haired man, who was in his mid sixties. They showed Dr. Greene their badges, and the man looked concerned.
"Dr. Greene, I'm Detective Stevenson and this is Detective DuGrey. We're here to investigate a murder that took place here last night."
The color drained from the man's face. "I don't know anything about it."
"Do you know why Aaron Wilson would be in your office?" Tristan asked.
Dr. Greene furrowed his brows in thought. "No, I don't even know who that is."
"He isn't one of your students?"
"I don't think so."
"I'll go check the class schedules," Dr. Bradford offered anxiously, walking to his office.
"What's going on here? Was someone in my office?" Dr. Greene asked, worried.
Tristan nodded. "A student was found dead in there."
"I'll cooperate in whatever way you need me to, but I want my lawyer. I waited too long last time and I'm not making that mistake again."
"We'd like to speak with you at the precinct."
The man nodded and went to make a call.
"At least we know what he was referring to," Tristan commented.
A moment later, Dr. Bradford returned. "Aaron Wilson isn't one of our students. He isn't taking any science courses this semester. I've called the Registrar's office. They say he's a graduate mathematics student. A teacher's assistant."
"Do you have any idea why he'd be in your department, then?" Mark asked.
"I have no idea," the man answered. "I've made a call to the security company. They'll get the surveillance video to you some time today."
Rory walked to her desk at the newsroom and plopped down in her seat. She sighed tiredly and looked to the desk next to her, where her colleague, Marie, was sitting.
"Morning," Marie said in greeting.
"Is it still morning? I've been up for hours."
"Well, that's what you get when you assign yourself stories," Marie said.
Just then, their editor, James West approached them. "Gilmore, what've you got for me?"
"A student at City College was strangled in the science building," she answered.
"Strangled? Another one?"
"Do they think it's the same per—"
Rory shrugged. "I didn't get to ask, I just wanted to get in on the shushing. I'll write up what I have so far. The name probably won't be released until this afternoon, though. The family has to be notified."
"So, who was it?" James inquired.
"What makes you think I know? I just told you, a name wasn't released yet," she reminded him. He didn't say anything. "I don't always know," Rory insisted, but her editor just continued to stare at her. "Aaron Wilson, he was a grad student."
"That's better, see what you can find," he instructed before walking away.
Marie watched James leave before turning back to Rory. "Is that all you found out?"
"No." Rory typed a name into the database on her computer and waited for the results.
"Well, out with it."
"I know he was found in an instructor's office."
Rory turned her screen to the right. "This one."
Marie read the headline Rory pulled up. "Whoa, so he's been down this road before."
"It looks that way. Feel like making a trip to court this afternoon?"
"But first, I'm starving. Is it lunch time yet?"
Marie checked her watch. "It's still pretty early. But close enough for jazz. Let's go down to the cafeteria." They both stood and started to walk out of the newsroom.
"You know who I saw at the crime scene?" Rory asked gloomily.
"That was a leap."
"Well tell me!"
"I will, I'm just waiting for you to stop guessing."
"You told me to."
"I don't think I did."
"Maybe you're right. Who did you see?"
"Oh man. I strongly dislike her."
"I hate having to share an elevator with her. She looks so smug, just because she's on television."
"I know, like we have any desire to get up at the crack of dawn to cover fluff pieces."
"Seriously. It would have made a better story if it was one of my guesses."
They entered the first floor cafeteria and went over to where the food was kept. Rory picked up a bagel and went over to the toaster. When her bagel popped up, she loaded it with cream cheese and went to pour herself a cup of coffee. Marie met back up with Rory at the check out line and they picked one of the many empty tables.
"So, I guess this afternoon I'll be finding out what I can about the student and the professor."
"Is there anything new on Vernon Anderson?" Marie asked.
Rory shook her head. "I don't think so. He was at a work event Wednesday evening, went home, but didn't make it inside the house. The only clue the police have is a footprint in the mud."
"Good thing it's be raining so much, or they wouldn't have that either."
"Yeah. His wife was out of the state for a convention and no one in the neighborhood saw anything. At least, no one has said anything."
"The detectives haven't found anything odd in his finances or e-mails?"
"I'm not sure. They're probably still waiting on the subpoenas."
"Are you going to try to find a connection between the two strangulations?"
"Of course, if I can. I mean, why else would DuGrey and Stevenson be assigned as the primaries on the homicide this morning? It's out of their precinct's boundaries. That's why I went, anyway."
Tristan was seated at a table across from the professor and his defense lawyer. Mark was standing next to a wall off to the side with his arms crossed, observing the interview.
"Can you tell us what you did yesterday afternoon?" Tristan asked.
"I taught a biology class. It was the lab portion, from three o'clock until five. Then I went back to my office to get my things before leaving. I went home for about an hour, for dinner, and then I returned to work in the lab."
"Did you go back up to your office?"
"Only to get some research. I was in the lab until . . . just before seven," Dr. Greene answered.
"Did you lock the office after you got the research?"
"I believe I did," he answered, before thinking a moment more. "Oh no. I left it unlocked in case I needed to go back, but then I didn't need to. I finished up in the lab and just went back home. I completely forgot to lock the door again."
"You took your research with you?"
"Yes, it's in my brief case now."
"Was there anyone else in the lab with you?"
"There were a couple of teacher's assistants from the department. They must have been working on an assignment."
"When were they there?"
"They came in after I was there and only worked for a short time. I think from five thirty until six thirty. I left after them, a little before seven."
"Were they in the lab the whole time?"
"Do you know who the students were?"
"By sight. If I saw them again, I'd be able to pick them out."
"Were you in the lab the whole time?"
"Yes. Although, I did go next door, to the adjoining lab for supplies. I was in there for about five, maybe ten minutes."
"Did you use your code to unlock the lab?"
"Yes. I used it to go next door, too."
"Did you see anyone else in the building when you were there last night?"
"Do you know why someone would be looking in your file cabinet—the one with research?"
"I have no idea. I'm not working on anything that's particularly controversial. I especially don't know why a math student would be in my office, looking for something."
"What were you wearing?" Tristan asked.
"What was I wearing?" the man asked, confused. When Tristan nodded, he answered. "I changed when I went home. I put on jeans and a t-shirt. Why?"
"Did you have a belt on?"
"Detectives," Dr. Greene's lawyer chimed in. "Do you have any other evidence against my client?"
"No," Tristan answered. "But we'll be reviewing the surveillance videos this afternoon. And we'll check the lab for who went in when. We'll let you know if there's anything else we need from him."
"Very well. I do hope you two do a better job of investigating."
"I'm sure you've heard by now that Dr. Greene was charged with murder a few years back."
"Yes, it's come to our attention."
"That ruined my reputation," the professor said. "If this goes anything like that did, I'll be forced to retire."
"It seemed," the lawyer said, "that the detectives could not find who did commit the crime, so they went to work trying to make a case against my client. I can assure you, detectives, this is an innocent man. They didn't have any evidence. I hope I won't have to do your job as well as mine this time."
"You won't," Tristan said before they all left the small room.
When the professor and his legal counsel were gone, Tristan and Mark's superior, Captain Meyer, approached them. He was a balding middle aged man, looking professional in his brown suit. "I called the twenty-fourth precinct," he told them. "They're going to send over the evidence they had from Greene's previous case."
"Are the surveillance videos here yet?" Mark asked.
"Yes. They came about ten minutes ago, let's take a look."
Rory walked though the art studio and waved at Olivia on her way to the back door. She pulled her phone out and used the speed dial as she walked at a snail's pace up the stairs.
"Do you know how many steps there are to get upstairs at the art studio?"
"I want to say fourteen."
"Whatever the amount, it's too many."
"You should call the building owners and ask them to put in an elevator."
"No, they'd actually look for a way to do it."
"You just now getting in?"
"Yes," she answered as she reached the top of the stairs. "Whew, now I know how Rocky must have felt."
"You worked late tonight."
"You're one to talk. You're still at the precinct, probably sitting at your desk."
"Why do you think that?"
"Because you answered in your work voice and didn't say hello," she answered as she unlocked the door and went into her apartment. She kicked off her heels and sat her purse on the island in the kitchen as she passed it on the way to her bedroom.
"What does my work voice sound like?"
"Like your time is really valuable and I need to say what I have to say quickly so you can get back to what you were doing."
"All that in a greeting over the phone?"
"Yup. If only you could pick up the skill, then you'd be able to tell how victims are killed, just from Stevenson's voice."
"Uh, yeah, I have plenty other skills. And it's not like he knows that stuff before me, anyway. So what do Lucy and Olivia have planned for the evening?"
"I'm not sure. But I do know that I'm going to need a nap first. I really hope it isn't something that involves a cover charge or a strobe light. Or techno music."
"Did being on a college campus today make you feel old?"
"Totally, it was depressing. Those kids were so much younger than me. I haven't even gone to graduate school yet. I'm going to look so old when I get around to it."
"Don't worry. People further their education at all points of their career. Not everyone prolongs adulthood after earning a bachelor's degree."
"Huh, I just remembered something."
"Before I graduated from Yale, I was freaking out because everyone had big plans—Olivia and Lucy were brazenly moving to New York. Paris had been accepted to every law and medical school imaginable. And there I was, without a plan, without a job. I actually considered applying to law school."
Tristan paused for a beat. "Did you?"
"That's interesting. Where would you have done that?"
"I don't know. The thought only lasted about four seconds."
"Then you came to your senses?"
"Yeah, it didn't seem like my cup of tea."
"But, if I had to pick, I'd probably want the best."
Rory had a feeling he was smirking on the other end. "That would make sense, since I've never been able to shake Paris. But I hear Yale has a pretty good law school. And I do love Yale."
"Eh, it's overrated."
"Hey, anyone who went to Yale is very intelligent."
"Or a legacy."
"Simmer down, I wasn't talking about you."
"All right then."
"You do love Yale though. Too bad you didn't stick around for a few more years. You could have all kinds of legal knowledge taking up space in that pretty little noggin of yours."
"Yeah, too bad. But I think everything worked out. Oh, hold on. I'm getting another call," Rory said, checking the caller ID. "So much for a nap, it's my mom."
"Okay. Have fun with the girls."
"I will. Don't fall asleep at your desk, Harvard," she said before accepting the other call. "Hello?"
"Hey, what are you doing?" Lorelai asked.
"Lying on my bed."
"How is that dirty?"
"Are you with a man? Or alleged man?"
"No. I'm all alone."
"Oh, all right. Not so dirty, then. Why are you in bed already? Are you sick? Do I need to come take care of you? I'd be willing to miss Friday night dinner for you, if you need me."
"I'm fine. And I'm not in bed, just on it. I had a long day—thirteen hours."
"Geez, that is long. What time did you get up, five?"
"Close to it."
"Now that's dedication."
"Tell me about it. I was just trying to get some rest before a girl's night with Olivia and Lucy."
"Oh, that sounds fun. You know who loves a good girl's night?"
"I don't know, you?"
"Yes! You should come home next weekend and we'll have one."
"I was just there last weekend. And I might have to go into work next Saturday, I'm going in tomorrow."
"You used to love me. You used to see me every day, not just once or twice a month. What happened to those days?"
"I became a grown up."
"Well, you shouldn't have done that."
"Sorry, I didn't really get a say in it, myself. And I didn't have any fairy dust to fly to Neverland."
"Think about it still, maybe you'll change your mind."
"I'll do that."
"I'm serious. Luke will be moving April out of her dorm next weekend, and I could send Sam with him."
"You'd send a six year old to 'help' just so we could have a girl's night?"
"Yes, see, that's dedication to a first born."
"I'd hate for you to ever be in a Sophie's Choice-type situation."
"I'd choose you."
"I hope you tell us both that."
"Yup, just not at the same time. So, where did we land on next weekend?"
"I'll think about it."
"That's all I can ask for," Lorelai said. "I'll let you rest."
"Okay. Bye, Mom."
"All right, so Greene was in the science building at the time of the murder. He was working in the lab at the time," Captain Meyer said.
Tristan was sitting on the edge of his desk with his arms crossed, speaking with his boss. His partner was not there yet. "Right. The labs and classrooms are on the first floor of the building and the teachers' offices are all on the second floor. The back door of the building is where teachers and grad students can get in with their fob and their four digit code. They need it to get into the lab, too."
"Did you guys get to talk to all the graduate science students?"
"Yeah. None of them knew Aaron Wilson, though. And it doesn't matter, really, since the tape shows him going into the front doors before five o'clock. He wouldn't have needed anyone from the department to get in."
"The medical examiner estimates the time of death around six thirty. We know Greene was in the building at the time. If the prints in his office only match his and Wilson's, will that be enough to ask Jacobs for an arrest warrant?"
Tristan shook his head. "No. We need to find the other kid in the surveillance video. He came in with Aaron, he's probably the last one who saw him alive," he explained as Mark approached the desk that was pushed against Tristan's.
"I spoke with the dean and the department chair," the captain said. "He's having all his staff members come in to his office to help you guys identify the kid today."
Tristan looked over to his partner. "You ready to go?"
"Yup," Mark answered.
Rory was sitting at her desk in the newsroom, reading a transcript from Dr. Norman Greene's first murder trial. There were two. The first was a mistrial and the second ended in a hung jury. From what Rory had read so far, the prosecution was working with practically no evidence. She turned the page when her office phone started to ring.
"Newsroom," she answered.
"Is this Veronica More?" a young man asked.
"Okay, good. This is Alex, the editor of The Campus, we spoke yesterday morning."
"Yes, I remember."
"I have something you might find interesting."
"All right, what is it?"
"It's Aaron Wilson's schedule. I know someone who knows someone who works in the Registrar's office."
"You're right, I would find that interesting. Do you have access to a fax machine?"
"Yeah, I'm in the newsroom here on campus, where would you like me to send it?"
Rory gave Alex the number of the Daily News's fax machine, thanked him, and got up to go retrieve the document. After it came through, she went back to her desk and perused the information on the sheet.
"Huh," she said, frowning down at the schedule.
"What?" Marie asked, glancing over at Rory.
"This is Aaron Wilson's schedule," she answered, handing over the paper.
"He sure was taking a lot of math classes."
"Yeah, in fact, only math classes. He wasn't in any science classes at all. Why would he have been in the science building after hours, then?"
"Snooping in Dr. Greene's office, apparently."
Marie shrugged. "Heck if I know."
"Well, I have another department to look into now," Rory said.
"I doubt you'll find anything half as juicy as an instructor who was already accused of murder."
"Probably not. Did you get a chance to read some of the articles about that case?"
"Only a couple. I had to type up a report—it took me a while. Why?"
"Well, the victim that was killed five years ago, he was strangled."
"That doesn't sound good for Greene."
"No, I'm half way through the first trial. But so far, there hasn't been any hard evidence presented to the jury. It's just very circumstantial."
"Maybe the D.A. was just saving up the good stuff for later."
"Maybe," Rory said doubtfully.
A couple hours later, Tristan and Mark were standing in Dr. Bradford's office. The dean was there, as well. They were watching the surveillance video. They watched as, Aaron Wilson walked into the science building just before five o'clock with another guy, looking to be college age. Around six thirty-five, the other kid walked out of the front entrance, but alone.
There had been a second video, one from the camera at the back of the building. It was the video that showed Dr. Greene entering the building at six o'clock and leaving just before seven. It also showed the two teacher's assistants that were in the lab at the same time as Greene.
The science faculty was taking turns watching the tape, in an attempt to identify the kid that came in with Wilson. Problem was, he was wearing a green hat, making it difficult to see his face.
"I can't tell who it is," a middle aged man with grey hair said, squinting at the television.
"Have you ever seen the other kid, the one without a hat, in the building?" Stevenson asked.
"No, I've never seen him before. Sorry."
"Thanks anyway," Mark said, indicating the man could leave. Before he got out the door, he turned. "I don't think Norman did it, he loves the students here, and he'd never do something like this."
Two more teachers walked in, this time two woman. One was younger, in her late thirties, the other woman a bit older. Tristan's phone buzzed and he stepped out of the office to answer while Stevenson played the tape for the women.
"See, that's the voice I was talking about. Your work voice."
"Make it quick, I'm in the middle of something."
"Hey, that's the same thing I said the other night."
"Very funny. Now, you're wasting time. What do you need?" Tristan asked Rory, glancing back into the office.
"I don't think the professor did it."
"Didn't do what?"
"Kill the guy five years ago. I've been reading the court transcript all morning."
"That's nice. But I'm investigating a recent homicide, not a cold case. And even if I was, I would need more than your opinion and the shysters' spin on what happened."
"I know, I'm just saying. He's been in a bad spot before, maybe it happened again. He could have some incredibly bad luck when it comes to this kind of stuff."
"That's some extremely bad luck."
"Mm-hmm. You want to know what else I found out today? It's pretty interesting."
"What?" he asked, glancing back into the office, ready to end the call.
"I found out that Aaron Wilson had no business being in the science building. Ever."
"Yeah, he was a graduate math student and a teacher's assistant."
"That is interesting."
"I suppose you already knew that?"
"Since yesterday morning."
"But I'm very impressed—as always—that you figured it out all on your own."
"You're at work then?"
"Yeah. How long are you going to be?"
"An hour or two. Will you be there still?"
"I can be."
Mark stuck his head out of the office. "DuGrey, get back in here," he said.
"See you then, got to go," Tristan said into the phone before hanging up and pocketing the device. He stepped back into the office just as the two women finished watching the video for a second time.
"Doesn't he look like that kid who sits in the lobby sometimes?" the younger woman asked her colleague. She darted her eyes toward the department chair.
"On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays?" the older woman asked.
"Yeah, he always has that green hat on. Do you know whose class he's here for?"
"I'm not sure, but he's definitely in the lobby every other afternoon before class."
Around one thirty, Tristan and Rory walked into his twelfth floor apartment in Midtown, Manhattan. It was a modest sized one bedroom apartment. Rory made her way to the right, where the living room was, with a flat screen television and comfy furniture. She plopped down on the couch and propped her feet up on the coffee table.
Tristan sat down too, and looked at her. "Want to wrestle?" he asked with a smirk.
"Maybe later," she answered with a smile. "I'm too tired now."
"Uh-oh. I better make some coffee then, the day isn't over yet."
"Coffee sounds like it'll do the trick," she said.
Tristan got back up and went to the adjoining room. "Want to play Nintendo?"
"Sure. What game do you want to play?"
"The one with the Italian guys. I think I'm better at that one than the one with the monkeys."
"You aren't, but okay. Super Mario World it is," Tristan said as he waited for the coffee to brew. When it was finished, he poured two cups and took them over to the couch, handing one to Rory. She took a grateful sip and sat it down on the coffee table. Tristan took his turn on the game first.
"I read your report in the paper this morning."
"And what did you think?"
"I think you got all the facts right."
"I'd be a pretty terrible reporter if I didn't. Especially since you told me exactly what the facts were."
"I also noticed that you didn't mention anything about Greene's previous charges."
"No, not yet, anyway."
"So you reconsidered giving it a day or two?"
"Don't get too excited. I wasn't doing you any favors," she said, taking the court transcripts out of her bag and setting them on the table in front of Tristan.
When he completed the first level, he glanced down at the thick document. "Transcripts?"
"Yeah, I'm still reading the first one, there're two. Did you know there were two trials?"
"Yeah, but I don't know all the details yet. Everything from that case is going to be delivered to the precinct. Hopefully it doesn't take them forever to get it to us."
"From what I've read, there won't be much evidence."
"Ah, something to look forward to."
"Anyway, I didn't want to write something with half-assed research. I'd rather wait a day or two to get it right, rather than do a sloppy job of it before everyone else. You can read through those, if you want."
"Sure. I'll peruse them tomorrow," he said, looking at Rory pointedly. "You know, after my turn, it's your turn."
"Oh, yeah," she said hastily, putting her coffee down and picking up her controller.
"Whoa, where's the fire, Luigi?" he asked once she'd started her turn.
"I like to see him run fast. His arms just fly behind him."
"Yeah, cool. You fell down that hole really fast, too. It was awesome."
"Oh well. I'll get it next time."
"That a way to think positive," he said, picking his controller back up. "What did you girls do last night?"
"Thankfully, we had a movie night."
"What did you watch?"
"So it was an all-night movie night."
"It did run pretty late."
"That must be why you're so tired now."
"Or, maybe it's because I work so hard."
"Sure, but I'm going to go with the late night thing."
"Hmm." Rory took her turn. Tristan watched her with furrowed brows as she moved the controller up and down when Luigi jumped. The little man dressed in green didn't jump far enough. "I don't think this would keep happening if you let me be Mario."
"I disagree," he said dryly. "Now I want to watch a movie with the Italian Mob. Let's watch Goodfellas later."
"Fine. But if you ever ask me to hide a gun for you, I think we're going to have to call it quits."
"If you told me that Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro are really in the Italian Mob, I'd believe you."
"I'd believe it, too."
Rory looked disappointedly at the television. "Ah man, my game is over already," she lamented before brightening. "Do I have to start back at the beginning again? Because I think I'm getting good at that first level."
"You don't have to. Unless it'll boost your self-esteem."
"Level one it is, then."
"Come on, Rory. It's time to go," Tristan called down the hall. He was in the kitchen and ready for dinner. He was freshly showered and shaved and was wearing a dress shirt and blazer with his slacks.
"I'm almost ready!" Rory yelled back.
"We're going to be late. We'll miss our reservation and have to sit at the bar."
"What time is the reservation for?"
"We have plenty of time. Don't be so dramatic."
"I'm not being dramatic. I'm being hungry."
"I bet you could get us there, even if we were running late."
"How would I do that?"
"You know—if it was an emergency."
"It isn't. So what are you referring to?"
"That handy siren and light you have on your car."
"Oh, that sounds like a good idea. Then you can write a nice article about the cops in this town abusing their privileges."
"You think I'd do that?"
"I'm quite certain you would."
"It must be a real drag to date me."
"Pretty much," he said as Rory walked down the hall.
She had on a knee length black skirt and a red blouse with a thick black belt. She smiled slyly when she saw Tristan, who looked her up and down appreciatively. "Oh good, I don't have to ask how I look."
"Because of your face. I'm pretty confident I'm going to get lucky later tonight."
"It isn't later yet. You're going to need shoes for now."
Rory looked down. "Oh, yeah. Probably so," she said, scampering back to the bedroom. She came back a moment later, wearing heels, and passed the kitchen in a hurry. "Come on, we don't want to be late," she exclaimed. "Think about what you want, I'm getting chicken."
Tristan rolled his eyes and shook his head, following Rory to the door as she opened it.
She paused for a moment and turned back. "If Ray Liotta is at the restaurant tonight, we'll have to leave."
He nodded in agreement. "That's probably a good general rule to follow in life," he said as they walked out of the apartment.