As Far as I Could

T = 0

"Couldn't Harry help?"

"She's offered me a bed at her place… but you know how it is between us."

"It wouldn't have to be for long, though. Just a month or so until you're really on your feet."

"Yeah, you're right… I probably should."

T + 1 DAY

Greg looked at the phone. They'd had a hard time prying it from the dead man's fist since he'd clenched his hand around the phone in his pocket like it was a lifeline.

"Is the taxi driver in custody?"

"Yes, sir."

"Name?"

"Jefferson Hope."

"Well, at least it won't be hard to convict him. Even if we hadn't caught him nearly red-handed we'd have enough evidence from those texts."

"Yes."

"And we should look into this, too." Greg held up the phone with its unsent text message that read "nolfui."

"His fingers were probably spasming."

"He was sending text messages the whole time he talked with… what was his name again? Hope?"

"Yes."

"So, we're going to see if we can't decipher it." Greg looked down at the still body. "Such a shame. He was so young. And a brilliant detective."

"Brilliant? He was a psychopath! If he hadn't been risking his own life, he would've been after someone else's."

"He was a great man, Donovan. A great man. And who knows? He might've become a good one, if he'd had more time. Anyway, we're done here. Already got a call from his brother, so no need to notify the family."

As Greg walked back to the car, he thought about the dead man's face. He'd seen the faces of many murder victims before, and the vast majority of them had looked frightened. He wondered why he wasn'tsurprised that this one was no exception.

T + 5 YEARS

Two men were sat across from one another at a table in the pub. One stared at his untouched beer while the other fiddled with his own glass and looked uncomfortably around the room.

The first man spoke: "Well, it's final."

The second looked at him. "Unless you count the custody case."

"I'm not going to fight her. She's right. I can't take care of two two-year-olds."

"She's not…"

"It's true. Look at me! I can't hold down a job to support them, much less… play football with them… coach rugby. You know, my dad taught me to play. I always thought I'd teach my kids before… But I was almost angry when I found out she was going to have twin boys."

"Hmm."

"And now… what'll I do? I'd re-enlist if they'd have me… but…"

They both nursed their beers for a few more minutes. Finally the second man sat up and drained his glass. "Come on. Kate will be furious if I don't get back soon."

The first man picked up his drink in his left hand, and switched it to his right with a frustrated oath as foam sloshed over the top of the shaking glass. He took one pull at it, and then replaced it on the table. "Sometimes… Sometimes I wonder if you didn't waste your time on me, Bill."

"Don't say that, mate."

His only reply was a sigh as he hoisted himself up on his cane, and limped towards the door.

T + 6 YEARS

Mycroft looked at the photographs from the bomb site. That was his brother's scarf. No one had realized that it should have been at the crime scene six years ago, but whoever had sponsored Hope had saved it for all that time. Mycroft looked again for anything the police might have missed. He'd send Jones with a team to take more detailed photographs and collect better evidence. He looked up at a knock on his door.

"Sir, this call is for you."

She held out… his brother's phone? No. But the same model and color. Practically an antique now.

Even before he put the phone to his ear, he could hear the gasping sobs of a woman on the other end of the line.

She did not speak, so he began. "Hello?"

"Hello… sexy…"