How many? How many could have been saved? If only the parents had taken their heads out of their butts every once in a while, hadn't cared so much about their precious reputations. Then maybe their children could have been spared. Maybe Jimmy and Linda wouldn't have died. And maybe they wouldn't have been 'foolish' as Mrs. Bromstad so crudely put it, and a young boy just trying to be accepted wouldn't have had to die. Then maybe, just maybe, Kurt thought, he wouldn't be staring down a desperate Tracy Malon determinedly pointing a gun at a cowering John Tourneau, poised to take the shot that would end both their lives.
By the time Kurt had reached the cabin, Tracy was already inside. Whether she climbed in a window or came in the side door, hell she could've walked in the front door for as observant as these officers seemed to be. The officer that had been assigned to Tourneau had his own gun leveled at Tracy, so Kurt had yet to draw his. He didn't want to kill the girl. He didn't want anyone else to die.
"You know now, don't you," Tracy announced when she registered Kurt's presence.
"About your brother," Kurt replied. "That's what this is about, isn't it? Getting everything out in the open. That's why you laid them out on the carpets. So they could be seen."
"They covered it up!" she screamed. "Swept it under the rug like Casius was dirt. All so their precious little killers wouldn't tarnish their good name!" Her arm began to shake with tension of her grip on the gun.
Kurt's hands had crept up into a universal non-threatening gesture. "They can't do that now," he said. "Not this time. We'll tell them. We'll tell everyone. No one else has to die." His eyes flicked to the kneeling form of Tourneau who was trembling so violently that the floorboards creaked with the vibration. He prayed to God that he wasn't lying to the girl, but he knew the bureaucratic system well enough. Justice rarely played a part.
"They even gave us money!" she continued as though she hadn't heard Kurt's plea. "We didn't want to take it. It was disgusting!" she spat, her teeth gritted with every word. "But mum was sick. We had to take the money."
Damn. So this wasn't just about getting it out in the open. If it was Tracy really could stop here. Kurt would know, the Ystad police would know, she'd have already done what she needed. But without doubt, Kurt thought, Tracy had to watch her mother deteriorate in both body and soul as the grief of losing a child took its toll. He knew that the moment Tracy decided to pull that trigger there was nothing he could say to make up for her pain, nothing he could do to stop her.
Out of the corner of his eye Kurt suddenly caught movement and risked the briefest of glances to the kitchen door. Magnus was there, peering out through the slats, but Tracy hadn't seen him as her back was flush with the door. The kid was reliable, Kurt had to give him that. They'd have one shot at this and he just hoped Magnus was on the same page.
"Your mother wouldn't have wanted this," Kurt said quickly. "She wouldn't want more to die."
Tracy's head pivoted toward Kurt like the snap of a whip. Her eyes pierced his with barely contained rage. "It doesn't matter what she wants! She didn't want to get sick! She didn't want her son dead! She doesn't want to die! But they've all happened or will happen very soon. So it never really mattered, what we wanted." The hopelessness of her last words was breathtakingly sad as her eyes cascaded to the ground. It tore at Kurt's very soul to see it; but it was the exact reaction he needed.
The kitchen door flew open and slammed into Tracy's back as Magnus hefted his entire body into it. A wild shot rang out as they both hurtled to the floor. John Tourneau had curled up into a fetal position with his arms wrapped firmly around his head, but he hadn't been hit. The shot went high and wide, completely avoiding him and settling in the wood of the wall behind him. The gun also flew out of Tracy's hand when she impacted with the floor. Kurt grabbed hold of her, keeping her pinned as the officer who had his gun on her now had his cuffs out and was latching them to her wrists. The moment that was done, Kurt left her to the man and instead turned his attention toward Magnus. The younger agent had pulled himself upright into a seated position, but his eyes were steadily fixed on the floorboards as he attempted to take in slow, deep breaths.
"Are you alright?" asked Kurt as he kneeled in front of his partner.
Magnus began to nod then thought better of it. "Yeah," he replied. "I just got a bit dizzy. I'm fine now." Kurt smiled in relief and gently patted Magnus' head. It was his version of saying 'a job well done'. He then held his hand out to grip Magnus' and lumbered to his feet pulling the other detective with him. The pair looked on as the officer led Tracy down the hall. She screamed and pulled at the man saying that it wasn't fair, that they had killed her brother, that they had destroyed her mother. Kurt found that he couldn't disagree, but what was worse was that he didn't know whether to be saddened that these things had happened, or comforted that she hadn't done them without reason.
"Hey Magnus," he said, not taking his eyes off of Tracy.
"Yeah," Magnus replied, his gaze too remaining fixed.
"When we get back to Ystad…"
"Go see your mum."
"Looks like your case made the front page," declared Anne-Brit as she plopped a newspaper down on Kurt's desk. It had been four days since they had returned From Varmland. At Kurt's suggestion, Magnus had taken the following three days off. Today he was back and though still looking a bit strained, he appeared far more rested than he did during the case. Now he sat at a corner desk peering curiously at Kurt as the senior detective read the article.
"Well, I suppose Tracy got what she wanted," Kurt said. "The truth is out for everyone to see."
Anne shook her head. "It's a sad business that," she said. "She really committed those murders just to have her brother's story told?"
Kurt sighed and swung his arm over his head to rub at the back of his neck. "She felt like there was no other way. Even Chief Schmidt was in on the cover up. She had nowhere else to turn."
Ann nodded. "Still, it's nice up in the country. Did you boys get in any male bonding time?" she asked with a teasing smile.
The twin glares she received were comedic. "No!" the pair stated in unison and proceeded to turn their heads away; Kurt returning to the papers on his desk and Magnus staring intently at his computer screen. She didn't miss, however, the fond smiles that quirked up on both of their lips. She let out an exasperated sigh. "Men," she declared and with that, walked out of the room.
Oh my gosh! I finished it. Thank you all so much for sticking with me through the long haul. You all have been so wonderful.
P.S. Reviews are still welcome and greatly desired. I want to know what you guys think about the story as a whole. Thanks!