Whoo, I'm back a lot quicker than last time, and with a longer chapter as well. Don't expect that it's going to be as long as this usually, although we never know. I wanted to get everything moving as fast as possible for this story now, as we enter into another act of this play.

Thank you so much to ghostdrunk and Anla'shok for your reviews, and for reading the chapter. I had been quite a while since I last updated but I'm back on track now and definitely want to continue with it. Hope you enjoy the chapter as much as I liked writing it.

Disclaimer: Not Mine

Chapter 11: Churches and Countdowns


The doors of the Cavalli household burst open, Leon walking inside the house, before pulling out a pad of paper and pen and placing it down in front of Margaret Cavalli, "I want the names of all of the people that Marie was closest to when she was in your group," he told her quickly, and she looked startled at his request, "I apologise, Mrs Cavalli, I know how this might infringe on confidentiality, but we have three hours to find out who Marie's next victim is and we need to find her accomplice, so any name that popped into your head can you please just write it down,"

"Of course," she nodded, "I still keep the registers of every group meeting. It was ten years ago, I'd have to remember who was at the sessions," she rose gracefully from where she was sitting, "They're all saved onto my computer," she picked up a slim laptop, before switching it on, "You know it's funny, Marie was the one that got me into keeping meticulous records of everything that we did. She always hated when everything wasn't laid out and easy to access," Leon nodded hastily, waiting impatiently as she brought up the documents, "Right, these were the people that came to the meetings, but I have to warn you that mostly they aren't the women's real names, anonymity is very often,"

"We just need a name," he informed her, his eyes scanning rapidly down on the list, "Does any of these names jump out at you? Any at all," the woman shifted slightly, clearly uncomfortable with the attention and the pressure placed on her. Leon sighed, "Listen, it doesn't matter whether you choose more than one name on the list. We're looking for more than one person anyway. So there is no pressure for you to give us these names. We still have time," Margaret didn't react and he moved into her vision, "All you have to do is give us a few names from what you can remember," she stared into his eyes, "Just a small little thing, nothing difficult. You can do that for us,"

"You sound like her, you know," Leon felt an icy flush pour through him as he stared at her, "Using words to manipulate people into what you want them to do. It's not your fault, but you do it so well, just like Marie," he straightened up, folding his arms, "I think the reason that you're so obsessed with catching her and her accomplice is because you're afraid of the fact that you are just like her. You'll try and hide it, but you and Marie are two peas in a pod,"

Leon gestured to the document stiffly, ignoring the look from Korsqq, "The document if you will," he said icily and Mrs Cavalli nodded sharply, turning back to look at the laptop, "Now, we're looking for women that Marie would have taken aside to talk to, either before or after the sessions," he instructed, "Like she talked to Antonia Kentwood, Sara Luxembourg and Rachel Lighthower. People that she might have mentioned to you that needed more personal mentoring or counselling. Someone who must have come more than one,"

The woman scanned through the lists, "Marie wasn't much of a talker," she answered, "She preferred to listen very carefully to every speaker and then offer some consolation to them at the end of every session," she scrolled down the page, "However…" Mrs Cavalli frowned a little, before pointing to a name, "I think…" Leon leaned in closer to look at the name, "I think…although I can't be sure,"

"Jane Samuels," Leon nodded, motioning to Korsqq to take down the name, "It's all right if you're not sure, we just need to cover all our bases. Is there any more women that you think that Marie could be a part of? Any at all?"

Mrs Cavalli spent several minutes looking at the registers, "I'm fairly certain about these women," she told him, "Hanna Keating, Anastasia Jay, and Lark Spurr. I remember Hanna Keating because Marie spent a long time with her when we first started the group," Mrs Cavalli continued, "Anastasia Jay and Lark Spurr came a lot later, but they all used those names, and they all attended during the time that the murders were being committed the first time," she turned to look at him, "You should know that we don't know their real names but if you say that one of these women is her accomplice then it will be hard for you to know where to look for them. They left years ago, and I haven't seen them since. It was very common after Marie was arrested. But I don't believe there were any more women that she talked to. She wasn't exactly consistent with attending the meetings,"

Korsqq finished noting down the names, "I'll get Ellini to cross check any of those names within the list that she's compiled," he said to the both of them and Leon nodded, "Hopefully it'll turn up with something similar. This person can't have gotten that far," he walked out of the room, already talking on his radio.

Leon looked back at Mrs Cavalli, who was staring at the empty doorway, "Thank you for all your help, Mrs Cavalli," he said sincerely, "You have been a great help even with our initial…disagreement. I know that this must have been difficult for you with all the memories that have been remembered," she only nodded stiffly, "We'll try not to bother you or your family for the remainder of the investigation," she was silent, "You have been a great help to us,"

He turned his back on her, walking towards the door, "When I first met Marie, I fell in love with her," he stopped at those words, looking straight in front of him, "I couldn't help it, I admired the way she spoke, the tonality of her voice, the way that she lived her life. I was with my first husband and I fell in completely with her, there was nothing that she could do wrong," Mrs Cavalli paused, "When you arrested her, I thought that you had made a mistake, and I went to the trials. I couldn't believe how she had played everyone so well and no one had even realised. She was a friend, a confident and a killer that enjoyed staining her hands with blood. I thought that you had made a mistake…but I do have to ask, what was she doing when you arrested her? After that terrible, terrible night, what did she do afterwards? I have always wondered…"

Leon hesitated, his instinct to just flee the building, but his mind was instinctively drawn back to that one moment that he remembered so well, "She was praying," he whispered, before clearing his throat, "Praying, she was praying in a church when we found her," he looked back at the woman, "I think…I think she knew that we were going to arrest her that day,"

"When you love someone," she said to him, "You tend to think the best of them, that there is always another explanation to their actions even if they can be the most horrendous of all things," he merely looked at her, "I thought that about my first husband, and when I finally opened my eyes, I felt worse than I had done. There is always a sense that you could have done more,"

"I never loved Marie…she was nothing compared to Anna," he finally said.

She looked incredibly tired for a moment, "That is the trouble," she answered, "You can only love the day because it follows night, and eventually you wonder whether you can ever escape it entirely. Shadows cling when it is daylight, they never quite go away, and Marie never did anything that made her seem weak. She's been quiet for ten years, how do you know that she hasn't changed the way that she plays?"

"Because," he replied shrugging, "Like you say, day follows night. Marie likes knowing that there is someone that knows how she operates. It's how I knew she'd be in that church even though she hadn't confessed anything. I knew that she wouldn't be able to resist going to the one place that was the antithesis to everything that she stood for," he smiled humourlessly, "She couldn't resist showing off,"

10 Years Ago

Leon clicked off the safety catch off his gun, "Are you sure you want to do this, Leon?" Ellini asked him quietly, "You know what she's like and if you are right then she'll make this even more painful than it could be. We could just go straight in there and arrest her and take her away. There need not be any struggle or heartache over this,"

He looked at his friend, seeing that her eyes were slightly red from the tears that she had scrubbed away hours ago, "I have to do this," he answered firmly, "As soon as we take her into custody, she will deny any involvement into the murders, and evade us and play games. This is the only chance I will get to ask her completely unhindered, and without any other interference. This is where I can ask her why…" he looked at the doors of the church, "And besides she already knows that we're coming to arrest her. She wouldn't be here otherwise,"

"How could she do it, Leon?" she shook slightly, her eyes welling up with tears, "How could she have killed all those people…she was a Timekeeper, she was normal, she was our friend," she looked at the other silent Timekeepers, "And her own…" she trailed off, "Just get it over with Leon,"

"Break that bitch," Dumont added harshly, and Leon looked over at him, "She spits on all Timekeepers with this. You nail her to the cross, Leon,"

The man merely nodded before disappearing through the doors of the church, the heavy atmosphere of incense and lilies hitting him like a punch to the stomach. It smelt like death at a funeral, and made his stomach churn. He never did like churches, but this was necessary. He stared up at the figure prostrate on the gilded cross at the front of the church, high above the altar and offered a silent apology that this had to be done here. Marie always did have an awful sense of the macabre, although quite how much, he only learnt in the early hours of this morning.

He could see the slight figure of Marie at the front of the church, facing away from him. He had no doubt that she knew he was here; and probably a smile had graced her face when he entered the church. He moved down towards her slowly, feeling that every footstep he took was as loud as thunder. He slid into the pew next to her, seeing that she was looking thoughtfully up at the image of Jesus, considering it carefully. She didn't say anything to him for a few minutes and he felt his heart slowly sink to his feet.

"He died for other people's sins," she finally spoke to him, although still not looking at him, "He took the whole world's sins onto his back and still he did not break with the weight of them," Marie hummed a little, "He so very much reminds me of you, Ray, because although you don't have the whole world on your back, you hold the weight of the dead within you. Eventually you will sink when it becomes unbearable, because unlike the Son of God, you are only human," he saw her see his gun, "Violence is prohibited in church, Ray, or have you forgotten that?"

"I am fairly certain that the chaplain of this church will overlook any violence on my part when he finds out what he has in his church," he said hoarsely, "Although I am not surprised that you found your way to here of all places. It's crass and vulgar,"

"My sister died in the early hours of this morning," she noted airily, "Why would I not go to the place that she perhaps loved most of all," she turned to look at him finally and he saw no trace of sadness n her face. It only served to make him even more furious than ever, "I come to respect her life while you come in anger,"

He snorted in ironic humour, "I am sure that you come to respect her life," he retorted, "I'm also sure that you respect her death a lot more," she raised an eyebrow at him, "Stop playing these games with me, Marie, and be honest for the first time in your life…and never disrespect Anna's name in front of me," she grinned mockingly at him, "How can you not shed a tear for your own sister who lies dead in the morgue at HQ?"

"Oh, she'll be right at home there," she informed him, with a wry grin twisting her face, "Poor Anna," she looked back at the statue of Jesus, "I don't shed a tear for her like I don't shed a tear for anyone, Leon. You know me better than anyone, and you know how I grieve and it's not with tears and wailing," she sighed, "My sister is dead, and there is nothing you can do to bring her back, Leon. She's gone like all the others, separated by a veil that neither you nor I can pierce, and if you wanted to be any real use, you'd know that,"

"You can't run away from this, Marie," he hissed, "You knew that I knew that you murdered those people," he stared at her, "You practically pushed it at me, and you know it. Like a cat that has caught the canary and eaten it, you revelled in that fact,"

Mari was silent for a moment before looking at him slowly, "And where is your evidence, Leon?" her tone was cold, "Your DNA, your witnesses, even your motive," she looked knowing, "Because this case is all based on wild conjecture, I should know. So where exactly is the proof that I did anything at all?"

"Maybe I should have made this clearer," he informed her, ""You are my proof, because you are going to confess everything to me. Dates, locations, and even whatever motive you decide to invent. You are going to tell me everything because you have nothing left. Already people are going through your apartment, and your workstation, and I am going to nail you to that cross no matter what,"

She considered him like she had considered Jesus, "And what will that solve, Ray?" She inquired, "It will not bring Anna back, no matter how hard you wish it," he was silent, "Like Jesus you fail to underestimate the future and other people's minds. You cannot save everyone,"

"You do not believe in religion," he snapped, and a flicker of a smile shone on her face, just for a second.

"Perhaps not, Leon, but like anything, religion does have its uses," she crooned softly, "Because here is the truth as is written by me. You may have loved Anna, but you could never have stayed with her forever because you would have grown complacent, but with her death now she is immortalised with you forever and you can never escape her or me ever again,"

"After this is over I will forget you," he swore, and she laughed properly at that, the clear sound ringing in the cavernous room, "I can and I will,"

"Maybe for a day or two," she agreed, "But then you'll go home, Leon, and you'll be alone and you won't help the memories rising within you. Because they'll always be a part of you, and so I am a part of you. You'll never forget me, Leon, and there's the truth of the matter," she leaned against the pew, smiling softly, "We are so similar, you and I, that you will be incapable of forgetting me. That's your greatest tragedy in this. The woman that you loved is dead, the only way you'll remember her is through me. Pity that it's all tainted for you,"

"You killed her...why?" He demanded and she looked toward the back of the church, "They're going to come in a minute to arrest you, this is your time to tell me the truth without anyone else listening. To tell me why you did it...to Anna, to all those others women. Why them and why did you kill them? I won't use this as your confession because I want you to tell me yourself without anyone else being here," he grasped her shoulder and she turned to look at him, "If there is anything left that you once felt for us then tell me the truth. Why kill your sister?"

Marie studied him, smiling coldly, "Anything that was left between us?" She inquired, "Oh Leon, you use that against me? Appealing to my emotional side. You lost any right to use that against me, three years ago. Do not try to appeal to that because there is nothing in me left to answer that," she rubbed her mouth agitated, before casting another look at the main doors, "How long until they come in?"

"Another minute," he said quietly, "So tell me why now, and then that's it. Nothing else, just an answer,"

"Oh Leon, you'll never resist chasing this answer," she leaned forward, "But my reasons remain my own and you will never ever get the truth out of me. You will never be sure of whatever answer I give because I will never give you a motive. That is your curse," she cupped his face in her hands, looking at him, "For how long you live you will never know why I killed those ordinary women, and my own sister. And I will break you with it,"

And then she kissed him hard on the mouth, pressing herself into his very soul, taking in the same air that he drew in. It wasn't a romantic kiss, or a kind one, it was a poisoning invasion that he couldn't help but succumb. He breathed in Marie, the familiar lilac smell of her hair, the feel of her neck under his fingers and the heat that her body radiated. She was drowning him in emotion, and he forgot that he was in a church, that not six hours ago h had found the tortured form of Anna Howard or that he was here to arrest her sister. The only thing he could think about was the spiral that Marie had sent him into.

She pulled back sharply and he stared at the woman in front of him. She was panting heavily, her wild hair spilling around her shoulders. He wiped his mouth, his head suddenly clear, "You shouldn't have done that," he said harshly, and she barked a laugh, "What purpose did it serve?"

"You will see," she promised, moving away. He caught her wrist tightly, "Leon, this is not the way you want this to happen," he stood up, pulling out the handcuffs that he kept on him at all times, and started to fasten them around her hands, "Neither one of us can survived without any form of challenge, Leon, eventually you will realise that I am the only thing that can create a spark that will blow into a flame within you. I can wait till you realise this,"

He looked up at her, "Marie Howard, you are under arrest for the murder of thirteen women. You do not have to say anything but you should know that anything you do say may be used against you in a court of law…"


"Do we have anything?" Leon asked as he walked down the steps of the large house.

Korsqq looked up, "Neither Anastasia Jay or Lark Spurr are one of the names that Ellini have that have gone through the different time zones, but that might be because those two are aliases," he informed his superior, "However both Jane Samuels, and Hanna Keating are on that list. One is a doctor and the other is a social worker with children," Korsqq folded his arms, "Sir, do you find it rather a coincidence that…"

"That the two names that didn't come up on the system had references to birds in their names?" Leon finished, "No, it didn't escape me," they both got into the car, "But it tells us about whoever it is. They're consistent concerning names, and I also don't think that it is a coincidence that Marie calls her a baby bird. Meaning that those two are most like potential accomplices," he picked the radio in the car up, "Ellini, this is Timekeeper Leon, I need to find out where Hanna Keating and Jane Samuels lives, and I do hope that it is within a two hour ride because we only have an hour and a half left to find the next victim. We are running out of time,"

"Well you're in luck, Hanna Keating lives in New Greenwich," Ellini answered, "She lives in an apartment in King's Street, Number Fifty One," Leon immediately started driving, "Jane Samuels also lives in New Greenwich but she lives on the opposite side of town at 7 Crystal Avenue. You might want to go to Hanna Keating first. It would be quicker for you," she paused, "Leon, if you wanted to know my opinion then you should know that this feels like this is far too easy. Two names that are conveniently in the same time zone, it all seems very easy. What are we missing?"

Leon was silent for a moment, "Remember that whoever is behind this isn't as clever as Marie," he finally replied, "Eventually she will end up making a mistake and we'll get her," he considered the road in front of him, "But you know that I am not going to let her win. I'm not going to give her the satisfaction of getting to us," he clicked off the radio and sped up the driving, "We have an hour and a half left and we have been next to nowhere for most of these twenty four hours until now. Someone is playing a long game, anticipating that we won't win. I hope that both of these women will tell us why,"

"Do you think that she will be of any use then, sir?" Korsqq asked, "It was ten years ago and a lot of bad memories. We don't even know the names of two of them,"

"Well we can only hope and pray," Leon said sardonically, "Because at the moment, we've far too much to lose," the car pulled up sharply outside a large house and the two men got swiftly out of the car, "Let us hope that she is still in and not off to work," Leon muttered, pulling on the bell which could be heard deep inside the house.

There was a clicking of heels and the door opened to show a woman of average height with bleached blonde hair, "Hello?" she asked the two men, "How can I help you both?"

"Hanna Keating?" Leon asked and she nodded, "I'm Timekeeper Raymond Leon, this is Timekeeper Korsqq, we're here about Marie Howard," she opened her mouth, "Listen, we know that you know her quite well. You were in the same support group and that you spent a lot of time talking with her along with other women that go by the names of Anastasia Jay, Lark Spurr and Jane Samuels. Furthermore, you've probably seen the news that another two of that group: Rachel Lighthower and Sara Luxembourg also known as Rachel Lichtenstein and Patricia Strozzi have been murdered. Surely you can work out the maths for this,"

The woman straightened up, "No flies on you then, Timekeeper," she said coldly, before opening the door wider, "You better come in, and I'll give Jane the heads up that she should come over here right now so she can give her statement to you. Prove that neither one of us are mass murdering psychopaths,"

"You know Jane Samuels?" Hanna Keating nodded, before picking up the phone, "That would be a lot of help for us, and save a lot of time,"

"My pleasure Timekeeper," she answered, before listening through the phone, "Hi Jane, it's Hanna," there was a faint burble on the other end, "Yes, I'm fine. I was just calling to see whether you could come over as soon as possible. The Timekeepers have descended on my house and they know about the support group," another burble, "Yes, I think it would be better if you came over as well. See you as soon as possible. Bye," she placed the phone down, "She'll try to get here as soon as she can. I guess you're running on a rather tight schedule,"

"We have an hour and a half left, ma'am," Korsqq answered her quickly, "Which is why we need to get to the bottom of this as quickly as we can," Miss Keating nodded, before going into the living room, both the men following her, "You first met Marie Howard in the support group run by Margaret Cavalli?"

She looked at Leon, "You don't remember me, do you?" she asked him, and Leon tilted his head slowly, "We have met a couple of times before although I suppose you were a little wrapped up in someone else when we did meet. It never was for very long," Hanna turned to Korsqq, "Yes, I met Marie Howard in the support group that was run by Anna Howard, as it was at that time before Margaret took control. And yes, I was close to Marie Howard in a smaller group as well,"

"Were there many of you in that group?" Leon inquired.

"No, there were only a few of us that Marie was interested in," Hanna said, shrugging, "I keep in contact with Jane Samuels like you know but apart from that the others sort of drifted away. I haven't seen the others since Marie was arrested," she cleared her throat, "I was the first person that Marie took on as a kind of sponsor in that group. She didn't really talk ever so much in the group meetings; she liked listening to others problems. But when you were on your own with her she really helped you connect with yourself. Took you right to the root of the problem and made it go away. It was very cleansing,"

"The others being Lark Spurr, and Anastasia Jay?" he asked and she nodded, "We only got those names, I don't suppose you know their real names or addresses perhaps," Hanna shook her head, "We know the connection between the two women that were murdered was that they were Marie's cast offs, as you like. She was grooming them to be her accomplice but they didn't work out. The accomplice now is who she managed to turn completely. Do you know if Marie had a falling out with them?"

Hanna frowned, "I remember that Rachel…I'm sorry, Raquel, had a very loud disagreement with Marie shortly before she was arrested. I believe that it was at the same time as Antonia Kentwood's murder. It was something trivial, from what I recall, but I do know that they never really sat aright with each other after that. Sara was different, she was right within the group because she was so young, the rest of us liked her for being so young when the rest of us were…well older," the doorbell rang, "That'll be Jane," she walked out of the room to return with a very tall, wispy looking woman, "Timekeepers Leon and Korsqq," she told her, before sitting down on the sofas.

"Ahh, the man that had Marie running in circles for weeks," Jane Samuels studied Leon with a quiet intensity that made the back of his neck crawl, "Pleasure to finally meet you, Raymond Leon. We heard so much about you from Marie. I consider it an honour to actually talk to you post Marie's arrest. Now that you have your eyes wide open and not so blinkered back then,"

"You're very blunt," he said to the woman, who only smiled, "If you weren't already here, I would have said that you had the likeminded attitude that Marie desperately displays," instead of being offended the woman only smiled softly, "You agree with what she is doing? Or rather what the accomplice is doing?"

Jane Samuels leaned forward, "The woman who is doing this, and it is a woman, is acting on Marie's orders," she informed him, "She is nothing but a go between, a mouth for Marie to use. She doesn't have any thoughts for herself, and when Marie has achieved what she wants then whoever it is will be placed back inside the box. Nothing more, nothing less," she smiled wryly, "You're looking for a cunning killer when you should be looking for a submissive mouse. Wasn't the torture of both the bodies post mortem?"

"And I wonder how you know that," Leon retorted, "Because as far as I know, that piece of information wasn't released to the public, so how did you get a hold of it?"

"I have a friend in the IT department of the Timekeepers HQ, his name is James Danvers, you can look him up and vet him out if you don't believe," she replied simply, "Not that I think you have much time to be chasing down that particular lead at the moment,"

Leon leant back, "I might be missing something here, but it does sound like you are agreeing with Marie on this subject," he noted, "I do not have the time to play games, enough of my time these past twenty four hours have been playing games and I am starting to get very tired of doing so. What exact problem do you have with me, I wonder?"

"I don't like any man that is with a woman and then decides to muddy the waters," she answered him, "And I think you know exactly what I am talking about, Raymond Leon. Because over the course of those five years, I saw a strong woman disintegrate at the seams and lose her sanity," she tilted her head at him, "I condemn Marie for the crimes that she committed, but you have to see her reasoning. The death of her sister was only the icing on the cake that was Marie's life. Have you talked with her mother?"

"Elisabeth Howard is not going to be bothered on these events by anyone," he snapped, "One daughter was killed by the other, and I don't believe she needs to be bothered by anyone else now. She's deserves a quiet life away from any publicity," he stared her down, "And I never broke Marie's sanity, she lost that years ago,"

"Oh perhaps she had," Jane Samuels shrugged, "But it is true that you suspected her of murder a couple of years before you finally arrested her. Tragic that it had to take Anna Howard's death for you to see past the clouds,"

12 Years Ago.

"I'm not sure what it is about parties but they always seem...forced," Marie said next to him and he turned to look at her, "People celebrating the passing of time measured out by birthdays and parties. Makes me feel queasy,"

"Hello Marie," Leon said, "Trust you to make even a celebration seem completely pointless," she smiled sarcastically at him, "Aren't you supposed to be at the doctors getting your prescription filled out or something like that. You're not supposed to be here. She doesn't want you to be here with everyone else around. Especially considering what happened last week,"

"Turning my own sister against me, now that is an idea," she remarked, turning to him, "But as I distinctly recall it takes two to tango," she placed a hand to her mouth dramatically, "Oh, but she doesn't exactly know about that, does she? She just doesn't like because what I said about Elisabeth," she looked back at the party, "Imagine if we did tell her Leon. The truth does set you free after and you're drowning already," she cleared her throat, "Besides it's my big sister's birthday party. Can't miss that for the world, can we?"

He folded his arms, "Listen to me, Marie, nothing happened between us and it stays that way," she merely smiled at him, "Now don't cause any trouble and don't upset anyone," she made to move off and he caught her arm, "Marie, do remember it is your sister's birthday. You haven't even brought a present,"

"The present is being delivered later on," she told him, taking a champagne glass off a nearby waiter, "I do think that people will like it," she rocked back on her heels, before grinning at him, "Either way, best mingle with the crowd. I do not want to seem rude. That would be bad," she raised her glass to him, "Besides I really would hate for anything to affect our work together. I would hate for anything to complicate the cases that we're on. I would hate for the press to think that the Timekeepers couldn't do their job," she waved a hand before heading over to a group by the buffet table, calling "Hey Robin, so how's your work coming along?" as she did so.

It was half an hour into the party when Fasch made his way over to Leon, "Got a call," he said to him, and a strange quietness settled over the party, "You're up, the Red Petal Killer has decided to display another body. Their ninth victim, same location, same body work done to it. Local patrols just picked up the call, their forensics give her the time of death at about an hour ago," he looked at the party, "Not exactly the type of present we wanted for today really,"

Those words made Leon's head snap toward Marie who was standing talking to another woman, both having serious expressions on their faces. As if she could feel him watching her, she turned her head perfectly to look at him, and he looked into his eyes from across the room. No warmth was shown there only a barren icy bleakness that resonated in his heart. Then a smile flickered onto her face and the moment past, life resuming as normal. Except that icy feeling remained lodged in his chest and refused to move. Perhaps it was just a coincidence or just a passing glance but there was something in that smile that promised something more. Something more than a normal life and a contented one, but one of fire and blood.

Now he really didn't know what to do.


"I'm sorry about Jane," Hanna Keating walked into the living room, placing down the cups of tea that she had made, "She still finds it hard to say anything against Marie, I still do some of the time," she smoothed down her skirt, "Yu have to understand that when we met Marie we were still hurting from a lot of pain and Marie picked us up, dusted us off and made us whole again. We both owe her a lot,"

"More than a lot," Leon looked at Jane Samuels who was standing in the doorway, "The woman made sure that nothing would ever come to hurt us again. I don't know whether it had anything to do with her wanting to get us more emotionally attached to her or that she genuinely cared, but she made sure that nothing ever troubled us. And when trouble did happen to come along, she made it go away permanently. She might not have understood the deeper meanings of emotions but she was a good friend,"

Leon swallowed, "Did she ever get you to do anything for her that aided her in her murders?" he inquired, "Provide an alibi, buy something out of the ordinary in your name, or even meet someone that she needed to pass a message onto. Something that would have been under the radar,"

"I once carried a parcel for her," Hanna told him, drinking her tea, "Nothing that seemed important, but she got it sent to my house and then I held it for her when she was out of town moving house. Personal package, I think, I didn't open it, but it was marked fragile and it sounded like there was glass inside," she shrugged, "That was all, she usually asked Lark or Anastasia for anything to do with something she needed done and she was in a bit of a tight fix. They would have leapt over mountains for her,"

"Tell us about them. One of them is most likely who we are looking for,"

Hanna looked thoughtful, "Anastasia was loud, pushy, and impulsive. Someone who really wanted to go places and didn't mind who she stepped on to get to the right places. I often wondered why she was at the support meetings because she looked like she had recovered, but you never know with people. Lark was different; she was a quiet person, intense when you talked to her, always about the job. Passive aggressive, but loved books and reading. Always had a new one every time we saw her. Both of them loved Marie though, very quick to get on her side in any type of argument which I think Marie found quite attractive,"

"She fucking hated it," all three looked towards Jane who was still in the doorway, "She would put them back in the box every time she didn't need either one, and she always used to smoke after meeting with them," at their inquisitive looks, she shrugged, "I took the same train home with her, she always looked stressed to hell afterwards. Talked a lot in what didn't make a lot of sense. Believe me, Timekeeper, if you're looking for an accomplice that would do anything for Marie, you don't need to look any further than those two,"

Leon looked at Hanna across from him, "Tell me, when you realised that Sara and Raquel had been murdered, why didn't you ring the Timekeepers to explain the connection between the two people. We are nearly at the twenty four hour mark and if you had come to us earlier, we would have gotten much further along than we are presently. Why didn't you ring?"

The two women looked at each other, "We discussed it at the beginning, when the names were released to the public," Hanna began, "Except we decided not to because…"

"We wanted to avoid this whole…debacle," Jane bluntly put it, "Because now you want to take us down the Headquarters and try and help further in this case even though the facts are right in front of you. The last time either one of us had contact with Marie or anyone else of that group was ten years ago, and now two of them are dead. We do not want to become the next two that wind up on the pavements of Dayton,"

"Being the Timekeepers Headquarters will mean that you're safer than anywhere else," Korsqq pointed out, "Seeing as we're trying to find out the location of Marie Howard's accomplice, you being with us means that we can correctly discount you from any on-going investigation that we do,"

Jane Samuels still didn't look convinced and Leon sighed impatiently, standing up, "I'm not sure whether you understand this, Miss Samuels," he said to her, "But twenty four hours ago, I saw Marie Howard for the first time in a very long time, along with two dead bodies. I have been through families, pieces of paper and phone calls to get me here, plus finding out another part of two sisters lives that I had absolutely no idea about ten years ago, despite being involved with one of them," he folded his arms, "At this moment I am willing to forcibly take you into custody now just to make sure that another murder cannot occur. Apart from two missing people, one of which is the assistant killer, you are the only two that could satisfy the connection. So we're leaving right now,"

"You can't physically make us go," Hanna Keating stated, placing down her tea.

"You have both just admitted to knowing the connection between the two victims, something that the general public have not been informed about, and keeping it to yourselves," Korsqq reeled out, "You also admitted collaborating with Marie Howard during her run as a serial murderer and most likely had suspicions about what she was without you telling the Timekeepers," the blonde haired shrugged, "It sounds like a collaboration between the two of you and Marie Howard. You can see how that would look in the press,"

"Fine," Jane grabbed her coat from the sofa, "Let's hope you don't make a mistake again, Timekeeper,"


"This is completely worthless," Jane Samuels said, from the back of the car, "You are completely missing the point here. If Marie wanted to kill us then we would have already been taken by whoever is killing these people. As far as we know, Marie hasn't shown any inclination into wanting us both dead, therefore you can summarise that both of us will be fine,"

"Marie Howard promised me one murder," Leon told her, holding up a finger, "One, and as you said there are no other members of Marie's little connection group that ultimately failed her. Therefore you are the only two possible candidates for the next murders," he tapped the steering wheel anxiously, "There are still twenty minutes left, and there isn't anything that Marie can do to get either of you two. I consider that a result," however there was still a weight in his heart that made him uneasy.

"Are you sure?" she inquired, "Because of what I can remember of Marie was that she always loved pointing out the thing that was right in front of you but always missed. I do wonder at what it is this time,"

Leon sighed impatiently, "You haven't seen Marie in ten years, am I correct?" she nodded sharply, "Tell me, how pleased would she be concerning either of you? Not even a phone call, believe me, I've seen the logs. Because whoever this is, Marie certainly reached out to get help. You go on about whoever it is as if they're weak, that they mean nothing to Marie. When I told Marie, she told me that she cared in her own way about her baby bird. Very maternal over her. Ever considered that perhaps whoever it is has Marie's full confidence and is held in high regard?"

"Anyone told you that you're a bastard, Timekeeper?" she retorted, and Leon's mouth twitched slightly in a smile, "I can see why Marie liked you so much, even with all the shit you put her through. Only man that could keep up with her, and of course you were clever enough to catch her,"

"Cut the bullshit, I know that Marie intended for me to catch her when I did, she played a long game in which to trap everyone within it, and to come down as the final victor," Leon replied, looking at the time. There was so little time left now, "All I have to do now is to make sure that she is cut off from any civilisation and any satisfaction," his phone suddenly vibrated, and he dug it out of his pocket to see the sender of the message. Unknown sender stared back at him and he opened the message up.


A sliver of ice found his way into his stomach at seeing that. Nice try, there was something in those words that seemed to be worse than what they should have been. Nice try. He handed his phone over to Korsqq who looked up immediately, "Do you think that we missed anything?" he asked his superior, "The only possible people that could have been part of the connection are in the back of this car,"

"We missed something," Leon pulled up by the side of the road, his thoughts going a mile an hour, "Something important, something…" he looked in the rear-view mirror meeting Jane Samuel's eyes, "Right in front of us," he spun the steering wheel violently pushing the car to its limits as it shot along the road, "Call Dispatch, we need backup on this," Korsqq nodded, already talking into the radio.

After fifteen minutes, Leon pulled up outside a house, "Are you sure, sir?" Korsqq inquired, and Leon nodded, opening the door and getting out. He stared up at the house, knowing that this was not going to end well.


He walked up to the door, seeing that it was slightly ajar. He looked up at the windows, seeing that no lights were on inside. He placed his hand on the door handle, withdrawing it sharply when he felt that it was sticky with a substance, but it was too dark to see what it was. He pushed the door open, walking inside the darkened house. He squinted in the darkness, trying to find a light switch, when his foot hit something soft and heavy. He stiffened slightly, quickly finding the wall, and flipping the switch on.


Cold dead eyes stared into his, and Leon swallowed heavily at the sight of the dead man. One clean bullet hole had punctured his forehead cleanly. Clearly he was not the intended victim. Leon looked down at his hand, seeing that what had coated the door handle had been blood. He wiped it off viciously, before casting his eyes around the room. He stopped when he saw a rose lying innocently on the ground in front of another door. This was no doubt where the true present was.


Leon gripped the door before pushing it open, and turning the light on swiftly, wanting to get the ordeal over and done with as quickly as possible. The stench of the blood hit him in an overpowering wave, and he turned away for a second before looking back at the scene in front of him. Whoever the accomplice was, they had clearly lost their distaste for torture before killing their victim. And this time they had placed their own stamp on the occasion. It was far from the controlled torture that was of Marie's murders, but more chaotic, out of control, and impulsive.


His phone rang sharply, and he picked it up, "Do we see now?" the caller said on the other end of the phone, "Do we see, Ray, that no one in this game is safe? You might have found the connection of my collected prizes, but that does not mean that you are any closer to me. Do we understand each other now?"


"Yes," he answered numbly, "Yes, we understand each other," he shut the phone mutely, leaning against the wall, seeing the murdered and butchered corpse of Margaret Cavalli stare coldly back at him.


So, how was that :-P and now everything is starting to pick up the pace with this again. And I wonder who people think is the accomplice. Drop me a line and tell me. I'm always interested to know what people think.

So long


Next Time

"This is the first trial of Marie Elisabeth Howard,"


"Whatever you do, do not say anything about her disabilities," Leon warned the younger man


"Marie was always getting into trouble," the woman smoothed down her skirt, "Anna was the sensible one, the sweet one. With Marie, you were always wondering what was going on behind those eyes of her, and whether she wanted to be your friend or wanted to push you into the dirt,"


"I don't car what you think, I don't care what you say, all I know is that there is a woman that is lying dead because of you and I know next to nothing anymore because of your damn games,"


"Open your eyes and see what is in front of you,"