Brink of Eden
The sun's light hadn't been at all generous the next morning. Unconsciously, Allistor's lids tightened before he groaned in protest at the interruption of his dream. There was no way it was time to get up already…especially considering that it felt like he'd only laid his head down on the pillow moments ago.
The ticking clock seemed even louder and more bothersome than usual, which was definitely saying something, and soon the ticks were coinciding with the pounding in his head. When he turned on his side another dissent rumble crawled up his chest. It was nearly seven already, as the clock read, and upon seeing this he pushed himself out of bed while running a hand through his silky ginger hair. Maybe drinking with Matthias hadn't been the best idea…or, maybe he should have simply left the bar at an earlier hour. Either way, he needed to be on his way to the agency as soon as possible, though just the thought of the case made his blood boil and eyes wilt.
However, just as he made a move to stand a glare caught his eye, and he turned to see the lone picture frame atop the dresser across the room. A small smile formed on his lips as he stepped towards it, and he picked up the picture whilst memories flooded his thoughts.
A teenage him smirked challengingly at the person taking the picture, his arms wrapped around the neck of a man who was only a year younger, red hair brushing his shoulders as he tried to push his brother away. The other was an even younger female whose rich green eyes were filled with laughter as she tried to play the mature one of the siblings. It hadn't been long after the picture that his sister had gone her own way, with their brother soon departing as well. He was the only one left in their childhood town, and they were so busy that they rarely had a chance to get together, or even speak.
A loud ringing sounded through the house and he sighed, setting the frame down. It was most likely Kirkland, in early and wondering why he wasn't there yet.
"Scott," said Allistor as he picked up the phone.
"Mornin, Scottie," said the pleasant voice on the other line. Allistor's eyes widened at the familiar sound and he drew the phone away from his face, as if to examine it. But then another smile spread across his lips, and he leaned his bare back against the wall.
"Well, look who decided to call," he joked. "How are ye, Dylan?"
His younger brother laughed, and Allistor could clearly imagine his smiling face. Dylan had always been the more cheerful one of the family, and the most responsible. Though, sometimes he was known to have a drink if the occasion seemed suitable to him—but more often than not, Dylan was the one brining him home from the pub.
"I'm surprised ye haven't come here to crash," he said. "With as often as ye get wasted."
"Ay, I've got a new drinking buddy though, so we usually make sure the other gets home safely. Besides, ye home's a bit of a drive." He could feel relaxation flow through him at the casual banter between him and his sibling. Dylan had an odd sense of knowing when when his brother was thinking too hard for his own good. Since he'd moved to another town for a job he hadn't acted on it much, but when he did Allistor knew that it was time for him to sit back and find a way to relax.
This time, however, he wasn't going to have that chance.
Checking the time again, he answered the question about how he was before asking his own question. "I've got to be at the office soon. So if ye ain't busy, stop by sometime today, ay?"
"Ah…no. Sorry, I can't." Dylan's voice held a tremor of unease, which triggered the elder brother's protective manner.
"What is it, Dylan?" His tone pushed the point that he would not take kindly to him trying to avoid answering. "If it's some abusive partner ye got-"
A sharp laugh halted him, "Oh, no, that was always your area right?" The teasing tone died quickly. "The news, about the warehouse...?"
Allistor's eyes closed, he hadn't expected the news to travel so fast—rather, he hoped it wouldn't. "Ay…"
"I saw it in the paper this morning." He paused, "Are ye on the case?"
Allistor let out a small sigh. "Ay. Like I'd let anyone else take it."
The silence on the other end of the line was near deafening, but Dylan also let out a sigh. "Be careful out there. Ye hear me, Scottie?"
Allistor laughed, though the deepness of it wasn't well hidden. "Yeah, yeah, I hear ye." With a final farewell, Allistor hung up the phone before turning his gaze back to the picture frame. Well, he knew who the next call would be from if he didn't be on his way.
Where the bloody hell is he! Arthur tapped his fingers on his desk impatiently. The Chief was usually the first one to arrive in the mornings, and considering the case, how could he be late? He'd be damned if he had to deal with Bonnefoy alone! Not that he couldn't handle it; he could, he'd just rather not.
Allistor was probably in bed hung-over from the previous night, having been drinking with Matthias and all. Served him right! But, with three years he'd been working as Chief, the Scot had never once used the excuse of being hung-over for being late to work.
No, he'd usually come in hung-over and then take it out on him.
Arthur's eye twitched, but then he looked to the phone on his desk. Fine; he'd call and give him a firm piece of his mind!
Speak of the devil…
Arthur turned to see Allistor with his jacket slung over his shoulders and sleeves pushed up to his forearms, walking inside towards his desk. There were small circles under his eyes, but besides that he looked generally fine.
"Where have you been?" Arthur demanded, taking the chance to yell at his superior seeing as the other two team members hadn't shown up yet. He felt warmth rising to his cheeks as the Scottish man turned a teasing gaze upon him, and he fought it back fiercely. It was not embarrassing to make sure another could do their job!
Allistor watched the battle that the Brit thought he was concealing from his expression and smirked. Oh, the man was so easy to read and mess with at times, rather, most of the time. "Worried about me, Arthur?" he asked, chuckling as the man flew into violent denial. "Calm down, will ye? I got a call from my brother is all."
The statement froze the Arthur's tirade. "You have a brother?"
Laughing as he turned to look at the open door where the missing team members were entering, Allistor threw a last shot at his entertainment and plopped down in his chair. "Ay, maybe if ye researched better ye'd know that."
Arthur fumed, "Like I would take time out of my day to research things about you!"
But it was too late, Allistor had already taken to speaking to the white-haired man who was setting his bag down on his desk. Ugh! He was so...so...ignorant! He couldn't help but notice the look in his Chief's eyes, though. There was something...different about them. Wait, why was he looking at his eyes? Arthur shook his head and sat back down in his seat, for some reason he couldn't find any of the missing person's files from the last case, which in turn made him wonder—
"Ah, here are the files you wanted," said Gilbert as he handed a folder to Allistor, who had since lit a cigarette and set it on his lips.
"Much thanks," he answered lowly, rolling back in his chair to prop his feet on the desk as he looked over them, making it clear to everyone that he had closed out the world for the moment.
Arthur studied him silently. Are those…?
Gilbert turned to look at the Italian sitting at his desk, filing away the last bit of evidence. "Any questions, rookie?" he asked, knowing that with all his fuming Arthur hadn't filled him in.
With a start, the auburn-haired man nodded with wide amber eyes. "Why does everyone seem to have some memory that's connected to this case?" His expression grew more concerned as his mentor sighed, dropping his head. "You don't have to answer if it's uncomfortable, Gilbert!"
Waving his hand, the albino sat on the edge of the desk. "Nein, I knew it would come up eventually. Might as well tell you now before you start hearing crazy rumors or something unawesome like that."
Feliciano Vargas listened intently as Gilbert explained to him the details of the previous cases; they've all been similar and there had been little to no forwardness in finding the culprit. The detectives were frustrated, even after spending hours upon hours scrounging around for the tiniest clue they haven't been able to get any closer to the truth.
"So," said Feliciano, "it's like a sort of grudge everyone here has towards the guy?"
Gilbert leaned forward with a nod. "Exactly like that." He smiled at the rookie with a cackle, "I knew you'd catch on quickly!"
Feliciano smiled at him with a nervous laugh. But his stomach growled then, and he sunk back in his chair with a sigh.
Concern flashing across his face, Gilbert leaned forward again. "Did ya eat this morning? You can't work if ya don't eat."
Two voices spoke this, one dead serious, came from Allistor, and the other was more, nasally, which belonged to a blonde man standing in the doorway with a sketchbook under his arm. "Bonjour, everyone."
Arthur's stomach twisted when the Frenchman's words were spoken, and he looked to see him walking into the office with a beam spread on his lips. The artist stopped at Feliciano's desk, rubbing his chin a bit before his eyes brightened immensely. "Hmm…I haven't seen you here before."
Gilbert clasped his hand on the Italian's shoulder. "This is our new rookie. Feliciano Vargas."
"Vargas, Vargas…" said Francis. It was as if a light bulb had gone off above his head, the way he snapped his fingers. "Would your brother happen to be Romano Vargas?"
The Italian smiled at the man, happy to hear his brother's name. "Yes, yes! You know Romano? That's wonderful!"
"Yes, a good enough model, when he shows up." With a shrug he moved on, causing Feliciano to look up at Gilbert in confusion.
The elder man shrugged. "He's an artist, don't pay him any mind when it comes to him and his thoughts of people."
Ignoring the statement being said behind his back, the Frenchman smiled widely at Allistor, "Where are the poor souls I have to show a poor imitation of?"
Allistor sighed, if this man wasn't the best he'd never have called him. The only one of the entire detective sector of the town who liked the man appeared to be Gilbert, and Arthur hated the man with a passion. That in turn always made the office the worst place to be when they were around. "This way, Francis." With an apologetic look as he passed the senior officer, he turned to lead the man to where the bodies were being kept.
He was required to stop however, when the man began speaking to the other blond.
"Iggy!" Francis exclaimed, his tone bright yet flat. "It certainly has been a while, hasn't it? You should call sometime!" His tone was bordering the edge of mockery as he leaned in closer to the Brit.
"Unfortunately, I'd like to have as little contact with you as possible," he said, leaning back.
Francis laughed and his smile grew wider, taking pride in Arthur's flaming eyes. "Don't be like that. You know—"
A hand on his shoulder stopped the Frenchman's words, and both looked up to see the ginger-haired Scotsman glaring at Francis. "Stop ye flirtin' with my senior officer and come sketch these faces." His tone was a little darker than usual, which peeked curiosity in the Brit. "Ye holdin' us back."
With that, Francis huffed out a sigh and followed Allistor. Arthur watched the two of them walk down the hall, Allistor with both hands in his pockets while Francis poked new conversation. The case must have the Chief on edge, because it was rare that he'd ever do anything to help him. But, it was Francis, so…
As Allistor kept the artist on task by standing by his shoulder in a separate room, the rest of the team went back to reviewing the M.O. of the man. Besides spacing the kidnapping to not make them suspicious, not a single other fact about the killer was raised. He was careful, and he was a man who thought he had a purpose. What that was...may turn out to be more disturbing than the actual crime.
Until they figured out the identities of the girls though, no attempt at finding links could be found.
Arthur sighed and rubbed his eyes, they were already aching this early in the morning? They all wrote as neat as they could, though documents were still cramped and words were quick to blur together if one stared at them for a long period of time.
As if snapping the detectives out of a trance, the sound of falling footsteps bounded down the hall, and all looked up, each fearing the worst; another murder.
"Bro!" exclaimed a blonde teenager as he stopped in the doorway, his breath heavy. Arthur's head fell into his palm.
"Why are you here, Alfred?" he asked with a long sigh.
Alfred laughed, and when he took began walking towards him two other exasperated males ran in quickly behind him. One was another blonde with square glasses while the other had raven hair. Arthur knew these two to be a Canadian, Matthew Williams and a Japanese male, Kiku Honda. Both were close friends with his younger brother Alfred, and the only two he really liked him being around.
"W-we're sorry about this…" said Matthew, his soft-spoken manner not having changed over the years.
Kiku bowed slightly, "Pardon us, he set off at a run, and by the time we realized where he was heading he was already in the building."
"Whoa! Are you guys teaming up on me with my brother? Not cool!" Alfred exclaimed, and Arthur let his head sink into his arms as Allistor came walking out of the other room, eyes dark at the thought of his team getting distracted from the case. The Brit knew he was in for it now...
Pausing at the scene, the Chief blinked a couple of times before a smirk played on his lips. "Alfred, Honda-san, Matthew." He greeted, nodding to them each.
Bloody hell it was weird to hear Japanese words in a Scottish accent...wait...what?
Arthur's head shot up with a painful jerk, staring in confusion as Allistor talked to the three males about their current well-being. How did he know them, and what was he playing at? They weren't likely to know anything, they were teenagers for heaven's sake!
His own thoughts had led him to suspecting his own brother himself before though...
"Dude," said Alfred as he looked to his older brother. "You should invite me here more often, Iggy!" Arthur gazed at the cheery group blankly, eyes blinking before he settled back into his chair.
A few hours later Arthur stood beside one of the windows in the agency. Alfred and the others had long since left to go "chill" as Alfred described it, and the rest were simply waiting for Francis to be finished with his work. Allistor appeared to be growing impatient, having smoked more cigarettes than he had in a long while in an hour. Arthur sighed and looked back out the window. It was as if they were at the mercy of this guy...waiting for clues to appear at the drop of a hat. He hated it as much as anyone else, and more than anything at the moment, he wanted to continue on with the case.
"I'm finished," said Francis, entering the room to everyone's surprise. "I've done all I could with these...the first was easy enough. But the other three..." he rubbed his head as Allistor pushed himself from his chair, taking the four pictures from the Frenchman's hands.
"Thank you," said Allistor while the others began to crowd around him. Drift from the pictures his gaze did not, and he had to admit, he was never disappointed when it came to his Francis' artistic abilities.
"I hope you have good luck with them," the artist said. "Unfortunately, I have to get going. There's an art show..." his words trailed off into the air at the sight of the detectives studying his work, and a slight pitying sigh slipped past his lips before taking his leave.
Hair and eye color were beyond their reach at the moment, but the features were usually enough to get people talking about who it probably was. The first picture was a young girl, no older than fifteen, who was of Asian descent. Then a young woman with high cheek bones and a small forehead, followed by one with a wide nose and thin cheeks. Last on the pile was the oldest, and all that was revealed about her was the narrow, haunted looking shape of the face.
"It's better than what we had." Allistor said forcefully. "He seems to stay in teens to late twenties."
They all turned at a small cough, surprised to see the artist still there, "I could do better if I was allowed to take them with me or bring all my tools here to work on them." Francis stated, an oddly dedicated look in his eyes.
Allistor grimaced, torn by indecision. They really did need as much help as they could on this case, but the man was...himself, so he was reluctant to allow him to take the skulls home. The other option...those tools could be anything in the world knowing him. "No, they're fine."
Francis nodded, "I hope you find whoever is doing this..." His eyes seemed to dull. "The wounds are, all too familiar."
It was rare to see Allistor treating himself like he'd messed up, but the stricken look he had on his face as the man spoke made it obvious that was what he had done. He stepped forward before halting, looking at the man, "God, I forgot Francis...we will though. I swear to you, that."
The artist nodded, an understanding passing between the two. He turned and left then, and Allistor went to his desk. He pulled out his map of the town, proceeding to outline the areas each detective would cover with the pictures. Yet, as he barked out orders, England felt like there was even more missing from his knowledge of this case then he had thought.
By the time night had fallen the pictures of the women had been released to the public. So far, no one had come forward knowing the victims, but hopefully by the next morning they would have more answers when the papers printed the pictures in the articles.
Arthur Kirkland strolled down the street with his hands tucked into his coat pockets. He was glaring at the cement sidewalk, unbelieving that he was walking with the person beside him. Angry, he turned his gaze up to the Scot, a growl crawling up his chest.
"What are you doing?" he asked.
Allistor looked to him, brow quirked high. "What does it look like I'm doing? I'm walking, ya bampot."
Sighing heavily in annoyance, Arthur glared up at the man, "I meant with the case! Do you really think it'll help us catch the man if you withhold information?"
A sneer appeared on the man's lips. "I'm the chief and that's my call." he growled, before halting before the street. "This is where I'm off, can't say parting with ye came fast enough." Turning down the alley, the Brit caught a flash of light from the street light bounce off of something on the man's chest.
"Why do you still have your badge on?" he demanded. If someone got a hold of that piece of uniform and came across an untrained officer, they could get anything from them. Did the Scot think he was that high above regulations?
"I'm going to check out the warehouse again."
Arthur watched as the man continued walking down the street with one hand in his pocket and the other wrapped around the cigar on his lips. He was going there this late? What did he think he was going to find, now?
Follow him. He turned his head at the thought, but then turned back to the figure fading into the darkness with a sigh. What the hell did he have to lose?
Arthur waited a few moments before following the Chief across the street and down an alley. What they would find there, if anything at all, he couldn't begin to guess.
Well, it was harder than expect to get this chapter rolling, but it happened! And we hit most of our outline checkpoints! Whoo! More hidden history, and England getting into things that will only lead to trouble for him~
America, Canada, and Japan! Whoo!
We hope you're enjoying this story! Please review~