Yes, long delay. Sorry. I've been out of town for a while, and when I'm on leave, I try not to go near the computer. But now I'm back. Hopefully this will be worth the wait. Moving along from Wes just freaking out to an actual storyline (I know, hard to believe, right?) Not slash!
They say it's what you make
I say it's up to fate
It's woven in my soul
I need to let you go
Your eyes, they shine so bright
I want to save their light
I can't escape this now
Unless you show me how
Demons, Imagine Dragons
"This is the third one in a month," the uniformed officer said as Travis crouched next the body. "Maybe it's the weather, but normally these guys aren't so violent towards one another."
"Well, you're right about the towards each other part," Travis said, grimacing slightly as he used his pen to push the homeless man's jacket away from the fatal wound near his liver. "This looks awfully specific for just a scuffle over trash territory."
The uniform…Ryan, from his name tag, looked relieved. "I've been trying to tell people that these are looking way too similar for it to be just a fight every time. It's…the wound… always the same spot, and there's never any other signs of a struggle. Like they didn't see it coming, or they were asleep or something. I've been in this neighborhood forever and I've never seen a stealth ninja hobo attack."
Travis laughed at that one, even as the younger man's ears turned red. "Sorry, that was unprofessional," he said, looking away.
"You're fine," Travis said, letting the filthy jacket fall back in place. He glanced up at his partner who was staring at his phone, completely ignoring the entire scene. "Wes? You feel like chiming in at any point?"
Without looking up, Wes shrugged one shoulder. "For once I agree with the uniform. It's too precise for random stabbing each time, and it's almost surgical in precision."
"Serial killer?" Ryan said, torn between looking hopeful and scared that there might actually be one on the loose.
"Vigilante killer, more likely. Lots of people seem to have this idea that homeless people are better off dead than on the street."
"What's the difference?" Ryan asked.
Wes looked up from his phone, and when he answered his voice was tight and strained. "The difference is that a serial killer does it because he wants to. Vigilantes think it's their duty or their right."
"Sorry," Ryan apologized, noting the change in the detective and not entirely sure what he'd done to warrant it. "I'll go do crowd control." With that, he practically ran away from the scene.
Travis looked at Wes, who was back to his phone, finger poised above the keys as if preparing to either type or smash it. "Your parents again?"
Wes nodded without saying anything, just shoved the phone back into his pocket.
"They're still trying to convince you to change your mind?" Travis said, finally standing to let the coroners move the body, now that forensics had gone through the scene.
Wes stayed quiet, which only confirmed Travis's suspicions. "Man, file another restraining order or something. Lodge a complaint with the department. Something!"
"Like what?" Wes snapped. "Do you have any idea how long it takes to file a lawsuit against someone like my father? Especially if it's just harassment charges? They'll never stick, and it'll just be a waste of time, while everyone at the department figures out what's going on."
"You gotta do something! Hell, at the rate you're going, we might as well just hit him with a car and put him out of your misery. You look like you haven't slept in weeks, and you're crankier than usual."
"My plan on waiting him to die from liver disease before he can steal mine seems to be working out just fine, thank you," Wes growled.
"I feel like we should be slightly more proactive about this. Speaking of proactive, I can't keep going to therapy by myself and taking notes for you. Dr. Ryan is eventually going to rat us out to the Captain, and then we'll be in violation of our probation," Travis said, pulling off his gloves as the two of them ducked under the crime scene tape.
"I'm not going back," Wes said flatly.
Anyone else would've dropped the subject, but Travis wasn't just anyone.
"She's apologized like a thousand times. She was coming from a good place, she just…din't understand. She talked about it later, but her and her mother have been extremely close their entire lives. Maybe it's a generational gap or something, but she honestly just couldn't understand that a mother could be…"
"Evil?" Wes supplied. "Sadistic? Manipulative?"
Travis pursed his lips. "And then some. But still…have you ever shared that…stuff…with anyone?"
Wes shook his head. "And I'm not about to do it again, thank you. I'm not going back to therapy, and I'm not finding a different counselor. Once my dad is out of the picture, I'll have no more concerns."
"Except almost two decades worth of nightmare inducing memories that make most Stephen King novels look like Disney versions," Travis quipped. "Hey, can I borrow your phone?"
"Where the hell is yours?" Wes asked, irritated, even as he dug for his in his pocket.
"Battery died and I can't find my charger," Travis explained, and swiped the unlock sequence without even asking Wes. The man was too predictable with his passwords, for being a hotshot lawyer and homicide detective.
Travis really hadn't lost his phone charger. His was working fine. But something on this phone was holding entirely too much of his partner's attention lately. He quickly scanned to the text messages, and found over fifty from unknown or at least, unlabeled, numbers. They seemed to be his family – a couple were fairly obvious. The further down he scrolled, the further his stomach dropped.
All of them were telling Wes to help out his father. What a selfish man Wes was being, denying his father a life saving treatment. How dare he turn his back on his family. How could he just walk away like family meant nothing. And they were not politely put. Some of these terms were considered arrestable, depending on who was saying them to who.
How could a family do that to someone? Even if they didn't know about what Wes's parents were capable of, how could you say something like this to someone you were supposed to love? Travis wasn't even related by blood to 99% of his brothers and sisters, and he would never say some of these things, no matter how angry he was. Next chance he got he was getting one of the IT guys to block Wes's number from any record outside of the police department.
The top menu of the phone flashed with a new message. It was from an unknown number, and Travis clicked it without thinking. He almost dropped the phone.
My beautiful boy, I know why you don't want to see your father, but why can we not meet? I have missed you…no one can replace you. Not even Charles –
"What the hell are you doing?" Wes snapped, grabbing the phone out of Travis's unresisting fingers.
Travis didn't say anything – he couldn't. Oh, he just wanted to strangle the woman to death.
When Wes looked down at the message, his mask slipped a little and Travis could see the haunted look in his eyes before he angrily jabbed at the phone and put it back in his pocket.
"Wes! Come on, man!" Travis jogged after his partner who was speed walking back to his car. "I wouldn't pry if you would just talk to me!"
"Talk about what Travis? Will suddenly everything go away if I tell you about my entire family berating me into saving the family patriarch just so their trust funds don't disappear? How about if I tell you about how I keep getting texts from my mother I don't think even a hooker would write? Talking doesn't make it better, Travis, it just makes it real. And I don't want real, because I can't get away from it. If it's just nightmares, if it's just in my head, I can wake up. I can move on. But not if it's a conversation with someone else." Wes's shoulders sagged a little as he leaned against the roof of the Chrysler. "Especially not if it's you, and I have to see you every day with that look on your face."
Travis huffed. "Fine. I won't push. But if I think you're about to do something stupid, like go and meet one of them, say for instance, at a hospital, I'm going cuff you to the desk."
"I am not about to help any of them. Which is why family has decided to campaign against me. I need to see about getting my number changed and off any and all lists known to man," Wes grumbled.
Small as it was, Travis was still glad they were on the same page about one thing.
"This is definitely the work of the same person," Jonelle said, pointing at the stab wounds low on the homeless man's abdomen. "It's surgical type precision too – not the shaky hands of someone who hasn't done it before, probably someone with a medical degree. You can see that the liver is lacerated pretty badly though, so it was probably intended to make the victim suffer, rather than kill them quietly. Someone with the kind of skill to do something like this could've easily stabbed them in the heart, any one the major arteries…this was intentional, to cause pain."
"So we're looking for someone with a medical background…what're the odds that this level of skill is by someone still a student?" Travis asked.
Jonelle shrugged. "It's possible, but you'd be looking at a Doogie Howser. This is probably along the lines of a specialist in surgeries relating to transplants."
"That an especially short list?" Wes asked.
"In the state of California, I think there's probably…four? Five? That could do this level. In the country…less than thirty," Jonelle replied.
"Perfect," Wes said, smiling though it looked a bit wan. "Thanks for the help."
As they turned to leave the autopsy, Jonelle called back for Travis, who looked more than a little surprised that she wanted to talk to him at all.
Jonelle carefully looked back at Wes's retreating figure before she whispered, "Is everything okay with Wes?"
"Yeah. Family in town. You know what family is like," Travis said, smiling. "I'm keeping an eye on him, I swear."
"Make sure he eats something. He looks awful. And get rid of his family. They don't look like they're doing him any favors."
"Working on it," Travis said, grumbling to himself. "I might need help hiding a few bodies though."
"I hear pig farms are good. There's one about twenty miles outside of town. Just saying," Jonelle said, smiling.
"I'll keep that in mind," Travis said, returning the grin before following after Wes towards the bullpen.
"What did Jonelle want?" Wes asked, not looking up from the computer. He was already sifting through personnel files for a possible suspect – transplant surgeon, probably disgraced or some other issue with society that's hopefully been documented by the press or a journal.
"Just to give me more shit without a witness," Travis said, flopping into his chair, scrubbing a hand over his face. "You know how it is."
"No, actually I do not. Because I don't date in the work place," Wes said smugly.
"You and Alex worked together," Travis pointed out.
"We were already engaged when I started work at the firm. Doesn't count."
"Does so! Dating in the work place! Engaged in the work place is the same thing, it just means you're hyper exclusive," Travis protested.
"You know, with thinking like that, it's a wonder that people insist that romance is dead," Wes said. Anything else he could've said was cut off when his phone rang. "We'll continue this in a second. Detective Mitchell," he answered the cell.
"Get my messages? If you don't sign the paper, I will make sure their last moments are a picnic compared to yours, son."
That voice was impossible to forget. Like fingernails on slate, and a sinister promise that hung in the air against anyone who would defy him.
Wes dropped the phone as if it burned him, the call already truncated even as it hit the floor and fractured the flimsy screen. He could feel the panic building up again, even as Travis picked up the phone.
His father was behind it. His father was a murderer.
And he was coming after him.
Sooo…not sure how this worked out. I love feedback, constructive or otherwise. Let me know you're still reading, even though Common Law isn't on Friday anymore. Speaking of which…anyone know if it's been renewed? Please say yes?
Also – would anyone be interested in a Common Law fic that features my partners at work? It'd be a totally crackfic/humor story, but if no one wants to read it, I'll just write it for myself and leave it on my computer. Read and review!