Disclaimer - I do not own Cause of Death.
This is written based on the alternative ending to Volume 11, Chapter 3 – so SPOILER ALERT!
She sat, completely motionless, in spite of the rock music blaring through the amplifiers in the club. Staring down at a particular brown folder, she felt herself ripped into two. The big, black, bold words "The American" was practically screaming in her mind, driving her teetering on the edge of breaking down.
She never thought the informant would be him. Him. The man she loved.
The bartender shoved her the tequila shot that she ordered after the guy with dirty blonde hair left. Unable to will herself to move her hand to touch the glass, she gazed at the dainty container. Strands of her chocolate-colored hair broke free from the miniature bobby pin, and she shook her head to get rid of that rogue strand.
Not even Oscar's promise of an anniversary dinner could cheer her up anymore.
As she sat alone in the bar, Natara found herself in a maze without an end. Her mind wandered aimlessly through the hazy events of the past, the anecdotes that marked and changed her lives.
It was after that toe-curling kiss that Mal was abducted and promptly pulled into a rented caravan. For the first time since birth, Natara felt complete. She felt whole. Whole, as if nothing but Mal could fill the hollow spot in her heart. Her mind constantly raced back to that eventful wedding with Oscar, which Mal crashed in order to save the entire San Francisco from being gassed. It was on that day when she realized her true feelings towards the choirboy with dazzling cerulean eyes.
She knew, that a part of her still loved Oscar. She knew that she still cared about him. She knew that he had helped her heal when she was scarred by Shawn. She also knew that Mal was the one who was perfect for her.
On that eventful evening two years ago, with the cool nighttime breeze caressing her cheeks, she did the only thing that made sense to her.
"I'm tired of pretending."
At this instant, she could hear her own words tumbling out of her tightly pursed lips. Heaving a sigh, she gathered the file and dumped it into her briefcase that suddenly became twice as heavy. That manila folder no longer contained information about a cartel officer named "The American". It also contained the proscriptive story of her love.
"Detective Mal Fallon."
She could hear his deep resonating voice reverberating from his toned, muscular chest, shattering the last of her self-defense left standing. She remembered when she witnessed the corpse of Sophie Patterson at Fisherman's Turf. She was suffocated. The mask was tightly plastered onto Sophie's beautiful face, making it haunting and featureless.
Sometimes, Natara wondered if she was true victim under the Maskmaker.
"Shawn… You need help…"
She recalled, with perfect clarity, that the profiler that she once loved turned into a bloodthirsty demon. He became a demon who yearned to torment her for revenge. After the shootout in Miami that wounded Shawn accidentally, the mask that she forced onto her face became more secure each day. The long, jagged scar that ran down her left shoulder to her forearm was the perfect reminder of her downfall.
The downfall of Natara Mansingh Williams.
Mal was the first one that she felt attracted to upon landing to San Francisco. Even Ken, who died while saving Amy, didn't hold the same attraction to her.
In fact, she instantly felt an invisible hand push her straight into Mal's warm, muscular arms. She sensed warmth and care for the first time since she was kicked out of home in college. For the first time in the thirty-two years of her existence, she felt warmth emanating from a stranger. She deciphered the language that he spoke was love.
The perpetual yearning, the eternal longing, the devastating calamity - were caused by this evil word of four little alphabets.
At the same time, however, she was afraid of falling in love. The only person she had loved except family was Jane, her deceased best friend that was always by her side. When she started working at the FBI, Shawn gradually found his way into her heart. Soon she began letting her tall walls down to a point of no return. Shawn had transformed into an utter demonic being that was determined to avenge on her.
Natara Williams, the brunette that had everything, was afraid of loving others. That was why she refused to let Mal call her by Nat once they met on Fisherman's Turf. She loved the nickname, the nickname that reminded her of Shawn and how he was injured all thanks to her.
Despite being the successful profiler, Natara was an insecure girl. Work was the sole distraction she had for herself, the driving force for her to forget everything that happened in Miami. She knew she had to start a new life in San Francisco. She couldn't let this little choirboy with dirty blonde hair and dazzling azure eyes mess up her plan of recovery.
It didn't help her.
Instead, it hurt her even more.
Exiting the club wordlessly, the chilly air and light drizzle welcomed her. She strolled aimlessly on the street, letting her black stilettos hit against the cement rhythmically. As she strolled, something caught her sight.
It was a newly-opened candy store, fascinating to everyone. Pushing the door open, she was surprised to find the store still open at midnight; but she was more surprised at finding who was at the counter.
A pair of sparkling green irises held Natara's gaze. The owner of the emerald orbs stood up in shock. Her midnight hair was cascading down her back, covering half of her face. Natara froze momentarily. A million question was popping up in her mind, demanding answers.
"Hi Natara," Raven Logan waved gently, yet the haunted look and sadness was obvious in her eyes. "Do you miss him?"
"Uncle Mal," Raven swallowed, her eyes became glassy.
"Oh Raven," Natara walked around the counter and softly pulled Raven into an embrace, "I miss him. I do, but I'm married now."
Raven's eyes almost bulged out of here sockets. Hesitating for a while, she guided Natara to the back of the store where a miniature carousel sat. Seeing the tiny carousel, Natara could almost picture a kid with mahogany hair and sapphire blue brown eyes sitting on the carousel, smiling as if the world didn't matter.
The instant thought confirmed her feelings. Deep in her heart, Natara knew she loved Mal Fallon dearly. After his disappearance, Natara spent days and nights looking for him. Oscar had told her that Mal was probably taken away by a private jet and helped her obtain information. Yet, nothing was found.
Malachi Charles Fallon disappeared from San Francisco, California, United States of America after Natara Williams kissed him.
Somehow, it was her fault that Mal was taken away. Had she kept her feelings under control and refrained from stopping by Mal's residential complex, she wouldn't have caught him at the entrance. She wouldn't have kissed him. Mal would have been gone before his flat exploded and he was abducted.
He gave her the best five minutes in her life.
She was the one who turned the world around.
She was the one who kissed him out of the blue.
She was the indirect cause of his abduction.
It was all her fault.
It was her fault that Mal, Oscar and her had to suffer now.
Grudgingly, Natara slowly trudged to the door, with a glass of rum in her hands. The visitor was certainly not expected, especially after how she broke his heart a year ago.
The one and only District Attorney, Oscar Santos.
Stepping aside, Natara let Oscar enter her apartment and sat on the couch.
"Hello," Natara mumbled.
"Hey," Oscar replied, "this was hard on you, wasn't it?" He was referring to Mal's disappearance exactly half a year ago on that eventful day. The day when the infamous Reese Gables decided to detonate an N-13 gas bomb at Natara and his wedding. The day when Mal Fallon crashed the wedding to save the entire San Francisco. The day when his heart broke all over again.
Wordlessly, Natara nodded. "I know this place looks like a mess... I barely use it anymore." What she meant was that she was sleeping on the lounge in the precinct five days or more per week.
"What about the alcohol? I knew Natara wouldn't drink such strong drinks."
"I've been on it for quite a while... I couldn't forget about Mal, nor the pain of losing him right after I owned up my feelings to him," she looked at the ground, analyzing the geometry of which the carpet held.
"Natara," Oscar awkwardly began, "you need to stay strong. Fallon will hate to see you so weak, so feeble and so hopeless. If you have to find him and help him, you need to break away from this alcohol. You need to get proper rest on your bed instead of that crappy couch in the lounge. You heard me?"
Half a year after that painful night, Natara began to hang out with Oscar. She slowly noticed that the gash in her heart slowly began mending, and smiles began appearing on here face more often. When Oscar proposed again, she did hesitate. She deliberated whether she would make a good and faithful wife to Oscar when she was irrevocably in love with another person.
Nonetheless, she accepted.
She had seen a report saying that Mal's corpse was discovered in Indiana, and she numbly accepted the truth after some weeping. She had decided, that Mal was no longer alive. She convinced herself that he wouldn't be there to make the sweet Fallon-styled proposal to her. She realized that no man on this earth would ever take the place that Mal occupied in her heart.
Still, she accepted Oscar's proposal. She knew that she couldn't commit herself to loving Oscar like how she loved Mal. Yet, she could commit to be the good devoted wife, couldn't she?
Natara knew she loved Oscar, but she also totally comprehended that she was in love with Mal.
She understood that it was cruel to put Oscar through this again. However, if Oscar decided to propose again, did that mean he understood Natara's heart?
Mal knew he made the biggest mistake in his life when he pulled the trigger to kill the brujo two years ago. It was that shot that made him what he was at present. The tiny gesture made him The American.
Surely he had felt a twinge of regret and guilt when he decided to trade his SFPD badge for a Flores Drug Cartel badge, but hell! He wanted to get over that he couldn't see his Natara for the rest of his life.
The connection he shared with Natara was unrealistically real. He married Sandra Taggart. Did he love her? Perhaps... Yes? He was so pissed at her infidelity and his heart did break. He dated Tasha to get over Sandra, but did he fall in love with her? Nope. Did he fall in love with the sick Selene Mensra? Hell no.
No other women got him bewitched as Natara Williams. The brunette got him enchanted, healed his heart that was apathetically slashed by Sandra. She was his partner and saved his life numerous times. She even risked her life to save him.
Now, the billion dollar question was: Did you have any feelings towards Natara Williams?
At the bottom of his heart, despite being molded into a lethal killing machine, a part of him still cared for the Creepy FBI Mind-Reading Agent. He still recalled with perfect clarity that his heart fluttered when she flipped her hair. His fists did clench involuntarily when Kai called her Agent Boom Bottie Hottie. His self-control almost snapped when he knew she was trapped in a sewer alone with Shawn.
He had never been so captivated by a woman before.
Mal Goddamn Fallon, you're busted.
His guts told him it was wrong to set foot into that club, but two years of cartel training had taken the ability of following his guts from him. Shooting had become his instinct. Once he stepped in, he knew he made another deadly mistake.
Natara Williams was sitting alone there, smiling at a text message.
It was Oscar.
Controlling his simmering anger, he strolled coolly over to her.
"Hey," he said quietly, his voice low and almost inaudible.
"Oh... Oh my god... It's you... It's really you," Natara gasped, her hand flying to her heart and clutching it.
"All this time.. Every one else thought you were dead, but I knew... I knew you were out there somewhere..." Natara rambled on, and Mal could feel his heart shattering. You sicko, you put her through so much - what did you expect? Waiting for you to come back?
"Yeah. About that." He replied absently.
As Natara rose, intending to sit beside him, he stopped her.
"Actually, it'd be better if you stayed there."
"What... What are you talking about? What's wrong?" Her eyes filled with concern.
"You know damn well what's wrong. Don't play around, Natara. I know you figured it out."
Natara hesitated, before spilling the truth that she deciphered. "So it's true. You've been working for the Salazar cartel."
"'Working is a funny word for it. I might have gone with 'killing, torturing and stealing.'" Mal scowled. He grimaced inwardly as he remembered how he used to wince at needles and Natara would tease him, but he couldn't let the past memories overwhelm him and make him forget what he came for.
Mal continued after pausing, "And you know what? I don't mind a bit."
Natara had a sharp intake of breath. "Oh Mal, what did they do to you?"
He held up his palm. Now, that was exactly why he didn't tell Natara when he came back a month after he was kidnapped. "No. Don't pity me. And don't make excuses. I made the choice to cross one moral line. Then another. Then another. And soon enough, I couldn't even remember why I'd ever had any moral lines to begin with."
Natara lunged across the table and grabbed his rough, weathered hands in her petite ones.
"Mal, please.. You were kidnapped, tortured, brainwashed... I can help you," She pleaded.
He jerked his hand away.
"There's no help for me, Natara. So don't try. Stop looking for me. Stop digging. Leave me alone."
Slowly standing up and fixing his coat, he prolonged every word. "This was a warning. Next time... I won't be so nice."
He turned to leave, leaving Natara stunned and flabbergasted.
He shivered as he left the club in the rain, his teeth clattering. He regretted walking out on Natara - again - when he could help it. He knew he couldn't bear to see Natara's heart break again, yet he couldn't face Natara... especially with her wedding band on her index finger.
If only I hadn't pulled that damn trigger! I wouldn't have joined that Salazar cartel! Hell, what the heck were I even doing at that time?
Clenching his fist, he punched the nearest wall. "Dammit!" He gritted his teeth.
"Mal... You're back," A delighted voice rang behind him, and he spun around only to find a blonde with blue eyes.
"Blaise?" He squinted his eyes. "Don't come any closer."
Blaise's expression blanked.
"Just don't." He repeated, almost pleading.
"Fine. Have it your way." Obviously annoyed at Mal's distant behaviour, she headed to the club.
Natara sat on the carousel, looking down in deep meditation.
Natara looked up immediately, and saw a blonde, her blue eyes piercing into her brown ones.
The blonde nodded. "I saw Mal."
"Why didn't you tell me, Natara? We haven't been the best of friends, but gosh! Anders will be pissed, but at least he'd be back in the force!" Blaise scowled.
"He can't," Natara softly mumbled.
"He can't," Taking a deep breath, Natara continued.
"You remember the killer? The American?" Natara stared straight into Blaise's azure eyes, and they widened in realization.
"Shoot," Blaise muttered, "What the hell do we do?"
Natara looked down at the ground again. She knew she had to help Mal, even if he refused. It was an obligation to her, after how they saved each others' lives at work before. Those were the good times when the duo would go to Sean's to have a nice supper after paper work.
Those times were within reach, yet unreachable. She longed for Mal's company when she tracked down suspect. She yearned for Mal's jokes when she was sulking at paper work.
I miss Mal.
She looked up, eyes blazing with determination.
"I'll find him. I will. Even if he threatens to shoot me and tells me to get the hell out of his way. I am going to save him," Natara declared.
And I will do anything to find him, even if it means losing my job and going into the cartel.
Originally uploaded on 10/20/2012, rewritten on 2/8/2013
Sorry for all these fuss! A friend gave me some really good advice on editing and so I had to do it :)