I was originally gonna submit this for the contest but I didn’t finish in time. Ah well.
OH MY GOSH THIS IS AMAZING. -NA
It was three weeks since Sollux Captor’s ‘accident’. No one in the department had quite gotten over it yet.
How could you get over one of your own being directly targeted by a psychotic serial killer?
Aradia had been placed on leave of absence – Chief Ampora’s reasoning being that she was emotionally compromised, having been so close to Captor. Vantas argued that he should be put on leave too, but the Chief had squashed that rebellion. So he was sitting at his desk, muttering angrily and attempting to boycott his job by being no more productive than playing minesweeper and trying to crash the firewall.
Detective Maryam watched him over the rim of her coffee mug. She was feeling down about the accident – why wouldn’t she? Sollux was one of her close friends, along with Karkat – but she certainly wasn’t going to give up. Now she only wanted to find Capricorn even quicker – before he could hurt someone else.
What had Detective Makara said when they hadn’t found a note at the most recent crime scene? “Maybe Capricorn will give us a message in a different way.”
And he had. He had placed a corrupted file where he’d known Captor would discover it. Now their tech analyst was in a coma, and they were no closer to identifying and capturing the Capricorn killer than they had been when Kanaya was placed on the case.
Makara seemed mildly confused– and also slightly amused– by the entire situation. Of course he was; he was new to the squad, and hadn’t even met Captor.
His uncaring for the travesty and constant focus on the case was a welcome distraction for Kanaya. They often stayed late at the station, pouring over what little evidence they had, coming up with theories, scribbling out those that were completely outrageous, and thoroughly discussing those left over rather strong cups of coffee – which were not anywhere near as good as the coffee made by the Chief.
So far they could agree on one thing: Capricorn either had someone on the inside, was hacking the squad’s data files – or he was on the inside himself.
The last was a frightening possibility, and Kanaya put it out of mind. She was unwilling to think that any of her fellow squad members could be the serial killer who had placed her friend in danger. And it would mean that someone she had known for years was actually a psychotic murderer with enough strength to bash in someone’s skull.
Or at least, it would mean that for everyone except Makara. The expert from the 1413th that no one could quite remember, the man who had spent five years of his life on the Capricorn case and never received any contact, nor gotten very far in the case, and who, admittedly, was rather attractive – she didn’t know him very well. She had no idea what he was capable of.
But she wasn’t ready to put him on the suspects list. Not yet.
Which was why, when he came to her with his invitation, she didn’t refuse.
She had been preparing for another long night of coffee and discussion – both personal and case-related, though more case-related – when he approached her.
“Well, Detective Maryam, do you have plans for this evening?” He observed her over the rim of his coffee mug, a smile tugging at the corners of his lips as she took the mug he had placed on her desk and promptly drained half of it.
“Oh, I thought I would just stay in and get some more work accomplished. Why? Do you have something going on? Should I plan on being by myself this evening?”
“Of course not, what kind of gentleman would I be to leave a lady alone?” He set his now-empty mug on the coaster Kanaya so frequently ignored. “I was merely asking so I could know whether or not it would be appropriate for me to ask you to dinner.”
She was taken aback by this sudden proposal. “Dinner?”
“Oh, yes. I am sure you certainly must be tired of our constant consumption of Chinese takeout. There’s an Italian restaurant near where I’m staying that I’ve been meaning to try for a while.” And he smiled, that oh-so charming and handsome smile that could never fail to draw one in return.
“Well, since you’re so polite about it, I can’t see why not.”
“Wonderful! Shall we go?”
She glanced at the clock on her desk. “It’s only five…”
“Well, yes, but I was thinking we might use the time to get to know each other. It’s not like there’s any pressing work we need to get done, after all. Come on, I’ll drive.”
And so she was herded out of the squad room, like a sheep before a dog. Chief Ampora waved absently at them from his desk, and Karkat shouted after them, “Yeah! Sure! Leave me with Pyrope! I totally don’t mind!”
Kanaya caught only the start of Terezi’s retort before the door clicked shut.
The restaurant was empty – perhaps because they had arrived so early, but also perhaps because it was a weekday. It could also be because of the recent activity of that monster known as the Capricorn killer, though the last killing was far from this side of town, in a much worse neighborhood.
Makara – no, Gamzee, he had insisted that she call him Gamzee, and she had responded that he could call her Kanaya – had ordered them some wine to go with their dinner – a veal dish for him, a bowl of gnocchi and chicken soup for her.
They tried to keep conversation light, away from the case – but no matter how complicated their dance, the topic kept getting in their way. Eventually, it became too difficult to avoid the subject.
“So…What drew you to the Capricorn case?” She looked up at Gamzee from under her hair, gauging his reaction to the question.
His reaction was nonexistent—except she thought a mild look of amusement crossed his face, though it could have been a trick of the dim lighting in the room – and lifted his glass to his lips. “Well, you can’t really say I was drawn to it. In fact, when I was first assigned to it, I completely and totally despised it and kept asking for a case transfer.” He chuckled and took a sip of the blood-red wine. “But after a while it just sunk its claws into me. I suppose what really fascinates me about it is how he kills. The fact that he chooses to bludgeon his victims to death rather than shoot them or poison them or any other number of much quicker methods of dispatching them is very distinctive. He doesn’t mind the time it takes to do this, or the mess. And the fact that there is seldom evidence of post-mortem bruising shows that he prefers his victims alive. He’s a sadistic monster, yes, but he is also a master at his art.”
“Killing is an art? I was unaware.” She lifted her spoon to her lips.
“Well, certainly not in the traditional sense of the arts, it isn’t…But I don’t believe that you’ll tell me that you don’t find something beautiful in it.”
She couldn’t. Though it was brutal and senseless, she couldn’t help but see beauty in the splatters of blood, the bruised corpses, the shattered bones. She would never admit this – especially not here, in a high-end restaurant. So she changed the topic to something more light-hearted: how did he like Alternia city? Was he settling in well? How was the place where he was staying? Conversation slowly danced away from the case of the Capricorn killer.
Two bottles of wine and a demolished dessert sampler later, Gamzee was fumbling for his car keys while Kanaya sat on the hood, watching him and giggling profusely. After the third time trying – unsuccessfully – to unlock the driver’s door, he grinned drunkenly at her and shrugged. “It looks like we’re not drivin anywhere. Mind comin home with me tonight, lil’ lady?”
She slid off the hood of the car, stumbling a bit as her feet hit the ground, continuing to giggle as Gamzee caught her. “Why, Mr. Makara, of course I will accept your gracious invitation!”
He chuckled, wrapping his arm around her waist and pulling her close against him. “Well, I am delighted.”
He kissed her, and she kissed him back.
She woke in the middle of the night, screaming, and it took her a few moments to remember where she was. When the realization hit her that she was not in her own bed, not in her own apartment, she glanced hurriedly to the other side of the bed, to see if she had awoken Gamzee.
But the other side of the bed was empty.
She slowly climbed out of bed, clutching the sheet to her, leaving the bedroom to enter the main room of the apartment. “Gamzee? Gamzee, are you there?”
She received no response, and moved into the kitchen. A note was attached to the fridge with a smily-faced magnet, written in neat print.
I woke up while you were still asleep and felt the need to take a walk. There are coffee grounds in the freezer and food in the refrigerator should it be morning before I return, though I highly doubt that. Please, feel free to make yourself at home.
She read this with a touch of worry, and glanced at the clock. It was just after midnight, and they had arrived at his apartment at nine. What was he doing out so late, when a murderer was on the loose?
She went back to the bedroom and dressed, collecting her clothing from where it lay scattered on the floor. Then she returned to the kitchen, flipped his note over, and wrote her own note on the back in neat cursive.
I decided to take a walk myself. I promise I will return here in the event we do not encounter each other on the street.
She placed the note back under the magnet, put the pen back in the pen mug on the counter, and headed for the door, grabbing her coat as she passed the hook on the wall.
Contrary to her hopes, she did not see him as she was out walking – and she had already ventured several blocks from the apartment building in which he was staying. She was about to turn back when something caught her eye – a door, hanging ajar.
She looked around, and saw no one – not even a single car. Fear of the Capricorn killer was keeping people in their houses after the sun had set. It seemed she and Makara – Gamzee – where the only two people brave enough – or crazy enough – to risk the shadowed streets.
She approached the darkened portal, hand moving to her hip where her gun usually rested – though it was currently locked in the door of her desk back at the precinct offices. She suddenly felt very vulnerable, a clear target. But this did not stop her, and as she neared the gently swinging door she called into the darkness. “Hello? Is there anyone in there?”
She stepped over the lintel, her hand still at her hip, as if the gun were there.
“My name is Detective Maryam, I’m with the APD. Is everything alright?”
She received no response, and stepped further.
“I’m not going to hurt you. Please, if anyone’s there, please speak up –“
There was a screech, and someone flew at her from the darkness, throwing her down to the ground. She barely had time to register that she was being attacked when they started clawing at her – her face, her neck, her clothing.
Kanaya groped blindly behind her, searching for something, anything that she could use as a weapon to get them off of her, feeling blood trickling down her face where they had cut her cheek. Finally, her hand closed around something, some blunt, heavy object, and she raised it, smashing it into her assailant’s head with all the strength she could muster. They let out a strangled cry and fell back, hands rising to protect themselves – but she didn’t stopped. She swung again – and again – and again.
Finally her assailant’s struggles and cries ceased, and she scrambled to her feet, panting, the blood-spattered object still in her hand. Her eyes slowly adjusted to the dark, and horror dawned on her as the person who had attacked her was revealed.
It was Detective Aradia Megido, the squad member who had been placed on leave, the woman who had acted as Kanaya’s partner until Captor’s “accident”. There was blood everywhere – the body, the floor, Kanaya’s clothing.
She looked down at the object in her hand, dropping it and recoiling when she saw it for what it was: a blood-spattered juggling pin.
There was laughter behind her.
“Hello, Detective Maryam. Or should I call you Kanaya?”
She didn’t turn, instead staring at her hands. There was blood on them – warm, red, and sticky. Her horror faded to fascination as she stared at the patterns the splatters had made on her hands, her coat sleeves. Yes, she could definitely see Detective Makara’s point now – there was great beauty in these murders, even with their great inelegance.
A heavy hand rested on her shoulder. “You enjoyed it, didn’t you? Don’t lie to me, my Darling Kanaya; of all people, I know that you see the beauty in my line of work.”
His voice was familiar. But where had she heard it before?
“You see, Detective Maryam, I have had my eye on you for quite some time. You’re smart, elegant…You’re perfect. There is no other word to describe you.”
She turned, and stared up into the brilliant blue-violet eyes she had been admiring only hours before in the restaurant, though now they were filled with a crazed sort of intelligence, lit by a mirthful gleam. The handsome smile was replaced with one of insane joy, and she could feel a similar grin tugging at the corners of her lips, a calm reply rising to her tongue.
“Perhaps we could better discuss this back at your apartment…Detective Makara.”
Chief Ampora and Detectives Vantas and Pyrope were waiting for them at the scene when they arrived, their faces bearing identical expressions of disbelief and shock. Kanaya and Gamzee exchanged a glance before approaching.
“Chief, what’s wrong?”
It was Karkat who answered. “Megido. Aradia, I mean. He got her. First Captor, now her. It’s like he’s…like he’s targeting our team, or something. Just…fuck.” Having said this, he slowly collapsed on the low wall to the left of the door, and Terezi sat next to him, her arm going around his shoulders.
Gamzee raised his eyebrows. “Another killing, so soon? He certainly is picking up his pace.” He lifted the tape stretched across the door for Kanaya to duck under. “I suppose we must do the same.”
“Of course we must, Detective Makara.” Kanaya snapped on the rubber gloves, her eyes scanning the crime scene – the unnatural position of the body, the blood spatters, the absence of a weapon – all typical of a Capricorn killing. “These are our comrades he’s attacking. We simply cannot allow him to continue.” Her eyes met his in the reflection of a hall mirror, and the grins on their faces would have given a clear message to anyone who would care to look: I know something you don’t know.
But no one was looking, and the grins faded before they could be seen by anyone else. Gamzee knelt down next to the body, lightly lifting one of the limp and lightly bruised arms.
“There’s something different about this one.”
“Is there?” Kanaya was looking through the papers lying on the hall table, looking for some sort of note.
“Yes. Most of the trauma seems to be centered around the head, rather than scattered over the body, as is typically of one of Capricorn’s murders. These contusions are very light as well. There seems to have been much less strength put into the blows.”
“Perhaps he was having an off day.”
Kanaya picked up one of the papers and read it. “Well, Makara, it seems you got your wish.”
He looked up from the body. “My wish?”
She turned, the paper extended towards him. “Someone has left you a note.”
He took it from her, reading the jagged print, written in what seemed to be jade green lipstick.
Greetings, Detective Makara.
Whereas the Capricorn killer usually signed his notes with what had been decided to be a clown smiley, this note was signed with a kiss – in the same lipstick it had been written in.
He stared down at the note, head cocked slightly to the side. “Well, what do you know. It looks like Mr. Capricorn has himself a little lady accomplice.” And the grin spread across his face once more, his eyes narrowing behind his glasses, and she grinned back with lips painted black rather than their customary shade of jade green.
“Yes, Detective Makara, it certainly seems to be so.”
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