Bone and Blood

by K-Nice

Disclaimer: The X-Men characters, and all other recognizable characters are copyright to Marvel Entertainment Group. This work of FanFiction is not meant to infringe on that copyright or defame Marvel Comics or the X-Men and related characters in any way.

Copyright: No copying, distributing or editing of this material is permitted without the express permission of the creator, K-Nice, under United States copyright law. Life isn't worth living if you live it from intensive care.

Notes: It's a Elseworld: the characters that get together in this fic are together because they exist in this world and does not idicate who I think should get it on in canon. Also, This story is majorly and beyond all excuses graphic in some places. I would not read this story myself if it hadn't sprung nearly whole and irritating from my brow one night. Please do not read this if violence and rape offend you, which they should. I'm a fan of shows like Law & Order and Homocide so they have influenced this tale. While I have read Raven Adams fic, this is in no way a rip-off of her story, my inspiration came from a completely different direction. Another thing, I don't have it in for Jean or Xavier, but in the police world, profilers don't get that much respect.

One hand on the gear shaft, the other on the door handle, Detective Lebeau came to a jarring stop inches from the cruiser in front of his late-model Lexus. He had an ex-girlfriend with Vice connections that was still nostalgic enough over their ill-fated romance to tip him on hot police auctions. He still had the sneaking suspicion that he should have Logan go over it with his K-9's to be certain she hadn't put a brick of coke in the upholstery for the next time he went through a road stop. It was the kind of goodbye present she would enjoy more than him.

"We'll probably need gloves, Rem." The smooth tones of his homicide partner sent him back into the glove compartment for a handful of latex. Ororo Munroe stepped away from the car as she affixed her badge to her light gray coat with a metal pin. Munroe insisted on wearing whites and creams to even the grimiest crime scenes. Lebeau always protested, but looking at her in the flashing red and blue lights, he knew it suited her. She always seemed to walk away as pristine as she came in.

"Allyoop, Ro." Tossing her a pair, Remy tucked his own in his coat pockets. His long fingers were already encased in black leather, but if he had to move any evidence, he would rather switch to latex then ruin his cowhides.

"I thought this was supposed to be low profile. Why all the blue and whites?" Detective Munroe's cinnamon brow wrinkled as she counted 8 patrol cars and twice as many officers. They were the first plainclothes in attendance, but already the place was crawling with cops, which meant the scene was probably trampled beyond usefulness. Sighing, she angled around a witness interview that smelled like a brewery and approached the alley that was drawing so much attention.

"Detectives, finally, we can get some order around here." The man looked genuinely relieved. He seemed to be the senior officer on site and the sweat beading on his dark forehead intimated how distressed he was by that position. Running a hand over his short black hair, he pointed down the alley where the street lights failed to reach. "She's back there. Hope you two didn't have a big dinner."

"Thank you, Officer Bishop. Has the ME's office been notified? Good, send them in ASAP." Ororo's words were more comfort than instruction. The densest of farm-boys could have figured out the same, but it allowed Bishop to take orders instead to give them, obviously something he was more comfortable with.

Remy was already halfway down the alley when Ororo starting picking her way through the filth to their objective. Grabbing her flashlight from the inside pocket of her duster, Detective Munroe kept the beam near her feet. Her partner's uncanny night vision was the stuff of department legend, but she took it in stride, protecting his sensitive black-brown eyes by rote. It also allowed her to focus right in front of her. There might be details that survived the other policemen's boots and this would be their last chance to catch those bits of evidence before the real circus began. Disappointed but not surprised, Ororo lifted the beam from the ground to pan over the scene.

Standing on the other side of the corpse, Detective Lebeau tapped a cigarette against his gloved palm. He wouldn't light it and litter the scene with ashes, not when forensics might still pull some Holmes like miracle out of their aluminum briefcases. "She hasn't been moved?"

"No sir. She's just like were found her. Is she another one?" Bishop's partner was eager and green, both around the gills and in experience.

Eyes gone hard, Lebeau stared at the rookie with enough malice to silence his excited chattering. "Another one of what, Officer . . .Japheth?"

"The . . . uh . . . serial killer. Is she one of his?"

Remy and Ororo exchanged a look. The serial murder of prostitutes was not a new phenomenon for New York City but this case took the cake. There were orders from Commissioner Fury himself to keep the whole thing under wraps until the perp had been nailed. The Carpenter, so called for his penchant for Christ-like arrangement of his victims, was a need-to-know case and according to their immediate superior, even other police departments weren't to be included in the loop. On one hand, they cursed the fact that their secret might be out; on the other, they would never have seen the body so soon if Jepheth hadn't put in a direct call to homicide.

Unable to come to a conclusion, the pair ignored the street cop and moved to examine the body. Letting his eyes adjust as his partner scanned the body, Remy finally glanced down as the beam illuminated the shoes that sat a few inches from the bare feet of the victim. They were stilettos, the heels worn to the metal from too much walking. The toes were painted a garish orange, unattractive in any light and more-so against such pale skin. The feet had been covered by hose, but the nylon was so shredded with runs that they served no real purpose. Oddly, the calves were muscular, the light catching ripples that continued up to the thighs, which were a creamy-white where they weren't stained burgundy with congealing blood.

Remy made his eyes jump over her brutalized pubic area and focus on the skirt bunched around her waist. The 'leather,' so cheap it probably squeaked, was slashed in a pattern that continued on the flesh of her torso. Her blouse, a green suede vest, was ribboned against her stiffening skin. Lebeau snorted at the small cross nestled between her bared breast. It had not served to protect her, in life nor death.

Looking away as the light glanced over her bludgeoned face, Remy switched his gloves and reached for the Carpenter's signature. A wooden spike driven through each palm. Silently, he examined the mutilation, daring himself to find the inscribed numbers before his partner. Ororo preferred to bend over rather than crouch, so Remy had the advantage and found the scripture first. "Sixty-six thousand one hundred seventy-five. Joshua is too short so it must be Revelation 17:5."

"And here I thought I had reformed you from Catholicism." Ororo smiled ruefully. Remy claimed to have eschewed religion, but she for one was grateful for whatever nun had tormented him through his Catechism. It was surely coming in handy on this case.

"One trip to a healer for a wicked flu does not a convert make, 'Ro. Besides, it's not like I know what it means. I'm just lucky to have remembered there were 66 canonical books. Don't look at me that way!" Something was tickling his brain, but Detective Lebeau was distracted from attending to it when a flashlight beam caught him square in the face. "Who the heck are you and who let you down here?"

"Peter Parker, Daily Bugle." The man was eager, waving his press pass like it was the golden ticket. "Maybe I could ask you two intelligent looking officers a few questions about the epidemic of dead hookers that seems to be plaguing New York? I mean, 20 dead in 3 months, that's seems like a lot don't you think?" Darting his hand to his camera, he tried to keep them distracted long enough for a few choice shots.

Nonplused, Munroe placed herself firmly between the reporter and corpse. "You won't find your Pulitzer here. Twenty dead in 3 months can not even be considered a rash much less an epidemic. These poor girls are dropping like flies. Drugs, AIDS, violence--choose one or all and you have your story."

Lebeau was at her side, and between the two of them, the shorter man didn't have a view of anything worth his film. "Take your notebook and your camera and go home." Ororo turned her back and listened for his retreating footsteps. They were both engrossed in the corpse when Parker found his perch, crawling out an apartment window and onto the fire escape. He couldn't do much, not without his flashbulb alerting his unknowing hosts below.

Another set of footsteps echoed down the alley. The sense of deja vu set Remy to rolling his eyes. "And you are?"

A lightening quick badge flash and "A.M.E. Reyes" with attitude to spare still didn't satisfy him. Ororo rose to her feet and held out a hand to neutralize the situation but her partner wasn't going to let it go. He picked the oddest times to get hostile.

"African Methodist Episcopalian? " He quirked an odd smile at her.

"Assistant Medical Examiner, smartie." She was already snapping on her gloves.

"Assistant Medical Examiner huh? And here I thought we were getting the real McCoy. " Remy stood just so he could tower over the Latina. Their combined height had worked on Parker, so he gave it another shot.

"McCoy's hip deep in jumpers. Seems there was this gang of them up on Hunt's Point playing lemming. Anyway, you got me and I'm better than you think so why don't you go hunt down a lead or two and I'll pamper our new friend." Already the camera was flashing with an ease and confidence that bespoke competence. No one noticed that some of the flashes came from above.

Both detectives were walking away before they had consciously decided to leave, a testimony to Reyes' brisk manner. A few long strides out to the street lights and the tickling in LeBeau's skull settled back for a long night.

A tap on a nearby desk roused both detectives from their computers. "So?" Crossing his arms and leaning on nothing, Lieutenant Summers tried to stare his too most enigmatic charges into submission. Since Munroe wasn't intimidated by anything and Lebeau thrived on challenging authority figures, he had to settle for a slight chair shift and an upward glance.

"It's him again. Apparently he's through with Mary Magdelene." Indicating the open King James teetering atop a stack of open files, Remy went back to entering the victims vitals from the ME's report into the database query.

"Have you sent this to the profiler?" Both officers fought to keep their eye averted. Summers made it clear that there was no nepotism in his department. His wife just happened to be the best criminal profiler on the East Coast, no questions asked. He had a knack for keeping the business face securely in place when necessary and this case demanded nothing less then professionalism, something he expected his detectives to understand.

"Not yet. We thought it could wait until morning." Ororo was deeply into a fingerprint search that was consistently giving her error messages. Distracted, she didn't even feel Remy kick her feet under the joined part of their desks.

"I think its clear that this is a sign of an escalation. The profiler assured us that when he ran out of Magdelene verses, he would quit." There was a hint of embarrassment and annoyance in his tone. Jean Gray-Summers rarely made mistakes. Why did it have to be with this case? He could already see the mess the Bugle and the Post would make when they found out he used his own wife as the case profiler and she was wrong.

"Maybe he's gotten a taste for killing." Lebeau tucked a cigarette between his lips and rocked back in his chair. The computer was plowing through the Violent Crime Analysis Program database, comparing the new corpse to older ones.

"Maybe it's the Millennium. It's really bringing out the nuts." Raven Darkholme sauntered in, as if the department head of Sex Crimes made regular visits to Homicide. Which she did.

"Hey Rave, you still owe me dinner and movie." Remy grinned, not noticing Ororo's suddenly straight spine.

"Remind me never to bet on the Islanders in the office pool. Hey Summers, how come I don't know there's a perp targeting hookers until a rookie cop calls my department by accident?" Raven placed one hand on her hip, consciously exposing her service revolver from it's hiding spot beneath her dark suit jacket. Jovial one minute, accusing the next, Darkholme was known to change moods like a chameleon changed colors.

"Sorry Rave, that's not my choice. I had orders from the nosebleed section. And I don't mean the cheap seats." Summers arms drifted to his hips, ready for the face-off.

"What's the matter? Did little brother Alex from the mayor's office get all over you about security leaks again? " Raven pretended to pout sympathetically. Remy and Ororo buried their heads in their screen savers, trying to remain as unobtrusive as possible. Battles between Darkholme and Summers got fierce fast.

Summers wasn't going to let her run roughshod over his emotions this time. He was in the right and that was all he needed. "No, Fury laid down the law. No one knows anymore than you do, except me, the detectives here and a few other key players." Including the woman putting his children to bed at that very moment.

"I'm not key? The guys icing hookers, and hookers are my bread and butter but I'm not key! I know, I know, "Fury's orders." Fine, I'll talk to the top dog if I have to, but I'm not gonna watch people die over a little bureaucracy." Even a hard-case like Darkholme couldn't work with street-walkers for long before their sad stories got under her skin. The "my" was unspoken but Darkholme was as proprietary as a pimp. A swift turn on her heels and Raven was gone, leaving tense silence in her wake.

"She's right you know. We're cutting of our right arm by not having some Vicers on board." Still typing, Ororo spoke carefully to ease the violence that seemed to simmer in the air. "They might know some possible perps--"

"We've been over that. This guys no john. Look at this: "the mother of all harlots." This freak is on some kind of religious crusade. You've seen the bodies, the mutilations. He doesn 't have sex with the victims, he sodomizes and slashes them." Remy and Ororo flinched in tandem. One girl had been pregnant, her budding uterus found shredded and slippery beside her body. "We've got a pack of dead prostitutes and all indications point to more. You two better get your butts in gear before this whole thing blows up in our faces." He mimicked Darkholme's exit in the opposite direction, his office door ringing with the impact.

"On that note, I'll be calling it a night. This stupid machine is starting to irritate me." Munroe logged out without reading the last error message. [Subject is not in Criminal Records. Please enter Officer Records pass code.]

Once again, they had a very convincing discussion via cell phone as to why they shouldn't be sleeping together, which lead to the ingenious solution of not sleeping at all. Remy lay awake in her bed while Ororo nursed a cup of herbal tea at her kitchen table. They had never been more than friends before, but this case and silence that surrounded it had left them nowhere to go but each others arms.

Remy turned to rub his hand over her vacant pillow, pulling away a single strand of white hair. He was fascinated by it, a curiosity that had prompted their first encounter. She kept it at shoulder length, but it was still startling to see someone which such rich skin have such light hair. Staring at the strand, the tickling became an itch, then a burn.

White and red.

White and red on a single head.

He had played with strains of white hair before. His ex-girlfriend from Sex Crimes, Rebecca McKenna, nicknamed Rogue for the numerous times she broke orders for the sake of her innate sense of justice. They had the same drive for their work, the same dedication to duty, but their interests were too different for it to last very long. He could remember the long nights with her head on his chest, stroking the fine white hairs that sprouted front and center, like a skunk-stripe in her auburn hair. He had convinced her to grow her hair out long from the pageboy she preferred for the sheer pleasure of touching it. She claimed her hair had turned white the day her first boyfriend took her out into the Mississippi woods to teach her a "new game."

He chuckled softly. That was the best part of their time together, comparing stories of their southern upbringing, lamenting whatever lapse in logic had brought them north to the Yankee capital of the world. They went to the Bronx to root for the Braves, hunted down every collard greens and fried chicken joint in the five boroughs. He supposed they had confused that connection, that sense of comfort, with love. Toward the end, they had stopped talking about anything except the South. And that was before the Carpenter had begun to dominant his case load

While Rebecca had the strength to handle dealing with child molesters and rapist day in and day out, Remy firmly believed they should all be taken down to Central and have the backs of their heads aerated by .38 rounds. She had stopped telling him about her day at work when he vomited in her kitchen sink after a particularly sick child abuse tale. He couldn't stomach the idea of anyone, especially not a child, suffering that way. On the other hand, while he found corpses intriguing and the stories they told exhilarating, she was traumatized by the sight of a dead cat in the alley beneath his loft. He had taken to changing his clothes before he picked her up because she claimed he smelled like death.

Their passion for their work finally eclipsed their passion for each other and they had ended without an overabundance of tears or throw objects. Rebecca had cut her hair again the very next week, but his sources claimed that had to do with a case and nothing more. They had called it quits over Thanksgiving but Remy still sent her a Christmas present. He couldn't take lingerie back to the store and he had no one else at the time to give it to. She accepted the gift and then called her tip on the auction a belated thank you note. His sources (a.k.a. Raven after a night at the pub) said she was hot and heavy with an German metallurgist at ESU.

His musings did little to calm the slow burn at the edge of his brain, but Ororo's return did wake him out of his reverie. She wore a short white robe that left her long legs exposed. She still held the cup of tea but she did not seem very interested in it. "Do you remember the spikes?"

He remembered every single pair. "Yeah, what about 'em?"

Tentatively, as she were still discovering something, Ororo continued, "They weren't like the others. The numbers were rough, hurried. Usually he takes great pride in the craftsmanship, these last ones were of a cheaper wood quality and it looked like he cut them down with a duller knife." She stood there, shimmering, swaying as the thought spun through her mind and out her mouth. Remy loved watching her work. "There were wooden crates in the alley, trash, but a few of them were torn apart. Figured one of our guys tampered with them for some reason, but now . . ." She gained momentum, nearly buzzing as things clicked into place. She paused. "I don't think he planned this one at all."

"What?! According to our profile, he's control obsessed. These are not crimes of passion, he's not a raving lunatic in the traditional sense. He likes the planning stage as much as the killing. It wouldn't make sense." He played devil's advocate even as his mind tried to catch up with hers.

"He didn't even have spikes made. He must have made them after the fact." The thought was as grisly as their perp whittling away at death momentos in his spare time. Still, electric fire burned in Ororo's crystal-blue eyes and Remy knew she'd probably made the right leap. "I think maybe the profiler was right."

"What this was an accident? He didn't mean to kill this one?" Raw skepticism dragged Remy into a sitting position, his muscular shoulders rolling with gymnastic precision.

Hunger flamed Detective Munroe's body but she was already on the case, already in her mental zone, the one that let her deal with madness and death and stay sane and alive. "Not an accident, but impulsive. He didn't stalk her, didn't choose her, I think she was thrust upon him." She placed the cup on her dressing table and went to her closet, running her hands over the day's choices.

Remy glanced at the clock and slid out of bed. In his opinion, 4:45 am wasn't that late, but it was certainly early. Grabbing boxers from the floor, he slipped on his pants and coat and let himself out.

"I think we should contact Dr. Summers about motive. Maybe you could go by there before she leaves for the . . . "Turning finally with her suit and blouse in hand, Ororo was embarrassed to find she had been talking to herself. Laying her suit on the unmade bed, she went into the kitchen and set up the iron for her silk blouse. She noticed Remy's white shirt in the living room and relaxed. A noise at the front door brought her hand to the gun holster she didn't have on yet.

"Heh, 'Ro. Sorry about that, just ran down to my car." Remy lifted the duffel bag he held in one hand and use it to indicate the suit bag in the other.

"You keep a full change of clothes in your car." Part question, part statement, her disconcertion was betrayed by the suspicious cant of her eyes. She didn't appreciate him making such assumptions about their relationship, such as it was.

"M'Daddy always told me to be prepared for anything." Remy grinned cheekily until Ororo had to smile in return.

"Well, leave me some hot water." Ororo followed him into the bedroom, straighten up as she went. She made the bed as she listened to him sing off-key in the shower. When he finally came out, freshly shaved and smelling of her coconut shampoo, Ororo adjusted the leaves of her spider plant and returned to the kitchen. She was running a warm iron over her blouse when he came out tying his tie.

"Any reason why you rushing me, chere?" He only spoke his Cajun French when irritated and Remy knew he had no reason to be irritated. He had given women even shorter toss-outs on occasion, but that was back in Academy days when he had room inspection at 6 am sharp.

"Forge is stopping by for coffee." Ororo didn't look up to watch his troubled pause. She had missed a week of work when Forge had broken up with her. She considered it her own fault in a way. She'd chosen to mentor a rookie, Katherine Pryde, shortly after she had agreed to marry Forge. Unfortunately, she brought her intensity to her mentoring just like any other task. Kitty came to the movies with them, or out to dinner, then Kitty stopped by in the morning to have breakfast, until one morning Ororo dropped in and it was Kitty at Forge's sink washing up the dinner dishes. She should have known better then to bring two tech-heads into such close proximity.

"Vraiment. May I ask why?" With his arms crossed at his chest and his feet spread apart, he looked severely put-upon.

"He might be able to tell me what's wrong with the computer." At his blank look she continued, "The fingerprint analysis keeps giving an error message."

"Oh, den I hope he can tell you what you want to hear. I'm 'a try and catch Cassidy in forensics afore she calls it a night." Grabbing his suit bag and duffel, Remy turned heel and slipped out the door before Ororo could say goodbye.

By 6 am, Ororo had removed all traces of Remy's stay. Impeccably dressed in off-white from hair clip to high heels, she had coffee and rolls set out in the breakfast nook She was at the door before the first set of knocks was finished.

"'Ro." Forge had his long black hair pulled back to the nape of his neck, but Storm could still envision the way it fell about his shoulders when he let it down.

"Forge. Thanks for coming." Opening the door wide, she had to cover by leaning against it when he ignored her unspoken invitation.

"Kitty's waiting in the car. What's the urgent problem, 'Ro?" Feigning annoyance, the Technical Supervisor for the City of New York scanned his ex-fiancee's apartment for signs of her new life without him.

Ororo paused for two heart beats. If he didn't want to be there he could have told her so, or even just answered her question over the phone. Instead he suggested breakfast at her place. Unless Kitty had nixed the idea, he'd obviously had something to prove from the start. "The database keeps giving me an error message every time I do a fingerprint search. I did three different prints and still no results except "Malfunction" or "Record Unavailable " or some other nonsense."

"It'll do that for a while. We're changing the system over which is leading to a lot of silly malfunctions on routine searches." He quirked his eyebrows as if to ask it this was a routine search, but she wouldn't rise to his bait. "All law enforcement prints are being put in a different database. That saves a lot of time. Instead of searching for contamination prints left by shoddy investigating, the focus is on finding perp or victim identification." It was a casual version of a speech he gave to one department head or another at least once a day.

"And it keeps Mayor Richards convinced that he is responsible for wiping out ineptitude in the NYPD." Ororo's lip curled slightly, doing little to mar her attractive features.

"I don't play politics, 'Ro, you know that." He couldn't meet her cat-blue eyes at that moment, not even for money or unlimited RAM.

"Yes, I'm sure. Thank you for coming. Do say hello to Kitty for me." Detective Munroe nearly slammed the door on his outstretched hand, until she noticed the card between his fingers.

"Send the fingerprint samples down to me at this office. I'll what I can do about bypassing the glitches." The smile was genuine but only polite: No hard feelings.

"Certainly. Good morning." None here either, you arrogant cheating pig. Ororo turned to close the door again.

"Good morning, 'Ro." She sealed the door on his back and went back to the kitchen for another cup of strong tea.

Dr. Cassidy had already planned on working long into the morning, likely to the chagrin of her husband, who Remy remembered vaguely from the Academy. Her assistant, Jamie Maddrox sat at a desk playing solitaire.

Moira was examining the wooden spikes from the vic's palms and comparing them to the wooden crates Remy had picked up from the evidence locker. Shifting through a black bag full of assorted alley trash was a rough way to start the morning. Maddrox huffed and hahhed at his boss and the detective that was keeping them at the office so late.

Stepping away, Remy tried not to pace. He only wanted confirmation of Detective Munroe's theory. It would change the whole way this incident was handled and he had to have some solid evidence before he went to Summers.

"Yup. It's the same wood. Under the scope you can see the way the grains match up even though the edges don't. See, the spike has been smoothed down a bit with a rough file of some sort." Moira invited him to look for himself and Remy did, not really comprehending what he was looking at. He trusted Cassidy's judgment and she had given him all the information he wanted. "So, what does that mean, detective?"

"I'm not sure but I'm gonna find out." Remy shook her hand in thanks and made his way to the elevator. He ran right into Dr. Summers as the doors opened.

"Just the lady I wanted to see. Did Scott tell you about the new case?" Edging his way close to her so they would have some semblance of privacy, Remy kept his tone hushed and below the interest of their fellow passengers.

The stubborn cant of her jaw said yes and at length. "I heard about it. I thought I would come in and try to figure this thing out. " Her shoulders were set with determination and Remy would have sympathized with her discomfiture if his case wasn't riding on whether she was right or not.

"Just so you know, Detective Munroe and I think you were on the right track. He was finished, but something made him break from pattern this time. We were hoping you could tell us what happened. Or at least give us a clue." They stepped off the elevator together and he took her coat to the rack bef ore she answered.

"Let me take a look at what you have so far." Jean brightened visibly, no longer defensive, ready to tackle this new wrinkle.

Setting her up at a desk with the file folder, Remy rooted around his desk for the crime scene photographs. "Pics?"

Ororo stepped out of Lt. Summers office. "They aren't here yet."

"Did you find out about the error message?" He really shouldn't care if she still had a thing for Forge. It was her business, he was just her partner. Even if the lying dog was no good for her.

"Yes. Basically the database is confused by the print. Forge is going to run it for me sometime today." She tried to catch his eye but he was still casing his own desk.

"Listen, I'm gonna run down to the ME's see if they have anything and find the pictures. You gonna be alright? " He narrowed his eyes, trying to look past the calm and cool and see her soul rattling around inside.

"I've got plenty to do sorting these street interviews. I should have a few to call in for questioning so I'll be fine." She indicated the stack of papers on her desk and Remy winced. He really did need to do more of the paperwork, but she didn't seem to mind this time. And they needed those pics.

"See ya later." He grabbed his coat and hung it over his arm.

He was half out the door when Ororo spoke up again. "Watch yourself around Reyes. She's got your number."

Remy smirked ruefully. "You really think so?"

"I know so." Ororo paused. "Your badge number is a matter of public record." She ducked her head and swiveled her chair back into position. Bad joke aside, Summers was known to give rather comprehensive speeches that usually began with your ancestry and ended with your sexual habits when he received a complaint against a member of his squad.

"Ha. Ha. I'll be back."

In the sterile cold of the Medical Examiner's office, Detective Lebeau caught sight of Reyes behind Assistant to the ADA Robert Drake. They moved away from each other a bit too quickly, but Remy wasn't big on gossip. Information, yes, but he liked to keep these trivial things as an ace up his sleeve. Mussing his light brown hair, Drake excused himself to the coffee station just on the edge of earshot.

"What do you want?" Reyes was all attitude again, not surprisingly. She had probably run into the wall of silence already, which only increased her general irritation with the world.

"Where are the photogs, petite? Forensics didn't have them and you were the first one on the scene with a flash bulb." Remy hung back, knowing how she responded to physical intimidation. He had checked the front page of the Bugle earlier to make certain Parker hadn't gotten anything printable.

Reyes turned away and snatched a brown envelope of 3 x 5's from the counter behind them. "I didn't even get them blown up yet, feo."

"I'll take care of it. Did you find anything more since last night?" The short report had been minimal, superficial. The final exam and analysis had the data they really needed.

"Yeah, lots." Their personal dislike was as forgotten as it was foundless. "It was hard to tell by the initial exam, well, you saw her so you know. Anyway, substance testing shows semen in the vaginal area, what's left of it anyway."

Lebeau stared in disbelief. Carpenter was all out of his pattern. First the rush job on the spikes, now he'd added rape to his repertoire.

Seeing his expression, Reyes forestalled his interruption, "There's more. The slashes across the skirt and vest are different from the one's on rest of the body, a completely different weapon was used." Reyes handed him gloves and then the took the clothes themselves out of the evidence bag.

Turning them over in his hands, Lebeau examined the cloth. "Most of the body stabs were from a kitchen knife but the clothes have the kind of edges made by a serrated edge. Some of the wounds would indicate a rougher edge, but there are so many overlaps its hard to pinpoint." Forgetting about Carpenter for the minute, Remy started looking at the evidence with untainted eyes.

"I think she was raped, violently, and then the pig got wicked with his butcher knife." Reyes quirked an eyebrow, looking for some confirmation of her investigative skills.

"That's a possibility." Lebeau was distant. Knowing her explanation didn't account for the two blade types, he was already trying work up a new scenario that fit Carpenter's profile and MO

"Something wrong, Detective?" Drake was suddenly alert, keenly aware of a case at its crux point.

"Nah, it's nothing, just caught off guard is all." Remy pulled himself back into the conversation, charming grin in place.

"So, how long before you have something for me? " Drake made a point of looking nonchalant, but Remy was pretty sure he wasn't in the loop.

"Soon Drake, don't push it."

"Hey, ADA Frost is already on my back about this one for some reason." Drake looked truly baffled. In his eyes, hookers died everyday, what was so special about this one.

"Great, just great." Remy mumbled as he walked out, tossing at absentee "Thanks," over his shoulder at R eyes.

Alone in the hall, Lebeau tapped the photos out onto his palm, his mind churning. The itch-burn was back flaming his skull as he flicked through the compartmentalized photos. His hands stopped of their on violation on a close up head shot.

White and red.

White and red on the same head.

Falling back against the wall, his hands shook has her tried to regain is focus over the raging storm in his ears. Straining to concentrate on the present, Lebeau was flash flooded as images of red and white hair burned across his consciousness.

Rebecca was in Sex Crimes, which had absorbed part of the Vice Squad under the recent restructuring.

Vice, which had undercover cops working to bring down johns, pimps and drug dealers.

Vice, which was out of the loop on the Carpenter case.

Bile rose in his throat. White and Red. He forced himself to look at the photo, to examine it coolly and dispassionately, but he couldn't call up his professionalism right then. He had to settle for not descending into horrified screams as he focused on the nightmare before him.

The face was bludgeoned and even with his eyes so hot, he could see the white of exposed bone against the red, the red of blood staining the victims platinum blond hair. The tension binding his mind and body stuttered away with a gasp and his flesh was suddenly under his own power again.

Panting with relief, Remy stuffed the pictures back in the envelope. Deep breath's failed to ease the continued tightness in his skull.

"Lebeau, where have you been?" Summers was out of his office and on a rampage. Jean had moved from the desk and was now pacing with an air of contemplation. Scott was quite obviously worried about what that meant.

"ME's. Got the pics. Threw me for a bit." Remy handed the envelope to his superior, since handing them to right to his partner would not be the best way to please the Lieutenant.

Summers hesitated before opening the seal. "What do you mean?"

"It was nothing. I thought I saw something but it wasn't really there." Moving away before he would have to explain with greater attention to detail and logic, Lebeau angled his way toward Dr. Summers. He narrowly evaded the rather long-winded Detective Wilson, who was spinning a tale about his days as a S.E.A.L. The guy had more never-ending stories than Dayspring and less self-restraint.

Leaning against the window at one end of Dr. Summers' circuit, Remy let raw emotion simmer beneath his words. "M.E. said she was raped first, then mutilated. Don't seem to fit that profile you gave us on Carp."

The psychologist looked away. "I stand by my work. The perps no rapist. Something else must have intervened."

"Like what? Did she "ask for it?" "

"NO! That's not what I meant. We got a call from the ME's office just after you left there, something about you not signing for the pictures." She waved her hand to indicate how important she thought that was. "I got Dr. Reyes to summarize her findings."

"So, what do you think intervened?" LeBeau's head was pounding in earnest. Checking his watch, it was well past breakfast and nearly time for lunch. Levering himself from his lean, he wandered over the break area, giving the doctor a chance to gather her thoughts.

He was half-way through a luke-warm cup of stale coffee when she finally spoke up. "I think we have two different preps here."

"So its not Carpenter, but someone else?" A half eaten jelly donut that was nearly fresh joined the swill in his stomach and the pain in his brain began to subside.

"No, I definitely think Carpenter was involved, but he didn't rape the victim. Someone else must have." Summers sounded more sure then she felt, but it was the best theory she could envision without admitting they had been on the wrong track all along. Eight months was a long time to waste on a case like this when there were that many lives lost and more already.

"That doesn't explain what the spikes meant." Detective Munroe slipped in from behind Lebeau, mug of tea in hand.

Lebeau glanced at her and continued the thread. "Her name is a mystery. Carpenter didn't know her, he didn't chose her or stalk her."

"That's what the scripture meant--not an escalation, an explanation." Dr. Summers looked vindicated, the Lieutenant was almost apologetic as he took her into his office.

Left in the relative aloneness of the bustling office, the detectives fit their minds around the new supposition. "Fine. We have two perps. That doesn't get us any closer to finding either one of them."

"Yes it does." Munroe set her mug down and marched down the aisle to the coat rack. "We know the profile is still valid. "

"White male, mid thirties to late forties, religiously motivated, little or no prior criminal record, possible history of mental aberration, possible past involving prostitutes. So, should we arrest every two bit nut and storefront preacher in the city or what?" Helping her into her coat, Remy ducked when she swatted at him.

"No. But we should round up some of the locals for interviews. Everyone claimed not to have heard anything when the beats questioned them, but who knows what a bad night's sleep and a troubled conscience might net us."

"Even better, we can find out how Carpenter managed to stumble over that victim. He has to have a reason for being in that neighborhood that night." Lebeau slowed at the elevator. He exchanged a look with Munroe to say he'd be right back and rushed to his desk. Standing hunched over the keyboard, he pecked until he had the appropriate search started in ViCAP.

Munroe wandered back in time see the screen scroll down the locations of the other 12 murders. "Has he ever killed in that area before?"

A glitter in his eye, Lebeau smirked, "Nope, all are a least ten blocks away." They were on the move again, galvanized by this newest wrinkle. "Maybe he didn't even kill her." With that they were silent in the elevator. Too much excitement led to slip-ups and they couldn't afford to ruin things with an ill-timed comment now that they were so close.

In the main parking lot, Munroe walked immediately to her car, a standard issue Taurus. It was common knowledge on the force that she hated driving, but even-so, they always took fair turns during business hours. Only when they were buckled in and backing up did they return to their conversation.

"Reyes said there were two sets of wounds on the clothes and the body." Lebeau already had his cellphone out, dialing the ME's office.

"We have the rapist's semen, we can at least get DNA testing done." Munroe kept a grip on the steering wheel and on herself, but she couldn't stop her breaths from growing fast and shallow. Tight spaces were always troublesome to her, one of the reasons she quit modeling. Jet-setting across the world was no fun when it could lay you up in a psych ward for days on end with terrifying visions of your parents' death.

"But that only helps us if we have a suspect to test against." Lebeau protested as he navigated the automated message system in hopes that ME's like detectives, didn't eat on a regular schedule. When Munroe risked her sanity to dart a glance in his direction, he made a placating gestured that implied more than he really intended to do. "I'll mention it. Hello, can I speak to Dr. Reyes?"

Munroe focused on the road and what she could hear of the one sided conversation.

"It's your good friend, Detective Feo. Question on the same vic as this morning--what was the cause of death?"

"Yes, I know she bled a lot, but is it possible that--"

"So as far as you know it's a tie between the blood loss and the broken neck?"

"Fine, if you think those tests will give a definite . . . fine, a more definite answer, then go ahead and do them, I'll call back later." A look from his partner prompted him to add, "And can you prep a DNA analysis on the semen--"

"Already! So?"

"White male is the best you can do? Do you have something that doesn't leave me as a viable suspect?"

"Oh, but I thought you said there were no definites in this kind of thing?" Stretching his hand out, he kept the phone and the curses flying from it away from his ear.

"Yeah, yeah, you too, petite. Don't forget, I'm gonna call back. "

The car came to an appropriate stop in front of the local precinct house just as the conversation ended. Munroe checked to see everything was in its proper place instead of running blindly for the wide open sidewalk. They mounted the steps shoulder to shoulder, their long coats billowing behind them in the afternoon wind.

Polite comments got them through the gauntlet of officers that stood between them and the dynamic duo of Bishop and Japheth. Walking in, Remy nearly stumbled over a young woman who was so short that he hadn't even seen her soft red hair from his vantage point. "'Scuse me miss." He was surprised when her small frame stood up to his weight but he gently separated himself from her.

"Nae to worra Sir." And then she was gone.

"Officer Bishop, Officer Japheth, we need a word with you." Ororo got right down to business, ignoring her partner as he idly toyed with a carving on Japheth's station. She could already see the pile of neatly stacked reports on Bishop's desk, a signal of his efficiency in the task she had assigned him and his partner.

"Sure thing. We've been conducting the interviews you asked us for Detective Munroe. In fact, that little . . . thingy there was brought by the last one." Jepheth was just as eager as he had been the night before, excited to be doing the follow up on what he was convinced was a big case. Their beat was being covered by other cops and the list of questions Munroe had sent was interesting to say the least. This was his chance to really see a real wrong righted, instead of running down punk kids with bad haircuts and baggy fashion sense.

"Oh yeah. Tell us about her." Lebeau narrowed his eyes as he turned the carving over and over in his hands, the repetitive motion causing it blur. His head began to pound as he watched it, half listening as Bishop answered. The headache was a warning some sort, but he ignored the pain. The wood felt familiar as if he had seen it in every waking nightmare of the past several months.

"Witness's name is Rahne Sinclair, religion student from Scotland. She didn't see or hear anything. She was doing some kind of religious service, she said, for an orphan we think." Bishop was outwardly calm, but he didn't like having his routine shattered by some detectives who didn't feel like doing their own street work. He was also apprehensive, almost believing that his partner's assertions about the case to be true.

"Why do you say that?" Munroe leaned forward, not the least bit distracted by partner's fidgeting. She had felt a strange sensation when they past the woman in the hall. She had crackled with earthy energy, the same fire Ororo experienced through her worship of the Goddess.

"She said and I quote, "I did cleansing rites for a girl with no name." What that means is beyond me." Shrugging his shoulders as he scanned his typed copy for errors and tucked it into a file folder, he absently tossed out, "She seemed reluctant to talk about it, kind of agitated, but I suppose we could check on it somehow." Bishop looked up from his transcript to see the two detectives stare at each other in disbelief. It might have been comical, if this wasn't a matter of life and death and crime and punishment.

"She's into woodcraft huh?" Lebeau was almost chuckling at the absurdity of the whole situation. It was positively unreal. Like a cosmic joke in the sitcom of life only there was nothing funny about it. Without hesitation, he turned and walked away. Munroe was right behind him, and by some slight of hand, the folder was now in her hand.

"Yeah? Hey that's our . . . thingy!" Japheth rose from his chair in indignation.

Bishop leapt up after him. "Get back here, that's my report!"

Not even bothering to disguise their urgency, Lebeau and Munroe darted out to the street. The petite red head was gone, of course, but they had her address in hand. Remy took the driver's seat then fumbled for keys he did not have. Ororo handed them over with good grace, rolling her window down and daring to leave her seat-belt off.

"So obviously, she's not the rapist." Remy chuckled for real this time. The profiler was going to go batty herself over this one.

"Obviously. But that doesn't mean she isn't the killer." Ororo checked her gun, removing it from its holster to release and slam home the clip for good measure. "And even if she isn't, she is in all probability our Carpenter and she most surely was involved with the latest victim."

"Right, even if she didn't do anything, she must have at least seen the killer." Overeager on an orange, Remy narrowly avoided a bus, which lead to a softened pressure on the pedal and an earnest search for the siren/flasher.

"Relax, we'll have to wait for back up anyway. I'm calling Summers for a search warrant and some blues." Ororo was calmly in control as her car bucked to a stop less then a block from the crime scene.

Remy was out the car and three paces across the street before he returned to his senses. "She's probably not even here yet. Who's to say she was coming straight home anyway? Maybe that was her final parting shot before she scrambled off into the mists."

Ororo rolled her eyes at her partners doubts. Whenever they got too close to the real thing, he had a habit of preparing for disappointment. He'd done it for as long as they'd been together, although they had never been this close with the Carpenter case. "Homicide, please." As the switchboard operator connected her, Ororo watched Remy peruse the interview file.

"Summers, we need one of those instant search warrants you promised us." Smiling into the phone to express her excitement, Ororo hoped they could get what they wanted with a minimum of fuss.

She was silent for several seconds and her facial expression changed drastically. "I really don't know about that, but I do know that we have a suspect in our sights." Again the silence, and Remy could see she was on the defensive before she even opened her mouth.

"We have plenty of probable cause: statements made by the suspect under police questioning provide motive and opportunity."

"We had probable cause then too, we just didn't have as good an idea of what we were looking for!" Unable to concentrate on the file, Remy placed a placating hand on Ororo's arm but after a pause she continued unabated. "We did not cry wolf! We've arrested someone for something on every one of those warrants." And then more silence. Her grimace become the smirk she had somehow picked up from him. "Thank you! Now can you please send it with a few blue and whites, discreetly?" Ororo tried to keep her exasperation out of her voice. Sometimes she wished she had fought harder for the Lieutenant's position when she and Summers were in contest for it. She knew she preferred the legwork of a detective, but she hated the hassles that came with reporting to an overanxious superior. Reading from the sheet Remy handed her, she gave Summers the information he would need. "The suspect is Rahne Sinclair of 558 Irving, apartment 5G, between East 21st and 22nd, near Gramercy Park . . . Fine. "

She hung up and turned her attention to Remy's bowed head. He was back in the file, reading and checking back and forth between various notes. "What is it?"

"All this time we were sure it was a man, and most serial killers are, but we might have had her in our grasp all along. Do you even remember how many janitors and clinic attendants we've shaken down and all this time we could have passed over the real perp just because she was a woman? She could have been in contact with the girls through the drug programs and the church clinics and we looked right past her." Shaking his head, Remy looked in the rearview as if their back-up could travel at warp speed.

"At least we were looking in the right places. We did what we were supposed to do, sometimes these things just don't follow any sort of pattern." Ororo was already moving on the problem of the real rapist. They would need a few minutes with Sinclair before the lawyers got a hold of her. "Do you think she'll tell us anything we don't already know?"

"I guess it all depends on how you ask." They were silent for several minutes, their minds churning as their bodies gearing up for action. Months of investigation, hours of painstaking interviews, days of wondering if it was all hopeless, the highs of discovering, the lows of disappointment--it all came down to this: waiting.

Maybe the perp was above them somewhere, sitting in her apartment, watch daytime TV. Maybe they were caught up in the recent twists and turns and this would be another heart-wrenching dead-end. Maybe.

Blue eyes met brown and they knew this was right. There was a feeling, a heightened perception detectives only have when a case is winding down, when the answer in within their fingertips. This could be it, the electric thrill of victory and justice beginning to tickle their palms and soles of their feet. This was it, because otherwise they had nowhere to go but down.

Remy popped his door open once again as Bishop and Japheth got out of their cruiser. "Now, that's what I call service."

"Here's the warrant. Judge Cooper faxed it over. So, you . . . detectives. . .think that little Scottish girl is the rapist from last night?" Bishop's lip curled at the preposterous conclusion. The detectives could ignore him, but he just wanted to have his say.

"No, but she was involved somehow. You guys back us up. No excessive force, but be ready for anything." Remy was still trying to figure out how someone so physically slight overpowered women who were used to fighting for their lives. If Sinclair was Carpenter and she tapped into the reserve that let her rend flesh and break bone, there could be no such thing as leniency or they would be as dead as the 12 corpses now reposed on Roosevelt Island. "According to your interview, there's a father, Reverend Craig, and if he's here, its up to you two to make sure he stays out of our hair. 'Ro?"

Search warrant in hand, Remy led the quartet, moving quickly into the building and up four flights of stairs. Clustered around apartment 5b, they waited a silent count of 3 before Detective Munroe rapped on the door. "Hello, is this the Sinclair residence?" Her voice was dulcet and barely interested, and for a second Detective Lebeau wondered if she'd ever done any acting. She certainly had a skill for dissembling.

"Hello?" Munroe rapped again, a little more insistent. She regretted allowing herself to be swept up by her partner's impatience. They should have confirmed Sinclair was even at home before rolling up on her door like gang-busters. "Is anyone at home?"

The scraping sound was so innocuous that the officer's didn't notice it until it paused. "Yes?" A quiet voice, but one that carried out to them from behind the door. "The Reverend is at Our Lady of Central Park giving a sermon. He'll be back later. Come back then."

"Actually Ms. Sinclair, we wanted to speak with you." Ororo leaned closer to the door, her ear tilted to catch whatever warning sounds their suspect might make. One never knew when someone might answer the door with sawed-off shotgun in hand. "Could you come to the door please?" It was better for them to get access to the apartment without the search warrant, since the document was just this side of lawful. Munroe closed her eyes and focused on the whispers of air behind the door. She straightened suddenly, nearly head-butting Officer Japheth in the process, and the door rattled as the locks were carefully disengaged.

"Hello?" Sinclair's small frame and delicate features had a different effect on each member of their party. Japheth couldn't imagine her small hands wielding a knife. Bishop could see the strength in her slim limbs, but it was the power for gymnastics or swimming, not murderous rage. Lebeau was stuck on the piety of her face, the heavenward gaze of her soul, but it was a piety without conscience, belief without restraint. But Munroe could sense the vicious wildness in her, the barely controlled connection with the Goddess' most violent creatures.

"Ms. Sinclair, my name is Detective Munroe. I'd like to speak with you about what went on in that alley last night." With her hand on her weapon and a foot in the door, Ororo thought she was ready for whatever the suspect had to offer.

"Oh, of course! Come in, come in." The door was thrown wide but none of the officers let their guard down, even with the sunny smile that brightened the young woman's face. "I answered your questions at the police station didn't I?" She seemed eager to please, her eyes darting from Japheth to Bishop for confirmation. "Is there more I can do for you?"

Sinclair backed up into her apartment as the officers made their way into the entryway. "Actually, we'd like to take a look around your place, if that's okay with you?" Remy was his most charming, his eyes focusing on he intently as his partner swept her eyes over everything within view.

"No, no, I doan think you can do that, not with out a writ." Sinclair turned away from him, unimpressed and unmoved by his smooth voice or dark eyes. Her mouth opened soundlessly as Detective Lebeau proffered the search warrant. "Oh, well then, goan then."

"Thank you. Is this your room back here?" Munroe smiled, indicating a locked door off the living room. Holding out an arm in invitation, she waited for Sinclair to join her. Again she felt the powerful force the girl seemed to put off, the frenzy just waiting to be uncorked. No matter what they found, Munroe was certain this was the Carpenter.

As Sinclair twisted the knob and lead her into the small, dark room, Munroe grew even more certain. "By the Goddess!" The wall's were covered with hangings, crucifixes sculpted from wood, many bearing great detail, drops of blood oozing from the nails through a man's hands. Spikes, similar to the ones they had found where strewn over the floor. Staring in horror at the girl, Ororo caught a glimpse of the rage that empowered the young murderer.

"Goddess? What kind of heathen are you?" Sinclair's eyes narrowed, her teeth bared like fangs.

Hearing the confrontation, and just as eager as his partner to keep the suspect calm, Lebeau came from the kitchen to slide between the two women. Before he could even speak, some unconscious habit lead him to cross himself at the sight if his Lord and Savior.

"Ach now, you're a believer!" Sinclair was suddenly smiles again, completely ignoring Munroe.

Taking the rather large hint, Ororo moved away and left the questioning up to her partner. Returning to the main area of the apartment, she examined the papers on the coffee table. The Reverend Craig seemed to preach at a lot of different venues. Thinking there could be a connection between his visits and the murders his daughter committed, Ororo slipped on gloves and began bagging the sheets for evidence.

Back in the bedroom, Lebeau reached down, his latex gloves bright against the wooden spikes. "What're these for?"

The question was nonchalant, but Sinclair tensed instantly. "Nothing. Just a bible game I've been working on. See, this is the board, solid oak, and you're supposed to place the spikes, like this, in order. It's a children's game." Sinclair warmed up as she showed him her work.

"So, are you an Ursaline Sister?" Remy gathered several spikes and placed them in a plastic sleeve, all the while watching his suspect.

"No, nae yet, but Reverend Craig is gonna to help me join the order." She fiddled absently with her fingers, the very thought of the Reverend causing her to withdraw into quiet isolation. Gone was the animated, pleasant young woman. Her eyes downcast and hands knotted, Sinclair was either the pinnacle of modesty and righteousness or a wild dog that had been kicked once too often.

Lebeau used the opportunity to search for her carving tools. Incredibly, they lay rather innocently on her desk. "Are these yours? Ms. Sinclair?"

Looking up, she nodded, her smile back in place and her melancholy banished from view. "Yes, do you want to see them?"

Remy grimaced: her lawyer would probably claim bipolar disorder. The girl swung like a pendulum, only faster. "I'll just put them in this bag and take a look at them later okay?" Leading her out of the room so Bishop could do a more thorough toss-over, Lebeau drew her into a quiet corner of the living room, where she couldn't see Munroe ransacking the kitchen for knives. "Why don't you tell me what happened in the alley last night."

"Nothing--What alley? I wasn't in any alley!" That anger was back, mixed with indignation, but she had already given herself away.

"Now, Ms. Sinclair, when we take you to police station, we're gonna take your fingerprints, and then we're gonna match them with the one's we found at the scene. Then we're gonna charge you with that girl's murder." Remy knew he was stretching her Miranda rights, but as long as she wasn't under arrest, she was free to speak her mind.

"I didna kill her!! I just made it right, that's all." Sinclair was explosively defensive. Remy wanted to cuff her to something solid, but for now, he needed her angry. "Ye understand, you believe the same way I do. I did God's work fer that girl, I cleansed her of her mortal sin an' sent her to His grace."

"Just like the others?"

"Nay, I troid ta help 'em, but they wouldnae repent their ways. She, she wos jess' lyin' there an' I knew whot 'ad happened, so I moide it aw'right ag'in. She wasnae loike the othir's --- it wasnae her fault, ya see."

As she grew more calm, her anger seemed to envelope him, until he could barely spit out a reply. "I see. So who else was in the alley?" The confession was useless, but he didn't really need it. Frost could break a defendant down piece by piece until they poured truth out like a bucket pours water. What he needed was a break on who the rapist was, so he and his partner could wrap up an eight month trip through hell up in a nice, tidy hand-basket.

"I didnae see aneone but tha' dead goirl. " The stubborn set of her face came straight from the highlands, but she had made a mistake in assuming the detective couldn't play her game better than she did.

Rising up to stand over her, Remy was suddenly foreboding. "Tell the truth and shame the Devil, girl. 'Thou shalt not give false testimony.' Or do you disobey that as easily as 'Thou shalt not murder.'" He roared into her ear, prompting Munroe and Japheth to come running with pistols drawn.

"He . . .he was a big tall thing, with coal black hair and red leather everywhere. I wasna lying, you mustn't say that. I dinnae wanna say, on account o' him being the Dark One incarnate. The way he laughed! It's God's place to destroy such evil. "

"Oh, but he delegated slaughtering young woman to you, I understand now." Munroe was done with pleasantries. "Your under arrest for murder, Ms. Sinclair. You have the right to remain silent. If you chose to waive that right, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney . . ."

The prisoner didn't even flinch as the barred door clanged shut on the visitation room. Detective Lebeau stood just inside the gate, his eyes running quickly over the man he had come to visit. Sitting hunched over, his dirty blond hair fell into burning blue eyes, the skin of his face pale and slack. Momentarily disconcerted, Lebeau caught sight of the bulging muscles under the orange jumpsuit. No amount of solitary confinement could take the killer out of this monster. He was grateful for the cuff-and-chain ensemble that now attached that monster to the twin steel rings in the floor.

"Victor Creed." Remy moved toward the only other chair in the room, across the plain steel table from his adversary. When he was on the outside, Creed liked to tool around town in yellow and brown leather outfit, the kind that had to be custom tailored. Remy had braved the dangers of Westchester and the additional half-hour it took to get into Sing-Sing on the off chance that Creed and the guy in red leather had the same designer. That, and to turn the screws a bit. "C'mon Creed, you still know how to talk human."

"Yeah, but I only talk to people--not trussed up little swamp dogs like yourself." Creed lifted his massive head, piercing eyes staring right through the detective.

Lebeau glared back, resting his hands on the chair back and looking down the room at Creed. "Listen Vic, and pay attention. There's some guy running around, banging hookers then ripping out their insides. Likes using a serrated blade. Wears a lot of leather. Kinda like your old MO" Leaning in, Remy tried to catch Creed's eyes. "You leave any Junior Psychopath Club out there to continue your work, hehn? "

"Yeah right! Can't nobody be me. I'm the best there is, baby boy. Ask Logan." Creed grinned. When he was finally caught, he killed four police dogs and ripped Logan from hip to rib.

Eyebrows to his hairline, Lebeau sunk the hook with a sneer, "Maybe one of your old gang, the Marauders?"

The reaction was swift and violent. Creed hacked and spat a wad of saliva on the table. The glob slid almost to Remy's chair. Victor Creed sat full up in his chair, straining forward like a junk yard dog on a chain. "Those rat-bastiches wouldn't know a good kill if cut them wide open. The whole lot of them are cowards. I know that's why they keep moving me around. Afraid if they leave me in one place for too long I'll find those lousy turncoat informers and rip them new blow-holes." Seething with rage, Creed's hard breaths made the line of spittle on his chin vibrate. The guards where at the door, but Lebeau waved them away.

"Then who, Creed?" Remy would let him think what he wanted. Most of the Marauders had turned state's evidence against him in Subway Massacre case, but they were all arraigned for their mile long rap sheets anyway. They were all way upstate somewhere, except Quested was killed in a knife fight and the chick with green hair had hung herself after two weeks in Bayview. The state moved Creed around simply because no one facility could keep death row guards on his block for more than a few months. Even in solitary, he was one scary freak of nature.

"I don't know. And if I did, I'm not about to spill for milk-sucker like you, baby boy." Creed leaned back, the picture of cool, calm, collected mania.

Remy smiled, a cold, cruel expression that made Creed look twice, narrowing his cat-blue eyes to get a better look. "Y'know sumt'in': I wasn't always a cop. In fact, once upon a time, I was one bad mutha." His gun was back at the front desk, but Lebeau somehow managed to be threatening without it. "I know you don't care. I know I don't scare you. But I know people Creed. I know people who know people who know how to make other people miserable." Remy approached the prisoner straight-on, like the fact that he was outweighed and outskilled did make much of a difference to him. "Whadya think Creed? Wanna take your meals t'rough a straw? Wanna play soap games wit' de guards? I can make your life very interesting, 'baby boy.'" Nose to nose, neither backed down. Lebeau fought the desire to look down and check the chains that were the only reason his head was still attached to his body.

Creed wasn't about to back down. Remy gave up before fear could climb up from his belly and into his eyes. "Fine, Creed. Have it your way." Turning away, Lebeau only hesitated for an instant.

"I remember this dude. Brock was his name. I busted my hands up punching brick walls and we were in the infirmary together. His cellie broke his head open with a library book because he didn't agree with his politics. No big deal right, only after I get moved, Brock sends me a letter. His cellie is stone cold loony and he wants advice on how to ice him. Says he taught the guy all his moves and now he has no way to defend himself."

"Nice story. And I care because . . ."

"I don't care if you care. Brock worked for Corcraft, like most of the guys in medium security. Made leather stuff. Kasady did too, but they put him in solo after a while."

"Why?" Remy was already done with the conversation. Creed was jerking him around and he didn't like it.

"Brock wrote me. Sent me a leather key-chain, which the screws stole. Kasady broke botha Brock's knees and tried to kill'm with a roughed up shiv." Creed sighed and shook his head. "Your cellie is supposed to be your buddy, your back up, not your back-stabber."

"Not like Phillipa or Michael, or John, right?"

Creed spit again. "Yeah, only Klet ain't no coward. He's just plain crazy."

"Crazy like you?"

"Worse. Has some kinda political agenda. Me, I just like the way they scream. Like Genny, you remember Genny don't you? You guys almost got there in time. Almost." Creed chuckled. He wasn't sure why he'd given Kasady up, except the guy was an insult to cold-blooded killers everywhere.

Lebeau grimaced. Officer Genny Darceneaux had been the first on the scene when Creed was finally found. She should have waited for back-up. "Oh, I remember, Creed. See you at your next appeal." Signaling the guard, Remy stepped to the door.

The tall, Native American guard smiled as the walked down the hall. "Can't wait till they push the plunger on that one." His name tag read J. Proudstar, and he looked the part.

"Yeah, but whenever it happens, it won't be soon enough." Remy tried to shake off the rage that filled him every time he even thought about Victor Creed. He shouldn't have come alone. He should have waited while Munroe and Gray-Summers talked to Sinclair. Should have, but didn't.

Saying good-bye to his escort at the front counter, Remy grabbed the manila envelope that held his personal items. Gloves, keys and wallet went to their respective pockets. His cell phone beeped at him as he pulled it out. His voice mail could wait until he was out of Sing Sing. There was a time he thought he would end up in a place like this, only in Louisiana they called it Angola.

He was twenty minutes into his ride from the suburbs back to the mean streets of Manhattan when he was calm enough to listen to his messages. The first two were from Munroe, that Summers was pissed at his disappearing act and that she wasn't too pleased herself. The third was from Summers himself, a very short, very pointed missive that basically told him to get his derriere back in the office or pick it up off the floor. The fourth, which he replayed over and over from the Taconic State Parkway to the Major Deagan Expressway, was from Cecelia Reyes, A.M.E.

"Hey, listen I found something else. All that pretty blond hair is a dye job. I've got Richter washing it out as we speak. I should be able to tell you what color for sure later, but for now, the roots were kinda brownish-red. I don't know if that helps, but I'll send a full report ASAP. This whole case has been kinda sucky. Sorry."

It wasn't bad news or anything. It wasn't even unexpected since prostitutes tended to dye their hair or wear wigs to get a particular look. But even as he pulled off the MDE, he couldn't shake the ache gripping his skull. Spotting a Greek deli, he pulled over for a real lamb gyro.

Jean Gray-Summers lead the way into her husband's office, shucking her coat off as Ororo closed the door. She flopped into a chair, deflating instantly. Frost was already in the office, her cream suit a complement to Ororo's own.

Summers was behind his desk, foot propped on a low shelf as he discussed the Carpenter case with the District Attorney. DA Dayspring was threatening to try the case himself, but Frost was already all over Scott for the details. He had already faxed him Sinclair's typed confession, but he was going on about coercion and Miranda violations. Scott was just glad the little animal was finally behind bars. Sinclair was the ultimate wolf in sheep's clothing, using her father's ministry to select her victims.

Munroe turned to the profiler, sympathy and disappointment warring in her eyes. On the one hand, her profile had set them back God knows how many months. On the other hand, they might have been completely lost without her. They had considered those first victims random deaths, then gang activity. It was Dr. Summers who suggested a serial murderer when the third body turned up. Ororo wasn't sure how she felt about Jean, but her responses would help Ororo decide. "So, what do you think?"

The profiler was quiet, contemplative. Ororo leaned against the door, willing her partner to return. Only Remy would pull a Mulder at the very end of a case like Carpenter. Checking her watch, she hoped he had made it to Ossining and back with a minimum of hassles. There was still the murder of the last victim to solve.

Frost finished her cell-phone call with a snap of her wrist. "What do we care what she thinks? She's had you guys running in circles for months." There was a glare shared between the two women that Munroe took careful note of. "I need to start planning my depositions. I'll contact you and your partner when I need you. Detective Munroe, Lieutenant, Doctor."

Sighing, Jean seemed to deflate even further. "I can't imagine . . . I mean that girl . . . I've never seen anything like it." She shook her head and leaned back in the chair. "I don't think anyone could have predicted that."

"Perhaps." Ororo spoke quietly, so as not to disturb her boss. When Frost had arrived to assist in taping Sinclair's confession, she had turned a hostile eye on Gray-Summers from the first moment. Munroe had tried to contain her own irritation. "Well, you tried anyway."

"Oh, I did more than try, I was right." Jean heaved another sigh.

"Really! Because, for some reason, I just can't match our suspect with the profile you've been feeding us for the past six months! For Godssake Jean, if you were wrong, you were wrong, just admit it." The Lieutenant was off the phone and on the warpath.

"Think about it Scott. She might not fit the profile but you should have heard her talk about her father. That Reverend Craig is the real perp, he fits the profile. Rahne was just his tool."

"Try proving that in a court of law!" Summers roared at his wife. The anger burned hotter, fueled by embarassment.

"Why would you even want to?" Munroe had always been leery of psychiatrists and psychoanalysts. They always seemed intent on blaming people's actions on someone else. Ororo believed in personal responsibility. Sinclair was the Carpenter. If her father's training had warped her mind, fine, but he never wielded a knife. On the other hand, she was eager to find out who the man in red was. Leaving the husband and wife team to argue it out between them, Munroe slipped back into the main office.

"Hey 'Ro, your phone's been buzzing off the hook. I didn't come get you 'cause, well you know how the boss gets." Detective Shard grinned and turned back to the suspect she was interviewing.

Munroe found that her phone was indeed ringing. "Munroe, Homicide."

"Um, hi 'Ro, its Kitty." The contrition in her former friend's voice was not enough to quell the revulsion that quickly gripped Ororo.

Gaining control just as fast as she lost it, Ororo answered, "Hello Kitty, is there anything I can do for you?"

"Actually, I've been calling to give you the results on those prints you gave Forge."

There was an uncomfortable pause which Ororo was forced to end, by saying, "Yes?"

"Oh, um, the first one came up Rahne Sinclair, she's a naturalized citizen. Kletus Kasady is an ex-con, I'm sure you can look up his sheet now that you have his name. And the last one must have been a contaminant. It's for Rebecca McKenna, but she's a detective, from Vice or something according to the compy. 'Ro? You still there?"

Ororo barely felt a pang as she hung up the phone. Her rudeness could certainly be justified. Not to mention the fact that her partner was back, with a sack from 'Zoey the Greek's' in each hand.

"You hungry?" He smiled sheepishly, apology all over his face.

"Yes, as a matter-of-fact, I am." Ororo returned the smile, and now that he was safe, one knot in her stomach untied itself. It wasn't really a relief because it just made room for a new and larger ache. "Did you learn anything from Creed?'

"Possible suspect, guy by the name of Kletus Kasady. This might fit his MO. And Creed's still a waste of good oxygen, no matter what the experts say." He sat down at his desk and handed her one of the bags. After booted his computer up, he grabbed his gyro and set into it, hoping to banish his headache with pita-wrapped lamb slices slathered in oil and sour cream.

Munroe joined him in the meal, albeit more neatly. She debated confirming his find with the data Kitty had given her, but she wanted to postpone opening that can of worms until she had a hook to put them on. "Hmm. If he's a con, we can check his file, get lists of addresses, aliases, associates."

"Just what I was thinking." They ate in silence, greasy fingers stealing over their keyboards in between bites. The printer was humming and spewing out sheets of paper when Dr. Summers emerged from the Lieutenant's office. The detectives exchanged a look as the profiler came toward them. This could not end well.

"Before you say anything, I'm sorry. My profile was misleading. I congratulate you on finding Sinclair, but I have to protest the fact that you haven't charged Craig Sinclair as well." Summers held her arms akimbo, righteous indignation oozing from every pore.

"Why, because he fits your expert profile?" That was as close to snarky as Ororo would let herself get but Dr. Summers was already the fall-girl for the Carpenter case. When people asked why it took so long, it would land squarely on her lap, no matter how much of a help she had been. That's just how office politics work, from boardroom to cell-block.

"No, because his influence made Rahne act the way she did. If we hold her responsible for the act of murdering those women, we have to hold him responsible for making her want to in the first place." Jean was secure on her high horse, completely unaware that she was about to be knocked off.

As she stalked over from the coat rack, Emma Frost slammed her briefcase down on a nearby desk, her white wool coat still in her hands. "That's the second dumbest thing I've hear you say. If Rahne Sinclair is responsible for her actions, then no one else is. The Reverend might be a fanatic, and we don't even know that much since no one can seem to find him for questioning, but he didn't stalk and kill 12 young women in the name of religious zealotry!" Frost's eyes burned cold fire as she spoke.

Ororo had to side with Frost. Munroe did not want to go down this road with Summers. She liked the woman, but this line of reasoning was in complete conflict with what it meant to be a officer of the law, a defender of justice. You couldn't punish every person that ever upset the suspect and eventually lead his losing control of his anger in the middle of a commuter train. It just didn't work that way. And if the law could not fully serve justice, Munroe saw no need to force it through illegal means. The Goddess would return things to balance in her own time, and bending the law until it splintered served neither justice nor balance.

Dr. Summers was getting set to defend herself when Frost jumped in. "You studied under Xavier didn't you? "

"Yes, but that doesn't--" Scott had told her to leave that off her resume when she joined the department. For some reason, they didn't like Xavier much around here. Frost was living up to her name and Jean now knew why.

Remy took up the thread immediately. "Oh, yes is does. You know, I spent the afternoon with a raving animal that should have been put to sleep years ago. Only your Professor Xavier of Columbia University shows up and declares Victor Creed curable of his killer instinct. Curable, so they send a psychologist, Elizabeth Braddock, really bright lady, to fix him. He put her in traction for two months. His lawyers keep on appealing based on your Professor's findings. That monster should be under the ground, instead he's up here breathing air I pay for, eating food I pay for, sleeping in a cell I pay for, because of some profiler. Sinclair kept killing and we couldn't stop her, because of some profiler." Remy stood grabbing his papers off the printer. Ororo was already putting on her coat.

Green sparks seemed surround Jean's face as she counterattacked. "Listen to me. Craig Sinclair is the Carpenter. He's got it all: the age, the religious background, the history with prostitutes--"

"Whoa, where did you get that from?" Ororo had sat through the entire interview. From what Rahne said, her father was examplery. They had no evidence of misconduct on his part, something Dr. Summers seemed reluctant to admit.

"Didn't you hear her? That's girl's mother was a hooker. I'm telling you, Craig fits the profile top to bottom." The two detectives started for a moment. That did make a heck of a lot of sense.

"Fine. If the police find Rahne's mother buried somewhere with spikes in her hands, then maybe your theory has merit. Otherwise, keep your expert opinion to yourself." Frost turned her back on Jean, focusing on the two detectives. "I want to meet with you two tomorrow at ten for a briefing. Bring your case notes." Then she stalked off toward the elevators, leaving stunned, angry silence in her wake.

"You're a good doctor, Mrs. Summers. Your just not good enough for this kind of work. You can't be wrong with this sort of thing, because when you are, people die." Ororo tried to convey the weight of her words without giving too much information to her partner. She still didn't know how to break it to him. As he pulled on his trench, Munroe pointed at a pad on her desk, which bore three names. "Make sure the Lieutenant sees that, would you?"

As she walked away, she almost heard, "But I was right. In a way."

Kletus Kasady, it turned out, was still living in Gotham, still within their jurisdiction. Remy turned the siren off as they neared the address from the case file. The place looked abandoned, but people live all sorts of places when they're down and out in New York. Guns drawn, they stormed up the stairs, banging on the door before they even came to a full stop.

"NYPD, open up!" They paused the requisite ten-count and pulled out their badges.

Munroe slammed herself to the right of door as Lebeau kicked it in. "NYPD, we're looking for Kletus Kasady." They trained their guns on the four men sitting at a blue plastic card table. None of them moved, but Remy suddenly wanted back-up. "Kletus Kasady. Is he here?" Lebeau advanced on the table, finger on the trigger. He trusted Ororo to be his extra backbone.

"Heck no. That mutha left three weeks ago, stole all my stuff when he left too." The white male, late twenties, smoking something decidedly not tobacco, swathed in black from head to toe, was the only one to respond.

"And you are? " Ororo was upset. There was dirty on her left shoe.

"Eddie Brock." Brock rocked back in his chair and found a gun-barrel pressed to his forehead. He grinned. "If you find that punk, slug him once for me."

"You're coming with us Brock. And y'all won't be here if I decide to come back up the stairs." Lebeau cuffed Brock while Munroe covered the other three. They backed out the door and were back in the Lexus ten minutes after they left it. Which was good, because there were three separate thieves sizing up the tires, hub-caps and air-bag.

Shoving Brock into the back seat, Remy thought frantically about something to arrest him for. As it turned out, Ororo already had something in mind. "You're under arrest for narcotics possession, Mr. Brock. You have the right to remain silent-- "

"Yeah, yeah, lady, I'm no virgin, I know the deal. Why you guys hustling me, huh?" Brock talked like a felon, which mean he talked like a person with defense attorney on retainer.

"Where is Kasady?" Munroe belted herself in as her partner gunned the car into traffic. "We just want to find Kasady, as I'm sure you do. There is no love lost between you two, so why protect him?"

"I'm not protecting him, lady. If I wanted to, I'd take that mutha out for good. But I don't know where he is, okay. He shows up one day three weeks ago, and I let him stay the night. Next day all my stuff is gone. If I knew where he was I'd stick a plug in him myself."

"Relax, Brock. Kasady have any other friends, any family?" Lebeau turned around quickly and then went back to bobbing a weaving in and out of traffic.

"He killed his family, man. And his foster family. Anyway, that's what he told me. He's crazy, man. Who can know where he is?" Brock was working his cuffs, Remy could tell from the way he held his shoulders. Lebeau didn't care, they were going to drop him off at the station any second now.

"Did he know anybody in Gramercy Park?" Munroe turned full around and put that blue-eyed stare on him.

"Nah--Wait, he always bragged about this chick he got pregnant over near there. She lived by Union Square. So there, I delivered, you gonna let me out now?"

"Nope. Where gonna leave you with some nice capable officers for a little chat session." Lebeau screeched to a stop, the front tires kissing the curb.

"About what?" Brock barely struggled as they pulled him out of the car.

"The health risks of marijuana smoke. Or maybe the Louima case." Lebeau grinned as Brock turned green. "Or your old friend Kletus Kasady. You know, whatever comes up."

It just so happened that Kletus Kasady's ex-girlfriend applied to the state for part of his Corcraft wages. Which means she gave them a valid permanent address, which got attached to Kasady's paper file.

Remy was nursing a paper cut when Ororo leaned against the wall he was holding up. "How are you feeling, Rem?" He looked exhausted, and a little like he was in pain.

"Fine, just fine. How 'bout you?" There was dust all over her nice off-white pants suit and a nasty scuff on her shoe.

"I'm okay." Ororo paused, still not eager to breach the subject. Remy handed her her coat from the chair they were hung-over. She stalled by putting it on slowly, ignoring the shiver of contentment as he helped her with the sleeves. Once the exited the building, she shooed him off to get the car. "I'll go arrange for some officers to meet us there." Dashing back inside, she called Summers for the latest information.

"Munroe, whatever you do, don't let them kill Kasady. The guys a cop-killer and I want him just as bad as anybody else, but if he gets gunned down this case will be all over the media before morning. We have to get two decent jury pools out of this, and the silence order is still one for the Carpent--Sinclair case. Bishop and Japheth and some of the guys from last night will be there. I tried to keep it to officers already involved. Just remember, the DA can't indict a dead body."

She didn't get one word in edgewise, but that was okay. She didn't trust herself to talk much. There was a cop-killer on the loose and she wanted him dead. She also didn't want to have tell her partner who the victim was, but some things are unavoidable.

"Ready to go, 'Ro?"

He was right there in front of her and she couldn't help but jump at the sound of his voice. "Let's finish this."

As they drove, Ororo weighed her words. "Forge got back to me about those prints."

"Finally. What'd he say?" He darted a glance at her to make sure she was okay.

"Sinclair's prints are there, as are Kasady's. And he identified the victim." It was agony to prolong it, but she couldn't find the words.

"What's her name?" He signaled the turn, only mild interest in his voice. They had one perp and were closing on the other. Her name wouldn't change the case at this point.

"Rebecca McKenna." Ororo dropped the bomb and waited for the explosion.

None came. "Oh." Remy just kept driving. His headache dropped to his gut and after four blocks, he could no longer see to drive. "Oh God no!" He pulled over and Ororo reached over to rub his back.

She pulled her hand back almost immediately. He wasn't sobbing. He was seething.

White and red.

White and red on the same head.

He had convinced himself it wasn't her, couldn't be her, but all the signs were there. Bone and blood juxtapositioned so uncannily. 'Ro would call it a sign. The headaches--his over-tired brain's way of warning him as it made connections his conscious mind still could not fathom.

His hands were squeezed into impotent fists against the steering wheel. Her killer was still several blocks away, if he hadn't skipped the country already. And even if he found Kasady, it wasn't like he could put two bullets in the thugs skull and call it a night.


He couldn't do that? Kasady could just randomly pull some girl off the street, rape and murder her, and go on with his idiotic anarchistic agenda, but Lebeau couldn't air-condition his brain for him. Was that justice?

The gun was in his hand before the thought was fully formed.

"Rem, don't! You can't go gunning for this guy. They'll crucify you for it." Pulling him back was against her every instinct, but she knew she had to try, if only enough that they could both testify to the fact in a court of law.

Snapped back into reality, Remy tried to focus passed red and white hair and bones and blood all twisted in together, until all he saw was white and brown--his partner's hair and face. "Fine. Whatever. Le's jus' get dere." The car was back in traffic almost instantly, and his foot rarely left the gas. Ororo closed her eyes and prayed to the Goddess. Prayed for balance.

Karen Page reached for the kitchen knife. Klet had final lost it. Their baby lay in his arms, neck twisted all wrong. The gleeful expression on his face was all wrong too. "Don't come any closer Klet. Don't move. I'm telling you, I'll do it."

"You'll do what?" His voice rumbled seductively, enticing like all madness can be before it rips your throat out. He was still coming closer.

"I'll kill you, I swear it. Klet!!" She was hopped up on enough dope that she just might have done it. If he hadn't thrown her baby at her head like 20 lb. sack of potatoes. Little Michael John Page hit his mother square in the face, knocking her backwards into the kitchen counter. Karen's head bounced off the cabinets and the knife fell from her hand.

Grabbing her by the hair, Kasady kicked the knife away. "That's alright baby, you tried. You tried, Karipoo, but you just couldn't do it could you? Sorry baby, but if you can't kill, you can never be free and if you can't be free, you might as well die."

"One, two, three." Detective LeBeau's red-rimmed eyes were behind Oakley shades, the angry red glow of his cigerette the only form of visible expression. Munroe watched him carefully as he gave the count. Bishop and Japheth were questioning Brock, but six other members of their precinct were ranged around the door. Two more were in the alley below in case Kasady attempted a back door escape.

Officer Guthrie and Officer Gilmore kicked the door in. They had debated Ms. Page right to privacy for about thirty seconds on the stairs. Armed with another one of those magic search warrants, they stormed into the room in time to catch Kasady flagrante delicto. If the gurgles coming from Karen were any indication, she wasn't quite dead yet. Her neck twisted at an odd angle, her eyes seeming to plead with the detectives. Blood from her body darkened her already stained carpet and one of her hands twitched near a hypodermic needle. Whether she wanted to use it as a weapon against Kasady, or to free herself from her mortal coil, she had little chance of getting a grasp on it with her slick red fingers.

"Smith, Bedlam, get an ambulance." Munroe never turned her head, shouting instructions over her shoulder. Kasady had a ten inch blade, the serrated edge caked with blood and fabric. "Kletus Kasady. Put down the weapon and move away from the woman."

This was the thing that had killed Rebecca, had hurt her, taken from her what should have been a gift of love. Cut her until she bled, hit her until she bruised, shook her until her neck snapped, raped her until she died. White. Red. Bone. Blood. Lebeau kept moving closer, not waiting for Kasady to disarm.

"Rem, stop. Kasady, put the knife down and step away!" Munroe moved into firing position trying to see past her partner. Guthrie shifted and she held out a hand to keep him in place.

Lebeau didn't stop. This was a cop-killer, a man with no respect for the badge and what it stood for. Lebeau stood side by side with him, well within knifing range.

"Why'd you do it? Kill her, I mean." His voice was calm, dispassionate. The gun was in a straight line from his shoulder, pointing down at Kasady's head. Karen closed her eyes.

His eyes gleaming with the anarchistic joy of destruction, he answered, "She was there." Kasady shrugged his shoulders, rolling his arm so he could sink the knife up into the detective's side. He didn't get the chance.

Lebeau fired four shots. Not one of them missed.

Nicholas Fury tapped the ashes from his cigar and went on reading the morning edition of the Daily Bugle. As the sun faded beneath the canyon of stee l and glass, Fury finished the last article on the Carpenter case. It was a small addendum about Kletus Kasady, who was arraigned on two counts of first degree murder and a myriad of sexual assault and rape charges times two from his hospital bed.

Fury especially liked the part about the traction pulley being operated to raise his right hand. Lebeau had planted slugs in all four limbs, right along the major arteries, earning himself a week of leave in the process. Kasady would recover but he would be in a whole lot of pain for a long time.

Fury half wondered where a detective learned to shoot like that, but then he didn't really need to know to enjoy the fruits of that detectives labor. Special sixteen page wrap-around of Carpenter coverage. Somehow there were photos of the last body, but they were so blurry they couldn't possibly scare any little old ladies.

There was a discreet knock at the door and George W. Bridge let himself into the room. The Deputy Police Commissioner snorted at Fury's cigar. "City owned buildings are smoke-free zones, Commissioner."

Fury smirked good-naturedly. "I know that deputy, but where's the fun in that." Fury's smile vanished however, as Bridge stepped aside for two guests.

"Commissioner Fury, this is Mr. Matthew Murdock, Esq. and Lieutenant Raven Darkholme. They want to speak with you about the Carpenter case." Bridge settled down in an overstuffed leather chair by the window, watching the vista of changing colors and wondering how he would decorate the office when he inherited in.

"Welcome. What can I do for you?" Fury plastered on the smile Richards encouraged him to use for talking to reporters.

"Nothing much." Murdock handed him a thick sheaf of blue and white paper. "This is a summons to appear in court. You are being named as a defendant in the McKenna v. the City of New York wrongful death suit, being brought by Lt. Darkholme, executor of Rebecca McKenna's estate, in the New York District Court. " Murdock turned carefully, letting his long white cane lead him out of the room.

"Depositions are set for twelve noon tomorrow. Be prompt." Raven smiled like the cat that destroyed the canary's career and walked out with a spring in her step.

Ororo came in from work Friday night to the smell of fried chicken and collard greens wafting from the general direction of her kitchen. Hanging up her coat in the closet, she tidied up a few newspapers and a stray can of soda before facing him.

"Hey Rem." She was surprised to find him still there. The Carpenter case was over, they had their freedom of speech back. He had spent the first few nights of his leave in his apartment, helping her with the mounds of paper work the surrounded the arrests and arraignments. Then last night he had come over, pale and shaking, mumbling about pain in his stomach, and she had held him until his brown eyes closed in peace. She had never been so content.

"Hey 'Ro." He wasn't sure why he had stayed at her place all day. He just knew he felt comfortable here. And comfort was important to him now. Very important. He stirred a pot of okra, lifting the spoon to his lips for a satisfying taste-test. He waved her over to the stove to show her his creations. "Can you smell what the--" he boomed in a demonstrative voice.

"Don't even, okay. This looks good. Very good." He was wearing an apron, one he had bought her back from one of his rare trips to New Orleans. "Kiss the Cajun, huh?" She leaned in and did just that.

Remy pulled away as a thought occured to him. "Hey, some lady, Wanda Markoff or something called about your herbs?"

"I'll call her back." Ororo leaned even closer. "Tomorrow."