Revealing The Truth -- Part 1
Summary: Chris is hurtling straight into trouble on a murder investigation; it's up to Ezra to get him out of it.
Open AU: Chris heads a cold case unit at the Denver PD, with a little help from the Afterlife.
Mild Slash: Vin/Ezra
Author's Notes: This didn't work as Episode 2. Chris, Vin and Ezra needed to be a little more used to each other before the others found out. I will go back at some point and fill in these two episodes, but not right now. Enjoy.
Back to: Episode 1: A Gift Or A Curse
(Episodes 2 & 3 coming later)
Chris's eye was starting to twitch, and he really only had himself to blame. No, scratch that, he only had that damnable southern ghost to blame. Said ghost was sitting, just in his peripheral vision, shuffling a deck of cards, dressed in clothes that were reminiscent of an old west gambler.
At first it hadn't been too bad, until Ezra had gotten up and stood behind him, scanning the report he was trying to read, making comments on the word usage until Chris had growled at him to go away. So Ezra had reclaimed his seat. Only now Chris was waiting for the usual running commentary, the complaining, the whining; the general annoyance that was Ezra most days when he was working. But there was nothing aside from the sound of the cards softly hitting each other as they were manipulated by skilful hands.
And it all made Chris Larabee's eye twitch
"Goddamn it, would you stop!" he hissed, fighting to keep his voice down. He really didn't need the others to think he was crazy, they were already wary enough of him as it was.
"But Mr. Larabee, I am merely sitting here, silently I might add -- a most unusual state for me you must agree -- not bothering you at all. What more could you possibly ask for?" Ezra asked, a perfectly innocent look sculpted on his face.
The sound Chris made was a cross between a groan and a sigh. "Can't you go and do some sort of ghost thing like Vin?" Chris liked Vin, Vin was quiet and unobtrusive if he was here.
Ezra slowly and deliberately blinked at him, before glancing round the office, as if the answer should be absolutely obvious. "But I am doing 'some sort of ghost thing' Chris. Right at this moment I am haunting your office." He shrugged slightly. "I would have thought it perfectly obvious." He smiled winningly and started shuffling again.
"Can't you go haunt somewhere else?" he wasn't pleading, he refused to plead with the irritating apparition.
Ezra paused in his shuffling to consider this. "No," he stated simply.
Chris clenched his jaw. "Ezra," he growled warningly.
Ezra chuckled at his dark expression. "Need I remind you, Chris, that I am a ghost, therefore I am not alive. Hence you cannot order me to do anything." Before Chris had a chance to formulate a response, Ezra's head had turned to the exact spot Vin materialised an instant later.
"Did you find her?" Chris demanded to know, keeping his voice down so his team couldn't hear him (he hoped).
Vin shook his head. "Didn't find her, but I did find something."
"Well?" Chris asked, exasperated now. Having ghosts around wasn't good for him, no matter how useful they could be.
Ezra stood. "Vin?" he asked.
Vin looked at him and nodded slowly, but there was concern in his eyes. "Careful Ez," was all he said.
Ezra grinned at him, that cock-sure grin. "I always am." With a slight nod to Chris, Ezra vanished.
Chris decided he would never get used to that, not when they looked so real the rest of the time. Yes, he knew they were ghosts, that thought was always floating round in the back of his head, but sometimes they just seemed so real, so alive, in the way they acted. "What did you find?" he asked.
Vin dropped into the chair across from him. "She wasn't the only one."
"What?" Chris frowned. "You mean whoever killed Emma Carter killed someone else?"
Chris closed his eyes as he absorbed this. "Shit."
"Is Ezra going to get much sense out of her?" he questioned, knowing the other ghost normally had to puzzle through displaced images and memories the broken spirits showed him.
"Don't know Cowboy," Vin answered, knowing his concern was easily read.
The spirit world was very different to the human world, and if Ezra had to make a choice he'd prefer to remain in the human world. But he couldn't communicate with any other spirits, save Vin, on that plane of existence. So he returned, because this was his part of the job they had been assigned.
The spirit before him was of a girl, in her teens, battered and bloody, ragged hair hiding her face as her arms and legs strove to hide her nakedness.
As much as Ezra wanted to put his coat around her, to offer her some form of comfort, he knew it would be useless, the coat would vanish the instant it touched her skin, because that was all this spirit knew. Nakedness and pain.
So Ezra knelt before her and slowly reached out his hand, grimacing in sympathy as she flinched from him. He rested his hand on the side of her head, palm covering her ear, thumb brushing her eye, fingers softly stroking her hair. "Let me in little one. I can help," he whispered.
And the connection was made.
~*~ Spirit Commune ~*~
It was dark and she hurt. All over. Wrists torn through fighting the ropes. Mouth bloody because the leather between her teeth was so tight. Blinded by the course cloth over her eyes.
She wanted to go home.
Oh God -- not again, not again…
Arms free now, try to cover, try to hide.
Please… please no…
"Shhh! my princess. It will all be over soon, soon princess. Just a little longer."
"Please… I… I wanna… I…"
"Of course princess, I know exactly what you want."
"m… m… mumm--"
"No princess. I know what you want."
"N… no… please… no…"
Walking with friends, saying goodbye, plans for tomorrow. Going home. At the door.
"It's time now princess. Time to see."
Oh God NO!
~*~ End Spirit Commune ~*~
Ezra pulled back, eyes wide and face pale, his breathing shaky. Trying to get to his feet was a mistake, and he would have fallen on his nicely shaped behind if Vin's strong, sure hands hadn't caught him, letting him catch his balance.
"All right Ez?" the Texan asked quietly, almost a whisper.
Ezra looked back at the girl and nodded slowly.
"Didya get anything?"
Ezra considered for a moment before he found his voice. "Possibly Vin, possibly." He forced his eyes away from the girl to rest on Vin. "But I may need to commune again."
"Shall we inform Mr. Larabee of our findings?" Ezra made an effort to straighten his jacket.
All the while Vin had kept a hold on Ezra's arm, knowing the other was always unsteady after a commune, but especially so after a bad one.
Chris almost jumped as the two ghosts materialised in front of him. Almost. But to cover for this he glared at them. Until he saw that Vin was still holding Ezra's arm. For lovers, the two barely touched for lengthy periods of time. A clap to the shoulder, or a hand in getting to their feet, but not like Vin was doing now, even if it was just offering comfort or support.
Ezra had rather briefly (for Ezra) explained that when they had lived, relationships like theirs had been an uncommon sight and not widely spoken of, a crime against God and the government. So displays of affection, or touching were out of the question completely, unless they wanted to be tarred and feather, or at worst, hung. It didn't mean that they did not feel strongly towards each other, they just showed it in more subtle ways.
For Vin to still be holding onto Ezra meant it had been a bad 'commune' (Chris didn't even bother trying to make sense of that). It wasn't a truly unspeakable one or Vin would have come alone.
"Well?" he asked.
"He held her in some kind of room, she was blindfolded most of the time, bound, raped and tortured. He called her 'princess'," was Ezra's report.
Chris winced at the thought. "Nothing that can identify whoever it was?" he asked.
Ezra shook his head. "No, further communes may be required before there are any real results."
"Are you sure this other spirit was killed by the same person?" Chris turned to Vin for the answer.
Vin nodded. "Yup, picked her up when I found Emma Carter's trail. She's got the same darkness 'round her that I'm following."
Chris sighed deeply. "Thanks. I'll try to steer the search towards a man who likes to call girls 'princess'."
"You're quite welcome Mr. Larabee." Ezra smiled winningly, if a little tiredly. "Now, if neither of you mind, I am going to find a more leisurely pursuit with which to occupy my time." And with that, a two fingered tip to an imaginary hat, Ezra vanished.
Chris looked to Vin for an explanation. Vin smiled in return. "He's goin' to sleep."
Chris shook his head and stood, gathering a few notes he had made without even realising as he had listened to Ezra. He went to the door and opened it.
"Guys," he called, waiting until all heads swivelled to him. "Male, 35-40 when the murder was committed. There could be more murders. JD, get searching the archives. Buck, recheck the suspects, and cross check any if JD comes up with anything. Josiah, go back to the family, find out if they can remember anyone hanging around in that age bracket."
"We've asked them before Chris," Josiah mentioned.
Chris nodded. "I know, it's a long shot, but it just might pan out."
"This another one of them 'feelings'?" Buck asked. They all knew Chris was an A-class profiler, but lately all his 'feelings' or 'hunches' had been eerily on the mark every time.
Chris nodded, turning back to his office. He would need to consider the man's use of the word 'princess'. "I'll get back to you if I come up with anything else. I'll have the written profile out to you in an hour," he told them.
His team shared a long look with each other as he disappeared into his office before splitting up to do their separate searches.
Three days later Ezra had managed to glean just a little more information from the girl. JD had come up with two other unsolved murders from around the same time involving young girls, each found in such different places and in such different ways no connection was made, nor even seemed likely. He had also found a missing persons, an Abigail Hewitt, who turned out to be the spirit Ezra was communing with.
Vin swore he was closer than ever to finding Emma Carter and the other two murder victims.
The search had narrowed down to three suspects, none of whom had any obvious links to all the victims, but they were hoping something would come up. Chris was sitting in the observation room; he rarely took interviews himself, preferring instead, to let Buck and Josiah ask the questions. They had the most interesting 'good cop bad cop' routine he had ever witnessed. He watched the suspect's reactions, enjoying the freedom to dwell on each one instead of coming up with the next question to ask. If he needed anything clarified, all he had to do was hit the button that opened the little earpieces they wore to him and he could tell them what he needed.
Ezra was lounging on the table with said button. "It's not him," he stated.
Chris growled, glad he was alone. "How do you know, I thought you never saw a face?"
"I didn't," Ezra agreed, but he was frowning. "But I am sure there is something I am missing."
"When Vin finds Emma Carter, or one of the others it'll be easier."
Ezra shook his head. "No, they won't help. Abigail Hewitt holds the key to this whole thing. I just haven't been able to tap into the correct memories yet."
Chris frowned at this, and looked at the ghost questioningly. "What makes you think that?" he asked.
"Merely a feeling I get every time I commune with her. I cannot place it, but it's important somehow." Ezra shrugged and looked back into the interview room.
"Reckon I should go see Abigail's uncle then -- he hasn't moved since she went missing, maybe there'll be some kind of clue," Chris reasoned.
Ezra shrugged again. "Perhaps," was his only response.
Chris hit the button to the earpieces. "There's nothing here boys, leave it alone."
It didn't take long to wrap up the interview and send the man on his way. Buck and Josiah joined Chris in the observation room.
"What makes him not fit the profile any more?" Buck asked curiously.
Chris shook his head, avoiding the temptation to look over at Ezra. "Just a feeling," he said.
Josiah nodded sagely. "You've been having a lot of those lately, brother." He sounded as if he knew something, though Chris was sure he had been careful enough. But with Ezra trying to smother a grin with his hand just on the edge of his vision he was beginning to wonder.
"So?" he asked, a little more confrontational than he had originally intended.
Josiah raised his hands peaceably. "Just making an observation," he said.
Chris didn't bother answering, just turned away, heading back towards his office.
"Chris?" Buck called after him.
"Go home boys, I need to rework the profile," he called back.
Buck frowned, but there was little he could really say. Chris wasn't drinking, and he actually seemed much more on top of his game than ever. But there was just something off about all this, that just didn't fit.
"Let's go home brother, he'll tell us when he's ready," Josiah said, clapping a hand on Buck's shoulder, before heading towards his desk.
Buck blinked at Josiah's back. "Tell us what?" he wanted to know.
"Whatever's got him wound tighter than a spring," Josiah called back with a grin.
Buck heaved a sigh and cast a look towards Chris's office. "That'd be nice."
"Mr. Larabee, I don't think this is a wise idea," Ezra said, twisting in the car seat to look at Chris. Chris found it endlessly (though inwardly) amusing that when travelling in the car with him, Ezra and Vin looked like they were wearing seatbelts.
"Look, Ez, you said yourself that I needed to check this guy out. That's what I'm doing," Chris said, smirking a little.
"I didn't mean for you to go alone, without some kind of backup. Isn't it against some kind of rule to go alone?" Ezra asked.
Chris actually laughed at that. "This coming from the ghost dressed like a gambler? I would have thought you enjoyed breaking the rules."
Ezra looked affronted, crossing his arms. "I will have you know that gambling is done by a strict set of rules, failure to comply by which normally ends up with a decorative new hole in your jacket. I will also have you know, that I do not have to cheat, I happen to possess a God-given talent."
Chris flicked his eyes to the southern ghost. "Is that what you were when you were alive?"
Ezra blinked very slowly, looking a little surprised that Chris didn't seem to know, or that he hadn't mentioned it before now. He nodded. "I was."
"That how you died? Someone accused you of cheating?"
"That, Mr. Larabee, is a personal question. And one I do not wish to answer. One does not ask the deceased how they died."
Ezra heaved a put-upon sigh. "It's hardly the same thing. I do hate to compare myself to the law, but I ask those questions to discover the truth; because since Mr. Tanner and I came to you, that has been my role. If left to my own devices I would most certainly not ask why or how a fellow spirit lost their lives."
Chris was silent for a moment, taking a corner. "So what was Vin when he was alive?" he asked, curiosity getting the better of him.
"Vin was a tracker, a bounty hunter by trade. One of the best, by all accounts," Ezra replied after a long silence.
"So how on earth did you two meet up, let alone start a relationship?" Chris watched as Ezra tensed just a little at the word relationship, he had noticed the ghost did so every time his relations to Vin were brought up. He put it down to what Ezra had told him before, that when they were alive such things were not discussed, or mentioned.
Ezra shrugged slowly, and smiled a little. "One might call it fate. I call it an incredible stroke of luck." That was his only response.
After a few blocks in unusual silence Ezra turned to Chris. "I'm going to try one more commune. There's just something not right about this. I shall endeavour to return as soon as possible." He vanished immediately.
Chris shook his head, for someone who complained so much about being a spirit guide, Ezra did take his job very seriously. A few turns later and Chris pulled up outside Mr. Aaron Hewitt's home.
Getting out of the car he looked at the house and garden. It didn't stand out too much, but was just different enough. Nothing outside normal. Which had always set Chris's teeth on edge. The perfectly normal were always the ones to watch out for. Going to the front door he rang the doorbell three times and stepped back to wait, fishing out his police I.D. The door opened a minute or so later.
"Detective Larabee of the Denver PD, Cold Case unit. I'm here to clear up some things regarding your niece's disappearance fifteen years ago," Chris said, watching the man.
He hesitated for the barest of instants before nodding and opening the door further. "Of course detective. Come on in."
Chris was led into the living room and waved to the seat. It was surprisingly clean and well kept for a single man.
"Don't know that there's a lot I can tell you. Abby just up and vanished one day. She was never quite the same after her parents passed. I guess she just ran away. Have you any more news on her?" he asked, sounding hopeful.
"Something's not right Cowboy," Vin said suddenly, having just returned from another search in the spirit world.
"Not as such. We're looking into her disappearance in relation to a murder that took place around that time," Chris said, silently willing Vin to continue.
"There's a spirit here. Not dead, but close to it. I'm not sure where exactly, but in this house," Vin told him.
"Mr. Hewitt, would you mind if I used your bathroom?" Chris asked.
"Sure, up the stairs, you can't miss it. Would you like anything to drink?" The man didn't sound like he was hiding anything, though if he was guilty (which was looking more and more likely by the second) he had had fifteen years to work on his act.
"No, thank you."
"Well, I would like a brew." Hewitt got up and headed to the kitchen while Chris went to the hall.
"Where?" he hissed to Vin.
"Give me a second Chris, I'm a ghost, not a psychic." Vin looked around, before he finally located a trail Chris could not see. "There." He pointed to the door under the stairs, that most likely led to the basement. Chris nodded and made his way towards it.
Ezra stumbled back from Abigail Hewitt, gasping in a breath as he finally realised the truth. "Chris!" he whispered, and materialised in the human plane.
When he arrived he found Chris and Vin in the basement of a house, looking at a young girl, bound, blindfolded and naked. Well, so much for informing Chris of this development.
"Chris!" Vin suddenly cried.
Chris turned from the girl to the stairs, just as a gun went off. Chris stumbled back, his hand becoming slippery with blood as he touched his chest.
Vin and Ezra shared a horrified look as Chris collapsed, because both knew there was nothing they could do just then to help.
"Sorry detective. I can't let you live now you know," Hewitt said, sounding anything but sorry.
"You bastard," Chris spat, spittle and blood on his lips.
"Stay with him, Vin. I'll go get the cavalry," Ezra said.
"How? They can't see you," Vin reminded him.
"I'll manage. You just keep him in the land of the living," Ezra told him firmly.
Vin gave him a weak smile. "Sure Ez, take the easy job why don'tcha."
Ezra gave him a tip of his imaginary hat and was gone. Vin turned back to Chris as the door to the basement slammed shut, leaving them in the dark. Chris bleeding on the floor, the girl sobbing uncontrollably, and Vin without a clue how to fix it.
To Be Continued
(in Episode 5: Revealing The Truth -- Part 2)
Evil? Why yes, I am. But this a double bill, so just click on to the next episode.
|Cold Case Index||On to: Episode 5: Revealing The Truth -- Part 2|
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