At thirty-eight, Meagan Kretz was a fairly young District Attorney. She had only held the office for two years before she came across the Alexa King case. Still, she had seen her fair share of odd cases in her career as a prosecutor. Particularly striking was the Paul Millander case six years previously. But there was something about Alexa King’s case that burrowed its way beneath her skin. It may have been because this woman had not only targeted a respected member of the LVPD, but also fellow lawyer. Even if he was a public defender, Meagan knew Lincoln Meyer had probably shared her passion for law and justice. Or maybe it was because Alexa was a woman, and a small one at that, who had somehow managed to manipulate four different men into their own torture and murder. Or perhaps it was the sexual assault aspect of the case, as women assaulting men was a rare and morbidly fascinating occurrence to her.
Either way, when Meagan received a call from the facility which was keeping and treating King in the very early hours of Sunday morning, she immediately swung her legs out of bed and started putting on her coat. Now, she stood with Dr. Albert Robbins, who was shaking his head at her corpse and checking something off on his clipboard.
“Rehabilitated my ass…” he muttered.
Meagan blinked. “These treatments often take time. Some people can’t wait for them to work.”
“It’s not that,” Dr. Robbins said. “She was supposedly on a strict medication regimen. I didn’t find a trace of the stuff in her system. She was squirreling them away somewhere, probably.”
“Some people can’t be cured,” Meagan reasoned. “Or don’t want to be.”
Dr. Robbins shook his head again. “Somehow, I don’t think that was her problem. Prison hospitals are more interested in keeping their patients docile than actually treating them.”
“You’re saying the system failed her?” Meagan asked.
“I’m not saying anything,” Dr. Robbins insisted. “Officially, I rule this a suicide.” He handed her his clipboard.
She took it, and changed the subject. “Graveyard take this one?”
“No need,” Dr. Robbins said. “The Institute had it covered. They have procedures in place for this. No, graveyard’s on other cases tonight.”
Meagan nodded. “Well, I guess this saves the city some money on a trial.”
“Doesn’t save me any grief, though,” Dr. Robbins grumbled. “Or Nick.”
Meagan drummed her fingers against the clipboard twice. “I haven’t called Jim Brass yet, either.”
Dr. Robbins looked down at the body on his table, then pulled the sheet up to cover her face. “So don’t.”
“Don’t tell him,” he said, turning around. “The mother’s already been in to see the body. She was upset, but not surprised. I can release it to her tomorrow morning, and then Alexa King is gone again and out of our lives, as well she should be.”
“That’s not your decision to make,” Meagan said.
“No, it’s yours,” Dr. Robbins agreed. “As District Attorney, it’s your prerogative to determine who needs to be officially notified.”
“They’ll find out eventually,” Meagan said. “I bet they’re already planning something for the news.”
For a moment, Dr. Robbins looked much older than his years. Meagan didn’t know him that well, but she could tell that he cared about the CSI night shift staff. It was clear he just wished this would all go away.
“I’ll do it,” he said after a moment.
Meagan blinked. “I’m sorry?”
“I’ll tell Brass,” Dr. Robbins explained. “And Grissom. And everyone else will learn from there.”
Meagan smiled warmly at him. She hated doing notifications, even when it was about someone as notoriously damaged as Alexa King. It’s one reason why she chose law school instead of the police academy. She knew she could never be a detective. “Thanks,” she said.
“Like I said,” Dr. Robbins began, looking down at the body on his table covered by the sheet. “Doesn’t save me any grief.”
“Thanks,” Greg said blankly into his phone. He held it against his ear for a moment, as if there were more to hear, then slowly lowered it and clicked it shut, his eyes fixed straight ahead. He was right outside of the crime lab and he stared at the glass doors in front of him. He considered walking through them, but out of instinct turned to look across the street at the diner. His eyes scanned the parking lot. He turned and started walking, then jogging, pausing only to check for oncoming cars before sprinting across the street and into the diner. He pushed through the doors so fast, he had to catch the back of a booth seat to help him turn and stopped.
Nick was staring at him, his hands surrounding a porcelain mug of coffee. Sara, who was sitting across from Nick, turned in her seat. Greg noticed that her hand was resting on top of her cell phone, next to her plate of toast.
“Grissom told me,” he told them, to explain his haste. “I just thought…”
And then, Nick smiled. It was tired, and his eyes were dull, but the hint of the person he used to be shone brighter than Greg had seen it since the abduction. He closed his eyes and jerked his head to his right as he moved closer towards the window on his left. Greg took the message and slid into the booth beside him. Sara watched him with her wide brown eyes and inscrutable expression as she placed her cell phone in her purse. Greg’s gaze lingered on her for a moment, his mouth half-open, trying in vain to read her, but Sara Sidle was the same closed book she had always been. So instead, he turned to Nick, who was lifting the mug to his mouth, his strange smile still in place. Greg didn’t understand it.
“Are you OK?”
The smile grew as he closed his eyes. He lowered the mug from his lips and turned to Greg. “It’s all right, Greg.”
“How?” Greg asked. “How is it all right? I’ll never understand why you felt the way you do about her, but I know that you cared. You’re… not upset?”
Nick’s smile faded a little as he looked away again. He looked down at his coffee, then up at Sara. Greg looked between them both, feeling like he had missed out on some secret inside joke. It bothered him more than he cared to admit.
He let out a tired sigh and pushed his mug away. “Did you ever see that Stephen King movie, Pet Sematary?”
This was an odd question, although digging into the back of his mind, Greg was able to nod, slowly. “A million years ago. Refresh my memory?”
“People die,” Nick explains. “And the ones left alive… they can’t let go. But the old man in the movie’s right, Greg. Sometimes… dead is better.”
Sometimes, dead is better. Greg mulled this axiom over in his mind. His eyes connected with Sara’s. She saw his confusion.
“She was already lost to the world, Greg. There’s nothing anyone could have done for her at that point.”
“She was already gone…” Nick added, quietly. And then, his smile returned. “She’s not in pain anymore.”
Greg finally understood. He stared at the table. The three sat in silence. But it wasn’t awkward, or distant, or depressing. The silence brought them closer. The silence was friendly, and curled around them like a cat, purring, slowing their rapidly beating hearts and reminding them that it was a new day, and the night was over.
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