Am I A Ghost Or Real?

Skin Graph

"Why are you fidgeting?" Marcus asks me as he reaches out to steady my very twitchy leg.

He'd come into the house in the early morning, one hour before I was supposed to leave, so we could discuss the mission further. Communication between us from today will have to be very cautious. So we needed to cover some base lines first. Which is why I had missed my morning run.

"There was no yelling. Everyone was understanding. Especially my mother. Which is scary. There were too many feelings for one day." I wine.

"I thought that was a good thing?" He questions confused.

"Not with my mother." One time, when I was sixteen, I went to this rock concert in the city. Some big metal band. In the middle of the standing circle, right next to where I was standing, some idiotic guys start making jabs at each other and one of them gets stabbed. Each guy's group starts throwing punches at each other and some random people got hit in the process. I remember the cops dismantling the fight, and I remember ending up with a black bruise on my face with a busted lip. My mother was so worried when I was first brought home. She made sure to give me whatever I needed that night. Once morning came she scolded me for going to such a gathering, and reminded me that Pecks don't get caught up in bad situations. Weirdly, even through all of her affection last night, I feel like next time I see her, it'll be like that morning. And this time, I have no idea how to arm myself and be ready.

"Hey, you're back. They're happy. Remember that." Marcus says in reassurance.

We've been sitting in the living room drinking coffee for the past few minutes.

"Yeah, back for now. Once I leave again, there will be no forgiveness next time." I scoff.

"Not true. You can always keep contact, you know that. You can always obtain safe contact. You don't have to completely disappear. Your division doesn't ask that of you." He tries to reason with my dreadful mind. "Besides, remember that Jameson needs to be put away, at all costs. I'm sure doing that would outshine your Peck name. Which you've already done on many previous occasions." He praises.

"Which only I know about." I mumble with an eye roll and he only chuckles at my childish behavior.

"You don't have to rush this mission. Just go out there, have the time you need with your family, and get the bad guy." When he says it like that, it sounds easy enough. "We need as many information as we can get before we take him down. Something's going on there that we don't know about. So do your best to figure it out. And find someone to have a little fun with. You need a little love my friend." He jokes.

"Ha! That's all that's missing. Of course! All I need now is one more person to add to my list of people I will break soon." I let the sarcasm drip heavily. "I can't risk someone's life by being with me, and have them put up with all the secrecy and shit."

"I said fun, not a relationship." She corrects me.

"I don't do fun." I say.

"Come on! How long has it been since you've been happy?" To that question, I cower with no answer.

"Find yourself a good guy to have fun with, or girl. Whatever you want." He shrugs.

"You're an idiot. I'm on a mission here. A very important one. Which can not handle screwing up." I chastised him.

"Look, all I'm saying is, you've been sad long enough. When you're mission needs space, find someone to fill your spaced time. Find the meaning of smiling again. Loosen up, learn how to have fun." This was a side of Marcus that I haven't seen yet.

"You're a big old softy aren't you?" I tease him.

"Yes, I am. And so are you. Behind all this charade you put up." He lifts his hands up to indicate all over my face. "And hey, if it's girls you're into now, It's all okay with me." He adds with a knowing smile.

"Jerk!" I fling a pillow at him.

"Oh, come on! I'm not blind!" He exclaims in defense.

"Look, I've never been one to care about someone because of their gender. No one ever chose what skin they were born into. Male and Female relationships are only socially acceptable because their different in form and their ability to reproduce made it sound reasonable. When in fact if you justify liking someone, it's them and not the body you need. It's a state of mind. So technically, if you let go of the codes implanted in your head since infancy, you like both men and women too. We all do." I lecture more than explain as I smuggle point at him.

"Since my codes are still there, and you lost yours, I'll just let you have all the fun with both." He fires back at me.

"Your loss, loser." I say as I finish my coffee.

"You ready to go and face the music?" He asks me as we get our coats and get ready to leave.

"I don't understand anything yet, I'm even starting to get confused on whether that's Jameson or not. His background fits so well. But his composure and attitude somehow gives him away to me." I confess.

"I don't get it either. But remember, he was one of the best. So he knows how to disappear well." He reminds me.

"Not well enough, since we found him." I say.

"Just cause he's one of the best, doesn't mean there can't be better agents out there." He says with a wink my direction and I simply scoff.

"Wouldn't have been easier to have made me an officer? This detective thing won't put me too close to the subject." If I were a constable, I could be partnered up with James, I could have more opportunities to know him. Also, I would do a better job. I could still be considered a rookie then and my mistakes would be justifiable, whereas I cannot mess up as a detective.

"You had to be your own boss. We didn't want you having to follow a specific rules of job. We needed you to be available when needed. And as the boss of Jameson you can get every information easier. Besides, you're a spy. It's better if you lead a team, then have it lead you." He explains my position in the force.

"Okay, I get that. It's just…" I trail off, not wanting to admit that I just didn't want to screw up being a detective.

"You'll do fine. You said it yourself, you were trained to be a cop your whole life. You know what to do. Just trust your instincts and all the training you've had these past few years." he says as he pats my shoulder before we exit the door.

"Now go catch some bad guys, and in the process, find yourself some loving." He says as he saunters away and I climb into my car after I flip him off.

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I walk into the station with Marcus's words echoing in my head. You were trained to be a cop your whole life. I hang on to those words to keep my confident face on. I arrived at the station a couple of minutes before parade knowing that there will be no family members to hold my hand through this now. Steve would be at his department and I would be here with all these strangers, keeping an eye on one of the most dangerous men, all by myself.

Knowing that he's a bad guy, and knowing that what I do is put people like him away, makes me determined to do my job and not cower in front of all the dangers I'm facing now.

So I walk into Parade just as Sergeant Best takes his position behind his stand. I find a place to sit in the back next to Detective Swarek and Officer Shaw whom I acknowledge with a nod.

Best tells everyone about a robbery that happened early this morning and explains to us all they know about the guy behind it. Detective Nash then starts explaining everything about the incident and who are the suspects.

Before everyone could disperse and I could make it into my office to study the next case that'll be mine and have James work with me on it maybe to get more info,, Best makes introductions.

"Also," he adds before anyone can leave. "I would like to introduce you to our newest homicide detective. She just transferred here from Vancouver. Detective Gail Peck." He says pointing at me and I simply greet back with a small smile and nod as everyone offers their hellos.

"Little Peck. Welcome to 15." Officer Shaw says as he pats my shoulder while he walks off towards the assignment board to see who'd be riding with him today.

I simply make it to my desk and start reading the files left for me there, as everyone goes by their work, and detective Nash takes over the robbery case.

"Peck." I get called while working on the latest file. I look up to see Sam Swarek at the door.

"Come with me. You got your first homicide in Toronto." He says as he waves for me to follow him and then he walks out.

I close the file and pick up my stuff and make sure my gun is in place as I put my jacket on and make my way after him.

"Diaz says some teenagers were hiking in the woods when they came across the body. We just informed Forensics." Sam explains as we get into his car and he drives to the crime scene.

Once we get there forensics are already in the process of restricting the crime scene and taking photos.

"Diaz, James." Sam calls for them as we arrive.

"Detective." Diaz nods.

"What have we got?" Sam asks.

"Well when we arrived the teenagers over there said that they just came across the body. They didn't touch it, just called it in immediately." He explains. "Forensics just arrived a minute or two before you did. They're still waiting for the Pathologist to arrive before they touch the body." As Diaz explains I study the body.

Shot in the stomach, lower left part. Clean shot. The victim must be in his late twenties. I walk towards the body and show my badge for forensics to let me through.

I crouch in front of the body and try not to touch it, simply examine it with my eyes. His skin isn't blueish. I'm sure he hadn't JUST died he must have been here for a while, maybe more than four hours. The skin looks Pinkish. Cherry pink maybe? He didn't die of the gun wound. He was poisoned. Then shot.

I reach out to make sure he's been dead for a while and touch his wrist to see temperature. The skin is cold, no pulse. He's definitely been poisoned. Just as I extract my hand a shape under his sleeve catches my eyes. I lift the sleeve slightly and slowly until the whole tattoo is revealed.

It was a simple three horizontal parallel lines that differ in thickness. I immediately get my phone to take a photo of it. The tattoo looked familiar so I text it to Marcus immediately with a: look familiar?

"You know you're messing with evidence, right?" A serious female voice says from behind me.

I turn around and look up to find myself looking at a tall brunette with dark hair put in a bun and brown eyes hidden by glasses.

The girl from outside the station last week. So she's not a cop.

I stand up and brush off the dirt off my pants and meet her eyes with a bit of a smirk and walk away from the body towards where she's standing.

"Let me guess. Glasses, Lunchbox, Nerd vibes. You must be the Forensics Pathologist." I guess in a matter of fact voice.

"And you're disrupting my evidence." She says not wavering.

"Dr. Stewart." Swarek greets the pathologist as he stands closer to us.

"Detective." She nods.

"Looks like you got a gun shot victim on your hands." He points out and she nods.

"Keep this detective away, she doesn't respect evidence." She points at me playfully and yet seriously before she saunters towards the body.

"Actually he was poisoned." I say with a knowing smile before she gets towards the body and that causes her to turn with a whiplash.

"And you figured this how?" She questions with raised eye brows.

I walk towards the body with Sam on my heels.

"Pink skin, Cherry pink. Yeah I'm guessing he was shot after he died, a few seconds after." I say smugly and Dr. Stewart simply crouches down towards the body to examine it.

"You're right." She says a few minutes later as she turns towards me.

Sam simply nods encouragingly at me. "Good job detective Peck." He says. "Can you tell what poison it is?" He asks the Doctor.

"Well detective, any idea what it could be?" She asks me challengingly.

"Carbon Monoxide, probably." I remark.

"Yeah probably." Dr Stewart nods and goes back to examine the body.

My guess is the guy has been tortured. Which is what led to his death. Inhaling Carbon Monoxide must have been part of his torture.

"Notice anything else Peck?" Sam asks me.

"He has a tattoo on the upper part of his left wrist." I say as I pull out my phone to show him.

"This looks familiar." He says and he picks up his phone and makes a call.

"Callaghan. I think you need to be here for this." He says to the whoever was on the other side and he explains the situation and gives away the address.

As he makes the call I can feel my eyes gravitating towards the good Doctor as she examines the body on the scene and takes photos.

"Any ID?" Sam asks once he's done with his phone call and after he'd talked to James for a a couple of minutes. I'm guessing since they glanced at the teenagers still huddled on the side, Sam was asking if he took the full statements.

"No wallet or anything on him. I'll know more once I get him on the slab. But I'd say he's been dead for about eight or nine hours." She explains as she goes back to examining the body.

"You agree Peck?" Sam asks tauntingly and I simply squint my eyes in a cold glare at him.

I look towards James then to see what he's up to. He looks to be standing on the side watching the body.

His expression is unreadable. It looks to be careless. He doesn't look worried. I avert my gaze before he could catch me staring.

And it lands back on the doctor, who seems to be appraising me too. I simply life my eye brows in question with a half smirk on my face.

She just shakes her head and goes back to examining a body when a blond detective shows up.

"Swarek what have you got?" He asks as he saunters into the crime scene and makes his way towards the victim.

"Callaghan." Sam greets. As Sam explains the situation I get a text from Marcus. Yes. It does. It's a secret Tattoo for a secret organization. Where'd you see it?

Dead body. I text back and put my phone away

"You're right, it's same as the one the other victim had." Callaghan says and piques my interest.

"What other victim?" I ask and Callaghan looks at me questionably.

"Luke Callaghan, meet detective Gail Peck. Just transferred to 15." Luke nods in greeting towards me and I nod back.

He then goes into his explanation.

"Three weeks ago, we found a body in an ally by 52 devision. The guy was shot and had the same tattoo as this, same place. It turns out during the autopsy that cause of death was poisoning not gun shot. Just like your victim. We sent the tattoo to a few detectives to help us figure it out, otherwise we wanted to keep it on the down low. We don't want cops and rookies trying to prove themselves and get into trouble." He explains as he points towards the victim.

"I'm gonna need to take the body to the lab for further examination and possible ID identification." Dr. Stewart says as she reaches where we're standing.

Swarek nods at her and then proclaims. "I need someone to go to the morgue and someone to stick around here."

"I'll go to the morgue." James says lifting his hand.

"Alright I'll stick around." Diaz says.

But the look in James's eyes as he looks at the body at that moment tells me that I shouldn't let him go to the morgue. If he is involved in this, I need to keep him away. And my instincts tell me he is involved. And if he is involved, then the answers lie with the body.

"Actually, this looks like a delicate case. I think I'll go." I volunteer myself.

"Are you sure?" Sam asks me.

"It seems to be a case you two are more familiar with." I say pouting at them trying to come up with an excuse as to why I need to go. "I'll do more help at the morgue."

"Alright then." Sam says and then looks towards James. "James you stay, Detective Peck will go."

"Alright." James agrees immediately which makes me again doubt my instincts and think I misread the look in his eyes previously.

"So you promise you won't mess with evidence?" Dr Stewart asks with a smirk.

"Awww, are you scared I'll mess with your work?" I tease. "I don't promise things I can't keep. Unfortunately for you, you're stuck with me Lunchbox." I say and turn around to head away from the scene.

"Lunchbox?" She asks as she matches my stride.

"You're the only one here with one. Had to distinguish you somehow." I answer in explanation to the name.

"I have a name you know." She says.

"Now where's the fun in that?" I tease and keep walking away from the scene.


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