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Chapter 3.StolenLife

Xavien stayed in a motel just outside of the city limits for the next couple days, and then he quickly moved to find a place to rent. He opted for a nice townhome in a quiet community, rather than save his money and remain in a motel room that felt dirty no matter how often he tried to clean it. He felt lost and lonely for the first time in his life. He wanted to run to Myrna for advice and comfort but he didn’t know if she would have any of either. He knew that he couldn’t lean on her for emotional support his whole life and that he needed to learn how to figure these things out for himself, no matter how difficult. This seemed to be sudden and undeserved, no matter what his shortcomings were, real or perceived. This felt as if it had come out of nowhere, which added to the mystery.

He truly doted on Scott and Clara, even though he wasn’t around as much as Clara would have preferred. Xavien had, due to work obligations, canceled vacations and worked more than his share of weekends but, from the data he was able to compile independently, the average time that it took a decent man in his precinct to have a marriage end was in the ballpark of ten years.

The aberration was his captain, Bruce Crane. His wife had left him after eighteen years. His captain also had the stress of his ne’er-do-well son Giles, who constantly found himself on the wrong side of the law, whether by action or suspicion. Xavien had met Giles a few times and it only served to reinforce his intensely negative first impression. It appeared that the feeling had been mutual, so much so that they acknowledged each other with a knowing smirk. Giles and Xavien shared some similar traits and Xavien suspected that Giles might also be a werewolf but that only served to keep him even farther away.

Bruce was often upset by Giles, but loved him very dearly. Bruce’s ex-wife often blamed Bruce for Giles misbehavior and legal trouble, and this was the primary point of contention and stressor that led to the eventual divorce. Xavien understood how this could drive a man and wife apart, even if it was wrong-headed and unfortunate. There was no such smoking-gun for his break-up with Clara, and he’d not been able to discern a satisfactory answer, not one he could believe in. The whole thing stunk.

His independent research had been inconclusive, so he investigated Clara’s network of harpies and meddlesome bitches. They were socially deplorable creatures with horrible personalities, but nothing that they had committed was a chargeable offense. He often hoped that there would be a law against girl-talk; the type of toxic banter that drove a wedge in relationships that were otherwise fine.

He also just could not prevent himself from the daydream that there was something… else… wrong. It hurt him to feel this, because this meant that he was powerless. He’d avoided a vast world of unpredictable insanity his whole life, though even he knew he could not avoid it forever. He suspected that supernatural societies were the same as mundane society, just more insidious, violent, dramatic and petty.

Xavien felt justified in his willful ignorance. Although he often felt like he was being watched from the shadows on occasion, he did not want to signal interest. He would approach when he was ready, or if it felt unavoidable; whichever came first. Until that time, however, he would strengthen his body and mind within the limits of his human capacities, as he understood that his primal form was merely a more powerful version of his natural self.

Xavien felt his anger mix with sexual desire… which reminded him that Clara would no longer serve as his partner in that capacity. This distressed him greatly, as he liked sex very much. She also claimed that she enjoyed sex with him so much that she used to say that she would stay married to him no matter what, if only for the sex. As he stood in his living room, which was barren of furniture, Xavien felt the intense compulsion for release. He hurried to the bathroom sink and handled the matter quickly.

As he turned the water on to wash his semen down the drain, he contemplated how mechanical and sad the process had been. He’d not masturbated in three years, but this was certainly the loneliest Xavien had ever felt. Masturbation merely took the urges and pressure and converted them to loneliness and depression. He also did not feel completely spent or satisfied. He contemplated desperate women that some of his fellow officers had often found through online chat rooms. He was hurting and lonely, so he was willing to try anything. He needed to feel a woman’s touch and release within her.

He booted up his computer and checked the personals, answered a few ads and marveled at the level of whorish behavior he observed. Some even indicated that they were ready that evening. Many of them were on the slightly obese side, but he’d always enjoyed a female with a stockier build. He could never quite explain it, but painted models and superficial females disgusted him because they just didn’t feel “real”. If he couldn’t enjoy the woman fully, he wanted nothing to do with them.

The woman he wanted was no longer available to him, and this quandary meant that he would have to settle for someone he did not want. He was honest in his ad, was quite careful to explain that he worked in law enforcement and would not exchange cash or goods for pleasure.

A female responded to his ad quickly. She mentioned that she liked a man in uniform who was interested in using her body for a release after a hard day’s work. Her email address was a little “on-the-nose” BBWuni4mLVR@darkfoalcom.corp.hcga. He smirked as he read her solicitous email as she raved about his ‘beautiful picture’. She’d enclosed a short erotic video of her masturbation as well as a rather unflattering photo of her sucking on her nipple. The video was arousing enough, and felt a little less lonely than his prior sink masturbation experience. He went to the kitchen, grabbed a paper towel, sat in his chair and masturbated into the paper towel as the movie played. He then emailed her back to indicate his appreciation, and informed her that he masturbated to the video. This wasn’t good or perfect, but it relieved the remaining pressure and provided a momentary reprieve from the sadness. She replied instantly and asked him to meet. Yeah, that was not going to happen. He liked this relationship exactly where it was.

The remaining paid leave went uneventfully. He spent a lot of his free time in contemplation of how unsettled the breakup from his wife had made him. He unsuccessfully attempted to contact her by phone and email and did not see the minivan parked at home. He drove by her parents’ house and noted that her van was parked there. He would wait until she returned his call so that he could address his lack of contact with Scott. It upset him, but he was wounded enough to stay away for a moment. At almost 18 months, Scott would not understand why his daddy wouldn’t be around anymore. Furthermore, Xavien had also never gone more than a day without seeing his family through the duration of his relationship.

He also spent more time locked into communication with a few females he had located on the computer. They seemed eager to provide him with sexually explicit material. After awhile, they requested to see nude pictures of him. He expressed to them that he was not inclined to do so, but relented to video chat on several occasions.

The remaining paid leave flew by quickly. Tomorrow would be his first day back after his life had been changed for the worse.


He arrived at work at 6 am and worked out in the precinct gym for an hour, then showered and made his way toward his office. He passed his partner, Victor, in the hallway and was quickly stopped.

“Hey, Brady! Shit… did you hear? We have officially linked that last murder to the ‘Artist’. Pags is all over that shit. Captain wants to see us when he gets in at 8. I got a feeling we may get a shot at this. This could be very good for our career; they make movies outta this shit, bro.” Victor nodded in a serious tone that barely concealed his excitement.

Xavien sighed; “Whatever. Life hasn’t gone so well lately, and involvement in this is not going to cheer me up. You are correct, it would be a good career move… if only I gave a damn. If Crane wants me on it, I’m all over it. But I have no interest beyond that.”

Victor pursed his lips and cast his eyes downward; “Yeah. I called the house for you to see what was up. Man… if you need anything, lemme know. Totally didn’t see that coming.”

Xavien narrowed his eyes to slits. He sensed there was deception in Victor’s body language and he was less than eager to figure out exactly what it was. Still, he felt the need to let Victor know that he wasn’t completely stupid. He glared at Victor as if he were trying to burn a hole through his head.

“Woah, man… What the hell did I do?” Victor’s expression showed a mixture of fear and guilt.

What, indeed. Xavien thought as he sighed and turned his focus back to the hallway. The captain was striding to his office looking determined, unshaven and disheveled. He then cast a glance over to Victor and Xavien; “Fantastic… Glad you’re back, we got a disaster on our hands in more ways than one… my office in five.”

Xavien nodded; “Yes sir.” He quickly parted ways with Victor. His head was not ‘in the game’, but he could still function at a higher level than anyone else on the force. It disturbed him that he felt something off with Victor. The smell of corruption was something he’d gotten used to in his line of work. He disliked sensing it so close to him.

He felt sick; things were happening too quickly and it seemed that there were too many things that threatened to sweep him further along this path. Was someone actively meddling with his life? He sighed and grunted as he tossed his duffel bag into his office and closed the door behind him.

Victor rejoined him as they walked to the Captain’s office in silence. It seemed that Victor was suddenly and suspiciously nervous around him. Xavien wanted to cry and this was something that he simply must not do at work; it was unprofessional, regardless of the circumstances.

The two men entered the captain’s office and Bruce began; “First I’ll start to the most immediate of my concerns. Paguirillo is not responding to my calls. I’ve got a unit headed there right now, should be there within the next few minutes. Meanwhile, you’ve got a bit of work ahead of you. We’ve still got no ID on this guy, no prints, no leads, no witnesses… nothing. Worse yet? I think that there is something going on underneath the surface. We’re dealing with the fact that we’ve had this case for this long as a part of Pag’s caseload; really, as you know, his only case. But I… hold on… shut the door.”

Xavien closed the door quickly and quietly behind him as the captain lowered his voice; “I know he is a good guy and a great detective… and… I’ve been on orders to leave it in Pag’s care… which I was fine with until we had a fourth case and still no leads or real pressure from above. Well, now, all of a sudden this is a giant deal and the Chief instructed me to pull Pags off of this instantly and put you two in charge. There’s a lot unexplained here, and I don’t want my concerns to leave this room. This shit just stinks and it’s different than the usual stink that permeates this place. Got me? I need you guys to— hold on…” Bruce put his finger up as his phone rang.

“—Crane. Yes? Oh, fuck me running. Rope that shit off. I’m sending Brady and Clayton…” The captain slammed the phone into the cradle and looked sad and angry as he firmly ordered the two men; “Get to that house ASAP… They found him and his daughters dead… and… strung up like… just… go. And Brady? End this shit.” Bruce’s eyes had welled up as he finished his sentence.

This was not what Xavien really wanted to deal with upon his first day back. He felt his gut twist… There was an overabundance of unpleasant and unanswered questions already. This seemed par for the course, and it seemed all too… orchestrated.

The two of them hurried to the car, got in and remained silent until Xavien pulled out of the parking garage. Victor broke the silence; “This might be the best time, but I think you know already… so I just wanted to tell you that I am sorry and I truly didn’t mean for it to go down like this bro.”

Xavien clenched his jaw. He most certainly did not quite know until this moment, but he now suspected that Victor was about to tell him something that he didn’t like. He decided to play along; “Of course I know, you idiot. What I want to know is why you did it and what the hell did you actually mean to do in the first place?”

“I don’t know… I… When I called and Clara answered and said you weren’t there… I knew that something was up… so I asked her if everything was fine. She cried and told me that you two were divorcing. I just wanted to… help… you know?”

“Just stop, you opportunistic motherfucker. Everything you are about to tell me is going to make me angry and distract me. You are not forgiven and never will be; I will not accept your apology and hope you find it within you to speak to me only when spoken to. Focus on the job, nothing more. I want to kick the shit out of you, but will refrain because it will do nothing more than make me feel good.” Xavien spoke with an eerie calm as a haunting smile spread across his face to punctuate his final statement.

“Go ahead and hit me. I deserve it.” Came the remorseful reply from his partner.

“I might not stop. This would be a poor career move, and may damage my ability to see my son.” Xavien said, with the smile stuck on his face. This was an unpleasant revelation, but calmed him somewhat. He no longer suspected that Victor was part of the greater meta-plot to destroy his life. He was just a dog, scavenging at the scraps.

The smile faded from Xavien’s face as they pulled up outside of Detective Paguirillo’s home on the outskirts of Hyde City. He turned to his partner and locked his gaze; “Don’t you dare worry about my focus. I can hold my shit together. Are you able to do your job right now?”

“Y-yeah. I’m all over it. Let’s get to work.” Victor said, with more uncertainty than Xavien wanted to hear. The two men exited the car and entered the house.

Xavien ran up the stairs with his partner as two other officers looked around the first floor. He opened up the door to the bedroom, and saw the spectacle of Detective Paguirillo and his three teenage daughters dead, naked and bound. The next thing he noticed was the horrible smell. Xavien looked at the wall and noted that there was a poem painted beautifully... with blood. Xavien mused aloud, “What the fuck is up with the poetry on the wall”

This was his first day back from his waste of a vacation. He truly did not want to deal with a serial killer, and this smacked of something eerily wrong; something he could not place. The same way the breakup with Clara felt... just ‘off’... It felt so awful that it pained him in a similar way. He felt that fate was a greeting-card-company creation, but it seemed as if the world was aiming to pull him apart if he didn’t succumb to his darker nature.

Victor looked up, sniffed joylessly and read the poem aloud, slowly;

“Because I have always been true to myself:

I lost my mind with no regret

I lost my soul without control

I have left my body to the science of time

I have no heart to speak of

My sense of smell, gone to hell

My eyesight is keen, as are my ears

The nerves at my fingers are alive and well.

My life is meaningless

But I’ve killed a lot of people

I acted out my lust with depravity.

I will never change my way of thinking

I enjoy torture, I am utterly sadistic

I am also masochistic.

With all of this knowledge that you have...

How am I still better than you?”

Then Victor shrugged and Xavien said “I don’t get it...How IS he still better than us?”

Victor muttered; “Brady... Sometimes there are no explanations. Sometimes things exist. Let’s just work on stopping this madness and figure out the rest later.” A rare spot of wisdom from an otherwise useless human being.

Xavien nodded and gestured outside of the window, toward a smiling man in a royal blue suit; “Clayton, what’s up with this joker outside? He seems a little… theatrically dressed, wouldn’t you say?”

The two men shared a quick look of panic as the realization hit them at the same time. Victor hollered a call for backup as the two of them scrambled down the stairs and readied their weapons.

First down the stairs, Xavien cursed loudly; “He’s fucking gone…”

While Victor rattled off the description over his radio, Xavien raced out of the house. A crowd had begun to form around the perimeter, enticed by the three marked cars along with his own. He frantically pulled the rookie that had begun to work crowd control, and fed him the description of the man he was looking for.

The young man shook his head “Sorry, Detective. I didn’t see him.”

Xavien got distracted by the rookie’s shiny signet ring with the initials “I AM” embossed into it. He figured that it must be an heirloom.

“Hey Rook... you know the rules. No jewelry allowed. Put it in your pocket.”

The young officer nodded with a broad, almost flirtatious smile as he complied. “Sorry, sir. Won’t happen again”

Xavien scanned the small crowd again, in futility, before holstering his gun and cursing out of exasperation. He called the description of the man into dispatch, and began to question the crowd.

As this he continued the exercise in futility, Xavien could not understand how someone in such gaudy attire could disappear and avoid the twenty onlookers who had gathered. He met with his partner and he, too, had absolutely no leads.

Over the next week, the city-wide search turned into a nation-wide manhunt, with this character getting airtime on the nationally-syndicated show Criminals At Large. Xavien had once immersed himself in this work to the point where Clara used this as an excuse to leave him. However, now, he had nothing to left to lose and nothing to stop him from diving head-long into this investigation.

At midnight on the following Saturday, Xavien shuffled in the door to his small townhome, flung his keys on to the table by the door, and unbuttoned his shirt as he plodded up the stairs to his bedroom.

Seeing the emptiness of his bedroom reminded him of his loneliness. He considered sleep but, instead, he plopped down in his computer chair to engage in some hot cyber-chat with desperate housewives or single women, whack off and then go to sleep.

He opened his email, to see if any of his latest female dalliances had sent him any more movies, photos or professions of affection. Predictably, there were three emails that likely held sexually-explicit material. However, there was a fourth email that caught his eye. The subject read: “I FUCKED YOUR BOY”

It had been sent from TheDevolver@mastersonindustries.com, sent at 11:37pm, less than thirty minutes ago.

His instincts howled to life and he felt the beast within him awaken, as he clicked on the email. The split seconds between the click and the display of the email had Xavien tasting his own blood. He felt the very real pain that it wasn’t a hoax. The body of the email contained three pictures.

The first picture was taken in Xavien’s former home. Xavien’s ex-wife Clara, his boy, Scott and his partner Victor were lifeless and nude in the picture. His son was lewdly sandwiched between his Ex and his partner, which perpetuated the disgusting imagery of this criminal’s heinous acts. Xavien blinked away tears and looked at the other two pictures as he did not know whether to vomit or scream from the intense agony and shock.

The second picture was of that man in a royal blue suit, as he painted that maddening poem on the barren wall with a small paint brush. A ten-gallon fish tank filled with blood rested nearby.

The third picture was simply a hand, flipping the bird, displaying a gaudy signet ring which bore the initials “I AM”.

Xavien grabbed for his cell phone, calling the details in to dispatch and informing them that he was on his way. At that moment, he realized that this criminal was not just some ordinary human. His keen memory recalled that rookie outside of Detective Paguirillo’s house. Angry with himself, distraught over the loss of his son and livid at the taunting from this creature, he allowed himself to succumb to the primal beast within himself.

Throughout his life, Xavien had been reluctant to embrace his truest nature. He went to great lengths to avoid others like himself, in favor of doing things the “right” way but, also in fear of his secret being known. This time, however, there would be no more time for pretense or preference. This had all become suddenly and intensely personal and could only be solved by something more than human. Xavien had no other choice but to embrace his spiritual link to the wolf, momentarily filled with self-loathing as he blamed himself completely for the death of his sweet, innocent child.

The full-length mirror captured 2/3rds of Xavien’s body as it distended from a distraught six-foot-three inch human into an angry ten-foot-six inch werewolf. He captured a glance of his long silver mane in his bedroom window as he pulled down the ladder to the attic, climbed it and then out of the attic window onto the top of his roof. He sniffed the air as he appreciated the lupine spirit within him that allowed such acuity. His prey did not have a discernable scent, so this will prove the biggest challenge of his life; one he was would need to make full use of his faculties.

It was nearly 1:00 AM, and the streets were silent in his cozy little development. The cars raced by on the highway, a few miles from his location. Xavien leapt from the top of his house, scrambled to the cover of the trees and used his blinding speed to hurry to the scene of the latest crime. He would curse his impetuousness later. It was time that he became true to himself, for once.

He got to his former home faster than he could have driven, and remained as quiet as he could. He found the hidden key outside and entered the basement door stealthily. Xavien crept through the house soundlessly, alert to anything that he could sense that would be out of place. He smelled death and it angered him further until he finally made it to the master bedroom upstairs and saw his wife, son and partner in their horrid arrangement; just as the photo displayed in his email.

He also noticed a strange blue smoke in the room that lingered in the air near the ceiling. He sniffed it in to determine the origin and then he panicked. There was something wrong with this blue smoke! It dulled his senses and very well could have rendered a human unconscious!

“Finally! See? I knew you had it in you!” A lilting voice came from behind Xavien. Alarmed at the fact that he did not detect the presence of another being in his old house, Xavien swung around. He felt slightly woozy from the bluish smoke and had difficulty focusing. The man in the royal blue suit stood before him and applauded silently, then disappeared right as Xavien passed out.

When he came to, Detective Andrew Masterson had begun to shake him; “Oh goodness… Whew. Are you alright? I mean I know you’re not alright but—do you need a medic?”

Xavien shook his head; “Medically sound… but what the living hell happened to me?”

“You tell me. Come on, you get out of here… I’ll handle things and let you know what I find out. This is… horrible… I am so sorry.”

“Don’t take this the wrong way, Masterson. You’ve been a detective for six months. I’ve got no issues with objectivity. It’s painful, but I am the most capable in the whole damn department, even if I should be compromised in the gravest manner.” Xavien said even-toned, as he brought himself up to a seated position.

“No offense taken, Sergeant. Captain’s downstairs with forensics… If he gives the okay, I’ll be honored to work with you.” Detective Masterson backed down, apologetically.

Xavien emitted a low, bestial growl at the two paramedics that approached him. The growl startled him, as well as both medics. The only one who was unfazed was Detective Masterson. He smirked; “Perhaps I misjudged you, sir. You seem to be doing just fine.”

Xavien hurried downstairs to meet the captain. Bruce took one look at him and raised a concerned eyebrow.

“Captain… this is the most painful night of my life and I’m still the best you have.” Xavien sighed grimly.

Bruce had tears in his eyes that expressed his condolences, even as he spoke; “Against my better judgement… Okay… All yours, all the way. You call the shots, and I will do everything I can to support help you. But you need to tell me if you need some time off…” He kept shaking his head as words left him.

Xavien nodded; “Thank you, Captain.” He spoken that phrase without a thought… but it truly was the most painful night of his life. It just hadn’t fully registered. Hopefully he could live up to everyone’s expectations—including his own. He ascended the stairs once more.

Detective Masterson nodded in acknowledgement of more than just Xavien’s presence. He didn’t exactly like Andrew, but he respected him, and it wasn’t just because he also had prematurely gray hair like Xavien did. There was an additional… something… to Andrew; he felt like an ally. He sized Andrew up and noted that he was about the same height, but about thirty pounds heavier. He exuded natural charm, and his grayish eyes gave an aura of kindness. He knew of Andrew and hear the whispers that he was a ‘boy scout’… but many new detectives got that handle until the gossip turned up the heat. He actively chose not to associate himself with his co-workers and lower-ranked detectives on an individual level, so the rapport had never been established.

Logic would have it that Andrew would end up as his new partner, as they were the most likely pairing. Suddenly, he was less than okay with the coincidence that had been placed before him. He needed more information and he needed it now.

“So… is there anything that stands out to you about this? I know you had just been assigned as Pags partner and had begun to peruse the case notes on this sicko.” Xavien asked as he attempted to mask his suspicion.

“Between you, me and the fencepost? I don’t have proof… but… I think that my father is a suspect. How’s that for starters?” Andrew responded quietly.

Xavien’s eyes could not have opened any wider; “Why haven’t you come forward with this?”

“It’s not something that I can substantiate. I have not spoken to my father in five years. I haven’t been able to locate him, nor has his wife been very helpful. Plus… there’s the lack of any sort of evidence. I’ve not made an official assertion, but I did inform the captain. The APB? That’s the best description I can give, and that’s one that you know. However, I am hoping we can figure… other ways… to track him down.” Detective Masterson finished with an intently focused gaze.

Xavien growled under his breath before continuing; “What is your father’s name and anything that may help me get to know him?”

“Irving A Masterson, he’s a sculptor and visual artist. His work is in museums around the world and he has made millions.” Andrew trailed off before continuing; “It isn’t going to be a name on the tongue of the uninitiated, but if you know art, his name will elicit a strong memory of his art. Largely psycho-sexual and apocalyptic in focus. He never signs or stamps his work, but he figures he never needs to; and that is the truth.”

“So, what you are saying is that you also believe it to be an uphill battle, even if you are able to locate him as well as evidence against him.” Xavien sighed.

“That’s about the long and short of it. And let me tell you something else… he was a wonderful father until he married my step-mother. Then… it really… messed with him. I can’t explain it. Then again, my step mother also came on to me while I was in the academy. I can’t quite blame her… but his relationship with her may have triggered or encouraged something within him.”

Xavien wasn’t prone to headaches, but he certainly had gotten one. His eyesight focused on the room around him, and he began to scan for any trace evidence. He worked in conjunction with Andrew for the next two hours, as they searched every inch of the crime scene for even the smallest speck that may be out of place.

Xavien sighed; “This bedroom was never this clean when I lived here. If this is your father, what is the significance of the cleanliness?”

“He… focuses on the art and did not wish it to be hindered by anything that he did not intentionally provide to the beholder. For example, he hired a maid for the sole purpose of cleaning his artwork and keeping it dust-free.”

“So, there is an art and a message to this. I get it. What can you glean from the poem? I mean, I have an idea… but any insight?”

“He is a bit of an elitist, but in a wholly different way. He is intent on the world acting out its truest instincts and believes that restraint is a rejection of our purest selves. He loves people, don’t get me wrong…but he wants everyone to act as they are ‘supposed’ to be… without societal influence. The last time I talked to him, he claimed that a criminal was just as good as the policeman that arrested him. He often told me to ‘be what I will be, even if it is the wrong thing in the someone else’s opinion’… He was amused that I had joined the academy and said something that has haunted me since…” Detective Masterson paused; “He said… ’Maybe you’ll be able to catch me… some day.”

“Ominous and daunting, I’d imagine. On another tangent… Do you mind if I ask your familiarity with the Kretchmar family?” Xavien asked, with hope that this was just a coincidence.

“Funny you should ask. I… am aware of them and the accusations you have levied upon them for various things. We only moved here about 15 years ago. My father wished to be here because of the new museum and proximity to the burgeoning popularity of this city, not to mention the fact that it is the capital of the North American Union. I suspect we stayed away from them because he didn’t need any of that sort of trouble. It wouldn’t completely surprise me if he’s been in contact with them. I’d love to have some time to talk with them but, you know, they’ve really become one of those families you don’t need to be caught interacting with unless you have official business. Not just the dubious connection to the Fratilli’s either. They’re their own powerhouse.” Andrew finished and shook his head; “I’ve got nothing. You?”

“Nothing here, either. I have somewhere I need to go this morning, so I’m going to be a little late getting into the office. I’m going to just pretend it’s because I need some sleep. We’ll talk more when I get in. I know that the Chief is going to be all over this since we lost two detectives in a week… but the shit hasn’t hit the fan yet.” Xavien sighed gravely. Bereavement leave would be understandable and given in a heartbeat… but he really would not like to be left alone to his own devices any more than he had to.

“I’m not going to pressure you, Sargeant… but if there are any other…tools in your shed… that you feel like sharing with me as well, please feel free to let me know as well.” Detective Masterson hinted and gave a wan smile.

“Dually noted and likewise…” Xavien nodded in acknowledgement, but said nothing further.

He walked downstairs as he realized that he still owned this house and had not actually signed anything over yet. He wasn’t sure he felt great about staying in the home that his wife and child had died in… but perhaps he would be able to encounter the killer or a shred of evidence if he stayed.

“Captain?” Xavien piped up.

“Yea?” Bruce looked up and searched his eyes.

“Since this is my home, I think I’m going to crash here for a few hours and then report in a couple hours late this morning. I have some things I need to take care of… and I need to let Clara’s parents know.” Xavien pursed his lips.

“Take your time. Just keep your phone near in case I have any questions… or in case I get worried” Bruce chuckled joylessly.

“Will do, sir.” Xavien nodded.

“I’m also going to leave some eyeballs out, just so I feel better.” The captain said, as if it was a foregone conclusion.

“Understood. If possible, I would appreciate not having a tail.” Xavien asked hopefully.

“No can do. Your tail will be there as if you’d always had one. Just the way it is.” Bruce stated flatly.

The irony elicited a smirk and a half-sniffed laugh from Xavien; “Understood.”

“I’ll get this operation packed up and out of here. I’ll just pretend you’re still investigating the scene for now. Take your time, just don’t take forever… you know how badly this is going to blow up.”

Xavien nodded at the understatement.

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