Mercy was sitting comfortably in his favourite chair when they burst in the door. He had decided to allow them to arrest him when he saw them running around outside. Prison offered a situation in which he had time to think, without the distractions of the outside world. Mercy couldn't feel guilty about sitting in a room and thinking for hours when he was locked in that room. Sure, the world was still happening outside of the window, people still relied on him and flowers needed trimming but he wouldn't be 'allowed' out to them. A vacation might be just what he needed.
He would still have the ability to leave, of course. He had considered numerous possible escape routes months ago, but had hoped that the extra obstacles would force him to stay put long enough to come up with a better plan. After the last one had backfired so spectacularly, it would need to be quite special.
"You're confessing?" asked Reba. Of course they had sent her. Cowards. He smiled at her. Her red hair was a stark contrast to those dark eyes, which were narrowed in suspicion. The three men with her stood back. Mercy didn't need to look at them to see their hands twitching towards their weapons. It was a reaction most officers had in his presence.
"Anything to spend more time with you, dear," said Mercy, "We rarely get to spend time together. I can't recall the last time I saw you"
"I see plenty of your back as you're running away from a crime scene." Her arms were crossed, and her mouth pinched in the way he had learnt meant she wasn't buying his story. Mercy noticed that more freckles were splattered across her nose and cheeks.
"Have you been away? You look fantastic."
She raised an eyebrow, a little gesture to let him know that he was being inappropriate, but she answered him anyway.
"I was in China, searching for a man named Theodor Mommsen. Know him?"
Mercy got up slowly, raising his arms so none of the men got too twitchy. Then he walked to the cabinet and poured out a glass of water. He had better drinks and had no qualms about drinking alone. It just seemed rude when he knew Reba wouldn't drink on duty. Annoying her was one of his more pleasant pastimes, but he wouldn't deny a drink to his worst enemy. He always had a vague hope that they might pay him the same compliment. He sipped on his water and thought about her question.
Theodor Mommsen was an architect who had been instrumental in building the state-of-the-art prison that Mercy was bound to be sent to. So instrumental, in fact, that they had asked him to cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony. Theodor had politely declined out of stage fright.
"Ah yes. I have I heard the name before. Architect fellow. Meant to be incredibly talented. A few people believe I killed him. Would you care for a glass?"
"I'm fine," said Reba, "Those people might be under that impression because he was last seen heading off to a meeting that was supposed to be with you."
"Are you sure?" he asked, "It's just water."
She stayed quietly glaring at him.
Theodor Mommsen had been an easy man to get along with. Although he had only worked for the City Council for a short time, he had made quite a few friends. His contract had been extended and he had been offered a promotion. Many of the office workers had wanted Theodor to meet up with him after his contract finished. This was a bother-as Theodor Mommsen was also complete fiction.
Mercy had needed a way to find out about the prison and, at the time, the best way about it had been to design the place. Still...he had too much of a success in making Theodor approachable. People had wanted to continue talking to him after the job was done. Mercy had toyed with the idea of keeping him around but, in the end, it had been too much of a hassle. Mercy had more fun engineering the man's death than he had creating him.
He sighed before replying to Reba.
"I was in China with other business. I agreed to meet with the man about building an office building but he never showed," said Mercy before pausing to take a sip of his water, "All of which you are aware of. You read the file. My statement should be in it."
Reba turned and stared at the photographs. After a moment, she reached down and picked up the framed photograph of Joy. If anyone else had done that, Mercy would have ripped their hands off.
"How long ago was it?" she asked, "Eleven years ago? Twelve?"
"A lifetime." Mercy looked directly at her face and not at the photograph when he answered.
She gave him that look. The one he hated and no one else had ever given him. Reba had the nerve to occasionally feel sorry for him. It almost made him hate her- want to make her hate him, but he could never quite work up enough enthusiasm.
"Have you anything else you feel the need to confess to while I'm here?" That might sound like an accusation coming from someone else. However, she had seen him that night.
"Yes," said Mercy. He waved a hand as though trying to remember. He snapped his fingers. "That school thing. That was me."
"'School thing'? Are you referring the incident when one of our artefacts was stolen and used blew up a mortal school?"
Good. She was mad at him now. That was preferable to the look.
"Yup. That's the one. I knew you and Glory had figured it out. You would have caught me on it sooner or later."
She put down the photograph carefully before glaring at him.
"That wasn't sarcasm," he said with a shrug, "It was a compliment. You are an especially talented officer. Besides the guilt was just eating away at my mind."
He picked a grape and popped it into his mouth. He used his tongue to squish it against his palette and savoured the burst of flavour.
It was true that he thought she was an excellent officer. At the moment, however, Mercy was just a little bit more skilled at disposing rid of evidence.
"What are you up to?" asked Reba, crossing her arms.
"Contrary to popular opinion," said Mercy, "I don't always have a plan."
Reba glared at him for another few moments before telling him to hold out his hands. She snapped the cuffs on and led him towards the door with a heavy scowl.
"I expected you to be delighted when I decided to change my ways."
"I would be, if I believed for one second that was happening here."
Mercy waited until he was in her car to glance back at the house. Reba was too busy calling her office to tell them she had him in custody to notice the face in the window, with tears rolling down it's face.
"Hide idiot." Mercy wrapped his mouth around both words carefully and hoped it didn't matter that he made no sound.
His oldest friend nodded and ducked under the window, no doubt holding the explosives he had been showing to Mercy in the few moments before Reba had loudly knocked and announced her search warrant. Mercy risked a glance at her. She hadn't noticed the exchange, and his confession had distracted her. As Mercy had hoped, she had forgotten about the search warrant. She wouldn't stay distracted for long, but hopefully it would be long enough for his man to evacuate with his contraband.
She must have sensed his eye on her because she turned. Mercy smiled at her. She glared at him.