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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6

Blood and Bone - REVIEW THIS STORY

Written by K-Nice
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 1

One hand on the gear shaft, the other on the door handle, Detective Lebeau came to a jarring stop inches from the cruiser in front of his late-model Lexus. He had an ex-girlfriend with Vice connections that was still nostalgic enough over their ill-fated romance to tip him on hot police auctions. He still had the sneaking suspicion that he should have Logan go over it with his K-9's to be certain she hadn't put a brick of coke in the upholstery for the next time he went through a road stop. It was the kind of goodbye present she would enjoy more than him.

"We'll probably need gloves, Rem." The smooth tones of his homicide partner sent him back into the glove compartment for a handful of latex. Ororo Munroe stepped away from the car as she affixed her badge to her light gray coat with a metal pin. Munroe insisted on wearing whites and creams to even the grimiest crime scenes. Lebeau always protested, but looking at her in the flashing red and blue lights, he knew it suited her. She always seemed to walk away as pristine as she came in.

"Allyoop, Ro." Tossing her a pair, Remy tucked his own in his coat pockets. His long fingers were already encased in black leather, but if he had to move any evidence, he would rather switch to latex then ruin his cowhides.

"I thought this was supposed to be low profile. Why all the blue and whites?" Detective Munroe's cinnamon brow wrinkled as she counted 8 patrol cars and twice as many officers. They were the first plainclothes in attendance, but already the place was crawling with cops, which meant the scene was probably trampled beyond usefulness. Sighing, she angled around a witness interview that smelled like a brewery and approached the alley that was drawing so much attention.

"Detectives, finally, we can get some order around here." The man looked genuinely relieved. He seemed to be the senior officer on site and the sweat beading on his dark forehead intimated how distressed he was by that position. Running a hand over his short black hair, he pointed down the alley where the street lights failed to reach. "She's back there. Hope you two didn't have a big dinner."

"Thank you, Officer Bishop. Has the ME's office been notified? Good, send them in ASAP." Ororo's words were more comfort than instruction. The densest of farm-boys could have figured out the same, but it allowed Bishop to take orders instead to give them, obviously something he was more comfortable with.

Remy was already halfway down the alley when Ororo starting picking her way through the filth to their objective. Grabbing her flashlight from the inside pocket of her duster, Detective Munroe kept the beam near her feet. Her partner's uncanny night vision was the stuff of department legend, but she took it in stride, protecting his sensitive black-brown eyes by rote. It also allowed her to focus right in front of her. There might be details that survived the other policemen's boots and this would be their last chance to catch those bits of evidence before the real circus began. Disappointed but not surprised, Ororo lifted the beam from the ground to pan over the scene.

Standing on the other side of the corpse, Detective Lebeau tapped a cigarette against his gloved palm. He wouldn't light it and litter the scene with ashes, not when forensics might still pull some Holmes like miracle out of their aluminum briefcases. "She hasn't been moved?"

"No sir. She's just like were found her. Is she another one?" Bishop's partner was eager and green, both around the gills and in experience.

Eyes gone hard, Lebeau stared at the rookie with enough malice to silence his excited chattering. "Another one of what, Officer ... Japheth?"

"The ... uh ... serial killer. Is she one of his?"

Remy and Ororo exchanged a look. The serial murder of prostitutes was not a new phenomenon for New York City but this case took the cake. There were orders from Commissioner Fury himself to keep the whole thing under wraps until the perp had been nailed. The Carpenter, so called for his penchant for Christ-like arrangement of his victims, was a need-to-know case and according to their immediate superior, even other police departments weren't to be included in the loop. On one hand, they cursed the fact that their secret might be out; on the other, they would never have seen the body so soon if Jepheth hadn't put in a direct call to homicide.

Unable to come to a conclusion, the pair ignored the street cop and moved to examine the body. Letting his eyes adjust as his partner scanned the body, Remy finally glanced down as the beam illuminated the shoes that sat a few inches from the bare feet of the victim. They were stilettos, the heels worn to the metal from too much walking. The toes were painted a garish orange, unattractive in any light and more-so against such pale skin. The feet had been covered by hose, but the nylon was so shredded with runs that they served no real purpose. Oddly, the calves were muscular, the light catching ripples that continued up to the thighs, which were a creamy-white where they weren't stained burgundy with congealing blood.

Remy made his eyes jump over her brutalized pubic area and focus on the skirt bunched around her waist. The 'leather,' so cheap it probably squeaked, was slashed in a pattern that continued on the flesh of her torso. Her blouse, a green suede vest, was ribboned against her stiffening skin. Lebeau snorted at the small cross nestled between her bared breast. It had not served to protect her, in life nor death.

Looking away as the light glanced over her bludgeoned face, Remy switched his gloves and reached for the Carpenter's signature. A wooden spike driven through each palm. Silently, he examined the mutilation, daring himself to find the inscribed numbers before his partner. Ororo preferred to bend over rather than crouch, so Remy had the advantage and found the scripture first. "Sixty-six thousand one hundred seventy-five. Joshua is too short so it must be Revelation 17:5."

"And here I thought I had reformed you from Catholicism." Ororo smiled ruefully. Remy claimed to have eschewed religion, but she for one was grateful for whatever nun had tormented him through his Catechism. It was surely coming in handy on this case.

"One trip to a healer for a wicked flu does not a convert make, 'Ro. Besides, it's not like I know what it means. I'm just lucky to have remembered there were 66 canonical books. Don't look at me that way!" Something was tickling his brain, but Detective Lebeau was distracted from attending to it when a flashlight beam caught him square in the face. "Who the heck are you and who let you down here?"

"Peter Parker, Daily Bugle." The man was eager, waving his press pass like it was the golden ticket. "Maybe I could ask you two intelligent looking officers a few questions about the epidemic of dead hookers that seems to be plaguing New York? I mean, 20 dead in 3 months, that's seems like a lot don't you think?" Darting his hand to his camera, he tried to keep them distracted long enough for a few choice shots.

Nonplused, Munroe placed herself firmly between the reporter and corpse. "You won't find your Pulitzer here. Twenty dead in 3 months can not even be considered a rash much less an epidemic. These poor girls are dropping like flies. Drugs, AIDS, violence -- choose one or all and you have your story."

Lebeau was at her side, and between the two of them, the shorter man didn't have a view of anything worth his film. "Take your notebook and your camera and go home." Ororo turned her back and listened for his retreating footsteps. They were both engrossed in the corpse when Parker found his perch, crawling out an apartment window and onto the fire escape. He couldn't do much, not without his flashbulb alerting his unknowing hosts below.

Another set of footsteps echoed down the alley. The sense of deja vu set Remy to rolling his eyes. "And you are?"

A lightening quick badge flash and "A.M.E. Reyes" with attitude to spare still didn't satisfy him. Ororo rose to her feet and held out a hand to neutralize the situation but her partner wasn't going to let it go. He picked the oddest times to get hostile.

"African Methodist Episcopalian? " He quirked an odd smile at her.

"Assistant Medical Examiner, smartie." She was already snapping on her gloves.

"Assistant Medical Examiner, huh? And here I thought we were getting the real McCoy. " Remy stood just so he could tower over the Latina. Their combined height had worked on Parker, so he gave it another shot.

"McCoy's hip deep in jumpers. Seems there was this gang of them up on Hunt's Point playing lemming. Anyway, you got me and I'm better than you think so why don't you go hunt down a lead or two and I'll pamper our new friend." Already the camera was flashing with an ease and confidence that bespoke competence. No one noticed that some of the flashes came from above.

Both detectives were walking away before they had consciously decided to leave, a testimony to Reyes' brisk manner. A few long strides out to the street lights and the tickling in LeBeau's skull settled back for a long night.

A tap on a nearby desk roused both detectives from their computers. "So?" Crossing his arms and leaning on nothing, Lieutenant Summers tried to stare his too most enigmatic charges into submission. Since Munroe wasn't intimidated by anything and Lebeau thrived on challenging authority figures, he had to settle for a slight chair shift and an upward glance.

"It's him again. Apparently he's through with Mary Magdelene." Indicating the open King James teetering atop a stack of open files, Remy went back to entering the victims vitals from the ME's report into the database query.

"Have you sent this to the profiler?" Both officers fought to keep their eye averted. Summers made it clear that there was no nepotism in his department. His wife just happened to be the best criminal profiler on the East Coast, no questions asked. He had a knack for keeping the business face securely in place when necessary and this case demanded nothing less then professionalism, something he expected his detectives to understand.

"Not yet. We thought it could wait until morning." Ororo was deeply into a fingerprint search that was consistently giving her error messages. Distracted, she didn't even feel Remy kick her feet under the joined part of their desks.

"I think its clear that this is a sign of an escalation. The profiler assured us that when he ran out of Magdelene verses, he would quit." There was a hint of embarrassment and annoyance in his tone. Jean Grey-Summers rarely made mistakes. Why did it have to be with this case? He could already see the mess the Bugle and the Post would make when they found out he used his own wife as the case profiler and she was wrong.

"Maybe he's gotten a taste for killing." Lebeau tucked a cigarette between his lips and rocked back in his chair. The computer was plowing through the Violent Crime Analysis Program database, comparing the new corpse to older ones.

"Maybe it's the Millennium. It's really bringing out the nuts." Raven Darkholme sauntered in, as if the department head of Sex Crimes made regular visits to Homicide. Which she did.

"Hey Rave, you still owe me dinner and movie." Remy grinned, not noticing Ororo's suddenly straight spine.

"Remind me never to bet on the Islanders in the office pool. Hey Summers, how come I don't know there's a perp targeting hookers until a rookie cop calls my department by accident?" Raven placed one hand on her hip, consciously exposing her service revolver from it's hiding spot beneath her dark suit jacket. Jovial one minute, accusing the next, Darkholme was known to change moods like a chameleon changed colors.

"Sorry Rave, that's not my choice. I had orders from the nosebleed section. And I don't mean the cheap seats." Summers arms drifted to his hips, ready for the face-off.

"What's the matter? Did little brother Alex from the mayor's office get all over you about security leaks again? " Raven pretended to pout sympathetically. Remy and Ororo buried their heads in their screen savers, trying to remain as unobtrusive as possible. Battles between Darkholme and Summers got fierce fast.

Summers wasn't going to let her run roughshod over his emotions this time. He was in the right and that was all he needed. "No, Fury laid down the law. No one knows anymore than you do, except me, the detectives here and a few other key players." Including the woman putting his children to bed at that very moment.

"I'm not key? The guys icing hookers, and hookers are my bread and butter but I'm not key! I know, I know, "Fury's orders." Fine, I'll talk to the top dog if I have to, but I'm not gonna watch people die over a little bureaucracy." Even a hard-case like Darkholme couldn't work with street-walkers for long before their sad stories got under her skin. The "my" was unspoken but Darkholme was as proprietary as a pimp. A swift turn on her heels and Raven was gone, leaving tense silence in her wake.

"She's right you know. We're cutting of our right arm by not having some Vicers on board." Still typing, Ororo spoke carefully to ease the violence that seemed to simmer in the air. "They might know some possible perps--"

"We've been over that. This guys no john. Look at this: "the mother of all harlots." This freak is on some kind of religious crusade. You've seen the bodies, the mutilations. He doesn 't have sex with the victims, he sodomizes and slashes them." Remy and Ororo flinched in tandem. One girl had been pregnant, her budding uterus found shredded and slippery beside her body. "We've got a pack of dead prostitutes and all indications point to more. You two better get your butts in gear before this whole thing blows up in our faces." He mimicked Darkholme's exit in the opposite direction, his office door ringing with the impact.

"On that note, I'll be calling it a night. This stupid machine is starting to irritate me." Munroe logged out without reading the last error message.

[Subject is not in Criminal Records. Please enter Officer Records pass code.]

Once again, they had a very convincing discussion via cell phone as to why they shouldn't be sleeping together, which lead to the ingenious solution of not sleeping at all. Remy lay awake in her bed while Ororo nursed a cup of herbal tea at her kitchen table. They had never been more than friends before, but this case and silence that surrounded it had left them nowhere to go but each other's arms.

Remy turned to rub his hand over her vacant pillow, pulling away a single strand of white hair. He was fascinated by it, a curiosity that had prompted their first encounter. She kept it at shoulder length, but it was still startling to see someone which such rich skin have such light hair. Staring at the strand, the tickling became an itch, then a burn.

White and red.

White and red on a single head.

He had played with strains of white hair before. His ex-girlfriend from Sex Crimes, Rebecca McKenna, nicknamed Rogue for the numerous times she broke orders for the sake of her innate sense of justice. They had the same drive for their work, the same dedication to duty, but their interests were too different for it to last very long. He could remember the long nights with her head on his chest, stroking the fine white hairs that sprouted front and center, like a skunk-stripe in her auburn hair. He had convinced her to grow her hair out long from the pageboy she preferred for the sheer pleasure of touching it. She claimed her hair had turned white the day her first boyfriend took her out into the Mississippi woods to teach her a "new game."

He chuckled softly. That was the best part of their time together, comparing stories of their southern upbringing, lamenting whatever lapse in logic had brought them north to the Yankee capital of the world. They went to the Bronx to root for the Braves, hunted down every collard greens and fried chicken joint in the five boroughs. He supposed they had confused that connection, that sense of comfort, with love. Toward the end, they had stopped talking about anything except the South. And that was before the Carpenter had begun to dominant his case load

While Rebecca had the strength to handle dealing with child molesters and rapist day in and day out, Remy firmly believed they should all be taken down to Central and have the backs of their heads aerated by .38 rounds. She had stopped telling him about her day at work when he vomited in her kitchen sink after a particularly sick child abuse tale. He couldn't stomach the idea of anyone, especially not a child, suffering that way. On the other hand, while he found corpses intriguing and the stories they told exhilarating, she was traumatized by the sight of a dead cat in the alley beneath his loft. He had taken to changing his clothes before he picked her up because she claimed he smelled like death.

Their passion for their work finally eclipsed their passion for each other and they had ended without an overabundance of tears or throw objects. Rebecca had cut her hair again the very next week, but his sources claimed that had to do with a case and nothing more. They had called it quits over Thanksgiving but Remy still sent her a Christmas present. He couldn't take lingerie back to the store and he had no one else at the time to give it to. She accepted the gift and then called her tip on the auction a belated thank you note. His sources (a.k.a. Raven after a night at the pub) said she was hot and heavy with an German metallurgist at ESU.

His musings did little to calm the slow burn at the edge of his brain, but Ororo's return did wake him out of his reverie. She wore a short white robe that left her long legs exposed. She still held the cup of tea but she did not seem very interested in it. "Do you remember the spikes?"

He remembered every single pair. "Yeah, what about 'em?"

Tentatively, as she were still discovering something, Ororo continued, "They weren't like the others. The numbers were rough, hurried. Usually he takes great pride in the craftsmanship, these last ones were of a cheaper wood quality and it looked like he cut them down with a duller knife." She stood there, shimmering, swaying as the thought spun through her mind and out her mouth. Remy loved watching her work. "There were wooden crates in the alley, trash, but a few of them were torn apart. Figured one of our guys tampered with them for some reason, but now ..." She gained momentum, nearly buzzing as things clicked into place. She paused. "I don't think he planned this one at all."

"What?! According to our profile, he's control obsessed. These are not crimes of passion, he's not a raving lunatic in the traditional sense. He likes the planning stage as much as the killing. It wouldn't make sense." He played devil's advocate even as his mind tried to catch up with hers.

"He didn't even have spikes made. He must have made them after the fact." The thought was as grisly as their perp whittling away at death momentos in his spare time. Still, electric fire burned in Ororo's crystal-blue eyes and Remy knew she'd probably made the right leap. "I think maybe the profiler was right."

"What, this was an accident? He didn't mean to kill this one?" Raw skepticism dragged Remy into a sitting position, his muscular shoulders rolling with gymnastic precision.

Hunger flamed Detective Munroe's body but she was already on the case, already in her mental zone, the one that let her deal with madness and death and stay sane and alive. "Not an accident, but impulsive. He didn't stalk her, didn't choose her, I think she was thrust upon him." She placed the cup on her dressing table and went to her closet, running her hands over the day's choices.

Remy glanced at the clock and slid out of bed. In his opinion, 4:45 am wasn't that late, but it was certainly early. Grabbing boxers from the floor, he slipped on his pants and coat and let himself out.

"I think we should contact Dr. Summers about motive. Maybe you could go by there before she leaves for the... "Turning finally with her suit and blouse in hand, Ororo was embarrassed to find she had been talking to herself. Laying her suit on the unmade bed, she went into the kitchen and set up the iron for her silk blouse. She noticed Remy's white shirt in the living room and relaxed. A noise at the front door brought her hand to the gun holster she didn't have on yet.

"Heh, 'Ro. Sorry about that, just ran down to my car." Remy lifted the duffel bag he held in one hand and use it to indicate the suit bag in the other.

"You keep a full change of clothes in your car." Part question, part statement, her disconcertion was betrayed by the suspicious cant of her eyes. She didn't appreciate him making such assumptions about their relationship, such as it was.

"M'Daddy always told me to be prepared for anything." Remy grinned cheekily until Ororo had to smile in return.

"Well, leave me some hot water." Ororo followed him into the bedroom, straighten up as she went. She made the bed as she listened to him sing off-key in the shower. When he finally came out, freshly shaved and smelling of her coconut shampoo, Ororo adjusted the leaves of her spider plant and returned to the kitchen. She was running a warm iron over her blouse when he came out tying his tie.

"Any reason why you rushing me, chere?" He only spoke his Cajun French when irritated and Remy knew he had no reason to be irritated. He had given women even shorter toss-outs on occasion, but that was back in Academy days when he had room inspection at 6 am sharp.

"Forge is stopping by for coffee." Ororo didn't look up to watch his troubled pause. She had missed a week of work when Forge had broken up with her. She considered it her own fault in a way. She'd chosen to mentor a rookie, Katherine Pryde, shortly after she had agreed to marry Forge. Unfortunately, she brought her intensity to her mentoring just like any other task. Kitty came to the movies with them, or out to dinner, then Kitty stopped by in the morning to have breakfast, until one morning Ororo dropped in and it was Kitty at Forge's sink washing up the dinner dishes. She should have known better then to bring two tech-heads into such close proximity.

"Vraiment. May I ask why?" With his arms crossed at his chest and his feet spread apart, he looked severely put-upon.

"He might be able to tell me what's wrong with the computer." At his blank look she continued, "The fingerprint analysis keeps giving an error message."

"Oh, den I hope he can tell you what you want to hear. I'm 'a try and catch Cassidy in forensics afore she calls it a night." Grabbing his suit bag and duffel, Remy turned heel and slipped out the door before Ororo could say goodbye.


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