Embers by Ladyhawke

Embers
by Ladyhawke
Sequel to Essence

I stood on mountaintops
That overlooked the world
I can’t find anything
Except a void inside
I went to places where
I could forget your name
I can’t find anything
Except a void inside
I don’t have anything
Because I don’t have you….

Vast

. . . .

December 2008

The room was small and like most of its kind throughout the working world it held no age, no life, no windows, fluorescent neon the only lights source. Which made the grey walls even drearier if that were possible. The room didn’t need to emanate peace or tranquility, it wasn’t used for pleasantries, this wasn’t someone’s working personal space, that wasn’t its purpose in life. This was a place of judgment and reviews.

A large oak desk took up most of the room itself. Two men and one woman sat talking in hushed tones amongst themselves, all very much dressed the same, formal suits which didn’t really give away who they were or what they were, each could have been mistaken for any normal business man or woman, but they weren’t. They were independent judges assigned to Case. 847220X/CB1. For this was an Internal Board of inquiry, the final stage of Internal Affairs, the watchdog for the police department. The few spectators who sat in the room were witnesses, no members of the public were allowed.

In front of the large desk, was another smaller desk, facing the three Judges. One lone woman sat, dark hair braided back, blue eyes dull, yet alert. Her face was strained, and much too thin, her left arm was held in a green sling, which strapped her arm across her chest. She was dressed in full police navies blue. Her cap sat on the desk in front of her, fingers idly played with its edging. The fingers stilled, she drew back her hand, sitting straighter.

The three judges finished talking, turning their attention to the front. The main judge, who sat in the middle, shuffled his files into a pile, his Grey eyes, going around the room. The second man to the left of him, lent near, whispering words that could not be heard by anyone else. The older man nodded, then he turned his attention to the dark haired woman sitting. “Detective Shannon Rhimes, would you please stand.”

She rose, shifting slightly, her jaw tensing, her blues eyes locking onto him, eyes that gave nothing away, she waited.

He cleared his throat, speaking directly to her. “Internal affairs have presented us with all information concerning your conduct and total disregard for protocol, during the ‘Tooth Fairy Case.’ of July of this year. We all….” His head nodded to his left and right, indicating his colleagues. “…. Have heard and read the statements, including interviews, proved by Detective Jane Emerson, Marcus Wiley, as well as Captain Grieves and written evidence from Miss Jennifer Newton. “

Blue eyes dipped slightly, before coming back up.

He continued. “We have also heard from the two head FBI agents on the case; Special agent Ryter and Special Agent Thomas….” His eyes went to his notes, before shifting forward to lean his elbows on the desk. His eyes bore into to the woman in front of him. “What cannot escape my colleagues and myself is how someone with your credentials and excellent law-enforcement record for the last 14 years, could so blatantly disregard protocols and rules.”

Shannon ‘s jaw muscle twitched.

His tone changed. “We can understand the need to keep Miss Jennifer Newton safe, and we can also understand certain decisions you made whilst under the direct orders of Captain Grieves. We can neither forget that as a result of your actions, they did indeed lead to the ‘Tooth Fairy’ killer being identified as Dr Steward. We have also taken into consideration you were seriously wounded in the attempt to arrest him, and you acted bravely and without thought to your own safety, when Detective Emerson, Marcus Wiley and Miss Newton were being held hostage by Dr Steward.” His eyes steeled. “Which has prompted us to ask, if full protocols were followed, would such a dangerous situation have arisen? Which led to the tragic loss of life of four Lexus Security Guards.”

Shannon swallowed hard.

“However, because of the…” He paused looking for the right words. “….The unorthodox methods of Miss Newton leading to the identification of Dr Steward and the situation needed to do so…. We find it hard to answer our own question on this. What we have answered is based on the facts available.” His eyes steeled. “…. Because there was no time to report and request back up to apprehend Dr Steward, once you had identified him. The resulting events were unavoidable. We feel in this instance you acted within full protocol in trying to apprehend him. As well as believing the course you took to be the right one. With this in mind we find that you were no way to blame for the tragic end result.”

A murmur went around the room, he waited until it settled.

“However, we cannot disregard the fact you removed Miss Newton from her place of residence after being given a direct order from the FBI, for her to remain there. Nor can we ignore the action of giving a civilian Marcus Wiley a weapon, which resulted in the later shooting of Dr Steward. Or the fact, certain decisions you made led to this whole situation being put in an area it never should have been in. We also would like to point out for the record, impersonating an FBI. Agent is a federal offense and will be dealt with outside of this internal investigation….” He paused… “This panel has gone over this case very hard, while we can understand the reasoning of many of your choices, we cannot condone them.” He lent forward. “Rules are there for a reason Detective, as are protocols.”

Shannon swallowed hard.

He straightened, as did the two others either side of him. “We are all agreed on the actions needed to be taken. We have taken into consideration your excellent record and a killer was stopped. We have also taken into consideration all statements presented on your behalf. Therefore we feel no criminal action need be taken.”

A low exhale escaped Shannon ‘s lips, which matched the sound in the room from the watchers.

His eyes came up to her again. “The decision of this internal investigation is that you be demoted from Detective third class to Detective first class starting immediately. A six month suspension of heading or working any cases is also enforced. Maybe time behind a desk will make you realize the trust you abused…. Before this takes effect we feel a month’s suspension without pay is needed to show the severity of your choices. You will be reviewed every six months for the next two years….” His eyes locked with hers. “I’d think very seriously about your career Detective Rhimes. If there are any other instances of misconduct or breaking of rules, we will not hesitate to take your badge…. Case Closed.” He picked up the files in front of him, rising with the others, they filed off to the door to the left.

Shannon looked down, her eyes closing. She knew she’d just gotten off lucky, she’d half expected to be sitting in a jail cell right now.

“Boss?”

Shannon took a long inhale, turning, seeing the concern in her friend’s eyes. “You can’t exactly call me that any more, Jane. You’re a higher rank.”

Jane frowned, not finding any humor in Shannon ‘s words. “Well that’s bullshit. You’re always the boss. They shouldn’t have done this, you did the right thing. We stopped the son of bitch.”

Shannon smiled, sitting back down, wincing slightly as the stitches on her chest pulled. “I’m lucky I’ve still got a badge. I broke rules. People died.”

“You nearly died, they seemed to forget that.” Jane gritted her teeth, but her anger vanished replaced by concern, she quickly moved around to Shannon ‘s side, not liking the pale color spreading across her friend’s face. “You should be at home.”

“Don’t think they would have accepted a sick day.” She took a breath feeling her lung burn. She felt lost, she felt alone, she hurt on so many different levels. Levels she couldn’t go near, without pulling up questions and a much deeper pain that had little to do with hole in her chest.

Jane’s voice softened. “I thought at least she would have been here for this?” She shut up as blazing blue eyes shot up to her.

Jane bit back her anger, she just didn’t get Jenny Newton at all. After what she seen pass between her friend and the physic through the weeks of the case and the bond they’d formed, she found it harder and harder to understand any of Jenny’s actions after the shooting. She’d watched as Jenny had fallen apart in front of her eyes cradling the injured Detective to her. Watched, as Jenny had passed out when Shannon went into cardiac arrest. Watched, as Jenny argued and fought to go with Shannon in the Medical evac helicopter. Then watched after five days of agonizing waiting, Jenny was told Shannon was finally out of danger. Then to Jane’s amazement Jenny had simply turned and silently left the hospital and disappeared. She’d tried to find her, only to discover her house boarded up. Jane had even gone to Marcus, an ex lover and friend of Jenny’s who had helped on the Tooth Fairy case, only to be told Jenny had left for Europe and all communication was to be done through a lawyer and that he was as worried as everyone.

That had been two months ago

Another week after discovering Jenny had fled, Shannon had regained consciousness, her first words were of Jenny, Jane had no choice but to tell her the truth. Then she’d watched as her friend took it all in. She’d seen the confusion, the disbelief and hope Jenny would return. Finally after two weeks of no communication or visit the pain of realization had hit, shattering the hope. It was one of the worst sights Jane had ever seen in her life, even thinking about it made her stomach lurch.

That was two months ago, and since that day the subject of Jenny was never brought up again, it was totally off limits. Oh, she’d tried to talk to Shannon about it and all she’d gotten was anger from her friend, which she didn’t really blame her over, she had some anger issues of her own. So she’d sat in silence watching as Shannon went through her recovery and withdraw further and further into herself. Knowing the final wound was this internal affairs trail today and Jenny’s screaming absence.

Jane exhaled. “She should have been here. She owed you that much…. Sending a god damn statement.”

Shannon stiffened. “Drop it. She owes me nothing. She wasn’t required to be here.”

Jane shook her head, now concentrating on the woman in front of her, seeing the strain of what today had done. “Come on, let’s get you outside, your mom and dad are probably going nuts out there.”

Shannon nodded, allowing herself to be helped up and guided from the room.

I’ve been stripped of everything
Except some flesh that bleeds
And I’ve been robbed of everything
Except a soul, except a soul
That needs…you, sweet you
I don’t have anything
Because I don’t have you.
Vast.

…..

Six months later.
Shannon bit into the ham on rye sandwich, muffling a curse as she tried to balance the large stack of files in her arms and the action of digging in her back jean pocket for her house keys. Finally she bit down on the sandwich, holding it in her month, shoving the files tight against her body. Her head came up as the phone rang inside her apartment, letting out a growl she pulled the keys free, quickly shoving the right one into the lock, kicking the door open, just managing to juggle the files from falling as she kicked the door shut behind her. She rushed to the phone, tossing the files onto the already untidy couch. She quickly pulled the sandwich from her mouth, lifting the receiver.

“This had better be good?”

“Is that anyway to answer the phone Shannon Rebecca!”

Shannon stilled, clearing her mouth of bread. “Um… Hi mom.”

“That’s better. So, where were you today?”

Shannon frowned. “Where was I?”

Her mother sighed. “You forgot didn’t you?”

Shannon sat down on the couch, shifting the files out from under her butt. She raked her mind but nothing was there, she slouched back. ”Yes, I forgot.”

An exasperated sigh followed from the phone.

Shannon licked her teeth clean, placing the sandwich down. “What exactly did I forget?”

“You were supposed to take me into Newport to get your brother’s wedding present.”

Shannon cringed. “Shit…. Mom I’m sorry I was working the Plaza today, it totally slipped my mind…. Can I take you on Saturday?”

Another sigh. “I suppose. Look Shannon if you can’t do this just tell me, this is the third time you’ve forgotten. I’ll get your father to take me.”

“No. no, it’s okay. I want to do this. I’ll buy you lunch we can make a day of it.” he pulled out her PDA, setting a memo alarm for Saturday. “How about I pick you up at ten. Okay?”

“Well…. I’d love to spend the day with you. We haven’t seen much of you lately.”

Shannon sighed, knowing where this was going to lead. “I’m sorry about that too. But I’ve been pretty snowed under at the precinct.”

Her mother’s voice hardened. “Doing paperwork? Are they still giving you all the crap jobs? You don’t have to stand for it.”

Shannon’s eyes dipped to the expanse of files around her. “Not as much…. Besides it’s to be expected.” She moved to lift the sandwich then realized she’d lost her appetite, she dumped it in the already full bin beside the phone.

“I don’t care if it’s expected. That Grieves man should know better. He was the one that started this whole thing and got off Scot free.”

Shannon closed her eyes, not wanting to start this argument again. ”Look, I’ve got to go…. I’ll see you Saturday.”

“Running away never solved anything Shannon.”

Another subject she didn’t want to argue about. “Mom please.”

Her mother let out a sigh. “Okay, Saturday. But I mean it daughter, if you let me down on this one, I’m taking your father and making his life a misery in every shop.”

Shannon smiled, knowing what that meant, her mother would make her father’s life a misery, therefore her father would make hers. “I’ll be there. “

“Right. I love you and stop working yourself so hard, go out and have some fun for once.”

Fun? What was that? She forced a grin. “I love you too. Bye.”

She put down the phone, sitting back. “Well shit.” Her eyes fell to the files laid out around her. She groaned. It was going to be a long night.

….

It is said, when Rome burned Nero watched while playing his lyre, singing a lament he had written for such destruction. Whether he caused the burning or ordered it to make way for his new Rome, one will never truly know, scholars will forever continue to argue the point. But the spectacle of a city afire has many ancient writings, telling of the horror and death, few who lived through the event saw any beauty in it.

The man who watched from the ridge, thought the warehouse in flames below him, was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen. His face reflected the glory of his work. His eyes danced as towering flames of red and orange, reached outward towards the night sky, momentarily blinding out the stars. Sparks crackled, spat, hissed, escaping like fireflies upwards into frenzy. A cloud of smoke rose, dividing into snaking columns, kiss curling their way to join the night flames, mixing together and twisting into candy cane shapes.

He didn’t flinch as an explosion rocked the earth around. Another explosion followed, lighting the shadowed surroundings into a flash of brilliant red angry light. He could feel the heat of it now; feel the prickling of sweat on his skin. Smell it, the wood, the iron, and the fire itself. It had life; he’d given it life. It truly was a glorious thing. Soon he would have what he wanted, this was his beacon, this was his call.

His head turned, seeing the flashing red neon in the dark distance, signaling the arrival of the men who would battle and finally extinguish his magnificent child. His jaw clenched, with one last look back to his work, he turned, disappearing into the darkness.

….

Shannon erupted from sleep with a cry, eyes wide with panic, sweat heavy on her body. Slowly waking reality penetrated, her eyes closed as she flopped back. “Shit.”

Her hand self-consciously went to her heaving chest, fingers chasing over the raised scar below the thin fabric of her damp top, feeling the mirroring scar on her back pulse wildly. Her eyes shifted left to the red digital display of… 3:01. She could feel her heart beat start to return to normal and with it the pulsing in each scar tampered away. Calming her breathing, she lay staring at the ceiling, trying to push aside the fragments of the nightmare. Just once she’d like a full night’s sleep, the dream was the same, always the same, not her death, but…. She stilled, gritting her teeth, stopping the name and memories that were going to start.

Knowing sleep wasn’t going to come again, she pulled the sheet back, rising, stretching out her back with a pop, rubbing her shoulder blade as she moved to the open kitchen, clicking on the coffee maker. She stopped by the sink, rotating her shoulder again until the tension in the muscle eased enough so the ache became a dull one. Two months of physio and still it ached when she slept, at least though she was back on track at target practice, that had been the most frustrating thing, not being able to just hold her damn gun steady. She knew she shouldn’t complain, she was alive and the damage could have so much worse, leaving her with a desk job for the rest of her career. She snorted, that’s what she was doing now anyway. Shaking her head to clear her mind she picked up a dirty mug from the pile of dishes running it clean under the tap.

She looked out of her kitchen window, nothing moved in the street below, which didn’t surprise her given the time. It was at least another hour before dawn. It was always peaceful at this time, it was one of the reasons she’d chosen the area, that and the fact the rent was cheap, considering most of the Keys was aimed at tourism, she’d been lucky to find an area which was for long term rental. It wasn’t perfect, the AC sucked in the summer and the windows let in the wind in the winter, but it was home, a haven, a haven that for the first three months of being signed off duty drove her absolutely nuts.

The click of the coffee maker made her realize she’d been standing staring into nothing for ten minutes. Filling her mug, she added the sugar and cream, before heading towards the couch, clicking on the side lamp as she sat. The pile of files from the night before sat tidy before her. She cupped the mug, wondering why she always felt chilled after a nightmare, considering it was the middle of summer, the heat of the day still hung in her apartment, making it near impossible to sleep without the A/C on. But still she was cold.

She sipped the coffee, welcoming the heat to her stomach. The ring of the door intercom made her start, sending said heat splashing over the edge of the mug and across exposed legs. She swore, wiping her legs of liquid as she rose, wondering who the hell it was at this hour. She pressed the talk button. “Hello?”

“Hey boss…. Wanna buzz me up?”

“Jane? It’s three in the damn morning.” She wiped again at the now sticky feeling of coffee on her skin. “What the hell is so important it couldn’t wait until tomorrow?”

“We got a case.”

Shannon could tell Jane was grinning. “You’re kidding me?”

“Come on boss, let me up and I’ll tell all.”

Shannon buzzed open the downstairs door, taking a mouthful of coffee, she moved across the living area, stopping for a moment to think. Then she glanced down at herself, placing the coffee down, she headed into the bathroom.

By the time Shannon opened the door, she was dressed in jeans and a t shirt. She raised an eyebrow in question as Jane moved passed her. “A case? I’m on suspension, remember?”

Jane nose creased as she looked around the apartment. “You ever thought of getting someone in to clean?”

Shannon ignored her, moving to lean against the work surface. “Case?”

Jane shook her head, moving her attention away from the mess. “Yea case, and for your information, the suspension order was up last night at midnight. Sooooooooo, here I am.” She opened her arms wide, grinning.

Shannon scoffed. “How time flies. Grieves okayed this?”

“You betcha. He’s been clock watching for days.”

Shannon stood silently. Her eyes noticed the file in Jane’s hands. “That it?”

“Yep.” Jane held it over. Wondering what was going on behind those blue eyes that didn’t seem to have any life any more. She’d hoped Shannon being back on a case would change that.

Shannon took it, flipping it open. She quickly read, her eyes came up surprised. “Arson?”

Jane nodded.

Her eyes returned to the file. “There hasn’t been any fires reported on the news?”

“No…. We’ve managed to keep the press out of it, well…” Jane paused.

Shannon looked up. “Well?”

Jane exhaled. “Until tonight. That’s why I’m here. There’s been another one. It was called in at two fifteen this morning, anonymously. Difference is, he called the press as well.”

Shannon nodded, her attention on reading the information in front of her. “I guess I must have missed this, I’ve been in the file morgue for the last month, I don’t tend to go upstairs much.”

Jane stayed silent, already knowing this.

Shannon pulled up the forensic. “The same arsonist? For the last three fires? What about the caller? The same?”

“Forensic guys seem to think it is. Although they got jack shit on DNA, or anything else…. As for the callers, it’s male and so far we haven’t been able to trace anything except it’s on disposable cell phone, no account registered, never used before or since. Each fire, new cell phone…. Forensic broke down the call, Male voice 20 to 30. Background sounds, the fire nothing much else out of the ordinary. He has an American accent, they think he’s spent time in the mid west, but mostly it’s very much normal no other afflictions. He’s short, precise on the phone and hasn’t asked for anything or claimed the fire in response for any groups. Up until tonight he just phoned in the fire itself. The call to the news station is his first break in pattern.”

Shannon looked over the crime photographs, while she listened. “All warehouses?”

Jane nodded. “He seems to have an issue with them. But the warehouse areas are pretty remote, so he could just be picking them because of lack of security. It’s these new types of storage, all electronically locked, no security post or guard near them. They mainly connect to alarm systems which notify the security business in charge. All three warehouses and now this forth, they all have different security suppliers.”

Shannon nodded, now she was getting an idea of the case. “So, I’m partnered with you?”

Jane grinned. “Yep.”

Shannon turned, lifting her mug back off the counter, sipping, smiling. “You requested me didn’t you?”

Jane shook her head slowly, the grin still present. “Nope. Grieves wants you on it and I didn’t have any argument to be partnered with you again.”

Shannon laughed. “Maybe you should rethink, considering what happened last time.” She walked away, pouring the remains of the coffee down the sink.

Jane exhaled. “When are you going to stop beating yourself up over that? “

Shannon shrugged, moving past her to open a drawer and take out her gun, clipping the holster to her hip, she pocketed her badge into her jean pocket. “Probably never.” She pulled her jacket off the back of the chair, slipping it on, stopping in front of Jane. “…. but I’m glad to be working cases again and with you.”

There it was, Jane saw it, the spark returning to Shannon’s eyes. “Then let’s get it done boss. “ She pulled open the front door, waiting.

Grinning, Shannon squared her shoulders and for once felt the bounce in her step as she moved out first.

….

Fire may hold some sense of beauty, but the aftermath of it did not. Shannon slammed the door shut on the Explorer, her eyes taking in the devastation around. The warehouse walls still stood, no longer the white of untouched stone, now they wore the scars of black burns and smoke. The metal roof was twisted by heat and hung broken at a right angle. Even the close area around had scorched trees and ground. In essence it looked like a war zone. Shannon coughed, holding her hand to her nose till she got used to the acrid taint of air. It stank of burnt wood and wet ashen earth and the chemical foam used to suppress the fire. She waited for Jane to fall into step, seeing by the look on her partners face she wasn’t liking the smell any more than she was. They headed to the police taped area, dipping to go under it. Shannon wiped her hands on her jeans, looking around. She turned as a voice sounded.

“It’s not safe enough to go in there yet. Detective.”

Shannon smiled, recognizing who it was now. “Jack…. How you been?” she held out her hand. Noticing he hadn’t changed much in the ten years she’d known him.

He grinned, smoothing his hand back through his sandy hair, which was already heavy with ash, taking her offered hand. “Well, I’ve been better?” his eyes slipped to Jane. “I’m Jack Ramsy…. head of investigation into fires.”

Jane took the offered hand into a brief shake. “We’ve spoken on the phone. I’m Detective Emerson.”

“Oh yes. Pleased to finally meet you in person.” He looked to each of them. “I suppose you want to know if it’s the same guy?”

Shannon looked around the area again. “Is it?”

Jack exhaled. “I’d bet my next two months pay check it is. But if you want confirmation you’re going to have to wait till we can get in there and go over the debris and let my team do their magic.”

Shannon met his brown eyes. “What’s your gut telling you?”

He chewed his lip, thinking. “Ex army. He defiantly has knowledge of demolition, explosions, charges, set timers.”

Jane scoffed. “So do half the idiots who go on-line. You ever Googled how to make a bomb?”

Jack smiled at her patiently. “To some detective, making a bomb is an art, and this isn’t a bomb as yet. It’s an incendiary device, contained, compact and aimed to burn not blow up. However this guy is an artist. This isn’t simply following instructions. What we’ve picked up so far shows us three types of accelerant; oil, petrol and Benxium. For the trigger he’s using Nitro with a TNT base. First off Nitro is unstable at high temperatures. TNT isn’t the most reliable for directing flames and as for Benxium you have to make the damn stuff from scratch.” His eyes went back to Shannon. “This guy is good, very good. If he isn’t ex army, he’s an ex something or been trained by one.”

Shannon looked over to the warehouse. “Why are the walls still intact? I thought the fire burnt red hot?”

Jack grinned at her before turning his attention to the warehouse. “He set the charges that way. He focused the strength of the explosion and fire to the center of the warehouse.”

Shannon eyes rose to the roof, seeing the huge expansion to the metal. “What about inside? It focused there too?”

“Oh yes. Believe it or not one part of the warehouse was untouched. There’s still intact furniture at the back, smoke damaged to hell and back and got major issues with the heat. But they’re there.”

Jane looked at him sharply. “You’re kidding me….” she pointed. “….something survived in that?”

“As I said this guy is good. He created a fire break and because he focused the fire what he didn’t want destroyed, wasn’t. He totally controlled it from the word go.”

Jane looked at the warehouse again, not getting her head around it at all. “Well, shit.”

“Could he have been in there?”

Jack looked at Shannon surprised. “Not at the heat this baby produced.”

“What about a suit?”

Jack gave a snort. “He couldn’t have gotten out Shannon. The clear area is in the back, no exits. He would have had to wait until the fire reached non critical to get to the way out…. In this case about two hours. No suit I know can with stand that amount of heat for that period of time. He’d have burnt up…. Besides, we’d arrived by then, we would have seen him.”

Shannon finally turned her gaze from the area to him, smiling. “Just checking.”

He shook his head chuckling. “Why you never became a fire woman I’ll never know. You should have followed your father and brother, not gone and worked for these heathens.” He shot an amused look to Jane.

Jane laughed. “I’ll have you know I like being a heathen.”

Jack grinned. His eyes went to Shannon again. “What you thinking?”

Shannon shrugged. “I’m not sure but it doesn’t feel right. Why would someone torch a warehouse but leave areas untouched? Anything special about what’s left?”

Jack shook his head. “Usual stuff. Insurance records from the owners list provided detailed info, it’s mostly personal stuff…. Nothing of high value, stored furniture, packing cases…. We haven’t been over this one yet with a fine tooth comb, but it’s in the reports what we found last time. Who’s to say what’s in the mind of an arsonist Shannon. Maybe he just gets his kicks off of leaving stuff untouched?”

Shannon turned, her eyes going to the surrounding area. “Maybe.” She took a few steps away from them, moving towards the warehouse, she stopped, bending down to pick up a small piece of wood. Her eyes went back up to the warehouse. “How long did it take the fire department to respond?”

“After the call was made they were out here within fifteen minutes.”

Shannon looked at the wood in her hands, rubbing her thumb over it till ash came off. She threw it away, wiping her hand on her jeans before she turned back to them. “He watched it, probably from over there….” she nodded to the western ridge. “…. It’s the clearest view. Then he made the call. He took his time.”

Jack rubbed his chin, nodding. “Pretty much what he did at the other fire sites. Shannon, you know as well as I do an arsonist likes watching. I don’t see where you’re going with this?”

Shannon quirked a smile. “Just thinking out loud. He hasn’t made any demands?” she looked to Jane.

Jane shook her head. “Nope. This is the first time he’s told the press too.”

Mack looked down as his cell beeped. “Excuse me.” He walked away pulling the cell free, to talk.

Jane shook her head, her eyes taking in the ruins around. “You know, I don’t understand a lot about why people do what that do. But, I really can’t see what this kinda of destruction does to get someone their jollies.” She spat the ash from her mouth in disgust.

Shannon kicked out at the earth, sending up a thin mist of ash. “Me either. But that’s cos we’re not wired that way.”

Jane snorted. “Well thank fuck for that…..” her voice turned serious. “There isn’t a connection between the security services monitoring the warehouses. None of the leasing agents are the same either. These aren’t business warehouses, so no connection there…. I’d like to start looking into the backgrounds of the leasers themselves, see if there is a connection there….. What you think?”

Shannon looked down smiling. “You’re the boss Jane remember. I go where you go.”

Jane growled, taking a step in front of Shannon, waiting till she looked at her. “Okay let’s clear this up right now. I don’t give flying rats ass that you’re now a 1 st grade detective and I sure as hell am not going to start treating you like a rookie. I want a partner I can trust and one who speaks their damn mind. Just because some guy in suit cut your balls off for a while……..”

Shannon’s eyebrows rose.

“……. Doesn’t mean he gave you a lobotomy too. Jesus Shannon if you’re going to act like a beaten dog, why the hell did you stay? I know you were offered a position in L.A. Training.”

Shannon hid her surprise, she didn’t think anyone knew. She stayed silent.

Jane let out a frustrated breath, seeing the stubbornness set in Shannon’s eyes. “Fine don’t tell me.” She took a long breath, looking over her shoulder as Jack approached.

His face gave nothing away, but Shannon caught the flinch of muscle in his cheek. “Problem?”

He stopped in front of them. “You could say that. Local news KYS, are all over the first three fire scenes, and they’re on their way here. They just informed us the arsonist sent a message to their office an hour ago.”

Both Shannon and Jane stiffened. Jane exhaled. “Saying what?”

“This is only the beginning.”

…..

Jane tried to keep her attention on the road, but the fingers drumming on the dash board to the side of her were really beginning to get on her nerves. Her eyes slid to Shannon, knowing she was deep in thought and totally unaware of the annoyance she was causing. Neither of them were in a particular good mood after finding out the arsonist was now making himself known. It was never good when a fruit loop wanted attention. It meant two main things, he wanted something and if he didn’t get it he’d make damn sure the world paid.

Shannon turned her head from the window, she wasn’t watching the changing scenery, her mind was going through the two fires and what was known. “I’d like to talk to the leasers of this last fire first?”

Jane frowned looking sideways at her. “Why? Wouldn’t it make more sense to start at the beginning?”

Shannon shrugged. “The first fire was three weeks ago, if you haven’t found a connection between that and the following two, I’m not going too. I’ve read your interviews; I don’t see a need to go over things again with them. You covered anything I would have asked anyway.”

Jane smiled. “Why thank you.”

Shannon sat back. “I’m not that bad am I in rechecking things?”

Jane turned to her, raising an eyebrow.

Shannon laughed. “Okay maybe I am. But that usually because I’ve worked with idiots.” He smile faltered a little. “Which reminds me. Whose idea really was it to bring me in on this case? You normally work homicide or undercover.”

Jane sighed, knowing this question would be coming sooner or later. “Okay if I’m going to be interrogated I need food.” She saw the sign up head for the drive in, she turned the car heading towards it.

Ten minutes later they were parked up, eating.

Shannon grimaced looking across as Jane bit into her egg chilli muffin. Carefully she folded the napkin back over hers and deposited it back into the brown bag, choosing to just have coffee this morning.

Jane chewed, looking across. “What? It’s good and you need to eat.”

Shannon rolled her eyes. “You’ve been talking to my mother again.”

Jane grinned, chewing another mouthful. “I like her.”

“She likes you too. She likes you because she has a spy to rely on.” She sipped her coffee, slightly smirking at Jane’s busted look.

Jane stopped in mid chew, swallowing hard. “Your mother is very persuasive. I didn’t tell her any of the good stuff. Just that you weren’t taking care of yourself. Besides she already knew that. I think she has bat sense when it comes to you.”

Shannon laughed. “Don’t I know it.”

“Yea well I’m right and she’s right…. you lost too much weight after the shooting and you’ve never really put it back and you didn’t exactly have that much to lose in the first place.”

Shannon sighed. “Jane. If we’re going to work together you’re going to have to stop this. I’m fine. Now tell me why I have you as a partner?”

Jane scoffed. “Yea right. You’re fine.” Shannon shot her a look. She sighed. “Okay I’ll leave it.” She bit into her muffin again. “Grieves brought you in on this, he already had it all set up as soon as your suspension was up. All the paperwork and who he wanted to partner with you, he’s been chomping at the bit to get this started. He asked me to come over about a week ago and offered me the position of working with you on this…. I took it.”

Shannon waited, knowing there was more.

Jane took a sip of her coffee. “Grieves has thought all along this guy wasn’t just a one off wonder, that he was leading up to something big. Guess he was right….” she bit into the last of her muffin, wiping her hands free of grease on the napkin. “As for why I’m here, he didn’t want some ass hole railroading you as a partner, treating you like a rookie or worse. The only other person to offer to work with you was Peter.”

Shannon glanced across surprised. “Peter? As in the Peter I smashed in the nose?”

Jane grinned. “A huh”

“Why?”

Jane shrugged. “Maybe he thought you were right to hit him. Grieves didn’t say much on the subject, but he said enough for me to understand that Peter had something to do with D.C. and Newton.”

Shannon looked away, swallowing heavily. “Yeah.”

Jane watched her, recognizing the flash of pain. “You ever gonna talk about her again?”

“No.”

Jane shook her head sadly. “Well, that’s why I’m here and why we’re on this case. Anything else you want to know?”

Shannon turned her head, looking directly at her. “Why?”

Jane frowned. “Huh? Why what?”

“Why did you leave homicide to come here and babysit me?”

Jane stilled, then threw the napkin into the bag. “Jesus Christ Shannon get over yourself martyr stage. I came here because Grieves asked. I know how they’re treated you. Believe it or not I like working with you, even though you’re the biggest pain in the ass sometimes.” She screwed up the bag, dumping onto the back seat.

Shannon looked down. “Sorry.”

Jane calmed, shaking her head. “Do we have to deal with this again?”

Shannon shook her head.

Jane hated it, she didn’t think she’d ever seen such a defeated woman before in her life. “Shannon?” she waited for Shannon to look over to her. “We have a case, you have a case. Do what you do best okay.”

Shannon inhaled as if steeling herself, then a small smile crept on her lips. “That I can do.”

Jane smiled back. “So, let’s go and talk to?”

Shannon sat straight. “Claire Randell. 1832, Morden street.”

Jane whistled, starting the car. “Rich area. Wonder if she knows her stuff just went up in flames.”

….

Jane stepped out of the car, looking around. The whole area stank of money, right down to the perfectly trimmed trees and lawns. The house was situated in the western part of the Keys, original built in the late eighth century. The red bricked house ahead reeked of age and money. It reminded her of the old plantation houses of the Deep South, even the veranda had a rickety swing seat, which right now was swaying and squeaking in morning breeze. She looked across to Shannon. “If Miss Randell offers me a mint tulip, I won’t be responsible for my laughter.”

Shannon knew exactly what Jane meant, she was getting the same sense. She’d often passed by the line of eight houses as a child; her mother had told her tales of the people who had come here in the past, tales of riches and snobbery. She shook her head clear, grinning over to Jane. “Should we look for the servant’s entrance?”

Jane snorted. “As if.”

Shannon looked around as she followed Jane up the steps to the door, seeing the car in the driveway off to the side, recognize it as the latest jag.

Jane knocked.

…..

Claire Randell looked up from the phone she was on. “Hold on. I got someone at the door….” She moved towards it, seeing the two women standing the other side of screen. She opened it. “Yes?” she looked to each of them.

Jane pulled out her badge. “Miss Randell? I’m Detective Emerson and this is Detective Rhimes.”

Claire looked briefly to the badges. “Just give me a moment.” She stepped away returning her attention to the phone. “Jacob, the police are here. I’m assuming it’s about the fire so I’ll call you back.” She clicked the phone off, stepping back. “Come in please. That was my attorney on the phone he just called me about the fire…. That is why you’re here?”

Jane nodded, stepping in. “Yes Madam, we have a few questions for you?”

“Of course. Go straight through please.”

Shannon let Jane lead, following into the house. She resisted the urge to whistle at the expensive décor.

Claire let her eyes follow the taller detective. In other circumstances she would have appreciated the beauty of the woman. But right now she was just too pissed off about her destroyed furniture. “Excuse me?” her head turned to Jane as she heard the end of question.

Jane hid her smirk. She’d caught the look Randell had given Shannon’s body. “I asked who your attorney was?”

Claire went to the sofa, placing the phone down on the coffee table, reaching across she took a cigarette out, lighting it. “Sorry if this bothers you, but it’s not every day one is told that family heirlooms have just gone up in smoke…. Forgive me, please sit.”

Jane chose the embroidered seat opposite, shifting slightly as the wood creaked, hoping to god she didn’t break it, it had to be as old as the house.

Shannon took the chair by the door, running her eyes around the room until they settled on the brown haired woman they were interviewing. Somehow the jeans and white shirt didn’t seem to fit the woman at all. Shannon expected she was more at home in Armani and Gucci. Perfectly manicured nails held the cigarette, Shannon felt herself start as amused Grey eyes caught her, she however held the gaze, until finally Randell looked away to Jane.

Claire exhaled smoke, her lips twitching a smile. “My attorney is Jacob Randell. He’s my uncle.”

Jane pulled out her notepad. “Why was he notified of the fire and not you? Your name is on the lease certificate?”

“He handles all my affairs at present. I’ve only recently returned to the Keys. He was my contact while I was away.” She drew in another lungful of smoke, studying the taller detective again, who as yet hadn’t said anything. There was something familiar about her, but Claire couldn’t as yet put her finger on it.

“When was the last time you visited the warehouse?”

“As a matter of fact I was there two days ago. Thank god I took out some of the better objects.” She snubbed out the cigarette rising. Going to the bureau she took out two typed up sheets, taking them back she handed them over. “I have to update my insurance every time I remove or add objects to the manifest. This is exactly what was in the Warehouse.”

Jane took it, giving Shannon a sideways look.

Claire saw it. “If you think I had something to do with this fire, to claim insurance Detective you’re very wrong. I deal in antiquities and just the thought of losing this much family history in a fire and things I’ve collected over the years, makes me want to find this son of bitch and drive a stake in his nuts.”

Jane swallowed a half cough. “Um.”

Claire smirked. “Didn’t expect me to know such language? Don’t judge a book by his cover. I may come from a very long line of money…. But I’ve made my own way in the world and most of it good ole daddy didn’t like.” She looked across at Shannon, seeing her quickly hide her amusement. “Do you have any idea who did this?”

Shannon shook her head, meeting the angry Grey eyes. “No. Could someone have done this to get back at you for any reason?”

Claire laughed a deep laugh. “Good god. I know of a few who’d want me died. But setting fire to my furniture…. Doesn’t that just reek of jilted lover?”

Shannon stiffened. “Does it?”

Claire studied her again, getting the same feeling of déjà vu. “Do I know you?”

Shannon looked across surprised at the question. “No.”

Claire kept her stare up. “You’re sure?”

Jane looked to each of them, shifting uncomfortably, wondering if this was about the press surrounding Shannon’s shooting. She cleared her throat. “Miss Randell?”

Claire kept trying to piece together where she knew this woman from. Shaking her head clear she looked to the detective. “Yes?”

“How much roughly is your insurance for the furniture in the warehouse?”

Claire sighed. “Barely nothing.”

Jane blinked. “Excuse me?”

“I told you I took out most of the furniture two days ago and replaced it with other pieces. I haven’t had time to send that list to the insurance broker. So, all I’m going to get is the warehouse insurance which covers barely anything. If you’d checked, you would have discovered the warehouse contract offers nothing more than protection and storage.” She snorted bitterly, returning to sit. “So much for the protection part…. So the pieces I’ve lost won’t be reimbursed in anyway. Thank god I took out the most valuable…..” her attention went to each of them. “You’re sure it was arson and not just an accident?”

Shannon voice was low. “What makes you say arson?”

Claire sat back, lighting another cigarette as she did so. “Asking about how much I get in insurance for one. Cops don’t tend to ask when it’s an accident. Also I don’t think two detectives would follow up an accident…. You leave that to the boys in blue.” She lifted a cocky eyebrow.

Shannon smiled. “You’re not the first warehouse that has been set on fire….Yours is in fact the forth. We’re trying to find out if there is any connection and yes we suspect arson.”

“A truthful cop, how refreshing.” Her hand stilled half way to the ashtray, the sentiment of those words, suddenly cleared her mind. Surprised she looked quickly across to Detective Rhimes. She blinked. ‘ Holy shit. ‘ Now she knew why she was so familiar.

Shannon frowned. “Miss Randell. Are you okay?”

“I…. yes.” She forced a smile. Taking a deep inhale of the cigarette, her eyes went to her watch. “I just remembered something.”

Shannon was confused by the sudden change in the woman. She looked nervous, hell she looked like she wanted to run. “We only have a few more questions?”

Claire swallowed, smiling. “Of course, but I do have an appointment soon.”

“We’ll be as quick as possible.” Shannon looked across to Jane, seeing her questioning gaze back, telling her she’d noticed the change too. “First do you know or have had any dealing with Henry Michaels?”

Claire thought, then shook her head. “No. Not that I’m aware of.”

Shannon continued down her mental list. “Harvey Phillips?”

Claire chewed her lip, removing from it a bit of filter from the cigarette. “I know of a Phillips who runs Bradshaw investments. Is he part of that? I would have met him about a year ago at the Hamptons?”

Shannon resisted the urge to roll her eyes at the fact this woman thought everyone was rich. “No. He’s a school teacher at Martoc School here in the Keys. I doubt his salary would cover a dinner at the Hamptons.”

Claire’s smile turned sheepish. “Ah…. Then no I don’t know of him. As I said I’ve been away.”

“Okay. The last one…. Pierce Sutcliff.”

Claire laughed. “Of course I know him.”

Jane frowned, giving Shannon another look.

Claire saw it and laughed again. “You mean you two don’t?”

Shannon shook her head. “Should we?”

Claire gave each of them a disbelieving look. “I can’t believe you don’t know him…. He’s a photographer, one of the best in the new arts. He is going to be the antiques of the future.” Her face suddenly changed to genuine concern. “Oh my god how much of his work did he lose in the fire?”

Jane wasn’t sure what to answer, the sudden concern threw her. “I’m afraid we can’t discuss that. Do you know him personally or by reputation?”

Claire’s eyes dipped to her watch again. She smoked the last of the cigarette before stubbing it out. “I met him for the first time in Paris last year at a signing. Other than that…. No. I don’t know him. I do own three of his pieces which hang in my Rome office…. Are we finished?”

Jane gave her a patient smile. “Nearly. You said you’d only just returned here. When? Was that the reason you rented the storage?”

Claire sighed, sitting back again. “I left here two years ago and yes it was the reason I rented the storage. I have been renting this house out and I didn’t want any of the furniture I valued damaged. So I put most of it into the warehouse. When I was overseas I spent my time between Rome and Paris, with various trips to England. I came back here to America a month ago and I’ve been back at my house for exactly two weeks.”

Shannon had been watching her, if she didn’t know better, she was sure now, Miss Randell was expecting someone. Someone she didn’t want the police to see. “What exactly do you do?”

Claire looked across intrigued by the new tone, seeing suspicion spark in the blue eyes watching her. She resisted the urge to swallow. Instead she smiled, almost warmly. “I deal in antiques, the older the better. I have brought for private collectors and for many museums. I track things down and I make damn sure I get myself and my clients the best price, whether I’m buying or selling. I’m good at what I do. My business is run by me. You can of course check all this out.” She smirked.

“We will.”

Claire’s smirk froze. “I don’t like the insinuation I’m lying.”

Shannon rose. “I’m sorry you think that. I assure you it’s simple routine.”

Claire rose, thankful they were finally leaving. “Why do I get the feeling detective, nothing about you is exactly routine.”

Jane rose just managing to contain her snort. Randell had sure figured Shannon out fast.

Claire froze, hearing the car door slam. Her eyes went to the hallway waiting, briefly flicking to Shannon’s face.

Shannon heard the door open, knowing this was the guest Claire was nervous about, now she’d find out why.

Jane stretched herself up to look out of the window. She blinked. Surely she didn’t see what she’d thought she’d seen. Her head snapped around at the sound of running feet, small running feet.

Shannon kept a close watch on Claire out of the corner of her eyes, surprised to find her doing the same to her. Her head came around slowly at the sound of something running. Her sharp inhale seemed to punctuate the room, when her eyes fell on the bounding Labrador. She tried for all of millisecond to argue with what her brain was telling her, that it couldn’t be.

Then the Labrador skidded, his claws slipping on the tiles until he came to a stop, his eyes widening, he sniffed the air, recognizing the scent, with a yelp of pleasure he shot forward barking right towards the one person he had missed so much over the past year, he jumped up at her, barking, whining for attention, his tail a blur.

Shannon swallowed hard, stepping back from the dog, avoiding his licks and pleas for attention, her eyes now were locked on the doorway into the living room, knowing with a settling dread who was going to appear next. She swallowed hard as the hairs on her arms prickled, but still nothing could have really prepared her for the explosion of emotions which hit as the small blonde she hadn’t seen for over a year came into view. First was the shock of seeing her again, second was blow to her stomach which robbed her of breath as smiling eyes turned to shocked translucent ones, when they locked on to her and recognition dawned. Shannon heard, felt the gasp Jenny made to her core. The third emotion she felt was how good Jenny looked, her hair was shorter, her skin tanned, her body stronger, gone was the sickly look of a woman who didn’t care about herself and kept herself locked away on an island.

Shannon let a breath out slowly, feeling a different emotion now, anger. How dare she look this good. How dare she be here. Shannon gritted her teeth, turning her attention to Bud who was now going mad for attention. She dropped to her knees, allowing him to lick at her face, his tail whipping at her legs. From somewhere she mustered a smile. “Hello you.”

He yelped again, rubbing himself along her. From somewhere inside her Shannon laughed at him, but she wasn’t sure it wasn’t a laugh of madness.

Jane’s eyes were still on Jenny, reading the shock. She saw the questioning glance to Claire, who just shook her head, while she moved next to Jenny. Jane gritted her teeth as Claire placed her hand on Jenny’s back, rubbing circles. Her eyes jumped to her friend, wondering how the hell Shannon was handling any of this. She watched as Jenny moved away from Claire, moving to the sofa to sit.

“Hello Jane.” Jenny felt like she’d been hit by a truck. Her eyes flicked to Shannon seeing she looked like the same thing had just happened. She made herself smile as she looked to Jane again. “How are you?”

Jane managed a smile back. “Jen…. How you been? Didn’t know you were back?” Jane’s eyes shifted to Shannon briefly, seeing her friend was using the time with Bud to get herself under control.

Jenny noticed there was no friendliness in Jane voice. Her eyes slipped closed as she composed herself for a moment. “I’m okay. I…. I’ve only been back for two weeks.”

Shannon hand stilled on Bud, with a huge effort she made herself rise and face Jenny. “We’re here investigating a fire.”

Jenny almost sat back at the ice that was aimed at her. Well, what exactly did she expect. She focused on the words. “Fire?” her eyes went to Claire in question.

Claire took that as a cue, moving to sit next to Jenny, taking her hand, well aware that Jenny had stiffened, she ignored it and kept the hand in hers. “Seems someone burnt down my warehouse.”

Jenny mouth opened. “Oh god. Did you lose much?”

Claire shrugged. “Not as much as I would have, if we hadn’t moved some of my stuff last week.” She twitched a smile, hoping it let Jenny know it was okay, that she was here.

Shannon wanted to be sick, it was clear these two were more than friends.

Jenny shifted uncomfortable, aware Shannon was watching her. She couldn’t look at her, not yet, not here. She simply looked down, trying to get herself under control. It wasn’t supposed to be like this, she was going to go to Shannon, to explain. But now, now she didn’t have that option.

Jane moved forward giving her card to Claire. “We will be in contact again with any questions. I’d appreciate it that if you think of anything, anything at all you might deem relevant. You contact us?”

Claire took it, nodding. Her perennial vision took in the form of the detective, she looked just as shook up as Jenny did. “Thank you both. I’ll have my attorney send you all information on the insurance.”

Jane nodded, moving to the doorway, stopping briefly to ruffle Bud’s fur. “Hey cutie. You been a good boy?”

“Arffffoo.” He gave her a long lick, but his eyes were fixed on Shannon, he moved over to her, sitting, whining again.

Shannon swallowed, looking down, knowing he sensed her distress. She gave him a sad smile, before moving towards Jane. The whole time she was walking from the house she resisted the urge to look back, to see if Jenny was looking.

As soon as the door slammed shut, Jenny put her head in her hands. “Oh god.”

Claire shifted next to her. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know who she was. By the time I did there was no way to warn you.” She placed her arm over Jenny’s shoulders pulling her close. “Shhhhh. it’ll be okay.”

Jenny shook her head. “I doubt it. She hates me.”

Claire tightened her hold. “Come on, you just knocked each other for six……” she paused. “Jen why didn’t you sense her? You told me you always could?”

Jenny pulled away, sitting forward, rubbing her hands over her face. “Because I stopped myself from doing it, after I left her. I couldn’t….” she swallowed. “I couldn’t take feeling her anymore.” Jenny composed herself, she couldn’t deal with this yet. Her eyes came around to Claire. “How bad was the fire?”

Claire sighed. “From what Jacob was told, it pretty much torched the lot.”

Jenny grabbed her hand. “Oh Hun. I’m sorry.”

“Your Detective thinks it was arson.”

Jenny stiffened, rising, releasing Claire’s hand. “She isn’t my detective and if she thinks its arson it probably is. I need to change.”

Claire nodded, keeping her opinion to herself, knowing it wouldn’t do any good right now. Sadly she watched Jenny call Bud and leave the room.

…..

Jane slowed the car, pulling into the lay-by, looking across to Shannon for what seemed like the hundredth time in the short ten minute journey. She hadn’t said a word and she looked like hell. “Shannon?”

“Oh god.” Shannon jerked forward, releasing the door handle, running to the bank by the side of the road, throwing up.

Jane knew better then to go out there, so she sadly just sat and waited.

Shannon took long gulps of air, well aware the whole action of throwing up pulled on her scar, just another reminder of the past. Jesus, she hadn’t been ready for that. She stood straight, well aware Jane was watching her from the car, waiting. What the hell was she supposed to do now? She swallowed hard, the case, that was what was important, what she should have done last time, concentrated on the case and only that, she wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice. She turned and headed back to the car, all her emotions back where they belonged under lock and key.

….

Captain Grieves sat back in his chair, his eyes fixed on the figure at the desk outside his office, a figure that had been missing from his squad room far too long. His jaw clenched, he’d tried everything to get Shannon off the hook, even taking full responsibility for her actions on the Tooth fairy case. But even he couldn’t protect her when it came down to it. Right now however he was more concerned with the present rather than the past, wondering if he’d made the right choice putting her on this arson case so soon. The psychiatrist Shannon had been forced to see after the shooting had given her the all clear in his report to him, but had added a note that Shannon was bottling her emotions. Grieves had read between the lines knowing it really meant, to go careful with her on assignments. His eyes went back to her working on the computer, he could see the strain in her face, he also saw that a big part of who Shannon used to be was missing, and there was no spark. He had hoped pairing her with Jane would have given her back some sense of being who she was. He knew something had happened that morning, but neither Jane nor Shannon gave away what exactly had happened. He looked up as Detective Kaplan entered.

“Yes?”

“We just got a call from Sidney Hutchinson.”

Grieves resisted the urge to growl. “What did our esteemed district attorney want?”

“He wants to know what’s being done about the fires. Especially as one of the warehouses that went up belonged to his good friend Stanley Carter.”

Grieves let the growl out this time. “Of course that means we now have to pull all our resources out of asses and find the criminal just like that!”

Kaplan wisely chose to stay silent.

“Just once I’d like to run my investigations without someone yelling at me down the phone to get it done quicker.”

“He didn’t yell.” he shut up as Grieves eyes locked on him.

“Oh he may not have raised his voice but he was shouting believe you me. Okay, get him on the phone for me. Give me five minutes before you put it through.”

Kaplan nodded, leaving.

Jane looked up seeing the Captain coming towards them. “Captain?”

He stopped, waiting till he had both their attentions. “Anything on the arsonist?”

Shannon turned from the computer screen. “Only what’s in the reports. We’ve only just gotten the fire chiefs report. Same accelerator as before, same burn pattern.”

“I know that I’ve read them. I’m talking about what your take is on it now you’ve been to the sites?”

Shannon’s eyes slid to Jane briefly before coming back to the Captain. “I don’t know what you expect me to know sir. The report pretty much sums up where we are.”

His jaw twitched. “What’s your gut telling you Rhimes?” he studied her closely.

“The reports don’t have anything I don’t already know. My gut says he isn’t going to stop now he’s brought the press in he wants a name for himself.”

“That it?”

Shannon frowned. “I’m not sure what you’re expecting me to say.”

He exhaled, shaking his head. “Nothing. I’m just looking for something or anything on this guy before he makes the world know who he is. The networks have just picked up on his story and I don’t like it, they’re turning this little pissant into the new panic of the week. We don’t need another serial guy here. “

Both Jane and Shannon stiffened.

“….we’ve only just gotten back full tourism to the Keys. I don’t have to tell you both we need this cleaned up fast. That’s why I wanted you on this Rhimes you get results. So tell me what is your damn gut telling you?”

Shannon put her pencil down, turning the chair fully to meet his eyes. “This isn’t going to be cleaned up quickly. He wants something more than just air time. He’s too careful. His fires are set a certain way for a reason. What I don’t know…. but if you’re asking me if he’s going away anytime soon…. the answers no. he’s in this till he’s either dead or caught or gets what he wants.”

Grieves jaw clicked as his jaw tensed. He nodded slowly. “Yea that’s what I thought. Son of a bitch.” he turned as Kaplan announced the district attorney was waiting on line three. Nodding to Shannon and Jane he left to pick up the call.

Jane went back to her screen.

Shannon however was watching Grieves as he closed his door. “Why did he ask me that, if he already thought the same?”

“Because he was checking to make sure they hadn’t taken all your balls.”

Shannon eyes shot to Jane. Jane just smiled.

“If he doubts I can do this, why the hell give it to me.”

Jane slowly looked up. “Is he doubting you anymore than you are yourself?”

Shannon exhaled. “I didn’t think this would be that hard. I’ve been chomping at the bit for six months to get back here.”

“Look give yourself a break, this morning seeing her again threw you.”

Shannon rose. “This has nothing to do with this morning or her.” she slammed the chair back against the desk.

Jane shook her head, watching Shannon sulk away. “Yea right.” She turned back to her screen, only to swallow as she saw Grieves coming out of his office, beckoning her with a finger.

She rose. “Shit.”

….

Jenny stood on the sand dune looking at what was once her home. The storm boards over the windows made her shiver; the place looked forgotten, unloved. There were many things she had neglected her home was just one of them. She hadn’t intended to come here so soon, but after this morning something just pulled at her to return. She couldn’t help the smile as she watched Bud mark all his territory in gusto, it almost looked like he was telling the world, I’m back I’m back so stay off, mine.

She felt Claire come up beside her.

“When did you get the fences put up? I don’t remember those.” she made a face as she saw the sand covering her new Reeboks.

Jenny gritted her teeth to the image that wanted to invade, she made herself walk between the gate posts to the veranda, well aware Claire had fallen into step. “They were done last year.”

Claire looked around. “Well they look good. The rest of the house needs some work though. Maybe you’ll let me help.” her voice was unsure. She stomped her feet to get rid of the sand.

Jenny chose to ignore the question, she didn’t have answers to any of Claire’s questions, she’d been avoiding them since they’d started three months ago. All she wanted to do now was come home. She unlocked the door, pushing it open, inhaling the scent, it didn’t smell to bad considering it had been boarded up for over a year. Entering she pulled her sunglasses from her face, relieved to be in darkness for a while.

Claire fanned her nose as she entered. “Lordy, old building may look good, but Jesus do they smell.”

Jenny let the comment pass. “I happened to like the way it smells.”

Claire turned. “You would. At least let me open some windows before I have an asthma attack.”

Jenny just shook her head moving towards the back. “If you gave up smoking you wouldn’t get asthma.” she paused, her hand on the guest room door, steeling herself she entered, knowing already there was no reminder left of where Shannon had stayed. In fact there was no reminder of anything of the year before, Marcus had made sure of that for her. That didn’t seem to matter, it still made it hard to walk across the room to throw open the door to let the breeze through. She turned back, only to find Claire leaning against the wood frame watching her.

“You sure you want to stay here so soon? You know you can stay with me.”

Jenny smiled. “I know and thank you. But it’s about time I decided what I want to do.”

Claire stepped back to let her through. “You still thinking of selling the place? Seems a shame, all it needs is some work done on it. Although if you do it up first you’ll make a killing on the market, these places sell like gold.”

Jenny finished opening the last of the windows, blinking her eyes back to focus from the suns glare. “I don’t know what I want to do yet. I don’t know if I can stay here.” The truth was she didn’t want to sell either, this was still her safe haven. She’d felt it as soon as she’d entered, even with all the memories, the peace, the tranquility, it seeped into her, reinforcing her walls, herself doubt.

Claire moved towards her, feeling the change in her. “Too many memories?”

Jenny moved away from her, towards the open door, just watching Bud running around in the surf. She watched until her eyes screamed enough in the sunlight. She turned back to Claire. “Too much Essence.”

Claire’s smile strained. “Ah.”

Jenny gave her a knowing look. “Don’t pretend to understand. You still have a problem with this side of me. Even after everything I told you?”

Claire reached into her bag, drawing out a packet of cigarettes, lighting one, exhaling smoke. “Of course not.”

Jenny looked away, she didn’t need this conversation again.

Uneasy now with the whole topic Claire pulled one of the sheets off the couch, coughing as dust rose. “Well if you’re going to stay here tonight, we need to get cleaning. I’ll start bringing the stuff in from the car.”

Jenny just nodded, suddenly she wanted to stay there very much, no matter what demons the house held, it still gave her a sense of security she hadn’t found anywhere in the last year. Her eyes went guiltily to Claire as she went out. No, she hadn’t found security with her either. For a moment her mind escaped to Shannon , shivering she locked down on the thought and the part of her that was trying to search out her essence. Grabbing her sunglasses, she left to help Claire.

The house cleaning had taken most of the day, now they both sat out on the porch. Jenny eyes were fixed above on the stars. She missed this clean view of the sky, Paris held its own stars, yellow neon’s, not once had Jenny found anything in the darkness she recognized there. She inhaled deeply filling her lungs with the freshness of the sea and sand, if she’d done that in Paris she would have coughed up a lung. Now she was back she began to realize exactly how much she had missed this place.

Claire sipped her scotch, her eyes studying Jenny’s profile. God she was beautiful, she still took her breath away, she’d been a fool to walk away from her. She took another drink. “You ever going to talk about what happened this morning?” she watched Jenny stiffened, before she sat back to look at her.

“What’s there to talk about? You were there, you saw. I would have thought you’d be more concerned by the fact your warehouse just burned down.”

Claire took a longer sip of her drink. “I’m more concerned about you than furniture. I would have thought you’d know me enough to know that.” she couldn’t keep the snap out of her voice.

Jenny inwardly cursed. “I’m sorry you’re right. But I’m not going to talk about Shannon . You know what happened before, what’s the point of going over it again.”

Claire sighed. “Your plan was going to see her this week.”

Jenny pushed down on her anger. “Yes. Well that isn’t going to happen, this morning blew any chance of that.”

Claire lent across, resting her hand on Jenny’s arm. “Look just go and see and explain.”

Jenny head shot around. “Explain what? Oh sorry Shannon I meant to come see you but you got to me first.”

Claire removed her hand, taking another sip of drink. Sometimes Jenny’s stubbornness really annoyed her. “That’s not what I meant and you know it. Go and explain to her exactly why you ran away last year. I’m sure if you explain it she’d at least give you a chance.”

Jenny rose, suddenly feeling the weight of the world on her shoulders. “There isn’t any second chance, so please leave it Claire.”

Claire was about to argue when she saw the fatigue on Jenny’s face. “Okay. I’ll leave it.” she kept the ‘for now’ too herself.

Jenny paused at the door, her anger gone, she knew Claire was trying to help, suddenly being at odds with her was too much. She didn’t want to be alone tonight. “Are you staying?”

Claire finished her drink rising, flashing a grin. “Thought you’d never ask.”

Jenny smiled sweetly, before turning. “I’ll fix up the guest room.”

Claire’s grin fell.

Bud snorted before following his mistress.

.…

Shannon lifted another noodle from the box, shoveling it into her mouth, not really taking any notice of the ones that missed. Her eyes were fixed on the file open on her laptop, she used the end of the chopstick to scroll down of the report. She paused in mid chew as she read the paragraph again.

Distinctive patterns were found at the center core of the fire at sites one through five. No fire actually reached the furniture within the warehouse. Forensic proves that furniture was moved away from the inner area where the explosives were set. The surrounding area outside of the warehouse held very little damage, most was due to heat. The evidence at present suggests the explosives were set to form a contained funnel effect. No explanation as to why is forth coming at this time.

Shannon continued chewing as she sat back. “What sort of arsonist leaves things undamaged?” The room was not forth coming in its answer. She took another mouthful of food before leaning forward again, back scrolling to the beginning of the report.

The radius of the fire measures thirty foot by forty foot in a circular pattern. The containment of the fire was achieved by the main explosive of TNT being placed into a lead boxed detonating device, when this exploded it detonated the Nitro package and accelerator Biennium, causing an upward explosion of intense heat. The flame itself reached more than sixty feet in height and well above 200 degrees, which melted the iron struts of the roof, causing a cave in about fifteen minutes of the fires start.

Taking a sip of soda, she scrolled backwards to the diagram of the radius of the fire. It showed the furniture all placed around the main source, very few items were in fact damaged by the fire, most were destroyed by the heat and the foam and water used by the fire department to get the blaze under control. Placing the soda can down, she pulled up on the screen the other two reports, pressing print on each diagram, the Wi-Fi printer by the window began to churn.

Rising, she grabbed a pancake roll from the box, chewing as she lifted and read each page as they came through. When all five were complete she returned to the couch still reading.

Each report contained photographs and sketches of the area within the warehouse, revealing the circular area of the fire itself and placement of each and every package and furniture within. Going from one to the other, Shannon could see that none of the placement of furniture matched another from a different fire, if anything the placement of each looked random. The only thing that was an exact match was the circular area itself and the device used to cause the explosion and fire. She let out a frustrated exhale, throwing the pages onto the coffee table, sitting back down, as she snagged the box of noodles to finish.

She wasn’t sure what she’d expected to find that the fire officer didn’t. Jane was running the reports on the history of the customers and warehouse owners, she should be doing the same. But something was telling her those things had nothing to do with why this arsonist picked their property. It was that damn niggle of hers. She swallowed the last of the noodles, reaching over the arm of the couch to dump it in the waste bin, grimacing as she heard it bounce off its already full contents onto the floor. Closing her eyes she lent her head back on the couch knowing the real reason she’d looked into the reports, it was something to take her mind off what she’d been avoiding facing all day, Jenny. As soon as the thought and image entered her head, she was up, grabbing the trash can by the sofa, shoving in the rubbish from the floor, moving quickly to the kitchen to grab the trash bags out of the drawer, turning her full attention to the mess that was her house, avoiding the real issue of the mess that was her life.

….

Jane threw another handful of seeds to the birds who were waiting at her feet, she leant back, letting her eyes go around the park.

“Why detective don’t you know it’s illegal to feed the birds around here?”

Jane didn’t jump, in fact she smiled before looking over her shoulder to the voice. “I’ll arrest myself as soon as I’ve emptied the bag. How are you Marcus?”

He grinned, moving around to sit on the bench next to her. “I’m grand and you?”

She threw the last of the seed, wiping her hands on her jeans. “Actually I’m pissed off.”

His eyebrows rose. “One of the birds donate some luck to you?”

She couldn’t help it she smiled. “I wish. No, actually I’m pissed off at you.”

He blinked. “Me? What did I do this time? Did I forget a date?”

She glared at him. “I’m being serious. It’s what you didn’t do. I thought you’d have at least warned me your ex girlfriend was back…. If not for my sake, but Shannon ‘s.”

His face lost his amusement. “What? Wait…You mean Jenny? Jenny’s back. Where?”

She read his face and knew he seriously didn’t know. “Shit, she didn’t even tell you.”

He sat forward. “No it seems she didn’t. Last I heard she was in Paris , that was over three month’s ago.” he exhaled. “….where is she?”

“Staying with someone called Claire Randell.” she watched him closely, catching the tightening of the lines around his face.

“Claire, well I wouldn’t have guessed in a million years she would have gone to her.”

“You know her?”

“Oh yea. It’s the woman Jenny took up with a year after we split up. Damn why didn’t she come to me instead of getting back into that with her.”

Jane’s interest peeked. “They were lovers then?”

He looked at her. “They were more than lovers they were together for over a year…. Till Claire had enough of Jenny’s mumbo jumbo.”

Jane shifted uneasily, she still thought parts of what Marcus and Jenny had were a kind of mumbo jumbo, spooky shit. But she couldn’t deny whatever it was worked. She decided to stay on the subject she was trying to get into. “Well they looked pretty cozy.”

He fidgeted. “That’s nice…. where the hell did you meet them?”

“We’re investigating the fires, Claire was renting one of the warehouses, we went to interview her and Jenny arrived there.”

Marcus paled. “Don’t tell me the we, is you and Shannon. Please tell me she didn’t walk into that blind?”

Jane exhaled. “Can’t she did…. Yesterday morning. Bam!”

His eyes slipped closed. “Fuck.”

“Yea and then some.”

They both fell silent, both caught in their own thoughts. Till Jane turned to him. “Grieves knows she’s here.”

Marcus looked across. “You tell him?”

Jane nodded. “Had too, he wanted to know what had crawled up Shannon ‘s butt.”

“Yea.” he couldn’t imagine what Shannon was feeling, for once he was glad Shannon wasn’t near him, because one touch and he knew he wouldn’t be able to block out her feelings. A thought occurred to him. “Why tell me Grieves knows? Is he going to arrest her for being a bitch?”

Jane blanched. “No. he wants to ask her to help on this case.”

Marcus just stared at her. “You’re not serious.”

“He’s serious.”

“What about Shannon ? Does she know about this?”

Jane looked away. “Not yet. I was ordered not to tell her, Grieves wants to run it by Jenny first. He wants this case solved quickly before it gets out of hand in the press and before any one is hurt. He thinks Jenny can do that, he’s always trusted her talent.”

Marcus’s eyes went out to the surrounding area, wondering how on earth Shannon was going to handle this one. As an afterthought, he wondered how he was too. “He doesn’t much trust in mine though.”

Jane sighed, recognizing the look in his eyes, one he always had when he was thinking of his ex. It was one of the reasons she constantly decline when he asked her on a date. She didn’t need to get into a relationship with someone who was still in love with their ex, no matter how attractive she found him. “It wasn’t like he didn’t come to you before…. you’ve just always turned him down on cases. Are you okay with her being back?”

“I don’t think I am. But I’ll survive.” he forced a brief smile. “If she wants to contact me she knows where I am.” he looked away trying to hide his hurt.

Jane saw it and once again cursed Jenny Newton.

…..

Jenny stared, not quite sure of what she was seeing, her mind was telling her that Captain Grieves was walking up her yard path, while the other part was in total disbelief that Grieves would come anywhere near her. She swallowed, waiting, leading against the door frame.

Grieves waited until he was at the porch steps. “Jenny?”

“No. whatever it is no.” She crossed her arms.

“What makes you think I’m here for something, other than to check out you’re okay.”

“Very touching of you and the answers still no.” She turned, moving back into the house.

He didn’t wait for an invitation, he moved into the doorway, he looked down as Bud gave a growl.

“I’m not coming in unless invited boy.”

Bud sniffed, then lay down across the doorway at Grieves feet, just to make sure.

Jenny sat. “Thank you for your concern, I’m fine, now go away.”

He smiled, wiping his face for the second time with the handkerchief. “You look well.”

Her answer was to just stare at him, the stare unsettled him. “Are you reading me?”

She rolled her eyes. “When are you going to understand I can’t do that and it doesn’t take a psychic to know you enough that you don’t make house calls unless you want something and the answer is still no. I’m not doing it anymore.”

He frowned. “Doing what? Working for me? Or the whole psychic thing?”

“Both.” she swallowed.

His frown deepened. “How can you just switch it off? It’s part of you. Just because you’ve had bad luck in some cases.”

She looked away. “I’d call it more than bad luck and you’re right I can’t just switch it off, it’s taken me a year to get this far.” she looked right at him. “And I’m not coming to work for you, first because I don’t want too and second because, well you know the second.”

He adjusted his jacket on his arm, feeling the prickling of sweat under the heavy material. “I’ll deal with Shannon .”

Her eyes blazed. “She’s shouldn’t have to be dealt with. I ruined her life once before I’m not doing it again, so end of discussion.” her anger dulled, replaced with tiredness. “Go away Captain. I’d be no use to you even if I did want to help, which I don’t. Just go away.”

He watched her stand and move away back into the den, looking down he found Bud watching him. “She still running I see.”

Bud growled.

Grieves smiled. “Always her protector. Eh?” he pulled a file from his jacket pocket, laying it down at Bud’s feet. “Don’t eat it. Just give it to her.”

Bud sniffed it, but didn’t move from his guard post.

Grieves gave one last look into the house before heading back to the dock and his ride home.

…..

Shannon stared out the window of the car, well aware Jane was giving sideways glances towards her, she had been since she picked her up at 6am, by 8am it was becoming annoying. They were headed now back to the precinct after checking out two leads on the arson case, which turned out to be nothing more than witnesses who weren’t witnesses looking for the reward money. Reward money always brought the crazies out in force. Problem was you didn’t know they were crazies till you interviewed them, all in all it was one of the biggest waste of police time.

“You want to stop off for breakfast?”

Shannon looked sideways at her. “It’s not going to be that chilli stuff is it?”

Jane gave a mock hurt look. “Come on there’s nothing wrong with it…. but okay today you choose?”

Shannon shook her head. “I ate before I left. Go…………” her voice tailed off as the police radio sounded.

##All units All units. Request assistance at 23 rd East Bayreuth . Shots fired. Units 14 and 37 already on route.###

Shannon lifted the mike. “Rhimes and Emerson about ten minutes away. We’re on our way.” she nodded to Jane, who already had turned on the light and siren, pulling the car into a turn, hard enough to send Shannon slamming into the door frame, she braced her hand against the framing, watching the speedometer go from 40 to 80 in a blink.

Ten minutes later the car turned into the Bayreuth road. Seeing the two squad cars Jane aimed for the center of them, then turned the wheel sharply to bring their car as close as possible.

“Jesus.” Shannon swallowed hard as her breakfast threatened to reshow itself.

Jane sheepishly grinned. “Sorry.”

Both got out, their hands resting on their guns at their hip.

A patrolman appeared from behind the second squad car, running over slightly crouched. He looked to each of them. “Detectives.”

They nodded back, just before they both ducked down behind the car as a shot ran out from the building opposite. “What’s the situation?” Shannon pulled her gun out making sure to keep it pointed to the ground, Jane followed suit her eyes darting around.

“Well…. from what I can tell the man inside is Kenneth Willisson. He was fired this afternoon from his job at the fishery.” he nodded to the paramedic van. “…..His wife and kid are in there. They’re not hurt just scared shitless. She said he just came home and started shooting. So far it’s not aimed at us, just things in his house. He hasn’t responded to calls or us hails. He threw his wife and kid out about ten minutes ago. You two are the first on the scene so it’s your show.” he said the last part with a touch of relief.

Shannon couldn’t help the flinch as another shot ran out. She felt a nudge at her arm, surprised to find a flak jacket being thrust at her. She met Jane’s eyes in question.

“Put it on and don’t give me shit about it either.” to make her point Jane pulled on hers, slapping down the Velcro at the sides.

Shannon didn’t want to argue, for a moment she’d seen the fear in Jane’s eyes, understanding why. She quickly pulled on the jacket.

Jane looked around. “We need more assistances, the whole damn street is out to watch.”

The patrolman looked around seeing what she meant, with a nod he headed out towards the far side of the round to get the watchers back.

Jane took a quick peek over the top of the car to the window. “What do you think? We wait for Swat?”

“If swat get here he isn’t going to listen and probably get himself killed.” Shannon chewed her lip thinking.

“So now what, we sit till he runs out of ammo?

Shannon rose a little. “MR WILLISON I’m DETECTIVE RHIMES I’d LIKE TO TALK TO YOU.” She ducked quickly as two shots rang out this time one of them shattered the front window of the house.

“GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME. JUST GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE.”

“Well that went well.” Jane took another quick peek over the bonnet of the car, ducking back down. “Looks like automatic handgun, at a guess it’s a Glock, can’t see any other weapons. Don’t think he was firing at you though.”

Shannon nodded, rising again but ducked quickly as she made eye contact with the shooter and his gun came around to her. “He looks terrified.”

“Well I’m not going up there till I know he hasn’t got a bug up his ass about cops.” Jane turned her head, watching as another two squad cars roared into the street. She flagged them over to the far side of the road. Rising, she ran over, making sure when she stopped she kept the car between her and shooter.

“Okay I need this road cleared, get them back as far as you can, if they won’t go arrest them.”

The youngest of the two coughed. “Ma’am?”

She stared at him, annoyed she had to explain herself. “He’s shooting wild in there, the Glock can reach a distance up to sixty meters and that’s without rebound.” her eyes shifted to the line of people no more than ten meters away. “Get it.”

He flushed, swallowing, turning to join the other three as they went to do crowd control.

Jane shook her head, wondering if recruits were getting younger or simply she was getting older, with one last look to the group of watchers, “Dumb shits.” she quickly ran back to where Shannon was knelt

“He’s stopped shooting, he’s just sitting in the chair by the window.” Shannon motioned to the house.

Jane took a look, seeing Shannon was correct. “You think he’s had enough?”

Shannon swallowed, she was getting a bad feeling, her whole skin was tingling. “Yea I think he’s had en……….” she didn’t finish as another shot rang out, this time is sounded dull and if it were possible for a shot to have an emotion, it had finality to it.

Silence seemed to be louder around them. Both Jane and Shannon exchanged a knowing look, both rose running, guns up towards the house. Shannon went first kicking the door open, going inside quickly slamming her back against the wall, her gun sweeping the hallway, she motioned to Jane, who came in the same position, gun sweeping.

“POLICE MR WILLISON….. THROW OUT YOUR GUN.”

They both knew it wasn’t needed, but they had to be safe than sorry. No answer came and neither of them were surprised.

Jane nodded to the living room door, standing to the side of it. Shannon moved closer her hand already turning the door handle, with a push she eased it open. Her eyes darted around the room, her gun up. She swallowed hard, Mr. Willisson was propped against the wall in the far corner, a wall that was splashed in deep red blood and white speckles of bone. Her eyes dipped to his face seeing the small hole in his forehead where the bullet, knowing the back of the skull wasn’t going to be as tidy. Her eyes shifted to the floor, written in black ink and large letters on the new wood floor stood out. I’m sorry.

Shannon slowly walked over, not lowering her gun until she’d checked to make sure he was no threat, even though she knew he wasn’t going to be one to anyone anymore, she lowered it, exhaling. “Damn.”

Jane grimaced as she neared. “Yea.”

Both jumped, turning quickly guns up again as an anguished scream ripped across the room.

Shannon lowered her gun, holstering it, already on the move grabbing Mrs. Willisson and dragging her through the door, she glared at the patrolman who looked sheepish in the hallway. Gently she led the distraught woman back towards the paramedics, “hey you’ll be okay.”

Mrs. Willisson pulled away from her, turning so fast Shannon couldn’t do anything about the slap that connected with her cheek. Shannon just stared in shock as the paramedic grabbed Mrs. Willisson restraining her. She pulled against the hold, trying to get at Shannon again. “It’s your fault all of you. You should have stopped him, he just needed someone to talk too. Oh god oh god. David…. David!”

Shannon stood ridged, not really knowing what to do.”I’m sorry.”

Mrs. Willisson swung around to her. “Everyone’s fucking sorry.” then she dissolved into tears again and let the paramedic this time lead her back to the ambulance.

Jane came running over. “ Shannon you okay?”

Shannon jaw clenched. “Peachy.” she turned to head back into the house feeling like the biggest heel on the planet. Mrs. Willisson was right, she should have stopped him. Once she would have gone in there and talked him out of it…. or taken the gun off him. In anger she pulled the flack vest off, the Velcro ripped under the abuse.

Jane moved to follow, then slowed, holstering her weapon, looking to the crying woman in the back of the ambulance and the small boy who sat shocked in the cabin of it. Sometimes being a cop really sucked. Sighing she headed over to Mrs. Willisson.

…..

Jenny looked at the file on the table. First she’d thrown it straight in the bin, but once again curiosity reared its head. Now she sat staring at it. Her mind was already turmoil, she knew if she read it she wouldn’t be able to stop trying to solve it, which brought up a whole bunch of problems, namely Shannon , she’d have to either work with her or face her. Not one part of her believed she could handle either. She could already feel the shift inside, no matter how hard she tried to erect the walls they were cracking, she could feel the Essence around her, whispering, calling. She rose moving quickly away from the file, moving to the couch, laying back just staring into nothing. She shouldn’t have come back, no matter how much she’d missed this haven, she should have stayed away. But she couldn’t because she realized she couldn’t just run away anymore, there was nowhere to run too. She suddenly felt angry at Shannon , how dare she show her what life was like again. How dare she prove that the world wasn’t full of monsters and make her feel again. Damn her for coming into my life. Damn her!

She didn’t want to cry, she was tired of that too, she tilted her head back, swallowing down the lump in her throat. The truth was she couldn’t run away from Shannon any more. She needed to put to rest the past, more to the point she needed Shannon to understand why she’d run away from her. It was so hard thinking back, because the past brought up all those feelings. She actually flinched when a vivid memory of Shannon being shot got through the walls. She leant forward, wiping at the cold sweat on her forehead, slamming a wall into place. It was exhausting always doing this, her mind ached, her heart ached and her soul ached.

She rose, moving back to the table, her finger tips tracing a pattern around the file. She knew if she read it she’d have little choice but to face everything from the past. She turned, walking away.

Bud lay by the wall, his eyes had watched her the whole time, at first he was going to get up and go to her when he felt her distress, but lately she hadn’t wanted his comfort, so he lay and watched, letting out a small whine when she left him alone in the living and closed her bedroom door.

….

Shannon sat in the waiting room, her whole body tense, she couldn’t believe that Grieves had sent her for a physic evaluation so soon after one shooting. She shook her head, barely containing her anger at being in this place again. Two months she’d had to come here and talk. She scoffed, talk! She couldn’t see how talking had helped, it was just another waste of time, she was fine. She looked up as the door opened, revealing a tall woman with hair nearly as dark as hers. Shannon clenched her teeth, she never trusted that woman when she was smiling. “ Hello Dr Phillips.”

Dr Phillips smiled more. “Hello Shannon . You’re very formal today. It’s Lynne remember….Would you like to come in now?”

No! “Sure.” Shannon rose.

Dr Phillips stepped back, letting her through, noting the tension. She closed the door, moving across the room to take her seat behind her desk, well aware Shannon chose not to sit as usual and simple stand back to her looking out of the window. Phillips stayed silent, knowing asking questions got her nowhere, if Shannon wanted to talk she would. So she waited.

Shannon shifted, taking a sly glance over her shoulder, her jaw tightened, seeing Phillips simple watching her. It always came down to a game of patience, one that Shannon usual lost, today she wasn’t in the mood to play games. She turned quickly, taking a seat in the big leather arm chair. “I don’t know why I’m here?”

“Grieves asked me to see you, after what happened this morning.”

“I know that.” Shannon answer was curt. “What I don’t know is why at all? Nothing happened I couldn’t handle.”

Dr Phillips eyes gazed over the report on her desk. “A man died.” she caught out the corner of her eye as Shannon quickly looked away.

“Yea.”

Phillips sat back. “According to the report all protocols were followed and the man simply took his own life.”

Shannon ‘s head swung around. “There’s nothing simple in someone taking their life.”

Phillips barely resisted the urge to flinch at the glare. “I’m sorry. I chose the wrong words.”

“Yea. As for protocols I’ve learned my lesson haven’t I.” Shannon folded her arms.

Phillips made a note on her pad. “I wasn’t insinuating otherwise. Remember Shannon I’m on your side.”

Shannon didn’t answer and simple stared.

Phillips stared back for a while, then read from the report again. “Do you think you could have done something to stop him?” She watched Shannon careful, through all the months of seeing her she learned pretty well how to read her, and she wasn’t wrong this time, she watched the uncertainty enter her eyes. “ Shannon ?”

Shannon looked away. “I don’t know. Maybe, if I’d gotten him to talk.”

“What would you have done before you were shot?”

Shannon ‘s eyes sparked again. “What the hell has that got to do with anything?”

“I don’t know. That’s why I’m asking?” For a moment she didn’t think Shannon was going to answer, then she saw the tension grow in her shoulders, she waited.

“I’d have done the same. There wasn’t anything different I would have done. He didn’t want to listen to anyone. He was lost, so damn fucking lost he couldn’t see straight….” her anger now was showing as her voice as it rose.

Phillips chewed the edge of her pen, listening.

“….We couldn’t have gotten near him, if we’d charged the house he either would have shot himself then and there, or shot at us and we’d have to take him down.”

Phillips nodded slightly. “Seems reasonable to assume that’s what would have happened. But his wife believes you were to blame didn’t she? The report says she struck you?”

Shannon snapped her mouth shut, her anger gone, replaced with guilt, her eyes went to her hands. “Yea.”

Lynne lent forward, her voice softening. “Mrs. Willisson would have been under considerable strain Shannon , she would have lashed out at anyone, you unfortunately were the first she came across.”

Shannon snapped. “I know that.”

“You know all this yet you are blaming yourself and second guessing your actions.”

Shannon was about to argue, when she realized Phillips was right. She hated it when she was right.

Phillips studied her again, there was something else going on, tenseness surrounded Shannon she hadn’t seen since those first few weeks after the shooting. She took a leap of faith. “What else has happened?”

Shannon took a deep breath. Damn it. “Nothing.”

Phillips let out a sigh. “I thought we were past hiding things.”

“I’m not hiding anything.” Shannon clamped her mouth shut on what she knew wanted to come out. The worst thing about seeing Dr Phillips was the fact she did end up talking and she didn’t know why.

“Other than?” Phillips could see the battle going on. She waited, knowing either Shannon was going to share or she wasn’t.

Shannon rose, going back to the window looking out, debating whether she really wanted to get into this, if she could even handle talking about it. In the end the anger in her made the decision. “Jenny’s back.”

Phillips actually sat back in the chair, she really wasn’t expecting that one. “When?”

“Couple of weeks, I however didn’t know till I ran slam bang into her in another woman’s home yesterday.”

Phillips made another note on her pad. “How?”

“A case I’m working on. The woman owns one of the warehouses that caught fire, we went to question her and…..” she swallowed. “…. and Jenny simply walked in.”

“How did she react?”

Shannon looked over her shoulder. “Don’t you mean how did I react?”

“Actually no. I’m interested in how she did for now.”

Shannon frowned, her head turning back to the window as she thought. She swallowed hard as the whole meeting replayed itself in her head. “She …… she looked how I felt. Gut punched.”

Phillips hid her smile, knowing this was the first time Shannon had looked at it outside of her own pain and feelings. Something she’d been trying to make her do for the last two months. “Well that doesn’t surprise me considering your history.”

Shannon moved back to her chair, now she was confused. “What does it matter what she felt, or what I felt, she didn’t bother to tell me she was back. Hell, I haven’t heard one word from her since I was ………..”

“Go on.”

“Since I was shot. Nothing…. Nada… zip.” now the old anger came out. “So fucking what if she looked gut punched. Good…. at least I wasn’t the only one.”

Phillips waited for the storm to pass, which it always did.

Shannon sat back, crossing her legs, her emotions reined in. she shook her head. “You want to know something stupid doc?”

“I doubt it’s stupid.”

Shannon gave a false laugh. “I felt her. Before she’d even came into the house I felt her. I knew it was her.”

Phillips sat back, keeping eye contact. “You’re talking about the psychic side of Jenny and the connection you shared?”

Shannon looked away briefly, before meeting her eyes. “Yea. But now I know she didn’t feel me. ” she swallowed hard. It hurt when she figured that out. “….. If she did she wouldn’t have looked so surprised. She didn’t feel me. ” her voice tampered off into a whisper. “She didn’t feel me at all………”

Phillips didn’t really know what to say. They’d had long talks about how the case was solved by the psychic and the connection that Shannon felt with her. Even now as she looked across she could see the effect of this on her patient. This was the last thing Shannon had held on too, that that link was still there. She suddenly felt very sorry for Shannon because even over the year Shannon had held on to that as her last hope. She shifted forward, leaning on her desk. “Has it occurred to you that Jenny may be doing this purposely?”

Shannon flinched. “Well that makes me feel a helluva lot better. Thanks Doc.”

Phillips exhaled. “That’s not what I meant. You told me that Jenny had to lock out things because of the day to day pressure of life around her.”

“So?”

“Well maybe she needs to lock you out for a reason. The link as you call it is still there, that well, well she’s blocking.” it was hard for her to form words on this. She was a woman of science of facts of figures and tests. But the mind was different, it was a vast area of the unknown, that’s why she’d chosen psychiatry to help those lost in the unknown. Maybe that’s why she was more open in some understanding into what Shannon felt and Jenny did. She didn’t believe or disbelieve, but she wasn’t going to argue about something someone else believed in vehemently.

“ Shannon . I’d advise you to talk to her.”

Shannon stood up so suddenly Phillips sat back. “No. this is closed. I’m not going into this anymore. Can I go? Am I suspended because of this shooting?”

Phillips sighed, closing the file on her desk. She knew she’d pushed too far. “This wasn’t an official meeting, Grieves just wanted to make sure you were handling things okay.”

“Great. Thanks.” Shannon walked quickly to the door, wanting out of there.

“ Shannon .”

She didn’t want to stop but she did, she waited.

“Pushing her away inside won’t get rid of her. Facing her might put those demons in your nightmares to rest, so you can move on.” she kept back the part of ‘ if you want too.”

Shannon didn’t believe that for a second, but she gave a curt nod before opening the door and leaving.

Phillips sat back, knowing Shannon wouldn’t do anything she didn’t want too, but she also knew that once she’d planted a seed of thought in Shannon ‘s mind, she couldn’t help but to respond to it or act. She closed the file, lifting the phone to call Grieves.

…..

############# # In the rockets’ red glare, bombs burst in the air……# ################.

He turned his head to the direction of the stadium a few streets away, smiling as the words of the anthem carried, they seemed so fitting. He walked across the stone floor, his footsteps echoing against the old stone walls, placing down his package, rising as he looked around, noting the boxes in the corner, he moved to them, pulling each with ease to the far side wall. He didn’t want anything to spoil his work. He stood straight, smiling again at the words of the anthem as they reached full volume, it was as if they were singing just for him. With one last check of his work, he moved silently down the warehouse steps, walking among the passing people, blending in unnoticed. It gave him such a buzz, knowing who he really was and none of those he past seeing it. Soon they’d see, but not yet.

He kept walking until he reached his position in the multi-storey car park opposite, looking down at the warehouse, reaching into his pocket he pulled out the small remote, his head tilted again, his sandy hair fanning his face as he waited, his dark eyes fixed on the horizon. The anthem reached its end, just before the applause started, he ever so gently pressed the button.

His eyes reflected his work, orange, gold, black, red, white, all of it mixed into a pillar of power. Exploding upwards towards the heavens, dragging and pulling, melting anything in its way. His grin widened as it took the shape he wanted, his beacon. Car alarms and building alarms shrieked as the force rocked them, people below ran as debris fell, screaming in pain and horror.

He lent forward, looking down, seeing the chaos. His eyes came up again to the fire, it was all consuming now, tendrils licking their way for any sign of food to devour. His eyes slipped closed in ecstasy as the roar of it grew and still he could hear the applause from the stadium, congratulating him on his work. He froze, stepping back, eyes opening, shifting to the street, his jaw tensed, he thought he’d have more time. He tracked the blue flashing neon and red engine as it neared. Sadly almost, he looked to his child, it was never long enough, he wanted more. Anger sparked as he turned and fled.

……….

Shannon looked at the chaos around her, she’d arrived nearly two hours ago and still she was in slight shock by what she saw, how anyone wasn’t killed was beyond her. She’d been interviewing passersby, injured and uninjured and it all came down to the same thing, they saw nothing, heard nothing until the building fell on top of them. Forensic were in there now picking over the wreckage, she wasn’t going to get anything until they had done their full report. She watched as Jane walked across the street, she wondered if she looked as bad as her. Jane’s face was covered in soot, her walk weary. Shannon closed her notepad waiting.

“Anything?” Jane stopped, drinking deeply from the bottle of water one of the fire guys had given her, she offered it over to Shannon .

She took it, taking a long deep drink. “Not a damn thing. There’s no surveillance on this warehouse at all. He just walked right in, set up his stuff and boom.”

Jane took the bottle back, finishing the last of it, before tossing it to a blacken trash can. “Yea. But he’s not picking on isolated warehouses now. It’s damn lucky no one was killed.”

Shannon wiped her hand back through her hair, feeling the grease and soot and dirt. “Yea. There’s nothing more we can do here till we get the forensic report.”

Jane took a deep breath, wishing for clean air. “I think it’s the same guy. ” she looked to Shannon for confirmation.

Shannon nodded. “Oh yea. But now he’s changed his pattern. Question is why?”

They both turned as one of the paramedics pulled away sirens blaring.

Jane swallowed. “One of the fire guys got caught under falling timber,”

“Shit.” Suddenly Shannon didn’t want to be there, it was dirty, it was tainted, it was wrong so very wrong. She shivered, she could feel something but she wasn’t sure what, she stepped away from Jane, her eyes going up and down the street, stopping on each building, her gaze settled on the large car park on the corner, then she looked back at the burnt building. Without a word she started down the street.

Jane turned to talk to her only to find empty space. “hey.” she took off after her partner.

Shannon didn’t stop until she reached the top floor of the car park, moving directly towards the edge. She stopped, looking down, almost gasping as she now had a perfect bird’s eye view of the warehouse and the hole that was once its roof. She stepped back looking around, her eyes dropping to the floor, she could see her own foot mark in the clay and oil of dirt that cars left behind. She moved along the wall, looking down, not looking up when she heard Jane come running up the stairs.

“What the hell…….”

Shannon held her hand up, stopping Jane in her tracks. “Wait.”

Jane waited, taking the time to give her lungs some oxygen.

Shannon paused by one of the stone beams, crouching down, she saw it, a small indent, it was new close to the wall, no way anyone passing could have left it. A smile began, she knew it, he’d watched from here. “Jane. Call Forensic tell them they got a crime scene up here. The son of bitch watched his work again.”

Jane’s cell was already in her hand, she grinned. It was good to have her boss back.

Shannon made sure not to touch or mark anywhere in the area. She stood straight, looking out and down. She could almost feel it, the power, the pleasure. She stepped away quickly, slightly shook up at the feeling. Taking a breath she moved back towards Jane to wait for the CSI.

….

Claire sipped her wine, watching Jenny, she had been through the whole course of the meal. She’d arrived back on the island late in the afternoon with food in tow. She’d found Jenny quiet and withdrawn, no matter what conversation she started, Jenny just kept to simple replies. She wasn’t sure what had happened in the time she’d been away, one thing she did know it was beginning to annoy her. She sipped her wine again, watching Jenny push her meal around the plate. Coming to a decision Claire placed her glass down. “Mind telling me what’s happened?”

Jenny’s fork paused in its movement. “If I say nothing will you leave it?”

Claire put the last of the cheesecake in her mouth, swallowing. “No.”

Jenny threw down her fork. “I didn’t think so.”

Claire wiped her mouth, placing the napkin down before lifting her glass again. “So?”

Jenny pushed her plate away, sitting back, debating if she really wanted to get into this, she knew what it would lead too. Sighing, she took a drink. “Grieves came to see me today, brought that.” She motioned to the file on the coffee table.

Claire brow frowned for a second as she tried to place the name, then it came to her, she grimaced. “The cop! Jesus can’t they just leave you alone. I hope to god you told him to fuck off.”

Jenny exhaled. Here we go . “I told him no.”

Claire shifted, reaching behind the chair for her bag, pulling out her cigarettes, lighting one right up.

Bud sniffed the air then sneezed.

Jenny tried to keep her temper. “Can’t you smoke outside?”

Claire glared, then snubbed the cigarette out on the plate, Jenny winched in disgust.

“Fine…. Well? What did he say and how did he know you were back here?”

“Nothing, he left the file behind. I would imagine Jane told him.”

Claire didn’t miss the fact she chose Jane and not Shannon as the messenger. It annoyed her. “I know you. You’re thinking about it.”

“No,” Jenny looked down, knowing her eyes would give the truth away.

“Good. Throw it in the damn trash. Maybe then they’d leave you alone. Get into their heads it’s a waste of time.”

Jenny couldn’t help the flinch inside, she knew she shouldn’t bite, her eyes came up slowly.

Claire realized her mistake, the glass paused at her lips. “I …. I didn’t mean that the way you think.”

“I know exactly what you meant. You’ve always hated what I can do.”

Claire kept her face neutral, sipping her wine, before placing it done. “Do you really want to go over this again? You’ve known all along right from the start of us what I thought of ……. well…….. well.” she couldn’t find the word.

“Psychic ability Claire. It isn’t a swear word.”

“I know that. Damn it Jenny you’ve agreed with me this last year that it’s brought nothing but trouble into your life, it’s why you’ve tried so hard to stop it.”

Jenny slapped her palm down on the table, making the cutlery, glasses and Claire jump. “I can’t stop it. It’s part of who I am. Do you have any idea, any! How hard it is to suppress it. I can’t just make it go away. It’s taken me months to build walls strong enough to even keep the whispers out. “

Claire swallowed. “I know. I do know. But look how well you’ve been on it. Remember how I found you in Paris , well you looked like a lunatic………” the word tailed off.

Jenny gritted her teeth. “Say it.”

“I’m sorry. I’m only saying what I saw, Are you denying you were that far gone?”

Jenny looked away. “No.” Even the memory of how lost and out of control she’d been made her shiver.

“Then why even think of going back to that?” Claire exhaled in frustration. “You told me you couldn’t do it anymore. Were you lying?”

“I wasn’t lying…… but I’m not so sure I chose the right path.”

Claire scoffed. “It didn’t look to me like you had a choice in any of it. This seeing things is destroying you, it still is. Look at you. You weren’t like this at my home in Paris . Jenny can’t you see what even thinking about helping is doing to you again?”

Jenny ignored her, her gaze was fixed across the room to Bud in the corner, she could see the rippling of anxiety on his coat. She called him over, surprised when he didn’t move at once. It suddenly became clear to her exactly what she’d been doing this last year, pushing everything and everyone away, shutting them out. She beckoned him again, almost crying in relief when he rose and came to her straight away, tail wagging, licking at her hand.

Claire looked at the action in slight disgust. Dogs to her belonged outside in the yard. “Jenny comes back to Paris with me.”

Jenny closed her eyes, hugging Bud to her more, feeling that heat of love he gave, letting it warm the coldness inside. “I can’t do that Claire I’m sorry.”

Claire shook her head sadly. “You’re going to help them again aren’t you? And please don’t lie.”

Jenny sat straight, keeping her hand moving through Bud’s fur. “I don’t know.”

Claire gave a wry laugh. “Oh yes you are.” she sat forward, taking Jenny’s hand in hers, she could feel it, she was losing her again to this damn curse. “I thought some part of you wanted a normal life.”

Jenny met the gaze. “Maybe I wasn’t meant to have a normal life, have you ever looked at it this way, seeing what I can do as a gift not a curse.”

Claire stiffened, pulling her hand free.

Jenny knew right away what had happened. “I didn’t read your mind. I just know you enough that’s how you see the things I do.”

Claire instantly lit a cigarette. “This is what destroyed us.”

Jenny laughed bitterly. “No Claire what destroyed us was me having to explain day after day that I hadn’t read your mind or read your emotions. Or trying to explain to you I just saw a ten year old boy killed. You couldn’t handle it.”

She blew smoke. “I was supportive as much as I could be, I didn’t understand it okay, I still don’t. I just felt so damn threatened.”

Jenny blinked. “I threatened you?”

Claire looked across seeing the surprise. “Oh come on don’t tell me you never realize that. Jesus Jenny I was on guard nearly every day with you. You sense so damn much, didn’t it occur to you I didn’t want to talk about a shitty day I had, just because you sensed it. I wanted to come home and forget, make love to you and think of nothing but you.”

Jenny shifted uncomfortably.

Claire took a long drag on the cigarette. “Was it so bad living with me?”

Jenny sighed. “No. What was hard was you not believing in me one bit.”

A muscle flinched in Claire’s cheek. “And I suppose Saint Shannon did?”

Jenny’s eyes flared. “She at least kept an open mind. With you I was always fighting and explaining. That’s what destroyed us, because I was tired of fighting.”

“I’m the one that left as I seem to remember.”

“Yes. Because you were tired of it too and I can’t say I blamed you when you finally did leave.”

Claire snubbed out her cigarette, leaning across again taking Jenny’s hand. “I made a mistake.”

Jenny shook her head. “No you didn’t.”

Claire pulled her hand closer. “Yes I did Jen. I knew I had the day I saw you in Paris .”

Jenny couldn’t help it she laughed.

Claire stiffened, hurt.

Jenny quickly held on to her hand as she tried to withdraw it. “I’m sorry. That just sounded so cliché, something out of a romance novel.”

Claire didn’t see the humor in it. “I’m glad to amuse.”

“Claire please. I’m sorry and you didn’t make a mistake in leaving me. We……. we weren’t meant to be together forever.”

This time Claire snorted. “Now that is a cliché Jenny. Is there such a thing in modern life that is forever?”

Jenny smiled. “I’d hope there is.”

Claire saw the sadness return and something else, wistfulness. She swallowed, needing to know something. “Jen.” she waited till she had her attention before continuing. “We’re not ever going to have a second chance are we?”

Jenny shook her head, tears threatening to spill. “No.”

Claire squeezed her hand before letting it go. “Well I’m not giving up.”

Jenny felt the loss immediately. “Is it wrong of me to just want you as a friend? Is that too much to ask?”

Claire rose, lifting her bag from the back of chair, slipping on her jacket. “I’m still your friend Jenny, no matter what and I’m not going to give up on us. But for now I’m going to cut my losses and withdraw from the field of battle. I’ll stop by tomorrow.” she ducked laying a kiss on Jenny’s cheek.

Jenny couldn’t stop the tears this time as she watched Claire walk from her house. Bud nudged at her leg, relieved to be back in his mistress’s life. He could feel the change in her, she was no longer cold, the old heat and sense was there from before. He buried himself against her.

She smiled down at him, then her eyes slipped closed and slowly she began lowering the cage surrounding her gift. She felt it, it was like a bird set free, tingling and running through every vein and pore, soaring, flying. It gave her such a feeling of giddiness she nearly laughed as a sense of herself returned. Yes it brought back all the fears but at the same time gave her the feeling of belonging and peace. The fears she locked away again to face another day. When her eyes opened they were fixed on the file on the table, she rose, lifting it, sitting in the rocker by the window, tucking her hair behind her ear as she began to read, an acceptance fell around her like a cloak, this was what she was born for.

….

“You wanted to see me?”

Grieves nodded to the chair, as Shannon poked her head around the door. “I just got the report through from forensic. It’s the same guy.”

Shannon sat, lifting the file as it was passed across. “We thought as much.” she opened it quickly reading it over.

“Were putting out an alert too all warehouse owners. There’s roughly two thousand one way or the other. We’ve included storage sites.” he watched her carefully. “He’s escalating.”

Shannon nodded, finishing the report, there was nothing new, same M.O same pattern made, same explosives and nothing new on DNA or the why. Something niggled at her from earlier, just as quickly as the thought came it was gone. “I agree. But I don’t know why.”

Grieves sat back, steeling himself for what he knew what was to come. “So you agree we’re behind on this one?”

She shifted. “We know as much as possible. It’s not as if he’s telling us anything yet concerning demands.”

Grieves grunted. “It isn’t going to be long before someone is killed.”

“I know.” she suddenly had a bad feeling.

“I’ve decided to bring someone in on the case.”

Her gut clenched. She met his eyes and without him saying she knew who he meant. “ Newton ?”

He actually felt bad as he watched her pale. “Is it going to be a problem Shannon ?”

She didn’t think she’d heard him use her first before, it threw her for a moment, she squared her shoulders, meeting his concerned gaze. “No sir.”

“Good. Miss Newton only agreed to help on this case if it didn’t cause any concern to you.”

Shannon swallowed hard, she wanted to yell it caused more than concern. But she was a cop, there was an arsonist out there and potential killer as much as she hated this, she knew if anyone could help catch the killer Jenny could. This time she’d stick to the case. But she couldn’t help but feel slight concern for Jenny. “Does she want protection again?”

He hid his surprise. “Actually she didn’t mention it. I’ll make sure she’s protected if that what she wants.”

Shannon just managed to keep the crack from her voice. “I’d appreciate it if you assigned someone else to that sir.”

He gave a curt nod. “I approached her yesterday, she’s back at her home on the island. She wishes to remain there and work the case as before. I sent all relevant files and any evidence down to her this morning. She’ll communicate as and when she has any leads. Up until then you and Emerson will still lead the main investigation, but keeping Newton in the loop. I don’t care how you do it…. If you want Emerson to be the go-between, that’s fine.”

Shannon took a breath. “I’ll keep her in the loop. As I said it won’t be a problem.”

Grieves gave a nod, even though already he knew it was a problem. If he could do this any other way he would have, but right now they needed every piece of help they could get and for some reason he felt time was running out. “Good…” he cleared his throat, getting back to the business at hand. “So, where are we on the employees and owners of the warehouses?”

Glad of something she could keep her mind on Shannon began telling him exactly where they were, the turmoil inside could wait.

….

Jenny moved the picture of the first fire to the top of the wall, placing underneath the main fire report and the diagram of the warehouse its self. She did the same to the following two fires. Stepping back she let her gaze go over each of them. This was a tough one, there was no immediate clue she could see as to what this arsonist wanted. She turned, lifting her soda taking a sip as she printed out the final police and fire report, reading it as soon as it was done. She looked over the small items on the desk in evidence bags, tying her hair up into a pony tail she sat and began her work.

….

Shannon looked up as Jane sat opposite at her desk. “Hi.”

Jane studied her partner, noting the lines around her face; she gave a slight guilty smile. “Hi. Grieves told you then?”

Shannon just pulled open the drawer, taking her gun out. “You told him she was here didn’t you?” she rose clipping the gun to her belt.

“Sorry yea. You okay with her helping?” She winced. Stupid question dumbass.

Shannon paused, looking across. “I’ll survive. Anyway I’m logging out for today. I’ve got to pick my mother up in an hour I need to go back and change. You going to be okay?”

Jane sat back. “Sure. I’ll call if anything comes up. Shopping with your mother eh?” she bit her lip.

Shannon rolled her eyes. “Don’t start, I’ve been avoiding it. If I don’t go this time she’ll set my father on me. ” she added a smile.

Jane suddenly saw how tired she was, how dull her eyes were. She leant forward. “ Shannon . I’ll deal with all the stuff with Jenny okay. You don’t have……….” she stopped as Shannon eyes locked on her.

“I’ll handle it. It’s just another case. Look, don’t stay here all day, go take a few hours this afternoon, get some rest, we’re both wound tight on this one. Okay? We can’t do anything until the fire investigator report comes in.”

Jane forced a smile. “Sure boss.” this wasn’t going to be easy for any of them.

With a nod Shannon headed out of the precinct for home.

….

Jenny stretched her back, hearing the resounding pop in relief, she still hated it when she hunched. She looked at her watch surprised to discover three hours had passed. She placed the pencil done looking at her notes, there was very little there. This guy was either very good at hiding himself or he was very lucky. Yawning she rose, moving through the house to the kitchen, clicking on the kettle, smiling as she watched Bud run past outside, he was very glad to be home. Sighing, she had to admit so was she. The kettle clicked and she quickly made herself a cup of tea, moving with it to the rocking chair. She wasn’t hungry yet but she knew she’d have to eat soon, that was one of the things that went first when she’d left a year ago, appetite, she looked down at herself, she really couldn’t afford the weight she’d lost, she have to get back into swimming. She looked out of the window, smiling without knowing it, as her eyes fell on the sea, it was a beautiful day, calming.

She blinked, suddenly sitting forward, she wasn’t afraid of the outside anymore, there wasn’t one part of her that argued about the dangers, the fear of wanting to be outside, be amongst others. When did that happen? It felt strange to have this part mended, to be part of the world again, that her solitude was a choice and not a demand. Her eyes fell, sad, she knew when it had started, she swallowed. A year ago, everything had started a year ago, all the healing, all the reawakening and it was because of one person. Her eyes slid closed to the other memories, ones she didn’t want to face. She didn’t know what to do about any of it, she knew she shouldn’t have left, but she couldn’t have stayed, she’d become nothing, she had to fix herself before she could fix anything else.

Her eyes opened, a determination set on her face, suddenly she wanted it to be fixed. She placed the untouched tea down on the coffee table, rising with purpose in her step, grabbing her jacket from the rack, lifting Bud’s lead, putting on her sunglasses as she called him to her as she stepped outside, locking the door. He came bounding over, his fur wet from the sea, his jowls smiling as he ran.

“Hey boy. How about a walk?”

If a dog could show surprise this one did, but he didn’t say no, he sat, waiting for the lead to be attached. There was something different about his mistress, something he’d never felt before, something he decided he liked the feel of. He barked, jumping up as the lead was attached, pulling her towards the beach.

Laughing, she rubbed his neck, then taking a deep breath she allowed him to pull her free from the yard and head out.

….

Anne Rhimes looked across at her daughter for the third time, this time she frowned, she knew Shannon hated shopping but this was getting ridiculous, her daughter was miles away. Deciding to test that theory she picked out a little black dress with side slips. “I think Gary would look stunning in this at the reception. What do you think?” no response but a grunt came from Shannon . Anne reached across picking out a bright pink leather bag. “How about this for his honeymoon? I’m sure Mary will love the color?”

Shannon Hmmmmmmmmed

Anne shook her head, taking out another garment from the rack, ignoring the woman not far from them who had overheard the whole conversation in shock. “What about a Barneys outfit? You of course could just turn up in your tinker bell outfit.”

Some part of tinker bell registered, Shannon turned. “What!?” her eyes fell to the garment. “Who the hell’s wearing those?”

Anne smiled at the woman, turning the smile to her daughter. “Oh you’re back with me are you? How nice.”

Shannon was about to argue, when she realized she’d been miles away. “Sorry.”

Anne placed the garments back on the rack, moving to sit next to her daughter. “What’s bothering you? Ever since you arrived this morning at the house you’ve been elsewhere.”

Shannon shifted, her eyes low. “Just this case mom.”

Anne studied her, sometimes her daughter looked about seventeen again. “Well I’m not buying that. But I will leave it for now. Could you at least help me pick out a suit for your brother that he isn’t going to hate.”

Shannon was relieved at the get out card, she rose. “No worries, he’ll be wearing his fire uniform for the ceremony anyway, so anything casual he’ll agree with.” With that she strided away, going and picking out the clothes she knew her brother wasn’t going to have an aneurysm over.

Anne watched, trying to figure out what was bothering her, but as always Shannon hid her feelings well. She sighed rising, going in search for T- shirts for her husband while she was there.

….

Jenny sat looking out over the bay, she couldn’t believe how far she’d walked, she was on the far side of the island now, it wasn’t that much different to her side of it, but it was somewhere she hadn’t been in a very long time. She’d more than enjoyed the walk and now she just sat thinking and watching the world pass by. The solitude of the moment of course meant her brain needed something to do, so it had decided to go over the reports and fire sheets. Jenny had opened herself to the evidence and had gotten very little, only the image of fire, and ecstasy. She hadn’t liked either. The body had a natural fear of this element and it was hard to keep the essence of the power of the flame separate from trying to figure out who was using it. She sighed, tilting her head back, welcoming the warmth on her skin, if she kept this up she was going to start having to wear sun block, for some reason that thought made her laugh.

Bud looked up from the bit of seaweed at the sound, he ran quickly over.

She rubbed his face with both hands. “No I’m not going insane again. I just realized I’m outside and could get sunburn.” she laughed again.

Bud blinked, sometimes humans were just plain strange, with a bark of neither agreement or disagreement he headed back to see what was hiding under the seaweed. He was in his element here, he hadn’t liked the kennels he’d been placed in when his mistress went away and he hadn’t liked the foreign place much either she’d taken him too, the dogs were stuck up. He snorted, digging at the seaweed again, he yelped as he reached his prize chasing after the scurrying crab in glee.

Jenny laughed at his antics, she was sure if he’d been human he would have worn a t shirt which said. “I love long walks on the beach and poking dead things with my paw.” she chuckled, closing her eyes, inhaling the sea air again, letting it seep into her lungs, fill her senses, all of them. There was a joy inside her, suddenly she felt guilty for having that joy as her mind turned to Shannon, she’d looked so ill, so…… . She stopped the thoughts, knowing they were going to drive her crazy. She needed something to focus on until she was ready to face the detective again. Right now she was a coward, a coward because she really didn’t want to face the fact she’d screwed things up so badly there might be no going back.

Leaning back onto her elbows she kicked her shoes off and let her toes dip into the warm sand, closing her eyes as she opened her sense. It was like liquid warmth all the things she felt, the life, the trace of people, the sea. She opened her sense a little further taking her breathing down a notch as the after waves of the past hit her, the fishing boats, the nets laid out along the shore, the storms which battered the eroded wooden posts on the shoreline. She stayed there feeling the freedom of the sea, its tempest, its calms. She stayed with the calm for a long while letting it bath her. Slowly she withdrew, leaving the past behind, coming to the future, for one brief moment she stiffened.

“Shannon.” a whisper sounded in the essence of her mind.

She sat straight, her eyes springing open, her head twisting as she searched up and down the beach, she could have sworn she felt Shannon ‘s warmth, her essence. She calmed her breathing when she saw Shannon was nowhere to be seen. Rising, trying not to admit how rattled she was she picked up her shoes, wiping the sand from her hand as she whistled for Bud. Lazily they both made their way back along the beach. While all the time Jenny kept what she’d felt right out of her mind and body.

Half way back along the beach her mind had returned to the case, knowing there really was only one thing left to do. She pulled her cell phone free, hitting speed dial, swallowing nervously. The phone answered.

Jenny took a deep breath. “Jane. Hi. It’s Jenny.” For a moment only silence was her answer.

“Yea. Hi.”

Jenny swallowed her fear. “I need to go to the fire scenes. I …. I don’t want to go on my own and……” She kicked at the sand at her feet. “I wondered if you could come with me?”

Jane put down the sandwich she was about to bite into. “Me?”

“Yea. I don’t think I…. well.” she moved the phone away from her mouth, taking a breath and swearing at herself to get a grip. “I don’t think calling Shannon would be a good idea and I need to see those scenes…. So if you can’t do it can you arrange someone you trust and get them to take me?” She fell silent well aware she sounded desperate. She waited, more than ready to hear the phone being put down on her.

“I’ll take you. Do you want to visit them all? I can arrange a safe hotel?”

Jenny exhaled. “Yes all of them. I won’t need the hotel, but thank you. I can stay at Claire’s.”

Jane glared at the phone. “I’m sure you can….” she bit back the rest. “I’ll pick you up at the dock first boat out. That’s 10 am isn’t it?”

Jenny didn’t miss the first comment. She exhaled, rubbing at her neck. God her life was complicated. “That’s fine.”

“Right see you there.”

“Jane.”

“Yea.”

“Thank you.” Jenny didn’t get an answer as the phone was hung up. She slid the cell back into her pocket, continuing slowly down the rest of the beach, her home was already in sight. She turned her head, welcoming the breeze, pulling back a stray hair as it came loose. The sun was low now, low enough for her to take her sun glasses off, so she did. She stopped, turning fully to the sight, it was beautiful, the orange of the sun was streaking itself in amongst the dusk as if in one last desperate attempt to stay in the sky. As she stood there she wished Shannon was standing next to her.

….

Shannon opened the door, throwing her keys onto the side bureau, pulling off her light jacket, she rolled her neck. God, shopping was a bitch and shopping with mothers was an even bigger pain in the ass. As she moved to the ice box she knew that wasn’t strictly true. What had gotten to her was her mother’s interrogation, oh it was subtle, but still she’d spent most of the afternoon informing and convincing her dear parental unit she was okay and nothing was wrong. Of course her mother didn’t believe one word of it.

Opening the ice box she pulled out a beer, pssssting the top off on the opener, drinking while she walked across the living room to the bay windows. The bottle paused at her mouth, her eyes glowing in reflection to what she saw, the sunset was magnificent, yellows and reds hung on the edge of night clouds, the colors and grandeur of it transfixed her, she forgot about being angry, she forgot about shopping, in fact for a few moments she forgot everything, then she wanted, truly wanted something so much it made her eyes brim, suddenly she felt it, the touch of breeze on the hairs on her arm, she looked down, it felt so much like….. Knowing what and who it felt like broke the spell. She angrily turned, swigging from the bottle until it was empty, slamming it down on the coffee table and headed into her bedroom, knowing sleep tonight wasn’t going to bring the oblivion she craved. She grabbed her gym bag from the wardrobe and headed out, grabbing her keys before she left, the door slamming in her wake.

.…

Jane fidgeted.

Marcus looked sideways at her, and then returned his gaze to the cinema screen, wondering if it was possible for Angelina Jolie to get any thinner without disappearing under the hat she was wearing in? He frowned looking down at his ticket, ‘The Changeling.’ He still wasn’t sure if he liked this movie or not.

Jane fidgeted again.

“Are you sitting on ants?” he whispered out the corner of his mouth.

Jane fidgeted again. “No.”

He looked at her, smiling at the expression on her face, sometimes she was just so damn cute. His smile vanished when brown eyes locked on him. “Why are you fidgeting so damn much? If you don’t like the movie we can leave.”

Jane sat up then down again, giving a look of apology to the man sitting next to her as her seat squeaked. She leaned across to Marcus. “Actually, yea can we go.”

He was surprised it had been her idea for this movie. “Okay sure.” he rose, following her through the cinema until both of them were outside again, he looked at her in concern. “What’s up?”

Jane always thought that straight to the point was the best policy, no bull shitting, so she followed her code, in one long gush of air she began. “I’m taking Jenny to the fire sights tomorrow. Shannon doesn’t know and I don’t know what the hell to do about it? And I was scared shitless of telling you I was taking her because I know she fucking well hurt you by not telling you she was back in the first place and I mean Jesus she could have asked you on this one too and I feel like such……………..” a hand over her mouth shut her up.

“Breath please.” Marcus smiled, removing his hand.

Jane took a long deep breath. “Are you pissed at me for not telling you sooner or for taking her?”

He smiled again, shaking his head. “No. If I’m going to be pissed at someone that would be Jenny. Besides she couldn’t really have asked me to view the sights of the fires, they’re police controlled. So we’d need permission from you or Shannon anyway, she just went to the source.”

Jane exhaled in relief. “Yea.”

He nudged her. “Still Buddies?” as soon as he said it he felt a regret that they were just Buddies.

Jane nudged him back harder, so that he momentarily lost his balance. “Buddies.”

He shook his head laughing. “Okay cinema is a dud, so how about foooooooooooooooooood.”

She didn’t really have to think about, she liked his company, she nodded to the MacDonald’s on the far side of the car park. “Sure.”

They starting walking, Jane fell into easy step with him. Her eyes gave him the once over, she couldn’t help it she found him attractive, the more time she spent with him the more she wanted. Sighing she shook her thoughts clear returning to less dangerous ground. “You really okay with me taking her tomorrow?”

He shrugged, pausing to open the Macdonald door for her. “Sure. I said before she knows where I am.”

Jane stepped through but not before she caught that wishful look in his eyes, and for some reason this time it really pissed her off, however the next words which came from behind her made her forget those feelings.

“I don’t envy you telling Shannon though.”

She stopped so suddenly he bumped into her. He laughed at the look on her face. “Jane you have to tell her.”

She stepped out the way of passing mother and two kids in tow. “I was hoping the Captain would after I’d left.”

Marcus snorted. “Coward.”

“Damn right I am, she’s armed.”

He grinned. “Don’t I know it.”

They sat down in a booth, waiting until the main line of customers slowed down.

Marcus grinned faltered. “You have to be the one to tell her Jane. I don’t think she’d see it as anything else but a betrayal if you didn’t. Either that or you’re taking sides. She knows Jenny working on the case and she’s as much said to you she wants you to handle it. But she’s still gonna feel hurt if she hears it from the Captain and not you.”

“Aw shit that’s what I was thinking, I’d hoped I was wrong.”

He sadly shook his head.

Jane let her head fall back to the point it bumped the back of the booth. “I’ll call her.” she twitched a smile. “Why do you think she came back?”

Marcus mouth paused on the end of the straw he was about to blow the paper off. “It’s her home.” he didn’t feel much like playing anymore he dropped the straw onto the table. “She left…….. Well she left because…..” he paused, running his hand through his short brown hair. “Hell I thought I knew why she left, but even I’m not so sure anymore. Especially as she came back with Claire.” his jaw tightened.

Jane looked out of the window, noticing the light summer rain. “I thought I knew her too….. Yea know. That she and the boss were ……. well ………. you know.” her eyes came back to him.

He smiled. “Yea I know. So did I.”

Jane looked down playing with the straw on the table top. “After Shannon got….” she exhaled noisily. “….after she was okay after the surgery. I thought Jenny would have wanted to see for herself or at least stay with her.”

Marcus looked away. “She already knew Shannon was okay Jane. The same way she knew Shannon had died.” he swallowed hard this time. He hated those memories, feeling Jenny’s pain as he held her, while Shannon fought for her life and lost. “I think that’s why she left.”

Jane looked to him in question.

His eyes came back to her filled with pain and sadness. “Jenny felt Shannon ‘s Essence stop.” he wished he could make her understand what that meant exactly.

Jane blinked, trying to understand, it was one thing to see Jenny and Marcus doing their spooky shit and watching in amazement. another to believe that Jenny could feel everything around her enough to feel Shannon , just didn’t make sense and she didn’t think she ever could make any sense of it, it came down to faith. She exhaled, shaking her head mentally, faith, yea right. Her gaze came back around to him, one thing she did understand was the pain she saw in the eyes opposite her, she didn’t like it. She reached across surprising him by taking his hand. She squeezed it, giving a smile. “I want…..”

His eyebrows rose, swallowing at the seriousness in the hazel eyes watching him. “You want?” he swallowed again, feeling the warmth of her hand was making it very hard not to cheat and feel what she wanted, but he didn’t

Jane nodded. “Ahuh. I want.”

This time he swallowed till his Adams apple bobbed, his stomach tightened. “Um?”

She leant forward, lowering her voice, caressing the back of his hand with her thumb. Her voice hushed. “I really want a happy meal.”

He blinked, it took all of nine seconds for his brain to register exactly what Jane had just said.

She grinned impishly at him, rising pulling out her wallet. “Want one?”

Marcus couldn’t help it, he burst right out into a full belly laugh till the point people stared.

Jane grinned as Marcus pulled away in his car, she watched until the tail lights rounded the corner. She had a good time with him, when he wasn’t being a first rate asshole he was the most charming man she’d met in a long time. She knew she shouldn’t have teased him but lately both of them had stepped in to the territory of teasing. She grinned again, well, she couldn’t deny she liked that too. Turning she took the three steps to her apartment entrance in one leap, yes it felt good to be wanted and she was nearly sure Marcus was interested, the only thing that stood in the way was Jenny and his feelings. Her smile froze, it always did when she thought of those two and what they had and have. She unlocked the door, stepping into the hallway, choosing the stairs instead of the elevator, needing to run off some of the tension she was feeling and it wasn’t only just a sexual one. She was finding herself more and more jealous of Jenny, she told herself it was absurd, Jenny had made it completely clear to Marcus they were nothing more than friends, it still didn’t stop Marcus from getting that misty, puppy look when he talked or thought of her.

She increased her speed up the stairs, welcoming the burn to her lungs as she rounded her floor, pushing open the fire door. Why couldn’t something be simple for once. As she opened her door to her apartment she knew she’d have to make a phone call that was going to complicate her life more, she didn’t relish it. She pulled her cell free as she pulled her jacket off.

It answered. “Hi Jane. What’s up?”

Jane took a long breath, sitting. “I’m taking Jenny to the fire sights tomorrow, she phoned and asked me.”

Shannon inhaled sharply, sitting up from the reps she was doing, wiping at the thin line of sweat which ran down her temple. “Okay.”

Jane could hear the deep breathing. “If you want me to assign someone else I will?”

Shannon grabbed the towel, standing, rubbing the back of her neck. “No. she needs to feel safe. There isn’t a problem. What time are you picking her up?”

Jane knew damn well there was a problem by the tone Shannon was using. She sat back, suddenly exhausted. “Ten at the dock.”

Shannon nodded, although she knew Jane couldn’t see it. “How many she seeing?” she opened her water, drinking half of it down.

“All of them.”

Shannon swallowed the last in her mouth. “That means she’ll have to stay on the mainland, have you arranged a safe place for her?”

Jane’s eyes slipped closed, hating the next part. “Ah…. no. She …. Well she said she can stay with Miss Randell.”

Shannon crushed the plastic bottle in her hand, seeing what she was doing she tossed it into her bag, shoving the towel in after it, zipping it closed, holding the phone under her chin while she pulled on her sweat top. “Then I guess she’ll tell you if she needs anything else.”

“Yea.” Jane rubbed her eyes. “I’ll do the fire scenes in order.” she paused waiting, but all she heard was breathing. “… You know I’m not comfortable with all this spooky shit boss.”

Shannon grabbed up her bag, walking from the gym, nudging the glass door open with her shoulder. “Just deal with it. What she does works.”

Jane flinched at the tone. “Sure. I was just saying………” she felt like she was betraying her. This sucked. “I’m sorry Shannon .”

Shannon tossed the bag into the back of her car, slamming the top down, stopping to lean against her car, her head bowed. Sighing, she didn’t know why she was angry, it’s what she’d wanted, Jane to handle everything close to the psychic. She turned, unlocking the driver’s door, pulling it open. “No need to be sorry. Just protect her. Keep me updated, night.”

Before Jane could answer the cell clicked, she threw it onto the sofa in disgust. She wanted to slap Jenny silly even after everything Shannon still wanted to protect her, Jenny did not deserve any of it and tomorrow she decided she was going to let Jenny know exactly what she thought of her, case or no case.

….

Jenny loved the feel of the morning breeze on her face as she stood on the deck of the ferry. She’d chosen an area with few people in, her new found freedom still had cracks in it, ones that appeared when she starting feeling the closeness of others and the old fears rose of who they were and were they out to get her. As much as that fear was still there she tried not to let it ruin the feeling of pleasure at being out.

Bud nudged her leg, looking up, the sea breeze making him sneeze occasionally. Jenny lent down enough to pat his head, he “arffeffed.”

She turned her attention to where he was looking, seeing the figure of Jane standing on the dock. She took a long steadying breath and for a moment she was disappointed Shannon wasn’t there, she knew Jane would have had to have told her. She waved back as Jane waved at her. Moving away from the railing she headed down to the lower deck as the ferry pulled into the dock.

Jane took in a long lung of air pushing her anger from the night before away. For one thing she didn’t want to screw up Jenny helping on the investigation and for another she got a feeling if she upset Jenny in anyway Shannon was still gonna shoot her. She watched Jenny make her way along the ferry and for a moment she actually saw how much it took the psychic to do so. She was turning into one hell of an actress in hiding it, but she could tell by the way Bud kept close, he knew it too. She didn’t want to admit it but she still cared enough about Jenny to want her safe and out of harm, including knowing she was okay. She couldn’t help but answer the smile directed at her as Jenny stepped off the ferry onto the keys.

“Hi.” Jane held out her hand for the bag Jenny was carrying. “I’ll put it in the trunk.” she grinned down at the dog. “Hi ya fur ball how you been?”

His answer was to offer a paw. Jane laughed taking it, ruffling his fur before turning to lead the way back to the car.

Jenny followed, well aware Jane was taking quick peeks back at her, she was actually glad she wasn’t the only one who was nervous. Reaching the car, Jenny opened the back door letting Bud jump in, she chose the front seat whether it was offered or not.

Jane came around getting into the driver’s side, finding herself nervous as she clicked the seat belt into place. “So… um?”

Jenny smiled. “How have you been Jane?”

Jane resisted the urge to let her anger out, instead she steeled herself to be polite and not make this day any worse than it was going to be. “Not bad. You?” loaded question number one for the day Jane.

Jenny could feel the tension rolling off Jane in waves. “I’ve been okay.”

Jane fingers tapped on the steering wheel, waiting for more information, when none was forth coming she started the car. “I guess we get down to business then.”

Jenny nodded, turning her gaze out the window, swallowing the lump in her throat. This was going to be so hard, all she wanted to do was ask how Shannon was, but she knew as soon as she saw Jane things weren’t going to be like before.

Jane made it easily through the morning traffic, reaching their first designation in less than half an hour. The whole time the silence in the car hung like an anvil. She was aware of Bud looking at each of them in turn, with a question look on his face, until finally he gave up and fell asleep.

“We’re here.” Jane slowed and turned the car towards the warehouses.

Jenny took in the area, opening her sense slightly, she didn’t pick up anything, concentrating she looked passed the warehouses to where she knew the arsonist had stood. When the car stopped she was already undoing her seatbelt, twisting around to Bud. “I need you to stay here and not eat the car.”

He gave an affronted look, blinking innocent deep brown eyes. Jenny shook her head, not falling for it. “I mean it. No chewing.”

Sighing heavily he lay back down, his mischievous eyes shifting to the left, fixing on a juicy looking armrest, he licked his chops, sighing even deeper.

Jane stepped free of the car, taking a quick check of the area before moving to Jenny’s side and opening the door. Jenny smiled her thanks, moving away from her.

Jane frowned. “Um Jenny. The fire was over there.”

Jenny just kept walking.

Jane muttered, following. “You know the big black burnt area with the roof gone.”

Jenny heard it, barely controlling her laugh before continuing towards the elevated area, she really did like Jane. She turned flashing a smile. “I know.”

Jane exhaled. ‘Great, more spooky shit.’ Shaking her head she followed, knowing to keep some distance. When Jenny stopped she stopped, finding herself watching intrigued as Jenny went statue still.

The psychic took in a long even breath, letting her walls slowly down, kneeling, she closed her eyes searching in her mind. Yes he had stood here, he watched, he breathed the fire. She concentrated harder, rising, turning to face the warehouse and she saw it in all its glory, ablaze, shooting streaks of flame into the sky, burning, consuming, crackling. She could smell the ash in the air, the acid aftermath of flame, feel the heat on her face even from this distance. It, she frowned, no, he was all consuming, the feeling made her shiver. He was totally focused on the fire till the point she couldn’t separate which was which and who was who. She extended her senses a little more till the point she could feel the essence of nature sparking and burning around her, it was like the fire was a shield she couldn’t get through. It started to frustrate her she couldn’t find a way through it, she slowly began to withdraw, distancing her own essence from the entwining flames, bringing the present reality back.

Jane turned her head trying to see what Jenny was looking at so intensely, seeing nothing she turned her attention back only to find Jenny not standing on the ridge anymore. She jolted, breaking into a run. “hey.” she stopped at the rise looking down, exhaling in relief as her eyes fell on Jenny kneeling and touching the soil. “Jesus don’t do that.”

Jenny looked up her face serious, showing the strain of looking into the past. “Sorry. He left this way.” she rose pointing out towards the wasteland to the east, then rubbed her hands together to wipe them of the soil. “He just walked away when he saw the fire department come. He wasn’t scared or hurried he did it all in his own time. Just like when he set the fire.”

Jane nodded, walking down the incline. “Yea. We thought so too. If you keep walking about half a mile you hit the road. Forensic didn’t find any signs of a parked car, but not surprising considering the route is used daily.”

Jenny turned her head, looking back towards the warehouse. “He loves the flames Jane.”

The way she said it made Jane shiver, lighting a foreboding in her gut. “Another…. psycho?”

Jenny head snapped around, getting hit by the huge wave of fear, knowing if wasn’t for herself but for… she shook her head clear, swallowing. “I don’t know yet. Maybe?”

Jane kicked out at a rock. “Well shit.”

Jenny looked back at the warehouse. “Can we go inside?”

Nodding, Jane fell into step with the psychic. “Sure, forensic have finished.”

Jenny wasn’t listening she was already focusing. She followed the way he did, so confident, so sure. Stepping through the burnt doorway she ducked under a fallen steel beam, stepping over burnt debris. She turned her gaze, seeing the area where furniture once stood, the white outline the only reminder, knowing they’d been removed.

Jane hung back at the doorway, just watching, her arms crossed.

As Jenny neared the center she could see where the most devastation had been, like in the report a circle of black charcoal and twisted metal and wood lay approximately fifteen foot in diameter around her. She walked through it grimacing as the wet soil and soot covered her pumps, she shook out a foot to dislodge the worst. Going back to concentrating, she knew the heat from the blaze would have been astronomical. She also knew from the report he’d used an accelerator of petroleum jelly impregnated with lighter fluid, simply painting it where he wanted the fire to go. She stopped, looking at the flash point, noticing the concrete floor was actually chipped, she expected a bigger crater, she knew this was where the ignition source had been, this arsonist was clever, he’d made the detonator out of a model car remote control, using a steel barrel attached to the mechanize that when ignited caused it to turn and crack the small vile of Nitro and spark enough to ignite the Benxium, thus starting the flash point, then the fire would simple follow the accelerator where he wanted.

She looked up into the claw like steel bent and twisted almost like fingers, forming a strange canopy over their heads. Her gaze went back to the huge blacken area, her eyes stopping on the scorched concrete of the source. This part wasn’t as important to him as she would have thought. Something was missing, a reason, she couldn’t feel one, there wasn’t one residue of anger, of power, of revenge, there was nothing. It was if he was simple doing a day to day thing with no emotion involved other then wanting perfection. Yet, out on the ridge she’d felt his emotions, but they were fully focused on the flames, almost like ecstasy. That thought made her swallow, she hated feeling sexual emotions. She made herself refocus her attention. Jenny slowly turned to Jane. “How did he get though the security door? It wasn’t in the report?”

“I know, forensic are having a hard time finding out. No code and no security card were entered to get in, they would have shown up at the main security office, everything is logged coming or going…..The main idea at the moment is he somehow cut the power to the key coder, it was so badly damaged in the fire they’re having trouble finding a trace of anything.”

Jenny frowned, looking back at the flash point then to the distant towards the door. “It’s nowhere near the fire?”

Jane inwardly smiled. “Nope. He used his accelerant on it, covered his tracks. Fire wipes a hell of lot of evidence. Clever shit isn’t he.”

Jenny nodded. “Oh yea.” she took one last look around, before heading back towards Jane. “Can we go to the second?”

Jane nodded, stepping back letting her through first, then followed her back to the car.
Part 2
Shannon couldn’t help it, she tried not to come, tried to go into the station and sit and work. But even as she’d left the apartment and headed out, she’d taken the wrong street and was now where she didn’t want to be.

She watched as Jenny and Jane got back into the car, through the binoculars. Watched as the car pulled away, not needing to follow because she knew where they were headed. She’d stood at the side of the far warehouse watching them enter, needing to keep a distance just in case Jenny had sensed her even though she didn’t seem to do that anymore. She still wasn’t going to take the chance of being discovered and then have to explain why the hell she was there.

She just wanted to make sure she was okay and safe, that’s what she told herself as she jogged back to the car she’d parked right away from the warehouse area. Just wanted to know everything was okay, she told herself as she started the car and headed in the direction of the second warehouse. It had nothing absolutely to do with seeing Jenny again and watching and being close, she told herself as she increased speed over the small bridge.

She looked up at the rear view mirror, seeing her eyes, knowing they were lying eyes, every single thing she was telling herself was bullshit. She couldn’t have stayed away if she’d tried once she knew Jenny was off the island and vulnerable in so many ways. So why was she being a chicken shit and not just walking up to them and saying…. “Hi.”

She changed gear so fast the cogs squealed. She looked at herself again, she knew why, because she was scared beyond belief at finding out the real reason for Jenny leaving and worse still finding out the real reason she came back.

Her eyes held for a brief moment more, before she had to look back at the road and straighten the car into the right lane as an approaching car driver stood on his horn.

….

The second scene was much like the first in appearance, as before Jenny didn’t go directly to the main area she opted to go away into the surrounding flat land towards the rise. She stood, opening her senses immediately getting the hit of ecstasy and sexual arousal. She shut it down fast, feeling dirty, the whole image and feeling made her old fear raise its head, it took to close it away and make her way back to Jane, seeing the worried look on her face.

“I don’t have to tell you he watched from over there?”

Jane shook her head, unsure of why she suddenly felt something was wrong, the fact the psychic had paled so suddenly she thought she was going to faint was enough to make her worry. “Yea….um… you okay?”

Jenny gave a brave smile. “Bad vibes.”

“Ah.” Jane quickly turned her attention to the warehouse. “Wanna go in? Or leave it for another day.”

Jenny so wanted to yell yes, but she knew it would only put off the inevitable, she had a lot of inevitables she didn’t need to stack them up. “I’m fine.” she headed off, smiling reassuringly to Bud as she passed the car, seeing his worried gaze too.

….

Shannon lowered the binoculars, her jaw tense, she’d actually seen Jenny’s panic, recognizing the signs, it took all she had not to run the distance across the warehouse compound and find out if she was okay. Seeing them head to the warehouse made her feelings of protectiveness ease, rising the glasses she watched them enter.

Jenny paused, one hand on the framework of the door, stopping so quickly she felt Jane slip on the wet floor to halt in time. She looked back over the area behind them, seeking, something was there, something watching, but the strange thing was it didn’t seem a threat.

“Jenny?” Jane resisted the urge to look over her own shoulder as she suddenly got the heebie jeebies at the look the psychic was giving to the area behind them.

Jenny blinked, her focus changing to Jane. “Sorry. I…..” she left the rest unsaid, turning, and training her focus inside.

Again Jane stayed back and out the way, but not before finally giving into the impulse to look behind her, shivering and cursing herself at being so weak when she saw nothing.

Jenny followed the same routine she did before, going over the circular area, the explosion was set exactly the same as before, the flash point was evident by the amount of damage in the circle. As she scanned the area she could see where large crates had been cleared, he’d wanted nothing to interfere with his child. She jolted, her brow dipping. “Child?” she whispered the word and still it seemed to echo in the air around her. That thought had come clean and fast into her head, he was thinking it, the whole time he was setting his explosives, making his fire, he was creating a child.

She stepped over a fallen sheet of roofing, almost losing her balance hopping the rest of the way until she was clear. She was now on the far side of the warehouse the furthest from the center point. She turned to face it fully, leaning back against the wall, feeling the coldness of sheeting on her back. What was his motive? She closed her eyes, opening up as deeply as she could, inhaling sharply as she saw him in her mind’s eye. She watched him moving around her, setting the explosive, moving the boxes and furniture, his face shaded in shadow, always in shadow.

Jane looked down at her watch after Jenny hadn’t moved, the time told her it was well over fifteen minutes now, it was like she was in a trance. It made her uneasy, she wasn’t sure if she should interfere or not.

“We can go now.”

Jane jumped, her eyes coming up fast, how in the hell had Jenny gotten across the warehouse? “Right sure….” She used the walk back to the car to compose herself. As she opened the door to let Jenny climb in, she mumbled. “I hate this spooky shit.”

Shannon lowered the glasses as soon as she saw they were on the move again, she turned heading back to the car to follow.

She kept a safe distance each time the two stopped and visited the sights, watching mostly Jenny as she left the car and entered the warehouses, she couldn’t get close enough without being detected either by Jenny or Jane when they went inside, so she’d waited, not so patiently until they both reappeared.

They were now all at the last site. Shannon could tell Jenny was more nervous here, there were people, people close. Just by the stiffness of her body, the way she walked and this time Bud was by her side. Shannon moved to the opposite side of the road from the warehouse dipping into a doorway, watching.

Jenny had the same feeling of being watched as she entered the building, she returned her focus to the task at hand as they climbed the stairs, it had been harder then she thought driving into the area of this warehouse, suddenly she was bombarded with feelings, emotions, lowering her walls all day had made her more susceptible, she’d needed Bud’s nearness to calm her. Even as she climbed the stairs to the floor of the fire, she knew this was totally different, it wasn’t just the fact of the location, nor the fact the fire could have killed someone, it was different because he thought it was different, it was his big statement of ‘here I am. can you see me.’ The fire area was different too; the crater was deeper causing an oval dent in the concrete flooring. She looked up, the damaged area above was very much the same, she looked back at the indentation, she’d have to remember to check the explosion report to see what was the difference, because this wasn’t accidental, he somehow was directing and tempering his charges to cause this? Her eyes followed the damage around, she could tell now the escalation in both location and damage were all done purposely.

She walked over to Jane. “Can you hold him while I look around?”

Jane nodded, taking the lead, kneeling so she could rub his fur. Then both their eyes followed Jenny. Bud licked his chops, he didn’t like this place, it smelt very very bad.

Jenny walked the whole area, slowly, methodically. This building held lots of different past essences, she knew it would, just by seeing the age of it on the report, so she’d done a quick history of the building, needing to know what had been there before so she could sort out what she’d knew she’d feel when she opened.

She hadn’t been wrong, exhaling as she felt all the essences seep into her as she opened fully.

She could smell the hemp that was used for the hug nets, hear the repetitive sound as the cotton Jenny turned, hearing now the muffled sounds of long lost conversations, feel the tiredness, the pains of all who worked there. Her inner vision stuttered to a new time of the past, now she could hear heavy machinery, smell the gunpowder, oil, metal, feel the essence of mostly woman on lines completing tasks, feel a certain camaraderie, and feeling of contributing, also fear, fear for loved ones. She smiled as she heard the ghostly sounds of Tommy Dorsey and Glen Miller as the music seemed to fill the whole warehouse. She stilled, her smile freezing, there was something else, dark, old, a deep distant beat made her heart meet the tempo, she took a long breath, trying to focus on it trying to push past the veil of time. Then it faded, just as suddenly as it had appeared in her senses. She tried to find it again, but now it was long gone. Her focus came back to Tommy Dorsey, ghostly tunes.

She pushed past the echoing music and ghosts, bringing her world into a sharp focus, her throat tightened as she saw the shadow of him again. Sometimes she wished she could see a face it would make things so much easier. She followed him across the room, stopping when he did, watching him set the charge and…….. she paused, her face creasing, what was he doing? She inhaled, focusing her sense, pushing, trying to see. Was he praying? She pushed harder.

Jane’s eyes widened, she rose slowly, hearing Bud whimper, she wasn’t even sure if Jenny was aware her nose was bleeding. She made to move forward only to have Bud yank back on his collar causing the lead to pull taunt. She looked down at him, he simple lay down, his eyes going to Jenny. Jane got it, no touching. She slowly knelt back down, surprised when Bud nuzzled into her.

Jenny pushed, she pushed till she felt the blood vessels in her brain scream in protest, she didn’t want to but she had to let go of the thread, she inwardly backed off, bringing the present back into focus, her eyes opening, surprised to see Jane standing in front of her offering a tissue.

“You…. you’ve um.” she motioned to the psychic’s face.

Immediately Jenny’s hand went to her nose, her palm coming away red, she took the tissue dabbing at it. “Yea it happens sometimes.” she hated the taste of blood on her lips.

Blowing her nose she went to the windows, some of which were broken by the heat, while others had been broken over the course of time. She stood on tiptoe looking down into the fractured view of the street through a broken pane. She resettled, her eyes going to the buildings around, knowing from the report he’d watched from the car park to the far right, she wondered how they’d come up with that. An answer came into her head. ‘Shannon.’ her eyes flickered to the street below, feeling the watcher again and suddenly it was so familiar, she drew in a sharp breath, knowing now who it was, recognizing the warmth, it almost made her want to cry, she’d shut it away for so long, it now coated her. She felt Jane approach, getting herself under control as she turned.

“You okay?” Jane was beginning to feel like a parrot asking it constantly, but once again she’d seen a change in the psychic, she noticed now, just like Shannon had done. There were a lot of things she noticed about Jenny, and seeing the physical strain and human side, she was starting to lose some of her anger. What must it be like to have such a gift or was it a curse?

Jenny managed a small smile. “I am now.”

Jane frowned, she hated it when the psychic went mystic. “Okay then. Where now? The car park?”

Jenny shivered. “No. I know what I’m going to feel there and quite frankly I already need a bath.”

Jane wasn’t surprised at that one. She couldn’t even imagine what it felt like to tap into someone who was scum. “I’ll take you to ……. well, to Miss Randell’s then?” she held out the lead.

Jenny took it, suddenly feeling sad as Jane walked away, feeling the openness they’d began to have through the day being shut tight against her, maybe she should explain about Claire. Sighing she followed Jane from the room and down the stone steps of the warehouse, knowing that explaining it would lead to having to explain other things she really wasn’t ready to go near, especially not with Jane.

As they exited the building, heading back towards their car, Jenny couldn’t help it, she smiled as she felt the watcher again.

Shannon knew where they were headed, but like a bad dream she couldn’t pull herself away. She couldn’t go until she knew Jenny was safe even it were in a place that made her want to be sick. She reached over needing something to settle her, pressing the on of the radio.

“That was Madonna. Wow can that woman still belt out a tune, you’re listening to KWJL…. The station with sunshine in its smile.”

Shannon scoffed. “Yea right.” she was just about to reach across when the next song started, her hand froze, then slowly withdrew. She knew it, she’d heard it not long after getting out of the hospital, it seemed too been played on every damn station, everywhere, in her apartment, at her mothers, in the physio waiting rooms. She gritted her teeth, unable to turn it off, she couldn’t because she liked it, she couldn’t because she hated it, she couldn’t because it was the truth of her. It amazed her how songs seemed to hit the nail on the head in life. She swallowed, as the lyrics to Kelly Clarkson Addicted, started.

It’s like you’re a drug…..it’s like you’re a demon I can’t face down.

Her eyes fixed on the car ahead, knowing the memories it was going to evoke, fleeting glances into the past of them, bittersweet torture you welcome and wish you could get away from at the same time.

It’s like I’m stuck…. it’s like I’m running from you all the time.

Her knuckles went white as she grabbed the wheel harder.

And I know I let you have all the power…. it’s like the only company I seek is misery all around.

She swallowed hard, her eyes closing briefly, as the flashbacks started.

The first touch of power between them. “What was that?” Jenny staring at her in shock. “I … I don’t know.”

It’s like you’re a leech sucking the life from me…..it’s like I can’t breathe, without you inside of me…

Watching her go over the crime scenes, seeing her fear, feeling the power, looking down at the raised hairs on her arm, looking back at Jenny and knowing it was her.

And I know I let you have all the power…. and I realize I’m never gonna quit you over time.

Jenny bathed in the moonlight… Feeling her lungs lose their air, feeling her world narrow to just that moment. The beauty of it….. The beauty of Jenny.

It’s like I can’t breathe.

It’s like I can’t feel anything…. nothing but you.

Grabbing her when fear struck Jenny she was lost, holding on so hard to her till she felt part of Jenny slipping away, the terror, screaming, “Jenny!”

I’m addicted to you.

It’s like I can’t think…. without you interrupting me, in my thoughts, in my dreams….you’ve taken over me.

Watching her leave the room after, feeling the tingling of touch of warmth spreading, feeling Jenny’s essence running through her veins.

It’s like I’m not me.

Wondering who she was anymore.

It’s like I’m not me.

Shannon couldn’t help the tear falling down her cheek, any more than she could help breathing.

Jane was fed up with the silence, she’d never been one for small talk, having enough she reached over clicking on the radio. “You don’t mind do you?” she asked as Jenny looked at her.

It’s like I’m lost…. it’s like I’m giving up slowly.

“No it’s fine.” she was well aware of the tension growing as they neared Claire’s house. Just as she was about to turn her head to watch the passing scenery, she stilled, she knew this song, for a moment she nearly told Jane to change channel.

It’s like you’re a ghost that’s haunting me…. leave me alone.

But it was too late, the wall was open the song the unlikely key she had no defense against, the images exploded from her so fast she gasped.

Their accidental first touch, the electrically impulse that broke through her exile.

And I know these voices in my head are mine alone and I know I’ll never change my ways, if I don’t give you them now.

Watching Shannon running on the beach, feeling her essence, the warmth, the safety, the fact it scared her so much she wanted to hide as fast as she could.

It’s like I can’t breathe. It’s like I can’t feel anything…. nothing but you.

I’m addicted to you.

Trying to concentrate on the case and feeling Shannon watching her, her blue eyes violet, caressing her body till the point she glowed.

It’s like I can’t think…. without you interrupting me, in my thoughts, in my dreams, you’ve taken over me.

So lost, that darkness seeped into her soul, finding the glowing thread, the warmth, following it. Only to wake up in Shannon ‘s arms knowing what had happened.

It’s like I’m not me.

Standing under the shower feeling Shannon ‘s essence flowing inside of her and knowing she’d never be the same again.

It’s like I’m not me.

Shannon wanted to reach across and turn it off, but she couldn’t, the images wouldn’t take no for an answer now, the song fueled them.

Jenny smiling for the first time, feeling her guts tightened at the beauty of it.

I’m hooked on you. I need a fix I can’t take it.

Just one more hit I promise I can deal with it.

Jenny scared, wanting so badly to wrap her in her arms.

I’ll handle the quitting, just one more time then that’s it.

Jenny mad, throwing a book at her.

Just hold it open once you’ll get me through this.

Shannon slammed her hand into the car frame, hoping pain would break the spell.

Jenny closed her eyes, her nails nearly digging into her hand.

Shannon sitting in the rocking chair, just her blue eyes visible in the darkness.

I’m hooked on you… I need a fix I can’t take it.

Being so scared all she wanted was Shannon to gather her in her arms and tell her it was alright.

Just one more hit I promise I can deal with it.

Shannon angry, arguing with her about Marcus.

I’ll handle the quitting, just one more time then that’s it.

Just hold it open once you’ll get me through this.

Jenny pulled in a huge lung full of air.

It’s like I can’t breathe.

It’s like I can’t feel anything…. nothing but you.

Shannon jaw tightened as she watched the car slow, aware that Claire would be waiting.

I’m addicted to you.

Jenny didn’t wait, she threw open the door, quickly getting Bud from the back. Ignoring Jane’s surprise, her lungs hurt, her body hurt, her soul hurt.

Jane started in surprise, getting out moving to get Jenny’s bag out.

It’s like I can’t think, without you interrupting me, in my thoughts, in my dreams.

Shannon stopped the car, watching Jenny get out, her eyes drinking her in, feeling the warmth, feeling the essence.

You’ve taken over me.

Jenny turned, locking eyes with the surprised blue ones further down the street. She’d felt it too.

It’s like I’m not me.

Both translucent green and blue eyes held.

It’s like I’m not me. It’s like I’m not me.

Still eyes held, until Shannon broke the stare first, needing to breathe, quickly starting the car and pulling away, fighting the urge to go back .

Jenny sadly took her bag from Jane, pulling Bud to her as she walked up the driveway to the house and Claire who was waiting for her on the porch.

Jane stood wondering what the hell had just happened. She looked back over her shoulder following Jenny’s gaze further up the street, inhaling sharply as she recognized the back of the departing car….. Shannon. Damn it she hadn’t even realized they were being followed. Seeing Jenny was safe, she quickly got back into the car, and pulled away heading back to the station and a conversation she really didn’t want to have.

….

He sat, legs tapping to the beat of the song, his eyes fixed on the components laid out in front of him, picking up the small C battery, gently placing it in the center of the steel canister, completing the circuit board, when it was secure he lifted the tiny glass vile, inserting it into the foam mold where it fit perfectly. His last task was to shape the Benxium around the whole inner casing, he liked this part it reminded him of playing with play-doh when he was young, he hummed to the tune as he finished. Next was the placing of the lid, he sprayed the interior first to wet it down, he didn’t need it going off at the wrong time and Nitro was unstable at the best of times. When he had soaked the foam inside enough he placed the lid back on, gently screwing in each tiny screw.

He sat back admiring his work, a smile came to his face, one of contentment, one of peace. He rose, moving to the map on the wall, a map which highlighted all his targets. The next one pleased him, because this one he knew they’d know and see. He pulled on his jacket, smoothing down his hair, going back to the work bench, lifting the rucksack, placing carefully the canister inside, along with the plastic bottle which contained the petroleum mix, zipping it closed, he switched off the CD and left.

….

Shannon looked up guilty as Jane pushed her way through the two main doors of the precinct, she could tell she was pissed.

Jane kept silent, simply staring at her, removing her gun, placing it in the draw, slamming it shut so hard, Shannon flinched. Then calmly Jane sat. “So. How was your day?” she didn’t bother hiding her sarcasm.

Shannon dropped the pencil, sitting straight. “I’m sorry I should have told you.”

“You’re damn right you should have. What was the point? Didn’t you trust me enough to protect her?”

Shannon shook her head vehemently. “No. it was nothing like that. I… I …” she sighed. “I had to do it, I tried not to, but I still found myself following you. It wasn’t because I didn’t trust you. I … needed to see her.”

Jane exhaled, sitting back some of the anger leaving. “How long were you following?”

Shannon looked up sheepishly.

Jane threw her hands in the air. “Oh great the whole fucking time…. Just great. Some detective I am, hell some psychic she is……” she paused. “Wait…. she did feel you….”

Shannon looked up, a small glint of hope showing before she could cover it.

“In the second warehouse she knew you were there, then at the last she was sure of it. Well shit…. it’s nice to know I’m the last to find out anything like always.”

Shannon couldn’t help it a small part of her sat up and went yeaaaaaaaa. She wasn’t sure if Jenny had felt her or gotten lucky outside of Claire’s house. A small smile formed.

“What’s so funny?” Jane crossed her arms, not pleased with the reaction.

“Not you…… just, well she felt me.”

Jane rolled her eyes. “Oh brother give me a break…. I need coffee.” she rose, reaching back into her jacket tossing Shannon her note pad. “Read that it pretty much tells you everything she found out. She gave it to me in the car after the last warehouse. She’s been scribbling in it all day, told me to give it to you.”

Shannon grabbed it and started reading, it was pretty much what she expected, Jenny’s thoughts and feeling were written almost clinically, giving away no emotions except what she’d felt off of the essences. The one thing she didn’t like as she read was the fact this guy thought of the fires as his children. She swallowed, she so didn’t need another fruit loop. Jenny’s last notes were on the fact this guy is comfortable around explosives, this wasn’t an amateur, he’d worked with or around them before, possibly ex-army, demolition or fire department.

Shannon sat back, pushing the chair away from the desk, stretching out her legs from the cramping. That wasn’t exactly new information, their own investigating had come up with pretty much the same, but just the fact Jenny thought it, meant it was true, Jenny didn’t make mistakes. She looked across as Jane placed down a mug of coffee. “Am I forgiven?” she lifted the mug, resisting the urge to check it for salt or something worse, she took a sip.

Jane smirked. “I didn’t doctor it, although I was sorely tempted and yes you’re forgiven just let me know next time you’re there. “ She sat, drinking from the mug…. “I feel like such an ass that I didn’t know.”

“Sorry.” Shannon looked down.

Jane smiled, shifting her chair into place. “So….. What do you think of the report?”

“He’s escalating towards something bigger. This isn’t politically or revenge for something done to him.” she took a long gulp of coffee, thinking. “….Jenny thinks next time he won’t care about loss of life. The early warehouse fires were tests, perfecting his art…. I agree.” she felt that niggle again, trying to search her brain for what was it, but again it allude her. She mentally shook her mind clear. “….he wants something and we just don’t know what yet.”

Jane nodded, she’d read the notes too. “Yea. What I don’t get is why Jenny can’t see what he’s going to do next. She sees future things. Right?”

Shannon looked down at her hands, her fingernail picking at the cuticle around her thumb. “she only does when…. when she connected and it’s only been twice.” she swallowed hard, remembering what she saw when Jenny touched her, knowing it was her getting hurt, ignoring Jenny’s warning. She swallowed again. Yea and look how that turned out.

Jane knew immediately what Shannon was talking about. “Oh…..yea…sorry.”

Shannon shrugged, taking the mug in her hands to give them something to do, she focused her thinking. “So where too now? How do we find this guy?”

Jane shook her head, leaning back in the chair. “We’re already doing pretty much what we can. We’re checking all ex army in the area, ex fireman, fireman, anyone to do with demolition. You’d be surprised at how few there are on the Keys. We’ve got the FBI helping on checking Nitro suppliers and any that might have been stolen. Since 9\11 the paper work to stock or sale it is kept in the central files along with any other explosive material or compound used to make explosives….. Also anyone who has worked or working with explosives since 1997 has to have their fingerprints taken and is on file. That one is going to take longer, it covers the whole of the United States and most of Europe. Interpol are helping…….I know one thing, forensic are impressed he knows how to make his own Benxium ……. Other than that….” She sat forward with a thump… “It’s about waiting.”

Shannon looked away, she’d known pretty much everything Jane was going to say, she’d hoped something new had come to light over the afternoon she was away. Her voice was low, filled with frustration. “Yea. Isn’t it always.”

Jane watched her closely as she drank the last of her coffee, she wished she knew what was going on inside her head. She saw some of the spark return when Shannon was doing police work, yet, it went so quickly when Jenny was mentioned, part of her wanted to bang their two heads together while the other part wanted to take Shannon so far away Jenny would never get to her again. She didn’t think Shannon could survive a second time.

….

Claire laughed. “Are you serious, she followed you the whole day?”

Jenny didn’t like the laugh. “I don’t see anything funny.”

Claire shook her head, still chuckling. “You wouldn’t. Jesus I know you told me she was an honest cop, which I found hard to believe, but god, she so damn gallant it’s sickening.”

Jenny deliberately bit her lip looking out across the lawn. What she was thinking was bitchy and she didn’t want to get into a bitch fest with Claire.

Claire sighed, seeing Jenny wasn’t finding anything the least bit amusing. “So, why didn’t she just come up and say hi, or join you both at the beginning of it.”

Jenny’s head snapped around so fast, Claire actually flinched.

“Do you really think it’s going to be easy for her to be anywhere around me Claire? Do you? After what I did?” The anger came fast, and just as fast it went. She shook her head slowly. “I don’t blame her one bit she didn’t join us, or let us know she was there. I made it quite clear I didn’t want her to know I was back, so why should she make the first move…. You’re right the part of her that wants to protect is why she did it. It’s who she is.”

Claire reached over, her hand hovering for a moment before she took Jenny’s hand. “Maybe she needs to do it this way, get used to being around you again.”

This time Jenny laughed, it was bitter. “You don’t even believe that. But thanks for trying.” She rose, deliberately breaking skin contact. “I need a bath.”

Claire simply nodded as she watched her leave, her eyes went to the street, checking to see if there were any cars she didn’t know. She didn’t like it Shannon had taken to following Jenny around, to her it reeked of stalker.

….

Shannon looked up from the computer when she heard her name called, twisting towards the source.

“Warehouse on thirteen and third, just had a silent alarm go off. I’ve got two cars on the way there.” Before the Captain had finished, Jane and Shannon were already up and heading out the door.

“WAIT FOR THE BOMB SQUAD.” He knew even as he yelled it they hadn’t heard.

Shannon didn’t think she’d ever get used to Jane’s driving as long as she lived, she thanked god as they pulled to a halt at the end of the sealed off street. Her eyes taking in the police tape and blockades which cut off the lower part of the street into two. Getting out of the car she looked around, she inhaled sharply seeing the school opposite the warehouse which now had a line of blue, directing people quickly out and into buses and away from the area.

Jane came up next to her, following her gaze. “The school is cleared. The Sergeant says the last of them are leaving the offices next door to the warehouse. Bomb squad are ten minutes away, in another five we’ll have the whole area cleared. It’s a lot easier when people know there’s a fire scare, they don’t answer back at us pushing them around.”

Shannon gave a small sigh of relief, looking out and around the buildings. “How long ago was the alarm tripped?”

Jane nodded to a man dressed in a blue suit looking harassed by the police car. “Mr. Duncan is head of Inland Key security, this warehouse was only set up with the new alarm a week ago. Because of the alerts we’ve sent out he didn’t want to take the chance it wasn’t just rats chewing the wires. It went off about half hour ago.”

Shannon stepped more into the empty street, turning her head up, directing her gaze to the rooftops, trying to figure out where he could be watching from if she were him.

Jane shifted. “Boss what you want to do?”

Shannon took in long breath, her eyes flitting to the warehouse. “I want to go see what set off the alarm.”

Jane’s face paled at the same time her eyebrows rose. “No we don’t. What we want to do is sit here till the nice bomb squad people arrive and tell us it’s rats.”

Shannon smiled. “You asked me what I wanted to do Jane… Relax, I’m not stupid enough to act on it. Besides, he isn’t going to be where the device is.” she pointed up and across the street.

Jane followed the digit, settling her gaze on the building in question. An old ten storey with cob stone brick work and lined high windows, with a wrought iron fire escape which snaked itself along the edge of the building, part of the city that was built in the 20’s, very art deco.

“If I were him…. That’s where I’d go. It’s got a clear view of the warehouse and us. By the look of it it’s under some sort of renovation so it’s empty.”

Jane grinned. “I’ll take the back…. I’m thinking ninth floor? If he goes to the roof one of the Police or News choppers would pick him up.”

Shannon answered the grin. “Ninth sounds good. See you there.”

They both headed out in a light jog, not drawing their weapon until they were well under the building. Shannon placed the ear piece in. “How you doing?”

Jane looked up into the spiral of the rising staircase. “Well I’m going to get a workout at least…. Starting up now.”

Shannon smiled, hearing Jane’s deep breathing as she started to climb the stairs. She looked up at much the same sight, then steadily she started up hers too, already feeling the adrenaline pumping, god she’d missed this. Reaching the ninth, she paused to catch her breath and calm the adrenaline, gently she push on the fire door, easing it open with her foot, both hands on her gun, slipping her body through the gap, back against the wall as she let the door close. “I’m on nine. Southwest entrance.” Her voice was kept low as she talked into the collar mike.

She let her eyes take in the vast room in front of her, she hadn’t been wrong the whole building was going through a huge refit. Even as she walked across the new wood floors and newly plastered ceilings and walls, she felt the eeriness of an old building made new seep into her. Plastic sheeting hung like shrouds, empty frameworks of wood waiting for the partition walls to be erected. The light source, the big windows which lined either side, but some of those had been boarded up, which meant there were moments her eyes had to adjust to the change in light, leaving blank spots.

“On nine northwest corner. Heading in boss.”

“Okay.”

Shannon kept her gun up, sweeping the area each time as she turned and walked further into the center of the room. A scaffolding stood in front of her now, towering up till it reached the ceiling, shrouds of plastic hanging down from it as if it were caught in the process of doing the dance of the seven veils. Shannon winced as her foot falls echoed, she stilled, listening, had she heard something? “Jane? Where are you?”

“About three foot in the room, this place is huge.”

“Yea.” Shannon swung round quickly when she was sure she heard a sound again, only to be met with more metal and paint and wooden floor boards. Her eyes traveled upwards, seeing an open skylight and a wire hanging down, its clink sound echoing again as the wind blew, suddenly the sound of flapping clapping wings made her swivel to her left, still looking up as she saw the dove fly out of the skylight. She calmed her beating heart, exhaling. “Jane can you see scaffolding near the center of the room?”

There was a pause. “Yea.”

“I’m on the far side of it. I’ll meet you on the other….”

“Roger that.”

Shannon started to make her way through the loose plastic sheeting, stepping over a pile of new floorboards, as she was just about to bring her other leg over she froze…. her face paled, her skin broke out in sweat. There on the floor sat a long steel cylinder.

Jenny shot straight up in the bath, her eyes springing open, water cascading everywhere. “Shannon!”

Shannon swallowed again, gently she brought her leg over the rest of the way easing it down as if just that movement would set off whatever it was. Oh yes she was sure this didn’t belong anywhere near this place. She looked up sharply as a shadow fell, relieved beyond belief it was Jane.

Jane’s eyes widen. “Oh shit.”

Shannon didn’t wait any longer her body was a coiled spring, she ran, surprising Jane as she powered towards her, grabbing her arm and twisting her around, pulling her along with her by brute strength. “RUN!”

Jane didn’t need telling twice, even though she was smaller framed she gave it her best shot to keep up with Shannon as she threw open the fire door and started down the stair way.

Both of them were one level below when the whole world exploded and debris began to rain down, then darkness.

Jenny gripped the edge of the bath harder, her whole point of focus was the feeling running through her, danger, Shannon, explosion, she was oblivious to Claire hammering on the door or Bud’s barking.

Then the feeling snapped, she jerked. “No….. oh no.” she rose so fast she slipped, regaining her balance enough to jump out, she threw open the door and nakedly ran to the bedroom.

Claire just stood open mouthed, while Bud was hot in pursuit.

Jenny dressed quickly, fighting with the clothing as it came into contact with her wet skin, when she had enough clothes on to not be arrested she ran from the bedroom calling Bud to her side, past Claire who was trying to get some sense out of her, she grabbed Claire’s car keys and cell phone, then ran as fast as she could to the car, the whole time all she could feel was darkness and flame.

….

Jane coughed, the action loosening the dust on her hair, which only made her cough more. “Sh…A…n.” she tried again spitting the muck from her mouth, trying to look around but only seeing darkness. “Hey… Shannon.”

“Yea……” Shannon used all her strength to push the huge piece of plaster from her side, wincing as her shoulder pulled. “I’m here.” she blinked trying to see through the darkness, suddenly her eyes hurt as a flame sparked. “Jesus.” now she had a flickering view of her partner, in any other circumstance she would have laughed at the amount of white dust that coated both of them, but right now she was more worried by the smell of burning and heat she could feel coming from above, her eyes shifted to the flame. “Jane.”

“Yea.” Jane’s attention was on the blocked stairway below, wondering how the hell they were going to get out of this one.

“Do you think it’s really a good idea to have a naked flame lit right about now? I can’t smell gas but I don’t want to take the risk.”

Jane stilled, her eyes going wide, slamming the top down on the lighter. “Sorry.” she muttered cursing herself.

Shannon couldn’t help it she chuckled, it was actually funny the look she’d seen on Jane’s face before the world went dark again.

Jane banged her head. “Well shit.” she sat down. “Don’t suppose you got a torch?”

Shannon sat back, trying to breathe without coughing. “Right now I don’t even have my gun and my cells toast. How about yours?”

Jane snorted. “I left mine in the damn car, we were on mikes anyway and they can’t get through this shit…..” she coughed. “…..Don’t worry about the gun I have mine, I’ll shoot us before the air runs out.”

Even in the dark Shannon knew Jane was grinning. “Thanks.” She coughed, a dry cough that hurt her lungs. She looked up again seeing the glow of the fire, at least one thing was on their side, he doesn’t go out for all out burning down the building, he focused his fire.

Something cracked so loudly from above both of them jumped, a thick veil of dust descended.

Then again there is always a first time he changes . Shannon thought wryly.

Jane shifted around, using her hands till she found Shannon, feeling her body tense at the touch. “You hurt?”

Shannon relaxed again. “I whacked my shoulder into the wall when the damn thing went off…. I’ll survive.”

“So….we can’t go up…. we can’t go down?”

“Nope.” Shannon lifted her butt pulling out something round and hard and threw it away.

“There is a problem of us being here you know?”

Shannon exhaled, wishing she hadn’t as it started off another coughing fit. “Yea…… no one knows we’re here….”

Jane shifted until her back hit wall, then she relaxed as much as she could. “Shannon?”

“Yea.”

“We really must start telling people what we’re doing you know. It would so less complicate things.”

Shannon’s answer was a snort, which led to a hacking cough.

.…

Jenny wasn’t sure where she was heading, all she had was an image of Shannon hurt and fire. It had been years since she’d driven a car, mainly because of her eyesight being too bad. She stopped at the intersection, looking left then right, unaware that Bud in the back seat was making the same movements.

She slapped the wheel. “Come on come on which way.” she threw out her sense in each direction hoping from something, anything, nothing came back, just the foreboding that Shannon was in deep trouble. Bud’s bark made her jump and turn her attention to him, following his line of sight, she saw it, three lanes away traveling down a street on the left, a fire truck, siren and lights going. She grinned, giving Bud a quick hug before gunning the engine and following.

….

Jane shifted, she was sure she could feel heat coming off the wall behind, completely blind and relying on the other senses she tentatively felt along the wall, wincing as her hand came onto a very hot spot, she backed away. “Um Shannon.”

Shannon looked up in the general direction of Jane. “Yea?”

Jane backed up even more when she felt the heat rising. “I think we have a problem.” she moved back until she was right next to Shannon.

“Another one?” Shannon swallowed, not liking the fear that was creeping into her partner’s voice.

“I think there’s another fire on the far side of that wall I was just leaning against, it’s getting hotter.”

Shannon squinted, focusing, for a while she didn’t see anything, then she saw it a small orb, red hot and getting hotter, the concrete was starting to glow.

Jane saw it too, looking around, standing, using her hand to make sure she didn’t whack her head, edging until she felt the blocked downward stairway, grabbing hold of masonry and wood and started shifting it out the way.

Shannon thought it was a waste of time, even as she shuffled on her knees to Jane and started to lift out the loose pieces, the larger ones neither of them were every going to move. But at least they were doing something, rather than waiting to burn to death. Neither of them spoke as they worked and all that could be heard was the grunt of exertion and coughing.

….

Jenny got out of the car, stepping up onto the SUV ledge to look out over the traffic. The tailback went right the way across to the next street, it was barely moving. She made out the fire truck as it headed off down a side street under police escort, there was no way she could follow in the car. Grabbing Buds lead, pulling him from the back, she slammed the door shut and began to run, hating the feeling that time was running out. She turned down the side street, only to come out into heavy foot traffic, all of it going the same way, the wrong way to her. She could now make out the police line and fire trucks, she swallowed when she realized the acid she could taste and smell was smoke. She took off again, this time it was slow going against the tide of people who were heading to safety.

Bud barked and nipped at the people who tried to tread on him, growling when a boot was aimed, yelping as his lead was tangled, he stepped right, causing Jenny to jerk back. When she saw what was happening she stopped, bending to him.

“You’re coming off the lead…. But I need you to stay with me okay, Shannon needs us.”

He straightened, his brown eyes serious, waiting. As soon as the lead was off, Jenny turned running, with Bud tight on her heels.

….

“That’s the sound of the men working in the chain…….. gannnnnnnnnnng. That’s the sound of the men, working in the chain….. gang.”

Shannon looked sideways at Jane even though she couldn’t see her. Her eyebrows rose as “chain gang’ was met with a clank on a pipe.

Jane started up again. “All day long they……….”

“Jane.”

“Hmmmm”

“Can it!”

“Right.”

….

Jenny managed to push her way to the front of the long line of spectators standing in front of the police blockade, she felt Bud bark and snarl at someone behind her and felt the pressure give a little as he cleared a path. She called him to her, he was there immediately, she didn’t look down, because her eyes were fixed on the building ablaze in the middle of the police area with fire fighters already starting to try and tackle the fire. She moved to duck under the blockade, only to have a police woman grab her back.

“Where the hell you think you’re going?”

Jenny turned quickly, pulling her elbow free. “I need to get down there. There are people trapped.”

The police woman shook her head. “There’s no one in there… the buildings were cleared and you’re not getting anywhere near the place.” she shifted as Bud stepped in front of Jenny as she made to grab her arm again.

Jenny stepped back, ducking again only to have another cop appear in front of her as she came up the other side of the blockade.

“Sorry lady you got to stay back.”

Jenny exhaled in frustration her eyes going to the blaze then the cop. “You have to believe me…. There is someone in that building. She’s one of yours…. Detective Rhimes.”

The cop stilled, looking at her again. “Detective Rhimes left ma’am.”

She wanted to scream so she did. “LISTEN TO ME YOU IDIOT. SHE IS IN THAT BUILDING!”

“Okay lady I’m going have to take you somewhere for your own safety and I’d advise you to keep your mutt under control, biting a police officer is a criminal offense.”

Jenny thought about biting him herself, this time when she was trying to tell him the frustration came out in sobs. “Please…. oh please. She in there, they both are……. they’re running out of time.”

Bud jumped up, not sure what to do, Police were good, police weren’t bad people yet they were hurting Jenny. He jumped up again.

The cop shrugged him off. “Lady get your dog under control before I shoot it.”

Those words tapped into her despair and frustration she quickly turned to Bud. “Down. Stay. “

He did so, but he didn’t like it.

“Hey Wayne what’s the commotion?”

Jenny stilled she knew that voice, with one big yank she broke free again running back to the police blockade, with a sense of relief she was right. “Peter! Peter!”

Detective Peter Johnston froze, turning slowly, his muscles clamping tight. He walked toward the line, his voice curt when he got there. “Miss Newton.”

“Thank god.”

Peter did a double take, she actually looked like she was pleased to see him. “Excuse me?” it surprised him so much he nearly missed the fact Newton was being pulled away by a patrolman. “Hey. Wait up. What’s up?”

“This lady is nuts. She keeps trying to get to the fire, keeps saying detective Rhimes is in there.”

Peter head shot around to the warehouse, then back looking Jenny right in the face, he hated it really hated it but he believed her. Surprising both himself, the cop and Jenny, he pushed up the blockade, pulling her through, quickly letting her go, resisting the urge to rub his palm on his pants. “Where?”

At any other time Jenny would have found it comical that Peter believed her for one and didn’t question for another. “I need to be closer.”

He nodded, waving the patrolman away, stepping back as Bud ran through to be beside Jenny. Bud gave him an evil glare which said; Police were good, police weren’t bad people but for you I’ll make an exception. Peter got the message, falling into step further away as he led them closer.

Jenny stopped at the edge of the apartment building, the closest they could get without a fire crew getting involved, she could feel the heat from here, well aware of the fear coming off Bud. She took one step nearer, distancing herself from the two behind, focusing her energy. The world tilted, her vision blurred then became crystal clear, it was like running high speed over every surface, every wall, fast across the burning floors, like an Exocet missile homing in on the Essence. She physically jolted when she hit the heat, going around it, across and down through the floors, there………… there!

She turned so quickly, it made Peter take a sharp step back.

“Northwest stairway, they’re trapped between eight and seven, both ends are blocked. You’ve got to hurry.”

He winced as her fingers dug into her arms. She exhaled, quickly letting him go, not ready for the assault of dislike from him. Her voice was a whisper. “Please believe me, if you don’t they’re dead.”

He chewed his lip, then nodded, running quickly over to the fire chief.

Jenny stepped back now, kneeling to Bud as they watched the fire, hugging him, knowing he wasn’t the only one who was shaking. She stiffened, looking up and around, searching. He was there, he was watching it. She looked up as Peter crossed the street towards her.

“They’re going where you said…..” he grimaced. “You’d better be fucking right.”

She ran her hand over Bud’s coat. “I am…. and something else I’m right about is he’s watching from the opposite warehouse.”

Peter stilled, then looked down at her. “You’re kidding me?”

Jenny shrugged. “Believe me or not Peter I don’t care. But he’s there.” she rose. “All I care about is Shannon and I’m not leaving till I know she’s okay.”

He met her stare, only seeing his own reflection in the mirror glasses. He really did dislike this woman, but one thing he did know she wasn’t ever wrong. He turned at a run heading to the line of police.

Jenny watched him go, her eyes went to where she knew the arsonist was watching from, and for once she found herself hating someone just for a feeling, it was overwhelming euphoria.

….

Shannon coughed again, this time it didn’t work to clear anything, she could feel the heat and smoke in her lungs. She wiped a long line of grit and sweat from her forehead, then down across her chest. They both were down to bra’s now, the heat so intense, they were using their shirts and jackets as wrappings for their hands against the sharp heavier pieces of rock. She grunted as she caught another piece handed to her. “An…y….th…in…g?” she coughed clearing her hoarse voice. “Any….thing?”

Jane slumped back, peering into the darker abyss of the area she cleared. “Can’t see jack shit.” she too coughed to clear the hoarseness from her throat. “Jesus I could use a be…e….r.” she stopped, tilting her head. “You hear that?”

Shannon lent forward till she felt Jane’s heat next to her. “Hear what?”

“Tapping.”

Shannon listened, straining her hearing. “No…..wait……… yea there. Where the hells that pipe you were whacking earlier?”

Jane searched palms down on the floor, ignoring the stings of bits of concrete, she felt the pipe, bringing it up and whacking the hell out of the wall. Both winching as the sound resounded.

As if in silent agreement they starting singing as best they could and as loud as they could. “THAT’S THE SOUND OF THE MEN WORKING ON THE CHAIN GANG. ALL DAY LONG THEIR SINGING…. UM…… AH……. UM….. AH.”

Fireman Jack Watson stilled, lifting the protective cloth on his head gear listening, he pulled his oxygen mask away to clear the sound of air coming through. He frowned, it sounded like Sam Cooke. Then he heard the repeating bang, he grinned lifting his walkie talkie. “I’ve found um guys.”

Immediately he was joined by two others and they began to bring the heavier equipment up to get through the wall.

Jane heard it the tap tap tap of a jack hammer, laughing she sat back. “Well shit here comes the cavalry.”

Shannon could hear it too, but she was preoccupied with the feeling running up and down the hairs on her arms, she didn’t want to believe what it meant, more to the point she couldn’t let herself believe. As the light broke through from the outside she lent her head back against the wall, drawing in a lungful of clean fresh air, wondering how many times she could keep escaping death.

….

Shannon shut the door cursing, she really hated hospitals. Pulling what was left of her t shirt off she threw it, taking her gun off and placing it in the drawer of the kitchen, already undoing the zipper on her trousers and trainers and socks as she walked towards the bathroom, her underwear ended up somewhere over her bed. She wanted a shower that’s all she’d wanted for the past two hours, but all she’d got instead was a bollocking from the Captain and incessant questions from the fire forensic team. She’d tried calling her mother on the way back knowing she first would have seen it on television and second heard it via the fire fighter grapevine from her brother and father, but she’d only got the voice mail at the house. Her mother never carried a cell phone around so right now Shannon had a rough idea her mother was on her way over. Something she didn’t need right now, she was mentally and psychically exhausted, all she wanted was a shower and sleep.

At least she could have the first one. Stepping into the shower she grimaced as the hot water hit, turning it to warm, it was hot enough outside already and the heat from the fire still made her skin tingle in places, the chemicals in the liquid making every single tiny scrape or cut sting like hell. She relaxed under the flow as her body adjusted. She watched the water at her feet turn light gray to black, she scrubbed at her skin, her hair, adding more gel until the water started to run clear, then she just stood under the flow. Her head came up as she heard the doorbell, pulling a towel from the rail as she stepped free of the shower she made her way back into the living room, to the door speaker, leaving wet footprints in her wake. She pressed the button. “Hi mom. Just come up okay.” she clicked it off before her mother could answer not really wanting to hear the chastising she was going to be given twice.

She quickly toweled herself semi dry, glad to be clean, a bath was going to be needed later to get the grim and soot completely out. Even now as she ran to the bedroom she could feel the thin veil of mucus in her throat as her lungs rid itself of the dirty air and smoke. She quickly picked a light cotton linen trousers and a black vest top, pulling both on quickly, not bothering with underwear. Grabbing the towel again she began drying her hair, knowing it was going to be frizzy as hell. She picked a pair of socks and quickly pulled them on and slipped her feet into clean trainers. When the door to the apartment sounded she was already on the way. She threw the towel into the kitchen, smoothing down her top, taking a deep breath she steeled herself for the tornado that was her mother. She pulled open the door. “I’m sor…………..” the breath left her lungs.

Jenny swallowed, trying to clear her voice, her brain was caught between the fear of facing Shannon and the fact she found the woman in front of her disheveled and more beautiful than ever. The shocked look aimed at her dampened down any such thoughts, she wasn’t so sure this had been a good idea when she watched Shannon pale. But she couldn’t help it, she couldn’t make herself go to the hospital and see her, so she’d waited until she knew she had left. She hadn’t even intended to come here, but no matter what she did she needed to see, needed to really see she was okay. She swallowed hard, well aware of the silence. “Hi.”

Shannon stood there, her hand gripping the door knob till her knuckles were white. She really did try to talk but right now her throat was refusing to cooperate, the lead ball in her stomach was pushing into her lungs.

Bud pulled on his lease, jumping, whining, trying to get at the person he wanted, not understanding why no one was talking or moving. He barked.

Shannon jumped, it broke the spell, she gritted her teeth and forcibly pushed down everything inside. “Hi.”

Jenny felt it with a shudder, watched as the surprised blue eyes suddenly went dull. Now she knew for definite this really wasn’t a good idea, she’d only thought of herself in this, got caught in the moment. But all she’d wanted to do was clear things up, needing to sort out what had happened, needed too because if something had happened to Shannon today she never ever would have gotten the chance to tell her why.

But no, as she stood there she knew she shouldn’t have gone anywhere near Shannon, she’d made yet another mistake, she should have waited for Shannon to come to her. She could feel the waves of pain, to the point it made her own insides ache, she suddenly felt very sick. She pulled on Bud’s lead, barely holding back her tears. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have come.”

Shannon felt Bud hit her leg again. She couldn’t believe this, that Jenny would just turn up here. Through the trauma a thought occurred, she took in a breath to talk. “How did you know where I lived?” She couldn’t believe how steady her voice was, inside she was a mess.

Jenny pulled on Bud again trying to keep him down. She exhaled. “Jane when…….. When you were in hospital last… time. She gave me the address.” She snapped her gaze away as she realized her eyes had automatically gone to where Shannon was shot.

Shannon was surprised, she hadn’t known. “Oh…. So why are you here now? Have you found something to do with the case?”

“No. not yet.”

“Then why did you come?” Shannon gritted her teeth trying to rein back the anger, even as she did so she still couldn’t help it as her eyes took in the small form in wonder. Jenny did look good, but there was something different something she’d missed before, there was a freeness that wasn’t there before. But unlike the first shocked meeting days ago, this time Shannon could see other things too, Jenny had lost weight, there was a gaunt look around her eyes, her gaze traveled up, stopping on her own duel reflection in mirrored sunglasses.

For a moment they just stared at one and other.

One thing Shannon couldn’t miss was Jenny also looked terrified, before she could stop it she found herself wanting to help and comfort her. She bit into her cheek deliberately, the shot of pain cleared her thoughts. She suddenly felt so tired, she exhaled the fatigue, rubbing at the bridge of her nose. “Jenny why are you here?”

“I …. I needed to see you and I didn’t think calling you would work.” She pulled off her sunglasses, needing Shannon to see her eyes to see how sorry she was, to see the truth, if only she could be given the chance to explain. “After the fire today…. I …” Jenny couldn’t finish, it was like she was getting nowhere.

Shannon finally released the door knob, feeling cramp set in she flexed her hand, staring down at it, staring anywhere but at Jenny. “You were there?” she exhaled the words.

Jenny’s lip trembled. “Yes.”

Shannon looked right at her. “You told them where to look?” This time Shannon didn’t ignore Buds whine and jump at her, she knelt quickly giving him a hug, wondering how she was keeping herself together right now.

Jenny eyes fell to her. “I knew you were in trouble…… I had to help. Shannon I want to explain…….. About before…….. Why I left.” She took in a lungful of air as her insides twisted.

Shannon didn’t answer at first, she just squeezed her eyes shut, holding on to Bud. “I think it’s better if we just stick to the investigation.”

Jenny felt the wall slam right into her gift, it was cold, it hurt more than anything she’d ever felt, she was locked out. Exhaling to keep herself together she tugged on Bud’s lead, bringing him away from Shannon. “We’ll go. I’m glad you’re not hurt.” Bud whined, she knew exactly how he felt.

He looked to both of them, he whined again, something was wrong, he tried to get to Shannon again, but his mistress held firm to his lead.

Shannon stood, stepping back. “Thank you for helping us toda….y.” Her head snapped left as she heard her name being called. Her eyes slipped closed. Oh god.

“Shannon Rebecca you’d better have a damn good excuse for being in a building with a bomb!? Oh.” Mrs. Rhimes drew up short, her temper deflating as she rounded the stairs to be met by the blonde woman and her dog. “I’m sorry I didn’t know you had a visitor.” she offered out her hand. “Hello I’m Anne Rhimes, Shannon’s mother.”

Shannon tensed, knowing what was about to happen.

Jenny managed a smile, taking the hand, closing down her gift to make sure nothing slipped through. She could see parts of Shannon in her mother, their eyes were the same, the bone structure of the face, she wondered if this would be how Shannon looked in her late fifties, realizing she was staring, she smiled again. “Please to meet you. I’m Jenny Newton.” Even without her gift open Jenny felt the chill as her hand was dropped.

Anne’s eyes shifted to her daughter, noticing how upset she looked, she looked back at Jenny. “I see.”

Jenny swallowed, the blue eyes of the mother now perfectly matched Shannon’s as they filled with ice. She took a breath, knowing now Anne knew about her. Her eyes slid to Shannon’s seeing the desperate look.

Jenny squared her shoulders. “I came to see if she was all right.” She spoke to Shannon’s mother, as she replaced her sunglasses.

Anne crossed her arms. “And?”

Shannon gritted her teeth. “Mom.”

“Don’t you mom me. I’d like to know why she ran off…. and don’t tell me any bullshit that you’re not interested.”

Bud looked up at the new woman, it was strange he could smell the same scent as Shannon, he sniffed again, sneezing as flowers invaded his sinuses. He licked his lip, looking up to each of them in turn, something felt very wrong, but there wasn’t any sense of danger. He was finding things very confusing lately.

Jenny thought about just turning and running as fast as she could, instead she pushed the impulse down. “I think this is between Shannon and I.”

Anne’s eyebrows rose, she was impressed, not many could stand up to her when she was in full flow, she caught Shannon’s surprised look. “Hmmmmmmm. I suppose it is.”

Shannon looked down. She couldn’t handle this. “Mom please leave it. Jenny’s right it’s between the two of us. Besides she helped us today she’s the one who told them where to look.” for some reason she wanted her mother to know that and not just think badly of the psychic, it was important. There was so much her mother was never going to understand.

Anne looked to her daughter, suddenly she wanted to do nothing more then hold her, instead she settled for pushing Shannon’s wet hair back behind her ear. This time when she looked at Jenny some of the ice melted. “Then I owe you a thank you for today….However….”

Jenny just shook her head, this was becoming all too much, she could feel the tendrils of panic beginning. The ‘however’ made her pull every wall up, she knew this was going to hurt.

Anne turned back to Jenny. “…..You hurt my daughter very badly. I won’t even attempt to understand what happened between the both of you. You did more damage than that damn bullet ever did…. But because of today I’m willing to bet you feel just as badly about the past as she does….” She turned quickly to Shannon hearing the sharp inhale. “Don’t be long.” She patted her cheek, then moved past her into Shannon’s apartment.

Shannon hugged herself, suddenly feeling sorry for Jenny. “She didn’t mean it.”

Jenny’s lip tightened, she felt like she’d just been beaten up, looking to Shannon, seeing everything her mother had just said was true. “Yes she did.” Her voice was hoarse.

Shannon stood in total misery.

Jenny couldn’t hold it anymore, the sob escaped. “I’m …….. I’m ……… I have to go. I’m sorry.” She yanked on Bud’s lead till the point he yelped in surprise at the harshness. He kept looking back trying to see Shannon, he was still trying as the elevator doors closed on them.

Jenny slammed her hand onto the ground floor button, tried everything to close down the pain she felt, she knew most of it was Shannon’s leaking past her walls, her hand covered her mouth as if that action would keep in the guilt and pain she felt.

Bud whined and jumped at her.

Shannon just stood shock still, she wanted to cry she really did, but there was a large shelf of ice sliding into place. Closing her eyes she pushed the last of it away, anger replacing whatever else was tearing her insides apart. She turned, coming up short when she walked right into her mother. “Mom?” her answer was a shove back and being turned around.

“Well…. Go after her.”

Shannon was confused. “What? But you just said?”

Anne pushed her daughter again, this time lifting her wallet and keys placing in into her daughter’s hand. “I know what I said and it needed saying. But that girl came all the way here and looks positively terrified. Are you really going to sleep knowing she’s out there alone and not safe?”

Shannon straighten, thinking for only a moment before she quickly kissed her mother on the cheek, turning she left in a run.

Anne shook her head, chuckling, turning around closing the door, her chuckle tailed off as she saw the state of the apartment. Sighing and shaking her head, she placed her bag down, rolled up her sleeves and got to work.

….

Shannon burst out of the apartment main door, her head turning left and right, coming to a stop at the curb, not seeing any sign of a car leaving or Jenny. She was just about to head off in a jog to the right, when she heard a whimper, she slowly walked back towards the side of the apartment’s front door, to the stairway that led down to the garbage chute and boiler rooms. She stopped at the top, trying to see into the darkness. “Jenny?”

A bark was her answer and another whimper. She started down the steps, stopping suddenly at the sight that awaited her, Jenny curled into a ball with Bud virtually wrapped around her. Two sad translucent eyes came up to her, the look there was enough to smack all of Shannon’s anger of the past right in the head. She slowly finished the steps, crouching, giving Bud a smile as he licked at her hand.

“Jen?”

“I needed to stop…. it…. just got too much….. I’ll be fine in a minute.” Each word was almost hiccupped.

Shannon relaxed a little, sitting back onto the step. “Okay.”

Jenny eyes finally came up. “Why?…….. Why did you follow me?”

Shannon insides twisted again, Jenny sounded just like a lost child. “Because I needed to make sure you were okay.” She wanted to reach out she really did and just touch her, but right now she knew Jenny was struggling with her control.

Jenny didn’t answer just continued to stare.

“You do know you’re sitting in the dirt.” The light remark did nothing. “Jen. You know how I hate freaking out….. Well……” she motioned to her.

This time Jenny blinked, and slowly a smile came to her mouth. “I remember.”

Mentally Shannon exhaled, she rose, wiping her palms at her jeans. “Why don’t we take this somewhere else? Somewhere safe…..” she just couldn’t make herself say Claire’s name.

Jenny eyes jumped to the apartment, a shadow passing over her face. “I don’t think I could handle your mother again.”

“We can go anywhere you like?”

Jenny exhaled, forcing everything back behind that wall, rising. “I need to go home.” She knew she sounded pitiful, well, that’s how she felt.

Surprised at Claire not being mentioned, Shannon took a step up towards the street level, making sure Jenny was hot on her heels. “Okay. But I’m not sure I can get a boat to take you back this late. Couldn’t you, well, go to your friend’s house?”

Jenny could tell it took a lot for Shannon to say that. “I should call her and let her know I’m okay and where to pick up her car.”

Shannon paused in her step looking back down over her shoulder to the upturned face of the psychic. “Left her car? Do I really want to know about this?”

Jenny managed a smile. “Long story, but it was impounded. I parked in the middle of the street, was in kind of hurry.”

Shannon frowned, she had a feeling that was an understatement extraordinaire. “Okay then. So? Should I take you back there, until you can get a ferry tomorrow?”

Jenny shook her head. “No. I want to go home.” Her voice held a note of despair.

Shannon gave a nod, almost feeling the panic herself. “Okay then. Let’s get you home.” She walked two cars down, pressing her unlock on the keys, a wrangler jeep’s headlights flashed ahead. She opened the passenger door, waiting for Jenny, she noticed Jenny gave her as wind berth as possible as she put Bud into the back, then got into to the car. Shannon slammed the door shut, moving around to the driver’s side, catching out of the corner of her eye Jenny lift her cell to make a call. She couldn’t help the jealousy, she really was going to have to get a handle on that. She got in and caught the tail end of the conversation.

“Yes I’m fine. ………….. Please Claire I said I’m sorry..” Jenny’s hand was shaking as she passed it through her hair. Her temper rising. “…… I’ll pay any fine the damn car gets………. yes I’m shouting I told you why I had to leave like that………… no………………… I’m going back to the island.” Jenny’s eyes shifted to Shannon . “ Shannon is taking me………” She moved the cell away from her ear.

Shannon could hear the yell.

Jenny exhaled. “…. Fine Claire you do that…….” She clicked the phone closed, then turned her gaze out the window, what Claire had said had hurt, but part of it was the truth, she was handling everything wrong and things were getting out of control again.

Shannon the whole time was keeping herself busy by starting the car and wondering as she pulled away from the sidewalk, how the hell she was going to get Jenny back on the island at this time of night.

It wasn’t often Shannon called in favors, but the idea had come to her as they neared the Dasi Two airstrip. She looked over her left shoulder, grinning at Bud, his head so pressed to the helicopters side glass his breath left condensation, which he then licked off. She shifted looking back over her other shoulder to get a look at Jenny, she’d been quiet the whole time since Shannon had come up with the idea. Shannon knew the psychic was using the quietness to compose herself and distance herself from the surroundings. Shannon was just grateful no one suffered from air sickness, she’d promised Mackenzie she’d be the one to clean it up. She gave a soft smile to Jenny, not surprised when Jenny didn’t acknowledge it in anyway.

“Coming up now. Where you want me to put her down?”

Shannon attention went to the pilot, a deep red headed woman, whose face showed the freedom of flying. “As near to her house as possible. It’s the only white one on this side of the island, in between two sand dudes.”

Mackenzie dipped the helicopter, changing course.

Shannon pointed. “That’s it.”

Mackenzie nodded. “Right. How about the beach? Tides out enough if you don’t mind getting your feet wet. Wet sand is a lot easier on the rotors.”

Shannon grinned, she’d always like Mackenzie. She pulled her mind back as she felt the helicopter tilt, she swallowed hard.

Mackenzie laughed. “Sorry about that, updraft.”

Shannon threw her a look, bracing her hand against the curve of the canopy, as the helicopter dipped again.

Mackenzie just laughed harder as she banked the helicopter down to land on the wet sand.

Before Shannon could get her belt off, Jenny had hers off and was stepping down from the helicopter, letting Bud jump down, which he did then proceeded to shake himself and pee on the skip of the helicopter, with a snort he took off towards the house.

Mackenzie scoffed. “Charming.” Her eyes followed Jenny up the beach, heading towards the white house, she looked across to Shannon . “Not the thank you type is she?”

Shannon lifted off the headphones placing them on the side. “She’s under a lot of strain. Getting her home meant a lot Mac. I’ll say thank you for her.”

Mackenzie nodded, her eyes going back to the departing blonde. “Ahuh. Silent type, I dig it… and I’ll forgive her cos she so cute.” Her eyes shifted to Shannon waiting, when she saw the slight blush, she paid herself mentally five dollars. Bingo!

Shannon coughed, half caught in undoing her belt. “Yea.”

Mackenzie watched Shannon carefully, many times she’d tried to get this little beauty into bed and many times she’d been given a false landing. She noted the way Shannon’s gaze followed the blonde woman, a knowing smile came to her lips, one that wasn’t bitter, just one of acceptance that Shannon was never ever going to look at her this way. Mind you she didn’t blame her, the blonde was very yummy. She slapped Shannon on the arm. “So…. we’re quits. Next time I’m going to want dinner and a movie and maybe some groping.” She wiggled her eyebrows, then burst into laughter when she saw Shannon blush again.

Shannon exhaled. “Maybe.” she let a smile twitch. Then her attention went back up the beach to Jenny’s walking form. She didn’t know what she was supposed to do. Stay? Go?

As if in silence answer Jenny stopped at the gateway to her yard, staring back, waiting.

Mackenzie caught the look between them and lord she wanted to whistle, it also meant dinner was just another pipe dream along with any chance of a grope. Shaking her head she looked up clicking on the rotor again. “Say good night Gracie, you’re staying.”

Shannon blinked, breaking her gaze from Jenny, aware the helicopter was starting up again. “I am?”

Mackenzie reached across opening Shannon ‘s door. “Oh yea with a look like that. You’re definitely staying my friend, and if you don’t you’re a bigger idiot then I thought.”

Shannon looked back up the beach. Did she want to stay here like this? Could she face what was to come? Know the truth? As she felt the rotor pick up speed she knew she was going to stay, it was as if it was out of her hands and hell be damned on the consequences. She leant across slapping Mackenzie on the shoulder. “Thanks…. and not just for the lift.”

Mackenzie somewhat startled, grinned. Hot damn that woman was sexy, for a brief moment she wondered what it would be like to be kissed by her and sucked and …………. OOo whoa girl. She shook her head, humming. ‘Pipe dreams nothing but pipe dream.’ She waited for the door to close then with a wave, pulled back on the stick.

Shannon shut her eyes tight, wincing as sand spat and stung onto her face and body, until finally it settled enough for her to look up and wave. Taking a deep breath to steel herself, she turned, finding Jenny still waiting and slowly she started towards whatever lay ahead.

Jenny exhaled her held breath, watching Shannon walk up the beach towards her, she felt her heart rate pick up double time at the look that was being directed at her. She had waited with baited breath wondering whether Shannon would chose to stay, she knew this time she couldn’t make the mistake of forcing the issue, so as much as she hated it she’d simple got out of the chopper and walked away, the whole time trying not to look back. But when she reached the house she couldn’t help it she had to know, had to see. Now as Shannon walked towards her she didn’t know which was greater inside her, relief, joy or fear.

Shannon stopped nervously in front of her. “Hi.”

Jenny smiled shyly. “Hi…”

Shannon suddenly realized no one knew where she was, she didn’t have either her gun or her badge, hell she didn’t even have underwear on.

Jenny wondered why Shannon suddenly blushed, but for whatever reason she let the warmth seep gently past her walls.

“I um…… well…… I thought I’d stay, just till tomorrow.” Shannon dug her hand into her back pocket.

“Okay.” Jenny wished she’d meet her eyes, she needed to know why she was staying, because she wanted too? Or some sense of obligation just like Claire had yelled at her down the phone?

“I can get a place to stay in the port?” Shannon looked up the beach not really believing she’d find anywhere to stay. She sighed, sleeping on the beach wasn’t going to be too bad.

“You don’t have to do that……..” At that moment Jenny really realized how much she had missed Shannon , she’d forgotten how shy she was, how the self confidence she showed daily really was just a front. Look at me Shannon , please. “….The guest room is in the same place…….if you want to use it? I mean only if you want too?” She stumbled on her words. Shannon looked up briefly and for a moment Jenny not only saw the fear she felt it. Mouth dry she forced herself to keep her voice level. “ Shannon ….. I’m not going to push anything. I want to tell you things, explain, but right now I’m so damn tired I can’t even see straight. Please just stay the night, if not for any other sake then the beach is sandy.” The joke was poor very poor, but she immediately felt the fear radiating slightly subside, she waited, hoping.

Shannon was relieved this wasn’t suddenly going to be a question and answer session. She hesitated, thinking, then with a sigh she met Jenny’s gaze again. “I need a bath and sleep Jenny, beyond that I don’t think I can handle anything else right now either.”

Jenny simply nodded, although she felt the relief from both of them crackle in the air around. But still they stood there, as if neither one of them wanted to break this neutral ground.

Shannon looked away, smiling at the peacefulness around, the sound of the sea, the boat lights on the horizon. She inhaled the sea air, feeling it like menthol on her tender lungs. “I’ve missed this place.” her eyes slowly came back to Jenny. I’ve missed you. But her words were silent thoughts.

Jenny’s face turned from where Shannon’s had looked, meeting the intense blue gaze, she found it amazing that even in semi darkness Shannon’s eyes shone. Her mouth was dry. “I’ve missed it too.” she looked down. I’ve missed you … but just like Shannon ‘s they were silent thoughts. She turned heading up to the steps and door, well aware of how close Shannon was behind her. She let Bud in first who went straight to his bowl. She spoke as she walked across the room, well aware parts of her were shaking. “Do you mind if I take a bath first? I really need to go to bed.”

Shannon shook her head, her eyes taking in the house again, nothing had changed, it was as if a year hadn’t past. “That’s okay, but I need to borrow your cell. I have to arrange a couple of things and let them know where I am. Especially my …… um mother.” she blushed.

Jenny nodded, pulling the cell out handing it over, making sure not to touch any part of Shannon . Right now she was being held together by a wing and prayer. She headed to the bathroom, the strain of the last few days suddenly weighing on her so hard that she felt like she was walking in cement.

Shannon nearly followed, but knowing what Jenny really needed wasn’t her, but space. She didn’t follow, instead she looked over at Bud who was stood by his food bowl wagging his tail. She smiled as she went over. “I see something’s don’t change.”

“Arft.” he sat, waiting, his tail wagging faster.

Smiling more, Shannon took the kibble from under the sink, filling his bowl full, rubbing his back as he dug in with gusto. “You deserve it boy. You took good care of her.” Shannon throat closed at the thought, she had to get herself under control, she rose, lifting the phone, dialing the first number.

“Hi mom….. No I’m on the island with Jenny….” and thus she began what she knew was going to be a long question and answer session. She sat. “Yes mom I’m okay……….”

….

Jenny just stood just behind the closed bathroom door, taking her sunglasses off as she neared the sink, placing them on the cabinet shelf. She just stared at her reflection, she was tired, she was scared, and it all showed in her eyes. She could hear the soft muffled sounds of Shannon on the phone and for a moment she thought she was back in the past. But no not this time, things weren’t going to be the same as they were before. So what would they be?

She wiped at her eyes, reaching across to turn on the tap and let the bath water run. She put the lid down on the toilet and sat, her hands scrubbed at her face. She couldn’t stay in the bathroom forever, but could she handle what lay beyond the door if they did decide to talk. Could she explain everything enough for Shannon to truly understand. She rose, adding salts to the bathwater stirring it in with a hand, lost for a moment in the swirling purple. Her head came up as she heard Shannon raise her voice, she couldn’t help the shiver when she realized she was still on the phone to her mother. Flicking the water free from her hand, she turned on the cold tap letting it get the right temperature, slowly stripping down to nothing, she stepped in, wincing slightly at the heat, quickly moving to turn the cold on more, when the temperature was set she turned off the taps and sat back, almost groaning as the warmth seeped into every muscle. Gently she closed herself down, concentrating on nothing but the warmth around her.

Shannon finally shut the cell, muttering under her breath the last frustrating thoughts aimed at her mother. She dialed the next one, choosing the sofa to sit. “Hi Jane.”

Jane sat up in bed, wincing as a burn came into contract with the sheet. “ Shannon ?” she looked across at the clock it was only just after one am.

“Yes. You okay?”

“Shit. I fell asleep.” Jane yawned, getting up, stretching, scratching her hair as moved down the stairs to the kitchen. “What’s up?”

Shannon almost smiled at the image she was getting of Jane fresh from sleep. It was one of the running jokes with those who’d been on stakeout with her, how wild that women’s hair got during a nap. “Nothing much. I’m just letting you know………” she stopped, what exactly should she say here….. She scratched her neck.

Jane paused on putting coffee in the maker. “Letting me know what?” hairs rose. “You didn’t do something stupid like go back to the scene did you?” she slammed the coffee can down enough to send a shower of coffee over her hand. “God damn it Shannon . You were supposed to go home and rest.”

Shannon actually moved the cell away from her ear wincing. “I did go home like a good little girl and then I had a visitor.”

Jane exhaled, this woman drove her nuts. “Yeah like who? Santa Claus?”

Shannon smiled. “No…. Jenny.” She winced as she heard a can being dropped. “Jane?”

Jane stared at the coffee around her feet, she wiggled her toes sighing as she felt the grains of Mountain Blue between them. “Sorry I thought you said Jenny for a moment. Think I preferred Santa Claus.”

“I did say Jenny and that’s why I need a favor.”

Jane shook her head, taking out the mini Vax and began vacuuming up the mess. “Like what?”

“I’m on the island with her.” Shannon winced again as ‘SON OF A BITCH’ was shouted. Waiting until the swearing died down enough to continue. “I left home in a hurry. I’ve left my gun and badge.” she kept quiet about the underwear, besides she was becoming worried about the increase in breathing on the other end of the line. “Jane are you having an asthma attack? Did your lungs check out okay?”

Silence

“No I’m breathless because I’m just pleased to hear from you.” Jane sat, this was turning into being a very long day.

Shannon laughed, which tailed off. “Sorry if I’ve thrown you for a loop again. I didn’t have time to contact you. She showed up at my door, then my mother showed up, then Jenny left and was upset and all she really wanted was to get home so I got her here.”

Jane sat on the kitchen floor, her hand going through her wild hair. It amazed her how one minute life was boring and fine and the next bedlam came to visit. “I only left you three hours ago Shannon . Wasn’t this a little sudden? I mean going back with her… I mean last time I heard you didn’t want to be in the same room.”

Shannon exhaled, confused herself. “I know. Believe me I know….. But she needed help.”

“Ahuh…….” Jane got up, seeing the coffee can was empty, she sighed again heavily, knowing there wasn’t another one in the house. Right now she needed just one cup of coffee more than anything in the damn world. She looked at the mini Vax, shrugging she opened the Vax and dumped the coffee into the machine, picking out a few bits that didn’t belong. She suddenly realized something. “How the hell you get her back there? Boats don’t run this late.”

Shannon shifted. “Mackenzie.” she waited, she didn’t have to wait long as Jane erupted in laughter. Shannon waited, and waited until finally annoyed. “Are you finished?”

“No.” Jane continued to laugh .

Shannon sighed, knowing why her partner was laughing so much; Mackenzie was known for embarrassing the hell out of her by any means necessary, sexual innuendo or otherwise. It wasn’t that she was a prude but Mac was usual so full in the face about things it always caught Shannon unawares. “She actually behaved herself, so quit laughing.”

Jane wiped her eyes, slightly disappointed, she loved seeing Shannon embarrassed, it was so good to see someone so in control reduced to an embarrassed wreck. The first time they’d gone to interview Mac over a homicide found at the air strip, Mac had made Shannon blush within ten seconds flat. It surprised her the pilot had behaved, the southern belle took great enjoyment out of it. She narrowed her eyes. “She did? Or are you just saving that to get me to stop laughing?”

“No she really did.” Shannon frowned, now she was wondering why she did.

“Wow.” Jane poured the coffee adding a huge dash of cream and sugar before taking a long sip, spitting out a small bit of grit. “Well okay…… what you need me to get?”

Shannon ‘s mind came back. “My gun… Badge, change of clothes… I’m here in nothing but jeans and top. So bring a set of underwear will ya.”

Jane’s eyebrows went up, grinning, her voice dipped to a husky one. “No undies. Oh la la. Bet Mac didn’t know that!”

Shannon blushed. “Shut up! And no she didn’t know I wasn’t wearing any.”

Jenny stopped dead at the door, the towel in her hand pausing on rubbing dry her hair, wondering what sort of conversation she’d really walked in on and with whom? She really didn’t want to hear anymore, she cleared her throat. “Um”

Shannon stood up so fast she nearly dropped the cell, knowing damn well she was blushing the deepest color she’d ever felt in her life. Her voice was a squeak as she spoke into the phone. “Just get the stuff and bring it here tomorrow with any new forensic and reports. Bye.” she clipped it closed. “Hi.”

Jane blinked staring at the phone. “Well your welcome.” Then burst out laughing again.

Shannon hated it when she fidgeted and right now she stood doing just that. She wasn’t sure what expression was on Jenny’s face but for some reason she felt the need to explain. “Um…. I was just telling Jane what I needed……..no no not what I needed…. yes what I needed.” Shut up! Close your mouth. Her mouth snapped shut on command, she took in along breath. “…. that was Jane.” she held up the cell phone, wiggling it slightly, then mentally slapped herself. Get a grip ! “… I left in a hurry. I didn’t have time to pack anything or get……… well everything.”

Jenny really really had to bite her lip, and then all on their own accord her eyes ran up and down Shannon ‘s form, then without permission her brain started to join in and add things, even a few images of no undies. She realized what she was doing, going redder then the both of them put together. She turned, pulling her dressing gown tighter, moving without looking back. “Bathrooms free.” her voice squeaked.

Shannon flinched as the door slammed. She exhaled low and even, looking across to Bud, seeing the laughter. “Something else still hasn’t changed as well……” she walked past him, flicking his ear. “You’re still a smart ass.”

He tried to nip at her hand but she was too fast, he gave chase right up until the point the bathroom door closed on his face, he snorted at the laughter, then he made his way to the bedroom door, scratching, adding a bark, sat waiting. The door opened enough for him to enter, tail wagging.

“She’s still right. You are.”

‘Arftttt.’

The door closed.

….

He was angry, angry at all of them. He paced the room, showing every signs of a caged animal, his hand slammed into the wall, small pieces of plaster fell. He paced again, it was wrong, they’d made it wrong, turned it all upside down, he hadn’t had time to watch all of it like he’d planned, they’d starting searching the warehouse much sooner than expected, he thought he could have at least watched till nightfall. But no, something had gone wrong!

“nononononononononononononon.” He slammed the table top this time, making the dishes on it jump. He stilled, raking in his emotions, pushing the anger away, he couldn’t think when he was angry. This time when he paced it was methodical using the repetitive movement to straighten his thoughts. Something had gone wrong yes, somehow they had known where to look. How?

He moved to the worn armchair and sat, picking at the fabric under each hand with his nails, the sound vibrating in the room like chalk on a blackboard. Slowly he went over everything again, looking for his mistake, looking for the answer, looking for the why…. He wouldn’t let this happen again.

He rose fast enough to send the chair back at the action, moving to the cellar door he unlocked it, clicking on the light, going to his work bench, the only true place to calm him. Then he began to make number seven. ‘Lucky seven.’ His smile was a sneer as he molded the C4 into place, his lips moved as he began his silent mantra.

.…

Shannon lay in bed, her eyes taking in the beams of the room, so familiar. But the scent around her wasn’t. It was deep, perfumed, not something Jenny would go near in a million years to wear. It didn’t take her being a detective to know the scent belonged to Claire Randell, she’d smelt it the first time she’d met the woman. She rolled on to her side.

What confused her was the fact the scent was in the guest room. She frowned, maybe Claire used it as a dressing room, she seemed the type. But even that didn’t ring true, because she could smell the scent on the pillow. With a grunt of annoyance she pulled the pillow from under her and threw it across the room. So what did it actually mean…. Claire and Jenny weren’t lovers? And if they were what the hell should she care. She smacked her forehead as if the action would rattle her brains enough to shut the hell up, it didn’t, it just gave her another throb to add to the others. The scent on the bed linen was driving her nuts, she rose fast and in one swift movement stripped the bed down to the mattress, then got back on, she was still fully dressed anyway she had no intention of sleeping naked, she’d suffered enough embarrassment for one night. She groaned remembering the whole cell phone scene again. Her eyes slipped open, she sat up, slightly leaning on her elbows to keep from falling back. She’d been sure in that one brief glimpse into Jenny’s shocked face, the green eyes had shone with jealousy. Shannon scoffed, flopping back, her arm going over her eyes. “Yea…. dream on.” With one last grunt she rolled over facing the wall, wrapping her arms around herself and finally gave into the over bearing need to sleep.

….

Jenny looked up as the guest room door opened, she inwardly smiled at the disheveled state of the detective. “Morning.”

Shannon yawned. “Morning. What time is it?”

Jenny rose, pouring out another coffee, adding sugar but no cream, placing it on the table in front of Shannon as she sat. “A little after ten, I didn’t know whether to wake you or not….. I looked in earlier. Did you have a fight with the blankets?”

Shannon ‘s lips paused on the mug. “I was too hot. I’ll tidy it up.” She took a sip, almost groaning as the taste washed away the dryness. Placing the cup down for a moment, she rotated her arm, rubbing at the joint.

Jenny froze, her eyes following the movement, she swallowed hard, the simple action hit her low in the gut, bringing everything back. Shannon continued oblivious working out the kinks in her shoulder until finally she was satisfied enough. Her hand paused on the cup as she reached for it, her blue eyes trapped in the anguished ones opposite her, feeling the sadness to the point she felt her own insides tighten. She gave a weak smile. “It doesn’t hurt much anymore Jenny. It’s okay.”

Jenny blinked, the words filtering in to her flashbacks, it took all she had not to sob. Instead she rose, using her palms flat on the table to give her the added support to rise, but the effort of it all sounded in her voice. “I can do you some breakfast?”

Shannon took another drink, seeing and feeling just how strained this was getting. “I’d like that.” she gave a smile.

Jenny answered the small smile. “Bacon? Eggs?”

Shannon frowned. “You stopped being a veggie?”

Jenny pulled open the icebox. “No. Claire…..” she didn’t need to turn around to feel the chill. “…. she brought it over yesterday. Hash browns?” She kept her back to Shannon not wanting to see what look was being given, concentrating on making breakfast, concentrating on holding everything inside, all she seemed to do lately was battle falling apart. Part of her wanted to run again, get away to find that darkness again.

Shannon made herself take another drink of coffee. She was finding herself fighting the urge to just go and take Jenny into her arms, she could see her shaking from here, but she knew it wouldn’t be welcomed anymore. She rose moving to the door, looking out towards the beach and sea. “Doesn’t change much here does it?”

Jenny relaxed, knowing that Shannon wasn’t watching her anymore. She put the bacon in the pan, stepping back as it spat. “Only after a storm, especially the big ones. There was a few when I was away.” She cringed, that made it sound like she took a holiday, her eyes darted to the dark form at the doorway, she saw the tense lines…. God, how she wished it was like before. She made herself turn and return to the cooking.

Shannon nodded, her eyes tracking to the movement over the left ridge, a smile tugged at her mouth as she recognized it as Bud. “He missed this place.”

Jenny stilled, then broke two eggs into the pan. “We both did.”

Shannon looked back at her, wanting to scream. ‘Then why the hell did you leave it?’ Instead she just watched as Jenny made breakfast, well aware that Jenny knew she was being watched again. Finally she finished the coffee in her cup. “I’ll just go wash up. I can’t change till Jane gets here which should be in about an hour.”

Jenny concentrated on the pan, flipping the bacon and eggs, adding the hash browns. She couldn’t turn around because she didn’t really want to know what she’d see there, not yet. “No worries. Should be ready in about ten.”

Placing the cup down on the table Shannon made her way to the bathroom. Only then did Jenny turn her head in the direction as the door closed.

….

Jane slowed as she neared the two sand dunes, just seeing the corner of the white house. She took in a deep breath, she wasn’t sure what her reaction to Jenny was going to be. She’d spoken to Marcus on the phone briefly that morning and hated not telling him Jenny had been on the mainland once again and still hadn’t contacted him. Now as she walked the last part of the yard to the door, she found her anger wasn’t just going to go away on this. Stopping at the door, she took one last breath in an attempt to quell it, then knocked.

Jenny poked her head out of the bedroom, smiling. “Jane. You’re early…. Come on in. Shannon is just getting washed. I’ve just done her breakfast do you want some?” she pulled her hair into a pony tail as she moved towards the kitchen.

Jane shook her head as she entered. “No I ate earlier. Thank you.” She looked around slightly surprised Bud wasn’t around. As if on cue a bark resounded behind her. She turned quickly, just fast enough to stop him knocking her for six. “Hey fur ball.” she ruffled his fur, catching his paws to push him back, having to place the bag she was carrying down to do so. She laughed as he got a lick in, but he got the message enough to back off. He trotted past her.

Jane turned, lifting the bag again and stood unsure at the door, her eyes going to where she knew the bathroom was. “Will she be long?”

Jenny smiled again, sensing the nervousness and something else………. anger? “I shouldn’t think so. Coffee?” She held up the coffee pot.

Jane gave a curt nod, moving now into the house, placing the bag on the floor, before she chose a chair to sit on.

“Let me remember, cream? Two sugars?” Jenny managed to keep the smile on her face.

“Yea.”

Jenny got the coffee ready bringing it over, passing it across. Jane took it with a nod of thanks, her eyes were everywhere in the room but on Jenny.

Jenny silently sighed, wishing Shannon would hurry up.

Jane sipped her coffee, finally her eyes came to Jenny, surprised to find Jenny already watching her. She swallowed. She’d forgotten how strange Jenny’s eyes really were. She blinked looking down into her cup. “If I ask you a question will you answer it?”

Jenny stiffened, then made herself relax. “I’ll try.” she could tell this was something to do with the anger. “….But I’m not ready to talk about why I left. That’s between me and Shannon .”

Jane’s cheek muscle twitched. “Fair enough. Wasn’t what I was going to ask anyway….”

Jenny waited.

“Why haven’t you contacted Marcus?”

Jenny blinked, biting back her immediate response of ‘it’s none of your business’. Something in the way Jane looked at her made her let out a sigh instead. “To be honest. I don’t know.”

Jane scoffed. “Thanks for the answer.” She took an angry slug from the mug.

“I’m not lying. I don’t know. I think it’s more I don’t know how too.” Jenny looked down at her hands. “….It’s gotten to the point it’s been so long that I don’t know how to apologize or explain.” she looked up meeting Jane’s eyes. “Very much like with Shannon .”

Jane studied her, realizing she was telling the truth. She sighed, sitting back. “I think all you gonna have to do with him is call him…” she met Jenny’s gaze. “… I think you owe him that much. Don’t you?”

Jenny caught it then in Jane’s expression, protectiveness, she was about to answer when she heard the bathroom door open, she rose instead, focusing on getting the breakfast from the warmer.

Shannon twitched a smile when she spotted Jane. “Hey.”

Jane rose, reaching for the bag, offering it over. “Hey yourself. Everything you asked for as requested boss.” She couldn’t help the merriment.

Shannon took the bag, looking inside briefly, she pulled out two folders, looking to Jane in question. “The new forensics?”

Jane nodded, already moving to sit and go back to her coffee. “Nothing really new though. Except there is a more full report of what he’s using now.”

Shannon placed the file on the table. “Fill me in a minute, I really need to get out of these clothes.”

Jane smirked. “It looks like you slept in them.” She noted the quick look Jenny gave Shannon with interest.

Shannon grabbed a piece of bacon off the plate, crunching. “Leave that there. I’ll be back in bit.”

Jenny just shook her head placing the plate down, her eyes fell on the report. “Can I look at these?”

Jane nodded.

Jenny lifted them, opening the first as she sat, reaching across to snag her glasses off a book she’d been reading that morning, before sitting back and slowly going over each file.

Jane always found watching Jenny fascinating, the psychic became so engrossed in anything she did, sometimes Jane was sure she could feel the concentration and intenseness in the air.

After ten minutes the bathroom door opened again, Shannon emerged dressed in a light cotton pants and t shirt, her hair tied back. “Now I feel human.”

“You look better…. I’d give it more coffee till you looked human.” Jane grinned, catching the thrown bag, actually liking the fact that some of the old Shannon was coming back. Her eyes flickered briefly to the psychic, knowing she’d had something to do with it made her worry.

Jenny couldn’t help it she watched the exchange between the two and felt a sudden pang of jealousy. She made herself look back at the report.

Shannon sat, lifting the knife and fork, tucking into her breakfast. “So… Jenny?”

Jenny looked over.

“What have you found out about this guy, except he likes fires.” Shannon chewed while she talked, sipping her coffee at intervals. She was hungrier than she thought.

“You read my notes on him?”

Shannon nodded.

“Then you know he isn’t like any other arsonist.” Jenny took off her glasses throwing them down onto the coffee table. “Most arsonists light their fires at night or near dusk.”

“But he did that in the first two?” Jane asked.

“Yes he did. But it wasn’t because he needed to do them at night. All two and the fifth warehouse fires were tests. He was testing the emergency service response time. He was also testing his method.” Jenny walked out of the room to the study; snagged the file she’d been working on and came back, offering it over to Shannon .

Shannon licked the egg off her thumb before taking it, opening it. Surprised eyes lifted to Jenny. “You tracked the whole of the emergency services for those two weeks.”

Jenny gave a smug smile. “Yes.”

“How in the hell did you do that? That’s restricted information.”

Jenny shrugged. “Not if you ask nicely.”

Jane laughed, figuring out right away how Jenny had done it. “You contacted Jack, told him you were on the case?”

Jenny eyes sparkled.

Shannon shook her head, her eyes going back to the Jenny’s report. “Okay so you found out what exactly by having all these fire station logs?”

“Each fire station has a jurisdiction which covers an area. Each substation has an overlap in that area to cover. When I requested the logs I needed to know if any other fire was on going at the time of the arsonists. To rule out a two person team, or to rule out him actually knowing and having communication within the fire department.”

Shannon nodded. “It’s easy enough in today’s tech world to pick up a scanner.”

Jenny nodded. “Yes. But he isn’t listening to a scanner; if he is, he isn’t using the information to work into his plans for the fires.” She pointed at one of the sheets. “….Two fires were reported and attended too on the night of the third warehouse fire. Their response time to his fire was slower then usually, a substation had to cover the area that night. If he’d known that, I very much doubt he would have set his fire.”

Jane frowned. “Why not?”

“The substation is ten miles closer to him. He would have been caught off guard.”

Shannon finished the last of her breakfast pushing the plate away so she could open up the file fully on the table. “Or he did know that and wanted to test his escape time?”

Jenny smiled. “Maybe. But I’m going with the theory he knows times and distance and responses. It’s the only way he’d feel safe enough to just casually go to a high point and watch his work. He takes all the time he needs in everything he does and he does a lot. Think about it. If he’s just an arsonist why stage so much, moving the furniture away, laying out exactly how he wants the fire to react….” She paused, her brow creasing. “…. There’s something about it I can’t point my finger on.” She shook her head clear, meeting their eyes again. “Anyway everything he’s doing is to his time line, everything is preplanned.”

Jane snorted. “Except yesterday, we very nearly had the little shit.” She subconsciously rubbed at the burn on her arm.

Jenny felt chilled, she moved to the kitchen pouring a coffee. “Yes except yesterday.” Her voice was low.

Shannon watched her, slightly worried. As if knowing it Jenny moved back to sit, giving a small smile. Shannon didn’t believe the smile for a minute but she wasn’t going to start something now. Her attention went back to Jane. “What did forensic come up with at this fire?”

Jane pulled the fire report over. “He’s changed his M.O slightly. He’s using more explosives.”

Shannon scoffed. “Well that explains why the damn building came down on us.”

Jenny made herself sip her coffee, ignoring the terror those words brought.

Jane turned the file on the table to another page. “He used a lot more accelerant this time along with the explosive. They pulled a print off the fragmented casing….. But there were no matches in any database, the FBI the guys we all know and love……..”

Both Jenny and Shannon snorted.

“…. are beginning to wonder if this guy is working for some sort of cell?”

Shannon stiffened. “Don’t tell me they’re already yelling terrorism on this?”

Jane shrugged. “All I know is when I left the precinct this morning Grieves was madder than hell that the Feds were on his ass again.”

Shannon let her eyes take in the whole report. It was pretty much the same as all the others. The one big change as Jane had mentioned was the usage of more explosives. That worried her, it worried her because an arsonist has a M.O. which they follow, they set fire to things and things burn, explosions happen because of the fire itself…. It was either done for revenge, a sense of righting a wrong or just plain fire bugging. She rubbed at her temple, well aware she was already getting a headache. She looked up, seeing the expecting eyes watching her. “What did you get off of him yesterday?” Her gaze fell on the psychic.

Jenny relaxed back. “He was very pleased with himself. Sexually excited.” she made a face. “….He so gets off on all this. He likes to watch, that’s very important. From the other fires it’s pretty much the same feeling, there’s no anger, no other emotion except he has a task to do and he loves doing it. There is something else… something much deeper….older….” she frowned as she tried to get a connection to it now. “….But I can’t get it yet. I need to do more work.”

Shannon nodded. “Pretty much where we all are right now.”

There was something in the way Shannon said it that made Jenny tilted her head. “You felt something?” she flinched as blazing blue eyes shot up to her, she actually sat back. “I …. I didn’t read you. I can’t remember.”

Shannon clenched her jaw, willing her anger away. She rose. “So now you sense me again. Great…” her anger stuttered when she saw genuine fear in the translucent eyes. She stepped back, tearing her eyes away. “Look thanks for breakfast, I need to get back….Do you want Jane to stay here?”

Jenny was still in a slight state of shock at the invasion of anger and the venom of the words. “No.”

Shannon gritted her teeth. “You sure?”

“Yes.”

Without another word Shannon grabbed up her bag and left the house.

Jane was still sitting on the sofa blinking, wondering what the hell had happened this time, she looked across to the psychic and felt nothing but sadness in what she saw, the psychic looked devastated.

“Jen….” she waited until the psychic looked at her. “….Talk to her. Tell her whatever it is. Whatever the reason you left. If you can’t do that…… then leave her alone.” Jane rose moving to the door. “Don’t start all this again… .For both your sakes.” Looking back for a moment before she broke out into a light run to go and catch up her partner.

Jenny inhaled a ragged breath, well aware the warmth she felt was Bud close. She made herself get up and push everything away, heading to the study, heading to the one place she could lose herself right now, work.

“Stupid, stupid, stupid.” Shannon smacked her palm against her leg. Slowing her pace when she heard her name called for the third time, turning to find Jane hot on her heels.

Gulping breath Jane drew to a stop. “Jesus you got long legs.” She could still tell Shannon was angry. “You don’t have to tell me what that was all about I got it.”

Shannon jaw muscle twitched. “I was stupid.”

Jane shook her head. “I doubt Jenny sees it that way. But I think you either got to talk it out with that woman or get the hell away.”

Shannon ‘s eyes narrowed. “And what business is it of yours. I’ll handle things in my own damn time.”

Jane scoffed. “Yea right. If and when either of you quit running.”

Shannon had had enough, she turned only to find her arm taken and pulled back around, she glared.

“Oh please like that works on me….” But Jane still took her hand away. “I’m sorry I know this is hard. But we have a case here. One which I think is going to blow wide open soon. We need her…. We need you…. Both of you are so caught up in what happened before neither of you are thinking straight.” Jane took a breath, calming her voice. “ Shannon . Can’t you two form a truce for now? Anything so we can get your focus back on the case and out of each other’s heads!”

Shannon looked away, her gaze nowhere. She knew Jane was right, she knew she was losing control of not only the case but herself. She needed to refocus. She exhaled. “You’re right.” Her gaze settled on Jane. “But I can’t be around her right now…. Will you keep an eye on her?”

“You don’t have to ask…. What are you going to do?” Jane tried reading her eyes but got nothing.

“I’m going to go back and work over some of the reports, see what Grieves wants to do about the FBI.”

“Okay. Anything you want me to do?”

Shannon nodded back down the beach to the house. “Make sure she gets everything she needs. Go back and answer any question I know she’s going to have about the forensic.”

“Anything else?”

Shannon glanced down at her watch, she had ten minutes till the next ferry out. “Meet me back at the precinct at 3. I want go over the insurance claims and manifest.”

“Oh goody.”

That was enough to make Shannon lose the last of her tension, she smiled. “See you at three.” She jogged backwards for a moment, then turned heading towards the port.

Jane followed her with her eyes until a sand dune obscured her view. Taking a deep breath, she headed back to the house.

….

Jenny knew she wasn’t alone, but she didn’t raise her head from what she was reading, knowing who it was. “Is she alright?”

Jane moved away from the doorframe. “About as alright as you are?”

Jenny gave a weak smile. “That bad then.”

“I should have knocked. I um…. actually didn’t think about it. I sort of barged right in…. Sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it. Bud knew it was you as well as I did. He’s there if you try anything anyway.” This time she looked up, shifting her gaze to Bud who was standing behind Jane. Jane twisted, looking down, jumping slightly, which made Jenny smile.

“Jesus I didn’t even see him or hear him. Um…. Hi fur ball.”

Bud snorted and headed back into the living room.

Jenny returned her attention to the files.

Jane’s eyes took in the den. It looked very much how it once had before, crime scene photographs lined the walls, with Jenny’s writing underneath

Very methodical, very Jenny, it made her smile.

“Why are you back?”

Jane turned her focus to Jenny. “She’s worried about you…. That plus she knew you’d have questions about the new forensic. I’m meeting her later.”

Jenny took off her glasses, throwing them down, before meeting Jane’s eyes. “She doesn’t have to worry. I can take care of myself now.”

Jane tensed.

Jenny sighed. “I didn’t mean that the way it sounded.”

Jane shrugged, moving more into the room. “Yea you did. You’ve always resented having someone watch you. Why should it change now.”

An awkward silence fell.

Jane was the first to break it. “So? Any questions yet about the files?”

“Did you read they’ve identified a substance in the explosive?”

Jane nodded. “Sure, seashell dust.”

“Why use it? Isn’t there a better bonder out there?”

Jane thought for a moment. “I suppose…. but it’s not unheard of to buy a bonder compound to mix the explosive with.”

“But according to the report it wasn’t powdered, it was added, tiny pieces of oyster shell.”

Jane shook her head slightly. “Sorry, I think you need to talk to someone who knows more about explosives than I do.”

Jenny nodded, putting her glasses back on she turned one of the files to Jane. “This fire…. Number five…. Why did he use so much accelerant this time?”

Jane looked over the report. “Bigger fire?”

“I suppose, but the amount of explosive he used started its own fire this time. He wasn’t so careful of other things around. Do you see the circle?”

Jane looked at the crime scene photograph on the wall Jenny was pointing too. “Isn’t that just the blast area?”

Jenny rose, going to the photographs. “No not the crater, I mean the area around, can’t you see the overall outline of a circle of the whole fire?”

Jane stepped around the desk, drawing nearer, her gaze shifting from each photograph. “Yea…. Yea I see it.” She looked to Jenny in question.

“I don’t know what it means….yet. But it’s in all the sites, it changes size, but it’s always a perfect circle and within it different levels of ash and outlines. I think it’s why he moves things out of way. He doesn’t want the circle to be…….”

“Broken?” Jane felt the itch of sweat on the back of her neck. “Satan?”

Jenny shook her head. “He isn’t satanic, there would be other ritual items present and there isn’t.”

“He could use them there and take them away?”

Jenny smiled. “He could, but I’m…. well…… I’m not…..”

Jane relaxed. “You’re not getting the Satan vibe?”

“No.” She didn’t know why but she felt embarrassed and looked down.

“You know that spooky stuff still gives me the heebie jeebies don’t you?” Jane shifted uncomfortably.

This time Jenny’s smile was soft. “Yes.”

“Good, glad we got that cleared up.” Jane moved passed Jenny to get closer to the picture wall. “So, he makes a circle, and he sets the accelerant to ignite within the circle in some sort of ….. shape?”

Jenny nodded, waiting.

“Why else would you make a fire circle.” Jane stroked her chin. “Fires are Pyres? Signals?”

Jenny head shot up. “Say that again.”

Jane’s eyebrows rose. “Um…. Why else wou…”

“No. not that bit, the end part.”

“Pyres? Signals?”

Jenny grinned.

Jane just stared. “Did I just do something again?”

Jenny grin widened. “Yes.” She turned, going through the papers on the desk quickly.

“Mind telling me what I did?”

Still shifting through, Jenny answered. “A signal, he’s making a signal. I knew there was something I was feeling. I couldn’t put my finger on it…. Drums.”

Jane frowned. “Drums.”

“Yes. I heard them…. Well felt them.”

“He’s drumming? Who does he think he is Ringo Starr?”

Jenny chuckled and shook her head, finding what she was looking for. “No he isn’t the one drumming.” She turned holding up the photograph she was looking for, it was cut from a newspaper.

Jane’s eyes dipped, looking it over, it was an aerial shot of the 5 th fire, she could make out the charred roof of the fire area. “I’m sorry I don’t….”

“Squint.”

“Excuse me.”

“Squint at the picture.”

Sighing and unconvinced Jane squinted. “It’s a blur.”

Jenny waited patiently.

“I… hey is that an image in the ash?” she looked up surprised. “….kinda looks like those fake Mars shots.”

Jenny bit her lip, nodding. “I think so. I thought it was shadows playing tricks but I really think it is… I can’t make out what.” She looked up from the photo. “Jane I need aerial shots of all of the fires…. Detailed, close, clear shots. But I don’t want the press knowing. I don’t want him knowing I’m looking. It’s got to be done quietly. I can’t…. I can’t chance a leak from within the police.”

Jane scratched the back of her neck, thinking, then a very evil smile came to her lips. “Oh I know just the person.”

Jenny looked at her quizigly. “You do?”

“Ahuh so do you. She flew you in here…. Be right back gonna make a call.” She was already chuckling as she left.

Jenny wondered why she suddenly got the idea that Shannon wasn’t going to be too pleased with Jane’s choice.

….

Shannon stared at the phone in her hand, then replaced it back to her ear. “Say that again you did what?”

Jane repeated. “I’m at Delta two with Jenny. I’ve hired Mac to help us take some aerial photos of the fires.” She had to bite her lip to stop herself laughing.

Shannon grimaced, imaging Jane and Mac together, with Jenny listening in. “Who’s idea was this? And why the hell does Jenny need sky shots?”

Jane winched at the tone. “Look, why don’t you just come on down here. Mac needs to do preflight checks and other stuff. Then she’s meeting us here.”

“No. You set it up you handle it. Let me know what is going on next.” Before Jane could answer Shannon slammed down the phone.

Jane just managed to pull the phone away from her ear before her eardrum burst. “Well….. That went well.”

“What did?”

Jane watched as Jenny approached across the interior of the aircraft hangar. “ Shannon isn’t coming.”

“Oh.” Jenny looked away, as she came to a stop, knowing she didn’t hide her disappointment.

“She’s busy with something else.” Jane inwardly cringed, that sounded so lame. “I mean….”

“I know what you meant. Can we get this over with.”

“I can arrange that.”

They both looked round to the voice.

Jane grinned, noting that this woman hadn’t change, she still was taller than hell, dressed in the same worn holey tight blue jeans and black flight boots. As she took in her friends approaching swagger, she realized Mac had been working out more, the muscles drew the fabric of her black shirt tight. She could see why others batted for the other team. “You’re looking good Mac.” She moved forward, taking the extended hand.

“Well Cher . I can say the same about you.” Mac let her eyes travel over the detective, till the point she got the blush she wanted, she laughed deeply, then her eyes shifted. “Well hello again Miss Newton.” She offered out her hand, wondering if she’d take it.

Jen did, surprised at the warmth she felt radiate, she pulled her hand back. She hadn’t really taken any notice of the pilot before, but now in the light of day she could really see how attractive she was. Not for the first time she wondered how Shannon knew her. “Hello. Thank you for doing this.”

Mac grinned. “How could I refuse.” Her eyes twinkled. She clapped her hands together, the slap echoing around the hanger. “Right. I’ve got clearance to all five sites we can leave as soon as I’ve done the precheck. So are we waiting for the stud?”

Jane didn’t think it was possible but she choked on air. “Um.” Her eyes shifted to Jenny seeing the confused look. “No…. it’s just us.”

“Ahuh.” Mac felt Jenny’s intent gaze on her, it gave her goose bumps. “No pooch?”

Realizing she was staring, Jenny dropped her gaze. “No. He didn’t travel well last night. He’s in the car.”

“Alright then….” Mac stepped back sweeping her arm across gallantly. “Shall we ladies.” She flashed a blinding set of teeth.

Jane snorted, looking at Jenny sideways, wondering how Jenny was going to handle Mac. Her eyes slid to Mac as they all fell into step and walked out of the hangar into daylight and towards the helicopter. As they neared she wondered how Shannon was going to handle knowing Mac was alone with Jenny and that thought as she stepped up into the front seat of the helicopter made her wince.

Jenny found a strange sense of peace as the helicopter banked over the bay heading towards the first warehouse, she looked down into the blue sea below, making out the coral and sand bed. Even the noise of the rotors didn’t intrude into the moment. Flying, it was how she felt when she first dipped into the past, weightless and floating, right before she slammed into the wall of events and whatever she was looking for, where she physically felt the blow that shattered the peace and the beauty of her gift. Her eyes shifted to the back of Mac. She really didn’t know what to make of the pilot, every other sentence she’d spoken held sexual innuendo of some sort, she took great pleasure in making other people uncomfortable, it was more than likely a defense mechanism, put others into that environment, therefore protecting herself. But still, she sensed something better underneath and she knew she’d more than likely end up liking her. Her gaze went back to the view, sitting forward as she recognized the building below.

“Coming up on your warehouse now. I’ll start taking pictures with the onboard camera at one hundred feet then move closer on each pass taking a shot…..” Mac glanced over her shoulder. “… That sound good to you?”

“Yes. Try and get as much as you can of the inside. I need mostly the centre of the fire and surrounding circle.”

“Gotta ya.” Mac banked the helicopter steeply, chuckling as she heard Jane moan. “Starting my run sweethearts, hold on to your panties.”

Jenny gripped the seat, grinning as she felt the world shift into weightlessness.

Jane grabbed her stomach. “Oh god.”

Laughing Mac continued her fly-by as planned, her thumb pressing the button on the yoke, making the under belly camera take each shot.

Jane didn’t think she’d ever what to eat again, her stomach felt like it was somewhere plastered to the ceiling of the helicopter. As she stepped from the cockpit she actually contemplated throwing up all over the smug looking Mackenzie.

As if sensing it Mac stepped back, grinning. “How about a nice chilly dog.”

Jane glared.

Jenny stepped down, surprised when Mac offered her hand to aid the rest of the way, she took the hand, nodding in thanks.

Mac took the time to make sure she got every angle of the blonde, surprised when she found sun glassed eyes staring at her and a smirk plainly letting her know she was caught in the act. She dropped Jenny’s hand. “Well. I’ll just go and get those images set up.”

“You do that.” Jenny smiled letting her know she was amused and not offended.

“Right.” Mac dipped under the helicopter.

Jenny watched as she disappeared. “How long have you known her?”

Jane straightened up. “Couple years. The boss knows her alo….” She stopped herself, she was saved from explaining anymore when Mac came up between them.

“Got it.” She waggled the digital camera. “If you ladies would like a cup of coffee my office ain’t much, but its cooler then out here.”

Jane waited for Jenny to answer, unsure.

“I’ll just get Bud, he’s going to need a drink.”

Mac moved very close, pointing past her to the row of buildings past the hangar, taking in a breath of Jenny’s scent. “My office is the last one on the complex.”

Jenny moved away, stiffening at the close proximity. “Thanks.” Her voice was cold.

Jane watched as Mac watched Jenny, knowing that look. “Don’t go there.”

Mac turned to look at her, about to grin when she realized Jane was serious. “You’re her protector cher?”

“I’m her…” What exactly was she?

Mac waited.

“I’m Shannon ‘s friend and I take care of her friends.” She stepped closer. “Don’t play with this one Mac. She’s been…. They’ve been through too much.”

Mac was about to fob it off, until she caught the look directed at her. “Shannon and her?”

Jane exhaled. “Shannon and her are something. If my life depended on it I couldn’t tell you what the hell that is. But they don’t need more complications.”

Mac pointed to herself. “And I’m a complication. Tsk…. I should be hurt. What harm is it to play.”

Jane shook her head. “You’re playing with fire.”

Mac laughed, throwing her arm around Jane’s shoulder, pulling her into step with her as she walked. “I’ll take your warning….” She dipped her head, breathing words into Jane’s ear, her voice low, seductive. “….Maybe I’ll play with you instead. Eh?” Mac roared with laughter as Jane pulled away from her blushing and cursing.

Jenny sipped her coffee watching the Cajun woman, aware that Jane was watching her. She knew she shouldn’t feel safe but right now but she did. She wondered if it was because Bud was sticking to her like glue. She smiled ruffling his fur, smiling more as he looked up at her before returning his gaze back to the strange woman. Jenny knew exactly how he felt, she didn’t know what to make of her either.

“Got um. You want hard copy.”

“Please.”

“No problem.” Mac sent the command to the digital printer, she was up from her seat to get it, passing them over, pride on her face. “Even if I do say so myself nice shots.”

Jenny took it immediately looking at each, she’d hoped for more, she could make out the damaged area a little clearer, the stark destruction on the building, but the inside shots were still too distorted, she knew they couldn’t have gotten any closer, the last shots of each warehouse were taken with the helicopter hovering low enough to send ash into the air. She realized as she looked, it was the shadows of the building itself which made it impossible to see.

Mac saw the disappointment. “Something wrong?”

Jenny exhaled, passing the pictures to Jane hoping she might see something, but she could tell Jane couldn’t see any better then she could.

Mac repeated. “What’s wrong?”

Jane sat back. “We were hoping for a better look at the insides of the building, especially the ash.”

“Ash?”

“Yea.” Jane threw the pictures onto the desk.

“Why the hell didn’t you say something.” Mac returned to the desk calling up the images. She looked over to each of them. “Well…. How clear you want um?”

Jenny rose, moving behind Mac, looking over her shoulder to the screen, seeing what she was doing. “You can enhance the image?”

“I can do a lot more than that. Cher , didn’t Jane tell you some of my customers hirer me to check out things that they don’t want certain law enforcement to find out.”

“I’m so not hearing this.” Jane shook her head.

Mac grinned at her. “This software can show up the freckles on a southern virgin…. Course you gotta find the virgin first and that’ll take more than just software honey.” Mac wiggled her eyebrows.

Jane rolled her eyes. “Oh please.”

Jenny felt herself blush.

Mac’s whole attention was fixed on the fact Jenny was leading over her, she wondered what her eyes looked like under those shades. She shook her head clear. “So how close you want?”

Jenny couldn’t help it she grinned. “Close. Especially inside the buildings.” She reached across snagging one of the photos’s, showing it to Mac, she ran her finger into a circle. “This area as clear as you can get it.”

“Done cher.”

Jenny watched as the image on the screen became nothing but pixels, each pixel zoomed in distorting the image into blur. Mac clicked over each one, clicking over and over again until the image itself became enlarged and clear as a bell. Grinning Mac sat back. “How’s that?” she pressed print.

Jane rose, taking each one as it printed, grinning as each image came out larger, she could now make out that the ash was a defiant pattern. She felt Jenny draw up beside her, she passed each of the pictures too her. “It’s something but I still don’t know what the hell it is?”

Jenny studied it, studied it till her eyes hurt. Then slowly a smile grew, she looked over to Mac. “I could kiss you.”

Both Mac’s eyebrows shot skyward and for the first time in a long time she was speechless, then as if a sixth sense kicked her in the head, she looked over her shoulder to the doorway, there stood six foot of not very happy stud! Swallowing and sitting straight, at the look directed at her, somehow Mac found her voice. “Oh…. Hi.”

Jenny head shot around. “ Shannon !”

Jane looked to the heavens.

Shannon calmed down her initial reaction of turning around and just walking out. The fact that Jane was in the room when Jenny was offering to kiss the pilot was the only reason she was letting her brain make sense of it all. She ignored the dull ache at the fact Jenny hadn’t sensed her approach this time either. “Wanna tell me what I’ve missed?”

None of them moved. Finally Bud had enough of humans staring at each other so he rose, wagging his tail as he greeted his friend.

Shannon smiled at him, ruffling his fur before moving fully into the office. “So?” she looked to each of them.

Jane finally found her voice and began filling Shannon in on exactly what they were doing.

Shannon listened, well aware that Jenny’s eyes had never left her. When she was up to date she moved to the photos, hiding her smile as Mac flinched as she bent forward taking one off the desk. “Mind if I take a look.”

Mac shook her head quickly.

Jenny wasn’t sure if she should be explaining herself. She was more concerned by the fact Shannon wouldn’t even look at her.

Shannon looked up from the picture. “I know it.” Everyone looked at her. “It’s native American Indian.” She looked at Jane. “It’s a jaguar, in this one anyway.” She shifted through the others. “I don’t recognize any of the other symbols. I think this one might be fire.”

Jenny took the photos back, looking through each. “Native American. You’re sure?”

Shannon nodded. “That one is.” She moved towards Mac. “Can I use your computer?”

Mac pushed herself away, letting the wheels on the chair take her to safety. “Knock yourself out.”

Shannon called up the internet, going to where she knew she’d seen the symbol. “I saw it once when I visited a museum down on Marco Island couple years ago. That symbol is next to some sort of idol they found of a carving….. Here.” She turned the monitor to Jenny. “A jaguar.”

Jane exhale in surprise. Her eyes darting from the screen to the printed close up. “Jesus. It matches the whole damn area. The crater is the eye. He moved the furniture and stuff to form the whole damn thing.”

Jenny looked at Shannon in wonder. She thought about offering her a kiss, but thought better of it. She cleared her thoughts. “It doesn’t match the other two only fire five. Are there other symbols in this tribe?”

Shannon went back to the comp, calling up the main page.

“That’s the bat, does it match any of them?”

All of them now were focused on the pictures.

Mac pointed. “Fire two kinda looks like it.”

Jenny focused on it, making out the distorted metal and charred remains around the right side. “Yes. See, he’s using the accelerant to make the main edges. That’s why he’s using so much of it. He’s using it as a template.”

Shannon clicked the next image page.

Jane saw it immediately. “Hey that’s fire one. What is it?”

“An eagle.” She clicked next.

All of them looked to the screen then to the printouts. Jenny finally shook her head. “That doesn’t match. What is it?”

Shannon answered as she pulled up the next one. “That’s earth and I agree it ain’t there. This is night.”

Again all eyes went back to the image and the printouts.

Jane tilted her head then tapped at the picture in Jenny’s hand. “Turn it.”

Jenny did so. Now seeing what Jane had seen. “Fire two.” She looked to Shannon . “Anymore?”

“Just one. This……..”

“…… it’s the symbol for the sun.”

They all looked at the last picture.

Jenny exhaled. “It’s the third one.”

All of them looked at each other.

Jane was the first to speak what everyone was thinking. “So what in the hell does it mean?”

Jenny acted first, moving to the computer, well aware she brushed into Shannon by the jolt to her senses. She swallowed. “What tribe is this?”

Shannon felt it too, she stepped well out the way. “Calusa. They were among the first settlers of the Keys, from what I can remember about ten thousand years ago.”

Jenny scanned over the site, quickly pulling out her memory pen from her bag, inserting it, she started to download the information she wanted. When she was finished she turned. “I need to get back. I have to find out what all this means?”

Mac stepped forward before Shannon could say anything. “I’ll drop you off, front door delivery guaranteed.”

Jenny stared to Shannon waiting for her to say something. When nothing came she gave a weak smile to Mac. “Thank you.”

Mac stepped back letting her pass, grinning. “Oh believe me my pleasure.” The smile froze on her face when she met Shannon ‘s glare. Instead of backing down she leant into her. “Should have said something stud.”

Shannon just folded her arms, knowing already she’d been an idiot not to object.

Jenny stopped at the door briefly, addressing Jane. “I’ll let you know what I find.” Without another look to anyone, she called Bud to her and followed Mac out the door.

Jane just shook her head. “You want me to go with her?”

Shannon teeth hurt from the pressure she was putting on her jaw. “No.” Her eyes drifted to the screen. “There’s one symbol he hasn’t done. There’s going to be at least another fire.”

Jane nodded. “Yea…. I figured that too.” She rubbed her brow. “But what the hell does it all mean? He likes making pretty pictures.”

Shannon ‘s mouth twitched. “Jenny will figure it out.” Her eyes went out the window, watching Mac help Jenny into the chopper.

….

Jenny was tired, beyond tired, her back hurt, her eyes hurt and she was pretty sure if her ass wasn’t so numb that would be hurting too. She stretched as she rose, grabbing the coffee cup off the desk as she made her way out of the den. She tried to stop the yawn but it won out, she yawned till her jaw cracked. She clicked on the kettle, glancing down at her watch, surprised to find it was well after 3 am. She’d been working for over twelve hours, she started as soon as she’d managed to get Mac to leave. She couldn’t help it she smiled. Her aunt would have called Mac a lovable rogue, except this rogue was highly sexed and very attractive, she could see how woman would fall at Mac’s feet. She shivered, yesterday had been hard, Mac’s advances had been almost too much to handle in the confides of her home. Eventually Mac had gotten the message and left.

She filled the cup with instant, not having the energy to set up the coffee machine. She yawned again. Had she eaten? Her stomach immediately told her the answer. NO! She broke open a box of salt crackers, chewing as she made the coffee. She looked over her shoulder when she heard the ‘woof’

She had a moment of complete déjà vu.

Bud tilted his head, ‘woofing’ again.

“Sorry, I forgot you too didn’t I.” She immediately filled the dogs bowl with kibble, giving him a quick hug before grabbing her coffee and moving to the rocker by the window.

His tail wagged as he tucked in.

She let the motion of the rocker, calm her thoughts. She’d found out so much in her research, yet at the same time had found out nothing. What did it all mean? The arsonist was defiantly using ancient Mayan symbols in the fires, but each symbol had a different meaning. She sipped the coffee. Why would he use them? Did he think he was an ancestor fulfilling a destiny? Leaving a message? She needed more information. She’d already put out feelers for information on the land sites themselves, maybe they had something to do with the Calusa?

She sat forward, rubbing her temple, sipping again. She was too tired to think and she knew it. But she also knew she couldn’t sleep not when her mind was like this, a viper of questions striking into every second thought. Then there was the other matter. She groaned. Shannon . She so wanted Shannon to bring her back, wanted to tell her everything. She felt she was losing her or she’d already lost, time was slipping away from so much she wanted to do and say.

She rose, finishing the last of the coffee, placing the cup in the sink. Putting the crackers away, it felt such normal thing to do, a normal night. She blew out the last of the lamps. Opening the front door, letting Bud run out, she inhaled the sea’s scent, welcoming the breeze on her face, her gaze going to the moon. She remembered another time like this; she’d wanted to kiss Shannon so much that night, but the fear had won out. She brushed away the moisture from her eyes. No, there weren’t any normal nights for her anymore, there was always going to be a killer or worse. Her eyes closed briefly as she erected her walls, shutting out the world. She waited till Bud had finished his nightly business, then she closed and locked the door, before heading into the bedroom and sleepless torment.
Part 3
Shannon was in a foul mood, Jane didn’t need to be a psychic to know it either. She’d picked Shannon up at her apartment not long after getting the call from Jenny telling her she’d found something. So here she was, side glancing at her partner trying to walk on egg shells. She wondered what it was this time.

Shannon gazed out of the window, watching as the ferry pulled away heading out to the island. She’d wanted to come here alone first thing, but Jane had showed up at her door with Jenny’s summons. Now she found herself pissed off, she couldn’t do the one thing she spent half the night talking herself into, going there and finally talking it out with the psychic. She’d also spent the rest of the night wondering if Mac could add another notch to her flying stick. She knew she should think better of Jenny, knowing among other things she wasn’t just going to fall for Mac’s southern belle charms. But still…. She grumbled at herself.

Jane looked up from the report she was reading. “You say something?”

“No.”

Jane exhaled, it was going to be a long ferry ride.

….

Jenny stuck her head around the bedroom door when she heard Bud bark, expecting to see Jane and Shannon standing on the porch. She jolted. “Mac?”

“In the flesh.” Mac let her eyes have a good drink of Jenny’s appearance as she stepped out of the bedroom doorway. “Speaking of flesh.” Mac leered.

Jenny pulled her bath robe tighter, doing up the belt with a double knot. “Oh god. It’s too early for this.”

Mac smirked. “Never too early cher.”

Jenny chose to ignore her. “What are you doing here?” she paused, turning back not really believing what she thought she saw. She walked to the doorway, shielding her eyes to the harsh sun assault. “You parked your helicopter on my front yard.?!” She looked at Mac in total disbelief.

Mac however wasn’t answering, she was caught in the most amazing eyes she’d ever seen in her entire life. “Holy mother woman. Why the hell you been hiding those eyes.”

Jenny blinked, taken aback, suddenly realizing how close they really were. She stepped back into the living room, her eyes sighing in relief. Willing herself to stay calm. Mac wasn’t a threat. Not the kind that wanted to hurt her anyway. “What are you doing here?”

Mac mentally shook herself, she couldn’t help it, she just stared. “Didn’t you hear my approach? Kinda hard to miss.”

“I had the hair dryer on…. Stop changing the subject. What are you doing here?”

“Thought you might need some more aerial shots…. Thought I’d offer my services.”

Jenny didn’t believe her.

Mac made to move into the house, only to find a growling mass of fur standing in her way. She quickly backed off, hands up. “Whoa there. Don’t you remember me?” she went to pat his head, only to snap her hand back as teeth were shown. Nervous eyes flicked to Jenny. “He got rabies or something? He only saw me yesterday?”

Jenny silently thanked Bud, letting the time he gave her to compose herself. She hated being caught off guard with this woman. “He’s doing what he’s trained to do. I didn’t say you could come in.”

Mac frowned. “okayyyyyyyyyyy.” She waited. “Do I have to say pretty please? Offer a bone?”

Bud waited, his hackles still up.

Jenny exhaled. “Bud let her in.”

He snorted, but backed down, not going far, he moved to his usual guard place, his eyes following the woman as she entered.

“Well that’s more like it.” Mac gave the dog a smug look as she passed.

Bud’s ear twitched. He wondered if southern woman tasted like fried chicken.

Mac looked around. “Got any coffee?”

Shaking her head, Jenny made her way back to the bedroom. “I need to get dressed. Help yourself.” Jenny’s head snapped around. “And before you say it. I meant the coffee.”

Mac laughed. Ohhhhhhhhhhh this was fun .

Shannon slowed her step coming to a halt exactly the same time as Jane did. They both stood staring.

“Boss?”

“Yea?”

“Can you see a helicopter in Jenny’s front yard?”

“Yea.”

“Good.”

Then with a knowing look to each other they continued towards the psychic’s house.

Bud heard them coming, but he wasn’t about to leave the house right now. His eyes went to the reason why. This human was nosey. He watched her lift one of Jenny’s book from the shelf. He waited till he heard the footfalls on the step then rose to greet them.

“Morning fur ball.” Jane dipped to greet him, coming up when she saw Mac grinning at her. “See a rat got in.”

Mac’s grin grew. “Tsk.”

Shannon gave Bud a quick stroke, before drawing level with Mac. “You’re here early?”

Mac didn’t miss the unasked real question, she couldn’t help herself. “Or I’m here late!” However what she wasn’t ready for was the flash of pain in the blue eyes staring at her and Shannon moving away.

Jane gave Mac a disapproving look. “Where’s Jenny?”

“Getting dressed.” Mac concerned attention was on Shannon . “I got here about ten minutes ago.” She felt the need to explain. She knew her game had gone too far. She was relieved to note that Shannon finally met her eyes. Mac smiled, relieved again when Shannon gave her a small one back. Her phone rang, reaching into her hip pocket she flipped it open. “Mac.”

Shannon took a seat, while Jane helped herself to coffee.

Mac closed the phone, slightly annoyed. “Well mon a me. I have to go.”

“You just got here.” Jane helped herself to a coffee.

“And I’m just leaving…. Another lady in distress.” Mac smiled, nodding to Shannon as she moved. “Sorry cher.”

Shannon wondered what the apology was for, but didn’t say anything, she gave a nod.

“Tell Jenny I got called away and will catch up to her another time, you’ all remember where I am if you need me.”

Jane added cream to her cup. “Ahuh. See ya.”

Mac turned, pausing at the doorway. “Gonna get noisy. Did a dead stick landing, kinda coasted.”

Shannon just shook her head, she was never entirely sure if Mac had a death wish.

Noisy wasn’t a good explanation for what came next, within two minutes the whole house was shaking. Bud yelped running under the table.

Jenny came out, caught in putting her hair up. “What the hell is that?”

“God’s gift to woman descending back into the heavens.” Shannon muttered as she rose slamming the front door to stop the sand from being blown in.

Jane snorted into her coffee.

Jenny got over her shock as the sound diminished. Suddenly realizing she had a house full again. Her eyes went to Bud, she really needed to have a word with him about warnings. Her eyes fell on Shannon , she looked like she hadn’t slept.

Shannon met her gaze, she felt the slight jolt of warmth. Jenny felt it too, she so wanted to reach out to it and wrap it around her.

Jane’s eyes watched each of them as she sipped. Sometimes she felt like third wheel.

Jenny broke the stare, knowing her face was flushed.

Shannon made herself turn away, knowing her heart was beating faster. “What did you find?”

Jenny welcomed the change of subject. “Come on…. I’ll show you.”

Both Jane and Shannon followed her into the den. They both waited as Jenny went to her desk and starting working on the laptop. Finally after ten minutes she looked up at them. “First I have a question?”

“Go ahead.” Shannon folded her arms. She didn’t like being back in this room on so many levels.

“What’s happening about the FBI?” Jenny wasn’t sure how she kept her voice from trembling.

Shannon understood the true meaning of the question. “They’re staying away from you. Grieves told them were using you on the case. Agent Ryter is in charge. Grieves persuaded him to let you be. On the understand this time….” She paused. “…. This time Grieves and us give them full information. I agreed.”

Jane’s eyebrow rose. “You did?”

Shannon looked to her, snapping. “The alternative was them taking Jenny into ‘protective custody’ as they put it and….”

Jenny felt sick, she knew what Shannon was saying. “You’ll be taken off the force for breaking protocols again.”

“Yea.” She met Jenny’s sad gaze. “So, for now we still on our own, letting them know of course our every movement….” She twitched a smile.

“Of course.” Jane grinned.

Jenny exhaled her fear. This felt so wrong, she felt like she was screwing Shannon ‘s life up again. Her eyes slid closed as the worst image invaded. Lost in it, she didn’t hear Shannon move, but she felt the warmth close.

“Hey?”

Her eyes opened, meeting the concerned blue. This was the closest they’d been to each other and her body craved it, it ached, it took so much to keep Shannon ‘s thread dormant within her.”

Shannon wanted to touch her. “Jen?” she reached out.

Jenny made herself take a step back, ignoring the hurt look. She turned, lifting the file she was working on. “You were right. Calusa were a tribe that inhabited the Keys. But, it was roughly twelve thousand years ago they first set foot here.”

Shannon dropped her hand, turning away to compose herself.

Jenny focused on the writing, continuing. “They pretty much ruled the other tribes. Not a lot is really known about them. The museum you visited on Marco Island is one of the first dig sites that brought the tribe to light. Since then they’ve found only a few references’ to them….” She turned lifting one of the printed sheets from her research. “…. The Spaniard Ponce de León was sent here to capture the gold and riches, he was beaten back by a strong force of over eighty Calusa warriors, they were fierce fighters and showed little mercy. They held against the attacks for over fifty years, until finally Spain tried a different tact, they sent missionaries, roughly around 1573. Slowly they built the mission into a large fortification. The Calusa accepted a peace, existing under Spanish rule. It didn’t take long for the Calusa to circum too what happened to most of the Native American Indians, small pox and other diseases, their people died, they lost their hold over the other tribes they became little more than pirates, taking riches from Spanish wrecks. Each century that passed they grew smaller, the last record was less than 80 families…. By then stronger tribes from the main land were coming. The Creeks, Yeamon, even the Calusa eventually disappeared from history.” She looked up, not surprised to find question in the eyes watching her. “I know you want to know what the hell this has to do with anything?”

They waited. Already knowing Jenny’s methods.

“I needed this background. I started with their history. Because of it I found this and I that I was wrong about the real reason he used the warehouses.” She pushed a piece of paper across on the desk.

They looked at it, recognizing it as a geographically land map of the Keys. They could already see the red marks of where the fires were. Jenny pushed over an almost identical picture this time the dots were in black.

“What are those?” Shannon lifted the picture with the black dots.

“Calusa burial mounds. He’s placing the fires directly in the same position.”

Jane looked over Shannon ‘s shoulder. “Why?”

Jenny sighed. “I don’t know. I thought maybe he was following Calusa ritual of some sort, but there is almost nothing known about them.” She shifted through some of the vast research she’d done. “Did you know that Mound Island was made by them…. They used seashells.”

Jane’s eyes snapped up. “Seashells as in oyster?”

Jenny smiled. “Yes.”

Shannon looked to each of them. “What am I missing?”

Jane stared at Jenny in amazement. “He used oyster shells in his compound mix for the explosives. Jenny picked up on it yesterday.”

Shannon turned to Jenny. “So?”

Jenny wiped her bangs out of her eyes. “So…. It’s another link to him and them. This history, this tribe.”

Shannon mused over it a moment before looking at the burial mound picture. “There are only five fires…. There were six symbols…” her eyes met Jenny’s again. “…. what’s with the symbols?”

“Those I’m having more problems with… They’re not directly linked with the Calusa, their Mayan and believe me when I say getting into their heritage is going to take more than an all-night research trip. From what I did find out, each symbol has an individual meaning…… it’s like they’re right, but wrong. Anyway they each having a meaning.” she placed the picture of the jaguar down. “Jaguar….Strength. A big sign of power….. This the Calusa did worship, the carving you spoke of was of the jaguar.” She placed the bat. “ Zotz. The guardian of the underworld.” She continued in rapid success, placing each picture down to match her explanation.

“Eagle….wisdom. mental focus.”

“Earth…. Transition. A reminder there are larger forces at work.”

“Night…. A balance, putting things to right…. Making peace with oneself or greater things.”

“Sun…… Ascension, clarity and awareness. A talisman of great focus.”

Finishing she sat down. “I don’t know why he assigned each one to each fire, whether it was random or preplanned.”

Jane pointed at the earth picture. “He hasn’t used that one and according to you there isn’t any burial mounds left.”

Jenny wiped her brow. “I know. I’m assuming this is some sort of message, so I worked up what they could mean. I’ve looked at the order he used them…. Fire one was the Eagle….Wisdom. He was looking for something, somehow he got his answer because he continued to fire two the Bat… guardian of the underworld. That one I have no clue as to what he got from it. The third fire was the Sun…. Ascension. I felt it, that day in the warehouse but I didn’t understand it. He felt like he’d passed some sort of test. He got his focus because of it, because the next fire I found his emotions harder to read. Fire two… Night… he made peace with himself, felt balanced. The emotions from fire one to two changed so rapidly I first thought he had some form of second personality, but I realize now he was just following the meaning of the symbols. Fire five. The jaguar… power. That I don’t think I need to explain, except he feels so in control right now and powerful, he’s ready for the next one. What I do know…. What I feel is, this one is more important than all of the rest put together. It’s transformation…. I think it’s his. He’s waiting for a sign some form of great force.”

Shannon didn’t like that. “if he is following some sort of regime for the Calusa. Could there be more burial mounds we don’t know about?”

Jenny shook her head. “Not according to the leading archeologist working the digs there isn’t. Although Dr Shaw told me that most of all the ancient sites were destroyed in the sixty’s by huge redevelopment and the government wasn’t very concerned about heritage.”

“Maybe he knows more than we do?” Jane leant against the edge of the desk.

“Well if he does, he’s ahead of us.” Jenny picked up the last of the sheets. “I did find something out you might want to tell the FBI. But I get a feeling they’re already found the information.”

Shannon looked at her in surprise. “Why?”

Jenny passed over the list. “Each and every site were not only ancient burial sites, they were all at one time owned by the united states navy.”

Jane’s eyes widened. “You’re kidding me.”

“The government took over a lot of land during the Cuban missile crisis. Most of it has been sold off in the last ten years. Downsizing.”

Shannon exhaled. “Well that explains the terrorist alert. They think he’s working up to a hit on the Navy air station or the Navel port in the Keys.” She paused, seeing the look on Jenny’s face. “…. But you don’t think it’s any of those do you?”

“No.”

“What do you think Jenny?” Jane really wanted to know.

“There’s another interpretation for the burial mounds…. That they were pyres….Signals to the gods.”

Jane paled, realizing now that’s what she’d said earlier. “Oh crap.”

Shannon felt the same but kept her eyes firmly on Jenny. “Go on?”

Jenny rose, pacing while she talked. “The Calusa themselves believed in three supernatural people, three souls, and that souls migrated to animals after death. The most powerful governed the physical world, the second most powerful ruled human governments, and the last helped in wars, choosing which side would win. They believed the souls were the pupil of a person’s eye, his shadow, and his reflection. The soul in the eye stayed with the body after death, and the Calusa would consult with that soul at the graveside. The other two souls left the body after death and entered into an animal. If they killed such an animal, the soul would migrate to a lesser animal, and eventually be reduced to nothing. They believed no matter what they couldn’t die, they would just live on in another form forever.” She stopped, looking to each of them. “Do you know why King Phillip of Spain really sent explorers out to conqueror the new world?”

Jane answered. “Gold. Wealth. Slaves. Turning savages to the faith. I’ve seen the movies.”

Jenny shook her head. “That was part of it. But a little known fact was Queen Isabella wanted the fountain of youth.”

Shannon blinked. “Excuse me. Are you saying the Calusa had it?”

Jenny felt the frustration. “Not in the sense you mean…. Their belief system meant they never died. Imagine Isabella hearing rumors brought back by her explorers of a tribe that didn’t die!”

Jane scoffed. “Yea see how that worked out for them. They’re extinct.”

Shannon stood up, waving her hand. “Wait. Wait. I’m not getting what this has to do with the arsonist? You’re saying he’s looking for the fountain of youth?” She had to try really hard not to scoff.

“No. what I’m saying is. There’s too many variables right now. He could believe his signaling, he could believe he’s calling the God’s, or bringing the fountain of youth. He could be testing. The only thing that is certain is he likes fires and I’m telling you now, he likes playing games.”

Jane looked at the picture of the fires. “Testing?”

Jenny took a breath, glad someone was understanding. “Yes.”

Shannon looked over the printouts and pictures on the table, her eyes went to the pictures on the wall. “That’s a hell of leap Jenny.”

Jenny stood tall. “No it isn’t. Because that’s what I felt…. What I didn’t understand. The euphoria, I’ve seen it before, in other tribes, shamans going into trances summoning the spirit world. I’ve also seen it in terrorists, mercenaries.”

Shannon knew she couldn’t argue with that, but there was no proof in front of them she could take back to the Captain or the FBI to prove it. As she looked to Jenny, she knew she knew it too. “Okay so we have no clue what he wants. How the hell do we catch him?”

Jenny let out a silent breath, she wasn’t sure Shannon was going to just trust her gift anymore. “He only has one more fire. He’ll follow the symbols for whatever reason.”

“I understand that, but you’re not giving me anything to go and catch this son of bitch.” Shannon gritted her teeth in frustration.

Jenny stiffened. “I know that! I don’t have the information he does. He has to know of another burial mound and I’ve exhausted the research on it. There isn’t one I can find. He leaves nothing at the sites, either evidence or in the essence. I’m sorry.”

Jane stood hearing the defeat in the psychic’s voice. She thought Shannon was pushing too hard. “You’ve done great Jenny honestly. You think the FBI or even us would have come up with this stuff. Just tell us what you need?”

Jenny started tidying up the pictures and files on her desk. “I need more time with these, maybe I can find something I missed. I need you to try and find out any information on burial sites found during the sixties, I keep coming up against government red tape because most of it was on navy land. Follow the explosive angle, I’m no use to you on that. The FBI’s profile on him is close enough and you’re not going to find some zealot who’s showed up in any records preaching how awful the destruction of the Calusa may be. What I would look at is someone with deep roots with this island. He may not have been born here but he certainly knows it inside and out…. I’ll call you if I find anything.”

Shannon knew they were being dismissed. She moved to say something but Jane caught her arm, shaking her head. Exhaling Shannon nodded, joining Jane as she walked from the room. She hated walking away, she hated just leaving. They made it to the car and silently headed back towards the ferry.

….

He stared at the newspaper for the tenth time. He was oblivious to the world surrounding him, he just continued to stare at the photograph and small article.

A source within the police department gave information today that they’d nearly caught the arsonist, who is now responsible for six warehouse fires in the Keys area. The source said they’d been informed by a local resident Miss Jenny Newton that the arsonist was in the building close by. Miss Newton is also said to have informed the police department where to look for the two trapped detectives working the case. The two detectives were later rescued. However the police failed to capture the arsonist and he still is dangerous and at large.

Miss Jenny Newton is known as a physic and has been called in before by the Keys police department to aid them in cases. The most notable was the ‘tooth fairy case’ from last year where……

He’d read enough, his eyes shifted to the black and white small photograph of the woman. His hands clenched so tightly on the newspaper the edges tore. This woman was the reason he was nearly caught, this woman was the reason he couldn’t rejoice in the flames. His eyes darkened, a slow smile came to his face. With one swift action he tore the newspaper in half and rose throwing it down as he headed home.

….

Shannon placed the phone down, leaning back in her chair to ease the ache in her shoulder, her eyes going around the squad room. Every available officer and detective were involved in this case now. She’d filled the Captain in when they’d arrived back on Jenny’s findings and wasn’t really surprised when he’d stood there staring at her open mouthed. She didn’t envy him the job of explaining it to the FBI. She listened as Jane finished the last of her conversation. She could tell she’d gotten nowhere either.

Jane replaced the handset. “Still no match on the fingerprint so this guy never legal worked with explosives. NCIS just got back to me and no service man or woman matches the print either, so he wasn’t in any of the forces. So, where the hell did he learn?”

“Jack’s still adamant this guy didn’t teach himself?”

“Oh yes. Especially after fire number five. This guy learned his trade. Shannon were not going to find him this way.”

Shannon looked away. “I know.” She turned as Grieves came out of his office, she was surprised to see he was pale. “Captain?” her eyes dipped to the newspaper being offered out. She took it, her brow frowning as she read. Then her face filled with rage, she rose so fast it sent her chair spilling. “I’m going to fucking kill him!”

Grieves moved fast grabbing her. “Peter had nothing to do with this. It was one of the cops working the line, he told a friend who went to the papers with it. He’s the one who brought me the paper. Shannon listen to me. He didn’t do this. Not this time.”

The rage was still there, but she knew the Captain wouldn’t lie to her.

Jane lifted the paper from the floor. “Oh no.”

Shannon turned on the Captain. “I promised her this wouldn’t happen. I promised she’d be fucking safe. How the hell does this keep happening!?”

Grieves let her rant.

“God damn it Captain.” The anger eased, now she was more worried. “He’ll see this… it won’t take him long to know and find her.”

“I know.” Grieves nodded sadly, then his eyes steeled. “But he isn’t going to get near her. I don’t care what she wants on this she’s getting 24/7 protection.”

Shannon stilled. “I…. I don’t think I can do that this time.”

Grieves surprised, looked at her. “Okay.”

Jane rose. “I’ll work the team. If need be I’ll stay with Jenny, but I very much doubt she’s going to allow it in the house this time.” Her eyes shifted to Shannon .

Shannon knew what she meant. Because it wasn’t her.

“You two are official assigned to Newton . Go.”

Shannon gritted her teeth, she didn’t need this now. God why didn’t things just go right for once.

Grieves was already back in his office making calls, as they grabbed their guns and badges and headed out back to the island.

….

Jenny stared at the newspaper, swallowing. She knew what this meant. He knew. Her eyes slipped closed. The touch to her hand made them snap open, she’d forgotten Claire was there.

“So, go pack your things you’re coming to stay with me.”

Jenny placed the newspaper down, wondering why her hands weren’t shaking. “I’m not running away again.”

Claire exhaled smoke, stubbing out the cigarette on the makeshift saucer ashtray. “You’re not running. You’re going somewhere safe. How long do you think it’s going to take for the arsonist to know where you live?”

Jenny shivered, hugging herself as she rose. “You’re comforting talk really needs some work Claire. Jesus.”

“I’m not here to comfort you I’m here too……”

Jenny spun around. “Rescue me like Shannon did.”

Claire stilled. “That was uncalled for. I’m not in competition with her.”

Jenny gave a dry laugh. “Aren’t you?”

Claire pulled out another cigarette, ignoring Jenny’s disapproving look. She took a long drag as she lit it, then exhaled the smoke slowly, her eyes meeting Jenny’s. “No. because I know I’ve already lost.”

Jenny’s mouth fell open. She sighed. “I’m sorry.”

Claire shrugged. “Nothing to be sorry for you never promised me anything you told me from the start you needed a friend. It was my fault I expected us to go back to how we were. I made a mistake…..” she smoked again. “… The biggest I’ve ever made in my life. I walked away from you. You’re right I never did understand you’re…. you’re gift.” She took another lungful. “More to the point I didn’t even try and honestly Jenny.” She met the eyes watching her. “… I don’t want to understand.” She shrugged again. “So, this is me here as a friend offering you a safe place again.”

Jenny swallowed hard. She felt all the emotions of the past rise up, the love, the intimacy and finally the all consuming hurt of rejection. But still she didn’t like to see Claire hurting and no matter what it looked like on the outside she knew she was. “I can’t leave.”

Claire looked away. “Because of this case or because of her?”

“Because if I run he wins and there’s no guarantee he’ll even bother with me. He’s got an agenda and I’m not on it.” Even as she said it she knew Claire didn’t believe her for one minute, she wasn’t sure she believed herself.

Claire took the last inhale from the cigarette. “Well then I guess you’ve got a roommate for a while.”

Jenny tensed. “I don’t think that such a good idea either.”

Claire slapped the table, making Jenny jump. “Damn it. Am I to be shut out completely now. Why won’t you let me help you?”

Jenny’s eyes flared. “Why does everyone assume I need help.”

“Because you’re just too stubborn to see that you do.” Claire gave out an exasperated sigh. “Look, at least let me stay till the cops get here.”

Jenny turned away. “What makes you think she’s coming?” She immediately realized her slip when Claire eyes snapped to her.

Claire laughed, lifting the newspaper. “Because she’ll see this and won’t be able to stay away.”

Jenny swallowed hard. She got the feeling time was repeating itself. “I won’t let her.”

Claire wasn’t sure what Jenny was really referring too. “You think you can stop her protecting you. You can’t it’s in her blood…. You’re in her blood.”

Jenny looked over surprised. “I never told …..”

Claire just shook her head. “That somehow you two have a connection. Yea you did. I may not understand it. But I get that you’ve shut your side down somehow.” She rose. “You’re a coward.”

Jenny blanched. “What?”

“Do you realize you’re doing to her what I did to you, shutting you out…. Making it impossible for her to stay. I think you’d be happy if she told you to fuck off and leave her alone. That way you can be on your own…” her eyes went around the house. “….locked in your time capsule with the world the other side of those walls you put up and that door.”

Jenny’s jaw tensed. “You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.”

Claire moved closer, meeting the ice look she was getting. “You weren’t responsible for getting her shot.”

Jenny flinched. “She wasn’t just shot! She died… died get it I was there. I felt it.” She slammed her hand onto her chest. “….and I couldn’t do anything about it.” She wiped at the tears, wanting them to stop, wanting to be angry.

Claire looked at her sadly. “Jenny. Shannon made her own choices, you gave her the warning she didn’t listen. You can’t keep punishing yourself over this….because you’re punishing her too.”

Jenny pulled her arm away as Claire reached to pull her closer. “You don’t know what you’re talking about. If you’re going to stay Claire you’re going to have to drop it.”

“Why won’t you admit your angry with her?” She knew she’d failed when Jenny turned to her. She saw it, Jenny had shut herself down.

Jenny turned away, moving towards the den. “I have work to do.”

Claire exhaled. Looking down she found deep brown eyes watching her. She didn’t like dogs never did, but sometimes when she looked at this one, she felt she was looking at something more than just a dog. “She’s mad at me.”

Bud arft.

“She’s mad at Shannon too.”

Bud gave a low woof.

“She’s going to destroy herself.”

Bud whined.

Claire laughed at herself, this was weird. “So what are we going to do about it?”

Bud suddenly stood, running to the door, looking back at Claire he barked. Claire walked over, following his gaze. She looked down at him surprised, recognizing the approaching figure. “Well well if it isn’t the girls in blue….” She looked at the dog again. “Did you arrange this?” Then she barked a laugh, god she was going nuts. But she wasn’t going to waste this opportunity. She grabbed her bag and marched from the house, down the steps and headed straight for the approaching figures.

Shannon almost stopped walking when she saw who was coming from Jenny’s house.

Jane grimaced. “Oh lord, the ice queen.” She gave a not so sure look to Shannon .

Claire marched right up to Shannon completely ignoring Jane. “I need to talk to you.”

Shannon stepped around her, intent on keeping on walking. “I’m sure you d….”

Claire interrupted. “She’s not going to let you help her.”

Shannon stopped walking. “I don’t see how this….”

Claire interrupted again. “And what’s more she’s going to make you leave. You wanna know why?”

Shannon waited, just managing to control her temper.

“Because she can’t take the chance that she’ll feel you die again because of something she’s done.”

Shannon felt the anvil fall into her stomach.

Jane decided she’d really didn’t want to hear this and head towards the house.

Shannon swallowed. “This is none of your business.”

“Yes it is… because I’m gonna take any crumbs I can get if you leave.”

Shannon breathing stuttered.

“Because I will get her if you walk away. She’ll be so miserable and alone she’ll fall into the first person who shows they care.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“Oh don’t worry I’m not getting all mushy. I’m telling you this, because it’s getting in the way of both of you. Her need to think straight and your need to protect her…. I took her the newspaper I’m guessing that’s why you’re here?”

All Shannon could do was nod, her mind was reeling.

“Then do your job. Just like you did last time no matter what she says she wants. You’re a cop act like it. From what I’ve seen you’re acting like a love sick puppy who got dumped in the trash. That’s going to get her killed.”

Shannon whole body tensed, she so wanted to strike out.

Claire eased back a bit. “ Shannon . I’ll survive without her…. Will you?” Claire didn’t wait for an answer she moved passed Shannon heading down the beach to the port. “Tell her to call me.” She turned away before Shannon could see the tears.

Shannon just stood stock still.

….

Jane knew as soon as reached the door Jenny been crying. “You know about the article.” She took a small step into the house.

Jenny nodded. “Claire brought it over.”

“Then you know why we’re here.”

Jenny looked up from the table. “We?”

Jane motioned back up the beach. “ Shannon ‘s here.”

“Oh.”

“You know we’re going to give you protection right.” Jane slipped into the chair next to Jenny. “He isn’t going to get anywhere near you.”

Jenny sighed. “And if I don’t want protection.” She suddenly wondered where Claire had gone.

Before Jane could answer a deeper voice sounded from the doorway. “You’re still going to get it whether you like it or not.”

Jane studied her friend, something had changed, she could see something, confidence, the presence that had been missing from before. Damn it she even looked taller. She wanted to jump up and down clapping, her boss was back.

Jenny met the gaze full on. “This is still my house.”

Shannon stepped fully into the room. “And I made a promise.”

Jane looked to each of them in turn.

“I don’t want your help Shannon. In fact……” Jenny rose. “I don’t want you anywhere near me. I thought I had made that as clear as I could over this year.”

Jane wanted to slug her, or shoot her either worked right now.

Shannon didn’t show how much the words hurt. “Fine. Jane stays.”

Jenny looked at Jane. Who shrunk back a little under the glare. “I don’t want her either.”

“Then pick someone else…. If not I will. How about five boys in blue sitting on the beach 24/7.”

Two sets of eyes locked in a battle of wills. Jane really wanted to be somewhere else right now. They both kept up the stare. Shannon stepped closer, her voice low. “I’m not going away.” She meant that on so many different levels.

Jenny felt her mouth go dry, her walls stuttered around her.

Jane nearly jumped out of her skin when a wet nose touched her hand, she looked down seeing Bud’s worried stare.

“Jenny let me help.”

Jenny just stared, seeing how open the blue eyes were in front of her, she wasn’t shut out anymore. It scared her to death, she was trying so hard to lock the walls, but already she was feeling the threads twist and turn within her.

“Please.”

Not being able to take anymore Jenny turned away. “Fine watch me, but not in my house.”

Jane and Bud let out a sigh of relief for small mercies.

Shannon didn’t feel like she’d won anything as she watched Jenny set every wall in place again, she knew she gotten through, she’d felt the warmth, the quick silver in her veins, but now, now all she felt was ice water.

“I need to work. The sooner I catch this guy the sooner I get my life back.”

Jane looked sideways at Shannon . “Am I staying or you?”

“I am.” Shannon ‘s eyes never left Jenny’s figure as she walked into the den.

“I’ll set up the watch house. Usual surveillance team?”

“Yea.” She wondered if she was making a mistake.

Jane rose, giving Bud a quick pat before moving to stand in front of Shannon . “I don’t know what Claire said to you. But whatever it was don’t forget it boss.”

Shannon eyes dropped to meet Jane’s. “How do I fight for her when she won’t fight back?”

Jane quirked a smile. “I find making them mad works.”

Shannon wasn’t so sure. “Get the team up and running. Bring over my gear later. Until then any problems I’ve got my cell.”

Jane nodded, heading to the door. She paused. “Could Marcus help in this?”

Surprised, Shannon turned. “You want to bring him in?”

“He could work his voodoo shit at the fire sites… maybe he can pick up something? Honestly I think we could use his help.”

Shannon thought for a moment. She knew Jenny was going to be pissed. “Ask him.”

Jane nodded. “Later boss.” She left.

“Later.” Shannon exhaled, wondering where or what she should be doing. She moved to the rocker, not really ready to go another round with Jenny right now. She smiled as Bud buried his head in her hands as she sat. “Am I doing the right thing here boy?”

He licked her palms. She rubbed around his ears. Her eyes going to the den closed door. “Sure hope you’re right.”

….

“So explain to me why I’m here when you got Jenny on the case?” Marcus ducked under an ashen beam, his nose wrinkled at the smell around him.

Jane followed close behind. “Because she has issues.”

He glanced over his shoulder at her. “Ahuh. She doesn’t know I’m here does she?”

Jane coughed as ash and dust fell from a warped beam. “Ah. That would be a no.”

He rolled his eyes. He caught himself as he half stumbled, jerking his hand back from the greasy substance it landed in. after sniffing it and coughing in disgust he wiped it on the charred wall.

“ Shannon is the biggest issue.” Jane pushed him forward.

His mouth made an ‘o’ “They still haven’t talked it out?”

Jane snorted. “I think killing each other they’re more closer too.”

He grinned. “They’ll be fine then.”

Jane shook her head. “I hope so. Cos this case is going nowhere till they sort it out.”

“Jenny will shut herself down Jane. It won’t affect the case.”

“I wasn’t talking about Jenny.”

He stilled, before continuing forward. “Jenny had to have her reasons for leaving and I got a pretty sure idea what they are. Shannon must have some idea.” His words tailed off, his attention going now to where he was standing, he felt something, a tingling.

Jane watched as always caught in fascination and skepticism.

He moved his hand above the floor, palm down, just letting it slowly circle around him. He crouched, lifting some of the earth rubbing it into his palm. His eyes slipped closed. He could feel the fire’s heat on his skin, feel the presence of the arsonist. He stood walking across to the far wall, placing his hand upon it. “He sure loves his work.”

Jane nodded. “Kinda got that already.”

Marcus smiled. “Doesn’t surprise me. So, Jenny feels he’s in this for a larger cause?”

“Yea.”

“Weird cos all I’m getting is he’s doing this all for himself.” He rubbed his hands together to rid it of dirt.

“The fires?”

“The whole shebang. He thinks whatever he is doing is going to get him what he wants.”

Jane frowned. “Which is what?”

Marcus shrugged. “That one I’ve got no clue….” He frowned again. “Thing is….. I don’t think he has a clue either.”

Jane looked up from the piece of metal she was kicking with her foot. She walked towards him. “It would explain a lot. Why Jenny’s mojo couldn’t get a hold on what he was doing or where he’s going?”

Marcus took Jane’s hand, helping her over the debris. She was surprised as he was when they realized they’d both done it without thinking. They both released at the same time.

He shifted. “Um…. Well yes.”

“Are you getting anything off him, that might help find him?”

Marcus looked down hiding his smile. It actually meant a lot that Jane was willing to go on faith with him. He concentrated. “Construction. He’s worked in it.”

Jane shook her head. “No way. We’ve been over every single firm, anyone who has worked with explosives would have shown up on the partial print.”

“I didn’t say he worked with explosives. He’s worked construction. It’s why he knows so much about weakness’s in building. Where I stopped by the wall.”

Jane nodded.

“He spent a long time sitting there. He has structural knowledge. Sorry that’s all I know…..except for….”

Jane halted in her walk. “Except?”

“Just something I felt in the soil that didn’t belong here, red clay…So where next.”

Jane smiled hearing in the distance what she’d been waiting for. “You said you wanted to see the sites like we did.” She motioned to the horizon.

Marcus turned, his eyes narrowing to see. They widened. “Did I mention I get air sick?”

Jane eyes snapped to him.

Mac’s landing was perfect as always, she pushed open the doors, grinning as the two approached. “Anyone need a ride?”

Jane kept low until she was near the cabin, then jumped in. “Thanks for coming.”

Mac smiled, looking to the back as Marcus got in. “no problem. Hi I’m Mac. You must be the spooky guy?”

Marcus blinked for a moment, caught by the dazzling smile. “Hi… Nice to know you were told what was happening.” He gave Jane a glare who simply smiled.

“Okay buckle up. Where to first?”

Jane hurried to secure the belt. “Any of the remaining two. You’re choice.”

Marcus looked around slightly worried when he couldn’t locate the belt. Without turning around Mac spoke. “You’re sitting on it spooky.”

Marcus shifted getting it, clipping it closed. “Stop calling me that hot shot.”

Jane bit her cheek.

Mac just gave a deep laugh. “Ohhhhhhhhhhh this is gonna be a fun day.” She increased power and drew the helicopter straight up.

Marcus turned green. Seeing it Jane spoke into the mic. “Mac…. Unless you want to get puked on I’d advise you to take it easy.” She motioned with her eyes to the back.

Mac looked over her shoulder, almost turning green herself at the color Marcus had turned. “Okay guess spooky needs some coddling.”

If Marcus hadn’t felt so bad as the helicopter turned he would have come back with something, but right now he was just trying to make sure nothing else came back up.

Marcus knelt and did as he did before with the soil. His sense was a little off as he still felt the affect of flying, but he concentrated.

Mac leant closer to Jane, feeling the need to whisper. “So, you believe spooky over there?”

Jane bristled. “He has a name.”

Mac now looked at her, giving an inner smile. “Didn’t answer my question. You believe this shit?”

Jane remained silent, watching Marcus at work. “Yes I believe this shit.” She pushed away from Mac, giving her a stern look. “I didn’t. Then I saw both what they could do.”

Mac frowned. “Both.”

Jane could have kicked herself. “Jenny can do stuff.”

“Can she now.” She wondered if that explained the weird feeling she got every time she was around the blonde, she was about to ask ‘what stuff’ When Marcus approached.

He wiped his hands on jeans. “Same thing as last time.”

Jane exhaled. “Nothing then.” She ran her hand back through her hair. “Next one?”

“The red clay is here again. Did any of forensic say the red clay was normal?”

“I don’t think they thought of it as anything but residue of the earth around.”

Mac was confused, but she wasn’t going to admit it. “So… you feel stuff.”

Marcus stared at her. “Yea.”

“So, you like spider man, he feels stuff?” Her eyes sparkled in mirth.

Marcus rolled his. “We haven’t got time for this…. Can we go to the next one?” He addressed Jane.

Mac didn’t take offence just shrugged turning and heading back to the helicopter, chuckling.

Mac and Jane fell into step.

Jane looked sideways at him. “She doesn’t mean any harm.”

He sighed. “I know…. Guess I’m just sensitive about the teasing, it’s been a while.”

Mac started up the chopper, throwing dirt and sand up, both of them got in as quickly as they could.

Marcus gritted his teeth as he heard what Mac was singing.

“Spiderman Spiderman does whatever a spider can. Spins a web any size, catches thieves just like flies, watch out here comes de spidermannnnnnnnnn”

Jane wanted to shoot her.

….

Jane bit into her hamburger, watching Marcus across from her devour his own quarter pounder. Glad to see his color was normal and that he wasn’t so tense. She really could have shot Mac. She’d done nothing but tease him all day as they went over all five fire sites and not much had come out of it, except Marcus in a foul temper, which she didn’t blame him. Now she understood more why Jenny and Marcus kept so isolated, Mac hadn’t meant any harm but it still took its toll. Marcus had been silent most of the day and Jane decided she didn’t like that much. Mac had dropped them back to their car and she’d called Shannon and updated her on the construction angle and the red clay and Marcus’s sense idea. She was trying to get her head around the fact she’d told Mac she’d believed, she’d never really considered herself a believer in anything. She looked over to Marcus who was silently looking out of the window. She wished she could apologize, but she knew the apology wasn’t hers to make. There was one thing she could do. She relaxed back. “I… um asked Jenny why she hadn’t contacted you.”

He stopped chewing, his eyes came from the window around to her, sparking. “You shouldn’t have done that.” He placed down the burger.

“I know. But I’m a take action kinda girl. I hate skirting around the edges and believe me I’m skirting enough already with the boss.” She exhaled lifting her soda and sucking on the straw nosily.

He couldn’t help it he smiled, picking up his burger again, chewing. “So I’m guessing it wasn’t good news.” He tried not to make it sound as desperate as he felt.

She’d missed the smile. “She doesn’t know how too. Says it’s been so long….”

He butted in. “Yea. I’m kinda at the same place with that.”

She gave him a weak smile. “Maybe I should just bang all your heads together.”

He laughed. “She’d see it coming. She’s a psychic remember.”

Jane snorted into her drink. “You’re too damn forgiving. You’re not even mad at her.”

“Who says I’m not. But what’s the point of being mad when I’m not near her. I’m saving it.” With a grin he tore into the burger.

Jane was about to answer when the phone rang. She pulled it from her pocket, flipping it open. “Yea.” Her eyes lit up. “Really? Okay I’m back in an hour unless you need me now?…… okay boss.” She clicked it closed.

“ Shannon ?”

“Yea. She’s set up the surveillance, she’s called the Captain and the FBI.” Her face creased on the word. “They’re all now looking into the construction angle and red clay.”

His eyes danced. “I’ve got the FBI believing in my voodoo?”

Jane chuckled. “Ahuh.”

“Cool.”

Sometimes he was such a kid. She smiled. A kid she was really starting to like. She sucked on her straw shyly watching him. She picked at the edge of the cup. “Why does he chose the mounds, if he hasn’t a clue what he’s doing?”

Marcus thought for a moment. “If I had to guess I’d say he heard of the history, visited the museum just like Shannon did except for him something clicked inside him. That is of course if he’s a fruitloop.”

“The trigger.” She shivered, she hated fruitloops.

Marcus shook his head. “I doubt it. The trigger would have happened before he would have been looking for something.” He shrugged. “Something attracted him.”

“Probably the nice bright pictures.”

Marcus laughed.

Jane placed down her drink. “If and I say if he thinks doing this is going to bring what he wants. What?”

“That’s why outside my level of voodoo Jane. You need to talk to the Jenny she gets more into these nut jobs heads.”

“Yea well her head isn’t exactly concentrating outside her own problems.”

Marcus leant forward. “They will sort it out. For one Shannon won’t let her run again.”

“You sure of that. Sometimes I think Shannon has just given up.”

“From what I remember Shannon doesn’t give up easily.”

They both smiled at that.

Jane looked down. “I’m sorry about Mackenzie, normally she isn’t that much of an asshole.”

“She’s scared of me.”

Jane head jerked up.

He shrugged. “She felt threatened, it’s her way of dealing with it. Some do it with sarcasm, humor like her. Others….. Well others just don’t take it so well.” He shook his head as if clearing a bad memory. “Anyway it wasn’t your fault. I got what I needed from the sites. I just need to go home and think.”

She nodded. She had a rough idea how others would handle it. “Okay.”

….

Jenny threw down the pen in frustration. She’d been over the new emails and research sent to her and no-one working on any of the Calusa sites or histories knew of any other burial mounds. She’d gone over everything again and again looking for some small clue anything she could latch on too. She’d thought about going back to the fire sites and trying to go back in the essence to the time of the Calusa. She’d never tried going that far back before, she wasn’t even sure she could.

“Damn it!” She pushed the papers off the desk onto the floor with a shove. Her head fell forward, her hands going into her hair. She exhaled slowly, she had to think, keep her mind working. Her eyes went to the window, it was dark now, she hadn’t heard any sound from the house for hours, even Bud had fallen asleep in the corner. She remembered her words to Shannon , how harsh. But it had worked, Shannon had left. She’d gotten what she wanted, again.

She rose, the feeling of guilt now weighed on her more than ever, even more than it did a year ago when she’d walked away. She didn’t bother turning on the lamps as she moved from the den to the living-room, she was getting used to being in the dark. Without thought or appetite she made herself a sandwich, biting into it as she poured herself a glass of milk. Her whole body froze as she was putting the carton back in the fridge. Her eyes went to the front door. Slowly she put the milk down, the sandwich now forgotten on the side, she moved to the door, placing her palm flat against the dark wood. Breath escaped as she opened it, peeking out through the gap, she inhaled sharply.

Shannon sat up from the bed roll she’d placed out on the porch.

Jenny didn’t know whether to throw something at her or cry.

Shannon shifted. “You’re up late.”

Angrily Jenny pulled the door open the rest of the way. “What are you doing here?”

Shannon just stared, for that brief moment when the door opened she could have sworn Jenny was pleased to see her. There was another thing, she’d felt the tingling on her skin, which could only have meant the reason being, Jenny has felt her. It gave her hope it wasn’t too late to get through, to sort out this mess. “Guarding. I told you once I’d camp out if I had to protect you.”

Jenny wasn’t sure what the hell to do. She stepped out onto the porch, surprised to find the air tonight was hot.

Shannon just watched her, a memory surfaced, god she was so beautiful.

Jenny kept her gaze on the sea, she could smell it now, a storm was coming, the sea was already starting to rise and fall higher, the swirls on the horizon reminded her of snakes. The dark clouds stood out against the night their bellies’ full. In near distance she saw the flash of lighting. The whole thing was exactly how she felt inside, a building tempest.

The silence began to get to Shannon , she stood up. “Jenny?”

“Don’t talk.” Jenny gritted her teeth. “Don’t you ever do what you’re told?”

“You’re mad at me. I get that.” Shannon folded her arms. Exhaling, she knew this was the time. “Shouldn’t I be the one who’s mad at you?”

Jenny didn’t say anything.

“Do I get my explanation?” Jenny finally turned her head to her, the pain she saw made her throat hurt. “Why did you leave?”

Jenny’s eyes slipped closed.

Shannon unfolded her arms, moving a little closer, her voice no-longer hiding her emotions, it cracked. “Did I hurt you that much?”

“You should have listened to me.” Flash images exploded into Jenny’s mind, ripping through the carefully erected walls. She jolted, just managing to shut them down. “It doesn’t matter, even if you had it still would have happened….it always happens.” Her voice trembled.

“Maybe…. Because it did doesn’t mean what happened was your fault.”

Jenny spun round. “You DIED!”

The sky rumpled thunder as if powered by her emotions.

“But I’m here. I came back.” Shannon felt the electricity on her skin and she knew it wasn’t from the breaking storm.

Jenny willed the tears away but they didn’t listen, they started the same time as the rain. She was trembling now under the assault of her senses, they weren’t listening to her, they were searching, searching for the warmth. It was like she’d been starving herself and she knew in a way she had been. Her eyes slipped closed, spilling tears down her face, she gripped the railing of the porch till the wood creaked. She could feel her and oh god it felt so good.

Shannon looked down at her arms, seeing the hairs rise, feeling the light burning start on her skin, slowly she looked up, seeing how much Jenny was trembling. “I’m not going away.” Her words only seemed to make Jenny tremble more.

Like a vampire Jenny’s senses fed on the essence, the pain, the warmth, the healing, the fire, the love. Her eyes snapped open, she gasped…. So much love, pure, all consuming.

Shannon felt it like a jolt to her core, she gasped, she couldn’t stay away any longer, she crossed the porch in two strides, but she didn’t touch, she didn’t have to, she could feel Jenny all over her, inside her, around her, on her. She only managed to just catch the moan. Her heart threatened to burst out of chest, she felt the scar pulse. Her head spun, her breathing ragged. She so wanted to give over to this feeling, but she knew things needed finished first. “Jenny.”

Just her name made Jenny ache. She turned, unable now to ignore the call.

Shannon gasped, lightning reflected in Jenny’s eyes, she was magical. She forced the words out. “Why did you shut me out? Why……” her eyes slipped closed as she felt warmth spread deep in her stomach. “God.” She’d never felt anything like this in her life. Jenny’s eyes were fire in front of her.

Jenny breath stuttered, she stepped back, realizing what was happening. “Oh god.” She stepped back again, the movement taking her stumbling down the porch steps into the rain. “I…. I. ” she used everything she had, slamming walls as fast as she could, but each one shattered. What was this? A flash of lightning above made her jump. Her eyes found Shannon again, seeing the effect she was having.

Now that Jenny wasn’t so close Shannon ‘s senses came back, her whole body still burned. She moved to go down the steps only to have Jenny step back, Shannon stopped. “Why did you leave me?”

The sob caught Jenny hard, she could feel it now, their link strong in her body, she felt Shannon ‘s pain of what she’d done, the desolation, the ache, then finally the nothing. “I’m so…….. Sorry.” She tried again to shut the walls, slowly they became to come up, she felt the change.

So did Shannon . “NO! NO!” she ran down the steps, this time she didn’t stop, she grabbed Jenny.

Jenny senses screamed, so did she.

Shannon did the only thing she knew she had to do, she pulled the struggling psychic to her and kissed her.

Jenny struggled trying to get away from the feelings they were so intense, so raw, and oh god so beautiful. Shannon deepened the kiss, feeling the psychics hand go into her hair and pull her to her hard.

Their bodies met as thunder crashed and lightning flashed. Neither of them wanted to break away now, their mouths were locked, breathes became one, and inside, inside the warmth became a fire spreading, making both of them groan.

The heavens opened. They were oblivious to it all.

Jenny felt a small tendril of fear and remembrance try and battle free from its cage, only to be consumed by the growing pulse of passion, of need. God she wanted her, all of her. Her hands moved from the wet dark hair, grabbing at saturated cotton, twisting, kneading, ripping. She could feel Shannon ‘s touch to her face and she made herself open her eyes knowing what she was going to see, it still took the breath from her lungs, when she saw it, within the azure blue, dancing quicksilver. She let out a low moan as she felt the touch of it inside her, growing, twisting, touching, so deep, so deep she felt her core tighten. She didn’t know what this was, all she knew was she needed more. She opened her mouth letting Shannon searching tongue enter, moaning at the touch. “I need you.” Was exhaled.

Those words added an ache so profound, Shannon almost cried, she moved her mouth trailing it down Jenny’s neck. “Jenny.” Was all she could whisper.

Jenny arched back, knowing Shannon wouldn’t let her fall, knowing she’d never let her fall. She could feel Shannon ‘s breath on her skin along with the rain, washing it all away, the memories, the memories of him. When teeth nipped at her neck she grabbed Shannon so hard she heard the rip of cloth. “I need you.” Was repeated.

Shannon growled and with one swift movement lifted the psychic, cradling her in her arms, turning entering the house, neither of them breaking from the kiss.

Bud watched them pass, he’d watched them outside, at first he’d been confused he’d sensed the fear of his mistress and even the fear from his friend. But now, his eyes watched as the bedroom door was kicked shut. Now all he sensed was love and passion. He sneezed avoiding his gaze, rising, moving to the front door, watching the storm, it made his fur ripple in the growing wind, he simply lay down in the threshold, his chin resting on his paws and began his guard, his ear occasional twitched as the sounds of love echoed into the storm.

….

The skin was a map of life and right now Jenny was painting a journey across divine plains, gullies and valleys. Her motion stilled as she heard the breathing change in her canvas. She waited, waited until the breathing returned to a deep one, before continuing her exploration. The skin was warm, hot in places, slick with sweat, she followed a droplet with her eyes as is fell into the soft V of hills topped with dark aroused peaks. She needed to touch them again, but knew if she did it would break this moment of this quiet discovery. She could feel the passion inside, content yet wanting more. Places of her ached, the ache of pleasure fulfilled, part throbbed, just the feeling of sheets against her made that throb deepen.

Shannon moved, Jenny held her breath as sculpted beauty rolled over on to her front. Jenny smiled, she couldn’t help it as she ran finger tips gently down the now exposed spine, barely touching, yet the goose bumps rose, muscles shifted. She breathed in deeply, letting her normal senses take in the scent around her, spicy, sweet, Shannon, she could still taste her.

She blushed, it seemed a strange thing to do after what they shared last night, there wasn’t one part of her now Shannon didn’t know. The blush deepened, and there wasn’t any part of Shannon she didn’t know. Her mouth watered, the throb within deepened, her stomach tightened, she felt a bead of sweat fall down her own back, god, she wanted more. Yet, she didn’t want to end this moment, where her lover lay spent, fulfilled, asleep, resting. She’d only gotten to see Shannon sleep once before, but not like this. Black hair lay fanned out, disheveled against a crumpled sheet and tanned skin. She stilled, not all the skin was tanned, on the left shoulder stood out the angry contrast of the white red scar. Her fingers hovered over it, shaking. When she’d first seen both scars, ‘entry and exit’ Shannon had called them, she’d burst into tears, needing to kiss, touch, heal them, nothing she did made it disappear, even as Shannon took her, whispering words of want and love, the image of how Shannon had gotten those scars had stayed ripe in her mind, until finally the oblivion of stars had taken her somewhere she’d never been before.

And later when Shannon discovered her scars, she’d held her breath, only to feel her heart stutter when she looked up into blue eyes filled with tears, Shannon had kissed her, kissed her so fiercely she could still feel the bruise on her lips. She remembered the words spoken into her mouth. “No one will ever hurt you again.” And Jenny believed and later she yelled her belief as the world exploded into kaleidoscope of colors again.

Her eyes roamed again over Shannon, a thigh was drawn up, an arm cast loosely on a pillow and the steady rise and fall of breath told her Shannon was still deeply sleeping. She knew they had things to talk about, knew this was only the first step of many, knew they would have to talk about what had happened and what had passed between them, that power. She shivered as another rumble of thunder laced the air, as if sensing her distress.

Shannon rolled over, an arm engulfed her, and sleeping lips nuzzled her hair and neck. Jenny let her eyes slip closed, pulling Shannon’s arm fully across her stomach, lacing fingers together, the embrace tightened, feeling Shannon move closer into her back, for once she finally felt safe, the rest could wait, for now.

….

Jane ducked back into the safe house, she’d just made a quick run over the island and now she was soaked to the skin. She pulled off the coat, shaking it, before hanging it up.

David looked up from the camera screen. “Did you see much? Cos all I’m getting off these damn monitors is rain.”

Flicking her arms to loosen some of the water she grabbed a towel from the closet, drying her hair as she moved to see. “Visibility is shit right now.” She glanced over each of the monitors. “About the same as those. What the weather report say? This doesn’t feel like a normal storm.”

David turned the chair to her. “It isn’t. They’re putting out a cyclone warning.”

The towel stilled, Jane looked right at him. “You’re kidding me.”

He shook his head. “They’re expecting it to blow over by tomorrow night.”

Jane sat down with a slump. “Damn. How bad is it going to get?”

“Well they haven’t issued any evacuation warnings to the island. Just advice boarding up and waiting it out. They don’t think it’s gonna get as bad as two thousand and five.”

Jane didn’t like they were getting it at all. 05 had been bad, the worst yet for the Keys let alone the surrounding islands. A storm surge had hit the entire area and engulfed the islands and lower Keys in up to eight feet of water; they were only now just getting back to how it had been before. Jane sighed. “Well I suppose there’s one good thing. The ferry can’t run and no boats are going to go out in this.”

David reached over snagging a piece of paper off the pad, tearing it off. “A list of everyone who came ashore today, right up to the last mail drop off.”

Jane took it, annoyed that the paper immediately soaked up the water from her skin. “They check out?”

“Yep. No one’s on this island we don’t know about.”

Jane rubbed her hair again. “Sure hope the boss got inside? I don’t think even Jenny would let her sleep out in this.”

David put the headphones back on, mumbling. “I wouldn’t chuck her out, that’s for damn sure.”

Jane just glared at him from under the towel.

….

Marcus sipped his scotch, leaning forward he lifted the book he’d been reading. ‘The history of Mayan culture.’ It wasn’t something he’d normally read, in fact he’d had to go out and buy the damn thing. Twenty nine ninety five, he still felt he’d been robbed. But something was niggling at him every since he’d heard about the whole case and visited the fire sites, and he was pretty sure it had something to do with this.

He sipped his scotch as he turned another page.

….

The storm was beautiful in its destruction, trees bent so far in the wind their centers cracked, palms flew in mad frenzy interlaced with debris. Rain fell in harsh sheets, pounding the pavements and building. Large puddles were already turning into fast small snaking streams, following any land line.

He loved the storm, he always had ever since he could remember. But this storm was different, this was the final part, the one he’d been waiting for. Now it was up to him to fulfill the rest. He pulled his water proofs tight, the hood leaving only his eyes shining out. Lifting the bag he headed down to the harbor.

….

The bang sent Shannon to her feet, or would have done if her lower limbs hadn’t been entangled in sheets, instead she hit the floor with a bigger thud, loud enough to wake Jenny, who sat up in shock, eyes wide. She looked around, hearing another curse she looked over the far edge of the bed. She had to bite her lower lip hard not to laugh out loud at the sight of Shannon cursing butt naked with a gun in her hand fighting with sheets. The gun suddenly registered in Jenny’s amused thoughts. “ Shannon ?” she looked around now in slight panic. “What’s wrong?”

The bang came again this time making both of them jump. Finally Shannon untangled herself, rising with a stumble, moving quickly to the door. Even in her panicked state Jenny couldn’t help admire the naked sight in front of her new lover.

“Stay here.” With that Shannon opened the door and was gone.

Jenny frowned. “Like hell I will.” She rose, lifting a robe from the chair and putting it on as she neared the door. She opened it slightly, looking out, looking down as she heard a small bark. “Bud?” she opened the door a little wider, surprised when Bud instead of coming in turned away. Jenny nearly jumped out of her skin as Shannon stepped in front of her. “Jesus. Don’t do that?”

Shannon just looked Jenny up and down. She could feel the need to just pick her up and throw her back on the bed, but she wasn’t sure if Jenny wanted that again. Last night had been wonderful, but impulsive, what if Jenny regretted it? And what the hell was it that she’d felt between them? She inhaled sharply as she felt it start again.

Jenny met the look, feeling herself warm inside, it would be so easy to give over to that need. She swallowed stepping back, opening the door fully. “What was it?”

“Huh?” Shannon blinked, breaking the moment.

“The bang?”

“Oh. There’s a hell of a storm out there. I closed the shutters and door.” She blushed remembering why exactly the door was wide open. Suddenly she felt very silly standing buck naked with a gun in her hand. She moved passed Jenny making sure she didn’t look, even though her eyes were screaming for just one more peek.

Jenny gave a knowing smile, feeling the warmth herself. She watched as Shannon pulled on her shirt, placing her gun back in the holster and on the table by the bed. This was going to be one of those awkward moments Jenny could feel it, that she didn’t want with Shannon . She walked across the room, stopping behind Shannon , knowing she could feel her there. When Shannon didn’t turn, she used her fingertips on Shannon ‘s shoulder to slowly turn her. Seeing now the uncertainty in the gaze directed to her, what made her want to cry was the vulnerability she saw there too. She pushed on the wild hair that had fallen over Shannon’s face, smiling, stretched on tip toe until she was at level, watching as Shannon swallowed hard. She smiled again, letting her hand cup Shannon ‘s face, feeling the movement of jaw muscle. “Kiss me.”

Shannon didn’t wait to be asked twice, she gathered Jenny and kissed her soundly. After a long moment they broke the kiss, but not the embrace. They both smiled at the same time, just staring into each other’s eyes. Jenny simple laid her head on Shannon ‘s chest, hearing the raging heartbeat begin to slow. Shannon ‘s hand moved in circles on her back. “I don’t regret it.” The hand on her back stilled, she wondered if she was going to be thrown aside and accused of mind reading, she held her breath. Then the hand began its motion again. She breathed again. “Do you?” It was hard to ask.

There was no pause. “No.” although the answer was broken. Shannon pulled her harder against her, beyond relieved. “So….what now?”

Jenny bathed in the warmth, the scent, she wanted to just stay here, or go back to bed either worked. She felt a giggle of joy build. God, she felt like a love sick…….. Her thoughts stopped. Love? Was this what this was? Last night love was spoken, but was it in the heated moment. Was she in love? Did Shannon really love her? Even thinking it scared her. She tightened her embrace, rewarded with Shannon doing the same. Before she could go anywhere near this she knew they had to talk. She pulled a little away looking up, seeing now the guarded look. “Talk?”

Shannon nodded slowly. “I’ve got to check in with Jane first. This storm must be playing havoc with the surveillance. Then I’d like to talk.”

Jenny felt the butterflies in her stomach start. She pulled away, already feeling the loss. “I’ll go shower and make breakfast okay?”

Shannon felt another déjà vu moment, was Jenny washing her away again?

Jenny frowned, feeling the change. “Hey.” She waited till the blue eyes met hers again. “What’s wrong?”

Shannon forced a smile, shaking her head, caressing Jenny’s face. “Nothing. Go shower.”

Jenny was having none of it. “Tell me?”

Shannon drew in a long breath. “I’m being dumb. Go on. It’s okay.”

Jenny stared at her, seeing she wasn’t going to find out. She took a guess. “Join me in the shower when you’ve finished.” Before she let Shannon answer she leant forward and gave the detective a kiss to remember. She was rewarded with blue eyes filling instantly with passion, enough to make her own arousal jump up two notches. She turned, slowly walking away, giving her hips a damn good wiggle as she walked, just before she entered the bathroom, she let the robe slip to the floor.

Shannon ‘s jaw hit the floor right about the same time. When the bathroom door closed it broke the haze, she turned at a run, grabbing her headset so fast off the table she dropped it, quickly she picked it up and called Jane on the mic. All the time her eyes were firmly fixed on the bathroom door and the now running sound of hot water. She managed to just listen to Jane as she explained that they were having problems with the cameras and the storm was stopping all boats from docking for at least the next 24 hrs. That did get her attention back, it meant they were almost blind and cut off. She told Jane to make sure the surveillance team were on full alert and to do hourly sweeps.

She walked to the bathroom door, tossing the headset to the couch, shrugging her shirt off as she opened it, breathless. Her eyes raked over the offer of wet flesh in front of her. When Jenny turned to her she could have just lost in then and there because of the look she saw, it trailed over her body till the point it felt like a burning brand and when a hand snaked out and drew her into the cubicle, into a deep kiss and hot wet bodies touched, she did.

….

Marcus yawned, he didn’t have to look at the clock to know he’d been reading for over six hours and he still hadn’t one clue what he was looking for, the book was nearly finished now, he was in the final years of the Mayan empire. He’d stopped briefly for food and a few hours sleep, but he’d woken with a foreboding feeling and it wasn’t just the storm that was battering his house. Now he sat in his robe, laid out on the couch with the damn book open again. He rubbed his eyes, turning to the last chapter.

….

The water below was a tempest, if he’d been any other man he would have been scared, but he wasn’t just any other man. He had to come this way, because he knew the roads would be a wash out, this way he could go unnoticed. Someone would always spot a person walking down a street or road in a storm, it would cause too many question. This way was safer. He walked down the gully, slipping in the assault of the water which was growing in strength, he checked his bearings then let his weight carry him down into the storm drain below. Landing, he stood waist deep, feeling the tug of the water, trying to unsteady him. He moved slowly now, fighting against the currant. When he reached the large circular grating he stopped, opening the bag on his hip, taking out the small charge. He placed it on the hinge point of the grating, steadying himself as a large wave pushed at his knees, he wiped his eyes clear. The charge now attached he backed up until he knew he’d be safe, he pressed the small remote. The small explosive was masked by the storm, the grate swung open. Replacing his bag, he moved with purpose, climbing up into the higher storm drain and continued on his way.

….

Shannon knew if she didn’t stop grinning she was more than likely gonna be stuck with it for life, but she couldn’t help it. What fueled the grin was the fact the petite blonde opposite her sitting cross legged on the other end of the couch in her shirt, was grinning just as much. She’d never really seen Jenny grin before, smile yes, but grin no. Shannon licked a drop of blackberry jam off her thumb, only to find it caught in her throat as translucent eyes locked onto her mouth. She felt arousal start again. They were never going to get any talking done like this. As much as she just wanted to give over to it again for the third time that morning, she knew that other things had to be sorted. She wanted to kick the hell out of that side of her brain for even bringing it up. As if sensing it, Jenny dropped her eyes, concentrating on drinking her tea. The break in gaze gave Shannon time to inhale again.

Jenny was having the same problems. This was so new to her, she’d never truly wanted someone so much it hurt. Sure she’d had sex but most of the time it was because she’d been picking up on other…… her brain froze. Was that what this was? Was she feeling what Shannon wanted so intense it was clouding her.

Shannon sipped her tea, sitting back against the couch, wondering what had just made Jenny lose her grin. “Jen?”

Jenny looked up quickly.

“You okay?”

Jenny didn’t know what to say, she was still trying to figure out if what she was feeling was her or not.

Shannon grew more concerned, she shifted forward, laying her fingertips on Jenny’s knee, surprised when she felt it tense. “What’s wrong?” Jenny stared at her, so intense it made her skin prickle. Now she was getting worried.

Jenny pushed harder, shutting out Shannon ‘s essence, closing everything around her down, she had to know. She knew Shannon could feel it, by the way she inhaled sharply. The walls closed, but it was still there inside her, her want, her need, her desire, her passion, the bubble of pure joy. It wasn’t Shannon fueling her. She almost cried in relief, she opened the walls again. “No.” she grinned again. “No… There’s nothing wrong, in fact everything is perfect.

Shannon just raised an eyebrow.

Jenny laughed, tracing the eyebrow with a finger. “That’s adorable you know when you do that. Bud has the same expression.”

Confused, Shannon looked over to where Bud lay sleeping. “You’re comparing me to your dog!”

“Only on this occasion.” To sooth the hurt feelings she leant across, not surprised when Shannon met her half way and they kissed. She tasted of blackberries.

Shannon pulled away first. “Jen… As much as I’d like to take you right here on the couch.” Her voice trembled.

Jenny grin widened.

Shannon chose to ignore it. “I’d…. like to talk.”

Jenny sighed, her ardor dampened by what she knew was to come, but she owed Shannon this much. “Okay.”

Shannon looked down at her hands. “I know you felt me die.”

Jenny flinched, she should have known Shannon wasn’t going to pull her punches, but it still hit her hard.

“I know that’s part if not all the reason why you left. I get that.” Shannon took a breath, her eyes came up. “Why did you come back?”

Jenny thought she was ready for that question, she was wrong. She had to bring one of her walls up as Shannon ‘s feelings seeped into her. She reached across needing to touch. She couldn’t get enough of Shannon ‘s touch now, not just the sexual side. She’d been so long without this. She met Shannon ‘s gaze. “You’re right I left because of what I felt…. I… I couldn’t feel after….well…” she swallowed trying to arrange her thoughts. She tried again. “… After you died. I went somewhere so far inside I don’t think I even existed. I couldn’t watch…. Or feel that again.” She shifted forward, bringing her knees into contact with Shannon who was watching her intently. “…. I had no walls Shannon . I couldn’t keep anything out. I think I went a little insane.” Her lips quirked a smile. “When I knew you were going to be okay, I had to leave. To get some sort of myself back.”

“Couldn’t you have just…?” Shannon words tailed off.

Jenny anticipated what she meant. “No, I couldn’t just go away and come back. I had to get so far away from you I couldn’t feel you anymore. I went as far as I could.” She hated saying it as she watched Shannon ‘s open gaze shutter shut. “I’m sorry.”

Shannon had to know one thing. “Claire?”

It wasn’t what she expected, but Jenny was just glad Shannon didn’t remove her hands or move away. “She found me in Paris . I don’t know why I picked there, to be honest I think it was the first plane out when I arrived at the airport. She saw what state I was in and took me in. I was with her the whole time.” She felt Shannon ‘s hands move. “We weren’t lovers.” She held the hands tighter.

Shannon took in everything that was being said, she didn’t like it but part of her was pulling away, even though she’d asked to know. “You were though.” Again she found herself jealous because of one of Jenny’s ex lovers.

“Yes.”

“She was the one you told me about?”

“Yes.” She wanted Shannon to look at her again, her heart was starting to hurt. “ Shannon . We weren’t lovers in Paris I swear it. She was nothing but a friend.” It was suddenly very important for Shannon to believe her.

Shannon didn’t really know what to believe right now, she knew Claire still wanted Jenny. She exhaled, knowing the truth. “I believe you.”

Jenny exhaled in relief, but still Shannon wouldn’t look at her. “I know I was wrong in how I handled everything, leaving, coming back, being around you. I wanted to come and find you and explain, but….”

Irony is thy name. “I turned up on a case first.”

“Yes.”

Shannon did look up this time and the expression in her eyes nearly made Jenny run for the hills, there was intense anger.

“You shut down that side of you that feels me. You didn’t even know I was in the house. Why do that if you were coming to find me?”

Jenny swallowed. “Because I had too.”

Shannon pulled her hands away. “Why?”

Jenny wanted to cry this was going so wrong. “I told you.”

Shannon stood up. “Are you saying you could feel me in Paris ?” She snorted.

Jenny voice was a whisper. “Yes.”

Shannon stilled. “What?”

“Yes. It nearly drove me insane. I’ve never felt someone that far away before.” She looked up. “I still felt you.”

Shannon ‘s anger stuttered, it couldn’t compete with the open gaze directed at her. She knew she believed totally in what Jenny could do, but not once did she think Jenny could feel her that far away, it shot to hell her theory that Jenny was just trying to keep her away by shutting her out, not because she had to, too survive. She had to sit down, so she did.

Jenny took a chance reaching across taking Shannon ‘s hand again, relieved that it wasn’t shrugged off. “I can’t explain the full why of how I felt you but I did. Shannon I couldn’t handle it, I was a mess, I felt guilty for what happened, guilty for leaving, guilty for just about every damn thing. And into it came you, every day every night. I tried to stay away, believe me I did. I didn’t want to come back and start this all over again. You deserved better than me.” She swallowed hard. “But I couldn’t, as I got stronger, when I could handle everything I knew I had to come back, if only to explain to you. I owed you that much. I didn’t expect things to feel like this.” Jenny waited, feeling on the edge of tears the whole time.

Shannon ‘s voice was small. “Which is how?”

Jenny shifted forward, pulling both Shannon ‘s hands to her. “That I want you even though it scares me half to death!”

Shannon looked at her, seeing it was true, feeling it was true. But it still hurt to know she was left, pushed out, kept out. And what about next time she was hurt, or worse that Jenny sensed it about to happen?

“I’m sorry.” Jenny tried to read the blue eyes in front of her. “I’m sorry.” She repeated it more intensely.

Shannon knew this was the moment she’d doubted herself over, could she forgive. Could she set herself up again to be hurt? She could feel Jenny’s trembling, could feel the hollowness in her chest at the thought of losing her again. “Jen promise me you won’t just run away again.” She knew she was begging, she didn’t care.

Jenny cried. “I won’t… I promise. Not after this. I couldn’t.” She wanted to ask the same promise of Shannon , but she didn’t feel she had the right too after what she’d done, she would take what was offered.

Shannon moved so quickly Jenny didn’t have time to react, lips burned her mouth and she was pushed back into the couch, all thoughts were lost as her shirt was ripped open and forgiveness was seared across her skin.

….

Jane squinted at the monitor again, it was no use they were virtually blind now on surveillance cam. It was going to be down to the two guards walking perimeter, a job she didn’t envy right about now, she was going to have to call them back pretty soon. Harry had already been hit with flying debris, it was just getting too dangerous out there. She sat back, chewing her gum, remembering the talk with Shannon earlier…. Something seemed different, if she didn’t know better she could have sworn Jenny and Shannon had finally gotten it together. That actually worried her, it meant Shannon ‘s mind wasn’t going to be totally on the situation. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust her bosses’ judgment, but after everything they’d been through she didn’t begrudge Shannon and Jenny a little quiet time. What worried her was the fact it was in the middle of a damn cyclone where an arsonist was on the loose and knew Jenny was on the case and it didn’t help that every damn camera was a wash out.

She rose moving to refill her coffee cup, glancing at David who was asleep in the chair, his watch didn’t start for another two hours, then maybe she’d get some sleep. As she filled the cup, she very much doubted she was going to sleep until the storm had passed, whichever one it was.

….

He slipped silently off the edge of the storm tunnel down into the deeper water, letting his body descend until he felt his boots hit bottom. He crouched now, his eyes looking around. He pulled out the binoculars, focusing on what he needed below. When he was sure it was clear he put them away and followed the course of the water down to the bay.

….

Marcus jolted awake, disorientated until he realized he’d fallen asleep on the couch. He reached, searching for the light switch, clicking it on, his eyes protested, he sat up, rubbing at his face. Seeing the book at his feet he kicked it. Well he’d read it and he still didn’t know what had made him buy the damn thing. He could however answer questions now on double jeopardy as to why the Mayan’s were such a great tribe. Shaking his head he rose, heading to the bathroom, once he’d finished the call of nature he washed his hands and face and started down the stairs. He nearly tripped down the last few as the power went out. “Well great.” He felt his way to the utility cupboard under the stairs, searching until he felt the torch, lifting it he clicked it on. He grabbed the candles and made his way back into the living room, setting them up around the room, lightning each. He was hungry, he bent to pick up the book and stilled…. The symbol now on the back of the book was upside down, he quickly picked it up, focusing on it. That was it that what had been wrong at all the sites, the fire images had been wrong, facing the wrong way. They should all have faced the rising sun. He threw the book down, immediately going to the phone, cursing when he heard the automated voice telling him that lines were down. He raced into the kitchen, using the torch light to search the surfaces for his cell…. Finding it he immediately dialed Jane’s number.

Jane lent across lifting her cell, seeing Marcus’s name come up. “Marcus.” The static on the line made her wince.

“Jane. Listen to me. The sy…mbols are wro…ng. ………….be.c..d…..c…kk.”

“What? Say that again you’re breaking up?”

“The symb…ols they’re wr…ong……th.. sun…..”

Jane twisted around trying to get a better signal. “Marcus I get it the symbols are wrong.”

Marcus let out a sigh of relief. “You’ve got to tell Jen …y.”

“Okay I get it but why?”

“h…..e. m.k..ing….”

A burst of static made Jane pull the cell away from her ear for a moment. “Marcus?”

Marcus now wasn’t sure Jane could hear him at all. “Tell Jenny.” The line went dead. He quickly tried to dial again, this time no service came up on his screen. Damn it.

Jane tried the same thing, and got the same result. Not wasting any more time she quickly went to the surveillances mic and called Shannon .

….

Shannon sipped her coffee, she was sitting now alone in the living room, wrapped in a robe that barely covered her legs, she chuckled as she extended an arm and the sleeve came only half way up it. She could smell Jenny’s scent on it and it started that pleasant warmth deep in her belly. She sipped her coffee, looking to the bedroom where Jenny was asleep, she didn’t want to wake her again, they were both pretty much exhausted, that brought a sexy smile to her lips. But right now her body craved food and coffee. She reached across pulling the headset off the couch when she heard the beep, easily slipping it over her head. “Everything okay Jane?”

“I don’t think so boss.”

Shannon stiffened, putting the coffee down. “What’s up?”

“I got a garbled message from Marcus. He said to tell Jenny the symbols are wrong, something about the sun. Then I lost contact. The phones are now down and the cell is acting up, I’m guessing atmospherics.”

Shannon stood, heading into the den, sorting through the images. “Did he say what was wrong?” she found each of them and laid them out.

“No …. He sounded pretty upset.”

Shannon nearly dropped the pictures as interference screamed in her ear. She turned the volume down. “This storm is making everything act up.”

“Yea here too. Shannon I’m going to have to pull the surveillance teams. It’s getting to risking out there.” She waited.

Shannon didn’t like that at all. “Keep all channels open, get them back out there as soon as you can. I don’t want to be deaf as well as blind.” Her eyes went over the symbols. “Keep trying to get in contact with Marcus.”

“I am…. Do you want me over there?”

Shannon felt the prickling on her skin, she glanced up to find Jenny leaning against the doorframe, wrapped in a sheet, question in her eyes.

“Boss?”

“No. I need you there you’re the only one I trust to watch my back.”

Jane so didn’t like that, but she understood it. “Okay. I’ll call in an hour unless something comes up.”

“Out.” Shannon pulled the headset off, her eyes still fixed on Jenny.

Jenny smiled uncertainly as she pushed off of the door frame, moving closer. “What’s wrong?”

“Marcus called Jane. He says the symbols at the fire were wrong, something about the sun?”

Jenny’s eyes dipped to the laid out pictures. “Anything else?”

Shannon shook her head, moving back to let Jenny sit in the chair. “No. she lost contact. The storm is playing havoc with everything.”

Jenny was already pushing the pictures around comparing them to the fire sites. “I can’t see how they’re wrong. I mean he hasn’t got a perfect replica but its close enough. I don’t see how the sun is involved, three of them were at night.”

Shannon looked over Jenny’s shoulder down to the pictures. “Maybe we missed something?”

Jenny put on her glasses, tucking the sheet tightly around her, now concentrating on each one. “It must have been something Marcus saw yesterday when he went out to the fires.”

Shannon eyes shifted to Jenny in surprise. “I didn’t…”

Jenny turned her head, bringing her lips nearly into contact with Shannon ‘s ear. “I’m psychic.”

Shannon frowned.

Jenny laughed. “Okay. Okay. I overheard you talking earlier to Jane about it.”

Shannon eyed her not so sure. “You’re not pissed at me?”

“I was…. Then you distracted me and I got over it.”

Shannon grinned. Note to self when pissing off the psychic remember to distract often.

Jenny laid a quick kiss on Shannon ‘s cheek. “Don’t expect it to work every time.”

Shannon ‘s smile froze on her lips, she chuckled. “You sure you can’t read minds?”

Jenny answered the chuckled. “Only when you’re having very dirty thoughts…. Those I can read like a book.” She grinned as she was rewarded with a deep red blush from her lover. She liked the sound of that, lover.

Shannon straightened, clearing her throat. “Jenny.” It was a warning.

Jenny’s smile faltered. “I know. We have to catch this guy. So, let’s try and find out what Marcus meant.”

Shannon stood, not sure what she should do. “Coffee?”

“God yes.”

Shannon turned and headed out into the kitchen. Only then did Jenny manage to fully concentrate on the pictures. She knew she had to get a handle on controlling herself around Shannon . She hated to do it, but she slowly erected a wall. Her eyes went to the pictures, she pulled over a pad, writing down exactly what symbol was in each.

When Shannon brought the coffee in, she wasn’t surprised when Jenny didn’t acknowledge her, she knew how engrossed the psychic got. She stood and watched her for while, unable to help the smile on her face, she felt at peace inside, warm, something she’d never felt before was there under the surface of unanswered questions, her smile slipped. Finally she knew she had to get herself together, she took the time to go and get dressed, being in just a shirt was only going to lead to trouble at some point. Doing up her Levi’s, she grinned, she could get used to this feeling. Securing the last button she slipped her feet into her trainers, running her fingers through her hair as she moved back into the living room, giving Bud a quick ruffle of fur, before placing kibble in his bowl. Now, she looked around, what was she supposed to be doing while Jenny was working? She walked to the shuttered windows, peeking out through one of the knot holes, wincing as she watched part of the fencing fly past. The wind was loud now, taking on the sound of wolves. The joists of the house groaned and shifted but they held. Pulling her cell free she flipped it open, only to find ‘no signal’ across the screen. She jolted as something slammed into the roof, for a moment she stood there expecting it to be ripped off. It was turning into one hell of a storm.

She moved swiftly lifting the headset, inserting it into her ear. “Jane? Come in?”

There was silence for a minute. Until Jane’s voice echoed in the ear piece. “You okay?”

“So far yes. Jenny doesn’t seem worried, said this house was built to last. Any luck getting hold of Marcus? I’ve still got no signal.”

“Same here. Mainline phones are defiantly down. We’re going to be restricted to shortwave.”

Shannon sighed, running her hand back through her hair, pacing. “I don’t like that much.”

“Me either. I’ve had to pull the perimeter walks. It’s just getting to hairy out there.”

“Look try and get at least an hourly look around.” Shannon checked the front door was locked.

“Boss? You expecting someone to come to the island in this?”

Shannon snapped. “They could be on the damn island already.”

“No way. There isn’t anyone on here that I don’t know about.”

Shannon calmed, changing the subject. “How bad are the cameras?”

Jane exhaled. “Almost useless. I’ve already lost camera two.”

Shannon ‘s eyes went to the back of the house. “I’ll take a look and see if I can get it up linked again.”

“Be careful.”

“Ain’t I always?”

Jane snorted.

“Okay I’ll check back in an hour.” Shannon was already pulling on her raincoat as she walked towards the back of the house, unlocking the door with one hand as she balanced the coat.

“Okay. I’ll keep trying Marcus. Later boss…. Jane out.”

The ear piece went silent with a click.

Shannon pulled it clear, throwing it onto the bed as she zipped the water proof tight. She pulled open the door only to find it nearly wrenched out of her hand by the wind. Swearing she grabbed it back, slipping through before using her shoulder to shut it tight. She was soaked in seconds, visibility was almost nothing. She looked around, trying to see through the sheets of rain, it stung her face. Stumbling she made her way to where she knew camera two was hanging. One gust of wind nearly threw her left, she just managed to keep her feet, grabbing on to the telephone pole where the camera hung. Looking up she blinked trying to clear her eyes of sand, sea and rain. The camera was gone. Shifting around to the back, she could see the cable hanging, torn by the storm. She gripped the pole as another gust caught her, she pushed herself off, heading back to the house. She squinted into the storm, then her eyes widened, throwing herself flat as a broken half of a palm tree sailed just over her head. Exhaling she rose, going to check around the side of the house to check how high the sea was, relieved to find the sand banks were handling the extra level, only a small amount was getting through to the front yard. She knew the house had at least six foot clearance before it flooded, the sand that had built up overtime under it would simple wash away exposing the firm foundations and beams, for now the house was in no danger. She moved towards the door, her body at an angle as she kept her balance fighting against the wind, she grabbed the handle, shoving it open and getting inside fast and slamming it shut, she leant against it catching her breath.

“Jesus.”

Bud looked her up and down. “Arrfff.” Sometimes he thought humans were the stupidest things on the planet.

Shannon lowered her hood, shaking out her hair, unzipping the coat, she took it off hanging it on the door hook, not surprised when the floor under it immediately began to pool.

“Well. Guess you don’t need to go out?”

Bud just gave her The look and headed back into the living room.

…..

He was knelt now watching the harbor. The boats docked bobbed madly in the tempest. His eyes went to the pier end seeing the guard, watching until he was sure he knew the timeline of the guards patrol. When the guard disappeared back into the guardhouse, he rose, keeping low, moving as fast as he could in the storm. Within ten minutes he was level with the lower boards which ran to the boats. He didn’t need to be silent the wind was masking any sounds, he climbed up the anchor line of the one he wanted, laying flat on deck until he was sure all was clear. He rose fast, running to the wheel house, knowing already where the key was kept. He waited, thunder rippled across the sky, he counted, then as the thunder repeated he turned the key starting the engine. He left the wheel, running to quickly throw off the tether ropes, moving back to the wheel. He navigated the speed boat free of the dock, looking back over his shoulder to the guard house, he grinned, they hadn’t even noticed. He increased the power, satisfied when the front of the boat lifted up above the waves on the increase of speed, cutting through them as if they weren’t there.

….

Jenny stilled, drawing her glasses off slowly, sitting back. How had she missed it? Annoyed with herself she rose quickly grabbing the pictures in a rush into the living room.

Shannon looked up from the island map she’d been studying, sitting straight.

“Marcus was right. They are wrong. I didn’t know what he meant until I went back through the Mayan history. The Calusa symbols were all based on them. Only one was used by the Calusa. The others, there’s no mistake are Mayan.”

Shannon stayed quiet, waiting.

Jenny was still mad at herself. “I can’t believe I missed this… “

Shannon had a pretty good idea why she did and she could tell from the look directed at her so did Jenny. Neither one of them had been thinking straight for weeks. Shannon smiled. “It doesn’t matter you’ve caught it now. What is it by the way?”

“Mayan’s believed that the rising sun was the rebirth of the world. Everything they did was based on that belief, sacrifices, weddings, war. The centre points of the symbols always faced the rising sun.” she held the pictures out. Shannon took them. “His don’t, in fact his is total random in direction. I’ve also seen minor mistakes as if he’s doing it from memory rather than from a picture or sketch. If he was some kind of Calusa follower or believer, he wouldn’t have made any mistakes.”

Shannon still didn’t see anything, but she believed Jenny. “So?”

Jenny sighed. “He put the symbols there because he wanted too. But……”

Shannon waited.

“….I think he’s trying to mislead anyone who was studying the fires, to link them to some sort of weirdo arsonist.”

Shannon started to get that warning feeling. “Why?”

Jenny’s eyes came up slowly. “Because he’s misdirecting his targets to warehouses and burial sites, either link would have worked for him…. I told you at first he was testing emergency services responses. He is…. He needed to know.” She slapped her hand down. “Damn it I should have gone with my instincts.” She looked Shannon right in the eyes. “I think he’s got a bigger target elsewhere.”

Shannon rose, her insides twisting. “Terrorist?”

“It could be. Shannon it could be anything.”

Shannon paced. “I can’t get in touch with the Captain or the FBI. Were down to shortwave and even that’s getting dodgy.” To make sure she lifted the cell, growling when ‘no signal’ still appeared. She thought for a long moment aware Jenny was watching her. “This doesn’t make sense. I don’t understand why use the symbols at all?”

“Maybe because he likes them or that their part of the Key’s history. Shannon that isn’t the important thing here.”

“Then it doesn’t make sense Jenny surely you can see that. He spent time, a long time doing those symbols and now you’re telling me they are just misdirection. If we hadn’t seen them they would mean nothing.” Shannon was frustrated, she wanted to trust Jenny’s instincts.

Jenny knew how she felt. “What if he did the symbols to test something else? That he had a timeline to stick too.”

Shannon snorted. “You’re saying he got bored?”

Jenny nodded. “It would make sense. How long do you think it would have taken him?”

Shannon scoffed. “Jenny come on.”

“No. I’m serious. How long do you think he spent on there?”

Shannon exhaled. “We know how long. All the key locks have a time code, the last time code recorded before he blew it told us he was there for about an hour.”

Jenny pushed. “How long to set the explosive, just the explosive?”

“He would have prepared the canister elsewhere, it would just be a matter of laying it and setting it up. I can’t see that taking more than ten minutes, fifteen with the breaking in.”

Jenny looked right at her. “So that leaves him forty five minutes.”

“To draw pictures.” Shannon shook her head.

Jenny stopped pacing. “What do you do when you’re bored?”

Shannon mouth opened then shut. Her thoughts now shifted, going over everything they knew. “So you’re saying he had to be there for an hour to test a theory on time and the emergency services? And because he was there for an hour he decided to just add the symbols and if someone found them all the better for masking his real cause?”

Jenny breathed in relief, when Shannon put it all together like that it didn’t sound as crazy as it did in her head. “Yes. And not forgetting the fact most of the Keys PD and FBI are now concerning their main task force on warehouses, burial sites and old navel sits. Shannon his misdirection has got every looking in the wrong place.”

“But why the Calusa? Why those?”

Jenny shrugged. “Like I said he liked them and for one I bet it amuses the shit out of him that he’s got the FBI, police, us trying to figure them out.”

Shannon just stared, she knew it didn’t make complete sense, but right now it was better then what they’d had before. “He chose the burial sites for the same reason?”

“Yes. Because he knew we’d be looking for another one.”

“But there isn’t one.”

Jenny gently shook her head. “It doesn’t matter. He’ll use his next fire just to keep whatever this is going. I’m sure of it.” Jenny studied her, seeing Shannon ‘s mind at work, seeing the caution, but also seeing the belief.

Shannon went back to the pictures. “There’s nothing in these is there to show us where he’s going next?”

Jenny took them throwing them to the table. “No. he’s playing with everyone.”

“And the message to the TV station?”

“Another ruse.”

Shannon exhaled hard. She’d been played and she knew the reason why. She hadn’t had her mind on her job. Her eyes steeled. “Jesus.” She replaced the surveillance headset. “Jane! Jane!”

Jane’s voice came over, breaking up in static. “What’s up?”

Shannon began to relay the new information. Jenny turned taking the space to go and get dressed quickly.

Jane’s voice was stressed with the new information. “So what the hell can we do? I still can’t get through on the landline? Does Jenny think his target is soon?”

Shannon looked across as Jenny came back into the room, tucking her shirt in. “Do you think his next target is soon?”

Jenny went on instinct. “Yes he is already escalating on the last two fires in timelines.”

Shannon had been thinking the same thing. “That’s a yes Jane.”

“Shit. Shall I try and get a boat to the mainland?”

“No. You’re not going to get anyone to take you out in this anyway. But you might be able to use one of the radios on board to get through to search and rescue and maybe relay a message.”

Jane was already up. “Will do. I’ll go down there now.”

“Be careful. This storm is at peak. I don’t want to come and save your ass.”

Jane grinned. “I’ll call back when I’ve found out. Jane out.”

Shannon slipped the headset free. “If you had to guess where could he hit?”

Jenny was already making coffee, giving her hands something to do. “If it’s terrorism. There are the submarine pens, and the navel port.”

Shannon swallowed hard. “And if it’s not?”

“Could be robbery, we have galleries? Banks? Emergency services are going to be hard pressed to answer an alarm going off. Hell half the Keys has alarms going off already because of the storm.”

Shannon sat with a slump, her eyes going to the boarded windows hearing the storm rage. “Didn’t you feel anything that could help?”

Jenny spun. “If I did I would have told you. I could feel was his euphoria.”

Shannon lowered her eyes. “The euphoria of a zealot?”

Jenny wiped her face. “It could be that yes. Or the euphoria of knowing he was cleverer then any of us.” She slammed the mug down.

Shannon rose going to her. “Hey. I missed it too. It didn’t occur to me he was using any of this as a false trail. We could be wrong. He could just be another nutcase with a cause.”

Jenny smiled as a hand caressed her arm, she covered it with her own, welcoming the instant spark of warmth. “I don’t think he is….” Her eyes met Shannon ‘s. They were so open to her now, it made her feel very unworthy after what she’d done. She dropped her hand, going back to preparing the coffee. “And neither do you now.”

Shannon looked out as something once again smashed into the wooden walls. No she didn’t believe it for a minute.

….

The storm was at peak now, its anger a rage of tempest, natures child having a tantrum at the world, throwing everything in its path, the tantrum was complete when rumbling stomps of thunder announced it wasn’t finished.

He could barely see where he was, he was going by digital compass and GPS alone, trusting in technology. The speedboat gave a sound a kin to a moan as the bow was caught under a torrent of sea, disappearing beneath the dark surge, another followed smashing down hard, forcing the boat to tip forward under the assault. He struggled regaining his balance gunning the engine, putting more power into the twin propellers, and slowly the bow came up, groaning under the strain. The GPS beeped in his hand, he turned the wheel hard to port, searching through the downpour for where he knew the beach should be, he didn’t see it until the front impacted and he was thrown into the wheel, felt the breath leave his lungs as he was thrown into darkness.

Shannon paced. Jenny just sat in the rocking chair watching her, her head along with Bud’s moving left to right as they followed her movements. Bud snuggled closer to Jenny, he wasn’t sure what was going on but he knew he didn’t like it. Jenny smiled down at him briefly before her eyes when back to Shannon . She was reminded of a caged tiger. She wasn’t sure what to say or do to calm the detective, she knew she was frustrated, angry at being played, angry mostly at the storm for keeping her caged. Jenny felt a slight shiver, she could feel Shannon shutting her out, but she wasn’t surprised, she’d closed a wall as well. They both needed to think, they’d spent too much time already missing things. She knew Shannon enough to know she was blaming herself right about now, she knew it because she felt the same.

Shannon clicked the surveillance ear piece to on as it beeped. “Go ahead.”

Jane’s voice was breathless. “I got down to the port, Jesus you wouldn’t believe the mess.”

“Did you get a message out?”

“Yea. Managed after I dealt with some asshole telling me emergency frequencies were for emergency’s only and not a message taker.” She exhaled in annoyance. “Anyway I got him in the end to relay the message to the Captain.”

Shannon exhaled in relief. “Good at least they’ve got a heads up. Whatever good it will do.”

“What you want me to do now?”

Shannon could make out the sound of the storm down the line. “You still at the port?”

“Yea. I’m heading back now unless you want me to wait around to see if the Captain gets back to us?”

“No it’s too dangerous down there. Get your ass back to the safe house. Were all gonna have to just wait this out.”

“Okay I’ll check in when I’m back.”

Shannon clicked off the mike. Seeing Jenny’s questioning gaze. “Jane managed to get a message to Grieves.”

Relief showed on Jenny’s face.

“So now we just wait.” Shannon ran a trembling hand through her hair. Jenny rose, coming slowly towards her, she could see the psychic was unsure of the welcome. Shannon gave a small smile as Jenny stopped directly in front of her.

Jenny returned the smile, reaching up just brushing her finger tips across Shannon ‘s brow. “It wasn’t your fault.”

Shannon stepped back slightly, aware of the hurt look. “Jenny…. I can’ t think with you around right now.”

Jenny dropped her hand. “I know.”

“This is so intense.” The words came out without permission. Shannon felt torn inside, wanting it, yet she was starting to find it too distracting and right now she needed to concentrate.

“Is that a bad thing?” Jenny felt her stomach drop.

“No…not bad.” Shannon moved away, needing the distance. She looked back. “What is this?” she motioned between them. “Am I …. Am I feeding off you like last time?”

Jenny psychical stepped back, she felt like she’d been slapped. “What!?”

Shannon courage wavered. “Is this real? Is this me?”

Jenny took a long breath, mainly to calm her heart rate. How could she blame Shannon for asking, she’d done the same. She made herself step closer. “It’s you. It’s me.”

“And the rest…. That…. That feeling?”

Jenny stared into Shannon ‘s eyes, seeing the blue was as much as a tempest as the outside storm. She took a chance, laying her hand on Shannon ‘s chest. “It’s us.”

Shannon swallowed. “Have you had this happen before?”

Jenny shook her head. “Never…. Scary as hell isn’t it.”

Shannon barked a laugh of pure nervousness. “God yea.”

“Enough for you to want to stop it?” when Shannon didn’t answer straight away, Jenny felt something curl up and hide inside. But it stopped when a warm hand covered hers. She could see the storm was still there in the eyes drawing closer to her. It was still there when a kiss stole her breath.

“No. it just scares me how much I want you.” Shannon ‘s voice dropped to a whisper. “But I don’t want it to stop.”

Jenny could have cried at the emotion she felt jolt. “Me too.” Shannon gave one of those lazy smiles that Jenny was beginning to love seeing. “I ….” For some reason she couldn’t say it.

Buds bark made both of them jump. Shannon broke her gaze from Jenny’s looking to Bud who was stood at the door barking. Jenny took the moment to compose herself, going to him. “You can’t seriously want to go out in that?” she laughed, only to find her laugh caught when she saw the look on Shannon ‘s face. “What’s wrong?”

Shannon stiffened again, her eyes dropping to Bud as he barked again. Slowly her eyes came up. “There’s someone out there?”

Jenny face fell, her eyes darting to the door, she moved to it, placing her palm on the wood, opening her closed sense, searching. She could feel the rage of the storm, feel how alive it was. She pushed past it, concentrating on something, anything that wasn’t part of it. She ignored Bud’s barking, ignored the fact Shannon now stood next to her with her gun drawn and ready. Still she searched, there. Her eyes sprung open she stepped back. “He’s here.” Frightened eyes went to Shannon ‘s.

Shannon grabbed her arm, pulling her away from the door, moving both of them further into the living room. “Bud back.”

He looked over his shoulder, then obeyed coming to stand next to them, his hackles still up.

Shannon pressed the surveillance mike on, almost yelling in pain as feedback filled her hearing. She tore it away. “Shit.”

Jenny looked at her sharply. “What?”

“He’s jamming.” She threw the earpiece, knowing it was useless, her eyes darting around looking for somewhere safe. Knowing he could be outside planting a bomb right now. Her jaw worked.

Jenny gasped, she could feel him so clearly now. “ Shannon . He’s round the back.”

Shannon ‘s eyes shot to the guestroom. She moved fast, pushing Jenny towards her bedroom. “Go in there.”

Jenny caught her arm. “What are you doing?”

“Listen to me. Just go in your room with Bud close the door, don’t open it until you hear me.”

Jenny wrestled, pulling at Shannon again, almost desperate. “No….No not again.”

Shannon froze, hearing the terror, wondering if Jenny had seen her death again. “Jen…. I’m not going to do anything stupid. I just want to look around. I can’t do that if I’m worrying about you out there in this storm. I promise I’ll be right back. Just please go in your room with Bud.”

Jenny shook her head fervently. “I’m not leaving you.”

Shannon temper snapped, she grabbed Jenny moving her towards the bedroom, Jenny fought but was no match for Shannon ‘s height or strength. Shannon stopped both of them at the door. “Listen to me. I’ve got to go look. He could be planting a bomb Jenny. We wouldn’t stand a chance I need to go look.”

The words filtered into Jenny’s panicked brain. “ Shannon .” Her voice was a desperate plea.

“I know. I’m just going to check.” She ran to the kitchen, pulling open the cupboard where she’d stashed her back up gun, coming back with it she push it into Jenny’s hand. “Anyone else comes near you shoot.”

Jenny could do nothing but nod. Shannon bent quickly laying a burning kiss on her lips, she grabbed at her frantically. “Be careful.” She deliberately opened her full sense to Shannon . She could feel the fear, but not for herself for her. She searched, searched for anything that could show her what would happen to Shannon once she went out the door. But like always she couldn’t force her gift.

Shannon tore her lips away, untangling Jenny’s hands from her shirt. “I’ll be back.”

Jenny stepped further into her bedroom, moving the door to close. “Promise.”

“Promise.” Shannon smiled, waiting, seeing Jenny was still battling with closing the door.

“Jen. Please. This is hard enough. Work with me here.” Shannon ‘s voice broke.

Jenny let out the sob, waiting till Bud moved past her into the bedroom.

Shannon looked down at him. “Guard. Don’t come out!”

He knew that tone, that command, he growled.

Shannon saw he understood. She looked at Jenny, seeing the tears, she pushed aside the ache it caused. “Jen close the door.”

Jenny’s body obeyed the command. Their eyes never broke contact until the door clicked shut.

Shannon felt her body tremble, taking a large breath she calmed her thoughts, turning quickly she ran to the back door. Pulling on the raincoat as quickly as she could, she checked her gun, then with a grunt and a last deep breath, she pulled open the door and stepped into the storm.

If Shannon thought the storm was bad before she was wrong, now she felt the wind pull at her till the point every muscle ached and breathing seemed an impossibility through the mixture of rain and sand. Just keeping on her feet was taking its toll on her energy. She coughed, almost choking on the mixture of rain, sand and sea. She could barely see two foot in front of her. The gun felt good in her hands, but she wasn’t entirely sure she wasn’t going to lose it, she’d already stumbled twice and lost her grip, against better judgment she tucked it back inside her coat. She kept the side of the house in her vision as she crouched walking as fast as she could, now she was level with the house, she ducked lower, looking under the house itself, searching for anything that looked like a bomb.

She saw that the sea was higher now, breaking over the surrounding guarding dunes, enough that sand had been washed away from under the house, leaving foundation and struts visible. The front yard was a mass of bubbling foam and debris. There was enough clearance now to move under the floor. A gust caught her unawares pummeling her into the wall, she almost yelled out as her shoulder came into contact, she struggled pushing away until she got her feet back under her. She knew she couldn’t see anything from here so she dropped to her knees, holding onto the wall as she ducked lower onto all fours crawling under, her eyes watering now from the sand being thrown up. She searched each and every showing strut. She could see the different light telling her she was nearly to the opposite side. She froze. There attached to the back strut half hidden by sand was a blinking red light. She shuffled closer until she was level, swallowing hard, knowing what it was.

Trembling hands came up, gently wiping sand from the front, she’d seen it before a canister like this just before the warehouse went up. Shit. She knew she couldn’t defuse it, for one she had no tools for two she wouldn’t have a clue how too. Thinking fast she shuffled around to the other side of the strut, seeing the twin straps holding it in place. Her hands went to her coat, searching until she felt the lump of the penknife, pulling it free and opening it. Her hand paused, the blade only an inch from the straps. What if he booby trapped it? She’d have to take that chance. She was surprised to find her lips were dry, licking them she tasted salt. Gently she began to cut away at the webbing, her other hand laying on the bomb. It seemed like an eternity until she’d cut through one of the straps, the bomb shifted and she nearly dropped the knife as she felt the weight of it fall into her right hand. She took another breath, cutting away at the second strap, when it pinged free, she found herself with a handful of bomb.

Gently as if carrying a baby she shuffled backwards, not sure where she was going only knowing it was away from here. When she broke free from under the house the wind hit her hard, she found herself cradling the bomb to her chest to keep hold of it. She rose, looking around for what she didn’t know. Making her mind up aware that the bomber could still be close and just about to detonate she moved as fast as she could away from the house, disappearing into the storm.

….

Jenny hated hiding, and right about now she hated Shannon a little too. She paced the bedroom, going to the shuttered windows at intervals to check outside, which of course was useless. She couldn’t sense the man either, but she still had a sense of Shannon . She paced again, suddenly aware that Bud was at her heels pacing right along with her. She sighed, moving to the edge of the bed, sitting, her eyes locked on the door. She should go out there, be where Shannon was, not locked up in a house that probably could blow up.

She looked down at Bud. “Bet that didn’t cross her mind now did it.”

Bud rested his chin on her knee, looking up with questioning eyes.

“I shouldn’t just be sitting here. Who does she think she is ordering me around?”

He licked his chops.

“I’m not a coward. I could help her look. She’s blind out there, I don’t need eyes to see.” She hmpffft. “I can take care of myself.”

Bud frowned.

Jenny lay back, suddenly she remembered what was in her left hand she sat straight. The gun was small, but she knew it still could do enough damage to someone if aimed right. It occurred to her that Shannon hadn’t even asked. “Serve her right if I shot myself in the foot.” The tremor in her voice gave away this was all bravado.

Bud looked to the gun, then back up to Jenny, his gaze now worried.

She stroked his head. “Don’t worry I’ll make sure I aim away from you.”

“Arrfff.” His head turned sharply, with one movement he was by the door sniffing under it.

Jenny rose just as fast, stopping by him, listening. She heard Bud’s beginning growl, a hand silenced him. He waited, looking up at her, his ears twitching. Jenny opened her sense, what she felt made her step away from the door. He was in the house. She grabbed Bud’s collar pulling him away from it, she raised the gun. She suddenly realized her safe place was now nothing more than a trap. God where was Shannon ?

Shannon stumbled, losing her bearings, she scrambled up the sand dune, hoping height would give her at least a look at something she knew. Another gust sent her to her knees, but she would have fallen anyway, her guts suddenly tightened and a wave of fear hit her like a brick. Her head snapped up. “Jenny.”

Jenny became aware the hand holding the gun was shaking, she brought it up, wrapping her other hand around it aiming it at the door. Bud’s growl was low. Jenny swallowed, she knew as well as her dog did, he was right outside the door.

Shannon wished she had a damn guide line, right now she was pretty sure she was at the third large dune from the house but she couldn’t be sure. Gritting her teeth she rose, her breathing labored, the fear inside her was growing and she knew it wasn’t just her own.

Jenny was concentrating so hard, she feel Bud’s apprehension.

“I could just burn you out.”

The voice made her jump to the point she nearly lost her grip on the gun, Bud’s rush to the door and manic barking nearly made her lose her breakfast.

The voice came again. “It is Miss Newton isn’t it? I’d hate to have the wrong house.”

She looked around as if suddenly an escape hatch would appear. Bud now was clawing at the door.

“I understand this must be slightly upsetting to you. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that you could feel what I was doing. You put quite a jinx in my plan you know. I really haven’t got time to be here.”

Jenny grabbed Bud, commanding him to be quiet, moving back to the other side of the bed, kneeling behind it. Her hands resting on it, the gun steady. “Then leave.”

A chuckle sounded. “I’ve read a lot about you lately. I’m afraid I had to take care of this first. But I must admit I’m intrigued by what you can do. If you can do it of course? I just couldn’t take any chances, things are too important.”

“You’ll get over it.” She closed her eyes, praying for Shannon to stay away now, knowing what would happen if she returned, knowing it was the beginning of her worst nightmare again.

He laughed. “I’m sorry I don’t have more time. I need to know what you know? Could you come out please and I’d advise leaving the dog.”

Jenny went over her options which to be truthful were few. Her options sudden narrowed when she heard the cocking of a large machine gun.

“I’m a little pressed for time. If I kick the door in I’m afraid the dog is going to die.”

Jenny looked down at the trusting gaze, swallowing. Her eyes steeled. “If you kick the door in, I’ll blow your fucking head off!” She leveled the gun.

His grin froze, then it widened. “I love a chick who can kick ass.” He stepped back ready to kick the door in, when a deep growling voice sounded from behind right in his ear.

“Then you’re gonna love me.”

He started, turning to the voice but too late, a fist connected with his face spinning him. The woman was on him again, a boot catching him in the kidney, he twisted, rolling on the floor, bringing the gun up, only to have it kicked out of his grasp. He blocked the next kick to his face, punching out, satisfied when he heard a grunt, he jumped to his feet, throwing two punches, one was blocked but the other got through.

Shannon spun away from the third, cross armed she blocked a high kick to her face, catching the foot and using his own momentum against him to spin him away. She kicked out at the coffee table as she saw him reach for the machine gun, the coffee table caught him low in the shin, he yelped jumping clear over it, his face now full of rage.

She steeled ready for his barreling attack, she slapped away a punch, grunting as a blow caught her high in the ribs, she brought an elbow down into his shoulder. He grabbed her, twisting both of them down into a roll. Blow after blow was given and taken, blocked and delivered.

Shannon felt a hit to her shoulder the pain making her cry out with a yell, her arm went numb. He didn’t know what he’d done but he took the advantage, untangling himself from her, rising, kicking out twice into her stomach.

Shannon pushed back throwing herself into a handstand, landing on her feet, she could see the surprise on his face just as her kick connected.

He stayed kneeling, spiting blood. “You bitch.”

She raised an eyebrow.

His hand went to his back. She saw the glint of the knife as it came into view.

Jenny could hear the fight, could actually feel the pain that laced through Shannon , she held onto Bud’s collar, trying to stop him from trying to rip through the door. She’d had enough, she ran to the door, unlocking it.

Shannon eyes snapped to the door. “NO! STAY IN THERE!”

Jenny’s hand stilled.

He took the advantage, slicing outward.

She jumped back as the blade whooshed past her midriff. She caught the wrist twisting only to have a fist smack into her temple enough to stun her. She winced as she felt the deep slice to her inner thigh, it gave out, her body dropped, a knee smashed into her chin, she saw stars, then her hair was pulled back and she felt the blade to her throat and found herself looking up into steel blue eyes and a grin stained with blood.

“You shouldn’t have dropped you’re guard. You had me.” His eyes shifted to the bedroom door then back. “She’s a distraction that’s gonna get you killed.” His head tilted in question as he studied her. “Didn’t I try to blow you up?”

Shannon winced as her hair was pulled tighter. She tried to keep the fear down, knowing Jenny would feel it now. “Yea.”

“How many lives you got left?”

She swallowed. “Enough.”

He grinned. He moved to her back, pushing his knee into her spine, making her arch backwards, the knife firmly at her throat, his eyes now were on the door. “Miss Newton. Could you come out here for a minute. I seem to have someone to show you.”

Jenny’s heart froze.

“Jenny don’t….” Shannon ‘s voice was cut off by a slap.

Jenny’s eyes slipped closed. She rose like a zombie, only to find Bud standing in front of her stopping her movements. “Bud?”

He shifted on his feet, unsure, yet sure. The one thing he knew was Jenny couldn’t go through the door.

Jenny moved to go around him only to have him shift. “Bud! Stay.”

He whimpered at the tone, but sidestepped again as Jenny moved to go around again.

To her surprise he jumped up, pushing her backwards to the point she ended up sitting on the bed.

Her temper rose. “Damn it. Get out of my way.”

Bud whimpered but held firm.

Then Jenny knew, knew as she rose what he was doing, he was doing once again what Shannon had asked, protecting her and he wasn’t going to let her through that door. She made a grab for him but he twisted out of the way, barring the door again.

The man was growing inpatient. “I’m not going to ask again. Get the fuck out here?” he leveled the gun at the door, the knife still at Shannon’s throat this time digging in enough to make her stop swallowing as she felt a thin trickle of blood flow down her throat.

Jenny could hardly see now, tears made her vision completely blurred. “Bud please…. Please let me through.”

Bud licked his lips, his eyes blurred, once again he stopped Jenny moving to the door, this time he growled. His heart hurt.

“MISS Newton LAST WARNING.”

Jenny let out a sob as she brought the gun up. “Bud please baby move. He’ll hurt her.”

Bud shuffled on his feet unsure, his eyes locked on Jenny’s, but still he wouldn’t let her through.

“Please.” She stepped closer, she cocked the gun.

Shannon couldn’t move, every time she tried the knee in her spine sent waves of pain throughout.

BANG

The shot and yelp from the bedroom nearly made him drop the gun.

Shannon ‘s eyes shot up.

He wasn’t sure what was going on. He looked down at Shannon , then back to the door when he heard it open. The blonde woman came out, the gun in her hand hanging by her side. He swallowed, he didn’t think he’d ever seen that much pain in some ones face before.

Jenny looked right at him, throwing the gun to the floor at his feet.

“Jenny.” Shannon ‘s voice was a whisper. She tried to strain to see around Jenny into the room. She swallowed hard, she could see Bud’s body. Her eyes shot to Jenny.

He realized Newton was just staring at him, waiting. He looked behind her, a thought occurring to him, his eyebrow rising as he figured something out. “You shot your own dog? Why?”

Jenny’s eyes went briefly to Shannon . “He wouldn’t let me through and you would have hurt her.”

Shannon wanted to cry, but right now she had to figure a way out of this.

He gave a curt laugh. “Damn you’re a bitch.”

She didn’t answer him, just kept her eyes low. “What do you want?”

“I need to know what you’ve figured out?” it unsettled him when she looked up, her eyes seemed to look right through him.

“Nothing. We fell for your game…. The symbols, the sites all of it. We only figured out tonight it was all a trap to follow. Because of the storm we couldn’t tell anyone.” Her voice was as dead as her gaze.

“Tell them what?”

“That you have another target. One we have no clue about.”

His eyes narrowed. “I’m impressed you figured that much out. I thought the symbols and burial sites were enough to call me a nutter arsonist.” He pointed the gun at Shannon ‘s head. “The truth Miss Newton. Who knows?”

She met his eyes. “No one but us.”

He studied her. She was telling the truth, there was no lie in her face, in fact there was nothing there now, it unsettled him even more. “You must have known coming out of that door was going to get you killed, along with her.” he pressed his knee deep into Shannon ‘s back, only halting when he heard her groan.

Jenny moved slowly to the couch, keeping her eyes on Shannon . “I know.” She sat, aware the gun was pointed right at her now.

“So why do it?”

Jenny crossed her legs, folding her hands in her lap to stop them shaking. “Because I couldn’t just let you kill her without doing something. I did that once before.” Her eyes came up, meeting Shannon ‘s anguished gaze. “….never again.” Her eyes went to him. “….And maybe I thought we could do something to stop you.”

A cruel smile crept up his face. “Like what? Use your special powers?”

Jenny’s voice hardened. “I wish I did have that sort of power, because right now I’d be frying your brain until it came out your nose.”

His smile stuttered, he believed that one. “So the real question is who first?”

Shannon felt the knife dig in more.

Jenny saw it but kept her expression closed. “I have a question?”

“Of course you do…. anything to waste time.”

“Where is the real target?”

For a moment he didn’t move then he threw back his head, laughing. “Jesus. Do you think this is some sort of movie where the bad guy spills his guts?”

Jenny shrugged. “We’re dead anyway aren’t we. What would it matter?”

Shannon let her shoulder relax, the movement was enough to drop her hand to just above the gun.

He shook his head. “Sorry. I’m not one to kiss and tell.”

“Are you a terrorist?”

His eyes snapped up. “I’m not fucking Al – Qaeda . I’m American.”

“That’s reassuring.” Shannon flinched as the blade dug in.

His face came close to her. “Don’t push me.”

Jenny could see they were running out of time. “Okay then this isn’t political. Why?”

“Do I have to have a reason? Maybe I just like blowing things up?” He was becoming agitated.

Jenny shook her head. “No. I don’t believe that. You wouldn’t go to all this trouble unless your real target meant something to you.”

He remained silent, but she could sense it she’d hit a nerve.

“I’ll agree with you. You like fires.” She could see Shannon trying to reach the pistol, it was a hairs breath away from her fingertips. She just had to keep his attention. “You like showing off your…… talent.”

His smile twitched.

“In fact you like controlling don’t you?”

His head slowly nodded. “Oh yes. Have you ever really watched a fire? It’s like the hand of god.”

Shannon shifted uncomfortably; she was hoping this one wasn’t insane.

“But that wasn’t the real reason was it. You were testing?”

He just smiled.

“Why the oyster shell? Just something to keep the Calusa trail going?”

His eyes sparked surprise. “My my, you are good aren’t you. It kept the forensic guys guessing.”

“It must be very important to you…. Your real target?”

His smile froze. “Enough.”

Jenny saw his hand moving with the knife, she rose. “Wait.’

He looked up at her sharply.

“Then tell me why?”

“Why.”

“So I know why you’re really killing us so I can haunt you.”

He grinned again. “Haunt away.”

She knew then he didn’t know… There was someone else pulling his strings. She walked slowly to the kitchen.

“Sit down!”

She ignored him, pouring herself a glass of water, aware the whole time her insides were shaking to bits.

“You’ve got some balls lady. I said sit down.”

As she turned she let the glass slip from her hands smashing at her feet. She saw it then the gap she wanted, his attention was on her, fully on her, his back to the bedroom. She looked right at Shannon conveying with her eyes what she hoped she’d understand. Then she put everything she had into the yell. “BUD!”

He didn’t have time to even turn before he felt the weight on his back and teeth at his throat. He focused on his left hand drawing the knife across.

Shannon brought her hand up fast as she felt the pressure go from her spine, trapping her hand between the knife and her neck, yelling as the knife cut deep into her flesh.

Bud hung on for dear life.

Jenny threw herself across the floor covering her head, as the machine gun reined bullets, spraying broken wood, plaster, glass into a shower around her.

Shannon twisted, bringing her hand up and out, drawing the knife away from her throat, her other hand searching till she felt the edge of the gun, bringing it up, but before she could fire, the machine gun butt came down onto her forearm, she had no choice but to drop it and roll away. Kicking out at the knife as she rolled, relieved when it tumbled away under the couch. She kept rolling as she felt splinters of wood cast up as bullets impacted…. She found herself caught and recognized immediately who it was when she felt herself pulled to safety behind the couch.

Bud yelped as something smashed into his ribs, he whined as another hit, he could feel his grip on the neck loosening, with on last deep bite, he shoved himself away, tearing flesh, growling as he landed.

The man yelled, swore, his hand going to his neck coming away covered in blood, finding the dog he leveled the machine gun at the cause.

Both Jenny and Shannon saw it, both rose yelling.

He grinned.

Bud’s body shifted low, growling.

The front door suddenly burst open, exposing rain and storm into the room and a figure silhouetted as lightning flashed across the sky.

He glanced over his shoulder surprised, he was still surprised when the first bullet impacted his back, twisting him into a spin, he blinked rain as the second shot caught him in the chest and propelled him to the floor with a heavy thud.

Jane ran in, kicking the fallen gun away, her gun leveled at the man who was now still on the floor. She looked around, searching, until she located all three. She grinned in relief. “Hi.”

Bud licked at his leg, tasting blood, he still didn’t like it. He limped over to Shannon and Jenny, rubbing himself along them.

Shannon felt herself helped up, then drawn into the biggest hug ever, she smiled over at Jane. “Hellava an entrance, there Sundance.”

Jane grinned, the relief plain on her face, she’d thought she’d been to late when she’d heard the gunfire. “Glad…..”

All two of them snapped their gaze as the man laughed, each seeing what he found so amusing in his hands.

“Game over ladies.” He pressed the small button on the black box.

Jane yelled diving for it, snatching it from his hands, but not before it let out a low beep.

He blinked, then he heard it, far in the distance above the noise of the storm, the explosion. His eyes shifted to Shannon . “You…. You moved it.”

Shannon put her arm over Jenny’s shoulder, relieved to take the weight off her leg. “Yep.”

His face fell. “Who are you people?” His eyes slipped closed.

This time Jane made sure, she checked his neck pulse. “He’s dead.”

It was only then Jenny let it all out, she pulled Shannon to her, burying her face in her neck and let the sobs come. Shannon didn’t know what else to do except hold her just as tightly. Fully aware her own eyes were leaking tears as she glanced over to Jane. “How did you know?”

Jane wiped the rain from her face, she was only now just getting over the flat out run she’d made along the beach. Did she really jump a tree? “I…a…. I found the speedboat when I was heading back to the safe house…. I tried to get through and heard that it was jammed, so I got here as fast as I could.”

Shannon just nodded, this time she buried her face in Jenny’s hair, feeling how much they both were trembling.

Jane let them be. She moved to the body, going over everything, she found a wallet. Quickly opening it, she flicked through all the cards until she got to an ID. “Boss I’m going to head back to the harbor get onto the FBI with this name. Maybe they can get lucky. You….” Her eyes shifted to the body. “You gonna be okay?”

Shannon nodded. “Yea go. Tell them he wasn’t working on his own.”

“How the hell you know that?”

Shannon ‘s eyes shifted to Jenny. “Because she’s smart.”

Jane wasn’t sure what the hell that meant, but she’d go with it. With one last look to them, she turned heading back into the storm.

They just stood locked together, until finally Shannon had to sit down. “Jen?” She eased away, hating the fact she saw that haunted look again. “Hey.” She lifted Jenny’s chin with a finger, brushing her thumb across the tears.

Lost eyes suddenly seemed to focus. “Yea.” Jenny’s voice was hoarse.

“Can you help me to the couch, before I fall down.” She twitched a smile.

Jenny remembered Shannon ‘s wounds. “Oh god. I’m sorry.” She quickly shifted her weight to carry Shannon ‘s, helping her hobble to the couch.

Bud decided he really needed a lay down, he flopped at their feet. His eyes locked on the man, he growled.

Jenny reached down, smoothing his fur. “You did so well boy.”

His eyes came up to her, he licked her hand.

Shannon let her head rest back, her whole body ached now. She watched as Jenny inspected her wounded, saw her wince, then rise, then come back with a towel and water, kneeling on the floor between her legs, pressing it onto her leg, another she wrapped around her hand. Then and only then did Jenny look up at her. Both of them felt the jolt to their core.

Jenny eased herself down, laying her cheek on Shannon ‘s undamaged thigh. Breathing, she was breathing, they were still breathing. She closed her eyes thanking whatever god was listening. She tightened her hug around Shannon ‘s leg. “God….”

It felt the most natural thing to do, Shannon lifted her good hand and began running her fingers through Jenny’s hair. “That was a clever thing you did with Bud.” She swallowed hard, she hated to admit it but for one moment, she’d actually believed it. “…. What gave you the idea?”

“You.” Jenny’s eyes slipped closed as she felt her body relax under the soothing movements in her hair. “I remembered how you said he was a clever dog. I trusted him to understand.” Her eyes opened going to Bud who was licking his paws. “I think he knew even before I did…. Did you really think I’d shoot him?” her voice was uncertain.

“I don’t know…. I guess.” She inhaled, when she felt Jenny tense. “I saw him lying there and everything is just so crazy…. If I’d been given more time….” She stroked down Jenny’s neck, feeling her relax again. “No…. I wouldn’t have. But that wasn’t the point…. You needed him too.” Her eyes shifted to the dead body.

“Yes.” Her eyes fell to Bud who was looking up at her.

“How you get him to yelp?”

Jenny winched. “I stomped on his foot.” She motioned to him. “The one he’s licking.”

He looked up, his gaze already forgiving.

Shannon gave a tired laugh. “Maybe we should start training him to yelp on request.”

Jenny lifted her head, eyes staring up. “Are you saying madmen with guns and bombs coming into our home is going to be a regular occurrence?”

Shannon grin widened. “Our home?”

Jenny blushed, returning her cheek to Shannon ‘s thigh. “I’m so tired.” She exhaled the word with a long sigh.

Shannon felt it too. “Yea.”

“Thank you for keeping your promises?”

Shannon looked down, knowing she didn’t need to ask which ones. She sighed. She ached, she hurt, her shoulder throbbed, her leg throbbed, yet at this moment she’d never felt more at home.

As if both drawn they each looked to each other. Shannon smiled first, which was met by Jenny’s. They moved at the same time to meet each other half way. The kiss was one of promise, of answers, of questions, of need, of want, of healing, of peace.

Bud yawned, rolling his eyes at them, rising, going to the man, he sniffed, then sneezed and headed over to his bed. It had been a very long day.

….

It was if the cyclone was connected to the tempest that had raged inside Jenny’s home…. The wind began to die down, the sea to calm, thunder now was distant as dark clouds gave way to dawns blue skies, the sun peeked through as if uncertain it was safe to reappear. Now was the time of desolation and repair. The beach held the fallen victims, trees, wood, dead fish and birds of the tantruming child. But the sea although unforgiving in many things will always take care of its own; now lapping waves washed over the destruction with a calm flow, carrying back on white raised peaks its cherished treasures to disappear, leaving the sands clear and untouched.

Shannon limped to the door, her leg now was bandaged, as was her hand, it had been three hours since the shit hit the fan, now as the storm had passed she knew she’d have to leave. Jane had contacted her, letting her know she’d gotten through to the Captain and FBI and all of them were going to descend on the island soon. She shuffled, keeping her weight off her leg, it was going to need stitches, she could already feel the wetness spreading under the bandage and it was throbbing like a son of a bitch.

Her eyes shifted back to the blanketed body, it had been close, too close. Why was she always making mistakes when it came to madmen? She shook her thoughts clear, her eyes going back outside, letting what she saw calm her. There was always something about the air after a storm, it was fresher, cleaner. She smiled as she felt Jenny approach, smiling more as arms encircled her waist and felt a cheek pressed into her back. She covered the hands with her own. She didn’t want to leave, but she knew she had too. There were still many unanswered questions, he still could have a target out there. Let alone the things that were going on between the two of them.

“I know you have to go…..”

Shannon smiled. She was getting used to the fact Jenny always seemed to know what she was thinking.

“….promise me you’ll go to the hospital and get yourself taken care of first.”

Shannon turned in the embrace. “I will.”

Jenny just starred up, amazed now that the blue eyes were just as calm as the sea. “I…. I…. could come with you?”

Shannon knew that offer cost Jenny a lot. “I’d like that, but someone’s got to stay here and explain what happened and leaving a crime scene isn’t….” She suddenly felt Jenny stiffen, she looked over her shoulder back up the beach. Her face grew hard. “FEDS.”

Jenny drew gently away. “I don’t care. I want this finished with.” Her eyes went to Shannon . “But you need to get that leg and hand seen too.”

Shannon limped out onto the porch aware Jenny held back. Shannon watched as they grew closer, she cursed under her breath when she saw which agents they were; Ryter and Thomas.

They drew closer, neither of them smiled, they didn’t wait for an invitation as they came into the yard and started up the steps. Agent Thomas just managed a smile. “Detective.” He paused on the first step aware she wasn’t going to move.

“Agent.” Shannon ‘s narrowed gaze was on Ryter, who was giving her his best, drop dead look.

Thomas’s eyes went to the doorway, seeing the psychic in shadow. He bowed his head in acknowledgement, not surprised at all when none was returned. His gaze came back to Shannon . “Forensic are on their way. You’re partner filled us in on what happened.” He’s eyes dipped to her leg and hand. “You need medical assistance?”

Her voice was curt. “I’ll get it later.”

Thomas exhaled. “Look. I don’t want to be back here anymore then you two don’t want me here. But right now….” His eyes went to Jenny. “…. We need your help.”

Jenny took a small step forward. “You’ve found out there’s another target?”

His jaw twitched. “Yes. Can we come in?”

Shannon looked over to Jenny.

Jenny turned. “Let them in. I want this over with.”

Shannon stepped back, not bothering to wait, she followed Jenny inside. This wasn’t exactly regulation crime scene procedure, they were all stomping over evidence, but lately nothing had been regulation. She watched as Jenny shut herself down, sitting once again with Bud on guard by her side. Shannon took the rocking chair, needing to rest her leg, she watched them enter, smirking when Ryter jumped, as Bud let out a low growl as he passed.

Thomas saw the covered body, he moved too it, lifting the blanket, he knelt, snapping on latex gloves, he started a thorough search, he didn’t really expect to find anything but he had to be sure. He replaced the blanket, removing his gloves. “Emerson said she took him down?”

“Shot him twice. It was clean.” Shannon made sure they understood.

“She beat the crap out of him too?” He smirked already knowing the answer.

Shannon just glared.

“We’re wasting time.” Ryter sat forward. “He’s your arsonist alright. We raided his house as soon as we got the information from your detective. Son of a bitch had enough C4 to blow up a small town. Had his fires all spread out nicely for us on a wall map. But there’s nothing there to tell us where he’s next one is.”

“What makes you think there is one?” Shannon eased her leg straight.

“We’ve traced the canisters he used. He brought eight of them in October of last year, he didn’t cover his tracks. I don’t think he ever considered being caught. He used his credit card; we traced it to a store in Yarmouth . The canister he used is usually sold as a time capsule. Anyway, Five are accounted for, the fires, forensic matched them.” His eyes locked on Shannon . “Two are missing.”

She flexed her hand. “I can account for one. He tried to blow up this house. I found it and dumped it in the sand dunes.”

Both agents eyebrows rose. Ryter spoke. “That still leaves one.”

Jenny lowered her eyes. “There is another one.”

Eye’s snapped to her.

She looked up. “He said as much. But, he didn’t say where.”

Thomas rubbed his temple, smoothing back his dark hair. “There’s nothing at his home. We’re trying to figure out if he had a second place but so far all searches have come up nil.”

Shannon was impressed; the feds had only been given the name two hours ago. Her eyes went to the body. “Who was he?”

Thomas turned to her surprised. He pulled out his notebook. “Jonathan Barnes. Keys resistance since 1993. He was born in new York lived there till he was 23 then …” his voice tapered off. “….joined the marines.”

Shannon frowned. “Wait a minute. He’s ex marine and we didn’t catch that from the print?”

Thomas shifted nervously. His head down. “Wasn’t his print.”

Shannon lent forward. “What? I didn’t catch that?”

Thomas exhaled, lifting his head. “It wasn’t his damn print. It belonged to the shop assistant that sold him the canister. I don’t think Barnes even knew the print was there. It was inside.”

Shannon gave a dry laugh. “Great. We were chasing more fucking shadows. Anything else you guys screwed up? We were going on your information as I remember.”

Both agents flushed red.

“ Shannon .” Jenny’s voice was soft.

Shannon met her gaze, taking a deep breath she sat back. “Go on what else have you got on him?”

Thomas checked his notes. He didn’t blame Shannon for her reaction, everyone of them felt the same when they’d found the match. “He was discharged from the marines five years ago.”

“Why wasn’t he recalled for Iraq ?”

“He was wounded in action in Gaza , back injury, they offered him a desk job but he refused. He’s been drawing a pension, so we have no work record on him at all.”

Shannon had a bad feeling. “What was he in the marines?” he saw the brief look exchanged between the detectives.

Ryter answered. “Bomb disposal.”

Shannon ‘s face flushed. “And is there a reason he’s name didn’t show up on the list of ex service men living in the area? Especially ones with explosive knowledge?”

Ryter looked at Thomas again. Thomas answered. “We missed it.”

Shannon ‘s snorted. “No shit.”

Ryter glared at her. “Do you know how many names we’ve had to check on that list? Over two thousand. We were getting to him.”

“This doesn’t make sense.”

Everyone turned to Jenny as she spoke.

She looked up at them. “He isn’t that stupid. You said it yourself he didn’t expect to be caught. He would have known his name was going to come up sooner or later, that you would have questioned him. With his expertise you would have done more than trust his word. You would have found the credit card, then the canister.”

Shannon nodded. “She’s right.”

Ryter shrugged. “So?”

Jenny’s eyes fell to the body. “He isn’t Jonathan Barnes. It’s another one of his false leads.”

Ryter snorted. “Yea well he didn’t expect to end up dead now did he. So he makes mistakes.”

Shannon watched Thomas, seeing he was thinking. “Did you run D.N.A?”

Thomas eyes slowly came up. “Not yet….” He’s mouth twitched. “….You have the body.”

Shannon opened her mouth, but thought better of it, it snapped shut.

Jenny hid her smile.

Ryter threw his arms up. “Oh come on. We have identification on him, his house records, neighbors knew him.”

Thomas straightened. “Ryter, go back to the port and wait for my team.”

Ryter flushed, but rose, giving Jenny and Shannon a dirty look before leaving.

Thomas looked at Shannon . “He isn’t as much of an ass as you think.”

“I’ll take your word on that.”

Jenny stroked Bud’s head, she’d stayed mostly silent, just listening and trying to figure things out. She hated this, hated that there was a dead man on the floor, what surprised her was the fact she wasn’t freaked out about it, or that they were just sitting around talking over the body as if it wasn’t there. Life sometimes was the strangest thing.

Thomas moved a little closer to Jenny, well aware Bud was watching him. “Miss Newton we do need your help on this. I can’t take the chance that his next target is just sitting there waiting to explode.”

“He liked doing it himself, to watch.”

Thomas nodded in agreement back to Shannon . “I know and I’m hoping he’s placed the damn thing and it’s just sitting there waiting for him. But, that still leaves a big risk. We need to find it.” He looked back at Jenny. “I know it’s alot to ask after everything that’s happened.” Her eyes locked with him, he swallowed. “Will you help?”

Jenny looked passed him to Shannon, who was just waiting. “We’ll help.” Shannon smiled and nodded in agreement.

Jenny rose. “I need to go to his house. It’ll take too long to bring his things here and I don’t…..” her voice faltered, eyes falling to the body. “I want him out of my house…. I want it so there’s nothing of him here. Can you arrange that?”

Thomas smiled. “I’ll take care of it. When do you want to leave?”

Jenny was already heading to her bedroom. “Now.”

His eyes followed her, until he turned, looking to Shannon . “She’s changed.”

Shannon rose, hopping slightly to regain her balance. “Yes. We both have.”

He wanted to ask what that meant, but knew he wouldn’t have gotten an answer anyway. “You need that seen too.” He nodded to her leg, the bandage now was stained with blood.

“I’ll get it done on the way…..” she paused. “Unless I’m not allowed on this?”

“I’d be an idiot to keep you out of it. Go down to the port, my launch is there, take it. Agent Day is waiting, he has the address. If Ryter gives you any hassle send him back to me. I’ll wait till my team gets here then I’ll meet you at the house.”

She hobbled passed him, lifting her gun. “I’m leaving a crime scene.”

He smiled. “Never bothered you before.”

“Yea well last time it nearly cost me my life and my job. I’m tending to be a little more careful these days.” Her voice was bitter.

Jenny stilled at the door.

Thomas saw her but said nothing. He gave his attention back to Shannon . “You’re covered. We’ll get both your statements later. Emerson pretty much filled us in on what she knew happened. There won’t be a problem.” As an afterthought he asked. “What happened to the bomb?”

“He blew it up. Surprised Jane didn’t tell you.”

Thomas found himself flat footed again. Detective Rhimes never ceased to amaze him. “We had limited time. Where’s the area?”

Shannon nodded to the right of the house. “About 100 feet that way.”

“I’ll get it checked.”

Jenny took the time to get her feelings under control by the time Shannon turned to her there was no sign of how much her words had impacted. “We ready?”

Shannon holstered her gun, slipping her arm over Jenny’s shoulder. “Ready.”

Jenny squeezed the hand. “We’re going to the hospital first.” She dared both Shannon and Agent Thomas to argue with her. Neither of them spoke. “Good. Bud…. We’re getting you checked out too.” She put on her sunglasses.

He woofed, his side really did hurt. He gave Agent Thomas a not so sure look as he followed his mistress and friend through the door.

When they were gone, Thomas put back on new latex gloves, snapping them into place as he wondered where he should start first.
Part 4
Jenny hadn’t been ready for the feelings that choked her as they’d entered the hospital. She’d sat silently by Shannon ‘s side as the nurse stitched both wounds, the whole time she wanted to run away. Everything assaulted her, the smells, the sounds, the echoes, the lights. She’d held it all together until in another room she heard the code red sound of a heart monitor flat lining. She’d run then, ran until hands grabbed her and she was pulled into safe warm arms.

They stood in the car park, unaware of anything but each other.

“It’s okay.” Shannon soothed her.

“No it’s not.” Jenny shuddered.

There was silence, until finally Jenny drew away, now composed. “I wasn’t ready for that. Sorry.”

Shannon looked at her, worry on her face. “No need to be sorry.” Her worry increased as Jenny avoided her gaze. She knew Jenny wasn’t going to talk about it now, if ever. She inhaled, wondering if Jenny was going to run away again. It had scared her half to death when Jenny had suddenly bolted from the cubicle. “Let’s go to the house. Get this finished.”

Jenny nodded, already turning heading towards where they had parked the car.

Shannon sighed, following.

Bud sniffed at the bandage around his ribs, he nipped at it.

“Bud!”

He cringed, sighing, going back to putting his chin on his paws, wiggling to try and get the bandage off.

Jenny rolled her eyes. “He’s as bad as you.”

Shannon took her eyes off the road briefly. “What you mean?”

Jenny lowered her glasses, staring at Shannon ‘s hand.

Shannon looked down, she’d been rubbing the bandage on the wheel. She cleared her throat, eyes going back to the road. “Well it itches.”

Bud ‘arftttt’ in agreement.

Jenny bit her lip, she really did love that pout. Her smile faltered. God, they’d have to talk about this soon.

Shannon drew the car into the side road, slowly as she made out the SWAT van and flashing blue lights. The press were already there, held back on the far side of the street. She chose to keep the van and patrol cars between them, giving Jenny as much protection as possible as she pulled the car to a stop.

Jenny undid her seatbelt, her eyes scanning the crowd of people; she could feel the fear, but also the excitement. She heard Shannon get out. She twisted to face the back. “You’re staying here….” She wagged a finger. “….and leave the bandage alone or I’ll get you one of those collars that make you look like a dork!”

He whined.

“I mean it.”

He licked her finger, dark eyelashes fluttering innocently.

Shaking her head she stroked him. “I know you’re cute, but I mean it.”

He sighed, lying back down.

She couldn’t help but smile at him. She sat forward, closing her eyes, centering herself, when she felt the calm she opened the door and stepped out, ignoring the flashes of the News cameras.

Shannon had been waiting, the walking stick she’d been giving supporting her wounded leg. She waited until Jenny was level with her. “You ready?”

Jenny led the way with a curt nod.

Shannon followed, her badge now in her hand, which she showed to the patrol man guarding the line. They both ducked under the yellow tape, heading up the pathway to the house.

Jenny took a deep breath before she stepped across the threshold. The first thing to hit her was the scent of pine, cleaning pine fluid and bleach. The whole house reeked of the stuff. She wiped at her nose as if that would stop it.

“You shouldn’t be in here?”

Shannon moved passed Jenny, cutting the Brad Pitt look alike off, she showed her badge. “Agent Thomas sent us.”

He looked at the badge, then at each of them. He nodded, stepping back. “I’m Special Agent Carter. I’ve been expecting you both.”

“I’m Rhimes, this is Jenny Newton. What have you found so far?”

He fell into step with them. “Well the second floor is completely clean, haven’t found anything out of the ordinary. First floor the same. The good stuff is in the basement.” He showed them into the kitchen.

Jenny looked around, opening her sense a little, nothing was there, no emotions.

Agent Carter moved to the old wooden door. “It’s down there. It’s safe…. But I wouldn’t advise touching any of the explosives.” He nodded down the steps. “He did all his work down there. There’s no explosive residue anywhere else in the house. He changed his clothes, shoes, even showered before he came back up.” He waited, looking to each of them.

Shannon watched Jenny.

Jenny moved around the kitchen, taking in the pictures on the wall, all woodland, all void of people. She moved to the cupboard opening it. Everything was in rows, neat, tidy, obsessive. She closed the door, moving to the draw, opening, the cutlery was silver, well polished. She slid the drawer closed. Looking around everything there told her nothing at all. She met the questioning gaze of the Agent. “Are all the other rooms like this?”

“If you mean squeaky clean then yea. Forensic didn’t even find anything on the carpets, floors, furniture, bed. They’re almost like new.”

Jenny nodded, she’d figured as much. She knew going anywhere in the house would give her the same sense. Nothing. “How long is he supposed to have lived here?”

“Two years.”

Jenny frowned. “He brought the house then?”

“No. He brought the house ten years ago, but he only came to live here after he left the marines.”

“Who lived here before?”

Carter pulled out his note book, flicking through the pages. “He leased it out. Two families stayed in the eight year period. I’m, well I haven’t gotten the details of who yet.”

Her finger moved along a top shelf, she checked it, no dust. “Get it for me?”

He was unsure why she wanted it, but he nodded.

There was nothing here, she moved to the basement door. “Can we go down?”

“Sure. You need me?”

“No. That’s okay.” Jenny started down the steps.

Carter turned. “I’ll get onto the information needed. Forensic haven’t finished down there yet, so I wouldn’t move anything.”

Shannon nodded. She headed to the steps, shifting her weight onto her good leg as she made her way down. When she reached the bottom, her mouth fell open, shelves and shelves of explosive lined two of the walls. The far one was given over to the map showing all of his fires. What made her swallow hard was the left side wall, it was covered in weapons. Mk47’s, Remington’s. Uzi’s. Hand grenades. Glocks. It was every survivalist and terrorists dream. “Jesus.” She stepped down the last step, steadying herself.

Jenny had had the same response.

“This looks more like a cell then someone working on their own.” Shannon moved to the map wall, searching over the map, for what she didn’t know.

“No. He’s on his own. I’m sure of it….But I’m still sure he’s working for someone.” Jenny had opened her senses now…. Pain, it emanated in the whole room. This was the room where he let himself feel, outside this door, he closed it down. But here, here was the real him. He was angry so angry. She tried to narrow it down, following the thread, but all she felt was the anger, the Essence suddenly split, she frowned, moving slow steps towards the center of the room.

Shannon moved away from the wall, looking around. “Why didn’t he booby trap this place?”

Jenny lifted a half eaten sandwich, dropping it in disgust, when she smelt it. The more she looked around the more she knew him. He’d lived here, right in this room, the upstairs meant nothing to him, a place to sleep. When he left this sanctuary he became nothing, nothing but his mission. But what was his mission? She became aware that Shannon was waiting for an answer to her question. “He didn’t need too. For one he didn’t expect to end up dead and this place found so quickly.”

“And because he didn’t think we’d find out who he is?”

Jenny turned to face her. “No. He wanted this place found at some point. He’s pretending to be Jonathan Barnes remember. It didn’t matter if any of this was discovered.” Her hands motioned to the room. “…. The man that’s dead didn’t exist, he was simply going to disappear and go back to who he used to be.”

Shannon gritted her teeth, using the tip of the cane to lift a sheet of metal in the corner. “So who the hell is he?”

Jenny wasn’t listening, her senses had peaked, the second split Essence again filtered into her sense. She moved to the far wall, the one with the maps. Stilling, her head tilted as she searched, her brow frowned, she pushed deeper till the point the world around slowed, stilled, all she could smell now was pine, acrid, sharp in her sense. She was aware of her breathing, deep and even, then suddenly she couldn’t breathe, there was no air, she broke away, stepping back so quickly she nearly feel over her own feet. She gasped.

Shannon was by her side instantly. “Hey.”

Jenny stared at the wall. “We need forensic down here.”

Shannon followed Jenny’s gaze. “Why? You find something?”

Jenny swallowed, turning her head slowly to meet questioning blue eyes. “I’ve found Jonathan Barnes.”

Shannon looked up as the two men carried the black body bag past the living room door. She looked across to Jenny who was sat by the window, scribbling something down in her notebook. Shannon had to smile when the psychic tucked an annoying hair back behind her ear, which then of course just fell back down.

“Detective?”

Shannon turned to Agent Carter. “Is it Barnes?”

“They’re not sure. They’re waiting for D.N.A. match to come back from Untied States military database. Agent Thomas notified me that the man at your house has been taken to the same lab, so hopefully we’ll find out who both of them are. One of them must be Barnes. N.C.I.S are coming in on the case.”

“Yea I figured as much. How long has the body been there?”

He shifted. “They think at least a year. But they won’t give a better timeline on it until he’s back in the lab.”

Shannon looked over to Jenny, who was still scribbling in her notebook. But unlike anyone else she saw that the psychic was listening by the tightening of her hand on the pen.

“So…. What do you two want to do now?”

Shannon didn’t answer his question, she waited.

Jenny closed her book. “The one in the wall is Barnes. He was killed down there. You’ll find a blow to his skull and knife wound to his lower abdomen. But that’s not what killed him. He was asphyxiated…. They knew each other. Barnes trusted him, it’s how he got the drop on him. He cleaned up the blood and saturated the whole place in pine fluid….” She wiped the edge of her nose. “…. He still does.”

Agent Carter’s eyes widened. “Um. How the hell you know that?”

Jenny ignored him, rising. “Don’t bother looking for a connection in the military there isn’t one. They met away from it. The man who attacked us wouldn’t have been so stupid to leave a trail that way.”

The agent still stared wide eyed. Shannon actually felt sorry for him as Jenny continued.

“They looked alike, that’s why the neighbors say they know him as Barnes. He made sure they saw him frequently to keep up the charade. They’ll say he was nice, probably even helped them out now and then. It’ll surprise all of them what he was really like and what you found here. He would have met Barnes in what looked like a chance meeting, they would have bonded, bonded enough for Barnes to have invited him into his home and trust him. They may have been seen together, it wouldn’t have mattered.”

“Um.” Carter shut his mouth. “Okay…. Are you going to tell Thomas that? Or you want me too?” He paled.

Finally Jenny looked at him, her features softened. “I’ll tell him.”

The relief showed instantly on his face, Shannon found it very hard not to laugh. She waited till he left before facing Jenny. “You know I think you really enjoy showing off and scaring the shit out of newbie’s.”

Jenny looked down, guiltily.

Shannon laughed, then sighed, getting serious again. “You’re making it seem like this guy has been planning this for two years.”

Jenny moved to the shelf of books. “I don’t think he planned the fires two years ago. But he did kill Barnes to take over his life. As to why…….” She shrugged. “…. I don’t know yet.” Her attention went back to the books; she slowly looked over each one. Something was there, she could feel it.

Shannon let her be, looking around the room herself. “What would make an ex marine like Barnes trust someone? Another marine? Or someone pretending to be a marine?” Shannon tapped her finger on the cane. Wondering what would make her trust a complete stranger and invite them into her home.

Jenny’s eyes paused on one of the books, she pulled it free. It was a book on low and high tides of the Keys. It didn’t seem to fit with the others; they were all fiction, crime stories. She opened it, stepping back when something fluttered free, she dipped, feeling the tingling start just before she lifted the photograph, she could smell the sea. “ Shannon .”

Shannon looked up from the drawer she’d opened. “Yea.”

Jenny turned the photograph to her. “Barnes owned a boat.”

Shannon limped over taking the picture. “There’s nothing registered to him.”

“Well, then he used a boat. I’m sure that’s how they met.”

Shannon looked at the picture, a man much like the one that had attacked them stood grinning on deck. She could see now how the dead man could get away with being Barnes. “A fellow sailor.”

Jenny nodded understanding what she meant. “Someone to trust.”

Shannon grinned, then ducked quickly kissing her on the cheek, before turning and hurrying as fast as her leg would let her out after Carter.

Jenny softly smiled.

….

They’d stayed at the house, going over every room, but as suspected Jenny felt nothing in any of the them, other than the basement. When they’d gone back down there, Jenny has shivered when she saw the broken brick wall where they’d removed the body. She’d had to close her sense down totally, the death had been brutal and long, she could still feel the ache in her lungs.

After more than two hours they’d finally given all the information to the returning Agent Thomas and were allowed to return home. Jenny for once hadn’t been looking forward to it. She didn’t know what to expect, she knew the body had been removed, but she knew the remaining Essence wouldn’t be.

Shannon had studied her on the ferry across, wanting to go and just take her in her arms, but she could feel it, Jenny had distance herself to handle things. She wasn’t sure what to do, except trust Jenny would come back.

The walk to the house had been in silence. Shannon had taken the steps to the door first, well aware that Jenny hung back. She turned. “We can stay in a hotel till the place is fixed?”

Bud sat at Jenny’s feet, looking up.

Jenny let out a low breath. “No. this is my home.”

Jenny took the steps, opening the door. She looked around. The place had been tidied to a degree, but no amount of tidying would get rid of the bullet holes that riddled the wood work of the walls and floor. Her eyes shifted to where the body had been, now there was nothing, someone had even cleaned up the blood. Squaring her shoulders she opened her sense, her eyes closing, waiting. Her eyes blinked open, there was no assault on her sense, no replay, no feeling him die. It surprised her, she could still feel his Essence there but…. Then she felt it the warmth at her back, a hand came down on her shoulder. She turned her head, looking up. Shannon, Shannon was keeping it all out and she didn’t have any idea she was doing it. It washed over the whole house, the warmth, the protection. Jenny smiled, seeing the worry. “It’s okay.”

Shannon wasn’t so sure.

Jenny patted her hand, before moving fully into the living-room. “See.”

Bud taking his cue, shot into the house.

Shannon ‘s eyes flickered to the area of the body, knowing how hard it would be for Jenny to be around an area like that. She found her hand taken and she was gently pulled into the room.

Jenny squeezed the hand. “I can’t feel him.”

Shannon reached up, needing to see Jenny’s eyes. She pulled the sunglasses free. “Why?”

Jenny blinked at the light. “You.”

Shannon frowned.

“I could explain it, but you won’t believe me. So just take my word for it. I can’t feel him.”

Shannon still wanted to know why, but knew somehow she wasn’t going to like it. Instead she lowered her lips to Jenny’s, smiling when she felt the psychic grab her shirt.

They both parted breathless.

Jenny moved away first, trying to compose herself, this was getting to become addictive. She could see the same in Shannon ‘s eyes and just the look made her insides tighten. “We…..” she pushed back her hair, laying her cool hand on a very hot neck. “….We have too….”

Shannon wished to god this was all over, staying away from Jenny just might kill her. “I know…. We’ve got things to do.”

Jenny nodded, still backing away. “I… have….to…” she pointed to the bathroom. “….Shower.”

Shannon followed her with her eyes, telling her legs to just stay still, they didn’t listen as she made a step towards the psychic.

Jenny saw it, her eyes widening, feeling the flush of heat between them, she bolted, running into the bathroom, locking the door. She reached over, turning the shower to cold, wishing it had an ice cold setting. God.

By the time Jenny came out of the shower, her house was full again. Jane sat at the kitchen table…. Agent Thomas on the couch. Her eyes searched for Shannon …. She grinned when Shannon stepped out of the guestroom. “Hi.”

Shannon stopped dead, returning the grin, her eyes trailing over Jenny’s. Boy, she looked good fresh from the shower. “Hi.”

Jane looked to each of them, she soooooooooooo wanted to whistle. She could see agent Thomas saw it too by the blush which covered his face before he found the report more interesting.

Thomas cleared his throat. “All the evidence you wanted is in the den. Rhimes set it up.”

“ Shannon .”

He looked over to her, nodding. “I’m Geoff….” His eyes went to Jenny as she took the seat opposite him. “We have the names of the people who rented the house. We’re having them checked now.” He passed over the file.

Jenny took it, reading it through.

“Why did you want to know about them?” He wasn’t sure he was going to answer him, then she looked right at him. He just controlled his urge to fidget.

“They would have had dealings with Barnes in person or through a renting agency. The man who attacked us might have looked around the house previous to setting up his meeting with Barnes. He’d have to find somehow or way to get to know Barnes.” She passed the report back. “I’d concentrate on the Spiller family. They lived in the house the year before Barnes left the marines and wanted to the house for himself.”

He nodded in agreement. One thing he didn’t doubt about the woman in front of him was how smart she was. His doubts lay elsewhere. Even with that he still trusted her judgment. “I’ll get it done. Is there anything else I can do?”

She inhaled sharply, her eyes going to Jane.

Jane frowned, she didn’t like that look at all.

Jenny’s eyes lowered. “I want to bring someone else in to help.”

Jane’s jaw tensed, she sat forward. She didn’t like where this was going at all.

Jenny saw it, but kept her attention on the Agent.

“Who?”

“Marcus Riley.”

“Son of bitch.” Jane jumped up. “You’ve got to be kidding me. After what you’ve done to him.”

Shannon moved, placing a hand on her shoulder. “Jane!”

Jane shrugged it off. “Don’t Jane me. She can’t be seriously thinking he’d even come near her again…. Jesus Shannon she’s ignored him for over a year. You remember that don’t you…. Or has one fuck wiped your mind.” Jane’s mouth froze, guilt flashed over her face, she took a step back.

Jenny flinched. So did Shannon .

Agent Thomas looked between each of them. Rising. “I don’t think. I’ll leave you t….” he shut up as blue eyes locked on him, he sat back down again.

Jane felt sorry as hell, it was written all over her face. “ Shannon …. I didn’t mean.”

“Yea you did…. Doesn’t matter. I need to go check out the safe house.” Before anyone could stop her, Shannon turned and went as fast as she could out the door.

Silence hung like an anvil. Agent Thomas wished FBI training covered this.

“She didn’t deserve that. You’re angry at me.” Jenny’s voice was low.

Jane spun at her. “Don’t you think I know that.” She kicked out at the table, shuddering the files on it. She seriously contemplated shooting something, instead she slumped in the chair. “Fuck.” She’d never forgive herself for this. What worried her more was would Shannon .

Jenny was just controlling her temper, but as much as she was mad as hell at Jane, as she looked across, she felt sorry for her. She pushed the anger away. “I need him Jane.”

Jane’s eyes snapped up. “You need his talent.”

Jenny bit back her instant reply. “Yes. We need it. In that room are things that the arsonist touched.” She softened her tone. “I can’t do what he can…. I know…. I know how badly I’ve treated him, all of you. I’ll deal with it, deal with him.”

Jane scoffed. “What makes you think he’ll come running?” Even as she said it she knew he would.

Jenny looked unsure. “I’m not.”

It surprised Jane that she knew Marcus better than Jenny did.

Agent Thomas cleared his throat. “This the same guy as before, the one that shot the Tooth Fairy?”

Jenny kept her eyes locked on Jane, but she nodded at the question. “He has the ability to touch things and see things.”

That made Thomas nervous. “Ah.”

Jenny finally broke her gaze on Jane, her eyes going to Thomas. “We need him. I don’t know who this man is. I can’t sense anything outside of the house. His essence is dead. You want the target found? I need Marcus to work the evidence.”

Thomas eyes shifted to Jane briefly. “And you think he’d help?”

Jenny shrugged. “We can ask?”

Jane snorted in disgust. “You should fucking ask him…. You at least owe him that much.”

Jenny knew she was right.

Agent Thomas waited.

Jenny rose. “I’ll ask him.” She held out her hand. “I need your cell.”

Jane blinked. “He’ll think it’s me.” She reached to her jacket hanging on the chair, pulling free her cell, handing it over, she paused before letting go, meeting Jenny’s eyes. “….but you knew that. That way he won’t hang up on you.”

Jenny took the cell.

“Dial memory two, hash.”

As she hit the memory hash. Jenny wondered and not for the first time how well Jane knew Marcus now.

Jane rose, a look of disgust on her face. “I’m going to find Shannon .” She left.

“Hello.”

Jenny steeled herself. “Hello Marcus.”

Marcus drew the phone away checking the name, moving it back. “Jenny????”

“I need your help.”

….

Jane was still swearing like a trooper, ten minutes down the beach her steps faltered as she caught sight of who was sitting on a dune staring out to sea. Shannon . She moved towards her, drawing up, not surprised when Shannon didn’t show her any signs of hello. Jane sat, resting her arms on her drawn up knees, looking out to where Shannon was.

“You can shoot me. Wouldn’t blame you.” That got her a turned head and a glare. Humor wasn’t going to work. Jane exhaled, shifting back onto her elbows. “I’m a shit.”

Shannon picked at the bandage on her hand.

“I’m worse than a shit.”

Shannon turned her head slowly, meeting Jane’s eyes. “Is that what they all think of me down at the station? Is that what you all really think of me? That I’ve forgotten everything just because I’ve slept with her.”

“No.” Jane’s answer was an exhale. She could hear the hurt in her partner’s voice.

Shannon looked back out to sea. “I haven’t forgotten anything…. I’ve forgiven her because I understand why. It’s not my problem that you still have you’re issues. What I have with her is……” she shook her head. “I don’t know what it is. But it feels so right Jane and it scares the shit out of me.”

“I know.” Jane sat straight. “I’m sorry. I really am. If I could take it back I would.” She meant it.

Shannon jaw worked, then she gave a curt nod. “Forget it.”

Jane sighed in relief, she knew it wasn’t over with, but for now it was ok.

Shannon looked at her, Jane swallowed under the intense gaze, Shannon broke it, rising, putting her weight on her good leg. “I still might shoot you though.” Then she started back towards the house.

Jane grinned, more relieved than anything in the world, to lose Shannon ‘s friendship would have left her poorer in so many ways. She rose, quickly moving to catch Shannon up.

Jenny looked up from the file when she felt Shannon approach. She appeared in the doorway within seconds. She could tell by the lines on her face that Jane’s words had hit hard. She wanted to go to her, but Jane appeared at Shannon ‘s shoulder.

“Is he coming?”

Jenny shifted her eyes from Shannon to Jane. “Yes. The FBI are flying him in.”

Jane face strained, she just turned away.

“Hey.” Jenny smiled.

Shannon finally met Jenny’s eyes. “Hey.”

“You okay?” she searched the blue, but was disappointed to find nothing was there to give away Shannon ‘s feelings.

“I’m fine. Can we get started with this before Marcus gets here or do we have to wait?” Shannon moved further into the den, looking over the evidence and files, everything belonging to the arsonist was laid out.

Jenny didn’t show the pain of being locked out. “We can start.” She focused on the things in front of her. “I’m going over the interviews with the neighbors. It was as I said. They liked him, he helped them out. In fact he had BBQ’s every summer which most of them attended. He wasn’t shy in his taking over Barnes life.” She looked at one of the names. “…. Mrs. Walters, she lives opposite, remembers another man who she thought was staying there about two years ago. I’m thinking she’s the only one who actually remembers the real Jonathan Barnes.”

Shannon nodded. She lifted an evidence bag. “What’s this?”

“He gave to charity, that’s his tax receipts.”

Shannon snorted. “Jesus. He has some balls…. He took over everything didn’t he? And no one noticed. He simply became Barnes.” She threw the bag down. “But why?”

“We’d better get to work.” Jenny lifted the next box of evidence.

Shannon pulled the chair over, sitting, opening the interview files.

Shannon stretched her back out, her eyes were stinging from reading reports and interviews, the FBI had been fast at gathering all resources. All four of them sat in the den; Thomas, Jane, Jenny, her. None of them were sure what they were supposed to be looking for, so far there was nothing, nothing except the fact the unknown man had completely taken over Jonathan Barnes life a year ago. It was worse than looking for a needle in a haystack, at least a needle could be found and still some things just didn’t make sense.

She reached across snagging a sandwich, which Jane had made earlier, the coffee was long cold. Her eyes went across to Jenny, she looked so tired, but so did all of them, they all had the same feeling they were running out of time. Her eyes shifted, even Agent Thomas looked rumpled. Marcus had locked himself away in the guestroom, occasionally coming out for more evidence. He avoided any contact with Jenny, Shannon could see how much that hurt her, but she didn’t really blame the guy and she knew Jenny thought that too.

Her eyes came back around, not surprised this time that Jenny was watching her, translucent eyes full of question and uncertainty. Jenny gave a small smile. Shannon looked down, pulling yet another file forward, right now she had to concentrate. The reason Jane’s words had hit hard, was on some level she’d already been thinking the same thing, she hadn’t been full focused on this case at all.

Jenny smiled stilted, she took a breath, knowing now she was being locked out on purpose.

“You know there’s something that doesn’t match up.”

All eyes turned to Jane.

She sat back from the computer screen. “His finances don’t add up…. There’s no way on Barnes pension he could afford all that hardware or explosives. Barnes had no other income, the house was brought using a twenty five grand deposit, which was left to Barnes by his grandmother. The rest was paid off when he let the house out over a eight year period. There is an outstanding mortgage of thirty thousand and payment was taken each month from his pension check which was paid into the account. That left him comfortable but no way could he have enough loose cash to buy luxury’s, especially ones off the radar.” She looked at them in question. “So. Where he get the dough?”

Agent Thomas rose, going to the computer. “May I?”

Jane rose.

He took her seat, his hands a blur over the keyboard.

Jane could see bank records appear and disappear, her eyebrows rose as she watched him bypass passwords. “Glad you’re on our side.”

He smiled, but didn’t break his attention from the screen, after another ten minutes he sat back. “She’s right. There’s no sign of any other income. Barnes outgoings went to bills, groceries, tax, everything came out of his main account.”

Jane looked at him, her face showing she’d just told him that.

He went back to the computer, inputting again.

Shannon remembered something, she rose, her hands sorting through the files.

“ Shannon ?” Jenny saw what she was doing.

“The marine discharge file where is it?” she moved one of the boxes.

Jenny saw it, she passed it over.

Shannon took it, flicking through. “Barnes was in a military hospital?”

“So?” Jane moved to her, looking over her shoulder. “We know he was wounded, back injury.”

Shannon found what she was looking for. “It wasn’t just a back injury, the wound affected his whole left side, and he only had limited motor skills.”

Jenny wasn’t sure what Shannon was getting at. “So?”

“So he wouldn’t have been able to go sailing. In fact I’m betting for the first year he was house bound.”

Thomas went back to the computer, this time he called up Barnes medical files. “You’re right. He had a nurse assigned to him for nine months, he went to psycho. An improvement was shown after the first year…. Most of his motor skills returned to normal. He was however left with a slight limp.” He looked at her. “It’s all very informative but why is it relevant?”

“What date was his last medical appointment?”

Thomas looked at the screen. “February 9 th 2009.”

“Two weeks after that he’s dead in a wall.” Shannon tapped her temple. “What if the arsonist did this before?”

Jane looked at her. “Huh?”

“What if the arsonist does this. Takes over people’s lives then disappears?”

Thomas was losing his patience. “What the hell has Barnes health got to do with that?”

Jenny was thinking, her eyes snapped to Shannon . God she loved her brain. “Because up until February 9 th Barnes was untouchable. He had a nurse that would have known him, been house bound, had regular checkups at the military hospital.” Shannon grinned at her. “He had to wait until Barnes was mobile, self sufficient, alone.”

Shannon turned, looking Thomas right in the eyes. “He was watching Barnes before. He was already picked.”

Thomas nearly scoffed again until he saw the look in Shannon and Jenny’s eyes. He chewed his inner cheek, thinking. “Okay so say that’s true. Why Barnes? And what makes you think the arsonist has done this before?”

Jenny’s mind was working overtime. “Barnes is the key. Something about him made all this work and time worthwhile. As for doing it before, it’s too damn well organized.”

“She’s right.”

Every one turned to the doorway. Marcus walked in, throwing an evidence bag on the table. “This whole thing was planned from start to finish.” She looked at Shannon . “I hate to tell you this but this guy, was nothing but a tool.”

Shannon swore under her breath. “He wasn’t working alone.”

“No what Jenny felt was right, he’s working or someone else. It’s all over the evidence.”

Jane went to him, hating the haggard look on his face. “You okay?” Her question was a whisper.

He smiled at her, touching the back of her hand for a moment. “I’ve been better.”

Jenny watched the exchange with a touch of jealousy, realizing she was being watched she turned her head, only to find Shannon studying her.

Agent Thomas rose. “Look. I’ve got nothing here that proves what you say. Nothing! I can’t go back to the bureau with a ….. feeling for Christ sake. Show me evidence.”

Shannon broke her stare form Jenny. “It’s all here Geoff. Look at it outside of an arsonist. Look at it like a hired assassin.”

His jaw worked. “A year…. You’re saying this guy lay like a sleeper for whole damn year?”

“Yes. Until he was told to move…. You and I both know there are people out there like this.”

Thomas wiped his hand back through his hair, trying to make sense of it. He turned his attention to Marcus. “Why are you so damn sure?”

“His things…. The way he lived. He was playing a role and it was so ingrained in him that I felt nothing except Barnes. Except for one thing. He was always waiting, time after time, day after day, waiting. He felt nothing when he bombed or set fire to something. Oh sure he enjoyed his work, but there was nothing there except accomplishments.”

Thomas looked at him astonished. “That’s it!?”

“He was a pawn agent Thomas. A pawn who did nothing for himself, a void. Someone so professional they ate, drank, slept in the role he was in. a pretender.”

“Say I believe that. What makes you think he’s done it before?”

“Because he didn’t blink when he tried to kill Shannon …. He didn’t hesitate at blowing himself up and this house. Your guy has major training.”

Shannon shifted. “A mercenary?”

Marcus slowly nodded. “Yea.”

No one knew what to say.

Thomas was struggling with believing any of this. He knew Jenny and Marcus had talents but how the hell did he put that down on paper. “Okay say it’s true, who hired him?” he looked around to each of them and he could tell none of them had a clue. “There are holes in everything you say you know?”

Shannon threw down the file she was holding. “There are holes because we can’t explain it. I for one think we’re never going to fully understand how he did it? But we can focus on finding out who he was working for? Why this was so important.”

Thomas shook his head. “What makes you think it’s so damn important?”

Shannon stepped forward. “Because he broke his timetable to come here and try and find out what Jenny knew. He felt threatened or more to the point the person who hired him felt threatened.”

Thomas looked at Jenny. “What do you…….. feel?” He felt uncomfortable just asking the question.

“The whole time I was around him I got the sense of his mission was the most important thing. He didn’t care one way or the other that he had to kill us, it wasn’t personal. He was annoyed at having to come here but that was it. The same when I visited the fires. The symbols were a ruse, the burial mounds, all of it he set to throw anyone who was working on it, just in case no one believed the fires. If you’re asking my opinion?”

Thomas nodded.

“Barnes is the key. So are the fires, they were a diversion for a reason. Somewhere between those is the connection to his next target.”

The room fell silent, until Jane’s voice broke it.

“Maybe it wasn’t Barnes he wanted, maybe it was the house. It’s not like he knew Barnes was going to get wounded in action and out of the marines. The house was up for lease, anyone could have rented it.” Jane moved one of the files around with her finger, suddenly she got the strangest feeling, when she looked up everyone was staring at her. “What?”

“Son of a bitch.” That hadn’t crossed Shannon ‘s mind once.

Jenny’s grin stretched. “oh Jane.”

Jane frowned. “Whattttttttt!?”

Marcus moved fast grabbing her into a hug. “You are a genius.”

The hug threw her, she found herself trying to remember what she’d said. Marcus finally put her down. “Um. Did I do it again?”

Marcus slapped her on the back. “Our super girl.”

Jane felt the blush.

Thomas was shaking his head. “Wait. We’ve already checked the house. There’s nothing in it or around it. It can’t be the house.”

Shannon moved to the corner pulling out one of the land maps. Rolling it out on the table, Jenny helped keep the edges down. “Maybe it’s not the house, maybe it’s the location.”

Thomas voice was curt. “Don’t you think we thought of that. There’s nothing in that area that is even mildly a threat. It’s residential. The nearest commercial property is ten miles away. The naval base and air base are on the other side of the keys. There’s no military around there.”

Shannon studied the map, finding the location of the house, she followed her eyes movement with a finger, tracing roads. “He isn’t a terrorist remember.”

Jenny was searching too. “He was all American he’d never install himself in a cause that harmed any American G.I.”

Thomas growled. “Tell that to Barnes.”

Jenny eyes snapped to him. “Barnes was an obstacle. His target would be something………” her words tailed off as she felt Shannon tense. Her eyes went to her. “What?”

“The John Pennekemp state park. His house is right on its border. In fact his back yard used to be part of it before the area was sold off fifty years ago for residential construction.”

Thomas looked down. “So?”

“They’ve just built a multimillion dollar resort in the park land. It’s taken them five years. They only just got planning permission for the main area. It began construction a year ago.”

Thomas brow frowned. “So what?”

“So you idiot there’s been huge protests that the park should be left alone. There’s even been talk that the government took a back payment to let the development go through, just like they did fifty years ago.” Shannon followed the edges of the boundaries in Barnes back yard.

Jenny’s eyes sparked. “The burial mounds, the main ones were found when construction began. Archeologists believe most of the mounds and sites were destroyed during the big redevelopment of the sixties.”

Marcus pushed past them, going to the computer, quickly calling up Google, he inputted what he wanted.

Shannon went to him. “What you got?”

Marcus grinned, turning. “The indigenous soil of John Pennekemp park is, chalk, sand, andddddddddddddddd.” He turned to face them, his grin widening. “Red clay………”

Thomas swallowed. “The same red clay you….. You know.”

Marcus nodded. “Ahuh the same red clay I felt with my ‘spooky powers.”’

Jane snorted at his use of finger quotes.

They all now stared at Thomas.

He inhaled. “I’m not seeing you’re point. So people are pissed that a bunch of trees got pulled down. So what if you sensed red clay, it would be in his back garden for Christ sake.”

Jenny wanted to slap him silly.

Bud who’d heard and seen the whole thing, thought biting him might work.

Jane swallowed, she saw the point. “It opens tomorrow there’s gonna be about two thousand people there. That enough reason to be worried?”

Thomas’s eyes nearly bulged out of his head. He didn’t say another word, he darted from the den into the living room.

They could all hear him on the com link yelling what they’d found.

Jenny sat back, she felt so damn tired. “Do you really think this is it?”

Shannon lent against the table. “Would explain a lot. Why he needed the house, why Barnes died. Why he came here, he had to find out if we knew of his plan, if he’d been compromised.”

“Dumb fuck. If he hadn’t come here we wouldn’t have any idea what was going on. I need a coffee.”

Marcus rose. “So do I.” He followed Jane from the room.

Shannon realized this was the first time in hours she’d been alone with Jenny. “Do you think it’s the target?”

Jenny had opened her sense to all of it. She exhaled tiredly. “Yes. You’re right it fits with too much not to be.”

Shannon needed something to do, she began to roll the map back up.

Jenny watched her. Her question was tentive. “Are you mad at me for some reason?”

Shannon ‘s hand stilled on the map. “Why would you think that?”

Jenny rose, moving to lean against the wall, she needed distances right now. “Well for one you’re answering everything with a question and for two you haven’t looked at me all night.”

Shannon finished rolling the map. “If you haven’t noticed I’ve been busy.”

Jenny tried not to let the flinch show at the tone used. “So? Are you?”

Shannon eyes darted to the door as Marcus passed. “This isn’t the time to talk about this Jenny. We need to get this case over and……” her eyes came up to Jenny. “…. Finished.”

Jenny studied her. “What Jane said isn’t true.” She could tell by Shannon face that she’d hit a nerve. “It isn’t.”

“That’s as maybe. But right…….”

Jenny felt it she’d lost her at least for the moment. She pushed away from the wall, she was only just holding on to the tears. “….now you need to concentrate on the case. Well when it’s over let me know. I’d like to know what the fuck is going on.” She stormed from the room, nearly colliding with Thomas as he came in.

He looked to Shannon in question.

Shannon just shook her head. “What’s happening?”

“They’re sending agents there now, bomb squad is going to go over the whole area. The ceremony will be called off. I hope to god you lot are right, because my ass is on the line right about now.”

Shannon eyes were still on the empty doorway. “We’re right.” Her eyes finally came to him. “This doesn’t tell us who hired him?”

He sat, holding his head in his hands, rubbing his neck. “You still think this is something bigger than him?”

“Yes.”

He looked at her then, really looked at her. he could see the exhaustion, he could even see little grimaces of pain flash over her face when she moved. The one thing he didn’t see was that any part of her thought she was wrong. “We may never know who Shannon ? We’ll follow the paper trail and eventually we’ll find the money trail if we’re lucky. But right now the most import thing is we stop his next bomb from going off.”

His answer was silence.

Jenny wiped at her face, she let the quiet and the silence from the beach help calm her. She tensed, looking over her shoulder, only to find Marcus watching her. She looked away. Great.

Marcus wanted to be anger, he’d actually worked up a great head of steam when he’d first flown out here, was already to tear into Jenny. But as soon as she’d seen her the anger had stuttered and faded. She’d looked awful, and it wasn’t just her appearance, there was something so changed in her that he wasn’t even sure he knew her anymore. Now, as he watched her alone and obviously crying, there wasn’t any other emotion inside him except concern. He stuffed his hands into his jean pockets, stepping down off the porch, moving closer to her, his eyes out to sea. “So. How was Paris ?”

She cried more then.

“That bad huh? Well I would have warned you, Paris isn’t for everyone.” He sneaked a look at her, seeing the misery on her face. He sighed, his eyes going to the stars. “I know you had your reason for vamoosing out of here and I’m pretty sure I know what all of them were. Can’t say I blame you. I wanted to run away a few times myself. It’s not every day I kill someone.”

Her eyes came slowly around, watching his profile, seeing him swallow.

“Oh I know you’re going to say it was him or us. But, well….” He kicked at the sand. “So what I’m saying is I understand.”

“I hurt you.”

He looked down at his feet.

“Tell me I didn’t?”

“What’s the point you know me well enough to know you did.” His eyes came up to her. “You hurt me more by ignoring me when you got back. Paris I can understand.”

Jenny hugged herself, she was so tired of screwing things up, right now she was convinced something had screwed Shannon and her up. Was it her? She realized with a sense of guilt she still wasn’t thinking of Marcus. “I’m sorry. I had everything planned you know. I was going to come back. Lay myself at Shannon ‘s feet and beg forgiveness….” Her eyes went to him. “Go to you explain everything…. It all went so to shit before I even blinked. I tried so hard to do this right…. I ended up still hurting you, Shannon. God…. When does it get any easier?”

He sighed. His jaw worked. “Did you screw Claire?”

The question made her step back, her face astonished. “What?”

He shrugged. “Simple enough question. You two were lovers, she dumped you, she saved you. Did you sleep with her?”

Her eyes steeled. “That’s none of your fucking business Marcus. Jesus.”

The question had even surprised him. After all this time he was still jealous. He swore at himself. “You’re right it isn’t. But it’s Shannon ‘s.”

Jenny thought about turning around and going right back in the house. “And it’s between me and her. I know you’re protecting her.”

He hissed. “Someone has too, you didn’t see what was left after you left.”

She hugged herself. “I felt it.”

His eyes studied her. “From Paris ?” He wasn’t sure he believed that one. He knew Jenny’s gift was still growing, in fact he wasn’t sure where her limits were going to end.

“Yes. It nearly drove me insane.” She looked at him. “But what happened with Claire, she was there as a friend. Shannon and I ……. Well…….. were working through stuff……” her voice trailed off.

“So you two are an item then?”

Jenny laughed, and it wasn’t a nice one. “Look Marcus. I’m sorry I didn’t contact you. I’m even sorrier for not doing it when I was back in the Keys, but if you think for one moment I’m going to just tell you everything you really are mistaken.” She took a long breath, seeing how much her words were hurting him. “Please just drop it. What’s going on with Shannon and I is so complicated, even I don’t know what’s going on half the time. But please…. Please for your own sake stay out of it.”

He tensed. “You threatening me Jen?”

“No…. I’m asking as a friend.”

His mouth twitched. He exhaled. “You’ve changed.”

“So I’ve been told. Is that good or bad?”

His face turned to her, this time his old smile was back. “Good. You’ve grown balls just like her.”

Jenny snorted. “I can’t assure you she hasn’t got any.” She flushed red.

He laughed deeply, turning quickly before she could say anything, and was pulled into his arms.

“I’ve missed you so much. Don’t go doing that again, okay?” His voice was hoarse.

She returned the hug. “I won’t. I am sorry.”

He squeezed, then he felt her tense, seeing she was looking over his shoulder, he looked.

Jane stood frozen at the door, the look in her eyes was enough to turn Jenny to stone.

Jenny gently pulled away, watching as the door was slammed shut. She looked at Marcus. “You know she’s falling in love with you.”

He exhaled noisily. “What do I know.”

She smiled, stroking his cheek. “Think you’d better do something about it before she finds out what an idiot you really are.”

He caught her hand, kissing the palm…. Then he laid a gentle kiss to her lips. “Welcome home.” He turned heading back into the house.

Jenny’s head turned sharply, she relaxed when she recognized the warmth. “How long have you been there?”

Shannon stepped out of the shadows. “Long enough to see Sir Galahad kiss you. Should I be worried?”

Jenny could tell she was half serious. She hated the fact Shannon was feeling this insecure. “No.”

“So you guys patch it up?”

“Yes I think so.” She hoped so.

Shannon found herself staring, she quickly looked away. Knowing she wasn’t going to like this one bit. “Thomas is going to fly out to the park. I’m going with him.”

Jenny eyes slipped closed. “Why? They can handle looking for the bomb? There’s no reason for you to go.”

“I want to see this finished.”

Jenny wanted to argue she really did, but she knew it would be a waste of breath, this was what Shannon did, she was going to have to get used to it and accept it if they had any future. Future? Did they? “I’ll come with you.”

“No!”

Jenny eyes flared. “So, it’s okay for you to walk into danger, but I’m to sit here and just wait?”

“You’re not going.” Shannon didn’t bother to wait for an answer, she just turned and headed back into the house.

“Of all the pig headed, stubborn….Right! I’ll show you stubborn.” Her jaw set, she moved back into the house aiming straight for Thomas.

“No.”

Jenny crossed her arms, staring right at agent Thomas, till the point she saw him squirm. “Why not? I can help. I might be able to tell where he went? What he did?”

“No.” Thomas shoved the files into his briefcase. “She told me you’d come and try this. And the answer is no.”

Jenny cursed Shannon under her breath. “Listen to me I can help!”

“I’m not taking the risk of putting a civilian on site. I have bomb crews, hell even the damn army and navy are helping sweep the place. I don’t need you’re…… you’re whatever it is. She told me you can’t sense by touch.”

Jenny glared. “I can help. I don’t need to touch. I can fucking sense where he’s been.”

Thomas finally turned. “Look. I know you want to help and I can’t thank you enough for the help you’ve given. I know we’d never have worked this out.” He pushed his face forward into hers. “….. but you are not going!” He turned back, snapping his briefcase shut, his eyes going to the door as he heard the helicopter approach. “Now if you excuse me I have work to do.” He paused looking back. “……And if you come anywhere near the park. I’ll have you arrested for your own good.”

Jenny really wanted to grab him and shake some sense into him. Instead she turned, slamming her hand into the sink. Her eyes shifted, finding Shannon watching her, she could see the sadness in her eyes, could feel the sorry. Shannon moved as if to talk to her, but instead she simple lifted her bag, turning to follow Thomas from the house.

Jane had seen the whole thing. “Jenny about what I said…. I honestly didn’t mean it. But you’ve got to understand she’s protecting you here. This isn’t about being stubborn and she isn’t going to just let you walk into danger if she can help it.”

Jenny wasn’t really listening.

Jane sighed. “Marcus is just as pissed as you are. He’s not allowed either and he’s not exactly happy I’m going.” She could still hear the argument in her head.

Jenny looked at her then. “Jane. What you saw….”

Jane held her hand up. “He explained it and well….” Her eyes went back to the guestroom where Marcus was. “…. We’re sorting things.” She gave Jenny a shy smile.

Jenny eyes shifted to the door, she heard the helicopter close now, she ran out.

Jane shook her head, following, knowing Jenny was wasting her time.

Jenny caught up to Shannon , grabbing her arm, turning her. “Promise me you’ll be careful.” The helicopter blades were close enough now to cast up sand and wind, throwing her hair in her face. “Promise me Shannon . No heroics. We’ve got things to sort out.”

Shannon pushed her hair out of her eyes, shielding them as the helicopter began to land, she could hardly hear Jenny.

Jenny grabbed her harder, shaking her. “PROMISE ME.”

“I PROMISE.”

Jenny pulled her closer, standing on tip toes, kissing her with all she had. Suddenly she jerked, her vision filled, her heart pounded.

Shannon moved away, her eyes going to Thomas who was waiting. Seeing Jane pause, before she stepped into the helicopter. “I’ve got to go.”

Jenny didn’t hear her, her senses were on overload, her blood was molten lava.

Shannon suddenly knew something was wrong. “Jen!”

Jenny jerked again, finally she let go of Shannon ‘s shirt, her sense returning, she backed away, her hand going to her mouth. “No. oh no.”

Shannon could see it in her eyes, just like she’d seen it before. She swallowed hard. She grabbed Jenny back to her, cursing the fact they could hardly hear each other. “Listen to me. That means nothing. You understand me. NOTHING!”

“RHIMES.”

Shannon turned to the yell, then back to Jenny. “I have to go….. Jenny it means nothing. I’m coming back.”

Jenny was still too stunned, frozen. Before she knew it Shannon had kissed her and was gone. When enough of herself came back it was too late, the helicopter was airborne.

“ Shannon !”

She ran trying to catch up to it, her brain ignoring the absurdity of it. She only stopped as she realized she was knee deep in the sea, finding it hard to keep her feet as the waves battered her, she watched until the lights of the helicopter became nothing more then moving dots. She turned and ran back to the house, knowing she was crying. “MARCUSSSSSSSSSS.”

….

Shannon had watched Jenny until she couldn’t see her anymore. She’d felt her anguish. She swallowed hard, finally turning away from the window. She didn’t want to think about what Jenny saw, but she felt the lead weight in her stomach at what it meant. Her eyes slipped closed, her head going back to rest on the seat. She couldn’t deal with this, knowing, knowing that Jenny had seen her hurt or worse again. Would it always be like this if they stayed together? That every day she went out on a case there was going to be a chance she’d get hurt? But that hadn’t changed, that was a day to day possibility. The difference was, could she take Jenny pre-knowing about it, or more to the point could Jenny? How long before it destroyed them.

Jane sat watching, wondering how someone like Shannon didn’t just break under the pressure. She knew she couldn’t take it.

Shannon felt the helicopter bank, her eyes went back out the window. The park below was illuminated with flood lights and moving smaller ones. It looked like a Christmas tree. Even in the distance of the trees, smaller torches swept, just like fireflies. She exhaled heavily twice, squaring her shoulders, pushing her hair up into a tight ponytail, pulling on the FBI jacket Thomas had given her, clipping her detective badge in plain view, the last was checking her gun. She sat forward, waiting, when the helicopter finally landed; she was out of the helicopter before Thomas.

….

Marcus wasn’t sure what the hell had happened, he’d run out when he’d heard his named screamed, only to have Jenny barrel into him crying and talking so fast he couldn’t make out one damn word. He’d grabbed her then, forcibly pulling her to house and the couch, making her sit; he went and grabbed a brandy, making her drink it.

He now sat next to her, rubbing her hands, wondering how the hell they could be so cold in this heat. “Jen?”

Jenny stuttered a breath, closing her eyes as the image of destruction washed over her, she brought the glass to her lips, well aware it was shaking, she cupped her other hand around it, so she could drink.

Marcus shifted closer, noticing that Bud had joined him in trying to get some heat into her. “Jen? What’s going on?”

Jenny breathed out the brandy, feeling the burn in her mouth, taking her breath away for a moment. She composed herself enough to control her vision.

Marcus wasn’t ready for the look in her eyes when they came around to him. “Christ. What’s wrong?”

In answer Jenny reached across taking his hand, concentrating.

He frowned, then he realized what she was doing, his eyes widened, he jerked as her vision transferred to him. He tore his hand away stumbling up. He was trembling now. “Oh god. Not again.”

Jenny slowly nodded, just keeping control of her tears.

Marcus grabbed the glass out of her hands, downing what was left of the brandy, spluttering as it hit his throat, feeling dizzy for a moment he sat. “Jesus.”

“We’ve got to do something Marcus?”

“Yea?” he was still shocked by what he saw, it looked like the world was on fire. “Is Shannon in that?”

Jenny shook her head. “I sense her close to it, but……” her brow furrowed. “I…. Oh god Marcus I don’t know.”

He hugged her as she leant into him. “What about Jane?”

Her eyes came up to him, she saw it then, he was falling in love with her too. “You saw what I saw.”

Marcus exhaled. “We’ve got to do something.” He looked down sharply. “And don’t give me that bullshit that we can’t do anything because it’s now written in the destiny of the essence.”

“I wasn’t wrong before.” Her voice was small.

He pulled her away from him. “Jenny. We can’t just sit here and do nothing?”

She shoved his hands away. “What do you expect me to do? We’ll never get there in time.”

Marcus rose. “Oh yes we will.” He pulled a card out of his back pocket, already flipping open his cell. He dialed. “Yea hi….. Mac its Marcus…” He flushed. “…… yea spider man……. You busy? We need a ride.”

Suddenly Jenny felt a spark of hope.

….

Shannon and Jane stood waiting. Thomas had disappeared over twenty minutes ago, telling them to wait. But Shannon was getting tired of waiting. Her eyes took in the scene around; generators had been set up to power the huge floodlights which lined the area around the main complex. The whole place was a hive of movement; she recognized army uniforms and navy mixing into FBI illuminated jackets.

Jane shifted uneasily. “What exactly are we waiting here for?”

Shannon shifted her gaze to the large van, knowing it was the control centre. “They’re wondering what to do with us?” She watched a remote bomb disposal robot heading into the main building.

Jane was watching too. “They haven’t got a single clue where to start have they?”

Shannon didn’t answer, her mind was going over everything, ever clue, every scrap of paper they’d been over.

Jane’s twisted around when she heard another FBI surveillance team van turn up. The doors opened and at least thirty agents hurried out. “Well they aren’t short of man power, must be over three hundred going over this place. They all look like headless chickens.”

“Yea. Come on.”

Jane started. “Huh?”

Shannon grabbed the edge of Jane’s jacket, pulling. “Come on. He wasn’t stupid. He’d have known if he was discovered they’d go over this place with a fine tooth comb.”

Jane shrugged her arm free, but she followed. “And where exactly are we going?” she looked around nervously. Thankful that everyone was much too busy to notice them duck under the cordon tape and head away from the main building towards the smaller buildings.

Shannon wasn’t sure where she was going, she was running on instinct, trusting those feelings that had never let her down before.

Jane’s eyes widened as Shannon grabbed a torch from an open FBI trunk. “Ah hell.” She grabbed one for herself and followed.

….

“So let me get this straight? A mad man who took over someone’s life, has planted a bomb somewhere in the park and the FBI and every law enforcement in the county, not forgetting the army and navy are now going over the place and you want me….” Mac pointed to herself. “….. To fly in now restricted air space and land you’re asses down there?” Mac looked to the two passengers sitting in the back, both of them nodded. She stared at them, her face broke into a grin. “Alrighty then. Just making sure.” She turned back. “I must admit being around you guys makes my life so boring….” She checked her heading, banking the helicopter to the east.

Marcus snorted. “You have no idea.”

Jenny wasn’t listening she was stroking Bud, trying her hardest to not start crying again. She couldn’t get rid of the images flashing. She switched her mind to the case. Trying to figure out anything that could help…. Barnes…. The house… Her head snapped up. “The house.”

Marcus looked at her. “The house?”

Jenny lent forward taping Mac on the shoulder. “We need to go to his house, the land behind it, its part of the park.” Jenny grabbed the clipboard in between the pilot seat, she quickly wrote down the map reference. “Here.”

Mac looked down at the piece of paper, nodding. “Is it clear enough at the back for me to land?”

“I think so.” She was going from memory.

Mac readjusted her heading.

Jenny sat back, grabbing Bud to her, needing his strength, his warmth. She felt Marcus take her hand, she squeezed it.

“We’ll be in time Jen.”

Jenny hoped to god they were.

Shannon shone the torch in the building, she ducked sweeping the flash light underneath. She could see Jane doing the same. She straightened swearing, knocking the light against her leg, grimacing when it hit the bandage. “This isn’t going to work. The damn thing could be staring us in the face and we wouldn’t know.”

Jane wiped her hand clean. “We need the sniffer dogs down here, only way.”

“Yea.” Shannon ‘s eyes were staring at the woods. “Tell me Jane why is the house so important?”

Jane shrugged. “Close proximity. He probably could just walk out his back door straight into the park. No guards. Although it’s not as if the whole place is policed anyway.”

“And no one would take any notice of someone just walking around.”

“Nope it’s open park land.”

“Yea.” She turned to look right at Jane. “So why the hell did he need the house? He could have just driven up here day after day…. He’s a chameleon it wouldn’t have taken much too just integrate into the building work.”

Jane could see where Shannon was going. “The answers near the house?”

“Let’s find out.” She looked around taking her bearings. “This way.”

Jane had no clue how Shannon knew which way to go, all she saw was trees and darkness, but she followed.

Mac eased back on the stick, her head turned, looking out her window and back, checking the distance from the trees to her rear rotor, she increased power slightly as a gust of wind blew her a little too close. She held her breath as she eased her baby down. They landed with thud. She exhaled, already powering down. “Sorry about that. Little tight there.”

Jenny didn’t hear she’d already opened the door and let Bud out and was quickly following.

Marcus squeezed Mac’s shoulder. “Thank you.”

Mac pulled off her headphones. “Hell! I ain’t leaving.”

He shook his head, stepping down from the helicopter.

Jenny looked around, they were above the house and too the back, she was impressed by Mac’s flying, the trees on either side made it look like nothing could have gotten through. She called Bud back, clipping his lead on, she didn’t need him running off right now.

Marcus stepped up next to her, looking around. “Where do we start?”

Jenny pointed back down the hill. “That’s his house the one near the street light.”

Marcus nodded, he turned completely around looking at the full area. “Jen. I hate to tell you this, there’s nothing here.”

“Yes there is.”

“Why do you believe that so much?”

She looked right at him. “Because he killed to live here.”

Mac came up, clicking on the torch. She nodded up the hill. “That must be the complex.”

They both followed her gaze, seeing the hue of lights dome on the tree line.

“How far do you think it is?” Jenny looked back at the house.

Mac judged the distance. “I’d say about a mile, not much more.” When she turned back Jenny was heading down the hill with Marcus following she scrambled to catch up.

Jenny stopped at the bottom, she could make out in the darkness the fence boundary of Barnes property. Marcus moved passed her, she grabbed his arm. “No not that way. He wasn’t stupid enough for it to be near the house.” She looked back up the gully in the other direction. Her eyes screamed as torch light hit her. She brought her hand up. “Shit. Get that out of my face.”

Mac slipped down the last of the incline, quickly pointing the light away. “Sorry. I’ll go first, so we can see.”

Jenny pushed her gently back. “I don’t need light to see.”

Mac eyebrows rose, looking to Marcus who was smirking. “More spooky spider man shit.”

Marcus passed her. “Nope. Her eyes see better in the dark.”

“Ah cat woman shit.” Marcus shook her head following, using to torch to make sure she didn’t fall on her ass. “We’re turning into the freaking X Men.”

Shannon slipped down the embankment, catching a branch to slow her slide. She grimaced as pain laced up her leg. She saw Jane having the same problem descending. The cyclone had turned the normally dry earth into a sodden wet slippery slope, it was hard work going over the area. Her leg hurt like a son of bitch, she was trying to keep most of the weight off it, she cursed herself for being too stubborn to bring the cane. She took a breather waiting for Jane to catch up, when she did they both stood drawing in air.

Jane straightened, trying to ease the ache in her muscles from hanging on for dear life so many times she couldn’t remember. “I hate to say this boss but this is a waste of time.”

Shannon wiped the sweat from her forehead, eyes already searching, her head tilted. “You hear that?”

Jane searched around, straining her hearing. “Crickets?”

“No. Water.” Shannon pulled herself up by a branch and started down the rest of the drop, already running to keep from losing her footing.

Jenny stilled. The other two behind stopped. Bud looked up at her waiting, licking his lips.

Marcus suddenly shivered, he looked around trying to figure out what had spooked him, his eyes finally came down to his feet, he crouched, running his fingers over the soil. “Jenny.”

Jenny looked back at him. He held up his hand. Mac shone her torch on it, it was red.

“Red clay.” Jenny opened her sense, breathing in the air around, searching, there, right there, her eyes opened. “This way.”

Shannon just managed to stop herself going over the edge of the bank as it suddenly fell away, she grabbed Jane as she tumbled passed, pulling her straight.

Jane swallowed, looking down into the dark abyss. “Christ. Thanks. What the hell is that?”

Shannon was already on the move again going around the edge, trying to find a way down, she shone her torch, the water was a tempest, carrying away all the rain floodwater from the hills and park. She looked up. “Storm drain.”

Jenny stopped, hearing Mac and Marcus trying to catch up. She lifted her head, following the bank above, there was no way to climb it. She walked slower, she reached up, pulling at the hanging foliage, pulling until it tore away from the clay soil.

Marcus broke free of the trees, stopping, following Jenny’s gaze. A four foot grating stood in front of her, it looked like it had been carved out of the embankments solid stone. He moved to it, moving his hand over the bars. He swallowed. “Jen.”

“I know.”

Mac arrived, looking to each of them. “Know what?”

“He came this way and he went in there.”

Mac shivered, suddenly wondering why she felt cold when the heat tonight was already soaking her shirt. “This guy is dead right? He isn’t going to jump us when we go in there?”

Jenny moved to the grate, surprised when Bud pulled her back. She handed the lead to Marcus, ignoring his warnings. She moved closer to the grating. Looking it over, she felt along the edges, suddenly her hand felt something that didn’t belong, on closer inspection it was a deadbolt and it was shiny new. She looked over her shoulder. Without answering any of the questions she saw in their eyes, she turned back and pulled the bolt back.

“Wait…….”

She jumped, looking back at Marcus, the bolt already pulled back. “What? Jesus.”

“He could have booby trapped it. Jen we should be calling someone.”

“Then go call.” She gritted her teeth as she yanked on the grating, it moved with more ease then she thought, but the creak it made still made her wince as it echoed around them.

Mac shifted. “Look you guys if there is a bomb in there I for one have no clue what the fuck to do. Spiderman is right, we need the FEDS.”

Jenny took Bud’s lead back. “Then go tell them. Barnes’s house is that way.” She turned quickly, heading into the drain tunnel.

Marcus grabbed Mac’s jacket. “Go back get them here now!” He pulled the torch from her hand and headed into the tunnel after Jenny.

“Well shit. How am I supposed to see? I ain’t cat woman.” With a grumble Mac made her way back the way they’d just came.

Shannon ‘s hand felt like it was on fire, no matter how she tried, she had to use it to help climb down the walls of the storm drain. She grabbed a root, wincing as it dug in, using it like a vine. She could hear Jane’s cursing above her, she couldn’t see now the torch was firmly in her back pocket. She could just see the water below, no more than a couple feet, she had to stop as her wounded leg started to cramp.

“You okay?” Jane haltered her process.

“I can’t see a way down from here.” Shannon boot slipped, she just managed to regain her footing, she dug her toes in to the small crack she’d found, her arms felt like dead weights. “Jane.”

“Yea?”

“Go back. See if you can find another way around.”

“Me? What about you? What the hell you gonna do?” Jane tried to see through the darkness but could only make out the outline of Shannon .

“I’m gonna see where this goes.” Shannon took a deep breath, loosening the root from around her hand.

“How the fu……….” Jane words stuttered to a halt as she suddenly saw the outline push away from the wall and head straight down. “ Shannon !”

Shannon hoped to god the water was as deep as she thought, she twisted aiming her back, closing her eyes. The impact was intense, expelling the air from her lungs, the water cold as she went under. Just as her lungs were about to give up and inhale, she felt dirt, she quickly kicked down, feeling the contact and felt herself aiming back upwards again.

“ Shannon ! God damn it if you’re dead again I’m going to kill you.” Jane twisted, trying to see, suddenly a torch light hit her right in the eyes, she brought her hand up. “ Shannon ?”

“Yea.” Shannon coughed up more water, she was holding on to the side of the storm drain, her feet safely on an overhang.

“Fuck. That was the stupidest thing you’ve ever done. Hold on I’m coming down.”

“NO! I need you to go back around.”

Jane muttered under her breath, trying to find an easier way down other than a leap of faith.

“I mean it Jane. I need you to head downstream, I’m going up. We can cover both ends.”

Gritting her teeth, not liking it at all Jane began to pull herself up, she scrambled over the top, turning to look down. “If I don’t find anything within half an hour. I’m coming to find you.”

Shannon yelled up. “Deal!” she aimed the torch light ahead of her, trying to keep to the edge as much as possible as she moved against the flow of water.

Jane watched the movement of the light for a moment, then cursing again, she headed the opposite way.

….

Jenny jumped as Bud let out a bark, it echoed off the walls to the point even he cringed. Marcus shone the light in the direction Bud was looking. They all three shivered as a rat ran for cover.

“Jen. Do you think this is such a good idea?” He ducked as the ceiling of the tunnel dipped.

“Yes.” She took the torch from him, shining it down a smaller tunnel to the east, sweeping the light around, to another tunnel which headed straight ahead, she could make out something just out of view. She pulled on Bud’s lead, heading to it. As the light became clearer she could see what it was now, a large secure covering, with a wheel on top of it, she could hear the water running below.

Marcus stopped next to her. “That must be the main storm drain down there. You know it probably leads right up to the damn complex.”

Jenny opened her senses, she placed her hand on Marcus’s arm as he was about to turn the wheel to open the cover. “No. he wouldn’t have made it that easy. The feds are going to be all over places like this…..” She shone the torch back up the tunnel to the smaller entrance that led east.

….

Shannon coughed up dirty water, spitting whatever the hell it was that had just found its way into her mouth, she really didn’t want to think about what is was for too long. She slipped again but this time her foot found a level bottom, now wading in the middle of the drain, the currant was strong but manageable. She pushed the hair off her face, narrowing her eyes at something the light picked up, a higher storm drain was about two foot above her. Pushing off she headed for it, grabbing the edges she pulled herself up, glad to be out of the water, shining the torch up the tunnel she followed where ever it might lead.

….

Marcus looked at the walls as they walked further down the smaller tunnel. “Jen this place isn’t a storm tunnel.”

Jenny kept walking, shining the light around as they descended; they’d been following it now for over ten minutes. “No. I think it’s an old work tunnel. I’ve heard of them being used, they run an identical tunnel along the one there working, that way if there’ s any flooding or cave ins, they have a back up.” She suddenly stopped, she felt the whisper down her spine.

Marcus just managed to stop in time. “What?”

“He’s been here.”

Marcus closed his eyes, placing his hand on the walls. He felt it too. “Yea.”

Bud sniffed, he didn’t like what he smelt, but there was something familiar about it, he sniffed again, moving forward, tugging on his lead.

Marcus saw it. “Jen let him go.”

Jenny stooped unclicking the lead, but before she could do anything Bud took off down the tunnel. Jenny immediately took off after him, Marcus followed her. They moved as quickly as they could, Jenny kept losing sight of Bud as he turned corners, they reached a fork in the tunnel, but Bud was already out of sight down the left one. They had no option but to follow. Another branch came. Jenny had no idea how deep they were going and she’d lost all sense of direction. She caught movement, seeing it was Bud. “Bud. Wait!”

He ignored her following the smell. Finally the tunnel opened out. This time when Jenny skidded to a halt, Marcus didn’t have time to stop, he barreled into her back, falling to his knees in a pile. Jenny just managed to keep her footing.

Marcus swore. “What the hell.” He stopped, seeing the look on Jenny’s face made him look up and passed her. His mouth fell open too. “Mother of God.” He got the sudden urge to cross himself.

Jenny eyes went to every wall, every wall that had C4 attached to it, it looked like an elaborate spider web, a web which had a least a twenty flashing red lighted flies. Her eyes found Bud, she quickly went to him, pulling him away from the wall, going back to where Marcus still knelt stunned. She clipped Bud’s lead back on. “He went right too it….”

Marcus finally pulled his eyes away from the nightmare. “He’s trained too Jen. Part of his training was explosives.”

Bud sneezed.

Which made both of them jump.

Marcus slowly tore his eyes away, looking at Jenny. “What the fuck do we do?”

Jenny swallowed, she didn’t have any idea at all.

….

Shannon now was stooped as she made her way along the tunnel, cursing as occasionally something snagged her hair. Finally after what seemed like an eternity the tunnel widened, she could hear water again, this time it sounded like Niagara Falls . She reached the end, exhaling as she found herself right on the edge looking down into another tempest. This time there were metal ruts leading down, putting the torch in her teeth she turned and slowly made her way down. She almost yelped when freezing cold water covered her to the waist as she stepped off the last rut. Shining the torch left then right, she decided to follow the way against the currant. She began wading.

After another ten minutes she had to stop, dead-end. She twisted, sweeping the light back the way she came. She hadn’t seen any other way, but the water had to be coming from somewhere. Slowly she shone the torch down the wall, under the water, she could just make out a darker piece of the wall, dipping she felt along it. There was an outlet there with a closed sluice, but it was much too small for her to go through without opening it. She shone the light back down and around, she moved back a little, she was trying to make out what the hell that was on the far walls. As she neared she could see, two large steel doors lined the sides of the tunnel, she could make out the mechanism on each side holding them open. Her eyes caught something above, shining the torch up, a hatch. Quickly she scanned the wall, finding the iron ruts that led up to it. She swam to them and started up.

….

Jenny was biting her lower lip, still staring at the nightmare in front of them. “How long do you think we’ve been walking?”

Marcus looked over, he’d been trying to see if there was any main control, so far he’d found nothing, they all seemed to be individually set up. “About thirty minutes. Why?”

Jenny looked back up the tunnel behind them. “And we’ve kept pretty much due east?”

He frowned. “Yea.”

Jenny’s head slowly tilted back, till the point she was staring at the domed earth roof. “I think we’re right underneath the whole complex.”

Marcus’s eyes shot wide, then up.

Jenny suddenly froze, she stepped forward, her senses searching. She could feel it, feel her. Her head shot around, staring back up the way they’d just come. “ Shannon .” Her voice was a whisper.

Bud’s ears perked.

Marcus however was trying not to run screaming. “Jen.” When he got no answer, he repeated but this time he let the terror show in his voice. “Jenny!”

The yell broke her concentration. “What!?”

Marcus stepped back, pointing.

Jenny could feel his terror now, she moved to him quickly, her gaze following his finger. A display, with numbers, 51:24 and changing every second to a lower number, a countdown, sat nestled in a corner. They looked at each other, both seeing the fear in each other’s eyes. Both thinking the same thing, they turned and ran.

….

With a grunt Shannon pushed up on the hatch with all her strength, finally it gave and with a last heave she sent it open, the clang of it making her ears ring. She threw the torch through first, then levered herself up enough to get a hand hold and haul her ass the rest of the way. She just lay on the dirt, gulping breaths. She suddenly sat up, her whole body on alert, reaching for her gun, moving onto her knees, she waited.

Jenny took the last bend, trusting Bud judgment to get them out of there, she rounded a corner, suddenly her senses peaked. She increased her speed.

Shannon leveled the gun, she felt the hairs go up on her arm. She could hear running feet now. She rose, keeping the gun out, not trusting what she was feeling, because it couldn’t be possible.

Jenny cleared the tunnel, only to find herself with a face full of gun. She skidded to a halt.

Shannon immediately pulled the gun away. Staring open mouthed, her brain trying to register that it was Jenny. The anger kicked in. “What the fuck are you doing here?”

Jenny just breathed, trying to catch her breath. She was torn between wanting to hug her and slap her silly for sticking a gun in her face. “We….. found …… it.”

Shannon arm came up again as she heard another approach. Jenny gently put her hand on it, pushing it down. “It’s Marcus.”

Shannon threw her arms to the heavens. “Of course it is. Why wouldn’t it be…. You’re supposed to be on the island? How the hell you get here?”

Jenny took a long breath. “We haven’t got time for this. It’s there Shannon .”

Marcus bent over catching her breath. “There’s enough C4 down there to blow a damn town up, it’s everywhere.”

Shannon made to move down the tunnel, only to have both Marcus and Jenny grab her.

“You can’t do anything. We have to get them evacuated Shannon . There’s a timer and it’s at…..” Marcus looked at his watch, he’d set his stop watch. “We’ve got less than forty minutes.”

Shannon looked to each of them, seeing they were telling the truth, she knew she couldn’t defuse C4. “There’s not enough time to warn them.” she holstered her gun, thinking.

Jenny caught her arm again pulling. “WE have to leave.”

Shannon pulled away. “We can’t just let it explode.”

Marcus this time grabbed her. “We can’t do anything.” He shoved her towards the exit tunnel. “Now stop being a fucking hero and let’s get out of here.”

Shannon regained her balance, when he made to grab at her again she slapped his hands away.

Jenny had had enough. “Stop it!” she turned to Shannon . “He’s not lying.”

Shannon jaw worked, her eyes going down the east tunnel.

Jenny grabbed her hand. “ Shannon you can’t stop it. We have to try and warn them…….. please………please.”

Shannon gave a curt nod, she hated running away, but she wasn’t going to risk Jenny’s life. She turning, running, pulling on Jenny’s hand to follow.

Now all four took off in a run, for their lives.

Shannon slowed, her head turning to look back. Suddenly she thought of something. “You two keep going.” She changed direction, letting go of Jenny’s hand.

Jenny skidded to a halt. “What?”

Marcus grabbed Jenny. “Come on.”

Jenny pulled away. “I’m not leaving her. Not again.” She twisted out of his hands, turning and with Bud headed right back after Shannon .

Marcus looked back up the tunnel to the exit, then back to where the other two had gone. “God damn it!” he followed.

Shannon ran flat out, ducking under the roots that hung down, only stopping when she reached the hatch. She started to climb down into it, a pair of hands suddenly pulled her back up. She came face to face with a very angry Jenny.

“What the hell are you doing?” Jenny wouldn’t let go.

Shannon had no choice but to move back up. “Listen to me. There are flood doors down there, they must be from when they built the main tunnels to hold back the water, so they could build the lower ones.”

Jenny peaked over the edge. “So?”

“There’s also a sluice gate, it’s holding back most of the storm water. If I shut the doors and open the sluice….”

Jenny’s eyes sparked. “You want to flood the tunnels!?”

“Yes. The water will automatically go down the tunnel with the explosives, it runs downwards. Once the water floods in there maybe, just maybe it will contain the explosion enough to not destroy the whole complex.” Shannon searched Jenny’s eyes, seeing she was thinking it through, but she wasn’t yet convinced. “Jenny. We have to try something.”

Marcus drew up to them, taking deep breaths. He’d heard some of it. “C4 isn’t affected by water.”

Shannon shot him a look. “I know that, but water is denser, it’s going to have some effect.” She looked at her watch. “We’re running out of time.” She grabbed Jenny’s hand squeezing it. “I have to try something….” She searched her eyes for understanding.

Jenny inhaled. “Okay. But I’m helping. I’ll get the sluice, you get the doors.”

Shannon would have preferred Jenny running in the opposite direction, but she’d take a small mercy. “Done.”

They both grinned.

Marcus rolled his eyes. “Sometimes I wonder which of you two is the insane one.”

Shannon stretched up, quickly kissing Jenny on the lips, before she started down the iron ruts.

Jenny’s fingertips went to her lips, by the way Marcus was smirking at her, she knew she had a dopey look on her face. She stuck her tongue at him. “Just wait till I find you and Jane kissing.” She handed Bud’s lead to him. Then lifted a leg and shuffled down onto the first rut.

He blushed.

Jenny inhaled so sharply she thought her lungs were going to cease up, the water was freezing. “How in the hell ca…can it be this cold?”

Shannon swam to the first door, pulling herself up onto the ledge. “It’s mostly underground water….There.” she pointed. “The sluice is off to the side, the handle is just next to it.”

Jenny used the torch to find it. “Got it.” Gritting her teeth she swam to it, finding a foothold.

“Wait. Don’t open it till I’ve got these doors closed.”

Jenny shone her light across to aid Shannon , watching as she jumped across the gap and hung onto the door itself.

Shannon eased herself along till she could reach the first mechanism, she stretched across grabbing it, pulling. It groaned but didn’t Budge, she hoped to god it wasn’t rusted shut, she shuffled a little closer, trying not to lose her balance, holding on with her left hand, she tried again with her right, gritting her teeth, her arm muscles bulged, then with a groan and creak the handle slowly moved towards her, she felt the door shift, she pumped it back and forwards, working the mechanism, finally the first door began to inch closed.

With a clank the door locked into place. Shannon relaxed her forehead against the steel, trying to ease the ache in every muscle.

“ Shannon ?” Jenny’s voice was filled with concern.

“I’m okay…. Now number two.” She shuffled along the first door, using one of the struts as a ledge, when she reached the edge, she stretched her arm across, fingers just touching the second door, finally she got a hold, and made the leap across, grabbing on to anything, she slipped, biting her lip as she jarred her leg hard against the steel, feeling something dig deep, pain screamed at her.

Jenny moved forward.

“No! I’m okay.” Fighting the dizziness, she gulped air, feeling cold sweat start on her neck. She felt something warm on her leg and wasn’t surprised when she looked down to discover dark blood leaking down, dripping off her boot, she cursed. She didn’t have time for this.

Jenny watched every movement with her heart in her mouth, she could feel Shannon ‘s pain now, but she didn’t want to shut it out, she needed that connection, a connection that told her she was still alive.

Shannon felt ready, she repeat the process of reaching the handle, this time getting a better grip, she started working it, this one wasn’t as stubborn, the second door slowly began to close on the currant. With a deep groan of steel under stress, it slammed shut.

Shannon looked at the water level, even with just the outlet open, the cavern was filling up fast. She started back along the door, towards the iron ruts. “Jenny now!”

Jenny gritted her teeth, putting her whole weight behind her, she pulled on the lever, it groaned and hissed and slowly started to open the larger sluice.

Shannon made it to the ruts, her hand out. “Come on.”

Jenny didn’t listen she wanted the sluice fully open, finally she knew she’d done it when a rush of water nearly took her off her feet, she let go, turning to head towards Shannon. A gush of water suddenly pulled her under, her knee slammed into the floor, something smashed into her shoulder, she screamed, immediately water entered her mouth and lungs.

Shannon yelled, holding on to the iron rut with her good hand, she reached out, snagging Jenny’s belt as she started to surge passed, she pulled, feeling her shoulders pop at the extra weight, she pulled harder. “Jenny!”

Jenny could feel it inside her now, fear, deep tendrils of fear, but as blackness came to take her, she realized it wasn’t hers, Shannon was scared. From somewhere she found life, fighting against the darkness she pushed upward, grabbing onto the arm.

Shannon nearly let go in fright. Then she pulled, pulled till she yelled in pain, suddenly Jenny was in her arms. She felt arms go around her neck, in a vice.

Jenny coughed, ridding her lungs of water. She blinked and found herself staring at the most beautiful blue eyes. “Hi.” She coughed again.

Shannon answer was to wrap her free arm around the blonde tighter and bury her face in her neck. Shannon pulled away, looking down the water was already up to their waists. She pushed at Jenny. “Up. Up!”

Jenny found herself pushed upwards by a foot, if she’d had more time she would have been in awe at Shannon’s strength, but right now she had to concentrate on holding onto the ruts and climbing as fast as she could, feeling Shannon hot on her tail.

Marcus reached down, grabbing Jenny’s hand as it came into reach, hauling her free from the hatchway. Immediately Jenny fell to her knees gulping air.

Shannon came next, the water already just below the hatch, she took Marcus’s hand using it to help her through the last foot.

They didn’t have time to exchange pleasantries as water began to churn and bubble its way over the lip of the hatch.

Marcus bent, grabbing Jenny around the waist pulling her up. “Now can we run?”

Shannon answered for her, grabbing Jenny’s hand and starting down the exit tunnel as fast as she could.

Marcus bent undoing Bud. “Go.”

Bud woofed and took off after his friends.

Marcus looked at his feet the water was already at the ankle, with nothing else to do, he started down the exit tunnel.

They ran, ran for everything they were worth, not caring about the roots that scratched their faces, ran until they didn’t think they could run anymore, but they did.

The water followed the tunnel way, the law of gravity making it take the descending side tunnel, it whirled and rushed following it like a twisting hissing snake. Reaching the dead end with the explosives the water level began to rise, fast.

Jenny stumbled only to find herself hauled to her feet again before she could hit the ground. She managed to give Shannon a grin before they were off running again.

Shannon was finding it harder and harder to keep up the pace, her left leg now was losing its strength, her jeans were soaked with blood, she started to limp badly. She finally had to stop.

Jenny noticed, slowing her pace, going back beside Shannon , putting her arm around her waist, helping her. Seeing the blood stained leg she tore a huge piece of her shirt, bending to wrap it tight. Her eyes widened as she now made out how badly Shannon ‘s leg was bleeding. She pulled off her belt, quickly putting around the top of Shannon’s thigh, securing it as tight as she could, wincing when she felt Shannon flinch.

Marcus stopped to help. Shannon shook her head at him. “No. Keep going.” The blood loss was starting to make her woozy.

He was uncertain.

Jenny grabbed his hand. “Marcus you need to warn them. We’ll be right behind you. Okay?”

He looked at Shannon , then nodded, taking off down the tunnel.

Jenny shifted closer to Shannon helping her walk.

“You should go too?”

Jenny’s answer was to just glare.

Shannon swallowed, this was hard, too hard, she wanted Jenny near, but she really didn’t want her here when the whole place exploded, she had a rough idea of what would happen to the water backed up. “Jen. Please.”

“Do you really think I’m going to leave you? Do you? Are you that stupid?” Translucent eyes shone out in the darkness.

Shannon couldn’t help it she smiled. Jenny was so sexy wet and angry, she decided to file that away for later use. If there was a later, she wondered if this was what Jenny had seen. She swallowed, forcing her smile back, seeing the concern and fear and feeling it coming off the psychic. “No. I’m not that stupid.” Her thumb brushed across Jenny’s cheek.

Jenny eye’s fluttered, she leant into touch, before pulling away. “Good. Now shut up and walk.”

Shannon let her help, trying as best as she could, at best she managed an inadequate hobble.

….

The timer was underwater, the red display distorted by the liquid. 09:02 shone out. The water now had covered all of the explosives, but still there lights shone bright.

….

Marcus broke free of the tunnel so fast he skidded and found himself face down in the dirt, he didn’t slow, he rose, looking back before heading down to Barnes house.

….

Shannon stumbled again, Jenny was the only thing keeping her up. “Jen.”

“Shut up. Just keep going.”

“Jen.”

Finally Jen looked up, the blue eyes were open again to her, she could see into her soul, and god it was beautiful. Jenny felt the tears start. Her voice croaked. “I said shut up.”

Shannon smiled, feeling the exchange of warmth between them, she tightened her arm around Jenny’s shoulder gritting her teeth as they both increased their pace.

….

06:00

….

Marcus ignored Mac as he stormed into the house, grabbing the nearest FBI Agent so quickly he didn’t have time to react. “There’s a bomb under the complex….” She grabbed the agent by the shirt pulling him forward into his face. “GET THEM OUT NOW!”

….

Bud kept stopping, looking back, he knew his friend was hurt, but he wished they would move faster. He ran back, pawing at them.

“I know…. I know. Go Bud!” Jenny pushed him away.

He didn’t, he stayed right by them, keeping pace with them as they now did more than stumble.

Shannon looked down at her watch, they weren’t going to make it, she increased her grip around Jenny. As if sensing it Jenny did the same.

….

Marcus tore out of the house, running for all he was worth back up towards the grating.

….

03:00

….

Agent Thomas had sent the alert out, all personally were now moving as fast as they could away from the buildings. But he knew they didn’t have enough time.

….

Shannon squinted unsure. “Jen is that light?”

Jenny looked up, her face full of sweat. “Yes.”

Bud barked.

They increased their speed, using whatever was left of their reserves.

….

Marcus slipped and skidded up the embankment, his head clearing the top of it, he saw the grate.

….

01:00

….

Shannon now was running on instinct she could barely see, she could feel the numbness spreading, she felt Jenny’s fingers dig into her. She knew she was in trouble, the blood loss was getting too much, her heart bounded, her skin felt clammy, she fought a wave of blackness.

Jenny was terrified, she could feel the coldness coming from Shannon . “Don’t you fucking dare do this to me again.” She shook her.

Shannon filled her lungs with air, willing them to keep working, she stumbled, but Jenny pulled her straight again.

Jenny was panicked now. “Please…. Please keep going. We’re nearly there.” She moved Shannon ‘s head so she could see the light from the exit. “Please.”

Shannon pulled herself straight, throwing her arm around Jenny’s shoulders, she kept her leg off the floor, feeling her boot fill with blood. This was bad….

Jenny struggled, her lungs screamed for more air. They stumbled and it took everything she had to pull them both right again. Her back ached, the shoulder she’d hit was screaming pain at every moment jarring movement, but still she didn’t let go.

This time when Shannon stumbled, her weight pulled both of them to the ground. Her eye’s fluttered shut.

Bud yelped, running back, nipping at Shannon ‘s shirt, grabbing it and pulling.

Jenny was crying now, trying to lift Shannon up. “GOD DAMN YOU. YOU PROMISED.” Déjà vu hit her so hard she gasped.

….

00:10

….

Marcus reached the grate, making out the pair of them, he headed in.

….

00:00

….

Agent Thomas looked down at his feet, he could have sworn they were vibrating, he stepped back as he felt the earth bulge, a rumbling began so intense and deep he nearly put his hands over his ears. Then he knew what it was, he turned running for his life as the world around him exploded upward in water and molten earth.

….

Jenny eyes widened, staring back up the tunnel, the whole place shook, parts fell from the ceiling, showering them, but what made her terrified was the wall of water she could see making straight for them, she did the only thing she wanted to do, she grabbed onto Shannon ‘s still body with all she had and held on.

Marcus yelled as torrents of water covered Jenny and Shannon engulfing them, just before the force reached him and threw him off his feet.

Bud paddled, trying to get back to his friends, he was pushed under, twisting and fighting in the current, he tried to make for the surface but something snagged him, pulling him deeper into the rage.

The grating exploded outward, the waters force so great it took down the first line of trees, it’s roar sounding like a mountain lion on attack. Then as suddenly as it appeared the lion was tamed and there lying like fish thrown from a net, the bodies of Jenny and Shannon wrapped so tightly together, it was difficult to make out where one began and the other ended. A last flash of water erupted from the tunnel, as if the earth was spewing out its contents, like Jonah from the whale, expelling Marcus with Bud tight in his arms.

The earth sighed, the park creatures returned to their calls and running water was heard, nothing moved.

…..

Jane thought the world had ended…. She’d been half way up the embankment when it rose up like the hand of god, throwing her ten foot into the air and flat on her back till the point she saw stars, planets, and solar systems. She lay there wondering whether her lungs were every going to let her inhale again. Finally the rumbling and movement around subsided, and her lungs inhaled the much needed air, she just lay there, dazed. She sat up with a grimace, rising, coughing to get more air into her lungs, hunched over until she was sure she wasn’t going to throw up her internal organs and headed back up the rise, which looked now like it had been sculptured with ripples. She reached the top and stopped dead, her face paling at what she saw below.

“No…NO!”

She ran down the embankment as fast as her legs would carry, down into the devastation.

….

Antiseptic was the first thing to filter into her senses, it made her nose itch. The second thing was the dryness of her lips and throat. Eyes blinked open, wincing as florescent light made her pupils turn to pinpricks and ice picks in her head. She tried to raise her hand, but as soon as she did she felt the tug of a drip feed line. She slowly turned her head, now she knew where she was, hospital.

Her brain tried to make sense of it all, she remembered running, water and she was sure there was a whale. She frowned, no she’d been in a whale. She mentally shook her head, wishing she could drink something. Her eyes opened again, this time gently, until they were accustomed to the light, she looked around, it was much like any other hospital private room.

She frowned again, shifting slightly to try and push herself up, the pain laced through her so quickly her breath caught, the monitor beside her beeped then went back to its normal rhythm. The more she breathed the more her head began to clear. Suddenly everything came back like a landslide of memories, she actually jolted. She sat up, ignoring the pain that laced her arm as she pulled on the I.V. She remembered now, the bomb, the water, the feel of water in her lungs, then air. Remembered the paramedics wrapping her in blankets, remembered being lifted. She swallowed hard, she remembered Jenny, the look on her face, the terror.

She looked around again, searching, there was not one sign that anyone had been there….. No sign of Jenny. She swung her legs over the edge of the bed, panic seeping into her, the feeling of dread seeping into her soul, ignoring the dizziness as it swept over her like a wave.

“No. not again.” Her voice was hoarse because of not drinking, hoarse because of the emotion. She had to find her, she couldn’t let her run again. She turned her head as the door opened, her heart stuttered, the monitor actually beeped that it sensed it.

Jenny frowned. “What the hell are you doing out of bed?” she shifted the large package in her arms.

Shannon just stared, swallowing her emotions.

Jenny’s step slowed, she could see and sense something was wrong. “ Shannon ? Hey you need a nurse?” She placed the package on the chair going to her, surprised when Shannon ‘s hand latched onto her in a vice.

“You didn’t leave?” Tears sparkled in blue eyes.

Jenny felt like she’d been punched, realization flooding over her, she pulled Shannon into a hug, feeling the trembling. “Oh god…. No baby. I just went and got you some clothes.” She pulled away searching her eyes. “Don’t you remember me telling you?” she brushed Shannon ‘s hair back.

Shannon held on to her, she felt like she was on a ledge about to fall. “No….” She had no memory of waking.

Jenny wanted to take back the year, go back to when she’d made her mistake, she moved back a little, meeting Shannon ‘s eyes, cupping her cheek. “I’m right here. I’m not going anywhere. I swear.”

Shannon couldn’t hold it then, she grabbed Jenny harder to her and finally let go of the hurt. Jenny found herself crying as well. They clung to each other just like they’d done in the tunnel, each of them each other’s lifeline.

“Pinkie swear.”

Jenny had to draw away, she hadn’t heard what was said. She wiped her eyes. “What?”

Shannon held up her hand, extending her little finger. “Pinkie swear that you won’t leave again.”

Jenny found herself in the odd position of laughing and crying at the same time, but she extended her little finger and wrapped it tightly around Shannon ‘s meeting her eyes. “I pinkie swear.”

Before Shannon could reply Jenny moved forward covering her mouth and gave her a kiss which curled her toes. The heart monitor went up fifteen beats.

Shannon pulled away blinking, then slowly a grin spread across her whole face, which faltered, she shifted forward, her voice urgent. “Jane? Marcus? Bud? The complex? The men?”

Jenny hushed her, moving her back. “Easy…. They’re fine. Marcus has a busted arm and Bud’s broken a rib…. The complex is safe, no one was killed. Shhhhhhhhhhh.” She guided Shannon too lie down. “You have to keep still. You lost so much blood.” She swallowed, pushing the image away. “….you tore you’re artery in your leg. They had to do a graphed from your arm….So you godda be careful for a while.”

Well that explained why her arm hurt. Shannon felt her heart rate go down. “You’re okay…. Promise?” Her eyes searched over Jenny’s body, seeing the bruising around her left eye.

Jenny smiled. “Yes. I’m okay, just battered and bruised. Now go back to sleep.” She pulled the sheeting over Shannon , stopping when a hand grabbed hers. She could see it again, the fear in Shannon ‘s eyes. “I pinkie swore remember. I’m going to go sort out your clothes, go tell your mother you’re awake, then come right back here and sit in that chair.” She didn’t break eye contact.

Shannon wanted to believe, but she just didn’t want to fall asleep and take the risk. But her body had other ideas, she could feel the heaviness in her eyelids as they closed. “I…. love….you…. Stay.” Then sleep took her.

Jenny chin creased, her eyes filled, she leant over, laying her lips against Shannon ‘s ear. “I love you too. I’m not going anywhere this time.”

Shannon smiled in her sleep.

….

Two Weeks Later….
Agent Thomas climbed the stairs, pausing on the porch, the door in front of him was open, but he knew better then to just step through. He waited. He didn’t have to wait long before Bud appeared, eyeing him suspiciously.

“Are they in?” it didn’t bother him he was talking to a dog. This dog he found wasn’t like most others, then again neither was the unlikely band of people in the house.

Bud gave a bark.

Jenny approached the door, wiping her hand on a tea towel. Her face showed her surprise. “Agent Thomas?”

He smiled, he glanced at Newton , she was looking very well. “Miss Newton. I’ve found out some information that I think you all would like to hear.” He heard the creak of the wheel chair, smiling again when Detective Rhimes came into view. “You’re looking better Detective.” He didn’t mention the fact the last time he saw her she had the coloring of a corpse.

Shannon eased the wheel chair to a stop next to Jenny. “I feel better….” She smiled up at Jenny, as Jenny placed her hand on her shoulder. “So, what brings you here?” Her attention went back to Thomas.

He eyed the door, then shifted his gaze to Bud, waiting.

Jenny slapped her thigh, turning, calling Bud to here. He sneezed, following, making sure he kept the man in his sights as he lay down by the table.

Shannon wheeled the chair backwards, letting Thomas pass.

“Can I get you a lemonade? I was just making some.” Jenny didn’t like the fact he was here. But as FBI agents went, he was one of the good guys. She could see Shannon was suspicious as well.

Thomas waved his hand. “No thanks. Well….” He looked to each of them. “I did try your apartment first detective….But….” He shifted his eyes to Jenny. “I see you’re well taken care of.”

Shannon didn’t like what he was implying. “Yes. I’m staying here until I can get out of this damn thing. Why don’t you get to the point.”

“I’ve been official sent here to thank you both and to let you know that you detective are being given a recommendation to be reinstated as detective 3 rd class. As for you Miss Newton, you’re record with us is cleared and hopefully in the future we can ask for your help again, when……. Well, when we’re in deep shit.”

Shannon looked across to Jenny, who was already looking at her in question. They looked at Thomas.

He smiled, sitting. “That’s the official part out the way.”

Jenny eyed him up and down, expecting there to be a catch. “So you’re saying Shannon has got her old position back? Just like that!”

He rubbed his temple. “Well, it wasn’t actually as easy as it sounds, there were internal affairs to convince. But my director did it. I think the words he used were. “If you don’t do it…. I’ll bloody well make her one of my agents.”

Shannon ‘s eyes widened, she scoffed. “Like I’d do that…. Jesus you guys are nothing but stuffed shirts.” She coughed, realizing she’d spoke those thoughts out loud. “No offence.”

He grinned. “Oh lots taken…. But I think he already knew you’d say no. It just gave internal affairs a little incentive to reinstate you fully.”

Jenny pulled out the chair, sitting, she grinned at Shannon , knowing this would mean a lot to her. It meant a lot to her too. One of her major regrets was Shannon ‘s punishment because of protecting her. “I’m glad.” She smiled more as Shannon met her eyes.

Thomas shifted. “That isn’t all I came for.” He waited till he had their attention back. “The next thing I’m going to tell is off the record and very unofficial. But I thought the pair of you should know everything we’ve found out about the man that came after you and what was really going on.”

“You found out who he was?” Jenny felt the need to be closer to Shannon, so she shifted the chair until she could rest her hand on Shannon ‘s leg.

“Yes. You were right you know. He was a hired gun, his name was Terry Foster. Born in England , trained with the S.A.S was kicked out in early nineties, he went freelance. We eventually tracked him down via MI6…. They have a very long file on him. He’s worked from Africa to Eastern Europe …. They last heard of him in Turkey , running guns, they lost track of him in 99. They thought he was killed in an air raid.”

“What the hell was he doing here?” Shannon covered Jenny’s hand, feeling the returning squeeze.

Thomas smiled. “This is where we fall under the…… if you tell anyone we’ll…”

Shannon butted in. “kill us?”

Thomas eyebrow rose. “Deny it!”

After exchanging a look, Shannon and Jenny nodded to him, they agreed.

“Three days after the complex was bombed, we found something exceedingly strange in the stock market. Do you know who the main financer was for the Park complex?”

Jenny shook her head.

Shannon shrugged. “The government has a hell of piece of it.”

“The US government owns roughly about 42 percent. But 45 percent is owned by Elecus investments. The rest is public shares.”

“So Elecus have the controlling share?”

He nodded to Shannon .

Jenny shifted a little forward. “So what happened on the stock market?”

“The shares plummeted.”

Both Shannon and Jenny frowned.

Thomas continued. “But the interesting thing is Elecus investment sold their entire stock portfolio a week before the bombing.”

Jenny looked right at him, guessing what he was getting at. “You think someone at Elecus hired Foster…. They knew it was going to happen and they dumped the shares?”

He didn’t show his surprise at how quick Jenny picked up on it. “Yes.”

Shannon frowned. “But isn’t that pretty stupid? Anyone would have caught the fact a whole company sold out just before a bomb went off?”

Thomas nodded. “It would have been yes. But remember Foster wasn’t supposed to end up dead and the link to Elecus wouldn’t have been there. It would have been just rumors…. We never would have had any evidence to hold up in court… You two gave us the evidence to go after them.”

Shannon ground her teeth. “Please tell me you caught the sneaky son of bitch.”

Thomas smile vanished. “No. and I’m afraid we’re not going too.” He raised his hand to cut their questions off. “We followed the money trail Foster left and it led us straight to seventeen banks where the funds were transferred, then we lost them. The two major company directors were fired this week and had very little to do with the main shares. The owner of Elecus had disappeared…. We found him in the Bahamas , where I’m afraid we have no jurisdiction.”

“Son of fucking bitch…. What’s his name?” It was taking everything for Shannon not to jump out of the wheel chair and pace.

Thomas swallowed at the tone. “Francis Alexandra Enversio.”

Jenny exhaled. “And you can tie him to Foster?”

Thomas relaxed a little. “We can trace it enough through the money line to know Foster was being paid by an offshore bank which Elecus used. Can we trace him to Enversio?…” he shook his head. “No.”

“But the complex didn’t blow up. What we did stopped it.” She nodded to Shannon .

“It was still enough damage to postpone the opening by another month. Structural engineers are still conducting tests to make sure the foundations haven’t been damaged by the blast…. The amount of water in the sub foundation is going to take them weeks to pump out… And that costs money. If Elecus were still controlling the shares they would have lost roughly 100 million in the last two days. Instead they made that much selling early. The new owners of the shares took the hit.”

Shannon was staring at her hands. “All this was done for money?”

Jenny looked quickly to her.

Even Thomas was intrigued by the tone. “Yes.”

Shannon didn’t say anymore, she simple, nodded.

Thomas threw a questioning look to Jenny.

She ignored it. “So that’s it? Case closed?”

“Yes.”

“And what are you telling the press, as this is all hush hush?”

He gotten to know Jenny enough to know she was getting pissed off. “We don’t like it known that people get away from us…. I’m telling you this as a courtesy…. The official explanation is that Foster was an arsonist who picked on the park development because of his attachment to the Calusa burial grounds and that on this occasion the FBI prevented an enormous loss of life and he was killed while we were trying to apprehend him.”

Jenny snorted. “Jesus. You’re using everything he did.”

“It isn’t exactly lying. We’re just using what we need.”

“It’s not telling the fucking truth either.” Shannon snapped.

Thomas sighed. “Look. We are monitoring Enversio and if he ever sets foot on American soil again we’ll have him on some charge or other.”

Shannon shook her head in disbelief. “More than likely tax evasion. Isn’t that usual how you catch people you can’t touch?”

Thomas exhaled. “This also helps both of you. Neither one of you are being mentioned to the press. No one is going to know about your involvement, especially you Miss Newton. We thought it was the least we could do was keep you safe.”

Shannon just looked away, she felt like she was being paid off.

Jenny looked confused. “Are you saying that this Enversio could want some sort of revenge?”

“I’m saying…. That both of you are protected. Rhimes gets her job back…. Both of you get a clean slate and the press aren’t going to be banging down your door or camping outside your house for weeks on end.”

Shannon didn’t hide her sarcasm. “Thank you so much.”

He stiffened. “I didn’t have to come here and tell you this.”

Jenny rose. “No you’re right you didn’t and I for one do thank you for it.” She offered her hand.

Thomas rose, taking it, surprised when the grip turned to a vice.

Jenny pulled him forward, her eyes sparking. “If any of you try and destroy her again for doing her job. I’ll make sure every news team in the world gets the true story about this….. And believe me they’ll believe I felt it, saw it, and tasted it through my gift. I’ll make the lot of you look like Keystone cops.”

Shannon jerked in surprise. “Jenny? It’s okay.” She reached across, fingertips touching Jenny’s arm. “Hey.”

Jenny looked at her, then back to Thomas. “Do you believe me agent Thomas?”

Thomas pulled his hand free, resisting the urge to rub it. “I believe you.”

Jenny gave a curt nod. “Now would you like some lemonade?”

Thomas sat, nodding.

Shannon ‘s eyes followed her, she couldn’t help the spreading grin.

Close your eyes
let me touch you now
let me give you something
that is real
close the door
leave your fears behind
let me give you
what you’re giving me
you are the only thing
that makes me want to live at all
when I am with you
there’s no reason to pretend that
when I am with you
I feel flames again
just put me inside you
I would never ever leave
just put me inside you
I would never ever leave you.

Vast….Flames

….

Shannon wasn’t sure how she felt after Thomas had left. When Marcus and Jane arrived for dinner, the thoughts were put aside. But later, as she’d sat there listening to them talk and laugh, and seeing how close they’d had grown together, she suddenly felt alone. She’d excused herself, knowing Jenny was watching her as she exited the house. She rolled the chair to the end of the porch and there she sat, just looking at the sea and the sky, thinking.

All of this was done for money, fires, loss of life, near misses. Last time it had been the whim of a mad man, this time it was at the whim of a rich man wanting more. She knew how it worked, Enversio was protected as long as he stayed away and paid the right people off. They never were going to be able to touch him. She tilted her head back, looking at the stars, so much had happened around her. She looked back over her shoulder to the house, hearing the laughter of Marcus and Jane.

She shivered, she remembered now more of what happened…. It had come back to her not long after leaving the hospital, she’d been lucky again. What was it Foster had said…… “How many lives have you got left?” She exhaled, the answer was very plain, not many. She smiled as she heard Marcus bark a laugh, this time she could make out Jenny’s laughter too. She wasn’t the only one who had been lucky, every single one of them had gotten away lightly. She could have lost Jenny…. That thought put so much coldness inside her she actually started to tremble.

She wished she knew where this thing was Jenny was going to lead…. They hadn’t talked, the last three weeks had been about healing, not talking. It felt so right being here with her, but Jenny had only asked her to come back until her leg had healed. Another thing that hadn’t been talked about was she staying or going?

As if in answer she felt the tingling of her skin, smiling, as she turned her head, knowing she was going to find Jenny watching her. She wasn’t disappointed.

Jenny smiled, moving forward, holding out a soda.

Shannon took it. “Can’t I have a beer?”

Jenny leant against the porch beam. “Not while you’re on pain meds, you’re off them in a week.”

Shannon smile fell. She took a drink of soda. “Yea. Another week.” Yea another week and do I stay or am I going?

Jenny studied her, she could see something was wrong and she had a pretty good idea of what it was. But she was scared to broach it, just in case she was wrong and she’d be opening herself up to a world of hurt. She turned to face the sea. “Marcus and Jane seem to be getting along better.”

Shannon looked at Jenny’s profile, wondering if she was going to see jealousy there again. “Good for them.”

Jenny shifted to look at her, grinning. “It is, isn’t it.”

Part of Shannon sighed in relief, there wasn’t jealousy now. “Jane told me when he kissed her the first time, she swallowed her gum.”

Jenny snorted beer down her nose.

Shannon laughed.

Jenny wiped her chin, glaring.

Shannon held up her hands. “Hey it’s not my fault you can’t handle your liquor.”

Jenny couldn’t help it, she just had too; she leant across and kissed Shannon deeply.

Shannon just blinked and went with the flow.

Jenny drew back. “I love your laugh.”

Shannon cupped Jenny’s face. “I love you.” Her heart thumped in her chest. She knew she’d said it in the hospital, but it had never been mentioned since by either of them. She tried to read Jenny’s eyes, wondering if she’d just made a mistake.

Jenny smile changed into a fully fledged shit eating grin. “I love you too. I didn’t think you remembered?”

Shannon frowned. “That I love you?”

Jenny laughed. “No…. That you’d said it.”

Shannon pulled Jenny suddenly onto her lap, Jenny tried to jump up. “ Shannon your leg!” Shannon just pulled her back down, wrapping her arms around so she couldn’t get up. “My leg is fine…. And if it starts hurting I’ll dump you out.”

Jenny gave a not so sure look, up until the point her lips were covered in another kiss. She broke it first, cuddling in. “So mind telling me why you’re out here on your own?”

“Thinking.”

“About?”

“Us.” Shannon tried to see Jenny’s eyes, but she’d turned to look at the sea. She felt the lazy stroking on her arm from Jenny’s fingers.

“ Shannon ….” Jenny swallowed hard, turning back. Finding that open gaze again, it immediately made what she was going to say a lot easier than she thought. “I’d like you to stay here, with me. I mean….move in…. I’d really like to try this with us. It feels so scary sometimes, but it’s more scary thinking I might have lost it, or could lose you again….. I know it’s going to be hard sometimes and god I’m really struggling with the fact you leave to go into danger every day…. But…. I want you to stay.”

Shannon didn’t want to cry, but her eyes didn’t listen. She brought Jenny’s hand to her lips, kissing. “I’ve been going nuts thinking I’d have to leave. Trying to figure away to just tell you I wanted to stay….”

“Why didn’t you.” Jenny relished the feeling of lips on her skin.

“One I’m a coward. Two I didn’t want to push you…. In case……”

“I ran?”

Shannon looked down. “Yea.”

Jenny tilted Shannon ‘s head back up, until their eyes met again. “I won’t run.”

Shannon believed her. She pulled Jenny tightly against her. “My brother’s wedding is the end of this month. Wanna come?”

Jenny stiffened. “You sure your mother would want me there?”

“My mother was the one to ask. Besides that she does nothing but go about you. So, yea she’s gonna be just fine with it. She already thinks of you as a part of the family. So watch out she is gonna nag you….. Oh and she wants you to find her watch, said if we’re gonna have a psychic in the family might as well use her.”

Jenny barked a laugh… Feeling the warmth spread, but this time it wasn’t just Shannon ‘s. She was becoming part of a family. She’d never had one before that just accepted her. The feelings touched somewhere so deep inside her, she tightened the embrace. “I’d love to go.” Her voice was hoarse.

Both of them moved forward into the kiss, one that sealed their words and their hearts in a binding bond, one which was already flowing through their veins.

Marcus stepped out on the porch, he stopped dead. He blinked, he didn’t feel jealous in fact he felt a little embarrassed, the kiss was getting heated. He turned, walking back into the house.

Jane looked over the door of the chiller. “Well. Where are they?”

He scratched his neck. “They…. Well they’re….”

Jane straightened. “Are what? They’re okay right?”

“Oh they’re more than okay.”

Jane frowned. “So?”

His answer was to walk across the living room right to Jane and take her into his good arm and kiss her.

Jane blinked, finding her balance when Marcus let go. “Um?”

“That’s what they’re doing!” Sometimes it was the easiest way to get her to shut up. Not that he was complaining.

Jane grabbed his shirt pulling him forward. “Well okay then.” Then she kissed him to the point, he swallowed her gum!

….

Bud looked at the sky, it seemed very strange to him this kissing thing…. He knew that’s what it was called because Shannon always demanded a morning one. He couldn’t really see himself kissing another lady dog…. For one, teeth would get in the way, and for two he’d probably get his tongue bitten off. Although come to think of it, he was pretty sure he’d seen Jenny’s tongue disappear in between teeth a few times.

He sniffed around a bit, finding an interesting scent, one he hadn’t smelt before. He was bored; Jenny and Shannon were having a bed day…. Another bed day…. He always got told off for staying that long in his bed…. Never seemed fair, one rule for them and another for him. And it wasn’t as if Shannon was sleeping, not with all those noises Jenny made in there…. He got told off for that too, when he howled.

He shook his head, his attention going back to the scent, he decided to follow with his tail wagging.

He stopped dead as he rounded the dune. His tail gave a very slow wag, he wasn’t sure who this new dog was, he hadn’t smelt her before, but oh boy she had the biggest wag in her tail he’d seen in a long time.

Both nervous and on alert, they circled each other, heads low, sniffing. Then when scents were exchanged the Alsatian took off, only to stop a few feet away and look back over her shoulder.

Bud’s ears perked. Oh bow wow….

The Alsatian took off.

Bud immediately was in hot pursuit. Maybe I’ll try that kissing thing.

….The End….

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