Book 1, Chapter 28

Rabbit had not wanted to do anything today. He had wanted to stay at home, smoke a pack of cigarettes and focus his energy on coming to terms with his...condition. He had not wanted to get up, get dressed, and travel to the Core to talk to anyone from the SPD. But when he was awakened at nine am by a call from a detective named Lowry telling him that he would be there by eleven or face being charged with breaking and entering, that was what he had done.

"You have to realize," Lowry was saying, "That you did break the law, Rabbit. No one on the SPD is allowed to enter the home of a suspect without a warrant. I know that you know that. And you're not even an officer, you're a consultant. Once you'd given us what advice and information you had, your work on the case should have ended."

Across a metal table from the detective, Rabbit sat with his chair propped against the wall on two legs. His arms were crossed over his chest. He said nothing.

"At this point, it's up to the SPD to press charges. I mean, this Waters guy isn't going to do it." Lowry chuckled at his own wit. "So if it's going to get done, it'll be done by the city."

Rabbit chewed on his tongue and kept his expression stony.

"I don't want to charge you with anything." Lowry was not intimidated by his silence. "No one here wants to do that, and we don't intend to as long as we have your cooperation. All we need is for you to tell us how everything happened that day."

Rabbit did not point out that the fire had destroyed any evidence of his presence in the apartment. Even the surveillance footage that should have given him away was, by some fortuitous circumstance, lost when the fire activated the sprinklers for the entire building, and some exposed wiring had shorted out, wiping clean the server on which the surveillance data was stored. The only thing that connected him to the events surrounding Greg Waters's apartment the day William had died was his phone call to the SPD, which had not mentioned Waters or the boy. That meant that this interrogation had nothing to do with him entering Greg's apartment unlawfully. He was stuck in a room with Lowry because they didn't know how William had died.

"That's all we need from you: just an honest, accurate account of what happened in Greg Waters's apartment."

Julian cursed his luck. The coroner would have pulled bullets out of the corpse, and, as Rabbit's assigned investigative partner, his would be the first guns ballistics would want to test. The SPD would not have survived for several hundred years if they were not good at what they did, and even though she was pretentious and had stupid hair, the detective sitting across from him--someone-or-other Lucas--was not an SPD detective because she was stupid. There were a lot of things she wasn't saying, and she was leaving them out purposely.

"Is there even any evidence that I was in the apartment?"

Lucas smiled. "Waters destroyed any evidence there might have been with his little fire, but we know Rabbit was in front of the complex when he placed his call. Since you were his partner at the time, we think it's safe to assume you were there with him, and there's no reason not to assume that one or both of you entered the apartment and then retrieved and moved William's body. There's no way even Rabbit could have pegged the exact location of the body, so we're pretty sure our assumption is right."

"Impressive," Julian said with a smile. It wasn't really, but he wanted to appear confident and easygoing.

He felt as though he was standing in a room that had pressure-sensitive explosives set out of sight into the floor at random, and he had to find his way out without being blown to pieces. He turned the situation around in his head, trying to find an approach he could take that wouldn't get him or Rabbit into trouble.

"Why don't you start with how you figured out who the perp was," Lucas prompted. She rested her elbows on the table and leaned her chin on her hands expectantly. "We were all very impressed with that bit."

Julian took a breath and decided that he would be best served by honesty at this point. "Rabbit already had the idea that it was a serial killer, based on the victims' common physical traits. I juxtaposed the map plotting the locations of their disappearances with a map of the tram lines, and we noticed that they were all clustered around a single route."

"Then what?"

"We went to the station and checked their surveillance." Rabbit pinched the bridge of his nose in irritation. He hated to be asked questions when the person asking already knew the answers. "We checked the footage against the cards that were scanned to see who got on the train with the kid."

"And?" Lowry pressed.

"We could see someone get on the tram with a kid who looked like William, but he stayed out of the cameras' view so we couldn't identify him. We figured he must have known the camera angles, and looked up who had worked at that station in the past. Waters' name came up, and his address showed he lived near the line, so we went to check it out."

"So you get to Waters's place and what, just break in?" Lucas looked skeptical.

Julian's smile was sheepish. "Well, we waited until he left first. Then, yeah, Rabbit kicked the door in and we had a look around."

"What did you find?"

Rabbit didn't answer immediately. He wasn't as squeamish as Julian, but the memory of the place still made it hard to breathe. At length, he said, "We found a lot of stuff you guys are going to wish you had when you catch him."

Lowry didn't look amused. Rabbit wasn’t either.

"A lot of it was human remains. Helms let me know you'd managed to gather up some of that."

"Yes," the detective conceded. "One full body and a few limbs. Everything but what we found in the fridge was badly burnt, though."

"Do you think they'll be able to identify them?"

Lowry was quiet for a moment, regarding Rabbit as though just meeting him for the first time. At length, he said, "I hope so."

There was a short silence, broken when Lowry asked, "And you found William, didn't you?"

"Rabbit did. I was still looking around the room. You would not believe some of the stuff the guy had in there. Like...stuff I didn't even know you could buy." Julian mused for a moment. "You probably can't, actually."

"Probably not legally, anyway," Lucas agreed. "The two of you were armed?"

"Hell yeah." Julian scoffed a little. "You think I'd go after such an obviously dangerous criminal unarmed? Other than with my charm and good looks," he added.

Lucas smiled. "But it begs the question of why you thought it was a good idea to after Waters yourselves in the first place. Why did you?"

Rabbit answered the question with silence. Lowry didn't let it go. "We know you're good at this sort of work, Rabbit. That's why you're on our payroll. But like I’ve said, you’re a consultant, not an officer. Why didn't you tell us what you found out? Did you think the SPD would disregard the evidence you’d obtained?"

"I guess I wasn't really thinking at all, at that point," Rabbit admitted slowly. He felt as though everything inside of him had turned into concrete.

"Were you thinking when you pumped an entire clip of bullets into the kid's body?"

That was it, Julian realized. Of course. Lies were always best told buried in the midst of truth, and there was no point in lying about the origin of the bullets. It would just raise more suspicion if he denied that they came from his gun, and he might really be in trouble if they decided to get a warrant and seize the weapons for testing.

"I think the shock of finding William too late was too much for him," he told Lucas, and it wasn't hard to work some sympathy for his short-term partner into his voice. Rabbit had obviously been shaken up by the events of that day, both during and after their visit to Greg's apartment--considering his record, the SPD would have no trouble believing that he had been so distraught he'd destroyed the body. "But you know, I think it was as much for the family as because he was upset," he added. "I mean, William was in terrible shape when we found him. Maybe Rabbit thought that if he destroyed the body even further, the family wouldn't have to see and remember their boy that way."

Lucas nodded slowly, but he couldn't tell if she thought that excuse was noble or pathetic. "Rabbit can get...excitable under pressure."

Julian thought "withdrawn" would have been a better word to describe it.

"That was when you removed the body from the scene?"

"Julian didn't want to leave it." Rabbit sat forward and the front two legs of his chair hit the floor gently. "I didn't have a way to transport it, so we left it in the alley. We figured that way, even if Greg got there first we'd have bought the police some time before he managed to find and destroy the body."

"But it also alerted Greg to the fact that there was something wrong."

"And his toy full of holes wouldn't have?"

Though he remained silent, the detective's expression clearly said, "And whose fault is that?"

"At least you got the body," Rabbit said woodenly, looking at the floor through his hands.

"And lost a lot of other evidence."

Rabbit didn't answer or raise his head.

"...I'm going to talk to Helms, Rabbit," Lowry said at length. "I think it's best we didn't bother you with anymore work for a while. It's obviously not helping your...condition."

Alarm coursed through Rabbit for an instant before he realized that Lowry was referring to his psychological state. He schooled his expression and reminded himself that no one knew the state of his body except for himself, Alan and Julian, and that no one ever would know. That there was nothing wrong with him, and that he needed to go on living normally.

Though he supposed "living" wasn't really the appropriate term.

Waiting for the elevator after Lowry dismissed him, Rabbit could see Julian coming toward him down the hall from the interrogation rooms. The other man started to greet him, but Rabbit turned away. He stepped into the elevator that arrived and hit the button to force the doors closed while Julian was still some thirty feet away. He didn't want to see his one time partner--Julian's presence reminded him of all the questions he didn't have answers to.

How Julian could have known, just by touching him, that he had died, was at the top of the list. He rode the elevator to the ground floor and hurried out of the building and down to the street lest the other man catch up to him and try to get his attention again. There was no way that just touching another person could give him that sort of information about them. He'd have had to have some sort of supernatural powers and Rabbit, despite some of the very unexplained occurrences in his own life, and despite the fact that his only close friends were a thousand year old sorcerer of sorts and a demon, as a rule did not believe in the supernatural. It made him anxious.

As he made his way toward the tram station, his phone began to ring. He pulled it out of his pocket but stopped so suddenly when he saw Billie's name on the caller ID that another man's briefcase hit him with jarring force as its owner dodged around him. The memory of his last visit to Billie's and of what Caine had said to him in her office swirled to the front of his mind.

This warranted some investigation.

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