As An Afterthought
Written by S.W. and Hayley
Jason Sawyer looked over the glossy photographs. They all showed the same thing. His wife of eight years, the mother of his two kids -his baby- in someone else's arms. Kissing someone else, and in someone else's bed. His head began to pound. These pictures confirmed his suspicions that his Holly was having an affair. He needed time alone to digest this information, but he was not alone. Leaning casually against the wall, was the man who took the pictures. The private investigator that he had hired. He was looking at him with pity. Jason hated that pity. He looked back at the photos. Wait maybe it wasn't Holly. It could all be a scam.
"What are you looking at?" Jason asked.
"I'm sorry," the investigator said. He looked up the ceiling.
"Don't you think that I would have paid you anyway?"
"When you found nothing, you staged these pictures. I would have paid you for your trouble. Whatever your standard fee is."
"I've heard of this happening before. Don't know why I trusted you. You do have an honest face. Who is this woman? She does look an awful lot like my wife."
"Mr. Sawyer, you asked me to follow your wife, Holly around, because you suspected that she was having an affair. Here's the proof."
Jason's head felt like it was going to explode. He felt extremely dizzy. "Holly loves me. We have two kids. Jonathan and Kimberly. She wouldn't do that to us."
The investigator didn't say anything, but Jason could see the pity, which just made Jason feel worse. He felt very disoriented and mumbled, "Me and Holly and Jon and Kim."
He reached into his briefcase to grab his wallet. He wanted to show this investigator that Holly loved him and that they had a good family. He had a picture in the wallet, taken only a month ago in a fancy portrait studio. Once the investigator saw that they were a happy family... he would admit that the pictures were staged. Then Jason could go home and kiss his wife and kids. They were a happy family.
He reached for the wallet, but his hands grabbed something cold instead. It felt like a gun. Why did he have a gun in his briefcase? He vaguely remembered putting it there, but didn't remember the reason. His headache was even worse now. He could barely see his vision was so messed up. The PI was still there, pitying him, feeling sorry for him.
Maybe he could get the PI to admit the picture was staged. Maybe if he pretended that he believed him...
"It really is Holly?" Jason asked. His hand tightening on the gun in the briefcase.
"Yes, Mr. Sawyer. I'm really sorry."
"Damn it, don't pity me!" Jason yelled. He felt shaky. He raised the gun so the PI could see it. He could, Jason could tell by the worried look that flashed in his eyes.
"Tell me that the pictures were staged, that you did the staging."
The PI's lips moved, but no sound came out. Finally, the sound came. "I--"
But it was too little, too late for Jason. Suddenly his vision was clearer. He pulled the trigger and felt satisfaction when it hit his target. The private investigator went down, sliding against the wall and leaving a red streak. He came to rest at the bottom, his head against his chest at an odd angle.
"Gonna go home to Holly," he muttered to himself, but the investigator was past hearing. Jason looked at the photos, and placed them next to the PI. He had no need for them now. He placed the gun on top of the pictures. He was happy to see that his headache had eased a little bit.
"All I'm saying is that I don't think that's a romantic anniversary present," Terri Stivers said.
Paul Falsone looked at her like she had grown another head.
"Laura loves boxing. It's a great gift."
She sighed and they walked to the crime scene. The body was in a small, nondescript office. They moved past the crowd that had gathered around the door, and finally got to the body. All she could tell at first was that he was a blond man shot in the chest. She scanned the body at first looking for any type of evidence before she took in the victim's face. She stepped back in shock, practically falling into her partner.
"What is it?" he asked.
She was breathing unevenly now and for a second, he was more concerned about her, than what had caused her to get like that. She shook her head and walked quickly out of the room, leaving him to see the body.
"Oh..." he said as he saw who their victim was. He let loose with a couple of choice expletives. He had never expected this. He felt torn between questioning the gathered people and finding his partner. Some uniform told him that they would start investigating, and he felt too dazed to argue. In his two years of working homicide, he had never experienced anything like this.
He found her sitting down on the floor across the hall. Her eyes were red and she was still breathing all weird; rapidly, in short bursts that came without any set pattern.
"Put your head between your legs," he instructed softly.
She did and soon her breathing slowed a little back to normal.
"It was Mike," she finally managed, gasping as she got a good amount of air in her lungs.
"I know," he said and sat down next to her. "Some uniforms are working it."
"We need to tell Gee. And Meldrick." The crying started again.
"I'm going to tell them to investigate it and we'll go back to headquarters. We'll talk to Gee and Lewis, okay?"
She nodded and walked with him to the car. There was no conversation on the way, only silence. She felt numb, even as they walked to the squadroom. She felt numb walking up to the stairs, walking to the squadroom, and then it hit her once again. The tears started up. She didn't want to face everyone like this.
"Come on," he said to her softly. They walked past one coworker after another, all who gave them curious looks, but said nothing. "Do you want to talk to Meldrick? I'll talk to Gee."
"Okay," she agreed trying to keep her composure. She felt like she was going to throw up, but she felt she had to do this. She didn't see Lewis though. Her eyes, sore with tears, scanned the squadroom again and again, but kept coming up empty. She felt a hand on your shoulder.
She turned around to see a very concerned looking Bayliss.
"Are you okay?" he asked her, brown eyes searching her face.
She shook her head. "Where's Lewis?"
"Getting coffee. Want me to get him?"
"No, it's okay. Thanks though," she added. She walked into the breakroom.
He turned around. "What's up, Terri?" Then he saw her face.
She sat down at a table and he sat across from her. She didn't know what to say to him. "Lewis," she said, "Falsone and I went on a case..."
She closed her eyes and said the words slowly, painfully, almost as if trying to convince herself what she had seen. "It was Kellerman, Meldrick. Mike. He was shot. He's dead"
She opened her eyes to see him watching her. He looked like the words hadn't sunk in yet. "What?"
"The body we found...it was Mikey. I'm so sorry."
"Are you sure, Stivers? Maybe it was some guy who just looked a little like him."
"No, I'm sure. It was him."
Lewis covered his face with his hands feeling a huge rush of deja vu. "Was it...was it suicide?"
"I don't know. As soon as I saw who it was, I left the room. I felt like I was going to pass out."
"Who else knows?"
"Falsone is telling Gee right now. I don't know who is working on the case, but I couldn't be there."
Lewis looked at her. He was still in shock. He was still at the point that he could ask stupid questions like that. He stayed there silent for a moment repeating to himself, "Mikey's dead" over and over again until the words lost all meaning. He still didn't believe it; he couldn't make himself believe it.
Falsone walked over to them. "Gee wants to talk to you two."
"Tell him to give us a minute," she said. She looked over at Lewis who still had a dazed look in his eyes. "Lewis?" she asked softly, trying to be strong. He closed and then quickly opened his eyes and stood up. Slowly, they walked to Gee's office. Once again they were the objects of stares.
Without knocking, they walked in his office and shut the door. Gee looked up at them. He looked like he hadn't slept in weeks, even though he had just gotten the news minutes ago. They stood there, waiting for him to say something. Waiting for anything, vaguely reassuring. There was nothing that he could tell them. He needed someone to tell him something reassuring.
"I'm getting second shift to work the case," he finally said. "No one on this shift will have to operate with this case on their minds."
"Yes, Gee," she said softly. She still felt off-balance, like this was some kind of weird dream that she couldn't escape from.
"Also," Gee began seriously, "until I hear differently, I can't dismiss this as not being related to what happened with everything...." he stopped again. "This is really important. Have either of you been threatened in any way? Any phone calls? Any threats at all?"
"No," she said.
"No," Lewis echoed.
"Well, if either of you hear anything you tell me immediately. Other than that, I don't want to see you two here for a week."
Gee was expecting an argument, but he didn't get one. They both mumbled something or other in his general direction and walked out.
Gee walked out of his office and could tell that people were curious what was going on. Falsone had told Gee that Stivers had been crying when they entered the squadroom, and the sight of Lewis and Stivers leaving in the middle of the day was enough for gossip. He looked at his squad and wondered how this had happened. Why did he keep getting news that former detectives of his had died? Why was it up to him to figure out the best course of action?
At least, he had gotten second shift to do this. He didn't have much faith that the squad could work this murder... if it was another murder like Beau Felton's and not a suicide. Another suicide. Had it already been four years since Steve Crosetti killed himself? Since Lewis lost his first partner? How was he going to deal with Lewis? A man can only take so much, and he had not done well with Steve.
He gathered his detectives around him and watched them. He hated giving news like this. Best not to beat around the bush, he guessed.
"Mike Kellerman was found today, dead, shot through the chest." There. You couldn't get any more straightforward than that. Maybe he should have softened the blow a little bit. There were varying degrees of shock and sadness on their faces.
"I will be in my office now," he said. "If anyone needs me..." he began, not knowing how to finish the sentiment. What would he be able to do? Stare blankly at them? He waved his hand hoping that would express things that words couldn't. He walked back to his office. Silence followed him.
After Gee went into his office, the detectives spilt up. Gharty and Ballard, who had only known Kellerman, as a temperamental, angry man, went back to looking through cases. They were sad that it had happened, but because they really didn't know him, they weren't feeling terrible like those that had known the brighter side of Mike. Falsone, who had never liked Kellerman, but had seen the body, sat alone at his desk. Sheppard, who considered herself a casual acquaintance of Kellerman's, sat at her desk trying to concentrate, but couldn't. She stared into space, just thinking.
But it was Munch and Bayliss who were devastated by the news. Two detectives, who remembered when Crosetti killed himself, when Felton was murdered, wondered how much more they could take. They sat together in the breakroom, each one hurting, but not saying anything.
They remembered Mike when he first came into homicide. They had known him when he was a happy-go-lucky detective. They had seen his transformation. They had worked with him for three years and were now at a loss for words.
"I can't believe it," Bayliss finally said softly.
"I know," Munch said.
"Lewis," Bayliss remarked. "I can't imagine what he's going through..."
"I need to get out of here,'' Munch said. "I'm going for a walk. Want to come?"
"Yeah, it's too weird here," Bayliss said.
They ended up in the bar. It was practically empty. They poured themselves drinks; the strongest that they could manage and sat down. Bayliss thought of their third partner in the bar. "I hope that he's okay."
"Lewis? I don't know, Timmy. It's got to be hard on him."
Bayliss sipped his drink. "Is it better if it is a suicide or murder?"
"Better for whom? Either way he's still dead."
"Lewis will take it hard if it's a suicide."
"If it's a murder, Lewis will have to deal with that too. That will probably be just as hard."
"Is that more of that Zen crap-olla?"
"No," Bayliss said downing the last of his drink. His throat burned and he winced. "I'm just worried about him."
"Yeah," Munch said filling up his and Tim's glasses again. "So am I."
Mike Kellerman was dead, Lewis said again to himself. He was alone in the small apartment; he had bought after Barbara threw him out. He hated the apartment, hated being all alone. After living in a spacious beautiful house with a kind, beautiful wife, he had lost everything. Barbara handed him the divorce papers, telling him that he had changed, had become too moody, too unpredictable. She was probably right. He had changed two years ago. He was probably better off alone.
They had all changed. He had become angrier, more suspicious. Stivers had changed too. Ever since everything had happened, she was much more subdued than she was when he first met her. Things had been hard on her, and Kellerman had been hit the hardest. Hard enough to kill himself? Why not? Lewis had seen him almost kill himself once, and then there was the time when he asked for Lewis' gun.
Sure he could have finally snapped. He should have known.
Lewis sat down on his bed then lay down. He didn't know what he was feeling. Still not much of anything. Almost unconsciously, he reached under the bed and felt for his photo album. Barbara had gotten it for him for his birthday two years ago. She had had it engraved with their names on it and told him that it would be a great present for their future kids and grandkids. When she left him, he took the cover off and put in
pictures of his friends and family.
He went through it quickly; only a few pictures caught his interest enough for him to look for more than a second. The first one was of Crosetti. The only picture he had of his former partner. He was at his desk looking a little annoyed at having his picture taken. That crazy salami-brain, Lewis thought to himself.
Lewis hadn't realized that he had taken so many pictures over the years of people from work. Most of them were pretty goofy or didn't really turn out, but he liked looking at all the people he had worked with, especially the people who weren't there anymore. He had gotten a nice one of Howard, smiling at him for once. He wondered how she was doing. He actually missed her a little. He had also gotten a pretty decent one of Pembleton and Bayliss in the squadroom. He knew that Frank hadn't left under the best of terms, but wondered how he was doing also. He looked at it again. Maybe Tim would like the picture.
He came to the last page of pictures. The first one was just of Mike on the roof. Mike had a smile on his face and his middle finger up. That was when they first started partnering together. The next one was of the two of them talking in the bar. It wasn't the best picture that had ever been taken. Lewis tried to remember who had taken it. Munch perhaps? It was still nice. They looked deep in conversation, like they had been discussing politics or cannibalism or something, but they were probably arguing over a sports team.
The last picture in his album turned out really well. It was taken three days before Luther Mahoney was shot, three days before the end. The whole narcotics squad was having a surprise birthday party for Stivers, and Lewis and Kellerman had decided to crash it. Lewis had bought a piņata and he and Kellerman had filled it with candy the day before. Lewis didn't remember whose idea that was, but did remember the fun of seeing everybody blindly swinging at the bull-shaped piņata.
This wasn't that long after Kellerman's first suicide attempt, and Lewis recalled that by the time of the party, Kellerman had already seemed a lot calmer. That had come through in the picture. It had the birthday girl in the middle with Lewis on one side of her and Kellerman on the other, all wearing ridiculous party hats. The three of them looked calm, happy, and unaware of what was ahead for all of them.
He stared at the picture until the faces became blurry. He blinked a couple of times, staring so intensely at it, that he didn't even realize that he was crying. Even when the tears were flowing freely, he still didn't take his eyes off the pictures. Finally he shoved the album back under his bed and curled up in bed, still crying.
The ringing phone jolted him awake. He looked at the clock. It was two o'clock. He had been asleep for three hours. He felt terrible. His eyes burned from all the crying. And of course there was the fact that it hadn't been a dream like he had first hoped. Otherwise, he wouldn't be at home asleep in the middle of a weekday afternoon. He grabbed the phone. "Yeah?" he mumbled sleepily.
"Lewis?" It was a female's voice. Very familiar, but for a second he couldn't place it. Well, who did he think would be calling him? Maybe he'd invite her over, suddenly company didn't sound so bad.
"Stivers, can you come over?"
He heard her cough. "It's not Stivers. It's Julianna."
"Oh," he said dumbly. Then the sleep fog lifted from his brain. "Dr. Cox?"
"Well, yeah if you want you to get formal on me. How are you doing, Lewis?"
Well, how had she found out? She obviously knew; there was no way she would call him unexpectedly. "How do you think I'm doing?"
"Probably about the same as I'm doing."
"How'd you find out?"
"Giardello called me. Don't know where he got my number. Kind of makes me nervous," she said. She was trying to be flippant, but failed miserably.
"Where are you?" Lewis asked her.
"I'm in New York, but I'm coming down. Do you know when the funeral is?"
"No idea. I can't even think'a things like that. Guess whenever his parents decide," he stopped, thinking for a second of Mikey's poor parents.
"You guys don't know yet what happened?"
Lewis sighed. "No, second shift is working it. Either suicide... or murder, I guess."
"I really don't think he killed himself."
"Why not?" he asked, curious.
"Well, I called him a little while ago. To see how he was doing."
"He had stopped drinking, Meldrick."
"Well that's good."
"And he said that except for one thing, life was great."
"What thing was that?"
"He told me that he had a case where he had to work with you guys again."
"Yeah. He seemed okay, I guess. I didn't get to spend that much time with him."
"He told me that even at his most angry, his most drunk he never thought he could be rough with a woman."
Lewis groaned. He didn't know if he wanted to hear this. "What happened?"
"According to him, he was a little rough with one of the women on your squad."
He closed his eyes. It didn't take a genius to figure out which one of the three that Mikey would get angry enough at to "get rough with".
"She never said anything to me about it."
"Mike wondered about that. I think he was afraid that she had said something to you and that you hated him. That 's something that I really picked up on, Lewis. He still wanted you to like him. Even after all that crap that you three went through, I could tell that he missed you. He wanted to talk to you."
That really wasn't what Lewis needed to hear right now. "Are you tryin' to tell me that I wasn't there for him or nothing?"
Julianna sighed. "Don't get angry at me. I'm not trying to tell you anything. Just that he missed you. He wasn't mad at you."
"Look, Cox, you don't know how things were..."
"You're right. But I know how things were two weeks ago."
"How were they?"
"He started enjoying his job, Lewis. He was clean and sober. He was going to come visit me on his next vacation."
"Yeah. The only thing that he was really worried about was whether he had hurt Stivers or not. He didn't go into it, but he told me that they used to be friends a long time ago."
"I didn't know that."
"He asked me if I thought that he should apologize to her or not. I told him he should. I also told him that he should talk to you also."
"What did he say to that?"
"He seemed nervous, but open to the idea. He seemed more like the old, complicated yet lovable guy."
"And now he's dead."
There was silence for a few moments, and Lewis felt like an idiot for saying it so bluntly.
"Now he's dead, Lewis. But I just wanted you to know...that he was getting better. He definitely wasn't suicidal."
"Would you be able to tell if a person was?" Lewis asked. He thought again of his first partner.
"I'd be able to tell if he was. We talked for hours."
"Oh," Lewis mumbled. He knew it was stupid, but he felt a little jealous.
"Maybe it was because I wasn't still in Baltimore or because I made the move and called him or maybe... maybe it was just one ex-drunk talking to another."
Gee called what was left of the squad together again. This time however they were in his office waiting for information. This time he had some.
"He was murdered," Gee said in the same tone that he had used to describe countless other murdered victims. "They found prints on the gun that weren't his so they're working it now."
Once again he expected something, anything from his detectives. What he got was quiet acceptance. He dismissed them and they all left, except for Bayliss and Munch.
"How are you two doing?" Gee asked.
"I've actually been better," Munch said. "Are you going to tell Lewis?"
"I probably should," Gee said. He looked at them. His two veteran detectives. They looked like they were still in shock, still hurting, still.... drunk? Maybe not drunk, but he could definitely smell the alcohol. Suddenly, drinking himself into a stupor didn't sound that unappealing. It certainly sounded better than telling Lewis, but he knew that he had to get it over with.
Bayliss and Munch exited, leaving Giardello alone with the telephone. He sighed and picked up the receiver.
After Cox had called him, Lewis took a shower. The hot water eased his head a little bit and it relaxed him. He closed his eyes and stayed there for close to half an hour. Then he got out and found that he had no idea what to do with himself. He mixed himself a drink, but threw it out before he was halfway done with it. It was starting to turn his
The phone rang again. He debated answering it or not. He let the machine get it.
"Lewis," there was no mistaking this caller. Lewis would recognize his boss' voice anywhere. Reluctantly, Lewis picked up the phone. "Yeah, Gee?"
"He was murdered," Gee said sadly. "I'm really sorry."
"Yeah me too," Lewis said. His headache was back. He sat down, letting the waves of sadness roll over him again.
"Any other details?"
"Not yet. They're looking though. The detectives working the case, Cutler and Bonaventura, they're pretty good."
"Yeah, they are."
There was an uncomfortable pause. "How are you doing?" Gee asked.
"Not too good."
"Yeah, me neither."
"It's never going to stop is it?" Lewis asked.
"Gettin' the news that someone has died. I'm sick of it all."
"I don't know if I can do this anymore, Gee."
Gee sighed. "Take your week off, Lewis. You can decide what you want to do after that. And you can call me at the office if you need anything."
"This is just like Crosetti, Gee."
"No," Gee disagreed firmly, "This is not. Kellerman was murdered, and we'll find out who did this to him."
"It doesn't matter. Won't do him any good. And it's just like Crosetti. I've lost another one, Gee."
Falsone sighed irritably and scribbled out another line on his report. Looking around the squadroom, he saw solemn faces, and two were missing completely. Obviously Sheppard had known Kellerman well, because she sat at her desk, doing administrative work like him until his partner came back, her face had a heavy appearance.
He stood and made his way to Ballard, who was also working on old cases, since it was being an unusually quiet day after. The word must be out on the street that an ex-cop had been shot, and all the punks were laying low.
"Hey," he said, leaning over her shoulder.
"How are you doing?"
She turned in her chair to look up at him, indecision in her large eyes.
"Well, fine, it's just sort of shocking you know."
He nodded, and looked around the squadroom.
"I didn't think a man like Kellerman could empty our room like that--"
"A man like Kellerman?" Gharty interrupted, his eyes still down on a file.
"Kellerman killed Mahoney," Falsone said tiredly, "We all know that." Gharty just leaned back in his chair and looked up at him.
"I hear he was a pretty decent guy, Falsone, before all of the goings on."
"Yeah well, you never can tell with Kellerman," bristled Paul.
"Yeah, Paul, I mean," Laura pushed a lock of hair back, "he's dead. No matter who you are some people are going to be hurt when you're... gone, like that."
Falsone looked from person to person and shook his head.
"Yeah, Falsone," Rene's voice stretched across the room, "What did Mike ever do to you?"
"I don't believe this! He *murdered* Luther Mahoney, and you guys can just forget that in a second because he was shot to death?"
"He's dead, Paul," Sheppard said simply.
"I know..." he whispered, looking around helplessly at the squadroom, "I just never knew he could keep causing so much trouble."
Lewis pulled on a jacket and straightened his tie in the mirror that was hung on Terri's door. She wore black dress slacks and a white shirt. He wore black pants, white shirt, and a black sports coat. He stood limply and ran his eyes over his appearance one more time.
"Are you ready, Meldrick?" She asked softly.
"Yeah, let's go."
The funeral was held on a sunny Friday, and Kellerman's entire old shift was allowed the hours off to go to the funeral. Other then the detectives and family members, no one else from Mike's past had come, yet. Meldrick made the conclusion that after the Arson Investigations, he had lost the trust of old friends.
Terri and he were early, and the casket was still closed when they entered the room that the eulogy was to be spoken. It was a deep brown wood, almost black, with silver inlay along the top and handles for the pallbearers. The parents stood by the coffin touching the smooth surface and arranging the flowers that had been heaped up on the end of the coffin.
Meldrick walked up to them, leaving Terri standing respectfully by a pew.
"Hello Mr. and Mrs. Kellerman," he said softly, holding out his hand awkwardly, "I'm Mike's old partner, Meldrick Lewis."
"Yes," said Mr. Kellerman, "I remember him talking about you." Mr. Kellerman's voice was heavy with despair, and one arm was comfortingly around Mrs. Kellerman's shoulder. Neither were crying, but you could tell that they wanted too badly. Just like their son, so stubborn inside when it came to crying.
Meldrick turned to look at the large coffin. It was heart-achingly final to stand there and just look at it. He needed to see Mike, to know that he was really gone. He edged closer to it and stuck a hesitant hand out.
"Can I?" He asked, gesturing to the lid.
"We were going to wait for the pastor," choked Mrs. Kellerman, "but if you must..."
Meldrick nodded and hooked a thumb under the lid, gently pushing it up. It was a heavy lid, but it was soon upright. Both Kellerman's turned away and Mr. Kellerman led Mrs. Kellerman out of the room, as she suddenly started crying. Terri came up behind him, her own tear making a trail down her cheek.
He looked down and felt his chest clench. The pale face, so damn pale, lay on a small, satin square pillow. The eyes closed and unseeing. He raised a hand to his face and closed his eyes. He had not really believed it, sure everyone was telling him he was dead, but now he could see the life-less man he once knew.
Terri sobbed suddenly and bent forward. Meldrick turned and let her fall on his chest.
"He was my friend...," She said in a whisper. Meldrick nodded and took one hand from around her and reached into the coffin. He brushed some loose blonde strands from the forehead, just needing to know. He would not let himself cry, but he did anyway, trying to will the tears away.
"Stupid bastard," Meldrick cursed him without feeling, "What did you do to get your ass shot, huh?"
The door to the room opened with a squeak and both assembled detectives turned. Falsone stepped in, wearing his work clothes. Terri sniffled and looked on with shock as he made his way to the front of the room with them.
"I'm sorry Lewis, Terri." He looked briefly into the casket, "Jesus, he looks so... different."
"Dead, you mean? Yeah, dying can do that to you," Meldrick replied with unintended harshness. Paul took it in and looked back briefly at the man in the coffin.
"If you don't want me here, I'll go," He said simply. Meldrick wanted to tell him off, but shook his head.
"Nah, man, ain't for me to decide."
Terri gestured to one of the pews and they went to sit as more guests arrived in solemn colors. Some people Meldrick recognized, others he didn't. Bayliss and Munch came together and sat down by them, silent. No one could offer each other any words of pity.
Mr. and Mrs. Kellerman walked in with the minister of the small church. The minister was an old man, a sorrowful look on his face. It was silent in the room save for some murmurs between family members.
Julianna arrived and walked stiffly to the pew where Lewis was sitting, she nodded to Munch and sat beside him. Meldrick looked over at her, but her eyes were elsewhere. He followed the gaze, and it went straight to Mike and where he lay in the coffin. He saw her jaw clench. God, she was a strong woman. When everyone else had cried, she would not. His attention shifted to the minister when he began to speak.
"Hello," the minister called out, his voice strained, from the podium, "I am Pastor William. Bill to all of those who know me. I knew Mike. He was only a young boy, then, when he would come to church every Sunday. I remember him, and it brings me so much sorrow to see him laying in his coffin before I've laid in mine. This is a sad day..."
The eulogy was spoken from, surprisingly, Mike's sister. Her face was stony and hard and her voice cracked only a couple times. Mrs. Kellerman cried, and Terri closed her eyes at Meldrick's side. The coffin remained open, and Meldrick could not help but look at it every so often and try to remember the face with a smile.
When the ceremony was over, everyone walked outside.
"We're having an out door funeral as well," Mrs. Kellerman said, "Only the truly close people are invited." She looked over at Mike's two brothers and then back to him, "Invite anyone you think would belong there. And... you were his closest friend, we need you to help Mike's father pick something to put on the headstone."
Meldrick swallowed and nodded, clenching and unclenching his fists behind him. The words stung, it was like asking him to bury his best... he stopped that thought instantly. He was burying his best friend. He choked out a good-bye and went to collect Terri.
"Meldrick, are you going to be okay?"
"Mrs. Kellerman asked me to think of something for the headstone," he said quietly, his chest and head hurting. Terri reached a hand out and put it on his bent shoulder.
"We'll think of one together, something... that he would have liked." She said. Meldrick nodded dumbly. His eyes hurt, painfully dry and red, so he asked Terri to drive them back to her place.
Gee was still standing in front of the coffin when Bayliss came back to get the keys that had slipped out of his back pocket. Tim debated whether to approach the man or leave him be, and was about to go when Giardello's booming voice echoed through the room.
"Come here, Detective Bayliss."
Tim walked up to the coffin, but refused to look down at it, just like he had for the entire proceedings. Giardello stared into it, with a hardened glare, just staring until finally the look softened.
"He was a good Detective," Gee said.
Bayliss nodded, not knowing what to say.
"They found pictures by him, under the gun. They suspect that the killer was involved with one of his cases, so technically he was gunned down in the line of duty."
"I guess, Gee. I knew Kellerman before Mahoney, he was good police. I think we all have... problems that make us act the way we do, I'm not saying that excuses what he-"
"Mahoney is over with, Detective, and now a man is dead, a man that was once one of my own. I didn't think a man could build his life again," Gee gave a rare smile, "after being a cop so long... but Kellerman did."
Tim closed his eyes and looked down, opening them slowly. He sucked in a breath and held it for a long, silent, moment. Gee put a hand on his back and patted it.
"Does he look unhappy to you?" Tim asked meekly, reaching up to close the casket, but Gee put a hand on Bayliss's.
"Let the parents say good-bye."
"We can't just leave it open like that..." Bayliss tried to argue, but he was being pushed out the door by Giardello.
"Detective Cutler?" Bayliss asked, holding out his hand. The woman held up a hand and nodded into the phone.
"I know the storm is keeping things held up down at the lab, but I need those results," She looked up at Tim and rolled her eyes, "Thanks, uh huh, bye." She let out a loud and frustrated groan before taking his hand and giving it a good shake.
"So, your Detective Tim Bayliss?"
"Yeah, that's me." He smiled.
She smiled back and leaned back in her chair to look up at his tall form.
"What can I do for you, since you're obviously from Giardello's shift and not Neal's."
"I was wondering what you were doing about the Kellerman case," Tim said, reaching for the chair behind him. The smile faded from her lips and she reached under some papers on her desk.
"Coincidentally, that call to the lab was for the Kellerman case. I mean, I need those prints lifted and matched, but the electricity is down thanks to big tropical storm down there. Hurricane season's starting early this year, go figure huh?"
Bayliss nodded and looked down at his hands.
"I'm sorry, Detective, I know Mr. Kellerman used to work on your shift. I also know that's why we got it, a conflict of interest?"
"Yeah, one of Kellerman's... uh, friends caught the case, she was pretty torn up. Look, can I see that, I just want to know what happened and... no one's telling me anything."
She regarded him carefully, running a hand through her short hair and sighing.
"I suppose I could let you look at it, but *please* don't take it out of the squadroom, by partner will be back any second and he'll kill me if he knew I handed a case file over to an 'other-shifter'. Other then the prints, it's a pretty open-shut case, Detective." She smiled and handed him the case.
"Thanks, thanks a lot. I'll just take it to the coffee room."
Detective Cutler waved him away and he wandered back into the break room. Opening it, the first few sheets were glossy black and white pictures of the murder. Bayliss found himself able to cope better with the photographs then with the actual body. Shot once through the heart, how was that for irony? The killer probably did not even know what had happened to the private investigator before, but it would be an even bigger conspiracy if it *did* have something to do with Mahoney.
Mike had been slammed into the wall by the force of the bullet, or maybe in his attempt to get away, his blood was a red stain on the light colored walls behind him. The trails as he slid down the wall to collapse in a heap at its bottom. He was dead, or at least unconscious, before he hit the ground, and Bayliss was happy that at least he did not suffer. He flipped the next one and got a closer look of the photographs and weapon.
"Well I'll be damned," he muttered, bringing the photograph almost to his nose. A Smith & Wesson snubnose revolver. Compact, small enough to fit in any size belt or strap. Bayliss sighed heavily and turned to another picture, an unneeded close up of Mike's face. The head was against the wall with and he had a trail of blood seeping out of the corner of his mouth and running down .
Next was the report, he flipped through that to the autopsy findings.
--Kellerman, Michael Scott had died of injuries to the spinal cord due to gun shot wound(s) that entered from the front chest. Died acutely. Bullet passed through right ventricle and straight through right lung. The tissue located on the back of the victim ruptured though bullet did not pass through. Bullet was found lodged in the fifteenth vertebrae. Spinal cord severed and irreparable damage done to vital organs located in chest cavity. --
So nothing could have been done to save him even if he had not died on impact. It was not a bleed out either, just death, and quick at that. He shuddered when he remembered how he was shot in the back and closed the file. He fingered the red folder and then picked it up, wanting to leave the suffocating squadroom.
He walked quickly to Detective Cutler, and set the case file on her desk.
"Yeah... uh, solve this one, please. It would mean a lot."
"Sure, Detective Bayliss. I'll do what I can."
He gave her a pitifully grateful look and hurried to get out of the squadroom as fast as he could manage.
Meldrick was lying on his couch when his door was knocked heavily upon. He groaned and hoped that whoever it was would go away and leave him alone. He knew what he needed. Right now he needed a big... no, huge bottle of... Jim Beam. He wasn't a bourbon man, but it would be like one last tribute to Mikey.
The knocking became more insistent and he heard Bayliss yell through the door to let him in.
"Fuck you, Bayliss," he mumbled, but swung his legs out to open the door anyway. Tim looked vaguely annoyed by the time he cracked open the apartment door and he just looked out silently.
"Can I come in?"
"I got a look at the case file for Mike," he said, and smiled grimly when the door swung open.
"What did it say?"
Bayliss stepped in and looked around briefly then looked back to Lewis's weary face.
"He died instantly, Meldrick. No pain, it severed his spinal cord."
Meldrick put a hand to his face and dragged it down.
"That's... good. I guess. Is it good, Tim?"
"Um," Bayliss looked at the floor, "Yeah, I mean. There's no pain, right? C'mon Meldrick, no one would have found him in time. It was by chance that a 'concerned' citizen heard a gunshot and called the cops--"
"I want to see it," Meldrick said suddenly.
"S- see what?" Bayliss sputtered.
"Where Mikey died, I wanna see it."
Bayliss sighed, and put his hand on Meldrick's shoulder. Lewis started to breathe heavier, and finally he just threw his hands up.
"I don't know what to say, God damn it! I don't know what to tell everyone when they ask me how I feel, what to put on his headstone! I don't know what to do about it, and quite frankly Bayliss, I don't think it's a big thing to ask to just see where he died!" He yelled, walking back to his couch.
"Either you take me to where he died, or get outta here, Timmy," Meldrick said in a frighteningly calm voice.
"Fine. I'll take you there, but I don't know how it'll help you. What could seeing the scene do?"
Meldrick shrugged and reached for the jacket that had been thrown on the floor. He slipped it on and followed Bayliss out of his apartment, not caring to lock the door behind him.
Bayliss racked his brain for the address, and pulled up to a small alleyway.
"This is it?" Meldrick asked from beside him.
"Yeah, there's the crime scene tape."
"Can you stay here?"
Tim nodded and turned off the car. Meldrick opened the door and stepped out. He walked down the alley, and as he did his head spun until he had to navigate to a wall to hold himself upright. He closed his eyes and waited until the nausea passed, before continuing down the narrow way.
He pushed open the door after walking through fallen, yellow tape and stepped in. One quick look at the nameplate on the desk told him that this was Mike's office. He turned and looked around for the marks and found it on the wall directly to the right of him. The blood was still there, dry and brown now, and he could see where it was starting to flake off. He swallowed and walked closer to the wall.
A layer of fine powder covered everything, and he brushed the side of his palm against a file cabinet to see. Fingerprinting powder. The air was full of it, he could tell by now; the dust tickled his nose as he sank down to crouch on the balls of his feet. He reached in his coat pocket for the latex gloves he always carried around.
Snapping them on, he felt the world narrow to the wall and the dried pool of blood on the wood floor. Why hadn't they come to clean it yet? It had been at least forty-eight hours since he died. Long enough to get the funeral arrangements, but it was still there. A giant brown-red stain on the cream wallpaper. He fell onto his backside and pushed back until his back met the desk. He closed his eyes and felt the moisture.
This was where he died. Shot, like some cornerboy making a sale. Just like that and he's gone, could not say goodbye, could not make things right. He was trying, too; at least that was what Julianna had told him. He wanted to be... friends again. When did they stop being friends? He took several deep breaths and steadied himself before trying to pick himself up.
He turned to the desk and walked around it. Standing behind it he opened a drawer and reached in. His hand closed around a pill-bottle.
The label read 'Thiamin Mononitrate'. He opened the door wider and found it almost full of prescription bottles with other names like, ' Calciferol ' and 'D-alpha Tocopheryl Succinate'. There were also other non-prescription bottles that labeled 'Protein V-100' and others just like it. Meldrick cursed and started to stuff the bottles in his pockets. He would talk to Julie C. about this.
Bayliss saw the bulging pockets, but said nothing.
"I need to get to a phone, can you drive me home?" He said quickly.
"Sure, but don't you want to know what else was in the case file?"
Meldrick nodded, smoothing a hand over his pockets.
"Meldrick, there were prints all over the gun. There's no way that there is going to be a screw up now. The lab is having some trouble, but once they get the prints, Detective Cutler and whoever she partners with, will go and pick up Mikey's killer."
"Thas good to know," Lewis said meekly.
"Right, do you want me to ask her to contact you when they bring him in?"
Meldrick nodded again, this time a hand slipping into his pockets. Tim shook his head and pulled up in front of Lewis's apartment. The detective got out, but before he left, turned.
"Hey man, thanks for taking me."
"No problem, I'll call if anything comes up."
Meldrick rushed upstairs to his apartment and pushed in. He ran to the phone and punched in the number Cox had given him before letting him go after the funeral, a motel somewhere downtown.
"Hello?" Her clear voice answered on the other end.
"Did Mikey tell you he was taking all kinds of pills?" He skipped the pleasantries.
"Lewis? No, no he didn't why?"
"I went to his office, and I found a whole damn drawer full of pill bottles, some prescription, some not."
"Read 'em to me," she commanded.
He fished in his pockets to retrieve the bottles.
"Thiamin Mononitrate and Calciferol, those are two of them."
All of a sudden she was laughing, but not too hard. "What, what is it?" He asked.
"Thiamin Mononitrate is Vitamin B, and Calciferol is Vitamin D, Meldrick. I would say that Kellerman was suffering from a case of... very bad malnourishment."
Meldrick gritted his teeth, "I always told that bunk to stop drinking so much."
"He was, I told you that."
"It scared the hell out of me, thought our boy was buying prescription drugs and maybe that was the reason he got capped."
There was silence for a few moments, but he could hear her breathing, so he knew she had not hung up. There was a small sigh before he heard her voice.
"Just because it was malnourishment doesn't mean it wasn't serious. I mean, he had to have been admitted to a hospital... or a clinic to get those prescriptions..."
He stroked his goatee and nodded to himself.
"He did seem kinda thin the last time I saw him."
"Well, he was making an effort to get better. Meldrick, I know for a fact that Gee wouldn't have you working this case, what are you doing?" He put his tongue in his cheek and bit down a little.
"I want to know what happened, the labs held up down here--"
"And you thought you could solve the case, yeah, I hear ya. Meldrick, don't let this get to you all right?"
Meldrick suddenly stood. He was on his feet so quick black spots broke out across his vision.
"Don't let it get to me? How am I supposed to let this pass me by? Sure, Mikey and I had some problems, but I still worked with him for a long time. Don't you remember staying up all night to try to find him when he went off with his no-account brothers? Huh?"
"Just because I didn't want to partner wit him, doesn't mean I wanted him dead," he sat down again, trying to breathe regularly.
"Meldrick, calm down, okay? I just don't want you having a mental break down."
"I miss him, Jules, God I miss him and there's nothin' I can do."
He was perfectly aware of how much of a sap he sounded like, but he did not care.
"Do you want me to come over there, Meldrick?"
"No, I'm cool. Fine."
"Fine, huh? Fucked-up, insecure, neurotic, and emotional?"
He let out a meek laugh and lay back down on the couch cushions, letting a tear squeeze out.
"Yeah, just about. Did you see his face, Jules?"
"Yeah, I saw it," she replied stiffly.
"You saw bodies everyday. Death during happiness, and death during... sorrow. I mean, usually they shape the face into a serene look, right? But he didn't look peaceful--"
"Meldrick, it never does to friends. If you're asking me what I thought he looked like... I dunno, Mel, he wasn't happy. That's all I can say."
"You thought so too? Well, I wouldn't be if I was gonna be locked up in some box, neither."
"I'm here for you, Mel, you know that?"
Meldrick nodded, even though he knew that she could not see him. At that moment, he did not really know what she could do for him.
Bayliss picked up the phone in his bedroom, and listened.
"Oh, hey Cutler."
"Bayliss? You're awake, sorry. Look, the fingerprints came back, and they were inconclusive."
Tim sat straight up in the covers.
"They were too smudged to get a clean print, they're not useable."
"So what are you going to do now?"
"Well, there were pictures at the scene, we're looking into that--"
"Thanks for calling," he breathed.
'What am I going to tell Lewis and Stivers?' he asked himself, putting the cordless gently on the nightstand.
She felt extremely uncomfortable. He was right; the apartment wasn't very nice. It was small and cramped and unbelievably cold. She wondered how much longer she could stay in the wet clothes before pneumonia came a'calling.
"Here," she heard him say. "Sorry, but this is the best that I could find."
She turned around to see him holding a sweatshirt and sweatpants. He didn't expect her to put them on, did he? They looked about twenty sizes too big. She'd be swimming in them. She looked up at him confused.
"I can't wear these."
"It will make you feel warm and toasty," he told her.
She was going to look absolutely ridiculous, but unless she took these clothes off she would be seriously ill very soon and she didn't need that. She reluctantly went to the bathroom to change.
She was actually kind of glad that she had put the sweats on, because besides making her warm and toasty, she was able to put a smile on Lewis' face. It was the first smile that she had seen on him in a long time.
"You look like a little kid playing dress up," he said still smiling.
"Thanks," she muttered. She sat down on the couch next to him.
"How have you been doing?"
Instantly the smile faded. She felt like an idiot for bringing it up. He closed his eyes seeing once again the image of his ex-partner in the coffin. That image would forever stay etched in his memory. He saw the pale skin again, the dark blond hair again. Then he saw the crime scene. Mikey's blood, turning an ordinary office building into a crime
scene. An ordinary PI into a murder victim. His head started pounding again. Would he ever be able to see other things in his head?
"I need to pick out something for the headstone," he mumbled. He put his hands on his head. "My head hurts so much."
"Do you have anything to take for it?" she asked. He didn't answer her. He was quiet, completely quiet for a few seconds and she wondered if he had fallen asleep. Then she heard the noise. He made a choked sound in his throat. "W-what am I supposed to put on the damn stone?" He was crying before he got the sentence out.
"What do you think of when you think of him?" she asked. She tried to recall her own memories of Kellerman. She had so many memories, but kept coming up with nothing.
Why was she having such a hard time remembering? They had been friends for years and she couldn't think of one thing.
Lewis frowned. They had been partners for two years. He had lots of memories of him. He remembered that time they were on that wild goose chase for that woman. That opera singing nutcase who killed her husband. Kellerman made them stop at some cheesy theme park. Then there was the time they had that one case with the dropped bowling ball. Kellerman made them stop at the alley and bowl a few rounds. "We're collecting evidence. Working the case," Mikey had said after bowling his third strike in a row.
"Gee always used to yell at him for wearing jeans," Lewis said. He didn't know where that came from. It was such a stupid, insignificant thing.
She nodded, encouraging him. "And I remember this one time, this was when we first started partnering together...Mikey and I needed a car and Gee told us to take the next available one. Well we're waiting outside and all of a sudden Frank comes driving up. He gets out of the car and tells us to watch it for a second. He leaves and Mike and me...we grab the car."
"Those are good memories." She closed her eyes and leaned her head against the couch. "We used to be friends...like ten years ago."
"You two didn't tell me that you were friends," he said. But then it came to him. He vaguely remembered when he introduced them. "You called him Sir Michael."
"Sir Michael," she echoed. "That was my nickname for him. We had some fun times together."
She looked ready to cry and suddenly the roles had changed. She was grieving, he was counseling. "Tell me some, Terri."
There were so many memories, but she kept coming up with nothing. It wasn't that long ago, but her memories seemed fuzzy, not quiet real as if they had taken place in when she was a little kid. One of those memories where you're not quite sure how much is your own and how much has been supplemented by other people's impressions. She wanted to think of something, needed to think of something that proved that their friendship had meant something. She was only seeing one thing in her mind. The last time she talked to him. She had said such mean things to him, and he had said the same to her. Her Sir Michael hadn't thought that much of her when he grabbed her and called her names. Why was that her only memory?
"Why is it so much easier to remember the bad things?" she asked him sadly.
"I don't know," he said but he understood. He was having the same problem.
"The last time we saw each other..."she shivered. Even in the heavy sweats she still felt so cold. "He hated me so much, Lewis. And I was so angry too."
"He didn't hate you."
"Yes," she argued. "There is so much that I didn't tell you."
"Like when he got rough with you?"
She didn't ask how he knew that. She was too much in her own world. "I deserved it. I was his friend and when everything fell apart...I wasn't."
"I'm starting to wonder if I hadn't talked to Gee, would Mike still be a detective? He wouldn't be a PI. He wouldn't be..."
"Don't say that," Lewis said.
"It's true isn't it," she said. "You probably blame me too." Her voice, usually steady and tinged with reason and sensibility, was now high pitched and hysterical sounding.
"I don't blame you," he said. She was crying a little now. He put his arms around her.
"I'm really tired, Lewis," she whispered.
"You sleep in the bed. I'll take the couch."
"Meldrick, you're a foot taller than me. I'm not letting you take the couch."
He was still holding her and for a moment she didn't want him to leave. It was stupid, it was irrational, but she didn't want to be alone.
"I'm still so cold, Lewis."
"I have an idea," he said somehow reading between the lines.
"Stand up for a second. He stretched his legs out on the couch and he had her lay down next to him. It actually wasn't that uncomfortable. He had slept plenty of times on the huge couch and she really didn't take up that much additional space. Plus it would keep her warm and it would be nice to have someone there with him. He had started to hate being alone. "You have enough room?"
"Mmm-hmm," she said softly, closing her eyes. She was so tired and having him right there was in a weird way...really comforting. He didn't blame her. He wasn't mad at her. Plus he was so warm. Almost as if she didn't realize what she was doing, she snuggled in closer to him. He looked at her a little in surprise and then relaxed.
"Just don't try anything, Stivers."
"I'll behave myself," she assured him.
Soon they were both asleep.
The knock on the door scared her out of a sleep. She looked over at Lewis who was still sleeping peacefully. He needed it. She carefully got up and opened the door.
It was Tim. He looked at her, surprised. "Hey, is Meldrick here?"
She looked over at the couch. "Still asleep."
"Maybe you should wake him up. This is important."
"Okay," she said. She yawned. "What time is it?"
He looked at his watch. "Nine."
"Nine?" she asked. "I didn't think it was that late."
He looked at her obviously just awake wearing a Toronto sweatshirt twenty sizes too big and had to ask. "Hey, Stivers, I know it's none of my business, but..."
"What?" she asked.
He didn't look at her. "I'm not judging you two or anything. Believe me I could see how it could happen. I mean if you two did...
"What the hell are you talking about Tim?"
"You spending the night and everything. I know that you two are probably depending on each other now and I can understand that...but..."
She finally understood what he was babbling about. She rolled her eyes at him. Men.
"You're right, Tim. It isn't your business, but since you're so ready to give advice and everything, I'll tell you. Nothing happened."
He looked embarrassed. "Sorry."
"It's okay," she said. "I didn't mean to snap at you. I just didn't get much sleep. So what's so important?"
"Wake him up. You both need to hear this."
"The prints were supposed to lead us right to this guy. They were just going to go and pick up Mikey's killer. Didn't you say that to me not too long ago, Timmy?" Lewis asked.
Tim frowned. "I was so sure. But they got smudged so they couldn't get a clear read on it. I'm really sorry."
Terri looked right at Tim. "So what's happening now?"
"Cutler, the detective working on the case, said that there were some pictures found at the scene. I guess they are going to try to identify who was in the picture."
"Assuming, Timmy, that the people in the photo are identified, who is to say that there even is a connection? Maybe Mikey was looking over some case a month old when he got capped. Maybe Mikey just had the pictures, huh? Maybe you ain't never gonna find this guy, huh?"
"Lewis," she said, her voice calm again, no hint of the hysteria of last night, "Tim was friends with Mikey too. Don't you think that Tim will do everything that he can to see that this bastard is found?"
"I'm trying, Meldrick, I really am. Cutler is going to call me if she finds out anything more. They've been studying the crime scene. They know what they're doing. They'll find who did this."
"Who's to say, Timmy? Ya know how many cases stay red despite us knowing what we're doing? We don't always find our guy. Why would they?"
"Look, Meldrick I'm sorry," Tim shrugged helplessly. Terri stepped in between the man and looked Meldrick in the eye.
"Stop bothering poor Bayliss, he can't help it if the fingerprints got ruined."
Meldrick nodded and put a hand to his chin and rubbed at his goatee. He suddenly looked up pointing at Tim.
"I want the name and badge number of the uniform that was in charge of collecting the prints," Meldrick said.
"Goddammit, Meldrick!" Terri yelled, "Ruining some cops career isn't going to help Mike. C'mon," her voice softened, "you know they'll find the person who did it."
"No I don't! You've seen it, murderers going scott free because we can't get enough evidence to charge them, or we don't even find them in the first place. You /know/ that Terri, you work with Falsone."
Terri let her shoulders slump, and Meldrick nodded. There was not anything that could be said. Bayliss looked around the cold apartment and shivered under his light dress shirt. He could only imagine what those two were going through right now. He had not said anything when Stivers had claimed Mike and he to be friends. Sure, they worked a couple of cases and talked, but nothing that could resemble the bond that Meldrick had shared, or Terri. He just adverted his eyes from their pale and drawn faces; they needed this case to be solved.
"I'm sorry," He said again. Looking up, he saw Meldrick's eyes shut tight with frustration, and a tear make a track down his cheek.
"Terri's right, and nothin' you could have done..."
"I could have done something," She said suddenly, "I should have stayed and done my job as a detective; supervising and protecting the crime scene and all of the evidence and evidence gathering by police officers therein," she quoted, "But instead I... I ran and let Falsone take me back. I don't even know who did the investigations there."
Bayliss put a weak hand on her back and checked his watch. He felt immensely guilty, but he had to get back to work. He didn't want to tell Meldrick that when he got there early to talk to Cutler, he saw the name on the board. Kellerman. In bright red letters, it was horribly solemnizing. Gee had even stopped in front of the board, drawing his hands behind him, he bent his head.
"He had a problem, before he was killed," Meldrick said suddenly, more to Terri then Bayliss, "I found pills in his office, a lot of them. He was malnourished or something."
"He had a problem before, too," Terri said, "If you had said something I could have told you about it. It happened after he found out about Annie. He didn't eat /anything/. I swear he never ate breakfast, lunch, or dinner. He wouldn't even drink coffee. Mike finally got so sick at work," she sighed and put a hand to her forehead, "that he passed out and we had to call an ambulance. He was fed on an IV for weeks. It was terrible, he tortured himself..."
Tim shook his head and sighed.
"I have to go, I am sorry, and I hope you guys get to feeling better. I'll work with Cutler unofficially on this, try to help out you know."
"Thanks for telling coming," Meldrick said, taking a deep breath.
"No problem, I know he meant a lot, even if you guys..." Bayliss stopped and coughed. Ducking out the door, he saved himself from answering to the rueful looks on their faces.
Terri nodded, "It's true, I was expecting him to do it all last year after Mahoney. I don't know why he didn't. Maybe he kept hope up."
"I still don't know what to put on his headstone," whispered Meldrick, turning to go find a piece of paper, "will you help me?"
"Sure, I'll help, since I'm up now."
Meldrick rooted around in his kitchen drawer until he found a pen, then took a seat next to her on the couch and scratched out the traditional headstone part first.
'Michael Scott Kellerman 1964-1999..."
And that was as far as he could get before angry tears blurred his vision. Terri put her small arms around his shoulders and leaned into him as he blinked them away.
"This ain't helping..."
"It's not you... I want to go to his boat, maybe I'll think of something there..."
Terri shrugged, and Meldrick stood. He didn't even put on shoes as he made his way to the door,
"This is important."
"I know," she whispered, and followed him.
Tim leaned back in the chair and looked toward Gee's office. The door was slightly ajar and two men that he recognized vaguely. They were getting louder as the argument inside his office progressed.
"What do you mean we can't /have/ it?" One asked.
"C'mon Lieutenant, I thought you said he was a good detective..." The other whined.
"I don't have it, all badges are turned in and recycled through the department!" Gee roared. The men shrunk back and fell into each other.
"Jesus, we just want his badge," the one in glasses said.
"OUT!" Gee yelled. The squadroom went silent, and everyone looked over at the door with odd expressions on their faces. The two men scuttled out. Then Gee said softer, "I'll see what I can do."
The frowns on the men's faces lifted and one even had the audacity to walk back up to him and clap Giardello on the back.
"I knew you were a reasonable man, no wonder my brother could work for you."
Gee gave one of his patented 'killer' smiles and nodded. The one that had stayed back grabbed the other's arms and pulled him toward the door. Tim heard a snippet of their conversation,
"I can't believe Mike /wanted/ to be a cop."
"Shut up man," the other mumbled.
"Hey," Tim yelled, frowning.
The men turned and looked Bayliss over.
"You talking to us?"
"Yeah, come over here," the men did as they were told, "you knew Mike?"
The one in glasses rolled his eyes.
"Well, duh, we're his brothers I'm Drew and this is Greg," Drew said. He held a hand out and smiled brightly. Greg nodded, but didn't smile.
"Oh... I'm Detective Tim Bayliss, I'm sorry about... your loss."
"Well, some of us have to be," The dark-haired man; now identified as Greg, said, glaring at his brother.
"Hey now, I miss the little bastard, just... some of us have better ways to show mourning then moping about," The smile on his face faltered as Drew said it. He ran a hand through his bright red hair and summoned up another one.
"And you want Mike's badge?"
"Yeah," Greg replied, "We were hoping to give him something before they put
"Uh huh, we never did anything else for the guy you know," coughed Drew.
"Oh," Tim said.
"Yeah, we're goin' to go to his boat now, get the stuff like /mom asked us to/," pushed Greg.
"What's got into you, relax, bye Detective Bayliss."
Bayliss nodded to them and let out a loud breath, leaning back to drum his fingers on the desk.
"It's unlocked," Meldrick said, pushing open the door. Terri walked in behind him and nodded. She had never been to his new boat, but she had been to the one he had had before coming to Homicide. He had invited her over for dinner, and she was skeptical until she had found that he could really cook. Her breath caught and Meldrick looked back for a second.
He wanted to tell her about the time Mike had held a gun to his head, but he had promised never to tell anyone. Just because he was dead, does that mean he could break a promise to him? He had already broken so many others. 'No,' he told himself, 'no don't go there.'
"Now we can always do something about the ocean," mused Terri, "or about him being a cop."
"About him being a cop, definitely," a voice called out from behind him. Meldrick whirled around him and groaned when he saw whom it was.
"Hey, it's Meldrick," Drew called.
"C'mon man," Greg said from behind, "let's just get the stuff and go man."
"Don't pay any attention to him," Drew said, "we just got turned down by that /huge/ boss of yours, uh... the lieutenant. We were trying to get Mike's badge, y'know, and he said he'd 'see what he could do'."
"That usually means he'll come through," Terri said, looking to Meldrick for conformation. He just nodded to them, and turned around again.
Greg walked through to the bedroom and called out suddenly.
"Hey Drew, he's got a bed in here! Why do you think he was sleeping on the pullout bed last time?"
"Because it's bigger, idiot," Drew called back, shaking his head, "Don't mind him, he's still a little stunned that Mike's... gone. Hey, do you know anything about it, I mean, we tried to ask your boss but he wouldn't give us anything about it?"
"Nah, I don't have anything on it," Lewis said stiffly. Drew put up his hands in mock surrender and walked back into the bedroom where his brother.
"Who are /they/?" Terri asked, her eyes wide.
"Mikey's twisted brothers," Meldrick whispered close to her ear, looking over towards the door.
Greg came out with Mike's helmet on his head, and carried a box of stuff. He held up a hand that held Mike's keys in it.
"Hey Detective Meldrick," he said, the goofy Greg he had known that day was gone, now he was left with one that almost seemed human. The dark eyes held a grief in them, and when he came back in to collect more stuff, Meldrick grabbed him by the arm.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine, but I mean... he's- he was my little brother. I grew up with him. Drew," Greg moved closer, "he doesn't get Mike, but I do- did." He put a hand over his eyes and backed up into the couch. Drew came out and up into the living room.
"Hey, Greg, it can't be all bad, right? You still got me, and guess what, we can take Mike's boat and go down to Miami!" He jumped up and sat down next to his brother.
"Goddammit! Don't you feel anything you son of a bitch?" Cried Greg, shoving his brother away.
"Jesus, man, c'mon, I miss him too."
Terri and Meldrick stood by them, watching and wondering if there was anything they could do. Stivers had never laid eyes on them before now, and Meldrick confessed he really didn't /know/ them. Greg just sank down until his elbows were on his knees and his hands in his hair, just barely holding him up. Drew leaned back in the couch cushions and looked defeated.
"Hey man," Greg said, still looking at the ground, "when you find who did this," he looked up with cold eyes, "you tell me, so I can kill him. He killed my baby brother, whoever it is /killed/ Mikey." He shook his head furiously; "They can't get away with that."
Terri looked away, her own tears aching to come out.
"And you're gonna help me right?" Greg asked turning to Drew.
"Yeah man, I'm with you. I... yeah, uh huh."
"That's not what Mikey would have wanted," Meldrick said, taking a seat on the top of the refrigerator.
"Oh yeah?" Drew asked, turning his eyes, that were blue like his brothers up to Meldrick, "Well he sure as hell didn't ask to be shot either, but look where he is now! He's gone, and in three days we'll have him a plot and in the ground... and then what? We don't even know who killed him!"
"C'mon, bro. We'll get the rest of the stuff later," Greg said, standing and pulling up Drew's elbow.
"No! I want him to do something! You were Mike's partner right? Don't you know what happened?"
"Drew, let's /go/."
The redhead just shook that head and stormed out. Greg just nodded to them and followed his brother. As the door shut, they heard a scream of anger that echoed throughout the marina. Meldrick took as many ragged breaths as he could before hanging his head as well. It had been a surprising turn of events. First Drew is all spunky, like he doesn't care, and then all of a sudden he blew up.
Terri could tell that the dark-haired one had meant what he said about wanting to kill his brother's killer. She also believed the one with glasses, Drew she guessed, meant it as well.
"I was his partner right? I should have known what was goin' on..." Meldrick said helplessly.
"No, there was no way you could have known. No one knows when /anything's/ going to happen. Please, Meldrick, let's find something to put on his headstone?"
Meldrick nodded and went to sit down in the space that the Kellerman brothers had just vacated.
"I don't know, I'm thinking," Terri was saying distractedly, "He was good police..."
"Something like that..."
"I know," she said suddenly.
"No, it's dumb."
Meldrick shrugged and nodded, if she wanted to tell him that was her choice he trusted her to make good decisions.
"It's okay, I'll think of one tonight, I have 'til tomorrow to get a good one. You keep thinkin' too, though."
"I will," she said softly. Stepping out into the bright day.
"You need a ride home?" He called out as an afterthought.
"No, I'll be fine."
Tim was almost asleep in the breakroom when Gee walked in. Gee smiled at the figure that had its feet up and his head rolled back, eyes closed. He smiled devilishly and walked to the coffee machines. Sheppard was leaned up against the counter, a smug look on her face.
"He's been like that for a while now, Gee," she informed him, the smile growing wider as Tim's head lolled farther to the side.
Gee prepared himself a cup of coffee, then as Sheppard began to walk out, he leaned over Tim and boomed,
"Sleeping on the job, Detective Bayliss?"
Tim woke out of his doze with a start, almost falling out of his chair in the process. Gee leaned back as Bayliss's arms flailed out to find purchase, coming to rest on the wall and pulling himself back down to the floor with it.
"Come to my office when you feel more... awake," Gee smiled, walking past him back to his office.
Tim gave his own smile and soon got up and followed. He walked into the open door, and closed it after years of being a detective for Giardello. His boss smiled, and Bayliss saw the empty coffee cup near the trash can, and saw the splatters of poured coffee down the side.
"I remember," said Gee suddenly, "when Detective Kellerman was under investigation for Bribery, and he was on administrative duties. He made the coffee. Those weeks, those were the only time I had ever dared to drink the disaster that comes from those pots," Gee smiled, waving a hand to the windows. He stood and continued, "Kellerman made a good pot of coffee, and for a few weeks I didn't have to rely on walking to the Daily Grind every morning for some brew."
Gee looked over at him and fell silent, "What did you think of it?"
"I didn't really notice--" Tim started.
"That's just it, you didn't notice. I'm sure if you go out there and ask Munch; he won't even know what you're talking about. But me, I know everything that occurs in this squadroom, and Kellerman's coffee was /the/ best that has ever been made. But you and the rest of the detective's didn't notice it, didn't notice him."
"I'm not finished, Detective Bayliss. What did you notice about Kellerman when he was here?"
"Well, he was a good detective until about... a year before he left. He partnered with Lewis until Lewis partnered with Falsone, and then he was with Munch. He drank a lot, and that's... that's all I can remember about when he was here."
"So, you're saying you remember very little..."
Bayliss nodded, still standing. Gee gestured to the chair, and Tim sat with a thankful smile on his face.
"I remember a brash young detective that whipped you and Frank in the box, a modest, truthful and respectful detective that earned my trust through countless cases and tribulations. I had good faith in him; Lewis and he were a good match. Then, the accusations came, and don't think I didn't see anything, remember; I know everything that goes on in my squadroom. I just felt that he could deal with it, like maybe you did. But he could not, and he killed Mahoney."
Tim felt a sinking feeling in his stomach. He was still undecided over his feelings over Mike when it came to the shoot out in the squadroom, but he had forgiven him, and he was going to stick to it. He just didn't know what it was that kept bothering him.
"Tim, I sometimes wonder what kept Kellerman from coming to me. Sometimes I think it was I, what kind of superior was I so that my own detective could not come to me? But then I realized it. It was when Frank had him in the box, and he had to hand over his badge. It was the badge Detective Bayliss, that piece of metal, which kept him from coming to tell me. He needed to be a cop," Gee sighed, and went back to his desk, and opened a drawer.
Bayliss could place bets on what Gee was about to pull out, and he was not disappointed. His Lieutenant pulled out a badge that was silver and the leather backing a little scuffed up. Gee turned the palm-sized thing over and over, revealing the clip that had fastened it to Mike's side.
"What do you think, Detective, went through Mike's head every time he looked down at this, and knew he had killed someone. Those two idiots that were in here earlier were asking me for something that I could have given them, but I didn't want to. I keep this," he reached across the desk and held it out, Bayliss leaned forward from his chair and took it, "to remind me how important that is to you. I don't blame Kellerman, yes, it was very poor judgement, and if he had come to me... maybe... just maybe we could have figured something out..." Gee shrugged.
Tim felt the worn badge, and slid his thumb across the smooth ridges. He reached down and felt his own badge, and unclipped his. Holding them both out, the corner of his mouth twitched.
"Give it to who you want, Detective, I'll just have to be reminded by his name on that board."
Tim held out the badge, and Meldrick closed his hand over it slowly.
"Gee had it the whole time, huh?"
"Yeah," Bayliss said, swallowing.
"Mikey... he always wanted to be a good cop, he tried, but..." Meldrick closed his eyes and rubbed the warm metal, "It's just a fucking lump of metal, Bayliss, but he wanted to live by it so bad. Bastard."
"Meldrick," Tim said simply.
"I'm fine, I jus' need to be alone."
Tim nodded his submission, turning to walk away down the hall. He heard the sound of the door slam, and then suddenly it opened again.
"Hey, Timmy, wait," Meldrick called. Bayliss turned around, and he saw something else in Lewis's hand.
He came back and took the photograph that Meldrick held out. Smiling sadly, Bayliss shook his head. Without another word, both men turned and walked away from each other, too upset to say goodbye.
Bayliss returned to his desk, and stuffed the glossy picture into the frame along with that of Kelly. It was then he saw a familiar red head walk in through the door, and straight for the board. A hand shot out and pulled it back from the wall, far enough for her to tilt it up. Bayliss looked away, but when he looked back he saw a horrified face that turned to him, and a small tear.
Not seeing anyone else she knew, she turned to him when her eyes came back upon him.
"It's true," she said simply. Bayliss nodded.
"Was it bad?"
"Not really, he was shot."
Kay sat down in the chair next to his and tapped it softly.
"Not... not good. He and Stivers are really, really not doing well. How are you?"
"I'm fine, Timmy, just had to come down here and see if it was true," her eyes darted back to the board she had left slightly upturned, just enough so the red 'Kellerman' jumped right out at them, "How did he die? Where... God, I'm a mess."
"Like I said, shot once through the chest and straight to his back where it lodged in his spine," it hurt to say it, worse when she was here, because he could see the horror on her face, and the disbelief.
"They have the funeral yet, Bayliss?" She asked stiffly. She was strong, and Tim knew if anyone didn't cry, it would be her.
"The indoor one, but the dirt lowering will be three days from now."
"I'll make sure I go, get some details for me, huh?"
"I thought of one," Terri said softly to him, it was late again, and he had called again, "Loved By Family, Forgiven By Friends, Forever Good Police." She spoke each syllable and held her breath, willing the tears to go away.
"I... I like that," Meldrick whispered, burying his head in the pillows again, barely able to hold the phone to his ear.
"Good, I thought it covered... everything we needed to say."
Lewis nodded, knowing that Terri couldn't see anything.
The damned aspirin bottle was empty. That was not a good thing. How could one be expected to go to their ex-partner's funeral without a bottle of painkillers handy? Or a bottle of Jim Beam for that matter? The funeral was in a few hours. What was he supposed to do before that? What do you do before you bury someone? Watch a baseball game? Check your email? He wanted to call someone, anyone. "I'm Detective Lewis. Perhaps you remember me. I'm the one who told you that your cousin/ husband/ sister was brutally murdered. I just have a little question for you. What did you do right before the funeral? Oh you had family? No, I have no one."
He closed his eyes. He was still having trouble sleeping. The last time he had slept well was that night that he slept on the couch with Terri. He used to dislike having people around him, now it was like he didn't know what to do when he was alone. Like he didn't know how to sleep if someone wasn't there to tell him how.
His head hurt so much again. He took his shoes off and stretched out on the couch. He was so tired, but he wouldn't be able to sleep. He knew that. He wouldn't be able to sl...
...eep...He was having such a problem sleeping. He looked at his watch to find out that it was a half an hour later than when he first closed his eyes. Maybe he had been asleep.
There was a knock on the door. He got up, stretched and opened the door.
"Hi," she said.
"You're early," he muttered. He didn't mean to be rude, but his head was still killing him.
"Have you eaten?" she asked him, unfazed by his brusqueness.
"Today?" he asked her. He hadn't eaten much for a week. It probably wasn't good for him.
She gave him a weird look. "Yes, today."
"No, not really."
"Here," she said. She handed him a bag. "Lunch."
He set the bag on the table without interest. "You got any aspirin in your purse there?"
She sat down at the table. She didn't answer him. Instead she took two foil wrapped sandwiches out of the bag. She also took out two bags of potato chips.
He had to admit that whatever she had there smelled good. She didn't pay any attention to him. Instead she opened one of the sandwiches and began eating. He had to ask.
"What do you got there, Terri?"
She took one of the napkins that was in her mysterious bag and wiped her chin. "Very messy cheesesteak sandwiches, Lewis. I brought you lunch. You should probably at least say thanks."
"Thanks," he said. She had a point. And he suddenly felt hungry. He grabbed the other sandwich and began quickly eating it.
Was this the answer to the his question? Was this what you did before a funeral? Have someone bring you sandwiches? Your favorite type of sandwich?
"How did you know that I love these?" he asked her curious.
"Right after you regained consciousness after your little car accident, you demanded that I get you a cheesesteak sandwich immediately," she said opening her bag of chips carefully, trying to avoid getting her dress dirty.
"Did you?" It was funny, but he couldn't remember.
She smiled at him. "Of course I did. I was really nervous, Meldrick. I thought that you might die and when you gave a sign that you were okay, I did what you said."
"Gee said that you were the only one who visited me," Lewis said. Like recalling when she called Kellerman Sir Michael, a memory, which he thought was useless, had come back to him.
"Yeah," she said. She looked at him with concern. "You really haven't been eating?"
"Sometimes yes, sometimes no," he said. He knew that she was worried, that she could see some connection between and Mikey. "I'm okay, Stivers."
"Okay," she said.
But she still looked worried and he lightly touched her arm.
"Don't worry about me," he told her.
Her expression had changed. Suddenly she looked more tired, more subdued. "I need to worry about you, Lewis. It keeps my mind off of... things."
Tim rubbed his arms. He looked up at the sky. It was an ominous dark grey color looking like it any second it would start pouring again.
He looked around for either Lewis or Stivers. He had news for them. Not important news, not a signed confession from the person who shot Mike, not anything like that. It wasn't even really news, just something he had to tell them.
He was in such an awkward position, one that he didn't remember volunteering for. Why was he the one involved in the case? He had known Mike sure, not half as well as Lewis or Stivers knew him, but knew him better than many of the detectives on his shift. This shouldn't be his job.
Finally Lewis and Stivers showed up. He was in a suit, she was in a simple black dress. Tim walked up to them.
"How are you two doing?" Tim asked feeling a little guilty about his earlier thoughts.
"I... wanted to say I'm sorry Timmy. I know that you are trying to help," Lewis said. He looked up at the dark sky and then back at Tim. "I shouldn't have yelled at you and everything."
Now Tim felt extremely guilty. "It's okay. Listen, I talked to Frank last night. He said to tell you that he's sorry about what happened."
Lewis looked uncomfortable. "Guess news travels fast, huh? Tell him thanks, I guess, Timmy."
"I'm going to go talk to Gee," Stivers said. "I'll be right back."
"Okay," they both said.
After she left, Meldrick looked at Tim. "Have you guys found anything yet?"
"I haven't talked to Cutler since that day I came over to your apartment. I was planning to call her soon, to see how everything was going," Tim said.
"Good. You keep me informed, huh?. And tell her to...to...I don't even know what to tell you to tell her."
"She's really good, Meldrick. I don't need to tell her everything."
"Yeah, but..." he struggled to put his jumbled thoughts into words. "She needs to find this guy."
"I know she does," Tim said. "How are you doing?"
How was he doing? "I don't know."
Well that was honest if not really informative. "Yeah?"
"I don't know," he repeated.
"Are you two coming back to work next week?"
Lewis didn't look at him. "Maybe. I don't know about her."
"She taking good care of you?"
"Yeah. She brings me sandwiches and lets me call her late at night. I don't deserve her," he said trying to laugh a little. He failed.
"Look, I'm sure you're helping her as much as she's helping you," he said.
"Yeah, I guess."
"Lewis," now it was Bayliss who wasn't exactly sure how to say what he wanted to. "I want you to know that if you ever want to talk... I know we aren't really that close, but I want you to know that I'm here for you."
"Hell, Tim, I know," he said. He left it at that though. He never was good with all the emotional crap.
"You ready to sit down?" Tim asked.
"I guess," Lewis said. How did one get ready for this kind of thing? His headache was back. "Hey, Timmy, you got any aspirin?"
"I'm sure someone does," Tim said nodding toward the people sitting down. He felt very awkward. Should he give Lewis a hug? A pat on the back? Nothing at all? Thinking of hugs reminded him of that throwaway conversation he had with Mike that one time. "Do you and Lewis hug?" He smiled a little thinking of that and the time he was on the boat with Mike.
"Lewis," Tim began. "Do you want a hug?"
He looked at Tim like he didn't know him. How well did he know him? They had been on homicide for seven years together and they also co-owned a bar. Why did he suddenly feel like Tim was a stranger?
Everyone there...Munch, Gee... he didn't know these people any more than they knew him. Did that mean that they didn't know Mikey either? Why were they there if they didn't know Mikey? These people didn't know him or Mikey. This epiphany hit him hard and he stepped back looking at Tim a little strangely. "My head hurts, Timmy. Really bad this time."
"Can you make it to where people are? You know women always have aspirin in their purse. If Terri doesn't, I'm sure Cox or Howard does."
"Howard?" Lewis asked. "She's here?"
"Yeah, she's here too. Can you make it okay?"
Lewis squinted. "Yeah, Timmy, I can make it. Just..."
"I don't know. What do you do when someone's in trouble? Just let me lean on you so I don't pass out and fall on my ass."
"Okay," Tim said letting him do that. "But I warn you, people may talk." Where had that come from? A stupid aside at the most inappropriate time was definitely not him. Munch must be rubbing off on him.
Lewis couldn't help himself. Sometimes a stupid aside at the most inappropriate time was just what he needed. He snickered. "Just don't put it on any website."
"I promise," he said as he led Lewis to where people were sitting.
The stone was a dark blueish-gray that reminded Lewis of Mike's eyes when he was troubled. The little inscription that Terri had helped him find was chiseled into the polished granite, along with his name and the dates. The immediate family was there, Greg and Drew, Mike's sister, his mom and dad. Greg nodded to him, and Drew just looked at the grave like it was anchor, something to keep him tied to this world.
Howard was there, and she took a seat next to him on one side. She found his hand and clutched it, and he looked into her eyes.
"How are you, Meldrick?" She asked softly.
"Hey, Sarge. I've been better," he gave a small, but grateful smile when she produced a bottle of aspirin.
"I remember when I had to sit through Beau's funeral. It was one of the hardest things I had to do. I know what it's like to bury an ex-partner, Lewis, so if you need someone else to talk to, just call me, huh?"
Meldrick nodded, and Kay patted his hand, moving one seat down so Terri could join him in the front row. Gee sat behind him, and put a hand on his shoulder. It was a normal funeral, except... it wasn't. It was deeper then going to the funerals of victims that you'd investigated, but it had the same surreal-ness. Everyone around you is crying, but you can't, or won't.
He saw a new face, and Mrs. Kellerman tensed immediately.
"I thought you couldn't come," she asked harshly. The new arrival shrugged and walked past.
It was a short, dark-haired woman that could have looked like Julianna, but wasn't as exotic in the face. She took the empty seat next to him, and when he looked at her, she held her hand out tentatively.
"I'm Annie Kellerman," she whispered.
Lewis took her hand because he didn't know what else to do. He remembered when Kellerman had told him about her cheating. Meldrick could have thought of better things to do then shake her hand, but he held it in. Stivers glared at her, and Annie looked away from the hate. Lewis looked to Terri, who just shook her head and pursed her lips.
Greg and Drew stood at the end of the rights, and each took shovels. The priest said the last words, and they both took a heap of dirt and over turned it into the ground. Drew went for another scoop, and Greg put a hand on his shoulder, but he tossed it off.
"C'mon man, let's go," Greg whispered, putting both hands on his brothers shoulders.
"See ya around, little brother," Drew said loudly. Mrs. Kellerman sniffled, and Mr. Kellerman looked to the ground. Meldrick looked at the family, and all he saw was pain and emotion. He wondered why he couldn't cry for Mike, and then felt himself slump in the chair. Terri stood and walked to the edge of the grave and looked down. Pulling his hand from Mike's ex-wife's, he followed.
"I guess this is it?" Terri said.
"Nah, we can visit him every week if we want to."
They both nodded, and Meldrick reached into his pocket. Drew still stood off to his side, like he was guarding the place. As Meldrick passed him, he produced the silver tin, and placed it in his hand. Drew looked up at him with a pitiful gratefulness and nodded his thanks. Greg looked over Drew's shoulder, and reached for it.
Meldrick didn't stay to see what they did with the badge, but he could probably bet that Mike was buried with his most prized possession after all.
"I found something," she said to him. This was their third late-night conversation. This time she had called him.
"What?" he asked her.
"I was looking for something, anything...like proof that Mikey and I were friends before...well before."
"What did you find?"
"It's a picture from one of those photo places, where you get dressed up in silly costumes."
"It's like from eight years ago. It's so weird to look at. Mike is dressed up in this ancient looking formal wear type outfit. He looks like he's from the thirties or something."
"What about you?"
"I look like some Southern belle type. I'm wearing this huge dress with all these underskirts or petticoats or whatever underneath."
"Yeah except..." she giggled. The first time that she had in a long time. "This was before I had my hair really short. They couldn't fit a wig on over my hair. So I'm wearing this old fashioned stuffy looking dress and I've got like zillions of braids hanging down."
"Zillions of braids?" he asked her in disbelief. That didn't really go with the image he had of her.
She giggled again. "I'm only thirty, Meldrick. I was twenty-two when this was taken. What did you look like when you were twenty-two?"
"Don't really remember. Will you let me see it?"
"The picture? Of course I will."
"I have a picture of my own to show you." He said thinking of the one taken at her surprise party.
"Good. You want to come over tomorrow?"
"Okay. Are you doing okay, Meldrick?"
"I was till you asked me," he said a little sharper than he intended.
"Sorry," she said quickly.
He could hear the hurt in her voice, but wasn't in the mood to deal with things right now. He sighed. "Look, Stivers, it's been a long day. I'll call you sometime tomorrow, okay?"
"Okay," she said and hung up.
"Yeah. Look Bayliss, we need to talk as soon as possible."
"Yeah, I'll be over in an hour."
Cutler motioned to Bonaventura and he left his discussion with a uniform to come and join her at her desk. There was a smile on his face and she assumed the uniform had been telling him the latest gossip that was going on during the other shift.
"You should hear some of these tales this kid is spinning about Detective Falsone," he said happily in his gruff voice.
"That's great, Tony, but I need to stop by Kellerman's office before heading to Bayliss's place."
Detective Bonaventura frowned and leaned back in his chair and sighed, a headache apparently growing behind his eyes. She knew he did not like her sharing information with the other shift, but that was what she felt like she had to do. Their argument earlier had consisted of him pleading with her, which was rare.
"Ray, you don't have to tell them everything," her partner had said with another frown.
"Tony, it's not everyone, only Tim."
"Oh now it's Tim instead of Detective Bayliss. Ray, c'mon, this is our investigation."
"They have a right to know how the investigation is going, Kellerman was one of their detectives."
As the argument flashed just under her mind, she stood, not wanting to have it again. Knowing there was no argument; Bonaventura let her collect her coat. She smiled with thanks for his lack of restriction. Hell, she shouldn't feel this way anyway; he was her partner, not her soul mate.
Her car was still in its usual spot in the garage, and she took it instead of the department's Cavalier. There was no reason to go through all the procedure necessary to get a car when she could use hers. Lieutenant Neal would most likely have questions, but hopefully she would have a name in black, an ex-cop's name in black, to show for her little procedure break.
She climbed behind the wheel and turned the key in the familiar ignition, sighing with relief as she felt the change between the resisting Cavalier starter and her smooth one. The car wasn't brand new, but it was hers, and as she drove out of the garage, she waved to the uniform controlling the traffic in and out.
The address to Kellerman's office was etched in her memory and she was sure that she would not forget it anytime soon. She pulled up along the curb and looked quickly up and down the street. Smiling, she exited the car and walked down the narrow, nearly claustrophobic alleyway that led between two, two-story buildings. Running a hand through her short brown hair, she ducked under the crime scene tape that had come loose from its moors and was flapping high in the air as strong currents of wind blew through the gap in-between the buildings.
She took a key for the office and tried the door, it was open and she frowned, readying herself for a destroyed crime scene and desecrated death place. When she stepped in, she expelled a breath when she saw that the area was completely as it was the first time she had laid eyes on it. The very same. Even the blood was still there, but it had flaked off where it had dried. More brown then red, the blood gave off an odor of decay that made Detective Cutler's nose wrinkle.
She stepped around the dried blood pool and approached a file cabinet. The uniforms that had covered the scene had taken out the files requested, but she still did not know about the other ones that he might have had. Maybe the pictures did have something to do with the crime, and then maybe they did not. It was a puzzle that she needed to figure out. No, not needed, had to figure out. Not for herself, but for Bayliss and the other squad, who knew the name was on the other side of the board, searing through the plywood.
Ray was grateful when the drawer slid open easily, instead of her having to go and find a key that could or could not exist any longer. Inside were simple file-folders with a name scratched out with a Sharpie on the tab. They weren't necessarily in alphabetical order, but it was close enough. She slid the first one out and read the info that had been done on simple legal pads. Notes and dates, times and findings. He had written everything down. If she didn't know better, and she didn't, she would have thought that PI work was a lot more paperwork then a detective. She mused on this while skimming through the notes of the first case in the drawer.
As her feet began to tell her she had been standing too long, she took out a handful of folders and made her way to his desk. She sat down in the simple office chair, and looked across its top. Reaching out, she grasped the green nameplate that read 'Mike Kellerman, Private Investigator' engraved in the light plastic. Just seeing the words made her wonder what it was like to give up your badge, and she shied away from those thoughts and set down the nameplate, compulsively putting it back in its place. Just because the man was dead, didn't mean he wanted his office messed up by some nosy detective.
The first four folders were, what she now referred to as, 'average husbands cheating on their wives', but the fifth one caught her interest. She slid the photographs out of the manila folder held in the file folder and gazed at them with an analytical eye. The woman looked like the one in the pictures found, but it could be a coincidence. A lot of women had dark brown hair, were short and had distinct features, she knew because she was one of them.
Tucking the folder away to the side, she continued through the others, not finding anymore that had anything to do with the murder. At least not through her perspective. She stood up and went back to the filing cabinet, trying to avoid looking at the stained wall, or the ruined, wooden floor. The dark brown planks that stretched across the room's bottom now had a permanent stain where the blood had been.
Cutler had to look down though. She stepped closer to the wall and stood against it, facing the direction Kellerman must have been facing. The perp must have been sitting in the chair that was in front of the desk. What the PI had been doing against the wall was anybody's guess, but maybe if he had been behind his desk, he could have ducked. Ray diverted her thoughts from what could have been. She hated how she was turning this into a personal mission on her part, and she knew she kept coming back to this, but she didn't even know the man, but he had been a cop. A fellow Homicide detective. And even if she had heard the rumors about Mahoney, she knew he had been a good detective by the caring shown by Bayliss.
Taking the case files she had set aside, she walked back to her car, and headed to Tim's place.
"I saw a woman like that at Kellerman's funeral. I think... I think it was his ex-wife, Annie. I asked Stivers about her since she looked like she knew her," Bayliss said, answering Cutler's question about whether he recognized any of the women in the pictures.
"His ex? Could there be some connection between Annie Kellerman and Michael Kellerman after all these years?"
"You'd have to ask his partners, Lewis or Munch, I didn't really know him that well."
Cutler nodded and wrote down notes. They were sitting in Tim's living room, across from each other. Ray had spread the case files from Kellerman's office, and the case file of his murder on the floor. Tim was reading through the notes compiled by the uniforms at the scene and her notes as well.
"The uniforms did a decent job," he commented, noting specifics of the scene that had been transcribed into the notes.
"Decent, but not perfect," Ray sighed, "it would have helped immensely if I could have been there before they took the body."
Bayliss nodded and replaced the notes in the file, taking out the report in its place. He had already looked through the report, but it comforted him to read it again. The time that the neighbor called the police after hearing a gunshot, the time that the officer arrived on the scene, and the time that Michael Scott Kellerman was pronounced dead by the medical examiner on call. Soothing because it made him feel like he was doing something productive by reading the words and thinking on it.
Lewis was going to be back at work tomorrow, and he would have questions, and would be digging around when Gee wasn't looking. The least he could do was have all the information up front for him. He sighed and scanned through the report. Officer's names popped up at him; he recognized some of them to be good police, and some he did not know. It was a cut and dry homicide, even despite the fact that it was an ex-cop. Even in a department the size of Baltimore's, news travels fast through contacts and hearsay. All of the officers had heard about Mahoney, and even though Frank and Falsone had not told how it went down, everyone knew.
Ray was watching him intently as he half-read, half-reminisced.
"What are you thinking about?" She asked, pulling out the autopsy report and beginning to reread it.
"How Kellerman left the department," Tim answered, "I mean, I was in the hospital when Frank and Paul were in the box, but Frank told me what happened. I think I'm the only other person besides Gee and them that know. Well, Kellerman did."
"How did it play out?"
Bayliss shook his head; "I'm not at liberty to say."
"Look, Bayliss, I know Kellerman wasn't the straight arrow he seemed to be, but my partner has been chasing the drug angle, and if there's anything you can tell me, I need to know it."
"I don't think it was drug related, he was murdered in his own office instead of out on the street, and the gun was /left/ at the scene... it's not a drug murder."
Ray shrugged and coerced him further by pretending to be uninterested. Bayliss's eyes narrowed and he tapped the paper he was holding against the palm of his hand.
"What?" Cutler asked, "You tell me there's nothing up with the drug angle, I believe you. But you also believed Kellerman when he told you that the shooting was clean--"
"The shooting was clean... technically," Bayliss hissed, letting his voice get low even though he was in the privacy of his own apartment.
"Really? How so?"
"Mahoney still had the gun, he was still a threat."
Cutler nodded, she had heard that before, but it wasn't what she needed to know. She set the file on the desk and took the paper from Bayliss's hand, taking all distractions out of his grasp. When she spoke it was in a whisper,
"What do you think about Kellerman?"
"I think..." Bayliss frowned and thought. It had been so easy to tell Falsone in the courtroom, but now, after abandoning Zen practices, he wasn't so sure anymore what he felt. He still believed that Kellerman was a good guy, a good detective.
"I think that the shooting was clean," Cutler said, and Bayliss looked at her intensely to read her. From all appearances it didn't appear that she was lying, but then again, she was a Homicide detective just like him. She knew how to play the game.
"Kellerman was a good guy," Bayliss said, speaking his thoughts, "but he made a mistake with Mahoney. He should have come clean, but he didn't. We can't change /that/, but we can find out who murdered him, and help the people that still cared about him, like his family."
Cutler nodded, pushing the paper he had been holding back across the coffee table that they had set up, "Did you care about him?"
"He was on my shift, of course I did. I have--"
"Yeah, I know, but do you care about Falsone the same way you cared about Mike?"
"No. Falsone came in on a policy. Mike got into Homicide through showing talent and skill with suspects. I trusted Mike, I still would if he were here now."
"So you're saying he didn't break that trust when you found out that he had lied about shooting Mahoney?"
Bayliss gave a wry smile and let out a breathy laugh.
"What is this? An interrogation?"
Cutler raised her eyebrows, but didn't comment.
"I was angry at first," Tim said, looking down at his large hands, "but then I realized that in his place... I probably would have done the same thing..."
Ray swallowed, and it was silent between the both of them as they went over notes and tried to find discrepancies or loopholes that might aid in the investigation.
Lewis walked into the squadroom early the next day, before the second shift had ended and came up to Cutler's desk. He didn't look at the board... he couldn't let himself do that. Meldrick had to keep everything under control while he talked to the primary. A big man sat at the desks that he had been directed to, and Meldrick walked up to it and waited to be noticed. The detective looked up from paperwork and leaned back.
"Can I help you?"
"Yeah, you could. I'm lookin' for Detective Ray Cutler, I would like to talk to her about--"
"Your Detective Lewis?" Bonaventura asked, reaching behind him and pulling a chair around. Meldrick nodded, and took a seat alongside the desk.
"Ray's down at records trying to match some names up right now, but I'll tell you one thing. This is our investigation. I know Kellerman was your partner, and I have all the more respect that you want to help find out who killed him, but I can't let you. Lieutenant Neal is probably watching us right now, because I know that your lieutenant's got him watching you and us."
"I just want to know what happened."
"Nobody's told you?"
Meldrick sighed, "Yeah, Bayliss told me, but I want to hear it from a detective that's workin' it and looking at the case everyday."
Bonaventura moistened his lips and tapped on his desk with one finger. He debated things over in his mind while Lewis waited patiently for him to say something. The phones were eerily silent, and the only noise in the squadroom was the loud voice of another second shift member that was yelling over the phone to someone.
"Look, I'll have Ray talk to you when she comes around. Where will you be?"
"The coffee room, 'til shift change," Lewis replied as a flood of relief washed over him.
"By the way, I'm Cutler's partner, Tony Bonaventura."
Meldrick nodded, and Bonaventura didn't offer a hand. Pleasantries were still one of the worst insults to Lewis right now. As he passed the board, he allowed himself to stop and turn, his eyes closed. He took a deep breath and opened them, drawing his bottom lip into his mouth to bite. Kellerman was in bright red under Cutler's name, and Lewis felt sick. He had expected to see that name so many times after he found out the Mike had been suicidal, except never in red. Suicides were always marked in black. Maybe then it wouldn't be so hard for him to get through this.
The door to the shift commander's office opened, and Meldrick turned slightly to see Gee standing there, talking to Lt. Neal. Neal shrugged a coat on, and leaned back in the office to continue talking. Looking at his watch, Meldrick realized that the shift was over, and his was just beginning. A secretary came up to the board and pulled it far enough away from the wall, and flipped it over. Lewis retreated into the coffee room.
Bonaventura waited at his desk until his partner walked back in holding a file in front of her. She had an earnest look on her face and he stood as she approached.
"I found something, Tony," she said in a hushed tone.
"What is it?"
"Kellerman's ex-wife, Annie Kellerman, had a snub-nosed thirty-eight registered to her last year."
Bonaventura put a hand on her arm.
"Lewis is in the coffee room."
She looked up at him; a sudden sadness filled her eyes. She nodded to Tony and patted his arm on his way out. Taking a deep breath, she put the ballistics report on her desk and walked towards the breakroom where the ex-partner of her vic sat. She didn't know how he was going to react to this. He looked sullen, and she doubted what she had to say would cheer him up. Cutler had not told her partner that Annie Kellerman was a long shot. He probably knew though, because she had been a lab technician and she wouldn't have been stupid enough to leave the gun at the scene.
Still, it was something to do rather then hope Tony brought in something with his drug angle.
"Hello, Detective Lewis?" She asked the black man sitting in the break room.
"Uh, yeah, you must be Ray Cutler."
She nodded and came over to take a seat next to him. It was amazingly stuffy in the room all of a sudden, but she felt like nothing could go worse with this case so she sighed and gave it to him straight.
"We really don't have anything, Detective. I'm sorry, but the fingerprints were the structure of the case that I had hoped to get. I canvassed anyway, and the neighbors say a lot of people came in and out of his office. It was an office."
"So you're sayin' no leads, huh?" He asked, his face falling lower.
"There is one, his ex-wife owned a snub-nosed revolver. The serial numbers on the one found had been filed off so we're hoping that will lead to something."
"It won't," Meldrick sighed, standing to go make himself a cup of coffee, "she was at the funeral. So she might leave the gun, and so she might leave the fingerprints, but anyone who's smart enough to know they did won't be hanging around."
"I'm tellin' you, you're wasting your time with this."
"Oh yeah, and what do you want me to do, huh? Detective Lewis, I really want to know your opinion on this fact.
"My opinion on this?" he asked his voice getting soft. He looked at her right in the eyes. He knew she was working the case, knew that she was helping Bayliss, but what a stupid idea. Who the hell was she to ask him what she was supposed to do?
"You want my opinion, Cutler?"
He kept his eyes steady, focused on her until she had to look down.
"I'll tell you my opinion. My opinion is that you people at second shift still have no clue how to solve this case and that Kellerman's name will stay red forever. You ain't got no leads, ain't got no witnesses, ain't got no suspects. Any more questions for me?"
"Do you think this could be drug related?" The second the words were out of her mouth she regretted them. Why had she said that? She had said that because for a second she had forgotten that this wasn't just anyone who had been murdered. This was an ex-cop who had been murdered. She had forgotten that until proven otherwise, in some cases even if proven otherwise, all cops and ex-cops were saints.
Lewis looked at her coldly. When he spoke, his voice was almost a whisper. "Thank you for all your help, Detective. I believe that your shift is over."
She stood up, feeling a little disoriented. "Look, Detective Lewis, we are all just trying to help solve this case."
He turned around so he was facing the coffee maker again. Well, she couldn't force him to talk. She sighed and left the breakroom.
"Cutler. Shouldn't you be on your way home now?" Bayliss asked when he saw her.
She walked over to him and relaxed a little.
"I tried to talk to Lewis. I don't think he appreciated my help too much."
"It's his first day back. I'm sure he's not at his best right now."
"To say the least," Cutler said, a little frustrated.
"Hey," Tim said touching her arm. "Imagine your ex-partner was murdered and no one knew how to solve it. And someone you barely knew was asking you all these personal questions."
"Sounds like what we do everyday."
"So any suggestions?" Cutler asked him.
Bayliss thought for a little while and smiled up at her. "Besides quitting? Go home and get sleep. Come back tomorrow and start again."
"Yeah, except maybe it was a bad idea to start with Lewis. I'd talk to Stivers. She used to be friends with Kellerman too and she's less...volatile than Lewis."
"Do you think that she'd be much of a help?" she asked.
"It wouldn't hurt. But try tomorrow. It's her first day back too."
"Okay," she said. She was really tired and her bed sounded really nice right now.
"I'll see you tomorrow then," he said.
Lewis sat alone in the breakroom. He knew rationally that it was not Cutler's fault if they never found Kellerman's killer. Cutler, like Bayliss, was only trying to help him.
Why was he at work? He didn't think that he was ready for working cases with Sheppard. It didn't really matter. Sheppard hated him anyway. They were terrible partners and they didn't even work together half the time anyway. He didn't really care. He hadn't really been close to a partner since Kellerman. Kellerman. Somehow it all came back to Kellerman.
He walked out of the breakroom. He wasn't sure why he felt so shaky, but he did. He made it to his desk and sat down. Things were nice and quiet for about thirty seconds and then the silence was shattered.
"Hey, partner," he heard Sheppard say. Lewis tiredly opened his eyes, barely realizing that they had been closed. Partner? He didn't know if he could use that term for her. Crosetti had been his partner; Kellerman had been his partner. Two people that he was close to, now both dead.
"Hey," he said fighting the urge to test the theory that if he ignored her, she would go away. "Did I miss much?"
Sheppard sat down next to him. "Falsone and I worked a couple of cases together." He didn't care. "Do you have anything you need any help with?"
"No thanks. But the next case that comes in is ours." Her voice was artificial sounding and overly cheerful. She gave him a huge fake smile that made him want to throw up and left.
He struggled to keep his eyes open. He had hoped that after the funeral he would be sleeping better. It had not happened. He was either tossing and turning, having nightmares, or talking on the phone with Terri.
He looked around the squadroom. She wasn't there yet. He began to worry. Where was she? Had she decided not to come into work? They had talked last night, about eleven. They had talked about returning to work. She hadn't said anything about not coming in. What if something had happened to her? What if she had been in a car crash on the way to work? What if someone had done something to her? He started breathing
"Timmy," Lewis called to Tim, trying to keep his voice calm. He didn't really succeed. "She's not here yet."
"Who?" Tim asked.
"Terri. She's not here."
"Lewis," Ballard said overhearing the conversation. "Not two seconds after they arrived Falsone got a phone call. He barely gave Stivers a chance to take a breath before he grabbed her to go out on a case."
That must have happened when he was in the breakroom. He felt a little annoyed at Falsone for doing that, but relieved that she was okay. He took a deep breath. He still felt panicky. Bayliss noticed this and sat down next to Lewis.
"How are you doing?"
"Better now. I think that I just had a little panic attack."
"It's understandable," Tim said. But what did he know? "She's okay though."
"I think you scared Cutler," Tim said changing the subject. Lewis rubbed his chin, distractedly. "Apologize for me, huh. It was nothing personal."
Lewis smiled. "Thanks, Timmy. I've been kind of up and down lately."
"Don't worry about it."
"I've just been kind of messed up lately. Kind of feeling alone, you know? Or like I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be doing."
"Do you think you're ready for work?"
Lewis shrugged. "Hell, I don't know. But it will keep me occupied."
Tim looked around to see Munch looking a little anxious. "I got to go, Lewis, but you want to do lunch? The bar around noon?"
"Yeah. That sounds good Timmy."
"I heard that you solved a case already. I'm impressed."
"Don't be," she said into the phone. "It was all Falsone. I sort of followed him around in a daze."
"How was your first day? I barely saw you."
"It was okay. We had a case. Sheppard questioned people and did police work. I tried to stay awake and focused."
"Yeah. I was thinking, maybe we would be better off if we didn't talk to each other this late."
She looked at her clock. It was two a.m. "Maybe you're right. I do like these calls though."
"Me too. I think they help."
"Yeah. Postpone the nightmares."
"Still having them?"
"Sometimes. Are you?"
"Sometimes. But I haven't slept for more than three hours at a time since that night we slept together."
A pause and he realized what he had said. "I mean..."
"I know what you meant, Meldrick." She yawned. "I think that I might try to go to sleep now."
"Yeah, that's a good idea."
"Good night, Meldrick," she said softly.
"Good night, Terri," he answered before hanging up the phone.
Day number two and Cutler was in the breakroom, prepared. She was going to question Stivers and see if she could find out anything that would help the investigation. Maybe she knew the ex-wife. Maybe she knew if there was some kind of drug connection. Maybe she could come up with anything that would help.
Tim walked in. "You're persistent, aren't you?"
"When I need to be," Cutler said. "Hey is Stivers here yet?"
"Yeah, she just got in. And you got lucky."
"Why is that?"
"Lewis just stepped out on a case."
Day number two and Stivers was at her desk. She was doing okay staying focused. Falsone had asked her to go through some files and she had agreed. Anything to keep her mind off of things.
"Detective Stivers?" a voice asked.
Stivers looked up to see a woman. She was small with short brown hair. She looked a little familiar, but Stivers couldn't quite place her.
"I'm Detective Cutler. I'm working Kellerman's case."
And she had been focusing so well too. "Yes?"
"I was wondering if you could talk to me. Just to help me figure some things out."
Stivers looked around the squadroom. She didn't want to. "I don't know."
"Please. I would appreciate it."
Stivers sighed. "Okay."
"Let's go into the breakroom. It's more private," Cutler suggested.
Terri shrugged. She didn't care where they went. She followed her in there and Cutler began her questioning.
"How well did you know Kellerman?"
Maybe if she stuck with one or two word sentences, the interrogation would be over sooner. "Pretty well."
"A long time ago."
"How long ago?"
"I don't know. About ten years ago."
"Was he married then?"
Cutler frowned. She felt like she was pulling teeth. "Did you know his wife well?"
Bingo, Cutler thought. She had hit a nerve. Stivers frowned and glared at her coffee cup. Cutler sat back anticipating a good answer.
"Not as well," was all she said.
Well that was helpful, Cutler thought. She sighed thinking of what her next plan would be. Just then Bayliss walked in. He smiled looking a little uncomfortable. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to interrupt you two."
"Tim, maybe you could help me with the questioning," Cutler said. Maybe Stivers would open more if there was a familiar face around.
"I don't know," Tim said. Now he really looked uncomfortable.
"Please?" Cutler asked.
Tim looked at Cutler then at Stivers. He sat down. "Terri," he said with a smile. "There wasn't any drug connection to Mikey's murder, was there?"
She looked at Bayliss. Someone she had always liked. Someone who had known Mike also.
"I don't think so. Meldrick said that he was taking a lot of vitamin pills. That was it."
"Vitamin pills?" Bayliss asked.
"Yeah, when he got really stressed he wouldn't eat. He did that before. He had to go to the hospital."
"Poor guy," Tim said sympathetically.
"After that hospital stay, he went to a doctor for all the vitamin pills."
"Do you remember the doctor's name?"
She closed her eyes. "No, I don't remember his name, but do you know that Mexican restaurant? The one where those two girls were murdered last month?"
"Yeah. The doctor's office was across the street from Rosa's. I remember because I picked him up from there once."
Bayliss looked up at Cutler who was scribbling on a pad. "Terri, we found out that Annie had a gun that could theoretically have been the one that killed him. Did you know her that well?"
"I never liked her that much, but you know how it is when you are really close to someone and you think that no one is good enough for them? I felt that way, but Mike was crazy about her."
"Then what happened?"
"She cheated on him. That was when Mike got so sick after not eating. She knew that Mike was in the hospital, but she didn't visit him once. Every time I visited him, he always asked me if Annie had come. I was so mad at her."
"Do you think that Annie shot him?"
Stivers blinked away the angry tears she didn't even realize had formed.
"No. She was never angry with Mike. It was like she forgot about him after they split up. Like they were never even married. She wouldn't have done it."
"Stivers, I'm sorry that I had to bring that up," Tim said softly.
"Do you have any idea who did this?" Cutler asked, finally speaking.
Terri shook her head. "I wish I did."
Just then Gee walked in. He looked annoyed. "Bayliss, in my office."
"Yes, Gee," Tim said. He excused himself and left the two women alone.
"I didn't mean to be difficult earlier," Terri apologized. "It's just that I'm having a hard time with everything."
"It's okay," Cutler said. "And I really am trying to help."
"Is there anything else you want me to know about Kellerman?"
Stivers looked at her with sad eyes. "I might as well have been the one to kill him."
"What?" Cutler asked in surprise. Oh where was Tim when she needed him?
"He wouldn't have been a PI if it weren't for me. He would have been here if I hadn't blabbed."
"You don't know that," Cutler said.
"Yeah, I do," she said getting up. "Are you done with the questioning?"
What was it with these detectives? "Yes. Thank you very much." When she left, Cutler looked at her scribblings on the pad. All she had was that it didn't look like Annie did it and the place where Mike's doctor worked. Another well-spent day.
"I don't know if I like the idea of you working this case," Gee said pacing a little.
Bayliss wasn't surprised. He was expecting this. "Gee, I'm okay. I'm just helping a little."
"I didn't want any of you working on the case. I had a good reason for saying that."
"I know, Gee. I just want this case to be solved and if there is any way that I can help, I'm going to do that."
"Are you going to be able to keep perspective with this?"
Bayliss nodded. "Yes. I think that I am in a good position to help out. I did know Mike, but not so well that my judgment will be clouded."
"I want to take you off this case," Gee said. Tim started to say something, but Gee held up his hand in protest. "I want to take you off this case. You are very close to this case and you have been known to get emotionally involved in some cases. But I won't take you off, because I think your input and skills will help the case. But if you think for a second that it's getting too much for you, I want you to get off the case immediately. No talking to second shift, no going to the crime scene."
"Bayliss," Cutler called out when he left Gee's office.
He walked over to her. "Did you get what you needed from Stivers?"
Cutler sighed. "She thinks it's all her fault."
"Yeah," she said.
"And I know it's not my place to talk to either her or Lewis, but I think someone needs to."
"Someone, meaning me?"
"Maybe, I don't know. I just feel so bad."
"Don't worry about it. You and Bonaventura...I know it's a longshot, but talk to the doctor. See if Mike had been there recently, see if he mentioned anything that sounded important."
"Do you think that anything will come of that?" she asked doubtfully.
He shrugged. "I don't know, but we have to look into it just in case."
Cutler nodded. "You're right. I really hope that something turns up. I'm sick of getting dirty looks from everyone here."
"Solve this case and you'll be my hero."
"Well, that is my goal," she said grinning.
"I'll talk to you later," he said.
"How are you doing, Lewis?" Tim asked him. They were at the bar for lunch again.
"Well this case wasn't too bad and I was able to focus for a little bit."
"Well, that's good."
"Sheppard kept talking to me like I was two years old. I didn't like that."
"Don't blame you."
"I don't know how I am. I'm okay for awhile and then I'm not. Like a damn roller coaster."
"How's Terri doing?"
"She seems okay, I guess. She's like the one person who I can talk to, you know?"
"Maybe you should talk to her," Tim said trying to ease gently into the topic.
Tim sighed. "She told Cutler that it was her fault he was killed. Did she tell you that she blamed herself?"
Lewis looked down at his food. "She mentioned it once to me. She thought that I blamed her for it."
"Do you?" A simple question that was left unanswered for a few seconds.
Lewis looked up at him. "For about one second, there was the tiniest part of me...I thought what if."
"Then I felt so awful and ashamed of myself. I mean...she's hurting too. They were really good friends a long time ago. It's really hard on her."
"I know," Tim said.
"And besides that, she's been really good to me, Timmy. I mean right now, I don't know what I would do without her." He realized he sounded sappy again.
"Tell her that it isn't her fault, Meldrick." Tim suggested.
"Well she didn't believe you. I think that you need to tell her again," Tim said kindly.
"Maybe," Lewis said. He took another sip of his soda. "Thanks, Tim."
"Anytime," he said meaning it.
"Is this it?" Bonaventura asked looking at the building.
"It must be. There's Rosa's across the street."
"You realize that we're just grasping at straws here?"
"Maybe, maybe not. Tim thought it would be a good idea."
"Leave me alone, Tony."
"Yes, ma'am," he said smiling at her. "Ready?"
"Here goes nothing," she said as they got out of the car.
The receptionist inside the small clinic directed them to a seat to wait as the doctor worked on many of the patients that filed into the place. Some with appointments and others not. Cutler took a seat next to Tony and sighed. He smiled at one of the nurses that was taking down insurance information.
"Do you think that Kellerman's murder was drug related, Tony?" She asked, frowning as she tried to sort the information out in her head.
"All good people have downfalls. Other's worse then most. Drugs... anyone can fall to them. Yeah, right now I'm hoping it was drug related. We need some reason for not solving this case. I mean, Ray, the gun was there! There were fingerprints on the gun! Neal is going to crucify us."
"So you think he was an addict?"
Tony shrugged, looking around the room.
"The toxicology reports only got high vitamin residue, which would work with what you said Detective Stivers said..."
"Yeah... I'll have to ask Detective Lewis for the pill bottles."
Tony nodded, not saying anything as a tall, handsome doctor walked out of the back of the clinic. Even though he looked ragged and tired, there was a warm smile on his face.
"I'm Doctor Swaldi, Mr. Kellerman's physician."
"Hello. I'm Detective Ray Cutler, Baltimore City Homicide and this is my partner Detective Bonaventura."
The doctor put his hands out and they both shook them. He had a strong grip, and his smile was genuine.
"Why don't we go back to my office where it will be a little quieter?"
Both Detective's allowed the doctor to walk in, then followed him. He led them through a long string of passageways. He ducked into a small room just as a nurse came tumbling down the hallway, a maniacal parent tugging at her arm.
"So, you treated Mr. Kellerman?"
"What for Doctor Swaldi?"
"Well," the man smiled thoughtfully, "for a stress related eating disorder. He came to me for the first time a few years ago with the same problem."
Cutler jotted down a few notes.
"So, you were his doctor when it first occurred as well?"
The doctor nodded and leaned against his desk, a small smile on his face. Tony matched the smile, and him in the ground you know," he shrugged, stuffing his hands into his pocket.
"Uh huh, we never did anything else for the gu
"Do you know why we're here, Doctor Swaldi?"
"Well... you're Homicide detectives... I'm assuming something happened to Mr. Kellerman."
"Then you didn't hear?"
The doctor shook his head, reaching around to search his desktop. Sighing, he stood and walked to the file cabinets and opened one. Taking a file out, he flipped through the contents. He put it back and went through the drawer again. The two detectives waited patiently, knowing that there was something important to be shown here.
Finally, Doctor Swaldi seemed to get the correct file, and he brought it back around the desk.
"I pulled the old files that had been sent to the bigger clinic... this is only a branch of a much larger corporation, and he suffered almost exactly the same symptoms. He just wouldn't eat; his body refused to take in foods- vomiting. I prescribed him vitamins last time and he got better."
"Do you even want to know what happened to him?" Cutler asked.
"I'm pretty sure I know. He died, right?"
"Yes, but not from what you're probably assuming. He died from a gunshot wound that went through his chest, and ruptured his spinal cord."
The color drained from the doctor's face.
"Oh dear..." he whispered, putting a hand to his mouth.
"Were you and Mr. Kellerman close?"
"No, but he was one of my patients. We carried on nice conversations during his visits."
"About how often would you say he made appointments?"
"Well, this time his disorder was very severe. I almost put him on an IV drip to hasten the process, so I would say he came in every other week for about six weeks. I'd have to check."
Cutler nodded, "Please do."
He smiled at her and nodded, she felt his mood lift slightly and she took advantage of that.
"Do you think he had a drug problem?"
"Who, Mike?" He asked, not smiling. He looked down at the floor and sighed.
"Sir, is there anything you can tell us that might suggest that his killing was drug related."
"Yeah... yeah, okay, he said that he had gotten into some stuff on accident. He would specify exactly what accident, but he was going to try and fix it himself--"
"Was this narcotics?"
"I don't know. He just said he'd gotten into something. He could have meant narcotics, he could have meant debt or something..."
Cutler sighed, taking the notes as best she could. The thoughts flew threw her mind at a million miles per hour. She didn't want to hear that it was drug related, but if it helped find the killer... she would take what she could get. The doctor peeked over the edge of her notebook, then settled back down.
"Do you think it was possible that it could have been drugs?" Tony asked, his lips becoming a grim line. Doctor Swaldi nodded, his eyes staying on the floor.
"Let's go back to the friend," Cutler exclaimed loudly, meeting eyes with Tony, "You said you talked to him about Kellerman?"
Lewis made his way across the cemetery. He had asked Sheppard to cover for him. He needed to do this, to come by here again. He could see the stone, and he felt his stomach twist in his chest. The dirt that had been laid over the coffin was still fresh. Grass had been planted, and small sprouts were already beginning to show through the mud.
"Hey, Mikey, how are you?" He whispered, coming to stand just off to the side. For some reason he was terrified of stepping on the soil of the grave, it seemed disrespectful. He looked around the cemetery, not the same one Crosetti was buried in, but they were all the same to him. Desolate and empty.
"They think... they think, Mikey, that it's drug related." Meldrick felt his stomach tighten at the thought. He didn't want to feel this... this doubt in his heart. He knew Mikey wasn't a user, he /knew/! Then again, Mike had changed a lot. A man has his limits, can break.
"I know you though... I mean, you would never shoot, or snort, or smoke... right?"
A wind blew through the trees and he shivered. It was strangely quiet for a cemetery just off from the city. It stretched around the Kellerman plot forever almost.
"They didn't find anything, so that means... that means you didn't," he said, trying to convince himself. Walking a few steps, he reached out and touched the uneven granite on the top of the stone, letting his hands drift down to feel the smooth and polished front that held the engraving. Down, his fingers still reached out, until he was on the balls of his feet. He felt tears prickle his eyes as he read the inscription, feeling the letters under his fingertips.
Another strong wind blew, bringing the scent of the bay, like Mikey. With his head resting against the polished stone, he cried away the doubt, filling its place with sadness instead.
Terri looked around the squad room, upon not finding Meldrick; she inquired to Sheppard about his whereabouts.
"He said he was going to visit Mike... but I saw Mike walk out of here just a second ago, and Meldrick wasn't with him."
Stivers did nothing to correct her painful mistake, just swallowed and nodded, thanking her. Driving out to the cemetery would be too much for her... not yet, she would wait. While she typed the reports for the case that Falsone and she had closed, her eyes kept darting to the doors that entered the room.
After half an hour, she gathered her courage, and made her way to the fields of graves. She drove almost without thinking, knowing the way through to the grave. She could see the other white Cavalier, and she debated whether she should turn back now.
Pulling to a stop just off of the road, she could see Meldrick slightly. Just his back. She got out of the car and walked over to him, treading as softly as she could on the damp ground. Meldrick was crying, soundlessly, with his head against the headstone. She could tell he was, though, the tremble in his shoulders.
What she didn't know, is if he could hear her coming up behind him. He turned around, not bothering to wipe away the wetness on his cheeks. She came around and kneeled down by the other side of the dirt. The wind was blowing constantly, and they could both see the storms gathering over the nearby water.
"They think it was drug related, Terri," he said stiffly. She nodded, not knowing what to say. His brow was so wrinkled she thought that it must hurt to frown so hard.
"Do you think it's drug related?" He asked, looking over at her. He wanted a straight answer, and the wind blew. It was cold, and she leaned her head back against the cold stone, looking at the gathering clouds. He waited for her answer, and she waited for one to come.
"No," she said finally, her voice firm, "it wasn't drug related, Mel."
He nodded, satisfied, and got up. He held a hand out to her, and finding that the cold had frozen her willful movements, she took it. He pulled her up, but when she was on her feet, he didn't stop there. Meldrick pulled her into a hug and looked into her eyes before kissing her quickly.
Too stunned to think, she watched him step back, a blush rising over his skin.
"Thank you," he whispered.
"Meldrick--" she tried to speak, but found nothing to say.
He looked down at the grave once more before turning around and walking back to the Cavalier. Before he got in, he looked up at her and waved. She didn't wave back, instead clutched the jacket tighter around her, and smiled. He smiled back, and pulled away.
When the Cavalier had disappeared, she looked back down at the tombstone and whispered, "Thank you, Mike, he needed to know."
Cutler rubbed her brow futilely. There was nothing that was going to stop it now, her headache had come. Glancing at her watch she groaned when she realized she hadn't been at work for half the day. Tony looked at her with concern and leaned back in his chair.
"I think it was drug related," he said, taking a pen out of his shirt pocket and scribbling down something she could not read at her angle.
"I don't," she moaned, reaching down into her purse to grab some aspirin. Bonaventura sighed and put the pen back down. She could tell by his body language that he was about to make a speech, but she really didn't want to hear it.
"Listen Ray, if this was because he was an ex-cop, an ex- /homicide/ cop--"
"It has nothing to do with that Tony. C'mon, I'm not that naīve."
"Then what makes you think it wasn't?" He asked, exasperated.
"I don't know! I just don't think Kellerman was the kind of guy--"
"The kind of guy? The kind of guy? Cutler, you didn't even know him? Yeah, so you've been hearing about him, but everything they say is influenced by emotions." His voice had steadily become higher and higher until the other detectives in the room looked their way.
"What do you want me to do, Tony? Sign the case off as a conflict of interest? If you want me off the case, you just have to tell me," she challenged.
"Detectives!" Lieutenant Neal's voice reached across the room, "If you need to yell, take it to the interview room."
Both Detectives suppressed the urge to glare at him for interrupting their conversation, but they both stood and made there way to one of the blue brick rooms that now served as interview rooms. As soon as the door closed behind Tony whirled around and pointed a finger in her face.
"Is this because of you talking with Bayliss?"
Where did that come from?
"Where the hell did that come from?" She asked, taking a step towards him instead of stepping back from his anger like she wanted to.
"Well, ever since you started talking to him, you've become personally involved with this case, /and/ you haven't been able to follow perfectly normal leads like the idea that maybe he was a user."
"There was /no/ indication that he ever touched the stuff, Tony! No heroine residue in the hair, no barbiturates in the urine, and no alcohol or anything else in the blood."
Tony paced across the room, his mind working. She crossed her arms and waited for him to get whatever it was off his chest. Again she got the feeling like she didn't want to hear it. The single light in the room made it dim, and if she weren't so accustomed to the feeling that the room was shrinking, she might have felt the need to sit down.
"His hair had been recently cut, if he did use heroine, the evidence could have been cut off."
"There weren't any track marks on his arms."
"They probably didn't look hard enough, at the time of the autopsy they weren't exactly looking for them. Plus, he could have snorted or smoked or anything else."
"Why are you so eager to prove that Kellerman was taking something?"
"Because right now, that's all we have to go on, Ray!"
"Which is nothing because there's no evidence that it occurred!"
Tony looked at her, his older face tired, and for the first time she got the sense that he wasn't sleeping well either.
"Do you know what they say he did, Ray? They say he murdered a surrendering suspect. Murdered."
She felt the frustration well up in her. It all seemed to be stacking up. An ex-cop, blown evidence, no leads, no motive, and a partner that seemed to block her at every step. Not to mention the other shift watching her, shaking their heads when they came in and saw that Kellerman was still in red under her name. She felt tears of the frustration fight their way to the surface, and she put a hand to her eyes.
"Every person, no matter what they did, is entitled to a prejudice and impartial investigation," she whispered. With that sentence she told Tony that she had heard what Kellerman had done.
Tony just stood there, and her eyes finally met his, red with tears.
"I'm sorry, Ray," he said softly.
"It's just that... I want to find out who did it, for Lewis and Stivers and the other shift, because they knew him and cared. If I don't solve this thing, they'll look at me with more contempt then they already do. If that name stays red, they'll blame me, and they'll hate me even more if they find out that we think it was drug related."
"Are you saying you think it has something to do with drugs?" He asked, stepping back across the room to her. He patted her back and listened.
"No, I don't think so, but that's all we have."
Tony closed his eyes and sighed, clenching his hand into a fist, relaxing and then clenching it again.
"There is /one/ thing that stands out to me," he began. Ray looked up, expectant, waiting to hear anything that didn't seem to incriminate Kellerman in anyway.
"The doctor said he told his friend about Kellerman being a PI. He told us that Kellerman and the friend talked, right? Well, it's a longshot, but maybe we should talk to the friend before Neal puts us back in rotation?"
"That... that would be good," she sighed, giving a strained smile.
Mr. Sawyer looked at both detectives with a wary smile. His hands were clenched in front of him, and his eyes were shifty. Cutler and Bonaventura were the pictures of calmness. They looked into the man's dark brown eyes in a way that they knew must be intimidating. A woman came into the room, and Tony's eyes shifted to meet Ray's. It was the woman in the picture.
Ray felt her stomach clench. Tony raised an eyebrow, then smiled toward Mrs. Sawyer.
"Hello, ma'am," he said, a big smile on his face, "You must be Holly."
Tony stood and put a hand to her. She smiled and took it, giving it a tender shake. He held her hand for more then would be necessary, and Cutler looked at Mr. Sawyer, who was becoming a shade of red at the sight of Bonaventura and his wife holding hands. Ray just noted the intense protectiveness of his wife, and coughed suggestively.
"Jason, please," he said, glaring at his wife, who looked immedeantly uncomfortable and sat down next to her husband.
"Jason, we're here investigating the death of a Mr. Michael Kellerman. We heard from Mr. Swaldi that you and him set up a meeting."
"Honey, what is she talking about?" Whispered Holly.
Jason pierced Cutler with the most evil of stares and turned to his wife, whispering in her ear. The wife shook her head and began to say no, but Mr. Sawyer's voice raised.
"Just do it, okay?" He yelled. Holly reeled and stood, making a quick exit out of the living room and into the kitchen. So Jason was a violent man, but he was still with his wife after he had found the pictures. Tony looked after Holly, and Jason's face grew steadily redder.
"Why did you meet with Mr. Kellerman?" Ray asked, catching his gaze and holding it.
"Because, I," he looked around to make sure Holly wasn't in the direct vicinity, "I thought Holly was stepping out on me... but I was wrong, she would never do that to me never."
Ray reached down at her side and pulled up the envelope that she had kept with her since the first day of the case. She opened it and pulled at the evidence bag that held the pictures, black and whites and color. Jason's eyes narrowed at the sight of them, and he looked away to the kitchen. Opening the bag, she slid the photographs out on the table.
"Are these Holly?" She asked in a whisper, as tender as she could. Jason's jaw clenched, and the hatred, pure hatred, spread over the pictures.
"Yes. It's her."
"Then why do you say she would never cheat?" Tony asked in a tone reserved for talking down to a perp.
"Because she wouldn't. That lousy PI-- he staged these pictures, I know it! Holly and me have two kids, a family. She would never, ever do this to me."
"I'm sorry," Cutler said, not believing a word. Jason smiled evilly.
"All detectives are alike. You're just like that PI," tears formed, "he was sorry for me! I didn't want him to be sorry for me! I didn't want," he took a deep breath, a dark smile on his face, "I didn't want his pity."
"Do you want to go downtown with us and tell us what happened that night?" Tony asked, his tone vanishing back to a normal, respective one.
"No, why should I, I didn't do anything wrong."
Holly came into the room, holding a glass of iced tea. Jason whirled around, but before he could yell at her to go back, she saw the photographs that were spread over the table. The glass in her hand fell, breaking on the floor and spilling tea and ice cubes on the laminated wood.
"Where... where you did get those?" She asked Ray, her eyes on the pictures and making their way to Jason's face.
"We found them at the crime scene of a local PI's murder," Cutler explained, "We also found a Smith and Wesson snub-nosed revolver."
"Oh my God," she whispered, her hand to her mouth. She looked frightened at Jason and stumbled back through the glass. She walked back into the kitchen, then through other parts of the well kept rowhouse. Jason looked at the photographs, defeated. Holly came back into the room, tears coming out of her eyes.
"Where is it, Jason? Where's the gun?" She yelled.
Jason stood up, and looked down at Ray. He tried to speak, but had to cough several times.
"I think I'd like to go downtown now."
Lewis walked into the squadroom. The door to the interview room was closed, the blinds shut, and everyone was in the observation room, some spilling out and having to watch from the doorway. He made his way to his desk and sat down, not really interested in what might be going on. Bayliss pushed out of the group and walked quickly to the desk. He looked excited, but sobered, about something.
"It's him, Meldrick, it's the guy that killed Mike."
"What?" Lewis asked, standing and restraining himself from running to the room where he could see him.
"They've been taking his statement for hours," Bayliss whispered, pushing through the people again. Terri was in the room, her back against the wall. Gee was at the front, watching with a stone face. Lieutenant Neal was at his side, biting his lip in his nervous way. Meldrick pushed forward to stand by Gee, who patted his back.
"Is it him?" Meldrick asked, trying to hear anything incriminating through the speaker that was in the room.
"Yes, Detective, he's the one," Gee answered in a whisper. Meldrick didn't ask the several other questions that were popping up, like "Who is he?" "Did he confess yet?" Instead, he listened.
"Mr. Sawyer," Cutler's voice said, "do you confess to the murder of Michael Kellerman?"
"That's what I've been doing... isn't it?"
"Well," Tony sighed, "You've been recanting the details of the whole week before, why you did this that led to what? But we want to hear what happened in the office."
"He showed me the pictures of Holly with... whoever- whoever she was with," Mr. Sawyer looked up at the two detectives that were standing around him, "I didn't think they were real, so I confronted him with that. He insisted they were real... then he said he was sorry..." He fell silent.
"What happened when he said he was sorry?" Ray asked, "What happened when he 'pitied' you?"
The anger came back to Jason's features. The sign that he was back at that night, trying to retell what was happening. He didn't say anything for a while, and Meldrick stood at the mirror window, looking into the eyes. Those unworthy eyes were the last ones to see Mike alive. Mike. Mikey. Kellerman. He felt his own anger burn, and he wanted to go in there and beat the hell out of that guy.
"I got so angry, I reached into my briefcase for... for... I can't remember what I wanted. But I grabbed the gun instead. I asked him, 'Is it really Holly'. He said... 'Yes, I'm really sorry'. He pitied me! So I pulled out the gun," here his voice faded, "and told him to tell me that they were staged."
"Did he?" Tony asked, "did he tell you they were staged?"
"I don't know."
"What do you mean you don't know, Jason, he either staged them or he didn't."
Jason looked down at his hands that were laid flat against the table. They shook every once and a while.
"I didn't... he didn't have a chance. I shot him before he could say anything."
Ray and Tony tilted their heads. Tony sat down across from Jason, and pushed the paper towards him.
"Would you like to write and sign this sheet, telling us what you just told us?"
Jason shrugged, and picked up the pen. He looked like a little kid, dejected and bent over a spelling test. Meldrick felt the anger slip away, it was replaced with something else. Something that left him hollow. He pushed out of the room, and went back to his desk. Then, when he realized he couldn't be alone here, he got up and made his way to the roof.
"That's the guy who killed Kellerman?" Falsone asked walking up to her. Stivers looked at her partner, the person she had worked with on cases for over a year. She didn't say anything, just stared at him. I swear, she thought to herself, you say one insensitive thing to me and I will have no problems kicking your ass. Finally she realized that she
should probably say something and said softly. "Yeah."
He peered in at Sawyer and then back at his partner. He looked like he wasn't sure what to say to her. "Hopefully he'll get what he deserves."
Well that wasn't too bad. She gave him a half-smile and said gratefully. "I hope so."
Cutler looked over the confession and handed it to Bonaventura. She looked over at Sawyer. Sawyer seemed antsy, his fingers drumming out a rhythmic tune on the table. He wasn't looking at either of them; his eyes were fixed on some point on the wall. The room seemed really warm all of a sudden and she knew that she couldn't stay in there much longer.
"I'll be right back," she said softly to Tony. He nodded. She walked out. All eyes were upon her making her feel a little uncomfortable. There were a ton of people there, few that she recognized. She suddenly felt tired; as if what had happened just caught up to her.
They had found the guy who killed Kellerman and it had not been drug related. She felt good though, like she had finally done something right. She and Tony had done it.
"Well if it isn't my new hero," she heard a familiar voice say.
"Like I said, that was my goal," she answered back. Even as she was talking to him, she felt a little lightheaded. She pushed some hair out of her face. "You really helped a lot."
He smiled. "Yeah, more than Gee would have liked."
"Maybe," she said. "Anyway thanks a lot."
"Hey," he said. "A bunch of us are getting together at the bar later tonight. You and Bonaventura are definitely invited."
"I don't know," she said. "Are you guys sure you want some second shifters in your bar?"
"If it's just you two," he said pretending to think, "you're welcome. Don't go inviting your whole squad or anything though."
"Gee, thanks Bayliss. What time do you want us there?"
"Nine," he said.
"We'll be there."
This is it, Lewis thought to himself as he looked at the view on the roof. He knew that he was truly alone. They had found the guy. That didn't make him as happy as he thought it would. So Kellerman's name under Cutler's would be black instead of red. So this scum Sawyer would be in jail, maybe for life, maybe for just a couple of years. It wasn't going to bring Mikey back or anything. He wasn't going to suddenly start sleeping through the night or stop crying at inappropriate times. Cutler and Bonaventura had done their jobs, but it didn't make him feel any different.
He heard someone in back of him and saw Cutler. She looked a little nervous and he wondered how serious Timmy was when he said that she was scared of him. He hadn't meant to scare her. He gave her a smile that he didn't really feel and she walked closer to him.
"I just wanted to tell you that he signed the confession."
Lewis swallowed. "I know."
"I'm sorry that we kept asking about drugs. We wanted to solve this case so we were looking at every possibility..."
"I know," he said cutting her off. He didn't want to be mean, but he wanted to be alone. "You guys did a good job."
"Thanks," she said looking embarrassed. "And I really am sorry. I know that if something happened to Tony..."
"Yeah," he said not really paying attention. That feeling was coming back to him. The one that he had had at Mikey's funeral. That no one really knew him and he really didn't know anyone. He certainly didn't know Cutler. He found himself not really caring what would happen if something happened to Tony.
She could see his interest in her waning and she quickly said, "Well, I'll see you later, Lewis."
"Yeah," he said looking up at the sky again. Then he turned around. "Hey, Cutler?"
"When you were questioning Stivers, she said that it was her fault?"
Cutler nodded, not quite sure where this was going. "Yeah she did."
Lewis frowned and turned around again so his back was facing her. Cutler sighed to herself. Then she walked away, leaving him alone again.
Gee looked around the squadroom. Cutler and Bonaventura had left, leaving only his detectives. The crowd that had gathered when Sawyer was being questioned, had dispersed. Had people lost interest? He didn't know. He stood there for a second, just watching everyone. He had no idea what to do. He felt like he should do something like make a speech, but what did he have to say? There was nothing to say. He couldn't make things okay again, he couldn't think of anything that would tie up everything up nicely.
"Bayliss," Gee said. "In my office, please."
"Yes, Gee?" Tim asked him.
"I wanted to thank you for your help on this case. I know that it couldn't have been easy on you."
"No, it wasn't."
"Well you did a good job."
Tim was about to leave, but he thought of something. "Gee, a bunch of us are getting together tonight at the bar. Sort of a celebration of solving the case, but also to remember Kellerman. I would like it if you could join us."
Drinking himself into a stupor...he still hadn't gotten the chance to do it yet. It sounded good, almost appropriate. "I would like that too, Detective."
Tim left Gee's office to see Stivers at her desk looking preoccupied. Remembering what Cutler had said to him, he decided that he would try to talk to her.
"Hey," he said. "How are you doing?"
She met his eyes and he could tell that she had been crying a little. "Not as good as I had hoped."
"I mean it's good that we found the guy who did this...but there shouldn't have been a guy at all. This shouldn't have happened at all."
"I know," he said. He sat down in the chair next to her. "Cutler told me what you said to her."
What had she said to Cutler? So many things have happened in the last few days that she didn't even remember. "What?"
"About you blaming yourself."
Oh that. She looked down. "Yeah?"
"You know it's not your fault."
She looked at him. "No, I don't Tim. And you don't know either."
"Yes, I do."
"How?" he echoed.
"Yeah, how. How do you know? You weren't there. It wasn't your big mouth that made him leave. He didn't call you a bitch and shove you around a little."
"He did that?" Tim asked. He found it a little hard to believe.
"Of course he did that. You think that I'm making it up? He was one of my closest friends, Tim and now he's dead. Now I can never apologize for screwing him over. That's his last memory of me."
"Stivers," he said. "I'm sorry."
"And you want to know what my last memory of him is? My last memory of him is someone who got rough with me. He sure as hell wasn't nice to me either. And even though I miss him and know that it is my fault, I'm so mad at him too."
"I can understand."
"No, you don't," she said. She didn't know why she was so angry all of a sudden, but it felt good. Real good. "You don't understand and Cutler doesn't understand and Meldrick doesn't understand."
"Aren't you sorry you brought it up?" she asked wryly. "That's nice that Kellerman's case is solved, but right now I need a lot more than that. And until you could do more than say how sorry you are and how much you understand me, I don't want to hear it."
"Okay," he said and still stayed near her desk even after she left. He remembered what he had told Cutler before and almost smiled. Oh yeah, a lot less volatile than Lewis.
Lewis walked into the squadroom after his roof-time feeling almost calm when he almost ran into Stivers. "Hey, what's wrong?" he asked after he saw her face.
"Nothing. Everything. I need to get out of here."
He had never heard her sound like the way she sounded now. She sounded like she could either start crying or start punching holes into walls. "Come with me," he said.
"Where?" she asked.
"Does it matter? You just said that you wanted to get away from here."
He had a point. She felt the a little bit of the anger leave her.
Without talking, they got in his car. He drove around a little and stopped in front of an ice cream store. She looked at him like he was crazy.
"I had a craving. Besides you want me to eat."
She sighed and followed him out. "What do you want?" he asked.
"I'm paying you back for the cheesesteaks. What do you want?" he repeated.
"Nothing," she repeated.
He ordered a sundae and they got a little booth. "What's wrong?"
"What do you think is wrong?"
"I think that you have been taking such good care of me that you haven't really thought about how you were feeling. And now it's all catching up to you."
"Thank you, Dr. Lewis," she said, but she wasn't as angry as she was before. She didn't know what she was.
"You sure you don't want any of this," he asked her pointing to his ice cream. She shook her head. "I think that you were a good listener to me and I'm going to be a good listener to you."
"I don't know if I feel like talking," she said.
"Okay," he said. "Let me say one thing though. I don't blame you at all. And neither does anyone else."
"Kellerman wanted to apologize to you," he said. "He talked to Cox a few weeks ago and he was so sorry about what he did. Cox told me that."
She didn't know whether or not she should believe him. It would be so easy for him to lie. She looked at him warily. "Why didn't you tell me before?"
He didn't have an answer for that. "I don't know."
"Why should I believe you?"
"Because it's true and it will make you feel better."
"No, Meldrick, it won't. I don't think anything will make me feel better right now," she said. She realized that she was playing the drama queen right now, but she thought that she was entitled.
"Do you want me to call Cox and ask her to tell you herself?"
"No," she said. "I'll be okay, I guess. I just needed to get everything off my chest."
"Don't worry about it," he said. "Are you sure that you're okay?"
She sighed. "I don't know, Lewis. Most of the time I think that I am, but when I'm crying or yelling at Tim, I know that I'm not."
"You were yelling at Tim?"
She nodded. "He was trying to be nice, but I yelled at him."
"I wouldn't worry about him."
"I don't know."
Lewis finished his sundae and threw it in the trashcan. "Last chance, Stivers. Sure I can't treat you to a jumbo banana split?"
When they were back in the car, he turned to her. "Where to, my dear? Back to work?"
She looked at the clock. "No, shift's almost over and we're right near my house."
"So we are," he said. "You doing anything tonight?"
"They're having something at the bar tonight. A celebration for solving the case."
"You going to that?" he asked.
"I'm not sure. I don't know if I really want to face everyone right now."
"On the other hand, you could get really drunk."
"That's true," she mused. "And that does sound good."
They reached her place. "Want me to walk you up?" he offered. She shrugged. "You don't have to."
"I know," he said. He shut off the car and walked her up.
"So will I see you tonight?" he asked her.
"Yeah, I'll stop by for a little bit," she promised him.
"Good," he said smiling at her. "And if you need anything at all or wanna talk...you know I'm here for ya."
"Yeah, I know, Meldrick. And I do appreciate it."
"Okay," he said.
He looked so awkward standing next to her, like he didn't know what to do next. She almost laughed, but decided to do something else instead. It was her turn to surprise him. Her turn to show him that she was grateful for him listening in a very strange way. She smiled up at him and before he could say anything, she kissed him. After maybe a
second of surprise, he kissed her back.
"Well," he said after they broke away from each other. "Well, well, well."
"Yeah," she agreed. "So I'll see you later tonight?"
"You bet," he said. "Bye."
"Bye," she said. And as she watched him get into the car and then leave, a thought came to her. She had been wrong. Something had made her feel a little better.
Meldrick walked down to his car. Since he didn't want to go back to the squadroom, he had limited choices of where to head now. To the boat... to call Greg and Drew Kellerman so they could all plot to kill Sawyer. That sounded like a good idea in his head, but he knew it wouldn't do them any good. But telling the family did sound like it
would be the decent thing to do. He pulled out from in front of Terri's building and drove to the Kellerman house.
Mr. Kellerman was on the stoop, sitting and watching as Meldrick walked up to the house. Sounds were coming from inside. Sounds of the two brothers helping Mrs. Kellerman in the kitchen. Meldrick came up to stand next to Mike's dad, not knowing what to say first. Starting the sentence with congratulations just didn't sound respectful enough to him.
"They found Mike's killer," he choked out, feeling a blush when he realized just how weak he sounded.
"I know. We know, Detective Bonaventura just called and told us he was in custody. We still have to wait for the trial though. Won't know until then if my boy's going to rest in peace."
Mr. Kellerman said it all in a tone of a man who was world-weary. Meldrick took a couple of tentative steps forward and sat down on the stoop next to Mr. Kellerman. They were silent for a long time, just watching the wind blow through the trees that dotted the front yard. Occasionally, a car would pass and leaves were scattered across the paved road. At one point, a particularly interesting sound came from the kitchen, followed by laughs and teasing remarks. Mr. Kellerman smiled and turned to Meldrick.
"There was one thing Mike always promised he would do, and it was to bring this family back together. Greg and Drew... let's just say they weren't my sons for the longest time. If I had known it would take Mike dying to bring us all together..." He smiled, but this time it was full of pain that the old man wouldn't let show through.
Meldrick nodded, willing to listen to the talk.
"Mike always tried to be the peacemaker, even though," the pain faded, "even though he couldn't stand them two himself. I guess when you're the youngest you just want everything neat and put together. He had some bad in him though. One night not too long ago he came by, woke us up. He was upset, crying. I hadn't seen that boy cry since he was eight, so you'd imagine the shock me and Martha felt. He said he had made a big mistake and told us he wasn't a cop any longer."
The silence resumed and Meldrick felt a sinking feeling in his stomach. Mike never cried. He had been almost inhuman that way.
"Go on, get out of here," a voice commanded from the house.
"I've got it covered, go on. See if your father needs help with... whatever it is he's doing."
Greg and Drew filed out of the door, looks of mischief on their faces. When they saw Meldrick, the smiles faltered but stayed. They came and sat down as well, taking easy stances on the steps.
"What'd you do to get your mom to sic you two on me?"
"It was Drew's fault," Greg answered, his eyes on Meldrick but shifting slowly to Mr. Kellerman's.
"Whatever," Drew said flippantly, and for a second all teasing stopped. Like everyone had recognized that as one of Mike's favorite terms. Whatever.
"So," whispered Greg, " you going to take us to the jail so we can kill this- this Sawyer guy?"
"Yeah, you promised," Drew said, pulling a cigarette out of his pocket.
"I never promised you two knuckleheads a thing," Meldrick said, trying to get into their constant playful manner, "but I'll take you to see the guy. Just can't let you kill him."
"What's going on with him anyway? Is he going to get executed or something?"
"I don t know, Assistant State's Attorney Danvers was walking in when I was walking out. He can probably get second degree. Cross your fingers though," Meldrick struggled.
"He won't get off though?" Drew asked. Mr. Kellerman was oddly silent.
"Now, why do I get the feelin' that you want him to get off..."
"Are you kidding? And miss the chance to avenge our little brother?" The words that were meant to sound like a joke came out flat and empty. The impact was still there, and Meldrick couldn't tell if he was serious or not. Better not chance it.
"Do you want me to take you down to Central Booking?"
"Nah, I can wait for the trial."
Meldrick was coerced into staying for dinner. Even in the light of all the depression, it was a surprisingly light event. Mrs. Kellerman kept asking him about his time with Mike and he found that it helped to relate all of the good times that Kellerman and he had had when they were partners. Sometimes it hurt to tell a certain aspect and sometimes it made him smile.
Drew and Greg helped relate the events of when they came to town with the Babe Ruth uniform, and everyone had a good laugh. When dinner was finished he helped with the dishes, and hurried to Terri's. Since the Kellerman's ate early, he actually had plenty of time to make it there.
He knocked on the door, and she opened the door and smiled weakly. She had been crying again. He felt instantly guilty for going off and having a good time while she stayed at her lonely apartment and cried.
"What's wrong?" he asked concerned.
She looked at him, exhausted. "I came home and I just felt kind of shaky. I called Tim and apologized for going off on him."
"What did he say?"
"He said that it was okay. He doesn't get angry much does he?"
Lewis smiled. "He can."
"I told him what you said to me about what Cox told you," she said not looking at him. "About Kellerman wanting to apologize to me."
"What did he say?" Lewis asked feeling a little jealous. Had Tim been able to talk to her and help her better than he had been able to?
"He told me to call Cox."
"Yeah I did. She told me that he did want to apologize to me. I'm sorry that I didn't believe you," she said.
He took his hat off and fiddled with it a little. "Nah, Terri, it's okay. Don't worry about it."
She still looked uneasy so he asked. "Are you okay?"
"I don't know," she said. "I wonder if we could have been friends again."
She looked so out of it for a second that he reached out and pulled her into a quick hug. She was so small, but it felt good to have someone fill the space that had been voided for so long. Her head lay against his shoulder, and a tear streaked down her cheek.
"Hey you think getting totally drunk at the Waterfront with me will make you feel better?"
She shook her head. "I can't, Meldrick. I don't want to see everyone right now. But you go and have fun."
He can't see himself doing that. He doesn't want to leave her alone again. "What do you want to do right now?"
She asks him softly, almost as if she is unsure of what his reaction will be.
"Can we see him. One more time?"
"Sure, Terri. It don't have to be the last time though."
One Month Later...
"Mr. Jason Fletcher Sawyer, how do you plead?" The man asked in a loud voice.
"Mr. Sawyer pleads guilty to one count of murder in the second degree, Your Honor."
"Is this correct?" The judge asked, the question pointed to Sawyer. He nodded his eyes not showing an ounce of regret for what he did. The judge shifted in his chair, eyes skimming over the case in front of him.
"Very well then, does the prosecution rest?"
"Yes, sir Your Honor," Danvers announced from his podium, looking into the judges eyes.
"Does the defendant rest?"
The lawyer representing Jason leaned over a whispered hurriedly into Jason's ear. He shook his head though, and the lawyer sighed, standing up straighter.
"Yes, Your Honor, the defendant stays his plea."
"I call a recess before I proceed, Danvers, I want to see you in my chambers."
"Yes, Your Honor."
He made his way off of the platform and back into the room off of the courtroom. He waited patiently for Danvers to arrived and motioned him to shut the door behind him. It was silent in the room for a while, Judge David Matthews read over the file again.
"Danvers, this case is built on circumstantial evidence excluding the forms that registered the snub-nosed revolver used in the perpetration of the crime to Mr. Sawyer."
"I know, Your Honor, but Mr. Sawyer confessed to the murder of Michael Kellerman with the whole squad of detectives from one shift, and two from the second shift in audience. His statement is among your forms, and he pleas guilty."
The judge nodded, "What I'm trying to tell you, Ed, as a friend, is that I can convict him, but sentencing him based on this... I... it will be a less then satisfactory sentence. I know Mr. Kellerman was an ex-cop, but he resigned, he was a civilian at time of death."
Danvers put his hands on his hips. After a while, he put one hand to his forehead.
"May I ask for five minutes to discuss this with Detective Lewis. This means a lot to him. Uh... what are we talking about, the way of years?"
"Life with parole," Judge Matthews stated.
"He could be out in thirty."
"He'll be an old man then, Ed."
"I'm not trying to convince me, David," Danvers said loudly, looking around the comfortable room with a sigh, "Hell, life with parole is better then I can do every three-fourths of the time. It's not me; it's his family and Meldrick. Kellerman... I worked with him, but I know a good deal when I see it, but they won't."
"Ed, you think you've got it bad," soothed David, standing and smoothing his robe, "I've let killers off with murder by misadventure because there was no evidence except one arguably credible witness. That's three years. They can be out of the pen in less then one. I've done it Ed, but I can't punish a man who might not have done it, it would be unethical and against the system."
"Five minutes, Danvers."
"What?" Meldrick asked, his mouth open. Ed looked him in the eyes and stared at him.
"There's no evidence, Detective Lewis. Hell, this isn't even your case, I should be talking to Cutler."
"Call her out here then!"
"There's nothing she can do either unless she can get those fingerprints to become miraculously readable so that a match to Jason Sawyer can be made."
"He'll be out in fifteen. He'll go actin' like a born again religious nut and they'll let him walk right through those doors," Meldrick argued, pointing his finger at the doors to the courtroom.
"You know the game, Lewis, this is twice as long as he would be getting under any other circumstances."
Meldrick put his head into one hand and shook it. He began to breathe rapidly, and Danvers took another step closer to him.
"I haven't gotten to tell you yet, Meldrick, but I'm sorry about Kellerman."
Meldrick had heard it so many times. The pity. Kellerman had been his partner, a sick feeling rose up in his stomach. Just like Crosetti all over again. Looking at him with those sad eyes, knowing how close that they had been even though they had heard that they were the most dysfunctional partners. Patting him on the back and saying how they were so sorry it had to be him.
"You did the best you could," choked Meldrick, stepping back away from the attorney.
"I could fight it, but then the defendants will pull out the circumstantial evidence and use it against us. Admit it, Lewis, we have nothing on this guy except a confession."
Meldrick nodded, and turned, walking back into the squadroom. Cutler was the first person he sat down next; he muttered three words before getting up to sit next to Terri.
"Life with parole."
How many times had he come by the grave? He never remembered coming by Crosetti's resting-place this often. He had become bolder though, stepping in front of the granite rock and sitting next to it. It wasn't even really a tombstone, just a plaque in the grass. Sprouts of green covered the dirt and soon it would be like a shovel had never
touched it. Flowers were there, lain on top of the corner of the marker. White roses. He wondered where they had come from.
Terri was next to him. Her face drawn.
"What is it?" He asked, reaching for her hand.
"White roses. Mike always gave Annie white roses," the bitterness in her voice sent a shiver through him. He fingered a soft petal and smiled.
"Everyone waits until he's dead to show how much they cared for him."
"I don't believe she ever cared for him, Meldrick, she was a cold woman. No heart, if she had had a heart, she wouldn't have cheated on him the way she did."
"Does that mean we don't have hearts? I mean, we did something just as cruel," Meldrick reasoned, staring at the plaque.
Terri sank to sit next to him, leaning against him. An arm went around her shoulders.
"We'll have to live with that. I can if you can."
Meldrick turned and kissed the top of her head, thanking her without words for being there. She didn't need to hear it though, she knew.
"I guess we'll be doing this a lot..." he mused.
"Yeah, what kind of flowers should we chose? You know, so he knows it was us that brought them?"
Meldrick shrugged. A gust of cool air blew into their faces, and the silence was one of the most healing substances that they could ask for. The feeling of sorrow was there, but it wasn't so strong now. The petals of the rose quivered in the breeze, and Meldrick swore it looked as if someone was reaching for them and touching them with one
"Do you think he forgives us?"
"Of course he does," Terri whispered, closing her eyes.
"Orchids," Meldrick contemplated, "I'm thinking orchids. Just sounds like something he might like."
They both got up, hand and hand and began walking to Terri's car.
"You know those white ones, from Hawaii or something. I was just thinking that he liked white flowers, but I didn't want to get him roses."