One-Way Mirror
Written by Destina Fortunato

You dragged me in here because I wouldn't take the meds. Is that a fair assessment, Doc? Well, I don't need them. I'm perfect. I'm just... tired. Mostly I'm tired of talking about this. I've opened up as much as I'm going to. All your prying won't make me less guilty, so I wish you'd just let me be.

The same question all the time. It's old news, Doc. Would I have done it? Would I have done it? You sound like a broken record. Same song every time I see you. Only you don't want to hear what I'm saying.

It isn't a permanent reprieve, you know. I would have done it, just like I said, and he only gave in to save my life. I don't think it's worth saving. But he did. That's what mattered -- that it mattered to him. I saw the look of grief in his eyes. Hell, I saw that look every morning when I shaved. Sometimes in the afternoons, when the light was perfect and the world was quiet and slow, my eyes stared back at me from the water of the lake, begging me to end things. It was hard to resist.

I was close that the gap between life and death was barely a crack anymore. The phone call brought me back and gave me a momentary purpose, but I still thought about getting a little relief. Tim Bayliss, perfect detective, perfect murderer. Perfectly fucked.

The whole time I was back, it was the same. I sat in my hotel room every night, picturing the look on Frank's face when I finally spilled my guts, wondering if he'd ever believe me. He was my only chance to be free. I looked at my piece and I thought about freedom.

And about Francis.

It shouldn't really surprise you that this was partly about Frank. Or that I was thinking of him when I made up my mind. Not after everything I've told you.

I managed to say I loved him a couple of times. Of course, he wasn't listening when I did. On at least one occasion, he wasn't even there.

He knew, anyway. There wasn't anything about me Frank hasn't figured out.

Unlike you, of course, because the funny thing is, the more I talk, the less you seem to understand. Not that it matters. I've been in this business for a long time now. It's not new anymore. I know the routine, and this is just a small part of it. You get paid to listen, and judge me. That's all right. Someone has to. Judge me, I mean. Especially if this never goes to trial.

Good cop goes bad. I wondered about the headlines after the fact. They wouldn't let me see them. In fact, people seemed downright protective. A bunch of cops protecting a murderer. I can appreciate the irony.

What do you mean, stick to the subject? I thought I was.

Let's make Frank the subject now. I don't want to talk about the rest of it. Frank, or nothing. Who else would I tell?

I thought about throwing myself at him when his wife left him. Never had the guts, though. Yep, that would have taken more balls than I ever had. Best I could do was to dive in front of a bullet and save his life, so I could pine for him some more and make my life a living hell.

He couldn't take it. He ran. I knew it. He had lots of reasons, gave a number of interesting excuses for what he did, but I've been in the box with him. I've been in his head. I knew. And what sent him running was the fact that I knew, that I understood. Jesus, I've seen Frank avoid subjects with a determination that would make anybody crazy. He deflects. He finds a way around. For such a direct bastard, he's all over the map sometimes.

What? No. He never touched me. Not like that. Frank couldn't have crossed the line, even if I had begged him. Even if he was so inclined. There wasn't sufficient...justification.

That night was the only time, and it wasn't about that. It was something else.

Something made me bare my soul. I'd been waiting for the chance. Wouldn't have sought him out for it, I just would have found another route to penance. This was perfect, this was...karma. Not karma. Fate. The Way. And he wouldn't turn me away, because that would mean he doesn't love me, and he does. In his own way. So he did what I asked, because he wouldn't let me go down on my own. Not after I told him everything. Not after he knew what would happen if he let me go off without paying a price.

Frank didn't want to believe me, just like you don't. Is it so hard to believe I might want a little justice in this world? There sure as hell isn't any in the courts anymore. Why shouldn't I give Ryland what he deserved? He earned it. I was just the messenger. I knew what had to be done. Only, I couldn't stand myself when it was over. What I'd become. What this made me. That's why there was only one way out.

Frank still doesn't believe I meant to do it. None of them do. And I guess that's why we're here now, isn't it?

What that kind of sadness does to a man...I'm sorry I had to put him through that, but there was no one else.

He handed me off, he put me in the cell, he completed the circuit, just the way I wanted. Door slides open, I walk through. Neat and elegant, with just the smallest trace of regret. Saved.

I couldn't have told him, then, like I'd tried to tell him in the darkness, because reality was dissolving. That's the strangest thing. I knew what was happening, but I didn't believe. He leaned close and draped an arm around my neck, quick and certain, pulling my body next to his. I already knew. I saw it in his eyes, understood it for what it was. He wrapped his hand around my head and pulled me down, and his lips were gentle. Gone, and gone again, but I knew what it meant.

Absolution. From the man, not the cop.

It was a long night, that first night in the lock-up. There wasn't any reason not to think about what he'd done, or to hold back. It meant that there might be hope. But I figured it out, eventually.

Absolution means nothing when love dies in its wake.