The next evening
Blair and Jim were both pretty quiet on their way home from the station. They had a lot of things to process. Blair sighed, finally breaking the silence. “So. Do you think they’ll be ok?”
“Maggie’s a tough woman. She’ll take care of her. And you gave them our number in case…” Jim shook his head. “I’m still not sure about all this, Chief. You do realize we helped a killer escape? What if her memories come back some day?”
“If they do, hopefully by then she’ll have learned new behaviors that will override the old ones. Besides, I don’t think her memories will return. If Incacha did the job, it was done right. Anyway, we didn’t help a killer escape, we gave a little girl a chance at life.”
“Somehow, I don’t think the court system would agree with that. But I suppose the point is moot now anyway. Do you think she’ll always be like she is now?”
“I don’t know. It wouldn’t be much of a second chance if she didn’t get to grow up. And a Sentinel with a child’s mind wouldn’t be able to protect the tribe very well, would she? We’ll just have to wait and see, I guess.”
There was nothing to say to that. As they neared the loft, Blair turned to Jim, shaking his head in disbelief. “I still can’t believe our serial killer was a nun.”
“Well, her background was enough to make anybody certifiable. Her father killed her mother for cheating on him and made Catherine help him bury the body. For years he literally pounded it into her head that she was worthless like her mother and needed to be disciplined often in order to become pure. The nuns didn’t help. He sent her to a very strict Catholic girl’s school where the nuns constantly maintained order through fear and physical punishment. They knew about her mother and held it up to her as an example of what not to be. Everyone around her was telling her how the wicked would be punished, how sinners would die. She became a nun because she needed to keep herself pure. I wouldn’t be surprised if the coroner’s report showed that she was a self-flagellant. Some people like that can go for years without doing anything about their pent-up obsessions and personal demons.”
“Until something triggers it. Her father finally got caught for her mother’s murder. When he went to jail, she probably saw him as some kind of martyr, suffering for punishing the guilty. That’s when she decided to carry on his mission against sinners—starting with the women she didn’t feel lived up to the pure standards she had for the sisterhood. It was the only place she felt worthy and they were tarnishing it.” Blair looked out the window, forcefully tapping the back of his hand against the glass. “Man, the things people do to their kids!”
Nothing else was said the rest of the way home.
Jim and Blair walked up the stairs to the loft. The elevator was out again. They caught up to Mrs. Kravitz, their neighbor, as she slowly climbed the steps ahead of them, her arms heavy with grocery bags. Jim and Blair came up on either side of her and proceeded to take her bags. With a bag now in one hand, Blair reached out with the other to take Mrs. Kravitz’s hand. He kissed it with a flourish. “Let us carry these heavy things for you. What is your husband thinking, letting you haul all this stuff upstairs by yourself? You know, if we were in Kuamualaa this would never happen. A husband of the tribe would be shamed before the village to let his beautiful young wife be seen carrying such a burden alone.”
Mrs. Kravitz stared at Blair like he was a crazy person. They carried her groceries into her apartment for her and offered to help her put them away, but she thanked them quickly and practically shooed them out the door.
As they walked into the loft, Blair started grinning like a Chesire cat. “Did you see the way she was looking at me, Jim? I told you she had a crush on me.”
Jim couldn’t keep it to himself any longer. “Chief? There’s something you should know. I should’ve told you a long time ago, but… Mrs. Kravitz? Well, she…”
“Doesn’t like me. Yeah, I know. I may not be a Sentinel, but I’m not blind, either.”
“So why all this crap about her having a crush on you? And why were you slobbering all over her hand?”
“She may have decided not to like me, but I’m not going to let that ruin my day. Lots of people don’t like me—the clothes, the hair, the attitude, the mouth…”
“That’s because they don’t know you. Some of the guys at the station wondered if you were a little crazy when they first met you. Now that they know you better, they’re sure you’re crazy.”
They were silent for a minute before Blair burst out laughing. “Oh, man! Did you see the look on her face? I know I shouldn’t tease her like that, but it’s almost like she’s asking for it. Last week we ran into each other in the hall. She was in such a hurry to get away from me that she dropped her mail. I picked it up and followed her to her apartment to give it to her. You know how she always peers out the windows at us or through that little peephole on her door? I knocked and then I stuck my eye up close to the peephole. It sounded like she almost fell over in there! And then I loaned her husband that CD of tribal songs and warrior chants. You know, the one you said sounds like screaming cats in a blender? I heard him playing it the other day. I’ve never seen her leave the building that fast before! Mr. Kravitz came over later to thank me. He said it was the most peace and quiet he’d had around the apartment for quite some time.”
“You may look like a nice, harmless grad student, Sandburg, but you are truly evil.”
“Nah, man. Just creative. Speaking of creative… All this stuff with Alex got me thinking about a few new tests I’d like to try with your senses.”
“Tomorrow. It’s been a long day. Put that demented brain of yours to sleep.”
“Maybe that’s a good idea. It’ll give me a chance to toss around some more test ideas in the meantime.” He gave Jim an evil grin as he headed for his room. “Pleasant dreams, Jim.”
“Believe it or not, Chief. I think they actually will be.”
1) I tried to find Biblical passages to fit the mood/theme/moral of the various sections. I think most of them fit pretty well.
2) The title of the epilogue is a reference to the Concordance part of my Bible that helped me locate the titles and passages for all the other sections.
3) This fic wasn’t supposed to be anywhere near this long. It sort of took on a life of its own. After about part 8, I just wanted it to be over. I really hope that doesn’t show in the writing.
4) Sorry there wasn’t a lot of action in this one (or in a lot of my stories). I tend to write character-driven fics rather than action-driven ones.
5) I don’t really know what nuns do while they’re in their convents, so I skimmed over some of the daily life stuff. The exact routines of their days weren’t especially necessary for the story, anyway. I was also feeling lazy about doing research this time. So sue me.
6) I deliberately made Blair’s exact position within the department vague. It’s not important to this story whether he’s an observer, consultant, or detective. You can read it any way you want. This way most everyone can be happy—especially me.
7) On a note that’s slightly unrelated to this particular story, I always wondered if they made up the explorer Richard Burton on the show. But I was looking for a book in the library and, lo and behold, I found one by him. Unfortunately, it isn’t about Sentinels (grin). It seems Sir Richard Burton (the explorer not the actor) was a 19th century expert on a subject which I have an amateur interest in—swords and edged weapons. It seems he traveled the world studying the use of swords in various cultures. He intended to write a comprehensive, three-volume work on the subject (it would have been the first of its kind), but died having only finished one part. It’s called The Book of the Sword and it’s very in-depth and scholarly. He’s probably known for other things, too, but this subject was what made me interested in him.