Rating: M, for Murder
Pairing: Look, do you want the various hook-ups or the true-love destiny, because either way I'm not telling you.
Sent to San Francisco to eradicate a leak, Jill, Emily and Claire wind up on the trail of a serial killer that leads them into the dark depths of the Connecticut Mafia.
The sun was setting when they reached the downtown. It was easy to find where the body was, because the sirens and shouting led them right to it. David Hodges had been murdered in the lobby of a movie theater, and, unfortunately, the police had gotten there first.
It was swarming with cops and CSIs. The ME’s white van was parked out front. They drove around the block slowly, noting the least guarded entrances and the number of cops.
Jill glanced at Emily and Sara. “Diversion time?” Emily gave her a wry nod. Jill knew she enjoyed this way too much, but seriously, who didn’t love blowing things up. She had been taught this skill during a riot in New Hampshire, of all places.
They parked behind a dumpster near the back door of the theatre. Jill grabbed the two half full Styrofoam cups of coffee from the holders and chugged the cold dregs. She rummaged through the trash until she found a pair of serviceable beer bottles.
Sara and Emily pulled on vests and jackets that would make them pass for CSIs. Jill crumpled up the cups and stuffed the Styrofoam into the bottles.
Sara handed it to her and she filled them half way.
Emily pulled hers out of her case and passed it over. Jill topped off the bottles and stuffed the tops with a screwed up wad of cloth. She pulled out her lighter and gave it a test flick.
“Okay, I’m ready. You two get in position.”
Jill jogged off, carrying her two Molotov cocktails carefully, and grinning.
Around the corner she saw a bank, closed since it was nearly seven, glass windows, glass doors, perfect. This wasn’t going to be one of those tactical adventures, it seemed. Dusk was already falling, and she had a ski mask for just such an instance. She pulled it on and lit the fuses.
There weren’t too many people around, but some looked. One screamed. She hurled the first bottle. It shattered on impact and a huge fireball exploded, glass flying like shrapnel, black smoke billowing.
“Death to the Enemies of Quo’nos!” she shouted, just because.
The second one left her hand right as she saw a small figure, notepad out running up the street towards the explosion. Jill heard the bottle hit, but it didn’t break. She was running, like an idiot, towards her own bomb, and leapt, knocking the tiny redhead to the ground. The bottle exploded, the fire having eaten up the fuse and reached the gas. Glass rained around them.
“Shit,” Jill had banged something coming down like that. She scrambled to her feet and limped away, disappearing through the clouds of black smoke. She shook off the glass on her coat, coughing.
Cindy sat up, rubbing her stomach, and stared after the masked figure. She knew that voice, and that shape. Hurriedly she scrabbled around for her notebook, then jumped up and headed out of the smoke. Jill wouldn’t have liked the look on her face, or the direction she was heading.
* * *
“Good,” Catherine said as the door closed. “I wanted to talk to you alone, Alexandra.”
Claire took off her glasses, folded them, and placed them gently on the table. “You don’t have high enough clearance to call me that.”
Catherine sat in the chair opposite. “I’m high enough to know.”
Claire rolled her eyes as if to suggest that just knowing wasn’t very high at all.
“I thought we should make our positions clear.”
“Then what is your intended action if this killer is only going after Gilmores? Do you know enough to be sure it isn’t one of ours?”
Claire snorted. “I thought you knew who I was.”
“Warren Jacobi has been linked directly to the Gilmores. In fact, it looks like he was a close confidant of the Madame herself, with some responsibility about the succession.”
“As if their petty issues with rebellious heirs is our problem. What is you point?”
Catherine picked up the list Jill had left on the table. “My point is that your original task is pointless. The information about the Cabots was not going to any legal authority. Warren Jacobi, Gilmore; David Hodges, low-ranking Gilmore goon; Michael Logan, Gilmore. Shall we bet that he’s the next to die?”
“I wouldn’t be surprised. But why do you think it’s restricted to Gilmores? Did Hogan have any Gilmore connections?”
Catherine looked down at her notes. “Not as far as we know.”
“So he might just have been being used as a pawn by them, knowing we’d find out if they used anyone with direct links to the Gilmores. It doesn’t explain why he was murdered. In fact, our pat answer, to blame everything on the Gilmores, has been proven false.”
“So you’re planning on staying and solving this?”
“Why not? Nothing better to do.”
* * *
Emily watched Jill jog away with a pair of firebombs in her hand and wished she didn’t look like she was enjoying herself quite so much while doing something so incredibly dangerous.
Sara gestured her on and they ran towards the back door of the theatre, cases bumping against their knees.
They passed a narrow alley. Emily glanced down it and caught sight of a woman walking away. She froze. Dark hair, tan skin. The sound of an explosion and splintering glass ripped through the air. The woman turned, looking up so Emily could see her profile. There was no doubt.
“Emily! Hurry up!” Sara yelled. Emily turned away from the woman and jogged after her. She had to tell Jill about this.
The body was pretty well worked over when they got to it, sliding in undetected next to a fierce black woman who was trying to keep incompetents well away from her crime scene, while the police argued and rushed about, trying to figure out how to deal with the explosions.
The woman, who looked to be the Medical Examiner, announced that she’d have to do an autopsy to be sure, but cause of death was probably a stab wound in the kidney.
Hodges had the same two stab wounds in the back, but he hadn’t been ambushed at home. Is she escalating? wondered Emily. Sara talked most of the evidence out of a young punky CSI. He was spouting theories about muggings and eye harvesters from a weird-sounding movie he had seen recently. Emily extracts the contact number from the already harvested wallet, and then, when no one’s looking, pockets the whole thing, evidence bag and all. Better support the robbery theory. She hadn’t expected a contact number, but she wasn’t surprised at finding it. Jacobi had had one too. She jammed a narrow screwdriver into a particular part of Hodges’ cell phone and shattered the memory chip. It wouldn’t slow them down for too long, but she doubted there’d be anything useful there.
* * *
The phone rang. Claire grabbed it, if only so she wouldn’t have to talk to Catherine for any longer. “Hello?”
“Hi, this is Heather Hogan. Is Jill there?”
Claire let a half smile cross her face. The mysterious Heather, finally. “No, but this is her superior.”
“I just, I mean, she told me to call if I thought of anything…”
The woman was a bundle of nerves. A soft crack in her voice made Claire wonder if she was close to tears. “Any information you may have could be useful.”
Heather’s voice was hesitant. Perhaps too hesitant? Claire frowned into the phone and ignored Catherine’s inquisitive eyes.
“Yes, well. Tom… he had this number. He wouldn’t call it on any of our phones, but he often went out to call it. I thought… I mean, he told me it was an FBI contact, but if you don’t know about it… it could be…”
“I understand. Do you have the number?”
“Yes.” Heather read it out.
“Is that all?” Claire asked as she finished notating it down.
“Yes, I’m sorry I couldn’t think of anything else.”
“No, thank you, you’ve been most helpful.”
Claire hung up. Catherine took the number and typed it into Emily’s computer.
“It’s got an address.”
Claire put her glasses back on. “Then someone ought to check it out.” She stood.
Claire glared. “I’m fine.”
“I’ll come with you.”
“I told you. I’m fine. Don’t even think about coddling me.” This was why she hated it when people knew who she was.
“Not if I’m dead. And if I’m useless I’m as good as dead.”
The building looked oddly familiar. Claire glanced out the window on the third floor and saw the flower shop across the street. Right below her was the fish market. Things started to link together.
“I’m sorry, but that was a little slow, krasotka.”
Claire raised her hands slowly with a self-depreciating roll of her eyes. A narrow woman in a black tank top that showed off her sculpted arms stepped out of the shadows, pointing a gun at her.
“You’re a Cabot?” the woman asked, in her thick Russian accent.
“Unfortunately, I am.”
* * *
Sara and Emily moved out, nodding to the cop at the doorway as they left the scene. Jill was waiting at the car, looking a little scuffed, favoring her right knee.
“Are you okay?”
She waved Emily’s concern away. “Any luck?”
Sara shrugged. “Same MO, he’s on our list, it’s got to be the same person.”
Emily nodded. “He had a contact too, even though he’s not a Cabot.”
Jill nodded, thinking. Emily took a step towards her.
“I saw the same woman walking away from the last two scenes. She looks like your Lindsay Boxer.”
Both Sara and Jill stared at her. Jill’s face twisted oddly. “She’s dead.”
“I think she’s less dead than we thought.”
Jill tried to take a step, but her banged up knee buckled, Emily caught her.
“What did you do to yourself?”
Jill pushed her off. “Just got a little close to my own diversion. I’m fine.”
“Oh, yes, I can see you’re perfectly fine,” Emily snapped. It was always like this. She never admitted she was in pain when it really hurt, but she’d whine and gripe about imaginary bruises and blisters for hours.
Sara looked elsewhere for entertainment as the argument continued behind her. A woman with long messy brown hair was leaning against a building, watching them.
“Um, we’ve got company.”
Jill and Emily finally shut up and looked.
“Hey,” started Jill, not noticing Emily sliding in to keep her upright as she stepped towards the woman. “You’re-“
The woman, the bartender from the previous night, came towards them, flashing an awkward smile. “I’m Lorelai Gilmore.”
Jill’s jaw dropped. Emily and Sara reached for their guns.
“Hey, hey! I come in peace.” She gave her wide grin again and Jill felt a headache coming on.
“You’re a Gilmore heir?”
“The Gilmore heir. You haven’t heard about my tendency to give my mother a heart attack at least once a month.”
Jill looked blank. She didn’t have a habit of keeping up on office gossip. Neither did Emily, it seemed.
“I have,” said Sara. “That’s why the Gilmores moved their headquarters here. You ran away.”
“That I did, and was found again.” Lorelai dismissed the conversation with a gesture. “But, actually, I have a real reason to out myself and approach you. My mom’s captured Claire.”
Jill snorted. “What?”
“I know I’ve only slept with her once, but I’ve kind of grown fond of her, and I’d rather not let my mom torture her for an excessively long period of time.” Lorelai smiled again, in a way that made it seem like the entire thing was just an embarrassing inconvenience. Considering it was Claire, thought Jill, and that everyone wanted to torture her at some point in her life, it probably was.
Emily did not agree. When the words registered she nearly dropped Jill who had finally given in to leaning on her. “Wait? Torture her?”
Just then Sara’s phone rang. She answered it. It was Catherine.
“Someone named Heather Hogan phoned asking for Jill. Claire took the tip and she’s not back yet. She isn’t answering her phone either.”
Emily quickly tried Claire’s number. Nothing.
Jill turned to Lorelai and smiled. “So, I guess we believe you. What are we supposed to do?”
* * *