TW : character deaths, violence, injuries, mentions of blood, mentions of physical abuse, mentions of abuse of children.

The sound of heels clicking on the concrete floor echoed through the first floor car park. She walked towards her car while her hand dug into her purse, searching for her keys. It was late, she was tired, and she regretted wearing those shoes. They looked professional and made her tall enough that she didn't have to look up at people to talk to them, but boy did they hurt her toes. But she was impatient to go home, hopefully in time to wish her boys a goodnight, so she walked as fast as she could without twisting an ankle. Halfway to her destination, she heard footsteps behind her. She tried to tell herself that a guard was keeping the car park safe, but despite her own reassurances, she felt her heart beat grow faster. Clutching the keys in her hand, she tried to walk a little quicker. She heard the footsteps change from a slow walk to a slight jogging pace and tried to match it by running. She was almost at her car when a hand grabbed her around the neck, squeezing so tightly that breathing became a struggle. Reflexively, she dropped her keys and purse, lifting her hands to grab at the one holding her. She tried to scream, cry out for help, and heard a slight, deep chuckle behind her. With trembling hands, she tried to claw at the hand around her throat, carving thin red lines by digging her nails into the skin of the back of the hand holding her tightly. What felt like an eternity later, she felt a sharp pain in her abdomen, letting out a gasp. In a second, the hand around her throat left her and she crumbled to the floor. She heard slow footsteps walking away from her and turned her head towards the sound. A dark blue shape was walking away, whistling a cheerful tune care-freely. Lifting her hands to her stomach, she felt warmth coat her fingers, saw blood when she looked down at them. Panicking, in pain, she tried to drag herself towards her purse. The world went dark before she could reach it.

The next morning, the day-shift guard walked into the guard's office, leaving his jacket on the back of the chair. Surprised not to have seen his night-shift counterpart yet to receive his shift-report, he pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and called his colleague. A ringtone rang out, the sound coming from behind him. He turned around curiously, only to notice a small, dried, red puddle at the bottom of the cupboard. He cautiously opened it, peeked inside, and slammed the door closed with a yelp. Hurriedly, he grabbed the desk phone and called the police. He waited outside until the officers arrived, leaving them to find his colleague's lifeless body on their own, while he sat down on the edge of the pavement, holding his head in his hands. A few minutes later, a shout sounded out from the car park and a policeman came to fetch him. For the second time that day, he had to look at a dead body. The woman was face down on the floor, her hand extended towards her purse lying mere inches away from her. There was a pool of blood under her, her clothes stained with it, and dried tears on her face. The policemen asked him to identify her, and he gave them her name. She was Katherine Sivers, majority shareholder of the S&J-Law firm, located in the building above the car park. Afterwards, he was told the car park would be closed for the day and he should head home. On the way, he made an appointment for a therapy session. Some things, you can't unsee.

Mid-morning that same day, a man walked into a high school. He had salt and pepper hair, dark brown eyes, a slightly too large suit and a badge at his belt. He spoke with the front desk lady and was granted permission to enter the principal's office. A few minutes later, the principal exited her office and walked briskly through the corridors. She knocked on a door, which opened to the cacophony of chairs scraping the floor as students stood up to greet her while she whispered with the teacher. When she left the room, she was accompanied by a young man dressed in a white dress shirt with tan slacks and dark leather shoes. The look made him look more mature and yet more juvenile for the effort. His dark blond hair hung down his forehead and slightly over of his dark blue eyes. She bid the young man to follow her as she kept on her path and acquired a second young man. This boy was older and wore bright red trainers, a black t-shirt with a mess of drawings on the front and simple dark jeans. He had tousled golden hair and forget-me-not coloured eyes. The principal brought them back to her office and sat down behind her desk. The detective was sitting on the other side of the desk in one of the chairs, leaving only one free for one of the boys. The second boy stood behind the younger one with his hands on the back of the chair. The detective took a deep breath and spoke up.

"I'm detective Simon Parker with the major crimes division. I need to ask you a few questions, if that's alright with you?"

"Why?" the oldest of the boys asked. The younger one shrugged.

"Thank you," the detective said, ignoring the question. "Has one of you spoken with your mother yesterday? Did anything unusual happen to her at work?"

"Why?" he asked again. The other shook his head.

"Did she receive any threats? Or had any unsatisfied clients?"

"Mom wasn't a solicitor; she inherited the firm when her husband died. She was the manager, accountant, whatever, but she didn't have clients. And I ask again, why?" he said, emphasizing the why.

The detective sighed quietly and rubbed at his brow with the tips of his fingers. "By her husband, do you mean your father?"

"He left too long ago for him to have been any kind of a father to us. Are you going to tell us why you're here?"

The quieter of the boys was staring at him with expectant sadness. He already knew, he was just waiting to hear Simon say the words. Probably, the older one knew as well and was simply unwilling to wait patiently for the news. "I am sorry to inform you that your mother passed away last night. The car park guard found her and the night-guard lifeless this morning in her office building. I'm terribly sorry for your loss."

In all the years Simon had been a detective, and before that, when he was a simple officer, he had never seen anyone react to such news in the way those boys did. The quiet one nodded slightly and bit his lip, but appeared otherwise unaffected. The older one crossed his arms over his chest and asked another series of questions.

"When did it happen?"

"We're not sure yet, the car park doesn't have surveillance cameras."


"I can't tell you that," he said.

"Why not?"

"This is an on-going investigation; I can't divulge the details at this time. Where were you boys last night?"

"Why? You think one of us killed our own mother?"

Simon raised a sceptical eyebrow. "Well you certainly seem unaffected by the news."

"Bad things happen all the time. Being surprised only wastes time." He sounded like he was repeating something he had heard before.

"So, last night?"

"Carter and I watched a movie last night. Went to bed around eleven."

"Anyone with you?"

"No, we didn't think to invite witnesses. Silly us."

Simon shook his head. "Well, if you remember anything, call me," he said, handing each of them a business card.

The older boy turned to the principal, who had stayed a quiet observer during the interview. "Can we go back to class?"

The woman seemed unsurprised. "Yes Jacob, you may both return to class." The boys left and she turned to Simon. "I hope you aren't seriously considering them for the murder. They loved their mother very much and they're very nice boys, they wouldn't have hurt anyone."

"They're a bit … odd."

"Their mother was that way as well, unfazed by anything. She thought that reacting to things in emotional ways was an inefficient way to deal with it, and that feelings could be dealt with later, in less damaging ways. It certainly is odd, but I can understand the reasoning behind it."

"You seem to know them well?"

"The boys get into trouble often. Not enough to get expelled, but enough for me to call for their mother to come here a few times. We talked, sometimes."

"What kind of trouble?"

"They cut class. Simply decide not to show up for it. We usually find them in the library, reading books. Their grades don't really suffer for it, so aside from the occasional detention hour, we simply let them be."

"Is that something you would do for any other student?"

"They aren't any other student. This is the only way they break the rules, by simply reading books in the library. Trust me, if some other students were more like that, my job would be a lot easier."

Given the sheer chaos of files on the woman's desk, Simon was inclined to believe her. He could remember some of what kids at his school had been up to. In comparison, reading books on school property during school time seemed very tame. Simon thanked the woman and drove himself back to the station.

After leaving the school, Simon visited Katherine Sivers' workplace. He talked to her assistant, who hadn't seen or heard of any threats against her. To her colleagues, who described her as a nice person and a competent and understanding boss and a generally hard-working person. He spoke to the building's security team, who confirmed that the car park was devoid of surveillance cameras, as well as its entrance and the street outside it. They also told him that the dead security guard was single, lived alone, and his parents had already been informed. At least he didn't have to have a second "I'm sorry but something terrible has happened" conversation today. By the time he reached the hospital and its basement level autopsy area, he had spent the majority of the day learning absolutely nothing that could help him catch the murderer. He greeted the medical examiner, an older gentleman who had worked for the city longer than Simon had been a cop, and listened to his report. The victim had been held by the throat before being stabbed in the stomach, just the once, from behind, most likely by a right-handed attacker. She had survived her wound and had died of blood loss in half an hour to an hour. Prior to that, she had managed to scratch her attacker, probably along the hands, arms or face, as she wouldn't have had access to anywhere else. The attacker was male and was not in the system – if he had committed a crime before, he hadn't been caught. The knife was a sharp, thin blade, most likely a cooking knife, easily found in any store. The same weapon had been used to kill the security guard. He had been hit over the head, with sufficient force to either cause him severe dizziness and confusion or to knock him out – either way, he had not attempted to defend himself as he was pushed into the cupboard and stabbed multiple time in the chest and abdomen. He had died faster than Katherine Sivers, almost instantly in fact, and had probably not felt a thing.

When he got back to the station, Katherine Sivers' financial details, her telephone and email logs had been sent to him and he pored over them for hours. She was not in debt, had not spent money frivolously and had given regularly to various charities. She did not go out to party, or even eat very much in restaurants – which confirmed what her colleagues had said; she cared about work and her sons and barely had time for anything else on the side. She hadn't received or made any odd calls, all the persons on the logs being either colleagues, clients or her sons. She did not have any other family. Her husband had disappeared of her and her sons' lives almost fourteen years prior, never to be heard from again. Her emails were all very professional and cordial – she did not seem to have any close friends, wasn't a member of any club or association. Her romantic life was apparently inexistent, or very well hidden. By the time he had finished reading every single line of the files, he was not any closer to finding any reason why someone would want to kill her. He moved onto the security guard. The young man had just graduated with a major in architecture and a minor in business, and was only working for the security company at night to pay for bills while he spent his days interning part-time for an architectural firm downtown. He had just moved in town from his hometown, hadn't made any friends yet, he had no siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, but had called his parents once a week. He hadn't mentioned any issues he might have been having. Simon thought the guard had been killed so the murderer could get access to the car park and be able to lay in wait and surprise his intended victim. Everyone he had talked to today had confirmed that Katherine was often the last to leave the building, long after closing hours. Most likely, she had been who the killer had intended to attack all along. If only Simon had any idea of why someone had wanted to kill her, had been ready to kill others and wait however long simply to get to her. By the time Simon went home that night, his wife Mary was already asleep and he followed shortly after.

The next morning, Simon received a call at six in the morning – another body had been found. The victim had bruises around the neck and a single knife wound in the abdomen. This time, the victim had died almost instantly – the knife must have cut into a major artery, perhaps ruptured the spleen, given the quantity of blood surrounding her. Simon kissed his sleeping wife's cheek, got dressed and left for the crime scene. The attack had taken place in Doctor Emily Palmer's office – more precisely, in the front room of her office, which was used as a waiting room. Emily Palmer was a therapist in her mid-fifties with a gentle, wrinkled face and an affinity for soft, woolly sweaters. Her husband and adult children were all out of town for a family reunion. She was going to catch a train to join them after work that day. Her body had been found by the cleaning crew who had arrived shortly after five to make sure everything was in order for the day's clients. Simon spoke both with them and with Emily Palmer's receptionist, but no one had any idea who would do this. Emily's clients were mostly wealthy, none of them with a violent history. The receptionist had left half an hour after the last patient the day before, and reported that Emily had been on her way out as well. The cleaning crew worked early mornings only, and hadn't touched anything once they noticed the door was unlocked – the crime scene was preserved. The scientific police's technicians had not found any footprints – for November, the weather was fairly pleasant, it hadn't rained in days, footprints were a long shot anyway – or fingerprints – either there were two different killers, or Katherine Sivers' murderer had learnt from his mistake and worn gloves. The lock hadn't been picked or broken and Emily's receptionist confirmed that the door was locked whenever clients weren't expected, so Emily must have let the killer in herself – whether because she knew them or because they tricked her into it, that was still unknown. As the detective had seen himself as he walked into the building, anyone could enter the lobby and have access to the stairs or the old-fashioned elevator, and there were still no security cameras. When Simon finally left the building, he had secured himself a list of every client Dr Palmer had ever worked with and obtained the contact information of the building's residents – one of them might have seen or heard the killer enter or exit the building.

Back at the station, Simon examined the list of clients and finally found something interesting. Paul Sivers, Katherine Sivers' husband, had been a client of Dr Palmer's before his disappearance nearly fourteen years prior. Of course, the content of the sessions were private and protected, so the detective wasn't able to figure out the reason behind Paul Sivers' hiring a therapist. Dr Palmer's receptionist hadn't worked for her at the time and had therefore never met Mr Sivers, but she did provide Dr Palmer's former receptionist's phone number. The man had moved cities and hadn't had any contact with either Mr Sivers or Mrs Palmer since his relocation but he knew why Mr Sivers had consulted a mental health specialist: the man had been in a car accident shortly before contacting Dr Palmer and had had severe nightmares following his release from the hospital. The former receptionist hadn't been privy to any more information about it; he simply knew what Mr Sivers himself had said to him while he waited for his appointment. None of the other names on the list had even a remote link to Katherine Sivers, and of course Simon would look into all of them to ascertain that none had a motive to kill Mrs Palmer, in case the two murders were unrelated, but first he visited the Sivers boys to ask for more details on the car accident Mr Sivers had had. The boys – and their mother, when she was alive – lived in red-bricked townhouse in a residential area of the city, not far from both the law firm and the high school. The interior, once he'd rang the doorbell and had been invited in, Simon could see, was minimalist and modern, all wooden floors and tan colours. The boys were still dressed in their school clothes, of a similar style to their outfits of the day before, as they led Simon to the living room and took place on the couch. Greetings exchanged, Simon asked his questions.

"Were you aware of your father's consulting of a Dr Emily Palmer? She's a therapist here in town. It would have been fourteen years ago."

"Did something happen to her?" Jacob asked.

Simon sighed quietly. "She was killed sometime last night. I found out your father was a former client of her and I think there might be a link with what happened to your mother."

"I'm not aware of much of anything concerning Paul's life," Jacob answered his first question. Simon found he looked genuinely uninterested by the subject, but his brother wasn't.


"All I know is that he had a car accident, was injured and had nightmares afterwards. He went to the therapist for a while, and not long after that, he was gone."

"You wouldn't have been much older than two years old when this happened. How did you hear about it?"

"I was curious. I asked and my mother told me."

Simon nodded, "Nothing else?"

"Not about this, no."

"Anything about his disappearance?"

"One day he was here, the next he wasn't," Jacob said. "Mom called the police, the hospitals, put his picture up all over the county, he wasn't anywhere."

"And none of you, including your mother, heard from him again since?"


Simon hadn't expected the boys to provide much information; after all they were all of two and four when their father disappeared, so he wasn't disappointed not to hear anything useful. He thanked them and returned to Dr Palmer's office building. It was now early evening, people would be coming home from work, and he hoped one of them would have noticed something the night before. He spent a couple of hours going door to door, but no one had seen anything out of the ordinary. No new faces in the stairway, no strange vehicles parked out front, no obvious knife-wielding psychopath hanging around the building. He went back to the station and decided to look deeper into Paul Sivers' disappearance via the missing persons' database. As Jacob had said, from one day to the next, everything stopped. No more phone calls or credit card withdrawals, no more showing up for work. His car had been found intact near his usual gym, but no one had seen him there and his member card hadn't been used to sign in. His body had ever been found; his death had never been proven. He had simply vanished and left no trace behind. From his financials and interview reports from the time, he had no reason to want to run away – no debt, no threats, and no enemies. On a hunch, Simon phoned the hospital where Paul Sivers had stayed after his car accident, a mere three months before he disappeared and asked for his medical records. He fetched himself a coffee while he waited for the files to reach him then spent a few hours looking into every member of staff Sivers had been in contact with. Of all his surgeons, doctors, nurses and physical therapists, only one had also mysteriously disappeared. One Carol Jeffers, 37, mother of two, had been one of the nurses tending to Mr Sivers and had not been seen for almost six months.

Simon looked deeper. Carol Jeffers had lived in town before moving two hours away fourteen years ago. Her disappearance had been filed by a neighbour. The children were named Alice and Luke Jeffers, twenty-one year-old twins. She was a nurse, he was a plumber. They had claimed not to have had any contact with their mother in months prior to her disappearance. More interestingly, she had disappeared at the same time as her life-partner, one Joe Peterson. Local police had looked into their disappearance, found out that Joe Peterson was a false name, and filed the case as a probable fugitive under an assumed name fleeing town with his beloved in tow. Digging deeper, Simon found out that Joe Peterson had moved in with the Jeffers thirteen years ago. Police had been called for noise complaints a few times since, as well as social services, who had not lodged a complaint against the couple, despite neighbour's testimonies of physical abuse on the children. As Simon tried to find the social worker's contact information to ask for more details, he found out that she had been murdered almost a month after Jeffers and Peterson's disappearance. Her name was Lucy Mathers; she had been in her fifties, no children, no husband. She had been stabbed three times in the stomach and had died from blood loss on the way to the hospital. The case was still open, no suspects, and no leads. By that point, Simon's eyes were burning fiercely and his vision was somewhat foggy, so he decided to go home and pick the research back up in the morning.

As Simon reached his house shortly after midnight, he noticed the door was open. Walking closer, he found the doorjamb had been broken, shards of wood sticking out of it, paint and wooden flakes all over the floor. He took his gun out of his holster and walked cautiously inside his house, going room to room, finding nothing. The last room to clear was his bedroom, the door to which stood ajar, the light inside off. With a sinking feeling in his gut, he pushed the door slowly open and flicked the light switch. He choked on a sob as he saw what was lying on the bed for him and let his gun gently fall out of his hand and onto the floor with a thud. He hurried around the bed, clutching his wife's body against his, covering himself in blood as he did, and cried, and cried. What felt like an eternity later, as his sobs died down, he gently laid his wife down on the bed, lovingly brushing her hair out of her face. He stood up, went to the small desk in the corner of the room, and wrote a short note. Next, he picked up his gun, holding it in his right hand so his left hand could hold Mary's as he lay next to her on the bed. That night, his neighbours woke up in the middle of the night as a gunshot was fired. Mere minutes later, two police cars sped into the street and stopped in front of his house, but it was too late. Both Simon and Mary Parker were dead, one from multiple knife wounds to the abdomen, one from a gunshot wound to the head, self-inflicted. A note left on the desk in the room explained that, following the death of Simon and Mary's teenage son Jack last summer, Mary had been Simon's whole world. He simply couldn't live without her.

The next day was a Saturday. In the afternoon, a man rang the doorbell to the Sivers' townhouse and was shown to the living room. He introduced himself as Aaron Sanders, detective of the major crimes unit, tasked with the resolution of the case of the recent knife killings in town. Contrary to Detective Parker, Sanders had volunteered for the assignment. Once word got around that Parker's wife Mary had been murdered by the same attacker as the victims in his case, none of the other detectives had wanted to get involved, all too afraid about their own loved ones. Of course, they wouldn't have had a choice if their captain had assigned the case to them, but fortunately for them, Aaron Sanders loved nothing more than to put criminals in prison, and wasn't afraid to risk himself for it. Part of his choice had also been his newly-single status, his divorce having been recently finalised. He now had no wife, they had had no children, and his parents had died a long time ago. All of his time could be put towards catching the killer. All of his other cases had been reassigned to provide him with better chances of success. Not that he would need them, of course, as Detective Parker had done most of the work for him. He now had motive, and a short list of suspects. All he needed was to find the perpetrator among them. For that reason, his first question was quite direct.

"Did you know your father was alive and living only a two hour drive from here?"

"What happened to Detective Parker?" the older one, Jacob, asked.

Aaron ignored him. "Did you know?"

"No we did not." he said sharply, "How did you?"

"Detective Parker asked to see a police's report yesterday. The files were only sent this morning. The pictures of the two men are a match, they're one and the same. Did you know he found himself a girlfriend and lived with her and her two kids for thirteen years?"

"What did he do to be involved in a police report?" Aaron was pleased he had taken to time to read Parker's notes on the boys before meeting them. Their behaviour would have classified them as suspects in his book already, if he hadn't known what to expect when he first decided to talk to them. They were carefully composed, and if they were being honest and hadn't known any of this, they were doing a very good job of not being thrown off. The younger brother's sharp blue eyes were fixed on him, staring at him with an intensity which made Aaron almost uncomfortable while the older one's calm and detached manner provided a strong contrast, causing the atmosphere in the room to be extremely confusing.

"He and his girlfriend vanished six months ago. No one has seen them since. Know anything about that?"


Aaron let silence settle in for a few seconds before he went on. "Detective Parker killed himself last night," he said matter-of-factly. He noticed Jacob's jaw clenching quickly, but it was the only reaction he got. "His wife was killed by the same guy as your mother and Emily Palmer. I think he got too close and somehow the killer knew it. The only people he talked to yesterday were you, and the people from Emily Palmer's office building. We had officers in front of the building to preserve the crime scene, so all of those people are accounted for. Which leaves you two. Where were you last night, between eight and twelve?"

"Why don't you look elsewhere for your killer? We didn't do it," Jacob said.

"No? Then how did the killer find out Detective Parker was so close to catching him?"

"If it's no one on our side, maybe you should take a look at your own."

Aaron shot him a sharp look. "You think a cop killed one of our own's wife and three other people?"

"Who's three?" Carter spoke up for the first time.

"Before going home for the night yesterday, Detective Parker found out a woman who had a link to your father was killed five months ago. Just one month after he and his girlfriend vanished."

"So why don't you look at someone from his new life? We're not your guys," Jacob said.

"You're the only ones who knew how the case was progressing. That's the only possible motive for Mary Parker's murder."

"Like I said, you should look at your own. And now if you'll excuse us, we have homework to do," Jacob said dismissively. His brother huffed an amused sigh, and followed suit as Jacob stood up and practically pushed Sanders out the door.

Back at the station, Detective Sanders reconsidered his pool of suspects. His theory was sound, there was no other reason for Mary Parker to be murdered otherwise – at least, not rational reason, it could always be the work of a deranged psychopath. Among the people who were aware of the case's progress, either loosely or intimately, the Sivers boys and Emily Palmer's neighbours could be set aside as unlikely. It left all of the scientific police staff, Parker's bosses, the medical examiner's office and the people he had contacted for information. Choosing to investigate the police force as a last resort if no other lead checked out, he turned to the people Parker had called the day before. Aside from Mrs Palmer's neighbours, he had only been in contact with her phone company, her bank and the hospital Paul Sivers had been admitted in after his car accident. That last possibility was like a revelation to Sanders. Carol Jeffers, Paul Sivers aka Joe Peterson's girlfriend, had been a nurse at that hospital. Could she have gone back there? After all, the police wasn't actively looking for her. The branch of administration tasked with collaborating with the police was the Public Relations service, Sanders thought, so contacting another service would probably be safe enough as to not alert the killer, or their accomplice, of his suspicions. He called the Human Resources service and asked them to search for employees named Jeffers or Peterson. If that search failed, he would simply provide them with a physical description instead. To his surprise, there was indeed a Nurse Jeffers employed at the hospital, but she wasn't quite the one he expected to find. With this new piece of information, the case became clearer and Sanders felt confident he had solved it.

After further research and having received his boss' green light, Detective Sanders, with the help of almost a dozen other police officers, busted in the door to a flat with a loud bang and quickly went inside. The other officers spread out, clearing out other rooms as Sanders and a few others tried to gain the upper hand on the two people who had jumped up as the door exploded out of the doorjamb. The woman had stood, shocked, and was easily taken to the ground and cuffed there as an officer stayed with her and held her wrists tightly to avoid her escaping. She screamed as she watched the man she lived with run at police officers with a knife held up high. The officers lifted their weapons and aimed at him. Shots rang out among the chaos of noise. The man shouted in pain and dropped to the ground, his knife sliding away from him. Sanders walked over to him as officers cuffed him and made him aware of his rights as he assessed the situation. The man's dark hair fell into his brown eyes as he struggled against the hands holding him down. With his walkie-talkie, Sanders asked for an ambulance to come to the scene. An officer, wearing gloves and using two kitchen towels, pressed down on the wounds in the young man's shoulder and abdomen. During all of this, the woman hadn't stopped shouting; spit flying out of her mouth in her anger and desperation. She yelled out his name, again and again, despite not getting a response, intermitted with demands of being released and claims of innocence. The ambulance came, the man was taken away, and the woman was walked to a police car and driven to the station. She stayed there a few hours until Detective Sanders joined her in the interview room and dropped a thick folder on the table.

"Where is your mother, Miss Jeffers?"

"I don't know." Her voice was flat, her posture laid-back against the chair despite her hands being cuffed to the table in front of her.

"Where is Joe Peterson?"

"I don't know."

"When did you find out Joe Peterson used to be Paul Sivers?"

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"I think you do. That's alright," he said gently. "Who killed Lucy Mathers?"

"I don't know."

"Was it you or Luke?"

She refused to answer.

"Was it Luke? Did he kill her? What about the others, did he kill them too?"

She stayed quiet.

"You probably think you're protecting him, right? But we have his DNA on the crime scene; we have the knife he used. We also know you worked the night shift last night, that's how you knew Detective Parker had figured out Joe and Paul were the same person; your friend in PR told you about it. Of course, she didn't know why you had asked her to call you if someone were to look for that particular file. Anyways, that means you have an alibi. Luke doesn't, does he? We already know he did it. We know you helped him. The only way to save him now, is to tell me everything. He didn't mean to, did he? He's sick, Alice, he needs help. He needs –"

"He's not sick!" she interrupted, slamming her hands down on the table. Sanders reflexively jerked back slightly. "They deserved it, they all did, for what they did to him!"

"What did they do to him, Alice?" She shook her head. "Why did Emily Palmer, Katherine Sivers and Lucy Mathers have to die?"

After a short silence, she answered, quiet mumbles spoken in a fast rhythm, "they knew, they all knew, and they never stopped him. They let him hurt him, hurt us, no one stopped him, no one." She repeated "no one" to herself, over and over, in a quiet murmur.

"Alice? Alice, can you hear me?" Sanders asked. She had no reaction. Sighing, he picked up his folder and started to leave the room.

"Where's Luke?" came a high voice.

"Luke's in surgery."

She broke into loud sobs, hunching over the table, her long dark hair falling around her shoulders like a curtain hiding her from view. He left the room.

The next day, Aaron Sanders rang the doorbell to the Sivers' townhouse once again. He was shown to the living room and sat on a couch opposite the two boys. He told them that their mother's case was closed, explained how Paul aka Joe had physically abused his step-son for years. How one day, six months ago, Joe turned against his step-daughter instead, how Luke went murderous in his rage, killed Joe and Carol Jeffers with a kitchen knife he had grabbed off the counter. How Luke decided to get revenge from everyone who had failed him and his sister, starting with the social worker, Lucy Mathers, who hadn't taken action after neighbours and teachers had noticed bruises on the boy's body. He went on to explain that Alice Jeffers, being a nurse, had found Paul Sivers' old medical records by accident, and had understood he and Joe were one and the same. Luke had decided to extend the list of people who had let them down to people from Paul's life. He had killed Katherine Sivers for not having to live with an abusive husband. The security guard had simply been in the wrong place, standing between Luke and his victim. Dr Emily Palmer had been killed for not taking steps to stop Paul before he turned violent. Mary Parker had been killed because Detective Simon Parker had gotten too close to the truth, alerting Alice Jeffers who, as a nurse in the hospital Parker had contacted, had heard about his inquiries and had told her brother. Of course, Katherine and Dr Palmer could not have prevented Paul's transformation. The day he had disappeared, an anonymous tip had been called to the police: a man was being mugged. By the time the police arrived at the scene, the witness, victim and perpetrators had all vanished. Detective Sanders theorised that Paul had received a hit on the head, which, coupled with his previous injuries from the car accident, had caused him brain damage. His memory must have been erased; his personality altered into that of a temperamental, violent man. The system had failed the Jeffers siblings, but in the end, their actions had been their own choices, costing no less than eight lives. Luke had survived his surgery. In a matter of days, he would be transferred to the prison, where his sister already was. No doubt they would be convicted in the trial, probably to life behind bars. The twins would never, ever see each other again.

AN: Fun Fact : I wrote this, originally, when I was about ten. Because what ten year old isn't thinking about murder and abuse, right? I'm totally normal. Anyway, I recently found it, discovered how utterly terrible it was, and decided to fix it up. I can say it's better, which says a lot about how it used to be.

Also, I don't know about you, but we did have to stand up every time someone in charge came into the classroom, so I put it in there.