Returning to the Scene
by Alee



Summary: Killers often return to the scene of the crime, and it's a hard discovery when you realize that *you* are the killer.


Killers often return to the scene of the crime.

He'd heard that phrase before, of course, heard it bandied about in pop psychology classes by eager pseudo-analysts, heard it tossed off as expository dialog in countless police dramas, heard it preached in monotone from the lectern of the academy, but...

This time it seemed real, true in a way that dry academics could never be. Maybe it was because this time *he* was the murderer, even if his crime was only against a dream and his weapon was merely mistrust.

He turned slowly, taking in the pile of warped discs, fresh from the oven and bent in squares of melted plastic like some bizarre modern art. The shredded paper overflowed every trashcan in the loft, and he wondered idly how much of the Amazon stood bare and deforested in tribute, the only monument to a life's work thrown away.


The whisper was barely audible, even to his own ears, but the tired form slumped over the table stiffened, sat a little taller, and he watched Sandburg's fingers skate nervously over the wood.

"Jim. Uh, sorry this stuff's not out of here yet. I'll be done in just a sec, and then I'll bag all this stuff up and--"

"I'll help, Chief."

Blair turned to face him, finally, and the gratitude in his eyes was almost more than Jim could bear. He was offering to help him finish destroying his life, throw away the career for which he'd worked so hard and so long, and Blair was grateful?

"It's the least I can do. I just wish..."

Could he honestly say he wished things had been different, that Blair *hadn't* had to refute his work, that his secret wasn't safe, publicly debunked and forever discounted? No. The truth of the matter was that this resolution left him far more comfortable than Blair's doctorate would have, but at what price? He dropped his eyes guiltily, and swore he felt a blush staining his cheeks.

A hand fell on his arm, and his startled eyes met Blair's once more. If it were possible to dissolve from shame, he would have done so when he met that understanding, forgiving gaze.

"I know, Jim, but this is the way it had to be."

So he nodded, bending to gather the discs in one hand and help Blair bury the corpse of his former life. It was done, the time for options and second-guessing was long gone, and now there was just the clean-up, the cover-up, the denial that things had ever gone so wrong. He just wished he knew what the final sentence for this crime would be.

## End ##



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