Some Tides Don’t Turn Who: Fee & Samuel. What: Samuel gets an early morning distress call. Where: 707 and beyond. When: 31 October, 3:16 a.m. Warnings: Language, gore, violence, and general emotional masochism. Notes:Completed log.
When the call came, Samuel sharply awakened from the most vivid of dreams. He had been at war, a bloody and brutal affair, hip-deep in the carnage his other self had created. At the corners of the battlefield had stood his consort, his children, all those he had fought beside and protected. It was - a bit unexpectedly - a tender sort of scene, at least by Ares’ standards. So it was with some reluctance Samuel’s psyche left that place, well known and comfortable and right as it was. Rejoining the waking world was a shock, a feeling like being plunged headlong into icy, unwelcoming water. But his cell phone continued to ring, and the short hairs raising at the back of his neck assured him it was nothing to ignore.
“Wolfe,” he rasped, his voice hoarse from sleep (and to some extent, the raucous activity that had come before it). Beside him Lia stirred slightly in her sleep, burrowing deeper under the covers.
He could barely discern the identity of the caller, carelessly having forgotten to look at the screen before answering. But already he was up from the bed, noting only in passing the dishevelled nature of his surroundings.
“Fee, slow down. Deep breaths.”
In a drawer at the bottom of his closet his go bag helpfully rested, ever stocked with the most essential of items - extra, loaded magazines, heavy bandages, tourniquet, gloves, cuffs, and the like - and fully waterproof. He pulled it free, sliding it out into the bedroom.
“Where are you?”
He pulled clean clothing from his shelves, dressing hastily, the phone pressed firmly between his shoulder and ear.
Her arm was tight around Karin, as though she might disappear if she let her go, and she held her phone awkwardly to her ear as tears continued to stream down her face, as more of her blood soaked through everything. She tried to pull herself together, forced herself to speak clearly, so he could understand, so he could find them.
“We’re on the island,” she said, her voice hoarse and shaken by tremor after tremor. “Please, Sam, we need help, she needs help, it’s -- it’s so bad. She’s --” her voice broke off, and she took another breath. “I don’t know what happened, Sam, I told her not to come here, I don’t know why she came here --” Once again, her words were choked off by a sob. “We need help, she has to go to the hospital...” With that, she hugged Karin tighter, holding the phone to her ear. “What do I do? What do I do?”
Her fingers were cold and going numb, but they curled tighter around Karin’s shoulder as she held her in her lap, as she pulled her closer. Over and over she went over the events of the night, signs she should have noticed. She should have known she was leaving. She should have been watching her more closely. She shouldn’t have been working, she should have taken the night off and stayed with her. And now, there was so much blood, and she was so cold...
“Stay there,” he said, knowing full well she would not do otherwise. “You did good callin’ me, okay? I’m on my way. Just sit tight.” Perched on the edge of the bed he strapped his ankle holster into place, the little .38 nestling flush against his leg. “I’m gonna have the Coast Guard out to you soon, so don’t fuckin’ shoot ‘em if they get there first.” He rose from the bed, the weight of his freshly blooded Kimber .45 a welcome reassurance against his ribs. He felt his heart beat against that hard metal, master signaling to servant, attuning one to another.
He leaned down over Lia, a barely perceptible frown darting over his features. Though he hated to leave her now, particularly on business whose nature and potential ends he could not begin to fathom, he saw no way around it. His hand skimmed her naked arm, a gesture of farewell. “It’s work, sugar,” he whispered, his mouth lifted from the phone. “Kinda. Goin’ out to the island.”
“OK, papi,” she murmured sleepily, putting her hand over his to pull it to her lips. “Love you. Be careful.”
Samuel grabbed his keys from the night stand, his bag from the floor, and left the room on broad, quick strides. He was out the door in a moment; at the stairwell in under a minute, taking the steps three at a time as he raced to his truck. “Stay on the phone. Tell me what happened.”
“I don’t know,” she said, her voice strained, the fingers of her free hand stroking the wet tips of Karin’s hair. “I... I just knew. I just knew. I...”
A sob tore through her.
“I felt it. The voice -- it told me. It sounds crazy but it’s true, she’s been whispering in my fucking ear for weeks, maybe months, but she was just screaming tonight. Just -- I felt it. I knew I had to come here. That Kar was here...”
Karin was propped up on her thighs as she sat in the soaked dirt. She cradled the phone between her ear and her shoulder as she shifted her hold on her, pulling her closer, tenderly stroking her face, wiping away the mud as best she could. Her eyes were open, unseeing, and Fiona started to cry again.
“I swam. I swam, and then I walked, and I found her...” She shook her head, tears streaming down her face. “She’s... there’s so much blood,” she said, looking down the length of her sister’s body, realizing as a cloud moved away from the moon that it was so much worse than she’d known. Still holding her, still trying to keep her phone at her ear, her free hand moved to the gaping tear in Karin; it was so much more than blood. Fee shook her head and sniffled, a keening sound escaping her as she pressed her hand to the wound, trying to press everything back in.
“Sam...” her voice shuddered. “Sam, where are you? Please, we need help... I’m not supposed to move her, right? She always says that, she says if somebody’s hurt, you’re not supposed to move them...”
“She’s right, Fee. Don’t move her.”
The sound of his truck’s door opening rang across the line; louder still was the sound of it slamming closed. The truck roared to life, Samuel’s foot firmly on the gas pedal before he was fully out of Park. He peeled out of his parking spot with an audible screeching of tires.
“Are you hurt?”
It was almost as though Fee didn’t hear the question; she simply shook her head, forgetting he wouldn’t see, as she pressed her hand to Karin’s torn stomach.
He reached beneath the dashboard, flicking his police scanner on, roughly jerking the handset up to his mouth. Dispatch answered quickly, and listened intently as he growled into the mic what little information he had. It was enough to ensure backup was on the way and an ambulance in route, though the longer Fiona spoke the more uncertain Samuel was that the latter would be of any use. As he signed off the police band he thumbed the Speaker icon on his phone, filling the cab with the sounds of his friend’s barely controlled and quavering tone.
“Fee, I’m five minutes away,” he said. He looked down at the odometer; at the rate he was going, five minutes might not truly be a stretch. “I’ve got medics and backup en route. Now. Are you hurt? Is anyone else there?”
The island was in sight now, even in the dead of night; he saw its shadow looming like a black hole on the horizon, swallowing up all in its path. His headlights illuminated a wide entry point for lifeguard personnel. Samuel steered the Ram in its direction, the truck effortlessly jumping the curb and skidding out into the sand. The next mile was a whirlwind, gone before he knew it. He braked hard at the Coast Guard’s slip, where waited a small speedboat already arranged by dispatch. He locked the truck’s doors behind him without a backward glance. Samuel stayed on the phone as the Guard guided them out into the water, the island’s star-eating blackness rising higher up above them with each passing mile.
Realizing he was talking to her again, she shook her head again, keeping the phone between her shoulder and her ear, and said, “I don’t think so. I haven’t seen anybody. I’m fine. I”m fine, it’s her. She’s -- it’s bad.”
It was overwhelming, the smell and the feel, an the cold, the impossible cold. Had someone else done this? Some person? An animal? She shook her head. “Who the fuck does this, Sam? I don’t -- I don’t know how it happened. I don’t know.” Her voice was shaking. “I should have been with her. I was at work, I couldn’t leave, but I should have taken the night off.
“I’m sorry, Kar... Please stay with me,” she whispered to Karin. “Please...”
“Fee, don’t do that,” Samuel growled, his voice gravelly and almost angry. He would have a difficult fight on his hands the moment he arrived on the shore, of that he was certain; it would be all the worse if she blamed herself now, if she got caught up in fault-finding and could not focus on proper action. “We’ll handle it, okay? Listen to me.”
Her attention snapped back to his voice, and she took a shuddering breath as she held Karin. “OK. OK.”
Expertly the Guard turned the boat, easing it up to shore, almost perfectly parallel. To keep the boat from grounding Samuel would have to wade, though that was nothing he could not manage. Without a word he pulled his .38 free, moving it from his ankle to the safety of his go bag. He took the blanket the Guard offered, his pack slung over one shoulder, the blanket over the other as he jumped the boat’s side. He gained the shore quickly, his jeans soaked up to his groin, ignoring the weight of the salt water as it tried to drag him down. He was calling for Fiona the moment he reached the treeline, slowing only a moment to retrieve his sidearm. The .45 was a welcome weight in his hands, a stalwart companion as he navigated the forest.
“Fiona,” he barked, ducking to avoid a low-hanging branch.
Relief flooded her when she heard his voice, and she only clutched Karin tighter. “Sam! Sam, we’re over here!”
Her voice was hoarse but resonant, carrying through the trees as she projected it as loudly as she knew how. Her arms had started to ache, her legs were falling asleep, but it was OK -- Samuel was here, and he’d have backup with him, or an ambulance, or something. That dark voice inside her -- female, that much was certain -- though, was unforgiving, almost scathing.
Don’t be stupid, girl. They’ve killed her.
Fee almost dropped Karin when the voice finally articulated itself in words.
“Shut up,” she hissed viciously. “Shut the fuck up, you fucking bitch.”
Adjusting her hold on Karin, she shouted louder, her voice desperate, on the verge of breaking again. “Sam!”
He followed the thread of her voice, at last breaking through into the starlit clearing. What he saw there made his blood run cold. Battlefields he had seen, and intimate suicides, and raucous, overflowing riots. This was something else entirely. This was an ancient and unflinching brutality, the likes of which Ares - now stirring deep within him - seemed to recognize. For his part Samuel ignored the strangeness of the door and the unlikely ruins that surrounded them, his only point of focus the girl now kneeling in a spreading pool of gore. Samuel went to her, holstering his weapon, certain now that there was nothing here but death. As the steady thrum of helicopter blades sounded above them he reached out to her, hard fingers shifting close around her arms.
“What are you doing?” she asked, her fingers curling tighter around Karin, looking up at him, blinded for a moment by an untenable brightness from above.
“Fiona, help’s coming,” he said, kneeling down in the caked earth beside her, the brilliant searchlight illuminating them both. “They’ll need to see Karin, okay? You can go in the trauma hawk with her but you’ll have to let them pick her up.”
He pulled her closer to his chest, the gesture prying her farther from her sister’s cooling corpse. Samuel’s frown deepened. This was not the first time he had performed such a task, each time praying it would be the last.
“No, no, they’re not here yet! Where are the paramedics?” She tried to wrench out of his grip, her wet, numbing fingers losing their grip on Karin. In vain, she tried to curl them in her sister’s shirt. “Fucking let go, Sam! We can’t leave her there, we can’t leave her in the mud!” The goddamn tears were starting again, spilling down her cheeks as she fought against Samuel’s inexorable grip. But as her hands slipped away from Karin’s arm, from her stomach, she saw, she truly saw, and the truth of what that cunt voice inside her had kept saying came to light in the unforgiving beam from above.
“No, no, no,” she cried, her voice hoarse and twisted and breaking. “No, Kar, no...”
Her eyes were empty, her body cold, her body torn open. Fiona’s own shaking hands were drenched in her blood, her bare feet in blood and mud.
“Let me go,” she screamed, trying to wrench herself away from him as she could; but she was weak from the swim, from the cold, from holding Karin so long. Still, she fought. “Let me go, let me go, she -- she --” she broke off into a ragged sob.
“Kar,” she whispered brokenly.
His heart sank somewhere into his stomach as he tightened his grip; it seemed to leave him entirely as he pulled her away, leaving in its place a cold, empty void. All that remained was action, the better part of this centered solidly on shielding his friend from as much of this carnage as was yet possible.
“Fiona. Let’s go.”
Her slight frame pressed flush to his chest, he rose from the ground, carrying her with him as he did. He was careful to move slowly, one scant inch at a time, so that Karin’s body did not fall so much as settle gently to the earth. Fiona watched as though it were someone else -- something else -- that had drifted back onto the wet ground. No sooner had her dark hair settled around her face - a blessed veil, Samuel thought, though not enough to wash the memory of those eyes away - than the first responders set boots to ground, the useless gurney suspended between them as they touched down.
He gestured to them, grateful they understood. He did not so much release Fiona as loosen the vise grip of his arms around her. He drew the blanket around her, pulling it as tight as swaddling clothes: The least he could do was hide most of the blood from her sight until he could fetch her clean clothing. He kept her thus restrained until he saw movement in the trees, a quiet rustling that signaled the arrival of his cohort. Detectives of Orange County’s homicide department began to slowly flood the clearing, and Samuel stepped back to allow them more room. Now the real nightmare - the drudgery of endless statements and photographs and measurements and evidence collection - would begin.
Fiona was only vaguely aware of Samuel easing his hold on her, the image of Karin -- Karin, Karin, Karin -- brutalized, torn apart, violated in the most gruesome sense of the word, empty-eyed, pale and cold, the only one she could see. There were people now, men in suits or uniforms or something. They were everywhere now, but where had they been? Where had anyone been. Her stare was vacant as she watched them. The dark voice -- Ereshkigal -- pushed at her, but she ruthlessly, almost effortlessly shut her down, shut her up. Not now. And maybe there was some respect, some reverence, or maybe just innate understanding of what was happening to Fiona at that moment. It was nothing that had occurred to Fiona yet, whatever it was. Fee watched as they swarmed over her sister. Over her sister.
“Come with me,” he said, giving her a tight squeeze. “Just over to the beach.” Above her head Samuel shot a look to the Lieutenant, one that left no room whatsoever for misinterpretation. “I’m staying with you when you talk to them,” he added then, his voice dropped to a whisper as he looked down to his trembling friend.
“I don’t want to talk to anybody,” she said, her voice little more than a rasp, but she went where he led her, her movements mindless and heavy.
“We have to,” he said, hard fingers gently stroking her arm. They left the clearing, Samuel pausing as needed to push heavy branches away from her face or to guide them around deep, oddly-shaped sinkholes pressed into the ground. These, too, he marked, noting them to mention to investigating officers later. “If you want to help her, you have to tell them whatever you can remember. Just enough to shut them up tonight, okay?” They reached the bank; the Coast Guard waited, the boat purring as it idled in the shallow, black water. “We’ll go back to the station, let them ask a couple of questions, and then I’m going to take you home.”
Without looking at him, she nodded, and huddled closer to him. Vaguely, she realized the salt water was burning tiny cuts on her feet, but she didn’t care. Once they were in the boat, her eyes didn’t leave the island. She watched, unblinking, almost as though she could see what was happening, could see them lifting her into the helicopter -- and for a moment, she thought she could. She watched and watched until the light coming from the helicopter changed, withdrew, it and the boat moving further and further apart until neither could sense the other in the dark.