Long Road To Ruin

He kills them all without remorse, but very much with reason.

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8. Story

Jasper nearly hit the curb as he parked, jumped out, and walked inside the station. He knew that with Hastings was in custody, that someone had to be there to watch him, and someone was; they were standing beside one of the desks and glancing down at a paper. When the door swung shut, they looked up and frowned.

“What the hell are you doing here, Delaney?”

Jasper watched Hale’s eyes widen and something seemed to click in his brain. The absence of his partner would stir up many questions, and he just didn’t want to deal with that right now. He let out a breath, seized a stapler from the desk he stood by, and threw it across the room. It hit the bulletin board a few feet away, and as several tacks and papers fell to the ground, Jasper swore.

“Fuck!”

Samuel titled his head. “Where is she?”

Jasper’s lips pulled back to bear his teeth and he snarled, “If I knew where she was do you think I’d be here?”

“I guess not,” Hale muttered, bending down to pick up the papers. He straightened up and turned around, his eyes serious. “Jesus, Jasper, you look like you’re going to pass the fuck out.”

“Actually,” he said, “I do feel a little funny.”

A smirk pulled at Samuel’s lips and he stepped forward. He was holding something in his hand as he watched Jasper sway slightly, and he reached out to steady him, thrusting a cup of coffee in his shaking hands.

“Fear can do that,” Samuel said, nodding. “But if you want to find your partner, I suggest you drink the coffee in your hands, because I can’t carry you to the car if you faint or something.”

Jasper groaned as he swallowed the warm liquid, and he felt a little bit better, though all of his thoughts were on finding her. If this psycho had hurt Justine, he didn’t know what he would do, because she was the only reason he was still alive. When she was kidnapped years ago, when she first started, he had put himself in danger to find her and nearly ended up getting shot if she hadn’t saved him.

“This happened before, didn’t it?” Hale asked, watching his expression. Jasper nodded and closed his eyes.

“She was only doing files and things like that when she first started, and one night we were working on a case, our biggest one so far. It was a murderer who was killing secretaries, and I hadn’t even thought about Justine being unprotected because at that time I didn’t really like her – I thought she was annoying and weird – but that didn’t mean I wouldn’t protect her; she was still a member of the force, even at that stage. When it was just the two of us working one night I left her in here for a second while I went into the back, and when I came out, she was gone and there were papers everywhere.”

Samuel let out a shaky breath, clearly not prepared for the outcome of this story, and his eyes widened, but he remained silently.

“I found a note tacked to that board over there,” Jasper said, pointing. “It said if I wanted her back alive that I had to go to the warehouse across town, or he would shoot her and dump her body in the water. So I went, with no backup mind you, and that was stupid idea. I got there and I saw Justine, bound and gagged, her shirt torn open. There were bruises on her face and claw marks from the bastard across her stomach. At first I thought she was dead, but then she shifted and cried out, lifted her head and saw me. I’ll always remember that look in her eyes – fear, anger, relief – she thought it was over. We both did. And as I walked forward, he came out at me, with a loaded gun. He pointed it at Justine and was about to pull the trigger when he turned on me and fired. I fell onto the ground and I heard her scream, then I heard a thud. I didn’t want to lift my head, afraid of what I would see. When I felt hands on my shoulders and someone crying into my hair, I knew the killer was dead, that Justine was safe and holding me. Her touch changed then and I felt warm as I sat up and wrapped my arms around her body. She was crying against me for a long time, even after the rest of our team came and got us. I still don’t really know how she saved us, but I’m thankfully she did. It was after that experience that I saw her differently, and so did everyone else.”

He had stood there listening so closely that neither of them heard the doors open, and as Chief Bailey came in, he looked furious and beyond exhaustion.

“What the fuck happened, Delaney?” he demanded.

“Sir, Justine Collins is missing,” Detective Hale said impatiently.

“She’s what? Are you sure?”

“I’m sure,” Jasper said as he polished off the coffee. “Why else would I be here at nearly two in the morning?”

Bailey nodded and came around to stare at the Detective; Jasper was white-faced and shaking, his eyes closed and his hands wrapped tightly around the arms of the chair he now sat in.

“Jesus Christ,” Bailey whispered.

“Please,” came an agonized voice. “I can’t lose her. Not again.”

“Can we move him?” Sam asked, reaching out to grip Jasper’s arm. The blue-eyed man glared at him. “Never mind.” He said, taking a step back.

Jasper exhaled slowly and his eyes fell shut again. His head was pounding and his heart was racing. If they didn’t move quickly…if he didn’t move - he swallowed the lump in his throat and voiced his dread with a terrified tone.

“What if she’s-”

“Are you doubting yourself, Delaney?” Sam said in a hollow voice. “I can’t believe I just heard what I did. You’re the best cop we’ve got and you’re doing this now of all times? Justine needs you, don’t you know that? If she dies it’ll be your fault!”

Hale felt his body fly back instantly as the words left his mouth, and he gasped for air as he hit the wall, his eyes wide. Jasper was standing very close to him, his blue eyes burning with hatred, and his hands clenched around the collar of Sam’s shirt, holding him up. He looked very capable of snapping his neck, and he would have too, if her face hadn’t floated into his mind and told him to stop.

“Who the hell do you think you are to talk like that?” Jasper snarled, gripping tighter. “You don’t know. You haven’t even been here three years and you’ve already managed to make me hate you. Justine is mine, Hale, do you understand? The only reason I’ve been so civil to you is for her, because for some reason, she likes you. I can’t imagine why; you’re smug, egotistical, and a prick. You have absolutely no right to say anything about her. After this is over I don’t want you talking to her, thinking about her, or looking at her. Do I make myself clear?”

Jasper let him go and watched him slide to the floor, clutching his chest slightly, before he exited the station. He could hear Bailey shouting at him as he got in his car, slammed the door, put the key in the ignition, and picked up his cell phone. He needed more help than a rookie cop and an old Chief.

He needed Detective Kevin Skeeter.

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