Gathering the Facts
"Alright, Wesley. You've been acting twitchy all week. Spill now," Cordelia demanded, glaring at the former Watcher.
For his part, Wesley Wyndham-Pryce was running his fingers over a rosary, with a stack of brand new stakes in front of him, and a round trash can filled with wood shavings at his feet.
Wesley looked at her, his eyes haunted and swallowed twice before he could manage any words. "The trial... he was there. But it's not supposed to be possible. I checked the blueprints in the library archives, and with the city planning department. There's no underground access to the courtroom. Nobody at Lorne's knows of any later additions to the underground tunnels. There is no way to get there without magic transportation or walking through the sunlight."
"No access to the court rooms without going through the sunlight. Fine, what does that have to do with anything?" Cordelia started taking the stakes away from Wesley's heap, putting them in the box that they could tuck out of sight when clients came to the lobby.
"The Count was at the trial."
Cordelia dropped the batch of stakes to the ground. "But he's a vampire! Vampires can't go into the sunlight... unless he had one of those tacky magic rings? Did they even make more than one of those? Another Gem of Amarra?"
"The Watchers' Journals and the texts suggested that if the Gem of Amarra wasn't a myth, and most believed that it was only a story, then there was only the one. He did not have on a ring that looked like the Gem. I have no idea how he was able to..." Wesley shuddered and fell silent.
Cordelia knelt down, carefully picking up the stakes. "You're saying that the terrifying crazy vampire can go out in the daylight, and we have no idea why? Do we know anything else?"
"Scooter Dee's lawyer may have vanished, or may have been found as a horrendously mutilated body in his apartment last week."
"I take it back, I don't want to know anything about it anymore."
Kate Locksley stared at the report from forensics, concerning the apartment of Colin Finnegan. The coroner’s report on the body found in the apartment was right below it, and she really didn’t want to read either one. The images were still seared into her mind, lurking beneath her eyelids to keep her awake at night, twitching at each little sound at the window.
She was a cop. She was her father’s daughter. She was supposed to be brave…
Her hand shook as she pulled out the coroner’s report and flipped it open. A few key facts were on the first page, neatly separated from the details about the body’s condition and the causes of gruesome death. The remains had been identified as those of an adult male, approximately five foot eight to ten inches tall, mid twenties. Blood samples and DNA analysis had been sufficient to compare to blood donated to the Red Cross by Colin Finnegan and served to identify the remains as Colin Finnegan with a ninety seven percent certainty. Time of death was estimated at between midnight and two in the morning.
Her courage failed, and Kate didn’t look at the later pages that would detail the particulars of the coroner’s efforts to fit the pieces back together and identify what had been removed in what order and when he’d actually died. She only looked at the second page of the summary, nodding at the statement that he had not been suffering from any known neurological disorders, and that the blood-work had come back free of any drugs or poisons. Just a very high level of adrenaline and endorphins.
Closing the coroner’s file, Kate put it back on the desk, and looked at the forensics report. Part of her wanted to apologize to the CSI staff for having to deal with that nightmare scene. Another part wished that she hadn’t had to deal with it either. She knew that they’d taken pictures. Lots of appalling and gruesome full color pictures.
“Delaying won’t help, won’t make them go away, and doesn’t do a thing for the images,” Kate sighed and opened the CSI report.
The first thing was a note penciled on half a sheet of note paper that was paper clipped to a picture of the television, with those awful words scrawled in blood over the screen. Kate felt herself pale even more as she read the note.
Whoever did this is meticulous about details, and scary. The number of glass fragments is exactly 7,392. There were no clear fingerprints that we believe to belong to the murderer. Fingerprints of Finnegan, Finnegan’s landlord, Finnegan’s sister Grania have been found, but no clear prints from the killer. Your killer is probably OCD with deep anger issues.
The fact that the glass fragments had matched the number written in blood on the television was almost as bad as the images. The only way that could happen would be if the killer had stopped to count the pieces before leaving the crime scene. Also, somehow the whole apartment building had missed the window shattering as well as the death of Finnegan.
She had a sinking feeling that this was the sort of nightmare that Angel and his people would know about. She’d drop by tomorrow afternoon, while it was still daylight out. The sunshine would make her feel a little better.
The door to Lindsey MacDonald’s office opened, permitting an androgynous figure with short dark hair to slip into his office, a stack of manila folders clutched to its chest. Even the voice couldn’t be used to conclusively state that the person was male or female. “I have the records that you asked for, sir. We also managed to find a few things about Colin Finnegan, the lawyer who served as Defense for Scooter Dee.”
“Thank you, Terry. What did you learn about Finnegan?” Lindsey gave one of his charming and friendly smiles, knowing the value of having assistants who wanted to help you accomplish your goals.
“Finnegan, Colin – a second generation Irish American, graduated with a law degree from California State. He passed the bar exam a few months ago. Scattered dating history, mostly pursuing giggly blonds, but apparently heterosexual. No steady girlfriend, no vengeful exes. He had a strong enough college career and bar exam that he was being considered for recruitment here,” Terry paused, shaking its head a moment. “That has since been derailed by the fact that he’s now very dead before we could get him under contract. His body is still being held by the police coroner’s office. We managed to get a copy of the coroner’s report, and it’s for the best if you don’t ask how.”
Lindsey nodded once, and then tilted his head. “Could this have been the work of family enemies, or was it…”
“His sister, Grania, works as a part time waitress at a sea food place near the airport and is also attending UCLA to pursue a degree in journalism. She doesn’t have any particular enemies either. While his cases have been well argued, our analysis suggests that this is the direct result of his attempted defense of Mr. Dee. There was apparently a note and numbers left in Finnegan’s apartment.”
“What happens to the properties and holdings of Scooter Dee now that he’s going to be in some form of imprisonment for the rest of his life?” Lindsey asked, wondering if this would be something to follow up more or something to back away from slowly and quietly.
“Since Mr. Dee was declared insane, his holdings have been given into the keeping of his sister, one Miss Skeeter Dee. Her contact information is in the file,” Terry added.
“Any recent strange activity with Miss Dee? Is she connected to any of his previous dealings?” Lindsey held out one hand, flicking his fingers towards him in a gesture that requested the files right now.
“As far as our people could determine, Skeeter Dee had no involvement with the assorted schemes of Scooter Dee. However, she was recently observed to be talking with a large green frog that our people have since identified as Kermit Frogg, of the former Muppet Theater. The frog that was Scooter Dee’s former employer. They weren’t able to record the conversation, but they did confirm the presence of what appeared to be legal documents.”
“Do we know if Scooter Dee might have had any impending terminal health conditions, or if he may have gambled poorly and been left with ugly debts? Or if he was undergoing any sort of psychiatric treatment?”
“Unknown about the health issues, but we know Scooter Dee wasn’t in the habit of making cash wagers. He does seem to have made a rather large gamble that the Count would be blamed for Lanomer, but that isn’t the same thing at all,” Terry shook its head, and gave a small snicker, “It was certainly something that took courage. Or maybe stupidity.”
Lindsey nodded, and then flipped open the top file, freezing at the color pictures that had been included. Pictures of pale walls splattered with russet, and dark red carpet scattered over with diamonds… No. Pictures of a room where the walls were sprayed with bloods that had soaked into a carpet, a carpet that held a scattering of broken glass. After a very long quiet moment, he looked at Terry, “I suggest that our investigating people use extreme caution. Especially if they see a short purple fellow in formal wear.”
“Count vonCount. Is he involved with the Dee family beyond the obvious?” Terry’s shiver was obvious.
“Among many other things, Count vonCount was the bookkeeper for the original Muppet Theater, run by Kermit Frogg with the assistance of Scooter Dee. I don’t know of any connection to Ms. Dee, but that’s no reason not to be careful, is it?” He tried to keep his words calm. “There’s also anecdotal evidence from several demon clans connected to Sunnydale that the Count has a possessive streak regarding Kermit. You do not want him to think you are threatening his frog.”
“Sir? You have a meeting scheduled with Kermit Frogg and associates tomorrow at three. Tasha from the front desk penciled it in, and I don’t have any other details.”
Lindsey wanted to beat his head against the desk, or perhaps curl into the corner and hide. He did neither. He didn’t howl that he wanted the whole crazed batch of former Muppet Theater associates to stay far, far away. “Make sure that I have a mild sedative available after that meeting, there is a strong chance that I might need it.”
“Of course, sir.”
End Muppet Contracts 16: Gathering the Facts