Monday, February 15, 2010

Into The Woods


Title: Into The Woods
Author: Ranger


The house looked as though it had been the result of some messy stone masonry accident at some low point in the Tudor age.
The gateway alone was disintegrating underneath an overenthusiastic Russian vine and two skewed black iron gates pinned open with bricks, leading down a long, winding and overgrown driveway. The windows running the length of the big, wisteria covered house were dark and clearly dusty.
Meldreth House.
The Inspector had said it would be hard to find. Tony Dunn turned the engine off and got out of the car, tugging his tie straight and wishing he was in uniform. It was always easier dealing with bizarre members of the general public when you were in uniform, it was a shield against their stranger habits. Something people had respect for.
"Don't be fooled." The inspector had warned him when he handed over the slim file. "The man isn't nearly as strange as he sounds, and the work he does has helped us several times. He's extremely professional too, however odd it may look to you- give the man space, try to go along with what he asks and keep the other officers off his back."
And that was the reward for blowing a major CID promotion- to be made the liason officer for some total crank.
"Besides." The inspector had added. "How often do you get the chance to swing in high society, eh Dunn?"
Dunn had looked at him blankly. The Inspector shook his head. "The Kent-Hattons? Don't you ever read the papers?"
Apparently not the ones the Inspector read. Dunn leaned on the front doorbell, releasing some of his exasperation in the loud, dischordant clang that resulted.
The door was opened by a young man who made his jaw drop.
Slim, tanned, somewhere in his mid twenties, and dressed only in the briefest pair of shorts that could be called decent, he was quite probably the most beautiful boy Dunn had ever seen. Melting brown eyes under dark, immaculately cut hair surveyed him for a moment, then the boy said acidly,
"I do actually have normal hearing. One single ring is quite adequate."
Dunn found his voice with an effort. "I'm —"
"With the police. That much is perfectly obvious. Come in. WIPE your feet." He added sharply, pointing at the doormat. "And walk this way."
Bare feet and long, slender legs made their way ahead of Dunn's fascinated eyes, up a short flight of stairs to a marble entrance hall, which, despite the decreptitude of the outer building was gleaming and immaculate.
"HE's in the —"
"Actually I was looking for Mr Kent-Hatton?" Dunn said quickly. "I was sent by CID —"
"AS I was saying," the boy said severely, glaring at him, "Second door to the left, I'll get you some tea. Do you smoke?"
"No, I —"
"Good, don't."
The boy strode towards a door at the back of the house
Left alone, Dunn stood in the hallway with his mouth open. Then shut it and surveyed the range of doorways. Several large portraits of disapproving people in various periodic costume glared down at him.
"May I help you?" a soft, cultured voice inquired from behind him.
Dunn glanced around, thoroughly confused.
This young man was standing at the foot of the stairs, immaculately dressed in white flannels and a shirt and jacket that made him look fully ready for any emergency cricket innings that might arise. And like the other boy- he was stunning. Dunn blinked at him, increasingly confused. Dark, wavy hair was shaken back from equally dark green eyes, which smiled quietly and engagingly.
"That was our housekeeper, Alex. He doesn't believe in formal introductions."
"He doesn't seem to believe in clothes, either." Dunn said acidly. "I'm from the Stepford Met, Detective Sergeant Dunn- Inspector Langtree sent me to speak to a Mr Simon Kent-Hatton."
"I'm Simon Kent-Hatton, Detective Sergeant." The boy shook his blazer cuffs straight and walked across to shake hands, his carriage as graceful as his voice and his manners.
He looked startlingly-
— normal.
"It's a pleasure to meet you. Although I wasn't aware Inspector Langtree was sending you today."
"I've been appointed your liason officer." Dunn said abruptly, overcoming his distraction. "I'll be your main point of contact from the station and I'll support you in —" the hesitation was slight, but there. "Any way I can."
It sounds like you have a few reservations." Kent-Hatton said courteously. "Why don't you come into the study and have a drink, Mr Dunn, this is much easier to explain with the aid of alcohol."
Dunn trailed him across the hall and into a large, red carpeted book room, filled with ancient furniture and a fireplace that looked capable of handling a roasting boar without too much difficulty. Simon went across to a polished, oak drinks cabinet and looked back inquiringly.
"What can I get for you Mr Dunn? Sherry? Coffee? Is the 'not drinking on duty' phrase fact or fiction? Do sit down."
"Fact unfortunately." Dunn peeled off his coat and perched on the edge of the indicated seat.
"Coffee it is then." Simon leaned over and pressed the electric bell beside the fireplace.
"Will you excuse me if I have a sherry? There's nothing quite like it in really cold weather."
The door opened abruptly and Alex, still in shorts and nothing else, emerged with a tray of tea
"What? I've got bread in the oven."
"I was ringing to ask you for coffee." Simon requested. "Just for Mr Dunn, not for me. And the fire lit if you wouldn't mind."
"I made tea thankyou, I'm way ahead of you." Alex retorted, putting the tray down beside Dunn and going to the fireplace. "And you don't need sherry at this hour in the morning, you weren't dragged up to drink before lunchtime."
Kent-Hatton took absolutely no notice, pouring himself a sherry and taking a seat on the small couch opposite Dunn.
"Do you understand what I do, Mr Dunn?"
"Darling, who does?" Alex commented, poking firelighters under the logs in the hearth.
Dunn cleared his throat. "Detective Sergeant, please. Yes, I've read some – articles- on the use of um…. Alternative methods in policing."
"I'm a registered criminal pyschologist." Kent-Hatton said pleasantly. "May I pour for you Mr Dunn? Not attached to any particular organisation at present, Inspector Langtree asked for my advice in the last case and suggested I might be useful at intervals to specific investigations. Have you worked with a forensic or criminal psychologist before in this role?"
"Read OF cases." Dunn said shortly, accepting a bone china cup and saucer. "How do you work?"
"I'm amazed with that amount of sugar YOU manage to work at all." Alex said caustically, brushing off his hands. "If the fire goes out you'll have to see to it, the bread's nearly done."
"Thanks." Kent-Hatton said apparently unphased. "He's an old family retainer." He added to Dunn as the door closed. "That's the only reason we put up with him."
Since the man looked no more than twenty five at the most, Dunn found that very hard to believe. Kent-Hatton smiled.
"I'm sorry. I work usually by discussion with the police involved. Often visiting crime scenes. Utilising police evidence to construct a profile if that would be helpful. Advising on questioning of specific subjects if it's helpful. Essentially to give psychological indicators and assessments as possible to support and give insights to an investigation."
"How do you verify your evidence?" Dunn said shortly. Kent-Hatton raised an eyebrow at him with apparent amusement.
"I don't, Sergeant. That's your job. If you have understanding of criminal psychology, you will understand that it's a scientifically based mode of exploration but only one part of a police investigation."
"And what are your scientific qualifications?" Dunn said dryly. Kent-Hatton sat back, cradling his sherry between long fingers.
"I have two Masters degrees: one in anthropology and the other in less specific realms of pyschology, but my Doctorate is in criminal psychology itself. I have worked as a practising psychologist in several settings, including a prison, so if you're wondering whether I have any practical and applied experience in this area, you can be sure that I have been spat on, sworn at and threatened in a range of criminal settings. I found my research into the psychopathology of violent crime a most fascinating line of work. You might find either of my books interesting reading if the subject attracts you at all."
Dunn put his cup down, trying to keep his voice polite.
"Thank you. I'm sure I would."
"Not given to psychobabble Mr Dunn?" Kent-Hatton said gently. Dunn gave him a strait look.
"Just experienced in the hard evidencial side of police work. I'm sure your techniques have their uses, but I've always found it best to put my faith in hard facts. Evidence and careful investigation produces conviction, end of story. Not supposition, nor tenuous links, nor someone's intuition based on a general public obsessed with Cracker on tv. Play it that way and things tend to get messy in court, I've seen it happen plenty of times."
"Indeed." Kent-Hatton sipped more sherry. "And of course no offence taken in case you were wondering. Why don't you tell me about this case of yours?"
"Inspector Langtree requested your opinion sir. I'd prefer just to take you to visit the location of the supposed crime scene."
"In fact you would like to avoid giving me any clues if you can help it." Kent-Hatton said pleasantly. "Of course, Sergeant Dunn, let's go. I've had about a third of a small sherry, will you permit me to drive?"
Dunn got up, resisting the urge to mutter.
They met Alex in the hall, who looked askance as Kent-Hatton took down what was definitely a designer jacket and a set of car keys.
"Off out are you?"
"Just for a quick look around Alex, I won't be long."
"You'll get yourself shot, you will." Alex prophesied darkly. "Lunch is at one, be there or go hungry, I don't mind which. Will you be staying for lunch Detective Sergeant?"
"I- no, no thank you." Dunn zipped his coat up, passing the man in the doorway with an effort to keep his eyes down. Alex stretched as he passed, linking his arms behind his head in a way that flashed his abs at anyone who happened to be looking. And from the glint he gave Dunn, Dunn was very sure he'd been caught looking.
"Nice to meet you Sergeant."

***************************************

Kent-Hatton drove an ancient, wine red Bentley S1 that from it's gleaming, his fiendish housekeeper spent a good deal of time polishing. Dunn doubted Kent-Hatton broke his immaculate fingernails keeping it clean. And it might be ancient, but the thing moved with a silent speed that hinted it was capable of doing a lot more than the sedate thirty mph into the town. Clearly the household was not short of money. Between the house, the car and the peculiarity of the residents, Dunn was beginning to wonder if he'd located a branch of the Addams family.
"What do you usually do?" Dunn asked stiffly as Kent-Hatton got out, in the park car park, locking the door. "The Inspector only asked me to bring you to the scene and ask your opinion. If you need help you'll have to tell me."
Kent-Hatton dug his hands into the pockets of his jacket and crossed the carpark to him, stepping neatly over the puddles in the uneven ground.
"With a crime scene, walk around the site, see what there is that I can pick up. I will need some information from you before we begin."
"I'd prefer not to direct your attention too much." Dunn said shortly.
"Afraid of giving me clues, Sergeant?" Kent-Hatton gave him a sideways glance. "We can certainly play it that way if you prefer, but without being actively included in all information ascertained so far, my information can only be very limited. I do need at least somewhere to start if I'm to be of any help. Why don't you try some of your preferred hard facts?"
"It's this way." Dunn nodded at the path ahead of them and strode down it, pushing his way through the bracken. "Rape case. The woman was abducted in King's street in the town, made to drive here, taken up to the clearing ahead and assaulted. Knife point job. They were disturbed- man walking his dog, the rapist made a run for it and got away, but the description matches two other assaults in the area- one failed abduction with threats, another partial assault. No suspects, the description we were given was unhelpful. The scene's been left undisturbed, I've got witness accounts if you need them."
"And the force is having trouble knowing where to look for suspects?" Kent-Hatton said serenely. "Lead on McDunn."
Dunn didn't answer, moving round the corner to where the path opened into a grassed clearing, still marked off with police tape.
"Here."
Kent-Hatton moved past him under the tape and began to walk the perimetre of the clearing, slowly, hands still dug in his pockets. Resisting the urge to follow, Dunn crouched on the grass, watching with interest if still with scepticism.
"This is a hot spot for young courting couples." He said mildly after a moment. Dunn raised his eyebrows. Kent-Hatton shrugged.
"The alcopop bottles. Peculiar flavoured condoms on the ground under that hedge, and this is a well screened area with a good view down the hill. The rape took place against that hedge there?"
Dunn nodded. Kent-Hatton paused, looking carefully at the ground.
"So he didn't just bring her here, he placed her when he got here. He went to the trouble of manoevering her across the clearing to where they can't be seen from the path, where they're sheltered from rain, wind and anything else. So he wasn't in a hurry. Chose his spot. Knew where he was going, this was a planned attack. He was in control of it, which implies he chose the time as well- knew when it would be safe to bring her here without too much risk of disturbance. Especially if this is a busy spot with teenagers. That's interesting in itself."
"Why?"
"Because it's a high risk spot, and yet he still uses it. Chose his timing wrongly on this occasion obviously." Kent-Hatton added dryly. "If it's this carefully planned, there's also a good chance he identifies his victims first. Possibly on the day, possibly in advance, in which case he might watch from some public place to identify appropriate women with consistent routines. I'm guessing from three assaults you've identified his victim type already. All this implies confidence too. Which suggests he's good with the weapons he uses, knows how to handle them, not worried by a risk of the woman struggling or escaping. Not a random sociopath. This is someone working systematically. Methodically."
Dunn sniffed. "In your opinion."
"In my opinion." Kent-Hatton repeated quietly. "Yes. This man needs to be caught, Mr Dunn."
"We'd realised that. Three attacks in two months doesn't look good on the station records." Dunn said sourly. "Serial rapists raise a lot of media attention."
"I didn't mean that." Kent-Hatton said shortly. "I mean he's potentially a very dangerous man."
"Think he's got the potential to develop into a kill following the rape?" Dunn demanded.
"He has killed." Kent-Hatton said absorbedly, looking back into the woodland. "At least once. And I'd expect you would find the body in the woods near this spot."
Dunn's eyebrows rose expressively. Kent-Hatton turned to face him.
"This site has some kind of special significance for him. There will be a reason why he brings his victims here, and why he wants the bodies nearby. That is an immediate line for investigation. This isn't trophyism, this is some specific reason he has that they should be near here when he brings new victims. He may even have said something regarding that to his victims during or before the assault. I'd strongly recommend checking."
Dunn pulled out a notebook and ostentatiously made a note.
"I'd also," Kent-Hatton said gently, looking down at the woods again, "Strongly advise you to have the woods searched, thoroughly. Somewhere in there, I'm certain, you'll find a body."
"And the basis for this?" Dunn inquired, writing. Kent-Hatton smiled.
"Supposition Mr Dunn. Based upon previous knowledge and experience. That's as much as I can tell you from here, I would need to see the full forensics report and analysis from all three assaults before I could even give you a written version of my inferences. I can't verify anything without forensic cross referencing."
"You can't infer his social class?" Dunn said unpleasantly. "His background? Colour of his car?"
Kent-Hatton's eyes rested on him, green, dark and not in the least discomforted. More than anything they looked amused. "I'm not that clever Mr Dunn, not without talking to your victims, and I'd imagine that CID have already drawn those conclusions. His accent, his grammar, his deodorant, his toothpaste, his use of language, whether sexual or violent or profane, they're the clues there. I can tell you that he is however a local man, or has lived locally, probably for a significant part of his life. And he probably knew this area as a child. What's been recorded so far about his MO and signature?"
"I believe CID has that aspect well in hand." Dunn said unencouragingly. "I'll pass your suppositions on to Inspector Langtree, thankyou for your time."
Kent-Hatton gave him a slight and ironic bow, just about controlling the smile.
"Then do keep me posted Mr Dunn, if I can help any further you know where to find me."

***********************************************

"Did you solve the crime, in the approved Hardy Boys manner?" Alex inquired, opening the door before Kent-Hatton got his key out. "They were all rampantly queer you know. Including Nancy Drew. If she wasn't a dyke she was at least a cross dresser —"
"You have absolutely no proof of that." Kent-Hatton hung up his jacket and followed Alex into the kitchen, where despite his earlier threats, and it being nearly half past one, the housekeeper began to serve up lunch from the range of immaculate and shining pots on the blue aga stove.
"I've read half of one of the books. HE called."
According to the portents in his tone, Kent-Hatton should have trembled where he stood. Instead he looked up, eyes lightening.
"Did he? Where is he?"
"Norwhich. He landed this morning and headed straight to this conference of his."
"And I suppose you told him I was out consorting with policemen?" Kent-Hatton said cheerfully. Alex snorted.
"What do you take me for? He didn't have time to ask anyway, he had two minutes before his meeting started. He'll be home tomorrow evening. He loves you, oddly enough. And still felt it necessary to ask that I remind you."
Kent-Hatton smiled, and being a good head taller than the housekeeper, folded both arms around his neck from behind to kiss his cheek.
"Thank you."
"And you'll be telling him about the policeman thing yourself?" Alex asked, unimpressed.
"Alex, he was the one who wanted me to do it in the first place, this was all his idea."
"I think he probably meant for you to explore it gradually, and along with him." Alex said acidly. "What DID you end up doing with that Sergeant Whatever it is he calls himself?"
"Only viewing a crime scene. Interesting. I need to do some reading up about it this afternoon."
"Yes, and you watch what HE'll make of that too. Don't look at me like that, I won't need to tell tales. Your desk looks like the British Library."
"I'll eat in here." Kent-Hatton said peaceably, settling at the table. Alex picked up the tray.
"No you won't, you'll eat in the dining room like you're civilised. And you're riding this afternoon at three, remember? James left a message to say he'd wait for you at the stables."
"Thanks."
Resignedly, Kent-Hatton got up and followed the housekeeper up the short flight of stairs and into the main hallway that led to the diningroom. Alex set the tray for him, turned the lights on and glared at what could be seen of the damp garden beyond.
"Vile day. At least riding, you might stay warm. Shout if you want coffee."
"Thanks Alex."
Kent-Hatton sat at the table, hands steepled, listening until he heard the kitchen door shut and very faintly in the distance, Maria Carey start to sing as Alex began the washing up. Then he got up, picked up his tray and took it with him into the study, picking up the phone as he shut the door.
"Hello- James? It's Simon. I'm afraid I need to cancel my ride this afternoon, and probably tomorrow too. Yes. Thanks, I'd appreciate that. I'll ring again at the weekend."
Settling at his desk with a plate of casserole in his lap and a fork in hand, eating in a casual way that Alex would have been scandalised to see, he sorted through the heavy stack of books on his desk, flipped open one and began to scan through it.

**************************************

Kent-Hatton: Simon James Deluth. b. 1971, youngest son of the Earl of Eastwood, Lord James Geoffrey George Kent-Hatton (1934) and Lady Catherine Mary Grey (1943 see GREY ). Educated Eton , St John's College , Cambridge , B.A hons, M.A hons M.Sc hons. Ph.D. Published: 1998, "The Murderous Mind", 2000, "Enigmas and Variations: a study of Multiple Personalities and Moral Constructions". Siblings: Lady Caroline Louise, b. 1969, the hon. Geoffrey Scott St. John, b.1966.
That was all that Debrett had to say on the subject. What the son of the Earl of Eastwood was doing in that decrepit house far from the ancestral mansion was anyone's guess. Particularly with a semi naked and bitchy housekeeper.
Dunn spent his evening re reading Langtree's notes with a growing sense of cynicism. Whatever effect this Kent-Hatton had had on Langtree's case, it didn't seem at all realistic or likely to Dunn that he had skills that the force could utilise on any kind of regular basis. It was approaching ten pm when Langtree himself called him at home, sounding very far from amused.
"What's this sheet about Kent-Hatton? I thought I asked you to get the man's assessment of the case?"
"That was his summary of suggestions following a visit to the crime scene sir." Dunn flipped his own notes open, finding the copy of the report he'd left on Langtree's desk.
"Proposed that the rapist was a local man, possibly knew the area as a child since Mr Kent-Hatton feels the site is significant and deliberately chosen. I found no evidence of that myself, since only one attack took place there. Kent-Hatton also feels this implies that the attacks, if serial, could become progressively violent, since they appear to be well planned, well organised- perpetrator may select victims or trail them before abducting. May have committed previous crimes."
"WHAT previous crimes?" Langtree demanded. Dunn shut the notebook.
"Kent-Hatton made a comment regarding the possibility of a murder. Of course there's no previous disappearance or even related activity in this area to suggest that."
"Murder where?"
"Since there was nothing to back it up I didn't pursue the matter sir." Dunn said calmly. Langtree's grunt explained what he thought of that.
"What exactly did Kent-Hatton say?"
"He thought it a possibility that the man had committed a murder and that there may be a body in the vicinity."
"Possibility?"
"He felt it was a strong one." Dunn admitted. "He suggested searching the vicinity for any such evidence —"
"And why didn't that appear in my report?"
"Because I felt it was extremely unlikely to be true or helpful sir."
"And what if it is?" Langtree said sharply. "We got Kent-Hatton involved in the first place because we had so few leads, and this is a high profile case. Was there anything else he mentioned that you just omitted?"
"Sir, he's doing nothing more than conjecture clever guesses! A child could stand and make links like this!"
"Links made by an experienced psychologist." Langtree snapped back. "Read the man's work for pete's sake. From what I saw of him in the Greenoaks case in September he has an incredible insight, and he's well worth listening to. What else did he say?"
"He asked about MO and signature sir. I said I felt that was CID 's business."
"Then go over first thing in the morning and give him all the information he asks for. And ask him if he'd submit his report in writing to me directly as soon as possible Dunn. I'll expect to hear from you tomorrow. You're not required to approve or even act on the information he gives you, that is not your decision. Your responsibility is to pass on the data to the investigating team and allow them to use or discard as THEY see fit. Is that understood?"
Dunn bit back the reflexive answer and instead forced out a quiet, "Yes sir." And put the phone down. And for good measure, kicked it across the floor to the full extent of it's cable.
David wasn't home. And the way it was looking, he didn't intend on coming home tonight. It was getting to be more and more of a habit. Dunn got up, stalked past the piles of washing up standing in increasingly rancid water, and pulled the last clean mug out of the cupboard, making himself a mug of tea. When it was made, he opened the fridge, sniffed the milk suspiciously- then put it back. Black tea just about matched his mood. He pulled the curtain back and looked out of the window, down the seven floors to the roads below, leading back into the city. He found it highly unlikely to imagine Kent-Hatton in that huge and creaking house was drinking foul tea in a foul flat with a short tempered boss with new age ideas breathing down his neck. Somewhere in career decisions, Dunn was starting to feel as though he'd made a major mistake.

************************************* 

"Tea." Alex said, plonking it down on a pile of papers. He did however slip a castor underneath first. Kent-Hatton glanced up, giving him a grateful smile.
"Thanks."
"What time did you get up? I didn't hear you come down." Alex yanked the curtains back and drew the study curtains, then came to perch on the arm of the sofa, peering at the laptop open on the desk. "What's that?"
"Profiling." Kent-Hatton sat back in his chair, stretched until his shoulders cracked, then got up, picking up his tea. "How are you this morning?"
"Going shopping. I thought I'd do a serious dinner if Himself is due home this evening."
"Lamb." Kent-Hatton said absently. "Oh and those Italian things he likes?"
"Armoretti." Alex gave him a sharp look. "What are you profiling? This case that CID sergeant asked you about yesterday?"
"A rapist. Potentially a serial rapist according to the police." Kent-Hatton sipped tea and looked out at the garden, wet and misty beyond the window. "He's a killer, at least one victim so far. They're going to have to investigate it as such too."
"And the psyche profile supports that?" Alex said warily. Kent-Hatton sighed.
"That's what I'm working on. He wasn't about to let me see the forensics report, I'm having to make some very tenuous justifications here. I hope it will do when I'm finished."
"Have you tried ringing Ewan?"
The tone lacked Alex's usual acidity and Kent-Hatton glanced back at his housekeeper, giving him a faint smile of appreciation.
"It was going to be a long meeting and it was an eight hour flight. He'll be asleep and I'll see him later."
"And you're sure about this guy? Definitely a death?" Alex said discreetly. Kent-Hatton nodded, losing the smile.
"Oh I'm sure. I didn't get much sleep."
"I'll bring you some breakfast." Alex, who's roots were primarily in practicality and a belief in the healing powers of food, got up and took Kent-Hatton's empty cup. "And some more tea. It's your time you know, go and play for a while, distract yourself."
"I need to work."
"You can take a ten minute break. Go on, I like to listen when I'm cooking. And you know what you were told."
Kent-Hatton pulled a mild face at him and didn't answer, but as Alex reached the kitchen, the grand piano in the drawing room came to life. Mozart. Light, fresh, morninglike. Cheered, Alex began to scramble eggs in the kitchen. In this house, the piano was one of the main sounds of normality.

************************************

"Mr Kent-Hatton?"
Dunn tapped at the study door. Kent-Hatton glanced around. The desk was piled high with paper and books, surrounding an open laptop and an angle poised lamp. Kent-Hatton himself glanced up, slightly disoriented for a moment, then blinked and smiled.
"Sergeant. I didn't hear the front door, I'm sorry. What can I do for you?"
Dunn dug his hands into the pockets of his greatcoat, nodding at the papers.
"Another book brewing?"
Kent-Hatton gave his piles of paper and yellow post-it notes a rather rueful look. "Actually I was referencing some previous cases similar to yours from what little I could see of it yesterday. I was hoping it might be helpful."
"Inspector Langtree sent me." Dunn said shortly. "Can you come into the station and review whatever paperwork you'd like? The Inspector would like you to submit a full report on the case as soon as possible. You'd be paid as a freelance, and he'd appreciate it if you could come now."
"I see." Kent-Hatton said wryly. "Thank you for the message, Mr Dunn."
"Inspector Langtree sent me to assist you in any way possible." Dunn went on tonelessly. Kent-Hatton, surveying his face, found himself uncertain whether he was more sympathetic or ready to laugh.
"I'm so sorry."
"I'll drive you to the station and get you any paperwork you'd like to see. If you're ready to leave now."
The poor man. Kent-Hatton pushed the bell and got up, shutting down his laptop.
"Of course. One moment Sergeant, I'll get some of my notes together."
"What?" Alex inquired, appearing in the doorway. He was wearing a large white shirt with the sleeves rolled up today, draped over skin tight black cycling shorts and trainers on bare feet. Kent-Hatton didn't give him a second glance.
"I'm going into the station to look at the forensic report, I won't be long."
"You've got about four hours before Himself turns up." Alex said dryly. "And that desk'll need to be cleared before then."
"You could be a sweetheart and do it for me?" Kent-Hatton suggested, picking the laptop up and giving him a sweet smile. Alex grunted.
"Do I LOOK like a sweetheart?"
"Yes." Kent-Hatton said diplomatically. "I don't think I'll be much later than five pm ."
"You'd better not be." Alex said, unimpressed. He tolerated Kent-Hatton's kiss on his cheek as he passed. "Take a jacket, it's supposed to snow this evening."
"Who's Himself?" Dunn asked as they headed down the front steps. Kent-Hatton shut the door behind them and followed Dunn down to the squad car waiting on the drive.
"My partner. His work takes him abroad every couple of months; he's due home tonight."
"What does he do?" Dunn shoved the keys into the ignition and pulled out of the gates, spraying gravel as he turned. Kent-Hatton clicked his seat belt into place, sat back and took a firm grip on the dashboard.
"He's a crime writer. His publisher launched him and several other well known authors in their stable in the US last year and he has to do occasional business and publicity meetings over there."
"He must find your work interesting then."
"It was how we met actually. He work shadowed me for a couple of months researching one of his early books. He does object to me pulling holes in his plotlines, but otherwise it works fairly well. Are you married, Sergeant?"
"No." Dunn said briefly. "Doesn't really blend with the job."
"I can imagine." Kent-Hatton shut his eyes, hanging on as Dunn swept into the gates of the police station. "I can see the driving might also be an issue."
"Excuse me?"
"Where do we go to work, Mr Dunn?"

******************************

"Is there anything else you need to see?" Dunn took the seat on the other side of the desk and watched Kent-Hatton scribble another note. Then fold the last file and drop it on to the top of the heap.
"Not unless you've got any further witness statements."
"That's all we have. I'm sure Langtree would call them back in for you to speak to if you wanted."
Kent-Hatton stretched, arching both arms above his head until his shoulders cracked. Then sat back and picked up his notes.
"I'll turn this into a formal report when I've had time to work on it, but there are a few things I can see immediately that might be useful."
Dunn pulled a notebook towards him, waiting. Kent-Hatton ran a pencil down the border of his notes. He'd been working in silence for nearly two hours, covering sheet after sheet of paper in fine, looped handwriting as he read through the files.
"There are five types of rapist, and rapists can evolve from one type to another, the definitions aren't exact- I'd say without doubt though that the man you're looking for is essentially of the Anger-Excitation type. His interest is in eliciting as much fear and active submission in his victims as he can. Physical aggression is the element he finds erotic, and it's the whole centre of the rape, that's what he needs to be satisfied, and that theme will develop from attack to attack. From what your most recent victim told you, he has a rape kit- something he will take with him to an attack, and we know it contains wire, and that the bondage aspect to him is important. This guy is a real sadist."
In spite of himself, Dunn got up, taking the notebook with him.
"Wait a moment."
Kent-Hatton waited, watching Dunn disappear into the corridor, then glanced at his watch. Four thirty . A minute later, Dunn reappeared in the doorway, holding it open.
"There's a group assembling in the incident room downstairs, Inspector Langtree would appreciate you speaking directly to them."

"I can talk to you about what is known of types in general and I can also talk to you about your man in particular." Kent-Hatton said, perching on the desk at the front of the incident room. The seven or eight officers around him listened in silence. Dunn, at the back, had his head bent over what looked like his notebook, then he straightened and drew hard on the cigarette he'd just lit.
"The typical profile of this type of rapist is of a sexual sadist. The trademarks are anal rape where possible, objects and equipment a part of the rape with an emphasis often on specific body parts, planned and prepared assaults, and careful selection of victims. The focus is domination and aggression, and he will choose victims who will fall easily into a subservient role. Women with low self esteem, easily intimidated. Often this type of rapist will have a job that enables him to take an authority role in society. We know too that if this man holds that role in his every day life, he does not exploit it to approach his victims. He goes to them in plain clothes, in a civilian role, and relies on force of personality to persuade them to where he wants them to carry out the abduction. That implies confidence. We know from the victims, on first meeting, he appears polite, charming, confidence inspiring." Kent-Hatton looked around the room, clearing his throat. "This type of rapist is in almost 50% of cases married and well known to his friends as a pleasant and normal man. He is however likely somewhere to own a large store of pornography. This type also believes strongly in their own cleverness and they like to test out their superiority. They may even make contact with the police and offer help for the satisfaction of knowing they're above suspicion. It can be helpful to check on principle anyone who has had contact with any officer involved in the investigation. This type is also by far the most dangerous. He will have no compunction about killing if it is a safer way to end the rape, or in order to achieve the gratification he wants from the rape. The rapes will also tend to escalate as his fantasy develops and consolidates. The fantasy IS what fuels the rape."
Dunn stubbed out his cigarette at the back. Inspector Langtree eased himself in through the door and closed it softly behind him. Kent-Hatton turned the page of his notebook.
"Cross-referencing crime scene details with forensic reports, and the witness details from two missed assaults and the interrupted rape itself, there's some specific information relevant to this particular man. First is the site. That is the biggest clue and the biggest giveaway. He has chosen this site for a reason. Once he succeeded in bringing a victim to it, and on the previous occasion he was approaching it when the victim escaped. This type of rape typically lasts a long time- some up to and over 24 hours. This guy has chosen a specific site that does not fit his type. It's not a site he has exclusive control over, it's not private, it's not concealed, it severely limits the time he has available to carry out the attack. Therefore this site is a vital part of his fantasy, there will be a strong reason why the attacks must happen there. I would guess too that he will have trophies in or near the site, or will place them there should the rapes continue. I would still guess, from the way he carried out the rape," Kent-Hatton's voice faltered for a second, then strengthened, "He may already have committed a murder at that site and the body will be nearby."
A murmur passed amongst several of the officers. Kent-Hatton cleared his throat, flipping heavy, dark hair back out of his eyes.
"To confirm and tie together what is already known from the cross referencing of victim accounts- this man is clean, well spoken, well groomed. He doesn't use profanity when speaking to his victims, nor does he use sexual swearing by speech habit. That implies a certain social status and culture. His language however can be extremely threatening during the rape. He is not troubled by his victims seeing his face. That suggests that he wouldn't expect to be recognised or associated with them, his work and daily routine would not bring him into the areas where he selects and makes the pick up. It may also suggest that he simply intends a kill from the outset."
"You're very certain about the rape ending in murder." Inspector Langtree commented from the back. Kent-Hatton glanced up and gave him a faint nod of recognition.
"Yes sir. I'm basing that on the violence of the rape itself, the materials with which he works to commit the rape and the language associated with the rape process. And his attachment to that site. With the time limit he's imposed on himself, I would think it likely that a kill is the only way of achieving the peak of gratification he is seeking in the time he has."
Langtree nodded. Kent-Hatton glanced once more through his notes.
"One more thing- I would judge from the slow pace and methodical nature of the rape- and the complexity of the procedure he uses- that he is over thirty years of age. I know considerable work has already been done, regarding his signature as opposed to his MO- I would repeat, the importance of signature is what he does over and above the rape itself that is unnecessary to the process. And the main signature is that site."
Langtree caught the eye of one of the officers, indicating something, then moved down the room.
"Thank you Simon. If we can have the write up of your conclusions as soon as possible I think it gives us a rather more proactive approach to this case."
"Pleasure sir, I'll have it for you tomorrow." Kent-Hatton gripped the hand Langtree held out. "I told you how interested I was in supporting this kind of investigation."
"What I would appreciate," Langtree said quietly, "As an immediate lead, is to go up now with a couple of my officers and look over the site again. You seem very sure there could be a body up there."
Dunn, approaching the group, saw Kent-Hatton's face change. But he nodded with grim certainty.
"I'm sure of it sir, it fits the profile of the most recent attack too well."
"Then I'll need to you to clue us in as to where." Langtree saw his hesitation and put a hand on his arm. "I'm very ready to believe you Simon, but you'll understand I can't put enough officers up there to search properly without attracting a good deal of media attention, it isn't something we can do without evidence to back up your suspicions."
Kent-Hatton glanced at his watch. Dunn folded his arms, standing behind Langtree.
"If this man is really as dangerous as you feel he is, Mr Kent-Hatton, then surely it's urgent that we act immediately? You'll understand our concern about ensuring this man doesn't manage a second assault, especially in the light of your comments this afternoon."
For the first time, he saw a glint of something penetrate Kent-Hatton's usually detatched and easy going manner. Then he nodded shortly to Langtree.
"Very well."

*********************************

"No signal?" Dunn asked, pulling into the park car park. Kent-Hatton shook his head, pocketing the cell phone.
"Not surprising. I don't imagine this should take long anyway, there's only another half-hour of light left."
Another squad car drew up beside them and disgorged two officers in uniform, followed by a squad van containing a man and an alsation dog. Dunn pulled his coat on and watched Kent-Hatton get out, aware he was looking definitely- less collected. As the alsation eagerly led his handler up the path, he fell into step beside him, lowering his voice beyond the earshot of the policemen.
"Is anything wrong sir?"
Kent-Hatton visibly pulled himself together and shook his head. "Just somewhat nervous I suppose."
"Can't be easy proving supposition." Dunn said dryly. Kent-Hatton laughed, not a happy laugh but a laugh none the less.
"No, Mr Dunn. This is where I understand your liking for hard fact. What do you look for on this kind of search? Earth disturbances I suppose."
"Abnormal growth of grass or plants in a specific plot, mounds, evidence of disturbance, yes. I've only ever seen it once. Okay." Dunn halted at the hedge. "This is the site of the rape. Where to now?"
Kent-Hatton moved slowly to stand beside him, looking hard at the ground, then the surrounding area. Then nodded at the woods to the left.
"That way."
"I won't ask why," Dunn commented, following him. "I'm sure there are complicated psychological reasons."
"There are." Kent-Hatton said without looking back. "It's the only route where he wouldn't be in direct view of the road, Sergeant. As I'm sure you noticed."
They walked for the next twenty minutes, the officers fanning out around them and moving slowly over the ground.
"Nothing I can see." The senior of the officers said after a while, pausing at the top of the bank. "Surely this is too far anyway to bring a body considering it would be restricted to on foot?"
Dunn caught his eye and looked past him to Kent-Hatton who was still circling at the foot of the slope some feet away.
"Mr Kent-Hatton?"
"It's —" Kent-Hatton stopped and looked up at them, folding his arms, shoulders hunching. "In some cases perpetrators have covered miles. I seriously think it's worth a much more extensive search."
"Then we need to come back in the morning. The light's nearly gone anyway." The policeman said kindly.
There was a minute's awkward silence, then Kent-Hatton nodded slowly. The two policemen called to their colleague with the dog and Dunn heard one quietly call into the station as they walked back towards the path.
Kent-Hatton didn't move. The light was growing too dim to be able to see his face, but Dunn found himself bringing his own path closer, trying to sound reassuring in a discreet way.
"We've hardly looked properly yet. In better light, with more time —"
"Like you said, there's an issue of urgency here." Kent-Hatton said shortly. Dunn waited, watching the policemen start back towards the car park.
"You've given us a lot of potential leads, this was only an informed guess anyway- with luck there'll be nothing here."
Kent-Hatton stared at the ground for a long moment. Dunn waited, puzzled, then put out a hand to grip his arm.
"Mr Kent-Hatton? Don't worry. We'll try again in the morning, we'll take more time —"
"You don't believe there is anyone here to be found, do you?"
Dunn hesitated, choosing his words carefully. "I believe that you do. And that you have good reason for making that decision, but unless there's hard evidence to follow that intuition —"
"Then believe me that this guy is a killer, and he's going to do this again." Kent-Hatton said very quietly and intently. "And again. And as many times as he can until he's put away."
Amateurs. They got passionate and involved, and then they started to obstruct.
"And he will be. Thankyou for your help, you just have to trust us now to do the job we specialise in —"
"You have absolutely no clue what that poor woman endured." Kent-Hatton said sharply, wrenching his hand off. "SOMEONE has to wait while you do your job Sergeant, and be put through what that man put her through —"
"We have no actual proof whatever that this wasn't a one time, one off, non fatal attack." Dunn said firmly, choking off the rant before it really got on his nerves. "None whatever. What do you want to do, Mr Kent-Hatton? Call out the entire force and dig the woods up just in case? It must seem frustrating to someone outside the policeforce, but you have no concept of the expense or the manpower or the media pressure involved —"
Kent-Hatton turned on his heel.
"This way."
Dunn glanced helplessly back at the clearing where the three police officers were heading towards their cars, then shook his head and followed the dark figure moving deeper into the woods.
"MR Kent-Hatton —"
"She was still alive when they came through here." Kent-Hatton said grimly ahead of him. "He made her walk. That is how he transported her this far."
"What?" Dunn demanded. "You can't POSSIBLY know that."
The bank dipped sharply and he stumbled, grabbing for the bracken to steady himself. Kent-Hatton hesitated at the bottom of the slope, then ran the steep opposite side in two or three powerful strides and looked down.
"There. He took her down to the grass at the bottom of that hill and finished the rape there. When he finished, he didn't bury her. Pushed her underneath the blackberry brambles, as far under as he could. He's been back a number of times since. He stands and gets a buzz just knowing she's here."
Dunn stared for a moment, out of breath and shocked beyond all measure. Then turned on the younger man, voice sharp.
"You have NO way of knowing that, not one supposition you've made would —"
"It's very easily proved Mr Dunn." Kent-Hatton interrupted sharply, "I believe you have a torch?"
Dunn stared at him, beyond exasperated. "Under the blackberry bushes. Why?"
"This is easily proved, try me. If she isn't there then I'll apologise unreservedly and leave you alone as the amateur you think I am." Kent-Hatton flicked his hair out of his eyes and held out a hand. "Will you look or shall I?"

*************************************

In the next half-hour the clearing filled with police, lights, forensicists, police tape and tents. Police began to clip back the heavy brambles. Kent-Hatton moved slowly away from them all, went to the top of the bank and sat down on the damp leaves, wrapping his arms around his knees. Inspector Langtree arrived, spoke briefly to the officer who had taken charge, then climbed the bank and put a hand on Kent-Hatton's shoulder, talking to him quietly before moving down to Dunn.
"Well done, Sergeant. I'd like a word with you in the morning please, first thing."
"I'm assuming Kent-Hatton will be questioned in conjunction with this?" Dunn said stiffly, looking back up the hill to where Kent-Hatton was still sitting, watching the flashlights being set up.
"No, I don't think that will be necessary." Langtree followed his glance with surprising sympathy from what Dunn knew of the Inspector. "I don't think we'll need him any more tonight, but you'll need to speak to him in the morning. We'll need his opinion on the forensic report on this site and the body once forensics have processed it."
"There is no way that he could have known where that body was unless he had previous knowledge of it." Dunn said hotly as Langtree walked away. Langtree paused, turned and gave him a very clear look.
"Mr Kent-Hatton works on an intuitive craft Detective Sergeant. I told you how effective it was."
"Sir, if that's intuition then I've met some of the most intuitive damn people in the county and the court convicted most of them! He KNEW where that body was! He led me straight to it, he even knew how she died!"
"Did you ask him how he drew those conclusions?" Langtree inquired. "No, I thought not. I've worked with Mr Kent-Hatton before, Sergeant, and he's more than justified my trust. See me tomorrow morning please- WHO is that? Is anyone actually protecting this area?" Langtree paused as a well-built man in a dark suit and a heavy jacket walked slowly through the trees beside a policeman and looked around until he found Kent-Hatton. Then climbed the bank to put an arm around Kent-Hatton's shoulders and they kissed, briefly and discreetly, the older man remaining where he was, crouched on the bank beside him.
"I think," Dunn said, beyond being surprised by anything further tonight, "That that is probably Himself."

************************************* 
Kent-Hatton's partner was surprisingly undramatic. In his early forties, his hair turning to the early salt and pepper stages of grey, he was of average height and build, with strong shoulders and hips edging a flat torso underneath the dark jacket. A kind and rather reserved face with watchful green eyes was the only impression Dunn gained, along with a strong handshake and a soft voice, well spoken but with the rougher vowels that gave away his origins as somewhere around London .
"Ewan Granger. Pleased to meet you Sergeant."
"I came to tell you," Dunn said to Kent-Hatton who was still watching the setting up of the retrieval team, "You're free to go, thank you for your help. I'll contact you in the morning and come to take a statement then."
"Thanks."
Kent-Hatton still looked white and he barely nodded in response.
"We'll see you in the morning then," Granger said mildly. "Thank you."
Kent-Hatton moved ahead of him down the bank and Dunn watched them walk together back up the bank, Kent-Hatton putting a hand back to pull up his slightly less agile and slower partner. He didn't miss, having the hungry eyes of the outsider, that they didn't release hands as they continued their walk back towards the carpark.

**********************************

"THERE you are, thank God for that." Alex held the door back, watching Ewan lock the Bentley. Kent-Hatton stood where he was, head down, arms still folded. Ewan came around the car to him and put a hand against his back, steering him gently towards the steps.
"I'm sorry I didn't call, Alex. The signal out there was atrocious."
"Were you STILL at the station?" Alex stood back to let them in, shut and barred the heavy door and took Ewan's coat, watching him peel Kent-Hatton out of his.
"No, they'd insisted Simon helped them identify a possible burial in the woods near the crime scene."
"Oh God," Alex said flatly. Ewan handed Kent-Hatton's coat over and slipped his arm through his partner's.
"Want to bring some tea into the drawing room Alex?"
"Does anyone give a damn about what happens to the dinner I've been keeping on the edge of ruin for an hour and a half?" Alex demanded. "Not that I mind but being TOLD would be nice —"
"I don't think we're going to feel like a heavy meal tonight, just tea please." Ewan steered Kent-Hatton to the farthest of the hall doors. Half way there, Kent-Hatton came to life and reached for the study door, pulling his partner off track.
"No, better in here, I need to show you the papers —"
"I've seen your papers." Ewan kept hold of his arm and guided him into the drawing room, shutting the door behind them. This room was always immaculate, partly due to Alex and partly due to the simplicity of the furnishing. In the heyday of the house, it had been the smoking room and it remained decorated in a subtle but distinctly masculine style, with furniture that stood where it had stood for the last seventy years. The fire crackled in the hearth and the big lamps were lit around the edge of the room, lighting it gently and casting deep shadows around the drawn, floor length curtains. Kent-Hatton subsided onto the sofa, leaned back into the square cushions and shut his eyes. Ewan twitched back his trousers and took a seat beside him.
"You'd better start at the beginning."
Alex appeared a few minutes later with a tray, in time to hear Kent-Hatton's subdued and weary voice from the depth of the sofa cushions.
"……so I pointed out that it was easily verified and all we needed to do was look under the brambles. So we did and there she was. Then Dunn put all the wheels in motion, half of CID turned up and Dunn did everything short of arresting me."
"You can't really blame the poor man, it does look more than slightly suspicious." Alex laid the tray on the table and put two cups within easy reach, taking the third with him to sit cross legged on the floor in front of the fire. "I'm guessing Langtree hasn't explained the full picture to him?"
"We did ask him not to." Ewan pointed out. "This is why it probably wasn't a good idea to take things quite so far on your own. We did talk about doing this gradually."
"I didn't have any choice, it was seriously strong up there." Kent-Hatton accepted the cup Ewan passed him and stared into it, stirring slowly. "I can't mess around with this guy, the chances are high that they'll have to have another rape before they have enough hard evidence to locate him —"
"You had to make a difficult decision and you did what you thought best." Ewan took his spoon away. "It's something we can solve, it's merely come on us a little sooner than expected."
"So Langtree just stopped the arrest?" Alex sipped tea, watching Kent-Hatton with badly concealed anxiety. "Simon? How did Dunn react?"
"He wasn't too impressed with me to begin with."
"Well from what I've seen of him that man has no idea which side his bread is buttered anyway, I wouldn't take that too personally."
"I just wanted some time to get a professional relationship and SOME kind of professional respect before all this started." Kent-Hatton said grimly. Ewan put a hand on his shoulders, rubbing quietly.
"It was always going to inform your work, there's no way around that."
"Honey, you will have NO problem out professionaling Dunn." Alex said dryly. "You ARE a professional, you've got more qualifications that there's room for the certificates, you were using purely those skills until they asked you to go out to the woods with them."
Kent-Hatton cast a faintly wry look at Ewan but didn't comment.
"And you DID want the work." Alex went on without tact or diplomacy. "That was the whole reason you came off the lecturing circuit, you wanted to actually DO something with the —"
"Very true." Ewan interrupted calmly. "We'll see in the morning how Langtree wants to handle this, he may not feel it necessary to explain at all."
"It's not going to finish here, they won't find enough evidence to move nearly fast enough." Kent-Hatton said without looking up. Ewan nodded, unmoved.
"Then we'll work out how we manage things in the morning after we've spoken to Langtree. We can't do anything constructive about then, so there's no point in worrying any more. Alex…..?"
Alex, who was capable of long and complicated moaning when it suited him, also clearly spoke Ewan's language and got up, collecting Ewan's empty cup.
"Yes, I'll ditch dinner. I'm sure it'll freeze well."
"I'm sorry," Kent-Hatton said subduedly. "You must be shattered, you only just walked through the door a few hours ago,"
Ewan slid an arm around Kent-Hatton's shoulder and he lay down against Ewan's side, his head on Ewan's chest. Alex shut the door softly on the pair of them and left them in peace.
Kent-Hatton lay still for a minute, not thinking, Ewan knew: just waiting until the kitchen door shut, deep inside the house. Then he said, more plaintively than assertively,
"I had to show them."
"I know you did." Ewan said calmly.
"Do you mind?"
Ewan traced a finger under the line of his fringe, lining it back out of his eyes.
"Yes."
Simple, unaccusing. Simon sighed, not moving out of his arms. "I know, I know, I should have waited. It COULD have waited, I should have talked to you."
"That was one option but you made the best decision under the circumstances. I trust you, I know you did the right thing at the right time."
"I didn't know for certain that this guy WOULD hit again, or that he wouldn't, Dunn was right that there IS no real proof —"
"You're the one with the evidence, you make those decisions based on them. No one is better qualified to make them." Ewan said firmly. "And for that reason, you have to work at keeping yourself balanced. You had responsibilities —"
"Ewan —" Simon pleaded.
"Which you let go as far as I can see." Ewan continued, unperturbed. "From yesterday morning. What DID actually get done that should have been?"
"I did some piano practice this morning." Simon admitted. "At breakfast —"
"Much?"
"Fifteen minutes."
"And the other forty five?" Ewan waited. "Riding?"
Simon didn't lift his head. "I told James I'd see him at the weekend."
"And he can find time to exercise your horses?"
"He's paid to do it." Simon protested halfheartedly. Ewan looked at him.
"He's paid to run the stables I think you'll find: not to run around after you. Isn't he?"
"I know." Simon rubbed his head slowly along Ewan's arm. "This just —"
"Overwhelmed everything else?" Ewan suggested when he tailed off. Simon winced.
"Which is why I should have talked to you first."
"Which is why you check with me before you let anything slide. So you don't lose all sense of proportion in one straight rush. What else was swamped in this?"
Simon sighed again. Ewan smiled faintly and ruffled the hair under his hand.
"Make a clean breast of it, you'll feel better."
"The research reading, yesterday and today." Simon turned onto his back, staring at the ceiling while he made the list. "Lunch today. A walk on either day."
"Pretty much everything, in fact."
"Apart from the piano practice." Simon said honestly. "Though that was only because Alex suggested it."
"Good for Alex. Did you make it to bed last night?"
"You know everything." Simon complained. Ewan smiled.
"Just you."
"Yes, I did, actually. About midnight and I got up again at five."
"To work?"
"I needed to."
"All you have to do if you need to change any of your timetable is talk to me." Ewan pointed out. "And we'll rearrange or we'll cancel as necessary to give you the time you want."
"Or not." Simon said dryly. Ewan tapped the top of his head with one finger.
"How many times have you said to me —"
"— that I start getting paranoid and I can't make decisions." Simon admitted.
"You get tired."
"I know. It's just hard. This is new —"
"To an extent." Ewan said quietly. "Your work has always been informed like this. It's emotionally and intellectually very demanding, and you need to keep yourself physically and mentally fit and balanced to be able to do it. And the question isn't can you keep that order and balance when everything's going well and it's easy: the question is can you do it when you're under pressure and it's difficult, as that's when you most need it."
"It's hard."
"I know it's hard. That's why we made it so straightforward. You may not give up any activity or give extra time to anything without asking and gaining permission."
And it would have been given, at once. Although Ewan would have limited the time and made him reschedule, and keep some of his other routine commitments too. Which was the problem.
"What was it?" Ewan asked quietly. "You forgot or you didn't want to?"
"Both." Simon admitted. "And it was easy with you away. I'm sorry."
"We'll deal with it later when Alex goes to bed." Ewan said mildly. "It's not the end of the world."

"I've locked up. If no one wants anything else I'll head up." Alex said an hour later, looking around the drawing room door. Ewan gave him a sleepy smile from the sofa where he and Simon were still entwined, a piano concerto playing softly on the large and ancient record player. Alex didn't recognise the composer.
"Thanks Alex. Sleep well."
"Goodnight."
The drawing room door shut, they heard Alex's energetic run up the stairs and his footfall fade out of hearing. Alex had a small suite of rooms at the top of the house, and he usually went up by eight or nine pm. In fact he took a lot less freedom than Simon and Ewan liked, much preferring the peace of his immaculately ordered kitchen and his own rooms with his books to the clubs and social life his face and body would have made him a favourite at.
Ewan and Simon lay where they were in silence until the concerto ended. Then Ewan stirred.
"Go on up to my dressing room, I'll be up in a minute."

They slept at the other end of the house to Alex, and in what had been traditionally the master bedroom. In the grand days of the house, the dressing room that led off it would have contained a bed and providing a husband and wife with a properly civilised arrangement for conjugal visiting as well as the satisfaction of a quiet and separate bed each. Now Simon kept his clothes in the next room along, and the dressing room was filled with Ewan's belongings, the room neat and quietly decorated with a wardrobe, dressing table and chair, a full length mirror and a small bookcase beside a large, ancient and overstuffed armchair that appeared to have been designed in the days when men were either seven foot tall and four foot wide, or for men wearing full armour. Unlike the rest of the house which spoke of both of them, this room exclusively held Ewan's presence, the traces of his aftershave and clothes, the square and practically tidy items laid out on top of the dressing table. Simon didn't bother to turn the light on. Just drifted across to the window and looked down onto the garden, folding his arms against the slight chill that struck through the glass. A few minutes later he heard the door open, and then close again softly, and the familiar click as Ewan took off his glasses and slipped them into his breast pocket.
"I don't think we need to discuss this any further. Do we?"
Simon came to him silently, unbuckling his belt. Ewan took off his jacket, hung it neatly over on the hard backed chair from the dressing table and rolled back his right shirt sleeve, folding it in place with a deft twist just below his elbow. The chair he placed in the middle of the room, taking a seat and waiting, until Simon lowered himself across his lap, shorts and trousers at his knees. Ewan pushed his shirt tail back and wrapped an arm around his waist, with a strength that would have surprised Dunn in an apparently quiet and lightly built man. Only with the jacket off did the definition at chest, shoulders and arms become apparent, Ewan had the knack of appearing quite harmless to the uninitiated. Simon, much more familiar with the power behind the soft voice and quiet suits, ducked his head and clenched his jaw as Ewan's right hand came sharply down across his bottom. Ewan continued to spank hard and steadily, feeling Simon's initial tension and held breath fray into a gasp as the smart began to build. Fairly soon he began to actively squirm and his breathing became more harsh. Ewan tightened his arm around Simon's slender waist and sustained a steady, immoveable rhythm, until he heard Simon break into tears. His struggling became more desperate and then ended in a sudden, limp surrender as he began to sob, hard and without control. Ewan persisted a moment more, then with a few last and harder swats, ended the spanking. Simon, pushed beyond dignity and his usual self control, was always a heartrending sight. For some moments he was crying too hard to move and Ewan let him be, deep with sympathy and his own quiet focus. This was needed, this was right, it was over now and there was no hurry. When Simon finally stirred he eased him down to his knees, smoothed damp hair back off his wet face and folded both arms around him, holding him while he sobbed. Simon drew away of his own accord when he began to quieten, rubbing at his eyes with more efficiency than gentleness. Ewan intercepted his hands and moved them before they did damage.
"All right?"
He got a nod and no eye contact. Ewan gripped his shoulder, steadying himself while he got up, then took Simon's hand.
"Come here then."
Simon hung back but Ewan gripped his hand and drew him to his feet and across to the armchair, relaxing into it and pulling Simon down after him. Sore, still half dressed and off balance, Simon's only recourse was to curl up half beside and half on his partner, and Ewan once more folded his arms around him, stroking his back with his still hotly smarting right hand. It took some time. A while before Simon relaxed against him, and longer before he turned his head and let Ewan see his face.
"You let me get away with way too much."
"And this subject is open to debate when?" Ewan said mildly. Simon sighed.
"Any time I'm not in trouble. But you do."
"I must have had a reason for that edict, so it stands. Subject closed until at least after lunch tomorrow."
He got another frustrated sigh and pulled Simon's head back down to him, resting a hand on it to hold it there.
"Stop."
Simon took a deep breath but didn't fight him off.
"It's going to be all right you know." Ewan said softly into his hair. "You can do this, it's exactly the chance you've needed all along. And you ARE going to handle it. You more than have the skills."
Simon still didn't answer. Ewan prodded his ribs gently.
"What are you thinking?"
"Nothing."
"I'll ask that just one more time: what are you thinking?"
Simon hesitated for a long time. "That it's been two days and I'm already making a mess of it." he said eventually.
"You made one mistake. We dealt with it. No one but you and I will ever know and we've finished with it. Haven't we?"
Simon shrugged. Aware he was close to tears again, Ewan stroked his back, resting the heavy pressure of his jaw on the top of Simon's head.
"Haven't we?"
"Yes." Simon said softly.
"We'll look at the whole matter with Langtree in the morning, and decide what we'll do then."
"I'm sorry. I know it looks like I was taking advantage of you being gone and it wasn't, it really wasn't —"
"Simon." Ewan interrupted firmly. "I know that, you don't have to tell me. You broke a rule, you were punished, it's that simple and that's the end of it. You're tired and you're worried, that's the only reason you feel this bad. Let it go now, get a good night's sleep and we'll talk to Langtree in the morning."
Simon lifted his chin and kissed Ewan on the mouth, gently and with love. And settled back into his arms, but this time wrapping his own around Ewan's neck.

******************************************

"Ewan. Ewan wake up."

"Mmh?" Ewan rolled over, struggling upright from a tangle of pillows, duvet. Simon was on his feet and over by the window, watch in hand.
"I'm going to have to go back."
"Now?" Ewan grabbed for his own watch. Then flopped down on the bed again, sighing.
"Why don't they ever want to do this at a civilised hour?"
"It's important." Simon said abstractedly. He was fidgeting, looking out at the dark garden. Beyond the window Ewan could hear the steady patter of rain. He shut his eyes for a moment, resisting the pull back into sleep, then rolled over and put his feet to the floor, reaching for his clothes.
From long experience he kept quiet as they went downstairs, accepted the jacket Simon handed him and unlocked the heavy front door, closing it softly behind them. Simon unlocked the monster Bentley and got into the driving seat, starting the engine and turning the heater on full blast to demist the foggy windows. Ewan kept his mouth closed but put a hand over on the wheel, holding it still until the windscreen cleared. Simon sat back, waiting with an effort, his eyes closed. The heater seemed deafening. Then Ewan let go and he slammed the car into gear, gliding through the village and into town as fast as he dared.
There was still a full police presence at the site. Several vans were in the carpark and as they walked onto the path towards the clearing a stretcher was making it's way down from the woods, wrapped in plastic against the rain. Simon ducked off the path into the woods and Ewan followed him, ducking under the police tape and stumbling up the bank in the dim light of his torch. Simon searched rapidly through the police on duty and found one he apparently recognised by one of the makeshift tents set up by the brambles.
Ewan turned his collar up and stood under the rain, watching Simon talk rapidly to the policeman. The answer he got didn't appear to be the one he wanted; he looked grim as he came back to his partner.
"They can't let me go anywhere without Dunn present. Apparently he's my official keeper."
"Can you get anything from here?" Ewan asked quietly. Simon shook his head.
"This isn't where I'm supposed to be. They're calling Dunn."
Who at four am was going to love Simon. Who clearly had realised that fact. Ewan put a hand on his shoulder, the only comfort he could offer in front of half the county's constabulary.
"If you've got to do it, you've got to do it. Dunn's going to have to realise that."
Simon didn't answer. Just took a seat on the damp leaves and rested his chin on his knees, watching the police work. Ewan crouched, pulled the back of his jacket down and made him sit on that, then stayed where he was, rubbing his shoulders, aware of his tension and wondering what else Simon was aware of here in the dark.
Dunn arrived forty minutes later, heavy eyed, stubbled and looking very far from amused. Ewan straightened up, more than prepared to defend Simon if need be but Simon rolled to his feet and walked straight past him.
"I have to be on the other side of that hill and your colleagues won't allow it unless you come with me."
"Thank you for getting up in the middle of the night for no apparent reason Detective Sergeant Dunn." Dunn said acidly. "You're quite welcome Mr Kent-Hatton. What the devil is it that won't wait until morning? More bodies? Is the rapist under the next bush?"
Ewan, who had been expecting it, still blinked as Simon's voice cracked out, not loud but extremely sharp. He rarely lost his temper, but when he did he had all the presence and all the vocal skills that traditionally went with his rank. It was the same tone his father used to steer a vote in the house of Lords.
"MR Dunn, I do not have time to stand here exchanging pleasantries with you. Will you please do as I ask or have Inspector Langtree called, and immediately!"
Dunn stared at him for a moment. Then lifted the police tape and followed Simon slowly down the bank.
"What exactly are we —"
"SHH." Simon said fiercely. Dunn shook his head but shut his mouth, following in silence where the thin beam of Ewan's torch showed the ground. The bracken thickened and the earth got less even. Beneath an oak tree Simon came to a halt and tipped his head back, eyes closed. It was still raining.
"What IS this?" Dunn demanded of Ewan, who stood calmly, watching him. And put a finger to his lips, voice very low.
"It usually helps if we can be quiet."
"What IS he doing?"
Ewan Looked at him. Without quite understanding why, Dunn shut up. And watched Simon stand, face turned up to the rain.
"You've got a witness sighting of a dark red volvo. Battered. C registration." Simon said eventually. "It's his. He didn't tell this woman his name- the woman he killed- but he told her about a woman he found here when he was a child- or a woman that found him. Yes, a woman who found him. She took him out here, away from his family, and- he's re enacting what she did to him, a mirrored attack that then turns into revenge —"
"Where are you getting this?" Dunn demanded, mystified.
Simon didn't move. "He likes to call himself a policeman. He wears a uniform, she had seen him in a uniform once, although he picks them up in plain clothes. Something about Greens? He sees them at Greens. He meets them at Greens."
"Greens?" Dunn said blankly. "Are you going to explain any of this?"
Simon sighed and opened his eyes. Ewan gave him a quick and searching look and saw the dilation of his pupils slowly subside. It was a slight sign but something he always noticed and which for him was a useful indicator.
"Red car. Volvo." Simon said tightly. "C reg. Uniform. Something she could mistake for police. And Greens."
"Greens what?"
Simon shrugged, slowly and helplessly. "I don't know. I'm sorry."
"All right, I've had it with this." Dunn said shortly. "You explain to me right now what's going on or whatever Langtree says —"
Simon's eyes promptly flared again, slightly, but enough for Ewan to see and to know.
"You share your home with a man, Sergeant. Not a lover but you wish he was. It's going rapidly sour and you're wishing now you had the confidence to leave. The writing is on the wall. You've been saying that to yourself for two days now, you see it in your mind as though it's written down."
Dunn stared at him. Then grabbed for his arm, reaching for his radio. Ewan moved silently between them, looking at Dunn until he stepped back, furious, radio still in hand.
"You've been stalking me?!"
"MR Dunn, I might know you shared your home with another man but how could I POSSIBLY know from stalking you what you were telling yourself about your relationship?" Simon jerked away from Ewan, glaring past him at Dunn. "Your friend- Daniel? David? A 'D' name- has something to do with a key, not a standard one but something heavy and ornamental with family associations for you —"
"What the HELL are you?!"
"I'm a bloody psychic, Mr Dunn." Simon glared at him and Dunn could see him shaking, whether with adrenaline or anger was hard to tell. "I can see clear as day the connections in your head to this man- you're covered in emotional fingerprints- and I can see the fingerprints here to this woman."
"How was she killed?" Dunn snapped. Kent-Hatton shook his head.
"I'm picking up the impression of choking, but whether from hands, a ligature, I have no idea."
Dunn stared at him, speechless. Kent-Hatton glared back. He was very pale, his rather long hair was disarrayed and in his eyes, and his shoulders were still hunched rather more than the cold necessitated. Then Dunn pulled out his radio.
"DI Stevenson, respond."
The radio fizzed. Dunn looked again at Simon. "Do you see her? Are you telling me there's some bloody ghost wandering around here?"
Simon shook his head. "Doesn't work like that."
"Then how DOES it- Yes, DS Dunn. I've got some information sir —"
Dunn walked a few steps away, covering his free ear. Ewan put a discreet hand on Simon's back.
"Is she finished?"
Simon nodded, still watching Dunn. Ewan put an arm more firmly around him.
"Then we're headed back to bed."
"I can't just dump this information on them and walk away —"
"Certainly you can. They're the police and they're paid to deal with people doing this to them."
"Does Langtree know about this?" Dunn said sharply, glancing over. Simon nodded.
Dunn turned back to his radio.
"With reference to Inspector Langtree, this information to be given credence and checked out. I'll come over now sir. Thank you."
"We'll be going back to bed then Sergeant." Ewan said politely. "Thank you for your help."
"You're telling me this woman contacted you and told you to come out here, to this place, where she'd tell you who killed her? Just like that?" Dunn said hotly. Ewan steered Simon ahead of him, moving him firmly down the path.
"Yes, I think that's pretty much it, Mr. Dunn. Goodnight."

**************************************

"The papers are here." Alex nudged the door open with his hip and put the tray down on the bedside table. Simon rolled over, breathing in the inviting smell of hot toast and coffee.
"G'morning- what time is it?"
"Nearly eleven. But considering the time I heard you two come in, I thought I'd let you sleep." Alex dropped a copy of The Times without ceremony on top of Ewan and sat on the edge of the bed, pouring coffee for Simon as he struggled upright. And winced as his still sore bottom took his weight. Alex handed him a cup.
"I see things caught up with you."
"Shurrup." Simon buried himself in coffee. Alex poured a second cup for Ewan and leaned over him to put it on his bedside table, then poured a third for himself.
"I took a phone call from your Mr Dunn half an hour ago. He was going off duty, he'd been on more or less all night, but he wanted you to know that the CID team involved made an arrest this morning. Greens apparently they took to mean the green grocers in the highstreet, that's where they linked the car to. And Inspector Langtree would like you involved in the questioning of the suspect. He further asked you to confirm, and I quote, whether you'd be involved as the psychiatrist or the Bloody Medium. I said I'd be sure to check with you."

Alex was sucking honey off his fingers when he answered the door. Dunn surveyed his current outfit with blank incomprehension, blinked and dragged his eyes back up to Alex's face.
"I'm here to see Mr Kent-Hatton?"
"They're out at the moment, Simon's riding."
"Is Mr Granger in?"
"He's taken Simon riding." Alex stood back from the door, leaving it open. "Come in Mr Dunn. You'll have to come into the kitchen, I'm cooking, but they shouldn't be long."
Dunn trailed him in silence, following long, bare legs into the red tiled, warm kitchen where scones were cooling on racks on the kitchen table, the Aga stove was steaming several large saucepans and a book lay open on the cushion of the rocking chair next to the open fireplace. Dunn pulled out a seat at the kitchen table and Simon plonked a plate, a knife, a scone and the honey down in front of him.
Dunn looked at it for a moment, then around the kitchen again. Alex poked one of the saucepans, put the lid back on it and came to sit on the other side of the table, picking up his own half finished scone.
"Looking for the crystal ball, Mr Dunn?"
"Tony." Dunn said cautiously. Alex inclined his head, once more licking honey off his fingers.
"Tony."
"You're not psychic or a medium or telekinetic or anything else bizarre, are you?"
Alex smirked at him and Dunn felt himself flush in response. Enough for Alex to take pity on him.
"No, I'm not. And neither is Ewan."
"And you knew about Kent-Hatton?"
"I knew he was a psychic, yes." Alex said matter of factly. "I've known since we met. In this house it's hard NOT to."
Dunn looked around him, increasingly nervously. Alex leaned across the table and patted Dunn's hand reassuringly.
"You're quite safe. Really. You finish your scone and I'll make you a nice cup of tea."
~The End~
Copyright Ranger 2010

4 comments:

Kaci said...

I love this storyline. I will check to see if you've written more stories about them. Thanks for a great read!

Ranger said...

Thank you Kaci!

ddarius said...

That was great fun! Thank you.

Ranger said...

glad you enjoyed it ddarius!

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