~ Class Separation ~
by Larisa

Top 25: Feb. 23, 2004

Disclaimer: Yada yada yada, ya'll know this stuff.
Sex: Duh!

Bad language, violence and all the other stuff that I can't remember right now, if ya ain't old enough, go the Hell away I hate kids!

Class Separation

June 1982 Shenandoah Junction WV, the night was humid with the scent of rain hanging on the air. It was the night of the reception for the graduating class from the nearby High School, cars raced up and down the road, kids screamed and yelled to each other. They were all heading to the Cliff Side Hotel a few miles away in Charlestown for their reception, a night where they would have freedom for the first time in their young lives. The outdoor swimming pool at the Hotel was crowded with the teenagers, beer and liquor flowed through their veins. It may have been illegal but no one could control what slipped into a can of pop or what he or she had hidden in the rooms. The hotel lobby was filled with the kids making adults hide in the bar area or stay in their rooms, it was one time out of the year when no one was safe. Yells reverberated off the walls in the hallways, kids ran up and down them as if they were still in kindergarten instead of young adults.

Even the parking lot was an unsafe place if you were coming in, trucks and cars had shaving cream on them and anything else that could destroy a cars paint job or piss the owner off. The far corner was where all the popular kids had grouped together to celebrate their newfound freedom. It was no different from any weekend party or parking lot after a football or basketball game. As in any school, there were the types. Jocks, cheerleaders, geeks, brains and then the rich kids, which were gathered here. They passed expensive bottles of liquor around, smoked foreign cigarettes and bragged about their cars and their hood ornament girlfriends. The most popular were the home coming King Davis Ferguson and Queen Finnegan Draper, Davis was your all-American boy, tall muscular with blonde wavy hair and blue eyes. Finnegan could be his sister, except with her sea green eyes, short stature and long straight blonde hair. When she laughed, it went straight to her eyes and made them sparkle. She took the bottle of offered wine and took a long drink, coughing, she handed it back and wiped her mouth.

"Davis, that stuff is horrible!"

"For a hundred bucks a bottle it better not be, you're just used to that cheap shit." The smile disappeared from her face, she hated when he brought up the fact that she came from a blue-collar family and didn't have what the others did. She had the clothes that they did but hers came from her cousins or the second hand store in a nearby town. Her beauty is what made her popular and the most sought after girl, not all the kids she hung out with were like Davis. He acted arrogant around their friends but was a different person while they were alone, that's where she wished they were at that moment, alone. When with friends, he would do stupid things to make him look bigger than life and that's what she was afraid would happen that night.


"Hurry up Timmy, we have to get back in there and get those tables cleared off for ma." Eighteen year-old Merci Macgregor was six feet tall and too thin for her height, she walked with stooped shoulders and very rarely made eye contact with any one except her much smaller brother Timmy, their mother and a few others. Even though they were twins, Timmy had never really grown like his sister. He was only five feet three inches tall and was a few pounds shy of a hundred pounds. His physical size was never a concern, because his heart was of a giant. Like their mother, he was always quick to smile or laugh. Merci was the opposite, brooding and antisocial. Because of her height, she was an outcast. While in school, the other kids teased her to the point where, she would hide in the back of the classroom to avoid the others. Each day they picked on her for something different, if not her ill-fitting clothes, then for where she lived. Their ma worked two jobs to put food on the table and pay bills, both Timmy and Merci helped with the money they made bussing tables. But it never seemed to be enough, the house they lived in belonged to the River Quarry company that had gone out of business years before. The row of shacks as that is what they looked like, were falling down and should have been condemned years ago. Were the homes of a dozen families that at one time had worked the quarry until it closed. The kids that lived there were not accepted in the nearby schools, strictly, because of where they lived. They were called tunnel rats and other names that were good descriptions of what grew on the tunnel walls. Timmy laughed when the kids called him names, Merci stewed until her temper exploded in volcanic proportions. The quarry walls took quite a few beatings from her and the sledgehammer she kept down in the pit.

"Hey Uncle Greg would you grab the door for us?" She asked the cook and gave him a small smile and a nod of her dark head.

"Sure thing Merc, I'll block it so you and Timmy can get back in." The tall thickly built man held the door for them and slide a broom handle in the crack to keep the door from locking behind them. He could never figure out why the management insisted on having the damn thing locked. They all made hourly trips to the dumpster and if you forgot to block the door, then you either walked all the way around or pounded on it until some one opened it for you. He watched the twins carry the garbage bags towards the dumpster and then went back over to where he was supervising a new cook.

Davis squinted into the night and saw movement by the dumpsters; he grinned, reached into his designer jeans and pulled out a twenty-dollar bill. "Finnegan, would you go to the gift shop and get me a couple of packs of gum and get some change for the Coke machine." He gave her a dazzling smile that showed what years of braces and tooth whitener's could do if you had the money.

"Is that all you want," She stuck the money in the pocket of her Jordache jeans and climbed down off the hood of his 440 GTO. "No Marlboro's or anything like that?" She rolled her eyes when he gave her a shooing motion and headed into the Hotel lobby.

"Hey guys, looks like we have two tunnel rats over by the dumpsters. I never told them they could be here, so what do you say we go give them the bad news?" He pulled a baseball bat from the backseat, tossed it to one of his friends and smacked the wine bottle on the curb breaking it off at the bottom. "Time to have some fun and put them back in their place, in the tunnels." They jogged over to the dumpsters; one pulled the broom from the door so that it closed. The other two along with Davis closely circled Timmy and Merc by the dumpster keeping them from escaping. "Look what we have here, it's the clone kids." He laughed and waved the bottle around in front of Merc. "I don't remember giving the two of you permission to be here?"

"Go fuck yourself Davis," Merc growled. "Better yet, go fuck your friends and leave us alone." She pushed Timmy behind her hoping to shield him from the jocks. "Get out of our way Davis; we're not bothering any of you."

"You bother me simply because you live!" He yelled and lashed out with the bottle towards her, when she yelled and fell backwards into her brother, he lashed out again. "Just don't stand there get them!" He yelled at his friends and swung the bottle at her face. There was nothing Merc could do; her vision was blurry from blood running into her eyes. She tried to cover Timmy as best she could but knew that he was being hurt, she yelled when something cracked against her ribs and fell to the ground. She tried to get back up when Timmy screamed her name and fell again when a burning sensation seared her from shoulder to hip. She heard feet running away and lifted her head to see Timmy curled in a fetal position; she crawled over to him and touched his shoulder.

"Timmy, can you hear me?" She choked and felt blood flow from her mouth.

"Get ma, Merc, get ma." Was all that he said before he fell silent, she crawled to the kitchen door and tried to push it open. She used her palm and pounded on the door until her hand hurt, her pounding went unanswered. She pulled herself up, used the toe of her shoe, and kicked until the door swung inward. She looked up and fell into Greg's arms.

"Timmy?" Was all that she said before passing out.

"Ohh shit?" Greg said and carried her into the kitchen. "Call an ambulance and go get Marina, NOW!" He yelled to one of the cooks and placed Merc on one of the preparation tables. "Who would do something like this?" He pulled the towel from his pocket, brushed her long dark hair back from her bloody face and saw the gash that ran from the corner of her dark left eyebrow across her high cheekbone to her chin. He pressed the towel to her face to staunch the blood and then looked to see the front of his white shirt covered in her blood. "Ohh God, I hope they hurry." He mumbled to himself.


Finnegan came out of the front doors of the hotel and saw Davis pulling up towards her, she didn't question this but just climbed in and held on as he tore from the parking lot. Before they hit the exit, an ambulance pulled in and went to the back where they had been. "I wonder what happened that they're here," She looked over the seat and saw that it had stopped by the kitchen door. "Maybe we should stay and see if it's anyone we know?"

"Ohh who cares, probably some idiot drank too much and passed out in the dinning area." He floored the gas pedal, peeled rubber around the corner and tore off towards Maryland.

"Why are we going to Maryland, my parent's think I'm at the Hotel?"

"Grow up Finnegan, you're eighteen, they can't tell you what to do anymore." He pushed the pedal to the floor and watched the speedometer hit red; he wanted to be as far away as possible from the hotel. He knew that the police would show up and start asking questions, they would come up empty because no one would say a word about what they had done. Finnegan knew better than to question him further, he would loose his temper and then she would end up walking home after he threw her from his car.


Marina sat between her children's hospital beds and waited for them to wake up, she had left in the ambulance and spent the last seven hours pacing the floor and worrying. She had spoken to numerous police officers, detectives and had not heard anything since then. She looked towards the door when she heard a throat being cleared and nodded her head at Greg. He had driven behind the ambulance and been her only support through the ordeal of both Timmy and Merci going through surgery.

"How are they?" He asked and came to stand beside his sister.

"Still nothing," She looked up with tear-filled blue eyes and tried not to sob. "Why would someone do this to my babies?"

"I don't know Marina," He crouched down beside her chair and took her hands in his. "I was right there in the kitchen but I didn't hear anything until Merc kicked the door. If I had known?" He dropped his head and felt his tears drip from his jaw. "I would have done something," He lifted his head to look at his only niece and barely recognized her beneath all the bandages. "I put the broom in the door like we always do, someone pulled it out."

"Greg, I'm not blaming you for this. I know that you always prop the door with the broomstick, we have to wait for one of them to wake up before we know who did this." He nodded his head but it still didn't take away his guilt, Timmy and Merc were like his own children. He had helped raise them when their father had left and would do what ever he could for them and his sister.

"How bad is Timmy, the doctor had to rush off before he could tell me?"

"Both of his legs were badly broken, he has pins, screws and metal plates holding the bones together and his shattered elbow is a hit and miss." She wiped her eyes and looked over to her sleeping son. "He may not be able to walk?the bones?" She broke down and fell in to her brother's arms.

"I'll kill who ever did this to them, I swear to God I will."

"Ma?where's Timmy?" Merc's raspy voice came to them and then a low moan when she tried to turn her head. Marina and Greg looked over to her and tried to smile but failed.

"He's right here Merc, he's OK." She opened the eye that wasn't bandaged and tried to see beside her.

"Its blurry ma, I can't see." She blinked a few times and tried to focus her pale blue eye.

"That's just some stuff they put in your eye, it'll go away." She laid a hand on her daughters forearm and looked at her swollen features. "Who did this Merci?"

"Davis Ferguson and his friends." With the last word drifting from her swollen lips, she fell back to sleep.


August 2003 State Police Barracks Kearneysville WV, the day was humid with the temperatures in the high 90's. State Troopers crawled from their cruisers and winced with the oven like temperatures, their dark green shirts became drenched long before they could get into the air-conditioned barracks. One person was thankful that they didn't have to go outside and suffer like the lower ranks and that was First Sergeant Macgregor. She sat back at her desk and put her feet in the center of her blotter, she had been watching the clock for it to hit three o'clock so she could go home for the day. She looked across the squad room and groaned when her Major came towards her office. He only came around when he needed her to send out one of her troopers or have her do something herself. She didn't mind doing extra, but the next two days she had off and planed on spending them with her ma and brother.

"First Sergeant Macgregor," She knew she was in trouble when he used her rank and last name. "I have a problem," He dropped down into the chair across from her desk and held her pale blue eyes. "We have a woman over at the hospital that needs guarded, I've called the police station and they don't have anyone. I've tried to pull one of our troopers to do it and we're short handed?"

"What exactly do you want me to do if we don't have anyone to guard this woman, which brings about the question as to why we're guarding her in the first place?"

"It's simple, I need a female trooper to guard her and the crime fell in our jurisdiction." She narrowed her eyes at him and dropped her feet to the floor.

"What about hospital security, I know they've got a female over there?"

"A rent a cop won't due, she's a witness to a murder and I'm not about to put her life in the hands of someone who can't even carry a weapon. It's just for tonight until Trooper Savoy can take over in the morning."

"Where's Savoy that she can't go in now?"

"She's on her way to Morgantown with a prisoner, by the time she gets back?"

"It'll be too late," She ran her hands down her face and nodded her head. "For tonight only, I'm spending the weekend with my ma and Timmy."

"Thanks Merc, I really appreciate this. We really need her testifying in court to put this guy away, that is if we can catch him."

"Who exactly are we trying to catch and why is she in the hospital?"

"Breton Mallory, he shot and killed the shop teacher over at the High School. Our witness heard the shot and walked in on the crime; he beat her with a .357 and left her lying unconscious on the floor."

"And how do we know that Mallory is the one who did it?"

"He was stupid enough to leave his .357 behind, we ran the fingerprints." She stood up from her desk, grabbed her Smokey hat and pulled it low over her eyes.


"We can't find him; we checked his house and any where else he's known to hang out. There's an APB out on him and his car but you know how that goes."

"Yeah, they say we need more troopers and then they cut the budget so we can't hire anymore. What are the chances that he'll show up at the hospital and what rooms this woman in?"

"That's hard to say, I just want to be safe then have two corpses on our hands. She's in the ICU right now; you'll have to check once you get over there." She nodded her head and walked towards her office door.

"You know you owe me right, you piss ma off and she'll come hunting?" He ducked his head and grinned.

"I know all about ma's temper, remember, she tanned my ass plenty of times when we were younger." She gave her cousin a crooked grin and headed for the barracks door. The second she walked out the door, her breath stopped. It was like when you open an oven door and the heat pours out at you, she wiped sweat from her face and jogged over to her cruiser. The sooner she had the AC on the better; she started her car and flipped the AC on high. What came out was air hot enough to make pop corn; she hit the window buttons and swore. "Damn heat, I feel like I'm in the steam room at the gym."


A nurse stood at the side of the woman's bed, checked her vitals, and then turned when the doctor came in. She handed him the chart and stepped out of his way. "She's stable and she came around for a few minutes and then went back to sleep."

"Good, any news on relatives or next of kin?"

"Nothing yet, the Major from the State Troopers called. He has someone coming over to stand guard at her door," She took the chart from the doctor's hand and placed it back on the foot of the bed.

"Why does she have to be guarded, I thought this was a simple assault case?"

"From what I heard in the cafeteria, the guy who did it is a cop killer." He stopped inside the door and looked back to his patient. "The guy has a thing for male cops; he likes to shoot them on sight."

"And this guy is running around loose!" He flinched and looked down to make sure that his outburst hadn't disturbed the patient. "Why don't they put this guy away?" The tall doctor ran a hand through his grey hair and shrugged his shoulders with his hands out to the sides in a questioning manner=\.

"From what I hear, they can never catch him. I feel sorry for the trooper who has to stand guard; he's a huge target for this maniac along with the rest of us." She saw him shiver and felt bad with having to tell him the information but knew that he needed to know.

"Just what are we supposed to do, paint targets on our backs?" He said to her patient and left the room.


Merc climbed out of her cruiser, adjusted her Sam Brown belt and Smokey hat. Looking out over the parking lot, she checked to make sure that the blue Plymouth Skylark that Mallory drove wasn't there. That was the last thing she needed was a shoot out at the hospital. Grabbing her baton and dropping in into its holder over her left hip, she closed the door and headed up to the ER doors. She held back a grin when people stopped what they were doing to stare at her, she knew it was mostly the uniform that brought the looks but she didn't care. She walked up to the information desk and waited for one or the elderly women to come towards her. "I'm here to see a patient that was brought in this morning; I wasn't given her name or anything. She was involved in the shooting over at the school?"

"Ohh you mean the History teacher let me check for you." She went over to the computer and started typing a couple hundred words a minute. "Nice lady she is, my grand kids had her last year for American History. I don't know why anyone one would want to her that little thing?" She wrote down the information on a piece of paper and handed it to Merc. "That's her room number and her doctor; they just moved her an hour ago."

"Thank you ma'am, have a nice day." She read the room number and headed over to the elevator, sticking the paper in her shirt pocket; she hit the button and grinned when the doors opened. Inside were a couple of punks that plastered themselves up against the wall and slid past her, she loved when that happened. When the door opened on the second floor, she stepped out and looked at the signs before heading down the hall to the room she needed. Stopping outside of the closed door, she dropped her head down to peer through the window and then pushed the door open. Once in the room, she looked down at the bandage-covered face and felt her blood run cold. It took her back when she and Timmy had spent weeks in the hospital and then the years of surgeries and physical therapy for her smaller brother. She didn't know the full medical history here but seeing that the brunt of the injuries were of the face and head were enough. She closed the door and grabbed the medical chart from where it hung; she flipped it open and scanned for the woman's name. Her hands started to shake, heart slammed in her chest and then her teeth clenched at the name in front of her. "Son of a fucking bitch." She mumbled and walked from the room to stand in the hallway. "I'll kill that son of a bitch; Junior knew who she was that's why he didn't tell me." She crossed her arms over her chest and stared to the other wall.


"Aunt Marina, it's Junior, I wanted to warn you that Merc's gonna be pissed off when she comes to see you." He played with a pen on his desk and listened to his aunt laugh hysterically. "Did you hear about the woman who was attacked at the High school, well?Merc's on guard duty outside her room."

"And she's gonna be pissed off about that?"

"No, I didn't tell her who it was because I knew she would have said no and then beat the shit outta me. It's Finnegan Draper?"

"You had better call all your troopers in to protect you; she's going to rip you apart. How could you do that Junior?"

"I had no choice; I couldn't send a male trooper over because if the man who did it shows up he'll shot him on the spot."

"Why didn't you tell me it was that damn Mallory and when the Hell are you guys gonna blow his ass away?"

"Aunt M, you know we can't do that. We'd be no better than him and the fact that we can never find him."

"Bullshit Junior G, the guy is armed and dangerous, just shoot the fucker!"

"Right now I'm more worried about what Merc's gonna do, she may shoot Finnegan."

"Don't worry about that brooding kid of mine; she'll control her itchy trigger finger. I'll have a talk with her when I see her tomorrow, now get back to work or what ever it was you were doing."
She hung up the phone and left Junior sitting at his desk with a worried expression.

"I hope she doesn't shoot her, that's all I need on top of everything else."


A nurse came down the hallway and stopped outside Finnegan's door; she looked up into the shadow of the Smokey hat and felt shivers run down her spine. The first thing that went through her mind was the word intimidating; she pointed at the door and said in a small voice. "I need to check on Miss Draper." Merc nodded her head and stepped out of the way. "Thank you officer, I'll just be a minute."

"No problem, take your time." The nurse stopped and looked up at her.
"I?never mind." She shook her head and went into the room; she had never seen a woman so tall before. Going over to Finnegan's bed, she checked her IV and then the chart to see when the bed had been changed the last time. "Figures, I come on duty and get stuck changing a bed already. She looked down at all the IV lines running and then the left leg in a splint, she knew that there was no way that she could roll the small woman onto her side and get the bed changed as they normally did. Going to the door, she cleared her throat. "Could you help me for a minute, I need to change her bed and I can't?"

"It's OK, I saw her splint and the IV's earlier. What do you want me to do?"

"If you could hold her while I strip and remake that bed that would save me time of having to go get help." Merc followed her into the room and stopped behind her, she waited until she had the IV monitor unplugged from the wall and had moved to the other side of the bed. "Ready when you are, if you could just pick her up and take a step back." Merc stepped forward and carefully lifted Finnegan from the bed; she cradled her in her arms taking care not pull on the IV's. She stepped back and looked down into the bruised and swollen portion of face that she could see. "I really appreciate this," The nurse said and hurried to pull the old sheets off and then get clean ones from the small closet. "I'll be just another minute with this." She quickly made the bed and then stepped out of Merc's way. "OK, you can put her in bed and I'll hook everything back up."

"I can do that, you look like you're in a rush."

"We're short handed tonight, so I have another nurse's patients on top of mine." She laid a hand on Merc's upper arm and gave her a smile. "Thank you again, I'll be by later." Merc laid Finnegan down and then plugged the IV monitor back into the wall; she pulled the sheet and thin blanket up after placing the pillow back beneath her knee. When she looked down at her, all she could think about how the woman had acted years ago. She dropped down into the chair beside the bed and watched her sleep.


August 1982

Merc walked with her mother into the police station, she looked up from her slouched over position into the desk sergeants dark eyes and back to the floor. "I'm Marina Macgregor; I'm here to see Detective Rawlings."

"Down the hallway, first door on the left." He mumbled and went back to filling papers.

"Nice guy, no wonder he's stuck on a desk." Marina mumbled on their way down the hallway. "Now remember to tell him as much as you can, I know you've been through this thousands of times?"

"And no ones done a damn thing about it, why do we bother ma. I mean it's been how long and they still haven't done anything?"

"I know Merc but maybe this guy will he didn't sound like the kind to let a bunch of rich people walk all over him or buy him off."

"And I'm competing in the Miss West Virginia contest." She looked down into her mother's pale blue eyes and held them. "Ma, they don't give a shit we night as well face it now then drag this out for months or years." She followed her ma into the office and rolled her eyes as soon as she saw the detective, he weighed in at over three hundred pounds and couldn't chase down a rolling donut. "Fucking?waste of ti?ooowwww."

"Stop it Merci or I'll kick your ass and wash your mouth out when we get home." They stepped up to his desk and waited for him to put down the foot long Subway sandwich. "We're the Macgregor's; you left a message for us to come in?"

"Yeah, my Captain is closing your case. He said we don't have enough to go on."

"What the fuck buddy!" Merc leaned down over his desk and growled. "Both me and my brother gave you people names and you say you don't have enough?" She snapped her fingers in front of his face and threw her hand in the air. "See that ma, another one bought and paid for, let's get out of here." She walked from the office and went out the front door.

"I'm sorry; it's just that it's taken a lot out of her. She's angry over all of this and no one gives a damn because we're poor, I know and so do you that if it had been the other way around and my kids had sliced Ferguson up and shattered his arm and legs, they'd both be in jail right now." She turned, stopped in the doorway and turned back to him. "Who knew that we had our very own Kennedy family right here in Jefferson County." She found Merc sitting on the steps watching ants run in a line across the sidewalk, she sat down beside her and draped an arm over her thin shoulders. "I'm sorry Merc; I should have listened to ya. Damn cock suckers will get there's one day, it all comes full circle. Each one of them that was involved or knows what happened and is hiding the truth will pay somehow during their lifetime."

"I just wish they would pay sooner, it's not fair ma." She wiped at her eyes and leaned into her ma's side. "It's just not fair."

"I know baby, maybe the rich assholes will get caught embezzling money or cheating on their taxes." She kissed her daughters temple and brushed her dark hair back from her face. "Let's stop and get a pizza, I know Timmy's starving to death." They stood up and started down the sidewalk; Merc froze and looked at a trooper getting out of his car in front of the courthouse.

"That's what I want to be Ma, when I turn 21, I wanna be a State Trooper." She watched as he walked with a pride that none of the other police agencies seemed to have, the way his Smokey hat dropped low over his eyes and the way his uniform was pressed and stood out.

"Good, then you can fix my speeding tickets."

"And give hundreds of tickets to that lying bitch Finnegan Draper."


Present time.

Merc pulled her hat off, ran her finger's through her hair and placed her hat back on. She looked over and kept her eyes on Finnegan's face as she slept. "Why did you lie for him all those years ago, you kept him from paying for what he did?" She was about to say more when Finnegan moaned and tried to roll over in the bed, she reached out a long fingered calloused hand and placed it on her arm. "Relax, you're safe, no ones gonna hurt you." Finnegan took a deep breath and lay still. "Here I am protecting the one person who could have changed so many things if she hadn't lied. She sat back in her chair and then looked up when the door opened; she shook her head and grinned when her ma walked in carrying a bag from Wendy's and a chocolate frosty.

"I knew you'd be hungry by now and that there's no way in Hell that you would eat what they have here." She handed her the bag and frosty before taking a seat in the other chair.

"I guess Junior G called you and told you where I was?"

"Of course he did, he didn't want on my shit list. You doing OK with this?"

"Yeah, it's just part of my job. You know, protecting the innocent and upholding the law." She gave her ma a grin and pulled one of three triple hamburgers from the bag. "What's Timmy doing?"

"His usual, he's got computer parts all over his room and those damn spaceman goggles on. He said he's making a system that will crack every code known to alien life forms."

"I just bet the FBI will love that, did he break that other code for them?"

"In record time, he scares me when he does that. I'm just glad he's doing it legally and leaves other peoples bank accounts alone."

"I just wish he'd tell me when he's moving my money around, I'm lucky I don't have any bills that I have to write checks out for."

"What did he do this time?"

"Ohh he took five hundred bucks out of my checking account and bought stocks in some PC company, a week later, he had tripled the amount of money when he sold them."

"Probably the company that he buys all that stuff from, you probably got what he spent there in the last week." She looked over to Finnegan and sighed, she reminded her of Merc when she was in the hospital. "She looks so small and uncomfortable, why would Mallory shoot the shop teacher and then pistol whip her?"

"No idea ma," She pulled out another hamburger and finished off her fries. "I don't know who the investigating trooper is or why Mallory went after the teacher. I know Finnegan busted in on him, I'm just surprised that he didn't shoot her as well."

"So how long are you supposed to stay here, do you want me to get you anything?"

"Until Savoy comes over in the morning, she's up in Morgantown with a prisoner."

"That's not right, you're pulling over 24 hours and then Savoy will come in and do the same thing. What the Hell is wrong with this picture?"

"Men suck?" Her ma chuckled and nodded her head.

"Besides that, even hair ball Timmy sucks. His damn room looks like a bomb went off in it; maybe you can drag him over here and plop him down in front of the door with his PC parts. If anyone tried to get past him, they'd die of old age before they got past the land mines of pieces and parts." Merc raised a dark eyebrow at her ma and finished chewing.

"He still hasn't gotten his hair cut? You want me to bring over my clippers and shave his head?"

"I wish you would, he looks like Ozzy Osborne. Hair all hanging down over his eyes and sticking up in the back from where his goggle strap rubs, it looks like a damn brillo pad back there."

"I'll bring them over tomorrow, knowing him; he won't even notice I'm shaving his head if he's playing with one of his servers." She looked over to Finnegan when she heard a whimper and saw her hand search the bed beside her, she reached out and squeezed her hand and then went back to eating. Ma watched amazed that Merc would do something like that to the one person who could have changed things so long ago; she hoped that maybe there was a chance for her daughter to get rid of all her anger and move on.

"I'm gonna head home and kick your brother and make him start a load of laundry since I can't get to the damn washer because of his mess."

"OK and thanks for supper ma, I'll see you two in the afternoon. After I get some sleep and work out." Her ma gave her a quick hug and kissed her cheek before leaving the room.

"I know its hard sitting here with her but I know you won't let anything happen to her." Merc looked over to the small fragile looking woman and nodded her head.

"Nope, I'll do my job no matter who it is." After her ma left, she sat for a few minutes just watching Finnegan sleep and then got up to take her spot outside the door.


Finnegan opened her one eye as much as she could and looked around at her strange surroundings, she tried to lift her left leg and found it heavy and awkward. She tried to sit up and felt like a sledgehammer had smacked right between the eyes, moaning, she settled her head back into the pillow. A few seconds later when the pain was back to a low throb, she ran her right hand across her bandaged face and panicked. She didn't know what had happened to her and couldn't remember anything past opening the door to the workshop at the high school. Then it hit her, she remembered running to the shop after hearing what sounded like a gunshot and then immense pain when something had hit her in her face. Reaching down on the arm rails of the bed, she found a few buttons and pressed all of them until she heard a strange voice answer her. "Where am I?I mean I know I'm??"

"I'll be right there to explain everything to you." The voice said and then clicked off the intercom. Finnegan lay quiet for a few minutes and then started pounding on the button and was ready to scream when the door opened. She turned her head and saw the huge trooper holding the door open for the nurse.

"Why is there a trooper outside my door?"

"For your protection, the man who attacked you is still out there and they want to make sure that you're safe. Now what can I do for you?" The nurse asked and started checking her vitals and fixing the bed so, that Finnegan was sitting up a little.

"Why is my face all bandaged?how bad is it?"

"From what your doctor has in your chart, your left cheekbone is broken, a severe concussion, cuts and lacerations to the face and scalp and two molars were knocked out on the left side." She knew she had said too much when Finnegan became silent and covered her face with her hands. "It's not as bad as you think and the scars can be fixed by a plastic surgeon and they are no where as bad as the trooper's out in the hallway." Finnegan waved a hand and mumbled from under her hand.

"I just want to sleep now, thank you." She waited until she heard the door close before removing her hand, she didn't know who the nurse was but she didn't hold back anything. Nothing like being told that your face looks like a chainsaw fell on it but don't worry about it. Not that she really cared about her looks right now, she was happy to be alive.


"How long have you been a nurse?" Merc asked when she came out into the hallway.

"Going on six years why?"

"Because you suck at it," She removed her Smokey hat and peered down into the nurses now terrified eyes. "You never tell a patient that something can be fixed when you haven't the slightest idea how bad the injury is. You see my face, I was told the same thing that you just told Finnegan and guess what, they couldn't do a damn thing about it." She would have said more but the nurse dropped her head and went back down the hallway to check on another patient.

What made Merc blink and shake her head was that she had sort of stuck up for Finnegan, at first she had hoped that her face was as bad or worse than her own is and then changed her mind. She didn't want anyone to have to live with what she did while growing up and even now at times. Even the guys she worked with still looked at her when they thought she wasn't paying attention. She took a step back towards the door and listened for any noises coming from within. She expected to hear a whimper come from Finnegan but heard nothing at all, she placed a hand on the door handle and cracked it open a little. What she saw was something from her past; her ma had sat and stared back at her the same way that Finnegan was now staring at the wall. A corner of her lip lifted in a grin when she had snapped out of her trance to see her ma right across from her. She could still hear her saying that she was getting ready to get a spray bottle to keep her eyes from drying out. When Finnegan started to turn her head, she closed the door softly, looked at her watch and groaned. "It's gonna be a long ass night standing here." She turned and opened the door softly, snuck in and grabbed one of the chairs.

"You don't have to be quiet, I'm not asleep."

"Sorry ma'am, I didn't want to disturb you." She went back out into the hallway, placed the chair in front of the door and sat down. Finnegan watched and tried to get a better look at the trooper, she was confused. The trooper's voice did not match the body, it was a deep rich voice but very female. Finnegan wasn't expecting that at all. "Excuse me!" She yelled she wanted to see if it was in fact a female and not a big man with a weird voice. Kind of like how Mike Tyson was, huge man with a wimp voice. "Excuse me Trooper!" She heard the door open but couldn't tell because the Smokey hat obscured her already limitless sight. "Could you get me some water; I don't want that nurse coming back in here."

"Sure, I'll be back in a minute."

"Wait?what's your name?"

"First Sergeant Macgregor." She let the door close and wondered if Finnegan would remember who she was; it had been years since she had seen the other woman. Strange since they lived in the same area but as in the past, they traveled in different circles.


"Macgregor, why does that name sound so familiar?" Finnegan asked herself and raised the bed so that she was sitting up higher. "It's probably like everyone else in this area, all related by marriage or come from a huge family." She ran her fingers over the bandages and wished that she could see how bad she looked, then again, it might be best not knowing. When the door opened, she looked over and watched Trooper Macgregor sit the pitcher on the rolling table and then hand her a glass with a straw in it. "Thanks, the service in this place sucks."

"As well as the help, and just wait until they bring you green jello for every meal." Finnegan drank half the water and set the cup back on the tray, she turned her head and tried to see the troopers face.

"Just what I need, a jello diet, can I ask you a question?" Merc hated questions; she was used to being the one asking them not answering.

"Sure, I'll answer if I can."

"Do you ever take your hat off; I thought that it was standard procedure when you're inside or something like that?"

"I usually do but I really don't have any place to put it here." She turned to leave and heard Finnegan call out her name.

"Thanks for getting me the water; will you be here all night?"

"No problem and I'll be here until Trooper Savoy gets here in the morning. If you need anything just yell for me." She went out the door and took her seat for the long wait ahead of her.

"Defiantly a woman, huge, but a woman." She closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.


Merc unlocked the door to her trailer, dropped her Sam Browne belt on the kitchen table and walked on weary legs to her bedroom in the back. Shedding out of her uniform, she dropped back on her bed and rubbed her hands across her face. Her eyes burned and felt like she had handfuls of sand in them, it had been years since she had pulled a double shift and it had never been one where she couldn't move around. She dropped her arms out to the side, and let her entire body relax. Minutes later, she was sound asleep and never heard the phone ringing.


Junior sighed and hung up the phone, he knew that his cousin had to be home by now. She maybe in the shower or sleeping, he knew that she was not going to like what he was going to tell her. It was times like this that he hated being a boss. He leaned back in his chair and waved to one of the troopers that had just come in the barracks. "Come on in here a minute, I need you to go over and wake up Merc." The trooper's eyes grew twice in size as he shook his head.

"I can't do that sir, she'll kill me!" He backed towards the desks shaking his head. "You can fire me if you want sir, but I can always get another job but if she kills me?"

"I swear you troopers are all a bunch of pussies when it comes to Merc, she's not that bad." He grabbed his Smokey hat and dropped it on his head. "I'll go wake her up and you can watch the phones for the rest of your shift."

"Fine with me, I'd rather do that and I hate answering the phone. But it's safer then facing a maniac like a Merc when she's tired."


Merc rolled over and pulled her pillow over her head but it did nothing to drown out the chainsaw like sound right outside her bedroom window. Cussing up a storm, she flung her pillow across the room and got up. Forgoing shoes, she slammed out of her trailer in her sports bra and black boxers with red spiders all over them. "What the fuck Hank, you want ta die before supper?!" She yelled at her neighbor and yanked the extension cord from his electric hedge trimmers. "What the fuck are you doing ta my tree!" She grabbed the trimmers from Hank's hands and threw it on the roof of his trailer.

"What did you do that for, those are brand new!" He yelled back and pointed a finger at her. "You better get those back or I'll?" Merc grabbed him by his throat and lifted him four feet off the ground.

"Listen you freak of nature, I catch you cutting down my lilac tree? with me home at that. I could arrest your ass for destruction of private property and indecent exposure!"

"Ohh God damn Merc, don't kill him." Junior said from where he was halfway out of his car. "You have enough bodies in your crawlspace and you're not burying any more bodies in my back yard!" He looked at the man and shook his head. "Ohh the Hell with it, snap his damn neck." He had heard Merc complaining for years about the asshole that lived in the trailer next to hers but thought she was exaggerating, now that he saw with his own eyes he believed everything. The man's fly was open with everything hanging out in plain view. "Merc, either kill the fucker or drop him." He flinched when he heard what sounded like a piece of meat hitting the floor and watched as Hank was dropped to the ground. "I sure hope you didn't break his jaw."

"Would serve him right if I did," She pointed to what was left of her lilac tree. "Look what the sick fuck did just so that he can look in my bedroom window!" Junior walked up, examined the tree and then Hank.

"Well Merc, I think a night in jail would serve him right." He looked into furious blue eyes and felt his blood run cold. "Uuhhmm?I hate to do this but I'll need you to guard Miss Draper until we catch Mallory." He covered his ears when she let out a yell that rivaled a lion.

"If you haven't noticed, I just so happen to be a first sergeant!" She planted her hands on her hips and looked down at him. "Put Savoy on the case?"

"I can't do that and you know it, if I take her off the patrol list, I loose a whole section not being covered."

"Do you know who Draper is?" She yelled back at him.

"Of course I do but there's nothing I can do about it," He held up a hand to stop another outburst. "Merc, it's in the past let it go." She flung her hands in the air and then pointed to her scared face.

"How can I let it go?every time I look in the mirror I'm reminded of what role she played in my life?"

"Merc, she's not the one who did it and it wasn't her parents that paid off everyone to save that asshole Davis."

"I know that?but she knew and she?" She grabbed an unconscious Hank by his leg, dragged him towards Junior's car and threw him in the back seat. "The Hell with it, I'll never let it go and throw this asshole in a cell." She walked towards her trailer and stopped. "In uniform or civies?"

"Your choice Merc, we're putting her in that old farmhouse out on Job Corps road as soon as she's released from the hospital."

"What about her job?"

"Nope, can't take the chance on Mallory walking in the school and shooting everyone there." He got in his car and rolled the window down. "Thanks Merc, I know I owe you big time for this."

"You'll owe me for the rest of your life," She mumbled on her way back into her trailer. "Grabbing a bottle of water off the kitchen counter, she walked back to the bathroom and started the shower. Before doing anything else, she made sure that the shade on the window down and that no one could see in. It wasn't that she was modest or anything, she just didn't like people spying on her. Now with Hank gone for the rest of the night, she could sit with the curtains open and let some sun in. After taking a quick shower, she pulled on a t-shirt, baggy shorts and her old basketball shoes. Going to the hall closet, she pulled down a black plastic box and tucked it under her arm. "Time to clip and dip Timmy." She snickered and went out the door to her cruiser.

She pulled into her ma's driveway and climbed out of her cruiser, looking through the front window, she saw the curtain's part and then the front door opened to reveal her ma. "Hey ma supper almost ready?" She grinned when her ma threw her dishtowel at her. "Guess I'm right on time then, is Timmy down in his dungeon?"

"Where else would he be, I think if he actually came out in the sunlight he might burst into flames like a vampire." Merc leaned down and kissed her ma's cheek before ushering her back in the house.

"You could always haul his servers and stuff out into the back yard when he's sleeping; I know he'd go out there then."

"Are you kidding, he's got that damn robot thingy that does everything but go to the bathroom for him."

"I'm not going to have to fight that thing again am I?"

"Do like I do, take the water soaker down there and threaten to give it a bath." Merc grabbed the water soaker squirt gun near the basement door and went down the steps. The second she got to the bottom, she gagged.

"God damn Timmy this place reeks worse then some sewer!" She went over to one of the small windows, opened it and then stuck a small double bladed window fan in it. "When's the last time you took a shower or changed clothes?"

"Can't remember," He looked up and shook the hair from his blue eyes. "When's the last time you checked to see if you've grown chest hair?"

"About the same time and I told you before that I don't take steroids, it's in the genes. Maybe if you didn't sit around all day and actually ate something different than pop tarts you wouldn't be such a little dweeb." She placed the black plastic box on top of a cluttered table and waved a hand at him and then the bathroom. "Now go take a shower, I'm not getting near you or killing my clippers on your greasy head."

"But the grunge look is in?isn't it?" He looked down at his dirty Levis and filthy shirt and back up at his sister. "What year is it?" Merc chuckled and shrugged her shoulders.

"You're asking the one person that doesn't know what day of the week it is, now get in there I'm hungry and supper's almost ready." She tossed Timmy his metal forearm crutches and watched him hobble towards his bathroom; her brother was a total tech head and lived like a pig. After moving a filing cabinet to find a wall socket, she plugged her clippers in and waited for her brother to get out of the shower. While waiting, she looked at the two huge servers he had built along the one wall. He was hooked into the FBI, CIA and any government agency that you could think of. He did free lance work for them in the computer crimes department and helped with cracking codes for some of the more secret departments. She looked to the bathroom door when she heard the tips of his forearm crutches squeaking on the floor. "Ma won't recognize you," She pointed to his computer chair and waved the clippers at him. "Plus she'll be able to see your eyes when I'm done." She flipped them on and grinned evilly when she shaved a strip right down the center of his head.

"You just enjoy the Hell out of doing this don't you?"

"Sure do, this is the highlight of my life." After Timmy's head was shaved, they went upstairs for supper. Ma took one look at her children and shook her head the size difference was astounding. Timmy was still small and wiry but Merc was well over 220lb and more muscular than any men she knew. Her arms were close to being 21 inches in diameter and bigger than her brothers thighs. Her trooper uniforms had to be made special because they never fit her right, if it wasn't for seeing them both born from her body, she would swear that Merc belonged to some other woman.

"Now I roasted three chickens and made five pounds of mashed potatoes, if that doesn't fill you up Merc, go across the road and chew on one of those cows in the field."

"That's ok ma, I ate before I got home so I'm not that hungry." She still managed to eat a whole chicken and part of another and had three helpings of potatoes before she stopped. "Junior hauled Hank off to jail right before I came over, that dumb bastard was cutting down my lilac bush!" She went on to tell her ma and brother about Hank and what she and Savoy would have to do until they either caught Mallory or deemed it safe for Finnegan not be under police protection.

Timmy leaned back in his chair and rubbed his stomach. "So any idea why the nut job shot the shop teacher?"

"Nope, then again I haven't been back to the barracks yet. Do you know him or anything about him?"

"Nope, but I can run him through the data base and see if anything pops up. Ya know military back ground, police record or I can run him through the IRS files?"

"OK, do your stuff and let me know if anything interesting pops up. I think that maybe he ran into Mallory somewhere and pissed him off."

"What I wanna know is why no one's caught Mallory yet, why can't ya just shoot the bastard on sight. I mean, ya know he's armed and dangerous and has killed how many people, the more he does the more powerful he is?"

"Believe me Timmy, if I set eyes on that bastard, I'll blow him away in a heartbeat. The problem is that he's like the invisible man or something and then we have all his relatives keeping him safe when he does surface. We're not quite sure what he looks like either, the picture we have is like fifteen years old."

"And he can change his looks by just growing a beard or mustache," Ma threw in and then started clearing the table. "Just look in the mirror Timmy and you'll not recognize yourself after just having your head shaved." Merc spent her two days off with her family; they went to the movies, out to eat and then went to Harpers Ferry to go in the small shops so ma could get some scented handmade candles and fresh herbs. Her first day back to work, she stopped by the barracks to check on any new developments on the Mallory case and headed over to relieve a female Sheriff that was guarding Finnegan. She didn't know how Junior had pulled that one off but was thankful, she knew that Savoy was probably near exhaustion from working so many hours a day. She went into Junior's office and dropped down in a chair across from his desk, looking at the top, she saw his notepad with little cars drawn all over it. He did the same thing when they were in school, although he's older than her and Timmy, they ate lunch at the same time and his notebooks were filled with pictures of cars. She reached across and grabbed his pad to add her own special touches to his sketches, she had just finished when her cousin came in.

"Alright what did you do to my cars?" He asked and pulled the notepad from her hands. "Playboy bunny ears?"

"Of course," She grinned up at him. "I thought that if ya had a hot car you'd have all kinds of women flocking to ya and I found out that a State Trooper car isn't hot." She shrugged her shoulders. "So if you put ears on 'em maybe you'll get some bimbos to think you're Hugh Heffner."

"We just have to face it Merc, we're dorks and no woman wants either one of us."

Blue eyes rolled and then a snort came from her. "Junior, you're a married man so at least one woman wants you."

"She don't count and all she wants is the paycheck and for me to cut the grass and not blow the clippings on the driveway." He handed her a folder from his in-box and leaned back in his chair. "My boss wants you to come over and move that huge ass rock in our front yard, she wants it down near the mailbox so that the assholes hit that instead of the umpteenth 4x4 I've had to replace."

"Does Jenny want to see if I can get a hernia, that damn thing must weigh over three hundred pounds or more and how am I supposed to move it?"

"Like you haven't picked up more than that at the gym," He rolled his eyes and gave her a raised dark eyebrow. "Get Savoy to help you, between you two muscle heads it should be a three minute job." Merc looked through the folder in her hands and then up to Junior.

"What's the connection between Finnegan and this shop teacher, were they a couple?"

"No idea, no ones been over to talk to her yet. You're on your way over there why don't you question her?" She ran her fingers through her short spiked hair on the top and sides then flipped her below the shoulder length hair back over her shoulders.

"What about the investigating trooper, what's he been doing?"

"Hoping that Mallory gets caught so that he doesn't have to take the chance and go over to the hospital and be a walking target if he's over there."

"All you men are a bunch of chicken shits, I wear the same uniform as everyone else in this place and yet I've gone over there and stood guard duty along with Savoy. He could shot us the same as he does you guys and now he's changed his MO and shot a school teacher and almost killed another one." She saw her cousins face pale and knew she had hit on something. "Ohh now I get it, not only are Savoy and myself on guard duty but you want us to take over the investigation because of the dickless wonders in the barracks."

"I was going to ask you about that?the other troopers are scared shitless. I've already suspended two of them for a week without pay for refusing to go over to Mallory's shack and see if he was there. The Sheriffs Department is helping as much as they can with widening their patrols but I'm not about to loose this collar because I have wimp ass troopers." Merc sat and held him in a glare; she hated the fact that so many men were afraid of this guy and wouldn't hold up to protecting the innocent people. If she got shot, then she got shot, it was part of the job and everyone knew it.

"I'm pulling Savoy off patrol completely to work with me and when we get Mallory; she gets promoted to Sergeant and takes over. I'll arrange with her which shift she wants on guard duty and the other time she can spend sleeping and working on the case."

"Alright I'll do it; I should have promoted her instead of Benson." He looked down at his desktop and spoke in a low voice. "He's one of them that I suspended and I'll admit that I should have listened to you when you said he sucked and didn't deserve to be promoted above Savoy."

"About damn time you admitted that, now Uncle Greg and ma will lay off you." She closed the folder and left his office with a grim look on her face. No matter that, she was a senior trooper and her cousin was her boss, she still got screwed around because of being a female. Now were her and Savoy's chance to prove finally that they were just as good or better in this case then the others. She stopped off in her office, grabbed her briefcase and headed back out the door to go over to relieve Savoy. Tossing her briefcase and folder on the front seat of her cruiser, she then opened the trunk and pulled out her bulletproof vest. Grabbing an extra Kevlar shield, she forced it down inside the front pocket on the front of the vest.
Taking off her uniform shirt, she pulled the vest on, adjusted the straps and put her shirt back on before getting in her car. She seldom wore her vest but when she did, she always made sure that there were two plates in the chest. The one time she did catch a bullet in the chest, she was sore and bruised for a week. She never wanted to feel that way again and liked the added protection of the extra plate. A few minutes later, she parked at the hospital and went inside. She looked around for anyone who seemed to be out of place and saw no one. Instead of taking the elevator, she took the stairs and stepped through the door a few minutes later. It wasn't strictly for exercise purposes, she just wanted to make sure there were no lurkers.

She stood at the end of the hallway and saw Savoy instead of a sheriff; it was funny in a way. The trooper stood around five foot seven but in her mind, she was twelve feet tall. She wore her Smokey hat like the rest of them but it was her stoic bearing that brought a grin to Merc's lips. She imagined that she herself looked pretty much the same while guarding Finnegan's room, she walked towards her and shook her head when Savoy turned slowly in her direction. "Stand down bulldog, I brought you some coffee and I was expecting to see a sheriff here and not you." She handed over the large cup of Sheetz coffee and a bag of cookies. "She making any noise in there?"

"She called me about five hours ago, one of her kids got sick and she had to go pick him up at school. You mean besides yelling at the TV and scaring the Hell outta me a half dozen times?" Merc chuckled and then jumped when a loud bang came from inside the room. "See what I mean, she's a damn good shot with her shoes. I'm surprised the TV hasn't blown up yet from all the hits it's gotten."

"What's wrong doesn't she like the stations or something?"

"Ohh you'll just have to go in there and see for yourself." She slapped hands with Merc and walked down the hallway drinking her coffee. Merc opened the door and peeked in; she had to grin when she saw Finnegan's bed covered in things that she could throw at the TV. Opening it all the way, she walked in, dropped her briefcase in the chair, and handed Finnegan one of the bags she had in her hand.

"I thought you might be getting tired of the slop they feed you in here, so what's with trying to take the TV out?" She looked over to see one green eye watching her.

"Out of the four channels the damn thing gets, three of them are in Spanish. Don't know about you but I don't understand the language, I'm not learning it to be able to watch TV in my own country and the shit shouldn't be on my TV!" Merc could tell that the hospital stay was getting to the smaller woman but she did have to agree with her on the TV channels, what also pissed her off were the pay phones and ATM machines that came up in foreign languages. She had no problem with people from other countries being there but it wasn't right that the companies wait on them hand and foot because they refuse to learn English. She couldn't count how many illegal aliens she had arrested that spoke no English what's so ever and how many times they had to bring in an interpreter to translate. INS were happy as pigs in slop when they hauled away a van full of the aliens to ship them back to Mexico or where ever they were from. They all blamed the racetrack and the stable owners; they hired the illegal aliens to work the stables for half the wages they would pay someone in the area. Those people were soon learning the errors of their ways when they were fined for harboring.

"I'll see what I can do about having the TV changed for ya, they can't expect you to be here and watch that shit when the people in the waiting room get the regular channels. Unless they hope it'll make the patients get better sooner and free up a bed."

"If that's the case, I would have left yesterday!" She grabbed a shoe and was ready to throw it when Merc pulled it from her hand."

"I'll take your mind off the TV for a while; I have some questions about what happened the other day." She pulled a notepad from her briefcase and sat down, pulling a pen from her pocket, she looked up to Finnegan. "What kind of relationship did you have with the shop teacher Mr. Leanard?" She waited for Finnegan to finish chewing and then flinched at the deep growl that came from the smaller woman. "Is the sandwich OK, I have Tuna on whole wheat?"

"No it's the question, why does everyone think that I was screwing the shop teacher? We were just friends, he was building some bookshelves for my house, and that's all. I was on my way to his shop when I heard the gunshot, I went through the door and that's all I remember."

"So there was no other kind of relationship with him," She wrote that down and then looked back up. "Do you know if he had a girlfriend or any reason of why Mallory would target him?"

"Ohh please, I worked with the guy and every once in a while we had lunch together. That's just about it; we didn't go out or anything away from school. Why don't you tell me about this Mallory guy, maybe he had something against shop teachers?"

"No it's cops he hates, especially male cops." She looked up and knew that she would get no more from Finnegan; they would have to go through Leanard's personal papers, phone records and contact any family that he had. She would call Timmy, see if he found out anything about the man, and have him run a check on Finnegan as well. People never told the police everything they knew, what they didn't understand is it only took one tiny thing to solve a crime. She placed her notepad back in her briefcase and went back out in the hallway to stand her post.


A week later Merc and Savoy walked into the hospital, went to the elevator and went up to the floor where Finnegan was waiting to be discharged. Finnegan had no idea that she was going into police protection or that Savoy had gone to her house to collect things that she would need for her stay at the farmhouse. Thinking it best to not draw attention, Merc and Savoy had changed out of their uniforms and were in workout clothes. Savoy looked up at her boss and shook her head.

"You know you could just wear a sign on your chest that said cop."

"Hey it's the only t-shirt I had in my locker," She looked down at the words State Trooper in silver across her chest and then to the picture of Scooby Doo on Savoy's. "You should have retard across your back, only you would wear a shirt with a cartoon character on the front.

"Yeah well, I stole it out of your locker so who's the tard?" She pushed open Finnegan's door and walked in leaving Merc standing outside with a scowl on her face. "Miss Draper, we're here to take you into police protection."

Finnegan looked up from the newspaper she was reading and shook her head. "Ohh I don't think so, I'm going home and there's no one going with me." Savoy shook her head and handed a paper from the major to her.

"No ma'am, that's an order from our major and signed by a judge, we can't take a chance on Mallory finding you and?"

"Finishing the job he started, I don't think I'm a concern to him. He killed my friend, why don't you people try and figure out why he did it and catch the bastard?" She threw down the newspaper and stood up from the chair she had been sitting in. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have to find a doctor so I can go home." She opened the door and found Merc standing there with her arms crossed over her chest, she looked up into the face shaded by a baseball hat and groaned. "You people can't do this, I have rights!"

"We can read them to you if that's the route you want to go or you can come quietly and be safe from Mallory?" Merc growled and stepped aside when a doctor came up behind her. "Your choice Miss Draper, the farmhouse or a jail cell?" Finnegan turned her head so that she could see better and walked right up to Merc.

"First Sergeant Macgregor, I am not going to the farmhouse?what ever that is so you can read me my rights and haul me to jail." She took the papers from her doctor, dismissed him with a shooing motion and stuck the papers in her pocket. "Are you going to cuff me and march me out to your cruiser or what?" Merc rolled her eyes and waved to Savoy.

"Come on Savoy; let's get this arrogant little twit out of here before I drop her in a bio hazard can somewhere."

"I am not arrogant; I just don't feel that I'm in any danger from whomever it was that attacked me!" She yelled and grabbed her head in pain. "Now unless you two are arresting me, I'm going home!" She tried to push past Merc and found herself picked up, pressed against a wide muscular chest and carried towards the elevator. "Put me down you over grown muscle head!"

"Nope, can't do that Finnegan. My major will have my ass if I don't do my job, Savoy, get the elevator for me."

"Merc, should you really be carrying her out of here like that?" Savoy gazed up into twinkling blue eyes and then into murderous green. "I mean it's not exactly professional?"

"Damn right it's not and I can file police brutality charges against her!" Finnegan slapped at Merc's hands and found it useless; she then froze when the name Merc ran through her mind. "I should know her shouldn't I, maybe not?" She asked herself and shrugged it off for the moment.

"You can try but everyone knows that you don't leave a hospital without using a wheelchair, you don't have one and this is the next best way. On the other hand, I can put you down and you can run home and take the chance of Mallory being there."

"Why don't you people go out and get this Mallory guy and leave me alone?" Merc put her down once they were inside the elevator and stepped back. "I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, now either take me home or to lock-up." Savoy looked to Merc and shrugged her shoulders; she knew that it was useless to argue with Finnegan and it was worse to argue with her superior. Merc nodded her head and waited for the other two women to go out into the hallway.

"We'll take you home but you stay under our protection and you can't go to work." Merc waved a hand when she saw Savoy's mouth start to move. "I'll call junior and tell him about the change, he won't like it but there's no sense in arguing over it anymore." She led the way out to the parking lot and kept an eye out for Mallory or his car, she hoped that Finnegan was right and that he wouldn't come after her. With Finnegan riding shotgun and Savoy in the backseat, Merc drove out towards the high school and then turned down one of the back roads that led to Finnegan's house. She hadn't been there before but she just knew that it would be a huge house with lots of acreage and wouldn't be surprised if a butler answered the door.

Finnegan touched Merc's forearm to get her attention. "Slow down Macgregor, it's the next driveway on your left." Merc slowed down and pulled up the gravel driveway, she blinked her eyes a few times thinking that her sight was going. At the end of the driveway was a very small house that looked like it had only two rooms at the most. She looked over to Finnegan and pointed to the small house.

"You live here, I was expecting something?I don't know?bigger."

"Why would you think that, I'm a history teacher and the pay sucks. You make more than I do in a year and you get a car to go with it, the school system won't even supply aspirins for all the headaches I get during the day." She opened the door when the cruiser stopped and then opened the back one so that Savoy could get out. "One word about how I live and I'll drop kick you in your shins, you got me Macgregor?" She stomped off towards her front door and looked back at them. "I can't get in because I don't have my keys; all my stuff is at school."

"Actually, I have your keys and a bag of your clothes in the trunk." Savoy said and flinched from the glare Finnegan threw her way. "Remember, we were supposed to take you to the safe house and?" She held out the keys to Finnegan and looked up at a smirking Merc. "Ohh shut-up Merc; this is your fault so just can it." They walked into the small house and looked around at all the books pilled up five foot high against one wall and then to the old but well taken care of couch and wooden coffee table that had more books piled on it. The floors were hardwood and shone from wax around the braided rugs scattered around. Merc looked at the small wood burning stove and wished that she had one of those in her trailer.

"I'm going to make a pot of coffee, if you want some you'll have to come in the kitchen to get it." Finnegan gave them one last look and went through the door at the back of the living room and into the kitchen. Merc shrugged her shoulders and followed with Savoy behind her. They looked around at the homey kitchen and sat down at the old table to wait for the coffee to brew. Merc noticed how much trouble Finnegan was having with determining distances, she got up and took the coffee pot from her hand.

"I'll do this, you get the stuff ready and I'll pour the water."

"And how would you know what it's like to not be able to see out of one eye?"

"Believe me I know all about it, where's the coffee grounds?"

"Just what I need a know it all, it's in the refrigerator." She sat down at the table and watched Merc prepare the coffee and then place three coffee cups on the table. She looked over to Savoy and saw how pale her face was and wondered why. "Are you OK Trooper Savoy, you look a little pale."

"Yeah I'm fine, just a little tired is all." She rubbed her face and looked up at her boss. "I'll take the next shift if you let me get some sleep; I'll call the barracks and have someone come pick me up."

"Sure if that's what you want, it doesn't matter to me either way."

She looked to Finnegan and pointed to her phone. "Can I use your phone?"

"Sure, would you do me a favor and get my car from the school parking lot. It's a 1988 blue Chevy Cavalier, I left it in the parking lot near where the buses park."

"Sure, I'll have the trooper who comes for me take me over there and I'll drive it over in the morning." She took the keys Finnegan held out to her and then made her call; Merc poured the coffee and placed sugar and milk on the table. She sat down and kept her eyes on her cup not knowing what to do.

"You guys can sit here or in the living room, I have some papers I need to grade and then call one of the teachers so that they can be picked up, put in my grade book and returned to the kids." She left the kitchen and went over to an old battered desk in the living room, flipping a light on that hung from the corner of the desk, she moved it so that she could see better. She never noticed Merc step into the room and stand at the doorway watching her.

"One of the guys will be out here in a half hour or so," Savoy looked up into Merc's pale blue eyes. "You won't beat the Hell outta her or anything will you?"

"Nope, she's safe as long as she doesn't get snippy with me again. I may just box her ears for her and tie her to her bed."

Savoy raised an eyebrow and grinned at her. "How come I get the distinct impression that you'd enjoy the Hell outta doing that?"

"Because I would, just ask Timmy the next time you see him. I can tie some wicked knots that no one can get untied, Ma always kept a pocket knife on her for just those types of occasions." She walked towards the front door and looked back over her shoulder at Finnegan. "Come on I'll wait with ya outside, I have to get my bag and Finnegan's from the cruiser."

"So what are ya gonna do for the rest of the day?"

"I have my briefcase and my laptop, Timmy's doing some spook work for me so hopefully he'll have some information that we can use for this case." Savoy stopped beside the cruiser and looked out towards the road before turning back to Merc.

"She doesn't know who you are does she?"

"Nope and I don't know if that's good or bad," She grabbed the bags from the cruiser and set them on the roof. "I mean how could someone forget something like that, she was dragged into the police station a couple of times for questioning. They had her in the courthouse during the useless trial and then she just disappeared after it all went out the window."

"What about the asshole, what ever happened to him?"

"Ohh he went to college and made it big as some smartass mouthy lawyer. What better occupation for a lying bastard with more money then he knows what to do with, now he has more money to buy off some more people when he gets into trouble." She chuckled and looked to Savoy. "Timmy keeps reporting him to the IRS, he flags his SSN and bank accounts hoping that one day they'll audit his ass and he'll end up in jail."

"Timmy may end up in jail if he gets caught; then again, he's the best hacker that I know of."

"There's your ride, I'll see you sometime tomorrow." She grabbed the bags and went back in the house to see Finnegan rubbing her one eye and temple.

"Hey Macgregor can we go to the grocery store, I don't have any food here except two eggs and a bottle of water?"

"Sure, I can take you to the store if that's what you want. And if you don't mind, I'll stop and pick up my supper before we head back." Finnegan stepped up to her and tilted her head so that she could see.

"What you don't trust my cooking?"

"I trust your cooking it's just that the amount of food I can eat will put you in the poor house."

"I seriously doubt that," She grabbed an envelope from her desk drawer and walked towards the door. "Come on Macgregor, I'm starving and that's not a good thing when you go to a grocery store."

After arguing over which store to go to, they pulled into the Wal-Mart parking lot. Finnegan pulled herself out of the cruiser and cast a one eyed glare at Merc; she hated Wal-Mart because it was always so crowded and they were remodeling the store. She limped towards where the carts were and tried to out distance Merc. That was an impossible feat considering Merc's legs were three times a long as hers. She looked over her shoulder and growled when she saw that she was right behind her with her own cart. "Are you going to follow me all through the store?"

"Nope, I have a feeling that we don't eat the same kinds of foods, so I'll meet you at the pop machines when you're done."

"No body guard hovering or anything?"

"Mallory isn't about to come in a store when his face is plastered all over the doors." She pointed her finger over her shoulder to the posters on the front doors.

"Ya never know I've seen some really stupid people in my life." She put her injured leg on the bottom of the cart and pushed with the other, in a few minutes she was out of Merc's sight or so she thought. Merc pushed her cart towards the fresh fruit and vegetable section; she grabbed a bag of apples and a bunch of bananas before heading to where the green beans and other vegetables were. Grabbing what she needed, she went back to the dairy department and put two gallons of milk in her cart. Her next stop was where they roasted chicken; she looked at the breast strips and BBQ chunks before grabbing three lemon-roasted chickens.

"Put those back Merc or I'll kick your ass and why aren't you doing your body guard thing?" Her ma asked from behind the counter.

"But I'm hungry and she's around here somewhere." She put the chickens back and grinned when she watched her ma pull three off the spits and place them in plastic containers.

"You brought her grocery shopping?"

"Yep, she said she needed food so after we fought all the way from her house, she finally agreed to get what she needed here." She took the bag of seasoned potato wedges and placed everything in her cart. "Ya know ma, she has no idea who I am?"

"What do ya mean she doesn't know?oohh you mean from years ago? I wonder why that is, have you asked her?"

"I'm not asking her that," She looked around and then leaned in closer to the counter. "Have Timmy run a check on her, when we were in school, she hung out and acted like the rich assholes. Now she lives in that tiny little house off Rt. 234; ya know the old Hanson place."

"She's a teacher and they make dirt for a salary, maybe she doesn't want her family's money?" Ma looked to her side and tapped Merc on her hand. "Is that her right there?she looks different." Merc turned her head slowly and nodded.

"Yep, that's the thorn in my side. Ya know most people are scared shitless of cops, she uses my last name and goes toe to toe with me." She shut her mouth when she felt a green eye boring into her back. "Is she looking at me?" Her ma grinned and went over to help Finnegan.

Once they had checked out and started loading all the groceries in the car, Finnegan looked at the three bags with the roasted chickens in them. "Did you buy enough chicken Macgregor; I think I saw a few more on the spits?"

"That's enough for one meal and maybe a snack later, I got tater wedges to go with, so that should fill me up for a while." She looked over to Finnegan, shot her a quick grin and then got behind the wheel.

"One meal?that would feed me for a couple weeks, there's no way you can eat all of that."

"Have you taken a look at how big I am, that's just what I have for one meal."

"I can't see a damn thing except a big blur at best, that concussion has my eyesight fucked and I have no peripheral vision on the left side. And as far as big goes, everyone is big to me, now let's get going before my frozen stuff thaws."


Finnegan sat there with her chin resting in her hand watching Merc finish off her second chicken and the last of a gallon of milk. She could only eat one breast a few of the wedges and one glass of milk. "Tell me something Macgregor; where in the Hell did you put all that food?"

"Tell me something and I might, why do you keep calling me by my last name?"

"Because, everyone else calls you either by your rank or your first name that's why, I think I'll just call ya Mac from now on. So why so much food at one time?"

"I burn a lot off at the gym so I need this much to keep my size, do you have to get therapy for your leg?"

"Supposed to but I can't afford it and my insurance won't cover it, I hate to see the hospital bill after being in there a week and the surgery they did." She got up from the table and headed to the bathroom off the living room, Merc started cleaning off the table and putting the dirty dishes in the sink when she jumped from Finnegan's yell.

"SON OF A BITCH!" Merc went running into the bathroom and stopped when she saw Finnegan hunched over the sink counter.

"Are you OK?"

"Damn assholes?I just ripped my eyebrow off trying to take that damn tape off my face." She lifted her head with a hand over her eyebrow and growled at Merc. "Why do they do that, it's not bad enough that you can't get the damn sticky stuff off but then you rip you facial hair off as well!"

"They don't care, it's not their bodies. Try soaking a washrag in hot water and then holding it against the tape. It comes off easier and won't leave those red streaks across your face." She turned to leave and then stopped.

"Mac, do me a favor and take the rest of this off for me. If you yank it quick it may not hurt as much."

"Ohhh no, come with me, there's no way I'm ripping that tape off your face. My eardrums couldn't take you yelling again." She pushed a mumbling Finnegan down on the couch and went into the kitchen to get a towel and ice cubes, when she came back; she saw the narrowed eye glaring at her. "That's a good look for you ya know, I bet it's a big hit with the kids you teach." She sat down beside her and held out the ice cubes. "Put that on the tape for a few minutes and then I'll take it off."

"Yeah the look does work and why am using ice when you said to use a hot washrag before?"

"Either or but the ice numbs the skin so it doesn't hurt," She pushed her hand down and grabbed the edge of a piece of tape. "Take a deep breath and then let it out." The second Finnegan released the breath; Merc ripped the tape off and flinched when she was smacked in her shoulder.

"That hurt?you said it wouldn't hurt you lying sack of shit!"

"I never said it wouldn't hurt and should we have taken the bandage off already?"

"I want a shower and walking around with half my face bandaged just ain't doing it for me." She smacked Merc again and then got up to get some clothes before heading into the bathroom. Merc went back into the kitchen and started to fill the sink with water to wash the dishes; she stopped and dropped her head down to watch the bubbles float around on the water. "Why am I being nice to her and why doesn't she remember anything?" She grabbed at her pocket and pulled out her pager, looking at the screen, she saw a message from Timmy. "You work fast little man." She finished with the dishes and then went to boot up her laptop to see what he had sent to her, she looked up when she felt eyes watching her. "Feel better now?"

"Yeah, sponge baths do nothing for me." She used the towel to dry her short blondish hair and then dropped it over her shoulders. "I think I used ten gallons of water to wash that stuff out of my eye, it's still blurry but better than running into walls." She sat down on the couch and tried to look up under Merc's hat. "Hey Mac, you know that you'll go bald if you wear a hat all the time."

"Nah, I use Rogaine." She pulled up the file that Timmy sent her, saved it as a text file and then closed the program. "Then again, if I went bald, I'd save on shampoo." She closed her laptop and rubbed her face. "Do you have a spare pillow I can use?"

"I guess I can give you a pillow, although if I don't and you get a stiff neck maybe you'll go home and leave me in peace."

"Not a chance, I've slept in my cruiser, my desk chair and on the floor before. So a stiff neck isn't gonna make me go away."

"Damn, just my luck," She turned and looked into the darkness that was Merc's face. "I really hate hats and why won't you look at me, is my face that messed up?"

"Not at all, I just didn't want you to feel uncomfortable."

"There not the first scars I've had on my face and if it wasn't for the steel plate in my head I'm sure I'd be pushing up daisies right now." She got up with some difficulty and went into her bedroom to get Merc a pillow and a sheet to put over the couch when she returned Merc was watching her.
"You have a steel plate in your head?"

"Yeah, I'll tell ya about it sometime." She handed her the pillow and sheet and then went towards her bedroom. "Night Mac and don't wake me up until about noon, it's been years since I've been able to sleep in."

Merc opened her laptop and went to the file that Timmy had sent her; she started reading the one on Mallory first and saw nothing that she didn't know already. Until she came to the bottom of the page and saw that a deposit of ten thousand dollars was put into a savings account. "Now where would someone on welfare get that kind of money?" She hooked her cell phone back up to her modem and checked to see if Timmy had sent anything else in the last hour or so. She wasn't surprised to see a history on Davis in front of her, what brought a grin to her face was the listings of withdrawals from his accounts to questionable accounts in different states.

Disconnecting her cell phone, she lay back on the couch and rested her laptop on her stomach. Going back to what Timmy had found on Finnegan, she scanned it at first and then stopped halfway down. It was during 1983 that piqued her; Finnegan was rushed to the hospital after being attacked in Virginia Beach during spring break. She sustained head injuries, cuts and lacerations to 30% of her torso and face, her left leg was broken in two places, and four ribs were broke. She remained in a coma for six months from the head injuries and had three operations to relieve inter cranial pressure. A five-inch wide steel plate is above the left ear and stops a few centimeters from the center of her cranium; partial deafness in the left ear is untreatable. "Son of a bitch," Merc whispered and continued to read down the page, when she was finished, she placed the laptop on the table and swung her legs over the couch. "She was attacked and no one knows a damn thing about it, no witnesses and Finnegan couldn't remember anything prior to being attacked."

As she thought, she pulled her hat and t-shirt off and then her shoes and shorts. Stretching out on the couch again, she placed her laptop on her stomach, closed the program and opened up FreeCell. She always thought better when she was playing the card game, her ma asked her how she could think to play the game and how to solve a case. She told her that she just let her mind wander and solutions came on their own, a few minutes later, her hand fell to the side of the couch and her screensaver of Yosemite Sam popped on.


Finnegan crawled from her bed and held her head with both hands; she had waked from the sharp pains of a headache. She tried using the pressure points that she had learned years ago but when that didn't help she knew it was time for pain killers. She seldom used them but was glad that she kept them around; she went into the bathroom and came back out after taking two tablets. She stopped behind the couch and looked over at Merc; a small grin came to her face when she saw the screen saver playing across the screen. She went around to the front, took the laptop and shut it down; it was then that she noticed that Merc didn't have her hat on. She stepped closer, looked down at the sharp features of her bodyguard, and felt her insides jitter; her eyes traced the scar that ran from a dark eyebrow, across a high cheekbone and all the way to her chin. She didn't know why she hadn't noticed the scar before, it wasn't like it wasn't noticeable. It was a quarter inch wide at the most and stood out white against her tanned skin.

As she looked closer, she saw other smaller scars on her neck and chest. Her breath caught in her chest when she took in the body lying before her, never had see seen a woman built like Merc. The muscle mass that covered her was what you would see in Muscle and Fitness Magazine or watching Body Building competitions on the Sports Channel. She let her eyes trail down to thickly muscled thighs and back up to see a hint of a white scar over a hip. She wondered what had happened to Merc that she had so many scars; something pulled at her and told her she should know but nothing would come forward. Sighing, she went back to her bedroom and to her closet. She searched until she found a cardboard box, pulling it down; she placed it on her bed and opened it. Inside were papers from when she was in High School and a couple yearbooks. Grabbing the one from her senior year, she flipped to the back and found two names under Macgregor.

She went to the page and saw two faces that looked similar. "Merci and Timothy Macgregor, she's a twin." She read what they did while in school and saw nothing like what other kids had done, neither one of them had been in any clubs or been involved in sports. She looked at Merc's picture and if not for the name, she would never have known that they were the same person. She stared at the bluest eyes she had ever seen in her life and knew what Merc hid under the brim of her hat. "You have such beautiful eyes and you hide them, or do you just hide them from me?" She wondered if Merc kept her hat on all the time or if she took it off at the office. "There's something about you Merci Macgregor but what is it?" She looked at the clock on her nightstand and then grabbed her phone, her parents had moved to Arizona after her dad retired and with the time difference, they should still be awake.

"Mom I need some info here, I got beat up at school and I'm under police protection. Did I ever know a Merci Macgregor when I was in school?"

"I've been trying to call you all week and you're just now telling me you got beat up!"

"They just discharged me this morning and I've been busy trying to get stuff in order?"

"How bad were you hurt and should I come out there to take care of you?"

"I'm alright, got my face mangled again but nothing serious. Now about Macgregor, I have this feeling that I should know her?"

"Fin, that was a long time ago and what happened to her and her brother had nothing to do with you."

"Mom, I think it has a lot to do with me?it's a feeling I have that I did something wrong."

"Fin why is this so important to you, there was nothing you could do then so what relevance does it have now?"

"For one, I want to know what happened and how I was involved and two, she's putting her life on the line to protect me from some asshole that shot the shop teacher and pistol whipped me."

"I can't help you Fin, I don't want you to relive all that pain." Without saying another word, she hung up.

"Damn you! Why do you have to protect me from my past, I'm not a little kid!" She threw the phone on the floor and got up to pace. "There's got to be a way to find out what happened back then?" Ideas flew through her head, she stopped and looked at her laptop and then went over to where it sat on her dresser. Pulling the phone cord out of the bag, she hooked it up to her phone and started to do a search through the local newspapers archive. She typed in Merc's name and was astounded at the amount of files listed. She pulled up the first one and felt her heart slam in her chest, it listed just a brief description of what had happened and where. She grabbed her yearbook and checked the section where all the pictures and other pertinent information about their graduation. Reading back and forth between the two articles, she knew that she had to have been at the hotel during the attack on Merc and Timmy. She pulled up another article and saw a picture of the back of the hotel near the kitchen with yellow police tape blocking it off. No memories came of that area, she flipped a few pages in her yearbook and searched the pictures until she came across one with her in it, she was standing with a bunch of other kids that she couldn't remember. "What part did I play in all of this?" She yawned and decided to download the articles and then read them in the morning; if she didn't find anything there then she would have Savoy take her to the library. Once she knew what happened, she would ask Merc.


Finnegan wandered out into the kitchen and dropped down into a chair and watched Merc cooking breakfast, a slight grin came to her face when she realized that Merc didn't have her hat on and that her short hair on top of her head was formed into what reminded her of a roosters comb. Resting her cheek in the palm of her hand, she watched the thick muscles of her arms flex when she flipped the omelets over in the frying pan. She had no idea if Merc knew she was there so she took this chance to examine the tall trooper's body, when she shifted from foot to foot, the muscles in her legs and ass flexed. Finnegan found herself wondering what those muscles would feel like beneath her hands, she looked up when Merc cleared her throat and blushed.

"If you're thinking of a way to run off and ditch me, forget it, I can chase you down easily." She pulled down two plates, filled them with food and slid one plate in front of Finnegan along with a fresh cup of coffee.

"Nope, I was just thinking how funny you look with that ridge down the center of your head." She picked up her fork and dug into her food. "I was expecting to see that damn hat on your head."

"I happen to like my hat, I can stare at people and they not know it." She sat down across from Finnegan and gave her a crooked grin. "Saying about my head and yours looks a lot worse than mine and where's your leg brace?"

"Threw it in my closet, I don't need the damn thing, it makes my toes go numb." She looked up from her plate and blinked her eyes a few times. "What's my face look like?"

"You want the truth or sugar coating like a nurse?"

"The truth, sugar coating doesn't help me one bit, I don't care about the scaring it's my eyebrow I ripped off yesterday." She tried to wiggle them and groaned. "Is it noticeable?" Merc chuckled and nodded her head.

"Ohh yeah, you look weird with one and a half eyebrows. When Savoy gets here I can run your school work over to the school, I have to go talk to the principal about the shop teacher."

"What's Savoy's first name; I'd rather call her that then Savoy?"


"Mac, that doesn't help one bit. What's her first name?"

"Trooper Tracey or just plain T. you need me to bring you anything from the school while I'm there?" She put her dish in the sink and started water to wash them.

"You can grab my back pack from my room if it's still in there or maybe the principal has it." She leaned back in her chair and wondered why Merc wasn't still eating. "Was last nights slaughtering of two chickens a fluke?"

"Nope, I don't eat that much in the mornings. I go to the gym and if I eat heavy before I go then I get sick." She held out her hand for Finnegan's plate and pointed to her coffee cup. "You want more or should I turn the pot off."

"Ohh I'll drink it until you need a fork to get it out, you know you didn't have to make breakfast."

"I like to cook; you can sorta say it's a family thing. My uncle is the head cook over at Cliffside and ma is the cook over at Wal-Mart." Finnegan looked up from her coffee and raised what little bit of eyebrow she had.

"Your ma works in the deli department?"

"Yep, she sliced your lunchmeat yesterday." She wiped her hands on a towel and filled her coffee cup up. "I put my cell phone and pager number near the phone, if any man comes up to your door that you don't know you call or page me."

"What about Savoy, she's here to protect me or don't you think she can do it?"

"Ohh she can protect you but it's better if she has backup and that's me."

"Tell me why I haven't seen any male troopers; are they afraid of harassment charges or something?"

"Nope, they're afraid of getting shot. Like I said before, Mallory likes to shot male cops. I may look like one but I think I'm safe." Finnegan looked at her chest and shook her head.

"You may have muscles like Arnold Schwarzenegger but he doesn't have tits." She gave Merc a grin and got up from the table. "I have some tests to write up; I'll be at my desk if you need anything." Merc looked down at her chest and had to agree, Arnold didn't have tits.


Savoy gave Finnegan a strange look when she asked to go to the public library; she had no idea why anyone would want to go there. The place never got any new books in and was so small that it could fit in the barracks locker room. "Why do ya want ta go there, the place sucks?"

"I need to do some research on something for?school: I need to look in the newspaper archives."

"Are all school teachers like you?weird?" Finnegan chuckled and shrugged her shoulders.

"I try to teach the kids what's going on today instead of the stuff that doesn't interest them, I do teach them our history but that doesn't really help them with what's going on in the Middle East." She grabbed a notepad and pen from her desk and headed to the front door. "What gym do you go to; I need to use a treadmill or maybe a stationary bike to strengthen my knee?"

"Gold's gym in town, I can take you as a guest if you want. That way you don't have to join and put out all that money for a membership."

"Can we go after I get my research done?"

"Sure if you want, just ignore the asshole men in there. They think that any woman that comes in wants to jump in the sac with 'em."

"Then I get to give them a rude awakening, I'm not there to pick up a man." It took them a good twenty minutes to get to the library in town, there were road crews tearing up the sidewalks and parking was limited. Finding a spot a few blocks away, Savoy checked their surroundings before she allowed Finnegan to get out. If anything happened to her, she knew that her ass would be worthless for the rest of her life. On the way to the building, Savoy walked on the street side and kept Finnegan close to her side by holding onto her elbow, she knew it looked strange but didn't give a damn. If anyone decided to drive by and shot at them, then Savoy would be a human shield. Her heart rate went back to normal once they were inside and in the back where the archives were located. She decided to look at some books while Finnegan did her research and found herself in the art section. She pulled down a big book and started flipping through the pages; a grin came to her face when she looked down at the photograph of a naked woman. She took the book over to a table and sat down to drool.

Finnegan started her search for the dates she had gotten the night before and when all she found were the same articles, she went into the local court hearings. The first thing that came up was the review on the case of Macgregor vs. Ferguson. Assault and battery, attempted murder and fleeing the scene, she rubbed her eyes and leaned back in the chair to read. When finished, she pulled up the next one and read down to the witnesses testifying for the defendant, she was surprised to see her name there as well as other people's names. When she got to the last of it, she looked around the room for Savoy, she knew that she should be asking Merc the questions she had, but wanted to know more of what happened before she did that. She got up and went to sit across from the grinning trooper.

"If you drool on the pages, they may make you pay for the book." Savoy looked up and slammed the book closed.

"Hope not, I have a feeling that this thing costs more then I make in a week." She brushed the cover off and slid it to the center of the table. "Are you done with your research?"

"Sort of, I want to ask you some questions. First, I need ta tell you why I'm asking them. When I was in my first year of college, I was attacked and ended up in a coma; I lost a lot of my memories from before the attack. I don't remember a lot of stuff that I should and that has always bothered me, I don't remember Merc or her brother from when we were in school and all I know is what I read last night and just now. Do you know what happened and why I was called as a witness in the trial and why it was dismissed?" Savoy felt her face go pale and knew she was in deep shit; she didn't want to be in this position and knew if she said anything Merc would kill her.

"Finnegan, I don't know all that happened. I was just a kid back then, the person you should ask is Merc or?maybe Timmy." She pulled her cell phone off her belt and dialed Marina's house, she was thankful when she answered and not Timmy. After a few minutes, she looked up at Finnegan and nodded her head. "Ma said to come on over and she'll talk to you."

"She's not going to shoot me or anything is she?"

"Ma's nothing like that and Timmy will fry your brains with tech head stuff, he works freelance for the Government." She got up from the table and waited for Finnegan to join her. "If Merc shows up, this was all your idea and you held me at gun point." A half hour later they were pulling into Marina's driveway, Finnegan looked at the small ranch and saw Marina open the front door. She looked different from when she had seen her at Wal-Mart and was a little afraid of the small woman. As she got out of the car and walked with Savoy up to the door, she noticed that both mother and daughter had the same color eyes.

"You're lucky; Merc had just left before you called." She held out her hand to Finnegan. "I'm Marina but you can call me Ma and if we're lucky, Timmy will come up from the basement. He and his sister have a weakness when it comes to blondes with green eyes."

"Timmy has a weakness period when it comes to the opposite sex," Savoy mumbled and walked into the house behind Finnegan and ma. "He really needs to get out of the basement more than to just eat." Ma looked over her shoulder at Finnegan.

"My son is a basement dweller; he works and lives in my basement. Merc comes over and practically drags him upstairs."

"They're twins aren't they; I looked their pictures up in my yearbook last night?" Ma nodded her head and then smiled.

"If you saw them side by side now, you would never know. Timmy's a dweeb and if a strong wind blows we have to chase after him." She led them into her kitchen and pointed to the chairs. "Have a seat and I'll get us some iced tea," She watched where Finnegan sat and grinned, she picked Merc's normal chair which would be at her right when she sat down. "So how can I help you Finnegan?"

She told her about her attack and comatose state while going to college and how she couldn't remember certain things. And that she had read about what happened to Merc and Timmy and what the court reviews had said about her testifying but wanted to know more. "I called my mom last night and she down right refused to tell me anything, I need to know, will you tell me?" Ma ran over everything that happened from the time that her kids were attacked up to the case being dismissed.

"So I testified that I didn't see anything and didn't know anything," Finnegan ran her hands down her face and flinched when she hit the spot where they had wired her cheek bone back together. "Was I lying or did I really not know anything?"

"From what I saw, you knew a little but not everything. I could tell by your eyes, they changed colors when certain questions were asked."

"Really, I didn't know they changed like that." She dropped her head to look into her glass. "I wish I could remember things from back then, I had to learn a lot of stuff all over again once I got out of the hospital and I still suffer from bad headaches." She ran her fingers over the area where the steel plate was. "I guess I'm lucky that I'm not a vegetable, I was told that who ever attacked me used a baseball bat on me."

"They never caught who did it?" Ma asked and got up from the table to go to the basement door.

"No, someone found me lying in a parking lot and called an ambulance. There was no case because there were no witnesses and I couldn't remember anything." Tracy shook her head and played with her glass, she knew all to well how cases like that went, they didn't. After so long they were just closed as unsolvable and placed in the dead case files.

"Timmy will you bring up the court transcripts?"

"Ahhh ma, I'm right in the middle of something!" He yelled back.

"Your virtual woman can wait; I have real ones up here that wanna read the transcripts!"

"One of them wouldn't happen to be my betrothed Trooper T would it?"

"Go to Hell you dorkwad, I'm not your anything!" Tracy yelled back and watched Finnegan grin. "He's demented as Hell and plays with robots for entertainment." Finnegan turned her head when she heard a clumping coming up the steps and then the top of a head with black peach fuzz covering it, ma pulled the folder from between her son's teeth and wiped the slobber on his shirt. "When Merc shaved you head, she should have shave that scruffy goatee off."

"Hey it took me ten years to grow this, I can't help it Merc has a five o'clock shadow by noon." He dropped into the chair at the head of the table and looked at Finnegan. "You look different?your hairs shorter." Finnegan ran her fingers through her hair and smiled at him.

"Yeah, I guess I did have it long years ago. At least that's what all the old pictures of me show."

"You lost that much of your memory?" He held up a hand when he saw her mouth drop open. "I work for the Government, I can access all kinds of files so I know what happened to you and I'm sorry."

"Why are you sorry, I mean you don't have a reason to be?"

"I'm basically a cripple, my legs don't work quite right and I hate to see anyone beaten and have to go through what me and Merc did. We're stronger for it and have become what we are because of it but it wasn't what either of us wanted out of life. I know you have suffered from not being able to remember things and what you went through to get to where you are. I'm sorry because it shouldn't have happened to any of us and because you lost a lot of happy memories because of it." Finnegan nodded her head and gave him a small smile, he was like Merc in some ways but different all the same. Merc was stoic where Timmy was an intellectual person that seemed to see deeply into a persons feelings.

"Thank you and I agree with you, sometimes fate just picks on certain people." She took the transcripts that ma held out to her and opened the folder. "These are the complete transcripts of the entire trial?"

"Yep, I hacked into the courthouse records years ago and downloaded everything. That's every word that was said including the judge yelling at Ferguson's lawyer for brow beating me."

"Can I take this with me to read and then Tracy can bring it back over?"

"You can have it, that's a copy." He looked to his ma and saw her nod her head. "What's not in there is this," He pulled folded papers from his back pocket and handed them to her. "Those are statements from people that Ferguson's parents bought off so that he could get out of what he did," He saw her face pale. "Your names not in there but everyone who was there that night and saw what he and his friends did are."

"How did you get this and if you had it then why didn't the judge do something?"

"Merc got those after Ferguson left for college, by then nothing could be done because the case was dismissed and no one would reopen it."

"Do you have any idea where he is now?" She saw a wide smile come across his face and his eyes crinkle at the edges.

"Ohh yeah, I know where he's at and I do my best to be a giant thorn in his side. Just the other day I cancelled all his credit cards and had his Mercedes repossessed, bet he was pissed when he came out and found his car gone."

"You're an evil little man Timmy," Tracy chuckled and looked to ma. "Remember when he had the Ferguson's house condemned by the health department for roaches and rats."

"Or when the old mans blood tests came back saying that he had bubonic plaque and they quarantined them for a month at the hospital." Finnegan knew her jaw was on the table, she hoped that she never pissed Timmy off, who knows what he would do to her.

"Does Merc hate me for what ever I did back then?" She watched Tracy drop her head and ma take a deep breath.

"I'll put it this way, my daughter can hold a grudge past her dying breath but I think if she gets to know you, then she'll come to see that you had no idea what happened."

"Uuhhmm, I sent Merc a copy of your accident report last night. She wanted to know why you didn't know who she was and that pissed her off. She wanted to know how you couldn't remember after being in the courthouse and testifying."

"I didn't know who she was until last night; I looked in my yearbook and called my ma who was useless."


"Come on Merc, I know you can press more than this."

"Fuck you Jason, I'm warming up." She growled as she pushed the bar up from her chest and let it drop into the holders. "What's wrong with you not being able to lift as much as me?" She sat up from the bench and smacked him in his stomach.

"I ahhh?Hell I don't know." He took her place on the bench and looked to the sides to see how many plates she was adding. "What are you doing?"

"Making a man outta ya, I know you can press this much." She leaned down and looked into his warm brown eyes. "If you haven't noticed, you've had an audience for the last half hour."

"Who?please tell me it's a woman this time." His eyes went wide when she raised an eyebrow. "That's right you weren't here, damn Tom hit on me! I almost dropped a dumb bell on my head, he?grabbed my ass!" He said in a whisper.

"Well I can tell you that this one is not a guy, she's blonde and has green eyes." She looked out of the corner of her eye to see Finnegan on the stationary bike next to Tracy. "I happen to know that she's a teacher at the high school."

"Ohh great and here I am the dumbass jock that slid through school by the skin of my teeth." He took a deep breath, lowered the bar to his chest and exhaled as he pushed it up. It clattered in the holders and shook the rack. "That hurt like a bitch, think my pecs are gonna fall off." He took a quick glance over at Finnegan and looked back at Merc. "Who the Hell beat her up, her face looks like it's a rainbow."

"She was in the wrong place at the wrong time; she looks a Hell of a lot better now than a week ago." She placed two more 25lb. plates on the bar and then lay down on the bench. "Ya know she's single and if you don't act like a huge dorkwad she might go out with you. But the catch is either me or Tracy has to go along."

"You're kidding right," He saw her shake her head and groaned. "That's sick Merc, how can I score with one of you two around?"

"Sorry Jas, she's under our protection." She pushed up on the bar, slowly lowered it to her chest, and then pushed it back up.


"Tracy how much is she pressing over there?" Tracy squinted and counted the plates on the bar.

"Ohh around 310lbs, I've seen her press more than that before."

Finnegan's eyebrows rose up into her damp bangs; she looked to Tracy and back to Merc. "That's like picking up the back end of a car!"

"You should see her do squats; I think her best so far is 610."

"Why would she want to be able to lift that much?"

"To show up the guys, they hate it when she out lifts them. It's a big change from being six feet tall and a hundred pounds soaking wet to how she looks now." She grinned when Finnegan's mouth dropped open; she had been watching her watch Merc since they came in and wondered what team she played on.


"So should I go over and talk to her?" Jason asked and looked over his shoulder at Finnegan.

"Why not, the worst that can happen is you trip and fall on your face before you get over there and make an ass of yourself?"

"Thanks for the ego boost, I told you I tripped over the end of the mat." He shoved her in the shoulder when she shook her head. "You're an ass ya know that?"

"One of the biggest, go talk to her already." She stood up from the bench, stretched her arms up over her head and heard her back pop. She went over to one of the machines, hooked a rope to the pulley cable and dropped the pin down to the bottom of the stack. She took a step back, placed her right foot behind a step and pulled the rope down towards the floor. She took a quick glance to the side and saw Jason approaching Finnegan, she shook her head when she saw him spread his lats out and walk like an ape. "You're an ass Jason, that's not going to impress her."


Finnegan watched Merc work out at the other machine and felt her blood pressure rise when the muscles in Merc's arms and shoulders flexed. She had never seen anything like it before; she continued to watch and leaned to the side when someone got in her line of vision. "Hi I'm Jason; I'm a friend of Merc and Tracy." He put out his hand and looked to Tracy when Finnegan ignored him and leaned to the side. He looked to Tracy and then to what had Finnegan's attention. "Looks like I'm wasting my time here, hey Trace wanna grab a beer some night maybe shoot some pool?"

"Sure if you're buying but you're still not getting my cookies, you have way too many parts to even get near them."

"I had a better chance with Tom, this just ain't right." He dropped down onto one of the bikes and watched Merc. "What's she got that I don't?"

"A great ass and one Hell of a set of pecs."

Finnegan looked to Tracy and blinked her eyes. "Uhh huh." Then went back to watching Merc.


Merc bent over and rested her hands on her knees, she looked to the side and saw a pair of green eyes watching her, she smiled and then went over to the squat rack to finish up with her workout. The entire time, she knew that Finnegan was watching her, it didn't break her concentration, she was used to people watching her work out. What never happened was someone forgetting what they were doing to watch her, she heard Finnegan yelp and cuss at Tracy when she laughed at her. She looked over and saw Finnegan rubbing her shin with one hand and smacking Tracy with the other. "Come on Fin, I'm not that interesting that you let the bike pedal beat you up." She said to herself and then grunted when she stood up with the weight balanced across her shoulders. "I could see if I was good looking but I'm no where near that," She dropped back down and then grunted again as she stood back up. "I'm not even at the bottom of the looks scale, now you're way up there."

"You know it's a sign of insanity to talk to yourself?"

"And you're the expert on that aren't ya Jas, I saw you talking to yourself over there by Finnegan."

"And that's your fault, you sent me over to ask a dyke out."

"I did no such thing," She draped her towel around her neck and used one end to wipe the sweat from her face. "I didn't tell you to talk to Tracy; I said to talk to Finnegan."

"And she was more interested in watching your ass and pecs bounce all over the place."

"That's news to me, are you sure?" She looked from beneath her towel to see green eyes watching her.

"If you flex your muscles, she'll fall right off that bike she's on. Are you that dumb Merc, she's been watching you the whole time not me."

"Guess I am I thought she was interested in the shop teacher." She mumbled and then slapped Jason on his shoulder. "Time for me to head home and get something done before work, see ya later." She walked up to Tracy and Finnegan and gave them both a raised eyebrow and crooked grin. "Don't over due it guys, I'm not carrying either one of you around because your legs hurt." She winked at Tracy and walked away.

"After the workout she just did she's worried about us?" Finnegan groaned and stopped peddling.

"She doesn't get sore: she never stops moving long enough for her body to feel anything."

"God, she's like the Terminator."


It was eight o'clock at night when Merc walked up to Finnegan's door and knocked, she turned and looked out towards the road to make sure that no one was around. She had worked at the barracks for a few hours before coming over to relieve Tracy and still hadn't a clue as to where Mallory was hiding. He may very well be in another state and not a threat to Finnegan but she wasn't taking a chance, she would have Timmy keep an eye on the savings account for any withdrawals. They could catch him that way by having a trace to an ATM. She turned when the door opened and Finnegan stood before her in a half t-shirt and faded blue boxers. "Hey Mac, you're here early."

"I got bored at the barracks so I figured I'd come over and relieve Tracy for the rest of the night."

"You'll have to wake her up; she fell asleep on the couch after supper." She locked the door behind Merc and walked towards where she was working on some schoolwork. She had been surprised to find her backpack and other materials in Tracy's car when they came out of the gym earlier that day. She had all the tests made up and others graded for the next week, she wondered who was taking over her class and when she would be able to go back to work. "Thanks for getting my stuff from school, any idea when I can go back to work?"

"No problem and as far as you and work goes," She shrugged her shoulders. "That decision will come from higher up than me; we still don't know where Mallory is or why he killed the shop teacher." She sat down at the chair next to Finnegan's desk and looked at the thick history book. "We tried contacting next of kin and didn't find any except for a sister in Utah; did he ever tell you about a girlfriend or anything of his personal life that might connect Mallory to him?"

"Mac, John wouldn't have a girlfriend, he was gay and didn't date at all. His job was everything to him and the kids he taught; the most he did as far as going out was to Burger King for lunch."

"Was his preference known by the staff or kids?"

"Not that I'm aware, I think I'm the only one he told. To see him, you would have never known he was gay. You remind me of him a little." She said and then blushed. "Not that you remind me of a man or anything, it's how you carry yourself." Merc nodded her head.

"His funeral is tomorrow, I can take you if you want to go?" Finnegan looked to her desktop and nodded her head.

"I'd like that, I was his only friend at school and since he only has a sister?"

"I'm sure people will show up to pay their respects." She looked over to Tracy and threw a pencil at her. "We'll be there so don't worry about anything and no Smokey's so we won't stick out like a thumb." Finnegan gave her a rakish grin and wiggled her brows.

"Don't know about that, I kinda like the trooper look."


Finnegan rolled over in bed and caught a shadow outside her window; she went up on one elbow and rubbed her eyes before looking again. What she saw made her blood run cold, she fell from her bed and half crawled and stubbled to the living room. She crawled over the back of the couch to land on top of Merc. "Mac wake up! There's someone at my window!" She shook her shoulder and felt herself rolled over and covered by Merc's larger body.

"Get on the floor and stay there, don't move no matter what." She said in a hoarse whisper. "I'll be right back, don't move." She slipped to the floor, crawled to where her gun belt was and pulled her Glock from its holster. With one last look to where Finnegan was laying on the floor by the couch, she made for the front door at a crouch. Unlocking the door, she slipped out and went towards the side of the house. Moving low, she stopped at the corner and peeked around. Running back to the front of the small house, she saw taillights in the distance and heard tires peeling. Cussing under her breath, she went back into the house and turned the living room light on. Grabbing her phone, she called the barracks and told them to get someone out to Finnegan's to look for Mallory's car. After hanging up, she dropped down onto the couch next to her and ran a hand through her hair. "Did you get a good look at who ever was in your window?"

"Ohh yeah, that's a face I will never forget." She shivered and rubbed her arms of goose flesh. "Do you think it was him?" She looked to Merc with terrified eyes and grabbed her forearm. "He came to kill me didn't he?" Merc pulled her into her body and held her tight.

"I won't let him get to you and neither will Tracy, we can't stay here. If my cruiser in the driveway didn't scare him then nothing will."

"You want me to go to that farmhouse?I don't wanna be in some safe house, everyone knows they're not safe!"

"No one knows that it belongs to the state, you'll be safe there."

"The Hell I will," She pulled out of Merc's arms, got up and paced the floor in front of her. "Everyone knows about that farmhouse on Job Corps road, that's where the kids go to party!"

"Ohh shit, so that's why the place is always messed up, we thought it was vandals." She dropped her head into her hands and tried to think of where they could go that no one would find them. She picked up her phone and called her cousins house, she had an idea but would need his help.

"Mac, what am I gonna do?" She dropped back down onto the couch and held onto her friends arm.

"Gimme a minute, I've an idea but I have to ask my Major first." She waited for Junior to answer the phone, after a few minutes she hung up and pulled Finnegan back into her arms. "Tomorrow morning you pack up what you'll need, after the funeral we're going to stop by my place and then go up to my cousin's chalet."

"Hold on there Mac, you expect me to stay in a chalet with you?"

"What's the difference, I stay here with you at night and Tracy's here during the day?"

"Yeah but this is my house, I call the shots here." Merc chuckled, she never thought of Finnegan as being a control freak.

"If that's all it is, then you can call the shots up at the chalet. I can't let you stay here, the farmhouse is a big no now and my trailer sucks." Finnegan leaned back and looked at Merc with a cocked eyebrow.

"You live in a trailer as in trailer park and lunatics for neighbors?"

"I was there first, the lunatics moved in afterwards. Ya think they would learn to stay away from me after being arrested a couple of times." She stood up and went into Finnegan's bedroom; she dropped the shades on the windows and looked around. A grin came to her face when she saw that the bed sheets were a pale blue with white fluffy clouds on them and the comforter at the foot of the bed matched. Other than that, the only thing in there was a blonde dresser and a nightstand with an alarm clock and lamp. "Alright Fin, you can come back and go to sleep." She yelled out and walked back into the living room. "He won't be back tonight and I pulled your shades down."

"Ohh noooo, I am not sleeping in there. You sleep in there and I'll sleep out here on the couch."


"Mac, I always get my way. If you want the couch you'll have to move my cold stiff body to get it!"

"It's two o'clock in the morning and I'm too tired to fight you for the couch. If you hear any tiny little sound you come wake me up." She went back in to Finnegan's bedroom and crawled into her bed, she rolled onto her side and pulled the pillow long ways under her head and slipped her arm under it. Taking a deep breath, she inhaled Finnegan's soft scent and drifted off to sleep.


Finnegan lay down on the couch, crossed her arms over her chest and lay looking up at the ceiling. It was as if her hearing became super sensitive, she swore she could hear the crickets outside walking across blades of grass. She flinched when a low squeak came from her old house and jumped when the water heater came on; she pulled Merc's pillow over her face and tried to ignore everything. "Son of a bitch!" She got off the couch and went into her bedroom; she looked down at a sleeping Merc and crawled onto the bed to lie beside her. "Afraid of my own shadow and now I'm in bed with Merc; if she rolls over on me I'm dead." She fought with her pillow until she had it the way she liked, took a deep calming breath and drifted off to sleep to the sound of Merc's deep breathing.


Merc raised her head a little and looked down into the face pressed into her shoulder; she brushed tousled blonde hair back and let her eyes play over the slack features. Small white scars marred the smooth skin around her right eye and cheek, Finnegan groaned and rolled off Merc. She used one hand and moved the thick muscular arm to her liking before settling down. Merc grinned and brushed her hair back from the bruised cheek and over her ear. She then saw the ugly pink scare above her ear where they had cut her open to place the steel plate. Upon more observation, she found other scars at the hairline near her temple and in front of her ear. "What are you doing Mac, looking for bugs?"

"Nope, but I did find some grey hairs."

"I don't have grey hair, they're?highlights." She rolled over, looked into pale blue eyes, and groaned. "You know, sleeping on your arm is like sleeping on a rock."

"Sure they are they look pretty grey ta me and you looked pretty comfortable sleeping on my arm, chest, shoulder etc. When did you sneak in here anyway?"

"I didn't sneak; my senses went on hyper drive and every little noise had me jumping. I figured that if something was gonna get me, then it could get you first and I'd have a chance to run like Hell." Merc smiled and shook her head.

"Ohh I see, throw the big person ta the monster." She rolled from the bed, stretched her arms over her head and groaned from her stiff muscles. "What's for breakfast or do we get dressed and go out to eat?"

"That all depends on what time the funeral is and the fact that all you have here is your green trooper uniform and what you're wearing now?" She took in the tight t-shirt and form fitting boxers. "If you go like that, they'll have to dig more graves."

"Whys that?" She asked from the doorway.

"Two words, men and heart attacks," She got out of bed and went to her closet. "Basic black or grey?"

"Grey, black is my color. We'll go out to eat after I call Tracy and stop by my trailer. I'll have her come pick us up and arrange for someone to get my cruiser."

"And how are we getting to the cabin, we're not gonna be stranded out there are we?"

"No, we'll have transportation, just not a cruiser. I don't wanna draw attention to us being out there."


They pulled up in front of Merc's trailer; Finnegan looked at it and then looked to her friends. "It doesn't really look like a trailer, at least not like the other ones that are here."

"That's because I remodeled it a few years ago, I yanked out all the old windows, the door and put the rough-saw siding up." She got out of the cruiser and waited for Finnegan and Tracy up on her deck. "I did all the brick work this past spring under the careful observation of the smuck next door." She spun her head and pointed at the pervert. "You better go hide before I haul your ass back to jail!" She opened her door and went in, flipping the ceiling fan on, she headed to her bedroom to get clothes packed. Finnegan walked in and looked around, she wasn't expecting the living room walls to be covered in a light pine or for the furniture to all be handmade. She looked to the kitchen and smiled at the ceramic canisters, they were black and white cows.

"You did all this by yourself?"

"Nope, I helped her on our days off. I supervised and drank beer while she cut the boards." Tracy said and pulled open the refrigerator. "When's ma gonna buy something edible?"

"When you get off your lazy ass and go with her that's when." Merc dropped her duffle bag and suit bag on the table and pulled the can of Coke from Tracy's hand. "Do you have all that you need for up there?"

"Yep, including a couple pounds of chocolate covered pretzels; can't leave home without 'em." She pulled two more Cokes out and handed one to Finnegan. "Ya know Fin, where we're going it's in the boondocks." Finnegan looked to Merc with a raised eyebrow.

"You're taking me to bum fuck Egypt and what exactly am I supposed to do out there?"

"Fish, read, relax, catch some sun."

"Get bitten by giant bugs that steal small children for snacks, shoot a bazooka at the huge spiders that weave a web over your car during the night. Ya know the usual stuff that ya do out in the country." Tracy said with a wide grin on her face.

"Mac, I hate spiders!" Finnegan stepped up to her and poked her in the chest. "I really hate spiders!"

"Thanks Tracy, you just had to mention bugs." She threw a finger out at the friend and growled. "You get bug duty the first night and that tiny bed in the bedroom."

Tracy groaned, grabbed Merc's bags and headed towards the door. "Fine with me," she grinned and looked over her shoulder. "That means Fin gets the pullout bed and you get the floor!"

"Don't think so." Merc mumbled loud enough for Finnegan to hear.

"Pretty sure of yourself aren't you." Fin said and followed Tracy.

"Yep, ain't anyone big enough to make me sleep on the floor." She went out the door and locked up her trailer before going down to Tracy's cruiser.

"OK guys, where are you going to change clothes?" Finnegan asked and looked at her two friends still dressed in their workout clothes. Merc looked to Tracy and grinned evilly.

"In the parking lot."


After stopping off at the barracks to check in for any new information on the case, Merc and Tracy took Finnegan to the locker room so that they could change into clothes that were more appropriate. Finnegan couldn't help but watch Merc change into her black suit, she felt her blood rush southward when Merc's t-shirt hit the floor and her back muscles rippled with each movement. What caught her attention was the white scar that started at her right shoulder and ended over her left hip, she remembered from reading the report that Timmy had given her, that the scars were from when she was attacked. She still couldn't remember anything from that night but she was having very strange dreams of herself when she was younger. She wondered if reading the report and the other stuff had triggered them. She almost fell from the bench she was sitting on when Merc slipped out of her shorts and boxers to stand before her completely naked. Her breath caught and her jaw dropped open.

"Well that's a very becoming look, but the drool will kill the professional look ya got going on there."

"Huh?" Green eyes widened when Merc stepped closer.

"Will you hand me my bag?"

"Why?" Merc planted her hands on her hips and tilted her head to the side.

"OK I can go like this but I don't think anyone would appreciate it."

Tracy rolled her eyes at Finnegan and grabbed Merc's bag for her. "Not to mention the ER staff would kill you for filling up their beds with troopers and the people from the funeral. Geez ya act like you've never seen a naked woman before."

"Ahhh?seeing myself doesn't count." Two sets of eyes zeroed in on her and then rolled.


They arrived at the funeral home and walked into the chapel where the shop teacher was for viewing. Finnegan was between her two friends with Merc taking up the rear, she looked back to see the stoic expression back on the tall troopers face and had to smile. She knew that Tracy looked the same way even though she couldn't see her face, it was the other people jumping out of her way that told her. She stopped and held out a hand to the principal and then one of the other teachers.

"Miss Draper, I didn't know if you would be here today." The principal said in a whisper. "I'm glad that you could come, Edward will be missed. When will you be back to school, the kids miss you?"

"Yes sir he will, not only by us but all the kids as well. I'm not sure about when, the police want to make sure that there's no longer a threat to my life." She looked up to Merc when she felt her arm taken and nodded her head to the principal. "It looks like they are ready to begin the service." She let Merc lead her to a pew that was empty and sat down beside Tracy; she looked to the side to see Merc checking out the crowd of people and felt a little afraid. "Do you think he'll come here?"

"No, too many people here. He can't take the chance of having a cop spot him." They sat through the service and then followed the group of cars to the cemetery a few miles away. They had picked up Tracy's car at the barracks so they would blend in and realized that a modified metallic blue GTO didn't fit in at all.

"Anyone touches my car and I'll kill 'em." She growled when they got out after parking near the rear of the lot. "When are you gonna buy a car Merc, we always take mine?"

"When pigs fly and people learn how to open their doors and not beat the hell outta the car next to them." Finnegan grabbed Merc's hand and stopped her.

"All you drive is your cruiser?"

"No, I have other transportation. That's what we'll take to the chalet." They stopped towards the back of the crowd surrounding the grave; Finnegan caught eyes with the principal and gave a slight nod to her head before moving her attention back to the minister at the grave. The principal watched the three women for a few minutes before looking around at all his teachers and students who had come to pay their respects and then walked a short distance away to a shady spot beneath a tree.


"Why the Hell did ya put my money in a savings account, I can't take it out without the cops knowing about it!?"

"Where was I supposed to put it, in your filthy mattress? And how would the cops know if you took it out?"

"Because you stupid ass, they're cops at the bank everyday just waitin fer me ta show up!"

"You finish the job and I'll give you the other half in person and then wire what's in your account anywhere you want it. Now kill that damn bitch Draper!"

"How am I supposed ta do that, she's under police guard 24 hours a day?"

"You figure it out; you are the one who kills cops for fun!" The phone went dead in Mallory's hand; he slammed it back down on the hook and looked across the street to the funeral procession.

"I only kill certain cops you ass wipe mother fucker, never killed no women before either." He jogged to a car that he had stolen from the Martinsburg mall and jumped behind the wheel. "I may be a killer but I don't kill women, you can keep your damn money I'm outta this shit! Don't know why ya wanted that teacher killed or Draper." He peeled away from the curb and headed to the nearest ATM machine, he figured that he could take out enough money to get him away from West Virginia and then have one of his brothers get the rest for him once he was safe.


Merc took Finnegan's hand and leaned down close to her ear. "Let's get out of here, I have an uneasy feeling." She whispered and then clicked her tongue at Tracy; she slowly stepped back and then turned while still holding onto Finnegan's hand. On the way back to Tracy's car, she kept looking both ways and kept Finnegan close to her side. Once to the GTO, she pushed Finnegan in first and then climbed in beside her while Tracy jogged around and got behind the wheel. "Take us to ma's house and then take about an hour before you head towards the chalet."

Tracy nodded her head and fired up her car, she took off out of the parking lot slowly so that it seemed as if they were in no hurry. "He was there wasn't he?" She asked Merc and kept an eye on the parked cars.

"I'm not sure but I had that gut feeling I get when something's not right. Once we're up there, I want a patrol on her house and no contact with the barracks."

"Hold on here a minute," Finnegan threw her hand up in front of Merc and turned in the seat to look at her. "What are you doing here with my life, no contact with the barracks?"

"Nope, the only one I want to know where we are is Junior. I can keep in contact with Timmy and ma by the Internet."

"Ohh well that's secure?"

"With her and Timmy it is, he's the best there is when it comes to encrypting programs and sneaking through back doors."

"Just great, I'm teamed with Trooper T, Yosemite Sam and a tech head." She turned and sunk down into the seat but made sure she elbowed Merc in her ribs.


Finnegan came out of the bathroom at ma's house and looked around the living room, when she went in; everyone was there, now she was alone. "Just great, they left me." She walked through the house and then heard a loud rumbling and ma yelling at Merc to knock it off. She headed to the back door and stopped once she was out on the back porch; she looked towards the garage and moaned. "She's insane, there's no way in Hell I'm getting on that!" She said to herself on her way down the steps.

"Why does that thing have to be so loud?" Ma yelled and slapped Merc in her shoulder. "Turn that damn thing off before I go deaf!"

"Come on ma, ya know she pulled the baffles out because it's a cycle dyke thing ta do." Timmy ducked the hand that came towards his head and stepped behind Tracy. "Ain't that right my queen?"

"You wanna be a queen; I can do that in one quick move?" She flipped open a straight razor and wiggled it in front of him. "Better yet, let me get rid of that nasty goatee."

"Ohh please, get rough with me. Ma still has the paddle she used on us when we were kids."

"Maybe she should still be using it on you?" She said and slapped his hand off her ass.

"Nah, Merc uses it on her dates, she picks up those S&M women in DC." Merc gave him a sneer and a growl.

"Do not, that's your thing." She looked over her mother's shoulder and saw murderous green eyes watching her. "Ohh shit, dykes outta the closet now, thanks Timmy." She got off her motorcycle and approached Finnegan slowly. "Are you ready to go, Tracy's gonna take our bags with her?"

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"I didn't think me being gay mattered." She backed up when Finnegan started jabbing her in her stomach.

"We'll talk about that later, I meant the motorcycle. I don't like them and they're dangerous!"

"Have you ever been on one?" She flinched when Finnegan hit a tender area. "Oww that hurt!"

"Good and no, I've seen enough crashes on those police chase things on TV. I don't wanna be a road pizza!" Merc continued to back up until she had no place to go and was up against the garage.

"I've never wrecked?ooowwww?I'm a good driver! Fin that hurts!" She tried to fend off the fingers that kept jabbing her.

"I thought you were the Terminator, ya know indestructible and everything, no pain because of the suit of armor you wear?"

"It's at the cleaners?ma help me!" She squirmed and got away from Fin to hide behind her ma.

"Why should I help you, I've been complaining for years about you and motorcycles?"

"But I'm a careful driver and I've never wrecked or hit anything." She whined and gave everyone a puppy dog look, Timmy and Tracy rolled their eyes and walked away leaving the others to stare at Merc. "Ohh come on Fin, give me a chance here." Finnegan planted her hands on her hips and raised her half-missing eyebrow. "Ohh please don't give me that look, it's just too weird."

"If we wreck and become road pizzas, I will haunt your ghost for all eternity!" Merc let out a deep breath and thanked the Gods that she had won the small battle.

"OK it's a deal, if we don't wreck, I'm gonna pester you every waking second of the day with I told you so's."


Merc tried to pull her head down to bury it in her shoulders, even with the loud mufflers, she could still hear Finnegan screaming at her and her head was hurting from the hand pounding on top of her helmet. "DAMN YOU MAC SLOW DOWN!"

"I'm going a whole 30mph here Fin!" She yelled back, stopped at the red light and turned her head. "Stop hitting me and hold on with both arms." Finnegan leaned forward so that their shields touched.

"Then I can't pound on your head!"

"That's the point you little twerp!" She turned her head back, waited for the pounding to start up, and sighed when Finnegan behaved herself, or so she thought. As soon as she got over 30mph, the pounding and screaming started up again.

"I'm NOT a twerp you overgrown muscle headed geek!" She quickly wrapped both arms around Merc when they got out of town and were on the open road. With sitting on the bitch pad, it brought her up higher behind Merc. She realized too late where her arms were, the weight of Merc's breasts rested on her forearms and brought a blush to her face. She knew if she moved her arms, she would give away her uneasiness so she left them where they were. She squeezed Merc tighter and pressed her chest against a wide back when they went into their first turn, when they came out of it, she released the breath she didn't know she was holding. As they eased out on the road, Finnegan relaxed against Merc and began to enjoy the wind that whipped against them. Her senses wheeled when she noticed how everything smelled so different, she could smell pine, floral scents and the fresh air. She never noticed that while driving her car or out walking around, and the freedom that she was feeling was unimaginable. She was seeing the draw that so many had to motorcycles and soon lost her fright.

When the bike slowed, she looked over Merc's shoulder to see a large wooden sign with the words 'Hidden River' scrawled across it in gold letters, she had heard about the place but never had a reason to check it out. She grunted when the road turned into nothing but scarce gravel and numerous pot holes, with each bump, her legs slid against Merc's and sent shock waves to southern areas. "Ohh what the Hell Fin, that's twice today you've thought of her in a sexual way." When Merc pulled up to a chalet, Fin blinked her eyes and then released her from the death grip. This was not what she was expecting at all and would make Merc and Tracy pay later. She held onto Merc's shoulders, swung her leg over the seat and then grabbed onto a thick forearm when her legs threatened to give out.

"You OK, it takes a while to get used to straddling something," She wiggled her brows suggestively. "With this much power to it." Finnegan pulled her helmet off and placed it on one of the mirrors, ran her finger's through her hair and turned to give Merc a narrowed look.

"Let's not get into straddling things, you scared the shit outta me a couple times." She pointed to the motorcycle and then to a grinning Merc. "You could have warned me about turns and that lousy excuse for a road."

"I forget that not everyone's been on a bike and I thought that they would have filled in the holes since I threatened their lives the last time I was here." She shrugged her shoulders and placed her helmet on the other mirror. She grinned evilly and lowered her head so that they were nose to nose. "Ready for this, I told ya so!" She straightened up and headed for the side of the chalet where a pair of steps led up to a solid wooden door.

"Hey wait, what kinda bike is this?" She yelled and jogged after Merc.

"It's a Honda Shadow 1100 ACE; I got it cheap at the police auction. I had a smaller bike but it just couldn't carry my weight." She shrugged her shoulders and opened the door.

"I've seen 400lb guys on bikes smaller than yours." She slapped Merc in her stomach and pushed passed her.

"OK so I looked like I was riding a mini bike and they don't count 'cuz they were probably five feet tall and about as round." The first place she stopped was the refrigerator; she searched around and pulled out a package of lunchmeat and a loaf of bread. "Hope Tracy gets here soon, I'm hungry." Finnegan turned from where she was standing in the living room and felt her jaw drop open.

"But you ate half a cow at ma's house, how can you be hungry?" She rolled her eyes when Merc flexed a bicep and kissed it.

"Gotta feed the python's baby." She made four sandwiches with everything she could find in the refrigerator and placed the plate on the table along with a can of Coke and a gallon of milk. "Come on Fin have a sandwich and I'll give ya the nickel tour when we're done."

"The way you wolf food down that should be three whole seconds," She sat down, took one of the sandwiches, and opened the Coke. "So how are you going to work out while we're up here?" Merc swallowed and pointed to the floor.

"Room down stairs, it's Junior's sons weight room. He's at college playing football for Morgantown, so it's all mine."

"So Junior is your cousin?" She looked up to catch blue eyes for a second and then went back to eating.

"Yep, he's five years older than me and Timmy. This was his house before he got married, we all use it though, that is while Glens at college." A few minutes later, Merc showed Finnegan the chalet. From the outside view, no one could tell that it had three floors. The upper floor was a loft that over hung the living room; it had its own bathroom and large bay window that looked out across the small lake in the backyard. The living room floor was hardwood with woven throw rugs in front of double sliding glass doors and couch. Finnegan ran her fingers across the pinewood intersected vertically by textured plaster; she looked to Merc and nodded her head to the walls.

"I like this, how do ya think it would look in my living room?" Merc tilted her head to the side and closed one eye.

"Maybe if it was done horizontally, it would make the place look larger. And maybe wood a lighter shade and varnished to a medium gloss?"

"You sound like a shop teacher," She took in the rest of the living room and smiled. "On the wall above the fireplace was a group picture of Merc's family including her cousins. "You're all tall except your ma and Timmy," She looked to see Merc looking at the picture. "I'd hate to see you're family reunion or try to feed all of them."

"Yeah it looks like a gladiator invasion; you should see the football games we have." She took Finnegan's hand and led her out the sliding glass doors, down the deck stairs and out to the lake. "After the game, we come down here to swim and fish." She walked out onto the small dock and stopped at the edge. "Junior has the place stocked every couple years, there's huge bass in here and one giant sized catfish that no one has ever caught."

"Then how do you know it's in there?" Finnegan asked and leaned over to look down into the water. "It could have died or something."

"Nope, we hook it and it snaps our line every single time." She lifted a lid on a metal box, pulled out a loaf of stale bread and tossed some of it out to the mallards floating around on the lake. "There's a big snapping turtle in here to, I picked it up off the road years ago and released it here." Finnegan smiled and took some of the bread from Merc's hand.

"I thought I was the only one who saved turtles from being squished, I let 'em go in my backyard. It looks like a box turtle sanctuary at times, they all come out after I've cut the grass or it rains." She walked closer to the edge of the dock and pointed. "Hey Mac what's that down there?" She took a step back and waited for Merc to bend over, as soon as she was leaning forward, Finnegan gave her a shove and watched her go head first into the lake. She stepped back further, waited for her to surface and then gave her a huge smile. "Paybacks for scaring me." She saw blue eyes go pale and then even white teeth show from beneath a snarling lip, turning, she high tailed it to the chalet with a dripping Merc right on her heels. She took off towards the front, saw Tracy coming and knew she was safe. Or so she thought until she saw the grass coming up towards her and felt cold water soak into her back.

"You rotten little twerp, I can't believe you did that!" Merc said close to her ear and then shook her wet hair all over Finnegan. "I oughta carry you over there and toss you in!"

"You wouldn't?" She was cut off when Merc lifted her up and carried her struggling body down to the lake; she tried to hold on but realized that it was useless when Merc jumped out into the lake. They sputtered to the surface and splashed each other until they saw Tracy sitting on the dock watching.

"Just wait until something grabs one of ya, I ain't helping, I'm gonna sit here and laugh my ass off." Her eyes widened when Finnegan swam towards her, she got up and ran to the chalet.

"Chicken shit trooper," Finnegan mumbled and then pulled herself up on the dock, she looked to Merc and felt her face heat up. Right in front of her were hardened nipples straining against a threadbare t-shirt. She struggled and looked up into pale blue eyes with a dark brow arched over the left eye. "Uhhmm?guess we better go change?" She fell back on the dock when Merc pulled her shirt over her head and wrung it out. "Geez Mac, why not just strip and give all the neighbors heart attacks!"

"Would serve them right for peeping," She dropped her shirt on Finnegan's head and walked past her. "Come on Fin before I have to save you from a beaver or something." She got up, jogged after her friend, and stumbled from the sight of her broad back.

"I'm not helpless ya know, I even know how to shoot a gun." That made Merc stop and turn to face her.

"You can shoot a gun; I never expected that from someone with your background?"

"What's my background got to do with rabbit hunting and what exactly do you know about my background?"

"Just what I remember from school, you hung out with the 'in' crowd. They took me as the type to march against persons owning guns or hunting." She shrugged her shoulders and turned only to find her upper arm taken in strong fingers.

"Yeah well you don't know shit about me or my background!" Finnegan shoved her and then walked past her back up to the chalet. Merc dropped her head and clenched her fists in aggravation.

"Damn it all to Hell and back," She tilted her head back and looked to the sky. "Open mouth insert both feet and choke you dumbass tunnel rat."


Tracy looked up from where she was putting groceries away and saw Finnegan rush past her and up the stairs to the loft, next came Merc with a hound dog look. She grabbed a bottle of water and went into the basement without a word. "OK, what the fuck?" She said and went around the counter and looked up in the loft. "Fin what the fucks going on?"

"Go ask the know it all asshole First Sergeant!" She flung her wet clothes into the bathroom and then grabbed dry ones before disappearing through the door. "Damn people think they know everything!" She slammed the door cutting off any further questions. Turning on the shower, she waited for it to warm up. Looking in the mirror at her somewhat bruised face, she touched the cheek that was broken and was relieved not to feel any pain. Turning the left side of her face to the mirror, she looked at all the new scars she had and sighed. "You get uglier every time you look in the mirror, few more scars and you'll look like a road map for all of West Virginia."


Tracy went down the steps to the basement and stopped halfway down, she watched Merc pound the Hell out of the heavy bag hanging from the ceiling and decided to just take a seat and watch. It didn't have to be a big problem to send Merc off to pound the shit out of a heavy bag, her temper had grown with age and was a dangerous thing to bring to life. The jarring punches had the rafters shaking and dust raining down on their heads, Tracy flinched when Merc hit the bag and a seam ripped. She was thankful that she had never felt one of her friends punches like some of the other troopers had. They learned quickly to never get in the boxing ring with Merc, even if it was just to spar. She was deadly and took no mercy on anyone brave enough to step in the ring. For over an hour, Tracy sat there watching until Merc sunk to the floor panting. "So what happened out there after I left?"

"Nothing that I haven't done a thousand times in my head," Merc continued to sit on her knees without looking up at her friend. "I opened my mouth about the 'in' crowd and pissed Fin off, maybe I should just go home and you can guard her."

"Ohh that would really help now wouldn't it?" She came down the stairs to sit cross-legged in front of her. "Go talk to her and straighten this out, running away is not gonna help any of us and just maybe you can let go of the past and help Fin remember hers."

"What am I supposed to tell her that she was an uppity bitch that looked at us lower class students like we were mold on rocks or that she stuck with the assholes and refused to let justice punish the guilty?" Tracy sighed heavily and thought for a second before speaking.

"Maybe she didn't really know anything of what happened or maybe that asshole and his friends threatened her if she told what she did know?"

"All she had to do was tell what she did know on the stand and once they were put away she would have been safe, we never had the satisfaction of seeing justice prevail. You have no idea how that feels, 20 years later and I still hate those people!"

"Well that puts you two in the same boat now doesn't it, she never saw justice for her attack all those years ago and now she's been attacked again. This time we'll get the guy and make sure that all those people he has hurt can have closure." She squeezed Merc's shoulder and went back upstairs to make herself a snack and check on Finnegan, she didn't know if her little talk helped, but she hoped it did something. She looked up towards the loft but didn't see Finnegan, her heart pounded at the thought of her taking off and disappearing. She was about to yell for Merc when she saw a blonde head clearing the deck rail, she walked through the sliding glass doors and watched as Finnegan sat down on the lakes bank. "That's all I would need." She mumbled and went back into the kitchen.


Merc fell onto her back, looked to the ceiling and covered her sweat soaked face with her bruised and swollen hands. She knew that what Tracy had said was right and that she should talk to Finnegan but at this moment, she hadn't the energy to fight with her. And fight is exactly what Finnegan would do if she went near her before she cooled off, she didn't know how but she knew that the small woman had a temper equal to her own. Rolling to her feet, she went to the door that would let her out into the back yard and stopped when she saw Finnegan sitting down by the lake. Turning around, she went up the steps and stopped in the kitchen to get a bottle of water. "How long has she been out there?"

"Not that long, she was walking out there when I came upstairs." Tracy handed her a turkey sandwich and leaned back in her chair. "Are you gonna talk to her or let this stew until you both explode and blow this place off the map?"

"I'll wait a while, we both need to calm down first and I need to get my thoughts in order or I'll end up with my feet in my mouth." She left the kitchen to get clean clothes from her duffle bag and then went upstairs to use the shower; she looked down at her hands and groaned. She would be lucky to be able to move her fingers in the morning and knew it was her own damn fault. "You're an asshole Merc and you deserve the pain."


It was past dark when Finnegan walked back up to the chalet; she had sat and thought of what she had said to Merc and what she remembered from when she was in school. She had some memories but not a whole lot. They were like flashes more than anything and when she had returned home after her attack, she had seen the stuff in her bedroom. She knew by the clothes she had left there that she had worn what was in style at the time. Merc would only know by what she saw and assumed that she was upper class. She would have no idea about how Finnegan lived or that her dad was a blue-collar worker that only made a little over minimum wage. The more she thought about it the more she realized that she had lived a lie. She went up the steps and stopped in the living room before the pullout bed, there laid Merc in boxers and a half t-shirt. She looked up to the loft and could see Tracy's outline in bed by the soft glow of the bathroom light. Rubbing her hands over her face, she went over to the chair that sat diagonal to the pullout and sat down. For long moments, she watched Merc sleep and finally gave in. It was either sleep on the hard floor, the chair or swallow her pride and get into the large bed with Merc. Kicking off her shoes and shedding her Levis, she crawled in beside the tall woman and lay back to back with her. Looking out the window in front of her, she watched clouds pass over the moon and felt her eyes drifting closed.


Tracy came down the stairs and looked over the back of the couch; a small smile came to her face from what she saw. Merc had her head resting on Finnegan's stomach, her leg over a shin and one arm wrapped around Finnegan's waist. She knew that they hadn't talked because Merc had fallen asleep before she had gone up to bed and Finnegan hadn't come inside yet. She looked to the kitchen and then grabbed her car keys; she would run to the small store at the small shopping center down the road, pick up some pastries and maybe give them enough time to talk. She hoped they didn't take too long to iron out their assumptions so that they could relax while they were hiding. She also had to contact Timmy for information and knew he would ask how everything was going; there was no way that she was going to tell him that WWIII was close to happening at the chalet.


At the sound of Tracy's car rumbling from the chalet, green eyes opened and blinked a few times. She tried to stretch and found her one arm pinned to the bed beneath a heavy weight, she looked down and dropped her head back into her pillow when she saw Merc's dark head on her stomach. Wiggling her arm free, she shook the numbness from her hand and then ran it through the silky dark hair. "If you only knew the truth about me back then maybe things would be easier between us?"

"Then why don't you tell me?" Merc said in a hoarse voice and tilted her head from where it rested.

"Because I know you won't believe me, you already have this picture imbedded in your head as to how things were and they're not all true." She eased up against the back of the couch when Merc moved off her and looked to the side to look into bloodshot blue eyes. "My parents weren't and aren't rich, my dad worked for a heating and air conditioning company and mom stayed home." She turned to her side and played with the pillowcase. "What everyone saw and what I was are two different things?I'm poor white trash Merc." She wiped at her eyes and looked to the bed sheets. "All my clothes were hand me downs and the only reason those kids let me hang around was because of my looks and brains." She looked up with tear-filled eyes and felt her tears run down her cheeks. "I don't remember what happened that night but if I had known something I would have said so in the trial."

"How can you be so sure that you didn't know what happened?"

"Because I would never lie to protect people like the ones I hung around with. After I was attacked and scared, they wouldn't have anything to do with me." She wiped her face and gave Merc a small smile. "They said that I wasn't the same and that they didn't want to be seen with scar face." Merc groaned and closed her eyes; she knew all to well how it felt like to be called that. She reached out, pulled Finnegan into her body, and rested her face against her crown.

"I'm sorry Fin; they were cruel as kids and grew up to be cruel adults. Scars don't matter to me; it's what's inside a person." She pulled Finnegan closer to her and rubbed her back. "I still have people staring at me after all these years, I ignore it but at times it still bothers me. Did all of you end up at the same college, you know with the asshole?"

"No, not all of us ended up at Penn State. I went there because that's where my scholarship came from; the others went because that's where their boyfriends were going." Merc pulled back and wiped Finnegan's tears away with her fingertips.

"Wait a minute, you were attacked in Virginia and didn't graduate from Penn State, you graduated from Morgantown."

"After the attack, I went back to campus with the people I went down with. I went to the campus counselor shortly after and they got my scholarship transferred to Morgantown. I didn't feel safe anywhere at Penn State, especially when they couldn't catch who ever attacked me in Virginia."

"So you think it was someone you went down there with?" Fin nodded her head.

"From what I was told, I left the party at the hotel and went down to the parking lot to look for Davis, that's all anyone knew."

"And where was the asshole during your attack?" Merc had an idea but she was holding her tongue.

"He said that he was down the hall from where everyone else was and nowhere near the parking lot. Everyone at that hotel was from either here or Penn State, so you tell me."

"Do you really want me to tell you what I have thought since I read the report?"

"I know what you're thinking and it's the same as what I think, Davis is the one who attacked me. I couldn't prove it back then just like I can't prove it to this day."

"Someone has to know Fin, with that many people running in and out of hotel rooms; someone had to have seen something."

"Most likely but it doesn't matter anymore," She rolled from the bed and headed towards the bathroom. "Statute of limitations would only work if I was dead." Merc shivered with that thought, she was glad that Finnegan had survived her attack. She may have hated her when they were kids but that was then, now she was feeling something totally in the opposite direction. With the sound of the toilet flushing and the door opening, she looked over the back of the couch and watched Finnegan move around the kitchen. Her eyes zeroed in on the blue French cut bikini panties that showed off muscular legs and felt her mouth go dry. She fell back on the bed and closed her eyes when Finnegan came back over, she knew that if she saw her eyes she see her excitement. "You can't go there Merc, she's under your protection and it's against the rules."

"You want coffee and some breakfast?" Finnegan asked as she sat down on the edge of the bed. "I'll make western omelets, hash browns and I know that Tracy brought bagels."

"You'll cook for us?" She opened one eye and watched Finnegan nod her head. "Ya know how much we can eat right?"

"We have six dozen of eggs, how many should I use for you and Tracy?"

"Just six each for us, it has a lot of nasty stuff that ain't good for ya. Ya know cholesterol and all kinds of other fats and stuff." She rolled to her side and gave Finnegan raised eyebrows. "Can ya make the bacon crispy, I hate wiggly bacon."

"Ohh so ya like all the sodium right to the top?" She grinned and nodded her head. "I don't like raw bacon either." She ran her fingers through Merc's hair to brush it off her face, smiled and went back into the kitchen to make their breakfast. Merc was floored, she had no idea why Finnegan had touched her as she did but her face was still tingling where her fingers had briefly touched. She leaned up over the back of the couch again and watched her get the frying pans down from the cabinet and other stuff. When the door opened, she saw Tracy put a box on the table and knew she had run to the store for pastries. She rolled from the bed and gave her a bright smile when she held up a Bavarian crème filled donut.

"I got the last dozen of these, I almost had to shoot some old lady ta get 'em." Merc took a bite and then held it out for Finnegan; Tracy raised an eyebrow at her and then grinned. She had hoped that they had ironed everything out between them while she was gone. She then noticed that Finnegan was in her underwear and couldn't help but look at her legs, until Merc stepped in front of her and growled. "What, I didn't do anything?"

"You didn't huh," She leaned down and went nose to nose with her. "Come downstairs, I need a spotter for my bench presses."

"I'll yell when breakfast is done and be careful with your hands Mac, they look awful sore and stiff." She watched them go down the steps and couldn't help but shiver from the sight of Merc's ass flexing under her boxers. "Ohh will mom and dad go off the deep end with this, never thought of being with a woman before. That is until I saw Mac and all her muscles." She shook her head with the revelation and tried to concentrate on cooking and not the flexing pecs in the basement.


Continued In Part 2

The Athenaeum's Scroll Archive