Chapter 4

Nic made it to the hospital an hour or so later. He was held at the scene with Heather to cover every aspect before it was too late. Considering how the rain wasn’t letting up. What was troubling him even more when he arrived at the waiting area was seeing Cynthia sitting by herself, more disturbed than before.

“So…” Nic began, gesturing toward the general area. He didn’t know how to start. Despite having handled much more delicate situations in the past—whether it was crying family members or screaming suspects.

It didn’t matter that Nic wasn’t his usual, professional self. Cynthia seemed like she was lost in her own world. Nic’s composure returned when he realized she wasn’t listening. He risked placing a hand on her shoulder.

“Cynthia,” Nic said, his voice soft and soothing this time, no longer confronting like when they were at the crime scene. “What’s going on?”

Cynthia still didn’t speak up. She just kept shaking her head. It was like she was trying to convince herself of something.

“Cynthia, you can tell me,” Nic coaxed.

Cynthia shook her head yet again. It was starting to drive Nic insane. It wasn’t like he wanted to be inconsiderate. But Cynthia was freaking him out. Her current state was so unlike her sunshine personality that they often saw. Okay, so the time she got freaked out by the fake head, she wasn’t looking so sunshine either. But that was different. She seemed lost beyond words this time.

“Cynthia…” Nic tried again.

Somehow, Cynthia finally pulled out of her trance and turned to look at Nic. It was like she just realized he was there for the first time in the last ten minutes. She sniffled and tried to pulled herself together, wiping her tears away with her sleeves. “Kai didn’t make it out of surgery.”

A door slammed in Nic’s mind. Cynthia finally spoke up. But it was Nic’s turn to be numbed, shocked, shattered, and what was all those other words that described Cynthia’s state seconds before. Except…Nic wasn’t crying. His hand slipped off Cynthia’s shoulder and it felt like his grip on the world was also gone. He felt dizzy and even nauseous. It wasn’t how it was supposed to happen. Suddenly, he snapped out of it. He grabbed Cynthia’s shoulders with both hands, shaking her. “You’re lying!”

Nic didn’t mean for it to come out that way. But he didn’t have the patience for Cynthia’s tears anymore.

“I wish I was lying,” Cynthia said, voice all hoarse from crying. “I wish I was lying.” Then she broke down again, crying louder than before. “Because I can stop blaming myself for what happened.”

“What?” Nic asked, all confused. He wasn’t thinking straight anymore, but he barely remembered Cynthia had told him it was Kai’s plan—whatever it was. How could it be Cynthia’s fault?

“I should’ve followed Kai’s plan as is,” Cynthia said. “But I got impatient and entered too soon. That was how we were discovered so Kai took the bullet for me.”

Nic’s hands slid off Cynthia’s shoulders again. He could believe that version. Cynthia had been less rash recently but that didn’t mean she still didn’t retain some traces of rashness within her. But how could he believe Kai was gone just like that? It didn’t make sense. It just didn’t make any sense. Yet it had to. Because who in their right mind would play such a sick joke? Cynthia knew better than to pull a prank at this moment. They had agreed a long time ago that Cynthia didn’t know how to lie. Sure she could joke around, a little teasing here and there, but lie? She was a terrible liar.

“Nic…” Cynthia called, her voice sounding like it was coming from a distant place.

Nic didn’t answer but got up from his spot. He didn’t know why but he had a strong urge to flee. So he did. He rushed past the double doors and raced all the way to the parking lot. It was like he needed to get away from everything. He didn’t care for Cynthia’s call for him. Nor all the hospital staff who were yelling for him—asking if he needed help. He didn’t stop until he felt the cold breeze hit his face.

“What have I done?” He asked into the night.

*****

A week later, they were all standing in front of Kai’s grave. The rain didn’t let up for the funeral. Some of them were holding umbrellas—with others hurdling together. Nic and Cynthia were also there. Unlike how she had completely broken down at the hospital, Cynthia was no longer crying. She looked like she’d been drained out. Robert tried to shield her with an umbrella but she had edged away from him, drawing her territory. That earned Robert an evil eye from Heather, who ironically ended up being the one sharing an umbrella with Cynthia. And Robert had already been cleared by their boss hence gaining this freedom again. As for Nic, he was still in his numb state, not being able to believe it. In fact, that was the first time since learning of Kai’s passing that Nic appeared out in public again. Although he never submitted an official leave, but their boss understood and didn’t penalize him for it.

As they were dispersing, there was a silhouette seemed to the far right of the graveyard staring out at them. That person was well hidden under a raincoat and the help of a nearby tree. Yet that person didn’t have to hide, because all their attention had been focused on Kai’s tombstone. Then they were too occupied heading back down the path to their cars that they didn’t care to let their eyes wander. That person didn’t seem to mean any harm to them either. At least not at that moment, because he or she had waited for them to clear out before approaching Kai’s grave and knelt down in front of the tombstone. That person traced the words written on the tombstone slowly—as if taking in the reality of it all—before standing up and heading back where he or she had come from.

*****

Another week passed and their case was gone. Just like that, their boss announced the case was going to be taken over by upper management. Because it had gone on a larger scale and they were just a small station—or so the bosses upstairs had said. Nic was the most vocal with the objections—followed by Heather, but it was useless. It was already decided. They had to move on. What about Cynthia? She had been locked up by her mother once again. However, this time she didn’t protest, which surprised some of the others at their station, considering how hard Cynthia had fought to prove herself capable of becoming a cop and she had planned to stay that way. Or was it because of what happened to Kai? Cynthia’s request of her mother was to not let Robert near her, because she had claimed that she didn’t know what measures she would take if Robert came any closer. That got her mother to back off. And that also allowed time for Cynthia to recover after the shock of losing Kai as a team member. No, he wasn’t just a team member. He was her mentor. Most importantly, her friend.

*****

It finally stopped raining by the time the one-month deadline arrived. That was if they still had the case within their hands. Cynthia was actually seen going out again. In fact, she was seen at a shopping center. More accurately, she was exiting a shopping center with some bags in her hands. When she arrived at her car, she spotted Robert there waiting for her. She took a quick glance around, wondering how long he’d been there and trying to locate his car at the same time.

“What do you want, Robert?” Cynthia asked, her voice obviously annoyed.

“I was just worried for you,” Robert said.

Cynthia’s expression hardened. “Wasn’t I clear from the day we met? I’m not interested in you. You don’t have to waste your time.”

“I know Kai was important to you,” Robert said, ignoring Cynthia’s words completely. “I’m willing to wait.”

“Your listening skills are definitely lacking then. Kai was never in the picture the day we met. And don’t ever bring Kai into it.”

Cynthia opened her trunk to place all her shopping bags in. As she took her attention off Robert briefly, he approached her and ended up too close. As he attempted to reach for her, Cynthia brushed him off in time. Her expression had become furious.

“What are you doing? Don’t think that I can’t defend myself.”

“Cynthia…”

Before Robert could go on, Cynthia slammed her trunk shut and walked toward the driver side. Yet Robert grabbed a hold of her.

“What are you doing?”

As they struggled, they didn’t realize that someone was also present. Perhaps, the area was deserted at that moment—and that was why Robert chose that time to act. However, he didn’t anticipate in a third party being present so when he turned to defend himself from the other party, it was too late.

“If I were to call you an animal, I would be insulting the animals,” A deep voice said as he restrained Robert, forcing both Robert’s hands behind his back.

The person whom had stepped in to help Cynthia was the same raincoat person whom was seen by Kai’s grave that one rainy day. As the person said those words, Robert stopped struggling and tried to turn and look. Yet the person was faster. He knocked Robert out before Robert could recognize him. All the while that was going on, Cynthia only had time to step back from Robert but didn’t have time to identify her rescuer. No, it was more like she was just standing there, not caring to ask questions. Or was she just shocked of the turn of events?

“You better be more careful next time,” Cynthia’s rescuer said, letting Robert’s body dropped to the ground. “I won’t be able to drop in on you all the time. Guns aren’t the only weapons a cop has, kid. Remember that.”

Cynthia nodded. The other person didn’t say anything more. He pulled his hoodie tighter, glancing around once more to see if anyone was watching before fleeing the scene. Cynthia also took that time to check her surroundings. She then glanced down at Robert once more before taking her phone out to call for help. She despised his sickly attempt to get her attention, but she wasn’t that cruel to let him rot out in the cold. After making the call, she entered her car and left.

© Monday, May 18th, 2015

Posted: Monday, June 13th, 2016

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