Chapter 5

“It was Kai!” Robert yelled out when he came to. “I saw him! You can ask Cynthia!”

Yes, Robert had been rescued and brought back to the station for questioning after his failed attempt to grab Cynthia. He had been ranting on and on for about an hour now. Cynthia had also been summoned, because it was procedural that they asked her.

“He tried to grab me when I was trying to leave and mind my own business,” Cynthia said, looking at the others. “Luckily, this guy was around at the time and helped me fend Robert off. If it wasn’t for that guy, I don’t know what would happen.”

That was when Heather turned to Robert with a disgusted look on her face. “You tried to assault her?”

“I…” Robert managed, feeling Heather’s eyes boring into his. “It’s not like that. I was just worried for Cynthia.”

“Don’t try to downplay it,” Cynthia said. “I already gave you plenty of chances to back down. But now that you want to bring a dead person into it, how could I let it go?”

“It was really Kai!” Robert shouted, looking at the others again.

“Sure,” Heather snapped. “We were all at the hospital, Robert. The reason why you weren’t there was because you were still locked up at that time.”

“But I saw him, I swear.”

“You had your hands pinned behind your back, which meant that you didn’t see a thing,” Cynthia reminded Robert.

Robert sighed out, defeated. “Okay, fine. I didn’t see him but I recognized his voice.”

“What did he say then?” Heather asked.

“He said…uh…”

Cynthia gave Robert the cold stare, daring him to say it. “Well?”

Robert’s face was burning hot by now—with so many pair of eyes staring at him. “Regardless, it was Kai.”

“Prove it,” Heather said. “We’re cops, we work with proofs, not your wild guesses. Besides, whether you like Kai or not, he’s dead now. Show some respect.”

Cynthia’s stern expression was still present. She got up from her place and went to get some water for herself. They were actually hurdled in the break room instead of in the main area. Aside from Robert—who was being interrogated—and Heather—who was leading the interrogation, there was also Nic and Derek. Nic had been assigned to Heather’s team since Kai passed away and with Cynthia hiding in her house for the majority of the time.

“I’m not making this up,” Robert spoke up again. “It was really Kai.” He turned to Cynthia at the counter. “Tell them! You were facing him at that time, you must have seen him.”

“It wasn’t Kai,” Cynthia said, turning to look at Robert in the eyes, her cold stare still present. “It was just someone who happened to see the whole incident so he interfered.”

“You’re lying!”

“You’re the one who’s lying,” Nic jumped in. He’d been quiet from the start. Yet he knew he had to interfere—whether or not he wanted to accept of Kai’s passing. “Cynthia doesn’t know how to lie. We agreed on that a long time ago.”

“That’s right,” Derek agreed. “Why would Cynthia lie? She has so much respect for Kai you would think she has a shrine in her house for him.”

“But…” Robert protested.

“Get some rest,” Heather said. “You need it. We’ll report all of these to the boss. I don’t think you could ever return to the station, considering your latest assault on Cynthia. You’re lucky we haven’t arrested you yet. Talking about that, don’t skip town.” After saying that, she turned to Cynthia. “Don’t go anywhere alone from now on. Call me or one of the guys.”

Cynthia nodded.

After that, they all left the break room. Robert was still stunned, his eyes never leaving Cynthia. This time, it wasn’t the unwillingness to see her walk away, but it was the shock of how he realized she wasn’t Cynthia anymore. But who could he complain to when they were all taking her side?

*****

Like Heather promised, Robert was stripped of his duties and was placed on probation once again. Although Heather was right, but she was surprised of their boss’ action. Usually, if it was someone within their own department committing such despicable acts (obviously breaking the law), he or she would be punished double as the usual sentencing went. However, this time, Robert was given nothing more than a shove out the door and an unknown date of returning to duties. Heather, of course, was furious of such decision and went to confront the boss. Well, there was less of confronting and more of questioning about the decision. Nic and Derek went with Heather during that meeting.

“Heather, do you even know who’s the commanding party here?” Their boss asked, cutting Heather off while she was quoting the specific law regarding to officers breaking the code.

“Yes, sir,” Heather said. “But…”

“If I’m in charge, then you should trust me to make the right decision and return to your duties.”

Heather was going to say more, but Derek had placed a hand on her shoulder to stop her. Heather turned to see Derek shaking his head. He successfully dragged Heather out of there. Nic nodded to their boss before following the two out. Yet their boss called him back. The man waited for Nic to close the door before speaking up.

“I know you all are affected by what happened to Kai,” The boss said. “But we shouldn’t let our judgments be clouded.”

“Yes, sir,” Nic muttered, looking down on the ground.

“I know Heather has a very righteous attitude, but that will get her in more trouble than help. Watch after her however you can. Don’t let her do anything rash that would hurt her current cases.”

Nic nodded, understanding too well.

The man waved his hand then. “Dismissed.”

Nic nodded once more before turning to leave, closing the door behind him.

“What did he say?” Heather asked when Nic met up with them by their work area.

“He told me to be careful,” Nic lied. “He knows we’re all sad with what happened to Kai, but we shouldn’t let it affect our work.”

“Easy for him to say,” Heather mumbled. “If an officer drops dead, all he has to do is replace him or her.”

“Heather, we shouldn’t take it out on him. He’s under a lot of pressure from the bosses upstairs too.”

“Whatever.”

Before Nic could convince Heather otherwise, she walked away. Derek followed her, not forgetting to exchange a worried look with Nic as he walked past Nic.

*****

As for Robert, although he was let off quite easily, but his days weren’t getting any better. His first mistake was stalking Cynthia again. This time, he didn’t confront Cynthia or tried to talk to her. He just followed her. Wherever she was going, he was there. Even if she was using the restroom, he was outside somewhere—hidden—waiting for her to come out. Unbeknownst to him, someone else was also following him. It was the mysterious person whom had saved Cynthia previously, the one he accused of as Kai. Cynthia, on the other hand, acted like she didn’t care if Robert was following her. Yes, she noticed, but didn’t care to acknowledge him—or confronted him. She didn’t listen to Heather either about alerting the others about Robert’s actions or allowing someone to accompany her at all time.

Until one day, Cynthia finally reacted. It wasn’t toward Robert though. She realized Robert wasn’t the only one following her. That person wasn’t the raincoat man either. It was Nic. Yet she didn’t approach him. She chose to enter a public restroom to hide from them all. She checked to make sure there wasn’t anyone around before pulling out her cell phone.

“Nic is following me.”

“I know,” The other person said.

“Want me to shake him off?”

“No, he will be suspicious if you shake him off.”

“What if he discovers you?”

A chuckle was heard from the other side of the line. “Am I that pathetic?”

“Kai…”

The other person turned serious again. “I know, you’re just worried. But I think I got this one under control, okay? We managed fine this past month. Hey, we already knocked Robert out of the game.”

“Okay, but be careful.”

“Got it.”

After that, Cynthia got off the phone and looked around once more before exiting the restroom. She’d been wearing her sunglasses and looking like she was just browsing, like usual. She tried real hard not to look in Robert or Nic’s direction yet had become anxious. Unknown to both Nic and Robert from the opposite side of the shop, the raincoat man had just pocketed his phone. And the raincoat man was none other than Kai in disguised. How did he pull off the death scene without anyone suspecting? Why did he do it? Why was Cynthia in on it too? Perhaps that was why Robert followed her. But what about Nic? Why was he following Cynthia? And did he know that Robert was following Cynthia as well? Or was that the reason why he followed Cynthia? To protect her?

Before any of those questions could be answered, something happened that disrupted the atmosphere as all three men focused their undivided their attention on Cynthia browsing around the shop. It was actually regarding Cynthia, but it didn’t have anything to do with the three of them. Cynthia had been on alert, but she had underestimated the people around her immediate surrounding, because she was only focusing on the two people whom were following her. Someone had suddenly bumped into her, knocking her over. That person had also attempted to snatch up her handbag. As she was caught off guard, she tumbled and hadn’t have time to recover yet hence the other person successfully snatching up her handbag.

“Don’t run!” Cynthia blurted out as she was on her feet again.

Nic was the one who reacted first. He jumped out from his hiding place as the thief ran by and grabbed him.

“You all right?” Nic asked when he made his way over to her after having explained to the security guards of his identity and what was going on.

Cynthia nodded, taking her handbag from Nic. “Thanks.”

“Check if anything’s missing.”

Cynthia nodded as she unzipped her bag. However, she took a quick glance around the place before focusing on her bag. Both Kai and Robert were gone. Neither came out of their hiding places to help her. Or was it because Nic already did so they didn’t feel the need to do so?

“Why didn’t you listen to Heather?” Nic asked while he was waiting for her to check her bag.

“What?” Cynthia asked back, confused.

“Heather told you to alert us whenever you’re out,” Nic reminded her. “It’s only for your safety, Cynthia.”

“I…” She stopped fidgeting with her bag and looked at Nic, unsure of what to say. “I didn’t think it was necessary.”

“I hate to break it to you, but this incident proves it’s necessary.”

Cynthia frowned. “Did Heather tell you to follow me?”

Nic looked away before shaking his head. He returned his eyes to Cynthia before answering. “I was worried.”

Cynthia smiled. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine.”

“Did you know Robert have been following you?”

Cynthia faked surprised. “Really?”

“Your guard’s really off, you know.”

Cynthia looked down. “I…”

Nic placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder then. “I know it has been tough since Kai left us. But you have to be more careful in the future. Kai wouldn’t want you to give up on your dream.”

Cynthia looked up at Nic again. “Thanks, Nic. I’ll be all right.”

Nic nodded and removed his hand from her shoulder. “I’ll take you home.”

Cynthia nodded, knowing she couldn’t turn him down. Not when she was already faking innocence. It would be too suspicious if she acted otherwise.

© Sunday, June 12th, 2016

Posted: Monday, June 20th, 2016

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