Janice sits in the library, staring down at some of the notes that had been taken from the family members and friends about the victims’ lives as well as interviews from those that have found the bodies. She chews on the end of her pen as she reads and re-reads the information from the first case, her mind wandering so much that paying attention and reading the files is getting hard. She slides the file away from her and lays her head down on her arms after she crosses them on the top of the desk.
She couldn’t concentrate that day not because of what Elizabeth had told her on the phone about one of the team members not only impressed by what she can do but actually interested in her, but because she is afraid that she won’t be able to pull off what she has to in a couple of days. Can she find that secret place in the mind and if she can, will she be able to tap into it and find the memories that the need stored there? Or had the memory thief known about that area and had taken the memories from there too?
Her fears that she can’t find what they are looking for and if she doesn’t she will disappoint everyone in the group strikes her to the core. She tries her best to shove these feelings aside but she can’t help but feel fear and disappointment in herself and she hasn’t even tried finding the information yet. She lets out a huge sigh and lets the sounds of the quiet library around her invade her so that it takes her mind off of things for a while. Rustling pages, chairs being pushed in and out from tables, pens scribbling on paper, books being closed, small quiet chatter from somewhere behind her, and the librarian checking books out while others are putting books away. After a while, her mind stops racing and the calm of the library helps her to control her emotions and doubts. She sits back up just as a shadow looms over her and she looks up quickly to see who it is standing beside her.
“Hey, Janice,” a soft voice says as Simon pulls out a chair beside her and sits down. “I see that I am not the only one who comes to the library to calm down.”
Janice smiles at Simon and nods, “I came here to read the files again, specifically the first interviews with their family, friends, and the people who found the bodies. I wanted to see if there was anything that would tell me that the family and friends might have remembered the victims lives married before the memories completely vanished from their minds. But it doesn’t seem like it. It seems that the spell took affect right away so once they died and the memory thief took the memories, everyone around them forgot everything too. And those who found the bodies didn’t see anyone around.” She sighs heavily at her blank notepad, the pen sitting on top alone and unused.
Simon pulls the files over to him and begins to put them away, nodding his head, “I am just mad at myself that I hadn’t been able to detect the magic that had been used on the all of the victims’ family and friends. I could on the bodies but not anyone else and I can usually detect magic. I could sense yours though I never knew how strong it was until you showed me. But man….” He shakes his head and sighs heavily.
Janice could see by his actions and hear it in his voice that he is upset about not being the one to figure out that a spell had been cast on the family and friends of the murdered victims. She reaches out her hand and grabs his, stopping him from finishing his cleaning and her touch makes him look at her. “Whoever this is, they aren’t messing around and are playing games. It is like they want us to get close to them but then pulls away, mocking us. That is why you could only feel their magic on the bodies and not the family and friends.” She squeezes his hand, “I am scared that I won’t be able to find the memories in the part of the brain I told you all about. I am scared that I won’t be able to help out anymore with my magic and that he or she kills again and again and again.”
Simon thinks for a moment then stands quickly, grabbing the files and slipping them into her shoulder bag. He puts the pen and notebook in the bag and pulls it off the back of her chair. He then grabs her hand, dragging her to her feet, and heads for the entrance of the library. He smiles at her, “I have an idea.” He looks away from her and continues to walk down the sidewalk, pulling Janice along behind him.
A few moments later, they are sitting in his small apartment, mugs of hot coffee in front of them, and Simon taking a few deep breaths as he stares into her eyes. “I am going to push a memory back to the back of my mind, hopefully to that part you are talking about. You have to find it.”
Janice raises her eyebrows, “I have only done it a couple of times. I don’t know if I can do it.”
She looks at him gratefully for the help and shakes her arms out a bit as she stares into his eyes beginning to concentrate on Simon and nothing else that is happening around in the room. Simon relaxes his body and stares back into her eyes, pushing a memory of his first case to the back of his mind, pushing it away so that Janice will have to find it in the part of the mind she is talking about.
The room swirls away and she can see memories of Simon growing up and becoming a detective but she can also feel something missing, a memory that he is hiding from her. She tries to pull the memory towards her but he resists, keeping it hidden. She moves around his memories for a bit until she finds a wall up in the back of his mind. She gently pushes on it and feels him resist again, knowing that she has found where the missing memory is hiding. She walks around in front of the wall, seeing if she can find a way in until she spots a small crack in it.
She places her hand against the crack and pushes, not with her hand but with her mind, causing it to crack more, the cracks spider webbing all across the wall. She can feel Simon flinch as she pushes until he can’t take it any longer and the wall collapses, showing her the memory of his first case. She tells him the details of what she sees and Simon nods, gently pushing against her to let her know that she is right.
Janice stops and pulls out of his mind, looking around to get her bearings for a minute before she looks at Simon, “I found it but…what if it isn’t as easy with a dead person?”
“Let’s find a file of someone that isn’t a part of this case and see if you can find their darkest secret in the back of their mind,” Simon suggests. He stands up and stretches.
Janice stands up and does the same, feeling achy and tired but willing to try anything to get ready for what she has to do in order to find the memory thief. She follows him outside to where his steam car is sitting, waiting to be used. They pile in and head to the office even though today was the teams’ day off, given to them by their boss since they had been working so hard the past few months on the case. Janice didn’t feel like she earned the day off but Mr. Stephens insisted that she did as well since he still feels really bad about not listening to her and forcing her to stay behind a desk for so many years.
“Think we will get in trouble for going to work on our day off?” Janice jokes as she watches the world fly past outside the window.
“Naw, we can sneak in and sneak out before anyone sees us and rat us out,” Simon says as he eases the car around a horse and buggy before turning onto the street that leads to their office. “I have a friend who can cast a spell that can keep us hidden too. Though the others with magic might be able to sense it but most know if they feel it, I am around and don’t want to be disturbed.”
Janice looks at Simon, “What is your main magical gift, Simon?”
Simon chews on his lip, “I can manipulate a person to tell me their darkest secrets and if I concentrate harder, I can pull the truth out of people.”
She raises her eyebrows and nods her head, impressed. “That is pretty cool. Just don’t make me tell you about my secrets okay?”
He chuckles and eyes her as he maneuvers into a parking spot in a parking lot across from their office, “Maybe I won’t and maybe I will.” He winks at her as he parks and turns the car off, jumping out of the car. He is by her side in seconds and opens the door for her, holding out a hand to help her out of the car as well.
Janice slips her booted foot out of the car and plants it on the floor before she takes a hold of his hand and allows him to help her up out of the car. She lets his hand go and fixes the back of her outfit while he closes the door. They walk inside and Simon nods to one of their co-workers, a young freckled kid with crazy black hair and purplish colored eyes who nods his head and whispers something in their direction. He then turns his head and hisses as he looks around the room, a sort of haze filling the room before her eyes. Simon takes a hold of her hand and leads her back to where some of the solved cases are being held before they are transported to their warehouse to be kept with all of the other cases that have been solved over the years since the agency had been started.
Simon opens the door and heads to where the boxes full of cases sit alphabetically on the shelves. He opens one of the closest boxes and pulls out the first file that his fingers grasp, letting her hand go and flipping the folder open and pulling out the written form, glancing over it. He looks at her, “Can you bring someone with you?”
Janice looks over his arm that is hiding the paper from her and reads the name, date, and where they had been murdered. She then takes a hold of his hand and in a split second, the blue mist covers the paper and the two of them, dragging them into the past. Simon looks around, still getting used to the Past Touch and grips tightly to her hand so that they don’t break the connection to one another.
“Shari is hiding something…I can feel it,” Simon murmurs. “Shall we search for it in the back of her mind?”
Janice nods and leads the way to the back of the young woman’s mind, not seeing anything out of the ordinary as memories whiz by like a bunch of horses on a racetrack. She can see bits and pieces of the memories but she doesn’t target them, looking for a wall or something that signifies that she has a memory that she herself has pushed aside so she can’t remember it. They search and search but nothing pops up to show her where the secret is hiding, her frustration growing. She knew that she wasn’t going to be able to find that secret part of the mind and she is ready to give up. She would have to tell Jarred that she can’t do it and that the case will hit a dead end again.
Simon can feel the change in the atmosphere and knew that it is from Janice growing frustrated with not being able to find the secret. They stop moving in the memories and a memory of the woman’s nightly walk comes into view, the woman off in the distance and heading towards them, a few friends with her. Simon gently tugs on her hand to make her look at him and he shakes his head, “You are not giving up. You can do this! I believe in you, Janice. You want to stop this creep as much as I and the rest of the team do and that will help drive you in the right direction. Just take a deep breath and concentrate. We need you, Janice, to do this not for us but for them.”
Janice chews on her lower lip as she listens to Simon, bowing her head slowly, knowing that he is right and she has to do this for those who have been murdered and for those who could possibly be the next victim. She takes a deep breath and she lifts her gaze as Shari walks past with the group of friends. She watches their faces and notices that one seems blurrier than the others. She raises her hand to point it out to Simon when she sees a tree shake from behind the girl. “There!”
She and Simon take off running until they are in front of the half-dead tree, a small pitch-black hole sitting in the front of the tree. Simon reaches into the hole, feeling around it until he pulls free a medium-sized tin box, heavily tied up with ribbons and yarn.
Janice laughs, “We found it. This is where she has hidden her memory and I think it has to deal with the guy with the blurry face that walked with the group in the last memory.”
Simon and Janice work together to open the box, as to not break a connection, and Janice lifts the top, letting the memory spring up out of the box and fall to the ground around them. They are standing on a bridge where Shari is dressed up in a nice corset dress, no jacket, and obviously waiting for someone. She doesn’t look like she is too worried about the time she is out or being alone as she waits for the mystery man. Simon and Janice stand beside her, waiting with her, when her watch makes a noise, letting her know that she has a note. She reads the note and curses out loud some very unladylike words and stomps her foot. She then turns to hear laughing behind her. She and her two invisible companions turn to see the guy that had been blurred before is now visible and laughing, pointing at her with a few of his buddies. She stomps her foot at them and yells more unladylike words before she storms off, crying.
“Not a dark secret but definitely a memory that she didn’t want to remember. A cruel joke played on her by one of the guys that she liked,” Janice spits out, glaring at the guy and wishing she could do something about it.
Simon smiles and reaches out, still holding onto her hand, shoving the guy so that he fell on his butt in front of his friends. “You might not want to interact with the memories but doesn’t stop me from doing it. Even though she is gone, made me feel better.”
Janice and Simon step out of the memory, leaving behind the bewildered man on his butt and his friends now laughing at him, standing in the quiet room. Simon puts the file back into the folder and places the folder back in the box where it belongs before he turns to look at her. “I knew you could do it. If you want to do it again tomorrow, I am game.”
Janice nods, “I think I want to do it again tomorrow. I can sneak in here and do it during work hours since we aren’t working on the case tomorrow still.”
Simon and Janice leaves the office, the spell breaking once they are outside, and head back for his car in the parking lot across the street. Simon opens the door for her and once she is in, closes it before he slips into the driver seat. He looks over at her, “It is getting late, how about we go out for a bite to eat?”
Just as the words leave his mouth, her phone goes off and Janice jumps. Janice looks down to see that Jarred is trying to contact her. She looks at her phone a bit confused then looks at Simon whose face seems to fall when he spies Jarred’s name on the screen. She clicks to send it to message and smiles at him, “I would love to go get something to eat. I am exhausted and starving. Why don’t we just pick something up and head back to my place? I am in the mood for some good Chinese food and I know a great place close to my condo if you are interested. Plus, I need to feed my cat, Tiger.”
Simon grins at her, “I haven’t had good Chinese food in so long, I have forgotten what it tastes like.”
She laughs as he winks at her and she transfers the directions to his car so that the car knows where to go; Simon will just have to guide the steering wheel. They sit comfortably in the car as Simon maneuvers it through the streets in silence. Janice looks over at Simon as he concentrates on driving since he has never been to her house nor the Chinese restaurant she has mentioned. They park in front of the place, watching other couples enter through the front doors, laughing and holding hands. She looks at Simon and smiles at him before she hops out of the car, not letting him get to her side in time to open it for her. He chuckles and steps out, walking into the restaurant behind a large group of noisy friends. He looks around and sees a couple heading towards them with huge grins on their faces.
Janice sees the couple as well and the smile on her face grows bigger, “Mr. and Mrs. Hughes, it is so good to see you both.” She hugs them then steps back, “I want you to meet my friend and fellow detective, Simon. He and I are working together on that one case.” She looks at Simon, “Simon, I would like you to meet the owners of this amazing restaurant, Mr. and Mrs. Hughes. I had found this place on accident one late night after work. I just stumbled upon it and started talking to these two before they told me that they were the owners. But of course, by then it was too late…for them” She winks at the older couple who chuckles.
“It’s true,” Mr. Hughes said. “We have been stuck with her ever since. She comes in here quite a few times for dinner to go and she only stays to eat here if she sees us and we all have a nice chat.”
Mrs. Hughes smiles and squeezes her arm, “She is like a daughter I never had and I couldn’t be prouder of our adopted girl for finally getting on a case. And it is so nice to finally meet someone she works with and is a friend. She comes in alone all of the time and she never talks about her colleagues or about any of her friends. Had us worried.”
Simon shakes their hands and glances at Janice, a twinge of sadness entering his heart when he hears that she is always alone and is never with any friends when she joins the couple for her meals. “It is nice to meet you, too. I have sadly never been here before and I am quite looking forward to getting some food here. Especially since Janice keeps telling me how wonderful it is and I mean it does smell amazing.”
The couple smiles and looks at Janice who has her head lowered because she is blushing intensely from all of the praise that the older couple is giving her. Simon gently elbows her in the arm so she has to look up at them with blushing cheeks. She waves them off and grabs a to-go menu to busy herself as Simon and the couple chat. After a few minutes, Janice and Simon are on their way back to her place with steaming hot food sitting on Janice’s lap, making their stomachs growl while their noses are bombarded by delicious smells.
“I like the Hughes. They seem like a very nice couple,” Simon says as he guides his car towards her condo.
Janice looks over at him, “They are amazing. I met them only a few months after my father passed and they have been there ever since just like Mr. Stephens. They came to London and bought the restaurant from their good friends the Lings who wanted to return to China. They kept the same recipes, maybe changed them a bit or added new items but they always stayed true to their friends’ recipes and the way they had shown them how to cook the food. All of their chefs at some point have gone to China to learn to cook under the Lings and came back with so much knowledge and love for cooking the food that the place has become a huge hit.”
Simon parks in front of the condos and they head inside, Simon carrying the food while Janice unlocks the door for them. She ushers him inside and locks the door behind them before she goes into the kitchen to get plates, spoons to dish up the food, napkins, and forks. She sets everything down on her table and feeds her ever so cute cat, Tiger, before she grabs the items again. She returns to see that he has set up the coffee table with their food and is sitting on the couch, eyeing it hungrily.
She laughs and hands him a fork but he shakes his head and grabs for the chopsticks that the restaurant provides and takes a spoon from her so that he can start dishing up the food. Janice laughs at how quick Simon wants to get his food and digs in as well, placing two different chicken dishes, rice, vegetables, and three different pork dishes that they had chosen onto her plate.
She then picks up the remote and turns on her TV hoping that they can find something to watch while they eat and hoping that her TV is actually working this time. The screen shows a black background but nothing pops up, showing her that once again it isn’t working. She frowns and her hand holding the remote drops on top of her knee, the remote pointing sadly to the ground.
Simon raises an eyebrow then stands up after setting his plate down on the couch beside him, and walks over to the TV, “Turn it off for me so I can take a look at it.”
In no time, they are sitting on the couch, the TV working, and some mystery murder movie flashing on the screen as they eat. Tiger sits beside Simon, watching the TV, licking his lips and whiskers, having finished the tuna his human had given him for dinner. Simon and Janice eat in silence, watching the movie. Janice’s arm vibrates a bit and looks down to see Jarred is trying to reach her again. She opens up her keyboard and types back that she is eating and watching a movie with Simon.
She gets a response saying that Jarred just wanted to make sure she is ready for the Past jumping in a couple of days and that he will see her tomorrow at the office. She tells him that she is ready, that Simon has been helping her get ready, and says that she will see him tomorrow.
Simon glances over at her as she types away and then looks back at the screen, “Jarred again?”
“Yep, just wanting to make sure that I am ready for the past jumping and I said that thanks to you, I totally am.” She uses her chopsticks to pick up a piece of spicy chicken and pops it into her mouth.
He pops a piece of pork into his mouth and grins, “And we will get you even more prepared tomorrow at work by doing what we did today.” He pops in some rice into his mouth and notices that she has moved closer to him on the couch.
They finish their dinner, both cleaning up their mess and throwing out the trash then return to sit on the couch to finish the second thriller movie they had found. Neither were worried about the time as they sat next to each other, Simon’s arm lazily resting on the couch above her head while Janice is snuggled up against his chest. Tiger brushes up against Janice’s leg and looks up at her meowing. She pats her lap to let him know that it is okay to sit on her. He leaps up but doesn’t just sit down on her lap. He stretches out so that he is on both her and Simon’s lap, purring while Simon gently scratches him under the chin.
Janice laughs at her cat, “He usually will only sit on my lap, even if he likes the other person. And truthfully, that isn’t may people since there aren’t many friends that I bring over.”
“Yea well maybe he knows that my lap is just as comfortable as yours,” Simon jokes, still scratching under his chin, enjoying the rumbling purr that the cat is emitting.
The hours drag on as the night covers London in starlight dust and a sliver of moon light. Another horror movie comes on and they figured that this would be their last movie together since they had work in the morning. They only ever got up to use the restroom or for Janice to get them snacks and drinks. The lights come on outside in the streets but Simon doesn’t notice, enjoying the movies and small talk with Janice and scratching Tiger’s chin. Though the cat has stopped purring and is fast asleep on their laps. Soon the movie ends and the screen grows to wavy lines since it is late and nothing else will be on.
Janice’s eyes had shut about half an hour into the movie while Simon had stayed awake, gently stroking her hair. Simon’s hand stops 10 minutes before the end of the movie, and his head droops as sleep overtakes him as well. Tiger stands up and stretches before turning around, plopping back down onto Janice’s lap, snuggling up against his human but makes sure that he stretches his paws out so that they lay on the new human, Simon’s leg.
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