Victims of the Grim
Chapter 4
By Nodjmet

Black Jaguar followed the gentle tug of the man's large hand that completely covered her own tiny one. He led her into the small mansion. Up the stairs they went, trudging along slowly until they met a young maid.

"Good morning Lucy," the guard greeted her merrily, "Do you know where Miss Featherstone may be?"

Lucy ceased arranging the flowers in the vase and twisted her lips in thought. "I think she's either in the study working again or in her room trying to get some more sleep until seven." She noticed the little girl shyly hiding behind the guard and bent down to come to her eye level. "Oh. Hello. What's your name?" she asked, sending a questioning look toward the guard.

"Mommy told me not to talk to strangers," Black Jaguar whispered, while inwardly thanking Lion for ever suggesting that they watch movies to kill time.

"Well, then your mommy was a smart lady," Lucy smiled in what she hoped was a child-friendly way. The girl didn't smile back.

The guard once again tugged on Black Jaguar's hand. "Time to go now," he said to her.

"I'm sorry to have kept you waiting." Lucy straightened up. "I'll see you later."


I'll have to see if she's a target.

Elan rose earlier than usual by an hour. Groggily, he sat up in bed and picked his way to the bathroom of his apartment. As the water in the shower began to warm up, he stripped and was met with an unwanted relay of knowledge. Damon had a crush on Mallory in the forensics department. That silent guy with a girl's name! The least Damon could do was have a crush on someone better like…like…Allen in the search dog department. He was a nice guy and never lost his temper. Wait, he had a wife and three kids.

Little did our detective know that he was turning red as thoughts of who was worthy of Damon's attention crossed his mind. Finally, he remembered that the shower was on and stepped under the water, drawing the sliding door closed behind him.

Well, this is awkward. Rosemary gazed down at the small Oriental girl standing between her and the security guard who had brought her in. "Are you hungry?" she asked, taking in the fact that the girl's stick-like arms and legs seemed too thin for her slightly wide-jawed face and large head.

Nod. So this is the fiancée? She doesn't seem like much.

"Thanks Viktor," Rosemary nodded towards the door, a silent sign of dismissal.

Viktor nodded his head once and released the slight pressure he was applying to the girl's back and exited through the bedroom door. There was a slight rustle of sheets and fabric as Rosemary rose from her sitting position at the foot of the bed and kneeled in front of Black Jaguar.

"So, what's your name?"

"Mommy told me not to talk to strangers."

"Well, I'm Rosemary," she offered her hand, "Nice to meet you."

Black Jaguar shyly slipped her hand into the older woman's. "I'm Kassia," she answered almost inaudibly. Liar, she reprimanded herself mentally.

"Kassia…" Why does that name sound familiar? It's not very common. "Kassia, where are your parents?"

She turned her head and her bangs obscured her eyes in shadow. "They're dead," she whispered.

"Oh," Rosemary's expression softened considerably and she wrapped the child in her arms. "I'm sorry, Kassia. It must be hard."

Now one must keep in mind all the skills that are useful in the art of thievery and murder, for to these children and their instructors, it is a skill. An employee doesn't just barge in with the most high tech equipment and blow random objects up into fire and smoke. No, that technique is overrated, overused, and uncivilized. The art, the real beauty comes in the simplest yet most difficult achievements. Stealth, balance, speed, strength, efficiency, and one of the most useful, the same art practiced and performed on a stage, acting.

At that moment, Black Jaguar melted away and was replaced by the small, vulnerable Kassia. Playing her part dutifully, Kassia screwed her eyes shut and nodded against the woman's shoulder. "I want Mommy," she whispered in a broken voice as her shoulders shook with repressed sobs.

"I know, I know," Rosemary's grip tightened. I'm such a liar. "It's ok to cry."

At this, Kassia stiffened. Cry? Crying was showing weakness and weakness meant death. No, if anybody was going to cry, it definitely wasn't going to be her… but how to cover up this lack of weakness?


Black Jaguar tugged on the hem of Siamese's shirt in impatience. "You know I can't understand Japanese or read English! Tell me what she's saying!"

Siamese glanced down at the irritated girl at her feet before reading the subtitles, "Don't cry Fuko, now give Mommy a smile. Bigger. Bigger. Bigger. Yes, that's big enough. No matter how sad you are, Fuko, always smile because it'll make others happy as well."

End Flashback

Plastering what she hoped looked like a slightly forced smile onto her face as she stepped back. "Mommy always told me," she said cheerfully, "to never cry and always smile because it'll make other people happy." With that, she turned and exited the room. I need to think of a plan.

Rosemary sat dumbfounded on the floor of her room staring at the closed door. Finally, after a full minute had passed, she shook her head, rose, and entered her bathroom to prepare for a shower with only a single thought crossing her mind. What a strong girl.

Outside of the fancy wooden doors, Kassia sank down to the floor. Her mask was cast away and her dark glaring and stoic face slid into place. I'll have to kill her later, she decided. If I kill her too soon, it'll seem even more suspicious, but if I don't kill her soon, she'll become a nuisance. Hmmm…what to do, what to do?

Black Jaguar pondered her situation outside for about ten minutes before she felt soft footsteps vibrating through the thin rug. Shoot! She screamed mentally before rubbing her eyes until they began to shed tears and turn red and swollen.

"Oh, hello. It's you again."

At this, Kassia's head snapped upwards. In front of her was Lucy's friendly round face. Staying true to her part, Kassia rubbed her eyes furiously and refused to make eye contact. "Hi," she "managed" weakly.

Lucy's concerned green eyes peered into the younger girl's. "Would you like to come down to the kitchens with me?" she offered, extending a hand. "I'm sure that you're hungry."

Kassia gazed into the woman's eyes. "Ok." Ignoring the hand offered to her, she rose on her own and stared at Lucy expectantly. The latter shrugged off the girl's cold behavior and marched towards the kitchens.

"What's got you so tense today?" Kim was bent to poke Elan curiously. He was sitting stiffly staring at the computer screen searching for possible evidence. Past murders, female criminals with auburn hair, people who might hold a possible grudge against the Prendergasts, the like.

He jumped at the small, casual touch and whirled around to glare at his colleague grouchily. "What do you want?" he snapped.

Slight taken aback, Kim straightened and stared back down at him, trying to cover up her surprise. "Well, you're crabby," she stated simply, "but I'm in no mood to argue with you today."

"You're in no mood?" Elan scoffed sarcastically. "You're in no mood? You're usually the one who's irritated."

Kim pursed her lips, miraculously keeping her temper in check. "Ok, something is definitely bothering you. Wanna talk about it?"

Elan's glare narrowed and became wary as suspicion entered his milk-chocolate colored orbs. "You've never cared before," he said carefully, "so why start now?"

She rolled her eyes and situated herself on a corner of his desk. "You've never been like this before," she replied logically, "well, at least not as long as I've known you. What, finally get another girlfriend?"

"That's the problem," he groaned, his head plummeted to the desk surface. "I don't have a girlfriend. I'm just worried about a friend, that's all."

"Ah. I see."

Lina nodded cheerfully and bent down to the child's eye level. "Lucy needs to vacuum the third floor, so I'll be giving you food. What would you like to eat?" she asked.

Kassia replied with a slight shrug of her bony, sloping shoulders.

"Would plain pancakes be ok?"

Another shrug.

"Alright, I'll make some pancakes. Maple syrup? Butter?"

Yet another shrug.

Lina blinked in confusion. Lucy was right. It is hard to be around this child. "Oh, do you like sunrises?" she suddenly noticed that the sky was just starting to lighten. There was a bright gleam in the girl's eyes, but it appeared only there for a split second and was gone so quickly that she wasn't even sure it was ever there in the first place.

"Yes," she answered quietly, as if it were forbidden to speak above a whisper.

"Then go on," she urged, "I need to prepare the food first. I'll send someone to find you when it's ready."

The child blinked slowly as if trying to register what she was saying, as if she wasn't allowed to play, but that couldn't be… right? Finally, the girl turned and silently stalked out of the kitchen.

Rosemary sighed for what seemed like the hundredth time. She really couldn't sleep and wasn't very hungry. As she ascended the stairs to the hill with the single juniper tree, she began to wonder about the girl. Kassia had an unnaturally dark personality for her age. How did she lose her parents? Not only that, but Rosemary could still remember holding the girl in her arms, literally nothing but skin and bones… and her skin was so white. It didn't seem sickly; rather it seemed unnaturally beautiful, as if it had never been exposed to the sun's rays before. Rosemary settled herself underneath the shadow of the tree and leaned back against the smooth trunk and closed her eyes, seemingly peaceful.

This is great! Black Jaguar smirked malevolently. Her throat's completely exposed. It'd be so easy to just kill her now, but… she gazed at the horizon in the east wistfully, I've been waiting so long…. She glanced down at the woman relaxing under her branch. She had wandered up to the highest place on the estate. The roof of the mansion would have been hard to explain if she was caught, so she had settled for the lonely tree on the hill. Nah, I'll save it until later. It'll be easy to do it later… maybe even easier if I can get her to trust me a little more.

Satisfied, she shifted, making sure to create a rustle. Rosemary opened her eyes and smiled at the girl above her. She patted the spot next to her in a silent invitation. Kassia nodded and clambered down the tree with the grace of a wild cat.

"Have you ever seen a sun rise?" Rosemary asked curiously.

Kassia shook her head violently.


"I couldn't wake up early enough," she replied quietly. Well, that's not a complete lie….

Rosemary turned her head to observe the mysterious child. She was refusing to make eye contact. Her arms were encircling her skinny knees, which were drawn up to her chest. Rosemary blinked. Why were all of her clothes black? And why were they so tight-fitting? She shrugged mentally. It must be because she's in mourning…but why so tight?

"Miss Featherstone?" a small voice jarred her out of her dazed state. Shaking her head slightly, she noticed the dark, almost black, eyes staring intently into her own.

"Yes?" She smiled down kindly.

"What does the sun look like?"

Rosemary blinked at the question. "What does the sun look like?" she repeated in confusion. Why would she ask that?

Kassia's eyes widened in apprehension. "I-I mean, what does it look like when it rises?" Darn! She tensed. That was way too suspicious. Looks like I'll have to kill her now.

"Oh," Rosemary finally said cheerfully, "It's very beautiful. It's not pale yellow, like during noon, but it's more golden and sometimes it's red."

"A red sunrise means that blood has been shed," Kassia whispered darkly. Speaking from Siamese and Tiger's personal experiences.

"What did you say?"


Rosemary shook off the feeling of unease and doubt and turned her head to see the first rays of daylight peeking over the horizon. "Look, Kassia," she pointed, "the sun's rising."

Kassia whipped her head around so quickly that it was a wonder that she didn't get whiplash. Her face remained stoic, but inside, she was trembling. My first look at the sun! Is it really what Siamese said it looks like? How bright will it be? What will it really look like?

And there it was: a great big golden sphere peeking shyly over the trees in the distance. It stretched its bright fingers across the land, illuminating the land in a whole new light that was brighter, sharper, clearer than anything that she had ever seen before. Wondrously, she held out a shaking hand, reaching for the mysterious light. It's warm, she marveled, allowing her emotions to trickle through her mask. And since I need to act like a normal girl…. Laughing, she leapt up from her spot at the tree's trunk and twirled around in the light. It seemed to sparkle around her happily, welcoming her to her first day, her first time in the daylight. She danced happily, transforming her fighting styles, making them more graceful, more beautiful. She twirled, leaped, and ran joyously on the hilltop. I can be happy and not get punished! she screamed blissfully to herself.

Rosemary watched the child dance gleefully with confusion but unexpected contentedness apparent in her eyes. I don't know why, but… she allowed a small smile to materialize on her face, she's so happy…. "Hey, Kassia," she murmured gently when the girl collapsed in exhaustion. "Let's go get breakfast together. Ok?"

Kassia looked back up with glazed eyes. She blinked and sat up. "Ok."

"Where's that girl?" Lina sighed in frustration. "I spend time to make her a nice batch of pancakes then I can't find her!" Irritated, she stormed into the garden. The scent of all the flowers tended to calm her. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply before lifting her eyelids. Her emerald eyes widened in surprise before settling down as a wide smile spread across her face.

The girl, the same cold, emotionless girl who had spoken only one word to her was descending the path from the juniper tree with the brightest grin upon her face that Lina had ever seen.



The girl that was being addressed raised her head. Small, crumpled pieces of pancake slid off her pale, stuffed cheeks and landed all over her plate and the table. "Mm?" she made a muffled sound to show that the maid had her full, well, almost full attention.

"Fork?" Lucy repeated again, holding up the silver utensil and waving it in front of the other. Kassia's eyes followed the fork suspiciously.