Jorihiel stood at the edge of the roof and stared out over the city. Late afternoon light gilt the sharp edges of the surrounding buildings gold, silver and brass, turning the seemingly endless facades of glass into molten pools of light that made his eyes ache. The freshening wind bore the faintest tang of salt and he shuddered as the taste reminded him of the slender bodies being examined in the morgue below. He was no stranger to violence or death but that pair of saltwater wizened youths made his skin crawl even as righteous anger bubbled in his belly.
The faint squeal of rusty hinges and a crunch of loose gravel alerted him to Celista’s presence as she stepped out the dark stairwell to join him on the roof. He didn’t bother turning around to face her, shoulders tensing beneath the soft fabric of his navy fog coat as the wind shifted just enough to engulf him in her warm, spicy scent as she came to stand next to him. His indigo eyes slid to the side, studying her as she took in the fiery vista. It was unusual for a Nephali living outside a tribe to appear so healthy and he wondered just what she was doing to manage the more physical manifestations of her gifts.
‘Leazil says the victims were definitely magically used and although she can’t taste the ritual, she found the seasoning of their terror delictible.’ She stared ahead blankly as she spoke, her hands gently chaffing the back of her arms despite the waves of heat that shimmered around them. ‘She’ll be busy doing the regular autopsy for a while and Miles is already looking through missing entity reports as well as calling Schroder about less formal complaints.’
The bitterness in her tone was not wholly unexpected but it still made him cringe inside. They both knew there was little chance of finding anyone to claim the bodies. It would fall to genetic tests and government records to restore the pair’s identities and even that was a long shot. There would always be tribal septs that eluded detection or wild manifestations of long dormant genes. Celista shrugged wearily as she turned back towards the roof access. ‘I suppose you will want to salvage what you can of your previous commitments.’
Jorihiel felt the weight of the past settle between them, a gaping rift that was still oozing and raw. It couldn’t be allowed to persist any further already having lead to the embarrassing scene in the station’s lobby, it was also a potentially fatal waste of mental and emotional resources. Celista had remained sealed tight during their time at the crime scene, only picking up the passive emotions around them. While he admired her control, Jorihiel knew she needed to be able to read people in depth in order to be an effective part of the investigation. ‘Actually, the lecture has been rescheduled for next week, so I was thinking of going out for a glide.’
‘I see,’ Celista sounded resigned as she started to walk back across the roof. He made a small, frustrated noise, she was making this more difficult than it had to be. She stopped and turned back to face him, ‘What?’
‘You should know what.’ He closed the distance between them in three strides. His hands closed on her bare arms before she had a chance to try and step aside only tightening as she tried to pull away. ‘It’s not healthy for you to be closed off so tightly, Elis. I want you to come out with me.’
She stiffened under his touch, her evergreen eyes going a bit glassy with the effort to block him out. Jorihiel gave her a little shake, ‘Stop that. You don’t need to hide from me Celista, I’m not some twenty-something rookie that’s going to end up with a sore wrist because I had the misfortune to annoy you.’ Wry amusement and concern coloured his words.