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Laffeetaffee

Artist | Professional | Varied
United States
I do oiled colored pencil and graphite art, and I do a little bit of graphic art. I do commissions for people over the internet for oil colored pencil and graphic drawings, but not yet for graphic art because I don't think I'm that good yet, especially to be paid for it.

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   There was a sharp snap next to him as Norman pulled the car into the muddy lot. “Ouch, shit…” Ashley fumbled with her hair next to him, and Norman parked the car in front of a large steel hangar in the middle of a vehicle graveyard. Piles of broken cars created hills into the distance, and a heavy material handler sorted through the empty shells of the cars.
   Norman looked sideways at Ashley, and felt a strange twinge in his chest. She was twisted sideways, tugging at the tangled band which had held her hair together in a ponytail. He gazed curiously at her hair which was shorter than he expected, then looked out the window quickly to avoid staring. She grunted again, and when he looked back, she was running her fingers through her hair, her back arched against this seat. This time, he didn’t look away quick enough.
   “What?” she asked, gazing sideways at him around her arms. He felt his face heat up, and picked nervously at the steering wheel.
   “Nothing.” It was useless to pretend, so he racked his mind for a better answer. “You just… um.” He threw a sideways glance at her. “You look good with your hair down.”
   For the first time, Norman was at the end of the awkward silence. The rain tapped against the top of the car, filling the space with a low roar.
   “Well, you look good…” Ashley stammered a comeback. “... without a black eye and a nosebleed!” She pulled her hair back, fitting another band over her brown hair.
   Norman shook with silent laughter. “Oh, good one. You got me there.” He fitted his firearm under his jacket. “Come on, I think that’s the owner.”
   “Wait a second.” Ashley’s voice was muffled a bit as Norman opened the car door. He looked at her as she pressed a thumb to her lip. “Maybe… maybe we shouldn’t let them know we’re the police,” she said.
   Norman was silent for a moment, then closed the car door. “Why not?”
   “I just... I feel like it’s a bad idea,” she said, pulling Norman’s leather coat over her shoulders. “If you sold a stolen car to the Origami Killer, would you talk to the cops?” She shifted against the seat. “Two people looking for a car to buy are a lot less intimidating than two cops looking for a stolen car.”
   Norman absorbed her words. “And if the killer works here and we happen to find him right now?”
   Ashley ran a thumb across her lip. “Then… we’ll just… fuck, I don’t know.” She rubbed her forehead. “I just have a bad feeling about this. It’s not like Nathaniel.”
   “Well, Nathaniel wasn’t exactly friendly either,” said Norman. “Look, I’ll do all the talking. You just keep one hand on your sidearm, okay?” Ashley nodded, doubt lined in her face. Cherishing the moments that he was dry, Norman opened the car door and stepped out into the mud.
   He moved towards the steel hangar, glancing back to be sure Ashley was following him. The interior of the hangar came into view, revealing an empty space bordered by tables and heavy machinery. A small office took up the front corner of the hangar, and Norman stepped towards it cautiously. There was no one inside. He looked out at the materials handler. It appeared the driver was the only man on the property. Norman threw Ashley an optimistic glance and she returned it with a nervous one, tightening her hands on the coat.
   Norman walked through the rain towards the heavy tractor. He approached it from the side, and spotted a muscular dark man in the driver’s seat. The man didn’t appear to have seen him, and Norman stood as close as he could to the giant tractor.
   “Hey!” He held a hand over his forehead to block the rain as he looked upward. “Excuse me!” The man turned and looked at him, and Norman noticed the intricate tattoos lining the man’s large arms. He felt a nervous tremor as the man turned off the tractor and stood up. This man was huge.
   Norman stepped back as the man climbed down from the tractor and landed in the mud, standing to full height so that Norman looked up at him. The man threw his dark eyes to Ashley, then they fell back to Norman. “Whatta you want?” the man asked in more of a growl than a voice.
   Norman racked up his courage. “I’m Agent Jayden, FBI, and this is Officer Gibbons. We’re here to ask you a few questions about a car you acquired three years ago.”
   The man’s expression didn’t change. “Okay?”
   Norman motioned to the hangar. “Can we get out of the rain?”
   Without a word, the man stepped past him, heading for the hangar. Norman moved after him, and he felt Ashley bump his shoulder as she walked close to him. He didn’t need to look at her to see the nervous expression on her face. They passed under the curtain of rain and entered the steel hangar which roared from the rainfall.
   The man leaned his back against the outside wall of the office, watching Norman with a glare.
   “Can I ask your name?” said Norman.
   For a while, the man simply glared at him. “Jack.”
   “Okay, Jack.” Norman folded his arms over his chest. “We’re looking for a 1983 Chevrolet Malibu that passed through your yard about three years ago. I don’t care if it was stolen, or the fact that fake plates were made for it. I just want to know who owns it.”
   The steel creaked as Jack moved off of it, standing inches away from Norman. Though the man was menacing, Norman still only felt a fraction of the discomfort he felt when standing against Blake.
   “You think I remember every car that’s passed through my lot in the past three years, legal or not?” said Jack. “I don’t know about your damn car. Now get the hell outta here.” Jack moved away towards the curtain of rain.
   “That’s too bad,” said Norman. “Because if you sold the car to the Origami Killer, you’ve aided in six, seven,” Norman ticked his fingers, “eight murders.”
   Jack stopped in his tracks, and Norman felt Ashley move closer to him. The man turned, a look of murder on his face. “Good luck proving that, Mr. X-Files.” Jack stepped through the rain.
   Ashley let out a long breath. “Well, that got us nowhere.” She flexed her hands on the leather jacket. “Now what?”
   “Now,” said Norman, pulling his glasses from his pocket. “We prove it.” Ashley looked around as he pulled the glove over his right hand.
   “I highly doubt you’re going to find evidence of a car that was here three years ago,” she said.
   “No,” said Norman. “But maybe I can dig up some evidence against Jack to have him brought to the station. He might be more willing to talk there.” He glanced up and saw the materials handler swing into motion. “Why don’t you see if you can find a computer or a log somewhere. Maybe he keeps a history on all the cars he’s sold.” He pressed a finger to his glasses. “ARI recording. Location fix on four seven zero two three. Note date and time.”
   Ashley swung the coat from her shoulders, and moved towards the office. With another anxious glance at the tractor, Norman held out his hand and sent a bright beam through the shop. Not surprisingly, a list scrolled endlessly, highlighting key elements such as blood, gasoline, hair, and footprints. Norman highlighted the blood which branched into four different blood types, one of which belonged to Jack’s. It was an auto shop. Blood wasn’t exactly criminal in a place like this.
   Norman tapped on Jack’s name, and a quick summary of text appeared. Apparently, Jack had a deeper history than Norman thought. The man was a known car thief, and had spent time in prison for various fraud charges, including license plates. Norman looked around at the hangar. The lot was basically a trading ground for stolen vehicles.
   He moved carefully to the office where Ashley hovered over an old computer. “Finding anything?” he asked.
   “Nothing yet. He’s had close to two-hundred Malibus come through here. I’m trying to search by sales but it’s so backed up.”
   Norman held his hand over the office floor, sending a radial pulse. “I’ll see if he’s got any logs hidden somewhere.” The first list moved over, and a second list scrolled next to it. Coffee mug, dried cannabis, pump-action Remington, Playboy, among other things Norman didn’t care to know about. He pressed a finger against the list. “Text─” He froze suddenly. One of the items on the list highlighted. Skull fragment.
   A lump of fear rose in his throat. He tapped the item, and it moved to the center of his vision. Blood was one thing. A skull was something completely different. Norman sent out another wave, and he saw a flash behind him. He turned, and a red square formed over a wide metal sheet on the ground at the other end of the hangar.
   He looked back at Ashley who was still focused on the computer. Then he moved toward the metal sheet. He hadn’t expected to find another body in the process of looking for the Origami Killer. As he approached the sheet, a slight hissing rose above the sound of the rain. The sheet covered what appeared to be a long tub built right into the ground. Norman kneeled carefully. He sent out another radial beam which raised another box of text. Skull fragment. Fractured DNA.
   With a deep breath, he gripped the metal sheet and raised it upward, leaning sideways to see underneath.
   At first it seemed to be a grimy pool of water about a foot deep. Norman leaned forward and held his glove over the water. Red text flashed in front of him. Hydrofluoric acid. He pulled his hand away, heart hammering. Hydrofluoric acid was a lot stronger than the traditional acetic acid that was used in auto shops, unless someone wanted to melt their car. Or...
   A small white object captured his attention near the far edge of the pool. The red square narrowed around it. Norman didn’t need to read the text to know what it was. He let the metal sheet slam down.
   “Ash─”
   The sheet metal screeched as Norman was knocked forward onto it. It took a moment for his nerves to register the agonizing pain on the back of his head. As he propped himself up, the metal bent under his weight and the acid rolled forward, lapping against his arm and sending up smoke. He scrambled away from it, shaking the acid off his arm.
   Before he could look around him, something grabbed a fistfull of his hair, yanking him back from the acid pool. Automatically he grabbed for the arm with both hands, letting out a hoarse cry as he twisted his body and kicked back with his legs. In a blind panic, he plunged one hand into his jacket and drew his pistol, firing it behind him.
   He dropped onto his side, spotting a pair of legs in front of him. Immediately, he swung his gun forward, but shrieked as a dark fist closed over his wrist, pinching hard so that the pistol fell with a clatter onto the concrete. The fist drew up, pulling him with it, and his breath was suddenly choked as a strong arm wrapped around his neck, pinning him to the man behind him.
   Norman clenched the man’s arm, struggling to breath. He already knew who his attacker was. Frantically, his eyes darted to the office where Ashley was nowhere to be seen. He felt a desperate hope shoot through him. Ashley had the sense to hide.
   “Where you at, Miss CSI?” Jack growled close to Norman’s ear. “You’re slowing the party down. Or do I need to scrub your boyfriend’s face a bit to get you to come out?”
   Norman clenched his eyes shut, breathing heavily through his teeth. Every slight movement he made was countered by Jack’s strength, forcing him to stand directly in front of him.
   “Do I have to make this clear?” Jack shifted behind him and Norman felt cold steel against his temple. Terror streaked through him. “I’ll let you choose,” called Jack. “A bullet in the head, or a face-full of acid? Personally, I wouldn’t want to melt out those pretty green eyes of his.”
   “Get out of here, Ashley!” Norman groaned as Jack’s arm tightened around his neck and the end of the pistol pushed his head sideways. His vision darkened around the edges and his teeth began to tingle.
   “We’re gonna play a little game,” said Jack. “I’m gonna count to five, and then X-Files here is gonna take a swim. But don’t quote me on that.” Jack let out a guttural laugh. “My numbers have been known to be off.” Norman pulled against Jack’s arm as Jack hauled him towards the acid. “One.”
   “Don’t!” Norman cried as he stumbled. His heart raced painfully and his temples throbbed. Jack laughed as he kicked the metal sheet aside.
   “Two.”
   Norman thrashed side to side, clawing into Jack’s skin. His vision turned white as a heavy blow struck the side of his head. “Something tells me he don’t want to die!” Jack roared. “Three!”
   “You really think you’re gonna get away with this?” said Norman through his clenched jaw. “The police will come looking for us. They’ll find you.”
   “That’s what the last cop said before I blowtorched his mouth shut,” said Jack. “I’m running out of numbers, Miss CSI! Four!”
   The smoke clouded Norman’s vision as Jack twisted, leaning Norman over the pit of acid. Red text blinked in front of him, warning him of the imminent danger. Norman felt his body go numb. This was really happening.
   “Five!”
   Norman felt his body drop, then suddenly he was caught mere inches from the frothing liquid. “Well look who decided to show her pretty face.”
   Norman was yanked upwards into a standing position. His muscles were on fire, and he felt his heart nearly stop. Ashley stood in the doorway of the office, breathing heavily and pistol held at her side.
   Jack laughed behind him. “Lose the gun, sweetheart.”
   “Let him go,” said Ashley. Norman could hear the terror in her voice. He flexed his hands against Jack’s arm, wishing desperately that the man would grow just a little bit tired.
   “You don’t make the orders around here, princess,” said Jack. The gun tilted against Norman’s head. “You want to see me decorate the shop with his brains?”
   Norman watched Ashley desperately through the ARI. She’d already made the mistake of showing herself. If she lost the gun, there’d be nothing to stop Jack from killing them both. Ashley looked at him, and her wide-eyed expression was replaced with a fierce glare of determination. It made his blood run cold. Her fingers opened, and her pistol fell to the floor.
   “Jesus woman,” said Jack. “I shoulda just shot you both when you got here if I known it was gonna be this easy.”
   “And we didn’t even need the ARI to know you were hiding something.” Ashley’s voice was strange, louder than her normal tone. She glanced between Jack and Norman, her eyes tense.
   “The fuck you talking about, ARI?” said Jack through a laugh. “Why don’t you do me a favor and kick your piece this way. Easy.” The steel pressed against Norman’s head. Of all the times he had to be wearing the ARI, it had to be now. He couldn’t signal Ashley with his eyes to not comply.
   Ashley pushed the pistol away with her foot so that it spun across the floor. “The ARI can see things that you can’t,” she continued in her strange voice. “That’s how we knew you sold the car to the Origami Killer.” Again, her eyes flashed in Norman’s direction, and it all clicked. She wanted him to use the ARI.
   “Put your hands behind your head, bitch,” said Jack. “And get on your knees.” Norman watched as she slowly raised her hands behind her ponytail, and sank to the ground. Apprehension mixed with his terror as he pulled at Jack’s arm. What in God’s name was her plan?
   Ashley seemed to have lost her voice, and she stared wide-eyed at Norman. He knew what she wanted him to do, but it’d be a miracle if he could do it. He took a deep breath. In a burst of panic, Norman pushed against the man behind him, and in the second Jack yanked him straight again, Norman sent out a beam of light. It travelled across the floor and over Ashley’s body, and that’s when he saw it. The text pump-action Remington hovering next to her.
   He felt a pop in his knee and he spasmed in pain. A loud cry escaped him as he collapsed onto his knees, only to have his head yanked back by the hair again, gun to his ear.
   “You think I’m playing around, X-Files?” The gun pressed harder. “Get up.”
   Norman caught a glimpse of Ashley’s face as he rose shakily to his feet. The determination had left her eyes, and only terror remained. He had to do something. Anything to get Jack’s attention off of her.
   “Why do they call you Mad Jack?” said Norman. He tilted his head slightly. “Did you get that name in prison? That’s not a typical name for someone’s bitch.” He groaned as Jack clenched the back of his neck, forcing his head down towards the acid bath.
   “You wanna see what hell looks like without eyelids?” The gun practically drilled into the back of Norman’s head.
   “Don’t! Don’t, please!” Ashley’s voice had genuine panic. Norman’s heart raced as he stared at the swirling acid.
   “You really have the balls to do it, Jack?” The terror melted away as Norman felt powerful anger take over. He balled his fists, glaring into the acid. “Why don’t you prove it?”
   “Oh, I will. I’ll prove it to your sweet girlfriend over there too, don’t you worry.”
   Norman clenched his eyes shut, red hot fury flowing through him. “Sorry, but I don’t think she’ll be impressed. Nice magnum by the way. Compensating for something?”
   The gun clicked. “Compensate a bullet up your ass, bitch!”
   Norman felt the corner of his mouth rise. “You mad, Jack?”
   The pressure of the gun moved away.
   His elbow was deep in Jack’s gut, and Norman launched himself to the ground before he knew what was happening. As he covered his head, explosive pops echoed around him. Eerie silence fell, and then there was a heavy splash.
   It took him a moment for him to breath again. He raised his head and looked behind him. Jack was gone, and a sickening sizzle rose from the vat of acid. The events of the last few seconds caught up to him one at a time, and Norman put it all together. He’d come so close to dying he could almost taste it. A surreal numbness fell over him. He was still alive.
   A bolt of panic dashed through him, and he twisted to look at the office door. Ashley’s form had vanished, and then Norman heard a groan. Something moved on floor.
   He scrambled onto his feet and sprinted, dropping to his knees at the doorway. Ashley stared up at him, flat on her back with the shotgun held to her chest. Her whole body trembled. Norman thought his heart would burst through his chest as held his hand over her body and sent out a beam of light. He let out the heaviest sigh of his life.
   “We did it,” Ashley whispered, and a terrified smile played on her lips. “I had a plan and it worked.”
   The office grew brighter as Norman pulled off his sunglasses. “You bet it did,” he said, taking the shotgun from her. He set it to the side and put his hand on Ashley’s shoulder to raise her up.
   “I didn’t get us killed,” she said, bracing herself with one hand against the floor and rubbing her face with the other. “And… Jesus, I killed a guy.”
   Norman cast a glance at the sizzling vat of acid. “You killed the shit out of him.” His senses came back to him, and he pinched the bridge of his nose as he laughed. Then he collapsed on his side next to her, shaking in uncontrollable laughter.
   He rolled onto his back, his laughter breaking as his beaten scalp touched the ground. Gradually he quieted, breaking into a fit of snorts every few seconds. He stared up at the ceiling which was plotted with holes, and ran a hand over his face. It felt good to be alive.
   Finally, he sat up, catching his breath. Ashley hadn’t moved, and her face was tense in concern. “Should I be worried?” she asked.
Norman smiled, bringing his knees up so he could rest his elbows against them, forehead in his hand. He nodded towards the acid bath which was still sizzling. "You want to call it in?"
   "We can't not call it in," said Ashley. She put her face in her hands. "Not that it will get us anywhere."
   "What do you mean?" said Norman.
   "I couldn't find anything on a 1983 Chevy Malibu." Ashley closed her eyes as she ran a thumb over her lip. "It wasn't anywhere any of the logs. He probably didn’t keep a record of any illegal sales just in case…” She sighed. “... just in case anyone went looking.”
   Norman turned the ARI glasses over in his hands. “I’m really tired of dead ends,” he said. He slipped the glasses over his face, and held his palm outward as a beam of light traveled through the office. The list scrolled next to him. “Filter,” he said. “Text.” The list paused for a second, then a second list appeared.
   He was aware of Ashley watching him as he scrolled through the second list. It occurred to him how odd it must look from her perspective. He flicked away the irrelevant items until he had a small list of of unusual books.
   Norman stood up, dusting off his suit, and held out his hand for Ashley to grab. “There’s a few handwritten logs in the filing cabinet behind you,” he said as Ashley stood up next to him. “I’m going to check in the desk.” Ashley’s wide eyes filled with focus as she turned away from him, and Norman kneeled in front of the desk as he searched through the drawers.
   The desk was filled mostly with magazines and old receipts. Norman pushed aside a glass pipe, rifling through scattered paperwork. It seemed Jack did most of the business transactions himself. A sick feeling past through Norman as he remembered Jack was still dissolving in the acid bath. He rubbed the bruise on the back of his head. Jack could cook a while longer.
   “Norman…”
   Norman glanced up at Ashley who had paused over a thick leather notebook. He stood up and moved towards her, looking over her shoulder. “2005 Toyota Corolla, new tires, paint job, plates…” He turned a page of the notebook, energy flowing through him. “1995 Corvette, Dodge Charger, plates and tags. This is it.” He put a finger to his glasses. “Scan, 1983 Cheverolet Malibu. Ashley, start at the first page and keep turning the pages until I tell you to stop,” he said.
   Ashley flipped the pages to the front. Norman focused as red squares appeared over each entry. They rearranged themselves as each page turned. “Quicker,” he said. She put her thumb against the pages and flipped them so that they were nearly a blur. “Stop.” Norman stared at an entry as Ashley held the notebook open. “Okay, keep going.” The air blew against his face as she flipped the pages again. He took note of the years on the entries, gradually heading upward. It would have been anywhere between 2006 and 2011 that the car was sold.
   “Stop,” he said. He moved closer to Ashley’s shoulder as he stared at the entry. He pressed his finger against it. “1983 red Chevrolet Malibu January 2007… blue paint job, tires, oil, plates.” His heart quickened as he read the details. “Sold April 2007. Paco Mendez.”
   Ashley turned to him, excitement in her eyes. “You think this is the car?”
   “This is the car,” said Norman, forming a square in front of him using his hands. “And this could be the killer. Paco Mendez. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.” He drew his hands apart, forming a summary with an image of a man in front of him. He scanned the summary, feeling a cloud of dread fall over him. He hadn’t expected this. Scrapyards and mud were one thing, but this…
   Norman crossed his arms and pressed a knuckle to his mouth. The more he thought about it, the more he knew he didn’t want to do it. It took him a while to notice Ashley still watching him, the leather notebook closed against her chest. Norman cleared his throat.
   “Maybe you should…” He motioned toward the doorway. “You should call that in.”
   “Are you sure?” she said, narrowing her eyes at him. “You look kind of sick.”
   Norman nodded, adjusting the ARI. “There’s not going to be much left of him if we wait around.” Ashley’s brown eyes clenched shut, and she shook her head as she pulled her phone from her back jeans pocket. She moved out of the office, and Norman turned back to the text.
   He flicked through the summary which was much longer than he anticipated. But the more he read, the more he became convinced that Paco was not the Origami Killer. The man was obsessed with two things: drugs and sex, in any shape or form. Besides a brief period in jail for drug trafficking, Paco’s rap sheet was fairly clear. Even Norman could see the man was a pig, not the deeply disturbed killer he was looking for.
   Norman swept the summary away and removed his glasses, rubbing his eyes. Origami Killer or not, Paco owned the killer’s car. And that meant there was a fairly good chance he knew the Origami Killer himself.
   Norman turned to the doorway, and realized Ashley’s voice was growing louder. He stepped out of the office and moved towards her.
   “Wait, what?” Ashley slowly spun in a circle, head tilted sideways against her phone. “No I didn’t hear that!” She looked at Norman, and her eyes grew wide. “That’s… that’s great!” The forced joy in her voice nearly made Norman laugh, and he ran a hand over his mouth to be sure he wasn’t smiling. “Yeah, we’ll be right there.” She straightened and looked at Norman, terror lined in her face. It stopped Norman’s heart cold, and he slowly lowered his hand.
   “They tracked Ethan Mars to a motel,” she said. “He’s been arrested.”
Heavy Rain: ARI Chapter 12: Mad Jack
Chapter 1: The Dog fav.me/da8aocw
Chapter 2: ARI fav.me/da8slgu
Chapter 3: Briefing fav.me/da98lj1
Chapter 4: She-Devil fav.me/da9qdbj
Chapter 5: Good Cop, Bad Cop fav.me/daairtc
Chapter 6: Separate Ways fav.me/dab5787
Chapter 7: The Well fav.me/dabu9vk
Chapter 8: Karma fav.me/dadczmz
Chapter 9: Fugitive fav.me/daebg1w
Chapter 10: Triptocaine fav.me/daf9cff
Chapter 11: Clue fav.me/dahv3ff

This chapter was SO much fun to write! And we've seen a new side to Norman. He learned how to laugh!
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   The station was starting to feel like home, especially because it was nearly empty of officers. Norman stepped through the sliding glass doors, pausing to pull the soaked leather jacket from his shoulders. A spray of water hit him, and he turned, raising a hand to his face as Ashley shook the water from her hair. She sighed heavily and looked sideways at him, her hair plastered to her face.
   “I’m really starting to hate being wet,” she said.
   “Well, at least you get to stay inside,” said Norman. He shook his leather jacket so that the floor was now a water puddle.
   “Wait, you’re leaving?” said Ashley, wringing the water from her ponytail.
   “I’ve got about fifty buildings to scout,” said Norman. He felt a weight fall on his shoulders as he remembered how hopeless the task seemed. “One of them has to be where the killer is keeping Shaun Mars.”
   “You’re going to check each location one by one?” Ashley stared sideways at him, hands on her hips. “What about the killer’s car?”
   It took Norman a moment to switch his mind back to the original plan. Identifying the killer’s car. Would he even have time now? He looked at Ashley, apprehension in his chest. “The traffic surveillance…”
   Ashley nodded. “Didn’t you say you needed authorization to view it?” Before Norman could answer, she moved toward the nearest empty cubicle. He sighed as he moved after her. He’d never seen anyone so eager to do anything, even if it was solving a crime. The keys tapped loudly as Ashley worked, bent over the computer without sitting in the chair. Norman ran a hand over his face.
   “Why do you want to help me, Ashley?” He felt a nervous jolt as she paused. She stood up quickly, looking at him with slightly narrowed eyes.
   “You’re asking me this now?” she said. Norman struggled to speak, frozen solid by the look on her face. Then she shrugged her shoulders and bent towards the computer again. “The way I see it, I have three choices. I can tackle this on my own which is a guaranteed failure. Or I can follow Blake and arrest some innocent man who will probably be beaten to death before he can even fake a confession. Or─” She tapped the keyboard and stood up, facing him. “─I can help the only person who’s got the first actual lead in three years, even if he is an antisocial jerk.” She nodded to the computer and the corner of her mouth rose. “Try it now.”
   The feeling came back to his limbs as Norman looked down at the computer. He leaned forward, and closed the tab with the mouse. “Not with this.” He stood up straight, pulling the ARI from his pocket. He felt Ashley’s eyes on him as he fitted the glove onto his hand. Throwing a glance to her, he moved towards his office and footsteps behind him told him she was following him.
   He opened the door and stepped into the small space. Ashley closed the door as he sat at his desk.
   “Do you… need me to stand somewhere specific?” said Ashley.
   “Just stay close to my desk.” Norman fitted the glasses over his eyes, and the environment turned dark as the endless black ocean surrounded him. “Wouldn’t want Nessie to eat you.”
   “What will eat me?” There was a scramble as he guessed Ashley was spinning around. He smiled guiltily.
   “Nothing.” He formed a square with his hands. “Full Throttle Auto Expo. September 7, 2010. 1:27 P.M.” The ethereal television screens appeared as he moved his hands away, and this time a video appeared on each one from different angles. He tilted his head as he examined each one. There was a video of the entrance with different cars filing in and out, one of the street outside the expo with vehicles whizzing by, and several others at different angles around the car show. He leaned forward, resting his elbows on the desk and clasping his hands together in front of his mouth.
   “What do you see?” said Ashley. It was strange to hear her voice yet not be able to see her.
   “Nothing yet.” Norman watched the cars file out of the expo on the first screen. “At this point I’m looking for a man with a kid, or an old sedan.” He pressed a hand to the screen, and it enlarged over the others. “The killer would have left almost immediately to avoid suspicion. And he would have come out at either of these locations.” He moved the screen to the side, enlarging a second screen revealing another entrance to the expo.
   “Have you─” Ashley fell silent. Norman adjusted the screens in front of him.
   “Have I what?” he asked. Ashley made a noise and he felt the desk shift which he guessed she was leaning against.
   “Have you ever considered becoming a mime.” It was a statement, not a question. Norman turned his head in her direction. There was a slight smack. “I’m sorry, I’ll just shut up.”
   He shook his head slowly. The videos in front of him were playing in ten minute loops. For the moment, all he noticed were high-dollar vehicles lining in and out of the car expo. This was actually very fortunate. An old sedan would stand out against the valuable cars. Norman just hoped the killer had taken one of these two entrances, and not a back entrance that the surveillance had missed.
   “Do you eat?”
   Norman looked sideways at the empty space next to him. “Do I eat?” he repeated.
   “I just… I mean I never see you eat,” said Ashley. “It might help. You know, with the um… withdrawal.” They were silent for a moment. Norman felt a slight humor over his confusion. This seemed to be what they were best at. Awkward silences.
   The desk moved again. “I’m just gonna go see what I can find.” Her voice moved further away. “Don’t… just don’t pass out or anything.” The door opened and closed.
   Norman rested his head back in his hands as he stared at the cars. He was glad Ashley was speaking to him again, but that didn’t make her any easier to understand. She could say some of the most powerful things, and two minutes later barely be able to talk at all. None of the other officers seemed to even acknowledge her existence, probably because they had all given up on her as Norman had the day before. He felt a deep regret burn in his throat. That might have been why she reacted the way she did toward his outburst. Just another cop unable to deal with her infectious, clueless personality.
   He cupped his hands, creating an ethereal baseball. It rolled back and forth on the desk between his hands. So far, there was nothing but shiny, expensive cars in the cameras with the occasional family vehicle filing in between. The family cars looked well taken care of, not the overused sedan that he was looking for. He sighed as he rolled the ball from one hand to the other. It wasn’t out of the question that the killer was driving a brand new car, and had only slacked off on the tires. Or perhaps he drove his car over rough terrain frequently, wearing the tires down. The more he doubted, the heavier his shoulders seemed to become. If he needed to, he’d analyze each and every vehicle and their tires until his nose bled.
   He glanced up at the cars, trying to guess the brands of the vehicles. New cars these days looked nothing like their standard counterparts. The Ford Mustang looked exactly like a Chevrolet Camaro, except it had grill-like tail lights. Why would someone choose a Mustang over a Camaro then, if they were practically identical? A shiny Corvette drove by, rain spilling over the windshield. Now that’s a car that was unique. Even Ashley would be able to identify that. Norman gave himself a mental pinch. She was right. He really was an antisocial jerk. The screen was empty for a moment, and Norman rolled the ball between his fingers. He wondered what she was bringing him anyway. He glanced up at the screen, and the ball rolled past his hand over the side of the desk, vanishing into the floor.
   The left screen paused as he touched his gloved finger to it. He bolted forward in his chair, his heart pounding. This had to be it. The timing was right. The location was right. An old vehicle was frozen in the middle of the screen as it drove through the exit.
   Norman pressed his left hand to the screen, drawing his gloved finger outwards. A text box appeared with a list of information. 1983 blue Chevrolet Malibu. Plate I.D BAK967. Registration inconclusive. Norman felt a rush of excitement as well as apprehension. The plates weren’t registered. It was most likely a stolen vehicle. And a stolen old sedan was most definitely the killer’s car.
   He touched his gloved thumb and index finger to the paused video, drawing his fingers apart so the image zoomed close to the windshield. It was no use. The rain obscured the view inside the car. He leaned back in his chair, running a hand over his face. Stolen car, false plates, and no view of the driver. He waved his hand, throwing the screens into the darkness. It wasn’t over yet.
   He touched the details of the car. “Surveillance.” He spread his hands apart, creating a network of new televisions. He gazed at them all. Each video was a rainy day. And each was conveniently obscured. Determination racked Norman’s nerves. “Sort by date and time,” he said. The videos reorganized themselves, and Norman pressed his left hand against the first one. “Geoanalysis,” he said. The ocean vanished around him, and he was once again hovering in the blue stratosphere of the Earth. He stood up as the ground zoomed up beneath him, coming to a stop over the city of Philadelphia. A red marker pinpointed the location of the camera which captured the footage of the car. Norman kneeled, running his finger against it. The street was on the outskirts of the city, near an old scrapyard. He touched the location with his gloved fingers, and a text box rose in front of him. “Auto Salvage and Repair.” Norman felt his mouth spread in an involuntary smile. This was it.
   “Oh god… Norman!” Something bumped into him, and he felt pressure underneath his arm. Norman wrenched his glasses off his face and saw that Ashley was pulling him up by the arm.
   “Ashley, I’m fine.” He stood up, coming level with her wide-eyed face. “I figured it out.”
   She sighed and let go of his arm. “Christ, I thought you were passing out again.” She ran a trembling thumb across her lip. “What did you figure out?”
   “The killer’s car,” said Norman, removing his glove. “It’s a 1983 Chevrolet Malibu. Stolen. And I know where to find out who bought the car.” He stuffed the glove and the glasses into his pocket. “It’s on the edge of town. I doubt they’re going to be friendly, so let’s… let’s…”
   The room spun slowly. Norman pressed a hand to his head, stepping backward to regain his balance. He pinched his eyes shut and opened them again. His limbs weren’t tingling, but he still felt as though he were on a ship at sea.
   He was pulled to the side as Ashley moved him towards the chair. Shakily, he sat down, resting his arms on the surface and leaning forward to press his forehead onto the desk. A terrifying thought dashed through his mind. He wasn’t going to take the triptocaine. Not in front of her.
   He felt Ashley grip his arm. “I’m right here,” she said, and Norman found himself hanging on to her voice. “I’m right here with you. I’m not going anywhere.”
   Norman sat up, pressing his hands to his face. He pulled his hands away and gazed at them. There was no blood. Relief filled him as the room slowly began to mold itself into its proper dimensions. He looked at Ashley who was knelt next to him, her wide eyes practically burning through his.
   “God, you’re pale,” she said. She pushed a styrofoam cup across the desk towards him. “Here, drink this. I figured it’s the only thing you would have.”
   Norman picked up the cup which was pleasantly warm in his hands. As he brought it under his nose, the salty smell of the soup rose to meet him. He drank the savoury liquid and felt his core heat up slowly. It was a different warmth from the triptocaine, but somehow it gave him more satisfaction. He set the half empty cup on the table as he breathed deeply, letting the meager nourishment deliver energy to him. It took him a moment to realize Ashley was gazing at him as if wanting to ask a question. He looked at the cup, then handed it to her.
   She took the cup from him and closed her eyes as she raised it to her mouth. The sound of her breath echoed in the styrofoam, and she leaned forward, setting the now empty cup onto the table.
   Norman shook his head as he rested his elbows on the desk, rubbing his eyes. “This is going to kill us both.”
   “Yeah.” Ashley sighed next to him. “They say even the styrofoam that it comes in will give you cancer.”
   He was still for a moment. It was hard to tell if she was being serious or not. He looked sideways at her as she spun the empty cup idly on the table. It was impossible to hold it in any longer. “Have you always been like this?” he asked before he could stop himself.
   Ashley stopped spinning the cup. Her eyes locked on his, lit in confusion. “In a sitting position?”
   He caught his forehead in his hands. “Strange, I mean.” A nervous tremor went through him, and he softened his voice. “You said it yourself. You’re strange sometimes.”
   For a moment, Ashley simply gazed at him. He worried he might have opened the old wound between them, but then she turned her attention back to the cup.
   “Well, ever since Cas─” Her eyes closed for a second, and she opened them slowly. “Since my partner died, I haven’t been quite the same I guess.” The cup slipped from her hand and rolled across the desk. “Not that I was Sherlock Holmes before, but since he’s been gone, I feel like I just don’t… have a hold on things.” Pain seemed to shine in her eyes, and Norman recognized the expression he’d seen in the car with her. He stared at the surface of the desk.
   “You really loved him, didn’t you?” he said.
   Ashley moved next to him. Her mouth opened as if to say something, then she bit her lip, gazing away from him. Norman twisted in his seat.
   “Sorry, I didn’t mean to pry,” he said quickly. He breathed an exasperated sigh. He really couldn’t tell the difference between being open and being offensive. Most likely, he was both at the same time. Once again, he was calling her strange when he had no right to say anything at all.
   Ashley shook her head, a small smile playing at her lips. She looked up at him, her clueless expression shining behind her smile. “Need me to drive?”
   It took a moment for Norman’s nerves to settle. He fumbled with the ARI in his pocket. “You don’t think I can drive? I feel fine.” He stood up, waiting for the room to morph again, but the walls were rigid and he held his ground. An idea came to him, and he searched his pockets. “Plus, I want you to look at this.” He handed her Roman’s cell phone.
   She stared at it for a moment. “Yep, it’s a cell phone alright.”
   Norman sighed as he moved to the door, grabbing his dry leather coat from the wall. “It’s not mine.” He opened the door and she walked past him, turning the phone over in her hands. “I got it from a father of one of the victims. The killer gave it to him.”
   Ashley turned to him, a look of surprise in her eyes. “The killer? How do you know?”
   Norman motioned to the phone as they headed towards the sliding glass doors. “Just turn it on.” He began to work his arm into one of the jacket sleeves, then paused, watching Ashley as she stood by the doors with the phone held in front of her face. She rubbed her arm as she analyzed the phone, and tapped one foot on the ground. With a heavy sigh, Norman pulled his arm free of the jacket, then moved towards her, draping the jacket around her shoulders. She held it closed against her chest with one hand, throwing him a thankful glance.
   They stepped out into the rain, and Norman’s suit immediately became soaked and stuck to his skin. But for the first time since he arrived in Philadelphia, he didn’t care.
Heavy Rain: ARI Chapter 11: Clue
Chapter 1: The Dog fav.me/da8aocw
Chapter 2: ARI fav.me/da8slgu
Chapter 3: Briefing fav.me/da98lj1
Chapter 4: She-Devil fav.me/da9qdbj
Chapter 5: Good Cop, Bad Cop fav.me/daairtc
Chapter 6: Separate Ways fav.me/dab5787
Chapter 7: The Well fav.me/dabu9vk
Chapter 8: Karma fav.me/dadczmz
Chapter 9: Fugitive fav.me/daebg1w
Chapter 10: Triptocaine fav.me/daf9cff
-
Chapter 12: Mad Jack fav.me/dain80c

Sorry for the long wait! Got so many projects and I'm fighting my way through chapter 16 right now because I'm terrified of it... Got some nice Nahman/Ashley time in this chapter to simmer things down a bit I am a dummy! 
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Heavy Rain: ARI Ashley Gibbons by Laffeetaffee
Heavy Rain: ARI Ashley Gibbons
"Are you asking me?? Cuz it sounded like a rhetorical question."
She's a lot prettier than I originally pictured. Definitely Nahman's girl! I really hope she doesn't die...

Heavy Rain: ARI fav.me/da8aocw
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   Gray light filtered through the blocked windows of the burned apartment, creating shadows in the empty space. The tablet glowed as Norman held his hand over it, scanning it deeply. He sighed. “ARI comment. Circuits are fried. Hard drive is out. Looks like it was remotely detonated.”
   There was only one table in the room, and it was covered in fresh blood. Norman had already identified it as Ethan’s which explained why the man needed help escaping. A small bloodied stump of a finger lay on the table next to a rusty butcher knife. Had Norman not visited Roman the day before, he would be absolutely confused by the scene in front of him. As it was now, it all made perfect sense. This was a trial.
   The killer had been meticulous about the trials as well. There were no fingerprints except those of Ethan Mars, and no clues to suggest anyone else had been in the apartment. Norman leaned over the table, resting both hands on the surface. He was getting good at finding dead ends.
   There was a low creak behind him, and part of the sun was blocked from the doorway. Norman felt his heart sink. He ran a hand over his face, smudging the lenses of his glasses.
   “The place is clean,” he said. “You’re not going to disturb any evidence.” He leaned off the table and turned to face her as Ashley rested her shoulder against the wall, avoiding his gaze. Most of the other officers had left, and Norman had to sneak his way into the building to avoid Blake’s wrath. Finally being alone was the most relief he’d felt all day long, but he could tell that was about to abruptly end.
   Ashley looked at him, and Norman’s heart quickened as he spotted a hint of her usual wide-eyed expression. “I should have turned you in.” She ran a thumb slowly across her bottom lip, analyzing him.
   Norman rested his knuckles against the wood of the table. “Why didn’t you?” For a while there was only the pitter patter sound of rain against the windows. Ashley tilted her head, staring at the floor.
   “I guess I’m hoping you’ll suffer something worse. When this is all over.” She put her forehead in her hand, and Norman heard her sniff. Then she looked up at him, her eyes tense. “I know you think I’m stupid, useless, I slow the process down,” she spoke quickly as if she’d rehearsed it. “I can’t find a clue if it were to drop right in front of me with a neon sign. But at least I do what I know is right, and I do it with a clear conscience. I’m not doing this because I want a promotion or a shiny medal, or to get back home to a fancy desk in Washington.” She tensed her shoulders as she glared at him. “Just because you’re FBI doesn’t make you any better of a cop than me. It just gives you a higher paycheck.”
   She breathed heavily as if she’d been running. Norman was silent as he looked at her, the edges of her figure highlighted in the ARI. The anger in her eyes was broken by the nervous glint, giving her the energy of a child standing up to an adult. Somehow he guessed she’d had this argument before with someone else. He sighed and scratched a nail into the wood.
   “It takes more to be a good cop than to have good morals,” said Norman. Ashley’s eyes narrowed at him. He stepped forward, resting his hand at his side. “It takes courage. Knowing when to break and follow the rules. And putting yourself in danger to save someone else.” He leaned so that he was eye to eye with her. “I didn’t get this job because of my fancy Ph.D. I got it because I earned it.”
   She shook her head, folding her arms over her chest. “How the hell,” she said quietly, “do you get up in the morning, put on your expensive suit, and not completely fuck up every relationship you have with people?”
   Norman felt a pang of anger. He moved away, running his hand along the table. “And what makes you think I don’t?” He waved his hand at her. “Look, I don’t know how else to say I’m sorry, Ashley. I was a complete dick to you. I threw my opinion in your face and didn’t care how it made you feel. I─ I push people away, I isolate myself, and I hate it.” He paced back and forth, running his fingers through his hair. “I can’t connect with people. You’re the first person I’ve met in years who’s been nothing but helpful and… and caring, and I managed to make you my enemy. I can’t explain it.” He paused at the end of the table. “I don’t know why. I just can’t explain it.”
   They were both quiet for a moment. Norman hadn’t expected at any point in this investigation to be spilling his personal concerns to anyone, least of all someone he’d only known for a day. Somehow it felt refreshing to expose the side of him that he normally kept hidden. Whether she hated him or not, at least someone knew. He was only going to be in Philadelphia for a few days after all.
   Ashley nodded, plunging her hands into her jean pockets. “You can’t explain it…” She moved forward, slamming something small on the table. “Maybe this can explain it.”
   Norman’s face went numb at the sight of the blue vial. He raised the ARI sunglasses onto his forehead as Ashley moved against the wall, resting her back and folding her arms. His mind raced as he struggled to comprehend the situation. How did she find one of the vials? He’d been so careful, keeping them hidden in his coat pocket. Then a realization hit him. The vial he’d lost in his office… she must have found it before waking him up. Which meant she’d known about his addiction the whole time.
   A wave of shame fell over him. He ran a hand over his face, feeling his chest begin to ache. “It’s not what you think.”
   Ashley breathed a frustrated laugh, shifting against the wall. “Oh, it’s not? Well, that’s great. You only snort a little to take the edge off or is the FBI into hiring fucking junkies?” She trembled slightly as she glared at him. “You call my department fucked up… I can’t put one foot in front of the other without tripping... how could you even look me in the eye and say that with a tube of triptocaine under your desk?”
   As much as it angered him, Norman immediately felt his anger give way to guilt. He could argue back. Say it was none of her business. But after what he’d said to her, he felt in a way he deserved this. At the moment, he simply wanted to find closure, even if it meant she’d never speak to him again.
   Ashley sighed as she shook her head. “Jesus Christ, Norman…” She leaned off the wall and moved to the door, stopping just under the doorframe and leaning against it with her back to him.
   Norman scooped the vial in his gloved hand, pinching his bruised eye gently between his thumb and index finger. “It’s to offset the symptoms of ARI withdrawal,” he said.
   For a moment, Ashley was silent. Then she turned, an unbelieving smirk on her face. “ARI withdrawal?” she repeated.
   Norman removed the sunglasses from his forehead, holding it out for her to see. “Added Reality Interface. It’s experimental. Only a fifty-member program.” Ashley took the glasses from him, staring at the glowing ARI letters on the side. “Experimental meaning they don’t know the long term effects of overusage,” Norman continued. He held his gloved hand forward, and Ashley gazed at it. She ran a finger over the glowing receptors.
   “So they give you illegal drugs to treat the symptoms of an experimental mind-fryer?” said Ashley. She handed the glasses back to him.
   “No.” Norman stared down at the glasses as he turned them over in his hand. “That I learned from an outside source. It’s not entirely prescription, but it does help.” He looked up at her, and raised his eyebrow slightly. “You saw the effects of me not taking it when you found me unconscious on the floor.”
   Ashley gazed at him and rubbed her arm. “How can you be sure it’s not withdrawal from the triptocaine, not the ARI?”
   He breathed deeply, picking at one of the lights on the ARI. “I can’t.”
   Ashley was quiet as he stared at the glasses. A weight seemed to be lifting off them. Norman couldn’t tell if it was good or bad, but it felt better. Someone was finally in on his secrets. He didn’t think it was possible to tell someone so much in such a short time, but his trip to Philadelphia had been anything but average. He felt the same, but also different. And that was encouraging.
   Ashley sighed, and Norman looked up at her. “I don’t think you’re a junkie, Norman,” she said, her round eyes growing softer. He moved closer to her so that she had to look up at him. With any other person, he’d have felt uncomfortable.
   “And I don’t think you’re a useless cop,” he said. A similar sensation floated through him akin to the morning she’d spoken to him in the car. He took the time to observe the details of her face, her wide brown eyes, slightly slanted eyebrows, the sharp angles of her nose and jawline. She ran a thumb across her lip and turned away, face slightly red.
   “I guess that means I owe you an apology,” she said.
   “You don’t owe me anything,” said Norman. “You already saved my career and Ethan Mars. And if we’re lucky, we can still save Shaun.”
   Ashley smiled, and Norman felt his shame melt away at her wide-eyed expression. “You mean this thing doesn’t have built-in luck?” she said, nodding to the ARI in his hands. He spun it casually between his fingers.
   “It’s got a lot of things,” he said. “Unfortunately, luck isn’t one of them.”
   Ashley breathed out heavily, and Norman could sense the force in her seriousness. She looked to the side. “Well… does it have a set of wheels?” She jabbed her thumb towards the window. “They sort of stole my ride.”
   Norman couldn’t stop his smile. He pulled off the ARI glove and stuffed it into his coat pocket. Somehow it felt like things were locking into place. As if this was the way it should be. Shaun Mars was still in a watery hole, Ethan was most likely bleeding to death, and Blake was preparing for a month of gloating. But at least one thing was finally going right.
   “Come on,” he said, moving down the hallway. “I’ll give you a ride to the station.”
   They were both silent as they left the building and stepped into the rain. A few police officers still wandered the building, rounding up the police tape and speaking with onlookers. Ashley tilted her head back in the rain as Norman unlocked his car, and they ducked into the cab.
   She laughed lightly next to him as Norman fastened his seatbelt. “I can’t believe you did that to Blake,” she said, shaking her head. “You’d better hope you don’t run into him again or he might just try to shoot you and say you’re the Origami Killer.”
   Norman drummed his hands on the steering wheel. “I don’t know. I kind of miss doing the investigation with him.”
   “Well.” Ashley turned slightly towards him, a look of mocking contempt on her face. “Need me to pick up the slack on the police brutality and narcissism, Norman?”
   He laughed, taking his time to start the car and shift the gear. For once in this investigation, he wanted this moment to last as long as possible. “I’d love to see you try.”
Heavy Rain: ARI Chapter 10: Triptocaine
Chapter 1: The Dog fav.me/da8aocw
Chapter 2: ARI fav.me/da8slgu
Chapter 3: Briefing fav.me/da98lj1
Chapter 4: She-Devil fav.me/da9qdbj
Chapter 5: Good Cop, Bad Cop fav.me/daairtc
Chapter 6: Separate Ways fav.me/dab5787
Chapter 7: The Well fav.me/dabu9vk
Chapter 8: Karma fav.me/dadczmz
Chapter 9: Fugitive fav.me/daebg1w
-
Chapter 11: Clue fav.me/dahv3ff
Chapter 12: Mad Jack fav.me/dain80c

ERMERGERD Nahman's having a moment and it's so precious omslksjfhgn. Finally we match up with the stupid picture I made for it like a month ago.

fav.me/da74mv1
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   The spinning red and blue lights were the first to capture his attention through the haze of rain. Then it was the sheer number of police vehicles lined along the streets. Norman fought to suppress his laugh. It couldn’t be.
   An officer stepped to his car as he braked and rolled down the window. “I’m sorry, sir, this is a police zone,” said the officer. Norman held out his badge automatically.
   “Have they arrested Ethan Mars?” said Norman, ignoring the officer’s scowl. The officer shook his head.
   “We’re staking the place out. Patrol found a Crown Victoria matching the suspect’s vehicle.”
   Norman pulled the car forward, heart pounding. He didn’t know what was better luck─ that he’d stumbled on the stakeout in the process of an impossible search for the well, or that he’d gotten there before the police had time to arrest Mars. He scanned between the police cars, and spotted Blake’s form next to an old sedan parked near a burned apartment building. Without bothering to pull over, Norman stopped his car in the middle of the road and stepped out into the rain.
   The roar of the rain was almost deafening. He was standing next to Blake before he could hear the conversation.
   “...front and back. Remember we want a fight, not a fugitive.”
   “Come on, have a little faith. They’re not going anywhere.”
   “What’s going on?” said Norman.
   Blake turned to him, his back against the side of the car. Blake’s head dropped and Norman could hear his groan over the tapping of rain.
   “What does it look like, idiot?” said Blake, motioning to the apartment building. “We’ve got the killer surrounded. Looks like the Origami Killer is finally gonna be brought to justice.”
   Norman looked up at the building. This definitely wasn’t the place he’d expect to find the Origami Killer holed up. But definitely the sort of place to hide something a killer didn’t want to have discovered.
   He pressed his hand to the back of his neck to stop the flow of water from dampening his suit. “You haven’t gone inside yet?”
   “Of course not,” said Blake. “Then we’d have to arrest him. Nah, this Origami Killer is going down the police justice way. Just the thing he deserves.”
   A blaze of fury shot through Norman’s body. Blake was taking his arrogance to a whole new level. But Norman could tell despite Blake’s fantasies of being a hero cop, he hadn’t counted on Norman showing up at the scene.
   Norman moved past the sedan, stepping up onto the curb. There was a bustle of movement behind him.
   “Jayden, what the hell do you think you’re doing?”
   “I’m apprehending the suspect,” said Norman over his shoulder. Two policemen moved in on either side of him as he walked to the entrance of the building.
   “Are you a fucking imbecile? I just said we’re waiting!”
   “I’m tired of waiting.” Norman placed his hand on the doorknob. Quick splashes moved behind him, and he stumbled sideways as Blake shoved him out of the way.
   “What do you think you are, some sort of god damn hero?” Blake stepped up to him, and Norman forced himself to look him in the eye. “Gonna take all the credit for finding the Origami Killer? You’ve been here one day. I’ve been doing this for three years. So you can just fuck off, Norman.”
   Norman felt wicked energy flow through him. He gazed up at Blake and felt a sly smile tug at the corner of his mouth. “Having your team shoot the Origami Killer on the spot isn’t going to get you a Medal of Honor either, Blake. The only thing that’s going to get you spotlight is a confession, and Ethan Mars can’t exactly do that if he’s dead, can he?”
   Blake was silent for a moment, but Norman could see the gears turning in his head. Despite his confidence, Norman felt a river of terror. He didn’t know where this plan of his was taking him, but all he knew was the Ethan had to stay alive no matter what.
   A fierce smile spread across Blake’s face. “So this is the kinda war you want, Norman? Okay. Two can play this game.” Blake turned and motioned to the police behind him. A group of officers moved forward, and Blake set his hand on the doorknob. Then with a quick nod to the other officers, he threw the door open and stepped out of the way.
   The officers rushed inside one by one. They shouted to one another as they disappeared into the building. Norman drew his pistol from his jacket and darted through the doorway after them.
   The first room was empty. As he moved to the stairway, there was a frantic shout above him.
   “There! She’s climbing out one of the windows!”
   Norman bolted outside again, stepping sideways as he gazed up at the windows of the apartment. There was no sign of Ethan Mars, or anyone for that matter. Frantic apprehension gripped him, and he sprinted around the side of the building, vaulting over a low wooden fence. Splashes around him told him police were following, and he slid in the mud as he reached the back of the building.
   The area was clear. Tall buildings enclosed the back of the apartment, creating a network of alleyways flooded with water. Norman moved down the alleyway to his right, holding his gun steady. It sounded as if Ethan wasn’t alone, and Norman couldn’t take the chance that whoever was helping him wouldn’t simply fire at police on sight.
   He turned a corner and saw the pantleg and shoe of someone quickly moving out of sight. Voices shouted around him, and he quickly ran down the alley, sending up explosions of water as his feet hit the ground. The police were moving quickly, but Norman had to be quicker. This was his only chance to keep Ethan Mars alive, and he’d be damned if he was going to let Blake wallow in self-infatuation.
   Norman pushed off the wall as he turned, jumping over fallen trashcans as he sprinted down the alley. The sounds of the police were getting further away, and his anxiety grew as he realized he was alone. He reached another crossroads between the buildings and paused a moment, looking in all directions. The trail was fading quickly. Ethan had vanished.
   Making a quick decision, Norman turned and moved quickly to the left. It would be just his luck if Ethan Mars got away entirely. It wouldn’t be the first time Norman had lost all hope of getting answers.
   He paused at another crossroads, stopping to catch his breath. He had no idea where he was, and he ran a frustrated hand across his wet face. It’d be a miracle if he was even able to find his way back to the apartment again.
   There was a sudden splash to his right, and Norman turned, breath caught in his throat. He raised his gun. “Stop! Police!”
   Two figures stood several meters away behind a tall chainlink fence. They clenched eachother side by side, and as they turned, Norman was able to distinguish the frame of a small woman supporting a slumped man around the waist. Norman’s hands shook as he moved slowly forward. It was Ethan Mars. Ragged, bloodied, and barely alive.
   For a frantic moment, Norman struggled to decide what to do. He had them pinned, but the chainlink fence was too high for him to climb easily, and the woman would no doubt be able to drag Ethan to safety in the time it took Norman to climb over it. He stared at the figures, gazing at the woman’s face. Her short hair was plastered to her skin from the wet rain, and her eyes were weary in defeat. She held Ethan’s arm over her shoulder and slouched, panting heavily from the effort of holding him up. As he watched them, a calm resolution spread through his body. These people had been through one hell of a fight. He thought he knew what despair and hardship was. The slumped and moaning man in front of him was the embodiment of it.
   Norman made a quick decision before he could talk himself out of it. He tilted his gun sideways, and dropped his arms slowly. Then he took a deep breath. “Help him find his son,” he called over the rain.
   The woman gazed at him, her expression barely changing. Agonizing apprehension tugged at his nerves, and the woman turned away, helping Ethan to limp down the alley. Norman could hardly believe what he’d done. He’d just let Ethan Mars go. And the only hope of discovering the location of the well.
   Norman turned slowly back the way he’d come, pressing his hands to the side of his head, barrel of the pistol pointed upwards. Then his heart stopped in his chest. A figure was standing in front of him, firearm raised.
   Ashley’s hands shook as she pointed her gun at him, fierce bewilderment alight in her eyes. Norman lowered his hands, feeling his body go numb. Panic racked his brain as he fought to say something. Anything. She had to understand. It wasn’t what it seemed.
   Her eyes flicked past him at the stumbling figures on the other side of the alley, then locked on him again, fiery accusation lined in her face. Norman moved toward her slowly, holding out a hand in protest. He had to stay in the way. At least prevent her from being able to fire on them until they turned the corner. Yet at the same time, he felt as if he was tearing open an already bleeding wound. If she didn’t hate him before, she would certainly hate him now.
   As much as it made the shame burn in his chest, he continued to gaze into Ashley’s eyes. They narrowed at him, her innocent face betraying a combination of frustration and confusion. Then her hand moved to her belt, bringing a walkie-talkie to her mouth.
   “Blake─” Her head tilted sideways into the walkie-talkie as she continued to look at Norman. All his hope dashed away. He’d really made a mess of things this time. Ethan Mars was half dead and lost in the crowd of the city. The chances of him finding his son were slim at best. Norman might as well have condemned both of them to death.
   “What is it? Did you find Ethan Mars?” Blake’s voice rang through the comm.
   Norman lowered his eyes to the ground, unable to take the guilt anymore. He couldn’t explain why he’d made the decision so quickly. There were so many other things he could have done. For the first time in his career, he made a choice that felt right, not what was logical. He was going to have a hard time explaining that to the judge. Especially after the ninth body was found.
   Ashley breathed in deeply next to him, and Norman felt his body freeze. “We lost them.”
   For a moment, time seemed to stop. He looked up at her, and the expression on her face had changed. Her eyes were softer. More understanding, yet still untrusting. She lowered the walkie-talkie and her gun, standing in the rain as if defeated.
    “What the hell do you mean ‘we lost them?’” Blake’s frustrated voice was garbled. “God damn mother fucking fucker…”
   The sound of the rain overtook the silence. Norman gazed at Ashley, not knowing what to say. She had no reason to help him. Not after the way he treated her. And yet here she was, helping an FBI agent that her whole department hated. He felt an overwhelming gratitude, but a cloud of shame still hung over him. He moved closer, reaching his hand to her shoulder.
   “Ashley…” He stopped as she took a step backward, moving her arm out of the way. The frustration returned to her eyes, and she put her gun back into her holster. Before Norman could say another word, splashes echoed down the alleyway. A group of police entered the crossroads, looking left and right with their guns in all directions.
   “Did you see where they went?” asked one of the officers. “They couldn’t have gone far.”
   Ashley threw Norman an anxious glance. “They didn’t come down this way. We searched.”
   “God damn it.” One of the officers pulled at the chainlink fence. “We had them fucking surrounded. How the hell did they get away?” They moved around, dropping their hands as they filed back down the alley.
   Norman turned to Ashley, his throat sore. He waited until the police were further away. “Thank you,” he said.
   Ashley shrugged her shoulders and pursed her lips. “Pretty sure I’m gonna regret it later. This could cost me my badge.” She looked at him and opened her mouth as if to continue, then she sighed, turning away.
   “You saved two lives just now, Ashley,” said Norman. “That’s not something to regret.”
   “No one can be sure of that,” she said. Then she stopped suddenly, and tilting her head. “And Norman…”
   He took a step toward her. “Yeah?”
   She twisted to look back at him, her eyebrows narrowed. “Fuck you.” She strapped the walkie-talkie to her belt and continued down the alley, leaving Norman alone in the rain.
Heavy Rain: ARI Chapter 9: Fugitive
Chapter 1: The Dog fav.me/da8aocw
Chapter 2: ARI fav.me/da8slgu
Chapter 3: Briefing fav.me/da98lj1
Chapter 4: She-Devil fav.me/da9qdbj
Chapter 5: Good Cop, Bad Cop fav.me/daairtc
Chapter 6: Separate Ways fav.me/dab5787
Chapter 7: The Well fav.me/dabu9vk
Chapter 8: Karma fav.me/dadczmz
-
Chapter 10: Triptocaine fav.me/daf9cff
Chapter 11: Clue fav.me/dahv3ff
Chapter 12: Mad Jack fav.me/dain80c

God damn motherfucking fucker fuck! I love it when Blake rages. 
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Because I got flagged by Deviantart for trying to send thank yous to all 200 or so far who've favorited and given me llamas LOL  Here's a big thank you to you guys! You're all awesome!

Warfstache Thank You by Laffeetaffee

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:iconcookiesophie:
cookiesophie Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Happy birthday ,baby . Hope you had a great day. :heart:
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:iconsophoreal:
SoPhoReal Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
OMG!! I absolutely love your Markiplier drawings! They are so life like!
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:iconlaffeetaffee:
Laffeetaffee Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2016  Professional General Artist
Lol thanks I like drawing him the best =D The glasses and the big chin
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:iconloxythefoxy:
LoxyTheFoxy Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2016  Student Digital Artist
OMG your art is beyond fantabulous!
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Renegad3Spectre Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
your art is so fabulous!
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:iconlaffeetaffee:
Laffeetaffee Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2015  Professional General Artist
Lol thanks I try hard
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ChaoKitty Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you so much for watching !!Heart 3D
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Rosedge Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
AWESOME!
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LacrimosaART Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2015  Student General Artist
I discovered it's best to take a picture of your art on a fresh sunny day! :happybounce: Sun's light is the best! CURSE YOU! 
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:iconlaffeetaffee:
Laffeetaffee Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2015  Professional General Artist
Definitely! As much ambient light as you can get, and sunlight is best. I would kill for a sunroof in my studio :eager: by darkmoon3636 All I got is a dingy little window
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