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100 Themes Challenge, Minot Edition: #4

THEME: 4. "Rivalry"
STORYLINE: D Is For Damien storyline, Minot spinoff series, Missing Pieces (unwritten novel)
RATING: R (adult language, adult themes, mild violence)
WORD COUNT: 3100+ words
SUMMARY: The earlier themed piece for #2, "Complicated," ties in with this one. In that piece (which I believe actually takes place after this piece), Det. Max Kristeva attempts to explain Det. Michelle Rosedale's estranged brother's odd behavior by essentially outing himself...as having multiple personalities. Needless to say, Rosedale is shocked, and rather in disbelief, until it becomes clear there can be no other explanation--her beloved younger brother Jason Rosedale, kidnapped as a child, has resurfaced as the sociopathic heroin addict/former prostitute/cult hitman Jay Campion. In this scene, you get to see the other side of the coin, from Jason "Jay" Campion's POV. There has apparently been a confrontation between the two on the Souris Narrows Bridge (completely fictional location, BTW)...I don't know all the details as all this stuff is unwritten, but during this encounter, Kristeva nearly shoots Campion while a previously unknown alter, "Number Six," is out; the situation is defused only when Kristeva's partner, Det. Chance Devetko (who is aware of his DID), counts to "Number Three," at which point the alter Number Three takes over. I believe this is when Campy realizes that, hello hello, his enemy is in much the same state he is. Somehow during this encounter Kristeva realizes the same thing about Campy though I'm not sure how yet. *shrug* The primary difference is that while Campion's fully aware of his DID and has been consciously manipulating his system for years, Kristeva "Number One" has only just started to accept his multiple state and still has little control over it (hence why Numbers Two and Three have to handle much of the work)--this explains his difficulty in the scene with Rosedale. Anyway. Of course, discovering that the guy who was just about to kill him is a lot more like him than he'd thought piques Campy's interest and puts Kristeva on a whole other level for him. He starts to see him as not merely somebody to take down or manipulate, but as a potentially worthy rival. In effect, Kristeva becomes the only antagonist Campion actually rather respects. (Oh. BTW. Manuela is Campy's favorite prostitute (another vice of his, alongside chain-smoking). She's also a preop transsexual and so technically is still male. Campy found that out the hard way and it didn't bother him one bit. Just in case you were wondering.)
DISCLAIMER: I am not seeking grammar/style/publication critique for this item; I'm not trying to get published, and am content with my writing style, and just wish to entertain others. Feel free to point out errors that aren't just a matter of style preference (e. g., typos). Comments and questions on characters, plot, etc. are more than welcome. All characters, unless otherwise stated, are copyright © tehuti/tehuti_88. If you wish to share this item with others please send them a link.

Campion pushed up the lid of the laptop and switched it on. He lit himself a cigarette, the smoke detector having long since been disconnected, and shook out the match, glancing over his shoulder while he waited for the computer to boot up.

Manuela was sound asleep in the motel bed behind him and was even snoring a little by now. He stared at her, and at the way the sheets were twisted around her ankle, for a moment before turning back to the computer and logging in. He doubted she'd give him any trouble should she wake up. They'd dealt with such things already. She knew when to mind her own business.

There was a reason he always selected motels with Wi-Fi, and this was it. One never knew when they'd have to look something up. By now he knew all the places to look to find the information he wanted, as long as that information was on the Internet. Granted, not all information was online, but there was usually more than most people suspected.

When the search box loaded he typed in MAXWELL KRISTEVA MINOT and hit enter. He took a pull on his cigarette, then leaned toward the monitor as if it were hard to read, scanning the first page of results.

He doubted adding the word "Minot" was completely necessary, given how unusual the detective's surname was--when he'd searched it in the past almost all the results had something to do with some feminist writer--but perhaps it would prove useful. Here were the kinds of results he expected. Brief news articles and summaries of press conferences called by the local police departments. He was surprised, however, at just how few there were. And whenever Kristeva's name came up, he seemed to occupy relatively little of the article in question. Campion frowned and scrolled through various pages, assuming at first that the press, as usual, were giving woefully short shrift to the police who actually did all the work, but after a while of reading he began to realize that wasn't the case at all. Kristeva showed up so infrequently because he wanted to show up infrequently.

Curious, Campion sought out videos and brought one up. It was exactly the same here. At press conferences, it was usually someone else, the chief or the lieutenant, who did most of the talking; whenever Kristeva had to talk, he showed no reluctance in doing so, but neither did he show any desire to hog the limelight. He kept his statements terse and to the point. He never got melodramatic or forceful or teary eyed and even when holding up photos of missing children said nothing to appeal to weepy pity or righteous indignation. He merely stated the facts of whatever case he was talking about, gave the appropriate contact information, and bowed out. If Campion wanted to learn anything whatsoever about his private personality, he would never learn it from watching or reading his interviews.

Campion absently left one of the videos playing while he opened up another window and attempted searching out more personalized information, something that could prove more useful. He only half listened to the detective's monotone recital of some random case.

"...Missing's name is Melinda Lucia Melendez. She is four years old, Hispanic, with wavy black hair and brown eyes, pierced ears, and a small mole on her left cheek. She was last seen in her grandparents' backyard on Andersen Street, around five PM this past Tuesday, and was wearing a pink dress and light blue shirt..."

"KRISTEVA FAMILY REUNION." That was a new one, buried way down somewhere on the sixth or seventh page. What do you know, they even had their own website with photos and everything. A bit of reading around informed him that said reunions had been going on once every few years or so for quite a long while. A bit more reading had him just about convinced this was the same family, given how close they lived to Minot. He located a photo album complete with group pictures from each gathering, at least, those that were available. He squinted at the most recent photo but the detective was nowhere in it. He did the same with each preceding photo; same results. He was about to give up when he finally came across him, in a photograph that had been taken well over a decade before. There he was, around the middle right; a young woman had her arm looped through his. He recognized her from some of the later photos; scanning over the list of names gave him CHRISTINA KRISTEVA. That meant nothing whatsoever to him; all he knew was, while she had shown up at later reunions, he hadn't, and look as he might, Campion couldn't find him in any earlier photographs either. He gave up when he realized he would have to be looking for a boy rather than an adult, and closed that window.

"Asocial, huh?" he said to himself, taking in and letting out a mouthful of smoke. He closed the search results and opened up a folder on the desktop. This was full of saved articles, both ones he'd found himself as well as ones he'd been sent or had pointed out to him. There were also several e-mails, a brief exchange he'd had with one of his employers when he'd been just starting out in this line of work.

From: jstuartrose@gmail.com (He hated that e-mail address, absolutely hated it, but his employers had insisted on him not using either his original name or his assumed name, and so he'd been forced to go with his first initial, middle name, and a partial surname.)
To: fgmichelson43@gmail.com (Also an assumed name, he presumed.)
Subj: Info

I like to know at least a little bit about what I'm getting into. The info you provided already isn't nearly enough for comfort. Mind letting me know who I'm dealing with? Otherwise I'm afraid our deal is off.


From: fgmichelson43@gmail.com
To: jstuartrose@gmail.com
Subj: Re: Info

You'll be told only what you need to know as per our agreement. No changing the rules now. You knew what you were getting into. We requested no unnecessary questions asked.


From: jstuartrose@gmail.com
From: fgmichelson43@gmail.com
Subj: Info 2

No "unnecessary" questions. So give me the necessary info, genius, or find yourself another guinea pig. Or are there no more guinea pigs with my particular set of talents available?


From: fgmichelson43@gmail.com
To: jstuartrose@gmail.com
Subj: Re: Info 2

Fair enough. You already know your primary subj.'s name and job. No going near him at this point in time in case you were foggy on that. More useful alive than dead. Currently. Has a talent finding people, and that could prove helpful at some point. But could become a liability should he find out too much, hence why we needed to know whether you have any scruples or not.

Check out the exact cases he specializes in. Not the missing persons ones, the "other" ones. You'll start to get the picture. Get back to me then.


From: jstuartrose@gmail.com
To: fgmichelson43@gmail.com
Subj: Spooky shit

You mean this?

Headless animals? Goats stuck to fences? Cats hanging from trees? Disemboweled dogs? Ppl with weird marks and body parts missing? Funky candles and stuff spraypainted all over?

That kind of spooky shit? Thought that was your domain ha ha. What do you need me for?


From: fgmichelson43@gmail.com
To: jstuartrose@gmail.com
Subj: Re: Spooky shit

Yes all that. That's amateur junk and not us. You see the picture though. Your target specializes in this sort of thing. In his spare time. Brief bio. Comes from a moderately well-to-do family. Father, mother, sister. Large estate. Doctor's family. Left them after graduating and went off to become a cop of all things. Could probably go home begging for $ whenever he needs it but never has. Doesn't attend family functions, doesn't keep in touch. Only known contact with sister, very rarely with mother. Zero with father. Try to fill in the missing pieces on your own.


From: jstuartrose@gmail.com
To: fgmichelson43@gmail.com
Subj: Re: Re: Spooky shit

Aahhhhhh. Let me guess! He has the same skill set as me, doesn't he? And you're sore that you can't get him like you got me? You want me to turn him or something? Cuz that's not exactly a talent of mine.

Looks like the apple fell incredibly far from the tree ha?


From: fgmichelson43@gmail.com
To: jstuartrose@gmail.com
Subj: Stick to the plan

Yes, similar skill sets. No you're not turning him. Keep him in sight for now. Could serve us in other ways. Just make use of your own particular skill set and stick to our plan.

This discussion is over.


From: jstuartrose@gmail.com
To: fgmichelson43@gmail.com
Subj: Re: Stick to the plan

Sour grapes. Sounds like you failed.

Last word nanny-nanny-boo-boo.


Campion closed the last e-mail and shut the folder. He leaned back in his chair with a stretch that made his spine crack, and winced, rubbing at his neck. His cigarette was just about done; he stubbed it out, thought of lighting another one, refrained. As he yawned at the ceiling he thought about what he'd seen on the bridge.

The barrel of a gun pointed between one's eyes, even at a distance, tends to distract one from observing other details.

Still, he'd had sense of mind enough to see the eyes behind the barrel. He hadn't been sure to believe the e-mail, when it had claimed they had such a thing in common. Surely he would have picked up on it during his observations. Now, he knew better. Some things you just had to see in person in order to be sure.

"Number one!

"Number two!

"Number three...!"

The other cop's voice, his own gun trained on his partner. Campion had seen Kristeva blink. Only it wasn't quite a blink. It was a blink, then his eyes seemed to go white, and fluttered, and then they were staring at each other again, except now Campion was positive he was staring at someone else.

Then, he was sure.

One small mistake he'd made, he'd allowed the realization to show on his face. He must have, without knowing it, for he'd seen the detective's expression change, just slightly, and saw that he realized that Campion realized. And he had no idea how he could have been able to tell, but Campion was just about positive that he knew, as well, if the second surprised blink he'd offered had been any indication.

Yes, similar skill sets.

Back on the Internet. Despite the terse comment that the conversation was over, he'd sent another e-mail after the meeting on the bridge, just to make sure. No response so far. He checked his e-mail again and there it was. He clicked to open it and browsed its contents. "fgmichelson43" wasn't the respondent this time, now it was Henrick, the man who had come to recruit him in the first place, a mousy, fussy little man who'd proven quite entertaining in his panicky efforts to resist Campion's come-ons. The tone of his e-mail was the same as his tone in real life. Most of it was useless info but there was a bit that Campion took note of.

Yes, the same skills. But he's new to this, not like you. Still apparently figuring it out. What our other observers say, at least. You've been at this quite a while and he hasn't. You have the skills we need, he doesn't. Hence why M. doesn't want to turn him just yet. But it's not your job to turn him. Just keep an eye on him and follow the plan, and don't contact me again!

New to this...? The very idea was a strange one to him, how he could possibly be "new" to something he'd probably lived with most of his life...?

Something M. had told him when they'd met face to face:

"People with your particular talents are rare. Hard to find. And when we do find them, they usually aren't too interested in our line of work. They're usually wishy-washy women, too frail or damaged or fucked up to be of any use to us. So you can see why we can't be too picky when somebody like you comes along." He'd paused here, barely concealing the way in which he looked Campion up and down, distaste flitting across his face. Campion hadn't been offended; in fact he'd found it rather weird at first, for a cult to show such interest in picking up a streetwalker to work for them. Now that he knew it wasn't him, but his "skills" they were seeking, it made more sense. As well as their interest in a Missing Persons detective with a very low profile.

Yes, similar skill sets.

Campion stared at the e-mail as if Kristeva's picture were included in it, as if he could tell just from looking at a picture. It seemed like a waste, such a waste, if they never planned on doing anything about his skill set.

He saw the eyes fluttering and refocusing, their color changed, everything subtly changed, and remembered when it had first happened to him, how everything had changed.

Just keep an eye on him. Don't try to turn him, don't approach him if you can help it, don't take him out unless we tell you so. If it comes down to that, then you'll do it, without question. But not until then. Just keep him in your sight and stick to the plan.

It would be a waste to take out somebody like that. No matter how much he might stand for everything Campion spat on. When there were so few people with such a skill set, it would be a shame to do away with him, just because he was a cop, a cop who had his eye fixed on them.

Campion felt his mouth twitch as he absently traced circles on the tabletop with one finger. Whoever that was who'd been aiming at him, he'd looked promising. He'd looked like somebody Campion might be able to turn.

With a twinge of surprise he realized he felt no interest whatsoever in killing him. None at all. Killing him seemed ridiculous. Even if he couldn't turn him, he could still face off with him, and after what had happened on the bridge, he found that thought more interesting than anything. He'd never met somebody else with his particular skill set before. Whatever ended up happening between the two of them, it was bound to be intriguing.

It would be a shame to have to do away with that.

"Sweetiiiiieeeee..." Arms draped over his shoulders and he tensed a little before remembering Manuela; she pressed her face against his neck and nuzzled at him, leaning over the back of his chair.

"Sweetie, what're you doing! On the silly computer again? I thought we were here for a little rest and a little fun. Come back to bed. Come keep Manuela some company before you have to go again. Pleeeeeease?"

Campion snorted and shut the laptop with a click. "I thought the 'little fun' part was over with for the night? Don't you have a living to make, too?"

"Aw, c'mon, sweetie, don't be like that. Manuela can have a little fun all night long." She gave her overly girly giggle, which sometimes amused him, sometimes irritated him; it didn't matter how often he told her she was trying too hard and real women didn't giggle like that. "Granted, I'm still sleepy, but if it convinces you to get back to bed..." She left this thought unfinished, punctuating it with another kiss to his cheek, then squeezed him tight. "Please?"

Campion shoved the laptop away and pushed his chair back in order to stand, having to be careful not to knock her over since she clung to him the entire time. He wasn't really in the mood for doing anything else tonight, but if it would shut her up for a little while, and let him think without her wheedling in his ear, then he could put up with it. "Well, sweetheart, I'm not a mind reader. You want anything in particular, you'll have to let me know. Places to go and people to see, tomorrow, so whatever it is it'll have to be quick."

"Aww." Manuela stuck out her lower lip in a pout, then drew herself close again. "Well, I guess we'll just have to hurry things along, then! Nothing fancy-schmancy, just spending time with my sweet Campy is reward enough." She kissed his neck, standing on tiptoe though he wasn't much taller than she was. "C'mon, back to bed! Forgot to tell you. Manuela's been doing a little light reading in her spare time."

"Oh?" He let her lead him back toward the bed, noticing how she flounced. "Nothing like a little light reading to get one off."

"Oh! Nothing like that, sweetie, please don't be so crass! No, turns out there's this funny little book thingy called the Kama Sutra and Manuela's been making her way through it..."

Campion let out a barking laugh that startled her. "You're only just learning about this now? Sweetheart, I really never thought I'd be telling you of all people this, but, you seriously need to get out more."

"Oh? And I suppose Mr. Campy-Pampy's been studying the Kama Sutra for years!"

"Sweetheart, Mr. Campy-Pampy's never had to study the Kama Sutra, and if Manuela ever calls him Mr. Campy-Pampy again, she's gonna find her throat cut."

Manuela stuck her tongue out at him. She'd long grown inured to his threats, something he felt he might have to work on. Perhaps finding his knife at her throat sometime would help convince her he could be serious. "Pfft, sourpuss! D'you want Manuela to show you what she's been learning, or not?"

"Just as long as it's from the abridged version. Like I said, places to go, people to see."

"Your loss, sweetie."

She grasped him by the wrist and hopped into the bed, pulling him along after her. He was barely even paying attention anymore, keeping his current thoughts split from whatever his body was doing, something he was good at. He could be a million miles away without anyone ever knowing, and right now, he was in the police station, watching a solitary sleepless figure staring at missing people on a flickering computer monitor in the darkened main room, pondering how unalike and yet alike they were. Manuela giggled again, but he didn't even notice. He fixed on the gray eyes watching the results flit by on the computer screen, compared/contrasted them to the gray eyes that had stared him down on the bridge, and thought, finally, here was somebody worthy of being called a real rival.

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